Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Flu-Fighters

One of my favorite sections in the Wall Street Journal is the weekly Health and Wellness supplement. This week's seasonal topic: The Flu, or more accurately, how you can eat your way to a healthier immune system. According to article writer Laura Landro, the key ingredients to fighting germs are: Vitamin D, Selenium, Vitamin A, Zinc, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B-6. These can be found among the usual suspects of a healthy diet, whole grains, beans and legumes, green and brightly colored fruits and veggies and fortified milk.

What this article tells me is that while winter may be a time for indulging in your favorite potato chips, cookies, and pies, it should also be a time for beefing up on all the healthy food as well. Our dinner last night was a case in point: an appetizer of edamame, main course of lean pork loin marinated with plenty of garlic and lime juice and a side of sweet potato cubes baked in the oven with olive oil. So far we got a few of the colors necessary for a healthy diet, green and yellow-orange, plus fiber and protein. But let's go to the video tape to be sure.

By the video-tape, I mean Prevention Magazine's Nutrition Advisor edited by Mark Bricklin, a recent Goodwill find that outlines all the vitamins and minerals in over 1,000 foods. So here we go:
Edamame: protein, folate (B vitamin), calcium, zinc
Sweet potato: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, riboflavin, fiber
Pork: thiamine, zinc, B vitamins, niacin, potassium

Not too shaby. Interesting fact also gleaned from Prevention, sweet potatoes have more vitamin a than most other vegetables. So go for seconds and thirds of the spuds this Thanksgiving!

Sources: Landro, Laura. "The Flu-Fighters-- in Your Food." The Wall Street Journal. 11/24/09
Bricklin, Mark. Prevention Magazine's Nutrition Advisor: The Ultimate Guide to the Health-Boosting and Health-Harming Factors in your Diet. Emaus: Rodale, 1993.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bangkok Bistro - Kantok platter

My favorite thing about eating Asian food is going with a big group, ordering a table-full of dishes, and tasting a little bit of each one. Now, when you eat out with just two or three, especially for lunch, your choices are a bit limited, but not if you order the Kantok platter at Bangkok Bistro. You get your own personal lazy susan with four different dishes: Pad Thai (possibly the best we have ever had), basil chicken, curry tofu and drunken noodles with just enough white rice in the center to soak up all the yummy sauces. If you order apps, this will be too much food, but for one person with an eclectic palate it is perfect.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Aunt Sandy's Chicken Wings

Ummm, chicken wings! Buffalo style, sweet and sour, salt and pepper, I'll take them any style. But when it's time to make wings at home, there is one recipe I know I can rely on for savory, sticky, delicious wings! It's a family recipe, handed down from Vince's mom to us (ok, so it doesn't have the longest history, yet!) But it is a favorite with all of Vince's cousins (hence the name), nieces, nephews and the in-laws. I made these wings a few months ago and I just ran across the recipe today and thought I would put it in a more permanently secure space and share it with you, my dear readers.

So, here it is:
2 lbs of chicken wings (cut in half, no tips)
7 oz. of Kikkoman soy sauce (it has to be Kikkoman, no substitutes, please)
1 tsp dry mustard powder
7 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Mix all these ingredients together in a plastic freezer bag and add the wings. Smush around so that all the wings get coated and marinate for an hour in the fridge. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the wings on a baking sheet with raised sides and pour the marinade over the wings. Baste and turn the wings every 20 minutes and make sure they don't start to burn. Cook for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the wings reach the desired level of gooey-ness. Serve and watch them disappear!
Correction!!!!! I just found out that the history of these wings goes back one generation further. Vince's grandmother Dolores, gave it to her daughter Aunt Sandy (my mother-in-law), so this is a third generation recipe! Awesome!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Northern Virginia Magazine: 50 Best restaurants

Northern Virginia Magazine recently put out their guide to the 50 best restaurants in the area. Although my criteria for the best restaurants in the area is definitely different from theirs (high marks for Eventide in Clarendon was the first tip off), I found out that Vince and I had actually been to quite a few of these without the benefit of the guide. One of the more surprising picks was Foti's in Culpeper, VA, not because the food wasn't good, but because it is so out of the way!

Vince and I had a 1-month anniversary dinner there about a year ago and found it to be quite tasty. Although we didn't get any pictures of the food, here is a (blurry) one of the interior. It was pretty nice, not particularly memorable. I can't remember what we ate there, and I can probably still give you a bite by bite rendition of our first meal at Tosca. Still it was neat to see that our dining out instincts are still sharp, at least by NoVA mag standards. Willow Restaurant, also on the top 50 list, is quite delicious and centrally located if you live in the Arlington/Alexandria area.
If anyone else has read this issue of the magazine and eaten at one of the "top 50" leave a comment. What do you think? Do the restuarants live up to the hype??

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It's getting chilly!!!

The weather has really cooled down in the last couple of days. Bright sunny skies, but a definite chill in the air. Vince says it smells crisp, and I think it smells like the first gust of cold air that comes out of the freezer when you open the door. I know that might sound like a crazy comparison, but I really do feel that the coming of winter is like entering a sub-zero refrigerator, minus climate control.

Regardless of the sweaters, this is a great time of year to be enjoying warm and savory soups like this lobster bisque from Firehook Bakery in Alexandria, just the right thing when shopping on King Street downtown:

And yes, that's a slice of olive bread on the side, absolutely delicious for dipping and I must find the recipe.

Or a nice glass of red wine and some tapas like this piquillo pepper and buffala mozzarella sandwich from Grape and Bean also in Alexandria.