Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hazing the newest diners.

Will and Carmen are the newest members of our Top Chef Dinner Club. No, we are not Top Chefs. In fact, we are not chefs at all, but rather enthusiastic home cooks. Yes, we do watch the TV show Top Chef together, religiously, and always accompanied by a Dinner meal. And we do it on a regular basis with exclusive membership, hence the Club. Thus, Top Chef Dinner Club.

For a long time we were a group of six dedicated members, but now we are a group of eight thanks to Will and Carmen. They just moved back to San Antonio after a three year stint in L.A. - a time in which our local Dinner Club grew and flourished into the fine-dining, many-bottle-of-wine, every-other-week, flanked-by-viewing-Top-Chef extravaganza that it is today.

These friends are fine people, well traveled and versed in the ways of fine dining. They have even eaten at The French Laundry, which is something the rest of us Dinner Club members have never done. But fancy dining pedigree or none, not just any foodie joins our coveted club. Not without a challenge at least. A "quick fire" challenge if you will. So a few weeks ago at John and Lauren's house, we set up a "pantry" full of odd ingredients, including a cucumber, an unknown white squash, nuts, white radishes, lemon curd, prosciutto, chocolate, crackers, lobster pate, and bamboo shoots. Also, i think there we some other crazy Asian ingredients in there. And then we instructed Will and Carmen to create for us an appetizer in 30 minutes. The fate of their Dinner Club membership depended on it.

The final result? A prosciutto roll stuffed with lemon curd, served on a cracker with a balsamic vinegar on top. Carmen even admitted that she would have liked to reduce the vinegar into a thicker sauce, but was nervous about the time. We gave then credit as though they had made a reduction. The simple fact that they talked about it seemed fancy enough to grant then some foodie street cred.

The appetizer was interesting, and watching them squirm nervously at the hazing was even more interesting. Membership status solidified. Now we wait anxiously for their first real hosting gig, to find out what kind of recipes and cooking skill they bring to Dinner Club.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Do you recognize these melons?

I know, I know, these are not really melons, but squash. But I couldn't resist the titillating play on words. Call me immature. Or call me humorous. But whatever you call me, please help me figure out what these veggies are!

Squash, melon, or otherwise, I am also curious how to cook these veggies. They arrived in our CSA drop over the past few weeks. Our friends John and Lauren also received such a vegetable, and claim it is filled with a white flesh much like zucchini. But I have researched round zucchinis, and find these to be more oblong than they are supposed to be. Perhaps they are something else? And if indeed they are a round zucchini, then what is the best way to prepare them. I am at a loss.

Part of me does indeed hope they are a round zucchini, as my feminist side is excited to have a squash vegetable that more appropriately represents a female than a male. After all, the traditional summer zucchini, for better or worse, is rather phallic. I think it is rather nice to have a bosom-inspired squash for once. Then again, if I keep these jokes up folks may just lose their appetite. Or gain it. Who knows?

p.s. Do you like my new blouse? I found it for $8 at San Antonio's new Buffalo Exchange. I never thought a tie-neck blouse was my style, but it turns out sometimes I am wrong. I am loving this one.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things: Dryer sheets and Vera Linens

If I were to be cast in the role of Maria in The Sound of Music, and I were asked to sing "My Favorite Things" you had better believe that instead of singing about schnitzel with noodles, I would be singing about dryer sheets and Vera Neumann linens. They are two of my very favorite things (along with girls in white dresses, but I can forgo the blue satin sashes in place of a killer strappy sandal). Perhaps this is why my weekend jaunt to the laundry mat to launder all of the linens for Sarah and Aaron's wedding was more of a treat than a chore.

In fact, it was without a doubt one of the more self indulgent weekend activities I have undertaken lately. Sam and I are lucky enough to have a washer dryer stack in our apartment, so I never get the chance to visit the laundry mat anymore these days. But that's not to say I don't enjoy it, and perhaps because it is a choice rather than a mandatory trip, it is a really pleasant errand for me (much like going to Target). I brought a jar of peanut M&Ms for a snack. I had a magazine and a book to browse. I people-watched to my heart's content, making up little stories about each of the laundry mat's clientele and imagining little vignettes of young laundry folders meeting and falling in lover over a jug of Cheer, just like in the movies. At one point I even ordered takeout thai food from the restaurant across the street, then ate pad thai with chopsticks while lounging in a teal plastic bucket seat, the comforting whirl of washers and dryers humming around me. And of course I huffed the scent of dryer sheets with relish. It was great.

The next task is to press and fold all 150 napkins, which is decidedly less exciting than laundering them in the Olmos Park Wash and Fold. Wish me luck, as this ironing falls in the category "When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when you have 150+ napkins to press and fold and you're feeling sad..." During the pressing, I will have to remember my favorite things, because then I won't feel so bad.