Thursday, October 20, 2011

Just say "No" to bland white fish

Tilapia's a recent addition to the American dinner table, and if you don't mind buying it from China, quite the deal.  But where's the zest?

Saute one rather finely sliced onion, one red or orange or yellow bell pepper (too many green bell peppers spoiled the foods of my childhood) and a teaspoon or so of minced garlic in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Cook on low until soft, say at least ten minutes.  Add  four diced tomatoes, cover and let the vegetables cook down, over low.

Once the tomatoes have self-destructed into sauce,  add a tablespoon of capers and a tablespoon or more of sliced green olives.  Then gently lay your boneless, skinless filets of tilapia over the vegetables, and again gently, cook covered on low, until the filets are cooked through. Not sure how to judge that?  The fish will flake when prodded with a fork.

Serve over rice and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why I am a bad consumer

The other day I needed to replace something.  I realize "something" is vague; for the purposes of this exploration let's call it the sturdy hand towel, that has graced my downstairs bathroom for years, or perhaps it was a search for a bright shiny saucepan to replace the one that's been seasoned perfectly and dented by years of use.   No matter, I had a mission.

There is a problem living in a quiet neighborhood.  Most other places qualify as  sensory overload, and so it was with my excursion.  It was not the cinnamon scented Yankee candles, it was not the rows of Thanksgiving knicks and knacks, nor the spry and fey Santas so festively garlanded.  Nope.  It was the announcers coming from the tv monitors.

The announcers, certain of my reluctance to buy and incompetence in using their products, stalked me through the rows and aisles.  They insisted I learn how to build a gingerbread train using their kit; how to set a perfect table; how to fold a napkin; how to use a swiffer; how to competently snap shut their storage boxes, how to use a magazine rack, over and over and over again.  I surrendered my credit cards to the first store clerk I came across, and fled.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Musical Detour

Perhaps you missed LA Opera's version of "Cosi fan Tutte."
It was based on the Glyndebourne Festival's version.
See of clip of that here

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Food for Thought

In the spirit of Altadena Hiker, a haunting tune.
Swedish, by origin, and the lyrics are about wandering far and wide,
with a lunch made of blue and yellow milk, bread without butter or cheese.
How ignorant I am, when I asked the student who introduced me to this song.
What does blue and yellow milk mean?
Rancid, she answered.
Even Sweden had its moments.

Right here.

Monday, October 3, 2011


It seemed a simple enough recipe, from my trustee go-to book in all things Italian, by Marcella Hazan.  For years I'd sliced chicken breasts lengthwise, thin filets cooking in minutes, tender and juicy. This particular recipe called for doing that, and filling them with a ground pork mixture.  Check.  Then it called for tying up the bundles "like a roast."

I don't know how you tie up a roast.  How hard could that be?
Since my hands were sticky with raw chicken and my stomach growling with hunger, I didn't bother to google it.  I had the appropriate twine in my utility drawer, and, I, which I thought was rather nifty and farsighted, cut said twine into six long strands.  I then proceeded to bundle up raw chicken, cooked pork, supplemented by, when necessary, toothpicks.

I should have remembered that I use gift bags--not gift wrap.  With all the pork filling spilling out I felt like I was trussing a mobius strip.

Never mind!  I moved forward, sauteeing the little suckers, er, bundles, which Marcella reminded me should cook rather quickly.  I cooked them longer than I thought necessary, and then a little longer for good luck.

My dinner companions cut through the twine, removed the toothpicks, and sliced up their savory chicken bundles to reveal raw meat.  Through and through.  Bravely, they microwaved what was on their plate.
So did I.  Now it tasted like a chicken who had died in vain.  I scraped it back into the pan and made my dinner of spinach, Ceasar salad, and viognier.  Lots of viognier.