Smokey Apple Porcini Steak Marinade

Porcini_AppleMy son-in-law stopped by my new Vom Fass shop in Kowalski’s Markets in Woodbury, MN, last week and bought apple vinegar and porcini extra virgin olive oil. The results were the most amazing steaks I’ve ever eaten!

Smokey apple porcini steak
1/2 C Vom Fass Waldburg Balsam Apple Vinegar
1/4 C soy sauce
3 T minced garlic
2 T honey
2 T Vom Fass Porcini EVO Oil
2 t pepper
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t onion powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t Hickory liquid smoke flavoring
1 pinch cayenne pepper
We used marinade for 4 porterhouse steaks. Let steaks marinate 4 to 48 hours, then grill. The Apple Balsamic Vinegar acts as a tenderizer, and combined with the liquid smoke, it gives it a slight apple-wood flavoring.

2012-2013 Motorcycle Adventure – The Big Picture

Today begins Leg 4 of our 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure. And what an adventure it has been! My sweetheart (SH) and i came up with the idea of a segmented winter road trip as a unique way to see the country, an opportunity to extend our biking throughout the year and a really special way of experiencing quintessential Americana together – great memory-making material!

SH has done all the itinerary planning, checking in with me for feedback on routes, shipping, storage units, etc. It is such a treat for me to just pack my bag and show up! My job is trip photographer, blogger and finding things to do and places to eat along the way. And of course, being an adventurous, enjoyable travel companion!

Here is a recap of our trip so far and a sneak peek at what’s ahead. We started this Winter adventure at the end October 2012, when we shipped our two Honda ST 1300s to Los Angeles via Federal Motorcycle, a division of Allied Van Lines. They strap the bikes on to a pallet and fork-lift them right onto the truck van! After attending Uncles Walter’s 103rd birthday party, we hit the road and biked to Tempe, AZ, over three days. One of many highlights was stopping in Lake Havasu City to have dinner with my cousin Dave, who i had not seen since we were kids. We stored the bikes in a 10×10 storage unit, walked back to our hotel and the next morning rode the hotel shuttle to the airport to return home to Minnesota.

In January 2013, we flew to LA to visit Walter for a day, then flew to Phoenix to spend the night at the same hotel. Early the next morning, we walked to storage unit to pick up bikes. We had a slight delay due to a dead battery on SH’s bike, but soon enough were on our way to breakfast with friends who were snowbirding in AZ for the first time this year. We made our way to El Paso, TX, were we enjoyed local sightseeing, including the amazing White Sands National Monument, then stored the bikes and flew home.

In February, we combined a visit with Walter in LA with a James Malinchak Mastermind meeting, before flying from LA to El Paso to pick up the bikes and head for Dallas. Highlights of that trip included exploring the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and an overnight visit with a friend in Prosper, TX. And then once again stored the bikes and flew home.

I’m on a Sun Country flight to Dallas, as I write this entry. We’ll travel from Dallas to St. Louis on this leg of the journey. The first weekend in May will mark the completion of this amazing adventure. It has already more than met my expectations – SH and I have met wonderful, colorful and gracious people. We’ve experienced small-town America, travelled historic byways, stood in awe of natural wonders, and braved the freeway systems of LA and Dallas. And to think I had never ridden – let alone driven – a motorcycle as recently as four years ago!

You might be surprised at how affordable this adventure has been. We’ve probably spent less than the average 2 week winter vacation. The single most costly expense was shipping our bikes to LA, which was about $1,100. We belong to the membership programs of several hotels and airlines. We are accumulating or using reward points on every trip. The multi-city hops on one airline or multiple one ways on several airlines usually result in total airfare for each leg of less than $350 each. We eat at the local mom and pop diners which are usually very affordable. We get to chat with the most interesting people at those friendly joints. We occasionally splurge on a fine dining experience, asking the locals for recommendations. Our usual rule is no chains, but we make exceptions now and then for the sake of convenience or time. After many motorcycle trips over the past 3 1/2 years, I think I’ve finally learned what and how to pack. More on gear and packing in a future blog! I’m now in the Super Shuttle, enroute to the storage unit, so signing off for now. Until later . . . Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 2, Leg 3, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

Friday, March 1, 2013

After a quick breakfast at the hotel in Hobbs, my sweetheart (SH) and I continued East on Hwy 180, starting the day dressed warmer than yesterday’s start, including the addition of chaps, a neck-warmer and my light down jacket under my armored jacket for me, and winter gloves and light jacket as a liner for my sweetheart. The sun is warm, but when we start out in the high 30-degree levels, the wind is chilly, even for these Minnesotans!

We stopped in Lamesa at a Mexican family restaurant to warm up / snack / coffee break. Then we continued on Hwy 180, enjoying the changing landscape that includes desert, oil, hills, mountains, some trees, increasing agriculture and ranching – and long stretches with a whole lot of nothing! We always seem to find the beauty in our travels, even in the desolation of sparsely populated, remote areas that include long, pancake flat stretches of straight highway. Loving 75 mph posted speed limits.

It’s a windy today, and the fields of windmills near Albany are good indicators that my arms will ache by the end of the day from balancing the bike against the gusty northwest breezes. Although it is the windiest little city, I love Albany, TX, population about 2,000! It appears to be a much more affluent town than Snyder or Lamesa. We had a latte at a very cute and historic drug store, shopped for souvenirs in a gift shop, where we chatted with a charming store clerk (who gave me a postage stamp for my postcard to SH’s Uncle Walter).

We didn’t take the time to visit the Old Jailhouse Art Center, but the lady in the Chamber of Commerce was eager to tell us all about it. If I were to move to a small town in Texas, I would be likely to choose Albany!

The Ridge Motel in Breckenridge, TX, is our stopping point for the night. I collapsed for a short nap, and was tempted to stay there all night, until my empty stomach convinced me to get up. We walked over to Ernie’s Spanish Kitchen for dinner, where SH had a burritto and I had a delicious rib-eye steak. It can be tricky finding gluten-free food in the boonies. The servers often look at me like I’m speaking Chinese when I ask whether a dish is gluten-free!  I usually stick to eggs, salads and grilled meats, for the most part, on our travels.

The server was an energetic, sincere woman who must have had close to the same circumference and height measurements. The people in outstate Texas have been just delightful, hospitable, and interesting.

After our second 250-mile plus day in chilly, windy temps, I think I was sleeping before my head hit the pillow.  Tomorrow will find us back in the city.

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day3 , Leg 2, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

January 19, 2013: Great to wake up this morning when my body told me it was ready to,   at 7 a.m. At that time, it was 21 degrees in Lordsburg, NM, which meant a leisurely morning waiting for the thermometer to rise to a point where it would be safe and comfortable to ride the motorcycles to our next destination — El Paso, TX.

We had breakfast in our hotel and enjoyed visiting with the Brownings, from my home state of ND. They are Bismarck residents who are spending a few weeks in Arizona. Then we chatted with a man from Arkansas who was in the area to get medical treatment for his wife. Talking with people from around the country is one of my favorite aspects of our adventures!

When the mercury hit 40 degrees and the clock showed 10:30 a.m Mountain Time, we were packed up and on the road – I-10 East to be exact. The sun was warm on our backs and we had prepared for these temps by packing and wearing layers that could be peeled off as the temp rose throughout the day.

Halfway between Lordsburg and Deming, NM, we crossed the Continental Divide at an elevation of about 4,500 feet. The desert has lots more native vegetation than Northwest Arizona, which we traveled on Leg 1 back in November, but the sand is still very unstable. We saw many highway signs warning us that zero visibility was possible due to high winds and blowing sand. Fortunately, the winds were light and the weather was friendly to these adventurers!

We stopped in Deming to top off the gas tanks and eat lunch at La Fonda, which the gas station attendant recommended. I love Mexican food, and my Sweetheart (SH) is usually agreeable to eat anywhere he can get a decent salad, so I was happy to follow up on that recommendation. The lunch buffet looked and smelled de-lish, but unfortunately they put flour in all their sauces, so the pickin’s were pretty slim for this gluten-free girl.

Although disappointed by a pretty plain lunch, we were delighted by a couple places in downtown Deming on Gold Avenue. The main business street that we rode into and through town had a lot of shuttered businesses, but downtown appeared to have a number of cute shops. I enjoyed my latte and SH his mocha (our “usuals” when we can find them!) in a Christian bookstore called The Wayfinder. After catching up with the world, thanks to The Wayfinder’s free WiFi, we stopped into a little boutique down the street on the way back to our bikes. I found my souvenir of the trip – a beautiful black wrap. But apparently the real reason we were drawn to the shop was the deeply touching conversation we had with the young woman shopkeeper – all about blessings and gratitude.

We avoid freeways on our adventures whenever possible, so we continued the day’s journey on NM Hwy 11, south of Deming, before turning east on NM Hwy 9, which would take us the remaining distance to El Paso. There is some agruculture in this area, including some kind of orchards – I’m going to research what types of trees they were – perhaps nuts?

We took a little side trip a few miles further south to take a peek at the United States / Mexico border. It was interesting and a little unnerving to see all the border patrol measures and activity. That whole area, all the way to El Paso, was crawling with border patrol SUVs, a blimp monitoring the area, radar stations in the middle of the desert terrain, etc.

We reached the El Paso city limits about 4 p.m., a little surprised at how large the urban area is, including the more industrial Juarez, Mexico, across the river. I’ve never liked city freeway driving on my motorcycle, and it’s even less enjoyable when I’m in unfamiliar territory.  However, I am proud of the fact that I’m now a competent biker in these conditions, after only three years of riding. I’m happy to have grown beyond “terrified” when riding in heavy freeway traffic!

We found our La Quinta near the airport without mishap – again very grateful,for our excellent helmet communicators! After locking up and covering the bikes, we rested, showered, and then took the hotel staff’s recommendation and their shuttle service to Carlos & Mickey’s Fine Mexican Dining. I loved this place! Live music, high energy, great people watching and fabulous food! I  enjoyed a margarita and SH a Corona as we chatted with two Army guys who are here attending the Academy while we waited for a table.  My chili-stuffed, bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp were delectable and SH didn’t leave a crumb on his plate, so I’m assuming he was equally satisfied with his Steak Rancheros.

In all, a wonderful day of sights, sounds and sun! Tomorrow we will be El Paso tourists.

Hasta la vista!  Love, Tomboy Tam

Living to eat doesn’t have to be a bad thing

Food is not one of my defined categories for this blog. The reality is, I love food so much, that I consider it inherent in all aspects of life:

Relationships – I love to cook for my loved ones.

Personal growth – Food has been a consistent source of comfort through all stages of my growth. And I’ve consistently improved my choices throughout that same time!

Health & wellness – I’ve enjoyed evolving my diet to satisfy my foodie fetishes, while honoring my commitment to being healthy and fit, and living a long life.

Spirituality – Food feeds my soul, as well as my body. I have glimpsed heaven while enjoying sublime flavors.

Career – What beloved manager has not motivated teamwork and employee engagement on the backs of pizza lunches and Friday bagels? Even my food offerings at work evolved through my personal growth to fruit and salad options.

Lifestyle – Adventure, exploration, friends and fun: all relevant to cooking, dining out and trying new foods and restaurants.

Today I offer one of my recent favorite recipes – Tomboy Tam’s un-omelet (not really an omelet because I throw most of it in the pan together instead of folding the contents into the embrace of cooked eggs – fussy, precise cooking is not a tomboy trait!):

Serves 1, about 250 calories per serving, 14 grams of fat and 20 grams of protein

Ingredients (I use organic ingredients whenever possible):

  • 1 t oil (go with a healthy one – olive, avocado, etc) or spray oil
  • 2 T chopped onion
  • 2 T chopped green and/or red pepper
  • ½ C chopped mushrooms
  • ¾ C chopped baby spinach (I just cut it up a bit with a scissors when I add it to the pan)
  • ½ of a medium-sized tomato, chopped
  • 1/8 C feta cheese crumbles (as I am fond of saying, “feta makes everything betta!”)
  • 1/4 of an avocado, sliced
  • 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I added the tomatoes after cooking in this photo, which is an easy alternative to adding them to the pan to cook with the eggs.

Whisk the eggs with the salt and pepper. Put oil into a small non-stick pan and heat over medium burner. Add onions and peppers and stir-fry a minute or less before adding mushrooms. After about another minute of stir-frying, add the chopped spinach and tomatoes. Stir for a few seconds and then add the eggs. Reduce heat to low and cover pan. Check after three to five minutes for doneness. When the eggs are set and it’s a little puffy, it’s done. Don’t overcook. Remove from pan and put on plate. Add the feta cheese and avocado and fold over – or not. Eat and enjoy!

I’ve added slightly blanched asparagus cut into 1-inch pieces or other veggies, depending on what I have on hand. You can add or replace the avocado with some chopped deli ham or a slice of fried, crumbled bacon without completely ruining the health value. Obviously, adjust the ingredients as needed for any special needs, such as replacing the one whole egg with another egg white are watching your cholesterol. Personally, I like the veggies tender-crisp so I keep the sautéing prior to adding the eggs to a minimum.

I enjoyed this as a real omelet with a dear friend for brunch at Wilde Roast on St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis recently and loved it so much I recreated it at home and have been eating it a couple times a week ever since. And by the way, Wilde Roast has gluten free bread! I keep fresh chopped onion and peppers in the frig so it’s quick and easy to prepare.

  • What are your go-to healthy favorites? 
  • What is your relationship with food?

Thanks for sharing!

Love, Tomboy Tam