Spring Recap

Wow! Time flies – It is already July and I haven’t been blogging as much as I would like to. Here’s a little recap of my spring!

My garden bloomed with bleeding hearts and green ferns:

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I made and ate this amazing steak sandwich:

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I found this amazing aged goat cheese at Mandro’s Imported Foods ~and I highly recommend eating it if you get the chance!

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My indoor peace lily bloomed with a double flower… which I can only take to mean that my life will be very peaceful for a while.

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I went to Smorgasburg in DUMBO and ate some amazing foods! Post on this later to come.

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Spent a bunch of time enjoying music with friends in downtown Lancaster:

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I grew a potato plant from an organic potato and it started sprouting little potatoes. The students went crazy over this at school! They were amazed at how potatoes grow:

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I celebrated Derby day/ Cinco De Mayo/ my friend’s birthday in style with hats and mint juleps:

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I started grilling and ate a lot of salads that looked like this:

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Backyard gatherings started taking place… rain or shine.

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It became nice enough outside to bring Monk to the Fridge for outside snacks!

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We started taking a lot of hikes again in Lancaster County Central Park. It was warm enough for monk to dive in the river and wet enough to see a lot of fungus:

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My husband and Monk looking extra cute and picture perfect:

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Fire season started! I love sitting around a fire outside on beautiful evenings enjoying time with friends!

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I learned how to run the cotton candy machine for the dance at school! I got pretty good and swirling that blue floss around a stick… I am now available for hire for all of your cotton candy needs 🙂

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We took a field trip to Hershey Park at school. I’m not sure who had more fun… the teachers or the students.

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The strawberry festival took place at Lancaster Central Market – and those homegrown strawberries and Thom’s Bread shortcake tasted delicious!

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I’ll tell you about June tomorrow – Happy Summer!

 

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Central Market: some new stands for 2013!

There’s some new stands popping up at the Lancaster Central Market  this year. I thought I spread the word about a few…

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Pureblend Tea serves up specialty tea lattes and Matcha – all organic. I’ve had two tea lattes so far and they were both really good! I tried the blackberry chaikhana and the chocolate chai latte. I liked the teas, just one heads up – some of the lattes have flavor syrup in them. My blackberry tea had blackberry syrup – which wasn’t bad – I was just expecting blackberries in with the tea leaves. Sometimes the syrups are a little too sweet for me. The chocolate chai was yummy, it only had a hint of chocolate right in with the tea leaves. I did decline the square of organic dark chocolate that could have been added to it. I am sure it is good however you order – like a hot chocolate chai.

I am really excited for the opening of Oasis. I saw a sign on a corner stand (that used to be Senorita Burrita) advertising their opening. They will have organic dairy products. I have recently switched over to organic milk instead of drinking soy milk all the time. I’m sure this stand will help me with that.

Also new for 2013 – I am trying really hard not to shop at big grocery stores. I am only allowing myself one visit a month to a chain grocery store like Giant. My husband has gone on a little health kick and has changed his diet – I am following suit. Mostly our switches are to organic dairy products, different types of sugars, cutting out the white flour (I haven’t cut the pasta yet), and making sure we are getting plenty of veggies. I am also trying to buy as local as I can this year. I think that we eat pretty healthy already so it hasn’t been to hard – So far it is going very well. I am definitely cutting down the grocery bill, mostly because I am not buying a bunch of unnecessary items at the grocery store.

But back to Market…

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Rooster Street Provisions specializes in awesome pork products!!! I got their italian sausage this past saturday. I added it to some homemade sauce and poured it over pasta. I loved it! it is worth all these exclamation points!! I can not wait to go back and try some of their other cured meats. I’ll visit them on saturday and pick out something else extra special to snack on. If you want to see some pretty pics of their products – check out their instagram page @roosterst. I also love their yellow framed chalkboard and wooden counters at their stand. Beautifully done!

On the other side of Rooster Street Provisions is…

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Shady Maple – chock-full of baked goods. I haven’t tried anything from here yet… I just noticed that their new sign is huge! What a contrast to the Rooster Street stand. Everyone loves a little variety, right?

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I did pick up a lonely looking cupcake at Wendy Jo’s. This stand has been at market for a while and it continues to be delicious.

Right next to Wendy Jo’s is a food stand called Comfort Bakehouse. They make all kinds of foods from meatloaf to eggs… all in muffin tins! All of their offerings look quite tasty. I’m going to give them a try this week. I’ll have to decide between breakfast or lunch… or maybe I’ll just get both!

I’ve tried Thom’s bread a few times now. They make a pretty solid loaf of bread – actually it is pretty crispy and fresh, not quite solid. The rosemary has been my favorite – but get there early – they have been sold out the last two weekends that I went to market. I have also enjoyed the kalamata olive – we had it with some delicious pasta last weekend. It’s perfect for dipping into sunday sauce.

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I made this super sandwich with a Rustic Italian boule from Thom’s on Saturday. Everything else on this sandwich was also from market – avocado, alfalfa sprouts, mustard greens, smokey turkey and sharp cheddar cheese. If you didn’t notice… there’s my carrot cupcake… it was scrumptious and I enjoyed it very much… I ate all of it!

Remember Central Market is open Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays! Hope to see you there!

Sandwich Wednesday: Banh Mi

Last Friday, we ordered take out. I really wanted Vietnamese so we ordered from Rice and Noodles.

I always get a vermicelli salad bowl but Dan suggested trying something different this time. We decided to get one of the Banh Mi sandwiches.

The first time I had one of these sandwiches was in NYC in the East Village. I visited Nicky’s Vietnamese sandwich shop because I saw it featured on a Food Network show. That place had bangin’ sandwiches! I tried a classic one with the chicken liver pate and one with a grilled pork chop. I really liked Nick’y version that included cilantro, carrot, and cucumbers on a crispy toasted bun.

Back to our take-out adventure…

We decided on the Banh Mi Pate Thit:

It’s made with their own homemade rolled ham with chicken liver pate. It’s built on a short loaf of French bread. They also make their own mayonnaise. The other additions include Chinese radishes, carrots, sliced onions, a thick slice of English cucumber and a sliver of jalapeno.

I would recommend it! I thought it was really good and I am happy I tried something new.

Sandwich Wednesday – Rosemary Ham

I took a walk over to  Mandros Imported Foods a few times this week to gather up some snacks for Christmas gatherings. Mandros is my favorite place to find different cheeses to try. It is a great little corner store that has a lot of gourmet food items. I love that it’s only a block away from my house because I can run over there when ever I need something special. They have everything you need to make a great cheese plate or antipasti appetizer.

The selection of Italian deli meats is excellent. I love the Genoa salami that they carry… and I am pretty picky about my salami. I decided to try the rosemary ham to make a sandwich to eat with my mushroom soup. It is super flavorful, fresh, high quality ham in wrapped in a rosemary crust and thinly sliced, perfect for sandwiches.

My sandwich is made with salted basque bread from Ric’s Bread. I spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard on one slice and piled up the rosemary ham, creamy Havarti cheese, alfalfa sprouts, and my homemade chopped pickled fennel. It’s a good sandwich of wintery soups.

NOLA Eats – Po’Boys for Sandwich Wednesday!

I started looking through some of my vacation photos this week and it’s been making me miss summer. I never finished blogging about my week in New Orleans. I was really on the go with no time to hang out at the computer. I’ll be sharing some more vacation posts this week, just because I’m kind of missing summer…

I ate a few Po’boys throughout the week. After our day at the Audubon Zoo we stopped at Mahony’s, one of Dan’s favorite spots.

In addition to being all talked up by Dan, Mahony’s has been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network. Dan keeps telling me of this Pork Belly and Pepper Jelly sandwich that they make sometimes… if you’re lucky enough to be there when they have it on the menu.  He claims that it is his favorite sandwich ever. That’s a big claim, to say a sandwich is your favorite sandwich of all time. So I was excited to try this elusive sandwich… no luck the day we were there – it’s a special they rarely have, Dan must have gotten lucky last time… or is he making it up? We will never know.

I ordered the grilled shrimp and friend green tomato po’boy with remoulade sauce, along with super skinny fried onion rings.


It was good, I was stuffed by the time I got to the end of it. The shrimp was cooked well and not over done. The Fried green tomatoes were great and it had remoulade sauce spread on it. I think it probably could have used a little more remoulade.

Dan got the cochon sandwich with creole cole slaw. I have to be honest… this was the superior po’boy. They meat was cooked perfectly and the cole slaw was creamy and delicious. It was very well-balanced. yum.

I ate my second po’boy at a restaurant outside of New Orleans in a way smaller town called Lafitte. It was on the way back from our awesome air boat ride through the swamps where our boat captain feed marshmallows to the gators.

The restaurant was called Restaurant des Familles because it was right on the Bayou des Familles. It doesn’t look like much from the front but it was actually a pretty fancy restaurant inside. The whole back of the building is a wall of windows that’s right up against the water and you can gator watch while you eat.

I started with a cup of Gumbo.

And then I had the fried catfish po’boy.

It was pretty awesome.

I think I had a pretty good po’boy experience while in Louisiana. There are a bunch of places that I didn’t get to go to… so I already have my sandwiches picked out for my next visit!

Sandwich Wednesday! – Italian Filone

Sandwich Wednesday! Why? Because Wednesday is right in the middle of the week, sandwiched!

For my first Sandwich Wednesday I’m featuring my Italian Filone.

This is another photo taken by Jason Bleecher. I think he made this sandwich look extra good!

Filone is a type of bread that is like a big fat baguette with crusty outside and soft inside. I stuffed it with Italian meats from Mandros Imported Foods. They have the best selection of cheeses in Lancaster – if you’re from around Lancaster, you have to stop in and try some! They also have awesome salami.

The Sandwich starts of with an olive tapenade made with kalamata olives, capers and roasted red peppers. I layered on capicola, mortadela, genoa salami, and provolone cheese.  It’s topped with spring mix and red onion. I hollowed out the top to the bread so that all the sandwich filling could fit inside.

Vacation Eats – Tar Pits and Hitting the Road

Back to the California trip… It’s about time for a famous eatery stop. So on Wednesday (August 3rd) we had hot dogs for breakfast.

We choose Pink’s Famous Hot Dog Stand on LaBrea Avenue in Hollywood. Pinks has dozens of condiments and topping combinations on their famous dogs. The specials are named after famous stars, chefs, TV personalities and landmarks.

I chose the Emeril BAM! Dog. Emeril has a new show called The Originals that featured Pinks on one of the episodes about LA. It airs on the Cooking channel if you’re interested in finding it.

This special dog had cheese, jalapenos, mustard, onions, bacon, and cole slaw. I had to take a lot of the jalapenos off because there were so many they were falling out of the bun. I also am not a huge fan of pickled jalapenos, or bacon for that matter, but the cole slaw pulled me into picking this dog. The combination overall was BAM good, I would get it again!

Janeen got the Pastrami Reuben Dog, not named after any celebrity but I think it was famous all by itself. it was loaded with sauerkraut, pastrami, swiss cheese, and mustard. I tried it and it was a mouthful of meat. there was so much pastrami on it, it was falling all over the place. It was a fine dog.

With our bellies full of hot dogs we drove through Miracle Mile and into the La Brea Tar Pits. I’m kind of a science nerd so I thought this stop was great. The Page Museum held a lot of the fossils they excavated from the tar pits. There are also open sites that they are working on that you could observe.

We drove back across Hollywood into Echo Park to eat a late lunch at The Park restaurant, which the wonderful Erin caters to the lunch time crowd. Janeen and I had an identical lunch today. We both got Lucifer Ale, a nice light Belgian with hints of apple.

The Park has sandwich specials that all looked so good it made it really hard to choose just one. I went with some thing kind of light because I ate the hotdog for breakfast… I enjoyed the avocado and Gruyère sandwich piled high with avocado, Gruyère cheese, tomato, and lettuce. I added crispy onions, as per Erin’s recomendtion and spread some Dijon on the grilled whole wheat sourdough bread.

It was nice light and delicious, perfect after a morning of looking at gas bubble out of pits of black asphalt smelling pits.

So we headed out late that afternoon to drive up the coast. We had one perfect stop as we made our way North. I was reading “taste of Santa Barbara” magazine in the car and telling Janeen about this amazing looking Gelato in Montecito. A little bit later she noticed that we were passing Montecito on the highway and said “wasn’t something in Montecito? oh yea, isn’t the Gelato place there?” So I checked the magazine and yes! So we pulled off the exit and 2 minutes down the road we were stopping at Here’s the Scoop for a Gelato dinner.

This place it definitely worth the stop! They let you try any flavor you want and they make everything with local ingredients. Yes, I realize I keep writing about these places using local, organic ingredients, but I am drawn to that so I am either a sucker for people writing local on everything or I just pick really awesome places… probably a little bit of both. Anyway… The gelato and sorbet are out of this world awesome at this place.

I tasted the lavender lemon flavor which was crisp and refreshing but I ultimately decided on one scoop coconut, one scoop chocolate strawberry in a waffle cone. Janeen got Italian chocolate chip (which tasted like cannoli filling) and espresso in a chocolate waffle cone.  All flavors got my stamp of approval and left me wanting more.

Vacation Eats – Malibu and Jeff Goldblum

We have been having some jam-packed days here in LA! I have been so busy that I hardly have time to write. On Monday (August 1st), we headed to Malibu for some beauty and beach time.
We started off the day right with a good breakfast. We went to there’s no place like Home restaurant in Los Feliz. I went here once before when I was in California. Last time, I had the breakfast burrito. It was giant and really good. Erin got the breakfast burrito this time (I think it is her favorite). This place has a good deal on breakfast. There’s a special before 11am – $6.50 for any of the starred menu items – what a deal! And all the starred items looked like they were the best things on the menu to me.
I couldn’t decide what to get so I shared two things with Janeen. We ordered the California breakfast sandwich. It had eggs, two kinds of cheese, tomatoes, avocado, lettuce, and chipotle mayo on sourdough bread. I ordered the side of fruit. It was fresh and full of watermelon, honeydew, blackberries, and cantaloupe.

We also shared the Pomodoro Omelette. It was filled with tomatoes, basil and feta cheese. It also came with sourdough bread and a side of Spanish style home fries that were kind of like short french fries with peppers and onions. I haven’t eaten lunch or dinner here, but I give this restaurant a big thumbs up!


We took highway 101 to Malibu Canyon Road and drove through a deep cut canyon into Malibu. We stopped at a grocery store to get some supplies called Hows Market. Unfortunately, it is going out of business so I don’t know what will be there in the future but it was a deal for us because everything was 20% off. We packed a cooler with goodies and headed to the El Matador state beach.
You have to climb down the cliffs to get to the beach, but it is totally worth it! The beach is rocky and beautiful. There are large outcrops of rocks jutting up out of the water.

There were numerous professional (and unprofessional) photo shoots happening. We took a bunch of pictures and relaxed on the beach.

It became rather windy just as we decided to bust out our discount goods to eat. We made some salami and cheese sandwiches, and I mean SAND-wiches. We also noshed on olives, pickles, and Trader Joe’s black bean dip… awesome beach snacks.

We headed back down to LA after a great day on the beach. We didn’t have that much time to get dinner so we went to Leela Thai, right by Erin’s house in Silver Lake. There are countless Thai places in LA. There are probably two or more per block in some places! So I’m happy we had some since it is so abundant.
Leela Thai is a nice little restaurant with outside seating. I ordered a Thai Iced Tea. Thai Iced Tea is usually too sweet for me but this one was pretty good, it was sweet but not overly done. They also brought us our water in small metal cups that seemed to keep the water ice cold (with no ice in it) the entire time we were eating.


I had the Pad Thai with chicken. It was pretty standard but really good. It really hit the spot after a sunny beach day.

So… we went in to Hollywood for the evening and what we saw was pretty amazing. We walked into a guest only event at Cafe Was… The Jeff Goldblum jazz ensemble. yes, that is correct, Jeff Goldblum has a jazz band, and he plays piano. He is also extremely excited and animated while he is playing the piano.

One thing I noticed about Hollywood places is that they really don’t have a good beer selection. Either people don’t like good beer around here or they are just really into wine and cocktails (probably the latter). We did get to meet Jeff Goldblum at set break. He was pretty excited to take a picture with three hot girls. That was beautiful, yes, thank you…

Janeen had her first In-n-Out Burger experience after the show. We went to the location in Hollywood that was packed late at night. I thought it was pretty funny that we went when we were all dressed up!

We ordered a standard cheese burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, ketchup and their In-n-Out Burger sauce. While I didn’t love it, it was definitely better than the Whopper/Big Mac. It at least had a real toasted bun and way better lettuce and tomato. People really love In-n-Out Burger here. I don’t know how often I would eat it but I have a feeling I would stop here more then McDonald’s or Burger King, it is way better than those two places. I think we might give it another shot while we are out here and try ordering from the “secret menu” next time.