Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Putting the New Dutch Oven to Good Use, Beans and Rice Style

Last week, I used the new le Creuset Dutch oven to make one of the best beans and rice dishes I think I've ever made. I don't think I'll use another pot or pan for this in the future.

Here's a short film about my making the rice and beans:

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Poor Woman's Frozen Yogurt

Last week, I had a fridge full of yogurt, but no desire to eat it then. However, the due dates were approaching on the little cups of fat-free goodness, so I decided to make frozen yogurt from them.

Because the Cascade Fresh brand of fat free yogurt just uses fruit juice concentrate as its sweetener, it worked great for me. I only added unsweetened carob chips to the mixture of cherry vanilla and boysenberry yogurt. The only thing I'd do differently next time is not be so lazy and use the ice cream maker instead of using the method shown in the little film below.

In advance, I apologize for the quality of the video. I hope someday to buy a good video camera instead of using my good digital camera that just happens to have a weak video setting.

Before you see the film, here are before and after shots of the yogurt:

Above, you can see the markings of the cheese cloth on the yogurt after it's been drained over night.

Above, the finished product.

Now, sit back, have some popcorn and enjoy the show.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Painful Week

Last week was one of the more physically painful weeks I've endured in quite some time.

It started with a massive sinus infection that lead to a blinding three-day headache. Then, I had yet another dental surgery on the implant on Thursday. So far, after the injections wore off, it was the most painful day yet.

Now, I've experienced a range of different types of major pain in my life -- kidney stones, other dental surgeries (including all four impacted wisdom teeth--there's a story), foot surgery and more. But this last one took the cake.

I don't take any narcotic pain medication, so it was a matter of toughing it out with anti-inflammatories and ice. Rather, ice water. I filled my mouth with ice water and held it there, nearly passing out with the pain until the cold helped numb me while I waited for the NSAIDs to do their jobs.

It took a while, but I survived. John was a dear. Poor guy was at his wits end trying to help me, but there simply wasn't anything for him to do.

Almost a week later, I feel much better. The gum is still sore, and I'm certainly not smiling my largest smiles, but I'm on the mend.

In the meantime, I'm eating softer food. Which brings me to my next homemade treat, frozen yogurt.

Next post will be on that. Hope your weeks are never painful.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Rant

I'm really steamed. I've been particularly peeved about one issue for some time now, but now that John and I have to replace one of our cars, this issue has risen to the top like some kind of toxic cream. "What is it, Deb?" you ask.

I hate the fact that eco-fuel is food raised for fuel instead of previously used cooking oils. It really ticks me off that there are millions of fast-food restaurants that PAY to have their cooking oils removed and disposed of, while they could easily be used to fuel diesel cars that have been retrofitted to use eco-fuel.

It costs much, much less to repurpose the cooking oil than it does to grow the crops and process them into fuel. Plus, the restaurants would save tons of money by not having their oils carted away and processed elsewhere.

Most importantly, there are people starving all over the world, and our government wants to raise food for fuel?!?! Why can't we just use the resources that we already have? This issue really makes me mad.

If we lived in a state where we could easily get the repurposed oils, it's wouldn't be as much of a question. However, we're still in New Jersey, where it seems that conservation sits way in the back of the bus while over-consumption takes up the first five rows.


Does this get under your skin too? Let me know.

"Ratatouille" in the Dining Section of the Times

I had to look twice, but there it is -- not a movie review at all, but a review of the movie as if it were a virtual restaurant experience. I'd bet that the editors of the Times had a bit of a challenge deciding where to put the article because it so closely examines the filmmaker's process. But on the other hand, the story focuses on French Laundry chef Thomas Keller and his affect on the film.

Either way, "Ratatouille" has been on my must-see list of films since the first preview was floated last year. It opens on 29 June.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

One Thing I Wish I Hadn't Seen A Server Do

First, let me say that I'm a regular reader of Diary of The Food Whore. Her accounts of bizarre things that customers do at her restaurant and on her catering gigs are a scream. But, it's not as funny being on the other side of the table, as it were.

Yesterday, John and I attended my cousin Aaron's bar mitzvah in Westchester County, New York. The ceremony was very, very long, but the kid did very well, especially considering that he'd just begun his preparations only 8 months prior to the ceremony. Pretty impressive indeed.

After the ceremony, we drove about 20 minutes north to a very fancy resort with a hotel, golf course and banquet facilities. The reception was pretty high end, with tasty, expensive food; rented Segways to try (more on those below); caricature artists; great music via a dj; and more.

Here's where it gets a big scary. Well, for John and me, at any rate. Between dinner courses, our server came around to give us more rolls from a large basket draped over his arm. At first we didn't think anything of it until, across the table from us, the server picked up my brother's uneaten roll with his tongs and placed it into the same basket.

John and I both gasped. I'd already received my new roll, but had not eaten it. Moreover, I began to panic that my first roll had been someone else's not-eaten first roll! What if he'd done that at all the tables??

Now, if you're still saying to yourself, "What's the big deal? The roll would go to waste?" Well, the big deal is that it's not sanitary. How many times have you been in a restroom where someone who just finished didn't wash their hands before exiting? Or, more common, do you cover your mouth when you cough? I do. Do you wash your hands after ever time? I can't honestly say that I do.

While my brother, or anyone else for that matter, may not have done much with the roll, he might have picked it up. With possibly unclean hands. OK. I'm just pushing it this far because I'm also aware of each knob I turn when I open a door, or each time I push a door open (whether it's from a restroom or otherwise).

Regardless, I just don't want to be eating someone's recycled roll!

On to the Segways. One of the most touted advantages of a Segway is that it's supposed to be tough to knock off balance. It's also supposed to be easy to maneuver. At this same bar mitzvah reception, the mother of the celebrant and the celebrant both were riding Segways around the dance floor. They collided, and down she went, with the Segway on top of her.

It was almost in slow motion. He approached from the left, she from the right. He caught her left wheel with his right, her body swerved and the Segway didn't. Luckily, no one was hurt, and she got right back up on the Segway, speeding away.

Have you ever tried a Segway? I was wearing a long flowing dress and didn't want to chance it.

As I said in my other blog, I'm battling a cold, so when I'm feeling better, I'll have more cooking photos/movies/recipes to share. For now, more herbal tea, raw garlic, and rest.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Grounds for Sculpture

If you haven't yet been, you should definitely visit the Grounds for Sculpture park and museum in Hamilton (think Trenton), New Jersey. I snapped the photo above at the park while walking the grounds with my next door neighbor. This particular artist crafted quite a few works around the grounds. You can actually sit with the art, if you wish.

The sculptures are fabricated from all manner of materials. The artwork above is made from blown glass and metal. We saw Richard Jolley's unique glass work in the beautiful and airy museum building.

We also witnessed several male and female peacocks wandering around the Domestic Arts building and the cafe. We thought someone was shouting at us, but it was just the peacocks doing their mating thing.

If you want to see my very short film of the peacocks, click here.