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Category Archives: Food

I love you so much it hurts

100_0911

Buttery cinnamon toast. Warm, crusty baguette. Steaming plate of spaghetti. Gooey chocolate cake.
Heaven on the tongue, hell on the rest of the body.
Wheat, our relationship is unhealthy; I bid you farewell.

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I’m posting too late to actually take part in the challenge, but I liked the Trifextra prompt this weekend: This week we are taking you, once again, back to school for a lesson in literary devices.  Remember the apostrophe? About.com defines apostrophe as, “A figure of speech in which some absent or nonexistent person or thing is addressed as if present and capable of understanding.”  That same site provides some excellent examples of apostrophes in classical literature. Check them out and then have a crack at it yourself. Give us your best 33-word example of an apostrophe.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2013 in Challenges, Food, Sunday Best

 

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Mushrooms on toast @ Huffkins in Burford

You’ve being exiled to a private island, and your captors will only supply you with five foods. What do you pick?

My favorite prompt this week comes from The Daily Post. I loved it because I’ve been on a 1200-calorie-per-day diet since January and have become totally obsessed with daydreams about food. I thought it’d be easy to pick five foods that I’d want from my captors, but as usual, I’ve overthought the whole thing, and now am not sure what foods to request. Am I locked up, or free to move about the island? Are the captors providing me with five ready-to-eat foods (i.e. prepared dishes) that I just dig right into? Or are they providing me with five raw materials to cook any way I choose? If I’m my own chef, am I exiled to an island with a fully equipped kitchen, or am I cooking in a salvaged tin can over a campfire that refuses to stay lit when it rains?

If I’m free to wander but only get five ingredients that I can then cook for myself, I want:
1. Chicken
2. Potatoes
3. Apples
4. Bread
5. Butter

I’m confident I could manage all of these ingredients in a full kitchen or over a fire, and that I could keep my taste buds engaged by foraging for other fruits and maybe some herbs on the island. I’m also not a bad fisherwoman, so I could add variety to my protein intake that way. (How am I gonna catch fish, you ask? Trust me, MacGyver’s got nothing on me. I’ll scavenge the beach for washed-up bits of net, pull the hem out of my pants and tie on a repurposed bobby pin for a hook, sharpen a tree branch to use as a spear… I’m nothing if not resourceful, and doubly so if I’m hungry.)

If my captors are offering me only five ready-to-eat foods in a jail cell, then I’m ordering:
1. Mushrooms on toast
2. Pizza with pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes
3. Oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins
4. Chef salad with ranch dressing, hold the hard-boiled eggs
5. Rib-eye steak, medium, smothered in sautéed mushrooms and onions

I think there’s enough variety here to maintain a healthy diet and rotate some different options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (assuming, of course, my captors believe in three square meals a day).

I notice that chocolate is not on either of my lists, and wonder about that omission. I can go for long stretches without eating chocolate, unless I know it is not available, and then I crave it to the point of madness. For the sake of my sanity and for the safety of my captors, I wonder if I should replace one item from each list with a Hershey bar? So many doubts and questions for such a simple prompt…

 

Beef

Moo

Question 73
Would you be willing to go to a slaughterhouse and kill a cow? Do you eat meat?

No, and yes. There. Am I done? Can I go now?

Dr. Gregory Stock makes sure there’s no moral dilemma left untouched in The Book of Questions. I don’t like this question, because I’m not sure what it says about my character.

I knowingly and willingly kill flies, spiders (unless they are Daddy Longlegs), and mosquitoes. I have, on two different occasions, passively murdered mice. The one that died by poisoning took her last breath in the middle of my living room floor (my dad swore to me it would eat the D-Con then run outside and die while it was searching for water and I’d never see it), and I cried for an hour thinking of the babies I had orphaned. The second one got caught in a trap at work, but the trap had not humanely broken the mouse’s neck, and I had to club it to end its suffering. Cried about two hours, plus had nightmares, after that one. I used to fish with my grandfather, and finally stopped trying to revive the bass and bream by mouth-to-mouth once I realized I was going to have to fillet them whether they were still flopping about or not.

But even though I am technically a serial killer, there is no way on this earth I could kill a cow. Or a pig. Or a chicken. I don’t have any good reasons for being selectively homicidal. I don’t believe animals and insects that are small or don’t meet the classic ideal of cuteness have any less right to life than other creatures. If I had endless hours in the day, I would probably catch the flies that bang themselves senseless against the third floor windows and the spiders that drop from my ceilings like Marines rappelling from a Blackhawk, then turn them all loose outside (like I do with moths and ladybugs). I have switched to live traps on the rare occasions when I can hear a mouse scrabbling about in the walls. And my husband’s refusal to eat fish has converted me to a catch and release angler. Slowly but surely I am reforming my murderous ways, although the flies and mosquitoes will probably never be able to stop looking over their shoulders.

I have always said that if I had grown up on a farm, I would be a vegetarian. Not only would I not be able to slaughter an animal myself, I wouldn’t be able to stand knowing someone I loved was doing it either. But I didn’t grow up on a farm, and I eat meat. It doesn’t bother me in the least to let some faceless butcher in a distant city do the dirty work so I can throw a steak on the grill. Buying beef from a refrigerated case is cold (no pun intended) and impersonal. All I’m looking for is the package with the leanest cuts and the smallest bones. My brain does not wander to what this creature looked like on the hoof, with its velvety nose and long-lashed brown eyes. I don’t allow myself to think what its life might have been like, good or bad, neither lush green pastures nor dirty, crowded feedlots. My head is firmly in the sand…I see a plastic-wrapped styrofoam tray of meat, nothing more, nothing less.

I feel very conflicted about this attitude…if I am not willing to kill a cow myself for food, why am I not morally opposed to someone else killing it for me? Killing is killing. I feel that somehow I am a hypocrite, although I realize I am in the company of millions of like-minded carnivores. I guess the easiest thing to do is just carry on not thinking about where the meat I’m buying has come from and not worrying about the ethics of the whole situation. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go throw a beef stir fry in the pan, because all of this deep thought is making me hungry.

 

Abundance

100_1122I am my mama’s daughter in that neither of us knows how to make just a little bit of soup. The problem is we don’t really follow recipes when we make soup, so it’s a matter of adding some of this to a little bit of that, and oh, look, that would be nice in there, then adjusting the amount of liquid till it all looks right.

Growing up, my brother and I were in charge of doing dishes, and soup making days meant we’d better roll up our sleeves and settle in, because we were gonna be there awhile. Whenever Mom made soup, there were always two, sometimes three, huge pots to be washed, in addition to whatever utensils, cutting boards, and measuring cups she’d used in the process. She would start out with her ingredients in a large Dutch oven, but before she’d gotten all the vegetables added to the stock, she’d realize she needed more room and dig out her humongous soup pot—the one that hung off the edges of the electric coil of the stovetop and was so tall you’d scrape your knuckles on the bottom of the microwave trying to lift the lid. Occasionally even that would runneth over, and she’d have to transfer a few servings to her biggest saucepan (or on a really generous day, back to the Dutch oven) in order to have room to stir.

I try to save myself a few steps (and a lot of pot-washing) and start in my biggest pot, but by doing so, leave myself few options when the volume of soup exceeds the capacity of the vat. I usually end up with a concoction that is too heavy on the “good stuff” and way too light on liquid. I once served a bowl of chicken soup to a guest and by the time she crumbled half a dozen saltines over the top, every bit of the broth had been absorbed; she wouldn’t have missed a drop if I’d given her a fork rather than a spoon.

This heavy-handedness does have its benefits. For a couple hours’ work in the afternoon, Jim and I have tonight’s dinner, lunch a couple times during the week, three dinner-for-two-plus-the-next-day’s-lunch size buckets to put in the freezer, AND a two-quart container to share with a friend. All that’s left is to fire up the griddle to make some grilled cheese sandwiches…

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2013 in Cooking, Food, On Me, True Life