Monday, July 31, 2006

Yummy yummy yummy I got fun in my tummy of a weekend!

I was inspired to splurge on fresh produce this weekend so I went to the Green City Farmers' Market in Lincoln Park this past Saturday. Usually, I only buy whatever produce are cheap or are on sale at the grocery store because that's the only way I can afford fresh ingredients on my meagre graduate student stipend. (Those damn university slave drivers!!!) So anyway, I got up at about 6.30am (a miracle by my standards) and trudged my way up north on the bus. The bus took its own sweet time to arrive so I reached the farmers' market only at 8am.

The farmers' market basically consists of various tents under which farmers showcase their fresh fruits and vegetables. There were also a number of bakers and cooks selling their stuff. I started out by scouting out all the stands at least once to get an idea of what everyone was selling. As you may already know, it's the peak of summer and most of the berries and peaches are ripe and luscious right now. I was delighted to find out that most of the farmers do not use herbicides or pesticides to grow their crops because I'm starting to get a tad paranoid due to recent media reports on their harms. Naturally, due to my zombie-like state in the A.M. hours, I forgot to bring along my camera *sob* and thus, I can't share the wonderful sights of the market. But anyway, the vivid colors and sweet smell of the berries induced me to buy a pint of strawberries and raspberries each. Their scent was so tantalizing that I popped a few into my mouth as soon as I paid up. I couldn't taste much difference between the organic raspberry and a normal one. However, the organic strawberry just simply burst with flavor! Although the organic strawberry is much smaller than the normal one, its color is much deeper and its flavor richer and sweeter!

I also bought a blueberry-peach crepe for 2nd breakfast (yes, 2nd because I already had some cereal at home prior to my departure for this trip). The blueberries and peaches were of course purchased from the farmers in the market and were so fresh I could have cried. Unfortunately one drawback with the crepe is that there just wasn't enough fruit in it for $6. Near the crepe stand was a bakery tent selling home-baked goods. Some of the items include fruit or savory galettes and organic cookies. I was sooo very tempted to buy a beautiful plum galette but decided against it because I wanted to try baking my own. Being the very far-sighted person I am, I had to plan for lunch! So I purchased a fresh baguette, some tomatoes and a bunch of basil. I cannot believe that the big bunch of basil I bought was only $2! Two dollars would've only gotten me a few sprigs at the grocery store. So anyway, back to lunch. Unfortunately, none of the farmers sold mozzarella so I had to stop by a grocer for my mozzarella.

As you might've guessed, I wanted to make a sandwich with basil, mozzarella and sliced tomatoes. Really, can a sandwich be any more Italian? Check out the food porn ;) *harhar*

I tried toasting it for the ooey-gooey mozzarella texture but it only made the mozzarella release some liquid and burnt the basil a bit. Never toast green leaves!!! Anyway, it still turned out delicious. I drizzled some olive oil over the cheese and sprinkled some salt and black pepper for flavor. Yum~ Must do it again.

As if that's not enough, I decided to make creme brulee. Yes! I recently bought a creme brulee set including 4 ramekins, a butane torch and a recipe book on eBay (luuurve eBay). I decided to try the "light'n'breezy" recipe that uses half the cream and replaces the other half with 2% evaporated milk. The custard part of the creme brulee turned out creamy and smooth although I had to be more careful to not overbake it in the future. The torch was slightly problematic because it would extinguish itself every few seconds, which, as you can imagine, is very irritating! However, I managed to caramelize the layer of sugar on the creme perfectly *joy*

Friday, July 28, 2006

Virgin post alert!

Hello friends!

Welcome to my brand spankin' new blog! So anyway, I'm a graduate student (my official title is resident lab rat) in Chicago studying molecular metabolism, specifically diabetes and obesity. Having been raised in a big Chinese-Indonesian family, I love food! That translates to huuuge family reunions with delicious home-made dishes and tons of virulent gossip! I've been surfing the web a lot in between experiments and have been inspired by the tons of food bloggers and food pornographers (*harhar* I just love that term). Hence, this blog ;) I hope to share with you my daily (or at least weekly) culinary adventures outside and inside my home!

Besides food, I'll be writing (or ranting) about some other topics that are important to me, such as nutrition, exercise, music and knitting (what a housewife I am). Last but not least, come back again and eat chocolate!