Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
My Grandma (Grammy) will be quick to tell you, “I’m Italian and I’m from Pittsburgh.” Both statements are a stretch. She has never lived in Italy nor Pittsburgh. She lives in a small town outside of the city, and both of her parents are Italian.
Nevertheless, this year my family celebrated the Feast of the Seven Fish. In the Catholic tradition, Christmas Eve is a time of fasting, so eating meat is out. I find it a little contradictory to have a feast on a day of fast, but I‘m not one to turn down a feast. If you can’t eat pigs or cows or chickens, you might as well eat as many types of fish as possible.
Like Grammy, the Feast of the Seven Fish presents itself as 100% Italian. A quick Google search revealed that the origins of the Feast are debatable. It is widely celebrated in Pittsburgh and other areas with large Italian immigrant populations. Walking into Dellalo (an Italian grocery store) on Christmas Eve will quickly clue you to the number of Italian Americans who practice the tradition. On December 24th attendants direct traffic outside, and after a few minutes inside you will feel like you are in an episode of Everyday Italian with Giada DeLaurentiis on Food Network. Store workers shout “Fresh baked bread great for bru-sket-a!” “Sale on Par-me-san-a!” . Even my Grammy asked where to find the “Cal-i-mar” (which was sold out by the way, sold out of squid…interesting). Apparently in the walls of the store you are required to use the Italian pronunciations. But do Italians really celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fish?
Italians (the ones from Italy, not the American ones) usually eat fish on Christmas Eve since the Catholic church forbids eating meat on that day, but Seven Fish is much more strongly rooted in the United States then in Italy. I tried to tell this to my Grammy but she wouldn’t hear any of it. Oh well, I don’t care where it came from, because eating seafood, drinking wine, and reuniting with family doesn’t need to be authentically Italian to be enjoyed. I asked Grammy what she remembered about Seven Fish dinners when she was a kid, and she said it was “even better than Christmas”. I might have to agree.
All of us want to have a cultural identity. Many Americans look to where their ancestors came from- Italy, Ireland, China, wherever. Sure, we might carry on some traditions that have roots in these cultures, but I’m no more Italian than the Pope is American. And what about those of us who are “mutts”? I’m a quarter Italian and a quarter Ukrainian on my Mom’s side, and my Dad’s side is such a mix there’s really no telling. Does this doom me to not having any cool traditions? No way!
Being an American is kind of like when you live in New York City all your life and never go in the Empire State Building. It’s there, but you don’t go in and appreciate it because its ALWAYS there and you start to take it for granted. Think of all the things that Americans do but other countries don’t: Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, the Wienermobile….just to name a few. My fellow Americans, if you find yourself looking for a cultural identity, no need to cling to a motherland you have little association with when you live in arguably the greatest country in the world. Whether you are Italian-American, Mexican-American or Di’Jabuti-American, don’t forget to appreciate the “American” part!
I went to pick up my Grandparents so I didn't get to do much cooking, I didn't even have a chance to get my coat off before I was handed a plate full of fish and a glass of wine.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I love my blog. YES it is made from a really lame template and NO I’m not very good at posting regularly, I never get any comments, and its not going to be made into a movie anytime soon, but lots of positive things come out of it.
- Helps me move past two of my biggest blog fears- being a bad writer and no one caring about what I have to say. I may not have perfect grammar, but I have a fun way of saying things, and I care what I have to say… and so does my mom, my boyfriend….and, well… I think that’s about the only people who read it. Anyone else out there? PLEASE COMMENT!!
- Gives me something constructive to do while being unemployed. Cooking and writing fills my time. Developing my writing skills is great for my future career in Marketing/PR, and developing my cooking skills will make for some very happy bellies.
- Inspires me to do bigger, better blogs! What’s next? My own domain name? A blog without a template? I’m seriously considering a Cook-Through Blog a la my new favorite movie Julie and Julia.
Keep checking back to see what’s cooking next…
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
1. Break eggs in a saucepan and add butter. Do not whisk the eggs or season them at this point. Crack into the pan? So my usual method of "whisk the crap out of them until frothy" is not coming into play here....I'm skeptical already.
2. Turn on the flame and whisk the eggs in the pan using the spatula. Whisk the eggs in the pan? With a spatula? Sad I can't use my power tools (hand blender), but don't you whisk with a whisk? Not a spatula? I'll try the spatula first but I have the whisk on standby.
3. Keep stirring the egg mixture, and as soon as it starts to thicken a little, get it off the heat and continue stirring. That's interesting, what will this accomplish? Other than making my arm tired?
4. Alternate between stirring the eggs while they are on and off the heat, repeat a few times (about 3-4) until the scrambled eggs are of the right consistency (creamy and fluffy). Wow. I get it now, by controlling the heat this way, you ensure that you don't overcook the eggs (I HATE overcooked eggs). Also, they aren't as "chunky" as normal scrambled eggs. They are smooth, yet fluffy.
5. Take the eggs off the heat, mix in crème fraîche to cool it down, season with salt and pepper and fold in some chopped chives. Oh wow, these look really good, the dollop of creme fraiche really helps. These are delicious!! Not sure if they are better than mine, but definitely different! Oh, I forgot to season! Too bad I already scarffed them down :)
Friday, November 27, 2009
- 2 eggs
- dash of milk
- salt and fresh cracked pepper
- Crack eggs into medium sized bowl.
- Add a dash of milk.
- *Important* Whisk eggs until nice and frothy. Use an actual whisk, not a fork! Even better, use a hand held blender. Sounds a little over the top I know, but the eggs come out super fluffy.
- *also important* Cook until the eggs are no longer runny but still "shiny". I can't stand over cooked scrambled eggs, and I think most people don't realized that they overcook them.
- Plate and sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Enjoy!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Grads cherish memories of their college days. A few of my favorites: football games, sleeping late, Frisbee on the quad, campus food. Yep, that’s right, campus food makes my list. When I entered James Madison University in 2004 the Princeton Review ranked them at #18 on their Best Campus Food list. A few of JMU students' favorite eats: Thanksgiving dinner anytime at Cranberry Farms in the Festival food court, spinach and artichoke dip at the on-campus sit down restaurant Madison Grill, and peanut butter pie at cafeteria style D-Hall.
I went back to JMU recently, and they have since climbed to #4 on the Best Food list thanks to their new dining hall, referred to by students as E-Hall. This isn’t your middle school lunch line. It’s a completely green facility with fancy black square plates and fresh made pita bread. Grad school anyone?
I’m not obsessed with trying weird things but apparently there’s a large group of Foodies who feel the stranger, the better. Fans of Travel Channel shows Bizarre Foods and Anthony Bordain’s No Reservations are disappointed if an episode doesn’t include the consumption of a few testicles. It’s not just the older chefs that are in on the weird food. I discovered an interesting Blog called Weird Meat. Blogger Michael was a vegetarian, oddly enough, but his curiosity about why cultures eat what they do has made him put aside his all-veggie habits. If you are traveling to a new country and are looking for some weird eats, his blog will serve as an awesome guide.
Cooking from scratch is not always the most convenient, but for Foodies, better taste can be worth the effort. Here are a few foods that take only a little extra effort to make from scratch but provide a big pay off in taste. Plus, isn’t it nice controlling the quality of your ingredients and knowing exactly what goes into your food?
Salad Dressing- You’d be surprised how many types of salad dressing you can whip up with staples in your kitchen. Don’t have any Thousand Island? Just mix some ketchup, mayo, and relish, viola! That way, you can mix up just enough for your salad or reuben sandwiches and not have a ton of extra going to waste in the fridge.
Croutons- Sticking with the salad theme, making croutons is easy and has several advantages: 1. Great use of day old bread 2. Having fresh, homemade, delicious croutons on hand always encourages me to eat more salad. 3. They taste way better than boxed croutons.
Refried Beans- I know you probably think I’m nuts for suggesting such a thing. Yes, eating refried beans is just as easy as opening a can, but what if I told you 5-10 minutes of extra work would give you the most flavorful, perfectly seasoned refried beans you’ve ever had? You’re a Foodie, of course you would try it! Check out the recipe and remember,you can customize the amount of heat and spice to your own taste. The following recipes uses green chiles, but I like mine with sauteed garlic and jalapenos. Add these beans to burritos, nachos, or serve them in a bowl as a dip.
What foods do you think are worth making from scratch?