Archive | May, 2013

Three on Thursday: Random Nuggets

30 May

Because I’ve been pressed for time, there’s no cohesive post to serve up, so I’ll invoke the “Three on Thursday” theme and just share three completely random things with you.

Image Source: http://www.foodfash.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/IMG_5810.jpgItem #1

Alan and I swung in Trader Joe’s to pick up some items for dinner. To save time, we decided to divide and conquer: I scouted the wine; he was in charge of meat/grains/veggies. (Yes, I totally realize I won that coin toss.)

After executing my half of the task, I started walking the aisles, looking to intercept him before checkout. I found him reading a package. He flipped it around to show it to me with a questioning look. I squinted. “Why are you looking at BIRDSEED?” I asked, thoroughly confused.

He did a double-take to see if I was joking. I was not. Then he laughed. “This is quinoa.”

Oh. Somehow, even though I cook a lot and have eaten quinoa from the Whole Foods buffet bar, I have never actually prepared it. I hadn’t realized it looked like bird seed. That explains a LOT. Like why I find myself instinctively ingesting pebbles after a big plate of quinoa.

I can answer at least one of these questions for her.

I can answer at least one of these questions for her.

Item #2

As it turns out, humans are pretty decent conductors. I don’t mean train conductors  – hello, have you even looked at a newspaper this month? – but rather, conductors of electricity.

I know this because last week I kind of electrocuted myself. My AC was on the fritz, so at 6pm on Friday I found myself standing on a plastic storage bin on top of a table so I could see into space above my ceiling where my AC unit lives. I quickly found the source of the problem – the condensation tray had water pooling in it, which had tripped the reset button for the unit.

The first time I checked things out, I did the prudent thing and climbed down, flipped the breaker, then went back up on the table. But the second time? When I thought I’d solved the problem and mopped up the water? I did a quick final check with the power on to make sure all was good.

And when I grabbed the hockey-puck like water sensor, a volt ran up my arm as far as my shoulder, causing a phantom tingle that lasted for an hour. (I would like to point out that I did NOT get blown off the table I was standing on, so it probably wasn’t really that bad. I mean, it wasn’t one of these scenarios. Just a bit tingly. In other words, I don’t need a lecture, Mom and Dad.)

In other news: Time to buy a ladder!

Item #3

I attended a videocast earlier this week. It was a pretty basic set-up, where a moderator and her guest were seated side-by-side at a table. The guest was some guy who has written a book about social media marketing.

He started the talk by providing a four-minute synopsis of the book. It was mesmerizing. Not because of anything he said (I couldn’t even tell you one concept from his book that made an impression on me), but because of how he said it. He smiled the entire time he spoke.

As I sat there, transfixed, I realized: People who smile-talk? Generally look like they’re silently filling a Depends while conversing. Seriously.

Sure, there are exceptions. They’re called “news anchors.” But the rest of us, whose worlds don’t revolve around teleprompters, should probably ditch the smile when delivering. Also? In looking for an image for this post, I googled “awkwardly smiling while talking” and it took me to this eHow article.

Seriously? Someone took the time to write that?

Nice save, New York!

25 May

I was in New York this week to launch a new website at Internet Week. Except the website doesn’t exactly exist yet, so I guess I was just in New York.

Meanwhile, Alan was taking a week’s vacation in Michigan to celebrate his birthday. And I would’ve been with him, celebrating and vacationing, had I not been launching a non-existent website in New York.

Does that make any sense? No, it doesn’t.

Which is why I was a bit of a sourpuss when I boarded the train on Sunday for New York.

Alas, great city that she is, New York was prepared to provide some redemption.

I’ll admit, it didn’t seem that way at first – when I stepped out of Penn Station, there was a steady drizzle. I was soaked by the time I arrived at my hotel in Chelsea. After helping set up our space at the event, I had a list of things I wanted to do that afternoon (a “Me Party” of sorts, as my sister calls it) to treat myself to a mini-break before diving back into work.

On my list:

  • Check out the Highline
  • Walk up to the Green Flea Market
  • Scout out the new food hall at the Plaza
  • Hit the TKTS booth and snag a seat at a show that evening

All of that was scrapped when I realized I was not only drenched, but didn’t have proper clothes for zipping around a wet city. I contemplated crawling in bed and indulging in a pity party, but instead, I texted my old roommate, David, from Capitol Hill, whom I hadn’t seen in four years and who lives in Manhattan.

Lady Fortune was with me, because he promptly wrote back and offered to meet at a restaurant near my hotel. An hour later, we were hugging at Markt, David appearing to have come straight from a duck hunt: he was wearing jeans, Wellies, a button down shirt and a quilted vest. It was very Dick Cheney. And he’s one of my few friends who would consider that a compliment.

We parked ourselves at the bar, ordered a bottle of wine, some mussels and a crock of French onion soup, and shrugged off the rain.

As we neared the end of our meal, David looked past me and said, “I think that is Chef Todd English sitting next to you.”

Interestingly, that name would have meant nothing to me only four hours earlier, but in researching restaurants in NYC, I’d noted that Todd English was something of a celebrity.

“No way,” I told David. “I can’t believe you would recognize a CHEF. Who does that?” (Actually, Alan would also do that because he watches the Food Network, but I don’t have a television, so I’m a bit clueless.)

“I’m pretty sure,” he said, doing a Google image search on his phone. “Doesn’t he look like Chef Todd English?”

I verified that the photo looked like the guy next to me, nodding. Then said, “You keep saying his name like it’s officially three words: Chef Todd English. Just call him Chef. Or Todd. Or Chef English. But not all three. Right?”

David shot virtual daggers at me, leaning forward with an eyebrow raised to say, “Chef Todd English?”

Which prompted the guy next to me to look up and say, “That’s me.”

Which prompted me to say, “Oh my gosh. I didn’t even know who you were until a few hours ago.”

Which is a discreet way to say, “Please don’t even begin to pretend you’re the shit.”

Mr. English didn’t seem to know what to make of being both recognized for and denied his celebrity status simultaneously. But I’ve never let an opportunity go to waste, so I decided it was a good time to interview him.

Even though I knew nothing other than that he was the brain behind the Plaza’s Food Hall I’d intended to visit, I rambled off a series of questions.

Here’s a loose one-way transcript of the wine-fueled interview:

I would imagine being a chef is weird, like being an author.

People know your work and respect you, but you’re not easily recognized so you don’t have to mess with the trappings of celebrity.

Do you find that to be true?

<Answer that you can probably find on Wikipedia>

 

Do you like it?

<Answer that you can probably find on Wikipedia>

 

How would you change things if you could in this regard?

<Answer that you can probably find on Wikipedia>

 

Clearly we just recognized you.

Does that irritate you when you’re just trying to have a beer?

<Don’t need to look at Wikipedia to find the answer>

 

Wait – why are you just sitting here drinking a beer?

<Probably NOT available on Wikipedia>

 

You’re waiting on your girlfriend?

Do you need to go pick her up?

<Still not available on Wikipedia, but his cell phone indicates YES>

 

Don’t let us keep you.

But I will keep asking questions until you get tired of us and leave.

How did you get into cooking?

<Answer that you can probably find on Wikipedia>

 

Were you an only child?

<Answer that you can probably find on Wikipedia>

 

Why can’t your sister cook?

<Answer was probably on Wikipedia until his sister edited it>

 

Is she envious of your success?

<Sister probably isn’t even mentioned on Wikipedia after she’s done editing it>

 

Do you miss playing baseball?

<Answer that you can probably find on Wikipedia>

 

Was it a rotator cuff that sidelined you?

<Answer that you can probably find on Wikipedia>

 

Did you have surgery?

<Answer that you can probably find on Wikipedia>

 

Don’t you need to go meet your girlfriend?

<Yes. End of Twenty Questions.>

 

As it turns out, he’s a nice guy. Especially for someone with three names.

Good save, New York.

(And thanks for brightening my day, David. Next time, though, I expect you to take me here. Though I’m not a fan of ladders.)

Even the pig would like more direction.

14 May

Image Source: icanhascheezburger.com

The Recipe:

Perfect No-Mess Bacon: Place bacon slices on cookie sheet. Put cookie sheet in cold oven and set temp to 400. Walk away. Come back in 17-20 minutes to perfectly cooked bacon.

My Comment On This Recipe:

Hey Chef! Is your name Hannibal Lector? Have you seen what a cold oven does with bacon in 17-20 minutes? I’ll tell you: JACK. SHIT. 

That’s right: Nothing. 

Sorry if I seem irrationally upset. That’s probably because when the timer went off, I jumped from my chair – which is not easy because it is a RECLINER – chanting, “Who has no-mess bacon? I do! I do!” as if I were a cheerleader for the Lakers. (A Laker Girl, if you will.)

Imagine my disappointment at opening the oven door to find what looked a pile of cellulite limply staring back at me – puckered, greasy, white and raw. (Actually, now that I write that, it reminds me of my last bike ride. I couldn’t walk for days. And neither, sir, can that bacon. And it hasn’t even SEEN a bike seat.)

I’d hate to see your recipe for french fries: Put lard in the fryer. Drop whole potato in. Turn on skillet. Go take a nap. It will chop itself. 

Seriously. How did this even come up as the TOP result for “oven-cooked bacon?”

You suck more than the suckling pig that is sliced and raw in my oven. That is all.

Update:

Because I may or may not be the love-child of Anthony Boudain + Rachel Ray, I ended up extending the cooking time and dialing down the heat until the bacon was cooked properly. Turned out great – no thanks to the recipe.

Second Update:

That “no mess” part? Also needs to be revisited.

Thanks to a small hole in the tin foil lining the cookie sheet, I managed to drizzle a solid stream of bacon grease from my oven to the trash can. Have you ever buffed your floor with bacon grease? I don’t recommend it.

On the plus-side, my floors are now very shiny and my home smells like bacon.

Maybe I should start a cooking show.