Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dinner & A Movie: Documentary and Comedy Stir Fry

Tonight, Kat and myself decided to do the Skype date thing and try a new veggie friendly recipe. I knew it was only a matter of time with trying the vegetarian thing out before a 'stir-fry' dish would appear and that would be tonight's cuisine. This was a Vegetable Lover's Fried Rice from one of my favorite recipe sites, Actually the recipe wasn't fried rice at all, but more like a fried vegetables and egg with rice added later... anyway, I digress!

Boo's Spicy Vegetable Lover's 'Not So' Fried Rice

I have never been one for creating tasty dishes when it comes to stir-fry. In fact, I got a wok kit for Christmas one year, only using it a few times, and I remember nothing good ever came from it! However, this dish was fairly simple and very satisfying... And there was plenty left over for later in the week. I will add that I cheated with frozen vegetables and took the liberty of adding some curry powder and crushed red pepper for spiciness because it was a bit bland at first. Considering this is a basic dish and very easy on the wallet, I think I will be cooking this again.

This week Kat and I watched two shorter films instead of the longer ones we have been seeing. The first, Independent Lens: Between the Folds, explores the art of origami from its origins to the modern concepts of engineering, health, and postmodernity. It was a fascinating movie which helped kill time while the rice cooled. After we cooked the dish, we sat down to enjoy our meal to the comedy of Zach Galifianakis: Live. This movie was a bit awkward, but funny nonetheless... I have become accustomed to humor like this, in part, because it reminds me of lots of my friends, but I guess you have to like the stuff or live it to enjoy that kind of awkwardness!
I am beginning to think that this dinner and a movie trend will continue with delicious results...

I on the other hand, don't think I'll be making this dish again. For some reason, me and frying doesn't work sometimes. I was really wanting some Chinese food last night, so Boo found this recipe to cook tonight, thinking it was going to satisfy my craving...

Chinese is one of those genre of foods that is best left to professionals

I ended up overcooking my rice because I left the boil on high too long. So my dish ended up being almost a rice mush, and trying to fry it didn't fix it. It turned out edible, not bad tasting, but not exactly flavorful. I think it will take a lot of practice and modifying for this dish. Or maybe I'll just leave the frying to Boo, and I'll stick with the baking.

I really enjoyed the movie about Origami; especially where the technicalities of the art is going. You would never think the practice of origami is ending up in space technology (unfolding satellites in space), medicine (finding cures of diseases), and even in teaching students geometry. It was eye-opening!

Kat's Bland Chinese Vegetable & Rice Mess

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Sunday boating on Lake Waubesa

Today, I was able to spend a great day hanging out with fellow Water Resource Management (WRM) students at the Four Lakes Yacht Club and go boating on Lake Waubesa. This lake is connected to the more known Lake Mendota and Lake Monona which are on either side of central Madison. It was my first boat outing on any of the lakes and the weather was gorgeous!

The WRMs Enjoying the Club house and a Potluck

We started the day by grilling at the club house and bringing dishes to pass around. I stayed true to the vegetarian thing even though those brats smelled delicious. As it turns out the veggie burgers and the three bean salad I brought were of the few vegetarian choices there. In all the meal was very fulfilling and was complimented by some vodka lemonade I also brought and some extra sweet brownies cooked by another WRM student.

Stopping at Christie's Landing to enjoy some music

Once we made it out on the lake, it was amazing. Several boats were out and the weather was perfect for a little jaunt around the lake. We started things off by just cruising around the lake and listening to music and drinking a bit. I enjoyed a vodka cocktail whipped up by Joe consisting of 2 parts vodka, 1 part lemonade, and 1 part club soda. It was fantastic, and went with the spirit of the event and weather. We eventually ended up at Christie's Landing, a bar on the lake with an attached dock, to listen to music and enjoy the atmosphere. The tunes were a nice compliment to the day's events and enticing, but we didn't stay too long.

Swimming in the middle of Lake Waubesa

As the band broke for a few minutes, we took the opportunity to slip out to open water for some swimming. The water was a bit murky and cold, but it was a nice retreat from the warm weather Madison has been having recently. After a few short swims and listening to some great jams courtesy of our captain and DJ, Joe, we packed things up and headed back to the boat house.

Joe, our trusty boat captain, drink mixer, and DJ, at the helm with drink in hand.

On top of getting to enjoy the great weather on the lake, hang out with friends, and learn about a new mixed drink, I was privileged enough to meet one of Joe's friends and fellow guitarist, Chris Bocast. He is an ambient guitarist who writes and produces music and he is also studying music for his PhD at UW. Before we ate, I had the opportunity to play some guitar with him; albeit, we had to trade my guitar back and forth to play. He was very talented. The most fulfilling part was getting to share with him my experience with guitars and interest in music. He spoke of getting a PRS SE Singlecut guitar similar to the one I have, and I encouraged him to do so, as I love mine. I am planning on getting a few of his albums and possibly trying to talk to him into jamming a bit... We will see what happens! All in all, it was an amazing day...

Dinner & Movie: tomato tart & a thriller

Even though 500 miles separate Boo & I, it doesn't keep us from still having date nights. Boo recently had an idea to have date nights. We decide on something to cook for dinner or to bake for dessert, and watch a movie simultaneously on Netflix while sitting with each other in Skype.

Tonight we picked Tomato Tart, a recipe via David Lebovitz, and it looks gooood. Especially while tomatoes are in season.

Boo felt like watching a thriller, so we picked out Momento featuring Guy Pearce (who we've seen in Count of Monte Christo and Bedtimes Stories (both awesome movies!))

Kat's Tomato Tart

This dish is wonderful! You won't miss meat in this baby, it's hearty and fills you up. This would be great for a chilly night indoors with a fire going and blankets. I added a little bit of artichoke hearts in mine and used fresh chives and basil from my window box. Instead of goat cheese, I used mozzarella, feta, and parmesan.

I wouldn't give myself complete credit for this idea... I think that we both came up with it. And this is a great way to experiment with new vegetarian (or seafood) friendly dishes together. On top of trying the vegetarian thing and helping the environment while we do it, we are bulking up our cookbook and will have a variety of dishes to prepare once we cross back over to eating meat. I will say that it has been a challenge to go veggie, but not doing it alone helps. Anyway on to the dish and the movie...

Boo's 'Freestyling' Tomato Tart

I would also agree that this dish is amazing... I am not much of a baker, but I was able to stumble through it. Getting the crust to cooperate was the hardest part and since I didn't have a pie dish, I decided to 'freestyle' it! I also used artichoke hearts and mozzarella, but think that next time I will add some jalapeƱos or chilies spice to make it more flamin'. A great thing about this dish is that if you know what you like, you could throw in just about anything to compliment it and not go wrong. Give it a try yourself...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Appalachian Voices: a concert with yim james, ben sollee, and daniel moore

This past Thursday on July 22nd 2010, an unexpected concert brought people from the bluegrass region to the Lexington Opera House for a benefit concert. The concert "Appalachian Voices" raised funds and awareness to people on the issue of mountain top removal which is an economic, cultural, and social problem in the coal mining states.

The tour kicked off this evening in Lexington, and will continue to other venues:

Bijou Theatre in Knoxville, Tenn. (July 23), Mountain Stage Radio in Charleston, W.Va. (July 25), Jefferson Theatre in Charlottesville, Va. (July 27), Bearsville Theater in Woodstock, N.Y. (July 29) and Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, N.Y. (July 30)

On stage, were quilts made of plastic bags. Ben Sollee, a cellist (who I played in orchestra with in high school!), explained they were made by a local artist who helps people with disabilities make art.

The concert began at 8:20pm; everyone clapped as they strutted onto stage and the lights dimmed. The night was filled with an eclectic mix of songs, some from their just released album, "Dear Companion", to songs by My Morning Jacket (Jim James, lead Singer), solo songs by Sollee (Cellist & Singer) and Moore (Guitarist & Singer), and even seemingly random songs such as "Save the Last Dance For Me" done in a Latino beat. The drummer, Dan Dorff, joined the trio. Dorff showed off his beats in one song by performing as the drum kit himself, dancing on a plywood board, kicking and clapping the beat.

The untraditional group had an amazingly full sound and could have even played in a larger venue to unleash their full sound. Ben Sollee sounds himself a full band on his cello, using his technique to fill in bass, melody, and everything in between.

The crowd cheered for the the quartet as the night went on, even throughout two encores. The concert ended near 10:30 as I anticipated the group was ready for a night out around Lexington.

Our seats were on the 3rd level, very nosebleed...

deciding on the veggie diet

VEGETARIAN? What's all the talk?

The beginning of June is when Boo and I jumped on the train to being vegetarian. We've always talked a lot about food (and we love to cook!), and also about the costs of food on our bodies and the environment. After watching an environmental flick one evening, we decided we wanted to see what being vegetarian is like. We vowed not to eat meat for one month after we had cooked up the rest of our meat in the freezer and cabinets.

Then I began to really think about meat. I thought about what I would miss about it. I didn't eat meat a lot of meat anyway since I really don't like to cook it that much. I usually only ate it when I was at a restaraunt where the pros would cook it, or if someone was having it at their house. Also, I would usually eat vegetarian when I was with my mom since she has been one for a few years.

I decided I wouldn't miss it that much in general, but I would miss specific dishes, like...Brad's spaghetti and meatballs, pad thai with pork, pork spring rolls, bacon, sausage, chicken & dumplings....

On the other hand, I do often enjoy vegetarian dishes more than meat based ones, and often I'm getting seconds on the side dishes rather than more meat.


"Why don't I just go for it and see what it's like. It can't hurt"

I was still skeptical, but Boo encouraged that we go 'pescatarian' for a month, after we cooked up everything in our freezer and pantry.

We are finding the experience to be kind of fun. It's hard to go to restaurants and see all the meat based entrees that look so wonderful, but we usually go for something seafood or the limited veggie menu. We are finding the vegetarian still has to be careful though, because vegetables are often cooked with meat seasonings, especially here in the south.

One surprise is how good the Morning Star garden burgers are, and a disappointment were the soy dogs! YUK!