August 29, 2006

Feasting on Asphalt

Current Netflix rentals:
Why We Fight Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 1, Disc 2

Chicken Cordon BleuI'm back from the Metroplex. What else would I have to report on but the restaurants I hit? Nothing spectacular to report. The best food I ate was at la Madeleine in Fort Worth. I had their famous Tomato Basil soupe, half a Cordon Bleu sandwich, and Pesto Pasta Salade. The company was just as good. I got to visit Michele and James and see their lovely place.

Saturday night I went to The Cheesecake Factory with Carmen, Melissa, and Brian. My food was okay. I ordered a Kahlua Coffee Cocoa Cheesecake to go. I ate that on Sunday, and my teetotal genes rejected the Kahlua and coffee. I never know what to do when I go to restaurants that I really like. Should I go with tried and true familiar faves or be adventurous? I think it's best to go halvesies with someone on one dish you know will be good and one new untried one, or you can order something daring when you've got a date that's paying, so at least you're not out the cash if your hunch was bad.

Speaking of the dating world, AOL@Love says, "Nothing says first date more than an evening at a restaurant, but where he takes you says more about the man you're with than you think." Don't worry. I linked to the site from Slashfood; I'm still happily single and checking the foodie sites, not the personals. Anyhow, if anyone is wondering what your guy's restaurant selection says about him, check out What Does His Choice for a First-date Restaurant Say about Him?

  • Tapas - "don't expect a commitment from this professional dabbler anytime soon"

  • Seafood - "it's nice to spend time with somebody who believes money is no object, but if he never lets you forget it..."

  • Pancake house - "a guy who knows what he wants, and exactly where to go to get it"

  • Sushi - "an eclectic lifestyle, so he wants to try everything"

  • Mexican - "hot and spicy guy is the kind that will dance the night away"

  • Chinese - "he needs a little motivation"

  • Steakhouse - "since he won't stray too far from the norm, he could be a huge bore"

  • Italian - "you've got a serious romantic on your hands"

  • Burgers and fries - "likes it straight, so he can save himself for the BMX race he's in"
    Back to my eating adventures, I think I might have gone to an IHOP in Denton or something. Yikes. I went to Chuy's in downtown Dallas, and they were having their 18th Annual Green Chile Festival. They had a special menu for it and everything. I did try the chile relleno and empanada combination, but I passed on the green chile brownie. I really wanted to try it, just to say I did, but I was completely full. Plus, I had already been burned trying one new dessert this week (see above). A green chile festival is something I could really get into. Whole Foods had some extra fun foods for the festival as well. We hit Whole Foods twice. Their Plano store isn't as fun as the Austin flagship, but I still had a grand time there. Their bakery is the most fun department to browse. I also ate some great homemade corn tortillas at "Tortillas del Rancho y Restaurante" in Garland.

    As for Feasting on Asphalt, here's a fun picture of the remnants of the charcoal cookies. In a fit of anger, I tossed my cookies into the street and ran them over with the truck. That's pretty much how it happened. My dad saw the crumbled cookies in the street in front of my house and thought they had been repaving the street.

    Repaved the block with my cookies...

    August 22, 2006

    Hits and Misses

    Current Netflix rentals:
    Why We Fight Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 1, Disc 2

    If I were only half the cook I think I am....

    Fabulous Chocolate Chip Cookies on the left.  Cookies of death on the right.

    Those cookies on the right aren't chocolate! I decided to make a couple of batches of cookies yesterday. I made some of my favorite cookies to take to a party/get-together... (See Wendy's Xanga site for a better explanation than I could offer.) We had fun. I got to see some awesome pictures of Taiwan. Katie will be there in about a month! Anyway, I saved a few cookies to send to Katie. I also decided to try my hand at making Oatmeal Raisin cookies last night. It was so late that it was really this morning. Mmmm...the batter was very tasty. The cookies needed to bake for 22 minutes. When the cookies had only five minutes left to bake, I decided to lay on the couch and watch a bit of The Office I had taped. Very unfortunately, I fell sound asleep and missed the timer. I did awaken a couple of hours to the smoke permeating my house, burning my nose and stinging my eyes, and I opened the oven door to find those little black beauties pictured above. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies - Take 2I was unbelievably angry with myself. I went to the store after 11:00 at night to buy ingredients I didn't have, and then I stayed up mixing, meticulously measuring out just the right amount of batter for each cookie, and then I had to go do something dumb like that! I wish I could say that kind of idiocy is an isolated incident for me. My house still smelled tonight when I got home from work. I did a redo tonight, and the cookies were much better looking.

    Before I describe my next cooking miss, here's a great story about the Glamour 100-metre Stiletto Run. As a feminist, or maybe I'm just a sexist, I just wonder who organized this event? Is this safe? Men or women? I think that I could probably run just as well in stilettos as in a pair of tennis shoes. This Star Phoenix article reports: "A November survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association found 35 per cent of women feel comfort trumps style when buying footwear, up from just 18 per cent in a previous survey." Sick, sick women. I do love high heels. Wearing them may be the only fashion forward thing I even attempt at all. Not that I'm willing to sacrifice sleep to style my hair or put on enough makeup to make a difference, but heels, I'll do.

    Mine pretty much looked like hersSunday for lunch we had breakfast foods: home fries, bacon and eggs, French Toast, and such. I love breakfast foods. They're always appropriate. Then I used some fresh blueberries to try making some blueberry ice cream. I don't know what possessed me to trust an unknown recipe source. I should have been tipped off by the metric measurements, too. I never hear good things about British cuisine. I'm sorry to read that the cook came up with this atrocity after many attempts. I tried a few bites after it came out of the ice cream freezer, and my only reaction was "Wrong wrong wrong." I think it's because while I was cooking, I was watching Grey's Anatomy, and the OCD patient had to say everything three times. "Is the OR clean, clean, clean?" That story was a lot funnier in my head.

    Wendy and I are having tons of fun while she's in town. Perhaps I should speak for myself. I'm really glad for any time I get to spend with Wendy. She's a hoot. We can laugh at anything and always have fun together. If three of us siblings get together, it really gets crazy. What I need to know is what I'm going to do with twenty or so black cow chip cookies!! They're too funny looking to just throw away. I think I'll send one to Katie with the 'good' cookies, just to give her a laugh. I am very tempted to leave the rest of them on neighbors' porches or next to cars in the parking lot at work or something. They are really the most horrible looking things, and they smell like death after an extra two hours' baking time.

    Another cooking hit - bravo to Alton Brown for his fun show Feasting on Asphalt. Dad even likes the show so much that he called and asked me how to set the VCR to record it. That was a fun conversation. We're a family of Luddites.

    August 14, 2006

    Coulda woulda shoulda

    Current read:
    Cary Grant: A Class Apart

    WARNING! Pity party ahead...

    I feel super gloomy tonight, so I don't really want to turn off the TV, music, or computer. Somehow I think the multi-tasking will help?

    I should be cleaning my kitchen and living room. The lady that is sewing my kitchen shades is coming over tomorrow for a fitting. Hopefully everything will work out. I did get some funky tile after I chose the fabric for the shades. My house is already such a hodge podge of textures and colors and fabrics; what the heck can it hurt to throw a few more in the mix?

    Tonight, I was desperate and hungry enough tonight to eat a frozen burrito that has probably been in my freezer since I moved into this house a year ago. It was so gross that I only ate half. Yuck! I am embarrassed that I lowered myself to eat that trash. Life is too short to eat bad food like that.

    I am very excited to be getting out of town next weekend. I'm glad for a change of scenery. The last few days at work have been super quiet. It's pretty much just been Dilbert and me holding down the fort. It makes for a long work day. Luckily I've been busier since I'm trying to cover, more or less, for my absent co-workers. I looked at the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau website, and this totally inappropriate event caught my eye. I haven't laughed so hard in awhile: GayBINGO Dallas.

    It’s not your grandma’s bingo! GayBINGO is hosted by Dallas’ own Patti LePlaeSafe, and features drag queens on skates working the crowd from the floor, a monthly theme to dress for, special guests, surprise entertainment, and of course 15 very special bingo games.

    Someone help me! Carmen and I went walking tonight, and I hope she won't mind if I rat us out. We walked to Barnes & Noble, and we usually like to hit the self-help/relationship section and skim books like Dating for Dummies for a good laugh. Tonight we picked up
    He's Just Not That into You: Your Daily Wake-Up Call
    . Usually I find that stuff funny, but tonight it was just sad. Then we walked to Sonic. On the way, I saw this guy I used to have a thing for walk by with his wife. I didn't even recognize him, and Carmen asked if I had noticed who passed us. It was really funny... uh, I guess you just had to be there. He looked like an old retired fisherman what with the hat, scruffiness, and belly. Then again, maybe it's good they didn't notice me, since I was in an old T-shirt, workout pants, hair sweaty and pulled back loosely in a ponytail... Yeah, I was looking rough. Actually, I always look good, but I felt like being self-deprecating since I just described someone else's appearance so mercilessly.

    Okay, I've gotta go clean the kitchen. I won't have time after work tomorrow. I know there are cobwebs lurking behind those mini-blinds. Well, my little rant hasn't really made me feel better. I guess the coulda woulda shoulda is what I'm moping about. I feel like I've been wasting quite a bit of time lately (like the last few years!) on the wrong things, and I haven't really gotten anywhere on a few fronts. Oh well. Coulda woulda shoulda, and I can start over tomorrow. Dang! I really just want a nap.

    I like movies with "sad" endings. I watched Roman Holiday with my grandmother on Saturday. I hadn't seen that movie in years. In fact, I haven't watched an old movie in a long time. I love the lines in that movie. It's like Casablanca. I guess we're living in a society, and even though I'm not a princess or the wife of the leader of an underground anti-Nazi movement, I sure feel like I frequently have to give up what I want for illogical reasons. Boo hoo. Welcome to the real world. I guess I won't go into specifics tonight.

    Roman Holiday Casablanca

    Thanks for chatting online with me tonight, Wendy. I needed it. Otherwise I would've been reduced to trolling blogspot which has never proven to be fun or fruitful.

    August 13, 2006

    Alton Brown, revisited

    Next up on Netflix:
    Why We Fight

    Sunday is usually my blogging day, so I guess I'll do it even though I don't have anything exciting to report. Today for lunch we ate Pork Tenderloin Diane. It was okay. I put way too much dijon mustard in the sauce. I would make it again. It was a super easy recipe. Mom brought some red potatoes and green peas, and they tasted good aside the pork. We had some fruit, too, and I'm about to make a smoothie with what was left. I made some more Rocky Road ice cream this weekend, too.

    Further speaking foodie, I thought I would revisit my "Alton Brown is my dream guy" entry idea. What makes the guy so dreamy? Actually, I'm not sure how far into this I want to go. I'm freaking myself out looking for pictures of the guy online like some crazed cyber-stalker. It's time for bed anyway. I'm tired despite my Sunday nap.

    Alton Brown

    "Good Eats was, if nothing else, original. I can't always say that it's good, but I do think it's original. And I think that's something that comes from one person being allowed to exercise their vision, be it twisted or otherwise -- that's usually where great innovations come from."--AB

    [Quoted in a Macworld interview (Yeah, he's a Mac guy, and I'm never sure what to make of their kind.)]

    Alton's quirky and intelligent and funny. I have Alton's autograph in my copy of Alton Brown's Gear for Your Kitchen. He's like MacGyver meets Bob Vila meets Bill Nye meets Bart Simpson. Gotta love the plastic-framed glasses, too. The man is even a biker. He rides his bike cross-country exploring the history of eating on the move in his new series Feasting on Asphalt. I still haven't seen it, but I'm sure it's fab. Wiki has a list of places Alton visits on each episode, complete with coordinates and links so you can visit, too, I suppose. Okay, well, that was fun... for me.

    Fun links:
    Alton Brown's official site - Good Eats
    Alton Brown - Wikipedia

    August 9, 2006


    Current Netflix rentals:
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 1

    It's been too long since I've had a chance to update. I'm glad to see I've been busy, thus avoiding the temptation to blog my brains out. See, I haven't even had time to watch my Netflix rentals, and they're piling up.

    Last weekend, Carmen, Emily, and I drove to Oklahoma. First stop: Enid, OK. It's a small Air Force town. I cannot believe they have a website. Heck, they had two Wal-Marts, so I guess anything's possible. I keep hearing that it was voted the 28th best U.S. city for quality of life. Must be that second Wal-Mart skewing the vote their way. I think I would throw myself on the train tracks if I had to live there. Lubbock is small enough, and Enid's population is about ¼ the size at 50,000. We stayed with Karsten and Elizabeth. It took a good six and a half hours' drive to get there. Luckily, Emily brought a Cake CD with a couple of songs I hadn't heard, so that was fun. I listen to that band way too often. Our hosts prepared a yummy dinner for us Friday night. We played Mexican Train - a good clean fun Dominoes game. I lost big time, but we quit playing before adding up the total score, so hopefully no one will remember.

    Saturday morning we went for a walk. It is hotter in Oklahoma than Lubbock. It was already pretty stifling by 10 am. Saturday afternoon we drove to Oklahoma City. No, Dad, we didn't make it to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, but we walked around Bricktown and ate lunch at Abuelo's. The highlight of the trip for me was the Oklahoma City National Memorial. It was very inspirational.

    Field of Empty Chairs
    The "Field of Empty Chairs" represents the 168 people who were killed in the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. The chairs are also arranged to symbolize the floor location on which those killed worked or were visiting at their deaths. Inside the museum, there is a room that has a picture of each person who died, along with an object to represent them. That was very moving. Hymns are playing in the background as one looks at the pictures of the victims.

    The reflecting pool is flanked by two walls, the "Gates of Time." From the Memorial's website: "These monumental twin gates frame the moment of destruction - 9:02 - and mark the formal entrances to the Memorial. Gates of TimeThe east gate represents 9:01 on April 19th and the innocence before the attack. The west gate represents 9:03 and the healing that almost immediately began." On the outside of one wall is inscribed: "We come here to remember those who were killed, Those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity."

    In case anyone forgot how awful it looked...I love museums, and I really enjoyed the exhibitions they had in this one. I remember where I was when I heard about the bombing. I was in seventh grade math class. Mrs. Ammons was teaching, and I think she turned on a TV so we could see the news. That seems like a lifetime ago. April 19, 1995. I was twelve years old. My goodness!

    Back in Enid--no trip would be complete without hitting at least one local gem of a restaurant. The one we found, after many inquiries as to its location, was Napoli's Italian Restaurant. It was recommended to us by our hosts, but I can't believe the locals couldn't help us find it. So divine! It's a fairly small, family-owned restaurant near the town square. I love local places, and this one could certainly be one of the best Italian restaurants I've ever found. The service was great. The prices were very reasonable. The portions were huge. My plate was certainly big enough for two people. The foodie in me can't resist quoting the menu to let you fantasize about what I ate.
    Chicken Aristocrat: Grilled boneless, skinless chicken breast topped with breaded eggplant and provolone cheese, sauteéd in rich pink tomato Alfredo sherry wine sauce, served over spaghetti.
    Emily had Baked Ziti, and Carmen had Cannelloni. I've gotta find a good Italian cookbook and replicate that food. I sounded like Bill Murray in What about Bob? while we were eating. "Mmmmmm. MMMmmmmm." I'm sure it was a little much for my traveling companions. I was completely stuffed, but we ended up trying a couple of desserts. Carmen ordered Black Forest Cheesecake. Fabulous! I got the Tiramisu. Best ever! I had to take half my entrée and the tiramisu (minus a couple of bites) with me; I couldn't possibly leave a bite behind.

    Unfortunately, tonight I have no food in my house, and I'm starving after the fond remembrance of Napoli's. I don't even have milk for cereal. I ate the last of the tiramisu a little bit ago when I got home. Still yummy. I will definitely try to reproduce that as well. The custard was perfect, not too airy. The only edible I've found at home is Amy's Indian Mattar Paneer. I'll let you know if the freezer burn killed it. Am I going a little overboard with the hyperlinks? I've been trying to link everything I can, but if it annoys, please comment. Thanks, Management.