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King Dog

April 22, 2011
King Dog likes you. But only from a distance.

 

King Dog’s favorite toys are both a ball and a beaver, the finicky fellow.

King Dog must be snuggled for 20 minutes in both the morning and evening.

King Dog hunts socks with only his senses to guide him.

King Dog is highly offended by noisy food bowls.

King Dog is flexible. He could hit himself in the face with his tail, should he wish.

King Dog does not care that you took the whole evening to prepare his vegetables, he will not eat them.

King Dog will slay the evil vacuum. He will catch that glowing red dot. And he will dig a nest on the flat chair cushion!

King Dog is too important to watch where he is going.

King Dog likes you. But only from a distance.

Tasting Vignettes: My First Weekly Feature

April 13, 2011

I finally know what I want to do when I grow up. It is my dream to be an auteur of tasting notes. It is perfect because I can drink beer and use phrases like “storming the palate” or “creamy head” and no one can say anything about it because (a) there is no such thing as a touring tasting note writer and (b) these things are generally anonymous.

The author, at home

Of course now that I’ve written those two things I’m immediately sure my tasting notes should have a byline, be compiled and published, and then I should go on a book tour and do readings while drinking the beer in question! ZOMG! I’m bursting with new-found direction!

Well, while I’m getting ahead of myself, please enjoy a sample of the work that I do. If you like what you read you can contact my agent by first becoming my agent then having an internal dialogue with yourself about how the girl could go all the way…

Dogfish Head  Aprihop
A frisky brew, the apricot sneaks up on those bitter hops telling them to get over it: it’s Spring! Let it play with pork dishes.

Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout
Rich and smooth with a killer finish of smoke and coffee. It’s like first class dinner on the Titanic (except no one dies).

New Holland Dragon’s Milk
Wait… did I order whiskey?

The Year So Far in Sandwiches

March 29, 2011

When I was a baby carnivore I did not like the things on my plate getting fresh with each other. Call me a prude, but those egg yolks were not going to get all up on my fried mashed potatoes. This separatist eating practice was the reason I hated chicken pot pie (the homemade kind). (Please note I also did not like tomatoes, bananas, or pork chops.)

Of course this just proves what the science community has been saying for years: kids are stupid.

Now that I’m super grown up and got the smarts, my favorite way to eat a meal is all at once – stacking individual foods atop one another then placing the mighty tower between bread. Here are some of the “sandwiches” I have enjoyed so far this year:

GAZTRO-WAGON
Naan-wich: wild boar cassoulet/white beans/tomato/onions/andouille sausage
Naan. White beans. Sausage. Wild boar…do we really have to do this? Bless you, oh humble servants of the yum. Bless you. Their menu changes often, as does their location. That’s just the nature of a food truck I’m told.

XOCO
Mole poblano/braised pork/wood-grilled onions/crunchy fresh garnishes/fresh cheese
Mole is the #1 reason I wish that I had an extra Grandmother that is Mexican. I must crack the secrets of mole. I made it once and was mesmerized just reading the recipe. It has about 8,000 ingredients and instructions like “toast the white bread, squish it into a ball and add to blender”. Or perhaps Mr. Bayless would like to be my third wheel Granny because he seems to have the in on stupid good mole… couldn’t hurt to ask, right?
Anyway, here is some actual information: this is the Thursday special for tortas (see how I used the correct words, I would make a great surrogate grandchild) any other day get the Ahogada or…anything because that is how good it is. If you doubt me, just check out the line at lunch. Only good food and free things creates this kind of line.

DMK
Bison Burger/goat cheese/pickled red onions/blueberry bbq sauce
When you first taste this burger you are all impressed and shit and are like whoa, what a great burger!! Then you start to get a little angry that you’ve been on this planet for as long as you have been without knowing about blueberry bbq sauce. When you realize your anger is truly sadness, you accept that sometimes life just hands you regular bbq sauce and you should be greatful that you stumbled upon bberry bbq sauce at all. Now this is about your 3rd bite and you have a big ass burger to finish so you quit being such a baby and just enjoy the damn thing.

 GRAHAMWHICH
Jibarito tacos: pork shoulder/green mango/queso fresco/habenro salsa/crispy plantains
I could have used some more heat on that mango, but – hey! plantains! The only real problem with these tacos is that I am so overly impressed with my own tacos I really shouldn’t order other people’s tacos and subject them to my ego. I’m going back for the turkey confit, though.

 CITY PROVISIONS
House roasted Dietzler Farms beef/horseradish mayo/red leaf lettuce/pretzel roll
The minute my eyes fell upon the beautiful, pink roast beef in the deli case I knew instantly how the next 30 minutes would proceed. You know the story girl sees beef, girl scours menu for a sandwich made with said beef, bonus life points are earned for the horseradish and pretzel roll, the combination causes girl to close eyes for extended amounts of time and use the phrase “oh, man” almost more than necessary. Girl writes blog and says that the reasons to go to City Provisions are only limited by the number of products in their deli.

 ELEAVEN
Nova Lox platter: wheat bagel/cream cheese/capers/cucumbers/tomato
Smoked salmon has really got it going on (Does anyone use this phrase any more?). Beautiful, smoky, delicious and accessible it is the Natalie Portman of seafood. Eleaven thick slices their nova lox, and it uber divine. Dangerously close to my office, even in winter, I feel I can authoritively say that Eleaven is consistently awesome in food stack arts.

Lentils for Bisters

March 23, 2011

I have a new favorite lentil recipe.

Of course this means I have an old favorite lentil recipe. Which does not make me uncomfortable.

I don’t remember where I originally found this but it is currently written, in pencil, on a scrap piece of paper and shoved in my Joy of Cooking book. I can tell you’re excited. Here we go:

Lentil Squash Soup

Saute, until onions are tender and translucent:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 TBS fresh ginger, minced (you can use a few good shakes of powdered ginger if, like me, you are too lazy to go back to the store. Of course fresh is better…)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pint mushrooms, sliced

Mix in:

  • 3 c water
  • 3 TBS tomato paste
  • 1 c dry lentils
  • 1 to 1 1/2 c cubed butternut squash (the more squash you use, the sweeter the soup)

Season with:

  • Curry powder (I’d say minimum 2 tsp, but I’m certainly not going to judge you if you use more. I like the hot curry.)
  • Dash or so cayenne (pay attention if you too use of the hot curry)
  • Pinch or so nutmeg (cinnamon or even pumpkin pie spice is appropriate if you don’t have straight up nutmeg)

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover, simmer for 30 minutes or until lentils and squash are tender

Mix in:

  • 1/2 c chopped cilantro
  • Salt/pepper to taste

Makes four hearty servings.

Now, I like to blend this soup because I like blended soups. Some people are weird about blended soup, which is fine, but weird. Anyway, if you also like blended soup I would suggest using red lentils because it will turn out much prettier. Also, with a swirl of coconut milk and a cilantro garnish you are on your way to earning your hostess badge.

(Ok, one more suggestion. I serve this, to myself and Joe, with a side of kale chips. Wash and tear kale/toss with olive oil, salt, pepper/spread on baking sheet and cook at 400 degrees for 15 – 20 mins/voila! crispy, healthy goodness.)

Tofu, the Other Other…Other White Meat

March 22, 2011

Oh, hello world.

Now, now world. Don’t start reciting my blogoals to me. We’re better friends than that. Though, really world, you do have a point: not posting anything since February 1 is kind of ridiculous. Especially since Restaurant Week was in February. Well guess what world?!? Restaurant Week was cancelled for me this year, do to a cripling illness. Illness, world, illness.

You know what? I’m done talking to you world. I’m now going to direct the remainder of this post to my 1 (one) dedicated subscriber (hi sister!).

If that wasn’t enough drama for one post, I have more. 

For the month of March I am a sober vegetarian.

A sober healthy vegetarian.

This is actually something I try to do each year. Joe has dubbed it “Marching”. We cut out booze, meat, wheat, refined sugar, most dairy and processed foods which leaves us fruits, veggies, nuts, quinoa, lentils, and yogurt to eat.

Then we start to exercise again.

I like to do this in March (always forgetting about corned beef and cabbage and, forgive me, shamrock shakes) because it is a nice segue into Spring. By February I am sick of winter and this makes me lazy and when I am lazy I eat things like Mrs. Grass soup and Thin Mints for dinner… for an entire week.

The real key to Marching is planning because eating only healthy meals and exercising requires a great deal of fore thought. Planning conquers laziness, exercise conquers lethargy, and veggies conquer the fat collected whilst being lazy and lethargic. It’s science.

It is all worth it though because the energy and feeling of wellness I get from Marching cannot be imitated. It is this feeling that propels me into a new commitment to moderation, exercise, and being proactive beyond the month of March…

…and straight down the aisle… and then to the caribbean.

DOLLA$ AND $ENSE

February 1, 2011

I am teaming up with my fellow bloggers/BFFmajors to engage in some tandem blogging about stuff we read about in Real Simple Magazine. Today we are discussing financial advice. If you don’t get your fix for this meaty subject from me, please, stop by Attempted Domestication and Another 20 Something Blog. Go to there. Get yours.

I do not care much for money. Or, rather, I do not like talking about it. Which is weird since I am an accountant.

I have never been particularly comfortable with public discourse on budgets or affordability, which is why some my favorite financial advice (which I am perfectly happy to discuss) is to know what you can afford. I’m not sure if someone told me this, or if I read it somewhere, or if it is a fancy way of saying “budget” but I will let you in on how I do it.

To get started one must:

  1. Know how much each paycheck brings in after deductions and taxes.
  2. Know how much is paid in bills (I count groceries as a bill).
  3. Make short and long term savings goals. (For example, this year I have a wedding and within five years I would like to own a home.)
  4. Analyze spending for a month. Know what is a consistent necessity (transport), what is an occasional necessity (new boots), what is a luxury (hello, Kate Spade), and what is a one time expense (food processor).

Important disciplines one must engage in:

  1. Treat savings like a bill.
  2. Plan ahead. Monthly and weekly plan out purchases and dining out.
  3. Check bank account daily and remember financial goals.

Since I live with my fiance, we have set up a system that makes all these things much easier. We have two joint accounts, in which each of our checks is deposited. One is for rent, bills, utilities, and groceries. The other gets savings deducted out and is used for spending. This allows us to see exactly what we have to spend, and therefor we know exactly what we can afford. No public discourse necessary.

Operation Macaron.

January 28, 2011

Some excursions onto new culinary frontiers require  knowledge of technique, research, a trusted partner, and an understanding of the basic chemistry of eggs.

This was the case when baking macarons for the first time. I liken the experience to a kingpin drug bust operation, but instead eggs you are dealing with cocaine. My reinforcement  for the evening (this is going to get annoying, I can tell) was long time cooking pal and general BFF Leah, whom I’ve know for about 13 years and have liked for nearly as long.

Macarons are known to be tricky, so I did a bit a research before hand.  I found a great four part article here, at Syrup and Tang. Well, I am assuming that all four are great base on what I read in the 1st half of the 1st two articles. I had to stop because his extensive research and knowledge were starting to make this fledgling food-blogger feel a bit inadequate. (Please say nice things about me).

Surprise, surprise we used a Martha recipe from her Baking Handbook. I am not going to list it here because you can find a babillion recipes and techniques online, and if you are too lazy to do that then baking macarons may not be for you. It was nice to have one person mixing dry ingredients, especially since we were grinding our almonds and one person whipping the eggs. I liked the technique of dipping a round (1- 1 1/2 inch) cookie cutter in flour to mark our circles on the bake pan. You then pipe the batter onto the baking sheet. I’d say these were are most trying moments; a great deal of improvisation and “batter gushing” was going on as we worked through the two batches.  For baking some recipes give a higher oven temperature (about 350) and recommend you crack the door while cooking. We went with a lower oven temperature (300) and kept the door close which yielded the hard, shiny surface we wanted. There were a few learning curves, as is the case with any new baking technique, but really everything went rather smoothly. I suspect over mixing was our problem, but they still rose a bit while baking so I can’t really complain. As far as aesthetics are concerned, they weren’t the prettiest pastries on the plate (BAM!). They kind of looked like whoopie pies, but you forgot about that once they were in your mouth… erm, when you ate them… WAIT, they had the signature textures and tastes of a macaron: a slight crunch giving way to a chewy center, sandwiching a flavorful filling.

Here are somethings that we learned:

  1. We are going to try a new technique next time, this one called for medium soft peaks and it seems like stiffer whites would work better and you wouldn’t have to worry as much about over blending the egg and dry mixtures.
  2. Just buy almond flour. Grinding almonds is inexact and time consuming. In my defense, it was all of 1 degree when I was shopping and I was not about to go in search of almond flour.
  3. Macarons are fickle and take time to make, but they are not that difficult. This holds especially true if you are more concerned about eating them than looking at them.
  4. Swiss Meringue Buttercream is the best effing frosting alive.

Ok, more on this frosting. Here is the recipe we used, courtesy of Martha. We took the recipe down by half, added about 1 1/2 Tablespoons raspberry preserves, and let it chill in the fridge for about 20 mins before filling our macarons.

Almost as pretty as it is tasty, but not that close.

Almost as pretty as it is tasty, but not that close.

Albus, the official frosting tester, approves.

Albus, the official frosting tester, approves.

I bet you are now wondering how this frosting discovery fits into the drug bust analogy? Don’ worry. I’m going to tell you.

Once all the drug…ists are hauled away and the cocaine has been weighed, you and your trusty partner of justice search the back rooms and find a dozen sleeping terrorists and the lost photos of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy.

It is that glorious.

 

Cockadoodledo Mother F*$%er

Cockadoodle doo, Mother F*$%er