About Me

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on the downward side of the age mountain.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Radical Housewives or Life from Hell?

Living on The Edge means that we either start trends or are the last to embrace them. You can still see Volkswagen Bugs and Wagons with original owners and there are many 60 yr. olds with long grey ponytails and Berkinstocks. So I guess it isn’t such a stretch for our Daily Edge Paper’s food section to run a front page article on-“Radical Homemaking”.

Before I even started to read the article, my eyes landed on the center picture of a young barefoot mother replete w/ apron, big mixing bowl, and her son trying to stuff a wooden spoon full of ? into his cute mouth. He was also barefoot. The “distressed” kitchen cabinets were without doors and the shelves were filled w/ mis-matched dishes and bags of bulk food.

A smaller picture above was of a hearty woman carrying just split wood to her stove and below was another apron garbed brick of a gal with chickens in her yard. All three were joyously happy shunning money. They were young, educated, and white…

In the old days (o.k. I’m showing my age), these gals would have been hippies and a newspaper written for the general public would never have spent the time of day describing their lifestyle. But this is The Edge and we are talking about “Radical Homemakers” of today.

Shannon Hayes, author of Radical Homemakers:Reclaiming domesticity from a Consumer Culture coined the term. These nuevo hippies are sprouting up all over the country (or so she says) and the book validates their exciting new lifestyle.“Most radical homemakers around the country live at about 200% of the federal poverty level. One or two people can do it on $20,000/year. For every additional person you need another $10,000."

Why would anyone want to dumb down to that level? Money means choices and quality of life. I don’t mean acquiring the latest and the greatest each year. I do mean having clean clothes, a healthy meal and regular doctor visits instead of the emergency ward. Maybe even braces or hip replacement. Gee, you could save for college!

“Before when I had only a couple of vegetable left in the bin and money in the pocket, I used to say, ‘I’ll go to the store.’ Now I say, “I’ll use the cabbage’.”
I’m not seeing poor ethnically challenged women in dirty apartments joyfully pedaling their 3 year old to school on the back of their bike. (Cars? Heck no! Let’s donate it to NPR!!) Or rolling up their sleeves to wrestle 50# of flour into wholesome loaves of bread or killing chickens on the ghetto street or soaking beans.

Taking knowledge to the extreme it is becoming popular w/ the Radical Homemakers to home school. Home schooling? I can’t imagine anything worse than having kidlits underfoot 24/7. I guess that’s why, “…homemaking isn’t about keeping a pretty house.” Yes I wanted my child to have the same view of the world as I did but my job was to filter the world she explored and help her understand what she was entering into, not protect her from the boogie man. The Princess has become a liberal after my own heart. She went to public school, University. Today she is earning a living and paying back her student loans. A fete that isn’t accomplished on a marginal income.

I am from the, “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out”, Timothy Leary generation. We were the first to wear long hair, live in groups, become vegetarians and dream of trekking to Ithaca, NY to eat at Moosewood. Short of that we owned their book and dreamed.

In time we cleaned up, and assimilated ourselves into society. We discovered that once the parental dole was cut off, it was time to cut our hair and earn a living.Our experimentation and different lifestyles have changed society.Our music lives on and food has gone from haute to food carts. Creased blue jeans and shirts have replaced suits and ties in trendy restaurants. We grew hair, this generation sprouts tattoos.

We would not have Apple if Bill Gates stayed on the farm and throttled chickens. Alice Waters wouldn’t be able to fly all over the US expounding a healthy way to eat if she didn’t have a lucrative restaurant behind her.

Let’s face it money ain’t all that bad. In fact when there is healthy ebb and flow it makes the world go round. It’s what you do with it that counts and can make a positive impact.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Thanks for the Memories

Michael Ruhlman had an interesting blog today admitting that although he is a heavy hitting foodie/gourmet/writer he had a humble culinary beginning. Recently, his wife reminded him that they indulged and enjoyed Knorr Fettuccine Alfredo, Ruhlman winced.

After justifying his packaged food past he noted that even if he had been given the right recipe, the right ingredients weren’t readily available. Gourmet times in the ‘60’s.

When you are young, hungry, and want to eat, you open the fridge and throw things together. It has nothing to do with a recipe or technique. You eat what you like in whatever fashion you desire. It's a big hit or miss.

I remember going to a friend’s house. No parent around and the older sister making lunch. What a revelation! Elbow macaroni, ground beef, and ketchup. I had died and gone to heaven! Why hadn’t my mother been feeding us this great meal?

Later in the cooking section of Home Economics class we were taught how to take tubes of Pillsbury dough, flatten the discs, and top them with butter (probably margarine) and cinnamon sugar. I can’t tell you how many of those ambrosia tasting discs I “made” for my family.

I was given a childrens Betty Crocker cookbook with a cake that amazed me! Using box cake mix, a square and round pan, you could make a heart shape cake to be decorated with icing. I loved the how it was done part.

I had a boyfriend who loved Rice A Roni and I did too. I read recipes on the backs of cans and gathered the processed ingredients to make sublime sodium laden creations. There was a wonderful stewed tomato recipe on the back of a can of diced tomatoes that taught me how to make sugar coated croutons and layer them with the tomatoes, sautéed onions and dried basil. It was delicious.

Would I make it again? Yes, to go down memory lane and either love it again or say goodbye. That is how our palates grow up.

The bottom line is that with all of the bumbling and experimenting I was gaining confidence in the kitchen and feeding myself and friends. Gourmet was another revelation. When I first saw the august magazine ingredients were embedded in the method. It read like food porn. Notebook at hand I would laboriously copy out the ingredients and transcribe the recipe to make some sense to me. More often than not I didn’t make the dish, but the process of understanding a recipe started to take hold.

Following in my mother’s footsteps, I became a recipe snipper from any newspaper or magazine around. Mounds of snippets were divided into food categories. I stroked them and fantasized about dishing them up. Notebooks,3X5 cards,files they have grown and grown.

I can’t tell you what was my first cookbook-I do know that one time I asked my mother to buy me a Joy of Cooking only to find a Betty Crocker under the Christmas tree. I soon bought my own JOC copy. My copy wasn’t as magical as my mothers. It wasn’t food stained and I didn’t know where the magical family recipes lurked.

When I first started to put regular meals on the table, I was anxious to please my first husband. We had many differences but there were times when he was spot on. At one particular meal that I wasn’t happy with, he told me that in the course of a year we eat a bit more than 1,000 meals. There is no way they can all be perfect. A few stumbles and stellar meals are to be expected.

With that thought resonating in my mind I rise each day to confront my ingredients and trick them into memorable meals. We’ll see where the pendulum swings- hit or miss-and don’t forget to open a can or box and go down memory lane. That's what eating and food is all about.

Michael Ruhlman’s article and recipe-
The real deal a la Ruhlman
Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe

Monday, April 12, 2010

National Double Down Day!

I don't know about you but I have been following the launch of this "new" sandwich with fascination. We have Jamie Oliver jumping the pond to save America for obesity and we have our own restaurants undermining our health. The Colonel must be spinning in his grave.
Below is a "review".

April 12, 2010, 1:34 pm
On Ingesting KFC’s New Product, the “Double Down”

KFC, the fast-food company based in Louisville, Ky., introduced its newest product on Monday, a chicken, cheese, bacon, and mayonnaise sandwich called the “Double Down.”

Diner’s Journal went out to try it, sacrificing its Monday morning good mood in the service of the reader.

The sandwich contains no bread save the breading on the chicken, which is fried and comes in two bread-like slabs. Between these a KFC worker places a slice of white American-style cheese, a piece of crisp-fired bacon, and a splat of “Colonel’s sauce,” a kind of mayonnaise. The sandwich, KFC says in its advertising materials, “is so meaty, there’s no room for a bun.”

Stunt food has been a part of restaurant life probably since the first time a chef put a napkin over a customer’s head in order to serve him a whole, rare, roasted ortolan. There have been deep-fried candy bars, and General Tso’s chicken heroes. There have been steaks so large that they’re free if you can finish them. Some of these are redeemable in both their excess and flavor.

The “Double Down,” however, arrives at a new low: a greasy entree dish of chicken with bacon and cheese on it, slathered in sauce, that the company asks customers to eat with their hands. The chicken is watery within its soft casing of “crust,” the cheese familiar to anyone who has eaten food prepared by the United States government, the bacon chemical in its smokiness, the mayonnaise sauce tangy, salty, and sweet, all at once.

At the KFC on Broadway and 33rd Street on Monday morning, dour, slow-moving workers were selling the sandwich beneath fluorescent lights for $5.49. There was no sign for that option on the placard above the cash registers, however. The only “Double Down” on the menu was part of a combination deal selling for $7.99: the sandwich, a small order of fries, and a medium cup of iced Pepsi. At 11:45 a.m., there was a line of 7 people. All in it ordered the combination special.

The fries weren’t bad: steak-fry shaped numbers with a lot of salt on them. The Pepsi was, as Pepsi is, more sweet than Coke, more syrupy. And there was the chicken product, consumed on a seat on Broadway just north of Greeley Square, as geek paparazzi lurked anonymously in the bushes to watch and document the tasting: a slimy and unnaturally moist thing, with flavor ginned up in a lab.

It is, in all, a disgusting meal, a must-to-avoid.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

You Say Burrata I say Food~ Gasm

A Twist on West Side Story

The most beautiful cheese I ever ate:
Burrata,Burrata,Burrata,Burrata . . .
All the beautiful tastes of the world in a single bite. . .
I just ate a cheese named Burrata,
And suddenly fromage
Will never be the same
To me.
I've just gorged on a cheese named Burrata,
And suddenly I've found
How wonderful a cheese
Can be!
Gorge yourself and there's music playing,
Take a nibble and it's almost like praying.
I'll never stop saying Burrata!
The most beautiful cheese I ever ate.

Maria wouldn’t have had a chance if Tony found Burrata first.

Let me start at the beginning. Just before Easter our favorite wine store sent an email blast enticing us to purchase Burrata cheese. This was an opportunity not to be missed.

NSSP picked up the 1# container and Easter morning we opened it. I stared at the white mass. It undulated in the container like a loose poached egg. My spoon hit a bit of resistance before it sank into the creamy center. I had read that Italians either eat it as the white in basil, tomato, and cheese plate or with marinated fruit.

We first tried it with a fresh baguette. Scooping a mounded tablespoon onto the bread then eating it. The Burrata had almost a pudding quality. As it slid down my throat I was left with the bread to chew. Next we paired it with sugared fresh strawberries and we were on a roll. Like any good junkie I couldn’t get enough and was very glad there were no caloric notes on the container to feel guilty about. Part mozzarella, part heavy cream this was as sexy as sevruga caviar or scrambled eggs with truffles.

Googling around I discovered that Burrata is a relatively new cheese invented in Southern Italy mostly in the Aupulia, Campania, and Basilicata regions. It was made with buffalo milk but now usually with cow’s milk. “Burro” is butter in Italian and refers to the buttery texture of the center.

A piece of mozzarella paste is stretched into a rectangle to form the outer shell. It is filled with fresh cream and soft shredded pieces of mozzarella and tied shut. The various subtle layers of texture tease your mouth into orgasmic submission.

Next time there is a Burrata offering I won’t forget the Prosecco. To hell with the fruit I think a good honey is in order and a romp in the hay!!

Seek and Enjoy!!