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Archive for the ‘Other Fun Reads’ Category

I am taking a play from the Shannon playbook and opening the site up for questions today.

Practically speaking, I am looking for Thanksgiving questions.  I have a huge series of posts in the works, but want to answer any questions you may have. Some I will probably answer on the spot today, while others will be folded in to posts at a later date. A bunch of you email me with questions, which I love, but maybe you could all help a woman out today…

Or, just ask me anything…what I had for breakfast? The reason I dyed my hair blond when I was 15? Why I am so scared of committment?  I don’t care…More than you even realize, your comments and questions help inspire posts.

I will take questions until 6 pm tomorrow (10/22) and announce the winner at the end of the week. DF can attest, I will not poison you.  Like last time I will tape the drawing so none of you think I am a cheating cheater.

Anyway, ask your questions.  Lurkers, show your faces!  Who doesn’t want to win baked goods from strangers on the internet? Come on, all the kids are doing it.

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Scary… Like Whoa

If you know me, or are a blog friend, or are not anything resembling a killer, please feel free to email me at culinarycouture (at) gmail (dot) com for the password on the post below. I have the right to refuse, though; I am finicky like that.

Also, please don’t forget to check me out at So Good today.

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Cheap Trick

Yesterday, I found myself watching numbers on the Dow plummet and silently wishing I knew anything about money.

Cindarella and I emailed back and forth, lamenting the state of the economy. “I am going to have to buy COVER GIRL”, I whined.

I am…not great with money. My bills are paid on time and in full, I sporadically throw some money in savings, and I have worked really hard to live without using a credit card. That, my friends, is about it. Budgets? What are those? I have no idea where my money goes, frankly. My economic philosophy goes something like this: I check my online account, see I have “x” amount of dollars until I get paid, and spend accordingly. Please feel free to add “money management”, alongside driving and tact, to the list of things in which I do not excel.

I am a very lucky girl. I know this. Though I may need to make some changes (for instance, figuring out what I spend my money on), I will never starve. I have a secure job and I am paid well. My bills will not pile up and tightening of the purse strings means buying more yellow beer and laying off the Nars.

Yet, that doesn’t mean we aren’t all feeling it…or will soon. (This the the point in this post where I ask everyone to refrain from political screeds, m’kay?) Looks like it time to revisit some recipes from the past; tried and true meals that are tasty and make a minimal dent in the wallet. Please feel free to mock my photos from the earlier days and poke fun at my unfocused writing. I was not always the Lemmonex you see today.

Here is Cooking on a Budget 101…

Breadline Beans: Beans are always cheap…and this one is also vegetarian and can be thrown together in about 20 minutes.

Frittata: Making a frittata is perfect as you can throw anything in there. Have a nub of cheese, some random vegetables festering in the crisper, and left over sausage from brunch the previous day? Use it all…

Pasta with Eggs and Asparagus: Pasta and eggs…you should always have those on hand. All you need to pick up is a bunch of asparagus.

Banana Bread Oatmeal: Oats are pennies and everyone always has some bananas around…this is a another way to use up those bananas that are looking a little black.

Chicken with Spicy Asian Black Bean Sauce: No special ingredients needed here; most stocked pantries have all these ingredients on hand and the final result is delicious.

Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola Pizza: Pizza crust may be one of the most cost effective things to make; all you need is some flour, water, honey and a packet of yeast.  I topped this pizza with caramelized onions and gorgonzola, but you can use whatever you have on hand.

Pesto Pea Soup: A bag of frozen peas and premade pesto? Simple, cheap, easy.

Stuffed Red Peppers: The lack of meat keeps this recipe cheap (and healthy). Whatever pepper is on sale can be used and almost all the vegetables in this recipe can be swapped out for whatever you have on hand/what is priced the best.

Asian Chicken Burgers: Ground chicken, natch, and a bunch of other pantry staples come together to make a flavorful burger.

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On Notice

Last night, I went to the Ben Folds concert at DAR Constitution Hall. Yesterday was a bit of a rough day, a perfect storm one may say, where about 5 things came to a head. Individually, these things would have merely annoyed me, possibly solicited an eyeroll and quick gchat bitch session. Combined, though, these matters left me a bit surly. I spent the day reminding myself that things are looking up on the job front (I’ve been interviewing a ton) and, as an added bonus, I would be able to dance away all the frustration at the concert. I am really taking this new positive thinking thing out for a spin.

Oh, Ben. Ben, Ben, Ben. Why must you test me so? This concert was terrible, simply awful. EJ, my concert-going companion, says it far better than I could, but I have never been so offended or disappointed by a concert. This was, hands down, the worst show I have ever attended. He played just shy of 90 minutes, with the first 70 minutes spent playing music from his album that will not be released until next week. He played 4 songs EJ and I knew; 4 songs from a catalogue that has spanned close to two decades and has afforded him a pretty nice life. It was a slap in the face. Look, I understand self indulgence, truly, but this was too much. He didn’t engage the audience; in fact, he was almost petulant. He was lacking in charm or any sort of showmanship. About halfway through, I looked over at EJ and whispered, “If this were a date, I would be desperately texting you telling you to come up with some emergency”. What makes it worse is I feel my memories of former shows, previously recounted fondly, have been sullied. I would have much rather taken the $55 dollars I spent on that ticket and had a few bottles of wine with EJ; she respects me, my time, and my money. Also, she doesn’t sing songs about “bitches” with opinions and how they are nuts.

But, there is always an upside: I could be Spike Mendelsohn. Now, despite some personal reasons, I think Good Stuff is…pretty good stuff. The burgers are a gooey delight and the shakes are divine.  (Seriously, I still dream of that marshmallow shake.)  Spike’s presence has pissed some people off in DC.  He has had to deal with complaints about the inconsistent quality of his burgers, ridiculously long lines at his place, and a general disdain by some in the restaurant community for his fame-whoring and courting of reality TV. (Rumor has it that they are shooting a reality show in the restaurant starting soon.)  Well, looks like Spike is getting hit with a different kind of reality: Good Stuff has been cited with several serious health code violations, including storing beef in the ally outside of the restaurant.  Spike, you done and screwed up good.  I understand the hand washing thing–it happens and I am a realist–but meat in an ally?  You are already a walking target…don’t make it easy to pick on you.

Yes, I know taking solace in the pain of others isn’t exactly in the spirit of “positive thinking” but it sure helps me.  It could always be worse.  Poor Spike…kinda.

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I am sure you are all going to have something to say about this.  You always do, and that is why I love you.

Inspired by yesterday’s posting on the “Omnivore’s 100“, I have pulled together a list of quintessentially American foods every God fearing, flag waving, overeating citizen of this country should consume in their lifetime.

There is regional cuisine, some classics from generations past, and good old fashioned junk food.  This is NOT a list of gastronomic delicacies or foodie delights, although many of these things are quite delightful. Do I think everyone should eat foie gras before they die? Yes.  Is it classic Americana? No.

I had to make some tough judgment calls, but I am pretty pleased with how it turned out. Thanks for chiming in yesterday with thoughts and especially to LivitLuvit for contributing and editing a ton. Y’all are so smart. Just like before, I have highlighted everything I have eaten. 89…not too shabby, methinks.

And why 101?  Because we are American, darnit, and 100 isn’t enough.  Like everything else in this wonderful nation, this list is supersized.

1.    Twinkies
2.    NY Style Pizza
3.    Sushi
4.    Shrimp and Grits
5.    Muffuletta
6.    Banana Bread
7.    Chocolate Chip Cookies
8.    Fish tacos
9.    Root Beer Float
10.    In and Out Burger
11.    Garbage Plate
12.    Fried Chicken
13.    Half Smoke
14.    Lobster Boil
15.    Apple Pie
16.    French Dip/Italian Beef
17.    Funyuns
18.    Coca Cola
19.    Eggs Benedict
20.    Blueberry Muffins
21.    Buttermilk Biscuits and Gravy
22.    Shrimp Po’ Boy
23.    Ambrosia Salad
24.    Ovaltine
25.    Lasagna
26.    Western Omelet
27.    Sweet Potato Pie
28.    Tuna Casserole
29.    Tater Tots
30.    M&Ms
31.    Cheerios
32.    Wine IN Napa
33.    Jambalaya
34.    Cuban Sandwich
35.    Crab Cakes
36.    Cheeseburger
37.    Pork Rinds
38.    Baked Alaska
39.    Egg Nog
40.    Pigs in a Blanket
41.    Tennessee BBQ
42.    Apple Cider
43.    Thin Mints
44.    Monkey Bread
45.    Chicken and Dumplings
46.    Mashed Potatoes
47.    Matzo Ball Soup
48.    Jim Beam
49.    NY Bagel
50.    Cornbread
51.    Frosty
52.    Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
53.    Cranberry Sauce
54.    Kettle Corn
55.    Downtown Mahattan
56.    Rocky Road Ice Cream
57.    Fluffernutter Sandwich
58.    Cool Whip
59.    Black and White Cookies
60.    Pierogis
61.    Rotisserie Chicken
62.    French Toast
63.    Chocolate Milk
64.    Fried Green Tomatoes
65.    Cobb Salad
66.    Baby back ribs
67.    Cup of Coffee
68.    Cotton Candy
69.    Bologna
70.    Corn Dogs
71.    Cheesecake
72.    Pecan Pie
73.    Scrapple
74.    Philly Cheesesteak
75.    Old Bay
76.    Chicken Fried Steak
77.    Rocky Mountain Oysters
78.    Black Eyed Peas
79.    Potato salad
80.    Chili
81.    BLT Sandwich
82.    Egg Salad
83.    Macaroni and Cheese
84.    Red beans and rice
85.    Mongolian BBQ
86.    Hot fudge sundae
87.    Red Velvet Cake
88.    Sour Cream and Onion Chips
89.    Bacon, Egg and Cheese Sandwich
90.    Chicken Fingers
91.    Mrs. Butterworth Syrup
92.    Shirley Temple
93.    Meatloaf
94.    Grape Kool-Aid
95.    Black Licorice
96.    Buffalo Wings
97.    Pulled Pork Sandwich
98.    Budweiser
99.    Peeps
100.    Pop Tarts
101.    Green bean casserole

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This list has been all over the internet. I had to pile on to the heap.

Very Good Taste, a food blog in the UK, put together a list of 100 foods they think every omnivore should try before they die.

This is how it works: you copy and paste the list into your blog, bold things you have tried, cross out the things you would never let pass your lips, and then tally up and discuss.

Here is how I did, with my thoughts below:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

———————–

So, I suck..only 50 of the 100 have been eaten by yours truly. I need to get on the stick. How have I NOT had bagel and lox? I went to GW, for Christ sake; I am more Jewish than half the Jews I know.

Also, if there is anyone out there who would like to treat me to a tasting menu at a three star restaurant, I am ALL YOURS.

Things I was pleased to see on the list: pistachio ice cream (probably my favorite flavor, though it is a tough call), Hostess fruit pies (Holla!), sweetbreads (fried, please) and Pho (soup of the Gods).

One last observation: This is clearly a list created by a Brit, as evidenced by all the curry. If this originated in the states, I am guessing the list would look a bit different.  I am imagining regional cuisine/treats such as King Cake, BBQ Brisket and Mexican (fish tacos?) would be on here.

Alrighty, friends. Share your thoughts below. I am especially curious to hear what you think would be included if this was a list compiled by an American.

And if you are especially in the mood to take orders today, get thee to So Good and read about what kind of food travesty I subjected myself to this week.

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Foodie Potluck Redux

I trotted out my boots and painted my nails navy this weekend. Adios sandals. Goodbye pastels. I am so sick of looking at you.

I am also ready for the homey soups and warming roasts of the fall and winter, but before we welcome cold weather foods with open arms, I say we give summer a proper send off.

On Saturday, October 11 from 4-7, stop by a foodie picnic hosted by the wonderful Barbara at Looking2live and yours truly.

Swing on by Grove #1 in Rock Creek Park (it is metro accessible via Adams Morgan) with a homemade dish for 8 to share. We aren’t going to assign dishes, but give us an idea if you can. Though a “chocolate cake picnic” sounds pretty awesome to me, I think it would be best to avoid a sugar crash.

We will provide plates, utensils, cups, and napkins. Please bring your own beverages.

If you are a food blogger (or write about food on the regular), we are looking forward to meeting you. You can RSVP by commenting or emailing me at culinarycouture (at) gmail (dot) com.

Perhaps some ladybugs will join? A girl can dream.

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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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The beautiful KassyK decided to make a last minute visit to DC this weekend and rang me up. She swung by my house, and we got the party started.

A very unfortunate accident the evening before involving a shattered blender and a string of expletives made pineapple margaritas impossible, so I decided to improvise. Who knew raspberry vodka, tonic and thawed out frozen berries could lead to so much fun?

These sweet drinks lead to:

* A night filled with shots…so many shots.

* Us calling up LivIt LuvIt, her joining, and an obscene amount of dancing.

* A lot of drunk-dialing, texting and other various embarrassments that were discovered the next morning

* Kassy and I falling asleep in the same bed and…me spooning her. Can you blame me? She is very cuddly. Also, she is very understanding and sweetly told me the next morning that she woke up and my leg was wrapped around her…but she thought it was funny. Phew…

What have we learned from this, kids? Every day is an opportunity to take in a lesson and I think I learned a few that night. Some lessons from that evening: 1. too many fruity drinks make you act like a silly girl; 2. I may have found two women that love to dance as much as I do and 3. I really need to stop sharing beds with my friends, as this is the second pal in as many months I have spooned as they innocently slept. Just call me the Renegade Spooner…

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I awoke this morning stark naked and hugging my laptop.

Just another Wednesday morning, kids. Note to self: one should not take shots on a school night.

But all is not lost! My column, I Try It So You Don’t Have To,  over at So Good debuts today.  Of course, being reminded of what I ate almost made me lose my breakfast, but hey, I will suffer for my art.

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