Friday, May 22, 2009

this 'n' that & omg pasta

Because my mind is going numb from some office work, I decided to pop over here and look at referrals. And lo, I discovered another local food blog, omg Pasta. Funny because I have gained a renewed interest in pasta since getting the pasta roller attachments for the mixer. And because last night, Claudia of cook eat FRET was telling me about a recent article she read comparing major brands of dried pasta. Don't mean to spoil it for you, but the winner was Trader Joe's. Like, over those fancy-pants brands. But the were comparing spaghetti, and frankly, I can't remember the last time I had plain ol' spaghetti. I usually opt for whole wheat or Jerusalem artichoke flour spaghetti because I want my pasta to fight with me as I eat it (it gives me the primal satisfaction that omnivores must derive from eating critters). Anyhoo.

So this weekend, I'm going to try some more pasta. The last attempt (with all whole wheat flour) has yielded a dough that I will reserve for lasagna noodles. I am now armed with King Arthur all-purpose flour and plan to get wild with it. We're talking flavored linguines and some mezzalunas filled with whatever I can find that's interesting.

While I was going through my referrals, I noticed one from the Whole Foods blog. Turns out, they're having a contest for Bonnaroo tickets among those who comment with their favorite festival foods. And Chris Houchens, marketing expert, marketing blogger and all-around nice guy gave me a shout-out for my review of festival food last year. I said I wasn't going to go back to Bonnaroo this year unless the dead Beatles were resurrected and re-formed to perform only Paul McCartney and Wings songs, but the second best thing, The Beastie Boys will be there and so will I. From the looks of the Whole Foods blog, there will be even more vegetarian/healthy eating options, so that makes me happy. Will I still have five or more arepas? You betcha. Despite the fact that the boss gave me special cornmeal needed to make arepas. It sits, well-preserved and unopen at the back of the fridge. Because apparently, preparation requires special instructions. Perhaps I need to search the YouTube for that.

And an update on the gourd outside the office--it's getting a bit rounder and a few of the ladies around here say that mulch in question was relocated from a spot where they believe a pumpkin was discarded after Halloween last year. Hrm. I hope that means we'll have a harvest of jack-o-lanterns instead of toxic zucchinis!

Monday, May 18, 2009


I've got a post about asparagus that's been simmering in the brain for a few weeks, but it will have to wait a bit. Because this is just too funny. Or tragic. I haven't decided yet.

Okay, so after a year of rest, I have decided to plant a garden again. I put out four tomatoes, zucchinis, squash and cucumbers. As with every other year I've planted, I expect to yield nothing thanks to critters and drought or whatever nature will throw at me. But I will try. And spend shit-tons of money doing so. Anyway.

So a couple of weeks ago, I'm walking the perimeter of the office building, trying to soak in a rare moment of dry weather (this is the rainiest May I have ever experienced, I believe). The caretakers of the building had put out some of that fine, dark mulch a while ago at the very back of the warehouse parking lot...why, I'm not sure. I think to stop some erosion. So I'm walking next to it and see some rather attractive volunteer plants growing from it. Attractive and familiar. Um, I think to myself, I think those are gourds of some sort!

So I'm out again today and I'm looking at these plants again. They're gorgeous. Huge leaves, growing like crazy. And big, beautiful yellow blossoms on some of them. On others? The beginnings of what looks like a zucchini on the business end of that spent bloom. Holy cow! All over Tennessee--on farms and in home gardens, plants are rotting from all the rain and suffering from the lack of sun, but here at the back of our warehouse in a neglected strip of land by a pretty nasty creek is a small collection (about seven plants) of gorgeous vegetables--flowering and fruiting early!

I don't get it. Out on another side, there are beautiful wild roses growing. In my yard, my tea rose has been decimated by aphids. There are also tons of wild blackberries blooming right now. And I harvested some delicious wild plums from the other side of the creek last summer (and plan to again). What's going on out here? Why can't I grow anything after pouring blood, sweat, and tears into my yard, but these things grow with reckless abandon? It's not fair. By the way, I am not hyperbolizing on the blood, sweat and tears. I have lost a lot of each in my yard over the years.

Anyway, so here's my question--do I harvest these things? Is office park mulch and the runoff from a warehouse parking lot any more toxic than what gets sprayed on your average supermarket vegetable? I wonder.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The one with all the beverages

I've been meaning to report here for a while now that the wonderful people at, um Pom Wonderful sent me a heaping case of pomegranate juice to enjoy. I'd had some before and liked it a lot, so I jumped at the chance to get some free. They also threw in some information on the juice's antioxidant properties as I requested because the SO-now-husband has blood that collects things in it that are bad for his heart.

As I mentioned, I'd had it before, but only bought it when it was on sale. It's crazy yummy, but a bit expensive in comparison to other juice. But now that I need to be more cognizant of what goes into Husband's body, I need to re-think that a bit. He needs the antioxidants. And ya know what? It's cheaper and easier to get than red wine. And doesn't have any of those pesky liver damage side effects. It's all about context, y'all. [FTR, you can't buy wine in the grocery here in Tennessee. Yeah, I know.]

Next on my list of beverages that are worth the extra money are Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback. I'd heard how good they were and trekked all over hell's half acre until I found them yesterday. Okay, that meant Kroger (where they were sold out) and then Super Target. But still, it was after work and I was tired and pissed that I had to go to a second store. But they're only available for a "limited time," which means I bit on the marketing bait and felt I needed to get them before they were gone. Verdict: worth it. Totally worth it. I started my day with the Pepsi today and the sun shone and coworkers were nicer and traffic was not as congested and I saw a unicorn farting rainbows by the side of the road as I drove to work. As for the Mountain Dew, well I've only had a couple of sips because if I'd consumed a can in it's entirety, I would not have slept last night (when Hubs had his) and I may even be divorced by now. I really can't believe I used to start every day of my college career with a Mountain Dew and a Pop Tart and remain focused. I can't take all that sugar (*cough*HFCS*cough*) and caffeine now. But let me tell you, that drink was good. Better than I remember from college. Probably because of the real sugar. Anyhoo.

And to continue my theme of tasty, sugary drinks, let me tell you about shower punch. I hosted a baby shower for a bunch of yankees (anyone not from the south) recently and none of them had ever had shower punch. You can google that, but you'll find a bunch of slightly more unnecessarily complicated recipes than the one I'm going to share with you. Don't bother with the fancy stuff. You don't need to add fruit or wine or Jell-O (!?!) or whatever. Here goes (pay attention!):

Good Old-Fashioned Southern Shower Punch
for baby showers, wedding showers, and wedding receptions held in Fellowship Hall

1 half gallon sherbet (I like lime the best, but any work except maybe rainbow)
1 two-liter bottle of ginger ale (not refrigerated)

Dislodge the block of sherbet from its container and drop into a punch bowl. Pour the bottle of ginger ale over the sherbet. Stir. Serve when cold.

See? Simple. Delicious. Though it used to be a lot simpler back in the old days when a block of sherbet came in a box that could be peeled apart. Now you gotta get your spatula out, which kind of sucks. Anyhoo, I had nine guests at the shower...plenty of leftover hummus and crackers and sandwiches, but barely a sip of that punch. Even though I served it in those tiny cups that come with punch bowls. They liked it. It's just not a celebratory event in the south without this stuff.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Just Married

I've been on a short hiatus here, but for good reason--I got married! It's kind of a big deal, particularly since neither one of us had ever planned on getting married and waited a really, really long time to do so.

There are a few things I've always said I'd reward myself with if I ever got married. A honeymoon in Greece (on hold; we went to Cancun back in February). A Dyson (because men love these things and I hate vacuuming). And a KitchenAid stand mixer.

I got some really good advice from a friend who said I should just go all out and get as big a mixer as possible. So I did. The day after our wedding, I orderd the Pro Line KL26M8XOB. Six quarts. Bowl lift design. Twenty-five pounds of all metal gears and parts. God willing, I expect to have this mixer until I am a very old lady insistent on taking it with me to my nursing home room.

I bought it from the KitchenAid online store, which was conveniently offering free shipping and an offer for a free ice cream maker attachment. It was the ice cream maker that sealed the deal for the Significant Omnivore-now Husband. Though some of the recipes I've seen look a bit scary. Perhaps it will also make sorbet.