Miss Tasty's Cafe

I chop, I dice, I mix until moistened, I whip to soft peaks, I boil, broil, bake and braise, simmer over medium heat, chill over night ... And of course, there's eating. Tasting, nibbling, chomping, savouring ... I'm a licking-the-bowl-clean, sopping-up-the-sauce, juice-running-down-my-fingers food enthusiast ... Yep. I love food.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Pesticides - blech!

I've always loved - and preferred - local, seasonal, organic foodstuffs. Yeah, all those buzzwords. But it's true - I was destined for that after being fed baby food that my mom made by hand in her mouli mill from stuff grown in her very own garden. Or purchased from some recluse farmer - eggs, goat cheese, and milk all arrived in our house in battered cardboard crates after long, bumpy trips down dirt roads in our VW poptop bus. She was a cook and baker at a (hushed voice) health food store when those were hidden, tiny places with names like "Mountain Mama's" and "Rainbow Crystal Market." She baked bread and made soup and said things like "co-op," and "brewer's yeast" and fed me carob stars. She might have made her pie crust from whole wheat flour (good god) and forced quinoa down my throat two decades before it was the Next Hip Thing - but she also set a standard for the taste of spring lettuces still tinged with the mineral taste of warm dirt, and the sour sunshine flavor of apricots shaken right from the old orchard trees. I love her for that.

Now that I'm looking toward my own mamahood, and thinking about the fact that a freakin' brain stem is taking shape in there, I've become even more dedicated to drinking organic milk and choosing pesticide-free fruits and veg. I mean, with it so readily available (even at Safeway!), why not? I don't even have to haul the kids to the outskirts of town and make friends with weird hermits to get the stuff. It's worth the extra buck per gallon or pound when I'm growing an entire nervous system for another human being.

That said, it isn't always possible to buy organic. What if I really, really need that guacamole for my shredded guajillo pork tacos, and organic avocados are nowhere to be seen? Thus, the handiness of a recent study that measured the amounts of pesticide in produce, and broke them down into two lists - stuff you should definitely try to buy organic, and stuff that has a consistently low pesticide load. Handy info! I first read it in Consumer Reports, but it's also posted online here. And here's a short version for Miss Tasty readers:

12 Most Contaminated with Pesticides - Buy These Organic
• Apples
• Bell Peppers
• Celery
• Cherries
• Imported Grapes
• Nectarines
• Peaches
• Pears
• Potatoes
• Red Raspberries
• Spinach
• Strawberries

12 Least Contaminated with Pesticides
• Asparagus
• Avocados
• Bananas
• Broccoli
• Cauliflower
• Corn (sweet)
• Kiwi
• Mangos
• Onions
• Papaya
• Pineapples
• Peas (sweet)

See you in the aisles. (And by the way - I still hate brown rice.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Eggs - Essentially Bizarre, Totally Yummy

I want this book.

Eggs are weird, certainly. They fall along the same line as placentas (see my previous post) if you think about it for a couple minutes. But they are so delicious! And so necessary to so many things - cookies, cakes, custards, and for god's sake, breakfast.

I love them - especially the yolks. I also love the beautiful ovoid shape, the colors they come in, and the sound of cracking the shells against the rim of my grandmother's stoneware bowl.

In fact, I really want two chickens so I can have fresh eggs with deep orange centers that actually taste rich and deep, but Smooth Melon grew up on a farm and he hates the very mention of this. I also had a friend suggest that I'd infect my neighborhood with avian flu. Oh, c'mon people. A couple little cluckers = the best omelettes ever.

Monday, April 24, 2006

sweet potato salad & pork loin (& placentas)

Visited the in-laws this weekend. They made a gorgeous slow-cooked pork loin, served with a simple green salad and some delicious sweet potato salad from New Seasons. It's just like regular potato salad, with the creamy dressing and so forth, but with sweet potatoes - not only was it delightful in its surprising sweet earthiness, but the orange-ness of it made my plate a very nice study in color balance.

I think Miss Fetus liked it, as well. And speaking of that, I have realized that placentas are pretty miraculous things. I mean, when else do adult human beings ever grow a whole new, essential organ, keep it functioning for nine months, and then get rid of it? But I still can't deal with the idea that some people eat their placenta. That just freaks me out. I bet my friend Hungry T, who is all into eating exotic meats and wants to try horse someday, wouldn't even do it. (And I won't be offering. No way.) There are probably placenta recipes on the internet somewhere, but I refuse to look. What, with onions or something, like liver? Made into a pate? Ground and mashed into burgers? Puh-leese.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Girls Love Chocolate

Well, okay. Most people love chocolate. But I have had this feeling from the very beginning of pregnancy that I was toting around a little girl in there. And when I felt movement (just like hunger rumbles, or popcorn popping, only not) for the first time after eating a bag of M&Ms, I thought, hmmmm. That seems like a girl thing to do.

And I was right. Found out yesterday that Baby Tasty is 90% certain to be una bambina!

And in other news, I visited one of my standbys the other day, Aqui - a (tex-ish) mexican cafe in my old neighborhood. Hungry T just posted about this place, and reported that their chips are way too salty. I agree - though I love salt lately, so I didn't do any scraping. But they could definitely stand to be unsalted. I had to order their guacamole, which is delicious. I never order the salsas, because I think it's a rip off to pay for salsa, even when they give you three kinds. I hate tomatillo salsa anyway, so it doesn't pay off for me. I scarfed down my usual, the carnitas soft corn tacos with a side of their "Potatoes Ole" which consist of mashers, tons of cheese, and sweet corn kernals all melty and yumm together. MMmm, mmm. My only complaint there is that they need a little pico or sour cream or something to dress up the tacos. My friend only finished half her plate, so I'm not sure if she just didn't like it, or got full, or what. But I do recommened Aqui, and they have a patio and serve margaritas - an ideal combo on the ever-warmer evenings.

Looking back to last weekend, Easter brought the traditional baking handed down from my great-great nonna Ricci. We bake what's called "doll." Because they are shaped like little chubby women, I guess. Though the boys often get "doll" shaped like baskets or chickens. Basically, they are just like biscotti only not baked, sliced, and baked again - they are baked once and left whole, and frosted. Anise seed, lemon, eggs, flour, sugar. Frosted with beaten eggs whites, sugar, and the tiny ball-shaped colored sprinkles, my family has been making and eating these for at least five generations. Simple and devine with coffee, they get crunchier and yummier with each passing day.

We also had the usual homemade pasta, and my sister-in-law nicely contributed the all-American honey baked ham - which (gasp!) I had never had before. Delicious.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

bad, bad blogger

Yes. It has been three months since I posted. And I'll tell you why.

For three of those months, I could eat nothing but peanut butter toast and citrus fruit. Because I happened to be growing an embryo in me, see, and that sort of thing can make a person very, very ill. It can make a food lover detest the mere thought of edibles that she once loved beyond words. Food aversions? Pretty much anything made me want to vomit.

And then it passed! And I could eat again! Everything except Indian curry, which I ate while just barely pregnant and had a terrible reaction to. I'm not quite sure if I'll ever be able to eat it again.

So here's an interesting thing to ponder - not only do I love food. But now, I AM food. Yes, it's a baby and will be cute and all of that wonderful stuff. But the relationship here, folks, is a parasitic one. It takes everything it needs - including leaching calcium from my very bones if I don't consume enough. It's very bizarre.

And soon enough, my body will be producing food. Milk, that is. Human milk. Like I said - it's very bizarre.

Anyway, now that I have "come out" as pregnant to friends and family, I can return to blogging life.

So - hi!