Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Fabulous Feast

This past Friday I had the opportunity to do something very special on campus.  A couple of friends in my Sorority house asked if I was interested in helping to cook a dinner for the organization "Aish" on campus.  The normal hosts of Aish were out of town, but they still wanted to provide students with the weekly Friday night Shabbat dinner, but they needed the help from us, the active members of Aish.  We arrived at the house at 1 and instantly jumped into Challah preparation - the hefty bag of Spelt (non-wheat) Flour was carried up from the downstairs and lifted onto the counter, along with the other ingredients.  We cracked eggs, poured Spelt flour, dripped honey, sprinkled salt, scooped dry yeast, drizzled vegetable oil and began to mix the ingredients in a large bowl.  After kneading the Challah with our hands, we let it sit for about 2 hours so it had time to rise.
Next, came the "Thai Slaw" salad.  This is one of my favorite salads because of the sweet and salty tastes from the dressing combined with the crunchiness of the cabbage, cucumbers and leaves of Cilantro.  The rainbow array of cabbage was placed on the bottom of a large purple bowl, it was used as a base for the remainder of the salad.  Then we chopped up long green English Cucumbers and tossed them into the mix of cabbage.  I sneakily munched on the leftover pieces of Cucumber while no one was looking.  Then it was time for dressing preparation; Olive Oil, Rice Wine Vinegar, Soy Sauce and Sesame seeds.  Then I slowly drizzled the dressing over the salad.  In an effort to spread it out throughout the entire bowl, I took the large salad tongs and scooped the cabbage from the bottom up, so every last piece was dressed.
For a crowd pleaser salad, we decided on a corn, avocado and tomato salad.  About 20 miniature cobbs of corn were lined up in a tin-foil container and placed in the oven to defrost.  As the corn was softening in the oven, I took on the liberty of slicing the tomatoes.  Tomatoes are a difficult vegetable to cut and I struggled a bit as the juice poured out from the inside.  After the four tomatoes were cut, the corn was taken out of the oven.  I cut the kernels off the ears of corn and spooned both the tomatoes and corn into the large container.  And it was time for the last ingredient...avocado!  The brown and green circular vegetables were sliced in half and cut into small chunks for the salad.  The bright yellow, red and green colors of the vegetables made the salad a sight to see.  The salad was covered in a lime juice, salt & pepper dressing with a drop of olive oil.
Although it was a tiring day, the long hours of preparation were worth every second.  I love to cook and this was the perfect opportunity.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sweetgrassy Greens

Today I was invited to lunch by my friend and her parents who are in town visiting for the weekend.  They were interested in trying out new restaurants, and it just so happened that Sweetgrass was next on the list.  I've been to Sweetgrass once before, for dinner, but have never been there for lunch so I was ready to join them on a new adventure.  Sweetgrass is a restaurant located by the Bloomington Hospital on West Patterson Drive.  From central campus, it took us about 10 minutes to get there.  As we walked into the restaurant, the burnt smell of the home-made buns and the strong odor of steak wafted through the air.  The menu was designed with a southern-home cookin' style.  Some items on the menu were fried green tomatoes, fish tacos and the ultimate "Hoosier Daddy Burger" (one I recommend for all "Hoosier Daddy's") .  I decided to play it simple this time and order the "Seabrooke Revival" salad with grilled chicken.  My stomach grumbled as I awaited my meal.  Out came a large white plate covered in dark green spinach leaves, topped with crisp cucumbers, split red grapes, a couple specks of creamy white goat cheese, miniature tan sesame seeds, sliced white onions and a heaping amount of grilled chicken.  Before my first bite, I sliced the long, lean pieces of grilled chicken in half and then dug in.  In one bite, I was able to taste the soft spinach leaves mixed with the burst of sweetness from the grapes, a small slice of chicken and the crunch from the cucumbers and onions.  The flavors were a match made in heaven.  I continued to take bite after bite, each time revealing another ingredient.  The chicken was cooked to perfection and the bed of salad was absolutely delicious.  After today, I am a Sweetgrass girl, all the way.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Mix it Up

As I opened the cereal cupboard in the kitchen of my Sorority house, my eyes scanned the top shelf, as I looked for my Rice Chex cereal.  I wanted to make something different, a fun food invention.  After seeing a couple of my Sorority sisters create these crazy colored, deliciously filled bags of homemade trail mix, I decided it was my turn.  I pulled out the box of cereal, measured a cup of Chex and dumped it into a small zip-loc baggy.  Then I added in a handful of dark red sticky Craisins and shook the bag, shuffling the food up and down.  Even with just two ingredients, this snack looked salty and sweet and ready to eat, but I could not stop there.  I waterfall-dropped some Almonds in the bag and again shook it up and down.  I returned to my room to finish off my creation, I rummaged in my food drawer until I found my last bag of freeze-dried fruit.  I tore the bag open and dumped in the freeze-dried strawberries and bananas.  The mix looked complete.  The colorful array of the burgundy Craisins, the bright redish-pink strawberries and the soft earth tones of the Chex cereal, the bananas and almonds.  My first bite was full of crunch of the Chex, mixed with a soft, squishy after bite from the Craisins.  The strawberries and bananas melted in my mouth, as I went back for a second bite.  There's something to be said about playing with your food when you're over the age of a toddler...but I'm not embarrassed to say, I play with my food and I have fun.