Saturday, December 18, 2010

I made you some shrimp scampi.

Dear readers and all those crickets who make noise when I try to address you,

We have entered into that magical time, that scary spiral of abyss when Christmas shopping can still be postponed but you know that if you put it off you will hate yourself when you finally do go. Fortunately, when we get over this hump, it'll be smooth sailing to all those post-Christmas-oh-shit-look-at-all-this-inventory-we-need-to-sell sales at your favorite stores. $3 lotion from Victoria's Secret, anyone? I would like ten, please. They tend to mask the odor of despair and let people around you know that you find personal hygiene important. Plus some of them are glittery, and glitter aids in the blinding of those you find distasteful.

I think I had more to say, but let's get right into the food, here. Because I forgot the other stuff and it probably wasn't going anywhere I can be proud of.

So... what's great about shrimp is that they cook really fast. What's less great is that they're kind of pricey. At fish counters, the unpeeled ones tend to be a few dollars cheaper, but you have to decide if that's worth the labor on your end. The great thing about this recipe is that it takes 15 minutes to make, start to finish, if you have peeled shrimp. Also, since you broke the bank on the shrimp, it helps that the other ingredients are inexpensive. Shrimp scampi is basically shrimp + garlic + butter.  Really effortless, and kind of impressive. Looky:

Shrimp Scampi with Green Onions and Orzo
Adapted from June 2009's Bon Appetit
4 servings my ass. It serves 2 generously.

1 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta. Faster than rice. Or make rice. Or any pasta you have in your pantry)
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, divided
2 (no, 3 or 4) garlic cloves, peeled
1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined (tail on is okay)
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp cut parsley (optional)
1/3 cup white wine (do not use, cheaper and actually tastier without it- I used 1/3 cup chicken stock, or you can skip this altogether)

Cook orzo (or rice, or other pasta) according to package directions
Melt 2 tbs butter in a skillet over medium heat, using a garlic press, squeeze garlic into the skillet, stir 10 seconds.
Add shrimp and saute 2 minutes. Add green onions and stir 1-2 minutes (until shrimp are  just opaque). Add wine or stock, if using, and toss until wine boils, about 1 minute. Mix in remaining butter, add parsley if using, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve mixed with pasta or orzo, or on top of rice. Resist the urge to lick the pan.

Now, the fact that I may have eaten two tablespoons of butter does make me uneasy, so I guess you can always replace some of the butter with olive oil, or eat a smaller serving and have a salad on the side. If you're sad about leaving out the white wine, you can have that on the side, too. Preferably in a glass, since otherwise it tends to run all over the table.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Aaaand, re-vamp.

Originally, this was supposed to be an actual blog. That didn't work and it sat around collecting internet dust for a year.
Then, it became a food blog, and that didn't work even worse because I was putting a modicum of effort into it with paltry results and even more paltry readership. Not that I blame anyone for that.
So now... it's a blog again. The title, which finally matches the URL, is taken from a gut reaction I once had to a guy I was talking to about quotations. I told him that I keep a notebook where I sometimes write down notable things people say, and he said that if he kept such a notebook himself, he would only write down the things he said in it. I wanted to stab him in the eye just then, but alas, its been years and last I heard he's still bi-ocular. But now I've got this nifty blog title! So yay?
The point to all of that is... that you shouldn't ever get that full of yourself. Except, of course, you should. Why the hell else would I be blogging this, if not for a desire of self-gratification that doesn't involve the massage setting on my showerhead?
So between looking for a job, learning how to cook better, and trying hard not to take baths with my toaster, I'll be writing stuff and things on here. What stuff and things? Oh, I don't know. Probably about what I cooked, or random dorkery that captures my interest, or how tempting bathtub toast was on a given day (either because the job front looks bleak, or because the plot of Bones is becoming intolerably contrived, who knows anymore?) But mostly, I want to write just to write, to flex my underdeveloped creative muscles, to be able to slip clever dirty jokes in under the radar, or to gripe about things that seem tedious to gripe about until you challenge yourself to do it amusingly. I don't know. I hope it's readable. Also, my camera is up and working, so expect food-related entries with sexy, glossy pictures.

I'm Soop. I enjoy long walks not on the beach (ew, sandy socks), anything having to do with food, and everything worth laughing about. If any of that is vague, that's sort of the point. xxxoo

Sunday, October 10, 2010

When not eating, reading.

I had an English professor once who had a way of punishing students who did not do the assigned readings in time. She didn't do it with a nasty surprise quiz or anything. She was more creative than that: she gave away the ending. 
"What?" she would say, in her New Zealand accent, "you didn't finish Twelfth Night? Well. I will tell you right now: everybody dies."
Of course, if you've read Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, you know that nobody dies, but this was her standard spoiler for everything we read.  That semester, it only turned out to be true for our last book, Frankenstein, and everyone thought it was pretty funny that it was finally true. So, for a few years now, her "everybody dies" mantra stuck with me, and whenever I read a book where this does happen, I remember it, and can't help but laugh, thus brightening a sad ending, if only a little.*

The problem, though, is when you get into nonfiction. Have you read Julia Child's My Life in France? No? Well, spoiler alert, everybody dies. Even Julia. 

Yes, I said even Julia. She died as the book was being written. Okay, at the age of 94. And, fine, most of the other deaths are mentioned in the epilogue as closing thoughts on her life and experiences in France. All told, I really enjoyed the book. But leave it to me to complain about a book that details the Childs' life in Europe, their marriage, the friendships they cultivate, and Julia's painstaking efforts with Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her television show, The French Chef. It was a wonderful journey to take, reading about her adventures. I couldn't put it down until it was done. And that, unfortunately, was 3am. Which for me is the magical hour during which, if I find myself awake, I ponder the unfairness of human mortality? I think? Anyway, for a book about food, I guess I was hoping for a dessert-like ending. "Everybody dies" does not pair well with an after-dinner cappuccino.

Now, I know I am complaining, but that doesn't mean I think it would be better without those details. To read My Life in France is to look over Julia's shoulder as she goes from a diplomat's unskilled housewife to a badass gumption-powered food expert and enthusiast who dedicated her life from age 36-on to learning all there is about the art of French cooking and teaching it to anyone who would listen. You see her beginning, her struggle, her development, as well as the importance of her support system, consisting mainly of her wonderful, tireless husband and friends. To know that all of these great, energetic people had come to an end was truly, deeply sad. And so, if by accident, this book is part autobiography and part a commentary on the human condition. So there.

Is there a lesson to be learned from all of this? Probably. Can I list the possibilities? Yes, but why should I? I'll just stick to the one lesson that can't possibly be a downer: Learn how to do something really well, and show somebody else.

Also, butterfat is delicious. Though we already knew that one, didn't we?

See you soon, hopefully with an actual recipe!

*Disclaimer: the most depressing book I read where everybody dies is Angela's Ashes, and I read it in high school, before I had a chance to find this trope funny. Plus, it's nonfiction. Plus, everyone dies in the middle, not at the end. I still hate whoever made that book mandatory summer reading for freshmen.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Strawberry cake!

This may or may not have been an accidental meal replacement for my boyfriend, probably a few times? It comes from Joy the Baker, and is so easy, and so strawberry flavored, and so pink, that I have filed the recipe away as something I will definitely make again and again.

The original recipe calls for three cake pans, but since I didn't have them, I found two heart shaped tins left behind by my boyfriend's mother (or possibly the secret cake baking fairy) and it worked out wonderfully. Joy also includes a great-looking frosting recipe, but I have a strange moral aversion to making frosting (but no aversion whatsoever of eating a store-bought can of it with a spoon) so I got a tub of Pillsbury cream cheese frosting, and just slathered it on top and between the layers, although I think camouflaging the cake in white only to find its pretty pink center is part of what makes it special. Not eating the leftover frosting took all of my willpower. It rests in my boyfriend's fridge until the next time. But not the cake.

The cake is gone.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cooking for the Jewish New Year (Brisket, Eggplant Caviar & Honey Cake)

Except for having no money and squirming uncomfortably when people ask me "what do you do?" being unemployed is actually not so bad. For one thing, I have a lot of time to feed my recipe-search obsession, and for another, it comes in handy on days like this Wednesday, which marked the beginning of the Jewish New Year at sundown. Everyone was at work... and I was left all alone to toy with cake batter and an almost-Flintstones sized cut of beef, among other things. I was asked to do this, implored, even, by the same people who eye me uncomfortably when I ask if its okay to make this or that 75% of the time). I got my lovely kitchen all to myself -one of my favorite things in the world- and my family got a holiday dinner without breaking a sweat. I have few opportunities like this, and if I had to trade this for a paycheck...I'd go for the paycheck, but I'd get a little sad about it. Just a little.
So this is the breakdown of the three actually homemade things on our table this Jewish new year. Of course, my camera charger is still missing, so there are no pictures, but the food was good. If I took pictures the next day, I'd only have scraps to photograph.

Brisket with Potatoes: Yields many servings. Count on 2+ days of leftovers for a family of 4

(This recipe comes from a combination of my mother's internet research and improvisation, and my playing it by ear when left alone to make it with only last year's memory as a guide)

one 5lb brisket
6 medium peeled russet potatoes (or however many more will fit in your roasting pan) quartered
3 celery stalks, cut into chunks
3 carrots, cut into chunks
1 medium onion, quartered
5 cloves of garlic, crushed (or use more, why not)
one 28oz can crushed tomatoes (choose a quality brand, since sour/salty tomatoes will affect the whole dish)
2-4 bay leaves (depending on your taste, and how old and flavorless your bay leaves may have become)
1/2 can of beer (feed other half to your brother so as not to waste beer, even if it is Budweiser)
1 tbsp sugar
olive oil

Trim most of the fat off the meat, rub with salt and pepper, and sear it in a pan on all sides. Spread some olive oil on the bottom of a roasting pan and place meat in the middle. Rub some crushed garlic cloves into the meat, leaving it covered in bits. Tuck a bay leaf under the meat, then spread vegetables around the meat, tucking bay leaves and remaining garlic among them. Salt & pepper the vegetables. Pour beer over the meat, then pour on the can of tomatoes. Add sugar (if the tomatoes seem to need it). Shake the pan to distribute the juices. Mmm juices. Cover with foil.
Bake at 375 for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. I uncovered it with 45 minutes remaining to let some of the liquid cook down.

Eggplant Caviar (Peasant Caviar): Yields about 2 1/2cups
This is a family recipe; eggplant caviar is practically a Russian staple. It is called "caviar" because the eggplant and tomato seeds sort of resemble fish eggs) It tastes great as a spread on bread, latkes (no recipe for those here, I made mine from a box this year), the brisket, or more or less anything that's for dinner. I like it with a spoon, but that's just me. I think it tastes best when everything is minced by hand, but a food processor makes it so much easier.
1 large eggplant (2/3rds the size of a newborn child is ideal)
2 medium tomatoes, cored, cut into chunks
1/2 orange or yellow bell pepper
1 small onion, cut into chunks
1 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
salt & pepper

Roast eggplant until it looks defeated by life (about 40 minutes at 350 degrees, or microwave it at 2 minute intervals until it is soft and sags slightly), allow to cool
Place bell pepper in a skillet on med-high heat and leave until skin chars, about 7 minutes; let cool and remove skin
Pulse tomatoes and bell pepper in food processor until slightly chunky, pour into nonreactive dish
Pulse onion until slightly chunky, add to tomatoes
Separate and discard eggplant skin, pulse eggplant until slightly chunky, add to tomatoes and onion
Add oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to the vegetables, stir, and adjust seasoning to taste. Should be mildly vinegary, a little bit sweet and not too salty. Cover bowl and refrigerate until time to serve. The flavors will develop a little bit more.

Honey-Orange Cake: Yields one 9x13" pan, or 24 medium cupcakes
Our honey cake used to come from my great-aunt, who made batches of traditional foods for the family, but she has toned down her cooking in recent years; I was afraid that anything I made to replace her cake would be off the mark. This comes from and the end result is lighter than my great aunt's, has very little of the bitter honey flavor, and smells like flowers. I would make it all the time. Maybe in cupcake form, with cream cheese frosting. Success :) 
1 cup white sugar
1 cup honey (a dark, strong-flavored honey is great. I used Buckwheat and liked it a lot)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 cup orange juice
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (had to leave this out since some people around here don't like cinnamon)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, oil, honey, eggs and orange zest. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the orange juice, mixing just until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool. 
    (Note: I made 12 cupcakes and one cake pan from the above batter recipe. The cupcakes took about 25 minutes.)
  So there you have it. Just add latkes, gefilte fish and the moonshine white-wine stuff my mother made (which, appropriately, tastes like Maneschewitz, and is an entirely different story altogether), and you've got Rosh Hashannah dinner at my house. Hooray.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Almost Autumn!

Temperatures are dropping a little, and not a moment too soon, since my air conditioner suddenly stopped working a couple of weeks ago. I missed it, terribly, for two very uncomfortable days, but now with the windows open, it's actually chilly- and I am excited. I am not somebody who mourns putting away her flip-flops. I don't get sad when someone comes to the realization that "summer's almost over".  I love fall. It's got all the best stuff packed into it: crunchy leaves, crisp apples, leather boots, my birthday, and being able to turn on the oven and make delicious things in it. Like for the upcoming Jewish holidays, or Thanksgiving, or just because it's windy outside and you felt like roasting something. Or making pie.

Autumn is pie season :)
September also marks the end of a month-long root canal procedure, and I will be thrilled to put my repaired teeth to good use. So I hope to be posting warm, cozy recipes very soon. And while I'm at it, I have some neon-green soup to show you a picture of... as soon as I get hold of a camera.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

no-ice-cream-maker raspberry sorbet

I like to find ways of jimmy-rigging my way around expertly specified instructions. Why use a hammer and nails when there's duct tape aplenty? Oh. Well. Now that I think about it, I may have gotten this attitude from my father. He's a man who never takes a direct route- because that's what builds character. Living in constant frustration, I mean, builds character. Personally, though, I'd like to think that my "alternative" solutions are ingenious, and save either time or money. I imagine my father also thinks the same thing... but I'm trying to avoid this vortex of introspection I'm starting to open up over here. Anyway! This recipe costs me very little to make, in terms of money, because I do it with inexpensive ingredients and no fancy ice-cream maker. The lack of an ice cream maker, however, makes it somewhat time-intensive, so I recommend making it if you'll be home for most of the day. You know, hiding from that big yellow thing in the sky, wishing you had something cold and delicious in the freezer...

I get my raspberries for free because they grow in my backyard. This is the only reason I can allow myself to take such a huge quantity of them and not shove them directly into my mouth. Not that you should be jealous, since I'm the one who picks them (I'm less delicious to mosquitoes than my mother, so I get the brave the wild), raspberry bushes have many tiny thorns all over them, and while I am not too attractive to insects, I'm not entirely unattractive either.
The raspberries are ripening quickly, and we've got so many that I'm sure there'll be more than one blog entry about raspberry-themed dishes. This one in particular came from the fact that we still have frozen raspberries from last year to deal with, and I figured the best thing to do with frozen berries is keep them frozen in a sorbet. This is one of the earliest recipes I've ever made and it is easy, tasty as all hell, and probably somewhat nutritious. I think. I've been using this recipe for years, and originally got it from an old Cosmo Girl at the library, they credit the recipe to the Ciao Bella Gelato Company. You'll need simple syrup. To make it, combine 2 cups water with 2 cups sugar, bring to a boil, turn down the heat and stir frequently for about 5 minutes before taking it off the heat. Yields 3 cups, and now you, too, will get annoyed when you see pretty glass bottles of it in Trader Joe's. It's a ripoff, people, since it's cheap-as-free in your own home.
Raspberry Sorbet, makes 6 servings:
3 cups simple syrup
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
5 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cup water
1. Combine all of the ingredients and blend until smooth (might need to do this in two batches)
2. Remove seeds by pouring through a strainer or fine mesh sieve. I mix it in the sieve with a wooden spoon so it strains faster
3. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours, pour into ice cream maker and follow machine directions*

*If you don't have an ice cream maker, which I don't, pour the mixture into a wide, flat container. Freeze until slushy, stirring it up every 15-30 minutes with a fork so you don't get a 12x12 ice cube (happened once; risking frostbite on your fingers isn't worth it, even for tasty sorbet). When slushy throughout, transfer to a plastic container and allow it to freeze. Enjoy!
(** I wonder whether you can just freeze the mixture in ice cube trays, turn it into slush with your blender, and then freeze it in a container. Try it and tell me. I don't have ice cube trays! Alternatively, freeze it in large freezer bags, laying flat, so its easy to crack into pieces. After cracking, blend in a blender or food processor, and spoon it into a container to allow it to freeze. Jimmy-rigging really works! And you don't have to babysit this one all day.)

Mango Sorbet, makes 6 servings: (This is on the same page as the raspberry sorbet recipe. I've never made this because mangoes go very quickly around here, but I want to)
4 medium-sized mangoes, washed
2 cups simple syrup
3 tbsp lime juice
1 cup water

Directions: peel mangoes, scoop and cut out the flesh, combine all ingredients and puree in a blender, follow directions as above.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cold soup for hot days

I like cold soups in the summer because they combine the complete-mealness of a hot soup, with the don't-use-the-stoveness you desire on these 95-degrees-in-the-shade days. This particular soup is a semi-original invention that was spawned when I saw recipes for yogurt-based soups and tried to find a way to make them without actually using yogurt. I'm not a yogurt eater, with the exception of the frozen, Pinkberry variety. I know, yogurt is great; it's full of healthy bacteria and bone-building calcium, and I'm even told it tastes good, though that last part is highly dubious. But you know what else has all those health benefits without the yogurt taste? Buttermilk. Okay, I know, when you think of buttermilk, what comes to mind is that thing you add to pancake and cake batters, and not a soup base. But try it. This soup will taste suspiciously like tzatziki sauce, and I have been reading up on Wikipedia, and apparently, some cultures do make a chilled soup with similar ingredients, including buttermilk. (Of course, those cultures also have a history of this and this, but that's not to discount their soup expertise)
Friends, I assure you, on balls-hot days, it is air conditioning in a bowl.

I included dill and parsley as the herbs, but I'm sure it would taste great with cilantro, mint, or even arugula leaves sliced into thin ribbons. I did not add lemon juice, since the buttermilk is already tart, but that's another option.

1 quart buttermilk
5 cucumbers (give or take) cut into small cubes, seeded if desired
2-3 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
2 tbsps sour cream
1 tbsp mayonnaise
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp fresh dill
cayenne pepper to taste
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

For Garnish (optional)
sliced or crumbled hard boiled eggs
thinly sliced or cubed radish
scallion slices

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive container, cover and chill for several hours to let the flavor develop. Taste just before serving, and adjust seasoning as needed. Top with garnish of choice. Serves... lets say 6-8? Depending on bowl size? Okay. 6-8.
Note: if when you first combine the ingredients, they seem a little thick, dilute with a little water at a time until it's at the desired consistency.

 (I'm not a good photographer, but you can tell by the jaunty placement of that napkin that I'm trying my darnedest)

Enjoy! Next time I'll have a dessert.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In which mysterious dental woes may affect diet! (Also, a leftover-chicken-meat idea.) (Also, this isn't a food-only blog! Books, baby!)


I was trying to find the least appetizing picture of mashed potatoes on the internet, so as to better communicate the possibility of my need to eat them, and only them, in the near future. Turns out, the worst you can find is a slightly awkward picture of mashed potatoes (see above) because they look and taste good almost no matter what. But the reason I wanted this photographic representation of squishy, unappetizing foods is that I went to the dentist complaining about a shooting pain in one tooth when I chew; the doctor drilled and filled and said that if that doesn't make it better, he'll have to try something else. Well, long story short, it still hurts, which means I may be due for some exotic dental work in the near future.

Worry not- in anticipation of this, I did two very responsible things. 1. Located the oxycodone-based painkillers in the medicine cabinet (so much cheaper than filling a prescription, and more effective than wuss-strength Rite-Aid brand acetaminophen! Plus, if I don't develop an addiction, I get to rub it in Rush Limbaugh's face) aaaand 2. I bought a cheap ice pop mold! Yay! So stay tuned for some potentially colorful stay-cool summer recipes that call for 2 cups yogurt, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup diced strawberries and 800mg Percocet.*
Hopefully, the dental thing will work out quickly, though. I'd really love to be able to chew on both sides of my mouth again soon. Until then, there are lots of delicious, tooth-friendly things I can make (and blog about). Gee, I hope you like eggplant. In every form imaginable.

Enough griping, though. I promised a leftover-chicken-meat idea, and here it is. Bear with the shaky sales pitch, please. I was channeling my inner Sham-Wow Guy...

CHIKIN: You know when you make too much chicken, and you thought leftovers were a good idea, but by the third day you'd rather chew drywall? Or when you buy a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket, compliment yourself on your savvy dinner solution, and then end up confronted by the half-eaten carcass every time you open the fridge? Here's what we do, and it's not bad at all: 

1. Pull chicken off the bones, if there are any, and mince it with a knife, or pulse it in a food processor
2. Dice up an onion (depending on how much chicken there is, you want about 1/4 amount of onion per amount of chicken, depending on how much you like onion) and saute in a frying pan in a generous amount of oil until golden brown.
3. Throw in the minced chicken and give it a good stir, to mix the onions and let it absorb all the tasty onion-y oil. Taste, and adjust seasonings as you see fit
4. Toss with some kind of short pasta. I like tri-color rotini because it traps the meat in its folds and looks pretty.
Behold! Cheap, easy and very delicious comfort food. I made some today and threw a little shredded cheddar into it. I suppose I could have put the meat into puff pastry, or fried it in wonton wrappers and made something a little more impressive, but there'll always be leftover chicken to experiment with, so what's the hurry?

The nice thing about visiting the dentist, though, is the rummaging I got to do at the Salvation Army store not far from his office. I've recently taken a liking to Housing Works thrift stores, but this SA location is the only thrift store near me. ANYWAY- the thing about Housing Works is that, probably because of its locations in Manhattan, it gets raided by the hip, and all the good stuff goes fast. This Salvation Army store is in a working-class/immigrant neighborhood, and  is inconveniently open during normal working hours, so most people go for the clothing and housewares, and a lot of the books and CD's probably sit on the shelves for a long time before anyone who would be interested spots them.***  Anyone with a face full of Novacaine and a sense of adventure, that is. AND- it was "family day" so most items were half off. Hurray!
So here's what I bought, and will review:

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Nifffenegger (although it never bodes well when fairly recent books end up in a thrift store... which makes me wonder why the shelves weren't filled with more copies of Twilight), Fiction Writer's Handbook (preface by Norman Mailer, Epilogue by J.D. Salinger, and I may even read the stuff in the middle), Q's Legacy by Helene Hanff (because the cover looked appealing, although this book-choosing strategy has lead to a fair amount of disappointment), Cervantes' Don Quixote, Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans: The Best of McSweeny's Humor Category (intro by Dave Eggers), Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquirel, The God of Small Things by Arundathi Roy, I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Giulia Melucci, and, finally, a copy of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, which, as it turns out, will be a duplicate at my house, because my brother already owns a copy. oops. At least it only cost me 49 cents. OMG, I know!

"See Deez"- The Rentals, two CDs- "Seven More Minutes" and "Return of The Rentals" (I listened to the latter and remembered that, actually, I don't like The Rentals that much. I think I grabbed the CDs out of sheer surprise of seeing them) Reel Big Fish's "Keep your reciept"(- just listened to that, too. I liked it, and was sad to see that it's only a 5-track sampler.) Gin Blossom's "New misterable experience" (yes, it's the one with "hey jealousy" on it. I like that kind of thing, okay?), and finally, my coup de grace, Stroke 9's "Nasty Little Thoughts" which I had uploaded on my old computer, before it died, and I'm very happy to have replaced it. So maybe my taste in music is sometimes questionable. At least I didn't buy the Smashmouth CD out of a misplaced sense of nostalgia, right?
Anyway, that's my to-do list for the summer. Read all of those books. Write a little about it. Find gainful employment

(My camera battery died and I asked my brother to take some "food porn pictures" for my blog. He did, though not in the way I had in mind. He says we have different definitions of "food porn".)

* directions: combine all ingredients in blender, add more sugar if desired, pour into ice pop molds, freeze & enjoy.**
**Don't really do this. I didn't try this recipe out, and I suspect in needs lemon juice.
***That's not to say that the working class and immigrants don't read, it's just that here, you're not cheek and jowl with 60 year old men in tweed jackets with liberal arts degrees in obscure fields of historical and literary study, who have time to read and money to buy full-price books, let alone the discounted ones. See: Upper West Side used bookstores. But if I've offended not one but two social strata, whoopty-doo to me.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Your-Best-Friend-Is-Leaving Seafood Paella

I'm not too sure how it happened, but my best friend, who is driving to Kansas in a van filled with two cats and other, less furry belongings as I write this, bribed me into posting this as my first recipe. I think the way she did it was she said she'd help me make it, take pictures, and eat it. A clever ruse.

So, because she's on the road to new and exciting things right this minute, I thought it would be appropriate to post the recipe. Originally, I found it on the internet, but I made enough adjustments (9 1/2 cups of liquid for 3 cups of rice??) to not feel like taking credit for it would be copyright infringement. I added peas, increased the paprika,and added scallops and found out that you can make "fish stock" by combining one quantity of clam juice with one quantity of vegetable stock. This is great to know, because while I felt brave a few weeks ago and froze some fish heads for stock making, the idea of boiling fish remnants is soooo unappealing to me. This clam juice and veggie broth solution greatly reduces the ick factor. And so-- here you are, surprisingly easy, pescatarian friendly, and all-around tasty Seafood Paella:

1 large pan
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lb uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined (or not peeled because there is flavor in the shells)
1/2 lb clams, well scrubbed
1/2 lb baby scallops
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups rice
8 oz bottle of clam juice
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 tsp saffron
2 tsp Spanish paprika
1 cups red bell pepper, in smallish dice
3/4 cup frozen peas, frozen
salt & pepper, to taste
lemon wedges, for serving

1. Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion and red pepper, cook until onion begins to soften. Add garlic, cook 5 more minutes.
2. Add rice to the pan, cook stirring constantly, until rice is translucent, about 5 minutes.
3. Mix in the seafood, peas, seasonings and clam juice and broth. Cover and cook for 25 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.
4. Taste, adjust seasonings as necessary, and let stand, covered, for about 5 minutes before serving. Serve with lemon wedges.
Makes 6 servings. They will go quickly.

Note: If you see that some of your clams have not opened, throw those out.

And good news! I just took my "after" pictures of a thing I made, so I'm good for at least one more entry!

Monday, June 28, 2010

What (little) I know about cooking

I've had this blog for a year now, and its high time I wrote an entry already.
I should probably start off by admitting that I am mostly a crotchety misanthrope. Seriously, I look forward to being old because then I will get to shake my cane at yung'uns and it will be socially acceptable behavior. There's little I find exciting, pop culture is alienating, and beer pong makes me positively murderous. The few exceptions to this general streak, though, are food, books,and sometimes mind-numbingly stupid television shows. (Also, baby ocelots yeeee look at their little faces! Oh my god how is it legal for them to look like that? I want one so much!)

Anyway, in keeping with the title of the entry, and tying that to the stuff I just wrote, I will say that somehow, at some point, I realized that I really enjoy am probably obsessed with all things food related. I love reading recipes; I have a pile of cookbooks under my bed, a subscription to Bon Appetit and envelopes full of clipped recipes from food packaging. Strange? What? Well, who asked you?

So now I have a blog.
It'll be a decent one, I think. On it, I'll post stuff I've made successfully, which will mostly be inexpensive and family-friendly, (because, let's face it, I'm presently inches from broke and live at home,) stuff I've screwed up (The Culinary Cautionary Tale ftw), and food related webthings that I love.
... And on that topic, check out Deb, the kitchen goddess Megan, burgeoning kitchen goddess, and  Manjula, my new Indian food guru grandma. All very delightful for their own reasons :)
What you will not find in this blog: Things that are super challenging, elaborate baked goods, breads, things with expensive ingredients, things that require that I make mashed potatoes and turn them into something else (why do that? They're mashed. Let's eat.) and men who look like heavy metal gnomes, because that freaks me out.

My skills of a chef are pretty basic, and I want to improve that. Watch me try and do it. That's what the Nomcon is for.