Wednesday, June 29, 2011

To brine or not to brine

Well, it's a question.

I had never thought about brining, until I heard about it from my lovely co-blogger Kitty, and then I was intrigued. I had a barbecue coming up and thought I would give it the old college try. Of course by the old college try, I do NOT mean drinking box wine directly from the box and playing beer pong, but feel free to partake in those activities after the grill is turned off.

I have, recently, developed a fondness for drumsticks. Don't ask me why I didn't like them in my earlier years, I have no explanation for my strange, youthful preference for boring breast meat. Thinking back on my requests, as a kid, for only breast meat, I actually think it can be attributed to my mother's excellent cooking. As a child I had no idea that breast meat could be dry and tasteless until I was much much older- THAT'S how good my mom is. Seriously.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lemony Chicken and a Series of Mildly Unfortunate Events

Despite this post’s title, tonight’s meal was a triumph, for I was able to bang it out in near-record time: under half an hour (suck it, Rachael Ray). AND everything was done at once! (Ironically, the meal then had to sit and wait, but we’ll get to that.) Oh, and it was light and healthy fare...well, with the exception of the Rice-a-Roni.

Okay, here’s what happened: The Rob called and said he would be stopping home for dinner, before going back to work for a night project, in about an hour. Prompted for a request, he suggested chicken with lemon sauce, broccoli, and—wait for it—Rice-a-Roni. (I’m not gonna lie: I love the so-called chicken flavor. Don’t judge me, gentle reader.) So, I headed to the Met Foods for groceries.

Mildly unfortunate event #1: The guy in front of me in the checkout line, upon reading his receipt, realized he had been overcharged for turnip greens—$2.99 a pound instead of 99 cents—which led to a heated exchange with the cashier and a protracted process of re-scanning and refunding that included the cashier’s extended disappearance into the produce aisle. As a result, when The Rob called to say he was on his way home, I had just gotten home myself. But I kicked it into high gear.

Monday, June 6, 2011

You Can Make It Yourself! Fruit-on-the-Bottom Yogurt

I always resent those sanctimonious “Your Money” articles that local papers periodically run, telling you that you could save ever so much bank if you would just, say, make your coffee at home every morning. As if forgoing that $1.50 large with half-and-half at the bodega is really going to solve all your budgetary woes? Listen, all New Yorkers are pretty much financially screwed to varying degrees—so let us have a little indulgence like a damn cup of deli coffee on the way to work without feeling guilty about it!

That said, there are some really overpriced food items 9-to-5-ers get suckered into buying o’er on the dreaded isle o’ Manhattan, that I do believe you’re better off prepping and schlepping. Case in point: those stupid yogurt cups with fruit and granola that cost, like, $3.50 in the refrigerator cases of your fancier midtown delis. How hard is it to buy a quart of yogurt, a pint or two of berries, and a box of granola for the week, and combine into individual servings in Tupperware the night before work?

And if, like me, you enjoy taking a fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt cup as your morning repast, you’re looking at probably upwards of $1 a pop…not to mention whatever additives, preservatives, and sweeteners. If you make a batch of fruit sauce at home and buy a quart of yogurt at the supermarket, you’ll have a few days’ worth of healthy morning or afternoon snacks for less money (and not much time), and you’ll know what you’re eating.

This is a great way to use blueberries that are a little past the peak of ripeness. Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and sliced peaches would all work in lieu of or in addition to blueberries. But if you have really fresh fruit straight from the farmstand, you might just want to enjoy it raw with the yogurt and a drizzle of maple syrup or agave nectar.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Purple Chipotle Slaw

So, this is the slaw I served atop pulled smoked pork shoulder on soft corn tortillas this past Memorial Day weekend; I’ve also done it with braised pork shoulder. But as a stand-alone, this would be a welcome side dish at any cookout or picnic, and it’s a good way to feed a crowd—red cabbage is cheap! Plus it takes very little time to throw together.

I recommend making this the night before so that the flavors set up and the cabbage softens into the dressing. The cabbage I used in the recipe below was a little under 2 1/2 pounds; tweak the dressing proportions if yours is significantly bigger or smaller.