Friday, October 29, 2010

Eggs in Hades

This is my take on the popular (and ridiculously simple) Eggs in Hell dish. I add ham - thus, the play on words. Here's my version for a quick breakfast (or dinner - it was mine last Friday). By the way, that pic is not mine, it's Rick Tramonto's version, which I'm certain is much more fancified. My version, however, is ready in ten minutes. I may take a cue from the Chicago chef though, and use individual-sized skillets next time. The presentation is awesome. Oh well, here's my cheap (yet still, pretty darned delicious) method...

4 fresh eggs
1 jar marinara sauce
1/2 lb. lean honey-smoked ham, diced or cubed
2-3 tbsp. grated parmesan

Spray large non-stick skillet with cooking spray, and heat to medium high. Once the pan is warm, add ham and brown. Reduce heat to medium low and add roughly two-thirds of the jar of sauce; stir. Crack 4 eggs over the sauce combination. Do not stir. Cover for 10 minutes and continue to let simmer until eggs are fully cooked (outsides are white and yolks are gelatinous). Sprinkle each egg with a dusting of parmesan just before serving. Serves four (add a piece of crusty bread or whole grain toast for dipping).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Helmet Head

It would not be an overstatement to say that in our house, we're a bit football-obsessed. I love the imperfectly emotional and dramatic play of college ball, even the BCS system  and all its flaws (more of a love-hate thing). C loves the precision, speed, and force of professional football. Well, he loves the Redskins, and he loves fantasy football, and loves the game itself. Thus, he loves the NFL, just maybe not all of its virtues and policies. With the birth of our son, I think it was forgone conclusion that Baby H too, would be indoctrinated into Friday Night Lights, College GameDay, and Any Given Sunday.

So, with the near constant presence of games and SportsCenter at our place, it's no surprise that the great helmet debate would enter our worldview. (In case it doesn't enter yours, four players suffered concussions Sunday from helmet-to-helmet hits - i.e., when one player runs into another's head with his own. These incidents occurred a day after a Rutgers University player was rendered quadriplegic as a result of a similar hit.)

Thinking about this from a mama perspective, I have to admit that I'm a little shocked about reactions, both fans' and players', to the NFL's new ruling (suspension for any helmet-to-helmet hits) . For the ruling's hypocrisy, sure, I understand the indignation, but not for its substance. This is not about pretty-boy QBs who prefer to not touch (except for between the center's legs) or be touched while playing football - this is about violent head butts laid with launching force. These fans and players, presumably most are parents too, cannot possibly be thinking about it from their childrens' perspectives, can they?! Look, I am no perfect parent - I do something wrong and second-guess myself daily. I learn from those mistakes, and continue to try to do right by and what's best for my son. As I noted before, I would be kidding myself if I said that I didn't want him to play football. As a result, I cannot pretend that he will not be without pressure to do so (no, not the kind of "you have to play" pressure, but more of the "I know my parents love football, and I love my parents, so I want to play football"  internal kind of pressure).  

In my imperfection, my little guy falls and gets boo-boos. Every single time, it nearly kills me. I cannot imagine the pain and fear I would experience if ever I saw the little man (though he would not be such a little man at the time) go down from a helmet-to-helmet tackle. 

NFL players are paid a lot of money to take on the risks of the violence of the game. I get that. I also get that many of these players are paid the bug bucks to lay down severe hits that hurt to even watch. But, they are also being paid to be role models, whether they like it or not. Yes, the NFL may profit from their violence, but it doesn't change the fact that little kids idolize these players and every thing they do. Kids want to do what the big boys do, including tackling with debilitating force.

I don't pretend to know if the solution should be the NFL's new policy of suspension, safer helmets, or as crazy Mike Ditka proposes, no helmets. But, of one thing I am certain - I'm glad Baby H will not be donning a football uniform for almost ten years. Maybe by then, I won't have to choose between love and safety to allow him to play a game I know he'll adore.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dining Guide Destinations

It's that time of year again - Tom Sietsema's annual WaPo Dining Guide is out. Time to get excited! With it, some things are confirmed (that the Inn at Little Washington, Restaurant Eve's Tasting Room, and Komi are all pretty awesome); others leave us wondering (no CityZen - hmm, maybe it took to serving up cuisine on par with Sou'Wester); still others leave us wanting to try new things (many, many of those). So, I pose to you readers, what's next amongst the WaPo top tier? Is Citronelle really worth the big bucks? Should we try the lounge instead? How about Michel's new eponymous Tyson's Corner location instead?

One little other note - I've been raving about Praline in Bethesda for years. Part of me is bummed that I'll have to deal with crowds larger than just the pushy ladies-who-lunch who currently frequent the place (okay, perhaps it's me who's pushy), but I'm also satisfied to see a little whole in the wall (or strip mall destination, as it were) get it's due. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lunch Liaisons: Lincoln's Waffle Shop

(Lunch liaisons is a regular segment wherein C and I meet for weekday lunch dates. The associated posts are not nearly as cloak-and-dagger as they may sound, but instead are reviews consistent with the quick and painless lunch hour theme). 

First, thank you for excusing today's earlier foray into the slightly absurd. Sometimes, ridiculous behavior begets irrational behavior. Thanks for letting me vent about my childhood frustrations with confusing the lines between religion and college football. On to the latest lunch liaison - actually, this one was breakfast - C and I were looking to grab coffee in the 15 minutes we had to share last Wednesday, and ended up being able to sit down to breakfast together...

Lincoln's Waffle Shop, in its relocated space in the crazy tourist block on 10th Street between E and F, is a bit of a downtown gem. An interesting crowd to say the least -  the Korean family running the place, the Transformers crew members, a couple of early-rising tourist families, and a smattering of blue and white collar workers who appear to be regulars. I was referred to as "honey" and "sweetie" more than once during our brief visit. I'm not complaining. While the waffle shop is not fancy, the coffee is fresh, service is warm, inviting, and fast, and the waffle is surprisingly delicious. We ordered a pair of waffle breakfast specials, mine with ham, and C's with sausage. The eggs and ham were nothing special, but C was impressed by his savory sausage - not your typical IHOP pre-formed frozen patties. The coffee was pretty tasty too, though it had the added benefit of real cream and sugar - as I said, the lady behind the counter was quite friendly, but I dared not look beyond the counter offerings and ask for my normal 2% and Splenda. However, what really impressed (both of us) was the waffle. With a pattern smaller than that of an Eggo, this version is the kind you would typically find with a side of fried chicken. I loved the flavor and texture, and the table syrup served here (C detected a bit of vanilla) added the perfect accent. All in all, a pretty fantastic meal for $6.45. It's a bit of comfort tucked in the stress of tourist mecca, law firms, and the stone pillars of our government.

1966 - That Says It All

The October 4 edition of Sports Illustrated escaped my attention for a few weeks, but I came across it over the weekend. When reading SI, I'm sort of compulsive about how I ingest my weekly sports update - I flip through the photographs that make up the first few pages, then Faces in the Crowd, and finally Sign of the Apocalypse, before moving on the articles. This particular week, I never made it to the Boise State cover piece. Here's what the Sign of the Apocalypse segment read:

A South Bend sports radio host last week suggested that the heart attack suffered by Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio after his team upset Notre Dame on Sept. 18 was God's way of paying the Spartans back for a controversial last-second touchdown on a fake field goal that cost the Irish the game.

I wish I could laugh and move on at the ridiculousness of the statement. Granted, this was one idiot radio host spewing verbal diarrhea, and he hardly represents your average ND fan, or anyone associated with the program. But, behind every spouting-off statement is a small element of truth (and no, the truth is not that God was exacting his revenge in case anyone is confused about that one). This little snippet encapsulates the reasons behind years of indignation I felt towards the pious hypocrisy of the House That Rockne Built. I admit it, I'm making too big of a deal out of something rather silly, but sometimes, as a little kid, I wanted to stand up and scream, "I'm not a worse Christian for cheering for the Spartans!". But, alas, I'm all grown up now and I've got better things to say. If we are talking about righteous revenge here, I have my own version...Revenge, you say? It's a dish best served in BCS rankings - MSU #7; ND - hmmm, can't seem to find 'em in the top 25.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Salsa

I tried to find a recipe, and did not like any that I found (it seemed as if the current recipes out there were adapting salsa from hummus - salsa and hummus are not the same thing - not even close), so I made my own. The two kinds of vinegar served to bring out the flavors of the produce, but without dominating. This salsa is so incredibly simple, and easy to make, I was surprised by the flavors layered with complexity. Smokey and sweet, but with a kick, this recipe was such a hit with last night's dinner guests, I had to share immediately....

2 Red Bell Peppers
1 Banana Pepper
1 Serrano Chile, Minced
2 Vine-Ripened Tomatoes
1 Medium Yellow Onion, Chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp. White Vinegar
3/4 Cup Chopped Cilantro
Salt and Pepper

Place red pepper and banana pepper on aluminum-foil covered pan in 450 degree oven. Roast peppers for 10-12 minutes or until skins blister. When peppers blister, remove from oven and place in ziploc bag for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, bring two cups of water to a boil. Turn off heat and add tomatoes to soak for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, transfer tomatoes to cold water to soak for an additional 2 minutes. Skins of tomatoes and peppers should be easy to remove after these processes.

Roughly chop tomatoes and peppers, and add to remaining ingredients. Either place the ingredients in a blender, or in a bowl and use an immersion blender to puree. Makes about a quart of salsa.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Food Trend Tracking

For larger image, zoom or click here.

So, sometimes I get brilliant ideas (at least I think they are brilliant ideas), and then they end up being just a teensy bit more difficult to execute than I had in mind. This post would be one of them. I put a lot of work in to this one, so I'd appreciate any comments or tips for making this graphic a little more user friendly. Or, at least vote below. Anyway, let me get to my point.

Back in the day, I posted about our local addiction to the next best thing in food. Little did I know, years later, we would still be embracing those same trends. So, for your reference, a timeline of the most popular DC foodie fads. Perhaps not foodies, because these places would not all still be in business if the clientele were limited to foodies. Man, do we love our pizza, cupcakes, and burgers. With FroYo being the one semi-healthy exception, it's a wonder we're not walking oompa-loompas.

With that, I pose to you, what will be the next food trend? As I've been tweeting, I vote macarons (or maybe it's wishful thinking, but at least some are on their way, along with other French confections, dangerously close to my office). But, more to the point, what do you, valued readers, think? Gourmet salad bars? Delis (we need em)? Other thoughts? Please share your insight. I've created a poll...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Holiday Reading

Happy Columbus Day everyone! If you are one of those who had to head in to work this morning, first, I sympathize (C was one of you), and second, DCist seems to think that taking a morning stroll will make you feel better about having to show up to put your hours in. Call me crazy, but I'm thinking that a longer commute, coupled with staring at the beautiful day outside your office window, will be of no particular comfort. Maybe some bacon-dusted fries may help (okay, they are in Maine, but I've now laid the idea for DC).

Enough with the complaining...for those looking to celebrate this holiday, some fast Columbus facts. Indigenous Peoples Day - I lived in Cali for a year, including through the month of October, and never knew.

Where shall we dine for our next Lunch Liaison? Newly-opened Galileo III (we've not enjoyed the best luck with Chef Roberto Donna before, and he is now a felon) or Cuba Libre?!

Last week, Hope College hosted its annual Critical Issues Symposium. The topic?! Good Food for the Common Good. Speakers included Polyface Farm's Joel Salatin, "Eco-Chef and Food Justice Activist" Bryant Terry, my very own brother (of whom we are exceptionally proud), and another fine young Hope alum who graces our fair city. Not only do the speakers have my utmost respect, for their timeliness and their devotion to this important issue (check this out too), but so does the school. Bravo to Hope College for devoting resources to and raising awareness of a major issue facing our society. 

District of Pi, an offshoot of St. Louis-based Pi Pizzeria, will be opening in Penn Quarter. Funny, I don't remember this place back when I was in the STL; all I remember is the nasty provel-topped cardboard that was Imo's. I may not remember Pi, but they have their own Schlafly custom brew, so already, I'm a fan!

If you have not been following Young & Hungry's series embedding a staffer with the Restaurant Eve crew, you should. It's very compelling. 

And finally, just because - COOKIES, and more COOKIES!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Brunching Old Town: Columbia Firehouse

Columbia Firehouse was a pleasant encounter for brunch. We walked in with no reservation on an early Saturday afternoon, and the staff made a point to welcome well as baby. We started with the tuna tartare tacos, which were not fabulous. But, Southern-themed entrees made up for it. My "Southern Benedict" served with a fried green tomato and jalapeno-accented hollandaise had nice flavors and was topped with a perfectly-cooked egg. C loved his traditional Po'Boy. The cornbread in the bread basket certainly made us happy as well. Other hits here include the house-made sausages. Generally, a reliable place to brunch. Lyon Hall could take a nod from the kitchen here - consistency, even without reaching the highest of heights, has its own value.

Brunching Clarendon: Lyon Hall

You know I'm a fan of both Northside Social and Liberty Tavern, the sister restaurants to Clarendon's Lyon Hall. For LH itself, I'm still trying to love it. The inconsistencies of brunch did the relatively new restaurant no favors. Tea and crumpets (okay, donuts) both were delicious. My Jasmine Tea was really flavorful and comforting. The bacon (yup), orange, and cinnamon sugar varieties of the donuts were loads of greasy goodness (yeast style - think Krispy Kreme - not cake style). But, our burgers were evidence of the inconsistent kitchen. We both ordered medium rare, mine was at least two temps past C's, and the fries were overcooked and flavorless. Plus, I'm not sure the burger would have been particularly tasty had it been properly cooked - the stone ground mustard was overpowering, and took away from the more pleasant flavors of the poppy bun and cheddar shavings. With the burger competition around here, come on, you have to put a better product on the plate. Better luck next time. While I am a fan of the Euro-brasserie concept, and the Charcuterie and small plates I tried at a happy hour were better than the brunch fare, there remains much room for improvement at Lyon Hall.

TANGENT ALERT: Not Lyon Hall's fault: the couple on the same side of a two-top making out in front of us. Yes, this is a tangent, but I just have to make note because their conduct was that far out of bounds. I awkwardly tried to look down at my lap, while Baby H full on stared with his mouth gaped open (C wasn't facing them, and the worst of it occurred when he was visiting the much-talked-about restroom). H then looked at me with a quizzical "what's going on?" expression. Just a note folks, I'm not a fan of PDA generally - but, when reminders of what PDA leads to are sitting right in front of you, please keep the activities in check. I'm not yet prepared to have the birds and the bees talk with a person under one.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Sunshiny Monday Morning to You

Courtesy of $3.99 at Trader Joe's...

(Taken before the clouds moved in yesterday)

Wow, four bucks worth of African wild roses go a long way towards brightening up a day.