Food & Cooking

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Recent Dinners

The other day I caught an episode of Hot off the Grill with Bobby Flay, and he was making Napoleons using slices of potato, goat cheese, and basil. He finished them with a basil vinaigrette. I decided to try it at home, using what I happened to have: grated mozzarella/provolone cheese, minced garlic, and bacon. They were delicious, and we had them with some drumsticks:

Chicken Drumsticks and Potato Napoleons

And, uh, some salad from a plastic bag, and cans of Fresca:

Bag Salad and Fresca

Tonight it's something slightly fancier, as I went to the farmer's market today. We're having drumsticks again, but this time with collard greens (cooked with a little bacon), sourdough wheat bread, and a dessert that may be great or terrible: pear pudding. For years, I've wanted to try making fruit puddings, and I'm starting with pears. I did two pears, peeled and sliced fairly thin, then some flour, milk, maple syrup, honey, and sugar (in the raw). I'm hoping that if I leave it in the oven long enough, that stuff will turn into something resembling caramel. Then we'll have that pear pudding with pound cake from the farmer's market. [UPDATE: That pudding needed some spice desperately, I'll tell you what! Cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg...I should have picked those up at the store.]


  • I cringe in anticipation of Tina Fey's joke about this story on tonight's SNL Weekend Update.
  • Would it be so bad if I had the following meal? -- waffles with maple syrup, followed by a dessert of popsicles and yellow cake with chocolate frosting?
  • What are the pros and cons of getting a seven-year fraud alert on your credit report?
  • This summer I'll be teaching Rhetoric 3401, Internet Communication: Tools and Issues (one syllabus here, another here). If any of you have any tips on teaching online courses or suggestions of readings to assign, I'd love to hear them.
  • Recent reads: Down Came the Rain, Brooke Shields' memoir of postpartum depression. It was surprisingly good, but this is of course coming from a general fangirl who, while a child, had a Brooke Shields doll. Also, Life As We Know It by Michael Bérubé, which I've already recommended. I'm now reading Woolf's To the Lighthouse (for the first time!), and will probably read Writing a Woman's Life by Carolyn Heilbrun next.


First, some old stuff I should have blogged weeks ago: the posts at Crooked Timber and 11D about Unequal Childhoods, a monograph by sociologist Annette Lareau. The book description from Amazon, for expediency:

Class does make a difference in the lives and futures of American children. Drawing on in-depth observations of black and white middle-class, working-class, and poor families, Unequal Childhoods explores this fact, offering a picture of childhood today. Here are the frenetic families managing their children's hectic schedules of "leisure" activities; and here are families with plenty of time but little economic security. Lareau shows how middle-class parents, whether black or white, engage in a process of "concerted cultivation" designed to draw out children's talents and skills, while working-class and poor families rely on "the accomplishment of natural growth," in which a child's development unfolds spontaneously--as long as basic comfort, food, and shelter are provided. Each of these approaches to childrearing brings its own benefits and its own drawbacks. In identifying and analyzing differences between the two, Lareau demonstrates the power, and limits, of social class in shaping the lives of America's children.

Admittedly, I haven't read the book, and I'm sure Lareau probably accounts for this, but I don't recall reading in the threads at 11D or Crooked Timber any consideration of families in which one parent is middle class and the other is working class (obviously the class position of the family would be one or the other -- or neither. I'm talking about the class backgrounds of the parents). Presumably, assuming each parent is equally involved in childrearing, the child would get some of both "concerted cultivation" and "accomplishment of natural growth."

Alex Reid has some interesting thoughts about not getting podcasting. He gets it, of course; the thing is, he just isn't all that impressed, heh.

How Tyler Cowen cooks blackened fish.

The only pictures that were taken of me at CCCC.

I command it! Read this review of the new collection of Elizabeth Bishop's previously unpublished poetry, Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box. And listen to this interview/slide show with Alice Quinn, the editor of the collection. Seriously, I do command it.

While you're at the New Yorker's site, read Relatively Deprived, a critique of how the poverty rate is calculated.

Soy Milk Question

Is it obvious when soy milk goes bad? Any number of web sites and other sources say that soy milk should be discarded after 7-10 days. I just ate a bowl of oatmeal using vanilla soy milk that I believe I opened a couple of weeks ago. It smelled fine, and I didn't want to use water, so I went ahead and used it.

This cinnamon roll flavored oatmeal, along with a banana, was my dessert after my dinner of an eight-ounce filet mignon (bought it at the grocery store today on a whim) and fresh string beans steamed and then sauteéd in a mixture of olive oil, sriracha sauce, and hoisin sauce. Anything tastes good with a combination of those sauces.

Ahem. Yes, I'm full.

Southern Comfort ice cream and other tidbits

Have you seen this stuff? It has the Southern Comfort name but is just regular ice cream, no SoCo in it that I can detect. The Vanilla Spice tastes like vanilla with nutmeg, cinnamon, and maybe cardamom, and it has a unique texture, almost like gelato but fluffier, almost as airy as whipped cream. Try it!

I've also been eating much too much Häagen-Dazs sorbet, but then I've been exercising a lot too, especially running and stretching. Have you ever gone through a phase of restless whole-body syndrome? I can't seem to stop stretching.

Wish me luck as I check and refill my own antifreeze tomorrow. A couple of days ago, I took my car to a mechanic to get it winterized, and it was just so patently obvious that he was lying to me about what my car needed that I broke down and decided to do the antifreeze thing myself. It can't be that hard.


Dubious Chicken Soup

Inspired in part by Erin's sweet potato gumbo and the Martha Stewart dish I described:

I made a soup tonight that I thought might turn out nasty but is really good, so I'm calling it "Dubious Chicken Soup":

1 parsnip, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
~2 tablespoons olive oil
12 chicken thighs, cooked in Major Grey's chutney (I used about half a jar)
several cloves of garlic, chopped (not minced)
brown rice noodles (however much you want)
1 container chicken broth
1 can great northern beans, washed

Bake 6 chicken thighs in Major Grey's chutney (350 degrees). Once they're fully cooked, remove the chicken breasts from the Corningware dish (or whatever you have) and put the next six chicken breasts, the onion, and the garlic in to cook in the yummy mixture of chutney and chicken fat. In a different baking dish, roast the sweet potatoes and parsnips; drizzle them with olive oil first. Cook brown rice noodles according to instructions on the bag, but undercook them so that they're extra al dente. Dice all cooked chicken. Put northern beans, sweet potatoes, parsnips, noodles, onion/garlic/chutney/chicken fat mixture, chicken broth, and chicken into a large pot. Boil for a few minutes and then simmer as desired.

I made a little maple syrup and mustard dressing to try with some of those roasted sweet potatoes and parsnips. It was DELICIOUS.

Question about Ghee

Can you use ghee just like you'd use regular butter? In my case, this means: put a little bit in jasmine rice as it's cooking, cook scrambled eggs with it, or put it on corn on the cob. Will it taste okay? Will my kitchen burst into flames?

Edited to add: Can I use ghee to grease a cookie sheet? Also, not ghee-related, but I bought the stuff to try two side dishes I heard about on Martha Stewart's new midmorning show: sweet potatoes and parsnips, roasted in the oven and covered in a maple syrup and dijon mustard dressing, and brussels sprouts roasted in the oven with bacon, with a little balsamic vinegar on them.

Special Cookie Day

In honor of Special Cookie Day, I have Pepperidge Farm Double Chocolate Chunk (Dark Chocolate) cookies, which I'll heat up for ~10 seconds in the microwave before eating and enjoy with the end of season 2 and beginning of season 3 of The Sopranos. Someone got me hooked on it, gah.

It's going to be a good evening.

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