Monday, November 15, 2010

Mistress Fahrenheit

MOOD: I want to make a Supersonic Salad out of you!

"I feel alive and the world it's turning inside out, yeah!
I'm floating around in ecstasy,
So don't stop me now, don't stop me
'Cause I'm havin' a good time, havin' a good time!"

I wasn't going to write tonight, but after a great run on the Dreadmill listening to Fabulous Freddie (Queen, for those of you who live under a rock) and hammering out some food presentation ideas, I felt like sharing. After my sweaty run, I prepared a yummy rabbit's dinner of weeds with feta cheese, carrots, pear and my left-over balsamic vinaigrette. I feel overwhelmingly healthy right now and clear-minded. What makes this moment the best is that my crazy-haired, musically-inclined 14-year-old son and I are bonding over the song structure of "Bohemian Rhapsody" and what an amazing and unique band Queen is/was.

Another blissfully domestic evening spent sitting at my banquette listening to music and obsessing about food, but tonight I'm romancing myself with a grass-scented candle as I write to you, my lovelies. What's missing? For many of you, it would be a full-bodied glass of red wine. However, after years in the food industry, I have not developed a palate for wine, beer or champagne. I'm no teetotaler; I like mini I have TRIED to like wine. I have gone to tastings, served it, cooked with it...try it time and time again and continue to do so even though it all tastes the same to me and makes my belly burn. I WANT to love it. I really, really do. My body, on the other hand, refuses to play nice so here I sit with plain water. I gave up my Crystal Light artificial sweetener habit a few weeks ago after Kate's constant nagging, er uh, concern, about how it might kill me - but more because of the possible bloating. I have to work hard to keep my junk tight (ok, just not TOO much like jell-o). Doomsday is EXACTLY a month away.

I am always amazed how the simplest recipes can produce such delicious results. So, here is the Balsamic Dressing recipe from the other night. I love the way balsamic vinegar can catch you off guard and make you hack up a lung!
3/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 C Balsamic Vinegar
1 shallot, minced
1/4 t salt (For your reference, t = teaspoon, T = Tablespoon)
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

Kate and I just talked about my Turkey Day menu. This year will be my first organic turkey purchase since I just heard that the store-bought frozen turkeys can possibly be frozen from last year - or who knows how long. I am also trying this newfangled thing called delegating. I'm trying to learn how to give up some control and allow people to help but it is not an easy task. She's got the green beans and sweet potatoes. I think more of the problem is that when it is at my house, there are just things I like to eat a certain way and if I don't make it, I won't get it. "Sure, you can bring the sweet potatoes" and then still make them? That's a little rude, huh? But, as far as the dishes are concerned, my friend Tony will be on wash duty, as usual. He swears he doesn't mind. I think we should all take a walk after dinner, weather permitting. I'll save the menu for another day. I don't want you drooling on your keyboard. Slán go fóill!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

To Tweak or Not to Tweak....

MOOD: hot chocolate & A Fine Frenzy - One Cell in the Sea

Really? Awake at 6am on a SUNDAY MORNING? After staying up until 1am after my hour nap at 4pm? Mark it down friends, as this is, indeed, a rare occurrence and dare I say...against all that is proper and right in the world. I a NOT a morning person, although I secretly desire to be one. I want to drink hot chocolate (coffee is for baking in my world) and do smart things like grown-ups do in the wee hours of the morning. I also desire smaller calves and to love running, to stop being salty with my last overtly selfish ex, and have an anonymous donor pay off my bills because I am a nice person...but you can't always get what you want.

When I get really pumped with a new idea, my mind becomes consumed with researching and implementing ideas. So, I woke up with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head for future blogs well before anyone should be awake on a lazy Sunday morning. Well, maybe Kate ( would be up for a crisp run, but no one else. Ok, maybe my busy-bee-sweeter-than-honey habitually industrious momma is up. For me, however, my day should not legally begin before 10am. After conventional means of getting back to sleep failed, I got my crusty-eyed foul-breathed naked self out of bed in hopes of purging this food for thought down the blog toilet. Can I bottle this up and save it for the impending writer's/cook's block?

Last week, after my decision to start my catering business, I decided it was time to start cooking all the recipes that I have been collecting for over a decade but have never cooked. A previous year's resolution to satisfy my intense need for organization was to put all these recipes in a tabbed binder and surprisingly, despite my defiance against wishful and rarely realized intentions, I actually did it. The second resolution was to cook one new recipe a week. Big surprise, didn't happen. My new venture has changed that lack of dedication to these masochistic tendencies. Of the times I have cooked new recipes, I have been sorely disappointed and either trash it or tweak it.

Ergo, spinach and brie-topped artichoke hearts from Simple recipe, takes no time to prep but costly to prepare for the result. The recipe calls for frozen artichoke hearts (which run just under $5 for an 8oz box), spinach (the least expensive ingredient with some lemon pepper), and brie (at least $7 for a wheel). I am a huge fan of MOST things mini and held high expectations for this little take on a spinach and artichoke dip. Sadly, it was reminiscent of a Boca Raton Early Bird special. I would suggest using jarred marinated artichoke (or fresh if you have the time and energy) hearts and a stronger cheese as well as garlic in the spinach mixture. Most of them were thrown away and I am unable to offer any redeeming words about the recipe except that it was easy breezy to prepare. Now, I do have a killer recipe for spinach-artichoke dip that never disappoints!

Other menu items that evening: Dijon-Wine-Marinated Roast, Garlic Cream Cheese and Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Carrots & New Potatoes (yes, 2 kinds of potatoes - was using up the last of the bag for our Vegan guest), Steamed Green Beans, Mixed Greens (with feta, carrots, red pepper, and green apples) with Homemade Balsamic Dressing, and French Bread with Garlic Compound Butter. I will start out by saying that red meat and I are not the best of friends; I almost always do a less than stellar job cooking it. Good thing I eat it no more than once a month. One friend told me slow is the way to go, so I decided to cook the rump roast for a longer period of time after searing it to seal in the juices. Hours passed and the house was filled with the aroma of cooking bloody flesh and garlic, convincing my senses that it would be drool worthy. My friend Tony came over to watch football(eeew) before my guests arrived and, thankfully, was able to help doctor the tender but well done meat by adding more broth to the drippings and soaking the meat in this wetness, then making a gravy to help mask any dryness that was not successfully disguised by his attempts. My mashed potatoes (affectionately referred to as death potatoes) are embellished with cream cheese and a huge crowd pleaser (bring your dairy pills, that's all I'm sayin'). I recently enhanced them with garlic compound butter but found that idea may have been a one-trick pony - it may have been TOO much. There, I said it. Sometimes, you can over-complicate a good thing. Carrots were al dente whereas I prefer them soft, roasted potatoes were fine, green beans were crisp. In the midst of the meat emergency, the garlic bread decided to take a visit south and become Cajun. It was banished to the front porch for the duration of the evening. Highlight of the dinner was Kate's caboose of super light and much too delish Chocolate Mousse with Cayenne Whipped Cream (idea: cayenne sour cream stuffed new potatoes). We laughed about how we've seen mousse spelled moose on a restaurant specials board. Much to my dismay, two dishes of the mousse were left behind and I had to put them out of their misery over the following days. What a shame.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Need to Feed

I'm hungry. However, I'm completely unmotivated to cook anything right now and nothing sounds good; not even the Greasefest bag of fries served in that fancy brown paper bag from the diabolical Five Guys joint conveniently located only five short minutes from my pad. The leftover mac & cheese that my kid just warmed up in the microwave smells like stank-ass feet and my faithful standby - Simply Jif peanut butter on white bread - is a half-eaten crusty disappointment precariously perched and ready to jump to its death from the container of chicken and rice soup I took out of the freezer a few hours ago. Those red-headed step-child boxed strawberry cupcakes sitting on top of the stove (disclaimer: my "Little" wanted to make them and I wasn't smart enough to send them all home with her) are begging to be left behind at the gas station and the homemade cream cheese icing is nothing more than putting lip stick on a pig. Meh.

Recipes spread out in front of me, glass of my weekend-treat-sweet-tea by my side, tunes on rotate on my CD player (yes, I am almost 40 and no, I do not own an iPod. I have a Zune but it doesn't hold enough and I need new stereo equipment or a docking station to make it work...and BTW, "Something" Beatles cover by Musiq Soulchild is lovely), my broke-down kitty chilling on the kitchen banquette (best seat in the house and every one should have one, picture to follow one day) with me...I've decided to start a blog. A week ago, I had a mini-epiphany that I should cross over to the sinister side of food service once more and start a catering business. I want to put yummy things in your belly and clean up after you. This is my lot in life and I humbly accept it with gratitude and a few cartwheels.

For years now, I've had friends tell me I should be a caterer and I've talked about going into the business with some old 505 friends before my move to the 303. I'm not a chef and have no intention of becoming one. I'm a decent cook and can be a better one and have much to learn; I know good food and I know not so good food. I'm happiest in the kitchen and have peed in the corners to claim Turkey Day from anyone in my circle - I have minor control issues when it comes to food and am very critical about my own cooking (and yours too but I won't judge you out loud). I'm organized, understand the business, and I know people, what they like, and what works. My world kinda sorta revolves around food, so Captain Obvious has declared that this is the next step on my path toward true happiness. For the first time since discovering my interest and talent for Kitchen & Bath design, going to school, and starting my own design business (shameless plug:, I feel like the veil has been lifted and I get to make out with Mr. Perfect before my long-awaited deflowering.

Now, I am not currently working in the design field since my move from the 505 in June 2009 and the annihilating economic down-turn. Instead, a job fell in my lap after my move to Denver; I was eagerly solicited by a previous boss to return to work for an outdoor advertising company I worked for in NM years ago. Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially since so many people were out of work, I accepted with the intention of leaving within two years. It's been one year thus far and I am ready to scratch my eyes out! This isolating, dead-end, soul-sucking desk job in a non-descriptive porn-set office with white walls and no window does not bode well for this passionate little cracker. The creative beast demands her tasty little morsels.

As a follower of this blog, you will be subjected but not limited to: occasional or frequent word vomit about food, cooking, baking, and catering; etiquette; and the successes and failures of my new venture while being mildly to intensely entertained with my wishfully wry and somewhat perverse sense of humor. You will be required to indulge my penchant for run-on sentences and improper use of punctuation. I welcome recipe requests or exchanges and sharing humorous stories about your experiences with the food industry. Oh, and I found something to eat - my single serve Häagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream. Now I want those fries.