30 September 2002

why would i ever go out to dinner at a restaurant when many, if not most, of my friends are fabulous cooks? i'd much rather go to someone's house, watch them cook, munch on raw veggies, pick the music and dine on fabulous food made just for me rather than sitting in some stuffy booth with inattentive servers, listening to bad musak and getting very small portions on very large plates. even good restaurants with attentive servers and a wide variety of vegetarian options does not measure up to the pleasure of dining at a friends house.

this weekend, jodi made polenta with rosemary mushrooms, pasta and steamed artichockes with pesto butter. we brought organic lettuce to make a salad and tiffany and amanda made brownies. i put on erasure covers of abba. we had wine and beer. it was all good. so good.

27 September 2002

oh man! i just wrote this powerfully eloquent entry and accidentally erased it. drat!

anyways, here we go again: a few nights ago i came home late and hungry and tired and threw together broccoli, mushrooms and leftover pasta in what came out to be a simple and delicious latenight meal. so last night i did the same thing, but with tomatoes instead of broccoli. a little butter, some olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, garlic and a handful or so of parmesan cheese. my dinner resembled one of those stoufers frozen stirfry bags, but i guess since those are supposed to resemble real stir fry with fresh veggies, i did good.

but what i had been saying before i ever so rudely erased my own post, was that my wonderful dinner was eclipsed by the messed up lunch time discussion i had yesterday. my organization gathered us together to tell us all about the exciting new building plans over lunch which in itself was hideous. you remember that kid who always got beat up in third grade? well, he's become the president of the organization [and god help me if anyone related to my workplace reads this]. right, so before the actual presentation, we were provided with a tasty [kosher] taco lunch, complete with tofu onion vegetarian alternative to the ground beef. i sat at a table with five of my female coworkers and, with that, i pose the question:

Why, i ask, are women incapable of sitting down to a meal together without talking about body weight, fat, dieting and caloric intake?! while dining on our soft shelled and most likely very low calorie tacos (veggie "ground beef," no cheese, etc.), women at my table sighed about how hard it is to stay on a diet, decided to go off the diet "for the day," admired others' ability to exercise self-control and only eat fruit salad, etc. agh! what is wrong with people?!? its as if you can only eat if you simultaneously lament the fact that, well, you are eating.

ah, and thus, in our "post-feminist" age, we have so many so many horrible concepts about health and body beautiful. at what point did these women decide that a strict diet of raw fruits and veggies was the admirable, healthiest way to go? i work with one woman who, when i brought in a bag of jelly bellies for the office, checked the calorie count. the heartiest meal i've seen her eat is a microwaved sweet potato sans toppings. another woman i work with eats the same meal for lunch and the same dinner every day: for lunch, microwaved fruit with a scoop of yogurt; for dinner, microwaved veggies with chickpeas. no wonder she's teeny, pasty, pale, tired and has thin hair! its so sad that people think that this is a good way to eat.

i am grateful to my parents for being total gourmets and gourmands. i'm so glad that by the time i was six, they were dragging me to sushi restaurants, taking me to neat restaurants in foreign countries and exposing me to a world beyond macaroni&cheese. as a result, while i certainly have body image backage, something impossible to avoid as an american female, i like to think that i have a very healthy attitude towards food in that i'm mildly obsessed with it. so thank you mom and dad!

25 September 2002

what ann ate in flight:

"the first course is marinated salmon with egg and dill
For the main course we serve cheese cannelloni with
spinach, mixed peppers and provencale sauce.
for dessert fresh fruit. coffee or tea.
before landing we will serve you breakfast consisting
of hot rolls, cold cuts, yoghurt and marmalade, coffee
or tea and orange juice.
of course, all the booze you want, too.
I recall it was quite good, considering. better than
domestic flights, for sure."

when, oh when, will u.s. airlines ever learn?!?

and i, for dinner last night, had crustless asparagus and cheese quiche with mini-croissants, and a cucumber tomato feta salad. dessert was soy ice cream and caramel filled chocolate chip cookies. it was good.

24 September 2002

i'm already thinking about tonight's dinner: tomato asparagus quiche and mini croissants! yum yum yum! and a really bad movie to go with it. oh, if only it was 5pm RIGHT NOW!

i am quite pleased that my new neighbor is enthusiastic about cooking...its nice to have someone around who can encourage me to be adventurous in my cooking. thats one of the many reasons i like my friend sara who is an absolutely amazing cook. she and i get together and produce such wonderful stuff. at the domino party she held on sunday night, she provided organic tomato goat cheese salad, mixed bean salsa, tabouleh and homemade sourdough bread. she has promised me starter since mine died. ...and her's is much more low maintenance, so i'll hopefully be able to keep it alive. in the meantime, my dead starter is still sitting in the fridge. should i bury it? throw it down the toilet? just toss it out? i feel bad about it...i killed yeast and didn't even get a loaf of bread out of it. man....i can't be responsible for any living thing...its a miracle the cat's still alive.

22 September 2002

no tastier breakfast than homemade turtle brownies and coffee. well balanced, nutritious, full of caffeine and sugar. sure to spin me off into the world a jittery mess. woo hoo!

20 September 2002

for the two weeks preceeding my period, my menstruation, the rag, the red curse, etc., my stomach becomes the bottomless pit. this means, of course, that i am a bottomless pit about 50% of the time. today is one of those days. i have dinner plans at 8pm tonight and am STARVING right now so i'm having a, er, "small" snack which is a bowl of shell pasta with tomatoes, feta cheese, basil, garlic [powder], salt and pepper. simplicity. filling. non-snack-like.

this is what elon ate for lunch:
"i had a salad with olives and a croissant
some triple cream brie and sugar snap peas, tomatoes,
artichokes and smoked turkey."

"kind of a weird mix," she says.

"good though," she adds.

i've been eating these fabulous sandwiches for lunch for the past few days: farmers cheese, fresh bazil, raw mushrooms and either red pepper or tomato. so simple but so good! and i owe it all to my dear former roommate who introduced me to both farmers cheese and raw mushrooms. thank you! thank you!

last night my new neighbor across the street made me brownies which was very friendly of her! i strongly support baking for friends and if any of the three people who read this want to bake something for me, i would gladly accept what you make. really. because i am a good friend.

19 September 2002

i've been avoiding meat just long enough that I've forgotten which meats i don't like. except ham. i know i don't like ham. so yesterday, when i got to john's birthday party and all that was left, after i snarfed down the plate of food that barb so kindly saved for me, was pepperoni pizza, i decided i would go for it. apparently, i don't like pepperoni.

and for those of you who may one day buy me a birthday cake, don't get one with marzipan frosting...it looks kind of, um, cool in that plastic cake kind of way, but ick ick ick! i much prefer anything (without nuts) from taste of heaven. oh, and my birthday is on february 24th. you'll have to order that cake ahead of time.


18 September 2002

i've successfully developed an impossible relationship with coffee wherein drinking it gives me the jitters but abstaining gives me a headache.


i brought a bag of "belly flops" in to work today and my coworkers are slowly snacking their way through the irregular jelly belly's, mostly cherry, pear and green apple. i'm hoping there aren't any irregular bertie bott jelly belly's in there...it wouldn't be very nice.

last night for dinner i had curly french fries (with mustard), a glass of cranberry juice and a beer. luckily, i had a late afternoon snack: an open-faced sandwich with farmer's cheese, red pepper and mushrooms and a small cup of vegetarian chili from gourmande, the cute cafe down the street from my office. gourmande is so strange...a quaint college cafe appealing, i guess, to columbia students, right in the middle of printer's row, a neighborhood that is simultaneously hoity toity and totally down and out. walk in and they're playing obscure indie-rock, showing student artwork and selling relatively cheap food ($2.50 for a cup of chili!). its so misplaced, but i like it...reminds me of the cafe in my college town. oh, and since there's a real brit working at gourmande, they sell real scones instead of those weird triangle-shaped things passing for scones throughout this terribly confused country.

i miss those kinds of places. its hard to find coffee shops in chicago that aren't either starbucks or desperate attempts to feel like starbucks. well, okay, that's not entirely true, but gone are the days of dimly lit coffee shops with comfie old couches and boardgames. now they're all brightly lit, clean and full of those little round tables. somewhere out there must be a very happy ceo of the little-round-table company. gourmande, it should be noted, has litte rectangular tables...see what i mean about being a dramatic departure from the current concept of "cafe." wow. blows your mind.

i was told yesterday by a patronizing 42 year old man that i'm "a very sarcastic young lady." uh, sorry. what gives? he can take his triangle scone and stuff it.

17 September 2002

the fasting is over. it ended a few hours early, when i "accidentally" popped a piece of the red pepper i was chopping into my mouth. oh well, i'll add it to the list of things i'll atone for next year. i'm sure i'll remember.

fasting was good. i mean, for one day. when other people do it, it makes me nervous because i don't know what their motivations are and i've known too many people to fast for the wrong reasons. but i like doing it for yom kippur. it made dinner so much better.

and dinner was (all homemade): white bean salad w/basil, red pepper, red onion and feta; noodle kugel; soft boiled egg salad with celery and mayo; fake chopped liver which actually turned out quite well--it tastes like chopped liver (and includes hard boiled eggs, walnuts, lentils, veggie bouillion, salt and pepper); tomato pepper goat cheese salad; challah; nectarine cake; wine; budweiser; jelly bellies; dutch mints.

and, so, for lunch today i'm having leftovers. gosh, i love the food of My Peoples. we really know how to cook up a good meal.

15 September 2002

vomit jelly belly

Yom Kippur started a few hours ago and, with the exception of juice and water (and toothpaste...does that count? i don't know), i'm fasting for the day. i became hungry about ten minutes before the end of services. sadly, my pre-fast day in food was less than stellar. it began on a good note, though, with a fabuluos toasted egg bagel smothered in cream cheese, red onions, cucumbers and tomato. i had a meeting at my house yesterday and being the good jewish-mother-in-training, bought bagels from The Bagel for everyone. such a good jew i am!

bagels are one of those foods that i don't necessarily think about a lot. so every time i have one, i'm pleasantely suprised. the comfort food aspect combined with the fact that the real kind (we're not talking about bruegers, here!) are just so darn good makes bagels, i think, one of the best foods out there. bite into a bagel, and i feel like everything is going to be alright.

but i digress. after my wonderful breakfast, i hopped into the car and drove, with lida and magda to the Jelly Belly Factory in pleasant prairie, wisconsin. i repeat, pleasant prairie, wisconsin--what kind of heavy painkillers were the founders of this town on? we went on the jelly belly express tour through the warehouse where we learned how jelly bellys are made and saw jelly belly portraits of your standard famous folks: reagan, marilyn, lincoln, margaret thatcher (?), etc. included in the history of the jelly belly video was a cheerful little blurb about jelly belly's travelling through space...on the Challenger. uhm, er, ack, The Challenger!?!?! well, i guess one can't expect a factory in a town called Pleasant Prairie to exercise tact...or feel responsible for representing some degree of accuracy in reporting. the tour was a 1/2 hour. we then spent about 1 1/2 hours wandering around the giftshop. highlights included the shrine to ronald reagan who was apparently an early advocate of the jelly belly--the first president to bring jelly belly's to the white house! and the tasting counter which offered Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans, thank you harry potter. i sampled, or at least tried to sample, the following flavors: booger, black pepper, dirt, ear wax, grass, sardine, spinach and vomit. vomit was very realistic. its hard to write about it without getting sick to my stomach. they were all eerily accurate with the exception of ear wax, which i've never actually eaten, but i am assuming doesn't really taste like cinnamon.

vomit. i had to spit it out. and in the process got it on my fingers which smelled of vomit jelly belly for three hours before i could get myself to a sink.given that i tend to hold my hand up to my face as i drive (strange habit, i know), it was a very unpleasant experience.

the bertie bott beans are brilliant, really, in terms of marketing. they are absolutely foul but everybody was trying them. i even bought four small boxes to send to friends (and enemies! wah ha ha ha ha!). i'm paying $2/box for something i know is truly hideous. what's wrong with me?

and on that note, i'm off to bed. to hopefully dream about something other than vomit jelly bellys. or is it bellies?

13 September 2002

for reasons unknown to me, the office coffee has suddenly become too much caffeine for this body to handle. i feel my heart twittering away and its nearly impossible to focus on one task and stay sitting still at my computer. its evil stuff, that caffeine. maybe i should cut myself off. but its so good! and it always seems like such a good idea in the morning. kind of like the mid-afternoon candybar which always seems like it will offer the perfect little sugar rush to get me through the day but always ends up sucking out any remaining energy i may have left in me.

but today's lunch was very tasty leftovers from last night. black beans with mushrooms, red peppers and tomatoes served over rice with a big handful of cheddar cheese. it was one of those dinner-in-fifteen-minutes (not including time spent waiting for rice to cook) successes in which the random combination of ingredients carelessly thrown into a pot managed to come together quite well, never ever to be duplicated.

dessert last night was a handful of chocolate chips, a messy habit that i've picked up from my mom. i mean, why bother with cookies? the cookie dough is just a barrier between me and the chocolate chips! so, i prefer to just go right to the source and try to limit myself to a bag a week. and its much tastier than the milk chocolate slim fast drinks i've been having for breakfast. no, i'm not on a liquid diet (obviously) or trying to lose weight...i'm just exploring ways to trick myself into eating something for breakfast and the liquid diet seemed like the best route. its been working, too. with a 35 minute bike ride to work, i'm parched and the slim fast drinks are readily accessible. so chug-a-lug and i've tricked myself into eating--er, drinking breakfast! so sneaky!

12 September 2002

school lunch. oh. my. gawd.

while i did not have something as tasty as this for lunch, i did treat myself to the remaining forkful of pesto pasta and a sandwich with farmers cheese, red peppers and mushrooms.

last night for dinner, my wonderful friend melissa brought leftovers from andie's restaurant, the mediterranean place in andersonville, to the library. that these were the leftovers from our dinner the previous night took away the element of surprise and it wasn't quite as good one-day-old, but, really, whose complaining. oh, wait, i am. that's because i'm an ungrateful brute. we had hummus, dolme, spinach pie, dill rice, falafel and pita in the little conference room off to the side, far from any books. i love andie's. its the default lunch spot when i eat out with lida and, really, i wish i ate there more often. they bring you this plate of green olives marinated in oil and onion to munch on while waiting for your food. and a pile of hot pita bread. and sometimes, if you're lucky, your server will write her name backwards and upside down on the paper sheet covering your table. just like macaroni grill!

11 September 2002

this is what laura ate at the wedding in maine:

THURSDAY NIGHT (at Fore Street in Portland, ME):
baby salad greens
quebec moulard foie gras with butter-stewed Bowdoinham peaches
wood roasted mussels with garlic almond butter (these were the best
mussels i have ever eaten)
marinated foggy ridge farm rabbit
(bite of jeff's) wild pacific king salmon with braised filet beans and
apple-smoked bacon
(bite of siobhan's) lamb chop and smoked shoulder
warm blueberry upside-down cake with lemon verbena ice cream (i will be
talking about this dish for years)
warm chocolate souffle with gianduja ice cream on toasted hazelnuts

bagel from dunkin donuts

1/2 roast beef sandwich from Penobscot Provisions with local horseradish
and local goat cheese (the best roast beef sandwich i have ever had)

scallop seviche
local goat and blue cheeses (and when i say local, i mean the goats that
live on liza's parents' property)
roasted clams

1 lobster
2 bites coleslaw
baked beans
corn bread
warm blueberry cobbler

bacon with maple syrup
coffee cake
home fries

ham sandwich on a croissant

cod fritters with remoulade or guacamole
mini crab cakes
cherry tomatoes stuffed with olives and rosemary
more goat cheese

baby greens salad with goat cheese
lobster casserole
roast beef so tender you did not need a knife to cut it
underdone chicken which i did not eat
roasted baby vegetables including some very satiny little beets
something else i do not remember, maybe some potatoes?
wedding cake: each table got a cake, liza's friend caroline cut it into 8ths
so we each got 1/8 of the cake which of course i ate all of, it was vanilla
cake with maple cream frosting made by the lesbian baker couple that made
julia child's 90th birthday cake

SuperMeat (tm) quiche
salad with awesome asian dressing
pulled pork
some kind of halibut
some kind of turkey with lemony potato stuff
creme brulee
chocolate mousse

burger king whopper
diet coke

time for retirement
today was the last time (at least for a bit) that my father and i will eat at printers row. while the waitstaff is friendly and has, oddly, begun to recognize us, the food continues to be a disappointment, at least for those of us who prefer to stick to a vegetarian diet. i started with the tortilla soup sans chicken, remembering to stay away from the cold cucumber dill soup i couldn't stomach last time. the tortilla soup, like the cucumber soup, was overspiced and salty. the broth, in fact, had little flavor going for it besides the spiciness and saltiness of it. for my entree i had the artichoke salad and a side of fries. the artichoke salad was totally overpowered by rosemary...it tasted more like turkey stuffing than anything else. the fries were drenched in oil. ick. no more.

sadly, if one is in the mood for a slightly more upscale lunch where, say, there are more vegetarian options than the house salad hold the bacon bits, there aren't so many options in the west loop. we went to prairie but the 1980s pop muzak they played ruined my appetite...i still suspect it was the cruel joke of an employee at her last day of work. taste of siam is good, but one can only eat lard nar so many days in a row. next week i'm going to make the trek to lake ave. for diner-style indian food with bollywood music playing on the t.v.

10 September 2002

i strongly advocate drinking while on the job (assuming you don't drive or operate heavy machinery, that is). we just had an office party in celebration of the completion of the first step of a project and actually had real live alcoholic champagne! wow! the 1/4 cup of champagne that i consumed gave me just the (probably psychosomatic) zing i needed to make it through the next hour of work. or maybe it was the sugar in the chocolate ice cream. or the caffeine in the coffee. or just the fact that i got to stop working and make idle and vaguely awkward chitchat with coworkers and volunteers. anyways, now i'm back at my desk and, well, not doing work at all. switching back and forth between blogging and im-ing. that's so embarrassing!

in other news, i offered my apartment up for a meeting of grown-up-types. talk about anxiety producing. in an apartment walk-through last night, i determined that while it is a reasonably 'adult' apartment, the food i serve will make or break meeting-goers' impressions of me. serve sophisticated food and no one will notice the faded and torn tapestry hanging over the t.v., the ragtag collection of furniture, and the sparse rental-white walls. maybe caviar would do it?

i have never been a breakfast person. even as far back as fourth grade, i have memories of trying to sneak off to school before my mom could shove an apple or carnation breakfast bar (ew!) into my hand. but i appreciate the value of breakfast and since i bike to work almost every day, it seems like eating a little something first thing in the morning would probably be a good thing. and so, today i did something i am very conflicted about...i bought slim fast chocolate drink. see, i'm not on a diet but it just seems like such an easy way to at least eat something in the morning! solids are a little too much for me, but i can do liquids. but i have to say that it was embarrassing to take the big box of slimfast onto the el. like everyone, seeing the box, would automatically assess whether or not i should be on a diet, how much i should lose, etc. it's all very anxiety-producing. and in buying the stuff i am supporting the diet industry which is, like, totally evil incarnate! they'll probably use that $7.31 to help pay for an advertisement that makes women feel fat and guilty for wearing a, gasp!, size 8! ack!

09 September 2002

l'shana tova!
this weekend was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year (5763 babeeee!) and, in celebration i ate lots of really good food. dinner at my folks' house was brisket, kugel, asparagus, salad, challah and my contribution, a fantastic plum cake. while i normally consider myself to be a vegetarian (excluding an occasional sushi dinner), i feel that it is my obligation as a jew to eat brisket. oh yes, i may not be popping out kids in order to increase the jewish population, but, dangnabbit, i'll do all i can to preserve jewish culinary tradition and if that means that i have to sacrifice my own dietary regulations and eat brisket, then SO BE IT! you see, its not about what you get from the community but what you can give back to it. sniff. it brings a tear to my eye.

05 September 2002

bad food, good company.
last night i had heart healthy or hearth happy or something like that whole wheat pasta. while, i can appreciate healthy whole foods as much as the next young slightly pre-professional type, there are some things that just shouldn't be and whole wheat pasta is one of them. not only does it have the consistency of normal pasta mixed with sand but due to its granularity, it's difficult to tell when the stuff is ready which leads to almost guaranteed overcooking. and who wants mushy crunchy pasta? not me! so i say DOWN with the whole wheat pasta! call me a traditionalist, call me rigid, but gosh i just really like my pasta the old-fashioned way.

04 September 2002

last night i had dinner at Caminos De Michoacan: two veggie gorditas and enough tortilla chips to fill a semi. only one hiccuping incident brought on by too much spicy salsa. dessert was ice cream while watching some brilliantly painful love ballads on American Idol. tonight's the night. who ever will win? kelly obviously has a better voice, but justin apparently has 'it,' whatever that is. i'm so embarrassed that i can talk about this with some level of authority.

03 September 2002

having worked for two entire months as the egg cook at a breakfast place in atlanta, i jump at the opportunity to make omelettes. i'm actually quite good at it. so this past sunday i invited jen and tom over for brunch and headed over to the store to buy omelette fillings. four cheeses, a zucchini, a pepper, tomato, mushrooms, an onion, a head of garlic and a bunch of parsley later, we were sitting in my sun room, recently converted into a dining area, enjoying omelettes and berries. quite pleasant, really.

and i got to break in my heat-safe spatula which was quite the thrill. it is truly a thing of beauty. with barb's nonstick saute pan, i'm in omelette heaven. and even thought i'm out of practice, i successfully flipped all three omelettes without a single drop of spilled egg.

food the rest of the weekend was a bit scattered: a yogurt here, a cup of soup there. disjointed, which is, i guess, the nature of eating in hot weather. its too hot to eat a big meal and as a result i'm hungry about an hour after every meal so i'm constantly eating small portions all day long. well, small for me.

lunch today was a pb&j sandwich and a farmers cheese, tomato and cilantro sandwich. with, as karen says, "cilantro as a vegetable" it was good. it didn't do anything to lift my energy which is dragging along.