Archive for May, 2010

Seattle and Cake

Posted in Dessert, Food, Recipe, Travel, Vegan, Vegetarian on May 25th, 2010 by Audrey – 6 Comments

Space NeedleAs much as I love my home city of Portland, I’ve pretty much always got a chronic case of wanderlust, and so there’s nothing like a couple days out of town to shake off the dust of routine and get me feeling fresh and happy to be home again once the trip is through. This past week, DG and I hightailed it up to Seattle, where we had the chance to reconnect with some great friends, as well as take advantage of some of the city’s excellent eats and drinks. (I’ve spotlighted some of our best finds at the bottom of this post. Check it out!)

We had the great good fortune of being able to be temporary lords of the manor (and cat-sitters) at a friend’s house up there while they were in the land down under. The chief benefit of this arrangement, aside from the palatial setting (compared to our one-bedroom apartment), was that we were able to entertain a big group of friends and host a pot luck dinner – I didn’t feel quite up to the task of cooking for everyone in someone else’s kitchen, but wanted to get everyone together for good times on our own turf. Luckily, with this crowd, I knew would be a stomach-pleasing endeavor, and indeed it was. read more »

Where in the World is Can Do Kitchen?

Posted in Business, Food, Travel on May 25th, 2010 by Audrey – 1 Comment

Cuban Mix Sandwich

This is not a peach. It is an incredibly delicious Cuban Mix Sandwich with fried plantains and cafe con leche that I had in Key West.

I have a very distinct memory of sitting at my kitchen table in the wee fourth-floor apartment I shared with my roommate in Aix-en-Provence, France. Our tall windows were thrown open and I could see into a kitchen in the building across the narrow street. A warm breeze ruffled the dish towel flung over the oven handle. In my hand: a white peach, fresh from the market milling around in the place below my window. My first white peach, so ripe it nearly burst from my touch. I sat alone there in the kitchen, bit into the fruit, and savored every ray of sunshine in its flesh. So sweet and unresisting to my bite, the juice ran down my elbows and onto the table. It was bliss.

Moments like these are snapshots from my life when food has shaped an experience and enriched my sense of time and place. I have relished many, many culinary moments in my travels, whether it be a tearing into a mysterious purple mangosteen in a back alleyway in Thailand or slurping matzo ball soup in a New York deli, and I want to start sharing these moments with you, dear reader. I’m going to weave these tales into upcoming posts, along with photos and links. Check in from time to time to witness my tasty travels, and when you visit the same places I do, you can try some of my discoveries, and share your own recommendations with me!

It is my hope that you will live vicariously through these posts, but also take notice of your own singular taste-sensation moments. These are inspirations for what we can create in our own kitchens, as well as opportunities to tune into the tastes that we’re experiencing and link them to past tastes, memories, likes, dislikes, and desires – feedback that informs every cooking decision we make. The more taste experiences our tongues and minds have, the richer our palates, and our ability to build from this base.

I grant you your culinary passports, friends. Hop aboard, and let your tongue be your guide!

Kitchen Sink Quinoa Salad

Posted in Dinner, Food, Lunch, Recipe, Salad, Side Dish, Starch, Vegan, Vegetarian on May 18th, 2010 by Audrey – 6 Comments

Image of Kitchen Sink Quinoa SaladLet’s face it, we’re all spoiled by grab-and-go convenience foods. When the hunger beast rears its angry head, we walk into the kitchen, stare blankly into the brimming refrigerator, and, seeing only ingredients, conclude that there’s nothing to eat. Au contraire, my friends! There is just nothing ready to eat. I know what you’re thinking. “What am I supposed to do? Gnaw on a leaf of Swiss chard?” Well, yes and no. See, when we’re faced with a barrage of ingredients, its often hard to envision what the end product is, so our brain overloads with either the excess or absence of options, and we give up and either go hungry, eat something convenient and pre-made, or go buy something prepared. However, with some practice, we can start to see those items filling the corners of our fridges and pantries as vibrant parts of a delicious whole. The best place to start is to find some foundation on which to build a dish, and then go from there.

Today’s blank canvas is quinoa (KEEN-wah), a magical little grain in a tiny snail-shaped dot. (Actually, it’s technically a seed because it’s not from a grass, but rather from a plant closely related to beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds. Really, tumbleweeds! Just another reason to love quinoa. However, we treat it as a grain in cooking.) For those of you unfamiliar with quinoa or previously tentative about trying it, welcome to a new taste sensation. It has a nutty flavor and toothsome mouth-feel, and can be used a lot like rice or small pasta (think orzo or couscous), but it’s incredibly good for you (high in protein and gluten free) and simple to prepare. You can find it in packages near the rice and pasta in your market, or in the bulk section, which is the more economical option. I buy it in bulk and store it in a big glass jar. The easiest way to prepare it is to boil it in water or broth (2 parts liquid, 1 part quinoa) until the water is absorbed (about 12-14 minutes), fluff and serve. Instant side dish. From there you can get more sophisticated and make pilafs, salads, stuffings, etc. It’s also really tasty added to soup or hot breakfast cereal. (Fun fact: quinoa is currently being considered a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights because of all its nifty convenient and nutritious characteristics. Space grain! Definitely ups its cool factor.) read more »

‘Tis the Season: Dijon Vinaigrette

Posted in Dinner, Food, Lunch, Recipe, Salad, Side Dish, Vegetarian, Veggies on May 14th, 2010 by Audrey – 2 Comments

LettuceSpring has officially sprung out here in the Pacific Northwest, and our farmers markets, gardens, grocery stores, and crisper drawers are overflowing with the new bounty that the seemingly endless months of drizzle bestow on us once the sun decides to stay out for a few moments strung together. Among the first to pop out of our rich soil are the leafy, multicolored baby salad greens that I’ve started to crave on a daily basis. Another side effect of the grey winter is that, come spring, all the citizenry burst forth into the outdoors in droves, and people can be found strolling, draped on stoops, lolling in grassy parks, and zipping around town on bikes.

Last weekend, my fun friends hosted their annual Bike Maintenance Day BBQ, for which they invite any and all to come over, throw something tasty on the grill, contribute a communal dish, and make use of the hosts’ tools, stands, and expertise to tune up their bicycles for the coming months of riding. As anyone who knows me can attest, after Christmas and my birthday, this is my favorite day of the year, and definitely my bike’s numero uno holiday.

This year, I was a little torn on what to contribute as a communal dish. I found myself wandering aimlessly through the produce section of Whole Foods pondering what would be tasty, fresh, and portable enough to toss in my bike’s pannier and pedal over to the Q, when, out of the piles of dwindling citrus and greenhouse tomatoes, a pile of tiny mixed lettuces sang to me like an angel choir from the heavens, and inspiration struck. I found the biggest container of greens they had – only $6! – gave a little fist-pump, and humped it home to my kitchen, where I whipped up a batch of my favorite Dijon Vinaigrette in a spare jar. Container of greens and jar of dressing tossed in my sack, along with some sausages for the grill, I biked forth, knowing I had a hit item to share. Sure enough, the big bowl of dressed greens on the picnic table kept dwindling, and I kept filling it up. There’s nothing like a bowl of zesty freshness to perk up some grilled food. read more »

Out of Order

Posted in Business on May 14th, 2010 by Audrey – 1 Comment
Can you blame me?

Can you blame me?

As a newbie food blogger, it somehow never occurred to me that what I blog about will be inevitably linked to what I eat in any given week, especially if I want to have accompanying photos and/or do not already have a backlog of recipes and pictures poised for the posting (which I do not…yet). This left me in somewhat of a pickle, because I had put together notes and ideas for the items I wanted to showcase in the Mix-and-Match month of May, and, darnitall if I just didn’t want to make things in that order. I mean, all the main courses in one week? Oy. Now believe you me, I have a sensational mac and cheese recipe on the back burner for you, and a kickin’ chili just waiting to sizzle your taste buds, but, with the sun shining and the days getting longer, all I wanted to do was munch asparagus and gaze lovingly at the tiny sproutlets on my window sill, pushing out of the dirt, growing big and strong for my backyard garden.

And so, in the manner of someone still evolving into a new role, I am slightly altering my previous plan for the month. I intend to bring you a few dishes from each category just as promised, but I’m not going to do it in the format of one week of main dishes, followed by one week of starches, etc. We’re going to do a smattering of this, then a smattering of that, different meal-parts interspersed, and will end up with an excellent arsenal of recipes for you to choose from and make your own. Conveniently, all my recipes on this site are categorized by meal-part, so you can easily sort by main dishes, veggies, starches, desserts, etc.

Now let me get back to my sprout-watching. I kid! Back to the recipe-drawing board.

Cut me a little slack, friends. I’m learning.

Crying Mayday? Mix it Up: Roasty Chicken with Toasty Garlic Potatoes

Posted in Dinner, Food, Main Dish, Poultry, Recipe on May 3rd, 2010 by Audrey – 7 Comments

Plated DinnerAdmittedly, at present, in my underemployed state, I’ve got the luxury of time to ponder these things. But, before you discount me as a resource, consider how richly my excess of times can benefit your lack of time. Let’s work together. As my friend (a middle school science teacher) says, “Team work doesn’t seem work!” Et voilà, mes amis. My idleness (hardly!) brings you veritable mountains of ideas, and better yet, higher learning.

Henceforth, I declare the month of May MIX AND MATCH MONTH. Whoop whoop! Every week during this month, I’ll bring you a few new recipes, ideas, hints, and guidance to bring you versatility, taste, color, and good health on your dinner plate each night. This theme will be based around the traditional three-piece meal, i.e. a protein, a vegetable, and a starch. As your diet, and preferences, allow, feel free to mix it up to your heart’s content. Though, the grandma that lives on my right shoulder (there’s a six year-old me on my other shoulder offering Tootsie Rolls) cautions that it is important to consume a variety of nutrients in your daily diet, so try not to go too heavy on any one category.

I hear the sweet-tooth contingent crying out in protest. Okay! So I will tack on a week of desserts, too. As a savory food lover, in a house where a dessert course rarely makes an appearance, I’m far more likely to reach for the potato chip than the cheesecake, but my love for the salty does sympathize with your need for the sweet. By the end of May, you will have an arsenal of stand-bys at the ready, and will be able to construct yourself (and your family, if you’ve got one to feed) a satisfying, delicious dinner every night of the week, with a cherry on top. read more »

Anchors Aweigh!

Posted in Business on May 3rd, 2010 by Audrey – 3 Comments

Cheers!I launch you, dear blog, with a virtual bottle of Dom Perignon washing over your bow like a newly christened ship. The Grand Opening! The First Hurrah! Here begins Can Do Kitchen, my venture into culinary guidance. I strike forth on this delicious path with just a well-sharpened kitchen knife and my taste buds to guide me. And you, fair readers, fellow bloggers, chefs old and new, my foot soldiers, to keep me sharp, and plotted on the right course.

I’m very excited!!! Let’s get cooking!