I read but haven't posted comments on the SFist great burrito debate, currently raging. Would I say the San Diego burrito is better? No. It is different and good, though.
I read but haven't posted comments on the SFist great burrito debate, currently raging. Would I say the San Diego burrito is better? No. It is different and good, though.
Ingredients: Best Foods mayo, refried beans, mashed or sliced avocado, lettuce, pickled jalapenos, shredded pork butt, tomato and/or salsa. A soft (pick it up and check, or ask if it's soft) roll from a panaderia works best. We bought twenty rolls for five dollars in the Mission. Be sure to not slice the roll all the way through. Otherwise, you may have a mess that will only get worse if you try and pick it up.
Another bonus with making carnitas for tortas is the meat and salsa taste even better the next day.
OK, watching the Sneaky Chef on TV yesterday morning didn't really make me puke, but I was seriously sick. Sick that someone in the media spotlight feels it's okay to enslave oneself to a frickin' blender or food processor in the name of healthy eating. Or that she'd put spinach and blueberries in brownies. Wrong, wrong, wrong!
Sneaky Chef is an attractive female chef who decided to always puree veggies and other "good stuff" and sneak it into her children's food. Oh yeah, she also has a book and classes for other parents who want to be sneaky. She puts these gross looking purees in muffins, doughs, with pasta, mac-&-cheese, and other weird combos. What nutritionist feels that children should be regularly consuming meals that are nearly in a pre-digested state (she used words to this effect)? Mmmm-hmmm.
I don't have a problem with being sneaky, but find it weird that one has to go that far just to include some veggies in a meal. This sets up a host of problems: a lot of work just to hide veggies, with no end in sight. By pureeing everything, a child will never feel he or she has to try new and different vegetables. There are so many easier ways to prepare tasty and healthy food than this sneaky approach.
Sure, it's easy for me to judge because that's what I do. I don't yet have a child and in theory haven't experienced the difficulties there, but I have many family members and friends who have offered a variety of veggies (and fruits, whole grains, etc.) to their kids. Overall results are young eaters with an interest in new and different foods, no puree needed. Eating should have a sense of adventure to it, rather than be a way to cut corners and sneak things past others.
The other weird thing with the Sneaky Chef is she uses those purees all the time. That may be okay for baby food. Other exceptions: in elder care facilities, and for folks who are for medical reasons no longer able to eat firmly textured foods. Sneaky Chef is creating a generation of kids who don't know what good and healthy eating is, and who will be loathe to try and prepare things on their own. It also has a smarmy, self involved whiff of spoiled brattiness to it.
This past Saturday morning, I was hoping to score some asparagus at the Noe Valley Farmer's Market. My brother gave me tips on a new cooking technique that I was aching to try. As soon as people start talking about spring and/or Easter menus and I see hot cross buns at Dianda's, my thoughts inevitably turn to asparagus. A favorite brunchy type menu for this time of year is quiche or frittata, asparagus, ham with all the fixings, and hot cross buns.
At the market, I already had chili lemon pistachios, apples, oranges, and some jalapeno cheddar bread. Most of the stalls were closing up, because it was 12:59 p.m. I hurried over to a table with asparagus. "I'll take this one," I said, and started to dig through my pocket for money.
"Nine dollars," I was told. I thought I had misheard the guy working the stall.
"I'm sorry? Did you say nine dollars?" I asked.
He looked bored and said flatly, "Yes. It's six a pound. This is a pound and a half. Nine dollars."
I just couldn't do it. "I'm sorry. Never mind," I said. I kept saying to myself, "Nine dollars?" in my head. His prices were in line with one of my favorite organic markets, which listed asparagus at $5.95. I'm waiting for the prices to drop, and hope they do in time for Easter.
These aren't the best looking blueberry pancakes I've ever made, but they did taste pretty good. I would definitely not send them out to a paying customer. Making the pancakes with frozen rather than fresh, room temp berries presented an interesting mystery. I defrosted the blueberries in the microwave for twenty seconds. They were smaller and seemed to ooze a lot more water than fresh berries. If think if I let them defrost in the skillet, the watery mess would still happen. Perhaps I should let them thaw to room temp and then use. More (tasty) experiments are in order.
Hangi (pronounced hung-ee) is a unique Maori way of cooking that is native to New Zealand. "Good tucker" aptly applies here, which means "good eats," and "good eating." A hangi is an event and a process. As an event, it's a reason for a social party revolving around the presentation and eating of food.
The hangi method is steaming and smoking meats and root vegetables and can be done two ways. Hangi food -- lamb shoulder, lamb leg roast, pork roast and a muslin bag of squash, onion, potato, kumara (a sweet potato), herbs, salt and pepper -- is wrapped in huge cabbage leaves and placed in an underground pit with hot rocks, where it is covered and cooked.
Considering we drank beer every day on our three week vacation (like the Kiwis we were with), a beer-related hangi seemed apropos. This updated modern hangi happens in, you guessed it, a revamped beer keg. According to our hosts, Paul and Marie Whiting of Simpsons Beach, the beer keg hangi saves a lot of headaches. They had attended hangis using the underground method where the (drunk) cooks on duty opened the cooking pit too early. Once all that precious steam and heat escapes, there is not another chance to re-do it, which leads to undercooked meat and hungry, frustrated guests. Other factors effect the underground hangi: changes in weather, and not getting the rocks used for heating hot enough.
A propane tank is the heat source for the keg hangi. Next comes two kinds of New Zealand tree sawdust that are mixed and added to the keg base. The hangi is lit and heated for 30-45 minutes. Water is then poured on the dust, which provides the steam action. Veggies should be halved and the cabbage leaves rinsed. A basket will hold the hangi cabbage (first layer), followed by meats and veggies. The veggies pick up a meaty smokiness to them from laying on top of the meat.
How did the hangi taste three hours later? Smoky, tender, juicy, and hearty. The meats all had the texture of braised pork, and were succulent. It was a simple, straightforward meal. My favorite bites were of farm fresh lamb, onion, and kumara. Of course, every gathering needs a sweet ending. Ours came in the way of a pavlova made by the hosts' 78-year old Mum, and a carrot cake by my aunt.
Oscar and I stayed late enough to watch Merle Haggard and other country western legends on a DVD from the early seventies. Paul couldn't believe we "young folks" knew many of the songs. He was having so much fun, he offered a room for us to stay in, which we should've done. I was too hung up on having a tooth brush, face medicine, and jammies to accept. I'm guessing we missed a chance to continue drinking, listening to music and talking. I wish we had stayed over.
The Edinburgh Castle has an interesting haggis event this Saturday. I love the Castle. I started drinking there when I was a student at the California Culinary Academy, because it's within stumbling distance. The Tenderloin location (complete with the occasional pot smell near the door) has an old feel to it. There's lots of wood, dim lights, and an ample adult beverage selection. We have most of our Litquake meetings there, and Alan Black makes sure there is a year round roster of book, music, and other cultural happenings.
I haven't yet tried haggis. But this might be the perfect chance.
13th annual BURNS NIGHT 2007
Saturday January 20, 8pm, $10 door
No, not Scottish cannonballs but
Ingredients are a State Secret in but leaks suggest that a sheep's stomach filled with magic potions is oozing deliciously from the sides.
Now's your chance to fight for a small piece of haggis.
Come and celebrate the poems, songs and life of 's national poet, the great Robert Burns
HAGGIS, BAGPIPES, POEMS, RANTS, WHISKY
FREE BUFFET OF NORMAL FOOD
IT'S THE CASTLE'S BIGGEST PARTY OF THE YEAR.
I have several New Zealand updates that will be up asap. Sure, it's sad to end a vacation, but I have a thrilling three day event to kick things off.
Soon, I will be taking home many goodies from the Winter Fancy Food show. It takes place at the Moscone Center, starting this weekend. This is my third year at the show, and the last day of the show is always a thrill. Not only will I be able to see and sample what's new in the marketplace, I can fill my bag(s) and head home. Let the feastin' begin!
From my employer:
Thank you for accepting the demo positin for the Winter Fancy Food Show at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Show hours are 10:00 am - 5:00 pm on Sunday, January 21 and Monday January 22 and 10:00 am - 4 pm on Tuesday, January 23. Please arrive at least 1/2 hour prior to the opening of the show.
Our booth is #REDACTED in the REDACTED hall. Your badge to gain admittance to the show will be available at the Exhibitor Badge Pick-up Desk. You will need a photo ID (the badge is under your name c/o REDACTED). There might be a long line the first day of the show so please plan on getting to the convention center around 9:00 AM. With the exhibitor badge, you can gain access to the show floor prior to 10:00 am. Please wear a white top, black pants and comfortable shoes. We will provide an apron and all supplies for the demo. You will be responsible for the set up of your demo station, sampling and clean up at the end of the day.
The rate of $REDACTED per hour will be issued in the form of a check approximately three weeks after the close of the show. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at REDACTED. I can be reached at the REDACTED hotel once I arrive in San Francisco, on my cell phone at REDACTED.
In order to feel like a good houseguest, I always bring goodies. I try and cater it to the host's desires: wine for the oenophile, fiery sauces for fellow hot heads, etc.
We are getting ready to visit family in Whitianga, New Zealand. My relatives used to live in the Seattle area, and seem to miss Costco, among many other things. I offered to bring whatever they need, and here are their picks:
-64 ounce Yoshida sauce. While the Yoshida brand sounds familiar, Smart & Final did not carry any of it. After asking the S&F staff (friendly and helpful, yes!) if they had a good substitute, and getting a truthful "we don't carry it and I don't know what the ingredients are," it was time for further action. I reluctantly bugged Oscar at work so he could Google Yoshida. After he read me the Yoshida line of teriyaki sauces to me, I picked a substitute: Kikkoman's Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce, the Original Teriyaki.
-Any sort of hot sauces. No need to Google that, although a Hot Sauce blog query would've helped. I selected Tapatio, Sriracha, Trappey's Red Devil Cayenne Pepper Sauce, and The Original "Louisiana" The Perfect Hot Sauce, One Drop Does It. All of these items will be carefully wrapped and placed in a box, rather than in my suitcase. I will write my relatives' address, in case the box goes missing en route. That's also a great way to guarantee I won't have clothes dripping with hot red goo.
-They asked for 5 lbs. of Columbian whole bean coffee, but they're getting 6 lbs. total. That's 4 lbs. of whole bean Peerless Hawaiian Island blend, and 2 lbs. of the Peerless Sunrise Blend.
-Life Cereal. My cousins have always loved this stuff. I hope 62 ounces gets them by for a good while.
Where's my clone when I need her? I am pining for a trip to Brisbane, to visit the Village Imports warehouse sale starting tomorrow. Sausages, wine, oils, vinegars, herbs, lemonade, cured meats, alcoholic cider, chocolates, and cheeses, come to Momma!
One tip I picked up from my last shopping excursion there? On Friday, it's possible to "beat the crowds" by hitting the warehouse after 5 p.m. A super helpful clerk told me that everyone rushes on Friday to be there between 2 to around 4:45 p.m., and after that, it is more of a breeze. Less of a wait in line (wear a wool beret and bring an intellectual book or newspaper to really fit in), fewer people, all around better. The problem of 280 or 101 traffic once you pay and load up your car? Well, you'll just have to eat a cheese and chocolate snack before you hit the road. Believe me, it is worth the time and traffic to get all that Euro loot.
Below is the text of an email Village Imports sent me.
Just a friendly reminder that Made in France / Village Imports
is holding a gourmet food and wine warehouse sales on:
- Friday November 17th from 02:00pm to 06:00pm
- Saturday November 18th from 08:30am to 01:30pm
Are you ready for Thanksgiving?
Looking forward to seeing you.
The Team at Made in France / Village Imports
This message is an advertisement from Village Imports. You may opt-out from receiving future messages about our
open warehouse events by Clicking Here. Village Imports will respectfully comply with your
request within 24 hours. Village Imports understands the importance you place on the privacy of information
that personally identifies you. You may access our Privacy Statement and read
how Village Imports considers the responsible use of personal information to be
an essential element in respecting your privacy.
©2006 Village Imports, . All Rights Reserved.
I like this getting up early thing, for now. I don't usually have a sleep schedule. Unless I have an early job to take care of, the desire and ability to awake and get things done as early as 5:30 or 6 a.m. simply doesn't happen.
So far, I finished reading the fascinating book The United States of Arugula, review forthcoming. My hands smell like rosemary that I foraged from my parents garden this morning. Getting one huge grocery bag of long, fresh rosemary branches makes me giddy: the recipe and bath options are endless! I also watched the various kinds of birds that have free run of their back yard garden as they'd swoop in, drink red nectar, or sit on the telephone wires, chirping and swawking. Perversity, their petite black and white skittish family cat, did her "hit the deck" move for me as she shimmied and belly rolled in some plants. I am so often rushed and hurried back in San Francisco that I don't seek or take time for quiet like this. Also, I wish we could have a cat but pesky landlord rules and poor Oscar's allergies rule that out. All the more reason to visit Benicia when I can.
Litquake opens tomorrow night at the Regency Center. There will be musicians, spoken word, handsome boys, and more. How does this relate to food? Like many fun things in life, it turns out it's all about the food. Le Scoop? Unless we hear back from some potential in-kind donors, I may cater myself. 'Cause really, why would I want to read United States of Arugula, put away laundry and dye my hair (change is a good thing, doll) when I can be in the kitchen? I must be in super loquita mode to take on this challenge.
I have my list, and checked it thrice. In order to produce pulled pork sandwiches, fruit and cheese plates for around 100 folks, a plan of attack is in order. Here's the grand shakedown for the Litquake lowdown:
-18 to 20 pounds pork shoulder
-BBQ Sauce (to be doctored up)
-100 to 150 cocktail napkins
-Trays (for serving)
-Ti leaves or other garnish (I have some nice, fresh herbs as back up, but like to put ti leaves or pretty cabbage/green leaves down first)
-100 rolls (Mission La Reyna panaderia, here I come)
-Fruit-grapes are a must.
The shopping excursions will start later this afternoon. Prep and cooking commences tonight or at the crack of dawn, tomorrow. That really depends on if I decide to go with an orange juice-garlic marinade. I may even document this adventure by way of digital photos, if I can.
Hermosa/Manhattan Beach bachelorette update(s) will arrive soon.
"The tamales in the Mission are better," my Mom said last night over dinner. She had a point. When I visit my family in Benicia, I usually try to bring food offerings. Tamales from La Loma Produce in the Mission are one favorite. Because no tamale should ever be served naked, I also pick up lime, avocado, jalapeno, sour cream, radishes and/or cabbage, and salsa ingredients.
Even the best of plans can sometimes be foiled.
Shit Life happens. Yesterday, the clock got the best of me. I decided to scratch my usual La Loma Mission stop and instead find a good tamale source in Concord or Pleasant Hill later in the afternoon. Leaving La Loma behind meant I would be on time for fiery Attitude Rolls and other sushi at Jo's Sushi with my brother, Josh, and his friend, Sean Finn.
After a relaxing and satisfying sushi lunch, Josh and I decided Willow Pass Road would net some good possibilities. We both used to eat at Las Montanas Restaurant, but it had been some time since either of us checked it out. Although I used to cruise and party in East Bay towns in my teen and young-ish adult years, food or social visits (anytime of the day) aren't as frequent these days.
We finally found the front door of a huge and pleasant surprise: Las Montanas Market. It's bigger than any Latino market I've been to in the City. I was excited to have more space to walk and shop. Josh and I were easily the tallest and whitest folks in the Market, and received some curious but friendly and amused looks. Listening to the chatter around us, I correctly guessed the market would be a great place to practice and improve my Peggy Hill style Spanish.
There's a food service counter in the Market, but I was looking for a steam table with tamales. (In the Mission, the tamales are usually behind a counter or near the cash register). Success! It was a self serve steam table with 2 compartments and lids. There was a sign that said chicken, pork or sweet corn tamales were available. At $1.50 a pop, they cost the same as most Mission spots.
"No tongs here," Josh said, as I lifted the left side lid. There were stacks of Mexican tamales, and the tamale steam facial smelled great, even if it made me feel hotter in the 90 plus degree heat. There was a pair of tongs in the right side compartment. Figuring out which tamale was which was a bit puzzling, because the three kinds seemed to be mixed together. I wanted 5 pork, 5 chicken, and 2 sweet corn. The way to tell if you are picking a pork tamale is it is usually (not always) darker than chicken, and has orange hues.
Once I had my stash, I decided to look for sour cream (I already had picked up avocados that morning). Although Las Montanas is large and seemed to have many fresh items, I wasn't able to find sour cream. I didn't ask for help or look too hard, because I was pretty tired and hot. As we walked, Josh would look at and pick up items like tamarind, hibiscus flowers, dried corn, and more. I could tell the stuff was interesting and different to him. I offered some explanations on the ingredients, but we were somewhat in a hurry because of the heat and wanting to hopefully "beat the crowds" (the 'rents use this term a lot) of traffic on the Benicia Bridge. We didn't spend much time looking and shopping, which I usually like to do.
The reason my Mom felt the tamales in the Mission are better? The ones from Las Montanas were tasty but a bit dry. A little mental review helped me figure out why. Most Mission area tamales are individually wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in a steam table, where they stay warm and moist. The plastic wrap traps the moisture. Las Montanas' tamales were not plastic wrapped, and the air dried them out. I would still gladly use Las Montanas as a "home away from home" ingredient and meat resource. But, I have to check if the no-plastic wrap is always the tamale procedure there. Maybe yesterday was some sort of fluke.
Las Montanas Market
1725 Willow Pass Road
Concord, CA 94520
When I was freelancing and juggling several jobs, I somehow had the leisurely time for what I came to think of as the Tartine experiments. As in, let's see if I can succeed in not getting frustrated at Tartine. One foggy Wednesday afternoon at 2:30, I guessed to myself, "Surely this will be the day when I can go in, order without waiting, and sit in the coveted corner table by the espresso stand that so alludes me." Images of leisurely eating and coffee drinking filled my head.
Alas, even when I mixed it up a little and changed the days and times of my visit, I'd get stuck in a ten plus person line, craning my neck to see which Tartine treats were in stock. The food kept me coming back, but I felt the Tartine experiments were somewhat of a failure. It's frustrating as hell to place an order with one gal (yes, the Tartine staff seem to be young hot, hipster gals. Do any boys work there?), and then repeat the order to a different gal at the register. If you're ordering for a big group or to go, the chaos only multiplies.
Yesterday, I offered to pick up pastries for work. Not a selfless move, don't be fooled. It's all about the cravings for this one! There are reports of an express counter that's in the works, but I knew it isn't yet ready. I drive and walk by often, after all. The smells tempt, the lines deter. I decided to try the Tartine online order form, which is slightly ridiculous in its assumption that people order at least 48 hours in advance. I'd understand 24 hours but 48? Online? Is it 1999? They specify on the site that Tartine will call to get your credit card number and only then is your order confirmed. There was no call back and I didn't give them 48 hours notice, so I knew the chances were dicey that a big box of pastries would be ready.
It was 8:10, so the line was only 4 deep. I'll take it! It took almost ten minutes from start to finish to order the pastries, watch the gal pack them up, tell the counter gal I had 12 pastries, get rung up, and fill up my coffee. For this experiment, I rewarded myself with a morning bun with sticky sugar and Cinnamon and lovely hints of orange. It's my go-to Tartine item, but I sometimes mix it up and get a chocolate or almond croissant. Sitting on the sidewalk (due to no tables inside) breathing exhaust fumes and watching people rush by suited me just fine. The Delfina guys were washing down the sidewalk, getting ready for the big weekend. The wait ended up being worth it: the dozen pastries were a hit. In the afternoon, I did the most indulgent thing, and sampled half, then all of one of the famed Tartine gougeres. Savory, peppery, cheesey deliciousness.
Had I known the giant sandwiches from That's It Torta were each going to be bigger than my outstrethed hand and cost $10 each, I would've ordered just one to share. I was hungry, hot, and dazed and stumbled on the idea of a torta dinner for two while leaving Walgreen's on Mission at 23rd Street. I learned an important lesson, too late: ask how big a torta cubana is before ordering. Tortas can come in different sizes, depending on bread size and type.
Since Oscar's grandmother is Cuban, I figured he'd enjoy the Cuban version of a torta and that it would probably be familiar. We'd already heard great things about the store's torta cubana from a beefy looking bartender at the simply titled BAR next door (if you live in the Mission, you've probably seen BAR's red on black sign). Turns out the torta cubana is at least two meals in one- a huge monster, weighed down with a delicious mix of: pickled jalapeno, grilled onion, tomato, avocado slices, lettuce, two fried eggs, bacon, mayo, queso, sliced ham & chicken, Mexican chorizo, shredded chicken and pork, refried beans, and cubed ham.
The best part about That's It Torta is pulling up a stool and watching the senora work her magic. Her food prep area takes up 1/4 of a liquor store, where folks of all ages stream in and out buying Lotto tickets, sodas, candy, and Spanish magazines. One wondered aloud in Spanish if Castro was dead yet. No? Shrugs and sighs all around. Sweet and savory meat smells filled the air as each layer was prepared. Much of the chorizo's fat drained away on the hot griddle. I sipped a bottle of water while I waited, since I had a grumbling stomach and sudden hunger headache. I should've guessed that hunger would soon be easily obliterated by one torta.
We were in for too much food. She cracked four eggs and continued working. Gulp. Oscar didn't know I was bringing these babies home-I hoped he hadn't dug into his favorite meal: a gourmet peanut butter & jelly sandwich! Although there are many ingredients, the senora is a pro at keeping it all stacked up just so as she works. Carrying the tortas home, it felt like five pounds worth of food. Eating the torta cubana turned out to be a drippy, juicy, meaty, heavy affair, but a happy and satisfying effort. A four or five napkin minimum is required, as well as a plate to eat over. Using a fork and a knife helps when you first dig in, but it's fun to hold the torta up to bite once you are able to. The torta cubana tasted out of this world served cold for lunch the next day, with hot, strong coffee. I strolled around the block to decrease the fullness of my belly, which barely helped.
There are many other sandwich and breakfast options at That's It Torta. I can't wait to work through the menu, and eat a torta at the counter while watching the Mission world go by. Make sure you have ample room in your belly. This may very well be the biggest sandwich in the City.
That's It Torta, Mission at 23rd.
Attending a recent high school reunion got me thinking about what I ate during those years. At home, we had fettucini alfredo, roast chicken, BBQ and other comfort food, all from scratch. But lunch was another world. Mind you, I wasn't obsessed with food in those days. My focus was on dorky endeavors: Key Club meetings, modern rock, canned food drives, crushes (never coming to fruition), band colorguard practice, newspaper writing, and ample quantities of sleep.
Because a cafeteria lunch cost $1.50, my Mom gave me two dollars a day allowance. Those high school lunches were greasy and institutional: pizza sandwich (my favorite), deep fried chicken fingers, tater tots, and no vegetables that I can remember. Grease spots were visible on the plates, and I usually had no trouble eating my way through a cafeteria lunch. They never provoked any swoons from anyone.
There were a few other lunch options besides waiting in line and eating on campus. I'd usually take a bag lunch one or two days a week. It's easier to appreciate how nice Mom was now. She'd pack us nutritious and filling grub: peanut butter or meat sandwiches, fruit, and the occasional cookie. Most kids I knew packed their own lunch occasionally, and were allowed to grub on sodas, chips, and candy. Yes, Mom's lunches were good for me, but usually screamed "hippie granola fare" to the casual observer. As a skinny, pimply, tall gal, I wanted as little attention as possible.
I went off campus for lunch at every chance. It wasn't just what the seniors did, it was pure teenage freedom: an hour in a car with friends to blast music, gossip, and laugh. My posse was also on limited budgets, so we sought out favorites to fill up on the cheap. There were a handful of fast food places that were swarmed by kids because they offered the most food, quickly made, for the lowest price. Healthy, balanced meals were the furthest thing from my mind.
Below, what I ate then and the adult version I eat today. It's hard to believe this was the fuel for all my teen activities.
Little Caesar's Crazy Bread: Carb filler only a skinny teen could love! Crazy Bread is a hot, huge bag of warm toasty long bread sticks with faux butter and garlic flavors. I loved dipping the crazy bread in the accompanying chunky pizza sauce, and licking my buttery fingers. It made the car smell like a bakery, and filled me up so much I would be in a daze for fifth period. We got mad our senior year, because Little Caesar's started charging more for less bread, but would just order an extra bag. Today's version: thick crust pizza from Zachary's. No skimping on good stuff with Zachary's, and it has meat and cheese!
"Taco Hell" Bean Burritos with cheese, hold the onions: this was the best bargain around since two bean burritos could be had for the bargain basement price of ninety-nine cents. Garnishment: two squeezes of lame, weak hot sauce from those annoying, sometimes mysteriously sticky (germ alert!) plastic packets. No wonder those beans tasted so good: our friend who worked there told us they cut the beans with almost half lard. Today's version: super veggie burrito from Taqueria San Jose, which comes with beans, avocado, tomato, sour cream, cheese, and rice optional. What a burrito should be. When I make beans at home, I like to use cumin, garlic, coriander, cayenne, and onion for good flavor.
Subway Roast Beef sandwich: we'd use coupons and split a 12" sub with the works. My favorite part was watching them put the finishing touch of oil, vinegar, salt and pepper on. Sometimes, it came with a brownie, chips and drink. I'd usually give my friend the soda and chips as long as I could have some of that brownie. Today's version: meat subs from Lucca Ravioli, with all meat, a little cheese, and soft, fresh bread.
What did you eat in high school? Did you pack your lunch (or have a sweet family member who did it for you)? Do you now eat adult versions of those same meals?
Beer Can Chicken can be a fun and quirky way to get tasty results: tender, moist, flavorful chicken. It's quirky because the two-thirds full beer can goes into the chicken's cavity or butt area while cooking. Not everyone wants to see a beer can chicken at the actual dinner table, which is understandable. That may be a little to bounty hunter/cave man for me. I'm after the cooking method rather than visual results.
The first time I gave some to my parents, my Mom called a day later. "What did you DO to that chicken?" she marvelled in hushed tones, adding it was "so good." She's had a lifetime of great chicken via my Dad, the BBQ Master. I held her compliment (said quietly into the phone so as to not rock the marital boat) in high regard.
Oscar and I were assigned entree duty for a potluck for twenty-two people. We decided on beer can chicken over A16's meatballs, or any other dish. The chicken won out because I knew it would hold at room temperature. Keep in mind estimated versus actual eating time can be a huge unknown when going to house parties. Our entree had to look and taste good for at least an hour and a half, and I wasn't sure how many people ate red meat. Plus, cooking beer can chicken gave us a good story to tell, which helped because I barely knew any of the other potluck guests.
We were one of the first to arrive, and took the foil off of our platter. The plump, moist chicken looked pretty good, and I did a garnish of purple cabbage leaves, with alternating orange and citrus slices underneath the chicken. There was good variety, too: pulled chicken bites, wings and legs to choose from. Something funny happened as the other dishes were put out. Everyone brought store bought chicken, including a KFC carton and roaster from Cala. Even a salad was, you guessed it, Chinese chicken salad, in a plastic to go container. I imagined a voiceover that said in soothing tones, "Chicken, the safe, safe entree for San Francisco dinner potlucks."
"Oscar, I can't believe it! We are the only ones who made our dish," I whispered to him on the deck, adding slightly panicked, "I think our chicken needs salt."
"There's salt here, if people want to salt, let 'em do it," he said. I picked another piece of chicken off our plate and was convinced it needed salt. I never found any salt, but our beer can chicken display kept getting smaller and smaller, so I stopped worrying. There were only a few pieces for us to take home. I was glad I stuck to my guns and cooked four rather than three beer can chickens.
Beer Can Chicken Recipe-loosely adapted from http://www.barbecuebible.com
1 can (12 ounces) Tecate beer (feel free to substitute other beer)
1 chicken (31/2 to 4 pounds)
2 tablespoons Barbecue Rub (recipe below) or your favorite commercial rub
2 teaspoons avocado or vegetable oil (Note avocado oil works well at high temps)
1 lime per bird
You’ll also need: A hotel or sheet pan to place the chicken on. A large cast iron skillet will also work.
Heat oven to 450 degrees.
Pop the tab off the beer can. Pour one third of the beer (3/4 cup) into a bowl, or reserve for another use (drinking it is of course a great way to go). If cooking the chicken on the can, using a church key-style can opener, make 2 additional holes in its top. Set the can of beer aside. Remove the packet of giblets from the body cavity of the chicken and set aside for another use (cat food!). Remove and discard the fat just inside the body and neck cavities. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold running water and then drain and blot dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Be sure the skin is dry, so that it will brown evenly.
Sprinkle the rub under the skin, inside the body cavity and 1/2 teaspoon inside the neck cavity of the chicken. Drizzle the oil over the outside of the bird and rub or brush it all over the skin. Sprinkle the outside of the bird with 1 tablespoon of rub and rub it all over the skin. Spoon the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of rub into the beer through a hole in the top of the can. Don’t worry if the beer foams up: This is normal.
Hold the bird upright, with the opening of the body cavity at the bottom, and lower it onto the beer can so the can fits into the cavity. Try not to laugh at how floppy the bird may initially be. Pull the chicken legs forward to form a sort of tripod, so the bird stands upright. The rear leg of the tripod is the beer can. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lime over the top of the bird. Stuff the half lime in the bird's neck. If cooking on a roaster (which I don't feel is needed): Fill it with the beer mixture and position the chicken on top, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Tuck the tips of the wings behind the chicken’s back. Cook the chicken until the skin is a dark golden brown and very crisp and the meat is cooked through (about 180°F on an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a thigh, but not touching the bone), one hour to one and a half hours. If you see white foam at the bottom of the chicken while cooking, do not worry. Also, if the chicken skin starts to brown too much, loosely tent the bird with aluminum foil.
Take the chicken out of the over and allow to rest for ten minutes or until cool enough to handle. Carefully lift it off its support. Take care not to spill the hot beer or otherwise burn yourself. Halve, quarter, or carve the chicken and serve.
All-Purpose Barbecue Rub
1/4 cup coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup blend of sweet or hot paprika, cumin, oregano, and chipotle
2 tablespoons freshly ground white pepper
Put the salt, brown sugar, and other ingredients in a small bowl and stir to mix. (Your fingers actually work better for mixing the rub than a spoon or whisk does.) Store the rub in an airtight jar away from heat and light; it will keep for at least 6 months. Makes about 3/4 cup.
I wanted to use up some Kinder's chicken parmesan sausages. Since the weather has finally cooled down, making and eating pasta with the sausages or something along those lines was appealing. I was looking to create a dinner that was quick (I was already hungry), filling, hearty and flavorful.
A tube of instant polenta caught my eye as I shopped. Mmmm, it had been so long! I used to gorge on polenta with mushrooms at Rex Cafe in Russian Hill in my boozy girl days, where I learned that polenta was a great way to start a long Saturday night. The simple dinner would be chianti, sausage, polenta, chunky red sauce, fresh mozzarella. Sadly, the sausages had a weird smell and creamy white slime. Oscar thought they were maybe okay, but why chance it even if it makes me sad to throw away six dollars worth of delectable meat? Into the trash they went, along with me unkindly grumbling that I wasn't going to buy sausages anymore (!!) if they wouldn't get eaten, with a saucy add on that "I hate throwing away food!" Hunger is my only defense on that outburst.
I considered layering everything and baking it, faux lasagna style but my stomach rumbling warned me that'd take too damn long. I cooked the tomato sauce (onion, garlic, tomato, wine, bay leaf, basil) and sliced the polenta. We began to get excited, "It smells so wonderful!" Oscar said. Using the biggest cast iron skillet we have, I got it hot and oiled. I put one polenta disk in the center. The skillet wasn't quite ready. I didn't let it get quite hot enough, because later the polenta was sticking when flipped. Frustrating but lesson learned: get it hot!
My favorite part? Seeing the mozzarella melt into the sauce, and hang from my spoon as I ate. I had added the mozz to the top of the tomato sauce while I cooked the polenta, and kept the sauce on medium low. Everything tasted great, but I felt a little guilty about not having any sort of green vegetable in the meal. Tasty add in possibilities: sauteed spinach, kale, or mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini or artichoke hearts. Dish yield was 3-4 ample portions, and Oscar has dibs on today's lunch leftovers.
Using food products as beauty aids started early for me. It's probably a combo of hippie meets econo-thrifty in me. These days, I read and clip things out of magazines and off websites. It's fun and has benefits: gain smug satisfaction at making it yourself, with steep savings. Don't expect it to go swimmingly all the time, though-think of the bathroom as your own food science lab. If you have any cool or funny food beauty tricks, do tell!
Mayonnaise hair conditioner: My fifth grade teacher's wife did this, and he would shock and treat us to stories of her walking around with a glop of white gooey mayo, and he loved how nice it made her hair look. She was beautiful and I had a crush on him, so I was eager to mimic her. Mayo conditioner requires sitting with a headful of Best Foods mayo for an hour or more. Bathing cap highly recommended. Results: shiny but slightly greasy locks for the first day, giving way to cover girl hair the next day (and beyond). Downside: sour eggy smell is difficult to conceal.
Salt or Sugar Scrub: mix a cup of salt or sugar with 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil. Good add ins (pick and choose): citrus juice and peel, 1-2 drops essential oil, orange or grapefruit bits (mash in). Scrub BEFORE shaving, to avoid screaming in pain. Results: smooth skin, "like buttah." Downside: spa staff isn't around at home to clean the slippery tub for you, roommates and spouses aren't happy to slip-n-slide as they bathe.
Chocolate Butter: Melt chocolate. I turned a pot of slightly burnt chocolate into something good years ago. I stopped trying to make chocolate covered strawberries and decided to take a bath break. Rubbed the chocolate all over my naked wet skin, and sat in the tub. Getting it off was easier than expected (avoid hair and use warm water!), but the results were divine: delicious smelling, soft skin. Downside: cleanup is beyond a bitch. My roommate thought I was from planet Mars, or a major kinkster when he found a clump of chocolate on his shampoo bottle. Sorry, Byron!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Moisturizer: Reading Carol Firenze Anglin's book The Passionate Olive gave me 100 recipes and tips for using olive oil, including: animal food, diaper rash, furniture polish. Too bad those won't come in handy since I have no pets or kids, and our furniture never gets polished. But I did start using EVOO to remove make up and moisturize at night. I went overboard the morning of my DMV renewal appointment. I wanted my skin to be utterly dewy and glowing for the picture, but never counted on almost failing my vision exam. My right eye test was fine, but my left eye was cloudy from, you guessed it, too much olive oil. Things were blurry, and I started to worry, stamping my boot. I had noticed the DMV clerk eyeing my cleavage when I came up to the counter, so I had to use that to my advantage.
"You need to cover your right eye," he warned.
"Yes, I know. Oh! It has lotion in it," I begged, sticking my chest out a little bit.
"OK, read the first line for me," he said. I bungled two of the letters. "How bout the second line?" he asked, sighing.
I got all but one letter, and he looked me up and down, with a smile. I grinned back and giggled, hating myself for being so slutty. "You're all set," he said, still grinning. He added, "You be sure and have a nicccccccccccce day now." The flirting and olive oil near disaster turned out okay. My driver's license has the best photo. And yes, I'm so vain.