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A paper cup, a hammer, and some sugar walk onto a balcony…

December 1, 2009

…where the paper cup eats the sugar and the hammer beats the paper cup to smithereens. Along comes a completely innocent woman who tosses the hammer aside and picks through through the remains of the paper cup for its last meal. The end.

So, rock sugar. Not to be confused with its easily broken cousin rock candy. I’ll tell you about the first time I used rock sugar. I was making a pot of pho. I put everything into the pot and finally got to the rock sugar part. “Put in 1 inch of rock sugar”.

Haha, I thought, I get to put candy in my pho! Wrong! What in my mind had been translated out as rock candy due to the synonymous nature of candy and sugar was, in fact, closer to it’s rock moniker. So, I smugly pulled out a 3 inch piece of rock sugar, gripped it by opposing sides, and… nothing. I smugly thwacked it a few times against the counter… the sink… nothing. I huffingly slammed a metal spoon against it… nothing. I wrapped it in saran wrap and beat it with my rolling pin and got… shreds of saran wrap. Desperately, I scanned my drawers for something hard. No meat mallet. No electric knife. No “100 Ways to Have Your Rock Sugar and Get 1 Inch Chunks With It Too”. A quick glance around me, told me I was alone with my failure, and god help me, I considered throwing that whole damn thing in the pot.
Then while I was thinking about how much I needed a meat mallet, I went to the dry erase board on the fridge to write “meat mallet”, and noticed the corkboard was cluttered, so while cleaning that I began wondering how strong the thumbtacks must be to be holding this huge corkboard to the wall, then I remembered it was held up by nails. Hahaha, you’ve been nailed… oh, wait! Hammered! Hahaha, you were hammered. Oh, WAIT! HAMMER!

Yes, it is glorious the way this idea trap works.

The first time I slammed down on a hunk of rock sugar, I ended up spending quite a bit of time cleaning up dust sugar. So take it from me… the paper cup/paper bag is necessary. This method won’t get a perfect 1 inch result, but if you have a better way, let me know!

“1 Way to Have Your Rock Sugar and Get a Bunch of Little Pebble Sugars With It, Too, While Legitimately Beating Something With a Hammer”

You will need… a large paper cup/paper bag, a hammer, rock sugar.
Place sugar into cup.
Beat the shit out of the cup.
Reap the rewards.


Put it back into the original box or do like I do and put the “good rock sugar” into a separate container and leave it for the world to see it’s beauty. No, seriously, I do this.


Recipe: Raspberry Basil Glazed Chicken and Cooking RED to Remember

November 29, 2009

Cooking RED to Remember

I started off Thanksgiving with less than a thankful heart. My in-laws live too far away. Where are we going to get money for a down payment on a house? I hate this apartment. Why am I such a horrible cook? Why do I have to be so concerned over this other thing? Why don’t we have family here?

I was put to shame by this story. This woman has one of my favorite blogs, and her personal story about losing both her brother and her cousin to AIDS destroyed me. What an incredibly strong woman. And she was exactly right when she said that no one can fully understand the loss. I can’t. I’ve never lost or even known anyone with AIDS, but I can empathize. And be thankful to that I had my ass handed to me.

I am thankful that my in-laws are so awesome, I start to miss them. I’m thankful that we weren’t laughed out of the realtor’s and have actually been pre-approved for far more than we expected. I’m thankful that we know better than to buy a house at our pre-approved amount. I’m thankful that the reasons we hate this apartment weren’t here this Thanksgiving. I’m thankful that only one spontaneous dish was just not awesome instead of horrible. I’m thankful that the other concern has no real hold over me. I’m thankful that, after slapping myself awake, I realize, again, that the two people who are always here for me are the only family I need at my table.

The chicken recipe wasn’t chosen as a dedication to Cooking RED to Remember. The pieces simply fell together. I am thankful for that, too.

Raspberry and Basil Glazed Chicken
Serves: 4 to 6

1 cup fresh raspberries, warmed on the counter
1 Tbsp fresh basil, minced (about 1 large leaf)
1/4 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1/4 tsp fresh garlic, minced
2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp oil
pinch of salt

whole chicken or 4-6 leg quarters
2 Tbsp water (to keep glaze from burning in the pan)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Wash, pat dry with paper towels, and arrange the chicken in a baking dish. Salt lightly. Set aside.

2. Using a large spoon, mash the raspberries through a sieve or strainer into a bowl. This will take elbow grease, just stick to it! Put the pulp into cheesecloth or the like (I use these, since I don’t have cheesecloth), and squeeze out the remaining juice into the bowl. Pour the juice into a blender or food processor with the basil, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, and oil. Blend for 1 minute.

3. Baste the chicken and cook for 20 minutes covered. After that, cook for 1 hour basting every 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes, covered. I hate how aluminum foil can take some of the skin away when you remove it, so I ingeniously covered the chicken with one of my massive mixing bowls.

Eat. Mmmm.

Support World AIDS Day

Money Idea: Make money unavailable, to make extra activities attainable

November 9, 2009


Ugh, this post has been a disaster! 1st, space cadet, like, totally. 2nd, loss of direction. 3rd, Jack Donaghey. 4th, internet crashed taking the post with it.

This attempt is like having taken a trip through a field and having accidentally dropped some of your belongings along the way only to cross the field and be told that it’s actually a minefield and what you dropped is essential to life and now you have to go back and pick them up.

Maybe not that bad…. but it feels close.

Aaaaaanywaaaaay, we here at kitchenOCD do a lot of things. We are weekend warriors and not for home repairs. We do festivals, carnivals, fairs, community events, concerts, simple walks down untravelled trails, zoos, museums, and amusement parks. Considering our budget, this is a pretty damn amazing feat.

That we do it without ever using plastic, has me patting my own back at this very moment.

It takes a bit of planning and a lot of willpower. What we do is make money unavailable. It used to be that making it unavailable meant putting it in the bank. Well, now everything is electronic, and we pull directly from the bank for necessities. This makes keeping a certain amount of funds unavailable really tricky. Because it’s still technically there in your available balance, so accidentally spending it is really easy. Then you are shit out of luck the day before your mother’s birthday when you had this thoughtful gift all lined up, and you’re left giving her a fantastic phone call to make up for it </sarcasm>. I know. I have.

Then, I discovered this nifty and kind of retro currency called cash. A brief lesson on cash (k-A¯SH). It is printed on paper. It cannot, in fact, burn a hole in anyone’s pocket. Every other country’s paper money is prettier than ours.

It’s also really good at getting out of sight, out of mind. This is how I build an activity fund:

  1. When we have money, we make it disappear (magic!) by pulling a few bucks here and there at the grocery store, gas station, or passing by the bank. Nothing big, maybe 10 here, 5 there. The important part is that it becomes part of the routine, so you can trick yourself into making it a necessity. I’m less likely to pull cash if I have to make an extra trip because then it feels extraneous.
  2. Immediately after getting home it goes out of the wallet and into the treasure trove.
  3. The treasure trove then goes out of sight on the fridge. Keeping the money from finding it’s way into my hands again isn’t hard because I start to feel this sense of accomplishment as the pile builds, like when I was a kid and did odd jobs for my mom to earn enough money to buy Christmas presents for everyone. (Sure she was technically buying them, but I’d be damned if I’d let it be a handout.) If you don’t get this sense, and need a little bit of help keeping away from the cash, allow Piggy to give a visual presentation on choosing an appropriate Cash Keeper.


Hello, Piggy. Ready to help us choose a Cash Keeper?


He may be the Rebellion’s new hope, but he borrowed 5 bucks from me to pick up some power converters and I haven’t seen a red cent since.


Good idea, Piggy. Just walk on by.


Cloning? Hmmmm… that seems like a risky venture. Heeey! Robots don’t need to be cloned!


Now who is this fine fellow?


Such a trustworthy face! With poison jab to boot!


Krogunk, I choose you! to be my Cash Keeper.

The end.

Re-Purposing Carry-Out: herbs

November 1, 2009

Thai Basil

We don’t order our Asian dishes to go very often. There is something about sitting in the scent while you are eating the scent that just blows my mind each time. It’s also part of the reason that when after years of being without a Vietnamese noodle house, I walked into a noodle house to pick up my pho’ and almost burst into tears from the familiar aroma of rich grilled meats and full, soothing pho.

Once I got to enjoying my pho’ calmly slurping up each noodle from my styrafoam cup (there wasn’t a bowl to be found at work) and my hand stopped shaking from repressed joy, I realized that within that carry-out box was a treasure trove.

Thai Basil.

I have found this no where in all of my quests! It was just pure, dumb luck that I was also thinking about the ice cream in the break room kitchen that was off limits for some stupid reason it’s not like I don’t leave at least one serving in the bottom of the containers, but this also reminded me that there’s ice in freezers and that Lifehacker put up a great article on preserving fresh herbs.

Freeze them. So I did. I chopped up the basil, put a perfect tablespoon into a mini muffin tin, covered with water, and froze them. Now I have fresh-ish Thai basil whenever I want! And with the convenient location of the Vietnamese noodle house… comfort whenever I want. This can be done with any fresh herb. Just pop the servings out of the muffin tin and store in a container – in the freezer, of course.

Recipe: Lazy Lunch’s Eggplant Partly-Parmesan

October 28, 2009

Lazy Eggplant Partly-Parmesan

I used to hate eggplant.

I had a nasty run in when attempting to ‘sweat’ the eggplant using table salt. The eggplant was supposed to be completely covered in salt and left to leak over the sink before rinsing, breading, and cooking. I won’t go into details. Seriously, just use your imagination. But it turned me off of eggplant for years. Until I saw this amazing looking dish by Kristina at Former Chef.

I will try anything twice. And if that twice is covered in cheese, especially ricotta, the better.

So, this was actually made because, while I love Kristina’s I just don’t have the calories to eat it as a regular lunch meal. And I can be lazy. Very lazy. Very, very lazy. I’m wearing last week’s underwear.

I call it partly parmesan because calling something ‘parmesan’ always felt a little like a lie since a lot of time it’s a good deal of mozzarella…. Okay, I’m calling it that because I like the way it sounds.


I like the Muir Glen brand of pasta sauce, just get the most flavorful sauce you can find. The crunch is from the eggplant and the punch is from the sauce!

Lazy Lunch’s Eggplant Partly-Parmesan

Serves: 2

2 eggs
3 cups panko
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
1 large eggplant

4-8 oz mozzarella cheese (this is really depending on how much you like your cheese)
2 oz parmesan cheese
16 oz flavorful pasta sauce

salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400°F and cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. Scramble the eggs in a container large enough for dipping. Put the panko in a good sized flat dish, a baking dish would be perfect, and drizzle with the olive oil stirring around so the oil lightly saturates all the panko. Set aside. Wash the eggplant and slice into wheels 1/2 inch thick. Dip the slices, one at a time into the egg poking holes into it like you would for french toast. Then set into the panko and cover with panko, pressing down lightly. (The sides won’t really catch very well because the skin of the eggplant is so slick. Don’t worry about it.) Set the slice onto the cookie sheet. Do this for the rest of the slices. Lightly salt and pepper the eggplant and put into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the crust gets golden brown.

3. Remove from the oven, flip, salt and pepper. This time though put a bit of the mozzarella and parmesan on the top. Return to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes until the cheese melts. (Stop here for work lunch) During this time heat your sauce in a pan.

4. Remove the eggplant from the oven. Cover the plates with sauce and top with eggplant!

For work lunch:
1. Remove the eggplant from the oven and cool completely before putting into the fridge so it will retain a bit of the crunch. I made this with dinner and then had it sit out til bedtime. Put into your lunch container. Fill a separate spill proof container with the sauce, and dude, please, save your money from being used on a ‘spill proof’ designated container and use one of your old jam jars. Bring a small plate and heat the sauce on it then put on the eggplant and heat. Mmmmmm. That was my lunch today.


This really shouldn’t be at the bottom here, but whatever. Thank you so much, ThriftyDCCook! Your request for this recipe got me back on my blog. I’d really fallen into a slump there. And I’m incredibly embarrassed that I don’t know your name. I searched, really did. So, thank you, Thrifty!

This goes out to you… <insert corny 80’s music>

Feature Finish: Broken Meals

October 23, 2009

I am so sorry this never got finished. Now it’s been so long that I can’t remember everything that went on in that week we were scraping the final remains of food from our kitchen.

It was really easy and the only thing that I can say I really missed were fresh vegetables. We still had some at the end of the week but not like usual. It made me realize that we eat a ton of veggies! And that made me feel proud because vegetables are the hardest thing to incorporate into a diet, it seems.

I am even happier because we were also able to keep from dipping into our festival collection* for a cheap night out.

Go us!

*Cash we’ve collected for those pocket emptying holiday festivals.

Feature: Broken Meals day 6

October 11, 2009

Captain’s Log. Star date 10072009.

It was a lonely night, eating alone in my quarters. The crew had dined earlier on whatever they could find resembling food. I suspect the mess head is hoarding the better pieces of remaining food for her own crew.

It is intolerable!

End transmission.

Day 6: Dinner

Day 6: Dinner

Yeeeeah…. it was a little haphazard this night because we are seriously getting down to the bare bones of our food. I was just lucky Faye was so blitzed from school, she blindly downed a bowl of cereal, watched some “Shugo Chara”, and went to bed. Mikey fended for himself with leftovers (I guess that doesn’t count as an explanation since everything is leftovers at this point 😉 ).

I had a grilled cheese sandwich with quite possibly some of the best cheddar cheese ever of my life with a tomato and the last fresh orange. Taste: the cheddar was so melty delicious, and the tomato was surprisingly still crispy, the orange was perfectly ripe! Score!! What was hiding: bread, tomato, cheese, orange. Where was it hiding: freezer, crisper, drawer, crisper.

Tomorrow is the last day!!!! YES, YES, YES!! I get to buy FOOD!! I have been desperately wanting to make cookies, but it just feels so wrong when there is not a vegetable to be seen to make up for it.