Monday, December 29, 2008

Price Hill Chili for the Beginner

I went to Price Hill Chili in the company of a Price Hill Chili pro. I am not a pro, I'm not a native Cincinnatian, and worse, I live on the east side. But I was eager to discover this institution, and after a couple of wrong turns, I found my destination and a double decker with my name on it.

It's places like Price Hill Chili that make me wish I could eat like a hot dog champion. I don't want to order one thing, what if I pick wrong? My cheese and tomato double decker was fine, everything a cheese and tomato sandwich with cholesterol-free mayo can be, but I saw a parade of better-looking entrees floating by my table. The table next to us received a double cheeseburger stacked like a skyscraper. I wanted to leap out of my booth and snatch it right off their plate.

I didn't resort to stealing anyone else's food, I've just resigned to re-visiting Price Hill Chili until I get it right. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cookie Wreck

I attended a cookie decorating Christmas party over the weekend. Turns out I don't have a hidden talent for pastry decoration. Bummer! I was so hoping to send my resume to Charm City Cakes. Oh well.

I was also introduced to a fantastic blog called Cake Wrecks. It showcases professional cakes that turn out all wrong in very funny ways. Check it out, and happy holiday food decorating to everyone.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

French Shrimp Mold and Other Midwestern Delights

Mom broke out the stash of old holiday recipe books this morning. She was putting together a batch of no-bake cookies, the most wonderful cookie ever created, and I opened up a copy of the Holiday Recipe book courtesy the Iowa Public Service Company, published 1985. I was shocked and amazed. Salads with mayonnaise and mini marshmallows? Peppermint candies with no actual peppermint? Chinese Liver and Vegetables? What do they mean?

I can't stop reading it. Maybe it's more disturbing because I'm reading Omnivore's Dilemna, but there's some seriously scary stuff in here, like "French Shrimp Mold." The word "mold" is in the name of the thing. And there's nothing in the salad section that even remotely resembles a salad. Half of them call for a packet of lemon jello. "Pretzel Salad." "Mystery Salad." It's mind boggling.

There are also helpful tips on using your dishwasher and garbage disposal on the bottom of the page. This book is a gold mine.

Like it or not, these are recipes are stitched into our Midwestern history, the skeletons in our recipe closets. We still whip up a condensed soup casserole every couple of years. We love it. Do you have a casserole in your closet?

In case it sounded tempting, here's the Shrimp Mold recipe, submitted by Mrs. Martie Ech of Moville, Iowa:

French Shrimp Mold

1 can tomato soup
1 (8-oz.) pckg.cream cheese
1 1/2 tsp. Knox gelatin
1/4 cup hot water
1 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup green onion
1 cup shrimp, minced

Warm tomato soup and add cream cheese. Dissolve gelatin in hot water and add to above. Add mayonnaise, celery, onion and shrimp. Pour into mold. Let stand in refrigerator until firm. Serve with crackers.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wild Ginger Revisited

Wild Ginger in Hyde Park has a new hibachi grill, full bar, and a bunch of brand new Ikea lamps. At the old Wild Ginger, I waited for my table in the cramped nook by the entrance, usually in a stranger's lap. At the new Wild Ginger, I waited comfortably at the bar with my good friend Sam Adams. It was lovely. Our table was in the new section, and I liked the new decor. Occasionally, flames would leap view from the hibachi, adding a thrill factor to my dinner. I ordered the sunny roll, stuffed with crunchy tempura shrimp, mango, and cucumber. It arrived looking plenty sunny, but it actually tasted a bit bland. My friend ordered some sort of duck stir fry, and his review went something like "Eh." Then again, we don't go to Wild Ginger to be wowed, we go for the atmosphere, the non-Hyde Park prices in Hyde Park, and some pretty decent Asian food.

Wild Ginger on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

...And Sushi for All

A photo from Kyoto in Symmes Township. I met a friend there a few weeks ago so that she could try sushi for the first time. Overall, it was a success. Salmon wasn't a big hit, but that's okay. I think there's a sushi roll out there for everyone.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Nothin' says lovin' like lunch at the Echo.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Malt or Milkshake?

I order a kid's sized chocolate malt at Steak and Shake, my guiltiest guilty pleasure. Nine out of ten times, my fellow diners go, "Malt? What the heck is a malt?"

A malt, I explain, is a milkshake, only better. It's what a milkshake aspires to be, the way certain grapes are destined to become wine. Making a milkshake without adding malted milk powder is like making a cake and saying, "You know, I think I'll leave the frosting off this one."

Ordering a milkshake instead of a malt was strictly forbidden in my family. I thought other kids lived by the same rule, but moving out of the upper Midwest, I've discoverd that this isn't true. I'm trying to understand why this is so. Is it a geographical thing? And what goes on in New England? They have an entirely different vocabulary for milkshakes up there.

So here's what I want to know-- do you prefer malts or milkshakes? And does it have anything to do with where you grew up?

The truth is out there, I'm sure of it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

You're never too old for a hand turkey.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


You know it's going to be a good day when you find this box in the break room...

...and a season of overindulgence begins. Have you had your Schnecken today?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kroger Fresh Fare

It's here. Is it worth a trip to Kenwood just to marvel at the new Kroger? Depends on what you want. I was definitely impressed by Murray's Cheese Shop. Lots of unique stuff and helpful staff. I got some Wisconsin Cheddar with blueberries-- where else can you find that? (Okay, maybe Jungle Jims, but that's an entirely different weight class.) Cheese aside, I wanted to know what would make this Kroger any more special and big-boxier than the Kroger in Anderson. There were plenty of similarities-- the tortilleria, the fresh donuts, the dine-in sushi bar. The fresh fare just seemed a little more polished and more food-oriented. I like that. I don't need my grocery store to sell diamond necklaces. Just good food.
Overall, I'd say it's an upscale Kroger with a few more tricks up its sleeve, but nothing to make a special trip across town for. Except maybe the cheese.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Virtual Freestore Foodbank

The Cincinnati Blog has challenged all local bloggers to offer a link to the Freestore Foodbank's virtual donation program. Yes to change, yes to Cincinnati, and yes to looking out for eachother.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Compliments to the Chef

So you’re at Twist on a Saturday night. You order a vanilla cocktail, and it arrives with a rim of cinnamon and actual vanilla bean pieces floating on top. You take a sip and think “Wow, that’s strong!” It’s delicious too, and as you sit enjoying your drink you glance over to the bar and see Chef Jean-Robert de Cavel himself chatting with a member of the wait staff. Do you:

Mind your own business and finish your extraordinarily potent cocktail


Set down your drink, march across the room, intrude on his conversation and introduce yourself?

Choose wisely, friends.

You shake his hand, say a few words about how much you enjoy his restaurants, and find yourself thinking, “What the hell am I doing?” And then, and this part is key, your mind grapples for some relevant question to ask and you hear yourself asking him if his restaurant group is splitting up.

“Oh, you know, I can’t really talk about that.” He politely sidesteps the question in his thick accent.

Now you are sure that you’ve run out of things to say. You babble something again about how wonderful his food is and scurry back to the comfort of your overstuffed chair and a really, really good drink.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cheap Gift Certificates - Good Deal?
has gift certificates to restaurants like Seny, Allure, Beluga and Tinks for way cheap- $10 for a $25 certificate. Most have limitations and minimum food purchases, but it sounds pretty sweet to me anyway. Has anyone ever used this website before? I have no experience with, but this sounds awfully tempting.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Buffalo Wings, Rings, and Food Poisoning

When you eat at a restaurant with with a roll of paper towels at every table, you leave some of your standards at the door. I didn't expect to walk away feeling refreshed, energized, and inspired by the rare culinary experience at Buffalo Wings and Rings in Springdale. I wanted fried food, slathered in buttery sauce, and I wanted to eat until I ran out of room, like a hotdog eating champion. And I did. Later, I found out that I was one order of chicken wings away from a night in urgent care.

I won't name my dining cohort, since I'm not sure she wants the details of her gastronomical troubles released to the public. We like wings, and we like eating them in gross excess on occasion. It's the American way. We'd both eaten at Wings and Rings before without especially bad consequences. It seemed like a natural choice after an hour of intense shopping at Tri-County Mall.

It was something in her batch of fried wings, or it was the 25 cent gumball on her way out of the restaurant, but it was something vicious and it took her down hard.

We should have seen it coming. The fly on my unfinished salad was funny at the time, hysterical even, watching its little nozzle mouth sucking on an unwanted onion. What difference could a fly make? I was done with my food. I'll be done with my Buffalo Wings and Rings food for a long time now, come to think of it.

We laughed in the parking lot about our purchases from the quarter vending machines, oblivious to her impending illness. For my quarter, I got a little treasure from a machine advertising "Cuffs and Stuff," which means you have a chance of getting a tiny pair of handcuffs or... stuff. Stuff, as it turned out, was a plastic sea horse charm on a piece of black string.

I'm wearing my sea horse around my wrist as a show of solidarity with those who fall victim to food poising. While my friend spent the rest of her night in misery, I drank rum and cokes with my mom and fell asleep watching Die Hard. It's unfair. I can only recognize her suffering and remember that, but for the grace of my waiter, there am I. That and never ever eat at that Buffalo Wings and Rings again.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Eat Your Veggies

My fall standby sidedish, roasted root veggies. No frills. Just goodness.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Donna, Cookie Contessa

Donna Phelps is a Cookie Contessa. It's on her business card. She just opened a store, a little cookie haven called Donna's Gourmet Cookies, on Montgomery road near 275. I drive by every day on my way to work, and this might turn into a serious addiction.

Did you know there are two Donnas that bake in our big-ish city? Donna Ziv bakes muffins, cookies, and other treats under the label Donna's Delights. Awakenings in Hyde Park carries her line of goodies. I like knowing that if I'm ever in need of a homemade pastry, it's never far away. The Donnas have it covered.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Twelve and Under

I asked for a kid's sized quesadilla at Moe's today, with extra veggies please, and somehow I was signed up for the whole kids meal deal. They didn't even card me.

Alright, I doubt that age was an issue. It's some sort of unspoken rule in chain restaurants that if you're weird enough to order from the kids menu, and you ask nicely, it doesn't matter that you miss the "twelve and under" mark by at least ten years. They give you the kid's quesadilla.

My kid's quesadilla came with:
-a basket of tortilla chips
-salsa and sour cream
-an 18 oz. soda
-an oatmeal raisin cookie (my choice)

This all cost less than five dollars. In an economic crisis, I'm not going to turn my nose up at a deal like that.

I sat at a booth, ate my lunch among real grown-ups eating real quesadillas, glancing between bites at a tv screen airing episodes of Spongebob Squarepants. As long as I can get away with it, I'll take my cartoons and cookies at lunch.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Food Science of Sleep

True Story: Last night I dreamed I was at the Waffle House and they had introduced a dim sum menu. I thought, "hey, that's pretty neat!" but then I just ordered a waffle.

Do you dream about food?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

All Things Pumpkin

We are currently tuned in to my favorite segment of fall, one of the pleasantest times of year, that pre-fall fall where it is cool in the morning and evening but hot and summery in the day. This is before the avalanche of the impending holiday season crashes over us. This is the start of pumpkin season.

When I talk about pumpkins I mean pumpkin flavored things, not actual pumpkins. Those are good for displaying on your porch or table setting, or if you are of a craftier persuasion, hewing menacing faces into and illuminating with candles. This gets messy. I prefer pumpkins in their most concentrated and pure form.

Here is a list of pumpkin flavored products I have sought out, tasted, and approved for general consumption:

Kennebunkport Pumpkin Ale
-Available at Trader Joe's. First, it tastes like beer. Then pumpkin pie. And the two are lovely together.

Pumpkin Scone
-Starbucks. Good for a quick pumpkin fix.

Pumpkin Latte
-Starbucks and caribou coffee stores. Starbucks' is better.

Edy's Double Churn Lite Pumpkin Ice Cream
-Tastes exactly like pumpkin pie. I can only assume the full fat version is twice as deadly.

Pumpkin Walnut Cookies
-Iced in White Chocolate. Found at World Market.

I'm just getting started here. We have at least a few weeks before the Christmas season starts. Where can I find more pumpkin goods? Pumpkin soups, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin pastries? All suggestions are welcome.

[picture of pumpkin festival in Keene, NH, a place I treasure, courtesy Atlant via wikimedia commons]

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Sample Lady

Whole Foods has finally arrived in my corner of middle America. Before it was Whole Foods, though, it was Wild Oats, which was basically the same-- a haven of overpriced, pseudo-gourmet organic goods. Wild Oats employed a woman whose sole responsibility was pushing around a cart of samples, tempting shoppers like myself with these free teasers, and persuading us to buy the product. I felt entitled to whatever the sample lady was peddling from her cart when she came around. She hated my guts.

Standing in the glow of the pastry case, wax paper in hand, I have narrowed my options and am deciding between an oatmeal cookie and a zucchini muffin, and I don’t hear her approaching behind me until she growls,

“Like to try a sample?”

I turn facing her, and she narrows her eyes. She recognizes me. I pretend that I’ve never been offered a sample of anything in my life. Our exchange is always the same.

“What do you have?” I ask.

Vanilla Rice Dream Ice Cream, she’ll say, or pumpkin mousse cups, or shaved roast beef and chipotle mayonnaise on squares of organic whole wheat. It doesn’t matter what she’s offering, I always want it. I accept a roast beef sample. I’m chewing, making noises of approval, nodding with a hand to my mouth, and then she lays down the clincher.

“Roast beef is on sale, two for five dollars. Do you need any roast beef today?”

“Oh, no, but I’ll keep that in mind.” I throw in the last part to hint that one day, because of her efforts, I may return to Whole Foods driven by the memory of that sample and purchase an entire case of roast beef. She never buys it. Instead, she gives me an icy look, as if I have fulfilled her miserably low expectations of me, as if I had wasted her valuable sample peddling time. She says nothing, and she turns her cart around and walks away from me, leaving me with a cellophane-tasseled toothpick and a vague sense of guilt.

Maybe I shouldn’t take samples when I only come in for a pastry. Maybe I should save samples for suburban mothers with three junior soccer stars to feed, people who would genuinely appreciate a sale on roast beef. I shake off these notions quickly when I bring my cookie to the checkout and remind myself that everything at this store is too fucking expensive not to take advantage of all the free food I can lay my hands on.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Baby Carrot Incident

I worked in food service for several years, and so I understand and fully appreciate the Danger Zone. The Danger Zone is a window of temperatures above freezing and below cooking that are very comfortable for bacteria. Vacation weather for bacteria. In the Danger Zone, bacteria fornicate and thrive. They throw parties with tiki bars and shrimp cocktails. Microbes of salmonella bloom into entire nations.

My parents don’t know about the Danger Zone. They were raised by people who lived through the Depression. When you live through a Depression, you lose all ability to throw away food, spoiled or otherwise. Our polarized ideologies are exemplified in our treatment of Specimen 1.A, a cancerous splotch of brown goo afloat in a jar of old applesauce.

In this situation, you respond by:
A) Throwing the whole mess into the garbage disposal
B) Gouging it out with a spoon and dining merrily on what’s left
C) Sticking it back in the refrigerator and cracking open some pudding

The correct answer, if I am grading this test, is A. Mom disagrees.

The refrigerator transformed into a mold incubator when we lost electricity for a full day. Having expertise of food poison, I know that once the temperature rises above forty degrees, everything in the unit has been lost to the Danger Zone. It will be a sad day when we throw the contents of our most treasured appliance away. We could light candles and sing Kumbaya. We can say a few words about the leftovers tossed before their time had come. But it must be done.

Dad didn’t share my view. He treated everything in the refrigerator as if it had just woken up from a brief nap. This is how a bag of baby carrots coated in slime was rinsed in the sink, patted dry, and placed on the dinner table in ceramic bowl.

We dined al fresco on the night of the Baby Carrot Incident. We fought to eat our food before mosquitoes and itch mites ate too much of us. I did not touch the carrots. Dad, confident that he had revived them and provided us with a nutritious side dish, scooped a handful onto his plate and threw one into his mouth.

"Are those the slimy carrots from the refrigerator?"

A simple question, asked innocently enough, but Dad snapped in irritation. He stopped chewing, picked up the bowl of carrots glossy underneath the torch light, and flung them toward the edge of the deck. He had aimed over the railing, where we throw a lot of inedible food into the woods and down a steep hill. The baby carrots, slippery fingers of carrots, missed their target. They scattered across the deck, illuminated for a moment in flight and lost to the darkness as they hit the wooden frame below us with a chorus of soft thuds.

I don't remember clearly, but I think we chuckled. I think we kept eating our burgers and salads sitting in a mine field of rotten carrots spread across the deck. After our meal, we kicked them into the grass and the trees behind the house. Victims of the Danger Zone, sent back into a bed of dirt and decaying leaves.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lights Out Tandoori Chicken Pitas

Say the electricity blinked out just as you were putting your groceries away. Imagine the wind shrieking outside, tearing leaves and twigs from the trees and scattering them across your lawn like birdseed. What do you do? Whip up a marinade out of greek yogurt and tandoori paste, toss it into a ziploc with some raw chicken, and put it all into your dark refrigerator hoping for the best.

Once it’s time to start cooking, find a safe zone on your deck, load the grill with charcoal and light it up. Avoid tree limbs and other dangerous flying objects. Grill the chicken until it’s cooked through. The tandoori marinade will impart it with an appetizing neon pink appearance


Serve with warm pita bread and cucumber yogurt sauce. Light your dining room with candles snatched from Christmas centerpieces and Halloween decorations. For a side dish, enjoy any other perishable item in your refrigerator before it turns into an unidentifiable heap of mold over the next few days.

Friday, September 12, 2008

New Blog Title

Tired of the old one. I can't resist a great internal rhyme.

More morsels soon!

Friday, August 15, 2008


I read that tomorrow is National Rum Day. What are your favorite rum drinks? Here's our favorite concoction. It's not fancy. And it came from a Bobby Flay recipe. But it's refreshing.

Mint Rum Lemonade
1 cup spiced rum
3 cups lemonade
bunch of fresh mint leaves

Combine everything into a pitcher and serve in glasses filled with ice. Easy and delicious.

The Taste of Defeat

Another week of tennis in 90+ heat, another early round loss for Roger Federer. In his storied career, Roger has taken more losses at our tournament than anywhere else in the world (except maybe the French Open). So it wasn't as surprising to see him fall this year, but it certainly meant more than ever. He'll lose his number one ranking to Rafael Nadal in a few days.

Though it wasn't necessarily a shock to watch Roger go down, it was still disappointing. It seems the days of invincible Federer are over. We shouted for him, cheered him on tirelessly, braved dehydration and exhaustion in an attempt to urge Roger through a third set victory. When he let us down, we found consolation at the food court.

A basket of greasy, salty french fries will always dull the bitter taste of disappointment. So will a few bottles of light, domestic beer, but you can all imagine what those look like.

We revived our spirits and rallied for a night session match. As the sun set directly in our eyes, we squinted. But after the sun set behind the stands, we were able to take in the festive scene. The agony and the heat of the day match faded. With a stomach full of fries and beer, I reminded myself how lucky I am to witness such a fantastic display of athletecism, spirited competition, and hot sweaty dudes. We're all winners here, after all.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Chick is Back

I have survived a week of tennis and a whirlwind trip back to Minnesota. Photos aplenty on the digital camera and locked away into disposables. Much food, none of it nutritionally sound, was consumed. More to follow.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Food of Love

When you're a devoted tennis fan living in Cincinnati, Christmas comes twice a year. Six months after the knit sweaters and gift exchanges, 64 of the top players in the world come to the Masters Series tournament in Mason. It's tournament season again, and I'll be celebrating the holiday all week long at the Lindner Family tennis center.

Like other holidays, we celebrate tournament season with traditions. Every year, I forget to apply the appropriate amount of sunscreen and I get a sunburn someplace funky, like the left side of my nose or my kneecaps.

And it wouldn't be tennis tournament time in Mason without a Waffle House breakfast. I love waffles. I love breakfast. Tennis players love waffles too, and I love me some tennis players. When I find myself eating breakfast at the same place as the highest ranked doubles team in the world, I know I'm eating the breakfast of champions.

Dad took this picture, I can't take credit for it. Roger was out practicing Sunday in all of his glory.

Tournament food is usually obscenely overpriced, but a smart girl like me should be able to find some decent eats without breaking the ATM card.

I could go on and on (and on) about tennis, but I'm hungry. Pictures and stories of waffle house, tournament food, and tennis to follow. I love this game.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Quick Bites Around Cincy

Taste From Belgium
Everyone you know has had these authentic belgian waffles already, and like everyone you know, I thought they were tasty. The guys working the Findlay Market stand burnt it when I asked them to warm it up. It was still delicious.

Burger at Arthur's
Everything I wanted in a burger. I ordered mine with cheddar; the little sister got hers blackened with blue cheese. Hers was better.

Blue Wolf Cafe
This is a hole in a Montgomery strip mall wall. You won't see it from Montgomery road because it's overshadowed by Los Portales. Open for breakfast and lunch, the menu has all the usual suspects- salads, wraps, and sandwiches. There are a few surprises, however, like the veggie quesadilla. Mine was crisp and stuffed with peppers, tomatoes, onions, and more unusual items like shredded carrot and chunks of potato. Homemade daily specials. Fresh food. Yum.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Young's Jersey Dairy Farm

After a marathon of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the food network, Dad and I were ready for some heart-clogging, deep-fried, chicken-and-coleslaw kind of food. I spent an afternoon researching various establishments in the area and discovered Young's. It's just north of Yellow Springs on route 68. After picking mom up from the Dayton airport, we found this dairy mecca and settled into a nook of the cavernous dining room.

The walls are adorned with farming paraphernalia and cow-wrangling equipment. The crowd looked like everyone I'd ever seen at Bob Evans. We place our order and then came... quick bread, applesauce and coleslaw? Yes, please.

I ordered the fried chicken salad. I usually refrain from ordering salads with shredded cheese and croutons, but I set my standards aside and decided that it must be okay if it comes with fried chicken. It was.

Crispy on the outside, slightly buttermilky-sweet, and tender on the inside.

Dad ordered a combo platter, and our waitress informed us that dessert was included with his meal. Hot dog! We shared the strawberry shortcake. The shortcake was powder dry. The ice cream was creamy-heavenly.

If Young's is anything, it is a slice of Americana. Just make sure you order your Americana ala mode.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Busken's Mountain Cookie

Wednesday is culinarily important for two reasons- the Dining section of the New York Times is published and Busken bakeries across Cincinnati sell the glorious confections called Mountain Cookies. It's not really a cookie; it's more of a meal. It has everything a growing girl needs- oatmeal, raisins, chunks of chocolate, and walnuts. Besides, everybody needs a little something extra on Wednesday. If it weren't for Frank Bruni's restaurant reviews and Mountain Cookies, Wednesday would totally suck.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

...And the Pursuit of Pastries

I spend my free time, which is a lot of time when you don't have a job, looking for new foods to eat. Pastries are my specialty. I've had scones draped in cherry icing from BonBonerie, flaky chocolate croissants from Frieda's, and muffins from every bakery within a five mile radius of my home.
And so I begin my pursuit to call myself the Pastry Queen of Cincinnati, (won't that look nice on a resume) a title I feel qualified to assume once I try enough of the city's best baked goods. I have a healthy head start, but where do I go next?

My goal is to get to know the city's bakeries, neighborhoods, and breakfast institutions. I want to eat my way across town and lick my fingers when it's all over. What are your favorite Cincinnati baked goods? No pastry is too great or too humble-- croissants and doughnuts are on equal footing here, as long as they are made with love.
Your input, suggestions, and moral support are all welcome! Have you had your pastry today?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder

I am not a red meat kind of girl. I'll eat it when it's the star of a menu, but give me a salad topped with a delicately balanced poached egg, a veggie pizza dripping with mozzerella, or better yet, a chocolate croissant, and I'll call it a good meal. Consequently, I'm hopeless at the meat counter. I ask with some uncertainty for a boneless pork shoulder, around two and a half pounds, pretty please. I expect to be sniffed out as a non meat-worshiper and dismissed with a shout of,
"Get out of here, veggie lover! We don't serve your kind!"
Instead, the butcher tells me he'll bring it out and disappears into the Back Room. I hear saws whirring. I am handed a glorious, glistening hunk of pork the size of my head. I place it in the passenger seat of my car and drive it home to meet its destiny.

"Trim excess fat from pork shoulder."
Right. After a ten-minute wrestling match with the pork, it has surrendered a wad of fat about the size of my fist. The remaining fat is tucked away in impossible folds of pig meat. I give up.

The pork is in the slow cooker now, peppered and salted, sweating in a
little sauna of onion and chicken broth. In approximately four hours, it'll be
ready for a wheat bun, a little mayonnaise, and a lot of love.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Baby Dill

So this is an actual pickle found in our real-life pickle jar.

I know people see Jesus in their toast and stuff, but doesn't it look eerily

The better question is, what does this pickle want? Escape? A life's fulfillment as relish on a steamy, beef patty hot off the grill?

I assume the pickle was eaten and enjoyed by one of the pickle-eaters in my family. (Pickles for me? No thank you.) We can all honor its memory here in the world wide web.

Thanks, pickle. You're one in a million.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Freeze Dried Rambutan

Like you, I had to google “rambutan” to find out what it is. It’s a spiny fruit blessed with an excellent PR agent. I imagine a stern woman with square-framed glasses sitting at a desk, calmly answering e-mails and requests on rambutan’s behalf. She’s even gone to the trouble of creating a website, You will find detailed instructions on how best to open the rind and consume the fruit inside.

The back of my re-sealable bag of freeze-dried rambutan, purchased from the reputable Trader Joe, claims that the fruit contains the mysterious, fifth taste “umami.” Like you, I have heard of this umami and so far, I still don’t understand what it is except MSG that doesn’t give you cancer.

Judging by the photos on rambutan's website, it looks like a scary lychee. Mine look like kix with elephantitis, but they taste delicious.