Part of a community

I often find it difficult to sit down and write a blog post; between work and general laziness, blogging falls by the wayside.  The reason I started the blog, was for myself, as a journal to remember what we ate, where, and if we liked it.  So, it is easy to say, “Why bother!?” and give up.  The Triangle Food Blogger Bake Sale held this past Saturday was a reminder of why I bother.  For me, writing a food blog is not about the number of hits or stats but rather about being part of a community.  It is a community of like-minded people who are concerned about sustainable food production, ending childhood hunger, access to healthy food, sharing recipes, and enjoying delicious food.  Participating in the food blogger bake sale reminded me of exactly this.  It was a hosted by Johanna Kramer of Durhamfoodie Blog and Matt Lardie of Green Eats Blog.  All the funds raised went to benefit ‘Share our Strength’, a national non-profit working to end childhood hunger.   At the Triangle bake sale we raised $650 in just two hours!  Johanna provides a great recap with recipes by each of the goodies sold.  Nationwide the coordinated food blogger bake sale raised over $22,000 for Share Our Strength.  It was wonderful to be part of such a great event and meet some of the members of this community.  I look forward to participating again next year!

Food in Japan: Top 5 Observations

G and I just returned from two weeks in Japan.  We had both been wanting to go to Japan and it seemed do-able in two weeks.  Personally, my curiosity and interest in the culture was peeked after reading Memoirs of a Geisha and in the food (more than it already was) after reading the Story of Sushi.  So, we booked our tickets and started planning!  Our trip began in Tokyo where we spent 6 nights, 5 days.  From Tokyo we took a day trip to the sacred mountain town of Nikko.  Then we spent 7 days, 7 nights in Kyoto.  We used 5 days to explore Kyoto and took two day trips to Osaka and Kobe and to the ancient capital city of Nara.  Finally, we spent one day and night in Hiroshima before heading back to the airport.  It was a whirlwind trip but truly wonderful!

Needless to say, we ate and tried as many various things as we possibly could!  The food and the food culture in Japan is so interesting.  There is a strong food tradition with elaborate meals and customs which is juxtaposed to the modern city life of fast food eateries and chains.  But, all are completely Japanese.  I have made many notes on our meals and various foods which I will write up slowly but surely.  However, I wanted to post right away my primary observations about Japanese food and eating.

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Crack Pie

Food can be addictive, much like a drug, and in the case of the aptly named Crack Pie it most certainly is!  Crack Pie is the creation of pastry chef Christina Tosi of Momofuku’s Milk Bar fame in New York City.  Following all of the news and reading all of the articles about David Chang’s ventures, I have been dreaming about trying Momofuku on our next trip to NYC.  A few weeks ago our local newspaper, the News & Observer, published an adapted recipe for Crack Pie.  I cut it out thinking that one day I would try to make it.  Well, G noticed the cut out sitting on the dining room table and found out that it could be ordered online and delivered the next day.  So, for my birthday this past weekend, my gift was Crack Pie direct from the source!

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Sugarland Bakery, Chapel Hill

A couple of weeks ago we were entertaining our young friend (she is almost 5 years old!) and decided to try Sugarland Bakery for a treat.  It is a cute shop located right at the heart of the Franklin St.  They have a few tables to sit and enjoy your treats and a counter of treats; half is filled with baked goods and chocolate truffles and the other half is dedicated to gelato.  For the season they had a great miniature village set up in the window complete with moving ice skaters and children sledding down a hill.  This interested the little one for some time!  Then, we each proceeded to select a cupcake.  I tried the seasonal Egg Nog, G tried the red velvet and the she tried the double chocolate.  They were all quite tasty with rich icing.  As usual the each had much too much icing, which seems to be the current style in cupcakes.  The Egg Nog in particular had a spicy, egg-y flavor.  However, all three were a bit dry which was disappointing.  They didn’t have the delicate texture that you would expect from a cupcake that is over $3 each!  Cupcakes are the trendiest thing in baked goods right now but they ought to be melting-in-my-mouth to charge more than $3!!

Sugarland Bakery
140 E. Franklin St.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Cookies with a kick

Even though I am sweet tooth sometimes I crave something not overly sweet, but with a little kick. I love the sweet and savory combination! With just such a craving I was browsing dessert recipes and came across Mexican Chocolate Cookies from the December 2007 issue of Cooking Light Magazine. I am not much of a baker, so this simple recipe seemed to be the right skill level and had the flavors I was craving. My only change to the recipe would be to reduce the cooking time a minute or two. The cookies were a little hard for my tastes after they completely cooled. The flavor of the cookies was delicious! The bittersweet chocolate balances out the heat of the peppers. It is a perfect ending to any meal!

Mexican Chocolate Cookies
Source: Cooking Light, December 2007

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Latest favorite snack

As you will learn, I am quite a sweet tooth! So much so that I still sweeten fruits that are perfectly ripe. My latest sweetening technique was introduced to me by one of my dear friends who happens to be a pastry chef by training. She mixes brown sugar with sour cream and spoons it over fruit. Yum! The brown sugar adds a wonderful sweetness to the tangy sour cream. I have enjoyed this over plums and strawberries and I can’t wait try it over other fruits! In fact, I have been using low fat sour cream since I have been enjoying this a little too often.

To make this I use about ¼ cup of brown sugar to ¾ cup of sour cream. Stir together the brown sugar and sour cream until the sugar is completely dissolved. Spooned over strawberries this is a great snack which can make even a rainy day feel like summer! Yum!