Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Powder Blue Corduroys with Elastic Waistbands

She walked by my desk on her way to the front of the class for 'current events', and farted through her powder blue corduroys. They had an elastic waistband. She had long wavy dark blond hair, a flat butt, and a tracheotomy, though I didn't know the term for it at the time. I was in 5th grade - a fat blob of a girl with no clue about life's hardships, no aspirations to anything beyond my next snack or newest sticker for my collection that I'd buy at Simply Sondra, and no experience of having lived greater than 16 years with doctors in various stages of their training/ careers. In short, I was feeling no pain. I was feeling nothing at all.

Her name was Jennifer Salisbury. Maybe I should change that, but this story jolted me out of bed at 2:30 am and I just can't think of anything so flowing that's false.

I knew her peripherally. We shared a grade, a classroom. We shared little else, though I'd visited her home at one point...a birthday party? It smelled of steamed lunch meat. I was all about texture, sights, smells, and sounds then. Still am. Though now my temporal lobe epilepsy has evolved into frontal lobe dementia. I remember that the few friends I'd had in grade school who were neither Italian nor Jewish had homes with that particular odor of warm cold cuts. I've no idea why. One time I ate dinner at a friend of that category's house and was served rolled-up bologna with warm milk. I never ate dinner there again, even though her dog and my cat shared a name. (I probably copied her. I was that kind of child - afraid of my own shadow, ashamed of my own thoughts.)

On that weekend afternoon at the home of Jennifer Salisbury, I was accompanied by other kids of our class. We were shown the machine she was hooked up to at night which helped her breathe. I don't recall feeling sorry for her, or compassionate, or anything at all. I think she had a loving family, and may or may not have had a sibling. She seemed to matter little to my life then, as most things did. She was very kind, but I wasn't into kind. I liked dramatic and scary. I liked to cry and invent songs in my head.

I have not thought about those childhood moments in many years. I recently have become slightly more reflective - almost nostalgic. I think often of where it is I came from, and want to go back in time to that place. I miss my grandparents, my mother. I miss my potential. I recognize now that I had so much of it, and not everybody does. In my own way, I suppose I've developed into someone worthwhile to some, but it should have been more. Maybe there's still time. After all, I'm still breathing.

I used to believe there was a great distance between myself and people whose lives seem so gravely different from mine - people whose suffering seem so much greater. That gap has closed.

We are all suffering. As I get older, as my body aches more and more for reasons both self-imposed and organic, I see this with both increasing clarity and fog.

I used to think we were so different, Jennifer Salisbury and me. I used to believe I was the one who had more strength.

Insert pithy phrase here. (Thanks for that, Rémy Robert!

(With thanks and homage to Scott Turow, whose short story Loyalty sparked this mental vomitus of mine; Rémy Robert, whose Tweet sparked the pithy thing (and if you don't know what I mean by that you can go Google Twitter, pithy, Rémy Robert, and yourself); my lovely man, whose restless sleeping habits helped jostle me out of bed to write this in the wee and scary hours of morning; my man's mom, who has helped me to see that the world extends so far beyond the borders of my mind and body; my family, for having loved me (albeit sometimes too much); and my sore throat, which makes me appreciate better what feeling good feels like.)

And thank you, Jennifer Salisbury, wherever you may be now. You will always be held fondly in my heart.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Back in the High Life

I made this thing private because there is some issue with each picture in the posts which I've blogged directly from Flickr.
I thought I'd fix it and go public again, but then realized it's probably going to take more time than I have right now, and so I just went public again.


(If you click the actual picture that says it's not available, it takes you to the real picture, which is Just read and click, read and click...)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I Love James Woods as Much as I Despise Kent County Hospital

There is a small article in today's Providence Journal announcing that James Woods has sued Kent County Hospital over the death of his brother in 2006. The lawsuit claims his brother received negligent medical care.

Here's the link to the article (from the Boston Herald - not the Projo link because their website SUCKS):

I now love James Woods even more than ever, and I'm a longtime fan. Before you all start in on me with tales of how he's a douchebag (as happened when I last broadcast my love), let me say this - he's a Rhode Islander. That, in itself, explains it away. We are a little rough around the edges, and don't mince words.

He grew up in Warwick, and so did I. He's had surgery at Rhode Island Hospital, and so did I! I even had x-rays on the same day as he did one day in late July 2006.
Now we have even more in common. Kent County mistreated one of our family members.

While we did not pursue any legal action for various reasons, my mother was definitely the recipient of negligent medical care at KC Hospital back in 1997. She would have died anyway, but I firmly believe that had she been given appropriate attention and care she would have likely suffered less and perhaps lived a little bit longer. Botched care. That's what it was, plain and simple.

So, I am rooting for James Woods to prevail over Kent Hospital when the trial begins this coming Monday.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Can You Hear Me Now?

Setting: Urban condo, modern day. I am in the kitchen making dinner; my man is on the couch watching television and drinking Maker's.

My man: "I want a Lap Band."

Me: "Why do you want a lap dance? From who?"

My man (laughing): "Lap Band. Because I'm fat! Not lap dance!"

Me: "I've never given anyone a lap dance. You don't have much of a lap!"

My man: Lap Band. I just saw a commercial for the Lap Band!"

Me: "You want your black pants? You split the crotch when you bent over in that hotel room in Italy, remember?"

My man: "No! Not my black pants! Lap Band. Lap Band! I'm too fat! I split my black pants, and there's no room on my lap for a dance."

Me: "What's a Lap Band?"

We need either an open kitchen or hearing aids.

(In case you don't know what it is either, here's the website for the Lap Band system:

Goodbye to Grilling

It's that time of year again - when the grill first gets gradually neglected, then altogether ignored, and finally just put away until spring.

This always saddens me, because grilling is probably my favorite method of cooking. And it's not so much an issue of the days being too cold, just too short!

Since we turned back the clocks, the sun has been shining so brightly with temps in the 60's most days this week.
Great! I think of what to grill...

But by the time our stomachs are rumbling for dinner, the sun has gone down. I know I'm pretty adept with a spatula and some tongs, but even I can't cook in the dark.

Farewell, my friend the grill. Have a restful winter's nap, because I'll be giving you quite the spring training workout!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Coping, as Daylight Saving Time Ends

Last night we had to turn the clocks back and turn the page on the calendars forward. Being the neurotic freak that I am, I did this all 12 hours earlier than necessary, confusing everyone in my midst.
I don't cope well with the annual slide down the slope to winter, but I'm getting better. Here's an example of how.
There was a time, after I had surgery on my leg in June of 2006, when I would use Bailey's Irish Creme as creamer in my coffee. Every morning.
(I didn't see anything wrong with this. I guess it just enhanced the effect of all the other meds I was on, and my doctor did tell me to 'snow myself' so I'd stay still enough to heal...)

That spring turned to summer, and summer into fall. As winter approached, my man would come home from work at times to find me under the covers with the heat turned up to nursing home levels and all the lights in the house off. I still don't know why he stuck around, but it's likely due to his generousity, kindness, and self-awareness. No one is perfect; we all are broken in some place.

I must remind myself - as the days grow shorter and colder and grayer, and things that should be resolved by now drag on and on with no resolution in sight - that my coping mechanisms have improved since those times 3 years ago, however marginally.

Though sometimes I still have a craving for Bailey's in my coffee.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Streams of Semi-consciousness...

1) I own a shirt that requires cufflinks, but my man does not.

2) I covet the iPhone. I knew this before my man came home with one, but it's all the more painful now.

3) My best pet ever was my tortie kitty Rascal. I still sometimes desperately miss her sleeping at the foot of my bed, and she's been gone since 1991.

4) The longer I live, the more I learn about loss.

5) My mom used to take us apple picking every fall, without fail. She introduced me to the Macoun, now my favorite apple. She also made one hell of an apple pie.

Cohabitation, in a Nutshell

When you live alone, you can wash your sheets at any time of day or night. You don't have to wait for your partner to vacate the bed, or invest in a cattle prod or scare tactics.

This is especially poignant here in the very early morning, after a sleepless night (which I chalk up to the fact that my hair smells like bacon - very distracting!).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Mind, Black Hole - Part 2

My can opener fell to the floor.
My can opener functions no more.

No tuna fish for me.
I shall eat this avocado with glee.
Tee hee tee hee tee hee!

The Sleep of the Innocent

So, last night I dreamt that I had the pleasure of popping a pimple on the lovely Katarina Witt's upper thigh, right below the ass fold.

Then we ate chicken and broccoli calzones.

Care to take a shot at analyzing that one?

It's a black hole sometimes, my head. Scary!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rhode Island's Unofficial State Motto

Golf Weekend Booty
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
I'm sure some of you believe this is not the case, and to you, I say congratulations on finding your happy place in this state.

I've thus far been a life-long resident, and have to say - I've never felt the love. Not as a child, not as a student, not as an adult woman.

I used to think it was me, but then I started to travel to different states, different countries, where people were actually kind, and not abrasive. Where the driving was perhaps aggressive, but not anencephalic. Where there was some semblance of concern for fairness and equity, and not just advancement based on who your friends and family know.

Now I know it's not me. Someday, when I am able to awaken in a place that feels right, that thought may bring me comfort.
For now, it just makes me angry that I 'wasted' so much time.

Rhode Island is a backwards mess filled with insular idiots who think they know it all - but never hold themselves up to any standard because they are so shut off from the rest of the world.

Rhode Island is not a meritocracy - it is an idiocracy. It's not about what you know or what you can do - only who you know and who owed your great uncle a favor 50 years ago, or who fears you because of whatever shitstorm you could set into motion in their lives.

When I tell people, in my travels, that I am from Rhode Island, I take it as a compliment when they say that I don't act like a Rhode Islander.

What a shame - such a gorgeous mass of land and historical landmarks is allowed to be ruined by its inhabitants.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Groudhog Day in September

If my legion of loyal readers has noticed that I've not been posting pics of meals lately, here's the simple explanation: they all look the same.
I've fallen into a grilling rut. I'm bored with what I cook, enough so that I don't even take photos most of the time, because it all looks the same - protein with grill marks, veggies, salad. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Every now and again I'll make a red sauce with meatballs and sausages for pasta. Last week I even made a beef stew with smoked bacon and blood sausage. But by and large, it's been grilled salmon, grilled chicken, grilled steak, grilled pork chops.

So it's with great excitement and giddiness that I bring you this news! Today I trudged through the light mist to the downtown farmers' market and found a rack of goat from Simmons Farm. So excited to have my way with it next week.

But the man wants his pasta, so guess what I'll be doing tomorrow? Yup. Making meatballs.

Be happy in the face of the rain.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sultry Summer Heat

Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
It's finally here, the summer we were all anticipating. As if it was our collective birthright!

(You know, right alongside life, liberty, the pursuit of the nebulous concept of happiness, and all that jazz.)

Wonder if all these vocal and vacant 'birthers' would grant those same rights to our Commander in Chief?

Anyhoo, this year we did our summer excursion thing at the tail end of the rainy season, which extended from April through the end of July here in New England. That translated into a drive up to Ogunquit, Maine by way of Boston and Revere Beach. It rained only one day (give or take) in Ogunquit, a place we'd not visited before and likely will not again, at least during the peak asshole season.
I tell you - it was teeming with tourists, and not in a good way. Think too many Disneyland-type families, but snobbier and more self-entitled. Yuck.
Plus, if you think it's hard to find flavorful and spicy food here in Little Rhody, do not venture farther north! I mean it when I say they think MILK is spicy. It became my mantra on the trip. I'd sit down to a meal with my man, and before I could even utter it, he'd say, "People here think milk is spicy!" Got to love that man...I sure do.

(Poor guy is suffering from some sort of summer sniffles and sore throat today. I've made him a big hearty pot of soup with a bounty of fresh veggies, plus some lentils and chicken thrown in for, you know, good measure and protein. I loaded him up with mega doses of Vitamin C and Sugar Free Cold Eeze, and put him to bed, tearing him away from his marathon of serial killer documentaries. For now.)

Back to the trip! We ate a lot of superlative chowder and lobster, but really, how hard is it to fuck up a boiled lobster? We had a couple of truly heinous meals, the worst offender being an escapade on our first night to a horrific excuse for a restaurant that I've come to believe is merely a fantasy forum for narcissism called Arrows. Oh my god, whatever you do in life, if you ever think about going to this place, just take a roll of hundred dollar bills and burn them instead. Seriously, it would bring you more pleasure, and the ashes would probably taste better than our food did. The biggest advantage to the cash burn would be avoiding the dozen of overly fawning, snobby, snooty, and stupidly self-conscious waitrons that 'took care of us'.
It says a lot when the first thing you're confronted with is a basket (a basket!) filled with 7 different choices of bottled water, accompanied with a speech about their sources. Wtf? Sparkling or still is sufficient, thanks. The grounds and gardens are amazingly gorgeous, but the entire experience just didn't come close to making that a worthwhile point. Anyway, I've said enough. I think.

The next day for brunch we were treated to a lobster roll the size of my pinkie at a place called Wild Blueberry Cafe (served by an uber-biatch of a waitress too, and accompanied by a sweet Bloody Mary).
Not so much.

We ate the best lobster-in-the-rough at a place called The Lobster Shack in Perkins Cove. So delicious! I suspect it's all in the water, which doesn't get changed all day, so the critters cook away in the crustacean equivalent of Babbo's pasta water. And the lobsters! They were just so fantastically fresh. The man and I each devoured one of our own, but then felt compelled by our inherent gluttony to share a third, which turned out to be the best specimen we'd eaten ever. So much roe, so much body meat. I could go on and on about that baby. The guys who were working there were very kind and cool, too.

The corn we ate in Maine was sweet and tender, much better than any we'd had here all season (until this past week when we found some from Barden's Farm (I think) at the Farmers' Market at Slater Mill on Sunday).

On our second day it poured, and we bought the biggest cashews of all time. That night we ate at an 'Italian' restaurant called Roberto's, primarily because it was directly across the street from our little cabin.
The service at Roberto's and the general feel of the place was very welcoming and homey yet professional. It was packed, but it was clearly well-run. The food was...good. I actually loved my meal, but I ordered a simply grilled piece of swordfish. We'd shared an antipasto to start, and while it was good, there were things missing that I consider basic ingredients for antipasto, like olives.
The man ordered the seafood fra diavolo, after asking both the bartender and our server if it indeed was spicy. He was assured that it was spicy even at baseline, but they could make it spicier if he so desired. He did, but guess what? It was sweet. SWEET! A sweet fra diavolo! I had to hijack a shaker of crushed red pepper. One other thing that bothered me about Roberto's is that the tables had green-tinted bottles of olive oil with what was clearly not green extra virgin olive oil inside them. Deception.

I'll stop there with the negativity, as I fear I've gone on too long as it is.

The best meal of the Ogunquit excursion was by far the place we stumbled upon, as fate would have it, on our final night. If we'd found Prime the first night we'd have eaten only there. It has only been open for a couple of seasons so far, and it's in a gorgeously renovated house that was many other restaurants before. Wood floors, open feel, freshly down to earth staff.
The menu runs to steakhouse, and isn't that big. We started with tuna tartar and a couple of Caesar salads - delicious. Then the man had a ribeye and I a tuna steak, simply grilled with the hot sauce on the side. Let me just say, we found our heat in Ogunquit. They even whipped up a special habanero jam for us which I slathered on without restraint. It felt so good to have my tastebuds stimulated after their long period of dormancy!
The sides at Prime stood out - way out. The man's carrots were stewed with onions and pork, the onion rings ethereally crisp and light. My asparagus was grilled to perfection, and my mushrooms were all umami. Yum.

GO to Prime. Go to Tapas and Tinis for a snack (I didn't expound, but we had a nibble there before our room was ready). Go to The Lobster Shack. Go to Cafe Amore for breakfast and great coffee, even though Rachael Ray liked it. But go early.
DO NOT go to Arrows, Wild Bullshit (er, Blueberry) Cafe, or The Egg and I.

We took the scenic route home and stopped at Woodman's in Essex, MA. I'd not been, but the man had vague but fond memories of childhood road trips there, complete with warring parents in the front seat. My parents tended toward the silent type of fights on road trips. We grew up so differently. It takes all kinds. Opposites attract.

Woodman's rocked, and yes, my Dionysian darling did devour most of that combo plate of fried seafood pictured. I had a scallop or 2, and I was force-fed a clam. I'm not such a fried food fanatic.
The place was packed at noon on a weekday. Great experience, and we even got to drive through Lynn on our way back to Providence. What a treat!

There you go, our summer vacation. The living was easy. The food was all over the place.

Funny thing - I had intended to write about how during my formative years my mother was always trying to change me while my father was (is?) always trying to change himself, and saw that self reflected in me, thus leading to angst and ultimately a breakdown in our relationship. But I think I made a better choice, don't you?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Los Andes Feast!

Los Andes Feast!
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats

Upper Left: Ceviche Mixto

Finally, real ceviche in Providence at this mecca or South American food!
This is not the sweet 'pseudo-ceviche' that the imposters try to pass off as the real thing - this is the real thing.

Containing mussels, tiny clams, squid rings and tentacles, and topped with onions, a solitary shrimp, and fried hominy kernels (think of a softer version of Corn Nuts!), this is always a winner. This version had chunks of what seemed like swordfish as well.

Upper Right: Anticuchos de Corazon

Skewered beef hearts over potatoes in a creamy green sauce. Yum!

I'd had chicken hearts before and remain a huge fan. These are similar in texture but with a bit more substance and bite. They possess a wonderful chewiness yet they are not tough or gamey by any means - very clean and tender. Delicious!

Lower Left: Sirloin Cap Special

Special last Sunday at Los Andes, with some kind of mustard was quite acidic (which I love) and we could taste the mustard even though we couldn't see it!

This was so tender and richly delicious!

Lower Right: Picante Mixto

Chicken and beef tongue with pureed aji rojo, onions, and peppers.

Oh my god, was this good! The tongue, which I'd not before tasted, was oh so much more tender than I'd ever imagined it could be. The chicken was falling off the bone tender, and the sauce - perfectly balanced with peppery goodness. I will get this again. Best part? It's only around $10!

I'm almost hesitant to post this as it's one of those situations where you wonder what the impact of 'letting the word out' will be, and try to balance that with helping bring in more business and new customers who may have not had the pleasure of Peruvian/ South American food!

The place seems to have a steady stream of regulars. We have been twice, each time on an early afternoon weekend day. The place was full of families and very welcoming and relaxed. I think we were the only white people there - everyone else was speaking Spanish. I loved that about the place - adds to the authenticity.

Los Andes is BYOB; they will be getting a liquor license July 20th but you'll still be welcome to bring your own bottle, we were told.

Los Andes
903 Chalkstone Avenue
Providence, RI 02908
(401) 649-4911

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dear James Woods...

...I think you're great.

I have always been a fan of the intensity you bring to each character you play. I am proud that you are a native Rhode Islander, as I am also from Warwick, where you originated.

I recently re-watched Any Given Sunday, and was blown away by your performance.

I loved Shark - what happened to that show? It was becoming a staple in my television lineup. You were amazing in it!

It seems that I see you at Rhode Island Hospital just about every summer these past several years. This began in 2006, when I had broken my leg and was waiting with you in the x-ray department one day in July. You were very cordial to those who approached you with their admiration, shaking hands, saying thank you. I was struck by your down to earth nature.
I didn't approach you, as I kind of have a policy about that. I wouldn't want to be bothered, so why inflict myself on others?

Anyway, I just wanted to put this out there. I'm a big fan.

I'm very sorry about your brother. Though it's no longer breaking news, having lost my own mom 12 years ago I know it takes a long time to work through something like this.

I do hope you were able to locate your mom's nurse, and that your family and you are doing well. Hope to see you on tv or the silver screen sometime very soon.

It'd be a dream to be able to be there with you!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Livin' in a Tent, Down by the River!!!

Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
According to yesterday's Projo there are 34 tents with 60 residents living in 'Tent City', located underneath a closed section of 195 that is set to be knocked down.
This is state owned land, an active construction site. It's the jurisdiction of neither the City of Providence nor the police, but the DOT.

These people are performing all the routine daily rituals involved in being a living organism (as my grandfather would say, "eating, drinking, pissing, and shitting", not to mention bathing and washing clothing) right there along our river, likely in the river itself.

Can you imagine the long term public health risks posed by this situation? It's the stuff that plagues are made of.

So what is the State of Rhode Island (and Providence Plantations, for now) doing about it?

Um...nothing. Sounds about right.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Some Like it Hot!

Some Like it Hot!
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
If you like super spicy food and you live in the US, chances are that you've had to go to great lengths to have your wishes fulfilled.

In our own experience, it takes a good 2 or 3 visits to a place before they really start to get it and believe that you're serious when you say, "Don't be afraid, and don't hold back - make it really really spicy!"

Each successive time we say that last time wasn't spicy enough, don't worry - we're not like typical Americans, yada yada yada...

They it clicks, and we are happily sweating and salivating.

Sometimes we even get a little bit of container art as a bonus. This was from Angkor on Wickenden Street. The food is solidly good, not great, but they are so friendly and accomodating that we keep coming back.

I wish they would do more with seafood and stop overcooking the shrimp. I also wish the noodle and rice dishes weren't so dry, but I suspect that's partly due to the styrofoam take-out containers they use. The nime chow is very good, and the tom yum soup is too. I usually order the salmon that they usually have as a special (sans the mango sauce which is likely too sweet). For me they include lots of spicy sauce and some steamed broccoli on the side. It makes me happy.

All in all, Angkor makes for a very satisfying post-Wickenden Pub Friday night take-out meal. It's not ground-breaking or extraordinary, but it's consistently quite good and we are treated with kindness, not contempt. Sometimes, especially around here, that can mean more than cutting edge.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Grilled Shrimp with Heads!

I found these big guys at Whole Foods on Waterman. I'd never seen shrimp with heads around in any local store, so I snatched them up!

They were a big hit with little effort. All it took was a simple marinade of olive oil and blackened seafood seasoning and a little time on the grill. Delicious.

I was reminded of how much better shrimp taste when cooked in the shell, heads or not!

Now if we could only bring on some grilling weather. It's been one soggy spring so far; this rain is getting old.

Newton Running Shoes

Newton Running Shoes
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats

Oh, hi! I got sucked into the vortex of Twitter. It fits so well with my short attention span.

Steven ordered these but they were too small, so you'll have to wait for a review!

He runs a lot and Newtons are supposed to "mimic the advantages of barefoot running", according to their website.
I can't imagine what benefits those would be, but what do I know?

(They remind me of McDonald's; Grimace on the insole would be better than Isaac, don't you think?)

I can say this - the website says they run true to size but it's not so. These run small. S had to go try on last year's model at City Sports on Thayer Street for size and exchange these. Newton's customer service couldn't be better, though.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Grilled Bison

Grilled Bison
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats

I'm not dead, just jet-lagged.

Last week's trip to the Sacramento area landed us at the home of a friend in El Dorado Hills (after being stuck in Folsom Traffic for hours, victim to some ingenious plan to merge 4 lanes into one, but I digress...).

Our friend has a beautiful A-frame house on top of a ridge. There were roosters, goats, and wild turkeys roaming around, and if you looked down the hill there was a field of bison, where a baby had just been born the week before. As cute and playful as this little baby bison was, I yearned to sample some meat as soon as I could get my hands on it.

Cut to last night: the Dinnerman and I grilled bison for the first time ever, and we loved it so much that it has earned a spot in the regular rotation!

I'd heard that bison meat was leaner than beef, so it was less tender and much easier to overcook. This made me a bit apprehensive, which is not always a bad thing.

The bison went into a very simple marinade of olive oil, garlic, parsley, a splash of cider vinegar, salt and pepper. After a few hours of soaking and a few minutes of grilling, we were groaning in delight as we bit into the tender and flavorful flesh.

The Dinnerman even indulged my latest television obsession in the form of an evening of 'In Treatment' episodes - something he rarely will do without a grumble. I give partial credit the bison! The other part goes to the previous night's linguini with clams:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Muddling Through

Old Fashioned
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats

Today was rainy, rainy, rainy - continuous drizzle punctuated by spells of downpours.
I chanced a brief walk to the gym in the afternoon, and the pregnant sky was kind to me - she held together until the moment I got home. Then - whoosh!

April is difficult like that. I've often said that the climate in Rhode Island is suitable for only 6 months of the year - May through October. I stand by that declaration. The other aspects of life here (the corrupt politics; the ignorance and anger that permeates the general population; the extremely high cost of living without salaries to match; the lack of industry/jobs; the generally poor attitude, aptitude, and altitude of the citizens; the shocking lack of skill among bartenders - on 3 recent occasions I had to teach Manhattans 101; the lack of exceptional sushi...I'll stop there, for now) are not so savory, but the weather is truly wonderful from May through the end of October.

So, we're almost there, meteorologically speaking. Thus my thoughts on muddling through.

I found this recipe for an Old Fashioned in the March 2009 issue of Gourmet Magazine. It was the cocktail of the month, by Dale DeGroff in The Essential Cocktail. It involved muddling, which I'd not done before! But the result was delicious, and I'm enjoying the fruits of my labor whilst the rain continues to fall.

I deviated a bit from the recipe since I did not have any cherries on hand, only a sour cherry syrup. I think I used less sugar (granulated, not superfine bar sugar), because I don't like my drinks overly sweet. But it's hard to say because I did not measure. I used Evan Williams bourbon and did not measure that either, because I'm like that. But the results were very good and the technique very easy.

The following is the recipe as quoted from Gourmet Magazine, March, 2009:


The Old Fashioned

Dale DeGroff, in The Essential Cocktail (Clarkson Potter; $35) muddles a teaspoon of superfine bar sugar, three dashes of Angostura bitters, a slice of orange, a cherry (we used Luxardo's marasche), and a splash of water or club soda in an Old Fashioned glass. He then removes the fruit solids, adds ice and two ounces of bourbon, stirs, and garnishes the drink with an orange slice and a cherry. It shows off bourbon's charms."

I couldn't agree more.

April Showers

So what's the deal, Spring? It's been pouring off and on since yesterday afternoon. There go the plans we had to throw some fish on the grill tonight.
But it's the 21st century, after all, and we can bake this delicate turbot inside. I've been quite inspired by several of you out there in the blogosphere (and you know who you are!) to concoct a variation on the roasted beet, avocado, walnut, and cilantro salad theme on the side.

So, as I sit here and smell my cilantro-scented fingers, I am reminded once again of how good we have it in life, and how things could always be much, much worse - both with respect to dinner options and finger scents.

In other news, the Dinnerman and I had a lovely day Saturday visiting his mom in Revere Beach. The weather was beautiful and we got to eat at one of our favorite places - The Newbridge Cafe in Chelsea. Sunday we had the pleasure of brilliant sunshine and a late lunch at Madeira.
Last night my eccentric aunt called from Idaho at 3:30 am to let me know that there will be meteor showers tonight. Somehow I don't think they'll be visible through the cloudcover, but one never does know. (I love my aunt - she and I are startlingly alike in so many ways.)
Tomorrow night we have a dear friend visiting, and he wants some New England seafood, so Hemenway's it is. He trained with the Dinnerman long ago and is from Brazil by way of Omaha. The man loves food, and we've already taken him to Bacaro and Al Forno.

Stay tuned for what I hope will prove to be the most interesting meal I have cooked in 4 months.

And stay dry!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I'm Boring These Days, and I'm Bored

And all my meals look the same.

Spring is officially here and it still feels like winter. I've had a generalized case of the extreme blahs lately, like there's not much on the immediate horizon to look forward to. I'm sick of what I cook and kind of sick of my day-to-day. Not that I've ever been any good at routine. It sucks the life out of me. It drives me mad and bores me to pieces.

I hate predictability, and that's just what everything has been lately. Yuck.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
This is a corn pudding dessert that we first tried about a month ago on a Sunday afternoon visit to Casa Brasil.
There was a pan of this snowy white soupy stuff on the buffet table, amid the usual delicious victuals: the feijoida; the bacalhao with potatoes and peppers; the sauteed kale and stewed okra; the plethora of salads and stewed meats.

Ever curious, we inquired...and lo and behold, it was not a savory dish at all, but a toothsome take on a dessert pudding. Milky, chewy, speckled with coconut and sweetness - this is the Portuguese (or Brazilian? I've not yet plumbed that depth) answer to rice pudding, albeit made with white corn.

Rose Barros, who along with her husband Joe own and run Casa Brasil, was kind enough to send me home with a bag of the dried white corny stuff and a recipe. Since I don't read a word of Portuguese and the wrapper was written entirely in that language (which despite its similarities to the Spanish I studied from 7th grade through college is really very different), I'm not even sure what the main ingredient 'canjica' exactly is. It's on my list of subjects to Google, and my shorter list of ingredients to source. But here's the recipe, in case you have more immediate access to the elusive main ingredient than I.


Soak a bag of canjica (dried white corn) in water overnight.

Drain the soaking water and place in a large pot. Cover with half water and half whole milk, bring to a simmer, and cook until done. (It took about an hour and a half to get to that yummy tender but still chewy stage - I called that done!)

Then, add a cup of granulated sugar, a can of condensed milk, and half a bag of dried coconut. I used unsweetened coconut so I had to add a bit more sugar to taste.

I think Rose told me to add some nutmeg, but I was completely out. It was delicious anyway, warm or chilled.

This recipe made 3 quarts which we enjoyed all week. It made the Dinnerman very, very happy.

I noticed a Portuguese market on Warren Avenue in East Providence, and I plan to check it out next time around...

Happy April!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Photos Unavailable?

I just noticed that in many of my posts my Flickr photos appear to be unavailable. If you click on them, they are indeed there on Flickr, so I'm not sure what is happening here. It will likely need attention and time from me, so I apologize in the meantime.


Today is my 36th birthday. How did I make it this far? I don't know how all that time went by; time goes by in the blink of an eye, but somehow the days and nights are long.

So far today it's been very exciting: I washed my sheets and had lunch at the hospital with the Dinnerman, as it seems he will be working late this evening.

Last night we did have a wonderful meal at Al Forno. I had the grilled scallops with mushrooms and creamy parsnips. I highly recommend this dish; it's become my new favorite there.

I've not had much to say lately. I just kind of feel lost and deflated, and I'm not entirely sure why. I've lost 3 people in the past month, but really was only close to one of them. Maybe that has just been a sobering reminder of the fleeting nature of life, and how it is all about loss in the end.

I kind of feel like I'm just drifting about with no purpose and nothing to look forward to, and it is rather unnerving. I'm getting older and thought I'd have more to show for it by now, I guess.

Maybe it's just that I'm sick of the cold weather and sick of the day-to-day. I need a change.

Happy Spring!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Goodbye, My Friend

My friend Ghosh passed away last night after a brave battle with liver cancer. He fought longer than any of us thought was possible, and finally slipped away.

It was very hard to witness his decline, as Ghosh was always so smart, funny, elegant, and larger than life itself. To watch this giant of a man lose a little more of himself each day was heartbreaking. Clearly it was angering to him as well, which made it all the more difficult.

This picture is exactly how I will remember him.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Gulf Lover, Me.

Room with a view
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
Cannot believe I've been home less than one week. I feel like I need muchisimo mas de the Gulf of Mexico. Perhaps the remainder of my lifetime - and even that may not be enough.

Watching the Amazing Race, wishing I could be on that too. Want to be a flight attendant. Want to never touch down. Wanderlust. Strikes. Hard. Continuously.

In other news, it's quite exciting to have had a weekend here in RI with temps in the 60's. Very encouraging.

On the front of things somewhat discouraging, our dear friend is not long for this world. His spirit, however, is as dominant and full of life as ever, when he attains consciousness. Today he did such and was speaking a melange of English, French, Bengali, and Gibberish. Only from his lips could that mix sound elegant. And it did.

It all makes me realize how damn lucky I am. I have my health (as far as I can tell); I have a man who adores me (and who is a recipient in turn of my constant affections); I eat well, always; I have a warm and cozy bed in which I lay my body each night - next to the one man I love more than anything or anyone on the planet. I lack nothing. Nothing at all.

Look around yourself, and revel.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Misadventures in the (Not So) Friendly Skies!

Our little late winter jaunt to Cozumel was great - just what the doctor ordered.
Mostly we just bummed around on the beach and relaxed, drinking too many Margaritas (if there is such a thing) and eating delicious food.
We scheduled a fishing expedition with the enticing promise of catching some mahi mahi or tuna, but strong winds made the harbor master nervous and it was not to be. Those winds were also quite foreboding with regard to our return trip in the middle of a snowstorm that crippled the entire east coast. Leave it to us to garner the fortune of scheduling our return trip for that very day.

Since my camera is in my luggage which is stuck in some yet-to-be-determined location, this post will focus on our little misadventure in commercial air travel. The next one will give you a taste of our beautiful trip! But today, with regret, it's the bad news first.

The first leg of our return journey was great (if you consider anything about leaving Mexico to be great) but all hell broke loose once we missed our connecting flight in Philly by about 5 minutes. Without reliving all the gory details, let's just say that instead of enjoying Chinese delivery on our couch in our warm home last night as planned, we wound up at a hotel in Philadelphia at 1 am eating microwaved Lean Cuisine and drinking Sutter Home Chardonnay straight from the bottle. Good times!
The folks at the Courtyard by Marriott could not have been more accomodating, though I cannot say anything near the same about any of the people we encountered at the US Airways "help desk" at the Philadelphia airport - and that may be the understatement of my lifetime.

So, after about 3 hours of sleep we dragged our under-caffeinated and under-dressed asses in the freezing and icy early morning darkness back to the airport, only to find that the flight we were booked on to Boston was cancelled. Okay then! No problem. We'll just add a couple more connections to this journey and the next thing you know we're acting out The Amazing Race.

They made us go through security twice, delayed a couple more flights, and lost our luggage, but now we're home. Ever the optimist, I am thankful for the delay in getting our bags home. Less laundry! Now I'm off to take a long hot shower to wash that air travel experience right out of my hair. Never have I been so happy to return home to Rhody. Not. Ever.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ramblings, and a Few Words About Nashville Noshing

Trout, City House
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
First off, let's talk about this pic. As I mentioned in a previous post, while the Dinnerman and I were in Nashville a couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure of dining at 3 of the city's best restaurants, kindly recommended to me by the lovely Claudia of cookeatfret.

We ate at Ombi first, and had the best sweetbreads of our lives, among other wonders. Even though we were a party 7 we were treated like royalty. Sure, it was a Monday night - the Monday after the Superbowl, to boot - and sure, we had the place pretty much to ourselves. But make no mistake - Ombi has great people involved. We got a little tipsy on the unique cocktails and delicious wine, and the Dinnerman made the error of double tipping, but the gentleman who took care of us was kind enough to call our hotel and alert us to that fact. As I've said before, in Rhode Island they'd celebrate with their fingers in the air. Kudos to Ombi.

In fact, I will go out on a limb here and declare that Nashville has amazingly kind and accomodating people involved in the preparation and serving of food and drink. This extends beyond the 3 fine establishments on which I've taken details and menus. I ate alone at many a meal and without fail was treated like Buddy Cianci at the Capital Grille here in PVD.

I don't know how much of my observation is tainted by my Rhode Island upbringing. I am who I am. I was born with a sensitive soul and raised in one of the most harsh and nasty places on the planet. Until I was 19 and visited relatives in California as an adult I thought that the entire world's population was as obnoxious, ignorant, and self-entitled as the people that surround me here on all sides in this tiny, isolated, and disgustingly out-of-touch state. To this day displays of kindness take me aback.

In fact, yesterday I managed to start fights with not one but two groups of elderly people with silver spoons up their East Side noses and sticks up their asses. I'm sorry if this sounds evil - I didn't instigate these encounters, I promise you. More about those to come. For now I will conclude the Rhode Island bashing with notes on today's early morning coffee-in-bed conversation between the Dinnerman and I.
He often says that RI is truly an Isle of Misfits and should secede from the union and just become a sovereign nation unto itself. (He's from Revere, MA - just outside Boston, where he was educated - and has spent a decade in Cleveland, where there actually are societal rules that people follow.)

I have always responded that the people here could never get it together well enough to make that happen, even if they wanted to. Heads in the asses, out of touch, yada yada yada. Hell, people won't even drive from Warwick or Woonsocket to Providence (a 20 minute trip) without packing a suitcase. Think I'm kidding? Seriously and unfortunately, I'm not.

Anyhoo, I had a bright idea this morning. I believe mere secession would not be enough. I wish we were on a tectonic plate here because it might make what I propose easier - a mere act of nature: Rhode Island should just be physically shaved off of the continental United States and set adrift in the Atlantic Ocean. That would provoke some Darwinian weeding out! We could do it next February on Darwin's birthday. What do you think? Of course, we'd have to do some intelligence screenings beforehand, so that those who are actually worthy can get their asses to Massachusetts or something...

Wow. I guess I am all wound up. This is going in a direction I hadn't intended. Maybe I've seen too many promos for 'The Reader'; maybe I've gotten into too many fights with the natives lately. I believe RI is a physically beautiful place, infiltrated with much corruption and too many isolated idiots. But that's just me.

The intended Nashville ramblings will have to wait, as the man just got home and I've got some steaks to cook.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pair of Hearts

Pair of Hearts
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
Happy Valentine's Day to all 3 of my loyal readers!

This is a photo of the pair of chicken hearts I roasted with a whole bird last week. The little guy on the right was inside the cavity of the chicken, and the big heart on the left was a fortuitous find inside a package of chicken livers. I got the baby, the Dinnerman got the giant.

Yesterday was not the best of days for me, and marks my first problematic Friday the 13th.

I awoke around 6:15 am with abdominal cramps, and it was all downhill from there, if you know what I mean. I won't get into the gory details. Suffice it to say that a morning full of gastrointestinal distress morphed into an afternoon of fever, chills, and some of the worst myalgias and arthalgias I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

The Dinnerman kept calling to make sure I was still alive, and, bless his heart, returned home with Gatorade and ginger ale. By then I was pretty much over the hump, but you know something's wrong when I go to the Hot Club and order a ginger ale.

After that, we ate some Chinese food and watched reruns of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'. It felt so good to laugh really hard; it felt even better to sleep for 10 hours and wake up feeling much more like myself.

Hope your day is a good one, and Cupid treats you well. In the wake of my own (thankfully relatively short-lived) sickness and that terrible and fatal plane crash in Buffalo, NY, I'm reminded of the importance of appreciating each moment with the person I love most in this life.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rose-colored Glasses

Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
Just in the nick of time, I found these glasses in the bathroom of Ombi in Nashville. Then the seven of us passed them around the table in what was a sort of ritualistic invocation of good wishes and hope.

Or maybe it was just a drunk-fest. Whatever you want to call it, it was necessary and welcome!

We all ended the night ringing in a friend's 30th birthday at an Irish bar with great live music. In Nashville. The world is a strange place, ridiculous and sublime.

The Week in Chicken and Cod

Chicken Liver Ragu!
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
Each time we travel I return with a strong urge to cook. As I prepare meals at home with more regularity I find that I miss that process strenuously when it's taken out of my routine for more than a couple of days.

Last week we were in Nashville, where we ate some very satisfying meals. But I did no cooking at all (unless you call ruining the in-room coffee in the hotel mini-pot cooking) and dammit all, I missed it!

It felt good to go grocery shopping on Monday morning, a task I usually dread. It felt good to say hello to the familiar faces who know me by name at my local stores. It felt good to haul heavy bags down the hall and sort through their contents in my kitchen. (I even remembered to bring my reusable bags, which I often forget to do.)

This week I wanted to roast a whole chicken - something I'd been avoiding of late because roasting only the breasts is just easier and I was in a rut.

I wanted to make a big pot of golden chicken stock, because I am a purist and I have a sinus headache and though I touted its merits at the time, that last multi-animal bone jiggly version I'd created was just not as good as the real thing, which perfumed my home today.

I wanted a big piece of cod, because I love cod. That's what we will be eating tonight. (Cod is not chicken. I had to amend my title.)

And because we'd had an over-salted version of it at City House in Nashville, I wanted to make a flavorful chicken liver ragu.

I'd planned to add some ground pork to the ragu, but the package I had smelled a bit questionable so I added some crimini mushrooms instead. Other than that it was the same procedure as last time, except I used a can of crushed tomatoes (instead of a quart of pre-made meat gravy from the freezer), and I cut the livers into much smaller pieces. This version was a clear winner - we devoured the entire 12 ounce package of pappardelle - and thankfully there was about a quart of the ragu left over to freeze for future use.

I didn't follow a recipe per se, but what follows is the basic idea. Though I don't mention it, everything gets a hit of salt and pepper as it goes into the pot.

Finely chop about half a red onion and a head of garlic cloves and saute over medium-low heat in olive oil in a big pot until softened. Then raise the heat to high and add about 10 ounces of chicken livers, diced into small pieces (I used scissors - be sure to discard any gall bladders and overtly visible connective tissue).
Add about 4 ounces of diced mushrooms and saute until the livers are just cooked. Add a splash of red vermouth and simmer for a few more minutes. Then add a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes and some ribbons of fresh sage leaves. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasonings to your liking.

I like my ragus to 'mature' for a day before serving, so I made this on Tuesday and we ate it Wednesday night. I think the flavors deepen this way, but you can certainly eat it immediately after cooking. It's delicious either way!

I boiled a 12 ounce package of dried pappardelle, though fettuccine would work, as would shells or orrechiette - anything that would hold the gravy and bits of livers!

Top with grated romano and fresh sage leaves, and watch your man (or whomever you are feeding) melt into a helpless puppy dog!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Eating Nashville

We've been here in Nashville for the past several days - the Dinnerman for work and me for play! I experienced a long overdue deep tissue massage, but besides that haven't done much more that eat and drink. Very nice escape indeed!

This is the short version of the food report; for all the juicy details y'all will have to wait 'till I get home and have a chance to download all my pics and refer to my menus.

Claudia, of cookeatfret fame (, gave me her top 3 restaurants in Nashville and we were fortunate enough to visit each one. We did Ombi first, then Watermark, and finally City House.

I'll give you the brief hilights, with more to follow.

At Ombi I ate the best sweetbreads of my entire life and found some rose-colored glasses in the bathroom, which I quickly and quietly appropriated. We were a party of 7 so the gratuity was included. The Dinnerman didn't notice and tipped an additional 20%, and they were kind enough to call me and tell me about it. In RI, somehow I don't think that would have been the case!

At Watermark - my favorite of the 3 dining experiences by far - I had an other-worldly appetizer of sauteed escargot with sweet potato dumplings and shaved truffles that was better than multiple orgasms. If you can believe it, this was my first encounter with shaved truffles. So sad I waited this long.

At City House, which is housed in an old aluminum factory and reminded me of Al Forno, we drank a fantastic Italian red and ate cured ham with peanuts, delicious olives, and the biggest taralli I've ever seen. The chef was a little heavy-handed with the salt, but the food was fabulous and we got to try Prichard's bourbon, which I definitely need to source.

Gotta run to the airport now...I have to leave you hanging. The people are so kind here it's beyond belief. I think I need to leave New England...

Friday, January 30, 2009

They Grow Up So Fast!

Grow a Rubber Ducky
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats

Almost 2 months ago I started growing this rubber ducky in a milk bottle, suspended by a roach clip (er...Kelly Clamp, else I offend the medical professional in my midst).

Here is a link to rubber ducky's humble beginnings:

Just look at him now!

In other news, I'm hoping for a sushi-fest on this last Friday of the month, but perhaps the man will be too offended at the size of the pants I bought him to oblige.

In any case, tomorrow we leave for Nashville. It will be my first time, and as the Dinnerman will be at a conference much of the time, I will have a chance to explore on my own - one of my favorite things to do in a new locale!

More Random Notes:

  • Sunday, February 1, 2009, would have been my mother's 60th birthday.
  • I was born in the year of the Ox, and hope this bodes well for my luck this year! (and no, I'm not turnung 12 or do the math, folks...)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Homemade Unorthodox Stock

Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
What I Did Yesterday With All My Freezer Bones

Yesterday I made stock from all the bones in the freezer. They were starting to scare my boyfriend, with whom I happily cohabitate. I can't say that I blame him - he knows I'm not normal, but all those baggies of bones can raise the question of just how far off the beaten path I've gone.

Plus, it was deceiving. The freezer looked full, but it wasn't exactly full of things to thaw for dinner!

Genesis of My Decision to Save Bones in the Freezer

Over the past year or so, I started saving chicken bones in a freezer bag until there were enough to boil away for a few hours with some herbs, garlic, and onion ends (and carrots and celery if they are on hand). The results are amazing - far and above any of that canned, cubed, or boxed crap they sell on supermarket shelves. It's true what has been widely said in the 'foodie' community: water is better than store-bought imitation stock.

What I Did Differently This Time in My Stock-making

This time, I did something quite unorthodox. On a rather recent trip to Hong Meas, a Cambodian-influenced pan-Asian restaurant in East Providence which I frequent and love (and about which I've written before, the lovely owner Sofia told me a secret of her magic broth. She uses not only chicken bones, but a combination of whatever meat bones she has on hand, which mostly includes pork.

This caused me to start saving pork bones from all the takeout bbq ribs we've been eating from United BBQ, which opened a couple of months ago and now delivers.

I understood the risks involved. This method could have made a stock that tasted like bbq, which obviously would not be good!

Results of My Unorthodox Stock-making Approach

But that didn't happen. What did happen was something wonderful, and something I would definitely do again. I think it's important for the chicken bones to outnumber the pork rib bones, and in this instance I felt some brightening was called for, which came in the form of fresh cilantro (mostly stems).

It can definitely be argued that I am certifiably nuts, but what cannot be argued is the quality of my stock results. I only wish I had as much command over the stock market as I do the stock pot!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Educated Guess

Educated Guess
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
This stuff is delicious, and I love the label!

We've been drinking a lot of it in these parts, and I must say, it improves my Wii bowling technique considerably.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Shrimp 'Pil-Pil'

Shrimp 'Pil Pil'
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats

Just to prove to you people that our dinners consist of more than 'beef one thousand ways', here is an appetizer that made us very happy one recent evening.

I had made a run to Whole Foods on Waterman for some fish, and ended up buying some of the most delicate and flavorful cod ever, plus some of their lovely mustard-flavored panko crumbs. (What can I say, it's become a habit of mine. Habit and routine lead to a dull spirit, I agree with Mr. Samuel Beckett on this, but I cannot help falling over into that abyss every now and then...I am weak, and severely lacking in the self-discipline department, especially in snowy, cold winter. But I digress.)

Whole Foods also had an array of unusual-for-them whole fish, some cleaned and gutted, some not. There were gorgeous smelts, whole halibut, whole sea bass, whole grouper, and the rarely-seen-in-these-parts whole sardines!

But what jumped out at me and whispered sweet nothings in my ear were the fresh Maine shrimp. I'd had them before and remembered the briny - almost nutty - flavor, the tender texture, the taste of the crisp winter sea.
Plus, they were I think $3.99 a pound. So, I bought a pound, thinking I'd figure something out - maybe lunch for me? Maybe an appetizer for us?

My altruism took over and I decided to share. (The man even offered to help peel the little buggers! I think perhaps he didn't expect me to say yes to this offer, but say yes I did.)

Inspired at the 11th hour, I chopped some fresh garlic, mixed it with some chili oil that we'd saved from a recent Little Chopsticks delivery (they have the best hot oil, by the way...and homemade Chinese mustard, and it's so worth it to eat their food even though it makes you so bloated for at least 2 they are lightning-fast in their delivery and so so nice...but this is clearly fodder for another post), and popped the whole concoction under the broiler. They were done in no time at all.

I called it 'Pil-Pil' because when we were in Spain last May, every seafood appetizer that was garlicky and spicy (and usually shrimpy as well) was called Pil-Pil. The man got sick of it, but that was then. This is now. Try it, if you can.

You won't be disappointed.


Broiled Garlic Ribeye
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
It's been quite a week around here! Last Tuesday we had a leaking pipe declare itself by dripping on the Dinnerman's head while he was using the downstairs facilities. (It was funny actually - I could hear him singing 'Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head')
Holes in the ceilings and walls ensued; loud fans and enormous dehumidifiers occupied our living room, bedroom, and 2 bathrooms for 5 days!

We were going gaga from the noise. It was impossible to sleep without earplugs, and we were tripping a circuit each time we turned on the tv. That especially sucked since we just got a Wii and have a mild addiction developing!

So, you can imagine our relief when Providence Fire Restoration came to take those suckers (blowers, whatever) away. They wheeled the machines out the door at a fitting time - just as our new president was giving his oath. (I thought he was nervously forgetting the words, but later learned the truth! It was being read to him incorrectly. And I heard that Obama is so thorough that he had the swearing in process repeated correctly! I love that, as I would do the same.)

Anyhoo, back to the food!

Last night I broiled steaks - ribeye for the Dinnerman, sirloin strip for me. I loaded them with garlic and olive oil and broiled them until they were perfectly medium rare.
Along with the meat I roasted up some red potatoes with garlic and sliced red, yellow and green hot peppers in plenty of olive oil. I also threw together a simple salad of baby spinach, red onion, tomatoes, and feta.

Steakhouse meal in a snap, complete with the pre-dinner Maker's Manhattan, in a quiet home.

Still, I can't wait for January to end. February promises a couple of trips to warmer climes.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Broiled Steak Tips

Broiled Steak Tips
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
We had this last night: broiled steak tips with garlic cloves and jalapenos; spinach and onion salad with feta; mashed potatoes; Jonathan Edwards Zin.

I guess it's rather boring, but it's simple to prepare and easy to clean up. With all this plumbing bullshit that's been going on this week and the frigid temperatures, I want comfort and ease, please!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Originally uploaded by whatstepheats

Yes! My upstairs bathroom is leaking into my downstairs bathroom!

Yes! The problem is not straightforward and the plumbers are confounded as well!

Yes! The solution will likely involve a very large hole in my ceiling!

Yes! Said solution will also likely cost a lot of money!

Yes! I waited around all day for the plumbers to arrive!

Yes! I waited around all day on the day of the scheduled fire alarm testing!

Yes! Experiencing the all-day fire alarm testing in my building has left me with a residual pounding headache!

Yes! It's cold and dreary outside!

Yes! I'm tired and cranky!

Yes! The man is even more tired and cranky!

Yes! I wanna be sedated!

Yes! This book is clearly not helping any more than a couple of Klonopin washed down with some bourbon would!

Yes! That's my next plan of action for the evening!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Broiled Sirloin Tips, Roasted Broccoli Salad

I dropped the man off at Theodore Francis Green Airport yesterday afternoon for a quick business trip to Hotlanta. Hopefully the snow we're expecting tomorrow will not interfere with the 'quick' part of that equation.

I then made a beeline for the gym, where I actively participated in an hour long Pilates mat class and a 45 minute spinning class! I hadn't worked out that much all year, so I felt deserving of something more decadent than PB&J, or green eggs and ham, or Fellini's.

I'd picked up some 'singleton' provisions for cases like these, when sudden powerful hunger and/or strong inspiration loom. Last night I wasn't so much inspired as plain hungry, so a simple prep with easy cleanup seemed just the thing. The broccoli was roasted with a splash of olive oil and some garlic, and then went into a salad of baby spinach, a leftover baked potato, and some tiny tomatoes. The sirloin tips went under the broiler with nothing more than a sprinkle of kosher salt. Easy peasy.

Well, wait. Let me back this up a bit. My original plan had to do with a certain vegetable that had been hanging out in my kitchen since October - a long, curvaceous butternut squash.
I thought
I'd finally use it in a very healthy concoction including brown rice and red lentils, thereby preventing any potential unused vegetable remorse as well as creating a large batch of a healthy dish I could pick at over the next few days of dining solo, which is not my dining method of choice, to say the least. It was an attempt to assuage my spirit through the catharsis of cooking in a big pot, use up a withering squash, and make a healthy dish that our resident obligate carnivore would no doubt abhor.
Guess what? It didn't do any of the above. It tasted fine, if a little blah, and I have no doubt it will get eaten - whenever I become really hungry with no other immediate plan in sight. It just wasn't moving my spirit last night. Maybe it just needs some cheese. Or bacon. Maybe I can make it into croquettes, or soup!

So, there it is. That's the open book of my exercise and food consumption last evening.

(Anyone want to come over for some butternut squash, red lentils, and brown rice? No? What if I called it 'curried butternut risotto'? Still no? What if I bring it to you? I could pick up some libations on the way, and a dvd or two...)

Happy Friday, guys. There's a re-run of Tuesday night's 'new' Nip/Tuck that has my name all over it on FX at 10. I hope to stay conscious for the entirety of this one.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy Baked Sea Scallops!

These scallops were originally intended to be part of a Christmas Eve pasta dish, but the man threw a little fit - insisting that the pasta be made with shrimp, not scallops, because that's how he remembered it from his childhood - so what could I do but relegate these succulent sea scallops to a temporary freeze and rush out to get some shrimp. I found the Salvation Army bells (and the rest of the human race) especially grating that afternoon. I wanted to hit the bell-ringer over the head with his instruments, in fact! Bah, humbug. Hey, I'm human.

We all get a little nuts around the holidays. I can't hold it against the Dinnerman, who can be rather volatile on a good day. Our life histories have ways of surfacing when we least expect them to, in ways we could never anticipate. Mom and dad may have tried their bests, but often what's embedded in the grown-up psyches of their posterity is not what they had planned. I am no stranger to this dynamic. He (or she) who is without blame...right? That's not me. My day-to-day is more often than not speckled with hauntings of my past.

So admittedly, the Christmas Eve shrimp linguini dish I made was made with a little more angst than love. It wasn't one of my best efforts, to say the least.

But these scallops last night? These babies are another chapter entirely. I thawed them out and they smelled so sweet.
I was actually looking forward to cooking as I hadn't been doing much in the way of cooking this past week.

So, when I got home from my first spinning class of 2009, I got to 'work'. I popped some red potatoes in the oven first. I wanted to taste that crispy skin.

Then I spread the scallops on a baking sheet and drizzled a tiny bit of olive oil on them. They got a dusting of the pistachio panko crumbs I am fond of from Whole Foods, and a pat or two of butter. Into the oven they went!

While the scallops cooked and perfumed our home with their sweet, sweet perfume, I prepared a salad of romaine lettuce, red onion, chick peas, grated carrot, thinly sliced jalapenos, tangerine zest, tangerine supremes, olive oil, and a splash of cider vinegar.

Yumminess on a plate!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Car 'faux' nara

Car 'faux' nara
Originally uploaded by whatstepheats
I made this for lunch yesterday. Improvisation is my strong suit. Perhaps I should have pursued a career on stage! (Not kidding here...)

This was so simple: hot al dente linguini tossed w/ an egg, a splash of olive oil, a bit of butter, some diced soppressata, grated romano cheese, crushed red pepper, and the last few cherry tomatoes.

It hit the spot!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sesame Seared Tuna at Hemenway's

Apologies for being so scarce. Guess that's better than being scary, though I shudder to think how many are afraid.

The Dinnerman worked and worked with a sinus infection and nary a day off right through Christmas, so we've been enjoying his well-deserved time off around New Year's by doing a whole lot of nothing.

Nothing but eating and drinking, that is.

Today's foray was an impromptu one to one of our closest and well-loved yet under-frequented places - Hemenway's.

I have long been a big fan of Hemenway's. I am a huge seafood fan, so that's a natural draw right there.
Also, it's very close to home, but I guess I loved it even before that was true.

So what pulls me through that door? What makes Hemenway's roll off my tongue whenever I'm asked where I want to go - any place, any distance, any style of food, any price? What has made me choose Hemenway's for my birthday dinner - every year for a decade?

First of all, the place is comfortable. It boasts huge vaulted ceilings and lots of wood. The bar is elevated in the center of the space, and there is that huge lobster tank and oyster station right in front.
Then of course there is the matter of the food that makes its way to my table! I've not had a bad meal there, ever, and that says something. Nor has the service ever been lacking, and that really says something in Rhode Island! If you've eaten out anywhere around my hometown lately (or even long ago) you know what I mean. "Service with a smile" is not a ubiquitous concept in these parts. Many places treat you with contempt, even. And let's face it, the way you are treated is a huge part of the dining out experience.
At Hemenway's you are never rushed, talked down to, or neglected. Whoever is in charge of this place is doing things the right way.

They are also open early on Sundays, which in my experience is not common for restaurants of this caliber around here! For us old farts, that's a bonus.

Today we began with a selection of oysters in pairs: Duxbury, MA (concentrated and salty, small); Moonstone, RI; Raspberry Point, PEI (huge!); and Bluepoint. All amazing, served with a sharp mignonette and the more New England-ey cocktail sauce with horseradish. They really hit the spot! We hadn't had oysters in a while. While I've meant to get my ass to the farmers' market to try those from Matunuck, it hasn't happened yet. This Saturday, for sure, though. I've got a date with my foodie neighbor and his boyfriend in from Russia!

But I digress...

Entrees come with a house or caesar salad plus your choice of a side, which includes veggie of the day; baked, fried, or mashed potatoes; rice pilaf; or cole slaw.
We stick with the caesar salads whenever possible, and Hemenway's doesn't disappoint. They even do the extra anchovy thing. (Some restaurants that have caesars on the menu don't even stock anchovies...what's up with that?)

I ordered the tuna entree, prepared in the style of the tuna appetizer. The Dinnerman did this once; I have learned well from one of the masters of consumption.

The man (who, by the way, wants to be known as "Pudgy Funster" from now on) had the baked scallops. It just came to him as his first thought, and then we saw an order go by us to another diner, so that was that. So succulent, so sweet. Mmm.

That's all I have to say. Oh, and they do an amazing Stoli Doli. Watch out though, they pack a punch on a sunny Sunday afternoon.