Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Carrot-Oat Muffins

Last weekend, I fell in love with my sister-in-law's super moist and guilt-free zucchini and banana muffins, a recipe she found in Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. Inspired and determined to end my streak of bad-luck baking in the past few days (flat meringue cookies, terrible bread, bubbly leche flan), I baked my own take on healthy muffins. These muffins have a lot of texture from the oats and flaxseeds, but remain nice and moist from the carrots - and they passed the taste tests of both my spouse and my toddler!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Reporting on the Colbert Report

Last night, I saw, in person, one of the greatest living satirists, Mr. Stephen Colbert (I am aware of the many commas in that sentence.). Coincidentally, his show's featured guest was U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, who spoke about the humanitarian and terrorist clusterfuck in the Horn of Africa, a subject that continues to break my heart every day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

First-World Guilt

My heart is heavy with "First-World-Guilt" today. Guilty that I not only had enough to eat for lunch, but threw out what was left over. Guilty that it is raining in Scarsdale, while those living in the Horn of Africa haven't seen a drought this bad in over 60 years. My privileged self-pity does not help anyone, and it certainly does not put any food in any of these malnourished children's mouths.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

On Microwaves; Or, Microwaved Food Tastes Like Hot Garbage

As I waited for my mug of hot water to heat up in the microwave, I felt a wave of shame brought on by conscious laziness. Let me explain.
When one wants hot water for tea, one usually uses a teapot. After the teapot screeches its announcement that the water's done, you remove it from the hot burner and allow it to cool a little. Scorching hot water burns tea leaves, which is a huge reason why I hate how Starbucks makes tea. Totally wrong! Anyway, you pour the hot water into a clean mug and steep the tea bag or tea leaves for a few minutes, depending on your preferred potency of tea. Sip and enjoy with your favorite Eliza Haywood novel.
So here I am, heating up tea in the microwave. But my toddler's napping and I don't want to make noise by dragging the teapot out of the depths of the upper (key: upper) cabinet in the kitchen. That means I'd have to do all that while balancing unsteadily on a rickety stool with the loose screw that I've been meaning to tighten.
Here I am, sipping tea that feels like radioactive goblins brewed it from a moldy pit in a hole in a tree stump. There's just something that happens to food when it's microwaved. I'm not sure if there's any scientific basis for this claim, or if it's truly some mental neurosis of mine, but food tastes different after its carousel ride around that plastic box. Softening butter in microwaves is impossible. It either entirely melts or the middle section is completely frozen while the edges have drooped into an oily mass. Defrosting food in the microwave is unforgivable - unless half cooked-half frozen meat is the desired effect. "Cooking" vegetables in the microwave is just gross. I will reheat leftovers from time to time, but I do it with begrudged resignation.
Obviously, I'm a microwavist. There is not one thing in my pantry that requires microwaving as the primary cooking process. Absolutely not. Wait - that's a lie, I have a box of popcorn somewhere.
Don't you dare cook that meatloaf in that! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

To Arnie: Thank you.

It's been a while since I've written here and I've been feeling the itch all week. I just didn't know what to write about. Dave and I recently registered Jonathan in daycare for the fall, and I was thinking of writing about what pushed me to choose this particular center: their revamped menu of food items that consist only of organic, seasonal, and locally source food products. This was exciting for me, but I think I'll save that post for when I actually see (and perhaps taste) the food in September.
Speaking of organic, seasonal, and locally sourced, my septuagenarian neighbor Arnie, who runs Barton Orchards in Poughquag, New York, generously supplied me with huge bags of yellow plums, golden delicious apples, and his famous sweet white corn. And, in true Arnie fashion, offered me a can of beer to go with them while he let Jonathan run through his sprinklers in the late summer afternoon.
A beautiful landscape of yellow and green on my kitchen counter.

Unsurprisingly, as a huge fan of Tobias Smollett and Jonathan Swift, I have frequent flights of misanthropy fueled by the news and my daily interactions with American society. However, it's good-hearted, hardworking, honest, fun-loving, big-laughing, beer-offering, porch-talking, ox-strong farmers like Arnie who remind me that the world is not a bag of shit all the time. It can be a bag (or three) of gorgeous produce that feeds my family.
P.S. What in the world am I going to do with all these plums? Suggestions?