I recently bought a share of a beef cow with some friends. We split a half a steer between the five of us. My friend Casie had tracked down a farmer who could sell us meat that was organic, grass-fed and humanely-slaughtered. After dividing the share between five families, I took home a freezer full of meat. Given the option to pick whatever odd cuts of meat that we wanted, I asked for the large leg bones for soup and marrow and ended up with three 9-pound bags of assorted soup bones. I was the only one that wanted them, for some reason. What to do with this treasure? The only thing to do was to try making beef stock from bones at home.
Beef stock made from bones is so nutrient-rich and satisfying, that it has been used as medicine for centuries. Filled with bio-available protein, calcium, amino acids and niacin, there is a reason why doctors (and your mother) prescribe a bowl of broth when you are sick. When it is made at home, it is naturally low-sodium and low-calorie. The bones give the stock lots of collagen, which is essential to our bone and joint health. Because it is made from bones, it is relatively inexpensive (and frugal) to make. Making beef stock from bones is certainly easy and the result is a basic building-block for sauces, soups, rices and stews.
The daughter and I went on a food adventure last week and so, as we always do, we headed to Buford Highway. Among the many, many immigrant populations that you will find represented along Atlanta’s melting pot is Korean. Up and down Buford Highway, you can find many places that have typical Korean cuisine – bbq, noodle dishes, soups and rice bowls. So many to choose from but we ended up at Woo Nam Jeong Stone Bowl House, a Korean restaurant that is known for its version of bibimbap.
Since we’re spending Spring Break this year in Atlanta, we’re trying to compensate for our lack of beach action by doing fun “staycation” adventures in town. Part of being a tourist in your own town means hitting up your restaurant wish list, which for us means heading to Buford Highway.
I’d read a review of a Salvadoran restaurant in Doraville called Rincon Latino. I didn’t really know much about Salvadoran food, so it seemed like a good place for a food adventure. Rincon Latino is known for it’s pupusas, a specialty of El Salvador. Like a Mexican torta, a pupusa is a thick masa flatbread filled with different kinds of meat and cheese, then cooked on a griddle.
My daughter, Anna, and I decided to give up meat this spring for Lent. Going meatless for a month and a half is not really that big of a deprivation, but it did challenge me to rethink my standard meat-and-two sides family dinners. Even though we have many meatless meals during a typical week, I quickly ran through my usual veggie dinner ideas. I was soon digging through my old vegetarian cookbooks looking for dinner inspiration.
A recent dinner out at Decatur’s newest Indian street food place, Chai Pani, gave me a needed push back to Indian food. Because large portions of their population do not eat meat, India has one of the most varied and flavorful meatless cuisines in the world. One of my all-time favorite Indian dishes is saag paneer, which is a traditional, mildly spiced, creamed spinach, served with fried chunks of paneer, an unaged, Indian farmer cheese. It’s very healthy AND my kids love it. I would call that a win-win.
Here is how I made it at home…
Okay, maybe it’s not really an obsession, but there is not much else that will make me drive 10 miles of crosstown Atlanta traffic for lunch. Bánh mì is the Vietnamese equivalent of a sub sandwich. Owing to the French Colonial influence in Indochina, the Vietnamese quickly adapted the baguette to deliver some very local flavors – grilled pork or chicken, pork pate, pickled daikon radish and carrots, mayo, fresh basil, fresh mint, cilantro and chili peppers. If you’ve had one, you know that a bánh mì is like an amazing salad sitting on top of a grilled meat-filled sub roll. The taste is so fresh and delicious … and they’re only a couple of bucks each!
My friends know that I love these sandwiches and will seek them out in strip malls all up and down Buford Highway, the center of our culinary and cultural melting pot here in Atlanta. I often get texts in the middle of the day from friends asking “Where was that Vietnamese sandwich place you were talking about again?” There are a lot of little places where you can get great bánh mì, but my two favorites are Lee’s Bakery and Quoc Huong Banh Mi. You can do a sit-down lunch at either of these places, with more selections of traditional Vietnamese food such as pho noodle bowls, but they are great for take-out. I just wish that they were a little closer to my house.
Maybe because most weeks I’m too lazy to drive over to Buford Highway, I’ve started making bánh mi at home. Once you gather the ingredients, they’re actually quite easy to make. The key is getting the fresh veg and a good crusty baguette as your sandwich base. A quick trip to the Dekalb Farmer’s Market works for both.