Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

Better the next day

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving gluttony, I thought it might be important to get back to basics.  I have been altering this pasta salad recipe for the last few weeks, because I think it might be the most delicious food I have ever “invented.”  I am basically turning into your Italian grandmother.  Now, bundle up and consider this.

Like a family reunion

Measurements are, fyi, purely guestimation.

  • 3 uncooked C of pasta, boiled as usual
  • 2 C of bean assortment (any will do!  go nuts!)
  • 1/4 C of white onion, diced
  • 1/2 C artichoke hearts, diced (marinated or otherwise)
  • 1/4 C sun-dried tomatoes (in my heart, I want to tell you to go all out with these, but they are expensive, unless you have a dehydrater like we did when I was a wee one.  In which case they are expensive only time-wise, or if your child is something like I was and keeps stealing them off of the racks while they are dehydrating.)
  • black olives, chopped

“dressing”

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs spicy/dijon mustard (I accidentally used ball park mustard yesterday and was worried all afternoon that my salad might taste like a hot dog, but it did not.  Have no fear.)
  • healthy dose of oregano, basil and pepper (salt is extremely unnecessary)

Mix ‘em all up and refrigerate.  Like most things in my life, this salad is better the next day.  If I ever write an autobiography, that will probably be the title.  Yields 4-5 servings.  If you are not afraid of tuna, I suspect it would be extremely delicious in this.

I spent a good part of my long weekend being tired and, as usual, a little sad, but also a good part was devoted to Alice Munro’s new Too Much Happiness.  Munro doesn’t need praise from me, so I will just say instead that a few stories from this book coincided nicely with the reading I have been doing lately on memory and its effect on older adults (this naturally is juxtaposed with public libraries, and my dear idols at StoryCorps, but that is neither here nor there).  The story “Child’s Play,” while not necessarily a happy remembrance, jogged something strange in me every time I read it.  At a time when I am worrying more than ever about losing hold of stories I’ve been told or stories I might tell, a work of fiction like “Child’s Play” (as well as the title story) have this daunting ability to  frighten and confuse a reader like, well,  me.  This shouldn’t be a discouragement.  Munro is a force to reckon with, and these stories left me somewhat hopeful (again, this isn’t about her, or the world, or something, this is about me) that someone somewhere is remembering something.  I am not 100% behind this, as far as Munro’s compilations go, but the title story alone is almost enough for this book to stand on.  I want to recommend that story to every person I know who is familiar with her writing.  Because it’s unlike her, and it’s strong (which truly isn’t at all unlike her), and it is inspirational.

Also, school is almost over, which means my life is starting to look like this again:

suburbs 136Ah, to be thankful for Tina Fey, and dogs, and new warm hats, and quilts from grandmas, and other comforting things.  I need a hug.

A food I eat constantly

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Enough people have asked me for this recipe that it’s time to just post it.  It’s from La Dolce Vegan! (the teal book), which has continued to impress me with amazing salad recipes for years & years.  Also my favorite cookie recipe is from here.  I usually find Sarah Kramer extremely annoying but she is lower key in this book, which might be why I am so willing to peruse it often and make tasty goods like this quinoa black bean salad.

Dressing:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp flax/hemp oil (I omit this.  Who needs this much oil?  Not me.)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder (if you are like me, this isn’t enough.  I dump at least a whole tsp on this guy.)
  • 1/4 tsp salt & pepper
  • Additional note: I add a butt-load of cumin.  Cumin is the tastiest spice in the drawer and I put it on just about everything.  It is a necessity on this salad.

Salad:

  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 can of rinsed black beans
  • 2 green onions minced (Go all out here.  2 isn’t enough!)
  • 1 large tomato chopped
  • 1 large celery stalk chopped (Again, go all out here.  The more the crunchier and therefore the better.)
  • 1/4 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 avocado chopped
  • 1/4 C. cilantro chopped
  • 1/4 C. frozen corn niblets (The recipe calls for frozen corn, but you know what, it’s summer and gorgeous ears of corn can be found just about anywhere.  Just boil one yourself and cut the kernels off, like I used to do when I had braces & couldn’t eat corn on the cob.)

Directions:

Cook the quinoa.  While it’s cooking, stir together the beans, onions, tomatoes, celery, green peppers, avocado & cilantro in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, stir together the oil, vinegar, chili powder, salt & pepper (AND CUMIN!).  Once quinoa is done, remove from heat and stir in the corn.  Let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.  Remove lid & let quinoa cool.  Add quinoa & dressing to salad and toss together well.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

This makes a ton of salad.  It will provide you with leftovers for at least 4 meals (unless you have an eating machine bf like OMC.  Then you will have leftovers for, like, a tiny snack.)  It’s still summer, guys!  Eat like it!

When cuteness isn’t enough

Friday, May 1st, 2009

I had been meaning to read Miranda July’s book No One Belongs Here More Than You for the better part of 2 years. I really like Miranda July. I thought her movie, Me and you and everyone we know was supremely adorable and terribly funny and it made my heart ache for hours, and I think that she herself is supremely adorable. She also wears super-cute clothing, and rumor has it, if you write her a letter she will write one back to you. All of these things seemed to say to me that her book would be full of wonder and pandas hugging and rainbows and sparkles. They also seemed to say that she might actually create something enjoyable and good.

Color me the fool.

I should have known from the reviews on the back. I really should have known. Dave Eggers loved this book. Dave Eggers is my mortal enemy (he doesn’t know that, though) and I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN that if he loved it, I would hate it.

I don’t think Miranda July is a bad writer. I actually think she’s a strong writer (I read a review somewhere that described her writing style as “fierce”–maybe so, and wouldn’t Tyra Banks be proud?) who isn’t quite there yet. There are a lot of sentences in this book that are hilarious and that I want to capture and wear as a necklace for all time. At the same time, there is a lot of total garbage. Do you have any friends who constantly say uncomfortable things just for the sake of being uncomfortable? Just for the sake of making you squirm in your seat? I have friends like this, and an uncle too, and while I fully appreciate artwork that freaks me the fuck out because I am so nervous, I cannot honestly stand 16 short stories with only two repeating themes: pedophilia and incest. A lot of her writing verges on vulgar, which is also fine and dandy. Maybe this is just July’s type: awkward and nervous and uncomfortable. Okay, great–three or four freaky, creepy stories would be fine in a collection like this. Can we maybe, just maybe, try to break out of this? I hate to go back to Ty-Ty on this (actually I LOVE IT), but honey, you’d be in the bottom two over and over again for showing the same damn pose every challenge. Do. Something. Different.

I have read countless glowing reviews of this book, and I really don’t get it. I liked one or two of the stories a great deal. She has many great thoughts that seem to just go nowhere. Saying something just to say it, if you will. I can’t excuse this, though. I think July is a wonderful filmmaker and, from what I’ve seen, a gifted artist, but are we excusing her book just because we already know she’s talented? I refuse to do this. I will not let this slide by because she’s adorable. Nope.

I read this book in under 36 hours (it’s kind of skimpy in length and I also have a lot of free time this week)–this might have been my problem. I recall reading one story from this collection in the New Yorker two years ago and really liking it. Maybe I can’t stand the shuffle of one story that’s not unlike another story I just read that’s identical to the story I’m about to read sixteen times in a row.

I honestly wouldn’t recommend this book to anybody. I would suggest maybe an excerpt or two to devoted friends who won’t judge me for recommending such total garbage to them. It’s depressing to think that so many people loved this book, and give it as gifts, and carry it around, and probably quote it in their fiction classes. If I hadn’t already known Miranda July’s work, I never would have given this book a second thought when I passed it at the library. If I hadn’t enjoyed her movie, I never would have finished it.

Can we stop passing cuteness off as talent? Say something new. In a new way. And I will love you for all time. Forever.

Let me hear you sing.

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

My very sweet, hunky & oft-mentioned manfriend (OMC) summers in Panama and a myriad of Central American countries. This sounds more exciting than it is. In reality OMC is an archaeologist. And digs up pottery shards and puts pictures of white-tailed deer in his dissertation and talks about the emergence of hierarchies in Central America. And blows me away with his genius. This means two very important things:

1) You want him on your trivia team (seriously)

2) He knows how to cook (once I mentioned that he couldn’t make sandwiches and while that is true, he honestly can cook very, very well)

I had a dumb, grumpy day yesterday, which was why I was thrilled to come home to some Costa Rican goodness on the stove. OMC whips up gallo pinto like it’s his job, and while it is simple to make, it’s insanely delicious. I think you basically make some rice (we prefer brown rice, the rice of champions), add some black beans, tomatoes, garlic, red onion, and cilantro and call it a day. I am told that OMC, when in Costa Rica, likes to eat it for breakfast. Whatever floats your boat.

gallo pinto

Dinner!

Additionally, he surprised me with Kat Von D’s new book (which I have been secretly salivating over). My love of trashy television shows is nothing new to my legions of devoted readers, nor to OMC, and thus I have already started happily leafing through it.

Post-spicy & tasty dinner eatings and a nice trip to the dog park with my beloved and extremely fast mutt, we went with neighbor-pal Andu to see Dan Higgs at Morning Glory (in Morningside, my old haunt). I am so disappointed that this place wasn’t here when I lived in Morningside. It is lovely and cozy and warm, and Higgs was a fucking maniac (which is my highest compliment) and made us sing aloud. Last night reaffirmed my love of Pittsburgh. So often I fall out of love with this place and want to claw at my face to escape, but geez, leaving the house and seeing old friends sometimes does make it all better.

Bean enjoys spring-time

Bean enjoys spring-time

Battling the common cold.

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

I am currently terrified that I might be getting a cold. I have that weird itchy throat feeling. It started yesterday on the bus. My head got all bloaty, and my eyes were burning, and I was sneezing like mad. I kicked into cold-battling overdrive last night. No way am I getting sick this week. NO WAY. It is THAT time of year schoolwise, so hello tons of papers and hello tons of patrons. My precautions consist of:

  • frenzied handwashing (seriously every twenty minutes. I am out of control and was almost incapable of using public transportation today)
  • slurping down an Emergen-C once an hour (wasn’t this stuff debunked? Why am I still relying on it? I hope the debunking was debunked)
  • crossing my fingers and eating a Zinc lozenge every two hours
  • hoping that Emma is on to something with this incredible, delicious soup (I think you are, Emma! It’s amazing! I used way more garlic than you said to, but I am a garlic-hound and it only made it more tasty!)
  • laying on the couch last night, snuggling with my dogfriend reading Daddy’s Girl (Debbie Drechsler), David Chelsea is in love (David Chelsea), Aviary (Jamie Tanner) [I am honestly Not Wild About This Book At All), the Sportswriter (Richard Ford)--I know, I'm still reading it--and watching Always Sunny incessantly.
  • treating aforementioned dogfriend with all the love I can offer her. I don't like to be all animal-hokey (okay, yes I kind of do), but I swear she can tell when I am not feeling 100%, and on those days, she snuggles me like her life depends on it. Oh, this dog. Last night she got her special, favorite dinner of: normal doggie kibble (1/2 serving), 1/4 of an apple, 1 whole carrot chopped and peanut butter. Isn't this the face of a champion snuggler?
my special dogfriend

my special dogfriend

Time will tell if I’ve escaped the wrath of the common cold. Back the fuck off, cold. I’ve got my eye on you.

Things to come

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Here in Inconsistent-weatherville, PA, sometimes the prospect of glorious spring and summer days to come is all that keeps me going, trudging through the cold. Yesterday I seriously had boogers frozen to my scarf. Gross. I like winter. I really do. But, there comes a time when I am like, “Yo, enough’s enough. Give me one day without socks. JUST ONE DAY.” In honor of this feeling (which I will likely forget the moment I start accumulating sweat in the place behind my ears where my glasses rest, making them consequently fall off), I present you with a list of things I look forward to in the months to come:

  • short shorts (I am a huge fan of really short shorts)
  • popsicles from Shur-Sav
  • farmer’s market openings & subsequent produce goodness
  • wearing dresses/skirts without tights (also pretending that I own this anthropologie dress because it is straight out of Clueless)
  • lazy days at the Bloomfield beach
  • river swimming/canoing
  • sitting on park benches for hours with my dog, reading trashy magazines
  • maybe playing frisbee (MAYBE)
  • hikes/walks/camping
  • getting frustrated with how long, hot and heavy my hair is and trying to cut it off daily
  • OMC defending his dissertation and resembling a human being again (no offense)
  • sitting on the porch for hours with my dog, reading trashy magazines & drinking good beer
  • nurturing my little potted plant babies
  • etc
  • etc
  • March Madness

Please remind me of this list in 5 months when I am bitching incessantly about not owning an air conditioner. Seriously. Link me back here?

Epic fail

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

I went to visit my grandparents on Sunday. They filled me with deep-fried goodness. French fries, onion rings, fried zucchini, fried mushrooms. On top of that, sadly un-fried pumpkin pie. I wanted to die. My body is not meant for such consumption. I am the kind of girl who would be extremely content eating sprouts and Pink Lady apples for the rest of her life. I should have been rolled home down the Pennsylvania turnpike. I was exceptionally full, and in fact still couldn’t eat yesterday. Therefore, there was no cooking in my house. Not a thing. Therefore I have no recipes, except for the recipe of self-destruction, which I am newly well-acquainted with and reads something like:

veggie burger + cheese + onions + mayo + ketchup + french fries + onion rings + fried zucchini + fried mushrooms + hot peppers + chunk of garlic + can of Coke (they don’t believe in drinking water, I don’t think) + pumpkin pie = stomach-clutching burping disgusting illness.

In book news, I finished Love Medicine (need I tell you it was great?) and started the Beet Queen (which, by the way, should probably be my middle name). I woke up at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning and tore through Adrian Tomine’s Scrapbooks, which I keep reminding myself to buy because it’s one of those “need to own” books.

I hardly ever ever ever talk about movies, but last night big brother and I went to see Wendy & Lucy and I felt like someone punched me in the stomach with a sadness punch. I can’t watch movies that make me this anxious. Yes, it was pretty, and yes, Michelle Williams is pretty much a babe and I think I’m going to have that hairstyle accidentally in about two days and yes movies about dogfriends break my heart, but oh my god, did I ever need a hug after it. Old Joy didn’t do this to me. I resent this lingering sadness feeling. Needin’ a hug. Needin’ a hug.

Sweet potato curry-Foodie February

Monday, February 16th, 2009

I eat a lot of fall-back meals, things that I make just because I have the ingredients handy (no trips to the store!) and because I know they’re fast and delicious.  I found the recipe for this sweet potato curry two years ago in an old issue of Vegetarian Times, and I had to make it, because it featured three of my favorite foods: sweet potatoes, ginger and lime juice.  Every time I make it, it turns out differently.  I don’t know why.  This is good in the winter or the summer, which I appreciate in a staple meal.

Ingredients:

large sweet potato (I use two, or three.  What the heck.), 1 tbs. minced ginger (or more, because ginger is my favorite), 1 jalapeño minced, 1 tsp. curry powder or paste (whichever you have handy), 1/2 C vegetable broth (you will need more if you use more sweet potatoes), 3/4 C orange juice, 1/4 C peanut butter, 1 tbs. brown sugar, 1 tsp. tamarind paste (here is where I sub 2 squeezed limes), 1/2 tsp. salt (as with all recipes, I omit the salt), 2 C cooked brown rice

Directions:

Peel & cube potatoes.  Sauté potatoes in medium skillet for a minute or so, then add ginger and jalapeño.  Stir in curry powder/paste, cook for another minute.  Add broth, cover, lower heat to medium-low-ish and let simmer for ten minutes.

While simmering, it’s time to make the curry sauce.  Whisk the OJ, the peanut butter, brown sugar, and tamarind/many limes.  After the ten minutes are up, add to the sweet potatoes and bring to a simmer.  Cook until the sauce thickens (8-10 minutes).  Serve over rice.

I have no pictures of this, and I know I’ve been promising pictures of the beets, but here’s the thing.  Last night, I may or may not have crashed OMC’s hard-drive.  This is a very, very, very bad thing, and in addition to maybe having fucked up his dissertation and some job letters and a post-doc application, I also might have forever lost the pictures.  So, basically, I suck.

Beets! And ‘roni! (Foodie February)

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

A lot of people I know procrastinate in the following way.  They sit down, pretend to start to work, glance around, think, “Oh.  I should really clean that _______.”  I am not this way, largely only because I’m already morosely fastidious.  No, I sit down, pretend to work and think, “Huh.  I should really make a _____ from that _____ cookbook.”  I had a ton of reading to do this weekend.  I’m talking three full-length books.  This is a lot of reading for someone in a program like my own.  Take my word for it.

I sat down yesterday, prepared to dig into the fascinating debate that is library as place vs. library as space, when I thought, “Damn.  I want to eat beets.”  I love beets because they do questionable things to my body, and also because they are delicious, and also because it’s fun to run around my house screaming, chasing OMC and the dog with “bloody” fingers.  I also love the Moosewood Cookbook, because after I eat anything from it I feel like a super hero.  Additionally, I went to the Moosewood restaurant this summer (it’s in Ithaca) and had one of the best meals of my entire life, therefore I love to cook from it in the hopes that I am, too, a cooking virtuoso.

The following is Moosewood’s Odessa Beets recipe.  You could eat them plain, or on a sammie, or stuff ‘em in a baked acorn squash (which is what I did, with yummy results).

6 beets, 2-3 tbs. lemon juice, 10 prunces (pitted & thinly diced), 3 cloves of garlic (minced), 1/2 tsp salt (I usually omit salt), black pepper (I omit this too), 1/2 C. walnuts, chopped, 1 C. finely chopped pineapple

Oven to 400.  Wrap the beets in foil and bake until tender (45 minutesish).  Rinse under cold water and rub off the skins (this will get you “bloody” fingers!  Yay!).  Grate ‘em.  Transfer to a medium sized bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix.  Chill.  Here I opted to stuff them in my squashes.  I have pictures, but I’m using OMC’s computer & testing his patience, therefore I’ll have to post them tomorrow.

Like I said, there was lots of procrastinating happening this weekend.  Thus, this afternoon, pretending to read about collections development (gag me with a fucking spoon), I thought, “Hm.  Baked macaroni would be the jam tonight.”  (I probably didn’t actually think with those exact words, because I am not as big a tool as that sentence would have you believe).  Fortunately, Moosewood has a fantastic baked macaroni recipe:

1/2 lb. dry pasta (I used macaroni), 2 tbs. butter, 2 C. chopped onion, 2 cloves garlic (minced), 1/2 lb. mushrooms (sliced), 4 C. shredded cabbage, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. carraway seed (I forgot these.  Didn’t make a difference.), 1 bunch spinach, 2 C. cottage cheese, 1/2 C. buttermilk/yogurt, 2 Tbs. fresh dill (actually, use more than that, because dill is fantastic), pepper to taste, 2 C. shredded cheddar, handful of sunflower seeds.

Oven to 350.  Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.  Cook the pasta.  Drain, transfer to large bowl.  Melt butter in large skillet (seriously, an epic skillet is necessary), add the onions.  Saute for 5 mins, add garlic, mushrooms, cabbage, (I added broccoli here too, you could add whatever veggies you want to get rid of), salt & carraway.  Stir, cover, cook ’til cabbage is limp & tender.  Stir in spinach and remove from heat.  Mix with the pasta.  Add cottage cheese, buttermilk/yogurt, dill, pepper & half the cheese.  Spread in pan.  Add remaining cheese & seeds, bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes.  Drink with a glass of beer.  Again, I’ll add pics tomorrow.

I realize I look like a little piggie, but get over it.  Leftovers!

The items contained in this entry might forever shatter your perceptions of me. And I’m okay with that.

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

When I think about why I have no free time ever, I consider the fact that I have many unmistakably shallow pursuits. A few weeks ago, I changed my Facebook About Me to say: “I’m kind of really into unicorns, trashy vampire books, obnoxious accessories, Lisa Frank and gossip. AKA: I am 9 years old at heart.” This is my About Me, people. My public face to the WORLD, or the 600-some acquaintances I once deemed important enough to be my “friend.” My sixth grade boyfriend (who I never technically broke up with, and have therefore been committing adultery on since 1996) knows that I like VAMPIRE BOOKS. Trashy ones, at that! My logic professor from sophomore year (self-proclaimed “sexy logician”) might be aware that I like unicorns. I can’t say that I’m embarrassed people know that I like Lisa Frank, because I seriously have no shame whatsoever (and Lisa Frank is, excuse the pun, frankly kind of awesome), but I am a little aghast that this is what I spend my free time on. GOSSIP. Things I should have stopped liking in the 8th grade. Pony websites! Puppy websites!

I have been both a bad blogger and reader in the past week. I took two sick days last week and laid on my couch feeling pathetic, and desperately wishing that the New Yorker that I’d left in OMC’s car wasn’t so far away (aka in the car, two flights of steps away from his third floor apartment). I tried to get back in the reading game over the weekend, but there was a lil football game occupying my time and my mind. BTW, go SIXBURGH. I wanted to get some reading done last night, but when I sat down to read I couldn’t stop touching my hair. I have any number of bad, harmful habits that I won’t disclose for the sake of preserving my integrity to anonymous readers because these habits make me look absolutely batshit crazy. I will disclose, however, that when in class and while reading, I constantly touch my hair. I twirl it into little loops and try to tie it in knots and little twisty things and I try desperately to braid it. I am growing my hair out, and am in the dangerous state of growth that I fondly think of as “mad-scientist hair,” and as a result, I cannot stop touching the new length. Then I sometimes imagine, while reading, that I’ve stumbled onto some new fabulous hairstyle that I need to examine immediately in the mirror, and as a result, well, I can’t get any reading done. I want to tell you about Plague of Doves, because it’s GORGEOUS, but I cannot stop touching my goddamn hair.

For that aforementioned football game, I made banana cupcakes with dark chocolate icing (get it, black and gold?!). I probably ate too many of them. I didn’t take a picture because my camera is dead. I need to get back in the baking game, but school + work + being shallow can be really time-consuming.

Can I add, too, that now that football season is over, it is time for some motherfucking NCAA hoops? Holy shit. I am torn in two with love for both Jermaine Dixon and DeJuan Blair. My passion for Pitt basketball: it’s out of this world.

OH MY GOD. How could I forget. My newest shallow pursuit: Gossip Girl. I have only watched four episodes, and I kind of HATE IT, but I am completely unable to prevent myself from watching it. It’s like a terrible train-wreck dressed in amazing clothes, and I want out. It’s not good! It’s disturbing and horrible! But alas, I am hooked.

xoxo,

Shallow Girl.