Monday, June 21, 2010

Ice Cream and the Freshman 15

"I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!" This was the Greenwood family chant every time we needed a cold hit of creamy goodness. Even mom, the health nut, would play along and down we'd go to grab a half gallon of our favorite low-fat flavor, Cappuccino Chocolate Chunk. That flavor was like crack to my family, I swear. We didn't even pull out bowls; we'd just hover around the carton taking turns digging out huge spoonfuls. Ice cream was always a staple in my life, basically one of the main food groups actually if you take into account how many chocolate and butterscotch chip ice cream balls I ate on my 8th birthday (I had banned birthday cakes years earlier).

However insane our ice cream ritual may sound, it only happened a few times a month. It wasn't until I went to college that I decided to take my ice cream devotion to the next level. I arrived at Lewis and Clark college, a wide-eyed freshman looking for a good education and great-looking boys (I believe honesty is the best policy). The education certainly was fantastic with the statistic of 12 students to every professor; however, the "boy" situation left much to be desired. Firstly, out of 3,500 students over 2,000 were female. I knew this stat before I enrolled but it didn't quite hit home until I saw it with my own eyes. Every one of my classes brimmed over with girls and then, if you looked hard enough, you could see a few boys peppered among the ladies. And these boys were prized possessions, let me tell you. Whether cute or not (and most of them were NOT), to get a man at Lewis and Clark was quite a feat. Boys I would have never even acknowledged in high school soon became attractive...very attractive.

So after getting over my initial shock of NO MEN, I decided to channel my collegiate sexual angst into more productive avenues. I took an African drumming class, joined the school dance troupe and began eating an inhuman amount of ice cream. I ate it in the morning, I ate it in the evening, I ate it twice a day without batting an eye. I easily justified my copious consumption with the fact that I also ate salad twice a day. "They totally cancel each other out," I surmised.

The Lewis and Clark cafeteria, ironically named "The Bone", always had a well-stocked ice cream bar. Now, I'm not talking about lame Souplantation all-you-can eat soft serve. It was more like being behind the case at a Baskin Robbins. Legend has it the long-time wish of a wealthy alumni was to always have ice cream available to the sugar-bereft student body and that his ample donations could go to nothing else. TAKE THAT, Women's Studies department! I honestly praised that man every time I wrapped my lips around a scoop of Maple Walnut sunk deep in a sugar cone.

Then came Thanksgiving.

I hadn't been home in almost 3 months and was excited to see my family. My grandmother soon arrived and made her usual grand entrance. "Jamie, darling, come here," she cooed. I kissed her lovingly on the cheek and then stepped back for her to greet my other siblings. As she brushed passed me to enter the kitchen, I felt a little tap-tap on my tush. "Someone's put on a little weight, haven't they?" I could have died at that very moment. Yes, I had been eating ice cream like a child at a church social, yes I had poured myself into my "skinny" jeans, and YES I had substituted food for the lovin' I was supposed to get as a new collegiate. But these facts didn't make her remark hurt any less. I walked into the kitchen, the emotional wind having been knocked out of me, and looked at my grandmother. She was completely oblivious of what she had said. Completely unaware of the impact of her words. I ate very little dinner that night and excused myself early to go to bed. I went back to school the next week and, upon arrival, said goodbye to the ice cream bar. I said goodbye to my beloved Maple Walnut, the only lover I had ever known. I never again indulged in the ice cream of Lewis and Clark and instead, begrudging, turned my sites to another lover...the gym.

Sweet Potato Fries
I know you were hoping for an ice cream recipe, but alas, I don't have one. Rather, this is a recipe that will help knock out those pesky sugar cravings. These fries are a great snack or accompaniment to any summer BBQ. And of course, you can have organic ice cream for dessert. (I found you a few good recipes here and here!)

2 large Japanese sweet potatoes, washed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric or curry powder (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the potatoes into 1/4-1/2 inch thick strips, similar to steak fries. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and mix with olive oil, salt, and the optional spices. Lay the potatoes in a cookie sheet, making sure they do not touch each other. Bake for 25 minutes, stir once, and then bake for another 15-20 minutes. Fries should be golden brown and crispy. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tasty Travels: First stop, Italy

I'm moving to Rome. That's it. Done! Goodbye house, friends, family. It's been swell, but I gotta go. This is how it plays out in my dreams anyway. Having been back from our Mediterranean vacation for 2 weeks now, reality has finally set in that I will not wake up in the Eternal City any time soon. We cruised to Sicily, Naples, Athen, Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos, and Kusadasi and though they all offered amazing sights, sounds and culinary delights, Rome felt like home. Upon arrival I quickly picked up a few lovely words that seemed to fall out of my mouth every few minutes. If Gray stopped to look at a building or peer into a book shop I yelled, "Andiamo (Let's go)!!" Alternatively, if I saw any type of food store (which was about every 500 feet) I'd scream, "Andiamo", and dash inside to peruse the wares. I also had a sweet little habit of saying "Ciao" at every passing scooter. Just FYI, almost everyone rides a scooter in Rome. Gray claimed my Italian verbosity was annoying (granted) but it made me feel like a friendly local. Ciao, Ciao, Ciao!

Our first morning in Rome I peeled open my jet-lagged eyes to the smell of freshly baking bread. I would soon find out it was not just any old bread, it was croissants. Hot, buttery croissants that arrived at our breakfast table in a shamefully overflowing basket every morning. Now I try not to eat bread very often (it puts me straight to sleep) but that first smell on that first day set the tone for the entire trip. Bread, Miss? YES PLEASE, and lots of it. When in Rome, right? We walked all over the city, stopping only to walk inside one of the million churches or grab a snack. My favorite stop however was the open air market at the Campo Di Fiori. This is the market in Rome and after walking down the first isle I was in tears for lack of a kitchen. The produce was absolutely gorgeous and I loved seeing all the Romans in their everyday shopping rituals. I walked around each stand, pretending I was there to pick up ingredients for my upcoming dinner. At one point I was actually asked for directions by an Italian, which created enough tingle in my toes that I completely forgot my burning desire to cook.

Almost all of the goods were recognizable, except one. While sweating over which olive oil to buy, I noticed an elderly woman and an equally elderly vendor vehemently haggling over the price of apples. Of course, I couldn't understand anything the woman was saying but her eyes, flailing arms and intonation said it all. After 5 minutes of back and forth the vendor abruptly changed course and convinced the woman that apples weren't the way to go at all. He quickly reached down and from behind the register produced a basket of mini strawberries. She stopped cold, grabbed at them immediately, paid full price, and scurried away. I walked behind the man to get a better look at the oddly recognizable fruit. They were definitely strawberries, just tiny. I wasn't sure how to get my hands on them, besides following the old woman's example of screaming at him in Italian. (Andiamo! Grazie! Ciao!) He seemed to be guarding the little red jewels for dear life, which of course made me want them more. I thought for a split second about miming the universal sign for "I want your berries", but upon reflection and envisioned embarrassment, I sadly moved along down the market. We soon went to lunch at a restaurant just off the Campo that had outdoor seating outside the front door. We were basically seated in the middle of the street, with waiters dodging scooters to serve us our cloud-like gnocchi. Man, I love Italy! For some reason I decided to look at the dessert menu first. Three lines down in the middle of page I read, "Fragoline di Bosco- Little Strawberries." Bravo!

So, where am I going with this story? I can't really tell you. All I can say is that in Italy, just ask, and you shall receive. It is a beautiful, historic, luscious city that is filled with delicious foods, gorgeous sights, and gracious people waiting to share the love of their city. Go as fast as you can!

Spring Pea and Pulse Salad
Serve 4

I found this recipe in a beautiful Italian cookbook off Piazza Barberini. The recipe caught my eye immediately and I memorized it so as to give it a Jamie Living twist at home. The marjoram really makes the dish so do not leave it out. I also made two other revisions adding roasted potatoes and braised baby artichokes respectively. Both were to die for. Experiment and enjoy!

1 cup English shelling peas, shelled
4 scallions, chopped
2 handfuls arugula, washed
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
2 1/2 cups Ayecote Morado beans, cooked and patted dry (you can also use kidney or cannellini beans)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup sugar snap peas, ends trimmed
Sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar (my fav is Bariani as you know)

In a sauce pan, boil 3 cups of water with a liberal dose of salt. Add the shelled peas and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain, and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, add the chopped scallions, arugula, and fresh herbs. Set aside.

In a large saute pan add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat at medium. Add the cooked beans and allow them to crisp up (if the beans are not dried properly they will not crisp). After 5 minutes add the sugar snap peas and cook until the peas are just browned, about 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt, stir well, and add the mixture to the arugula and scallions. Toss in the blanched shelled peas and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and serve!