Ron Haiber, author of the article "Blondes Are Beautiful," says a "well-balanced blonde" has "a lovely appearance and a spectacular body," and that a "natural blonde" would "stun" him.
I'm talking about blonde ale, not women. And if you think I've got an inferiority complex about my dark hair, then think again, baby!
But I'll be totally honest: when it comes to my ale IQ, I am blonde; I know as much about the stuff as I know how to conjugate Russian verbs. Case in point: I have never had more than a few sips of a Corona...and I spit it out. However, I am willing to suck it up and give ale a try.
So, where do I begin?
What's a good kind to try if I'm not used to drinking it? What's the difference between blonde ale and dark ale? I want to know.
I need your help!
(And sorry, blondes; hope I didn't offend you! You're all lovely.)
(Photo courtesy of www.allposters.com)
I've got to take a minute to thank the Proud Italian Cook for mentioning and providing a link to the "pepper-and-egg" scene in Moonstruck (1987), the best romantic comedy ever produced. On a gray winter morning, a listless Rose Castorini (played by the brilliant Olympia Dukakis) cracks an egg and lets it slide into a slice of Italian bread with a hole in the center, then flips it with her spatula to reveal its golden brown backside. Finally, she tops it with roasted red peppers and transfers it to a plate. I could definitely envision miss Giada de Laurentiis closing her eyes and taking a big bite of this on Everyday Italian. I'd like to see her do an episode on the greatest film-inspired dishes.
I could go on and on about the breakfast and dinner scenes in Moonstruck (i.e. where Rose's father-in-law places his plate in his pups' kennel, only for Rose to say, "Old man, you give those dogs another piece of my food and I'm gonna kick ya till you're dead!"), but I'll let you observe (and laugh) for yourself. Watch the following video clip carefully. At dinnertime, when I was about eight, I would imitate the part where Rose's daughter Loretta (played by Cher) nearly slams the salt shaker on the table while arguing with her mother about where she and Johnny Cammareri will live after they get married. I never get tired of the scene.
Please know that I did discover this video clip via the Proud Italian Cook (it's only fair to give her the credit she deserves). Visit her blog to learn how to make what she calls "Moonstruck Eggs." She's got a gorgeous picture of the final product, too. You'll want to make it for breakfast tomorrow morning. Or maybe...just maybe...you'll decide to make it right now.
Lights, Camera, Action:
**A variation: After you've had the fried peppers and eggs, try what Grandma calls (I'll write it phonetically) "goo-gut-zeals" (Italian slang for zucchini). All you do is sauté some sliced zucchini in 1 tbsp. olive oil and scramble a few eggs in the same pan. You can eat this as is or serve hot between two slices of Italian bread. This is a great, quick Friday night supper that is simple but memorable. Enjoy!
Yum's the Word,
Is it SAUCE or GRAVY?
And don't forget to tell us why you call it what you call it.
"To A Poor Old Woman"
by William Carlos Williams
munching a plum on
the street a paper bag
of them in her hand
They taste good to her
They taste good
to her. They taste
good to her
You can see it by
the way she gives herself
to the one half
sucked out in her hand
a solace of ripe plums
seeming to fill the air
They taste good to her
The interesting thing is how passionately we eat and the reasons we eat the way we do. Some say it's hormones, others say it's just extreme hunger. Heck, it seems as though we're not thinking about anything when we scrape the crumbs off our plate except, well, the crumbs on our plate.
But there are so many secret emotions and thoughts--conscious and unconscious--that cause us to eat, as my grandma puts it, with our little hearts and souls.
Emptiness, anxiety, and bitterness invade our lives, but a good piece of fruit is an old faithful: always fulfilling, soothing, and undeniably sweet. I think we sometimes eat to comfort ourselves and forget--to fill the gaps in our lives--while our thoughts and feelings creep up and influence the way we eat. I know, for example, that past cases of writer's block have caused me to stick my hand into the bag of Rold Gold pretzels one too many times.
When a person begins to use food as an opiate and binges on a regular basis due to depression or emotional/spiritual emptiness, then it's time to seek professional help.
But eating in a certain manner--nibbling, crunching, sucking, etc...taking the time to "give ourselves" to our simple meal--is an art.
Just remember the words of Julia Child: "Moderation. Small helpings. Sample a little bit of everything. These are the secrets of happiness and good health."
Go have a piece of fruit sometime today. Whether you like it from the fridge or at room temperature, in small slices or in big bites, take the time to enjoy it by yourself in silence (if you can). Notice what mood you're in and how the smell, taste, and color of the fruit make you feel.
Hmmm...I think I'll go grab a nice cold pear from my fridge.
Yum's the Word,
Coles shares a number of recipes that double as scrubs and snacks, such as the Grape Grapefruit Face Frappe, Raspberry Orange Scrub, Vanilla Peach Cleansing Creme, Blueberry Skin Smoothie, and Rainforest Banana Balm (yum!). You can find most of the ingredients in your fridge and cupboard. Yogurt and honey, which have been used for years as natural cleansing agents, are used in many of these skin treats.
Personally, I am on a mission to try the Coffee and Cocoa Facial Mask.
This is going to be fun! You and your friends should throw a little slumber party and try these feel-good facials, too. For ultimate fun, add some cocktails (or mocktails) and a couple of good flicks. Oh yeah, and don't forget the camera.
Yum's the Word!
P.S. Donna Maria Coles Johnson founded The Indie Beauty Network, which encourages the use of handmade beauty products and helps small businesses to thrive. How awesome is that? You go, girl!
Here's some advice for all you wannabe wine-os: never buy a corkscrew in the 99-cent store. Ever. I don't care if you think it came from a Crate & Barrel odd lot. It's still a piece of crap.
I know the economy isn't currently in a great state, but if you make this investment, you won't have to spend a fortune on a stash of cheap replacements. And that'll save you the money and aggravation.
(Photo courtesy of www.hugsomeone.com)
For however many slices of toast you burned yesterday or will burn today (metaphorically speaking), I'm sorry.
I do feel your pain. I woke up at 6:30 this morning to the sound of neighborhood dogs barking as if Purina Pet Chow had been permanently pulled from the shelves, my one-year-old nephew whining and banging on my door as if I'd hidden his teething ring in my underwear drawer, my mother fumbling around the kitchen looking for God knows what, and my sister swearing and stamping her feet because she slept in and was going to be late for work. My head was just about to explode.
I opened my closet to look for my journal so I could write about how much I already loathed this day. But when I stuck my hand in my bookbag to look for writing materials, I pulled out a small, fat book I'd nearly forgotten about: 14,000 things to be happy about by Barbara Ann Kipfer.
I bought it a few months ago in a bookstore filled with inspirational literature, but had never really given it a thorough read.
In the sixth grade, Kipfer started writing a list of all the thoughts, words, images, people, places, sounds, foods and events that make her smile. Through the years it became a stream-of-consciousness catalog that now spans 612 pages.
Kipfer finds splendor in everything from Dutch butter cookies to isosceles trapezoids. The descriptions and observations for which she praises life are picturesque (i.e. "turquoise umbrellas shading white ironwork tables and chairs"), random (i.e. "buttermilk soap," "actress Hayley Mills," "ankh rings"), uplifting ("learning to like yourself better"), humorously understandable ("the bottom of the sundae glass that you can't quite reach with your spoon," "the place where one sock in every laundry load disappears to"), and curiously delicious ("chicken sautéed in butter with brandy and apricots").
Whether you come across thoughts that spark up childhood memories (i.e. smiling in the mirror after eating Oreo cookies), painful or unpleasant experiences that may have led to your funniest moments with friends (i.e. "getting sunburned on a sailboat," "bad dining hall meals"), kitchen mishaps (lumpy gravy, caved-in cake), lucky circumstances we often fail to appreciate ("meeting someone at the airport," "finding the new People magazine at the hairdresser's"), or supper ideas ("real mashed potatoes, peeled on the premises and veined with melted butter"), this long list will give you whatever it is you're hungry for; it'll serve you a heap of happiness.
Look for it in your local bookstore ($7.95, ISBN: 0-89480-370-0). Instead of complaining about today, let's celebrate it! After all, it's only temporary.
You can take that whichever way you want.
Yum's the Word!
(Photo courtesy of http://www.alibaba.com/)
Thanks to Persephone (and a number of brilliant innovators throughout the centuries), we now have minty-fresh toothpaste, the York Peppermint Patty, and of course, Wrigley's Doublemint Gum. Not to mention mint foot scrubs, shampoos, lipglosses, body sprays, and candles.
Mint also offers a number of health benefits for the body and mind. Not only will a cup of spearmint or peppermint tea soothe an upset stomach, but a whiff of the herb itself tends to enliven the senses and promote a positive mood.
Apparently, it can de-fog your brain, too.
In a 2006 article in a Canadian publication called The Spectator, Virginia Anderson wrote that sucking on peppermint candies could actually stimulate students' minds while taking exams. She points out that in the study of psychology professor Bryan Raudenbush, athletes who inhaled the scent of mint were less fatigued in their performances. Raudenbush confirmed that the smell of peppermint oil increases blood flow and invigorates the mind and body.
And there's nothing like a little cool-mint Listerine to wake up your tongue in the morning.
Here are my three minty-fresh favorites:
1. C.O. Bigelow® Mentha Lip Tint
A perfect pre-kiss lip primer that also works as a breath freshener. It's cool, refreshing, and feels like a gust of wind on your lips. It has a sweet taste (that is, if you accidentally lick it off). Oh yeah, and this one has a hint of pinkish color. No fake or hazardous ingredients. I promise.
2. Trident Summer Spearmint Gum
Spearmint + watermelon = yumminess. Mint gum with a fruity surprise when you bite into it. Best of all, it's sugar free.
3. Aquafresh Extreme Clean Whitening Toothpaste
All I can say is, the commercial is accurate! It does feel like you're giving your mouth a shower when you use it. You taste a bit of menthol, but the paste foams up and little bubbles form around your gums. Not a bad thing.
And now a break from our sponsor...
On the Wonton Food site, you can even purchase a batch with a personalized message.
In addition, you can buy your very own box of 15 for $1.49 at your local supermarket (usually on the bottom shelf in the Asian or international foods aisle). My favorite are the chocolate ones. They taste just like hot cocoa. And guess what, you weight-watchers? You can have five of them for only 110 calories. Beat that!
Here's a little story for you about my fortune cookie fetish...
The last time my family got Chinese takeout and brought it to my house, they all left the table to go chat in the other room--and I was the only one in the dining room to clean up (ugh!). Next to the greasy egg roll crumbs and crispy bits of General Tso's Chicken floating in a pool of thick, amber-colored muck were cracked fortune cookies splayed in paper plates. I wanted to steal the paper messages everyone had left behind, but I thought it might be bad karma since they weren't mine. But since I didn't think there was any rule against snatching the abandoned cookie fragments, I surreptitiously slid each crunchy shard off the table and into my mouth. Nobody noticed, nobody cared. Mission accomplished.
Not only do I look forward to munching on the sweet wonton-like shell that envelops a secret slip of paper, but I could découpage a wall with all the fortunes I've saved throughout the years. I carry a few of the positive ones in my wallet, hide some in random places for a pleasant surprise later on, and hand some to people who are having a bad day. It's like giving Golden Tickets to all the poor little Charlies out there.
Here's a few extras:
To play a fun fortune cookie game, click here.
If you crave fortune cookies but can't get to a Chinese restaurant, make your own! Tyler Florence's recipe is my favorite. I made them on Christmas Eve, and inserted jingles about each member of my family. Each person took a cookie and had to guess the person for whom each message was written. A guaranteed crack-up fest!
Listed below are other sites where you can buy personalized fortune cookies:
The history of fortune cookies, according to the New York Times. A well written, informative article by Jennifer Lee of the Dining and Wine section. Published January 16, 2008.
Yum's the Word,
Ever get bored of plain old cream cheese, butter, or jam? Looking for something sweet but unique to spread on your bread?Try using some Greek yogurt. My favorite brand is Fage (pronounced "fah-yeh"). It has a thicker, creamier consistency than regular yogurt. And trust me...it's way better.
Karen Hochman, editor of a fabulous food site called The Nibble, raves about Fage and gives a pretty thorough, enjoyable review of the company's other products.
When you're done reading Hochman's article, come back over here. Try mixing the following in a small bowl:
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons peanut butter
Slather this all over your slice of toast or bagel.
*Here's a few other ideas:
1. Serve as a light, refreshing dip for pear or apple slices
2. Spoon mixture into a small cup, refrigerate for 20 minutes, and serve as a mousse
3. Add 1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder and/or cinnamon for a decadent treat
*For the summertime:
Blend 1/2 cup canned pineapple chunks with some of the pineapple juice and 1/4 cup flaked coconut.
Add a few spoons of this to 1/2 cup Fage and stir. Spread onto toast or graham crackers.
Put the rest in a bowl and pop into the freezer. About 45-50 minutes later, you'll have a tropical "frozen yogurt" treat.
Yummmmmm's the Word!
This morning, while cleaning my room, I came across a Billy Collins poem I tore out of the New York Times Magazine a few months ago. It's called "The Fish."
I don't remember exactly when I first saw it. It's dated November 25, 2007, but with my luck, I probably discovered it on a Lenten Friday after chowing down my own piscatorial supper.
Collins, whose images are so crisp, knows just how to stir the Italian guilt already ingrained in me. And he does it in the simplest yet wittiest way.
Let's just say I didn't eat at Red Lobster for a while.
And I feel sorry for you, too —
even after the waiter removed my plate
See what I mean?
P.S. Billy Collins is a genius. Please read some of his stuff.
(Photo courtesy of www.vpul.upenn.edu)
-M. F. K. Fisher
Many who call themselves "hopeless romantics" have sipped, nibbled and licked everything from champagne and oysters to chocolate covered strawberries.
But regardless of how classic these common room-service aphrodisiacs may be, this is 2008, baby. It's time to step up your game and check out some of the latest libido-enhancing edibles. They're cute, sexy and oh-so-fun. Ridiculous? Maybe a bit. But tell me, when was the last time a little giggle marred your love life?
Gourmet Sleuth has certainly done some wonderful detective work. Check out the list of "deliciously fun" romantic gifts such as chocolate body tattoos. Who says you have to save these for Valentine's Day? Hurry up and get some before they melt in the summer heat!
If you're not into sweets, this site includes a fully-detailed list of common aphrodisiacs and a link to the perfect romantic breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert recipes.
One of my favorites on the list is Sex and the Kitchen, where you can find hottie Chef Andrea Froncillo's ideas for exotic, sensual dishes that'll make you drool.
Take a look at:
Lavender Encrusted Pork Tenderloin w/ Spicy Grilled Pineapple, Homemade Limoncello, and...goodness gracious...Cinnamon Glazed Pears Filled with Hazelnut Chocolate Cream.
I think I need to go grab a towel. I've begun to sweat a bit.
In the meantime, the following sites will be sure to satisfy your appetite:
Goodbye, Godiva. Hello, DeLafée Edible Gold
And because it's so appropriate, I had to include the classic "Summer Lovin'" video from Grease! Enjoy.
I'll meet you back here later ;)
Do you have a favorite tomato sauce/gravy recipe you'd like to share? Email me at email@example.com or post it on this site!
I would love to know what you think.
This tough woman I speak of--my great-great Nonna Vincenza--came to America at age 23, but never learned a word of English. According to Grandma, though, Nonna's suppers were virtually indescribable; the only language at Nonna's tables was a combination of sounds: cheeks bulging and contracting, teeth chomping on farm-fresh chicken and potatoes, and forks clanking against one another as my great aunts and uncles fought over the pan-scrapings.
But arguably, Nonna Vincenza's best recipe is the gravy she passed down to my great-grandma Evelyn (Mama Ev), who taught Grandma how to make it.
Yesterday I was lucky enough to learn the recipe, and I'm excited to share it with you today.
But first, let's get one thing straight. I have to use the word "gravy" because my Neopolitan family members (or as they pronounce it, "nubbly-don") would chase after me and hit me with wooden spoons if I called it "tomato sauce." They think "sauce" is an American ("middigon") word, and they'd gag me with a "mopeen" if I said it in their presence.
Contrary to what you might believe, not all Italians think alike. For example, my know-it-all guido pal Ed believes gravy is the stuff you pour over turkey and stuffing. He said the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of gravy is "a sauce made from the thickened and seasoned juices of cooked meat." According to him, when it comes to the red, tomatoey substance with which you eat pasta, "It's sauce, baby!"
Thanks, Eddie. Mama Ev is probably rolling around in her grave after that comment.
This is enough to strike up a civil war.
But in all seriousness, Grandma technically can call her red tomato stuff "gravy" because cooked beef (meatballs) and pork are added to it for complexity, texture, and flavor.
So here's the recipe. Try it! As they say in my family, just sit down, shut up and eat!
And I mean that in most loving way :)
Grandma's "Don't You Dare Call It Sauce" Gravy Recipe
What You'll Need:
1 yellow onion, sliced
What to do:
In a large saucepan, on high heat, caramelize onion in about 2-3 tbsp olive oil.
If necessary, add an extra 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sear the boneless spareribs (they should be golden brown on the outside).
Add tomatoes, garlic, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper.
While this mixture simmers, get ready to prepare your meatballs in a separate bowl and fry them up in a separate, long pan.
1 1b. fresh, lean ground beef mixed with part ground pork (I usually substitute with lean ground turkey...just as delicious)
Combine all ingredients in bowl, mix with clean hands, roll into 2-3 inch-long balls and fry in vegetable or canola oil until outsides are crispy.
Turn off the heat.
Add meatballs to simmering gravy and slow-cook on the stovetop for 3 hours.
Spareribs and meatballs will become tender and begin to break apart.
Serve over pasta, and try not to fight over the spareribs!
If you're like me, you'll want to pour some into a bowl and slurp it up like soup (yes, it might sound gross to you, but I can't get enough of it).
Yum's (definitely) the Word,