» Archive for March, 2009

Recession drives people back to their basest behavior

Saturday, March 21st, 2009 by kara

So my wonderful friend Dannette and I are of “a particular size” which we don’t want to maintain.  This size also makes it difficult for us to find clothes.  So we usually buy ONE pair of pants in this size which fit and flatter us, and insist that we’re going to lose all the excess weight, and hold ourselves hostage to this ideal by not buying any more clothes until we reach the desired size.

Unfortunately, the recession is hitting everyone hard now, and we’re all afraid to buy anything at all, which of course is perpetuating the damned recession…which would seem to be irrelevant to this topic, BUT IT’S NOT.  Stay with me for a moment.

Dannette lives in a very nice apartment building in Tucson, AZ, which boasts its own coin-operated laundry room.  She and I both are very conscientious about keeping track of our time in the washers and dryers when we use a communal laundry room, and although we will leave our laundry there while the cycles complete, we’re very prompt about returning at the end of the cycle to collect our laundry and free up the machine for the next user.

She did that last week, and was shocked and ticked off to find that two of her loads of laundry had been rifled through and plundered–someone had stolen her new capri pants and a blanket belonging to her dog, Zoe.  She said it had to have been someone intent on larceny because the pants and blanket were in two separate dryers.

“I can’t believe that someone actually stole my pants!”  she exclaimed.  “That’s so awful!  Honestly, if I see someone around the complex wearing, I think I’m going to rip them off of them right where they’re standing!”

The worst part of this is that the capris were in stock in many stores just a few weeks ago–and now all the stores are out of them in Dannette’s size.

“I’ve been to five stores looking for these pants, and how pissed am I that I have to buy another pair, anyway?!  But I can’t even FIND another pair of them anywhere!”

And how creepy is it that someone actually had enough GUTS to stand there in front of the dryers occupied by someone else’s laundry and sort through the contents to find something they wanted?  It’s not like a resale shop–you’re invading someone else’s privacy when you go through their laundry like that.  Just…creepy.  And weird.  I can only imagine that this sort of behavior is due to the recession–instead of going shoplifting in a store, you hang out in the laundryroom and pilfer someone else’s clothes?  Maybe you’re saving gas money by stealing close to home??

I made risotto! And it was GOOD! I ROCK!

Saturday, March 7th, 2009 by kara

Rick and I like to watch Chef Gordon Ramsay abuse his supplicants on Hell’s Kitchen, and one of the staple dishes on that show seems to be risotto, which many of the contestants seem to have problems preparing. Apparently if you can’t cook risotto by the time you get to compete on Hell’s Kitchen, you should just go back home and go to bed permanently.

Rick insists that I’m a fabulous cook and that I should open a restaurant.  One problem with that idea is that I’m a huge lazyass, and restauranting takes a heckuva lotta energy.  Other than that, I also tend to doubt my own capabilities.  Take risotto, for instance:  I’ve never made it and was uncertain if I could prepare it successfully.

Since I’m working until 9 p.m. tonight, I decided to fix a big lunch for the Pumpkin and myself.  I need hot food at least once a day, otherwise I feel malnourished and deprived.  Even if I’m doing nothing more than munching on appetizers all day long (i.e., at a Super Bowl party or other festive gathering), I NEED at least one of those appetizers to be a hot dish.   A hot meal for lunch would be very satisfying, so I marinated some boneless pork chops in a mesquite-lime marinade (thank you, SuperTarget!), sliced some Roma tomatoes–and then I got daring and decided to fix risotto.

I dragged out my trusty “Joy of Cooking” and propped that beast open on the counter, set about sautéing onion and parsley in olive oil and butter, and went from there.  You can look up risotto on your own to see exactly what I did, and in the process I learned a lot about cooking rice gradually in an uncovered pan.

I followed the recipe to the letter (except for the 1/2 cup of white wine at the beginning–we don’t HAVE any white wine, we’re Kool-Aid drinkers, and the current flavor is grape, which I didn’t think would work well with the onion and parsley) and learned that much of cooking risotto is being patient and adding the liquid slowly, waiting for the rice to absorb the stock (bouillon) cup by cup, as you diligently stir.

On the show, Chef Ramsey seems particularly incensed by sticky risotto, which is caused by overcooking.  The exact, correct state of done-ness has a narrow margin of error–take the rice off the heat too soon, and it’s watery and unsatisfying.  Let it simmer too long, and you end up with a glutinous mass that won’t ‘flow’ on the plate. I think the key to getting the risotto to the proper creaminess is to keep in mind that after you simmer the rice in chicken stock (or bouillon, in my house), you’ll be adding grated parmesan cheese to it as a finish, and the parmesan will soak up some of that liquid–so you have to stop simmering a little before you’d ordinarily WANT to do.

I ALMOST overcooked it–I’d gotten it to the point where it seemed perfectly creamy, mebbe just a touch too much so, and removed it from the burner.  Then I remembered the Parmesan, and had a bad couple of seconds while I stirred that in.  Thankfully, the Parmesan had just enough liquid to allow it to be incorporated and melt nicely without binding everything together like wallpaper paste.

Rick and I had a lovely lunch, and I’m feeling pretty pleased with my bad little self.  I can cook!