Plate It or Hate It

Recent food world discoveries the ES crew is loving and hating…

Plate It: Grapesicles

Frozen grapes on a stick. The most perfectly simple summer cooler ever. Bonus points for the bed of frozen melon balls.  (Little Ladies Who Lunch, via fuck yeah my health).

Hate It: Cake Pops

We’re all about cute, but there’s just no need. Why would anyone take a tender cake and turn it into a round mass of gumminess? Then take that disgusting bit and dip it in candy melts? Candy melts are about as tasty as candle wax. Please, just let us eat cake.  (Photo: Mimsen)

Plate It: Food Duels


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Color Me Hungry


Almost a decade ago my family and I traveled to Durango, Colorado for my cousin’s wedding. I’d never been out West before and I remember thinking how insanely different everything looked and felt. I decided, while staring out of the hotel window at a mountain range, that I’m a city person. I’d rather look at buildings. I’d rather be surrounded by tall steel and crowded streets than lonely nature.

In those ten years I’ve seen plenty of cities and gorgeous buildings and cramped sidewalks. But now, my deep appreciation for food forces me to better acknowledge the brilliance of nature.

Like, seriously, how the fuck did the Grand Canyon come about? I’m still confused. That thing is enormous. And scary. Totally insane. I think about my few hours in its presence and I’m shocked, humbled, amazed.

Nature also impresses me in the every day with its color coding abilities: similarly hued vegetables contain similar nutrients, vitamins and healing properties. I knew orange colored veggies could help with cancer prevention but I hadn’t mastered the rest of the colors. Enter Color Me Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

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Ten Worst (Foodie) Things About Being Knocked Up


(Actual TVFF Jr. ultrasound…the embellishments are artistic license)

No, I’m not pregnant. But Mrs. TVFF is, so I’ve become hyper-aware of dietary restrictions placed on women when they’re expecting. It’s amazing how much you can’t/shouldn’t eat. God forbid that something on the no-fly list make its way into your diet, and don’t even try to talk about it on those baby discussion boards, where you’ll be immediately branded an unfit mother if you so much as suggest that “sunny side up” is a valid option for your breakfast table.

So, since I’m at least somewhat responsible for Mrs. TVFF’s current condition, I thought it would be a good idea to solicit her thoughts on what she’s been missing the most during the first 36 weeks and share it with you. Obvious disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, so please don’t take this as medical advice.

10. Booze

Who doesn’t like a good stiff drink at the end of a hard day’s work? Well, let me tell you this: Nobody could use a double martini more than a woman who has been dragging around an extra 25 pounds all day. Later in the pregnancy, it’s apparently kosher for you to have a half glass of wine with dinner, but that’s cold comfort for someone who would benefit from a bender.

9. Undercooked eggs

This one should come as no surprise to ES-ers, but we like a nice runny egg once in a while in the TVFF household. And we both love spaghetti carbonara (even if it doesn’t turn out perfectly), so it’s a minor tragedy that this one has been off the menu since May.  Also, having to portion the scrambled eggs in the pan and scoop out my share invariably leads to a messy countertop and overcooked eggs in the end. Can’t wait until we can go back to playing salmonella roulette on a regular basis!

8. Sushi

This is the one area where I’ve decided to show some solidarity with the wife. I’ve gone 36 weeks without raw fish, and it’s starting to get really annoying. She knew better than to ask me to give up drinking for nine months.  I love her and all, but let’s be real. To tide us over, she opts for the California roll from the her usual NYC lunch spot and I’ve relegated myself to a somewhat palatable Trader Joe’s faux-sushi, but it only makes us want the real stuff that much more.

7. Rare Meat

Some women profess a craving for meat during pregnancy, though Mrs. TVFF was much more interested in fresh fruit. Regardless, the done-ness of the meat that we are eating has proven to be an issue. She has steered (no pun intended) away from overly rare steaks and burgers, but the big headache has been chicken. Look, I’m not suggesting you eat your chicken at anything less than “done,” but I don’t like that I’ve been turned into an obsessive food safety inspector due to my zeal to prevent any kind of infection.

6. Caffeine

This poor woman can hardly keep her eyes open past 10:00 p.m. and yet she’s forced to studiously consult Starbucks’ Web site to make sure she isn’t going a few milligrams above her daily allotment.

Next: Top 5 Worst (Foodie) Things About Being Knocked Up

Roid Rage


This country’s Jersey Shore obsession must be stopped!! Anyone paying attention the past few months knows that the Situation is getting out of control, and now comes word that soon even our fish will be JUICED! Yes, recently the FDA approved the genetic engineering of salmon for human consumption.

This announcement seems to be gathering a lot of attention here on the interwebs and among some special interest groups, but it has been mainly a blip in the realm of traditional media.  Here is a quick recap:

A company has figured out a way to have their salmon produce growth hormones year-round, rather than stop in the colder months as naturally happens. Essentially, they have figured out how to “juice” our fish. (It’s funny because when we found out baseball players were doing this, Congress held a hearing, but with our food, the FDA gave it two thumbs up.) The resulting fish grow much bigger in a shorter period of time, are more aggressive and the majority of them are sterile (you can see why the Jersey Shore reference popped into my head right?)

This news is about more than just salmon.

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Hey Hey Hey, It’s Skinny Albert


Editor’s Note: We’ve gotten somewhat political on ES before, mostly making fun of Sarah Palin and prohibition candidates, but actually we’re big dorks. In fact, after school I would rush home so I could tape–and watch live–Clinton’s impeachment hearings. I read Cokie Roberts’ book for pleasure and wanted to be George Stephanopoulos when I grew up. Anyway, it’s about time we used the blog for something other than talking about bacon. Well, just this once.

Our friend Josh works for Northwest Harvest and was recently in DC to lobby for childhood nutrition funds. Here’s his rant. Pay attention.

It’s time to put down the spatula and pick up the phone.

We need to tell our Senators and Congressmembers to invest in the future health of our population, our economy and our national security by strengthening the Child Nutrition Act to the tune of an additional $10 billion over ten years. Strengthening these programs will ensure our kids are receiving the proper nutrition where they live, work and play, AND go a long way to fighting childhood obesity.

The Child Nutrition Act is a large piece of legislation that comes up every five years or so and funds critical nutrition programs for our low-income infants and children, including WIC, national school lunch and breakfasts, afterschool snacks and summer feeding programs, and feeding programs in child care and adult care settings. Senator Lincoln has introduced the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 to begin the reauthorization process in the Senate, but the bill falls short of the full $10 billion necessary.

Study after study show that hungry kids simply cannot learn in the classroom. Chronic hunger has profound impacts on kids’ ability to focus, retain and thrive in our schools. Providing our children with proper nutrition for the school day is critical to the future success of our country.

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What to Expect at 2pm

couscous salad

This past weekend my coworker threw a birthday party for her two-year-old son. Earlier in the week we spent some time finding invitations (um, am I the only one who’s never heard of the Backyardigans?) and more importantly, figuring out food. It was a 2pm party, which is kinda an awkward time.

How many meals have you had by 2pm on a Saturday? Would you have eaten breakfast? Breakfast and lunch? Lunch? Brunch? Nothing?


Also, what would you expect food-wise for a 2pm child’s birthday party? Just chips? Sandwiches? Just cake?

My coworker decided on bite-size, semi-substantial fare. Whatever that means. Well, actually, I can tell you exactly what it means: Chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-A, burger sliders (very impressed she found mini-potato rolls), waffle fries (frozen), spinach and artichoke dip (with pita chips and tortilla chips) and some party punch thing where she dumped a bucket of sherbet-like stuff into a bowl with Sprite. Oh, and of course cake (with Backyardigan decorations) and little ice cream cups.

We also wanted to serve a more grown-up side. That’s where I came in. She initially thought of a pasta salad type dish, but wanted something a bit different. Couscous! Still a side, but a bit more refined than pasta salad. Plus, I had a few winter vegetables that would be a much better fit for a grain than for pasta. (I think sweet potato and noodles are a bit much.)

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Feeding a Grease Monster


I have friends (plus baby) coming to town this weekend. It was just the push I needed to finally get to the store this year. Yea, that’s right. I haven’t been food shopping since 2009. 80P and I have been out of town, sick and lazy. I think 80 has grabbed some eggs, cereal and milk, but really – that’s it.

I grabbed some weekend snacks: tortilla chips, ruffled potato chips, avocado, feta and mozzarella. I’ve heard their one year old, Jack, loves polly-o string cheese. All I could find was a chunk of mozz, so I’m hoping if I cut it into cylinders, Jack will dig it.

Also in my cart, with no real reason: plantains, Kabocha squash, cilantro, mangoes, lemons and limes and other canned staples (beans, coconut milk, pickles, olives).

I got home and still had no clue what to make. I turned to The Flavor Bible, checked out mango’s flavor friends, but didn’t have the right ingredients. Making room for that on the shelf I saw a new cookbook – Alicia Silverstone‘s The Kind Diet.

The first few chapters detail the horrendous factory farming practices of our country. I skipped those pages because I’m still struggling to finish Eating Animals, which actually makes me never want to eat anything ever again.

Then a recipe calling for Kabocha squash, and barely any other ingredients, found me. Alicia directed her loving fans to simply boil the peeled and cubed squash (4 cups squash to 3 1/2 cups water), add salt, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10, add more salt, simmer some more, mash til smooth, finish with chopped parsley. Now simple sounds good to me, especially when I have to spend the rest of the night scrubbing the floors for a one year old’s visit.

But a soup only flavored with salt. I have a food blog. I must do better than that.  I started off healthful – adding lime juice then crushed red pepper flakes and I subbed cilantro for the parsley. But 80. Oh 80. My grease loving boyfriend. How could he be enticed to sup on soup for dinner?

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