Will She Eat It? Meal, Ready-to-Eat
November 8, 2007, 2:24 am
Filed under: adventure, george, MRE, will she eat it?

Lillie is an adventurous eater but there are still foods out there that she won’t go near. Here is a fun new posting series called “Will She Eat It?”

Good old George from Oak Park was kind enough to donate the first selection: an MRE. Here is the description from Wikipedia: The MRE, or “Meal, Ready-to-Eat” is a self-contained, individual field ration in lightweight packaging procured by the United States military for its service-members for use in combat or other field conditions where organized food facilities are not available.

During the 5 years I was in Air Force Intel, I was lucky to only have only eaten these shelf-stable meals about 2 dozen times. Usually it was during war gaming exercises or on a flight to a new assignment. Once we got to Turkey or Saudi Arabia, the temporary barracks we stayed in had a mess hall or dining facilities near by. All I really remember is that they were relatively flavorless and the most dreaded of all was the ham omelet. The texture was like a grainy sponge.

I’m happy to say that the latest version of the MRE has undergone some upgrades including attention to flavor a nifty chemical steamer that can heat your entree to 300 degrees in about 60 seconds with only a 1/4 cup of water.

The MRE sat on the counter for a few weeks before I got up the nerve to serve it to Lillie. She asked about it almost every day and was so intrigued by the packaging. “Can I hold it?!”

We cut open the outside bag and surveyed the contents.

Lillie was beside herself. The trail mix was the first to be sampled.

The peanuts were a little soggy but all in all, not a bad snack. I’ve never seen Lillie so excited about a handful of peanuts.

The applesauce pouch was the next to go.

It didn’t have much flavor but both Lillie and Sadie wolfed it down. Eating out of a pouch added the novelty necessary to keep them interested.

Now it was time to heat up the entree. We were lucky to get chicken breast with shells in a marinara sauce. I set up the heating pouch and propped it up according to the directions.

The water was added and a funky-smelling steam came pouring out of the folded down top. Here is the warning section of the pouch.

I let it cool down for a few minutes and we snipped open the pouch. Note the silicon doggie pot holder.

It was a solid breaded chicken breast with pasta and sauce all around it. Hello in there!

Again, Lillie was crazy for the food.

She and Sadie ate every shell and all the chicken.

I had a taste and it wasn’t half bad. The pasta had a little more texture than a spagetti-o and the chicken density was almost like a canned tuna steak. The marinara tasted a little over processed but wasn’t half bad.

We wrapped it up with the M&Ms and they were identical in texture and flavor to the ones we eat here on the civilian side. All in all, not a bad meal. I’m just thankful I didn’t have my chemical warfare gear on, this time around.

Verdict: She ate it!


#1 Oriental Supermarket – the Ride!
October 14, 2007, 11:25 pm
Filed under: adventure, asian market

It was time for another adventure and one place I’ve been dying to take Lillie is the #1 Oriental Supermarket. This is not your average Asian market – this place is ginormous!

Not since Super 88 in Boston have I seen a market with such an impressive selection.

We quickly pushed pasted the roasted dead animals…

Lillie: “What’s THAT Daddy?”

Me: “Um…a pig?”

Lillie: “Oink oink.”

..and make our way to the heavenly produce section. I was still nervous about taking pictures in the store after the dreaded “Whole Foods Incident” so unfortunately there is only one photo.

Lillie picked out some baby Japanese eggplant, mini pickling cukes, and the world’s largest carrot. I carefully selected a sampling of one of 8 different kinds of bok choy and big bag of bean sprouts. Sadie was surprisingly quiet during the whole experience.

After the produce comes the tea aisle where we picked up some genmaicha – yummy green tea with toasted rice. The next aisle is the candy and cookie aisle and let’s just say that Lillie suddenly became much more enthusiastic.

She picked out some Hello Kitty Strawberry Pocky (of course!)

We grabbed a few more snacks in the cracker and nut aisle including a “trail” mix packed with dried whole fish! I’m going to use that for a new segment called “Will She Eat It?” Lillie is going to love that one!

We grabbed some mushroom soy sauce in sauce aisle number three. So many sauces…

By now the seafood department was filling our olfactory senses so we just made a beeline to the fishtanks.

They sell live tilapia and black sea bass along with live shrimp, crabs, lobster, etc.

I swear this one bin of cockles gives the entire store its funky aroma.

Lillie was fascinated by all the activity.

Lillie: “I love snakes!”

Me: “Those aren’t snakes. They’re live eels.”

Lillie: “No. They’re snakes.”

Maybe next time we will be brave enough to buy some fish…

like the exotic moonfish…

or the ever charming grunt fish…

or even some jelly fish heads!

We wrapped up our experience in the noodle aisle with some green tea flavored lo main. I totally forgot to pick up a bento box! Now we have to go home and cook up some grub!

White Mayonnaise
September 19, 2007, 12:36 am
Filed under: adventure, condiment, mayonnaise, recipe, sauce

Lunchtime during the week must include at least one visit to the best sub shop this side of the Mississippi – Jersey Mike’s. I mean, come on, they slice the meat right in front of you as your order your sandwich! Does it get any better than that?! Its true, their delectable “fresh” subs are amazing but the same can not be said about their sanitary-gloved employees. During the latest visit, our attentive “sandwich artist” asked Drew if he wanted some “white mayonnaise” on his giant bacon and pepperoni sandwich. It caught us off guard.

White mayonnaise, you say? What other colors of mayonnaise do you have behind that counter? Yellow mustard maybe. Red ketchup? Now you are pushing it. White mayonnaise? You’re just talking crazy talk.

The truth is, like most people, I love mayonnaise.

Maybe not as much as this guy…

or these guys…

…but its fair to say its a very important part of my life. Although we generally reach for the Hellman’s Canola Mayo for sandwiches and salads (potato, chicken, k-rab), occasionally there is a need for something a little fresher. The truth is that mayonnaise is relatively easy to make – its simply a cold emulsion of vegetable oil, egg yolks and your choice of an acid. Once you have a mayonnaise base you can literally flavor it with any ingredient – from chipotle to garlic and fresh herbs. Remind me to have a mayo contest – that would be fun.

Here is a simple mayonnaise base to get you started:

White Mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice

pinch of Kosher Salt (to taste)

1/3 cup of olive or avocado oil

2 egg yolks

Add the Dijon mustard to the egg yolks and beat with a whisk until slightly thickened, then slowly drizzle the oil into the egg mix. If it gets too thick, add a little vinegar or lemon juice to thin out the mix. Once all the oil is added, whisk in the remaining acid. The consistency should be that of, well, mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Store in the fridge up to one week.

Spice up your mayo! Use your imagination, for crying out loud…

Yellow Mayonnaise (Lemon)
increase lemon juice to 2 tbsp and add 1 teaspoon freshly microplaned lemon peel

Mayonnaise (Garlic and Herb)
1/4 cup chopped fresh soft herbs (parsley, basil, tarragon, etc.) and three cloves of roasted garlic

Orange Mayonnaise (Chipotle)
1 finely chopped chipotle chile in adobo, 1 teaspoon adobo sauce, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Brown Mayonnaise (Ginger-Sesame)
add one finely chopped scallion, 1 tsp minced fresh ginger, 1/4 tsp toasted sesame or peanut oil and a splash of low sodium soy sauce

Piggies Went to Market
September 9, 2007, 12:29 am
Filed under: adventure
Winter Park Farmers Market

The girls and I wolfed down some breakfast (Clifford the Big Red Dog-o’s, Bananas and Oatmeal) and got out of the house early (10:45!) so Mama Victoria could get some well needed rest. Our favorite nighttime nursery nurse needed to recharge her batteries after another 12 hour shift. Although disappointed we weren’t going to “Mickey Mouse House” again, Lillie was motivated by the promise of a giant sprinkle cookie.

Visions of blogdom filled my head all night so I was a little groggy and in need of some inspiration. I figured a farmers market and the ever popular Whole Foods would do the trick and get this blog off on the right foot.

We headed out from Clermont and the 45 minute drive took no time at all thanks to I Spy…

Lillie: I spy with my little eye…..something white!

Me: Is it the clouds?

Lillie: Nooooooo.

Me: What about the lines on the road?

Lillie: Noooooo. Try again.

Me: I don’t see anything else white.

Lillie: Keep looking!

We parked by Hot Olives and burned umbrella stroller rubber towards the market. Halfway there, Lillie found the LOWEST Lowrider ever, so we had to stop for a photo opp.

more cowbell, please!

The farmer’s market was filled with exotic plants, gourmet foods and organic offerings. “Aromas and laughter filled the air.”

organic vegetables are hilarious!

We crunched on some fresh kettlecorn and invested in some spicy Tupelo honey from Winter Park Honey. Van Morrison would be proud. The samples came on little popsicle sticks and Lillie couldn’t get enough of them. She probably tasted 15 out of the 20 local honey varietals. Her favorite was Key Lime.

“Shes as sweet as tupelo honey
Just like honey from the bee” – Van Morrisson

Next stop was Pappardelle’s Homemade Pasta stand. Their handmade pasta selection was too fun to pass up. After careful deliberation, we selected the Pacific Rim blend, Harvest orzo and the Yellow Bell Pepper pappardelle – check the website for all their imaginative flavor combinations.

Pappardelle’s Homemade Pasta stand

Tiffany was kind enough to let Lillie and I try the Dark Chocolate linguini and she was totally fine with me taking a million pictures of the pasta for the new blog including this one of their fruit medley. It smelled remarkably like Fruity Pebbles.

Silly Rabbit! Pasta’s for kids!

By now we were melting in the sun, so we grabbed as many fruits and veggies we could carry and scampered back to the air conditioned haven in the Highlander. Sadie’s little hat was stuck to her head by the time she hit the carseat.

Goodbye Market!

Now it was time to head over to Whole Foods for some climate controlled food appreciation. On our way in, Lillie pointed out the birds nest in the letter A. Nice catch!

Today’s Blog is brought to you by the letter A

It seemed like a good time to get the camera out and take some blogworthy food photos. After we secured a mini-shopping cart for Lillie, it was time to camp out in the produce section.

heirloom tomatoes

20 pictures later…

Apparently, you can’t take pictures in Whole Foods. Not even of pomegranates! Here is how the confrontation went down…

Manager: Sir?

Me: (trying to squeeze out one more picture of stacked fruit for the blog)

Manager: Excuse me, sir.

Me: (stupid Sony Handycam crappy autofocus taking forever, hurry!)

Manager: Sir!

Me: (flash!snap!) Hi!

Manager: You can’t take any pictures in the store, sir.

Me: Not even of the fruit?

Manager: Unfortunately, if we let one person take a picture in the store, we would have to let everyone. Its a slippery slope. Sorry.

Me: Slippery slope?

This is the last known picture ever taken inside a Whole Foods. It was worth it.

top secret pomegranates

We reluctantly put the camera away and they left us alone to taste cheeses, granola and baba ganoush. Sadie was starving (as usual) so the samples on each aisle came in handy!

We filled up Lillie’s “shopper in training” minicart with two stunner tomatoes (7 bucks!), some butternut squash bisque for Sadie, golden beets, samplings from the olive bar, strawberry lemon seltzer water and the biggest sprinkle cookie Lillie had ever seen.

I even picked out a nice fruity beer for Victoria. Peach German fancyWeiss something or other. She will love it.

Magic Hat #9, eat your heart out!

All that was left to do was hop back into the car and head home (while eating the coveted Sprinkle cookie.) “that was one good cookie, Daddypie.” Halfway there, we hit up the roadside shrimp stand

shrimp scampi. shrimp gumbo. fried shrimp. coconut shrimp. shrimp sandwich…

and grabbed 3 pounds of huge gulf prawns and a pint of fragrant plums from Pauleen. I was short a few dollars so she told me to bring it by next time. “Mahma take care uv yuh.” I think she suffering from heat stroke! What a day!

stop looking at me!