food resolutions

Ah, it’s time for New Year’s resolutions! A lot of people are making resolutions about food this time of year, mostly about what they aren’t going to eat any more. While I’d love to swear off processed foods and cheese, I know myself enough to make resolutions I actually stand a chance at accomplishing. Here are my resolutions for 2013:

1. Ban all plastic and teflon from my kitchen. I threw away all my tupperware a few weeks ago, and have been using glass mason jars of various sizes to store my leftovers. It’s working out rather nicely. I also received a set of stainless steel pots and pans for Christmas, and so now I’m down to just a few teflon-coated pans until I buy a few more stainless steel pieces. My cooking utensils are still plastic, as is my cutting board… baby steps!

2. Eat more organic food. I graduated from college four months ago, but I’m still very much on what I lovingly refer to as “the starving college student diet.” I’ve been treating myself to buying a few organic vegetables and fruits at the store, and I figure that every little bit helps. If/when I land a salaried job this year, you can bet that I’ll be making the switch to all organic!

3.Engage with my fellow food bloggers. There are so many great local food blogs written by smart Austinites, and while I definitely read a lot of them on a regular basis, I rarely comment on their posts. I’m fairly shy by nature, and I’m working to overcome this in my personal and online interactions.

4. Make more meal plans and cook meals in advance. I work a full-time job and freelance on the side, and some days, it’s hard to come up with the energy to cook. If I planned my meals for the week and made a conscious effort to do some prep work on my days off, I would probably eat out much less and use all the food I buy instead of letting it go to waste. With all the money I’ll save by not wasting food and eating at restaurants, I’ll be able to buy more organic food!

5. Grow something with my own hands, then eat it. I have a great talent for killing my plants, consequently I’m absolutely terrified of starting a garden. I’m going to start with herbs and work my way up!

What are your resolutions?

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sometimes, it’s nice to pretend

I want so badly for it to be fall. I’ve opened my windows in the vain hope that a cool October breeze might flow through them, but the only thing coming through is some very loud Tejano music from my neighbor’s house. That’s okay, though, because dinner tonight tasted like fall and that’s really all that matters. Butternut squash soup is one of my all-time favorite cold weather soups, and anyway, I’ve been looking for an excuse to use my fancypants immersion blender my boyfriend’s mom gave me for my birthday back in June.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (Vegan, serves 4)

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash
1 can organic coconut milk
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp white pepper
Salt to taste
Optional: 3 tbsp mulling spices, 3 sachets ginger tea

1. Cut the butternut squash in half, lengthwise, and place on a sheet tray lined with foil. Scoop out the seeds and save them if you’d like toasted seeds on top of your soup as a garnish. Rub the squash halves with olive oil and put into the oven to roast at 400 degrees for about an hour.

2. Drizzle a whole clove of garlic with olive oil and wrap it up in a little foil pouch to roast along with the squash. Take it out after about 25 minutes, though!

*Optional: while your squash and garlic are roasting, you’ll prepare a spiced tea to add to the soup when you’re finishing it on the stove. I thought this was sort of a genius idea, but flavoring things with tea is always really difficult. The results were more subtle than I would have liked, but still noticeable. I bought mulling spices in bulk from Whole Foods, and simmered 3 tbsp in 1 cup of water along with 3 ginger teabags on the stove for about 30 minutes. It made the house smell amazing and produced a really strong spiced tea- yum!

2. When your squash is done roasting, remove it from the oven and let it cool. After it’s cooled, scoop out the meat and add it to a large soup pot along with the roasted garlic.

3. Add a can of coconut milk and use an immersion blender to combine the roasted squash, garlic, and coconut milk.

4. Heat the soup on medium-low and stir in the spiced tea, white pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and sea salt to taste.

5. In a small pan, toast the seeds you reserved earlier and season with salt. Once the soup is heated through, ladle into a bowl and garnish with toasted squash seeds.

Here’s to fall (and boots weather!)

foodspotting street food fest

Hungry SXSW’ers braved the rain Saturday afternoon for some trailer food treats at the third annual Foodspotting Trailer Food festival, where some of Austin’s best names in the food truck scene gathered to represent Austin’s growing reputation as the city for the best trailer food. The Foodspotting app is handy for finding great food near you wherever you are- just load up the app to see user-uploaded photos of dishes at restaurants (or trailers!) closest to you. During SXSW, users can load up the app and discover golden tickets to win prizes ranging from a free t-shirt to a pair of Southwest plane tickets.

The fest’s surprise guest was revealed to be competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi, who is best known for his six world hot dog eating championship titles, but also holds Guinness records for devouring meatballs, pizza, pasta, and hamburgers in a matter of minutes. After stopping to take a few photos with fans, he made his way around the circle of trailers to sample a dish from each one. It isn’t often that so many amazing food trucks are together in one spot (aside from the Gypsy Picnic) so I took advantage of the opportunity.

A few trailers seemed to have at least one veggie-friendly option. The Peached Tortilla’s veggie szechuan taco came stuffed with fried tofu and a rainbow of veggies, including stir-fried Japanese eggplant, red peppers, pickled daikon, carrots, and a sprinkling of cilantro. The sweet potato fries with sriracha mayo were a crowd favorite, and the huge portion was definitely worth the $3 price tag. The brightly-colored fries reminded me of something else delicious and orange: the carrot cake cupcake from one of the first Austin food trailers, Hey Cupcake! If I had Kobayashi’s stomach, I might have eaten one of those too.

Hankering for more trailer food at SXSW? All week, Squarespace is giving away free food from more of Austin’s best trailers, including Top Chef winner Paul Qui’s East Side King. Check out the schedule here.

Hop on over to Hopdoddy

In between classes today, I drove down to check out the new addition to South Congress that everyone has been fussing about, Hopdoddy.

Being the progressive burger virtuosos they are, Hopdoddy offers a veggie burger aptly named the Janis Joplin. Now, I’m a fan of the veggie burger that screams “I’m fake meat!” rather than “I’m a bunch of vegetables squished together!” so I was a little wary of the “hemp seed vegetable patty” the Janis featured. But once I tried it, that was that. The patty was moist, like a real burger would have been, and the hemp seeds gave the patty a really nice texture without tasting grainy or (gasp) healthy. It only got better from there. Nevermind the fresh avocado, melty cheddar, overflowing sunflower sprouts, tomato and onion- Hopdoddy has the best bun I’ve had on any burger. Baked fresh, naturally. I’ll just let the photo speak for itself:

deliciousness

The Janis Joplin

Oh, and the condiments! I am such a sucker for condiments, and Hopdoddy puts the perfect twists on classic ketchup and mustard. The chipotle ketchup had just the right amount of spice and acidity, but the horseradish honey mustard was my favorite, and I ended up giving it sole french fry dipping rights about halfway through. If you’re a stark traditionalist, not to worry, there are countless bottles of the regular stuff to bring back to your table. And for the truly Texan, there’s many a bottle of hot sauce right alongside the standard condiment fare.

Another happy discovery was the sight of Buddha’s Brew kombucha on tap right next to a smattering of local beers from 512 Brewing Company, Thirsty Planet, and Independence Brewing Co. And, of course, there was also good old Shiner. I was intrigued by 512 Brewing Company’s Pecan Porter, which I will be sure to seek out at a later date, pecan-lover that I am. In addition to conventional sodas, Hopdoddy also offers Maine Root sodas on tap.

The food aside, this place is beautifully designed and just has a great concept overall. The layout really lends itself to a heightened dining experience. There’s something about having to walk all the way through their busy dining room to place your order at the counter, which adjoins to the open kitchen. There are little mini-booths made for two, and all the tables have a purse hook under them, which I (and I’m sure every other lady) greatly appreciate. Anyway, I could go on all night about all the great stuff Hopdoddy does, but I’ll let them summarize in their own words why they’re so great- with the sign that hangs proudly in their dining room.