Saturday, February 19, 2011

Feria Gastronómica Pictures

Plaza Tupac Amaru in Cusco, which I visited in early August 2010. Read the original post.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Here's that Tasty Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread!

An Assault on Everyone That Has Sex. Seriously.

"Did you hear? The House voted to bar Planned Parenthood from federal funding. They cut funding for HIV tests, cancer screenings, birth control, and more, putting millions of women and families at risk. We can't let it go unanswered. It's time for you and me to stand with Planned Parenthood. Sign the open letter to the reps who voted for this bill -- and to the senators who still have a chance to stop it."

I have to say it. Preventing people from knowing that they have choices, that their lives don't have to be dictated by a lack of reproductive care- including abortions!- is treating them as if they were less than human. Not everyone has private insurance or adequate coverage or even lives where one can easily and discretely get reproductive care from a quality healthcare practitioner. And now even more people will be denied access to these critical services. Tell me my body land, to be annexed and legislated upon? Is it a dangerous commodity to be regulated? My body is not imperial territory, and just in case you forget, there is already a resistance brewing in me. I hope this country doesn't continue down this road, but I worry.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

Today I was craving some savory cornbread, so I decided to do a twist on jalapeño cheddar bread. I use the basic recipe from the back of Quaker cornmeal since it has just enough sweetness and is fairly fluffy. This time, I didn’t quite have enough cornmeal, so I upped the flour content hoping that would produce more cake-like bread. I added a few handfuls of what Dominick’s/Safeway calls ‘Mexican blend” finely shredded cheese, which is mostly cheddar, and a big handful of diced green bell pepper.

Originally I wanted to use a blend of jalapeños and green pepper, but the amount of pepper I like in my cornbread would be overwhelming with spicy peppers. Instead, I was generous with the bell pepper (you could use red, or any other peppers you like) and added some chili powder, salt and pepper to them before folding them into the batter. I greased a 9x9 pan with oil because butter has a lower burn temperature, and set the timer to 20 minutes (the low end of the recommended bake time). I find that the shorter time is plenty in my oven, and my cornbread comes out just golden on the top and sides.

I sliced it up right out of the oven even though I know you’re supposed to let it rest. I'll be smelled too good to wait. As I had hoped, the texture was fluffy and light and the taste was all corn and peppers. The cheese added a creamy element that balanced the bite of peppers, handily emphasized by the pat of butter I put atop my steaming slice. It was delicious and I will definitely be making this delectable snack again-maybe with a pot of chili.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pho 888

Though I can’t say I’ll do it more than strictly necessary, the journey up to Andersonville was made thoroughly worth it by the bowl of pho I had at Pho 888. Like many great Asian spots, the space itself is forgettable and filled with odd surreal prints, silk plants and clippings from newspapers attesting to the quality of the soup. My friend ushered me in claiming that this was the “best pho I’ve ever put in my mouth” so I was reservedly hoping for a treat. We had to wait for about fifteen minutes in the steamy, fragrant interior, but at 8:30 pm on a Friday in a ten table restaurant it wasn’t a terrible inconvenience. Another party had called ahead to set aside a table, which struck me as a bit over the top for a casual noodle spot.

Anyway, we were seated and given a pretty extensive menu including several styles of noodle soup and other entrees. I went with a traditional pho with rare round-eye steak and well-done flank steak, served in the Southern Vietnamese style with lots of bean sprouts, fresh Thai basil, jalapeños and lime. The broth was clean but richly beef flavored, complex with star anise, cinnamon, onions and just a little fat. Who knows what else contributed to the delicious taste, but I would happily eat bowls of that broth every day. The thin rice noodles were the perfect texture, slightly chewy and resistant to the teeth instead of the mushy noodles common at lesser establishments. The beef was lean and of decent quality, particularly the tender flank steak. My friend had a grilled beef pho in which the meat had a lovely sweet smoky taste that infused the broth. I’ll order that if I ever get sick of the traditional pho…unlikely as that is. I ate the entire bowl (almost) and left feeling delightfully replete.

Pho 888 can be found at:
1137 W Argyle St (at Broadway St)
Chicago, IL 60640
Neighborhood: Andersonville/Uptown
(773) 907-8838

I believe it is open until ten, at least on Fridays, and is BYOB. For those of you on CTA, it is literally down the block from the Argyle Red Line stop. Check it out!