You Got to Be Kidding Me!

My Cooking Sucks

Posted in Cooking, Social Life by Stacy McMahon on January 9, 2007

Yeah I know, I didn’t post all Christmas season. I got some nice stuff, but nothing really worth posting pics of. And I had an excellent and relaxing vacation up north, including a night out in Boston with Rachel and Steve. Against that, a couple of my local friends seem to have forgotten how to call back. And with that as a segue that will make vague sense only to me and one of those two, I’m also reading Dog Days, by former Wonkette Ana Marie Cox. Only a couple chapters in, but let’s just say that the appearance of Washingtonienne had me laughing out loud and not in the way the author wanted. I’ll reserve judgement until the end, but sofar it’s threatening to make me put it down for all the same reasons I never wanted to get involved in that scene to begin with.

Anyway, the cooking. I took a steak out of the freezer yesterday with a vague plan to cook it on the Foreman grill with some broccoli on the side. Then today I got to thinking cheese sauce would be good on the broccoli. Google brought me a simple-looking recipe that called for butter, milk, flour, and mustard powder in addition to grated cheese.

Now, my whole point was to use up the cheddar that I haven’t been eating, so I wasn’t going to go out and buy grated cheese. This was just part of my downfall, with the others being that I only have unsifted whole wheat flour, no sifter, and–it turned out–no cheese grater. I still think I have one somewhere but by the time I realized I didn’t know where it was, I needed something fast. Fortunately, there was something to hand: some shredded parmesan left over from last week. It worked–sort of. You start off by melting the butter and adding flour, then stirring in the milk. This is more or less how you make cream of wheat, and that’s exactly what it looked and smelled like. After adding the cheese, it looked and smelled like parmesan cream of wheat. The taste ultimately wasn’t terrible, but a far cry from the queso-like sauce I had been picturing. I think the problem was too much flour, but I put in exactly what the recipe called for. Finally, to add insult to injury the steak–something I’m normally pretty good at–was dry and mostly taste-free. That’s disappointing after marinading it in BBQ sauce and frying with extra virgin olive oil. I guess it’s back to the drawing board, or at least to marinading all day in the off-the-shelf lemon pepper stuff.

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Twelve Days Without A Post

Posted in Cooking, History, Travel by Stacy McMahon on November 30, 2006

So what did I do with my two weeks? Nothing interesting enough to write about, apparantly. I don’t normally slow down much in winter, but this year seems to be an exception, or it did until I realized why I was so run down earlier this week–caffiene withdrawal! Yes, I inadvertantly bought two pounds of decaf from Dunkin Donuts; one for work and one for home. I blame my personal decaffienation for my failure to notice this until someone else pointed it out. Anyway, when I realized how severe my withdrawal was, I decided it’s time to take a break from coffee. Really I’ve known this for awhile, since I no longer actually feel a coffee buzz, but being sleep all day and ready for bed by 8pm tears it. I’m back to juice and water for awhile.

My other not-really-interesting story is our (the ‘rents and I) visit to Plimoth Plantation on Black Friday. As the name suggests, this is the historical park outside Plymouth, MA. They have reconstructed native and pilgrim villages with interpretive staff, but their real business is hosting modern and 1620-style dinners. More on that later.

The villages were interesting for their historical accuracy (I assume) but even more interesting was the contrast in political correctness. Signs on the path warned us that the native staff are “real indians” (not necessarily Wampanoag) and are not in character. Visitors are to please refrain from whooping, using words like “squaw”, “chief”, “brave” etc.–apparantly “indian” is alright. The pilgrim staff on the other hand are reenactors, are in character, and we told that they will speak with the attitudes and ideas of their day. This turned out to mean, in one case, a lecture on how the Irish are “very much like the savages”. Silly, not that it’s a big deal. But this is Massachusetts afterall.

The star of the trip was the Mayflower II, a 1950s reconstruction of the original, which was just a charter and went on to other jobs and an unknown fate after the Pilgrims’ voyage. The ship is in excellent condition and is taken out sailing a few times a year. I had the impression that it’s possible to crew on it, but will need to check into that more. If so, I know what next year’s vacation will be!

The 1620 Thanksgiving dinner was a mixed bag. The food was interesting and good, with the centerpieces being mussels saute’d in the shell, pumpkin squash, and english “cheesecake”–basically a sweet-ish quiche without the ham. There was some rather mediocre entertainment that reminded everybody (literally, all the strangers around us mentioned it) of a rennaissance festival, and the company left something to be desired. You sit at long tables as in a pub, seats assigned by last name. I was wishing for a pretty girl to sit across from me, and I got my wish–sort of. She was cute alright, but in high school and didn’t want to chitchat with someone old enough to drink. I’d have probably been the same way at her age, but it made it a long hour and a half. My mom told me later that a guy my age sitting near her was from Alexandria. I knew I should have taken the inboard seat!

Here, Smell This!

Posted in Cooking by Stacy McMahon on March 26, 2006

I decided to clean my coffeemaker today. It’s probably needed it for weeks now, but I was spurred into action by a conversation at school the other day. The campus is across the street from a local independent coffee shop called Misha’s, which is a hipster hangout straight from central casting. The problem: their coffee tastes like it was made with a used oil filter. People who otherwise sit around talking about how corporations are killing America will walk six blocks to Starbucks just to get a halfway decent cup of coffee. There was once a Dunkin Donuts as well, but it closed just before their coffee became cool.

Anyway, I theorized that Misha’s coffee tastes so burned because they never clean their coffeemakers, which logically implied I should finally clean mine. Now, I’ve long since lost the manual, but allegedly this is done by running a couple cups of vinegar through it. So I did that, ran one full pot of water through to rinse it, and then made a pot of coffee that smelled like paint thinner. I didn’t really need to taste it, but did anyway just for kicks. Bad idea!

So now, 5 or 6 full pots later, what comes out finally smells like normal hot water, but the port where the water goes in still smells like vinegar. Which leads me back to the title of this post. All the smell testing has really cleared my sinuses, and also reminded me of an incident waaaay back in 7th grade. In those days, long before Columbine or even political correctness, we kids were actually left alone with a science class supply closet stocked with hydrochloric acid. Through the agency of a classmate who was known for pranks, some of that stuff found its way into a glass dish and under my nose, with the admonition “hey man, sniff this water, it smells kinda funky” …one giant snort and my nose has never been quite the same!