Saturday, July 20, 2013

Evening out: Moerlein Lager House

My social life has evolved to include mostly outings involving children: birthday parties, sprinkler parks, the zoo, children's museum, any place with a train or live farm animals, etc.  You get the picture. Much energy is expended Entertaining Little Sweetpea.

So it's always nice to have an adult evening out.

Last night, the Husband headed to the Reds game and I hung out at the Moerlein Lager House.  Awesomely they have all the veg and GF items marked on their menu.  Only one was marked with both icons, the Crispy Balsamic Tofu.  The tofu was accompanied by spinach risotto with roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, and some shave asparagus.  It was pretty delicious.  The risotto had great flavor and the tofu lived up the menu's promise.  It was crispy and not at all as offensive as I sometimes find tofu when it is flaccid and soggy.  (Blecht.)  I wish there had been more vegetables, the roasted tomatoes were yummy.

Check out that crispy tofu!
The meal was a pleasant surprise.  I hadn't been to the Moerlein House for dinner for awhile and I did not think it was very good last time I was there.  In all fairness that was when they first opened.  Recently I was there for a private party and the server we had was amazing.  He was very accommodating of the various food restrictions at our table and did it all with a smile.  One of my coworkers has been diagnosed with a nickel allergy, which means she can't eat anything grown in the ground.  So no fruit, no vegetables, no nuts, no beer or wine.  Any produce needs to be hydroponically grown.  Basically she can eat meat and dairy, the total opposite of my diet.  We were a pretty high maintenance table and the server handled it beautifully.

I digress.  Last night after the guys got tired of sweating it out at the game they came to join us.  They proceeded to give us crap because we were at a beer place but enjoying a bright, citrusy Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc.  But the Moerlein House's wine list is just as long as the beer list with a lot of great options.

Mmm.  Wine.

Then something strange happened as we were leaving.  There was an exodus from the game as it was drawing to a close.  And people were toting cases of Hamburger Helper.  I have no explanation for this phenomenon.  Friend with a Smoker snagged some boxes.  Which he discarded in a trash receptacle after reading the ingredients.
Then this happened.
Moerlein Lager House on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 8, 2013

Coming together

I was struggling a lot to get organized for the week and keep that commitment to healthy eating.  I do have to say, I have fallen into more of a routine and I am getting to be a much better multi-tasking cook.  But by far the most successful tactic I have developed is this: a food partnership.

This is a very obvious approach which I can't believe I didn't think of earlier.  I was noticing that as I followed various recipes, massive amounts of food were produced.  We would eat it for dinner and then I would eat it for lunch.  And then lunch again.  Maybe breakfast depending on what it was.  The Husband does not eat leftovers for some reason beyond my comprehension, and he only minimally consumes vegetables to begin with.  Therefore, the bulk of eating any one dish fell to me.  Serious burnout occurs after days of lentils and radishes.  A lot of food was being thrown away.  I HATE to waste food (for a history of my neurosis, look here) so this was not an optimal situation.

The solution? I buddied up with my friend, who I will call the Vegetarian (she's super dedicated and way less...flexible...than me).  Over the weekend we each cook a few dishes, split them in half, and trade.  Voila!  We each have a variety of things to eat for the week, nominal weeknight cooking, and reduced waste.  Plus, lots of experimenting.  "Falafel??? Not giving up, will try another recipe sometime" is exchanged for "Herbed potato rosti - greasy!"  It's kind of exciting to see what the other person makes for the week.

One month in, and so far it is working great.  Having someone with whom to share recipes and cooking responsibilities has really made the quest for a healthier life easier.

I may have said this before, but I am amazed at how much breaking free of meat and bread has expanded my palate.  Amanda Cohen, owner/author of Dirt Candy (possibly the most awesome title for a veg restaurant/cookbook ever), is quoted as saying "Too often people think that eating vegetarian food is about saying no to meat, when in reality it needs to be more about saying yes to vegetables."  I love that.  It has really been a growing experience.  Lots of stuff I've tried I've liked (aduki beans, millet, roasted cauliflower, spicy chickpeas) and other stuff not so much (just can't get into the sea vegetables).  Looking forward to more culinary research.  Currently I am trying to convince someone I'll christen the Friend with a Smoker that we need to smoke some vegetables.  Maybe eggplant?  Cauliflower?  Totally open to suggestions.  Although Friend with a Smoker may take more persuasion.