Saturday, November 24, 2007


After working a double with nary a good tip and suffering from a cat-allergy-induced cold for the past few days, including and perhaps at its apex during Thanksgiving dinner, I have been less than interested in doing anything other than lay in bed and wheeze. However, this has not been possible. Yesterday was spent getting out of town and touring historic Donaldsonville. Historic Donaldsonville! Home to America's first African-American mayor, Pierre Landry, and to America's first caesarean-section (performed on a slave, no mention of whether she survived or not...). Walking past an old grocers called "Shaheen's" I noticed a plaque written in both Arabic and English. My heart skipped a beat! Lebanese immigrants. Also, Donaldsonville had a considerable Jewish immigrant population, the synagogue now an Ace Hardware (does Hebrew still hum in the woodwork? Do the mice still squeak shalom?). Lunch at a so-called "African-Creole-Cajun" restaurant-gallery which turned out to be mostly 'Classy Cajun,' vegetarianism being something freakish, or so I was led to assume, and the gallery bit being a showcase for quaint glass crosses and paintings of dogs in gardens. We toured Laura Plantation afterwards, an old Creole place facing the Mississippi, lovely, gardens heavy with oranges, tangerines, satsumas and persimmons. They were selling all the citrus in the gift shop; I asked about the persimmons and the woman behind the counter had no idea what I was talking about. She said "help yourself" and so I did. I love the persimmons sweet permissiveness.

Thanksgiving was the day before, and quite fine. We had a few friends over, no big deal, but invented a new tradition in which we stuff random objects into a ceramic unicorn bust with the hopes of removing them in the year to come. I invented the 'screwhound' for breakfast (though unlikely to have been the first to do so), vodka with grapefruit and orange juice. We played Star Wars monopoly (Dan besting both me and Beau) before cooking, once again missing the opening day at the track for the fifth, or is it sixth, year. On the menu:
Star anise and satsuma-cooked cornish hens, or something like that.
Mushroom stuffing
Apple and onion stuffing brought by Steph
Red onion, cranberry, and tangerine salad, also by Steph
and the best thing she brought, lemon nut cookies (ridiculous)
(and my additions) Mashed potatoes a la Joy of Cooking
Roasted fennel with olives and garlic
Brussel sprout hash with caramelized shallots
Pumpkin and Marscapone Pie
and caramel cake with coconut milk instead of dairy.

As for the eats today: 1 sandwich and a persimmon for breakfast, Reginelli's breadsticks with artichoke hearts and green olives, and penne marinara and fake sausage, and a persimmon, for dinner.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mashrubaat Ruhheyya

That is how you saw 'alcoholic beverages' in Arabic. And that is what this house is evidently full of.

Today I ate:
1. Breakfast consisted of a "Ham" and "mayonnaise" sandwich with spinach and some old tomatoes.
2. I had the same for lunch, sans tomatoes, they were gross. Then I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dessert.
3. For dinner we went to Kyoto for sushi, and I must say, that rocked my world.

Post-dinner the other night, Dan and I were sitting on the couch watching the dogs lick peanut butter off the ends of their noses, he drinking a chocolate milk and me finishing some wine, and talking about how nice it is to be grown up. It's awesome, awesome, to be able to do whatever you want, and I think we lose sight of that. Maybe I will have another glass of wine! Maybe I WILL eat peanut butter and jelly on crackers! Maybe I will do all of these things, at the same time, laying in bed, watching He-Man on dvd! I won't list any of the other things that can happen (so to keep this family friendly), but man, I'm thankful for all of it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A New Project

While planning my Thankgiving menu yesterday, I found the menu from last year's Thanksgiving. It seemed like a sort of artifact in the study of my own life. I felt inspired. I think that I'm going to start a new and interesting, well, hopefully interesting little project. I want to make a list of everything that I eat every day. I see bargraphs and pie charts in my future.

So, today.
For breakfast I had a sandwich made of whole wheat bread, veganaise, Lightlife fake ham, and spinach. For what I guess I could call lunch I had a small cup of coffee (and I never, ever, drink coffee, I'm not sure what possessed me to buy it, aside from tremendous lethargy I suppose) and an oatmeal raisin cookie. I went home two hours later and ate delicioso Milagro corn tortilla chips (which were in actuality the tiny little crumbly remnants of much larger chips that had gone the way of the passenger pigeon days ago) with veganaise on them, then some rolled up fake ham, dipped in veganaise, sprinkled in chips.
In two hours I'm going over to my friend Casey's house for a pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner, so I'll just have to update the rest of the list later.

UPDATE: excellent spread! Broccoli and cheddar melt, green bean casserole, tofu in an apricot and balsamic vinaigrette glaze with sliced vegetables, mashed potatoes, stuffing (into which I suspect a piece of meat had been secreted), eggnog, rolls. And I even met a kid who had biked down here from Wisconsin and was sleeping on rooftops in frightening neighborhoods.

Monday, November 19, 2007

New Orleans Po-Boy Preservation Festival

Yesterday was the first annual New Orleans Po-Boy Fest on Oak St., currently the site of some very interesting regenerative spirit. Upon arriving to find throngs, literally throngs of people stuffing the streets, children getting lost and dogs being stepped on, we were somewhat terrified and had to temporarily abandon ship for a predictably-awesome lunch at Lebanon's.
Highlights - some guy's boxer yowled after getting a toe crunched. A woman walking by with her two little sons said "Oh dearie! Poor pup just got stepped on! Why dontcha' give him a little kiss!" Her son, about eye level with the dog, gave him a nice wet one on his rump. She says "There, now it's all better." That warmed the cockles of my heart, as did the 2nd line that erupted right before the Iguanas hit the stage. Standing there watching that red and white tassled umbrella fly up and down while cheeks ballooned behind brass instruments, and everyone dancing, young and old, black and white, face-tattooed and yuppie alike, I swear a goddamned tear came to my eye. A friend of mine is in town after moving away last January, and he's currently planning on moving back home. In some ways, I'm seeing the experience through his eyes, and in some ways it's me seeing the future, a reluctant but perhaps necessary return to Washington D.C., a real job, school and all of this behind me. I reassure myself by saying that inevitably I will come back, but I think the point is, how can I leave in the first place?

Wish I Could Go To San-Fran

Expanding the Frontiers of the Vegetarian Plate, NY Times, 11-18-07.

Friday, November 16, 2007

PETA kinda sucks.

They did it again.

Some of the black and white shots of her make her look like a corpse. Once again, PETA seems to miss the point; instead of a hamburger we're visually eating her body. Ho hum.

Pumpkin Broth and Spaghetti Squash

Dan always tells me that I'm turning into his grandmother, Margaret. It's because I pick up cans and bottles on the street and bring them home from the restaurant to recycle, I'm obsessed with the notion of 'dumpster diving' (simply because I can't stand the idea that good food is just being thrown away, uh, and I'm a poor student), and I've been known to do really odd frugal things, like save dental floss (in my defense, we were traveling and damn if I didn't know if I would need some dental floss) and bring home chicken carcasses from friend's dinners to turn into broth for someone else's meal. My most recent thing is that I've been collecting the pumpkins that silly people throw away, assuming that now Halloween has passed, their usefulness is exhausted. Not true! A pumpkin is tasty! It has lots of seeds that can be baked! Sure, it's a pain in the ass to process it, but sometimes I feel like lobotomizing and cooking a pumpkin.
I had no idea what I was doing last night but decided to go at the smallest one I had. Knife in hand, I attacked, but discovered that the outer shell was like pressed wood. By the time I had gotten about a quarter of it peeled and cubed, I decided that would be enough. Then I tossed it into a pot with some onions that I had carmelizing, plus some cumin, and waited for it to cook. A little bit of vegetable broth later, I started wondering what else I could do with it. How about some dried galangal and kaffir lime leaves? Tossed that in. A little bit of allspice, some salt, some sugar...

It kind of looked gross. But it tasted okay. I let it cook a while longer, and in the meantime wanted to use up some leftover wonton wrappers on their last legs, so made stuffing out of a package of mixed mushrooms, a little soy sauce, minced garlic, and sausage (vegan, and quite spicy) squeezed out of the casing. Soup tasted better, but I didn't like the idea of eating all the solid stuff in there, so I decided to strain in, squeeze out the pumpkin mix, and use the pumpkin-broth as a base for egg-drop soup. Brilliant! I'm serious, this turned out to be one of those rare moments that I exhibit true and unwavering brilliance. It was so, so good. Plus, I added the pumpkin (sans galangal and lime leaves), to the wonton filling and hence pumpkin-mushroom wontons were born. What didn't get stuffed into the wee wrappers I mixed in with a spaghetti squash that I was baking, so then I had pumpkin-mushroom spaghetti.

So, in conclusion, I take this as a positive development in my culinary evolution, and wanted to share. Also, I realized the other day that I don't think about sex anymore, I think about food.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Okay, please go here, now.

Tasty Lil' Wontons

Okay, first thing's first. I got my birthday present from Dan yesterday (thankyou thankyou thankyou), Isa Chandra Moskovitz's book Vegan With a Vengeance and her's and Terry Hope Romero's Veganomicon. Yah yah, I'm not exactly a vegan, but that doesn't mean that I'm not amazed by the creative ways that foods are tackled. Plus, I don't see anything wrong with eating vegan (except missing out on honey...that's messed up).

Second thing: yum, I did real good last night. Reeeeal good. These wontons were easy, incredibly delicious, and smacked of a professionalism that I didn't realize I possessed.

Tasty Lil' Wontons

1 package of wonton wrappers (I used Nasoya)
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
5-6 small shiitake mushrooms
1/2 of a large carrot, grated
tamari sauce
soy sauce
olive oil
vegetable oil

for sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
sesame seeds
1 Tbsp finely chopped green onions
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1. Heat a tablespoon on olive oil in a medium size pan. Add the onion and garlic. Allow them to soften and become transparent, then add the carrots. Cook for another 5 minutes before adding the mushrooms. Mix in a teaspoon of tamari sauce, and let that puppy cook on low for about 20 minutes. Turn of flame and allow the mix to cool.

2. Make your dipping sauce: add all ingredients together.

3. Put a small amount, about 1 tsp, in the middle of the wonton wrapper. Spread it out a bit so that the wontons won't break while cooking. Run a wet finger around the edge and seal the wonton. Put it on a plate and cover, so that the dough doesn't dry out.

4. Immerse the wontons in boiling salted water for no more than 20 seconds, then fry 'em up in about a tsp of vegetable oil.

5. Eat.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Dia de los Muertos

Last Friday we threw a Dia de los Muertos party over at what we affectionately refer to as 'Evangeline,' Evan's home in Pigeon Town off of South Carollton. It was an excuse to dress up like skeletons, and I badly wanted to make skull maracas. Of course, it was also a good reason to cook, and cook we did. I tried to approximate a bean and rice dish that my friend Casey had effortlessly whipped together for lunch a few days before (garlic rice, black beans, caramelized onions, minced garlic, corn, salt, avocado slices, would have liked to add some mole but the new Breaux Mart, R.I.P. Sav-a-Center, didn't carry it), and while it was good it wasn't quite the same as hers. I also made devil's food cupcakes, decorated with little skull faces, and Julie produced some lovely cookies for the altar (see photo) plus anise bread. All of that turned out well and good, but nothing topped our costumes. Obviously, they were quite brilliant, augmented by E-Ray's amazing photography. Toss in a little cerveza and some sangria, and damn, you get quite a good party.