so much for family dinner

Today, rather than post about the preparation of food, I offer my commentary of food-related current events. From the Jackson (MI) Citizen Patriot, via

Man faces charges in assault with chicken

An Ypsilanti man is accused of stabbing his mother in the back with a dinner fork and clubbing another woman over the head with 10 pounds of frozen chicken.

It’s kind of a convoluted story about a 40-year old man with a criminal record waking his mom up in the wee hours of the morning and demanding cash, and then stabbing her with the fork (the attack drew some blood but did not cause serious injury) when she said no, but the chicken incident happened separately:

(The prosecutor) Blumer said that a day after he stabbed his mother, McKaney was riding a bicycle at 7:30 p.m. Monday when he encountered two women talking on the sidewalk on Woodbridge.

“He said something nasty to them and they responded in kind,” Blumer said.

“He jumped off his bike and hit one woman over the head with 10 pounds of chicken.”

The woman was treated at Foote Hospital, and had five staples in her head, Blumer said. The husband of the victim in the poultry assault trailed McKaney in a pickup truck and flagged a responding officer on Biddle Street, Deputy Chief John Holda said.

This is not a good way to tenderize meat, people. Nor is biking a good way to carry uncooked poultry in the summer.

Me? Not like M&Ms?

I shouldn’t go to Target hungry, I know, but there were these long and skinny boxes of Premium M&M’s, made in fun flavors like mocha, triple chocolate, and something about raspberries. The mocha ones are sparkly, too – kinda bronze-ish. I threw a box in my cart.
I hate them. I mean, not enough to throw them away, but not enough to buy them again, which in my world equates to hate. They are cloyingly mocha-y, and the flavor stay LONG after you stop eating.
First, the shell is not crispy. It’s soft. If you eat M&Ms, you want the crunch. These do not.
Second, the chocolate tastes expensive, where we all know that I prefer cheap chocolate. I would much rather have a peanut butter cup than a box of Godiva. I prefer M&Ms to truffles. I prefer milk chocolate over dark. These failed on all fronts.
Verdict: I’m sticking with the peanut M&Ms.

Cleaning out the Refrigerator

I’m sure I found this recipe for orzo salad because I was looking for something to do with all the fresh mint that grows from my window boxes (gotta love townhouse living), but it solved so many of my food problems this weekend:

  • 1) LEFTOVER FISH I enjoyed a fabulous Mexican meal Friday night with old friend who recently moved to my hometown, but I came home with half the blackened fish from fish tacos. Hot Tamales makes some of the best around, served with fresh tomato salsa, pineapple salsa, warm flour tortillas, and a HUGE portion of fresh fish. But, I’m always a little unsure of what to do with leftover fish. Microwaving it for lunch at work seems unkind to my colleagues, but the fish needs to be addressed quickly, if at all. Thus, this orzo provided the perfect bed for the fish. I split the leftover portion in two, laid it over the orzo and was quite happy with the results.
  • 2) LEFTOVER VEGGIES In my refrigerator I had a few cherry tomatoes from pesto pasta I’d made earlier in the week, parts of a red onion from the Barefoot Contessa’s shrimp salad I’d tried, and some sliced black olives from something so unremarkable I can’t even remember why I opened them. So, I ignored Giada’s recommended veggies (especially the chickpeas. I love hummus, but not so much the whole bans) and used up my own mix of leftovers. It worked great!
  • 3) SURPLUS FRESH HERBS I love the way my window boxes look from the outside of my house (which is for sale, by the way) and the way you get a nice scent in my kitchen with the warm summer breeze blows just right, but sometimes I feel pressure to trim them back and make use of them before they get all spindly and weird. This recipe make use of just enough herb to give my boxes a little haircut early in the season.
  • 4) COOKING IN BROTH I’d read a lot about this, but never tried it. It was great! I’ll definitely do it again soon.

Also, I served it with a yummy lime spritzer. 10 Cane white rum makes everything better.

It’s what’s for dinner!

So, only while vacationing in Hershey, PA, would I have found AND PURCHASED a bag of chocolate pasta, and only while in the perils of Hershey withdrawal would I have tried to make the Chicken Mole recipe on the back of the package. Healthy skinless, boneless breast of chicken in the chocolate-based sauce, served over chocolate pasta.

But I’m glad I did.

You can find the recipe here, and the pasta is available a lot of places, including Amazon. And actually, when you break the recipe down, there isn’t anything in there that’s whole-heartedly bad for you: no cream or butter, and only minimal sugar. No cheese. Lots of tomatoes.

The directions for the sauce weren’t great, and for that reason alone I wouldn’t call this a beginner recipe, but the outcome was pretty nice, for only 90 minutes of simmering. I’d certainly serve it over regular pasta next time – even whole wheat pasta, which seems to have become the only pasta I eat at home these days.

Much like the cooking instructions, the chocolate pasta was kind of underwhelming. I appreciated that it had a savory flavor for dinner (it also came with two dessert recipes on the package, so I was nervous), but I didn’t find it all that chocolately when I tried one to see if the noodles were ready.

Recipe: good, but don’t count on the instructions to carry you through
Noodles: stick to whole wheat

no leftovers

I am usually all about making too much food for dinner specifically so that there are leftovers for lunch or dinner at least the next day, preferably the next two days. But now I’m finding with fresh vegetables – especially with Farmers’ Market finds – that they are not as good on day 2, unless they are raw.

Nevertheless, I really like this vegetable toss I made the other day: 1 large bunch of broccoli, steamed to taste, tossed with a mix of salt, 1 T. lime juice and 1/2 t. sesame oil. So light. So savory. So nice with a pork chop.

So not good as leftovers. Not even tossed with lettuce and dredged in Paul Newman’s light honey mustard salad dressing.

Sunday Dinner: A Mixed Review

A few weeks ago a popular food blogger that I also enjoy reading discussed how blogs have the best recipes, and that newspaper recipes didn’t excite him. While I agree that blogs offer a personal insight that newspaper style doesn’t allow for, I certainly do not hesitate to try a newspaper recipe that excites me.

But not all of them do.

Take my roommate’s mother, for example, who spent this beautiful, leisurely Sunday morning combing her newspaper, and got the urge to try a dinner menu she found for Greek chicken and watermelon salad. Not apt to fry an otherwise healthy chicken breast, this amateur chef used the flavors in the friend chicken recipe to make a marinade for boneless, skinless chicken breasts that we grilled (the other eater in my household acted as the grill master) at the end of the day – YUM! The mayonnaise-based sauce was delightful on the chicken, contradicting my previous aversion to olives and orange. Oh well.

The watermelon salad was fine (our hostess generously left out the strawberries because she know I don’t care for them), but it remained an odd blend of flavors and textures that I wouldn’t serve to a group of people, and one my roommate flat out didn’t like. I happily cleaned my plate, but no doggie bags, thanks for the offer.

My point is this: I admire this chef’s courage in turning a newspaper recipe into something more palatable, and I’m no worse for the wear in trying the watermelon salad. I’ll read the food section again and try to be as creative in my own kitchen someday.

The highlight of the meal, though, was a cold carrot dish our dinner group first fell in love with during a trip to Portugal in 2002. The Portuguese served finger bowls of these carrots on the table at every meal the same way we serve rolls, and they are just as refreshing as I remember. I took this recipe home with me in lieu of the leftover watermelon salad:

  • 3 carrots, blanched and sliced into rounds
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • parsley
  • 1 glass of red wine vinegar (not the most precise measurements, but it seems foolproof, right?)

Mix carrots with parley and garlic. Add vinegar. Let set for 3 hours before serving.