Monthly Archives: June 2012

Love is a Mix Tape

A few weeks ago I finished reading Love is a Mix Tape. I intended to write a blog about it then, but something has been stopping me. No, I don’t think it’s Game of Thrones, although it might be. I have been afraid I would be unable to capture the delicate balance of humor and heart present in Rob Sheffield’s writing. You’ve read me gush over him before, after I read Talking to Girls about Duran Duran, which was actually released after Love is a Mix Tape.

This first memoir introduces the reader to first love as Sheffield learned about it. We meet him as an odd young adult and we meet her, Renee: a crazy, carefree southern gal who made a lot of noise. We see them court and fall in love and get married and make a go of it as two aspiring music writers in Charlottesville. And then we see her die, suddenly, in his arms. (Sorry, did that feel like it did when Jaime pushed Bran out the window?)

It’s a sad story, but it’s so much more than that. Having lost a loved one last year, I might have also been afraid of how that bias would manifest itself in my writing about this book. But the truth, as far as I can tell, is that life is a sad story, but it’s so much more than that. Yes, we live. Yes, we die. And hopefully there’s something good in between, everyone knows this. However, Sheffield is able to capture that “something good in between,” in the most rare form.

He doesn’t hold back when sharing how broken he felt when she died. It’s not something life can prepare you for, which is supremely unfair because it’s something nearly everyone will experience. But he gets through it, which is the other part of the story and the other part of life. If you live long enough, and you’re lucky enough to find love, you will eventually know extreme pain and sadness. But this is no reason not to love. Rob Sheffield eventually finds love again. There will never be another “her,” that’s true. But there is always more love in the world. Never forget that.

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Ginger-Soy Steak & Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

Indulging myself in my recent sushi obsession for the umpteenth time, I did something I can only imagine is offensive or at the very least mocked by the Japanese: I ordered extra wasabi. In case you haven’t noticed by now, spicy food and me? We’re married. So you can imagine my delight when the “extra” wasabi I ordered was a laughably large amount. I loaded up each piece of my ever-exotic salmon-avoacado roll with too much wasabi and still I had so much left over. Then, as I eyed two lonely potatoes in my kitchen, I remembered I had once enjoyed wasabi mashed potatoes at a restaurant, and thus this recipe was born:

Cut potatoes in half and boil them for 20 minutes.

Add butter, cream, wasabi, garlic, salt and pepper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can use whatever kind of potatoes you like, I had both red and yellow here so I made a mixture. I cut them in half, boiled them in salty water for 20 minutes (until fork tender), then mashed-eems up with about 1 tbs of butter, 1/2 cup of half and half, 2 tsp of wasabi, and salt and pepper. I’m told the leftovers make delicious potato pancakes — stay tuned for that.

Marinade the steak in garlic, ginger and soy sauce.

Crank that heat up and onto a DRY pan for 2-3 minutes per side.

For the marinade, I grated the ginger and garlic into a bowl with some soy sauce. I salt and peppered the steaks and then let them sit at room temp in the marinade for 30 minutes. While that was sitting, I got the potatoes together and I didn’t throw the steaks on until the potatoes were already finished boiling. Once the pan is hot, and I mean really quite hot, drop the steaks down onto a dry pan to ensure proper browning. I did two minutes per side and they came out medium rare (although a bit on the rare side), so if you’re more of a medium, do three minutes.

Sauté asparagus in butter for 5 minutes.

All for less than $5 per serving! POP POP

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recommend letting the steaks rest a few minutes before you cut them. This is the perfect amount of time to lower the heat on that pan, throw on a little butter and quickly sauté up some asparagus to complete this steak and potato dish with a little asian flair. Who has two thumbs and really dug this meal? This guy:

Find @jaredmolten on Twitter #thatsmyman

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Mustard and Herb Glazed Salmon

Some people like to eat healthy in the summertime because it’s beach season or whatever. I like to make eating healthy a game with cancer. I’m playing my hand, which is strong, so cancer’s going have to work hard to get me. With that said, I live in New York, so there’s no telling the amount of carcinogens that ravage me without me knowing. Because of this, I’m always upping the ante with cancer; my latest re-raise has been adding a serious amount of salmon to my diet. There is a lovely fish market in my neighborhood, so last weekend, we ventured in and purchased some fresh wild salmon. I also bought some yellow potatoes and some red potatoes, some shiitake mushrooms and asparagus for a side dish, which I had to start first for this meal:

Mix potatoes with olive oil, rosemary, thyme and sage. Then into a 450 degree oven.

After 20 minutes, add the mushrooms, then 10 minutes later, add the asparagus and garlic.

I rubbed the salmon with lemon, then topped it with a mixture of: 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1 tsp whole grain mustard, 1/2 tsp rosemary, 1/2  tsp thyme, some breadcrumbs and a little parmesan cheese.

You can either take the side dish out or leave it in when you put the salmon in (depends on how well-done you like veggies), but the salmon goes in at the same temperature (450) for about 12-15 minutes. A little tip: just keep an eye on it, a minute or two can make or break the doneness of this delicate fish.

Top salmon with mustard, rosemary, thyme, breadcrumbs, and parmesan cheese (optional).

It’s silly that I captioned the photo “cheese (optional)” because everything on this blog is “optional.” I view all recipes as merely jumping off points, ripe for adjustments and modifications. I do hope you’ll view these recipes in a similar manner. Remember: Can’t nobody teach you how to do you; you just gotta do you.

Delicious + Healthy = WINNING!

Suck it, cancer.

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Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza

Last weekend, after some inspiration from friends of ours that this can indeed be done without a lot of fancy cooking equipment, we decided to make homemade pizza. This was partly inspired by the fact that my herbs are finally grown up enough to eat, so I used them to both make the sauce and to season the dough.

This was the first use of my lovely garden herbs!!

I made the sauce with onions, green peppers, garlic, oregano and basil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I began by making the sauce, which was from a can of tomato sauce and half a can of tomato paste, to which I added onions, garlic, green peppers, oregano and basil. I let it simmer; the longer, the better.

Test the yeast in some warm sugary water.

I then mixed flour, salt, water, olive oil and yeast with some fresh herbs and garlic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the scariest part for me and it turned out to be the simplest. If the yeast doesn’t get foamy in the water within 10 minutes, it’s dead, so try again. The recipe I used called for 2 cups of wheat flour and 1 cup of all-purpose flour, a tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of salt, along with the water and yeast. I added some fresh herbs and garlic to the dough for extra yumsies.

Then cover it with a towel for 1 1/2 hours.

Roll the dough out on a clean, floured surface.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After about an hour and a half, the dough should double in size, indicating that it’s ready to be rolled out. You can make the crust as thin or as thick as you like. Me I like it thin, so we rolled it out tenderly and topped it up.

We did half Margherita and half Mediterranean.

We popped this baby into a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes and pizza came out the other side!

Homemade tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil from my garden.

Pesto, red onions, white onions, green hot peppers, red bell peppers, olive-marinated chicken and feta cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not one to toot my own horn, but for a couple of first timers making homemade pizza, this was a big victory… TOOT TOOT.

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Queens Comfort – Treat Yo Self!

If you find yourself in New York on a quiet night that you’d like to add a little flavor to, I have to insist that you try Queens Comfort. No, this isn’t the first time I’ve written about this particular restaurant. Why am I writing again? Because… It’s… That… Good.

This little gem of Astoria sits right on 30th avenue and Steinway street, only 3 stops from 59th and Lex, Manhattanites! Well worth the trip for these:

Fried Green Tomatoes

Forever Freakin’, always representing.

We began our meal with the Fried Green Tomatoes, a southern favorite. These were crunchy and served piping hot with homemade lemon pepper ranch. Remember: It’s BYOB! So we B’d a snobby organic IPA, but covered it with a Freaker, lest the hipsters see us not drinking PBR. Jared was feeling extra country so he indulged in this hot mess, the “Ring of Fire” burger:

“Ring of Fire” Burger (with fried jalapeños and sriracha)

He asked for it medium rare and the server replied, “Okayyy, dude, I’ll write that on the ticket, but the kitchen sorta does its own thing, kaayyyy?” Jared says it was the best burger he’s ever had. Since for once we did not go halfsies on meals, I was elated to be free to order the one menu item I’ve had my eye on since my first visit to Queens Comfort, the Bacon Scallion Mac and Cheese:

Bacon Scallion Mac and Cheese — Voted #1 in NYC

Hot damn if this isn’t the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever tasted (and New Yorkers agree)! If you’ll remember, on our last visit to Queens Comfort, we enjoyed a Meatloaf Mac and Cheese. It was delicious, but THIS mac and cheese was another level of yum. It’s not the kind of meal you can have every night, but if you’re feeling particularly indulgent, you simply cannot do better than this. Who’s been? What’s your favorite menu item?

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