Behind the scenes

I made these NYT chicken enchiladas last night and they were literally (“literally”) one of the worst things I’ve ever eaten. They tasted like paper. Maybe if I ate paper all the time I would have been cool with this, but as it is I do not. Nor am I cool with the three years or whatever I spent cooking and then shredding chicken, likewise not a top hobby. I will admit that I used store-bought tomatillo salsa, so I suppose I could blame it on that, or on the sour cream & onion potato chips I ate while these were baking, which may have artificially inflated my tongue expectations and in retrospect were probably a mistake. But I’ve gotta find some scapegoat, and it’s not going to be my desire for food that tastes like something. I don’t feel like that’s a very high bar to meet, frankly. “Tastes like something” is pretty much my floor.

In summation, I can see why this recipe got over 300 comments although I haven’t read any of them because I’m not that interested in the thoughts of others (news to my millions of readers, I’ll bet), and all I want to do at this point is complain. I don’t want anyone to come around and tell me what I could have done differently or better or how this recipe could have been salvaged. I just want to be petty and small.

Anyway, flavor: try it sometime. But not these enchiladas.

Your favorite new appetizer

I spent the day celebrating the birth of our nation by taking a long walk, stopping for an iced coffee while sweating all over the counter of a local food purveyor, and then organizing every square centimeter of my kitchen, which is thankfully very small (this is the first time I've ever said those three words together about my kitchen).

I found a million things to recycle (old cords and random cables, dead batteries, useless flashlights, empty tape dispensers), and finally tossed the billion recipes I printed from the internet or tore out of magazines over the years. These have been sitting mostly untouched in binders and notebooks, except for the lucky few I reach for again and again, which I then scanned with my phone for future ease of use and portability. I know my weak points. Never, ever print anything.

So this is one of those: the recipe for these cheese mushroom canapĂ©s was emailed to me on 9/15/00 by a guy I worked with for a couple of months at a prepress vendor in Madison, WI, called Digital Color. He brought them to a baby shower for our coworker Tami, and they have been the most popular hors d'oeuvre at my house at Christmastime ever since. They are delicious both hot out of the oven and cold out of the refrigerator the morning after, although they never last that long. You absolutely should make them if you are entertaining people you like, or your family. I suppose I could go to the trouble of typing it all out for you, but where's the fun in that? Please enjoy this 17-year-old email instead.


Sadly I have to end this terrific post by admitting that I saved the printout, too. I try to take a hard line when it comes to hoarding objects for purely sentimental reasons, but this is precious to me. Clearly it has seen some things along the way, as have I, and is both battered and better for it (as am I).

A blog’s a blog’s a blog

I spent more than an hour last night cooking up a batch of these ground turkey meatloaf muffins, which were decent enough on the fly but have subsequently hardened into flavorless, brick-like structures that could be used to jack up a car during a tire heist (see also: Charlie's Angels famous fighting muffins). I'll be honest here and state for the record that I believe ground turkey is at best a sincere mistake on behalf of nutritionists and fat-free nutjobs, and at worst a hoax on the people perpetrated by the pigs and cows of America. I have never before participated in a conspiracy theory but am determined to get to the bottom of this one. My soon-to-launch Turkey Scam! Facebook Group will blow the lid off this in no time, so stay tuned—we will need all the Likes and Angry Faces we can get.

Unrelated but important: here's a very literal video interpretation of my favorite Bob Seger song. Bob Seger is a noted streaming service holdout, which is an artistic stand I deeply respect but is also what makes the following not only possible but inevitable. I don't care what kind of mood you're in, this video will improve it by 800,000%. Trust me: what Bob Seger sings, the eyes of your heart will feel.

Real simple salad

Tonight for dinner I made this salmon/new potato/green bean salad. It was either The Lord or Chaucer who said, "Thou shalt eat thy salmone colde," so I did.

Today for lunch I had cheese. That's it, just cheese.

This afternoon I went to the dentist to have a filling replaced and found out that I may need a root canal. My previous experience of having a root canal was exponentially worse than (a) having part of my face sliced off and sewn onto another part of my face and (b) having my uterus scraped, so (c) no thanks.

What a great post this was!


New best salad

I'll be straight with you: this much salad was too much salad for any one human person. So unless you happen to have a pet goat or some other notorious eater on hand, you would be wise to follow the actual serving size suggestion and not feast like you are, in fact, your own pet goat. I know, who doesn't love a goat and what an amazing party trick, but still. Let my mistakes be your ticket to heaven's spaceship or [fill in the promised land of your choosing], etc., etc., ad infinitum, the end.


How to slice a pepper

My favorite new Sunday hobby is becoming an old lady. I kid! It's chopping up vegetables for the week ahead. I'm the type of person who responds very well to repetitive tasks where literally the only requirement is to pay just enough attention to avoid cutting off a finger. I like thinking about nothing while listening to "West Wing " podcasts over the 8,000-decibel hum of the air conditioner. It's soothing. The fact that healthy roughage and vital antioxidants are involved is just a lucky throw of the dice.

Anyway, here's an easy way I learned to slice a bell pepper in one of my Sur la Table classes (session 1 of "Confident Cooking" starts on Monday, so look out, cats! A confident hot dog is a dangerous hot dog). The true benefit of this method is that it virtually eliminates the residual nightmare that is chasing pepper seeds across the countertop and floorboards. If you perform this maneuver correctly, you may never have to chase another pepper seed again in your whole lifetime. Imagine all the free space that's going to open up in your schedule, the hours upon hours you had previously devoted to fruitless pepper seed chasing. No need to send money; you can thank me in diamonds.

  1. Select any bell pepper that is not a green pepper. I won't even discuss green peppers here. Green peppers are the devil's potato (???).
  2. Slice off both ends.
  3. Make one slice lengthwise between two ribs.
  4. Carefully trace your knife along the inside perimeter to separate the core from each rib.
  5. Chuck the core and seeds, unroll the clean pepper, and voila! (Or "wallah," as a former colleague once wrote to me in an email. I think she was later canned, albeit for unrelated reasons.)

On the menu

These photos are terrible but you'll survive.

These photos are terrible but you'll survive.

In between listening to, watching, and absorbing the genius glory that is  "Lemonade," I took a cooking class at Sur la Table today: the subject was "healthy, whole food." My teammates were a couple of 24-year-olds, one of whom was afraid of the stove. I wanted to assure her that there were scarier things in life but hated to ruin the surprise. 

We made four delicious and easy-to-repeat-at-home dishes:

  • Poached Shrimp and Spiralized Cucumber Salad with Chia Seed Vinaigrette
  • Pan-Roasted Chicken with Farro and Spring Peas
  • Curried Carrot Soup
  • Cocoa Zucchini Cake

As you can see I am already a million miles down the road of achieving my #1 old year's resolution from 2015, which was "learn to cook." At the same time I have broken it, since technically I did bake something. I don't know what to say about this lapse in judgment. We can't all be winners.

The huge news, though, was that I actually liked soup! Made of CARROTS! Although I was previously convinced that the step of toasting seeds prior to tossing them at your face was a big load of fussball nonsense, it turns out this is not the case. It's a legit easy move that will vastly enhance your fragrance/taste profile, especially when applied to something nutritious yet obviously lame, like good ol' stupid carrots. I really achieved something great today, is what I'm saying. I really transcended myself.