Happy Halloween! Am I dressing up? I’m not dressing up. I’m continuing in the grand tradition of exempting myself from holidays and social interaction by drinking cider, eating candy, and watching Twin Peaks in bed. Compare this to last year’s Bobcat Goldthwait/pumpkin crêpe and 2011’s Kubrick/leftover slices of cake marathon and you’ve got yourself a trend.
Today is just a good day to celebrate being an adult. What’s that, you ask? Well, over my carefully prepared lunch of gluten-free Easy Ma-er, Annie’s Rice Pasta and Cheddar in individual cups, I’ll tell you. It all started this morning, when I woke up after a mild-mannered evening of Thai food, Riesling, and more backepisodes of Pokemon than I care to mention, with the Bedfellow. I woke up realizing that not only had I planned early enough to get some early notes done for class that morning, but that I’d also spent the better part of the evening cleaning my floors and ranting about party etiquette. Why don’t people know how to RSVP? Adult problems, people.
Continue reading “Annie’s Rice Pasta and Cheddar”
Spam comments are friendly. They’re weird, but they’re friendly. Certainly better than the weird shit I get from real people, ranging from complaints directed to a specific branch of a multinational corporation or disturbingly specific health issues, or personal attacks. Even the one that just said, ‘ass this is my website ass’ entertained me more than the diarrheic diatribe on…diarrhea. They keep me entertained during my long days, especially when I’ve caught up on work and have little to do but bake gluten-free muffins and dance with animatronic birds.
I miss McDonald’s. They tweeted me the other day and I didn’t have the heart to tell them how much I loved them and wanted them back. I’ve been pulling up to the local franchise on North Beacon, standing outside with my trusty Sounddock cued up to ‘In Your Eyes.’ The neighbors really didn’t like that, but it’s for love, y’know?
I have also scared The Bedfellow on two occasions when she was eating a McDouble, the first culminating in the screamed repetition of ‘BREEEAAAADDDDDD’ along with an accusatory finger point, and the second was a little more subtle, the silent but ever-powerful ‘Hungry Dog’ look.
Please note that this also happens with real cupcakes. But I’m getting help. I’m looking for solutions. One of those may or may not be the scarily reasonably-priced chicken nuggets from Applegate Farms. I get them from the Stop and Shop that has all of the gluten-free things, and then go to the Stop and Shop with the wide array of tortillas and better sauces. For a mere $5, I have the power of 16 chicken nuggets. They’re about 75% smaller than Mickey D’s, almost closer to popcorn chicken, and come with a selection of zero dipping sauces, but work out pretty well in the price department.
In fact, they actually remind me of my own homemade nuggets, may their recipe rest in peace. Rest in pie. Ress in pee. I give up, there’s no joke there. They are coated in a mixture of corn starch and rice flour, which could be pretty easy to replicate. I dipped them in hot mustard. Because the breading is somewhat yellowed to begin with, it’s difficult to tell when they are finished. I tested one for quality assurance and found that the breading was somewhat sticky when they were undercooked, but eventually crisped up with no trouble at all. And while I’m happy to flip over the nuggets to ensure maximum crunch, doing so with such delicate breading is frustrating.
Despite the slight fumbles, though, these are an amazing substitute for nuggets or any breaded chicken, if you’re patient and can get the breading very crispy. The chicken is tender and moist, with a thick, crispy coating, heavy on the black pepper. Dipped in hot mustard, there’s nothing better.
Also, because I’m an adult, I ate them on top of my recently paid insurance bills, hashtag classy, like a boss, or comparable bill-paying figure. I’m curious to see how these would be if I fried them, too. Ultimately, it’s something I would buy again. It’s easy to eat a box as a meal when you’re not in the mood to cook.
I am probably not the best person to be marketed toward. Like you, my Google search terms can best be described as ‘erratic and occasionally emotionally disturbing.’ An evening may start on the NY Times, clicking around various op-ed articles about death, and then abruptly switch to sixteen different pasta recipes. From there, Bloomberg and Cracked are visited in equal amounts, and I typically culminate the evening with a two-hour jag of Corgi-hunting, crying, and pointing on Petfinder. Also, porn.
So whenever I see ads in my mailbox for food or Kleenex or caskets, I laugh because it’s all very obtuse. Google doesn’t know me much better than your average Facebook stalker does. Do I mind it? In the sense that I don’t want it to happen, yes. I’m entitled to my privacy in dog and carb-lusting, but the ads are so ridiculous that to an extent, I don’t even care. The spot-on precision of the recent Udi’s package, though, that’s an accuracy in espionage that I don’t mind at all. I received a box of products from Udi’s today that makes me want to lobby for the Foodette Inbetween Nourishment and Enrichment Bill of 2013, which exists solely for the purpose of me being able to eat all the muffins in one day. One of the included items was something I’d been ogling at each visit to Whole Foods, shaking my head every time I passed them. Soft-baked salted caramel and cashew cookies. Holy bane of my existence, Batman. Did they film me? Did they gauge the sweat on my palms through my implanted social media machine? I don’t know.
That is, until I got a box of Udi’s treats today, including these wonder-cookies. They’re beautiful. They are chewy and soft, and have the texture and homey raw flour tinge of a fresh sugar cookie. I had an ex who used to make killer cookies, and these are the closest thing I have to them. The cashews add a nice salty, nuttiness, which offsets the more protein bar-esque flavor of the cookie base. I liked that the caramel element wasn’t in the form of a saccharine filling or sticky sauce on top, but felt more incorporated into the cookie, and gave it a rich, brown butter flavor.
TL;DR: I ate four, thus negating the mega-power-ultra workout I did the other day. Oh, the timing of it all.
I’m food negligent. Maybe you’ve seen it before. The truth is, I’m not good at food. Not ‘food preparation,’ I’m great at that. Not ‘food eating’- that speaks for itself. No, I’m talking about the wild, ephemeral, time-sensitive concept of general ‘food.’ And the thing at which I suck. I go grocery shopping maybe once a month, sometimes on my own, sometimes with The Bedfellow or my Mom, like today. And I get a lot of food. Plenty of staples, healthy snacks, ingredients for recipes, condiments. Shopping feels great, especially when there hasn’t been a lot of food in the house and I’ve spent the last four days making variations on ‘Bean Mustard Rice Chex Taco Surprises’. (The surprise is the lack of flavor.)
But seriously, the moment I leave the apparently sterile, cryogenic arms of the temperature-monitored grocery store, I start freaking out. As I’m putting the pasta into my cupboard, or am carefully wrapping the chicken to freeze for later, I panic. What if my freezer isn’t cold enough? I wonder, checking the temperature for the eighteenth time, moving aside buffalo steaks and duck breasts that could bludgeon a grown man to death. How do I know my vegetables are okay? I worry, staring at the crisper drawer like it’s a petri dish filled with herpes. I take an apple, a sushi roll, and a round of goat cheese out. Because you are with me, I think, you will die sooner and sadder than you would in the hands of a normal person. After all, they have to share top billing with the other food that comes and goes in my life. It’s never just goat cheese- it’s six different kinds of aged goat cheese, with a wedge of cheddar and St. Nectaire for the sheer hell of it.
It’s a tragic feeling.
I’m so sorry, organic polenta. We were doomed from the start.
You deserved better.
And it compels me to eat the sushi and the goat cheese for dinner and lie awake in bed at night, worrying about the ribeye. What will happen to them? How can I take care of them, like delicious, spoiling babies? Some foods are easy. Most foods are hard.
Macarons, on the other hand, are not hard. I don’t need to worry about keeping them fresh because they’re typically gone before you can say ‘Ladurée.’ They’re French, they’re gluten-free, they’re customizable in a myriad possibilities, and they’re absolutely ethereal if they’re done well. If they’re done well. On this side of the pond, people have taken a quintessentially American approach, swelling the delicate, crispy biscuits into meringue-sized blobs with buttercream oozing out the sides, or relegating them to novelty items prettier than they taste, where the paper they’re on is more nuanced than the pastry itself. They tread a line as delicate as their cookie shells, and luckily, Sucré makes them perfectly.
I was sent a box of their PB&J macarons in time for school, though if you’re sending your kid to lunch with these, be prepared for some serious Ralph Lauren wedgies. These are impeccable- a faintly floral strawberry shell with a dollop of thick, oozy jam and a rich, salty, peanut butter buttercream. Even the French, professed peanut butter haters, would swoon for these. The macarons are coated in sparkly sugar, which, though pretty, admittedly throws them from savory, which I prefer, to decadently sweet.
Want a box? I’m holding a Twitter contest for a box.
Just retweet this: RT: “Give me your macarons, Foodette! http://bit.ly/pbjmacaron”
And you could win! I’ll collect the entries on Tuesday, October 1, and announce a winner! If you don’t want to wait, macarons and other delicious treats, like king cake, can be purchased online.
Three weeks off gluten, and only one transgression so far. But life isn’t all neatly highlighted casebooks, amaranth flour, and health clubs. There’s the extremely important matter of dessert, which I confess I wasn’t too concerned with until 90% of it was off-limits. It’s gotten to a point where I’m shipping the Cookie Monster hardcore and clicking through the Betty Crocker product page before I go to bed, restless, dissatisfied.
Speaking of Betty Crocker, she now has a new line of gluten-free desserts that are not only anointed by the gods of Putting Things on Shelves I can reach, but are actually tasty, too. At $4.79 for a box of rice flour and chocolate chips, the thought of paying mid-2008 gas prices for cookies was irritating, but intriguing. The cookies are easy to prepare and even easier to screw up- unless you use a few good tricks.
I read reports of these that were ridiculously varying- from crispy, flat cookies that had to be scraped off the pan to puffy, barely baked dough, so I tried to be preemptive. I didn’t change any of the ingredients, but did chill the dough for about two hours before baking.
Baked, the cookies range in size from penny to pasty, and are soft enough to cover a stripper’s nipple. They’re gorgeous and came out exactly like they did on the box. It seemed that despite the light color on top, the flour cooked much more quickly on the bottom, and didn’t absorb as much butter as regular cookies do. They left the pan greasy– personal injury greasy. I’d advise you use a non-stick pan in addition to butter, though, as they were inexplicably sticky after and were difficult to remove from the pan.
The flavor is extremely buttery. Combined with the very toasty, salty flavor of the rice flour, it almost tastes like a thick, more crumbly pancake, like Bisquick. With milk, the nutty flavor comes out even more, the resulting sips after each dunk tasting like the bottom of a bowl of cereal. I realized later that they reminded me of Rice Chex because they’re effectively made with the same base. They aren’t really viable for dunking. They hold together well enough, but the milk just gets absorbed into the cookie and makes it unpleasantly soggy. All in all, I really liked them. They weren’t spectacular, and they are still really expensive, at approximately 30 cents for a very small cookie, compared to those giant $2 buckets of chocolate chip cookies at the store for about 8 cents a cookie, but are much more pleasant of an alternative than I thought possible.