Friday Food

Home-made marinade: Real, good, and gluten-free

friday food marinades 730x547 Home made marinade:

If you’ve been following along on my food journey, you might remember that at the last stop I realized the need to learn some cooking fundamentals. An improvised quinoa dish got me realizing that the ability to improvise is the thing that will keep us well-fed.

I decided to start my education with something simple:  marinade.

Why marinade?

For starters, grilling is great for a non-cook like me. It’s easy and it’s easy to make things that taste good.

grilled tenderloin 730x547 Home made marinade:

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How to pick wine like a boss Our sure-fire system for getting the perfect bottle every time

wine2 730x576 How to pick wine like a boss

Way back in the day when I was a waiter at a fancy shmancy restaurant in downtown Portland, I’d often have to recommend wine to go with whatever customers ordered. To help us out with that, we’d actually have representatives from different wineries come out and do presentations to the wait staff and we’d get to taste all the wine and talk about how to pair it with food. The chef would break out the menu and sometime even prepare some food.

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This is the Heathman Hotel restaurant where I worked. It had a French chef and everything.

We’d hear all about how the wine was made. We’d hear about oak barrels and wine blending and aging. We’d learn some great adjectives for describing wine tastes.

Apparently the more bizarre the description you use the more you sound like you know what you are talking about. So descriptions like “3 day old Cheerios” or “Tootsie Roll dusted with cinnamon” would be great wine descriptions. The more wacky and awesome your description was, the more the wine representatives would smile and nod with delight.

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Do these remind you of a big, hearty Cabernet Sauvignon? Me either, but the wine reps ate this kind of thing up. (The description, not the Cheerios.)

When it came to food pairings there were all kinds of rules. Hearty wines like Cab went well with hearty foods like steak. Sweet white went with spicy. Don’t remember much else, but suffice it to say there were a lot of them to wade through to get it right.

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This meal would call for a red wine.

Mostly, though, I found that most people really didn’t know anything and you only needed to SOUND like an authority to pull it off. So I memorized a few rules and had some sweet descriptions I could pull out to describe the wine if needed.

Trouble was, it all tasted the same to me because I didn’t drink enough of it to develop a wine palette. If there really was anything to the whole pairing wine with food business I never really figured it out. I was just good at faking it. I suspect many people are faking it, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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Here's Rita and kids pretending to be snooty wine drinkers last Christmas. (No, we don't give our kids wine. They prefer soda.)

Still, even if you get over the idea that choosing wine is a special science, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do it. There’s a lot of bottles on a lot of shelves in most stores. How do you figure out which one to take home with you?

Rita and I have managed to develop a system for wine selection that works great for us. If–like me–you’ve ever had trouble with the traditional method of understanding grape variety, wine growing regions, vintages, growing seasons, and food pairings, you might want to try our simplified system. More →

Time to stop eating like a toddler Our new Friday Food feature

Wednesday morning I had a little hissy fit.

I was late for work, we were out of milk for my granola, and my lunch was going to be lame.

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My sad little bowl of granola, sans milk.

It was a near-tears hissy, and it wasn’t really because Cane had used the last of the milk and “I just wish someone else would think to pick up groceries sometimes!”–but it felt like that at the time.

It was because I was hungry, and there was no food. Or rather, no food I could eat.

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And I was really hungry, because the night before I’d had a dinner as lame as the lunch I was packing (which was left over from the dinner).

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Rice with some peppers, onion, and celery. That's it.

And more than being hungry, I was pissed. Really pissed–because I was hungry and tired of eating lame food.  But it wasn’t really hunger or lame food that had me pissed.

All of it–the hissy, the pissy, and the near-tears–was because that’s what happens when walls of denial come tumbling down.

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Image by toolmantim via compfight @

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