Here's how I spent the past week:
Roasted Root Veggies and Polenta: We eat this, like, all the time. But I think this is the first time I found a recipe to associate with it. I take 3-4 of my favorite root veggies -- carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, sometimes rutabaga, onions, garlic -- toss them with olive oil and garlic powder and roast them.
Meanwhile, I make polenta and mix in cheese. The key here is using veggie broth for the polenta, and Parmesan cheese is a nice touch -- although gouda is gooda.
No photo. I singed the veggies this week. It was still good, but reveals me as a person who cannot be trusted to run an oven.
Southern Red Velvet Cake: I think I covered this harrowing tale pretty well already. I should mention, however, that the Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake required that I purchase Crisco. CRISCO. I wanted to post something on Twitter about only buying Crisco because it was Chuck's birthday -- but there is no real way to do that and stay classy. Anyway, so now we have Crisco. I can't think of why I will ever need Crisco, unless I want to pull the old door knob prank on April Fool's Day.
Jodi's Beer Cheese Soup: This dish always reminds me of Sundays when I was growing up. My mom would make beer cheese soup, sprinkle it with popcorn, then we'd watch football or do math homework or whatever it is people do on Sundays. Good times.
Recently Jodi mentioned on Twitter that she had found a good recipe for beer cheese soup, so I asked her to pass it along.
The most surprising thing to me: Not a lick of Cheese Whiz. No MGD. The two fundamental ingredients in the soup of my childhood were nowhere to be seen. Jodi is using Gouda, and a dark ale. Wha?! I had no idea this was possible. So I'm guessing Jodi didn't invent this version of the recipe, but she gets a name credit for it because I used one of her substitutions, adding green peppers to the mix. Thus, Jodi's Beer Cheese Soup.
This stuff is yum. My tongue's muscle memory totally recognized this soup. Love love love. And when it got all cold and clumpy later, I ate it on Tortilla chips.
A general idea of how to make it
* melt a stick of butter in a big pot
* add veggies (I went with carrots, green peppers, garlic)
* add flour to make a roux
* add chicken or veggie stock, keep stirring
* dump handful after handful of grated gouda into the soup, making sure each batch melts before you had more
* add dark beer or pale ale
* turn down heat, add half and half
* dump it straight down your throat
* write about it on the internet
Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie: This is not the recipe I used, but it is close enough. The gist is to cook up some veggies, put them in a casserole dish, then cover them in Sweet Potato mash and bake for a bit. So. Darn. Yum. Except that I used Cannellini beans, which I always forget I hate.
The Rachel Papers: I have a few theories on why this movie missed out on pop adulation. Mostly because it was released too soon after "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," so instead of being merely derivative of that movie, it came across as a cheap knock off. But from the early scenes of parties, shoulder pads, and dance music, this is a walking-talking museum of 80s culture. And damn if it isn't hilarious. The filmmakers definitely jazzed up the character of Charles Highway's brother-in-law. And you can't really go wrong with Ione Skye in the title role. Based on the book by Martin Amis. I really wonder what he thought of the film ....
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher: Long ago we called this sort of thing an After School Special — television programs that featured timely topics and life lessons for a school-aged audience. Titles included: “What if I’m Gay?,” “Please Don’t Hit Me, Mom,” and “My Dad Lives In A Downtown Motel.” But they were cooled-up with familiar teen faces: The teen alcoholic hockey player in “The Boy Who Drank Too Much” was Scott Baio. Helen Hunt, Malcolm Jamal Warner, Mary from “Little House on the Prairie” all did time. The stories were grainy, the stars had feathered hair, straight-leg jeans, and clunky tennis shoes. In the final moments of an episode, a young boy’s blue collar father would realize that he was proud of his son, the ballet dancer.
Jay Asher’s pulls out the print edition of the ASS in his piece of young adult fiction "13 Reasons Why."
Full review here.
The Replacements' Let It Be (33 1/3) by Colin Meloy: Colin Meloy’s greeting-card sized contribution to the 33 1/3 project is more of a music memoir for the Decemberists’ singer/songwriter/guitar player. Briefly: The series asks contributors to write about an influential album. From what I’ve gathered, Meloy took great liberties with the task — more than most — writing about the Replacements within the larger context of what it meant, music-wise, to grow up in the 1980s.
So. What was it like being Colin Meloy in the 80s: Hand-me-down TDK tapes from his super-cool uncle, playing broom-guitar, combing MTV’s 120 Minutes for new music, the “college rock” genre, staring at album covers, those clunky plastic CD holders in music stores, going to see the Nylons in concert just because it was live music and it was in his own town. Namely Meloy’s story is very similar to what it was like to be me — and probably you, and you, and you — in the 80s.
Full review will be at Minnesota Reads. I think.