Thursday, November 6, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I have been back countless times, for lunch mostly, on bad days, rainy days, and even my birthday. I have had a range of experiences, none altogether disappointing, and would recommend to anyone to try out their lunch and DEFINITELY try the yum yum sauce (seafood sauce).
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Poverty stinks - that's the long and short of it. Millions of people world wide go to bed hungry (if they even have a bed at all) and they struggle to meet even their most basic survival needs. The majority of the world's wealth is held in the hands of the minority and that isn't fair. I don't believe that anyone should have to beg for food or shelter, and all people should be given equal opportunities to thrive. That being said, it's difficult for me as one person to feel as though I can make a difference in any quantifiable, sustainable way. Often, I find the issue overwhelming - I know that it's out there and I know that it's terrible, but I feel ill-equipped to make a change and therefore am crippled by my own sense of helplessness.
I combat this incessant negativity by doing something...anything. I realize that just like the saying "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" so too does the journey to end poverty. I cannot erase poverty, and I cannot make the world fair, but I can make life different for just one person today...and so I try to do just that.
When I can afford it (as a social worker that isn't as often as I'd like, but meh) I buy an extra $5-$10 worth of groceries at the store and donate them to the local food bank. Furthermore, I make a point to research the policies of the companies that I do business with to ensure that I am supporting economically just businesses. And I also donate my time to various agencies in the community aimed at ending poverty and improving the quality of life for all. More than anything, however, I honor my own contributions - however small they may be. My contributions don't have to be your contributions, as long as we all do what we can.
Don't get caught up in the trap that leads you to believe that incremental change isn't worthwhile, because that just isn't true. All change is meaningful, and any change makes a difference to those who need it most. So get out there (or stay in there) and do what's within your power. Use your own skills and passions and make a change for someone else.
Remember: each day is a new day and a new opportunity to help someone.
What will you do today?
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
I pledge to myself to take better care of me. I deserve at least an equal amount of time and energy that I’m willing to give to others, and by taking better care, I will ultimately have more to give.
I pledge to myself to be supportive when and if I can. This means no late night sabotage - rummaging through candy drawers to get that fix, and maybe even *gasp* suggesting that we go for a walk once in a while…or more likely suggesting a Wii sports tennis match!
Finally (and most importantly),
I pledge to myself to “keep it real”. I am who I am, and I need to learn to be okay with that. Everyone might not love my particular stripes, and that’s okay, but some people do, and I should too!
Here’s hoping that by sharing my pledge with all of you, I will do my best to honor these words. I know that with willful and intentional living, I will be a better person, friend, and (someday) mother.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
There is nothing I loathe more than being inundated with hundreds of surveys featuring how daring, how sexually mature, or how musically snobbish my "friends" on various social networking sites are. I have absolutely no interest in comparing my sex life, drug history, or any other weird fetishes with these "friends" and can rarely read past the first few lines without completely losing interest. That's why this post proves several important things that are critical to your understanding of me. First, I am fickle – today's greatest thing could be tomorrow's lamest and I'm not afraid to admit that I rarely stay attached to likes/dislikes for long (it's just takes too much energy on my part). Second, I am (kind of) a hypocrite. Despite the fact that I would handily berate any associate for daring to make a post of "have-you-evers", I clearly am willing to commit the same atrocity on the same level, yet somehow expect a completely different result. Finally (and most importantly), you can combine food with virtually ANYTHING and I will embrace it. I bet, if they gave free samples at the Secretary of State – I would line up two or three times a week. If you told me that I had to listen to babies cry for twenty hours straight but afterwards I could have a free pizza – I would so do it. That's pathetic, and I am poignantly aware of my sad, sad standards.
That being said, here is my first attempt to participate in an Internet meme (or random chain floating from blog to blog). I found this list linked to a Slashfood post and decided to read it. Because I hadn't hear of many of these items and wanted to try a lot of them, I figured I would let my readers know where I stand on issues of culinary delicacies. Please note that bolded items are items I've already tried and crossed out items are things I would never consider trying.
Some quick observations: my bolding clearly tells a lot about me – I am a Midwesterner (venison, hare, roadkill [long story]), I am a fast food junkie (big mac, kripsy kreme), and I am a lightweight gourmet (calamari, eel, frog's legs).
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
10. Baba ghanoush
13. PB&J sandwhich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
44. Goat's milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
47. Chicken tikka masala
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
55. McDonald's Big Mac Meal
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
60. Carob chips
66. Frogs' legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
79. Lapsang souchong
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
90. Criollo chocolate
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
Now tell me, which of these have you eaten and loved or hated, what's missing from this list, and in the name of all that's holy...
Where are the TACOS??
Friday, August 22, 2008
Perhaps the most used meat in my household (much to the bane of my cardiovascular system I'm sure), Bacon provides a versatile alternative to more expensive meats that I would normally use in Pastas, Soups, or on Sandwiches. The plus side is, I save money and eat more bacon. The bad side is - wait, is there a bad side??? My fervent love of Bacon aside, I thought I would share with you some of the more inspired ways I have used Bacon in my cooking to enhance the flavor and/or texture of my meal.
Fried Rice, on the other hand, is a staple in my home. This is our typical fallback meal when no one wants to go to a great length for cooking, but we still want to eat something satisfying and savory. In our household, fried rice can be most of the different things you have in your fridge, but some ingredients are key: rice (obviously), eggs, bacon, and sweet onions (fried in Bacon grease). We often have this most basic of all fried rices, however, it's nice to add green onions, carrots, water chestnuts, and those adorable baby carrots if you have them on hand. Fried rice is a very faux-Chinese dish because it's mostly comprised of very American things (like bacon). The only thing even remotely Chinese about this dish is the soy sauce you add on top and the rice. But mmmm....bacon....
(Photo not taken by me)
Finally, I would like to give Kudos to comedian Jim Gaffigan who inspired this post by his monologue on Bacon from the Late Show with David Letterman embedded below. After watching this clip I realized that if he can go on national television and profess his undying love for bacon, I can certainly do the same...on the Internet...on my blog...which no one reads :).
Regardless, enjoy the clip!!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Trials and tribulations abound that afternoon, I attempted to brown the roast in the slow cooker pan on someone else’s Bunsen burner, I spent half an hour desperately searching for a masher for the potatoes and finally settled on a pencil jar, and I ended up trolling the dorm hall for supplies after I realized I had nothing to serve my feast in nor did I have any utensils; but it was all worth it when I came back to my dorm that afternoon and realized I could smell my dinner. It was the smell of celebration, the savory smell of victory.
Although I can’t remember what that roast tasted like, I do remember serving it to all of my friends and each of us sitting around my bed, listening to music, and I can remember how the whole room got silent right as we started to eat. As I looked around the bedspread at my newest and dearest friends, I saw more than one eye tearing up in the room. Finally, one of my friends uttered in a quiet voice what all of us were thinking, “it tastes like home".
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
Monday, May 5, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
To honoring the past, shaping a better future, and embracing every opportunity to make new memories today.
Monday, April 21, 2008
This shirt, for example, is absolutely adorable.
Or this plastic serrated chef's knife (safe for all non-stick surfaces) that would be stylish and functional!
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Flash forward to present day. Based on the empirical evidence provided by a glossy photo in a cooking magazine, I had decided that cheesecake was my new best friend and I; ever the cheesecake evader would now claim this territory as my own and embrace the silky deliciousness that is our diary dessert. Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but I think you can see where I’m going here. Five hours, a nap, and a large dinner later, I had lost all enthusiasm for “operation cheesecake” however I had already bought all the ingredients and my helpers were geared to go, so we forged ahead – enthusiasm be dammed!
The first step in a cheesecake is to make the crust. In the recipe I chose, this meant go to the store, buy a bag of Oreos, and smash them up…or something along those lines – I get blurry on the details. Essentially:
The directions did not, however, indicate how I was supposed to soften the cream cheese, and for the novice cheesecake maker that I was – that would have been a really handy set of instructions. I left the cheese out on the oven for twenty minutes or so but then I got impatient and decided to start the filling with slightly hard cream cheese against the better judgment of the recipe (and my helpers). I put the cream cheese into my bowl and tried to beat it until it was soft. Note to self: this is not an expedient way to soften cheese, in fact, it might have been faster if I simply leaned down and cupped my hands against the cheese and let out short gusts of hot air from my diaphragm “huh, huh”. Not only did softening the cheese with my hand mixer take forever, it also didn’t work really effectively and resulted in lots of tiny cheese curds in my filling. Then the recipe instructed me to add one egg at a time. I am unsure if it really matters whether I add one egg at a time or all eggs simultaneously, but the raging success of my earlier recipe modification, I decided to just do what they told me to. After adding each egg, my batter was…well…unappetizing.
But I wasn’t worried – I forged ahead, added my melted chocolate to the batter (note the white filling along the sides of the bowl – I probably should have tried harder to scrape the sides)
and poured the filling into the pan – how beautiful is that (minus the cheese curds)?
Now usually when I shout “who wants a piece of this?” it is followed with an uncomfortable silence and clearing of throats. In this case, however, everyone was excited to sample my cheesecake masterpiece
How was it? It was magical, amazing, earth shattering – it was really damn good! I was won over into the cult of cheesecake consumption and ready to give my soul for another piece. As I finished my chocolaty slice of heaven a single thought entered my mind that really summarized my feelings on this entire cheesecake escapade. Now THAT is a cheesecake worth waiting in line for!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Sometimes great food is intentional; it is a planned and precise process with careful steps and exact measurements. In my experience, however, the best food is stumbled upon by accident. Perhaps it’s the omission of an ingredient either in error or out of necessity, or perhaps it’s the modification of instructions to fit my own tools, kitchen, or lifestyle, or maybe it’s just sheer luck under which I stumble upon some of my greatest culinary successes. Either way I can resolutely declare that for me, it is not intentional. But when it happens….oh when it happens it’s as though the culinary gods have poked their heads down through the clouds of mashed potatoes and whipped cream with their hot chocolate mustaches and smiled down at me for just one second.
Of course, reality always follows these moments of fancy (whipped cream would make terrible clouds!) and I realize that it is a combination of success and failure that help us to become great cooks. Without failure, I would never learn that when a recipe says “sit over night” it damn well means it! Without success, however, I would’ve given up after my hundredth broken yolk and never learned how to properly fry an egg. As with all pastimes, cooking must be rewarding or it will never become a passion and it must be daunting or it will never push you to succeed.
Why cook? I could say that it is because I love the challenge, because everyone needs to eat, or because I am a glutton for punishment. The truth is, however, that yearn for those moments of transcendental consumption, the moments that resolve existential crisis and connect me to the universe, the moments that tell me who I am, where I belong, and whether or not my dish needs more salt.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Okay, perhaps it doesn’t say all of that, but it does communicate a certain priority set that not all who consume food adopt. For me, food is first priority. From the time I get up in the morning until the time I go to bed at night I’m thinking about food, I’m imagining food that I could make or eat, and I’m looking up food on the internet (while I should be working). If I spent even half the time invested in my career as I do in what I eat for dinner, I would probably be a CEO at a Fortune 500 company by now – or at least I’d still be a size ten.
Size doesn't matter, though, because I’m dedicated to my craft and pursue it with the single-mindedness that only a true addict can have. In my lifetime, I have consumed well over ten thousand tacos, but the satisfying crunch of the shell between my teeth and the savory taste of melted cheese on my tongue is a habit I just can't seem to kick. It's so bad that I sometimes catch myself equating the value of things in tacos. "Sure, I could buy that video game, but that's like forty tacos!" Surely this train of thought is a sign that I have a deep-seated addiction and need serious psychological intervention, but I can't bring myself to care enough to change. The fact is, my relationship with food is as complicated as any relationship I could have with a boyfriend and (I suspect) infinitely more gratifying.