Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thoughts, Deep and Otherwise...

As I plodded to the subway after a torturously long and slow double shift yesterday, my exhausted brain managed to crank out some rather important thinking. Here it is:

I need to get over the fact that my life isn't what I want it to be, and instead of being quietly miserable, do something about it.


This type of thinking is what landed me in Grad School the last time, and while I was certainly enriched by the experience, I must reluctantly admit that, just maybe, I didn't choose the right course of study to get where I want to be--teaching college. So, it's ime to make an appointment to take the GRE, thus forcing myself to study for it, get those PhD applications in order, and...

...get over the insecurity and fear of rejection that has kept me from entering any academic program that requires an audition. The worst that can happen is that they say No. It will suck, but it won't kill me. Thus, I am applying to Yale's MFA Program. Because if I'm going to kick my fear in the ass, why not do it on the grandest scale possible? An MFA will also qualify me to teach college, fulfilling the "Get my life on the right track" course of action that I am determined to, once again, undertake, with the added bonus of offering the kind of experiential learning that is lacking from the more academically-oriented doctoral programs.

In other words, I'm just going to keep trying until I get it right. Or until the Federal Government refuses to give me any more Education Loans. (Though in my defense, I am only applying to programs that offer the sort of financial aid that will cover all or most of my expenses, thus adding comparatively little to my already massive debts.)

And, on the not so deep scale, I need to decide if it's really worth flirting with a guy I work with, no matter how attractive he may be. True, he's just working in the kitchen for a few months and is therefore technically not my superior (because I am NOT repeating the "Alcoholic Coke-Head Chef Incident," or any variations thereof, EVER AGAIN)... but he is the owner's younger brother, and therefore exists on a sort of plane unto himself.

He's also young.

Which I'm willing to overlook.

Because he's hot.

He'd been around for awhile, but I wasn't attracted to him until yesterday when I actually talked to him for awhile. Not gonna lie, it may have more to do with his British accent than his chewable lower lip, but a little spark kicked off in the back of my brain. It could also be that it's PMS week and my hormones are firing off like mad. I have a sneaking suspicion that, were I to just go for it, I could probably reel him in with little difficulty, but the thought of doing so under the gaze of the entirely female floor staff makes my skin crawl. I'd feel like some sort of exhibit at the Mean Girls Zoo.

There is a downside to having an all female staff. For the most part, I stay out of the drama, but overtly flirting with the boss's hot brother would decidedly land me in the middle of it.

Probably best just to covertly flirt with him to pass the time, and not worry about it.

Because clearly, I have enough to think about already.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Of Noodles, Ingenuity, and Following Instructions

I know. I know. I keep promising to stop being such a terrible blogger, and then I go right ahead and fail to post for an entire two weeks, which--barring the time I spent out of the country--is pretty much a record.

So this time, instead of handing you more empty promises to stop sucking, I have decided to accept the fact that, for the time being anyway, I am a crappy blogger. Not that I haven't crafted a dozen posts in my head while far, far away from my computer. I have. Scores of them. I just never seem to get around to sitting down and typing them up when I get home.

Massive blogger FAIL.

Besides, you really don't want to hear me whining about how I feel like a failure for being a waitress with a Masters Degree, which is what largely occupies my thoughts as of late. I'm sure you'd much rather see what I got up to in my kitchen on my day off yesterday, right?

That's what I thought.

Speaking of my kitchen, here it is, in all it's teeny-tiny glory.

See that little splash of colour in the bottom left corner? That's a pillow on my couch. My apartment? Is tiny. And this little closet of a kitchen is where the magic happens, with the help of a rolling island that lives in my livingroom and spends two-thirds of its time covered in junk mail and other assorted detritus, shown here in a rare moment of functionality:

Just thought I'd give you an idea of what it is I have to work with.


Yesterday I found Heaven, and it is called Fairway, aka the most fabulously awesome grocery store EVER.

What makes it so awesome? Well for starters nestled on its shelves I found Blackcurrant Red Wine Vinegar. What am I going to do with that? No idea. But it was ONLY FOUR DOLLARS! Combine that with a selection of every. single. product. milled by Bob's Red Mill, and I? Am one happy freaking frog.

Especially since my pregnant Latvian co-worker has been missing the food of her homeland, affording me the perfect opportunity to try my hand at smitten kitchen's black bread recipe, and it's staggeringly complex list of ingredients.

Once the shopping trip was over--I admittedly went a little nutso in the Fairway and decided to treat myself to a cab ride home, thus entrusting myself to the care of THE WORST CAB DRIVER EVER. Seriously. We were on 125th. I told him we were going to 199th. He tried to go South. Then he tried to turn into the Sanitation Department, thinking it was a street--I lugged my treasures up five flights of stairs and dove into bread-making land.

True to Deb's word, the bread itself is remarkably easy to make once the ingredients are assembled, and the results? Are just lovely.

The round loaf is for the afore mentioned co-worker, and the loaf? That's for me.

If we're being honest, I think this loaf has just a little too much caraway for me, and when I make it again (because trust me, I most definitely will) I will probably cut the amount in half, and perhaps add some more shallots, but on the whole? This bread is absolutely lovely, has a really great texture, and I'm betting it will be fabulous toasted and topped with cream cheese.

While the bread was on its first rise, I set about making my dinner: Red Wine Braised Short Ribs, from Ted Allen's "The Food You Want to Eat", which I had pulled off the shelf on a whim earlier that day.

I don't have any prep photos from this dish, mostly because I was on the phone with Therapeutic Ramblings (whom I've known since the first day of Freshman Orientation at Undergrad College, many moons ago) while I was cooking, and two tasks at once is about my limit, at least where hot stoves and spitting fat are concerned.

A note here on following instructions:

The recipe stated to brown the short ribs for 12-15 minutes on med-high and turn down the heat if the bottom of the pan started to burn. Well, I started out on more of a medium heat to begin with, as my crappy electric stove (probably the only one in NYC--I HATE ELECTRIC STOVES!!) tends to cook hotter than gas. So, when the pan started to burn around 7 minutes, and the ribs appeared brown, I decided that was good enough and moved on to the next step.

I shouldn't have.

See, the browning process not only serves to sear the juices into the meat, but also to render the fat from what is a very fatty cut. Because I only browned the meat for half of the allotted time, a few of the pieces retained a large amount of fat, resulting in a fattier broth, and a few pieces of meat that were largely inedible.

That being said, since I was only feeding myself, there was still plenty of edible meat left to feed me and leave leftovers, so it was not a fatal error. Just an irritating one.

Right, back to the timeline...

When the ribs were set to braising on a rear burner I took a moment to shape my bread loaves and set them to the second rise, and then set about my final preparation for the evening: Homemade egg noodles.

The recipe for these darlings, which I halved, is super simple:

Egg Noodles
2 1/2 c. flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. milk, warmed
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
Pinch salt.

Combine ingredients in a large bowl. Knead until smooth, approx 5 minutes. Let rest covered in plastic wrap for 10 minutes. Roll out and cut. Allow to dry before cooking in lightly salted boiling water.

See? Told you it was easy.

The original recipe called to roll out the dough with a rolling pin to either 1/4 or 1/8 inch and then cut, but since K bequeathed me a snazzy pasta maker--and I like my noodles thin--I rolled out the dough to the #6 setting and then cut wide noodles with a pizza cutter... which is probably how I ended up with a whole lot more than the 2 servings the recipe claimed it would make.

What's that you say? What is that snazzy device on which my noodles are drying? Well...'s a clothes-drying rack, set up in the middle of my livingroom. Necessity is the mother of invention. Or so I'm told. Please, ignore the mess in the background.

About halfway through the noodle-cutting process, the bread loaves went into the oven to bake for approx 45 minutes. The lid came off the braising pot to allow the sauce to thicken, and then, finally, the noodles went into the pot.

Here they are, looking all buttery and fabulous.

Et viola! Red Wine Braised Short Ribs, served over Fresh, Buttered Egg Noodles.

And despite my failure to follow instructions, they were still delicious, eaten at my coffee table while watching Glee and drinking the half bottle of wine left over from the recipe.

So there you have it: I can cook a feast in a closet, knit a sweater, and I'm hot. Yet I'm still single. How does this equation add up? Well, my friends, that's a blog post for another day...