Monday, December 27, 2010

Heavy Metal Thunder (Snow)

Snow Day! Thunder Snow! What an amazing storm we had. One of the worst on record, of course. Again with the nutty weather. Yeah, snow is common in winter. But this was a blizzard. The high winds surpassing 36mph, and the drifting and amount of snow make it so. Thirty one inches in Elizabeth New Jersey which is in a state of emergency. With each freaky storm this year there is that added little something, which this time was thunder and lightning and the category 2 hurricane like winds. And when that thunder and lightning hit it was too freaky. Temperatures were in the 20s and then you have flashes that light up the apartment and grumbling thunder. That's not something I ever remember happening. Lee Goldberg also mentioned it, called it Thunder Snow, as did Janet Huff, as if it was something common. This just feeds into my conspiracy weather theory.

My retail mothership closed today at 1pm, even surprised they opened at all since every news station was urging folks to stay home and no buses were running. Subways were breaking down all day and the only folks that showed up lived in the neighborhood. And the Red Hook neighborhood is probably the last one on the list to be plowed. Just another way to not pay us I'm sure, the bastuhds.

But the best news is that I am stuck at home with a whole fridge full of leftovers both sweet and savory!!! I can hardly sit for 10minutes without making myself a little nibbling plate. Its like Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Devil Went Down to Fulton

I quietly made a nice big pot of split pea soup the other night. It was delicious and I didn't even need to make the cheese croutons that was the real motivation for making the soup. These classics are always satisfying and perfect. One thick slice of ham was enough to fill every bite with a good chunk of ham. I quick fried it first to get a little crisp on the outside edges and bleed a little of the salt water out of it too.

I was feeling pretty high strung the night before and by the time I got off work I was panting and having to stop to catch my breath. I got inside just before turning practically full on werewolf. Poor P caught the wrath of my wackiness.

Turned out to be not only a major full moon (see Bad Moon Rising)but a lunar eclipse and Winter Solstice. That triple threat turned me into a demon and I am grateful to have come out of it without committing any major crimes.

I took a double dose of extree strong chamomile tea with a little Valerian root powder that night just to get my claws to retract.

Soup broth made with nutrient rich vegetables is the perfect medicine for those times when the devil gets loose in my body and mind and starts running the show.

So go and tell THAT on the Mountain!

It is Christmas day, finally. What a wonderful day, from beginning to end. Being the food monkey, I plan the day out in food offerings. Food is my way of sharing, of giving a gift from my heart, of showing love. I started with various baked treats, some from the Farmer's Market in Union Square and also my homemade Raspberry Cheesecake Swirl Brownies with walnuts and coffee. hay hay!
Then we had a little whipped cream cheese and chive over a toasted everything NY bagel. Naturally.

I stuffed and massaged the bird with butter and herbs until it felt a little inappropriate. I am slow roasting this year, mainly because my oven's temperature is not regulated. To combat a dry outcome, I'm basting and also put a big slab of fatback on top of the skin (Oh yeah!) as well as slathering the inner skin with herbed butter.

For snacks, I'm making my Whacky Quacky with charred chorizo bits & black beans with Baked Tostitos Scoops. Along with that I have Chili Cornmeal Fries with a sour cream dipping sauce. I had a near fail with these at a party years ago, so I'm hoping I can do it up right this year.

I'm a big fan of finger food.

My main menu:

Roast Turkey w/Cornbread sausage stuffing
Giblet Gravy
Smashed Roasted Garlic Potatoes
Serrano Ham Corn Pudding

I decided to skip the bread element since I usually burn the biscuits anyway. Maybe it will allow us to eat more.

I am already feeling like we need more sides. I skipped Sweet Potatoes. I skipped the Green Bean Casserole. I skipped the cranberries. Did I blow it?

OR did I get just the right blend of richness, flavor and specialness to where its not overwhelmingly filling but best to taste every bite. Um, okay, BEST tenderest turkey so far and the word succulent comes to mind. Yep...succulent.

Friday, December 24, 2010

All I Want For Christmas is You (to not be an asshole!)

Jane Fonda was on Oprah yesterday and she said she is no longer living her life to be successful, financially speaking (easy to say when you're disgustingly rich) but now she's trying to be her best person. I immediately thought: You want to be a better person? Then move to New York. If you can consistently stay a nice person here, I believe you could move up the food chain in any God's eyes. This place could suck the cute off of baby Obama. Awwww, baby Obama!

It's Christmas Eve but don't expect to find any ounce of spirit around this town. I worked today, all expecting to have a good experience, maybe even get a little tired of the niceties flowing so heavily. I thought everyone would surely be in good spirits today, the coworkers, the customers. Most people have a little soft place in their hearts for the poor retail geeks that have to schlep in for the holiday shift.

Uh, WRONG! We had the hatin'est group of customers today. I had to actually pass off a horrible, HORRible woman to another coworker because she was so evil that I couldn't even complete the transaction. She was quickly draining my last ounce. I tried at first to diffuse her by saying 'Ma'am, I'm just trying to help you honestly, I have no dog in this fight'. Usually a bit of honesty will pull them back. That old rotten hen was not budging. That is bad because I was in a really good mood riding in 30 degree weather with a bag of holiday cream cheese brownie treats in my bag, loving life and thinking of what the holiday really means. It was all workin' for me.

These bastuhds that have no love in their heart and wanna come out on the holidays to shop to fill the abyss that is their soul cavity. Haa haa, no I'm just kidding. Seriously, I have nothing against atheists. Some of my favorite people are atheists. And just because you don't believe in a God doesn't mean you're up for treating people like crap. There are moral social codes that most people abide by. No, this isn't about atheists. But it is too bad they're all going straight to hell. Haa haa! Just kidding again, seriously. That's not even funny.
No, these are just downright mean dildos that need love and maybe that wouldn't even change a thing. Nature does make mistakes. Look at the platypus. Tell me that poor thing was God's best work.

Like I said, I have holiday spirit but I didn't want to have to test my spiritual constitution by seeing just how much crap I would take from an asshole before I'd fall right down to their level. And it doesn't take much with me, believe me. I'm still evolving....slowly.

Even if I would have went into work shining as bright as the friggin' North Star, I barely would have come home with an ember burning. Matter of fact some dip shit cut me off and I almost slammed into his SUV a block from my apartment so I ended my journey today flashing the bird, big and high. So much for my christian stamina.

Thank goodness most of the oncoming celebration will require little outside travel. If I can keep from fighting with P and the cats, I should be able to feel the true meaning of Christmas.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Breakdown it's Alright

It feels like almost everything I own or rent is breaking. My computer is dying, that's a big one because it changes your life. My reading glasses broke, I actually stepped on them outside. My bike is feeling like any minute the frame might break in two. Maybe its just rickety from sitting outside in the rain and snow. Every other year I was able to bring it indoors overnight. And I need new breaks. The temple fell off my sunglasses and now they're no good to me. The closet door fell off its hinge again. Maybe its not everything, maybe its just a few dozen things. However, I don't own much more than that. My belt is also breaking. The leather is torn and will eventually rip right in half. My watch band broke then two days later the clock stopped working. These things weigh on a person. I feel like its overwhelming for my small brain to handle all these setbacks.

They get you to thinking about the game of life and if they really started tallying up the scores, I'd be on the losing end. I don't want to be a loser.

I bought a whole gallon of milk from PathMark that was expired a week before I purchased it but I didn't notice. Grocery fail. Poor P came home from a late night session and drank a huge glass of the chunky fermented lactose. Poor thing. Then we watched a few episodes of Man Vs. Food on Netflix, which is so good but probably not the thing to watch when you have rot gut. Good thing P's blood alcohol level is usually set high enough to kill off any foreign bacteria.

Saturday brunch is for celebrating life though and concentrating on what we have, not what we have not. I had noticed I'd seen a few people making brussel sprouts a new way on the tee vee, so I thought I'd give 'em a whirl. They peeled the outer leaves off and either roasted or sauteed them. Usually the thickness of a whole sprout is almost too much and then there is the slightly bitter core. So this is nice to actually taste the tender leaves, you still get all the flavor. I put them in an omelet with onions and mushrooms, a little cheese. I served that along some turkey bacon that my dad turned me on to in Tucson. It also is too expensive unless you catch a sale and that's what I did. It cooks up quick, very little fat but does smell like good bacon and has a nice crisp. Definitely worth eating instead of pork bacon for health reasons. I didn't miss the fat.

Sometimes maybe you have to breakdown in order to make room for a change. So its probably all a good thing. Or is that just what poor losers like me tell themselves when everything's gone to shit.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Whole Lotta Love

Dementia has a lot of faces but one that I'm thinking of tonight is a sweet one. One night when I went to visit my mother at the rehabilitation hospital in Tucson on my visit, I was asking her if she had eaten anything that day. For some reason my mother would not eat there but she had a voracious appetite when she returned home. Anyway, she told me that her mother had given her lunch after school already and like many times a day, I went with her train of thought so as not to confuse her and it was also much more interesting. She went on to tell me of her mom making her pork tacos that day. She said it as if I was talking to my 8 year old little mom-child, with a slight accent and child's voice. The way she talked about her mom seemed so loving and thoughtful. The way you feel about your mother when you're that age and maybe come around to feel again if you're lucky. Her mother made her dresses and pants, everything she needed for school. She used fabric from anything she could find even potato sacks. I didn't know tons about my grandmother but to me she seemed like such a serious woman with a ton of worry and unhappiness. Her husband left her for a younger woman but it was never talked about. Its nice to think of her happy and making little clothes for my mother. And its always a wonderful thought to think of my little mom happy and going to school in new clothes with a nice sack lunch of tacos. I know she grew up in a suburb of Chicago during the depression. I'm sure it wasn't easy. It is easy to spot her in this school picture. She's the young one and her older sister is the taller one.

Tonight I thought about nice homemade tacos made with love and from good ingredients. I took the meat off of the baked chicken thighs and whipped up a little purple cabbage, green apple, red onion, jalapeno slaw to top them. I added green olives like I've had in some of the restaurants here on pork tacos and that really added a great little twist. Very good idea. Mission has a good yellow thin corn tortilla that heats up nicely right on the griddle without getting dry. No need to add oil.

Oh Sweet P

Mid week is not usually my best time for creative juices to flow. I'm still bitter and stuck in self loathing, not yet feeling the false hopefulness that an upcoming day off brings. So sometimes I just bake a whole package of chicken thighs in the hopes that maybe the next night I'll come up with some amazing dish that I could use roasted chicken meat in. This was the case last night.

When I was in Tucson my mom and dad were eating vats of bananas and sweet potatoes. As a matter of fact, my dad would microwave the potatoes, let them cool and then give them to my mom like a banana, just peeled - nothing added. I'm a follower and will adapt easily to new environments so by the second day I was also eating lots of bananas and sweet potatoes this way. I've always loved sweet potatoes and equally enjoyed torturing P who doesn't love them, with making them a hundred different ways to convince him that he DOES indeed love them. I think I might have finally succeeded with those baked sweet potato fries actually!

But so my only point here is that I learned to eat sweet p's without all the butter and brown sugar that does make them taste good but is not necessary. Pathmark had a package of them for a dollar in their 'almost rotten' bin. Last night I mashed up a couple with just some nutmeg, fresh tangerine juice, zest and salt & pepper. Really good! The color and texture alone feels like flannel pajamas to me. I will eat these all winter. They are one of the best vegetables to eat, with tons of Vitamin C, fiber, beta carotenoids, potassium and B vitamins.

Monday, December 13, 2010

C'mon Baby, Eat the Rich!

Sometimes the yuppies get shit right. Actually on the food tip, folks with lots of disposable income usually discover interesting great tasting foods and then eventually they become available for commoners like myself to enjoy at half the cost. So for that I should be grateful. But you know sometimes I'm a negative little twit and tend to be resentful of those much more fortunate than me. At least I can admit it. Sometimes I feel that similar to fashion and other things, people tend to follow trends, annoying trends. With food you can turn around and everyone will be eating one thing to where its just stupid. For example edamame. Everywhere I went last year I saw tables strewn with bowls of these things. C'mon! Can't anyone have an original bone.

If it weren't for these mindless masses, we wouldn't know and readily have available lots of good treats. Its the trends I resent and people for being so damn moldable. For awhile it seemed like everyone had to offer Red Velvet Cake. Trend. Restaurants a couple of summers ago had to have Chipotle mayo or some sort of Chipotle flavored something. Trend. Everyone had to have granite countertops until the day they had to have quartz. Trend. Everyone wants a white on white kitchen right now where I work. White countertop, white cabinets, white walls, white appliances. Trend. It goes on and on.

The pomegranate trend has slowed way down so now you can find them everywhere, even the fruit carts. So now it is safe and affordable for the food monkey to experiment with them. I have to say, they're pretty amazing. Crunchy and juicy, sweet yet tangy. They are everything I'd heard about. I tossed them with spinach, tomato, red onion and avocado for a nice salad and just dressed with their own juice, lemon and EVOO. I'm wanting to lay in a bath of these seeds or have them poured down on me like the scene in Tommy where Ann Margaret gets freaky with those beans.

I get pie with a little help from my friends

Once in a blue moon P takes me to a public place. Actually I should say once in a blue moon we take a friend or relative out to brunch and I get to play like its a date. But hey, I'm not complaining at all because I enjoy getting to complain later that we never go anywhere. Just kidding. No I'm not. I'm just happy to be eating great pizza. Brick Oven Pizza from Savoia on Smith Street. I like this place a lot. Most times its really special. It feels vibrant in there and we always feel like we went somewhere. The atmosphere pulls you out of the norm. Seeing the big brick oven in back is very comforting and warming in the winter too.

I brought my camera but being a knucklehead that I am I took no pictures of the three great pizzas that we ordered. I was so excited to be out of the house and talking like a real human that I lost my mind. I did however get a pic of this coat on the ground off Atlantic Avenue as we walked home. This coat looked like it could tell an interesting story if it could talk. But it just laid there unable to say a thing.

We ordered the Paesana, the Quatro Stagioni and the Campagnola. Favorite was definitely the Paesana but if I weren't so hungry I would have definitely savored the wild mushroom on the Campagnola because there were some amazing subtle flavors there. Sausage is like the tall blond in the room as opposed to the sweet short brown haired girl, which would be the mushrooms and cheese, no red sauce. You really are drawn straight to the blond. The Quatro Stagioni was delicious too with ham, artichokes and black olives. I would say the red head with high heels. You end up grazing on the crust between pieces until its gone because its so amazing.

In order to ward off mid-morning hunger I made toasted wheat bagels with whipped cream cheese, onion and tomatoes. mmmm....

Thank goodness for P, Italians, pizza, friends, happenstance, blonds and the wisdom to know the difference. There's some kind of joke in there.

But take cash to Savoia unless you have American Express because they don't take Visa.

Friday, December 10, 2010

You feel to moan but unlike before, You discover that you'd be just one more, person crying

Do you ever feel off? Like you just can't get anything right and your whole body and mind is way off of alignment? Well I feel like that every day of my life. So its a wonder I ever pass as a functioning human being. I guess either no one pays attention or there are a lot of people out there with the same problem.

In the winter people like me go undetected unless I make a rare appearance at a company Christmas party or venture out with a visiting friend. Otherwise, I hole up. But inside closed doors I'm still just as screwy, messing up, getting everything wrong but its just that most people don't see it. Tonight I had so many aspirations for my Friday night. I was to make homemade Christmas cookies, Chili Oil, Chili Powder, a No-Salt concoction for my dad and somehow none of it was even started however I did make a good stuffed pita with crab salad and baked sweet potato fries.

I'm allergic to fish but for some reason I can eat that fake crab leg stuff, which is fish made to look like crab, including the red dots, which is pretty weird and creepy in and of itself when you think of it but I thought it might be nice to have a cool fresh salad tonight as change of pace. You know, while I was busy with all my projects I would need a light supper, was my thinking.

I love baked fries (see Garlicky Baked Fries) but I got a whole mess of sweet potatoes for a dollar (Thanks PathMark!) and they are supposed to hold more nutrition. So I made the recipe to exclude the red pepper flakes and substituted with cumin instead. I think it goes much nicer. I lightly toasted the wheat pita pockets and that is nice against the chilled salad.

I get stuff right now and then, that's why I haven't just thrown myself into the gowanus and be done with it. Like these fries. I burnt them, don't get me wrong but next time I know you can do these with sweet potatoes and the cumin is the right spice (just a pinch of nutmeg). They are a keeper! Delicious burnt so I know they will be amazing made correctly!

And I used Greek yogurt with just a touch of mayo for the salad and lots of fresh dill, celery, tomatoes, green bell pepper and lemon zest.

Brooklyn doesn't suck.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Love Don't Live Here Anymore

I have a confession. I'm just going to say it. I hate football. Okay, the world didn't end so I'll keep going. I recently lost what very little I had for football. It just fizzled out silently like the end of a candle with no warning, lights out. The flame never burned bright by any means truth be told. I think I used to talk myself into trying to enjoy it by searching out any detail of the game that might interest me. But mainly I think I just wanted to be a cool girlfriend to be honest. Sometimes women have to do pathetic things in order to spend time with their partners too. But you know what, I can lie no longer. I got nothing for this game. I do not heart the NFL. I'm over Faith Hill butchering my girl Joan's song. And when are people gonna learn that putting on a brand new pair of leather boots or pants DO NOT make you a rocker. I just need this season to end. It does end doesn't it?

In the end though, a girl must make the best of her situation and when life gives you men chasing a ball back and forth for hours upon end airing every damn day of the week and your partner seems to be entirely captivated by this nonsense, then its time for you to surrender to its power and find your own good thing. And when I find it, I will surely let you know.

Two nights ago though before I had entirely given up on football love, I figured maybe a steak would give me the butch I needed to enjoy this treasured sport. Turns out no, still nothing but I did make my lightest collard greens side ever! I boiled them for 10 minutes in salty water before draining and then sauteed them in a bit of olive oil, garlic and chili oil. Then I just topped them with some bacon bits. The garlic and the heat from the chili oil brought out the flavors and they weren't missing anything.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fight the Power

At first glance, this is just a plate of nachos which is still true but I've made some simple changes that make them better for us to enjoy.

Did you know there is 1800 plus mg of sodium in half a cube of chicken bouillon??? That is so insane. At the airport, that amazing spicy tomato juice...over 1200mgs of sodium. My dad can't eat salt so it was a little eye opening to look at all the salt I consume without ever picking up the shaker.

And its not like I was totally unaware. I've been cutting back for a few years but I need to quit half-assing my attempts. This is serious business and I don't want to be handing half of my social security check back to Pfizer or any other crooked drug company. Lousy bastuhds. Who knows if half the crap they're pumping into my mom and dad is even necessary.

Tonight I wanted an easy supper, nothing heavy. I made over my usual cheese laden (but good!) loaded ground beef nachos with refried beans and all the extras.

I used gluten free organic blue wheat low-sodium corn chips.

The ground beef was replaced with ground turkey. Finally a sale - thanks PathMark! I could buy a huge pork shoulder for what you usually charge for a few pounds of this stuff.

I used just a small amount of extra sharp cheddar to coat each chip instead of drowning them in cheese.

I mixed black beans, garlic and pickled jalepenos with the ground turkey and piled it on the side.

Lots of fresh pico de gallo with added tomato sauce to stretch the fresh tomatoes.

Finally I replaced the sour cream with Greek yogurt, which honestly I couldn't tell the difference.

Spending time at hospitals and knowing high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and other goodies might be in-store for me too, I'm rethinking some of the salt and fat, preservatives and chemicals in our food.

Now these are still very tasty but not forbidden or a bad choice. They're nacho mamas nachos!

If You Needed Me

I'm back from my trip to Tucson. Back from caring for my Little Sid after her hip surgery. In the midst of all that, my father became very worn down and his blood pressure sky-rocketed up so I had a trip into the emergency room with him too. His BP went from 140 to 257 and back down to 88 in one afternoon. It was very, very touch and go and his heart could have stopped working at any time. We were very lucky. He was looking something straight in the eyes and I was a blind wreck. The next week after my mother was released from rehab she also had an unrelated scare and I escorted her through a pretty horrible experience for a woman with dementia which was a whole morning and afternoon of tests, prodding and probing of her private parts. She struggled to pull out her IV among other things. It broke my heart to see her so uncomfortable and confused. There was so much that I saw and I guess not exactly fitting for a food blog but needless to say, the trip changed my outlook on life. So now I'm back here in Brooklyn and my actual life hasn't changed but it looks different. I wonder now how to make sense of it. I will be much more in tune with my folks and their needs, their current condition and daily changes. I hope to be a better daughter and sister and partner.

For months I've been praying for some sort of purpose instead of all this mindless day to day nothingness. I ride my bike to a job that I cannot form any type of mental erection for although I'm grateful for it. You have to be careful what you wish for. I've been pretty lucky in that I've always come to forks in the road and there were many choices, lots of exciting and stimulating options. I don't even know if I'm on a road now, more like a ditch.

But this isn't about my sad sack lack of direction. Its about how food fits in to the equation and it does and it did on this trip. I came and saw immediately the need for some good homemade chicken soup with lots of rich broth for my dad since he was weak and couldn't cook for himself at the time. I made the pork sweet potato cumin stew and included lots of fresh corn and green beans. My mother wasn't eating well at the rehabilitation facility and I could see she was overwhelmed by huge plates. Big forks, large mounds of meat, vegetables and potatoes, pie, coffee, iced tea, shakes. She needed a banana and maybe a small plastic cup of milk. She needed to be warm and calmed. She likes toast with jelly or a small piece of pie. My little Sid is a blessing, she's a delicate flower. I wanted to fire everyone at that place and bundle her up and carry her out of there but I couldn't.

This morning I wanted to feel hope and promise. It was Saturday, both P and I have it off and we enjoy the mornings with coffee and conversation. I did a wok egg scramble with turkey kielbasa, squash, tomatoes and a little sharp cheddar. Shredded red potatoes and dark German wheat toast. Again, nothing inspiring but sometimes breakfast is more about who, how and when its presented. It was good and its great to be next to P.

My parents need me but P needs me too. Its nice to be needed at all really. Sometimes you just have to keep moving until something makes sense. P put up a bird feeder next to our window. What a cool thing. I waited for the beautiful blue jays and red birds to frame themselves in the pane. Instead we've had squirrels, a bunch of squirrels taunting our cats and hanging on the screens, hanging out on the window ledge. You never know what's going to happen when you create something.

I need to stay hopeful and open. I need to find this change that apparently happened.