I figure since I’ve been writing only foodblogs on my WordPress site, I may as well designate it for food blogging. I was afraid to lose readers at first, but then I realized I’m probably losing more readers by not having the whole thing be more obviously food-specific (title, etc.). Nobody would really expect to read food-related posts on a site called Bobcatbookcritic.wordpress.com, would they? I wouldn’t. So I renamed my blog and website!
I’m feeling relaxed and happy and satiated. Very full and content. None of the things happening in my life, none of the projects I have half-finished, none of the mean people, none if it worries me as I sit at my teeny tiny kitchen table and write this blog. My dreams of being a food writer/chef are simmering in the background as I make terrible food puns. I don’t even care right now about the fact that that probably wasn’t even a pun. I don’t know…
This relaxed, peaceful feeling is probably coming from my dinner because earlier today I was worrying about whether a decision to go shop for much-needed new jeans was a foolish one or not. I purhased some really cute items that I think I will actually wear, but it was a LOT of money that I should’ve saved for more important purchases. Like my plane ticket to my college roommate’s wedding in May, or my gas for my trip home for Easter (to be fair, I hadn’t planned on heading home at all over spring break), or even just for groceries for next month. Monetary concerns are fairly important when you’re living on loans…But I’m pretty confident that I’m going to get hired somewhere quite soon. So the clothes were necessary so I don’t feel gross wearing the same pair of jeans every day. Because, yeah, I was there. All my other jeans were flare-bottoms or ripped in the crotch and cut up into shorts. So I’m set for summer’s heat, but not so much for winter and spring’s cold.
As I sit here now, I think about the episode of French Food at Home that I just watched: “Slow Food“. I love themes like that because well, who wants to eat McDonald’s on a daily basis? Or even Mac ‘N’ Cheese or what have you. NOT ME! I like to cook, regardless of the time it takes. I know what’s going into my meals, and I can decide how healthy or unhealthy I make each part of my dinner. I still crave pizza or a McDouble once in a while, but it feels more like fast food used to be: a treat! I remember my mom used to tell me that when she was a kid, McDonald’s was a mini-roadtrip! Of course that’s probably because distances and times are radically different to a child than they are to an adult, but she just meant that it was a once-in-a-blue-moon type of treat. And why wouldn’t it be, when my grandmother is such a great cook…I wonder sometimes if my Omi (that’s grandma in German) always had a knack for meats and vegetables…
My delectable dinner was just fried chicken legs with milk gravy and some grilled vegetables. But it was goooooooooood! I think the chicken leg made all the difference: they’re much juicer at the end of cooking than chicken breasts tend to be. Also, I didn’t worry about them being fully cooked, (though they were, don’t worry) so they came out perfectly done instead of dry and overcooked. I’m having good luck with chicken legs. I just fried it in coconut oil then finished it by baking it for ~20 minutes in a 375-degree oven. The gravy was a flour fried in butter then add seasoned milk (cayenne pepper, chili powder, salt, black pepper) til the right consistency is achieved type of deal. So pretty simple, but awesome-tasting.
The vegetables were the real miracle of dinner. I had some leeks in the refrigerator that I was worried might go bad soon, so I sliced them up into long strips and then did the same to a bit of white onion. Starting with some of the coconut oil I’d fried the chicken in, I fried the onions, the the asparagus I’d cut into small pieces. Then to top off the ensemble, I put in some grape tomatoes at the end just to warm them up a bit, really. I salted, peppered, plated, photographed.
Oh boy, did I ever enjoy!
Just as an aside…Can I mention how foolish my chef’s uniform du jour was for frying chicken:
So I made a real dinner tonight, for the first time in a long while. I stuffed chicken legs with basil, put them atop a bed of raw garlic, and then put potatoes over that. Lemon juice and olive oil are drizzled over all that good stuff. Now it is sitting in a 350-degree oven as prescribed, and I have been waiting for it for not even half of the recommended 45-50 minutes.
I am impatient and hungry.
I have also decided to make a quick appetizer. Just some French bread, grape tomatoes, and more fresh basil, then some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, finally I cracked some salt and pepper over it all. That was delicious, and now my food is done cooking in that 350-degree oven. YAY!
Ugh. So the chicken was yummy-yum deliciousness! It was cooked perfectly. Still juicy and tender, but cooked all the way through, without a drop of pink in the juices. I love chicken for its adaptability and its propensity to take on other flavors. It is also tasty on its own fried in egg and flour but tonight’s chicken was simply lemon-y, basil-y goodness.
The potatoes on the other hand…not so perfect. I am thoroughly disappointed in the potatoes…they had such potential and they did not make good. Only a few bites out of all the potatoes came out even remotely cooked properly. The others were hard, dry, and just…yuck! I am saddened by said potatoes.
It’s taken me only two semesters of graduate school—aka $15,000 in loans—to decide that I’m not interested in getting a Master’s degree in English literature. I’ve finally decided to realize a dream that’s been roasting in my noggin’ for going on three years now. I want to go to culinary school. And I don’t mean just take a few classes. I want to do what Julia Child did and go to a FANCY culinary school. Not necessarily the world-famous Cordon Bleu, but still, somewhere prestigious would be nice. It would just be so delightful to me, as both an aspiring food writer/gourmet chef/fabulous baker. I want to chop up onions the right way for hours every day until I master knife skills. I want to learn to make a pretty poached egg that doesn’t overcook on the inside. And I am willing to take out a huge loan in order to do it. I’d prefer to get a job to begin paying off my current loan, and then save up to pay for culinary school, but I’m not the patient sort.
And I’m sure that like my parents, boyfriend and best friend, you are secretly (or, as in the case of father and boyfriend, not so secretly) worried about my sanity in wanting to pursue such a venture. I know I would probably write it off as a pipe dream if I were them. But they’re all at least pretending to be supportive, which I dearly appreciate. Although if they ever tell me I’m crazy or dreaming too big, we all know I won’t listen anyway because who’s to say what I can or cannot accomplish? Only my cat Jane is allowed to say I’m crazy because only crazy knows crazy, right? Although of course as I write, she’s sleeping purrrrrrfectly quietly on my lap.
I don’t know how it gets to be so, but cooking really is therapeutic. I can have the crappiest day ever and it will always be better after I’ve cooked. I guess it helps knowing that recipes are easily found and easy to follow. Mostly the easily found part. It never fails that I can pick something to make for dinner if I look for a few minutes at a cookbook or my Pinterest food board!
Tonight though, I used my old standby, Supercook.com, to pick out a recipe. It was a simple garlicky cream pasta sauce. The blog the recipe was on even recommended accompaniments to pair with the pasta. So I made chicken and a green vegetable just as recommended, although I had asparagus, not kale in my refrigerator.
And though my sauce could have used perhaps more salt, and definitely the parmesan cheese I was missing, my chicken, and the asparagus turned out to be just what I’d hoped. Filling and delectable. I have to say that no, I did not eat all the chicken I put on the plate for the pictures. But I thought it would look better to have two pieces. And who the hell cares if I DO do that and then refrigerate the uneaten piece for leftovers? I certainly don’t! I’m going to make a salad with it, and my pecans and dried cranberries.
I have a 1lb box of baby greens in the fridge and I plan to eat ALL of it before it goes bad. So I’m having fruit and vegetable smoothies and salads all month long. Actually, probably only for the next two weeks…because vegetables don’t tend to stay crisp very long in my experience. But I’m going to feel healthy as hell because of it, don’t you think?
I’m still thinking of making some sort of dessert for tonight/this weekend because I have a can of sweetened condensed milk in my cupboard that’s been winking at me trying to get me to boil it for a caramel dip for the apples it’s sitting beside.
I just finished catching up on the latest How I met Your Mother with my boyfriend and the episodes were as per usual, hilarious. This was a post my-mom-left-after-visiting-for-the-weekend, watching-TV-online-while-my-boyfriend-watches-at-his-own-place good, ol’-fashioned television date. Haha, oh my goodness.
Anywho, my mom left around 10.30pm, so I hope she’s home safe now. We went all over, exploring the City and eating sushi and all kinds of other fun activities. And we totally spent two hours at the aquarium today because I couldn’t get enough of the salty marine critters. I love sharks, Sturgeon, and all those other cool looking giant fish. The aquarium had three Giant Sea Bass, which I got some great pictures of, by the way. I loooove the show River Monsters and my boyfriend always watches that with me, too. (We also watch Once Upon a Time, if you must know, haha)
Well, so, the moral of the story is that I cooked food for my mom, as I had wanted to do last weekend. I made her try sardines with me yesterday. I got a French bread mini-baguette, sardines in olive oil and then spread the baguette with butter. Then we piled on the sardines and squeezed some lemon over top. Some whole-seed mustard over everything else and they were actually (somewhat surprisingly) delectable. I surprised myself by liking them! My mum wasn’t as big a fan as I was because she associates sardines with pet food (she feeds her dog and cat raw, and sardines are one of the many protein sources they get), but she slathered on the mustard and at least pretended to enjoy them!
After our sardines, we took a ride out to the City, shopped at the Union Square mall (I found a Cry-Baby shirt with a lovely portrait of Johnny Depp <3), and had sushi (where I tried soft-shell crab for the first time…not a huge fan of the “edible” shell thing…. Then this morning I made her my breakfast specialty: quinoa “pudding” which is just quinoa boiled and then drenched in (no, not butter this time) honey-flavored Greek yogurt, very tasty and creamy. Then we went back to the City, went for a walk, and hit the farmers’ market and the aquarium. It was pretty much the most awesome weekend I’ve had since Valentine’s Day with my boy. Which to be fair, wasn’t hard after the crap weekend and subsequent week I had last week/weekend. But it exceeded all expectations. My mum let me lead her around the City and I made all the decisions, except that she had to leave tonight…I wanted her to drive out tomorrow morning because I get nervous about her vision, driving at night. Neither she nor I can see very well when driving at night…
When we got back to my house (before she left me), I made her a surprise dinner. Well the dinner wasn’t a surprise, but she didn’t know what I was making until I was at least halfway through making it, which was the main point. I made my own toasts out of another mini-baguette, and grated a ton of Gruyere cheese to broil on top of the (if I may say so) yummy French Onion Soup that I slaved over. I also made Brussels sprouts roasted with cranberries and pecans, with some leftover Gruyere over top.
Long story short, I had a great weekend with great company and great food. This portends for a better week than last week.