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JennyUptown

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  1. My scheduled 4pm meeting has seemingly been delayed or canceled completely (not a bad thing) so I thought now would be a good time to write about food and sports. I'm not talking about pricey concession stand food at pro games or anything like that, although I could. Instead, I am thinking about athletes and their eating habits. For most of us egulleteers, getting a multi-million dollar influx of cash would result in some culinary-type upgrades, right? Whether that's getting that Viking stove, buying truffles weekly or doing a world tour of dining hot-spots, I think we can all agree that a sudden cash windfall would cover some kind of food-related indulgence. Sure, a lot of athletes outfit their dream homes with fancy kitchens (as seen on Cribs and discussed here. But a lot of them are never, ever used. The real issue is that for a lot of athletes their income increases, but their tastes remain the same. For some, there's fear about trying something new (even more so than my own fear of slimy seafood) because they come from sheltered backgrounds. For a lot, money was an issue growing up and dining out was not a common occurrence. They may learn to appreciate a good steak a la Morton's or similar (more on that later), but it's rare to hear an NBA player order the fois gras appetizer or anything involving confit. You're more like to spot famous athletes at TGIFriday's or your local Hard Rock Cafe than at Citronelle (DC) or Mix (NY). One athlete I know really struggles with it. He loves having the opportunity to experience new cities on road trips, but in most cases, his teammates are impervious to his pleadings to try local cuisine. They eat a LOT of Taco Bell and it's not unheard of for groups of them to hit the local Olive Garden. Sometimes my acquaintance is brave and dines alone. At his height, it's not easy to blend in. Regarding steakhouses, I eat in a LOT of them and most times, it's Morton's. They seem to have the US blanketed and in markets with a major sports team or two, Morton's is good about catering to players by keeping the kitchen open late on game nights. One time I ate in a Morton's three consecutive nights in three different cities. I try to eat oatmeal here and there to counteract the cholesterol that I'm sure will eventually collect in my bloodstream. Once in awhile, an athlete will hire a personal chef. In some cases, it's a full time gig and the chef will cook pretty much everything. But in other cases, the chefs provide the service of cooking ahead so that when the athlete returns late at night from a home game or road trip, there's something in the fridge for reheating. Playing the pros is a big adjustment for a college or HS athlete and the body goes through big changes - in most cases, a noticable weight loss occurs and it's a problem as they're trying to get used to playing against bigger, stronger, older competitors. It's so important to stay healthy and keep a full tank of gas, so to speak.
  2. To avoid grossing myself out more by talking about things that make me squeamish, I'm changing the subject completely. Something that would encourage me to cook more regularly: A music source in the kitchen. My living room tv is the closest noisemaker so most often, I put on whatever program catches my interest and turn up the volume (sorry next door neighbor!). The problem is that all too frequently, it catches my attention TOO much and I end up running in and out of the kitchen to catch a bit of the program or I take whatever I'm working on - peeling apples, making a spice rub, etc. - out into the living room and I stare at the tv, only giving the foodstuff 25% or so of my attention. Not good. What I'm listening to these days: * Hip-hop is my genre of choice. <I expect eye rolling here> It's kind of a cultural thing, working in sports as I do. It would be very hard to be a country music lover (like Mom - eek; she loves George Bush too) in my present career. Jay-Z, Biggie, Tupac, Dre, The Roots, Tribe, I'm all over the place. * Elliott Smith/XO. I discovered his stuff posthumously which is sad. I'm trying not to get too attached as I doubt much new stuff is forthcoming. Hey, it could happen. Look at 'Pac. PLM makes fun of me when he gets in the car and I have on "Waltz #2" for the 1000th time. When Jeff Buckley died, I put his CDs away for awhile. * Soul. I bought Aretha Franklin's four disc set, The Atlantic Recordings, through BMG (I had to buy something from them sooner or later - the mail was taking on a threatening tone) and it's FANtastic. She's so cool. I have a meeting at 4pm ET so I should focus now...
  3. <<stunned, alarmed silence>> (edited to include "alarmed")
  4. Legit rant (as confirmed by how nervous I was to admit that I don't like seafood in this forum!)
  5. More foods that make me squeamish: Pigs' knuckles My grandmother *loved* them and would cook them once or twice a year. I couldn't believe that kind of smell could come from the same pig that produced the bacon I loved so much. Halupki (aka halushki) Pennsylvania has a lot of Eastern European cultures represented. My father's family is Polish. My mother's side of the family is Welsh and German - strangely enough, it was my maternal grandmother who liked most of what I considered to be the weird foods. I hated it when Nana would make these meat and rice-filled cabbage rolls. Again, it was primarily the smell and they would usually convince me to eat some of the filling (never the cabbage shell though - bleechh). Tongue No, no, no. Mom's sister, my dear Aunt Mar, loved it (and loved grossing me out even more).
  6. My seafood fears have been covered pretty well by my fellow fish-fearing friends. Bad tastes. Gagging in public. No thank you. Allergic reactions resulting in slow painful death. I used to lean on the latter excuse a LOT, however now that I've tasted two types of shellfish (among the most common allergic-reaction producers), I can't really go there anymore. Now I'm focusing on that whole farm-raised salmon/toxins thing.
  7. One could say I have potential. Pan, this is the greatest compliment you could give me. My secret ambition is to be a writer and I recently got my act together and took a class online through Gotham Writer's Workshop. Loved it! Now I just need to focus and query and hopefully... eventually... get published. This is a great offer and I may take you up on it. One of PLM's quirks is that he will not allow me in the kitchen while he is cooking. At first I was suspicious that his creations might be in the terrible "semi-homemade" vein. Ha, ha! Have since confirmed otherwise. Reconnaissance...
  8. Medium. I'm in recovery in that regard. I grew up in a family where roast beef was served grey. My mother won't touch meat that's not well done and my father (or should I say "long-suffering father") just goes along with it because she's the boss of the house. When in a restaurant, he goes medium as well.
  9. See??? I have hid my issue from the DC folks pretty successfully to date, but now I've gone and outed myself!
  10. This is a MUCH different response than I had anticipated. In all of my egullet posts, I was very careful not to mention that seafood isn't my thing for fear of being judged (that sounds dumb when I type it, but it's a legit feeling). Thanks for the gentle encouragement!
  11. Last Thursday, they hosted a viewing party for The Apprentice, the Donald Trump reality program. I'll have to see if any of my colleagues actually went (I did not).
  12. I never really used to think about the contents of my refrigerator and my pantry was generally filled with pasta, corn chips, flour, sugar and a few random cans that had been around for a long, long time. But lately...my on-hand items have become a source of embarassment. The conversation tends to go like this: Him: Got any chicken stock? I need some to make dinner. Me: Sure, check the fridge. Him: Uh, it's dated October somethingth. Me: Not good. But like I said, I have been content for so long to eat and repeat the same meal or two and they don't require many ingredients. More embarassing admissions: * Until recently, I had never purchased fresh garlic and up until about two years ago, I hadn't even bought jarred minced garlic either. My seasonings of choice? Garlic salt or garlic pepper. Eek, I apologize to all of those I have horrified by typing this. * Until a year and a half ago, I had never, EVER allowed a bit of seafood to cross these lips. Seriously. My parents, seafood lovers, had always encouraged me to try stuff, but I was stubborn. No fish. No shrimp. No lobster. Nothing. Finally, after lots and lots of champagne at a wedding, I tasted crab and in my stupor, I seemed to like it (and miracle of miracles, I remembered liking it too). I have since enjoyed crab here and there, however I'm still very sensitive about smells, textures, etc. One whiff of fishy-ness is enough to make me say "thanks, I'm done." I'm only batting .500 with seafood. Shrimp did NOT go as well as crab. Way too chewy although the flavor was ok. When PLM and I first started dating, he chased me around my apartment with some sushi he had ordered. Spicy eel is NOT on my list of seafoods to try next. The problem, I think, comes down to squeamishness. Few things make me queasy - not medical programs on tv showing blood and guts, really not anything. Just fish. Weird, I know.
  13. Of late I have been enjoying an interesting Sunday night dinner arrangement. PLM comes over, cooks for me and then leaves for his intramural sports league. I eat a little to hold me over until he returns around 9 and then we eat together. Yesterday's dish was a homemade version of General Tso's Chicken. Delicious in that it wasn't heavily fried like the dish you get from your local Chinese restaurant. He used the sesame oil he bought during a recent trip to an Asian grocery in Rockville (MD) and was pretty excited about it. I ate it over a little plain white rice (I'm trying to escape my carb addiction - not because it's trendy to do so, but because they easily amount to 60% of my diet). Although I enjoyed the chicken, last week's dish made me go "Ohhhhhh, this is GOOD." Inspired by something he saw on Food TV, PLM did a fruit-stuffed pork loin. Raisins, apples, brown sugar, etc. processed the new Cuisinart. It was incredible. I had to laugh as I ate it, though, because I have a friend who objects to what she calls "sweet meat." She mistakenly thinks any kind of barbecue tastes sweet. Would never eat pork chops with apples. That sort of thing. I called her while PLM and I were eating to describe the goodness she was missing. She wasn't swayed. For dessert last night, I did my part and made an apple-pear crisp which we ate warm with ice cream. It was a very simple recipe with very few ingredients: cinnamon, sugar, brown sugar, butter, flour, the fruit...that's pretty much it. Today I had my usual breakfast: half a poppyseed bagel with melted cheddar cheese and a gigante iced latte from Cosi. It's funny. I usually don't specify a size when I order my coffee. The employees at Cosi kind of look at me and gauge whether it's a day when I need a lot of caffeine (gigante) or if I'm holding up ok (grande will do). I guess I looked tired today. On weekends, we eat better breakfasts. Sometimes is an egg casserole with sausage, but not often because I like eggs more than PLM does. He prefers something sweet, even if it's a frozen waffle or those Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, with sausage or bacon on the side. He handles dinner almost all of the time and says breakfast is my responsibility. I guess he has a point there! Lunch today will be leftover pasta alfredo with peas (again!) and bits of proscuitto I sauteed in EVOO before adding it to the sauce of heavy cream, butter and parmesan cheese. It's amazing I don't weigh a ton because I have a weakness for rich foods. Part of it, I think, is portion size. I generally don't eat a lot of any one thing in a sitting and like hillvalley, I am satisfied with just a taste of something sweet. After a meal at home when I haven't made a special dessert, a Hershey Kiss or two is enough to end the meal.
  14. I went about a year ago and wasn't all that impressed. The food was just ok and we found the atmosphere and service lacking.
  15. This is not the blog of a gourmand. Or one by a witty American living abroad who has somehow managed to master the cuisine of her new. I don't come up with interesting foods with which to feed a classroom full of kids with short attention spans. Still, this week I will try to come up with some way of keeping you interested, entertained and coming back for more. If I must resort to discussing the old standards - sex, drugs, rock & roll - I will not hesitate to do so. I am shameless! My DC-area compadres know me a bit, so will some of the kind NYC folks. For the rest of you, feel free to check out my bio for some background. You are most welcome to post random questions, as well as comments related to my postings. In this blog, you'll find random musings on the role of food in my life as well as descriptions of meals in the restaurants of DC, my attempts at cooking and an ever-growing list of why I find it so difficult to cook well and with frequency. Lately I've been trying to add new dishes to my repertoire. Before Christmas, I mentioned this to a family member or two and as a result, I received several cooking-related gifts including a large set of Henckel knives, a food processor and some cookbooks. Pretty cool. I have only sliced myself once so far. My inspiration? I have a boyfriend who cooks. He, who shall be known from here forward as PLM (short for Privacy Loving Man; I also contemplated using PITA for Pain in the Ass, but I was feeling nice as I typed), is a fantastic, inventive cook and has marveled/teased/harassed me about my inability or unwillingness to cook. The message only took a year and a half or so to sink in, but recently I've had this weird desire to try to cook! I've always enjoyed baking, making desserts and sweets, however unless I'm working from a recipe, every non-dessert dish I make ends up tasting the same. I guess I tend to rely on the same spices w/o a recipe and as such, it doesn't matter if it's pork or chicken, same overall flavor...not very exciting. I'm not sure why I've steered clear of recipes (duh!), for the most part, until recently. People had always suggested that but I guess I embraced my status as a non-cook rather than making the effort and finding out that I was simply a bad cook. My other excuses (and these are just the tip of the iceberg): Reason #1 Ingredients spoil quickly when you're a single girl. Reason #2 I really enjoy eating in restaurants/ordering takout. Previously when people would ask me if I liked to cook, my stock response was "No, but I'm excellent at dialing the phone." Reason #3 I'm a creature of habit. I can (and have) eat the same dish every damn day without caring. For years, this has meant "pasta and peas." Every roommate I've had since college has known about pasta and peas. The recipe (it's not one I suggest you follow, but I'm sharing anyway): Boil pasta. Preferred shapes include cavatelli (frozen, if available) or tortellini. Next would be penne. Macaroni doesn't hold enough sauce. Defrost some of Mom's spaghetti sauce in the microwave. When she and my father visit from PA, I can always count on a fresh supply, delivered frozen in small tupperware containers carried in a refrigerated bag looking like an organ for transplant. Add peas. Toss cooked pasta with a bit of butter or olive oil, adding salt (seasoned, if available) and pepper (red pepper flakes work), some milk or cream (to create that imitation vodka sauce taste) and finally, the warmed up spaghetti sauce. When it's all mixed and hot, it's done. Add fresh parmesan or romano to taste. That dish got me through many weeks and years! But I know I can do better so it's time for change...
  16. Hilarious! There have been company-wide e-mails about this hire. Insane. The cold weather is making it hard to motivate, right hillvalley? I'm supposed to go to a birthday party at Cafe Saint Ex and perhaps dinner at Kuna prior, but...oh, the cold!! Hillvalley, for when you don't cook, what are your favorite cheap eats?
  17. Cheap eats in AM = tough. I really like Rumba, but it can be so crowded and the prices add up quickly (might be the influence of alcohol!). That said, here are a few to try: Mantis - the food (mostly small place, Asian-inspired) is pretty good and the cocktails are great. For food, I have enjoyed asparagus with black beans and garlic and the satay dishes. Reef - only if you can go early though (e.g, before 8). Inexpensive options, but portions are small (and I'm someone who is an advocate of reasonable not huge portion sizes). My favorite item there is the buffalo hangar steak. Slightly outside of the AM craziness - Mama Ayesha's isn't bad.
  18. Mmmm...bacon. Jenny BACON. And with wine? I'm sold.
  19. I too have looked for basil lately (wanted to make pesto in my new Cuisanart). No luck. I'm with you, hoping for snow. DC tends to shut down for anything more than an inch. As a Northerner, I think it's crazy, but as soon as I get done making fun of all of the wimps in DC, I begin enjoying the time indoors. My dinner can't compete with yours. Chipotle.
  20. That's cool. I'm going there tonight (AGAIN!!). I'm a little obsessive in my eating habits. I need to drown my sorrows in a Prosciutto White and a Rogue Dead Guy Ale: my rent is going up so I have to find a new apartment. Waaaaah!
  21. Thanks for clarifying. I tried to convey that things warmed up, but perhaps I was not clear.
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