Grills Gone Wild

Monday, March 17, 2014

I don't know how I'm only just finding out about this now, but apparently local favorite Rocklands BBQ serves up unconventional meat specials once a year in an event aptly dubbed "Grills Gone Wild." Maybe it's only because I'm just now tuning into national and local food news. I'm so happy I got my head out of the hole! I would've continued to miss out on smorgasbords like the one below.

For starters, I had the muskrat brunswick stew, perfect for a chilly evening. Such a comforting stew and the textures and ingredients very much reminded me of a Maryland crab type soup. The muskrat had a mild flavor, not real "gamey", but I'm still not sure what that really means. It didn't have a "dirty" taste like I imagined a muskrat would. This one is highly recommended if you're looking for a hearty, filling stew with a different meat other than your average pork or chicken!

Next up, grilled marinated gizzards, livers 'n hearts! I couldn't quite tell you which organ was which. But if I had to guess,I most definitely enjoyed chewing on the fatty, juicy gizzard and munching on the hearts. I think it was the livers that did not appease me. They had a slightly off-putting creamy texture that I didn't think meat should have. But it was worth trying! I think all chicken nuggets should be made with the hearts! One of the best organs out there (if I have my organs right).

Isn't this just delightlful? Looky, cornbread!

Diving into aquatic meats, I also got to try the blackened blue catfish. I haven't had catfish in the longest time. I remember my dad once catching a bunch of catfish and bringing them home to cook up for dinner when I was a little girl. Catfish is not for the folks that prefer their fish mild (like tilapia or cod). It has a distinct fishy flavor to it that some may not go for, but I loved how much it tasted like its environment! If you want to go for something other than you're cornfed salmon or white fish, try this sucker out.
My favorite dish of the night had to be the wild beaver sausage sandwich with balsamic onions. What a filling, hearty "hot dog" if I ever did say so. This is probably the best dish for the less adventurous Grills Gone Wild diner. It tasted like a cross between a breakfast sausage and some sort of German brat. Super juicy and not tough or gamey. Can I have these for breakfast everyday? 

I'm coming back next year for sure! I can't wait to see what they've caught and cooked up next! Squirrel? Pigeon? Who knows!

Kale and Butternut Squash Salad

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Apologies to the lapse in blog posts last week, folks. Battled a little cold no thanks to the weather changes.

Contrary to many of the meals I post on this blog, I do try to eat healthy throughout the work week. As I've come to learn more and more about the U.S. food system through a very informative, six-week online class hosted by Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, I've attempted to adopt a more "flexitarian" diet. In other words, I am more mindful and conscious of my food choices. Where they come from, how sustainably, humanely and locally were they produced, what it can do to provide nutritional value to my body, etc. I am making strides to limit the amount of meat I consume to just the weekends or special occasions out at restaurants. I strive to keep an abundance of seasonal and colorful fruits and vegetables on my plate, whether I get them organically or not, from the perimeters of my closest Trader Joe's or the stands at my local farmers market.

The salad I created on this typical forgettable weeknight was fairly delectable and pretty simple. I used organic kale from TJ's and cage-free eggs, butternut squash and feta cheese from the farmers market. Pan roast the kale and cut-up squash til the color on both veggies darkens a little. Such beautiful colors, aren't they? Then throw some sunny side up eggs onto the mixed bed of kale and butternut squash. I added in the feta cheese, red pepper flakes and some black pepper. This actually chronicles the first time I've ever cooked butternut squash. I have to admit, I was a bit intimidated by the large, heavy and funny-looking squash. But I love its mild, dewy flavor so much so I thought what better time to start now before it's out of season.

Enjoy this fairly healthy, semi-vegetarian winter salad, friends!

Free fried oysters? I'll take 'em!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Check out this delicious oyster appetizer from Woodmont Grill I won courtesy of the many great Maryland Seafood facebook contests! I highly encourage you all to Like their page on Facebook or Follow them on Twitter so you can receive updates on the many great initiatives they are coordinating to help bring local sustainable seafood to your mouths! Look how big these fellas are! Very well-done, Woodmont Grill! The service was also impeccable!

GMO Labeling Issues

Friday, February 14, 2014

Food Industry Groups Say They'll Label GMOs, On Their Terms

How pointless. The food industry groups say they "support" the FDA devising a set of GMO labeling guidelines that are not mandatory, but voluntary for companies to follow. But they're also advocating for a bill that would bar all states from mandating these guidelines that they want. I would like to see the research that supports how much it would really cost a huge food company to add more detailed labeling to its products. You just need to add three letters: GMO. I don't understand why these corporations continue to create products it is scared will scare off its customers if they knew the full truth behind those products. Wouldn't it just be easier in the long-run to make products customers can trust, products that are healthier for consumers? I guess that would run up some production costs and I suppose the average consumer doesn't really care that much, especially in an economy where every penny counts. Oh this issue is really starting to make me mad!

Also, this.

Food Inc.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I don't know why I did it, but I decided to watch Food Inc. the other day on Netflix. It is a highly acclaimed documentary that attempts to lift the figurative "veil" that the Big Food industry deliberately casts between its dirty operations and the humble consumer. I had a feeling I was going to see things I didn't want to see that I already knew existed, like the atrocious conditions many of our food animals are confined to. The more alarming piece I learned was the power these multi-national companies hold over the little farmers, who are held in a vicious cycle of debt with their hands tied. Their legal influence into our government agencies who are supposed to effect positive policy with regards to our public health also left a sour taste in my mouth. Why does the government subsidize the very things that are bad for us (corn and soybean byproducts) and yet that also directly conflicts with what the government recommends we should eat?

These companies may think they control most of our food, but our choices as consumers can control them. If we provide a big enough market for organics and non-GMOs, I think we can slowly re-shape the industry. But most of us cannot afford to buy organics all the time and what happens when you eat out at a restaurant too? There is a solid handful of restaurants in my area that source sustainably, but what about the rest of the States?

Seeing the sludge-like stomach of a corn-fed cow, I am resolving myself to try and eat only antibiotic-free, free-range, grass-fed beef whenever possible, especially if I choose to cook that at home. Same goes for chicken and pork and fish too. It will be expensive to implement this change, but maybe this will force me to eat less meat overall, which is a proven good thing. I am going to read the food labels more closely and if there's anything I can't pronounce in the food, it's safe to say that it's GMO. I need to be more consistent with buying produce from my local farmers markets as well, whether or not the produce is organic because at least then, the produce is seasonal and fresh. That is the best I can do, but I figure it's a start?

Go watch it!

Subway - Eat Fresh?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

7 other chemicals in your food

Subway will be removing a chemical in its bread that is also found in yoga mats and shoe soles. Well, thank goodness for that. I thought they touted it as the place if you wanted to "eat fresh" and possibly lose weight like the guy in their commercials? Well, in case you wanted to find out what other dangerous chemicals found in our food, read on.

FDA, what exactly is your role these days?

Prosciutto, Olive, Tomato Pasta

Monday, February 10, 2014

Wanna step up an everyday pasta dish with minimal effort? Just add prosciutto slices, black olives and chopped tomatoes! Extremely easy but tastes a lot better than plain old pasta with sauce. Cook a box of pasta of your choice until al dente and set aside along with a cup or so of the pasta water. Saute about 5-6 cloves of chopped garlic in olive oil in the same pot. Then add the sliced black olives and cook for about a minute or so before throwing in diced tomatoes, 2 heaping tablespoons of tomato paste and 3 heaping table spoons of butter. I also added in a splash of white wine to add more moisture and flavor. Stir all together til it's thoroughly mixed. Add in the pasta and if you feel it needs even more moisture, toss in the pasta water. Finally, mix in my personal favorite ingredient, the chopped slices of prosciutto. Combine and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and parsley (I never seem to have fresh herbs or freshly grated cheese). This is a great meal on a Friday night in when you don't feel like spending a ton of effort or money, but you still want to put something nice together. (Note: I polished off the remainder of the package of prosciutto with the boyfriend after the meal. No shame.)

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