Saturday, October 11, 2008

Waning Powers

"My powdered toast particles are dissipating!", cried the distraught super hero from the Ren & Stimpy Show.

Man, that line got us every time, as giggly 14 year olds. But its not so funny when it happens to you. It's like that scene in Spiderman--
or was it Spiderman 2? I know it wasn't Spiderman 3... (that was an insult to the intelligence of giggly 14 year olds everywhere, and just plain made me mad for wasting $20 and 2 hours of my life... but I digress). It was just like that scene in Spiderman, where Spidey suddenly falls from the sky as his web runs dry & he loses his super-powers. He's just left to be Peter Parker.

Well, like I said, its great to watch on TV, but when it happens to you, its just not funny anymore.

Yes, my friends, it seems that my Martha Powers are waning.
I don't know how it happened or why, but suddenly my skills as homemaker extraordinaire seem to have left me. I didn't quite notice it at first: it started with a batch of black beans that I ruined by adding too much salt. And everyone knows that once you've added too much salt, there's no going back.

After that, I was positively inspired by a recipe I found on my favorite blog, Orangette (which is brilliant and you should read!). She (the brilliant author) ordered me to go out immediately & buy the ingredients for a recipe-- and like a good little Martha, I did. After much work & anticipation, I sat down to eat dinner that night and was terribly disappointed. It was like something that would have sat in a cafeteria line at summer camp. At that point, I started to wonder: Was it me, or the recipe?

But what truly confirmed the kryponite in my kitchen was the dinner I made last night. For weeks now, I have been itching for an opportunity to feed vegetarians. Strange, I know, but there was this cheese souffle recipe I was in ecstasy over several months ago, and I suddenly had this uncontrollable urge to make it again. And, of course, who better to feed a cheese souffle to than vegetarians? It all makes perfect sense to me.

So, for about a week, an expensive
hunk of Gruyere sat in my refrigerator, staring up at me imploringly, begging me to turn it into a glorious souffle. "Patience, " I told it, "Friday night, our vegetarian friends are coming over, and you will bring them much joy."

But it didn't work out that way. We got home from work too late, and I was a panicked wreck in the kitchen, trying to pull together this beautiful meal I had been dreaming of for weeks. Sadly, nothing was ready when they arrived, and I had to retreat back to the cave of our kitchen, hidden from view & conversation, while Chris entertained our guests, and I threw ingredients around the cramped, messy kitchen.

The souffle was flavorless, the roasted carrots & potatoes were bland... but the herbed garlic bread was buttery & delicious. Despite the fact that dinner was just okay, we had a great time and got to know some wonderful new friends. My conclusion is that, for the time-- until I can channel my Martha Stewart energies back again-- I will be content with just being Christine, and keep it sim

So, here are a few yummy, everyday, non-superhero recipes for the rest of us mortals:

  • Saute 3 or 4 heads of garlic, along with 1 red bell pepper (quartered) in a tablespoon or more of olive oil, until soft & fragrant (3 or 4 minutes)
  • In a blender or food processor, puree 2 cans of garbanzo beans (drained), a good scoop or two of tahini (sesame paste, available at Trader Joe's), a few tablespoons of lemon juice, a splash of soy sauce, salt, cayene pepper, & cumin to taste.
  • Add the garlic & bell pepper & puree. Add a little more olive oil or water if the consistency is too thick, and a little more spices or lemon juice if the flavor doesn't "pop" enough.
Feel free to play around with the recipe-- it's very forgiving & open to interpretation! Serve it with carrots & this next "recipe" (like I did last night!)

Rosemary Crackers:
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Brush olive oil onto thin rectangles of flat bread (available at Trader Joes-- labeled as "Lavash Bread")
  • Sprinkle fresh chopped rosemary & coarse sea salt on top & throw it in the oven on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes, until it's crispy (but before it's browned too much)
  • Break it into pieces & serve with dip (or hummus!)

Herbed Garlic Bread:
  • Preheat the oven to... oh, about 400
  • Chop several basil leaves & several sprigs of rosemary or thyme, as well as 2 or 3 heads of garlic
  • Blend the herbs & garlic with about a stick of softened butter and a few tablespoons of parmesan cheese
  • Spread the butter mixture generously onto a big, yummy baguette or some other fresh, hearty bread & bake for a few minutes until it's toasty & fragrant
  • If you really want to get crazy, add even more parmesan cheese on top of the butter mixture before baking
Delicious with pasta... or just about anything =)


Anonymous said...

Actually, I think Martha has not been herself since being released from prison. You're no doubt being too hard on yourself - I'm sure your dinner WAS FABULOUS!

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think Martha has not been herself since being released from prison. You're no doubt being too hard on yourself - I'm sure your dinner WAS FABULOUS!

Anonymous said...

You should find some Ugandans and feed them... They like bland crappy food.

Anonymous said...

Was the Hummus recipe for ME?