Friday, August 29, 2008

on jamaica, baby


“Gee, where have you been?” you ask.

Working, a lot. And honestly, not a lot of cooking has been taking place.

I did manage to roast a chicken a couple of times, using the recipe from this entry. Roast chicken is our ultimate comfort food. But that was only on the days when we could bear to run the oven. I’ve only run the oven about 3 times this whole summer. It’s just too damn hot to stand in front of the stove. There has not even been any grilling going on. I know. Lame.

I guess all bloggers go through a short period of reflection – or writers block, or in my case, lack of energy to actually throw together a few ingredients and call it dinner and then write about it.

So, sorry this is so short. Fall will be upon us soon, and with that a lot of wordy vomit will pour from my fingers. I tend to eat a lot more in the fall, what with the new season of vegetables and all that.

But also, I wont be writing in the next few days because I’m going to Jamaica tomorrow with my friend Patty. Oh, don’t look at me like that. Gustav will be gone by then. At least, it better be, because I’ve been looking forward to this trip like the comin’ of the Messiah.

I’ve never been to Jamaica before. Should be quite the adventure.

Pray that my flight doesn’t get delayed any more than it already has.

The French Tart

Friday, August 15, 2008

not remotely food related: I didn't get the Memo, so I'm writing one for you


From: The French Tart, Project Manager at New Big Corporate, and avid Nine Inch Nails Fan

To: Those of you who may not have received the previous Memo, and need immediate saving lest you should feel like an outcast

The scene: Nine Inch Nails live show at Gwinnett Arena, Duluth, Georgia, August 13, 2008.

Picture one rather conservative, normal-looking chick (wearing converse low tops makes me conservative, apparently), accompanied by a male friend, a self-described "free spirit" (hippie) whose favorite band is Led Zepplin. The rest of the crowd, not so conservative and normal looking. We stood out like sore thumbs. DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!

What you can do to change this: Dig in your closet and pull out all those clothes you wore way back in the 90s when you went clubbing. It doesn't matter if you don't fit into them anymore – hell, I saw more loose flesh last night than the last time I went to a strip club.

Possible outfits you could wear, as seen last night:

  • A micro-mini skirt, preferably plaid, school-girl type. Doesn't matter if your buttcheeks are hanging out. Pair this with knee-high studded Doc Marten type boots and either fishnets, ripped fishnets, or Cat in the Hat striped stockings which sag at the top and are held up by black garters. I would venture to guess about 90% of the females in the audience had this uniform on.

  • For the men: vinyl pants. These never go out of style. Especially when worn with a mesh see-through shirt.

  • For the men: previous NIN tour shirts, or Marilyn Manson tour shirts, or Tool tour shirts. Because these show everyone how original you are, and you just had to be That Guy.

  • For the gay men: girls skinny jeans, worn with ripped t-shirt and girls sparkly sandals. Ensure that your posture looks like your back is caving in (e.g. stick your tits out and throw back your shoulders in an exaggerated pose).

  • For all sexes: black sparkly pants seem to be a good basic uniform.

  • For all sexes: drab matte black hair, looking like you just crawled out of bed.

  • For all sexes: black clothing of any kind. Because black is so Goth, you see. And according to a girl I've known for years, Goth is not a Phase one goes through, it's a Lifestyle.

  • For all sexes: really quizzical non-sensical tattoos, of all shapes and sizes. Make sure you choose your outfit to showcase your tattoos, even if that means your gut is hanging out.

I appreciate your cooperation, and look forward to serving you in the future.


French Tart

(As you can tell, the people-watching was Spectacular, with a capital S. And the show was phenomenal).

Monday, August 11, 2008

eggplant smells like bacon?

the boy was sleeping yesterday while i was busy making caponata. he told me last night that while he was laying in bed, he was certain he could smell bacon cooking.

wishful thinking?

i've never associated the smell of eggplant frying with bacon. although i could use some bacon right now. damn him for putting the idea in my head!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

ah, caponata.

the company i work for has several mottos, one of them being having a good work/life balance. funny that they should always try to promote that, seeing as everyone i work with, including me, has had a hard time separating work and life lately.

today and yesterday mark the first days in the past month where the temperature has not soared over 90 degrees. it's just been too damn hot to cook, even to whip together a salad or anything. when i'm stressed out, my stomach refuses food; and that coupled with the heat have made this a doozy of a month so far.

being French, the idea of my stomach refusing food really annoys me to no end. especially when it comes to spicy food, which i love but my stomach will absolutely not tolerate when tense. so i get all grumpy and shovel down a lot of yogurt and milk and soft, neutral (read: bland) foods, waiting for this time to pass.

i've had a fridge full of produce from the farm, including a bunch of little eggplants that were about to be on their way to God. i realized this morning that i had to do something with them, so i thought of the obvious ratatouille, however i did not have most of the other ingredients on hand for such a recipe. i sat down on the floor of my dining room in front of the shelves which groan under the weight of so many cookbooks. i looked through about ten of them and just about gave up. all the recipes i found involved ingredients i did not have on hand, and i didn't want to have to buy 20 bucks worth of other ingredients just to not throw the eggplants away.

and then, my hand rested on The Art of Simple Food, and i thought, Duh. there has got to be something in here.

my love of caponata is great. there have been countless nights when the boy was working where i'd pick up a container of it from the deli and just eat it with a spoon or half a baguette (and then feel totally bloated afterwards, but that's another story). i love all the flavors in caponata, all those wonderful mediterranean happy sun-drenched flavors. and when i flipped through the pages and found the recipe, i sighed with relief because i had every single one of the ingredients on hand. i always keep a stockpile of salty stuff around, like capers and olives. they revive a dish like crazy.

i ended up having to run to the store anyway for things that were not caponata-related, so i did this while the eggplant was cubed, salted, and draining. oh, and a confession. i used store-bought sauce.

yeah yeah. shoot me (I roll my eyes as i type this). i know. i've got tomatoes galore covering the top of the microwave, and what do i do but resort to sauce in a jar. we have a couple of jars of store-bought sauce handy in the pantry because you just never know when you need them. i know, i know, i'm such a fucking advocate of making your own, especially since it's really not hard to make a quick tomato sauce (especially Ms. Waters'), but i've someplace to be in a half hour and didn't want to dirty up the kitchen too much. i'm probably going to regret that i admitted this, but OH WELL.

Caponata (adapated from The Art of Simple Food)

about 5 or 6 of those smaller variety of eggplant
2 ribs of celery
half a Vidalia onion, diced (you could use regular white onion, but Vidalia is in abundance down here in the South right now)
1 1/2 cups of a tomato sauce
a handful of pitted green olives
2 tablespoons of drained capers
1 to 2 teaspoons of anchovy paste or 2 anchovies, drained and smooshed up
couple of tablespoons of red wine vineggar
couple of teaspoons of sugar
olive oil, for sautéing

cut the eggplant into cubes, put in a colander and season liberally with salt. let drain and go do something else for a little while.

when drained, heat oil in a large heavy pot and sauté the eggplant in batches until golden. you don't want to throw all the eggplant in at once because they won't sauté, they'll just steam, and ew. you don't want that. remove eggplant, set aside and add a bit more oil and the celery to the pot.

sauté the celery for a bit (she says until golden, but mine didnt get golden, just soft). remove and add to the eggplant.

add a bit more oil and sauté the onion until soft, about 5 to 10 minutes.

add the tomato sauce. if you're using a store-bought sauce, i wouldn't cook it for very long, maybe a minute or two, before adding the remaining ingredients. stir and cook for another 10 minutes. taste for seasoning. serve at room temperature with pita, or as i prefer to do it, slathered on a piece of baguette that has been split lengthwise. or better yet, shovel into your trap with a soup spoon.

being more Americanized than my mom would probably care for, i don't always use just olive oil for sautéing. olive oil has a low smoke point. if you're going to cook something on high heat, olive oil is not your friend. i normally use peanut oil, which we've got a squeeze bottle of ready and waiting near the stove; but today i decided to be a purist (and felt the need to redeem myself since i used store-bought sauce), so i only used olive oil. just make sure you don't cook things on too high of a heat.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Not remotely people-food related (but Very Much animal related)

Warning: Divert your eyes if you don’t want to be grossed out. I do not want to get your hate mail. Okay, maybe I do. I could use a good laugh today.

So Mr and Mrs B ran off to Charlotte last weekend to see some hippie band play, and we were tasked with feeding their two dogs and two cats while they were gone. We’ve done this before; t’aint no big thing. It’s the neighborly thing to do.

Saturday we were going to run down to visit Brad at the oyster place, so on the way out we stopped by the B’s to feed the animals. While there, I noticed some cat vomit on the table, so I cleaned that up. And while cleaning that up, I thought to myself, “Self: normally when there is animal puke in the house, there is bound to be animal puke outside of the house”. With that in mind, I walked towards the back door, and through the doggie door I could see that one of the dogs had dragged out some of the produce which was sitting out on the kitchen counter. I sighed, opened the back door, and saw something out of the corner of my eye that looked like it was right out of a Rob Zombie movie.

A gory bottom half of a bunny.

I closed my eyes and wished it to be a big fat fuzzy rat, but when I opened my eyes again I saw the cute little fuzzy tail and knew it wasn’t so.

The first thing I thought was, Where did the top half go? then i winced and shuddered.

I stepped backwards back into the house and said, “UM. BOY! UM... GO SEE WHAT THE DOGS DID”. And he saw the look on my face and said, “Um... NO! no fucking way!”

Way back in my yout’, I dated and lived with a herpetologist. At one point, we had about 100 snakes in the house (they’re not all crawling around everywhere, they’re caged; so get that idea out of your mind). I’ve seen a lot of carnage in my time from having to feed said snakes; mostly baby mice, rats, and the occasional rabbit for one of the biggie pythons. It has been a long, long time since I’ve seen anything like that, and I’ve kind of purposely blocked a lot of that shit out. I don’t think about that period of my life, nor do I care to.

So we left the house because I suddenly felt like I was going to vomit, and i needed some stink-free air. And then we went to visit Brad. And then we felt guilty for having left the carnage lying about. So a little while later, fortified by many an oyster shooter and several glasses of Gewürztraminer, I put on some food-grade surgical gloves (which the boy keeps handy for handling raw meat), grabbed a couple of garbage bags, and the boy and I skipped arm in arm down the street singing, “Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit!” to the tune of “The Ride Of The Valkyries”.

During the time that we were gone, one of the animals (if not all) had taken that bottom half of rabbit and went to town with it. We were left with rabbit parts all over the back porch, coupled with enormous trails of diarrhea. Wanna see?

this picture really doesn't do it justice.

And in case you are wondering, all of the animals are just fine.