Cinnamon Raisin Toast & Apple… Hedonist pic of the Day

Archived: February, 2010 | Related topics: , , ,

Why American cheese is evil

Archived: February, 2010 | Related topics: , ,

Real, yummy cheddar cheese

When I was growing up, the only cheese we had was your standard block of mild cheddar cheese. You know, real cheese. I would go to friends houses and they would have this weird and gross impostor cheese that was individually wrapped. (I think this contributed to my refusal to spend the night at friends houses. The risk for “fake cheese” as I called it was too high.) I never asked about it, probably because I grew up with some manners and didn’t want to be rude. (Thanks Mom!)

Fast forward to my early twenties and I am ordering a hamburger. I politely ask if they use “real” cheese, which  seems like a very straightforward question to me. They say yes, and then my burger comes out with fake cheese! This goes on for over a year before my then boyfriend explained that the “fake cheese” had a name. American cheese. All these years I had been asking if they used fake cheese, and no one bothered to tell me it had a flipping name! But at least I had a title for my nemesis.

I really, really hate American cheese. The smell makes me nauseous, the texture is awful, I could go on and on. The only good thing American cheese has done for me was to initiate a needed break up. It was our first trip to the store together, and he bought American cheese. I went home and really accessed the relationship. Upon reflection the guy was a raging alcoholic and kind of an asshole, but it could have taken years for me to notice that had it not been for the American cheese incident.

I have a new friend that doesn’t know anything about food, and it’s been really fun to feed him new food and expose him to stuff he’s never tried before. When we first started hanging out he told me that he didn’t really see the difference between American cheese and “real” cheese. He had grown up with American and it seemed natural to eat it. I bit my tongue and hoped that given enough time he would come around.

So last night we were having dinner and he said that he understood “the cheese thing.” He said that it drove him crazy how people mindlessly listen to the radio, when the music is terrible! Being a musician this is something that strikes a chord with him.  (See what I did there, musician, chord…!) Anyway, he said that people listen to the radio because they don’t know what great music is out there, and they have always just listened to top 40. He realized that it is the same with cheese, and food in general.

We do things the way we were raised and most of us never think about it. I know this was the case with me. The only reason I ever tried new food was because I wanted to impress a guy! Up until my early twenties I thought butter was only for Christmas and Thanksgiving, I only ate ranch dressing etc… It never occurred to me to wander in the supermarket and try couscous or an artichoke. It took an outside force to get me to loosen up and take a risk.

It may sound weird, but I am soooo proud that I helped someone come to a realization like that. It sounds small, but who knows what other areas that idea will manifest itself in! (I mean, he could one day claim something other than pizza as his favorite food. Crazy.) And even if that’s all that comes of it, if one less person eats “fake” cheese, I’m a happy girl.



Gumbo – Definition

Archived: February, 2010 | Related topics: , , , , ,

[GUHM-boh] The CREOLE specialty is a mainstay of New Orleans cuisine. It’s a thick, stew-like dish that can have any of many ingredients, including vegetables such as OKRA, tomatoes and onions, and one or several meats or shellfish such as chicken, sausage, ham, shrimp, crab or oysters. The one thing all good gumbos begin with is a dark ROUX, which adds an unmistakable, incomparably rich flavor. Okra serves to thicken the mixture, as does FILE POWDER, which must be stirred in just before serving after the pot’s off the fire. The famous gumbo z’herbes (with herbs) was once traditionally served on Good Friday and contains at least seven greens (for good luck) such as spinach, mustard greens, collard greens and so on. The name gumbo is a derivation of the African word for “Okra.”

Grilling out… Hedonist Pic of the day

Archived: February, 2010 | Related topics: , ,

Filé powder – Definition

Archived: February, 2010 | Related topics: , , , ,

[FEE-lay; fih-LAY] Choctaw Indians from the Louisiana bayou country are said to have been the first users of this seasoning made from the ground, dried leaves of the sassafras tree. It’s since become an integral part of CREOLE COOKING and is used the thicken and flavor GUMBO and other Creole dishes. Filé has a woodsy flavor reminiscent of root beer. It must be stirred into a dish after it’s removed from the heat because undue cooking make Filé tough and stringy. Filé powder is available in the spice or gourmet section of most large supermarkets. As with all spices, it should be stored in a cool, dark place for no more than 6 months.



The Quest for Sourdough in East Tennessee

Archived: February, 2010 | Related topics: , , , , ,

As most of you know, I’m from Northern California, and now live in Knoxville Tennessee. Since I’ve moved here I’ve been really bothered by the lack of quality sourdough bread. I went through all the stages of grief.

  • Denial: I’m sure it’s here, I just haven’t been to the right store yet.
  • Anger: How the hell can a town of this size not have a single loaf of good sourdough?!?! No wonder the south lost the Civil War!
  • Bargaining: I mean, if I have to go to another town, that would be ok. There has to be some in East Tennessee somewhere, right?
  • Depression: What does it matter… I may as well start buying Sara Lee bread, life sucks anyway.
  • Acceptance: I guess it only makes sense that there is a cost to getting to eat hush puppies and fried green tomatoes. Sourdough bread must be that cost…

Then on Saturday at work, I finally learned the truth. It isn’t that Knoxvillians are just evil and refuse to make me the sourdough bread of my youth. They can’t. San Francisco style sourdough bread can only be made in SF. The yeast in the air is different, and with sourdough bread, the yeast in the air will make or break your dough.

I feel more at peace now that I know what’s really going on. Thank you to my boss, Vanessa, for letting me know. SF sourdough, like the sight of the Golden Gate bridge in the fog, or large groups of leather daddies singing show tunes can only be had in San Francisco. And maybe that’s what makes those things so special….

For more info on magical sourdough, check out this article from The Science of Cooking.

Emulsion – Definition

Archived: February, 2010 | Related topics: , , , , , , , ,

A mixture of one liquid with another with which it cannot normally combine smoothly-oil and water being the classic example. Emulsifying is done by slowly (sometimes drop-by-drop) adding one ingredient to another while at the same time mixing rapidly. this disperses and suspends minute droplets of one liquid throughout the other. Emulsified mixtures are usually thick and satiny in texture. Mayonnaise (an uncooked combination of oil, egg yolks and vinegar or lemon juice) and hollandaise (a cooked mixture of butter, egg yolks and vinegar or lemon juice) are two of the the best known emulsions.

(Side note: This is one of my favorite things to do. It is so freaking gratifying!)
Random fact: As a general rule, 3/4 of a cup of oil can be emulsified into one large egg. If you’re new at this, I’d stick with 1/2 cup, just to be on the safe side.

Grilled Cheese Hamburger?!?!

Archived: February, 2010 | Related topics: , , , , , , , , , , ,

A friend of a friend told me about something he made the other day at work: A grilled cheese burger. What is that you ask? Well, it is two grilled cheese sandwiches that are used as the buns for a hamburger.

I know, right? Doesn’t that make you want to cry it sounds so totally over the top and wonderful? I understand that it is pushing the envelope, but to each his own. Personally, I have every intention of trying it at some point. I don’t think I could handle it on a regular basis, but I cannot live without having carnal knowledge of that meal.

Just sit and think about it for a little bit…. And if you live near me, and are man enough, lets plans a cookout in early spring and make this happen.

P.S. My friend John just told me about this burger that takes it even a step further at Vortex in Atlanta:

DOUBLE BYPASS BURGER
Twice as big as the Coronary Bypass (which is a half pound!) Topped with
two fried eggs, six slices of American cheese, and
eight slices of bacon, all served between the two
grilled cheese sandwiches that we use in place of
the regular hamburger buns.

(Thanks Eric for the original inspiration. You are a true hedonist.)

Savory – Definition

Archived: February, 2010 | Related topics: ,

A term describing food that is not sweet but rather piquant and full flavored.

Great Food Blog – Kiss my Spatula

Archived: February, 2010 | Related topics: , , ,

I bow down to this gorgeous food blog

Thanks to amazing Ellyn for this link. Sometimes I just want to kiss you on the mouth for all the wonderful things you post. So effing inspiring!