Saturday, August 28, 2010


Race recap to come, but I wanted to give a huge shout-out to this girl, who rocked her first triathlon!!  Hopefully she'll want to do another one with me sometime ;)

Enjoy the weekend and don't forget about my giveaway!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

2 Years & CSN

Oops, I did it again ;)  It's been two years since I started Tri to Cook-- I can hardly believe it!!  It's a little scary to go back and look at some of those old posts and photographs (don't do it ;)), but it is nice to see that I've been able to improve a bit since then.

I have the perfect way to celebrate too, courtesy of CSN.  You remember CSN, right?   The gifter of an ice cream maker and bamboo cutting board.  Every order I've placed has come faster than expected and without any issues, so I've been pleased to say the least.   Well, this may be the best deal yet... this time I've got a $90 gift card for one of my readers!!

The Alessi Colombina collection

To enter the giveaway: check out the dinnerware sets at CSN and let me know which one is your favorite!  (yes, I check, so go look at their site!!)  Contest will end Sept 1, 8pm.  Don't be fooled, it's next week...  eek!

And I know I still haven't told you where I went to see such amazing wildlife, but a few of you guessed it--Alaska!   While I upload some of them for a recap post, I'll share another one of my favorites :)

Johns Hopkins Glacier

Monday, August 23, 2010

Summer Squash Soup

I almost forgot about this soup until my cousin's wife was telling me about her summer squash bounty.  With the rainy days we have in store here in Boston, it seems like the perfect time to whip up another batch!

This soup took me completely by surprise!  The ingredients sounded so simple but the flavors married to create something much more complex.  And the cumin browned butter.  Wow.  Absolutely delicious.  I'm sure you'll find many uses if there's any left over ;)

Summer Squash Soup
adapted from 101 cookbooks
Serves 2-3 (small bowls)

This could certainly be scaled up to accommodate any bounty of summer squash you may have ;)

1/2t cumin seeds
2T butter
fine grain sea salt
~1T butter, olive oil, or combination
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 roasted garlic cloves (I had these on hand, could certainly use 1 clove of raw garlic, minced)
1/2lb small yukon gold potatoes, cut so uniform size
3/4lb summer squash, cut in half then sliced (ending up with halfmoons)
1 1/2c  stock(veggie or chicken)/water, or more if necessary
1/2c buttermilk

Heat a small skillet over medium heat.  Add cumin seeds and toast until they are fragrant.  Set aside, then grind (spice/coffee grinder, mortar and pestle...).  In the skillet used to toast the cumin, melt butter and cook until browned and smells amazing.  Remove from heat and stir in the cumin along with a pinch of salt.  Set aside in a warm place so it remains liquid for serving.

For the soup, heat butter/oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.  Add onion and a dash of salt.  Saute until onions get translucent.  Stir in potatoes and squash (and garlic, if raw) and cook until the squash starts to soften up, ~10min.  Add in enough stock to just cover the squash and potatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, ~20-30min.  Remove from the heat and puree (blender, hand blender, food processor...  just be careful when hot!).  Stir in the buttermilk, taste and add more salt if necessary.  Adjust consistency with more stock if desired.  Serve topped with cumin butter.

Any more good ideas for summer squash??  I'm thinking it could totally go into some sort of cake like zucchini...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Giveaway Winner

Just a quick post to announce the winner of my giveaway...   and the random number generator picked #4--Congrats Joanne!!  Shoot me an email and I'll get the book out to you.  To everyone else, I'd highly recommend The Blind Pig and hope you enjoy it as much as I did :)

(click image to enlarge)

I also wanted to apologize for my absence around your blogs...  I've been on vacation this past week and have alot to catch up on!  I'll be back soon, though, promise ;)   From the pictures of my trip above, do you have any guesses as to where I was??

Edited to add:  Do these photos look alright to you??  They always look fine on my laptop, but I've noticed at work that they look quite dark, so I thought I'd check.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pineapple Slaw

Inspired by the slaw I had after my race a few weeks back, I set out to create a pineapple slaw to go with the burgers I had unearthed from the depths of my freezer.   I used canned pineapple, so it wasn't as noticeable as I wanted it to be.   Still good, but feel free to play around with proportions and flavors to suit your tastebuds!

Pineapple Slaw
Recipe by Shannon

This is a lightly dressed slaw-- if you prefer a little more body, add more yogurt and a little less buttermilk.

1 12oz pkg of broccoli slaw (could also use regular coleslaw mix)
1c shredding carrots (~5oz)
2-8oz cans of crushed pineapple, drained (might even want more than this, or chunks)
1T poppyseeds
3-4T raisins
3-4T chopped walnuts
1/2c buttermilk
3T mayo (I have an olive-oil one that hides in my fridge for a rainy day)
3T cider vinegar
1T honey
salt/pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, combine dressing ingredients (buttermilk through honey).  Whisk together, taste and adjust seasonings (salt and pepper).  Add the slaw ingredients and toss well to combine.

I've also recently tried out Deb's Mango Slaw w/Cashews and Mint, and apparently am loving the fruit addition :)

Do you have a favorite slaw recipe??

Don't forget, a few more days left to enter my giveaway!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Zucchini Summer

While I'm always eager to pick up zucchini this time of year,  when I spied some zucchini blossoms at an orchard a couple weekends ago I couldn't put them in my cart fast enough!   While I had seen them before, this was my first time giving them a try.

I stuffed them (w/goat cheese, roasted garlic and basil)

I put them on a pizza (w/ zucchini and a goat cheese/pesto "sauce")

I tried them in a pasta sauce.  And I felt like I never really tasted them.   Not sure what they're supposed to taste like, but I wouldn't go out of my way to get them again.   Ah well, at least I can say I tried!

Instead I'll continue to jump into the zucchini bounty to make more pizza...

...make more Savory Zucchini Bread
...and combine them with amazing corn to make fritters!

Zucchini Corn Fritters
adapted from Serious Eats
Serves 2-3

2c shredded zucchini
1/2t salt
1 lg egg
1 lg egg white
kernels from 1 ear of corn
1/2c thinly sliced spring onions
2T Daregal Fresh Frozen Original herb blend (cilantro, parsley, or whatever you have on hand)
1/4c +2T white whole wheat flour
freshly ground black pepper

Place shredded zucchini in colander in the sink over a bowl and sprinkle with salt.  Toss to combine and let drain 10-15min.

Mix egg and egg white with a fork in a medium bowl.  Add corn kernels, onion, herbs, flour and pepper.  Squeeze as much liquid from zucchini as you can (with your hands) and add to the bowl.  Mix well.

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat.  You might need to add a little oil to the pan.   Depending on the size of your pan, add 2-4 heaping spoonfuls of fritter mix to the pan and cook 2-4min on each side, until nicely browned.   Repeat until you have used all of your batter.

I enjoyed these with some chipotle cream (1/2-1T chipotle/adobo sauce mixed with ~1/2c greek yogurt)!

Have you ever tried squash blossoms??  Yay or nay??    How about your favorite zucchini recipe this summer?

Don't forget to enter my giveaway!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Blind Pig

It might not be evident these days, but I used to be quite the book worm when I was younger.  I don't know that I could describe my 'taste' in literature, but it ranges from more serious, science-y type books to entertaining beach reads.  A friend of mine recently gave me a copy of The Blind Pig by Elizabeth Dougherty.  It satisfied the scientist and foodie in me and I couldn't put it down!!

Since I really enjoyed the book, I hope you will too!  Luckily I was able to interview Beth and am going to give away a copy of the book!   Read the interview below and contest details at the bottom of the post.  It was great to get to know Beth a bit more, and I think you'll get a good taste of what the book is about from her answers.

What made you decide to write The Blind Pig?
I had just started working as a science writer in Boston and I was pretty blown away by how quickly genetic engineering and synthetic biology were moving.  I was also overwhelmed by the public health problems that medicine is trying to solve.  At the same time, I lived way out of town in a 200 year-old farmhouse, so there was sort of a culture shock between my work-life and home-life.  Out here, things are quiet and we worry about whether or not the tractor is going to start more than about whether the country will go bankrupt taking care of an unhealthy population.  That's not completely true, but you get the idea.

Anyway, I had a 2-hour (each way) commute on the train, so I just started writing, kind of as therapy.  I used to be an engineer, so I'm a natural problem solver, and my brain just started applying all of these incredible new discoveries and technologies to solving our public health problems.  Once I had the idea for the NArc, the cultural tension between the modern city and the old-fashioned country helped me find the plot.  And once I had some momentum, I kept going because writing this book was really a lot of fun.
How did you come up with the title?
I'm embarrassed to say that I got the title straight out of Wikipedia.  I had this idea to have speakeasies play a role in the book, so one day I just looked them up to start learning more about them.  When I saw that a 'Blind Pig' was another name for a speakeasy, it just clicked. It worked on so many levels but didn't hit you over the head.

At the time, I also was in the middle of an obsession with lard.  I was baking with it -- biscuits, pie crusts -- and rendering it myself.  I was visiting pig farms and small slaughterhouses to learn more about pigs.  The whole story in the book about the tubs of lard the USDA researchers tipped over that Herb tells Angela is actually true.  And in a completely non-scientific taste test I did with friends, the lard-based pie crusts were voted flakiest and tastiest.  Did you know that the pig is considered to be 'nature's refrigerator'?  People used to use pigs as 'larders' -- they'd stuff them with food to fatten them, then eat them over the winter.

But maybe that's just too much information!
What was the most surprising/disturbing thing you discovered when doing research for the book?
I think I'm most disturbed and surprised at how often people have forwarded me news articles about things happening right now that foreshadow some of the futuristic things in the book.  People are growing artificial meats, they are linking engineered organs together to make working bodily systems, they are growing gardens on the sides of skyscrapers, and they are making health-monitoring systems that people carry with them everywhere and that report back to doctors.  People are even developing expert systems to help doctors interpret personal genomes for patients.  It's eerie.  Of course, we have no idea what the future may hold, but if we aren't paying attention, we might not like where we end up.

Have you changed the way you eat since writing the book?
Yes!  During and since writing this, I've spent a lot of time growing food myself.  I enjoy it and it tastes good.  I have also developed an appreciation for just how hard it is.  I cannot imagine being completely self-sustaining.  I also sometimes buy meat from local farmers.  It's a challenge because cooking this food is more work than cooking convenient cuts of meat from the grocery store.

At the same time, I've been thinking a lot about how food affects me -- especially since I'm a runner -- so I've sort of NArc'd myself.  I did an elimination diet and now I actually have a pretty strict diet because certain foods -- especially sugar and wheat -- just get me down.  This is a drag, since I love making pastry, but I allow myself to cheat sometimes.  Luckily the only fine I pay is in feeling bad!  So mostly I eat pretty simple food.  Meat.  Rice.  Quinoa.  Vegetables.  Fruit.  I really should move to a place where almonds, apricots and olives grow because they make up a huge part of my diet.  South of France, here I come!

And since you're a runner...  what's your favorite way to fuel for a long run?
Geez, you had to ask that, didn't you?  Ok.  I'll admit it.  For a long run, I eat engineered food.  Specifically, Clif Bars.  Peanut toffee buzz is my favorite.  I actually think they're pretty yucky, but they are filling enough to keep me going.  I sometimes make oatmeal, but I don't like to do anything that gets me feeling too cozy before a long run.  There's a risk I'll just curl up on the couch with a book instead, especially if it's snowing.  And during any run that's longer than 90 minutes, I eat Clif Blocks and bring water along in my CamelBack.  The blocks are also pretty gross, but they are, in my opinion, thousands of times better than goo.

Wow, so articulate.  I guess I should expect that from an author ;)  Thanks Beth!!

To enter to win a copy of The Blind Pig, all you have to do comment and tell me your favorite book of the summer!  Contest will run until 10am Sunday August 15th.

Do you know what you're eating?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Raspberry-Fig Goat Cheesecake Bars

Before I get to the cheesecake, I just wanted to say thanks for all your comments on my tri posts!   My xray revealed no stress fracture or bone spur, so that is good news.  I got the go ahead to try a little bit of running again to see how things feel, so *fingers crossed* things will go alright!

Inspired by a frozen yogurt recipe, I had been waiting for the day that I would find both fresh figs and raspberries at the same time.  I liked the idea of this combination and knew it would be perfect on top of cheesecake!   I thought they turned out really well and hopefully we'll get some testers to speak up in the comments ;)

Raspberry-Fig Goat Cheesecake Bars
Recipe by Shannon
Yield:  9x13 pan, # will depend on how big you cut them!

There are a few steps to making this cheesecake, but the puree and crust can be made ahead!

For the Puree:
3.5oz fresh figs, halved (~1/2c)
4.5oz raspberries (~1c)
~2T evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)

For the crust:
1 sleeve low-fat graham crackers (or 4.5oz of your favorite variety)
1/2c rolled oats
2T evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)
1/4c white whole wheat flour
3T butter, melted
4T almond milk (more if needed)

For the Cheesecake:
12oz goat cheese  (or 11oz, if that's the size of your package)
2-8oz pkg Nufatchel (1/3 less fat cream cheese)
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 1/2t vanilla
1 1/4c evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)
4 eggs  (next time I might try 2 eggs and 1/2c egg whites)

For the fig puree, combine figs and raspberries in the bowl of a food processor (or blender).  Puree, taste, and add sugar 1T at a time.  Depending on how ripe the fruit is, the amount you add will vary.  Set aside.  (This makes ~3/4c)

For the crust, preheat oven to 350.   Combine graham crackers, oats, sugar, flour and butter in the bowl of a food processor (or blender).  Blend until finely ground.  Add milk and pulse until completely moistened, you may need more milk.

Pour the graham cracker mixture into a 9x13 pan sprayed with nonstick spray and press evenly into the bottom.   Bake for 10min, then cool on a rack for at least 20min.

For the cheesecake, reduce oven temp to 325.  Cream together goat cheese, cream cheese, lemon zest and juice and vanilla. Add in sugar in two additions, beating until mixture is creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Continue to mix until very smooth.

Pour cheesecake mix into prepared crust and spread evenly.  Add the raspberry-fig puree on top of the cheesecake and swirl around using a knife.  There's no rhyme or reason, just get creative!  Bake 50-60min, until the edges look set and the center is a bit jiggly.  Cool completely in the pan.  Then cut into whatever sizes you prefer (I went with ~1" squares).

The original instructions said to refrigerate it for at least 6 hours before serving, but we enjoyed them pretty much right after baking...  I think everyone liked them anyways :)  They also hold up well in the freezer, and are tasty frozen, too!

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