Tuesday, September 27, 2022

What's New, Probably I'm Boring You

When I shop for food while my husband is gone, I tend to try odd bread, like this rectangular flax stuff that I didn't get to until his arrival back.  Fun food should happen with this, I thought.  Like most of my food ideas, they come on the spot, starving, standing at the stove trying to come up with something that sounds better than take out.  I waited to eat way past hunger so this BLT & egg roll up appeased breakfast and lunch, as well as the satisfaction of a hot meal but also that of a crisp salad.  It was light like a snack, so I made two, one with egg, one without.  Turns out, this is Lavash bread and it's actually meant to be rolled.  I guess we're not the Einsteins we hope to be. 

I was thrilled to hear that Ina Garten was self taught and never attended culinary school.  Don't get me wrong, I am no Ina Garten and have no illusions.  She made a career, had goals and is very successful.  I'm more the Tommy Chong of cooking. But knowing her story, I more easily accept my cooking expedition and it even makes sense to me.  After I stopped drinking years ago, I desperately needed something that I could immerse myself in, intimately.  It would need to be ongoing, daily and involve creativity and freedom.  It had to be satisfying, like my relationship with alcohol.  So preparing food, inventing dishes, taking pictures and writing about it all became a form of therapy I suppose.  I could die tomorrow knowing it was time well spent that didn't hurt anyone or cause my liver to fail.  At the very least, I can say I am able to fill one basic human need.  

Saturday, September 24, 2022

It's Hard to Believe but It's All Good

I woke up on this day off feeling sorry for myself. It happens, nobody's perfect. For hours I saw no way out of the doldrums.  It was as if all the fresh had been sucked out of the air.  Nothing could be done. Other than ordering a take out Turkish lunch special, that is, from Deniz Restaurant.  What is in that white rice to make it sooooooo dreamy? How soothing is their yogurt sauce poured over the smoky chunks of chicken, especially paired with the slightly sweet hot sauce condiment? Surely some added french fries could only help this blues situation ruminating in the noggin.  Slumping down into the loveseat with a big iced lemon seltzer, a dumb movie, and bed pillows, eventually, I was able to shut down my mind enough to just breathe.  For several moments I saw how wonderful it was to relax and enjoy the day alone in a clean apartment, with lit candles, no real problems, other than a weary soul.  

Thoughts come flooding in seconds later.  This time, trying to rationalize;  Some other girl in an apartment across town has everything, including a better job, loads of friends, amazing hair, cooler shoes and lots of money to travel.  But then there is a gal, down the road further feeling alone, perhaps without a job.  Her hair is the least of her concerns.  She's down and out, worried about money.  That girl is not able to call and get this special lunch delivered to her door.  There's so many girls in this city.  Another suffers from MS in Manhattan, and never complains about it.  There is another who takes care of her husband with Parkinson's while trying not to get killed by her son with schizophrenia.  We all know people less fortunate, with harder lives.  Suddenly I'm over wrought with guilt for conjuring unnecessary despair upon myself.   Why is the hardest thing to believe sometimes is that you're just fine?   

Friday, September 23, 2022

In Heaven, Everything is Fine

When P goes away, I run straight to the lab, which is my kitchen to invent the next world-class pasta dish or at least a new one.  This time, taking liberties with the famous Carbonara recipe, that combines egg, Parmesan, Panchetta or Guanciale and lots of black pepper.  My idea used sweet Italian sausage, red pepper flakes, garlic and spinach, and the usual eggs and Parm. Simple perfection is not an easy feat.  This was good, but not spotless, like the original.  Maybe mushrooms could replace the spinach, which proved too slimy a texture after the egg mixture. Flavor-wise it was missing just one element that would give it that faultless cream-like silkiness. I will go back to the test kitchen and attempt again in hopes of finding the missing link.   
As we all follow the new crime waves in our towns, you have to wonder what exactly is the reason for all of these incredibly random, individual, specifically morbid acts of violence?  What are we missing in recognizing the possible cause of this sudden influx of social terrorism.  

If I was a better writer I might spin a tale of the government using our homeless, mentally ill and destitute population to breed fear into everyone. All these faceless nobodies that we can't trace and no one seems to ever do follow up stories on. Coupled with the pandemic, and our growing internet addiction, naturally we will feel less safe leaving our homes, nor will we want to.  Look how much changed in just two short years. 

I would write in an elite run psychological conspiracy plot to dumb us down to the point where all media becomes fake, the world wide web is replaced with propaganda and our incomes become so low that only the 1% can survive without complete reliance on the government, who is also a pawn for the aristocracy.  In the meantime those holding all the power will develop robots using black ops money to replace 99% of the workforce before they implement permanent Marshall law.  I'm still working out how they will eventually try to wipe us out entirely or if they'll need to harvest our organs first.  I bet this movie has been written.  

I would like to somehow include an alien presence but instead of a doomsday ending, I would create a mass consciousness shift of all the most repressed, where despite having nothing they realize they are already everything and lack absolutely nothing to live free in a new way, in a new dimension.  The evil ones who chose to remain in the material world will find not one morsel of joy to feast upon or buy, yet will be unable to die, as they developed endless life by artificial means to their own detriment.  Doomed to remain sentient robots basically until the end of time.   This will become hell on earth.  Did I mention there will be heavenly food in the new dimension.  Real tasty stuff! 

Thursday, September 22, 2022

My Own Little Nasty World

Lantern flies all over the dang pier in back of work. They only look cool when they spread their wings and you see their polka dots along with the brilliant red colors. But the government says to squash them on site.  I took some time and stomped on about 6 before I felt sick in my gut.  Aren't they killing all the trees or spreading disease or something?  I couldn't even remember why they're so awful.  Rats are germ spreaders but I would never kill one in the wild.  I went inside and reasoned with myself as to why I just felt it necessary to take 6 innocent lives. 
Another renovation project along the Gowanus Canal
A quick Ground Turkey Puttanesca Sauce over linguine noodles.  Puttanesca, meaning, in the style of the prostitute.  If that translates to pungent, spicy and bold, then hand your money to the pimp and give this gal a whirl, because she's worth it.  Any excuse to use anchovies, garlic, red pepper flakes, olives and capers, I am down for it.  It's my dream sauce but I add ground turkey for the texture it brings.  And turkey doesn't impart it's own flavors, only absorbs the sauce, which makes it a great meat for this.  Try this recipe for this slutty pantry pasta! 

Sunday, September 18, 2022

I'm a Hot Girl, I Do Hot Shit

After a morning walk and another treat of a Mom's Migas breakfast from King David's Tacos at Blank Street coffee, we noticed preparation for a major grand opening celebration.  The Slutty Vegan had closed up the entire block of Fulton, a major thoroughfare and had dressed tables, a kiddie bouncy house, DJs, press tents, and a NYPD presence along with a street-wide sized sign.  This was set to be a major affair.  A long line had formed starting very early and it became clear that this was not the owner, Pinky Cole's, first rodeo.  After researching, this was her 7th opening, already having much success in Atlanta and she is set to open 20 more locations by 2023 years end. 

She went into the old Broccoli Bar location.  This has been several restaurants over the last 10 years, including Not Ray's pizza who finally moved two doors down.

Chicken and Potatoes braised in pickled jalapenos
A few yards away, in my tiny kitchen, I was doing some experimenting of my own.  This will become a great dish invention the next time around.  As I've shared, its fun to Mexican-ize recipes, replacing ingredients to theme them differently.  As is the case with this developmental Mexican take on Chicken Scarpariello from Sip and Feast. I used jarred pickled jalapenos instead of Cherry Peppers, along with the brine liquid.  In my next trial, I will replace the sweet Italian sausage with Chorizo.  The variety of peppers will come from the Southern border and the flat leaf parsley replaced with cilantro.  Already, this was divine in it's original form.  Braising in the hot garlicky, vinegar liquid creates a sassy punch that transforms everyday chicken into something special. 

P at the opening ceremonies posing with all the hotties. Hilarious!

I'm sure Ms. Cole has also put her own incredible sass on her creations and I cannot wait to try them based on the online menu pictures.  Great ideas like this do not happen every day and her commitment to introducing vegan food is done with such flare and what looks like massive flavor washing, how could it fail?  I'm not sure I'd call it healthy, but she made Vegan food a thousand times more appealing for starters. She's bold and single-handedly and unapologetically, sexualized the vegan burger.  That in itself is a major feat. 
picture courtesy of Eater

Saturday, September 17, 2022

And When I'm Sad, You're a Clown

Herby Shrimp and Avocado Taco Salad
For the amount of money you pay for a bag of 19-count shrimp, you can get way more chicken, pork or turkey. But we're Americans and we need our variety.  In that respect, it becomes a good idea to throw shrimp into the mix for your weeknight meals.  In the heat of September, a spicy, wilted, herby Mexican taco salad worked quite nicely.  The avocado chunks made it more filling and Cotija cheese, chips, cilantro, red onion, tomatoes along with romaine lettuce were all mixed with a tangy lime dressing. 
Variety is the spice of life they say.  So you can imagine my shocked to hear that my twenty-something coworker had never even heard of variety shows, the iconic staple of our nightly diets in the 60's and 70's. He never heard the name Carol Burnett or Flip Wilson.  For that matter, he didn't know of Gilligan's Island and all the famous after school TV shows from that era.  Imagine never knowing the Brady Bunch references.  Of course, why would a young man from an immigrant family know these things but it explains why half of my jokes are lost on him and why he often stares at me as if trying to decipher meaning from my television culture rants.  I Loved the Variety shows of the 60's and 70's, so much that you could say they raised me. A latch key kid calmed by Cher eating ice cream out of her freezer in one of her more personal sketches and later appearing in full Indian feather attire belting out some cover song.  These moments pulled me out of my fear of being alone in the dark and into their world of vivid color.   There was comedy, skits and musical guests! Not just any guests either, these were top of the line artists like The Jackson Five, Tina Turner, David Bowie.  Medley's became famous, when you could hear snippets of the hits in one awkward, rushed number. The country shows had players like Waylon Jennings, Linda Ronstadt and Bob Dylan.  Yes, I would very much love to see Janis Joplin do a duet with Tom Jones, thank you very much!  All of these delicious memories and this poor kid carries not one of them inside of him.  

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Mr Blue Sky is Living Here Today

Sip and Feast's Italian Meatball leftovers with sauteed Swiss Chard.

That morning a quick stroll opened up a world of just-the-right-size $5 breakfast burritos from Blank Street Coffee's new location on Lafayette by King David Tacos.  We sat and ate them at Fowler Square and realized, the neighborhood is finally picking up a bit.  Things are opening again and filling all the empty shuttered businesses from the pandemic.  These tacos were like the first buds in spring. 

Little did we know what was to come on the corner in regards to culinary delights.  The Slutty Vegan grand opening was approaching and that proved to be more like a giant Nor'Easter that would slam the neighborhood in the best way.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

We'll Have a Dance of Liberty

Rigatoni with Italian Meatballs
I used the recipe from Sip and Feast for these Italian Meatballs and cooked up a bright marina sauce to go along.  I have never made a giant pot of Sunday gravy, like all the old school New York Italians, but aspire to someday should I ever have more than two people in my apartment again.  While selling kitchens I often come across a customer that expresses the need for enough space to store her Sunday gravy pot.  This warms me to the buyer and I enjoy helping real cooks set up their new digs. 
These real Italian Meatballs were next level using real Parmigiano Reggiano, parsley, garlic, eggs and soaked bread crumbs.  I couldn't help but add a little grated carrot to the sauce and balls.    

When I was a kid growing up in the Midwest, I used to say I was Italian because I was ashamed of admitting I was Mexican to some of my prejudice pals.  Also because I wanted to be Italian from what I witnessed in movies and food. It felt like a better fit for me.  If spelled differently my name could be Italian, so it worked out, for a very short time.  Kids have silly notions and need to learn for themselves just how screwed up their ideas can be.  At that time, I saw no value in being Mexican, as it seemed to be be the kind of thing that could get you beat up or at the least harassed.  And it was and it did, but every kid seemed to have their own cross to bear, whether they be poor, abused or ignorant in my neighborhood.  The stupidity was equally distributed in other words.

climbing trees in Brooklyn

Castro's Breakfast in the garden
Food brings people together, whether it be a giant plate of meatballs and rigatoni or earlier that day, a plate of breakfast chilaquiles or Mexican scramble from Castro's Restaurant on Myrtle, it is much easier to celebrate and taste the benefit of our differences in our delicious food creations.  
Later my husband told me the kids used to call their Italian friend, Pepperoni, so you can't win.