Friday, January 18, 2008

Why I'm Not a Food Blogger - Part III

I had a 'Why I'm Not a Food Blogger Pt III' going a few weeks ago, about my foray into homemade bagel-making. I uploaded 32 pictures of the process and then mysteriously, I never finished it. I'm sure it wasn't because my friend Joan, owner of an actual bagel shop, casually said, "Oh reeeeally, it called for you to do it like that?" as her forehead muscles contorted unnaturally. And I'm sure it wasn't because after eating one, my sister mused, "Where'd these bagels come from? My g*d, they're dense little suckers."

My own family had liked them. (At least they said they did.) So I'm sure the comments from the others had absolutely nothing to do with my not finishing that post. Nothing at all.

I'd like to be a food blogger. I mean, I do like food. And I do like to blog. So what's the hold-up?

Well, for starters, there's still this:

But WAIT, Lookie There! Someone actually cleaned her kitchen! That's progress. I see great things in my food blogging future, don't you?

Today, it all started with a quest to make the perfect chewy granola bar. Brady eats them by the box-full, and while they're not exactly cheap, my bigger concern is they're probably not as healthy as they could be. At least not if one were to, say, eat three dozen every two days. Surely I can make a homemade version that's better? Surely.

Reason #1 I'm not a food blogger - The first recipe I tried was Raisin and Cardamom Granola Bars. Cardamom? I'm going to go with cardamom on my first attempt? That might sound all good and fine for those of us who start our day with a lovely chai, but for a pubescent 15 year old rocker? Cardamom was a cardaBOMB.

Reason #2 I'm not a food blogger - I changed the whole recipe and then wondered why we didn't really like it even though it got good reviews.

One of the funniest memories of my friend Elizabeth is when we went up to our lake home, just the two of us, for a grrrls' getaway. Elizabeth is all about health; she's also all about ease. So she cooks very spare, wholesome food. Steamed veggies, slow-roasted meats, and raw salads are her mainstays. Being from out east, she is befuddled by midwesterners' obsession with things like jello salad and cream-of-something casseroles.

So there we were, up north, when we got done with dinner and she said she had a surprise - she'd brought a dessert! Since she's not one to eat sugar - ever, at ALL - I should've worried. But she laughed as she presented, with a "Voila!" and a flourish, a jello dessert. Wow. Elizabeth made a jello dessert. (I decided this wasn't the right time to tell her that not all midwesterners like jello.)

We took a bite. Hmmm. We took another bite. Oh, dear, well... and then we started laughing. It had no flavor. It was totally bland, and not standard jello-ish at all. Well, it turns out she'd substituted every bloody ingredient for a healthier alternative. Plain, organic gelatin for the boxed jello. Maple syrup for the white sugar. Soy milk for the heavy cream. Rice flour for the good old all-purpose. We laughed until flavorless gelatin spewed from our noses, and then we laughed some more.

Moral of the story? If you're gonna make jello, make Jello.

So it shouldn't have come as a huge surprise today that I'd tweak a recipe and make it worse, not better.

Actually, I didn't think they were all that bad. The recipe called for 1-1/2 teaspoons of cardamom and I only used 1/2 tsp, thank the higherpowerwhogoesbymanynames... because they tasted like, well, like cardamom-double-cardamom-granola-bars-with-a-gobload-of-cardamom.

Reason #3 I shouldn't be a food blogger - On a scale of 1 to 10, Brady rated these "Don't ever put one of those in my lunch bag."

I was rather fond of the twelve few bars that didn't hold together, and which therefore needed to be slowly nibbled in small, bite-sized portions for the next 8 hours. Apparently, I can make peace with the cardamom-taste-explosion. Either that, or I have an eating disorder. Or... how 'bout... I'm not wasteful. Ya, that's it.

So I won't be teaching you how to make cardabomb granola bars.

I have been in a bit of a cooking boycott rut lately but I'm on a mission to do better. So today, I sat and pondered just how I might break through the stainless steel ceiling and achieve equal status in the culinary realm.

So let's make something for dinner, shall we? Question is - what shall we make?

I put on a kettle of rice. Rice goes with everything right? (Reason #4 I shouldn't be a food blogger - It helps to know what you're planning to cook before you start.)

I put on a cast-iron skillet with a splash of safflower oil. And I didn't know what I was going to put in it. (Reason #5)

Look at the pretty little starter plants I've got on my windowsill. Lah-di-dah... (Reason #6 - I'm sure something will come to me. Eventually.)

Here's the mama plant. Ain't she lovely? Dum-de-doo.... (Reason #7 - Or not.)

Alright, the cast iron skillet with a splash of safflower oil is starting to smoke, so let's put something in that baby, shall we? How 'bout broccoli? Broccoli sound good? There's a delightful charred, spicy broccoli recipe that I made not too long ago. (Does spicy charred broccoli sound good? I'll bet it had a different name - Reason #8) Do you think I can find the recipe? (Reason #9 - No.)

No matter - we'll wing it. (Reason #10 - sometimes bad things happen when I wing it.)

(When I opened the bag of broccoli, that cute little lime was hiding in the bag. Apparently, the green foods in my house like to stick together.) (You don't think I accidentally stole it, do you?) (I don't think I did.) (If I did, it was entirely unintentional.) (It's a rogue lime.)

I love this picture. I love how the water droplets are captured in mid-air. It almost makes me feel like a really bad photographer. Enlarge that photo, why don't you, and add a little excitement to your life. Then send your "Grrrl, Your Photos Rock" props to piscesgrrl@actuallytheyreallydon'

Reason #11 - You don't really need to be told to wash your broccoli, do you. I'm sorry. I'm treating you like you're a simpleton. And you're not.

And while I'm apologizing, the photo of my clean kitchen above was taken, like, 7 weeks ago (which is, coincidentally, about the last time it looked like that). I'm sorry I misled you.

Reason #12 I shouldn't be a food blogger - Food bloggers shouldn't tell lies.

Now - chop up your broccoli. You didn't need a photo of that either, did you. I'm sorry again. (It feels really good to say I'm sorry.) (It's like I'm absolving myself of all prior wrong-doings.)

Some folks go so far as to peel the broccoli stems so they can use them too. I don't. I either eat them without peeling, cuz I'm lazy like that (reason #13) or I just compost them. I have a long love-affair with my compost, did you know? I suppose folks don't really want to see my decomposing compost. Reason #14. (Is decomposing compost an oxymoron?)

Now, turn your stove burner up to medium-high, cuz we're gonna char.. wait, scorch... wait, singe. SINGE! That's it. (Is that it?) Listen, we're gonna burn the little broccoli, just a wee bit, just around the edges.

(And no, I never wash my teapot.)

Toss in one little nip of broccoli, and see if the oil spits. You want it nice and hot. Also, while I imagine you could use other cookware for this, cast-iron is best for this particular recipe. (Actually, I don't know that for a fact. But it makes me sound like I know what I'm doing, doesn't it?)

So when it's nice and spittin' hot, add the rest of the broccoli and don a potholder so big it could fit a midwestern Sasquatch. You don't wanna burn yourself do you? No, you don't.

I couldn't think of the word Bigfoot, so I walked into Brady's room and said, "Brady, my brilliant son?" Actually, I just said, "Brady?" And then I said, "What's the name of that creature? You know, the one that supposedly lives in the woods? He's big? And hairy? Oh, BIGFOOT!" and answered my own question. He rolled his eyes and reminded me to never, ever put one of my homemade cardamom-double-cardamom-granola-with-cardamom-mom-mom bars in his lunchbag. Ever.

(I think I know some readers a reader who's gonna be spittin' hot if I don't get to the darn point sometime today.)

And this is when this little thingie comes in real handy. What's this thingie called, does anyone know? Because I sure don't. I call it my cover-the-pan-so-the-oil-don't-spit-all-over thingie. (Reason #15)

Now add some salt. (Does my hand look scary to you? Like it needs a weekend retreat at the moisturizing spa? I thought so.) Just enough to enhance the broccoli's natural flavor. And toss it around a little. The broccoli, not the salt. Toss the broccoli, the salted broccoli, around a bit.

And add some pepper. I could've used the same photo for salt and pepper, because my shakers are identical, but I didn't because I've repented my lying ways since I started this post.

(I hereby solemnly swear, I vow to be faithful, to always tell the truth, so help me higherpowerwhogoesbymanynames, and to the republic for which it stands, and if I die before I wake, I hereby bequeath my spicy singed - no wait, I think I still like charred, now that I've had time to think about it - my spicy charred broccoli to my beloved husband, until death do us part. I do, Amen and Blessed Be, whatever you say bounces of you and sticks to me. Wait...)

I feel much better now. You?

Now toss the broccoli around a little more.

See how it's getting nice and charred/singed/burnt? You can't, you say? Because the photo's blurry, you say? (Reason #16 - I'm no better at photography than I am at cooking.) Ok, trust me on this. It's getting nice and charred/singed/burnt. Just a little. Around the edges. Keep tossing it.

We're on the home stretch now, folks, I promise. I pick some really difficult recipes, so you're just going to have to learn to keep up. (Not really. #17)

But now for the really excitin' part! Grab your bottle of crushed red pepper flakes. (I live in a cornfield. Believe me, this qualifies as excitin'.) Sprinkle in as much as you can handle. Here, we happen to aim for blows the top of my head off. But you may like something a little more mild, like makes my tongue burn until I cry or give me water or I will claw your eyes out or I think I'm having heart palpitations.

I just noticed the red hot peppers on that bottle look like red hot lips. See it? What has our world come to when even our crushed red pepper flakes are sexed up?!? Sinners, everywhere!

Look at that spicy, charred goodness!

Put it in a pretty serving bowl and set it aside.

Remember the rice pot? It looks nice and fluffy. (Hmm... I just may be a food blogger yet! A food blogger who specializes in 101 ways to cook plain white rice. 'Twill be Captivating.)

I can has surprise for you! All this time I had an Asian Chicken dish cooking in the oven! I was holding out on you, oh yes I was. Oh yes I was. Oh yes. I'm naughty like that. But that, good people, is a story for another time. Like a time later on, after my family has had time to taste it and rip my fragile ego to pieces if they don't like it.

And I like to serve a lil' sumthin' simple on the sides of my meals (read: I'm bloody tired of cooking, is that ok with you? aka Reason #18). This pear will be a nice soothing complement to the spicy, charred broccoli and heavily-marinated Asian chicken. Or at least that's what I hope my laziness translates into.

So I sliced up a perfectly ripe, organic pear and placed it on my new, pretty dish. Don't you think it's a pretty dish? I.Love.This.Dish. I wish I had a whole set. I found it and its twin at Goodwill, but that's all there were, just two little plates. Sniff.

Not bad for a non-food blogger like m'self, don't you think? And if Brady (and later his best friend) hadn't raked my cardamom-to-the-fifth-power-granola-bars recipe over the coals, as only hormonal boys can do, we could've had those for dessert.

But since Brady took his best friend Ben into the kitchen for the sole reason of mocking my first attempt at granola bars - ("Ben, try these. Ohmyg*d you have to see how bad they are. Isn't that spice awful? Mom, what IS that! And why is it in our house? Don't ever use it again!" as Ben took a bite and grimaced in agreement) - I guess we'll be dessert-less this time.

Creating a spicy, charred masterpiece is intense work, my friends, intense work. But I don't expect you to understand yet, young grasshoppers.

I must go rest my weary inner-Julia Child.

((dramatic faint))


Lynn said...

you are so funny, you had me laughing out loud, thanks for brightening my day XX

Stephanie S. said...

Truly, it was a Very Grand Tale...
but didn't you leave out Something Important.....
Like - oh, I don't know...say..., THE ENDING???

Is your family alive?
Was friend invited to dinner?
Did he tell on you to his Mama?
Did the cops - er, cop - er deputy, in your case, is that what you guys have 'round there?? come knocking on yer door sayin that so-and-so has threatened to sue?

Please, friend, let us know!!


Zenmomma said...

A perfect post! You have been given a Most Excellent Award. Hop on over to my blog to pick it up.

whimsigal said...

Oh this post was too funny!!!

The hot lips on the pepper flakes was almost too much for me.


Ren said...

Thanks for the morning laugh, before I head out into retail-land.:)
Your wit is captivating my friend!

sharon said...

LOL...I have to say you are truely the best food blogger ever! And I can say this because when I walked into Whole Foods yesterday there were beautiful bundles of organic broccoli and I thought of you and your fabulous blog entry...LOL But seriously, I made it for dinner only I prefer the name "seared broccoli" and was quite happy with the results. You are way too funny but your recipe was the best!...Still LOL

Jackie said...

Besides the sore jaw for the next week, you really did overstate my reaction to your chew-toys, um I mean, bagels. No really, they were great. Laugh.

I'm the middle child. I have mouth control issues, what can I say? (besides sorry for the blow to your cookin' ego, of course.)

Your chicken and broccoli and rice look lovely. Really yummy, delectable and're the most awesome, bestest cook ever.

Better? Love, Jackie

SabrinaT said...

HA HA!! You had me laughing the entire post. The food looked yummy to! I wish I could do more then burn water.

KMDuff said...

ROFLMAO! :) You write funny posts grrl. Quite funny posts. Loved it. :)

May I suggest Alton Brown's granola bar recipe? It's pretty good IMHO. Here's the link: Granola Bars

Anonymous said...

Oh Laura...Scott from the unschooling conference has a recipe for granola at the It looked good! Thanks for the award. You Da Bomb.

Heather said...

I stopped by to visit the new blogger that had graced my li'l blog and found myself in fits of laughter and tears! YOU SLAY ME!!!
I'll be back for more. Yes I will.

P.S. Don't tweak the Paprikash. ;o)