Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Sculpture garden, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, USA, March 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Low tech

I’ve been lamenting my current lack of kitchen equipment a lot lately, so I won’t bore you with that again. It may surprise you if I say that I actually don’t have an overwhelming amount, because I know how much damage I could do in a kitchen store given half a chance, and so I keep myself on a tight rein. One of the rules I have for myself is to think very carefully about buying anything that only does one job. I made it waaaay back when I was registering for wedding gifts, and I remember exactly why: because I really, really wanted a waffle iron.

When I got married, I didn’t have much experience with cooking, beyond a few basics. I loved eating waffles, but I had never made one. (I’m not sure I had even made pancakes at that point.) I argued myself out of registering for a waffle iron on the grounds that it would be a frivolous waste of money and cabinet space for someone to buy me a tool that only did one thing, and that one something I knew nothing about.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pizza pizza

My pizza travails continue. I had no idea I was so picky about it, or (more to the point) that its construction was so location-specific.

You’ve heard of Chicago-style pizza? Perhaps eaten a pie at Pizzeria Uno, or the (in)famous Deep Pan Pizza chain in London?

I thought that kind of pizza was just a gimmick specific to a certain restaurant, or to a few restaurants in Chicago—an illusion perhaps influenced by a long-defunct Boston restaurant chain that purported to serve an “English pizza” (soft crust, topped with cheddar cheese) that I’ve never seen anywhere else. I didn’t realize Chicago-style (mainly the buttery biscuity crust, not necessarily the deep-dish part) is the way people prepare pizza in a significant portion of the United States. I didn’t understand, when I went to New Mexico to visit my brother-in-law seven years ago, why he insisted we eat at the New York-style pizzeria he had found. I thought he was just happy to have found a good local pizza place. I didn’t realize it was possibly the only New-York style pizzeria in greater Albuquerque

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cottage pie

Once upon a time I had a life-changing revelation while making cottage pie. It made me look at a long list of dishes from a different perspective, and led to the development of:

Roving Lemon’s Leftover Rule of Thumb: If the recipe calls for any major ingredient to be cooked two different ways in a short space of time, it was probably originally devised to use up leftovers.

The correlative effect to this discovery was that I stopped wanting to make anything from scratch that I could use leftovers to make more easily, whether it was fried rice or omelet fillings. It just seemed like too much work. I’ve gotten to the point where I won’t even make a tuna melt unless I’ve already got a batch of tuna salad sitting in the fridge.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Rock chalk

Did you know that President Obama filled out his NCAA March Madness bracket on national television?

Did you know he picked Kansas University (KU) to win the whole thing? And even more important, that he picked them to beat Kansas State (KSU or KState) in the Final Four?

If you’re not American, you might not have the faintest idea what I’m talking about. Even if you are, you might not have realized what a big deal this is. I certainly didn’t, until I moved to this part of the United States.

I’ve filled in NCAA brackets before. I even won the office pool once, years ago--because I got lucky and picked a few upsets by chance, not because I had any idea what I was doing. I’ve watched my share of March Madness games. But until I moved to Kansas, I didn’t fully understand what a big deal college basketball really is here.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Energy efficient

One of the most practical tips I’ve heard for frugal cooking is “fill your oven.” If you’re setting the oven to a particular temperature to cook one thing, slide in a couple of other things that will cook at the same heat. It doesn’t require any extra fuel, so it saves some money that way; plus it might get you ahead on another meal—also potentially a money- and time-saver.

This, like many other frugal practices, requires a bit of forethought and lateral thinking. I often remember it when I’m firing up the oven to bake a cake or a loaf of bread or something else that only uses one rack. Of course, by then it’s usually too late, and I don’t have the ingredients, the time, or a good reason to cook something else.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Homecoming day

Several months ago, I published Happy Fifth Birthday wishes to Miss B (complete with photo of her made-to-order, ineptly decorated Shark Cake).

Today isn’t a birthday. But in many ways it’s just as important—maybe even more important. Today marks the day, five years ago, that Miss B came home from the hospital.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Playtime Chez RL. Rubber lizards. Wearing Polly Pocket dresses. Having a tea party. Happy Wednesday.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

DIY dairy

I experimented with making yogurt once or twice, a few years ago, just for fun. But I never really got into the habit. Making yogurt didn’t seem that difficult, but I would have had to do it a lot, given my consumption rate; plus my favorite kind is Greek yogurt, which involves the extra step of straining the yogurt to make it nice and thick. At that time I was living in England, where I could easily get my Greek yogurt fix at even my crummy local Sainsbury’s. I went through a 500 g (1+ lb) pot a week without even trying.

Then I moved to Australia, where they sold the stuff in 1-kg (2+ lb) tubs that cost not much more than the ones half their size had in Oxford. I was in yogurt heaven, and used it in everything: pancakes and pan sauces, muffins and dips.

Then I moved here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

Bad taste


Last week, some new friends of ours invited Miss B and me to a “Taste of” event being hosted by a neighboring city. We enthusiastically accepted; it was early enough in the evening so that Miss B would enjoy it, and I figured it would be a good opportunity for me to meet some of the local food types and find out what was happening around here. Visions of tasty samples and blog posts danced in my head.

We made a plan, and arrived at the venue just after the doors opened on Saturday evening. There was already a small line of people waiting to get in, which whetted my anticipation even more. It looked to be a popular event, the perfect way for a newcomer like me to get some real knowledge about the local scene, food and otherwise.

As we stood in line, chatting about nothing much, the woman in front turned to us. At first I thought she knew our friends, but then she held her ticket out to us.

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