Monday, August 27, 2012

Late Summer Garden: Week Fourteen

It is the last week of August and our garden is looking a little rough. A few very dry weeks did a bit of damage to our tomatoes. Three out of the four plants are almost dead. But the fourth, an heirloom, is doing great. Over a dozen plump tomatoes are slowly ripening. The pumpkin vine has performed exactly like it's watermelon buddy. Which is to say: it's a giant healthy looking vine with plenty of flowers and no sign of fruit. Boo! The eggplants, peppers and leeks are great; they're definitely our garden stars. 

I think I'll spend next weekend ripping out the pumpkin and watermelon and filling the spaces with winter vegetables. Is it cabbage-time again already!? Yay!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Brunch, babies and a party in the park

This morning we invited a dozen friends over for brunch before our annual neighborhood summer festival. Oliver made biscuits and gravy as well as a big pot of grits. Friends brought quiches, frittatas, cinnamon bread, fruit salads - all kinds of delicious breakfast foods! We were also happy to have a handful of new friends at the party - babies! This summer was "that" summer for us: many of our local friends had kids. It's sort of nonstop... In a photo below you'll see a two month old, a three week old and friend pregnant with twins (and they're really just the tip of the ice burg). After breakfast everyone walked to Grant Park and spent several hours in the grass enjoying the festival. Our thanks to everyone for a super great day. XO - Cullen

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

CouchSurfing and more Thai food

My apologies for the lack of posts recently. In addition to winding down our daily blogging we've also been distracted by fun, summertime guests (but I'll get to that in a minute). Last weeks' meals were marked by the DELICIOUS Thai Chicken Satay and the TERRIBLY VERY BAD beans. I mention the beans so our readers know that when made incorrectly, our beloved and reliable beans can be downright GROSS. In this instance we were out of chicken stock and Oliver substituted water. The beans were also strangely gritty for some unknown reason. Ok, but how bad can these beans have been? Let me tell you:

1. Monday, lunch at work, eating at my desk and fairly hungry. I had three bites before deciding I would rather stay hungry then eat more.
2. Tuesday, lunch at work, I've come prepared to dress up the beans with sour cream (the real stuff, not Greek yogurt) and an entire bottle of hot sauce. I was able to mask the bland flavor but not the odd texture. I ate almost all of it but vowed to throw away the rest of the pot as soon as I got home.
3. On Wednesday I ate something else.

For your recipe reference - DO NOT SKIP THE CHICKEN STOCK!!! This is a photo of the box we usually buy (it's one of the few items we always buy at Kroger):

On the brightside, dinner tonight was PERFECTION! Green curry with: homegrown eggplants, peppers and basil; shrimp and bok choy from YDFM. This will also be lunch tomorrow (I've already packed it). We ate on the front porch where we also enjoyed the beautiful sunset and unusually mild summer weather.

The title of this post may have given away the nature of our fun, summertime guests: CouchSurfers! CouchSurfing is online network of international travelers in which you can register to be a host, traveler, local guide or all of the above. Oliver and I are currently listed as hosts. Over the weekend we had our first guests: two 24 year old architecture students from Paris. They were wonderful! Full of friendly and intellectual conversation, laid-back and go-with-flow, even helpful around the house. 

Weekend Highlights:
• Visiting Atlanta's most noteworthy, modern architectural buildings: Portman's Marriot Marquis, Meier's High Museum and Piano's addition to the Woodruff Arts Center.
• A trip to Decatur square with drinks and dinner at Leon's
• A visit to the Grant Park Farmer's market where we picked up a variety of tarts from the Little Tart Bake Shop and fresh bread from H&F.
• Oliver's southern meals: Breakfast - biscuits and sausage gravy, scrambled eggs with goat cheese and herbs. Lunch - BLT's. 

Celine and Sam - our thanks to you! We hope you enjoyed the weekend as much as we did. Good luck on the rest of your journey!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fancy Beer Friday: Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero

IT'S FRIDAY!! You know what that means - FANCY BEER HAPPY HOUR! We picked up the Mexican-style chocolate stout, Chocolate Sombrero, to see how it would compare to the delicious Lips of Faith Coca Mole. It's good - but not quite as perfect as the Coca Mole. Definitely still worth a try.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thai Chicken Satay Salad with Peanut Sauce Dressing

If you don't know what Thai chicken satay is - look it up*! Because it is DELICIOUS!! Last night we ate it on skewers hot off the grill with a side of homegrown grilled eggplant and YDFM sweet potato. Tonight we enjoyed it on a bed of lettuce with home grown red peppers and tomatoes. Oliver's peanut sauce accompanied both meals. YUM!

*Yes, this is me losing patience with writing copy for meals I didn't cook (read: don't know how cook) but LOVED eating.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday morning in the garden

By the time the Grant Park Farmers Market opens at 9:30 we've already been up for at least an hour. This morning we spent time in the garden. Our tomatoes are finally too tall for their stakes so we decided to cut them off at 10 ft. Pumpkin blossoms are appearing on the pumpkin vine. The leeks are getting fat. Green peppers are turning red and there are almost a dozen eggplants between two plants. While Oliver cooked bacon I ran down to the GPFM and picked up some goat cheese made Friday on a farm just 10 miles away. Breakfast was omelets with veggies from the garden, fresh goat cheese and a side of bacon. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dinner at Bone Garden

We interupt the regularly scheduled Fancy Beer Friday to bring you one of our favorite Atlanta restaurants: BONE GARDEN!

We have a weakness for well done Mexican food. (A big bowl of liquid cheese can brighten even our darkest days.) Heart healthy? Ehhhh...not so much. But one of the rules we live by is 'everything in moderation - even moderation'.  So rather then deny ourselves our favorite food we make sure that when we do splurge we do so on something worth it. If I'm going to be happily rolled out of a restaurant then I want every bite to have been ecstasy. Bone Garden is that kind of restaurant.
Hidden away in an industrial  park in West Midtown, Bone Garden, has cheerful day of the dead decor. (Described not-so-cheerfully on their website: We replaced the pinatas and sombreros with artwork that scares small children...). If the skull looks vaguely familiar it might be that you've seen a similar rendition on Moreland Avenue in Little Five Points (same artist/restaurateur). But forget the fun atmosphere - it's the wide selection of unique foods that keeps us coming back!
Just a few of our favorite menu items:
• Chorizo enchilada (Oliver's favorite)
• Pasilla Patron tamale (cactus and queso)
• Chicharron taco (fried pork rind)
• Barbacoa de chivo taco (slow-braised goat)
• Lengua taco (cubed beef tongue)
Elote (grilled corn topped with mayo, chili powder and lime)
Vegetable empanadas

Portions are small so you're good to order two or three things before you're totally too full to take another bite. Love it!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lunch & dinner, lunch & dinner

More dinners made from the London Broil we grilled on Monday: 
• Wednesday: London Broil on a big bed of red leaf lettuce with vinaigrette, homegrown tomatoes and blue cheese crumbles. 
• Thursday: London Broil stir fry with green peppers from the garden and baby portobello mushrooms from YDFM (side of baked sweet potato).

Lunch (x5): stewed black beans with a dollop of Greek yogurt

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

250th post

This is And Topher Too's 250th post. It's taken almost a year (and about 20 posts a month) to reach this milestone. In that time we've earned a "blog of the month" award from Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and grown our readership to an average of 75 hits a day. To all the people* who have helped along the way: thank you. We truly appreciate your support. 

After much consideration I've decided that the end of August will also mark the end of regular, daily posting for And Topher Too. There are many reasons, among them: 
  • Photographing my food before I eat it, and then writing relevant copy before I post it, has become a chore. Plus I am disappointed in myself for rarely highlighting why/how each meal specifically fits into our heart healthy, locavore diet.
  • It feels like I'm preaching to the choir. I started the blog hoping to inspire change in people's lifestyles and eating habits; but I'm pretty sure the majority of our readers already live healthy lifestyles. The friends and family who think I'm a "hippy" or "fanatic" because of the way I eat (and there are plenty of them) just never read the blog (thank you Google analytics).
  • The politics of building a larger blog audience turn me off. Leaving comments just so you can get comments feels insincere. Even if I had time to do it I still would not. Besides, my favorite bloggers are BURIED in generic, repetitive comments only hours after their posts. That extreme sounds equally unappealing. 
  • I HAVE a full time, 9 hour a day job and 60 minute (roundtrip) commute. When I come home I'd really love to just relax with my husband. The time I spend on the blog is always borrowed from the time I want to be spending with him.
  • But really the biggest thing is: I don't feel like I've gotten through to anyone. 
Over the last year I've accomplished more then I would have ever dared imagine. I've lost 20lbs, earned a great promotion at work, lowered my blood pressure, completely given up artificial sweetners, lost my taste for overly processed foods, learned more about cooking, and increased my physical indurance to 60 second planks/15 mile fast paced bike rides/20 push ups/50 weighted lunges, etc. But as I said before, the purpose of this blog was never to document my (unexpected) successes. Now, after a year of trying to convince others to take better care of themselves I've come to accept something: only you can decide to change your life.

And that's it. I hope every person who reads this will take a moment to sincerely consider the health of their heart and cardiovascular system. Oliver lost both of his parent's to heart disease. Losing them changed our lives. What will it take to change yours?

Thanks for reading and sincere wishes for a happy and healthy life.
- Cullen 

*A special thank you to: Mandy, Sabrina, Amber, Clair, Lucile and Kathleen

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What's for dinner? Roast beef sandwiches

Last night's London Broil became tonight's carved roast beef.  We enjoyed it on YDFM bread, with horseradish sauce and fresh tomato from the garden. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Morning at the Grant Park FarmersMarket

Our cupboards were bare this morning so we packed up our bikes and headed to the park to find breakfast. At the Grant Park Farmers market we found and shared a flaky, delicious sausage turnover from Little Tart Bakeshop and a tasty chocolate croissant from H&F breads. After an hour we biked home, jumped in the car and drove to YDFM for our weekly groceries.  

We impressed ourselves by spending only $57. The only things not on the reciept* (below) that we should count towards the food costs are a $1.75 container of dried black beans and a dozen eggs; both of which we already had at home.  $11 of the $57 is coffee. $5 is raw almonds (Oliver's favorite snack). Check back throughout the week to see how we make it work.

$60 5 day, real food meal plan for two adults:
Breakfast - oatmeal (weekdays), bacon and eggs (weekend)
Lunch - black beans
Dinner - London Broil (on salad, on a sandwich and on it's own) with YDFM and homegrown vegetables

*click to enlarge

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fancy Beer Friday: Brett Beer


Today's Fancy Beer Friday beer is another great bomber from the Lips of Faith series. This one is a collaboration with Lost Abbey Brewery. The result is Bretta Beer. It has a lightly funky, sour edge with a hint of citrus. Grab one before they're gone!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What's for lunch? Left over grilled chicken with salad

Lunch today was a grilled chicken leg (left over from Tuesday's dinner). I brought it to the office with a container full of lettuce and some home made dressing. 

The photo below is from my drive home. A giant summer thunderstorm caught me by surprise!