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Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Homemade Ricotta

making ricotta

This is incredible. It’s quick, it’s easy — it’s magic. It’s homemade ricotta cheese, using just whole milk, lemon juice (or vinegar), and a little salt, as well as a few pieces of equipment. It’s homemade ricotta cheese for less than the price of buying commercial ricotta. It’s homemade ricotta cheese that tastes fresh and pure in a way the stuff from the tub never will.

It’s homemade ricotta cheese! (more…)

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“America and England are two countries separated by a common language.”
–George Bernard Shaw/Oscar Wilde/Winston Churchill/Token Quotable White British Man of Choice/The Google

Hey, kids!  It’s me, Blinki the Briton!  Boy, today’s such a jolly great day!  So great that, why—I just feel like learning some new words today, don’t you?  Yes, you do!  Today’s theme is “Why Alice Can’t Cook Properly at Cambridge!”  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  Hug your mom, let’s go!  Wahoo!  Here’s the first word:

Gyp room.  Gyp-room.  GYP ROOM!
A GYP ROOM is a cruel joke of a student kitchen that provides a few antiquated and ailing appliances to starving grad students for a fee exorbitant in number and mandatory in nature!  Also, cooking with fat or oil is prohibited in a GYP ROOM.  WTF, right kiddets?  Waooooh!
Let’s try a sentence, okay?
“Sensitivity training, whatevs—I cannot think of my GYP ROOM without conjuring images of swindling, pilfering gypsies doing their whirling, whirling gypsy dance.”

Got that?  Good!  Now, I wonder what we can find in a GYP ROOM…

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Bag That Bag

I thought I would take this Friday morning to admonish our readers a little: Bad reader! Bad!

OK, maybe you’re not that bad, but I bet you use way more plastic bags than you should. I know I do, and I’m pretty good about carrying around a canvas shopping bag. Reducing plastic bag waste won’t solve global warming or save the bald eagle, but billions of tons of plastic bags are thrown away every year, and they really don’t need to be.

In New York City alone, one fewer grocery bags per person per year would reduce waste by five million pounds and save $250,000 in disposal costs.

Oh, but won’t I look like an idiot carrying around a tote bag? Suck it the fuck up. Reducing bag waste isn’t about looking cool or joining a movement, it’s just something we all need to do.

This turtle will thank you:

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The Perils of Plenty

Is anyone really surprised that a batch of tomatoes contaminated with salmonella has made its way into the food supply? We’ve seen this before, and we’ll see it again. There are plenty of arguments against industrial farming with decent rebuttals to many of them. An indisputable fact about current agribusiness, however, is that sometimes it just might kill you.

We’ve seen it with meat, we’ve seen it with spinach, and now we’re seeing it with tomatoes. The practices of industrial agriculture mean that (1) food is more likely to become contaminated and that (2) when food does become contaminated, the damage is much more widespread. For now you can just skip that tomato on your Big Mac, but next week it might be in the special sauce and you just might be the one whose extreme illness or death alerts the mainstream media and begins the recall.

I, however, am not afraid.

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Exploding stove

I created a “Rants” category for posts as soon as we put this site together, because (1) a good, solid rant is one of my favorite activities and because (2) ranting is probably the number one reason why people start blogs. Commence rant now:

We hear plenty about how Americans are tempted into “convenience foods” and fast food chains (both of which I’m firmly against, btw), but I think we don’t hear enough about how some Americans are scared away from cooking with ludicrously inflated expectations. As an example, take a look at this weekly menu – actually one for JUST SIX DAYS – that I found on a food blog. I won’t name the blog because I think it’s a perfectly good one, and I’m really just picking on it for the purpose of an example. Here is the week’s menu that they suggested:

“Grilled flank steak with salsa verde, curried cauliflower with yogurt and mint sauce, radicchio flatbreads, cumin shrimp, garbanzo salad with roasted carrots, pasta bolognese, green salad, tacos, cole slaw with cilantro, scallions and yogurt, spinach souffle, marinated broccoli salad, sliders, cole slaw”

I’m sorry. WHAT?!?!?
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I am reluctant to even start talking about the New York restaurant scene in this blog, because it’s such an abyss and so many people are already writing about it so well, but I want to comment on this one trend that is apparently emerging here, which meansMatilda that a year from now it will be emerging in a restaurant near you. Last week, I read an article on New York magazine’s Web site about Mexican-Italian fusion as the next big thing. I was looking for a new restaurant for that night, and one of the restaurants reviewed — Matilda — is in my neighborhood. So Mexican-Italian fusion it was.

It seemed like it could be a good idea, or at least interesting. And in the end, it wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t exactly good, either. Everything we ordered was perfectly executed, and should have been delicious, but instead was mostly confusing.

First off, the decor was completely bizarre — all minimalist white tables and chairs and multi-colored florescent lights. For some reason (its location on Ave. C, NY Mag’s comment on its “warm atmosphere”), I was expecting a cozy place. Instead, it felt very trying-to-be-Sex-and-the-City-in-the-late-90s. And not Mexican, or Italian, or anything in between. (more…)

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Scott Peacock’s biscuitsWhat could be better than a warm, fluffy biscuit right out of the oven? Very, very few things, I imagine. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I have yet to replicate this much-fantasized-about scenario with anything other than Pillsbury pre-made biscuits. And, oh, I have made some efforts. In the last two months, I’ve made three attempts at homemade buttermilk biscuits. And while they seem to improve each time (flavorless hockey puck to flavorful hockey puck to more flavorful slighly less dense hockey puck), the results are still consistently hockey puck-like. I had always read that the laidback, little-of-this-little-of-that attitude most cooks take toward cooking cannot be applied to baking. And that made sense to me — baking relies on chemistry in a way that cooking does not. But it always seemed to me that my baked goods came out fine, even if the flour wasn’t always sifted or the butter always perfectly soft. Not so with biscuits. Biscuits, I have learned definitively, are persnickety. Maybe because they are a true example of something out of nothing (the ingredients are flour, lard, buttermilk, salt, and baking powder), they have to be treated with particular care. I have honestly never been so frustrated or so foiled by a cooking endeavor in my life.

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