Tuesday, June 29, 2010

First of the Season

If you can get some of these:

Grab one of these:

Add some of this:

You can have some of these:

Heaven on a plate.

Mr. Kim went by the farm where we buy Hanover tomatoes in summer and picked up a few early tomatoes and some green ones, too. These are classic fried green tomatoes. This method is based on a Tyler Florence recipe. If I had 3 hands, you'd get pictures.

Slice 4 large green tomatoes into 1/2-inch thick slices. Salt and drain in a colander for 1 hour (don't skip this step - it's KEY for the texture). Pat them dry and put them into a dish of buttermilk for a few minutes. You want them to be covered. Go ahead and use the full fat buttermilk - it's thicker and will hold on to the coating better. And you have fried green tomatoes...what...4, 5 times tops a year - splurge.

1 cup of stone ground cornmeal
1 cup of flour
1 tablespoon garlic powder
pinch cayenne
salt & pepper

Drain the tomato slices slightly and then dredge in the cornmeal mixer. Press it in good! You want this to stick. Then put them on a rack over a baking sheet and refrigerate for at LEAST 30 minutes. An hour would be good, too. Press well and refrigerate. This is a good rule for anything breaded. Otherwise the coating just floats off in the oil and burns. Nothing good about that. (Unless you have one of these:

In which case you can fish those little bits out and turn them into a cooks treat. Delicious. I'm not sure how I know this. I musta heard it somewhere.)

Put your skillet over medium-high heat and add some of that bacon grease and some shortening or oil. About half and half, if you have enough bacon grease. If you don't have enough bacon grease, you need more bacon in your life. When the fat gets hot, fry the tomatoes (in batches) until golden brown and crisp - about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Drain the tomatoes on a rack. You can keep them warm in a 200 degree oven while frying the rest.

That's it. These are good as is or with a puddle of ranch dressing to dip them in. They also make a stellar BLT! The proper beverage is sweet tea w/ or w/out lemon.
Make these soon. It's 1000 degrees everywhere. These will make you feel better.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ironing Day

Does no one iron anymore? No one I know does on a regular basis. Folks seem shocked when I mention ironing something. Even my mother. Actually, especially my mother. Growing up, we didn’t even own an ironing board. If something absolutely had to be ironed, she would put a towel on a kitchen counter and iron there. I don’t believe that Momma owned an ironing board until she and Ted lived in Chicago and the maid demanded that she get one.

I don’t like ironing, but some things need to be ironed – table linens, the khakis that I wear to work every day and I iron Mr. Kim’s dress shirts. I just don’t see wasting the money on sending them to the laundry when they take just over a minute each. It ends up taking maybe 10 minutes a week to do 5 shirts. And even figuring in the cost of water, electricity, starch, etc., I can’t believe that it doesn’t save money. Most things that used to need ironing don’t anymore. I remember going with my grandmother to drop off multiple baskets of clean laundry every week. She had a lady near her office that would iron everything in the baskets and then Grandma Jean would pick them up after work. It seemed like she put all of her laundry in those baskets – clothing, Granddaddy’s coveralls, towels, sheets. I am NOT a sheet ironer (those people really are whackaloons).

Of course, everyone has different priorities. I don’t count the pennies when I’m grocery shopping and we eat out at good restaurants a lot more than most people we know. I could care less what kind of car I drive, as long as it is dependable and cheap to drive. There is a whole other blog in the idea of what is the difference between ‘want’ and ‘need’ for folks.

So – does anyone but me iron anymore? And if not, what do they do about wrinkly stuff in their homes? Someone is buying irons. After all, you can still find an array of irons in any Target or Walmart. They aren’t exactly in the category of a wringer:

I actually remember wringer washers. My babysitter had one. If I had to deal with one of those, I'd send everything to the laundry.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Early Father’s Day

We had to celebrate Mr. Kim’s father’s day a little early. This morning The Child kidnapped him for a Daddy/Daughter weekend. We had a bon voyage breakfast at Cracker Barrel this morning capped off with the Traditional Shook Family Adieu. We’ve been doing this send off since the child was a tot. We get in a huddle and then - kiss to the right, kiss to the left, kiss in the middle, rub noses, rub butts and then…well – the last part is best left unsaid. Picture the three of us in various parking lots, train depots, airports all over place doing this for the last 25 or so years. Strangers must still be telling the story.

Anyway – they are off to parts unknown (at least to Mr. Kim) and I am alone for 2 lovely days. Just me and him:

We are having a lovely time.

Anyway, Father’s Day. We had Mike’s dad and stepmom over for dinner. We started with Caprese with bocconcini, grape tomatoes and some beautiful basil from our CSA box:

Then, ribs:

Slaw with red wine vinegar, mayo and brown mustard:

From scratch Boston Baked Beans and corn:

Cornbread gems (these little boogers were mostly muffin TOPS – I had a hard time getting them out of the mini-muffin tin – gotta work on that):

Dessert was a peach-cherry crisp with vanilla bean ice cream:

Everything turned out well and we had a great visit: talked, laughed, looked at Mr. Kim’s Arizona pictures.

Sadly, Mr. Kim and I don’t have any grandfathers left, but The Child is lucky – she has THREE! Mr. Kim’s dad and my dad and stepdad. Unfortunately, I won’t get to see my two this year. I miss them both and know that they would have loved the meal. Except Daddy wouldn’t have liked the dessert – he’s not a dessert guy. I’d have made him a peanut butter pie. Wish I could mail one to him and let him know how much I miss him.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Didja Miss Me???

Mr. Kim got back on Sunday from a visit with his brother in Arizona. I'm hoping he'll blog about it and post some pictures. While he was gone I got to wondering about something. Was it somewhat of a relief to him to spend a week with someone who wasn't food obsessed?

I talk about food a LOT. I plan what we'll eat, I watch TV shows about food, I read cookbooks like novels. In fact, almost every room of my house has cookbooks and cooking magazines stashed somewhere. When we travel, I decide on restaurants before anything else. I even like grocery shopping and if I can combine travel and grocery stores, I'm in heaven. I am incapable of passing a farmer's market or tumbledown country store without longing glances and deep sighs if Mr. Kim doesn't stop. I would have to live to be 1000 years old to be able to cook all of the recipes that I have tucked away in folders and drawers. When someone goes on vacation, I want to hear all about what they ate. When The Child comes in from a party, I ask about the munchies. I take pictures of my food - at home and at restaurants. The websites that I visit most are food sites - full of wackaloons just like me. Some worse. It feels normal to me (crazy people don't know they're crazy, right?), but I gotta believe that it's sometimes like living with a Trekkie for Mr. Kim. You know, the obsession with the shows and books and conventions. Of course, if you are both Star Trek goofs, that's fine. But Mr. Kim (while he likes to eat and is getting more and more adept at cooking) is not really a food goof.

I just wonder if there isn't a little bit of peacefulness to be found when you have a little break from your obsessed loved one. While not loving them any less and missing them muchly, you just might enjoy the rest from the constant attention to something that you aren't fanatically interested in. Just eating meals when you get hungry. Making sure that you've covered all the food groups properly. No pouring over the internet for recommended restaurants. No searching the grocery store for ingredients. Well, it sounds dull as dishwater to ME, but maybe Mr. Kim liked it.

He swears not, but I still wonder.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Must be nice"

I really detest this grudging response to someone's good fortune. Whether you are relating your own or someone else's wonderful vacation, new job, retirement there is always some tiresome sad sack saying, "Must be nice". Three words that say a lot - they speak of envy, jealousy and an inability to rejoice in a friend's happiness. And what EXACTLY is the proper response to this? "I'm sorry?" "Yes, it is nice and, by the way, kiss my butt?"

Lest I sound insufferably smug, let me say that I completely understand the impulse. I am just as full of the seven deadly sins as the next girl - and envy is one of my worst. For example, I want to quit work so badly that the thoughts of retirement and what I could be doing if I didn't work occupy an unconscionable amount of my day. At my job, I see retired people and homemakers all day long. So that little brat that lives in my brain does sometimes (ok, often) stamp her little feet and whine "Why not ME???". But I don't let her stick her head out of my mouth and burst someone ELSE'S bubble of happiness.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Sorry, I couldn't resist. This little guy tried to give Momma heart failure by jumping onto her hand when she was putting up the outside umbrella Memorial Day weekend. Luckily, he only made her do a little jumping dance. It's one of my favorite pictures I've ever taken and it suited my mood today.

It is almost the loveliest time of the whole week. Friday noon - the magic hour. Most Fridays I get off work at noon. I walk out that door and I can literally feel my spirits rise. I feel full of energy and happiness - like I could accomplish anything. Of course, what I usually accomplish is the weeks laundry. But that's ok with me. I'm not at work, the full weekend is still ahead of me, abundant with possibilities.

This is a particularly 'hoppy' Friday because Mr. Kim is coming home on Sunday morning. He's been visiting his brother in AZ this week and I've missed him a lot. I'm hoping that he will do a report on his trip with some pictures.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend, whenever it officially arrives!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

YES, I made it!!! (Cranky post)

I spend a fair amount of time (seriously, too much) at a couple of food oriented websites. My favorite is cookskorner.com, which is a wonderful site - a good size (not so many people that you feel lost in the crowd), accomplished cooks and people who are always ready to help or answer a question. Because of its smaller size, I feel like I've really gotten to know folks there. The other posters remember my issues and questions and will email me months later with new solutions they have found. Its a wonderful place and I've even convinced Mr. Kim to join to show off his smoker prowess.

One thing that I love about these sites is that when I show them something that I've served, no one ever says, "Did you actually make that?", which is a question I get a lot in 'real' life. I find myself slightly affronted and perplexed by that question. I don't do anything really 'out there'. I don't own an immersion circulator - no sous vide going on in MY house (though I secretly yearn to try it out). I shop for most of my ingredients at Kroger, not a high end gourmet shop. I can't do fancy piping worth a dern, so all of my cakes are scattered with assorted edible flotsam. I do care about the quality of the food I serve and I am very interested in food and cooking.

So, yes, I actually roasted that chicken and poached those eggs and put together flour and sugar and eggs and made a cake from scratch. All of which is, apparently, boggle-worthy. I am no food snob. I eat way too many double cheeseburgers from McD's and Hardee's sausage biscuits for that. And I adore Chick-fil-A sandwiches and slaw (but NOT those weird potatoes). My dinner last night was fish tacos. Sounds impressive, huh? Well, maybe, until I confess that Mrs. Paul (dear woman) made the fish fillets, Durkee made the tartar sauce and those nice people at Fresh Express sliced the angel hair cabbage. All I did was heat, squirt and fold everything in a flour tortilla. My only 'gourmet' touch was to sprinkle on a little lime juice.

That question ("Did you actually make that?", if you have gotten lost in my verbosity) makes me wonder WHAT is it that other people eat that makes them regard me as 'set apart' as a cook? This week, I've had Sloppy Joes, pressure cooker beef stew and what amounts to fish stick tacos. My last 'big bash' was Mother's Day. For that I served quiche, sausage rolls, chicken casserole (made with the dreaded cream of mushroom glop soup), green salad, fruit salad and 2 kinds of cake - one of which was from a mix. What, in that menu, is intimidating or difficult? IS there anything less work than Sloppy Joes made with canned sauce? Other than a feeding tube, I can't imagine that there is.

I love feeding people - it is one of the things in life that gives me the most satisfaction - both at home and at work. I love the appreciation. But when the awe creeps in, it really makes me wonder.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Quotable Quotes

That's Mr. Bartlett. He collected quotations and became very famous. I also collect quotations. I am not so famous. And some of mine are naughty. Almost none of his are. Probably mine are more fun, but less smart.

Sometimes they are ones that appeal to my sense of humor, to my sense of the ridiculous, the mean girl that lurks (just) below the surface. Other times they are things that I find profound or touching. Mostly, though, they are funny, because I'm not really as deep as I wish I was. VERY often, they are about food, because that is my obsession. Many of them are anonymous, but the ones that I can credit, I do.

This is my most favorite one of all time - destined to be painted onto our kitchen wall if we ever redo the kitchen:
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body...but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO HOO what a ride!' "

MizDucky on egullet.org quoted this from Joy of Cooking:
ON LEFTOVERS: a parson is saying grace over the family dinner, pauses to look down at the main dish before him, and murmurs something to the effect of: "I believe I've blessed a considerable amount of this material before ... "
This speaks to my distain of leftovers. But I'm not sure how many leftovers parsons saw in the old days. I always heard that having Preacher to dinner or supper was an honor and that the ladies tried to outdo one another with the best fried chicken or the lightest dumplings.

Here's a little food and a little bit of the mean girl (that one who thinks that haughty-faced models taking a tumble on the runway is The. Funniest. Thing. Ever.):
"I dunno what 'Guy Food' is. There's yer big steaks and huge burgers, but that's not as much a reflection of maleness, as much as an inverse reflection of some womens' desire to eat light and achieve that oh-so-sexy Nichole Richie Bag-O-Anters look." Grub at egullet.org

Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby) on rice cakes: "The air in my mouth tastes better than these." (Amen, Mr. Cosby)

"Many argue that breakfast is their favorite meal and of course it's "the most important meal of the day" (who came up with this slogan? I do fine on coffee and Crest)" Michael Ruhlman

This one seems to be about food, but it's really not:
"It was a fruit label that changed my life. One day I had a granny smith apple for lunch. When I went to wash and eat it, I peeled off the label. For whatever reason, I decided to read it. It said "South Africa", and I thought, "This apple has traveled further than I ever have in my entire life." And I got really depressed. Six months later, I quit my job and moved to Asia. Life's funny." nakji at egullet.org

Some are political/social commentary:

"Just because no one understands you, doesn't mean you're an artist." Anonymous, egullet.org

"In the South, they don't care how close you get, as long as you don't get too big. In the North, they don't care how big you get, as long as you don't get too close." Anonymous, quoted by sandy smith at egullet

"Bipartisan usually means that a larger-than-usual deception is being carried out" - George Carlin

A couple of homegrown quotes:

Some villages have more than one idiot. The Child

"You'll get your reward in Heaven - it will be a bale of hay for being a jackass!" my great grandmother (Tirelli)

And this one just makes me giggle:

"I wouldn't piss in your mouth if your teeth were on fire." Anonymous

Got any good ones?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Causes Célèbres

Driving home the other day, I saw someone with this license plate:

and it got me thinking: why did that person chose that specific license plate to pay extra for? I mean I am down with Tibet and hate Red China and all, but why this one, single statement? Tibet is one of those obligatory liberal causes; much like the 2nd amendment or questioning the President's birthplace is for conservatives.

But there are so MANY causes and candidates and just plain cute stuff to choose from that I always wonder how someone ends up choosing:

That was one that haunted my childhood. WHY, of all the choices out there would you pick that ONE?

'Cause, see, if I put ONE bumper sticker on my car, it would end up looking like this one:

I have, I admit, TAPED a bumper sticker to my back window – during elections and such. But I could never choose one particular license plate or personalized license plate. Besides, we drive cars until they die, so a bumper stick is a major commitment. Of course, making a choice always puts me on the horns of a dilemma. What if I pick wrong? What if the RIGHT choice was the next one? What if someone else doesn't like my choice? Incidentally, traveling with me is hell.

So the question is: Do YOU have a bumper sticker (or more than one), personalized license or special plate? What made you choose that ONE? Did it give you agita? Or am I just weird?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Not the only Wackaloon in the World

We all have crazy stuff that we do, say, feel, etc. Of course, when admitting to our own idiosyncrasies we see them as charming eccentricities. It's those other people who are wing nuts. But secretly, I think that we all wonder if anyone else shares our odd little quirks and find it comforting if they do. I found a wonderful thread on Salon.com called "I can't be the only one" that addresses this issue. I am not sure if the fact that I identified with so many of these confessions comforting or alarming. But they are hilarious:

I CAN'T BE THE ONLY ONE (from Salon.com)

Who, after shutting of the basement light, has to physically restrain herself from running up the basement stairs to escape the ax murderer lurking below.

Who refuses to keep her eyes closed more than a few seconds while showering at night (making shampooing a little difficult) just in case Norman Bates took up residence in the guest room?

Who won't let my hand hang over the edge of the bed for fear that something unholy will bite it?

Who will be at a banquet, party, etc. and feel great just chatting away with people, felling like I am really connecting and having fun and suddenly feel awkward and start wondering if everyone thinks I am a blabbering idjit?

Who has to rub my feet together while going to sleep. It's hell when I have a sprained ankle, but I do it anyway. My sweet hillbilly grandmother used to call it "makin' biscuits".

Who, when vacuuming over a paper clip on the carpet 50 times in a row, will pick it up-and then drop it again, like to give it another chance.

I like to sing in the car, but I stop when there are other cars near me.

In my world, all the psycho-killers and rapists are waiting for me in the back seat of my car, but only at night. I check for them.
When seeing Volkswagen beetles and there's no one I know around to hit, I discreetly punch myself.

I won't change other people's toilet paper rolls, but I know what the right way is and I will take note of their inferior toilet-paper roll mounting skills.

Lunchmeat mustn't ever be put on a sandwich flat. It must be folded over so it's fluffy and loopy. It looks better, tastes better and your glutton self thinks you are getting more.
I am 38 years old and I still have to fasten my bra in front, then slide it around to the back. My boyfriend thinks this is hilarious.

Our dad, who was in the navy, tells us stories of swimming in 8000 feet of water. And I swear, the creepiness goes down our backs the same way every time we hear. It's awful.

My boyfriend has a thing about big water tanks, or any large body of water with a drain in it. He doesn't even like to drive past them.

My feet need to be 'open' [when I sleep]; anything else can be covered. I once borrowed a pair of footie pajamas from my sister-in-law and was almost homicidal. I would have been more comfortable with a bag over my head.

On the subject of public toilets, I get SO mad when someone comes in, and if any other stalls are free, still chooses to come into the one next to mine. WHY? This is not a situation for bonding. If possible I will always go for the stall on the end of a row, as far from the door as possible, and still they find me.

Who gets the full fledged creeps - hair standing up on the back of my neck, heart pounding and everything - as I fumble for my door key to let myself inside before the serial killer who is coming up behind me can grab me. This happens anytime I'm alone and it's dark, no matter if it's 6pm or midnight.

Who wants to be sure to lock the car doors when I'm driving downtown and some weirdo is walking by the car, but I don't want to hurt the weirdo's feelings when he hears the 'clunk' of the car's locks.

Who worries about their garbage disposal, for example, that when sticking one's hand in the disposal area to dislodge something, it will suddenly turn itself on and chew up your hand.

Who, when getting up in the darkness after a nightmare to use the bathroom, refuses to look in the mirror because I might see a monster or ghost reflected in it.

Anyone brave enough to share?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

WARNING: Boring Post for Non-Relatives (and even some of THEM)

I am very interested in genealogy. But I find many genealogy buffs extremely tedious and have a horror that I'm tedious too. For so many of the enthusiasts it seems like a bizarre game of one upsmanship. Florence King (if you haven't read anything of hers, go and do so NOW - especially if you a Southerner) hilariously describes little old lady genealogists who take great pride in tracing their roots all the way back to Bonnie Prince Charlie and one redoubtable dame managed to go back all the way to Jesus Christ. I am not at all interested in whether I can trace my family back to Charlemagne, but I am fascinated by what my grandmother was doing 70 years ago or exactly where in Italy my antecedents were from. I wonder about the connectedness of all of us and would be delighted to discover that a new friend and I shared a common ancestor. King says that Southerners never care about who you ARE, but about who you WERE...meaning "Who do you come from?" and I admit to sharing that interest.

The Child got interested in genealogy awhile back and got involved in a website that helped with organization and research and came up with a lot of information and family trees for both sides of my family. What we've got is just some tantalizingly scant statistics - names, dates, places. What I would love is to have some fleshed out STORIES. Some of the information I KNOW is incorrect or incomplete - for instance, it says that my father's parents had one child, Daddy. But they had 3 including my uncle Tom and Daddy's twin, Charles L. But just reading the names and the places where they lived and were born is fascinating to me, though I have to admit when the tree starts really branching out my brain goes on overload and explodes a bit.

I think that what I'd like to do is to tell what I KNOW (or think I know) and add to it as I can. Start with one little branch and go from there. What I really want to collect is stories. I know some of the stories and will try not to repeat and if family members who visit would chime in with their own stories, I'd be so glad. I'll have to figure out that 'TAG' thing so that I can click "Family Stories" and have them all in one place.

So this will be an ongoing (and most likely a grinding-to-a-halt) topic. Feel free to comment anytime, though.