Friday, December 17, 2010

Hockey, French Fries and other Family Matters

I remember my Grandpa Herbie once telling me that he could easily eat french fries at every meal. This was funny to me because a) my grandmother was the best cook ever (yes, way better than your grandmother) and b) I was, like, DUDE-GRANDPA, ME TOO!

We had 3 orders of fries this past weekend. One while watching the Whalers’ game in Danbury. The fries were great. I don’t know who won the game.

JustAwesome was (apparently) standing on the ice
during the game. I sat in the bleachers.

So, I decided to go back on my Weight Watchers plan, you know, get strict with it. With few PointsPlus values left for last night’s dinner, I made a roasting tray which JA then slow-cooked with some eggs for a More-Vegetable-Than-Egg-Frittata ala Bittman. Served with a large salad. It was so tasty and warming. Perfect. So perfect I decided to have it again for lunch but I didn’t have the patience to slow-cook the egg so mine was more of a scramble.

And I had enough PPVs left over for 2 gingerbread cookies (Lebovitz) from one of JA’s practice batches for her work Cookie Swap. I love that I live with someone who does practice batches!

Gingerbread cookies. Lebovitz

Midnight Crackles. Greenspan

Incidently, I lost 3 pounds this week. Thank you, Weight Watchers!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Love Spell

On Saturday afternoon we took a trip uptown to Kalustyan’s, a beautiful spice store on Lexington, which incidentally (or, oddly), is where Vice President Chester Arthur was sworn in as President when Garfield died from gunshot wounds.

JustAwesome picked up some star anise, burdock, sarsaparilla, mint and whoknowswhat. In a pot they all went (with the nose hair of a small statured man and the ear wax of a Siamese cat). From the other room I heard a cackle or two. She magically turned our water into seltzer, mixed with the aforementioned concoction, and we had homemade freakin’ root beer. NO WAY!!! JA made root beer! All natural! I am under her spell.

Tonight for dessert? Root beer floats. What else?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pomegranate Party!

The pomegranates arrived on Wednesday. Almost immediately I started to worry that they’d end up in our
new compost bin because I had this idea that they were impossible to deal with—way beyond me and not worth the hassle. What? I did a few quick searches on the interwebs, watched a video, and now I have a lovely bowl of healthy antioxidants. It took a few minutes, and no my hands didn’t get stained.

Pear and pomegranate salad? Or a pomegranate vinaigrette? Pomegranate martinis or a pomegranate granita? I can’t decide. I think I’ll eat this one straight up for dessert tonight. Fresh fruit is FREE on the new Weight Watcher’s Plan, you know.

What should I do with my other one?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Seventh Generation

We all recycle. Big deal. When JustAwesome found me four years ago, that is just about all I was doing. Fair Trade? Local? Organic? What are those words? I had no idea. I’ve come a long way, baby. These are some of the tiny, little things we’ve started doing that we hope will make an inpact. Do these things help? I have no idea.

Of course, we live in Manhattan—don’t own cars, don’t have children—our carbon footprints are pretty small. We do a little traveling and when we can, when we remember, we try to offset our carbon emissions. Do these things help? I have no idea. I just try to do what I feel good about. I try to picture the planet still being here for my nieces and nephews’ offspring and their offspring and so on. For seven generations, as the Native American do, as best as I can. (Ok, I was an American Studies (double) major. One of my professors was Oren Lyons, Chief of the Onondogas. It made a big impression on me). Can I do more? Most definitely. I’m not trying to pretend that there isn’t room for improvement. I’m just doing what I can reasonably do.

I watched No Impact Man. You should, too. He is a little annoying, but he was doing what he could. He was trying something. He admitted that he did it to get work, as a project, as a challenge. He wasn’t trying to be noble. And people gave him crap for it, which is odd. Why be mad at someone who is trying something?


Gold cones. Still using filters? Really? I love not buying filters. They’re silly and wasteful. In my opinion.

Cloth napkins. No, you don’t have to iron them. In fact, the more you wash them, the better! I like the ones from Sur La Tabla. I think they’re 4 for $9.99. Bright, fun colors. If the meal isn’t particularly messy we put napkin rings on them and reuse a second time. (One ring for me, two for JA)

Reducing paper/plastic bag use. Bring your own bags. It is very easy. I think all supermarkets should give an incentive for this. $.10 off. $.5 off. We have an awesome cart that we lugged back from France a few years ago. Not your Granny’s cart. Pretty pale blue. You can even get an insulated one. Great for the Farmers’ Markets. Great for lugging local growlers home from Whole Foods.

Batteries. For most things we use rechargeable. It is a big layout all at once but you never really have to buy batteries anymore. For everything else (hearing aids, smoke detectors), we recycle. Whole Foods does it. Ikea. Walgreens. Imagine if everyone used rechargeable batteries on all of their kids’ toys? Or (better yet) imagine they didn’t allow their kids to have toys with batteries? You know, you can make limits. I had one hand-held video game that a friend gave me. The 9-volt battery lasted for 25 years. No joke. It just stopped working recently.

Plastic bottles/Metal bottles. So, apparently plastic recycling is not great. Paper is much better. At this point, plastic recycling reduces a lot of waste into a-little-bit-less lot of waste. Boo. Your 5 minute refreshment lasts how long? JA uses these. And stop refilling your plastic ones. Full of bacteria and leaching. Blech.

Plastic bags. I’m guilty of this. I wrap things in sandwich bags, storage bags, freezer bags. But I am trying to rely more and more on Tupperware. Working on it. I rinse and reuse.

Seltzer. If you drink a lot of this (I don’t really but love gadgets), you must do this one little thing. It is so easy. Like the batteries, big layout at first but...

Wine. File this under “I have no idea if this is true or makes a difference” but we generally drink wine that comes from France and Italy rather than the West Coast. By boat rather than by train. Ideally we’d keep it local—keep it east coast—but we are human.

Green products. Do Seventh Generation products make a difference? I don’t know. I don’t want to find out if they don’t. Things cost a little more but I waste plenty of money on sillier things. I thought it was fun bellying up at the soap bar with my dishsoap container. I think it was about $.12 a litter or something.


Mail. Quit your job and spend three months on the phone, calling every company and asking them not to send your their catalogs and to email your statements. It is painstaking work, doesn’t work super-well, but will make you feel like a hero. I promise you.

Composting. We just started this tonight. Considering that we filled up our 3 gallon bin completely during the preparation of one single meal, I’m thinking that maybe we are good candidates for this action. Hopefully it doesn’t suck the soul out of me. Wish me luck.


Lightbulbs. I haven’t gotten around to this yet.

Biodegradable doggy bags. I will start to use these. I promise. They offer such deals on the other bags, I will try to resist. I know, I shouldn’t use bags at all, but I believe that not everything is about the planet. There are so many people that go through the garbage in NYC, I really feel that it is the most humane thing to do. See? I’m all about doing what I can, doing what I feel right about.

Happy Thanksgiving. Think of the Seventh Generation to come. Do what you can reasonably do.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sunday Sauce

Sauce in Progress. Notice how I am lovingly
hugging the pasta from Eataly!

While I had absolutely nothing to do with last night’s dinner, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention what was without a doubt, hands-down, the best sauce ever to go through the Feral kitchen. JustAwesome has been eager to make the Sunday Sauce from her The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual since the book arrived in July. Here is her old post.

While it takes a really long time to cook (the timeline has you starting at 7am, after mass, as Nonna would’ve done), there isn’t actually a ton involved in making this sauce. And the results were phenomenal. Again, this is such a beautiful and funny/sweet cookbook. It’d make a great gift, even for yourself.

Pasta with Frankies’ Sunday Sauce and
Eggplant Marinara (salad and wine not shown)

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Whole New Ballgame

Last night I tried a new recipe for cauliflower. I used scallions instead of chives but oohyummy! I don’t think I used much more oil than I would in an ordinary roasting tray and the lemon zest just hit it out of the ballpark. A home run!

Served with the usual suspects:
broiled chilean sea bass, sautéed swiss chard, wine (local stuff brought over by a Feral cousin from France. Thanks, Dan! Goosebumps!)

Happy Anniversary, JustAwesome! Four more years! Four more years!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Soup, there it is!

Smoked Ricotta with arugula, oil and sea salt, kale chips,
Ginger-Carrot Soup (with potato) and salad. Ok, and wine.

The weather isn’t exactly frightful yet, but still, I am beginning to crave warmth. I want soup. I have to force myself not to go out for ramen everyday. And I have got to start eating a little healthier... I have visions of Richard Simmons having to break through my 14th floor window to rescue me.

My favorite soup to make isn’t necessarily my favorite soup. It is a Ginger-Carrot Soup. I love it because it is so easy to make and there are, like, 5 things in it. Simple and good. You can make a lot and freeze in portions so you don’t get sick of it—an easy lunch. It’d probably go well with a lunch muffin! And you don’t have to be precious when doing any of the cutting because it gets puréed* at the end.

Also, it solves the problem of too many carrots. We get a bag of carrots each week from our veggie box. Normally this is doable—we have carrot sticks for snack or throw some on a roasting tray for a side. It isn’t stressful. Unless we are lax one week. And they pile up. And I panic. Unless I make this soup.

Menu: Tiny baguette with smoked ricotta, arugula, oil & salt. Kale chips. Salad. Carrot-Ginger soup with potato. Wine. Beer.

What did I learn? I could’ve added more potato to the soup, to make it a little thicker. I’m not complaining. It was good. I overcooked the bread, maybe because they were such small pieces. The kale chips are fun to eat though not totally satisfying. But it felt like we had a ton of food, but it was all really healthy. I think I used about a dozen vegetables for this meal. And honestly, I can’t remember the last time I got sick. Knock on wood.

*I like to use a hand blender/immersion tool. Makes every soup have that creamy greatness, without the cream!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What We Had For Dinner Last Night

My favorite thing about living in New York* is that I can walk to a fresh pasta store. With no idea what to make for dinner, I knew I wanted to finish up our weekly veggie box before the next batch arrived. They have so many different kinds of pasta there, all fresh: raviolis, tortellinis, cannellonis. I went for a wide fettucini (or was it a narrow parpardelle?) which I know JustAwesome loves. Although the store smelled amazing because they make their own marinara, I held firm and didn’t buy any. I really wanted to get that last batch of spinach in some kind of pasta dish. I couldn’t deal with yet another side of spinach—sautéed in garlic, like I always do...

I heated up some oil with some spicy flakes of whoknowswhat, tossed in some onions & garlic, browned some Trader Joe’s meatless sausage for a little protein (I cut these way too small!), blanched then tossed in the spinach, likewise with the pasta. Topped with freshly grated pecorino.

The verdict? Yum! Fresh pasta is always yum! Was it my best dish? No, not really. But it was a good, satisfying, warming meal. Ate with a lovely salad and some vino. And, I tried something I hadn’t done before, spent about $3, used up the spinach, and accomplished all of this without calling JA fifty times at work to discuss. The ultimate verdict? Success.

With all of this fresh pasta at my beck and call, I still want to take this pasta making class with our pizza guru. I had one of his pasta dishes once at Beer Table and dream about it. Often...

*Ok, maybe not my favorite thing... and probably not my best post either. But hey, that’s what we had for dinner last night.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Root

The other night I had a celery root pot pie with cheddar and whatssit(?). I remarked that the dish had one of my favorite tastes, but I wasn’t sure which ingredient I was diggin’. So JA picked up some celery root at the New Amsterdam Market on Sunday. Crazy lookin’ mutha! Also called celeraic, celery root is linktodescriptionhere. Please, I’m not a food expert...

We also picked up some amazing bread made with Six Point Ale. And some local cheese. And a new case arrived.

And today I made a simple potato, leek soup with celery root. And a side of spinach. We mixed the bread with olive oil and salt and toasted it in the oven. Larger slices we ate with the cheese and wine, smaller ones after with the soup. Delicious!

Did I like the celery root in the soup? Did it add anything? I think so. It is hard to tell. The soup felt like it had a depth that it doesn’t usually have but who can say? It was really, really good! Might’ve been good regardless. It wasn’t much of an effort to deal with the celery root—was just funny to look at. Would I do it again? Yes!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Xtra Ab-Normal

I made a movie to give you an inkling into JustAwesome’s life.

What do you obsess about?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Toot, toot!

JustAwesome had to work late. I decided I would eat some meat and maybe catch up on some Dexter episodes. As a side, I would make a spinach with sesame and garlic, which JA could eat—hot, warm, cold, whatever—whenever she got home.

• I couldn’t find the sesame seeds to toast.
• I used way too much oil.
• I used way too much soy sauce (why is there no spout thingy??).

And I could not get a nice photo. (Perhaps the director of photography can try one when she gets home? Probably not.)


But at least I got to eat some meat. A rarity in this house. And it smells really good in here.

Bad Behavior(s)

Still nothing doing at the Feral Casa. I know. WTF? And my scale has started screaming when I get on it. Hmm, what am I doing wrong?

• Should I not pretend it is snowing on a 60-someodd degree October day just so I can have fondue for dinner?

• Should I not drink a lovely bottle of wine with it? You know, the cheese might congeal in my stomach and kill me. I need that wine. It is a safety issue.

• Should I not try two new neighborhood restos in one weekend? Both were excellent. And I had to try lotsa things. I had to.

And I have nothing new to say about roasting veggies either. Except that they sure look more beautiful with the new camera. Nothing. Except that it was genius of me to roast extra potatoes and steam extra string beans last night. And it was genius of me to boil some eggs.

So today I’ll have a nice salad nicoise for lunch. With some fancy-ass tuna we brought home from Italy. And hopefully my scale will shut up.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Really, really good.

Not much is doing lately in the Feral Casa. We went away, ate a ton and came back craving home-cooked simple meals, and salads. Lots of veggies and salads. So I didn’t really have anything to say. But I really, really wanted to use our new camera. So, I took some photos of the lasagna that JustAwesome was making. Just to take some photos.

And then we ate the aforementioned, pre-photographed lasagna and it was really, really delicious. It is a riff on the Jamie Oliver's Simple Baked Lasagne which uses squash. That’s why we made it—a good use for squash. (We have reupped our Urban Organic box, for now, and are assuming we’ll get more squash than we know what to do with over the next few months.) Anyway, the recipe also calls for créme fraiche which is mixed with anchovies. Say what? Squash and anchovies in your lasagna? Yes! And it was sooooo good. The créme fraiche gave it an amazing creaminess, the anchovies gave it the meaty, smokiness. Served with much-needed salad, less-needed wine. Really, really good.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A New Addition

It is with great joy that JustAwesome and I welcome a new addition to the Feral Cook pizza repertoire. Stolen from Roberta’s, the best (hands down) pizza place in New York City, I present:

Salad Nicoise Pizza
Potato pizza with a tuna/egg mixture tossed with arugula, green beans and a sicilian green sauce. So bright and tasty. She makes us smile.

September 18, 2010
7:17 p.m
13 inches

Salad Nicoise Pizza

Sicilian Green Sauce

Tuna-Egg Mixture

Also on the menu tonight:
• margherita
smoked ricotta, basil, parmesan and mozzarella (2x)

Smoked Ricotta

Serve salad with Karen Skurka’s Lazy Girl Dressing (in the comment).
Drink beer in frosty glasses and homemade blueberry soda.

Young Pizza Lover with Tiny Pineapple

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Works

With less than 10 days until we go on what will undoubtably be a gluttonous trip, I have got to get serious about my waistline.

Tonight I did a ton of prep: I made my famous egg salad (for tomorrow’s lunch). I made a WW’s cabbage and carrot salad to have as sides for a few days (ugly but tasty). I roasted some brussels sprouts and carrots, like I always do. I cut up celery (peanut butter? hummus?). I cut up carrots (I do not like pre-cut carrots. Blech). I washed the lettuce (keeping the leaves whole to use as wraps). I made a salad (to eat for tonight’s dinner with canned salmon and a crusty bread from the New Amsterdam Market).

And then I remembered: I had some uncooked kale that I hadn’t used, already cut up and ready to go... Roasting pan was out from the brussels sprouts and calling my name. WOO HOO! Kale chips!! They were so tasty! I just put olive oil and salt on them and laid in a single layer. Better recipe here.


And then I thought: Why not eat it all for dinner? At once! I must be some kind of genius.

The Works

So we had: Salad with salmon (with a homemade mustard dressing), crusty bread with homemade pesto, cabbage and carrot salad, roasted brussels sprouts and carrots, and kale chips. With homemade seltzer! A weird mix, but it all worked. And a sensible Weight Watchers meal, I think.

JustAwesome is in the kitchen, right this minute, preparing this panade from The New York Times Magazine. How many POINTS is that? OY! Seriously, I can’t wait!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Oh, what a relief it is!

What a lovely weekend! A visit to The Brooklyn Kitchen yielded a brand new seltzer-maker. We don’t drink a ton of the stuff right now (because we don’t like throwing out plastic bottles) but game-on! Oh, the possibilities! Ours came with some flavor samples plus we bought a gorgeous bottle of Ginger syrup. And now we don’t have to avoid having any teetotalers over for dinner.

So, what flavors sound good to you?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Our Flexitarian Table

JustAwesome grew up eating very little meat. Naturally, she became a vegetarian and thankfully, for practical (read: traveling) purposes later started eating fish. Coincidentally, she doesn’t love shellfish beyond the occasional lobster-roll, so I think of her as a kosher-style pescetarian. And so, we are, flexitarian.

I don’t feel punished by meatless meals. We have tons of variety, especially when adding fish to the mix. I do hate when restaurants have only one vegetarian option and it is usually more like a consolation prize. I eat plenty of meat, usually when we go out, but once in a while I’ll make some meat or treif for myself. I don’t believe people should lose themselves for their spouses—avoiding onions, for example, that their spouse deems “stinky poo-poo”—like Laura Linney’s character on Showtimes new series The Big C.

Last night I decided to follow Berley’s recipe for Grilled Shrimp in Harissa, found in, of course, The Flexitarian Table. This kind of, sort of, went with-ish the cauliflower and corn and pea red curry that I made for our main entrée. (I broiled it).

Then I saw the recipe and rather than improvise and try something else, I kept going. Next thing I know, I am toasting fennel and cumin seeds and then grinding them with a mortar and pestle because we didn’t have already ground spices. WHAT??? WHO AM I?????

The mortar and pestle, by the way, we only own because I saw it at a HomeGoods store, it was really, really cheap and it matches our Le Creuset stuff!

Anyway, this cracks me up. I don’t recognize me. The shrimp was good and the house smelled amazing because of the toasted seeds. YUM!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Shame shame shame...

Chilean Sea Bass

Ok, I have something to confess (hanging Feral head in shame). My favorite fish to cook at home is Chilean Sea Bass. I know, I KNOW! It is not technically on the endangered species list anymore but I probably shouldn’t be eating it. If it was a really dire situation, Whole Foods & Fresh Direct wouldn’t sell it. Right?

It is SOOOO yummy. And I really don’t eat very much of it. And, I’m a very good person. As a New Yorker, my carbon footprint is practically minute. Sometimes I remember to offset my carbon emissions. I recycle, I use green products, I’ve removed myself from mailing lists. I’ve reduced my plastic waste dramatically (since my Lunch post). I carry bags, I shop locally. I tell everyone I know to rent No Impact Man (available on Netflix). Really, I’m good. But I love me some Patagonian Toothfish. I am a flawed human person.

A standard dinner in the Feral rotation is Chilean Sea Bass (broiled), potato (boiled? roasted?), greens (usually sautéed in garlic), maybe a salad. But, alas, I have just “discovered” potato salad. Bittman has an easy recipe with scallion or onion, parsley, and a mustard vinaigrette. I hate mayo, so I never really considered adding potato salad to my repertoire. Until now. Really easy and perfect on a hot day (and for lunches later in the week).

Potato Salad

I’d give you the recipe but I am not a copyright infringer—just a fish killer. And really? You should own at least one Bittman cookbook. JustAwesome swears by the iPhone app, too. Hopefully, I didn’t overcook the potatoes and she likes my potato salad.