Move over Pop Corn- Lotus Seeds are in Town.

There’s a new snack food in town, and since my town is Boulder, CO, you know that snack food is healthy, or healthier, than most choices.

Popped Lotus is a new company making popped lotus seed snacks. I received a small sample in the mail and said if I enjoyed the product, I’d write about it. Well, I enjoyed it so much I devoured a bag and a half before stopping to take a photo.

Popped Lotus

I had no idea that you could pop lotus seeds like popcorn, toss them in butter, salt, and spices, and create somewhat healthy snack. The puffy balls have a thin, crunchy exterior, a light, pillowy interior, and just enough salt to have you reaching for another handful. A quick calorie check and your mind is at ease… you can have the whole bag!

Popped Lotus provides a writeup of the benefits of eating lotus seeds, which you can read here.  They currently offer two varieties- Sea Salt and Spicy Mango. I honestly enjoyed them both, but would suggest picking up a bag of the Spicy Mango if you like things with a kick.

I hope Popped Lotus does well. They have a great concept and are in the perfect town for this dare I say gluten free snack. So, put down that processed Pirate Booty and treat yourself to a less processed alternative: The Lotus Seed.

Thanksgiving 2015

We had the honor and pleasure of cooking Thanksgiving again this year for a really great family.

I bought a local turkey as I did last year from Long Shadow Farm in Berthoud, CO. Unlike last year when I arrived at the farm to find a woman seated at a desk in the garage near a large refrigerator distributing chilled birds to anyone who had pre-ordered, this year I walked into a slaughtering/de-feathering/cleaning of turkeys small-scale processing line that I was not expecting at all. Our bird hadn’t even been chilled as she had been slaughtered just a few hours prior to pickup. Talk about having a real understanding of where our food comes from! I have that image seared into my memory… and will spare you the few photos I took.

We’re very fortunate to purchase such a quality turkey, so it’s extra important to me to serve it with all made from scratch accompaniments and sides.

I made the caramelized onion gravy base on Tuesday night. I’ve been making this gravy for more than ten years now, and each year I think it tastes better than the last. The butter and onions cooked low and slow for six hours. Six. Hours.

caramelized onion gravy

I started with a full pot and snapped a photo every couple of hours…

caramelized onion gravycaramelized onion gravy

 

 

 

 

 

 

…until I couldn’t resist spooning it into my mouth.

caramelized onion gravy

Wednesday I made my pumpkin pie, but failed to snap a photo. I also made a cranberry sauce with roasted shallots and mandarin zest.

Cranberry Sauce

Thursday, Chef and I cooked the rest of the meal on site in their Boulder home. The beautiful bird went into the 325 degree oven after being rubbed with butter and herbs. She amazingly and somewhat surprisingly appeared done after just under two hours. That was a fast cooker!

Longshadow Farm TurkeyRoasted Longshadow Farm Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I put together a wild rice stuffing while Sean made a sweet potato and chevre gratin, which has now become a Thanksgiving tradition for this family.

sweet potato chevre gratinSweet Potato Chevre Gratin

The ingredients in this dish are simply sinful- The health benefits of sweet potatoes are far outnumbered by the cheese and heavy cream combo. But, that’s what makes it so GOOD too!

While the gratin baked, Sean worked on maple glazed carrots in a cast iron skillet.

maple glazed carrots

Next, he assembled green beans in shallot butter topped with fried shallots.

green beans with fried shallots

We added the pan juices to the gravy base, carved the bird,

caramelized onion gravyRoasted Local Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And set up a small buffet for them.

Thanksgiving 2015

We can’t wait until next year!

 

Spice Club

The first rule of Spice Club? Talk about Spice Club!

That’s the first thing I read when opening one of my envelopes containing three months of seasonings and recipes as a sample of the new Savory Spice Shop Spice Club.

What is Spice Club? It’s a monthly spice subscription service that delivers you a different handcrafted seasoning and an herb or spice with a recipe featuring the selected seasonings and spices. Found yourself in a recipe funk and don’t know what to make? Try out something new that was just delivered to your door. I like this idea!

Southern Spain Pinchito Spice

Above is a photo of one month’s Spice Club delivery. It’s a bag of Southern Spain Pinchito Spice, which I’ve never tried but have always been curious about trying, and a bag of Crushed Aleppo Pepper, which I always keep in my pantry and welcome the refill. The recipe card is for Grilled Pinchitos with Yogurt Lime Dipping Sauce. One side of the card explains the spices, and the other has a recipe that can be made with beef, pork, lamb, chicken, or as a vegetarian fare.

We’re really looking forward to exploring these new spices, so stay tuned to see what we make here at home.

In the meantime, check it our for yourself on Savory Spice Shop’s Website. I think my holiday shopping just got a little easier this year!

Local Turkey makes for a Bolder Thanksgiving

We LOVE sourcing local ingredients, and are so excited to have reserved a turkey with Long Shadow Farm in Berthoud, CO. We had one last year and it was phenomenal! Serving a fresh bird that had never been frozen was an absolute highlight to the gorgeous meal Sean and I prepared for some clients and their family. We can’t wait to do it again!

There’s a very limited supply of birds, so reserve one now.

Lotus of Siam, Las Vegas

Over the past few years I have heard so many people tell me that if I wanted truly authentic Thai food I needed to go to Lotus of Siam– a James Beard award winning restaurant in a mini mall in Las Vegas. As someone fortunate enough to have spent a few months in Thailand in my early twenties, I’ve had a hard time enjoying Thai food here in the US ever since. So, 2015 was the year to go to Vegas and try it out.

And, like most things that have been overly hyped by your friends, it was a bit of a disappointment and I wouldn’t go back. Don’t get me wrong here. The food was good, the service was good, and we had a good dining experience. But, I had expected so much more. I was expecting it to be more of an “authentically authentic” Thailand-type-of-food than we experienced. They did, however, have an excellent wine list to accompany their cuisine.

P1060485

Lotus of Siam frequently has a two+ hour wait to get in. We got there as soon as they opened to avoid their infamous line, which was definitely a good idea given the mini mall scenery and the dessert heat.

P1060468

While Sean perused the wine list, I started perusing the very large menu. This is where I first got weary. The menu is long. There are so, so, so many options. It’s the type of menu that covers everything and often has the same dish in a slightly different iteration on the next page. That was my first red flag. Right away I thought of the classic Southeast Asian saying, “Same Same but Different.” Over there, it’s like a joke amongst backpackers going through so many neighboring Asian countries. Over here, it felt like I was in a nondescript Chinese restaurant with a menu item that aimed to please everybody. In Thailand, however, menus are brief. Lotus of Siam claims to be northern Thai. There’s no way acclaimed restaurants in northern Thailand offer such an eclectic menu. It just doesn’t happen.

We ordered some egg rolls, tempura veggies and shrimp, and a bottle of wine to start. The wine was excellent, the egg rolls were fine, and the tempura veggies and shrimp were very unimpressive. There was so much breading, so little flavor, and it’s really not a traditional Thai dish in the first place. Nor were the egg rolls. In hindsight, writing this, I wonder why we ordered them? We were hungry.

We ordered a cup of spicy veggie soup, which was good. We ordered a vegetarian mushroom dish, which was absolutely terrible, and we sent it back. It was a mound of cold mushrooms in the middle of a plater of raw sliced vegetables. They took it off of our bill, which was expected, but we were glad to confirm that upon receiving the bill. I enjoyed my catfish curry, but the highlight for me was the sticky rice I ordered in addition to the curry. It was almost identical to the Chiang Mai region’s sticky rice, minus the presentation.

sticky rice

In northern Thailand, sticky rice is served in dried bamboo grass. At Lotus of Siam, it’s in plastic inside a basket. Which brings me to my main point here- I’m not just trying to write something negative for the sake of complaining. I’m simply not convinced that Lotus of Siam is all that amazing. If and when you get yourself over to Thailand, you’ll say to yourself, “OMG this food is so amazing! I can’t believe how much better it is than the Thai food we eat in the US.”  Stay there long enough and you try all kinds of cuisines from Bangkok, to Chiang Mai, Chaing Rai, Sukhothai, Kanchanaburi or Mae Hong Son. For Lotus of Siam to be such an acclaimed establishment seems ludicrous to me as eating there offers very little of a truly Thai dining experience.

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