Saturday, December 27, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Breakfast

I rocked Christmas Breakfast bachelorette style (my Dad was tasteful enough to call me up and point out that I'm the only one of three sisters who is not in a committed relationship- thanks for rubbing it in, Dad!!) But I wanted to do something special, so I surveyed the contents of the fridge and realized I had the makings of Latkes, since I'm SUCH A JEW.

My friend Esther (who is a Jew, and an exceedingly lovely one), gave me a recipe for rice cooker applesauce (she lives in Japan), so I got up, turned on the rice cooker and went back to bed for a couple hours. It's super easy- throw cored/peeled (I didnt peel mine because they're organic) apples into a rice cooker with some water/sugar/spices/whatever, turn the rice cooker on, and voila! (I've also heard that you can bake a cake in a rice cooker but I never had much luck in that regard).

I used the Epicurious Latke recipe (with garlic, because it didn't have onions, and I added a little flour to make it stick together), and also made some DIY turkey sausage (add spices to ground turkey and fry it up), and fresh spinach sauteed with garlic. My meal was the bomb diggity!

For dinner I went to my ex-husband's house, as is my holiday tradition. He's a pretty good cook, even if he sticks to a limited meat and potatoes repetoire. He made some damn good lasagne, which we had with cream soda and some kinda so-so garlic bread (I pride myself on making damn good garlic bread with rosemary and parmesan and loads of fresh garlic and butter). Then we watched Season 4 of Weeds and he gave me a 30 day bus pass for Christmas, which is seriously an amazing present!!! Also, I have a ton of leftover lasagne in the fridge. YUM!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Like Vally Val, I faced a non-Grandma Christmas this year. My Grandmother came down with pneumonia this week, so my aunt and I cooked our traditional Swedish dinner today. I don't know how my Grandmother has done it all these years. There were three of us working in the kitchen today (two restaurant pros), and we were still exhausted. And none of us are eighty years old.

I cooked my Grandmother's Swedish meatballs today, without the recipe, for a family of people who look forward to her meatballs all year. No pressure. Like any good cook, I drank a little. I also didn't measure anything. It took years to get the recipe out of my Grandmother, so I used to treat it like a sacrament. I'd measure everything carefully and they never turned out like hers. Well, how often do you see your Grandmother measure ingredients when she's making an old family recipe? I eyeballed everything today, and swore that anyone who complained about the cooking would get a carving fork in the eye. Fortunately, the meatballs were met with contented silence and chewing. My Grandmother even bragged to my Dad that I can make meatballs. I feel like I passed a secret adult test.

A few facts about Swedish meatballs:

* They should never have tomato in them. That's Italian.
* Some recipes call for just beef, but I like a 50/50 beef and pork combo.
* White sauce is the only acceptable gravy. Anything from a packet and you might as well just phone it in. They sell frozen meatballs at Ikea now.
* You must eat lingonberries with your Swedish meatballs. My younger cousins don't get this. They think it's weird to eat fruit and meat at the same time, but they eat Chinese food. Maybe it's just weird to have them separate on your plate. Several spoonfuls of lingonberries on the plate is ideal, so that you can drag the meatballs through them. A bit of twirling action with the fork is good, but you don't want to be accused of playing with your food. This is an especially useful way to avoid awkward eye contact and dodge unwanted personal questions.

pick up your beans and go

Due to her failing health Christmas will, for the first time ever, not be at Granny's :(

I called my aunt and uncle and asked them what I could bring (Granny and I had agreed on me supplying the salad but I make no assumptions and I am in charge of "green beans". I know they are expecting a bag of frozen beans. They will be getting fresh grean beans with onion and bacon. I know I will be asked what is in the green beans, I know it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The New Middle American Diet

I live a pretty healthy, sheltered food life in the SF Bay Area. Discovering a "new food" usually means trying something from another culture like pupusasas (a tortilla stuffed with cheese from El Salvador) rather than a the latest exploding neon colored kids cereal. But I am mesmerized when I see the newest colorful inventions when I visit the big chain grocery stores, like the H.E.B. in the Huston suburb where I am now.
Every thing stops when I see the neon colored cakes. I can hear my nutrition professors sneer in the back of my mind, but my inner six year old wants to stare up close. A cake with a dinosaur bursting out of a volcano! A pink castle cake with princesses doll on each plastic tower! Cakes shaped like pirate ships! Oh my God! You want to play with them, not eat them! The frosting is so bright it looks like play dough. I am in an alternate universe, where image is everything, and the question of what it's made out of is unimportant. Even the pictures on the boxed cake mixes are more vivid than any cake I've made. Andy Worhol would be proud.
I can see how people who think this is food would be afraid to cook. This stuff is to the whole grain chocolate and cherry scones I enjoyed for my birthday what porn stars are to the average, attractive woman. Real food doesn't look like that, and you can get a real complex if you confuse image with reality. It's fun to pretend, just remember that it's not real.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


1) I had a professor once who said, "Eating is the most intimate thing you can do with your clothes on." You're taking something into a bodily orifice and accepting it, trusting it. Supposedly it brings people together. Like sex.

2) Hate-fucking. Common occurrence. People that hate each other bump uglies.

3) If two people hate each other, and they eat a meal together, what happens? Is it the same as hate-fucking? Like, some physical satisfaction, but also something frustrating?

not my kinda pie

Someone brought this into work:

It was brought in half gone, it has remained untouched. This picture doesn't do it justice, its kind of greyish in color and looks like it contains styrofoam. It looks like its starting to disintegrate. I bet it will burst into flames if air hits it.

I, on the other hand, made this because I'm a bad ass:

Friday, December 12, 2008

4 Part Post!

A few recent items of note:

1. Dollar burger night at Big Chicks is fucking amazing. They'll put brie on your burger for a buck extra!
That's Chris and I keeping it real at Big Chicks, naturally.

2. I finally visited the legendary "Pasta Truck" after reading my friend Chris's many paeans to the humble truck where he eats lunch every day. I assume it's linked to some restaurant somewhere, they serve pasta meals in foil take out containers, plus bread and a drink for $4. I had shells with gorgonzola, spinach and some kind of creamy tomatoey sauce. I am not a huge pasta lover as I try to avoid eating huge quantities of white flour, but I gotta hand it to pasta truck- I was not hungry for eight hours after eating it, and for my broke, hypoglycemic ass that's kind of amazing. I did however wind up with impressive indigestion but that might have been the three cups of coffee I had. Come to think of it, that might be why I didn't get hungry, either. I may have to try the ravioli some time.

3. My new favorite drink? The separator. Shosh is responsible for getting me into this one, someone(who?) blogged about it for Mixology Monday and she asked me to get one and write about it. I had it for the first time at Club Foot with my friend Jamal, who also hails from the Yay Area. It's a White Russian with cognac or brandy in lieu of vodka, so named because the Kahlua seperates out from the cream and brandy. And fuck, it's good, if a bit rich.

4. I have managed to avoid my typical winter diet of cookies, popcorn and hot chocolate in favor of living on nabe, Japanese style winter stew. I use a kimchee and miso base for mine. Typically I'll sautee ground turkey on the bottom of the sauce pan (or make meatballs w. garlic and ginger), bring the water to the boil w. whatever vegetables I'm using (frozen pre chopped ones are easy), dried wakame, fresh kimchee w. juice, then once the water's hot, mix in some miso that's been pre-mixed with a little water. Good shit, healthy + easy.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Chocolate fest

I attended the chocolate festival at Chocolatier Blue tonight. I wavered as to whether I would go- strapped for cash, chocolate isn't good for me, I'm designing a talk on how to avoid sugar and I don't want to feel like a hypocrite, etc. After writing for several hours only a couple of blocks away, I grabbed my credit card and decided to attend. I walked into the tiny shop, which was filled with about 2o other people. Everyone looked awkward, I half expected everyone to start grabbing candy behind the counter. The pretty, young counter girl sold tickets to those of us who hadn't bought them in advance. On the back of the tickets was a list of different truffles and desserts which would be checked off as we collected our booty. We entered the festival through a driveway and into a lovely patio edged with roses. I was always irritated by the odd experience of eating mind stoppingly delicious chocolate while standing on the street in front of the Firestone next to the store. This, however, was the perfect environment for enjoying amazing chocolate. Several tables were laid out with each dessert. They projected Willy Wonka a brick wall with the sound off, and a jazz combo played nearby. I was pretty hungry, and eating six truffles, a cup of hot chocolate and two desserts didn't seem like the best idea, besides I had arrived alone. Some of the other guests were beginning to annoy me, so I drank the chocolate and carried the rest of the booty home to share with the boyfriend and house mate, who helped me taste everything. The verdict is out, even Scott who doesn't like sweets verified that it was the best chocolate ever. What can I say, I don't like to drink alone.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

white people manage to screw up white food

Just got back from a baby shower in Indiana. It was held in a church activity room so I should've known better and stopped off at Subway. Hell, beef jerky from a gas station would've been better than what was served. With the exception of the baked goods, NOTHING was homemade. The only vegetable type matter I could find was celery sticks and salsa. For some reason there was onion dip but no potato chips. Warm 2 liters of pop were out. There was no ice. Potato salad and cole slaw were still in the tubs from Jewel they had been bought in.

Don't get me wrong, I am casual. I have served friends tater tots and frozen pizza from Aldi but that was just friends getting together, hanging out in my living room in lieu of a bar. When I have served tater tots to dinner guests you bet your hot ass the meat loaf I made was HOMEMADE and tasty and there was gravy (seriously, tater tots with gravy kicks ass). But for a shower I would expect things kicked up a notch or two.

Christmas will be interesting. I told Granny I will bring salad and I've already been ordered to not spend alot of money like I did last time (I think I spent all of $10 on salad for 10+ people which I think is pretty reasonable). She suggested salad in a bag. Not gonna do it. I also volunteered to bring a side dish. I understand Granny is in her late 80s and I don't expect her to cook but let me if I am willing! She is already talking of just having "one large dish". I know we're going to have a Christmas casserole, I just know it. I'm bringing laxatives for all.