Archive | June, 2009

The Best Way to Cook a Chicken

27 Jun

EVER….

Seriously.

It fell.apart.

Two mornings ago I threw two cornish game hens (little chickens, basically) into our crock pot on low; last night we had the most incredibly tender chicken dinner you’ve ever eaten. Like I said, I’ve been on this “crock pot once a week” kick… So far I’ve had two hits and one very large miss (not the crock pot’s fault… too much yogurt… ugh…). I was running later than I had anticipated yesterday and my husband had eaten part of what I had planned to cook with the chicken, but I lined the bottom of the crock pot with onion, celery and garlic (I didn’t even bother to pop the skins on the garlic) and salted and peppered the chickens before placing them on top. I added a pat of butter to the top of the chicken because I read someplace that it would help crisp up the skin (it did, but I don’t think I’d use it again because I don’t think it’s necessary). I wanted to add carrots and lemon and parsnips (and will next time) on the top. I would have probably added a bay leaf if I’d thought of it.

But that’s it.

And I turned it on low and ran out the door and came home (10 1/2 hours later) to the most incredible smelling roast chicken I’d ever cooked.  And everything – including the breast, which can dry out – was super tender.  It literally fell apart; the bones even fell apart from one another (which looked a little gross in the chest cavity but was awfully cool for getting all the little bits of chicken meat!).  The aromatics were mush, but the liquid they let out – coupled with the chicken’s juices – was just begging to be used.  So after I took the chicken out of the pot, I added about 4 cups of water to it and set it on low for another few hours.  Instant (okay, slow-cooked) chicken broth!

Of course I was too excited to take a photo (bad blogger!), but the chickens were not only delectable – they looked awesome too.  If you’ve ever boiled/poached a chicken, you know that grey color the skin gets when it’s not roasted…  The slow cooker amazingly produced a fabulous carmely-brown skin (perhaps because of the butter?).  It looked so pretty.

I think this will work just fine with a full-sized chicken (just make sure it fits your slow-cooker!).  And it’s DEFINITELY worth trying.  I have never had a chicken this tender!

“Oh, you lost so much weight!”

25 Jun

Note: this rant about weight is NOT in any way related to any discussions with friends, etc.  It stems from this discussion I had a few weeks ago and I’ve been bouncing around in my head how it was going to be written for a while.  I was reminded this morning that I wanted to write it (by something a friend posted), but if you’re reading this, trust me, you have not offended me in this way.  Even so, it might be something to think about the next time you tell someone she’s lost a “ton” of weight! 😉

 

A few weeks ago, I went in to get my legs waxed.  I don’t always go to this salon, so it had been a while since I’d seen the waxer.  The first thing she said when I came in was, “Oh, you’ve lost so much weight!”  I usually just laugh it off, but for some reason I decided to argue with her.  Silly, I know, but I hadn’t actually lost weight – in fact I’d gained it.  She argued back that I had lost “LOTS!” (insert emphatic gestures here).

Um.  Thanks.

Here’s the thing, everyone.  We all do it.  “You look great!  Have you lost weight?!?”  A lot of times it’s flattering.  It’s a compliment – you look fabulous!!!

In my case, though, I’ve gained about 15 pounds since my wedding.  About 14 of those are due to stress (contrary to what you might think when you see the number of posts on rich foods here on my blog, I actually eat a lot of fruits and veggies and overall have a balanced eating pattern…  and since the end of April – read: the end of the super-stressful period – I’ve only gained a single pound, despite not being able to get active because of my ankle).  I can feel it in my middle (a sure sign that it’s stress weight) and when I walk I feel differently than I used to.  It’s really unpleasant.

I am self-conscious about it; not enough to go on a crazy crash diet, but enough to feel offended when you insist that I’ve lost gobs of weight.  Because I haven’t.  Right now, at this moment, I am at the heaviest I have ever, ever been.  Which means that when you say I’ve lost all sorts of weight, I think, “Geez, why would they say that?”  I feel like somewhere along the line, your idea of how I looked got all screwed up and blown out of proportion, and you had this picture of me as a hugely fat person.  Which I am not.  I have never been hugely fat.

When I had lost a ton of weight – 30 pounds (through a rigorous healthy-eating plan that left no room for anything fun, obsessing over the scale, and working out, actually not more than is healthy, but bordering on it) – my mom’s cousin (who we were visiting in England at the time) commented that I “really must have been chubby before.”  I wanted to reach out and strangle him (he was driving, so I restrained myself, but I didn’t talk to him for basically the entire rest of the trip).  He was implying that since I was so “chubby” at thirty pounds less, I had to have been a HUUUUUGE fatty before.

I will not use the word I almost called him (in front of my parents, no less).  But suffice it to say that it’s not appropriate for network TV.

Likewise, during that same time period, my dentist (who’s known me since I was a late teenager) raved, “You lost a whole person!”  Um.  No, I didn’t.  If I’d have lost a whole person’s worth of weight (even a very small person), I’d be the weight of a fourth grader.  I was never that fat to begin with.

Way to make a girl feel weirdly conscious about her weight.

I don’t know a single woman who isn’t self-conscious about her weight, whether it’s gone up or down.  I don’t own a scale (on purpose – when I did, I was checking my weight five or six times a day) and I don’t usually know how much I weigh, but I’ve been to the doctor several times over the last six months.  I hate stepping on that scale and seeing the number.  It hasn’t jumped in a while, but it’s still this number I never thought I’d see.  And when you ask if I’ve lost a ton of weight, it makes me feel even worse about it.

Weight loss – or gain – is a very personal thing, with very personal reasons.  It might have a million different factors – from stress to a lack of time to cook fresh and nutritious meals to an illness to a really awesome new trainer to an eating disorder.  I’m not saying not to talk about it – in fact, I know that it often helps keep people motivated to do so – but keeping a lid on offhanded comments about people you don’t know all that well is probably good (ahem, waxer-lady!!!).  And by the way, I probably weigh 40 or 50 pounds more than you do, at your “fat” weight.

For the record, my weight gain – just like the scars from my car accident – is a part of me right now.  It doesn’t mean I like it very much – just like some days I look at the lumpy scar where they had to take out the bleeding intestines and think “this is so ugly it hurts,” or I feel the silver-dollar-sized crater where they had to scrape away dead tissue after my back surgery and gag.   And it doesn’t mean I don’t think about what might have happened had I not gotten totally stressed out and put on cortisol-induced poundage – just like some days I wonder why my mom didn’t pull over when the brakes felt a little strange, or why the light was red, or why all of the lanes had other cars in them, or why I was sitting at the angle I was, or why the back seat buckled when we hit the back of the other car. 

But overall I have accepted it.  I am okay with how I look right now.  In fact, some days I think I look pretty awesome (other days, I think I look like I’ve been run over by an 18-wheeler, but that isn’t actually related to the whole weight issue!).  So I’m not going to stress myself out further by trying to take it off quickly (since of course weight loss is always slower than weight gain). 

I hope to be able to start actually walking again next week (not 5 miles at a stretch yet, but assuming that my ankle is well enough I feel like a mile or two every other day might be in order).  In fact, I miss walking – and it’s not even about my weight, but how the endorphins make me feel.  I want to walk.  And you know what?  If I walk and walk and stay the same weight, I will be okay.  My weight doesn’t have to go down for me to be happy.

But please, for the love of God (and waxer-lady, I’m talking to you!)…  Don’t rave about my weight loss unless it’s actually happened!!!

It’s Mine!!

24 Jun

Okay, you have to understand a few things, first off.  I played with Barbies until I was 12 or 13.  Secondly, I collected them for a few years after that.  I love Barbies, bad rap for screwing with little girls’ body image and all (I think I turned out okay after playing with them, no matter about their origins as German sex toys).  But I haven’t bought a Barbie, or had one bought for me, in probably 12 or 13 years, at least.  There was a point, though, where I had each of the holiday editions and some of the other fun ones (Wonder Woman, Lucy, etc.).

There was this particular Barbie that I really, really wanted.  She came out in 1993 or ’94 and she was the object of my desire.  I was a bit obsessive over ancient Egypt, not just that year (although it was right after I read Mara, Daughter of the Nile, admittedly not the best book in my childhood repertoire, but it piqued my interest) but for a long time.  I could recite the ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses, read some hyroglyphics, etc.  For this reason I had to go to the King Tut exhibit when it was in Los Angeles a few years ago (and was sorely disappointed – the British Museum was SO much better and cheaper!).  But I digress.

This Barbie was all the gorgeousness of the world’s most popular fashion doll with all the incredible Egyptian mythology mixed in.  She was part of the “Great Eras” series of dolls, and I think originally sold for something around $60.  My mom had thought to buy her for me for Christmas that year and for some reason didn’t (we just had this discussion and she can’t even remember anymore).  I am pretty sure that the story is that the doll was on sale, but I was out shopping with my mom; she decided to come back to the store when I wasn’t with her (to surprise me) and when she got back all the dolls were sold.  Even years later, my mom would say “Remember that Egyptian Barbie?  I should have gotten her for you…”

Since then, I’ve seen her a few times.  I think we even looked her up once.  She was priced at over $100.  “Collector” Barbies can get quite expensive, and as much as I thought she was just gorgeous I had no desire to spend that kind of money.  I stopped collecting a long time ago and just didn’t think about her since.

But yesterday I stopped into the toy shop here in La Jolla.  It’s moving to the mall and selling off all the old stock.  I walked carefully through the aisles, looking for something interesting (for hubby’s class, or a niece, or a cousin, or a friend’s baby, or just a fun art project for yours truly).  But it was mostly cleaned out.  I stopped in the Barbie aisle (hey, I can still look!) and noticed some of my favorite old dolls.  There was the Holiday Barbie from 1996 (yes, I have her)…  And then I saw the Grecian Goddess Barbie.

Now, the Grecian Goddess Barbie was in the “Great Eras” collection too.  I looked down the shelf and they had the Chinese one, but no Egyptian Barbie.  Still…

“Do you happen to have the Egyptian one?” I asked the owner, thinking he’d say “No, everything’s out on the shelves” and I’d leave.  “Hang on,” he said instead.  “Let me check.”

He walked into the back and I walked down another aisle, trying not to hover.  I wondered if it would still be exciting, 15 years later.  He was in the back room a while and when he returned, he was carrying a little box.  “Is this it?” he asked.

Egyptian Barbie smiled up at me.  I tried not to squeal.  Yup.  Felt the same.  “How much?”  I asked, trying to restrain myself.  “Well, they’re normally $60, but it’s half off.  So $30,” he answered.  “I’ll take it!” I said.  “I loved it so much when it first came out and never got it!”

So…  Here’s my find, photo courtesy of Wow Dolls (where Egyptian Barbie is currently being sold for $89…  yeah, I got a good deal!).

I finally got my Egyptian Barbie!

I finally got my Egyptian Barbie!

Pantry-Clearing Pizza

23 Jun

Or should I say fridge-clearing?  Either way, last night I realized on the (longer than usual, stupid traffic) drive home that we had been so caught up in the weekend’s festivities that we had a) not come up with a menu for the week and b) not gone shopping over the weekend.  We had also c) not used up most of what we bought for last week, since we had so many places we had to be (and I got sick).  I racked my brains, trying to come up with a suitable dinner plan.

I got home with two ideas in my head – burgers or spaghetti – both utilizing things we’d bought a few weeks ago.  I was all set to use a (gasp) jarred spaghetti sauce Hubby had picked up when I hit on another idea that would be more flexible and healthier.  And use nothing but what we already had.  Pizza.

Now, I know pizza isn’t exactly considered a “health food”, but I think it’s gotten a bad rap for years.  After all, not all pizza is covered in extra cheese.  And nutritionist Paul Saltman gave a lecture in one of my classes years ago, swearing that pizza is one of the healthiest meals one can have, since if it’s got lots of veggies, it’s got all your food groups in one convenient package.  And when Hubby and I make pizza, we love to pile on the veggies!

I wasn’t quite ready to think about eating yet, so we started slow.  I mixed up a quick dough with whole wheat flour only (I used my standard bread recipe – 1 tbsp yeast, 2 tsp sugar, 2 1/2 cups warm but not hot water, add 2 tsp salt and enough flour to make it the texture you want – but halved it and made it sort of sticky…  only because I felt like it) and popped three artichokes that we’d harvested about two weeks ago (they’d been living in the fridge) into boiling water with a couple of cloves of garlic and some dried parsley and basil.  I also started to “melt” the onions.

Now I say “melting” the onions instead of “carmelizing” them because the latter process takes a good 45 minutes to an hour and truly should be done in a dutch oven so that the last good bit of cooking can happen in the oven…  And I lack the patience to truly carmelize my onions.  So I “melt” them on the stove with a little butter and a good bit of salt (to help draw water out of the onions). 

This is how the onions started

This is how the onions started

My stove seems to have a gap between “Medium-Low” heat and “Extremely Low” – so a few of the bits of onion burned.  But considering that I was in the living room playing a board game when much of the cooking was going on, I think it was a pretty decent trade off! 🙂

This is how the onions ended up...  Pretty, soft, and carmel-colored

This is how the onions ended up... Pretty, soft, and carmel-colored

When the onions were mostly-done, and the dough had been rising and the artichokes cooking for about 45 minutes, I drained the artichokes, punched down the dough, and turned on the oven.  Now, of course, I couldn’t find my stupid pizza stone (we found it later in the perfectly logical place next to the washing machine… don’t ask), so I had to cook my pizza on a cookie sheet (it’s not nearly as crisp).  If I’d been able to find it, I’d have popped it in the oven at least 45 minutes prior to needing to bake my pizza.  If you don’t have a pizza stone, GET one.  They’re awesome (thanks Hannes for the wedding gift!). 

While the artichokes were cooling and the dough was rising a second time, I took the onions out of the pan (and yes, if you were being smart, you’d drain them on a paper towel, but I just left them in the butter…  oh well) and put in some eggplant.  We don’t usually eat eggplant, but we had some in the fridge because I’ve been experimenting with it.  It was a little soft, but seemed to be mostly good.  I cut it into thin slices, using mostly the non-seedy pieces, and completely peeled the thing (the skin is really bitter) and tossed it with a little lemon juice.  Then in the pan I added olive oil and garlic.  I remembered after a few minutes what a sponge eggplant is (it was sucking up the olive oil like crazy instead of sauteeing in it) and decided to add a little more flavor to the party.  I drizzled it with my trusty balsamic vinegar and cooked it until it was soft.  Truthfully, I think that this was my favorite part of the finished pizza.  The flavor was incredible!

I julienned some small sweet peppers that were on their last legs, tossing them with a little olive oil in the same sautee pan.  Then I cut up the artichoke and some very thin asparagus and some basil and parsley (side note: if you want to store basil in the fridge, wrap it in a damp paper towel…  I had two packages in there, one with the damp paper towel and one without, and without a doubt that’s the way to go).  I had Hubby grate the leftover bits of cheese (sharp gouda and sharp cheddar) that were left in the fridge and mix them with the grated mozzarella that was left over from my homemade lasagna (all together there were about 1 1/2 cups of cheese, which sounds like a lot but really isn’t for a large pizza like this).  Lastly, I made “sausage” out of ground turkey (from our freezer) mixed with dry parsley and basil, lemon pepper, and granulated garlic.  I added panko breadcrumbs to try to keep as much moisture in as possible and rolled them into balls (next time, I’d flatten out a big piece and put it over the sauce, under the veggies, to try to have the veggies’ moisture seep into the meat… or I’d just use a ground meat that actually contains some fat).  Oh, and the jarred pasta sauce?  Fantastic as a pizza sauce (Barilla with sweet peppers, in case you’re wondering).

All my ingredients, laid out and ready to use (yes, those are paper plates...  hey, it works!)

All my ingredients, laid out and ready to use (yes, those are paper plates... hey, it works!)

Soooo…  I had all the ingredients laid out and ready to go.  Now to start the pizza crust.  I stretched it out as best I could and sort of smushed it out, trying not to stick it to the pan (I failed).  I should have gone with a less sticky crust, but it still worked out okay.  I par-baked it (at 450 for about 10 minutes) before putting on the toppings (and scraped it off the cookie sheet before it went in again).

Par-baked pizza crust

Par-baked pizza crust

 I started with the sauce and then the herbs.  Now, as I said above, I’d probably spread the “sausage” thinly over the sauce next time, but I’d never used ground turkey as a pizza topping before and I didn’t know how quickly it would dry out…  Anyway, I added the onions next.

Mmmm...  Sauce, herbs, and onions...

Mmmm... Sauce, herbs, and onions...

Gah, I’m getting hungry just looking at it!  Next came the rest of the veggies, all spread out to try to get everything in each bite…

Tasty, healthy, and beautiful!

Tasty, healthy, and beautiful!

Lastly, I added the turkey “sausage.”  I had a moment of panic that the pieces weren’t cooked (since I usually cook my meat before putting it on my pizza), but they turned out just fine (if a little dry).  I know it looks like a LOT of sausage (I used about half a package) but it cooks down quite a bit.

Raw turkey "sausage" on the pizza

Raw turkey "sausage" on the pizza

Next came the cheese (about a cup and a half, which is NOT a lot of cheese for a large pizza like this), and despite my reservations about using sharp cheddar and gouda together with all the veggies, etc., they actually played really nicely together.  I might add sharp cheese to all my pizzas now!  And then it was time for a 450-degree oven for 15-20 minutes…

Into the oven it goes!

Into the oven it goes!

 When it was bubbly and the sausage turned white, I took it out (even though I like my cheese a little more “done”, I was afraid the sausage would turn into little hockey pucks).

Melty!

Melty!

I put it on my pizza stone to cool and be cut (since I wouldn’t want to cut on my cookie sheet).  At least I got some use out of the stone last night!

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

All that there was left to do was to serve it.  We ate it with a salad made from leftover tomatoes, cucumber, and sweet corn (we left out the beautiful green beans that the neighbor brought over – boo!!) and a nice sweet fizzy Italian wine.  It was a totally incredible meal out of just what we had lying around the house!!!

Okay, now I'm hungry...

Okay, now I'm hungry...

Almond Layer Cake

23 Jun

This weekend, we were celebrating not only the Great American Father’s Day, but also two anniversaries – my parents’ 32nd and my great aunt and uncle’s 63rd.  Yes, 63rd wedding anniversary.  And they’re so incredibly in love.

Anyway, they kind of snuck up on me, these celebrations.  I’ve been having this incredible roller coaster ride this month, full of parties and shows and weddings, and have really lost track of time!  So I hadn’t really planned out a gift.  To help make up for it, though, I decided I’d bake a from-scratch cake for my family’s anniversaries.  And since I’d done a lemon cake for Mother’s Day and neither my mom nor sister should have strawberries or lemons all that often, I figured I’d change it up a bit and do an almond-flavored cake.

I had planned to add ground almonds, but my sister suggested that it probably wasn’t the best for mom’s digestive issues, so I used almond extract and almond butter instead.  And I was surprised at how nicely it turned out!

First, mixing the filling – I made a buttercream (recipe straight from the C&H powdered sugar box) using almond butter in place of most of the real butter.  It was a little too wet (my fault for chilling it and spreading it right out of the fridge) but tasted great.

Almond buttercream filling

Almond buttercream filling

I used the standard yellow cake recipe from my battered copy of Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (the gold standard in cookbooks for generations on both sides of my family).  It’s not necessarily the most interesting recipe (and I saw one yesterday on Bakerella that I’m kind of curious about) but it’s kind of a no-fail one.  I added almond extract to the batter – several tablespoons – and removed a little of the milk so it wouldn’t be too runny (I love almond and vanilla together, so I left in the vanilla extract too).  I didn’t have any cake flour, so I pulsed all purpose flour in the food processor.  To tell you the truth, even though it worked, I miss using my feathery cake flour and need to get some more before the next time I bake.  I actually used one and one half recipes, so I could make a tiered cake, and greased four baking pans (two standard 8″ cake pans and two of my beloved 6″ vintage Pyrex) and lined them with parchment paper (I didn’t grease the parchment and was a little nervous, but it worked like a CHARM).  Here are two of the baked cakes.

Pretty fluffy yellow cakes

Pretty fluffy yellow cakes

I cooled for 10 minutes in the pan, separated the sides of the cake from the sides of the pan with a butter knife, and flipped them over.  I peeled off the parchment paper, and voila! – the easiest cake release I’ve ever had.  And I’ve had some messy ones.

Peeling off the parchment paper!

Peeling off the parchment paper!

I attempted to cut the layers to even sizes.  Of course, I know how you’re supposed to do it – with spacers and measures and a large serrated knife, after they’re 100% cooled…  But I was under a time crunch and didn’t plan ahead enough.  So I settled on the large serrated knife after they were 75% cooled.  They got kind of mangled, but it’s okay.  I slathered the first layer with a leetle too much of the yummy almond buttercream (you’re only supposed to cover the inner 75% or so of the cake – and of course I went all the way to the edges before I remembered that).  As you can see, it wasn’t the prettiest cake when it was being stacked.  Also I didn’t have enough parchment paper to properly place underneath the first layer, so the whole plate ended up getting full of frosting later on…  (and no comments about the entire contents of my herb/spice/baking cupboard being out on the counter behind it…  I couldn’t find the almond extract!).

Oozy filling, uneven layers...  But who cares?  It's a yummy homemade cake!

Oozy filling, uneven layers... But who cares? It's a yummy homemade cake!

I had the hardest time with the frosting…  Should I make a standard buttercream?  Too sweet.  Smitten Kitchen’s swiss buttercream?  My mom would flip out about uncooked egg whites (plus I was feeding three people over eighty and I don’t want to be responsible for giving anyone food poisoning).  I finally decided to go with a whipped cream frosting, but I wanted it to stand up to not being in the fridge the whole time.  So I found a sort of recipe online (I can’t remember where, it wasn’t a cooking blog or site, just a forum someplace) and went with it.  I wish now that I’d used more of the gelatin, but the basic recipe was for me to scald (er, heat?) 2 tbsp cream and add it to 2 tsp unflavored, powdered gelatin dissolved in 2 tbsp of water and chill it for 20 minutes before adding it to the rest of the pint of cream, whipped with 2 tbsp powdered sugar and 1 tsp vanilla.  Later on, I saw the same recipe elsewhere, but it used the whole packet of gelatin.  I think if I do this again I’d use the whole packet, and probably chill the frosting before spreading it.  As it was, it was sort of messy, but it ended up setting up nicely once I popped the whole frosted cake in the fridge for a half hour.  I don’t like refrigerating cakes, because I think it gives them a different texture than fresh cakes, but in this case it was worth it.

Totally frosted and ready to go!

Totally frosted and ready to go!

We stuck a few pansies from my mom’s garden on the top of the cake to serve.  Pansies (when grown pesticide-free, of course) are totally edible (they taste, well, flowery) and I love how pretty they looked.  You can see in this photo how much firmer the frosting looks (and this was after we’d had taken the cake out of the fridge and had it on the table for about an hour). 

Pretty!

Pretty!

Of course, the really distracting part was that, as you can see, the cake sprung a leak.  This is why they tell you to not overfill the darn thing.  And also why I’d add more sugar next time to my filling (it was just too liquid).  Regardless, it was all tasty!

Nice soft texture with the almond buttercream filling

Nice soft texture with the almond buttercream filling

Crockpot Curry: FAIL!

17 Jun

So last week I posted about how we were planning to do a meal in the crockpot every week.  I’m generally a pretty good cook, so I tend to just “wing it” when I’m cooking, and I got the idea to do a curry meal – long-simmering – in the crock pot this week.  I mixed together the veggies and the beef and the spices (I’ve done this plenty of times in a regular pot) and then contemplated the vehicle for the curry sauce.

When making a stove-top curry, I typically sautee the veggies, add the meat, and then add some liquid to simmer it in.  Near the end of the cooking time, I’ll add some sour cream or plain yogurt to make it nice and creamy.  To tell you the truth, I’ve never really considered why I do things in that order.  I just do.

Of course, now I know.

Because on Monday morning, bleary-eyed, I mixed together the veggies, the beef, and the spices directly with the yogurt and turned the crock pot on low.

When I came home, the house smelled divine.  But the thick  creaminess of the yogurt had separated and mixed with the water and juices from the veggies and meat and had become a curdled mess!

I attempted a save, skimming as much of the curdled bits off the top as I could and mixing in a cornstarch slurry.  I added the last of the yogurt that was in the fridge, to sort of attempt a creamy base.  But it was beyond saving, still watery and curdley and just disgusting-looking.

We ate it (with a fantastic batch of nan bread and some decent pilau rice…  although I have to remind myself that the saffron in pilau is seasoning enough for the rice and not to get too creative with it).  The curry flavor was nice, the texture of the meat was perfect (and, given the toughness of the piece I started with, was a real victory in and of itself), and the veggies were well-cooked.  But the long simmering in yogurt had given everything a twinge of extreme tanginess that overtook even the curry’s heat.  It was a real disappointment.  I didn’t even take a photo (although now I think I should have, for posterity) because it was so hugely disgusting.

Of course, I still think it will work just fine – just season the meat before throwing it in (rather than seasoning the pot) and add maybe a touch of alcohol (and NOT YOGURT) for simmering.  Then stir in yogurt at the end to get it nice and creamy…  At least, that’s the plan for next time!

Coming “Clean”

16 Jun

I have a confession. 

It’s not dirty…  In fact, it’s the opposite.

I love the smell of clean laundry. 

As a kid, I’d wait until my parents were about to take a load out of the dryer.  I’d jump on their bed and wait for them to dump a basket of sheets or towels or clothes on top of me and I’d luxuriate in the warm softness of the freshly-washed garments and linens.  I’d bring a piece to my nose and just sniff and sniff.  Even now, laundry is one of my favorite chores to do, because I can enjoy that smell.

There’s a grate in the alley on the way from my office to the neighborhood Starbucks – it’s a vent from the adjacent hotel’s laundry room and there is always a warm, damp breeze blowing from it.  I try to walk on that side of the group whenever we walk down to get coffee, just so I can smell the comforting scent.

This afternoon I walked down on my own to get a tea latte.  On the way back, not caring if anyone saw, I deliberately walked over the grate, stopped and stood there for a minute, letting my hair be blown by the warm, moist air and breathing big deep breaths of the fresh smell.  Then I walked back to the office with a smile on my face.

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