Archive | July, 2010

Time’s Up

31 Jul

Just as I have an aversion to pot holders, so too goes the little, annoying device known to many as the kitchen timer. I don’t like ’em. And, here’s why: They rob one’s natural ability to trust the passage of time. They force one to turn away from using one’s senses, of smell, touch, and sight to know when it’s time to check on the half-baked cookies; the third-of-the-way sauce reduction; or the spring-back of a pound cake, its corners pulled slightly away from the pan.

Worse still, is the nawing feeling at the back of my mind that time is ticking away–tick-tock, tick-tock, tic, tic, tic….I feel compelled to stay close-by, afraid to leave the kitchen, so as not to miss the inevitable tingy noise, alerting me–no, urging me–to spring toward the oven, mit in hand, to find a perfectly golden-brown, springy cake smile back at me, knowing that I owe this beautifully baked creation to the time machine.

Well, I’m taking a stand. No more timers. Have you ever seen a timer in a Hell’s Kitchen episode?  No, you have not. And, do you know why Chef Ramsey won’t allow it? Because timers don’t know how to cook. They only know how to count time. Do you want to be a cook, or do you want to be a clock?  

This stand I’ve taken has been a good one. Except today, when I decided to do a Google search for kitschy kitchen timers. I had no idea the world in which kitchen timers live. There are digital ones. Wind ups and temperature-sensitive ones for cooking the perfect egg.  As I perused the sites, I found some really nifty ones. Some were sleek and artsy, some vintage-inspired, yet others were a bit designer-challenged.

I soon found myself  locked in an emotional tug-of-war with these simple time machines and began to think that I might like to have a few. Just for their curious asthetic. A collection of odd, little timers sitting on one of my kitchen ledges might be a good compromise. I won’t have to wind them up. Just let them sit there, all silly and quiet.

my favorite--a magnetic timer

a simple wind-up

Williams-Sonoma sleek timer

lux perfect egg--color-changing timer

You can find the websites on my blogroll, for those of you not yet ready to join the “no timers” coalition. Remember, there’s no time like the present.

WV Motherload

29 Jul

The Fiestaware arrived yesterday!  Who knew that something so basic as WV clay could spark such a fervor among so many? One huge box, with enough foam peanuts to satisfy a small preschool count, arrived. Within, were two smaller boxes, with additional “peanuts,” containing the precious WV colorful pottery. Sixteen pieces, in all.

We chose many colors, but my absolute favorite? Peacock blue.  There’s something mysterious about that shade of blue, for some odd reason. I remember seeing a magazine spread of a Victorian home, whose living room was painted in this same color–its woodwork trimmed in high gloss white. 

Have you ever seen a piece of shiny, colorful pottery that made you want to eat it? That’s what I felt like doing when I saw my Peacock-blue plate. 

As much as I feign over it, you really don’t need to worry about which color to choose. You can’t go wrong with any of the colors they offer.

BTW: Also ordered a couple of their striped glasses. One orange, the other yellow.  Each has the Fiestaware name etched at the bottom face of the glass. They are of proper weight and look really pretty in my glass-faced kitchen cabinets.  I think I shall order a few more, as everyone in my household is fighting over them. Really? Over glassware?

I’m convinced that one day, Fiestaware will be found in every American household, and then all will be right in the world. Or, at least, in America.

Squashed

27 Jul

Kaukab's Lebanese Squash

Last week, while perusing the farmers’ market, I spotted some cute, minature-sized green squashes. The kind Kaukab relied on to make her tasty Lebanese-style stuffed squashlets. My daughter had a taste for some, just before I left for the market.  So when I found these little jewels, I grabbed a bunch to take home and re-create a new childhood memory.

These aren’t always offered in grocery markets, unless it’s a Whole Foods kind of place. Generally, you’ll have to scour farmers’ markets or small, independent Asian or Middle Eastern shops. Sounds like a running theme, here, doesn’t it?  I’m just the messenger.

Check out my recipe in the Table Menus section, if you’re so inclined. And, remember the pita bread.

Every Which Way, Fried

26 Jul

At a small WV town–probably an oxymoron–Saturday for my daughter’s band gig.  I love to use the word “gig.”  Anyway, it was so hot–desert hot–and the breezes were lacking in force and frequency.

So, just as the band was readying themselves to play, behind them–no more than ten yards–a group of scantly dressed men and one equally scantly-dressed aging woman, were readying themselves for a family-fun evening of wrestling matches, set atop a large rectangular-shaped sparring ring, complete with a regulation-dressed referee.

To understand fully the beauty of irony, the band was of a Christian-rock nature.  When they started the set, most were hanging out at the other venue.  Into their second song, many had made their way over to hear a different kind of message.

The heat was scorching, but we weren’t the only things being fried.  My daughter and her boyfriend decided to troll the food vendors and came back meeting most of the fair food pyramid: fried oreos, fried banana with chocolate sauce; and the vegetable course–fried sour pickle chips. Kaukab would not have approved. The only thing fried on her table were pieces of cauliflower, fish, or octopus–sans top dressing. Not quite the same, is it?

I tried the pickle chips. Not bad. The banana was better. Didn’t have the heart to ask for a bite of the oreo. They were enjoying them too much. They ended the evening with heaps of snow cones. Gotta love the fair.

P.S. Would’ve brought the camera, if I had known where we were going.

Apologies to all.

Rollin’ In Fiestaware

24 Jul

Just placed an order for more of the famed WV pottery. Wish it weren’t such a fame whore, though. Getting harder to find good discounts, even at their factory outlet. Usually, they’ve got plenty assortments of ,what they call their “seconds,” but these are getting stingier by the year. In an effort to best serve my Fiestaware habit–brought about by my son, Marshall–I’ve looked elsewhere. Turned my back, temporarily, on WV and found some really nice deals on a website called “Megachina.” You can pick your colors, mix ’em up, and they’ll ship anywhere. Here’s the website: www.Megachina.com I did, however, save the original WVwebsite to my blogroll. It’s a great site, with some nice deals, as well. Plus, it has the history of the HomerLaughlin company, Fiestaware’s roots. Check ’em out in the blogroll. 

I’m sorry, WV. Just couldn’t help myself. Please, don’t be angry with me. I still find you Wild and Wonderful. Just not cheap enough in these recessionary times we’re a livin’ .

Salsa or Chutney?

23 Jul

Last night I made some pork loins and thought they’d like some company, but didn’t want to stick with making my mango salsa. I usually make a sweet little salsa to pair with grilled chicken or salmon, and would’ve thought the same if I had grilled the pork loins. But, I remembered reading about chutneys a while back and thought this might be an interesting twist to the meal. I like the idea of pairing the pork loin pieces with a warmed-up version of traditional salsa.

Here’s what I did: I took some of the basic ingredients of my mango salsa and used them to make the chutney. The pork loins were sprinkled with garlic salt and cracked black pepper and then sauteed in a little canola oil, until browned on both sides and white on the sides; then into a 350 degree oven, foil-covered for another 10 – 15 minutes, tops. I made the chutney while the loins (don’t think it) were cooking through.

Chutney: 3 ripe mangos, cubed

                    1/4 to 1/2 small jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

                    1/8 tsp. or slightly less of ginger paste

                     1/2  lime for zest; 1 wedge amt. of lime juice

                    pinch of cumin

If the mangos aren’t sweet enough, you can add a drizzle of  honey or a pinch of  brown sugar.

Cut the mangos so that you have two large pieces cut away from the pit. Score vertically and horizontally so that you have lots of squares. Use a teaspoon to scrape all into the small saucepan, so that all the juice gets in there. Add all other ingredients. Slowly heat on low, stirring occasionally. Should take about 10 min. Remove when they’ve started to break down and feels warmed through.

Spoon some alongside or on top of your loins. You decide.

Enjoy.

Creped Out

21 Jul

Back from my lunch at ‘The Creperi.’  Almost went for the breakfast crepe of  ham, feta, olives, tomatoes, and greens dressed with Greek dressing. Then, did what I accuse my hubby of always doing: stuck with my tried-and-true: Salmon Crepe, as I described previously. (I’m assuming you read my previous post.) My friend, a first-time visitor, had the “Greek crepe,” which consisted of greens w/Greek dressing, feta, tomatoes and black olives.

We each got a dessert crepe. Yes, I stuck with my tried-and-true and had the raspberry and Nutella crepe. Friend, who doesn’t care much for chocolate (and she’s a she) had the equally tasty almonds, cinnamon, raisins, and butter crepe.

We spent the next two hours feebishly attacking various local and world problems; and I have to admit, crepes seem to lower the frustration meter that inevitably comes with solving global inequities.

I’m sorry to report: the world continues to operate much as it had two hours prior to our crepe fest, but there are now several happier crepe-eating  patrons roaming about the streets of Charleston, WV. I don’t know about you, but that bit of knowledge gives me renewed hope for a better day.

Crepes. Changing the world one patron at a time.

P.S.  My two boys weren’t much about improving the world as they were about getting their take-out cheeseburgers I had bribed, uh, offered them for “allowing” myself a relatively guilt-free lunch out with a friend. I figured I’d be out for an hour, ninety minutes–tops. Guess, I needed it more than I had realized.

Crepes du jour

21 Jul

Will be having lunch with a fellow homeschooling mom–actually, she’s done; her kid’s in college–tomorrow to buy some school materials at bargain-basement prices. And, if that’s not excitement enough, we’ll be dining at a cute, little creperi shop–a local favorite. The shop is owned and run by a Greek couple–he’s from Crete–who first learned to make crepes while living in Paris some time ago. They use authentic, Paris-made-Paris shipped crepe machines and they make your crepes while you watch.

I always order the buckwheat crepe filled with their Greek salad greens dressed with their homemade Greek vinegarette, plus smoked salmon topped with feta and black olives, followed by a dessert crepe of raspberry and Nutella, topped with toasted almonds and powder sugar. So yummy, I can’t stand it. I’m sure I’ll be dreaming of these tonight. Tomorrow can’t come too soon.

Check out their link on my blogroll.

Even the Drum Stool

18 Jul

I realize I have posted twice–in the same day–but felt could not wait. Earlier, I had posted about about my son’s drum lessons and his instructor’s use of food labels to teach rhythm (refer to post  Jun. 30 ‘Food in the Strangest Places’ ).

Well, today, one of my daughter’s bandmates (check them out in the blogroll section), Jared–a drummer–had checked out my son’s electric drum set.  I had asked him about what kind of drum stools to look at, since my son’s toosh had inquired about one, given its dislike for hard, unforgiving counter stools.

Jared, 'Pork Pie' drummer

Jared, ever the teaser, mentioned emphatically, “Pork Pie!”  I kid you not. I thought I had heard incorrectly, so I re-directed the question. Again, “Pork Pie!”

What is it with the drumming industry and its penchant for food labels?

My Corny Story

18 Jul

I had been to the farmers’ market yesterday, and like every other visit there, I like to end at my favorite stall to gather up their locally-farmed honey and sweet corn. I do buy other produce from them, but the corn and honey are the best of the whole market.

So, as I’m standing at the counter to pay, one of the girls says to me (in a modulated voice which spoke of immense curiosity), “You sure do buy a lot of corn! Do you have a big family?” To which I answer dumbly, “Well, no, I have three kids…and a husband, so that’s only five of us, but I had a lot of people over for the 4th of July, and I tend to have a lot of people who visit, and, well, did I mention that we really love your corn…it’s so sweet…the best here….?” By now the line has grown behind me in a most imposing way. 

Really, I don’t think she cared to know why I thought it was important to verbally defend my corn needs. She just wanted to let me know that if I needed to, they sell corn by the  boxful.

I think the most I bought at any one time was 3 dozen (for the 25-plus 4th of July-ers). My usual count is anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 dozen.  It’s just that, I buy them every week. At the same stall. Because they’re best there. Is that so wrong?   

Corn, I Will Always Love You

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