Wednesday, January 31, 2007

i want my, i want my. . .

sometimes i find myself watching informercials in a bizarre zombie like state and occasionaly they either pique my interest (does that really work?) or depress me (someone's gonna pay 3 installments of $39.95 for that piece of crap) but always they convince me that people have way too much time on their hands and the power of the product creating the market.

here are a few of my *favorites*:

i would like to be able to make it's ready already alfredo

sometimes making pasta is so messy

i always wanted to vacuum seal every item of clothing i own

wouldn't you think he knows what he's talking about too?

i finally have a solution to one of my more embarrassing problems

aren't you ever too tired to do this pesky hygiene task yourself?

i'm going to request for this at my gym

this has got to be suuuuuuper comfortable

this is definitely the best use of yoga i've ever seen

up next: a journey into skymall. . .what might be one of my favorite publications of all time.

WGC #21

some people are "concerned" that this blog is too focused on rogray's whatcha' got cookin' challenge...and by some i mean jk and my momz. well don't worry -- it will all soon come to an end and then you will wake up one morning, come to this blog and be surprised at the sense of loss that fills you and as steam from your morning cup of coffee wafts around you, you will delicately ponder out loud "i wonder what rogray has been cooking lately?" and then you will see that it's true what joni mitchell says: you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

kugs couldn't hang out with us monday night so ms. n and i dressed rogray up in girls clothing so we could pretend it was our usual hang and he cooked us this:

spaghetti with beef and mushrooms in a cream sauce

spaghetti with beef and mushrooms in a cream sauce. solid, good weeknight meal although rogray might disagree because he was annoyed at how long it took him to chop up a pound of mushrooms.

in the interest of full disclosure: we did break one rule on this one in that we altered the recipe -- we used fat free half-and-half instead of heavy cream -- also we ran out of pepper so it was under-peppered -- but the cream substitution made no difference to me.

if we were to make it again i would use ground turkey meat instead of beef because it's not worth my 1-2 servings of red meat a month thing. (also in full disclosure: do you know how hard it is to only eat red meat 1-2 times a month? that shit is good!)

here is nicole excited to dig in:

dig in!

and now she takes a taste...with caution:

is this going to be tasty?

a moment of indecision: is this tasty or not?

this is good!

and finally -- this is so good you better not come near my bowl!

because rogray is one of those skinny people with a bottomless pit for a stomach he ended his meal with a snack of cashew butter and crackers -- which he went crazy for:

dee lish ish


crazy for cashew butter

this weekend rogray is going to attempt eggs benedict -- a dish i am not insane enough to try -- it is highly possible that i will be writing about how rogray has gone mad and is covered in egg chanting something about poaching. . .

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

love, love, love

this isn't my actual winter coat. this is the white, butt-length version of what i have which is a chocolate brown, 3/4 length coat filled with down magic.

you see, i am in love with my coat.

first off it's guaranteed to keep you warm in temperatures down to -30F!! -30!!!

second off -- it's brown and i look good in brown.

third off -- i like the hood because it not only keeps my head warm but when it's on i feel like an arctic eskimo princess (never mind that when it's on i lose all peripheral vision and wouldn't be able to tell that someone is walking up behind me to stab me but this is a minor problem -- unless i do get stabbed in which case it's a major problem.)

also, my coat is big enough to be used as a blanket when taking naps -- which i have done. twice. once in my car when rogray and i had to wait to get his sister at the airport and i was tired and once at work when i reeeeeeeeally needed a 20 minute power-nap to make it to 6pm.

no, i wasn't under my desk -- i was in an unused office that has a couch in it.

also this coat has one pocket on the inside for my cellphone and zippered pocket on the inside for my ipod or the insane amounts of cash i carry around the city with me.

just kidding about that last part.

or am i?

the point is that l.l. bean makes a damn fine winter coat. it wasn't overpriced -- it keeps me warm and keeps me cute while keeping me warm.

i love you l.l. bean down insulated ultra-warm chocolate brown 3/4 length coat!

saturday night

saturday night the critic and his g-fry, lady love, had rogray and i over for dinner. doo-blay date!!!

we came in and saw this on the stove:

coq au wha?

and we were all "um, critic? what's for dinner?" and he tried to convince us that it was this:


here they are asking "don't you like old cooking grease and fat?"

profile bottoms up!

then they said "just kidding! we're having coq au vin! and homemade bread with sage! and carrots and parsnips in thyme butter sauce!"

bittman bread the butler way coq au yeah!

but before we could eat we had to spend some quality time with their dog, ramona. let's take a look at how cute she is, shall we?

ramona up close
go tail go!

go tail go!! tail wagging is the fastest thing ramona does. and i'm not kidding. i dog-sat for her and walking her takes 45 minutes -- not because she's a poop machine but because that's how long it takes her to go one block!

this is what happens when she gets fresh:

ramona gets personal

dog face in my crotch. . .which led to rogray reminding me that i shouldn't be so loose and that some people would call that cheating.

hey you

we got serious and ate:

this is serious lady love the critic

then we got silly.


after that we got serious again. why, you ask? because the critic and lady love's cat mashuganah almost destroyed our desserts!!!


i had to distract her with a photo shoot.

the extreme close-up:

kitty close up

the kitty head shot:

kitty head shot

i set up the dessert plate:

dessert tray!

while the critic frothed some milk:


and made us some hot cafe au lait action:


i'm sure i could make some horribly sexual joke about how the milk frother got "excited" and spilled over and look at the "head" on that coffee mug but i won't do it.

after eating every thing on the dessert plate we moved to the fireplace:

burn baby burn

and ended the night in dork town. while you other "cool" people were out at bars trying to get laid or off at some swank art opening or play we were surfing the web for information about the movie version of the golden compass. because that is how we muthafuckin' roll!

we're geeks

notice how happy lady love is. look at the intensity on the critic's face. look at how bored rogray is. why is he bored? because he's heartless and doesn't care about philip pullman's his dark materials series and won't read them. i'm sorry for him because his life is colder and lonelier without these books.

(the website for the movie is here. it looks awesome. i'll be going to a midnight showing.)

rogray and i left happy, full, and a little tipsy. the critic is a great cook, nay, chef and lady love is an excellent hostess.

WGC #20

and he's back folks. wgc #19 was a rough spot but he picked himself up off the ground, wiped the dust off his ass, did some calisthenics, lifted some weights, showered and got back in the kitchen...with a vengeance. mario batali style.

pork with sweet garlic

this is pork with sweet garlic and fennel aka Arista con Aglio e Finocchio...bitches.

first off -- i'd like to compliment rogray for picking something other than chicken to prepare -- i thought he might go to his safety zone but no -- he chose pig. and he doesn't even really like pork -- but this time he did... and why this time? because this time the pork was juicy, moist, and flavorful. this time the pork was smothered in plump, sweet, soft cloves of garlic that easily spread over the loin filling my palette with a sweet bite of flavor. and this time there was thinly sliced sauteed fennel bulb and a dash of fennel seeds to add a slight sharp punch to the whole thing.

this, people, this was the way to kick off the final 10.

Friday, January 26, 2007

monday, monday

when rogray and i made our triumphant return home to nyc and he started on his whatcha got cookin' project kugs and ms. n would come be guinea pigs and taste testers with me. and somehow these nights kept falling on a monday. so now kugs, ms. n and i try to have dinner every monday together -- and i've taken to calling it supper club. sometimes ms. n's boyfriend is there and sometimes rogray is there and if the hulk can make it he eats with us too -- but the real intention is for kugs, ms. n and i to hang out and eat food together.

this past monday ms. n and i went to kugs' for some pear, pecan, gorgonzola salad with steak on top. . .ooo la la. . .

this is kugs working her chopping, slicing, dicing magic:

kugs in the kitchen

this is me "helping" her:


i wish i was still wearing ms. n's hat because it is veryveryvery cold here today.

here is ms. n pleasantly surprised we are having steak:
what's this?

but now she is so so sooooo veeeeeeery hot:
is it hot in here?

thank goodness she could cool off with this glass of sparkling water:
oh hello

since kugs is getting hitched this july she has a bunch of stuff to do -- like making origami boxes for chocolate treats at the party. so we decided to help her. since she is a teacher she was very clear in her instructions:

this is the hard part

this is how they were supposed to look:


while kugs and i folded our hearts out ms. n made us brazilian french toast (it's brazilian because it has rum in it!)
breakfast for dessert!

so we ate dessert and folded paper:
i'm just folding some paper

notice how she is thinking "i'm kugs. i'm cute. and my folding is perfect."

and that's monday night supper club. don't you wish you had a supper club of your own?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

grandma mary

my grandmother passed away on tuesday morning. she had been sick for a few months and had been stuck alternating between a nursing home and the hospital. she was asleep when it happened and the actual moment of death was quick and painless. it was a death that was a relief in a way -- in the end she wasn't the person we knew her to be and she wasn't living life they way she would have wanted. it was her time.

i am sad. and i am sad for my mom and my uncle who now have no parents.

my grandmother and i had a tenuous relationship from time to time. once i think i busted her for smoking in our house and told on her to my parents -- i was in 3rd grade or something -- what do you want from me?

she loved crosswords puzzles -- so do i. she thought i was stubborn -- but so was she. she thought i was too opinionated and sassy -- but guess what? so was she. it may be our similarities that had us butting heads.

she hated dogs and cats. she didn't like 99% of the food out there -- give her some meat and buttered noodles and she'd be good to go. no matter where she went she carried a portable bar with her so she could make some special drink i can never remember the name of (the only cocktail she drank her entire life) without having to depend on a bartender or understocked house. she loved golf. the only tv worth watching was the golf channel and c-span. she played bridge every week until she got sick. she loved her hand-held poker game. she would talk to anyone who would listen. she went to the same grocery store for years because the people there knew her even if it was more expensive than the other store. she loved collecting elephants (it didn't hurt that she was a republican). i can only remember seeing her cry twice and both times were towards the end of her life.

she was tough as nails. . .she came from a generation where expressing your love was simply not done -- but she loved all of us: her son, her daughter, her husband, me and even my dad -- although she would have a hard time fessing up to that last one -- i know it's true.

she will be missed.

Monday, January 22, 2007

saturday night fever

saturday was a very good day. the chef invited us to her place in poughkeepsie for a scrumptious dinner made with her own 2 hands. she live in poughkeepsie because she's working at the culinary institute of america (her alma mater) and if you had to live in poughkeepsie wouldn't you invite your friends up for dinner?

so in the afternoon i got behind the wheel of our little 1991 mazda and rogray got in the passenger set with directions and the atlas:
my co-pilot

and then 3 lovely ladies (lil d, the artista and ms. mo) squished themselves into the back seat:

rearviewback seat 1back seat 2

and then we were off on our merry way to meet up with the reverend k at the chef's place.

for some reason we took the single worst way to the thruway -- it involved driving through a tunnel into manhattan, over various bridges, into a cave lit by gold and gaurded by fairy monkeys, being forced to go on a mythical journey to find an emerald chalice that would not only cure cancer but help you lose weight. all in bumper to bumper traffic. but we triumphed! and when we got to the chef's gorgeous apartment we were greeted with this table:

the table



the salads

stuffed chicken breast with potatoes and stuff, an orzo salad with feta, a spicy chickpea salad, a mixed green salad with pita, and i didn't even get a picture of the artichoke stuffed bread. unfortunately i don't have details of the food she served because i immediately started drinking wine and i promptly forgot what she said was in the food as she said it. what i do know is that everything we ate was outstanding and also, dates are really yummy.

this is what it looked like while we ate:

we eatwe servewe're sillythe boys the chef was a pastry student at the c.i.a. and now is the teacher's assistant at this cafe on campus. so dessert was from there:


due to the decorations i am assuming this had some vanilla, anise and cinnamon in it but again, all i remember is it tasting good. . .really really good. . .

clean platesfinal crumbs

the chef loves dessert.

things got silly quickly. . .and i think this moment probably had something to do with it:
hilarity begins

as did the discovery of these chopsticks which were a gift from the reverend k to the chef:
monkey sticks

extreme eatingextreme eating 2

i had to stop rogray when he tried to eat this:

don't make a mess

i just didn't think he's like that much fiber all at once.

but then the reverend k wanted to play:
vas ees das?

he's eating the cork!
don't eat that!

can he get it out?
go get it

we got it!

notice how in the back of the corkscrew picture ms. mo and the chef could care less that the reverend k has a cork stuck in his mouth? heartless.

rogray and reverend k weren't done. first, rogray lost his hand:
oh my god!!

but then he found it:

reverend k nursed his wounds by drinking some vino:
like a kitten to milk

while i just told them to settle down:
caught on film

meanwhile, ms. mo and lil d were so absorbed in conversation they missed rogray almost eating a roll of paper towels, reverend k eating a cork, and rogray punching reverend k out:
can i help you?

the focus turned briefly to the chef's adopted son, paolo:
emily's son

but then we did more of this:
more wine?

which led to this:
hugsdrunk hugsbesties4eva

and this:
high five?even more hugsblonde ambition

and finally this:
take that!

which ms. mo had this to say about:
smart mo

reverend k had to leave early to catch a train back to the big bad city so we bid farewell to his little ipod and big earphones:
small ipod, big earphones

and were very sad. but only for a little bit because rogray stunned us with one of his dork superpowers!! he can recite every single presidential election (he has to say the year and who ran) in under 2 minutes.

ms. mo timed while rogray got to it and we all looked on:

2 minuteshe's doing itis this amazing?or not amazing?can he do it?pressure mounts

he did it!!! at first i tried to pretend to be all embarrassed but then i got nervous he wouldn't ne able to do it and then he did it!!!! with 2 seconds to spare!!

he's a dork superhero!

after that high the only thing we could do was leave and head back to the city (thanks rogray for be the designated driver!).

i'll end on our group photos. it's the first time i used the 10 second timer on my camera.

really cool

we're cool

we took a much more sensible, albeit darker and windier, route back home.

this was an amazing night -- one of those times where you forget about everything and just enjoy being with people you love and who love you. i hadn't really been able to hang out with the reverend k or the artista since i've moved back and i'd never really hung out with lil d so it was nice to do both.

thanks chef -- you are a treat. . .