Monthly Archives: July 2008

The Oatmeal Cookies That Were Almost Not.

I was bit by the baking bug yesterday…but didn’t really leave my apartment…partially because of the weather…but also because I had a million things to do around here.

Soo…I was thrilled when I realized I had absolutely everything needed to make oatmeal cookies…except brown sugar. And I didn’t want to go all the way to the grocery store (I recently saw one of my neighbors at the Met Foodmarket and he was giving me a hard time about shopping there — “Why don’t you shop at Pathmark? It’s so much closer for you. Next time go to Pathmark. It’ll save you a big walk. Seriously. This is a waste of time for you…”).

Soo…one quick Google search later, I learned that you can substitute 1.5 tablespoons of molasses and one cup of granulated sugar per cup of firmly packed light brown sugar that you need.

And it just so happens that I still *have* molasses left over from that time I made shoofly pie…so I was actually able to *make* brown sugar.

I never knew that it was just regular sugar and molasses! My own version even *looks* real! (I still have about a quarter of a cup, per Andy’s recipe.) Made me feel very self-sufficient, indeed.

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Filed under brown sugar, cookies, pie

MORE Competitive Baking…But One Roasting Pan and a Few Hours Short.

Last week, a former coworker (you may remember him as Chris) told me about the Great American Pie-Off…and not only was I determined to *go*, but also to bake something memorable (no apple!) and to win over the celebrity judges.

I put out a request and got a lot of good feedback for potential pies: strawberry rhubarb, mixed berry, coconut cream…but, in the end, it was banoffee — a pie I made especially for an English colleague once — that really piqued my interest. Surely no one else would actually go to the trouble of making toffee, right? (In the recipe it says: “This pie, an easy take on toffee with bananas [hence the name], made its debut at The Hungry Monk, a pub in England, in 1972. Traditional recipes involve boiling unopened cans of condensed milk, but since that sometimes results in explosions, we thought you might prefer our method.”)

So…this was my big weekend plan.

But…I had a heck of a week last week…and by the time I woke up on Saturday and had my coffee and realized that the contest began at 4 and that I really had only a couple of hours to straighten my hair and go to the grocery store and get a-bakin‘…my plan for baking dominance seemed rather ill-conceived. *Then* I read the recipe a bit closer and recalled that this pie actually requires a roasting pan (which I borrowed from a friend of a friend for Thanksgiving once upon a time and had for, like, a year…and so the last time I made this must have been during that roasting-pan-borrowing-period)…as well as TWO hours of toffee-making (in a pie pan that is on loan) and ANOTHER hour of chill time…I decided I simply didn’t have enough oomph to pull it off. I may have totally blown it — one of the celebrity judges could have been searching for a writer/baker…but that was the pie I really wanted to make. I found a recipe for apricot-raspberry pie that seemed kind of easy (and doable with what I had on hand)…but I just wasn’t as excited about it.

So…no pies this weekend. Cover letters galore. But no pies.

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Filed under dishes, holidays, pie

I was always more of a Pretty in Pink fan myself…

(Oh, Blaine…[who said hi to me in REAL LIFE a few years ago outside the theater where he was performing in Fat Pig]).

I just saw this JCPenney ad…and it wasn’t actually until the Ally Sheedy character poured Pixy Stix on her breakfast that I knew for sure what was going on:

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Filed under Breakfast Club, candy, John Hughes

Traveled down the road and back again.

I’m not in the business of eulogizing, so I certainly can’t do it better than any of the others that are already out there…like this: Estelle Getty, Thank You For Being a Friend.

Or…: Our Favorite Sophia Petrillo Lines.

A friend half-jokingly suggested we meet up for cheesecake last night in tribute “like the gals did.”

And, interestingly enough, today Mark Bittman has a recipe for No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake Bars.

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You Can’t Spell Food Without "oo" Either.

Those of you who go back far enough *may* recall a gentleman by the name of Goot. (The Dow Jonesers, oh, how they laughed…but it isn’t really fair of me to poke fun as I, too, have taken a lot of heat for my name.) It’s been quite some time since Goot and I spoke…but thanks to the Internets, he sort of popped up again today…which made me a little curious as to what he’s been up to…and thanks to the Googles (which can be both good and bad, as you have seen…), I now know he’s done fairly well for himself. He also happens to be featured in a food blog…which I’m guessing is a little more popular than ol’ TL’s…which somehow doesn’t seem fair, does it?

Hey, Goot…You Gonna Eat That?

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Are You There, What? It’s Me, Who?

For the longest time, I have said that I feel like it’s my mission to write a collection of short stories…based loosely (or so I shall say) on my own experiences. And even though it is completely self-indulgent, I can’t help but feel the circumstances of my upbringing provided plenty of material to do so. It’s just a matter of, you know, getting over worries of alienating my family and then actually sitting down to write it. And so I have hemmed and hawed for a long time….

But when I was at a bookstore the other day, I happened to see Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea.

And I haven’t read it, so I can’t make any sort of sound judgment…but when I read the back cover, I couldn’t help but feel that this is definitely something I can do (albeit with a *slightly* different title…perhaps a fun spin on Superfudge?): “Welcome to Chelsea’s world — a place where absurdity reigns supreme and a quick wit is the best line of defense. In this hilarious, deliciously skewed collection, Chelsea mines her past for stories about her family, relationships, and career that are at once singular and ridiculous.”

And if there is one thing I know, it is absurdity or ridiculousness…

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Filed under books

Oddball Cookbooks, a Soapbox & Kenny Chesney

At the last “party” I “hosted,” one of my “guests” remarked that I have a lot of oddball cookbooks.

Case in point: there’s Erica with my copy of “More of Jesus, Less of Me.”

This is a Christian guide to weight loss that I found at my junior class rummage sale at St. Andrew’s Episcopal (but my sister says, “Epispocal“) School in Ridgeland, Mississippi. When I first saw the title, I thought, “This is NOT about weight loss!” But it totally is a literal take on “less of me.”

The name “Kay Fant” is written in pencil on the very first page…so I can only assume this book once belonged to Ben Fant’s mom. (Ben was one of my classmates. My basketball coach used to tease him and ask him if he had a sister named Ella. I just looked him up on Facebook…and there’s a photo-less guy who is an Ole Miss grad, so it HAS to be him. But he has no friends. So I assume he doesn’t use it very often…and even if poor friendless Ben *does,* I never knew him well enough to be, like, his first friend.)

His mother’s spiritual guide to slimming down begins: “To all of God’s children who have been called Fatso, Tubby, or Two-by-Four, my fellow sufferers in life, especially those who have asked God to help them lose weight. I was an utter failure at weight loss until I found God’s way, and He asked me to share it with you.”

I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of this book. It’s like a peek into this whole other world where being fat is “no glory to God.” (But…there are testimonies in the back…so clearly it *has* worked for some people…and who am I to judge? Clearly not, well, Jesus. And…*that* is kind of ironic because my blended family went to a Christian therapist for a brief, shining moment in the great state of Mississippi. Classic stuff. We were assigned personality animals. I was a — wait for it — beaver. [Because I am hard-working and conscientious, they said.] And…to make a long story short, I had some issues with what was expected of me. And after the word “perfection” was bandied about, my Christian therapist said, “Oh, honey, the only person who was perfect in the history of time was Jesus Christ!” And it was like, “See? My point exactly. I am not Jesus.”)

But…back to oddball cookbooks.

Last week, I saw *another* cookbook at work…and couldn’t help myself: The Little Black Apron: A Single Girl’s Guide to Cooking with Style and Grace.

And, you know, I like cooking. And I’m totally a fan of learning new things. And I like to read. And I don’t even really take issue with chick lit all that much. (Hello, Bridget.)

And it’s my own stupid fault for opening the book anyway…because clearly what can be expected from something like this? (But, at the same time, it’s sort of this voyeuristic peek into another world…kind of like Christian weight loss…and how much fun have I had with that??)

But…the thing is that Christian weight loss isn’t really all that offensive. Crackpot, maybe. But not offensive-offensive. I mean, don’t get me wrong — I think it’s a totally crazy that the author had to ask her husband for permission to have an ice cream sundae on their anniversary…and he told her that it was between her and God, but if she really wanted one, he would buy it for her.

But THIS is essentially the kind of relationship that the authors of “The Little Black Apron” profess most young, single career girls are really waiting for while pretending to be professional and stuff:

“We know you exist because we’ve been exactly where you are…You’re a single girl who doesn’t know a can opener from a whisk. Deep down inside, however, you have dreams of living the domestic life and being an amazing mother and wife while residing in your newly remodeled Connecticut farmhouse. And, although you never admitted this openly, you already neurotically contemplate the day when you won’t be able to fix your three-year-old child a grilled-cheese sandwich…”

First things first, NO ONE is more neurotic than I am…but this begs sooo many questions…least of all which is: who on earth doesn’t know how to make grilled cheese sandwiches? Slice cheese. Butter bread. Put it in a pan. Grill one side until it starts to make noise. Flip it over. Repeat. Serve.

And I’m totally not saying that there’s anything *wrong* with wanting to be an amazing mother and wife (one might even argue that *I* have the same aspirations, making me quite hypocritical, indeed)…but — indulge me in a feminazi moment — it really irks me that this is ALL they say women want to do with their lives…when, in actuality, my dears…I would imagine there’s SO much more for a good chunk of the population.

But, okay, off the soapbox…

The less heated comment I have to make about this book is that it *also* kind of reminded me of a song in which the guy croons, he “(ate) burnt suppers the whole first year, / And (asked) for seconds to keep her from tearin‘ up…”

And I can’t embed the video from YouTube! But…if you’re into it: Kenny Chesney – The Good Stuff.

(You may recall that Mr. Chesney was the *real* Bridget‘s husband for a brief, shining moment. And everything comes full circle…)

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Filed under basketball, books, Bridget Jones, feminism, grilled cheese, Kenny Chesney, Mississippi, Ole Miss, weight loss

Letting You in on the Pickle Joke…

It’s not 2001 anymore and I am the only person left who cares about Bridget Jones (oh, Helen Fielding, it was as if you were writing about *me*! Except I don’t smoke. And I’m not 30. And The Edge of Reason was appalling.)


I went to a deli near my office (oops — almost got pre-nostalgic again…)…and was surprised and delighted to see British foodstuffs…including — wait for it — Branston pickle!

I know there are a number of stores in NY that sell British products and so had my yearning to track down Branston pickle been strong enough, I might have found it ages ago. (But I suppose it wasn’t.)

Nevertheless, I expressed awe and wonder to the coworker who was with me…and then explained that it is a sandwich spread and I am not a big sandwich person, but this made homemade sandwiches totally palatable to me — like magic — and this is actually the stuff that Bridget Jones eats straight from the jar toward the end of the movie when she thinks she is going to die alone. (My mom thought it was chocolate.)

So, to mark the occasion of my little British moment yesterday, I was *hoping* to find this scene on YouTube…or that it was in the video for the song that plays while she does it. But, sadly, no.

But other blogs mention it, too! Kind of like an inside British joke.

(Also interesting? She’s still making headlines. Sort of.)


Filed under Bridget Jones, British foods

Megan Fox’s Secret?

So…some of the elevators in my office building (well, “mine” for two more weeks) have TVs with intraelevator news…and I saw a blurb yesterday that said Megan Fox had to gain 10 pounds for a movie role. How’d she do it?

She ate red velvet cake every night before bed. (And this is actually huge news. Which is maybe…a little…wrong?)

Well, Megan,…I, too, hear red velvet cake’s siren call…[insert fat joke here?]

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Filed under cake, red velvet

If you have the time and access…I say, go for it.

It seems cheap to draw your attention to a NYT food story…because, well, it seems like they get a lot of play. But the chocolate chip cookie story last week *definitely* deserves a look, methinks: Perfection? Hint: It’s Warm and Has a Secret.

36 hours wait time? Intriguing…

Cake *and* bread flour? What a concept!

And that chocolate…my, oh, my.

(And I love the way the story ends…)

I wish *I* could do an experiment like that…but, in all honesty, the closest I will probably ever get to their recipe is holding off on baking the Toll House recipe for 3 days.

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Filed under chocolate, cookies