Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Qwah-hawg. Not Coh-hawg!

I love The Family Guy, but people, please. It's "Quaw-hawg", not "Coh-hawg".
End of story.

I'm roasting a chicken.
I'm still unemployed.

It's one week till Christmas.

Any questions?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Slush-induced Tantrum

I came undone this afternoon; for those of you who don't know me well, it's something I do cada vez en cuando.

My day had ominous beginnings. This morning, bright and early, I awoke to the mellifluous sprinkly sounds of freezing rain. Seems like we're experiencing the beginnings of a precipitous winter season here in Rhode Island. I'm sick of it already.

I took my chicken out of the fridge to salt it in preparation for roasting it tonight, for the Dinnerman's return from a lovely weekend in New Jersey. It stunk to high heaven; clearly it was spoiled, even though the sticker had tomorrow's date on it.
Ok, thought I, I have the whole day with nothing pressing to do, so I will exchange my rotten chicken!
It appeared to be raining at that point, not sleeting or snowing. No problem!

Emerging from my warm, dry condo, I took note that the parking lot had not been plowed. It was 1pm. Remind me again - where do our condo fees go?

I backed the car out of its spot, then cleaned it off while it heated up, per the usual routine.
I got back in, threw it in reverse, and...uh oh!

No go. I was spinning my wheels.

Long story short, I found a shovel and spent the better part of an hour throwing a fullblown tantrum in the parking lot - while shoveling heavy slush, cursing the day I was born, and cursing New England weather and the northeast in general.
I do believe I provided entertainment for all the people who live in my building as they were coming and going effortlessly in their SUVs. They had the pleasure of watching a crazy nutcase with snot running down her face hack away at the ice, bitching, moaning, hyperventilating, screaming and throwing things.

I did get the car back into its spot, but I abandoned my chicken-exchange mission. I retreated into my humble abode, not to emerge for the rest of the day.

Then I baked a cake and drank a Manhattan.
Then the Dinnerman walked through the door.

I feel better now.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Al Forno in the Storm

The Dinnerman is away this weekend, which means at least one thing: fish for Steph. Lots of fish.

Last night we considered trudging up the street for sushi. But that didn't seem right - sushi in a snowstorm? And who wants to walk that far? Two years ago we were intrepid, but you know, that was then. The folly of youth...

As we walked out into the white stillness, we smelled our answer to the question of dinner: Al Forno.
Of course!

Dashing through the snow, we found the parking lot empty. They were open, though, and who do you think was populating the marble bar and cozy tables? All the people from our building. People who don't have to drive to eat a grilled pizza or have a cocktail in front of the roaring fire. The lucky ones.

We bellied up to the bar and made merry with our fellow condo owners. We talked about the big things, the little things, the storm traffic, the holidays. We laughed. We cried. We shared dirty jokes. We cringed when a woman came in to pick up her rigatoni-and-pizza-to-go and made the world end because Al Forno doesn't stock plastic utensils. (She even asked the bartender to have the chef cut up her rigatoni...scary! Honey, that'll be the day. We did have a good laugh about it after she left...but by that time, though, we were all laughing at everything.)

One antipasto and one spicy grilled pizza later (oh, and don't forget the Maker's Manhattans!), we high-stepped home through the snow. Then we curled up on the couch with Saturday Night Live's Christmas Special. What a way to end a storm!

Al Forno
577 South Main Street
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 273-9760

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Steph's Gravy

Steph's Ragu
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats

Finally, a picture. Just wanted to give the gift of a visual to all (3, maybe) of my loyal readers.

(Why do so many of you like Scott toilet paper? It's like tracing paper! And Charmin? My God, that stuff is just too damn fluffy!)

Vote!!! Voice your opinion about the tp!

My Toes on a Puerto Rico Beach, and Fear of Hunger

Here's a pic to help get your mind off the snow. I've been listening to the news for the last hour, and it's really funny to hear how the reporters attempt to work everyone up into a frenzy.

"Drivers are at an absolute standstill on area highways; it's like a scene from a movie!" (this was said no fewer than 5 times)

"The state was well-prepared for this storm, the problem is that everyone left work at noon. They should have stayed home, or staggered the times that they left."

"Cars are running out of gas they've been stuck in traffic for so long!"

They have one good point though, that drivers tend to clog up intersections in their hastiness to get through red lights. They rush to get through and then get "stuck" in the middle of the intersection, blocking the traffic that has the current green light from getting through, and creating a vicious cycle. But why harp on this during a snowstorm? It happens every day around here...drivers are remedial in our fair state. We need major reform - a much more difficult and recurrent driver's test, for one thing.

I also made the mistake of watching the news last night before the Dinnerman and I had a wonderful evening with a friend at The University Club (very exclusive and beautiful in an old Benefit Street/East Side house, very fawning staff, very waspy guests, very ordinary food, very delicious Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon).

This resulted in some frenzied grocery shopping this morning, you know, just in case we get snowed in and just so we don't starve!!!

After postponing my afternoon plans, I passed time making a delicious sausage and lentil soup with cabbage, because I've been on a cabbage kick lately.

Around 4, I cleaned off the car and drove around the block. That took a half hour, because of all the traffic trying to get on 195.

Now I am sitting on the floor sipping a screwdriver, listening to the damn news as ambient noise. Noise is really what it is.

Anyway, I have been thinking lately about how hunger is related to fear. I read an entry on April's blog where she explicitly noted this connection, and for me it's definitely true.

Here's a link to her blog: http://www.mprize.org/blogs

Here's the relevant excerpt:
"At the base of it, hunger is about fear. Fear that you'll never eat again, never have your needs met. But if you know you'll be okay, no matter what, the fear goes away."

Maybe it's especially true for women, who have a tendency to nest, and for people who lived through The Depression. The Dinnerman noted long ago my tendency to worry about where my next meal is coming from. I think I get this from my grandmother, who lived through the Depression, and who has had much happen in her life to set her world on end, to instill fear.
As a child, I didn't understand why she was so afraid, seemingly of anything and everything. She worried about us kids swimming in the pool, worried that she may never again see the people she loved (she would never say "goodbye" - it was always "so long"). She worried about not having enough food and about running out of gas. She used to worry about not getting to appointments on time, and worry when she didn't get her electric bill by the usual time of the month.
I then learned a bit about her life - how she was widowed at 23 when her husband was shot down in a plane in the war, pregnant with her 2 year old daugher in the hospital with pneumonia. She lost the baby.
Then, after remarrying (my grandfather) and having several more children, she lost a baby girl to crib death.
She lost her father in his fifties. She lost her mother.
She was widowed a second time.

My grandmother was afraid because she was well acquainted with losing people she loved. Because she was well acquainted with having to survive without what she needed.

My dad described it well, years before I could even comprehend what he meant, "She's very scared, and she's very strong."

Yes, grandma, you are very strong. I love you, and I miss you. And I understand you now, if just a little bit.

For now I am safe, I am warm, I am dry, and I have plenty to eat and drink. Most importantly, I am a well-loved woman. And that is more than enough.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Best Laid Plans of Boneless Breasts

We had grand plans to grill chicken, asparagus, and hot peppers tonight, but alas, it rained.

Emerging from spinning with my favorite instructor (surprise!) to the opening of the skies, we knew it was not to be.
The letdown was assuaged with vodka tonics (and vodka Clear Splashes) and the marinated mass of victuals went into the oven.
It's never a night of cooking in our place until the smoke alarm pierces the air. It just did. Actually it's a good timer, and I am somewhat to blame. I have this compelling urge to broil all the time.

Time to eat!

On another note, Dr. Dinnerman and I are just loving Family Guy. I can't believe I never got into this show until the last couple of months! It's spot-on with the whole Rhode Island craziness thing. We've been laughing outloud. That's never a bad thing.

I may not know how to make my links look pretty, but I'm damn proud that I figured out how to upload photos to my Flickr account. It's slow going, but it's happening. Good things take time.

Check out my pics! They look better on a screen than in the viewfinder, I must say.

I put some up from our trip to Italy in June, and other random ones...I got a million in my camera still. More to come.

Continued apologies for the ugly linkages.

Pensive Stinky

Pensive Stinky
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
Introducing Stinky the Cat, the sweetest Ragdoll known to man! Stinky is not my cat, she belongs to my good friend. I am a cat person currently living without a cat due to the Dinnerman's allergies ("The cat wheal was bigger than the histamine control, Steph!!!").

Thank goodness Stinky resides a mere 2 floors up.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Blogger with the Same Name!

I must alert all my loyal readers (do I have any readers at all?) to another Rhode Island blogger who shares my name. Stephanie Does (http://stephaniedoes.com/). She talks about food. In and around Providence.

And she's a lot more to the point than I am.

How exciting is that? Little Rhody is on the map!

(Sorry about the messy linkages lately, but I am apparently retarded and cannot make "neat links" happen. You know, when it rains...
This. Is. My. Cry. For. Help!!!)

Fantastic Phonatic

Inspired by The Amateur Gourmet's recent post, My First Pho, http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2007/12/my_phirst_pho.html), I thought that the Dinnerman should be afforded a similar opportunity.
What better scenario for a steaming bowl of aromatic goodness than a chilly New England Saturday afternoon? Actually, it felt downright balmy here yesterday in relation to our recent deep freeze. The sun was shining, the snow was melting...if it weren't for a little wind I'd have thought we were in the tropics.
So, we donned our hooded "Nanook of the North" coats and set off on foot up to the bustle College Hill. Our destination? Phonatic (http://www.takeouttonight.com/menus/rhode%20island/providence/02906/Phonatic%20Restaurant_4014541699/Lunch-Dinner/index.html)on Angell Street. The Dinnerman, ever the skeptic, kept asking me if I knew where I was going and if I was sure he would like it. Would it fill him up? How could it fill him up if it only cost $7.50? In his usual way he doubted me. But in my usual way I stood my ground, and we were both better for it.

I'd heard mixed reviews about this Vietnamese restaurant, but aside from the absence of vodka to pour into the sparkling limeade, the Dinnerman and I declared it a fault-free and inexpensive outing - we'll be back, soon.

We started with a small order of the beef wrapped in pepper leaves - 5 skewered cyliders of marinated chopped beef wrapped in the leaves of the aromatic pepper leaf (piper sarmentosum (http://www.asiafood.org/glossary_1.cfm?alpha=C&wordid=3252&startno=1&endno=25), which the Vietnamese call "bo la lot" and is related to the betel leaf), served atop shredded lettuce and scallions with a vinegary sauce. I thought this was delicious - it had a very fresh flavor, reminiscent of citrus and cilantro. Missing, however, were the advertised rice paper wrappers for rolling.

Onto the main event: we each set off in the pursuit of pho totality (photality?) with the Pho Phonatic. This was a giant bowl of beef noodle soup filled with thinly sliced rare beef eye round (cooked by the heat of the broth), well-done brisket, flank, tendon, tripe, and beef meatballs. The broth was so rich and delicious; it had been simmering for a very long time. Also floating in the broth were a mound of rice noodles, slivers of white onions, and chopped scallions. Served alongside was a plate of fresh bean sprouts, sliced jalapenos, lime wedges, and basil. You stir up the entire mess, watching the raw or rare eye round cook, squirt in some Sriracha hot sauce, sprinkle with bean sprouts, jalapenos and basil, and squirt in the lime juice. Now you are ready to eat!
I tried to inform the Dinnerman of what I know to be proper pho technique: chopsticks in dominant hand (right for us), spoon in the other hand (that would be left), lift noodle with chopsticks, deposit into spoon, slurp. I also spoon broth into my mouth with my right hand, and pick meat up with chopsticks with my right hand. But at the end of the day, you do whatever you can to get the pho into your mouth. You proceed in your own phashion to make the pho your own.
And yes, it's always good to slurp.

I brought home half of my "solids". All the Dinnerman was left with was broth. But what broth it was! This morning, after a night in the fridge, it was jiggling. That's some serious stock, people. A lot of collagen was infused. Exquisite.

There is so much more to the menu that we want to sample...but how can a person go to Phonatic and not order pho?

165 Angell Street
Providence, RI 02906
(401) 454-1699

Can someone please help me! How do I post links without the entire address having to show up in the text? I thought I knew how to do it, but it hasn't been working for me...help!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Happy Birthday to My Dinnerman!

Today Dr. Dinnerman turns 41.

In honor of his birthday, I will explain the origin of his blog moniker:
Years ago, a local hospital had a "yuk truk" that pulled up outside the Emergency Department around 2 or 3 am every morning. Upon its arrival you would hear over the loudspeaker, "Paging Dr. Dinnerman, Dr. Dinnerman, please report to emergency."

The name seemed to suit him. It stuck.

And yes, I called him that before I started this blog.

As a bonus, I will explain the origin of my blog title:
The Dinnerman and I were out to eat with his mom, sister, brother in law, niece and nephew.
In response to the Dinnerman's complaints of getting too fat, his mom replied, "Why don't you eat what Steph eats!"
At the time, I ate lots of fish and vegetables. I still do, but not until after I've had my bacon, sausage, and steak.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Dinnerman. May you live a long, happy, and prosperous life. Here's to 41 more years together!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

EneMan Sits Atop Our Tree of Dysfunction

Two nights ago, I put up the Christmas tree that's been lying dormant in one or more of the Dinnerman's closets for almost 4 years. It was given to him by another woman from a "transitional" period, before he had the pleasure of my company. All things considered, I think I got over it in record time! And she's a nice girl...
Assembling the other-woman-tree was a much bigger pain in the ass than anticipated, but I do love to dive headlong into anything resembling a big production. Now I think it looks nice. I love the lights.

I broke out all the ornaments, then realized that we had no star, no angel for the top.

What we had was EneMan. EneMan crowns our Holiday Tree of Dysfunction.

'Tis the Season for Superglue in My Cracks

Cracks in my fingers, that is. Fingers.
In the winter my extremities dry out, then crack and bleed. That hurts. I fill said cracks with Superglue. They feel better.
End of story.
Goodbye and goodnight. You've been great, folks; I'll be here all week!

Compensatory Raves

Stuff I'm Loving:

1) Blogger. I am blogging at the gym, and the internet throws you off after a certain amount of time. During my last very negative and self-pitying post, I got dumped. But Blogger saved my post as a draft!
Thanks Blogger. It's the small things.

2) My gym. It's nice that my gym has internet access for members. I can hole up in this comfortable little room and blog when I am trying to avoid working out. Davol Fitness & Spa is the best gym. I had never felt comfortable in a gym until I joined this one. And it's a hop, skip and a jump from home. I can walk here. (Er, when it's not 15 degrees, that is)

3) Dr. Dinnerman. This should really be number 1. The Dinnerman is the best man I have ever known. He is so generous, funny, smart, witty, happy, kind, sensitive, caring, loving, and real. He gets me. He knows me, and still loves me in all my imperfect glory. For that I am eternally grateful. I am unspeakable happy and thankful that he has made his way into my life.

4) Our home, health, and minds. I live in a beautiful place. I live with the love of my life. We are both smart, healthy, capable people.

5) The web. I love the internet. I don't know what I would do without it.

6) My family. Even though there is some space between us right now, I love them all, miss them all, and they are always on my mind.

7) Fellow bloggers. You guys know who you are. There are so many smart, funny, articulate, interesting people out there. I could (and sometimes do) read all day.

8) Providence's restaurants. We've got some great food here, people. There's no denying it. I wonder if I'd survive in a place where the only "Italian" was the Olive Garden. But then, I can cook Italian food. That I know. How could I possibly live without Indian, Thai, Japanese, or Korean restaurants?

9) My ipod. Which I left at home tonight. Which has caused me to spend an hour bloging instead of on the elliptical. And now it's time to go home.
I hear the Dinnerman calling!

Random Rants

1) People here in Rhode Island are becoming progressively worse in their driving abilities day by day.

2) It's very cold this week. I can't get warm. I drink tea all day and wear layers and layers of clothing, and slather lotion on my hands and feet. I take a lot of high quality fish oil. But I remain cold, and my skin is still dry and cracking. Also, my hair gets really limp and stringy when it's dry out. My hair gets really curly when it's humid. My hair gets most curly when I am in Mexico. Curly is better. Mexico is calling.

3) I wrote a long and eloquent cover letter in response to a rather attractive job posting on craigslist this morning, and emailed the Dinnerman with the link to show him the great! job! I! applied for!
Lo and behold, the job posting had been taken down already, and I doubt it had been filled that quickly. Hmmm...was it put up by mistake?

4) The hallways of my building continue to be filled with cigar smoke. I actually called both the club owner and the Department of Health, because I just can't leave anything alone. The club owner said he had installed all these really expensive smoke eaters/air cleaners, and that he'd "look into it" when I mentioned that the hallway still stunk. He then told me he'd buy me a drink the next time I come down. He was nicer than I expected he'd be, but I just got the impression that he's just giving me lip service, you know? That nothing will change.
The Department of Health said that they didn't think there were any permits for cigar bars in the state. This may be true. However, the person I spoke with didn't seem to understand me when I told her that he has the permit to sell cigars and that establishments that sell cigars can have smoking on their premisis in this state. She did say she would talk to their lawyers and get back to me on this.
I am tired of expending so much energy on this! I keep telling myself that I will stop it, but I live there. I can't escape the continuous reminder. And then I get angry and indignant. Then I realize that this is Rhode Island, and things don't change here. People look the other way. There is very little effective infrastructure in place. No one knows anything; everyone gives you the runaround.
It would definitely help if I got out more, if I had a job. Which brings me to...

5) I send my resume out to dozens of job postings each week, and lately I have been getting no responses. I had several interviews in October, which resulted in a couple of situations where it was between me and another candidate (...) but since then, nothing. I know it's the holiday season, but I can't help wonder what is wrong with me. I never thought it would be this hard. Frustrating.

6) The Dinnerman's birthday is tomorrow, and I feel bad that I can't get him what I want to get him. If I had income, I'd order him a suckling pig and roast it in the oven. Or I'd take him to dinner. Or maybe I'd sign him up for the bacon of the month club. Or I'd buy him a watch. I know it's not about the material things, but just being unable to have the option is frustrating. And humbling.

7) I woke up with a sinus headache that hasn't left me all day. Of course I think it's because of the smoke in the halls.

8) In order to purchase pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) in this country, one must endure being treated like a criminal junkie. Retarded.

9) Equally retarded are the people at the neighborhood Rite Aid. I'd like to thank my cashier for her stellar customer service skills, which consisted of: staring into space and talking to other people while scanning my merchandise, making the whole process take twice as long as it should have; and handing me my receipt but not my change. When I mentioned this oversight, she proceeded to dig around in her own pocket for my change rather than open the register again. WTF?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Inclusion Criteria for Steph's Takeout Roster

Picture this: You are hungry. The thought of cooking, or even assembling something paralyzes your brain. Suddenly, you have a revelation light up your conscious mind. You can order some takeout!

You place your order, speaking articulately and with all the charm you can muster. You pick up your food, exchange pleasantries with the man behind the curtain...you even leave a generous 10% tip.

You get home. Your stomach growls in anticipation of greatness. You kick off your shoes, pour yourself a glass of your favorite libation. Then you open your bag.

Uh oh! Contents have shifted. Kung pao chicken has capsized! It's now glued to your container of white rice. Chicken teriyaki skewers have punctured their flimsy foil bag, and stab you in the hand when you try to intervene. And where's the hot mustard? They always forget the hot mustard...

Uh oh! You open your pizza box. The cheese is glued to the inside box top. And what's with the...green peppers? You ordered mushrooms and pepperoni. Where are the hot wings? Why is there a diet Coke in here? You hate diet Coke!

Uh oh! Where are the anchovies on your Caesar salad? There's butter, but how about the bread? Your onion rings have burned a hole through their styrofoam container and congealed into a soggy clump. And what are all these sticky ketchup packets for?

You believed that these things don't happen to those as successful, educated, and powerful as youself. But you, dear reader, just got screwed with the takeout.

It happens to the best of us. We all get those Valu-Pak coupons in the mail. We read the local paper's reviews. Even the yellow pages has a restaurant menu section these days. It's difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff - you just don't know what's what. But you know you gotta eat. So you take a chance.
There are ways to minimize the amount of trial and error involved. For one thing, it can't hurt to ask around! Talk to people who like to eat. Sometimes becoming a regular "taker outer" at a place helps you to get better treatment more consistently. Sometimes sitting down for a meal at a place helps - you get more "face time" with the staff. Sometimes tipping helps; sometimes speaking slowly and clearly helps, sometimes becoming friendly with the owner helps. Sometimes nothing helps.

Here's something that can't hurt - a list of what's important to a good takeout experience. I'll put it out there. Maybe it will start a revolution in a paper bag.

Inclusion Criteria for Steph's Takeout Rotation

1) Containers should neither leak nor disintigrate
In general, styrofoam and paper will not hold up to saucy and/or hot foods. Chinese takeout containers are paper, but seem to be coated with something so for the most part those are ok, with a couple of caveats: they must remain upright, closed, and not overfilled. Oh, and please, don't bend those metal handles. They never unbend well.
By far the best containers are plastic (I'm ready for the onslaught from the environmental police) with a good snap-into-place lid. There are the rectangular ones that are great for Chinese and Thai food, larger square ones that suit entrees and salads well, and those clear pint and quart soup containers that also hold saucy Indian dishes well.
Those round aluminum containers with the crimp-top arrangement are ok, provided the Chinese paper rules are followed*.

So, quick recap:
-Chinese paper, plastic with snappy lids, round aluminum with crimpy lids = ok.
-All manner of paper and/or styrofoam for hot and/or saucy dishes = not ok.

2) Orders should be accurate at least 95% of the time
Perfection is elusive. I know this. Even I make mistakes some of the time. So I feel that my 95% accuracy rule is very generous. Missing items, incorrect items, surprise additions, inappropriate condiments...these all create unnecessary angst for the taker outer. The whole point of getting takeout in the first place is to minimize said angst. 'Nuff said on this one.

3) Bags should be of appropriate size, packed efficiently, and have handles
People who say that size doesn't matter? They're wrong. The appropriately sized bag allows ample room for containers to remain upright without unwanted shifting. A talented packing person should have good common sense and not be spatially impaired. A big, heavy container does not balance well on top of delicate salad dressings. It's not Jenga, people. This is takeout we're talking about.
Handles make life easier. Plain and simple.

4) The bill should match the order
This one is pretty self-explanatory, and goes hand in hand with number 2. Don't charge me for things I didn't order. If you are going to charge me for something I didn't order, I'd much prefer it actually be physically present in my bag than not.

5) Cashier/bartender should be reasonably pleasant, or at least civil
I know this is Rhode Island, so this may be asking a bit much. Just try not to sneer at me if I show up in my gym clothes, ok? Especially if I tip you well. Just sayin'.

Whew! Glad I got that out of my system. I now proceed to give you...

Steph's Takeout Restaurant Roster

1) Parkside (http://www.parksideprovidence.com/parkside_home.html)
Parkside is great on all counts, for takeout and dining in. I love it so, and owe it a proper nod in a future post of its own. Relevant point: it's great for takeout. In addition to fulfilling all the essential criteria, they always have interesting specials and will read them to you nicely over the phone. They are probably the most consistent of all area takeout places I know - a class act.

Parkside Rotisserie & Bar
76 South Main Street
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 331-0003

2) Shanghai
Shanghai does a great job, though I've never actually been to the restaurant. They deliver, and they're fast. The only issues I've had are that they rarely make anything spicy enough (even if I say, "Extra, extra, extra, extra, extra spicy - 10 star spicy - not American spicy") and they sometimes forget the hot mustard.

272 Thayer Street
Providence, RI 02906
(401) 331-0077

3) Taste of India
I love this place for the food, but also for the warm and friendly proprietors. They always remember my name, and even my order. Plus, I get what I ask for. Kadai chicken, no cream, extra spicy means the same thing to them as it does to me.
How can you beat that?

Taste of India
230 Wickenden Street
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 421-4355

4) Sakura
Good, fresh sushi, really fast. The staff is a little brusque, but always nice to me (must be my innate charm). Nothing fancy, just good, fresh, fast sushi. Compared to Haruki East, it's a veritable bargain.

231 Wickenden Street
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 331-6861

Those are the big 4 for us. We order pizza on occasion (less frequently than I would if I lived with a man who actually liked pizza and viewed it as something other than college/drunk food, but I digress) and when we do, it's usually Pizza Pie-er and sometimes Fellini's, and they both meet the inclusion criteria.

So, readers, what are your favorite places for takeout? What are your takeout peeves?

*they must remain upright, closed, and not overfilled

Monday, December 3, 2007

Magic Shell Rocks My World - Hard

Watching Elaine squirt Hershey's syrup into Jerry's carton of Breyer's on tonight's Seinfeld episode, I was reminded of my love for the sugary, hydrogenated oil-laden, wet-to-hard epiphany in a bottle that is Magic Shell. This love began sometime in the mid-8os, and many a bottle was emptied at my hand before I read the ingredient list. (Damn the electric fence! Damn the electric fence!)

Magic Shell, why can't you make all that hocus pocus happen without the trans fats? Couldn't you fudge the results of whatever analysis you perform, to save our collective conscience from knowing the truth?

FDA, why can't we just eat shit and not know what's in it?

Now, now...that's not really what I want. I've ranted and railed long and loud against trans fats, eons before it was fashionable. But oh boy do I miss Magic Shell.

Public Service Announcement
If ever I lose function of my gray matter (at least the part which cares about trans fats), I beg of you: feed me some mint chocolate chip Häagen-Dazs with a bottle of Magic Shell. French Vanilla will be equally of value to my taste buds. And how did I achieve that fancy umlat? Cut and paste, baby...cut and paste.

I'll end this lovely post with a funny ice cream memory (I'll squeeze it in before the Dinnerman arrives with our Indian food).
Upon arriving home from school when I was perhaps 14 years of age, I opened the freezer in the hopes of finding some ice cream. Hooray! I grabbed the big carton of Neopolitan, which felt a little light, but whatever. That didn't make it past the back of my eager mind.
Proceeding blindly to scoop myself a bowl, I was already gone. Mmmmm...colloidal clumps of joy. Come to mama.
All the more disappointing then was my discovery of nothing but a thin layer of the goods coating the bottom of the container. Even more appalling was one of our kitchen spoons, frozen solid into the remains of the day. Thanks, sis!

That image will forever be indelibly etched into my mind. Another childhood memory. My shrink will find it priceless.

A to Z (with TMI)

ABCs of Me

Accent: I can turn on the "Rho Dylanduh" in me when I pahk the cah and eat my chowdah, but mostly I choose to suppress all evidence of having lived here for 34+ years from my speech. I consider it a small triumph whenever I hear someone tell me, "You don't sound like you're from here." I do, however, adore the Bostonian twang undercurrent in the Dinnerman's voice. I love it, I love it, I love it. I also hate when it's imitated badly - watch The Departed. The only two actors in that film with respectable accents are Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg. Really. Trust me on this one.

Booze: Maker's Mark Manhattan. On the rocks.

Chore I Hate: Scrubbing bathtubs, showers, and toilets. All else is covered easily by my OCD.

Dog or Cat: Historically cats. But I've never had a dog, and I do believe I'd love one since I crave attention and unconditional love.

Essential Electronics: My laptop, my ipod (with the iHome speaker - if you don't have one, do look into getting one. It's changed our lives).
The TV/DVD player, primarily so I can watch my 50-disc spindle of figure skating - all Gordeeva & Grinkov, all the time. (With a little Sasha Cohen sprinkled on top).

Favorite Cologne: Hanae Mori. I have the lotion and shower gel only, as DD has allergic tendencies when confronted with certain olfactory challenges.

Gold or Silver: Platinum!

Hometown: Born in Surburbia, RI, and moved to Providence for college. Have not yet left.

Insomnia: Yes. I fall asleep fine, but wake approximately every 2 hours from 1 am on. I am not a blythe personality.

Job Title: Resident Asshole.

Kids: None that I know of, to date.

Living arrangements: Living in blissful sin with Doctor Dinnerman. It's just the two of us with the occasional appearance of Steve McQueen, the mouse spotted atop my Scrabble board one day by DD. I've yet to have a face-to-face encounter with said mouse. Not that I have a problem with mice or anything...

Most admirable traits: Sensitivity, intuition, acute perception, a sense of humor. Acceptance. Some cooking ability, and the all important appreciation of things that taste good.

Number of sexual partners: Not sure how to answer this one! It's more complicated than you'll ever know. Buy my book.
(Ok...since meeting DD, just one.)

Overnight hospital stays: One. I managed to fall down the stairs in my own home while the Coldmasters guy was here servicing our AC, thus requiring surgery to place 4 stainless steel screws and a plate in my left femur. This, having never before broken even a finger. I stayed one night in the hospital. I pulled out my own IV (the morphine drip wasn't doing anything for me), was cleared by PT, and went home.
Though that hospital stay was brief, I clearly underestimated how long it would take to feel like myself again - just about a year, with the help of spinning classes. Egads!
Let's just say I am much more careful with stairs these days. When you're a natural born clutz, you have to try extra hard.

Phobias: I am afraid of heights. Like, weak in the knees - vasovagal afraid. It's taken me a long time to fully come to terms with that. Which is not to say I avoid heights. I did the parasailing thing in Cozumel, I have no trouble with airplanes (I love them!), I went up to the cupola in St. Peter's Basilica, I stayed in a high floor at the Luxor, and I went up to the top of the Stratosphere...but it makes me viscerally and palpably uncomfortable. Just sayin'.

Other than that, I fear nothing. Except maybe fear itself.

(Oh, in 1986 I was afraid I would contract AIDS. How? Dunno. I was 13. I didn't even speak to many people, nevermind sleep with them. But, you know, this is America - spreading fear is part of the collective mindset here.)

(Oh, also, when I was around 10 years old I saw a commercial on TV about colorectal cancer, and was convinced I had it, even though I had no idea at all what it was.)

Quote: "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. And I'm not so sure about the universe." Albert Einstein

Religion: No, thank you! (Was raised half-assed quasi-Catholic, then the parents "found the Lord" with the whole handkerchief-waving, speaking-in-tongues congregation of crazy bust-outs, then they got divorced. Hmmmm...religion? Nah. I'll pass.)

Siblings: One younger sister with the same parents. Three (way younger) half-sisters with the same father. Long story. Someday I'll fill you in.

Time(s) I wake up: 1 am, 3 am, 4 am, 5 am, 6 am, 6:45 am...sometimes 11:30 pm too...

Unusual talent or skill: I find things. Drop a contact, lose a screw from your glasses, lose your wallet, drop your cell phone in freezing, wet January slush at 2 am, drop a pill on the floor or the couch, I'm your girl. I will find whatever it is you've lost, as long as it's tangible.

Vegetable I love: Never met a vegetable I didn't love. Favorites? Mushrooms, for sure. And broccoli.

Worst habit: Where do I begin with this one? Compulsive tidyness. Potty-mouth. Self-pity? Bossiness?

X-rays: Right femur, left femur, chest, right foor, spine, teeth...probably there are others.

Yummy foods I make: Roasted chicken or pork roast with roasted potatoes, carrots, and garlic; salt-crusted whole red snapper; red gravy with sausage, meatballs, and pork over pasta; grilled chicken or steak with hot peppers and salad...I've got a lot more up my sleeve!

Zodiac sign: I grew up thinking I was Pisces, but the sun was actually in Aries at the moment of my birth (since it was so late in the day in Eastern Standard Time on the last day of Pisces...talk about identity crisis!).
Thus, I am fire, but I am watery too. Waterfire. That's it, I'm Waterfire.

So now you know me a little bit.

Thanks to Dorcasina for the inspiration for this one (her Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Sunday, December 2, 2007

First Dusting of Snow, First Blast of Cold

It's cold here in Providence. Muy frio. Bitterly cold, and it snowed a little today for the first time all season, unless you count that two-minute dusting one morning last month - November 20th, to be exact.

The Volvo is dealing with it's first snow exposure very well, I must say. We've discovered that it has a cute little snowflake symbol that appears next to the temperature reading when the temp falls anywhere between 36 degrees F down to 25 or thereabouts. Kind of arbitrary, not coinciding with anyone's cutoff of what freezing really is, but what can you do. We've decided it'a charming nonetheless.

The Dinnerman and I are not so enamored with snow or cold nearly as much as we are with that little snowflake symbol, though. Not so much. I love the Holiday Season; I mostly love the lights. I've come to understand that about myself.

Here comes my usual Sunday night plaint - gotta go, my Chinese is here.
The Dinnerman's hungry.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I Heart Windex Wipes

Anyone who knows me knows this. I have an almost unnatural affection for these compact packets of streakless convenient wholesome cleanliness. Windex Wipes. They're pricey, but I don't leave home without them.

Tonight Dr. Dinnerman and I are hearting my roasted chicken, and my homemade Maker's Manhattans.

We're also hearting Criminal Minds, and Family Guy.

Pretty soon we'll be hearting each other!

(Though on nights like this you'd never know it, there are in fact days when I don't heart anything.)

Lentil and Sausage Soup

This soup is super simple. And delicious.

In a big pot, saute a couple carrots, dices, some minced garlic, and a couple of potatoes in olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Throw in some hot Italian sausage - about a pound, either links or loose meat. Cook over medium-high heat until the meat is browned. Add a head of fresh escarole, chopped. Add more salt and pepper.
Then fill the pot with water and add a pound of lentils. Add more salt, but not too much! (Helpful, no?) Bring to boil, lower heat to simmer and cook for about an hour to an hour and a half. Turn off heat.

Remove sausage links if you used them, and chop. Return to pot. Add a dash of cider vinegar. (I like a dash of vinegar in my soups - just a dash - so you don't really taste vinegar. I find it just lends a balance to the flavors. But then, I am not exactly normal.) Adjust seasoning.

Top with grated Romano cheese, and enjoy! It will taste even better the next day for breakfast.

You Can Fool Some of the People, Some of the Time

...and sometimes one of those people is the Dinnerman. He cannot be fooled often - and it's especially rare when it involves his palate. But sometimes it happens.

Case number one: This is good coffee!

So spoke DD this morning after taking his first sip. The secret? I replaced our usual Starbucks or Coffee Exchange espresso roast - which sells for $8.99/lb and up - with, brace yourselves, people, Stop & Shop brand espresso roast, for $2.49/lb.

Case number two: This is good cereal!

So spoke DD yesterday morning after taking his first bite. The reason? I replaced his usual favorite, Total - which sells for $4.99/box - with Stop & Shop brand Honey Oat Clusters with Almonds, at $2.29.

Go figure.

Eine Kleine Late November Grilling

Yesterday was so mild here in the Ocean State that we grilled. Nothing fancy, just some skirt steak and hot peppers. I made a salad with Sicilian garlic-and-lemon-olives, tomatoes, greens, and feta.
A fantastic, full-bodied Catena Malbec finished our feast. Or so I thought, until Dr. Dinnerman requested some of my famous stove-popped popcorn.

Over the years, I've seen many powerful, effective, otherwise articulate people rendered mute and dumb - reduced to primal, unintelligible babbling - by the thought alone of my popcorn.

And it couldn't be more simple.
I used to use a big pot, but now I use a small pot with a handle. It makes the perfect amount. And doesn't require opening the drawer to get the potholders out. I'm all about saving a step.

Turn the burner on, coat the bottom with extra virgin olive oil (it makes all the difference, I tell you), add kernels, cover, shake in a circle, pour in a bowl when popped. Add a sprinkle of kosher salt, serve to your subjects, and watch the magic...

I really enjoyed House last night, as well as what little Nip / Tuck I saw before falling out of consciousness atop the Dinnerman on the couch. Post-prandial parasympathetic bliss...

This morning began with us watching the maniacal squirrel couple as they took running leaps from our balcony (3rd floor) onto our Blue Atlas Cedar. Gotta love 'em. They eat our weeds and peer at us nervously. They are nice to have around, in the absence of real pets - you know, the furry kind that sleep on your bed with you.

The rest of my day has unfolded rather painfully. I am suffering from aches and exhaustion, no doubt a result of that blasted Tdap vaccine I endured yesterday. This too shall pass. Because I always try to focus on the positive in a situation, I will note that I did not pick my face at all today, because it hurts too much to lift my left arm.

Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of your Wednesday, people! In case you want to know, tonight I'm roasting a chicken with carrots and potatoes, hot peppers, and, just because the Dinnerman loves them so, whole cloves of garlic.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Case of the Mondays

Today embodied every Monday cliche. It was cold and rainy, I was tired and didn't want to get out of bed, I had a legion of errands to do - all of which I loathe: grocery shopping, banking, pharmacy, cleaning the house...all made harder by the rain. I had a feeling it wouldn't be one of those "smooth sailing" days too - just a vibe.

So I ask you, which came first, the feeling or the events? Where's the cause, where's the effect? How much of our destiny is a result of what we "put out there" into the universe with our thoughts?

Here's a smattering of my Monday.

The pharmacy lost my prescription. (Rite Aid, do you lose anyone else's prescriptions? Or just mine? I mean really, this is the 3rd time you've done this to me. 3rd time! By the same person! Lady, how do you keep a job? You are so out of it, all the time. Someone, please, help me fix the injustices of the world. I'll say it: it's not fair. It's just not fair.)

Then the power went out in the grocery store. Not for just a second or two, either. It stayed out. It happened just before I could ask someone to slice me some cheese. And we were all ushered out of the building.

The gym called - the spinning class was full. Now, I know they fill up, and that's fine. But when I sign up online at the very start of the 24 hour period which the rules state is the acceptable window during which one can sign up, I shouldn't get the boot. It's evident what's happening here. Either there is extreme disorganization or people are signing up earlier than is rightfully allowed. I realize it's the Monday after Thanksgiving and everyone is feeling over-stuffed. But dammit, I wanted to spin. And say what you want - I should have been in!

I know, I know. I sound like a whiny bitch. In the grand scheme of things, I have nothing to complain about at all! I have it easy. I really do. I recognize I have nothing to complain about at all; I am blessed. I am very lucky. I am loved, I have my health, I have my mind, I have so much. I lack for nothing. I am very aware of my good fortune, the luck of my lot in life - it's all more evident and plain this time of year.

But sometimes, a girl's gotta vent.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Vote for Your Favorite Toilet Paper, People

Dear readers,

Please, there is not much time left. Vote for your favorite t.p.



The Thrill is Gone, All Over

It was hard, people, hard to write the Cleveland entry today. It didn't come easy.
Some days, I churn 'em out. Push 'em out, shove 'em out, waaayyyy out. With no effort at all.
Other times, it's painful. The muse is not there; but I persevere. Actually, today is the first day I persevered. Usually I save it in the dank, dark, cavernous recesses of my mind for another, more fertile day. But today, boredom and feelings of inadequacy took hold, and I forced it out.
Victory is mine!! Victory, over me!

(Well, somebody somewhere won something...everyone gets a trophy!)

So I was heartened by the Dinnerman's tales of his day. Apparently it didn't go much better than mine. He was not in a good humor come 5 pm when he arrived at the door.

Apparently, he was assaulted with stupidity. As he put it, "I went through this day not wanting to be there at all, feeling that I could put my head through a windshield and still do this!
I was reminded of Will in Good Will Hunting, burning the math problem while Jerry fell to his knees to save the paper, 'Do you have any idea how easy this shit is for me? Do you know how hard it is for me to watch you fumble around with it and fuck it up?'"

Nothing was interesting, necessary, or remarkable. It was all boring bullshit, resulting from the laziness of others.

"I saw a woman with a fucking buttocks abscess! I could sustain massive head injuries and still take care of this shit. I mean, what am I, making widgets? Am I making widgets, Steph? This is what I trained for! Unbelievable."

I guess that says it all; I have nothing more to add. About the butt abscess, that is.

Meanwhile, I am still fighting the good fight against the smoke in my building. Bob the Builder is doing his thing again too (next door neighbor, who has a penchant for inappropriate hammering)

Look, I know it's a full moon tonight. We'll try again in the morning.
Ok, gotta go. I think my Chinese is here.

Cleveland: Baricelli Inn & Primo Vino

Though he's from the Boston area, The Dinnerman spent some years living in Cleveland, OH. He made a lot of friends while living in Little Italy. Every year he tries to get back there to visit and eat. Sometimes he has the pleasure of my company.
I've been to Cleveland 3 times so far, and although each visit took place in a different season, it was hot and sunny for the duration of my stay. Locals say that's not a true reflection of Cleveland's climate, but hey, maybe the city was showing off for me! It certainly worked. I'm a big fan.

My most recent visit took place in early October, 2007. We left a hazy, hot, and humid heat wave in Rhode Island and arrived 2 hours later in Cleveland to a more intense version of the same. On the way to the hotel (Intercontinental this time. It's usually The Baricelli Inn, but we couldn't pass up a free room!) we hit a bit of "Tribe Traffic", as that night was game 2 of the Yankees-Indians Championship series...the night of the midges, remember?

We settled in, took a bath, had a drink at the bar (awesome Maker's Manhattan), and took a cab to the place we spend every first night of every trip to Cleveland: Primo Vino.

Robert Fatica and the Dinnerman have cultivated a close friendship over the years. There have been many evenings of great food and wine in the cozy downstairs dining room with the horseshoe-shaped bar at this cornerstone Italian restaurant in Cleveland's Little Italy.
The wine list is amazing - a giant tome with one of the most extensive selections of Italian wine that I've seen anywhere, Italy included. We sit at the bar. As Robert has inevitably spread the word of our pending arrival days in advance, once the wine starts flowing, friends drop in for some sustenance and conversation, and the night goes on under Robert's gracious and capable guidance. It's comfortable. I've met some of the kindest people on my trips to Cleveland, many of them at Primo's. It's like coming home. Except nobody cooks for me at home.

The naked peppers (long hot peppers stuffed with what seems like a mixture of cheese and ground chicken, and doused with olive oil) are a must, as is some form of antipasto, and definitely something liquid and Tuscan, and then something liquid and Sicilian.

The Dinnerman is known for attracting a crowd and for closing the place down, and this night was no exception. We ended up taking it down the street to a bar. This is where my recollection of October 5, 2007 ends. (It was October 6th by then, anyway.)

Thursday and Friday may be nights for Primo Vino, but Saturday is for The Baricelli Inn.
Where do I start? What can I say?
Again, it's where we go on every trip to Cleveland. It's usually where we stay.
Housed in a big beautiful turn-of-the-century mansion turned B&B and restaurant on Cornell Road (at Murray Hill Road...walking distance to Mayfield Road, the "main drag" of Little Italy) , The Baricelli Inn is where chef Paul Minnillo has his way with us. And we love every minute of it - every taste, every sensation.

The Inn has 7 spacious guest rooms on the second and third floors, all eaves and angles, at once comfortable and elegant. I learned a bit of history from The Baricelli's website (http://www.baricelli.com/). The mansion was built in 1896 by Dutch architect John Grant and later sold to one of Cleveland's first physicians, Dr. Giovanni Baricelli. He and his wife, Madame Baricelli, were prominent civic leaders in the University Circle Community. The Minnillo family purchased the property in 1981 and renovations were completed in 1985.

Since my trips to Cleveland have all happened under clear, warm skies, my dinners at Baricelli have all been enjoyed in the outdoor patio area. It's so relaxing out there, by the statue of some stone saint. Always, we start with cheese board. It was here that my cootchie of curd was popped, so to speak. My love for all things stinky and runny began in this very courtyard. It happened on a big board, featuring a wide variety of cheeses of all kinds, bloomed in the Inn's own affinage cooler. Alongside the cheese were grapes, raisin toasts, walnuts, and water crackers. Yummy. Oh, my.

On to the latest meal. I had an heirloom tomato salad to start, followed by the grouper with lobster mushrooms and Ohio sweet corn, perched atop string beans in a rich butter sauce. This was such a voluptuous dish - every bite of the snowy white grouper and chewy dense mushroom, speckled with the sweetness of the corn kernels in that velvety sauce. I hope it makes its way onto the menu again next summer. It was a winner, and I ate every bite!

The Dinnerman began with a small order of the pappardelle with rock shrimp, chanterelles, and garlic. This was delicious. I got a mere taste, but it lit up my mouth (my mouth had a good time that night!) . The Dinnerman polished it off with vigor.
He then proceeded on to the a special of lamb shank with couscous. The couscous was served room temperature so as to preserve the chew. Sorry I can't remember more details, but I didn't get a taste and it disappeared rather quickly. It arrived at the table with the giant shank bone sticking up in the center of the plate, very phallic, very Bacchanalian. Very well enjoyed, very gone, very fast.

I know we had a lot of wine. At one point Robert dropped by, and ordered yet more wine. Forgive me, as I am so terrible at remembering specifics about wine (once I start drinking) unless I write them down. I do know the Dinnerman ordered an Amarone, which was my favorite sip of the night.
And we had dessert too. Sorbet, and a white chocolate pumpkin layered concoction, all expertly done, a veritable gilding of the lily.

Lisa, Paulie's lovely wife, was busy making the rounds that Saturday night. And a busy night it was. The weather was warm, the Indians were hurting the Yankees (Jesus hates the Yankees!), there was some comet or something scheduled to pass by in the heavens, I had my favorite man next to me, eating fantastic food, laughing, talking...what more can a girl want?

Paulie is so funny. He's always got a story.

*They're going to try to stop me from serving of fois gras? "Fuck that! They can't tell me. I'll serve it. I'll go to jail."

*Planning a recent trip to Dublin, he phoned Bobby Flay for restaurant recs, after seeing a show with Bobby in Ireland. Bobby told him, "Paulie, I don't know where to eat in Dublin! The only time I've ever been there was for that show!"

*Paulie is out and about as a celebrity chef too, most prominently of late for Continental Airlines. He regaled us a story of when he was cooking for a cruise line, and the ship's kitchen was stocked with (gasp) canned asparagus..."What the fuck is this shit? I can't cook with this!!!"

*Paulie can be relied upon for restaurant recommendations in any city on earth, and he never steers you wrong. Going to New York? Lupa for lunch, A Voce for dinner. Rome? La Campana and Al Bric are not to be missed.

*We had the good fortune to be in Rome last June at the same time as Paulie and Lisa. Paulie called the Dinnerman, they made plans for lunch at La Campana and Paulie said, "Bring your credit card, because I'm not drinking shit!" That lunch lasted 5 hours. Paulie and Lisa had to go straight to their dinner reservation. We collapsed in our hotel, and watched The Hoax in Italian.

So, this got away from me a little. (No, really? How unlike you, Steph. You're always so focused!)

Apologies for any macerated details. The Dinnerman and I send our love to Robert, Heidi, Lisa, and Paulie. Thanks for the memories, Cleveland and not - past, present, and future.

Primo Vino
12511 Mayfield Road

Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 229-3334

The Baricelli Inn
2203 Cornell Road
Cleveland, OH 44106
Phone (216) 791-6500

Fax (216) 791-9131

I Suck at Yoga

Just returned from the gym after attempting yoga for the first time in a couple of years...not so much! (traffic wasn't bad, though)

I must say, all these emails begging for more blog entries - I'm flattered! I have fans.

I am now Google-able. Just type in "what steph eats"!

The Dinnerman is stuck at the hospital on this beautiful sunny Saturday.

We ate turkey soup for brekkie. With habanero peppers in it, because we do that kind of thing.

More later.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Peanut Butter, Fluff, & Flaxseed Bullshit Cake

It's in the oven.

You don't want to know...God, do I need a job!

Yes, I Made The Shells!

The holiday came. It spent a solid week doing so, rousing me out of a sound sleep several days in a row. At 3 or 4 am, mind you. You've got to give it credit, the holiday was clever and insidious.

Thanksgiving woke me in a variety of ways; I never saw it coming. One minute I'm dreaming about climbing a giant saxophone in Central Park, the next thing I know I'm upright in bed, babbling to the Dinnerman about whether or not to make soup, which stuffing recipe to follow, do I stuff my own shells or buy them pre-made, how many orange side dishes to cook, and will Kenny like it? (Yes, but what if he doesn't like it? What if he won't eat it? It's Thanksgiving! I must feed people too much food! What if there's not enough food?)

Mind you, we're talking about preparations for a dinner for 3 - The Dinnerman, Kenny, and me.

I confess, I was left alone in our bed with my madness at least once during my pre-dawn hysteria. The Dinnerman fled to quieter quarters in the small bedroom. I was abandoned and cold in high-threadcount cotton, a victim of my own devices.

A dinner for three. Only two of whom are not me. The Dinnerman and Kenny. In typical Steph fashion, I made the world end. And as usual, it was all well worth it.

The Dinnerman came home around 2:30, and we sat around drinking Maker's Mark on ice, nibbling on cheese and olives, listening to his eclectic/diverse/whacked-out iPod while the turkey roasted, filling the house with the aroma that we've grown to expect and thus find comforting on Thanksgiving - that of turkey roasting.

We had an arugula salad with shreds of romano, olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. Then, we moved on to the stuffed shells with pork and sausage in the gravy. (Earlier in the day, the Dinnerman's mom asked him on the phone if I had bought the shells or made them...I, in the midst of a kitchen frenzy, and after explaining in detail to the Dinnerman how I made the shells, with visual aides and all, spouted out, "I made the fucking shells!" - he told her that I made the fucking shells...now I am elected to make the fucking Christmas shells)

Then Kenny came over, and we feasted on the typical turkey meal. Yum.
Too. Much. Food.

We digested on the couch while watching Vanilla Sky, one of our favorite movies of all time.

I wanna wake up!!!

Will I attempt this again? I will tell you in another life, when we are both cats.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hiding Ethnicity

So, the Dinnerman revealed to me quite arbitrarily yesterday that he is indeed a quarter German. For almost 3 years, I believed that he was half Irish and half Italian.
He is, in fact, half Italian, as am I.
He is a quarter Irish, and, well, you know the rest.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh My God! Thanksgiving!

Ah, Thanksgiving. Ostensibly the purest and most American of holidays. Why is it that it turns us all into frenzied crazy people? Does Thanksgiving simply bring out the Ugliest American in us all?

In the days approaching this fourth Thursday in November, people all over the US can be found flitting about, procuring provisions for ingestion and imbibement.

It's a concentrated madness. The craziness of Thanksgiving is not spread out over say, the week that spans Hannukah or Christmas/New Year's. It's not experienced in the same relaxed way of summer as that of the other, arguably most American of all holidays, The Fourth of July.

No, Thanksgiving is not conveniently located on our calendars. It happens at the end of November. November is the month where, in Rhode Island anyway, it always seems that the weather changes abruptly from balmy and autumnal to harsh, cold, wet, and windy - wintry.

Before we can enjoy T-day, so much must be forced into line. There are exams to be passed at school; dinners to be planned, shopped for and prepared; grudges to be set aside; plans to be made on how to commence preparation for the advent of the December holidays, in all their materialistic glory. (Oh, and don't forget about the valium to be swallowed, the bourbon to be drunk.)

And that's part of the problem, no? As Andy Rooney pointed out Sunday night, Thanksgiving is too darn close to Christmas.

I mean, I'm still stuck at the beach. It's the last week of August in my heart right now.
Admittedly, I have trouble moving on in life. But why is Halloween through New Year's always such a landslide? I've been on this planet for close to 35 years, you'd think I would have caught on by now. You'd think I'd be able to successfully brace myself, protect my psyche from the way time passes us by. On the contrary - each year finds me closer to unravelling completely into nothing but a threadbare spool of what Steph used to be. Amen and pass the vitamin H.

Thanksgiving is also so laden, weighed down with tradition. This is a good thing, inherently, but in practical terms it all adds up to a lot of pressure. How can your dinner live up to that of those who cooked before you? Will your parents be happy the first year you cook, or will they compare your dried out turkey with the idealistic turkeys of their youth? It doesn't help that the airways are infiltrated with a zillion recipes and cooks these days either. And Rachael Ray's mug on my Wheat Thins just makes my skin crawl, even though I really like The Rache. Let's just order a pizza already. Believe me, it's an idea that's been put on the table.

Alas, this year I'm cooking, as faithful readers of my blog already know. (Do I have any faithful readers? Any readers at all? I know what my cluster map tells me, but I'm not sure I believe that I'm really that big in India and Spain...)
An abbreviated feast, for the Dinnerman and Kenny. Dr. Dinnerman has to work, else we'd be with his family.

I know the meal I will make will be good - superlative, even. But it won't be the same as what we've grown accustomed to. And Oh My God, that's what Thanksgiving is all about.

Enjoy yours, in whatever way it happens for you this year.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Figure Skating and Turkey Talk

I am a hard-core figure skating fan.

I've been enjoying the dance competition above all others today at the Cup of China, which is in sharp contrast to my normal hierarchy of pairs (even though none of today's pairs wow me in the least - my interest is a hopeful layover from my love of the days when Gordeeva and Grinkov ruled the ice - they still do, in fact, rule the ice!), ladies, men. The reason for my sudden change of heart? Belbin and Agosto, who usually bore me.

They skated a romantic, dramatic, not-overdone, all dressed in black instead of flowing colorful handkerchief-laden outfits program to a dynamic piano piece by Chopin, my new classical interest, for the moment upstaging Mozart and Beethoven, who will always have top spots in my book. Belbin and Agosto said that it was about love, pure love, before all the other stuff gets in the way to complicate and compromise it, and turn it sour. (Picture is not of said program.)

So, good job, Belbin and Agosto. Love the new program, choreographed by their coach Igor Shpilband.

In other news...

1) I've been making unorthodox breakfasts lately, like kale soup and boiled carrots yesterday, and last Sunday's vegetable soup with curry. It's great to have a warming bowl of soup on a cold morning, and we all know the Dinnerman could always use more veggies.

2) Kenny brought us a huge "turkey tray" of spaghetti with red clam sauce last night, and it was soooo gooood. It was lovingly prepared by his mom, as a favor to his Auntie Walmart, for whom The Dinnerman ordered a jar of ibuprofen cream. In lieu of money we wanted food. So good.

3) What are you all doing for Thanksgiving? The Dinnerman has to work, and Kenny is supplying vegetables so I am cooking for the two of them, and whomever else wants to drop by. Just the breast though, and a myriad of sides. We really don't care for the dark meat, and I don't feel like dealing with a turkey carcass this year, truth be told. (Plus, I've been enduring the likes of, "Steph, make the tits! the turkey tits!'') I'm also doing a cheese board, an arugula salad, and stuffed shells with meatballs, sausage and pork in the gravy.

4) Dr. Dinnerman worked today and came home with the sniffles. I fed him tea and vitamin C, then ordered Chinese food from our favorite take-out and delivery place, Shanghai. Shanghai is great - really consistent, fresh, and quick. I will talk about it in detail one of these days, I promise. For now, gotta go. The Dinnerman is enjoying me tonight. And he's hungry.

Happy Thanksgiving Week to all! I will give you more words before Turkey Day, rest assured, but I just wanted to get that out there.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pork Roast with Rosemary and Thyme

I made a great rosemary and thyme pork roast last night, with roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, garlic, and jalapenos. Dr. Dinnerman loved it. Roast pork makes him, er, shall we say, quite amorous. He is powerless over the pork. (I know, that just doesn't sound right...he is powerless over the roast pork, ok?)

I used my method of first broiling, then switching over to the convection oven set to 400. It took about 45 minutes for a 2 1/2 lb boneless roast. It was soo tender. I tried to pick a roast that was darker than all the others. Nice pickup on that roast, Steph.

Bacon (Niman Ranch uncured, peppered) and eggs this am. Helped us deal with the rain.

Fleming's tonight, and it was great. Too expensive, but great.

Cigar smoke still permeating my home and suffocating me and the Dinnerman; gonna get the media involved. Details to follow.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

So, What Did We Eat Amid the Debris?

In the midst of the shitstorm of my furies, I've neglected to discuss anything food-related in a while. It's as if, with all my bitching and moaning, I've forgotten the very title of my blog.

So, what did we eat last night?

Was it...

Pork, The Other White Meat?

The Incredible Edible Egg?

Beef, 'cuz It's What's For Dinner?

Cheese, Glorious Cheese (so scrumptious and luscious)?

No, no, no and no. It was cod.
Not North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State*.
Cod fillets, in foil packets with garlic, lemon, olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper on the grill. Grilled habaneros on the side.
Served with a salad, this is one of my favorite simple meals. The Dinnerman would disagree, thus my pork and potatoes plans for tonight.

What are you eating?
*Anyone? Anyone get the reference? Anyone?

The Ocean State?

I am a native Rhode Islander who has never lived anywhere else (yet). As such, I have had nothing with which to compare the rather bizarre workings of this place.
The Dinnerman is not a native of our fine Ocean State, and he has lived in several other places in this country before fate brought him here to me. He has decided that Ocean State is quite an inappropriate moniker, and that The State of RI and Providence Plantations should be known as the Fuck You State from now on.

Once the idea had been presented to me that people here in RI are largely rude, mean, stupid, and full of themselves, I became a keen observer of local behavior, and I've started to compare every other place I visit to my home.

Here's my conclusion: people are nicer elsewhere. Even in big cities with reputations for meanness such as Boston or New York, the people are kinder and nicer than people in RI.
Perhaps it's a function of RI being so insular, so parochial, so set-it-its-ways, so provincial. People usually don't leave. They're born here, and they stay. If someone lives in Woonsocket, it's unlikely that he or she will drive to Providence for any reason, even though Providence is a 20 minute car ride away.

And if not necessarily nicer elsewhere, then at least smarter in general. That counts for a lot, in my book.

Hell Is Other People

I've been hoppin' mad the past couple of days because my hallway smells like a casino, and it's all the fault of the 520 Club.

You see, once there was a great little bar called Steam Alley in the space now occupied by the 520 Club. It was very low key, had pool tables, foozball, a jukebox, basketball, and air hockey. It was very relaxed and casual. It was comfortable. And best of all, as is the law now in Rhode Island for bars and restaurants, it was smoke-free.

To say I hate cigarrette and cigar smoke would be nothing short of a vast understatement. I abhor it. I have always felt this way, all my life, even during the brief period of time in college when I tried to smoke cigarretes myself. I couldn't do it.
My mother smoked Winston's for as long as I can recall - from the time she was a teenager until she died of adenocarcinoma of the lung at age 48. I recall feeling suffocated with her ever-present stifling second hand smoke all throughout my time with her. It never was something I could get used to. It never bothered me any less.
I hate feeling like I can't catch my breath. I remember one time when I was about 11 years old eating dinner at a friend's house and feeling like I couldn't breathe - I couldn't get air in my lungs. My friend's mother kept asking me, "Stephanie, are you all right? Are you having trouble breathing?" and I kept saying I was fine, I am fine.

I am sure my lungs have been damaged, and it really pisses me off. Even now I can feel it - it's a rare day that I feel like I can breathe easily.

So, there is a very good reason why cigar and cigarrette smoke wafting up into my home from some asshole who opened a club most probably as a write-off and playpen for himself and his wise guy friends set me off. It lights a fire in me.
I'll bet he had some lawmaker who owed him a favor arrange for him to obtain a fucking permit for smoking. Presumably it's because he also sells cigars. I say, fuck that! This is home to many people and we should have more of a voice than one streetside bar, as collectively we own more of the building.
But someone let this happen. Looked the other way. That's the way things work here. Not that someone as unimportant and unconnected as myself could ever prove it, but it really is Soprano-esque here in RI. Shit like this happens every day.

I feel as if I am under siege in my own damn home. My home!!! Your playpen, but MY HOME.
And the condo board is useless and impotent; it's president doesn't even live here - how invested can he be?

I am all riled up about this because it strikes a nerve with me, because noxious fumes from second hand smoke negatively affects one's health and the value of property, because I feel trapped in my own home, because I feel powerless, and because I know very well how slowly anything changes around here unless you have political power.

I'm mad as hell. I want to live in a house.

Nip / Tuck

Nip / Tuck just keeps getting better and better. I've decided that it's now my all time favorite tv show, ahead of The Office and House.

I mean, this stuff is absolutely ingenious! It's crazier with each episode. In the beginning, it was Julia and Sean; then we find out it was once Julia and Christian, a union that produced Matt; then it's Julia and Ollie who is really Olivia; then we're back to Julia and Christian going at it in the sack!

Remember Kimber early on? She was so together, so cute! Now she's all strung out with Matt and a baby? WTF? I recall back when she was an innocent blow-up doll.

Lady Cha-Cha lips, the hottub shitter, hymens popped by horseback riding, Rosie, I mean, even that they are now in LA!

I love it, keep it coming.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Smurfette Needs a Job, But Not That Badly

So, I guess it's no secret that I have been looking for a job. My "professional background" is mostly centered around the administrative and managerial aspects of the medical business. That began as a "favor" to a "friend", and ballooned into an occupation and lifestyle, from which I ultimately was set free, just over a year ago.
I have a biology degree, which I chose to acquire because at the time I wanted to go to medical school. I still do, but now realize that that's really not cost or time effective.
So, I am searching for something that allows me to utilize my crazy talents, live my life, and feed my soul.
I am very creative, as you can see. I am musical, good with words, organized, meticulous, and I think outside the box. I am supremely sick of seeking employment. I'd love a book deal.

But, in the mean time, I can write! I can type...I can sing, I could learn to dance...I can cook, clean, do laundry...

(You see, I hope, that this is somewhat "tongue-in-cheek" - some people just can't understand my humor)

So, I sent my resume to this job posting on craigslist today, for an "assistant to the editor" position.

And I got this email response:

"Hi Stephanie, I don't see a natural connection between what you have been doing professionally and this position. Could you tell me more about why this interests you, Jim"

To which I replied:

"Hi Jim,

What I have been doing professionally is really not a reflection of what I thought I would do, or what I've wanted to do. I sort of "fell" into my previous jobs, which largely as a favor to a friend in need. It snowballed from there, and I stayed way too long. That's the short version of the story.
Perhaps there's not much "natural" in the way I have approached life, but then again, maybe it all translates into a bizarre journey anyway, no matter your plan. I think I have stifled my creative side over the years. I chose biology as a major because, at the time, I wanted to go to medical school. I no longer want that.
I have always had an affinity to the printed word and image. Long before I was drawn to anatomy, I was sucked in by photography. I write. I sing. I play the guitar. I am both left and right brained.
I don't know, maybe I don't fit the mold. But that's what makes me special.

I am also a stickler for correctness in the printed word. I cannot read anything without analyzing it grammatically and fixing typographical errors in my mind. That's me.

I am looking for a good fit - a position in which I can thrive, grow, and shine. If I wanted to simply earn $10/hr I'd get a job at the Shell Station on Wickenden Street, which gets robbed with regularity. I'm not that desperate yet, due to the kindness and generosity of my binky (and not the kindness of family, or strangers).

Best wishes, and sincerely hope you find what you're looking for.


Thanks for reading, people. It will all work out, I am sure.
Hope you have a memorable Tuesday evening.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sicko. Watch it and Learn.

Michael Moore: call me; I will be your slave. Get in touch. We'll change the world.

Possessives: Maker's Mark & Giovanni's Nuts

When in Rome last June, we had the good fortune to stumble upon a very Irish-esque pub near the Piazza Navona (or Piazza Gavona if you speak Dinnerman) called La Botticella.

It was the next to last day of our Italian escapade, and well, let's just say that while the local wine was great - ok, exponentially better than just great, but hey, I am trying to type here while the Dinnerman is giving a real-time narrative of Kurt Browning's Gotta Skate VII in the background ("oh, Steph, they showed Sasha Cohen* and she looks like she finally got her boobies" and "Irina Rodnina, why isn't she on?") - so cut me some literary slack, people.

Ahem...ahemmmm...where was I?

...although the local wine was a constant trickle of seductive superlatives down my esophagus, one's palate can become clouded and dulled by too much of anything, Brancaia, Solaia, and Sangiovese included.

It was time for some good old Kentucky bourbon.

Trouble was, it seemed that bourbon was not much of a focus in Italy. There was plenty of Jack Daniels and Jameson's, but none of that small batch hand-crafted elixer of the gods in the square-ish bottle with the red wax seal that we've come to know and love oh so intimately - Italy seemed bereft of Maker's Mark.

Oh, Maker's Mark. You are so nutty, toasty, delicious, effective in your role in my life - you comfort me in my time of need. Whether I have you on the rocks with a splash of ginger ale or Coke, or neat in a little bitty glass, or swirled into a Manhattan - you complete me.

So we stumbled upon this fantastic bar in Rome, and were struck by some things:

1) The "proprietor", Giovanni, spoke perfect English with no accent. He is Roman-born but lived for some years in Canada. He's a total cynic, with a dry wit and a laser eye for the female form. Giovanni's nuts were very fresh (come now...they're peanuts, people - crunchy, succulent in-the-shell peanuts).

2) There was Maker's Mark on the shelf.

3) There were vulgar sayings all around, written in random places.

4) There was Maker's Mark on the shelf.

5) The bartender, Paulo, took such pride and care in making every drink perfectly. I have never tasted a Manhattan so delicious, so expertly made. He did this thing which I swear looked like simply swirling ice cubes around in a glass with a long spoon before he even added any ingredients. I just didn't get it, but it worked.

6) There was Maker's Mark on the shelf.

7) The music was awesome - quite an eclectic mix. Think Tom Petty mixed with Wolf Mother and Lit, plus a little U2 and Zeppelin for old times' sake**. Close your eyes, imagine Giovanni singing along.

8) There was Maker's Mark on the shelf.

9) The place was packed, with a lot of Irish-looking, English speaking clients who were laughing and drinking and making merry.

10) There was Maker's Mark on the shelf, and in my glass.

La Botticella
Via Tor Millina 32
Rome, Italy

*Sasha, you look fantastic. I mean, damn girl, you finally look like a woman, and you skate with an ethereal glow, like an Angelic Gumby (that's a compliment). You are by far the most talented skater in the universe, and I am your greatest fan. I will come to see you in a city near me with Stars on Ice this upcoming season. You're beautiful, and I love you!

**Grammatically, how do you make that possession work? If it's singular, then it should be "old time's sake", but how can you base any kind of quantification on only one time? If it's plural, shouldn't it be "old times' sakes"? Someone help me here - grammar police? Help!

Please Enjoy!

So spoke Dr. Dinnerman's Japanese colleage in Tokyo a couple months back upon learning that the Dinnerman was experiencing his first typhoon. Please enjoy! Righteous.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Don't Come Selling Crazy Here; We're All Stocked Up

It's been quite a crazy day, perfect for me, as I am quite crazy by anyone's standards.

Kenny is funny as hell, and the trade-off of the Ibuprofen cream for the spaghetti and meatballs is imminent. It's going to happen. This week. The cream is in, and Auntie Walmart has been notified. She's on it. The wine has been purchased by Dr. Dinnerman, in anticipation.

Kenny's mom went to a function tonight at a certain local country club, where you apparently don't get served big platters of food. This translates into not getting enough food (anathema amongst local Italian-Americans, myself and Dr. Dinnerman included), so it's imperative for one to arrive in time for the "hors d'oerbes" (hors d'oerves, in Kenny-speak...I love you Kenny!). Hope it can happen, though it may involve rousing someone prematurely off the couch (Kenny's dad, from what I can tell). Keep me up to date.

Kenny brought me some huge-ass carrots and onions tonight. Seriously, these carrots are the size of my tibias (which are the size of large zucchini, for those of you who have no idea what a tibia is...but hey, you can Google too, no???). The onions are the size of my breasts (ok, maybe not...I'm not that well endowed...a more appropriate comparison may be cantaloupes?)

An additional thought with regard to the Providence Oyster Bar rotten oyster experience:
If you are an establishment which has the words "oyster bar" in its very denotation, you better not let a rotten one slip by the goalie. Just don't let it happen. Sheesh.
(Can I not let this go?)

They're re-routing traffic around here as part of the damn "I-Way" bullshit experience. I'm not good with change, so I'm not happy about it right now. I may or may not come around.

Happy cold November Saturday night, folks!!! Leave a comment or two!

In Spite of My Anti-Snarking Policy, I Will Blog About The Rotten Oyster

I have a problem with the online bitching and moaning about random bad restaurant experiences. It's just not fair, as a rule. A proper judgement cannot be based upon a singular encounter.

But, sometimes something happens that hits you a little too close for comfort, and, well, you just have to let it out, dammit!

Three little details make this rather negative experience ok to talk about, in my mind:

1) I've eaten at this place many many times over the past 5 years. Many times. And I've loved it, every time.

2) This is my Dr. Dinnerman we're talking about. My Dinnerman - 'nough said.

3) This matter was dealt with in a rather cavalier fashion by our waitress. Not adequately handled.

Here it is: Dr. Dinnerman ate a bad oyster at the Providence Oyster Bar this afternoon. Like, rotten bad. Ammonia-smelling bad. Yeah.

The waitress apologized, and said she'd take the oysters off our bill. She took exactly 2 of the 8 oysters off the bill. Thanks so much for that.

Fortunately, the Dinnerman has the means by which to procure certain antibiotics as a rather valiant effort to ward off any potential gastrointestinal symptoms. Fortunately, the man has a stomach that produces more than its share of acid, which can't be good for pathogens.

And if things get really messy, I will be his Florence Nightengale at the bedside.

A prayer for Dr. Dinnerman. Yo.