Wednesday, November 25, 2009

muchos gracias

mass pike 02

So I would love to write a squishy post all about how thankful I am for my life, my fam, my buds, my boyf and my blog and I did. But once again the evil gods of technology are breathing down my neck and at this point in time, I just need to play it safe in the interest of posting just a little something as we come into one of my very favorite holidays. Thanksgiving is special because it’s a wonderful excuse to take time out and slow down. I don’t need to tell you I can get behind the idea of devoting an entire day to the cooking and the eating of deliciousness. One thing I love that my family always does is that everybody goes around the table and says something they’re thankful for. The answers are usually in varying degrees of seriousness and silliness because that’s just how we roll. We’re cheesy but we’re cute. Seriously, one year we dressed as pilgrims for Thanksgiving. I’m not joking, I have the photos. My sister said her and her husband are planning on making pilgrim hats this year in order to embarrass his sister, who is bringing her new boyfriend to Thanksgiving at their house. Incredible. I wish I could be there.

Another reason why I love Thanksgiving is that though it is steeped in tradition, my own family Thanksgiving takes different shapes every year. We’re not a stick to one location or guest list type of fam. Sometimes there are 6 of us, sometimes, 20. It’s whatever works. I appreciate the flexibility. Last year and the year before the whole extended family gathered at my aunts’ house in Chatham. The year before that just my Dad and I went out to a super fancy dinner. That was a really nice one. Other years my sister has been home from California, and in others, it’s been just me, my mom and my brother’s brood. This year, I will join Paul and his family at his aunt’s house in Connecticut. I love that my Thanksgiving takes different shapes, because the ultimate feeling I end up with is the same. Now, I’m not talking about the triptophan coma, although, all a happy-full-sleepy feeling is SO nice. I’m talking about taking the time to devote a day to one simple premise: the idea of being thankful. Gratitude is something that is so vital to our happiness, that we don’t often take the time to recognize. During the daily grind we bust our way through traffic and crowded subway cars, peel our eyes open in front of the computer screen, shrug our shoulders back and just try to maintain. We don’t think “I’m grateful for my job, I’m grateful for my car getting me from here to there and I’m grateful for my super comfortable, very full life.” It would behoove us all to be thankful at least once every day, not just on this day. So my goal for this Thanksgiving (besides making stellar stuffed mushrooms and a pumpkin roll) is to take a little bit of this holiday premise with me into the next day, and the day after that, and the next week and to keep it with me throughout the holiday season and hopefully, foreva. We may wake up from the food coma, but the feeling of peace that comes from embracing gratitude is something special that we can keep in our bellies long after we’ve left the table.


So leaving with those Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey, I’m off to seriously mess up my kitchen. I’m making stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer and a pumpkin roll as well. I will post about how they come out over the weekend or early next week!

Also, because on the other side of “thanks” is “give” I did want to give you a recipe today. Because this is Porky Dickens and there is no Porky Thanksgiving without a cocktail or two, I wanted to share a super simple, delicious drink recipe that is very Thanksgiving appropriate.


Apple cider
Your finest Champag-nah (perhaps a nice 2007 Andre?)
Cinnamon and Sugar
Optional garnishes: cinnamon sticks, apple slices

When I was a bartender, I used to work brunch. So every weekend, I would be in charge of coming up with a different type of mimosa as an alternative to the standard orange and champangah. This little lady was my Fall classic and was very popular. They are soooo good. Be warned, you can drink like 70 of these before you know it. I wouldn’t recommend that unless your family is the kind of family that enjoys when a holiday ends up with you break dancing on the kitchen floor (a la me circa Christmas 2001).

Dip rim of glass in cider, then roll in cinnamon and sugar (this is optional but adds a little something to the taste and look of this drink). Fill glass ¾ full with champagnah, top with cider to taste. Add garnish, if applicable. Enjoy (with caution)!

Friday, November 20, 2009

self pity and oven fries

Dear readers:

My work computer is cooked, my home computer is several years old and has a battery issue. I have been attempting for about three days and 45 minutes to try and post something and neither the computer I am working on now, or my home computer can seem to handle me trying post a simple blog.

I'm truly embarassed to admit this but I have been sitting here whimpering trying to CUT and PASTE my word document into this field and it's not working (now imagine me crying a little bit) it's JUST. NOT. WORKING. Frustration can not really express how I feel at this point in time but I'm going to persevere right now and do what I always try and remember to do when things are super frusterating: keep it simple.

I'm not going to complain any further about the fact that due to not having a computer/ being able to work at my own desk I have been a nomadic secretary for the past week, I'm also not going to complain that I just haven't had much time to cook lately and that my back hurts and that I have class ALL day long on Saturday and I don't even know WHEN I'm going to cook things for Thanksgiving, no I swear I'm not going to bog this forum down with a vicious cycle of whines. I swear, I'm finished. I'll save all my whining for Paul and my mom. That's what I pay them for, right? Instead I'm going to provide the Porky faithful with a GO-TO recipe.

Many people might not believe in oven fries. "They can't get crispy" you think, but I'm here to tell you, well, you're wrong. These oven fries are not only crispy but they are also the perfect compliment to say, a leftover half a sandwich you saved for dinner, or a nice grilled piece of fish or chicken or on the side of a nice big salad. There are only a few trade secrets that need be applied to ensure delectable oven fries and I will provide them right here because you deserve them. And when I'm feeling like a whiny baby, I like to share, it takes the focus off the whining. French fries are quite possibly, my perfect comfort food. So in this haze of self pity and computer complaints, I thought I would share a little self love. Because as I noshed these bad boys down last night with my leftovers from Chacarera, well, I loved myself for making them. I loved my self a whole lot.


One russet potato, cut into semi-uniform sized sticks
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

I kept these simple last night, because I wanted to get them into the oven and into my belly ASAP, but you can jazz them up with different spices, sometimes I use curry powder, chili powder or some nice paprika. But always, sea salt and pepper do the trick.

Heat oven to 400. Cut your tater into fry shapes. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with olive oil spray or nonstick spray. Arrange your taters on the pan. Pour a palm full of olive oil into your hand, rub hands together and then man handle your fries until all of them are coated with oil. I find this trick ensures that I don't use too much oil; also, I just wash my hands after, so no additional utensils/dishes necessito. Jess like this. Generously salt and pepper your tater sticks and then arrange them as best you can so that each fry has his own personal space. The key, I mean KEY to crispy oven fries is two fold (this also goes for sweet potato fries) 1: space the suckers out; 2: nice hot oven. open the door ONLY ONCE to flip them over. Bake for 40 minutes, flipping at the 20 minute mark. Maybe add a little more salt and pepper when they're done. Maybe serve with some decadent horseradish mayo* for dipping. Maybe eat them on the coach, without even pausing to change the channel for several minutes, maybe that's just me.

Aaaahhh....I feel better already. Thanks for bearing with me through the whining. Enjoy your oven fries and Happy Friday!

* just stir together a bit of horseradish with a few tablespoons of mayo. Salt and pepper. This stuff is amazing. I feel like the fact that the oven fries are lo cal and the mayo is not balances itself out and life is all about balance, right? I also like to pair this horseradish mayo with ketchup and dip my fries in not one but both because I have a dipping sauce weakness issue.

PS- apparently I can't paste photos in either. Ugh. Whatever. I hate computers. The pics aren't that good anyways, so I'm just going to let this one go.

PPS- "Angel Eyes" by Jeff Healy Band just came on the radio, despite technical difficulties this day can't be ALL bad, right?!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

and the slacktacular blog award goes to...

Confession: I haven’t done much in the way of cooking this week. I’ve been mooching most of my meals off of other people (read: my ma). I’m like sitting here feeling kind of guilty because dude. It’s Nov-em-ber. High eating season is upon us and I have been cooking repeats the past two weeks!

But I swear on all that is porky, I’m going to cook something in the next day or two and share it. I feel like mushrooms wicked bad lately. Maybe I am anticipating my stuffed mushroom apps on Thanksgiving or maybe I just read the words “foraged mushroom ragu” on the Saporitos menu online and passed out in my chair a little. Stay tuned to find out.

Meanwhiles, did you want to see our Halloween costumes? I thought you might.


Friday, November 6, 2009

less is more

budget dickens 06

A single egg on toast. This is what I have found myself in front of for the last two weeks at breakfast time. I would like to say I’m embracing minimalism, but the truth is I’m flat broke at the moment, so an egg on toast is about as fancy as I can get. But you know what? Look at that egg on toast. It's absolute perfection and I haven't gotten tired of it once. Mmmm. I'd eat one right now.

I pride myself on being pretty frugal. I don’t blow money on fancy lattes, and I rarely go out to lunch. I like to try my best to pay my bills early and on time. I try to resist the dangerous lure of Anthropologie online. I understand when a lady of my means (as in a decent income earner but with redonkulous debt/ bills) isn’t rolling in dough, but I usually have enough leftover in the kitty for one grocery store splurge per week. So when I find myself flat broke as in, no I can’t buy coffee if I want my rent check to clear broke, as in sob to my boyfriend about the oil bill broke, I’m like “what the heck is going on?” And then I’m like “what the heck am I going to eat?” The answer I found, is check out what you’ve got and make stuff up. And then eat it, because well, you sort of have no other options. And then you find that sometimes its our restrictions that enable us to be the most creative. Alls you’ve got is some garlic, stale bread and a dream, this is when kitchen miracles can happen.

But also sometimes, when we’re too busy being lame-os boo hooing about our grocery budget and cobbling together meals, we also forget to take any decent pictures of anything. Like I did. So please forgive the lack of formal recipes or nice photos in this week’s post. I’ll get you back I promise.

So last week I unintentionally made some Halloween colored lunch. I cut up and roasted a butternut squash with some chunks of onion and some smashed, but not peeled, garlic cloves. Roasted at 400 for about 40 minutes. When the veggies were done, I squeezed the roasted garlic into a bowl, added a few splashes of sherry vinegar, some salt, pepper and sugar, whisked in some olive oil to make a vinaigrette. Then I made some Trader Joe’s instant beluga lentils (in the micro—although I will say I get skeeved about cooking foods in plastic bags but you know you gotta do what you gotta do). Tossed the lentils with the roasted veggies in the vinaigrette. I then ate this for three days for lunch with a couple crumbles of goat cheese on top. Dynomite. Also, black and orange! So festive.

ween food 02

THEN, on Tuesday night I was making dinner for the mans and me. I listed him the options: I have this, that, this, that, and bacon. He was like “oh use the bacon and the gnocchi” and I was like “hmmmm…okay” and then I set to work making one of those meals you’re kind of nervous the whole time you’re cooking that the end result is going to be disgusting. You know the ones? I fried up a couple slices of bacon, crumbled them, set them aside. Poured the bacon grease out of the pan. Using the same skillet added a little olive oil and sautéed some diced onion. When the onion was translucent I added some minced garlic, then some baby spinach, the bacon crumbles. I tossed all of this over some TJ’s gnocchi (oh btws, you do know that Trader Joe’s is the budget gourmand’s BFF 4EVA, right? If you didn’t now you know) and added, guess what? Goat cheese. If I ever have a show like Emeril goat cheese will be my BAM! Except I’ll have to figure out a good way to make it pop, like a real tag line. GOAT CHEESE! Maybe I’ll just bleat, like a goat. Or not. We’ll have to have a reader poll for that. And I also won’t be as annoying as Emeril I promise. Anywho. To accompany the spinach and bacon gnocchi, I roasted some cauliflower. Guess what? I really like cauliflower. I did not know this until recently. This Winter’s going to be cauliflower central, mark my words. So I sliced her up, drizzled some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and tossed with salt and peps. Into a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Flip the cauliflower about half way through. It should get nice and caramelized on each side.

budget dickens 02

Meanwhile in a small pan toast some chopped almonds and bread crumbs (I used cracker crumbs, no diff.) in a tablespoon or so of butter. Just for a few minutes over med-low heat. When the cauliflower comes out toss in a bowl with the breadcrumbs and almonds. Say what? Do you know what butter toasted almonds and breadcrumbs can do to anything? Well, skies the limit.

budget dickens 04
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