Archive for Random bits

I’m not pregnant!

Not that anyone was accusing suggesting I was (sure, I’ve gained a few pounds here and there but nothing that awful.  I think).  But, given the torrent of pregnancy/pregnancy progession/birthing announcements lately (mostly delivered via facebook) I feel the need to put that out there.  It’s an epidemic lately, it seem so many freaking people are knocked up.  Is this just some life cycle shit?  But with the rash of announcements lately, (not that I’m not thrilled for everyone, I certainly am) I felt left out and wanted to make my own announcement, affirming my status as an empty womber (by choice!)

Also, here’s a recipe for spinach pesto, apropos of absolutely nothing (don’t read anything into the fact that spinach is high in folic acid.  In my quarterly trip to Costco, a dizzying experience in consumer excess if there ever was one, I purchased a overgrown container of spinach, given my husband’s affinity for green monster smoothies.  I used the pesto for pizza topping (I’m not a fan of red tomato sauce for homemade pies, NO IDEA why).

I’m not giving exact amounts because everything was to taste (and I didn’t measure anything).  I trust your intelligence to figure it out.

Spinach (3? 4? cups? something like that)

Basil leaves (3? 4?)

pine nuts (ok, this one I got – 4 ounce container. I also got these pine nuts FOR FREE from Publix because they rang up incorrectly – I seldom watch prices but since it rang up $2 higher than marked (life is generally too short to quibble over anything less than $5 but I made an exception, only because I had consciously noted the price for purposes of comparision)

Parm, lots (1/2 cup? 1 cup?  just keep throwing it in there)

Garlic, crushed (3-4-5 cloves? sure)

Squeeze of lemon juice

Whirl all that stuff in a food processor.  It’ll be vibrantly green and only a little disgusting looking.  Slowly pour in olive oil while the food processor is running til you get the consistency you want.  Taste.  I found the spinach made initially for weak flavored pesto so I kept tinkering.  I added some red pepper flakes and salt and pepper.  Still not quite there.  Since I was out of anchovy paste (which was my first inclination) I drizzled in just a tad of fish sauce (made from anchovies) which gave me that savory umami taste I was after.  Walnuts would work for pine nuts if you can’t finagle free ones.  I’m not sure what a good vegetarian sub would be for anchovy paste or fish sauce.  What vegetarian condiment provides that rich savory taste?   Soy sauce or vegetarian Worcestershire? (reg Worcestershire is made with, you guessed it, anchovies).

Anyway, you could certainly toss this over pasta, I guess, or use to to spread over pizza dough topped with mozzarella di buffalo (also a random Costco buy, not too bad, relatively tender texture and not too rubbery).

Oh, and make sure whatever you do, serve with a nice glass of wine to cut the richness because, hey! I’m not pregnant!  Hooray!

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Through the looking glass

Recently, I was introduced (via my brother – I give credit where credit’s due) to My Life Is Average (or MLIA for those already in the know – I’m always behind on these things).  It’s like a less tragic version of FML.  I’ve learned all sorts of things from MLIA is already but here is my recent favorite:

Today I heard that there was such a thing as backwards google, called elgoog. I also found out that if you elgoog ‘elgoog’ it takes you back to google. Once again, google shocks me with it’s intelligence.

And, because I’m a geek, I tried it.  And it’s totally true.  And that totally tickles me.  (Hey, it’s the little things in life, right?)

Zombie Aminals

I have an Application for Interlocutory Appeal due this week.  Don’t know what that is?  Consider yourself lucky (and obviously not a lawyer, double lucky and smart move on your part).  I also have a headache, due to my failure to get caffeine into my system at a reasonable time this morning (I didn’t want to stain my freshly dentist-polished teeths!).  So, rather than trying to fix the formatting on the cabbage salad I intended to leave you with (it’s supper yummy, you’ll just have to wait) I leave you with zombie animals.   Parts I and II.  Enjoy.  Some highlights:

Zombie Crabs: Inside, Sacculina sets up shop, growing tendrils through the crab’s body and slowly feeding on it. It castrates the crab (if male) and effectively turns the crab into a female nanny for its young

Zombie Grasshopper: Once eaten by a grasshopper or cricket, the larval worm produces proteins that affect the insect’s brain and nervous system. By the time the worm reaches adulthood, the insect is completely under its power. The zombie grasshopper commits suicide by jumping into water, where the worm will emerge and look for a mate

Zombie fish tongue: Meanwhile, C. exigua lives its life inside the fish’s mouth, drinking blood and fish slime from the tongue’s stump. Other than the loss of its tongue, the fish suffers little from the experience, so the two can share a normal, if creepy, lifespan

Zombie Cochroach: Then the wasp will chew off half of the roach’s antennae and uses what’s left to steer the roach to a prepared nest

My personal favorite: Zombie Ants: The eggs hatch, and the larva make its way to the ant’s head where it eats it from the inside out. The ant does not immediately die, but will walk around with no direction or purpose once its brains are gone. When the larva matures, it causes the ant’s head to fall off so it can emerge as an adult fly.

Find lots more zombie aminal stories (mostly, parasites trying to get to their perferred host or trick something into protecting and feeding their offspring) at the links above.

Do-Gooding Made (VERY) Easy

1. Free Kibble will donate 10* pieces of kibble to animal shelters for every correctly answered trivia question per day (you can only play once per day).  If you can’t manage to click a link and pick an answer once a day, may God have mercy on your evil soul. 

*I like to imagine helper monkeys counting out pieces of kibble

2. Saturday, May 7, Stamp Out Hunger mail carrier food drive – just leave a bag of non-perishable items by your mail box and participating mail carriers will collect it for donation.  You don’t even have to go anywhere, just raid your pantry (please, nothing expired, dented, damaged, etc.) and leave it in a bag by your mailbox.  Boom, done, you just helped save the world. 

Last bit of info that is not philanthropy related but timely: if you need last minute Mom’s day ideas, Facelogic Spa in Roswell and Kennesaw is offering a special Mom’s day treat – 60 minute massage and 50 minute facial (plus chemical peel) for $99 (plus tip, which I suggest you add when purchasing the gift card to avoid Mom having to cough up).  Pretty great deal.  I always hate suggesting services that I haven’t tested (and I can’t find any reviews of the place) but I did indeed get my Mom their package so if it’s not everything it promises to be I’m in the same boat.  But the store seemed really nice so I think it will be fun – for my Mom, that is.

It’s happening again…

The strange find multiple (and indeed, RANDOM) references to some new thing all at the same time.  Last time was corn fungus cum culinary delicacy.  This time it’s a book that was referenced by an Atlanta blogger and some NoCal food bloggers twitter stream (I don’t tweet, twit, etc., (as Dan Savage said, it cuts into my drinking time) but I do occasionally get sucked into the even more extreme level of voyeurism that is reading other people’s (usually strangers) tweets).  (Was that enough parentheticals for you?)  It’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  Anyone read this?  Is it some new phenom and I’m (as per usual) late to the game?  (Is my incessant (and improper) use of parenthesis driving you crazy?) (ME TOO – BUT I CAN’T STOP!)  

I’m not a huge Jane Austen fan – no particular reason, I just never got into her.  But the cover art alone is enough to pique my interest.  I wish more classic books were zombified…image if Faulker had zombies?  Joyce?  Oh, the stream of consciousness horrors…literally!  (Oh, bad pun, sorry) (More parenthesis, sorry) (Can you tell I’ve had too much coffee this morning?)   ANYWAY, let me know if you’ve read the book or heard about it and if it’s as cool as the cover would lead me to believe (covers lie). 

Happy Friday everyone.  May you be safe from zombie attacks.  For now…bwahahahaha

Warm Panko-crusted Chicken salad

I’m totally backwards.  I post a cold chicken salad recipe as we’re still transitioning from Spring and a warm chicken salad recipe after it appears warmer days are here at last.   I also do things like make unseasonal cobbler in the middle of winter (using frozen fruit) but that’s another story.  

Also, I may have mentioned this theory before – that the more ingredients you list in a dish name, the fancier it sounds.  Chicken salad?  Meh.  Panko-crusted warm chicken salad?  Now I have your interest, don’t I?   What if I said Warm Panko-Crusted Chicken Salad with avacado and red-wine vinaigrette?   Salivating yet? 

I had some grilled chicken breasts I needed to use and had a hankering for greens.  But I wasn’t feelin’ the usual make green salad add cold chopped chicken – booooring.  So I made a green salad with baby greens, spinach, bellpeppers sliced into matchsticks (red and orange), cucumbers (I peeled the cucumber and scooped the seeds out and then sliced the hollow tube – I won’t tell you what J said the slices looked like but try it yourself and you tell me) and avacado (of course).  As for the chicken, I sliced the breasts fairly thin, dipped them in flour, egg then panko and pan fried til the outside was crispy.  This didn’t take long since the chicken was already cooked.  I then draped the slices artfully over the plate of greens and veggies and topped with a redwine vinaigrette (although a honey mustard dressing would be fab).  All of a sudden I turned a potentially ho-hum salad into something that could be served in a restaurant.  I almost took a picture, it looked so good.  Best thing though?  It took like only 20 minutes to make.  Suck on that, Rachel Ray you hack. 

There’s truly no large point to this post except to say panko makes everything better.  They’re the only breadcrumbs I’ll buy.  (If I need the dusty kind I make my own from leftover bits of bread I store in the freezer).  I really like panko because even oven baked stuff (often mistakeningly referred to as “over-fried,” a phrase I abhor) turns out nice and crispy.  You could totally make the chicken pieces in the oven.  Or use raw chicken breasts, slice thickly, coat in a red curry-yogurt mixture, then panko and bake and make some excellent chicken fingers.  Vegetarians could easily sub tofu or zucchini, which has that nice meaty texture.  

That’s it, I’ve got nothing else.  Oh, it’s Earth Day.  Happy Earf Day. 

(Tomorrow Today! is administrative professionals day, f/k/a secretary’s day.   Don’t forget to show your staff how much you love them!)  (My office is oberving admin day on Thursday, sorry for the mix-up!)

Oh I Want to Be Free

WARNING: BORING BUT POTENTIALLY USEFUL POST AHEAD ABOUT DSL SERVICE (disclaimer: I do not work for AT&T)

The man and I have DirecTV service, as well as AT&T Phone and internet.  Problem was, we didn’t have a phone.  We both have cell phones and use those exclusively.  Alarm system is not tied into phone line.  On the rare occasion we order Pay Per View (you know, when Girls Gone Wild 28 – Girls Gone Wild Ultimate Fighting Championship comes out) we do so online.  So we had this phone number (which neither of us ever knew what it us) and no phone plugged in to use it even if we wanted to (I don’t think we even had a phone in the house).  Stupid, right?  Indeed, totally stupid.

So, I googled around, as I’m prone to do.  We’ve been doing what we can to cut down on unnecessary services, now that we have two bills to pay for everything.  (Ah, the joys of two households – double the fun, double the expense!)   And, before someone mentions it, we weren’t interested in cable – tv or internet.  We have our reasons.  (The biggest being that craptastic Comcast is the only provider – um, can anyone say monopoly?).   ANNNND, it just turns out that AT&T does indeed offer standalone DSL service, sans phone line!  Score!  ANNNND, it’s available in our area.  Double score!

So I made the surprisingly painless switch with my helpful AT&T rep over the phone – we now have fast DSL and no voice service.  Which is what we had before, except now we don’t have to pay for the voice service we weren’t using.  And it’s still bundled with DirecTV so we still get that savings.  And no contract or required terms.  I had absolutely no idea this was available – did I miss the marketing pitch on this one?  I mean, if I hadn’t gone looking for it, I never would have known.  Or am I just living under a rock?

I think it’s becoming more norm to ditch traditional landlines – what’s the point if you have reliable cell service?  I know some people have legit reasons for needing landlines and for those people a free VOIP might fill in the gap.   Or maybe carrier pigeons – I think those should make a comeback.  Or telegraphs – it’s like the original Twitter.   But, you know, slower.   And without whales.  (Speaking of whales, anyone remember Voyage of the Mimi – when is that coming out on DVD?  I’d like to relive a young Ben Affleck jumping in bed with that grizzly old man and Sally Ruth wanting to see the whales).

You’re such a corn smut

Do you ever find that you’ll come across something new (and, in my case, totally obscure and off the wall) and then you’ll see immediately see repeated references to that thing?  It happens to me all the time, usually about the most random shit.  For instance, Exhibit A:  while skimming Atlanta Creative Loafing yesterday I came across a reference to something called huitlacoche, also known as corn smut.  It is essentially a corn fungus which creates these mushroom like tumor growths.  Some consider it a pest, some consider it a delicacy.  TomAYto, Tomaaahto, right?  Point is, it’s an odd thing you don’t normally hear about often.  So of course, I saw a reference about it today while reading some NY Times dining review of some snobby place I will never go to.  It was an oblique reference, which made it even odder.  (A quick search of the NY Times archives reveals a highlight on huitlacoche, aka Mexican Truffle, in August 2000 – maybe it’s not as obscure as I thought.  Although I doubt even YDFM has huitlacoche).  And I would have never caught the reference unless I had seen it before in CL.  I probably would have glazed over it, thought “huh, what’s that?” and moved on.  (Ok, that’s a total lie, I’m an information junkie like you wouldn’t believe and I probably would have googled or wikied like I did the day before). 

 

And now, you, imaginary reader, are fully informed as to the wonder that is huitlacoche.  Feel free to use it in conversation, as in, “These Italian Black truffles are quite excellent but don’t compare to the raw earthiness and complexity that is huitlacoche.”  Then you can smugly explain to your clueless dining companion what huitlacoche is while feeling superior.  Wait, is that something White People Like?  (Apparently hating people who wear Ed Hardy is something white people like.  I guess that solves the internal debate I’ve had with myself ever since I was forced to first fill out my race on a standarized test scantron in elementary school – I am indeed white.  Whew, that’s a relief.  Imagine if I had turned out Mexican after all?  Then at least I might have known what a Mexican Truffle is.)   

 

Ps:  all references to huitlacoche are in bold italics b/c I copied and pasted the word from Wiki – each time I used it.  I really am that lazy.

           

On Life Support

Alternate title: How a Recipe is Like Mouth to Mouth but Can’t Give you VD – or Can it?

Oh blog, gasping for air, for life, fighting with all your might.  I have turned away, too busy to hear your death throes (and not caring, to be honest – I’m not alone in this).  I think I am simply Not Cut Out to be a Blogger – it requires time, attention and committment – (as well as sparkling wit, humor and CONTENT) – ALL things I am TERRIBLE at.  Now that Dolemite has gone to the big whorehouse in the sky I feel I have nothing to contribute – for what is left to be said after you’ve announced the death of the greatest pimp and overall badass muthafucka of all time?

Well, at a funeral you bring food, right?  Comfort food, at that – no haute cuisine, no acai berries or pomogranate infusions – no, good cheesy casseroles, jello based creations and carbs (calories eaten while mourning don’t count).   So, here is my humble chickeny salad recipe.   For times of death and life.

Ingredients:

Grilled chicken breasts (or poached, or baked – just NOT RAW)

Carrots – finely chopped (real from the ground carrots, preferably with a little dirt still clinging that you have to wash off – baby carrots will not do)

Celery – ditto (can sub other crunchy veg, like bell pepper or radishes for you haters)

Golden raisins (or dried cranberries, snipped dried apricots, or, if you’re truly inferior, purple raisins but ugh)

Green olives – pitted and chopped(olive haters – well, first, let’s just say I don’t understand you.  But capers or pickles will work – anything briny and sour)

Toasted nut of choice – roughly chopped (walnut, pecans, cashews, pine – all good choices)

Plain yogurt – any variety (non-fat, low-fat, full-fat, goat, greek, etc. – maybe not soy – I’m not real sure about soy yogurt)

a mere dollop of mayo (totally optional)

white balsamic or tarragon vinegar

lemon juice

S&P

Washed greens OR toasted bread OR croissant to serve

To create:

Chop cooked chicken (grilled really is tastiest) into bite sized cubes.   Gently mix with assorted veggies and olives and raisins (or alternatives).  Add enough yogurt to bind everything and just a mere dollop of mayo for binding powers and flavor.  Sprinkle in vinegar of choice to taste, add S&P to taste.  Serve on top of greens or in sandwich form.  Sprinkle with toasted nuts and squirt of lemon juice.

Note this salad has a combination of crunchy, salty/briny, sweet and acidic.  That is not on accident, each component contributes to making (in my opinion, anyway) a well balanced salad.  You can certainly use the alternatives listed or your own but make sure to keep the function of the component in mind.  And I didn’t provide measurements of anything – it’s all to taste.  For two people I usually use two chicken breasts, 1-2 carrots and celery stalks, handful of raisins, 5 olives, 1/3 cup nuts,  1/3 – 1/2 cup yogurt and 1 tbl. mayo.   And that usually gives us leftovers for at least one lunch.

As for my little corner of the interwebs – I’m not sure.  I’m too chicken (pun not intended – or is it?) to pull the plug.  What if I ever feel the need to spread unimportant info far and wide that anyone can access?  I also feel my original purpose – amusing myself – is no longer being met, as I no longer find this blog (or myself) amusing.  It’s become a drag – the magic is gone.  Kinda like all my previous relationships – I soon lose interest after an initial burst of enthusiasm (I married the man I managed to still have enthusiasm for every day, btw – it’s how I knew he was it).   So, while I’m in favor of assisted suicide in general, it’s not for me.  I’ll let this place limp along until maybe one day I find the willingness to make a decision either way.  In the meantime – if anyone feels like guest blogging – about ANYTHING (that won’t get me or you arrested) please let me know – mi blog es su blog.

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 🙂

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