You see what I did there? I teased you with the promise of foodstuffs and prose, and then I WENT AWAY for days without comment. It made you grow fonder, didn't it?
(You see what I did there? I insulted you. This is my campaign to keep my loyal following. Everyone's a sucker for a good old-fashioned tongue lashing. Don't be nasty. It's Lent.)
The beach house didn't have WiFi, so I was without Internet access, making posting an impossibility. But you've just been sitting there waiting for me, drooling on your keyboard, right?
Grandma, as a newly minted octogenarian, does have some dietary restrictions, so My Task—Saturday afternoon lunch—came with qualifications. The main dish had to stretch to feed 16, go nicely with the orzo salad, be healthy and light, and please some of the pickiest people this side of the Mississippi (no vegetables, fish, or fresh tomatoes).
My go-to solution in such a pickle? The sandwich. It is a universal truth: All God's people (and I) love a sandwich. Cooking Light was a no-brainer for recipes, because that addressed Grandma's cardiac concerns, but I also needed it to be something that would transport and reheat well.
I doubled the recipe, which required 2.5 pounds of pork tenderloin,
There wasn't a lot of fat to begin with, which was nice. I am not the world's most efficient butcher, which means that too much hacking away usually leaves me with half the volume of meat and a kitchen that resembles a crime scene.
I cut each tenderloin in half lengthwise, then sliced into big pieces.
Genuflect now, because you're about to be in the presence of greatness.
Le sigh. A gift from JLB, and maybe the prettiest thing in my kitchen that isn't moi.
This was its virgin voyage, so I filled it up with the stewing ingredients. Cider vinegar,
then brown sugar, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, ground red pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder.
I brought that to a boil, then added the pork and attempted to take a picture without the steam fogging up my camera lens and the vinegar stinging my eyes.
This is what George W. Bush would call MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
That cooks for about an hour, or until you say, "oh shit!" and pull the lid off the pot because you never set a timer and can't remember how long it's been in there. MY directions read, "Simmer 1 hour, or until there are expletives."
I should write a cookbook.
Whilst the pork was stewing and I was immersed in not paying attention to it, I made the white barbecue sauce, which was embarrassingly easy. Light mayo, white vinegar, a king's ransom of coarsely ground fresh pepper, and fresh lemon juice.
I decided to leave the salt out at first, for Gramma dearest, but when I tasted it, it was just ... flat. It tasted like nothing. It was the condiment version of a Bill Maher punchline. There was promise in there, but the delivery was a mess.
Stirring in just a smidge (a pinch, Grandma, I PROMISE) changed everything. Suddenly this white barbecue sauce was Jon Oliver. Cheeky and adorable and suitable for company.
Then the shredding: time-consuming and tedious, but with a satisfying finish.
Yes, I made that plate. I might have been 2 years old. It was some sort of draw-on-a-paper-plate-and-we'll-turn-it-into-a-memory-you-can-eat-off-of situation wherein they transform the thing into melamine. I love them (I have two). They're absolutely indestructible. You can microwave them, throw them ... even use them as a sled if your bum is very, very small (mine is not).
The shredded meat goes into the braising liquid for transport before being served to an adoring audience.
Cousin BeFy asked me for the recipe, so I must have done something right. I used store-bought rolls because I didn't think the baked ones would travel as well. That, and the universe has seen fit to prove to me, once and for all, that I absolutely can not bake (come back tomorrow; I have evidence).
I didn't get a chance to take photos of the final presentation—I was too busy having an inappropriate relationship with MW's camera, which I now covet even more than my neighbor's ass. And he's a 70-year-old guy with a suspicious glare and a penchant for overalls, so that's saying a lot.
OK, yes, I'm stalling. Last Monday I told the Twitterverse that I was completely off my rhythm that week, and the feeling persists.
Plus I just took a break to determine the source of my you-have-an-e-mail ping! and discovered this in my inbox. Apparently chronic loneliness makes you fat and ill. "Lonely people feel a hunger," sayeth the researcher for whom English is apparently a second language. What a shame. And after Cher wrote us all that lovely song, too.
People keep telling me it's Friday the 13th, which is weird because I haven't fallen down once today. Then again, that could be because I haven't been in a sufficiently crowded/humiliating environment as yet.
This week's finds are more functional than usual. Maybe I'm in a hardworking mode. Or maybe two appointments with a pricey plumber have conspired to make me slightly more invested in utility.
I don't even know exactly why I like this. I get the impression that it won't do any better a job at obliterating potatoes than would an average potato masher. But I do. Love is blind.
This is my forum, so I'll be as irrational as I like.
Oh! See here? Nothing pretty about this. Granted, you could probably pull your oven rack out with a fork. Or a potholder. Or a dish towel.
But a) one would not have a tool SPECIFICALLY FOR THIS PURPOSE (which we know I love) and b) one would be inclined to burn oneself. Or so I hear. Also, if you're the potholder is busy with the task of pulling out the oven rack, what are you going to use when you yank the rack too far and the casserole dish goes sliding toward your knees? Hm? That's what I thought.
I have documented my love for Snapware here, but our resident food editor turned me on to these as an alternative.
Same premise, but glass. Apparently she has some cockamamie theory that it's a "bad" "idea" to encourage the microwave to leach plastic toxins into your food. Whatever you say, JDR.
I'm not a smoker, but I collect vintage ashtrays (current count: 1). I especially like this smiley one.
Look at the indentions on the bottom lip for accommodating side-by-side ciggies! Ladies and gents, it's almost Valentine's Day. Give your loved one some pulmonary disease this year.
News flash: I am anal-retentive. So even though I reside in year-round squalor, I still can't bear slicing bread where I just chopped tomatoes, or corralling tumbleweeds of scallions. Which is why I need this.
Think of all the tidiness! And it's bamboo, so ... Earth-friendly! Al Gore, you are welcome.
I really have no defense for my love of this. Or, even more specifically, this.
It's a chicken. It's buttery yellow. I swoon.
Because my weirdness is well-documented, I'm not ashamed to admit that I like this because I've always had a bizarre fascination with the remembrance candles in Catholic churches.
You know the ones—like these. They're just haunting and lovely. And I'm a sucker for anything en masse.
It's dark on the Woodside. There's no sparkly chandelier to break up the expanse of shadow between the sofa lamp and the bar spotlight. (Most-used areas get illumination priority.) But the scale of the space doesn't really accommodate an over-dining-table fixture. I'd love to rig some sort of candle situation out of this.
Yes, I get that lighting candles and then hanging them AGAINST A WALL might be ill-advised considering my propensity for accidental arson. But I love the idea of being able to make the space glow with something that stays tucked out of the way. Not to mention the birdcage concept, which has always been one of my favorite girly obsessions.
One year, for some gift-giving occasion, I summoned up all my cool points and asked for a salad spinner. Two days later, I dropped it in the kitchen, spewing lettuce from baseboard to a-c vent and breaking the spinning apparatus in the process. My salad spinner no longer spins. Aren't you sad for me? You should buy me this.
Bamboo—again, sustainable. And it has a pull string like a child's toy, guaranteeing making it 15% less likely that I will screw it up.
Of late I have been lamenting the state of my dining table/chairs, which basically serve as an airstrip for crap. I don't eat there, I never entertain, and the whole setup is taking up valuable floor space I could be using as a tiny bowling alley. Or for this.
You know it's just begging to pour forth a rousing chorus of "Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves."
I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. Those jokers you see at the top are my remarkable niece and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.