Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dunzo.

"Dunzo" is a term used by my other favorite co-worker. When she is SO over a boy, she is "dunzo". At the end of a particularly long day, she is SO "dunzo". When the workload seems overwhelming, we are both totally "DUNZO".

And as of today I myself am completely "dunzo" with Stop & Shop. If I can help it, I will never shop there again. It's just not worth it to me anymore. I get a better deal at Russo's. Heck, Whole Paycheck is a better deal, go figure!

I bought fruit, veg, cereal, milk, yogurt, tea, and a few other pantry items and my total bill was $85.

EIGHTY-FIVE DOLLARS
.

I almost choked. And then I double checked my bill. Yep. $85. What a rip-off. I didn't even buy all organic, or all brand-name. Just regular crap.

The other reason to finally drive me away was the woman monitoring the self-check and making mean commentary about the various customers in the checkout lanes. I don't expect anything but professional courtesy from anyone in a service position, but to be so expressively mean makes me never want to go back.

Two weeks ago I went to Russo's and spent less for more, and even though fighting the crowds makes me completely mental, at least the staff there is mostly pretty friendly.

Yeah. I am SO "dunzo" with Stop & Shop.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Where vegetables go to die.

I lost an onion in my car somewhere and OH MOLY HOLY my car stinks!

Seriously, it smells like a corpse. I cannot find the onion anywhere. It's making me not want to drive anywhere. And I swear I can smell it from here.

And before you ask, I KNOW it is an onion, and yes, I really did look EVERYWHERE.

Barf. Seriously. Barf.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What a bunch of watercress....

Any suggestions on what to do with a bunch of sad looking watercress? And I don't want to make salad. Because you don't win friends with saaa-laad.

Finally!

So basically I can't ever go on a diet. Technically I am on Weight Watchers because I've paid up for three months, but you know I am not much of a counter. And I am totally a point bullsh*tter. As far as I am concerned a whole chocolate cake only has somewhere around 4 points. Right? Right!

Well as it would turn out the only way I am able to lose weight is to only eat what I cook from scratch. With the exception of pasta, which I buy, I only eat bread & sweets that I make myself. The Electric Dough Hook bread recipe makes me enough bread to get through the week, and a slice or two of ginger cake is very satisfying.

I make all my lunches, and most of my dinners. For breakfast it's yogurt & fruit, or if I am running out the door it's tea and toast. I've been packing lighter lunches, mostly veg and as a result I am losing about 2 pounds a week. I haven't really been too great about regular exercise, but I am definitely going to get back on that bandwagon.

The weight loss is really a bonus and I definitely feel better the less I eat refined foods. Not that I don't love Hostess Cupcakes and Girl Scout Thin Mints. It's just that they don't love me the same way back.

Ah, story of my life!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dare I say it? Yes I do.

Farewell Prize-winning noodle kugel!

No longer king of the Most Emailed list, it would be as if we hardly knew ye, only the flame kindled on, and on, and on, and on.....

Denial. Not just a river in Egypt my friend.

I hate being sick more than anything else and I can tell that I have been fending off a full blown flu for 2 reasons: 1) I've had a sore throat that ranges from wildly itchy to a mild throb in a matter of hours, and 2) I've stocked the fridge with food that is actually good for me.

This weekend I made bread and ginger cake (with tons of ginger) and soup with leeks and spinach. I also made roasted white bean and feta dip, and roasted golden beets and also a very nice tomato sauce. I also have lots of fruit and some yogurt to sooth the scratchy throat.

With the exception of the bread and the ginger cake, I packed as much garlic into everything as I possibly could. I've also been eating one clove of raw garlic before bed and I've been taking those Emergen-c packets twice a day in a little hot water. And I've been going to bed early.

The downside of so much garlic is the gas it gives me. I am pretty sure one of these farts is going to set my pants on fire. But, uh, at least I won't be sick. Or completely sick anyway.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Why I am here and not there.

Instead of being crapped out on the couch right now, I am supposed to be over at Masa trying out the new menu and drinking fancy tequila.

I was invited to a tasting dinner and up until about about noon I was ready to go. But then the wheels fell off the bus - every bit of my body began to ache and the pressure in my head began to build. Which is why I am now at home, drinking very hot tea and eating toast slathered with butter and molasses while my face defrosts from the walk home.

I will say though that I am really bummed out about not being at Masa. Granted I am not a fan of the .50 cent mussel, but I AM a big fan of their margaritas. In fact I occasionally get the worse craving for salt and tequila, and Masa is where I go to slake that thirst.

So boo, boo hoo hoo. But really, it's better I am on the couch right now.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I made bread.

It is the Electric Dough Hook bread recipe from English Food. Yes, right now I am obsessed with this book.


On the left are the two loaves, fresh out of the oven. I quickly rubbed them all over with a nub of butter to give them a nice sheen. The fruity loaf on the right is the Fruit Tea Bread, another Grigson recipe. I once had a slice of a fruit tea cake at the Waterford Crystal cafeteria in Waterford Ireland. Ever since then I have often find myself in the kitchen with some mixed peel, a pot of cold black tea and a prayer that THIS time I will finally recreate THAT fruit tea loaf. Not this time :(



Fresh out of the oven. Wayyyy too hot to cut, but I did anyway.


And well after the loaf cooled down.

I am very happy with how this bread turned out. The crust is crunchy and the crumb is tender, just the way I like it. The recipe was unbelievably easy - I mixed it up and left it to rise this morning. I went out for a few hours and when I came home I punched it down, sorted of kneaded it a little, formed it loosely into roughly two loaves, and then let it rise again for about 45 minutes before popping it in the oven - 450 for 30 minutes.

Easy and good. Just my kind of recipe.

Cookbooks that work. And those that don't.

I have a ridiculous number of cookbooks. I get them at yard sales, at the Goodwill, at used book stores, online, from friends, I steal them from my Mom and from my Grandpa, and from the NEMBF.

I have at least read through all of them and have come to two conclusions about myself: 1) I am more likely to cook from a book that reads like someone talking to me, and 2) I am less likely to cook from a book when the recipe looks terribly complicated. What can I say? I am easily turned off by too many of fractions.

Another conclusion I have come to is that there are some books where the recipes will never work for me. Ever.

For example, I have never been able to get a Nigella Lawson recipe to work for me. I will still buy her books because as annoying as she is on tv, she is perfectly gorgeous on paper and she's good for ideas. I found out about black cake from Nigella, so I can't really hold anything against her. But nothing I've cooked from her books has worked out for me, and I have tried a bunch of her recipes out of three of her cookbooks.

The Art of the Tart by Tamsin Day-Lewis is another recipe fail for me. It is a book that I find useful for ideas and for the pretty pictures, and not even that so much any more since I lent it out to Sassy Mo.

I own the French Laundry cookbook. It was a birthday gift to me from the Evil Twin's best friend. For some years now I have flipped through it, but you know what? I've never actually cooked anything from it. Everything looks quite complicated and I get tired just from reading the recipes. But I still read them, because I cannot help myself.

Other recipe fails come from the Alice B. Toklas cookbook (yes, I bought it for the hash brownie recipe and no, I've never made it.), Diner Desserts by Trish Boyle, The Artful Cupcake by Marcianne Miller, An Alphabet of Sweets by Marcel Desaulniers, to name a few from the sweets shelf.

As for the savory recipe fails... well those are less memorable because I am a little piglet and will eat anything so long as it hasn't either fallen on the floor for longer than the five second rule, or is completely scorched and unpryably stuck to the pan. I guess the savory tarts from the Art of the Tart would be considered recipe fails since they didn't work out for me at all. The doughs never worked properly and the fillings were bleh.

Well, so now what are the cook books that work? Laurie Colwin has never failed me. From black cake to ribs, she has never done me wrong. Through Laurie I found out about Jane Grigson's English Food and so far the three recipes I have made from that have worked exactly as described. My mom gave me Jacques Pepin's La Methode and La Technique both of which I go back to them almost as often as Mastering the Art of French Cooking One and Two. The Moosewood's Simple Supper is reliable. And if anyone takes away my copy of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison I will julienne them fast than you can say "chiffonade".

In an ideal world I should get rid of about a third of my collection.

But the reality is that I cannot. I enjoy reading them - the recipes, the recipe preface, the lists at the beginning of what you ought to have in your pantry and what you should have for equipment. I want to know where recipes come from, when they were first made, their evolution to present form and what their relevence in the culinary world is at present. Why do we still have Fluff and cotton candy, but chowchow has disappeared from the table? How come steamed puddings fell out of favor? These are things I wonder about at night. And I feel reassured by the fact that I have all these books to look those sorts of thing up in.

So for now the cookbooks stay.

Including the entire Time-Life Foods of the World collection. For real.