Library of Eats

Memories often revolve around food- family gatherings, special outings and the everyday, nourishing the body and soul.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Inspiring artists: Plate as form

I would like to highlight two artists that I have read about lately that I find inspiring.  I will feature a few artists that work in a food-related realm.

  • Julie Green is working around the difficult topic of capital punishment. She documents the last meal of inmates prior to their execution in The Last Supper.  The variety from normal cafeteria fare, fast food, to  custom meals.  It illustrates the lack of humanity and dignity for inmates. One of the most touching plates I saw had a quote from one of the prison officials printed on it and a picture of a birthday cake; the inmate never had a birthday cake, so they invited his/her family and friends to have pizza and cake.  I am proud that Minnesota no longer has the death penalty, and support Julie's mission to make 50 plates a year until the death penalty is abolished. 
  • Have you ever wanted to eat in a museum?  Aki Shibata created an interactive exhibit and social experiment, where community members joined her in the museum for conversation over a meal.  I love the idea of stumbling upon them while enjoying artwork and being taken back by the everyday occurrence in a new place. Do you join in, listen, sit and watch, or move along?  I wish I could have visited or better yet participated when First Dates exhibited.
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Monday, March 17, 2014

Fast Food Fish Sandwich Smackdown

I grew up with fish sticks or McDonald's Filet-o-Fish on Fridays during Lent.  Well, Charlie and I always have a fish sandwich and shamrock shake the weekend of St. Patrick's Day.  This year there were a lot of ads for other sandwiches, so we were curious, which is the best?  Here is my ranking:

  1. Arby's- Who would guess that the best fast food fish sandwich would be from a roast beef place?  The fish was flaky, and the bun to fish ratio was perfect.  The tarter sauce was good, and the lettuce crunchy.  This is my new favorite. 
  2. Wendy's- This came in a close second, as I liked the proportions, but Arby's seasoning was better.
  3. Hardees- There aren't many left in the Twin Cities, but there happens to be one on my way home on Hamline.  This sandwich is not breaded and fried like all the others, and is on a wheat bun.  A refreshing change, and I would get this again when in the neighborhood.
  4. McDonald's- Charlie still likes this one for nostalgia reasons, but I find it limp and often too full of tarter sauce.
  5. White Castle- A horrible waste of fish squeezed into a rectangular patty.
Give one of the new sandwiches a try! 

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Restaurant Overviews: Cam Rahn Bay, Sen Yai Sen Lek, and Pizzeria Lola

A few weeks ago my mom and I had lunch at Cam Ranh Bay in Burnsville.  Thanks mom for coming to my side of the world! What a great place for lunch- no frills, but good service and with a $6.95 lunch special you can't go wrong!  We had wonton soup, with a nice clear and fresh broth. Then spring rolls, which was so-so- mostly cabbage, so I would like to try something else from their appetizers.  We both had the rice noodle bowl with either pork or beef.  Lots of fresh cabbage and bean sprouts, and delicious sauce to accompany it.  Top it off with a sweet roll and you have a great lunch.

 After a week or two of trying to schedule dinner Christine R and I were able to get-together to catch-up on life and of course for me to get my Lia Sophia bobbles that I ordered.  I love my navy and green bracelet- best thing from that order! Since Christine also loves Thai, we decided to give Sen Yai Sen Lek a try.  It was quite delicious!

A great Tom Yum cup of soup, with a slightly sour taste that I love from the lime leaves.

 Their fresh thai spring rolls are unlike any other that I have tried. I must say that they are my new favorite!  The marinated tofu, sausage, bean sprouts, onion, and omelet strip make for a unique balance of textures and flavors.

 My favorite Thai dish is Pad Woon Sen, so I had to try it here. I will honestly say it was only okay.  I asked for it as a medium, and it really had no spice at all.  They needed to bump up the spices, but the crispy vegetables were delicious.
I also finally tried Pizzeria Lola's Korean BBQ Pizza as takeout. It was delicious; I love the soy chili drizzle.  I actually meant to order the Lady Zaza, so I will have to go back. 
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February 16 Recipe Round-up

Over the past month I have been pretty busy with work, so Charlie has made some yummy dishes.  Here are a few of the items we have made that folks might like.
  • Alton Brown's Green Bean Casserole is amazing!  You will NEVER go back to Cambell's canned soup again.  
  • We had a pretty bad pork chop slow cooker recipe from my cookbook the week before, but we recovered with these amazing Alton Brown's Slow Cooker Pork Chops- the dried apples made it.  Make sure you rinse them well, otherwise it will be too salty with the brine.
  • During the super bowl party I made this great Pull-Apart Pizza Bread.  I just used store bought Archer Farms Supreme pizza sauce for dipping.  For Italian seasoning I used basil, oregano, and parsley. My brother ate 1/2 the ring, so it is a winner!

  • For Friday's coffee and treat day I made these oatmeal lace cookies.  They were great, especially if you love caramel. Our student worker took the few leftover back to his dorm as valentines <3

As a side note I am addicted to Good Earth's Sweet and Spicy tea lately, especially the orange cinnamon kick. 
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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Winter Bliss: Skating and Sweet and Sour Pork

Well, I haven't been on skates since at least high school until today!  We spent the first day in the 30's in over a week on the rink.  Charlie was doing double duty teaching our nephew Ryan and I how to skate.  I think I fell more than Ryan, and have the bruises to prove it.  I still don't know how to stop, but it was so much fun.  Plus, I learned hockey skates are way more comfortable than figure skates!

What better after a long day outside and running errands than a crockpot meal. This evening I tried a recipe from one of the first Valentine's Day gifts I gave Charlie,  How to Make Love and Dinner at the Same Time. We have liked all the recipes tried to date, and tonight's Sweet and Sour Pork was no different.  I tweaked it a little bit.  To go with it maybe my new favorite Szechuan Green Beans, since they are so spicy, easy, and light (no frying like most recipes).

I hope you enjoy these on a cold wintery night!

Sweet and Sour Pork
 Serves 4
 2 lbs of pork, cubed (I did a pork roast)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1-2 carrots, chopped
1 20 ounce can of pinapple chunks, in juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cidar
1/4 cup orange juice
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
1-2 tablespoons worcheshire sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons cornstarch

  1. Place pork, pepper, onion, and carrot in the crockpot.
  2. Drain the Pineapple, reserving the chunks for later,
  3. In a bowl, combine the pineapple juice, brown sugar, cider vinegar, orange juice, soy sauce,  and Worcestershire sauce; stir and add to crockpot. 
  4. Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours, or HIGH for 2 1/2-3 hours. (I did high for 2 1/2)
  5. Mix together cornstarch and water, and stir into crockpot.
  6. Stir in pineapple chunks, and cook for 20 minutes on HIGH.
Click here for the amazing and easy Szechuan Green Beans

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Cranberry Cream Cheese Wonton

So our Thanksgiving leftovers are long gone, except for the cranberry relish.  I was wondering what I could do with it.  I remembered the delicious cranberry cream cheese wontons Azia had ages ago, so I decided to try that.  I mixed 1/2 cup of cranberry relish with 8oz cream cheese, and added a dash of ginger and curry powder. 

The result was mixed.  I was lazy and baked them instead of frying, which is healthier, but I prefer them more golden.  Also, adding so much of the relish was too sweet.  I think next time I will try just fresh cranberries and naturally sweeten it with honey.

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

July 4th Celebration 2013

I hope everyone had a fabulous 4th of July weekend.  We celebrated with the Mastel side this year; sitting by the pool, playing with all the kids, and running around with sparklers.  Here are the recipes that the Mastel's had at the picnic this year.


My adorable niece, nephew, and their cousin Rowan.


The most amazing fried chicken sandwich ever!  Make this now.  I would add extra slaw, as the sweet tang is fantastic.  We also put the spicy mayo on the top and bottom buns.  Ready, set, go!

Here is the basic recipe for the strawberry balsamic cupcakes I brought to the 4th.  I reduced the strawberry reduction down to a jammy consistency, so the sugars were even more concentrated.  For the cupcake part I adapted Magnolia's Vanilla Cupcake recipe just slightly by adding 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder to get more lift, along with using a combination of AP and cake flours.

Sadly, no one wanted any of the strawberry balsamic ice cream or vanilla ice cream I made.  It was divine with the cupcakes.  Oh well, more for me.

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