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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bougie Girl In The Kitchen: Flavor Triad- Ground Ginger, Lemon juice, and Honey

 

 I am a firm believer in jazzing up standard dishes using a creative, yet complimentary mix of flavors. My latest triad of flavors consists of  freshly squeezed lemon juice, ginger, and honey. Over the next week or so, I am creating recipes using the afore-mentioned ingredients.

The goal of this immersion is to take my recipe creating skills to the next level. So far, I have added these ingredients to chicken, beef, tater tots, and pork. The results have been amazing! The ground ginger gives the recipe a kick, the lemon juice adds an extra layer of zing, and then the honey seems to bind it all together.

These ingredients are strong enough to stand on their own, so I only have to add a small amount of them to each of the respective recipes.  In addition, this particular flavor triad is inexpensive and relatively easy to find in most grocery stores.















Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Welcome to Los Angeles (Circa Fall 2003)


 
The first thing to go when you move to Los Angeles...is your money. The rents are exorbitant out here. 

Midwesterners such as myself, experience sticker shock and then numbness as we fork over a king's ransom to live in a tiny efficiency.

Apartments were never this pricey in my previous hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota. For a moment, I’m drawn back into reminiscing about hot apple cider and down parkas. The memory draws me back into a saner time and place. Then, I start to recall that the harsh winters and the boring predictability that each day brought. 

I need to find a job and an apartment ASAP. I spend 15 hours a day pounding the real and virtual pavement. There a million things on my to-do list.

Did I contact my former college classmates whom are already established in the film industry? Why am I procrastinating? It’s as though I’m frozen in place. Am I really too afraid to strive for the life that I dreamt about while I working my succession of dead-end jobs in  Minnesota?

I was lured out to LaLa land by the blasé glitziness of the Southern California lifestyle. Everyone here appears to be so much more laidback than  the Midwest. But, looks are deceiving and unlike New York, Los Angeles is deceptively casual. New York is a tough town and it is clear from day one that it’s not for the fainthearted.

But, Los Angeles is different. It reclines in Southern California greeting starstruck hopefuls with a sigh and a mild look of boredom. Yet, droves of hopefuls arrive each day hoping that to buck the odds and force LA to acknowledge their uniqueness. 

Only in Los Angeles could being a former opera student, Spanish translator, former law student and freelance writer be considered a strong job candidate to a potential employer.


 I have been on several second interviews, but alas no firm job offers as of yet. I an beginning to have nightmares about living on the streets and panhandling to tourists. 


The only time I seem to relax is during my daily jaunts to the bus stop. I sit on the relatively clean bench and try to look sufficiently crazy so that no one will accost me. It is Autumn in Los Angeles and I am overheating in my cardigan sweater. 

Back in Minnesota, I would be clad in a lined jacket with a matching stocking cap and glove set. I reminisce about the crisp Autumn days and the way the leaves rustled down the sidewalks and the reassuring aroma of beef stew that permeated outside my old St. Paul neighborhood.

Then, I start to remember the deep sense of isolation that nine months of cold weather can bring. I also recall the profound sense of failure that six years of career instability can bring. These are the things that even a piping hot bowl of beef stew cannot cure.

Epilogue: After  5 weeks of living in Los Angeles, I did the impossible. I landed a job with a major film studio and worked there for nearly five years. Then, I left California to move back to New Mexico right before the markets crashed in 2008...but, that is another story.





Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bougie Girl In The Kitchen: Lunch Time Comfort Soup



I recall the first semester of my senior year in college as being a very impoverished time for me.

I lived alone in an off-campus efficiency and working five days a week at a nearby restaurant.

Gone are the days of relying on the somewhat dubious food in the dorm cafeteria and dining out in restaurants is also not an option.

I can either pack a lunch and eat on campus or dine at home. I preferred to eat in the modest comfort of my tiny kitchenette.

One of the supermarkets is selling chicken noodle soup for 50 cents a can. I place ten cans in my cart and head off in search of white rice. At the register, my pauper’s ingredients only cost around eight dollars. This will feed me lunch for at least ten days.

The following day, I am in my kitchen heating up both the chicken noodle soup and the rice. I cook the chicken noodle soup on a low flame and sprinkle pepper over it. Then, I turn my attention to the small pan of  rice. I have to be careful not to overcook it.

Fifteen minutes later, I am seated at kitchen table with a book in one hand and a soup spoon in the other.

Lunch Time Comfort Soup
Please note that I have altered the ingredients of this recipe for the 21st Century.
I am substituting organic brown rice for the white rice. I am also using a clear chicken broth instead of a chicken noodle soup

Ingredients
1 can of clear chicken broth
1/2 cup of organic brown rice
1/8 cup of chopped and sauteed shallots (This can be done ahead of time)
1 table spoon of black pepper
1/8 cup of chopped and sauteed mushrooms (This can be done ahead of time)

Cook the rice, per the instructions on the bag.
In a separate pan, cook the broth, per the instructions on the box.
Stir in the rice, shallots and mushrooms  into the broth.
Cook over a low flame for ten minutes and then serve.



Monday, March 28, 2011

Bougie Girl In The Kitchen: There’s More to Pasta Than Just Spaghetti



I am sitting at a rickety table in the kitchen surrounded by my rambunctious housemates. We are swapping tales of our past teenage stupidity. I am eating my usual meal of spaghetti and red sauce. One of my housemates is a short-order cook and he stops mid-story and mentions that there are other pastas besides spaghetti.

I am mortified that he is calling me out about my daily pasta meal.

A few days later, while grocery shopping I head down the pasta aisle. Instinctively, I reach for the spaghetti and then recall my housemate’s admonishment from the previous evening.

I opt to look around at my other pasta choices.  Pasta shells are 70 cents less than my regular spaghetti fare and you get a lot more. Buying the pasta shells means that I can buy a 2 liter bottle of brand name soda instead of the generic kind.

Next, I head down the frozen food aisle and grab a small bag of house brand mixed vegetables.

I find a small bag of already shredded Swiss cheese which happens to be on sale. Then, I go to the produce aisle to review my dessert options. I  grab a couple of oranges and head to the checkout.

Later that evening, I take extra care to prepare my three course meal.

Pasta shells sautéed in red sauce with mixed veggies sprinkled with shredded Swiss cheese. Apple wedges are served for desert and I wash it down with brand name diet soda.

My housemates compliment me on my meal makin’ ingenuity.

I smile because I know that this is the turning point in my journey in eating well on a tight budget.










Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bougie Girl In The Kitchen: Trussed Up Breaded Chicken Poppers


 
Today, I was craving breaded chicken poppers.

Generally, I dip them into BBQ sauce, however this time I went a different route. I decided instead to sprinkle the breaded chicken poppers with ground ginger, lemon juice, and honey.

I placed the chicken poppers on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and baked them per the directions on the bag.

The result was delicious!

The chicken poppers contained the right amount of sweet and tart flavoring without overwhelming the chicken.

These trussed up chicken poppers will make a great addition to a salad or as party appetizers.



From a Man's Point-of-View ACT I, SCENE I




SCENE I


SETTING
We are on the set of a television talk show.                    

AT RISE: 
WILLA is interviewing MANNY about relationships from a man’s point-of-view.                      

(WILLA and MANNY, are seated in two armchairs facing one another.)

WILLA
Thanks again for agreeing to be interviewed.

MANNY
It’s the least I could do. This is an important topic that we men have been silent about for too long. (She nods in agreement.) Besides, you’re kind of a hottie in a smart broad way.

WILLA
Okay, let’s just  get started.
MANNY
Sure. Ask me anything.
WILLA
Describe for me the ideal killing-time girlfriend.

MANNY
Well, every guy has different preferences when it comes to this. But, for me personally, I need to know that she isn’t going anywhere.

WILLA
So, your ideal killing time girlfriend is a homebody?

MANNY
Yes and no. I mean the main thing is that I don’t have to talk to her on a regular basis. I like knowing that I can go a couple of weeks without talking  to her and she will be sitting by the phone waiting for my call.

WILLA
Why even have a girlfriend? Why not just get an after bar girl?

MANNY
Cuz, I’m not in my twenties anymore and my family is always bugging me about settling down with one person. At least this way, I can get my basic needs met and my family leaves me alone.

WILLA
Basically, having a killing time girlfriend translates into “booty and a hot meal”.

MANNY
Something like that. I mean look, I never promise these women anything. They know the deal from the beginning. I don’t want anything serious. It’s not my fault if they get the wrong idea.
WILLA
But, you must realize that by dating these women longer than a year that they are going to start expecting a stronger commitment from you.

MANNY
You would be surprised by what killing-time girlfriends will put up with. Anyway, it’s rare that I stay with them longer than year for that exact reason.  Look, I’m not a heartless guy or anything.

WILLA
How do you decide which friends and relatives  will meet the killing-time girlfriend?
MANNY
Usually, I introduce her to a couple of acquaintances and  maybe a distant cousin or two. But, I make sure that these meetings center around watching a sporting event at a bar.  Major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas are generally out. Although, Columbus Day is a good holiday to  bring around your killing-time girlfriend. Less pressure.

WILLA
Do these killing-time girlfriends ever complain or threaten to leave?

MANNY
All of the time. But they rarely leave. If they do, then the usually come back after a week or two. They start thinking about all of the time that they have invested  in the relationship and they get  nervous that you will replace them with someone more acquiescent.

WILLA
Is that a legitimate concern on their part?

MANNY
Yeah, that’s the beauty of killing-time girlfriends.  You can throw a rock and hit a woman so desperate for a man that she will put up with crap just to show the world that she has a boyfriend.

WILLA
What type of woman will you not “kill time” with?

MANNY
Uh, don’t take this the wrong way. But, I couldn’t kill time with someone like you.
WILLA
Why not?
MANNY
Well, for one thing someone like you is not going to put up with it for very long. Also, you’re really classy. I mean, if I didn’t call you for a week there would already be ten guys lined up to take you out.

WILLA
You could  always go back out there and find another woman else to kill time with-
MANNY
No, because once I started dating a classy lady like yourself I could not go back to killing time.

WILLA
Explain the difference between hookuhs and hookers.

MANNY
This topic is very close to my heart.


WILLA
I am sure that it is. What is the definition of a hookuh?


MANNY
A hookuh is someone that everyone knows, but you don't necessarily want people to know that you know.

WILLA
So, she is just there for convenience?

MANNY
Pretty much. When things start getting complicated or she starts getting to attached--

WILLA
You dump the hookuh and replace her with another one.

MANNY
Yep.
WILLA
Do you ever feel guilty about the way you treat these alleged hookuhs?
MANNY
No. I mean the set themselves up for this treatment. They don't have to take my calls.

WILLA
But they do.
MANNY
Yeah.
WILLA
Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps theses hookuhs are taking your calls because, they are hoping that their status will be upgraded to full-fledged girlfriend?

MANNY
 (shrugging)
Yeah, but these are not the type of women that you take out in public.
WILLA
Then, why get involved with them in the first place? Why not find someone more "suitable"?

MANNY
(Shrugs)
Cuz, you're not always looking for someone "suitable".

WILLA
 Do you ever take your hookuhs out on dates?

MANNY
Dates?

WILLA
Do you ever take these women out to dinner or even a movie?

MANNY
Uh, no. (pause) Well, maybe sometimes you pick up take out or rent a movie. But even that is stretching it.

WILLA
Okay, let's talk about hookers.

MANNY
Sure. Well, hookers are more like chicks that you have on the side. But, for whatever reason you can't or don't want to date them long-term.
WILLA
Do you take hookers out on dates?

MANNY
Generally, no. I mean you might take her to the movies somewhere far out of town, but mostly you hang out at her house and pick up take out. I always advise guys to pay in cash at all times.

WILLA
What is the etiquette when you are in public with your hooker?

MANNY
You never hold her hand in public. In fact all PDA is strictly prohibited. It might give her ideas that you guys actually have a relationship or something.

WILLA
Which would be a bad thing?

MANNY
Hell yeah!
WILLA
Are  there term limits when it comes to hookuhs and hookers?

MANNY
Yeah. Everything has a shelf life.

WILLA
So why even bother having a hookuh or a hooker? Why not just find a woman that you are not ashamed to be seen in public with?

MANNY
Cuz, you just want to have fun and not worry about where a relationship’s going.

WILLA
Can a hookuh or hooker ever be upgraded to a more permanent companion?

MANNY
Permanency is definitely out of the question in regards to the hookuh. However, the hooker if she's cute enough could possibly be promoted to a killing-time girlfriend. But, I definitely would not marry a hookuh or a hooker.

WILLA
Interesting. What advice do you have for a hookuh or a hooker who wants to settle down?

MANNY
Hmm. In the case of a hookuh. She is going to have to stop taking all after bar calls. In fact, she may need to take an extended vow of celibacy. So that she can get counseling or something. And under no circumstances should she try to reconnect with her former midnight callers. It's all about the clean slate. It's trickier for hookers because on the surface they can fool themselves into thinking that they are bona fide girlfriends. But, in reality they are just satisfying a guy's temporary needs for affection and light companionship.
WILLA
What are your thoughts on women actin’ a fool in public?

MANNY
Some of your sisters out there  really know how to spoil an event by creating a hostile environment.
WILLA
Have you ever been out with a significant other when she chose to “act a fool”?
MANNY
Yeah and a word of advice to the ladies do not  ever purposely set out to embarrass your man. Cuz, we will only take that crap for so long before  heading towards the nearest exit.

WILLA
Care to share a couple of examples of women actin’ a fool a public?
MANNY
Yeah, one of my ex-girlfriend’s had the sweetest disposition until we were out in public and then she would  start nagging me about  how I needed to make more money or about how I needed to be more romantic. Look, I’m not perfect and  it wasn’t as though her criticisms went without merit, but she only brought these things up when we were  around other people. This went on for about six months until I dumped her…in public. 
 

WILLA
Wow, you basically showed her no mercy.

MANNY
Please, I gave her six months to get her act together and the longer I stayed the more she tried to further emasculate me. Another ex of mine, she liked to play the woe is me game I am so fat. Which consisted of her getting upset whenever there was a better looking woman in the room. Which truth be told was often. I mean this chick wasn’t unattractive per se but she always needed me to reassure her that she was attractive. Towards the end even my pep talks were not enough. She started having tantrums  and actin’ really catty towards other women in public.

WILLA
Now, in your last statement you mentioned  female cattiness. What are your thoughts on it?
MANNY
Bottom-line is that cattiness in women is a mucho unattractive. I mean why tear down another woman cuz she’s thinner or has better clothes. Hop on the treadmill, get a personal shopper, and get over it.

WILLA
Have you ever had a woman try to make you jealous in public?

MANNY
Yeah and it backfired on her

WILLA
What happened?

MANNY
We were on our way to this party and we were fighting about something really ridiculous which was typical with this chick. She always had to have some drama going. Anyway, we get to the party and she immediately makes a beeline for her ex-boyfriend. Which kind of bugged me at first but then I saw a  couple chicks at the party cuter than my girlfriend and I spent most of the night chatting them up. After my girlfriend noticed that  I was beating her at her own game she had a tantrum and insisted on going home. She never tried that again.

WILLA
I’ll bet. Any advice for  a woman out with her man whom may be tempted to act a fool in public?

MANNY
Yeah, think really carefully before you decide to act a fool in public with your man. Cuz, you will find yourself alone.

WILLA
Please explain to our viewers whom maybe unfamiliar with the term just exactly what cock-blocking is.

MANNY
Sure. The reason why men cock block is cuz we can.

WILLA
Surely, there is more to it than that.

MANNY
Well, okay maybe there is a little more to than that. Let’s say that I have met a great girl. I mean a top of the line Filly. She’s hot, educated and classy. Okay, maybe I am not quite ready to settle down. But, when I am , she’s the one that I’ll be calling. Now, I could introduce to one of my buddies whose looking to settle down. But, if I do that then it’s all over cuz there’s an excellent chance that  he will steal away for good. Now, what to do? Well, the answer is to stake a claim on her myself.

WILLA
This is where cock-blocking comes in?

MANNY
Exactly. Now, after I stake my claim on her. My buddy has two choices he can ignore my claim and make a play for her anyway  and risk damaging our friendship. His other option is to cross her off the list permanently. Which means outside a friendly hello she is completely off-limits to him.

WILLA
So let me get this straight. You meet Ms. Wonderful. You aren’t ready for her and instead of letting your friend have a chance with her. You stake a permanent claim on her.

MANNY
Yeah.
WILLA
But what if you ultimately decide that you will never be ready to settle down? Where does that leave the Filly?

MANNY
Look, she is free to date other people--. Just not my buddy.


WILLA
Wow, that’s kind of  lame.


MANNY
Please women cock block all of the time. I mean I can’t tell you how many times I have asked out a Filly only to have her turn me down cuz her homely  friend has a crush on me. Like I should be punished cuz some  homely chick decides to stake her claim on me. Never mind that I would never take her out in a million years.
WILLA
It sounds like a similar deal that you had going on with your buddy.
MANNY
Uh, no. Cuz, let’s say that my buddy gives into temptation and goes after the Filly which I have already staked a claim on. They end up getting into a relationship. Well, sure I’ll be mad for awhile, but I wouldn’t let it bust up our friendship. But with women it’s different.

WILLA
How so?
MANNY
Let’s say that  the Filly started dating a guy that the homely loser girl staked her claim on. Well, homely loser girl is going to call everyone in  her social circle and talk a lot of crap on the Filly. Which is ridiculous since there was no way that the guy was ever gonna holla at homely loser girl. Yet, everyone in the social circle is going to end up taking sides over it and a few friendships are going to end.
WILLA
That’s kind of dramatic.
MANNY
But, an accurate assessment nonetheless.

WILLA
So how can we prevent cock-blocking?

MANNY
There is no sure-fire way  prevent cock-blocking.  It’s always gonna happen. 
WILLA
Well, that’s encouraging.
MANNY
It is what is.








Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bougie Girl In The Kitchen: Quick Marinade




 

I enjoy preparing a marinade as much as the next gal.

However, sometimes things come up and well, I do not always have time to prepare a marinade the night before.

Good thing, I have mastered the art of the quick marinade!

Simplicity is the key factor in crafting an effective quick marinade. Generally, I use balsamic vinegar, lime juice (or any type of citrus juice), black pepper, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil in my quick marinade.  After washing the meat (these ingredients also work well with poultry), I place it in a bowl filled with the quick marinade.

Ten minutes later, I place the meat into the pan. I slow cook it on a low heat for an hour.

The  ingredients in the quick marinade fill the meat with flavor without overpowering it.













Friday, March 25, 2011

Intelligentsia


 

He walks into the room with an air of practiced pretension. After air kissing with the hostess, he slowly strolls towards the buffet table. He is not being coy. He is waiting for his entourage to acknowledge his arrival. 

He is clad in the standard intelligentsia garb of black turtleneck with matching cargo pants and combat boots. He has a satchel slung over his shoulder. 

The top of a water bottle peeks out from one of the compartments. His dark hair is swept back in a lacquered back ponytail. I elbow  one of my friends and discreetly motion towards Ponytail Man. We exchange  bemused glances between ourselves.

“Nice bag,” my friend quips. 

“It’s a satchel,” I corrected, trying to prevent my lips from twitching with full-blown laughter. 

As if sensing we were discussing him, Ponytail Man whirls around in our direction. We attempt to look absorbed in conversation, but it did notwork. He heads in our direction.

Thankfully, one of his minions came out from nowhere and began engaging him in a serious fawn session. We breathed a sigh of relief and hightail it to the other room. 

Ponytail Man is the enemy. A self-proclaimed member of the Intelligentsia, he has an opinion about every work of art, literature, film and play ever produced. Usually, if the work is commercially popular, then he hates it. 

Baring his teeth in a feral fashion, the thick wavy ponytail sways with indignation, as he rants about the “pedestrian tastes” of mainstream culture.

The first few times his anti-pop culture tirades are moderately entertaining and somewhat educational. Then, I begin noticing that his repertoire is severely limited to three specific tirades: the fine arts, gourmet food, and the evil of corporations.

Even the most confirmed counter-culturalist could tire of these rants eventually. Alas, Ponytail Main still has lackeys and minions lapping up his every utterance.  

How does one enter into the realm of the Intelligentsia?

Members of the Intelligentsia strive to make the right impression with clothes that are classically stylish, but with an edge.

Ladies,  wear lace-up boots, instead of wearing wedge heels with a sundress.

Gentlemen, wear a real utility belt with the black turtleneck and cargo pants ensemble. Hair can be slicked back into a moussed ponytail or worn wild and woolly. 

It is really a matter of preference.

Next, limit your conversation repertoire to obscure artists, writers, and musicians etc. whom are being overlooked in favor of the evil commercial types of people. Keep your voice dripping with sarcasm and slightly condescending,  as you explain to the simple folks the significance of your random ranting. 

Also, be sure to have a Head Minion around at all times to fetch refreshments and comb the vicinity for possible romantic muses or captive audience members.
Your satchel should contain notebooks and other obscure materials, including a CD of the B-sides of a one hit wonder band. 

Do not forget to acquire the merry band of minions, whom admire you for not selling out.






Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bougie Girl In The Kitchen: Leftover Bun Bruschetta


 

Generally, bratwurst comes six to a package and there are eight hot dog buns in a bag.

This leaves me with two extra hot dog buns.

What to do?

A. Throw them away.
B. Buy more bratwurst.
C. Create a low-cost and yummy version of bruschetta.

I think I will go with Option C.


Here’s what you’ll need.

2 hot dog buns
4 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil.
4 tbsps of diced tomatoes
2 garlic chopped garlic gloves
2 slices of Swiss Cheese

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees for five minutes.
Tear the hot dog buns in half along the perforated edge.

Cut the slices of Swiss Cheese in half.

Brush the olive oil on the top of each half.

Place the garlic and the Swiss cheese on each half..

Cook for 5 to 7 minutes.

Let cool and place the tomatoes on top of each of the halves of the hot dog buns.




Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Playin’ at a Whole ’Notha Level...


 

Everything I needed to learn about taking my game to another level I learned on the Intermediate football field of McCarter Elementary School. 

In 4th grade, another female classmate and I integrated the boys only tackle football game. 

Those boys were not happy about letting us play.  They made their displeasure known by launching passes at our heads and tackling us with the intent to cause bodily harm. 

I remember one day being tackled so hard that the wind was knocked out of me and I could not stand up. 

My fellow football suffragette came over to where I was and whispered down.

"Get up and don't cry. Otherwise, they won't let us play next recess."

She pulled me up onto my feet. 

A few moments later, I was playing again. 

That's what happens when you play with the big boys. You have to bring your game up.

No tears. No whining.