Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Merry Christmas and Happy Moving!

I'm packing right now. The movers are coming on Friday. Saturday is Christmas Eve...Sunday Christmas. I am REALLY busy and overwhelmed. I went to the grocery store last night and bought tater tots, a frozen pizza and sandwich stuff l so I won't have to cook anything or leave the house at all this week. Now, I ran out of packing tape and have to do the exact thing I tried to avoid at all costs---mingle with the Christmas shoppers for something non-Christmas! Tape, not the kind to wrap presents but the kind to close moving boxes. Ugh.

It's quite depressing. No baking cookies or Christmas tree or decorations. Lucky me, I get to look at every single thing we own and put it in a box, again, and have my hands get covered in newspaper ink. But the weekend should be nice spending time with my family and pretending that the move wasn't that big of a deal. No, really we don't need any help. We can take care of it ourselves.

I did make a batch of Swedish toffee in the microwave last night. Hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in a few more batches tonight or tomorrow to give out over the weekend.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Cabbage & Noodles

The Atomic Librarian's recipe for cabbage & noodles.
I love Mueller's Hearty Extra Wide Egg Noodles!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Holiday Eating Tips

from Just My Cup of Tea...

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention.

Reread tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Sushi Rock

Wednesday is 1/2 price sushi at the downtown Sushi Rock on W. 6th St.

My husband, a friend and I went last night. If you're thinking about going on a Wednesday, you MUST make a reservation. We didn't the first time we went, but luckily were able to squeeze ourselves in at the sushi bar. It's very busy, hip, loud and crowded. The ambiance isn't my favorite, but I managed to get through it.

Our waiter explained a few things to us:
1. You have a 2 hour time limit on your table
2. You can only order once
3. You can not order sushi to-go
4. It takes a while for the sushi to come out so be patient

Feel the pressure?

I insisted we order the calamari appetizer because I was starving and knew it would be a while before our sushi came out. It was breaded and fried, then tossed with a sweet & spicy sauce. The sauce was good but made the breading soggy. Next time I would pass on the appetizer and just be more patient. We ordered big bottles of Sapporo and they tasted great while we waited!

Our reservation was at 6pm and the slab-of-sushi came out at about 7pm. I have to say that people were not shy with their ordering. I didn't think the wait was too bad. We ordered a ton and totally stuffed ourselves. It was real good, lets see if I can remember everything we got...

nigiri - salmon, yellow tail, eel, mackerel, tamago & scallop
rolls - spicy tuna, spicy california, alaska, shrimp california

After gorging ourselves (quickly - we only had 1 hour left to eat) the waiter came with our checks. Yes, you actually get 2. My husband asked why and the waiter explained that the 1st check was the regular amount and the 2nd was the real check that included the 1/2 price specials. He said "that's so people from Parma can figure out how much to tip. Ha, ha."


This guy was pretty attentive and mildly funny throughout the night but the more I think about this situation today, the more I am annoyed. My husband said to him: "Really? I'm from Parma." Even though he's not. Waiter: "Oh really? I'm from there too!" and added something about hanging out at Parmatown when he was a kid. Way to cover yourself dude. And are 2 checks the best way to handle the specials? Couldn't you have one check that deducts the discount at the bottom?

Well, the evening was great fun and the sushi was delicious. Does it taste even better because it's 1/2 price? Probably...I'm sure I will be back again.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Kielbasa 2005

Grind pork and veal together. Add spices and knead together for 25 minutes. Gradually add water to mixture. Refrigerate overnight. Stuff sausage in rinsed casings the next day.

Roast sausage, covered with foil, in a 350 degree oven for about 30 - 40 minutes, removing foil during last 10 minutes.

2005 batches:

20 lbs pork butt
4 lbs cubed veal
5 Tbs. salt
3 Tbs. pepper
6 cloves garlic
2 coffee mugs of water

10 lbs pork
1 lb. veal
2 1/5 Tbs salt
3 Tbs pepper
5 cloves garlic
2 Tbs. marjoram
2 Tbs. savory
1 tsp. allspice
4 Tbs. paprika
1 coffee mug of water

10 lbs pork
1 lb. veal
2 1/5 Tbs salt
3 Tbs pepper
5 cloves garlic
1 Tbs marjoram

1 Tbs dill
1 1/2 tsp caraway seed (crushed)
1 coffee mug of water

Monday, December 12, 2005

grinding meat

It's that time of year again...time to make the kielbasa!

Last night my husband and I went to his parents' house where he ground 4o lbs of pork and 6 lbs of veal - with a hand crank meat grinder. Then we kneaded each batch of meat for 25 minutes on the kitchen counter.

The packet of kielbasa recipes has grown a lot. We write down what we use each year, but never seem to be able to repeat a recipe. Always tweaking or changing things. Every year we go through these same questions, like a million times:

How much salt did we use last year?
Did mom's recipe really only call for 3 tsp. of pepper?
Do you think it needs more garlic?
Did you think it was too salty last year?
Do we have any more garlic?
Do you think it needs more salt?
Do you think it needs more pepper?
How much salt did I add?

We're stuffing the sausage tonight. I'll post the 2005 recipes tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

to be french

I'm embarrassed. Tonight I'm heading over to the Strongsville branch of Cuyahoga Public Library to hear Mireille Guiliano talk about her book "French Women Don't Get Fat". After hearing her a bunch of times on radio and t.v. talk shows, I broke down and bought the book. I was won over by marketing and the thought of being thin and drinking champagne every day. I am a fool! Sales must be dropping for her to be doing a public library tour. Do you think she has some books to unload?

Anyways, here's the thing....the book is a load of fad diet crap (like eating bowls and bowls and cups of leek broth for days!) and I kinda feel like I'm supporting this sort of fad diet crap by going to the author reading. I don't want to fall for fad diet crap, but I obviously did because I paid money for the book. I'm sure it won't be the last time either. My friend, who borrowed my book, actually made the broth and ate it. She is WAY worse than me!

What I am saying is that I enjoy author readings and I really want to have the French Lady sign my book. And I really do love the idea of being thin and drinking champagne every day. Ok? So, I am going to Strongsville with my friend who just might bring thermoses full of leek broth for us to "snack" on! I am so from the Midwest sometimes.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Cleveland rocks

Here's a great letter from a proud Clevelander posted at CoolCleveland.com

Monday, December 05, 2005

La Tortilla Feliz

Saturday night my husband and I went to La Tortilla Feliz in Treamont for the first time. I can't really say why we haven't been there before. In the summer, everyone sitting outside at the little tables look like they're enjoying themselves. It's very inviting. I've heard good reviews from friends, but I've also heard it was really hit or miss.

For a Saturday night, the place was empty. We got there around 8:30pm and there were only 2 other tables of guests in the non-smoking side. When we left at 10pm we were the only ones left! They seated at a nice table against the front window - plants lined the window sill. There were little fake birds nestled between the leaves. A wine bottle with a drip candle was placed on each table. The whole restaurant had a nice, warm ambiance to it.

After ordering the beer special and picking up the menus we quickly realized that we were at one of those places where we have no clue what anything on the menu is. I love it when this happens! They do have nice descriptions of each dish and list all the ingredients, but still it was NEW to us!

On to the food...

We ordered the "you pick 3" appetizer plate. We picked:
1. Arepa de Reina Peplada (Venezuelan tortillas with an avocado & potato filling) I liked this filling a lot, it was really creamy and rich.
2. Chuchito de Pollo (corn flour dumplings, filled with chicken & special spices; steamed in cornhusks) OK
3. Ceviche de Tilapia (fresh tomato, onions, cilantro & tilapia in a lime juice marinade; with chips) *favorite*

My dinner:
Cochinita Costal (chunks of tender pork from the coastal Comals of Central America, bordered by a blue mound of singular cocoa milk rice with black bean accents, accompanied
by slabs of plantain) Pork was very tender and moist. They came in a fresh, chunky fresh tomato sauce. Rice sounded very exotic and was presented in an interesting cone shape on the plate, but was not very blue or cocoa-ish?. Pretty bland. The plantains were good.

His dinner:
Bife Borracho (pan seared beef in a drunken sauce of South American beer, tomatoes and onions. Served with saffron rice and broccoli.) He said that the sauce was really rich and liked it but thought I wouldn't because of all the onions. After eating the beef, my husband mixed the rest of the plate all together, coating the rice with the sauce and devoured every last grain.

A tiny chocolate cake with whipped cream on top. The waitress was a doll (and most likely bored at this point of the evening) and tried to make a smiley face on the little thing. This cake was about the size in circumference of a cupcake, but only a weee inch or so high. It was real dense and dark and moist. Not sweet, here's where my cocoa was hiding! But next time we each need to get our own cake.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Secret Cookbook Santa

Much more fun than my work gift exchange!

Sign up directions can be found at the Amateur Gormet - hosting is the famous Gourmet Survivor winner Jason Sholar. Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Craft Swap & BBM4 sign-ups

Ok, seems like I haven't written in forever. Let's see...

I received my package from the purplepinkandorange November Craft Swap! My partner Kpoene' has her own clothing shop called Mignonette. She sent me the coolest t-shirt that is a very pretty pink color with flower petals sewn in (I stole the picture from her website). It reminds Kpoene' and me of cotton candy. Yummy :) Her site and clothes are cool - check them out and buy a Christmas gift for someone you love!

The sign-ups for BBM4 have already begun! This time it's hosted by the FoodNinja (that's really a kick ass name!) of our northern neighbor Canada. He's chosen to give it a musical theme. I am excited because really enjoy making people listen to what I want to hear. The jukebox has eaten many of my hard earned dollars, just so I could have a little power trip at the bar. BTW, what's up with the 2 songs for $1? Sometimes ONE depending on how popular/unpopular it is. What happened to 3/$1?

And for dinner tonight....Mashed potatos, brussel sprouts and the kielbasa we made last December. How long can you freeze sausage? Well, it is the last ring from 2004 and it will be history shortly. We make it every December- from SCRATCH! It's gross and smelly but lots of fun and a holiday tradition. I will make sure to post pictures this year.