Monday, October 29, 2012

Kentucky Proud Incredible Food Show 2012

With an empty belly and a camera in tow, I was in foodie heaven.

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This past weekend was Kentucky Proud Incredible Food Show where locally-owned food companies and restaurants put their best dish forward for a hungry Lexington crowd. I missed the event last year due to work, but like a foodie should, I count down to this year's. Jake was kindly enough to agree to come with me, after a promise of purchasing his ticket and a gourmet lunch. I like to tell people, "I live to eat, not eat to live".

The man of the hour, Tyler Florence.

Due to a prolonged car maintenance earlier Saturday morning, I missed Tyler Florence's talk. Not going to lie, I am not a celebrity chef fan. I attended a cooking demonstration with Chef Rick Bayless in Madison, Wisconsin, I can't say that much of his talk "inspired" me to be a better cook. I guess part of listening to a celebrity chef talk is what? How un-foodie-like of me to say.

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Here's my favorite Kentucky Proud product, Sadistic Mistress Sauces. I don't know how she does it all, make these savory-but-too-hot-for-me hot sauces yet still come up with the best sauce names.

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I knew I was in Kentucky when I couldn't remember how many samples of beer cheese on crackers and bourbon-flavored-of-some-sauce on bread/cracker/pretzel that I tried.

Does every condiment/food have to be bourbon barrel-something?

 Hmmm...Kentucky Silk Pie. It was silky and heavenly.

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The line Glier's Goetta was hard to miss. It was the first time I had goetta, which has my favorite breakfast food oatmeal in it. It was love at first bite. Interesting texture yet deliciously enough for grill-out.

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I love that all food items at the show were all Kentucky-related. The chefs and food products makers were so proud to display and share their success with everyone. Even though Lexington is not what most people considered as foodie city (think foodie-snob cities like Aspen, San Francisco, New York), I was so happy to learn how proud the Kentuckians are with food. Incredibly, food is something that bring people together.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup

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One of my favorite things about Fall is making egg noodles for chicken noodle soup. Who would ever think that chicken noodle soup is the go-to comfort food when it's raining and cold outside or for those with the cold. I got my noodle maker two Christmases ago, and it only appears on the kitchen counter once or twice a year. It's hard to weight out whether I should go with the fun and flavor of homemade noodles or the 99 cents pasta in the grocery store. Usually the cheap pasta wins.

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I learned how to make noodles from Jake's grandmother. It was at her house and the whole noodle making process took 4 hours, including 2 hours of euchre in between. According to Jake's grandmother, the noodles needed to be "leathery" before they can be cooked in salty salty water.

Two hours of euchre while waiting for the noodle to dry up to "leathery" texture was actually enjoyable. Since moving to Lexington, Jake and I have not had much chance to be with our family. It was a day and a delicious meal that I would not trade anything for. Every year, I love the fun of making noodle with Jake.

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I have always admired home cooks who would spend the time and effort chopping up onion, celery, and carrots, and dealing with chicken bones and scrapes to make the essence of kitchen: chicken stock. Smitten kitchen recently wrote a post on chicken noodle stock and I drooled over the perfect looking chick stock. For 1) I don't have a stock pot or enough storage space in my small apartment-issued refrigerator, and 2) dealing with bone-in chicken is not my forte.

Regardless, I will take any chance to make homemade noodles.  This noodle recipe seems easy, and there are probably thousands of the same kind on, but this one is closest to my heart. Especially with a bowl of chicken soup.

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Homemade Noodles

2.5 cups all purpose flour
3 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water

1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
2. Mix until combine, add more water or flour as needed until a dough is formed.
3. Divide dough into equal parts, large enough to go through the noodle maker. Make noodle according to noodle maker instructions.
4. Boil water in a large stock pot with plenty of salt. Add noodle and boil until cooked, about 10 minutes.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


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In Lexington

It's that time of the year 

When the rings set off 

The gates open 

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And they go!

Fast and around

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People cheer, waving papers in the air

Thump, thump, and thump

There they run
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Cheers are louder

And the scene gets wilder

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The winner is...

The one you didn't see

Monday, October 15, 2012

Perryville Battlefield

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One of my favorite part of living in Kentucky is being closer to historic sites and lots of living history events. Although not quite like Philadelphia and Boston, I love the small historical towns and monuments around this city.

Last weekend we went to Civil Reeactment at Perryville Battlefield. It was the 150th anniversary since the battle was fought between the Unions and the Confederates. On Saturday, there were over 2000 reenactors on the battlefield. It was quite a scene that tested my photography skills.

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My mom was visiting me from Hong Kong last weekend. While I thought the reenactment was really cool, she didn't see the "need" for men to dress up and shoot each other with powder. Regardless, it was a beautiful fall day for great photo-ops. These photos are probably the most interesting ones in my picture folders other than hundreds of food ones.

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In some places, in order to be an re-enactor, one has to has ancestors who fought in the Civil War. There were even families in Perryville dressed in period customs and stayed in character the entire weekend. I guess some like to take pictures of food, some enjoy living in 1860s lifestyle. Even if you are not a history person, I highly recommend going to one of these events.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Black Bean Tomato Kale Quinoa

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As crazy as it sounds, I never had quinoa (KEEN-wah, not qui-noa) until this summer. I only heard about it the last couple years, somehow this ancient grain made its comeback and became one of the "superfoods". Quinoa is not only a great whole grain (fiber!) alternative to the common ones like brown rice and barley, but also good source of protein. However, the price of quinoa is insane than its counterparts. I got a pound of quinoa in one box for $5. I do love the texture of and mouth feel of quinoa.

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Today is the last day of my week long rotation WI. I have learned more than I needed to know about the colors of babies' poop, how to transition from breast milk to whole milk, introducing infants new foods, and lots more about babies. I saw too many bare breasts during breast feeding sessions, and I now know the difference between colostrum and milk. Maybe one day all this information will make sense to me. Community nutrition offers such a variety. It's not just about nutrition, but also lots of social- and environmental-related issues. Regardless, I loved every part of this rotation. This definitely gave me more insight on what I want to do as a dietitian.

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The chili powder and green chiles gives this dish a bit of heat, but the kale gives the dish a more "earthy" feel. At least it was how I felt when I had it, I could never figure out how the judges on Top Chef come up with all the descriptive words for one dish. Note for this recipe, look for prewashed quinoa. I made the mistake of trying to wash these teeny tiny grains, needless to say, I probably wasted a good amount of it.

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Simmer, simmer, simmer...

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 Black Bean Tomato Kale Quinoa

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup quinoa (uncooked), rinsed or prewashed
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 3/4 cup vegetable broth, low sodium
1 (4.5 ounce) can diced green chilis
2 medium tomato, diced or 1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup kale, torn into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro
Kosher or sea salt to taste

 1. In a large skillet add olive oil, turn to medium-low heat and saute diced onions until tender, about 4 minutes, add garlic and saute one additional minute. 
2. Add the remaining ingredients in the order listed above until tomatoes. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low boil and cook 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. 
3. Add in kale the last 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit 5 minutes covered before serving. Fluff quinoa with a large spoon and serve with cilantro.

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Butternut Squash Sage Soup

It's fall!! I love this time of the year when the weather isn't cold enough that I don't want to go outside, but cool enough for comfort food. Another reasons to celebrate fall, pumpkin picking/carving and watching Nightmare Before Christmas. Recently I became obsessed with this super easy pumpkin pudding, although I wish I have more time to make the real stuff.  I was pretty excited that I got a butternut squash from CSA, along with a bunch of sage. I have only used fresh sage on Thanksgiving turkey as a spice rub. A quick search on butternut squash + sage gave me lots of recipes, apparently these two are a great combination together.

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By the way, remember my photo trouble from last week? After a couple days of panicking and frantic googling, I downloaded this free program that is specifically designed to recover lost files. I got majority of my pictures back, pre-edited and edited. Some pictures are just lost forever. I am still sorting through another 1800+ pictures.

Mental note, back up all pictures and files.
Repeat, back up everything.

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This soup came out thick and creamy-like without using heavy cream, and the sage favor blends in perfectly. Best serve with a thick slice of homemade bread.

Tomorrow I begin another community nutrition rotation at WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) of Huntington, I have been anxious to see what it would be like. More on my dietetics adventure later this week.

Soup's on!

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Butternut Squash Sage Soup
Recipe adapted from

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
4 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled seeded butternut squash
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 garlic clove, minced
5 to 6 cups vegetable stock
1. Melt butter with oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, parsley, and sage; sauté until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. 
2. Add squash and coarse salt; sauté until squash softens and onions are golden, about 6 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. 
3. Add 5 cups stock; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until squash is very soft, about 25 minutes. Cool slightly.
Working in batches, puree soup in blender, allowing some texture to remain. Return soup to pot. Thin with stock, if desired. Season with pepper and more salt, if desired. 

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