Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spaghetti-less Meatballs

My kids:  What's for dinner?
Me:  Meatballs.
Them:  But what's all that green stuff in them?  And where's the pasta? And the sauce*?
Me:  These are Asian meatballs.  We're having them with rice and the sauce is right over there.  It's teriyaki sauce. You like teriyaki sauce, right?

They stare at me like I'm from another planet.
What is with that?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cheese-In Crackers

My husband: Now what are you doing?  We're supposed to leave in an hour.
Me:  I signed up to bring a cheese tray to the potluck tonight.
Him: So how come the oven's on and there's flour all over the counter?
Me:  Because I'm baking the crackers.
My husband:  What universe do you live in?*

I do probably need to go see someone about this.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A three-ish hour tour

With apologies to the original:

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a tasty trip
That started from a parking lot
Aboard this very nice bus.

The guide was a mighty chatty man
The skipper kind and sure
We passengers set off that day
For an LA doughnut tour, an LA dough-nut tour*

The first stop was at Twin Castles, aye!
We were suitably impressed
For many of this discerning crew
Their doughnuts were the best, their doughnuts were the best**

The bus went round the 405 to the world famous Stan's
With Maple Logs
And fritters, too***
Banana filled with cream
Buttermilk bars
Peanut butter and chocolate too!****
Inhaled 'fore we'd gone a mile

Tres hip was the place that we went next
With goodies baked not fried
They serve Earl Gray spiced blueberry*****
(fonuts) will make a foodie cry

From there we walked our butts to Bob's
Inside a market filled with lore
Their classic glazed was delectable
More ice cold milk was poured

Downtown, big line, no wait for us
The Nickel Diner crew came through,
With maple bacon doughnut holes
And tales wild and true

The group was full, the prizes done
Every face had a big grin
The bus of sugar-filled people begged,
"When can we go again?!"

For a blow-by-blow account, watch the slideshow:

To eat yourself silly, follow the map:

View The Doughnut Tour! in a larger map

* Thank you to my friend Andrea for introducing me to John and Laura, who put together a truly amazing morning.  We were treated like doughnut royalty everywhere, with personal greetings from the owners, special tastings, and one delicious treat after another.  There were trivia contests (I won a pound of coffee for correctly guessing that there are 820 independent doughnut shops in Los Angeles County), historical tidbits, cold milk and great company provided.  They are putting together a Taco Tour at the end of March. Yowza! 
** Could have been the coffee that was included, and the fact that Laura made sure we each were served our very favorite kind of doughnut here.
*** Best apple fritter I've ever had - especially the crispy outside bits with the tender apples and flaky sugar glaze.  But one or two bites is all you need. Otherwise you'll fall into a sugar coma.
**** Now named for its biggest fan, Huell Howser.
***** And salted caramel, rosemary olive oil, chorizo cheese, fresh strawberry God, this menu!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Descendants

Even though I kind of knew, I never thought.

Always before I've been blindsided by the old Mom.
The mom that would have watched every minute of Whitney's funeral.
The mom that would have been so proud of her granddaughter's trophy from State Cup.
The mom that would have found the perfect dress shirt for her grandson's winter formal at Macy's*
The mom that would be lecturing Rihanna to stay away from that man.
The mom that would help me with the brunch.

This time, it was the end Mom.
The limp form under a quilt.
The flaking skin around the open mouth.
The family in a rage, in fear, in grief, in frustration with this maddening woman.
The pale, bony hands, curled up and clutching.

So much worse.

George Clooney was magnificent.  The writing was brilliant.
But I hated this movie.

* On special with an extra 10% off.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Luckily, there was one right in front of the house

One of these days, when the first guest arrives, I will be clean, dressed, and coifed.  The kitchen counters will be spotless.  The house will smell marvelous, but there will be no sign that any pots, pans, utensils, or food was actually used in the creation of that intoxicating aroma.

Yesterday was not one of those days*.

I honestly thought I had a shot at it.  The night before, I'd made the stratas**, along with the dressings for the fruit salad and the mixed greens.  I had the sourdough biscuit makings done. I'd squeezed the oranges for the mimosas, pulled out all the serving dishes, arranged the flowers and delegated coffee and drinks to other guests.  I wrote down a short list for the morning, washed up, and went to bed.

T minus two hours, and I was in the kitchen, cranking away and singing along with "Little Red Corvette" at the top of my lungs.  Crossing things off my list and feeling great.

T minus 30 minutes, and I'm getting a tiny bit concerned.  I pop the potatoes in the oven, eye the growing stack of dirty dishes worriedly, and start three frying pans for all the bacon***.  Fittingly, "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley is up next in my queue.  On the plus side, the house smells incredible.  On the downside, it is also quite smoky.  My son is belatedly doing the chore I assigned him yesterday.  I step out to put tablecloths outside, and come back to an unrecognizable rap song and my son and all five guinea pigs yelling at the top of their respective lungs as he cleans their cages.  The bacon is sizzling away, spraying grease all over the stove.

T minus 10 minutes.  I'm about halfway through my stack of bacon, the timer is beeping on the oven, and I realize I forgot to make the maple egg wash for the biscuits.  I'm debating whether it is more important for me or dishes to get a quick rinse when the phone buzzes.  Oh boy. Someone was early. The dog, helpfully. steps on my foot and begins to bark loudly.

I send a kid to answer the door, put on my most gracious "hostess in old sweatpants" smile, and make the best of it.  Get the stratas out of the oven, and get the biscuits in.  Put the guests to work shuttling things outside.  Hand over my tongs to a helper and dress the salads.  Sprinkle sugar on the berries and give hugs to the now-steady stream of new arrivals, shooing them out with the promise of coffee.  

A breeze is blowing, dissipating the haze in the kitchen, and I hear the happy hum of conversation through the open windows.  I scoop potatoes into a large bowl and place the last of the warm biscuits onto the platter.  They look fantastic.  Everything does****.  I wipe my brow and breathe a sigh of relief.  It's all under control.

Then a muffled crash, hurried footsteps, and a voice from the hallway.



"We're gonna need a hose."

I'm gonna need one of these.

"And a lot of soap!"

Make it two.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dirty Harry Blondies

I'm a purist when it comes to blondies.

Brown sugar.
Lots of butter.
Maybe a few chocolate chips.

Good old Debbie Harry Blondies.

But then, I went a little off the rails.

Threw in a whole bunch of ground up candy and some peanut butter.

I made Dirty Harry Blondies.
I got lucky.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

It's like an albino, but without the red eyes or the sunburn

In a house where we swear by a chili recipe that calls for 25+ lbs. of ground beef and another 10 lbs. of pork sausage, a bowl of white chili was about as rare a sight as an actual albino*.

Until now.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Yo-ho! Oh-RE-O!

What IMDB says the Winkies are chanting (click here to listen):

"Audiences have claimed to hear various lyrics to the "Winkie Chant" performed by the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton)'s guards. They include "All we own, we owe her"; "Oh we love the old one"; and "Oh we loathe the old one." The screenplay shows that the correct lyrics are "O-Ee-Yah! Eoh-Ah!."

Perhaps. But I think the Winkies are chanting:

Yo-ho! Make Oh-RE-os!

Somehow it's not junk food if you make it yourself, right?  At least not according to one of my favorite new cookbooks, Flour: Spectacular recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe.  Apparently people line up at the bakery for their homemade pop tarts, homemade fig newtons, and their version of the iconic chocolate sandwich cookie.  Based on the photos alone, I would join that line in a heartbeat. The chocolate cookie part is a dead ringer, taste-wise, for the outside of the Oreo, just without the embossing.  The flavor is deep, dark and very intensely chocolate, almost like a less-sweet version of a French sable.  Since you are doing your own vanilla filling, you can double (or even triple!) stuff them if you like.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Super Dogs

Two of my favorite ads on the Super Bowl yesterday featured dogs:

Not to mention We-Go, the Bud Light rescue puppy, and Mr. Quigley in those smokin' red Sketchers.

It seemed only fitting that I get on the bandwagon.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

High Efficiency Snacking

Are you, like millions of Americans, wasting valuable time* when you snack?

Quit pussyfooting around.  Have the potato chips IN your cookies.

These cookies are perhaps the ultimate expression of a now well-established trend in both homemade and restaurant desserts to combine salty and sweet. They just take it to a whole new level of decadence.

Naturally, I'm thinking next time I should throw in some bacon.