24 Carrot Camel

1 08 2011

So my friend Adam was having his 40th birthday and I offered to make him a special cake. Little did he know what he was in for and little did I remember why I always open my big mouth!!! After he informed me it was Moroccan themed I immediately thought camel. Oh no I couldn’t just stop at a cute Moroccan stacked cake or a Moroccan lantern or a Moroccan pillow. I had to do a standing fucking camel!! Pardon my Moroccan.

So the journey across the desert dessert began.

Adam wanted a carrot cake and since it’s one of my faves I quickly agreed. Instead of cream cheese frosting though I went with browned butter frosting. It’s one of my favorite frostings and it couples well with carrot.

I made the trek across the  Los Angeles desert in my hummer to Home Depot. I scoured the aisles to figure out how I’d build the supporting structure and decided upon the plumbing aisle. I spotted that orange apron in all it’s glory and asked the knowledgeable employee what his opinion was. After his look of disgust he suggested floor flanges and I said “funny that’s my knickname”. He wasn’t amused attall.  Soon everyone was in on the planning. Pedro the plumber showed me how to connect the pipes and that’s a sentence I never pictured writing. So off and running I was. I got my lumber, check, floor flanges, check, 1/2 inch pvc, check, screws, check. This sounds like a bad porno.

For all my cake supplies in Los Angeles I go to http://gloriascakecandysuplys.com/store/

My design

I cut a stencil around my cake pans and used a jigsaw to cut it out. I screwed my flanges in with my pipe couplers.

Next I eyeballed the pvc size and cut them down with a hack saw.

I glued the pipes in and then connected the neck and head piece.

This is where I would’ve changed the inside structure. I used rice krispie treats to form the head and neck as well as

parts of the body. I wish I would’ve used modeling chocolate because the treats weren’t strong enough to support the icing and fondant. I ended up making it work but I had to remove the head once and wrap it in foil. Actually if you’re not a purest the foil would’ve been fine for the inside structure and then modeling chocolate over that. Alas we live and learn.

I used modeling chocolate for the legs and inserted the 4 layer carrot cake/hump in the center. I used the giant cupcake mold for the hump and cut it down.

I covered the entire camel in browned butter frosting. It looks messy but fondant was layered on top  so it didn’t matter much. The bumpyness created a texture for the camel fur.

Here she is in all her glory! I decorated her with a fondant rug that  I outlined in multicolor sugar. I used strung colored rock candy to bedazzle her and the pillow is marshmallow fondant with more rock candy on top. I cheated a bit with the non eatables and used beaded ribbon around her neck. Every girl needs some real jewelry right??

The cake board/plywood is outlined with black & gold rick rack and the sand is brown sugar dusted with eatable gold leaf sugar.

The pics aren’t great because  they’re from my phone. If I get more pics I will post here.

Below is the recipe & intructions for the Carrot cake. It turned out YUMMY . Also below is a recipe for my browned butter frosting and marshmallow fondant! Enjoy!

Cake feeds 32 people in four large layers.

  • 12 cups grated carrots
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 8 eggs
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups crushed pineapple, drained
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2-3/4 cups and 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Directions

This recipe’s Ingredients were scaled to yield a new amount. The directions below still refer to the original recipe yield of 2 – 10 inch round layers.
  1. In a medium bowl, combine grated carrots and brown sugar. Set aside for 60 minutes, then stir in raisins.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 10 inch cake pans.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light. Gradually beat in the white sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir in the pineapple. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, stir into the wet mixture until absorbed. Finally stir in the carrot mixture and the walnuts. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. When completely cooled, frost with cream cheese frosting.
Browned Butter Frosting
I used this recipe  x 2 for this cake alone.
1/2 c. butter
4 c. powdered sugar
2 tblspn milk
1 tsp. vanilla
in a saucepan melt the butter. constantly stirring and watching until it turns  brown. it will happen all of a sudden about 4 minutes in. You’ll see it happen as you’re swirling the butter. Take pan off heat once this happens and empty contents into a mixer. Add all ingredients and mix. Add more milk or corn syrup to make different consistency.
Marshmallow Fondant
16oz mini marshmallows
2lbs of powdered sugar
Place marshmallows in a microwave bowl. Add a few tablespoons of water and micro on high for about 1-2 minutes. Take out and stir. If not completely melted stick back in micro for 30 second intervals, mix and repeat until thoroughly melted to a gooey mess. Add color or flavor now before the sugar. Add the powdered sugar and keep stirring until too difficult. Powder your hands in the sugar and knead like dough until it stops sticking. Note: it will still be slightly sticky when pulled apart. generously powder your work surface and rolling pin and roll out to your desired shapes. Keep sealed in airtight ziploc . Best when used right away. If it gets too hard to work with, place in
micro for 20-30 seconds until pliable.




Rest In Peace On Earth

19 11 2010

Earlier this year I lost my neighbor Vivian Berghino.  We’ve lived next door to Ed & Vivian Berghino for over 5 years now.  They were brother and sister connected at the hip.  There is a drive way between our kitchen windows, so a ring side seat was always to be had to hear their hot Italian tempers.  The Berghinos have lived in their top and bottom duplex since the late 1940’s when their parents bought the 1920’s building. Their parents were Italian immigrants that came to America via Ellis Island in the 20’s to make a better life for themselves. Father Giovanni “Bob” Berghino and Mom Gilda moved the family west from the upper west side of Manhattan in the mid 40’s. Bob opened a bike shop in Beverly Hills called Bob’s Cycles where he was known as the cities best bikesmith. Bob’s Cycle’s was located at the south east corner of  Robertson & Wilshire (it’s now a Bank of America).

Gilda & Bob Berghino

When we moved in, I immediately took a liking to Ed Berghino.  Something about Ed instantly felt like family to me. Maybe it was the bickering between he and his sister Viv, but most probably it was the warmth I felt being around them. Often I’d hear them outside my window in the morning going back and forth about one thing or the other so I’d go over and join them for a cup of coffee and we’d chat.  They’d tell me old stories of their family and the neighborhood while one or the other would invariably disagree with something, anything or everything.  When things really got heated they’d curse each other out in Italian. That’s when it really got good! Every Christmas  I could always count on a gift of Panettone  bread from Ed & Viv and it was usually gone in about an hour .  We often talked about food and their Mom cooking rich Northern Italian dishes. One of the recipes was to poach a dozen eggs in heavy cream and a stick of butter & serve over polenta! THAT is my kind of food! You could seriously gain 5 pounds from hearing about the cream sauce dishes their Mama always made. I’ve spent quite a few meals in and out with them. One of our favorite outings is Bob’s Big Boy in Toluca Lake.  It’s fun, kitschy and the burgers rock!

Last year I had the neighbors on both sides of me over for Christmas morning breakfast. I made my Mom’s  famous Egg Casserole (that’s been handed down from generations) and we all sat and talked about old stories. It was truly a great Christmas  morning. I’ve always said that family is about who you want to be with not who you have to be with. The same goes for the Holidays. Viv was such a sweet & caring soul. She taught for most of her life and must’ve been an awesome teacher  because she had so many students come back to her later in life to tell her how much she meant to them. I can totally relate to those students and their love for their teahcer. My 7th & 8th grade band teacher changed my life. She said I could do anything in life, anything and everything I wanted to. She had no  idea what kind of monster she created! I believed her and have carried her words with me throughout my  life. I will forever be indebted to her for believing in me. So for Viv and any teacher that can have such a profound affect on a human being, I say is a Saint.

Here’s Ed and Mom  Gilda

A month before Viv passed was the 10th Anniversary of my Grandma Pearls death.  Her Birthday was also this month and she would’ve been 86 . My Grandma Pearl taught me so much about cooking and baking. When she died I was left her 60’s avocado green Kitchen Aid mixer, I call Ethel. The thing is a TANK! I love it and don’t think I could possibly live without it. I was also left with her holy grail.  Her cookbooks! Both her handwritten recipes and her Better Homes cookbook from the 50’s! These are like bibles to me!! From my Great Grandma Jessie’s lemon meringue pie  and her date cookies to Grandpa’s peanut brittle,  Grandma Pearls Banana bread and so many more recipes.  And of course the ever lovin breakfast casserole I cooked for Ed & Viv last Christmas.

Ed, Viv and Mom Gilda

So dear Viv this blog is dedicated to you and all the teachers whom I believe truly have the most important job in the entire world. To be able to positively influence youth is so empowering and such a huge responsibility that when it is accomplished it should not only be rewarded but remembered and honored and observed forever.

In honor of Viv I give you the recipe for our families Holiday Breakfast Casserole. It’s the last meal I cooked for Viv and it’s something my family LOVES to eat. It’s really easy and tastes awesome!

Holiday Breakfast Casserole

Half loaf (6-8 pieces enough to cover bottom of dish) cheap White Bread like Webers cut in 1/2  inch cubes

1 Dozen fresh eggs

4 cups grated cheddar cheese (prepackaged works great but it should be whole milk cheese)

2 tubes of Jimmy Dean ground sausage

1/2 tsp. ground mustard

1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup + 1/2 Cup milk

1/2 cup milk mixed into eggs

Optional Ingredients: Diced bell pepper, diced onion, sliced mushrooms

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease 9×12 glass casserole dish.

In frying skillet cook both tubes of ground sausage like you would ground beef for tacos or spaghetti.

While sausage is frying beat 1 dozen eggs with 1/2 cup milk and ground mustard. Slice bread into 1/2 inch cubes and layer the bottom of your casserole. MAKE SURE YOUR DISH IS GREASED. Drain the oil off of your sausage once it is well browned. VERY IMPORTANT TO DRAIN THE SAUSAGE. I know that reads like yelling but learn from my mistakes! Spread the sausage evenly over the bread cubes and then spread an even layer of half the cheese over the sausage (reserving half for the top). If you’re going to use the optional ingredients spread them now (it’s perfectly great without them). Now pour your mixed eggs over the entire dish and spread remaining cheese on top of that. THE SECRET; My family always makes this the night before and puts it in the oven in the morning. This way everything has a chance to really soak in. You can put it in the oven right away as well. Whatever you do DON’T FORGET THE CREAM OF MUSHROOM! When  I make it the night before,  I always set the can of soup on the stove so that I don’t forget to put it over the top in the morning. To add, in a bowl mix 1/2 cup milk to the can of mushroom soup and pour evenly over entire casserole.  I usually bake it for about 45 minutes covered with foil and then another half hour to 45 minutes uncovered. Bake it until it’s bubbling and at least golden brown on top (my family likes it a little more well done on top). Take out and serve immediately.

Serves 8-10 Normal people  and 4-6 in my  family.

This what it looks like, but it still could be a little more browned.

Happy Arteries!!  I mean Holidays!





It’s That Time Of Year…

4 11 2010

to get depressed! I don’t know about you but as much as I am happy around the holidays, I get a little depressed too.  Soooo there’s nothing like a cookie to cure that depression! Matter of fact these recipes may have come from the depression era! Most likely they’ve been around well before that, but my Great Grandma was definitely apart of the depression era and she introduced them to me.

Now I’m introducing them to the LA Times Cookie Bake off Contest and to you bloggers!!

Click here to vote for me!!>>>>

http://upickem.net/3VNBcA1H4bZ?r=37960

I’m entered in the LA Times  Cookie Bake Off with my families cookie recipe called Aunt Goldie’s Date Filled Nuggets.

Every year my Great Grandma Jessie Olson would make this family recipe and  I was always the first to finish them.  Grandma Jessie was an amazing baker. Every Christmas she’d bring over huge tupperware containers filled with different cookies as well as several of her famous pies. My two favorite cookies of hers were her Molasses Iced Cookies and her Date cookies.

Little did I know a lot of the recipes were handed down or were altered by other people in our family. I found all of this out when my Grandma Pearl died and left me all of the family recipes. The books are priceless and contain years and years of recipes by my family. A lot of them quickly written down with no complete instructions!!  I guess they cooked and baked so much they just needed the ingredients. Although I noticed that some of the recipes are clearly missing some ingredients. Luckily I learned from the best so it was pretty much common sense that you can’t make a cookie without flour.

And now to set the mood here is one of my favorite Christmas songs.

My entry into the LA Times contest is the following recipe for Aunt Goldies Date Filled Nuggets which Grandma Olson perfected every Christmas.

Aunt Goldie’s Date Filled Nuggets

4 1/2 C. All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 C. Sugar
1 C. Butter (Soft)
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Eggs
1/2 C. Sour Cream
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp. Baking Powder

Date Filling
1 lb. Dates diced (or in food processor)
1 C. Sugar
1 1/2 C. Water
Boil all until soft & in paste form. Let cool in the refrigerator.

Cream Butter & Sugar then add eggs one at a time. Mix Soda into Sour Cream and add. Stir flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl and add little by little to wet ingredients.
You may chill dough or roll out on a floured surface immediately.
Use a 2 inch round cookie cutter to cut out rounds or a round juice glass floured. Cut an even number of rounds and place a dollop of date filling on half. Cover those with the other half of cut outs and pinch all sides by hand or fork. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 f. until golden brown (about 10-15 mins.) Continue until all the dough and/or filling is used.

AND!! To get plenty of good cheer I eat Aunt Goldie’s Minted Nuts!!

Here’s a recipe for Aunt Goldie’s nuts exactly like my Grandma Pearl wrote it down.  I love that my Grandma instructs to stir in a circular motion! Wait until you see some of the other recipes she wrote down. Grandma Pearl often wrote in phonetics like her recipe for Chile Con Queso she writes Chilly Con Kay-so…

recipeAuntGoldiesMintedNuts.jpg Aunt Goldie's Minted Nuts picture by cornbeefonry





That’s Amore! Pizza Pizza!

26 02 2010

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!!

Ah pizza. Italy’s invention, America’s obsession. Pizza is such a personal thing. Everyone has an opinion on their favorite pizzas. I certainly have a lot of opinions on pizza as well as suggestions and a recipe!

Could there be any more perfect food? I mean come on it’s got all your major food groups. Bread, Fruits(tomato), Vegetables(mushrooms), Dairy, and Meat. Of course that’s my pizza. Thin crust, thick crust, New York style, Chicago style, stuffed crust, you name it and there’s 3 million ways to make a pizza.

I have a favorite pizza place virtually everywhere I go. When I was a kid we probably ate it once a week. There was Shakey’s, Dominoes, Pizza Hut, Numero Uno, & ah yes Little Ceasars Pizza Pizza. All pretty horrible now by my standards but I’d still eat them if put in front of my face. My Mom used to get us Little Ceasars when I was a kid. She’d order extra bread sticks. They were brushed with butter  and slathered in processed parmesan. She’d get an extra bag of breadsticks and we’d eat it on the way home. Good times. Well, I’ve grown up and have developed a little more of a discriminating taste for pizza that’s for sure.

I had never made a pizza until two weeks ago, unless you count the english muffin pizzas I make. It’s hard to make a good pizza at home without the proper oven. I would kill for a pizza oven. Something to aspire toward. I did buy a nifty little nonstick perforated pizza pan that does the trick fairly well.  I had a gift certificate to Williams-Sonoma (which is virtually useless to me under $200 because I know I can get everything else cheaper somewhere else) so  I bought one. That’s it to the left.

A little sidebar, did you know you can use a Williams-Sonoma gift cert at  Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids? Well now ya do!

Trying to find a good recipe for a pizza is like looking for a needle in a haystack. EVERYONE has an opinion. I’m still convinced even after making one with my new pan that you must have a pizza oven. Nonetheless it turned out pretty well and I thought was better than a frozen pizza and cheaper than delivery. Speaking of frozen pizzas, one of my favorites is made by Freschetta. I don’t know if you get them where you are. They’re sometimes even hard to find in L.A. Don’t get the precut pan one. I tried that one and it’s horrible. The best one is the small regular one. I put it right on my oven rack at 400 for 20 minutes. My market doesn’t carry it anymore though. I’ve asked them several times to get it to no avail. The crust is  great and it doesn’t get watered down like California Pizza Kitchen. Although I do like the CPK Chrispy Thin Crust Sicilian. Again baked right on the oven rack. It’s like pizza  on a cracker. Yum.

I consider myself pretty lucky to live in a city that has absolutely THE best pizza place in the U.S. called Casa Bianca in Eagle Rock. I don’t care what anyone says THIS is the best pizza I’ve ever tasted EVER. It’s a little mom and pop joint near Pasadena in a charming part of L.A. called Eagle  Rock. The extra large sausage and pepperoni pizza is so lip smacking good you will jump on the table and sing the praises of the messiah cometh. When with a couple people we order an antipasta salad, extra large sausage & pepperoni and a regular of the same so we can take some home. I can’t exaggerate enough how good this pizza is and it’s cheap! Ya gotta get there early and prepare to wait. No worries though, they have $2 glasses of wine while you wait! Check it out here http://www.casabiancapizza.com  You don’t want to order take out though,  trust me. Pizza usually doesn’t have a chance in a box. The box builds up condensation and basically ruins the original form of the crust. If you HAVE to order take out I suggest putting it in the oven when you get home directly on the rack at 420F for a few minutes.

Casa Biancas

I also can’t deny my love for the classic historic L.A. staple Miceli’s.  This old school Italian eatery is a landmark in Los Angeles. While the food is pretty standard Americanized Italian, I love it just the same. The waiters get up and sing and there’s always music playing live on the piano. You feel like you’re in Lady & The Tramp. The rolls they serve are addicting!  It’s where Lucille Ball learned about pizza throwing for the famous pizza episode. I prefer the original on  Las Palmas in Hollywood, but there’s also one in Studio City on Cahuenga by Universal Studios. http://www.micelisrestaurant.com

When I’m in New York city I always go back to my college hangout called Big Nicks! This joint is way cool and my opinion on Nicks might be biased because I have such fond memories of college hanging out there. I’ve been back several times and it never disappoints me. The first time I ever had white cheese pizza was here and they make an AWESOME one! The last time I was in NY my friend Jennifer and her husband Dave met me there and our same waitress from college was still there! Her name’s Suzi and if you’re ever lucky enough to go make sure you ask for Suzi’s section. She’s a spit fire and the woman is on her game! I think she’s pretty famous there. I found a picture of her on Google.

I don’t know who the guy is, but isn’t she cute?!! They don’t allow laptops in Big Nicks, but not to worry there’s plenty to read on the walls and the menu. The menu is 4 years long and I don’t know how it’s possible to keep that much food fresh. Matter of fact I know it’s not. That’s why I usually stick to pizza, garlic bread and anything fried. They have pretty good diner salads too.

Big Nicks is at 77th & Broadway on the Upper West side.

2175 Broadway.

http://www.bignicksnyc.com

So onto making your own Pizza. Like I said, this is very personal. Make it YOUR way. YOU are in control remember?!! But here is a basic dough recipe that works well

This made me  one large and one medium pizza. I under cooked the medium pizza wrapped it in foil and a ziplock and froze it. We ate it last night. I just put it in t he oven at 400 for about  20 minutes and it was as good as the fresh one!

For fresh pizza I like to let it settle for about 15-30 minutes before I put it in the oven. It gives the dough crust  a  chance to rise again. The oven for a fresh pizza on the pan should be set at 450F for about 20 minutes depending on how well you like it cooked.

Pizza  Dough

1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

3/4 c warm water

1 c cake flour

1 c & 3 tbl. all purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

2 tbl. extra virgin olive oil

In a bowl whisk yeast, water & sugar. Let stand till foamed about 5 min.

In food processor or kitchen aid with dough hook or by hand if necessary blend flours & salt well.

whisk 1 tbl of olive oil into yeast. with  motor running slowly add yeast mix  incorporating little by little. Mix until dough comes off the sides of the bowl. It will be sticky.

Coat the inside of the bowl  with remaining olive oil. dust your hands with flour  and work the dough into a ball. Place in oiled bowl and let rise in warm place till doubled. I turn my oven on low and set the bowl on stove top.

When risen cut dough in half.  Roll the dough out until fairly thin and transfer to pizza pan or cookie sheet and shape it to the pan stretching it in the side. Careful not to rip the dough. If you do just try and pinch it back together or re roll and stretch. It doesn’t have to be perfect especially if it’s just for you.

Have fun with the toppings!! This is where you come in, but here are my suggestions and toppings.

1 can contadina tomato sauce

1 small can of tomato paste or from the tube.

I mix these together to make a semi thick  sauce I suppose you could use a spaghetti sauce too.

I shake dried oregano on top of the spread out sauce and some garlic powder.

Hormel pepperoni

Jimmy Dean loose sausage meat (i lightly cook it first to cut the grease but you don’t have to)

Cheese!!

This is probably the most important part! I use the best cheese possible. It’s important to use whole  milk mozzarella.

Most grocery store mozzarella is part skim milk. Go to your deli where they  have sliced meat. They usually have mozzarella made with whole milk. I also sprinkle on a little extra sharp cheddar. In my opinion Kraft Cracker Barrell extra sharp cheddar is the best tasting store-bought cheese in your typical cheese section. If you want to be really fancy go to a cheese shop where they have amazing selections and you can actually taste them. Bristol farms and Whole Foods are great for that!

Before

After

Now eat the hell out of it!!

And now to set your mood!!!

My favorite!!!





Comfort Food Junkie

25 02 2010

My name is Ryan Black and I’m a comfort food junkie.

Is it even possible to NOT like comfort food? I have no idea. I have no real grasp on that. Anything that has butter or cheese or  sugar or flour is usually on my daily menu. My friend Aimee is allergic to Dairy AND the only meat she eats is fish. I don’t know how she does it?!! I  just can’t imagine my life without dairy and lots of it. No cheese? No butter? That’s one of my worst nightmares!!! I need my dairy fix and I need it now!! How do I do it and keep my girlish figure? I don’t.  1 year ago I was 40 pounds heavier. Gaining weight is definitely not a problem for me for as long as I can remember. I’ve also always been afraid of gaining weight for as long as I can remember. I come from a family of weight gain. Both of my parents have yo yo’ed. My Dad’s done the most yo yoing of both, but both have maintained being overweight my whole life. My younger sister is probably the most overweight, while my older sister & I have  maintained our weight fairly well. Fat runs in the family I guess. My Grandparents were fat, but oddly my great grandparents weren’t. Is it the crap in our food now? Is it the go go grab & go of our daily life? I’m sure there are many contributing factors. I can pretty much only speak for my own eating habits. I can say this though about my younger sister and that is she is almost completely unaware of what she eats. She lived with me for a short while a couple years ago and she always talked about how she didn’t eat any more than any other person. Then she would have 3 doughnuts and a coke.  I love my sister, don’t get me wrong, but I think one of the biggest problems is that people aren’t aware of what they eat. This is why they tell you to log the food down that you eat in a journal. I think most people would be shocked. You hear it all the time “Everything in moderation” &  “Balance”.

I’m not exactly worthy of calling my daily meals balanced, but I can say I am acutely aware of everything I eat and take full responsibility for it! I started becoming aware of weight and eating at a very young age. I can remember all the way back to summer camp when I was 8 and I didn’t want to take my shirt off  at the pool because I thought I was fat. This stigma went  on for many years. I remember my Mom saying time and time again “You don’t want to grow up to be fat like Mom and Dad do you?”. Yes Mom, it’s my dream to be fat just like you and dad. Of course not! Hello!?! Who wants to be fat?

Growing up I was teased for the junk in my trunk. Even my parents called me bubble butt. Although when I grew to be an adult I fully embraced my bubble  butt and realized it was an asset (pun intended). I remember when I was in little league, yes I played baseball and was pretty damned good thank you! Back to back home runs & a triple in one game to lead my team to division champs! Anyhow, when  I was in little league I can remember this kid looking at my legs in my tight white baseball pants and I said “what are you looking at?”. He said “you have fat legs”. I think my response was “yeah well you’re gay”. I think he was actually and wasn’t that the pot calling the kettle Ryan Black. I can remember back to 1st or 2nd grade when little Mark  Emmons saw my Mom after she dropped me off and said “your Mom is fat!”. I never saw her that way and I went home that day and cried to my mom about what he said. It really disturbed me.  Besides my Mom wasn’t obese, she just had a lot of junk in the trunk.

In High School it got worse. I was always dieting one day and eating a Hostess Cherry Pie the next day. My Grandmother always shopped on HSN and was a sucker for gadgets and deals. One time she bought Richard Simmons Deal A Meal. It was this little pocket-book folder with cards on one side and slots on the other.

Each card had a food group on it and every time you ate something on that card you moved it over to the slots. When your cards were gone you couldn’t eat anymore. She used it for a week and then I took it. It actually taught me a lot about eating. My cards were usually folded  by lunch. EEK! Well…schools have horrible menu items and snack bars. It’s too easy to eat like shit in High School. Endless amounts of sugar and fat.

The straw that drank its last milk shake was when I was in college in a dance class and my ballet teacher Casey Colgan said I needed to lose ten pounds.  We wore tights in class which was completely mortifying to me to begin with. They showed everything! I even had cellulite! That was humiliating. A boy with cellulite? I’d ask God “Why God? Why me? Why cellulite?”. Yeah  I was pretty dramatic. A couple months later I left school and came home. When I got home I got my first gym membership at 18. That was it! No one anymore is going to comment on my fat, my ass, my legs or anything else negatively related to my body. I’m taking control!! Kind of. At least control of me.

Well, I was never really that consistent at it, but it was a start. I started learning about running and weight lifting and cardio and heart rates and body fat ratios. I wouldn’t say I became obsessed, but I definitely started to notice a difference and I liked that. I’ve continued over the years going back and forth to gyms. In the last year I’ve been my most successful. 2 years ago I was at the fattest I’ve ever been. I know exactly how it happened. I was depressed. I was unmotivated. I felt empty. Food ah my lovely friend. It’s always there for you isn’t it? I know it’s always there for you because there’s a 300 pound homeless man that stands outside of 7 11 all the time asking for food or money.  I usually opt to give him money.  Back to my weight gain.  I am a control freak and a perfectionist and I’m cast as type A. So this can go one way (or weigh) or the other. When my career is down, my weight is up. When my career is up, my weight is down. When my love life is down, my weight is up. When my love life is up, my weight is  down. Some of these things you’d think would be the opposite. As a control freak why can’t I control it all. I think because I give up control to try to control the other. Why can’t they coexist? They can. We just try to fill voids in our life. Things get boring, monotonous, redundant, repetitive or any other adjective you’d like to choose as an excuse. I had to choose to control it all. I’m not happy being over weight. I’m not even that happy eating that horrible food, well that might be a lie. I  love a big mac, a hostess cherry pie, pizza blah blah blah, but I realized I could have my cupcake and eat it too.  I had to get control of my life and my weight again. For the clothes buying experience alone! There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to fit into anything because your eyes still see your old waist size. I’d eyeball jeans and try them on only to be shocked that they didn’t fit! I didn’t understand. I didn’t look that much fatter to me. I have the fortune or misfortune of gaining weight fairly equally on my whole body with a special nod to my legs and ass. It takes me a while to notice my weight gain. This is why it became imperative for me to measure my own body. Sounds like a pain, but especially when you’re working out it’s important. Muscle does weigh more than fat and the scale does nothing to show you that. So each week I would log my measurements head to toe. Contrary to popular belief my head never increased in size.  This was excited to me. Seeing the progress or lack thereof was both motivating and  fun.  I don’t always like to workout but I started to find things that I love. I love to hike our local canyon called Runyon. I love to see the difference in measurements. I love the pina colada protein smoothie at the end of my workout  (wish it had rum in it though). I love the music on my ipod. I shudder to say I love my orgasm more tee hee.  I love getting out of my home office and seeing the world. I love a good stretch at the end of working out…so peaceful and tranquil.

You have to find the joy. It’s work like everything else, but it’s all in how you set your mind. I’m not saying I don’t fall off  or have a day where I don’t want to, but you have to find the joy in it. And everything for that matter. It’s too easy to bring the negative into everything and I’m as guilty as anybody if not more so of that. There are very few things we have total control of in our life. We can’t control that annoying person on their phone in the car in front of us. We can’t control our friends who make the wrong choices.  We can’t control the person who has 20 items in the 15 items or less line. We can’t control the people who don’t pick up their dog shit. We can’t control the idiot at my gym who clearly doesn’t believe in bathing.  I could go on for hours BUT we can control our own bodies. Isn’t that empowering to think? We spend so much time trying to control so many things around us while paying little attention to the one thing you can control the most and that’s you! You are the most important person in your life. Without you, you can’t make a difference in the world. Without you, you can’t make the company you work for better. Without you, your kids or your dog for that matter wouldn’t have a better life. It all starts with you.  It’s  like when they tell you on an airplane if we’re going down put your mask on first then put a mask on your child. That always sounded odd to me because your child should always be first, but your child is history if you pass out from lack of oxygen. So you have to take control of your own air first so that your child has someone to rely on. That bachelor wall street guy sitting next to you’s not gonna be thinkin’ of your kid while he’s cryin’ for mama.

So enough of the Oprah hour and back to comfort food. I guiltlessly present to you last nights comfort food. I had a couple t-bones in the freezer and really wanted a meat & potatoes meal. I made Au Gratin Potatoes  and OH MAH GAW. All in moderation right? That’s why both Dana & I paused American Idol to get seconds. I’ll give you the recipe here for both that & my candied carrots I call Kettle Carrots. Then I will go work out for 2 hours.

OHHH Gratin Potatoes

serves 8 (or 4 in my family)

5  med. white potatoes

1 white onion

6 pieces bacon

1 1/2 c. milk

1/4 cup cream

1 1/2 c. extra sharp cheddar cheese grated

1/4 c. sour cream

3 tbl. flour

2 tbl. butter

1/2 tsp. Paprika

Pepper

Salt

Parsley

Preheat oven to 400F

First I slice the onions & potatoes with a mandolin. I bought my first mandolin a couple months ago and I LOVE it. I don’t know how I lived so long with out one. It’s OXO brand and it looks like this

They have them at William Sonoma,  Sur La Table & Bed Bath & Beyond I believe for $39. I’m sure they’re online as well. Well worth it!!

So either slice both potatoes and onion thin or on the mandolin I do 1/16th cut. You may like them thicker depends on your taste. You’re in control! See?!

Put a pot of boiling salted & oiled water on the stove for potatoes. In the meantime fry the bacon to a chrisp. Remove to paper towel. Reserve 2 tbl. of bacon grease and put into a medium sauce pan.  Over medium heat put the butter into the saucepan and melt with bacon grease. Slowly whisk flour in to make a roux/thickener. Immediately whisk in milk and cream bring to a simmer and turn off heat. Mix your cheese into this and then your sour cream.  Add paprika, salt & pepper to taste. If you think it’s too thick add a little milk and heat on low for a minute or two. Chop two tbl. parsley and crumble bacon. In your boiling water add the potatoes & onions carefully. Boil only for 2 minutes and completely drain being careful not to break the potatoes.

In a gratin or casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray layer potatoes, bacon, & sauce in that order twice. Then top with parsley & more paprika and pepper if you like.  Bake at 400 for about 35 minutes until golden and bubbly on top. I like it a little more done so I bake for about 40-45  mins.

Kettle  carrots

serves 2

1/2 pound carrots  (i get the already peeled & prepared kind)

1 tbl butter or margarine

1 tbl. brown sugar

pinch of salt

Boil the carrots in a medium sauce pan for about 10 minutes & drain. In the same pan melt butter, then add salt & sugar. Blend until combined completely about 1 minute or less. Add carrots,  toss & swirl around in pan. Serve.

OHH Gratin

The dish





Sad News

24 02 2010

Please join me in remembering a great icon of the entertainment
community. The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection
and trauma complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71.

Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities
turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry
Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and
Captain Crunch. The grave site was piled high with flours.

Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a
man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Doughboy rose quickly in
show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was
not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on
half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times, he still
was a crusty old man and was considered a positive roll model for
millions.

Doughboy is survived by his wife Play Dough, two children, John Dough
and Jane Dough, plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by
his elderly father, Pop Tart.

The funeral was held at 3:50 for 20 minutes.

Doughboy in happier times

If this made you smile, please rise to the occasion and take time to
pass it on, and share that smile with someone else who may be having a
crumby day and kneads it……..xoxo

You’ve probably been forwarded this a million times, BUT my neighbor Ed sent this to me and it made me laugh. It’s one of the few forwards I’ve ever opened.

It also reminded me of when I was a kid and my Mom used to buy those Pillsbury cans all the time. I used  to  get so excited to pop open those cans. They were like a little firework of dough. OH  and remember the Orange Icing Rolls?!! Those were so good! The cans were always in our fridge and Mom had many ways of using all the different kinds. As a working Mother she knew a few shortcuts. I’ll share a couple here with you.

Of course I do have to say that nothing compares to scratch made dough, but my Mom & Dad both had sweet tooths and of course with those odds it was passed on to me.  When there were no sweets in the house my Mom would  make

Pillsbury Doughnut Holes

Here’s what you do

1  can of biscuits

Bowl of melted butter

Bowl of Sugar &  Cinnamon

Half each biscuit & roll into balls and place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake as instructions say.

When done let them cool a bit until you can handle them. Dip in the butter and roll in the sugar & cinnamon.

Volia! They’re kind of like doughnut holes and if you’re like my Mom, the ingredients are always there.

I also loved these little nubs of lovliness that my mom usually served with tater tots! Yeah we were a classy family.

Dough Dogs!!

Remember those? I still make these because I LOVE them!

Here’s what you do;

1 can Crescent rolls (I think there’s 8 rolls in a can)

Hot Dogs

Sandwich cheese slices ( I like American ) or regular slices of cheese

Pop open that can and seperate those crescents. Slice Hot Dogs 3/4 through. Cut cheese slices into 4 pieces length wise.

Stuff the cheese in the hot dogs. Take the long end of the crescent and roll the hot dog in it. With the point on top place on a cookie sheet and bake as directions say or until golden & bubbly. YUM!

If you just want half the amount save half the dough in a ziplock for next week!

Well I must get back to making my homemade Turkey Pot Pies!! I’ll let you know tomorrow how they turn out.

Meanwhile check out these videos in memory of Mr. Doughboy ;-(

Classic Doughboy





Bananas In My Freezer

21 02 2010

For as long as I can remember there have always been Bananas in my freezer. My Mom, Grandma, Aunts, Sisters, Cousins, Great Grandma, Great Great Grandma always had damned bananas in their freezer. I don’t think I ever saw any of them actually use them. It was just the thing you were taught to do. When your bananas go brown you stick them in the freezer. Most obviously with the good intention of making banana bread. My Grandmother had a killer recipe for banana bread and would actually make it. I never saw her actually pull the bananas out of the freezer but man did that banana bread taste good. Yet still after making it you’d open the freezer and out would fall a dozen frozen bananas on the floor.
By way of habit and learned behavior I have subsequently always kept skin on charcoal brown bananas in my freezer. I probably use them more than my Mom did and dare I say more than my Grandmother. But WHY oh why do we keep so many bananas in our freezer? It started to eat at me. Silly I know, but I started to think about it and it’s like everything else in our life. We collect things. We’re pack rats. Our Grandmother’s and Great Grandmothers were from the rationing and depression and war era. Was there ever a shortage of bananas? I don’t know. There certainly never was in my family, at least not brown frozen ones. So it bugged me and I decided to do something about it. I’m gonna use those damned bananas if it kills me. I started making banana bread and giving it out to my neighbors and friends. I’m always looking for banana recipes. My sister gave me a tip that never occurred to me. She said to peel the bananas and cut them up first and put them into a ziplock. I thought that was genius. I did it once and missed the brown bananas in my freezer and never did it again. Am I too young to be old-fashioned? I just am. I’m a creature of habit.
It started to occur to me that there was some sort of deeper meaning to all of this. Maybe I think too much, but it’s like cleaning out your life. If you put bananas in your freezer, use the damned things. Clutter is and has always been apart of my life. I’m not exactly a hoarder, but I’ll keep things because I’m afraid I’ll need them. Things, things, things. It all has got to stop! So I’m cleaning out my freezer and my drawers and my closets and I’m breaking the cycle. I’ll still keep bananas in my freezer. I may not cut them up, but I will use the damned things if it kills me.

So here I am with you. I want to introduce you to Bananas In My Freezer. It’s my way of cleaning out my life. I’ll share with you old family recipes and newly discovered successful ones as well.
There’s a lot of heritage in my family because basically I’m a mutt. So with that you’ll get a lot of where my family comes from. Places like Scotland, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Ireland, Germany, England, Norway, and America all the way back to the 16th century. Also recipes from growing up in Los Angeles. I’m obsessed with Mexican food, both Americanized and authentic. I had an Italian landlady who used to cook for me once a week, so you’ll get some of that. Now I live next door to an Italian family that I love to drag recipes out of. They’re a brother & sister who live in a top and bottom duplex and they fight like cats and dogs everyday. I mean full-blown knock down drag out cuss fests. When they really get mad they start cursing in Italian. I start to day dream that I’m actually living in Italy or Brooklyn.
I’m a huge comfort and soul food fan so you’ll get a lot of that as well.
I’m fascinated with confectionary & baking. I especially love to make outrageous cakes & decorated sugar cookies.

I’m also pretty crafty. I love to paint & make creative useful things. I’d like to share that with you as well.
So I hope you’ll join me & enjoy it as much as I do.
Food’s a wonderful thing. It brings people together and it melts so many cultures and topics together that I think it changes the world in some way.
Thanks for stopping by Bananas In My Freezer.