Friday, July 16, 2010

At the Grocery Store, in the Mailbox

Howdy, friends!  Now that we’ve gotten my love life straightened out, we can get back to more important things, like food and shopping. 

When it comes to grocery shopping, I run hot and cold.  Sometimes I love it; sometimes it feels like such a chore.  Like most things in my life, if I feel like I’m doing it for fun, then I love it.  If it feels necessary and unavoidable, I am much less enthusiastic about it.  Maybe that’s how I feel about all shopping?  I remember shopping for a pair of black high-heeled shoes for job interviews last summer.  I did it totally on a whim.  I was at work, presumably doing something that needed to get done, when I just decided to leave and go to the mall.  I’d been feeling anxious about putting together my interview outfits, and I knew I needed new shoes—classy, dressy ones with no open toes and preferably ones that wouldn’t kill my feet after an hour.  I ended up at Nine West, taking footware advice from a friendly older woman, and even though the shopping was necessary, it was pretty fun.  I think the part where I skipped work was the best.  Remember when I confessed that I’m not a fun girl?  I think that may be changing.  I’ll have to tell you more later, in a future post.

On a fun whim the other day at the grocery store, I decided to take a chance.  I plunked a half-gallon of original flavor Silk PureAlmond almond milk in my cart, and since then, it’s become one of my weekly pick-ups at the store.  It seems like the universe has been trying to nudge me toward almond milk for a while, but I haven’t been listening.  My sister-in-law makes her own, using dates as a sweetener, and when I was staying at Daphna and Ian’s in May, Daphna’s mom used it in her coffee, and so I did too.  Almond milk, I don’t know what took me so long, but I’m glad we found each other!

A Morning Companion

Silk’s PureAlmond is really great stuff.  It has a sweet, vaguely nutty flavor, with just a hint of almonds.  The texture is a little creamy but not palate-coating.  I use it all the time in overnight oatmeal.  One of the odd things about this almond milk is that it tastes sweeter than cow’s milk to me, even though cup for cup, it has half as much sugar (7 g versus 12 g in 2% cow’s milk).  I even did a side-by-side tasting to test my impression, and the almond milk was noticeably sweeter.  By comparison, dairy milk had a cleaner taste, like you’d want in a good palate-cleanser.  Except for taste tests, I don’t drink milk straight any more, but if I were a milk-and-cookies kinda girl, I’d prefer dairy milk with sweets.

Almond milk has even made its way into my morning cup of coffee.  My new formula is 1 tablespoon each of almond milk and heavy cream and 1 tsp. sugar, either hippie sugar or vanilla-infused granulated sugar.  The combination is subtly sweet and creamy enough to make the morning coffee feel like a treat.  I deserve a reward for getting out of bed, especially on the mornings when I have to go to work.

Spoons Welcome

Speaking of mornings, peanut butter is a steady morning companion of mine.  I take my peanut butter very, very seriously, so it was with some anxiety that, when offered the chance to try a new-to-me brand, I accepted the offer.  The company, via its generous correspondent, Nanette, went a little overboard and sent me four big jars of peanut butter—that’s four pounds of peanut butter, all for me!  Yikes.  The peanut butter had the unfortunate experience of sitting in a very hot Texas mailbox for nine days while I was off roaming the streets of Chicago, but upon opening the first jar, it tasted perfectly fresh to me.  I immediately tucked them all into the fridge, just to be on the safe side.

The company who made this donation to my belly is Krema Products and Crazy Richard’s of Dublin, Ohio.  They sell peanut butter under both brand names, but as I understand it, the product is the same.  It’s good stuff, this Krema/Crazy Richard’s peanut butter.  Made of only peanuts, this nut butter has a wonderfully pure flavor, just the essence of peanut butter.  So far, I’ve eaten most of two jars, the Krema chunky peanut butter and the Crazy Richard’s smooth peanut butter.  I love the Krema as a dip with raw carrot sticks.  I wasn’t quite as wild about Crazy Richard’s, until I did a little bit of detective work and uncovered a piece of utterly obvious wisdom about peanut butter: you can add things to it.  Uh, yeah!  It was forehead-smackingly obvious, yet I needed someone else to point it out to me (thanks, Nick!).  I decided that what Crazy Richard’s needed was some added complexity in the form of salt and sugar.  Working off of Nick’s recommendations, I started adding a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of sugar to an open jar.  I tasted the peanut butter after adding most of the salt and sugar, only to find out that the salt was too much.  I added a bit more sugar, hoped for the best, and tasted.  Nope.  Still too salty.  Until I tried it on my morning oatmeal the next day, where suddenly the saltiness was delicious!  That extra bit of salt made the whole bowl taste better, sweeter and more vibrant.  This incident is, to me, yet another illustration of how one must overseason condiments in order to make them perfectly seasoned with other foods.  For example, I wouldn’t slurp soy sauce by itself, but I love it on rice and vegetables, or sprinkled on salads, or stirred into soups.  Peanut butter can definitely be a condiment, in which case extra salt can be a flavor booster.

Fresh from Rosa's

This last one’s for locals only.  Long-distance readers, you’ll have to find your own tortillas.  Just down the street from me is Rosa’s, a restaurant that sells cheap, tasty Tex-Mex food and freshly made tortillas.  It even calls itself a tortilla factory, which I find rather charming.  It’s a place where Matt and I usually have lunch when he’s visiting me, and my only regret about his visit last weekend is that we didn’t make time for Rosa’s—so sad!  To make up for it, I sauntered over there this evening to pick up a few tortillas for dinner.  It was very tempting to just stay at Rosa’s, especially when I remembered how much I love their guacamole, but I wanted to cook tonight.  Maybe next week I’ll go to Rosa’s for dinner.

Rosa’s flour tortillas are the best.  They are doughy and a little thick, and with an application of butter and/or olive oil, they crisp up nicely in a hot skillet.  I first had them as part of a quesadilla meal that Matt made back in January.  I still dream about those quesadillas, filled with sautéed onions and bell peppers and so much cheese!  We ate them with salsa, of course, and this salad that blew my mind with its garlicky, salty, almost pickle-like radishes and bitter greens and fresh pears.  One day I will figure out how to make those radishes, and it will be a very good day.

Tonight I was inspired to make quesadillas, using the bits and bobs waiting patiently in my refrigerator: onions and peppers, leftover tofu scramble, shredded cheese.  I put on my Hootie & the Blowfish album* and listened to long-forgotten but much-loved songs while I pushed vegetables around a skillet and buzzed fresh melon and white wine in the blender to make something cold and fruity to sip.  Then I sat down to eat my homemade meal.  The quesadillas were hot and crispy, the boozy cocktail cold and refreshing.  It was a very good dinner, from start to finish.  I was pleased.

But next week I’m eating at Rosa’s.

*Don’t judge.  I like Hootie.  I’m not ashamed.  Plus their Musical Chairs album is lovely, so sweet and sad.


Nicole said...

I've been drinking Silk Almond Milk for a while now. I switched to almond milk from soy milk after deciding that I wanted to limit my soy intake (with the vague concerns of soy estrogen). And of course, I can't drink cow milk (being lactose intolerant). I started with Almond Breeze (made by Blue Diamond), which was fine but not amazing. But then, Silk came out with almond milk, and whoa! It was mind-blowing, especially in comparison to Almond Breeze. Andy will actually drink a glass of Silk almond milk (and he has never EVER consumed a glass of milk straight). I will admit that the nut flavor can sometimes throw off the taste of a recipe. But it's perfect in almost everything. Hurray!

Rosiecat said...

Hey Nicole! How funny that we both found Silk and loved it! Two reasons I decided to try it: 1) I eat so much dairy already that I felt the need to add some variety to my diet and 2) my neighborhood grocery store doesn't sell my favorite soy milk (Soy Dream), so I needed something else.

I think I've tried Blue Diamond's almond milk, but I haven't done a rigorous taste test. Thanks for the heads-up about it. I think I'll stick with Silk's :-)

Happy weekend, friend!

Shannon said...

i've been picking up Silk Almond milk the past month or two as well, and as long as I keep getting $1 off coupons from my grocery store, i'll keep it up :) i agree, cookies would go better with cow's milk, but i'm ok with that.

Rosiecat said...

Ha! Silk must be doing a nationwide coupon promotion because I'm getting $1 coupons at the grocery store too. That's awesome. And it makes the almond milk incredibly affordable for me--only $2.49 for a half-gallon, which is a big savings compared to $3.49 or higher for organic cow's milk.

I'm more of a tea-and-cookies person. Or, when I'm feeling devil-may-care about caffeine, COFFEE and cookies! Yum.

Nick said...

=). Yes, in my opinion, peanut butter always needs salt. Unsalted peanut butter is good for cooking and baking but little else. I'm surprised that 1t of salt was too much! The jar has 0mg salt right? Did you use kosher salt or table salt? Table salt is twice the density (and twice the sodium) of kosher salt and also doesn't taste as good in peanut butter (in my opinion). Adding 1t table salt per jar is about the same amount of sodium you'd find in a jar of salted peanut butter, whereas 1t of kosher salt per jar is only half as much as you'd normally find. Either way, glad it worked out for your oats!

Rosiecat said...

Hi, Nick! Thanks for such a helpful comment. I was surprised about the salt too! I didn't know how to convert between kosher and table salt, but still, 1 tsp. didn't seem like that much. My jar was probably about 2/3 full. It is a no-salt peanut butter.

I will have to try kosher salt next time I salt my peanut butter! And I'll use your measurements for optimal results :-) Still, Crazy Richard's has a great peanut flavor and it was delicious on oatmeal, even if I couldn't eat it straight out of the jar.