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Archive for January, 2009

Identity Politics

When I was a little girl my grandmother would bring me to the library on the weekends. She actually brought me to this library:

woonsocket-fail

Perhaps this explains all the typos and my grammatical foibles?

I was way in to grimy puppets and the coloring and, of course, the books. I would always chat up the children’s librarian– there was never a shy fiber in my being. She and I were buddies, but she did one thing that always bothered me: she always jacked up my name. She tried to make it cutsey and, well, this annoyed me. One day I turned to her and said: “My name is Lemmy. L-E-M-M-Y. Lemmy.” I was three years old; I was also a live wire.  When I was in high school, I stopped in to this library with now close friend/then boyfriend B and the woman told him this story.  He was not at all surprised.

This is why it pains me so to call this chowder; a name is a serious thing. Chowder, at least to me, means something thick, heavy, and super creamy. This chowder, while hearty, is none of these things.  Skim milk keeps it healthy and the chipotle peppers keep it interesting.  It warms and fills you without making you feel leaden.  I had some odds and ends kicking around and this was the perfect meal to throw together to clean the fridge.  If you don’t have chipotles on hand, a jalapeno would be a good substitute; just throw it in when you sautee the peppers and scallions.  I have been eating this all week for lunch and it has been the perfect remedy to the cold and dreary weather.

So call it whatever you want; just know that it is good.

dscn1068

Southewestern Chicken Corn Chowder

1 TBSP olive oil

1 chicken breast diced

1 strip bacon, chopped finely

1 small red bell pepper, diced finely

6 scallions, white parts thinly sliced

2 TBSP flour

1 16 oz bag corn, thawed

1 3/4 cups (or a 14 oz can) chicken stock/broth

1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, diced, plus 2 tsps adobo sauce

1 cup skim milk

Salt and pepper

In large soup pot over medium heat, heat oil and then cook chicken for about54 minutes (It does not need to be brown). Add bacon to pan and cook for about 3 minutes. (Note: by this point the chicken should be brown.) Remove chicken and bacon from pan. Add peppers and scallions to pan and cook for about 4 minutes. Add the flour in and cook for about a minute, while stirring. Add the corn, milk, broth, chipotle pepper and sauce, salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes and puree some of the mixture with an immersion blender-just stick it in the pot for about a minute (or scoop out about 2 cups and blend in blender). Add chicken, bacon and juices back to the soup. Cook for an additional 15 minutes. Serve with cheddar cheese.

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Whoops

My brother and I hit/slapped/punched/pummeled each other until we were far too old to be doing such a thing. My mother thought it would never end. I remember being 14 years old and going after him with a firepoker. He held my face in the snow until I sobbed when I was 15. I knocked his tooth out in a particularly feisty altercation. (A pattern, it seems…) In high school I learned very quickly to not fall asleep on the couch; BabyBro would take a running start and all 250 pounds of him would come crashing on my back. I was heavy and stubborn as an ox; he was the captain of the football team and outweighed me by….a lot. We definitely broke some things.

We never really got along and I cannot remember a time when we didn’t fight. I think being so incredibly different made us natural adversaries. He was popular, I was not. I excelled in school, he struggled. I was brimming with opinions, he was always a people pleaser. The fact that we were 11 months apart didn’t help. If I had a dime for every time a teacher said “I cannot believe BabyBro is your brother!”

Despite all the physical nonsense, the words were always more hurtful. He coined my middle school nickname, “The Beast”. I would walk on the bus and hear “Beeeeasssst”. Sometimes, it would take a Spanish flavor and morph into “La Beastia”. He also was the brains behind “Titty Mamma” and “Helen Keller” (as in my acne was so bad you could read braile off my forehead).

My retort? To all of this? It was always the same. “You were a mistake.” Now, let’s be honest; he was an accident. No one has a kid in January and actively tries to have another one by January, but that was what happened with me and my brother. Wires got…crossed. So, while my parent’s did want to have more than one kid, I speak the truth when I say they didn’t want him so damn soon. So yes, my only response to all my brother’s taunting was to remind him his existence was an accident.

As an older, more mature adult (stop laughing) I actually feel pretty awful about the years I spent calling BabyBro a mistake.  I mean, you make a mistake on a math test or on a spreadsheet; a person isn’t a mistake.  Then again, I like to think I am not a beast…

You wanna see a mistake? Look below, kids.  This was my attempt at pasta from scratch…and, yeah. It was not so good.  I tried to hand roll it and it just didn’t get thin enough.  Now, it was entirely edible, but I would never serve it to a guest.  It was thick and a bit gummy….just an all around disappointment.  Such a sad mistake this was…but hey, accidents happen.

dscn0988

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Acting Out

Once an idea is in my head it is there…100%. Until I act on it, it haunts my every waking moment.

Take, for instance, my nose stud. The idea crept in my head the summer I was working at the ranch. I spent much time weighing the pros and cons of such a piercing, but finally landed staunchly in the pro column. It is a part of me; I can barely remember a time without it, but good Lord if I haven’t had a few issues with it.

Employers have asked me to take it out.

My mom, though she has come around, was none too pleased about it.

It has been accidentally ripped out more than once.

Despite these things, it is an obsession that I am glad I acquiesced to. I mean if nothing else it taught me to stand up the the bossman, yes? It has brought some life lessons to me.  Anything worthwhile in life may bring you a bit of grief, but you have to follow your instincts.

The idea of goulash crept in to my head about two weeks ago and I was not able to shake it. Seriously, every day I thought about making it…it was an illness.  The thing is, while it was pretty simple to make, it caused some grief.  This has a lot of onions that need to be finely chopped.  Now, I don’t mind, but that is a lot of crying, let me tell you.  At the end of the day, though? So, so worth it.  I implore you to make this a day ahead so the flavors can meld together, but this was homey and comforting and super flavorful.  I was a bit disappointed I could not find sweet paprika, but the regular worked just fine.  I followed this recipe pretty loyally as I had never made goulash before; luckily I knew I could trust Deb over at Smitten Kitchen.  I cut this recipe in half and still had a ton of food.  This would be great for a dinner party with lots of red wine.

So yes, a bit of a pain, but a perfect obsession.

dscn1070

Goulash

From Smitten Kitchen

5 slices bacon, chopped
3 pounds boneless chuck, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 medium onions (about 1 1/2 pounds), chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons paprika (preferably Hungarian sweet*)
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup tomato paste
5 cups beef broth
1 to 5 cups water or beer (use the former to make a stew, the latter to make a soup–I added one cup)
1 teaspoon salt
2 red bell peppers, chopped fine

In an 8-quart heavy kettle cook bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp and transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. In fat remaining in kettle brown chuck in small batches over high heat, transferring it as browned with slotted spoon to bowl.

Reduce heat to moderate and add oil. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden. Stir in paprika, caraway seeds, and flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Whisk in vinegar and tomato paste and cook, whisking, 1 minute. (Mixture will be very thick.) Stir in broth, water, salt, bell peppers, bacon, and chuck and bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer soup, covered, stirring occasionally, 60 to 75 minutes.

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Keeping House

Emily over at Washingtonian contacted me a few weeks back asking for a Valentine’s tale of delight or woe. It is running today as part of a special online Valentine’s edition of Blogger Beat. Go check it out if you want to feel better about your love life.

Also, I am slowly plodding through all the interview requests I received. If you haven’t received yours yet, please don’t give up hope. I will send it, I am just trying to dig my way out from under the pile.

Lastly, I just want to take a second to mention my new policy on trolls.  The amount of hateful comments (and emails that you guys don’t even see) that I have been receiving lately has been on the uptick. Some comments are denied and never make it through, but trust…some are nasty, sexist, and downright threatening. Look, I am just a girl with a healthy appetitive, too many opinions, and perhaps a drinking problem. I didn’t go to culinary school nor am I any sort of food expert. Instead of talking about my feelings, I am simply going to say this: if you harass me or anyone on this site, you will be banned. I hate doing this as it seems totalitarian and heavy handed, but god dammit, I don’t need people demeaning or threatening me as a result of a stupid freaking recipe. Let me please make one thing very clear:  I am not trying to build a Lemmonex fan club, not do I want comments full of cyber hugs, kittens, and rainbows. I encourage swearing, dirty talk and in depth conversation regarding my cleavage. Just don’t be a dickhead or you cannot play here anymore.

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Before a late night showing of “Milk” the other evening, AuntLifeSaver and I decided to grab some dinner. (Mini review of “Milk”: needs some serious editing, overwrought, Sean Penn is great.) As we were in the midst of “Obamapalooza: Neo Resurrected”, we decided to stick to Virginia. We landed on grabbing our meal at Tallula with a pre-dinner drink at Eat Bar.

Connected to neighboring Tallula, Eat Bar is welcoming and boasts an impressive drink list. Blackboards above the bar list out all the drink options (this grandma had to put her glasses on to see the board, sadly), but there are also menus listing the beer and cocktail choices. AuntLifeSaver and I both got the “Movie Star”, a champagne cocktail with ginger and cranberry. I am generally not a girly drink kinda gal, but this concoction was crisp and refreshing and not at all sweet. I really enjoyed it.

Dinner at Tallula was…good? Pretty decent? The service was attentive and the wine list was incredibly varied and reasonably priced. The atmosphere was lovely and I really enjoyed the amuse bouches of a slider and a chorizo corndog, even if they were more like an appetizer and not an amuse bouche. (Amuse bouche means two bites, folks in the kitchen…) The cheese plate that followed our dinner was a delight. But my dinner? My actual meal? It was totally jank.

Yes, I called my dinner jank. I ordered the pumpkin ravioli which was served with hazelnuts and cranberries. While the ravioli itself was perfectly tasty, it was served with a hell-spawn of a hazelnut sauce. It was bitter and sour and all around undesirable. Both AuntLifeSaver and I couldn’t decide if it was drowning in some sort of lemon juice or vinegar. What we did know is it was hideous and it totally ruined the dish. I was actually shocked that the chef conceptualized and tasted this dish and deemed it fit to serve; it was an affront to my tastebuds. It really was a shame because everything about Tallula was great except for this one glaringly painful misstep. When I reflect all I can think is THE SAUCE. OH GOD, PLEASE DO NOT MAKE ME EAT THE SAUCE. NO MORE WIRE HANGERS. It was like a perfect day on the beach thats leaves you with a sunburn or a wonderful date ending with a sloppy kiss. You cannot even remember the good parts because the bad parts are so, so abysmal.

Am I being dramatic? Perhaps…hyperbole is my middle name after all. I think my visit to Tallula has taught us all a very important lesson: that one huge misstep can sully a whole meal. Sorry Tallula, you are dead to me.

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Blueberry Yum Yum

Um, so I am sick again.  I am feeling better today, but I have been disastrously sick.

It is not like last month where I prayed for the sweet and merciful end, but there is lots of coughing. Also, a good deal of sneezing taking place. The sniffles? Yeah, they are making a guest appearance. My head is a painin’.

I fell asleep at 9 pm last night.  I don’t think I have done that…ever.

Who did I piss off? I have been eating my veggies, working out, trying to be a good girl. Then it occurred to me. In a particularly lovely piece of hate mail yesterday, some “stud” (his words, not mine) reminded me that I am a “Saigon Hooker”.  Now, first, let me say, I prefer “lady of the night”…also, I am French, not Vietnamese.  Yet, I think he is on to something.  It is all the sailors…I caught some sort of whore disease. Apparently a tranny whore disease because I am also “GAY”. Good sir, a few experimental nights in college does not a lesbian make.

So… how does one cure a whore disease? CVS was out of Valtrex so I settled on something a little more old fashioned. Do you know that blueberries are the most packed with vitamins and minerals of any fruit or vegetable? They are! I am here to teach you. This salad is chock full of  nutrients and lots of really good stuff and still manages to taste great as well. I love the crunch of the nuts along with the creaminess of the goat cheese. This is one of the better salad dressings I have managed to pull together; it was tart and tangy without being overpowering.

Hopefully it will cure anything that ails ya.

dscn1064

Pomegranate Blueberry Salad

For Dressing

3/4 cup Pomegranate-Blueberry Juice

1 small shallot, finely minced

1 splash (about a tablespoon) of white wine vinegar (you could use champagne vinegar as well)

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon tarragon

2 tablespoons olive oil

Bring juice to a low boil and reduce the liquid unti about a 1/4 cup is left. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Add shallot, vinegar, salt, pepper and tarragon. Whisk in oil and set aside.

For salad

Arugula Mix

Toasted Walnuts

Crumbled Goat Cheese

Blueberries

Toss salad together and add dressing. Mix until well coated.

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Cheap Trick

I did not sleep incredibly well this weekend.

bettyjoan was in town and spent Friday and Saturday night at my place. This was a trip I counted down for; the kids don’t say “da bomb” anymore, but that pretty much sums up bj. She humored me (though I didn’t have to twist her arm to very hard) and partook in fun activities such as cooking, trips to Sephora and shoe shopping. It was a veritable explosion of estrogen.

Of course, there was some drinking. Let me tell you, she looks innocent but the girl can throw back. Even though she accused me of keeping her up past her bedtime, she kept up every step of the way.

This is where sleeping becomes an issue. Now, ya know how when you drink you already have kind of a weird, restless sleep? Well, this isn’t my only sleep issue. If you have been reading here a while, you might remember I sometimes sneak attack spoon my friends. It has happened on more than one occasion and I have an outright complex about it. It is a problem so prolific that while on the phone with Hammer pre-Friday afternoon nap, he felt compelled to warn her: “Watch out, I hear she is a cuddler.”

Now the love I share with my friends is pure and simple and real. I don’t want them scared of waking up entangled in a Lemm pretzel. So, while bettyjoan peacefully slept, I was started awake multiple times by my subconscious fear of holding her ever so gently. While I may need a good hug from time to time, my friends don’t need me attacking them. It really cheapens our relationship when they are constantly rebuffing my advances.

Honestly, the only thing cheap we wanted about the weekend was our dinner. bettyjoan and I issued a little challenge to ourselves to see if we could prepare a dish for less than ten dollars.  She took the appetizers…go check it out. This is what I came up with–it is inexpensive, filling, and tasty. Most of the ingredients are pantry staples so it take pennies to pull it together with great results. I think the fire roasted tomatoes in this are clutch; they add a depth in flavor you cannot find in regular canned tomatoes. I love corn tortilas, but feel free to swap in flour ones. I cannot stop making this–for dinner, for breakfast, for a drunken snack. These are really good. I am patting myself on the back right now.

And this, my friends, was cheap but classy. I will let you choose what one I am…

dscn1054

Huevos Rancheros

Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoons finely diced red onion

1 can diced fire roasted tomoatoes

2 oz. (half a small canned) green chilis

1 teaspoon cumin

Salt and pepper

Heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about two minutes. Add tomatoes, chilis, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook for about 30 minutes.

Black Beans

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons red onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 can low salt black beans (not drained)

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon cumin

Salt and pepper

Heat over medium heat and add garlic and onions (note–you could throw a strip of bacon in here as well). Cook for about three minutes. Add beans, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Cook for about 20 minutes over medium low heat.

To assemble

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 corn tortilla

A few tablespoons Mexican cheese (Mexican cheddar, Monterrey Jack…I used Habanero Jack)

An Egg

Salt and pepper

Heat oil in pan for about a minte over medium-high heat. Add tortilla and cook for about a minute. Flip the tortilla and immediately sprinkle cheese on the tortilla. Allow it to melt a bit, about 30 seconds. Crack egg on top of the tortilla, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and allow it to cook for about 1 or 2 minutes (you want the edges and underside white). Some of the egg may creep off the tortilla, but that is fine. When the egg is mostly cooked, flip the tortilla and finish cooking the egg (about 45 seconds). Remove the tortilla/egg, cover with sauce and serve beans on the side. Garnish with sour cream, more cheese, and cilantro.

PS: Don’t forget to check out So Good this week.

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