Monthly Archives: March 2014

Kitchen Appliances – My new found favorites (Part One)

I’m a new cook.  A year ago, I could not make more than a cheese quesadilla or something frozen that requires unwrapping the plastic and sticking it in the oven.  Then, I started cooking, and I discovered a newfound love – for my crockpot, my skillet, and a really good knife.  Here are my newbie-chef favorites:

-My crockpot.  Starting off in the kitchen is intimidating, but throwing a bunch of ingredients in a pot is not.  My sister, who knows I’m a little grossed out by raw meat, suggested this one to me.  “Just wash some chicken and put it in the pot, and with a little crockpot magic it’ll come out cooked,” she told me.  “Really?!” I said, incredulous that I would not have to cut or really even spend much time touching the raw chicken.  “Really,” she said.  I came home after work, the first time I tried it, and when I walked in the building I smelled something good.  Somebody’s having a delicious dinner, I thought, walking into my apartment.  Opening my door, I was pleased to discover that the somebody was me!

-My cast-iron skillet. It can cook on the stove and in the oven!  And the flavor builds with time, and it also just seems so durable and there for me.  It’s also really heavy, and it’s a skillet, so I feel like a legitimate cook with it.  Only drawback: the handle gets hot.  I need to get one of those rubber covers for it before I burn my hand.  Remembering that the handle gets hot is not my strong suit.

-My little coffee maker.  Ok, so I’ve had this for a while, and it’s not a new cooking favorite, really.  But I love it!  It holds four cups and it’s not complicated, I just fill it and turn it on.  No fancypants espresso for me at home.  That’s why Starbucks exists.

-MY IMMERSION BLENDER.  This is what made ketchup possible for me!  I am a bit clumsy and I inherently dislike messes, so being able to just stick a blender in the pot and let it work it’s magic, rather than transfer in and out of my upright blender, is amazing.  Kudos to my brother on this suggestion.

-The really good knife.  I have to say, it sounds boring but it’s wonderful.  My boyfriend may appreciate this even more than I do, as he is the Salad Master and helps me chop things when I’m freaking out because I started cooking before remembering to chop a key ingredient.

-My mac’n’cheese pot.  Does this pot have a name?  For years that’s all I used it for.  (I’ve been told by my first reader that this is actually called a “saucepan”).  Now I use it to make quinoa, sauces, and… yeah I still make mac’n’cheese from the box sometimes.




P.S. I wish I could take pictures of smells, so you could smell my crockpot dinner too.  Since I can’t, I’ll just have to encourage you to make a crockpot dinner for yourself!


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Filed under Cooking, The Kitchen

Starting the conversation

My friend called me up from Philadelphia.

“How have you been, J?” he asked.

“Oh, I’ve been okay,” I answered, “I had an allergic reaction last week though, so things could be better.”


He paused before asking, “So what exactly happens when you have an allergic reaction?”

“Well… my skin itches and gets red, sometimes my cheeks flush… my stomach gets very upset, and I start to shake… my gums feel tingly and sometimes there is a tickle in the back of my throat, and then if it goes too far, I can feel my throat start to swell and my asthma kicks in.”




“So, could you die from this?” he asked.

The question hung in the air over the phone.  “Yeah,” I answered, matter-of-fact.

Two months earlier, I had stayed with this friend on a visit to Philly.  I had a full conversation with him before my arrival about my new food allergies, and I requested to cook a dinner for him and his housemates to alleviate the stress I feel from dining out and when traveling in general.  He was caring about it all and quickly accepted the offer.  I thought this meant that he understood exactly what this all meant to me – but I realized when he asked if I could die from this that for whatever reason that message had not gotten across.

We carried on with our conversation as usual, and I tucked my nugget of frustration into my back pocket.  Later, I took it out and thought through how this could have happened.  Had I not explained it well?  Had he not heard it?

I think it may be difficult for friends and family to hear about life-threatening conditions.  It can be difficult to process, and many don’t want to fully face the reality of such an uncomfortable fact.  There is not an easy way to start a dialogue with friends and family (or continue one, if they don’t hear it) that involves the fact of a very real possibility of a life-threatening situation.  We don’t want to hear that our friends could die.  We don’t want to be responsible.  We don’t want them to be uncomfortable, either.

It’s possible I didn’t want to scare him, and so left out the gory details of what happens during an allergic reaction.  It’s possible my friend wasn’t really paying attention the first time.  Or perhaps he didn’t want to hear it, or thought I was over-exaggerating.  Perhaps because he cares about me, it was too difficult to consider.  No matter the reason, our phone conversation led me to the conclusion that food allergies, and health-restricted diets, and life-threatening conditions, are not an easy or regular part of our social dialogue.

Let’s start the conversation.


Filed under Social issues

Cooking – Easy Roasted Chickpea Bites

Find yourself a can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas).  Pop that can.  Drain ‘em, rinse em, drizzle some oil (I enjoy Wegman’s Basting Oil) and maybe garlic and basil over them, and roast them in the oven on a pan for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

20 minutes in, you will smell them.  Don’t be tempted by the aroma to pull them out early.  At 30 minutes, they should be sizzling but not burnt.  Take them out and spatula those bites onto a plate covered with a paper towel.

Try not to eat them all in one go.  Or if you do, make sure it’s not a date night.  You know what they say about beans…

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Filed under Cooking, Recipes