Seattle Dinner out with the Girls: Shibumi

4 Jun

It is officially summer in Seattle (according to zero scientific sources other than the completely inaccurate and undependable Sampson-ometer) and everything around here is amazing! The weather is warm, travel is in full swing, and I can walk to meet the girls for dinner pretty much anywhere in town.

Roasted peppers at Shibumi photographed by Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger for A Half Cup

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Once a month or so, I meet up with two of my BOD (Board Of Directors – by which of course I mean all the incredibly intelligent, powerful, selfless, beautiful inside and out women I surround myself with, whose opinions I value highly). These two women are, in addition to all of the above, stunning and hilarious – your basic total package. (Sorry guys, they’re taken).

Last time we got together, we had dinner at Miller’s Guild, which was completely amazing, although the lighting lent itself more to being romanced by all the incredible food and surroundings rather than taking pictures of all the food.

Seared ahi tuna and server at Miller's Guild discussing menu options.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

This time around, we headed up to The Hill to Shibumi Izakaya. One of the BOD knows the chef/owner and we decided to give it a whirl with her. Here’s what we had….

  • Spicy pork gyoza
  • Green beans with sesame dressing
  • Burdock and carrot kinpira
  • Pork croquettes (which I think was a special?)
  • All three wagyu zabuton options: sliced, seared and chopped….. AHHHHHHHHHHH MAZING (holy cow I love wagyu)
  • Pork belly kushiyaki
  • Marinated black cod
  • Tonkatsu ramen
  • Dessert: I believe chef said it was a green tea (matcha) mousse ice cream and it had black and white sesame seeds with a vanilla shortbread cookie

Sooooooooo, yeah, basically we ate almost the entire menu, but that’s what I love both about a small plates restaurant and the BOD – they’re always down to share, stories and dishes!

Of course I really tried not to take pictures and just enjoy the dinner because we don’t have them often enough, but after the seared wagyu, I just couldn’t help myself….

Shaved Wagyu:

Sliced Wagyu Beef at Shibumi in Seattle, photographed by Siiri Sampson

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Pork gyoza:

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Pork Belly Tonkotsu Ramen:

Pork Belly Tonkotsu Ramen:

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Pork Belly Tonkotsu Ramen

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

There were definitely some things I couldn’t eat (but had a bite of anyway) with my limitations carried over from the Whole30 (still steering clear of legumes, dairy and wheat), but there were some really good bites here. I’ve heard polarized opinions, but my recommendation is to go check it out and form your own opinion! Try everything with pork belly (the worlds single greatest invention and meat product), and get the seared wagyu, you won’t be sorry.

 

…Because everyone loves an underdog

25 May

Saying that this post is overdue is an understatement even I don’t feel comfortable with making. If you’ve been following along with the blog for the past few months you’ll remember that I had entered a cooking competition again this year – the Girl Scouts of Western Washington’s Cookie Recipe Contest – a competition for food bloggers.

Samoas Coconut Cream Filled Croissant Doughnut by Siiri Sampson

This was the third year I entered, and I was hell bent on winning this year. After placing 3rd overall in my first year, and then not even making the Top 5 my second year, I had officially adopted the Underdog title of this competition. For those of you that know me in real life, the food world, or just through the blog, you know I love a challenge. You want me to achieve something? Just tell me I can’t do it. Sure fire recipe for success (sorry, food puns abound….have we met?).

To refresh your memory, here’s the post of my submission for the contest: http://ahalfcup.com/2014/02/12/samoa-coconut-cream-filled-croissant-donut/

Go ahead and read it (it’s over the top, I’m aware), I’ll wait……

Okay good. Now that you remember what I submitted, and saw the spoiler alert, I won! WOOT.

Croissant Doughnuts with toasted coconut and triple glaze

Toasted Coconut…..doughnuts….what else could you want?

I know it’s cheesy to the max, but I truly find that my successes are, in fact, sitting atop a tightly grouped cluster of many previous failures. All those lessons, compounded and steeped in calculated risk and humility. While losing is sad and disappointing, I have the following things to say about why I LIKE losing:

  1. I know I will lose exponentially more times than winning, so anticipating failure helps me focus on what lesson I’ll learn for later that will one day contribute to my success
  2. If I don’t lose, the wins don’t feel as good or deserved
  3. Aim higher people – the struggle brings way more creativity
  4. When you fail, you learn about what you don’t like (Shaping what you do like) and what your thresholds are, ultimately pushing your competitive edge further
  5. You store away the memory of what went wrong and can tap into that, should that obstacle arise later on, making you more agile

All of this is to say, I had been plotting my upset for sometime. My incredible work team had helped me think through the factors that create an iron clad winner (and, no, I’m not sharing that equation. SERIOUSLY?! You’d be SHOCKED how many people have asked me….). I embarked on the creation of the Samoas Coconut Cream Filled Croissant Doughnut.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

But the most interesting part of this years competition was what happened after I won. I went on a little Seattle media tour, sharing my creation with various media outlets, and helping to promote the Girl Scouts cookie sales. What a wonderful way to be able to help boost sales for such a great organization!

Many people have asked me to share the video and radio segments, and so, without further ado, allow me to dump all the media on you. For real, you guys, get comfy, grab a snack and enjoy. Here comes ALLLLLLL the pictures and videos as I take you through the week:

The day before the winner was announced, all the Top 5 finalists were invited to appear on the live 4pm broadcast of KOMO 4 News with Mary Nam. So we met up (for the first time), and shared our treats with the news team and each other. The other women finalists were so nice, their treats were insanely good and we really enjoyed meeting each other.

Making sure I'm camera ready - I *rarely* take pictures like this, but needed feedback from a couple friends before leaving the house. Now I'm glad I have a picture to freeze this day in time!

Making sure I’m camera ready – I *rarely* take pictures like this, but needed feedback from a couple friends before leaving the house. Now I’m glad I have a picture to freeze this day in time!

All the finalists lining up for our segment on the news room floor while the broadcast is live.

All the finalists lining up for our segment on the news room floor while the broadcast is live.

You never know what your set up will be, so it's important to bring materials with you to stage your food, and be able to improvise!

You never know what your set up will be, so it’s important to bring materials with you to stage your food, and be able to improvise!

Mary was very kind and let us take a few pictures with her, since I know everyone was a little nervous and we wanted to remember how much fun we'd had!

Mary was very kind and let us take a few pictures with her, since I know everyone was a little nervous and we wanted to remember how much fun we’d had!

While we were filming the live segment, we had a special guest (Steve Poole) sneak up and snag one of my treats. Luckily he loved it!

While we were filming the live segment, we had a special guest (Steve Poole) sneak up and snag one of my treats. Luckily he loved it!

And here is the live segment video: (sorry, my blog is being a PAIN and won’t let me paste/embed the video. Right click the link below and “Open in a new tab”)

http://www.komonews.com/home/video/Girl-Scout-Cookie-Recipe-Contest-247943671.html?tab=video&c=y

After that segment was over, the radio show down the hall had us come on for an impromptu interview as well:

Myself and Stephanie (the amazing creator of the competition who works tirelessly for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington) in the booth for the radio show.

Myself and Stephanie (the amazing creator of the competition who works tirelessly for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington) in the booth for the radio show.

Looking back into the news room from inside the booth during the show.

Looking back into the news room from inside the booth during the show.

And here’s the clip from our radio segment: (well, darn, I need to convert it to a video and upload to YouTube, so that’ll happen later and I’ll update the post. Sorry!)

The few days after winning were a whirlwind! I was surprised and elated to finally win – especially after having tasted the other creations, meeting the finalists and seeing some of their blogs. It felt great to compete against fellow bloggers I knew were giving me a run for my money!

My next stop was a cooking segment on New Day Northwest, the local morning show on King 5 here in Seattle, with Margaret Larson:

I had a good amount of time to set up, which I needed to get all my stations set!

I had a good amount of time to set up, which I needed to get all my stations set!

Looking at all my "notes to self" to ensure I don't miss a step I plan on showing.

Looking at all my “notes to self” to ensure I don’t miss a step I plan on showing.

Siiri prepping her station on New Day Northwest

Stephanie and I behind the scenes, making sure we have all the talking points down to promote the cookie sales.

Stephanie and I behind the scenes, making sure we have all the talking points down to promote the cookie sales.

Before the segment, talking through details with Stephanie and our producer.

Before the segment, talking through details with Stephanie and our producer.

During the taping of a show, they do lead ins and teasers for the segment. This is from backstage, where you can watch on the monitor as the teaser is taped, and see what it looks like on TV.

During the taping of a show, they do lead ins and teasers for the segment. This is from backstage, where you can watch on the monitor as the teaser is taped, and see what it looks like on TV.

Prepping for the walk through.

Prepping for the walk through.

Siiri Sampson getting mic'd up for her segment on New Day Northwest

Producers working with food blogger Siiri Sampson, to prep her cooking segment

Working with a great team of producers and camera men prior to the taping to ensure our shot list was ready and all the product was well merchandised.

Here's what the studio looks like when you're actually there, in the audience.

Here’s what the studio looks like when you’re actually there, in the audience.

And here’s the segment if you saw it online or at home on TV: (sorry, my blog is being a PAIN and won’t let me paste/embed the video. Right click the link below and “Open in a new tab”)

http://www.king5.com/new-day-northwest/Girl-Scout-Cookie-Recipe-Contest-Winner-248208121.html

The following day, I headed over to KCPQ Q13, our Seattle Fox station, for a live segment where I had two super cute girl scouts with me on a live segment. Kaci, Bill, Adam and the rest of the crew were wonderful and made short work of my samples!

 

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

When I arrived, these super sweet girl scouts were awaiting their chance to cook along side me on the show.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

My “hard at work” face, of course no idea my picture is being taken. Classic Sampson move! Since we’re on a closed set and I’m in the same sound stage as the live news broadcast, everything for set up has to be done completely silent.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Most of the set up had to be done during commercial breaks and when stories went to prerecorded segment sections since I had to unpack, move things around and generally, that involves lots of kitchen noise!

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Setting up the abbreviated station format to ensure we made it through the whole dish in our allotted time.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

There you can see some of the rest of the sound stage.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Here, you can literally see the news going on, in real time, right behind me. It was a neat opportunity to see what things look like on the back end.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Ah ha! I got caught! :) Almost done setting up, but you know me….everything has to be JUST SO!

 

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

And here’s the other half of the sound stage.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Trying to be SUPER quiet – which we all know is a massive stretch (no pun intended here) for me.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Chatting up the anchors during a commercial break. None of the food was heated, but there was actually SO much sugar and coconut in the recipe that, under the set lights, it heated things up to a point where you could smell the Croissant Doughnuts across the room.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Taping the live teaser.

 

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Getting the girl scouts set up and taking pictures for their memory books.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Walking the girls through their tasks and having them help me prep a station.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Showing the girl scouts how to fill the treats, so they knew just what to do when it was their turn.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

Waiting our turn….

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

And then, the segment went live and we chatted with the wonderful Kaci Aitchison.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

The whole crew devouring the samples after our segment was over.

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

A couple quick pictures!

Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest Siiri Sampson, Seattle Food Blogger and Winner of the 2014 Girl Scouts of Western Washington Cookie Recipe Contest

And here’s the segment: (sorry, my blog is being a PAIN and won’t let me paste/embed the video. Right click the link below and “Open in a new tab”)

http://q13fox.com/2014/03/04/girl-scout-cookie-recipies/#axzz2v1fnJbwA

 

Then, I finally made it over to visit with some food friends of mine on the radio show Seattle Kitchen:

Sampson_Seattle Kitchen Segment for Girl Scouts of WW_030614

Thierry Rautureau, Me, Tom Douglas, and Katie O on the Go!

WP_005931

The show goes on! Tina and Katie O hard at work!

The show goes on! Tina and Katie O hard at work!

#Groupie of Thierry, Tom and I after our segment was over.

#Groupie of Thierry, Tom and I after our segment was over.

 

And here’s that segment: http://kiroradio.com/listen/9968785/

You should sign up for their podcast (http://www.kiroradio.com/SeattleKitchen) , it’s hilarious and educational – a winning combination!

And in case you’re wondering, yes, this was part of my winnings. I was also given enough Girl Scout Cookies to last a lifetime, some cash money, and bragging rights. Also, I can literally enter again next year…..we’ll see if I’ve got any steam left in me for a repeat.

One last note before I sign off tonight:

I so appreciate all the support and encouragement from family, friends and colleagues I continue to receive. Going through this process, while seemingly no big deal, is pretty hard. Putting yourself out there with the potential of being beat again – it’s not easy. And throughout it all, I’ve had a great crew of people. There’s one person in particular who has been my number one cheerleader and dedicated so much energy and time to helping me, listening to me, brainstorming and then celebrating (which included a ton of work to get all these segments done). My oldest and dearest friend, Adam, has been by my side through it all. He is family to me, and I know he always has my back. At the drop of a hat, he cleared his schedule to be with me at every single TV segment, picking me up early, driving me around, prepping food behind the scenes, letting me be a total controlling freak about the direction each item faced, etc. And he did it all with a smile – and then took every single picture you see above. He is just INCREDIBLE. Adam, thank you from the bottom of my heart – you are simply the best and I literally could not have done any of that successfully without you!

 

Cast Iron Skillet Roasted Chicken and Kumquats with Broccolini

19 May
Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

I thought I was going to start back where I’d left off – two months ago. But as I stared down the black hole of jogging my memory from a cold crank start, I reeeeeeeeally had a hard time feeling like I had the energy to do that. Why didn’t I have the energy? Well, for starters, dang there’s a LOT of pictures you guys. I’m worse than all our parents combined used to be in the ’80s on Christmas Day, okay? Digital media has turned me into the thousand snapshot gal. If I don’t take a ton, and then they are all blurry, I’m upset with myself! Also, I had just made this insane chicken dish above, and so I am physically tired. It was a long weekend and I just couldn’t. Instead, I thought I’d get the ball rolling and start where I am right now! Here we go….

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

What I made: Cast iron roasted organic whole fryer chicken stuffed with sweet yellow onions and garlic. Oven roasted with onions, kumquats, basil, garlic, olive oil, sea salt, fresh ground pepper, candied grapefruit zest and grapefruit sugar. Served with steamed broccolini, a pan sauce with capers and finished with kumquats in simple syrup.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Let’s put it this way – no one was there to witness the insanity of amazing smells coming out of my kitchen, but I’m guessing my neighbors enjoyed the wonderful scent wafting down the hallway this evening.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

One thing I love about using a cast iron skillet, besides it’s innate ability to up your basic street cred by a couple notches, is all the flavor it imparts on every dish from all the years of seasoning. It just moves things along, deepens what you give it, and acts as a silent partner in the kitchen. It’s high fiving you all the way to your stomach. For this dish, there is really nothing more than basic prep of a few ingredients:

  • Rinse and pat dry your bird (make sure you got all the guts out of the cavity first, and save them for your pan sauce or another dish later in in the week like I did).
  • Slice your onions, peel your garlic, halve your kumquats, and chiffonade your basil
  • Drizzle your skillet in olive oil then place the bird in there, coat it in olive oil, salt and pepper
  • Shove half an onion and 2-3 cloves of garlic in the cavity
  • Tie the legs together with twine (or if you don’t have any you can make a rope from tin foil and use that to hold them together – maybe I’ll do a little video tutorial on some small kitchen hacks like that…)
  • Nest all your veggies and fruits around the bird, sprinkle with basil
  • Bake on middle to low rack at 375F for 45 min, then reduce to 350F for an additional 30 min
Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

When you pull the bird out in the skillet, remember that the skillet will stay hot for essentially the rest of your life and leave a hand towel on the handle to prevent awful burns and stories about the ER being slow to help you on a Sunday night while you lean away from that person with the heinous cough sitting next to you with a gash in their forehead, okay? Great, moving on then….

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Remove the bird from the skillet, set aside on a rimmed sheet or dish to rest, cover and crimp with tin foil to keep all the juices in. Then I did some extra things you can totally ignore. But if you’d like to try your hand, you’ll want to take the remaining kumquats and get them balanced out in a straightforward simple syrup on the stove top while you also reduce all the liquid in the skillet.

Wait, am I going too fast? Sorry, let me break that down:

  • 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar go into a sauce pan with sliced kumquats on medium high heat, covered till boiling, reduce to simmer and remove lid, stirring for 5-8 minutes and then set aside to cool
  • pull out all the onions and kumquats from the cast iron skillet and set them aside in another dish, cover to keep warm
  • steam your broccolini however you like it best, I have an old school metal steamer basket that works like your dad’s 1979 Chevy – its still a workhorse and you have no idea how it’s lasted this long but if it ain’t broke…..
  • reduce the liquid in the skillet on medium high heat, adding some capers and a bit of the liquid from the jar. Make a rue for thickening the sauce and whisk till the whole sauce thickens
  • Add in a bit of coriander and ground ginger to add some interest beyond chicken broth flavor, remove from heat and pour off into a jar or large measuring cup you can pour from later
Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

Plate it all up so the veggies from the skillet are the base and soak up all the other sauces, with that broccolini playing a supporting role like an edible paint brush that will absorb all the juice from the chicken and grab hold of the capers in that pan sauce as well. Finish with a drizzle of the simple syrup and kumquats, extra pan sauce and a dusting of sea salt and pepper to balance the sweetness.

Eat your face off and let that box of mac and cheese sigh with relief as it lives to see another dusty day on your pantry shelf.

NAILED IT.

The longest lunch break EVER!

18 May
Siiri Sampson having coffee at Cafe Campagne in Seattle's Historic Pike Place Market

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved

As in, if I had told you at the end of my last post that I was going to take a lunch break and then post later in the afternoon, it would’ve been the worlds longest lunch break….

We all know this happens to me sometimes, right? Blogging is just one of those things (for me) that sometimes takes a back seat as the course of life ebbs and flows. And things have been really very exciting around these parts. So I’ve been dark with good reason. But it’s time to fill in the blanks, as it were. I have loaded a ton of pictures, edited some and not others. I made a list of posts I want to get up soon, which will be interesting (let’s see how far I get, shall we?), as I continue to work on other food related projects behind the scenes.

I apologize in advance that you are going to read things like a St. Patrick’s Day post in June. But I have a feeling you don’t much care, so long as I promise to entertain you – and when was the last time I failed that mission?! Perzactly.

Brace yourself for some dusty ideas, pictures, dishes and conversations (with myself) from the archives of the past 2 months. I hope I don’t disappoint you! (but then again you can just close the web browser, I won’t know!)

 

Cha-cha-cha Chimichurri!

11 Mar

[and you thought I was gonna say "Cha-cha-cha Chia!" didn't you?!]

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

I wanted to make good on my “I’ll show you what I did for making a crazy quick and easy chimichurri sauce” comment a couple of weeks ago when I was finishing up the Whole30. I had every intention of making that happen, but then A BUNCH OF AMAZEFEST happened (which I’ll post about soon, just collecting media to share with you), and I got delayed running around the city and generally sky punching with fists of glory and happiness.

At any rate – chimichurri. A sauce so rich in flavor, with such a deep profile, it’ll stand up to any grilling technique you use on your meats. However, let’s not play here….we live in Seattle. And even though I’m as much thuglife as the next native when it comes to grilling in the rain (“SERIOUSLY, HOLD THE UMBRELLA MORE TO THE LEFT!!!”) I’m just not down with fairing the elements at this point in the calendar year. Thus, chimichurri has officially been repurposed for all things crock/slow-cooker.

I literally followed this recipe from How Sweet It Is to the letter. No need to mess with perfection – which is exactly how I’d describe this sauce.

Ingredients:

chimichurri
1 cup fresh cilantro
2/3 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Chop it…..

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Leaf it….

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Blend up quick and retrieve it…..

[Sorry, I can't go a single day without a bad 90's rap pun or reference of some kind]

WP_005767

 

 

This sauce has championed my kitchen for the past 4 weeks, making appearances on the cinnamon roasts (all 5), and more recently atop the insane pork should roast (both the bone in and the boneless versions) that blasts on high for 10hrs while I’m at the office.

 

Dear Kermit, it IS easy being green!

9 Mar

See???

Siiri Sampson - A Half Cup

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

blend 1 frozen brick chopped spinach, 1c unsweetened almond milk, 2tbsp each raw almond meal + flax seed meal, 1 ripe banana, 1 apple, 1tsp peanut butter, 1c water. Let blend 2min or until bright green. Yum! Makes 2 servings

Whole30 – the food experiment: THE WRAP UP

20 Feb

How do I feel: RELIEVED! I made it to the end and didn’t panic, freak out (at least not in public) and was able to eat (almost) enough food (almost) all of the time.

Doing things and keeping commitments is HARD WORK, people! Not because it’s actually difficult to not eat certain things, or cook specific ingredients or meals. It’s hard because when you change something as elemental in your life as food, guess what? Everything and everyone around you continue to move about daily life as if nothing has changed at all. After all, for them, it hasn’t! It’s just business as usual. Maintaining your “new” way of operating can be difficult because you’re used to using XYZ foods every day, you miss having said foods, or you don’t have the time to figure out how to do a dish differently. Also, you might realize things taste different/bad/not satisfying, things you’re not supposed to eat are in front of your face all the time and damn, they smell good too, and also because lazy (just being honest).

I am relieved that I was able to commit to a project and execute on it every day. I am relieved that I don’t have to blog every single day anymore (no offense, but aren’t you sick of me yet?! Lord knows I am!) or worry about letting a reader or two down, or more importantly letting myself down if I weren’t able to complete the challenge.

Before we get into answering some much anticipated questions and sharing details with you, please take a second to read this part (seriously, you guys, don’t skip forward, this part’s important to me):

I want to reiterate my purpose of this experiment: [here's what I wrote on Day 1]

This experiment, while only 30 days, will teach me more about what I’m capable of cooking within ingredient constraints, time constraints and also give me a true idea of my own food preferences, minus all the junk that gets added to everyday ingredients I’m used to using on the fly.

If you know me IRL (In Real Life), you know the following:

  1. I love a good challenge
  2. I am INSANELY competitive (but now mostly in a good way, and primarily just with myself)
  3. I love projects that have a beginning, middle and end
  4. I love seeing results, being able to measure empirical data, and analyzing how to move forward based on concrete evidence
  5. I am hyper organized, sometimes to a fault

For the course of this experiment, I’m not going to put up any fake fronts about how I am or am not eating/feeling/looking – you’re going to get the real deal. I’m taking this back to the old school version of blogs, back when they were still “web-logs” (glorified online journals, if you will).

++++++

That was the point of this – take a process that many people use or experience for lots of other reasons (to discover food allergies or sensitivities, to help with immune disorders, to change their relationship with food, to feel better or make physical changes, etc.) and approach it strictly for a “what happens to my cooking when I only allow myself limited ingredients” experiment.

Here is a link to the Whole30 program if you are interested in educating yourself about it. I am not affiliated with it in any way whatsoever.

Getting back to how much I like data and understanding deltas now. I wish I would have kept a written log (besides daily posts) of all the vegetables and how many pounds of each I consumed. (yes, I could go back and calculate it all, but we all know that’s not happening. Like, ever.)

On the off chance the last 30 days proves to be remotely helpful or encouraging for anyone thinking about embarking on the Whole30 for any reason, I’d like to maintain the transparency I started on Day 1. As you may recall, the Whole30 program recommends you keep track of where you start and end (not vital to my reasons for doing the Whole30, but I know everyone is curious, so why not!) with pictures and measurements.

Last reminder – I’m keepin’ it REAL, this is seriously first thing in the morning, no make up, puffy eyes, right out of bed. I am normal. There are no delusions of grandeur that I look like a model without 2hrs of hair and makeup, and certainly not before 8pm. I do not wear makeup to bed and I am the angriest morning Gremlin you’ve EVER MET. Seriously, it’s rough. You’ll see the face I’m making below….that’s supposed to be me smiling. Notice how I am not *ACTUALLY* smiling? It’s because I haven’t had coffee yet.

**Also, please notice all the pictures on the left were definitely taken without my contacts being in, which explains why they’re all blurry – I checked them after taking them, but since I didn’t have contacts in, they totally looked like they were in focus! HA! well…….meh, whatever, we’re not going for picture quality here (obviously).

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 A Half Cup. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 A Half Cup. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 A Half Cup. All rights reserved.

I don’t really notice a difference being in my own body, as in, I don’t notice the weight change, size change or any difference in my clothes. But here is what happens when you restrict your ingredients, are in your early 30’s and still attempt to workout, run, take dance class, etc. during this process: bust 36″ → 34″, waist 28″ → 25″, and hips 38″ → 37.5″. And lastly, straight up height and weight: 5’9″ → 5’9″ (imagine that, my height stayed the same!) and 148lbs → 140lbs.

What I find particularly compelling are the new habits, new culinary practices, new favorite things that have crept into my daily life. As a cook, these are the things that fascinate me and the reason I am so very glad I did this. What you see below is a Chimichurri sauce I recently made from this recipe over at How Sweet It Is. I’m having it tonight on top of one of my other favorite new things – cinnamon pot roast with mint! Post coming in the next few days on my process for this staple sauce.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

You may recall I found this awesome recipe for cinnamon pot roast with mint earlier in the experiment and now I’ve made it three times. A roast can be so very many different cuts of meat. And if you just bother to ask the butcher for “an off cut to roast in the slow cooker” they’re more than happy to get you a budget friendly, beautiful piece of meat. This particular combination of ingredients yields a wonderful depth of flavor. And I basically created a sauce starter which I’ve reused each time I’ve made the roast. So it is literally cooking itself down into a deeper, more concentrated flavor profile every time I use it! SMART, Sampson, SMART!

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

I love my new morning routine with all the soft boiled eggs and their luxuriously thick yolks, along with my coffee and almond milk. I am NOT making my own almond milk anymore. It tastes way better, but I’ve got better things to do with my time, and I just don’t care enough to bother. Plus, welcome to saving a boat load of cash by purchasing a container of unsweetened plain almond milk (a half gallon) for $3.25 instead of getting 2 cups (which is? That’s right, a quarter gallon….we can do math) for about the same price and an extra 10 – 15 minutes of labor (which always happens to take place at 7am on a Monday when I’m swearing at myself for not realizing I was out during the weekend).

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Breakfast, City, Friends. Awesome. Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

All the fruit with my eggs and coffee – keeping this. I actually am looking forward to incorporating all the extra almond meal I now have in my freezer into my green smoothies as the weather gets warmer. They travel great (for the bus ride) and I will use almond milk instead of yogurt, but keep up with my 2 cups of spinach plus 1 piece of fruit and some cinnamon.

You know what else I totally love now/again? Dates! (I mean the edible kind.) (OH MY GOD YOU GUYS, I MEAN MEDJOOL DATES THAT GROW ON TREES! wow. just wow……you guys are really immature sometimes, you know that?!?!?!) Anyway, (eyeroll) I love having a couple as a snack while I cook dinner, or I can add them to my smoothie for some sweetness, even though I usually won’t because I’m not a sweet tooth.

I bet you’re wondering what I ate on DAY 31, aren’t you? Well, maybe you’re not. Maybe you’re totes over my food diary. It has been really weird to not keep one, I’ll tell you that much. I have done food diaries many times before, but this was different because I was sharing it with all of you, something I’d never done before.

I’ll at least share what I had for dinner that night. I made dinner for my friend Bridget, and took it to her house. I made the cinnamon pot roast with mint, and a baby greens salad with kalamata olives, capers, tomatoes and my other new favorite – avocado tahini dressing.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2014 Siiri Sampson. All rights reserved.

WP_005410And I even had a glass of wine! That was my first add-in and I picked a red I thought would go with the pot roast. It was fine, but too sweet. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. It was still a nice treat, almost as nice as all the awesome catching up and conversation. Bridget is awesome, funny, talented, smart and fun to spend time with – great friend!

That was part of Day 31. I bet you can guess what I had for breakfast that day, right?

As I move forward, with the reintroduction phase (which I’m now half way through) I find it is hard to really know exactly what I am getting (as I’ve been dining out a bit more) and sometimes I’ll add-in two ‘new’ things in one day, which I’m not supposed to do, but you know what? I’ll live. I am figuring out what ingredients are staying off my plate for the most part, and what ones will get to make guest appearances. Most of all, I’m stoked that I have a new set of foundational standbys like raw almonds for snacks, eggs for breakfast every morning, new one-pot dishes, new sauces and dressings, and with all the seasonal crops changing, I get to explore new produce on the weekly.

Lesson of the day: The experiment NEVER really stops, does it? Extrapolate that in any way you want, it’s still true.

Even when something scares you, in fact, especially when something scares you, do it anyway.*

*I can’t take credit for that nugget of wisdom, but I will reuse it every day. A very awesome person told me that before I started this experiment, and they were totally right.

Thank you for being a part of this experiment with me, and for your ongoing inquiries, encouragement and well wishes! If you have questions or comments, it would be awesome if you would leave them below, rather than over email or Facebook. This way, it’ll all be together. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish this croissant. Just kidding…..?

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