Posts tagged ‘Cooking’

Die, Pea Puree Thievin’ Bastard, Die!

Back to Top Chef, Season 7.

First, they eliminated Kenny. That cut down on the drama quotient. No more Angelo-Kenny rivalry. He did deserve to go home, though. At every challenge, Kenny made two versions of something, and the two versions each had umpteen billion ingredients that frequently did not go together. I don’t want to imagine what his food must have tasted like.

In the same episode where “they killed Kenny,” (Yes, the Southpark reference is not lost on me) there was a lot of controversy surrounding an English pea puree. This is creative editing, folks. Ed made a pea puree for his dish and then couldn’t find it anywhere. Coincidentally, at the same time, Alex decided to use a pea puree with his dish, at the last minute. The fact that we didn’t see Alex actually make a pea puree, but we did see Ed make one and then spend a lot of time frantically searching the kitchen for it, made it look like Alex stole his pea puree from Ed.

Tom Colicchio’s blog on Bravo’s official website for Top Chef makes it clear that they did question the contestants afterward and were able to determine that Alex did blanch some peas the night before. What happened to Ed’s pea puree is still a mystery in the same league as the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. But supposedly, because some people witnessed Alex blanching peas the night before, he’s innocent. Yeah, right.

Alex survived that round. Alex is difficult to like. He’s confrontational. He doesn’t seem to be a very good cook. He told us in one episode that if he won the money from a challenge he was going to buy a steak and a Vegas hooker. Huh? Do you know you’re on national television? And to top it all off, Alex looks like a weasel. What does he look like? He literally looks like a weasel. I almost disliked him on par with my hatred of the Sherry Chicken Bitch.

Finally, they did vote him off in the episode where they cooked for the CIA. This actually was pretty creative and entertaining. The contestants had to cook classic dishes and disguise them to look like something else. Pretty cool!

Angelo had Beef Wellington, so what does he do? Why, of course, he raids the frozen food section of Whole Foods for already made puff pastry dough, because that was so successful for that dreadlocked freak John. He deserved to go home, but they sent Alex home instead. That’s because Alex’s food was so inedible that they had to overlook Angelo’s cheating with the puff pastry. I did not cry to see Alex go.

Then, finally, in the next episode, what I’ve been waiting for happened. Oh, happy day! They voted off Sherry Chicken Bitch. The challenge was to make concession food for a professional baseball game. So, Amanda decides to make tuna tartare. Because when I think ballpark, I think raw fish. Don’t you?

She prepares it the night before, and she asks Angelo for help in preparing it properly. This is a fatal mistake. Even after seeing Angelo purposely sabotage other contestants that he’s actually buddied up to, Amanda thinks that if SHE asks Angelo for help, that he’ll naturally help her. Bitch, you aren’t that pretty.

What happens next is predictably gross. Amanda’s tuna tartare oxidizes and turns gray. She serves it without making any changes. It’s a wonder no one got ill. Then she gets booted off the chef train. Take your knives and go home.

I will continue watching Top Chef, but it won’t be any fun anymore. They’ve eliminated everyone I hate.

September 2, 2010 at 3:47 pm Leave a comment

Cooking School: A Feminist Is Born

The Helping Hand in a Hamburger Helper commercial

Image via Wikipedia

When I was in middle school my mom was in nursing school and for part of that time she had a practicum which required her to drive to another town. The other town was far enough away that she was going to stay in a dorm during most of the week and come back on the weekends. On the weekends she had a job at a nursing home as a nurse’s aide so no one could accuse my mom of not working hard.

This is how I learned to cook, if you can call it that. Up to that time, when I was probably thirteen years old, my mom would never let me in the kitchen. She didn’t want me underfoot and claimed that I made a mess and it made meal preparation take twice as long to let me help. That, and she was always afraid that I would hurt myself on a stove burner or with a knife.

My grandmother was not like that and loved taking me under her wing and letting me help her bake when I was growing up. But then that is how grandmothers are. How I miss my grandma!

So, when it became a necessity in my mother’s estimation for me to have a crash course in cooking, I learned how to cook only the stuff that was the cheapest stuff to prepare, stuff we could afford. I learned to make macaroni and cheese, with powdered milk, no less. I learned to make hamburgers and hot dogs (Yes, I had to “learn” how to boil water) and spaghetti and Hamburger Helper. I think that was my entire culinary repertoire. I taught myself how to make omelettes by that time, but I don’t think we would have had them for dinner.

One day, and I don’t remember if it was at first, when my mom was teaching me this stuff or if it was later (I suspect later, probably as I was doing dishes, because at first I would thrill to finally have kitchen privileges), it occurred to me how unfair it was that my dad, who was the other adult in the home, was not assigned kitchen duties. Why did I have to cook and clean because I was born with an extra X chromosome? Didn’t it make more sense for my dad to take on that responsibility?

My dad practically bragged about his helplessness in the kitchen. He knew how to cook exactly two things: steak and popcorn. We couldn’t afford steak, so my mom was probably concerned that we were likely to die from The Popcorn Diet. We probably would have, too. My dad’s idea of cooking even now is making Cream of Wheat in the microwave. And forget cleaning or doing dishes. I have never seen him do either of those two things. Mow the lawn, yes. Take out the trash, yes. Fix the toilet, yes. On the rare occasion, do the laundry. But forget cooking, cleaning or doing the dishes. That was woman’s work.

Now I’m not sure where that attitude came from, because my dad was actually something of a feminist and was the one who convinced my mom to go to school to become an EMT and then a nurse, because that was her dream. He encouraged her to pursue a career. He always told me I could be anything I wanted to be, well, as long as it was something he approved of. Namely, the list of occupations covered virtually anything but an actress, stripper or prostitute; somehow, they all got lumped in together. Sadly, when I was in high school I wanted to be an actress.

The thing is that my dad’s attitude was pretty much the attitude of most men at the time. I could say that it was because he was older than the dads of most of my contemporaries, but that wouldn’t be true. If you pull the covers and articles of popular women’s magazines of the time, I think you’ll find that a ton of them are about being a Supermom and having it all, work and life balance, something that’s still a topic that concerns women.

Anyway, I was already a kid that was overly preoccupied with issues of fairness and equality. Injustice bothered me so personally as a child, and I was partially raised in the time of Alan Alda and granola. When the backlash of the eighties occurred and feminism was somehow something that was now passé or the overreaction of women judged as strident harpies, bitter spinsters or butch dykes, I wondered what happened.

Why did we stop at the vote and the right to work? Why was it okay for us to have to work outside the home and then come home to a second job as a housewife, vacuuming in pearls? Why is it that the Equal Rights Amendment was proposed in 1972, and it is now the year 2010, and it still hasn’t passed? Why have we still not had a woman president? And why was I seemingly in the marginal minority that this bothered me?

No one else finds it strange that we have to give up our names to our husbands? Well, we don’t have to, of course, but you try finding a man who agrees with you that that’s unfair.

Every guy I knew would roll his eyes and say, “Well, when you’re married you become a family, you take on one name.”

And I would say, “I know. I got no problem with that. Why not my name?”

This usually got the response of rolled eyes. Sometimes, instead, they would look at me like, “What planet did you get beamed from? Can they send you back?”

I remember thinking when I was thirteen and cooking for my father and my brother, that if this was what marriage was all about that maybe I didn’t want to be married so badly. It seemed like a pretty raw deal for the woman. I thought, “What do I get out of this? Indentured servitude? No, thanks.”

This was, coincidentally, at the same time when I was in constant conflict with my mother, and so I would say the f word at every chance I got because I knew it irritated her. Her response, inevitably, was, “That’s so unladylike.”

And that infuriated me to no end. Unladylike? So, if my brother says it, that’s okay? What if I don’t want to be a lady? No, sirree. I am no lady. I’m a woman instead.

August 30, 2010 at 5:53 pm 1 comment

Food Glorious Food

Vintage neon Dairy Queen sign, Ottawa, Canada.

Image via Wikipedia

I like food a lot. It doesn’t have to be fattening food, although I like that, too. It doesn’t have to be fancy or exotic. But I like some fancy pate and caviar when I get the opportunity to enjoy them. I just like food, and there isn’t much about food that I don’t like. Bananas. Mayonaise. That’s about it. I like spicy and bland, sweet and savory, bitter, sour, tart and salty. I don’t like them all together at once, though, which is probably why I also don’t like Pulparindo, a Mexican candy that is like a tamarind fruit rollup with jalapeno, covered in a thick layer of salt.

Some of my favorite foods as a kid were milk and any milk products. I could drink glass after glass of milk. It was cold and sweet and good. We didn’t really eat yogurt much when I was a kid. That didn’t come into vogue until I was older. We ate a lot of cottage cheese. My mom used to pair it with canned peaches or sliced fresh tomatoes or sometimes mandarin oranges. I liked the tomatoes best. Canned peaches are too sweet.

I loved ice cream like any kid. I liked vanilla with chocolate sauce or chocolate ice cream. Sometimes we had butter pecan or butter brickle, and I liked that, too, but they weren’t my favorite flavors because they were, again, too sweet. My favorite ice cream flavor by far was Braum’s peppermint ice cream. It was so good, especially in the summertime. We would stop at Blackwell, Oklahoma on our way to Texas for summer vacation, check into a motel and the whole family would eat peppermint ice cream for dinner, right out of the half-gallon container.

I liked novelties like Push-Ups and Drumstick, Fudgsicles and something we called frosticks. Frosticks were just chocolate covered ice cream bars in the shape of a Popsicle. They were probably actually marketed at one point in time as frost sticks, but in my house it was one word. My favorite was the Dilly Bar. A lot of people wouldn’t know what this is now, but they’re still in existence. You can drive to your local Dairy Queen and get a box. When I was a kid you used to buy them individually, and they actually made them in the store. They were a little patty of soft serve vanilla ice cream with the patented DQ curley-que. A Dairy Queen worker would then stick a Popsicle stick in the ice cream patty and dip the ice cream in the same chocolate used for the dipped cones. They would pop it in the freezer, and that was a Dilly Bar.

Other favorite foods when I was a kid were virtually anything my Grandma made. She was just great in the kitchen. She made fried chicken that was still better than any I’ve ever tasted in a restaurant. I can’t make it. I tried it once. I just made a mess and almost gave myself salmonella. My grandma used to make fried chicken using just chicken pieces, flour and salt for batter, and vegetable oil (probably corn oil). She would fry the skins and turn them until they were brown and crispy, but the inside wouldn’t be cooked yet, so she’d close the lid and simmer it on low heat until the chicken was cooked all the way through. The skin wasn’t as crispy this way, but it was still good. I used to eat an entire drumstick in about thirty seconds.

The perfection of my grandma’s homemade noodles was not to be believed. She’d make homemade noodles from scratch and then cook them with a beef roast or a whole chicken in a pot. My mom can do this almost as well as my grandma. I was inspired to try since my grandma passed away, and on the second try it was passable, but I still missed my grandma something fierce.

I loved fruits and vegetables. We ate a lot of them. Sweet corn was my favorite. I preferred it off the cob, since it got stuck in your teeth if you had them, and if you were losing them at the time, eating corn on the cob was just plain painful. I liked oranges. They were my favorite fruit. I also liked tangerines and apples and watermelon, grapes, plums and nectarines. I didn’t care for fresh peaches because of the fuzz. I also liked green beans and cauliflower and peas and carrots. Cucumbers and onions in apple cider vinegar are a fond memory. I didn’t like onions when I was a kid, but I would eat them that way. And green olives. Mmmm.

That’s enough of food for now. Maybe I’ll write a follow up some day. For now, I need to go eat lunch with Katina. We are going to eat at Taco More. Maybe there will be a whole description of our meal for my next entry.

June 24, 2009 at 12:54 am 1 comment

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