Saturday, August 23, 2008

Please Excuse Stephanie's Absence...

Taking off for a while, to parts so remote I will be without the internet.
Keep yourselves full of good things!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Very Local Striped Bass

Striped Bass
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
A thank you to my neighbor, Ricardo Diaz, for catching this gorgeous striped bass and sending it our way like manna from heaven. Thanks also to his lovely wife, whose bass-aversion is a boon to the Dinnerman and me.
These babies were a bit hit around here Friday night, very simply crusted in cornmeal and pan-fried. The Dinnerman rarely raves about fish; he is still talking about this bass 2 days later.

Thanks Ricardo! Keep the bass flowing!

I suppose I should talk a bit about how I prepared this, for the minions who come by for the "recipes". It was simple, really. I salted and peppered the fillets, then dredged them in beaten egg and rolled them around in cornmeal. Into a pan filled about 3/4 inch high with olive oil until they browned on both sides, into the oven to finish cooking. They were really good slathered with hot sauce.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Everything's Better With Bacon

Last night I just didn't know what to do. I had thawed out some boneless breasts, but seriously didn't feel like grilling.
In the fridge, I had an abundance of the zucchini and yellow squash that's omnipresent here this time of year, plus bacon, garlic, basil, onions, and a hunk of Narragansett Creamery's fresh mozzarella.
On the counter, I had some German striped tomatoes from White Barn Farm that I got at last week's Wickenden Street Farmer's Market.
I rubbed each chicken breast with kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne, olive oil, and minced garlic. I then topped each with a slice of zucchini, a slice of yellow squash and some fresh basil leaves and wrapped the whole she-bang in bacon. Into the over at 400 for about 20-25 minutes (I think), or until the chicken is cooked and the bacon is crisp.
I served this with an insalata caprese.

Quick, easy, and a little out of the ordinary routine. Plus, bacon!

Native American Poem

My sister found this Native American saying and asked me to read it at her wedding ceremony last week. We have a bit of Iroquois blood in us from my mom's side, and I think this is an Apache blessing. But I love this simplicity of it no matter where it came from. It's been in my head ever since.

May the sun bring you new energies by day.
May the moon softly restore you by night.
May the rain wash away any worries you may have,
And the breeze blow new strength into your being.

And then, all the days of your life,
May you walk gently through the world
and know its beauty and yours.

Sausage and Lentil Soup

I make soup a lot. Out of the blue, an idea will start to coagulate, and before you know it I'm setting the big pot on the stove, laying the cutting board down, rummaging through the fridge and cupboards, dicing and sauteeing.
Maybe this is my subconscious scheming up ways to use the last bits of this and that before the next market haul. Maybe it's just part of my particular brand of crazy. In any case, I had a bout last week, and came up with this little number.
The Dinnerman has learned to just accept these seemingly random fits of inspiration. Instead of asking, "why are you making soup now?" he now only asks, "what smells so good, Schmoopie?".

As Festivus begins with the airing of grievances, a good soup starts with a flavorful stock. Or does it? Up to this point I never used stock or broth in creating a sausage soup. I think it's because I once read a recipe for Portuguese kale and chourico soup that called for water and no stock, so stuck in my head now. Whatever.
This time I broke tradition and used homemade vegetable stock (my first ever!). The flavor of the final product benefits from it, I think. It's fuller, rounder, more substantial tasting.

I sauteed 6 hot Italian sausage links in the casing in olive oil, then added diced onion and garlic as I cubed 2 medium potatoes, which went in next. I added the broth and lentils, brought it to a simmer and let it cook until the lentils became tender. At the last minute I decided to add spinach, so in went a brick of the frozen stuff. A splash of cider vinegar for balance, salt and pepper and crushed red pepper to taste, and there you have it!

It made a lot! We ate some, the man took a big container to work, and there were still a few quarts hanging around the fridge. Fortunately, this soup freezes well, and that's where the rest is residing.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Teeth Seeds

No, not the ones from berries that irk you into reaching for the floss.
I'm talking about a futuristic concept for replacement dentition that came to me at 5 am this morning, lying in bed just like Brian Wilson did.

Imagine a group of cells predetermined to turn into a tooth, injected into the gum and stimulated somehow systemically. All you would have to do is wait for this seed pod to grow into a tooth, which would push out the existing detritus in a fashion familiar to all.

Think of all the money that would turn up under pillows!

I'm sure there will be detractors - the tooth fairy not least among them.

Clearly I need to return to bed.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

I found this irresistible little meme on Jen's site, Last Night's Dinner (, though it appears that Andrew at Very Good Taste ( came up with it. Join the fun!

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (I'm with Jen: does Alligator count?)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar

37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects

43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant (though I've had the tasting menu at a 1-star)
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Pretty pathetic, no? 64 out of 100. I feel so inadequate.

Apologies for the ugly links, everyone. I have tried to make them look nicer, but obviously I am doing something wrong!

True Love, and Marriage

Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
I'm still here. It's been a busy week, the highlight of which was the marriage of my little sister. Her ceremony on the beach was the most beautiful I've ever attended - it was perfect.

The boss is back in town after a sailing trip, so there's that as well.

But I've still been cooking a lot, and with the Dinnerman doing my share of eating out. We had great sushi from Ran Zan last Thursday and a fantastic meal at the Portuguese feast last Saturday.

I tried to update over the weekend, but blogger was acting up and wouldn't allow me to sign in. So, here we are.

I've been really enjoying the Olympics this year, especially swimming, gymnastics, and, surprisingly, ladies' beach volleyball.

Lot's to catch up on. Right now, I'm out the door!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Double Click To Open

I had surgery on my leg a couple of years ago. I broke my leg and have "hardware" in there now, screws and whatnot. My surgeon told me it wouldn't set off any metal detectors in airports, and he has been correct for the most part. It went off in Frankfurt though. Gotta love German engineering.

Anyway, after my surgery, while high on Percocet, my friend took me for my very first trip to an adult video store. There, I purchased a thong that said, "Double Click To Open" on the front. What can I say? It was on sale. I was on top of the world!

I wore this thong religiously. I wore it to one post-op appointment with my surgeon. The Dinnerman accompanied me and sat in the exam room behind my surgeon, facing me. My surgeon wanted to take a look at my scar, so I dropped my pants. "Double Click To Open" was staring them both in the face. My surgeon, who is younger than I am, turned a little red in the face. I couldn't suppress a laugh. The Dinnerman just rolled his eyes, quite used to these things as he was by then.

What good is life if you can't have a good laugh? Sheesh. People are far too serious!

Portuguese Feast This Weekend!

Everyone! This is the weekend for the Portuguese feast at Our Lady of the Rosary Church on Traverse Street, which is off Wickenden Street behind Adler's Hardware. If you've been to the Wickenden Street Farmers' Market, it's right there!

When I ventured up there today I noticed they had strung lights up and were getting the area ready.

Last year the Dinnerman and I went because of Kenny's stories about the grilled sardines. We sat on the curb near the giant outdoor grills and sampled one of just about everything. Standouts in my mind were the grilled sardines and the spatchcocked grilled little chicken - one of the best we've ever had. They also had the ever-present grilled chourico sandwiches and some manner of potatoes.

And yes, they do have beer and wine, for those of you who think like I do.
You must go!

Here's a link to their website, which has contact info and the schedule:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Why Are Rhode Islanders So Crazy?

Why are so many Rhode Islanders so crazy? So wanting for assurances and guarantees? So paranoid and suspicious? So closed off and stubborn?

Take a chance! There are no absolutes. Venture outside your city; open your eyes to the world outside your door! Pay attention! You just might learn something that will challenge all your preconceived notions.

Thanks, Kenny!

After one too many nights commiserating in the courtyard, your bizarre Peace Corp-acquired habit of drinking beer over ice has worn off onto the Dinnerman.

Emergency intervention is required; there's no telling how far I will go to make this stop.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What I learned on my trip to Fresno, and other random ramblings from the plane.

1) American Airlines blows; their planes smell like toilets.

2) Luggage does get left behind in connection cities, even when you have an hour and a half between flights.

3) While rifling through a bag that is unclaimed due to #2 (see above) in DFW, where people are exceedingly annoying and aren't familiar with "walking etiquette", AA baggage handlers may rape and pillage said bag. Pilfered items may include prescription medication and makeup (?); broken items may include a bejeweled compact/mirror given to one by one's father, thus possessing nostalgic importance. (It's no one's fault but my own for checking the bag in the first place, this I know...)

4) It is beyond futile to attempt to recover items referenced above.

5) It is therefore best to avoid checking luggage, even if that means one's hair will be frizzy due to the lack of the array of products with which one usually travels. Lesson learned, okay?

6) Inbreeding is never a good idea, but it is certainly a popular one.

7) Catching a connecting flight in middle America is not a good idea either.

8) In general, people in Fresno are nicer than those in Providence.

9) Ethiopian food is tasty, especially when it's spur of the moment with new friends.

9a) I have a much higher threshold for "spicy" than most, or at least than many.

10) Paso Robles Wine Country is an hour west of Fresno, a convenient midpoint stop on the way to coastal Morro Bay.

11) Turley is in Paso Robles.

12) Pomegranite trees grow in backyards in Fresno. It's not just citrus!

13) Not surprisingly, great Mexican food is easily had in Fresno.

14) Fresno has beautiful starry skies.

15) The Big Dipper remains the only constellation I can reliably recognize. I point it out to all.

16) The Dinnerman likes freshly picked (pilfered) grapefruit.

17) Many bartenders have no idea what a Vieux Carre is, and look at me like I am crazy when I ask for one, while the Dinnerman looks on and rolls his eyes. I do realize that mistaking me for crazy is not hard to do.

18) Hot tubs are nice.

19) Maria Shriver is on my flight (LA to Boston) right now. She is standing in the aisle as I drink my vodka and soda, and she looks great!

20) I must concede that this particular AA plane does not smell like a toilet.

21) People generally find me interesting, but I wonder if it's akin to rubbernecking at a car crash.

22) Crying babies on planes make me almost as crazy as kids kicking the back of my seat. I bet there is no one kicking Maria Shriver's seat.

23) It's especially irritating when even having my ipod on the highest volume setting can't drown out said (spoiled, undisciplined, indulged) screaming baby.

24) It's good to land in Boston.

25) It's good to anticipate sleeping in one's own bed.

Good night!