Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pre-Recipe Post: Slight NPR Fail & WAY Too Much Pizza

So I'm going to post about the "joys" of house hunting a little later on, but for now, some humor.

This first item came up on my Google Reader for NPR Research News.

Glad to see my fund drive dollars hard at work.

This second item turned up after a late night stop at B.O.P. in Fell's for a quick slice.

Yup, that would be 52 toppings for the low-low price of $179.00. The woman working the counter swore up and down that they sell a surprising number of those pies.


Recipes coming soon - happy Thursday, dudes!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Stuff White People Like: Marathons

My friend Suzanne sent this to me earlier today. If you haven't been to the Stuff White People Like web site yet, I recommend it highly. It's all in good fun.

The kicker is that the photo they used for this post if from the Baltimore Marathon...f*ckers.


#27 Marathons

In life, there are certain milestones of physical activity that can define you. A sub 5 second 40 yard dash, a 40 inch vertical leap and so forth. To a white person, the absolute pinnacle of fitness is to run a marathon. Not to win, just to run.

White people will train for months, telling everyone who will listen about how they get up early in the morning, they run when it rains, how it makes them feels so great and gives them energy.

When they finish the marathon, they will generally take a photo of themselves in a pair of New Balance sneakers, running shorts, and their marathon number with both hands over their head in triumph (seriously, look it up, this is universal).

They will then set goals like running in the Boston Marathon or the New York Marathon.

If you find yourself in a situation where a white person is talking about a marathon, you must be impressed or you will lose favor with them immediately. Running for a certain length of time on a specific day is a very important thing to a white person and should not be demeaned.

Also worth nothing, more competitive white people prefer triathlons because Kenyans can’t afford $10,000 specialty bicycles. If the subject ever comes up, just say that triathletes are in better shape than football and basketball players. It’s not true, but it will make the conversation a lot more genial.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dallas Recap: Haunted Hotels and Horror Movie Premieres

Oh it's good to be back coast-side. Nothing like travel to make you appreciate home, you know?

So, for those who work outside of the ever-exciting field of population demographics, April is generally the time of year that the Population Association of America holds its annual conference. This year, the conference took place in Dallas, Texas. And, yours truly was requested to attend for work.

Now, I've never actually been to Texas. I've driven through it, passing the world's largest crucifix, several chain gangs, and a handful of armadillos, but had yet to actually spend any significant amount of time in the state. Reports from friends about the area were, unfortunately, not very promising, and particular vitriol was saved especially for Dallas, so my expectations for the city were not too high by the time my plane touched down.

I'm happy to report that Dallas is not as tragic nor backwards as initial rumor indicated. Sure, the airport is far from convenient and the fundamental religious sect has no problem flaunting their crazy out in the open, but otherwise I had a pretty good time.

The conference hotel was booked before I could make a reservation, so I ended up staying at the Adolphus Downtown Hotel. It was cute! The hotel is pretty boutique-y (which I like), surprisingly affordable, serves high tea in the afternoon, and it was founded by Adolphus Busch of the Anheuser-Busch company (which I like even more). My room was a very nice suite with dining/lounge area, clean sheets and a well stocked minibar. Worked for me!

Unbeknownst to me, however, was the fact that the hotel seems to have some permanent guests. After chatting with a coworker who had roomed on a higher floor, I discovered that the Adolphus is apparently quite haunted. The epicenter of activity is the 19th floor, the previous location of the hotel ballroom. Guests often report hearing big band music or lots of chatter and movement in the halls, only to discover that there's nothing there. There's even a lady in white ghost (a bride who died after being jilted by her groom on their wedding day) who roams the building. My coworker complained that she heard voices outside her room, only to find an empty hallway upon closer inspection.

Now, I didn't experience any such thing. The oddest character I spotted
in the hotel was the bellhop who bore a more than passing resemblance to Elvis, and the only noise I heard was caused by a different type of unexplainable entity: a gaggle of teenage girls in town for national volleyball team tryouts. The horror...

But it wasn't all demography and ghosts. I did make it out to some of the surrounding Dallas neighborhoods. My boss and I headed to the West Village with a friend of her friends for dinner at Mi Cocina. When we got out of the taxi only to confront a huge group of photographers and a red carpet, we were a tad confused.

We made it into the restaurant and soon found out that the scene was part of a press junket for a movie premiere: Walking Distance. I still have no idea what the film is about, and we sat next to a pair of extras from it. We did find out that it's the first movie to feature Adrienne King (who played Alice in the original Friday the 13th), who hasn't been on screen in some 27 years as she was dealing with a particularly frightening stalker in real life.

But enough about horror movie fare: let's get back to the food! Mi Cocina is trendy, which is fine, but I'm more of a casual/neighborhood eats type diner. The margaritas were small, but potent, and the brisket tacos I ordered were pretty tasty, if a tad greasy. However, I was so hungry that I neglected to take a photo until I finally paused between bites and conversation.

It was good, trust me.

The next day I was mad-craving some southern-fried cuisine. I originally planned to head to South Dallas (per the recommendation of the baristas at Starbucks), but when I mentioned it to the concierge at the hotel, he looked concerned. Not the safest part of town, apparently. Instead, the non-Elvis resembling hotel staff directed me to a place called the Screen Door. The Screen Door specializes in nouveau southern cuisine. Whatever that means. I just wanted a hearty lunch.

Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed. Deciding to treat myself, I ordered the Fried Green Tomatoes for an appetizer. The dish came with a buttermilk chai sauce and the tomatoes also had bits of bacon/crispy ham sprinkled on top.

For my entree, I went for the big guns: Fried Chicken served with baked Macaroni & Cheese, gravy (on the side), a top of wilted greens. YAY!
The chicken was light and crispy, but a little dry - I still killed it. The mac n' cheese was heavy, but in the dessert-decadent kind of way. The gravy could have been a side dish. The greens I left alone, as they were way too salty to enjoy.

Afterwards, I rolled out of the restaurant and decided to walk a bit before heading back to the hotel. My original plan was to find a bookstore and browse a bit, but almost by accident I happened upon the quadrant of Dallas art museums. Sweet! I entered the Crow Collection of Asian Art, since it was the first building and entry is free. It's not the largest collection by any means, but still pretty impressive. There were several paintings by Yang Jin Long, a Chinese artist whose work looks like something Chagall would have created if he had really been into anime. The museum also houses a substantial exhibition of jade pieces from various parts of Asian landscape:
It's a 16th century back scratcher from India made from jade, gold, and precious jewels. Seriously.

I wish I had another night in town because the museum has some late night events, like sake tastings, that sound like a good time. Across the street from the Crow Collection is the Nasher Sculpture Center. Not free, unfortunately, but exceedingly affordable. Just $10 to see this museum - for an additional $6 you can also check out the Dallas Museum of Art.

Anywho, when you enter the Nasher you are immediately greeted by some interactive installation art by Jaume Plensa, who has a special exhibit (Genus and Species) currently showing. You have to walk through the first piece, Song of Songs III & IV, to move through the museum. The piece consists of metal letters, which spell out Allen Ginsberg's Howl (you know, the "I saw the best minds of my generation" piece), strung and hung vertically from the ceiling and hanging to the floor. The letters are actually chimes, so you inevitably make music as
you cross through.
I crossed through several times because, well, it was fun, and people didn't seem to mind. One of the security guards approached me as I returned from the sculpture garden (in the back of the building - also stunning) and instead of kicking me out as I feared, he noted that I should be in some photos rather than taking them and offered to take some of me as a kind gesture. Southern hospitality at it's best, let me tell ya!


I was quickly running out of time and did not, unfortunately, have the freedom of schedule to check out the Dallas Museum of Art. So I settled for taking a photo of east entrance of the building.

Yeah, I don't get it either. But it's pretty.

So that's Dallas in a nutshell. Hater stop hatin' - it's not nearly so bad. You just have to be willing to taxi out of the downtown area a bit.

On a separate note, Happy Earth Day to everyone! Have you hugged and/or recycled your tree today? :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pre-post Dallas Entry: Oven Fried Chicken &Oven Roasted Broccoli

Have you ever had the feeling you were just holding on to your sanity by a little thread-bare string? That's what this month has felt like. I don't know about y'all, fellow bloggers, but I have spent the past few weeks apparently playing the April Fool. Hubby and my latest folly? Attempting to buy a house. Talk about running your head into a wall. Repeatedly.

House hunting has been an adventure in many, many things, not the least of which is the wide range in size and quality of kitchen and dining areas. Slightly moldy one-person dining nooks with broken cabinetry all the way to full family-sized kitchens with brand spanking new stainless steel appliances.

While I've been accused in the past of being bourgy (not without merit), I'll happily take a kitchen that falls somewhere in the middle. Tony just wants something with a dishwasher.

In either case, we'll both take something that can handle one of my more regularly rotated recipes: Oven Fried Chicken (served with Oven Roasted Broccoli).

I heart fried chicken, but it's a pain in the rear to make (and Lord knows I can do without the calories), so this much lightened version does great in a pinch. And, it's easy to tweak: You like spice? Add some hot sauce to the liquid mix. Forget to check and make sure that you have enough Melba toast for coating? Substitute a healthy dose of corn meal. The broccoli, which all but cooks itself after the chicken finishes, provides a toasty, slightly sweet accompaniment.

I'll post photos of some of my adventures in Dallas later (which include Southern fried chicken), as I am still technically on the road for work. I'll also be posting about my first little give away. Can you stand the excitement??

Time to return to the grind. Happy baking! Oh, and feel free to send along any tips/suggestions for getting back to my zen. Or, you know, to just get to a point where I stop gnawing off my nails.
Oven Fried Chicken
(Courtesy of Cook's Illustrated Best Light Recipes)

If you prefer to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of the bone-in variety, simply reduce the cooking time to 25 minutes.

1 box plain Melba toast (about 5 ounces), broken into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 large egg whites

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 split bone-in chicken breasts (about 10 ounces each), trimmed and skin removed

Vegetable cooking spray

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top. Process the Melba toast into coarse crumbs in a food processor, about twelve 1-second pulses. Spread the crumbs in a shallow dish and toss with the oil.

  2. In a separate shallow dish, whisk the egg whites, mustard, thyme, garlic powder, and cayenne together.

  3. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Working with one piece of chicken at time, dip it into the egg white mixture, then coat with the Melba crumbs. Press on the Melba crumbs to make sure they adhere to the chicken. Lay the chicken on the wire rack and spray the tops with vegetable oil spray.

  4. Bake until the coating is golden, the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and the thickest part registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 40 minutes. Serve immediately.

NOTE: Coating the Chicken

To make Melba toast crumbs, place the toasts in a heavy-duty plastic freezer bag, seal, and pound with a meat pounder or other heavy blunt object. Leave some crumbs the size of pebbles in the mixture.

Oven Roasted Broccoli For 2
(From January 2008 issue of Cook's Illustrated)

1 lb broccoli (1/2 large bunch

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

¼ tsp table salt

¼ tsp sugar

Ground black pepper

Lemon wedges for serving
  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place large rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Cut broccoli at juncture of florets and stems; remove outer peel from stalk. Cut stalk into 2- to 3-inch lengths and each length into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Cut crowns into 4 wedges if 3-4 inches in diameter or 6 wedges if 4-5 inches in diameter. Place broccoli in large bowl; drizzle with oil and toss well until evenly coated. Sprinkle with salt, sugar, and pepper to taste and toss to combine.
  2. Working quickly, remove baking sheet from oven. Carefully transfer broccoli to baking sheet and spread into even layer, placing flat sides down. Return baking sheet to oven and roast until stalks are well browned and tender and florets are lightly browned, 9 to 11 minutes. Transfer to serving dish and serve immediately with lemon wedges.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Web Distractions

Honest to gawd I will post a new recipe soon (life has been a tad hectic/blog prohibitive as of late). In the meantime, enjoy some web videos that have been adding to my distraction!

(p.s. You might need to pop out the videos to get the full screen to show...)

Uploaded by onemoreprod. - Independent web videos.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What to do with those post-Easter goodies

Once again I am being a slack blogger, but fear not: I have something to tide you over until my next post.

I came across this little number via Tastespotting. While I initially had to suppress my gag reflex, it actually doesn't sound that bad.

...Of course, this is coming from someone who's split a fried Snickers with someone in the past.

Happy belate Holy Zombie Day! Enjoy!!


Deep Fried Cadbury Caramel Eggs
(Recipe and Photos courtesy of Culinary Concoctions by Peabody)

6-8 Cadbury Caramel Eggs (frozen)
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
2 TBSP dark brown sugar
1 TBSP Lyle’s Golden Syrup
1 ¼ cup flour
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

In a deep skillet, heat about four cups of oil over medium-high heat until hot.
Test the temperature by dropping a pinch of flour into the hot oil. If it sizzles right away without smoking, it’s perfect.