Rhizome Roulette: Are sunchokes worth the gamble?

How can something so potentially evil look so innocent?

A couple of weeks ago, I pulled up my sunchoke plant and was greeted with a lovely harvest of the knobby root vegetables. Even though I had been looking forward to that moment all summer, suddenly I felt bewildered. What should I do with them? I haven’t cooked sunchokes in years. So I turned to Google.

Which dropped me down a rabbit hole I had not at all expected — an online journey featuring flatulence and intestinal distress. What I discovered was something I had thankfully been totally unaware of all my sunchoke-eating life. Apparently about 50 percent of people have painful digestive issues fueled by sunchokes — to the point that some of the comments on the recipes I was researching made me cringe. Commenters on some sites cried out that every recipe should come with a written warning that these unassuming tubers could wreck severe havoc on unsuspecting eaters. I was floored.

Some people were so intense that even though I was 99 percent confident in my ability to enjoy sunchokes with no ill effects, I actually became a bit anxious. What if all the times I had eaten them were flukes? What if this time I was part of the wrong half of the population? How would I survive an 8-hour day in a small office with that type of reaction? Finally I set my nerves aside, picked up my knife and got cooking.

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Grilled Calzones: A dinner for winners!

A few weeks ago my friend Oliver and I decided to make dinner together and watch some Battlestar Galactica, our latest TV obsession. Since it was a weekend, we decided to be a bit more adventurous with our meal and as we were tossing some ideas around, inspiration suddenly hit. I had recently read a post on one of my new favorite blogs “Dinner for Winners” that involved grilled calzones. Which sounds pretty damn perfect to both of us.

Things started off innocently enough. We had a good spread of fillings: pesto, marinara, chicken, tomatoes, goat cheese, salami, mozzarella and caramelized onions. We had some dough, charcoal and a pizza stone.

I got the coals going, set the stone on the grill and then we got to work.


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Things that make me happy: A cat who plays the cowbell

Meet Tuna. Tuna is part of the AcroCats — which you totally need to read up on. I’m serious — click this link. Tuna plays the cowbell for baby food (chicken flavor).

Tuna’s friend Dakota plays percussion for their band, the Rock Cats. I saw them play live. Let me assure you the music sucked, but it was one of the best afternoons of my life.

Teriyaki Chicken Wings and Asian-Style Succotash

I had big plans last Friday. I had a hankering for grilled steak with fresh corn, green beans and some perfectly ripe cherry tomatoes. In fact, I even bought all of my ingredients while I was at work (yay for being a meat distributor — a good steak is easy to find!) and biked them all the way home. The bike ride was not fun, and might be why you do not see a picture of a fat grilled steak at the top of this post.

See, when you bike a backpack brimming with goodies uphill 8 miles on a sunny Friday afternoon it does something to your motivation level — like kill it completely.

As I was unpacking all the groceries, I spied a bag of chicken wings in the fridge and suddenly the thought of starting up a grill seemed like too much effort. And the thought of chicken wings sounded like the most brilliant idea ever.

I have talked before about my serious love for my grandmother’s chicken wings. They are Heaven on Earth. They are the reason I keep five-pound bags of frozen wings on hand at all times — because it just doesn’t make sense to make any less than that. I can eat about a third of a batch in a single sitting. It’s not pretty, but it’s true.

So…my grilled steak turned into this:

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Pressed Sandwiches and a Day of Disappointments

My husband decided to whisk me away to the beach this past Sunday, which in theory sounds like an amazing idea. I’m originally from a small island in Alaska so I love the beach, water and ocean air. However, being from Alaska, I know that the beach can be cold, and as we’ve established, I love to be hot — I wanted to go to the river where I knew I could bake in the sun.

But he promised me the coast would be perfect. Less people, the promise of salt water taffy and maybe a visit to the Rogue Brewery. And, he said tantalizingly, on Saturday the coast had hit record high temperatures, somewhere in the mid-80s.

“Fine,” I said, giving in. “I’ll make some sandwiches.”

* It was a perfect opportunity to make a sandwich that seems to be incredibly trendy right now — the pressed sandwich. I had seen it all over Pinterest and had seen recipes posted on Martha Stewart’s website as well as on numerous blogs. So, basically, I was just dying for a chance to make these:

But back to the story:

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A quick moment to appreciate the quirkiness of cats

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A few weeks ago, I was in the middle of changing my sheets and digging out all of the throw pillows from underneath the bed, when I was distracted by the siren call of Law & Order SVU. A few hours later, I returned to complete the task and found this waiting for me…

Hey, as long as he’s comfortable right?

Oh Lucifer, you used to be such a street-smart alley cat. Now look at you — you’re like a feline version of the Princess and the Pea.

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