I discovered that October, November, and most of the December we’ve had so far has passed me by in an over-caffeinated, sleep-deprived haze. You see, I work the regular 8-5 type job, but for some reason I decided to take some classes this semester. Maybe it was 10 hours of classes. And I also decided to take the GRE, not once, but twice, because apparently I’m a glutton for punishment.
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History is usually remembered differently depending on the perspective. Growing up my mom was in charge of feeding us all, so I’m not sure how she’ll remember this. Because I am my father’s daughter, I can sometimes embellish for dramatic effect, adding an extra flair here and there. It’s part of storytelling, the details may be fuzzy but you have memories and how they are conveyed might be more or less flashy, depending on the person and where you were standing when it happened.
That’s a really dramatic way to start talking about pizza, one of the most common food groups (it’s an entire food group at our house sometimes). Some of my earliest pizza memories were the tiny squares of flavorless bread topped with (what I’m sure) was low fat cheese and some kind of cubed meat products over scant tomato flavored paste when I was in preschool. (Aside: Shame on you FBC Brookhaven, I can only hope you’ve raised your toddler lunch standards in the past 20 years) Those sad, flavorless memories graduated laterally to high school and college experiences, where the infamous ‘hot and ready’ pizza from Little Caesar’s was dominant. This was a tricky experience, as anyone who has eaten one of these will understand. The timing with the hot n’ ready’s was if you don’t eat them within the first 15 minutes after they are pulled from the oven or underneath the heat lamp, they start to decay with alarming quickness. It must be some way their cheese reacts with oxygen, but it forms some sort of congealed substance after it reaches room temperature that only the hardened stomachs of cafeteria trained young adults can handle. It’s a very small window, for the young adult and the pizza. You get what you pay $5 for, and most of the time you pay for bowel trouble.
Because, you know, Christmas is coming. And you can read about it here. It’s only $880,000, which seems like a steal, considering that its Julia freaking Child’s house! Of course its in France and its perfect and there are olive trees and lavender and a perfect village nearby. It comes with her kitchen preserved in perfect Julia style. I just realized I used the word perfect three (now 4 times) and it didn’t feel redundant because: Julia Child.
For the sake of full disclosure, I’ve only ever made a couple of her recipes. But her entire being, her personality, her quirks, her story, the way she was a pioneer for the world of cooking and how she put herself on a stage for everyone to see while she did it and remained perfectly herself- it’s just great. I’ve always felt that she was so brave, and she’s one of my role model cooks. The travesty that is the Foodnetwork, with all its wanna be sexy reality TV cooking shows that I hate (their last quality broadcast was Good Eats, may it RIP) can’t hold a candle to Julia and her fantastic cooking show. And that’s all it was about, a show about cooking. There wasn’t any need for flashes or bangs or plot twists. And it was excellent.
Anyway. Here’s a photo of my adorable cat displaying exactly how I felt about getting out of bed today:
You knew that, probably, because it’s been November for eleven whole days. The season of frenzied baking and cooking is upon us, but I don’t have a lot to show for it. I’m hoping to change that this weekend and bring you my favorite pizza recipe, but it’s getting harder and harder to predict the future these days, so we’ll see.
In the absence of edible things, here’s some of the internet and etc. to look at / watch / listen to that I enjoy and I’m passing along to you, because not everything has to be about eating, right? (except maybe it does because a lot of these are food related links).
I love this blogger, Joy the Baker. I love her humor, her food and non-food related writing (give us more!) and we seem to be on the same brain wave about cats, pie, and how social media is not real life (so can we please all just learn how to make eye contact and be adults?). Plus she lives in New Orleans (I’m not a stalker, it’s on her blog) and she likes all the food that I like so, we can be best friends, right?
My favorite recent gems from Joy:
How food seems to always taste better when someone else makes it for you (Can I get an amen?) and food things to buy instead of make yourself
Flaky Apple Dumplings with Salted Maple Caramel – you bet I’ll be making these over Christmas
One of my favorite things while cooking is having the right music playing. Here is my current fall playlist:
Love Love Love – Of Monsters and Men
You’re the One I Want – Chris and Thomas
Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song) – Oscar Issac and Marcus Mumford (Note here: this is from the soundtrack of Inside Llewyn Davis, which wasn’t my favorite movie, but worth it to see Justin Timberlake play a folk singer. Good soundtrack)
Exhibition Blues – Solarists
Miss Misery – Elliot Smith
The Parting Glass – The Wailin’ Jennys
Goshen – Beirut
I Need My Girl – The National
Take Me Home, Country Roads – Brandi Carlile and Emmylou Harris version
Eyes – Rogue Wave
Falling for Me – JOHNNYSWIM
The Trapeze Swinger – Iron and Wine
The Wine We Drink – Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors
This. Article. It fascinates me how our culture now documents everything. And its even more fascinating how its affecting our brains, and it’s not always a good thing. I’m sure there will be lots of science on this in the future.
I love spaghetti, and these meatballs are on my to-make list.
I was really excited about making this soup. I had come home from work, changed into my ‘cooking clothes’ (baggy shorts, tshirt held together by threads, hair in crazy bun) and was chopping and mixing and completely comfortable when I discovered that my potatoes were moldy and also trying to grow new potatoes. Whatever, potatoes!
So sometimes feeding yourself consists of putting enough fuel in your body so that moving is still an option on the table. This generally means that there will be lots of coffee, and meal time is quick and to the point. Sometimes that means you eat frozen pizza twice in one week. Last week was kind of like that, we rotated between salad with grilled chicken one night then frozen pizza the next. And repeat.
Sunday was finally a day when I had enough energy/time to get in the kitchen and actually make some things happen that required more attention than dump and stir. And what happened was a spinach pie with a bacon lattice top.
Something I’m trying to do as a fresh 27 year old is try new things. So I christened my inching towards 30 voyage this past weekend in New Orleans, eating only at new restaurants. There may not seem like a lot of daring in that decision. I can understand if you’re not amazed at my bravery. However, when I spend my hard earned money on food, I want it to be delicious. I would really like to be blown away. I can cook a lot of things in my own house, and if it’s not better than something I can make myself, why not just stay home and make it? (I’m not a snob or anything, cough.)
So we trekked south to eat and drink our way through a couple of days off. New Orleans is a weird, crazy, strangely lovable city packed with good music, great food, and every kind of personality you can imagine. It’s one of my favorite food cities, I rarely have a bad meal when we are there. If all you hear is “Bourbon Street” whenever someone mentions New Orleans, I promise there is so much more to this fascinating place packed with history and culture. Once you’ve eaten at a few of the great restaurants, stayed in one of the lovely hotels and visited the garden district and zoo, you’ll understand. Here is a rundown of where we ate and what we got, how I felt about it, and a few other random ratings that don’t matter to anyone other than myself. For interested parties, I will be throwing out some ratings on a scale of 1-5, 1 being absolutely horrible, 5 being so amazing I couldn’t find fault.
I turn 27 this week.
I recently watched the movie My Best Friends Wedding, with Julia Roberts in it. In the opening scene, we learn that she is a food critic and 27 years old. I first watched that movie over a decade ago. I remember thinking how put together she seemed, with her huge brick of a flip phone and unfortunate 90s suits and career that gave her travel and good food and the ability to write and get paid for it. For some reason, this woman that Julia Roberts was portraying exuded adulthood to me. I just knew I would have my career and life figured out by the time I turned 27. I predicted I would be married and well establishing in whatever I was doing, maybe even with a kid or two, because we all know the clairvoyant powers of 16 year olds. I knew that by the time I was 27, I would have my life together.
This past Labor Day weekend was long and really comfortable. I spent a couple of days with my college girlfriends at the beach. We ate and drank and laid on the sand. There was a baby in our midst and two more on the way. I could almost feel the change in the air: new life, (literally) new people, jobs and careers and locations were all ending and starting between the 10 of us. Even our conversations felt different, we talked about politics and being pregnant and giving birth and buying houses, all kinds of heavy, adult themes that weren’t even considered almost a decade ago when we first met, when our conversations were filled with boys, food, clothes, occasionally school, and whatever else undergrads talk about. I forget, it was so long ago.
After college when we all got married and transitioned into careers and churches and awkward, quarter life crises that some of us (or maybe just me) are still going through, we met new people and had new relationships that felt awkward and strained at best. Being back with the people who really know me, friends who need no explanation, who were at and in my wedding, and saw me really grow up, felt like a breath of fresh air. Which it literally was, since we were at the beach. Despite all of our personal changes, it was incredibly refreshing to be with people whose friendship with me hasn’t changed.
There is a genera of people out there who like to substitute cauliflower for certain grains and bread products. Chop cauliflower small enough and pretend its rice or pasta! (it’s not) Or, an even worse travesty, mashing up cauliflower for baking and pretending it’s a pizza crust.
What?! If you have experienced the vast internet expanse that is Pinterest at all or have ever journeyed into the dark land of The Paleo Diet, you have probably been exposed to cauliflower pizza crust. You know what I call cauliflower topped with tomatoes and cheese? A salad. If you’re trying to find ways to cut calories, ok. If you want a salad, eat a salad. But if you want pizza, EAT A DANG PIZZA. Please, don’t mess with the perfection that is a toasty, chewy, delicious yeasted crust and pretend that cauliflower can replace it. It can’t. There is no such thing as ‘diet pizza’. Some things are sacred. Stop trying.
I’m done soapboxing. For now.