Tag Archives: Food Week

nine

18 May

I work from home on Wednesdays, which is phenomenal in many several ways, not the least of which that I get to work in my pajamas. Shit, I could work in the nude if I wanted to (I don’t) and nobody would be the wiser.

Besides the whole nude/pajama thing, it also affords me the option of making myself a breakfast that doesn’t consist of wheat toast, peanut butter, and honey. Which, ahem, if you must know, has been my work-breakfast just about every single frickcockin’ day Monday through Friday for approximately the last 18 million months. Is tragical, I tell you, that my office kitchen does not have a stove, or frying pans, because in the same time it takes me to toast the bread and spread the peanut butter and honey, I can also create this:

I shit you not—no time at all. Looks a little fancy, doesn’t it? It’s just scrambled eggs with a little chive mixed in, served on a mini bagel. And it was delicious. Thanks, Telecommuting Wednesday, for allowing me to cook breakfast at home.

Breakfast isn’t necessarily a new concept for me, but it is definitely one that’s become infinitely more important since joining the workforce so many moons ago. If I don’t eat breakfast I’ll usually start gnawing on my knuckles by 10 am, and licking my keyboard for stray crumbs from yesterday’s lunch by about 11:30.

But pre-workforce?

Umm…yeah.

Not so much.

If I remember correctly, in grade school/high school it was usually a Nutri-Grain bar and a Diet Coke/Pepsi (whatever was on sale that week at The Jewel) (for high school…juice boxes, probably, in grade school? When did my pop addiction start?)

In college I gave up the ghost completely. Breakfast fell by the wayside in favor of sleeping, to be frank. In the four years I spent at SMC, I think I can count on one hand the number of times I went to the dining hall before the 11 o’clock hour. And those days it was before 11 am were probably Sunday mornings, at 10:45, and I had probably woken up mildly hungover, and probably stomped down the hall or down a floor to AnneNoraStephanieBethAly’s room demanding we go to the dining hall now because I was going to hit someone if I didn’t get an omelet from the make your own omelet station. And some motherfucking bacon. And a Diet Pepsi. And maybe some Cocoa Puffs. Possibly a grilled cheese. And for Christ’s sake, who smoked all my cigarettes last night?

My junior year roommate, the wondrous Sarah, was the complete opposite of me. Breakfast was her mainstay, because lunch? Lunch was fickle. She was a nursing major and up at ungodly hours to get to the hospital, and I’d often hear stories about how she and half my friends, who were education majors and also had to get up early to student teach, had some adventure in the dining hall that morning.

True story: Sarah used to get up, seriously, at like 6 am, because of these godforsaken clinicals*. She would shower and watch the morning news and blow dry her hair in our dorm room and I swear to you I never once fucking woke up. Totally Awesome Sleeper when I was in college.

The dining hall building as we knew it has since been knocked down—it happened a couple years after we graduated—and in its place is more of a student center, with the book store, and a snack shop, and of course, the foodstuffs Sodexho serves up daily, cafeteria-style. But even before it looked like what a typical student center should look like, as it does now, the old DH was our student center, if only informally. Big, round tables, in a big, wonky building that looked like a space ship from the outside. We’d trickle in two or three at a time, though sometimes if we could get it together enough, 15 of us would tromp in and line up patiently for Evelyn to scan our IDs before making a bee-line for toasted ravioli and the sizzlin’ salad bar.

God I f-ing loved Friday night dinners at the DH. Appetizer bar and Sizzlin’ Salad bar? Be still my heart. And get me another refill of Diet Pepsi. And quick! Because I have a beer to catch at Club 23.

And we’d spend hours there, particularly at dinner, when there were no classes to dash off to, no homework to get started on (not that there was never homework, we just never wanted to do it), but plenty of stories to catch up on from the day, plenty of raucousness to start, and plenty of fro-yo and rice krispie treats to keep us full.

It was, now that I think about it, my first taste of Family Dinners of the non-blood family kind.

And I miss them.

I’d go back and do each and every dinner over again if I could.

And if I could do it all over again, I might even get up in time for breakfast.

Maybe.

Happy 9th Graduation Anniversary to all my Belles, Class of 2001!

*Not godforsaken that they were awful, of course, except for the early hour, they were quite useful, I’m sure, and Sarah has gone on to become a very successful nurse and in fact I think she’s actually teaching nursing now. Huh. Note to self: Catch up with Sarah. Ask her about this weird spot on my lip.

readers ask

18 May

Dear McPolish,

My darling husband will soon be celebrating his first Father’s Day and has a hankering for banana cream pie. He was quite adamant that it be a good, rich, custard-y type pie, not some banana-flavored thing with 6 inches of fake whipped cream on top, a la Denny’s.

Now, when I think “custard,” I think, “Oh shit, I’m going to have sugary scrambled eggs or raw-egg soup.”

I found a recipe by Emeril Lagasse that I think I’ll use, but sure enough, I’m forewarned not to fuck up the custard during the whisking process when the egg yolks hit the stove. He says to whisk frantically for 5 minutes, but I’m then told to go more by consistency than time.

What, exactly, is the consistency I’m looking for?

—Custard, Not Cus-terd.

Dear Custard,

First of all, there is not a chance in hell you will fuck up the custard, because I know you and I have faith in your baking abilities. Secondly, even if you did fuck it up it would still be okay, and your husband will just have to like it because you birthed a human, for Christ’s sake, and what did he do? He got all the fun part.

What?

I don’t have any kids. I’m going to shut my yap now.

So!

Banana Cream Pie!

Oh, how I love pie. PAH!

But to be honest, having only ever made two pahs in my life, I can’t answer this one from personal experience. But being fantastically resourceful, I researched the interwebs and have an answer for you.

Ready?

It should be thicker than a pudding, but not as firm as a crème brulee.

Ta-Daaaa!

Does that help?

Probably not.

It makes sense in my head.

Damn.

I’m sorry.

Why couldn’t you have asked about the many uses of butter? Or how not to frost a cake?

Let us know how the pah! turns out, and if it doesn’t, can I at least locate the nearest Baker’s Square for you?

Other readers, do you have any advice for Custard? Or is this Custard’s last stand with pah-making? Leave your thoughts, opinions, and tips in the comments section!

****************************************************

On a completely other note, a new food magazine (and crafts and such) recently launched, called Sweet Paul. It’s free! It’s completely online! And it’s pretty good! Check it out if you’re into that sort of thing. Fair warning: the photography is practically lickable.

pairings

18 May

Maryland and Virginia are rife with wineries.

No joke. Particularly Virginia, where, if you go to the northern part of the state, there are approximately eleventeen million fortytwohundredthousand wineries within a 10 mile radius.

I’m not going to lie—the wines, they are….well, they are. Some are pretty good, some are merely decent. Some should simply remain grapes and left hanging on the vine in a decorative manner.

While I haven’t come across a Maryland or Virginia wine that’s knocked my socks off, that hasn’t stopped me from taste-testing at any vineyard I can get my hands on. A few weeks ago, LivingSocial.com had a great deal—$15 for $30 worth of wine or wine tasting at Corcoran Vineyards. Neither The Swede nor I had ever heard of this place, but we figured what the hell, at the very least we’d get to ride a ferry boat.

So on a gloomy Saturday we hopped that ferry boat and headed into Virginny. We got our money’s worth at Corcoran’s, and the wines were pretty good, if not a bit on the pricier side for a Virginia wine. Under $20? Reasonable. Over $20, like these ones were? Not worth it. The winery had a couple of picnic tables out back, overlooking a large pond and some trees, and we sat and drank our wine and it would have all been very romantical had it not been for the mini-bus driver, waiting for his group of wine-tasting twentysomethings inside, singing along with…the radio? The song in his head? Hard to tell.

We moved on to a different winery, but it turned out The Swede had already been to that one, so before we could even park we were out of the parking lot and on our way down the road, looking at the winery map, The Swede directing me which way to go when. We turned into Breaux Vineyards, a sprawling swathe of land that was triple the size of Corcoran. Its tasting room was packed with day trippers, so we opted to skip the tasting bar, and headed straight to the cash register. I plucked cheese and bread from the shelves, The Swede grabbed a pack of salami, then turned to the man behind the register and said, “What’s your favorite wine here?” The man looked a little startled at the question—obviously we could find out about the wines for ourselves over at the wine tasting bar—but when he realized we were waiting for an honest answer, and had no intention of standing in the throng around the tasting bar, he pulled out a bottle of red and said confidently, “This one.”

“Done,” said The Swede, and we gathered up our wine and foodstuffs and headed outside. He secured a table outside while I dashed to the car to grab the cheeseboard and knife he had so thoughtfully packed, and we happily whiled away an hour or so drinking wine, eating salami and bread, and cutting cheese, talking politics and other such things.

Heh. Wait a sec.

I said cutting cheese.

OMG, not like that, you guys!

We sliced cheese, and then we ate it.

And it was delicious.

The wine was pretty good, too.

Here’s a fun fact for you: In Montgomery County, Maryland, you can take open bottles of wine in your car with you (re: say you order a bottle at a restaurant but don’t finish it) (Wait, what? Why wouldn’t you finish the bottle of wine?) (Whatever.), as long as it’s corked and in a bag. I’m not sure how the rollers in Loudon County, Virginia, feel about this subject, but what they don’t know (wetookhalfthebottleofwinehomewithus) won’t hurt them (Iputthewineinmytrunk).

Is there a better pairing than wine and cheesesalamibread?

I’m not sure I can think of one.

Two vineyards down, umpteenhundred to go.

my lovely lady bundts

17 May

…check it out!

It’s the least I could do for you, getting that Fergie song stuck in your head. You’re welcome.

So a few months back I was going through a mini bundt cake phase for various and sundry reasons*, and bought a bunch of mini bundt pans from World Market. Because how cute are mini bundt pans?

Right?

I know.

Super cute.

And for me not being a big cake fan (don’t start), mini bundts are actually quite splendid I think, because you can get that just-right amount of cake without having a whole honking cake leftover and having to be all, “WTF am I going to do with the rest of this cake? And how the shit am I supposed to transport it?”

So mini bundts. Much better.

And just as easy as cupcakes, once you get the fill amount correct. Too much uncooked batter, say, filling it to the brim of the pan or just barely under, and the cakes will overflow, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but they don’t sit as nicely and as level-y when you turn them out. But if you only fill them about ¾ of the way? Muuuch better. Use your favorite chocolate cake recipe—any will do, really. And for the glaze on top, you can use your favorite as well.

But HWHUT! if I don’t have a favorite?

Well! Then here’s one to give a go:

  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips. Cook, stirring constantly, until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth. Do not allow it to bubble. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla. Cool slightly before drizzling over a cake. If you want to make this ahead, it can be cooled and reheated in the microwave.

(BTW – that glaze recipe was pulled from AllRecipes.com.)

(And Note: I haven’t actually made this recipe, but it sounds delicious and relatively easy, and based on my experience with frosting and glazes, I’m going to go ahead and give it a thumbs up just from just the look of it. Although I’m wary of the reheating in the microwave process. Let me know how that goes.)

And when it’s all said and done, take your fork and dive into this. Yes, this:


You won’t regret it.

And again: You’re welcome.

*NO, I’m not going to tell you my reasons, because then you might steal my brilliant plan and I will be a sad, mini bundt cake-less panda.

mmmmm….bundty…..

food week at mcpolish

16 May

o…..M….G.

Is that who I think it is?

No…it couldn’t be…

Hmmm…well, he’s grown a beard since last time we saw him, but yeah, I think it’s him.

It’s him! It is him!

It’s MG! The McPolish Food Week Mascot!

Do you know what this means?

It means it’s Food Week at McPolish!

HOLY CRAP!

THAT’S AWESOME!

HOORAY!!!

Readers—all four of you—in addition to lovely posts about food this week, if you have any questions or concerns related to cooking, baking, or just food in general, please leave a comment with your question, or email me at mcpolish1@gmail.com. If I actually get any questions, I’ll be answering them throughout the week!