Tag Archives: kitchen

What I Would Never Do


Cook on a talk show. Do they EVER have time to actually cook something? No. No, they don’t.

The cooking person’s job is to cook. The host’s job is to be clever. The producer’s job is to shut both of them down in 10 minutes or less. Usually less. That is not a winning combination for cooking anything except a bologne sandwich, so don’t go out there and try to make goat cheese and herb-stuffed chicken breasts. You’re asking for trouble. And salmonella. Let it go. It’s not going to happen.

I learned this in 7th grade when I had to give a demonstration speech in five minutes and tried to make flan. Flan, people. You can’t do it. And no one in 7th grade likes flan anyway. Which kind of turned out in my favor re: flan eating, but that’s not the point. The point is public speaking and cooking don’t mix.

So just give it up. Leave it. Make a nice Cobb salad and go home. No one’s copying down your recipe anyway. And if they were, it’d be a huge mess because you’re going too fast and skipping stuff. Be flirty or dynamic or whatever your thing is, crumble some bacon on top (or tofu chunkies or bird seed or whatever, if you’re veg) and call it a day.

Kitchen Recommendation


Here’s what you should do today. It’s a little “help the planet” plan that will also mean kicking high maintenance water to the curb. And it doesn’t involve hemp or Al Gore or wiccan rituals or weaving anything.

Get yourself some polished Japanese charcoal briquettes to replace your Brita water filter.

See? Easy.

As long as you can find the briquettes that is, which might take some legwork.

If you need some convincing (and I have to say that that hurts me a little bit – I thought we knew each other and you trusted me by now…), here’s why:

  1. Brita tastes funny. Compared to tap water, maybe it tastes better, but it’s still not the tasteless water you’re looking for. Charcoal filtered water tastes like nothing.
  2. It’s waaaay cheaper than Brita. I pay $5 for four briquettes, each of which lasts for about four months. You pay $6 each for Brita replacement filters.
  3. You don’t need no stinkin’ pitcher. Put your little briquette in a multi-colored bucket for all it cares.

In San Francisco, you can pick up a four-pack at Boulettes Larder in the Ferry Building. If you want to really invest and can’t part with your pitcher habit, you can support Design Within Reach and get theirs. I’m going to do some checking around for you to see if Whole Foods or someplace national carries it as well. (If you want to order from Boulettes Larder, you can go here, but be warned: it’s fax-based.)

What I’m Glad I Bought

Old news: I left my corporate job at Williams-Sonoma, Inc.. New news: what did I buy on my way out that I do not regret and will not be returning? I know you’re so excited to find out that it’s getting hard to breathe. I know – it’s super exciting isn’t it?

Before we get to that though, let me set things up for you. Due to my (former) employment by a leading purveyor of overpriced, high-end cookware and related tools, our kitchen is stocked with food preparation equipment that no couple with our skills has any business having. R mentions this often.

I do not enjoy cooking. You spend an hour or more in the kitchen producing something that will then be consumed. How is that relaxing, to see your creation getting all chewed up? I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy munching up food other people have created. I’m just saying I don’t get anything out of prepping it myself.

This state of affairs has made for some interesting conflicts with R, as he’s the one who cooks and I’m the one who buys the cooking stuff. It seems like a charming, if illogical division of labor, no? (Just to be clear, I do the cleaning. It’s all fair and square, so just calm down.)

I purchased a ton of stuff on the way out the WSI door. Here’s what’s staying:

  • Calphalon One frying pans. Ooo, baby, are these nice. I love them. I, who would willingly use a whisk as a pastry blender, notice the difference. These are some kick-ass frying pans and you should register for them if you’re getting married or buy them the next time you’re in need of a new set (or just one). Screw Circulon and all the rest of the them. These are totally non-stick and hard as nails. (If you go into one of the Wm-Sonoma stores, they might still have one of the sets of an 8″ pan + a 10″ pan for $70. N/A on the site.)
  • Primo Milk Frother. $20 well-spent, my friend. I am not a coffee snob, but years of shelling out $2.15 to Starbucks for my cafe au lait (which they insist on calling a “misto” for reasons not understood by me) has spoiled me for drinking coffeemaker coffee with cold milk in it. I am not going to invest in an espresso machine just to get steamed milk. Primo is my answer. Milk in mug, froth, microwave, add coffee, done. Just make sure you submerge the frother ring before turning it on. Trust me.
  • Microplane Graters. Grating cheese with these (we have the medium one for hard cheese and the rasp for citrus) is like swimming with floaties. You never knew you could have it so good. Kick your collegiate box grater to the curb with that hippie wall hanging you scored that weekend in Michigan at the truck stop and move on already.

Kitchen Update III

challenge_butter.gifI look in the fridge for butter for my English muffin. This is what’s there: Challenge Butter. A nice rectangular box of butter sticks emblazoned with a throwdown of a name and what looks like a very irritated buck.

Seriously, people? Really? Now? In my last week on the job? With everything shifting, my dairy products are bringing it?

What’s with the attitude, deer? You’ve got a nice view, a calming view, a lake, mountains. What’s up? Anger management issues? Someone cut you off at the salt lick? Or is this just who you are? Seeing red for no reason? Yeah, that’s what I thought. You’re just itching for some action.

You know me: I can’t walk away from a fight. I’ll take you down, I swear I will. Don’t push me. Put down that broken bottle and let’s take this outside and settle it like…a girl and a ruminate.

I have left the building (almost)

The countdown to departure from my job has begun in earnest. On Thursday evening the light at the end of the tunnel flared enough so I could see it. I think it was because my computer’s hard drive was thrown on the burning pyre.

The drive crashed Thursday morning and I spent two of my remaining six days at Williams Sonoma, Inc., recovering files and rebuilding a machine I will use for four days before returning it to the company stockpile from whence it so recently came. That crash was the last of the last straws, and it pushed me beyond the village of strain where I’d set up camp, shrugging into the land of What Are You Gonna Do?

Now all that’s left is buying the rest of the goods we so urgently need for our kitchen at 40% off. This is driving R bananas. He contends that not only do we need nothing else but we should consider returning some of the things we already have. He is clearly wrong.

What home does not need a Pineapple Easy Slicer? R maintains that the ratio of “pineapples consumed in our apartment” to “space consumed in our apartment by said Easy Slicer” is out of whack. I maintain that the Easy Slicer made its value apparent on the very first demo pineapple and it should not be required to reestablish that value on a regular basis. How would you like it if you were reevaluated every couple of weeks on your utility-to-space ratio when your ability to do your job had not apparently diminished? So what if you were not actually required to do your job in that time frame? You still could do your job if asked. That’s all I’m saying.

The item I will be most certain but sad to leave behind unpurchased is the Electric Vacuum Marinator. That’s right. You heard me. The Electric Vacuum Marinator. It does exactly what its name suggests: “Just press a button, and the marinator creates a powerful vacuum seal (no pumping required) that stretches and opens fibers. This draws the marinade juices deep inside the food for maximum flavor and tenderness.”

The “no pumping required” note still baffles me after 2+ years with the company. Was this product preceded by the Hand Pump Vacuum Marinator? Or is it a reference to other vacuum products requiring pumping? My vacuum cleaner is not hand crank, is yours? I guess the Swedish penis enlargement pump works on the same principle, but that can’t be what they’re referencing, can it?

At first, I thought, “If you have time to discover the EVM, earn the $200 to buy it, learn how to use it, use it and then clean it, you probably have time to marinate meat in a Ziploc as God intended.” But then I thought, “Who am I to stand in the way of progress? This is a wondrous application of modern vacuuming / pumping technology to a problem no one knew they had! What’s not to love?”

Even if R would let me buy it for our home – which he won’t – I almost certainly would not use it for its intended purpose. I would put cheese and olives and hard drives and other things that don’t need marinating in it, just to see what would happen and no doubt it would be broken in a weekend, so he’s probably right to veto it, but it’s still a sad loss for our crowded cupboards.

So I will live on without my beloved, intriguingly useless and surprisingly compelling Electric Vacuum Marinator. Farewell! Adieu! I’ll be over here with my unmarinated but smoothly cored pineapple.

Kitchen Update II

pineapple_slicer.jpgIn other news, everyone should have a Pineapple Easy Slicer. If you are a pineapple fan, you will love this thing: it cores, cuts rings and slices off the outside prickly bits, all at once. If you are not a pineapple fan, you should get one of these and it will win you over to pineapple through its sheer engineering genius.

Kitchen Update

This housecleaner chick is killing me. I had to make cookies the other day and couldn’t find the cookie sheets. Anywhere. How the hell do you hide a cookie sheet in a studio apartment? They’re flat, I grant you, but they’re big. They’re wide. There are only so many shelves, cupboards and areas under things that will hold a cookie sheet. She is making me crazy. Every second Monday (or Tuesday, depending on her whim), I come home braced for what she’s done this time. Like make the bed with the sheets untucked and all on the left. Vacuum only one side of a room. Leave the back door open.

Leaving anything clean in the dishwasher or dish drainer is like shark bait. It’s just an opening for her to demonstrate her full potential, like giving a box of crayons to a kid with a white wall in front of her. Sometimes I think she must have a system – like the first thing she picks up from the dish drainer goes in the silverware drawer, the second thing in the drawer below it and so on around the kitchen – but I may be giving her too much credit. If it weren’t so infuriating, it’d be fascinating. She may have finally rounded the bend on making me insane and is moving into the territory of being impressive. I might have to get a nanny cam to catch the action.