Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How Foodtoons Happen

Friends sometimes ask where I get my cartoon ideas - particularly the Team Maria President, who is undoubtedly wondering if his will ever become a paid postion. I thought about it, and created a handy Venn diagram to explain how the magic happens. I'm sure that you, my gentle readers, being highly intelligent one and all, can quickly figure out that when I'm not in the Foodtoons sweet spot, I am probably slogging through either fatigue, anxiety, or irritation because the sets are constantly interacting to some degree. Now you know the real reason Van Gogh cut off his ear.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Toaster Mockery

It doesn't matter if I buy the cheapest toaster Walmart has to offer, or an expensive one at Bed Bath and Beyond. Whenever I use it, it mocks me. I hate that in a small appliance.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas "Baking" with Betty Crocker

My friend Annie gave me a Betty Crocker Recipe Box from 1971, since she knew I was just the kind of nut to find it interesting. I browsed through it this morning to see if Betty has any suggestions for holiday baking and entertaining. Gentle readers, this little recipe box has an embarassment of riches. If you want to impress your friends, colleagues, and family, look no further. Betty and I are here to help.

What could be more festive and easy than Christmas trees made from Cheerios and marshmallows, dyed with food coloring to a lovely shade of green and decorated with gumdrop slices? I suggest you don't stop with gumdrops - there are all kind of decorations available that you could stick to your trees before they harden.

I'm sure Bobby and Cissy will love them - sugar is just what everyone craves after a rousing dance routine with Lawrence Welk's Champagne Orchestra. (You really owe it to yourself to watch the video I linked there. It really gets going around the two-minute mark and the jazz hands are AWESOME.)
To compliment your Cereal Christmas Trees, there is nothing like No-Cook Divinity. You've already got the food coloring out, so why not?

Although, with an ingredient list that includes a box of frosting mix, light corn syrup, and an entire package of confectioner's sugar, this recipe might actually be illegal in places like Utah. It would give you one heck of a sugar buzz. You've been warned.

I'll be back throughout the holiday season with recipes for baking and entertaining. Because there is more, my friends. So much more.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Salad Days

After the lasagne and pumpkin pie of the past couple of days, I need to be a very, very good girl this week. Cookie prep starts next weekend, when I will begin making and freezing dough to be ready for cookie day with my nieces and nephew. It's very important to sample the cookie dough when I make it, or how will I know if it's turning out right?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

My Thanksgiving table decoration. Sandra Lee would be horrified.

Gentle readers, it's that time of year again. The time when it's our duty as Americans to forget all about diet and fitness, and to eat all we want. I hope you enjoy it to the fullest, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

For my readers in other countries, Happy Thursday! Do something special just for you, preferably involving chocolate.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Easy As Pie

Last weekend the Army Dude and I finalized our Thanksgiving menu. He is making the traditional lasagne and I was going to bake something for dessert. I was tossing around some ideas and he finally said, "You know, I'd really like a pumpkin pie. Why don't we just buy one?" He said I've been tired lately (translation: a crabby pain in the butt) and that I should make it easy on myself.

I felt kind of guilty about it. I mean, who buys Thanksgiving dessert? Then I started wondering, in the co-dependent way of mine, if maybe he didn't really like the things I bake and has just been being polite all this time. Then it hit me: Baking. Thanksgiving - kickoff to the holiday season. Cookies. His suggestion that he can help with cookie research and development. Wanting me not to get too tired.

I am so onto him.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

More Leftover Magic

It has come to my attention, gentle readers, that I told you to go forth and make Portuguese Pot Roast, but I did not tell you what to do with the leftovers. Making a sandwich seems obvious, but I recommend you use my method as outlined above. Trust me: you think it's just a sandwich, but my method is superior to all other methods.

You must use whole-grain bread, and you must layer the ingredients as shown. It's important that you use either grainy or Dijon mustard - none of that nasty yellow stuff is allowed.

If you want to leave the condiments and utensils on the counter to facilitate coming back for a second sandwich, I won't tell anyone.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Suit Yourself

One of the benefits of being an old maid with a cat is that I don't have to take anyone else's food preferences into account every day when I cook. Tonight's dinner is a good example of that. I think most everyone I know dislikes at least one element of this dinner; I like it all and that's what matters.

The Japanese-Style Curry is a recipe from 3 Bowls: Vegetarian Recipes from an American Zen Buddhist Monastery, but I leave out the potatoes and serve it over rice. It's how I like it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Auntie's Etiquette Tip

If you drag an Army Dude out first thing in the morning to come to your house and help you with a flat tire, it is correct form to give him breakfast. It also gives you something to do besides freak out.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Is For OMG I'm Tired

Gentle readers, it's Friday. I've been blogging my heart out for 19 days now, and I'm exhausted. I promise to go to bed early tonight and hit the ground running tomorrow with fresh madness.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Keep It Simple

Honestly. Making tea is not a complex process. So why do restaurants (and even some coffee shops) insist on serving a cup of hot (not boiling) water with a teabag on the side?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pain Relief

I am so having one of these tonight. They're surprisingly good, and ready in 45 seconds. Sometimes a girl just needs chocolate NOW.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


A friend recently told me that he can tell when I'm tired because I post photographs instead of drawings. Sometimes I want to rant about something like the avocado slicer and you can't get the true stupidity of the item without a photo. But at other times, he's absolutely right.

The thing is, posting 30 Foodtoons in 30 days is hard work - even for someone as prolific in the madness department as I am. Occasionally, a girl needs a little rest.

This is my 16th NaBLoPoMo post, so I'm just over halfway through. To celebrate, I drew you a happy dancing pancake breakfast. Mrs. Butterworth is doing jazz hands, my friends. That is some quality art right there.

Monday, November 15, 2010


The Army Dude and I have a little tradition of going to Maggiano's Little Italy after the opera. Yes, we know it's a chain, but the food is great and they always seat a party of two in a booth that is out of the main action of the busy dining room. They also play Sinatra, which I greatly appreciate and enjoy.

I'd been looking forward all week to the fried zucchini appetizer. I don't know exactly what they do to it, besides coat it in panko crumbs and stick it in a fryolator, but it's delicious.

We both followed up with pasta dishes - baked ziti for him and gnocchi for me. Oh, and we also had side salads. They give the illusion of health.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I see these avocado slicers around every once in a while and they never fail to annoy me. All I can think is Seriously? A slicer specifically for avocados? You can't use a PARING KNIFE to do the job?

This particular model, available at Amazon.com, is $9.75. Not a big investment. But why on earth would anyone need it? The description says it's "great for creating beautiful slices that present perfectly in any dish." Are the slices really that much better looking? Why are people so afraid of the tiny variations in hand-cut slices?

I blame Martha Stewart. She ruins everything.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Go Cute Or Go Home

Some of my favorite kitchen items are the aprons my mom has made for me over the years. I use them all the time, and whenever I pick one up to put it on, it makes me smile. Sure, a plain white chef's apron would do the job of keeping my clothes clean, but cooking is more fun when you're wearing a cute apron.

Go cute or go home. Come to think of it, that's kind of the motto of the women in our family.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Just Add Cheese

As you know, I love to cook. My problem is that most recipes are written to serve a family of four or six, while mine is a family of two -- one of whom has special dietary needs. When I cook something, I tend to get excited about how it will turn out and not to worry about how many servings the recipe makes. By the third or fourth day, I never want to eat it again. That's where quesadillas come in handy. I fill a tortilla with leftover meat, beans, vegetables, or rice (or a combination) and stick it all together with some shredded cheese. Grill on both side and voila! A whole new taste sensation made from something I was sick to death of eating.

Once again, my friends, cheese makes everything better.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hot Chocolate and a Book

The comfy blanky, of course, is implied.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Culinary Quote: Louisa May Alcott

If you must earn your daily bread, try to make it sweet with cheerfulness and not bitter with the daily regret that it isn't cake.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Come Fry With Me

I received the following email from my mom yesterday:

I have no idea why I can't post a comment on your blog so here it is.

Re: Questionable Judgment

This is one time the apple fell far from the tree. You see, I was buying a pumpkin doughnut from Dunkin about every other day so I came up with this wonderful idea that the money saved making my own would pay for a Fry Daddy. Bad Idea is putting it mildly. So far Dad and I have eaten four dozen pumpkin doughnuts, four dozen doughnut holes (after all, can't let those little cutouts go to waste when they can go to waist), two dozen clam cakes (small), and one dozen corn fritters (large). And yes, I have looked up the recipe for deep frying Snicker bars but so far, have resisted.

Don't you just love my mom, gentle readers? She's hilarious.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sunday Brunch With Leppy

Leppy gave the last pink and green tomatoes from her garden to her friend across the street, who made pies and gave Leppy one of them. Leppy called me on Saturday night to ask me to share in the last of the season's bounty. I managed to find time in my glamorous schedule of cooking, cleaning, and NaBloPoMo to head on over there.

Brunch was delicious. There were two kinds of Gorgonzola cheeses, "breakfast olives" that were fruity and wonderful, Guatemalan sausages from our local bodega, toast, and pots of tea and coffee. There were slices of the very last ripe tomato from Leppy's garden, and of course, slices of the tomato pie.

Now all I have to do is convince Leppy that she should keep this Sunday brunch tradition going through the winter. I've already started working on an evil plan (since she reads this blog). I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Baked Lentils with Cheese

It was a dark and blustery November day yesterday, so I was in the mood for some old-fashioned comfort food. I pulled out my battered copy of the More With Less Cookbook. One of the great things about the cookbook is that a lot of the recipes can be made with things you probably have on hand already. (Lentils? Check. Carrots and celery? Check. Canned tomatoes? Check. Cheddar cheese? DUH.)

I put a bunch of ingredients in the oven, then I went and found something else to do. I came back and added the veggies, threw one of those boxed rice mixes into a pot, then I chatted on the phone with my friend Joe (he's hilarious). Finally, I topped the casserole with cheese and made a salad while the cheese melted.

The final results were really good. I even went back for seconds. Of something that is very good for me. Will wonders never cease?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Eat At Gregg's

It has recently come to my attention that there are people in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations who have never had a dessert from Gregg's Restaurant. I feel it is my duty to let people know that they are missing out on a taste sensation.

For those who don't know, Gregg's is a mid-priced restaurant chain. The food is very good, and the selection ranges from what you'd expect (big salads, burgers, sandwiches) to things you might not expect, such as New England Boiled Dinner.

But the big draw is the desserts: cakes, cupcakes, and pastries beyond compare, all lined up in a cooler for your drooling pleasure. I seriously cannot pick a favorite - they are all that good.

Go. Eat. But leave room for dessert. Then come back and tell me how awesome it was.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Another Bad Idea

I didn't eat chocolate for breakfast on purpose. I just got busy yesterday morning with laundry, blogging, and catering to the cat's every whim. As you do. The next thing I knew, it was time to go to work and nothing but caffeine had passed my lips.

Around 10:00, the basket of leftover Halloween candy was calling my name. I tried to ignore it, but its allure was too powerful. I ate a couple of pieces of chocolate even though I knew what was likely to happen.

Chocolate, you are a cruel mistress.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Duff Goldman, I'm Ready To Work For You!

Why Charm City Cakes should hire me:

1. I draw food.
2. I use the word awesome a lot.
3. I like bacon.
4. I also like cake.
5. I have baking experience.
6. I won't make out in the stockroom with that cute delivery guy no matter how much he begs.

Call me!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Visions of Sugarplums Dancing In My Head

It's November, when my thoughts turn to Christmas cookie baking with my nieces and nephews. I look at recipes, decide on a menu, organize my ingredient list, and make sure I have everything I need on hand.

The Army Dude has been strongly suggesting that the last few years have been severely lacking in the research and development department. He feels that we should spend time this month testing a lot of recipes to be sure of the best possible product at Christmas time. I'm thinking his belly is writing checks that his arteries can't cash.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Heavenly Memories

As the days turn colder, my thoughts turn to the best after-school snack ever. My mom's homemade bread and english muffins.

I know I made fun of her liver and onions, but my mom is a terrific cook. For many years during my adolescence, she made all our bread. She had a regular baking day just like people did in olden times, and on that day I would come home from school to see loaf after loaf of her delicious oatmeal bread lined up on the counter. Sometimes she made English muffins, too. The smell in the house was heavenly. If there is anything better than coming home from school and cracking open a fresh-from-the-oven English muffin and slathering it with lots of butter (I was much skinnier then) I challenge you to tell me what it is. And then I will tell you you're wrong.

Mom is a busy senior citizen now, what with kayaking and church activities and sewing, and she doesn't make bread anymore. She has a bread machine that she pulls out every once in a while and tries to convince everyone the product is just as good as what she kneaded with her own two hands. But it's too late. She spoiled us during our formative years and we are not fooled.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Questionable Judgment

A while back, my mom asked me for advice on deep frying. I told her that I leave deep frying to the professionals because I am afraid of burning the house down or disfiguring myself due to my clumsiness and lack of experience. I suppose I could get a Fry Daddy, but I think it's probably a really bad idea to be able to have anything I want deep fried at a moment's notice. Oh sure, I'd start with vegetable tempura and next thing you know I'd be deep frying bacon and Snickers bars.

Also possibly a bad idea: I signed up for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). Both blogs. That's 60 posts in 30 days. It sounded like fun when my friend Monica of 5 Cats Shy suggested it, but now I'm wondering. I might surprise myself and come up with some good content. Then again, I might drown in a vat of my own crazy. It's hard to say.