Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dip for Dinner

I am trying really hard to not eat at Anh Hong every night. But honestly, left to my own devices I sort of eat like a scavenger.

Tonight I made dip. For dinner. Really just another way of eating another sleeve of Saltines for dinner without feeling completely lame.

What kind of dip you ask? Feta & Roasted Pepper Dip. I just whizzed together some fat-free feta cheese, some roasted peppers, a little garlic, a splash of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Not too terrible. But I am still sort of peckish. Like for a roast turkey dinner.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Thank you FoodBuzz & other people thank you too!

As some of you might know, or not, I won a raffle on FoodBuzz a while back.

I put the free fundage aside and out of my mind, figuring I would use it to buy some fancypants new kitchen gadget, or something edible that I normally would never buy with my limited grocery money.

However the other day I got really mad at the Taliban. No, like SUPER pissed. You don't even know. I can't even talk about it right now.

But the plus side is that I figured out what to do with the fun money! I put half of it into a Kiva account. Let me explain how this all ties together:

1. I read about Kiva over on 101 Cookbooks and it stuck in my head.
2. I won bucks on Food Buzz. Yay!
3. I read about Malalai Kakar being assassinated by the Taliban on Sunday. Boo!
4. I joined Kiva to spite the Taliban. Yay female empowerment! And lots of the loan requests are for women going into some aspect of the food business. Yep - the way to my heart is definitely through my stomach.

I contributed only half the winnings because I am really not that good. Honestly, who is? Please.

But it feels GREAT to be able to make a micro loan to someone. It's not charity, it's like drinking in a pub. I buy a round, you buy a round, and so one until every one is sh*tfaced. Sweet!

So, who has the next round?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I say tomatoh, you say tamatah.....

Pretty much this has been a carbohydrate loving weekend.

Last night I had a sleepover at my friend Moet's house and I have to give her, her Hubbster, and the kidlets a big shout out because I had SUPER time chilling out with them. Moet and I were meant to run a 5k today but decided against it on account of the rain.

Moet made me lamb ragout with bucatini and it was sooooo good. She topped it with a little ricotta and some damp sea salt and quite frankly I was in heaven. Plus we washed it all down with beer from a jug. And let me just say that the Berkshire Brewing Company bottles a mighty fine ale in a growler. We polished that bad boy right off.

And then she made me French toast for breakfast. Which she dipped in crushed Bordeaux cookies. Drooooool.

So tonight when I came home I was a little disappointed to have to cook for myself to be honest.

I had a couple of tomatoes and a few peppers and well that was about it. I roasted the peppers for use later in the week, but as for the tomatoes I figured I might as well make a little tomato sauce, thinking that I would make pizza later in the week.

However earlier this week I was catching up on various blogs and came across my bloggerganger's post for Roasted Tomato Sauce. Which seemed like the perfect way to use up dem tomatas.

Let me tell you, Roasted Tomato Sauce is probably the best tomato sauce recipe EVAR!

Basically I followed Shazaam's instructions, with the exception of the oil mister, which I don't own. So the recipe is basically like this:

1. Quarter up as many tomatoes as you are going to use.
2. Put them in a bowl and toss them with a splash of olive oil, a sprinkling of vinegar (balsamic preferably), some pepper, and if you don't have fresh garlic handy, a little sprinkle of garlic powder. If you do use fresh, great! Just toss it in there too.
3. Put the whole megillah on a foil lined sheet and put into a 375-degree oven for, oh, about 30 - 4o minutes or until slightly brown and bubbling.
4. Remove from oven and put in food processor. At this point I added some basil. And whiz it all together.
5. Et voila! Delicious tomato sauce.

Ok, so some notes. I used garlic powder because for some mysterious reason I was out of fresh. I always have some garlic powder on hand for when I make popcorn. Also I also added a little chili powder in before, but now that I think about it, I think a little chipotle would have been better. And throwing in some onions was part of Shazaam's original plan, but again, I am out. But I love onions, so I will be sure to include them the next time.

It was amazing over fusilli, and unbelievably I have a tiny bit left over for pizza later this week! Nice! Thank you Shazaam!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

More saltines.

So as some of you know, my current job (which I 97% LOVE) pays me in peanuts and good will. Which means that occasionally I have to pick up a little extra work here and there to make all the ends tie together so that life doesn't fall apart completely.

Lately I have been doing a little freelance accounting. For those of you who really, really, know me - you can stop laughing right.... about..... now.

I might SUCK at algebra and geometry and calculus, but I am very good at accounting. In fact, I enjoy it. I finding soothing in someways. And it helps me to make a little extra money to pay for some of the finer things in life, like nice jeans and margaritas.

So my apologies at not updating Calamity Shazaam as much as I ought to. When I am in the flurry of data entry my foodie-ness dwindles to eating Saltines and drinking gallons of Irish tea with milk & sugar.

Next week. I promise!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sometimes the jam jells. Sometimes it don't.

Tonight I made Peach Somethingorother.

It was supposed to be like a kind of peach butter, however I didn't really use a recipe and I think I added a little more sugar than I ought. And then that extra sugar burnt a little, so now it's Peach Burnt Sugar Somethingorother

Why am I home on a Saturday night making Peach Burnt Sugar Somethingorother? Well because I have fricking roaring PMS and I am not suited to going out just now.

Not only do I have Category 4 PMS, but I have nothing to eat in the house AND I never got around to go food shopping today. Well, I didn't really forget, I was more afraid to go. Afraid that I would erupt in a roiling ugly mess of hormones and tears and melted chocolate and pho all over some poor unsuspecting sod.

Sometimes I am like the Incredible Hulk of PMS. It's..... incredible really.

Oh, yeah, anyway, back to the Peach Burnt Sugar Somethingorother.

My dad brought me some peaches from Gove Farm out in Leominster and I choppped them, cooked them, mashed them through a strainer, added some chopped crystallized ginger and then stirred in the sugar. Which after a while burnt a little.

Smells good, looks kind of goopy, tastes too sweet - but I jarred it and water bathed it anyway.

I took a few photos and I'll post them tomorrow.

Oh also I made a corn dish thing. Dad also brought me really amazing corn on the cob. I cut the corn off the cob and pan-roasted it with chipotle peppers, garlic, cilantro, and red, yellow, and green peppers.

It was pretty darn tasty, but it wasn't a chocolate fondue fountain, so I am still sort of grumpola right now.

Sad news.

The Verrill Farm Farm Stand burned down to the ground today.

I am completely heartbroken for the entire Verrill Farm family & staff.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Vietnamese Chicken Cure

Ok, ok I realize that I am a little phobsessed right about now, but seriously, you can't underestimate the healing powers of a steaming hot bowl of chicken pho.

The "allergies" that I am currently battling are almost gone thanks to Claritin and Vietnamese chicken broth
So far this week I have had chicken broth based soup from Anh Hong three nights. And I firmly believe it is why the "allergies" haven't gotten so much worse.

I highly recommend the wonton soup at Anh Hong. And their chicken pho is delicious too. And I will order both at the same time because even though it totally seems weird to have soup twice in a meal, they are both so crackalicious, you basically stop caring after the second slurpful.

Wonton soup from Anh Hong - the dark golden bits on top is fried garlic. YUM!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Just a reminder...

The Fluff Festival comes to Union Square on Saturday the 27th from 4 - 7pm.

Are you so excited? I know I sure am.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mystery item

I love this sign up on Blue Hill Ave:

Has anyone been to this restaurant? I don't know how long it's been closed, but apparently it was home of the Boston Bean Pie.

I think that the closest thing that would come to Bean Pie on Blue Hill Ave would be a bean pie from Sister Nadine's.

Or make your own.

I think I might.

Food helps

So today has been a massively sh*teous cluster-f of a day.

Mercury is in retrograde. A fun romance turned out to have been a complete sham. A bad situation at work finally blew up.

Hey, and it's only Tuesday!

Well, I don't want to complain because you know what, my life is about 98% wonderful. And made even better because today my Mom brought me dinner.

How awesome is that? Pretty terrific I tell you!

She knew I was having a dreadful day and so she went and bought me a take away dinner from Flour Bakery - pulled chicken & chorizo, fruit salad, and an oatmeal raisin cookie.

So all things considered, things are looking better already. Except for the Mercury in retrograde part. That is going to suck until mid-October.

Can't I live in a cottage and make jelly?

In particular I want to move to Martha's Vineyard. I want to move to a little cottage with no neighbors and make beach plum jelly.

I want to walk across fields in rubber boots and comb the beach for pretty pebbles and bits of shells in a grey mist and drink a glass of beer and eat a boiled lobster.

If I sound a little melancholic, well, it's because Mercury is in retrograde.

And also because a recent romantic entanglement blew up in my face, and then today I had a dreadful dust up at work that literally made me feel ill. Oh and also I think I am catching the Evil Twin's cold.

Well anyway, here are a few photos of my favorite things:

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Marmalemonade - Part Two

As you may know by now, or not, my all time favorite food writer is Laurie Colwin. I discovered her back in 2001 via Nigella Lawson's How to Be a Domestic Goddess. While none of the Domestic Goddess recipes quite worked for me, it was the Black Cake that caught my eye. Since I didn't trust Nigella's recipes, I sought out Laurie's original recipe, and well, the rest is history.

I think that I am going to cook my way through the rest of her recipes. I started with Lemons and Limes from More Home Cooking (page 22 in my version).

I agree with her philosophy that a lemon can fix just about anything. After the Christmas holidays I detox with big doses of hot lemonade and I can't imagine ever having to give them up.

So for the Lemon and Lime chapter I made Marmalemonade - a name I made up to describe how it tastes, which is a lot like lemonade. Truly this is a preserve that is worth the effort.

Colwin-Made-Me-Do-It Marmalemonade

10 Lemons - well scrubbed
4 cups of water
4 cups of sugar

1. The night before zest the lemons - make sure not to zest into the pith (the white stuff). Put into a large (8 cups or so) non-reactive pot.

2. Carefully slice away the pith (the white stuff). This job is made easier by cutting off the ends of the lemons and standing them up.

3. Slice the lemons down the middle. I usually cut just to one side of the center, and then pull out the white bit in the middle.

4. Pop out the pips. Make sure to save the pips in a separate little dish or glass.

5. Chop up the lemon fairly thinly and put in the pot with the zest.

6. Pour 3 -3/4 cups of water over the zest and chopped fruit. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup of water over the pips. Cover both dishes with plastic wrap and leave overnight or for at least four hours.

7. The next day (or after four hours) dump the fruit and water into a large saucepan. And here is the tricky part. You need to strain the pips water into the saucepan and then tie up the pips into a bit of muslin or cheesecloth and let that hang into the mix. Honestly, I just used a well rinsed out cloth dinner napkin and tied it to the pot handle with string because I never have cheesecloth in the kitchen. Or trussing twine come to think of it...

8. Turn the heat on high and bring to a boil. When it's boiling, turn down heat, cover and let simmer for about an hour.

9. At this point I got my pots ready. I washed six 1/2 pint jars and sterilized them. And left them in a boiling water bath.

Let me just state here for the record: I AM A NOVICE CANNER. GO TO THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR HOME FOOD PRESERVATION FOR PRECISE INSTRUCTIONS. Having said that however let me just also point out that it seems more complicated than it is. I promise that once you've done it, you realize that it's a pretty easy process.

10. After simmering for an hour, remove the pips bag and squeeze out the last remaining bits of liquid. I squeezed the bag between two spoons because the bag was HOT.

11. Pour in the 4 cups of sugar and stir to dissolve. At this point I added some powdered ginger for no other reason than because I thought why not.

12. Bring the heat up and boil until the temperature reaches 220 (at sea level). Here is the deal - lemons have pectin, but if you cook it too long the sugar caramelizes and the marmalemonade gets thick and sticky and gooey and dark in color. Most recipes tell you to cook it at this stage for 40 - 60 minutes, but that's a little long I think. I cooked it about 20 minutes at a gentle boil, then I put up the heat and got it to 220 as fast as I could.

13. When it gets to 220, take it off the heat, ladle into the drained jars (I ended up using 5, but better to have one more than one less), attach the lids and the screw bands.

14. Submerge in boiling water bath, cover, and boil 15 minutes. Again, let me refer you to proper directions.

15. After 15 turn off the heat, remove lid, wait five minutes, and remove to a rack. Let cool completely, but out of a draft for even cooling ok.

One thing though, at the beginning I say to zest the lemon. But you can also carefully peel the lemon (just the yellow, not the white) and then sliver the peel in proper marmalady-like shred. Which is what I did for this batch and it took FOREVER. Ten lemons is a lot of lemons.

And I think that is about it.


I made lemon marmalade today, really it is more a marmalemonade.

Please don't ask why. But at least I won't have scurvy this winter. Nor will any of my friends.

I will update this post with the recipe later, but for now, a photo:

Bubble T Zone. And another shameful pork event.

I wanted a pork chop at Anh Hong and got pork pieces instead, so I've been kind of sulking ever since.

TrietTriet and I went yesterday for bubble tea & breakfast in Dorchester and I FINALLY got my pork chop. Yay.

And yes, I had bubble tea and a pork chop for breakfast! Hooray for foreign cultural contributions!

Bubble T - Zone is on Dorchester Ave. It's small and really noisy when the blenders are running. But they offer free Wi-Fi AND they are cheap. $3 for a bubble tea.

On the left is the papaya and on the right is the green tea. Both were sweet and tasty.

And of course have cute little seal tops.

Then we went down the road to Sunrise for the grilled pork chop. It comes with a side of clear soup which I dunked a little of the rice into. Slurpalicious!

The chicken dish on the right is just stir-fried chicken with veg. Bland and apparently an excellent breakfast option.

I really promise that I will stop with the Vietnamese food posts. Eventually.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Anh Hong with Cave Cibum

This post is waaaaay overdue.

But if you know me, you know that for some reason the last bits of August are the bits when I run around like Chicken Little going "the end of summer is coming! the end of summer is coming!" and try to pack in all the summery things I'd been meaning to do for the past three months into about two weeks. .

I forget completely that I have a blog, and anyway I get awful writers block from all the margaritas that I try to consume outside before everything frosts over.


So I think it was last week, or maybe the week before, but Pam of Cave Cibum, my friend Mademoiselle Bibliothecaire and me went to Anh Hong in Fields Corner.

I have unofficially been trying to expand my Vietnamese horizons past tofu spring rolls and chicken pho. It's kind of hard though. I love pho. I really love it. I love it so much that sometimes I dream about it. Great big steaming bowls of broth with shreds of chicken and cilantro and basil and noodles and sprouts and onion, sriacha & hoisin on the side.... It's 9am in the morning and I am already drooling over pho.

You see?

Well, so anyway, this time I tried something new. We actually had the spring rolls the traditional way with shrimp and pork. Blech. The pork tasted like meat flavored cardboard. Blech. I think though that it is definitely me, and not Anh Hong, because that is just not how I like pork.

Pam had the pho. And I had wonton soup (new favorite - friggin' SO SO delicious), followed byt the grilled pork on rice with a fried egg. Let me just state for the record that I thought I was ordering something else. But whatevs, thems the breaks in life.

And of course, I took some photos. The phallic one of the pork spring roll didn't come out, so lucky you, you are spared that image.

This is the wonton soup. When I say it is delicious, I mean it is DELICIOUS. When I dream about pho, this is what I dream is for dessert. If dessert was supposed to be savory and garlicky and delicious.

Monsieur Le Fried Oeuf on dit: BONJOUR!

See, I thought this was going to be a pork chop, not pork chunks. But very good anyway.

Even better with a fried egg on top.

And afterward I took the two of them to King Do to have a look where Mademoiselle Bibliothecaire bought a bag of soft durian candy.

On the ride home she opened the bag of candy and instantly the car was filled with the smell of durian which smells like really, really, low tide in a bay, with some rotting clams thrown in for good measure.

I ate one out of curiosity and now I think I know what it would be like to eat poop. Finally when Mademoiselle Bibliothecaire and I could stand the smell no longer, we stopped at a trash can and quickly threw the rest out.

So if like last week, or the week before, you were in Mission Hill and saw the BPD Homicide department rooting around looking for a rotting corpse, my apologies. It was just a bag of durian candy.