I'm makinga strata for brunch today. When I first started making these, I congratulated myself for being supercool because I was incorporating something from another culture, something that I didn't grow up eating, into my meal plan rotation. Now I congratulate myself for being superlazy because these are so easy and forgiving to make.
I don't really have a meal plan rotation. I just said that to give the impression that I still cook on a regular basis. Which I don't.
Anyway, if you've never made one, it is like a quiche without a crust but less puddingish and more cakelike. Everybody loves it.I guess for your first one, you should follow a recipe but the basic elements are these:
This dish is perfect for me because I have the talent for producing an attractive and delicious meal when faced with a larder that contains only an onion and some hot sauce. When I want to. Today I lucked out and found a plastic bag containing three small loaves of Italian bread that were mysteriously placed in the vegetable crisper. They were hard as a rock so I used them to make an onion-mushroom strata, except since I only slap in one layer of filling between the top and bottom layers of bread (sounds enticing, doesn't it?) instead of painstakingly layering smaller amounts of each, it's more of a singular strat, I guess. It doesn't matter! That is the beauty of it.
I do take care preparing the fillings. I caramelized the onions very slowly and then finished them off with some fresh thyme and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Sami would plotz if he knew about the vinegar, but I am the decider and that is how I make them and he loves them. A professional ethicist might deem this slightly less than honest but... end, means - you know. It all works out and no one is harmed. In a seperate pan, I sauteed portabella mushrooms in butter and garlic. Now do you want some?
A little cheddar cheese, a little parmesan and a custard made of three eggs and 1 1/2 cup of milk and were ready to go. You're supposed to let this sit for 24 hours after assembly so that the bread absorbs the custard, but if I neglect to plan ahead, which is always, I just cover the whole works with plastic wrap and weight it down with canned goods for an hour or so. I find that two Progresso soups, one blackeyed peas and a marzipan are ideal for this step.
This is the real reason that I like to make these. I get a secret thrill from knowing that this kind of situation is going in in my refrigerator, even if it only lasts for an hour. I like the texture of the finished dish better this way than the 24-hour sit method. This way, the bread absorbs all of the custard but doesn't lose it's structure and what you have is something cakelike in the end. If you make it the recipe-recommended way, it comes out more dense and .. I don't know, wet. Or thick. Or heavy. Something like that.
Anyway, you should google up some real recipes if you're interested in making one of these.
Now updated with images!
The smartest, sexiest, most fashionable, most in love first couple ever is coming to New York today on a big date. Plans include terrifying the citizenry with a low AF1 fly-by, taking in a Broadway play and calling room service at the Waldorf-Astoria for lobster and champaign.
I am so proud of my country! So proud that I was inspired to rework a famous song for Michelle.
Start spreading the news:
I'm brining my fork
to eat high-end shellfish in New York, New York.
These size 13 shoes
are coming your way.
We'll play the happy couple in New York, New York.
I want to wake up with Ol' Stinky, the Chrysler thief.
And find I'm most beautiful. Best mom-in-chief
A number one. Face like chopped beef.
These painted-on brows
are melting away.
I'm watching you with my small eye - you can't get away.
You're gonna act like
a real husband in public view
And find your ass is on stage.
Can't make a move.
Tell her that you've
Been tied to my ass
on a big ticket date.
If she wants time alone with you,
she'll have to wait.
If we can fake it now, we can drain the U.S. cash cow.
It's up to you, New York media. New York media.
She's wearing a cocktail dress, an updo and party earrings and he's going to a Broadway show without a tie.
Sunday Photo Contest: Why is the most in-love first couple ever dressed for two entirely different events?
(a) haven't been married long enough to know they should dress in the same style
(b) left the tie at Desiree's
(c) didn't want to spoil The Bo Look of darkcoat/white chest
(d) no actual communication between them
Bonus Amusement Item:
In The Apple Doghouse: A peek into how the company scrutinizes iPhone apps.
Is there anyone who doubts that the rejection was based on those eyebrows? Offensive! Or maybe it was because they painted some boobs onto her.
This is the seaside restaurant where the fam took me for a nice birthday dinner yesterday. Really it is a lovely setting when the windows aren't streaked with rain and the waves aren't violently crashing in the background. No wonder I was bummed out last night. It looks more like the opening scene of a murder mystery than a festive birthday dinner party.
Tomorrow is my birthday. I'm chewing an extra-strength TUMS and drinking tap water out of a plastic tiki mug.
Don't congratulate me.
This is my first birthday ever that I don't feel happy, or at the least content. I am filled with dread. Because life, huh? Life.
MORNING UPDATE: I'm feeling a lot more optimistic today. I just checked my "Your Birthday Today" horoscope and it says, in part:
"It is a time when we need to let go of things that no longer serve their purpose, and hold on to things that have a future. It is a time of cleaning out dead wood, not necessarily for new beginnings."
This fits in perfectly with my secret plan of turning the old TV room into a den with a big desk so we can park our work laptops and piles of bills and valuable junk mail there. I can't do that until I clean out the wooden laundry racks that seem to have taken permanent residence there and let go of the wing back chairs from the parlor. Also the piano - can I get rid of that?
The horoscope also says that I'm ruled by Mars this year so look out. I would hate to have to get all war-like on your asses.
UPDATE 2: Bob Hope has fallen off the list of "Famous People Born on May 29" and has been replaced with Melissa Etheridge and Annette Bening. Ain't that a hell of a thing?
A popular online "news" outlet is reporting that June 3rd is National Fist Bump Day. But which one is it - the satirical and fictitious Onion or the off-balance but utterly fascinating Huffington Post?
Why, it's Huffington Post! (Clicking that link will also put you in the right place for an in-depth and contemplative review of Judge Sonia's earrings, complete with a 9-panel slide show.)
Facts that I could assemble into a story if I had any energy left:
It's too late for the Plus 8. They're already messed up, especially the cranky and least tolerated older girl, Maddie. Too bad TLC chose to frame the personalities of each child by prejudiced editing and scene setting. Some children are favored, some are mocked and Maddie is never cut a single break. She is unfailingly shown as crying, screaming and being uncooperative. She's 8 and she has been on camera for 5 years. that's a lot of tears.
Jon and Kate are all over the tv talks shows and tabloid newspapers now and TLC has decided to make their marital difficulties part of the scripted episodes this year. generating family revenue and the expense of the family. TLC is the wrong venue for this. Think PBS: think Loud family. Now the only hope for the family and the individual members in it is to let the film roll and then extract truth from that product , rather than scripting each episode and then editing to fit the storyline.
Obviously, Jon and Kate, or at least Kate, has decided to keep their family in the public eye. The decision has already been made. At least an honest presentation in true cinema verite style could offer some small hope for at the least, insight and at the most, redemption, for both the children and the adults in this wrecked family.
Eight little faces indeed. Those little faces are going to spend a good long time searching for the meaning in the way thier lives unfolded.
A partial list:
Hair: longish, varying shades of blonde, hot but not in a good way. My bangs are starting to interfere with blinking.
Neck: stiff, occasionally emits noises of the snap crackle pop category.
Left shoulder: sore. Possible aftermath of trying onto fit myself on the loveseat for a nap by my jamming shoulder up against the armrest.
Abdomen: mosquito bite in the belly button area.
Knees: seen better days.
Arches: very sore from stepping on shovel to dig up pesky wild strawberry vine invaders in my side flower bed.
Toenails: naked like God meant them to be. Not that I'm down with this particular heavenly message - I just forgot where I put the Misty Mauve Express Finish 60 Second Nail Color.
The Obamas have gone to Camp David for the holiday weekend and I'm glad about that. If they use it, at least they won't be tempted to sell it off the same way that other common-man president Jimmy Carter sold off the presidential yacht.
Darlings, look! It's the Camp David China service:
Who knew that a mountain retreat with rustic cabins called for 24K gold-banded china service?
Emma, the 6 month old lab from next door, and Stedman have a regular playdate going on. She comes over to the backyard gate and makes a certain sort of yipping noise and he answers with the same kind of yipping. Then we let them socialize for a while. The socializing consists of:
First they run around the yard, go up one set of deck steps and down the other, and then settle into the business of showing each other their tonsils.
These are Blackberry pictures - too bad my regular camera is not functional at the moment. I doubt that would make much difference in the quality of the pictures, though - let me tell you something: it's not so easy to take good pictures of dogs on the move.
The interesting thing is that these dogs are true to their breeds. Stedman, the cattle herder, anticipates the direction that she is going to move in and feints back and forth to block her. If that doesn't work, he chases behind her nipping at her heels. Emma, the retriever, grabs onto his dog collar and pulls him around the yard.
Then everybody makes a poop and goes home.
UPDATE: Stedman's other girlfriend is a little lady we like to call the sprinkler system. He finds her irresistible.
I am BEGGING you to watch the Real Housewives of New Jersey. It's not too late to catch up - tonight is Epsiode 2 and you can catch recaps of Ep1 all over the internet or you can watch the full show here.
Now as a student of the RH franchises, I've been thinking about the differences between the show locations and this is how I see it:
That is not to say that being a steamroller is a bad thing. This is New Jersey! If you don't steamroll, someone else is going to get the good parking spaces.
I'm telling you - this is going to be the best RH ever. The only thing that would make it better is if they were holding tomatoes in the opening shot.
Hey! Why don't you invite me to come over? This is what I'll bring. And then I'll tell you: "This zesty cheese ring can be also made as a log."
People like what I cook. Want to know why? Because I never use less than one full teaspoon of anything no matter what. I laugh at a pinch! Might as well just stay in bed.
We have achieved rositude.
All I'm saying is that is you come around here and use my comments for your own commercial gain, I'm going to have to do something about that. For instance, if your name is something like W00d3n 5wing 5ets and you find a post I wrote about Malaria and Sahsay's swingsetty photo op, then I am going to change a few things in the comment that you wrote.
In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a pessimist, fatalist and a person with low expectations. Although I'm not all that old, I don't expect to live much longer. There's nothing wrong with my health. I'm not sick - I just don't expect to live a long time. On my honeymoon, an Egyptian palm reader told me that I would live more than 90 years, but then he turned to Sami and told him he wasn't used to reading pale skin so I can't count on that.
What I'm going to tell you next is completely out of character for me: I just bought some new carpets, I am considering new living room furniture and today, I am planting a rose garden. All of these things are long-term investments in either money or time and no one is more surprised about this than me.
There's a classic Twilight Zone episode about an old woman who fears death and won't got out or answer her door for fear that Death will find her. In the end, despite the way she has arranged her life, Death wins. Maybe these actions are my way of forestalling the inevitable . The will to live - it's really something, eh?
Anyway, I'm not afraid of death but I am afraid of modern medical techniques to keep you alive. Happy is he who is found dead in his own bed.
I'm a big fan of vases - crystal vases, pottery vases, dollar store vases, Lenox China Warehouse Clearance vases, flea market vases - I've got 'em all and I use them frequently. However, there are times when only a canning jar will do.
(Answered) Questions for Suzette:
When did you ever can?
Is that really a canning jar?
Are those your roses?
(Unanswered) Questions from Mr. Sami:
Is that my jar?
Why did you have to take that jar?
Did you think that maybe I'd like to have that jar to measure things?
Why don't you use one of those million vases that you have?
What happened to those coffee cans that I was saving?
China has us all over a barrel and they are out for our destruction. Oh, it won't be by anything so obvious as pulling the credit rug out from under us or shooting down our communications satellites or even by poisoning our dog food. Those moves are bold and they would risk retaliation. No, they'll be going about it a different way - by undermining the very fabric of our daily lives. In fact, it's already begun.
I'm talking specifically about nylon mesh bath puffs. Yes. I am of the habit of purchasing these from the dollar store, usually 4 or 6 to a plastic sleeve. Even though I employ a traditional wash cloth and have recently added a back brush to my routine, I still enjoy a lathery once-over before the final rinse. You can't beat these things for creating a good thick lather out of bar soap, shower gel or even -in a pinch - shampoo. Works in hard water, too!
I use them at home, I travel with them and leave the damp ones behind to be thrown out, I keep some in my suitcase and just take pleasure in the fact that wherever I am and whatever I'm doing, I will soon enough be able to depend on working up a good lather.
I notice however, that the Chinese have chosen to undermine my peace of mind by changing their production techniques. My last two batches have been very poorly made. Only one or two uses, and the little hanging string comes undone and just like that you find your self holding a 5 foot long tube of nylon netting. If this hasn't happened to you yet, let me tell you that balling up the netting in your hand and trying to carry on DOES NOT WORK. This disappointment, delivered while I stand naked and alone, is having a very bad effect on my psyche.
This is how it starts. First the bath puffs and then who knows what other thing we've come to depend on will let us down? Before you know it, the tanks will be able to roll right down the streets of New Jersey unopposed.
Here's what's funny: I collected all of my unpublished blog ideas and made one blog post out of them. In this way, I cleared out the drafts without the guilt of discarding them and without the effort required to make a full post out of each one. It's kind of unfinished and now it's an unpublished idea for a blog.
Many of you have lost confidence in main stream media reporting and just don't know what to believe anymore. Where can you turn when you want reliable information and answers to the questions of the day? Why, to Fashion Icon and Busy Mom™ Michelle Obama, of course!
You already know that she's the most beautiful first lady ever but did you know that she's done a little bit of everything? The sum total of all the things that make her special is too much for mere mortals to bear all at once, but fortunately, her individual parts are each separately qualified to set an example for America and the world.
And so today we launch a new public service feature here at Cripes, Suzette! called ASK MICHELLE OBAMA'S CHIN. Michelle Obama's chin is not only more beautiful than yours but you can absolutely depend on the truthfulness and accuracy of the answers to your questions because she's done a little bit of everything.
Today's Question: Is it true that when you were coming out of high school and going into college, you had to had to work all the time because you had to have enough money for books for the year, and to help out with tuition?
First, you have to have a chat with the business end of a dog to let them know who's the boss. You can see in the photo below that I am displaying my special Chin of Smug Satisfaction expression after a very successful session with Bo when he learned just who is the boss of his little puppy ass.
Next - and this step is crucial - you spin him around and give him the terrorist fist bump right on the noggin to make sure he got the message.
Now we're ready to walk. I like to employ my special leash-holding technique to be sure to maximize the pleasure of the beast/master relationship. I can feel it right down to my fingertips when that dog starts to move! FYI - I used my skills to train the rest of the family to stay out of my camera shot. Smiling Chin of Center Spotlight!
Finally, to reward yourself for all of your hard work, have a bit of fun by turning the dog over to a beginner but don't tell him anything about how to hold the leash or anything else about how to control a dog. This is a two-part process: (1) turn over dog (2) push impudent daughter out of photo frame. Try your best to make it one smooth move.
Think to yourself "Now let's see Desiree Rogers whisper into your ear like that again, Barry my boy" while displaying Chin of Mirth.
Don't forget - The Real Housewives of New Jersey premiers tonight.If you''ve seen the previews, you might be wondering how do people get to be like that? The answer is we start 'em young. E! knows that - that's why they got the Jersey jump on last night with a new reality series about our youngsters called Jersey Shore Unleashed. Now who says every place in America is the same nowadays? That, my friends, is Jersey-style. And if you think that this is made up or edited to give a false impression, then I guess you have never seen Guido Beach.
In case you're tempted to click away without watching that video, here are just a few samples of what you'll be missing:
My Blackberry is just fine now that I have a cradle to charge it instead of using the USB port. However, my laptop is still at corporate IT headquarters getting worked over and my home commuter works only intermittently. So as you can imagine, I have to use my limited online time wisely - and I am. I'm using it mainly to stalk Eric Violette, the lip-syncing singer from the freecreditreport.com commercials. There is precious little available about him, but this is what I've got so far:
Apparently, he's a real singer and an actor and he needs a better PR person if that's all I can find out about him.
Hey! Guess what I got for Mother's Day?* A rose garden. Here it is:
That's 28 linear feet of future beauty right there. Something about rain-soaked ground, shaking the dirt off of all the plant roots that turned up in the tilling and "maybe tomorrow." I don't know.
There are also roses, currently lounging around on the deck. These are Double Red Knockouts, advertised as the perfect rose for lazy gardeners. Which hello? Have you met me? I can't depend on this Mother's Day goodwill to last forever, you know.
Finally, there's a little bundle of wire fencing to keep out little dogs who like to dig and eat dirt. That aluminum ladder was standing on it's side and fell over with a clatter. The noise freaked the dog out and he won't go near it, so we're leaving it there as a dog barrier. 7 pots of delicious dirt with some annoying plants sticking out of them. Stay away, little dog. You know who you are.
I hope to see all of these elements put together sometime soon. "Maybe tomorrow."
* Also, people pulled out poison ivy vines, dug up hostas and sawed them in half, and then planted them elsewhere, thus sparing the old mother much present effort and future itching.
Here's what's funny: they're focusing on the wrong body part. All this fuss over Fashion Icon and Busy Mom Michelle Obama's™ arms misses her real power muscles: the ones that hold up the giant ugly necklaces.
I used to think that she was round-shouldered, had bad posture, slumped forward - any number of things to account for her slightly-off balance center of gravity. Now I realize it's because her trapezius muscles are overdeveloped due to the constant challenge of lugging 10 pounds of cheap beads around all the time.
In case you are tired of hearing about MO's arms, or if you never did quite get what is the attraction in the first place, do what I do - subsitute the word "butt cheeks" for "arms". It instantly improves any article written about her. Try it:
"May I change the subject," said a prominent Washington theologian at a recent dinner. The conversation had been high-minded -- religion, philosophy, the nature of evil. "I'd like to talk about Michelle Obama's butt cheeks," he said.
He is a big fan of those butt cheeks. We then began a discussion about the significance of the first lady's butt cheeks. Actually, it turned out to be equally serious. Michelle Obama's butt cheeks, we determined, were transformational. Her butt cheeks are representative of a new kind of woman: young, strong, vigorous, intelligent, accomplished, sexual, powerful, embracing and, most of all, loving."
See how much more fun it is that way? Here's another photo from the same event, the White House Correspondent's Dinner:
So much to take in here! Note the expression on MO's face as she resigns herself to giving the terrorist fist bump to everyone she meets for the rest of her life. I'd classify that one as"not thrilled".
Lookie here. Another elegant, beautiful Harvard grad with no bosom to speak of showed up at that dinner also wearing a sleeveless hot pink dress. It's the White House's Second Lady, Desiree Rogers. As you no doubt agree, I am something of an adept at recognizing and interpreting messages via fashion choices and I do believe there's a message there for someone.
And I'm not the only one who thinks something's up. Check this out. Body language!
Keep your eye on this, folks. It's going somewhere.
I mean to write "tame" in this post title but "lame" works even better.
I realize that this whole Dijjongate thing is a distraction that is just making us numb so that by the time Friday rolls around and the real news (fire the AFO scapegoat, admit a mistake about the Gitmo detainees, * yawn * ) is silently let loose at 5pm, no one will make note of it. That being said - Dijon? Are you kidding me?
As mustards go, one can do much better. I like a big bold brown mustard. This, to me, is what makes a good mustard:
But that's just me. Look, I understand why Dijon is popular - because it's subtle. It's the white sauce of mustards. Why even bother? Compare and contrast:
Only one or two more days of rain until New Jersey can start really enjoying the outdoors again.
I took advantage of the brief spell of non-rain this morning to go to the garden center for a 98 ¢ cellpack of impatiens. Here's an unexpected twist: I came away $200.00 lighter. Who could have predicted that would ever happen? I'm thrilled about everything that came home with me except for the impatiens - I should have gotten the purple ones.
Here's this summer's outdoor lighting:
It's a sideways grapevine wreath festooned with assorted Xmas lights. It makes the fabric canopy cover glow in the night. It gives off a kind of UFO-ish vibe, doesn't it?
Did Fashion Icon and Busy Mom Michelle Obama™ reveal another aspect of the Obama Plan For A Better America yesterday in her speech before a crowd of business executives yesterday?