Thursday, July 31, 2008

Come on in feel free to do some looking...

This isn't really new news, but I haven't baked anything lately so I thought I'd write about a show I just started watching. Chowder premiered last fall on the Cartoon Network, but I only recently became addicted. The main character (Chowder) is a chef's apprentice who eats anything and everything. All of the characters are named after food and most of the episodes revolve around a certain recipe or ingredient. It's all completely nonsensical and amusing.

Although it's a cartoon, they mix in stop motion animation, puppets and even live action. New episodes air on Thursday nights, but like most shows on basic cable you can catch it at other times. It's family friendly, and if you watch it with kids around you might even get them interested in cooking.

I've embedded the promo that ran last year to give you a taste of it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Blueberry Crisp

For the Fourth of July, I made a blueberry crisp à la mode. It was patriotic enough since the baking dish was red, the ice cream/frozen yogurt was white and the blueberries were blue.

Crisp in my big red casserole dish.

À La Mode

Plump berry goodness

Of course, I messed a bit with the recipe. For the sugar mixed in with the berries I used 1 tablespoon brown and 2 tablespoons white. I added a healthy drizzle of vanilla (1 teaspoon?)too because I like it. I've found most sweet recipes can benefit from a bit of vanilla. For the crumble topping, I used 1/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup all purpose flour and added about 1/4 cup crushed walnuts and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Double Fudge Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Naked cupcakes


Ample supply of cupcakes for a co-worker's birthday.

Double fudge chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting. The recipe was supposed to yield 24 cupcakes, but I got 30 out of it. I kept the leftovers since my cupcake carrier only holds 18, and I decided to freeze the ones that weren't frosted (seven in total) so we'll see if they really do "freeze well" like the recipe says. As usual, I halved the frosting recipe. Who needs six cups of frosting?

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Last week I bought some mulberries from a vendor at a farmer's market whose other (non-produce) products I've enjoyed in the past. I did it against my better judgment since: A) a taste test at the market didn't impress me 2) the vendor had a lot of berries where other vendors were sold out and C) you later. When I got home I discovered the berries were full of teeny tiny bugs that were resistant to my attempt to drown them -- in fact a few swam to the edge of the bowl and tried to climb out. I stuffed the berries and their bugs down the garbage disposal and sprayed a bleach cleaner in and around the sink in case the bugs tried to escape. Apparently, this is a fairly common problem.

The trip to the market wasn't a total waste since I got some lettuce from a different vendor that was fantastic. I bought a head that had romaine, red leaf and green leaf in one. It's weird to rave about lettuce, but it was really very good.

I bought some cherries from the grocery store the other day and I decided to clean them with a vinegar solution I read about in a Newsweek article (there's also an NPR article with an audio clip on the subject). It worked brilliantly since the fruit tasted better than it did when I washed it with tap water alone. I was worried that the cherries might taste vinegary but they didn't. I've put the spray bottle in my fridge for future use.

I wonder how the vinegar solution would have worked against the bugs of the mulberries? Some of the links above suggest a salt wash but I can't imagine the salt not soaking into the fruit.

In case you were wondering, the FDA recommends washing produce with water. I'm not sure how to comment on that.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Irv's Sandwich Shop

Irv's Sandwich Shop
2164 S. Taylor Road
Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118
(216) 321-6812
Brunch?; June 18, 2008
Party of Four

Barnyard Omelet with Home Fries and Raisin Toast

(My) Barnyard Omelet with Home Fries and Raisin Toast

Pancakes with Bacon

Corned Beef Sandwich with Seasoned Fries

Irv's is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday and serves breakfast until about an hour before closing. It might be called a sandwich shop, but you should try the omelets. Unfortunately, it has a storefront that is easy to drive by.
Don't miss it!

I'm not the biggest fan of eggs. I do like a good omelet though. And the omelets at Irv's are so much better than good. I told one of my fellow brunchers about Irv's awhile ago, and she wanted to try it for herself while in Ohio.

If you are in town for a week and only have time for one omelet you should get the Barnyard Omelet because it's stuffed with bacon, ham, sausage, green peppers, onions and American cheese. The egg part of the omelet is thin and rolled around the filling in such a way that you never get too much egg in any bite.

Omelets come with your choice of either home fries or grits, but they are always out of grits when I go. The potatoes were nicely breakfasty, and I managed to eat most of them even if they were my second choice. The raisin toast was awesome and makes me wonder why more restaurants don't offer raisin as a toast choice.

I sampled the pancakes and found them not-too-sweet, which is how I like them. I didn't taste the corned beef sandwich but was told it was good. The seasoned fries had a kick that complimented their extreme crunchiness and would make a good substitute next time they are out of grits.

In case you can't tell from the picture (taken on a camera with an enviable "food" setting), the Barnyard Omelet is huge! My fellow bruncher finished hers and I ate all but a couple bites of mine. The cook grinned as we left and asked, "Did you finish the Barnyard?" "Just about" I said. I think he was impressed. So was I.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


I used to love making mixtapes from songs on the radio and my albums and tapes when I was a kid. I made tapes from my CDs when I got a boombox that had a cool dubbing feature. And when I first got iTunes I made so many playlists-- a lot of which were CD copies of my old tapes.

Well, now I have a new reason to pick up my old habit. lets you make mixtapes that look like oldschool tapes that you can customize with pictures and such. I first heard about it from Jason at Hands On Your Ears whose tapes can be found here.

Below are my first two mixes. "Sun Mix" has songs with good beats that are easy to dance to and "Moon Mix" has maudlin music you might find on a college station.



One crappy feature is that you're limited to the songs that the site has available unless you're savvy enough to get songs yourself, which I'm not. The worst feature has to be that songs can disappear on you once you've made the tape. Even with those flaws, it's still pretty cool.

A less exciting (and both more and less limiting) website is, which lets you upload your own songs into a single mix. You can listen to mine here, which is taken from an old CD mix from a bunch of years ago. That website is just as boring as a list of songs can be.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

International Festival Update

For the curious, here's what my lunch/dinner companion and I ate at The International Festival this past weekend. Yeah it's a lot of food, but some of it was takeaway.
  • Pastellios (Puerto Rican)
  • Egg rolls (Vietnamese)
  • Reuben balls (German)
  • Pastellio (a different Puerto Rican booth)
  • Stuffed cabbage (Slovak/Slovenian)
  • Tamale, tostada, bean and rice (Mexican)
  • Spanakopita, tiropita and baklava (Greek)
  • Snoogle and lady lox (their spelling) (Polish)
  • Piraguas (Puerto Rican)

The Hungarian booth ran out of chicken paprikash or I might have had some. I was thisclose to buying some dolemades. I thought about, but ultimately didn't get collard greens, chicken-on-a-stick, stromboli and jambalaya.

We saw one princess while we were walking around. We didn't see the Queen. But guess what? She's my cousin! Congratulations Natalie!