Saturday, September 30, 2006

Food Fetish

I've changed the name of this blog from "Fleagirl's Fine Cooking" to "Food Fetish." The reason is simple:

1) As one correspondant told me, there's nothing fine about my cooking. And people just don't get sarcasm in a three-word title.

2) I think about food constantly. If I'm not eating, I'm thinking about my next meal, what I'm craving, how I'd cook something, how hard it would *be* to cook something, etc. And when I'm seriously dieting, I'm obsessed with food.

3) Leave me alone with the tv and I watch cooking shows. I read cookbooks, chef's manuals, cooking websites, restaurant reviews, and foodie blogs. The best cross-country drive I've had included a three-hour radio show got it, food. Please. The Williams Sonoma catalog came yesterday and I nearly swooned with lust.

Oh good lordy. If you don't get the WS catalog, click on the link at the right of this post and request one now. They sell linens, tableware, and cookware like all the others, but also fancy foods (prepared veal reduction in a jar, anyone?) and they include recipes.

And now I'm off to consider brunch. Juiceboy's away so the Bug and I went out last night (extremely disappointing Chinese buffet. Never go to a place with the word "Buffet" in the title.) and so I think we'll make our brunch at home. Maybe.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Corn Fritters::La Mais Frire

Sunday dinner. I was going to make shrimp and vegetable curry. It was hot today. I had lots of good ingrediants--like cauliflower, carrots and bell peppers. I had fun stuff to throw into the curry like raisins and flaky coconut and roasted peanuts.

But the guys wanted meat. Red meat. With baked potatoes. And I, stupidly, said yes.

Off to the store I went to buy a steak and three baking potatoes. I used the cauliflower (steamed) and was going to cook up some artichokes the Bug asked me to get (a buck a piece).

But I was too tired for the prep work, and opted instead to make something I saw in my "Professional Chef" book. Now, that recipe was for 87 billion fritters, so I made up my own recipe.

Corn Fritters
Serves many
1 bag frozen roasted white corn, found at Trader Joe's. Any frozen or fresh corn will do--about three cups. DON'T USED CANNED.
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 to 1/3 C one-percent milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Freshly ground black pepper
3 T olive oil
1 T butter

Defrost the corn and drain any liquid. In a large bowl mix flour, eggs, baking powder, milk, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Add corn and red pepper and mix until just blended.

Heat a frying pan to medium/medium low. Add olive oil, then butter. Drop batter in rounded table spoons, turning once brown. Remove to paper towel to drain, serve hot.

Some people eat these with honey or maple syrup. I like a chipotle dipping sauce or salsa.

Juiceboy said, "These are really good. Too bad they aren't healthy."

How to Cook Rice Noodles

I'm just an Irish girl, born to Canadians. We never had rice noodles when I was a kid, but fell in love with them after I moved to California. In the past when I cooked them they turned into a gloppy, sticky mess. Not any more. Last night I figured out the key to cooking rice noodles.

You can buy rice noodles in Asian Markets, or, if you're very lucky, in the Asian food aisle of your grocery store. I like the ones that are flat and broad like fettucine.

How to Cook Rice Noodles
Take the entire package of noodles (unwrapped, of course) and soak in cold water in a large, flat container like a covered casserole, for at least 30 minutes. Some packages and recipes state this is all you need to do. Don't believe them. If you like soft rice noodles, and you're not planning on cooking them in an additional recipe, do the following:

Bring a broad pot of salted water to boil. You'll be lowering your metal, hand-held strainer into it, so make sure you can reach that water. If you use a big pasta pot, you're going to have to fill it nearly to the top with water--so it would *not* be a good choice.

Right before you're ready to serve, place individual portions of the noodles in your metal, hand-held strainer. Place the strainer in the boiling water for about 20-30 seconds, stirring with chopsticks to seperate. When tender, strain the water out and serve.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Spaghetti Fritatta

It's Saturday Brunch and everyone wants to know what I'm making. And honestly, I don't know. Juiceboy ate the ham I was going to use for a dish. What now?

Let's Look in the the Fridge! Leftovers...leftovers...ah and leftovers. It guess it's time for leftover fritatta!

Spaghetti Fritatta
Heat your oven to 350.
Cook the following in an oven-proof skillet.

Brown some ground pork. Remove and drain on a paper towell.

Saute 1/2 yellow onion and one clove garlic in the pan. Add 1T butter. Add about two cups leftover spaghetti (really, d0n't cook this up fresh. That's just silly.).

Add 1/2 cup sliced green pepper and 1/2 cup chopped tomato.

Season with basil, oregano, fennel (for sausagey flavor) , salt and pepper.

Throw in whatever tasty leftovers you have in the fridge.

Beat a bunch of eggs--I used 10, because 6 wasn't enough. I think 8 would have been fine.
Cook for approximately 20 minutes until eggs are set. Top with parmesan and some grated monterey jack cheese (cheddar would be v. nice as well). Put back in the oven for about 10 minutes until bubbly. If you want the cheese browned, turn on the broiler for about 3 minutes.
I think chopped broccoli would have been good, too. This is not healthy cooking, I know. We're having veggie stir-fry for dinner.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hot Peppers and My Mouth do not mix

I planted some cute pepper plants in my backyard planters this summer, alongside some tomato plants. The peppers weren't really productive--every now and then I'd go out and cut off a nice green pepper about half the size of my fist.

They were sweet, bland, but added some nice color to my Saturday egg dishes.

On Wednesday of this week I took a cute little pepper with me to work. It had begun to redden, and looked happy on my desk next to some fresh tomatoes.

Late into the afternoon I was craving potatoe chips. I reached for my pepper and bit off the tip. Nice, sweet, crispy. I took a bigger bite, much the same. The third bite brought me into the red part.


My mouth burnt. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I couldn't move. I finally managed to spit out the mouthful after crying out. My eyes turned red, instantly.

I ran a block for milk.

In heels and a suit.


What happened to my sweet peppers?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Juiceboy Salad

Bon Vivant fka NoodleWhore wrote:

"Hi Fleagirl! I've tried on many occasions to post comments on your blog but I
keep getting error messages so that's why I'm writing via email.

for stopping by my blog! I've enjoyed reading both your blogs. What do you put
in the yummy Juiceboy salad?

Good luck with your enchilada gravy (don't
forget the oregano). There is a restaurant right by me that I know makes their
own (it's fabulous!) but I suspect that most Mexican places here used the canned
First things first:

Comments: I'm using the Beta version of Blogger, so maybe there's a problem with comments. I've switched to accept annoymous comments. Hey--can someone test for me please?

Thank YOU: I love traffic. I love email more. Keep it coming! And send us links to your great blogs so we know where to send other visitors to.

Juiceboy Salad
Saute two or three boneless, skinless, frozen chicken breast. Throw them frozen into the pan and fill the pan halfway with water and throw in two cubes of chicken bouillon. Cover with a lid and simmer until almost cooked.

Cut chicken into cubes. Reserve cooking liquid for another use, like good soup or enchilada gravy.

Clean skillet, add some butter, cook on high heat until browned, fragrant, and fully cooked. Season with salt & pepper.

Get a huge bowl and throw in: sliced cucumber, chopped celery, grated cheese, grated carrots, chopped hard boiled egg, chopped green pepper, green onion, a zillion fat-free crutons, chicken, and avocado.

Top with a creamy dressing.

This is an entree salad, and should feed at least six hungry people.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hog and Cow

Okay. It's time to do Weight Watchers. I lost the "10-Day Diet Challenge" to Juiceboy and now he has my $50. We shook on another weigh-in on October 15, and I'll be darned if I give him half my allowance a second month in a row.

My question for you is...what are your tastiest "healthy" meals? I want high fiber, low fat. Send them my way!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Enchilada Gravy, Clue #1

I've found some answers! It involves ancho chiles, flour, a broiler, and chicken stock...I think. He was speaking Spanish and I picked up only every third word. But I do know: NO TOMATOES!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Searching for Mr. Enchilada

There are very few taquerias that can satisfy my craving for Enchilada Gravy. This is not a tomatoey, runny mess. This is not a dark brown, thin, trickle. The best enchilada sauce is a gravy. It's viscous and thick, and congeals a bit when cold (which tells me there's fat in it). It has a meaty taste to it, though it's red in color, and absolutely smooth in texture.

Chabelas on Haight Street in SF had the best. They closed one day due to kitchen problems, and never reopened. Sigh.

Happy Burrito in Oakland has got something close. Very close. I'm afraid to ask for the recipe lest they haul out a 20-pound tin.

Anyone have a good enchilada gravy recipe?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

I'm working at home today--not feeling great with an Autumn cold. Needed something fast but comforting for lunch, so I looked in the fridge. Ack--it's the 15th, time to use up the dying vegetables. This is a quick, healthy, low-fat version of the high-fat favorite.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup.

  • Spray large soup pot with cooking spray, melt one Tablespoon butter on medium low heat.
  • Coarsley chop 2 large carrots (scrubbed, not peeled). Add to soup pot and stir to coat.
  • Coarsley chop one yellow onion and two to three stalks celery. (I had leaves left, so in they went). Add to soup pot and stir to coat.
  • Clean and cut up a head of cauliflower. I break up chunks with my hands.
  • Add one to two cloves garlic, smashed.
  • Add one large (32 oz) tin chicken or vegetable stock--low sodium is recomended as this stock reduces. If you don't have low sodium then throw in a potato to take out some of that salt. Be sure to fish out the potato later.
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes.
  • Take about 75% of the solids with some liquid and blend till smooth. Return to pot, and turn off heat. (It can burn now)
  • Add about 1/4 cup 1% milk; more if you like your soup thinner.
  • Add 1 tablespoon curry powder and lots of fresh black pepper. No salt should be needed.
  • Top with parsley and a tablespoon of grated cheddar or colby jack cheese.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Bad Bean Sprouts

Someone came to my blog today because they searched for "bean sprouts how do you tell when they are bad?". My instant thought was, when they are moist, sour, or gray. Is there another way?

I know there has been some hubub recently in the Candadian press (and yes, this was a Canadian visitor) about bacteria and bean sprouts.

So--how DO you tell when bean sprouts are bad?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Cream Cheese Wontons

What to do when you find out your mother-in-law is coming three hours earlier than you thought--with her best friends who are visiting from overseas? You throw together a plate of quick-to-make food, like cheese & crackers and fruit. But what if you want to really impress them? Make cream cheese wontons with your leftover wonton skins!

The picture is all that was left of about 24 wontons.

Cream Cheese Wontons
Square egg roll wrappers--I used the large ones and cut them into four.
Water or egg substitute for sealing.
Cream cheese or neufchatel cheese, softened at room temperature if time allows.

Add ins. You can make plain cream cheese filling, or add in any of the following:
Crab meat
Chopped scallions or chives
1t to 1T curry powder or paprika

Place about a half teaspoon of filling in the center of the wrapper. Dampen two sides and of wrapper and fold to create a triangle, eliminating as much air as possible. Or, twist into a little "purse".
Use a small, heavy frying pan with about 1/2 an inch of corn oil, on medium high heat. Gently place wontons and cook until golden brown, turning over when done. Then, drain on paper towel.

Serve immediately--these don't taste as good later. (And you can plan for two or three per person. They are yummy, but fattening. What did you expect from deep-fried cheese?)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Oh Good Lordy, I was Ignorant

I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Yet another email. I didn't know I had to be invited by someone else to participate in the "Things to eat before you die" fad. Good lordy, I crashed a chain letter!

Pot Roast

I was looking for an economical bit of meat that would be good for two dinners...and one that we haven't had recently. So pork roast was out. Happily, I asked the Safeway butcher to bring out more of the 7-bone pot roast, which if you get the right cut has very little boning and not much fat.

So for $6.50, we had a nice pot roast dinner for the first cool evening of the fall.

Fleagirl's Pot Roast

Season one 4-5 pound pot roast with kosher salt & freshly ground pepper. Then, with a hand-held strainer, sift flour evenly across the roast.

In a wide, heavy pan, heat about 2T corn oil. Add roast and brown well. Turn and brown the other side.

Remove roast (put in oven proof pot or dutch oven). Add to cooking pan about three cups mirepoix (three large diced carrots, one diced onion, two ribs diced celery) and about five smashed cloves of garlic. Cook until tender.

Move mirepoix to roasting pot.

Deglaze cooking pan with 1/2 cup chicken broth, one can roasted tomatos, and a splash of red wine. Scrape up all the yummy bits on the pan, break up tomatos. Add to roasting pan after all is simmering.

Cover roasting pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil and tight-fitting lid. Cook in oven at 325 to 350 for two-to-three hours. During this time baste the meat every hour.

Serve with egg noodles (I throw some frozen peas into the water while they are cooking), and sauted cabbage (I like to add some thick-sliced carrots, which add color and crispness).

Cheap eats and kitchen fiascos

Sarcasm doesn't come across well in blog titles. Someone angrily emailed me this week, "Fine Cooking? Are you kidding me? There's nothing gourmet about your recipes!" EXACTLY.

I'm just poking around in the kitchen, trying to cook good, decent meals that aren't too expensive. I've never taken a cooking class in my life. I shop the sales at Safeway (watch for my pot roast recipe tonight--chuck roast is on sale). My family has a love of anything that comes wrapped in colorful waxed paper and served hot in a bag.

All I'm trying to do is share my struggles with inexpensive, healthy cooking. So what should my blog be called? Cheap eats or Kitchen Fiascos?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Beating the heck out of dim sum

My in-laws and their visiting friends were coming for cocktails tonight, and I needed something fast for dinner after. What to do with a fridge full of half-cooked dim sum? Add chicken broth!

Yes, this is my recipe for won ton soup.

Won Ton Soup

  • Spray your favorite stock pot with Pam.
  • Add one diced carrot, one diced stalk celery, about 1T chopped ginger, one chopped clove garlic.
  • Cook till fragrant but not soft.
  • Add one big huge can of Swanson's chicken broth (or the broth of your choice).
  • Cook on low heat until steaming.
  • Add leftovers from nights before, including: chopped cabbage, filled wontons, linguine, spinach wontons, pork/shrimp meatballs, and diced tofu.
  • Simmer until meatballs are cooked through. Do not boil!
  • If you made fresh wontons tonight from the leftovers, now's the time to add any beaten egg you have leftover.
  • Stir in about a tablespoon of sesame oil and one tablespoon soy sauce.
  • Top with fresh chopped scallions.
Serves Plenty

Dim Sum Aftermath

Hi, I’m Fleagirl, and I’m a food addict. I woke up this dreary, dark morning and thought, “Why did I do that?” I felt guilty and annoyed that I’d gone into a dim sum frenzy, spending my birthday money on food, most of which is in the fridge or the freezer. Of course, I could have spent that same money at Yank Sing, one of the best SF dim sum joints, and I wouldn’t have learned a thing about cooking from the experience.

My stomach feels wobbly today, as it did last night. Even though I only had two pan-fried (which is pretty much deep fried, but you turn it half way in the cooking process) spinach rolls, the grease deemed too much for my gentle constitution. Or was it something else? The Bug spent the night tossing and turning, talking in his sleep and even sleepwalking twice. (He’s an extremely active sleeper.) He only had one bite of the spinach roll.

Anyway. This post isn’t about my guilt. Well, it is. You see—Juiceboy and I made a bet to see who could lose more weight in three weeks. The winner gets half--$50—of the other one’s allowance. I was doing pretty well up until last week, and now I’m feeling bloated and gross and thick. I really want to win this challenge. But he’s able to hike and bike and swim during the day, when I’m flat on my ass in front of a computer.

I’m going to make some radical changes for the next ten days (because that’s all I have).

No alcohol.
Water water water
tons of veggies and fibrous fruits
Smaller portions
No butter, cheese, ice cream or other high-fat dairy item.
Walk every day—during lunch or at home in the dark if need be.

I have 10 days. Will I do it?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Dim Sum and Then Some

We made dim sum tonight, and it was pretty good. I'd planned to make about three or four different dim sum, with a quick veggie stir fry to go along with some sticky rice I'd made. Here's what I learned:

  1. Allot an hour, at least, for each item. I started at 5pm and we ate at 9pm. And I was smart and prepped all the veggies, etc., first, since every dish was a variety of the others.

  2. Willing little hands are great for the wrapping portion. The Bug wrapped up 16 packets of foil-wrapped chicken and countless pork & shrimp dumplings. Had I done it, it would have added an extra hour.

  3. It's best to use the tools prescribed by recipes, but if all else fails, figure out what the cooking process is and mock it up. I do not have a steamer pot and basket for sticky rice, so I steamed the rice in a damp tea towel on a metal steamer basket. Probably not the best way of doing it, but it worked. Of course, The Bug got a funny look on his face halfway through the rice and asked, "Did you put wet towel in the rice? It tastes weird." What a clown.

  4. If you're pan frying, for god's sake get a spatter screen!

  5. You need a variety of dipping sauces. Sweet, mustardy, vinegary. At the very least.

  6. There is absolutely no need to make all of the following at the same time for only three people:

Baked Foil-wrapped chicken
Steamed Shrimp & pork dumplings (kind of a sui mai)
Pan-fried Spinach & tofu egg rolls
Scallion Pancakes
Sticky rice
(I never made it to the stir fry)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Searching for Steamers

After my dim sum dream from this morning I went out to scour suburbia for my needs.

  1. A decent Asian Market
  2. A kitchen store where I could buy a decent steamer for under $30.
It didn't seem so hard. This is California, after all. I found a decent Asian Market on my first try, only 20 minutes from my house, in an extremely dubious looking strip mall. But it had the right smell and a tremendous variety in the store, including a small fish counter. Very Nice!

I found two kinds of dried, shredded pork there (Tung Yang Pork Fu is the kind I got, the mild type, as opposed to Tung Yang Pork Sung, which has the same ingredients but is redder). Lots of veggies that I could identify, and 100 types of rice-based wrappers. The Bug picked some sticky glutinous raspberry sweet, which he didn't like.

On the search for sticky rice I found an employee lounging on 40-pound bags of rice. Feeling quite silly, I asked for the smallest bag of sticky rice possible. I think it was five pounds of "Sweet Thai Riz" and cost $3.50. The man laughed and asked if I knew how to cook it.

"Oh, I have a recipe," I answered, and then asked,"What do you recommend?"

"Cook for a long time, about 30 minutes, with a lot of water," he laughed.

They were all really sweet. The cashier asked, "What are you making?" and I told her I wasn't quite sure, since I didn't know what they would have.

Then, armed with some items, I knew I needed a better steamer. I would have liked a big bamboo one, even though I know they harbor bacteria, etc., but would have settled for something metal, as long as it had stackable levels.

I went up to the Vacaville Factory Outlet Stores. There are four kitchen-ware stores there: Le Creuset, Corningware, The Kitchen Store, and Le Gourmet Chef.

Since I was just looking for a stupid bamboo steamer, I went into The Kitchen Store first. I soon found out it had no steamers whatsoever, and mostly sold gadgets made by "The Good Chef" which are the worst pieces of crap ever. So we went over to the stupidly-named "Le Gourmet Chef" (I should have known).

A mish-mosh of ticky-tacky joke stuff (pig-lighters with flames coming out of their noses, fake french chefs holding chalkboards, etc.), and extremely expensive boxed items with "The Professional Series" or something along that line printed on them. Whether they were nice or not, I don't know. $30 for a tiny steamer insert that I can't unbox is too steep for me.

Did I mention the pretzel and mustard dip bar? Wasabi Horseradish Mustard dip and crap like that. They had more salsas and hot sauces with stupid names like "Queen of Farts" than they did cookware.

I finally found a set of two tiny bamboo steamers made by Joyce Chen. They were called "Cocktail Steamers" I think and would have held no more than two potstickers a piece. At $8 for two they were ridiculous. When I asked the sales clerks they got snotty and said, "We had fold out metal steamers but we don't any more."

Mental eye roll.

The Bug and I will MacGyver something together tomorrow. Tonight we made linguine (see earlier post).

I'm armed with all my fixins though. Pretty excited. Maybe Juiceboy will be home to photograph the results.

Linguini and White Clam Sauce

One of The Bug's favorite dishes is Linguine and Clam Sauce. In fact, this weekend Juiceboy is off camping, and I gave The Bug his choice of any dinner. And that included eating out? His choice? You guessed it. Linguine and Clam Sauce. My "Fast & Cheap" version is incredibly fast and easy. Watch for when your supermarket puts the tinned clams on sale.

Linguine and Clam Sauce
Eyeball all amounts, adjust to your taste.
Since you'll cook the sauce on really low heat, go ahead and use that non-stick saucepan.

Put lots of fresh water, dosed with kosher salt, onto boil.
When it boils, add and cook 10-16oz of linguine.

In the meantime:

  • In a big saucepan melt about one and a half tablespoons butter over low heat. Add one tablespoon of olive oil and about three cloves of finely chopped garlic.
  • Sweat garlic over low heat until fragrant and supple. Do not turn up the heat past medium low, and if butter starts bubbling, turn it down. There's nothing worse than browned garlic in this dish.
  • While garlic softens, open two tins minced or chopped clams (I like the ones in the yellow tuna-sized tins. You'll find them with the tuna in fact.) RESERVE THE LIQUID.
  • When garlic is softened, add a shake of red pepper flakes. Go easy on this, you can always add more. Heat for 30 seconds.
  • Then add the clam liquid, plus one whole bottle clam juice, which is also found in the tuna section. Be sure to shake the bottle.
  • Turn heat up to medium high and bring to a boil.
  • Add about a half bunch of well chopped parsley. (This is a great use for parsley.) Don't worry about the stems--just wash the parsley, shake it, and chop away. My mom uses scissors, I just use my knife.
  • Immediately turn down to medium/medium-low. Check your pasta.
  • Now, shake out some cornstarch in a measuring cup. About 1/8 cups worth and add enough cold white wine, chicken broth, or water to liquify. Mix till smooth.
  • Turn the heat up again till it's simmering and add your starch mixture. But be careful! Add a bit at a time, as this will thicken your sauce faster than you can imagine. Stir like crazy as you add it.
  • Once thickened to your liking (we like it THICK), turn off the heat and add freshly ground black pepper and the clams. Please don't cook the clams unless you like Linguine and Rubber Bits.
Add-ins to consider: fresh basil, finely chopped white onion, fresh clams, even thick-cut and diced bacon.

Serve with Parmesan cheese and garlic bread and a great salad.

Should serve four.

Testing...1, 2, 3

I just switched to the Blogger Beta and am more lost than a man in a bra department. Where are my site feeds?

Dreaming of Dim Sum

I've been dreaming again of dim sum. Really good dim sum, the kind you come across once in a lifetime. The kind that bursts in your mouth with freshness and lightness. Tender, gingery siu mai. Heavy, thin-skinned potstickers. Har gow that explode with cilantro and garlic. Lo mai gai 30 seconds from being cooked--completely fresh and flavorful. There's no grease, and all the carts delight you. And a hundred carts come by in the first 15 minutes you're seated. And you can have all you want for only $10.

It's only 9am and my mouth won't stop watering. Now, if it were a year and a half ago, I'd have The Bug prepped and we'd be flying out the door to Chinatown, ready to be the first ones in when the doors of our favorite dim sum place opened. But when you trade the city for the country (and four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a pool and room for a pony), you lose some things. I have no problem with the commute. I can handle not being able to roll down the street for a beer. Miss the 50 restaurants within walking distance? Not me. Never looked back.

Until today. Even in nearby Napa, there's no dim sum. Even if we headed north an hour to Sacto, no dim sum. And the Bay Bridge is closed this weekend, which would mean driving to BART, then getting on the train, then bussing to our favorite place...and by that time, we'd have hit crowds.

So instead I think I'll spend some of my birthday money on supplies for making dim sum. A steamer, certainly. The ingrediants, for sure. What else? Unfortunately Juiceboy took the digital camera camping with him, so any pictures will be day-old. to find a cooking supply store in suburbia. Sigh.

Friday, September 01, 2006

My five-things-before-death list

Okay. I'm on the bandwagon. Here's my addition to the Traveller's Lunchbox Five Things You Must Eat Before Death list:

  1. Toll House Cookies: Seriously. Think back to the first day you held one of these, hot, off your mom's, or grandmother's, cookie sheet, tossing it back and forth in your hands, till it cooled enough to eat. Remember the creamy richness? The chewy, tender, crispness? Bottle this essence and label it "YOUTH".
  2. Boston Cream Doughnuts: I hadn't even thought about this until I was fantasizing about the cookies. And then I remembered one thing better. The Boston Creams from Dunkin Donuts that I loved so as a teenager. I loved them so much that I dreamt about them at 26 when I was pregnant and wrote a sonnet to a Boston Cream Doughnut. Mmmmm....custard in deep fried bread, covered with chocolate. Ayayalllaaagh... (that's onomatopoeia for me drooling)
  3. Smoked Oysters: Yes, the tinned ones. Throw some vinegar & Worcestershire sauce on them, then drain them. Good plain, with toothpicks. Divine wrapped in bacon and broiled as "Angels on Horseback". And I have these memories of making plates of them for my mother's bridge group: Ritz cracker, homemade Thousand Island Dressing, oyster. Sprinkle a little confettied parsley and it will look less 70s....
  4. O Fries and Gravy from the "O" in Pittsburgh: Hate to say it but it's been 15 years and I don't know if it still exists.
  5. Fillet mignon, rare, grilled asparagus, and a nice glass of cabernet. My recommendation? At the bar of the Chophouse Grill in Chicago.