Archive for February, 2009

Juxtaposition

Because I am type-A to the extreme, I was browsing for an Easter gift to send my in-laws.  Despite that fact that today, Ash Wednesday, is the official beginning of Lent and I have more than an entire month to find something.  Irrelevant.

Anyway, while browsing around various online outlets (why does Williams Sonoma have their Easter shop up readily accessible on-line but Target does not, btw?)  I had to actually search “Easter” on Target’s website.  They’ve yet to capitalize on the material aspects of this particular holiday.  But, minor inconveniences aside, I’ve decided I much more enjoyed the Target virtual shopping experience.  Because not only do they have a varied selection of adult Easter bunny costumes, they also have an adult Jesus costume.  Excuse me, Adults PLUS size Jesus costume.  (I didn’t realize there was a demand for plus-sized Jesus costumes but I suppose I underestimate the number of productions of Easter Passion Plays).   Plus-size Jesus alone was amusing.  But even better is that the very next item in the Easter line-up are none other than sexy Adult “Playboy Style” (my words, not theirs) white stilettos with a white puff attached to the heal.  Why not offer them with the Jesus costume and make it a Jesus/Mary Magdalene combo?  See if for yourself here.

Jesus comes in many shapes, colors and sizes

Jesus comes in many shapes, colors and sizes

I think these will make for an excellent (is it eggcelent?) church ensemble

I think these will make for an excellent (is it eggcelent?) church ensemble

UPDATE – PLEASE CLICK THAT LINK AND CHECK OUT THE REST OF THE TARGET EASTER MERCHANDISE!  It is full of awesomeness.   Like a crown of thorns headpiece for $11.49.  That for some reason, is modeled on a hookerish-looking manequin head.  And lots and lots of baby bunny costumes that I’m sure will lead to years of psychotherapy.

Recipe: Confetti Black Bean Soup

This recipe comes together quickly if you have all your ingredients prepared. Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly industrious, when I get home from the grocery store on Sunday I’ll take the time to prep all the things for the week’s meals I have planned. This greatly increases the odds I’ll actually cook everything I planned and am less likely to order in when feeling lazy. (I mean, if you have 3 meals that week calling for chopped onions, might as well spend 10 minutes chopping enough for all three meals at one time). After chopping everything, I measure out ingredients into baggies and prep bowls and organize according to dish. Notice I said when I’m feeling industrious – I’m not anal enough to do this every weekend, although I’m usually pretty happy with the outcome when I take the time to do this (even if it means a few extra hours in the kitchen on Sunday). Also, having pre-chopped mirepoix (or soffrito or other cultural equivalent) mixture ready makes it easy to invent stuff on the spot, like the soup I have here. It all came about because I had a big baggie of chopped carrots, celery and onion ready to go. I added the bell peppers because I needed to use them and was really happy with the flavor. Plus, everything looked so pretty in the pot while I was sautéing! Hence the name.

One more note – all amounts are approximate to taste.  I’m really wildly guessing here to give people a ballpark figure.  Use your best judgment if something seems off, especially if you need more or less stock.

Confetti Black Bean Soup

Ingredients:

4 pieces of bacon (turkey/meatless substitutes are fine; may omit entirely if you’re really boring)

2 stalks celery, finely chopped (approx. ½ cup)

2 carrots, finely chopped (approx ½ cup)

White or yellow onion, finely chopped, approx ¾ cup

2 cloves garlic, minced (I cheat and use a garlic press)

½ red bell pepper, finely chopped; plus additional 2 tablespoons finely minced for garnish

½ yellow bell pepper, finely chopped; plus additional 2 tablespoons finely minced for garnish

Low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock

1 can black beans

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 small container plain non-fat yogurt

Directions:

Fry up bacon in a large dutch oven or stock pot on the stove. Remove, reserving fat in pot. Crumble bacon and set aside. Add enough olive oil to bacon fat left in pan to total approx. 3 tablespoons. Add carrots and celery and sauté for about 5-7 minutes. Add onions, garlic and bell peppers. Sauté for another 5 minutes. (The pot looks like colorful confetti at this point, hence the name). Add enough stock to cover vegetables, 2-3.5 cups. Add beans and red pepper flakes (to taste). Bring to boil; reduce to simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes, until all vegetables are soft. Remove from heat. Stir in yogurt. Puree beans and vegetables until smooth, using an immersion blender. Or, using slotted spoon, transfer beans and vegetables and enough broth to facilitate pureeing to blender. (Be careful blending hot foods!) Leave center in blender lid open and cover with a towel (covering completely can cause pressure to build up and contents to explode). In batches, blend until smooth and return to pot. Stir to combine and simmer until heated through. To serve, ladle into bowls and top with dollop of yogurt (or sour cream). Sprinkle with crumbled bacon and reserved minced bell peppers. Serves 4-5. As with most soups, the flavor improved somewhat the next day, but I was really happy with the way it tasted right off the stove.

File under “Things I wish I had Learned Long Ago”

It’s always the simplest crap, too.  I just now learned you can make microwave popcorn using regular kernels.  I enjoy popcorn as a snack now and again (it’s a whole grain, after all) but given health concerns about microwave popcorn (which are probably over-blown, due to media fear-mongering), not to mention the loads of chemical flavorants and god knows what, I prefer to buy whole popcorn kernels and pop it myself.  Up til now, I’ve labored over the stove top, using oil, shake shake shaking the pan, etc.  Ugh.  It’s a pain, therefore, I rarely ate popcorn.

But now, NOW!  My eyes have been opened.  Did you know you can pop regular kernels in the microwave?  I didn’t til a few days ago.  It’s so freaking easy and you don’t need oil!  Just put 2-3 tablespoons of popcorn kernels in a regular brown paper lunch sack, fold over the edge a few times, and zap in the microwave for 2-3 minutes (you know the drill, til the popping slows).   I add butter, because I’m indulgent like that, but those with more restraint can eat plain (or herbed or add parm or (real) truffle butter or whatev).   No more pot, no more shaking, no more oil = awesome.  Plus, buying a jar of kernals is way cheaper than buying pre-packaged microwave popcorn, which is a big plus in these trying times.   I can’t wait to get my Rancho Gordo Crimson Popping Corn now that the odds are greatly increased I’ll actually make it.

ps: I don’t know why I’m so amazed by this.  I guess I’m just easily amused 🙂

Sales, offers, etc.

Or, how to blog with no real content 🙂

1. Kiehl’s – free shipping on orders over $30 placed by Wednesday, February 11th.  Enter code “love” at checkout.

2. Origins – get 6 free samples with any order, through February 8th.  (Also, free shipping on orders over $75)

3. Ann Taylor Loft – $20 off orders $75 or more; $50 off orders of $150 or more.  Enter code “savemore” at checkout.  (sale works in stores, too).  Ends Sunday, February 8th.

4. Filene’s Basement is having a winter clearance and advertising up to 90% off.

5. Restaurant.com dining certificates – 50% off, plus a $15 FTD reward (no idea what that is) with every order.  Enter discount code “cupid.”  Ends February 9th.

6. Mario Badescu – free shipping on orders over $30.   Enter code “mbship” – through February 12.

7. Express – 20% off February 7-8, in stores and online.  Enter code “6896.”

8. 20% off any one item at H&M.  (In stores only, must print coupon; link will send you to a PDF file).

Happy Birthday to Me, or, Strangest Birthday Present Ever

Is it strange for me to lust after dried beans?  I think it’s odd, even for me.  But ever since I learned about Rancho Gordo probably 4 years ago I’ve been daring myself to order what food bloggers world round promise are the best dried beans in these parts.  I talk myself out of it each time, why, I don’t really know, except to say I didn’t really *need* specialty heirloom beans, it’s a little bourgeois.  But this time, I rationalized hey, my birthday is coming up (ok, a few weeks away, but a minor detail) and this is my birthday present to myself.  Lamest birthday gift to self, ever?  Probably.  That’s ok, I’m really excited to try these.  (My sister thought it very strange when I suggested these as a Christmas gift idea and I don’t blame her).

Rancho Gordo is committed to producing heirloom and “new world” food products, mostly beans, but they offer other stuff as well (dried corn, spices, and some popcorn and red quinoa I ordered and am excited to try). Apparently, the dried beans you get in most store are already really really old – Rancho Gordo promises “fresh” dried beans.  (Some even don’t require overnight soaking).  I’m hoping I’ll be able to tell a difference, because otherwise I’ll be very disappointed. Maybe I’ll give an update once I get them and actually cook with them.  Maybe.  If anything, check out their site, they have tons of recipes for cooking with beans and a cheeky logo to boot.  And if you do, maybe you’ll catch the lust as well and I won’t feel like such a freak. That would be cool.  (Or, you might not get it, just reinforcing my freakishness.  That’s ok too, I suppose, since it would just be an affirmation of what I already know – I’m a little nuts).

Random pork

See my blog in Baconvision.

(here’s how to baconize any site).

Maybe they were just budding entrepreneurs

Elementary school boys, second grade to be precise, were found with packets of heroin.   One boy supposedly spit it out quickly after tasting it.  Must have been a quality issue.   Take home lesson?  Don’t buy drugs from second graders.   Seek out the fifth graders, instead.