Thursday, March 13, 2008

Foodie fodder

I was going to work this morning and when I got off the bus I found myself enveloped in that unmistakeable wonderful aroma of cocoa beans being roasted at a downtown Chicago chocolate factory. It's not like this factory is anywhere near where I work, but when the wind is blowing just right, the scent is akin to a warm cup of hot cocoa wafting through the air....mmmm, chocolate. It's best experienced on a chilly winter morning instead of a hot humid summer day, when I'd rather sniff a cool crisp iced-tea or lemonade or something. But this morning, it was bliss, not overpowering, just comforting. So I decided, this would be a foodie post today. I've got some gripes to air and woo-hoo, my impressions of the first episode of this seasons Top Chef!

So my gripes...I went to Trader Joe's yesterday because I had this idea for a meal that was very specific. In the past, I'd bought this mojito meat marinade that was pretty good. I had some chicken that needed to be cooked up and while I know the free-range, non-hormone, non-antibiotic injected, organically-fed stuff is all around a better product for you, it bugs me that I have to cook it up so quickly after buying. I know, not something to really be bugged about, but there you are. That is NOT my gripe. So the menu I had in my head was to cook up this chicken in the mojito marinade and serve it with a nice mix of rice, Cuban black beans (also from TJ), & roasted corn. Mmmm...sounds good, yeah? Well it wasn't to be because Trader Joe's NO LONGER CARRIES mojito meat marinade. GRRRR! I asked one of the chirpy TJ employees what happened to it and he thought it had a possibilty of making it back on TJ shelves because it was popular. This was my gripe! C'mon TJ, don't take popular products off your shelves. Crossing fingers. So I figured, well, I'm here and TJ makes other nice meat sauces, so I wound up getting an Indian "curry" sauce, some naan bread and a package of Jaipur vegetables. All in all, it was ok. The Jaipur vegetables were pretty good, and I'd like to get that dish into my Indian recipe repertoire. It's actually called Navrattan vegetables...a mildly sauced dish with several veggie types and my favorite Indian cheese, paneer. Oh lordy, I'm off track here... The "curry" sauce was a question-mark because it really was difficult to tell just WHAT curry sauce the makers were trying to duplicate. It had Indian flavors so that's good enough to satisfy hubster's insatiable craving for Indian meals when I don't have the desire, energy, or twelvety-five hours to make a dish from scratch.

My second gripe.... I bought a new cereal to bring to work which sounded promising. Post Nut Harvest Crunch... whole grain flakes with lightly sweetened cruncy clusters, almonds, pecans & walnuts. With 200 calories per serving and despite being lightly sweetened, only 8 grams of sugar, but a nice 8 g of fiber (a whopping 32% of recommended daily fiber intake), and not bad in the sodium department. What bugged me was that the cereal looked nothing like the picture on the box. I opened the box expecting all these nice crunchy clusters and I saw not a cluster, not a nut. I KNOW they didn't all settle to the bottom, but there had to be about only 3 of each nut type chopped up so finely in the entire box. Bah...if I wanted boring whole grain flakes, I'm sure I can buy a box of that. The thing is, the picture on that box would have fruit garnishing and would make it look real interesting. I think it's funny too how they give you the impression that you can have a nice big heaping bowl of cereal for breakfast, when in reality, the serving size for most is no more than 1 cup. A better picture for this cereal would have been one little cup with one cluster on top. I think cereal makers and frozen dinner makers are the worst when it comes to the pictures they put on their boxes. I learned a long time ago that the pictures on the frozen foods would not only never look that good, but wouldn't taste as good either. That's why I rarely eat a frozen food, they just rarely taste good and are filled with all kinds of junk.

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