Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Why I Hate Thanksgiving...Not!

Now, if you thought that I was going to go into a bloated diatribe about why Thanksgiving sucks, then your wrong. It is however, a common theme echoed across the blogshpere this time of year. I hate Turkey, my family sucks, everyone just sits around the TV watching football, its a holiday based around killing the Indians, these are but of few of the Internet yodeling justifying why the Holiday stinks. Why argue with that, right? Wrong.

So you hate Turkey, that's fine. One of my customers at the shop hates it as well, but instead of calling off the holiday or complaining about how much he hates fowl, he served his guests Surf & Turf. Hate going home for the Holiday because your family is crazy, then don't go home, host your owl Thanksgiving and ban TV watching all together.

Don't agree with the ideology behind the celebration, then come up with your own. Host your own dinner in honor of the way of life that was destroyed by the settlers. Have all your guests dress in black and cook traditional Native American dishes. What I'm, trying to say, is that you have the power to reinvent the holiday.

As for me, I love thanksgiving. I love it because, over the past 12 years, my friends and I have created our own Thanksgiving traditions based on what we feel the Holiday should be about. It's all about the Family that you choose,

and a table big enough to house them all,
Its about smacking the Turkey,
answering tough questions like, Muppets or Fraggle Rock?
and behaving like a child again,

For me, its about cooking a feast that is worthy of friendships that have survived and thrived over the years,
its about cooking with loved ones,

and most importantly, its about Dorky Dance competitions,

To the Thanksgiving haters, these sentiments may seem paltry but, to them I say, try it one year, and then tell me you can't come up with at least one reason to be thankful.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Roommates

Having roommates is never easy. Even if you get along like like fried eggs and ham, there are bound to be some habits that grate on one another's nerves, for example, dirty dishes left in the sink, bogarting the remote, and singing along with every song played on the stereo. But, what if your list of annoying roommate habits included molting, pecking, and smelling like a chicken?Buzz and Auntie have recently been subjected to two new coopmates and to be honest with you, I am beyond disappointed to find that they have not only been picking on one of the new girls, but they have been brutally assaulting assaulting her.
The new chicks arrived Sunday evening and after evaluating their temperaments we decided that, due to her unflappable and cordial charm we would sneak the funny looking blackTurken, Bruja , into the coop while Buzz and Auntie were sleeping. This is a pretty standard integration tactic for new chickens and it seemed to work well enough forBruja. The next morning Buzz and Auntie picked on her a bit, but the climate of the coop had hardly been compromised.

The integration of chicken number two- Cinderella I'll call her for now - has proven to be more of a challenge. From the start she was very skittish and defensive, and for this very reason we decided to give her one more day to calm down before throwing her into the mix. The next day, when I brought her cage into the chicken run to set her loose,Bruja immediately ran over. How sweet, I naively thought, she's coming over to greet her old friend. I could not have been farther off the mark. As soon as Bruja reached Cinderella, she began pecking at her angrily. Buzz and Auntie soon caught wind of the assault and, like a pack of high school mean girls, backed up their new feathered companion by closing in on Cinderella from all sides. It was a barbaric display, one that has persisted all week long with early morning ambushes, heartbreaking cries for help, and many a rescue. It's hard to believe that my dear little chick-a-dees are capable of being suck bitches!
It's so bad that it has me wondering if I will be forced to put an end to this torment with a recipe I found in an old cookbook from 1909.
You hear that girls! You might want to re-think behaving in such an unlovable fashion so close to Thanksgiving... I do have 17 mouths to feed after all.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Sick and Twisted Lot...

Think about the three worst things that could happen to a foodie and sure enough, stomach ailments would be on that list – that's at least the conclusion I've come to after six days of unspeakable torture at the hands of the stomach flu. I hardly have to get into details to convey the pains, discomforts, and embarrassments everyone goes threw when they come down with a stomach virus, and if you share a bathroom with one or more people well, its just down right awful.
So everyone gets it, the Stomach flu sucks! But it sucks oh so much more for foodies. Why is that? Foodies suffer in ways non-foodies dare not imagine. For these food-frenziests, not only are they being robbed of their valuable vitamins and nutrients every time they head hastily to the bathroom, they are being robbed of something much more precious; they are being robbed of the notion of a good meal.

For the foodcentric, having their three meals a day stripped down to three saltine crackers, a ramekin of plain white rice, and a gallon of smart water may be tolerable... for a day!
But as day two rolls around, the outlook becomes bleak enough for them to gamble their digestive tranquility on riskier foods items such as, pumpkin gnocchi and roasted sweet potatoes. And such is the sick and twisted lot of a foodie, that as their stomach grumbles in protest of their imprudent decision - it was the pumpkin gnocchi of course - they ironically comfort themselves with episodes of Dinners Drive-ins and Dives, Good Eats, and Top Chef.
Sure, it may seem masochistic to fawn over an HD version of a 12oz. Burger drenched in Sister Sally’s Special Spicy Sauce as your intestines rally to take you down. But let me assure you, as the days pass - and intestinal health appears to be further away then anticipated - I myself have become so pooped (pardon the expression), that simply the idea of salt-brined pork loin and Chocolate Molten Cake has become spiritually nourishing.

For this Brooklyn Foodie, it has been six days of edible torment peppered with endless excursions to the bathroom. The only reason I am able to patiently await the day I can wrap my lips around a butter laden chocolate chunk cookie and let it melt in my mouth with little to no gastric consequences, is because I have sustained myself wholly on just the notion of the Barefoot Contessa’s scrumptious looking Carrot Cake - covered in pineapple, on the savory idea of Sopapillas from Salsa Brava in Flagstaff AZ, on early morning daydreams of quick-fire challenges involving poached eggs - Ruben style, on the itellectual essence of Crab Salad Strudel, Basil infused Ice Cream, Ham Hocks, and Bok Choy, and on the desire for Bread Pudding with a very Chocolaty Twist. How many un-foodies can say the same? Not many. That's because the only thing a non-foodie has lost to the Stomach Flu, is their lunch.

Friday, September 04, 2009

There's a new Bird in Town

Not Many trips to our local kitchen supply store, A Cooks Companion, don't result in the purchase of some fun new kitchen gadget or appliance. Mashers, strainers, mortar and pestles, knife sharpeners, you name it, we've snatched it up from this foodie haven where the Le Creusets are as colorful as they are bountiful and the staff is always prepared to answer questions and help you in your latest culinary exploit. Our most recent visit resulted in my favorite kitchen addition to date, the adoption of a penguin!
That's right, Ben and I are now the proud owners of a penguin shaped seltzer maker. This funny looking bird cranks out seltzer in a matter seconds and comes with two glass storage bottles with tightly fitting screw caps to keep your bubbles bubbly for refrigerator storage. For the last two weeks the two of us have been drinking seltzer like it was our job, much to the chagrin of our dear chicken Buzz who doesn't know what to think of the addition of yet another bird into this Brooklyn household.

Don't worry Buzz, our growing love of the penguin could never eclipse our love of your daily visits or fresh eggs, you may however, want to rethink the early morning squawks.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tough Decisions

There are few things I like better than a visit to the Red Hook playing fields for some tasty Soccer Tacos. Whenever I find myself ridding past that one block radius packed with bustling food vendors, I find it nearly impossible not to stop for an impromptu brunch of Salvadoran Papusas (fried masa pancakes stuffed with cheese, beans, and or meat), Mexican Sopes, or Guatemalan style tamales. Today Ben and I did just that, and as we washed down our Carne de Rez and Frijoles Papusas with some fresh watermelon juice, I thought about how much I love love love Latin American food. The revelation of how much I love pickled jalapenos, avocados, anchos chilies, and masa - in all its forms - suddenly left me with a terrifying thought, what if I had to make a choice?
"If you could only eat two types of cuisine for the rest of your life, what would they be?" I asked Ben, who immediately fell silent with mournful contemplation.
It certainly wasn't an easy question to answer. I myself was still mulling it over. Mexican food would have to be one of the two, but that left a tough decision; I would have to choose between Thai, French, Vietnamese, or Italian food. For the sake of culinary summitry, French or Italian Cuisine would be a wise choice; but that would mean I could never have Thai or Vietnamese ever again! Was I ready to make that decision? Then again, wouldn't I tire of eating Mexican and Vietnamese, FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE! I thought of maybe changing the rules to this little, and perhaps masochistic game and allowing for three types of cuisine instead of two, but that just felt like cheating.
I took my last bite of Papusa, heavily drenched in spicy red salsa, and looked over at Ben to access his progress with the question. "Well?" I asked impatiently awaiting his answer. He took a deep breath as though ready to relinquish his forever rights to two of his favorites foods and said, "I don't think I like this game very much." Fare enough babe, neither do I. Game over.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Don't Fence Me In

Question: How do you discipline a chicken?

This may seem like an out-of-the-blue question considering my lengthy absence. Working in the wine shop and bartending, moving in with Ben and adopting two new chickens has this Brooklyn Peasant tackling problems never before contemplated: How do you juggle two jobs, marry two kitchens, and more importantly, how do you protect your beloved egg laying chickens from a family of pesky raccoons? Lets just say that in my struggle to answer these questions, I have exhausted my search engine, entertained bar regulars with weekly poultry updates, needs have been met, and questions have been answered...all but one that is.

Combining Ben's kitchen and mine turned out to be easier than I had originally expected. Because together we turned out to have two of many kitchen utensils and appliances, we simply gave a few things away. Two friends of mine inherited my Cuisinart, and my soon to be ex-roommate, after a mini sharpening lesson, inherited some knifes, a steal, silverware, and some pots and pans.

The raccoons, though persistent, were easy to handle. Some two-by-fours, chicken wire, and some green paint was all we needed to keep our prized chick-a-dees from the clutches of the insatiable raccoons. Of course we did feel bad having to fence the girls in,
(See how Sad Buzz looks.)
and so we resolved to let them romp the yard freely on weekends and holidays when we would be around to guard them from potential predators.

This seemed to work just fine for a few weeks. Saturday morning the girls would wake us with their hungry squawks and we would stumble out sleepily to open the coop door. Out they would run as fast as their wirey little chicken feet could carry them and as Ben and I hammered away at the second story flooring,
the girls were free to scratch their way threw the back yard, eating pebbles and rolling around in the dirt to stay cool. During the week, Buzz would demand food and or attention in the morning and for the most part we would oblige her, but she was always quieted when we would come out to say hello and feed her a tasty treat of dried cranberries. We just thought that she was a super friendly chicken with out of the ordinary social needs. Little did we know we had created a monster.

It all started a week ago when Buzz woke us at 6am with squawks so load we figured she must be getting mauled by and intruding animal. Well there was no intruder. As we rushed outside to rescue our dear little chick, there she stood on the other side of the fencing, glaring at us with disdain. Though we fed her and gave her attention, her cries could not be extinguished. We did everything, we talked to her comfortingly, we yelled at her in English and then in Spanish, we even threw water at her, but she would quiet down only long enough to peck at the wire fencing that stood between her and freedom. Over the next week Buzz would wake us every morning with her murderous cries. On Buzz's mornings off Auntie, her feathered counterpart, would take the floor with her raspy chirps. Somehow, by answering every cry, and by giving the girls a taste of freedom, we had created little monsters. So here we are, back to my original question, How DO you discipline a chicken? Only when this question is answered will Ben and I get a full nights sleep.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Feefee Monster and The Coffee Fanatic Redux

I admit it. I am a coffee fanatic, a coffee geek, and a coffee snob. I love coffee so much that I am excited about my morning cup when I go to sleep the night before. French roast, American roast, French press, drip, espresso, cappuccino, with whole milk, skim, or half and half any which way is fine with me as long as I get it strong and hot. The first thing I do upon rising is to participate in my brewing ritual. I grind, I brew, and I always heat my mug – something I picked up from my mother. I dream of the day they invent a “Coffee Robot” that will brew coffee to my liking and wheel it in to me first thing in the morning saying, with electronic intonation, “Here is your coffee…Madeline.” I owe most of my fanaticism to my mother for getting me addicted at the ripe young age of two. There I sat in my high chair, reaching with delight for my morning fix, a tippy-cup filled with five parts milk and one part coffee, what I called my “feefee.” (i was to young to say the whole word!) Until the explosive morning when my mother forgot to add the one part coffee to my milk, she was entirely unaware of the fact that she had created a feefee monster. I threw my tippy-cup on the floor. I kicked, I screamed, I cried, “FEFEEEEE, FEFEEEE!!” She had had no idea just how bad my addiction had become. She eventually weaned me off the caffeine, but by age twelve I was drinking a cappuccino before school every morning.

Why am I telling you this? Well, partially because it is one of my favorite stories to tell, and partly because I want you to take me very seriously when I tell you that you should forever buy your coffee from Empire Coffee & Tea co. They are truly the best roasters around. Many others, claiming to be serious about their coffee, will tell you to buy from Puerto Rican Coffee co. PR Coffee co. my ass! Okay, perhaps that was a little harsh. PR’s coffee is good coffee, but it is maybe my second or third choice. More often than not their beans taste bitter and burnt. Empire’s coffee is simply better. Maybe its because they roast in small batches, or maybe its because they have been doing it with love for 91 years, who knows why . The store is located on 9th avenue in the forties and is nothing fancy. There are two couches in the front and sacks of coffee and jars of tea in the back. You can buy your coffee by the pound, or have a fresh brewed cup and biscotti from the counter. I have been going there for about 15 years now, and the staff has always been incredibly nice, it’s actually almost bizarre how nice- this is NY after all. If ninth ave and 42nd is too out of the way for you, you can order their coffee online. The web sight is a little wacky and easy to navigate, after you fill out you order form you can leave a comment, or “ you could write some poetry if you like.” I left a bit of Pablo Neruda the last time I ordered.
So if you yourself are a coffee snob, or just interested in becoming one check out Empire Coffee & Tea co. online or at their store locations:

568 9th ave (41st-42nd streets)
nyc, ny, 10036
(212) 268- 1220
(800) 262- 5908

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Evolution of The Coffee Robot

I'm telling you man, it's the future, everything's just gonna be done my humans.

I sure as hell better have a Robot that makes me my coffee before you find me making coffee for my Robot. It's evolution baby...

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Chance Meeting

It was like one of those scenes in a movie where all the actions of one or of many all add up to an unavoidable brush with fate; sometimes a chance meeting with a future love, or an unlucky encounter with tragic outcome. Only destiny decides whether it is the former or the latter. Lucky for these two,

it was a glorious communion, the coming together of two magnificent parts that resulted in one heavenly experience.
The way the world works, it seemed unlikely that the two would ever be in the same place at the same time and, had I woken up on time it may never of happened. Had I woken up on time, I would have bought everything I had intended to at the food coop, and I would have never ended up in the express aisle. The very aisle that houses all the various chocolate bars. Had I woken up on time, I would have had time to take my groceries home before going to work, and I would have never found myself at the wine shop opening a bar of chocolate at the very same time that my boss was opening a bottle of wine.
Well I didn't wake up on time, and thank God I didn't because BAM! Who knew that an unassuming salt speckled 65% milk chocolate bar from Brooklyn, and and unmistakably French Malbec from the Loire Valley would hit it off so well. The floral aromas of the wine mingled with the rich cocoa perfume, arousing the taste buds in the process. The richness of the dark milk chocolate was a wonderful accompaniment to the earthiness this region is known to produce. And the salt? Lets just say, the salt sealed the deal. These two were so meant for each other that I may not set my alarm clock ever again.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Last Year's Trash

When I arrived at the Laundromat last week, I was surprised to find it packed full of people - not usually the case on a weekday morning. "Everyone wants to get their laundry done for the New Year" said the owner. Apparently having all your laundry done before the New Year is an established New Years tradition, one that I had never heard of before, "I never knew about it either till I had this place." Well, what do I know about the laundry business...

What I do know is that i have a little New Years tradition of my own that takes place in the kitchen. Every New Years, once all the celebrating, and in my case, eating is over with, I open up the fridge and clean out the heaps of leftover food that have piled up over the holidays.
Moldy cranberry sauce, smelly brisket, mushy vegetables, and unrecognizable substances are all yanked, tossed in a garbage bag, and taken out like last year's trash. As far a traditions go, its not too lavish, and hardly original, but it makes me feel better about the coming year. A kind of cleaning out of the closets if you will.
It is not until the last vegetable drawer is scrubbed and placed back in the fridge, that I feel 100% about the year to come.
Have any New Years traditions/superstitions of your own?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

I love you _____ Robot...

Midge Some say that I should give it up, my peculiar fascination with coffee Robots...

Maxwell & Marcus
I say, its hard thing to kick when, everywhere I go, I am tormented by gangs of cool looking robots.
Why just the other day, while strolling down Atlantic Ave. minding my own business, I spot these guys in a window display. None of them make coffee for you in the morning. In fact, I'm pretty sure they don't do anything other than look funky. I still love them despite their obvious disabilities and have taken it upon myself to name each and everyone of them.