Friday, July 29, 2011

Triple Threat Ginger Muffins

These muffins use pumpkin puree more as a flavour inhancer rather than the traditional pumpkin muffin taste. The predominant notes here will be of toasted spices and ginger.  And don't be put off by the flax seeds-these aren't healthy treats, I swear!  It just adds to the complexity of flavour.  They are fabulous to pop into the freezer and then zap in the mornings for a quick breakfast.

1Cup Butter
1tbs Cinnamon
3tsp Ground Ginger
Pinch Cloves
Pinch Cracked Pepper
15 oz Pumpkin Puree (don't make your own, trust me; this time, canned is all good)
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
4 eggs
1/2 Cup Raw Sugar
1 tbs Grated Ginger
1 1/4 Cup Unbleached Flour
1/4 Cup Flax Seeds
1tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tbs Baking Powder
1 Cup Cystalised Ginger
1 Cup Pumpkin Seeds (hulled)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 12 cup muffin tins with liners (I advise foil.)

Melt the butter in a sauce pan on medium heat. As the butter just begins to froth, add in the ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper. Allow the butter to brown and then remove from heat.

Whisk pumkin with buttermilk, then add in brown sugar, eggs, raw sugar, butter/spices and grated ginger until just together. Mixture will be significantly wet.

Sift remaining dry indgrediants together and then slowly whisk into pumkin mix; DON'T OVER MIX. Fold in the pumpkin seeds and crystalised ginger.

Spoon mixture into muffin tin until almost even with the tops. Bake for 35-40 minuets. Cool on rack. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Poverty: Where You Cook like a Chef b/c You Can't Afford to Eat like a Person

Most people think of offal, off brand meat bits, liver, or marrow, as gross things their grandmother once forced them to eat. And that's fair. The image of Granny gnawing on marrowbones will haunt me to the grave.

The reason behind her madness, however, was thrift. And in this economy, I am not about the turn my nose up at thrift. The prices we pay for food have skyrocketed and they're not going back down. So I'm left with the reality that chicken hearts are dirt cheap meat. But they're GROSS you say? While I'm the first in line to be squicked out by hot dogs, the honest truth is that meat is meat. As long as it's cooked properly, the only difference between a cow's ass and a cow's chest is in your head. And maybe in the marbling. But as far as the gross factor, it is strictly make believe. Okay, I will draw the line at brains.

So alright, let's give the weird meat a fighting chance. Just not cooked like grandma used to make it, for the love of god.

Chefs apparently look as these meats and see gold. For now, let's leave offal to them, but still, cuts of beef once distained by middle class America have come into vogue because Emril thinks they're tasty. Flank steak is per once one of the most reasonable cuts of steak on the market and-oh yeah-it's delicious.

The trick is, most times, hidden in preparation.

This week I gave chicken hearts and gizzards a whirl. These are tough meats, so the trick is a slow, low cook time with a flavourful liquid base. To that end, I choose broth and Greek yogurt, figuring that the enzymes therein should help break down the meat and make it more tender. (MS Office says it's tenderer. I find that stupid.  More Tender Bitches!)

And, shockingly enough, it worked. Dare to think outside the meat box! Embrace your poverty!

Slow Chicken in Yogurt with Chives

1 Pkg Chicken Hearts & Gizzards, gizzards cut into bite sized pieces.

1 cup Chicken broth (preferably homemade; Swansons is a decent alternative)

1 cup Greek Yogurt

1 tbsp Garlic, chopped

1 medium Sweet Onion, chopped

1/2 Mushrooms, sliced (button, Portobello, oyster depending on personal preference or poverty level)

Pinch of Salt

Pepper to taste

1 bunch of Fresh Chives, snipped

1 pound Whole Wheat Pasta

Boil pasta until al dente in salted water, reserving at least a 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, (back at the ranch) simmer the chicken parts with the broth for ten minutes on medium low heat, covered. Add the yogurt, pepper, salt, and garlic, then simmer for a further 15 min. Add the chopped onion and-you guessed it--simmer for 20 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and the onions become transparent and glossy. If the sauce has condensed too much, add remaindered pasta water. (It's already thickened with starch from the pasta, but it's salty, so use a light hand. You can add more as you go, but once it's in it’s here to stay.)  Now add the mushrooms and turn heat to low, cooking uncovered for about another 10 minutes, or just until the mushrooms soften. This time, stir frequently, scrapping up any brown bits from the sides and bottom because they're super tasty. Toss sauce with pasta and chives and serve.

Serves 4 as a main dish.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nite Lite/Lite Brite

As I’ve mentioned, I run at night, and in order to make this not suicide by car, reflective strips become a girl’s best friend*.  Because diamonds are great, but not only are they not moisture wicking, they sure won’t keep that drunken CFO in the Beemer from broadsiding you.

So why  don’t running apparel companies do this right?

I wear a lot of brands.  I wear the apparel they designate for runners.  I’m the girl these folks are looking for—I panicked when my cheap stuff failed me utterly and splurged and then went and told all of my friends to splurge.  Things that you ask to work this hard are worth it.  And yet I am not a satisfied customer.  In fact, I’m feeling a little bitchy. 

Because the safety features that are, you know, supposed to keep me safe, are ridunculous.  On average, my sports bra has more and better reflective piping than any other single piece of apparel.  And sure, there are ladies who look great in just a compression bra, but er, wait, isn’t this designed for low light sport? Should I be running around in just my bra at 10pm?  Does this seem safe/sane to Nike?  Really?  Well not so much to me.  So let’s look at shirts.  Whether singlets, tanks or tees—and heaven forbid it be cold weather gear because you’ll just be SOL there, tops straight up fail the safety test.  The reflectivity on my tops is all on the front.  Even then it’s mostly just a teeny logo.  First of all—the FRONT?  Now unless I’m so out of it I shouldn’t be on the road to start with, I think I should be able to spot and avoid collisions with things headed towards my face.  Why are they not on the back-where my eyes aren’t?  Is it really that hard to put two lines down the back of a moisture wicking run top? As far as I’ve seen, pretty much Mission Impossible.  (IDEA: twin lines curving in from my underarms to the small of my back. Safe and slimming= bonus points.)  And pants, why is all the reflectivity on the sides?  So that cars can notice me as they draw abreast?  Or way up at my hip?  Because, see above argument that I can see with my eyeballs in the front of me, not in back, with an additional complaint that most of my tops cover that space.  So even if I needed the help in front, it’s invisible as soon as I put on a shirt.  Sigh.  It seems simple and intuitive that the same seems that Athleta boasts ‘slim the hips and thighs’ could easily sport reflective stripes so that I don’t die while looking slim and lovely.  Because even in straight 12 noon sunshine, no one has ever died of extra reflectivity.  (I think.  I should google that statement, but I’m too lazy.)  But instead, if I’m lucky, my options are tiny, misplaced and frankly nonsensical.  Or I could do the dreaded neon vest.  Oh gods of road running, please don’t make me wear the Vest of Shame.  

If there isn’t ANY reflectivity, I don’t buy at all.  And a vast amount of running gear falls into this category.  Now I realize that a lot of (girls) are strictly gym runners.  And that’s great.  Go them.  But reflectivity won’t blind the old lady on the treadmill behind them and it could potentially save me. 

So I’m left wondering if the stuff that makes gear shiny is maybe gold or plutonium.  Expensive as hell or super hard to get.  Because otherwise, lots of folks run in low light.  Not just night runners, but twilight and dawn too, where in many cases the oddness of the light makes drivers’ differentiating runners from chipmunks even more difficult.  So, please, Reebok, Moving Comfort, Mizuno, MAKE  ME SOMETHING TO WEAR.  I’ll pay you, I swear. In money.

*Note: No amount of shiny shit will make the difference paying attention will.  I know this.  Adidas knows this.  It’s not the question.  The question is why aren’t these folks trying to give me all the help they can—at 60$ a pop?

A Selection of Her Dreams

Off topic, sorry, but I have been having some really weird, really vivid dreams recently. The kind you wake up from going 'wtf?!:' or "NOOO! Get me back there!"

Dream the First:

I'm at my aunt's house, in the kitchen. My aunt's house is behind my grandmother's. (No, it isn't, but in the dream it was and I just knew it.) It's like three in the morning and I'm trying to be quiet b/c the last time I made holiday dinner in my grandma's kitchen inexplicably at midnight, it woke her up and she was angry. I'm making . . .who knows what, but it's a god awful mess, dishes teetering on the sink and counters. Food clings to spatulas, bowls-let's face it-floors. I keep cleaning as I go, but the mess never recedes. Not nightmare level mess, just constant irritation mess. I think I'm working on some sort of giant chocolate log. Like a sheet cake-sized Swiss Miss roll. Also other things, but I keep looking at the roll and not doing anything with it, so much as wondering why it's there. And then my aunt wakes up. "What are you doing here at 3am cooking?" Which is perfectly logical, and I feel totally logical in return, explaining about having woken grandma up last time. Why would I ever cook at my grandma's house, I think, when I have such better equipment in my own? A tiny wiggle of 'well then why am I cooking here?' sneaks in and vanishes. Regardless of my logic, I leave, backing out of my grandmothers' driveway. This driveway is the real deal, an exact replica in dreamland of the one I've backed out of a thousand times. This time, late into the dark, I keep backing all the way out of my lane and into the next and past the next and into the ditch. I can't seem to get the car out of reverse. Which of course is the cue for the policeman to roll up. My first thought is: "Hmmm, will I pass a breathalyzer?" quickly followed by, "Well, luck's run out then." Except that as the cop starts to ask me questions, I figure out that when I answered "have you been drinking tonight, ma'am?" with a "no," I'm not actually lying. I'm stone sober and dead tired.  Before I know it, the cop and I are sitting on the hood of my car (which I do not allow) until pinky dawn shows up, talking about how being tired is worse than being drunk, & trading stories about the dumb things we've seen drivers do. Suddenly, I remember that I really, really don't like cops. Why on earth am I hanging out with this one? The truth of which, so starkly in contrast with what's going on, wakes me up instantly. But I'm laying there, super confused, for a lot longer. What the heck was that about? Froid? Anybody?

Dream the Second:

This one’s pretty hazy.  I was in prison/jail/bootcamp, but not like normal, more like a fairytale version, or something from early SciFi.  It was just girls, and everybody had to have a job to keep them occupied and my job was quilting.  (Seriously, why?  I’m the least crafty person ever. Can’t even cut paper straight.)  There was a thimble on my forefinger, which I learned to wear the hard way because I kept getting cut and my finger was getting . . . let’s just say weird, because it was a dream and while I knew something was wrong with it, the what was unclear.  Note that in real life I might have struggled to come up with ‘thimble’ had you asked me what protects seamstress’ hands, but in dreams the knowledge was complete and detailed down to tiny hammered dents in the surface that kept in from slipping off.  It was a struggle to learn how to keep in on, and I still poked myself a lot.  Eventually, I realized that every time I cut myself, I was dabbing it onto a square of cornflower blue muslin. (WHY with the details, WHY?)  As this went on-my sense here is months, maybe years-the blood not only stayed fresh and red, it started to form a heart.  The other prisoners started to have a well deserved wtf moment.  Which is when I had the DREAM/MAGIC moment of clarity: the blood was how we were all going to escape.  Every time I sacrificed my blood, the heart’s power grew.  Eventually it would beat. and when it did, the walls would fall before us.  But someone snitched to the Warden, as someones always do, and he was coming to destroy the quilt and then . . . and then my alarm went off.  Fucking alarm. Snooze motherfucker.  No use.  Couldn’t get it back.  Sooo, contest to finish the story?

Dream the Last:

A lot of things were going on.  I’d wake up, go back to sleep, and almost be back in the moment.  Where you think it’s the same, but there’s like zero connection points?  But the end is what I will NEVER forget.  It cuts from a girl whom I know isn’t me having an affair with a senator’s son, to a girl addressing the screen who also isn’t me.  I say screen because it felt like a movie, not a dream.  She’s blond and cute and perky and a little chubby.  She’s got that adult-girl voice where it’s not fake, and every time they say ‘sex’ and ‘I’ve had’ in the same sentence you flinch, because in your head they’re like three.  And she’s looking right at me and talking about her dad, who’s this oil tycoon or something, and behind her a la Fox News is a badly green screened video of  her parents at some kind of charity gala, laughing and schmoozing.  Daddy’s got the hat and the handlebar and the Dallas suit, mom’s a super-blond Texas style.  She carries on “Of course then he had to realize that I was sleeping with his aid, and there was this weird smell, kind of like burning and kind of like something that’s been dead and out in the sun so long it’s mostly just a smear.  And then I figured out what the smell was.  It was the scent of moustache pee.  Yeah.”  She nods earnestly.  Which of course woke me up.  Because, well, MOUSTACHE PEE.

Seriously, where does this shit COME from?  Thoughts? Theories? Spam?