Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Veggie Fried Rice

I have a deep dark culinary secret. It's something I'm really ashamed of, so don't laugh when I tell you...I'm terrible at making rice.

I know, I know, it's ironic in an Alanis Morissette way that I have a cooking blog and yet I'm bad at making rice, one of the most basic things you can do in the kitchen right along with boiling an egg.  But the fact remains, I'm just not successful in the rice department. Either I undercook the rice and it turns out soggy and hard, or I overcook it and end up with a layer of charcoal in the bottom of my pan. Sometimes I manage to do both at the same time.

You might be wondering why, then, I decided to make fried rice, which involves both making regular rice and then the more difficult task of stir-frying it. Well, the answer it pretty basic: I was hungry, and the ingredients I had on hand lent themselves to fried rice.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Emmy Nomination Blues

It all started out so well.

Emmy nominations were released on Thursday, and I was as excited as a kid on Christmas morning.  While overall it was a somewhat lackluster year in television, there were some really great performances and exceptional episodes along the way. When I finally had time to go to the Emmys' site, at first I thought all of my dreams had come true--that the nominations were going to reflect the best of the year. The first list that popped up was lead actress in a drama series...and at the top of the list was Vera Farmiga from Bates Motel! This is what I had been waiting for! The Emmys to break their own routines, to recognize great breakout performances. This was such a good omen! But alas, my joy was short lived. As I kept going through category after category, it became clear this year was perhaps one of the worst in terms of snubbing the deserving and rewarding the mediocre.

Awards shows all have their own cliched pitfalls, and the Emmys are no exception.  Because of the repetitive nature of the genre--TV shows can run for years-- we see the same names being nominated (and winning) over and over again.  This year, I was particularly disappointed by the nominees for comedies. But let me go back to the beginning.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Peach and Raspberry Pie

One of the great paradoxes of life is the desire to make fresh fruit pies in the middle of summer.  Berries and stone fruit are in season, so summer is the perfect time to make a pie. But the oppressive heat makes you want to do anything BUT turn on your oven. When faced with the choice of to pie or not to pie, I always choose pie. If only Hamlet had had this kind of clarity.

I'm not actually a huge peach pie fan. When a pie is made with just peaches, I find the flavor to be one-dimensional and sometimes cloyingly sweet. At the other end of the spectrum, raspberries pies are notoriously tart, even for a raspberry fiend like myself.  But when you marry the two together, ahhhhhh.....perfect harmony. The raspberries add some tartness and variety to the pie, and the peaches, when balanced with something else, seem delightfully sweet and summery.

Pies fillings are very straightforward things to make, so to challenge myself, I decided to make my crust from scratch. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Simple Summer Mojitos

It. Is. Hot.

It is flipping hot, actually. And humid. Thank heavens for air conditioning! I honestly think if I had to live somewhere as muggy as Western PA in July without AC, I would lose my will to live. Call me dramatic if you must, but the humidity right now is seriously out of control.

I'm always astounded that air conditioning wasn't invented until the 20th century, and even after that wasn't widely used until the middle of the century. If I had been around when the distribution of electricity was implemented, the FIRST THING I would have done would have been to invent residential air conditioning... Given I was at least an engineer and probably also a genius.

Fun fact: great strides were made in the technology behind air conditioning during the construction of the Panama Canal. Workers were contracting malaria from mosquitos, but they thought it was from the heat, so they developed AC as a preventative measure. Obviously it didn't work, which was bad news for the guys with malaria, but great in the long run for us today.

I think the best relief during these hot, humid day is a nice, cold beverage.  Preferably made with rum. I made these simple mojitos for my family and they were a smashing success.