Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cooking JC's French Onion Soup

I belong to a book club and this month was Julie & Julia to coincide with the movie coming out. I grew up watching Julia Child's cooking show on PBS. I always loved her shows, especially with that cutie-pie Jacques Pepin. She always made it seem like a super-complicated recipe was actually possible for a home cook.

I'd never made one of her recipes before, but I was inspired by the book. I'm a decent cook so I was determined to tackle one of her recipes. Since I'm finishing up the last of the strict phase of South Beach, I also selfishly wanted to have something that I knew I could eat. After some thought, I decided to make french onion soup. I could eat it without the bread and cheese topping and be satisfied. Awesome!

I had to stay late at work on Wednesday so I didn't get home until about 9:30. I sliced up 6 pounds of onions--think about it, it's 2 big bags from the store. Then, I set to carmelize them with a stick of butter and some olive oil. I stirred, stirred, and stirred but after an hour and a half I gave up. The onions were sweet and had broken down into small chunks but never got that beautiful brown color. My back ached the whole next day from stirring so much.

Then, I added the beef broth and simmered for a short while. Somewhat lacking carmelization, the soup wasn't as rich and beefy tasting as I wanted. Luckily, I dug in my refrigerator and found some beef demi glace. Between some lovely beaujalais and the demi glace, the broth was much improved.

While the soup was simmering, I shredded swiss cheese and prepared the bread rounds. Basically, you slice up french bread and toast with a little olive oil until all the moisture is removed.

At book club the next day, I reheated the soup, placed the toast round and shredded cheese on top and set in the oven to get all melty and yummy. It was a big hit.

Thanks to the book club for inspiring me to FINALLY have the courage to attempt one of JC's recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I was so bouyed by my success, my husband bought me the 2 volume set. I've been reviewing the volumes and have selected a few more recipes to try. Maybe you'll have to come over one night for some beef burgundy, orange bavarian cream, lobster gratin...the list goes on.

Souhaitez-moi la chance! (Wish me luck!)

Baby Stealing

I went to visit my friends in the hospital today to see their new baby. The baby is so cute and snuggly. Normally, babies instantly squirm and cry when I hold them so I was prepared for the worst. I was as shocked as you are that the baby was totally cuddly and relaxed!

So I have a fantastic idea: instead of getting pregnant, going through labor (ouch) and risk having an ugly baby....why not steal one? Oh yeah, foolproof plan. Of course, my friends might recognize him so I'll have to come up with a cover story. Any ideas?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Walgreens Doesn't Sell Dirt, You Dummy

I was at a Walgreens last Thursday afternoon with my co-worker. We were waiting in line to pay for stuff I can't even remember now but was vitally important at the time. This dude comes in, eyes the long line, and then walks directly up to the cashier.

Side Bar: like most urban Walgreens' cashiers, she looked less than pleased to be there. In fact, she looked like she was hungover or possibly still drunk--sort of like a meaner version of Droopy. So awesome.

Anyway, so our friend random dude tries to butter up the cashier by using her name and asking her where is the (here's what I hear) "potting mix". Mean Droopy asks if he means for alcohol mixers. He's frustrated and says that he's from the South and he drove all the way to this Walgreens (?) to find "potting mix". My co-worker then suggests that if he's looking for a mix of different kinds of candy. At this point, I'm sorely confused because I think he's asking for potting soil. So, I ask "Do you mean dirt?" To this, he shoots me a nasty side glance and complains that we are all comedians or something.

Then he more helpfully explains he's looking for pretzels, Chex mix, etc. Ahhhh, you're looking for "party mix" not "potting mix". Oops, sorry for making fun of the awesome Southern accent. I was wondering why he thought Walgreens sold dirt.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

So Thirsty on South Beach

Okay, so I'm on Day 6 of South Beach. I'm supposed to drink sugar-free, caffeine-free stuff. I'm also supposed to stay away from sugar alcohols so I have to stay away from diet pop. Hmmmm.

At this point, I am drinking water and iced SF, decaf tea. I'm getting kind of bored and majorly thirsty. Anyone have any good suggestions for me?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Twilight Movie Kinda Sucked

Okay, so I try not to publicly identify myself as a twitard in public, but I have to admit that I really, really loved the books. Of course, my favorite was Midnight Sun (please, please finish it Stephenie).

Since I'm late to the party I wanted to wait to watch the movie until after I read the books so that it didn't spoil anything for me. So, last night my favoritest husband in the world surprised me with the movie in hand. YEAH!

As I was watching it, I just couldn't get over all the weird directing decisions and the changes from the book. I understand that a 500 page book needs to severely edited to make it into a regular length feature...but why would you add dialogue that doesn't exist in the book? Catherine Hardwicke was just trying too hard to give the movie an Indie vibe with the camera movements and music.

What really killed me was the casting: Nikki Reed as Rosalie? Ashley Greene as Alice? Wrong, Wrong, Wrong. Nikki Reed just isn't pretty enough and Ashley Greene's personality is right but doesn't come across as a tiny pixie.

Of course, like any good geek, I'm going to re-watch the movie to see if my opinion changes. I think now that I know where she decided to change things, I'll be able to calm down. Even my husband (who hasn't read the books) admitted that the trailer for New Moon looked better than Twilight. Hopefully, he's right! He usually is...

South Beach Continues--Day 5

I'm on Day 5 of South Beach. It's still tough saying no to all my delicious carb-friends, but I feel a lot better than I did at the beginning of the week. I suspect that most of my problems are really from caffeine withdrawal.

I must say that the recipes in the South Beach book are awesome. It's much easier for me to stay on target if I can eat something that doesn't look or taste like diet food. Tonight I'm going to have grilled steak and vegetables. I'd eat that with or without South Beach so that's great.

Plus, I'm a total dummy and didn't notice that the "Foods to Enjoy" list goes onto the top of the next page..duh.. I can have some treats like sugar-free gum and sugar-free fudgsicles! That may not seem like much to you but it's the world to me.

Keep your fingers crossed for me people, I am almost at the halfway point of the hardest part--and I've already lost some weight! Yes!

Monday, July 6, 2009

South Beach Day One

I've gained some weight lately and didn't want it to go any had to make some decisions. I thought and thought with my little pea brain until I came to the conclusion that the diet that worked best for me was South Beach.

For those of you who haven't done South Beach, it's like a less-strict Atkins. You still have the 2 week cleanse phase but then you get to add in things like fruit, dairy and whole grains. Honestly, it's the stuff you know you should eat: lean meat, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, etc. (Etc. sadly does not include moose tracks ice cream with bittersweet chocolate sauce)

Anyway, it's Day One for me. I must say I feel like crap. I don't remember feeling this badly the last time I did this. I am hungry, tired and my head hurts. I also have awesomely bad breath because I can neither drink pop or chew gum. Gotta bring my toothbrush tomorrow. Of course, some well-meaning but very evil person brought in at least 3 types of homebaked goodies today for the whole office...that makes me want to punch that person in the face. This is how it would go:

Me: Hey, did you bake those yummy cookies in the break room?
Satan: Yes, did you like them?
Me: [punch]
Satan: Ow.

Wish me luck tomorrow. On a 1-10 pain scale, today has got to be a 7.