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more Cooking with Catladies planning

Dessert plans acquired!

There should be a vegan baked goods option – \o/!

and a cake-type baked goods option.


That and a bunch of fruit and some whipped cream should be decent after a big dinner, yes?

I’m thinking of making truffles and poached pears, too, but they’ll probably accompany the vegan cupcakes. Eee! plating!

Origin Myth

My friend, Cee, asked me to ramble on about my interest in food and cooking.

I learned to cook from my mother (because my father not only doesn’t cook much, but also doesn’t like most food), and she would measure ingredients with her hand and her eyes. To teach me how to make (not particularly authentic) curry, she would pour the flour into my hand so that I could get a feel of how much went into this particular recipe. And she did that many times before she ever let me make it on my own. Huh – and that recipe isn’t on my food blog yet. Good to know.

But I really got into cooking when I started Weight Watchers in high school and all of a sudden that standard rotation of dinners weren’t what I needed. I tried new foods, new cooking methods, and all kinds of new recipes.

And then what really got me confident in my ability to work from concepts to finished dishes was Highlander. See, there was this terrible episode called “Through a Glass Darkly.” The main plot would have been decent if it hadn’t been filmed in a tediously repetitive way. But the subplot! The subplot had my favorite character recovering ancient manuscripts (on white A1 office paper, but moving on) that had gotten damp in a church cellar or something. There was a discussion of a Roman cookbook author named Apicius and a dish called Lentils and Chestnuts, which looked like road tar but tasted delicious. And my mother and I heard that – and looked at each other – and then promptly went to the internet to see if this was random silliness or a real thing. And we ended up with a terrible translation and the discovery that Apicius just lists ingredients and doesn’t actually tell you quantities or really many details at all. And about half of the recipes ended with the direction, “If anything is missing, put it in,” which is rather like, “Adjust seasoning to taste,” only much more vague. So my mother researched how to obtain or substitute for the ingredients. And she bought a couple books on herbs (before then, it had just been thyme. No, really, just thyme. Dried, ground thyme. And salt. But we eschewed black pepper, too). And it was all a very dubious process – with both of us almost losing fingers to the chestnuts, and far more vinegar that the single capful we used for deviled eggs (which was the whole reason we even owned the 1 bottle of white distilled vinegar in the first place). And then halfway through, all of a sudden, you could smell the flavors coming together and turning into food. It was the most amazing thing ever.

In college, every freshman who is going to work on campus must work in the dining halls. I lasted about a month (with pink eye the very first week I was supposed to work, and then I just gave up and quit once I had mono). But over a couple of the summers I spent working at the library, I picked up additional work with the catering branch of dining services and I loved the fancier side of things and learned a few tricks of presentation (in addition to learning napkin folding in first grade with the gifted program).

Then there were a couple difficult years after college when I was living at home. I loved conspiring with my mother to keep trying new dishes and cuisines, but my father was pining for simple food. He ended up complete rebelling against spagetti because my mother kept putting “green stuff” in the sauce (no, not spinach. Bot even basil. But things like *fresh* thyme) and said that he’d really rather have tomato sauce straight from the can like his mother made for him, if that were all right, please.

And then I moved into my own place. \o/!


Damn – I love my own cooking.

I could totally convince a chickpea hater (me) to love chickpeas with this thai chickpea dish. It is some awesome.

ETA: My co-workers continue to be philistines who do not get excited over savory foods.

Dear Nigella,

Yes. The purple salad would be slightly better with some fish sauce. Bother, vegetarians. But it’s still very exciting without it. You should try it with beets.

Purple Fingers

tomorrow morning

To Do List

Cooking with Catladies – experiment 1

  • Thai beet slaw/salad (needs a better name)
    • peel and slice thinly 1 beet
    • shred a complementary amount of purple cabbage
    • halve a purple onion and slice one thinly
    • Jalapeno, seeded, sliced into thin matchsticks (core reserved for stock)
    • make dressing of:
      • 1 clove garlic, minced
      • 2 tsp sugar
      • 1 teaspoon vinegar (still haven’t decided between rice vinegar for the thai theme or red wine vinegar for the color theme)
      • juice of 1/2 lime
      • 1 tsp good olive oil
    • toss together with some generous grinds of black pepper
    • give a further toss with 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
    • ETA:decided on 1 teaspoon of each kind of vinegar – needs more lime juice!
  • Thai-inspired chickpea taco filling (version 1)
    • Drain a can of chickpeas
    • fry 1 tsp shredded fresh coconut (no really, from a coconut – no sugar added), purple onion, garlic, ginger, cilantro stems, jalapeno flesh in 1 tsp olive oil.
    • Add half the can of chickpeas, juice of 1/2 the lime, 1 bay leaf, and some lime zest
    • Add a mixture of vegetable stock and water and cook until no longer thin.
  • Thai-inspired chickpea taco filling (version 2)
    • fry 1 tsp fresh coconut in 2 tsp olive oil
    • add 1/2 tsp thai green curry paste
    • Add the rest of the chickpeas and a similar mixture of vegetable stock and water
    • cook until no longer thin
  • ETA: Instead of one or the other, it should be both – add some green curry paste to the first recipe to give it a yummy base flavor. And don’t forget to add a little salt in the cooking

Vacuum floor
Hang up stuff in closet
Clean off kitchen table
1 hr pilates

Cooking With Catladies

Cooking with Catladies - March 15, 2009 - a fine dining experience to benefit City Kitties Rescue

This is the second time City Kitties has run this event! But this time, the meal will be catered by ME. (RSVP for West Philadelphia location.) This is a great way to help a good cause while meeting new people and sampling new food. At the end of the night, you leave with the recipes. (Or you can even give me suggestions ahead of time here) And if you play your cards right, you might also leave with a cat. OK, that might not be an incentive, but you know, even Catladies can dream…

(please repost far and wide)
From City Kitties:
Another delicious Cooking with Catladies event is fast approaching! For a donation of $30 or more, you can enjoy a multi-course meal and great company. Check out photos from last year’s mouthwatering events here and here. Reserve your place at the table by emailing info at citykitties dot org. Hope to see you there!