October 25, 2013

Weekly Obsessions 10.25.13

White Party Pop Up

White Party

I love to eat out. With friends. Case closed.

I am, however, also HUGE fan of eating out of my own low-sodium snack pack when dining beyond the kitchen.

I think of it as a low-sodium emergency kit, a “starving SOS,” just in case I find myself somewhere with nothing to eat. And whether it is a wedding, a potluck, or the Oscars (someday), you’ll always find me with a little brown bag of something something that will keep me fed and feeling full.

But hold on to your snack pack and restaurant reservation for a moment, because last weekend these two things got combined in a totally awesome way: a BYO-meal all white pop-up dinner.

Yes. A beautiful dinner set in Napa, under a romantic full moon, with around 200 strangers all equipped with their own tablecloths, glasses, decorations, and most importantly, food. The hosts of the evening, Handmade Events, provides the tables and chairs, the location, and the late night entertainment. But the rest is up to you. Including what you eat.

White Pop Up Location

White Party Party

Dressed in white, my party of four feasted on homemade sourdough bread and roasted tomato bruschetta. We noshed on endive with curry chicken salad. We slurped Asian noodle bowls. We stuffed up with fluffy angel food cake and lemon curd. And we danced it all off to a live polka funk band. Pretty standard Saturday.

Slash, an unforgettable food experience. Which reminded me that memorable meals don’t just  happen at the table of the latest hot shot restaurant. They can happen before, during, or after the food is served. With a trip to the farmers market. With a cooking class. With a farm tour. Or of course, with an all-white pop up dinner.

So expand your idea of eating out and this weekend, take your low-sodium dining beyond the dining room. Invite friends, explore, and enjoy every part of dinner — from picking your ingredients to cleaning the dishes.

Now let’s get to some fun links from the week!

MAGICAL FRUIT: Smart is knowing tomatoes are fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to use them in a fruit salad. And genius is topping an avocado with lemon, olive oil, and cannellini beans.

HOLIDAY CHEER (and churros): The ladies at Spoon Fork Bacon had me at hello. And rosemary wreath table cards. And the idea of banana bread churros! Just make sure to use a low-sodium banana bread recipe.

STUFF IT: I’m totally in love with Mark Bittman (pass it on) and his gorgeous NY Times infographics, like this one that tells us to make dolmas. With anything we want. Go low-so by using boiled collards or cabbage instead of brined grape leaves. Or if you live near/find yourself lost in a vineyard, pick and prepare real grape leaves yourself! This would make a great desk lunch or dinner party appetizer.

COOKING SCHOOL: Jonesing for tortellini? Who isn’t. Check out Tasting Table’s heartwarming homemade how-to video. And make sure to use low-sodium ricotta or mascarpone (if you can handle a little extra mg’s) for the filling. Or, better yet, use a simple but thick butternut squash puree, like the ravioli recipe in my book! Or your own concoction using these pasta filling rules from YumSugar.

EAT OUT: BYOeverything to this self-hosted, self-cooked, super sexy pop up dinner. It’s rad. And a perfect event for anyone craving a memorable meal experience with loved ones, but nervous to eat beyond the kitchen. Did someone say holiday gift? Yeah, I just did.

HOT CHOCOLATE: I don’t know how to melt chocolate. I know how to burn it. But thankfully theKitchn has you covered with this great tutorial. Meaning velvety chocolate coat for strawberries, bananas, or your spoon.

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY: If you’ve noticed that my pictures have a grey-ish tint to them, you ain’t crazy. For the past month I’ve battled with severe color saturation issues and I’m still working on it. So for now, continue to pretend that everything you see is in technicolor and hopefully I’ll have it all figured out soon! 

YOUR TURN: What are you making this weekend?

waiwa October 25, 2013 at 11:24 am

Very impressive!

Jeanne October 25, 2013 at 2:47 pm

I’d love to know what your low sodium emergency kit has in it. I have an eighth-grade daughter on a low sodium diet and we still have a lot to figure out. Thanks!

Lois Gladser October 25, 2013 at 4:08 pm

The sourdough sandwich bread from Sprouts Market has only 80mg of salt. I just tried it and it’s delish. Hard to find low sodium sliced bread that tastes good.

Peggy October 27, 2013 at 7:44 am

I’ve been battling with feeling socially isolated since I started eating low sodium. It is so refreshing to see you attending beautiful events where food is not an issue! Any other tips for dining out?

Carol Appler November 1, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I also carry low sodium snacks due to kidney disease. Fruit (fresh and freeze dried), Skinny Pop (in 100 calories bags-60 mg Na per bag) and Trader Joe’s no sodium chunky peanut butter are some of my favorites. One hundred calorie packs of raw walnuts and almonds are good also. Perhaps we can share ideas and create more variety for each other.

Sodium Girl, Would you share what you carry in your snack pack?

jessg23 November 5, 2013 at 9:45 am

I generally have sodium-free granola bars (I love 18 Rabbits) and dried fruit with me. I also ALWAYS carry a bottle of Mrs. Dash seasoning so that I can spice up any meal while on the go. When I travel, I make sure to have also carry microwave rice packages, rice crackers, and salt-free nut butter packets (like Justin’s). And when I go to weddings or potlucks or dinner parties, I always bring a little brown bag with a full meal in tupperware!

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