Wednesday, November 17, 2010

You give us Hannah Montana??

Seattle is the land of music. Correction. Seattle is the land of awesome music and I'm not just talking about Nirvana and Sir Mix A Lot. The Puget Sound region birthed and nutured acts such as Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, Soundgargen, Queensryche, Heart, Alice in Chains and Jimi Hendrix as well as being a great city for independent and emerging musical acts from folk to jazz to rap - not to mention the incredible Seattle Symphony (and the fact that we have a multitude of other talented community orchestras) and the Seattle Opera which is one of the few opera companies brave enough to offer Wagner's Ring Cycle.

So tell me why. Why????? A 'why' that's wailed like Nancy Kerrigan screeched after getting clubbed in the leg... why did Microsoft decide to open up the first regional Microsoft Company store with Miley Cyrus?

Don't we have better taste than to celebrate a grand opening and a proud achievement with horrible teen-pop? I understand that the purpose of the store is to reach the general audience and provide them with access to Microsoft supported hardware and software - parents, kids, teens and those of us who don't drool over TigerDirect clearances and have their own SQL implementations in their garages. I get it. I also understand that some of our staple Microsoft-Geek bands like the Presidents of the United States of America or Harvey Danger may not draw the audience and buzz for the target market.
If I had my druthers, the store would be opening with a BFG-type band or at least a hip up and comer such as the Black Keys or Ghostland Observatory. Nonetheless, even if we're going to go pop instead of something a bit more cool and under the radar, I'd be happy with the Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna, Pink, or Maroon 5 or a a musical act that spans different age ranges and can put on an impressive show.  Doesn't Microsoft have the feeling that tonight is gonna be a good night since they are opening a new store?  Don't you need your Umbrella-ella-ella in the Pac Northwest after all?

The constant gray mist and the dark of the Seattle area fosters SAD in addition to the deep longing and aching that cultivates music genres we're known for such as the blues, grunge and emo music. Another explanation of why music and arts are so good here is because studies have shown that feeling sad makes us more creative. Sigh. Miley does make you want to slit your wrists so perhaps she fits in after all.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sunday Supper Club

We started a tradition this year we affectionately call, "Family Dinner." We tend to have long, stressful weeks and cut loose on Friday and Saturday - what better than to relax and decompress with friends over food, wine and Sunday night football to finish off the week and start the next week renewed?

The point is that we get to hang out and enjoy each other's company at least one night of the week. Eating out and ordering pizza is not considered faux pas. However, it's also a great opportunity to develop entertaining and culinary skills. Nick and I sometimes take that very seriously.

One of the first forays into family dinner, Nick decided to use his new knife and do something simple but delicious.


Met Market had these gorgeous heirloom tomatoes so we thought that simple tomatoes drizzled with oil would be a nice starter along with crusty bread to sop up the extra oil.

Entrée and Sides

Nick made a spaghetti dish with Dungeness crab, mint and chilies. Now this either sounds heavenly to you or a bit weird but the mint incorporated in the dish cools off the heat of the chilies and balances well with the sweetness of the crab and saltiness of the shaved parm heaped on top. It's simple, delicious but with complex enough flavors to be interesting. For sides, he had heirloom carrots drizzled with a honey vinaigrette and roasted beets with a sauce made from the carrot tops.


I made a peanut butter, chocolate banana cream pie. It had a tasty vanilla wafer cookie crust with layers of chocolate pudding/mousse, peanut butter cream, bananas, whipped cream topped with toasted walnuts and crumble. I think it was going to be normal banana cream pie but someone requested chocolate to be added. Very easy to make since I used storebought pudding mix instead of homemade pudding and also delicious and homey-tasting.

Takeaway? We learned that our friends are f-ing picky.

Some people don't like bananas. Some don't eat raw tomatoes or essentially tomatoes that aren't in sauce or ketchup form. A bunch of our friends can't eat spicy food and are a 1 or 2 star in thai food ordering-speak. Many of our friends have fungi aversions and aren't fan of mushrooms while others do not eat seafood. Vince is allergic to shrimp. A few friends of mine are gluten intolerant. A few other friends (who haven't come to family dinner) are not adventurous with food at all. It turned out that the vegetarians tend to be the least picky (aside from Nick and Skyeward), funny enough.

I thought it was funny to have a chart of allergies, food aversions and general pickiness for our friends although some pals were not amused.

The next supper club, we made a taco bar. Easy to add what you want and not add tomatoes if you hate raw tomatoes. The food was gorgeous, fun and delicious but unfussy; the real takeaway was that we decided to rethink our approach to family dinner and not to be as experimental or different unless we have the right audience to eat our food. And we've since had delicious dinners cooked by Tiff, Beth and Vince, delicious desserts by Bernadette as well as more meals cooked by Nick and I.
I encourage you to start your own supper club with friends as an informal way to practice cooking, entertaining or just a relaxing way to end your week even if you're having beers and pizza or takeout thai food. Or if you're a friend of mine, come join us by hosting family dinner or asking to be invited! Enjoying food together is amazing but just being together is the key.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Well, that clears things up...

Foodie culture needs the occasional moment of levity. Sometimes we tend to take our passions too seriously. Or not seriously enough, as in this case, when the Food Network published a Rachel Ray recipe for "Late Night Bacon." Apparently adding the modifier "Late Night" makes it more...I don't know...mysterious. But no, it's just boring ol' bacon. Here's the recipe:

Not this isn't pretty funny in its own right, but the commentary really brings it. Please check it out now before the Food Network gets wise and pulls it down:

- "Rachel, I happen to know for a fact that you stole this recipe from my father. It's the EXACT same recipe he's been making for years. Did you really think you could get away with this? You'll be hearing from our lawyer." 

- "Hi Rachel Ray,
I have a huge dilemma. I love, love, love bacon and your recipe sounds DELICIOUS! But I'm just can't stay up until "late nite". What do I do???!!! Can you please urgently post a morning or preferably a mid to late morning bacon recipe? Thanks!"

- "I was really hoping to combine this scrumptious recipe with some toast, but I can't find the recipe anywhere on the Food Network. Rachel, please help me...if you know how." 

- "Do you have any recipes for cereal? The kind in a box? I really like cereal, but it seems tricky- milk first? cereal? big spoon? little spoon?"  

- "Tried this recipe last night. The bacon was great, but the paper towels tasted awful."