Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween: Sun-Maid Raisin Girl!

Bwah-ha - I pulled it off!

To totally toot my horn: this was my best costume ever. Not only was it well-received, it was comfortable (jeans and red flip-flops on the bottom). Oh, and I didn't look like a hooker! I think that's one reason why people (especially ladies in underwear-as-outerwear costumes) liked my costume: it was original and didn't pander...note that I wasn't a "sexy" boobs-a-poppin' Sun-Maid Raisin Girl. And I had little boxes of raisins to hand out! People love getting miniature food items on Halloween!

  • 23" embroidery hoop
  • Yellow fabric
  • Elastic arm straps
  • Custom-made bonnet from Grandma's Girl
  • White top from Goodwill
  • Basket tray from Goodwill
  • Fake grapes - the most expensive part of my costume!
  • Sun-Maid Raisins
Why, oh, why does Halloween only come once a year? Sigh. I had a great one this year: went to a fun party with work people, drank good beer (Dead Guy Ale), reunited with my somewhat estranged boyfriend, was asked to pose in pictures with various strangers - a really fun night.

Another fun part of my night? Handing out eyeball kamikaze jelly shots! Those are coming up tomorrow - stay tuned!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What's for dinner tonight? Breakfast!

Menu: Challah French Toast, Simply Potatoes ® Southwest Style Hash Browns

Multitasking: talked to Mom, looked for last night's Daily Show online, talked to sick employee, talked to sister. Not that dinner took this long to prepare - everyone psychically knew that I was firing up the stove for the first time in awhile and they wanted to psyche me out, distract me, make me do something story-worthy while cooking. So, they all called at the same time. I smell collusion!

The Story Behind the Food: Sunday was Baking Day here at la maison de BPDubs. Several years ago, I used to spend many Sundays baking bread or challenging myself with multiple recipes all going at the same time. I've been too busy/lazy/hungover to do this in the last few years. But Sunday I got my apron on and whipped up (if one can "whip up" recipes over the course of several hours) a couple of recipes for my sister's birthday: The Pioneer Woman's Rum Cake and Margarita Cookies from Smitten Kitchen. My sister is turning 21 and can't have booze in her dorm, so I baked it she's in prison! Instead of a file or other escape tool, she got delicious tequila! It's an escape from reality.

I didn't want to spend all day baking just to send all my goods 1,200 miles away, so I found a recipe for me that I had been craving since August 2000: challah.

Challah is yeast-risen egg bread that is traditionally eaten by Jews on the Sabbath and special holidays. I'm not Jewish, but ten years ago I worked at a summer camp in which all of the campers were Jewish girls from Chicago. At Friday night dinners at camp, I met challah and it quickly became one of the highlights of my week. I'm a fan of bread in general, but the eggy goodness of challah earned its own special category - it was not merely, "hmm, I'm hungry, I need something to take up space in my stomach... Ah, bread!"-bread. No, challah was "take my night off on challah night? No thank you; I will gladly sit through an hour of campsongs at the dinner table instead of leave property and booze it up so that I can get my bread"-bread. That's right: I gave up a few nights of underaged drinking just to get challah...and you know how important alcohol is to those who can't buy it legally. I loved challah.

Then, at the end of the summer, I went back to Montana, where there was nary a braided loaf of the good stuff to be found. No challah for me until five days ago.

I didn't set out looking for a challah recipe. I knew I wanted to bake a loaf of bread, so I sifted through the index of Smitten Kitchen (truly, a fine blog), and there at the top of the bread section, a glowing beacon: Best Challah (Egg Bread). Oh yeah, no need to go further.

I haven't made a ton from Smitten Kitchen, but I find Deb's recipes incredibly easy to follow - even the braiding part of the bread made total sense and I am terrible at following written directions (please don't ask me to figure out a new board game without playing it once). One of my favorite things about Smitten Kitchen is that the author takes time to respond to questions in the comments, which is incredibly helpful. I don't feel like such a helpless tool.

My bread turned out pretty well, considering that my oven runs really hot and I haven't figured out how to calibrate cooking time to make up for it. I've been chowing on slices at lunch and tonight I tackled French toast. I think this is the first time I've ever made French toast as an adult! I certainly didn't make any during my gluten-free years. Want to make a bread-lover lose her mind? Tell her she can't eat bread! I was good for awhile. However, I fell off the wagon and into a pile of bread. I don't care how much it makes my stomach hurt; it makes my soul feel good.

And, occasionally, bloated.

So, the French toast: so easy, I can't believe I've never made it before. Since it was just me eating, I used:

2 eggs
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 3/4"-slices of challah
a skosh of butter

I mixed the first four ingredients and soaked my bread in it while the butter melted in the pan. Browned the bread on both sides and DONE. For whatever reason, I had maple syrup in the fridge (seriously, where did the syrup come from?). With a side of hashbrowns, this made the most filling meal I have had in a month. Although, I'm concerned about the sodium and other weird stuff I may have ingested from the bagged potatoes; I've never had them before and they were totally an impulse buy at the store (some people impulse buy chocolate; I impulse buy starch). No matter - they tasted good and that's all that matters to me. Today.

Would I Eat It Again: This meal was easy and there's something comforting about having breakfast for dinner. I definitely would not have this meal for breakfast - too heavy to start the day and too heavy to have very often. Maybe I'll get fancy with the French toast part - Boozy Baked French Toast, perhaps? We shall see.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sign-posting: Who am I and where are we going?

Every once in awhile, I come across a book I should have written. The book is always nonfiction (I have a tough time with fiction and I love documentaries; however, I also closely follow Gossip Girl and that show couldn't be further from reality - so I do, in fact, have an imagination) and the topic is always one close to my heart or experience. Why didn't I publish the book first?

Oh, that's right - I don't write regularly. Or share my writing. I need to start.

Not that I'm aiming to write a book, here. No, no, no. I just don't want people to keep stealing my ideas from my brain. They can steal them from my blog!

The story of how I found myself on Blogger today is long-ish with boring details, so I'll spare you. I will say, though, that it was a book that I should have written that inspired me - who knew that there were so many lifelong vegetarians who entered the meat-eating world in adulthood with no clue on how to prepare flesh for consumption? That's me! And apparently it's also someone else who happens to have a book agent!

This blog won't (just) be about becoming an omnivore. Rather, I hope to share my adventures in food: cooking, eating, reading. I'm no gourmand; in fact, I'm just getting over a break-up and have recently re-incorporated solid food into my diet. I lived for two weeks on low-fat chocolate milk (so healthy!). The food that I'm now eating barely constitutes "food." However, I'm sure there are people out there like me, who don't want to feel alone in calling a fistful of dry spaghetti "dinner."

So, maybe this blog will feature a little "cooking for one" in it!

Despite my current dietary habits and associated food-neuroses, I do love to cook food. And eat food. And think about food. And grow food. I even teach children about food, in a garden setting. Food gives us life and can make us happy! I know it makes me happy. There's nothing like bison steaks from the Missoula farmer's market, or Thai scallops from Truluck's, or my Great-grandma Selma's Butter Riches recipe...or dry Ramen. That makes me happy, too. Oddly. What's my problem with boiling water? Gah, not that hard, BPDubs.

Anyway, I hope you'll join me. I set a place at the table for you - but you have to bring the beer.