Thursday, November 12, 2015

Regrets, Lightly Breaded. Plus Statistics, Math, and Trends.

Note: This post is NOT actually about food. My regrets are lightly breaded in memories.

Twice in my life, a handsome young man has approached me and asked me to take a chance with him.

Both times I have turned the young man down.

And both times, I have regretted it.

But let's go deeper:

The first time was back in high school. A classmate, who I didn't know particularly well but was quite popular, had forgotten that we had to present a chemistry project to the class. He shows up to class, realizes this, and turns around in his seat to look at me. "Want to present with me?" he says. "I need a partner," he says. "Don't worry, I have a plan."

Apprehensive, nervous, and extremely self-conscious, worried about making a fool of myself in front of an entire class--which included my crush at the time--I turned him down. Not the least bit fazed, this guy leaned across the aisle and asked the dude next to him, who agreed, and they went on to present an entertaining and stimulating mind trick. It was excellent. I was sad.

(Interesting ending: Fortunately, this classmate of mine and I are, surprisingly enough, still friends! We live in the same town, and our professional paths cross occasionally. He is still an extremely charming and poised rogue who can talk anyone into anything, and coming from me, that's pretty much a professional opinion.)

A second time, years later, I was out at karaoke. A dudebro type that I didn't know from Adam walked up to me and asked me to sing a duet with him. Less self-conscious by then, but still apprehensive, nervous, and worried about making a fool of myself in front of a group, I again turned this offer down. He found another girl who, it turned out, couldn't really sing, but HE certainly could, and he carried both of them. Again, I was sad. I knew the song well and I would have totally rocked it, but I had no one to blame but myself.

Weird trend, certainly, especially given that I'm normally so outgoing, but then my life is full of weird trends. For example, my parents and I all have birthdays on the same day of the week. If my mother's is on, say, a Tuesday, then we already know my dad's birthday and my birthday will ALSO be on a Tuesday. We're all exact weeks apart. This isn't earth-shaking, but it comes in extremely handy, and if you do the math (I haven't, but maybe I will at some point) the odds of this happening are actually extremely low!  (Okay, I did the math, the odds of this happening are 1 in 343, if I remember my statistics correctly, or about 3 in 1000. About 0.3%. Less than 1%, in my mind, is relatively uncommon. I love it when math proves me right.) (Possibly related: my dad's birthday is tomorrow! Happy early birthday, dad!)

And finally, I knew E and I were right for each other the moment I met him, but it really threw me for a loop when he told me his ski lock combination. "I'm sorry, what is it, again?" I asked.

He told me again. "It's the last four digits of my phone number growing up," he explained. "Why?"

"Because that's the same sequence as the last four digits of my debit card AND my library card," I finally said.

True Story.

Monday, November 09, 2015

More Cooking Wins

Did you want my blog to be about something else besides food? I'm sorry, you've opened a peephole on my life at the wrong time. Go back and read my archives from 2009. They're plenty exciting!

(No, I'm serious. I was re-reading them the other day and even *I* can't believe most of that stuff happened. AND I WAS THERE.)

(The other years aren't bad, either.)

Two big wins today:

Dry Cooking Chicken In Your Crock Pot. This is thing, this is totally a thing, and IT'S AWESOME. I was puttering around my "kitchen"* a few nights ago and happened upon this post and realized I had some frozen chicken thighs (with bone and skin) in my freezer. They were so old that they had frozen into one solid mass, and I figured I had nothing to lose, so I microwaved them just enough to be able to pull them apart (1 minute 30 seconds in total), nestled them skinless-side down in my slow cooker, sprinkled them from On High with a lot of salt and pepper, and turned on the slow cooker. Then I went to bed. (Yes, I realize that night time--or in this case, 2 am--is not the traditional time for starting a crock pot project, but I've never done anything in the traditional manner and I'll be damned if I'm going to start now.)

I woke up the next morning, the house smelled great, and I had EXCELLENTLY COOKED CHICKEN. They did turn out just a hair dry at the end, but only by my standards--I prefer all my meats dripping with fat and grease and sauces, so I'm an extreme case--and the skin is just delicious. I would happily microwave one and serve it to someone, as long as that person was a good friend, and I will absolutely use this chicken in sandwiches and salads next week. It will be awesome. (Note: this does not make shredded, pull-apart chicken. This makes properly cooked chicken pieces, like you'd get at a restaurant with the skin golden and crispy and a side of, say, mashed potatoes or whatever.) The point is, you take frozen chicken and you add salt and pepper and you go to bed, and you wake up with perfect chicken the next day. Although I might cook it a little less, next time, and I could probably stand to season both sides, not that it would matter much if they're frozen anyway.

Note: This compares favorably to the Pepperoncini chicken that is widely touted as The Easiest Crock Pot Chicken Ever. I've done the pepperoncini chicken and although it's delicious and extremely tender, the vinegar taste is a bit strong, and I tend to love vinegar.

UPDATE: After combing the internet, I've decided that somehow I dreamed up this recipe, because apparently the very popular Easiest Crockpot Meat Recipe Ever is Pepperoncini BEEF. You cook a BEEF rump or shoulder or any other tough cut with a jar of pepperoncinis in your slow cooker and shred it, for tacos and and sandwiches and such. That is what you do. The pepperoncini recipes involving chicken and slow cookers also include Italian seasoning (although I bet Ranch would be even better, the buttermilk would balance out the pepperoncini) and some include chicken broth.


Picture of my chicken:

As I bagged this up, I kept sneaking pieces "just to taste." They were perhaps larger than they technically needed to be. I think that's always a good sign.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

A Huge Bunch of Win

First, a snack food/dip:

Goat cheese, baked or broiled in a ramekin or other safe container until bubbling and perhaps a little browned on top. Add sriracha to taste and mix. You're done. (And now that I think about it, you could probably mix the goat cheese and the sriracha FIRST, and THEN brown it, but I have no idea what browned sriracha tastes like and so I can't honestly recommend it. If anyone ever reads my blog again and tries it, please report back. Also, what is 2316 like? Do we have jet packs yet?

You can dip anything you so desire into it--plantain chips*, parsnip chips, kale chips, even regular chips (but WHY WOULD YOU**), pretzels. You could spread it on pita or sandwich bread. It might even make a good pasta sauce, if you mix it in at the last minute into hot pasta***. (Goat cheese doesn't stand up well to the longer cooking times of alfredo or bolognese, so don't simmer your pasta IN this dip.) It is freaking DELICIOUS. I can't think of anything, right now, that it WOULDN'T be good on. A veggie platter would shine with this dip. (Excluding perhaps carrots, but who knows?) You could stuff it into red peppers and roast it, and I bet you could add olives or something as well.

The one thing it wouldn't go good with? (I thought of something!) Fruit. Sad but true. Sriracha and fruit do not mix.

Anyway! Other wins:

Herschey's Sugar Free Chocolate Chips. I looked these up online, found them on Amazon AND, thanks to the kindness of internet strangers, discovered that Walmart sells them for one third the price available on Amazon. Well, shucks, I have a Walmart in my area, I'm going to be down there anyway for an airport delivery, why don't I just check and see? Turns out they totally sell them at my Walmart and they are DELICIOUS. Just like the Nestle Tollhouse chips of my childhood, only with zero carbs. Magical. For my next trick, I'm attempting to recreate the White Cookies of my childhood, only with coconut flour and these chocolate chips. Stay tuned.

Picture, just for kicks:

Not pictured: my chocolate-smeared mouth.

*These are technically way too high in carbs for my lifestyle, but they're DELICIOUS and I try not to freak out about eating real food. It's FOOD, for gob's sake. As a treat, why not enjoy them?

**This blog is low-carb and does not recommend you eat "conventional" chips of any kind. There are so many other things that crunch out there! There is no need to eat feedlot corn!

***Or hot faux noodles, as this blog would do. Bonus instructions, to properly prepare faux noodles, rinse them thoroughly in running water for a minute or so, microwave them for 2 minutes, drain any excess water, fluff them with a fork, microwave again, drain, fluff. Done. Dry-roasting at this step is just an added bonus, but it IS cool if you like that sort of thing.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

New, Favorite, Thing

This is the most delicious thing, ever. EVER:

It is the chocolate ice cream to end all chocolate ice creams. Every spoonful--EVERY spoonful--has such incredible mouthfeel that you literally never get tired of eating it. Every bite is just as enjoyable as the first one. Watch out.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Things To Know About Me and Food, Part the Third

The point: even though I love bread, I still won't choose really good bread and a bad sandwich over mediocre bread and a good sandwich, and by "good" I don't mean (necessarily) the quality of the meats and cheeses, but more about the balance of the sandwich. After all, Salumi's may have the best meatballs in town, but I've had a better sandwich at Subway: a SANDWICH should be HELD IN THE HAND AND EATEN. If you have to use a knife and fork, then you're not eating a sandwich. (Yes, I know it's possible, but you have to lift off the top of the sandwich, then, and set it aside, and then what are you going to do with that top piece? Eat it plain? Save it for later? Butter it and eat it after wards? I've done all these things, and I like them, but in THAT case you're not really eating a sandwich: you're eating an open-faced meal on a bread base with a second course of a thick piece of bread. And that is great, as far as it goes, especially if the bread is really good. But if the menu says "sandwich" then I want a goddamned sandwich. Held in the hand. Bitten into. Eaten by mouth and fingers.)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Things To Know About Me And Food, Part the Second

I used to love bread, of course, but now, getting older, it just tastes...heavy. It tastes like all I'm going to do is sit there for the next hour and feel full, and have my stomach grumble and my mind go dull, and one of the many, many benefits about getting older is that I can now easily associate those things, the action and the consequences, and the consequences flavor my perception of the bread so that I can easily and willfully choose to not eat it. And not feel restricted, or controlled, or deprived: to willfully and easily choose to not eat it. Like now veggies taste good, because I know I really will feel better if I eat them, and so I eat them, not because I'm told to or because I *have* to, because the editors of Shape magazine are breathing down my neck, but because I really want to.

There are many, many good things about getting older!

Of course, I LOVE bread, or used to, anyway, and still, to my mind, nothing goes better with a good cup of coffee in the morning like a really good piece of bread, toasted, with butter. Not even any cheese--just toast with salted butter, and maybe some heavy cream in the coffee, but no sugar.

Not that it hasn't taken me awhile to come to this conclusion, mind you. I always think, with my More, More, More, mind, that maybe I should add a little cheese to the toast, and maybe a little sugar or chocolate to the coffee, not that I don't love the taste of coffee as it is, but adding chocolate or sugar would make it tastier and more luxurious, somehow, and this is absolutely true. But then I end up with cheesetoast and a mocha, and while I love each of those things, somehow, together they seem a little...overdone. Too much. And I worshipped the idea of melted cheese with a mocha for many, many years: cheese omelets with mochas, cheesy breakfast sandwiches with mochas, a mocha with a baugette and butter and jam, a bagel with cream cheese and an iced mocha in the summer. But finally, I had to admit that I just didn't actually like this combination. It sounds so good in theory, you know, and indeed cheese and chocolate have gone together for eons, in many different cultures. But they usually eat them plainer--just a good piece of cheese and a good piece of chocolate--no coffee and very little bread--and what I'm getting at here is that PLAIN is often the way to enjoy good flavors. Not more complicated. Plain.

Coffee with cream and a piece of plain toast, and the crunchiness of the toast, with the fat of the butter and just that hint of salt, really picks up the sweet caramel notes of the coffee and the heavy cream just carries the mouthfeel, providing a slippery nest for the stretchiness of the gluten strands to stretch and pop over, bursting with flavor.

I'm getting off track, which I tend to do. To be continued!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Things to Know About Me and Food, Part the First

I eat low carb, and I don't miss sandwiches.

I love, love, LOVE a good sandwich, and even a bad sandwich, and it's not even about the bread. The bread is really just there as an excuse to hold the sauces, or to be more accurate, it's not even that I love a sandwich: it's that I love the excuse to spread mayonnaise and mustard on something. Just about anything will do.

So, even eating low-carb these days, I don't miss the traditional "sandwich" at all--that was a very easy swap for me. Does it have lunch meat, cheese, mayo, mustard? Are there pickles? Is there lettuce? Great! It's officially a sandwich. I'll wrap it in lettuce, and if the lettuce breaks, and I get mayo and mustard all over my fingers, well, that just gives me an excuse to lick my fingers. Sometimes I'll take ham and melt cheese over it, then spread the top with mayo and mustard and pile spinach on there, and then roll the whole thing up with the ham on the outside and just chomp into it that way, making little Mmm, Mmm sounds. Sometimes I'll make a full on lettuce wrap, as I mentioned before. Craving pizza? I'll make a mat of pepperoni at the bottom of a bowl, melt mozzerella cheese over it, decorate the top with some tomato paste and basil paste and spread that stuff around with a fork and eat my crustless pizza with fork and knife. And it is delicious.

That's two things I've learned about eating low carb: 1) everything is easier in a bowl, and 2) most of your meals look like a dog's breakfast, and that's okay. Chicken bits with melted cheese, then covered with guacamole and sour cream and salsa; scrambled eggs with pico de gallo and cheese and sour cream; faux noodles with chicken and peanut sauce and sriracha; I don't need carbs for any of these things. And the best part--the absolute best part--is that faux noodles take SO MUCH LESS TIME than regular noodles, and so many fewer dishes and equipment, that I'm beginning to prefer them, and not just because they don't make me feel heavy afterwards.

(Okay, so, occasionally I'm feeling fancy, and I'll make myself low-carb bread and build an actual traditional sandwich, and since we have a George Forman grill, I will press said sandwich and it will be DELICIOUS.) See example:

THAT'S RIGHT, I MADE THAT. AND IT'S TOTALLY LOW CARB, BITCHES. That's homemade almond bread and stuffins from half a sandwich that E didn't finish--I don't know what kind of block the man has about leftovers, I LOVE them--built into an awesome sandwich in about thirty seconds because I own a George Forman grill and it is awesome.

More things I made recently follow.

Cabbage from Whole Foods (mentioned in this post) with WF peanut-coconut sauce, chicken bits (salvaged from a different dish), and sriracha:

Lasted me for two solid days, and for 2.19, I'll take it.

And finally, crustless pizza:

Looks pretty good, right? I THOUGHT SO.