Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Why I'm Never Drinking Hot Chocolate Ever Again

This post was originally published on The Famished Freelancer on February 4, 2014. You can see in these pix how a lack of clean surfaces made me a poor fit for food blogging. Even with extreme close-ups, you can still see all the junk I keep on my snack tray.

I've had a sore throat/cold thing going on, so I've been all about the throat-soothing stuff. Drinking hot water, eating marshmallows (the gelatin coats the throat), drinking more hot water. You know the routine.

The other night, it was too late for hot chocolate (too much caffeine for that time of night), so I started wondering if Hot Vanilla is a thing, or if it was something I just imagined through all the cough syrup.

Google told me this was a thing. The recipes I saw were a bit complicated, involving vanilla beans and making your own whipped cream to put on top, so I worked it out on my own. (Recipe below.)

The first sip was like…hello darling, where have you been all my life? It was sweet, it was vanilla-y, it was hot and creamy and why have I been wasting my time with hot cocoa?

I realize that many of you will think I'm a total freak, but I actually prefer vanilla to chocolate. Yeah, I know, pick yourself up off the floor. More chocolate for you.

I like chocolate. But given a choice, I'll order something else. A nice fruit pie. Or creme brûlée. Offer me ice cream and I'm going to want vanilla (or strawberry). Most of the chocolate flavors are too chocolatey for me. Some people want rich, dense, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. 

Not me.

Hell, I have a friend who will only eat chocolate desserts. To her, if it's not chocolate, it's not worth the effort it takes to chew it.

My husband prefers chocolate, but he'll let me pick when we split desserts. Not because he loves me, but because he's too full to eat an entire dessert himself. And because I will compromise on many things, but I will not eat chocolate cake covered with chocolate sauce, accompanied by chocolate ice cream. I know this is the preferred dessert of most people, but I honestly don't know what's wrong with some people.

I mean, chocolate covered Oreos completely throw off the balance of the cookie, but there are enough people that love them that the company keeps making them.

This doesn't make it right.

However, I'll totally go the other way and pull apart two double-stuff Oreos to make a quadruple stuff and that's totally fine by me. No, I don't know what the Hell is the matter with me.

But Hot Vanilla? More hot cocoa for everyone else, because I'm not going back.

Hot Vanilla
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of cinnamon

  1. Pour the milk in a microwave-safe cup, and microwave on high for 45 seconds.
  2. Stir in sugar and microwave for another 45 seconds.
  3. Stir in vanilla extract.
  4. Sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon.
  5. Top with whipped cream or marshmallows if you're into that sort of thing.

I suppose you could try it with any extract. I'm thinking of trying this with almond extract, or half vanilla, half almond.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Here, Go Read Something

Two publishing companies got into a hilarious Twitter squabble. Best part:
Chapter 8: Both houses regain their chill and respond to other people.

Famous quotes, the way a woman would have to say them in a meeting. The writer is not exaggerating one tiny bit here. I refused to learn that language (because it makes you sound like a jabbering idiot) and therefore had my communication style criticized several times during my corporate career. By men. For talking the exact way they do. Sigh.

Brace yourself for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the movie. Trailer here. The book is as silly as you'd expect. I preferred the prequel and sequel (Dawn of the Dreadfuls and Dreadfully Ever After) because I wasn't constantly comparing it to the original and nitpicking like crazy. The first book had a few jokes that clearly indicated that the author didn't completely understand the original scene and was therefore making fun of the wrong thing. The illustrator had zero idea about fashions of the day and so all the pictures show people wearing Victorian styles that wouldn't be invented for decades. It's like dressing people in 1970s polyester instead of 1920s flapper dresses.

I've been ranting about the coming movie becuase the trailers show the Bennett girls wearing corsets and REGENCY WOMEN DID NOT WEAR CORSETS!!!!! Loose, empire waisted dresses don't require a corset. Except, I'm actually wrong. They had looser corsets that didn't nip in the waist. Which makes sense since bras weren't going to be invented for another century and they didn't want to leave their girls unsupported.

I'm still going to watch the movie closely to make sure they have the right kind of corsets. Because apparently I enjoy getting mad about stuff like that.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Pot Roast of Love

This post originally appeared on The Famished Freelancer on January 30, 2014.

It's been below freezing for entirely too long, so naturally thoughts turn to pot roast. Mind you, we have no control over the heat in our apartment (which is copious), so it's not like we look for excuses to have the stove on for hours. 

But oh, man, a hearty meal sure hits the spot and it is a nice change to have a kitchen that's crazy hot.

Last Saturday, His Awesomeness made a pot roast. And ZOMG was it amazing. The first time he served it, we discovered that the potatoes were underdone and had to put it back in for another 30 minutes. It smelled so good that it took a hella lot of will power not to just eat underdone potatoes, which cannot possibly be healthy. 

It was so good that I had seconds. Okay, thirds. Which is a huge deal because we usually cook just enough food for each of us to have one serving. If there are leftovers, HA will often split them into individual containers for lunch.

But this…I could've eaten the whole thing and then rolled around in the gravy.  Except that I managed to get full before we ran out of roast.

Monday night, we had leftovers and despite the chips and salsa we had half an hour earlier, I still wanted more. But there was only one serving left and I decided to hold back. You know, like how you don't want a really good book to end so you keep setting it aside when you're close to the end.

I knew there was a risk of HA taking the last serving for lunch, but I figured that was only fair since he did all the work.

After dinner, we settled down on the couch to watch TV and he turned to me and said, "Just so you know…" which drives me crazy because he always follows it up with some FYI that kinda sucks, like "I have conference calls all night." But this time, he followed it with, "I'm going to leave the last serving of pot roast for you."

It was the single most romantic thing he's said to me. Possibly ever.

I mean, I love him more than I love that pot roast. But one of the reasons that's true is that he cares about making me happy and the pot roast doesn't.

Pot Roast of Love

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 (2+ pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed (If you can find a bigger roast, then go for it.)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
2 cups low salt beef broth
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup chopped tomatoes (half a can)
1 1/4 pounds small red potatoes (or bigger potatoes cut up)
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Heat oil in dutch oven over medium high heat. 
  3. Sprinkle salt & pepper over the roast. 
  4. Brown roast on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove roast from pan.
  5. Saute onion in pan for 8 minutes, or until browned.
  6. Return roast to pan.
  7. Combine broth, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over roast. Add tomatoes. 
  8. Bring to a simmer.
  9. Cover the dutch oven and place in the oven. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.
  10. Add potatoes and carrots. Bake for an additional hour or until vegetables are tender.

What's your favorite cold weather meal? 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Monday Links

The Sequel to the Philadelphia Story Katherine Hepburn Deserves I read this in public and could not stop laughing out loud. Because, yeah, that story takes a really weird turn.

Things My Newborn Has Done That Remind Me of the Existential Horror of the Human Experience I swear, most of the time newborns are just like WTF? As well they should be.

How Doctors Take Women's Pain Less Seriously Back in my volunteer EMT days, I once took a woman to the ER who'd given birth a few days earlier and was in excruciating pain. Like, soiled herself and was in too much pain to let anyone clean her up. We just wrapped her in the soiled blanket and transferred her to the gurney because that required the least amount of jostling. At the hospital, we had to talk to a security guard before we could take her to the ER. As he was letting us through, he said, "Of course she's in pain. She just had a baby. What did she expect?" I don't even want to think about how many doctors and nurses she encountered that day who had the same attitude as that guy. We rarely found out anything about the patients after we handed them off, but I'd bet my 401K that it wasn't normal post-natal pain. 

If you unknowingly give your kids juice that contains too much sugar, what else are you capable of?

Women who show anger are taken less seriously. Which, of course, makes us even angrier. Shit like this is why I feel a certain affinity for the Witch from Into the Woods:
"You're so nice. You're not good. You're not bad. You're just nice. 
I'm not good. I'm not nice. I'm just RIGHT."
Which hey, sounds like a good place to end:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Book Review: The Martha Washington Cookbook

That post originally appeared on The Famished Freelancer on January 28, 2014. When I get better, I totally want to start making some historical recipes. Nothing that tastes like roses, though. Well, maybe. People back then were so into it, I feel like I should give rosewater another chance.

Photo credit: ttarasiuk
I was really excited to receive The Martha Washington Cookbook for Christmas. What's not to love about really old recipes? Tastes have changed over the years, and it's an interesting peek into another time.

It's also an interesting peek into blatant racism.

The cookbook proper was given to Martha Washington by her first mother-in-law and passed down through the generations. It was updated in the 1940s, and the current printing is an exact replica of the one from the 40s.

This wouldn't be an issue except for the clueless racism thrown around in the introduction. The author, Marie Kimball, goes on and on about Martha's responsibilities at Mount Vernon, including managing hundreds of slaves. The tone implies that this was a big, difficult task. Nowhere near as hard as BEING a slave, I'm sure. But Kimball doesn't give a shit about that.

Later, she talks about Hercules, the Washington's slave/cook. They brought him with them to Philadelphia when George was President, but there was a law in Pennsylvania that freed any slave living there for 6 months. "Although Washington did not believe Hercules would avail himself of this, it was considered prudent to return him to Mount Vernon before the six months were up…In the end, city life got the better of him. When the family was to return home, in 1797, Hercules ran away and was never seen again."

OMG, the word choices speak volumes. Like, why wouldn't someone take advantage of a law giving them freedom? And Hercules didn't "run away," he escaped.

As Louis C.K. said, slavery wasn't that long ago. It's just two 70 year old women living one after the other. This book was written just one old lady after the Civil War, yet the concept that slaves didn't want to be slaves hadn't quite sunk in. And no one thought to fix that in the current edition.

Anyway, to the food. 

Apparently, people in the 18th century really, really liked rosewater in everything. Now, I've eaten rose-flavored candy and it's like eating perfume. Some people dig it, but it's not for me.

Hercules cooked everything on a fireplace. The recipes have been updated for stoves.

A typical 18th century American meal involved a metric fuckton of food. 3 or 6 meat dishes, plus sides. 

I've picked out a bunch of recipes I want to try, mostly sweets. The desserts just seem more accessible and familiar. I couldn't imagine doing a big, 18th century style meat dish for just me and the husband. Though now that Sleepy Hollow has brought the American Revolution into pop culture relevance, a theme party may be in order.

The Verdict

This cookbook is a nice to have, but not essential - unless you want to kick it back colonial style.

For more on slaves at Mount Vernon, check out the Ask a Slave web series, the first of which is below.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Monday Links

Things yelled at the TV while watching Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. I'd add:

  • Just do it already!
  • I think they've been doing it for about 3 episodes or at least dating, and they're just messing with the audience at this point.
  • Stop making me want to write smutty fan fiction! 
  • I really wish they'd just show the two leads kiss already because I can't stop picturing them doing it and since actors are real people and not my puppets I feel like I'm crossing a line here.

I love the Great British Baking Show. It's everything American reality shows are not. The contestants are amateur bakers who are not looking to go pro. The competition is only on the weekend, so no one has to quit their job to compete. They do have to spend the week preparing for the coming weekend and baking in every free moment they have. so, it's only a little life ruining.

Saturday and Sunday morning, they make a specific type of baked good. They're told in advance what the judges want, they develop and practice a recipe during the week and then  they make the thing. Saturday afternoon brings the technical challenge, which can be pretty harrowing. The bakers are given a deliberately vague recipe for something obscure and difficult, created by one of the judges. Sometimes, these expert bakers (the sorts of people who would make crackers from scratch for a dinner party) have no idea what the thing is even supposed to look like.

This is a very long way of saying that a Buzzfeed writer made a season's worth of technical challenges and failed spectacularly.

When I was 12, I went to London and saw an exhibit similar to this new one. Plaster casts of people killed in Pompeii - just whoa.

In honor of the day, here's my Columbus Day post from a few years back. 

Apparently, part of Brooklyn's reputation is day drinking. Which, huh? Who the hell are these people? I mean, probably unemployed trust fund hipsters, aka trustafarians. But who is basing Brooklyn's reputation on the behavior of dilettante newbies? Probably test fund hipsters with low paying media jobs.

Anyhoodle, a bunch of Nouveau Brooklynites were out drinking when they had the idea to create the Brooklyn Paranormal Society. The group tries to contact ghosts, but not until after they've had a few drinks. They call themselves Boo-zers. Things got so silly that even the people in attendance were getting annoyed. And a ghost may have actually asked them to leave. Which sounds about right.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Monday Links

Here, read some stuff that I read.

Does Borat hold up on rewatch? Apparently, it does.

T'was ballpoint pens that killed cursive, not computers. 

If Stephen Colbert Were Your Dad

Stop doing stupid shit on Facebook in the name of raising cancer awareness. we're all aware of cancer. And posting nonsense on Facebook does nothing to help people with cancer. No, starting a conversation about cancer when someone bitches at you for participating in a stupid Facebook game does not help anyone with cancer. And since these idiotic games include making people post pregnancy announcements, it's pretty fucking insulting to infertile people. No, you're not just anything. You're being an ass.

Ahem. And, as I mentioned on FB the other day, posting pictures of pink ribbons doesn't help either. It can even be hurtful to all the cancer patients, survivors and loved ones you know who just want to stop being aware of cancer for a few minutes.

The cutest ghost story ever