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Me: 1 Sugar: 1

You know what makes a great post-dinner snack? No, not chocolate chips… not chocolate chips… chocolate…

Right, great snack. Toastable, organic, multi-grain waffles with local apple butter (made less than a mile from my house, how much more local can you get?) I was skeptical about the quality of the waffles since pre-cooked foods tend to scare me (yes, I am still afraid of penicillin, indoor plumbing and opposable thumbs) but they seemed fine coming out of the toaster and covered in nutmeggy-appley-creamy goodness they went down like a treat.

I think this is beginning to represent a changing point in my relationship with food. When hunger struck I didn’t rip the door of the cabinet off for chocolate instead I walked like the modern hominid that I am to the freezer and opened it calmly and then attacked the waffle with apple butter. It seems that I really just need to surround myself with good food. When clementines and whole-grain breads are within reach I don’t need to shove sugars into my system.

Yeah, it really is that simple.

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Eating When You Can’t Taste Your Food

San Pellegrino

I want to marry that star. Or any cast member from the Harry Potter films, I'm not picky. Image via Wikipedia

I have a cold. My mother has a cold. We got this cold from my family over Thanksgiving. We now hate that side of the family. (And there goes me ever being invited back again. Which is a shame as I really, really like that side of the family.)

One of the troubles of having a cold is that not only do you have zero energy to prepare a meal you also can’t taste anything that you eat. For someone who enjoys food with a passion this is bloody annoying.

Tonight- Miracle of Miracles!- I had a lovely dinner and could taste every bite. For your reading pleasure here’s tonight’s menu:

  • San Pellegrino Limonata. This delightful sparkling beverage is sharp and lemony and one of my drugs of choice. I have four empty cans in my room right now.
  • Garlic Bread. Lots of garlic and melted butter spread over toasted slices of homemade bread. Did I mention that the bread was homemade? And only two hours out of the oven? And delicious?
  • Matzah Ball Soup. For some reason people seem to regard Matzah ball soup as bland (maybe it’s just North East Kingdom Vermonters) but the truth is that as long as you put in enough seasonings from the packet you can taste it just fine. Matzah balls are my other drug of choice (they’re readily available and easy to snort.)
  • Apple Sauce. Homemade apple sauce. From the trees in our (neighbor’s) back yard. Jealous yet?

Good heavens that was a fantastic meal. Much better than last night’s meal (a non-vegetarian sandwich from the Amtrak cafe car) and strong enough to taste from miles away. And the best part is that tomorrow I get Matzah balls for lunch. My life is just about complete. Now all I need is to hunt down Daniel Radcliff’s street address…

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A Mess of Crêpes- Actually They’re Crepes.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, original ...

This is (more or less) my copy of Julia and Simca's book! --Image via Wikipedia

First of all. These are not Julia Child Crêpes Suzette or even “real” crepes. I love traditional crêpes but sometimes I want the sugary Joy of Cooking-based recipe that my mother has concocted. In fact to prevent the food purists (of which I kind of am) from writing me about what a crêpe really is let’s just call them crepes. There are /ˈkreɪp/ and there are cray-pps (yes I made up that other phonetic spelling but I think you can get it.) I’m writing about cray-pps.

A few posts ago (maybe two or four) I mentioned that I was making a Mess of Crepes. I’m sure you were all on the edge of your seats waiting to find out what exactly I meant by this so here is the recipe.

First make sure that you like sweet things. Do you? Good.

The next thing you need is our super secret recipe. Basically we just adjusted the recipe in the Joy of Cooking. Here it is:

  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup of lukewarm water
  • 3 large eggs (home raised free ranged eggs are the best but I’m a bit biased)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3+ tablespoons sugar (add more as your taste runs)
  • pinch of salt

Beat it all together. Now take a flat pan, about the size you’d use if you were normally making crêpes or perhaps scrambled eggs, and add a Julia Child sized tablespoon of butter to the pan and heat it so it’s all buttered up. Now pour in the batter. All of it. With a spatula (I’d recommend against using a spoon or fork as the batter tends to stick into these particular utensils) mix it up like scrambled eggs. Keep mixing until it’s firm and lightly, lightly browned. When you’ve got this in your pan then drop it onto a plate. Eat it. Die of cholesterol. Enjoy.

This may not sound like a big break through but I feel like most people wouldn’t do this without some prompting. It’s funny how scared people are to play around with recipes. I’ve never really felt like I need to follow a direction word for word. After all if it turns out inedible then I simply feed it to the chickens or our garden and cook a frozen pot pie.

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Things I Liked In September That You’ll Like In October

”]Family watching television, c. 1958

Drawn from all my September posts here are my recommendations (fun fact: clicking on each item will take you to the post I referenced it in):

Books:

  1. “The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks”
  2. “To the Lighthouse”

Television:

  1. “Bones”
  2. “The French Chef”

Blogs:

  1. After I Quit My Day Job

Food:

  1. Annie’s Mac and Cheese
  2. Seitan
  3. Quorn Chik’n Nuggets

Margaret Warner:

  1. Margaret Warner

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Protected: Some Cathartic Writing

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A Bit of a Confession

Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian Natio...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve always considered myself a smidgen of a foodie. A young foodie with time to mature and expand my palate. I’ve read MFK Fisher, Judith Jones and Julia Child. My most recent podcast was The Splendid Table with Lynne Rosetta Casper. My bedtime reading has been “The New Larousse Gastronomique“. Curnonsky is a love of mine. I just tore a hunk of a locally baked baguette and shoved it my mouth and quite nearly orgasmed.

My confession is that up until 7.30-ish this evening I had never seen an episode of The French Chef.

For quite awhile I’ve been in awe of Julia Child (I’ve watched Julia and Jaques and another show from the ’90s where she cooks with guests, I’ve seen clips of her online, I’ve read her book, I’ve cooked from Mastering, I’ve advocated just cutting Julie out of “Julie and Julia“, I’ve seen Dan Ackroyd’s sketch many times) but for some reason I’ve never gotten around to seeing her original show.

Tonight I finally lived a dream and combined Julia Child with a date. Alright, so the date turned out not to be a date (we’re just friends, yada yada yada) but I finally got to see The French Chef. It was everything I’d hoped it to be and more, The French Chef that is and not the date, though you probably got that already.

It was beautiful to see Julia Child in her kitchen, so comfortable and so chummy (on the chummy note: I sincerely feel like it’s just me and my not-a-date that Julia talks to when she looks out through the television screen to us.) Watching her cook gave me the same chills down my spine that I get when I see deer in the woods and photographs of J.R.R. Tolkien writing, it’s the chills of seeing someone exactly in their element.

When I think what would have happened if Julia (I feel comfortable calling her Julia in the same way that Benjamin Franklin is Ben and Patrick Leahy is Pat) had not taken Paul’s advice (and the advice of others) and decided to not go into television I get chills of another kind. Just imagining a world without that smile and tooting “Bon Appetit!” Go on, imagine it, I dare you. You just tried to imagine it, didn’t you? And you’re currently curled up in the fetal position with feces stained undergarments and tears running down your cheekbones, aren’t you? You saw the boils in a bag and bland potatoes with flaccid meat and processed food passing through your intestine. Go ahead and sob some more, I understand.

I’m not trying to say that Julia Child single-handedly revolutionized food in America (James Beard, Judith Jones and many others played very important roles) but she certainly seemed to have brought it into the main stream. (Fun fact: Her show was also the first to be adapted for the deaf, according to Wikipedia.)

Where was this post going again? Oh yes:

  1. I don’t know how I lived before watching The French Chef
  2. It’s best to have minor details such as “Is this a date?” cleared up before you watch Julia Child together and go for a moonlit walk in the woods together.
  3. Julia Child is, to quote Satchel Pooch, “The treat giver to my heart.”

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That Ol’ Purple Box

Butter and a butter knife

Image via Wikipedia

Annie’s Mac and Cheese. Annie’s Shells & White Cheese. It has Bernie’s “Rabbit of Approval” so it has to be good, no?

No.

Unfortunately this simple but wholesome fare is so easy to ruin that I’ve had plenty of bad bowls of Annie’s. Runny sauce, clumpy sauce, limp noodles- egh. My own parents can’t seem to produce a decent batch. And no, I’m not picky, I just know what I like and am not afraid to say so.

Don’t despair, there is a way to produce it in a way that makes you just moan with joy. You just need to know how to produce it just right. Let’s look at what the box says:

  • Boil: 8 cups of water in a medium saucepan.
  • Stir In: pasta, bring to boil again.
  • Cook: 8-10 minutes, until done. While pasta is cooking…
  • Measure: 1/3 cup lowfat milk in a measuring cup. Add cheese and stir until smooth.
  • Drain: pasta in colander. Return to saucepan.
  • Pour: cheese sauce over pasta and stir well.”

In my opinion they left out a few things. Let me show you:

  • Boil: 8 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Fine.
  • Stir In: pasta, bring to boil again. Stir these noodles in! Try to keep the noodles from sticking to the bottom of your metal saucepan. (You paid good money for this and want every noodle.)
  • Cook: 8-10 minutes, until done. While pasta is cooking… 8-9 minutes depending on your stove. 10 minutes pushes it for my taste buds.
  • Measure: 1/3 cup lowfat milk in a measuring cup. Add cheese and stir until smooth. Stir? Beat. Beat that cheese into the milk (I say whole milk but that can depend on your dietary needs). It’s smooth? Beat it more. Your wrist hurts? Beat it more. Your fingers bleed? Beat it more. Your measuring cup has broken from your viciousness beating? Done.
  • Drain: pasta in colander. Return to saucepan. Rinse it before returning to the saucepan and then add a dollop of butter to the pasta. And I’m using the Julia Child measurement of a dollop of butter (conversion: two sticks of butter.)
  • Pour: cheese sauce over pasta and stir well. Remember the instructions for the beating of the cheese? Do the same (but a bit more gently, pasta breaks and broken pasta is impossible to stick on your tongue like a yarmulke.)

Keep in mind that these instructions are based off of my own personal taste buds. You can go ahead and ignore these instructions if you want, it’s a free country (despite what Mr. Beck likes to claim.)

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