Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wherein I Blog About My Cat

I love my cat, and I'm not afraid to let the Internet know it. But damn, he is a weird little f***er. Sometimes I am truly worried by the things he eats, or rather, the things he desperately desires to eat but I won't let him.


When Hubs and I first got him, a tiny little orange ball of fury that my mother referred to as "devil cat", he had an almost addict-like love of coffee. He would do almost anything to get ahold of coffee in any form- brewed, ground, bean- you name it, he was willing to kill for it. He'd knock over garbage cans, risk scalding, stick his little head comically far into the used French press, anything to get a taste. We theorized that he had been a dumpster diver before he'd joined us, and that he retained a taste for the upper effects of coffee.


Over the years, he has exhibited countless other odd food tastes, including veggie pepperoni, dog food, tape and adhesive of any kind, and tub water. Yes, tub water. As in bathtub. It's a rare bath (or shower) I take that does not include him perched delicately on the edge of the tub, eagerly awaiting the safest moment to slurp it up. Weirdo. 


But all his previous oddities are trumped by the yen he had today. Brushing my teeth after my shower, I glanced over at the tub, expecting to see him lapping at the drain as per usual. Instead, he was...wait for it...licking the bar of soap. And not tiny tasting licks. He was really going to town on it, deep, gulping, extremely un-cat-like licks. My loud reprimand did nothing to stop him. I had to physically remove the cat from the Dial.


So now, here I sit, writing about my cat, because I'm cool like that. And said cat lays beside me, but I've made sure there is a blanket under both of us. Because my couch is white, and I'm fairly positive it's just a matter of time before my cat has a soap related accident bubbling out of one or more end. At least it will be easy to clean, right?

Monday, February 28, 2011

On Jobs I Didn't Take and Jobs I Couldn't Get and Didn't Really Want Anyway

So we've been in this God-forsaken town for almost two months, and I still don't have a job. It's starting to get me down, just a little tiny bit. People say, "It'll happen eventually. Just give it time." People say, "You're too good for them." And I try to put on a happy face, to say "I know, I know, really, it hasn't been that long, considering the economy. I'm not worried yet." But the truth is, I am. I'm worried, I'm depressed, I'm afraid I'm a failure. Why won't anyone hire me?

Well, if we're being completely honest, someone did hire me. Two someones, in fact. The first job offer I received was less than a week after I started looking. It was a nanny position, caring for two young toddlers. I didn't think the interview went very well, and wasn't really feeling a connection, but they offered me the job. And despite my misgivings, I would have taken it, if I could have. But, being unfamiliar with the area, I hadn't realized when I applied just how far from our apartment it was. And with my lack of a car, and the hours they needed, there was just no way it was going to work. So I sent an email with my regrets, and cursed myself for my carlessness.

The second job I was offered was McDonald's. It pains me to even write that. I know, believe me, I know, that there is nothing wrong with working at McDonald's. There are few things more worthy in life than a hard day's work, wherever that work may be. But...I just couldn't. I could go into detail about how I got a bad vibe from the interview, how I really thought there was something off about it, but if I said that was the reason I didn't take the job, I'd be lying. I just couldn't let that be the best that I could do. Husband was all for me taking it "just for a little while" but something told me it wouldn't work out that way. For some crazy, irrational (or maybe not) reason, I felt like if I put on that red visor, I would be stuck there for the rest of my life, and I just couldn't stand that. I (almost) graduated college, I got married, I moved cross country...to work at McDonald's? Two months later and still jobless, I look back and feel guilty for not taking it. But, if they called today...well, I might take it. Husband can't go on pulling all the weight forever. But it would probably be the low point of my life to date.

I think, no, I know, that I'm smart, educated, a hard worker, and could bring a lot to the positions I'm applying for. And yet, despite literally hundreds of applications, I've only gotten a half dozen interviews, and no job. It's frustrating to the point of pulling my hair out. I mean, whatever happened to entry level positions? Jobs where they paid you crap and taught you skills? Last week, I applied for a job in the produce section of a local grocery store. And got rejected before I could even finish the application, because I didn't have six months worth of grocery experience.  HONESTLY?! I buy produce every week. Half the time, I know more about the produce than the person checking me out. (Checkout girl: "Ummm...what's this?" Me, trying to keep my voice as non-judgmental as possible: "That's a cabbage.") I'm a freaking vegetarian. And I have experience in customer service, food service, inventory and stocking. You would think that this is enough to get me a non-skilled, minimum wage job at a grocery store. You would be wrong.

Ugh.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Menu Planning Madness, Part 2

As promised, here is my finished menu for next week. I think it's a good first attempt- hopefully, I'll get better as time goes on. This week, there are only two double duty foods, ie, foods that you make once, use twice- in this case, salad and pinto beans. I'm terrible at finding uses for leftover pinto beans. I always make a pound at a time, and we generally have no problem eating them as-is until they're gone, but I would like to have a few recipes up my sleeve to do something different with them. This week, I'm trying a chili- pretty unimaginative, but at least a little different. And, yes, we eat well. Husband doesn't feel it counts as a meal unless there are three items on the table, and I try to oblige, because, well, I love him, and I love food.

Monday:
Tofu and veggie stew
Balsamic roasted broccoli
Homemade bread

Tuesday:
Lentil loaf
Mashed potatoes
Roasted brussels sprouts

Wednesday:
Falafel
Rice
Tzatziki
Salad

Thursday:
Big Ole Pot 'O Beans
Rice
Cornbread or tortillas

Friday:
<a href=http://vegandad.blogspot.com/2008/06/apple-walnut-sausage-brunch-bundles.html>Apple Walnut Sausage Brunch Bundles </a> from
<ahttp://vegandad.blogspot.com/>Vegan Dad </a>
Cheesy Eggs
Salad

Saturday:
<a href=http://vegandad.blogspot.com/2007/10/cauliflower-in-cashew-sauce.html>Cauliflower in Cashew Sauce </a> also from Vegan Dad
Rice
Lentils

Sunday:
Bean and veggie chili

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Menu Planning Madness, Part 1

I have a half a head of cabbage, a green pepper, a tomato, and two bananas rotting in my fridge right now. I pretty much suck at buying produce- I always get way too much, or nowhere near enough. And while I hate wasting food, I equally hate not being able to make a good dish because I'm missing culinary staples. For now, I'll throw the bananas and tomato in the freezer, to be used in banana bread and veggie broth, respectively, and I'll make coleslaw tonight and hope for the best. But I think the green pepper is a gonner- which is just sad, because, really, I couldn't manage to use a green pepper before it rotted? How sad is that?

On the flip side of the coin, I've been reading a lot of food blogs lately, and am itching to make some really yummy dishes. I've been trying to experiment lately, but the problem is, I never have enough of the ingredients on hand. So I end up subbing excessively, to the point where the final product is good, but culinarily nothing new. I can't win- I buy too much of one thing, not enough of another, and I'm stuck wasting food, spending too much on my grocery bill, and putting the same meals on the table week in and week out.

So I've decided to start menu planning, in an effort to reduce our waste and monetary output. Hopefully, this will also encourage me to put a little more variety on the table, since, if I find an intriguing recipe, I can plan to buy the ingredients and put it on next week's menu. I'm also hoping to become a little more skilled at using leftovers and being more time efficient in the kitchen- say, making double the amount of mashed potatoes one night, and making potato pancakes later in the week. Right now, it's all fine and dandy for me to spend an hour or two on dinner every night, but sooner or later (hopefully sooner!) someone will give me a job, and dinner is going to have to become a much more streamlined affair. I'll post next week's menu as soon as I finish figuring it out.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Yummy Cornbread Recipe

This recipe is a kind of compromise between sickly sweet, fluffy, almost cake-like cornbreads and those more savory but dense-as-a-brick cornbreads. A little fluffy, but not so much that it overpowers the texture of the cornmeal, a little sweet, a lot delicious. As a bonus, it’s also vegan, unless you have a problem with sugar, in which case you could easily substitute your preferred sweetener. If you’re iffy about the cayenne, I urge you to give a shot- it doesn’t add a lot, taste-wise, but it gives it a little bit of an afterburner effect that I find complements the sweet, cornmeal-y goodness perfectly. 
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoon sugar
Pinch salt
Pinch cayenne powder
1 cup water
¼ cup canola oil
Mix dry, add wet, bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Try not to burn tongue devouring it before it’s cooled. 

Curry Cunundrum, Part Duex

I’ll be honest. I don’t think we’re going to be able to eat this three nights in a row, no matter what I do with it. And we actually have quite a few other leftovers in the fridge to get through. So I’ve frozen the remaining curry, but next time we need some curry in a hurry, I plan on turning the last leftovers into curry patties. This particular curry is already pretty mushy. If you’re working with a chunkier variety, use a potato masher to make it patty-ready. If need be, add leftover lentils, potatoes, rice, or breadcrumbs to add bulk.

 And that's how I take a so-so dish and re-vamp is so the leftovers are not only edible, but stuff-your-face worthy. What are your leftover magic tricks?
·   Defrost leftover curry. Mix with flour, adding a tablespoon at a time until the mixture is cohesive enough to form into patties.
·   In a separate bowl, mix ½ cup cornmeal with salt and pepper. Coat patties in cornmeal mixture.
·   Pan fry until golden brown and delicious.
·   Top with Greek yogurt or sour cream. Serve with lentils and a big salad. Or serve on a bun and call it a veggie burger.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Curry Conundrum

Last night I made curry for dinner. This was no surprise- my appetite for Indian is insatiable, and curry is a great way to use up extra vegetables you might have lying around. Plus it goes great with rice, which my husband would be happy to eat every night of the week if I’d let him. What was noteworthy about last night was the fact that I actually used a recipe. Outside of baking, I rarely use recipes- I’m much more of a “throw a bunch of crap together, and if it tastes like crap, add some more cheese” kind of girl. But last week, on a whim, I followed a recipe, and, lo and behold, the results were delicious. So I thought there might actually be something to this whole recipe thing, and decided to try it again with last night’s curry. Sadly, the results were less than stellar, and, while edible, it’s not a recipe I will make again. Which is unfortunate, because there’s enough of it left over to feed a small army. Fortunately, husband and I eat like a medium-sized army, so we can probably finish it in two nights of leftovers. The question is, how can I change it up enough so that our taste buds don’t commit suicide from being force-fed the same so-so mush three nights in a row? For the first night of leftovers, I chose to jazz it up with some butter and breadcrumbs.


Leftovers- Night 1: Freshly made, most curries are slightly soupy, all the better for pouring over rice, potatoes, or directly into your mouth via funnel. After sitting overnight, however, the dish thickens into more of a gravy, making it perfect for that classic leftover dish, the casserole.
·         Dump leftover curry in a casserole dish. I like using tiny individual dishes, because everything tastes better when made in individual portions.
·         Melt a tablespoon of butter or margarine in the microwave.
·         Add 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs. Mix together.
·         Season with salt, pepper, and whatever else strikes your fancy. My go-to is paprika and a touch of cayenne, but garam masala, cumin, and chili powder would also be tasty here.
·         Bake at 350 until curry warms through and topping gets crispy.
·         On especially distasteful dishes, add an unhealthy serving of cheese to the breadcrumb mixture. 
·         Serve with rice and Indian-spiced deep fried zucchini coins. Yum.

Tomorrow I'll share my leftovers, take two, ideas!