Sad Mecca

29 Jan

I found it… the holy grail of online food idiocy. I know this makes me out to be a real bitch, and maybe I am, but I have to share. I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before… copycat recipes! I found a holy slew of websites devoted to recreating the foodstuffs of Disney resorts, Applebee’s, The Cheesecake Factory, and the mind-numbingly underwhelming American favorite, Olive Garden. Seriously this shit is just depressing.

I have to ask… when did Disneyland become a place of culinary excellence? Oh right, it didn’t. At what point did people spending money to go out to dinner stop caring about the quality of the food or the fact that “cooking” at Olive Garden literally consists of microwaving pre-packaged sauces and pre-cooked chicken? You know what, I have like, a million more questions, all because I typed “copycat recipes” into Pinterest. Here goes.

Why do the words “Cracker Barrel” fill me with so much rage? Additionally, is it possible to say “Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole” without sending yourself into a hate coma?

What the fuck is a Sonic Frito Chili Cheese Wrap? It seriously sounds like poison.

In regards to Applebee’s Quesadilla Burger… WHY. Not even a question. Just, WHY.

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Why is it that all Starbucks drinks look like giant piles of candy in a plastic cup? Is it okay to drink these as a fully-cognizant adult? Is buying one at the Starbucks inside Target for $5.50 seriously not doing it for you– you need to do it at home, as well? Additionally, what the fuck is wrong with you?

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Why is Disney’s Chili and Beans called chili and beans? Chili IS beans. Chili IS BEANS! And why is Disney’s Chili and Beans the most standard-issue easy as fuck chili recipe I’ve ever seen in my life? Oh right, because Disney. 

Speaking of Disney, can you watch this video without your head exploding? Because I can’t.

Just a few more questions to throw out there.

If you combine sweetened condensed milk, chocolate milk, and frozen cool whip in the blender to resemble a Wendy’s Frosty, is there any hope that you’re not cripplingly depressed?

How come all the Olive Garden salads appear to be primarily croutons?

Why would I want to make a McChicken sandwich at home (when it costs $1 at a drive-thru) if I had to

a) even remotely desire a McChicken in the first place, and
b) purchase a deep fat fryer to do so?

Applebee’s… what in holy hell is a POTATO TWISTER?! I think it’s a potato chip? Similarly, who goes to Applebee’s and leaves being like, “MAN I WANNA EAT THAT ALL THE TIME…IN THE COMFORT OF MY OWN HOME! Internet, come at me!!!”

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Until today I have chosen to believe that this sort of person simply doesn’t exist, but oh, Pinterest, you’ve done it again! Thanks for instilling within me a deep-seated fear of the majority of the population. Cool. By now I’m fairly certain that everybody just sucks at eating.

On an unrelated but equally terrible note that I must share, I found a recipe for “2-Ingredient Nutella croissants”! If you thought making croissants would be difficult, YOU WERE WRONG! All you actually need is a can of croissant dough. And a jar of nutella. And you smack those together and PRESTO CHANGE-O, a recipe!

People, please. You’re hurting my heart.

Eating the Heart

22 Jan

Most people I know have some kind of food that they turn to when they want comfort. It’s something familiar and safe, and it represents a goodness we all crave. We look for the goodness in our lives and we eat whatever that thing is to sustain ourselves. For some people it’s the classic hot tea and chocolate, or a grilled cheese sandwich, or maybe some horrifying combination of burgers and fries at your favorite guilty drive-through.

For me it’s cioppino. It’s a rich tomato-y stew originating in San Francisco that is filled with all manner of seafood: clams, mussels, oysters, cod, and prawns. It is somehow hearty yet delicate, intensely flavorful yet calming. I have eaten cioppino in a little seafood diner at Pike Place while laughing with my family. I’ve made it for Christmas dinner while my mom took videos on her fancy new phone, I of course am ruminating over the correct cooking times for the various shellfish. I’ve fallen in love, starry-eyed in a new relationship, over a bowl of the stuff, in a warm living room (in front of a fire no less… so sue me).

It is delicious and robust. It has heart. It has the inexplicable ability to make my chaotic life feel safe for a few moments. Don’t ask me how it does it because I don’t understand it myself. It’s been said for ages that the sea has healing properties, and a part of me likes the idea that perhaps eating a bowl of the creatures that reside there allows me to somehow harness their powers for myself. Pardon me for getting all universey-magic on you, but cioppino has a spiritual quality, like eating the heart of a bull.

eDSC_0416Longhorn’s get-Sally-feeling-rad-again stew

This is all to say that lately I’ve needed that… to feel warm and safe and happy and taken care of. Thank god my friend Jesse somehow knew that and whisked me down to Edison in the middle of the afternoon to find some cioppino. We went to the Longhorn after hearing they served it, though we found it’s not quite cioppino… it was essentially the same but with spinach and parmesan and ground Italian sausage as well.

Whatever, it totally did the trick. So there in the window in a bar in the middle of all those fields and all that salty sea air, between sloppy mouthfuls of oysters and garlic bread, I got right.

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Disgusted Food Elitist

3 Dec

Uuuuuuuuuggh, you guuuuys! When did it become totally acceptable to make/eat/blog about/advertise without any shame whatsoever your awful desperation food!?

Behold: More unseemly recipes from the terrible world of loveless marriages attempting to cure complacency with Hidden Valley Ranch packets and Pillsbury products! This, impossibly, appears to be an entire category of people, and it’s existence threatens to unhinge my fragile conception of my future life. Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not let it be this.

Cheddar Bacon Ranch Pull Apart Bread

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I would die happy if I never read the words CHEDDAR-BACON-RANCH combined ever again. WHY IS THIS A THING. Buying a loaf of sourdough and stuffing it with bacon, dry ranch powder, and cheese doesn’t warrant it’s own recipe/ copycat recipes/ how-to VIDEO on the internet. It does, however, deserve to be put it the Foods for Lazy White People Hall of Fame.

Pizza Cupcakes

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Stop it. Just stop.

Pizza Waffle Cones

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Please, please stop. This is breaking my heart. Pizza reincarnated recipes are always followed by statements like , “The hubby goes cah-razy for these!” or in the awesome, half-drunken words of my BFF Riley,  “The secret? Philadelphia CREAM CHEESE! My son just yums them up! …With my taco-ranch-bbq croissant rolls, he and my husband are saying ‘Mom’s#1!!!!”

(Thank you, Christina, for effectively summing up possibly the greatest Riley monologue of all time)

John calls this Dude Food. I call it a depressing, diabetes-inducing suburban nightmare of American hopelessness, but that’s just me. Other trending foods I despise: Buffalo chicken anything. “Roll-ups” (why!?). Skewered meats unnecessarily called lollipops. And this. Holy Jesus, this:

buffalo-chicken-wing-cupcakes

This is exactly what you think it is. This has replaced my getting eaten by dolphins nightmare as my regular dreamscape of despair.

Also, why must everything made in a crockpot have twelve descriptors in the recipe title? I found something called a Crock Pot Chicken Cream Cheese Casserole Bake. Honestly. And JUST because something has cream cheese included, it does not warrant it’s own space in the recipe title. I mean, you should probably keep it a secret. You have a terrible secret cream cheese addiction, and you should hide it from the world before you get diagnosed with heart disease. Then tell your doctor and for the love of god SEEK HELP/stop including Campbell’s cream of chicken soup in everything/go easy on the lil’ smokies.

Jesus. My internal rage with the universe is transmogrifying into internet-food-society resentment. Bear with me. I love you. Eat vegetables. Goodnight, amen, etcetera.

Coping Strategies

27 Nov

As my therapist told me, “if you’re going through hell, just keep going.” She obviously wasn’t the first one to say it, but she was the first one to say it to me. So. If you’re going through hell, just keep going.

And drink plenty of tea.

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Buy expensive treats to enjoy.

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Try to find joy in little surprises.

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And make yourself some goddamn waffles, already.

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Waffles For One On a Weekday Morning

1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
dash of cinnamon, for good measure

3/4 cup milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix your dries, then mix the wets, then mix ’em together. Put them in an oiled waffle maker. Wait a few minutes, eat with plenty of syrup, a pear and some tea, watch Louie on Netflix, attempt to pause the near-constant stream of uncomfortable self-evaluation for a moment. Makes four waffles.

Pinterest, meet my food bitching. Sorry in advance.

14 Nov

Like most red-blooded Americans (because that is what I AM, DAMN IT), I am inherently fascinated with things that disgust and horrify me. This accounts for my morbid and earnest foray into the world of pro-eating disorder webpages that I frequented as a 12 year old, the oft-watched Intervention episodes as a teen (and later on: Hoarders, Toddlers in Tiaras, etc.), and other general train wrecks presented online that I can’t tear myself away from. It comes in many (many, many, maaaaany) glorious forms. But lately my interest is mostly piqued by the absolutely horrific displays of food on Pinterest. Listen, HATERS GONNA HATE. So I admit right now, I am being a judge-y, eyebrow-waggling, uppity food snob about this. AND IT FEELS SO GOOD. So please, enjoy my tour of the most disgusting food pins I’ve recently seen on Pinterest.

Cake Batter Martinis:


This is not my photo, obviously. None of the photos on this post are. They came from honest blogs whom I am currently disrespecting. Oh, goodie.

Okay, as if “cake” wasn’t already the worst flavor of ALCOHOL anyone ever thought of, they went ahead and made it cake batter. Since when is batter, in and of itself, a flavor of anything? This is nauseating, and possibly the most embarrassingly girly drink I’ve ever heard of. I guess it’s probably the whiskey lover in me talking, but HONESTLY- where is your shame!? Secondly, you rim the glass in frosting and dip it in sprinkles. Are we children? Are we at a party? Unless we are, the consumption of frosting should most likely be a littttttle more prudent. Also, “rimming your glass in frosting” is far too suggestive a phrase considering the childlike nature of this beverage. ABORT, ABORT!

Pepperoni Pizza Dip:

I am distressed by the pools of grease. If this were my slice of pizza, I’d dab a paper napkin on top a la 6th grade school cafeteria to soak up those puddles. But since it’s not a slice, it’s a dip, I suppose it’s to be inferred that pools of grease are totally cool to ingest. It’s a liquid, right? Like a DIP! So help yourself to a giant, molten pond of oily cheese and pepperoni! One helpful commenter suggested that it goes great with celery or carrots. Listen, I’m no health nut. But celery and melted pepperoni and cheese pizza DO NOT EVEN EACH OTHER OUT. BARF. Also, if you want to eat some crappy greasy pizza as we all feel like doing sometimes, just fucking do it! Don’t disguise it as a cutesy appetizer, you’re not fooling anybody.

Dorito Taco Bake:

I don’t know where to begin. Theoretically when all’s said and done, this thing tastes like a taco… but I eat tacos that taste like mostly like carne asada and cilantro. So, apparently there’s a whole other kind of taco I don’t even know about that tastes like crescent rolls (one of the ingredients) and Doritos (the other key ingredient [henceforth the word “ingredient” is now void of all meaning forever and ever amen]). I really have nothing else to say about this.

Cake mix plus quirky additions:

Apparently I’ve become a cake snob. If you’re gonna make a box cake STOP TRYING TO TRICK PEOPLE INTO THINKING IT’S NOT BOX CAKE! Whatever! Eat whatever weird box mix you want! But why are adding all sorts of random junk you found expired in your pantry trying to convince me it’s not a box cake!? I realize people are busy. Busy people should not bake cakes,they should just buy a nice one, or recruit their friends to make them a cake, because when busy people try to make cakes, this is what they come up with. And it’s awful.

For the record, I wholeheartedly discourage any recipe that includes the addition of chips or soda, for approximately one million obvious reasons.

Avocado and Cottage Cheese Snack:

You know, I’m not trying to be a dick. I appreciate the intention here. I like avocados. I like cottage cheese. At least this isn’t a crapload of hydrogenated shit. I might, in an act of low blood sugar desperation, eat this thing with no problem. I just hate that this is called a recipe. It’s two things. One of the things has a conveniently shallow opening and the other thing needs some sort of container. Thus, this recipe is born. Sigh. Siiiiiiigh.

Then there’s the entire category of Superbowl food, all of which is shaped like a football and completely unappetizing, but that should probably be saved for another post. I think my food-snobbery-crankiness has hit it’s peak for the evening.

Overshare zone!

13 Nov

We’ll start in the kitchen, where most things start out anyway.

I haven’t forgotten about the blog, I haven’t even been particularly unmotivated. I’ve been cooking like crazy, looking for comfort in simmered stocks and baking projects… the truth is I’ve been avoiding this little corner of the internet. It’s hard to know how much to share to a public audience when your writing is about food, and as much as you try to make your life about food, circumstances come up that make you think about things that aren’t as pleasant or easy as throwing a roast in the oven. This summer was a rough one that raised a lot of questions and forced me to make several big, shaky, scramble-yer-brain decisions in order to maintain some semblance of sanity. To begin, I left my job and started working in a new kitchen.

I wasn’t getting the kind of cooking experience that I really wanted. I wasn’t learning anything new, and I felt any talent I had in me was going to waste there. That, and sometimes you just have to say fuck it and take care of yourself, because you certainly can’t depend on your boss(es) to do that for you, as was proven to me time and time again there. As some form of catharsis it’s tempting for me to spill everything on here, but for posterity I’ll leave it at that. I got an opportunity to work in a new kitchen, (which I’ll brilliantly just call Kitchen from here on out- creativity points!)– the kind of kitchen that embodies my food ideals. You know the drill- all locally sourced, organically grown, made from scratch comfort food that has none of those terrifying manufactured food shortcuts that are used in plenty of restaurants. I also got the chance to work with dough, which was something I’d never gotten to do before, so on some days I wake up early and hang out in the kitchen by myself, where I roll baguettes and form perfect little buns, get elbow deep in biga and totally destroy my hands in the process. It’s lovely, and I’ll probably never be able to wear nail polish again. C’est la vie.

It had been a few years since I was the new kid in a kitchen, and it’s funny to be in that spot again. I’d forgotten what it was like to consistently fuck things up and have to apologize for it. It can be frustrating, because no matter how proficient you feel you are in the kitchen you will inevitably screw up some major things simply because it hasn’t become an engrained process. Every kitchen is different, and you come to rely heavily on muscle memory to get your timing right and not totally lose your cool with the exceptional multi-tasking that the longterm staff make look easy.

Being new in this kitchen and watching myself falter and fail on a regular basis is pretty damn similar to what’s happening in the rest of my life right now. C and I ended our relationship, which I won’t get into here. Between that, my love life, my dad and his sickness and my family relationships, what I’m left with is one big pile of questions and uncertainty and sadness and nostalgia and excitement and weirdness. Just like at Kitchen, with that pile of stuff I have try to come up with solutions so I don’t lose my shit completely. I reconfigure how I go about things. It is clumsy and painful and half the time I think I look like a jackass. I might accidentally boil 12 pounds of radishes instead of beets. I might make twice as much dough as I was supposed to. I might knock over a pot of perfectly diced vegetables that represented a two hour project I now have to shortcut and re-do completely.  As any of my friends will tell you, I might well up and cry for no apparent reason, or I might crack up and dance around and smile at babies and be a happy, well-adjusted person for a moment.

For awhile it was hard to write about food because I wasn’t eating. After I started eating again, I eventually started cooking again. But still, writing wasn’t coming to me. I’m building myself back up block by block, and creative output is the last thing I’m coaxing back to the surface (besides, you know, general happiness and coping strategies. Life!).

Also, what the what is UP with it being dark All. The. Time!? It blows, and since I refuse to build a light box and only enjoy photographing food by natural light that means I have to eat at like, 4 pm at the latest to get a decent photo. Well THAT’S not gonna happen since lately I stay up until the wee, wee hours in the nighttime and that means I eat at 9 or so. Clearly I just need to eat out more, preferably lavish meals where I can get on about cream and butter and salt. In the meantime, bear with me. Soon enough I’m sure I’ll get my sea legs back. Er, my kitchen legs. Er… life legs. Here’s hoping.

Aside

Ooh… imported!

18 Oct

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Another steal from the Bellingham Grocery Outlet… it’s imported. FROM NEW JERSEY! Ooh, la la. Shit, I guess you get what you pay for! (Also, thanks for the helpful tips! Using this cheese on pasta is some pretty revolutionary thinking.)

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