A Sauce Condiment I Won’t Buy Again, But Really Glad I Bought Once

Because it taught me a general lesson about condiment sauces.

The scoop: This is part of a new line of sauces that Whole Foods is introducing. the others did nothing for me, but this sounded intriguing — “White Pumpkin and Almond Murabba.”

Now the last is a name I’ve never heard of. And the description (and rather low calorie count of a Tbsp: 20) sold me on it:

“This preserve is used for celebrations in Central Asia and Middle East. Versatile enough to be used as a treat at any time — pair it with buttery toast, crepes, game or pork. On puff pastry with feta for an exotic twist to palmiers. Drizzle over vanilla ice cream with wine-poached pears or roasted figs.”

(D had a telling response when she saw the jar at home: “Wine-poached pears? WTF??”)

But of course I stupidly missed the most important part of the label: the second listed ingredient is sugar, so although we got this cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, mace … it’s essentially a kind of savory jam or jelly. Quite too sweet for me.

The lesson is that if a condiment/preserve goes well with just about anything, it’s some sort of jam or jelly thing. Which I don’t like.

Indeed, “murabba” is translated as “jam.”


Where To Eat in Harvard Square This Summer

(Before the students mob the place and make it impossible to get in.)

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

The “small” sized combo plates will be plenty for most folks. Be sure to put your soft-boiled egg into the ramen (delicious enrichment!). The crispy, deep-fried chicken will sate all your memories of what this should taste like. [Edit] Lightest, least-gooey gyoza wraps ever — also, stuffing not mush, has meat texture. [Edit Edit] Website reference to families is spot-on. We saw lots of children enjoying the food as much as their parents and relatives.

Act before the first moving van arrives.

Need To Cheer Up, So, Good News on Weight

One of the ways I lost more than 40 pounds over the last few years is sticking to a pretty regulated eating schedule: breakfast (sometime around 8 AM), lunch (sometime around Noon), afternoon snack (sometime around 4PM) and dinner (sometime around 7-9PM). And that’s IT! No other munching or snacking or eating unconsciously.

I know from experience that even two weeks of travel does not disrupt the works. But this summer has been different. For going on six weeks we’ve been hitting the roads and skies and rails with a trip to New York City, a trip to Montana and a trip to Montreal. There is no freaking way to keep a meal schedule tight when you have to attend timed exhibitions, weddings and parties, and a batch of music concerts.

So, I was worried when I stepped on the scale this morning.

I had gained only one pound.

Even better news is that I am having no trouble falling back into my routine with the clock. Doesn’t feel like a struggle or unsatisfactory. But I’m not going to make one of my old mistakes and decide I can throw things on autopilot. Must. Consciously. Stick. With. The. Plan.

Dump the Fruit Juice

An innate quality of being brainwashed is that you don’t know you are.  I gave up sodas in my mid-20s because my taste buds had developed enough I could sense how much they were mere liquid candy. But I remained convinced that 100% fruit juice was healthful and drank it every day when I was thirsty until about four years ago. I seriously needed to lose weight and a nutritionist clued me in that a key way to do that was stop drinking the juice-based equivalent of sodas.

Fruit juice is a scam. Been reported more and more often, but can’t be emphasized enough.

Big Green Grunge No More

I’ve mentioned how much we enjoy cooking on our Big Green Egg and what we put on it. (Trust me — do a search.) But out of sheer laziness and mindlessness, I’d bought into the sometimes-floated-around notion that Eggs more or less manage themselves so long as you scrape the small amounts of ash out of the bottom. Yeah, sure.

Esp. this past winter I noticed the Egg was taking much longer than usual to get up to full cooking temp, would not go higher than 350 degrees (which was enough for almost everything, anyway). So I resolved that when it got warm this year I would take out all the leftover wood-chunks in the bottom and see what was up.

What was up was that The Blob had gone and died in the bottom of our Egg — if The Blob was made of a gunky mix of grease and ash. Incredibly hard to remove. Then I ran across several sites that had the same (not easy but effective) routine for thorough cleaning. It does take two days but I’m here to say it works well and I’m a-gonna do it annually. My only concern is that the first time we use it after this, stuff might taste weird.