Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lunch Food Co-op, Round Three

First, I made a kale and brown rice salad.  Then, I made a pork loin roast with orzo. For the latest round of my office lunch food co-op, I made roasted chicken and butternut squash with couscous, and brussels sprouts with bacon.

I think this dish was my favorite thing that I made for the lunch food co-op.

As much as I enjoy cooking for my coworkers, and as much as I love the food that each person brings for lunch each week, the co-op is about more than just the food.

Though it's rare that all of my coworkers and I can all sit down together to eat at the same time, we still get to share lunch once a week.  We talk about what the lunch of the week is, we chat about our weekends, and we share cooking tips.

I honestly don't think this lunch co-op would have been such a success if I didn't love the people that I work with.  As it is, though, I actually consider my coworkers friends, and I couldn't imagine doing the work that I do without them.  They are a very supportive bunch, and we even have fun together outside of work.  I know that these lunches are something we all look forward to each week.

I feel very fortunate to work with people that I actually care about and look up to. And when I make these lunches, I feel as though I am thanking my coworkers for guiding me, for listening, and for being there for me, especially when I need a margarita after work!

Roasted Chicken with Butternut Squash

1 butternut squash, trimmed, peeled, and seeded, then cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs and legs
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss cut butternut squash and onions with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place in an oven proof baking dish.  Clean and dry chicken pieces.  Season with salt and pepper.  Arrange on top of butternut squash in dish.  Bake for about 45 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

1 pound brussels sprouts, cleaned, trimmed, and halved
1/4 pound bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper

Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  When hot, add bacon and cook until almost crisp.  Add brussels sprouts and brown, tossing frequently.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover for 3-5 minutes, until sprouts are tender.  Serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


The thing that I love most about exploring new cities is eating my way through them.  By way of food, I feel I can get to know the different neighborhoods in a city, the cultures of the people living in those neighborhoods, and even the geography of a city.  After all, restaurants, bars, and corner cafes make great landmarks, don't they?

A couple of weekends ago, I went to visit my good friend Dan in Philadelphia.  He's in grad school there, and I had been meaning to visit him for some time, but just never booked a ticket.  The minute I did, I set out to search for the must-eat places in Philadelphia.  I read online about the famous Reading Terminal Market, and where to find the best cheesesteak.  Well, I read about a lot of people's opinions on where to find the best cheesesteak.  Knowing Dan, I knew he would be up for doing almost nothing but eating. And Dan, knowing me, knew that I would have these things that I wanted to do, so he left the weekend wide open.  Like I said, he's a good friend.

Just like eating your way around a city is a good way to get to know it, eating with a person is a good way to get to know your friend.  Dan is a great person to eat with.  For one thing, he loves to eat.  For another, he loves to eat bacon.  (Remember Baconfest?  Dan was my partner in crime!)

Our very first stop in Philly was to get some cheesesteaks.  As Dan drove us toward our destination, he explained that we were going to Pat's and to Geno's.  We would get one cheesesteak from each.  The thing was, though, we couldn't be seen at one place with the cheesesteak from the other.  So we split up and got our cheesesteaks, both whiz-with, meaning cheez whiz on top, with onions.  We brought them back to Dan's place, cut them in half, practically inhaled them, and made our decision.



It was unanimous.  Pat's had tastier steak, better bread, and more cheez whiz.  We both agreed that Pat's was the winner.

The showdown!

The next day, we headed to Center City, where we were planning on going to lunch at the Reading Terminal Market.

City Hall

I had heard from various sources that Reading Terminal was the place to go in Philadelphia for food.  And boy, was it ever.

Reading Terminal was definitely my favorite part of our tour around Philadelphia.  Bustling with tourists, visitors, and regulars, Reading Terminal is a veritable food lover's paradise.  Shoppers crowded around every food stall, restaurant, and display case; not a single vendor lacked customers.  After walking around a bit and assessing our options, Dan and I stopped at the Grill at Smuckers.

I went for the pot roast beef sandwich, while Dan opted for a breakfast sandwich.  A breakfast sandwich that, he claimed, was the best breakfast sandwich he had ever had.  In his life.  Now that's saying something!

We waddled out of Reading Terminal stuffed and content, and honestly, we didn't do much else after that.  We sat in the park, taking in the last bit of sun the season had to offer.  It was a lovely day.

The next morning, before my bus back to New York, we headed to Chinatown for lunch.  I spotted a sign for handmade shaved noodles, and dragged a slightly reluctant Dan towards it.  Inside, we found a full house and a limited menu.

However, when beef brisket noodle soup and noodles with peanut sauce are on the menu, not much else needs to be going on to draw a crowd.  Not to mention the one guy turning pounds and pounds of flour and water into hand pulled noodles right in front of your eyes.  I was mesmerized.

Three generous portions of noodles later, Dan and I found ourselves waddling once again out on the streets of Philadelphia.

Eating and waddling, waddling and eating.  Not too shabby.

After a quick pit stop for some Japanese candy, we headed towards the bus station.  I bid a fond farewell to Dan, and to Philadelphia, the friend and the city that had fed me so well.