October 31, 2010

It's my birthday month!!!*

and an insane week for dinner planning

MONDAY - sauted tofu & broccoli & peppers with brown rice and provo
TUESDAY - sweet potato fries, black bean cakes, corn salsa
WEDNESDAY - spinach salad with MSF
THURSDAY - on your own (working....wah wah)
FRIDAY - spinach quesadillas
SATURDAY - other cooker
SUNDAY - something exciting TBA!

*well, tomorrow anyway

Happy Calloween Day!

October 30, 2010

Miss Truvy, I promise that my personal tragedy will not interfere with my ability to do good hair

Tonight, it felt like fall. It was chilly inside and out. Naturally, that meant busting out something...frozen?

Only once before has the gooey deliciousness that is Brunswick Stew crossed YJDKIY's lips. But this time, this time, it was storybook. Utterly Southern. The stuff Steel Magnolias and Driving Miss Daisy are made of.

Made by the Methodist Men of Rosemary UMC in one of the most Southernest/Eastern NC towns I know (to be fair, I make a point to not know many of those!).

Only after finding that page, did we know that the mystery meat was chicken, not pork, as it tastes! In fact, according to wiki, there isn't a set recipe for Brunswick Stew.

Brunswick stew is a traditional dish from the southeastern United States. The origin of the dish is uncertain, and there are two competing claims as to the place in the South where it originated. Recipes for Brunswick stew vary greatly but it is usually a tomato-based stew containing various types of lima beans/butter beans, corn, okra, and other vegetables, and one or more types of meat. Most recipes claiming authenticity call for squirrel or rabbit meat, but chicken, pork, and beef are also common ingredients. Some versions have a distinctly smoky taste. The stew essentially resembles a very thick vegetable soup with meat. The key distinguishing factor between soup and Brunswick stew is the consistency. Brunswick stew must be thick; otherwise, it would be vegetable soup with meat added. Most variations have more meat and vegetables than liquid.

And to conclude, enjoy this read from the NYT, as it depicts exactly the ingredients, both food and otherwise, I taste in each bite!

Saturday Summary

October 28, 2010

Local Customs I Don't Understand

Although they aren't for me, I get Christmas lights. I totally understand a flag on July 4th. Heck, a pumpkin and some nice yellow mums are even cool for Fall. But this, this extremely over the top yard decor for...Halloween, the most non-holiday of them all...this is just beyond me.

Please excuse the shady nature of the following photos...taken with my iPhone while trying to be super stealthy dog walking!

 Even the Y has gone so far as to do not just decorations, but a life size diorama!

Maybe it's just me, but I don't see how this is appropriate yard art for Halloween...or any other non-holiday!

And finally, just to prove we here on the Ave aren't totally antifestive...the Canine Component is sporting a little Halloween decor.

She's clearly thrilled about it.

October 26, 2010

Win Some Lose Some

YJDKIY was in the mood to try something new with these guys

Somewhere recently I read about eggplant rolls, but I couldn't find the exact recipe I'd seen, so I decided to just wing it. I also had in mind to use up the last of my baby basils, as they are a little worse for the Fall wear.

I did manage to pick enough for the amount of eggplant I had.

 At least three times through this process I was already picturing the blog post title: epic fail! Slicing the eggo-s lengthwise and thin proved extremely difficult.

Then, after dipping the slices in a plate of Pino's Press Garlic EVOO, I rolled them up with basil leaves, diced (last farmer's market) tomato, and either mozzarella or feta (wanted to try both).

Trust me when I tell you the toothpicks were necessary. I really needed eggplant ribbons instead of slices, but I don't think the cheese slicer would have cut it for this.

Meanwhile, I prepped for tofu battering. Dip #1 in egg white, dip #2 in a mix of breadcrumbs/garlic powder/oregano/dried basil and placed on a pan to bake.

Both went in the oven at 375 for about 25 minutes, alternating with broil on 500 for a few minutes here and there. Served with a side of marinara, the tofu turned out crispy and perfect. The eggplant rolls...meh. I think they were a little too thick and not quite done, which of course is the total wrong way to eat eggplant.

October 25, 2010

Happy Calloween Week

MONDAY: Oven 'fried' tofu, eggplant rolls

TUESDAY: Freezer Spaghetti, green beans

WEDNESDAY: Black bean-sweet potato tacos

THURSDAY: Tuna melts with romaine hearts and carrots

FRIDAY: White chicken chili

SATURDAY: Panko fish, cous cous, sesame kale

SUNDAY: Haps at the FH Halloween Parade!

October 20, 2010

I will never

Ok, never say never...but YJDKIY doesn't plan on baking any spaghetti squashes again soon. The first one was an exploding disaster of glass. The second, while tastier, resulted in a forearm oven burn the size of a golf ball (in fact, it looks like my arm got pelleted with a golf ball!).

This time, I had a local squash from the last farmer's market of the season and after baking in a pan with some water for 45 minutes, topped it with thawed pesto from my freezer stock, chopped pine nuts and parm. Yummy!

October 19, 2010

Mad at Men?

Warning: if you have yet to watch the season finale of MadMen and plan to, stop reading now. *Spolier Alert*


This was truly a bizarre episode. As I watched the second half with my mouth open and brows knitted, frequently yelling/angry fist shaking at Don Draper, I might have muttered the phrase 'they jumped the shark.' But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that perhaps Season 5 is salvageable and this finale did in fact, fit with the rest of the odd season, opening up lots of storylines (and making for a very long 8-9 month hiatus!). A few thoughts, since you didn't ask for my opinion: :P

One of the things I love about MadMen are it's time gaps. Either between season, episode, or scene, you're never really sure how much time has passed and what transpired with the characters. What holiday? How long have they known each other? How long were they in California?

Did you notice that all the career girls got shafted? Joan got a promotion but no raise. Peggy got a new account and saved the business but was trumped by Don's news. Faye, poor Faye, got dumped for a younger secretary who, oh by the way, got the ring.

I proclaimed loudly, and multipley that Megan's character was not developed enough to show why Don supposedly fell in love and proposed to her. There was the scene with the milkshake...

...and we know Don is a mess and doesn't know what he wants. Plus, he made googly eyes at her in the Whiskey a Go Go outfit. So, I'm now undecided on this, as it was pointed out that perhaps Megan is all the things he thought he was getting with Betty, who turned out to actually be a psycho 11 year old...
(did you see her crazy eyes and erratic head bobble whilst firing Carla?!). So, she's both the Anti-Betty and the Betty-hit-on-the-head-with-a-well-adjusted-adult-stick. So, maybe its not that I think Megan's character was underdeveloped so much as she's just not a very deep character (or maybe, I just don't like the actress or identify with her on any level).

I LOVE Sally Draper so much. I love the song scene where she is off key and trying desperately to spit the words out on cue to please her dad. I love when she begs him to go swimming with her and when he crashes on the bed...
...(was it just me or was there an extra pause there that made you think Don might have really passed out?) I love when she doesn't make move on Glen...
(who, just so happens to be Matthew Weiner's son! Who knew? And, even more creepier) and offers to send him postcards instead. I really wanted to see her have one more fit and fall in it this season, though (guess she left all those for her mom).

And, I love that Lane was the first to congratulate Don having shared the waitress/Bunny lady he fell in love with also. He clearly doesn't fit it in with the other boys (where is Cooper? Did he abandon ship altogether after the Jerry Macguire letter? Why has no one else pointed out that letter was totally Jerry?). I can't quite figure him out yet. He's so...un-mad man.

At the end, as we're all willing incoming mortar for Joan's husband (does he even have a name) or even just waiting for him to spontaneously combust, it occurred to me that what if he DOESN'T die in the war? What would happen to the baby? How can he just ignore dates? Now that would be a plot twist! And, as much as I dislike the hubbs, I even more dislike the way Joan talks to him.

I really want to know what Faye is going to do with Don's secret and the fact that she lost her job for him. That can't be pretty, but who knows if she'll be back next season, her super insightful 'You only like the beginnings of things' might have been the nail in her character's coffin.

Speaking of things, un, the scene with Joan and Peggy was so...un-MadMen, too. We've seen little camaraderie among the women of SCDP, and even less catty-humor. I can't decide how I feel about this, since it's not a sit com. Also, when did Peggy start smoking?

This scene with Don and Bets was one of my favorites of the season. Maybe just for the nostalgia...and Betty's cunningness. And Don drinking his hidden liquor from a bathroom cup.

Everyone keeps saying Peggy felt hurt at Don's news because he never made a move for her, but I disagree. Peggy doesn't and didn't want that. Her comment about saving the company is an indication of her ego, and her similarities to Don. They both have big bad dark secrets they're trying to overcome, they're both the creative type, they both have ambitions that get the best of them sometimes. There is no chemistry between them INTENTIONALLY!

I think this is the first time we've seen baby Gene's face up close and personal as a character. Does anyone else think he could be Betty and Henry's kid? He's the spitting image of them (poor Bobby got the raw deal with his scene stealing sister and adorable toddler brother). I hope he is back in Season 5!

Bottom line: This is such a complex, character driven show. The fact that I reacted to this episode as such might mean it's really good...or that Matthew Weiner is in a life raft with a bleeding foot.

October 18, 2010

Red Beans + Rice Redux*

YJDKIY generally makes up things dinner as I go. Tonight was no exception. I started with the basic idea of traditional red beans and rice, only to discover that this dish in fact, normally includes a lot of other things, namely of the non-plant variety that I was specifically trying to avoid.

Side note from Wiki: Red beans and rice is an emblematic dish of Louisiana Creole cuisine, (not originally of Cajun cuisine) traditionally made on Mondays (betcha didn't know that!) with red beans, vegetables (bell pepper, onion and celery), spices (thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf) and pork bones as left over from Sunday dinner, cooked together slowly in a pot and served over rice. Meats such as ham, sausage (most commonly Andouille) , and Tasso ham are also frequently used in the dish.

Wanting this to be vegetarian (I think this actually ended up vegan!) and healthy, I started by sauteing garlic and green pepper with a little cumin and red pepper flakes. 

Then added the beans. ALWAYS go with the biggest fry pan. No matter what you're cooking, bigger is always always the better choice. You'd think I would have learned this by now!

Meanwhile, I had 1 c. of basmati rice cooking. This might be the only "white" version of something I like better. 

Mix it all together and simmer while the other cooker prepares avocado salsa for topping. 

Serve with corn chips (would have preferred blue but these were VICy this week!). 

*or, better known as glorified (healthy) nachos 


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