Thursday, November 29, 2007

I can't think of a punny title with garlic and spices after going to the gym at 6:30

Last night for dinner The Pedant and I enjoyed a pasta primevera concoction (and will continue to enjoy it this weekend) and had stuffed zucchini from the vegetarian slow cooker cook book. They were quite tasty (and I will enjoy them for lunch today!) but it lead TP and I to discuss that this cookbook, although quite tasty, should be renamed "The Moderately Spiced Vegetarian Slow Cooker Book." Each recipe is delish but often is just lacking in spices. And, we even add way more than necessary. For instance, for a recipe that serves 4, the zucchini stuffing called for one clove garlic minced. Now, I ask you, is it 4 vampires? 4 people worried about bad breath? 1 clove of garlic is NOTHING. I added 4 cloves of garlic and it still wasn't garlic-y enough. (Ed. Note: The recipe was called "Zucchini Stuffed with White Beans and Pesto" and we kinda overlooked that when it called for fresh basil and fresh parsley and just used dried. But still, dried herbs are usually more potent than fresh herbs...and this isn't the first time.) So, we may just make emendations to this cookbook, always.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I've been on the quiet side - mostly because I don't get as much web time at work (but it's super quiet now) and I've been too tired to post in the evenings.

Food wise, The Pedant has done a good job explaining all my sentiments. We went back to a local Chinese place this weekend and found out that, so far, it's been consistently fair. Granted, it's been 2 times in total, but that's enough. Their cold noodles and sesame sauce was interesting - spicy (good) but "soupy" (bad).

I've been reclaiming my love for sweet potatoes. They were on sale at the supermarket this week and for lupper (I'm working the late shift tonight) I had one with apricot jelly and honey. In college, I ate them often (Harley's suggestion). I will use the other two for sweet potato "fries" for dinner this week.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Onions in the Slow Cooker

Updating today to tell you about my attempt to create stuffed onions in the slow cooker. The recipe called for hollowing out onions (a process that made the kitchen seem like riot suppression had gone on in there) and filling them with chopped onion, shiitake mushrooms, and breadcrumbs mixed with a variety of Asian sauces, then left to cook in sauce diluted in water.

It was edible, but odd, probably because the recipe called for the use of hoison sauce in too many places. I think using Soy Vay Teriyaki instead would provide a less cloying flavor. Also, chili paste should be added to the stuffing; that would give the dish a little more flavor.

The Sherbs made a lovely and tasty spinach egg drop soup; that we're making again, with little to no variation (maybe some tofu and a few more veggies).

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Stuffed to the Gills

I have eaten. Probably too much.

Let me not recall the gastronomic excess of today - it would be familiar to most celebrants of the holiday, except for a selection of wheaty Belgian beers and some espresso vodka - and go to a happier time, two days or so ago, when the Sherbs and I made a vegetable bread pudding in the slow cooker.

It was very tasty; basically it was soaking bread in pureed white beans, then slow cooking them. How could that be bad?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I forgot to post yesterday about the best article I found in this month's Men's Vogue (yes, I am a subscriber) - how older Spanish oxen make tasty, tasty beef. Made me hungry all the way through.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Foods I Should Not Eat

Men's Health (typical article: "better abs for better sex") has an article on the twenty worst restaurant foods in America. I have eaten far too many of them, or equivalents at other restaurants.

While I'll always be a fan of the Amish vanilla pie (basically a pile of sugar in a pie, like a pecan pie without the pecans), this nutmeg-maple cream pie sounds decadently delicious.

As I am having Thanksgiving with House Sherbs, there will definitely be more ice cream than one could possibly stand. That'll be a bonus.

Monday, November 19, 2007

More Chinese

Yesterday the Sherbs and I went out with my parents to Canton Cafe, which my father calls the "Chinese Frog Restaurant" for its penchant for serving a multitude of frog dishes, and my friend Isu-kun calls the "barbecue pork place" for his (and Al's) penchant for purchasing pounds of barbecued pork there.

"Oh look, frog congee," was the first thing my father said on being handed the menu.

We did not have that. While it was dim sum time at the restaurant, most of the diners in our party were not interested in experimenting with dim sum, so we only got some char siu bao and taro cakes, plus some desserts with sesame paste and red bean paste. For our main dishes, we got Hunan beef, eggplant in garlic sauce, and fried tofu and vegetables cooked in Chinese casserole style. Very tasty.

Sherbs and Pedant Have Foolishly Allowed Me Access to Their Blog


Actually, despite the anonymous display name I'm the Pedant's sister, and almost as fond as he of trying new foods.

This weekend was my first foray into slow-cooked meat. I am not a huge fan of cholent, so instead I made Boston Baked Beans with Brisket. I made it in the oven (in a pot, although I would really have preferred to use stoneware. Sadly I could not find a 6qt baking dish that wasn't le creuset, and accordingly, $3 million), which I prefer to a slow cooker, as I don't trust slow cookers. If they turn off in the middle of the night, you, and your 8 guests are screwed.

Being my first foray, I also made chicken schnitzel (baked not fried) which was pretty good, as I made the bread crumb spice mixture myself (matzoh meal, rosemary, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, and basil).

The Brisket recipe is as follows (courtesy of Joan Nathan and my mom):
1 lb navy or kidney beans
3 lbs brisket of beef (I used 2, as they were only selling in multiples of 2, and 4 sounded like overkill)
1 sliced onion
1 tbs mustard
1 tbs salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups boiling water to cover (I found this insufficient. If you are making this Shabbat-style, I'd use 4 cups, at least)

1. wash, pick over beans, put in a bowl, cover with cold water, soak overnight
2. drain beans, cook (slowly) in a saucepan, covered in water, for about 30 mins, or when the skins burst
3. drain beans, put in a 6-qt casserole with lid. Add brisket of beef and onion. (She doesn't say to mix it all up, but you probably should)
4. Mix up everything else and pour it on top.
5. Add 2 cups boiling water, or enough to cover-- if you are only cooking for 8-10 hours, if you are cooking it overnight, then add 4 cups.
6. Place into preheated 225 degree oven.
7. Leave alone.

I also added some eggs (wash the shell and then just toss them in there) because I love slow-cooked eggs. They are pretty good, and if you don't like them, you don't have to touch them. It was pretty darn good, especially with fresh baked challah.

Since I was feeling adventurous this weekend I also made broccoli, potato and goat cheese soup. It started with a trip to the farmers' market (which I adore) where I bought 1 lb broccoli, 1.5 lbs butter golden potatoes, some Brussels sprouts (for roasting, not for this recipe) and a cup of hot apple cider, which was pretty much awesome.

I made the broccoli soup by browning some garlic in oil (in the bottom of my 3qt pot), tossing in the cut up broccoli and sauteing briefly. Then I covered it with water, and used the immersion blender until it was pretty smooth. I added peeled, cut chunks of potato, salt, pepper, and a little mushroom soup mix, and left it to cook, covered. When the potatoes were almost done I blended them with the immersion blender. I served it hot with a dollop of goat cheese tossed in. It was sooo good, and actually not bad for you at all. I suggest it as an easy first course for winter.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Immature Snickering Will Live Forever!

Two big announcements:

1)  I am blogging this from the Sherbs and my new iMac!  Fear its mighty 20" screen and being far cheaper than the equivalent Vaio we looked at!  

I did not yet get an iTouch, but I likely shall, because the name is mildly dirty and every time someone buys an Apple musical device, Steve Jobs gets his wings.  He's like some sort of über seraph now.  

2) We saw Beowulf in 3D tonight, which was not exactly worth the extra for the 3D experience; getting a sword pointing right at your nose three times is not really "3D."  Neil Gaiman saved the story so the movie was not super-stupid; instead, it was mildly better than the Thirteenth Warrior.

Having previously seen a painfully not-campy production called Beowulf: The Rock Musical, the refrain of which has Beowulf singing, "my song shall live forever," the Sherbs and I could not help but snicker childishly in this movie every time someone told Beowulf how long his song would last.

Friday, November 16, 2007

New Job, New Foods

My lack of blogging is relatively unacceptable, although I did begin a new job this week (yay) and have less time to access personal Internet during the day (so this is what the real world looks like...).

the job is fun and the people are fun and the cafeteria has cookies. I passed them over for a new obsession: trail mix corner. Basically there are Ziploc bags, and for about $.30/ounce you can gt your choice of: yogurt pretzels, chocolate covered raisins, chocolate covered peanuts, Japanese trail mix, American trail mix, and one more I can't remember. This plus our candy drawer might just be my down fall. Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Open, Balcony!

Our apartment balcony was officially open as of noon yesterday, so the Sherbs and I went out with some demi-sec champagne and some Splenda oatmeal cookies to celebrate. It is surprising how well Splenda cookies go with champagne.

At any rate, our balcony is huge and awesome. When the weather is tolerable, it kicks much butt.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Assorted Yucks

According to the blog Slashfood, Paula Deen advocates sandwiching industrial canned cranberry sauce around a mix of hot sauce, mayonnaise, and cream cheese. Paula Deen has officially one-upped all who would parody her cooking as fried butter in lard.

Went to a Lebanese restaurant last night; the Sherbs and I thought it was nice, but one of us got sick afterwards, so there won't be a review from me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Little More Regarding The Next Iron Chef

In part because you don't really want to hear my thoughts on Win a Shot at Love With Tila Tequila, except that Ms. Tequila seems to dress anticipating the need for an emergency application of Vicks VapoRub to her sternum. Since she lives in the sunny part of the West Coast, I find this dress code odd.

As for the Next Iron Chef, while others have thought the challenges were America's Top Chef lite, I actually found the competition better than Top Chef. For one thing, we weren't treated to endless and irritating scenes of the competitors having to live together in some dorm. In fact, all the competitors, even in the challenge where they were instructed to screw each other over, were relatively collegial. The "atmosphere of hug" was refreshing.

Also, I thought the challenges were better-tailored to actual Iron Chef-ing; think fast, deal with the wacky situation and various food failures, and nobody steps in mid-way and changes the rules (a stupid tension-increaser used all too often on Top Chef). My favorites were the "resourcefulness" challenge, where the competitors had to cook two dishes in an hour on a cheap barbecue grill using mostly random items chosen for them by another competitor, and the challenge of assembling airline food.

My only gripe is that, despite the Chairman unsheathing a katana and playing with it during the opening and commercial breaks, we really didn't get to see him do anything cool beyond that. If you're going to have a martial arts star around, you should use him.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Food, Cookies, Dogs...Oh My!

OK, so I did promise The Pedant I'd blog, but my computer is very, very sick and TP's computer doesn't like me, but luckily I live in a fancy schmancy building with an internet cafe.

So, food wise, I will contribute information about the fantastic dinner TP and I had Sudnay night:

Raosted Garlic Bread
Cheese (Cheddar, Swiss, Gouda, Havarti)
Green Apple

It was amazing, although today my stumach is telling me "no more lactose! Stop it!! I want a break!"

Also, part of the amazingness was that we dined in the middle of The Next Iron Chef Marathon, culminating in the win of my favorite, Michael Symon. Very happy. Also, I finally got to see the DeLaurentiis/Ray battle, further proving I love Rachel Ray.

In non-food news, I volunteered this weekend with BREW and got to play with the world's second sweetest beagle, Prince (last one on the page). He was a cutie. I also was dog sitting in DC which was fun for a dog lover like me.

Food news: Jello 60 Calorie Pudding Cups, Chocolate Mint Fudge (or something), fairly tastey, but not quite minty enough.

Tomorrow I begin a new job with a cafeteria. I'll see if they have cookies.

Eat Next

There will be many posts today, as the Sherbs and I had a heck of a weekend with many bloggable activities. But this post will be about the Chinese restaurant we went to yesterday.

We went to Eat First in DC's "China block" for lunch; we picked the name because we were hungry in advance of our journey to the National Geographic Museum and therefore agreed with the sign's audacious call to food. The dishes varied from "meh" to "pretty good"; we had:

1) Cold Sesame Noodles - sadly, these were "lukewarm udon in sesame-Jif sauce." This is pretty common at Chinese restaurants (moreso outside New York). The sauce was far too peanut-buttery, and while it's hard to hate Jif, it's not exactly what we call Asian.

2) Sauteed Lotus Root with Preserved Pork - An awesome dish; my favorite of the meal and a strong showing of food in general. While I like nearly every edible part of the lotus plant, my favorite is the crispy lotus root, which is also quite attractive when sliced, making plating easier.

In this dish, lotus root, straw mushrooms, carrot, celery, and sliced preserved pork, all stir-fried. Had a delicious smoky taste; would order again.

3) General Tso's Tofu - one of the best "General Tso's" sauces we've had in a while; this one actually had spice to it. The tofu wasn't too breaded, so it was less heavy (and hopefully heavier) than many other renditions of the dish.

It was a good meal, and so Eat First should be on your list of acceptable (although not ridiculously cheap) China Block restaurants.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Alternate Future Evil Twin Time!

The Sherbs and I, taking advantage of Netflix, watched two movies last night, which together I call "Queequilibrium." We watched one because Helen Mirren won an Oscar for it; the other because it's one of America's Favorite Neuroscientist's favorite movies, plus it has Christian bale, the Sherbs's longtime love from Little Women.

One was a little too slow; the other was too slow, very stupid, and did not have enough fight scenes of sufficient butt-kickitude (where's Chuck Norris when you need him? Endorsing Huckabee!), so I will describe their plots as one film:

Helen Mirren plays a quasi-religious government official who feels no emotion. After a particularly traumatic incident, she learns the joy and pain of feeling, and changes the role of her office as it is understood.

Sadly, I would rather see Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II doing the "gun kata," the Equilibrium writer's lame excuse for why Christian Bale can stand in the center of a room shooting over his shoulder while surrounded by other people with guns and not get hit at all.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Fear the Mighty!

I thought you should know:

Despite the elections this Tuesday, the iron reign of Zurn continues unabated.

The Sherbs actually looked this up before I did; I am too capricious to follow up on these things.

All hail Zurn!

I'm a Pepper, You're a Pepper, Blog a Pepper...

I haven't blogged about Dr. Pepper recently. So here's a post.

The Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco, Texas has a shiny new website.

I'd provide new drink recipes, but other than variations on the Flaming Dr. Pepper (which uses no Dr. Pepper), there aren't any popping up on my Google Alerts. I am, for some reasons, getting links that, from the URLs, appear to be of videos of men having sex with other men. I am not sure why Google thinks this is related to Dr. Pepper. "Dr. Pepper makes men gay" is a googlenope.

Okay, that's not entirely true. I did find this recipe supposedly for "cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper" which involves no cherries. Just amaretto, which is almonds and apricot pits in liquor.

The recipe also calls for vanilla extract. Who are you that you're so desperate for hooch that you have to use vanilla extract instead of one of the eight brands of vanilla vodka out there? I know a fair-sized bottle of Stoli Vanil can be had for not that much money.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Fancy Food, Part 2

I agree with most of what The Pedant said about the fancy schmancy restaurant (well, it wasn't so fancy schmancy in attire and looks as it was in prices...). I did find everything to be a bit too oily, but that's because everything was sauteed/grilled/swimming in oil. But oil's good for you, yes? So it was fine.

The Ravioli was really superb, I should reiterate that.

Also, finishing up a meal with Amaretto and a chocolate crepe with nutella filling is amazing. Just superb. Yum!

The Treif You Crave

I'm sure by now you've heard of the winner of the annual White Castle recipe contest; you know, the woman who put chopped-up steamed hamburger bits in the root vegetable celebration of the victory of crazy fundamentalist Jews over assimilation-forcing Greek-wannabes. Hey, how many holidays do you have from the Apocrypha? I thought so!

Of course, the first thing I thought of was, "there's a White Castle recipe contest every year? Who knew?" And there is. According to the rules, the next deadline is July 13, 2008. The web entry form is found here. You take ten burgers and turn them into some non-burger food. Winner gets more burgers than he or she should ever eat; although, since the last time I ate at White Castle I and a couple other stupid people bought a box of 100 burgers, moderation doesn't really come into play.

Awesome Restaurant in Excruciating Detail

QueenofPink77 and I do not agree about most things on the Food Network, but we do agree about Sandra Lee's general uselessness.

But enough about that, let me tell you about the fabulous dinner the Sherbs and I had last night. We went to Cucina Vivace, which we picked out of the three Italian restaurants on the street because it was cold and I needed to use the bathroom, so we didn't want to cross the street, and the Italian restaurant next to it was a pizza place, and we were looking for classy.

And boy, did we get classy. Let me describe the food I ate, in order:

1) Crostini with white beans and anchovies. The restaurant gave these to us for free because we were clearly not just confused and stopping in for a bowl of spaghetti, we were buying into their $50+/per person ethos. The Sherbs, as she will tell you, does not eat fish, so I ate both. They were delicious. The white beans were perfectly buttery, and with just a hint of anchovy and garlic.

2) Roast bulb of garlic, covered in olive oil. Dig out a caramelized, squishy clove and enjoy. It was simple, but tasty.

3) Gnocchi in cream sauce with pancetta. The Sherbs doesn't eat meat, either, so I ate her pancetta. It is hard to make bad gnocchi in cream sauce. Cucina Vivace did well; it wasn't too heavy.

4) Sweet potato ravioli. Served with plenty of pine nuts. The Sherbs and I shared, and I thought it was fantastic; I could have had it for a main course. The potato was creamy and delicious.

5) Roast pheasant in pepper and fig relish, served with fried triangles of polenta and pureed parsnip. A little too much pepper in the fig relish, and not enough going on with the polenta, but otherwise masterfully done, and at least a four for plating. The parsnip was very tasty.

6) Bread pudding with mixed berries and creme fraiche. Delightfully eggy and not too sweet. I had it with the only dessert wine they sold by the glass, which was a mistake; I should have taken my cue from the Sherbs and had it with amaretto, which matched the heaviness of the pudding better.

It was an excellent meal, and we'll totally go again when someone else is paying for it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I guess it's kind of silly to say "UK blogs are making a fuss about rarebit," since the whole concept began in Wales, but the Guardian has a picture of a particularly cheesy example, with links both the Guardian's own rarebit and a UK foodblogger's attempt at same (with delicious pictures).

The rarebit recipe looks pretty darned tasty, especially on some brown bread. I wonder how it would go with canned brown bread, a food I have not eaten since childhood. It was awesome in its 50's-style futurism; the bread is a cylinder, because it's in a can! It lasts forever! It tastes vaguely sweet and metallic!

Also, smaller rounds mean more servings, or for use in our home tasting menu.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cereal for Lenin

I've bought some new purportedly healthy cereal: Special K with Red Berries. It's Special K, Kellogg's version of Total, with astronaut strawberries.

I call the cereal "Communism," now; it started with my being pointlessly McCarthyite and calling it "Special K with Communism," and that just got shortened to "Communism."

Freeze-dried strawberries rehydrate interestingly, so after the super-huge Costco box is expended, I may not get it again. But it's not bad; just not as good as Honey Bunches of Sugared Grain.

But, for the moment, if my breath smells like wheat and freeze-dried strawberries, I've been eating Communism.

FYI - "I've been eating Communism" was, until this blog post, a Googlenope.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A Bone to Pick

I have a bone to pick with vegetable sushi. Now, I understand sushi is chic and very hip and therefore can be costly. Fine, I get it LA, you want us all to be uber thin (<begin tangential rant>I'm still ticked at the stupid body issues talk Tyra gave to her girls on America's Top Model (it was a fluke, there was nothing else on and The Pedant and I needed to digest a lot of Halloween candy pre-gym), I mean, c'mon, yes the industry is ridiculous, but as TP reminded me, Spain has set minimum weight requirement on models - Tyra, use your pull and do something not let the girls be teary eyed and then throw up their salad! <end tangential rant>) and eat bite sized portions based on Japanese fancy cuisine, but $5.85 for 8 pieces of brown rice avocado sushi?! C'Mon guys! This is VEGETABLE. And RICE. Not fish that needs to be very fresh and cut well. Ok, I did get the dish at WholePaycheck Foods, but still. I find it frustrating when VEGETABLE sushi is more than $2.00 for 6 rolls.

I may make "I have a bone to pick" a reoccurring topic when I need to rant. Like, "I have a bone to pick with slow service." Ala dinner last night. Yes, TP and I settled, mostly because I had to pee pretty badly, but still the service was veeerrryyyy slllloooowwwwwww. Pick it up a notch guys!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Novels and a French-ish Restaurant

I am participating in National Pretentions to Literature Fad Month. Here's my NaNoWriMo profile. I will not talk about my novel as I need to get it out of my head into the novel, not into the blog.

Anyway, went to a cute French restaurant in Farragut West tonight with the Sherbs. It was called Cafe Soleil, and it was fair. The French onion soup was workmanlike, but not great. It's easy to make merely okay French onion soup, and they did.

The entree, a "seared duck salad," was really a "grilled duck noodle dish, served lukewarm with a token amount of field greens," but was okay for all that. The duck was well-cooked and tasty, and the noodles were in a good sauce if you unspooled them from their little pile and let them get into the sauce at the bottom of the plate. There were too many peppercorns as garnish. I am against food garnish that you're not supposed to eat, and unless you have an appetite for pepper like Cruella DeVil from the original 101 Dalmatians novel, it's too many.

Dessert was an okay chocolate cake with a too-heavy chocolate mousse topping. Toffee saved it, despite it being on a drizzle of apple and lemon syrups that looked pretty but did not taste at all right with the dish.

All in all, not worth the $25/person as we are no longer eating in New York.