Sarah's Gastronomic Adventures: It's GREEK to Me!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

One of my favorite things about food is that with one bite, it can magically transport you to any time or place or memory in your life. Fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil, vine-ripened tomatoes, and a drizzle of hand pressed olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar always brings me back to The Jazz Club (a hidden, little restaurant that I was fond of) in Venice, Italy.

Greek food always reminds me of when I lived in Cluj Napoca, Romania. Yes, kind of a weird jump....who thinks Greek when you're in Eastern Europe?  The Akropolis was the most amazing Greek restaurant and a nice change from all of the pizza and pasta offered everywhere. The atmosphere was fun, the service was good, and the food was always delicious.  I have some very fond memories of celebrations at the little white and blue corner eatery.

The Akropolis Restaurant in Cluj-Napoca, Romania

My time in Romania was years ago at this point, and I'm still on the search for another memorable Greek meal.  Reno has some decent options for "one-the-go" Greek. I love Nick's Greek Deli (keep an eye out for an upcoming review). They do a mean gyro and Greek salad.  But Nick's doesn't offer that sit-down meal atmosphere, with linen tablecloths, plates with patterns of gods and goddesses, souvlaki that comes to your table in a fiery blaze, and an owner who will serenade you with Greek love songs.  You can't find that anywhere in Reno...that I know of.

So when I was craving Greek food the other day, I was THRILLED to stumble across this recipe in one of my cookbooks:

Greek-Style Chicken with Tzatziki Sauce

I found this recipe not only quick and easy (it was in my 20 minute cook-book after all), it was also way yummier then I had expected.  The lemon juice and oregano really brightened up the whole dish.

For the most part, I followed the recipe. I did add some extra veggies to the salad mixture -- had some extra carrots, peppers, and a few olives sitting around from a previous recipe.  I also opted to use a "spring mix" of greens instead of the called-for romaine lettuce.

Lettuce/salad mixture, tzatziki sauce, wild rice, and garlic-oregano chicken.

One of the biggest changes I would make to this recipe would be the tzatziki/yogurt sauce. 

I thought all of the flavors were spot on, but the combination of the non-fat plain yogurt and the wet cucumber made for a liquidy end result.  When I make this again I will "drain" the yogurt before adding the other ingredients.  This is done by putting the yogurt in some cheese cloth, which allows for some the extra liquid come out.  I will also remove some of the cucumber's extra moisture by blotting with paper towels. Taking those two extra steps, will result in a thicker and creamier sauce.

This meal easily serves four people.  Since I am just one, it made for one great dinner and three grab-and-go lunches.  Two of the days I opted to leave the rice out.  I felt the vegetable packed salad, chicken, and cucumber/yogurt "dressing" was plenty for my mid-day meal.

While this dish doesn't come close to that served at The Akropolis, it most definitely curbed my craving for Greek!

Rediscovering Reno: The Eatery Built on Granite

Thursday, September 22, 2011
Do you ever get stuck in an "eating" rut?  You feel uninspired.  You're sick of your usual places.

Last week one of my friends and I decided to catch-up and chit-chat over a nice meal.  After throwing around several ideas, and vetoing the "usual suspects" we both decided on Old Granite Street Eatery in downtown Reno.  We had enjoyed a memorable meal at this cute restaurant when it had first opened, and decided it was time to give it another go.

We were not disappointed this time either!

Old Granite Street Eatery: 243 S. Sierra Street, Reno

One of my favorite things about Old Granite Street is the location itself; a brick building on Sierra Street that was erected in 1940, formally housed a wedding chapel. The inside is now simple:  a large chalk-board advertising the daily specials, black and white checkered floors, high-backed wooden booths.  The staff are cute, personable, hipster-type, with a great knowledge about the food they make and serve.  The cocktails are handcrafted (and strong). And the menu, while not extensive;  is complex, well thought out, and has all of your basis (and cravings) covered.

On this night my friend and I started with cocktails.  She had a Dark n' Stormy (rum and ginger beer) while I sipped on a Sloe Gin Fizz (sloe gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white & soda).  Both of these classic cocktails were delicious, but not at all what I expected.  The Sloe Gin Fizz was pink, frothy, tart...and DELICIOUS!  I would without a doubt order this again.  We split an order of creamy, smooth deviled eggs as we decided on our main course.

Classic Cocktails: a Sloe Gin Fizz and a Dark n' Stormy

Our patient waiter took our order after we spent much time deliberating.  Bless his heart for checking back so many times to see if we were ready, darn girl-talk was getting in the way!

We both started with a salad (she ordered the Lentil, I ordered the Summer).  Each were equally delicious and unique.  My favorite part of the Summer Salad was bed of couscous the salad was piled on top off.  We shared a bottle of wine as our main course came out. 

My friend ordered the Wood Grilled Burger with aged white cheddar and shoestring potatoes.  If you are craving a REAL hamburger, you definitely want to go to this.  It's big, juicy, and so simple that the quality of the ingredients really have a chance to shine. 

I opted for the Pan Seared Salmon with barely risotto, seasonal veggies, and preserved lemons.  I LOVED this dish!  The preserved lemons added a sweet, citrusy zing to the perfectly cooked salmon.  The barely risotto was not what I expected, and I was pleasantly surprised with the dish. The barely added an extra "toothiness" that you don't find in a rice-based version.  The creamy risotto paired with the light salmon made for the perfect bite.

I had planned to take some home, but it was all too good.  We both cleared our plates. Filled to the brim with delicious food, and a bit sleepy from the libations, we ventured out into the beginnings of a beautiful Autumn Evening in Reno.

An after-thought....Old Granite Street Eatery may have one of the best hidden secret Happy Hours in town. I need to remember this when my co-workers and I are looking for a place to enjoy our end-of-the-week-cocktail!

Heart-Mind-Body-Soul: What's In a Number?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

We all have a Number.

No, I'm not talking about your phone number.  Not your street number.  Not your weight.
It's that one number that most of us don't talk about.  The one we keep in the closet with our secrets. The number we take with us into each new physical relationship we embark on....

...the number of people we've have had sex with.

Some of my friends know their Number, some don't.  While I know exactly what my Number is, I don't disclose it to anyone (besides my doctor).  My best friends know round-about where it is.  Guys have asked before, but I'm not forthcoming with the requested info. It reminds me of a Sex and the City quote by Carrie:

If you're a thirty something woman living in Manhattan, and you refuse to settle and you're sexually active, it's inevitable that you'll rack up a certain number of partners, but how many men is too many men? Are we simply romantically challenged, or, are we sluts?

This brings me back to a previous blog I wrote.  A few of my guy friends boast that their number is in the triple digits.  First off...can we say EWWW?  But the saying goes that whatever Number a guy tells you, divide it in half. Whatever a woman says, double it. So, when is a woman's Number TOO high? 

A new movie coming out at the end of the month, staring the hilarious Anna Faris, titled "What's Your Number?" reintroduces the topic. 

After reading in a magazine that "In America 96% of women
who have been with 20 or more lovers can't find a husband,"
Ana's character Ally looks back at the past twenty men she's had relationships with in her life
and wonders if one of them might be her one true love.

Twenty is the "magic" number in this movie. Do you find Ally's Number high?  I thought it was a pretty accurate assumption for a sexually active, single woman, in her 30s.  But really....does it even matter? 

One of my favorite male bloggers, Tom Miller, seems to think that the actual number doesn't matter, it's your sexual history that DOES. It's what (and who) you did, that counts. A guy cares more about knowing if you've hooked up with one of his boys or that you have a clean medical history.

Tom also mentions that a man and woman's perspective of what is "number worthy" differs.  Your boyfriend's Number may be higher because he considers any "crossing the threshold" to be sex.  I know I only "chalk another one up" if we went all the way. you know what your Number is? Have you ever lied about it (by either adding to it, or taking a few away)? Is it important to disclose your actual Number to someone you're in a relationship with?  Weigh in.  COMMENT.  I want to hear from you! 

I'm ending this post with a montage of some of the men our Sex and the City girls have been with.  Seems to me their Number didn't phase them!  Have fun, and be safe Loves.

Sarah's Gastronomic Adventures: Bangkok Meets Bear

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I LOVE THAI FOOD!  I mean, how could you not?  The vibrant spices, the complex flavors, the creamy sweetness of coconut milk.  Every time I eat a Thai Curry, I dream that I'm in Bangkok or along the water in Phuket (both locations I've yet to travel to, but are HIGH on my list).

What I don't love about Thai food is how calor-ific it is.  Lucky for me (and now you too) I found this awesome recipe in one of my Weight Watcher's cookbooks.  It's quick, and surprisingly easy.  You too can make amazing Thai Curry at home!

Chicken and Coconut Curry
Click on recipe to enlarge.

When I ate it for dinner, I served it with wild rice. For lunch, I just ate the curry as is.  The curry paste I used was a bit spicy (weird that something was too spicy...I like it HOT!) so I also ate this dish with a little non-fat plain yogurt.  SO YUMMY!

I would without a doubt make this recipe again. Because I bulked up the curry a bit by adding extra carrots and cauliflower, I had plenty of leftovers.  Enough leftovers actually for two days of lunch for me, and dinner for two for my mom and one of her friends while they went camping.  

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we all did!!!


My Little Piece of ZEN

Friday, September 16, 2011
I previously mentioned that over the summer I purged my plethora of crap and remodeled my loft.  Over the years, this little space in my house had become a catch-all for just about everything.  It was originally intended to be a place for me to do my homework and for out-of-town guests to stay.

Six years later, my vision finally came to fruition. 
It is now my perfect writing/studying/meditation/inspiration/ZEN space. 

One of the things I'm most proud of is that I didn't spend much money to do all of this.  In total, I spent only about $120.  Most of the items I already owned and just found a new home for in the loft.  Most of the artwork I had invested in framing when I first moved into my house. Other things I have picked up throughout my world travels (the hamsa for example) or have acquired as gifts through other's travels (the tapestry came from my mom's most recent trip to Cambodia). 

Newly purchased items include:
   * Cube Shelving Structure (Staples - under $50)
   * Wall Decals and Circle Mirrors (Kohl's - about $10-$15 each)
   * Type Writer Art (ROSS - $7)
   * Whiteboard Planner (TJ Maxx - $20)
   * Inspiration Board (Aaron Brothers - ONE part of a promotion)

I'm thrilled with how this space turned out. It feels almost zen-like now, and I am inspired every time I walk up the stairs to my writing area.  I look forward to posting many blogs from here. 
Hope you look forward to reading....

A Birthday Worth Celebrating

Thursday, September 8, 2011
Put one candle on a cupcake.... little blog is ONE YEAR OLD!

I have been working on Bear-ing It All for a whole year now now, and couldn't be happier with the growth and response it has received. Blogging has been a true learning experience. I feel that I've grown, and so has my writing. And that's thrilling to me. (CLICK HERE to read my first post)

What started as something only my family and friends read has grown to a world-wide audience. While my "hit numbers" are not worth bragging about (yet) I am thankful to each and every one of my readers. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU!!!

I'm excited about what the next year has in store. Be on the look out for give-aways and a plethora of new content (my writing schedule is filling up quickly).

Lastly...if you like it...INTERACT.
Post a comment. Share with a friend. Like me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter. You get the idea. ;-)

Tons of love from Bear-ing It All, all around the world!

Heart-Mind-Body-Soul: So Long Summer

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Until next year Tahoe

Well, it's official.  As my second day of the school year comes to a close, 
there's no way around it....SUMMER IS OVER.

I joke that the whole thing was a blur, but when I truly break it down I would say all-in-all the Summer of Eleven was not only successful, it was also one for the books.
Summer 2011 Highlight Reel


While I had a huge amount of success (and more importantly FUN) this summer, there are a few places where I feel like I really dropped the ball.   
I present to you...

Take Two

So there you have it.  My summer condensed down to a few clicks of the mouse.
These past few months have been memorable.
 I worked hard, and played even harder.  I laughed a ridiculous amount, smiled until my cheeks hurt, shed a few tears, experienced some wild adventures, and drank enough
Fireball Whiskey to fill a....oh wait, not even going to think about that!
I made new friends, reconnected with old friends, and poured my heart out to my best friends.
 I remembered why I love living in Reno, and at the same time...realized I may be ready for a change.

While I'm a little sad that days are starting to get shorter,
and the need for the fan at night has decreased...I'm also excited for the school year ahead.
My calendar is jam-packed, my head is already swimming,
 and I'm ready to dive in to probably one of the most intense (yet rewarding) year's of my life.

All I can say is YEE-HAW!!!
Who would have thought this city-slicker would without a doubt have embraced her country side?

Heart-Mind-Body-Soul: Man-tox Time (aka The Removal of Toxic Men)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

(noun) Treatment designed to rid the body of poisonous substances, esp alcohol and drugs.

Reading over the definition, I find the words "poisonous substances" interesting. Are poisonous substances the only thing that you can rid your body of via detoxifying?

This is the second week of my "clean eating" and I have to admit that I'm feeling better. While I know I'm still not drinking enough water, it hasn’t been difficult to stick to eating fruits, veggies, and lean protein. Over the last week I have discovered (or re-discovered):

• How AMAZING summer fruits and veggies are.
• Cooking for one is ultimately really rewarding, but also a little depressing.
• Gazpacho while delicious is really just like eating a big bowl of pico de gallo.
• It's really not that hard to make good choices while eating at a restaurant.
When you eliminate the junk in your life, the simple things taste SO much sweeter!!!

It’s that last line that got me thinking about what other “junk” I can remove from my world to help me become a happier, healthier, more whole person. I decided in addition to a food detox, I also needed to do a:

(noun) The process which involves removing men or a particular man from one’s life.

For those of you who know me, you know my history of men and relationships. You know that I seem to be perpetually drawn to the bad-boy who; has financial issues, is afraid of commitment is a player, has a huge ego, has a complete charming quality to them, likes to hear themselves talk, and has some “conflict” in their life that “only I” can help them with.

You also know that while I’m fully aware that the relationships I get myself into can be toxic, I continue on even if the outcome leaves me hurt. As a friend of mine said, I ALLOW the guys to take advantage of me.

Those of you who don’t know me, now you’re caught up. :-)

This leads me to my need for a MANTOX. How am I supposed to find the caring, confident, thoughtful, supportive man I deserve to be with if I still surround myself with men who talk big and take until I hurt?

There a few men in my life that I need to remove. The tricky thing about living in a city like Reno is you can never FULLY remove someone because of how small it is (they don’t call it the “Biggest Little City” for nothing). In my case the men on the chopping block are also people I see in the “real-world” so some interaction is inevitable. I realized that while our paths are bound to cross, there is no reason to stay friends with them. There’s a complete difference in being friendly and being a friend.

As part of this mantox, I plan on putting an end to all “interpersonal relationships” with these guys. While I hope that my social interactions won’t be effected, I’m willing to take that risk to better myself. And in the spirit of a true mantoxicification (???) I feel it’s time for a digital removal too. Yes, that’s right…time to delete phone numbers, emails, and most importantly ::gasp:: Facebook! I don’t know what it is, but I hold on to contact information like a hoarder holds on to…well, everything. It’s time to purge it all.

So if you are one of those who are scheduled for deletion, this is your open warning as to why you won’t be hearing from me. I didn’t lose your number, I purposely deleted it.

And in the words of the amazing, talented Taylor Swift (yes, y'all I'm quoting country):

Rediscovering Reno: When ART takes over the TOWN

Saturday, July 9, 2011

"Summer evenings in Reno are like Mother Nature giving you a big hug!"
 ~ Some pearls of wisdom from yours-truly after a few cocktails.

A few days ago I was having some cocktails with friends outside on my patio.  It was early evening, the sun was setting, there was a slight breeze, and it was still warm.  As the vodka/lemonade I was sipping started to take effect, and as the summer air took a deep breath, I declared:

"Summer evenings in Reno are like Mother Nature giving you a big hug!"

As silly as what I said is, there is some truth behind it. It seems like everyone is in such a good mood, and everyone is happy to be interacting outdoors.

One of my favorite things about Reno in the summertime is all of the things there are to do.  And with long days, and beautiful evenings it makes me want to stay outside as long as possible.

Reno IS Artown

During the month of July, Artown is held.  This year is the 16th Anniversary of the event.  Sixteen years!  I remember when it used to be a little one-week event that included story-telling, the Chautauqua, and a few concerts/events.  Now Artown is a month long celebration that takes place all over Reno.

The highlight of Artown is that the majority of the events are FREE.  And the variety in activities is broad.  Concerts, exhibits, shows, dancing, art projects, speakers GALORE!!! It's easy to stay connected and find out what's going on each day with the Artown website, Facebook Page, Twitter updates, pamphlets, posters, and even an iPhone App.

Celtic Dancing on a beautiful night in Wingfield Park

In the last week I attended a Celtic Dance Show in Wingfield Park. Those girls can sure dance!  How they move their legs so quickly, I will never know.  The highlight of that night was when one of my best friends, Ms. B., got on stage and danced with a group of children.  Live music at Se7en on West.  If you haven't been to Se7en, it's definitely one of Reno's hidden secrets.  They seriously make one of the best mojitos in town.  And the variety of live bands they have are refreshing.  A guaranteed good time.  The annual Art in the Garden event, that supports the Washoe County Library System. I left this year with an antique planter/vase thing that will be a perfect addition to my re-vamped patio/garden area.

Art in the Garden 2011

While I would have liked to have attended some more events, I'm not going to beat myself up about it.  We're only in the first week of July, and there is PLENTY of Artown left to enjoy.

Tomorrow I plan on heading back down to West Street in the morning for the opening day of their weekly Farmer's Market.  I thought this would be a perfect way to load up on fruits and veggies for my clean eating (READ ABOUT IT HERE) and participate in the opening day festivities.

Hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful weekend as much as I am!

Oh, and for a complete calendar of Artown events, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

Heart-Mind-Body-Soul: Eating Clean

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

This week's "Heart-Mind-Body-Soul" is going up a little late.  But a little late is better then never. 

After a 4th of July Weekend of over-indulging (hell, it's been a whole summer of that so far of gluttony) I realized I was feeling a little a lot sluggish.  In my effort to improve myself I realized that in addition to working on my outer-self, I also need to improve what I put into myself.

Over the years, I've tried a lot of different types of diets, fads, powders, and cleanses.  Some have worked, some haven't. 

A couple of my friends are currently on the quest to lose some weight and get healthy. Along with regular exercise, they are "eating clean".  This basically means eating simply, and CUTTING THE CRAP.  Your food intake is mostly fruits, veggies, and lean protein.  And TONS of water. 

After talking to my Bestie, she convinced me to do this as well.  For six weeks.  She has a Wedding Shower in six weeks, and I have my 10 year high school reunion.  Perfect reason to get down a few lbs and feel better!

So for the next 38 days (and when you put it like that, it's really not that much) I will be eating clean.  This is more or less what I will be eating:

Toast w/an Egg or Shakeology
Chicken/Turkey Salad
 (protein, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, pepper, etc)
Lean protein and veggies

We will see how this goes, and you better believe I will be blogging about it.  My Bestie says that in addition to losing weight, she has more clarity and energy.  And can you beat that? 

I'm actually excited by the fruit and veggie intake.  This is a perfect time of year to find great produce.  With several farmers markets around town each week, I have plenty of opportunities to get the freshest-of-the-fresh!

Right now I'm on a nectarine kick.  The ones I picked up last week are finally ripe.  So juicy, so sweet, so delicious!

Let Freedom Ring

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July y'all!

As I celebrate our nation's birthday today,
I am reminded how much I love being an American!

We truly live in the greatest country in the world,
and I am thankful for the endless rights we're entitled to.

Today I'm going to celebrate the good ol' USA in full patriotic attire:
red/white/blue t-shirt, flag headband, decorated nails, and flip-flops.

Have a wonderful Independence Day.

Sarah's Gastronomic Adventures: Grilling without FIRE

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Although I think Mother Nature is still a bit bi-polar, Summer for the most part, has arrived to the Truckee Meadows.  Between the warmer weather, and my renovated patio/backyard I was inspired to do some outside-entertaining.

I invited two of my Besties over for some "gourmet" shish-kabobs.  The fundamentals of shish-kabobs are simple: take the items you want to eat, skewer them onto some kind of stick, put over fire, eat once cooked.  The barbarians did it, this is easy.  I however was looking for some kind of yummy marinade for our skewerable food.

While I could have scoured through my bookshelf of cookbooks, I went to the internet.  Good ol' FoodNetwork never lets me down.  They had the perfect recipe, which included different marinades for each item you were cooking.

NOTE: Instead of re-writing the recipe like I do some weeks, I'm just going to post the link for this one. 

I followed the recipe exactly this time around and didn't make any modifications to the marinade ingredients.  The ladies that were coming to eat aren't big red-meat eaters so we didn't make the steak kabobs (although they sounded amazing). My friends provided the veggies (mini-bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, artichoke hearts).

Not the prettiest presentation, but it sure tasted good!

The verdict?  This recipe was a HUGE SUCCESS!!!!  Besides the fact that my grill decided not to work at the last minute, and I had to use my grill pan instead (which totally defeated the whole inspiration for wanting me to cook this recipe). The chicken, by far, was the best part. It was so moist, and the simple citrus/herb marinade made it delicious.

I would totally make this dish again, as soon I can figure out how to make fire in my backyard!

A SCENT-sational Summer

Friday, July 1, 2011

I find sensory association fascinating...the way one smell can evoke a feeling or memory immediately.

As I was walking to my car after work today, I got a whiff of Honeysuckle.  Stopping dead in my tracks, I scanned the area for the white and golden trumpeted flowers.  Sure enough there they were.

Honeysuckles always remind me of my childhood and summer.  Every house I've ever lived in as a kid had honeysuckles.  My mom taught me how to bite off the end of the flower and suck the sweet drop of nectar out of it.  I find the smell of the blossoms intoxicating and comforting all at the same time.

There are other scents that I associate with summer.  Each time I smell these different things it takes me back to a feeling, memory, or thought from my past.

Here are some SUMMER SCENTS that I LOVE


The way the air smells like sagebrush and freshness after a Nevada rain.



Vine Ripened Tomatoes (yes, they have a smell)

Fresh cut grass.

So get out there y'all.  Enjoy your summer.  Get smelling! 
What are some of your favorite scents?

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