Wednesday, January 28, 2004

It's Foodgoat's birthday, so that must be an ice cream cake.
Happy Birthday Foodgoat!

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Comfort foods

In times of catastrophe, I make brownies.

Nothing fancy, just brownie mix from a box, preferably a box with the words "now with more fudge!" somewhere on it. We have taken to using some extra virgin olive oil in place of vegetable oil, which makes one nasty-tasting batter but cooks up into a subtle and rather good brownie.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Foodgoat is having a very bad day
This is ... well, was ... his car.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Dog eating habits, Dog poetry

"You gonna eat that?
"You gonna eat that?
"You gonna eat that?
"I'll eat that."

("Birch" by Karen Shepherd)

Support your local restaurants

There seems to have been an unusually high number of restaurants closing around here. Even Dottie's, the super-cute retro diner that just opened last year, bit the dust. And we're starting to wonder what going on with Decent Pizza.

But it would just about break Foodgoat's heart if Karma on Coventry, the new Indian restaurant down the street, went that way. Foodgoat's 2nd favorite cuisine is Indian, and Karma on Coventry has by far the best in the city (the saag paneer, which is spinach with cheese, is sooooo goooood). I feel confident in saying so, because we've been there three times, and everything we've had has been positively delicious. And I've just been having the vegetarian stuff.

But, it seems to be perennially empty, and was it just me, or did the last takeout, with "Thank you from Karma on Coventry!" scribbled on each box, have just the faintest wisp of desperation? Maybe that was just the lovely spices. Or maybe just a holdover from the Soul Vegetarian restaurant that was there before Karma, that came and went in the blink of eye.

In any case, in you're in Cleveland, Karma on Coventry comes highly recommended. Not convinced? Maybe these will tempt you ...
This was the first time we got takeout at Karma.  Looks tasty, huh?  We got two yummy meals out of this.
Malai Kofta, my now second favorite: paneer and vegetable dumplings simmered in a cream almond sauce
Saag Paneer, my absolute favorite: Spinach and homemade cheese cubes cooked in flavorful spices.  It makes cream of spinach almost taste like a rank amateur.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Dog Eating Habits, Florida Edition


Breed: Toy fox terrier
Temperment: Nervous
Belongs to: Foodgoat's parents in Florida

Likes: French fries (his favorite!), bread, cheese
Doesn't like: Food offered by someone with a sneaky and devious look (he's a little suspicious)

Odd eating habits: Picks out and eats the red kibble only, leaves the tan and brown kibble in the bowl. Won't eat anything offered first to Maia.


Breed: Siberian husky
Temperament: Adventurous
Belongs to: Officially Foodgoat, but is stationed in Florida

Likes: Meat, cheese, bread. Also eats bananas, grapes (except someone else has to split them open for her first). Everything humans eat.
Doesn't like: Lettuce

Ickiest meal: A frozen squirrel head
Cute trick that's not so cute anymore: Puts her big paw on your knee while you're eating
Doggy instinct: Buries bones (disappointingly easy for her in sandy Florida), and digs them up and eats them much later.
Odding eating habit: Can hear a cheese wrapper a mile away. Has sixth sense about when people will give her a snack.
Dog Eating Habits

(Just to clarify: not dog-eating habits).

Obviously, I think a lot about food. But alas, sometimes other, more pressing issues force me to put aside thoughts of cheese.

Not so for some. Some don't have pesky things like jobs or books or concern about world politics to get in the way of wondering what things taste like. And though they not quite as handy with with the immersion blender as Foodgoat is, they do have definite tastes. And are absolutely shameless about begging for what they want.

Lucky dogs.

We know some of these loafers well. First up ...

Bam Bam

Breed: Keeshond
Temperament: Crazy
Belongs to: Ladygoat's family in California

Likes: Vegetables, grapes, fresh popcorn, cheese

Doesn't like: Bananas, stale popcorn, carbs like bread or rice

What doesn't agree with her, digestively speaking: too much canned dog food, cheese (except American)

Eating schedule: Fed once a day in the morning, but spaces herself into 6 small meals throughout the day

Eating space: Won't eat out of the dog bowl, but will take a mouthful at a time over to another place to eat

Odd eating habits: Eats the fallen green apples. Runs into the apple tree to knock down more green apples. Jumps from the bench to grab green apples from low-hanging branches. Also eats the calamansi (Filipino lime) off the tree. (see Temperament, above)

Monday, January 19, 2004

Questions That Need Answering

1. What is bird's nest?

I mean besides the nest of a bird, smart ass. Because it's the second main ingredient, after hashima (we don't know what that is either, but one thing at a time) in this pretty little canned beverage that Foodgoat picked up at the Asian market. I have this vague recollection that birds use spit to keep their nests together, and now he refuses to drink it.

2. Why don't you use the tops of leeks?

All the recipes with leeks (the giant and fancy-pants version of green onions) say to use only the white and pale green part, which leaves a whole lotta leek left over. What, are they poisonous or something?

3. Why is it illegal to sell pork blood in Ohio?

A couple months ago, ER finally did something realistic and had Filipina nurses on an episode. They were portrayed as subversive and bitchy and accent-heavy, but hey, that's a post for another blog. And after their token appearance they promptly disappeared. But the highlight of their all-to-brief time (3 minutes, tops) on-screen was their meal of dinuguan.

Dinuguan, colloquially known as chocolate soup, or more accurately as pork blood stew, is a traditional Filipino dish. Basically, it's pork (organs or just the meat) cooked in fresh pork blood. No need to scream in terror -- it's really very good. Even Foodgoat has had it (of course, that was when my grandmother insisted he try it without telling him what it was). The blood cooks up to a nice dark brown, along with various spices. Scoop this on top of some puto (sweet rice cake), or white rice, and yum-my.

Well, ER apparently didn't see it this way, because Pratt made a face before even trying it, the fool. After that, I decided that it was time to make me some of my own dinuguan. So off to the pork stand at the West Side Market I went, and I ask for pork blood.

"We can't sell pork blood, we're not allowed."
"You're not allowed?" (Picture me, confused. I know, it's not that hard.)
"It's against the law in Ohio. Yah gotta go to a slaughterhouse. Yah can't sell pork blood outside of the slaughterhouse."
"I couldn't tell ya. I can get you all the beef blood you want, but no pork blood. Don't know why, blood's blood, I don't know what the difference is. I wish I could sell pig's blood, I could sell it by the gallon, I tell ya, by the gallon."

I'm not sure who he thinks would be buying the pork blood, since I only need two cups or so, but although there isn't a slaughterhouse nearby, he did tell me that the Asian market does have pork blood imported from California. So a few weeks later, I went to the meat counter at the Asian market and asked for pork blood.

He pointed to a gray, square blob.

"That's pork blood?" (Picture me, distressed and slightly disgusted).

Pork blood, as I know it, is a bright red liquid that comes in a tub. It's only solid if you freeze it. This looked well, not like that. Apparently, pork blood doesn't import well.

And so, thanks to obscure Ohio laws, I didn't make dinuguan after all. I could use beef blood, but the taste would be a little different, and call me stubborn, but I wanted the good ol' taste o' pig blood that I was used to. I may start a petition.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Various & Sundry Items

...and other "Billboards We'd Like to See"

Haven't decided yet if I'm going to watch the new Food Network show, Dweezil & Lisa, this Friday at 10 pm. I mean, I already watched VH1's Top 100 One-Hit Wonders.

Well, it does take my appetite away, though it would probably do the same for any dinner companions you might have

Another cooking blog for your enjoyment. My motto: you can never have too many links in your blogroll.

What can you do with a laser? Make cheese art, obviously

Eek! Mad cow! Before you freak out, learn what the experts know about it. Then freak out.

What does your favorite condiment say about you? Hey, where's the banana sauce?

Urban food myths, deconstructed.

Now, these are kitchen cabinets

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Best of 2003: Hot Dishes

Out: Burritos
Oh, I still enjoy them once in a while, but somehow, the desire just isn't what it used to be. There's no one else, really. Well, okay, yes, I have been visiting that Indian restaurant down the street, but that has nothing to do with you, honest. It's not you, you're wonderful, it's me, I just changed.

Out: Pierogies
It was the Year of Pierogies: the Bennifer of Foodgoat. So ordinary, so pre-packaged, so bland by themselves, and yet we couldn't get enough. We ate them every week, for months. We bought them in giant bags that took us half the freezer. But did we tire of them? Well, yes, eventually. Now let us pray for the same fate for Bennifer.

In: Bubble Tea
We first met last year, and there was definitely a spark, but the we just weren't in the same place at the time. It was only this year that things really started happening. We'd find ourselves in the same city and we couldn't get enough of each other, though it was still a long-distance thing. But now that Foodgoat's brother has gifted us with a bubble-tea kit for Christmas, I really think we can make it work in 2004.

In: Cheese Toast
In the past year many a night has Foodgoat has been gone, first with his video games, then with his band practice. But you've got to understand, a girl's got needs. Something easy, something satisfying ... something hot. Like bread with cheddar cheese and a sprinkling of chives or green onions, browned under the broiler.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

I want to like wine. That is, the tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show part of me wants to like wine. (Though I'm not ashamed of my stockpile of Spam and the occasional perusal of the National Enquirer). Unfortunately, wine usually just doesn't taste, well, yummy to me (champagne being the big exception).

So it was something of a surprise to find that I liked the Two-Buck Chuck Sauvignon Blanc (which is actually more of a Four-Buck Chuck here in Ohio). Yup, that's the scandalously cheap wine that's been all the rage. It goes down nice, quick, and easy. Not complex or challenging or something to rave about, but pleasant and inoffensive.

Oh, but the adventure doesn't stop there. When my siblings finished off a half-empty bottle of Two-Buck Chuck (Chardonnay, in their case) by mixing it with 7-Up, I was inspired to mix my Sauvignon Blanc with raspberry-flavored seltzer water. The result was bubbly, ever-so-slightly sweet, and light on the alcohol. And yes, I liked it.

So there you have it: I drink cheap wine diluted with store-brand carbonated water. Does this lose Ladygoat her gourmet creds?

Pshaw, as if she ever had any.

Thursday, January 8, 2004

Looney Tuna

A conversation, verbatim, between my brother and his roommate, in the cafeteria of that venerable instituion of intellectual learning, UCLA:

"Dude, that's nasty!"
"Dude, it's a tuna melt."
"Dude, I had it before and I yakked."
"Dude, all tuna tastes the same."

I have to side with my brother on this - I can't really tell the difference between one can of tuna or another. Foodgoat can, though (he's got "the touch").

Then again, what do I know about tuna? I was quite surprised to learn that tuna fish are huge. Because you know, the cans are tiny.

Tuesday, January 6, 2004

Best of 2003: Gone to pot

It's currently 14 degrees here in Cleveland. You hear that? Four-teen. I'm in a friggin' God-forsaken frozen wasteland.

It's times like this when a hot stove not only means staving off hunger, but keeping your fingers from turning blue. Don't even think of taking that beanie off my head.

At least we have got some really good new pots this year to put on aforementioned hot stove. Like this frying pan. The last non-stick skillet died a slow and sticky death. After a couple weeks of scraping fried rice off the bottom, we got this great big heavy 12-inch omelette pan, made by Calphalon, from (where else?) Target. Finally, a frying pan big enough to cook all the bacon Foodgoat wants.

And just this Christmas, Foodgoat received from his brother this 8-quart, non-stick Calphalon stock pot. It's the biggest pot we have now, perfect for all our new soup adventures. Especially good for making more dumplings than than ever before (think of the paprikash! think of the vadas! Mmmmm). Slick, huh?

Another good reason to stand over the stove: coffee. The French press we got a few months ago? Turned us recreational users into craven addicts. Add freshly ground coffee beans and hot water to this thing, and you gotta a junkie for a blogger.

Of course, I can't spend all my time over the stove. But I still need to be warmed up on the insdie. Enter a gift from last Christmas from my brother: a travel thermos. (Okay, technically it was 2002, but whatever, I'll what I want!). Seriously, it's been a godsend, keeping coffee, tea, calamansi (not altogether though) hot for hours. Through road trips and the flu season, it was good to have.

And finally, it's not a kitchen item, but today it's most appropriate: the electric blanket my mom sent me this year. Along with that beanie, it's the only way I'm going to make it until April.
Best of 2003: Go Forth and Consume

Heed our president: retail therapy is better than Zoloft for these troubled times. But some dealers are better than other for soothing the shopping soul. Some have fallen out of favor: exhibit A, Wal-Mart. Now, there's no shame in being poor, but my inner yuppie can only take so much of being one of the huddled masses, yearning to consume, herded thorough heavily marked down aisles and over-crowded parking lots. Not only that, my outer bleeding-heart liberal indignantly protests the exploitatative and monopolizing labor practices and general cultural bankruptcy.

But some stores have risen in its wake, at least as far as kitchen items go. Exhibit B: Costco. I don't go here for appliances. I go here for cheese. Big, two or three pound blocks of cheese. Cheddar cheese. Feta cheese. Blue cheese. Cream cheese. Or big, five-pound bags of frozen vegetables or baking soda. Or big, one-pound canisters of dried mushrooms or cranberries. (Get it? Big.) Not only do they feed the New Economy thirst for Luxe Lite, they treat their employees well and shockingly, put the members ahead of the stockholders (Fortune said so). Plus, you could get a whole meal out of all those free samples.

Exhibit C, Sur La Table. Forget Williams-Sonoma (which is highly over-priced, limited in selection, and full of people who may not cook at all) and go where wooden spoons fill up an entire display. Where they will in fact have the one gadget made for that one obscure task. Where you can get lunch knives and vinegar-making crocks and butter bells and lime-green mixers. Where a random person will press a 25% off coupon into your hand since they didn't find anything they wanted. It will turn out to be expired, but it was a nice gesture anyway. But you see? Nice people gravitate towards places that sell square ice-cream scoops.

Exhibit D: West Side Market. It's become something of a Saturday morning routine: bratwursts and coffee while sitting on the balcony of the West Side Market, then buying the week's supply of foodstuffs. We're regulars at Kauffmann Poultry (where you can get an Art Modell special ... boneless, spineless chicken with no guts), Meister Dairy (the sour cream is to die for), City Roast Coffee, and the Basketeria (unlike many of the other produce stands, the vegetables are always fresh and often organic). I'm also fond of the pierogies from the surly teenage girl.

Then, of course, there's always Target, whose clearance items often includes such temptations as the deep-fried Twinkie kit. (I was this close to springing for it.)

So there. Between this and my "Holy Frijole!" holiday AmEx bill, I've done my part for the economy.

Sunday, January 4, 2004

20 Things I Did While Home for the Holidays

1. Got bubble tea three times. Tried the hot version. Verdict: Thumbs up!
2. Avoided burgers (mad cow!). Until we couldn’t take it anymore and went to In N’ Out.
3. Watched Agnes of God. Favorite scene:“Agnes, it has come to my attention that you have stopped eating. Why is this?” “Because I'm getting fat. I am, there's too much flesh on me. I'm a blimp.” “You needn't worry about being attractive here.” “I do, I have to be attractive to God.” “He loves you the way you are.” “No he doesn't. He hates fat people.”

4. Ate lots of crab. Even after hearing the frantic struggling of the still-alive crabs against the pot cover my dad held down until the crabs were slowly steamed to death. Could swear I could hear them squealing in agony. Pass the plate of legs and the nutcracker, please.

5. Brought the plague to my house. Got sick with the flu on Christmas Day. A couple days later, my sister was coughing. The day after that, my dad was drinking lots of calamansi juice. A few day after that, my mom was curled up on the papasan chair and barely eating the vegetable soup we made for them.
6. Got lost in a gated community in Gilroy and had to use a big spotlight to case the joint. Started running out of gas on the way home and was crawling along at what seemed like 25 mph along Highway 101.
7. Played lots of Cranium. Played some Super Smash Bros. Melee and a volleyball game with bombs on the Game Cube. Got beat by my sister playing Boggle. Big surprise.
8. Got hooked on “Sex and the City” again.

9. Risked death by eating at Thai noodle house Tung Kee. Just soup for me, thanks!

10. Risked death yet again by eating at another Thai place in Oakland’s Chinatown. Just soup for me, again! See my brother in the mirror?

11. Contemplated buying an animal fried whole and strung up by its neck. Or rather, contemplated what animal it used to be.

12. Picked up fortune cookies at a shop in Oakland’s Chinatown. Best fortune:“He is thinking of you, and tenderly” ... which my dad got.

13. Had plenty of delicious samples at the very gourmet Berkeley’s Pasta Shop. We got a sheep’s milk cheese and a baguette, because a bagel with cream cheese is not much of a lunch. Overheard someone say that they had met their first actual, real-life conservative.
14. My brother finally finished reading “The Two Towers,” so we could finally watch “The Two Towers” extended DVD, so we could finally watch “Return of the King.” Snuck in Garlic Butter Ritz Crackers and bananas. Good news: my sister didn’t fall asleep during this one. Bad news: Aragorn squeaks when he rallies the troops!
15. Watched Dances with Samurai. Had to sneak in the bubble tea in my pocket because of a persnickety employee.
16. Tried to crank call Foodgoat in Cleveland but my sister started laughing and hung up every time.
17. Knit a skinny scarf, even though skinny scarves are now passe in California. Used my new “Knitting for Dummies” book.
18. Straightened my hair with my new flat iron. Now I can get the salon look every day – at home!

19. Ate tasty garlic-cheese biscuits my brother made. Drank extra strong espresso my sister made. Didn’t eat too much rice ... everyone at home is on a quasi-Atkins diet.
20. Made a no-bake cheesecake out of cream cheese, sour cream, and Cool Whip. We put it in the fridge. A little too soft. We put it in the freezer. A little too hard. The most important lesson: don't microwave the cheesecake even for 10 seconds, even if it is too hard. Why? It melts.