Profile

rllevy

In my former life, I was a chemical engineer and did food technology R&D. After finishing grad school, I work for a company that does public healthcare. I assess the clinical, quality, and cost efficacy of medical management programs.

  • Location: Missouri
  • Favorite foods: pesto, sundried tomatoes, baby carrots, fuji apples, a good glass of dry red wine or belgian beer, olives, vanilla, citrus, tofu, beans, anything spicy, caramelized or truffle-infused pad thai, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cheese
  • Last bite on earth: A Mr. Softee ice cream cone with chocolate shell dip

Let them eat cake! --Dinner 1/15/2010?

anything smooshy. I got a salad after getting mine and wow, what a bad idea.

maybe some mac 'n cheese? nothing too crusty, crunchy, chewy. and if he's abrading from the metal, nothing too acidic that could irritate his mouth.

the escarole might get trapped, and the breadsticks will be a little tough to chew. even if they're soft, they're chewy.

How do you eat for a week for $50?

we keep it under $80/wk for two people. This includes dinner for two on a weekend night. I am on 40% travel so I get 2 days, 1 night worth of food on the company, but we usually eat takeout or a lowkey dinner out the night I return and that makes up the difference.

one of the best ways to get this under control is coupons. sure, there's lots for gross prepared foods like chef boyardee. you'll find coupons for staples, like rice, pasta, yogurt, cottage cheese, oil, vinegar, spices, baking staples, frozen veggies, bread, cereal and oatmeal, canned tomatoes and veggies, bacon, sausage, lunchmeats, etc. and for the occasional lindt candy bar or other sweet treat.

What would "they" say about you?

my better half once told me "I know I'm with the right person. Who else will balance my investment portfolio while braising a pork belly?".

and I know our cat kid is always saying "mom, when are you going to roast another chicken?" and "mom, why won't have ice cream at every meal?"

I hope I pass on to my real kids a european love and appreciation for alcohol. my dad's family is french. by the time I was in my early 20s, I could identify different varietals of wine, even in blends.

Why is (Diet) Soda Bad for You?

lots of people touched on the science. I get horrid migranes, which through an elimination diet I found are triggered by caffeine and non-sucralose sugar substitutes. can't imagine the stuff is too good for most of us.

granted, it's much easier to say that having given up both of those things because an incapacitating migrane wasn't worth a diet coke.

non-dairy canoli filling

if you make some yogurt cheese from greek yogurt, it should be close to ricotta and work for the LI folk. yogurt has all the yummy active cultures that replace the enzymes those of use with LI lack. Alton brown has a good easy recipe.
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/yogurt-cheese-recipe/index.html

If you really need non-dairy, not just LI approved, tofutti cream cheese is another good option; it's very much like ricotta in taste and texture.

Cooking For The Tastebud Impaired

I would do some spinach with toasted garlic and balsamic vinager. maybe try some sugar snap peas with extra salt, wasabi peas, dried edamame coated in curry, etc.

does she like indian food? a palak chicken or another veggie puree + small bits of meat type dish may work.

also, ma po tofu/chicken is spicy and a little sweet.

and there's always hot & sweet buffalo wings.

"Cleanup in aisle seven"

I bet your face was the color of beets.

In No Reservations for one of the southeast asian countries (forget which one...) one of the cameramen knocks over a storefront of a day's worth of food... yikes. at least your oopsies did not put somewhere out of business for the day!

Best "on the cheap" kitchen cheats?

i don't drink milk, and if i buy it to bake it goes bad before i can use it up.

for baked goods only (really, don't drink it, please) I keep a carton of powdered milk on hand and make up as much as I need to for each recipe. cheaper than fresh and a whole lot more cost effective since it doesn't spoil.

What Kitchen Items Would You List on a Bridal Registry?

we ended up going a slightly different route with our registry. my mom owns her own small-scale baking/catering business, so she was able to get us the industrial strength cusinart & kitchenaid. I'd been living in my own apartment without roommates for 6+ years, so I had amassed my personal arsenal of gadgetry, as had my better half, whose parents gave us some lovely bedding. my paternal grandmother left me all of her bone china, crystal, silver, ceramics, etc when she passed (I'm her only female blood relative), so we were OK on the fancy front. I'm also the only woman in my generation on the maternal side of my family, so most of our furniture came from my maternal grandma.

Because we had pretty much everything we wanted, we set up a registry at Target for a lot of basic home/baby things, and donated everything to a women's crisis shelter. We met with the director there beforehand and arranged to have everything mailed directly to the shelter. They kept a file with all the cards for us to write thank-you notes.

It's your choice to upgrade/get things you wouldn't otherwise buy, but donating our registry was one of the best decisions we made -- no bothering with returns, everything was under $100, someone else got to handle keeping track of all the madness, and everything will be used and appreciated for years. We also had so much fun picking out things for the registry, since "forgetting" something we really really wanted wasn't an issue.

"Working Lunch" suggestions?

I would bring an innocuous sandwich (turkey, cucumbers, spinach, roasted peppers and a dab of pesto on whole wheat is my current fix!).

to prevent sandwich crumbs/ick, take a piece of parchment paper. place sanwich in center. pull left and right side of paper to center and roll, cinching the sandwich in, then tuck the up&down side under the sandwich. slice the sandwich in half and pack. when you eat it, only touch the paper (peel down to eat the sandwich) to keep the ickies off your budget/hands.

apple slices with a toothpick or a banana are great accompaniments, as is a cup of yogurt. frozen grapes are also delish.

Impossible to make at home

traditional char sui -- i've seen approximations to the hang-and-cook method using the oven, but none hold a candle to the shop-cooked stuff.

I approximate mine with a similarly flavored braised pork belly, but it's just not quite the same.

Sex Before Dinner or Dinner Before Sex?

either during -- don't pretend you've never wanted to use "I think I left my wallet in the coat check" and the element of surprise. text messages are excellent for maintaining discretion and composure.

or after. there's nothing sexier than the moment when you touch the other person's arm and they realize "wait, we're going home to... score!". and then welcome to the world's longest train ride.

although, eliot spitzer, I wouldn't try to put multiple moves on your wife just yet. the 10-course meal is consolation prize enough.

30 minute menu that does NOT taste like Rachel Ray

hmmm but did it require a decent amount of spices? There is no spice rack at the cooking location.

What should I buy at Trader Joe's?

frozen broccoli, punjab spinach sauce, cheap tofu, cheap brie, mixed sixpacks of beer (if you're a ratebeers.com addict like i am, this is clutch), relatively good inexpensive organic/free range meats, precut veggies, greek yogurt, larabars, pound plus belgian chocolate, almond milk, I must be forgetting something.

be warned, they will discontinue at least 1 or 2 things you fall in love with (mint hot chocolate? chicken masala bowl? shirataki noodles? tagine sauce? oh the heartbreak!). trader joes will tear out your heart, but you'll keep coming back for more...

Who partakes in a little fast food action?

steak & shake all the way, baby.

nothing beats a frisco melt, small fries and kid's strawberry milkshake when drunk a 3am.

I'm obviously a midwestern girl ;)

What popular foods do you hate?

chocolate.

i know. i'm not human.

What is your favorite local microbrewery?

oh, also, almost forgot... the schlafly tap room. their year-round beers are pretty pedestrian. the irish stout is pretty good. but their seasonals? aw man. I've been known to stockpile the Raspberry Hefeweizen in my basement.

What was the greatest dish you've ever eaten in your life?

truffle risotto a few years ago at Tony's in St. Louis. Oh. My. God.

Question of the Day: Is your sweetheart a "foodie"?

boyfriend and I are examples of "polar opposites". last week, he adorably puppy-happy dragged me into his kitchen and said "you're going to be so proud of me, I spend almost 200 bucks on groceries today!". I think I counted a good 10 boxes of totino's pizza rolls... those are what, 3.99 a pop?

What is your favorite local microbrewery?

I'm a Philadelphia native, so I'd take off my right arm for a yuengling...

but now I live in Beer Capitol, USA aka St. Louis, MO.

Despite AB, there's a bunch of great small craft breweries around. My favorite right now is O'Fallon -- their smoked porter is a "beer that drinks like a meal". It's not the beer to drink if you're going drinking all night, but it's a fantastic sensory experience. Their 5-day IPA is also wonderful.

Square One Brewery makes some good food and the beer ain't too bad either.

Do you brown bag it for lunch?

I typically grab snacks throughout the day since I don't usually get an hour free at work. On the rotation have been...

- greek yogurt with a touch of honey
- baby carrots/celery
- fuji apples
- string cheese
- clementines

I cook a medium/large batch of soup or stew at the beginning of the week, freeze 2 and then alternate with the previous week's soup for my main "meal" around noon-1pm. This week, it's chili with 2 types of beans, corn, peppers, onions, etc. Last week it was butternut squash soup with some yogurt pureed in for a bit of extra protein.

I also eat breakfast at work; I cook steel-cut oats with a bit of almond milk and dried cranberries in the crock pot over the weekend, freeze and bring to work.

the ziploc screw-top containers are a godsend. They don't leak, stack in the freezer fairly well and can stand up to the microwave.

What’s your favorite quick fix dinner?

scrambled eggs with spinach (frozen) and slightly caramelized onion, with some spicy salsa and toast.

What childhood foods have you outgrown?

I'm sure it would have been easier to come out to my family as being gay rather than have my father announce, incredulously, at the last extended family gathering "Rebecca told me yesterday that she DOESN'T like chocolate anymore!" and be greeted by looks of disapproval and disbelief. My aunt actually said "It's just a phase, she'll grow out of it".

I come from a chocoholic family and as a kid, I'd make chocolate milk that was 1/2 chocolate syrup, 1/2 milk.

Tricks to get kids to eat.

I wasn't a big veggie eater as a kid, so my mom made the rule that I had to eat as many pieces of veggie (piece of lettuce, broccoli, whatever) as I was old in year, plus one. Like birthday candles. Of course, I loved when we had peas, because 8 peas is barely a forkful. We also were not given "options" as kids; if you didn't want to eat what was on the table, you didn't get to eat at all. We were allowed to have dessert after dinner if we "still had room".

I think having a healthy attitude towards food is an important value to pass on to your kids -- my parents let us have anything we wanted, in moderation. They made us pack our own lunches starting in 1st grade (with supervision) and learn how to cook a decent number of meals before we left 'the nest'. We weren't allowed to order from kid's menus except at fast-food or chain restaurants that we would go to on our annual road trip to Cape Cod, back in the day before GPS, ChowHound or the internet. I remember going to Indian buffets before I could see over the steam tables! We lived in a city, so it was pretty easy to expose us to a wide variety of cuisines; even when we were elementary-school aged our parents would take us to fairly nice restaurants and let us order whatever we wanted.

Safe to say, I'm obsessed with the sensory experience of food and food in general. I even work in food; I'm a chemical engineer and I work in food technology. I literally get paid to cook every day, with some science thrown in. Would I have gotten this job if the parents hadn't encouraged appreciation of food? Nope. In my initial interview, one of the panel members asked if I'd be willing to bake (most of the testing I do is on baked goods and leavening products) and I almost fell out of my chair in excitement.

30 minute menu that does NOT taste like Rachel Ray

I have to cook dinner for someone I'd like to impress after a round of tennis today. We will be starving and considering I ragged on their 'cooking' last time (steaming veggies in the microwave, heating a can of tomato sauce and some pasta), I have to save face and not do that.

It should take under 30 minutes and require less than 10 ingredients -- the cooking location in question has a few pots and pans but virtually no other cooking "stuff". There's no dietary or cost restrictions, although I'd like to avoid doing the "one can of this, one can of that" thing.

I have a trader joe's, whole foods and normal grocery at my disposal, so basically anything is fair game. I'm not sure about how adventurous my co-diner is -- they have lived in LA, ATL, Cambridge/London and finally STL as well as summered on Cape Cod, but I've never seen any indication of culinary adventure-ness.

Right now I'm thinking the babbo bucatini all'amatriciana, but I've never cooked bacon before (not a lie) so I'm a little nervous about burning it.

suggestions? thoughts? I have no idea what I will be cooking for a vegetable; probably a salad since the pasta looks quite heavy.

rllevy hasn't favorited a post yet.