Monday, September 26, 2011 Enjoying the Garden and its Bounty

For some reason this year most of my herbs didn't make it. I have basil, thank goodness, so I made a fantastic pesto using my rainbow tomatoes from the garden, some toasted almonds and both my green and purple basil. The result was super flavorful spread on a pizza and topped with sauteed mushrooms and sliced baby eggplants.

I'm very happy with my rainbow cherry tomato plants. I started them from seed in May right in my bedroom and now they're over 6 feet tall. I have them tied up to the plastic netting the squirrels forced me to install, so I sometimes have to thread the tomato blossoms back towards me or the tomatoes will develop beyond my reach. I can just see me with my husband down in the parking lot trying to catch tiny tomatoes as they ripen. I can't say we could LIVE on the amount of tomatoes I've grown, but we've topped many a hot dog with tomato and basil from the garden. And that is quite tasty!

The peppers are growing like wildfire now. The first few had blossom end rot, but I added some Epsom salt to the soil and it seemed to do the trick. Right now I have over a dozen out there on my four plants that I also started from seed in May.

I'm already planning next years garden. I'm getting rid of most of the buckets and I'm going to try growing in reusable shopping bags. I'm hoping that'll free up some room out there for seating. It's pretty tight out there now with all the plants and the grill and that iron lamb my neighbor gave me... Don't ask.

How's your garden doing?


Thursday, September 22, 2011 Please Don't Call Me A Foodie!

OMG! Someone called me a foodie on Facebook today and I almost lost my shit. It was one of those times when you start to type a response and then you delete it and try again, only to delete it and try again and so forth.

From the Urban Dictionary "Foodie - A douchebag who likes food."

Wikipedia uses less colorful language, but right off the bat I can see the term doesn't apply to me. Food and drink? I don't drink. I drink Diet Sprite, that's it. Wine, beer, cocktails - I have zero interest in any of it. And THAT is a big part of dining out - which is also a big part of being a foodie.

I don't eat out that much. You will never find me waiting in line for the new hip burger joint, or for a celebrity chef, or for pretty much anything foodies would line up for. I don't play that way. I ain't a sheep. And I'm not insulting people who are sheep...well, yes I am.

If everyone were jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge...?

This whole Headbanging Hostess thing is about so much more than food. It goes way beyond that. It's about relationships, friends, family, community, sharing, creating, exploring, learning, making mistakes, making connections and making something new - something that only I can make.

So, please, don't lump me in with everybody else - I deserve better.


Saturday, September 17, 2011 Food Safety at Home

By now you've probably heard people are dying from cantaloupe. I feel just awful for the poor farmers who have been growing cantaloupes for generations. And, of course, I feel bad for those sickened and the families of those who've died. But one must wonder if a little common sense scrubbing would have prevented the illness from occurring. To be honest, I don't know - I'm just asking the question. In my sanitation class we learned about these things, but the average American probably has little knowledge of food safety. Way to go school system - who else can you blame?

But let's not play the blame game for now - let's get some knowledge into your head.

Cantaloupe is a TCS food - Time and Temperature Controlled for Safety. Click the link for the list and information.

Simply put the temperature danger zone is 40-140 (I know the link says 41-135, but 40-140 is easy to remember). TCS food should not be in that zone for more than 4 hours over the course if its life - and I'm gonna cut that number in half and declare two hours is enough.

This means you don't cut up lettuce and tomatoes for your grill party and let them sit out until your guests arrive. Same goes for melon - slice it up, cover it with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge until you're going to serve it. This may mean preparing smaller plates of it so you can refresh the supply - NEVER mix the old with the new because cross-contamination can occur.

ALWAYS wash the outside of the melon before you cut it. As it is produce should be washed with water that is slightly warmer than the produce itself (this from the Federal Government) but melons are grown on the ground, so get that sponge out and scrub that baby with hot soapy water. You don't want to contaminate the flesh with the knife - seeing as how it just sliced through the rind. Get it?

Wash everything, of course. Who knows what bird flew overhead and pooped on your produce, better to be safe than sorry.

I'll leave you with one more bit of information - I don't want you to overload - and I promise to continue on this topic. I don't want any of my peeps dying from food poisoning.

Garlic is grown in the ground, where all sorts of pathogens like to live, like botulism - never take garlic and throw it in a bottle with some oil and give it out as presents. Commercial garlic oil is treated with an enzyme that prevents the bacteria from growing - homemade obviously is not. Don't risk it. If you want to do it for yourself that may be okay, but use it within a week and keep it in the fridge. And, to be honest, I may not even risk the week. Food poisoning is serious business - go with the commercially bottled oil.

Stay tuned for more. If you have any specific questions leave me a comment and I will get you an answer!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011 It's That Time of Year Again (Again)

I'm sure I've used that title before, but who cares? The bottom line is it's time to get your ass to the Farmers Market. Berries in every color, beets, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes (the tomatoes in the picture are a product of my garden, I'm so proud), apples, peaches, plums, get my drift.

Darien Farmers Market is 11-6 on Wednesdays in the Mechanic Street parking lot behind the firehouse on the Post Road. That's my usual market.

High Ridge Shopping Center has a Farmers Market on both Wednesdays and Sundays 10-4. I hadn't been there yet this season until today, they have a handful of vendors but I dislike the parking lot location. Now that Borders is gone maybe they can move to market to their lot. I know I'm a bit of a worry wart when it comes to customer safety, but as it is inches and luck are the only things seperating the moving vehicles from the people shopping. I'm just one day I'll be able to link back to this and say "I told you so!"

The Stamford Museum & Nature Center has a Farmers Market from 10-2 on Fridays. I have never been but I've heard good things. Admission to the market is free, but it's 10 bucks if you want to visit the nature center. A little steep if you ask me, but it's a very nice place with a farm and trails for hiking. My husband and I went with a picnic lunch recently and really enjoyed it. If you should happen to take a city bus up there you get into the place for free - not that I'm advocating parking at the A&P and hopping a ride for the last few blocks. But, like I said, admission to the market is free. And now that I've throughly confused you...

I have chicken marinating in Amaretto in the fridge. I'm working on a food piece for next month's Alternative Control. Almond Joy Chicken, in honor of Halloween... we'll see how it turns out.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011 Originality at an All Time Low

This isn't really about food, I suppose it could be, but it's more about music. And not the crap you hear on the radio - if I hear one more driving beat I'm gonna drive off a cliff. I'm talking about leaving the house to see a band in the neighborhood.

Over the weekend we did that twice, believe it or not. One show we actually left the house at 10PM! WTF? That's my bedtime! But the word on the street indicated the venue was looking to discontinue hosting local original music and was planning to replace it with cover bands.

Don't get me wrong, I love covers. I love it when a band takes an established piece of music and puts their own stamp on it. One day, when I get my act together, I'll start my vanity band MetalLand and I'll sing Sugarland songs to double bass and electric guitar distortion. But these bands simply play the music the same way you hear it on the radio. Like a wedding band. But who the hell leaves the house at 10PM to see a wedding band?

So we all showed up in force to see Pink Missile and Arcane Malevolence (and Sons of Atlas and Impera which I missed because they played before 10PM). I even drank a few bottled waters to add to the till (and I had to jet out of there at the end of the show because there was no way in hell I was going to use the bathroom there). Anyway, long story short, the bands fucking rocked beyond belief and at the end of the day Pink Missile was asked back but Arcane was not - I guess Baldwin made half-a-dozen too many "bad cover band" jokes and ruffled the feathers of the owners. But, you know what, good for Baldwin - I'm all for speaking your mind!

Two days later was a 9/11 show and fundraiser for Tuesday's Children. We went to see Pink Missile, but a scheduling snafu forced us to watch a Jam Band from New Jersey for close to an hour before Pink Missile was able to take the stage. They were very good, very tight, the keyboard player was amazing - and they played some covers, Santana-kinda-stuff and even some originals, but it all sounded alike after a while. It was good, but it's nothing I haven't heard before. After a while it was dreadfully boring. The crowd liked it - a sign of their intelligence I guess, or their unwillingness to try anything new - they've probably been listening to 95.9 the FOX since they graduated from High School 25+ years ago. And I'm sorry if it sounds like I'm insulting them, but after a while all the sameness was insulting to me!

Who the fuck are you as musicians? You're not Carlos Santana - you're white as the driven snow. This music your playing may be technically correct but it's not telling me a damn thing about you, about your experience - I want to hear the world through your eyes, today in 2011, not in some tired old format that was hip when vinyl was king! YOU BORE ME!!!

Thankfully Pink Missile finally took the stage (and all the FOX fans took off on their bikes) and those of us with the capacity to appreciate original thought were left to Bitty-Bop - all the Mr. Dickhead's were gone.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a crying shame.

Here's another - the "Original Thought" page on Facebook only has 73 fans.

The terrorists have won.


Friday, September 9, 2011 Holding Steady at 120

For about two months now I've been on the exercise train. I've gotten better at it, at first I was killing my knees because I wasn't running properly (or jogging, I should say) but I've worked my way up from merely power walking to power walking and running (or jogging, I should say) anywhere from 2-5 miles a day, 4-6 days a week. I've also been doing yoga about once a week thanks to my neighbor who's a yoga instructor at the Y - "She's with me!" she declares as we walk right into the members only club.

Now. Before I started all this exercise I was 120 pounds. And, now that I've been doing all this exercise I weigh...120 pounds.

BUT (there's always a but) I've certainly been building muscle and, since muscle weighs more than fat, I'm guessing I'm on the right track as far as all this fitness is concerned. My calf muscles are mad-crazy developed (for me) they actually touch each other as I sit at the computer - kinda drives me crazy to be honest, but it's a sign that my hard work is working.

I'm seeing all sorts of muscles I haven't seen in a while, or ever. I've got a really funny muscle developing over my knee - I should ask someone about that. And I've gotten my serving muscles back in my arm, probably because I'm power walking and running (or jogging, I should say) with my water bottle in hand. Whatever works!

The best part of this? I'm starting to have happy thoughts - I won't get specific, but the thoughts are a sign to me that my depression is being relieved by the exercise! Meaning, maybe I can stop with the pills soon.

This is good.

I think we'll be joining the Y in the near future and hopefully I'll be able to exercise my way out of depression once and for all. And if I lose some weight in the process good, if not I really don't care. I feel good and I'm looking better everyday!

And, since this is a food blog, I should say I've been eating better - but I'm not really sure I can say that. I've been working at eating more vegetables and whole grains - and I'm no where near perfect on that front. I can and will do better. Maybe one day I'll become the Headbanging Hottie!


Monday, September 5, 2011 Happy Labor Day!

Ah, yes! Time to celebrate the workers! Have a day off! Unless you work in retail, restaurants, toll booths, fire houses...not everyone gets a day off. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is most important to note that not all workers are celebrated on this day, and because I was scarred for life during my time as a server (and behind the counter) I want to take this opportunity to remind you to be kind to ALL who serve you.

Please. Thank you. Have a nice day. All those little phrases you mother taught you (if she was worth her salt) may have fallen out of our daily vocabularies, but it is up to YOU as a consumer to bring these words back into vogue.

Hello. How are you? If someone should greet you with these words while you're standing at a counter and staring at a menu the proper answer is not "Give me..." or "I want..." The person behind the counter is not going to GIVE YOU anything! And maybe they care about what you want, but I bet they'd rather hear "May I please have..."

A little manners goes a long way. Never forget these poor bastards are making minimum wage. And I bet their boss treats them like they're expendable, most of the customers before you were rude and the customers after you will suck just as much. Why not lead by example and treat them with respect?

Always make the effort. You just might make their day!

So Happy Labor Day! Remember who really runs this country - the people who fucking feed it! All the bankers and CEO's would starve to death if it wasn't for the minimum wage workers from farm to friggin' plate - or Styrofoam clam shell. I'm betting the magical day when wages reflect this reality will never come - so let's try to pay them in smiles. At least their quality of life will increase, if not their paychecks. And I'll take happy over rich any day.


Check out this article in the New York Times

Friday, September 2, 2011 Dinner Party Classes in Trumbull and Ridgefield!

Check it out, folks! This October I will be teaching Dinner Party classes in Trumbull and Ridgefield, CT. I'll also be teaching a Ten-Minute Playwriting class in Ridgefield.

The Dinner Party classes will not be a cooking class, it's a planning class. Learn how to create and execute one-of-a-kind menus that your friends will be talking about for years to come. Students will learn how to create a meal around a theme and with the tools they already have in their kitchens. You don't need to be a chef, you just need to have a plan!

And the Ten-Minute Playwriting class will explore the form and students will have the opportunity to write their own plays and share their work with the class.

I'm really looking forward to both classes! I can't wait to share my knowledge of both subjects and I really can't wait to see what the students create! That's what it's all about for me, the creation.

Spread the word and sign up with your friends! I hope to see you in class!!!


Click here for Trumbull Continuing Ed

Click here for Ridgefield Continuing Ed