Archive for April, 2010

Do My Recipes Work?

Posted in advice, Atlanta, cooking, recipe on April 30th, 2010 by Betsy – 1 Comment

This week, my friend, Peyten, invited us over for dinner.  I know Peyten from my college days as she was my little sister in my sorority.  Ah, college…But I digress.  Back to food.  I emailed Peyten earlier in the week to ask if she had any questions about cooking gluten-free.  She said she would use my blog as a reference for recipes.  Now that’s intimidating.

Sure, I write recipes and cook all the time but there’s a part of me that fears other people reading and using my recipes.  What if the food tastes terrible?  What if the cooking time is totally wrong?  What if it just doesn’t make sense?  (Peyten’s an English teacher so I was also worried about grammar and parallel structure.)  I actually felt like I was back in middle school, getting my essay read and ripped apart by my teacher.  Do you remember that feeling of dread when the teacher told you she was returning your paper?  Same feeling, only this time the success or failure of the assignment would be on display in front of five other people.

As I walked into Peyten’s house on Tuesday night, I didn’t know what she was making or what to expect.  I was amazed when I saw the bustle in her kitchen and all of the delicious things being prepared.  And everything looked like it should look.  I breathed a sigh of relief and was ready to enjoy the gluten-free meal.

Here’s what Peyten made.  Quite a feast and everything was delicious.

Roasted Rack of Lamb with Pesto Crust

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Risotto

Roasted Asparagus

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Ice Cream & Chocolate Sauce

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Peyten’s boyfriend, Stan, added his own component to the meal, grilled fruit.  It was a unique and flavorful addition, especially the pineapple.  It would be a perfect dessert too.

It always means so much to me when people invite me to dinner and want to cook for me.  It’s intimidating to cook for anyone, but especially a person who’s gluten-free.  I’m amazed anytime a friend or family member welcomes me into their home and wants to give “gluten-free cooking” a try.  The time and energy that Peyten must have spent researching, planning and shopping for this meal is much more than cooking for a gluten-eating group.  People have no idea just how moving it is for me to eat outside of my house, but it’s huge.  Our lives can actually be normal, something I doubted would ever be possible when I was first diagnosed.

While Peyten’s use of my recipes intimidated me, this exercise of having other people make my dishes was definitely good and I should really do it more often to get feedback on what works and doesn’t work.  Also, since I’ve been gluten-free for almost three years, sometimes I take for granted the things that I just know and consequently don’t clearly explain in my posts.  I want Gluten Freedom not just to be useful for those who are gluten-free.  I want to provide a resource for gluten-eating people that are hosting a GF person in their home.  I hope to create clear, manageable recipes that will make GF guests feel comfortable, but also minimize stress for the host by using simple ingredients and directions.

While at Peyten’s, I was reminded of a couple of tricky gluten-topics that I should discuss:

  • Chicken broth/stock sometimes contains gluten.  Yes, I know.  It’s absolutely ridiculous.  Some of the brands that I use are Pacific and Imagine.
  • When buying ice cream, you obviously want to stay away from Cookies ‘n Cream and Cookie Dough, but I also avoid generic brands that have a ton of ingredients, making it difficult to determine whether or not there’s gluten.  When I buy ice cream, I go with Edy’s or Breyer’s.
  • Vanilla extract (for the chocolate sauce) can be controversial in regards to gluten content.  While vanilla does contain grain alcohol, it should be gluten-free, since the alcohol has gone through a distillation process.  The same thinking applies with vinegar and liquor.  Beer, however, still contains gluten because it has not been distilled.

So, did the recipes pass the test?  Everything tasted yummy and I woke up the next day feeling great!  (This doesn’t always happen when I eat outside of my home.)  Hopefully my grammar and sentence structure passed too!

Thank you, Peyten, and the many others who have hosted me in the past and those who will have me in the future.

Note: Photos are from when I made these dishes previously.  Peyten’s looked very similar though!  I’m not yet quite tacky enough to take my camera to someone else’s home but I have a feeling I will soon.

Parish Foods & Goods

Posted in Atlanta, Restaurants, Uncategorized on April 28th, 2010 by Betsy – 4 Comments

Many restaurants in Atlanta implement the culinary perspective of southern tradition meets fine dining.  I love this combination, particularly when a restaurant does it differently and uniquely.  On Saturday night, I got to experience quality southern food in a casual, laid back environment at Parish Foods & Goods.  Formerly an old pipe factory, Parish is located in the Inman Park/Virginia Highlands area.  The restaurant’s rustic vibe is welcoming, yet the quality of food is not compromised.  Chef Nick Melvin uses seasonal, local produce to create an ever-changing menu that pleases a variety of diners, even gluten-free customers.

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Last weekend David and I went to dinner with my cousin, Margaret and her boyfriend, Chip so we decided to try Parish.  This was my first trip to Parish, but I had heard many cool things about not just the food, but also the ambiance and décor at Parish.  For those of you that remember, last Saturday’s weather was unusually freakish and weird, even compared to the last nine months in Atlanta.  Fortunately, like every other restaurant in Atlanta, Parish had valet so upon arrival, we handed off the keys and made a mad dash to the front door.  (Has anyone else noticed that valet is everywhere in Atlanta?  I mean, it’s not like parking is tough here.)

z-PARISHbar2We went inside Parish and I immediately fell for the décor and the atmosphere.  The bar is warm and welcoming.  (Cue Cheers theme music.)  I can definitely see just going to Parish for a beverage and an appetizer, sitting at the bar.  The exposed brick and understated interior makes Parish feel anything but pretentious.  There was live music in the front of the restaurant and of course the ‘old person in me,’ wanted to sit far away from the solo artist and his guitar.  Unfortunately, there was a prom group occupying the back of the restaurant so we stayed near the tunes.  Good news, though!  The music didn’t bother me at all.  The tables are cozy enough that we didn’t have to shout at each other across the table and I ended up enjoying the music.  It didn’t dominate the feel of the restaurant, but provided nice background noise.

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Once we were seated, the waitress was very attentive and informative about the menu.  I love the huge chalkboard that overlooks the main dining room, because it adds to Parish’s casual vibe, and provides a written reference for the specials.  It also listed the fresh vegetable side dishes which I immediately gravitated towards.  (Yum, carrots, greens, snow peas…) The chef briefed our server about the gluten-free options on the menu and I was impressed by how many items were naturally gluten-free or could easily be tweaked.  As I’ve mentioned before, appetizers can be particularly tough to find GF options, but there were many on that evening’s menu.  Some of my options included:

  • Milk & Honey Salad (sans house made nougat)
  • Parish Sausage Plate
  • Eggs & Bacon (skip the brioche toast)
  • Crab & Avacado
  • New Orleans BBQ Shrimp (hold the toasted baguette)

Wow!  It made me want to come back to Parish just for the appetizer options.  I’m not used to having so many choices so I had some difficulty deciding what to order.  David and I ultimately decided to share the Crab & Avacado appetizer that included lump crab, avocado, ginger pickled beet root, and ricotta salata.  Chip and Margaret chose that appetizer too, and it was thoroughly enjoyed by both the gluten-free and glutenous eaters.  It was the perfect size for sharing but I could have eaten the whole thing by myself.

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Crab & Avocado Appetizer

While we often associate southern food with “battered and deep fried”, there were many non-fried, gluten-free entrees on Parish’s menu for me.  Yes, I was momentarily envious of the ‘Big Easy Fried Chicken” platters the waiter carried past my table, but my eyes quickly moved down the menu to my other options.  Of course the buttermilk braised pork and dumplings, with spring succotash also caught my attention, but I was sure that dish wouldn’t be an option.  When the waitress told me that I could order the pork without the dumplings, I was psyched because I love braised pork shoulder.  So instead of the dumplings, they let me get my choice of one of their veggie sides.  Since the dish already came with spring succotash, I ordered the roasted carrots.

When they brought out our entrees, mine didn’t look any different than David’s who ordered the pork and dumplings, with dumplings.  Actually they looked so similar, that I was nervous at first, but upon close examination we found the dumplings in David’s and purple carrots buried underneath the tender, braised pork.  Yummy!  I loved the crunch of the carrots and peas with the tender pork.  Both a contradiction and a complement.  I could really taste the flavors of the meat and veggies because they weren’t overpowered by a thick sauce.  The two boys and I all ordered the pork and Margaret ordered the duck special that also looked amazing and most likely gluten-free.

Braised Pork (sans dumplings)

Braised Pork (sans dumplings)

My only gluten-free criticism of our dining experience at Parish was a lack of gluten-free desserts, but honestly, by the end of the meal, I was so full, that dessert probably wasn’t an option anyways.  Maybe in the future, they’ll experiment with some southern gluten-free desserts, as their menu’s always changing.

After dinner we checked out the downstairs part of Parish.  For lunch and throughout the evening, this part of the restaurant is open, selling sandwiches, salads and lighter food.  I will have to go back to check out my gluten-free options.  They have a nice area to sit outside that would be nice when it’s not pouring rain.  Parish is also known for their brunch, giving me yet another reason to return to Parish.  Has anyone ever tried Parish’s market or their brunch?

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Final Verdict: Loved the overall feel of Parish and enjoyed the food.  I will definitely be back to try out other options and see how the menu changes as we head into the summer months.  The staff understood my gluten-free needs and were very willing to accommodate me.  Worth the trip (and a return trip)!

Parish Food & Goods – 240 North Highland Ave – Atlanta, GA 30307 – 404.681.4434
Parish Foods & Goods on Urbanspoon

Weeknight Dinner: Honey Mustard Chicken & Roasted Asparagus

Posted in local food, recipe on April 26th, 2010 by Betsy – 2 Comments

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I often find myself planning my meals around what side dishes I want to serve.  Last week when I was greeted at The Local Farmstand by the arrival of this beautiful asparagus, I knew I had to make it that night for dinner.  Yes, spring is finally here!  When Nicholas dropped off the asparagus, I immediately started planning what I could make that would go well with the asparagus and I thought of our staple weeknight-dish, honey mustard chicken.

I’ve written about honey mustard chicken before, but I just couldn’t resist taking a few photos of this family-favorite last week.  Honey mustard chicken is another entrée that’s perfect for entertaining.  Minimal labor and no work once the guests arrives.  The combination of sweet honey, spice mustard and the kick of curry make a great trio.  I usually serve this dish with a veggie and a grain of choice.  Last week I used leftover quinoa with leeks and green garlic…stay tuned for that recipe.

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A last minute dinner idea turned into a delicious feast.  So easy and so delicious.

Honey Mustard Chicken

  • 2-6 boneless chicken breasts (depending on how many people you’re trying to feed)
  • ½ stick unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • ½-1teaspoon curry powder

Preheat oven to 325. Melt butter over low heat. Remove from burner.
While melted butter is still warm, stir in honey until it mixes with butter. Repeat with mustard. Stir in curry powder.
Place chicken breasts in a Pyrex dish. Pour mixture over chicken. Put in oven and let cook (uncovered) for 1 hour, basting every 15 minutes. If mixture gets a little sticky, just add some water.
Remove from oven and serve with rice or another grain. Use the sauce from the dish on the rice as well.

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Roasted Asparagus (Serves 3)

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • S&P

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Preheat oven to 375*. Snap off tough asparagus ends and discard.  Put on baking sheet and gently toss to coat in olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast in oven for about 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway through.  Cooking time can vary with asparagus, depending on how crispy you want it to be.

*Note: I put the asparagus in the oven towards the end of the chicken’s cooking time, so used a 325 degree oven instead of 375.  Once I removed the chicken, I cranked up the heat to 400 for another few minutes.  They turned out delicious.

Enjoy!

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Brunch Ideas: Quiche Two Ways

Posted in Atlanta, baking, recipe on April 23rd, 2010 by Betsy – 2 Comments

One of my favorite things about the weekend is the rare opportunity to sit and really enjoy breakfast food.  No need to rush through a bowl of cereal and grab a to-go cup of coffee.  You can sit by yourself, with friends, or loved ones, and simply enjoy the morning and those great breakfast foods that you don’t have time for during the week.  Ahh.  I’m so glad it’s Friday.  Last weekend was so busy, with lacrosse tournaments and a trip to Chapel Hill for our godchild’s baptism, but I’m looking forward to a weekend at home to relax and enjoy leisurely meals.

quiche

Looking for a great idea for brunch?  Quiche is a simple recipe that allows you to be creative with the ingredients that go into it.  You can be seasonal, meat heavy, or vegetarian.  A crowd pleaser, and relatively hands-off during the preparation process.  You can even make it ahead of time and simply reheat.

I decided to make my quiche recipe for Easter brunch and it was a big success.  It’s a great recipe for entertaining because you just mix the ingredients together (after some chopping), pour into the pie crust and bake.  No work once the guests arrived.  I use the Whole Foods Gluten-Free Bakehouse pie crust since I haven’t yet perfected the made-from-scratch GF crust.

I made two very different quiches, both of which used the same base ingredients:

  • 4 quality eggs lightly beaten (Of course I used ‘Amazing Eggs’ from Love is Love Farm.)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup 2% (or whole) milk
  • Salt and pepper

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Preheat oven to 375.  Whisk the above ingredients together in a bowl.

Bacon & Onion Quiche

This quiche is a meat lover’s favorite!  Cook 5 pieces of bacon in a skillet on medium heat.  I love bacon, but hate cooking it (and consequently smelling like bacon for the rest of the day) so I get my favorite sous chef to cook the bacon.

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Once cooked, remove from skillet and place on paper towels.  Cut bacon into small pieces.  In the same skillet, using bacon grease, sauté ½ cup of onions on medium until browned.  Add bacon and onions to egg/cheese/milk.  Mix and pour into pie crust.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until top of quiche starts to get golden brown.

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Broccoli & Green Garlic Quiche

green garlic

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I used fresh, spring veggies for this one and it was perfect for a lovely Easter Sunday.  Chop green garlic into thin pieces.  (Don’t use green ends, just white and light green parts.)  Sautee in olive oil for about five minutes.  Chop broccoli into pieces and bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add broccoli to boiling water and heat for 3 minutes.  Quickly remove broccoli from hot water and put into a bowl of ice water.  (This process is called blanching.)  Cut broccoli into smaller pieces so they are bite size.  Add green garlic and broccoli to egg/cheese/milk mixture.  Mix and pour into pie crust.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until top of quiche begins to turn a golden brown.

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I love a nice spring salad and fresh fruit as sides when serving quiche for a fancier brunch, such as our Easter luncheon.

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Enjoy your weekend!  I hope you find it relaxing, with lots of time to enjoy yummy breakfasts.  What are some of your favorite quiche recipes or brunch favorites?

‘Top Chef: The Tour’ in Atlanta

Posted in Atlanta on April 21st, 2010 by Betsy – 2 Comments

Forget all of the hype in Washington, D.C. about the filming of ‘Top Chef.’  Atlanta’s got ‘Top Chef’ too!  Well, ‘Top Chef:’ The Tour, that is.

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Yesterday I went to ‘Top Chef: The Tour,’ featuring Atlantans, Kevin Gillespie and Richard Blais. Under a tent in the Westside Provisions’ parking lot, Blais and Gillespie performed a cooking demo/improv comedy routine.  The rain could not keep me away from checking out the tour and getting a glimpse of two of my favorite local celebs.  Even though the closest I got to Padma and Tom were cardboard cutouts, I still thoroughly enjoyed my brush with fame and the opportunity to listen to Kevin and Richard’s banter, while watching Blais’ science tricks.

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So what happened during the show?  For the first half of the show Blais created a ‘quick fire’ dish that was his twist on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Of course he did not disappoint in his use of fancy gadgets.  Every seat had a great view of the demo stage, and they had mirrors above the stage so you could get a better view of what was being prepared.

IMG_0767 First, Blais created a Thai-inspired peanut butter adding lime, fish sauce and cilantro.

Fancy Thai-peanut butter

Fancy Thai-peanut butter

Blais then moved on to liquid nitrogen-created ‘grapes’ made from preserves in a sous vide.  He shamelessly plugged this new sous vide that can be purchased for a home.  (Perfect for a wedding gift, right?)  Giving Blais a hard time about his marketing, Kevin then asked if any of us were interested in GE appliances.

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Richard Blais' new marketing plug: the sous vide for the personal kitchen

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Liquid Nitrogen...

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Making 'grapes' with preserves

Blais served the Thai-peanut butter and ‘fruit caviar’ on a sponge cake made with CO2, using just three ingredients, and heated in the microwave.  (Apparently, Blais also made this sponge cake on his recent appearance on Iron Chef.)

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Showing off the sponge cake, fresh out of the microwave.

Sadly, the sponge cake was not gluten-free, so no sampling for this girl.  Blais even managed to incorporate truffle oil into this dish.  (He glazed the paper cups that he used for heating the sponge cake with a mixture of truffle oil, brown sugar, and something else.)

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After the cooking exhibition, Blais and Gillespie took questions from the audience.  A sampling of the questions included:

What’s your least favorite food?” Gillespie responded with hazelnuts.

What happens when you get kicked off the show?”  Contestants are sequestered in apartments, but they can go out to restaurants, hang out at the pool, and relax.  Unfortunately they still have to live with the fact that they got kicked off the show.

Was the show stressful?”  Of course it was!  Interestingly, they said that it was hard to be in empty bedrooms as the show got down to its final few contestants, a constant reminder that people were getting kicked off.

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Of course the teacher in me couldn’t resist asking a question.   I’m fascinated by what happens behind the scenes so I asked how long judges’ table takes.  They said as the show gets down to fewer contestants, judges’ table gets longer.  Kevin and Richard both said that their final judges’ table took over nine hours!!  I knew it was long but that’s crazy!

Richard and Kevin made quite the team.  While Richard was the center piece of the demonstration, the two made a clever, and funny, duo.  They were goofy, made jokes (some good, some bad) and actually seemed like they wanted to be there.  If ‘The Tour’ comes to your town, I highly recommend checking it out.  I didn’t get tickets in advance, just arrived 20 minutes before hand.  They had lots of extra tickets, which are free, and you get to sample the food, if you’re not gluten free.  Let the stalking continue…

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Decatur’s Iberian Pig

Posted in Atlanta, Restaurants on April 19th, 2010 by Betsy – 9 Comments

Recently, David and I wanted to enjoy the spring weather so we decided to head to Decatur, wander around, and get a drink.  We had no plans of dining out, thinking that we would just eat a later dinner when we got home.

iberian-pig-logo-w-outlineWe stopped at the Iberian Pig, a relatively new restaurant in Decatur, and grabbed a seat at the bar.  This modern, Spanish restaurant offers many options on its menu, including cured meats, cheeses, small plates as well as entrees.  We placed ourselves directly in front of a fancy meat slicer that managed to grab our attention.  The bartenders were very attentive, and the vibe at the bar was professional, yet quirky.  All bartenders wear white button downs, black vests and ties, yet I think it’s a requirement that you must also have multiple tattoos and piercings to work at the bar.  I ordered a glass of Pinot from their relatively large wine selection.  David decided to try an Old Fashioned, in honor of Don Draper from our new favorite show, ‘Mad Men.’  (Well, it’s tied for first with ‘The Wire.’)  After sitting at the bar for a few minutes, we knew we liked the Iberian Pig simply because of the atmosphere and the Old Fashioned made by the bartender.  Who knew an Old Fashioned comes with one huge ice cube?

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Of course I took a look at the menu even though food wasn’t part of the plan.  I immediately saw the “BWDs,” bacon wrapped dates stuffed with Manchego cheese and walnuts.  Wow.  Sounded potentially gluten-free, so figured it couldn’t hurt to ask.  The bartender said Iberian Pig actually was making a GF menu so he called over the owner, Frederico Castellucci.  He was very eager to serve us and went through some of our options with us while another waitress brought us the gluten-free menu.

Much to my happiness, the BWDs are naturally gluten-free so we placed an order.  These bites of tastiness were a perfect treat.  As you know, I love the dates and cheese combination, and bacon makes everything taste better, right?

BWDs...Amazing

BWDs...Amazing

We also ordered the Patatas al Valdeon, crunchy potatoes with an aioli sauce.  They blanch, bake and then fry the potatoes but they use a fryer that doesn’t fry breaded items.  (I would still double check with your waiter when you go because they could change fryers.)  These crunchy morsels of goodness were amazing and for once, I actually felt like I could eat ‘bar food.’  No salads or sauteed vegetables for this girl!  The sauce went perfectly with the potatoes but didn’t sog them up too much.  David generously let me enjoy way more than half my share.

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Patatas

Patatas

While I didn’t end up ordering an entrée because the tapas plates were plenty for me, there were multiple items that caught my eye on the gluten-free menu.  That just means I’ll have to go back.  Here are some of the other things I like about Iberian Pig that have nothing to do with gluten:

  • The menu lists where they get all of their meat from so you know what you’re ordering.
  • It’s busy on a Friday night but you can still hear the person sitting next to you.
  • Good people watching
  • We got great attention for the servers, bartender, and even the owner.
  • The cool meat slicer is fascinating.

It was such a great surprise to stumble upon a restaurant that was eager to accommodate and even had a prepared gluten-free menu.  Celiac makes me have to be such a planner, so it’s always a relief when I can just happen upon a meal, and not have to think about what I’m doing or where I’m going far in advance.  The Iberian Pig is definitely worth the trip to Decatur, even just for cocktails and appetizers.  They have outside seating as well so enjoy a nice spring evening on their patio.  I think I prefer the bar though.

The Iberian Pig – 121 Sycamore St – Decatur, GA 30030 – (404) 371-8800
The Iberian Pig on Urbanspoon

What’s for Dinner?

Posted in Atlanta, cooking, vegetarian on April 16th, 2010 by Betsy – 4 Comments

I know everyone’s eager for the traditional summer veggies we all love.  Mmm, corn, squash,  tomatoes.  But take a look at what’s beautiful and in-season right now at The Local Farmstand.

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Can you resist these beautiful veggies? Decisions, decisions.  What to choose?  What to make?  So many vegetables. So little time.

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I made this for dinner last night…Delish.  I don’t have a name for it yet, but it was amazing.

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Who knew salad could look so good?  Crystal Organics salad mix and beets.  Woodland gardens micro greens.

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Chopped pistachios.  Roast beets, peel, cut.  Saute with balsamic vinegar, honey and olive oil.

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Top with goat cheese.  Eat.

IMG_0697The Local Farmstand – 1198 Howell Mill Rd – Atlanta, GA 30318

To Picnic or not to Picnic: A Trip to Serenbe Farms

Posted in Atlanta, Uncategorized on April 15th, 2010 by Betsy – 11 Comments

Over Easter weekend, David’s parents came to visit us in Atlanta.  Being that Bob shares my interest in farming and local food, we decided to take them to Serenbe Farms.  For those of you unfamiliar with Serenbe, it’s a “certified organic farm nestled in sustainable Serenbe community,” about an hour southwest of Atlanta.  People own homes in the Serenbe development, which also includes a handful of shops, a couple of restaurants and an inn.  The farm grows lots of vegetables throughout the year and folks in Atlanta can participate in a Serenbe CSA during the warmer months, and share in the farm’s bounty.

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David and I ran a trail race at Serenbe last fall and enjoyed our time in the town, but I definitely got a little bit of a Pleasantville vibe from Serenbe.  It just seems a little ‘too put together’ for a farm.  Think rustic Pottery Barn.  Even the signs in Serenbe seem like they’ve intentionally been created to look old.  It’s definitely worth a visit to check out and assess for yourself.

David and me at Serenbe in the fall after running the trail race

At Serenbe in the fall after running the trail race

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On Saturday morning, we packed a picnic (because where else could be a more perfect place for a picnic than a farm community?) and headed south.  It was a gorgeous day, so we walked around the farm and the community.  I immediately fell in love with the baby goats, especially the runt of the group.

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I also took a liking to the pig, or at least that’s what I think it is.  Quite hairy for a pig, right?  Most girls my age covet designer bags, cars, and clothes.  I covet farm animals.

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After checking out the Serenbe shops and making some purchases, we headed back to the car to retrieve our picnic supplies.  Finding a perfect spot for our picnic, we settled down to our meal, the part of the day I had been looking forward to the most.

It makes logical sense, right?  Spring + Farm + Gorgeous Weather = picnic

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Doesn’t it just sound perfect?  To me it did.  I felt like we could be on the cover of Serenbe Magazine or Southern Living.

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Towards the end of our picnic a white haired man, clad in a ginormous Serenbe belt buckle, who’d earlier been driving a green Mercedes approached us.  “Isn’t that nice?,” I thought to myself.  He’s coming over to meet us, maybe even see if we’re interested in buying property here.  Not so much.  David introduced himself and the man towering over us, responded, “Who are you with?”  Wow.  Was I at a country club or a farm?  Our silence showed that none of us quite new how to reply.

‘Sheriff Serenbe’ then informed us that they don’t allow picnics at Serenbe.  Really?  Do they prohibit laughing and hand holding as well?  Now I’m a rule follower so believe me, if any signs existed on the property that listed the ‘picnic ban’ I would never have laid down my blanket.  He proceeded to tell us that we should be eating at the restaurants, not picnicking.  I didn’t think quickly enough to tell him that we’d already made purchases in the stores earlier that day.  Way to drive away your clientele, sir.  David and I had no plans of buying property at Serenbe, but if we had, this anti-picnic stance would most likely have been a deal breaker.  He told us we could finish our picnic if we wanted to, so we ate for a few more awkward moments and packed up our belongings.

Why am I still thinking about this encounter, over a week later?  Unclear.  I think the resonation remains because it makes me feel like Serenbe’s trying to be something it’s not, or at the very least, having an identity crisis.  Is Serenbe about farming and sustainability or elitism?  Can it be all of the above?  It seems like we keep hearing local, sustainable and accessible being used together but do people really want the local farming movement to be accessible?  Throughout history, food has always been a status symbol.  Why does it have to be this way?  Will quality of food always be a way to separate the haves and have nots?

We still enjoyed our picnic, prior to the interruption and my Serenbe fascination remains, despite being potentially black listed from the property for being a rule breaker.  I do love that the farmers at Serenbe are young, enthusiastic growers who share a love of and appreciation for the earth and it’s bounty.  They encourage volunteers on the farm and pay you for your work in fresh veggies.  In fact, I hope to spend time working on the farm this summer.  I’ll just make sure not to bring a picnic.

Enjoying our coffee purchased at the Serenbe Bakery.

Enjoying our coffee purchased at Serenbe's Blue Eyed Daisy.

Real Simple’s “Top 8″ GF Goodies

Posted in advice, meals on April 14th, 2010 by Betsy – 2 Comments

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Another sighting of mainstream magazines giving attention to us gluten-free eaters.  Check out Real Simple Magazine’s 8 Gluten-Free Goodies.  The editors even picked two of my favorite gluten-free snacks: Glutino Pretzels and Mary’s Gone Crackers.  Glutino pretzels are perfect with hummus and my gluten-eating friends love them more than regular pretzels.  The delicious buttery taste and the light, crispiness is so much tastier than an Utz pretzel, I promise.

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I’ve also converted many people to Mary’s Gone Crackers.  My mom always keeps them in the house, even though I no longer live in the same state.  Real Simple recommends the Onion flavor of Mary’s, but I have to disagree.  The Original flavor is definitely my Mary’s of choice.  The other flavors are a bit too overpowering for me.  I prefer the Original cracker with a yummy brie or gouda.  Perfect for cocktail time!

Mary's Gone Crackers are the speckled brown crackers.  They add great color to your platter!

Mary's Gone Crackers are the speckled brown crackers. They add great color to your platter!

Have you tried any of the items that made the list?  Do they make your list?  Are there any that you think were left out that should have made the list of eight?  I do find it a little odd that Real Simple didn’t just make a “Top 10” list.  Seriously, couldn’t they find two more gluten-free treats?

‘Top Chef DC’ Stalking Continues

Posted in Uncategorized on April 13th, 2010 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

2010-03 Top Chef DC

As a follow up to last week’s post about the filming of Top Chef in Washington, DC, my friend, Ellie, sent me the following link:

Top Chef DC: The Map:” This Washingtonian site posts and maps the sightings of Tom, Padma and other Top Chef folks.  Sightings include, Gail eating at Oyamel and filming at the Newseum. (Great museum but it needs all the press it can get with its steep price of admission!).  Most recent update: Crew spotted yesterday at 13th and K St, Northwest.  Oh, I wish I was there to do my own Top Chef hunting!  I’ll just have to keep a watch from a few states away.  Maybe it’s safer that way.