Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My first time tasting Mozzarella cheese

Maybe I should rephrase that and say; I just recently tasted Mozzarella cheese, the way it was meant to taste, for the first time, here where I live. There. I know while overseas or in the northeast I ate plenty of fresh made mozzarella.

In my neck of the woods it's always been either the oil based fake mozzarella on commercial pizzas or the supposed version sold at the grocery store. Those blocks sold at the store are hard, without texture, filled with added mystery ingredients and tasteless. I believe the most important aspect most folks here want to see out that cheese is the string quality, not the taste or ingredient quality.

How about those scary fried cheese sticks provided for free with any order of stuffed crust cheese pizza? Yes, let's order a cheese pizza, with even the crust stuffed with cheese and then gorge on a box filled with fried cheese sticks. Oh wait! It's not cheese really, it's a processed petroleum product. Yum... Hold on. I need to take some aspirin and a couple of Lipitors first. Let me down those pills with the liter of cola that came with the pizza order.

Where was I going with this? It's been a while since I've had a quality rant. Sorry.

I was actually headed in a more positive direction. Chris had to work last Saturday and just happened to be near our favorite food store - Whole Foods. I had mentioned that I wanted to make some pizzas and he thought it would be great to pick up some fresh made Buffalo Mozzarella while he was there.

It was a brilliant idea! The cheese was locally made, all wrapped up in a ball and tasted dreamy. It had a great texture too. We couldn't believe the difference in taste and quality. I decided to attempt a Margherita pizza. It ended up being the best tasting pizza I have made so far. Funny thing being it had the least ingredients. I admit I did cheat on the crust. I purchased pre made pizza dough (Janet, you have my permission to slap me next time I see you), let it rest an hour, shaped it, then topped it with some simple red sauce I made. The sauce was 4 cloves of garlic chopped and then heated in a little olive oil, added some crushed tomatoes and a little dried oregano and simmered for a bit.

For the pizza I rubbed the outside crust with olive oil, spooned on the sauce, placed four large slices of cheese (about 1/4 inch thick) on the pizza and baked. Once done I sprinkled on some fresh basil. This pizza was what dreams are made of. The cheese tasted great uncooked, but had an incredible flavor cooked. An awakening in flavor. Totally a universe apart from regular grocery store purchased shredded mozzarella. You have to make it yourself to understand.

I will never forget the look on Chris's face after his first taste.

Makes me wonder what else are we are missing out on? I learned what good olive oil was supposed to taste like, good balsamic vinegar and now this. I can't wait to find out what else we can learn about in the food world.Bella enjoyed some homemade pizza too. She made her own. She likes just plain cheese pizza.
Happy Mr. Picky here still won't try pizza. We've tried, nothing yet. He'll figure it out someday.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sticking to it

As you can tell from my Memorial post and my Disney trip post, I haven't stuck by my "go vegetarian" project very well. I haven't been sticking with it as I claimed I would. We haven't fallen completely off the wagon of course. I'm not eating meat with every meal or gorging on chicken wings and burgers every other day. Our main focus is still vegetables, beans and grains. A day here or there is better than every day, every meal. We'll get to a balance while taking it day by day.

What have I been sticking with? It's been about three months since I joined Jazzercise. I'm still loving it and I try to attend as many classes as my schedule allows which is about four days a week. I would go more often, but they don't have any classes on Sunday, no evening classes on Friday and Thursdays are usually up in the air. Four days is better than no days.

I also have my new interest of pursuing more running time. I figure I can run on the days I don't go to Jazzercise. Only problem is the only time slot I have for running is very early in the morning around 4:00am. Unless I would rather experience cardiac arrest and try and run after work in the 98 degree heat. For Sunday I want to rest and have at least one day out of the week to sleep in.

So that would be four days Jazzercise, two days running. Six days is better than no days.
To make it easier on myself. I am taking it day by day. That's the best way, that is the mindset that works for me. Depending on how my day went, I may not be able to drag my ass out of bed at four o'clock in the bloody morning. If I don't manage it, instead of beating myself up about it, I try again for the next time.

That feeling of defeat can end your journey to better health. I can't let any set backs bring me down. I must keep moving forward. Since time is not in my favor, even when I try and make the time, I have to do the best I can every day.

My health has become this certain focal point with me. Instead of just blogging about it, researching health topics and cooking, I am also doing. Physically moving. It feels good to move. It also feels good to know I am doing everything I can to stay around as long as I can for my children. They need me here, healthy and well.
Off topic. Look who's sporting the post nap hair and stare. If looks could kill right?

Memorial Day dins

Mom and dad came over for Memorial Day and we enjoyed some pool time and grilling. Dad brought over some shrimp and lobster and I made the veggies. I hadn't enjoyed lobster in so long I couldn't wait to enjoy it again.
This French lentil salad is very easy to make. It was a different spin on an earlier version I made. I just used different vegetables. This salad is French lentils boiled until tender, drained and cooled mixed with 1 chopped onion, 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes, chopped black olives, 1 tablespoon capers, 1 handful chopped parsley, 1 can cannellini beans, 1 red bell pepper chopped, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, pepper, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar. The longer it sits, the better it is!

Dad's curry rubbed grilled shrimp skewers. They were delish!
I put together some easy vegetable skewers to go with the grilled seafood. I could live on grilled kabobs.

Dad made some light and crispy shrimp tempora for the kids. Those were addictive.

We can't forget the lobster. Oh man! Dad rubbed them with some olive oil emulsified with garlic. They were so creamy and sweet.

Thank you mom and dad for bringing the awesome grub over that day. I really had forgotten how tasty those sea bugs could be. We were only missing the steel drums, rum and the ocean.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lovely visit with a friend

I recently visited my dear friend Janet and her family. She moved to a wonderful city not far from Disney called Winter Park. About a two hour drive from my place.

I had a wonderful time and it was way past due for a visit. I spent the night after work on a Friday and on Saturday morning I joined her for her morning run. We left her home before dawn and arrived at a beautifully lit park on a lake. I actually ran 3 miles! I could not believe it! Me? Run? No way! A year ago today.... no way.

Janet runs almost every day and is in wonderful shape. You go mama! I felt so happy to have been able to run with her for a bit. I know she slowed down for me and didn't do her normal length, but I was so happy to share that experience with her. It was an experience. I really enjoyed it and got this sense of euphoria. Not just in completing something you set out to do, but knowing that every step you take is another step to better health (and weight!).

After our run, we headed downtown. The downtown shopping area was just wonderful. It reminded me of Saratoga Springs, New York with hints of Montreal. There were spice and tea shops, wine bars and shops, cheese shops, a chocolatier, vintage candy shop, French pastries, art shops, various clothing stores and many European style cafes with outside tables.

I fell in love with the place. I was sure I had left the state of Florida. Why do I live where I live again? Good question. One day we may actually move to a town or state that holds items of our interests where we don't have to drive for miles and miles for any enjoyment.
The streets had lovely shops and then mini walk ways hidden inside with even more little shops and cafes.

They have a farmer's market every Saturday. EVERY Saturday! This place was booming with people, dogs (people seem to love their dogs here and bring them out with them) and many vendors selling items like produce, cheeses, pastries, breads, grass fed meats, flowers, plants, coffee, tea, jams, etc. It was like a market I've seen in Malta. Just awesome. I loved the energetic vibe and I also loved the selection! I left there with some yummy and beautiful produce.

I knew better than to taste any cheese....that would have been the end of my funds for sure.

Quick view of one of the street corners. The shop on the left with the green awning was a spice shop. Nothing but spices!
Before we left, Janet brought me to a lovely vegan restaurant called Ethos. The atmosphere was very laid back and cool and they had a menu with a wide range of goodies. They also had some great micro brew beers available. I had sweet tea....it was way to hot out. I also ordered this delicious black bean burger. It was huge! I ate as much as I could and took the rest home. Chris ended up enjoying the rest of it.

I have since made time to run at home three times on my own. I downloaded a 40 minute 1 to 1 ratio program (walk 1 minute, run 1 minute for approx 3 miles) for my ipod. During the week is a challenge as the only time I have available is at 4:00 am! It's harder to get out of bed than the running itself.

Thank you again Janet for a wonderful time and thank you for introducing running to me. I can't wait to return to see you and your lovely family.