Sunday, October 15, 2006

Clear Out the Cupboards - FB2B, part 37

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been working some pretty long hours this past week. I've been staffed on a project that's to last a minimum of another two weeks so more of the same is ahead of me. As I get paid by the hour, that's some nice overtime in the bank; however, that schedule also takes its toll in other areas.

One of those is my eating and diet. Losing 10+ hours in opportunity costs (the amount of overtime I billed this week), doesn't make it easy to prepare, shop and plan for mealtimes. Perhaps it is for these reasons that the new Real Simple Food was appealing to me. I've enjoyed the regular magazine and often found some good tips in it, so I was interested to see what tidbits a version solely dedicated to food would tell me.

With hints about speeding up prep time, sample meals, and suggestions for what to stock in one's pantry, the magazine tries to address how to feed ourselves and our families with our time-starved lifestyles. It made me think that it was also long time since I had overhauled my own kitchen cabinets and fridge.
One item I think is really useful is "The periodic table of produce." It goes through how to store and how long to keep various items. For me this is always a challenge as I'm not always up for preparing dinner after working overtime. Sometimes, I have to admit, food goes bad before I have a chance to eat it. Hopefully, having this reference on hand, I'll be able to make smarter shopping decisions.

Now, in a soul-baring first, I'm going to throw open the contents of my refrigerator and cabinets. I know that they are not the best-stocked they've ever been, but I think that they have some good options. I just need to do a big shop to fill in the missing pieces and to restock some of those things I've used up.
A selection of spices is always good to dress up dinner

Oils and vinegars for cooking and marinades

Nothing in the freezer except chicken, puff pastry, filo, and cookie dough

Look: frozen peas, some pine nuts and almonds, and back-up coffee

Not much in the fridge except some breakfast food and cheese

Hmm...wonder from whom I learned to put foot lotion in the door...

Always good to have garlic, shallots and onions available

Coffee (of course), granola and pasta are always readily at hand

Baking supplies are top-shelf

And look what I found hidden in the back! Good thing I didn't buy this again.

Buon appetito!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Burgers Baby! - FB2B, post 36

Having pulled two 10-hour-plus days back-to-back, I felt I was entitled to pre-spend some of my future overtime earnings on dinner. Even the above pile of take-out menus didn't seem all that inspiring as far as choice. I'm not sure if it's just me, or my iron-deficiency cravings, but burgers seem to be a much-discussed topic in blogland lately. Even Frank Bruni was interviewed in A Hamburger Today.

I've written before about one of my favorite spots to grab a burger when the weather's nice in the city (see link). Tonight, however, that was too far to trek from my Midtown office building. I headed towards my apartment and stopped in at a local restaurant instead.

You know this place. Almost every area has one. It has reliable, tasty food and a solid menu. It's the place you think of for Sunday brunch or Saturday lunch, the place to take out of town guests to grab a bite their first night in town, and where you know the game is on (doesn't matter which one) every night. Most of all, it is the place where you can grab a good, meaty burger and at a reasonable price.
Isn't that lovely? Look at those fries - crispy and fluffy at the same time. I have a friend who can eat a whole portion in a matter of minutes. My burger came medium rare, as usual, covered in melted cheddar cheese, served on a toasted kaiser roll.

My additions were the standard for me: ketchup, mustard (not the yellow American kind), and a slice of red onion. It's a ritual for me when I decide that a burger is the thing to hit that hunger spot. In general, I skip the lettuce and tomato. It just interferes in my opinion. Besides, they always seem to slip and slide out of the bun.

So, here's a salute to those local joints, the ones that keep us fed when we are hungry and also serve us what our soul craves.

Buon Appetito!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

What's in the Fridge? – FB2B, post 35

I knew from the first minute I woke up this morning that it was raining outside. I could hear the sloshy sound of cars traveling on the streets, water spitting out from under their wheels. What a great excuse to lie around in bed all day.

Then, my stomach started to grumble a little. Obviously, it had other ideas for what I should be doing at that moment. I threw back my fluffy duvet and rolled myself out of bed, literally. I knew that I really had too much to do today to waste all of it sleeping.

Stumbling to the kitchen, still a bit bleary-eyed, I opened the fridge. Hmm, let’s see, there’s ham, cheese, milk, butter, eggs, and I know I have bread in the freezer. Inspired by something that was on the company cafeteria’s menu last week, I realized I had on hand the ingredients to make Croque Monsieur.
Although bit unorthodox for breakfast, this is one of my favorite all-time, top-5 sandwiches. Toast (how could one go wrong with that?), ham, melted cheese, and béchamel, then lightly grilled. Add an Orangina, and one could almost feel as though it was lunchtime in Paris.

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