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Recently my microwave decided to become a death ray, so I took its ass out to the curb. I think I will not be getting another one. In all honesty, I only used it a couple times a week - and when I did, it was to heat up a frozen prepared food like a boca burger. So even though microwaves are cheaper and relatively easy to get a hold of, I've decided the stove will do just fine for me. I don't need food heated up in an instant! It's better to take time to prepare my food, it's more intentional that way, and I can get more flavors into it with a real cooking process. And using the stove or oven means I don't have to worry about the uneven heating characteristic of microwave cookery.

I mean really, it's just another unwieldy kitchen appliance that sucks up electricity and is not a good multitasker. It may even be responsible for unhealthier eating in general, making "convenience food" like hot pockets easier to toss down a gullet.
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I think it's great that I've built a reputation amongst my friends as a foodie, and I appreciate when folks point me towards links demonstrating some kind of "sensational" food find - I always want to know what the trends in food are and what people are doing. A bunch of folks have recently told me about things being done with bacon: bacon explosion, caramelized bacon, and so on.

But I have to say, it is with most humble sincerity that I must submit: that kind of thing is KID STUFF.

I once made a five pound pizza. Pound of dough, pound of cheese, pound each of bacon, sausage, pepperoni. I made it in a huge deep dish pan, and it was so greasy the oils literally fried the one inch deep crust through all the way to the bottom. Not even The Angry Maw could finish more than one slice!! After doing that, I had the idea of having the "five pound foods" party - making things like a five pound burger, five pounds of nachos, five pounds of chili, and so on. Never quite got that far though, the five pound pizza made it seem... impractical, to say the least.

Then there was the time I made (with the help of two sous chefs towards the end, one was a vegetarian serving wench!) a meal for 10 called The Morning Eye Opener. YES. I literally prepared all of those items on a plate for ten people each. It took about a week of preparation, and five hours of execution to cook it all. I timed everything down to the minute so I could deliver all the food hot on the plate at the same time. I bought ten serving platters at the dollar store so I could serve all the food on them. The only thing I didn't do was attempt to make a giant tortilla to wrap it all into a Breakfast Burrito. After the cooking was complete, every surface in the kitchen was literally coated in a sheen of pork grease, and the floor was almost too slippery to walk on. Take a look.

I singlehandedly hosted and catered a 50 person Super Bowl party at my scary haunted house in Worcester in 2004. I made vegetarian, vegan, and meat-laden versions of every dish I prepared (hors d'oeuvres, pizzas, giant sandwiches, snack mixes, and so on).

I was part of a "meat luck" party where every dish that people brought to the party needed to contain, at a minimum, two kinds of meat in order to be considered a meat dish. A bowl of bacon was considered "salad". One of the dishes at that party was a bacon explosion of sorts, though it contained pork loin, venison, bacon, and sausage.

Another idea I've had with friends and never followed through on, but would be willing to do: The Hot Sauce Roulette Pot Luck Party. Proceed as follows: Invite N people to a pot luck party (include self). Ask invitees to prepare a dish with N-1 servings - one of the servings to contain an overwhelmingly spicy ingredient. It is critical the all servings look and smell exactly the same! Spicy ingredients must be internal or well hidden. At the time of the party, each dish is eaten in turn by all invitees (except the person who brought it) at the same time, at which point the spicy foodstuff is discovered. At the end awards would be given out for "Most Spicy Food Found", "Least Spicy Food Found", "Lucky Bastard", "Tastiest Dish" and so on.

So, yes, it is with all modesty that I must admit that things like the bacon explosion are indeed child's play.

Stolen!

Feb. 20th, 2008 01:54 pm
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A quick summary of me (stealed from [livejournal.com profile] arachne8x):
33 going on 34.

Grew up in North Branford, CT but born in New Haven, CT.

Fluent in English, smattering of French, currently studying Homeric Greek.

Nearly 100% Italian - father is all Italian, mother is 75%, with some German and Irish.

Schooled publicly until college, then started studying Physics at WPI. Eventually switched to Computer Science.

Longest relationship was 4.5 years, ended in a broken engagement in 1999. Have since been alternately single and dating sporadically; current relationship is longest one since then (1 year!). [polyamorous]

Working as a consultant for Robert Half Technology, sourced to Plus One Holdings.

Leo, spiritual, anti-religious.

Very fond of cats.

Rapturous lover of preparing and eating food; most fond of pizza, wine, cheese, and chocolate.

Ambitions to get a tattoo (maybe a depiction of Quetzalcoatl).

LARPer and LARP GM/creator.

Comic book collector (approximately 5,000).

Gamer (board, card, video, miniature, role-playing, ANYTHING).

Writer (mainly poetry and short fiction).

Aspiring artist.
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I had the day off today, and decided to walk around Manhattan in the beautiful, beautiful weather. I made my way down to Bleecker Street in the West Village, and hit Murray's Cheese shop and the pork store next to it... purchased handmade sweet sopressata and hot cappicola, a ciabatta, and a seasonal goat cheese from Piedmont, Italy known as the Caprina Noce de Cora. It was wrapped in blackened walnut leaves, and had a beautiful musty odor.

It was almost a muffaletta - I lacked only the olive tapenade. But I smeared half the goat cheese on the ciabatta, layered interwined meats on top of it, and baked the whole thing on low wrapped in aluminum foil for about fifteen minutes.

This sandwich was very nearly a religious experience. I chased it down with a bottle of Fentimans Curiosity Cola, and savored every delicious bite.

I still have half of it left in the fridge. I need to get some kalamata olives and smash them up in a little olive oil...
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With all the rain and bleh outside... today is a tomato soup day.

1 large can diced tomatoes (organic)
3/4 cup soy milk
olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1T capers

Lightly sautee the garlic and capers in oil in a saucepan, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Add the tomatoes, stir.

Using a hand blender, puree ingredients together carefully.

Add the soy milk, and simmer, blending more until desired smoothness.
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You may have heard of Boston Baked Beans... but are you ready for Brooklyn Baked Beans??

1 bottle Brooklyn Brewery brown ale
3/4 cup brown sugar
3T honey
3/4 cup maple syrup
2T Sriracha chili sauce (or to taste)
1/4 cup yellow mustard
2 small to medium onions
1 can navy beans
1 can small white beans
2T chopped Garlic
2T butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Sautee garlic and butter, and cook onions until sweated.

Add remaining ingredients.

Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Transfer to a 2-quart casserole dish, bake 45 minutes to 1 hour or until beans are thick enough.

(Yes these are cooking in my oven right now!!)
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Henceforth, all foodstuffs shall be produced in the shape of small people and cute animals, to facilitate the biting off of heads. The tastiest foods shall have faces, and be decorated fancifully with looks of shock and horror.
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I had some great company this weekend. Treyvana and boy came to visit, and we had a merry time. I feel that I could have been a bit more entertaining, but I found myself doing a lot of house related things like laundry and keeping the place generally tidy. We spent a lot of the time petting the cat and doing TV related activities, though we did go out to dinner Saturday night.

I did a fair amount of excellent cooking though (if I may say so). I finally bought the waffle iron I wanted, and used my homemade baking mix to make a dozen tasty, crispy Belgians on Saturday. Today I fired up the oven and quick cooked a skirt steak on my cast iron pan - turned it into three huge, delicious steak and onion quesadillas.

I think that I'm going to end up running a bed and breakfast some day. There's nothing I love more than having company and cooking for them.

I wrapped up my weekend by going to see Brokeback Mountain with Becca. Yes, I cried. There's nothing to my mind more tragic than not taking the chance. If you can see the path to happiness, and you have the ability to take that path, don't stop yourself from going down it. Regret what you have done, not what you haven't.
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Wake up check

Do laundry check

Make tomato sauce in crock pot check

Make bacon/breakfast check

Get dressed check

Go shopping at TJ's check

Make chicken stock check

Make pizza dough check

Caramelize onions, Sautee mushrooms check

Make pizza mmmmmmmmm SO check

Go to DJ's, win 42" HD television no dice!

Go to sleep pre-emptive check
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oh damn them brownies came out goooooooood.
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I'm going to make a pan of brownies with white chocolate chunks in em.
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I woke up at around 1:15 pm today. I woke up pretty early on Saturday and had a damn full day - I was expecting guests for breakfast, but didn't receive any. I had roused at about 7 am in order to clean up the house and get the kitchen ready for some cooking; I frantically cleaned the kitchen, dining, and living rooms. When no one had arrived by about 10:30 am, I figured I wouldn't see anyone for a while, so I started cleaning the shelves in my pantry (to make space for dishes and pans and such that were all over the counters).

I got the kitchen into a pretty nice state - it's really solid now, all the appliances are in the right places, and I've made some good prep areas, and I cleaned off the little shelf between the windows and put spices, oils, and hot sauces on it. Around 1:30 pm I decided to make breakfast for myself... I made a ham and cheese omlette on my brand new electric griddle, and I slowly cooked a pound of bacon in my cast iron pan on the stove (I didn't eat it all of course - I'll have a nice BLT or two for lunch this week). The round table against the windows is now a little breakfast nook - coffee machine, hot pot, toaster, sandwich press, and the big griddle when I want to set it up.

On the opposite side of the kitchen, I have my Kitchenaid mixer, the microwave, and the nice stainless steel scale I got for my housewarming. I can also set up the bread machine on that table if I don't need it for prep area.

The pantry is about halfway ready. All the open shelves are clean, but I have to finish cleaning up the cabinets. Once I finish washing more pots and pans, I can put those away on the shelves...

I'm really starting to like living in my apartment now. I'm at the point where I can just kind of sit around and feel good about the way things look. I'm getting comfy. It feels very, very nice.

Oh, and since I completely digressed... the other portion of my day was the Gweepnet tenth anniversary party. From 6pm to 2am, I hung out with 80 of the folks on gweep.net and had a great, great time. Lots of people I haven't seen in person in a long while. I was so damn tired when I got home though... just slept for eleven freaking hours.

And I hear tomorrow is supposed to be another foot of snow. Freaking a... at least there won't be any drought this year.
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I spent the weekend visiting friends in another state. It was a long drive up and down the Eastern seaboard, and the caravan I was part of covered a lot of roads between here and there. When we got to Virginia, the surrounding town that our friends lived in was wholly unremarkable - and this was mainly because it looked like everywhere else I'd ever been in New England. The same chain restaurants, the same retail stores. To be sure, there were a couple of new names that you don't see often north of the Mason-Dixon: Shoney's, Waffle House, and the like...

For convenience's sake, we ended up eating at McDonald's and Pizza Hut. And I realized yet again why I don't eat at those "restaurants". I cooked breakfast on Sunday, and made two pounds of bacon, a pound of maple sausages, eggs and toast... and it was all orders of magnitude better than the meals we had the rest of the trip.

It really, truly upsets me that we as a people are surrendering the joy of food to the forces of mass produced darkness. McDonald's burgers are flavorless wads of chewy gristle, and pizza from Pizza Hut is just a salty slice of bread with specks of generic salty meats. And the supermarkets are full of convenience meals that move from your freezer to your oven or microwave... only a few minutes to gratification! It disgusts me.

I refuse to accept "I have no time to cook" or "I don't know how to cook" as excuses. Cooking is not some arcane ritual - it just takes a small amount of patience and a little know-how that you can get from this book. What cooking is is one of the few great pleasures that life affords us. It's cheaper to cook your own food. It's healthier to cook your own food. Food that you cook yourself tastes better because your ingredients are fresh and are not the lowest possible quality that a business can serve you for their maximum profit. And you can make food that you can't get anywhere else - no restaurant serves foccacia toast with a slice of horseradish cheddar the way I like to make it. You can't walk into a restaurant and ask for something that's not on the menu and expect them to just make it; try that next time you walk into a lousy Outback.

And I'm not knocking all restaurants either. There are many examples of fine cuisine out there, and there are even one or two fast food places that are worthy to consume from. But I will still prefer the hearty and infinitely tastier sandwich I can make from Widoff's italian bread and delectable meats and cheeses from my favorite deli to anything I can get at Subway.

The sad truth is that it comes down to this - people just don't want to cook. And that is the most sorrowful part of the tale, because it means that the people that feel that way have never actually experienced the satisfaction and wholehearted joy of preparing a meal. Every time I make a meal, I treat it as others would a religious experience. I know that runs counter to what I said earlier about food preparation not being an arcane ritual - it truly isn't. But I like to imagine myself in that role, totally putting myself into a meal that I prepare for the people I care most about. You can't get that kind of love from a restaurant chef, and you certainly won't ever get it from a minimum wage fast food worker...
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This holiday week was pretty memorable - I actually went to three Thanksgiving celebrations over the course of seven days.

First up was the Sunday D&D session, where my housemate prepared the meal for the gaming group that comes to their house on a biweekly basis. She made turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, and canned cranberry sauce. The stuffing was a modified version of the Caprio family stuffing recipe that I had at all my childhood Thanksgiving dinners. It was a good repast, and it was fun having a meal with all those folks (even though the nine of us were just kind of standing around in the kitchen). Apple pie and pumpkin pie for dessert.

Second was the journey to Connecticut and Thanksgiving, Caprio style. My mom and dad made dinner for us and my paternal grandmother and maternal great-grandmother. A small dinner, since my sisters went to Indiana to visit in-laws for the holiday. Mom did a great job with the stuffing - she went with the traditional recipe using Arnold's cornbread stuffing, thyme, sage, and browned hamburger instead of sausage. The first course, naturally, was homemade manicotti... man, I love those. They come out so thick and tasty... I'd never order manicotti, even in the best Italian restaurant, because I know my folks make it better. Mom also made my Aunt Millie's stuffed yams (a recipe I have to add to the online archive) and they came out deliciously. Oh, and lest I forget - the stuffed artichokes?? Man, those rocked. So we had manicotti, stuffed artichokes, stuffing, stuffed yams, turkey & gravy, canned cranberry sauce, and dinner rolls and italian bread. Homemade cheesecake for dessert. Phew!

Last, but not even remotely least, Saturday night's dinner and holiday crafts party at lionlady's! What an awesome awesome time we had - fourteen of us, I think. lionlady and buddhagrrl were the cooks (with help from lionlady's sister), and they prepared an incredible, amazing meal. The turkey and gravy were completely phenomenal, with stuffing prepared inside and outside of the turkey (everyone ate the stuffing that was inside, of course).

I can never stay out of the kitchen, so I made my own contribution by preparing the mashed potatoes. They were a hit - but all I really did was salt and pepper the potatoes (always season!) and add ten tablespoons of butter, three quarters of a cup of milk, and a whole lot of mashing action. There were easily four quarts of mashed potatoes for fourteen people, but they got reduced to about a cup or two, even with all that other food! *proud*

Third Thanksgiving was composed of turkey and gravy, stuffing, candied yams, mashed potatoes, steamed kale with garlic, and asparagus (but no cranberry sauce this time! oh well). Apple, blueberry, and pumpkin pie for dessert.

I'm going to have to be real good with my caloric intake this week. :)


Unrelated side note: I'm still not moved into my new apartment in Worcester yet. The heating oil company is giving the landlord a hard time, they apparently missed three appointments with him all last week. Hopefully they'll pick up the ball and set things up Monday or Tuesday... as soon as that's all set, I'll have heat and hot water. Next step will be updating my bedroom!
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Tonight, I am attempting to make another one of my family recipes - stuffed tomatoes. I haven't had these in years. As of right now, they're still baking in the oven, and I can see a trail of steam billowing up from the oven door. Those of you I will see in New Hampshire tomorrow will be treated to these delightfully savory morsels.

I grew up with my paternal grandfather and grandmother; I lived with them from about age 8 to age 17 (counting up to when my grandfather died). My grandparents spent nearly every day of those nine years cooking, and I got to watch their preparations and consume their products. They would always go to the store and buy massive quantities of food. Whatever was on sale - frozen OJ, tomato products, vegetables, and so forth - and they would stock up their standing freezer and pantry with, literally, a ton of food. They would prepare large batches of sauces, lasagnas, parmaigians, and all kinds of other stuff and stick it in the deep freeze to pull out and use at their leisure.

Summers were especially busy times for food preparation; and since I was home from school, I could hang around and watch more. Whenever chicken or eggplants were on sale, my grandfather would buy pounds and pounds of them and spend the day making cutlets... breading the patties and frying them over low, slow heat all day long. Whenever tomatoes were on sale, or coming from the garden, he would make pickled tomatoes and stuffed tomatoes.

I have such amazing fondness for these times, and I strongly associate my youth with the particular foods that my grandparents prepared in the summertime and at holidays. It's been somewhat depressing over the last couple of years that I haven't been able to have meat pies and stuffed tomatoes and meatballs and cutlets and apizza a carne like my grandfather used to make... my grandmother doesn't cook any more, and my parents like to do their own things and try new stuff all the time. So I've been coercing recipes out of my grandmother and parents, and I've been making a little online collection of them (if you want the URL, you'll have to ask me!). I figure if nobody else is going to make this stuff, I'm going to figure out how to make it and do it myself, damn it!

The meat pies were a raging success, and were damn close to how I remember them. The stuffed tomato recipe still needs a little work (I actually changed it slightly to suit my own tastes a little more), but I guessed pretty well at how much of each of the ingredients I needed. I'm also going to have to put some notes in there about not overfilling the cookie sheets, as things tend to move around and squish together a bit as they cook down.

I can't wait to try one of these bad boys out for breakfast tomorrow!

MEAT party

Jul. 15th, 2002 01:36 am
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The pot luck MEAT party at Justin's place was a rousing success! Much meat was had by all, and we got to invite some more people at the last minute to come over and help us consume it. And Drak's girl Alice joined us, which was nice since I hadn't actually gotten an opportunity to meet/hang out with her yet.

The idea was to bring a dish that had at least two kinds of meat in it - Matt came up with the idea, and I nudged Justin into hosting at his place, and he kindly provided a grand selection of international red wines. The dishes that were brought:

Pork tenderloin wrapped in ground pork wrapped in bacon (Matt)
Deviled ham deviled eggs (Matt)
Jambalaya (Lucas)
Meat Salad [chicken, ham, beef, and cheese bits tossed in Italian dressing] (Drak)
Pork tenderloin stuffed with veal and venison and marscapone (Dan)
Scallops wrapped in bacon (Dan)
Meat Pie [traditional Italian ham pie] (me)
Cigala bread [another Italian thing] (me)
Varieties of homemade sausage (me)

Too much food! But it was all delicious...

NEXT: Hot Sauce Roulette pot luck dinner!!
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Guess I've been a bit lax with my journal keeping, hm?

I'm so awful at everyday writing. I keep thinking that there aren't enough mundane things happening to me to keep up anyone's interest level.

Recent goods:
Massage. I heart julz. Sushi! Housemates on vacation - late night company and getting to do some cooking of my own. Made some very yummy pizza. Making strides with my writing; I actually have a paying gig! And of course I sent in my one page entry to the WotC fantasy setting proposal contest... cross your fingers for me.

Recent bads:
Work related stress, not much new there. General malaise, punctuated by shouting. I'm not a shouter, but I shout back when shouted at, damn it! And at what point did I end up becoming my mom's only friend and confidante? It's amazing how roles reverse as you get older... I'm not sure I want to be the parent though. They aren't children for crying out loud, they just like to act like it sometimes. :-P
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My first entry! Woo!

So, let's see - yesterday I went down to Rhode Island for a first birthday party. My friend Chris and his wife Becky threw a little shindig for their son David. He is the most serious baby I've ever met, but he is truly adorable; a chip off the old block.

I got him the best present: a hammer-the-balls-in-the-thing toy. David wouldn't let go of the hammer, it was the cutest thing ever. He didn't quite get the concept of "hammering", but he certainly knew how to scratch the top of his head with it. A born tool-user if I ever saw one.

It was a BBQ, and Chris requested that I bring some of my dad's and my own world famous homemade sausage (well okay, it's not world famous, but it's good stuff). I cooked a pound each of our kalhua with cherries flavor and our mandarin orange with curacao and triplesec. Yum yum yum. I love barbecuing. Cookouts make this my favorite time of year...

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