...a way of seeing beyond inner and outer.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Does it fuel the machine or feed the soul?

As good as it may sound, raw cookie dough "crackers" ( I'd explain, but you might try it ) with a schmear of Nutella does neither, at least for me.  
This does a little of both:

As does this:

This stuff, on the other hand, is pure soul, baby.
Bottega Louis
700 South Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Berry Syrup

Portobella "Fries" with aioli

Thursday, August 19, 2010

You will fly and you will also smash your face into something ugly and hard…

Some days, you're the grilled artichoke master, with Grasshopper taking notes on all your "life moves". Other days, you hope Grasshopper isn't watching you take the burned corn bread out of the oven.  
"Today is remarkable, so far, and I insist that caveat be recorded for posterity.” she says as she picks gravel out of her teeth, hair, knees, elbows and other crannies which shall remain nameless in an effort to rally her dignity, a monumental victory of will considering that she is, at this very moment, reminded of another moment,  years ago when she’d just figured out that she had traveled to a front row with toilet paper draped out over her waist band, down to the back of her knees.  True story and in first person, as if any one would make something like that up.  ( For those of you among you who are at this moment, cringing,  I cite something Churchill may or may not have said on the subject of preposition placement and move on. )   I’m also, first person, patting myself on the back for stopping sooner rather than later.   That I believe is the lesson to be learned  Get over it.  All of it.
I have spent a few days moving away from what I know to be the source of my happiness, which is an ego salvaging way of saying that I have been using Nutella as a schmear for raw cookie dough.  Good, and not so good. More not so good than good, but  I have forgiven myself, turned around and am flying away from the asphalt.  That's what makes it so remarkable, the forgiveness/180 bit.  It ain’t all pretty, but it’s all there…. ( Churchill people… Churchill. )  

FYI: filed under, "The Universe has a sense of humor." folder, that corn bread was good.  Grilled Roasted Ears of Corn, good.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Talking Lemon Bars

If I took a picture of the utter chaos that is my house, you would think a bomb had gone off.  I do not do well with chaos. I am annoyed, irritated and forcing myself to write in the middle of what appears to be a blast site because this is exactly the sort of feeling that, for years, has sent me to the kitchen with eeeeeev-ell intent.  Even now, the cookies are calling my name.
     “Aww, Tracy, you’re suffering.  Good thing we're here, huh?  We can help! Remember? We’re a team, kid.”
Wrong. "We" are not a team and I’ve already had a cookie. It was great and served a very specific purpose but I am not hungry. More importantly, in case no one else has noticed this, eating never makes "that feeling" stop. What eating under those circumstances does do is give you something else to focus on, like how much you hate yourself for eating a tray of lemon bars and how crappy your stomach feels because you ate a tray of lemon bars instead of how crappy you feel about your exploded house. Which brings me to the obvious solution: clean the house, but I’m waiting, another thing I don’t do well. In fact, I deal with chaos, clutter and talking cookies better than I can deal with waiting.  I believe it was Daffy Duck who said,
        “I’m not like other people. I don’t like waiting. It annoys me”.  
I may not have that quote exactly right, but the feeling is spot on and it’s going to be hanging around until tomorrow night.  I’m waiting for my husband to remove an unbeLEIVEable  array of objects from the living room, den, entry hall and yes, even kitchen, where they’re competing for space with dozens of cookies that will, tomorrow morning, find a home elsewhere.     
       This is waiting with a purpose.  An angel of mercy in the form of a housekeeper,  is coming, so I'm not going to stomp up the stairs and give the chief de-cluttering/cluttering officer a piece of my agitated mind. Until this morning, the only way into his office was a path, but you had to turn side ways to use it.  And it’s not as though he’s a pack rat, though he is a pack rat.  The clutter is largely a result of a child who left home without a large number of her possessions that have remained piled up our closets. The end result has been that the things we would like to put in closets have sat in his office.  As I’ve said, I can’t deal with clutter and he’s taken one for the team for about six months but this morning he began "staging" them downstairs on their way to a more orderly storage solution, goodwill, or the trash.  Unfortunately, this afternoon, he’s watching golf and I’m making myself write and reminding myself of Friday.
Friday, he saw me cleaning the kitchen floor, decided I was suffering and brought me a business card for a house keeping service.  I gave in and called when, as he handed me the card, he said,
"This will make you happy."
How do you turn down a promise like that?
When life gives you a housekeeper, endure the clutter as it makes its path from your husband’s office into its new home and keep saying thank you. (while you clean the house furiously because you don't want the housekeeper to know your family needs a housekeeper )

 Talking Lemon Bars
Two things: 
  • This is a “How I over came the cookie” blog, but overcoming the cookie means you aren’t afraid of the cookie. I ate one, because this is a new recipe, and it’s going out to clients.  No more guilt, and now that I know it’s good  (I'll-never-make-any-other-lemon-bar good ), no more cookies.
  • Buttercream is usually cooked and made with hot sugar syrup for a couple  good reasons. The powdered sugar has cornstarch in it which will leave a raw taste in the buttercream and the eggs are de-salmonellaed by the hot syrup.   Allowing the buttercream to marry (sit in a cool place while the lemon bars cook ) takes care of any really noticeable raw taste and if you aren’t comfortable with raw eggs, don’t use them, or better yet, know where your eggs come from, if you can.  Another reason to buy local, and humane.

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

I’m lazy, so I peel the lemon carefully with a vegetable peeler so as not to pull up any pith as I go, then I put the strips in the food processor with the sugar, turn it on and walk away until it grinds itself.  It takes a minute or two, but so much easier on your knuckles and faster than a grater.  After the lemon is no longer in visible chunks, I toss in the flour and whir it around minute or so more to make sure no pieces of lemon escaped the blade, only then do I throw in the butter.

Pat this crumbly mixture into a large jelly roll pan (approx 17X11) or two 9 X 12 disposable aluminum tins ( have I mentioned lazy )  allowing for a little lip to catch the filling. It makes clean up easier later ( lazy )  Bake at 325 about 10 minutes or until you just begin to see browning bits on the crust

FYI by itself this makes great lemon shortbread but I add 1 additional tablespoon of brown sugar when I intend to use it for that purpose

Three 10 ounce jars of lemon curd ( you can make this yourself, but again, lazy )
One 8 ounce package cream cheese
4 egg yolks

food process or mix this until smooth and pour into the pre-baked crusts for about 20 minutes.  Exact baking times are lies.  Your oven has a personality.  Watch it and let It tell you what to do. You’re looking for bubbles, puffiness and a loss of shininess, think cheese cake., still wiggly in the middle but set at the edges.

Lazy lemon butter cream
1 stick softened butter ( 8 tablespoons )
1 box powdered sugar ( 4 cups )
¼ cup lemon juice
2 egg yolks

Throw it all in in the mixer and let it go until it’s light and fluffy.  When the lemon bars are completely cooled spread over the top.  

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Much too much.

    I’m on point. I’m losing weight, but I really only know this because I can sit down AND breathe simultaneously in my fat jeans now. That wasn’t the case a month ago. Come to think of it, neither was true. Standing yes. Sitting or breathing, no but I could also lie down on the bed. In fact I had to or my fat jeans weren't gonna get zipped. So, yeah. we have progress. You'll notice I didn’t say I could breath deeply or sit comfortably. We ain’t there yet so breakfast still looks like this:

    I’m exercising. Not that I’d want anyone to see me doing it, because I'm either flopping and wheezing or doing yoga and there are some, if not most, (all ) people for whom downward facing dog ( google it if you're lost ) is just not polite. It may not even be legal and if it is, it really shouldn’t be. Seriously, if it’s illegal to drink a glass of wine in the park, offering your buttocks and so so very much more up for the world’s viewing pleasure while wearing yoga pants should not be tolerated.
    So, let us assess, ( no pun intended ):
    Losing weight? Check.
    Exercising? Check, with consideration for you, the public, and you’re welcome.
    Controlling intake? Ah… the killer, or at least it used to be because once food, my body and I reached détente that all went away and I'm not letting it come back. I'm done beating myself up for giving myself over to edible joys from time to time. A food diary is either boring or depressing, but I want to make a point so I’m going to outline my daily intake on Wednesday.

    Protein shake with fresh blueberries
    Green tea with lemon

    • Cheese quesadillas. Plural. They were small, but there were still a couple of them made with real cheese, not that plastic kind with no fat and less flavor. Dang they were good. They’d better have been. They were real shiney, which as you may know is never a good thing calorically speaking.
    • An avocado. I know.. an.. not a ½ or even better ¼, Nope. An…
    • Fat free greek yogurt, and yes, I do realize that’s exactly like ordering a diet soda with your gigunda burger combo, number 7 extra mayo please, and do you have cheese fries?.
    • Chopped tomato ( gotta work a salad in there some how )
    • Green tea, no lemon, because, you know, I'm watching what I eat. *cough
    • Field green salad with chopped tomatoes a few pine nuts and granny smith apples
    • Lemon juice, salt and pepper dressing
    • ¾ of a bottle of a lil’ somthin’ somthin’ made by means of a lil somthin somthin called méthode champenoise. aka Bubb. Ly. Veuve Clicquot. It doesn't even matter what it was because my favorite sparkling wine is domestic and less than $15.00 a bottle ( Gloria Ferrer ) and I don't do it that often, but hominy doesn't Veuve Clicquot just tango ( hi Les ;) off your tongue?
    uhYep…three-quarters of a bottle. I know this because my dinner date and I ordered a bottle and shared it. Then the very helpful waitress, noticing the empty bottle and our sad faces, felt it might lift our mood if she told us that they had half bottles and asked if we would like very much to have one, and we said, yes, we would like very much to have one. Did I mention how felphul *hic she was?

    Now in case it has escaped your notice, that was a day of some excessive excess but I enjoyed every single calorie that danced with at least four of my senses. I forgot to listen to the bubbles popping or it would have been all five.. I have no guilt. I do not care. I look back on Wednesday with fondness and delight. It was a party and I was the only one who knew. I like that very much, and will do it again, but today’s intake looks much more typical for me these days:

    Kale, Wheat grass, Dandeion, Ginger and Pear protein drink. It’s better than it sounds, but in all honesty, not a lot. It's breakfast and it keeps me from eating things that will make me feel bad for lunch.

    Tofu lettuce wraps with, water chestnuts mint, cilantro, thai basil and sirachi ( ditto the tastes better than it sounds )

    Snack: Coconut Chai Tea Almond Milk Latte

    Dinner: I haven’t decided on dinner yet, but it will not include ¾ of a bottle of champagne. If I do have a glass of wine, it’s going to be box wine and I’ll only do that if I think my liver is getting uppity. And fyi, if you ever find yourself with left over wheat grass, your dog is all to willing to help, at least mine is.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010


    When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair is a hilarious book.  If food is your coping mechanism, read it.  Sit in one of those chain books stores nursing an empty coffee cup for an entire day if you have to, but read it.  It sums up everything I am now convinced about myself, my love hate, and more hate relationship with food, my body, and my personalities.  Yes. I have several and if you tell the truth, so do you, but I’m growing more choosey about which one is driving the bus, or at the very least, driving my palate.  
    Last night, I baked {X cookies} which was supposed to be replaced with an actual number but by the time I was finished, I was too tired to go back and count.   Every one of them left the house to fatten up my husbands clients and if they’re lucky, a few of his work mates. Better them than me. Now, it could be bragging to call them lucky, but a girl can make her some cookies, people, and I have witnesses. 
    1)       J was asked not to bring any cookies until Tuesday because Y, a man with a corporate checkbook,  had to be out of town and didn’t want to miss them. I only mention this because I hadn’t offered to send any cookies to Y, but he writes very large checks, so I was pretty much thinking J would wait until Tuesday and I would spend Monday night baking. 
    2)      Last Friday night I was at a party given by the owner of the company that pays J to be a genius when a young man I’d never met walked up to me and made puppy dog eyes at me. It’s not what you’re thinking. He wanted baked goods.
    3)      Both my sister and my mother asked me not to send them any because they were trying to be good.
    4)       My dad, and people, if you knew my dad you know this is all it would have taken to prove my point, said, “Those are the best cookies I’ve ever eaten in my life.”   He wanted me to market them. I told him to find me the capital.   
    You see my point and know why it’s such a big deal to make sure I know who’s making my food choices.  I know how to make my own drugs.
    a.      2 trays of Nutella brownies glazed with Ganache
    b.      2 trays of German chocolate brownies
    c.      Countless Almond Toffee cookies
    d.      A couple dozen walnut Wedding cookies
    e.      Chocolate Chip cookies that didn’t become cookies until the next morning.  I was done even if they weren’t.

    This is just a portion of what walked out the door because there reaches a point where you don't so much care about getting the all encompassing "shot" as you do about going to bed. I didn’t eat one.  Didn’t even lick a beater.  I sipped iced coffee listened to Tito Puente while I baked and today after work, I’m going to get a manicure, because it's going to take specialist to remove the sugar and butter that's welded itself under my nails.