Friday, December 12, 2008

Eating Better In the Midst of Finals Week

Well it's here. That special time of year that everyone has been waiting for: Finals.

All across America, students are gearing down for the most stressful week of their lives. It gets a lot harder this time of the year to make sure I've got my head straight and my priorities in order. That said, in favor of not failing my classes, I often neglect myself and my eating habits.

To compensate for lack of preparation time in my schedule, I've made many a meal in bulk. Thanks to the greatest invention known to man--the crockpot-- I've managed to make sure that I get three (healthy) meals a day, without wasting precious study time.

Even though most of my friends do not have crockpots, we've all been trying to eat better. Foods on our latest grocery lists include sweet potatoes, bananas, nutri-grain bars, Quaker oat squares, and many, many Healthy Choice frozen meals.

Besides, eating better helps you do better on exams-- right? (Please do not correct me.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Food for Thought: Blagojevich is an idiot

Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich, is the new stupid person of the day.

The whole business of selling the senate seat is reprehensible. What is also astonishing is how much evidence there is against the governor. To be in such a prominent public position and attempt something so criminal is not only idiotic, it's a complete slap in the face to the people that Blagojevich, as governor, represents.

His actions tell the story of a man, whose position has gone to his head, and who thinks he is above the law and common decency.

Rod Blagojevich, you are a moron.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Best recipe: Garlic Broth

A good alternative to chicken stock or just to have on its own. Very healthy and very soothing.

  • 2 heads garlic
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • A bouquet of bay leaf, sprigs of thyme and parsley and a fresh sage leaf
  • Salt to taste


  1. Bring water to a boil.
  2. Separate the head of garlic into cloves and slightly crush each clove with the flat end of a knife. Drop the slightly crushed cloves into the boiling water with the rest of the ingredients and bring water to a gentle boil.
  3. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 1 hour. Strain. Taste and adjust salt as desired.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Restaurant Rave: Joy Yee's Noodle Shop -- Chicago

Chicago, like any big city, has its fair share of good restaurants.

Joy Yee's Noodle Shop is one of them.

I've been to the Joy Yee's in Chinatown twice, and I have never been disappointed. Joy Yee's is a Pan-Asian restaurant that is famous for its bubble drinks and for its phenomenal food presentation.

If you're not quite familiar with Asian cuisine, or if you are having trouble deciding what to get, Joy Yee's takes the guess work out of ordering. Every dish they serve is shown, picture form, in their extensive menu. The one catch to this, is, that with so many choices (and so many pictures) you may get bombarded. It is best to come with friends; this way, everyone can order a different dish and share. Having friends with you can also help you from getting too stuffed-- the portion sizes are hefty.

The Joy Yee's in Chinatown is located in the China Plaza and can get quite busy-- and quite crowded. To compensate for popular demand, the restaurant provides small, square, black tables that can be arranged to provide for large or intimate groups of people. Beware that you may find yourself sitting too close to other patrons from other tables.

Don't forget to order one of their famous bubble drinks. They are a perfect way to complement a perfect Asian meal. Overall, Joy Yee's is very affordable with entree prices ranging from $8-$20; if you want to try some of their more extravagant seafood dishes, your check will depend on the market price of the fish. Joy Yee's is a great way to end a day in Chicago, to relax with good friends, or to just enjoy a fantastic meal.

Food for thought: Mr. Barack Obama

So we now have a new president elect: Barack Obama.

I was not glued to my television-- like so many others-- for election coverage last night. Instead, I engaged in the art of baking peanut butter cookies from a well-loved recipe. I found out about our new president this November morning from my neighbor's children; the kids were on their way to the bus stop chanting: "Bama Bama! Bama Bama!." later confirmed my suspicion that our new president was the Democratic nominee.

I am not a political person. The one thing that really gets my blood flowing is when people are closeminded-- about food (yes, you CAN put salt on cherries and it is DELICIOUS.) All I really heard about Barack Obama is that he is out to make changes... and that he lived in Hawaii for a period of time. All I really have to say is this: as long as I can still bake peanut butter cookies, hear the kids in my neighborhood frolic, carefree, to the bus stop, and know that my world and the world of the people around me can keep turning--without threat--then, Mr. President, you are OK by me.

Congratulations to Barack Obama. Let's hear it for the President of the United States.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Best Recipe: Gumbo

After living in New Orleans for a year, I have found an appreciation for Cajun cooking. Cajun food, quite frankly, is not the prettiest of cuisines (true Gumbo is actually dirty brown in color,) but the flavors will warm you up, body and soul.

This particular Gumbo recipe is an amalgamation of several that I have picked up--which is in essence what makes good Gumbo. So cook, serve, and let the good times roll.

1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup flour
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp chili powder
2 large bay leaves
3 cloves chopped garlic
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 cups diced green bell peppers
1 cup diced red bell peppers
1 cup boiled rice
1 package frozen okra
2 cans chicken broth
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cups boiled crawfish tails, or, raw shrimp (or both)

Rinse 1 cup of rice and boil until cooked. Drain and set aside.

Heat the chicken broth on medium-low heat in a medium pot

On medium-high heat, cook the roux (what thickens the gumbo) in a separate large pot by heating the oil and slowly adding the flour. Cook until the roux has developed a reddish-brown color.

Add the salt, black pepper, chili powder, garlic, onions, and peppers to the roux. Cook until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add the diced tomatoes (with the liquid) and the chicken broth to the vegetables. Add the bay leaves. Put on medium-low heat, cover and let sit for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Remove cover and add the okra and seafood. Recover and let sit for 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Once the seafood has cooked, remove the bay leaves. Put the boiled rice in bowls. Serve gumbo over rice.



Thursday, October 9, 2008

Baking: Why Madeleines are Like Girls with P.M.S.

Alright, so French cooking (as I know it) is the most exacting of all cuisines. French recipes are probably (once again, as I know it,) the most difficult recipes to follow and-- more importantly-- get right.

Case in point: Madeleine Cakes.

Madeleines, also know as petites madeleines, are little shell-shaped sponge cakes (often called cookies) that (when done right) are springy in texture and buttery in flavor; sometimes lemony depending on the recipe. These little morsels are delicious, but they are so hard to make.

Here are some little tidbits that I have picked up from experimenting with these suckers:
1. Time it right. You have to be precise when baking madeleines; leave them in too short and they don't get the nice golden color they should have, leave them in too long and you get brown hockey pucks.

2. Always butter and powder the pans in between batches; this way you get consistent coloring with all your madeleines.

If anyone has anymore, please let me know. I love these deserts. I hate the aggravation.


Restaurant Rave: Sushi Avenue

There is one particular sushi joint in my neck of the woods that is absolutely fabulous: Sushi Avenue.

It is located on Green Street in Champaign, where the old Dorcas Korean place used to be. If you're sad or suicidal about Dorcas not being there anymore, not to worry; Sushi Avenue has kept the old Dorcas menu for those craving some Jab Chae with their spicy tuna roll.

Sushi Avenue offers a great lunch special: 2 sushi rolls, miso soup, and salad for $11.28 (including tax.) You get your choice of one basic sushi roll (these include, but are not limited to, spicy tuna, spicy salmon, and, cucumber) and one of the house specials. Now, the house specials are not your typical run of the mill sushi rolls; they are unique to Sushi Avenue and utilize traditional (and not so traditional) sushi ingredients to create mouthwatering sensations. My personal favorite is Hell. You can even sample your favorite cities; try a Las Vegas roll, or a New York roll. Heck, you can even sample Champaign, or Urbana--in your mouth.

So roll down to Sushi Avenue sometime. They redefine why sushi is so amazing.