Monday, April 30, 2007

As Seen On TV

I love those infomercials that make bizarre claims like "boiling eggs are so hard", "scrambled eggs are so messy to make!", "flipping pancakes is tricky" now it is "peeling potatoes is so dangerous!". Check out the tater mitt. So many solutions to problems that just don't exist.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

New look?


I was playing around and came up with this new banner. What do you think?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Serviceberries

I half want to start a gardening blog where I can share all of my gardening updates.

Yesterday Baltimore City was giving away free trees for Arbor Day at the Cylburn Arboretum as part of their effort to increase the tree canopy in the city by 30%. What does this have to do with food?

The tree we picked up is a serviceberry (also known as juneberry, mespilus, sarvis, shad-blossom and shadbush) which produces berries that are edible by humans! Apparently at one time they were quite popular and people made pies and jams with them. They can also be eaten raw and apparently taste like a "slightly nutty blueberry".

Has anyone eaten serviceberries before?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ikea Swedish Food Marketplace/Wishlist Update


Acting on a tip by local Xiao Zhu, I swung by my local Ikea and found, to my delight, pearl sugar. Very exciting and something else I can cross off my food wishlist. Now I can make some of those Scandinavian delights that were until now unobtainable. While there, I couldn't resist picking up some premade vanilla sugar (I know you can make your own, but this was only about $2 and I don't have to use a whole vanilla bean) which is very fine and has flecks of vanilla bean in it, and some lingonberry drink concentrate (which I already tried out in some club soda-I think drink concentrates are my new favorite things-I might have to go back for some elderflower concentrate) and a jar of lingonberry preserves, because you never know when you might get the yen for lingonberry.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Adventures in Food



I know I have talked about my adventures at H Mart before, but we had a good visit today- lots of new produce that we haven't seen before. We bought a couple of the yellow Korean melons, some very pretty red ongchoy, a small case of nine large mangos for only $6 (normally $1-2 a piece), pipian squash and fresh turmeric. And some other yummy things: large scallops for only $5 a pound, frozen seafood, some beautiful kiwi, so many greens (chard, something labeled "Chinese greens" which looks like small bok choy but green all the way through, baby bok choy), Chinese eggplant, and some other odds and ends. The refrigerator is completely full-we had scrubbed it out before we went and threw out some old leftovers and things so it had been quite bare- there is scarcely any room left.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

NYC is the place to be

So, we are coming up to NYC for a wedding in May. It is an afternoon wedding and we are (if all goes as planned) going to be staying in the city (rather than on Staten Island with my in-laws) so we will have plenty of time to play. We'll be in Manhattan the evening of May 5th (a Saturday) and during the day of May 6th. Anyone want to meet up for drinks or something?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thrifty Tip #7: Shopping for Housewares


Recently I have gotten a spate of emails and comments wanting to know where I get the cups, saucers, plates and serving pieces I show on Coconut & Lime when I post recipes. While I don't create the elaborate "tablescapes" some bloggers do, I do like to vary the dishes for the blog rather than showing the plate over and over again. I don't like to spend a lot of money on dishes so I have come up with a few tricks.
I have found some of my best deals ($12 for a set of 4 chandelier print teacups and saucers-regularly $40 and $12 for this Jonathan Adler for Chocolate Bar fondue set-regularly $65) at a store that sells mostly clothes, jewelry and purses. The store has a small "home" section towards the back and the things they sell are beautiful and from great designers. However, I don't think most people thinkof the store as a destination for those sort of items and the selection is some what limited but when they mark things down, it is often by 50% or more.
I have also had a lot of luck at high end independently owned furniture stores. Often they have a great kitchen/bar section that has a lot of merchandise to fill out the display (like cookbooks to show off a bookcase or fun cutting boards on top of a movable island) that frequently go unsold and end up on the clearance table.
I also buy sets of things were each piece is different. A set of four rice bowls each with a different print breaks up the monotony while still being practical.
Often you can buy just one of a set. White plates are good for showing off the food, but if you love color like me, you don't want to eat off of it every day. Places like Fishs Eddy frequently sell classic dishes that are priced individually so you can buy as few or as many as you like.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Edible Garden

The six golden raspberry plants we ordered a couple of months ago have arrived and we bought a blackberry bush this past weekend but it has been so cold and damp we haven't been able to get them in the ground yet.

I am really excited about growing raspberries and blackberries. Berries are so parishable (and expensive, even in season) that each summer I am left wishing I had more to make things with. I am hoping that this year the bushes will be prolific (they are all first year producers) and I can make all sorts of yummy dishes!

We also saw kiwi at Home Depot, but the variety they had required you having both a male and a female plant and it climbed. Anyone have any experince growing kiwi?

What edibles are you planting this year?

Target Finds


I went to Target today to kill time after my eye doctors appointment (if you are interested: I ended up getting contacts -which I wear 99% of the day- and these glasses, except in black w. green) because my eyes were so dilated from the exam that I was having issues driving. Anyway, while I was there aimlessly wandering the isles and looking like I just stumbled out of a rave, I found these kitschy "coconut" drinking glasses for $4. How fun are they going to be to drink out of this summer? They are surprisingly sturdy and the inside lifts out for easy cleaning. I also might add that I saw them at Joann Fabrics for $7, so it was a bargain!
I found this tiny little pot (like 1-2 inch!) of radish seeds in the $1 bin. I think I'm going to stick them on the sindow sill and see what happens.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Blogger's Choice Awards

Many food blogs up for vote! Coconut & Lime was nominated (thanks Ms. Vegan Diva!) but there is a lot of wonderful competition out there that deserves your vote as well!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Wishlist Update: Matcha & Valomilk




I am lucky girl! Super sweet Raquel saw my plea for Valomilks and green tea powder and came to the rescue! Not only that, but she sent me a great package that included some other goodies as well, including couple of cookies she made (and vacuum packed, which cracked me up!), key lime and coconut candy, soup, tart filling, a adorable sugar patch made by her friend, coconut candy and of course matcha and Valomilk. What a treat!
I have been wanting to try Valomilk for years-ever since reading Steve Almond's Candy Freak but have had no luck. Apparently the famous "flowing center" is a bit tricky to deal with. It can't survive high altitudes (so flying is out) and of course heat is a killer of candy bars and they have a tendency to ooze. Well, the USPS is ground only and it has been freakishly cold so it arrived safely and intact. It was sticky, but the filling really did flow, in fact, I had to eat it standing over the sink. The flavor is pretty mild-no over the top vanilla or chocolate flavors nor it quite marshmallow-y but it was quite good and the novelty factor was quite high. It is difficult to describe, but I liked it and I am glad I was able to try one!



The green tea powder came in a tiny tin with a pull tab. When I pulled it, a little puff of green powder came up and coated me like I was bank robber opening up a bag of money with a dye pack inside. Luckily there is tons more in the tin, I can't wait to make something with it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners


On Monday I made a yummy pork burrito filling in the slow cooker. Well, I say I made it, but really Matt assembled it the day before and I just cut up some onions and dumped it all in. It was really good (recipe to come if I can get him to write it up for me) but the best part was the clean up. I used one of those new(ish) slow cooker liners by Reynolds. We do have a slow cooker where the center comes out for easy cleaning, but generally the "easy" cleaning involved it soaking at least over night. I can't imagine what it would be like to have one of those all in one models you can't take apart-I'd be scared to make anything in it. Anyway, I placed the liner in the slowcooker, poured all the ingredients in, folded the extra length of the bag over the outside of the machine and closed the lid. It cooked as normal, but once we scooped all the meat/sauce out, I lifted the bag out, knotted the top and threw it out. No clean up at all. I went to the website and noticed they have a contest going on for slowcookers in RVs. Not sure how many people reading this have an RV, but it looks fun.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Kombucha Wonder Drink


Today at lunch I spotted something that I though would be good but in actuality was very bizarre. It was called Kombucha Wonder Drink. From the description:
"For centuries, the wise ones descended each year from their aeries high in the Himalayas to harvest spring tea that grew in the valley below. The tea went back up, high in the mountains where it was blended according to an ancient formula, creating “kombucha” – a delicious, effervescent wonder drink that has for thousands of years conferred its wonderful benefits on all who drink it: good health, great longevity, inner serenity and incisive mental clarity."

Who could turn down a drink that promises inner serenity, longevity and metal clarity? It turns out, I would. I tried the the "Orient Blend" – ("A traditional kombucha drink from the Far East, combining the uplifting flavor of oolong tea with kombucha.") which sounded good, but had this weird acidic flavor to it. The aftertaste was strangely more pleasant but the initial taste was reminiscent of taking a chug of straight vinegar. I had a hard time finishing the 8.5 oz bottle.

On the good side: it is fairly low in sugar and calories and is made with all organic ingredients.

Nature Valley Cereal


Recently I tried the Nature Valley cereal. It is fairly new and claims to have bits of granola in it. I occasionally eat the Nature Valley granola bars so it sounded interesting. I am not a huge cereal person, but I really liked it. The oats and honey variety had a nice oat flavor and just a touch of sweetness that actually tasted like honey. It appears to have two kinds of flakes in it, one sort of chunky and oat filled and the other a more typical bran flake. They combine to make a cereal that really fills you up but isn't too heavy or overly "health food" tasting.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Ground Chipolte Pepper

I have been wanting to get ground chipolte pepper for a while now. Well, just like with the smoked paprika (which I am now officially obsessed with) Safeway and McCormick came through again, suddenly it was on the shelf with the other spices as if it had been there all along. It was sort of expensive, over $4 for a little jar, but we've already used it once to great success. Even though I love shopping online, there is still something fun about just happening on to something you've been looking for. Not to mention you don't have to pay shipping!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Egg Picking


For years my family has played an Easter game that my grandfather (93, born & raised here in Baltimore) played as a boy. We each would pick an egg and knock them points or butts together and see which one breaks. Then we'd switch sides and try again. Who ever had an egg that didn't crack won. We still play this every year with my grandpop. Recently I was trying to look it up online to learn more about the tradition. Grandpop had no idea what it was called, but said that boys would roam the alleys on Easter asking "Who's got an egg" or more oddly "who's gotta guinea?" and then they'd play. Anyway, I couldn't find anything at all until this morning when I came across this post over at Counter Intelligence that talked about the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition of "egg picking" which sounds exactly like what we do. Now armed with the term "egg picking" I've found several other mentions, including one saying that it used to be played in Baltimore but has gone out of favor (not a my house!) and this one that seems to point to a larger "egg picking" community.




"Egg breaking games have been popular for centuries in many different countries, too. In England it is called Egg Picking, or Egg Shakling, and children hold hard-boiled eggs in their hands and knock them lightly against the eggs held by others. When players' eggs break, they must give them to their opponents. The champion is the child whose egg has the hardest shell! "



Has anyone else played this game?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Le Creuset Caribbean


How much do I love the new color Le Creuset is offering? I almost wish we had put off getting married for a couple years just so we could have registered for it. It is just about exactly the same color of our kitchen walls. Unfortunately, I don't think I can justify buying much of it (we already have the Le Cresuet grill pan, large pot, lobster pot and garlic shaped baking dish) but Matt did get me these stoneware baking dishes for Easter-they are on sale for only $30 for both! And I have my eye on the $25 mortar and pestle, our molcajete doesn't work as well as we'd like with wet pastes.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Easter Candy Trivia


Some fun trivia from the National Confectioners' Association (how much do I wish I worked there!) about Easter candy:

Easter Bunnies



· 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies are made for Easter each year.

· Each day, five million marshmallow chicks and bunnies are produced in preparation for Easter.

· 82 percent of Americans say they would prefer a chocolate or candy bunny for Easter, while only 4 percent say they would prefer a live rabbit.

· 63 percent of Americans would most like to receive a chocolate bunny on Easter morning, followed by marshmallow bunnies (10 percent).



Jelly Beans!

· The world’s largest jar of jelly beans weighed 6,050 pounds.

· 16 billion jelly beans are made for Easter (that’s enough to completely fill an 89 feet high and 60 feet wide plastic Easter egg – about the height of a nine-story office building!)

· April 22nd is National Jelly Bean Day.

· Red jelly beans are kids' favorite.



Kids

· 75 percent of kids are willing to do extra chores for extra Easter candy.

· Kids first grab for chocolate bunnies (76 percent) when checking out their Easter baskets, followed by marshmallow treats (18 percent), malted milk balls/eggs (17 percent) and jelly beans (16 percent).

· More than half (57 percent) of kids get up before or at sunrise on Easter morning.



Adults

· 88 percent of adults carry on the Easter tradition of creating Easter baskets for their kids.

· 90 percent of adults hope for their own treat from the Easter Bunny.



Egg-strodinary!

· According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest Easter egg ever made was just over 25-ft high and made of chocolate and marshmallow. The egg weighed 8,968 lbs. and was supported by an internal steel frame.

· The first chocolate eggs were made in Europe in the early 19th century and remain among the most popular treats associated with Easter.


You can also read about their "make mine chocolate" Easter bunny campaign. Please don't give live bunnies for Easter! Chocolate ones are so much better. Chocolate bunnies:
  • do not require feeding or clean up
  • are always sweet in nature
  • can’t bite back when you nibble on their ears

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Food Wishlist Update Central

Here is a list of items I have found so far:
+ sushi grade fish (Found!)
+ green tea powder (Found!)
+ Ribena (Found!)
+ Valomilk (Found!)
+ Sint Maartin guavaberry (Found!)
+cane sugar Coke (2L Found!)
+ Vosges Exotic Chips(Found!)
+ Vanilla Paste (Found!)
+ Pearl Sugar (Found!)
+ Goji Berries (Found!)
+ Fizzy Cola (Found!)
+ Golden Kiwi (Found!)
+ Red Currants (Found!)
+ Edible Silver Dust (Found!)
+Pomegranate Molassas (found!)
+Maaza (found!)
+ Chocodiles! (found!)
+ Vosges Bacon Bar (found!)
+ Israeli Couscous (found!)
+ Gooseberries (found!)



Check out what I am still looking for over on the right hand column.

Trader Joe's Vanilla Paste


I have been on the look out for vanilla paste for a while. Off and on I have seen Nielsen-Massey vanilla paste selling for about $12 and thought I could probably track it down if I really needed it for a particular recipe but the price held me back from buying it just to experiment with. Both vanilla beans and vanilla are expensive so maybe $12 isn't too outlandish, but it still, $12 for 4oz sounded like a lot.

Today I was at Trader Joe's (the one in Towson for you locals) following a couple of hot tips regarding a couple other wishlist items: green tea powder and golden kiwi (no luck for either) and came across a jar of vanilla paste the same size (4 oz) as the Nielsen-Massey jar I had seen (and was tempted to buy) at Williams Sonoma just about 15 minutes before but for only $4.99. The bottle was a little beat up looking but it seemed like good enough of a deal and since I rarely go to Trader Joe's (and know items mysteriously become unavailable from the store at times) I picked it up.

Side note: I know some people are seriously into Trader Joe's (wasn't there a riot when it opened in NYC?) but I am always underwhelmed. I find the shrink wrapped vegetables perplexing and often they are out of whatever I am looking for. Since I can't really do all of my shopping there, and I can't count on them to have exactly what I am looking for, even if they have had it before, I pretty much stay away. Maybe if I was really into frozen or prepacked foods I'd like them more, I don't know, those sections seem pretty popular but don't really interest me.

Anyway, this is a long way of saying that I happened to be in Trader Joe's today and found vanilla paste. I brought it home and opened it up and...it is not what I expected. Why did I think that vanilla paste was going to be paste-like? I pictured something sort of like library paste but vanilla flavored and with vanilla beans throughout. It's not like that at all. It is a thin syrup with vanilla beans floating in it. It is pretty vanilla smelling (and tasting, I may or may not have eaten a teaspoon of it straight from the jar) but not what I was expecting. Do I get my foodie credentials yanked if I admit I don't like Trader Joe's and didn't know what vanilla paste actually was in the same post? Do I even have foodie credentials? I digress. I googled it and apparently it is supposed to be syrupy so it isn't some old separated leftovers or a fluke. I also saw a couple of mentions online about how the Trader Joe's vanilla paste might just be the Nielsen-Massey repackaged (like a lot of Trader Joe's products are) under the Trader Joe's name because it is so similar in taste and texture. If that is true, I might have gotten a great deal. Now I just have to figure out what to make with it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Shark Bottle Opener


How clever is this? If I didn't already have two bottle openers and (one shaped like a fish, another like a hand) I'd so get it.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Thrifty Tip #6: Spring Deals



  • Shredded coconut was really cheap at Safeway today: only $1.70 for a 5 1/3 cup bag. It wasn't in the ad, it was one of those "price slashed temporarily" deals they have occasionally. I bought 3 bags-it lasts forever and you can freeze it. Easter always seems to bring good deals on coconut.

  • Fresh horseradish is easily found this time of year because of Passover. So it is a good time to try making fresh horseradish sauce, just don't breathe too deeply.

  • This is a really good time to look for deals on baking supplies. Now that winter is over, many stores are paring down their baking sections.

  • In other years, I have noticed early Spring is a good time to get good deals on fresh seafood (because of Lent, I assume) but this year I haven't noticed it so much. There have been some sales, but not the usual rock bottom prices I have seen in years past.
  • I have been seeing a lot of smoked salmon "trim" sold in little tubs lately. It is generally in seafood department of the supermarket or near lox. It is the leftovers from cutting out large chunks of smoked salmon to make large, flat pieces of lox. It is generally much cheaper than regular smoked salmon and I have found the bits to be quite large and flat-big enough to cover half a bagel. So if you don't mind piecing together your lox for bagels and cream cheese or plan on using it in something else (I love it in a scramble) it is a great choice.

  • Asparagus is very cheap this time of year. I know people always say it goes bad quickly, but I find if you wrap it tightly, it can last a week or so without cooking it.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Play Bento


I love fake food and this set is especially cute. I just wish I had an excuse to buy it!