Monday, March 17, 2014

E.A.T.T. On the Roads: Why You Should Runcation in the Bay Area

My Mac's SD card reader has a tiny pebble jammed inside of it! Alas, I cannot transfer my high-res images of food onto the computer just yet. What's a food blog without high-res pictures of food? Not E.A.T.T., that's for sure.

In the meantime, here is something else I am in love with.

See Reason #1 in my list below.

Friends, I have a confession to make. As much as "stylish exercise" makes me cringe (more on that later), there is maybe one health/fitness plan I would be willing to posterchild for. Like, write the brochure, make catchy commercials, print T-shirts for...and that's resolving to runcation in the Bay Area. I'm slapping a big fat E.A.T.T. copyright on that previous sentence because I'm convinced it could be the next big thing. 

Here is my rudimentary sales pitch:

Love to run but hate black ice? Think you might be the next Usain Bolt but haven't been motivated to train? Do you like food and the beach a lot more than you like treadmills?


A few quick reasons why, last night, I had to physically bar myself from doing yet another casual-turned-long run by packing away my shoes and putting on jeans:

Or why, on a more serious note, the Bay Area can help you learn self-love.

1) It's gasp-out-loud beautiful. One of the primary reasons I've decided to delay or entirely overturn a decision to move out here, despite my obvious infatuation with San Francisco: I'm quite honestly afraid I would get used to its beauty. I don't ever want to be the 9-5 (or 6, 7, 8) zombie who shuffles from her office to the BART train too exhausted or mind crawling with to-dos to appreciate--no, really revel--the fact that she gets to live in a place that shuts up and robs the oxygen from visitors who summit the Twin Peaks and catch glimpse of the city on a fog-less day. This city, the Pacific Ocean, the houses on precarious hills and the way it's all folded neatly into a 7x7 mile square waiting to be traversed on really takes your breath away. 

The gradual uphill in the second mile of the Across the Bay 12k from East Fort Baker to Fisherman's Wharf.

It also gets hard to breathe because these hills are no joke. But then you crest a hill and suddenly you're flying. There is no weight, no drag, no hesitation.* 

Except if you're ascending Mount Sutro. In that case, you might have to walk. 

*You can dramatically pinwheel your arms as I like to do but keep your hips directly under you. Be kind to your knees! You only get two of them. Here is a helpful article on how to run downhill. 

2) You get to chase things worth chasing. And you can run away from them, too. Geographically speaking, San Francisco is a thumbs up in water.

Thumbs up if you love SF!! I do. I also love Marin, north of SF, which is where I am now. I also think I will love Oakland. I better love Oakland in the East Bay, because I have to endure 13.1 miles of it. 

According to my map, the body of water to its left is the Gulf of Farallones. What? Much more romantic to call it the Pacific Ocean. I can't figure out how to overlay a map scale on that, but you can definitely get from the tree-sign "Golden Gate Park" up to North Beach in an hour at a jogging pace. Along the way, you will pass through a rose garden (yes, worth chasing), naked people in the Castro (probably not worth chasing), and, if you're lucky, short lines at Chinatown bakeries (definitely worth chasing). You can route yourself south a ways through the Mission, where the street murals and even the buildings themselves will blow your mind. 

The Women's Building in the Mission before it got tarp-ed up for a renovation.

The thing is, San Francisco is small. For me, it's like getting eighteen places for the price of one. One minute you're heaving up a hill whose grade you didn't think would allow for residences to be safely constructed on it...and then: ocean.

On easy run days, I would leave my apartment with a singular goal: chase the ocean. If I timed it just right, I could edit that goal for the route back to "chase the sunset." In line with reason #1, the ample availability of these two things always worth chasing make running in the Bay easier, more satisfying, and more memorable than anywhere else. If you make it out here, don't miss out on the opportunity to run across the Golden Gate Bridge. I won't give you the full details on how to get there. It's pretty hard to miss.

I will, however, remind you that for everything worth chasing in San Francisco, there is one HUGE thing you can always run AWAY from. Again, if you time it just right, you'll find yourself on the Golden Gate Bridge between 4 and 6pm, ideally on the West Sidewalk where the drop view across the ocean is especially magnificent and where the sun's setting will offset the infamous drop in temperatures around that time. On the bridge, cars will be at a rush hour standstill. Drivers will be irate. And you will be flying past them. 

Always run away from traffic. Never hesitate to feel awesome for moving your legs and saving the planet from its fossil-fuel depletion and human destruction. 
Chased the setting sun and ended up here. Why can't they all end like this?

3) You are the norm, not the exception. Some people love to run long distances because it makes them feel "bad ass." Some people thrive on the awe their exceptional feats of endurance invokes in others. I am not one of those people. I definitely was a few years ago, when I first started marathon training and knew in my ever-hungrier gut that it did look pretty cool on paper. But then I moved out here and proudly set an alarm for 5am, tucked my mid-run gummy bears into a jacket pocket before bed, and happily fell asleep knowing I would be able to check a BIG thing off my list before much of the rest of the city had woken up.

Boy was I wrong. That morning, the one I'd carefully selected to kick off a series of weekly long runs in the city, I felt for the first time what it was like to silently and inconspicuously overlap rituals with hundreds of my now role models. I now know that I prefer to live and run among people who have a different conception of what's at stake when it comes to running. For the majority of early-morning, after-work, and even late-evening runners in the Bay Area, what's at stake doesn't seem to be their hot bods or drive to be exceptional in any way. All you have to do is study a few of their gaits, their facial expressions, and their propensity to travel in pairs--couples, old friends, father and daughter--to be convinced that they run for their hearts, for a mental break in their days, and for one another. 

Women of all sizes pausing to cup a hand over wrists, check the time, and double-back on their paths, presumably to make it home to their jobs and their children on time. The man in his seventies with a back so bowed one might mistake him for a pedestrian reaching for something on the sidewalk and stuck in the pose, but running shirtless, his protruding vertebrae glinting with a sheen of morning sweat and a determined grimace I hope one day to master. The grimace of someone untouched by pain, age, and mental exertion. 

We ran at the same hour on three separate occasions, and the last time I saw him, he was wearing a pale yellow Ralph Lauren polo--the kind you would expect a dad to sport in Cape Cod--stained with what looked like car grease and ketchup, a faded Miami Dolphins visor, and a garish pair of poinsettia-red knee socks. A veritable rainbow of a man pummeling through crosswalks at a thankfully traffic-free hour. 

I caught up with him, just enough to make out the details of his outfit, and noticed his pace had slowed significantly. I got excited then, thinking I would finally get to strike up a conversation or make some flippant comment about the beautiful morning.

Instead, he reached inside his red sock and yanked out a vibrating flip phone and put it up his visor-ed head.

"Call me back later," he said firmly. "I'm on a run."

He took off. I never saw him again.

Another perk of running being such a norm here: dogs are used to it. On most beaches and trails, owners are allowed to have their dogs on "voice control," which basically means you get to play with dogs whenever you need a break. This friendly man even lent me and a friend his huskies for half an hour when it became evident that we were obsessed with them, and that they desperately wanted the exercise. We promised to run back with them, and it was chill. 
4) You will be humbled. People like poinsettia-sock-man are definitely noteworthy, but people who kick your ass who you would have never expected could kick your ass are not. Noteworthy that is. They are everywhere. That tiny Asian woman who you could have sworn served you shrimp dumplings at lunch? Leaving you in her dim-sum-dust. The sprightly woman in lavender who just solidly overtook you with her jogging stroller? Yeah, SHE HAD THAT BABY. 

Seeing so many runners diligently practicing self-care humbles me in a multitude of ways, some which are difficult to articulate. I am humbled knowing these women, on whom so many small people depend, might never "have it all" but look as if they do as they zip through Chrissy Field. I am humbled when I see a sweaty runner board the public bus with me at the marina and discreetly don his food service work uniform in the back. I am incredibly humbled when I see entire families of four or five running together in Golden Gate Park on Saturday morning, because I grew up thinking quality "family time" was forever scarce or costly, and frequently cumbersome. 

5) You will learn to be self-congratulatory again. 

I promise this doesn't contradict the previous reason. This is perhaps a more personal motivation, but running in any new place guarantees the very concept of newness. You get to break in a new route. You get to reach a worthy destination you might have only seen in pictures. And you do it all. by. yourself.

In San Francisco, because seemingly everyone runs or jogs (more "serious" runners are adamant about this dichotomy between runners and joggers, but whatever, good for both groups I say) and there's a foot race somewhere in the Bay Area every weekend, you learn very quickly how to pat yourself on the back after conquering a hilly route or making it all the way to the ocean.

And this back-patting might not seem like a big deal to some of you, but I moved here after a draining and self-defeating year at Yale, where you can always do more, work harder, stay up later, and eat less. It was a combination of the competitive atmosphere, my perfectionism, and my shitty attitude about things that finally broke me, but sweating out my self-doubt slowly revived the Cathy who could be satisfied with herself. Be OK with where she was in life. Be proud of herself.

That's huge. People spend their savings on counseling, life coaches, self-help books, and a whole plethora of satisfaction-seeking tools that I know are useful and at times life-saving. But those tools failed me. And I'm going to call out runners here: if race fees are so ridiculous, why do we continue to race for validation? If I could afford to run races that cost upwards of $100 to collect "swag" and clock an official personal record, I would. But when I took my leave of absence and moved to San Francisco, I definitely did NOT have those options. 

My Timex watch and I got by just fine. After acknowledging that my hardest race was the one against my insecurities and self-doubt, I was all the more motivated. Still in the thick of that one. Check back later.

6) You will be hungry. Do I even need to elaborate?

Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for tips on where to stay, the best running routes, and...of course, the food I'm eating for sustenance while here. I promise the food posts are coming once I get the PICTURES on my computer. Today!

Happy bellies and happy running,



Think I've got it wrong? Where would you rather run? TELL ME.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


I’M IN SAN FRANCISCO. I rounded out a 4-month experiment in adulthood here last year, and my body and brain have been craving its hills, vistas, and good eats. You know that gaze people who are really in love give one another? The one you can’t describe but that you just know is IT when you see someone lay it on their lucky love on the train?

According to my boyfriend**, I’ve perfected that gaze…it burns in the direction of San Francisco when I inevitably gush about it. About once every few days.

And now I’m knee deep in this reunion and far too infatuated to articulate anything readable about my time in the Bay just yet, so let’s give it another day.

In the meantime, I’m leaving you with a post about in transit yesterday and my quest to EAT ALL THE DUMPLINGS.

 **For the sake of protecting loved ones in our time of cyber terrorism and fraud, To keep things fun, we will refer to my boyfriend from here on out as The Boy Across the Table, or B.A.T.T., or....Batman! Batman. Batman has been sampling my recipes for years, and is too nice to ever tell me they suck. For that, he gets a shout-out. 

Batman and dumplings. Swoooooon.

E.A.T.T. On the Roads: 3 Meals and a Workout for $26

Or, alternatively: “How To Not Feel Gross When Eating On the Road”

E.A.T.T. On the Roads chronicles my successes and failures at cooking and eating on a budget around the United States and, provided I stay diligent about “Lower food budget today, refundanble tickets to Chiang Mai tomorrow!” this section will feature some global

Humanity rubs itself raw in airports. Especially at LGA, the evil stepsister of what I consider a much more transit-friendly JFK airport. Every time I make LGA my hub for some $25 price differential, I usually regret it.

Meteorologists suddenly spot severe weather conditions. Everyone is hangry past security, where the only food options are Dunkin Donuts and plastic-wrapped “Italian” (read: mostly bread) sandwiches. This endemic hanger drives people to further erode all social appropriateness. They huddle around the electronics charging hubs refusing to make eye contact. They cut off unsuspecting travelers in wheelchairs when their zone is called, as if stepping in the aircraft before everyone else and hiding below an overhead bin wins them a prize.

I’m so lucky to be able to fly though, and I feel myself falling into the grass-is-greener trap right now as I end a long and full day of layovers and time in the air. Flying, specifically flying frequently, has granted me this opportunity to reclaim San Francisco, E.A.T.T. in the Bay Area, and run in the Oakland RunningFestival. Cashing in on my miles restricted me airlines-wise, hence the cavernous NINE hours between my landing in LGA and departure out West.

But despite the average nasty experience at LGA, my longest-ever layover today ended up being a blast! I’m hammering this post out en route to California, but my previous LGA-Denver leg found me chatting for 2 hours with a really effusive man who knows way more about food than I do. He’s a salesman, a successful one apparently, so he’s eaten at some of the nicest restaurants around the world on his business trips. But even with the disparity in our budgets, we agreed on some common mistakes we as travelers make when it comes to long days on the road.

In the self-examining spirit of E.A.T.T., I explore some of these mistakes below and ways to overcome them for minimal discomfort and maximum yumminess in transit! Interspersed are some images and anecdotes from my loooooong day in transit.

Mistake #1: Wasting vacation money on airport and/or rest stop food.

Solution: Brown bag it. I’ve challenged myself to stay under $40/day, including lodging, ground transportation, and 3 meals, during this trip, but am willing to let saved dollars one day “roll over.” I definitely didn’t want to sabotage the budget before even getting to SF, but here’s the tricky thing: I am always so much hungrier in transit. I don’t know what it is…maybe wanting to eat out of anxiety or boredom, maybe passing one too many fast food stands on the way to my gate…before you know it, I’m holding a Cinnabon and seriously contemplating Panda Express. And Panda Express has never not given me horrifying heartburn. 

Yesterday, I cleared a little extra space in my carry-on for bagels, bananas, peanut butter, and honey. I made three of every runner’s favorite sandwich (sans nutella this time, ran out of space) over the course of the day. Transit hunger is so real.

I also pack at least 5 bags of my favorite oatmeal: Nature’s Path Flax Plus. This stuff is so dense, filling, and versatile. I’ve added chocolate chips, trail mix and chia seeds (above), and savory spices for another sort of meal. The secret is to ask a coffee counter for a cup of their hottest water, the kind they use for tea, and make your oatmeal directly in the cup.

Mistake #2: Wasting money on bad-tasting and bad-for-you food.

Sometimes you just really don’t have space or time to pack food. Or you did and ate it all, like I did.

Solution: PLAN AHEAD. If you’re flying into a new place/region or have a long layover (3+ hours), consider making good food your intermediate destination. I faced a monster layover in Queens on account of my forced loyalty to Frontier Airlines, but thanks to the new Q70 bus route, I was thick in the middle of NYC subway lines within 15 minutes, and for $2.50!

You don’t have to be an actual Yelp addict like me to take advantage of its crowdsourced wisdom. Just use the app to find any kind of food near your “Current Location,” and look for any place that has the single $ and 4+ star rating.  The app will conveniently tell you how close you are to those popular options, and integrates seamlessly with iOS map applications so your little blue dot (that’s you) finds its way.

Yesterday, I was on a quest. This 2-week vacation might as well be called Dumpling Quest, or DQ for short. I’m determined to try at least 10 of the different types of dumplings on thislist.


Word, Robyn. I too have eaten SO MANY DUMPLINGS, but have shown favoritism towards the Chinese variety. The demographics of Queens and San Francisco yield a ton of interesting cross-sections and sociological questions, but I won’t bore you with my long rants about displacement, segregation, and cultural diffusion.

Instead, let’s talk about dumplings, and how I ate 8 divine, spicy-beef-filled ones at Phayul, the most an-actual-hole-in-the-wall of all the hole-in-the-walls I’ve eaten at. I had bookmarked Phayul weeks ago when planning eats for my layover. Tough choice though, since Queens is a wonderland of ethnic lunch options. I went with Phayul for the cost and proximity to the bus stop, in case my meal ran long and I needed to book it back to LGA.

Momos are Tibetan/Nepali dumplings with thick rice-based skins and savory, often spicy, filling. The skins are chewier than those on their Chinese counterparts. 

I forgot to take a picture of the entrance to this tiny place, which was literally a passageway (the width of my hiking pack, thank goodness) up a dank staircase. Someone else on Yelp documented the interesting mix of business occupying this unit in Jackson Heights.

Had I more time and money, I would've indulged at the Himalayan Salon. What makes a salon Himalayan? Mystery. 

The tables and chairs for patrons compete for space with the kitchen, where these two adorable cooks were kneading dough, concocting mind-blowing spice combinations, and tenderizing meat.

Don't you just want to hug them  both??

And since I was trying to stick to my budget, I opted for just trying the momos (only $5!!) but immediately regretted that decision when I saw what the couple next to me—okay, practically pressed against me—ordered.
So. jealous.

Jealousy doesn’t leave my system easily, so I’m just going to have to track down these dishes in the Bay Area and report back on their names and prep methods before making plans to recreate them for you J.  After my delicious stop at Phayul, I wandered around Jackson Heights and Woodside for a few hours, reveling in the scents and foreign scripts, and wondering why I felt most at home in the New York City neighborhoods where spoken English is the exception. Oh, and I picked up some taro buns at an Asian bakery, but I ate those so fast I didn’t get a picture.

If you don’t have quite enough time to leave and re-enter security during your layover, google your airport. FlyerTalk and other popular forums are populated with foodies determined to get in a good meal at the airport. Some airports are even known for their food. Denver had a Wolfgang Puck! I’m SO looking forward to getting to the San Francisco airport early and picking out some locally farmed cheeses at Cowgirl Creamery to take back to friends as souvenirs. SFO is pretty unbeatable when it comes to non-chain, destination-worthy options.

Mistake #3: Asking for adventure before its time.

Don’t order that really exotic thing if you don’t know how your body will react to it. My stomach can handle most things, except anything described as “creamy.” That Asian lactose intolerance.  I wanted so badly to get the Tibetan butter tea yesterday, after reading a lot of Yelp reviews raving about its unique, salty, but satisfying and filling properties. Fearing gastrointestinal distress on the flight, I resisted. My stomach has never protested an onslaught of dumplings though. Healthy prognosis for the remainder of Dumpling Quest.

Solution: Again, brown bag it. Or go conservative now so you can go big later.

I AM getting butter tea in SF. There are a lot of cheap and highly rated Nepali options in the East Bay, and doesn’t butter and salt in hot water just sound like an ideal race recovery drink? Okay, that or beer at one of the famous Oakland breweries. We’ll see.

Mistake #4: Not doing something “routine” and re-energizing.

I’m a creature of habit. Hanger + an entire day of non-routine things=disaster.

Solution: Fit it in. Feel ready to go once you’ve finally reached your destination.

For some of you, this might mean saving the latest episode of a TV show for the trip, so you can watch it during a spell of fatigue or crankiness en route. Others might find it helpful to pre-load some news or longform articles on their laptops to read in flight. It’s remarkable how alien a few hours without WiFi can feel in our too-connected world.

For me, I knew I wouldn’t have time before leaving Ohio and after arriving in California to do my training run. So I called ahead to 3 gyms in Queens and compared their drop-in rates. Two didn’t offer them for non-local residents, so Phyzique (much less exciting than it sounds, standard cardio and weight machines) it was! $12 is a small price to pay for my sanity and staying on track for my race in Oakland next weekend.

8 miles and lots of sweat later, I was re-energized and ready to brave LGA security. Getting out some excess energy also allowed me to sleep on the 4 hour flight to Denver, which ensured adequate energy levels today and arguably granted me another half-day of San Francisco adventures.

Numbers for the day:

Bus to/from LGA into Queens: 2 x $2.50
Lunch at Phayul; $6.00
Gym day pass: $12.00
Taro buns: $1.50
Cup of coffee in Denver as I hit my EST-time bedtime: $1.50

Total: $26.00

Thanks for reading!
Happy bellies,


How do you stay sane and well-fed in transit?

How many types of dumplings have you tried? What is your favorite kind?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Inaugural Recipe and the Smells of Home: Chinese Tea Eggs

Good morning! I'm excited to share the very first E.A.T.T. recipe with you all. It predictably breaks some of the rules I put forth in my introductory post about what this blog will entail. It doesn't employ your pantry staples unfortunately, but I'm confident you can find an Asian grocer a short drive away and get these delicious and nutritious snacks going before lunchtime!

It also requires precision. You don't want to under-boil these eggs and get a scalding surprise when you try to crack them for the pretty patterns.

Without further ado...

Chinese Tea Eggs - Cathy Makes Food That Her Mom Makes

I'm headlining this recipe for three main reasons:

1) Apparently in Taiwan, where 7-Elevens abound and feed many a snack-happy pedestrian, tea egg sales top 40 million per year [1]. That's INSANE. Did you know there were even that many eggs in the world? I didn't, but it's good news. It means I can hoard eggs and not feel too bad about it. (Side note that should probably make it to the "Me! Me! Me!" page: I LOVE eggs. I eat 5-6 a day. 2 at breakfast and 3 more poached, fried, or hardboiled and added to entrees...I was recently affirmed in my habits and can assure you that it's OK to eat this many eggs a day.) Anyway, so tea eggs are popular in Asia and will soon catch on here; I just know it. Consider this your special access pass, hipsters.

From that linked article on why eggs should figure prominently in your diet!

2) I grew up with these. When my family immigrated to Ohio fourteen years ago (wow!), we struggled with the American diet. I remember vividly one morning when my mom, whose fledgling English hardly challenged her chops in the kitchen, pulled a container from her bag of groceries and we sounded out the words together: "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter." We didn't know whether to believe it was butter, or not butter, or whether suspending disbelief was an American thing to do and gosh it was just some thing we felt culturally obligated to buy to spread on the white bread we didn't find particularly palatable either. So we gave up on the butter-or-not project and made a pot of these instead. The anise scent and gorgeous surface web designs comforted us that morning, and they still comfort me to this day. Through my teenage rebellion and self-initiated, regrettable desire to be "less Chinese," I would still sneak these into my lunches. When I hold one now, I'm reminded of home, of a return to intuitions, and that always fills me up.

3) These will fill you up and make you smarter. OK fine, verdict's out on the latter, but that's what my mom has always told me and I like my brains. They do useful things for me. I did a cross-search for these and turned up another blog that had featured them as a "low carb" snack option. Another hit was, delightfully, a bodybuilding forum! Eat tea eggs...get big. In summary, these are really good for you and I plan to make a big pot before hammering out four research papers later this term.

Ok! Now that I've convinced you to at least give eggs another chance, let me detail what it takes to bring eggs to a whole new level. Tea-egg-making is as fun as Easter, as easy as boiling pasta, and as accidentally and unexpectedly beautiful as Nathan Adrian

You will need: a carton of eggs, salt, loose-leaf tea, star anise, tinfoil (optional), timer

Add 10-12 eggs to a medium, deep pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. 

15% of my diet right there

Also can we acknowledge how epic protein denaturation is?? Taking something that's gloopy and making it DELICIOUS with just HEAT?

Here's where you might need to do a quick grocery run. You shouldn't have to cross more than one Chinatown block to find this, though. 

Star anise is a common ingredient in East Asian dishes, and is even a component of garam masala! Its scientific name is illicium verum, which I will use going forward because it makes this entire process sound illicit [2]. OOoOooO. My kinda Breaking Bad. 

Feel free to pull this up on your phone and show the grocer. I can't read that, either. 

Add a palmful of star anise pieces to a plop of loose-leaf tea. A plop, in case you were wondering, is an amount somewhere between a tablespoon and a ladle-full. Trust me, the plop unit will never fail you. This is optional: Loosely ball the anise and tea leaves into tinfoil, so that the whole unit can slowly collapse into boiling water. This helps concentrate the flavoring and acts as a diffuser of sorts in the pot. 

Now comes the fun part. Turn off the stove, lift the eggs from the water into a separate bowl, and submerge in cold water in preparation for...cracking them! Have at it. Really break those shells, but leave them on the egg!! The more finely cracked they are, the prettier your final patterns will be, and the more flavorful the eggs will be.

Return cracked eggs to the same pot with the plop of anise+tea. Add a handful of salt to the pot. 

Bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off stove and let eggs steep for one hour or, ideally, overnight.

Remove egg from its delicious spice bath. Study its unique crack-pattern. It's like the snowflake of the food world. No two tea eggs will ever look the same.


A few final words about tea eggs:

  • They will grow on you. At first, you may wonder what the big deal is. The tea bath makes the traditional hard-boiled egg saltier and with a definite fragrance, but beyond that, its effects are subtle. But really savor the egg and consider how the flavor even altered the texture of the yolk. That's some serious infusion.
  • Try them warm and cold, whole and piecemeal. Vendors in Asia sell these cold the day after they make them, but I prefer them a little warm. Chopping one up into a salad also eliminates the need for dressing!
  • Once you're addicted, step away from the pot. Transfer the eggs in their bath to a separate container. No need to refrigerate unless you think they will last more than 2 days. In our house, they never do.

Casually beautiful

Thanks for reading! 
Happy Bellies, 


What are some of your favorite homemade snacks? 

How do you take your eggs?


Monday, March 10, 2014

Welcome to E.A.T.T.!

Hi friends! Welcome to my online test kitchen. Before we start cooking, I want to make a few things clear. I chalk it up to my exceptional, albeit vague, liberal arts education; I define things mostly by what they’re not. I’m also obsessed with graphic organizers. Here I employ both—non-definitions and visual order—to convey to you why food makes everything better.

For my graphic organizer, I've gone with the Microsoft PowerPoint "SmartArt" that I will probably never use in my career or personal shenanigans because it's just so strange, and I've filled it out obscurely as follows:

((What E.A.T.T. is))

And for verbal learners....

What “Eat All The Things/Cathy Makes Food” is NOT:

Orderly: I’ve just put my own foot in my mouth by starting with this one, but this blog is 95% my attempt to chronicle my forays into experimental and copycat cooking and 5% a diversion from schoolwork and real-person work. So don’t expect pristine sentence construction, a logical ordering of recipes or thoughts on said recipes (I can’t help it if the first bite radically altered how I can even begin to talk about the prep work…how do food bloggers do that? Upload DSLR shots of the bread pudding WITH A BITE OUT OF IT before nonchalantly starting: “On Tuesday, I found this yellowed slip of paper in my grandmother’s estate and it was a bread pudding recipe!”), or typeface that we all can agree on. Okay fine. Who here doesn’t like Georgia? Right? Moving on.

Developed/refined/”of age”:  I attempted my first cakes at the now woefully late age of 6, in Sweden mind you, where they didn’t carry Easy Bake ovens yet, and besides, Cathy Makes Food Beta knew all about cakes. It turns out you don’t need flour packed equivalent to the desired final cake volume, and baking powder and eggs help with, erm, edible-ness. Flour and water in a large tray at 400 degrees do not a cake make.  But a cooking date with friends recently revealed to me that Beta Me was well on her way to making Indian chapati ! The stuff they give you at Zaroka!! I just skipped a few steps is all.

Anyway, the point is: This is a blog about eating and living. I hope you will give me feedback on how to improve and simplify recipes. I hope you will laugh with me when I describe an Ultra Failure or Catastrophe in the Kitchen (U.F.C.K.), and I hope you will forgive me for posting a lot of “quick lunch” and “weekday dinner” recipes to start. I’m writing for where I’m at in life right now, which is contentedly at college without a lot of free time or money.

As my tastes, access to ingredients, and lifestyle evolves, I promise this blog will do the same.

Expensive:  Here. Let’s set a rule right now: if the thing I’m telling you to make and eat costs more than it would for someone else to make it and for you to buy it to eat it, then let me know and I will revise the ingredient or tools list. As a reference, I never exceed $40/week on my personal grocery bill and I’ve never had to say “no” to fresh meats, seafood, produce, organics, etc. Repeat after me: “Lower food budget today, refundable tickets to Chiang Mai tomorrow!”

Ethnocentric: You’ll catch me referencing some of my food blogger heroes, or trying to replicate one of their recipes. One blogger whose food philosophy I’ve always admired is Mark Wiens over at Migrationology. Food is a fixture and a passion across all cultures, and even if that Thailand trip never pans out, at least you bought the refundable tickets and until you get stamp in your passport and the life-changing trip, let me convince you life. is. too. short. to. wait. for. ALL the cuisines!!! Have those pronunciation guides ready, my friends. We’re all anthropologists here. With taste buds!

Restriction-condoning:  As a woman, avid reader of cookbooks and food blogs, and health-conscious individual, this is an unrelenting and cruel facet of my every day, and I could spend hours chronicling my observations and reactions to our restrictive and substitution-happy food culture.   But for now, this is what I have to say: eat for your health, strength, and happiness. Give your body the best and it will reciprocate. For every “unhealthy” thing, there are or will be another hundred.

That said, I welcome your thoughts about safe and effective substitutes in recipes. I’m all for avocados as butter. I’m all for avocados in everything!

Stress-inducing: Do you ever reach that point, usually around 1 am, when every list starts to look like your to-do list and you start to panic when you try to Buzzfeed for fun? No? I love lists and precise measurements and finishing things but I promise to not number the steps in my recipes in case you came here for a cookie dough recipe to savagely devour the night before a midterm. Hey, no judgment. Seriously. Furthermore, I don't really measure much when I cook (the "eyeball" technique from Mesopotamian times works just fine), so why would I pretend to suddenly know how many teaspoons of extract we need? Actually, I'll just come out and admit it: really intense food blogs stress me out!!! I can't possibly make something look that good!! There are too many ingredients!!!! AHHHH!

I will also feature recipes by my 10-year-old brother, Jayden! Here he is:

And here is his food philosophy:

Back to what E.A.T.T. is NOT:

W2SIJFP: This is acronym I will drop on you if you're being "Way 2 Serious It's Just Food People."

Just about food: 

I HAVE OTHER HOBBIES! And a really cute dog. And soon, I will have my very own classroom! 


Thanks for reading!

Happy bellies,