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Archive for May, 2009

When my friend B picked up the phone yesterday, I was my usual charming self and greeted him with , “I was about to totally lose my shit if you didn’t pick up the god damn phone.” Clearly, I hate hyperbole.

I’d been trying to reach him for days and though we had texted and the such in the interim, I had some very important things I needed to discuss with him. He is one of those annoying people who hates VM so I have promised to only leave him a message if I really, truly need him. (Conversely, I hate it when people don’t leave VMs so he has agreed to humor me and always leave one. See how well our friendship works?) Something along the lines of I have fallen in a well or I am thinking about cutting my hair again are acceptable reasons to send a mayday VM. My most recent spiral was not VM worthy…even I knew this.  Yet, I was still anxious to hear the voice of reason; a special reasoning that can only come from someone you have known for almost 20 years.  The boy has me down.

You see, I am worried about my sex drive.  Thank Christ it is still there, but my appetite has been completely screwy and I have my concerns.  See, the two constant things in my whole life have been food and sex…and an equal fervor for both.  Now that my desire for food has been waning, I fear my libido may be next…and then the world will stop spinning on it’s axis.  I started lamenting as such when I finally got B on the phone.

“I don’t really know what I want food wise and I am scared sex is next.  What the hell will I do?”

“Lex…I don’t think this is really a concern with you.”

“Um, has food ever been a concern before?”

“Hm, well.  Seriously though, I think you are ok.”

“Well, today I thought of the only thing I really had any desire to eat and I made it.  I don’t care if it is awful for me…something must be done to save myself.”

“Ok, what?”

“Um, crepes like my Memere used to make…and I stuffed them with brown sugar and drowned them in syrup just like her.  It is what I wanted.  I need to save myself.”

“So healthy kid food, huh?  Jesus, Lex….you’re insane.”

I love you too, B…

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Crepes

Adapted slightly from Simple Comfort Food

2 large eggs

1/3 cup of water

1 cup of milk

1 cup of all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

2 tbsp of unsalted butter, melted for coating the crepe pan
In a blender, mix all ingredients. The mix will be very smooth and super thin. Preheat crepe pan (or fry pan) over meium heat and add butter to pan. Cook on each side for about 2 minutes and flip.

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This weekend I grabbed dinner with a friend at Zaytinya.  Zaytinya is one of my go to restaurants; the food is always reliably good and it is chic without being stuffy.  The special list never disappoints and this weekend was no exception.  On the special list that night was a delightful dish of shredded lamb in phyllo dough served with a feta yogurt sauce–it was really remarkable.

But this is not about the food or the atmosphere or even the specials.  Once again, I feel the need to discuss my favorite topic–service.

My kind of waitress

My kind of waitress

Let me state upfront I am very “New England” in some ways.  I am not a chit chatter or a small talker with strangers.  I always acknowledge people and say my pleases and thank yous, but I am not one to idly banter about the weather or what not.  It simply is not the way of my people or how I do.  Also, my father has been in food service his whole life–as a bartender and a server and now as a store manager at Starbucks–so I really “get” food service.  I am not a snob, nor do I think folks in food service are below me…they are me.

Our waitress was capable and our food arrived promptly.  Our drinks never waited too long for a refill, though she could have been a  bit swifter. The thing that bothered me? Her extreme eagerness.

I know, I know.  I am a  huge bitch, but really? Do I need an in depth recitation of 6 dishes on the menu she likes? Do I need to laugh about how our names are similar?  Not really.  It didn’t bother me that much and it certainly did not ruin an awesome meal, but I found it mildly intrusive.  My friend pointed out that servers need to hustle and make an impression since they are working for tips.  It is a very valid point, but if you are competent, friendly, and attentive, you are a good server.  I am not looking for a new friend.

This seems to happen a lot, the overly familiar server.  I have been called “hun”; the only place I find this acceptable is at a dinner and someone named Flo is slinging my coffee.  The greeting “hey guys” also kind of irks me in a nicer restaurant.  But most annoying?  Those servers who sit down and talk to you.  It has happened more than once and frankly, I damn near want to push them off the chair every time it happens.

So what say you? Am I off base? A huge bitch? On to something?  I want to hear your thoughts on service and what is the appropriate level of interaction.

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My friend Bitchy called me the other day all worked in a lather.  Long story short, he had found out that a few of his friends had partaken in some somewhat questionable behavior and he was getting pretty screwed.

“Lexa”, he said, “you and I have done some seriously messed up shit, but this takes the cake”.

“Well, I like to think we hurt ourselves, not others.  This is…beyond”.

“I know! We have manners in our path of destruction!”

No indivduals are hurt in the wake of our emotional carnage.

I got to tell you, I blazed a bit of a path of destruction yesterday.  After on and off napping, hulu watching and internet browsing, I finally dragged myself out of bed at 2 pm.  For someone who rarely rests and can never sleep in, this was glorious…but also felt completely wrong.  I was also ravenous but nothing seemed appealing.  I tore apart the apartment, nibbling, but never settling on anything.  Seriously, my appetite is ten times of messed up lately.  It as if I barely know myself.  If I stop showing off my cleavage in the near future, someone please intervene; I have clearly lost my mind.

I poked around all afternoon, barely eating.  The rain had me convinced it was one of the last times this year I could justify cranking the oven and making some comfort food.  When my roommate emerged from her room coughing and stuffed up, I finally landed on making some baked ziti for us; the ultimate in comfort foods.

Now, this is nothing special.  It, perhaps, might even fall in to the category of one of the more messed up things to come out of my kitchen, but hey, it isn’t hurting anyone. The sauce is from a jar (gasp!) and I actually cheated and used fusilli, not ziti (double gasp!).  Now while I would never serve this at a dinner party, it did the trick.  The roomie loved it, I actually ate some dinner and it made the apartment smell awesome.  It is pasta smothered in 4 kinds of cheese; this ain’t rocket science kids, but it works.  It makes a ton of food, and in my opinion, the leftovers are even better than the first day.

I went to bed stuffed, finally eating my first real meal of the day.  It may have hurt me, but I promise, you don’t have to do the same.

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Baked Ziti

1 TBSP olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Italian sausages (I used turkey sausage), out of their casing

1 pound lean beef

2 tsp Italian seasoning (or a mix of oregano and basil)

Salt and pepper

Box of pasta (I used mini fusilli)

1 jar pasta sauce (I like Classico)

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed

Pam/nonstick cooking spray

8 slices provolone cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Start boiling large pot of salted water for pasta. Add pasta when water is ready. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Add meat, salt, pepper and seasoning and cook until browned. Skim off fat and add pasta and sauce. Add in parmesan, ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Spray a large pan with cooking speay and pour in pasta mixture. Cook for 20 minutes, open oven and top pasta with provolone cheese. Bake for additional 5 minutes and let sit for about 5 minutes before eating.

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Some Questions

I am taking a glorious 4 day weekend and it cannot come a moment too soon.  Annie Birdie is getting hitched and I have several friends in town.  I have barely drank in over a week so some serious drunkening is also on the horizon.  That is the way Jesus wants it.

But first, a few questions to lead us in to the weekend:

  • What is the deal with women and food in TV and movies?  Has anyone ever noticed how much some of these women eat yet they are impossibly thin? I am thinking Lorelai and Rory Gilmore scarfing burgers all the time or the zillions of romantic heroines who eat ice cream every day and don’t seem to gain an ounce.  There just seems to eb such a maddening disconnect.  We never see these women on a  treadmill or eating a chicken breast for dinner.  Occasionally, there is a yoga class thrown in there, but it serves more as a location than a workout.  Discuss.
  • Could I actually have a tape worm?  I have lost 8 lbs in the past two weeks.  EIGHT POUNDS.  Now, granted I had no appetite for about 5 days which is a first for me.  I can always, always eat.  My appetite is pretty much back, though.  In fact, it is back to the extent where I have had two of those huge ass apple fritters from the locl coffee shop this week.  You know the ones I am talking about–all covered in sugar and as big as your head and they are so dense they hit your desk with an audible “thunk” when you put them down.  Truly, this is shameful and wholly unhealthy but it is all I want and I am still losing weight.  What the hell is going on?
  • Finally, and most importantly, what are you doing this weekend?  Need recipe suggestions for a cookout?  A restaurant recommendation?  Ask below and I shall help.

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…and red all over

My friend Virgle Kent calls me Liz Lemon. No, it isn’t because of the glasses. It is because I am a huge spaz.

A few months back there was an episode of “30 Rock” where Liz has her boyfriend, Drew (played by the Adonis-like Jon Hamm), over for dinner. It is a series of humiliations, pratfalls, and indignities; she screws up dinner, accidentally flashes him and says all the wrong things. VK pinged me the next day and told me that is what he imagines a date with me is like.

I didn’t help my case, my “Hey, no, I am nothing like that klutz, trainwreck Liz Lemon” case, when I spilled half a glass of Prosecco on myself a few weeks back when we were at lunch and I just kept on talking. He appropriately mocked me, I just moved right on along, barely noticing.

I am used to it. I have lived with myself for 28 years.

I trip. I cut myself. I fall. I slam in to walls and walk in to coffee tables. I break glasses and drop eggs. I tumble down the stairs at least once a year. The fact that I have been on and off all these headache meds, which effect my balance and equilibrium, for 5 years doesn’t help. Sadly, the pills cannot take all the blame. It is me. It is who I am. To know me is to love that I can barely stand on my own two feet.

As a result, I am habitually covered in bruises.  Sometimes I can pinpoint their origins but most of the time I have no idea from whence they sprang. For instance, this huge bruise on my left hip?  Ugly purple and green?  Absolutely no clue, but I am assuming I walked in to something.  Oh bruises, I know you well.

Another thing I know well is a burger and what could be better than a black and blue one? To know it is to love it.  This burger was insanely moist thanks to a few things; the onions and garlic sweat out in to the meat, the ground meat had a decent fat content and the sausage imparted some delicious fat as well. The worcestershire sauce and balsamic certainly doesn’t hurt.  I demoed these and everyone went insane with how good they tasted.  I really think the sausage and blue cheese add an unexpected element to the burger that brings it up to the next level.  I overcooked them–I was worried about them being too rare for the crowd–and they were still pretty amazing.  That is a mark of a good burger.  The picture is subpar–I was so hungry I forgot to snap a picture of it plated–but you can see how juicy they are.  Best of all, these are super easy.

Look, I can barely walk but I can make a good burger.  Trust me.

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Black and Blue Burgers

4 lbs ground beef (not too lean)

3 sweet Italian sausages, cut out of the casing

1 medium sized red onion (or half of a large red onion), finely diced

2 large cloves garlic, chopped

3 TBSP Worcestershire sauce

3 TBSP balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup blue cheese

Salt and pepper (don’t be shy)

Mix together all ingredients with hands. Preheat grill or grill pan. Cook to desired temperature. Don’t be a bitch like me and overcook them, but these are so moist that even medium well, they are really great.

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Don’t Make Me Beg

Last Friday night I lead a cooking demonstration for a group of Annie Birdie’s friends. As part as her bachlorette party, I was asked to head the demo. Due to the plague–or as Lilu has dubbed it, my combination of swine flu and tapeworm–I didn’t prep as much as I liked, but I definitely spent a good amount of time running through it in my head.

Thanks to your suggestions, I landed on something simple: burgers and fries. They say go with what you know and that is exactly what I did. The group said they felt this was something they could actually recreate and that was exactly what I was going for. Burgers were the perfect choice as I could demo knife skills (the onion and garlic) and just pass on general grilling tips. The fries were a huge hit, too.  Nothing makes a group of women go more insane than the suggestion of sour cream as a dipping sauce.demo

The best part for me was how comfortable I felt in front of everyone.  I wasn’t nervous or worried about screwing up.  It certainly was not perfect or formal, but I just felt really at ease in front of the group as I rattled of tips and lead instruction.  Seriously, Food Network, why don’t I have a job with you?  My breasts are not nearly as scary as Racahel Ray’s and my attire is way more appealing that Guy Fieri’s.  Sure, my apartment cannot compete with Ina’s house in the Hamptons but at least I don’t have a gay husband you will have to follow around.  Give me a job, people!

After the demo and gorging ourselves on burgers, fries, and a delicious cake (made with coke!), we headed to Cafe Citron for some Latin dancing.  Now, I am a dancer of the American sort; I like to shake my whooty and get low.  Plus, I have never really recovered from the trauma of being motorboated by a very petite man while salsa dancing a few years back. (My asshole friends just stood in the corner and laughed hysterically…)  I managed to cordon myself off and only got dragged away twice; once by a man with a kung-fu grip on my waist tighter than a teenager watching his first porno and another who reaked of bubble gum and kept jabbing me with his…excitement. I was actually endlessly amused by this as my cold was in full force Friday night; I shouldn’t have gone out but I could not allow myself to miss Annie Birdie’s bachlorette.  The whole night I sniffled, coughed, and blew my nose on a paper towel in my purse; goes to show you if it has a pulse, some guy will dance with it…and that “it” was me this past weekend.

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To the Tooth

I was the first kid in my grade to get braces and I thought this was immensely cool. As a pudgy girl with glasses and a raging case of acne, one would think the braces would be the final nail in the outcast coffin but for whatever reason I didn’t see it as such.

Braces were welcome as my teeth were monumentally jacked. My top two lateral incisors (those two pointy teeth next to your front teeth) never came in so I was stuck with gaping holes in my smile. Not only was it painful (you try eating an apple with huge gummy spaces where teeth should be) but , frankly, it made me look inbred.

Just like most of you, I went through the tightening and made all those frequent trips to the dentist. I rocked colored rubberbands on my braces (red and green for Christmas! Black and orange for Halloween!) and did my best to avoid gum. After moving my teeth over a whole space, I was left with a weird looking mug; everything looked…off. So then began the capping, filing and bonding in order to make my teeth look normal. As part of my genetic freakishness, I was also gifted with a lack of wisdom teeth. I am thankful I have never had to get them yanked, but you should see the huge empty space in the back of my mouth due to all my missing teeth. It is a site. To this day, it cracks me up when I visit a new dentist and s/he takes a look in and slowly realizes something is amiss.

Obviously Mom will yell at me about my teeth; she invested a fortune in them. I do my best, but I still managed to pop off a huge chunk of bonding in college while I was chewing a pen. Might I remind you that tooth is filed to an inch of it’s life; sans bond it was some sort of scary looking vampire nightmare. NOT HOT. Also, don’t tell her, but I have a very small chip in my top front right tooth thanks to a drunken happy hour and a Corona bottle. I am gangsta, yo.

When I took a bite of these really delicious greens and felt a tiny rock crunch between my molars, I got a little freaked. Let this be a lesson to you; you do not need a trip to the dentist as an accompaniment to your vegetables. I did rinse these greens, but I obviously could have been way more thorough. I recommend dunking them in a bowl of water to make sure all the silt and dirt washes away. These bitter greens really are a treat. Why ruin them with a dental emergency? This is not fun for anyone.

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Sauteed Greens

1 TBSP olive oil

1 large clove garlic, chopped

1/2 smoked andouille sausage, chopped (or two slices bacon)

1 head swiss chard, chopped

A couple shakes tabasco sauce

Squeeze of lemon juice (about a TBSP)

Salt and pepper

Heat oil over medium heat and add garlic. Cook for about a minute and add sausage (or bacon). Cook for about four minutes and add chard. Saute for about one minute and add tabasco, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Saute for another 5 minutes (until wilted) and serve immediately.

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