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Archive for the ‘Food Product for Home’ Category

Chia Pod, Coconut Water Probiotic and Hot Lips Soda

In Food, Food Product for Home on July 25, 2014 at 14:25

Review on several products that I liked recently from the grocery store.

First, this Chia Pod snack.

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It came in a small cup with many different flavors including this mango one that I had.

Chia seed was a healthful ingredient that was packed with very high amount of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids and lots of fiber.

It was very similar to the chia pudding that I got at Chaco Canyon minus the coconut milk.

The particular mango one tasted like Asian mango pudding with tapioca with a rice pudding consistency, and quite filling.

Chia seed products were not cheap and for about 6 oz. this cup cost about $3 on sale.

It was most definite an occasion healthy snack.

Next was the Good Belly probiotic coconut water.

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I was very happy to find a non-dairy non-soy probiotic product — got the benefit of good bugs to aid in digestion without dairy and perhaps GMO soy.

Good Belly offered many fruit juice versions with probiotic as well; I figured coconut water was the better option with its high electrolyte content vs. fruit juice that mainly contained sugar.

This coconut water drink still had grape juice in it, perhaps to satisfy the sugar requirement for fermentation.

Its flavor reminded me of the Japanese yogurt drink that I grew up with called Yakult — a fermented milk-base yogurt drink — but much lighter, less creamy and more refreshing.

Mild coconut flavor with slight white grape flavor, it was still a little sweeter than my liking; nevertheless definitely enjoyable over ice or with extra fizzy water.

Finally, relatively “healthier” delicious soda from Hot Lips.

We seldom drink soda because at the end, it was still empty calories of sugar.

However, in the rare occasion hot days that we had been experiencing in the Pacific Northwest, Hot Lips were mostly definitely treats for us.

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Hot Lips was a small pizza chain out of Portland, OR, and they bottled their own sodas that could be purchase at Total Wine or BevMo!

What made them highly coveted for me was the sodas were made with real fruit juice and certainly one of the cleanest ingredients one could find, usually contained sparkling water, fruit juice, lemon juice and cane sugar.

Juice content ranged anywhere from very low percentage for lemon and ginger (which were potent juices and understandably low amount of juice usage) to my favorite berry ones were about 10-15% juice to more than 90% for pear and cranberry.

Only the pear one was made with juice concentrate.

The fruits were all locally sourced in OR and native for us Northwesterners.

They had an array of flavors including exotic Marionberry, black raspberries, along with cranberries, pear, lemon and cherries to name a few.

On their website, they stated that they had special seasonal flavors on tap at their pizza stores — they were definitely on my to-go list next time I visit Portland.

My favorite was the Marionberry soda.

I loved that when I poured the soda into the glass, it was murky (black raspberries and red raspberries were also murky).

Literally as if berries where crushed into pulp, and fizzy water was added to it.

Beautiful purple color, with distinctive marionberry flavor, wild, light and refreshing, it felt like Pacific Northwest in a bottle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terra Plata and Cupcake Royale

In Eating Out, Food, Food Product for Home on July 23, 2014 at 10:55

Terra Plata, a local sustainable restaurant in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle.

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The triangular layout of the restaurant made the place fun with its inviting sliding doors opening to the street.

The heavy natural wood décor gave a very down to earth, layback feeling to the space.

DH and I came for brunch.

My curiosity led its way to their cherry drinking vinegar.

It was pungent, vinegary with very light cherry flavor and a grainy aftertaste.

Drinking vinegar had long been a folk medicine for many ailment including obesity and diabetics.

If I were to get into the habit of drinking it, I believe I would see it as “medicine” to take a shot of, rather than an enjoyment of a drink!

We waited for an unreasonably long time for our food and when we finally got our shishito peppers, they were great.

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It was cooked just right, fairly spicy hot, but a little too greasy in the mouthfeel.

The lemon aioli was delicious with the addition of chives.

The heat from the peppers slowly built up as I consumed more; and I loved that these peppers did not have a strong green pepper-like flavor that I found overwhelming at times.

DH got the pork hash with cauliflower, carrots, celery and potato.

The pork was chunky, a little spicy, very savory and the poach egg was delicious.

The runny egg yolk made the dish creamy.

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I had the pita sandwich with buttery fluffy eggs, sausages and arugula.

There was a “Spanish sauce” in the sandwich that was very delicious with unknown spices – perhaps cumin?

Roasted potatoes were crisp on the outer and nutty and soft inside.

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Food aside and most importantly of all, it was an enjoyable and rare brunch time outing with DH that I treasured.

Terra Plata on Urbanspoon

I was not a crazy cupcake fan, but my sister enjoyed them.

If I were to consume cupcake, I liked New York Cupcake’s.

I only wanted to try Cupcake Royale’s red velvet ice cream as it was out in the market for a very long while now.

We killed 2 birds with 1 stone when my sister visited.

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My sister got her favorite lavender cupcake, and bought the seasonal strawberry rhubarb crisp, cherry chocolate cheesecake and my favorite red velvet.

I loved the strawberry rhubarb cake with filling!

The cake was eggy, super fluffy with tart and awesome strawberry rhubarb filling.

The reason I preferred New York Cupcakes over Cupcake Royale was because of the icing.

I found Cupcake Royale’s icing often grainy, sugary and too sweet for my liking; unfortunately the strawberry rhubarb cupcake’s icing was no exception.

The cherry chocolate cheesecake cupcake minus the icing was very chocolaty goodness, visible cherry pieces was moist with nice flavor but the cream cheese icing was too cloying.

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As for the red velvet ice cream, I enjoyed it a lot!

delicious sweet cream ice cream which was super buttery, thick and rich, mixed with chunks of red velvet cake.

The resulting mouthfeel was a little mealy but did not bother me.

It had the expected cocoa flavor from the red velvet and also an unexpected saltiness from the cake which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Regrettably both DH and my sister did not enjoy the mealiness of the ice cream. — good news for me!!!

Cupcake Royale on Urbanspoon

Pike Place Market Good Eats Part II

In Eating Out, Food, Food Product for Home on June 23, 2014 at 12:34

Passed by lovely fresh fruits and vegetables,

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and after Uli’s sausage, next stop was Pure Food Fish.

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This was a must-stop for me to purchase smoked semi-dried salmon jerky.

These long thin strips of smoked salmon, smoky with lovely sweetness were my family’s favorite.

It looked like we were buying waist belts and most definitely a delight!

My father would buy them and brought them home to Hong Kong for further enjoyment.

Sadly the day I went there, they did not have it!

As an alternative, I bought some smoked salmon belly which was deliciously fatty and soft.

They were not cheap but surely very tasty.

Cut across the street up the hill to Rachel’s Ginger Beer.

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Had been hearing about this place for far too long and definitely worth the trip!

I tried almost all the flavors possible (must be more than 10!) and just loved the pungent real spicy fresh ginger in the soda!

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Overall, it was still a little too sweet for me, and we found ourselves diluting it with sparkling water when we got home.

Nonetheless they were still pleasure!

My favorite was the original, guava, blood orange and white peach.

There was a special red pepper that day but I could not get used to the strong pepper flavor in a sweet soda form.

Each growler (32 oz.) was pretty pricey — average about $16 with the original cheaper than flavored ones.

Fortunately the reuse program allowed refills to be discounted (I believe $8 for original and $11 for flavors).

We would be returning soon to refill!

Rachel's Ginger Beer on Urbanspoon
Last stop, Le Panier.

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Just could not resist the fantastic pastries in this place!

I had shown retrain and only bought chocolate croissant, peach tart and chocolate mousse cake to share with DH.

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The chocolate croissant was top-notch of flaky goodness with delicious chocolate pieces.

I loved the peach tart — lovely aromatic cooked peach on top of creamy smooth custardy pastry cream containing in a very buttery and crumbly crust, studded uniquely with chopped pistachio.

The chocolate mousse was supreme — not sweet at all and extremely chocolatey.

Every bite was decadent chocolate that managed to still be light and non-cloying.

Every piece of pastry, every loaf of bread and each sandwich looked so appetizing, everyone bound to be able to find something they would like here.

Le Panier on Urbanspoon

Pike Place Market Good Eats Part I

In Eating Out, Food, Food Product for Home on June 16, 2014 at 17:18

A whirlwind shopping and eating trip at Pike Place Market for about an hour and fifteen minutes before the crowd swarmed in on a quiet Friday morning.

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It was always plenty of fun to go but parking could really be a hassle; Friday morning proved to be not so bad.

We started off with breakfast at The Crumpet Shop.

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The store was filled with people and they were certainly speedy as the line moved quickly.

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I usually went for simple crumpet with butter and honey with a cup of fabulous and aromatic tea.

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Crumpet reminded me of English muffin, perhaps because both were yeasty and with visible holes (one outside and one inside); basic ingredients were similar.

Texture of the 2, however, was completely difference experience.

The crumpet was crust hard outside, chewy, soft and spongy inside.

I loved their honey because it was very floral with lovely sweetness.

I got the Crumpet Store Blend tea heavy with Darjeeling, it was very strong in bergamot, smooth and floral.

My girlfriend got one with egg and salmon.

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I ordered a scone to-go for DH.

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Their scone was chewier and breadier than traditional scone such as Murchie’s, and amazingly buttery, dry on the edges and crusty.

The zesty lemon curd was delightful — tart, sweet and creamy.

It was a treat to visit the store and had something unique and different.

The Crumpet Shop on Urbanspoon

Next stop, picked up some Uli’s sausages for dinner.

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I got a couple exotic sausages and one of them was the spicy Merguez.

This was a very spicy lamb sausage with garlic as the primary flavor.

The sausage was popular in North Africa, France and Belgium.

I loved the flavors but found the meat a little mealy.

Then we had the South African Boerewor.

The flavor was very floral and perfumy likely due to the large amount of coriander.

The bacon sausage was my favorite.

It was a new experience of eating bacon without the grease, coupled with a crunchy bouncy sausage texture which was wonderful.

The German Thueringer had the best bouncy texture of all the sausages with lovely sweet flavors.

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Must go back for more!

Uli's Famous Sausage on Urbanspoon

 

Garlic and Sapphire, Crumble and Flake

In Books, Food, Food Media, Food Product for Home on June 11, 2014 at 10:52

Garlic and Sapphire by Ruth Reichl

This book was absolutely eye-opening and an extremely fun book to read, especially for food nuts!

It told the experiences of the author, Ruth Reichl, when she was the restaurant critic for New York Times.

I would have never guessed that multiple disguises, with different personalities would be involved in writing about restaurants!

The author wrote in details of her encounters with people around her, the services and attitudes she received as these alter egos.

All the work to make sure she had a full spectrum and clear understanding of each restaurant she was writing about — and what a contrast to the tweeting and instantaneity of today’s society!

Ruth went to each restaurant at least 5 times before she wrote a review, and made sure she was not recognized in some of those visits — inevitably the New York Times critic would be treated far superior with better table and services, bigger and fresher portions of food and larger berries on desserts.

It was fascinating to read about those encounters when she dressed up as an old lady, or someone who did not seem to be rich, or a blonde.

It gave me to jolt of a reminder that how quickly we tended to judge people in general — is it right or is it wrong?  something to ponder on.

Personally as a food blogger writing about my restaurant experiences, this was a bible.

Particularly the inclusion of the actual reviews that Ruth wrote.

They opened my eyes to how descriptive writing could be; and to experience as if I was sitting in the restaurant having that exact same meal the author was writing about.

The power of descriptive writing — something I am slowly learning — and does not come natural to me especially all my experience are in technical scientific reporting.

The book also contained recipes for times when we wanted to roll up our sleeves!

—-

Finally stopped by Crumble and Flake on Capitol Hill — I was speechless!

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Their pastries were really delicious!

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I tried the chocolate croissant, lavender cherry scone, double chocolate brownie, cream puff and canele that day.

Since it was difficult to park around the shop, I did a dash and run while DH waited outside in the car.

First thing I ate when I ran back to the car was the cream puff!

Couldn’t let it get soggy!

These cream puffs were amazingly yummy and they were filled-to-order.

They offered classic flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, blackberry etc. and they particular day, they had yuzu — I immediately went for that!

The cream puffs had crunchy tops with crystalline sugar, but bready and chewy inside.

The yuzu filling was this dense pastry cream which was very nice with just the right amount of sweetness and the lovely scent of sweet grapefruit.

This definitely made Beard Papa paled.

The chocolate croissant was very flaky — as the store name!

It had a generous amount of chocolate, buttery with many layers to savor on.

The scone was another buttery treasure with mild lavender and plump cherries.

I applauded the perfect amount of lavender used in the scone — it tasted just a hint of floral without the soapiness or perfumey scent when it was overused.

Sugar on top of the scone gave the crunch on the overall dryer and denser yet tasty scone.

It was lavished with cherries in it which I loved!

I just wish the scone would be bigger!

The Canele was amazing!!

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Tiny little treat, they only made them on the weekends.

It had a crunchy hard outer shell tasted like it was made with burnt sugar and the inside was moist, custardy, heavenly laced with vanilla and rum.

It was very eggy which was ultra delicious and tasted just like the custard in bread budding except quite a bit chewier in texture.

The double chocolate brownie was incredible.

It had strong dark chocolate flavor without the sweetness.

It was not chewy in texture but much softer and gentler in the mouth.

It almost boarder to be chocolate mousse instead but it had the rigidity to stand on its own and sustained the car ride home in a bag.

These awesome treats were pricey, they were $3-$4 a piece in small sizes.

What we were paying for was delectable art work.
Crumble & Flake Patisserie on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

 

 

Persian Sweets II and Yeh Yeh’s

In Eating Out, Food, Food Product for Home on April 30, 2014 at 10:44

The same trip that I discovered Faloudeh from the Persian market, I also bought Sesame Pashmak — another traditional Iranian dessert made of sesame, sugar, pistachio and vanillin.

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I loved the prominent sesame flavor in this dessert; and it was the texture that was really fun.

It reminded me of a traditional Chinese candy that I used to enjoy growing up called dragon beard candy, 龍鬚糖.

Dragon beard candy looked like a cocoon made of pulled super fine sugar strands.

Inside the candy, one would find finely chopped peanuts and sometimes coconut.

Having dragon beard candy was a textural journey of its own; and it was considered a culinary art of China.

Pashmak was very similar to dragon beard candy.

The strands were coarser than dragon bear candy, and it looked like sesame was blended with sugar.

It was not formed like a cocoon and with no stuffing inside.

The initial sensation was a huge hit of vanillin flavor in the mouth; then I could feel the texture of many threads, which disappear relatively quickly — similar to melting cotton candy in the mouth, created this silky and velvety sensation.

Very shortly as the interest in texture faded away, a huge wave of roasted sesame, nutty flavor surged right up.

Pistachio were sparsely interlaced among the strands and gave a crunchy texture to an otherwise soft and delicate texture.

All these sensorial experience happened in manner of seconds — making Pashmak a unique tasting experience.

As a dessert with sugar as one of the primary ingredients,  I was surprised to find it not too sweet.

Pashmak was such a treat!

– — – — – —

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This tiny shop, Yeh Yeh’s, in Bellevue specialized in Vietnamese sandwiches, salads and beef stew only.

A cheap(er), dependable, good-eat spot.

I liked their Vietnamese sandwiches especially when it was consumed right after they were ordered — warm and toasty with large amount of well-pickled and sweet carrots and radishes.

Layered with jalapenos and cilantro, the sandwich was aromatic and fresh.

There was many choices of meats: beef, pork, chicken, tofu, brisket, ham and BBQ pork.

I usually stayed with the delicious and traditional soy-garlic marinated pork.

The only potentially inauthentic part was the existence of a tasty mayo-like spread in the sandwich.

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I loved the simple noodle salad, Bun.

It was extremely refreshing with the traditional lime dressing and the addition of mint leaves – a very nice touch that gave a simple twist to the flavor dimension.

Under category salad, one could pick either noodles or green papaya.

Each order came with 2 choices of proteins (pork, beef, chicken, tofu) including Vietnamese eggroll as one of the options.

The rice vermicelli was always well cooked and never stuck together.

Mixing each bite of the cold noodle with the pickled root vegetables and cucumbers was of the most soothing experience in hot summer days.

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Yeh Yeh’s definitely was not the cheapest (still east side price) in the Greater Seattle area, but it was a great place as an eastside option.

Yeh Yeh's Vietnamese Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

Persian Sweets and Couzin’s Cafe

In Eating Out, Food, Food Product for Home on April 23, 2014 at 11:03

We went into a newly opened Persian market in my neighborhood.

My Dad and I loved checking out ethnic grocery stores.

It was so much fun to see foods that were exotic, ask questions and learn along the way the different ingredients we normally did not use, nor exposed to in a regular basis.

Adventurous and exciting!

Some goods were familiar as they were goods from Bulgaria or Armenia — olives, tomatoes, vegetable spreads (similar to Zacuscă from Romania), different kinds of jams (notably young walnut jam and rose jam).

There were also others that were unfamiliar, e.g. bags of dried whole lemon and whole lime.

The shopkeeper told me they were for boiling teas or soup making.

We also found these desserts that were completely foreign.

The more different they were, the more I wanted to try!

We got Faloudeh to try.

Upon reading online, we found out that Faloudeh was a traditional Iranian dessert.

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Unfortunately, we were trying it un-authentically.

Shopkeeper said that I should let it semi-melt, then add lemon juice and chopped pistachio.

I had neither at home so we tried Faloudeh straight, still semi-melted at least!

It was a lovely light dessert made with simple ingredients of water, sugar, rose water and starch.

The starch was made into vermicelli like noodle, and frozen with sweetened rose water.

In the past, I had dessert made with rose water and I was not a fan.

I found them too fragrant, too floral in a way that it felt not meant for eating.

The amount of rose flavor in this Faloudeh was just right, slightly floral, light hint of rose and very pleasing.

The dessert was refreshing and thirst-quenching.

I could see myself buying this a lot (or try to make this myself!) when our temperature gets hot here in the Northwest!

—-

There was not really any good breakfast places on the eastside.

Found Couzin’s Café in Kirkland that was rated pretty high, decided to bring my folks to give it a try.

We went on a Sunday and there was definitely a line out the door to this tiny spot.

We were lucky that space opened up for us in about half and hour and service was pretty quick!

I rarely had American full breakfast and decided to go all out with country fried steak.

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Crisp English muffin (with loads of butter), crisp hash brown and runny sunny side up — checked.

Not wow but tasty.

The beef was thin, tender and crisp, with great flavors in the breading.

I only wish the gravy was not as starchy; it was a little sticky to the teeth and palate.

Flavor of the gravy was good — nice peppery chicken flavor, what I would expect in a good diner.

My Dad had the pigs in the blanket.

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He did not like the apple sausages.

I believe because he was not used to sage — sage was not used in Chinese cooking.

I quite enjoyed the apple compote and caramel sauce; it had nice brown spice flavors.

The pancake batter had very good flavor, but it was a little dense.

My mom had the blueberry crepe.

Same story as the pancake, the crepe batter flavor was good and with strong vanilla, but it was soggy in texture and thick.

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I will return when I have a serious country/chicken fried steak craving and want to stay on the eastside.

Couzin's Cafe on Urbanspoon

 

 

Kombucha and Water Kefir

In Food, Food Product for Home, Health on March 10, 2014 at 10:12

Doof In

We used to drink a lot of store-bought Kombucha.

Kombucha was a fermented tea and sugar drink which contains bacteria and yeast.

Similar to the making of alcoholic beverages, fermentation of sugars yielded alcohol and carbon dioxide.

The amount of alcohol in Kombucha was very low (about 1%), however, some brands in the market still had warning labels on them.

Kombucha had its origin traced back to China before 1910.

There were many other health benefits from drinking kombucha such as easing joint pain and high blood pressure etc. but there were not enough evidence to substantiate these claims.

We drank it for the good “bugs” that would aid in digestion.

Since I could not have dairy all the time, and other yogurt had not been the best tasting (I had tried coconut, soy and almond milk yogurt), kombucha was a good alternative.

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DH liked the Bucha since it was sweeter, more added flavor with very low alcohol content.

I liked Synergy better as it was less sweet.

The kobucha flavor was more prominent and the company offered one high (black wrapping around the top) and one low alcohol version of their products.

Kombucha, however, were very expensive at the store.

I only bought them when they were on sale and it was still $3 a bottle for 16 oz.

I decided to look into brewing kombucha myself to reduce cost, and started research on home-brew kombucha.

I was looking into getting the “mother”, which was the bacteria/yeast mass for brewing, and a continuous system for brewing (similar to a water cooler with sprout to release brewed kombucha rather than batch by batch with lots of “mother” handling).

However, there was plenty concerns and warnings about keeping the brew within its desirable temperature range (74F to 84F) to discourage other harmful bacteria growth.

This desirable temperature range was really high for us in the NW.

My house was constantly heating at 68F.

I would have to purchase a heating mat for the brewing system – additional expense.

Furthermore, I could not quite figure out what I was going to do with the new mother from every new batch.

It could not be stored too long, and there were limited people I could give them away; I supposed I could sell them — but all seemed to be a hassle.

Then, when I went home to Hong Kong, my aunt introduced me to water kefir.

Similar idea to Kombucha, kefir were grains of bacteria and yeasts, and also provided probiotic benefits to human when we consumed it.

Some folks called the water kefir drink “the healthy soda”.

It was slightly bubbly tingling in the mouth, low in sugar, with a hint of tartness, alcohol and yeastiness.

There were milk-based kefir products at places such as Whole Foods in their dairy aisle.

The milk kefir and water kefir were different strains of bacteria and yeasts; and water kefir was attractive to me because it required no dairy.

All I need was sugar and water!

<…to be continued…>

Fed Up with lunch and Fake Cheese

In Books, Food, Food Media, Food Product for Home on March 6, 2014 at 11:20

Doof Media

Fed Up With Lunch Book Cover

Finally got around to read Fed Up with Lunch — and what an additive book!

The book documented the journey of the author, a speech pathologist from the Chicago public school system, secretly and diligently blogging about her consumption of school lunch for a year.

She accidentally stumbled into school lunch and realized how bad the quality of foods were, and decided to take pictures of the food she consumed every day.

The book included some of the pictures of these foods, and I was at awe: mysterious formed meat, fried food, frozen desserts high in sugar (high fructose corn syrup!) and lack of fresh fruit and vegetables.

A lot of the food served in the author’s school district were frozen foods and it was difficult to find the list of ingredients for these foods.

USDA’s guideline did not help children’s cause either as the guideline allow fries to be counted as vegetables, fruit juice was counted as a fruit requirement.

She also found out that children at her school did not even have enough time to eat lunch even if they wanted to.

The author concluded that both low nutritional value of the food and lack of time to consume lunch contribute to the reduced learning ability due to lack of energy (or hyper when too much sugar was consumed).

Her blog was very successful and created tremendous amount of discussions and brought school lunch program to the limelight.

She went from anonymously blogging about school lunch to becoming an advocate for better school food for children.

She was interviewed by TV, radio shows to spread the word of her cause.

The book included how everyone could get involved, and become more educated about the food that was served in the school system.

I found this book very inspiring and it showed the potential of grass root movements.

To folks with children, this book brought awareness to the food children were consuming at school.

To educators, this book brought awareness as how nutrition might be affecting the way children learn.

To the rest, I believe this book was still relevant as it tied into health care reform and economic productivity.

If children did not have good examples on how to eat well, they would likely carry the habit throughout their lives.

Potential health issues down the line and increase amount of people dependent on drugs and health care.

The potential reduced learning ability put us behind in this competitive world, and needless to say actual drop in productivity if the children continue on with the poor eating habits as adults.

I believe this topic touched on everyone whether or not we are directly involved with children.

Doof Home

The challenge I found cooking vegan or vegetarian without dairy was mouthfeel.

Shy of making cashew cream/cheese, there really was not many substitution.

When I saw Daiya, I caved.

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A vegan cheese that claimed it would melt and stretch.

The food science training had kicked in and I was very curious about this product.

I bought their cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese.

Ingredients was not simple, which was to be expected.

It was mainly made with starch and oils, along with pea protein etc.

Initial observation: it did look like shredded cheese.

I only used the mozzarella so far, and once opened, the aroma was a little off.

The mozzarella smelled buttery, and not in a good way; it reminded me of the microwave popcorn, but weaker.

I proceeded to used it in my baked pasta, anticipating the melty cheese that I had so much longed for.

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The above picture depicted the baked pasta being in the oven at 380F for 20mins.

Upon looking at their website, the company said that their cheese held their shape so they would not look melted but it was indeed melted.

My experience was that it did not melt enough to produce the same effect from cheese.

The buttery flavor of the mozzarella still bothered me a little as it did not seem natural.

All in all, I was disappointed with my first go.

Perhaps I would try it in different application with larger amount next time.

There was also hope with the cheddar cheese.

Verdict on the mozzarella: I would not buy it again.

The product being “unnatural” and did not mimic mozzarella enough (which was a tall order), it was a poor substitute and I would rather skip the cheese.

The Commons and Dumplings

In Eating Out, Food, Food Product for Home on January 31, 2014 at 15:59

Doof Out

We had a girls night out at the Commons in the quiet wine country Woodinville.

I heard that this place was opened by the same people who owned Purple Café and Wine Bar.

The place was very causal with sandwiches, burgers and biscuits to choose from their menu.

Since I did not have to drive that night, I also tried one of the delicious-sounding boozy milkshake, Feldberg.

The drink was sinfully yummy and strong!

It was made with bourbon, chocolate liqueur and coffee liqueur with ice cream and amaretto syrup.

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It was super thick, cold and creamy, and I had to share this with my girlfriends since it was very substantial.

I really wanted to try their biscuits and ordered the maple braised pork belly biscuits with spinach, fried eggs and grilled onions.

I love this!

The portion was very generous and the pork belly was the lean kind which I preferred.

The maple gave a hint of sweetness to the sandwich and the egg added creaminess from its runny egg yolks.

The biscuit itself was crumbly inside and a harder tasty crust outside, it was quite wonderful!

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My friend really wanted a burger, and we got the Woodinville Whiskey BBQ burger with onions and pickles.

The Commons used decent beef from Painted Hills, which were grass-fed and all natural with no added chemicals.

The burger was done just right and fairly flavorful — nothing to write home about though.

Portion was again quite huge.

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We got some vegetables on the sides and they were the highlights of the night: a fried brussels sprouts with bacon, garlic, maple syrup and apple cider glaze, and a farro and spinach salad.

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The brussels sprouts were awesomely delicious – sweet and salty with the smokiness from the bacon, I could eat that non-stop!

The farro and spinach salad was very creative and I thoroughly enjoyed the combination of the ingredients.

It had chopped cauliflowers, tomatoes, red onions along with the farro and spinach.

The mix of ingredients worked really well both in flavors and in texture – some crunchiness and some chewiness at the same time.

The experience was not “WOW”; on the other hand, nothing we tried had disappointed us.

It was a safe option with plenty of great drinks!

The Commons on Urbanspoon

Doof In

Discovered this WOW and amazingly delicious gyoza from our area Costco — Ajinomoto Gyoza.

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Unfortunately it did not have a completely clean ingredient list, but it was really delicious.

Most importantly, every one could make perfect gyoza!

The revolutionary smart food technology was that each tray of the dumplings already came with frozen ice and oil mixture, and the company called it EZ ice.

Literally, all we needed was a hot pan, and added frozen dumplings in the pan.

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The ice/oil mixture slowly melted over the gyoza, and cooked them perfectly.

I was just marveled by the fact that added frozen ice and oil mixture to the packaging seemed to be a simple thing to do, but I had not encounter a product like this until now.

It was a fantastic idea!

The instruction said it would take 12 mins to finish cooking, and I had waited longer than that.

Once all the water evaporated, the gyoza were left with the perfect crisp bottom.

The gyoza skin was very thin and with the right chewiness, and the meat and cabbage fillings were tasty with crunches from the water chestnuts.

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I found the gyoza plenty salty, and skipped the sauce that came with the packaging.

Ajinomoto was famous as the producer of MSG.

I looked for MSG immediately on the package and could not find any.

However, there was the combination of disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate which were both flavor enhancers, and function similar to MSG.

If eating clean-ingredient food was important, this product was definitely not a candidate.

As an infrequent quick food, I believe this was still a great option.