Monday, February 28, 2011

Meatless Monday: Carnivore-Approved Black Bean Portobello Burgers

My husband is a die-hard carnivore.  One of his favorite meals is a big, beefy helping of bolognese sauce with a side of spaghetti, and he's always most excited about the dinners that make the house smell like roasted, sauteed or grilled hunks of protein.  Now I'm not exactly vegetarian (I love seafood and am on fairly good terms with all kinds of poultry) but I'm pretty apathetic about meat and, pre-marriage, often indulged in meatless meals.

"Meatless? Who, me?"

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Pumpkin of Shame

What does this look like to you?

Perhaps you said a normal pie pumpkin? Maybe even a cute pie pumpkin? Well, in either case you'd be mistaken because this, ladies and gentlemen, is the Pumpkin of Shame.  What could such a harmless, innocuous-looking little winter squash have done to earn such a fearsome moniker? Answer: this pumpkin has been occupying a corner of my kitchen countertop...since November.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Travel Tips for the Savvy Traveler

As part of my Christmas present this year, my sister gave me a subscription to Budget Travel magazine.  This gift was amazing, not just because I love travel - and especially shoestring travel - but also because, at 26 years old, it's the first real magazine subscription I've ever had (if you don't count the American Girl Catalogue, way back in the day!).

I love reading magazines and usually devour them cover-to-cover, even studying the advertisements, which I find interesting, but I've never actually owned any.  In college, I borrowed copies of Runner's World and spent hours in libraries reading National Geographic, Outside, The Economist, Gourmet, and Bon Appetit, but I was never in one place long enough to enjoy a subscription.  I always reasoned that I would sign up as soon as I was 'settled' and life was more 'normal.' Well, that hasn't happened yet (our upcoming move will be our fourth in the past year) but I am so glad my sister didn't wait and ordered the magazine for me anyway.

I've enjoyed two issues so far and eagerly await the others.  Since I'm currently in a bit of a travel dry-spell, I explore vicariously through its pages and am excited to see where they'll take me next.  While I look forward to the featured articles, one of my favorite regular features is the section of reader-submitted travel tips.  I enjoy profiting from others' experience and expertise, and am always amazed by the ingenious things people suggest.  On the road, it seems, necessity really is the mother of invention.

Any seasoned traveler is bound to pick up a few golden nuggets of advice, and to recognize the value of learning from others, as well.  In that spirit, I've decided to include my own section of travel tips.  Some of them I've picked up 'the hard way' and others have been passed down by altruistic travelers more experienced than I.

Of course, I'd also be thrilled to hear your travel tips and add them to the collection -  you can share them in the comments below.  I look forward to learning a lot and becoming an even more savvy traveler.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Teutonic Tuesday

I love when a meal just comes together, with little planning or preparation; I love it even more when that meal has a theme!  Matt and I picked up some pork chops on special at the grocery store this weekend and yesterday he requested schnitzel - a favorite dish from our time in Germany.  As it happened, we also had some asparagus on hand and, even though it wasn't the famous white variety we enjoyed overseas, it still rounded out the meal nicely.

Gorgonzola Schnitzel in Wuerzburg - this was divine!
The type of schnitzel most commonly encountered in the States is a pork variant of Wiener Schnitzel (the original is made of veal and is an Austrian dish named for the city of Vienna, or Wien, in German).  In Germany, this pork-based version is called Schnitzel Wiener Art, to differentiate from the original, but there are actually many different variations of the dish.  Jaegerschnitzel (trans: hunter's schnitzel) is a pork or veal cutlet topped with mushroom gravy. Ordering a Ziegeunerschnitzel (gypsy schnitzel) will get you additional red peppers, onions, and mushrooms in a tomato-paste-and-red wine sauce. Rahmschnitzel is served with a pepper-cream sauce and Salzburger Schnitzel is stuffed with bacon, mushrooms and onions. Are you hungry yet?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

As English as Apple Crumble

Apples for Crumble

When I was four years old, my parents moved our family from western New York to central England.  My youngest sister was born there, and my parents stayed until after I'd grown and returned to the States for university. With the exception of those first few years in New York and a few more, later, in central Indiana, most of my childhood was spent overseas.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy President's Day/Washington's Birthday!

In honor of today's holiday, here are a few presidential links:

Presidential Food Facts:
Test your Presidential Food Trivia knowledge with this quiz from The Food Museum
A few more nuggets of culinary history from Hugging the Coast
Presidential Food Slideshow from
Thomas Jefferson's Maple Sugar Love and More Presidential Food Facts from Food & Think

Abraham Lincoln was reportedly a great fan of apples - sounds a bit like Matt!

General Trivia:
Births, lives, deaths and everything in between from the Little Known Facts show

Presidential Recipes:
Great collection of Presidents' and First Ladies' favorites from CDKitchen

Mmmmmm - I'd love a plate of Lincoln's scalloped oysters, a bowl of Nancy Reagan's Onion Wine Soup or maybe a slice of George Washington Cake but the sun is shining, it's unusually warm out and Matt and I have a car to wash!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A change of plans...and our 'Big Night'

I had intended to bake, photograph and post my first recipe today, but woke to find that Matt had eaten one of the key ingredients - a bag of Fuji apples.  I guess I can't fault him for being healthy! Since we're not due to go shopping for a few days (I try to avoid making trips to the store for only one or two items), I'll save the recipe for later and, instead, tell you about our 'Big Night'.

A few months ago, someone recommended the movie 'Big Night' as a must-see food movie and so, a few nights ago, we watched it.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Let me set the scene.  A girl sits at a high-leg table in a small, two-bedroom apartment, typing away at a computer.  The too-small cupboards bulge with baking pans and utensils and hand-washed dishes are stacked in a drainer by the sink.  Just outside the window, the rolling, red-dirt plains stretch away to the horizon, anchored by a low ridge of mountains that breaks up the otherwise barren and featureless skyline.

View from the Wichita Mountains

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why 'The Traveling Spoon'?

When I first thought about blogging (I'm ashamed to admit how long ago that was) I had so many ideas for concepts, themes and the titles to go along with them. I knew I wanted to write about food, but I also wanted to write about my other great interests in travel, fitness, nutrition, reading and so much more.  I just wasn't sure how to make it all fit together.  And so I waited.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Stop Talking, Start Blogging

"Speech is conveniently located midway between thought and action, where it often substitutes for both." ~ John Andrew Holmes

I love writing. I love traveling, eating, and reading and, for a long time now, I've loved the idea of blogging about all these things.  The problem is that I also occasionally love to procrastinate. I always get the job done, but it's often under pressure and at the last minute. Of course, I'm aware that not everyone else operates like this and for those who don't, the stress and pressure it causes seems like senseless self-torture.  You see, I'm married to one of the greatest non-procrastinators I've ever met.  When Matt and I were planning our wedding (which we pulled together in less than three months - not because of procrastination but because of work schedules) he was the one keeping me on task with spreadsheets and to-do lists while I was still scribbling notes in ink on the back of my hand.

Since then, we've learned to work together and actually found that our different styles complement each other, but I'd guess that, at times, my habits still test his vast reserves of patience. In fact, I'm sure of it and I present this blog as proof. I've been talking about starting a blog for so long now that he has finally decided to call my bluff. He's the one who set up the account and gave me a five-minute 'intro to blogging' tutorial which has led to this first post.

Actually, he started it a while ago and it's been sitting here empty because I was unsure of where to begin and how to make a start.  In short, I've been procrastinating. So it's ironic that procrastination has finally driven me to get things going.  I have a deadline looming for a project and, if I'm honest, I'd rather be doing anything than thinking about that deadline.  I've already done two loads of laundry, cleaned the kitchen sink and baked a batch of brownie bites.  The kitchen floor is freshly swept and dinner is in the oven.  I guess it's time to stop talking and start blogging!