Monthly Archives: February 2010

>I moved to Michigan about a year ago and while I work in the smaller town of Big Rapids and live in teeny tiny town of Howard City the truth is that I spend the majority of my time in Grand Rapids. Which I love. And where I will finally move this summer.

I feel like I haven’t really done the city justice on this blog. In some ways it’s plain ol’ hard to compare Grand Rapids to my previous home of Bloomington, Indiana. They’re so different. Bloomington is a ridiculously hip college town. Full of ethnic food, culture, and held together by a tight-knit community. I miss that place so very much sometimes.

… but Grand Rapids (Grand Rapids!!!!)….
– is a small city but a true city. A little bit of everything is there for the finding IF you take the time to find it.
– doesn’t have rapids. Unless you count a 1ft drop in a concrete canal….
– has large Mexican and Vietnamese neighborhoods with all of the fun grocery stores and restaurants that correspond with such areas.
– has a small but classy downtown for slicker restaurants and some boutique shopping.
– has a freaking fantastic martini bar/wine bar.
– DOES get music that excites me (Joanna Newsom anyone?)
– has many small hip restaurants with great food.
– has the largest, longest, and best funded full-city art festival of anywhere in the country.
– has the #3 beer bar in the country.
– is truly involved in the microbrew revolution. Michigan hosts many of the country’s top microbreweries and at least 3 of them are within an hour drive of the city. These guys take beer more seriously (and are better at it) than anywhere else I’ve lived.
– has AMAZING thrift shopping.
– has a big Irish seisun.
– embodies a serious love of tapas.
– is the home of P.

Unfortunately it would be really hard to explore this city without a car. Sometimes it can be hard to track things down. Sometimes the nightlife is a bit slicker than what I prefer. Sometimes I wish Spring was here.

But still. Lovin’ the Mitten.

>Gnocchi

>

My partner P. is Italian, carnivorous, and frankly a big muscly guy. I am Jewish, vegetarian, and frankly a tiny little girl. He has been exceptionally tolerant of the sometimes weird hippie cooking that tends to come from my kitchen and never complains (though always orders meat when we eat out).

So I find myself experimenting with some more mainstream dishes when he’s around. Not that he won’t eat my riff on Southern Style Greens w/ BBQ Seitan (All hail Lord Seitan. Praise Seitan!!), but sometimes I want to make sure that I don’t send him screaming and running towards the nearest Micky D’s in the hills.

Though one of the rare great things about Howard City is that they’re so small the only fast food place in town is a Subway in the gas station. They don’t get a lot of business, not that the local places are any better, but at least they’re local (though their cheeze sure ain’t).

Needless to say I’ve been cooking a lot more pasta since Mr. Italian Stallion came around. Left to my own devices I only ever cook Asian rice noodles, maybe some soba noodles, an occasional pity Aimee’s Macaroni when exausted and depressed. I always up the hippie-factor by adding as many greens as possible. Recently I’ve been toying w/ the notion of making some pasta by hand (w/ no machine) and finally settled on trying a Ricotta Gnocchi recipe from Delicious Days. It said “easy!” and “simple!” and “fast!” and I fell for it like a sucka.

They were good, though I’d do things differently next time. I kept reading about not adding too much flour or kneading too long to keep the gnocchi from becoming too stiff and doughy. As a result they were a bit too delicate. And I need a new battery for my tiny scale…. I bought it for yarn, but if you were a drug dealer it would work perfectly.

The greens are delicious broccoli raab sauteed in butter w/ a lot of garlic and salt. That’s it.

Herbed Riccotta Gnocchi w/ Garlicky Broccoli Raab and Butter Beans.

IMG_0428

I think the real key to being a vegetarian is a true love of vegetables. I fucking love them. Succulant mushrooms, bitter greens, crisp lettuce, unique beans. Use enough salt but not too much. Make sure you get enough protein. Don’t eat too many processed veggie foods. In every meal have 50% vegetables 25% carbs 20% protein 5% fat. Same goes for your day as a whole. Learn a lot about cooking through books, websites, tv, radio. The more you know about food, the more tools you’ll have in your arsenal.

If you don’t eat meat, you simply don’t, won’t, can’t; I promise that you’ll figure it out. By sheer necessity.