Saturday, October 30, 2010


I'm not sure why but I get sick a lot. Not big things, just colds and flu bugs. Once the fall hits, and the sun goes away I feel more vulnerable. I think its because I was the runt of the litter. I was the last of 6 kids. I mean, the last bowl of soup from the pot admittedly is not the best. It just makes sense that maybe I was missing some essential parts or little pieces...brains, common sense, etc. I'm very strong and I think I'm pretty healthy now but I'm nothing against some of these giant NY sized multi-cultural viruses. I go down for a couple of days and then I'm fine. But it does throw off my entire week, so it kinda sucks.

For example, I had a huge weekend planned with snacks galore to celebrate our 20th anniversary on Halloween. It felt silly to go out to eat somewhere when what we really enjoy is a variety of fun appetizers and each others company. But sometimes things don't go as planned. I went down hard on my day off and didn't get to the market at all.

So tomorrow we'll play it by ear and today we made due with a nice picnic on our sunny living room floor featuring hot toasted submarines from City Subs, Brooklyn's best sub shop. Two guys, a couple of toaster ovens and fast hands. The bread is really good and they use freshly sliced meats. I'm not exactly sure why they taste as good as they do though, because they're kind of exceptional. There is something about a perfectly put together sandwich, that seems only a man can make. Of course that's ridiculous, but its just been true in my world. These guys don't have music blasting (but I think they should), and there isn't a lot of banter between them, just specific questions determining what is going in and on your little bundle. Its all pretty serious, like they're operating. They wrap it up with the same precision and you are confident its everything you dreamed it to be. And it is.

What a special treat! I miss cooking already and I'm hoping tomorrow I'll get to come home from work and whip up some food festivities of my own. I'm learning to go with the flow. I can't control what the future brings but I'm trying to make sure we enjoy it at least. When the future brings a cold, I try to pass it to P like a hot potato. Thank goodness we have plenty of amazing cheap food spots to take up the slack.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We Can Wok it Out

I got a $5 wok from IKEA and its become my weeknight buddy for super fast dinners. I figured it would last a couple meals and the handle would fall off or something but actually its very sturdy and I'd recommend it to anyone. I had done a lot of wok cooking while living in San Francisco. There we had abundant cheap, fresh shrimp and calamari, lots of fresh vegetables throughout the year. We lived amongst vegetarians, vegans and mostly wafer thin shoe-gazers as well as many small framed, Chinese and Japanese people. Oh and 7 foot tall drag queens with legs to their necks. It seemed everyone was twenty something and thin. Everything seemed effortless. It was easier to eat light also because California has amazing fresh produce that you didn't have to pay out your ass for. We were younger then of course and we could drink all night and only look bloated and haggard one afternoon and by next day we'd deflate and be fresh again. Except P's head, sometimes that took two days or so.

Now in New York, years later, its been a concentrated effort to try to eat better and stay fit. Things take days to recover, sometimes weeks. You have to work at it. But hey you can't be young forever and who wants to be? It's exhausting.

I sort of forgot about wok cooking until now. I didn't have room for a wok. And I still don't but you know what, I made room for it because its so dern useful. And its exciting! You have the high heat going, you're throwing things in and stirring fast and minutes later its all ready and steaming hot.

Wednesdays are usually the nights when I need to use up the perishables so tonight I made a quick stir fry with mushrooms, onions, beef kielbasa, garlic, cannellini beans and broccoli rabe. I added just a tablespoon of chili paste and some soy sauce.

Youth is overrated but being healthy and fit enough for your own body makes good sense. I'm not looking to turn back the clock. No, my motto is always forward, never back. I'm just looking to enjoy our future. And stay far away from doctors.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I See the Bad Moon Arising

Just as I suspected, last night was a full moon. You see every full moon, I get anxious, high-strung, I breathe heavier, you might call it panting. My heart feels like it beats faster, like I've been running. I crave meat and my mood is kinda foul. And if one were to really, really push me, I might just haul off and bite them. I'm actually not kidding. It's like a lunar PMS of sorts. I've always felt it, since I was a young girl. I'm not proud of it. This is a confession. I'm sharing.

Last night and most of yesterday I felt it, a little flu-ish, not well. My bones felt like they wanted to rip right out of my body. This morning I was still off and definitely not myself.

Anyway, I'm home, its over and I'm starting to calm down. For that I can be grateful. So now I need to make a quick supper that involves something good for me but more importantly some sort of red meat to quench this werewolf feeling I've been brewing. I reach for my cheap round steak. I don't mind fighting with my meat a bit, it helps release some of this pent up aggression actually. I have a fast Mustardy Kale recipe ( and that is the whole dinner plan. I did a quickie marinade on the steaks of stone ground mustard, Worcestershire sauce and lots of cracked pepper. I'm also toasting up a little Italian bread to soak up some of this angst.

Just like in the movies when the vampires knew to take care of themselves and shield their eyes from the sun or to feed by daybreak, I've learned to take care of this weird full moon whoo-do condition of mine. When it does come I eat meat and bread. If I have to work, like I did today, I white-knuckle through it and as soon as possible, I get my crazy ass home and try not to talk too much or scare the cats. I sleep like a bear and then its over the next day.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Area man washes two cups, considers himself a saint

Local Brooklynite washed up his own cups this morning and is astonished at his own act of generosity.

P makes coffee on Saturday mornings and its wonderful, don't get me wrong but let's face it, that's the end of his 'contribution' to household duties. We had a loose agreement that he would wash the dishes every other dinner but that seemed to fade away like my dreams. No, really he's the mule and willingly carts most anything home for us including the laundry every week so in his mind, he's doing more than any man should rightly do. And I appreciate it. Because that's how far down he's broken me.

Now I was starting to mold Saturdays as an afternoon date of sorts. A good brunch then a stroll through the neighborhood. Maybe a stop off in the park. But I think I may have cooked myself right out of the one luxury or semblance of a 'date' that we share. As the weather gets colder and its more fun to linger in bed until we're too hungry to act right, I'm tending to make breakfast at home on Saturday mornings instead of going to a fun brunch spot and having ourselves a little chat and chew.

Am I screwing myself? Jury is still out on this one. On the one hand, I really like making breakfast. Its super fast and a bit of a rush. Everything has to be hot and ready at the same time. That's not easy to do for me but its fun. My tiny kitchen becomes all abuzz.

This morning I already knew I wanted to cook and my goal was to make the creamiest fluffiest scrambled eggs. Alongside that I wanted crispy bacon, country potatoes and buttered toast. I let the eggs slow cook while stirring frequently. I added a bit of milk and sour cream to the whisk. At the very end a handful of jalapeno jack cheese. Eggs are to be treated as the delicate little wonders that they are. Soft and fluffy, like clouds. No black pepper, just a hint of salt. This was everything we would have experienced at a local spot. Except outside P tends to find my mindless rants fascinating or at least he looks at me when I talk. Thats a lot when you've been together 20 years.

Maybe a date is how I see church. It can be anywhere you just have to be treating it as such. We talk, tease, yell and try to out-wit each other at home. At a restaurant setting we have to be more civil I guess, better-behaved, more respectful. Just like church actually - hmmm...maybe there is a benefit. Jury is still out.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Grounds for Beef

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

I love stuffed peppers, all kinds. I didn't grow up eating them with ketchup or any kind of sweet sauce in or on top of the stuffing. I did however eat a lot of Stouffer's Stuffed Peppers, in my late teens that I really liked and they definitely had a sauce running through it. Stouffer's sort of opened my eyes to different foods way back when. A pizza on a slice of French bread? And so crispy? That was crazy talk. And I loved me some crazy. The pot pies were a step up from Swanson's and the Lasagna was way better than any the Boy Chef conjured up. It was high class TV dinner food. In hoosiertown this was maybe the only way to get Lasagna at that time. Maybe that's why I'm not a food snob. I can't be. I come from hoosierville. I like all foods, fast, made on a cart, made in someones tiny kitchen, who cares as long as it tastes good. Everything has its place.

So anyway, regarding the sweet sauce on top. Its earned its spot on this dish but a lot times I find myself craving the basic flavor of spiced hamburger meat and a juicy baked green pepper. I don't want the distraction. And I love the way hamburger tastes specifically with fresh tomatoes, garlic, onion, jalapenos, green onions, parsley and a good half a palm-full of whole cumino seeds. Also I don't like to cook the the vegetables down too much. I like them to have life in them and then just throw in the tomatoes & parsley at the end, right before stuffing.

But I do like to mix it up and play around with the grains in the stuffing. Wild Rice, Quinoa, Mexican Rice...

Tonight I'm using barley! I'm trying to eat more healthy grains. Although white rice soaks up the flavor so well I just tasted this barley and the texture and flavor is great simmered in beef broth. Its gonna be good!

I put a cup and a half of barley in the stuffing but I'll also serve the peppers on a bed of it as well. Instead of the red sweet sauce on top, I used bread crumbs and olive oil. If I get a hankerin' for cheese and I'm sure that I will, I may top with a little cheddar in the last 5 minutes. This will be the full meal, no sides, so why not make it a full experience. Cheese needs no invitation.

Stuffed peppers are probably a bit like chili. Everyone has their own way of doing it and you really can't go wrong because the two flavors of ground beef and green bell pepper is a match made in heaven.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Making Friends

Holy Crap - I don't even know if I can explain this right but its the truth. I made a soup tonight that I can only describe as our friend Josh. If Josh were a soup, this would be that soup. J's one of our dearest friends. He's a gifted singer, musician, sound engineer, etc. His personality is mellow but he has all these surprises, like he's fearless for one and he is able to play almost any instrument he picks up. Every time either of us hangs out with him, we say what a great person he is. He's a real friend who does amazing things.

I saw the name of this soup Roast Vegetable Chowder again in Woman's Day and it sounded hearty and just right for this week as the weather is brisk and windy. I played around with the ingredients and added a little here and there. Again, I think it would be great just as the recipe states but I have time to play so, I played.

I roasted butternut squash, red potatoes, a yam, 3 ears of corn, and a head of garlic. For the first time I tried these little purple potatoes, which were so brilliant. Basically, the whole farm. First in the pot was a few leeks sauteed in 2 pats of butter, then diced Canadian bacon. I whisked chicken broth with whole wheat flour together,stirred that in. Then cups of 1% milk, heated until it was thick and creamy. then dropped all the roasted aromatic vegetables in. All this soup needs is salt and a little white pepper, maybe a small pinch of nutmeg. Luscious.

By the way I'm a sucker for packaging and these little purple potatoes are happiness. And their color stays. They just make you more excited to eat a chunk of potato when its vibrant purple. The taste is actually more distinct and less mealy.

The corn provides great flavor & texture to the broth. This chowder was warm and satisfying and surprisingly special. This soup is a sweater just out of the dryer. Its a full pint of German Beer. Its a sign we're not alone. This soup is our friend Josh.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Don't Make Me Over

Sometimes (and a lot of times when you're cheap like me), unless you're rich and don't mind wasting food, you have to eat leftovers and things that don't normally go together necessarily. And sometimes, that can be just as good if not better!

We had a leftover breakfast and dinner this week. The jerk chicken was better the second time around but the heat didn't mellow one bit so I made a mild broccoli- cheese-pepperoni quesadilla side with sour cream to ease the burn.

The breakfast was poached eggs over a ranchero sauce made from leftover roasted tomato salsa from my pork stew and the rest of that pepperoni stick.

When P and I first started cohabitatin' about a hunnerd years ago I noticed he didn't eat leftovers, ever. That was a shock of sorts. What the hell, I thought. He's a nice guy. That's good fried chicken in there! ..or good leftover hamburgers or casserole. Where's this guys head at? Could it be that he's just not getting it? Does he get me? Guys are weird. Okay, women are clearly a little psychotic but men are weird. After single-handedly eating all the leftovers for a few months I finally asked him about it. He said he just never considered it. Never even considered it??? Really? If he could not consider that delicious half a cheeseburger and cold fries in that refrigerator and leave them for dead, what's he gonna do with me in 7 months??? And how about considering all those starving kids in Africa huh? And what was next? Is he gonna to tell me he doesn't like cilantro??? This was serious. I didn't even want to know his reasoning. I just knew I had to turn that ship around pretty quick if it was gonna work out.

It took awhile but I'm happy to report that I learned to makeover my leftovers a bit and dress them up to look more appealing to P and P learned to eat two day old mac and cheese among other things. Tonight he came home and said 'right on, there's still some pork stew left'. And I told him to suck it.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I come from Indiana with a blanket on my knees

Mexican Pork and Sweet Potato Stew. I found this great picture of a stew in Woman's Day Magazine. I tweaked the recipe because I had the time and I just fell in love with these ingredients together. They look like the fall leaves. The recipe is great for cooks in a rush to get dinner on the table.

Me, I have nothing but time on the weeknights so I took that time, did it up right. Red and green peppers, sweet potatoes, pork, corn, garlic and onion - that's good stuff. Instead of a store bought salsa, I went ahead and made a homemade roasted tomato chipotle salsa that really made the difference. I wanted a thick hearty stew, so I also added about a 1/4 cup of fine corn meal and a bit of cornstarch to thicken. I kept the spices simple but upped the amount of cumin and also added a 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. The cumin and cinnamon with the pork is a warm blanket. I like blankets. I like to be warm in the fall with a blanket on my knees.

I totally get the blanket over the knees reasoning. I ride my bike all week to work and back and when the cold weather hits, my knees are the first ones to need some nursing. The best thing is to be a little cold indoors and have a nice blanket on my lap and my legs propped up on a stool. That's livin'. I think part of me has always been an elderly woman. I have been able to relate since I can remember. Even as a little girl I loved sitting on the steps facing down the hill looking out over the creek and woods behind our house and just sittin', listening, and being calm. I'd stroll down to the corner and visit this old man and his little chihuahua Lana, named after Lana Turner. Then I'd sit some more and listen to his stories. My friends used to call me grandma in San Francisco. I still liked to tear it up and burn it down but there was that side. Now at work, my coworkers tell me I have a musk that attracts the old birds and I love it. I love the old folks. I'd take an aged couple over newlyweds any day of the week as customers. They have been kicking around a long time. That's to be respected. They know things we don't and you see it in their eyes. They aren't caught up in their egos and they aren't afraid of anything anymore. They are no longer working so there is a calm to them that is foreign to some. They're not uptight. They don't have to be somewhere in 20 minutes, like most people in NY. What's not to like? These are my people. They like calm and quiet. I like calm and quiet and to relax in a chair with a blanket on my knees.

This stew is that blanket.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Good Taste has many Roots

That last storm blew the door wide open for fall to come in. The high winds almost took all the leaves off the trees in one shot. No more 80 degree days. That boat has sailed. That means its finally time for much heartier dishes and seasonal root vegetables.

Root vegetables are like the sensible plain-looking chubby girls of the supermarket aisles. They aren't as exciting or visually appealing at first glance as say the red ripe tomatoes or the golden sweet corn. But they definitely fill you up, they taste earthy and they're so good for you. Once you get them home and cook with them, you realize just how special they really are...inside. Sometimes that natural basic flavor is amazing with just a little added dash of salt and pepper.

Last night I made Braised Turnip Greens with Turnips and Apples to go along side my jerk chicken. The dull looking turnips had tons of flavor and just a little pat of butter made them come alive. But just to be sure, I brought the ham hock along to get these little wallflowers on the dance floor.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Are you Jerkin' my Chicken?

I received a fresh batch of very beautiful habbies from Big Ed. I'm so excited to feature them in a baked jerk chicken.

Last night I soaked the chicken in this wet marinade made from tons of fragrant dried spices (my arms are sore from grinding), vinegar, orange & lime juice, soy sauce and olive oil. I added 7! of the dried habanero red peppers, the motivation for this dish (didn't take out the seeds, yikes!). We're thrill seekers. We have amazing jerk in the neighborhood, and I think to really get it spot on you need to smoke the meat on a grill. So I stand here humble and knowing my place.

But unless I want to set the fire escape in flames, I'd better stick to interior heat. But you can't get stuck in the details. I'm sure it will be delicious either way. I am going to try to get that grilled flavor, the crisp and slight burn on the chicken with a brief trip through the broiler. I'll serve it with some of that reserved marinade heated and reduced on top. Instead of collard greens and mac & cheese, the amazing familiar sides, I'll need to figure something more heart smart. You know, P's gettin' a little long in the tooth, so I gotta watch his ticker.

Recipe from: The Sugar Reef Carribean Cookbook," by Devra Dedeaux (sounds legit, although she only used 1 scotch bonnet in her recipe). I say, if you're going to go, go BIG right? So I thought seven peppers should provide the 'Yeowww!' that you need to feel automatically when you taste the jerk sauce. Then all the various other flavors will swarm your pallet before the heat comes back to b#@$h slap your tongue into the next room.

Next day:
Okay we just came out of recovery. We got jerked! This was some full bodied flavor and heat. Delicious, but we decided this was a creeper jerk. The heat rolled up on us like a Mexican home grown. Overall rating - best use of habbies so far.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hail yeah!

And now a hail storm? Okay, I don't remember the weather ever being this freaky here. No one is really making a big deal about it on the news but c'mon! we don't have hail storms in Brooklyn! That storm last night was violent, it hit quick and in an instant it was serious and scary rough. The lightning was like exaggerated movie lightning. The cars had to pull over because the street was like a river. Now tell me that is normal.

People were joking today at work about the 'wrath of God'. I wasn't laughing. I still get paranoid that I'll get struck down by lightning for making off color jokes. The nuns kinda did a number on my gullible nature. But I think it was for the best because I have a feeling I mighta done a lot worse without all the fear in me. I barely have time to mess up I'm always worrying. Lately, I worry that there was a big management change upstairs and the 1st Testament God is back. And he is not having any of this nonsense going on down here. And now he's gonna start messing with the controls.

Another theory is the earth is just rejecting humans altogether and trying to purge us out of it's atmosphere like a bad house guest. Who'd blame it.

The weather's freaky, I'm freaky but I got my P back and all is well. That means its time to eat. I mentioned this Japanese Curry Udon that I had eaten on so many lunch breaks in Times Square (see This Bird has Flown) at a little hole in the wall. I kept thinking of it after making my Indian chicken curry with potatoes this week and I just had to get that flavor back in my belly.

Well to celebrate P's homecoming I put this together quickly after work and it was a success! I made the Udon noodles in its little soup broth in a wok, added the fresh spinach just to wilt, bowled it up and then ladled a big scoop of the curry and chicken - topped that with the green onions and man, it was super close to the soup I remembered. I hope they serve this up there or wherever I end up.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Imagine no spaghetti, I wonder if you can

I have time to myself with P gone. I rearranged the living room and cleaned the apartment. I took the laundry in. I packed up the summer clothes and exchanged them in the closets for the winter stuff. I dusted, I mopped, I showered. Now I am going to OD on pasta.

I have to. Its what I know.

When I was little the only thing I knew how to make was Kraft spaghetti mix because they sold it as a boxed set, the spaghetti, sauce and cheese and gave you real specific instructions. My mom and dad were very hard at work trying to make a Mexican restaurant work in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana in the late 60's, early 70's. They were always gone, working and when they weren't working they were sleeping and barely that. This didn't prompt me to learn to cook by any means, I did however learn how to clean pretty well. I remember the first time I mopped the kitchen floor and was fascinated that it seemed to magically change ten shades lighter and it had a color to it! Cleaning ended up being soothing for me, making me feel like things were ok and so did spaghetti.

Thank goodness my mom left me enough money to buy my daily fix. I had the routine down. I waited until I was so hungry that I could muster the courage to leave the house. I was shy. I hiked it up the hill to Hep's Dairy. I had just enough to get that boxed spaghetti, a bag of Seyfert's barbeque potato chips and a coke. If there was change, I'd treat myself to some penny candy. I can still kinda smell the sauce cooking up, dropping in that seasoning packet and waiting the ten minutes for the pasta to cook. Its seemed very upscale at the time. I must've eaten that every day for years. And ever since, anytime I feel a little lonely or sick or nervous, I eat spaghetti. It's comforting but not in the way that mashed potatoes are comforting. This is more like self medicating comfort. Its less romantic and more pathetic but its what I know and it works for me.

P's back tomorrow night. So tonight I will wrap myself in a turkey sausage, baby portabello mushroom and fresh tomato sauce over linguine sprinkled with fresh basil. And lots of it! ...and a chocolate ice cream chaser.

Friday, October 8, 2010

This Bird has Flown

P up and left me for a wild weekend with Big Ed down in Tennessee. I have a big list of things I can get done while he's gone but somehow I'm already losing large chunks of time to what I can only explain away as alien abduction. It makes sense that they'd come while P was gone.

I read that if you put a domesticated pig back into the wild, they will go feral after two weeks. I think maybe I only take about a day, day and a half. I need to stay focused.

Tonight I'm preparing the Indian Chicken Curry for the second half of the Battle of the Curries - Indian vs Thai. I think its apples and oranges though. Actually I'm already bored with my own stupid idea of this contest. I'm in the middle of making this and it smells amazing and I'm super hungry so its all moving forward! Its very comforting smelling and its bringing back memories.

When I worked in Times Square there was a Japanese Noodle place that was one of those hidden treasures that the locals knew about. I knew about it. We packed it in that tiny place at lunchtime. They served up a chicken curry udon noodle soup that I remember more than most towns I've lived in. You know they layer these flavors on the spot. First they have the broth, they add the noodles, then a big dollop of this curry sauce. Lots of green onions and a heap of spinach next. Then they add these crispy deep fried pieces of chicken that they'd put in at the last minute so when you ate the soup, the crisp was still on the crust but now it was covered in this curry and the heat would fill your nose with this aroma and the noodles would slide down your throat. Suddenly you felt so alive. Your nose was running and you were sweating and they had these horrible bright lights in this bad seating area upstairs but it didn't matter because this soup was all that was in the room. Man it was good! I'm thinking I may have just found tomorrows dish!

I'm loosely using an Epicurious recipe. You can view the complete recipe online at:

Instead of boneless chicken breasts, which were great for the Thai,I'm using bone-in thighs with the skin on. These will be much better for this. I'll bake them first so the meat falls off the bone in the curry. This is comfort food, so nice chunks of potato will go quite nicely with the peas too.

Yes Ma'am!!! This was clearly the winner to-night! Damn Good!

Man, this is like catching a huge fish when no one is looking. Except for the time eating aliens that is.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bundles of Joy

My dad called me tonight. First thought.... something terrible happened. But no, it was just a call to say he really liked my Sid's Squirty Butt Chili Powder that I made and sent him! He said he put it in his bbq sauce of all things and a dab in his menudo. He actually went on about it for a moment. He said I really hit on something but that he could only take a small hit. Success!! I've never made anything too hot for my dad and that was the goal. He asked all about it, so even though I think maybe he just wanted me to talk to mom and get a break, at least he made the effort and that was such a little gift. My dad Never calls me unless my mom's in the hospital so this was a big deal. Truth is, he shouldn't have to call me. I have 'call the folks' on my daily lists, every week and sometimes I do it, but sometimes I fail and I feel like crap. So now I can actually rest easier tonight knowing all is well.

The other gift was that my mom now and then will drop these cool stories that I've never heard on me about when she was a little girl and tonight she gave me one. She said she had a little stomach ache, maybe something she ate that her dad made her. She told me that her dad used to make her go with him whenever he shot an animal on the farm. She hated to watch because she would get close to the pigs and the cows, they were like her pets. She said he taught her how to clean and cut them up and she learned but only so she could cook for him but she herself didn't like to actually eat the meat after seeing all of that. She said it really hurt her.

I always knew that my mom got a little skiddish around meat and that she loved tomatoes and green salads, much lighter stuff. Generally she ate very little meat. I just never knew why. And to think of all the roasts she made for the family knowing now how she felt. Must have been tough for her.

When I got the call I was feeling a little squeamish myself after all these headaches and medicines I've been taking. I decided against making the Indian chicken curry tonight and instead just some steamed pork wontons. They were so just what I wanted, something light. Little bundles of joy.

The last gift. In my trips out to Asian restaurants I've always loved this little sauce they serve along with dumplings or wontons but never knew what was in it,except soy sauce. Well, just a little recipe off the web and badaBOOM! There was the exact flavor I loved.

Bundles of joy tonight, gifts from the heavens above. Steamed Pork Dumplings.

Dipping Sauce
1⁄2 cup each lite soy sauce and rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp sliced scallions
1 tsp each minced ginger, dark sesame oil and sugar
1⁄4 tsp Big Ed's crushed red pepper flakes

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Nectar of the Gods

To be honest I watched Julie and Julia again the night I had my migraine and in one of the first scenes they are eating bruschetta and they film that so you can almost taste that warm delicious treat. It has been on my 'have to make' list ever since. When I made this nectarine salsa that I mention in Bird is the Word, I immediately knew it would be fantabulous (as my friend KK says) on toasted crusty bread. Well we had it last night and it was better than that. This one is going in regular rotation. I'm not sure what makes the magic exactly, the nectarines are just the right amount of sweet mixed with tang and citrus. Chopping everything fresh and right on the spot and letting the flavors get all cozy together helps, at room temperature. Also I added some basil along with the cilantro and the two herbs work really well together with this. I rubbed the garlic on the toasted bread as soon as it came out of the oven and drizzled the olive oil on it before topping with just a spoon of the salsa. Then as just a little somethin' somethin', I sprinkled some crumbled Cotijo cheese on top. Heaven.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Kid you good lookin' but you don't know what's cookin' until you Mambo Italiano!

A serious migraine kidnapped my head this week so today I was just happy to be up and not feeling the crushing debilitating pain and nausea. I considered cutting my own head open for relief. Exedrin usually helps a lot but this time it just left me with a caffeine stomach and the jitters. But last night I slept well and to top it off the weather was sunny and crisp, a beautiful fall day! P had the Ryder Cup and wasn't even trying to irritate me all morning. These are the days. These are the times when life makes a lot of sense to me. The neighborhood feels alive in a positive way and for some reason I won't research too far, I do too.

Italian was on the brain because P kept talking about the Molinari brothers and how much he liked them. Plus in classic golf goofball style they played 'Mambo Italiano!' when they did their little story clip montage. I love to watch golf but the guys behind the scenes are a bunch of sentimental old fools, always tugging at the heartstrings with their back stories. What a crock! I think the brothers lost the last two holes to Zach Johnson and Mahan though.

I wanted breakfast to have some spunk so I went for an Italian pizza inspired omelet. Fresh basil, pepperoni, red peppers and mushrooms laid the bed for some mozzarella cheese and then I topped it with some diced tomatoes dressed in oregano and salt. Surprisingly special! Crappy picture though sorry!

Authentic Curry

That roasted curried cauliflower left us hankerin' for more curry. We used to get a mean beef curry with green beans from Three Bow Thai on Smith Street (R.I.P.) that I was trying to model my dish after. Of course I have all this chicken so I made mine with boneless breasts. I didn't have curry paste at first, which lead me to research the differences in powders and pastes and then Indian versus Thai curry. So that lead me to make a cook-off challenge; Battle of the Curries.

Last night we had the Thai based off a basic recipe. I really love the lemon grass, the fresh green beans and onions, the basil. I believe I may have done well, not amazing. I'm trying to pinpoint what was missing as far as authenticity. Maybe it needed more of sauce maybe. I didn't add ginger and now I see most recipes call for it. I did add some Big Ed's dried pepper flakes and some white pepper for heat. I need a wok that will give me the high temperature the dish needs to achieve too, so maybe that was it.

Speaking of Curries, The Runaways sort of changed my life back in Fort Wayne. I was drowning in a sea of uncoolness in my white orthopedic shoes working as a dispensing optician by day and searching for intelligent life by night. Saving my pennies to move to California. I would get relief by driving during my lunch break and blasting my power booster with some Led Zeppelin and AC/DC. I was thrilled Joan Jett had gone solo and even though I couldn't really understand that glitter-glam pop stuff she was doing, I still thought she was an amazing rhythm guitarist and overall cool chick. But when I first saw pictures of the Runaways I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Joan Jett was me and Cherie Currie was the sidekick I needed. She liked Bowie and wore those amazing boots! She had perfectly feathered bangs and wore corsets. She understood what it was all about. Or so I thought at that time. Time always tells the true story P's always sayin'.

I found a Cherie in the Fort, my high school buddy and fellow stoner, B. She looked the part but secretly liked Styx I later discovered. Her blond hair was a boy magnet and she always managed to find a party. She wore a great pair of high blond leather boots and indulged my rock dream rants. The truth came out eventually that she wanted to be married and have a family. Nothin' wrong with that. Bless her heart though she moved out west with me and we had a blast for a while.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Bird bird bird, bird is the word

Chicken chicken and more chicken this week. The beef and pork prices were through the roof, so its chicken thighs and skinless breasts and hopefully lots of new food ideas.

I had a mental post-it note in my head about putting nectarines together with jalapenos a few weeks back and guess what? was a good thought! I had a nice chubby little roaster and so I marinated it with blended nectarine, orange juice, cilantro, garlic, chipotle in adobo and 2 fresh jalapenos. The smell while it was roasting filled the room like a rich BBQ sauce. Who knew?

Afterwards I topped the chicken with a pico de gallo made also with fresh chopped nectarines and plenty of lime juice. That was luscious all by itself somehow. I mean this is just pico with added nectarines but it was like a whole new fresh lovely taste sensation. And monkey was digging it, P too. So much so that I'm going to put it on toasted bread like a Latin bruschetta this weekend. Hopefully I'll get a more flattering picture because when the juices meld, it makes a pretty color, along with an amazing flavor.

Nectarine Salsa

1 chopped nectarine
3-4 roma tomatoes diced and seeded
1 clove garlic, smashed and chopped
2 jalapenos diced and seeded
1/2 small red onion diced
bunch of cilantro
olive oil
big squeeze of lime juice

I know lots of others have made salsa with fruit so I'm not taking credit for this even though I haven't seen it before. Its just every time I've tasted one with peaches or mango it was too sweet, like they added sugar, which is just wrong in my opinion. No, I have ideas. I have an idea book matter of fact, no lie. One day I may come up with my own turducken, who knows. I gotta try one of those silly birds.