1130 Food Resources

We had a frozen pizza for dinner tonight. Shane only had 10 minutes to spare between work and an errand in the Detroit ‘burbs, so a pizza was all that we could manage. Since that doesn’t exactly make for interesting blog fodder, I thought I would instead share with you some of my favorite food blogs and other go-to sites for food inspiration.

My process for planning meals and/or figuring out what to eat often goes something like this:

  1. Stare at the fridge (or the list on the fridge) and imagine what I can make with what’s already in there.
  2. Ask Shane what he feels like eating.
  3. Check my voluminous bookmarks to see if anything jumps out that might use what’s already in the fridge.
  4. Refer to a few favorite cookbooks or check back through this blog for notes on what we’ve made in the past.
  5. Come up with an idea – say, pork chops – based on what sounds appetizing and/or is available, then consult a bunch of different sites to see what they recommend, and ultimately just make something up.
  6. Repeat as necessary.  Or order a pizza.

I find that while I regularly read a number of food blogs – both individual and aggregates like The Kitchn – I don’t actually cook from them that often.  In a sense, these blogs serve the same purpose as 97% of the reading I did in school – they provide an introduction to the language and techniques, ingredients and flavor profiles, shortcuts and shopping.  In looking at my list, I’m realizing that I have more than I really can tackle in one post, so stay tuned for more recommendations.  For now, though, you can start with:

Smitten Kitchen
If you read one food blog, this is probably it. A few of my favorite new recipes for this year came from SK, including Thanksgiving’s sweet potatoes with pecans and goat cheese and the pasta with fava beans, tomatoes and sausages that we couldn’t get enough of this summer.  Beautiful food photography, writing that balances instruction with anecdote, an adorable baby, and almost never fail recipes – all emanating out of a tiny Manhattan kitchen.  She also writes a baby food blog and a has a cookbook in the works.

Dinner: A Love Story
The focus of DALS is just getting dinner on the table – specifically dinner for your family when you’re juggling a job, a commute, and a whole lot of picky eaters. The author is realistic about the difficulties of “having it all” while also putting nutritious meals on the table and maybe getting your kids to eat something other than buttered noodles. Her recipes are fast, easy, and appealing, and often include suggestions about what can be added or removed depending on your family’s particular tastes. So many blogs glorify the eating experience and the superiority of ingredients without acknowledging that many nights it’s difficult to even get to the table – which may be why I find DALS so refreshing.

I’m very sad that this project has ended: one blogger’s attempt to answer the question “Does it waffle?”. Answer: frequently, yes.

Tigress in a Pickle – also in a Jam
The titular Tigress takes on all things, well, pickled and jammed. I participated in her can jam earlier in the year – each month features a different ingredient, with Tigress posting a mouth-watering round up of all the participating bloggers and their recipes. Basically if you want to get ideas about canning anything, this is the place to start.

From the Kitchen of Olivia
My friend Olivia makes beautiful things in her beautiful new kitchen – and occasionally lets us come over and make a mess of it with donuts.  Don’t click through to her site if you’re hungry or have a sweet tooth, as I can guarantee your mouth will be watering in moments.


Random E + SB silliness

Last weekend we were wandering around after stocking up on fancy cheese, and I was trying to tell Shane about something that (1) I saw while in NYC or (2) saw on Law & Order.  I’m sure the anecdote was very enthralling, but that’s neither here nor there.  I couldn’t remember the actual name of the neighborhood where I saw (or saw on TV) the thing in question, so for the sake of argument I made up a name for a New York neighborhood.  One thing led to another, which led to a great deal of silliness as we came up with the following:

  • Little Turkmenistan
  • WeHo (alternately, eHo)
  •  The Haberdasher District

I’m sure there were others, but we can’t remember any of them.  You’ll have to trust me that it was hilarious.

grump grump grump

Shane and I were been followed by bad service in our last year in Champaign – very long waits, undercooked food (or hot food brought cold to the table), food prepared completely wrong, disappearing servers, food spilled on us with no apology (including mayo on Shane’s very expensive jeans), etc – and we had hoped that by moving 700+ miles east, we would shake this curse and go back to receiving at least decent service.  Both of us have worked in food service, so if anything, we’re probably more patient with busy servers than the average patron.  Out here, however, the service seems to have gone from bad to worse, as if the servers just really need to rub it in your face that they’re barely making enough to pay their exorbitant rents and so you, the tipping patron, should suffer just like they do.a

Recently, our bad food service experiences have started spilling over into bad retail service as well.  I made it my goal to finish my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving, so yesterday we went out to the mall to pick up a few more things, including a jacket from Banana Republic that I’ve been eying as a replacement for my Goodwill-d peacoat.  After checking several stores for the jacket, I called ahead and asked to have it put on hold.

Now, I’ll give you that the mall at Christmastime is a horrific place to be.  The store was busy.  I’m not complaining about that.  We waited, first in the wrong line, and then in the correct line, for a cashier, expecting to just purchase the jacket and leave.  Before doing so, though, I wanted to look the jacket over – it’s white and I didn’t want to pay a bunch of money for something that was potentially already stained.  The clerk gave me a dirty look, asked us to step out of line, and definitely was not happy when I found a stain on one of the sleeves and had to run out to grab another jacket off the rack.  She rang us up without any of the normal transaction niceties, but I didn’t really care because I finally had the jacket!

Imagine my surprise, then, when I went to put the jacket on this morning and discovered the loss prevention tag still firmly attached.  It’s also worth noting that one of the shirts Shane purchased at a different store ALSO had the loss prevention tag left on, though the service he received up until that point was much better than mine.

These are all minor things, but in concert with the rest of the ridiculous little frustrations we’ve encountered in trying to do the simplest of things (like this morning, when Shane went to the convenience store on the ground floor 20 minutes after they opened with the hopes of picking up his dry cleaning, only to discover the store still closed and locked), it’s clear that our rash of bad service has turned into a full-on plague.