Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dear Breast Cancer Awareness Fundraising Committee

Whoever Happens to Be In Charge of Marketing/Fundraising for "Money to Fight Breast Cancer",

I know that pink is the "official" color of Breast Cancer. Because women like pink, or because the insides of our boobs are pink, or whatever. I get that. It's annoying, but I get that.

I understand that for this reason you want to incorporate pink into the marketing materials that you send out. I also know that direct mailers are an important source of revenue to non-profits and for-profits alike.

However, here is the thing: when you send me a white envelope with one those clear plastic bits that lets you see the letter inside and that letter inside is pink, do you know what I think of?

Hmmm? Pink: alarmingly, eye-catchingly shining through a white business envelope?

Duh! It looks like an overdue bill! Your fundraising letter looks like an overdue bill!

Maybe I am an irresponsible person because this was my first thought. Maybe the other women of the pro-women mailing I got on because of Planned Parenthood are never late in paying for anything. But still, isn't pink in a business envelope kind of like the UNIVERSAL symbol for something is late?

So thanks for giving me a moment's panic, breast cancer people. (Wait, I paid all my bills! Is this that $20 dollars I still owe the dentist?).

Maybe this was your plan all along. Maybe the idea is that once people realize your letter ISN'T, in fact, the electricity company threatening to cut them off, they'll feel generous and want to give? Me, it just made me feel grumpy and I threw the letter away.

I thought you'd appreciate the feedback,

Easy O

Monday, November 9, 2009

REALLY old pictures of food

Okay, so I'm sick today -- down and out, out for the count, counted out, etc. I NEVER get sick, so I find the whole thing puzzling. I think, deep down, I have a healthy person's secret conviction that sick people are just faking. Actually getting sick is quite humbling.

I thought I'd take the chance to catch up on my blogging. I have lots of old ideas, pictures, etc. that during busier times simply sink to the bottom of my list. BAD BLOGGER. So today, I'd like to present a REALLY old installment of...

The Nervous Chef

Tagline: "Not Nervous? Well, you should be."

What's the Nervous Chef, you ask? The Nervous Chef is a cooking show that I have in my head. It's basically me cooking. It makes me nervous. Especially when other people are around. I tend to do dumb things, like putting in five cups of milk when making frosting, instead of the required .5 (that decimal point is easy to miss!). Most of my cooking involves me fucking up and figuring out a way to cover up said fuck up.

Today, the Nervous Chef Makes Deconstructed Lasagna!

I was asked to bring Italian Food to a dinner party and wanting to be different, took the suggestion to make "deconstructed lasagna." I'd also watched the "Top Chef" episode where they have to make a deconstructed meal and so the thought made me feel fancy.

I used this recipe. I'd never used Rachel Ray before and have this received idea that I'm supposed to dislike her. But I found the recipe actually lived up to its promise of being easy and easily done in thirty minutes. This worked well for me, as I'm someone who leaves shopping and cooking till way too late in the day. As it was, I was only half an hour late for the dinner party; with a more complicated recipe, I may never have arrived.

My changes to recipe: despite having recently begun eating meat again, I made this vegetarian, using vegetable stock and no beef crumbles. This was a mistake, I feel -- the result was a little bland. I did also add some cumin, which I thought worked well and would recommend.

My big problem, at the end of the day, was the fusilli pasta. I know it made the recipe quicker, and is a different "take" on lasagna, but I thought it ended up looking like spagetti-o casserole:

So, I added some reggiano cheese on top, which helped:

Because I made it one big pan rather that individual servings, I put all the ricotta at the bottom in one layer, which I thought looked quite cool:

So, what was the result, Nervous Chef?

I arrived at the dinner party and plunked down my deconstructed lasagna right next to a baked ziti, which looked almost exactly the same, just with penne.

"What did you make?" I was asked.
"Deconstructed lasagna," the Nervous Chef answers, proudly and nervously.
"What's that?"
"You know...it's deconstructed."
"Well, just...different kinds of noodles...the sauce and noodles are cooked separately...and I've got extra cheese for you to add yourself, you know, on the side..."
"Isn't this basically baked ziti?"
"Well, you know, it's deconstructed..."
Nervousness very high now.
"But what does that mean? Isn't that a just pretentious thing chefs say?"
"It's deconstructed."

So, quelle surprise, I was not heralded as a culinary genius for my Rachel Ray lasagna. And I actually preferred the other baked ziti, because I realized that what I really like about lasagna or baked ziti is the chewy, chewy noodles. Yum. My fusilli pasta tasted limp and overcooked to me. I loved the ricotta and the cumin and basil, but it was basically limp and bland, I thought.

What I'd do in the future (it is a simple and fast recipe):
-Use penne or some other thick pasta
-Use beef stock and beef crumbles
-jam-pack the thing with extras: spinach, more vegetables.
-More cheese. More cheese than you would ever think necessary.

So, my ultimately nervous thoughts on my lasagna: