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ms. victoria

eG Foodblog: ms. victoria - Tea for three

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In real time, I was passed the torch by balmagowry on Thursday, I believe. But with the schedule being off due to Stinger’s truncated blog, I got to ruminate on my fate for a few days. One would think this would give me plenty of time to think of a schedule of events and write a beautiful, sweeping introduction to my food life. One would be wrong. Mr. Victoria, hereafter known as Keifel, and I have been supremely lazy this weekend so far, aside from dragging the boychick, our son, off to the farmer’s market entirely too early for his liking yesterday. However, I will try to give a little background, since I haven’t gotten around to doing a bio post either.

I will try to shorten what could be a long story. My husband and I have been married two and half years, but we have only been living together for about two months. We met online four years ago, fell in love, decided to be rational creatures… oh, wait. Did I mention my husband is from Trinidad? And that he didn’t have a resident visa? Well, we fell in love. He got a work visa. He went to London on business. On his return, he discovered his papers were not in order. He was summarily deported in July 2001. Then September 11th happened. His employer withdrew her support of his work visa. We got married in January 2002 and started jumping through all the necessary hoops to get him here and lo and behold, he landed in Nashville in March and we have been disgustingly happy since.

How does this apply to the foodblog? Keifel doesn’t have a work permit yet, that hoop is still flaming. So, currently, I have the good fortune to have an amazingly devoted house husband, who drives me to work and the boychick to school and cleans and does a great deal of the cooking. So what goes on at ms. victoria’s over our week together with the foodblog will involve him and he has been kind enough to be both a good sport and help with pictures.

I have only been in Nashville since last November and am still learning the lay of the land. I quit my old job as an associate television producer to find my fortune (or at least follow my bliss) as a personal chef and a writer. I’ve applied to the culinary arts program at the local state school and am working as a temp at another university in the area. Until a month ago, I was also waiting tables but the current temp gig pays fairly well and I wanted my weekends back.

Generally, things are in flux, but the good kind. We are still kind of hitting our groove in the kitchen. I tend to be a haphazard cook as far as menu planning at home. I cook what I feel like eating or decide at 8 PM to make bread. We are getting more into a routine of sorts and I am learning meat cookery from my dedicated carnivore of a husband. (Until he got here I was either hardcore vegetarian or maybe eating fish, I have fallen off the veggie wagon and into the omnivore sidecar.)

For this week, I do have a little bit of a plan. We are going to have a Trini dinner at least one night and a Mexican dinner on Wednesday to honor Cinco de Mayo. Aside from that it will be catch as catch can and I will only be able to post photos from home in the evening.

I am now off to the kitchen to make French toast for breakfast before we go to church (UU if anyone is interested) and the Pottery Barn thereafter to shop for a teapot.

Our kitchen (a little messy, right after we moved in):

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It sounds like an exciting week for us food voyeurs! I can't wait!

Oh, and thanks for confirming all my previously-considered-completely-irrational fears about being refused entry for not having the right paperwork. Now I'll really be freaked out whenever I travel! (Although, it is nice to know I'm not the only one that doesn't have a work visa...)

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Jensen, it is a little scary, the visa thing, but we did manage it. It just took two and a half years(!).

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And now for Porky's revenge:

Breakfast started without a hitch. I am the only coffee drinker in the house, so I use a one-cup drip to make my morning caffeine dose.

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It works fairly well, except with the lovely cup the boychick made me for Christmas because the mouth is wider than the base on the filter holder and we lost the kettle in the move. That's why I am living dangerously using the saucepan.

Sufficiently hyped up on coffee, I proceeded on with breakfast: French toast a la Doris (my mom). As we are pinching our pennies until they scream in anguish, maple syrup of any quality is off the shopping list. I put on my dad's version of homemade pancake syrup (one cup white sugar, one cup brown sugar & one cup water; bring to a boil; lower heat; boil six minutes; add 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp maple extract with a little corn syrup to keep from crystalizing). At this point, things are going well.

I start the French toast, made with eggs we bought yesterday at the farmers' market.

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While the French toast is sizzling in the pan, Keifel begins the bacon in the microwave. I know, but it keeps the counters cleaner and our hood doesn't work very well at all (we are renting). When he checks the bacon at the first ding, we find the plate in the microwave under the bacon has messily cracked in two. I didn't want to risk another plate, so I offered to fry the bacon in the pan when the French toast was done.

Still, things are going fine. Until the very last piece of bacon goes in. The one I drop which then splashes very hot bacon fat on my front. I know the rules about not frying bacon in the nude, I will also add to my new rule book not frying bacon in your very thin pajama pants.

I stomp around a bit, burned by the grease (not badly) as much upset from it hurting as my own gracelessness. Keifel sends the boychick upstairs for toothpaste. Apparently, it's a Trini thing. Upon being slathered with minty fresh toothpaste the pain immediately stops and I am fine.

Keifel, beautiful human he is, agrees to finish frying the bacon and we sit down to breakfast. With our early morning excitement, we forgot to take a picture of the French toast until halfway through the meal.

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It was quite good, despite the flying grease and broken plate. We, however, did not make it to church, but after I shower off the toothpaste we are still going to the Pottery Barn to spend the gift card we got as a housewarming present. I broke the teapot in the move as well, so we are going to look for a replacement.

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Ouch ouch ouch I feel your pain - from the grease, I mean. But other than that I'm enthralled; glued to the blog!

May one ask, how old is the boychick?

The toothpaste is not exclusively a Trini thing; I've been using it for years, though not so much for pain as for things that itch, like mosquito bites (and mix in some meat tenderizer so the papain can work on the venom, especially if it's from jellyfish).

I love the shoji-like screen.

(BTW, in real time you got the torch when you got the torch, i.e. last night; anything before that was just negotiation and preparation. I don't know whether anyone ever refuses the torch, but it must be possible to do so. So a couple of days' warning is both a courtesy to the next blogger and a chance for the present blogger to secure the succession, as it were. Perhaps Soba - or previous bloggers - can tell us whether it's customary. I only know that Lucy gave me the heads-up two days beforehand, so I wanted to do the same for you.)

Hmmmm. Lucy was right about those Chee-tos.... :wink:

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What does "boychick" mean?

heh. I've been meaning to ask that one for a while now.

Nice photos, madame.

As for passing the torch, there are no pre-conceived rules: usually a PM to the next vic...er, blogger :wink: will suffice, along with a few days' notice.

Looking forward to this blog.

Regards,

Soba

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What does "boychick" mean?

heh. I've been meaning to ask that one for a while now.

Judging from the picture in your avatar, Soba, it might mean you! It's just an affectionate and/or approving diminutive. Sort of like "laddie," I guess. On hearing I was about to be married, I'll never forget the Orchard Street shopkeeper asking "and is he a nize boychikel?" - much the same as an auld Scots guidwife asking if he is "a douce laddie?"

You're both, aren't you...? :cool:

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Thanks for the empathy on the burn. The toothpaste seems to have worked and I am none the worse for wear.

Boychick is exactly as balmagowry suggests, an affectionate diminutive for our son. He's eight, going on 25 :wink:

We did make it to the Pottery Barn and picked out a lovely new teapot which I will post a picture of later.

I also made some pesto which we will have with gemelli for a very late lunch/early dinner when Keifel arises from his afternoon nap. Another supremely lazy day. For the most part I have been reading In the Devil's Garden.

Off to go throw some pasta in the water.

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I visited Nashville once (to try out for their Symphony), and one of the food-related things I remember doing during my visit was checking out the Farmers' Market in that park with the modern sculptures and stuff near the Statehouse. I remember buying sorghum syrup there (I think the farm it came from was in Owensboro, Kentucky) and finding it very pleasantly fragrant though not as great as maple syrup (but maple sugar is my favorite variety of sugar). Do you use sorghum much? It might be a cheaper and palatable alternative to maple syrup as long as maple syrup is an excessive luxury for you.

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I am so glad to have the blog move to Nashville. This is a great time of year for early veggies but too early for the really great tomatoes. Looking forward with baited breath for the next post. Thanks a million ms. victoria.

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I wonder if we rent from the same management company (you in Nashville, me in DC) as we seem to have the same kitchen floor, the exact same appliances, all of it!

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As a woman born in Nashville, I am thoroughly looking forward to this blog. :smile:

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Thank you for all the well wishes.

Pan: I haven't tried looking for sorghum, but that is a wonderful idea.

JennyUptown: The floor isn't quite as yellow as it looks in the photo, that would be an improvement on the dingy peach it is in person. I think the appliances are older than the duplex.

dlc: I did notice tomatoes at the farmers' market on Saturday. (We went to the smaller one in Franklin. ) I suspect they were hothouse tomatoes as they were too large to be early tomatoes. Hot house ones never taste right to me somehow.

bleudauvergne: I grew up in Kingston near Knoxville, so I am not too far afield. This spring has been really lovely. The dogwoods have already bloomed and dropped their blossoms but the irises are in full swing.

I did not get around to posting yesterday's early dinner. We finished watching Pride and Prejudice and the time got away from me. As I'm at work, I'll have to wait until this evening to post those.

As for breakfast this morning, it was breakfast for the house oversleepers. The boychick had toast with peanut butter and strawberry jelly. I made the bread yesterday in the bread machine. We try not to buy bread very often, though we do splurge occasionally. The bread machine makes decent enough whole wheat sandwich bread. I make more exciting things when I have time to do therapeutic baking.

I had a cup of homemade granola (oats, wheat germ, toasted coconut and pecans) and skim milk. I usually have it with plain yogurt, but we're out. Keifel has promised to bring me coffee by work later this morning as I didn't have time to make it or the boychick's lunch. Aside from that I have had three glasses of water and two Benedryl. I suspect I will be in a full-on antihistamine stupor by 9:00, just in time to be loopy for the staff meeting.

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I succumbed to the lure of the Swiss Miss. The coffee was late in coming, but has now arrived. Even though we are trying to swear off processed foods, the hot choclate looked better than the burnt acorn soup with non-dairy creamer (how is that not an oxymoron?) that passes for office coffee in these parts.

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Just returned from lunch. Keifel was going to make Trini stew pork for lunch, but he wound up on a very long business phone call. We opted for cheap eats at China Dragon on West End. Kun po chicken and chicken in sesame sauce with steamed rice and eggs rolls, $10.70. Everything is made to order and so far has been good, standard Americanized Chinese food.

Unfortunately, this was on the fly so no pictures. the place is a store front wedged in between a pizza parlor and a retail business of some sort. There are fourth booths that look like they were purchased at a McDonald's fire sale and a counter at the back behind which is a long galley kitchen of many burners with pots and flames and several people moving between stations with a runner picking up food for delivery. We were served on an orange cafeteria tray in the styrofoam to go cartons, plastic forks and prepaged soy. Sounds like a dive, looks like a dive, delivers good food.

We'll have the stew pork for dinner (and I'll take pictures).

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Any chance we might have some roti or curried goat this week?? Thanks for blogging! :raz:

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Keifel and I have been trying to figure the roti thing out. We don't have a tawa or a big enough griddle to make the thin flaky roti. So probably not this week but when we do get it figured out, I'll post. I'm also perking on doubles, how to get the barra right.

I'm not sure if there are local purveyors of goat; I'm not sure if I want there to be. I'm still readjusting to this meat thing and goat scares me more than a little. I know it's irrational but I'm not overly fond of lamb, even from my earlier meat eating days. That might be the connection.

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K I'm also perking on doubles, how to get the barra right.

What does this mean?

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Doubles are street food, usually breakfast. It's two barra, chickpea flour pancakes, piled on a square of wax paper then dosed with a chickpea slurry and one or more of several condiments including pepper sauce (which is seriously hot), cilantro sauce or cucumber. I got addicted when I went down there and I honestly have dreamt about them on more than one occasion.

We are trying to come up with a good recipe. Keifel swears if I learn to make them by Labor Day he's dragging me to New York for carnival as he's heard stories of people buying cold ones off street vendors for $1.50 (the equivalent in Trinidad would get you 5 or 6, way more than I could eat).

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Your husband must mean the West Indian festival, seriously good food and music. Could be a lot of fun! What is 'barra"?

P.S. Good Morning!

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As for dinner yesterday, we did have the stew pork. For stew pork, Keifel seasoned four pork cutlets in his kitchen cabinet marinade yesterday morning and let them sit in the fridge. Kitchen cabinet marinade usually consists of various herbs (oregano, rosemary, parsley, thyme, etc), Angostura bitters, hot peppers and maybe mustard. He heats up oil and washed gray sugar (that he brought with him from Trinidad) until the sugar starts to burn and adds the seasoned, cubed pork. After the pork browns (the sugar continues to darken as well) he adds a little water and covers.

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We usually have this with rice but we're out. We had leftover roasted potatoes and a honeymoon salad (lettuce alone) of the last of the greens we bought at the farmers' market on Saturday. (I will edit to add pictures when I get home, we are having some technical difficulties getting them to load to the mac homepage where they are stored.)

The boychick had a school program last night. After watching him and his classmates ham it up for an hour, we came home and had Mayfield's chocolate brownie fudge ice cream. Not my favorite, but we let the boychick pick it out as a treat.

Breakfast was again the breakfast of those who oversleep (do you see a theme here?). I had granola, a Benedryl and water. Keifel doesn't usually eat breakfast or if he does he has leftover chicken as a sandwich or other savories. The boychick had peanut butter and jelly toast and milk (also a theme). We did have time to pack his lunch this morning, saving him from the scary cafeteria food. He usually takes a PB&J, juice, string cheese and applesauce. Anything too far outside that and he won't eat it, though he is much better about trying different things at dinner now.

I have no idea what we're going to have for lunch. Keifel usually handles that and I didn't ask him when I called to check on the status of the pictures.


Edited by ms. victoria (log)

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Hathor, I do think that is what he means. The barra are the chickpea pancakes that make the doubles, well, doubles as the chickpea dhall (Trini spelling) is served on two of the barra.

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As for dinner yesterday, we did have the stew pork. For stew pork, Keifel seasoned four pork cutlets in his kitchen cabinet marinade yesterday morning and let them sit in the fridge. Kitchen cabinet marinade usually consists of various herbs (oregano, rosemary, parsley, thyme, etc), Angostura bitters, hot peppers and maybe mustard. He heats up oil and washed gray sugar (that he brought with him from Trinidad) until the sugar starts to burn and adds the seasoned, cubed pork.

Aha! Angostura Bitters! I have been studying up lately on culinary uses of same; have acquired all those marvelous pamphlets they published in the 30s, etc. Would love to hear more about this from the horse's mouth, as it were....

Kitchen cabinet sounds a little like kitchen sink, only more dignified. :biggrin:

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balmagowry, I have a cookbook that Keifel bought me in Port of Spain published by Angostura. It has everything from cocktails to desserts. Apparently, it's very good over vanilla ice cream but I haven't sampled that for myself.

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Lunch turned out better than I thought it would. We really need to go to the grocery and I assumed that lunch was going to be either an odd pastiche of leftovers or a repeat of breakfast. Keifel, instead bought a roasted chicken (they are usually the special on Tuesday at the Harris Teeter near us).

We had improptu roasted chicken sandwiches with whole grain mustard and cranberry chutney on poppyseed rolls cleverly disguised as bagels. I hesitate to call them bagels as there is nothing remotely chewy about them. They taste good and they make good sandwiches, except I have to slice them in threes to get them in our teeny toaster.

I probably should have mentioned that I live close enough to work that I get to go home for lunch. I'm spoiled rotten, enough so that I am only seriously looking at jobs that would keep me in this part of town after my temp gig ends.

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