Tag Archive: Cooking

Cleaning with Bella

New York City is dirty. There is a fine black dust everywhere, I think it is the result of all those cars driving over all that asphalt. It comes in between the window and the frame and settles on the surfaces of my apartment. My windowsills are white and a week after I sweep up the dust they are black again.

The Tuesday night I cooked my lentils and the pot boiled over I didn’t want to clean it up. The stove was hot and the sink was full and so forth. Besides, I wasn’t working the next day so I would clean it then. I got up the next day and scrubbed off the dried up mess, then I wiped down the rest of the stovetop. As soon as the wet sponge came in contact with the fine black dust, it turned to black streaks on the stove. The black streaks annoyed me, I had to clean the whole stovetop now, which meant I had to take the burners off and wash them, but the sink was full of dishes.

Everything in my apartment is small, that means big jobs have to be done in stages. I washed as many dishes as would fit in my dish drain, then I had to stop and do something else until they dried. Then finish washing the rest, then I could take the burners off and put them in soapy water in the sink, then spray the stovetop and wipe it down. Then lift the top to see if anything had fallen through and needed to be cleaned up. So now the stove was nice was clean. The counters looked dingy next to it. I’m pretty sure you can guess what had to happen next. Moving everything aside, spraying and wiping and moving back until the whole kitchen was bright and shiny. It’s amazing how long it takes to get such a small area clean.

Cooking with Bella

Sometimes I cook, not often but it does happen. I have your typical NYC apartment, small with a stove, counter top, sink and fridge in a little recessed area, not a separate room. When I was looking at apartments there was one with a separate kitchen, the oven couldn’t open all the way it was so narrow. I said no, I don’t cook but my friend does and she visits me. I like my little cooking area even though I don’t cook.

With my allergies and costs going up and my salary not going up, I have started to do a little cooking. My most recent endeavors started with hummus. I was going to a convention over the weekend and needed lunch. I always make chicken salad and take crackers for these things. Normally I make the chicken salad with cream cheese. This time I wanted to go a little lower fat so I thought I would mix it with hummus but I was out. The problem when I buy hummus is I have to read all the ingredients and it gets tiring. That’s why I bought a can of chick peas (garbanzo beans) to make my own. I drained them, mashed them with a fork and added some hot sauce, lemon juice and some of the liquid that was in the can. It turned out O.K. not a smooth as from the store, next time I’m going to try buying dry peas and cooking them myself and using my blender to get the hummus smooth.

Tuesday I cooked lentils. I had bought an Indian dinner to prepare that was red lentils in tomato sauce after I ate it I thought it was pretty good and should be easy to make myself, so I bought red lentils. They have been sitting in my cupboard ever since. Now I decided to cook them, I was flush with success after the hummus. I looked up the directions online and put them on the stove. The directions were from a blog and I started reading the comments. Partly from envy because there were so many and I get a pitiful amount of comments. Then I heard a sizzle and looked to see the pot was boiling over. It was a good thing this was the Tuesday before the Wednesday I was off since I had now had to spend a couple hours scrubbing my stove top. No it didn’t take that long to clean up the boil over remains, but the whole story of why I spent two hours cleaning my stove could take up a blog post of its own. That story, along with the story of the wet wall in my bathroom will have to wait for another day. The lentils weren’t ruined, just slightly overcooked, I added tomato sauce and grated cheese to make it a tasty dish.

DSCN0477Tonight I decided to make candied ginger. I started eating it for my stomach and got addicted to it. It’s another thing where reading the ingredients is tiring. Unlike the hummus and lentils, I have never made candied ginger before. So I googled it, then went to the store. Now, there was nothing in the instructions saying how to pick out good ginger, not thinking it made a difference I just kept filling the bag until I had a pound, bought some sugar and milk (I was out of milk) and headed home. Besides not knowing how to pick out good ginger, I had completely forgotten the directions said to ‘peel and slice ginger’. I don’t have a peeler, so the ginger was washed and sliced and I made candied ginger with the peel on. It took forever to slice the ginger, Alton Brown says to use a MANDOLINE, so I think I will get one. After cooking the ginger ‘gently’, which I had no idea how to cook something gently, till it was tender, there again “HUH? Tender, yeah no idea.” the directions say to weigh the cooked ginger and add an equal amount of sugar, then add 3 tablespoons of water and bring to a boil. I checked two recipes and both had the same amount of liquid, I was skeptical but followed the directions. You can see by the picture, there is a lot of liquid there. Where did it all come from? Can you see now why I don’t cook? The directions also say to cook until the ginger gets dry, about 15-20 minutes. It took much longer and I started to panic, thinking maybe I had ruined it. For pity’s sake, I can ruin boiled eggs.

DSCN0479Eventually it was done and I poured the ginger out onto an aluminum cookie sheet. You can see it here. I am not sure if I saved any money, but it is really tasty, I had to force myself to stop eating it. I will definitely be making it again, after I buy a peeler and a mandoline. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my culinary efforts. You might want to mark this down on your calendar, it is a momentous occasion. It’s actually worthy of a parade. Someone else will have to make the arrangements for a parade however, I have candied ginger to eat.

Riding the bus

Yesterday I rode the bus, it is an event that happens with sufficient infrequency to be noteworthy. It would never have happened if I knew how to cook sausage in a non-stick pan. I suppose I could blame that on my mother, since she had a cast-iron skillet and taught me how to cook sausage and eggs in that instead of a non-stick pan. Or maybe I could blame it on the fact that I now eat chicken or turkey sausage and there is not as much fat draining out into the pan. The fact remains that I ruined my pan cooking sausage in it and when I told Em I wanted to buy a cast-iron skillet she suggested going to Home Goods after the game yesterday.

20130816-023001.jpgWe took the B train from Yankee Stadium to 103rd, from there we walked to Home Goods, where I found a small cast-iron skillet, mission accomplished! I also saw these green Ramekins which I had to have. They are oven safe to 500°F (260°C) and also microwave, blowtorch and dishwasher safe, except I don’t have any of those. Really! I don’t have a blowtorch, never needed one. Em said they would not be a frivolous purchase because I would make baked eggs in them. I was thinking they would be good for single servings of baked Macaroni and cheese myself, or for heating up macaroni and cheese since I don’t have a microwave. Then we stopped at Model’s for socks, which they didn’t have. After that we went to eat Mexican food.

Em was ready to walk to Grand Central, I was ready to go home, but we were on the west side and I didn’t want to walk across the park since I always get lost walking across the park. Don’t ask and don’t judge. Also I was carrying this heavy cast-iron pan, 4 green Ramekins and 3 yellow bananas. And my knee hurt. That was when I got on the bus. If you’ve been reading this blog you may know that I hate the bus more than the train. Even when a friend tells me, “If you take the bus from church it will drop you right by your apartment.” I will still walk the two blocks to the Green Train and then walk the two blocks back to 2nd Ave. The Crosstown bus is not that bad. However once I got off the crosstown bus I walked up 2nd Avenue home. Which is how I ended up with a bottle of Aleve (that I needed) and a bottle of shampoo (that I didn’t really need but Ricky’s sucked me in).

While riding the bus I was struck by the thought that public transportation in NYC represents the diversity of the city. At one stop a man got on wearing a pale suit and straw Fedora (a different type of hat I would have said he was a southern gentleman), followed by a woman wearing a skirt and shirt (not quite pulled together businesswoman attire, looking pissed off, I wonder if the southern gentleman made a chauvinist comment to her), then a middle aged man wearing shorts and a Mets shirt (EWWW!), a teenage boy was next (he might have been with Mr. Met). There was also this ancient woman with hair down her back that looked like one big dreadlock (please don’t sit too close to me).

At least it was better than the subway ride to the stadium when I saw two women not wearing bras that should have been. One had on one of those strapless dresses that are cute if you’re not a DD cup, the other woman was wearing a white racerback tank top. My eyes, please my eyes hurt after that.