Dip

March 16th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Food | Soapbox | Whining - (0 Comments)

In which I don’t understand.

Why do store-bought dips suck?

I bought a huge container of artichoke-jalapeno dip last weekend, and while it isn’t exactly inedible, it’s really not good.

You can safely buy salsa — well, many of them, at least — and those sort of 70’s-style chip dips (like French onion or whatever), and a few bean or cheese dips, from, like, Tostitos.

But guacamole? Awful. Creamy spinach or artichoke dips? Bad. I’ve never bought a hummus that wasn’t mediocre at best, and bitter at worst.

Which is so weird, because it seems like pre-made dips would be really easy to get right. Especially hummus! Or spinach and/or artichoke dip, or guacamole!

In which I’m dieting.

Tired (again) of being fat and miserable. Dieting (again) in an effort to be less fat and less miserable.

As a vegetarian, I find it very difficult to do really low-carb, so I’m doing a combination of “as few carbs as possible” and calorie restriction.

Eating a lot of eggs, tofu, Boca burgers, olives, and nuts.

Diet jello or Crystal Light when I’m desperate for a “treat.”

CURRENT STATUS: Desperate for a bowl of fettuccine Alfredo. Or mac ‘n’ cheese. Seriously. WANT. So, so bad.

I’m in my third week. I’ve lost a few inches off my waist, have more energy, and feel better overall. My nighttime teeth-grinding and snoring seem to be reducing. I’m meditating daily and ticking off the boxes on my housewifery list with much less struggle. My laundry is done. My mood is much improved (although being off the phones at work while I’m on the 90-day chat pilot also helps).

But I’m still fat. My current hip measurement is forty-three inches, which is insane for a person with a 30″ inseam.

Being fat is miserable. Fatigue, bloating, back pain, low energy, and a pervasive feeling of dis-ease and discomfort.

But beans are a huge part of my usual diet, and I’m missing them. (I had half a cup of refried beans yesterday, but they’re high in carbs, and so are rationed. I miss them.)

Tofu is so boring. OMFG. I fry it in ghee with spices, and put it in broth or eat it with sriracha mayo for dip, but it’s so boring.

Fried tofu

One gets bored of eggs. And you can only eat a single can of tuna per week if you don’t want to over-mercury yourself… so getting enough protein is hard when you’re a lacto-ovo pescatarian-who-is-really-mostly-vegetarian.

But seriously: a huge plate of creamy, gooey noooooodles, with garlic French bread?! And a lovely, light salad? Am I right?!

Or a broccoli-cheddar pot pie with lots of gravy, or a baguette with brie!

Gah!

Oh, well. No refined carbs for me. I guess it’s more omelets.

Feta omelet

Current status

February 5th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Domestic Goddess | Food - (0 Comments)

In which it’s Superb Owl Sunday, and I’m not even sure who’s playing!

It’s 1:24 in the afternoon and I’ve already downed this:

Bloody Mary

(It’s a brilliant bloody mary with lots of pickle juice.)

And this:

Tostada

(A mostly-homemade bean tostada of excellent excellence.)

Life is a wonderful — and delicious and tipsy — thing!

Force it through a sieve!

December 9th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Food | Recipes - (2 Comments)

In which I’m astonished at the texture!

I like to read recipes. I have liked to do so since they were in actual books rather than on the internet.

I especially like to read old recipes. The oldest through the newest, to see what’s changed and what’s the same. Ancient recipes, medieval recipes, 20’s recipes, 40’s recipes. War time recipes, Southern recipes, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean and Indian and Ethiopian, I like to read recipes.

Well, even in the first version of The Joy of Cooking I ever owned, which was an 80’s version, they sometimes directed you to “force it,” whatever it was, “through a sieve.”

In fact, a surprising number of older recipes direct the cook to force “it,” the soup or sauce or whatever, through a sieve, before adjusting the seasonings and serving.

I have never in my life forced anything through a sieve, because I assumed that modern blenders obviated the need.

I WAS INCORRECT AS FUCK.

Here’s the scenario:

Yesterday, I made broccoli cheddar soup in the electric pressure cooker. I used a bag of cheap, frozen broccoli, because it’s been so long since I’ve bought cheap, frozen broccoli that I’d forgotten why nobody ever buys cheap, frozen broccoli: the bags are always half-filled with stems rather than florets, and the stems are woody as fuck. Every. Single. Time.

Once cooking was done I opened the Instant Pot, removed the liner, and carried it over to the counter, where I proceeded to blend the soup with the immersion blender. Super excited to nom down a bowl of homemade soup! Ladled some into a bowl, toasted up some whole wheat homemade sourdough, and sat down at the table.

Delicious!

Except, um, a little fiber of stem. Kind of unpleasant, but not a big deal–

And another. And another.

And another!

Aaaaand basically this soup is inedible, because after every spoonful you’re taking bits of what basically amount to centimeter-long hairs out of your mouth.

UGH!

Later that evening, I blended it again, well past what your typical broccoli cheddar is like, far into cream soup territory.

Tasted it again.

Same fucking thing: tiny little hair-like fibers in every mouthful!

So there was only one thing left, before throwing out the whole pot: force it through a sieve.

sieve

Turns out something that thick will not go through a sieve on its own, hence the word “force.” Turns out you use the back of a big spoon (I used a small ladle) to push it through. Doesn’t take too long, once you find the right spoon.

And then, OH. MY. GOD. The texture! Not only is that stupid stem fiber gone, but they are not fucking kidding about this forcing-it-through-a-sieve bullshit. What comes out is silky smooth and luxurious and amazing.

How have I never done this before?!

Moral: If it says force it through a sieve, then fucking force it through a sieve.

Even if you’ve used modern blending equipment. Just do it. It’s so worth it!

In which there are a variety of reversible, seasonally appropriate motherfucking handmade placemats!!!

When your mom is psychic:

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You buy a table and you think, damn, some placemats sure would be great.

AND THEN YOUR MOM SENDS YOU A BOX OF THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE BLUE, AND THERE’S, LIKE, DIFFERENT ONES FOR MAJOR HOLIDAYS AND SEASONS AND STUFF, AND SHE MADE THEM HERSELF, AND NOW YOU’RE LIKE FUCK SEPTEMBER, IT NEEDS TO BE OCTOBER ALREADY SO I CAN USE THE HALLOWEEN ONES!

Place mats

They’re like little blankets for your table, really.

In which I wax enthusiastic about a very old product!

Even with shipping, I got a frying pan, a sauce pan, and two lids for $25. Which is a really decent price, considering you could easily pay almost that for a lidded 6″ non-stick that you’d have to throw out and replace in two years.

Well, I just bought these

Behold the P-81-B, which is the 1-pint covered sauce pan on the left, and the P-83-B, the 6-1/2 inch covered skillet you see on the right! The “P” series ran from 1958 to 1972, so these pans are 44 years old at the very youngest, and they could easily be older than I am by a decade.

These things are awesome! They heat up just as fast as cheap non-stick pans, and while they’re not non-stick per se, you can fry eggs and hamburgers in them with a little bit of butter and nothing sticks!

They’re also a pure and angelic white, so they look antiseptic as fuck. They scrub clean with remarkable ease.

Making dinner

They’re small and they have lids. I find that I’m cooking in them over much lower flame than I would with bigger pans, and of course lids keep the heat in too. Today I’ve fried a couple of eggs and a hamburger over very low flame in not much time at all. So they’re unexpectedly fuel-economical. Who knew!

And while you can’t buy either of these particular pieces new anymore, Corning Ware still offers some of the casseroles in this pattern. (I totally want them, and no doubt they’re worth every penny of the retail price, but if I do buy them I’ll probably buy them used because I’m cheap. You can almost see why so many companies went for planned obsolescence rather than quality when you contemplate that Corning Ware’s 50-year-old pieces are viably competing with their brand-new products.)

I love their sizes; great for cooking for one or two. (Not to mention great for not cooking far too much food every time you step up to the stove.) I’m not really sure why pan sizes have grown and grown when family sizes are smaller; I do know that when I was learning to cook I always made far too much food because the pots and pans were so big.

Knowing that the sauce pan holds exactly enough soup for two small bowlsful makes me happy.

I’m pretty sure there are a couple of these in my g’ma’s kitchen, but I didn’t cook with them much (beyond occasionally using one to put something in the toaster oven). I always used the small non-stick to fry or scramble eggs rather than the Corning Ware frying pan; habit, I suppose. Plus they look like they should stick, after years of using Teflon-coated pans, but they don’t.

I think between these and a decent cast iron pan or two, a person could easily give up cheap, disposable non-stick pans entirely! (I can’t speak for high-dollar non-stick cookware, because I’ve never had any.)

I love these pans!

In which there’s a recipe.

I’ve been eating these all week.

IMG_20160623_175326_kindlephoto-297278584

They’re really just bean tostadas, but you should make some anyway because they’re fantastic.

This is a strange but delicious guacamole. Make some. (Click on the pic for the recipe.)

Cottage Cheese Guacamole

Now put it in the fridge to chill.

Put some grated cheese — I used a Mexican three-cheese blend — on a fried corn tortilla/tostada shell.

IMG_20160623_174836

Nuke until melted. I do mine for 33 seconds.

IMG_20160623_175058

Top with, in this order: bubbling-hot refried beans (black, ideally, but I had regular refried pinto beans on hand), diced onions, salsa or hot sauce, shredded lettuce, a dollop of the cottage cheese guacamole, and diced tomatoes.

Eat your tostadas.

IMG_20160623_175305

Here’s a salsa recipe, if you want one. (Click on the pic for the recipe.)

Salsa Roja Recipe

Five Inches

December 21st, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Food | Health - (5 Comments)

In which I went on a half-assed diet the Monday after Thanksgiving because I was fucking miserable in my own body.

On Thanksgiving day I did not measure my waist, but I’d measured it awhile before so I knew it was 40 inches.

40 inches! My waist! That’s fucking insane! I’m 5’4″; not even my hips should be 40 inches. But there it was, obesity, as a result of a completely unregulated diet.

tape measure

As you probably know, I fell in love with a boy a few years ago and moved two thousand miles to be with him. He’s awesome and I’m totally glad I did, but, well. He’s male. And he’s 13 years younger than me. He eats whatever the fuck he wants when he wants it, just like I did at his age, and I fell back into the habit of pizza and potatoes and bread and Basmati, because that’s how he eats and it’s nice to eat together.

But I’m not 35! I can’t eat white bread and white rice and pasta and potatoes! (Well, I can, obviously, but not without getting totally fucking fat. Which is what happened. Under the skin of my back is basically a slab of solid fat, from neck to ass. It’s terrible how much fat I’ve packed on this little frame.)

So the Monday after turkey day I went back on the diet I was on 3 years ago when I got so slender: basically, modified vegetarian Atkins. Which means I’m not eating white stuff or refined stuff for the time being, and I’m using an app to track my food intake with the goal of keeping my daily net carbohydrate intake to about 40 grams.

In three weeks, I’ve lost five inches off my waist. Five inches! In three weeks! (I have no idea what I weigh, because we don’t have a scale, but seriously, who gives a fuck what they weigh.)

I feel so much better! Being so fat makes me utterly miserable. My feet and hands swell up and I’m forever exhausted and disinterested and lazy. I had an experience on Thankgsiving weekend when, after getting up from having sat at my desk for a few hours, I found my legs from thighs on down to be so swollen and water-logged that they felt like sausages, and the skin on the bottom of my feet felt like it would split. It was awful.

Not to mention how terrible the hangovers are when your metabolism’s all fucked up. Basically totally incapacitating.

It’s also amazing at how immediately the body responds when you stop feeding it pasta, white rice, potatoes, and white bread at every turn. And no trips to the gym required!

It’s still a diet, in the sense that one must abstain from nomming certain things that taste good (I’m looking at you, Mesa Pizza’s peerless portabello bleu pesto), but it’s so much easier than low-fat calorie-counting. For snacks, I have olives and cheese cubes and walnuts instead of potato chips. Breakfast is eggs with veggies and cheese, or a plate of foule with a hard boiled egg and olive oil. Dinner’s a tuna melt on Jesus bread, or bean & cheese nachos (the number of chips being dependent on my carb count for the day). Heavy cream in one’s coffee is delicious. Very dark chocolate is allowed. Butter on anything you like.

In place of hash browns, I sautée cabbage in butter with salt & pepper. There’s an edible cauliflower “dough” one can use for garlic-cheese “bread” sticks. There’s spaghetti squash as a pasta substitute. You’re never hungry, but you pretty much have to eat at home because restaurant food is — with the exception of, say, burrito or sub sandwich bowls — universally rife with refined carbohydrates.

So, in a couple months I hope to have my waist down to under 30″, and my physical misery vanquished, and my health much improved. (Well, as improved as it can be for a sedentary hedonist, at any rate!)

Being fat sucks. Whenever I get fat, I develop an amazed respect for those persons who are truly grossly obese and still go to work every damned day, and get their laundry done, and raise children. Everything’s so difficult when you’re always tired, always hungry, and too big for comfort. Not to be terribly crass, but when my waist was 40″ around I could barely wipe my own ass: I have no idea how even bigger people manage. My toenails are still dragon talons as I’m waiting for another inch or two to go away before I tend to them; sitting folded in half for even the few minutes it takes to trim and clean one’s toenails is disturbingly uncomfortable when you’re too fat to bend over your own gut.

Furthermore, I feel terrible that a lot of really big people are big because they’re poorer and have to buy the cheaper food, most of which is nothing but low-fat refined carbohydrates, like boxed mac ‘n’ cheese, TV dinners, ramen bowls, and drinks, and also that the government is still endorsing the low-fat diet theory publicly even though it’s been thoroughly debunked by over forty years of study.

At any rate, I got fucking huge, which often happens in new relationships, and it was fun while it lasted, but I’m off white bread and potatoes and I’ll be back to normal by spring. Smooches!

In which I’m working full-time and NOTHING (in terms of domestic chores) IS BEING DONE!

Floors are filthy. Sheets really need to be laundered. Tub could use a scrub. Not sure when I last brushed my hair. Have done zero Christmas shopping and don’t even have Christmas cards, let alone have any of them addressed and ready to mail.

I’m working 40 hours a week, and every minute is tightly scheduled because I’m in training. Five weeks of training. Five weeks of Power Point, PDFs, videos, interactives, lectures, TeamSpeak breakout sessions, and teach-back presentations.

And a firewalled VPN that has the shortest whitelist I’ve ever seen. (Honestly, it’s amazing I’ve never worked behind a tight firewall before, and I not only understand but respect why they feel the need to keep the network, distributed as it is, as secure as possible. But there’s still this sort of vague sense of rage about not being able to surf on your own machine when you realize you can’t surf, not even for a second, even if you are on the clock. #firstworldproblems)

Returning from break

While the training itself is of very high quality, and the instructor is freakin’ amazing, for me a lot of stress comes from the fact that you have to clock in and out EXACTLY ON TIME. All lunch breaks are EXACTLY thirty minutes, never 29 or 31, not ever. (Thirty minutes is barely enough time to eat, let alone prepare anything. And since lunch break keeps moving, good luck getting delivery when you have to order 45 minutes beforehand.) The ten-minute clock-punch leeway given by, like, every other employer in the world, ever is simply not present: if you’re too early — you’re not allowed to clock in more than 5 minutes before your scheduled start time — or too late, you’re fired. Period.

My class of 20 new hires is down to 12; four just never turned up at all (which is weird to me, considering all the crap you have to do, including proving your machine meets standards and going to have employment documents notarized, to even get hired in the first place). The other four have dropped out at various points during the past three weeks, probably, I’m assuming, due to simply not being back from breaks and lunch on time.

It’s so rigid it’s basically killing me, except for the weird perqs: I can go to work unwashed and barely dressed if I want (which I don’t. I usually get up, dress in something I could probably wear to a real office only without the bra, tidy up the place, and eat breakfast and make coffee or tea before my shift) and my commute (from bed) is about two feet.

I can look out the window and see the season change and watch the neighborhood. When I clock off at exactly eight-thirty, I have no freezing commute home in the dark and Scott doesn’t have to come pick me up because I’m already home. He never has to come home to an empty apartment. I never have to wear uncomfortable shoes.

And I’m making a buck more an hour than I was at The Home Depot!

But the time micromanaging — which I understand, in context; this is a distributed call center and they probably have a huge number of employees who just don’t give a fuck about the company’s scheduling needs — is quite wearing. I mean, I get to work on time when I’m working normal jobs, but having never been required to be accurate to less than 60 seconds, it’s stressing me out. I live in fear of something happening that makes me 5 minutes late — spending a couple extra minutes in the bathroom, having to buzz in the FedEx guy, losing track of time while standing over the sink horking down a sandwich — and getting instantly terminated without even finishing the damned training.

Once I’m “in production,” their in-house jargon for being trained and “on the floor” taking calls, though, I’ll be able to drop down to part-time and get my nasty floors swept and mopped. (I know that some women work full-time and keep their floors clean; I am not one of those women. I can barely even stay top of the dishes.) I understand breaks and lunches will move around a bit if one’s stuck on a call, and that it will still be important to be back on time, but I think it’ll feel a bit more loose, subjectively, somehow.

At that point I think I’ll feel very fortunate to have a work-from-home job, even if it is taking customer service calls for Comcast, a company almost universally loathed. (I’m lucky enough to be supporting their home security products rather than, say, doing retention for enraged cable internet customers under contract or whatever, so I doubt it’ll entail getting screamed at for 24 hours a week.) I’m sure once I’m fully familiar with the various tools and call expectations I’ll be fine and my sense of stress will go away.

As long as it’s part-time. I’ve done too many years of call center work already in my career and there’s really no way I can be truly empathetic for 40 hours a week for very long. I know my call center customer service limitations (and so do you, if you’ve ever worked with me before. I can be a horrible, condescending cunt over the phone, and nobody wants that) and I respect them! So I’ll work F/T for just as long as it takes to really get a handle on production and then I’ll try to get down to 20 hours, if possible, but I’ll do 24 if they really insist. After all, what’s four more hours if don’t have to wear a bra.

~+~+~+~+~+
Scott and I stayed up absurdly late both Friday and Saturday nights this weekend, so when I got out of bed this afternoon and realized that HOLY SHIT, SUDDENLY IT’S THE SUNDAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING!!!1!, I went ahead and paid InstaCart to bring me my groceries since Scott was still in bed. They took hours to get here, but when they did all I had to do was put things away!

Even after taking an hour to form my shopping list, I still managed to forget the baguette for the spinach-artichoke dip and soda for the cranberry vodka, but otherwise all the Thanksgiving day shopping is done, and I have stuff to eat for breakfast and lunch for the next three days. I also did the shopping for my internet Secret Santa recipient today, so that’s basically sussed. GOD I LOVE THE INTERNET.

Because I have the great luck to be in training just now, I actually get four days off for the holiday weekend, like a regular grownup adult-type person. (But after I’m in production, I’ll probably never get another holiday off, ever, unless I request it off a quarter of a year in advance or trade somebody for it. (Apparently most holidays are dead, though, and if they’re dead enough you might be offered voluntary time off so you’re not stuck sitting at your desk for hours doing nothing.)) So excited to have four whole days off together! So looking forward to our second Thanksgiving together!

Relish tray

Our Thanksgiving menu is going to be completely traditional this year: the usual relish tray items, from deviled eggs to olives to stuffed celery. The spinach-artichoke dip we made last year and decided should always be our T-day tradition because it’s amazeballs. Ham steak (for him; I’m having tofu, of course), mashed potatoes, sage and onion dressing, green bean casserole, and mushroom gravy. Cherry pie (or cobbler — I haven’t decided yet) and vanilla bean ice cream for dessert. Potato skins in the evening when we’re peckish again with our celebratory adult beverages.

Friday I’m going bring the tree and decorations up from the basement. Super excited! No idea where I’m going to put our little tree (because I really fancy the idea of somehow getting it right in front of the living room window so it’s visible from the street) but I’m sure something will present itself.

I need to go order Christmas cards and see what else I can have shipped so I don’t have to go anywhere in person. Happy three-day work week, everyone working traditional schedules in America!

Old Fashioned Frosting

August 29th, 2015 | Posted by Mush in Family | Food | Recipes - (0 Comments)

In which there’s a recipe from my grandma.

I came across the image below from a few years ago, remembered how really delicious that frosting was, and realized that I have no idea how to make old fashioned frosting.

So I googled it. Weird results.

(I mean, I’m off carbs right now, but it’s unlikely that I’ll never eat another cupcake. A girl never knows when she might be called upon to produce, you know, delicious treats for some event or another. Best remedy this lack of knowledge!)

Low tea

So I emailed my G’ma and asked her for the recipe. This is what she said:

Somewhere out there there is probably a recipe for that frosting with accurate measurments but this is my way.

You will need powdered sugar, butter, or if you want white frosting use shortening, and some liquid.

I melt about two tablespoons of butter, add about equal amount of cream, and slowly add powdered sugar. A little liquid absorbs a lot of sugar, so add slowly mix until spreadable.

Then the fun begins, add any flavoring you like or spice, food coloring for fun. Powdered cocoa if you want chocolate. A tiny touch of mint is good in choc. Orange juice or lemon juice can be used instead of cream. Top with whatever.

I have used molasses in place of cream when frosting a spice cake. The more sugar used and liquid the more frosting you get till finally you can frost dozens, so that is why you add sugar slowly. After a few times you will have it perfect for your project.

Basically a procedure for making delicious frosting in any flavor in any quantity! And much better than that crap in a tub from the grocery store, in my opinion, although I have been known to eat that stuff by the spoonful on occasion.