Hello friends.
Before we go any further, there is some news that I must give you. It is good news. It is exciting news.
Teh Noms du Jour is moving!!!!!!
About 8 months ago, while talking with my friend Leah, the idea of an All-Girl culinary gang came up. A group of girl food bloggers who were friends, who were talented, who thought each other were hilarious, and who had a serious love for talking about food, writing about food, and making food (AND baking!) A group of badass girls who knew what they're on about, but weren't afraid to laugh at themselves if things flopped, and ask questions so next time the flop maybe didn't happen.
And inspired with a great name, Pretty Girls Use Knives was born!!!
Please check out all the girls, because they are all wonderful and talented, and please come back often, because so many things are going to go on there, and we would love your support!! BUT, so that you can direct-link to my blog or add it to your Google Reader or whatever you do... here is the link to my personal PrettyGirl Blog: www.prettygirlsuseknives.com/johanna
Never fear, dear friends.... any entries you may want to review or reflect upon will still be find-able, since I have imported ALL the Teh Noms du Jour recipes into the new blog.

Now that all the joy and celebration and the big reveal have happened, I can get into something that I need to get off my chest.
I am a fairly competent baker. And I can make one hell of a biscuit. IN fact, I never even blogged about the Proustian flashback I nearly gave Jesse's Oklahoman soul with my most recent batch of biscuits and gravy. Suffice it to say, I am a biscuit maker.
So when I tackled strawberry shortcake a la Deb from SmittenLand, I was feeling pretty confident. After all, hers are beautiful. They're little fluffy biscuits, and they look heavenly.
So I made my best personal attempt. I boiled my eggs and got such beautiful yellow yolks. I didn't cut the butter up until RIGHT when I meant to throw it in.

And yet.....
I was foiled. Foiled by the instructions to process until the flour looked like coarse meal. Foiled by trying to make biscuits with a machine. Foiled by a hot night and not cold enough butter.
Foiled. Look at them - they're....they're...... flat. Pale. They spread. They didn't get tall. They didn't get brown. They didn't really....do.... anything. They weren't dense. They weren't light. They tasted ok, but they did NOT look ok at first glance.
I mean.... once you pile macerated strawberries that you bought at the farmer's market that morning, you can't really see the ugly shortcakes...which leads me to the only corollary I've ever developed:

With enough whipped cream on top, all dessert sins can be forgiven or ignored.
Seeya at PrettyGirls. :)


By Request.

I love a reader request.
Because at heart, in the very core of my nature, I'm a people-pleaser. You have a request? Of course I'll make my every effort to fulfill it! German Chocolate birthday cake? Sure! Seared tuna? Sure! Fried chicken or pumpkin risotto or fried cheese sticks? I'll do my darnedest.
This also extends to blogging. Because sometimes, I forget that there are people on other glowing screens wondering what I'll say next. And I'm very sorry for that.
So, when the talented and entertaining Blue Jean Gourmet requests, nay, demands that I blog about my chimichurri and my blackberry tart, well...... how can I say no?

On Memorial Day, after a lovely afternoon spent lying in the sun reading at Prospect Park, Jesse and I realized we had nothing for dinner. Flank Steak with Chimichurri seemed an excellent idea.
Having never made chimichurri before, I sought the opinion of experts. And let me just say that while Ingrid Hoffman may not necessarily be an expert, at least her recipe didn't involve either cilantro or jalapenos. I like Ingrid.
Into my blender, I put an entire bunch of parsley (stems and all), some dried oregano, 2 garlic cloves, the juice and zest of a lemon, a little hot sauce, a few dashes of white wine vinegar, and some salt. I set it a-blending, and streamed in some oil. I started with olive oil, and switched to vegetable oil after a few seconds. I added more salt and pepper, and a teensy bit more hot sauce, which Ingrid doesn't call for, but I figured she won't be able to find my house in time to tear me apart over it, if it really upsets her.
When the sauce finally came together, it was thick, gloppy, and perfect for marinating. I salted and peppered the flank steak, and then brushed it with the chimichurri sauce and put it in the fridge.
When it was time to go, I grilled the steak, brushing it with more chimi right before it went on the grill, let it rest, sliced it thin, and served it with some chimichurri-dressed grilled potatoes, and a lentil salad. Because honestly chimi is Argentinian pesto, and it can go with whatever you like. Just don't let the Argentinians kill me for saying that.

I had also read a great post over at Adele's blog, about a Brown-Butter Raspberry Tart from Gourmet that she tinkered with, that lead to a Brown-Butter Brown-Sugar Raspberry Tart. And I do love me some tinkering, so the following weekend, to go with some fried chicken, we had a tart.
I got the chance to tinker a little more, because of course my grocery store doesn't carry raspberries right now, so we had a blackberry tart. Mmmm. I made Adele's recommended shortbread crust. I have to say that I'm 100% certain this is the right way to go. However, should we get lucky enough to bike to the Farmer's Market tomorrow (pray for no rain), I will be happy to attempt to replicate the tart, just to be sure. All for science, y'know.

I made the crust while marinating my chicken in buttermilk. Then, once the chicken had gone into the skillet (fried chicken takes a good half-hour), I browned the half-stick of butter, let it cool sort of, and set it aside. Then, of course, I washed out the mixer bowl from the pastry making, and flipped the chicken while the mixer combined 1 egg, 4 tablespoons of white sugar, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar (they were heaped. I'm not a good measurer, and I love brown sugar), a quarter-teaspoon (ish) of salt, and a half-teaspoon of vanilla (ish).
I added the quarter-cup of All-Purpose flour, and the browned butter. And then, I set to stacking my blackberries.
Blackberries tip over. They wobble. They have that one big nasty seed in them and they're generally not the easiest things to get to stand up and look pretty. But, they taste delicious. So, I persevered, poured in the custard, and baked the tart while getting the chicken taken care of. As I was putting the first piece of chicken on a baking sheet lined with brown paper bags to cool, the timer went off, and this was what came out of the oven:
I have never had such good luck with timing in my life. Please go thank Adele at once for tinkering with this recipe, and thank the gods of the kitchen for letting me get it all to the table without screwing up my chicken. :)


Would I leave you hanging??

Here it is. The promise made good from the last entry.

Just to recap, here's where we started:
3 peppers (red, yellow, orange) and a container of grape tomatoes. The tomatoes halved, the peppers just the way they are. Drizzle the tomatoes and peppers with a little bit of oil (olive or the type of your choosing). Smear it all over the peppers, and sprinkle everything with some coarse salt and pepper.
Stick them in the oven at 325-350. Do something else.

An hour or two later, take a look. You should see something like this:
Peppers all soggy and deflated, tomatoes getting shrivelly and sweet. If it doesn't look like this, put them back and wait 20 minutes, then check again. When the peppers look like this, pull them out and put them in a bowl cover tightly with plastic wrap, and busy yourself with trying not to eat all the tomatoes.
Once the peppers are cool enough to touch, pour the juice that has accumulated in the bottom of the bowl through a strainer into the blender caraffe. Then, peel and seed the peppers. This will hurt. Running them under cold water helps. Once they're all peeled and the seeds are out, dump them in the blender with the aforementioned juices. Spin it all together until it makes a nice puree.
With the blender running, add in the majority of the tomato halves. I left out about 6. Maybe it was 8. Whatever. Don't judge me - slow-roasted tomatoes are the best thing on earth.

Heat a saucepot with a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon(ish) of butter. Throw in a very small onion, chopped. Seriously, if this onion is any bigger than a baseball -- ANY BIGGER -- cut it in half and wrap up the other half. In fact, if it's one of those softball-sized monstrosities Rachael Ray always manages to find, use a quarter. We're going for flavor base, not onion soup.
Let the onion get a little see-through in the butter/oil mix before adding in a pinch of salt, and about a tablespoon of cumin, a teaspoon of garam masala, a teaspoon of tumeric, and half a tablespoon of dried oregano. Ok, I'm making up these measurements. But it's reassuring, isn't it? Basically, you'll be able to smell when it's right. If you can't, then taste it, and re-season. The measurements just make it look all safe and credible.
When you've got a nice base of flavors and your onions are soft, add in the pepper/tomato puree. Then, add about 2 and a half cups of chicken stock. I added almost all of a 26-ounce container, so I'm estimating. Roughly. Stir, and let it come to a bubble. Simmer until the flavors taste nice. I added about a tablespoon of hot sauce because it needed a little something. Go with your senses.
Because if you do, you'll get this:

I topped it with a little of the leftover avocado cream from last night's wonderment. It was pefect. Creamy, cool, nice and basic to the slightly acidic tang of the soup.

You can make this. It's easy. And it doesn't take all that long. Try it on a Saturday. I promise, you can do this.


Tonight, we're having roasted red pepper and tomato soup. And homemade bread. Get excited.


Top Chef?

So I'm watching Top Chef: Masters, and I realized that my delicious din, cooked tonight, was something I could talk about on here. I also feel odd not blogging for 10 days, it feels like it's been a lot longer, since I've been cooking and there was a whole week of actual menus that I didn't share and....
I'm bad. I know, I'm bad.
I've made fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, roast chicken, parmesan crusted chicken, roast pork, carbonara, a blackberry tart, flank steak with chimichurri.....
And tonight.
Tonight, I made....
That's a fried egg with blackbean cakes and avocado cream.
If you make this dish for only one reason, you should make it for the avocado cream. I don't even like sour cream, and yet when you combine avocado, parsley (me +cilantro = bleh) sour cream, lime juice, and salt. Make sure your avocado is very ripe, because you want the smoothest, creamiest sauce possible.
This is fantastic. Make it. For brunch. For dinner. For whatever. Just make this. Please?

And I promise I'll blog better. Now that I'm getting some energy back, and once it stops raining, I'll feel better.

I wouldn't lie to you.


I am awful

I have a kitchen full of hand-me-downs and gifts.
Cast-iron skillet - hand-me-down from first roommate Hylton
Le Creuset Braiser - hand-me-down/bribe for helping Hylton move his couch down the stairs.
Everyday sautee pan with glass lid - Christmas gift.
Dutch Oven, 2 Saucepots - Hand-me-down from mom and dad's old t-fal set.
Stockpot - hand-me-down from Hylton again.
All-Clad small saucepot - Hand-me-down from Hylton
Cake tins, pie plates, baking dishes - gifts/hand-me-downs.

I love hand-me-downs. I love dishes that tell a story. But at some point, you have to stop cooking in your mom's old T-Fal and branch out. Someday you deserve a matching set. Or... you start to want a matching set. Which is more to the point.

And someday, because you think you're a bit of a cook, you decide that instead of more non-stick, more special utensils, you want to get stainless. You decide that you want to be able to cook at screaming high heats, and pre-heat your pans to smoking, and generally be a badass, not to mention the novel concept of being able to go stove to oven to table without having to use aluminum foil on the handles of your cookware. And by you, I mean I.

And so you get a little adventurous. You start looking at Amazon, and find the set of your dreams (at least until you can register for a wedding and have people buy you the real set of your dreams..... helloooooo, lover) and you start to think.
Hellooooo, lover.

This set is from Cuisinart. I have a soft spot for Cuisinart, since it's the brand of my lovely food processor, and my amazing grind-and-brew coffee maker that you can program to make coffee right as the alarm goes off in the morning. Swoon.

I'm kind of sunk.
This set is very affordable. Has great product reviews.
For a while, I flirted with the idea of the Rachael Ray stainless set.... with its adorable chubby, curvy saucepots, and its cute orange silicon handles. But then I started reading reviews. And the last thing I really need is stainless steel saucepots that leak at the rivets. Because as adorable as this thing is, and honestly if it had cheeks, I'd want to pinch them, I need stuff that will hold up under the demands and stresses of my kitchen. Demands and stresses like, "Shit I forgot to melt the butter, now I have to jack up the heat", or "Shit, I don't know the diference between simmer and boil so I'm going to hope for the best" or things of that nature.

These things happen.

So I'm pining. And thinking. About the day that I have a set of brand-new, 18/10, oven-safe no matter what, non-teflon-coated stainless steel cookware. And how the first thing I'm gonna do is go after that medium saucepot with a whisk. Or maybe I'll get myself a metal spatula, and flip a pancake in that big skillet. Hehehehe.

I'm keeping the cast iron, Le Creuset, and the nonstick skillets Gie gave me, though, so keep your paws off. HEAR ME?!?!!?


Buckle your seatbelts

This is gonna be a big one.

Saturday, Jesse and I walked to the BKLYN Yard, for Parked! Since they took down the link/info page on the BKYard's website, instead please refer to the photo of the flyer. I'll sum up: the PizzaMoto truck, a taco cart from the Red Hook soccer field vendors, the Green Pirate juice truck, and the VanLeeuwen Ice Cream truck (!!!!) were all present, parked in the lot, serving up their wares and showing their stuff. Highlights included watching the PizzaMoto Dough Maven do her thing with dough until they sold straight out of it, eating the delicious Margherita from PizzaMoto, having the Espresso ice cream from Van Leeuwen which was better than anything else, which is saying something, the delicious Green Pirate Hot Pink Lemonade, which involved beet juice, ginger, cucumbers, and some other crazy stuff. Also, the lovely Rita of the Pretty Girls Use Knives crew, joined us for some fun in the sun. Unfortunately, PM sold out before she got any, and the taco cart line was just. not. moving. So that was awesome regardless. Here are some pics of the aforementioned highlights:

And then.... there was the biggest amazingness of all. This is the item that made my day, and that basically justified the sunburn that I have and the money that we spent, even more than catching the VanLeeuwen truck and finding out about the taco cart and everything:
Andrew Knowlton!!! That's Andrew Knowlton, the BA Foodist, frequent Iron Chef Judge, and all around hottie-pants. He's even hotter in person, and let me just say, he was so low-key, totally chilled out, didn't pull rank and try to jump ahead of the line for PizzaMoto, didn't get shirty when they didn't recognize him.... sigh. Andrew Knowlton, everyone.


I have some irrationalities regarding cooking. #1 - I decide, rather than plan, to bake, especially when reading about all the wondrous things that Deb from the Smitten Kitchen makes. #2 - I have a fear of cooking shrimp and scallops, as well as anything not in its shell that should be, like clams, oysters, lobster, crab, etc. I am not confident in my ability to cook them without overcooking them. Even though I'm much more likely to undercook them, since I'll take them off before they turn opaque, I still am not confident.

Tonight, I remembered one fear (that of cakes sticking to pans) and moved on my way to recovering from the other (grilling seafood).
First, the grilling seafood. Leah made a spectacular-looking grilled shrimp dish back in March, and undertook the Bon Appetit Modern Fiesta for date night the other evening. She's brave. I decided to challenge her braveness, and grill some shrimps of my own. I took a recipe from Epicurious, for grilled shrimp with a lemon-oregano dressing.
As per usual, I didn't follow the recipe entirely. However, here's the deal, here's what I did:
**De-vein 1 pound of large shrimp (if you're doing jumbo shrimp, get 2 pounds. go with what you can afford). Keep the shells on. Do this by using your kitchen shears (or whatever pair of scissors you feel like, just wash'em) to cut them open down the back, and pull the vein out. This is similar to how you'd butterfly them. Put them in the fridge.
**Mince and paste 2-4 cloves of garlic, depending on how many shrimp you're cooking with 3/4 teaspoon of salt. The easier way to do this is to microplane your garlic into the food processor and add a half-teaspoon ish of salt. Then add the juice of 1 lemon, a few shakes of black pepper, and turn on the foodpro/blender. Drizzle in olive oil until it's all emulsified and happy. Add a handful of chopped parsley (if you have oregano, use oregano) and mix. If it separates, you can just stir it up. No big whoop. You can also taste and mutate htis into anything you want.
**heat up your grill. Put 1/4 cup of the dressing over the shrimp, and after a few minutes, put your shrimp on some skewers and put them on the grill. I did not skewer mine, and I can tell you for sure that this is not a good idea. I lost 3 good shrimp to the gods of the grill. Don't make my mistake.
After a few minutes, the shrimpies are done, and you can take them off, serve the rest of the dressing in a bowl along iwth either rice or bread, and do peel-and-eat shrimps. Paper towels for everybody!!! Yay!!!

The cake....

The cake tastes delicious. It does not look as awesome as Deb's, but then again, mine never do. The grocery store didn't have raspberries, and while raspberry-lemon is a gorgeous combination, I had to go with blueberries. And I like blueberry-orange, so I added orange zest instead of lemon zest. Also, no vanilla because our store doesn't carry it.
The cake is delicious. And when it came out of the oven it looked..... too good to be true:
It was. When I tried to turn it out and cool it on the rack, the cake stuck, except for the center of the cake, which fell out onto the rack. It was sad. However, this cake is delicious and I think with about 3 more minutes of baking time, it will work brilliantly. Next time. Which might be tomorrow. Just sayin'.

In general, it's been a great food weekend, and it's got one more day, one more lovely day, and summer is here and I've finally learned when to turn over my charcoal chimbley to get the most use out of my coals, and basically..... It's been lovely.


On allergies and preferences

I'm not a person who ascribes totally to any philosophies of food or life. Except for these:
Be good.
Be happy.
Be healthy.
Be well.

If you can live within those 4 theories, then who am I to tell you anything about your life? Or your dining choices? You can be picky, you can be open, you can be whatever you want to be, as long as you're good, happy, healthy and well.
However. I just got an e-mail from a coworker wondering at the nature of food allergies, and thinking it was ridiculous that a roommate would freak out that the coworker had cut a pineapple on the counter, and not wiped up the juice or washed the knife, since the roommate happens to be allergic to pineapple.
Apparently, food allergies were a new thing to this coworker.

I'm not here to judge, most of the time. But this girl's attitude toward food allergies was shocking at best, dangerous at worst. She mentioned that she thought allergies were weird, and would never presume to ask someone to make food to accommodate any of her food preferences, and was taught to just eat what was put on her plate. This is a girl who was raised in a range of cultures, in a very trans-world world. Part of her life in India, part in the UK, part in the US. And yet nowhere in her entire life had she ever heard of anyone having a dangerous peanut allergy. Never saw the markings on all packaged foods saying "this contains nuts or was processed in a facility that processes nuts". Never heard of celiac disease or lactose intolerance or people being allergic to strawberries.

At first, I tried to be calm and rational, told her that I really thought the allergy question was interesting. People could die from them. Etc etc.
Then, she came back to say that she found needing to accommodate someone's preferences strange, alien, that it wasn't something she would ever imagine.

I'm sorry, but to all my readers, let me make this very, very clear:
Allergy is defined by dictionary.com as:


1. an abnormal reaction of the body to a previously encountered allergen introduced by inhalation, ingestion, injection, or skin contact, often manifested by itchy eyes, runny nose, wheezing, skin rash, or diarrhea.
2. hypersensitivity to the reintroduction of an allergen. Compare anaphylaxis.

Preference is defined by dictionary.com as:


1. the act of preferring.
2. the state of being preferred.
3. that which is preferred; choice: His preference is vanilla, not chocolate.

As you can see, there is a distinct difference between an allergy and a preference. Namely, the aspect of choice!!! Do you think anyone out there would choose to suffer from diabetes (which I group as an allergy because it's an extreme case where the body is unable to process an enzyme) or a severe peanut allergy that could cause anaphylactic shock?? Do you think anyone would choose to have to read every single label for elements or trace bits of peanuts, or wheat, or strawberries, or shellfish? I mean, let's not even start with the allergies like to pineapple juice (which is in most fruit punch, check your labels) or citrus fruits (try to find something that doesn't contain citric acid that's packaged.... let me know when you do) or eggplant or any of the 8 million things out there. Coconut!! My dad is allergic to COCONUT! Granted, he just has to make sure that he doesn't eat the dark chocolate truffles that are filled with the stuff, and he only gets hives, but why would anyone choose to have to deal with that????

My grandmother is allergic to penicillin. Shouldn't the medical community have to accommodate her allergy? What is the point of trying to save her life by administering something that would end it??
Similarly, why is pineapple, or strawberries, or shellfish, or wheat gluten or whatever so important to my coworker that she can't understand the concept of it being deadly? She's a vegetarian, and was taught to politely decline meat. Which is great for her! Go for it!! But if you can decline meat because of personal tastes or religious reasons or whatever.... why can't your roommates ask you to just wash the countertop to get rid of the pineapple? Or make a specific knife and cutting board for pineapple, so that the roommate doesn't have to come in contact with it?

For me, there's no ingredient or recipe that's worth causing a friend pain. I don't care if it's just that you get itchy after eating pepperoncini - which I never cook with - tell me! I always ask. I don't see any reason to make someone have to take a Benadryl after a meal with me. I don't have any recipes that I'm so attached to I couldn't change them or scrub them altogether for a dinner party with a friend with specific dietary restrictions. I can take the bacon out of my mac & cheese, or, genius, make a pot of cheese sauce without bacon. I can read labels to make sure all my ingredients are Kosher, or make sure that I'm using all vegetarian ingredients if you're into that. I can use rice pasta, or make risotto, or cook only chicken or cook no chicken. I can accommodate you. Because I don't want to make you sick!!! I don't want you to worry about your dietary rules or your religion or the new lifestyle choices you're making. I want you to be happy and healthy and good and well.

So please, fellow cooks and eaters, please remember these other rules:
#1 - ask your guests about any dietary restrictions.
#2 - guests, don't be afraid to TELL YOUR HOSTS what you will/won't/can't/choose not to eat.
#3 - let's all be a little more flexible, yeah? If you just don't like spinach, mention that, but say that you'll eat it if it's given to you. If you're deadly allergic to oranges, obviously shout that one out. If you're a vegetarian, please explain what you mean by that, so people don't go assuming things (meatitarians, i'm talking to you!!!!)

For heaven's sake, don't force people to eat what's put in front of them just because you were raised that way. It worked for me, that "eat what you're fed" raising. I'll eat anything, and I definitely will eat plenty of it. But it didn't work for my little brother, who is about as picky as they come, and whose dinner or unwanted something-or-other I always ate at home as kids. He's now the underweight, picky vegetarian one. And I'm the one with the cooking blog. What's good for the goose is not always good for the gander.
So honestly.... let's remember. It's an allergy. Not a choice.


They'll never know you're just....a bagel Part Deux

For the recipe, as well as sponge and dough-making details, please click here.

Bagel Day 2
Saturday morning, the bagel odyssey continued. This part was considerably easier, as well as considerably scarier.
I started by setting up my water bath. I used my Le Creuset braiser, since it was wide enough for several bagels at once, and wouldn't require 8 gallons of water to fill. While the water was heating, I added the required tablespoon of baking soda and tablespoon of honey (still didn't have any malt syrup) and let it all come up to temperature. I pulled out one of the pans of bagels, and boiled half of them for about 2 minutes per side.
Here is something else you may not know about me. I love Cosi's square bagels. My company used to get them for us on Mondays. I always picked an Asiago Cheese - so of course when making my own bagels I decided to top them with cheese. I'm generally not a fan of pre-shredded cheese that you buy at the supermarket, because I don't like eating stabilizers. But it melts so nicely - so I topped some of our first test batch of bagels with shredded Mexican cheese blend. Basically, after they boiled, I picked the really hot bagel up off the slotted spoon and pressed it into a pile of cheese. In later batches, I mixed some chili powder with the cheese, which added a little somethin to the party. The rest I left plain, although in later batches I added some kosher salt/garlicpowder to make a garlic-salt bagel. Mmmm :)
The bagels baked for 5 minutes at 500-degrees. Then, in theory, I rotated the cookie sheet and reduced the heat to 450. When I baked the test batch, I actually remembered to do that. When I baked the other 2 pans of bagels later, I definitely forgot to rotate and reduce on the first pan, but remembered on the second. I'm not sure whether I noticed a difference.

And now, some photos, to give you an idea of what it all looked like, from boiling onward:

Ahh bagels with egg salad, or with cream-cheese and tomato. Perfection.

To sum up, these were pretty good. Next time, I will definitely be using all purpose flour and my wheat gluten (in case I forgot to mention it before, add 1 tablespoon of wheat gluten to every 1 cup of flour to get high-gluten flour) instead of whole wheat. But it was pretty darn good. And considering how scary I thought it would be.... pretty darn easy. Try these. They're fun.

They'll never know you're just....a bagel

One thing you folks may not know about me is that I'm very very susceptible to the power of suggestion. So when so many of you get together and start talking about and eating and making bagels, and one of you waxes poetic about lox on bagels (fine there's only 2 of you), I get bagels in my head.
And I think about them.
And eventually..... I want to make them. Luckily for me, I couldn't make them last weekend. I was too busy celebrating my birthday and throwing a party and eating brunch with my friends. But this weekend.... bagels were on.

Rule#1 - anyone who goes shopping for bagel essentials after Happy Hour gets what she deserves.
Case in point: I went shopping for my bagel stuff after happy hour, and as such, I missed the key difference in my flour choice. I picked up WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR instead of ALL PURPOSE FLOUR because I read the tag on the front of the shelf at Whole Foods, instead of the actual BAG OF FLOUR in my hand. Oy.
Rule#2 - do not start bagels, which require a significant amount of time in their early stages, at 10pm.
Case in point: When I got home from happy hour (which turned into 4 happy hours, I'll admit) and Whole Foods, I decided it was the perfect time to start making bagels. Because Jesse said that he'd prefer them for breakfast on Saturday. And I live to make him happy (no I'm not being tongue in cheek - I actually kinda do). So I started bagels at 10 pm. Which means that they weren't ready to be put in the fridge overnight until roughly 2am. Brilliant is my middle name.

For the record, I used the recipe from Smitten Kitchen for Peter Reinhart's Bagels. Deb's dad (SantaDad) gave them his Bronx-Childhood Seal of Approval, which is really all I need in the way of endorsement. I'm also not going to speak specifially about the amounts and stuff for the recipe - read it on SK, because it's a novel in itself without my blathering.

Bagel Day 1:
It's always a little nerve-wracking to begin a baking project knowing that you don't have the correct ingredients. However, knowing that High Gluten flour was difficult to come by, I purchased a box of vital wheat gluten, which is not as hard to find at Whole Foods as you might think. I still have no idea what instant yeast is, but WF doesn't sell it, and Google said I could use it interchangably with Active Dry, so I did.
I had decided that if I didn't see the desired results from the sponge after the 2-hour sit, I would throw the whole mess away and start again on Saturday. My stomach sank when I realized that I would have to add a TON more water to make the sponge reach the "thick pancake batter" consistency, because of the density of whole wheat flour as compared to APF. I mean, I'm all for improvising and adding more of whatever you think you need, but there's a difference between that and setting yourself up for embarrassment and wasting 6 hours of your life.

The sponge got puffy. It seemed encouraging. So I added the rest of the flour and salt and yeast and Vital Wheat gluten and mixed it all up. I didn't add malt powder or syrup because I didn't have any and couldn't find any at Whole Foods. So.... too bad.
Let me just tell you. 10 minutes of kneading ends up making your shoulder hurt. Specifically, my right shoulder. And the dough never quite got as satiny as I was hoping, but then again, what do I know?
I shaped my dough into 3-ounce balls. I think next time I will go with the 4.5-ounce size on half, because there is no way that I need as many bagels as I ended up with. But yes, pull out your kitchen scale and start weighing dough balls. You'll thank me.
After a short (20-min) proof, I poked my thumb through the center of the funny little dough balls and made bagel holes. These also had to proof for 20 minutes, and then I did one of the silliest tests ever for bagels. Basically.... you drop a bagel into a bowl of cool water, to see if it will float or not. I'm not sure why. I don't really want to question it, though, because it worked brilliantly and the bagel instantly floated, so I threw all three cookie sheets into the fridge and went to bed.

Bagel Day 2 coming soon!!!


Maybe I'm the lucky one

There are some things in this world that I'm just bad at. Origami. Math. Shooting 3-pointers with a defender's hand in my face. Y'know - things I can accept that I'm bad at by a fluke of genetics or disposition or whatever. So I don't continue to try them, because I know I'm bad at them.
There are things that I'm just pretty good at. Making bread. Having neat handwriting. Taking naps/falling asleep anywhere. I do them and I enjoy them.
Then, there are things that make me think I'm a glutton for punishment -- things that I am not all that great at, but keep trying anyways. Things that make me disappointed because they don't go as well as they should.... things that ruin my mood because I'm following the directions very carefully (or as carefully as I can) and I'm really encouraged..... and then.... bupkus.
Like making Cinnamon Rolls. I've mentioned before that I'm just a little bit mystified by them. They're kind of like making bread, but they're also kind of more like making muffins. A little like making brioche, I would guess. Somehow..... it never quite does for me what it does for others.
Today.... I decided to follow Deb's advice, and make these cinnamon rolls. I had all the ingredients, I had nothing to do today besides wash dishes and clean, so.... I tried it out.
Something went awry.

They are not as airy as I'd like. They are not as light as I'd like. They are kind of heavy. Some of them burned. I'm not in love with them. I think it's me. I think I need to find out what the difference is between instant yeast, rapid rise yeast, active dry yeast.... etc. I think I need to read and research a bunch of recipes, find out the similarities and the differences, and do some work. Because it's hard to make delicious Cinnamon Roll French Toast if you can't make cinnamon rolls all that well.

In a bit of a funk over the failure of my cinnamon rolls to double in volume during the second rising, I was feeling incredibly uninspired for dinner. I went to the grocery store and honestly could not think of a single thing to make. This may be because the stench of the fish counter an hour before closing on a Sunday evening was overpowering. But it was also a funk and a little bit of a cooker's block. Eventually, after my fifth pass down the protein case, I settled on the beef cut up for stir-fry. I decided to make an asian chili-beef noodle soup. Even though I've never actually MADE such before, or even seen a recipe for it. So I wandered the aisles, squinting because my glasses are the wrong prescription, trying to figure out what would go in such a soup.
I eventually settled on the Stir Fry Beef, Angel Hair pasta, Beef Stock, Carrots and Scallions. I was concerned that my typical hot sauces wouldn't provide enough kick, so I had to do something I wasn't happy about.
I had to buy...... Sriracha.
I know, I know.
There's no way to make authentic or even pseudo-Asian Chili dishes without sriracha. But it's SPICY!!! I order the mild wings whenever we go out for burgers and wings. I reworked my go-to wing sauce so that it included tomato paste and cumin instead of the quarter-cup of hot sauce alone. I don't like curries unless they're warm, not spicy.
Plus, I really hate the rooster on the bottle. But the real reason I bought it had nothing to do with authenticity or real Asian flavors. It had to do with the fact that if the soup sucked, I was pretty sure I could just throw in some Sriracha and torch the soup and blame it on the hot sauce.

It was that kind of a day.

In any event, I made the soup, and I knew going in that I would have to marinate the beef somehow. Meet......
The marinade. Or, at least, part of it. Cumin, Chili Flake, Garlic, Tumeric and Chili Powder got rubbed all over the steak pieces, along with some salt. This all got put into a ziploc bag with about a tablespoon of vegetable oil.
Then, came the heavy hitters...
Red Devil, Sriracha (the other red devil) and Soy Sauce. All sprinkled (judiciously) in the Ziploc with the meat. Those sat around while I painstakingly trimmed carrots into julienne (seriously. I am sick) and sizzled up some minced garlic cloves (3), a diced shallot, and a tablespoon of olive oil. I added in the carrots and about a teaspoon of sriracha, followed by about the same of Soy sauce. Then, I added a can of beef stock and a small box (16 ounces) of chicken stock (weird??? yes).
While that came up to a bubble, I heated up a small saute pan for the beef. Get it pretty f'ing hot. You want to sear the outside before the inside is cooked. Add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil (safer for high heat) and half the beef. Stir around, no more than 60 seconds, then remove to a plate and add the other half of the beef. Same drill.
The soup was boiling, so I splashed in some more Red Devil, probably a tablespoon which was too much. Start with a teaspoon, taste, and add more.
Then, I added in an eighth of a package of capellini (angel hair) and set to work turning scallions into matchsticks. When the pasta was cooked (about 3 minutes, maybe 5....) I threw in the beef and the scallions, covered, and turned off the heat.

After 3 more minutes, the beef was warmed through, the flavors were all melded, and we were good to go:
Shockingly, it was delicious. It was VERY hot. But it wasn't the "set your tongue on fire" kind of hot. Rather, it just heated up the back of my throat in a very pleasing, "I might start to sweat soon" kind of way.
Or, in an "I might make this again soon" way.

Just don't expect me to give Sriracha a place next to Miss Salsita. I'm not that kind of girl.


Women of the World, Read this/Eat this

Women of the world, I have created The. Perfect. PMS. Food!!!
It's also the perfect food for being home alone on a rainy, windy, cold wet night after yoga.

I tried to take a photo, but it just looked lumpy. But this dish is the best food evs. I promise. Get a pen, make a shopping list.
1/2 cup arborio rice (or whatever's left in the bottom of the bag if you're Joh)
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2-1 cup water (as needed)
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided use
Salt to taste
Brown sugar to taste.

Before you start with the "Bitch, not another effing risotto", just wait. Trust Joh.
1. Heat up a cup and a half of milk, and half a cup of water in a small pot. Don't let it boil - it will scald and make a mess of the bottom of the pot.
2. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a frying pan. Don't let it get foamy.
3. Add the rice, and stir around so that things get all coated in the fat. This is just like risotto.
4. Start adding the milk/water by about half-cupfuls. You may need more, just add a little water to the milk in the pot. It's ok.
5. When the rice has absorbed as much milk as it can, you'll know. It'll taste smushy. And delish. Also, the last addition of milk won't actually absorb all the way. It'll just sort of stay soupy, with the rice's starch helping suspend the rice granules in the milk.
6. Add the last half-tablespoon of butter, off the heat. Mix it in. Then, start adding brown sugar and salt until you're satisfied with the flava.
You don't want to salt the risotto before it's done cooking. You want to really taste the clash of the salt and the brown sugar. This is the beauty of this dish. There's the creaminess of the risotto texture. And the milky addition. And the sweet/salty thing. Plus, it's warm, and you don't end up with a casserole dish full of the leftover, which makes it better than rice pudding.
I'm not going to lie, this pretty much serves 2 people. But, I'm eating it all myself.
Jesse's loss for being out working on his bike and drinking beer.

Sucka!!! :)


From Calzone to Chicken

I'm back after a crazy weekend, kicked off by ricotta, goat cheese, arugula and slow-roasted tomato calzones. These were ultimately a learning experience. The pizza dough, goat cheese, ricotta and tomatoes were all good. The arugula was much softer than I would have liked. It pretty much steamed in the crust, which is not what we're really going for. Next time I'll pick a different vegetable to go with the lovely slow-roasted tomatoes. I need to figure out how to better combine the textures of the various cheeses. Because the goat cheese didn't get adequately melty, nor did the parmesan get stringy enough. Just wasn't exactly the squishy, cheesy comfort food I was looking for in a big way on Friday night. But the crust.... was delish, as always.
Tonight's fried chicken was maybe a little better than usual. Maybe the same. The chicken was really juicy, and the breading was pretty good. I used mostly flour, a double-dredge, as usual with egg. But instead of panko I added regular seasoned breadcrumbs, to the second flour dredge. I also separated the chicken legs myself, because Fresh Direct's bulk pack of chicken legs has the thighs and drums connected. So, I played butcher and split quite a few chicken leg joints this week. Shockingly satisfying, although I don't think I'd want to take up a career in butchery any time soon. I roasted some potatoes, onions, garlic and sweet potatoes to go with, which is pretty nice considering that typically I'd make a big pot of mashed potatoes full of butter and cream to go with this lovely fried dinner. But tonight, oh no! Tonight, before I have to go do 5 straight days of workout this week, I ate healthy, roasted potatoes WITH their skins. Healthy healthy healthy.

Andrew Knowlton and Donatella Arpaia bitched at each other on Iron Chef. The chef from the Spotted Pig got a perfect on taste, which was amazing to see, especially since all the judges couldn't agree on ANYTHING.
I'm sick of Food Network Challenge. Quite.


Just for you:

Have you found yourself lately thinking, "Y'know, I wish that Joh would post some fun, delicious, progressive recipes for us vegetarians" ?? Have you wondered what in heck you'd eat were you to come to a cookout at my place and not be able to stomach a burger, hotdog, or steak? Are you just hoping that I've finally updated this stinkin' thing, so you can comment on my fabulosity once again??

You're in LUCK!!!

Tonight, through a convergence of circumstances that can most accurately be described as "shite", we had a delicious, nutritious, vegetarian dinner! BlackBean Burgers, with mango chutney!!
THey were delish. Seriously. And so easy!!
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained.
1 tablespoon onion flake reconstituted, or some chopped onion/shallot. Basically by 1 tablespoon, I mean a handful, thrown in a prep bowl with some water to get all fresh again.
chili powder
garlic powder
dried parsley

Everything after the onion should be added to taste. Except the breadcrumbs, which should be a shallow palmful. Less, if you have big palms. You'll have to come measure my palms to get something exact, suckas!!!!!
For those who've been reading along, this is a LOT like my falafel procedure. Smash up or food process the black beans, then add the seasonings and breadcrumbs and process again. Or smash again.

I dusted the patties with a little flour, and pan-fried them in a little vegetable oil (strained from my latest fried pickle exploits....nomnomNOM) until they were crispy on the outside and warm through. I put them on toasted Sandwich Thins, which are by far the most amazing inventions of mankind since fork-split English Muffins. I smeared the bottom of the bun with Mango Chutney that I had in the fridge, and it was heavenly.
These are really good. I'd post a picture, but right now Jesse is using the USB cable to help him build the site for our SuperSecretSideProject, which will be awesome. :) I promise.

For now, consider making black bean burgers. They're delish. And cheap. very cheap. And when you've just smashed your lovely French Press by knocking it over in an attempt to not break anything else on your countertop..... cheap, tasty, healthy dinner is always for the win. :)



My name is Joh, and I'm a reactionary baker.
Today I got some really frustrating news. I won't go into it too far, but suffice it to say that something I had done 3 weeks ago and followed up on last week didn't actually get received. So for all my best efforts, it's now still a waiting game.
Oh well.

When I got bad news as a kid, I'd cry. I'd get upset, I'd freak out, I'd break down. Since Pop died and we were all so starved for something more comforting than lemon cake, even though the lemon cakes were all lovely, I've turned to baking chocolate chip cookies. Or baking, in general. That's what I did tonight.
I heard some frustrating news, and immediately set about baking cookies.
I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen and I made these cookies:
I used more salt than the recipe calls for, because the last time I made them, they weren't salty enough for me. I used Turbinado sugar instead of plain white sugar, because it's all we had. And they have a lovely, soft-yet-grainy texture that I'm quite pleased with. I also dropped an egg on the floor of the kitchen for the first time, literally, in years.
THis is a big thing.
My mom, who reads but rarely comments, can attest to the fact that in my younger days, I was a capital K-klutz, knocking into doorknobs, knocking over canisters of sprinkles or colored sugar during Christmas Cookie time, basically dropping or falling over anything I could. The fact that I now cook proficiently and don't cut myself or drop/smash things all the time is a minor miracle. Which might be why it was so frustrating that I dropped this egg on the floor. Especially since all I wanted from it was the yolk anyways. I always feel like I'm wasting an egg when I only use the white, or only use the yolk. And so I wasted TWO eggs tonight, because I dropped one and used the yolk from one. Argh.
But, the cookies are good and someday my life will stop throwing me curveballs. at least for one at-bat.

speaking of which, let's go red sox!!!


Quickly, quickly

So I've been in a bit of a funk lately. Just a little down.
So tonight, on a whim, at 9pm I started baking pretzels. I'm insane. I know it, it's ok.
I think I really needed to do some yeast cookery. I haven't made bread since February. And really really.... I miss it. So, this was a good move. They're delicious.

Just try it. I don't know what the soda solution bath does. I brushed mine with butter and sprinkled them with salt before I baked them. I support this method. Do it.


Fun facts:
Contrary to popular opinion, these are not difficult. The only difficult thing is the folding of the pretzel. And if you're not bothered by fugly pretzels (I'm not) even that's not hard!! You just make a long, skinny snake out of pretzel dough (don't flour your board/counter. your dough will be sticky, but if you flour, it'll fall apart.) and then make an upside-down U with the pretzel, so the ends are pointing at you. Pick up the tails, cross left over right, and smash down into the upside-down U part. Done.
Don't salt them if you're planning to have left-overs. The salt makes them mushy and a little.... wet. It's odd.
OR, just eat them all in one go. This also works. :)



I have a backlog of photos and stuff to post about -- we cooked this week and I haven't been doing the blogging justice.
No more, I tell you. No more.

On Tuesday, we had Ginger Chicken Noodle Rice Bowls. This is something that I love to make and to eat. It reminds me of when I lived alone, because I probably entertained with this 3 or 4 times in the first few months I lived in Williamsburg. And I definitely would make pots and pots of it to sustain me over the week. Plus, Hylton hd a Le Creuset red Dutch Oven, which is the perfect pot to make this in.
I've changed up the preparation of this soup into many varieties. I prefer to use boneless skinless chicken thighs, because they're cheap and aren't as dry. When I lived alone, a package of chicken thighs could get me through two soup pots, which is the basic reason I love them so much. The original recipe calls for Chinese 5 spice, ginger, cumin, carrots, garlic, stock, vermicelli and scallions. The basic plan is to brown the chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces, in a little vegetable oil, then add 2 or 3 cloves of fine-chopped garlic, an inch of ginger shredded, and the 5spice and cumin, salt and pepper. Once that gets all friendly, you're supposed to add carrots, shredded, and then stock -- when it all comes to a boil, you add in the vermicelli. A few minutes later, the scallions, sliced into matchsticks.
I've definitely switched this one up. I now use Garam Masala, which is basically Chinese 5spice only a little Indian-afied. I didn't use ginger this time, because the ginger root that I had in my fridge was all wrinkly and nasty. And since I used chicken in several preparations this week, we used chicken breasts instead of thighs. This recipe is very malleable.
I won't lie. I added a little bit of Miss Salsita to the soup pot, because the soup was missing a little something. This is the kind of thing that you can do with this receipe. You can mold it to fit YOUR tastes. In fact, in a flash of brilliance, I added a blob of coconut milk to the bottom of our bowls before I poured in the soup, which lead to something AMAZING!!! I'm glad I remembered this recipe, and that it was as good as I remembered. :) mmmmm

Thursday, we had Honey-Lime Glazed Salmon, with warm black bean and corn salsa. No big whoop. The salsa is amazing - red onion and garlic sauteed for a few minutes, then some chopped red pepper. Once that gets all friendly, you splash in a little chicken stock, let that bubble away with some cumin, red pepper flake, hot sauce, until it's all fabulous and tasty. And then you throw in some defrosted frozen corn, and black beans.

While all that magical yum is happening, You're glazing your salmon with lime juice, honey, chili powder, salt and pepper.... and then you're cooking it on your really hot grill pan, until it's done and delish. The result is a party. You should most definitely try it.
IF you can read my handwriting....

Friday's dinner, I have no words for. The closest I can get: Grilled Hangar steak with Blue-Cheese butter. Roasted Asparagus. The rare side of Medium Rare. Drooling.

And yesterday. Yesterday we made a chocolate cake together. Jesse has been cooking wtih me lately, which is fabulous!! And so we made a chocolate cake to accompany our macaroni and cheese. Behold!!!!
Inn'it preeeeety?


Back at it

After a few weeks of sporadic grocery-ordering and menu-planning, we're back on track. And we're probably going to have some input from Jesse coming in the near future, since I'm going to be working after work to maintain the girlish figure while still cooking the delectable foods you readers (and Jesse) have come to expect.

Tonight, we had Rachael Ray's Honey-Nut Chicken Fingers, with roasted asparagus and brown rice.
Of course, I'm a bit of a weirdo, so I had to mess with things. I couldn't find Honey Nut Cornflakes from FreshDirect, so I audibled and went with Honey Nut Chex. I don't have paprika, and don't really see any reason for it, since I'd rather use cumin just about every time. So...I used the cumin instead of the paprika. And instead of grill seasoning, I used straight-up salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
I roasted the asparagus with just olive oil, salt and pepper. And of course... brown rice is brown rice. We all love it. Jesse and I probably love it more than most. Especially since I make it with chicken broth and water, instead of just water. And because my rice cooker does literally ALL the work. God bless whoever invented the rice cooker. Seriously.
The food was nommy. It was all baked/roasted. I like this, because it means that I can eat some of it for lunch tomorrow as fuel for the "Cardio Body Sculpting" class I'm taking.... oh joy.
We'll be back with more tomorrow, although Jesse might be blogging in my stead if I'm temporarily dead. :)


It's good to have friends

Friday March 13th was probably the best day ever for me. Seriously.

I rarely say these kinds of things, but this one I most definitely mean. From adorable little girls waving at me on the train to minor and major work successes, to the amazing events that occurred from 4:30 onward.

My former nanny bosses recently opened a restaurant. I heard about it from a Daily Candy e-mail. I knew that they had the space, knew that they were working on the place, but didn't know the open date until I opened my e-mail on Monday and saw the Daily Candy about Scuderia. I was so excited!!! It was finally happening for them!
Friday evening, Cara called to ask if I wanted to come to dinner with her, and Jesse as well. I was pretty ecstatic and pretty honored because this was FIRST FRIDAY!!!
We went to dinner.
It was amazing.
Cara basically ordered several plates, to pass around, and then we picked our entrees. I'm not going to lie, this is the only way to dine, and the next time I have several hundred extra dollars, I'm totally rolling this way.

We tried the arancine, which were sent over by Alex. The polpette, which were pretty good, although Alex said that the chef had "fucked them up" that night. Tasted like amazing meatballs to me!
The mussels, and the arugula salad, were both delicious. I love arugula, seriously. Especially with sweet cherry tomatoes and salty parmesan. Tomato season is coming -- try it sometime. Soooo good.

Next, we had pizzas and pasta. Cara picked the Pizza Scuderia, which is the most amazing thing I ate that night, without doubt. Fig Jam, which I absolutely loved, blue cheese, and speck, which I've never had before but deeply love now. I only had 2 pieces, because otherwise I would have ignored my whole dinner. But seriously, this was amazing. If you are ever in New York, if you ever eat at Scuderia, pick the Pizza Scuderia as your appetizer. Sweet plus tangy plus salty/porky = sigh. glee. Love.
We also had the Pizza Piccante, which was nice and spicy, but not TOO spicy, and had a topping of nice peppery arugula, which again, I loved. We also got a pasta with sausage, peas and cream that was tasty at room temperature, and if we had all stopped talking enough to eat it hot, would have been excellent. Not the pasta's fault.

The entrees came, and I have to say that I picked the best thing on the menu. I know how to order. I will never steer you wrong. Jesse got the grilled rabbit, which I tasted and it was delish. Cara got the mixed fried fish, which had a nive tempura batter and was remarkably crispy. The house tartar sauce that came with was also delicious. And the tempura green beans that came as sides to both her meal and Jesse's meal were outstanding. My meal, though, was the best choice and that is saying something, believe me. I ordered the seafood stew.
If you have ever heard of cioppino, you will know something of what this was like. The broth was tomatoey, spicy, salty, insane. The seafood was all perfectly cooked, and I defnitely had shrimp, mussels, fish, and possibly lobster, I'm not sure. Cara said that he chef at Scuderia uses the lobster shells and heads to make the base for the broth. It was excellent. It came with two pieces of toasted bread in the bowl, and I only wish I'd had room in my stomach to eat it all. Seriously, it was that good.

For dessert, we had a nutella and mascarpone pizza, and the Coppa Scuderia, which is a PBJ ice cream sundae. It was delicious. My dirty vodka martini was delicious. The wine we drank with dinner was delicious.

Even more wonderful was the company. It's diffiuclt to explain how wonderful it is to see Cara and Alex in a setting other than employer/employee. It's wonderful to get to talk to them, and it's wonderful to see them so happy. They were so excited to see me, to have me around, and Alex proposed having brunch or dinner later when the weather was better, and bringing their daughter along. I'd love to see her, love to see them more. It was so wonderful to eat the food and hang out with Cara and talk to her and see how things were going. I loved it. I love seeing Alex having so much fun in his own restaurant and basically... it was wonderful.

I'm really happy, and I hope that they have incredible success. And honestly, I'm really really effing happy that on the First Friday, I got to eat there with Cara, who I think will become a real friend, and Jesse, who I obviously love a lot.
It was a great night.


Well, that was.....interesting.

***Apparently the comment box was not working for some people. Silly Blogger. This time, I'm editing it so maybe it will work. Fingers crossed, leave me love!!!***

I'll admit it: I'm slightly disturbed.
I'm a pretty savvy cook at this point. In the past year, I've cooked a lot of dinners. And I've roasted a lot of chickens. And I don't think I've ever really photographed the process. But, tonight probably shouldn't have been the night that I started taking photos. Or at least, not with this bird.I get what I deserve, I know, when instead of just buying one of the pretty little 3-pound Purdue chickens that are debeaked, fed animal products, and left in a cage all the live-long day, I decided to buy something labeled...... well....
Fowl. That's right. And it was a MONSTER. I was assuming it was just a chicken who y'know, got to hang out a little bit before it was killed and wrapped and sent to my grocery store. However, I have since realized that this is probably not the case. My first misgivings came when I unwrapped the .... we'll just keep calling it a chicken, because it's not a duck or a turkey, and it's too big to be much else. SO, when I unwrapped the chicken and found the neck attached, but no giblets, I was a little concerned. Then, the skin concerned me. It was very thick. However, it's been a long while since I've roasted the chicken, and the last time I did I had consumed a fair quantity of Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka with Alyssa first, so I'm not exactly sure that it's the best frame of reference. Regardless, I salted it, stuffed butter and garlic cloves and bay leaves inside the skin, and shoved a lemon, an onion, and various herbs in the cavity, as per usual:

When it was time to cook, I heated the oven to 425, with the roasting pan inside. I rubbed the chicken down with olive oil and added salt and poultry seasoning to the outside. Then, when the oven was hot, I put it in, breast-side down, for about 15 minutes, then flipped it to breast side up for 15 minutes. This helps improve the brownness of the skin.
Then, I reduced the heat to 400, dumped the potatoes, carrots and onions in, and sat the beastly birdie on top.
After about 40 minutes (total cook time, 1 hour 10 minutes) I did all my typical tests -- stabbed it to see how the juices ran, listened for the crack of the skin, wiggled the leg, and eventually decided the beast was done.
(Why, you may ask, didn't I just use my probe thermometer, which would have told me precisely whether it was done or not? Becuase the battery finally died and we're out of AAA batteries, of course.)
I pulled it, let it rest, and added a little flour and stock to the veggies left in the pan, to turn them into a gravy-esque thing.
Here is the beautiful beastie, looking just about right:

See? Golden-brown skin, nice and shiny. Actually, the most gorgeous chicken from the outside I've ever created.
But then.... I tried to cut it open, and I couldn't cut through the darn thing. It took TONS of effort to cut through the legs, the skin was either perfectly crispy or absolutely inedible. It wasn't cooked all the way through even though it got half an hour at a 25-degree higher temperature than I normally ever roast a chicken at. I'm not sure what this beast was.... but I do know it's heading toward the soup pot, because there's nothing else I can do with it. It's not a chicken. It might be a mutant. It might be a half-chicken, half moose. I'm not sure. But this beast was not a chicken. I know how chickens react.

That being said, one of the more boring things about the "eating alone" tendencies I harbor is this: I could eat the same 6 or 7 things, in rotation, for the rest of my life. Obviously I would like some variety now and then, but basically, if I could eat roast chicken, macaroni & cheese from the box, tomato soup/grilled cheese, chicken fingers, cheeseburgers, scrambled eggs, pizza, and I'm sure there are a couple others, I'd be a happy camper. I'm very basic.

Obviously this would be the most boring blog in the world if I ate those 7 things all the time, so we are always looking for new things to do with food. But, in the end, I'd probably rather roast a chicken sometimes.

A real chicken - no more of this "Fowl" business.