February 2011


I have realized that a huge part of my intellectual laziness recently is due to my addiction to bookmarking recipes online.  My interest in food isn’t extraordinary.  I wouldn’t call myself a foodie — I think that’s a term like “hipster” that people want to avoid even if it applies to them.  Let’s just call me “hungry.”  But, hungry for food, and not for knowledge, which is why I fall short on having discussions about current events and such.

I love to cook and eat, and read books and magazines and watch shows about food (I’m not the greatest baker, so I tend to just think about someone else making sweets for me).  I think about food all of the time (specifically what I will make for dinner and how great it would be if I had a potluck brunch to go to any given weekend).  In fact, all people that I see everyday look like fried chicken drumsticks (except for my daughter, who has those big, doughy cheeks that babies have that lead to the invention of words like “nom nom”).  Anyway, I will attack your fried chicken heads at one point.

I take cookbooks to bed as reading material, bookmark and print more recipes than I can possibly have time to cook and eat in a lifetime, and work on my grocery store list all week.  I look forward to cooking with my kid/s and if she/they are picky about anything I will take it personally.

I am pals with many good cooks and eaters.  I have written an award-losing essay about cooking in my life and how no one eats what I bring to work potlucks and holiday dinners.  I don’t see how a conversation about food isn’t like a conversation about a book or a movie.  Food is a shared experience.  I can talk about Trader Joe’s or Everyday Food as well as I can talk about the movie about Trader Joe or the book about Everyday Food which I am going to start writing immediately.  It’s called “Have You Tried . . . LOVE?”

Seriously, though.  I need to knock it off with looking up recipes.  I blame thekitchn.com.

But since I’ve already done the work, here are some links.

Spinach calzone — I made this last night and it was really good.  The dough didn’t rise but that didn’t seem to make a difference.  I chopped up a few cloves of garlic in the dough.

Macaroni and cheese — I admit that I have always loved Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in all of its orange glory.  But now that I found this version, which when made straight up according to this recipe takes about 10 minutes more to put together than a box of m&C, I will never go back to the box unless there’s an emergency.  Or I’m lazy and that’s all I have to eat.  Next time I make it I’m going to chop in some kale and use better cheese than Sargento.  And I used a tablespoon of mustard since I don’t have mustard powder.

Chinese No Claypot Chicken — I added carrots to this and will probably make it again.  It was a nice and simple Sunday night dinner that lasted a few nights.

Chipotle rice — Except that I used brown jasmine rice and haven’t figured out how to adapt the water/time for brown rice, this is pretty spot on for Chipotle’s lime rice.  I also made a barbacoa beef recipe from this site.  It was good but not great.

Granola — I add 1/4 cup of ground flax seed and use almonds instead, but this is hands down my new favorite cereal.  I love cereal and the fact that I can make my own means that I am allowed to be a little more smug than usual.

I also bought Faith Durand’s casserole cookbook (she’s an editor for thekitchn).  I’ve made a few recipes from it but nothing that spectacular.  I like the book, though.  It’s pretty open to adaptations.  Casseroles are my thing now because they feed us for days.  I will gladly spend a few hours in the kitchen on the weekend just to not have to make dinner on a weeknight.

I will restrain myself and not post the 400 links of things I would love to make.  Just know that I’m not joking, I’m pretty sure there are 400.  I do, however, want everyone to look at this and then think of the appropriate event for me to make them and share.

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The problem with listening to so many podcasts and reading the A.V. Club’s TV Club is that it keeps me from forming my own opinions about things.  Just passively listening/reading and not being able to engage is fun when you’re walking the dog or at the gym, but when I want to talk about what I’m into I don’t remember if any of my views are my own or if I’m borrowing them from the Internet.

For instance, TV Club will post reviews of a show within the hour after it aired (which is weird, I think, but only weirder that I look out for them).  When Ricky Gervais was on “The Office” I knew it was going to happen, and it was cute.  The reviewer of the show wrote that he wished it was going to be a surprise, and I spent the rest of the evening in a TV-grade upset because I ALSO wanted the cameo to have been a surprise.  In the review of the pretty stupid so far “Perfect Couples,” the reviewer mentioned that it’s a waste of single-camera use since the show doesn’t do anything with that concept.  Now when I watch it (while not paying attention because it’s on at a perfect doing-baby-stuff time) I actually want there to be a laugh track to tell me what’s supposed to be funny because the tone is so wrong.  I don’t know that I would have noticed it before.

I’m not sure that the last paragraph makes much sense, but the point is that I want to have opinions and discussions again.  I have my associate who is also into the same things I’m into, but 90% of our conversations go like this:

me: I haven’t seen “Alien”

him: GET OUT OF MY HOUSE

or

him: Joke about Oasis

me: I’M GOING TO POISON YOU!*

I don’t see friends that much anymore and our few minutes together are spent catching up on events, and not discussing the latest episode of “Glee.”  I don’t even know if my friends watch “Glee,” let alone if I even like it.  I miss talking about books, movies, and TV.  It’s fun to make something more important than it actually is.  I used to have opinions and I used to do the work required to get them.  Now when I think of something other than “I liked that” or “Jon Hamm is funny,” I can actually hear gears cranking and out comes a little nugget like (spoiler!), “the killing of Ned Pepper in ‘True Grit’ didn’t have an emotional payoff.”  And then I collapse at the effort of doing something other than mindlessly watching an episode of “Roseanne” on Netflix.

Anyway, in order to keep my mind sharp I need to think about things for real before just looking up a review online and letting that do the work for me.  I wouldn’t enjoy posting comments online as a way to take part in a coversation.  Maybe I should join a book club for people who take six months to finish a book.

*These things don’t actually happen, but there is a lot more tension in the house now that “Top Gun” is available to watch instantly on Netflix.  It’s like I’ve moved from not having seen it and refusing to watch it, to actively not watching it at all times.  I know that Goose dies, everyone.  I don’t think it matters that I know who or what a Goose is.