Saturday, November 28, 2009

boston eats, featuring wijm

yeah i know, i totally blew it on my one post a day challenge. what can i say -- it was totally exhausting and once i stopped posting everyday it was hard to even start back up. and seth and i hosted two of our friends for thanksgiving so i was very preoccupied with preparation. stay tuned for blogging about that epic meal and the doings with all the leftovers.
for now enjoy this boston eats video restaurant review seth and i did with my friend sarah when we were in boston in mid-november. it was at this really fantastic chinese restaurant. but i will let the clip speak for itself. hopefully there will soon be a boston eats visits portland!
shanghai gate
oh yeah sarah also recently did this review that i failed to post:
coast cafe

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

processed foods and depression

this blogging everyday thing is really hard. so i'm taking the easy way out tonight and pointing you to an interesting article about how processed foods and depression are linked. in reference to my last post this really makes a lot of sense to me. cuz i also treat a ton of depression and anxiety and naturally some of those folks who are eating mcdonalds every day are the ones i'm treating for depression.
going to be in boston for the next 4 days at a big primary care conference. maybe i will eat some great meals and blog about them...

Monday, November 9, 2009

its an epidemic

a large part of my job as a primary care provider is managing chronic health conditions. what that usually means is managing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high sugar before and after it results in diabetes. all of these conditions can, for the most part, be avoided by living a healthy lifestyle. yet they are some of the most common things i treat.
tomorrow i have two people on my schedule, each of whom i diagnosed with diabetes with sugars in the 400s. since an initial diagnosis of diabetes is made when sugars hit a mere 126, this means they have had untreated diabetes for many years. on top of that diabetes takes years and years to develop, all along causing irreversible damage to your body. for those of you that don't know, diabetes causes strokes, heart attacks, blindness, kidney failure, erectile dysfunction, and its the leading cause of leg amputation. does any of that sound fun to you? it surely doesn't sound fun to me.
so its really hard for me to get why that guy on friday, who watched his dad lose limbs and then his life to diabetes, didn't really care when i told him he was on the verge of developing diabetes. he couldn't understand why he had a problem with his sugars, when he never ate lunch. but every morning, EVERY MORNING, he gets a sausage mcmuffin, coffee, and an orange juice from mcdonalds. he couldn't begin to wrap his mind around why orange juice was not a healthy choice for a person like him. even though i was reviewing many ways in which he could make positive changes to his diet he just kept saying, "i've never heard that orange juice was bad for you."
and here's another thing, if you weigh over 300 pounds, why would you argue with me that you get enough exercise walking around at work? you clearly don't get enough exercise. i don't solely blame these people though i do think some god dammed personal responsibility is in order here! i blame a society that makes the worst food the cheapest. that makes us feel that we are not satiated unless we are completely stuffed. that is set up for us to drive our cars everywhere instead of walking or riding bikes. that cuts physical education from schools.
if you are reading this right now you know i really like food and i eat a lot of it. i don't not exercise as much as i should but i do actually move my body on a regular basis. and i eat GOOD food! i think most of the food that my patients are eating is disgusting -- white bread! egg sandwiches from the gas station! mountain dew! without sounding like michael pollan i have to ask if these are really even food!
i don't want you to think i am a heartless care provider because i am not. but as the obesity epidemic is at the intersection of two things i am very passionate about, food and health, i can get a little worked up.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

fine italian food in ghana?

when i was living in ghana we would often take weekend trips to this amazing little beach about forty minutes outside of accra, called kokrobite. at this beach there was this amazing guest house run by a british woman and her ghanaian husband called big milly's backyard. it is the standard to which i have held all guest houses in foreign countries at which i have stayed. you had your choice of accommodations from free standing cottages, to rooms in a block, to spaces to lay your sleeping bag and a trunk to lock your stuff in. all bathrooms were shared, there was no running water, and unpredictable electricity. everything was situated around a open-air bar and the ocean was only yards away. everything you ate and drank was put on a tab, so you had to be careful not to have too good of a time or you may not have enough money come pay time. they cooked three meals a day there and you elected to partake in each of the meals. since there was very few other options in kokrobite at that time, most meals were eaten at big milly's, with a giant star beer to wash down the super fresh fish, and lots of young foreigners to trade travel stories with.

there was one other dinner option. an italian man named franco had decided to ride his motorcycle through west africa. when he landed at kokrobite he decided to stay and open and italian restaurant. he was just opening it the year i was living in ghana and each meal i ate there was progressively more refined. he set up a small kitchen hut and built tables under palm frond umbrellas. the first couple times i ate there he was both cook and waiter. but as both big milly's and his place became more popular he hired kids from the village to work with him.
my favorite dish was spaghetti al tonno. a simple dish of onions, garlic, tomatoes and tuna, it was just so delicious. franco used the locally canned starkist tuna in oil as a substitute for italian tuna in olive oil. the ghanaian version is heavy and fishy and gave the dish as strong and rich flavor.

i think about this pasta dish and those amazing weekends at kokrobite. through the internet i have been able to see how this small fishing village has grown and attracted more and more tourists. the good news is that there are just not that many tourists in ghana. i crave the taste of that dish and wish for it to take me back to those moments when i was 20 years old and living in such a foreign land as a foreigner.

about a month ago we went to dinner at paciarino and they had spaghetti al tonno on the menu. i ordered immediately thinking i was going to indulge in franco's pasta dish. in no was this rendition bad. the fresh homemade pasta had a great texture and bite and the sauce was tasty. but i could barley taste, see, or feel the tuna in the sauce. i just ended feeling like i had a great marinara sauce. and it left this place in my heart and stomach just aching for the real deal.

so recently, as i was perusing my father-in-law's cookbooks and i found a recipe for spaghetti al tonno in cucina ebraica, flavors of the italian jewish kitchen, i knew i had to make it. the final product this evening was exactly the soul satisfying dish i had been longing for. the hardest part of the whole thing is waiting for the water to boil. so try it out some night soon for an easy and delicious meal.

spaghetti al tonno

1 pound long pasta
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
12 salt-packed anchovies, filleted, rinsed and very finely chopped, or 24 olive oil-packed fillets (about one 3-ounce jar), drained and very finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
6 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 can (6 ounces) olive oil-packed tuna, preferably italian, drained and broken up
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
1 to 2 cups chopped canned plum tomatoes (according to the recipe this is optional but according to my memory totally necessary and i just used one 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes)
grated zest of 1 lemon (again optional in the recipe and i omitted it)
freshly ground black peeper to taste.

bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in the pasta, stir well, and cook until al dente.
meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. add the onion and saute until tender and translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. add the anchovies, garlic, and parsley and cook for 1 minute. and the tuna and capers and the tomatoes and lemon zest, and cook until warm, about 2 minutes.
drain the pasta and add to the sauce in the pan. toss well to coat, then stir for a minute or two to flavor the pasta with the sauce. sprinkle with pepper and serve immediately.

Friday, November 6, 2009

hi bombay

i love love love indian food. every time i eat it i dream about the day when i will touch my feet down on the earth of the sub-continent. it is just so complex in its tastiness. much of indian food is very saucy and i love sauces. so much so that seth calls me a sauce whore. i'm really quite indiscriminate about what kind of sauce, i just want volume.
i also love to get indian food for take out and that's what we did tonight. i don't know why i love it for take out. maybe because it just seems so decadent to eat in your pajamas in front of the tv.
seth called and placed the order and i swung by on my way home from work. we have eaten at hi bombay many times before and i really enjoy the weirdness of watching bollywood on a plasma tv while eating saag paneer and drinking king fisher beer. tonight was the first night we have gotten take out from hi bombay and it was great.
we choose the malai kofta and the chicken saag, two of my stand-by dishes at indian restaurants. tonight, like all other times, i was not disappointed. i find it a little difficult to describe all of the nuances of flavors in indian food because it is so complex and layered. both dishes tonight were ordered medium spicy, which had a nice heat and left you with a lasting burn on your tongue. there was tons of chicken in the saag and it delivered that deliciously creamy spinach yum that i expect from a good saag. the malai kofta is a combination of these delicate veggie "meat balls" and a creamy slightly sweet, savory sauce.
it was a totally satisfying dinner at home, just as it always is in their restaurant.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

fennel and sausage risotto

try this great recipe for fennel and sausage risotto. i made it with store bought chicken broth and it really would have been better with a super flavorful homemade stock. its a very warm and comforting dish for a cool evening.

i'm anticipating a slip-up in my challenge tomorrow night cuz some friends are coming into town.

someday very soon the majority of us are going to be in favor of marriage equality.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


tonight after voting, seth and i went to celebrate democracy with a pint of beer and some fried food. and what better place for such a celebration than ruski's (212 danforth street)? ruski's really is a go to place for seth and i for many reasons. number 1: its awesome. number 2: two blocks from our house. number 3: real dive bar. number 4: good food. number 5: unpretentious.
in college i had my heart broken when brady's yatch club, our favorite local dive bar, got "discovered" and was over run with hipsters. this is not to say that there are no hipsters in ruski's, cuz there frequently are. but there are also lots of salty dog regulars. everyone sort of balances each other out so it never feels like a scene for any one group of people.
there menu is very extensive and i almost always have a hard time ordering because how can you decide between a burger, a calzone, or nachos? there are just too many choices. and while it is very basic cuisine and a very large proportion of the menu is fried, its good stuff.
tonight we decided to share the chicken tenders appetizer with ranch dressing and the sauerkraut hot dog. i have been wanting to order a hot dog here for ages but just haven't. i shouldn't have waited so long cuz it was great -- it was quite meat-a-licous and tasty. i think their dogs are a pound each so i was happy to share it with seth. i am obsessed with fried chicken so i have never met a chicken tender i didn't like. one of these days i'm gonna order the fried chicken dinner with four pieces of chicken, mashed potatoes, and gravy. all for $8.95.
oh yeah -- pbr pints are $2.

Monday, November 2, 2009

slow cooking

last night i made my first slow cooker meal of the season: lamb shanks with white beans. this is something i usually braise on the stove top or in the oven. but we had plans to have a little happy hour over at jen and andrew's house and i knew that by the time we got home it would be too late to start a braised dinner. so the night before i went about searching for a good slow cooker recipe for this dish.
one thing i love about the slow cooker is the ease. i love the idea of throwing a bunch of stuff in a pot before work and coming home to a beautiful dinner. but this dish does not fit into that bill. because the shanks need to be browned and the onions and garlic need to be sauteed, it took me nearly 40 minutes to get everything in the pot. so it was much better suited for the sunday dinner meal category. by the time the 8 hours of cooking time was up, the meat had completely fallen off the bone and the beans were super tender. it really did turn out great andi told seth it was the definition of succulent.
but i promise you, if i make this dish again in march i will hate it. because that is the curse of the slow cooker. no matter what you cook or what you cook it with, by the end of the season, everything comes out tasting exactly the same. maybe it's just that by march i'm craving fresh, barley cooked veggies and light summer fare. my taste buds have just had enough of hardy, meaty, rich foods. but right now in november, it is exactly what i am craving and this dish really hit the proverbial spot.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

my challenge

november is national novel writing month. knowing myself, i'm not gonna write a novel. so i got thinking about something i could challenge myself to do, that i might also enjoy. and it hit me: i enjoy writing this blog but i wish i were better at it. so i'm challenging myself to write one post a day in the month of november.
i think it's gonna work out well because nba basketball season started this week and that leaves me a time with nothing to do. let me explain. seth and i watch a lot of tv. i've always liked tv and it really is the ultimate brainless activity for me. i have a job that demands a lot of my brain power, so when i come home after a long day at work i just want to relax in front of the tv. which is usually fine ... except for basketball season. seth loves nba basketball in general and the celtics in particular. he must watch every celtics game on broadcasted on tv. in northern new england that means 3 to 4 games a week. when i start to whine about how much basketball he watches seth reminds me of the three years i forced him to live in new haven, connecticut where there exists a celtics vortex and they only show new york and new jersey games.
so anyway, i'm gonna have a lot of time on my hands this month, even if i do follow through and learn how to knit this winter.