little sarah Big World

Tag: food

My Newest Thing

…is keeping secrets.

Not for secrecy’s, sake, but for some semblance of self-preservation, a recognition of self worth, that myself and my thoughts, plans and ideas, are to some degree sacred. Not meant to be shared so openly with just whomever.

So where I used to consult everyone I knew about Big Decisions to be made, now I just ask one or two close friends, or I just figure it out myself. Where I used to broadcast my Life Plans and Big Ideas, now I keep them to myself, because I am my own best friend, and I love sharing secrets with just me.

In other news: Kevin moved home from Spain. Last Wednesday. I made him salmon with an orange zest/brown sugar/soy sauce rub, wild rice with shiitake mushrooms, and collard greens cooked with mustard and topped with toasted sesame seeds.

So that’s two secrets right there–Kevin’s back and I can cook.

Savor

I had to text my Eric friend the other morning to ask him, “…where did all of this self-love come from? Im enjoying it, but i also find myself asking ‘why now?’ ”

Because I don’t fully understand it, Friends. Something I’ve been striving for for so long–a sense of grace, of calm and peace and joy–is suddenly within my grasp. All I had to do was let go.

More and more I spend my time as I please, and every moment–every movement–seems delicate and sweet. Like making lists, reading in bed right when I wake up, tidying the apartment, and baking banana bread.

It was a rare slow morning, a “day off” I believe it’s called, though it’s been so long, who can remember? So I blissed out, enjoyed every aspect of it. The soft sunlight shining in through the kitchen window, circles of brown sugar and white flower. Soothing stirring and pouring motions. Listening to the Temptations and wearing a fancy apron. All of it.

And so maybe you folks will not be as into these photos as I was, but I seriously appreciated every step in the process, every angle and curve. Therefore, I documented:

I like the way everything comes together with baking. You measure, mix, and it’s like magic, the way it turns into something more than the sum of the parts. Except when its a disaster. Then I throw a tantrum. But not this day. This day I had a morning to myself, a spot of sunlight to dance in, and a delicious chocolate chip banana bread muffin.

…which I could only eat half of. So then I stopped. Just like I stopped going to CrossFit, for the time being, because I prefer running and yoga to weight training.

I think this is what they call “listening to your body and your self,” which is also a novel approach for me. Because a easy, peaceful morning can just as easily slide into a 48-hour work week, leaving me with an eye twitch and a need to seriously re-asses my priorities.

Because lately little sarah Big World Traveler would like nothing more than to settle down for a minute, commit to the plans I’ve made for right here, right now. Work less, relax more. Then maybe more mornings could be filled with baking, blogging, and self love.

As opposed to, you know, waking up at 5:30 and working until 9pm. I don’t want that anymore. I want to savor the moment.

The Seasons, They Go Round and Round

~OR~

We’re Captive on a Carousel of Time

(Joni Mitchel)

Ah, but where does the time go? It seems not even a year ago that I was making Passover puns in poor taste…

…probably because it wasn’t even a year ago. Sometimes seder  has to be moved up a few weeks, to accommodate world travelers. And–as Joey pointed out–it’s usually “a bit more reverent.” Listen, we do what we want.

But oh, we have fun.

Except…except this year’s (early) Passover seder turned into a metaphor for my life:

Everyone was having a good time eating and drinking and wanting to dance all night, but then they all got distracted talking about relationship troubles and babies and the seasons of our lives.

And I still just wanted to dance.

Milestones

~OR~

Please Let Me Remember Tomorrow That I Dropped Picked-Off Nail Polish Into a Water Glass and Not Just Re-Fill It and Start A-Drinking

 Tonight my mom asked me why I’d decided to become a vegan.

Then she listened carefully to the answer. And later she seriously considered my suggestion that she eat more whole grains.

It was pretty bad-ass.

*       *       *

Yesterday I went to brunch at Vertical Diner with Nicole friend. We had both been pretty shit-faced in public the night before. She’d rambled on to an acquaintance at a bar, and I’d negotiated with a high school-aged Jamba Juice employee. Milestones. 

I am not yet too old to be publicly intoxicated. I have not yet reached Patsy and Eddy status. But someday, when I do reach that point, I will be okay with it.

SO okay.

*       *       *

Anyways, the point is that Nicole and I have decided to regress to high school levels of debauchery. And I’m okay with that as well, Friends. I’m okay with staying out late and having sleepovers and making bad choices and giggling and hanging out with my friends as though they were my very life-blood.

No parents, no rules.

(Which at this age means not only that my folks aren’t around, but also that I, myself, am not a parent).

Except my mom IS around. And we drink two gin and tonics (each) on a Monday night. And shoot the shit.

Then I come home and blog.

*       *       *

You’re Welcome!

Brewtah

 

~OR~

This is How We Brew It

(in Utah)

You might think of Utah as a conservative Mormon-filled wasteland. And you’re right! Sort of. But just as an oasis appears in the desert, so do Utah liberals, radicals, and groovy-types (both Mormon and and non) find ways to express themselves, challenge the dominant culture, and create local, worthwhile enterprises.

Which is why we have so many frickin’ microbreweries in a state where you can’t even buy high-point beer at the grocery store. Viva la revolucion!

And speaking of oases…it’s not ALL ladies’ nights and slumber parties for this littlesarah. Because sometimes my Adam friend comes up with the idea of touring as many Utah breweries as we can in one night, having a sampler of all their beers at each one. He even researches brewing history! YES. And he has a car. So we hit the road one late Friday afternoon.

And drink a lot of beer. Like this:

Brewery #1 – Roosters Brewing Company & Restaurant (Layton location)

I’ve already raved about Roosters being  my favorite restaurant of all time. But we didn’t want to drive all the way to Ogden, so we went to their second, business park-y location in Layton.

Same great beers, same great food. Different location. NBD.

Our favorites were the Diamondback Ale and the seasonal Irish Stout. But they were all good. Except for the amazingly-named Polygamy Pale Ale (“You can’t have just one!” etc.), which I didn’t like. But Adam finished my shot of that, so it couldn’t have been all that bad.

Also, I’ve decided to try my hand at veganism, FOR REALS, so this night was not only about drinking local brews in abundance, but also about gorging on meaty treats that I will miss forever. (But it’s all for the best).

*       *       *

Brewery #2 – Bohemian Brewery (Midvale)

This one was probably my favorite. The atmosphere was like that of a Swiss Chalet (or at least what I imagine a Swiss Chalet to be like, having never been to one…), and the beer was the epitome of European deliciousness.

Each beer was distinct, crisp, complex and refreshing, but my favorite was the Czech Pilsner. I could probably drink 3 or 4 of those before temporarily getting sick of it. The Bavarian Weiss was also good, and super light. We deemed it a summer beer, which was just part of the fun we had deciding which exact atmosphere would be perfect for which beer. Oh, us!

*       *       *

Brewery #3 – Hoppers Grill & Brewing Co. (also Midvale)

Fun fact; if you sit at the bar, there will be sports. If you sit at three bars in a row, you will get super sick of looking at sports games.

Hoppers was hands-down our least favorite. Was it because they’ve perfected the chain-like atmosphere, despite being a small business? Was it because their slogan is “Your Local Chill!” (which doesn’t even make SENSE)? No, it was because their beers, despite being many and varied, all tasted a little flat, both in terms of carbonation and flavor. But I’ll give them points for presentation.

The only beer worth mentioning was the Uno Mas, a Mexican-style pale lager that was pretty much the most delicious Corona I’ve ever had. But probably not worth the drive to Midvale and the harsh overhead lighting.

*       *       *

The Aftermath

I got mud on my “bad-ass boots.”

We tried to meet up with my Dad at The State Room (not a brewery), but there was a $12 cover charge for a raggae/dub band, so we bailed.

We hit up the “tasting room” at Epic, only to realize that there was one chair in a sad little backroom with a grill in the corner and 30 minutes ’til close. Pity, since they have some of the dankest beers around. We agreed that it’d be best to do Epic as a stand-alone, lunch-time affair.

Then we met up with Stephanie Red and Whitney at Desert Edge Brewery, where I failed to take any pictures. Sorry. Anyways, we didn’t do samplers there, and I was sick enough of beer at that point to be unable to finish even my one glass of Anniversary Amber Ale. AND I wanted to complete my Last Supper of Meat with a delicious brew-pub burger and fries BUT they do not have fries at Desert Edge. Burgers, but no fries.

Is that even legal?

And the burgers weren’t that great.

So MAYBE we’ll go there for round two of the Brew Crew, or maybe we’ll try out one of the other three brewpubs in Salt Lake City alone.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

One Time I Ate 16 Courses

~OR~

A Complete Amateur Reviews the Mist Project

Sometimes I can get really into something just because a friend of mine is into it. So where I was never all that into action flicks, I now get totally excited to see them with my Lindsey friend, because SHE’S totally excited to see them. Also…they’re just ridiculous. Have you seen Total Recall? Or The Fifth Element? ‘Nuff said.

Lindsey’s also really into good food. Like, fancy, sit-down dinners. Whereas I can be satisfied by most brew-pub fare. But as seen through the eyes of my friend, a gourmet dining experience becomes an adventure! And somehow I’m magically able to eat, like, twice as much as normal, who knows why?

To celebrate my 26th, she took me to the Mist Project–Salt Lake’s very own guerilla dining experiment, or what their website calls “a multi-course, multi-sensory experience.” We had two bottles of wine! Which made the night go a little something like this:

Course #1: Bread

There were two types–fennel seed/golden raisin/semolina and olive/walnut. I’m allergic to walnuts and Lindsey’s allergic to olives. But the first bread was tasty, and warm. Plus there was butter for dipping. Can’t argue with that.

Course #2: Spoons

These are prepared by students and vary from night to night. Ours was a take on a caprese salad (mozz/tom/basil–that watermelon-looking thing you see is a honey-roasted tomato…I think) and an asian-y thing involving tofu and peanuts and eggplant. The first one was too vinegary, but the second was good. I dunno. I’ve never had an amuse bouche before, so that was cool.

Course #3: Duck-Themed Shot Glasses

The left one is a duck confit with feta, sweet potato and barly risotto. Amazing. The right is a duck tea/palate cleanser. In the middle is a wafer-like savory cracker filled with fois gras. SO GOOD. So creamy, and salty, and…my mouth is watering. The point is, these things used to be ducks, and now they are an edible science experiment situation.

Course #4: Sticks

That round orb is a barley gelato which is just as interesting as it sounds and about a billion times more delicious. So good. I’d buy a carton of it, honestly. In the middle was a wee shot of popcorn with candied bacon, sage, dehydrated beehive cheddar, and powdered bacon fat. Unfortunate, really, because now I have to spend the rest of my life eating just regular popcorn. The pork-belly-looking thing was pork-belly, and was as tasty as one would expect.

Course #5: Beets

That whole yellow bottom part of the plate is a beet-flavored jello (a shout-out to our Utahn heritage). Those bubbles were the first (and best) of many foamy garnishes; they’re chlorophyll-honey bubbles. Also there were a bunch of different ways to eat beats, none of which was better than how I like them–roasted, over a bed of arugula, with goat cheese.

Course #6: Tuna

I don’t know, guys, sometimes I just want all of my flavors and textures to fit together nicely on a plate and not be some sort of equation that I can’t work out.

Course #7: Scallop

I like scallops, sure. Even if you fuck around with them and throw in some mushroom foam and “apple fluid gel,” my mouth will still recognize and appreciate their silky, meaty texture.

Course #8: Guest Chef Course!

This was actually our favorite, but we were so stoked about eating it that we didn’t take a picture. Oops. It was a super slow-roasted squid in it’s own ink. Smoky, squidy, inky. Amazing.

Course #9:

I only like my lamb that one middle-eastern way where it’s ground up and mixed with spices and then formed into long sausages around a skinny sword. And this was not that. Fun Fact: that egg-looking thing is actually a “reverse sphere of curried yogurt” on top of sherried tomato gel. Oh! Also! This course had fried sweet breads (glands), and they were not bad! Though I guess most anything tastes good fried. Except ear; ear is weird and wrong no matter how it’s cooked.

Course #10: Short Rib

This is a blurry photo of a too-salty short rib parfait. But I ate most of it anyway, because it was topped with potato mousse and a RYE AND CHORIZO CRUMBLE. I mean, come on.

Course #11: Campfire

SO GOOD. Our waiter assured us that it would be “downhill from here,” and thank goodness for that, because it meant I could go to town. What you see here is soy and coffee cured beef sizzling on top of a 500-degree granite stone rubbed with beef fat. YES, that is a true statement. A true statement accompanied by a literal can of baked beans. S’good. There were other shenanigans, like edible coals made of meringue and also some  veggies, but I focused mainly on the best beef I’ve ever had in my life. And I don’t even LIKE beef.

Course #12: Intermezzo

Another palate cleanser! But why would I want to cleanse an edible campfire homage from my tongue? Oh, because you’re serving a spiced apple cider flavored granita with merengue and cream that tastes just like apple pie but is impossibly light and refreshing? Okay then.

Course #13: Sunrise From My Plane Window

Sometimes I think chefs can go too far out there (remember all that foam?), but this is an example of where it works. A hand-blown sugar sphere covering a lychee wrapped in passion fruit mousse on a popping candy base? That is a fancy way to dress up pop rocks, Friends, and I am all for it. Even the cotton candy clouds were good, and I normally hate cotton candy. Plus the blue background was a cocoa butter spray that you could write messages in. We talked about leaving our numbers for our cute, hickie-sporting waiter, but decided against it.

Course #14: Palate Cleanser

I think maybe we weren’t supposed to chew up our dry ice Mist tablets? But we did. These cookies were prettier than they were yummy. Also I don’t understand how a cookie will cleanse your palate SLASH why did we need cleansing after two fairly light dessert-type courses? Anyways.

Course #15: Edible Forest

Did I mention that this was supposed to take place at Paradise Palm and have a forest-y plant theme? But instead it was at the former Metropolitan, and besides the campfire, this is how to do it right, edible-botanical-style. The base is crumbled chocolate cake “soil” and pistachio sponges (meant to look like moss) dusted with powdered sugar “snow,” and then we have delicate, intricate chocolate trees filled with glace cherries and cherry marscapone ice cream. Then our hot waiter poured warm chocolate sauce over the whole thing. It was beautiful and delicious and sensual and just rich enough to finish off our meal in style without overdoing it. Except…

Course #16: Mignardise

…except then they brought us this cluster-fuck of random and unnecessary treats. Some of them are made by local bakeries! But what does that matter, because you just followed up a perfectly wonderful last course with a slapdash smattering of not-so-greats on top of your leftover edible soil. Mignardise are supposed to be small, sweet bites served after a meal with coffee. But there was nothing small about the giant log that even our waiter warned us not to eat, because it wasn’t very good.

Anyways, that’s really my only picky-pants objection to an otherwise amazing, lengthy, and thorough meal. It was super fun! And now I’m a vegan, so it’s probably good that I got that out of my system. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.

If I were a professional critic. Which I’m not.

 

What You Missed at the LEO Party:

A Sarah Custen Guilt Trip

Let me just start off by saying that I don’t even understand why people pass up the chance to gather, eat, drink, and be merry. I do not accept excuses of upcoming tests, family obligations, or illness. I demand that good times be had by all, whenever the opportunity presents itself.

I am a highly-biased reporter, is what I’m trying to say.

So for those of you who simply could not make it to the wonderful and magical and cooperative LEO Holiday Party, here’s what went down.

There was food. Delicious food. I personally enjoyed two different types of ham, some sort of marinated tofu magic, corn-n-veggie salad, and roasted cauliflower. Also rice. But that was so much more! So many epicurean delights! I ask you: why would anyone pass that up?

There were desserts, plural. Myriad, really. Maybe you feel like this doesn’t apply to you, because you are lactose intolerant, or celiac, but did you count on…

…dairy-free, gluten-free strawberry-coconut cupcakes?!?!? Because those were there. I know, because I brought them. And did we enjoy these treats in isolation? Did we stuff our faces and then run home to our DVRs? No we did not!

We socialized! Oh, man, we socialized so hard…it was CRAZY.

Also Whitney Houston played. RIP, Whitney.

Also there was booze, and afterwards, there was more booze, at the Red Door. That’s what we call an after-party.

Then after that I left to go out dancing. Lately I have a need to dance bordering on clinical.

ALMOST AS GREAT AS MY NEED TO SEE ALL MY COWORKERS’ LOVELY, SHINING FACES AT THE LEO PARTY. And you wouldn’t want to deprive a girl of camaraderie, would you? THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT.

See you next year!

…and Some Nights

Some nights it is all about beer, brats, spuds and ladies. While watching Newsies. Did you think those things were not compatible? Did you think that ladies’ nights had to be about wine and finger foods and girl talk and rom-coms? Well think again:

This is real life, Friends. This plus, you know, complaining about things (work, life, boys, etc.), looking up hot boys’ pictures on the internet, giggling over silly and/or perverted jokes, and just…enjoying each others’ company. Mutual love. And Boozies.

That’s when you turn Newsies into a drinking game, Friends.

Some Days

Some days you just can’t win. Some days people expect more of you than you’re willing or able to give, and it is only 9:20 am. Some days you have more things to do than time in which to do them, and it is snowing, and you ride a bike, and you know that nothing is going to be easy or convenient or efficient.

Some days you have to boil potatoes before 10am, just to stay on top of things. (But the steam on the stove makes the kitchen warm and fuzzy).

Some days you know that you are going to get a talking to, and it will not be pretty. You know that you have to tell the truth to some friends, and that it will not be any prettier.

Some days you cry (sob, really) in the bathroom at work for a solid 15 minutes. You pace the halls and take deep breaths, and you are not proud of yourself, but you love yourself and so you say “It’s okay.”

Some days you return to work with eyes so red and swollen that there is no denying what you’ve done, yet nobody says a thing. And that is somehow worse than whatever you’d dreaded them saying.

Some days you roast potatoes, with garlic and rosemary. 

It’s your own recipe, and you use a fancy tip from Cooks’ Illustrated, and they turn out just right.

And you know that, when you get off of work, you will turn those potatoes into potato salad. You will pack up that potato salad, along with some mustard, vegan bratwurst, and beer, and you will go watch Newsies and have a meat-n-potatoes dinner with your girlfriends.

At least that much you can do right. And some days that’s the best you can do.

*       *       *

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

-Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit

-Cut some red potatoes up into little cubes. I used 5 medium potatoes, with the intention of feeding about 5-7 people (as a side dish). Leave the skins on for maximum nutrition.

-Boil a big pot of water, then add cut up potatoes to the boiling water PLUS a bit of baking soda. Say…1/2 a teaspoon for lots of potatoes, but only 1/4 of a teaspoon for not so many potatoes.

-Boil for 3 minutes. Then drain. Then let those hot little spuds cool off.

-Toss your potatoes in some olive oil, a bit of salt, and crushed or chopped garlic.

-Spread the whole mess out on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with more salt, some pepper, and rosemary sprigs (fresh or not, whatevs).

-Bake/roast for 20 minutes or so, until they are golden brown and crispy in parts and a fork slides easily in. BONUS: you can add some lemon juice for the last 5 minutes of roasting for extra amazingness.

-ENJOY! Try them in a salad with mixed greens, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and tuna. Or not.

Don’t Mind If I Do

Popcorn and wine for dinner? Check.

Jazz it up with vegan butter and a nutritional yeast/spice mix from Nicole? Of course.

Creme de Cassis in your white wine to make it pink and sweet? Absolutely.

Portlandia clips on hulu and drunk texting? Indulge:

“Man, i was going to tell you to come over earlier, but then i was all ‘Naw, im tired,’ but now im drunk. That is a complete story.”

AND

“Im preparing myself for two months of non-stop female bondage. In the best sense possible”

Sitting on the couch with a huge grin and loving every minute of it? MUST BE A THURSDAY!