Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Exercising My Taste Buds

Today I gave my taste buds a work out. It started with an innocent trip to the Spice House where I was only going to pick up a few items for my pantry. My day soon became a culinary adventure that worked my taste buds into a tizzy. Below are the details of what I bought and/or consumed. I should warn you...there is food porn below.

First stop was The Spice House where I went a bit overboard. I started with a list of a few ingredients and it just snowballed from there. Here's what I ended up buying:
dehydrated cilantro leaves
dehydrated minced orange peel (I'm really excited to use this for my cocktails)
garlic powder
telicherry black peppercorns
dried chanterelle mushrooms (going to try these in a soup)
chicken base
freshly ground cumin
sweet curry powder
rose water (once again -for cocktails)
black truffle oil (this stuff is like crack to me - now I understand addiction)
Bridgeport seasoning (for my taters)

and then I left with the intention of going to lunch and heading home. That's when I stumbled upon Old Town Oil ( and what I like to call an orgasm in my mouth. So I walk in to find containers of olive oil and balsamic ready for tasting. The guy working there (sorta cute, but I may have been deluded by the access to olive oil and the fact that he had a shaved head, which is a major turn on lately) was kind enough to show me around and give me samples of the oil. From there he moved me over to the balsamic and fed me combos of oil and balsamic like Meyer lemon oil and strawberry balsamic. I ended up with two bottles of oil (a Castile from Spain and a Basil infused oil from Tunisia) and a bottle of 18 year old balsamic. On the way home I was thinking of all the naughty things I was going to do with my new friends and a baguette.

I was almost tempted to skip my lunch and head home, but I wanted to check out this new restaurant called Pho and I. It's right up the street and Ive been hearing so much about pho, a Vietnamese soup. I had a lunch of mango bubble tea, fish cakes and pho- all for under $20. Very filling on a bitter cold day like this.

I had one final stop - my neighborhood cheese shop, Pastoral. There I purchased a baguette, some French butter, Mexican chocolate, and a bottle of Chateau Coupe Roses Minervois which I am enjoying immensely. Right now I'm safe at home looking up recipes for all my new ingredients. I can't wait for later when I lower the shades, dim the lights, put on some Miles Davis and pull out the baguette, oils and balsamic.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Avocado Cocktail

Think of this as the best margarita you’ll ever have. This came from my favorite book, Market Fresh Mixology. This book really changed the way I looked at cocktails. It uses a lot of fresh ingredients and flavor combinations that would never have imagined. This drink will not disappoint.

Savory Avocado Cocktail
· Avocado cut into 1 inch cubes
· 5 fresh tarragon leaves
· 1.5 oz fresh sour
· Juice of half pressed lime
· 1.5 oz tequila
· ½ oz triple sec

Muddle one cube of avocado with tarragon leaves, sour, and lime. Add tequila, triple sec and ice and shake well. Double strain into glass, using the strainer on the shaker while pouring contents through a sieve over the glass.

Garnish with tarragon sprig a rim with salt and sugar.

Fresh Sour (After you try this sour mix you will NEVER want any of that premade shit near one of your cocktails)
2 cups lemon juice (that’s about 10 lemons, but if I’m running low I top off with a little bottled lemon juice)
1 cup simple syrup (1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup boiling water –stir to dissolve sugar. I usually do the 1 cup to 1 cup ratio and store the extra in the fridge for future use. It will keep up to 2 weeks.)

A word about tequila: I had always been a Jose Cuevo fan, but my tequila experience was limited to shots with salt and lime (an often a night of vomiting). I went to Mexico a few years ago and visited the town of Tequila and have since changed my view of tequila. Tequila is meant to be sipped and when it’s 100% agave, that’s not a problem. Now, you can feel free to use tequila that isn’t 100% agave in this drink because that stuff is okay for mixing. However, I used really nice Anejo Tequila I brought back from Mexico. Anejo just means aged for over a year. This gives it the rich gold color. Just look for the label in your liquor store.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Is this what it is like to be retired?

So, I really have to find something better to do on my days off (cleaning my apartment would be a start). It's already 2pm and here's what I've done today:
  • made huevos rancheros and watched 2 episodes of The Jetsons.
  • cooked a chickpea and bay scallop soup (started from a recipe from Mark Bittman, but soon turned into my own Frankensoup)
  • Opened and consumed a half bottle of Malbec
  • Looked into classes at the Chopping Block. Will be taking a knife skills class in February.
  • Spent about an hour looking at cocktail sites and classes offered in Chicago.
  • Cleaned my bathroom and did about 70 loads of dishes.
  • Secretly promised to go to church if Jesus would just bring me a dishwasher. Somehow I suspect that if there is a God, he is not amused by my humor.
  • Listened to NPR.
  • Considered posting a blog called Souper Douper.
  • Drank a bit too much and decided to take my blog public.

So maybe I need to start getting out a bit more. I fear I could easily turn into some crazy shut in who drinks way too much and smells like soup.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

White Lady

2oz gin
3/4 oz cointreau
1oz lime juice
white of a small egg
shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
I had two reasons for making this cocktail. 1) I had some limes I wanted to use up. 2) it called for egg whites and i've always liked the idea of using them in cocktails. If you don't want to use the raw egg you can buy pasterized egg whites as the grocery. The egg whites add a nice frothy note. This one is pretty potent, but it's a nice crisp cocktail for a cold winter day.


3/4 oz brandy
3/4 oz cointreau
3/4oz rum
juice of 1 lime
a dash of bitters (the recipe calls for angostura, but I used Peychauds. I think orange bitters would work nice as well)
shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass
I've been using brandy a lot more lately. It all started with a champagne punch recipe that i used for new years. I love it's oaky richness and think that it is a great addition to cocktails. It works really well with the rum in this drink.

Calvados Cocktail


1.5 oz Calvados

1.5 oz orange juice

3/4 oz Cointreau

3/4 oz orange bitters

shake with ice and strain

Calvados is an apple brandy from France. It has popped up in my cocktail books from time to time and I decided to give it a try. This drink is perfect for a dreary winter day when all you need is a some sun and a little vitamen C. It's a perfect apple and orange cocktail and it a little on the sweeter side, but still packs a punch. I got this recipe from one of my favorite books: Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. This drink has been around since the 1930's. I also used blood orange bitters (made by Stirrings) in this cocktail.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Zen and the Art of Pubic Hair Maintenance

It was a little over a year ago that I discovered the joy of the bikini wax. My close friends know I'm a huge advocate of getting your hoo-ha waxed. I probably talk about it more than I should ,but I truly believe that every woman should try this at least once. I recently found myself having a conversation with my mom about how she should go get waxed. This (and the fact that i moved my apointments from every 6 weeks to once a month) was the point when I realized that I may have a bit of an obsession. It all started with a cruise I went on. Before I traveled I decided I would give waxing a try. There was actually a place in my neighborhood (The Waxing House) that specialized in it. After my first round I was hooked. Everything was so clean and smooth -I could have never done that with some shaving cream and a razor. I felt better too - confident and sexier.

Most of you are probably wondering what getting a bikini wax involves. Well, let me take some the mystery out of it and give you a 'play by play' of my experience. If you are as lucky as I am you will find a clean and friendly place to go. I actually look forward to seeing my waxer and secretly want to make her my BFF. Anyway, you go into a room with a massage table like bed. You undress from waist down and put on this embarrassingly tiny panty which is just a band of elastic with some gauze attached. Then you lay down, cover your bits with a hand towel and wait for your waxer. The waxer will then have you position your legs (usually bending one up) and apply the wax - this part feels good. The next part is a little painful because this is where she rips the wax and your hair off. I won't lie, it hurts, but you do get used to it. After she waxing is done she will usually apply some tea tree oil and a cold compress to make the swelling go down. The whole process takes about 20 minutes and you feel like a new woman afterwards. I was told not to have sex or exercise for 24 hours (wish that either of those were an issue) because that could irritate the sensitive area.

So have I convinced you to try it? This is a great pick me up, regardless of who will be seeing your lady bits. Maybe it's time to do something for yourself because let's face it ladies, trimming the hedges is not a fun task. So why toil away in your yard when you can just hire a gardener!

Dinner Party #1

Having a dinner party is a very grown up affair. It's something I always wanted to do, but never really thought I had to the space to do it in. I actually don't have the space, but I've decided it's time to brush off my inner culinary goddess and put her to work. The idea to host weekly dinner parties actually came from my friend. Our goal is to have a different friend host every week. The host is in charge of the main course and everyone else brings an appetizer or dessert. We are on week 2 of our 52 weeks of dinner parties and I got to be the hostess this time. Below is my menu and a few photos.

Cocktail: Tall Meyer Lemon Southside (from Market Fresh Mixology): this is a refreshing gin based drink. It's pretty simple to make and I'm sure you can substitute Meyer lemons for something cheaper. I was also pretty stoked to finally get to use my liquor dispenser I got for Christmas. You are supposed to serve this in a high ball glass, but I didn't have one of those so I used a rocks glass.

Citrus Vinaigrette (adjusted from a recipe I found in Home Cooking with Charlie Trotter): I actually just used CT as inspiration and then worked my magic from there. A little olive oil, a little OJ, some lemon juice and some red wine vinegar...not bad for a girl who hates salads. If you ask me, it smelled like ass, but my guests seemed to enjoy it.

Chicken and Chickpea Tagine (from How to Eat by Nigella Lawson): I liked that I could prepare this the day before and let it sit until the next day. I have to say that chicken thighs are quite tasty and after cooking in the pot for an hour they fell right off the bone. I left the chicken skin on so it added a little extra flavor to the pot. Nigella recommends that you use dry chickpeas, but canned one worked just fine. I served this with a side of pine nut couscous.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Laws of Attraction

Tonight I was lured to OK Cupid ( because some gentleman had chosen me for his quick match. OK Cupid is the second dating site that I've joined (I'm still not ready to talk about what a huge let down eHarmony was). This site is free, takes itself less seriously and the guys are way cooler. There are many ways to connect on this site and quick match is just one of them. When you do quick match you get to look at profiles and rate them 1 to 5 stars. If you rate them 4 or 5 stars then the person you rate will get a message saying that someone rated them 4 or 5 stars and if they rate you the same -you match. So, I get this e-mail with some photos of about 9 guys. OK Cupid states that somewhere in my first few matches will be the person who choose me.

So, I log on and start rating. I rate about 15 guys and only 1 gets 4 stars (the really cute European boy) the rest of the men are total losers. I mean we're talking long scraggly hair, live in my parents basement type of losers. Now I know that beggars can't be choosers, but it always seems that there is a certain type of guy that is attracted to me. They always seem to find me on this site and I'm sad to say that the feelings of attraction are not mutual.

To further explain I've come up with a list of things that are wrong with my suitors. Most of these men have at least 3 of these problems: live in their parents basement, unemployed, slightly to largely over weight (I must note that i do like a guy with a little meat on his bones), scraggly and/or long hair, over the age of 40, no social skills, comic book collection, too much facial hair, smells like cooking odors (can't prove this, but sometimes you just have a feeling), once touched a girl's boob and still brags about it to his friends, active in the role playing community, owns a black trench coat, has a penchant for odd hats.

So, you get the picture right? This whole single in the city is much harder than it looks. There isn't a filter for these things on dating sites. The scary thing is that i keep getting matched with them. These may be great guys, but physical chemistry counts for a lot and I just don't see myself getting it on with some guy whose idea of romance is a night of Dungeons and Dragons followed by making out on his parents couch. You get the point.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Christmas in January

I have decided to leave up my Christmas decorations for at least another week. This decision was made for two very good reasons 1) I work retail and that means you don't get to enjoy the holidays and 2) I'm lazy.

I honestly can't remember the last holiday that I got to spend doing whatever I wanted - when I wanted. I've worked retail for 10 years and most of those as a manager. For those of you with normal 9-5 jobs this means 6 day work weeks and not a chance in hell of getting a weekend in December off. I can't complain too much because i made this choice, but this past holiday season really did me in.

This year I yearned for weekends off for shopping and holiday parties. I can't even imagine what it would be like to have the whole week of Christmas off...are you fucking kidding me? Instead I'm subjected to coordinating my schedule to get me out of work in time to be home to celebrate x-mas eve at grandmas and spending Christmas day trying to figure out when and how I will get home because the lovely winter snow has to turned to ice and I know that Northwest Indiana is trying to keep me fron going home to the city. This year i considered just staying in Chicago and celebrating by myself. This would have honestly been a lot let stress.

But enough bitching. I guess most people have their Christmas decorations down by now, but I feel I should keep my lights and tree up for a just a little bit longer. I only own about 5 decorations so it's not like it will take much to pack everything up and besides, maybe somewhere, under my 3 ft high silver tinsel tree I'll find my Christmas spirit...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Mad Girl resolves

It's Sunday at 1pm and I'm still in my PJ's. I just cracked open a bottle of Champagne left over from NYE and I have to say that life is pretty good. Since it is the new year I feel I should post some of my resolutions. I've really never been one for resolutions like loose 15 pounds or learn to play the banjo. In fact, last year I decided to make a list of things I was not going to do. I'm proud to say I did not run for public office or end up in Mexican prison. Good resolutions.

So this year I decided that I need a lifestyle change. Nothing drastic, just a few small adjustments to make my life a little bit more enjoyable. Among the things I'm going to commit to:

  • have more sex
  • wear more cute dresses
  • eat a bit healthier at home and work so i can pig out when I want to
  • have more sex
  • make more vintage cocktails
  • smoke more pot
  • date a wide variety of the male species in hopes of finding one to club over the head and make my mate
  • continue to go to my monthly waxing appointment even if no one else is looking at my hoo-ha
  • keep my nails painted
  • keep up with the blog
  • have more sex
I think this covers the big stuff. I know that last year I joined the world of online dating and this afforded me tons of material for future blogs. I made some progress with that, but I think it's time to bring out the big guns this year. So here's to my year ahead. 2010 are you ready for this Mad Girl?