Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Coconut Oil, Why?

A few days ago, I finally took the plunge and decided to give coconut oil a try. I had not really been interested in trying it after reading extensively about it when it first became a "health and beauty" craze. The big turn-off for me was having to melt the oil to use it, and being careful of disposal. At that time (around 2013), several sources said you could not just rinse coconut oil down a drain for it might solidify and clog the drain. So I nixed the idea of using coconut oil because...what a pain! I was happy with my easy to use olive oil personal care regime, and olive oil is grand for food.

Back to me, in 2016, and my coconut oil trial. I bought this jar of coconut oil that was recommended as 'good' by a reputable site. This brand and kind was #3 on the list, and #1 was two dollars more in price. Let me get right to it...

Coconut Oil...Why?!

Skin
I tried it on a healing but mild rash type thing on my neck (suggested from a skin disease website) to soothe the itching/stinging. Umm. It was okay but I had been using olive oil and it worked just as well plus it didn't smell. Tea tree oil spray worked the best and offered longer lasting relief.

Hair
I have a few girlfriends who have been using coconut oil on their hair. They have all asked what I use. I happily reply, “Olive Oil, extra virgin olive oil. Bertolli's.” Although, I cook with Bragg's Organic Unrefined Unfiltered EVOO.

The day I tried coconut oil on my hair, my hair was freshly washed and dried but I had not moisturized. I decided to try a tiny bit of coconut oil on the ends (sources say you only need a tiny bit). I did not want to put coconut oil all over because I did not know how heavy, oily or greasy it would feel. As the day went on my hair ends felt stiff :(

Later that day I tried to wash the stuff (coconut oil) out of my hair—very difficult to do by the way. I had to use shampoo vs. when using EVOO it will rinse out with water or light conditioner. EVOO never leaves my hair stiff whether applied to damp or dry hair. Plus, again...that sweet smell of coconut oil all day long is not appealing. The Verdict:  Bertolli's Olive Oil is the best instant detangler and lock-in-moisture product for my hair. EVOO doesn't leave my hair feeling stiff (btw, Wegman's Virgin Olive Oil did). Again it doesn't smell.

Oh and the frizz! I have curly-frizzy hair. I don't fight the curl but I like to calm the frizz. The coconut oil activated the frizz to a whole new level. Grrr!

Moisturizer
Coconut oil to moisturize the skin? Well let's understand, oils don't really moisturize by themselves. They can lock in moisture on your hair or skin but otherwise oils just sit on top of your hair or skin. Coconut oil was okay on my skin. It felt good to rub in but I used it sparingly on the inside of my wrist. I did not want to walk around smelling like Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil all day (do they still make that stuff?)

Cooking
I did not bother to cook with coconut oil as I know it is a powerful flavor that can alter the taste of foods, and dishes from what you expect them to taste like. Akin to the way sesame oil can overpower foods, therefore, you have to be careful what you cook with a powerfully flavored oil.

People may love their coconut oil. And plenty of sources praise the health benefits and possible personal care applications. Great, let them love it. I am not here to change anyone's mind...

 "For me the stuff is not the great wonder product the Internet and Media and trend-followers say it is."


EVOO is the oil for me.



Some truths about coconut oil:



Chow!
food chick

~~:~~
Eat, drink, be merry and validate for parking (TM)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Wonder cleaner: best mildew and soap scum remover

Best mildew and soap scum remover ever!

Hey. I just have to share this healthier cleaning tip with you. Healthier because there is no synthetic fragrance, well-- no fragrance at all. Yaay! No harsh chemicals so you don't need to protect you hands/skin or eyes. No need for great ventilation so you don't pass out from the toxic fumes because there are none. Also, no parabens, no animal testing, non-gmo, no SLS, gluten-free, biodegradable, and safe for babies.

What is the wonder bathroom cleaning product? Alaffia Authentic African Black Soap Unscented.


It is billed as an all-in-one soap product but I had only used it a few times on my hair (way too drying--even when diluted, but great if you want to strip product build-up off your hair). I have this 32 FL oz bottle of Alaffia Authentic African Black Soap just sitting around. The packaging reads "Also good as... a general household cleanser." And boy oh boy is it!

My shower tile and bath were looking rather disgusting after a plumbing mishap. There was soap scum build up, and some of the tile grout had darkened due to mold/mildew, and add to that residue from the ick that backed-up from the tub drain. That shower and tub were scary! What to do? I don't have the typical, big name commercial tub and tile cleaners on hand because the fumes overcome me, cause headaches, shortness of breath, and if on my skin would surely cause some sort of dermatological event. *sad face*

I needed to clean this bath. I look down and see the Alaffia Authentic African Black Soap Unscented and gave it a go. Folks! Cleaning the tile and tub was a breeze. No elbow grease needed. Just a good scrub brush and normal pressure and soap scum is gone! Mildew stains disappeared. And you do not need to use a lot of the product. I used about 4 or 5 drops (not quite tablespoon-sized) and got everything clean. The soap goes a long way.

Where to buy
The soap can be found in many stores or on the Alaffia website. I buy mine at My Organic Market aka MOM's organic market.

chow!
food chick

~~:~~
Eat, drink, be merry and validate for parking (TM)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Chez Dior: Still #1 for taste buds and tummy

Chez Dior Senegalese Restaurant

5124 Baltimore Avenue, Hyattsville Maryland 20781
Phone (240) 696-5907


Dined on February 13, 2016 (lunch)


Foreground: Thiebou Diene w/ red rice, tamarind sauce and pepper sauce.
Middle: Yassa onion sauce. Background: half of veggie nem.

I have been back to Chez Dior more than 10 times since my first review. Who would have thought perfection could have gotten better but it did. The food at Chez Dior is still lovingly and fastidiously prepared. The atmosphere is convivial, the service is that of being in a warm and welcoming family member's home. Mamadou the proprietor and host busily takes orders at tables and on the phone but always finds time to visit each guest table to see if you need anything and more importantly if you are enjoying your meal and time at Chez Dior.

Food

I had Thiebou Diene with red rice (photo above). Everything was tender. The fish was meaty and flaky and the vegetables married well with all seasonings and their flavors settling into the dish--cabbage was sweet, yucca earthy, and yam had a creamy texture. I did order vegetable nems but barely had a taste as my dining companion flipped for the flavor, crunch, and ease of eating and gobbled them up.

I have tried many foods at Chez Dior because 80% of the time I bring friends along to dine with me and we share our meals. The food is consistently delicious, fresh, and marvelous; and, always served in an appealing way. My favorite meal continues to the Thiebou Diene with red rice and I have to always start my dining experience with the veggie nems (Mmm, mmm). I also love the Attieke. The Yassa comes with a tangy, savory onion sauce that will send you to your knees. I often order that sauce to eat along with...well anything! When I eat at Chez Dior I usually cannot finish my entree, however, if I do finish I have no hunger the next 24 hours. Truly “stick to your ribs” food.

Dining

I absolutely love visiting Chez Dior. Yes, that is it--visiting. It is like visiting family or dear friends; not at all like “going out to eat” although eating is the impetus for getting me there. My meals and dining at Chez Dior are good for my well-being because I am relaxed, conversation is good with friends and spontaneous with Mamadou and sometimes other guests, too. A truly pleasurable visit.

Chez Dior is not a huge space. I'm guessing there are about 12-14 tables and booths that seat either 2-6 guests.

Expectations

How to best enjoy your time at Chez Dior: Be open and expand your culinary journey to not only trying African foods but embracing the African cultural dining habits infused into the experience.

Tip: If a dish's ingredient varies slightly, Mamadou will tell you. Fresh ingredients are used, daily prep is done of many dishes and thus an item may be used up. Food at Chez Dior is not mass production.

Tip: This is authentic African/Senegalese food. Freshly prepared. No rush, along with warm genuine service and care. If you have less than 2 hours to relax, enjoy, and strike up a conversation—try calling ahead to order or go to an American-style restaurant.

Tip: When you are done, if you want your bill immediately you will have to ask. Chez Dior (and typical of many area authentic African restaurants) does not rush you away from the table. Customarily you eat leisurely, and let your food settle over conversation. At Chez Dior, they do not rush their guests.

Tip: Saturday nights are busy. Weekdays lunch time is often busy. Dinner time any day can be busier with dine in guests and take-away orders.

Treat yourself to great food and socializing. Visit Chez Dior now and often.

Chow!
food chick

~~:~~
Eat, drink, be merry and validate for parking (TM)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Wild Rice and Sorrel Soup



Another fine creation...I make kick-ass soups!

Here is another successful and delicious dish I threw together--sorrel and wild rice soup. As I've said many times before, I cook a meal based on what is in my cupboards and refrigerator. Rarely do I plan a meal.

I had a beautiful bunch of sorrel from my Homestead Farms, Fresh Organic Vegetables CSA stash, and leftover wild rice that I had made last Tuesday. I often cook a large batch of some variety of rice or tri-color quinoa to get me through the week. The rice or quinoa can be added to salads, soups, eggs, or as a side to another food.

The Soup

In a saucepan, on med/low setting, heat 2 cups of low sodium organic chicken broth, add olive oil and 1 TBSP of unsalted butter (I like the flavor these two items add to my homemade soups). Let that heat until it starts to bubble (not a hard boil). Turn heat lower to prevent boil, stir in cooked rice. Then add garlic and paprika. Let cook for about a 1 minute, then throw in sorrel leaves. Stir all together while cooking, less than a minute. Then pour into a bowl and eat!

Mmm...a filling but light, lemon-y soup; distinctive and delicious.



Ingredients

2 cups of Imagine Organic Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1/2 tsp of Bragg's Organic Extra virgin
1 cup of cooked Lundberg Wild blend Rice
Unsalted butter
Szeged Hungarian paprika
2 gloves of fresh organic garlic
Fresh sorrel leaves (as much as you like, I used about 1/2 cups
uncooked)

*CSA - community supported agriculture program


Chow!
food chick


~~:~~
Eat, drink, be merry and validate for parking (TM)

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Atlas Room Falls From Great to Mediocre

The Atlas Room 

1015 H Street NE, Washington, DC 20002 (202) 388-4020
theatlasroom.com 

Dinner on January 25, 2015

No longer a toss up between which is my favorite restaurant in DC. I used to say it was a tough choice between Corduroy and The Atlas Room. After dining tonight at The Atlas Room, hands down my favorite restaurant in DC is Corduroy.

Tonight's meal at The Atlas Room wasn't bad but it definitely had fallen from its mighty height of superb flavors, and great creations. The meal simply was not satisfying and parts of it were not prepared well. I know what I am talking about, I have eaten at this restaurant eight times since it opened in late 2010.

Appetizer
I started with the Short Rib appetizer: Butternut Purée, Apple Radish Salad, Herb Emulsion. The short rib was not tender and had an odd almost vinegar type taste. I ate half and switched starters with my dining companion because I was not enjoying mine. The Apple Radish salad, on top of the short rib, was good as was the puree and herb emulsions.

My dining companion had the Beet salad as a starter: beets, a cheese, walnut, (I think menu read celery but neither of us remember tasting celery). The beet salad was good but nothing special.

Main Course
I had the Market special: Striped bass with a spicy red cabbage, Fennel Risotto, Green Bean, and I think it was butternut squash puree. The fish was very tasty, my tastes buds really enjoyed the flavor. The entree was topped with a unique and pleasant tasting, spicy red-colored cabbage. The risotto was watery so the fennel flavor was almost non-existent. This was VERY disappointing because I love fennel, and a well made risotto. I would have rated my entree 4 stars except the watery risotto brought it down to 3 stars. I don't know why the kitchen screwed up the risotto, we were the only people in the restaurant from 5:20 to 6:45 pm, when we left.

My friend had the Beef two ways: Flat Iron steak, Short Rib, Parsnip Purée, Chard, Beet, Red Wine. His short rib was a little more tender than the piece I had in my appetizer; and, the flat iron steak was cooked well and good but not enough of it (two thin strips of meat). My dining companion said the collard greens were very good. He felt that all parts of the meal complemented each other and the entree was good but in his words, "That was good but not satisfying."

Another short coming of dining at the Atlas Room this evening is they had no bottled still water (I don't drink DC water...ewww!) and they do not serve hot tea (I did not recall this from past visits??). I looked over the cocktail menu and there was no hot toddy in the offerings like in the past. So I had a good glass of iced tea...brrr!

In the past I have recommended The Atlas Room to numerous people. Sadly I cannot and will not recommend it again. I used to adore this place, I hope this was just a really off night.

Chow!
food chick


~~:~~
Eat, drink, be merry and validate for parking (TM)