Archive for August, 2008

Hello Haiku

Dupont welcomes shop

Hello Cupcake, Bye diet

Trends here always late


Wednesday cupcakes out

We leave hungry and pissed off

Nerds vow blog revenge


Thursday try again

Have hope sweet treat will be mine

Victory achieved


Must get carrot cake

Though everything looks tasty

Sweet smell tickles air


Walk home with cupcake

Wish there was a carrier

Bag FAIL, Frosting slid


Though very big mess

Cream cheese frosting huge success

Bite me  buttercream


Cake needs some moisture

Though taste is divine on tongue

Wish it had raisins


Will go back again

Hope they make a few changes

Still worth a visit

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Lessons Learned

This man appealed to all the things about me I fight.

He brought me for crabs. I sat there, elbow deep in Old Bay, drinking Miller Lite, Camel dangling from my mouth, and matching him shot for shot on Jack Daniels. The part of me that wants to curse, to be loud, to not give two fucks, was thrilled. I amused him as I dismembered our meal. Laughter tumbled forth at all the right moments and I opened up. He was masculine, rough, and the sweet smell of his sweat lingered in the air that hung between us. For a moment, it felt right.

Throughout the course of the night, as the truth slipped out, I realized he was all wrong. Yes, he was beautiful, doting, and strong, but above his head hung a stop sign. The kids, closer in age to me than him? The blank periods in his life I couldn’t seem to cobble together? The names of three different women tattooed to his weathered skin? Denial is one of my greater talents, but even I could not deny this was going nowhere good.

The thing about bad boys is sometimes…they may just be bad for you.

You pick yourself up, you stare at yourself in the mirror, and wonder if you should have known better. Sometimes you take a gamble and you lose, but at least you laid your chips down.

So, you turn to what you know. He may have been a surprise, but your abilities never are. You reach for the knife. You create. Skins fall from onions, cloves of garlic shed their wrappers. The house fills with an aroma that is familiar and welcoming. Your mouth waters, reminding you that you are alive.

There is always something to tether you to this Earth. Disappointments are abundant, but life is good. You always have yourself, your joy. You don’t need him–the him of yesterday, today, or tomorrow– to make your pulse quicken. Those moments alone with yourself is all you need.

(Note: this is cobbled together from multiple recipes I have read over the years. The sherry can be swapped out with white wine, though I would use a whole cup instead of 3/4. The apple cider adds a great touch and I cannot imagine this dish without it; this is one area not to substitute. This was a huge hit in my house and I cannot recommend it more. I slurped up every bite. Onion soup is a tad out of season, but the weather we have been experiencing lately isn’t exactly seasonal either…live in the moment and just try it.)

French Onion Soup

2.5 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 yellow onions, thinly sliced in to half moons (cut onion in half root to root and then slice)

2 cloves garlic, roughly minced

2 bay leaves

5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves plucked off (or 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme)

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons flour

3/4 cup dry sherry

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 quarts low sodium beef stock

1 baguette, sliced thin

Lots of tangy cheese (swiss, gruyere, provolone all work…we used part skim Jarlsberg)

In large soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. When melted, add onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper to pot. Cook at medium heat until onions are caramelized (they will be a dark brown and somewhat sticky), about 35 minutes. Add flour and cook for about 2 minutes. Pour sherry and vinegar in to pan and cook for about 3 minutes, until it is syrupy. Add stock to pan and cook for about 20 minutes, until heated through. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.

Toast baguette slices in broiler. Ladle soup in to oven proof bowl and place toasted baguette slice on top of soup. Cover with cheese and place under broiler for about 2 minutes, until cheese bubbles.

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When I was contacted by the Washingtonian for one of their blogger profiles, I was, of course, extremely flattered.

However, when I learned a picture was involved, it sent me in to a tailspin. A call was quickly made to Bitchy McSnarkster, where I sincerely inquired, “How much cleavage is too much cleavage for the Washingtonian?”

We decided it was time for me to behave like the classy lady I was raised to be…so go check out the profile and see one of about 4 pictures of me that, for a change, doesn’t look like a “Got Milk?” ad.

And thanks for humoring me…if you kids didn’t sympathize, relate, pity, or indulge me in my antics, I don’t know what I would do with myself. It really was swell to be asked to participate in “Blogger Beat”.


While I am at it, don’t forget it’s Wednesday. Make sure you check out the weekly column at So Good to see what I am eating this week.

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I think finally, hopefully, I have shaken the remnants of the intense burger obsession that has been coursing through my veins. I have eradicated it from my system. This lust had a very tight hold on me, but like every unhealthy obsession, you eventually come to your senses and walk away.

It has been a month since I ended my DC tour of burgers, but oh, that last stop… it was glorious. So glorious, in fact, that I have been struggling for weeks to put it in to words.

The final destination was Palena, a high end bistro tucked away in Cleveland Park. I had been hearing raves about the burger on their “cafe menu” for years and a charming dinner companion finally convinced me to check it out on a whim.

I cannot thank him enough; it was a delicious whim, indeed.

The decor in the restaurant is minimal, but still inviting. We sat perched at the bar and our bartender was knowledgeable and attentive. He wasn’t what I would describe as warm, but I was too busy marveling at his striking resemblance to my pediatrician to yearn for a more friendly approach. It was probably best he kept a distance, because my brain was very confused. The man was very lucky I didn’t ask him to take a look at the weird patch of skin on my arm and OHMIGOD, do you think it is cancer? Please, I hope not. I am too young and full of promise to die…

But, I digress. We started with a rigatoni with meat ragu; the pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and the ragu was perfectly balanced. Also, there was a perfect amount of sauce; I alway shudder when I have a hard time finding my pasta in a pool of excessive tomatoes.

Let’s be honest, though; this trip was all about the burger. Oh, and the burger? It was as if I was eating a plate full of sunshine, love and candy coated raindrops. I asked for it as rare as possible, and it did not disappoint. The perfectly seasoned meat came out red in the middle, just as ordered. It sat upon a perfectly toasted (homemade!) sesame bun and was topped with a creamy cheese. (I stupidly forgot to write the name of the cheese down…) It was juicy perfection and everything I have been craving. It was everything that Hellburger hopes to be and more; it was refined bliss. I was thrilled and relished every bite.

We ordered the fry plate, which was also a satisfying treat. It came with crisp fries, perfect onion rings, fried lemon slices and deep fried mashed potato puffs. The lemon slices and mashed potatoes were unexpected delights on a plate. The fried citrus somehow manged to feel light and refreshing; not an easy feat for something that has taken a swim in oil. As far as the mashed potatoes go? There ain’t nothing wrong with creamy mashed spuds, lightly breaded and fried to perfection. You heard it here first.

The cheese plate that finished the meal off was divine and all the alcohol was copious and satisfying. I learned that night I actually do enjoy rose, something I had claimed to hate for ages. It was much like when I realized I didn’t hate dogs, I just hated my dog. My world suddenly makes more sense.

But all good things must come to an end. I left that evening happy and satisfied, but knowing the great burger quest of 2008 must come to a halt. A girl can only eat so many burgers.

Then again, I hear they are doing some great stuff over at Central…I can always be persuaded.

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On Hypocrisy

Once, while engaged in a petty squabble with an ex-boyfriend, I headed down a path of contradiction and strawman argumentation.

“You are being ridiculous”, he said. “You are making no sense. Seriously…do you even know what you are arguing anymore? You keep on contradicting yourself.”

I looked over at him and shot back, “Well, I am a hypocrite!”

And, with that, the argument was over. He dissolved in to a fit of laughter, for really, how can one argue with that? It was such an unexpected response, there was nothing really for him to say.

It became a running joke throughout the course of our relationship, a response I would pull out from time to time when things became heated. It would always cut the tension..and it spoke a certain truth. I admit; I can often times behave hypocritically. I say one thing, and do the exact opposite. I am the queen of self-defeating, contradictory behavior. They say acceptance is the first step, yes?

My name is Lemmonex and I have no idea what I want.

Take, for instance, the obscene amount of macaroni and cheese I ate with Irish Lebowski on Friday night. This took place the same exact day I posted about eating right and treating myself well. But, I look at it this way: it isn’t hypocricy, it is self preservation. My soul needed the warm embrace of mom’s mac and cheese.

I grew up eating this and, to me, this is my childhood. Notice how there is no mustard or tabasco in here? MamaBear likes to keep it super simple, and I would never mess with that (though I have been tempted). I hope to find an alternate recipe for mac and cheese this winter–maybe something with truffles? crab?–but every time I try something different, it fails. This is creamy, gooey, fat laden perfection. Mother knows best on this one…and after the week I had last week, this was the closest thing to a hug from mom I could get.

Mom’s Mac and Cheese

1 box lined ziti or penne

1 brick extra sharp cheddar, cut in to cubes

1 brick sharp cheddar, cut in to cubes

1 brick medium cheddar, cut in to cubes

2 tablespoons flour

1 3/4 cup milk

Salt and pepper

3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375. Cook pasta until it is al dente. While pasta cooks, add cheese cubes, milk, flour, salt and pepper to a sauce pan and place over medium heat. Melt cheese/milk mixture, stirring frequently. (Note: don’t try to rush the cheese by turning the heat too high; the cheese will scorch.) When pasta is cooking, drain and add back to pan. Pour melted cheese mixture pasta and stir. Add macaroni and cheese to a buttered casserole dish. Dot top of macaroni and cheese with pats of butter. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

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Free to Be You and Me

“Are you going to wear a wife beater and your Kangaroos tomorrow?”, asked my coworker, with a bit of a chuckle in his voice, as I walked towards the elevator yesterday.

It was the end of another long day at the conclusion of another long week. I am on a Flex schedule, working brutally long days Monday-Thursday but with the glorious benefit of having every Friday off. This has not actually been coming to pass lately.

“Yes, yes I am”, I replied, defiantly.

You see, here is the thing. Work has been an absolute shitshow lately. I am not very happy or fulfilled, but god dammit, they cannot stop me from being me. So, I will show up. I will do the work I have slowly come to loathe, and I will make smalltalk with my dull coworkers. But if I am dragging my ass in there on my day off, I am wearing my tank top and my bright purple sneakers. Just like when someone “mentioned” that “maybe” I might “possibly think about” taking my nose stud out, I refuse to compromise who I am at my core. I will fight the power in every small way I can.

I had a very frank and honest talk with my boss yesterday. He adores me, which is always beneficial. We both know it isn’t working. I am not happy, and he can read the discontent all over my face. Sometimes, you have to know when to walk away. The malaise I feel more than 40 hours a week is seeping into every nook and cranny of my life, haunting me after hours. If I don’t find something new soon, I am going to develop a (more serious) drinking problem or gain 10 pounds. Today, I found myself feeling the pull to consume…a whole cake? A pound of onion rings? An entire bag of juicy pear jelly bellies? Perhaps ALL OF THE ABOVE?

But, I didn’t. I think eating two 90 calorie granola bars instead of one is a binge I can live with. So, I am struggling to keep my head above water when things aren’t so great at the office, working hard at still being a good friend when I am totally preoccupied with my own unhappiness, and doing my best to concentrate on all the good things in my life. That last thing is something I must always be vigilant about; I have a strong tendency to get caught in the mud, wallowing in every small annoyance, convinced the world is out to get me. It isn’t attractive and one of the things I hate most about myself…but it is me, sadly.

So, for now, I focus on the good. I remember that no matter what they say, I can only be who I am; the girl dressing a tad inappropriately at the office. I am the girl who keeps in her piercings and lazily covers her tattoos. I will always be a bit of an outcast there, and this is a role I happily fill.

I am also the girl who refuses to let a job make her turn back to junk food…at least for more than a day. Life is good when you are taking care of yourself..I just have to remember to do it.

(Note: this is a very basic recipe I have made dozens of times. It pairs well with beef, pork or chicken. With tomatoes in season, it is a perfectly fresh side dish that takes seconds to make.)

Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes

1 pint grape tomatoes

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper

8 basil leaves, cut in to ribbons

Preheat oven to 450. Mix together balsamic, oil, salt and pepper. Toss in tomatoes and coat in mixture. Dump into roasting dish. Cook for about 25 minutes, until tomatoes wrinkle. Remove from heat and add basil.

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A Dollar Short

It’s up! So Good had a few technical glitches yesterday, delaying my weekly colum, I Try It So You Don’t Have To, but it is there. Go check it out…it is an order.

Hope to see you tomorrow…work is kicking my pretty little ass.

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Wake Up Call

After the meal that shall no longer be spoken of, my night Friday took a decidedly bizarre turn. It ended with me making a hasty retreat in to a cab and hanging my head in shame. Come to think of it, this sort of thing happens every weekend, but it was especially bad on Friday.

I had high hopes for Saturday; I needed to right the wrongs of the previous night. It started off fantastically. I achieved a personal victory in the afternoon so spectacular, I don’t even want to jinx it but typing it, but trust me; I was on Cloud 9. Things were looking up.

Cindarella and I headed out that evening, our sights set on excitement and a change of pace. We ended up at a club, dancing and paying far too much for our beers. Cindarella’s friend J joined us and promptly began buying round after round of drinks. I could sense the night was going to be…something.

I was right. Things became much more interesting when Maroon 5 showed up, started tending bar, and generally whipping the place in to a frenzy. (Adam Levine: taller than I thought and staggeringly handsome.) The women, of course, went wild. The men, losing the affection of the ladies (who can compete with a rockstar handing out free drinks?), became restless. This is when, for no apparent reason at all, some doink picked a fight with J. None of us have any idea how things escalated, but before you could say “meathead”, fists were flying. With my brains scrambled, due to excessive alcohol consumption and the wall of pheromones emitting from the Hotty McCrooner, I thought I could step in and break up the scuffle. I was promptly hit in the face. That will teach me. Sadly, it didn’t leave a mark; how bad ass would that have been?

Sunday was spent recovering…and cooking. My creative juices were flowing and I conceptualized this dish in an attempt to use some feta that was hanging around in the fridge. I was super pleased with how this turned out; it was flavorful and moist. To make it even healthier, I would suggest using some chicken broth in place of the oil in the lemon mixture (I was out). The bacon and the feta complimented each other perfectly and the lemon added a nice zing.

So raise your glass, but not your fist, to turning the weekend around…

Bacon-Spinach Chicken Roll Ups

Lemmonex Original

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large shallot, chopped

1 bag spinach

4 strips bacon, chopped finely

2 teaspoons dry oregano

1/2 cup crumbled feta

Juice of two lemons

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper

4 chicken breasts, pounded to about 1/2″ thick

Preheat oven to 425. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to a large saute pan over medium high heat. When oil has heated, add shallot and cook for about 2 minutes, until soft. Add chopped bacon and cook for about 4 minutes. Add spinach and cook until it wilts, about 2 minutes. Salt and pepper and add 1 teaspoon oregano to spinach mixture.

Scoop mixture on top of the chicken breasts, but don’t over stuff. Add feta on top of spinach and roll breasts up, securing with toothpicks or kitchen twine. Add to a baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix together lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and remaining oregano. Pour over chicken breasts. Bake for 35 minutes, basting several times.

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Casa Oaxaca: FAIL

Restaurant week is often met with groans from local eateries.  General consensus is it draws amateur diners, folks who are only looking for a bargain and who do not possess a true appreciation for food. While I can sympathize with this mentality, I (and many others) look at restaurant week as an opportunity to test drive an establishment and see what they have to offer.  I discovered one of my go to places, Rasika, during a restaurant week visit. I have been there multiple times since and have recommended it dozens of people.

This past weekend I headed over to Casa Oaxaca…and they did everything they could to ensure I never return again.

We had reservations for 8 o’clock. They were running behind and said the table should be ready by 8:15.  We stood and watched as 8:15, 8:30 and 8:45 ticked by. We were seated at 8:55, with barely an apology or a visit from the manager.  I wasn’t looking for a free drink, but some common courtesy would have been nice.

The food was…subpar.  My appetizer, queso fundido con chorizo, could have been warmer and a bit more seasoned.  The cheese was already starting to solidify when it reached the table, leaving the dish oily and difficult to eat.  The chorizo was quite tasty, though, and I was able to overlook the temperature issues and enjoy it.

I ordered short ribs for my main entree…and they were awful.  Terrible even.  First off, they were NOT short ribs. I know short ribs; they are my absolute favorite piece of meat. These were an affront to short ribs. The meat was tough and sliced; short ribs are supposed to be tender, meaty and on the bone. The marinade was syrupy sweet and too abundant. My side, an orange salad with tamarind, contained way too much onion; it was toxic.  A friend of mine almost recoiled when he took the first bite of his. Bawstin ordered a filet, which was cooked much too rare (he asked for medium rare) and the cut of meat was fatty.  Another pal complained of his chicken being dry.

Yet, worse than the wait, worse than the food, was the service.  It was horrific.  It didn’t seem we had a server; whoever was available stopped by, whisking away plates that had been cleaned for ages and filling glasses that had been empty for far too long. Service by committee never works; we felt ignored and unappreciated.  I most definitely would have had another margarita, but it was impossible to waive down anyone to actually obtain one.

I had been to Casa Oaxaca before…and it was much better.  I have even recommended it to folks looking for authentic Mexican.  My meal there this weekend was unacceptable.  This place does even deserve two thumbs down; instead, I give it two middle fingers up.

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Just Say…

He didn’t eat cheese.

Not cream cheese. Not parmesan cheese. Not swiss cheese. All cheese was the enemy, and it infuriated me. How can someone write off such a broad category of food? I found it pig-headed, obstinate and unreasonable. For instance, he ate it on pizza, claiming some nonsense about the chemical reaction from the tomatoes in the sauce neutralizing the cheese. I call bullshit.

I found it impossible to cook for him. You never realize how many recipes call for cheese until it is off the table. There was a whole list of other things he didn’t eat, either. All these food issues were a real issue with us.

Never again. Never again will I date a man with so many self-imposed dietary restrictions. He could read this, but I don’t care. I am sure he could write endless things about me that bothered him, and I know he would be right. There are many reasons we are not together, and, of course, I would never leave a man over cheese. I did love him, fiercely and desperately. It was a love that had me shunning lactose.

But, how I love my life now, full of cheese…and mustard, mayo, red meat, coffee…a life where I am not bending my wants and desires to make him happy. It is a life full of variety.

It is a life where I can make this. It is a great life. And this? Something that I could have never had just two short years ago? This was phenomenal; fresh, light and perfect.

And teeming with cheese.

Feta and Corn Salad

Combination of Many Recipes

1/2 tablespoon butter

4 ears corn

2 green onions, white and light green parts chopped

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

10 basil leaves, chopped

Juice from one lime

Salt and pepper

Remove kernels from corn. Add butter to large saute pan over medium-high heat and add corn when butter is melted. Sprinkle corn with salt and pepper and allow to cook for one minute. Add green onions and cook for additional two minutes. Remove corn from pan and add to large bowl. Allow to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. (If you are in a rush, throw it in the fridge for 15 minutes.) Add lime juice, feta, tomatoes, basil and more salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.

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