Sunday, July 29, 2012

'Cause I'd Never Want To Make You Change For Me

When we get the opportunity to order delivered Thai food from National, I get all goosey all over. What a treat! What will I order? There are so many choices and so far, all are good! Its so hard not to get the curry because it does not disappoint, ever and it follows the criteria for ordering correctly; Don't order what you could make better yourself. I couldn't, believe me, not even close. Order the most exciting thing to you on the menu, something you couldn't get just anywhere. That's usually the Beef with Green Curry because it is exceptional and it has heat. The light milky lime-green color with all the bamboo shoots, the aroma, the coconuty goodness mixed with the heat of the red chile. Oh its so wonderful.

But its important to step out sometimes and be adventurous. I've loved the Spicy Noodles with Beef. The Pork and Pineapple Fried Rice is way better than it should be and you get basically two full orders. The Beef with Garlic and Basil sauce has something amazing that I can't place, some smoky flavor that I just love.
But no, this time I ordered Pad Thai with Shrimp. Really good and very bold in flavor. A nice big squeeze of lemon over it all, then a good stir to mix in all the crunchy bean sprouts. I have no illusions this is a low-cal dish, however I've seen the calorie counts run from 350 to 900 on-line. Not sure what makes the difference. National's seems lighter than most.
P ALWAYS gets the Beef with Green Curry. He never struggles with the decision. He loves it and isn't the least bit curious to see if there is something else he may love even more. Sometimes I want him to order something different just so I can see if I like it, cover more ground that way. But that's his way and he's happy, so I try to leave him be.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sunshine Almost Always Makes Me High

On this morning I wanted a breakfast that felt light and due to the heat, more refreshing. I made what I'm calling a scrambled egg salad. Scrambled eggs with hard salami, arugula, tomatoes, onions and marinated artichoke hearts. A little tangy, a little creamy. It works. Breakfast is always good!

Friday, July 27, 2012

All These Places Had Their Moments

I'm off today. Some would say playing hooky. I call it a necessary mental health day. I call it a day that if I don't take time to honor my real self I just might throw myself into traffic and be done with it. Its partially hormonal I won't lie but these days are for the body, mind and soul. Mine in particular. But also everyone that I come in contact with. We all benefit.

I believe that. My boss benefits because most every other day I willingly put on this pathetic yellow striped shirt with someone else's dreams logo'd on it and sell kitchen cabinets. I smile and become genuinely interested in random people's dreary little stories about their renovation projects, something that doesn't actually interest me one bit if I had to be really honest. But they are human beings and I like the interaction and use it to gather up information for my imaginary Master's degree in Human Behavior that I've been working on all my life. Plus its not the worst job I could be doing. I think I've done that job so I know its not the worst.

The cats benefit because otherwise I wouldn't so happily scoop their poop every day and clean up their puke and dried up hairballs off the floor like its a privilege. Which it is by the way. Cats are glorious creatures and give back so much. I'd gladly wipe their ass most days.
P benefits big time because once every couple of months I kinda go nuts and feel like everything has gone to complete shite and my life is meaningless and there is no hope for any one. A day to sit with myself and just be gives me enough refueling to get right back on that lame horse and ride it into my dimly lit future.

I resuscitate my life by listening to music that reminds me who I am. I take pictures, cook and write stories about food and people in order to feel I didn't completely abandon my integrity by turning in my self-esteem in exchange for an hourly wage, a steady paycheck, 401K and health insurance. Did I mention I have vision and dental?
A Chicken Fajitas plate using poached, then stewed and shredded chicken. Chicken can be boring and predictable everyday fare but give it a chance and it can become flavorful and vibrant, surprising even. Please God don't let me end up to be weeknight chicken.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Woke Up In Love This Morning

Even though this pizza wasn't the big rage the night before, it definitely served its purpose this morning. Reheated on the pizza stone in the oven with an egg cracked on top. Nice salt and black pepper. Then all the mild comforting homey tastes made sense!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Shining Bright to See, What You Can Truly Be

I love to cook but that doesn't mean I cook all that well or make amazing stuff very often. I have made stand out meals but not consistently. Sometimes I lose confidence that I have anything unique to offer. I love how every once in a blue moon though, I'll hit something out of the park unknowingly. I'm just cookin' along, nothing special is happening but low and behold a dish will come out superb. This happened with my pizzas the other night. I wasn't looking to do the whole homemade fiasco. This was a store bought crust, on a work night, I'm tired, P's tired, you get the picture. We're just lookin' to eat. Pillsbury Artisan Wheat Crust dough, great by the way. I stretched it and made two pies out of it. The one I thought would be special was with turkey sausage, broccoli (which on pizza is always extra meaty tasting), onions and lots of garlic. I used a mild cheddar that I thought would be dreamy, sort of like a casserole taste. It was good, no doubt.

But the stand out was the second one, the one I sort of just threw together because I had to use up the leftover pepperoni slices. I made my quick sauce using tomato paste, garlic, oregano, salt, red peppers. Laid that down, pepperoni slices, Kalamata olives, fire-roasted tomatoes drained well and Cotija cheese, the Mexican equivalent to a mild feta that I've been putting on everything because I got a big wedge on sale. Then fresh basil and red pepper flakes on top.

Somehow that combo ignited in my mouth and all of it down to the textures just kept shining brighter!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pick Up the Pieces

I did a nice quick pan gravy for these pork chops using some of that fresh sage and rosemary. Excellent little weeknight bonus!

That's a nice little bonus tip to remember. When I'm frying up something in the pan and I see all those little caramelized bits and pieces, its almost a sin to just wash those away. Better to sprinkle a big tablespoon of flour over it all, allow that to cook for just a few minutes. Throw some cold water, stock, beer or wine into the pan, fresh herbs if you have them and a little salt and pepper, scrape the bottom and heat.... instant rich tasty gravy. I got fancy and put mine through a sieve but its not necessary.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I Can't Complain But Sometimes I Still Do

Brunch at Maggie Brown with friends. Good veggie burgers and fries. Again, struggled with my choice, regretted I didn't get the Caesar salad. Hot day, needed something cool and certainly didn't need those fries.

This place is very upbeat, friendly, always has a great vibe, the waitress is attentive and genuine. We love it. The experience is always great and we'll keep going. The only thing I would wish for probably and its being nit-picky maybe but to make the plates a little prettier. That corned beef hash thing that Josh gets is awesome and that strawberry butter is divine. You even get a biscuit! And those pancakes were soft and pillowy but there was nothing to eat with your eyes beforehand. Maybe its the huge white plates. Or maybe I just need to shut up and eat my lunch.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hehehehehehehehee, Wipe Out!

I'll admit it, I reward with food. I like to think I have a handle on it. I use that bad reasoning like, 'it's not like I'm 300 lbs. I must not have a problem'. But in my mind's eyes I'm 300 pounds at least by now. Obsession is a word that comes to mind. Fixation is another. I like food okay!? I'm totally consumed by thoughts of it much of my day. Doesn't mean I have to eat it. I'm just thinking about it. Like how I stare at P's bottle of cold Vodka in the freezer all icy and ready to take away my worries. I've never touched it. Okay, I've touched it and rubbed it on my longing cheeks but I've never opened it and drank of it.

And like these new McDonalds spicy chicken bites. I musta seen a dozen adds over a one hour period of time while watching Wipe Out. Yikes, I'm their target audience - the mind-numbed couch creature who thinks watching attention starved hipsters fall like noodles into the water is funny. Okay, its a little funny. Anyway, even if I couldn't myself eat them I prodded P to be sure to stop by and pick some up for himself as a reward. He had to do some soul crushing thing for work that involved going to the courthouse in 100 degree heat. If anyone deserves spicy chicken bites, its P on this day.

Well he didn't heed my advice so in my head, my craving wasn't fulfilled. That's it I had to have spicy chicken bites. Desperate times. So I made some of my own. I put an upscale twist on them, lightly coated with egg, then dipped in seasoned Panko crumbs with chopped rosemary and sage then sauteed until just crispy and golden brown. Served with Edemame and Jasmine rice.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Just Like a Heatwave, It's Tearing Me Apart

Another night of mind numbing temps and simultaneous brain fry. A haboob if you will of heat enveloped me as I walked into my apartment. The cats of course wait until I walk in to drop their stink bombs in the poop box. Their gift to say, welcome home. I can't. I can't cook, it's too painful. Yet I'm so hungry. Okay, okay, I will make something but it has to be super easy. I begrudgingly stretch back on my sweaty clothes and head over to the $10 store. They will have exactly what I need to go brilliantly with this turkey sausage, the only meat in the house.

Okay, so I settle on a refrigerated soba noodle pack for a quick soup that I can drop tiny meatballs into with a container of pre-washed and cut green beans and mushrooms. Excellent choice! However when I get to the soup flavor packet part I find a ginormous amount of sodium packed into this teenie little pouch. Like 2600mgs! Yikes. The Japanese are so healthy looking. How can it even be true?? So instead of the pre-packed instant flavors I opted for a low sodium vegetable bouillon cube which by the way, still has a shit storm of salt, like 870mgs. Best to use the cans if you have to go for a quickie and can't make homemade stock.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I Feel Like Bustin' Loose

I love to cook almost all the time. But after work, catch me on an off day like this one...and lately with the heat tambien..forget about it. I just want to break out and run from this whole kitchen DIY scene. I want someone to bring me food. I want to eat something greasy and salty and fattening....and wash it down with a Coke, dang it!

(Sigh).... But that would require the putting back on of the sticky wet sweaty clothing. So, instead - Super quick pantry chili with canned small white and black beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, ground turkey,onion and spices. Served over white rice.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

We Can Make It Together

I bought a box of Aunt Jemima Buckwheat Pancake mix and whipped us up a batch of silver dollar pancakes with breakfast. Pancakes! I actually have to stop myself from remembering I have a whole big box of mix, in my pantry, right now, just sitting and waiting. Otherwise how could I stop myself from having them ANYtime? I also have a bottle of pure maple syrup, the good kind, the real stuff. It's like a bottle of Patron or something.

And for dinner that same day I made the best greek salad. I magically had all the fixings. Chick peas, cucumber, dill, lemon, yogurt, chicken, bell pepper, tomato.....

...and for my added flair I cut up and toasted pieces of Arnold's Sandwich Wheat Thin bread with a little olive oil and added the warm pieces to the salad. Opah!

Did you know Tony Orlando was Greek? Well half Greek, half Puerto Rican. He spent his early life here in New York's Hell's Kitchen where I lived for a couple of years myself. I think we watched his variety show when I was little because my folks thought he was Mexican. But I never got him much.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hot Child In the City

Those Arnold Sandwich Thin breads are saving my waistline this year. You can only go so long without eating bread. So when I need to go dough, I reach for these. They're versatile. They're cheap and if you make pizzas out of them, you can get two slices out of one.

I marinated chicken breast pieces in lemon, yogurt and then seasoned with a little Spanish paprika. I steamed the bread like pitas, added the chicken strips, kalamata olives, cotija cheese which has become my Mexican feta alternative! tomato, onion and celery. Then a nice side of arugula dressed with lemon and olive oil.

So refreshing on a debilitatingly hot summer day. Air conditioning for your stomach!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)

Another success using fresh herbs. Turkey sage and rosemary burgers. I put a ton of fresh chopped herbs in a pound of fresh ground turkey along with some bread crumbs. Kept them super simply seasoned to let the fresh essence come through.

These were phenomenal. I fried a few sage leaves for the top of the burger and just served with sweet onion slices.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll)!

A lady at work was super cool to bring me rosemary, sage and basil from her garden at home. She lives in Brooklyn too but it may as well be in OZ. Its in the neighborhood of Bayridge, a real house with a yard and a pool here in Brooklyn! Meaning she or her husband in this case has big money. She is living an entirely different after-work life than myself. Not better mind you (or at least I like to believe), just different. But it is a little strange how terribly different it must be. I wake up in a dark apartment because I can't turn on any lights being the space is so small and I don't want to wake P. I could never go into the kitchen say and make coffee since its a teeny closet right off the bedroom. She says she has a few bathrooms and space is not an issue. She gets in her huge SUV with all her modern devices and I hop on my bike with only my $10 Virgin cell phone. She has a 25foot long kitchen with marble countertops and due to space restrictions I measure my kitchen prep space and the only visible countertop to be just shy of 11 inches.

But yet we clock into that retail box at 7:55 every morning at the same time and work along side each other doing the same job. We get paid the same and we're around the same age. She's a real New Yorker, born and raised here in Brooklyn and we argue and disagree on almost everything. Still, we somehow enjoy each others company in limited doses. Anyone who's not from New York tends to get portrayed as the dumb gullible hick and I confess I envision some NYers to be heartless soulless a-holes. But she grew up in this crowded city of competing ideals and desires. I see that it makes you very territorial and suspicious. Instead of the notion that everyone is cool until proven a jerk, it seems here you are assumed an idiot until you prove you are okay. And again, another prejudice on my end but it seems NY'ers do what's best for them usually and not necessarily the right thing.
Everyday we sort of battle out not necessarily good and evil but our individual understandings of right and wrong and then we go home. Let her tell it I'm sure I'm a self righteous little creep that looks down on her. Regardless, she was kind enough to bring me the freshest herbs and I've used them in so many dishes. This one was a winner. A basil pesto sauce using chicken stock in place of most of the olive oil, almonds and Parmesan cheese. I served it over wheat pasta along with some andouille sausage and roasted whole almonds.
Who knows who's right or wrong or who's life is better. I guess the answer is neither or each but I'm happy for the life I've been given. I'm happy I'm a hick from the Midwest who gets to wander around Brooklyn and New York and pester the locals. I'm happy to be in a tiny apartment. I'm happy my mate plays guitar and writes songs instead of a high end real estate broker. But I do admit that pool sounds pretty good right this minute.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Finally, It Happened To Me...

Just like the perfect omelet, getting thinly sliced potatoes cooked to the right consistency has been a hardship. I under-cook them or fry them too crisp. I even had this conversation with my dad when I visited. He also had trouble so I felt better because after my mom, who was the original master, I look to my dad now for food secrets, along with my sisters. Its impossible to know how to cook everything but when you can't do simple stuff, its a bit embarrassing. But that's the funny part. I can't cook most of the simple stuff well..yet. Those dishes can be the hardest.
Anyway, I finally got the potatoes right, in part due to this website, where they give you that one key tip, to lower the heat and cover the pan for ten minutes at the beginning, which is something you're afraid to do with potatoes lest they get all soft and mushy. But since I like starting out raw like the mother in this site, you need to give them time to cook and I believe that's where I had gone astray before.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel

Went to Alma Restaurant in Red Hook to experience fantastic Mexican food and to enjoy the amazing view of the city on the roof deck. This being one of those major hottie days and before the sun went down. When the hostess warned us it may be an hour wait for the roof, we quickly agreed to eat indoors. The comfort of the cool air-conditioning quickly gave us sweet relief and confidence in our decision. We were celebrating P's brother's birthday.

M is a brother in the church. He is continuing his studies now, going further into the brotherhood and I guess ranks. Not sure how it works but his next step is to continue studying theology in France. Not too shabby. If anyone deserves or you wish them to have, a blessed life, it's M. He is truly a pleasure to be around and as he ages just a tiny bit, I start to feel more of his essence. Almost as you would a beloved character in a story book. He has a joy about him that is contagious and being around him always makes me feel better.

When I was a little girl right around the first years of school I somehow got the outrageous notion that I was some kind of an angel. Not exactly an angel myself but perhaps I had lived amongst them? But let's be clear, not a regular person. Don't ask me how or where the idea formed I just know that from before I can remember I 'knew' that God had sent me down to live with humans to be a kind of 'helper'. I had the sense I had been here before but this time in another type of body, a little girl. I'm not sure what I was to help to do, or who I was to help. I was just convinced that I would know when the time came what I needed to do. With this came responsibility to keep a very low profile, thus my shyness. Staying humble was always at the top of the list. And I believed it so much that I would get a little scared in church that perhaps I'd get 'outted' should someone recognize my powers. The fact that I had no powers did not deter me from owning my gift. On the school bus I'd ride sitting in the sunlight listening to Motown or the Doobie Brothers, maybe Old Black Water would be on for example because thank goodness even though we were in Catholic school, we still had cool hippy bus drivers. But so anyway, suddenly I would feel myself becoming luminous in that seat. That there was a presence speaking to me but not in the normal way. An unearthly exchange of sorts. A Divine touch that gave me such instant assurance. As if someone looking at me could almost see God through me. I laugh now (albeit nervously) almost in disbelief but I'm here telling you that its the truth! And there really wasn't a cut off time where I stopped believing it. I just maybe never mentioned it again. Am I a nutjob? Most likely. I'm not sure what it was all about, although I have some theories. And the story goes on but basically this is but one of the oddities of my childhood. I told P this story and through the years we've sort of made fun at my expense.

But you know I look at M sometimes and I catch a glimpse of God I think. Not that I think he IS or he's channeling him but I see something that I can't quite describe but I know that its origin is very, very good. Familiar to what I felt as that young girl where every part of my body, soul and mind felt fully blessed right at that moment on that bus listening to those songs with the light breeze blowing through my long, probably ratty, dirty hair.

The food at Alma was incredible. Each bite a sensation and we didn't miss that view one bit. My Poblano Relleno was stuffed with just the right amount of slow cooked pork, raisins and green olives with a roasted tomato sauce that was out of this world. The rice! The rice was some crazy but oh so-right concoction baked, with tomato, chilies and cheddar cheese. The Tres Leche cake was faultless and needs to be recognized. The mole enchiladas...I'm speechless. Not to mention P's steak on that fajita platter. Everything was underplayed and yet so over the top good.

Friday, July 6, 2012

I Got That Feelin'!

Sometimes I can't 'do new' at all. Like I'm too timid to just try my own thang as it were. Other days I just sort of get right to it with no delay. I had a great idea for chicken chile-lime soup floating around in my head at work and without even much thought I got home, went in that kitchen and made it happen. Most chicken soups are good so I'm not saying I was taking names or anything but this was some unaccustomed flavors here somehow.

A freshly-made chicken broth, poached chicken thighs, rice, potatoes, carrots, cilantro, diced tomatoes, lots of lime juice and just enough chili powder to give it a back throat kick but not give your nose the runs. You know what I mean? The amount of heat was correct. So it was like a slap and then a pet stroke. A slap!...and then a pet stroke.

One of a Kind (Love Affair)

Need a fresh idea for ground turkey? How about these Asian Lettuce Wraps with a stimulating sauce that takes it out of the weeknight humdrum and into weekend flavors! A recipe from Melissa D'Arabian. I remember her from that Top Chef competition show and she had some good stuff definitely. I really love this sauce especially. It makes everything come alive. Of course I add more Srirachi sauce because I love that heat.

Aside from loving the flavor and affects of peppers, I also like to bring it into a dish in order to slow down my eating time. If these wraps were completely free of any heat, I could easily eat three within 20 minutes without blinking.

With the spice and more intense components coming into play, you tend to take your time and really taste each bite. You allow everything to take effect and give you that little pop. You also then tend to take a moment before the next bite. This all works together to make it a better eating experience for me. Peppers are my friends with benefits!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

It's, It's, A Small Room Blitz

When a girl awakes alone on her day off, like me, I usually drink too much coffee and then end up eating some bizarre concoction for lunch in a hurry, like a can of tuna over noodles or a cold tortilla cheese roll-up.
But sometimes I like to get into a short order cook mode and get down for like 5 minutes in my tiny kitchen. One skillet and lightning speed. On this day it was turkey sausage, onions, two sunny-side-up eggs with provolone cheese and tomatoes on top.