157. Marcella Hazan

My mom lived in Florence, Italy for about a year. We always tease her that she exaggerates it to three years, or ten years, or twenty. But it was obviously a meaningful experience in her life, so we cut her some slack.

The best thing that she got out of Italy, other than some hilarious stories about her Italian boyfriend, Paolo, was that she learned how to cook a lot of great, authentic northern Italian recipes. Pasta with homemade tomato sauce was always a staple in our home. As I got older, I fell in love with Pasta e Fagioli, a northern Italian bean soup. Italian cooking taught me about the importance of a mirepoix to any recipe. Celery, carrots, and onions pretty much make anything taste good.

Marcella Hazan's brilliant cookbook.

Marcella Hazan’s brilliant cookbook.

Marcella Hazan is the queen of northern Italian cooking. Her cookbook, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, is a brilliant guide to authentic and delicious Italian food. While her recipes are reliably good, what really makes this book stand out is the way she describes each step of how to make each dish. It is so clear and articulate, and it really sounds like Marcella is in the kitchen with you, talking you through each step of the way.

My two favorite recipes of hers are her Bolognese sauce and her Pasta e Fagioli. They are both super involved, but come out unbelievably delicious. I’ve added a couple of tips/modifications that I use to the recipes denoted by three asterisks (***).

First, Bolognese:

For 4-6 servings

– 1 tablespoon vegetable oil ***I use olive oil.

– 4 tablespoons butter, divided

– ½ cup chopped onion

– 2/3 cup chopped celery

– 2/3 cup chopped carrot

– ¾ pound ground beef chuck ***I usually use 1/3 beef, 1/3 pork, and 1/3 veal. The beef is incredibly flavorful, but the veal adds a delicacy and the pork much needed fat. I don’t remember where I learned that, but I know it’s a classic Italian trick.

– Salt

– Fresh ground black pepper

– 1 cup whole milk

– Whole nutmeg

– 1 cup dry white wine

– 1-½ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, torn into pieces, with juice

– 1-¼ to 1-½ pounds pasta (preferably spaghetti), cooked and drained

– Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at the table

1. Put oil, 3 tablespoons butter and chopped onion in a heavy 3-½-quart pot and turn heat to medium. Cook and stir onion until it has become translucent, then add chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat well.

2. Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Crumble meat with a fork, stir well and cook until beef has lost its raw, red color.

3. Add milk and let simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add a tiny grating, about 1/8 teaspoon, fresh nutmeg and stir.

4. Add wine and let it simmer until it has evaporated. Add tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients well. When tomatoes begin to bubble, turn heat down so that sauce cooks at the laziest of simmers, with just an intermittent bubble breaking through the surface.

5. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours or more, stirring from time to time. While sauce is cooking, you are likely to find that it will begin to dry out and the fat will separate from the meat. To keep it from sticking, add ½ cup water as necessary. At the end of cooking, however, the water should be completely evaporated and the fat should separate from the sauce. Taste and correct for salt.

6. Add remaining tablespoon butter to the hot pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan on the side.

And now, Pasta e Fagioli:

The classic bean variety for pasta e fagioli is the cranberry or Scotch bean,
brightly marbled in white and pink or even deep red hues. When cooked, its
flavor is unlike that of any other bean, subtly recalling that of chestnuts.
In the spring and summer it is available fresh in its pod and many specialty
or ethnic vegetable markets carry it. When very fresh, the pods are firm and
brilliantly colored, but even if they are wilted and discolored, the beans inside
are likely to be perfectly sound. You can open one or two pods just to be sure.
Cranberry beans can be frozen with great success and are better than the dried
kind. If your market carries fresh cranberry beans in season, you could buy a
substantial quantity, and freeze the shelled beans in tightly sealed plastic
freezer bags. They can be cooked exactly like the fresh. When fresh cranberry
beans are not available, the dried are a wholly satisfactory substitute and, if
necessary, one may even use the canned. If you can’t find cranberry beans
in any form, you can substitute dried kidney beans. ***I’ve also used dried navy beans or dried great northern beans. Also delish.

For 6 servings

– 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

– 2 tablespoons chopped onion

– 3 tablespoons chopped carrot

– 3 tablespoons chopped celery

– 3 or 4 pork ribs, OR a ham bone with some lean meat attached, OR 2 little pork chops *** I use cut up bacon. Easier to come across and totally works.

– 2/3 cup canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice, OR
fresh tomatoes, if ripe and firm, peeled and cut up.

– 2 pounds fresh cranberry beans, unshelled weight, OR 1 cup dried cranberry or red kidney beans, soaked and cooked as described below * OR 3 cups canned cranberry or red kidney beans, drained

– 3 cups (or more if needed) beef stock OR 1 cup canned beef broth diluted
with 2 cups water ***I usually use only water instead, and more of it, and cook the soup for a bit longer. I modify Marcella’s recipe with Giuliano Bugialli’s.

– Salt

– Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill

– Either maltagliati pasta, homemade OR 1/2 pound small, tubular macaroni

– 1 tablespoon butter

– 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

* Put the beans in a bowl and add enough water to cover by at least 3 inches.
Put the bowl in some out-of-the-way corner of your kitchen and leave it
there overnight. ***I often use this quick soaking method.

When the beans have finished soaking, drain them, rinse them in fresh cold
water, and put them in a pot that will accommodate the beans and enough
water to cover them by at least 3 inches. Put a lid on the pot and turn on
the heat to medium. When the water comes to a boil, adjust the heat so
that it simmers steadily, but gently. Cook the beans until tender, but not
mushy, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Add salt only when the beans are al-
most completely tender so that their skin does not dry and crack while
cooking. Taste them periodically so you’ll know when they are done.
Keep the beans in the liquid that you cooked them in until you are ready
to use them. If necessary, they can be prepared a day or two ahead of
time and stored, always in their liquid.

1. Put the olive oil and chopped onion in a soup pot and turn on the
heat to medium. Cook the onion, stirring it, until it becomes colored
a pale gold.

2. Add the carrot and celery, stir once or twice to coat them well, then
add the pork. Cook for about 10 minutes, turned the meat and the
vegetables over from time to time with a wooden spoon.

3. Add the cut-up tomatoes and their juice, adjust the heat so that the
juice simmer very gently, and cook for 10 minutes.

4. If using fresh beans: Shell them, rinse them in cold water, and put
them in the soup pot. Stir 2 or 3 times to coat them well, then add
the broth/stock. Cover the pot, adjust the heat so that the broth
bubbles at a steady, but gentle boil, and cook for 45 minutes to
1 hour, until the beans are fully tender.

If using cooked dried beans or canned: Extend the cooking time
for the tomatoes in Step 3 to 20 minutes. Add the drained cooked or
canned beans, stirring them thoroughly to coat them well. Cook for 5
minutes, then add the broth/stock, cover the pot, and bring the broth/
stock to a gentle boil.

5. Scoop up about 1/2 cup of the beans and mash them through a food
mill back into the pot. Add salt, a few grindings of black pepper, and
stir thoroughly.

6. Check the soup for density: It should be liquid enough to cook the
pasta in. If necessary, add more broth, or, if you are using diluted
canned broth, more water. When the soup has come to a steady,
moderate boil, add the pasta. If you are using homemade pasta,
taste for doneness after 1 minute. If you are using macaroni pasta,
it will take several minutes longer, but stop the cooking when the
pasta is tender, but still firm to the bite. Before turning off the heat,
swirl in 1 tablespoon of butter and the grated cheese.

7. Pour the soup into a large serving bowl or into individual plates, and
allow to settle for 10 minutes before serving. It tastes best when
eaten warm, rather than piping hot.

Both the Bolognese and the soup taste best when left in the fridge overnight before eating – it allows all the flavors to settle and they are definitely tastier.

Give Marcella a try! She is a queen. Everything I have ever made of hers, from a simple pesto to any more involved dish, has been absolutely delicious.

June 12, 2013. Books, Food, Rectangles. Leave a comment.

155. Toast

Toast seems, at first glance, like something too ubiquitous to even post about. However, the humble, rectangular toast is such an important part of our culture that I just could not ignore it.

Num num toast!

Num num toast!

Toast is made by exposing a slice of bread to heat. Toast is an essential breakfast food, often served at restaurants with a breakfast order without even asking for it. Many people enjoy toast with butter, and some even put jam or jelly on top. In England, orange marmalade is a popular toast-topper. The French like Nutella on their toast. Additionally, dry toast is a lovely option when you are sick to your stomach (read: vomiting).

Buttah.

Buttah.

But let’s look deeper at this rectangular breakfast treat. What is the chemical process that turns bread into toast? Wikipedia tells us that toast becomes toast due to a Maillard Reaction. A Maillard Reaction is “a type of non-enzymatic browning…[resulting] from a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, usually requiring heat.” It was named after a chemist named Louis-Camille Maillard. Ok. Clear enough. Now for the nonsense:

“The reactive carbonyl group of the sugar reacts with the nucleophilic amino group of the amino acid, and forms a complex mixture of poorly characterized molecules responsible for a range of odors and flavors. This process is accelerated in an alkaline environment (e.g., lye applied to darken pretzels), as the amino groups are deprotonated and, hence, have an increased nucleophilicity. The type of the amino acid determines the resulting flavor. This reaction is the basis of the flavoring industry. At high temperatures, acrylamide can be formed.

If you understand that, God bless you. I certainly don’t. But I figure I must have some science freaks among my readership, and babies, that was for you.

Since I found out I could no longer eat gluten, I’ve really missed toast with butter. Gluten-free bread is pretty universally nasty. But I’ve recently found that when toasted, or made into grilled cheese, it’s palatable. I bought a beautiful red toaster off Amazon for 14.99, and I’ve become a toasting queen. I ate toast with butter for breakfast this morning, in fact! And it was delish.

Part of the charm of toast is that it has other diverse uses than a breakfast staple. Some sandwiches are traditionally made on toast. I have fond memories of eating tuna on toast at the pool with my parents. Just writing about it makes me want one rull bad. BLT sandwiches (Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato, for those who have lived their sad, sad lives without ever experiencing one) are also traditionally made on toast slathered with mayonnaise.

Delicious diner treat.

Delicious diner treat.

I would be remiss not to address some more unconventional rectangular toasts in this post. First, let’s cover French toast. French toast consists of a slice of bread soaked in egg and pan-fried in butter. It is often eaten with maple syrup. In French, they call it “pain perdu,” meaning “lost bread,” because they used the stale bread that they otherwise would throw away and made it into something edible. Because of the inclusion of the egg-soak, French toast actually has a bit of nutritional value.

God, this looks good.

God, this looks good.

Another rectangular toast variation is Melba Toast. Melba Toast used to be one of my favorite snacks. It is super, super dry, and very thin and crunchy. There’s a special flavor to it that is probably also a result of some sort of Maillard Reaction, and I’ve always really liked it. Wikipedia tells us that Melba Toast “is named after Dame Nellie Melba, the stage name of Australian opera singer Helen Porter Mitchell. Its name is thought to date from 1897, when the singer was very ill and it became a staple of her diet. The toast was created for her by chef and fan Auguste Escoffier.”

So dry. So crunchy. So bland.

So dry. So crunchy. So bland.

All in all, the humble, rectangular piece of toast is a staple that has survived through the centuries. It is crunchy and delicious, especially when bathed in butter. Thank you, toast, for sustaining us until lunchtime. Thank you for improving our BLTs. And thank you for settling our tummies when we drank too much the night before.

April 3, 2013. Food, History, Rectangles, Science. Leave a comment.

153. Graham Crackers

Graham crackers, classic rectangular snack, have a fascinating history. We’re going to turn to our good friend Wikipedia to learn about it.

Stack o' grahams.

Stack o’ grahams.

The graham cracker was invented in 1829 by a Presbyterian minister named, predictably, Sylvester Graham. Originally, they were made with graham flour – a course and bland flour. Graham invented these crackers as part of his “Graham Diet,” intended to curb “unhealthy carnal urges, the source of many maladies.” I assume he made them rectangular because the rectangle is the most sensible of the shapes. He was fairly obsessed with masturbation, and convinced that a bland diet could suppress the sexual appetite. Praise Jesus.

Popular modern grahams.

Popular modern grahams.

Fortunately for our sex lives, graham crackers are now made mostly from white flour, Graham’s great enemy, and sweetened with refined sugar, another great evil. They are often fed to children in daycare or preschool, although why that is, I’m not sure. Probably because they are bland, enjoyed by everyone, and easy on the stomach. Also, they dissolve in your mouth, so no choking hazard (by the way, that dissolving factor was always my favorite part of the Graham cracker experience. I liked to hold the cracker between my tongue and the roof of my mouth until it dissolved. Yum!).

Polly's delish grahams.

Polly’s delish grahams.

The best graham crackers I’ve ever had are sold at Modern Times Coffeehouse, underneath Politics and Prose bookstore in DC. They are made by Pollystyle, a local bakery owned by a lovely woman named Polly. They’re perfectly slightly crunchy, only slightly sweet, and unbelievably delicious. I miss them dearly. They used to taste great with a cup of coffee (something else I’ve given up – it makes my nose and gums itchy). So, so yum.

Plain/original grahams - the best to use for a graham cracker crust.

Plain/original grahams – the best to use for a graham cracker crust.

One great use of the graham cracker is a graham cracker crust. Although a pie is (rarely) rectangular, it is still a delicious, if inferior, treat. The graham cracker crust is a classic crust on a cheesecake. I love it for chocolate pudding pie. And I’ve recently found it to be a delicious crust for a key lime pie. It’s usually made by mixing butter (and maybe some salt) with craham cracker crumbs, which is then pressed into a pan, and baked for a bit. Very yum.

A s'more.

A s’more.

Perhaps the most culturally significant use of the graham cracker is in the classic campfire treat called the S’more. The rectangular S’more is made of a toasted marshmallow (I’ve always preferred mine charred) and a bit of (rectangular) chocolate bar squished between two graham cracker squares. It’s not particularly gourmet, but anyone who’s had one would acknowledge that the S’more is extremely sweet but pretty delicious.

Thank you, Reverend Graham, for developing this delicious rectangular treat. Sorry it hasn’t curbed my libido.

March 1, 2013. Culture, Food, History, Rectangles. 1 comment.

152. Saltines (But Not Oyster Crackers)

Ah, saltines. Food of the Gods, when the Gods have the flu. Or feel like eating some soup. Bland? Sure. But salty? Absolutely. So salty. The pretzel ain’t got shit on our friend the saltine when it comes to the salt factor.

The lowly saltine

The lowly saltine

Now, I wasn’t allowed to have junk food growing up. Remember Combos? Those were a no-go. Bugles? No way, Jose. And don’t even start with me on Doritos. So, I ate a lot of saltines.

And thank God for that.

My parents must have foreseen my personal values and standards from an early age. After all, what do those junky snacks all have in common?

They’re not rectangles.

That’s right, folks. Not. Rectangles. So, fuck them, they have no place in this blog.

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s get back to the rectangular topic on hand – the saltine.

America's leading saltine brand. What an achievement!

America’s leading saltine brand. What an achievement!

According to our helpful pal Wikipedia, a saltine is “a thin, usually square cracker made from white flour, shortening, yeast, and baking soda…lightly sprinkled with coarse salt.”

The saltine was the first cracker to be leavened with baking soda. It was invented in 1876 by F.L. Sommer and Company, a company based out of Missouri. At first it was called the “Premium Soda Cracker,” due to that baking soda, and later became called “Saltines,” due to its use of baking salt. The saltine caught on brilliantly in America, and Sommer’s business eventually merged with other companies to become part of Nabisco in 1898. Now you can find Saltines in America under the brand “Premium,” by Nabisco.

Keep educating us, Wikipedia.

After the term “saltine” began to be used to refer to all crackers of this sort, Nabisco lost its trademark. In 1907, the word “saltine” was in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, defined as, ‘”a thin crisp cracker usually sprinkled with salt.”‘

And there we go. A brief history of the saltine.

So how has the saltine permeated pop culture?

Well, most restaurants serve a plastic-wrapped packet of two saltines with soup. The idea is that you crumble or dip the saltine into the soup, making it perfectly water-logged and delicious. I have fond memories of this treat from my glutenous days.

Twofer

Twofer

[I must include a warning here. The saltine has a hexagonal cousin, the oyster cracker. These babies are also often made by Premium, the same company that makes most saltines in the US, and are often served with soups. Do not be fooled. Oyster crackers, while similar, are a far inferior, unquadrilateral product. In other words, they need to back the fuck off the territory of the saltines – the soups of America deserve the best.]

Oyster crackers' mug shot.

Oyster crackers’ mug shot.

Saltines are also often recommended to people with stomach viruses. They are extremely bland, and are very easy on the digestive system. Also, delicious, but usually only on the way down.

Additionally, there exists something called The Saltine Challenge. The goal sounds simple – eat 6 saltines in 60 seconds without drinking anything. Just six crackers? In 60 seconds? What pussy can’t do that? BUT WAIT. Saltines have a secret power, and that power is efficiently soaking up the saliva in the mouth. So, after chewing the saltines, the resultant crumbs are impossible to swallow, and many people fail. Oh, saltines, you sneaky bastards.

In conclusion, saltines are an important and valuable part of American culture. They have a proud history of feeding the sickly and soaking up the soups of our great nation. Thank you, saltines. It’s been so, so real.

February 28, 2013. Culture, Food, History, Rectangles. Leave a comment.

144. Jacques Torres Chocolates

My parents’ apartment in New York is at 74th and Amsterdam. Less than a block away is perhaps the best chocolate store I’ve ever been to – Jacques Torres. Jacques Torres has become a huge, popular fad in New York. Everyone is kind of obsessed. And my family is no exception.

The cutie himself.

The cutie himself.

Their chocolates are their most popular product. And for good reason – they’re really good. I’m sure they’re all delicious, but I’m a dark chocolate girl, so I just stick to trying those varieties. Sometimes my Gramma Joan, who also lives a block away from Jacques, gives my parents assortments of these delicious chocolates. I obsessively eat them all, so I’ve tried a lot.

I prefer the all-dark assortment, though.

I prefer the all-dark assortment, though.

You can buy boxes of mixed chocolates for exorbitant prices, but they’re so rich, that I like to go into the store and just order one or two a la carte. I think they’re about $1.25 apiece. My personal favorite is the basic Dark Chocolate Ganache, which is just pure dark chocolate goodness. It’s creamy and perfectly bitter. However, other close seconds include Earl Gray and Red Wine. Seriously yum.

Eh. Just ok.

Eh. Just ok.

I also tried their caramels last year. I have been a deep lover of salted caramels since I spent the summer in Brittany, France after my junior year of high school. However, in the caramel area, Jacques disappointed. I like the purity of butter, sugar and salt in a real salted caramel. Jacques added some cinnamon, which just took away from the delicious creamy flavor and made things too blunt (For the record, Starbucks, before it took over the world, used to make a delicious caramel. My dad used to take my brother and I to share a caramel three ways [yes, we had to split our caramel three ways] every Sunday morning. So yum. They don’t exist anymore).

My parents' fave.

My parents’ fave.

My parents are also big fans of their other varieties of chocolate covered goodness – especially the dark chocolate popcorn. I’m a purist, though. I just want my Dark Chocolate Ganache and a glass of cheap bubbly, and I’m happy.

I'm kind of obsessed with this stuff.

I’m kind of obsessed with this stuff.

December 10, 2012. Culture, Food, Rectangles. Leave a comment.

137. A Brisket

Nothing is more comforting than a good plate of Jew food. I make an amazing chicken soup, and keep mason jars of it in my freezer at all time. Four dollars worth of chicken backs and some carrots, onions, and celery make for several quarts of what my mother has always called “the Elixir of Life.”

A brisket is a cheap, big cut of meat. It’s not great unless it’s been cooked for a long time – kind of chewy and tough. But, slow-cooked in liquid for a few hours, it becomes really tender and yum.

A nice rectangular slab of meat.

Recently, I got my aunt’s very traditional brisket recipe. I’ve always loved her brisket, and, upon receiving a Le Creuset from my parents for my birthday this year, I finally asked for the recipe. It is super easy and super delicious. The meat, slow-cooked in the oven for four or five hours, comes out incredibly flavorful and melt-in-your-mouth tender. I’m a sucker for slow-cooked meats – I love a good Coq au Vin or stew. Yum yums.

This is the Le Creuset braising pan I have. Amazing.

Here is Aunt Devorah’s recipe as she gave it to me:

Brisket Recipe

I lb of Brisket for about every two people. It really shrinks after cooking.

Lots of onions, chopped

Mushrooms

Spicy deli mustard

2 cans of tomato juice

Place brisket in baking pan and smother with mustard. Cover with onions and
mushrooms and then pour the tomato juice over everything to fill the baking dish and
cover the brisket as much as possible.

Bake at 350 for at least two hours and then slice thinly and return to baking dish. Bake at
least two more hours. I let it bake all day (even five hours) and replenish the tomato juice
if it doesn’t cover the meat.

The onions and mushrooms are to taste. I use a pound of mushrooms and enough onions
to cover the meat and fall into the tomato juice. It’s whatever you like.

This is best reheated for an hour or two the next day and served.

Not my picture - http://nancyvienneau.com/blog/recipes/doufeu-part-deux-brisket-of-beef/

Pretty much what this looks like when it’s done. NUMZ.

I doctor the recipe a little bit, using Dijon mustard and adding three chopped carrots to the pot. Otherwise, I stay completely faithful to the recipe. It is unbelievably easy and a classic old-world Jewish recipe. And really any cook can do it, provided you can find a nice cut of brisket (Washington folks – I go to Snider’s supermarket in Silver Spring. Their meats and produce are super cheap and super fresh).

Good luck, friends. Happy slow-cooked meating.

November 14, 2012. Food, Guest Writers, Rectangles. 1 comment.

135. Food On My Dog

This blog, Food On My Dog, is precisely what it sounds like – pictures of food on some dude’s dog. It combines two of my favorite things, though, those things being food and dogs. This pooch, Tiger, has a sweet, sweet face and incredible self-discipline. Buckley would never, for example, tolerate slices of turkey on his face without eating them. Literally never, ever.

What a good girl!

There are 2 FAQ’s on this site. They are incredibly appropriate to the target audience of Food On My Dog. The first is, “Does she get to eat the food on her head?” Duh, anyone interested in seeing food on a dog’s head is concerned that the pup gets to eat it after being so well-behaved! The other question is, “What type of dog is she?” (Staffordshire Terrier and American Bulldog, or, more generically, a Pit Bull). Finally, the FAQ section culminates in this reassurance: “Yes, I will give Tiger love, attention, kisses, and belly rubs from all her fans.” Lucky pup. That’s a lot of love, attention, kisses, and belly rubs.

Now for my personal favorites:

I love her eyes in this one.

It’s just so big and unwieldy!

So excited to eat dem pancakes, she can’t keep dat tongue in her mouth!

You can also get a “Food On My Dog” t-shirt. This is my personal favorite design.

Artsy. This would make a nice tattoo.

Anyway, here are some kisses from me, Tiger. You could teach Buckley some lessons in patience. Good girl, boo.

November 12, 2012. Animals, Art, Culture, Food, Rectangles, Websites. 3 comments.

121. $5.25 Farmer’s Market Bacon

My day had a very disappointing start.

Yesterday, I went to my friendly Petworth farmers’ market. I bought some pickling cucumbers, because I’m trying to perfect the New York Deli full-sour pickle. I bought some really delish apples and pears. I bought farm-fresh, allegedly cruelty-free eggs (I know, I’m a sucker), and I bought some fancy bacon. Yes, it cost $5.25, but, I figured those pigs were happy before they died, and it would probably be super delicious.

This morning, before I left the house, I thought I’d make myself a gorgeous cholesterol-heavy breakfast. My dear readers may not know that I have, in the past year, discovered a gluten allergy, so I can’t eat toast with my morning meal. Instead, I just make more protein. I scrambled up three eggs and started to fry up some of this fancy-ass bacon.

What I was imagining, minus the garnish. Although that does make it look very nice.

My first concern sprung up when it started to turn grey, instead of brown. However, since I bought the bacon frozen, I thought it might just be a casual, unimportant side effect of the freezing process. Dude, I don’t know science, or any of that shit. It seemed like a possibility. And the meat didn’t smell rotten, or anything.

So, I let the bacon keep cooking. By the time it was done, it seemed pretty normal looking.

And then I bit into the first piece.

It tasted like clay. Seriously. Like, you know how in Ceramics, you’d accidentally get some clay in your mouth? Maybe that didn’t happen to everyone. It definitely happened to me. More than once. Anyway, it legitimately tasted like that. Dry. Crumbly. Grey.

It was gross, in other words. And I was angry. Because, like most normal people, I love me some bacon. And, when I spend almost 6 bucks on my bacon, I expect to have an overwhelmingly positive bacon experience. It was not so, this time.

I’m going to call out the vendors of this meat, J&L Green Farm, because I think people should be accountable for their pork. I’ll let my readers know what comes of it.

September 8, 2012. Food, Rectangles, Truth. Leave a comment.

120. My Kitchen is Perfect.

This website’s tagline is “We find the coolest stuff,” and it’s true. This site has some seriously sweet kitchen must-haves. And by must-haves, I mean, “It’s so awesome and useless. I must have it.”

Let’s start with something rectangular of the Asian persuasion.

Here is a rice cube, along with some of the results of its cubing action.

Image

Pretty fucking sweet, right? Every time I go out for sushi, I wish it were more rectangular. Well, cubular, if I’m being specific. Finally, here’s a way to achieve that goal. Praise the Lord (of rectangles large and small).

This next product is something I’ve been meaning to feature for a long time. Presenting:

Image

The Egg Cuber.

Now, we all like hard boiled eggs, right? Ok, I don’t like them that much, but they’re protein-rich and fill me up. The one time I do enjoy a hard boiled egg is in a salad, preferably a Salade Nicoise. That, my friends – that’s yum. Imagine the rectangular Nicoise masterpiece we could make with this cubed egg! I’ll post a sample recipe below.

Salade Rectangulaire, par Eliza Hecht

Ingredients:

Two hard-boiled eggs, cubed and sliced into squares

A small, rectangular tuna steak

Olives, pitted, and with the corners cut off.

Green beans, with pointy ends cut off, leaving little rectangular strips.

Potatoes, cut up into one-inch cubes.

Lettuce, sliced into squares or small strips.

Boil the potatoes. Steam the green beans. Sear the tuna in a cast-iron pan. Boil the eggs. Rectangularize all components. Toss all ingredients in a simple vinaigrette. Serve on a rectangular platter for best effect.

Dude. What a rectangular triumph.

Check out the other cool things on this lovely website. Further rectangular options include this very cool cutting board. I also think that this wine/picnic tray is brilliant.

September 8, 2012. Food, Rectangles, Science, Websites. 1 comment.

110. How to Throw a Princess Party

No, the Princess Party isn’t necessarily a rectangle (unless it’s held in a rectangular room). But instruction manuals are rectangles, and this is a How-To. Enjoy with your usual rectangular vim and vigor.

My friend Ariana and I decided to have a grown-up princess party. We went to the craft store and covered everything in pink and purple tulle, pink tablecloths and gems. We invited 11 princesses to come celebrate with us and bought floor length pink dresses. We colored, we made tiaras, we ate pink food.

:dress and decor:

What, you want to throw a grown-up princess party yourself? Well, here are some important components.

Princess Punch

Our delicious (and dangerous) Princess Punch consisted of Cran-Raspberry juice, Ginger Ale, vodka and pink sherbet. The sherbet definitely made the punch, so don’t leave it out. I believe we used Edy’s Berry Rainbow sherbet, which worked very well. It adds a nice foam at the top of the punch as it melts.

:absolutely essential:

Pink Mac and Cheese

We took white Annie’s Mac and added some pink food coloring to it – voila! Pink mac and cheese. This was a super hit. Everyone loved it and it took us less than 10 minutes to make. We started it just before our guests walked through the door. Three boxes for 11 people was just perfect.

:nums:

Princess Cake

Make sure this is pink pink pink! Ari and I used a pink strawberry cake mix and pink strawberry icing. We cooked our cake in the shape of a cupcake with the help of this mold. We filled the center with whipped cream and sprinkles, and then – most importantly – we shoved a Barbie into the cake (inspired by Martha’s version below).

:so pretty:

The cake served as her dress.  Then we covered it all in pink, silver and pearl sprinkles. Here’s our version. Guests loved it!

:duh, nicer than martha's:

Tiara Making

There can never be too much glitter or too many gems at a princess party. Ariana and I went to Michael’s to stock up on pre-cut foam pink glitter tiaras. We also bought gems and glittery stickers ranging from castles to crowns to ponies. Our guests loved making their own tiaras!

:tiara station:

Make-up Time

Ari and I supplied glittery make up (lip gloss, nail polish and eye shadow) from Claire’s for our princesses to use. For ourselves, we bought long fake nails with glitter and gems on them.

:punch, makeup and katie's strawberries:

Fancy Dresses

This is perhaps the most important part of a princess party. Ari and I went to Value Village in College Park and bought our perfect princess dresses for less than six dollars apiece! So no one ever has to go broke as a princess – princesses can thrift, too!

:ari in her 6 dollar dress:

 

November 24, 2010. Culture, Fashion, Food, Rectangles. Leave a comment.

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