Musing on food and cooking ...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Today's Episode, In Which Heather Laughs in the Face of Cat-Ladydom

I learned yesterday that another one of my cousins is getting married. This led to a moment of some hilarity while I was talking with my mother on the phone. Another of my cousins, apprently, commented, "I suppose this means that just Heather and I are going to end up old maids."

Perhaps a bit of background is in order. I am the eldest of seven first cousins, all girls. A majority of us are what is often kindly called "big girls," as are most of the women in the distaff line of my family. Despite the fact that nearly all the women in my family have worked their entire lives in some fashion, most of the family is possessed of somewhat traditional, conservative ideals about gender roles. Every once in a while there is a little weird competitiveness between the women of my mother's generation and, currently, this is often played out among their children. So and so is smarter. So and so is prettier. So and so is, well, so much more whatever.

Now that the women of my generation are all adults, except for one who is a teenager, there is this undercurrent of competition about who is getting married, what quality are they marrying, etc etc ad naseum.

Anyway, I am the eldest, at the ripe spinster age of 33. I don't talk a lot about my personal life with my family. I learned not long ago that most of my family was quite convinced that I was a lesbian because I never talked about any of my college boyfriends or my sex life and I tended to bring my female friends home for visits. I've never really cared to disabuse them of their beliefs, because it doesn't really matter to me. I often do wish I were a lesbian, but I am sadly not. I didn't have what I considered to be a serious relationship until I was almost 30, only to find out 18 months into it that he was having serious relationships with several other women. And so that ended. I have dated sporadically here and there, but have come to the conclusion that I don't have the energy and patience to deal with a relationship right now. To be brutally honest, I don't honestly think I would be where I am today if I had been focused on finding a mate, getting married, and having babies. I am fully aware that many successful women have to forge a path for themselves that involves things other than traditional female pursuits. And so, right now, I have an intimiate relationship with Netflix and go out occassionally with two very handsome junior faculty men friends from the college. I am pretty at peace with my state of singledom, although there are things I do miss *ahem* But, I figure, if I find someone to share my life with, I find someone. If I don't, I am fully prepared to go it alone, with good friends and a chosen family and no more than two cats at any one time. Perhaps I will be like Gloria Steinem and not find anyone until I am in my 60s. Statistically, I have about a -125% chance of ever being married. I am too smart. I have an advanced degree. I am fat. I am radically independent. I earn more than many men. And I won't put up with any crap. And that is perfectly ok. I actually find it to be not such a bad thing. Because I am independent and able to take care of myself, I can be choosy about my partners. I don't have to let anyone into my life unless they bring something wonderful to it. I don't ever have to worry about "settling" just because I am a big girl.

I am not sure why my cousin made the comment about how she and I will end up being the only old maids in the family. I know why it is important to her. Real women, or so the messages she has received have taught her, are supposed to want to get married and have babies. It's terrible if you don't do that because there's something"wrong" with you and it is truly a crime against nature if you have no desire to do that. I think she assumes that she and I will both remain unmarried because we are fat. The remaining cousins are slim and delicate and pretty. I fear for her that she thinks this way as I fear it means that she will settle for someone who doesn't treat her as she deserves to be treated. And that would truly be a shame.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Today's Episode, In Which My Reality Is Wrenched Back Into Place

My Glamour magazine came in the mail last night. I am not sure why I get it, because it is truly a terrible thing for women's self-esteem, values, and goals, but I guess I find it to be a bit of distracting mind-candy that doesn't really hurt. Not really.

So, anyway, I was reading the article it had about America Ferrera, star of Ugly Betty, who I find to wonderful and cool and funny and smart, and completely fantanstic for making it as a big girl in an emaciated girl's business. When what do I read? She is a size 6-8 on the bottom and a size 10 on the top. Reality wrenched as I realized that I had been thinking of her as a big girl, when actually she is smaller than the average woman. And then I realized that Galmour et al probably does hurt me more than I can say, if I am starting to think of someone who is a size 10, at most, as a curvy girl. God/dess, if that is the case, even at my skinnest that makes me akin to the White Whale.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Well, not in the grand scheme of things, but certainly a blow to my routine! The permits came through on the roof, and the roofer got all the supplies to the house yesterday. The weather is gorgeous, and so they are starting the job today.

Now, I don't have cable. I have a dish. But the dish had to be located on the top of the roof rather than the side of the building, because I have a small personal pine forest blocking the entire southern side of the house. So, the dish is coming down today so the roof can be done.

Why is this slightly tragic? So go without tv for a few days, you ditzy bitch!

Um, Wednesday night is Top Chef night. And tonight is the Finale. Well, part 1 of the finale. I mean, how can I possibly miss that!?! I am seriously thinking of hanging out in the student center here on campus and battling the jocks over the flat screen tv.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The New and Unusual

I made some new and unusual foods over the weekend, and thought i would share

First, venison steak with mixed vinegar peppers. This is a take on a very traditional Italian dish, normally made with pork chops and those canned, vinegar hot peppers that Italians seem to love so much. I personally hate them. The vinegar hot peppers, not Italians. I usually like Italians.

First, I marinated some venison cull steak (which means old and chewy) in red wine, tarragon vineger, and an Italian season salt mixture for about 4 hours. Then I slowly braised the steak on the stove top. Then I threw in slices from one red pepper, one orange pepper, one ivory pepper, and one hot bannana pepper as well as two shallots and three cloves of garlic. I cooked it slow until everything was done. The only thing that happened was that the steak never really softened much, as it was cull steak, which is closely related to shoe leather. But doing something like this with a piece of chuck steak would probably work really well. The key is to just cook it long and slow.

Second, I made one of my new favorites - roasted radishes. Just take some nice clean radishes, chop them in half if they are big, toss with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. The radishes go all soft and sweet and that sharp raw radish taste goes bye bye..... I used some weird japanese radishes I got in my garden box. They are green on the outside and fuschia on the inside. Makes for an interesting visual side dish.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Menu for My Upcoming Harvest Fete/House Warming

If you want to come, let me know...

Brie with Herb-Infused Honey

Wild Mushroom Pâté

Garlic-infused venison roast

roasted potatoes with Rosemary

Wild Rice & Barley Pilau
with Sweet Potatoes & Golden Raisins

Savory Pumpkin Turnovers

Salad Greens with Regional Apples

Autumn Fruits Bread Pudding
With Ginger & Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Various harvest-Inspired Beverages

Monday, September 17, 2007

Potato and Three Onion Soup

2 pounds potatoes
1 large leek
2 large yellow onions
2 tablespoon dried toasted minced onions
1 quart water
1 quart 1% milk (or higher fat content)

Cut root end and woody green part off of the leek, then split the remainder down the middle and wash, making sure there is no grit on the inside of the leek. Cut leek into 1/2 inch slices. Rough chop the yellow onion. Coat the bottom of your soup pot with olive oil and then sweat the leek and onion over low heat until the get translucent and their choice are exuded. Scrub outsides of potatoes until clean, then chunk the potatoes into bite size pieces. Throw into the pot and then cover the whole mixture with about a quart of water. Add in dried minced onions. Cook until the potatoes just start to get tender. Then pour in mlik, and finish cooking until the potatoes are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Also good with some thyme thrown in. Garnish with chopped chives and a sprinkling of cheddar cheese.

A few notes: You can peel the potatoes or not. It's a choice thing. Also, some folks like a creamy potato soup, others like a milk broth with chunks. I am of the latter camp. If you want a smooth soup, do peel the taters and then use an immersion blender to puree the potatoes and broth together. Also, the more fat content in your milk, the creamier it will be.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fiat Tegula*

Well, as you know, my roof has got to be fixed. What could have been a project taken care of five years from now must be done immediately due to the awful deluge we had last month - more than 15 inches of rain in 10 days. I mean, I fully expected the animals to come marching two by two to my back steps.

After weeks of shuffling credit cards and calling my mortgage company and my bank, I learned I sure as hell couldn't come up with the $8500 needed for my project (it could be less but one must plan for the worst case scenario, ayup.) I was lamenting. I was hoping that I could make it through the winter so that I could save enough to cover the lower amount and then finance the remaining or prostitute myself or some such. So, mia madre, of her own decision, negotiated for me to borrow money from family.


As thankful as I am that a family member came through for me on this one, I have, well, issues - in general - about borrowing money from family. It makes me feel like a total failure. And I don't like being beholden to individuals whose life's work is not usury. It's one thing to be in hock to a money lending corporation; quite another to be in hock to a family member. But beggars can't be choosers. And so, I will suck it up and go forward.

I met with the roofer on Tuesday and paid the deposit and work will begin within two weeks. Moreover, he threw in some upgrades for free, so way cool. I picked a color called Autumn Brown, which looks like chocolate with coppery red highlights.

Anyway, I am going to be living like a cloistered nun for about the next three years so that I can pay the money back as soon as possible, if not sooner. And if anyone wants to throw some work my way, where I can earn a little bit of secret cash, let me know......

* = Let There Be a Roof

Monday, September 10, 2007


Well, I am still not feeling good emotionally. And on top of that I work with a fever today and cannot miss work under any circumstances. Anyway, whatever.

Here are two recipes that I made for the new faculty welcome party. I was under the impression that I was making appetizers for about 25 people. It, instead, turned out to be an appetizer potluck. So I made way too much food and can't get reimbursed for any of it. Here goes!

Herbed Honey

Take 1/2 cup honey and a large handful of fresh herbs of your choice. I used golden sage, thyme, and one spring of rosemary. Wash and then herbs. Add herbs and honey to a small pot. Add 1 t lemon juice. Put the heat to the lowest possible flame and let the the honey get bubbly good. Turn off heat and let herbs step for at least 1 hour. Heat the honey again to make for easier removal of the herbs. If you are worried about herb flecks in your honey, strain through a fine mesh sieve. Drizzle over brie or other pungent cheese.

Tuscan White Bean Hummus with Aleppo Pepper (For a Crowd)

4 cans of Italian White Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup good fruity olive oil
3 T lemon juice (or more to taste)
3 T dried minced garlic
3 T mixed Italian herbs, dried
2 t Aleppo pepper (or other mild red pepper)

Put the rinsed and drained beans in a large mixing bowl. Mash with a potato masher until no individual beans can be seen. Add in remaining ingredients and then mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon until creamy and smooth. Depending on your beans and your taste, you may want to add additional olive oil or lemon juice. This one tastes better if you can let it sit for a while, so try to make it the day before you really want to eat it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Taking a Little Break

I won't be writing for a few days. I am very down. For a lot of reasons. And I am tired of blogging into the void.