food

A Salad in Thyme

DSC_2932By Tiffany Young

At work, we have a monthly potluck. It’s probably my favorite part of my job. Everyone in the department—from translations to communications brings a dish to share with others.

Since we don’t have any way to heat up food, except for a microwave, it’s always difficult for me to determine what to bring. Will cold mac ‘n cheese really taste all that great? So much of the time I bring a cold salad or pasta.

This month I brought a delicious cucumber, tomato and feta recipe altered from a Pinterest recipe by Five Heart Home. Their recipe can be found at: http://fivehearthome.com/2013/06/28/tomato-cucumber-salad-with-olives-and-feta/.

A main change to mine is that I used thyme in place of dill, because it’s what I had on hand. I loved it!

Dressing:

  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c white wine vinegar (the original recipe used red, but use whatever you have on hand)
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  •  clove garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • black pepper ground to taste

Whisk together all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.

Salad:

  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large cucumber, cubed
  • 1/2 c kalamata olives, drained, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 c feta cheese
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss. Garnish with sprigs.

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Take pics, refrigerate for a few hours, eat!

 

I thought I’d have plenty of leftovers after the potluck, since there’s usually so much food, but, alas, I did not. But I’m glad everyone seemed to enjoy it.

After we eat, we usually play a game. This time we played Catch Phrase.

Two of the best moments were:

1) When a lady whose first language is Spanish got the word cop out, she described it as a police officer who is not in. We were super confused, but realized it was a brilliant description once she told us what it was.

2) Just before our boss popped his head in because we were laughing so hard, the same lady as above had given this clue: It’s in your pants! None of us could think of a G-rated answer so we just burst out laughing. Turns out it was pocket change. That was so not what any of us were thinking …

If you want a pick-me-up at work, try planning a potluck. Bring food, bring a game and just enjoy each other for a change!

 

 

Review: Magnolia Café

magnolias eggs benedictBy Tiffany Young

In Austin, we love our brunch. Breakfast? Closer to the lunch hour? Brilliant. Saturdays and Sundays you should expect to wait a couple hours to eat if you wake up past 10. But that’s OK, because mimosas and bloody Mary’s are likely to be involved.

One of my favorite brunch places, especially to take people from out of town is the tried-and-true Magnolia Café. Open 24 hours, this classic diner has its breakfast menu down. From the love migas to the eggs benedict and eggs zapatino to the Magnolia omelet, there’s an option for everyone’s taste. Not to mention the delicious pancakes and daily specials.

I love the Lake Austin Boulevard location, where you can see runners trekking  around Town Lake. Parking is slim, but you can always park in the neighborhood and have a lovely, hilly walk to your destination to especially appreciate the good food.

They do expect you to have your entire party before being seated, so respect the rules–the staff is trying to make everyone’s visit nice, not just yours. It’s the least you can do. After all, they keep fresh flowers on the table for you each and every day.

I especially love the eggs zapatino–basically the eggs benedict for vegetarians, it comes on an English muffin, topped with an egg and smothered with queso. Yum Yum!

If you’re at a loss for where to go, Magnolia Café comes through for you, no matter the time of day–breakfast is always served.

Another SXSW has come and gone

By Tiffany Young

As many of you already know, I’m a big fan of music, and more specifically, music festivals, which works out great with me living in a place like Austin, Texas. Here there are three main music festivals, in my opinion: ACL Music Festival, SXSW Music and Fun Fun Fun Fest.

The coordinators of SXSW are smart in that they have coordinated the festival dates around UT’s spring break, which local schools generally are based around as well. This means, not only can all the college students attend, but also professors and teachers. And it’s not unheard of for students from nearby colleges to come into town for the occasion. That being said, it’s been a long time since I was in high school or college, but I do work in education, so this was the first year I got the entire week off to celebrate SXSW ( I mean spring?).

Even though going, going, going can, indeed be exhausting, as many are apt to complain about, I find this week also to be rejuvenating. Just the sheer amount of creativity going on in Austin during the week is amazing. There is also a film festival and interactive festival going on. It’s hard to imagine the amount of genius that surrounds all this activity.

Instead of telling you about my whole week (which to be quite frank—I could not recall everything anyway), I will be highlighting a few things from my week, and then, if Flickr cooperates, I will add more photos later.

1. Probably THE most inspiring act at SXSW was Rich Aucoin. I had seen him before, but this year I saw him a whopping three times. If you’re not familiar with him (and it’s unlikely you are) he’s a Canadian, who produces dance parties at will. Think: screaming “Let it go – o – o -o!” playing with giant parachutes and confetti flying in the air mixed in with YouTube videos. I know.. it’s hard to imagine. But If you get the chance, try it out. I think Rich’s genius is that he’s just a guy who’s bringing fun and stress relief to a generation who sometimes forgets about fun in the need to succeed.

This show is all about letting loose and having a good time en mass with a bunch of strangers, who you’ll share a bond with by the time all is said and done. If you’re just looking for the best musician at the festival, this might not be your cup of tea, but if you’re looking for a heartfelt party, this is it.

2. July Talk came in at a close second for me. This duo is insanely passionate onstage. It’s hard to describe the crazy rock feel, but I’ll try. The guy part of the duo, Jeremy Dreimanis, reminds me of a crazed Johnny Cash. In contrast, the sweet gal, Leah Fay, has a sweet Betty Boop-ish voice. They banter with one another while toying with the audience. Leah not only was drinking honey from the bottle onstage, but offered it up to many an audience memb

er. By the end of it all, you’ll be slightly scared of Jeremy (from yelling at the audience to wake up, while slapping his own face) and enamored of Leah, who’s flirty and sexy and seemingly sweet. If you’re looking for an energetic show, that plays around with teasing and has a sense of the unexpected, this is where it’s at. The band is solid and the energy is catching.

3. Other bands of note: Loved Wonder Villians (seriously poppy, reminds me of Cindy Lauper); Loved MISUN (Cheerleader moves, gorgeous indie-rock voice combined with hipster clothes); Austin’s own The Gents (Rockabilly Indie Music, if that were a thing with a lead singer that has bounds of energy–they are playing a free show Tuesday in Austin with RSVP); And of course, there were lots, lots more that I truly enjoyed–these just left a really lasting impression.

4. Food: We’re still a food blog, so I guess I’d be remiss to not

mention the food I ate. I finally got to try Café Crepe, which was delish. I also ate  falafel from a food truck–can’t remember the name, but it wasn’t Kebabalicious. Shout out to Nespresso, who served up yummy coffee during interactive (’cause clearly Austin needed to be a little more wired than usual that week). Other than that, I was usually on the go and didn’t grab pictures or just grabbed Roppollo’s pizza, while I was on my way to another show. There was a party at Maggie Mae’s serving poutine.

If I can get my other photos uploaded, I may share more of my week later, but for now, that’s all the South By news. Until next year!

Childhood Memories with Eric Pulsifer of Tuesday Newsday and The Movie Press

Eric Pulsifer

 

Meet Eric Pulsifer, music and movie blogger for TuesdayNewsday (http://tuesdaynewsday.tumblr.com/) and The Movie Press (http://www.themoviepress.com).

What was your favorite snack as a kid?

The snacks I remember most from my childhood were breakfast foods, which is probably not a big surprise since breakfast is still my favorite meal today. Few things are better than breakfast. As a great man once said, “There has never been a sadness that can’t be cured by breakfast food.”

Breakfast as a kid was a little different than the multiple varieties of meat pork-stravaganza with eggs I like to chow down on these days. It was all about cereal — sugary, sugary cereal.

Most of these multi-colored boxes of happiness were cross-promotional items for TV shows, movies or action figures. In the ’80s, my dental kryptonites of choice were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman, or two-in-one goodness of Nintendo Cereal System. If my bowl of sugar-coated carbs wasn’t promoting a cartoon or toy, you could be sure it was from an oversized box packed with a free toy of its own: Cap’n Crunch with little Cap’n and Soggy figures, Fruity Pebbles with rubbery Flintstones figures, or Raisin Bran with its California Raisin toys. There were also plenty of Fruity Marshmallow Krispies, Count Chocula and Cinnamon Toast Crunch consumed between 1985 and 1995. In the dusk of my cereal-eating years, it was Spider-Man Cereal, which in retrospect I’m fairly certain was just a fresh face on the Ninja Turtles cereal — think: extra-sweet Chex with multi-colored marshmallows.

Eventually, I graduated on to microwavable pairs of Jimmy Dean sausage biscuits, putting a fatty finishing touch on the foundation of my formative years. I don’t know how I lived past 20.

(Side note: If you were or still are a cereal killer, you owe it to yourself to check out this short read from Mental Floss on the history of cereal and its surprising effect on American culture.)


What was the most common meal you ate as a child?

I’m going to answer that question with a question: Can I just keep talking about breakfast? When out and about for the most important meal of the day, there were two “restaurants” I frequented as a young human: Shoney’s and Grandy’s.

Every Friday, I would go with my parents and meet my grandmother for the breakfast buffet at Shoney’s. Shoney’s, if you’ve never been, is like a less fancy Sizzler or Golden Corral. I can still taste the awful orange-red seasoning salt I would sprinkle on scoops of slimy instant eggs topped with heat lamp-warmed cheese sauce. These were accompanied by dry biscuits and mountains of frozen hash browns drowned in bland white pepper gravy with all the spice of lukewarm wood glue.

Grandy’s was the last thing I ate before getting braces put on and the first thing I ate after getting braces taken off. Whether I was getting the buffet or ordering off menu, my choice there was always the same: chicken-fried steak with gravy, eggs and a McDonald’s-like fried puck of hash browns.

If it was after 11 a.m., the meal I remember most was a dish from El Chico, a chain of Tex-Mex casual dining establishments big in the ’90s around my hometown and the rest of the Ark-La-Tex — the cutesy name for a culinary bermuda triangle around the Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas borders framed by East Texas’ dry, over-lean barbecue, North Louisiana’s echoes of great Creole and Cajun cuisine available five hours to the south and… whatever it is that Arkansas brings to the tri-state dinner table.

El Chico was my go-to birthday-dining destination. It was the place I wanted to go if anyone was taking requests. Besides consuming an ungodly amount of paper-thin tortilla chips, corn tortillas and runny salsa, my go-to there was an appetizer called the Botanas Platter — a sampler plate stacked with a couple of greasy fajita nachos, quesadillas, taquitos, stuffed jalapeño peppers, a mini chimichanga and a shot of queso.


Did you have any odd eating habits as a child?
Besides eating all the previously mentioned disgusting crap on a regular basis, I was really into mixing ketchup and ranch dressing together and putting it on everything. I even had a name for it: “Ziti Sauce.” That might sound disgusting (and it is) but it’s pretty similar in taste to the secret sauce at Raising Cane’s, if you’re into that kind of thing.

If your palate has changed, when did that occur and what did you like differently?

Around the age of 25, I became more sensitive to the fishy taste of lower-quality seafood and cheap fish. Southern staples I used to love like fried catfish or boiled shrimp just isn’t very appetizing any more without copious amounts of lemon juice and hot sauce to battle off the bad taste. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be an issue with fresh cuts of cleaner fish or in raw or under-cooked fish.

This is a part of our Childhood Memories series. Want to be considered for a future post on your childhood memories? Contact tiffany@ohspooning.com.

Sprouting Lunches 3 Days a Week

DSC_2269

By Tiffany Young

My new “resolution” is to bring my lunch to work at least three times a week. This is primarily to save money, since I work downtown and it can get expensive eating at Whole Foods for lunch almost every day. But I know the lunch has to pretty good to convince myself not to go hang out with my coworkers away from the office for an hour or even 30 minutes. That means less store bought frozen meals and more homemade frozen meals. So, this week I made mac ‘n cheese and Sriracha roasted Brussels sprouts and packaged them for my mid-day meal. You can find the recipe at The Austin Gastronomist. I had been eying the recipe for sometime, but was a little intimidated by it for some reason. However, the recipe was pretty easy to carry out and has turned out to be a delicious choice for my lunch. My only caution is that some coworkers think it smells up the office when I reheat it. Also, when the recipe says that the sauce will bubble up on you, that means step back! There was definitely a little splash back when I poured the hot water in. Other than that, everything went well and I would definitely make it again!

Let us know what some of your favorite lunches are in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Childhood Memories with Julie Munroe of Foie Gras Hot Dog

Julie Munroe of Foie Gras Hot Dog  getting ready to bread and fry "scallops."

Julie Munroe of Foie Gras Hot Dog getting ready to bread and fry “scallops.”

Meet Julie Munroe, AFBA member and food blogger for http://foiegrashotdog.blogspot.com/. We asked Julie to tell us a bit about her childhood food memories.

1. What was the most (or some of the most) common meal(s) you ate as a child?
We had a big garden and a vegetarian household, so there were typically a lot of vegetables on the plate. Stewed zucchini with hominy, one-dish rice casseroles, baked potatoes with steamed broccoli and cheese sauce.
2. What was your favorite snack as a kid?
Dried bananas – not banana chips, though. We would split the ripe bananas lengthways into the three sections they naturally divide into and dehydrate them until they were leathery, but still a little soft and chewy inside. It was like eating taffy.
3. Tell me about the setting of a typical meal in your family.
We always all had dinner together around the table and I was allowed to be involved in the preparation from an early age. Friday evenings were special because we’d usually have cinnamon rolls, and always rice – rice served with milk and cinnamon, or rice with a savory mushroom curry or chicken tetrazzini-type sauce.
4. Did you have any odd eating habits as a child?
I suppose the fact that we used a good deal of meat analog might count as odd. We had fake lunch meats and gluten “scallops” and such. I was eating Morning Star breakfast patties before they were branded for mainstream grocery stores.
5. If your palate has changed, when did that occur and what did you like differently?
I do eat some fish and chicken occasionally now, and the occasional bite or two of lamb or goat, but it is more an exception than rule for me. My short list of strong dislikes (avocados, fresh tomatoes, grainy Lima beans) is still pretty similar to when I was a kid, but has softened a bit. I’m pretty cool with fresh tomatoes in things these days, at least.
This is a part of our Childhood Memories series. Want to be considered for a future post on your childhood memories? Contact tiffany@ohspooning.com.

Childhood Memories with Natalie Paramore

Meet Natalie Paramore, AFBA secretary and food blogger for http://natalieparamore.com/. We asked Natalie to tell us a bit about her childhood food memories.

AFBA secretary

AFBA secretary

1. What was the most (or some of the most) common meal(s) you ate as a child?
For me, I loved buttered noodles and taco salad as a kid.
2. What was your favorite snack as a kid?
My favorite snack was triscuits and cheddar cheese warmed up for a few seconds in the microwave or oven. 
3. Tell me about the setting of a typical meal in your family.
I ate out a LOT as kid because my parents worked. So, my dad was really big on using table manners, like sitting still, napkin in lap and using proper utensils. Especially chopsticks at Asian restaurants. 
4. Did you have any odd eating habits as a child?
I really liked mushy french fries and would always try and pick the mushiest ones to eat first. 
5. If your palate has changed, when did that occur and what did you like differently? 
My palate has definitely changed! It probably changed the most in college. I really love fresh salads and juice, which I never liked as a kid. One thing that hasn’t changed is that I still love green beans and broccoli!
This is a part of our Childhood Memories series. Want to be considered for a future post on your childhood memories? Contact tiffany@ohspooning.com.

Childhood Memories with Brittanie Duncan of Three Diets One Dinner

Meet Brittanie Duncan, AFBA social chair and food blogger for www.threedietsonedinner.com. We asked Brittanie to tell us a bit about her childhood food memories.
AFBA Social Chair

AFBA Social Chair

1. What were the most common meals you ate as a child?
Chicken piccata, canned peas and strawberry shortcake. 

2. What was your favorite snack as a kid?
Boursin cheese with homemade pita chips. I’d eat the entire ensemble in one sitting.

 

3. Tell me about the setting of a typical meal in your family.
Dinner would always be ready at 3:30 p.m. when we got home from school. My mom cooked in the morning. We would just reheat it when we were ready to eat. My family would always sit down at the dinner table together for an early dinner. My mom would never eat, although she would sit with us; I guess she just grazed all day.

 

4. Did you have any odd eating habits as a child?
I would only eat the creme filling out of Oreos. My best friend filled a jar with just the creme once and gave it to me for my 10th birthday. To this day, it is the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received. 

5. If your palate has changed, when did that occur and what did you like differently?
I stopped eating processed food about three years ago. So yes, everything has changed. I still crave canned peas, though.

 

This is a part of our Childhood Memories series. Want to be considered for a future post on your childhood memories? Contact tiffany@ohspooning.com.

Childhood Food Memories with Tiffany Young

Tiffany in kindergartenBy Tiffany Young

This month, we’re revisiting our childhoods. Specifically, our memories of food.

For instance, as a child, I can remember certain things about the summer: how me and my brother would cut through the apartment complex behind our house to get to the snow cone trailer that not only had lots of flavors, but would add condensed milk on top for an extra quarter; how our mom would stock up on those long sticks of flavored ice in the freezer and they’d cut off the ends and suck the juice up; and how nothing got the neighborhood riled up like hearing the ice cream truck.

Then there are the weird things I did with food: Eating hamburgers in a circle to save the last bite for the end (oddly enough, Antonio did this as well). I’d also take the American cheese slices and fold them over and over again until they were teeny tiny squares and eat them slowly as I watched The Brady Bunch or Saved by The Bell after school. Not only that, but I loved healthy food, like yogurt and salads for snacks after school. Yep, I’m a weirdo.

So we got to thinking … if our strongest memories from childhood centered around food, we’re sure they do for others, so we are doing a series on what people remember about their childhood meals.

If you’d like to share your own childhood memories, share them in the comments section or send them to me at tiffany@ohspooning.com and we might just feature them in a future post.

Pictured above: Tiffany, when she was in kindergarten, with her mom, Brenda (pre-Chef Bren). I believe this was our Valentine’s Day party (judging from my attire and that my mom was there).

 

OhSpooning’s Resolutions for 2014

By Tiffany Young & Antonio Delgado

Looking back over 2013, there are a lot of things the OhSpooners would like to improve and many things we thought went really well.

For instance, after our blog was hacked it was down for several months. Not good!

But, we started doing audio interviews (podcasts?) this year and have really enjoyed the process. We also seem to be writing about booze more … hmmm.

After reviewing our last year, The Spooners have come up with a few resolutions for the blog.

1) We want to post on a schedule. We’ve already started working on an editorial calendar for us, so we can plan posts ahead of time.

2) We also want to start sharing our posts more. Right now we tend to post and forget. We think there are people out there who would be interested in our posts if we told them about them, but we are just leaving it to the poor internet surfers to find us (or more likely not).

3) We are going to write a theme song for our podcasts. In our downtime, or lack thereof, we have a kid’s band called The Tiny Bots.

4) We are going to start doing “expert” videos  entitled “Baking with Chef Bren Young” to show tips and techniques on baking, cake decorating and whatever craziness she is working up in her kitchen lab.

You may have noticed, if you’ve followed us in the last year, that we have begun to intersect art and food through creativity. We’ll be continuing down this road in the next year, focusing on art, music, food and where they meet. We believe food is an art form that fosters creativity.