Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Trader Joe's Tuesday - Artichoke Madness

Trader Joe's is literally Artichoke Mecca now! So, here's a lovely Spring Dinner Party for Ye Who Loveth the Veggie that Choketh.

  • Hors d'Oeuvre -- Creamy Spinach & Artichoke Dip -- Serve with toasts or crackers or even a hollowed out round sourdough loaf!
  • First Course -- Baby Artichokes --- Rinse them. Cut them in half. Marinate them as long as you can -- even if just for 20 minutes -- in either a vinaigrette or even just olive oil with garlic salt. Then throw them on the grill until they are cooked through and charred a little on the edges. If you haven't put too much salt on them before cooking add a little course salt before you serve.
  • NON-GRILLING ALTERNATIVE or an additional dish to serve -- Steam up some large artichokes.. but check this out. I just came up with this. I took olive oil, added some garlic salt to it, whisked it together. Then I drizzled it over and into the artichoke....you don't have to put a lot on it because when you steam, it steeps into the entire artichoke. People use a lot less butter when they eat it too, because it has that rich olive oil flavor to it.
  • Main Course -- Artichoke Ravioli! Now, TJ's has many amazing sauces that will work with this pasta. They even have an Artichoke Antipasto which you can toss in with pasta with a little cheese...but what I like to do with this pasta is sautee up some chopped garlic in olive oil, add sliced mushrooms and cook until they are browned. Then I add a couple handfulls of fresh spinach, and a can of drained artichokes (not marinated) juice of 1/2 a lemon and sautee a little more, and toss with the drained cooked ravioli (which only takes a couple minutes to cook actually...so watch that you don't overcook!).

Isn't Spring grand? Yummy grand.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lazy Computer Crash-a-Go-Go

You didn't get a "Trader Joe's Tuesday" last week because my computer crashed....I got it back Friday and discovered that everything -- yes, every little thing that was related to my dad - his business that I am running from afar, his estate, his memorial -- is gone. The hard drive had bad sectors, and apparently the little sector that my dad's folder was sitting in went "poof." I had a 45 minute pity party, with heart palpitations and tears. I had never had the heart palpitations before! But, in those 45 minutes I heard him say over and over "You don't need it..." and "It's not important..."

My dad's memorial is this Saturday in Anchorage, Alaska. All my notes, the draft of the program, the RSVP list, etc. -- all of it is gone. I immediately started to freak about who I needed to reach out to, my to do list of people I needed to call or write. And, over and over again I hear him say "The right people know."

Last night, Aaron and I set to going through my dad's art, getting things together to send out to family members as little gifts from my dad. We found a few pieces by an artist Thor Brandt-Erickson. I have two pieces of his on my walls that my dad gave me. I thought, "Oh my gosh I don't think his wife knows about the memorial...." I didn't remember seeing her name on any list. I was so upset by all the lost info again, and, again, my dad replied "All the right people know..." And, I calmed down yet again!

Just a few minutes ago, a confirmation that all really is well and perfect came in via email. I received a letter from Thor's widow, Nancy. She had seen the announcement in yesterday's paper. She can't come to the memorial because her grandson is graduating from high school, but she sent a beautiful letter I will have Aaron read at the memorial.

I was literally freaking out that she didn't know about the memorial, and she got the word. She was lead to the paper on the perfect day. And, to add a special nod of confirmation that everything is perfect, she noted that her husband Thor had died on May 22, 2008 --- exactly two years to the day of the Memorial this Saturday.

It's all perfect. Sometimes the perfection is hard to see through the trees and tears, but it's all perfect.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Trader Joe’s Tuesday - Spring into Fresh Fruitiness

[Hey all...I'm on the road this week and the hotel last night lost its internet connection for some bizarre reason, so I wrote this on Trader Joe's Tuesday but am just now able to post it...sorry for the delay!]

The healthiest I ever feel is when I am doing proper food combining. If you don’t know what food combining is, google it and you’ll learn a lot, I’m sure. I started food combining in the mid-80’s and my digestion is ALWAYS flawless when I do it.

One of the places I cheat is mixing bread and cheese, which is a big no-no because our bodies have a hard time digesting complex carbs and protein all at once.

But, one of the places I have remained mostly faithful throughout the years is eating fruit on an empty stomach and waiting at least 30 minutes after eating the fruit before I eat any non-fruit items.

I’ll tell you, if you are having digestive issues of any kind, even just starting your day out with fresh fruit will I think really make you feel better. I always use the analogy that it’s like eating scrubbing bubbles when you get up…scrubbing bubbles that work through your digestion, clean you out and freshen you up.

Trader Joe’s makes this super easy no matter what your budget. If you can spare some extra change, and you are trying to save time in the morning, you can get pre-cut pineapple and melons, throw in some lovely berries and you are set for a most exquisite Spring breakfast.

The less expensive alternative is cutting up your own pineapple and melons. Of course, with the berries, all you have to do is wash them off (actually one tip is to turn the plastic box over and make sure there are no moldy berries in the mix)!

Lazy Tips on Choosing Pineapple and Melons:
• Pineapple – the less green the better, but the true “tell” on a pineapple is how it smells – just one whiff and you’ll smell if it’s ripe (great pineapple smell), overripe (overly sweet, almost sour), un-ripe (not a lot of smell at all).
• Honeydew/Cantaloupe – Press the bottom center of the melon and if it pushes in, it’s ripe. Once you start doing this you’ll get the hang of it. Some have no give at all – they are un-ripe. Some are way too mushy – can be overripe.
• Watermelon – Hold in one hand if you can and slap with the other…does it sound hollow? Again, with practice, you’ll get better at this. You’ll start hearing what “hollow” even sounds like in a watermelon!

And, then the cheapest Springy Fruit Breakfast will come in the frozen food section. Trader Joe’s has a WONDERFUL selection of frozen fruits – mixed berries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, pineapple, mango, papaya, etc. You can either prepare your bowl the night before and cover in the fridge so it’s thawed by morning OR you can throw it all in a blender with a little water or juice and make a smoothie.

If you want to throw the food combining caution to the wind, you can definitely add yogurt. Trader Joe’s has a bijillion varieties!

Bon Appetit!