It's been well over a month since July 4th. Some of you may be wondering where my post about Coney Island is at. In truth, I've tried to write it a few times. I really wanted to share, but there is a deep set resistance in the pit of my stomach. I'm not sure where it stems from, but I fear that the more I share, the more I lose. It may be selfish, but I want to keep everything I saw, smelled, heard, touched, and tasted all to myself. Some how, I think sharing with you all will diminish the memory, will cause it to fade like a copy you keep re-copying at work because everyone is too lazy to print a fresh sheet.
My advice? If you're really curious, I encourage you to try a contest. You can find all the Nathan's qualifiers here. If you can't stand the thought of it, I would recommend searching other blogs. The internet is a big wide wonderful world, and I'm certainly not original, nor are my experiences. The great thing is, if you're a new reader (aka: Not My Mom) then you probably don't care. So, let's dive into some pizza!
My family and I recently returned from a road trip to Wyoming. A very long road trip. 13 and a half hours to be exact, and that's without stops. On our way back, I promised a nice sit-down lunch in Spokane. Our first priority was gas. So, once we pulled off of Division and made that happen, we were looking for food. Everyone agreed on Mexican, so I directed up to Borracho Tacos & Tequileria. Sadly, we had already paid for parking and were told that they were a 21+ establishment. We had our 11 year-old daughter with us. They recommended the pizza joint next door, Boombox Pizza, owned by the same people.
Thankfully, this meant we had the entire restaurant to ourselves at 1pm on a Monday. My daughter loves a meat loaded pie, so that's what she ordered. We got an add-on of the spicy wings for the hubby (I tried one, delish). I was trying to fast after my last burger challenge in Jackson, WY, but I saw something that caught my eye. They had a loaded Bloody Mary. It came complete with deli meat, pickled veggies, and a huge stick of pepperoni bended over to hold the slice of pizza upright. I love a good Bloody Mary. You could probably put Little Caesar’s on my drink and I'd still eat it, but NO! They may me a fresh slice of delicious pepperoni pizza. The cost? $17... but it's technically a drink with a complete meal, and they donate $1 every time to the Spokane Humane Society. In essence, my pleasure was a moral imperative. Long story short, everything was tasty time, no joke. The server was lovely, the line chefs came out to check on us, the food was suburb. I will definitely be back.
This picture is driving me crazy. The trophy is backwards. Ugh! Other than that minor detail, I've been on a week long high. This is the very first trophy I've earned in my 35 years, and I've taken to obnoxiously referring to myself as an "athlete." At this point, I think everyone that knows me is tired of hearing about hot dogs, but I really don't give a bun. Why, because with a little bit of hard work, and sheer luck, I won the Vallejo, CA Nathan's Hot Dog Qualifier. Not just that, but you can see in my last post that I got to meet the great Kobayashi. Guess who I got to meet in California?
That's right, I met the man who beat Kobayashi, and is the current champ of competitive eating (according to Major League Eating), Joey Chestnut! He kindly took this picture with me, and even offered some unsolicited eating advice, which I greatly appreciated. He, of course, was not competing. Being from Vallejo, he showed up to exhibition, and as he put it, "It's good practice." Eating at the table with Joey is almost laughable. He ate 72 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. To put that in perspective, the leading male competitor, Steven Hendry, ate 28.
Here I am, with Steve, and legendary Emcee Sam Barclay. Interesting bit about Sam, I showed really early to check-in for the contest, and he was happy to discuss all the details of the contest with me prior, including whether I could bring my diet coke on stage or not. He said it was very unusual that I would use diet coke. I get it, the carbonation seems like a bad idea, but it helps me burp, and that makes more room. Sam also shared with me that I would be competing with Mary Bowers. I knew this from Twitter, but the piece I didn't know till Sam told me, was that we were the only women competing that day. This was good news for me. Mary is a fan favorite, but I knew from practice that I could eat more hot dogs than she ever had on stage. Mary is known for her sense of style, and I immediately recognized her when she arrived. Sadly, I didn't get to meet her, she was pretty focused on listening to whatever was playing on her headphones, and getting into the zone.
Oh! I almost forgot a crucial piece to this post. I got to meet Max Carnage! He's an eater from Oregon, and the reason I even registered for this qualifier. He was so encouraging, and we've been messaging back and forth for over a month. He really pushed me to regularly train. His messages motivated me to train when I really didn't want to, because I couldn't bear to tell him that I hadn't. He also gave me a lot of great details about what the qualifier would be like. Funny thing about Max Carnage, Sam told me he hates it when eaters use grape flavoring in their water because of the standard announcer white shirt. I told Max Carnage this; he smiled and said, "that's why I do it."
Ok, so actual details, I won with 14.5 hot dogs and buns. It's not amazing. Miki Sudo has eaten 41, but I am the leading female rookie of the year, which is kind of cool. I beat Mary Bowers. I feel slightly bad about this because I know she had been to at least one qualifier this year, and lost, and she's a staple in the Major League Eating world. She also sent out an apology tweet to her fans, and I know Steve Hendry's wife is a Mary supporter, because she was yelling encouragement at her the entire 10 minutes. I feel a bit awkward about this, but I did force my husband and kids to drive 14 hours one-way, and then back again so I could eat hot dogs. At that point I was in it to win it, and Mary ate 12 hot dogs! That's her personal best.
I'm so excited for the 4th. I'm grateful for my super supportive family, and I'm grateful to Wayne Algenio and Max Carnage for their tips and tricks.
My hubby took this video live. It freezes up a bit in the beginning. You can skip to about 10-11 minutes to avoid this torture.
So, I didn't win, but I went into that competition on a high, because I actually signed up for another competition days before. It was a bit spur-of-the-moment, but I competed in a jalapeno eating contest on Cinco De Mayo, at Tacos Guayamas block party in Greenlake. I won! I won my first food contest. I was supposed to get a luchador mask as a prize, but the wrestlers were over an hour and a half late, and we needed to go. People have asked me how I felt afterwards, and I can report back that after my first margarita, I was fine.
Two days after the taco contest, I got to meet Takeru Kobayashi. I only just started entering food contests, and met the Greatest Food Competitor of all time in the same week. No biggie. He was super sweet, and appreciative of the cheesy gift I brought him. Turns out he collects magnets, and now we follow each other on Instagram (see picture above). Also, I watched him eat 30 tacos in 1 minute! So yeah, I may have lost to Steve this time, but I still feel like I'm winning the month of May. Who knows, this first weekend of June may feature doughnuts and hot dogs...
I've been wanting to write this for a while now, but have been held back by fear. Fear of judgement from people I know, and by people I don't. My husband says that's exactly why I should write this. He thinks you'll be more interested in what I have to say if I'm uncomfortable and vulnerable.
You can see from my Bio that I'm super proud of that fact that I completed the 12 egg omelette at Beth's Cafe. when I share that information with someone new, I almost always get the same response, "Why would you do that?" I don't have a good answer. Why do people climb Mt. Everest? I think they do it because it's there. Personally, I think many of the activities we do as human being are questionable at best. We have more free time on our hands due to a variety of technological advances, and an increased division of labor. For me this provides some extra free time (not so much now with my commute), and I find day-to-day life incredibly banal, so the add-ins are what make it fun.
Following the 12 egg omelette, I did a spicy wing challenge at Wing Dome in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle. I have a t-shirt now, and you can find my picture on the wall (with so many others). The last food challenge I did was The Farm at Jersey's in Shoreline. I also have a t-shirt for that. They only came in XL, so it now belongs to my husband.
Years later, following a two year plus YouTube rabbit hole, I am training for my first food competition with other eaters. And that's not all...
Yup, I'm not just making videos of me and my kids cooking now. I have videos of me just straight up eating. I don't know what to tell you - it brings me joy. You can check them out. They're pretty cringy, and I've learned about a whole sub-culture that wants the eater to show their belly before and after. Spoiler Alert - I don't do that (for free).
I mentioned earlier that I'm going to be eating in my first real competition. It's a street taco challenge. I need to eat as many as I can in 20 minutes. I already visited the restaurant, and checked with the owner on tortilla size and type of meat. Right now I have a little something simmering in the crock pot so I can test my skills in 10 minutes. I also have a coach that I met online at the beginning of the year. He's coached some of the best.
Long story short, I'll be there for the Live In Everett competition at Mazatlan on May 8th at 6pm. Wish me the best!
My love of all-you-can-eat buffets started when I was around 8 years-old. I have fond memories of going to Old Country Buffet almost every weekend when my mom was in dental school. I also remember eating M&Ms while she dissected a cadaver. The 90s were a different time for kids, but I digress... I've tried the same restaurant as an adult, and really wish I hadn't. Those memories should have stayed locked in my childhood. It's kind of like re-watching a show you really loved as a kid, and then scratching your head as to why you ever held the show up, just to watch it fall from it's pedestal and break into a thousand pieces. Sorry, "Are You Afraid of the Dark?"
My taste buds have outgrown the under-seasoned heaps of Old Country mashed potatoes and mac n' cheese that I used to slop onto my plate, but I still love a buffet. I love the variety, and the price, and the ability to eat as many pates as I want, while the servers whisk away all evidence of my guilt. It's lovely. We're lucky enough to live next to a Casino with a pretty glorious buffet spread. If you can wade the 100 something yards, through a sea of smoke, from the front door to the restaurant, then you're in. I'm talking about the Eagles Buffet at Tulalip. You can see pictured above, the prime rib with some horseradish, mashed potatoes, broccoli, macaroni and cheese, and some house-made kimchi to round out the plate. Yes, I still get mashed potatoes and mac and cheese, but now it's fancy (ish). With the introductions out of the way, let me introduce you to last night's plates.
This is how I start my buffet dining experience, with a salad, but not just any salad. I like to put everything on there. My Father-In-Law does the same thing, so we've started calling it the "Prettyman Salad." I make a bed of whatever greens I want, in this case spinach, and then pile it with all the savory things I want. I actually got a compliment from the lady behind me in line last night. She was a tad jealous. Then I smother the whole thing in dressing, typically bleu cheese, and sometimes add Sriracha for added flavor.
2nd course is my adult go to, prime rib, with some horsey sauce. I have a little bit of sweet potato tater tots, some grilled veggies, and a chocolate and beer braised beef rib. The prime rib was delicious and butter soft, as usual. The tater tots were a bit mushy, grilled veggies were crisp and delicious, and the rib was tender, but a bit bitter from the chocolate and whatever chile they used to spice it. Overall, a good 2nd plate.
At this point I usually head for the Mongolian Grill station, but I didn't. Big mistake. Instead I went to the "Chinese Food" bar, in quotes because it's Americanized. No shockers there, but it was also extremely salty. To the point that I didn't really enjoy my 3rd course. I got the following: pork egg-roll, veggie egg-roll, pork dumpling, chicken dumpling, kung pao beef, stir-fried veggies, and some noodles (plus soy sauce, which I quickly stopped using). Talk about a salt bomb in my mouth! Next time it's back to the Mongolian Grill with me.
I had to counteract the last plate with a final dessert course. I really wanted a brownie sundae, but brownies were nowhere to be found. So, I got a scoop of the Killer Whale ice cream (similar to moose tracks if you know what that is, and I topped it with a frosted chocolate cupcake. I overheard my son asking my husband, "How does she eat so much." To which he answered, "Have you met your mother?" Yes, all of those years competing with my step-father for who could eat the most plates of food has led me to this place in my life. Thankfully, I don't eat like this everyday. Thankfully, sometimes I do.
This coming Sunday is an incredibly exciting day for many Americans. Personally, I don't watch football all that often. I loved watching my friends play in high school. I also really enjoy attending live sporting events, but I'm just not a big enough fan to justify the cost to watch our local Seahawks play in person, and I'd rather watch movies most Sundays. All that said, I most likely will watch the game this Sunday. Why? Food is the answer. Super Bowl Sunday is not solely about football, it's also about dip, chips, wings, pigs-in-a-blanket, and so many more artery-clogging foods that I typically only enjoy on that one special day. I'll even watch the game until my children start complaining about how bored they are. It should be good times, but I do have one request for all my friends making goodies this weekend. Please, please, please stop using the word "crack" in your recipe titles (unless it's a descriptions of the cracks in the food, or a cooking method).
It's really not cute. I know you mean well. You just want everyone to know how delicious your recipe is. It's so delicious it's addicting... like crack... Except it's not, and frankly using the term seems insensitive and a bit privileged from my point of view. I know it's hard to see, because you've probably never been close to someone that had a crack addiction (I haven't either), but let me put it into perspective.
Not so cute is it? Wanna serve these to your party guests? Wanna share this recipe on Pinterest? I didn't think so.
Is it getting clearer? Also, don't you love that Photoshop work? I did it myself. You're welcome. We could keep going with this. There could be Cocaine Fudge, or Cirrhosis of the Liver Sangria. It's gross. Your recipe is not a drug, and plenty of people have actual food addictions. So, please stop with the "crack" recipes, and don't even get me started on this...
Co-ops are the best. They all smell the same (spice and dirt). You end up buying things you never knew you wanted. You buy all the health food you could possibly imagine, only to find out it's just as bad for you as the regular crap you buy. But, you feel good doing it, right!?! Also, it's so perfect when you're waiting for the ladies room, and some stranger tells you to put your phone away because she can't be around cell phones. God bless!
My favorite Co-op is the one in Mount Vernon. There is a strong granola vibe there. It's possibly the best Co-op in Washington state. I say that because of the size, variety, amazing food bar, and gift shop upstairs.
Recently they opened a cafe next door. It's called C.Square. There's a deli, ice cream parlor, and a well lit, delicious cafe. I love indulging, and I really love indulging hen I get to pretend to be healthy. The art is local. The bar is stocked. It's a fun place to dine.
You want to be there right now, don't you? They have all the meats, all the cheeses. They have an amazing fig ice cream. I love everything about this place. If you have a sleepy weekend with no plans, please make this your plan. You won't regret it.
Who all here has heard of Dry January? If you haven't, it's a thing where people feeling guilty about their over indulgence, take January off and abstain from alcohol. It's kind of a New Year's resolution/body reset plan. In my humble opinion, it's a month some of us take to evaluate whether we're alcoholics or not. Am I participating? No! I'm a glutton through and through. I love all the foods, and all the drinks. Thinking about abstaining from anything I may want in the moment makes me angry on a physical level. That said, sometimes I would rather grab a tasty, well crafted soda, as opposed to something that is going to further bloat my liver. For those of you committing to Dry January, those who don't drink, and to those who just love a tasty beverage, this one is for you!
Pictured above is a grapefruit soda by Pok Pok Som, out of Portland. It's light, tastes very much of grapefruit juice (pulp floaties included), and at 90 calories it's not going to destroy your diet. Beer, wine, and spirits will most certainly make you fat if you don't practice moderation. Looking online, Pok Pok Som specializes in drinking vinegar. I'm not sure what that is, but I'm intrigued. Kombucha tastes like vinegar, and I like that stuff.
I see this stuff everywhere. People love to serve Dry. Sparkling at events that are sans alcohol. You can even buy some of their products in large 750ml "wine" bottles. I can see why it's so popular. The Rainier Cherry tasted most definitely of fresh cherry, not that nasty artificial candy flavor. It reminded me of sparking water with a hint of sweetness. At 60 calories a can, this one is our list's big winner if your resolution is weight loss related.
Oh Blue Sky! How I love you! Let me count the ways... This soda shaped my childhood. It's a part of many of my favorite memories. In fact, my all-time favorite lunch included: Blue Sky, Kalamata Olive bread, Mascarpone, and grapes. I guess it was the child's version of a winery picnic. Perfect for this post.
Blue Sky is a New Mexican soda, and up until recently, was not found outside of The Land of Enchantment. It was made with real sugar, no artificial coloring, etc. before that was even a thing. New Mexicans can out granola you any day of the week. I remember visiting Toronto in high school, and I was so excited to find it in this tiny shop I stumbled upon. Now you can buy it almost anywhere, because everyone is into "health food." Let's not kid ourselves, it's still soda. This one pictured is a whopping 180 calories a can, but it's probably not going to give you cancer or dementia, at least, I don't think so.
Maybe it's because I didn't grow up in or near Seattle, maybe it's because I love being an eternal tourist, but I love Seattle Center. I love the Space Needle, and how it peers over Lake Union when you're driving into the city going south on I-5. I love the Pacific Science Center (we frequently buy an annual membership. If you have kids, it's worth every penny). I love the newish Chihuly Garden. It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever experienced. I love the International Fountain in the Summer, and the Winterfest Ice Rink in the Winter. I love the pan flutists, puppeteers, and moving statues. All that said, my favorite place to be at is the Armory.
Shocking, right!?! The Armory currently houses 17 different options for food and beverages, and while some of them are large chains (Starbucks), others are little tastes of local restaurants that are thriving (Skillet: Counter). Almost every time we're in the vicinity, we eat there. My husband's absolute favorite is Bigfoot BBQ. So, when we were at Key Arena a few weeks ago seeing Macklemore (obligatory name drop), we had to stop by.
We've eaten here several times before, and I've never ordered something I didn't like. Of course, you have to remember that I'm not terribly picky, but I do think they do a good job with their barbecue, which is the most important thing for a restaurant with their name. Honestly, my favorite thing about this joint is the atmosphere. If it's not too crowded, I recommend sitting at the bar/counter. You can then enjoy the faux wood cabin vibes they have carefully crafted. Who doesn't love a fake window with a view of the outdoor woods? Plus, I don't know if this is consistently true, but I've found that their staff usually has a great sense of humor. When we were there last, they kept saying "Oh, is that Macklemore?" and then standing back and watching the masses scramble. Love it!
Pictured above is the smoked chicken, smothered in Bigfoot's extra spicy sauce, beans, and a Bud. My hubby was warned to be careful with the spicy sauce. He didn't listen, and immediately realized his mistake. I don't know if this is always the case, but the beer was only $1.50. 'Murica! Any hoo, if you have the chance, if you're hosting out of town guests, if you also love Seattle Center, whatever the reason... If you're visiting Seattle Center, you should go to the Armory, and if you love BBQ and beer, go visit my friends at Bigfoot.
Most of you are aware of my vast and unending love for curry. Cook some meat and/or veggies in a spice laden sauce and pour it over rice or injera, and I'm there. A classic curry found on most Indian menus in America, and frequently the star of any Indian buffet, is Butter Chicken. Done right, it is simmered in all the best spices and fats for hours, until it melts in your mouth, and dances on your tongue. Done wrong it tasted like chicken nuggets in a cream of tomato soup. I'm crying just thinking about it.
I ventured out of my comfort zone four or more years ago, when my husband found a wonderful Indian cookbook at our local thrift store. It's called "What's Cooking Indian," by: Shehzad Husain. I asked my family what recipe they wanted me to try first. It was a unanimous vote for Butter Chicken. $30+ worth of spices later, I was intimidated, and shocked. You should be warned that if you don't regularly cook with Indian spices, then getting whole cardamom pods, garam masala, etc. is going to cost you. Once you have it though, it can last quite a while. So, plan on making curries on the regular.
This recipe will take you at least two hours to make, so carve out a lot of time. This is a common birthday request in our household. I mention that, because this is not a healthy dish. It is for special occasions, and is a common food at weddings or other great feasts. This is not meant to be an everyday meal, not unless your daily caloric allowance is way higher than mine.
Seen above are the onions sauteing in 7 TBSP butter and 1 TBSP oil, for a full half a cup of fat. We tend to make a lot of rice, and really love the sauce, and leftovers, so we double the sauce, but keep the chicken at the same amount. I'll spell out the whole recipe, with my notes, below. Doubling the recipe requires a very large pot. I recommend a Dutch Oven if you have one.
My favorite part is mixing the spices with the yogurt and tomato paste. It smells so good. You want to roll eight, bone-in pieces in the sauce until entirely coated, and add to your now caramelized onions. It's important that the chicken is not de-boned, because it's going to cook for a long time, and you don't want it to dry out. Dark meats are preferable. I like drumsticks and thighs because they are inexpensive cuts, and are easy for everyone to eat. Picking the chicken up with your hands is allowed. We pull out thick cloth napkins for this dinner.
While your chicken start to cook you'll want to chop up some green chiles and cilantro. I usually use a poblano or serrano pepper, because that's what I have available. You could use whatever green chile is available in your area, and is at your preferred spice level. As for the cilantro, I will confess that this used to be one of the foods I disliked. Then I learned that my distaste for the herb was genetic. Some people think cilantro tastes like soap, but if you eat it enough, you can desensitize yourself. Which is exactly what I did, and now I love it!
Now there is more stirring, and simmering, and the addition of cream. Yes, there is more dairy! Not only is this a fatty dish, but it is not meant for those of you who are lactose intolerant. Apologies.
So, there you go. This is my New Year's gift to you all. I've had several friends request this recipe, and I've never taken the time to share it properly. I hope you enjoy. I think this would be a perfect meal for this evening, if you're scrambling at the last minute for ideas. Or it could be a perfect lunch/dinner for New Year's day. Cheers to you all, and a Happy New Year filled with love, joy, and delicious food!
Buttered Chicken *All credit to Shehzad Husain*
Ingredients *It's a daunting list, but mostly spices. Remember, you may want to double the sauce*
*Pre-Step: Make 2 cups of rice in a rice maker, or per the instructions on the bag. I won't micro-manage you.*
1: Heat butter and oil on medium-high until melted, add onion, and cook until onions are golden brown. Reduce heat
2: In a mixing bowl combine: ginger, garam masala, coriander, chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt, cardamom, peppercorns, yogurt, and tomato paste.
3. Piece by piece, place the chicken in the bowl of yogurt and spices. Coat each piece thoroughly, and add to cooked onions. *I scrape the last of the mixture into the pot when I'm done coating chicken.*
4. Stir-fry the chicken vigorously for 5-7 minutes.
5. Add the water and bay leaves, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
6. Add the cream, and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
7. Garinsh with cilantro and chiles. *serve over rice*
I'm a not-for-profit worker that loves food, both healthy and indulgent. I've eaten the 12 egg omelette at Beth's Cafe: toast, hash browns, and all. Take that Adam Richman!