Wednesday, May 30, 2012

This Isn't a Real Post

Well, I suppose technically it is, but it probably isn't going to say anything of value so feel free to move on if you aren't in the mood for my stream of consciousness musings...  I know.  Let's make a list.  Lists are fun.

So what's new?

  • I'm doing a wedding reception for approximately 50 on Saturday evening.  It is being served outside and I'm praying it isn't a hundred million degrees.  I need to finish the shopping lists and get that accomplished tomorrow because Friday and Saturday we will be cooking All Day Long.  Thank God I have help for this one. 
  • I got my first real paycheck from one of the freelance writing gigs I've been doing.  I might have screamed, "HOW FUN IS THAT?" when I got the PayPal alert.  I still can't get over the the fact that someone will pay me actual money to spew my nonsense.  That's ridiculous.
  • On a related note, apparently I am very good at something called "Sentence Spinning" which is totally ironic because until three days ago I had never even heard of it.  In fact, they want me to write a piece on how to do it for the other contributors.   
  • I'm supposed to be writing an article right now ((like literally right now)) on financial planning and consulting which is pretty hilarious.  I don't think the advice should be "keep cash in a safety deposit box and forget you have said box for three years until you go to close it."  I don't think this will be my best or most informative work.   
  • I think I just accidentally had salt and vinegar chips for dinner. 
  • I have clicked through the photos of Bethenny's 5 million dollar apartment in NYC about a thousand and seventy-two times.  I think I have found my version of pornography: home decor in general and closets/dressing suites in particular.  Holy shit.  
  • Oh and I'm working on a book proposal...   
I told you this was useless reading.  Oh well.  Time to get back at it.  It's going to be a late night...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cauliflower Mashed "Potatoes", Immersion Blenders, and Apropos of Nothing

Some days just call for mashed potatoes.  However, most days do not call for the calorie bomb that is mashed potatoes.  I had come across bloggers talking about using cauliflower as a substitute and was, frankly, really damn skeptical.  However.  However, however, however. This works.  I almost think you could fake someone out entirely with this recipe.

Mock Mashed Taters, Real Butter

I started with The Food Network's recipe for "Mock Garlic Mashed Potatoes" but then decided to make some modifications. 

What you need to serve 4-6:

1 medium-sized head of cauliflower, washed and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon cream cheese
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper
1 tablespoon of butter

What to do:

In a large stock pot, boil the cauliflower, in pieces, for 6 minutes.  Remove to a strainer and drain as best as you can. ((TFN says you actually "dry" it by like wiping it down or something, but then says to add back in some broth.  Cut out the middle-man.  Don't dry it.  Eff that.))

Put the cauliflower into a large bowl and add the cream cheese, garlic, and parmesan.  Using an immersion blender* ((or a food processor if you don't have an immersion blender)), whip it together thoroughly until it is a creamy consistency.  Add salt and pepper to taste and then top with a pat of butter.  Maybe two.

*Immersion blenders are cool.  You should have one.  WTF is an immersion blender?  It is a hand-held wand thingy with blending attachments that you can put right into the bowl, pot, or whatever to blend things.  They come in useful for soups, mashed potatoes, fake mashed potatoes, blended drinks, and a bunch of other stuff.  There are pictures at the bottom...

The consistency of this is a LOT like mashed potatoes and honestly, it doesn't taste like cauliflower.  Give it a shot.  Don't tell your husband/kids what you are up to and see if they figure it out.  ((You can always break them in by using more cream cheese or butter.  Butter makes everything better.))  IF you follow the directions above, the entire bowl has only 500 calories.  Leave off the butter and you can save some more.  


And now, apropos of nothing, here is a picture from my yard.

I have not retouched the color on this or increased the contrast or saturation...  There are about 50 of these puppies blooming right now. 

All right.  I have more writing to do tonight and tomorrow is going to be kind of brutal so we can chat more later.  Happy Short Work Week!


Monday, May 28, 2012

Sauteed Fiddlehead Ferns with Brussel Sprouts, Maryland Drivers, and an Intervention

This is a special guest post from the one and only Jessica!  Jess has a slight cooking and baking addiction, a resume that will stop traffic, and abandoned me for the East Coast this year.  Sigh.  I conned her into telling us about when she created a scene in a Farmers' Market over Fiddlehead Ferns.  Hmmm.  Who does that sound like?  No wonder we are friends!  

I need help…  I don’t  know if I can be helped…

I’m a foodie.  I’ve been a foodie ever since I can remember.  Growing up I would eat anything and everything; if it was put in front of me, I ate it.  In college, my budget was so strict that I taught myself how to cook and I learned that I love to cook.  However, my passion did not turn into obsession until I met Ms. Cooking is Alchemy (Ms. CiA is my nickname for her, tee hee.)  One day when I was complaining about how expensive fresh fruit and veggies are in the grocery she introduced me to Bountiful Baskets and hence an obsession was born.

In January 2012, on a whim, I moved to Maryland (who moves 2,500 miles away on a whim?  I do, that’s who).  January in Maryland is so grey, bland, and blah.  Not only was I missing my friends and family but I was missing Bountiful Baskets and Fresh & Easy.  In a fit of desperation, I searched for farmers' markets.  I thought that farmers' markets would not be open because it’s January, but I was wrong!  

That was when I was introduced to the 32nd Street Farmers Market in the Waverly neighborhood in Baltimore and all my sensibilities disappeared.  Every other Saturday I go South on I-95 to Baltimore (by the way, I have come to the conclusion that Marylanders really don’t know how to drive.  There is a major car accident on I-95 every week and when I say major, I mean *cars flipped over and on fire* major.  Every – Single - Week. But I digress, Ms. CiA and I tend to do that.  You should be in the same room with us when we are having a conversation…I don’t think a story’s ever been finished) and the 32nd Street Farmers' Market armed with cash, my reusable bags, a list, and my mantra “only buy what’s on the list.”  The list, the damn list never does its job; the damn list is never good enough.  As soon as I step within the border of the farmers' market, I turn into Head Monster Gatherer and I go crazy! Strawberries! Tomatoes! Grapes! Rhubarb! It’s all there and I can’t help myself.  I get into a zone that I can’t control and I have to visit every last booth!  Today I bought a bunch of celery. CELERY!  I don’t even like Celery and, to make matters worse, I don’t remember buying it!  IT’S NOT EVEN SOUP SEASON!  I told you, I need help

Fiddlehead Ferns.  See? Aren't these so cute?  Looks like something Fern Gully would eat!

With my cash dwindling, I remembered that I had to buy almonds.  As I stepped away from the main part of the farmers' market, I ran into a tiny booth specializing in fungi.  My curiosity snapped me out of my gatherer zone and I stood there and spoke with the woman about the different mushrooms she had.  That’s when my eye caught the box of Fiddlehead Ferns and excitedly remarked- ok yelled- “THOSE ARE FIDDLEHEAD FERNS!”  The woman laughed and small group gathered to see what I was so excited about.  Fiddlehead Ferns are very rare, found in the wild in Vermont, and have a very short season (3 weeks in May!)  Awhile ago, I was introduced to Fiddlehead Ferns on Pinterest and I repinned never really believing that I would ever come across Fiddlehead Ferns.  Since they look so intriguing, I couldn’t walk away without them, so I bought some ($5 for 1 oz!).  I naturally posted my excitement of finding Fiddlehead Ferns on Facebook (haha “finding Fiddlehead Ferns on Facebook” say that five times fast!) and Ms. CiA asked me to write a guest post.  So, here you go.  My first guest post ever! Since I only bought one ounce, I’ve decided to sauté them with the two handfuls of Brussel Sprouts I grabbed as well.

Don't turn your nose up!  Brussel Sprouts are good and good for you!

Sauteed Fiddle Ferns and Brussel Sprouts

(I don’t use measurements so these measurements are approximate and I do all my cooking by “instinct” so times are approximate as well)
1 oz Fiddle Ferns
2 handfuls of Brussel Sprouts
2 Garlic Cloves, minced (I love garlic so I add more)
1 small onion, chopped
Olive oil – about 2 circles around the pan
½ cup of water
Salt and Pepper
Half a lemon (use the other half for a brown sugar whisky sour!)

1.      First, you need to clean the Fiddlehead Ferns under warm water and snip off any black spots.  Be sure to handle them with care as they are a bit tender.  Clean the Brussel Sprouts and cut off the bottoms.
2.     Put the Fiddlehead Ferns and Brussel Sprouts with ½ cup water in a sautee pan fitted with a lid.  Cover and steam over medium heat until slightly soft.  Feel free to shake the pan every so often (not too hard, remember, the ferns are tender.)  Steam for about 5 minutes.
3.     Remove from sauté pan and drain sauté pan of the water.
4.     Put sauté pan back on the heat and add extra virgin olive oil.  Once the olive oil is hot (not smoking) add your garlic and onions (don’t forget to stand there and smell the blissful scent of garlic sautéing in olive oil.) 
5.     Once the garlic and onions are soft, add the Brussel Sprouts. Sauté Brussel Sprouts until you can pierce with a fork (I like my Brussel Sprouts super soft so I sautéed these for a good ten minutes, at least.)
6.     Add the Fiddlehead Ferns and stir with Brussel Sprouts.
7.     Once the Fiddlehead Ferns and Brussel Sprouts are done, squeeze in lemon juice from the half a lemon, take off heat and stir up.
8.     Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
9.     Serve and enjoy!

The Puerto Rican Papi, one of the pickiest eaters I know, said that they tasted like sautéed spinach and he actually liked them!  I enjoyed them as well, they are crispy and bright.  They are pretty filling with the Brussel Sprouts and I will definitely make them again next May!

Mmmmmm, yummy!

Jules here...  Thanks Jess!  Those look super good but frankly I think you should have delivered a sample to Arizona.  Oh well, next time.  

Side note:  If anyone makes anything fun or different or creates any scenes in any markets, we all want to hear about it!  Either leave a comment or email me at and I will get back to you!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Grilled Artichokes, Herbed Lemon Aioli Dipping Sauce, and The Most Random Week Ever

Is everyone enjoying their long weekend?  You better be.  It's a beautiful day here in sunny Arizona... mid 80's.  We always hang on tight to these last few days before the constant streak of triple-digit days hits.  I've been here for over ten years now.  At this point, I'm fine up to 108 degrees.  It really doesn't bother me and it's not unusual to find a lot of us wearing jeans or full black suits in that weather.  But let me tell you, when you walk outside at midnight and it is still 102?  That's just effed up.  True story.

On our theme of hot weather meals, let's do an appetizer.  Grilled artichokes with a lemony garlicky dipping sauce.    If you have never handled a fresh artichoke before, it can be a little scary.  It's thorny, it has something they actually call a "choke" in it because it will attempt to choke you to death, and it just looks kind of weird.  BUT.  Don't be afraid.  It's actually pretty easy.

Grilled artichoke hearts
Prepping an artichoke:

Put about two inches worth of water on to boil.

Using a very sharp knife, cut off the top two inches of the artichoke, where it comes to a point.  Then, using a scissors, go around the outside of the artichoke and snip off the very ends of the leaves to remove the sharp pointy part.

Throw the artichoke in the boiling water and let it steam for 15 minutes to get it softened up.

Now we will put together the dipping sauce...

What you need for the dip:

2 tablespoons of mayo
2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 big squeeze of lemon
1 teaspoon of so of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the above together in a small bowl and store in the refrigerator while we finish up.

Mayo, dijon, garlic, lemon, and fresh thyme

Right now.  Yes, NOW.  Go turn on the grill.

When the 15 minutes is up on the steaming, very carefully remove the artichoke to a cutting board.  Let it cool down for a couple of minutes or you can be impatient like I am and use a dishtowel to hold onto it for the next part.

In a bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon and set aside.

Using a large knife, cut the artichoke in half, length-wise.  When you open it up, you will see this weird shit inside that looks kind of like hair or very fine straw.  YOU GOTTA GET RID OF THAT CRAP. Using a spoon, start scooping it out and throwing it away.  You need to get all of the "hair," which is actually called the "choke" out of there.  Scrape against the bottom of the artichoke pretty firmly to get it all and then curse when it goes flying across the room.  You can also scrape out the little tiny interior leaves that are attached to it at the same time.  You are done when it looks hollowed out and there is no more "hairy shit" inside it.

Brush the artichoke on all sides with the olive oil and lemon juice mixture.  Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Time to grill.  Finally.  Put the artichoke on a medium heat grill, cut side UP, for ten minutes.  Flip the halves over and grill another 5 minutes.


Serve with your dip as a light appetizer.  I'd say one artichoke probably serves about 2 people depending on the size.  

Nutritional Info:  The artichoke is practically a freebie.  The entire quantity of the dip is about 300 calories and this makes enough dip for 4 artichokes.


The over-arching list of what I have to do this week looks like it belongs to a schizophrenic.  Everything from handling a hearing in a homicide case to making meatballs for Good Doggy Gourmet to doing a wedding reception for 50 to Gaga only knows what.  It should be an interesting week!

By the way, not to self-promote too much... But if you are in need of a good knife or knife set, you can help your pal Jules out by ordering off my website.  Pretty please?