Monday, January 19, 2009

The Reluctant Housewife

So as many of you know (and secretly despised me for) I have been spoiled rotten these last few months and have had little-to-no household responsibilities to attend to. But as all good things, the shirking of chores thanks to my “semester of seven classes” excuse has officially expired and I now, quite reluctantly, return to my housewife-ly duties.

Yes, Gloria Steinem I know this may not be what you had in mind for my generation but I (wisely and bravely) plan to turn this boring task into an opportunity to share my trials and tribulations, (and let's face it potentially disastrous outcomes) with the rest of my friends in an effort to save them time, provide them with inspiration, or at least a good chortle at my expense.

What did I make this weekend? Corn & Cheese Chowder and Sweet Potato Muffins...

Read on for the recipe, revisions and results:

Corn Cheddar Chowder

Prep time: 15 minutes (or 45 depending on how long it takes you to chop an onion, cry, wash your face, rinse and repeat)
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 8ish

  • 3 ¼ oz butter
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup canned creamed corn
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cream (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, to garnish

Directions (and Revisions)
1.Heat butter in heavy based pan. (Revision: there's really no need to use that much butter unless you're a Paula Deen devotee, so I suggest maybe a bit of grapeseed oil and a tablespoon of butter or so) Add onion and cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes or until golden.

2.Add garlic (Revision: bring on the garlic, what's one little clove gonna do for you? I say double or triple that and kiss the cook!) Add cumin seeds and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly (arm workout: bonus!)
3.Add chicken stock. (now I do suggest using homemade chicken stock and will provide a recipe for my favorite later this month, but if you insist on the store bought because you're not a slave to the kitchen like some of us, sigh, I like Pacific free range low sodium chicken broth) Bring to a boil, add potato, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for ten minutes.
4. Add creamed corn, corn kernels and parsley (umm all I got's is canned corn kernels and that's ok, I used two cans worth for this recipe and substituted cilantro for parsley because I like it better) bring to a boil once more, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Add cheese and cream and season to taste. Heat gently until cheese melts. Serve immediately sprinkled with chopped chives.(Revision: I used a hand held blender to cream this soup when it was done and if you plan to enjoy this for a few days don't add the cheese, skip the cream altogether, instead add the cheese as you reheat it and maybe add a delicious chicken apple sausage to go with it)

Review: This was delicious! Perfect for a cold winter night. I have to warn you the soup is pretty sweet, it is corn chowder after all, so you might want to season it with red chili flakes or cayenne pepper for some sweet and spicy balance. I will make this one again!

Sweet Potato Muffin
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes + 10 minutes cooling

  • 6oz sweet potato
  • 2 cups self rising flour
  • 1 cup finely grated Cheddar cheese
  • 3 ¼ oz butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 egg slightly beaten
  • ¾ cup buttermilk

Directions (and Revisions)
1. Preheat oven to 350F, brush melted butter or oil into 12 deep muffin tins (or use spray)
2. Finely grate sweet potato. Sift flour into large mixing bowl. (If you don't have self rising flour you can always add a little bit of baking soda to the mix)
3. Add sweet potato and cheese, stir to combine, make a well in the center.
4. Add butter, egg and buttermilk to dry ingredients (Muy importante: make sure the butter has cooled...otherwise you get pre-cooked egg) Combine ingredients.
5. Spoon mixture into muffin tins. Bake for 25 minutes or until puffed and lightly golden. Turn onto a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm with butter. (Revision: or with honey butter, melt butter and add honey to it in either a two to one or three to one ratio, yummy)

Review: Eh. The muffins came out underdone in the middle and were rather bland...I can think of better uses for sweet potato, like baked fries, yummy!

Sunday, January 18, 2009


What to do on a cold Friday night in Reno, NV? How about an adaptation of Ovid's Metamorphoses and other assorted Greek myths? Luckily for Stan and I, the run of this play (Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses) had been extended and we got to see it. This was our first time at the Bruka, a local theater enjoying its sixteenth season and going to see the play fulfilled not one, but three of this years resolutions! One, as you already know is to be more spontaneous (and buying tickets only days in advance is spontaneity in my book) and the others are to be more involved with our community and to spend more quality time together. After the play Stan and I headed over to the best martini bar in town- Roxy's at the El Dorado and even danced a bit...which inspired me to promptly sign us up for a refresher dance class (or two.)

However the point of this entry is the title- Metamorphoses. I suspect 2009 will be a big year of change for me and I know a lot of my friends are going through a period of transition in their lives too: getting married, finding new jobs or careers, having (or raising) babies, and dealing with the challenges of a new place, a new space and new directions. I hope that this year will bring with it new opportunities for all of us and that we may be wise and brave enough to take them on.

As for me, I thought long and hard about what who and what I want to be when I grow up and decided it would be best to stay un-grown up a little least for the rest of the weekend...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Consolation Vacation

So I'm not entirely sure how this blogging thing works but I think it might be a good way to keep in touch with those that want to keep in touch and as an added bonus it means I don't have to tell the same story twenty different times. So here goes...

Having canceled our trip to Israel thirty six hours before it was to take place, Stan and I were left with mixed feelings and a non-refundable ticket to LA. In the spirit of making good on our New Year's resolution to be more spontaneous we decided to book a hotel in Venice Beach and make the best of it. After a terrible flight at the crack of dawn on Thursday morning (1/8/9) in a teeny tiny plane we got a rental car (Stan found a local place that rents good 'ole Japanese cars instead of weird Chevy's) and headed to the Getty Museum. Awesome architecture, rather boring art. Afterwards we went to check into our hotel on Venice Beach...I guess I must have seemed nervous checking in to this rather bohemian establishment (“bohemian”- code for smells like pot and is surrounded by homeless people aka "artisans" ) as the front desk clerk felt the need to tell me that the memorial/vigil outside the hotel (which I hadn't even noticed at that point) was for a man who owned a local restaurant and had recently passed away from a heart attack, “he wasn't shot or anything” she reassured me (indicating that perhaps this was an equally likely explanation)...yes very comforting, I feel all better now! Wandering down the beach we found a cute place to eat, FigTree Cafe and enjoyed the best ahi tuna sandwich, sadly sans fries (not even on the menu, are you kidding me?) After lunch we headed to happy hour at another local establishment on the beach where I enjoyed a screwdriver made with potato vodka...result- inconclusive. When dinner rolled around Viv took us to a fabulous Thai place that had a lounge singer (who was awesome!!!) and as I was still feeling sick from my stupid cold we had to call it a night. I was however happy to learn that the famous flip line in Clueless “what's the point [of practicing parallel parking] everywhere you go has valet” is delightfully true, for only $4 you can hand your rental car keys to a complete stranger and pray you don't end up on Punk'd. All in all a funtastical first day.

Friday we went to FigTree Cafe again for breakfast and made it there in time for the 50% off early bird breakfast special, which apparently every place in Venice Beach does. Then headed to the LACMA where we spent the entire day!!! Must do exhibits include the Vanity Fair Portraits and the entire contemporary art collection (despite my lack of appreciation for Homage to a Square) Dinner was at a mediocre French cafe – Lily's and post dinner entertainment included waiting for an hour or so for netflix to allow us the privilege of instant movie watching, all made worthwhile by the successful showing of the classic Coppola dramedy – Peggy Sue Got Married.

Saturday we checked out our friends Viv and George's apartment in Long Beach (right by the beach lucky duckys! though also near a sex offender rehab facility...hmm maybe not so lucky) We all had lunch at “At Last” Cafe, super cute, good food and not overpriced. Wandered the marina and squeezed in some lingerie shopping and a much anticipated trip to pinkberry, my first time- pomegranate with capn'crunch, yum o! Don't think I'll be holding my breath for them to open their shop in Reno, NV though. Then onto the Pacific Resident Theatre to see “Fata Morgana”...all in all a good show despite the fact that one of the male leads seemed to be forgetting his lines and “improvising” (badly) for a large chunk of the show. I consoled myself with the thought that one of these people could get discovered one day and I can say I saw them back when. Post-show we drove for hours (possibly exaggerating for dramatic effect) for izakaya-style dining at midnite to enjoy gizzards, hearts, chicken skin and tongue, dee-licous. Sadly we were too tired to karaoke and took our lame butts home to sleep off the last full day of LA adventure.

Sunday, we woke up late (that's past 10am for you non-believers) and headed over to (what was by then) “our” place the FigTree Cafe for breakfast. Convinced Stan to try the “soufflĂ©-d pancake” results-mixed and took a long stroll on the beach in eighty degree weather...mmm California I shall miss you.