Musing on food and cooking ...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

House of Pizza!!!

This whole "House of Pizza" name game has me baffled. Every town in Massachusetts seems to have one. And they are usually the worst greasy spoons ever, with nary a real slice of pizza to be found.

Mansfield House of Pizza
Attleboro House of Pizza
Norton House of Pizza (which I have been told is quite tasty and is actually Greek-style rather than Italian)

A quick Google search shows that House of Pizza is common all throughout the East Coast. Maybe, when they all got started, they used the moniker to suggest it was like home cooking .

You know - house = home, etc?

Who knows.

Of course where I grew up in the great White North, we had no Houses of Pizza. Instead, we had Pizza Hut. And I guess I would rather eat at the House then the Hut any day. We also had Little Caeser's (Pizza! Pizza! Or so they claimed).

The best place to get pizza in northern Wisconsin is the bar, believe it or not. Most bars have these fancy little pizza ovens, and all you get is the frozen kind. But they are the good frozen kind. At worst you get a Tombstone. If you are lucky, your favorite bar will have Jack's or Smiley's - two of the better pizzas I have ever had.

Of course, now that I am moving back to Chicagoland, I will be forced to deal with the Chicago-style pizza, which I personally think is nasty bad. Unless, of course, I can get lucky and find a Roman style shop...

thin, crispy like a cracker, not overly sauced and creatively topped....... yum yum!

Friday, July 21, 2006

I think my cat is an alcoholic

When my cat Leo was just a wee tyke, he used to share a daily beer (Guinness whenever possible) with one of my roomies. I never thought much about it. Leo never had many brain cells to begin with, so I knew the beer couldn't make him any stupider. And he was a happy drunk, much given to snuggling.

Alas, into ever renter's life a little moving must fall, and after the move, Leo got no more beer. He actually hasn't had access to beer in more than 7 years.

Until last night.

Feeling totally lazy, I decided to have a lazy woman's dinner. I opened a can of baked beans (Bush's Homestyle - my favorite!), a bag of chips, and put some bratwurst on to boil. Now, my favorite brats are Johnsonville but I can't always find those in Boston, so I settled for some Kayem brand made with Boston-brewed Indian Pale Ale.

When I opened the package, I almost got drunk from the fumes! They were that redolent of IPA! And the fumes reawakened that demon that had just been waiting inside of Leo.

Coming out of a deep cat nap, he sauntered into the kitchen and sat at my feet, looking up at me with a little cat-smirk in his eyes. "Is that for me? Sure smells like it's for me."

No bratwurst for little kitties! Nyet! To get him to forgot about the beautiful smelling IPA brats, I opened a can of his favorite canned cat food - Royal Canine hypoallergenic venison. Normally, when I serve this, I have to lock him out of the kitchen until I get it into his dish because he tries to stick his head right in the can. Which then, of course, gets stuck, leading to cat panic and human mirth.

No luck. He looked at the dish and proceeded to jump on the stove and attempt to hook a boiling hot brat right out of the pan!

Since I am still bigger than him, I scooped him up and locked him out of the kitchen. Then, against my better judgement, I cooled one of the brats and smushed some of it up and then gave him some.

Honestly, I think he enjoyed his brat more than I enjoyed mine. Then again, maybe it was just the alcohol.

I wonder if they make brats with Guinness.....

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Things you do with a chicken before cooking it

Last night, I couldn't sleep. I don't know if it was the fact that it actually felt cold after how many days of convection oven temperatures or what.... but what do you do when you can't sleep? Well, I play bad video games. Like Family Fued.

I was going along fairly well... scoring well above average... when I just lost it. Failed. Did not make it to the speed round. Only got one out of the top seven answers... The category?

Things you do with a chicken before cooking it.

I should know this! What do I do with a chicken before cooking it? Marinade it. Debone it. Cut it up. Clean it. Of these, the only one that was in the top seven was "clean it."

And the number one answer? Buy it.

Well, I guess that for most people the fact that you have to buy the chicken before cooking it is really a no brainer. Except for people like me, who grew up in an environment where I would be more likely to say you have to kill the chicken before you cook it - what with all those chickens running around the yard.

Honestly, though, I am fairly surprised that people actually knew that you had to do anything to the chicken before cooking it. So many people only know chicken as something rotisseried at the supermarket. Or as something that comes pre-cooked and pre-sliced with fake grill marks in a ready-to-eat pouch. Fast and easy - yes. Scary - Oh yeah.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

So I am just getting this blog going. It will take a while to get there! but just a little tease to get you started.... here is my recipe for some of the best cookies ever ...


This recipe is a happy accident. One Thanksgiving, I was housesitting for a friend and was baking cookies. Sadly, I had left my vanilla at home, and my friend had none in the house. I did have some Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, however, and so substituted it. Fabulous!

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 shots Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 packet chocolate chips of your choice

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Add in egg and Godiva.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients. Combine well. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop cookie dough onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the cookies are nicely browned around the edges. Bake for a little longer for crisper cookies.