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Archive for December, 2008

Pity, Party of One

Don’t let anyone tell you I don’t do things 100%. I am one hot mess.

Last week, the flu started. I took a few days off work and it seemed I was on the mend by Sunday. I was still coughing, but hoped all the time I had spent in bed would mean I would wake up refreshed and ready to join the word of the living Monday morning.

I barely slept Sunday night and had a killer pain in the right side of my abdomen. It felt like a gremlin was trying to scratch itself out of my stomach.

I woke up Monday morning drenched in sweat and with a killer migraine. My flu symptoms had returned and that stabbing sensation in my gut? Still there.

I sucked it up, called Cindarella, and she drove me to GW Urgent Care. (I first asked her to bring me out in a field and take care of me Old Yeller style, but she would not oblige.) As soon as I saw her, I started crying. I was not in a good way. Luckily, I was vindicated when I got the final diagnoses last night: along with the flu and a migraine, I went and got myself a kidney infection, a urinary tract infection and I had a fever of 102.5. I may have felt like a pussy for crying, but it was warranted.

The doctor’s have decided to detonate a Cipro bomb on my body (14 days!) and I have to go back tomorrow. If I don’t look better, I will be admitted to the hospital. That is highly unlikely, but Doug mentioned he needed blogging material and a trip to the hospital sounded like the perfect opportunity to become creatively inspired; maybe I will do it for him. Perhaps there will be a series on hospital food in the near future. Jell-o anyone?

On the slightly fucked up side, I have lost 6 pounds. I realize this is not the way to lose weight, but hey–at least I can get a jump start on peeling off the holiday poundage.

Why am I telling you this, you ask? Um, because I feel like whining. Because I am delirious on pain meds. Because I want to brag about what an awesome friend Cindarella is. But most importantly, because I don’t think I will be blogging for the rest of the week. I will spend the time off shaking my fists at the heavens for giving me a UTI without at least giving me a night of sexin’ to account for it. Fuck you, Mother Nature.

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On Rage

Do you feel some anger in your heart this holiday season?

Do the crowds leave you with clenched fists? Does the forced cheer make you a tad stabby? Does the prospect of spending days cooped up in the house with family you can barely tolerate drive you to the bottle?

I have a cure.

Enter the pomegranate.

While I adore pomegranates, I find extracting the seeds the most satisfying part of this fruit. It is simple really: cut the fruit horizontally, take a wooden spoon or spatula and wallop the holy hell out of it.

The best part of this guacamole is it looks like Christmas. The green and red makes it downright festive, but underneath it all, lies your hidden rage. Rake in the compliments when you serve this at your holiday party (and people will love this twist on a traditional dip), but smile to yourself. Then write this guacamole a thank you note, because not only does it taste fantastic, but it helped you work through some issues without picking a fight or making your Aunt Milly cry. Now that, my friends, is one selfless dip.

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Guacamole with Pomegranate Seeds

1 garlic clove

1 ripe avocado, diced

juice of half of lime

salt and pepper

A couple shakes Tabasco, to taste

Seeds from half a pomegranate

Mince clove of garlic and sprinkle liberal amount of kosher salt over garlic pieces. Mash garlic with knife and drag it back and forth until a paste forms. Add to bowl with avocado pieces, lime, Tobasco, salt, pepper, and pomegranate seeds.

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Distant Memory

You have probably noticed (or maybe you haven’t, it is a bit egotistical of me to think you notice these things) that I haven’t mentioned my Thanksgiving. Well, it was lovely. Quite lovely in fact. What I remember of it, that is.

Yes, I know. Another tale of me possibly drinking a bit too much. This is nothing new. But it was a holiday! You really cannot blame a girl.

The food was amazing and the company was great. The turkey moist, the squash tasty, the stuffing flavorful…I even adored the homemade cranberry sauce. Of course I had to eat some of my beloved canned jelly, but the cranberries with port and shallots gave my Ocean Spray a run for it’s money.

Cindarella and I passed out at AuntLifesaver’s house at 2 am after 12 solid hours of eating and drinking. The next morning, we counted 9 bottles of wine…pretty respectable for 6 people. This holiday I was thankful for Advil and the Wendy’s drive-thru the next morning. (Helpful tip: Wendy’s breakfast sandwiches are square and disgusting.)

We were pretty well sauced by the time desert rolled around . Luckily, this pumpkin bread pudding was so moist, it held up to the extra 15 minutes it spent reheating in the oven. (We may have forgot it…) Served with amaretto whipped cream, it was a perfect combination of a spicy pumpkin pie and the ooey-gooeiness of custardy bread pudding. I probably read about 15 pumpkin bread pudding recipes and this was what I came up with…I was more than satisfied with the end result. It was over the top good and a nice little twist on the traditional pumpkin pie. If you are feeling crazy over the top (and really, you should ALWAYS feel that way), you could even serve this at a brunch.

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Pumpkin Bread Pudding

10 cups (about 10 ozs) challah bread, cubed
1/2 stick melted butter
1 1/2 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup half and half
1 can pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss cubed bread in meted butter. Whisk milk, half and half, pumpkin, dark brown sugar, eggs, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla extract in large bowl to blend. Add bread to an 11×7-inch glass baking dish or a round casserole dish and pour pumpkin mixture over bread. Let stand AT LEAST 20 minutes. Bake pumpkin bread pudding until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

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I may or may not be wearing pants here.

This is not my best showing, to say the least. My voice sounds very “On your knees, Boy”. My favorite part is the very noticeable, highly unladylike sniffle before I say the names. I wanted to post this tomorrow, but seeing as it may take me two days to crawl to the post office, it is going up today. Tomorrow’s recipe is worth the wait.

Congrats, winners. Hooray for magazines! I will be in touch.

Oh, and just about now I would kill for a brownie sundae and a hot toddy. If someone could make one magically appear, that would be fucking awesome. Conversely, if someone wants to skip on over and put me out of my misery, I would be pretty cool with that, too. It feels like I have been hit with a sledgehammer. My head is pounding, my nose is running and my throat feels like it has been attacked by fire ants. I keep thinking a shower would help, but that takes a lot of energy.

Lemmonex fact #564: I am a whiny baby when sick.

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3 a.m.

I rode the train, my iPod silenced by my thoughtlessness. The dead battery mocked me.

It was 2:15 am and I was stone cold sober. I switched trains, waiting 15 minutes before boarding a car littered with newspapers and drunken revelers.

Caught alone with nothing but my thoughts, I tried not to overhear the meaningless conversation. My eye lids were heavy and I bit the inside of my cheek in an effort to stay awake. I’d fallen asleep on trains before, and luck has always been on my side; some one had always roused me from my slumber. It was far too cold to be caught at the end of the line tonight, though.

A train malfunction meant we lingered at every stop for 5 minutes. I felt desperate and trapped. My stop mercifully arrived and I shuffled off the train, my feet throbbing. I walked up the hill to my apartment, every breath stinging in my chest. A woman across the abandoned street took the same journey home, our footsteps ringing off each other.

I rushed in the door and dropped my things. I was welcomed by a blast of cold air. The radiator has frozen shut. I desperately tried to pry the knob open, bloodying a knuckle and cursing under my breath.

The tears stung in my eyes. I allowed myself to feel something for just a moment: loneliness. At that moment, after an evening spent with couples, bustling around several rooms packed with friends, I felt painfully alone. I wanted my quiet nights filled with thoughtful reassurances, not the inanity of drunk people. I yearned for someone to keep me awake, to look out for me. I wanted a body to keep me warm and something besides the footsteps of a stranger to keep me company. All I wanted to hear was “Hey, don’t cry…let me help you.”

I blinked back the tears, never allowing them to spill over. Quickly, I remembered, I am quite capable of taking care of myself. I pulled out a sweater and a blanket. At 3 a.m, I reported my radiator broken and promptly received a confirmation email. For the night, this email, this sign of my independence, would be my companion. While I may want someone to share things with, I certainly don’t need anyone. I dozed off, watching “30 Rock”, laughing at Tina Fey, huddled under 4 layers, reminding myself that bitches get shit done.

Chicken Soup for the Soul? I think not.

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(Note: This is a super healthy soup–no cream and lots of vegetables!–packed with clean flavors. You will need to use a blender to get a smooth consistency from the fibrous fennel, but I think it is worth it. This would be a perfect starter to a dinner party.)

Carrot and Fennel Soup

from Trouble with Toast

2 medium fennel bulbs
1 lb carrots, quartered lengthwise
1 medium onion, quartered
1 garlic clove
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (you could also used vegetable broth if you are a veggie)
2 1/2 cups water (approximate-I don’t think I used that much)

Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in lowest position. Discard fennel stalks and fronds. Slice bulbs 1/4 inch thick and toss with carrots, onion, garlic, 3 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread in a 4-sided sheet pan and roast, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Blend vegetables in a blender with broth until very smooth. Transfer to a medium saucepan. Thin to desired consistency with extra water and simmer 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Oh, if you are still reading, check out So Good today. It isn’t nearly as depressing.

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naughty

Now, I am a fairly honest girl and I feel the need to be upfront about something: I don’t particularly care for the holidays.

It is an unpopular stance, for sure. I tire of the crowds and the forced cheer. Christmas music makes my ears bleed. My family lives in Florida now, and palm trees with holiday lights is just all kinds of messed up. I am a New England girl and if I have to do Christmas, I want to be under a blanket, drinking coffee and Bailey’s, as I open my gifts.

I do like the food, though…even if it tends to get a tad abundant. I have managed to hold out thus far and avoid an eggnog shake, but I cannot wait to finally have one. Look! I can see a bit of a silver lining.

Also, though the pressure can be overwhelming at times, I do like giving gifts as well. I especially like giving gifts to you.

I managed to get my hands on two Giftscriptions and nothing would make me happier to give them to you. The winners can use these for themselves (greedy bastards) or pass them on as a gift to someone moderately special this holiday season. Some of the subscriptions that tickle my fancy are for Food and Wine and Cooking Light.

Same rules as always apply–you have to be comfortable giving me your address and your real name should you win. The contest closes at 6 pm tomorrow (Wednesday, 12/10).

You can’t win if you don’t play. So, below, please pipe up. Tell me what you like about the holidays. Conversely, I would love it if someone validated me and confessed their hatred of this time of year. Confess a secret.  Confess someone else’s secret. Share your favorite color or your favorite movie; just say something. This is a safe space. Make your voice heard.

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Don’t Tell

When no one is watching, I know you are all eating some weird stuff.

It’s ok. You don’t have to admit it. That’s my job. But I know you want to.

I love canned green beans with mustard. Maybe once a year, in the privacy of my own home, I break down and just go for it.

Those “lattes” that come from machines at the 7-11? I fight the urge to buy one everytime I pop in a convenience store.

Romeo and Juliet are no match for the perfect pairing of popcorn and milk.

I am somewhat obsessed with fruitcake. I think it gets a bad rap. It needs a new PR person. I have wrote it a letter, telling it I am for hire.

It isn’t always junk food, shockingly. I have been known to eat a bowl of brussel sprouts for dinner. The past few weeks I have become somewhat obsessed with All Bran. It has become my “go to” snack.

I think I have a new secret food behavior.

I ate a whole squash for dinner. It was small, in my defense…but yes, I wrecked the whole thing.

Joy the Baker (if you bake and you are not reading this site, you are missing out…)doesn’t cook often, but when she breaks the baking mold, it is always a good one. I am always confounded as to what to do with acorn squash–their tough outer layer can be overwhelming–and this seemed the perfect way to conquer my squash fear. I was a touch inpatient; these could have roasted a tad longer for a more golden brown hue, but this was fork tender and delicious. The salt and pepper were the perfect contrast to the sweetness of the honey and it couldn’t have been easier to make. This is another simple basic to have in your arsenal.

And if you eat the whole thing for dinner, I promise I can keep the secret.

dscn0869

Honey Roasted Acorn Squash
From Joy the Baker

1 acorn squash
olive oil
salt
pepper
honey

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the squash down the center and remove all the guts. Cut the squash into quarters and then smaller wedges according to taste. I liked mine looking like half moons. Throw the wedges onto a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive and sprinkled with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss with your hands to make sure all the pieces are coated in olive oil.

Roast squash wedges for 12-15 minutes, until sizzling and mostly tender. Remove from oven and drizzle with honey. Return to the oven and continue cooking until completely fork tender.

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