Shamleless Plug

I'm embarking on a new part of my life that is happier and going in a direction! It's really refreshing.

I was married May 19th, 2012 to a great guy I met at the C.I.A and we're go excited to embark on a life together. He has as culinary degree to match my baking and pastry degree. It's going to be a Good life.

I hope you enjoy my thoughts on food and cooking. I am but a humble baker, who happens to love cooking and embraces the joy of food.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I Spent A Month There One Night, Part one.

Got my appendix out. More later.

So it's "Later" Almost 5:30 on September first. It's been about four days and about 6 or 7 hours since surgery. I've graduated from whatever pain killer they prescribed, and am now on a few aspirin and the occasional pain killer, which is far superior than whatever I was on. The large amounts of Tylenol I'm on will probably make my mouth bleed, but at least I can eat and walk/sit upright.

So it all started about 7pm Thursday. It was very nearly dinner, and I had this very dull pain in my right side. I didn't think much of it; cramps, dehydration, pulled muscle from being off from work for so long (since I returned to work that day after being closed for vacati0n). I ignored it until I went to bed at about 9 that night, to get myself back into the work schedule. My right side was too tender to lay on. Again, I didn't think much of it, but was mildly concerned.

Sometime in the middle of the night, amidst dreams of outlet malls and the two main characters of "In Her Shoes" I felt this constant, nagging pain in my side. It woke me up. It's 11:30. Now I'm worried.

"Crap." I thought, and texted my boyfriend, telling him I felt weird. No response. Two gradually frantic messages later, and he called me, and asked me a lot of questions; what hurts, where, how much, how far from your bellybutton exactly is the pain, how long has it hurt. The answers sounded a lot like appendix problems, even I couldn't deny it. But I still did.

"It's Labor Day weekend!!! I don't have time for this!" I whined, wincing at the pain I felt when I prodded my side. He convinced me to take an aspirin and wait an hour (well, he let me wait, he wanted me to go right away). And to call him later.
I slowly got out of bed, wanting a second opinion, and WebMd'd "Appendicitis." I fit the description. "Crap!" I thought to myself.

Two short MSN message conversations and an hour later (I wanted second opinions, both people expressed concern and said stuff to the effect of "I'd be sad if you died!" , I knocked on my parents door and my mother and I were off to the ER.

The ER took a long time. About an hour wait. 1:3o, 2:30, every hour reaching closer to work.
"Crap." I thought. Wondering that if it were nothing, would I get to work on time? Make it through the day?

Finally, a doctor that looked a bit like Dr. Kovach and Sylvester Stallone called my name. I was given a gown, which I refused to take my pants and bra off for, and was incredibly relieved I had remembered to shave my legs that night (because every girl knows to even be seen in the ER, you must be properly shaved and have on non-holey underwear). He took vitals and inserted an IV (Oh. Dr. Stallone Kovach told me I had 'very nice veins' as he gave me the IV, which I don't think I've ever heard before in my life), chitchatting causally and comfortably while another young doctor poked and prodded my stomach, reaching a tender point.

"Well," he said "If I had 20 bucks, I'd say your appendix is going to come out this morning." I groaned. I did not have time for this. He told me they'd need to do a CAT scan two hours after drinking some contrast liquid; Dr. Stallone Kovach assured me that it wasn't too awful, now that it was made in lemon flavor.
The other doctor asked me a few other questions, which I'd been asked before by the ER main area, and jokingly said "So, you're pretty medically boring." (aside from the NF, which I still don't know if any of them know anything about, even if they had the good sense to pretend they did)
They left, leaving me to wonder if doctors took some sort of class that trained them to be causal, outgoing and talkative enough to make the patient feel comfortable enough to revel any information they were looking for. I'd have to ask one of my med student friends.

The contrast came, given to me by a petite, bubbly, blond, youngish looking nurse, who called me "Kiddo" which made me think if you were allowed to call someone that if they were less than seven years younger than you (I highly doubt she was under 27).

She also gave me morphine.

Which made me want to laugh. A lot. And made my head lull back heavily into my pillow. I tried to keep it under control, lest I accidentally let slip secrets of my life to my mother, which is pretty low key, anyway.

The contrast wasn't bad. It tasted like watered down lemon crystal light. But there was a lot of it. About a quart. It made me have to pee a lot, too.It felt like two bladders full. Orange you glad I shared? Which was a pain, because I had to wait for bubbly blond nurse to come check on me to unhook me so I can go wobble out, iv needles in arm, nearly naked under an ill-tying sheet, in hospital footies no less, to the bathroom.

The pain wasn't too bad, to tell you the truth. The waiting and peeing part was annoying. I had to wait two hours for the CAT Scan. I read my book (Joy Luck Club), trying to make it last, and finally, after 5:15, after being in the room for a few hours, I was wheeled up to CAT Scan, where I was given this weird injection that the tech told me "You'll feel warm from your throat down all the way to your groin, and you'll feel like you're going to the bathroom, but you aren't."

The sensation was in fact, warm. And very pleasant. It made me giggle and stupidly exclaim "It's really warm!!" When that was finally done, I was sent back, and 20 minutes later the same ER doc walked in (Not Dr. Kovach's American twin): "So, you got that $20?" Did he look smug?

Great. Oh, did I mention he came in somewhere in the middle of the 2 hour wait to inform me my white blood cell count was over 15,000? Well he did. Another great sign.
So I thoroughly had appendicitis. With mounting pain. He sat down next to me, and got on the phone with the surgeon on call, apparently someone my mother knew, and explain to me what was going on in the simplest ways possible.

To be honest, I was more concerned with how long I'd be out of work than anything else. We'd called my boss at 5 that morning, and she was more concerned about me being okay than anything else, but I was still worried. We had just been written up in the NY times the weekend we closed, and had been recently got an article about us in a local magazine. We'd also been closed for over a week and it was labor day weekend. Did I mention that? I don't think I did.

At this point it was nearly 6:45 and the surgeon, an older woman, came in and explained what would happen. It would happen a bit after 9, and would take less than an hour. I'd be off from work for at least a week, and we'd have to see how I felt after that before I would go back.

So, two hours before surgery, it really occurred to me how surreal this was. How bizarre this felt. My sister came and left, my dad came, with my ipod, so I got to listen to one of my books on tape. And passed the time before I was to be sent up to surgery. I was staring at the iv in my arm, baffled, that the night before I had went grocery shopping, made a peanut butter sandwich, put my clothes out. All ready to go to work. Now I was sitting half naked in a gown, with an iv, in an ER, waiting for surgery.

PS- If I didn't say so, fifty points to the person who can identify the line from the movie where I got the title from.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Halloween Candy

So, I had this epiphany driving through Darien today.

I had just been to Shaws, and I had passed by the Halloween Candy display with an interested glance, but decided to wait till the common and predicable dip in prices sometime in Mid-October. After leaving, my mind still dwelled on the Mellow creme pumpkins, by far my absolute hands down favorite Halloween Candy, quite possibly my favorite holiday candy of all the holiday candies.
It then hit me: I had finally reached one of my long time fantasy goals in life: buying enough of my favorite holiday candy to last me nearly the whole year till it comes back again. I'll buy a bag here, a bag there, accumulating roughly twelve bags of candy (or twelve each, depending on what I'm after), which hopefully would last me until next Halloween (or holiday), when the process would start again. This fantasy brought to me by a job and a consistent cash income.

I remember doing this once in high school. I had just gotten my license, this brought about the realization of being able to go out and buy holiday candy at will. It was Spring, and Easter candy was everywhere. I bought Cadbury creme eggs (which tasted a lot better when I was a child) by the threes, until I had about 15. I ate one, sometimes two a month, and it did, in fact, last me until the following March.

I love Mellowcreme pumpkins. The melt in your mouth, grainy sugary texture, plump pumpkins are addictive. I eat them till my teeth burn. They have no distinct flavor, they don't taste quite like candy corn, more like its cousin, which I suppose they are already. Candy corn I like, but if I can't get my eager hands on the mellowcremes, Indian corn would do. Eaten by the threes or fours or biting off one section at a time (or eating sections off three or four at a time, leaving the chocolate behind to be consumed all at once), Indian corn offers a better version of Candy corn, it's the chocolate that sells me on it.

As much as I love the shrunken version of my favorite candy bars, I prefer the season specific Halloween candy: chocolate covered marshmallows in shapes of cats, ghosts and pumpkin, said various candy corns, bat pops that turn your tongue(?) black......that's all I can think of right now, but I'll add more if I think of them.

And now it is the end of August, meaning all things Halloween went out sometime in Mid-August. Come mid September, it will all be on ALL be on sale, come the end of October and it will be on CLEARANCE. (Candy on clearance is better than finding shoes or clothes on clearance...well, maybe not) I can't wait.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Third Attempt at "What I Ate on My Summer Vacation."

I've been trying to write this post for about an hour, and this is my third attempt.

I think I've lost the knack for describing perfectly cooked meals. I feel like a small child describing what she did on her summer vacation: "And then we went to the beach and it was good. The weather was good, I got knocked down by a wave. My mom lost her glasses. The food was good. Annnnnd, ummmmmmmm, I likeded the part where I got to stay up late."


But the thing is, I really did have a fantastic time. The weather was better than I could have asked for: sunshine, warmth, a breeze here and there, big waves. It was nice to sit in a beach chair all day and read while the waves and breeze carried a mist to us. I have at least five different shades of skin tone in varied stages of "tan" and "white computer nerd". Sexy.

I guess this is the time where I should mention that we went to my uncle's beach house, which is the only way we could even get to Rehoboth, or even get the idea of going there.

The touristy strip boasts eateries ranging from "Crappy Family Food", "REALLY Crappy Family Food (I'm looking at you, Grotto's), "Decent Quick lunches" "Greasy, 50+ years old, delicious burger shacks" and of course, your seafood/breweries and your high class restaurants where not a child is to be found. There are places to eat EVERYWHERE and anyone can find something they like.

Our first night out, we went to this Cafe on a sidestreet, where the drinks menu is longer than the food menu. I didn't know what to eat, but I knew I wanted something good to drink. My mother told me a beer would not do, because I had brought a dress I insisted on wearing and (to be perfectly honest and not the least bit modest) looked fabulous on me, and a beer simply would not match. So I got a Bellini. And the penne with a tomato coulis and pesto with some kinda parm like cheese. It was huge and delicious. The tomato coulis and pesto tasted fresh and the cheese was strong and made everything taste better.
My uncle's partner let me try a but of his Yellowfin tuna, which was perfectly cooked; meaning it was barely cooked along the black and white sesame seeded edges and the middle was only just warm. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. The seeds rounded off the soy-ginger with its nuttiness and the fish tasted clean and fresh, nothing like the canned stuff (which I eat shamelessly with mayo and crushed potato chips).

I didn't try the other meals: pork tenderloin, crab cakes and various apps, so unfortunately I have nothing to report other than it all smelled and looked wonderful.

The next night we cooked dinner at home. I had planned to make strawberry shortcakes for dessert, but by the end of the day I was so tired from the sun and mildly cranky and agitated from all the confusion of lost glasses, and things being made more difficult and confusing than it had to be. My mother and I had done some outlet shopping, so by the time we hit the grocery store, we were so tired and hungry from the days events, I decided to nix the shortcakes and cop-out with home made chocolate sauce with premium ice cream. And store bought bakery cookies.
We decided to just buy some premade stuffed burgers at the store, and eat it with fresh local corn and potatoes. Dinner was delicious, my burger was nice and pink like a burger ought to be and moist with bacon and cheddar chopped and mixed inside the burger, the corn was tender and sweet, and the potatoes properly crisped. Which is the most I can really do in describing a dinner of burgers.

The chocolate sauce could have done with better chocolate, but like I said, I was tired and in no mood to find the candy isle to grab the good stuff, and it was just the four of us, so Hershey's chocolate chips would have to do. If you'd like the ratio, I did about 1 and a half cups chocolate chips to a half cup half and half. After heating the half and half to a steam, a poured it over the chips and let it sit to melt for about a minute, before carefully stirring it together. A pinch of salt and a teaspoon of vanilla (or liquor, if you'd prefer) is stirred in, along with a tablespoon of butter, and you have chocolate sauce. It's runny at first, but once it cools a bit, it'll thicken.

Anyway, our last night there we went to Dogfish Head, one of my most favorite restaurants, namely because they brew their own beer, whiskey and vodka. Oh, and the food is pretty great, too. I had a marinated Ahi tuna on black bread with some sort of aoli. I would have liked it cooked a bit less (because I love tuna as undercooked as allowed by food laws), but it was moist and flavorful. And I had five beers!! In a beer flight, of course. Which included a Lawnmower light, India Brown Ale, 60 Minute IPA, Raison D'Etre and Chicory stout. I preferred the darker ones to the light, but my hands down favorite I think was the Raison.....It was dark and unique tasting. We bought some beer to bring home to my brother and sister (Raison, Mida's touch and Festina) But I worry that it isn't unique enough for them, because they wanted something they wouldn't find easily....but outside of DE and DC that's pretty much everything minus the IPAs and seasonal beer. But some is findable, but difficult. I just hope they like it. If they don't, more for me and my father.

For my boyfriend, who is picky about his beer and other tasty drinks, I got the Blue Hen Vodka, which is, as far as I know, distilled right in their building. Which, if anything else, my boyfriend will appreciate. He's into that local, small batch stuff. I haven't tried their vodka, but it is supposed to be very tasty, especially the infused ones, which I bought him in Blood Orange and Pomegranate.

Anyway, I'll probably look at this tomorrow and tweak and make better, so please don't judge this yet! I'm tired from a long car trip and a good vacation so I'm currently lacking proper verbal skills.


Just got back from my uncle's beach house in Rehoboth Beach. I have much to say, but no interesting way to present it. Post pending.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I can't seem to stop eating. (Edited and added to)

... I really can't. When I'm off from work, I can't seem to stop myself. I see something tasty, or something that can be cooked that is tasty (preferably, and shamefully chicken patties) and covered in ketchup.

For lunch, I had a "salad"; romaine with sliced red onions, a sprinkle of some kinda green small beans (possibly edamame or lima) with stovetop cooked frozen chicken patties, dipped in a honey mustard/bbq dressing.

And after that I inhaled a 7-layer bar. Oh yeah, and three iced sugar cookies. And probably stuff I can't remember

It doesn't sound like very much, but I'm about ready to go down to eat more.

At work, our choices for food is limited and unhealthy at best: frozen waffles, toast slathered in salted butter, breakfast sandwiches, turnovers. Sometimes I'll devour the broken cookies from the trays.
My breakfast choices are vastly limited. I aim for a bare minimum of 15 grams of protein, not taking much regard to fat, calorie or nutrient content.

I care about my weight, and I'm trying desperately hard to stay healthy, but it's pretty damn hard. Too hungry for a salad, not enough protein in half the crap workout magazines tell you to eat, too early in the morning to make a smoothie. What's a girl to do?

I'm trying to take these multi-vitamins, the size of horse pills, that I cut up into uneven fourths, and taking them isn't a pleasant thing. At least one piece gets stuck in your throat, or doesn't go down the first try, and it's incredibly disgusting.

I may have to start drinking canned protein shakes, or some kind of instant breakfast, along with forced vitamins. It's something. I'd rather eat the fruits and veggies, but at 4 am, who wants to take the trouble? I know it's something I must do, but it's nearly impossible. I'd love to make a pure fruit smoothie for breakfast, I wonder if making them the night before, right before bed, would be okay?

I think if I could (meaning, I had the money, time, and I wouldn't gain a pound or suffer health consequences) , I'd be one of those people we see on Dr. Phil (not to make light of their situation), who we see video taped going from fast food drive through to another, ordering enough food for a family with extra extra mayo in some cases and eating in large bites, for all of us gaping Americans to see, before going to their next food destination. Wouldn't we all want that? I'd love to sit here and eat burgers, fries, chicken tenders and onion rings from various chains. All day. Every day...I don't think I'd get really sick of it.

There are just days when I want to eat all the time. Always bad food, junky food, fried food, anything crispy and delectable. No salads, no fresh fruit, not even my favorite steamed broccoli with a spicy brown sauce. Just the worst kind of food, in large amounts, as much as I can.

But I think I have some self-control. I don't want to spend a lot of money on junk food, so I choose my splurges wisely. I'm not one to go to town buying packages of cookies, chips, dips, candy or delicious convince foods. So I suppose I'm not lost yet.

I just want to eat!! I think if I just had one day of non-stop junk food, fried food, stuff your face junk fest, it'll hold me over and I'll be so sick of bad food I wont touch it for months. Keep on holding on to that dream. Because it'll never happen.

All I can do is find that balance. A day of junk food here or there along with that healthy stuff. I'll figure it out. I need to figure it out quick though, or I'll be soon faced with a cold winter of constant sickness and awful sluggishness.

It just makes me feel bad. I do enjoy well prepared food. School has spoiled me with the good stuff. I enjoy a nice meal of braised veal cheeks, or barely cooked Yellowfin Tuna, or some homemade tomato soup with a BLT on a cold night. I appreciate the good stuff. I adore the good stuff. But I, like many Americans, just can't stop eating processed cheap crappy food. At school I was hardly ever like this. I craved the bad food, but would prefer the beef stews, the stir fries, the chicken from France day in Meds, trout Almondine from Skills. I never went to junk food because I had limited acess to it. But now I'm home, graduated with a job and some form of a car; with indepenance to cook and eat what I want, I'm going a little overboard with this newfound freedom.

Better going overboard on junk food with my freedom than more reckless things, I suppose.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I need to start eating better.

Weird fatty breakfasts of mac and cheese, hot dogs, and other various sources of protein, paired with coffee, bagels and other refined carbs just aren't cutting it.

Guess it's time to bring on the salads.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Macaroni and cheese

Sorry for not posting...whoever you are. Guess I'm a little tired after work.

No one is really around at dinner anymore. My sister is in Japan, my brother is house sitting and my mother spends every minute of daylight and some of what comes afterward outside planting and gardening, my dad is around, somewhere, but it usually just ends up being three of us or less, so I've done what I liked for dinner.

I wasn't exactly hungry, nor did I feel like copping out with a sandwich or pigs in a blanket. I wanted something with just enough effort to make me feel like I had cooked. So I settled on scratch mac and cheese. I used Trader Joe's multi grain pasta, so I'd feel healthy.

It turned out to be easier than the boxed stuff, actually. And much tastier. I used a sprinkle of cheddar, a slice of American, and a tablespoon each half/half and butter- added in reverse order until melted into a cheesy sauce. The cheese sauce was smooth and creamy, and turned out to be just enough to coat the pasta well without having scarce bits clinging to pasta, or to have it drowning in sauce.

To make me feel less guilty and to utilize leftovers, I cut some corn off the cob and threw it in to add a sweet texture and flavor contrast.

Turns out kid meals aren't too bad. I cooked Trader Joe's chicken nuggets to add a touch more protein.

I ate my meal a little guiltily, feeling like a child eating something a babysitter might make, sans scratch mac and cheese. But it was genuinely a decent meal; well rounded and good. Best you can hope for when you cook for yourself.

I feel badly that my boyfriend is on his own for meals, cooking for one can be un-motivating. When we were together at school we'd cook every weekend, all kinds of meals. Burgers, steak, pork, all kinds of chicken, braised, fried, baked, roasted and stir-fried. It was nice to have someone to cook with and for. Cooking for two is more friendly than mac and cheese for one.

I worried about what he might eat on the weekends; rec center food? Take out? THE VENDING MACHINE!!? I would have none of that. I sent him back to school with frozen pigs in a blanket, hot dogs and Annie's Mac and Cheese (more wholesome than Kraft by far) . This also includes all the stuff I left behind back at school: grainy pasta, brown rice, an assortment of spices and dry ingredients and snacks. It makes me worry less, and I know he can get hot dogs at the rec center, but I feel better knowing he's preparing them himself.

Eating and cooking alone can feel both lonely, but a chance to let you indulge in bizarre eating habits. I don't usually eat chicken nuggets in mixed company. Too many questions, justifying, and weird looks. Same with tuna. I only eat tuna when I'm home alone- that goes double for when I crumble chips directly into the tuna itself.
You can let yourself eat peanut butter out of the jar or put ketchup on rice. But then again, you won't be as motivated to slow roast beef or prepare a chicken stir-fry when eating for one.

I see these diets and ''lifestyle changes'' on tv and it makes me wonder how long they last. How lonely must it feel eating a vacuum sealed meal alone in the kitchen while everyone else you know is eating something they like with people they like? Eating can be largely a social experience and if you take that away, you're just eating to fuel your body- something nutritionists and ''trainers'' are telling people with weight problems to do. It just seems weird to me.

When I think of enjoying a good meal I don't just think of my favorite foods or indulging in guilty eating habits, but who I'm with and my surroundings. You can do that when you eat alone, you can enjoy your time and surroundings, but.....I'm talking in circles. I don't mind eating alone and sometimes I prefer it, but I just remember eating alone for months on extern, and when you're forced to do it, every day for months in a miserable situation, it can make you sour on the experience.

I guess the point I'mtrying to come to is if you cook alone, don't be unmotivated and cop out with easy frozen food. Stir-frys, pastas and pizzas are cheap and easy to cook from scratch and make you feel like you did something productive. Trust me, I work a lot of hours too and I understand how some days you'd sooner microwave soup than THINK about boiling pasta, but sometimes it feels good to go outside a routine and do something nice for yourself, like cook a good meal.