Sushi, Half Marathoning, Crockpotting, and More!

Last weekend was jammed packed. On Saturday we went to Sea to You Sushi Class that I bought on I bought a groupon for Sea to You Sushi. We signed up for the master class, which is a combination of the other 3 classes. The other classes are one hour long, master is 2. It normally costs $120 per person. We learned how to make inside out maki, Jumbo maki, temaki, nigiri, designer rolls and also how to cut fish. I found the entire experience really informative and helpful. But I really appreciated learning how to cut fish because you can’t just cut the fish in any old fashion. It’ll ruin the fish and make it more difficult or uneven to make your sushi. So something I learned in the last couple of years, (1) sushi is generally made to be eaten in one bite; (2) shoyu is not supposed to go on the rice; (3) simplicity is usually key; (4) nigiri can be hand food so you can get the fish to the shoyu without it falling apart; (5) temaki are the fastest way to make and eat your own sushi.

I ate a lot of my sadder looking pieces of maki. They have a big open salad bar type thing where you can get your sushi ingredients of choice. The have deep fried sweet potatoes, cucumber, carrots, broiled tuna, broiled salmon, shitake mushrooms, fried panko, and the unagi and spicy mayo sauce. You can upgrade some of your ingredients when you sign up online, like buying avocado, soft shell crab, and spicy scallops. We opted to upgrade to soft shell crab for $10. $10 is less than the average spider roll! No avocado though, but with me being and picky as I am I don’t like avocado.

So much Sushi! Spicy Tuna, broiled tuna, spider rolls!

So much Sushi! Spicy Tuna, broiled tuna, spider rolls!

Dragon roll, california temaki, and a salmon inside out roll

Dragon roll, california temaki, and a salmon inside out roll

The day after this I had my very first half marathon. I was using this as say, my carbo loading, I probably should have gone with something a little heavier. Now a half marathon doesn’t have much to do with food. But I have to say having good training does involve eating better. Less fried food, better carbs, less sugar, etc. etc. I’ve said it before. When I finished, the one thing on my mind was, there better be food in the convention center. There was. But I had a banana, plain bagel without spread, orange, and water. We ended our half marathon day at Flour, which I’d say a lot of half marathoners did the same.

Then later this week I’ve been playing with my crockpot. It’s hot out and I don’t want to be using my oven a whole lot (not to mention it doesn’t work still). I did a chipotle chicken in a creamy sauce. I didn’t quite figure out what you do with it. Do you serve it with pasta? No not really. Mashed potatoes? Yeah that was pretty good. Here’s what you do. It has a little bit too much sauce, but if you can fish the chicken out put it in a wrap. Lettuce, hummus, garlic and herb cheese with the chipotle chicken is so very good. It has so many flavors going on at once and just blends so well. When I did the chipotle chicken recipe I used chicken thighs which was and was not a mistake. I like using meat with bones in it because I feel like it gives it a stronger flavor. But for two reasons, not so good. The meat falls right off the bone and I lose some of the smaller bones (choking hazard). The bones give more flavor and a little bit more liquid into the creamy sauce. So now I have all this sauce and will figure out something to do with all of it. (I just poured it over my mashed potatoes and will eat it like that later).

And so recently I’ve wanted some local food. I looked up a recipe for a copycat Mitsuken Garlic Chicken. I cut it a little differently since I don’t have a deep fryer and just pan fried it. Cutting it into smaller chunks makes it cook faster and more thoroughly. Drizzle the sauce on top and it’s pretty much like being at home. I did not add the green onions and ginger like the recipe says because well, because I don’t have those ingredients on hand. I don’t do the super market on Sundays because it is an absolute mess. I overfried a couple of the pieces because they weren’t browning up like I thought they should have been. But it was still good. Just a little more practice next time!

Faux Mitsuken Chicken and musubi

Faux Mitsuken Chicken and musubi

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San Diego, My newly adventurous eating and some not so much.

Mr. Vietalian and I just came back from San Diego. I was wondering what San Diego would be famous for food-wise. I mean Maine has lobsters, Massachusetts has chowder, Hawaii has Hawaiian food and spam musubis, and of course each city has its own unique thing, but what the hell does it for San Diego? I still am trying to figure it out. Mr. Vietalian says it’s fish tacos. But unfortunately I don’t like tacos or fish. But we did go to a fish market, El Pescador Fish Market.

El Pescador Fish Market, located in La Jolla on Pearl Street, is a small fish market. Decent prices, but by no means cheap. As someone that doesn’t love seafood, it was a weird place for me. I’ve gotten by usually by eating chicken, beef, or anything that’s not fish. This is not the case here. Everything is seafood. I had the Dungeness Crab and Bay Shrimp combo sandwich, not a ton of mayo which is good. But I did unfortunately have some bites without any meat. Mr. Vietalian said he would have preferred Wahoo’s up the street, the tacos weren’t anything too special for him. It might have been the anticipation of waiting for these tacos and reading about them online. Also the creeps sitting next to us (they asked a couple to leave their table because there weren’t enough tables) detracted from our stay. I wish it was a little more but I like the little I had.

Before this we took a drive around the state. We found ourselves out past San Diego zoo at Lake Cuyamaca. It was so small town I was almost uncomfortable. It was a restaurant and a store all in one. We sat on the deck that overlooked Lake Cuyamaca. So beautiful, the lake was shining, the sun warmed our shoulders, and there was a nice soft breeze for us to enjoy. I had the Breakfast Special, which were 2 pancakes. The bottom had blueberries, peanut butter and bananas in the middle, another pancake on top and strawberries with powdered sugar on top of that. Mr. Vietalian had the country fried Steak and gravy, which he said was good. Mr. Vietalian loves his country southern food so he knows it pretty well. He said it was one of the better gravies he’s had recently. I enjoyed my pancakes as well. It’s really quite hard to mess up pancakes. Given the fact that I’m not a huge fan of peanut butter, it didn’t quite add to the meal. We loved our waitress though. She was very sweet and attentive. The bill didn’t come out to much so we left a rather large tip for her. She tried to give us our change while we were leaving. But we insisted it was for her. As we left she cried she was so happy for her tip. She earned it. She made our day and I hope we made hers.

The very first night we ate at PB Alehouse out of sheer convenience and how hungry we were. We started with the fried calamari and poutine chips and short ribs. Got full and then did not want to eat our meal and had it packaged to go. So the food was good. But I’d like to take a minute to commend our waitress. The table behind us had 6 people who had drinks and food. Then some time after the waitress dropped off the check decided they wanted separate checks, in addition, they could barely figure out who ordered what and what everyone should pay. I do believe in everyone paying their fair share. But that was ridiculous. What’s wrong with just splitting the check 6 ways? Yeah someone might pay more or less, but do they realize how much hassle they put the waitress through? When the waitress came back and they requested separate checks she politely said, “I can do that. But just as a tip you should probably let your server know when you order that you’re going to want separate checks so it’s easier for us to help you.” Gold star.

We visited Mr. Vietalian’s cousins in Los Angeles for brunch. Combined with the fact that it was a Sunday and Mother’s Day we had a 2 hour wait. It’s a good thing they wanted to catch up or that wait would be completely unbearable. It was still a little unbearable. But the food was good. I have a lean corned beef sandwich and onion rings. So good after a morning work out. Mr. Vietalian got corned beef hash and extra crispy hash browns. It was a nice little patio and a good breakfast, but not something I couldn’t find in Boston. Or in Hawaii. Or probably in any other US City.

On our very last night we went to Gang Kitchen in the Gaslamp district. Unfortunately, I really did want to like this place, but it wasn’t meant to be. When we first showed up there was no hostess to seat us… for over 5 minutes. So we left, took a walk, and then made our way back where a hostess finally did seat us. Some of the food was creative, the crispy rice with spicy tuna on top. But then there were the spicy spring rolls which were less creative and a bit too much spice. Then the seared tuna and five spice chicken. All the food was tasty but just nothing blew me away or stood out. Such a shame, especially for the price of the food. But you know, live and learn.

In the morning we made our way over to Snooze. On a Monday it had a 30 minute morning wait. But so worth it. I had a puff pastry pot pie that was basically filled with sausage gravy usually topped with a sunnyside up egg (but I don’t like egg, so it was on the side) and a side of hash browns. I’ve come to the realization that while pancakes are all well and good, I get hungry later because they’re just so empty. I did decide to try some of the sunnyside up egg, after all, I’m working to get over this picky thing. I liked the whites but not the yolk. But the fact that I ate part of it was the most fantastic. It was kind of like a hardboiled egg. Mr. Vietalian got the shrimp and grits. He said it was good, on the trendy side but good. It was a good ending to our San Diego vacation. Affordable, so so tasty, and the way we did it, it got us to the airport on time.

Snooze renewed my love of pot pies. When I came home I fixed a recipe from Martha Stewart. I altered it a bit. But I love puff pastry. I’ve started to bake an extra piece of puff pastry on the side to have more puff pastry. It’s potatoes, carrots, chicken, and peas In addition, Mr. Vietalian and I have made half and half sweet potato and regular potato hash browns. I’m finally getting the hang of making hash browns. I use a grater when I can to create the nice thin potatoes. I was cutting it by hand and it makes it much thinner and easier to fry. They came out nice and crispy and hopefully not as bad for us. Oh so delicious, thank you Snooze for inspiring me.

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I’ve been keeping busy

Before and up to the marathon I’ve been keeping busy. Cooking so far has been a good way of helping me cope. I was feeling overwhelmed so I found a new recipe for brownies. I don’t drink but I’m thinking of pouring some baileys into them. I found it to be a nice combo when I was still trying to drink.

I had friends over the other week, I always use this as a chance to try new recipes. I did barbecue chicken sandwiches. I watched the chicken cook in the crock pot, I felt like there was so much liquid after the chicken was cooked. But once you shred the chicken it starts absorbing it like crazy which makes the chicken very moist and flavorful. And being the paranoid person I was I went to the store and bought Jack Daniels Hickory Smoke Barbecue sauce. Seriously delicious. And when it stews with the juices and the other sauce, it just makes such a sweet savory flavor that I love. But it’s not overpowering barbecue flavor that would turn off Mr. Vietalian.

The next day, I had my Hawaii Kids over for lunch/brunch. We had loco mocos. Loco mocos are from Hawaii, it’s essentially a hamburger with gravy on rice with an egg on top. I don’t eat egg so I don’t know how to cook the egg at all so Mr. Vietalian covered that. I had that gravy from the crock pot roast beef. It’s really the quality of the gravy, burgers, and how long you wait to consume the loco moco that makes it really something. This meal cold, probably not so good, but nice and hot, before the gravy congeals; do it right or don’t do it at all basically.  We were out of gravy by the end of the meal but hey, at least we made it. The gravy, I saved the juices from the Pot roast, mixed in milk, flour and butter and waited until it thickened up. I think I even used some beef stock (basically just to use it since I wanted to use it). It becomes thick and a nice brown gravy, I’m definitely going to do this again.

Lastly, I made baked spaghetti. I was aiming for that spaghetti that they serve in Hawaii Schools. It’s covered in cheddar, plain spaghetti with marinara and baked until it’s pretty much overcooked. Yes, that is what I wanted. The recipe I had though had cottage cheese and mozzarella involved. It was good, but not the crap I was craving. Is it bad that I find that rather unfortunate? When I want the crappy food I want like Pizza Hut, I want the crappy food. But it was good, far too filling. Top it with some cheddar and it kind of brings back some of that Hawaii school charm.ImageImage

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Crockpot Pot Roast and Other Things Keeping Me from My WordPress

I’ve been very busy. But I’ve decided I want to cook more. Recently I’ve been cooking a lot of things I know how to cook, easy to cook, and something I’m very familiar with. But my friend May cooks a new meal every night! I’m not quite that good. When I get home from work and class I just want to eat. I love to cook but I do it on Sunday and Tuesday (I don’t have class on Tuesdays) when I have time. So I used my chuck roast that I got from McKinnons in Davis Square. I have to say it’s the best butcher shop ever. I put all the ingredients together, put the chuck roast into the slow cooker before I went to bed, woke up and had amazing pot roast. I saved the juices from the pot roast. I made a roux with 1/4 c flour and 1/4 c. butter, put the juices in with a cup of milk (using 2% probably would have been a better idea than skim) and 1/2 c. water. Keep stirring with a whisk on med-high heat so that it reduces and thickens up. Delicious. I put it with a side of sliced baked potatoes. Another night I sided it with sweet potato fries. (I also made a garlic aioli to go with the sweet potato fries) Combine 3/4 c. light mayo, 3 cloves garlic, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper. I mixed it with an immersion blender because i”m lazy and I wanted to do it right. Let it sit for half an hour to an hour before serving.

I made lemon and key lime bars for Easter weekend. I was all about the spring colors that weekend. Dying for spring, less cold, less snow. I used those pre-squeezed lemon and lime juice, it makes it easier because I generally can’t get a cup of lemon juice from a couple of lemons. We went to Mr. Vietalian’s house for Easter. Since Easter is a big deal in a lot of Italian/Catholic households I wasn’t sure how this would go over. We had a large meal. Starting the first course with ravioli, salad, meatballs, and sausage. The second course we had ham, mashed potatoes two-ways, and vegetables. Then dessert. I think that my lemon bars went over okay. My oven is on the fritz still. So I baked it with time in the recipe. When I put the lemon mixture on top the crust broke off and floated to the top. It really does need to bake well. After I baked the lemon mix, LET THE THING SIT! It will firm up. When it came out it was all gooey. I let it sit for a day in the fridge and then covered it with powdered sugar. Came out nice.

Trader Joe’s makes this fabulous salad called the Harvest Chicken Salad. It had a hardboiled egg, chicken, green beans, corn, and a Dijon dressing. After buying 2 in a day I decided it was time to buy the ingredients for a mock Harvest Chicken Salad. I baked the chicken in 400 degrees for 20 minutes, just a little salt and pepper on top of it. Cut it up. Hard boiled the egg, this is the first time I hard boiled an egg. Combined everything on a plate then mixed it with the dijon dressing (mix 1/4c apple cider vinegar, 1/4 c. dijon Mustard, 1/4 c. EVOO, 2 tsp or to taste splenda). It’s really very good, easy and healthy.

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I’m Finding this So Interesting

I’m finding my new Polar Heart Rate Monitor so interesting. Now when I’m working out I’m looking down every so often to see where my heart rate is. But as distracting as it is, I’m loving how personal it makes my workout. Taking in my age, sex, weight, and heart rate it more accurately determines how many calories I burn during Insanity or during a run. The snow is ruining my outside running, but I’ve been running on the treadmill. The treadmills at Planet fitness actually have a Polar transmitter as well so I don’t always have to be looking down at my wrist to see my heart rate. And what the treadmill has been saying that I burn and what I really burn are entirely different. In fact, when my HRM says that I burned 30 calories, the treadmill says I burned 70. That’s more than double what I actually burned. So then I would compensate and justify me eating other foods that I probably shouldn’t be eating. But what if your HRM is wrong? I thought about that too. But giving myself an actual deficit of calories isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I’m also enjoying that the HRM determines what a good zone for my heart to be at during exercise is. For me it’s 128-167. I try to keep it at 150-155, I have been known to push it into the 160s and 180s. But I try to keep it in the zone because it makes optimal fat burn and weight loss. Above the given zone can strain your body if you push it too hard for too long, below it you’re not pushing your body hard enough. The HRM even beeps at me when I do one or the other. And believe me I can push or back off to avoid the annoying beeping sound. Overall, I’m so in love. All I have to do is start eating better to match and I’m more than ready for spring.

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The strap usually starts higher up, but as I do the deep breathing and all the other exercises. It slips. I just tightened it and that problem was fixed right up.

 

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So where does one start. I’ve been doing a lot of weird cooking. Remember that time I failed at making chex mix? Well I still have cereal left over from that time. So I have plain cheerios…and why would anyone eat plain cheerios? They’re so boring. So I put marshmallows and butter into a pan, poured it over the dry cheerios and made cheerio crispy treats. I’m not so good at coating everything equally but we can work on that next time I have a different cereal I need to get rid of.

I went to When Pigs Fly. Turns out it’s a dollar less there for a full loaf of sourdough than it is for half a loaf at my grocery store. But it’s also not as convenient. I got sidetracked and got a triple chocolate salted caramel cookie. Best thing I’ve eaten recently. It was amazing. I also bought their salad dressing bread dip. It was good, a little overpowering. Herbs and lemon, straight up. It needs something else and I’ll determine what that is later.

I was on a home food kick recently, so I wanted shoyu chicken. However, there’s still that issue with my oven. So I made crock pot shoyu chicken. Mr. Vitalian loved it, but he hasn’t had shoyu chicken before. I wanted more shoyu on the chicken so I would suggest using less chicken. I did like that I browned the chicken before. I might also not use cilantro I don’t likey cilantro. Everything else was pretty good. I think just less chicken would bring out the flavor. It’s still in the fridge and leaving it in the sauce for now is probably only a good thing. I served it with mash since Mr. Vitalian isn’t too fond of rice. But it was a good first try. I’ll try again soon, but I’m pretty over with Asian food right now.

And today, I don’t even know how any of this happened. I was using the hand mixer to make sourdough bread. So here’s the thing about sourdough, you need to make a starter which is 2 c. warm water, 2 c. flour, and 1.5 tsp of active yeast and let it sit for a week or LONGER. Make sure you mix it well. And like I was saying, I was using the handmixer and the chord got caught in the mixer so I tried to pull it out. But I didn’t turn it off first, so my fingers got pulled in while the mixer was still going. It started heating because it couldn’t mix around my fingers. I finally got the mixer off. I’m fine. I held an ice pack for a little while. And I should be fine. But it hurt like nobody’s business.

So I mixed all of the ingredients like the recipe below said. My bread didn’t rise. I didn’t add as much flour as the first time I tried to make it because the biggest problem with it was there was too much dry flour not to mention instead of using bread flour I tried to use whole wheat. So much for being healthy. I waited for it to rise for an hour and it didn’t. I’m wondering if it’s still too cold for that and where does one put it so it’ll rise. I’m thinking of taking a class on sourdough bread because I tried once or twice now and it’s not working out yet.

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Happiest of Birthdays!

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