Dinner for One: Buttery Saltines (and soup)

I come from a family that adores savory snacks. Don’t get me wrong, we like our sweets too, but there’s nothing better than taking a deliciously salty cracker, slathering it with salty butter, and gorging. I posted about buttery saltines on Facebook a few months back, and was surprised that almost no one had heard of it. People thought I was nuts! This was a childhood favorite of mine, spurred by my father who was the expert at matching spreads with crackers. 
When I’m on my own for dinner, sometimes I like to keep it extra simple and heat up a bowl of soup. Except, I can’t have a bowl of soup without also having buttery saltines. Some might say, the soup is a formality and the buttery saltines are the real dinner. Because buttery saltines are good. really good. cravingly good. Dipped in hot soup so that the butter gets a little melty, but the cracker itself is still crisp…YUM!
Don’t think you can get the same buttery goodness from just any cracker combo. In order to have the full experience, you need to use saltine crackers (name brand or generic, doesn’t matter) and you have to use salted butter. Not margarine, not sweet cream butter, not I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, REGULAR SALTED BUTTER. Trust me. And don’t skimp on the crackers either – these days saltines come in a variety of styles: salted tops, low salt, low fat, no salt, etc. Stick with the original, and enjoy.

Musings: Edible "Wherever"

Funny things happen when you talk about blogging with people. You find that they share similar interests – interests that you may never have stumbled upon otherwise. This happened to me today during a chat with a co-worker, who happens (unbeknownst to me) to be a pretty big foodie. Not only do he and his wife love to dine out, they also love to cook, AND they love to read food blogs! It was interesting to get some perspective on what makes another foodie read a blog – and what doesn’t. So, according to my foodie colleague:

  1. Blog must have photographs – good photos…quality photos, not 2MP on a camera phone.
  2. The food in said blog must look appetizing.
  3. If the blog contains good links, the quality level is boosted.
Ok – simple enough. I think most bloggers tend to follow these rules. But while we were talking, he mentioned a link specifically: “If this link were on your blog I would subscribe to it, no question.”

So what is that link, and is it worth all the clout? Yes.

Edible Communities
How have I never seen this? Sadly, the magazine Edible Chesapeake is no longer in publication (as of Fall 2009), but there are archived copies of some of their articles and dozens of other area editions to thumb through. My co-worker uses these as an organic, locally grown, in-season food “road map” when he and his wife travel. What a fantastic idea!

I have my bookmark in place. We’re headed to Cape May, NJ, later this summer – I wonder what’s Edible!

Soft Tacos – Vegetarian & Not

My sister, Josie, became a vegetarian a few years ago, and ever since then she has craved a replacement for tacos that doesn’t involve refried beans, and feels “meaty” in texture. Nothing fancy, just standard tacos seasoned with the flavor packet from the grocery store. Tonight I think we found the magic substitution – canned Great Northern Beans. It was delicious! Being a meat eater, I added seared shrimp to my tacos (cooked separately in a grill pan), but I think they would have been awesome without. Josie agrees. :)

Here’s the rest, in pictures:

Raw shrimp, thawing
Diced onions & garlic for the beans
Sautéed onion in olive oil
Shrimp, seasoned with salt & pepper
Seared shrimp – olive oil, med/high grill pan, 2 min per side
Canned Great Northern beans simmering with sautéed onions, garlic,
and taco seasoning, cooked to packet directions
Warm flour tortillas, diced tomatoes from my neighbors’ garden, cilantro from Truffula Seed Produce & cheddar
Bean & taco seasoning reduction
Bean tacos – vegetarian style
Bean tacos with seared shrimp

One look at those tacos, and I finally had an epiphany about what to do with the banana peppers – fresh SALSA! – because right now I have tomatoes, cilantro, banana peppers and jalapeño peppers sitting in my kitchen from locally grown farms or gardens. Coming soon to a blog near you….

Out and About: VOLT Restaurant

As an avid Top Chef watcher, I was doubly intrigued last season when two Frederick natives were not only on the show, but made it to the very end!  Returning to his roots, runner up Bryan Voltaggio opened a restaurant downtown in an old brownstone mansion a couple of years ago. Successful before Top Chef, Volt has become wildly popular since the show aired last year, with waiting lists for a reservation – some going out months if you want Bryan’s famed Table 21.
This past spring, our neighbors had reservations for the Chef’s Dining Room and lucky for me they couldn’t go! Hearing about the opportunity, my sister, Josie, insisted gently hinted that she should go with me, being a foodie herself. So, off we went!
The building itself is stunning, an old brick mansion…almost Gothic in appearance. Ironically, the inside of the building is quite modern, but not in an “in your face” kind of way. The hostess weaved us through the hallway and into the Chef’s Dining Room where we were seated side-by-side at a 4-top table. Odd, right? We thought so, unless you’re honeymooners or something. Minutes later, we understood why though: Full view of the kitchen, including Bryan who was fully invested in cooking each meal. Cool!
We FEASTED – and they easily, no graciously, accommodated Josie’s vegetarian diet throughout the courses. Yellow fin tuna tartare, goat cheese ravioli, farm roasted chicken, textures of chocolate, meyer lemon ginger ice cream…the list goes on (not to mention a wonderful wine pairing with each course, and French press coffee served table-side with dessert). It was incredible, and all we could do to not lick each plate before the server removed them.
As if this wasn’t amazing enough, Bryan takes special care to use food that’s in season & locally grown/raised – something important to both me and my sister. I want to go again – maybe this fall when the menu has been updated for the season. If you haven’t already booked your reservation, do so – it’s a little pricey, but one advantage to having to wait a couple weeks for your reservation is that you have time to save money!
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