Friday, September 25, 2009
After a whirlwind trip to Oregon and a busy week of work, I'm back. And right in time for my favorite season. Fall for me usually means good hair, cute coats, and cozy food. How can food be cozy, you ask? Well you know that's not what I mean. I'm talking about food that makes you feel cozy--things that are warm and comforting and full of carbs. Braised meats and rich pastas come to mind. We'll get into all of that as autumn wears on, but for now, I'd like to discuss a drink that pairs well with many of these dishes: Porter. And it just so happens that I have one to recommend, straight out of Oregon!
There's a place in Bend (a town I sadly haven't visited) called Deschutes Brewery and in my imagination, it is one of the happiest places on Earth. There, they brew handcrafted, seasonal beers with names like Twilight Ale and Buzzsaw Brown. Their flagship brand, though, is Black Butte Porter, a beer so good I had to force myself not to gulp my first one down. My uncle introduced me to BBP when I visited Oregon for the first time years ago, and I was anxious to try it again on this last recent trip. He poured one for me, ice-cold, into a big glass and immediately I decided to cherish this beer: It's dark but not heavy, vaguely chocolatey but not sweet, and just absolutely delicious. Thinking about it makes me want to pull one out of my refrigerator right now. Would 9:37 on a chilly morning be too early for a toasty brew? I bet it would compliment my Quaker Oats quite well...
For those of us on the east coast, the only downside to this story is that Black Butte Porter isn't available west of Colorado, and Deschutes doesn't ship. Of course, I kind of love this because it reminds me that the world can still be small. I hope to travel out there again soon to see my loved ones and drink my beloved beer. In the meantime, I'll savor the three bottles I managed to carry back with me in my suitcase. And I promise, I won't crack one open until 5:00 pm. Maybe.
PS: Stay tuned for more tales from Oregon and find out why grocery stores are more than just places for buying food.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Well, the ol' birthday rolls around again. Today marks the start of my 33rd year and my only wish is for everyone I love to be healthy, happy, and safe. Oh, and I also wish this dang rain would stop because I will be in heels tonight.
Anyway, I'm not a big present person but I have to tell you that I got the best one last night. When I arrived home, I found a rectangular package waiting for me in the storage room. "Borders" was typed across the front of it, so I knew it held something I could read--always a plus. Upstairs in my teeny kitchen I pulled off the wrapping paper and saw the cherubic face of little Frank Bruni beaming back at me. The note read: "Dear Cath, Happy Birthday! Love, Lawrence."
Lawrence is my oldest brother, and he is one of the most well-read and eloquent people I have ever met. He knows how excited I've been to read Born Round, so of course he bought it for me before I could buy it for myself. It's an absolutely wonderful birthday gift. Thank you, Law! I'll post a review after I finish it.
For now, it's time to walk to work and let go of the hope for good hair. Even though it's raining, today will be a nice day for me but it will be a hard one for so many others who remember the loved ones they lost on this morning in 2001. They should never be forgotten.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
To celebrate the arrival of my favorite month, I'd like to discuss my new favorite bean. Don't say I don't know how to party!
Anyway, the chickpea (also commonly known as the garbanzo bean) has been around for something like 7,000 years, but I just got into it about two weeks ago. I've had them before, but not until recently did I realize just how magical this little legume really is. It's loaded with protein and fiber, but despite its straight-A health food report card, the chickpea is easygoing, fun to cook, and above all delicious.
Currently, I'm using them in a brilliant salad recipe I found--where else?--on Serious Eats. The recipe calls for cooking the chickpeas in a skillet but I prefer roasting them at 350 degrees on a baking sheet with a little olive oil and salt for fifteen minutes. They sort of pop as they roast and they smell wonderful, like nutty popcorn. I like adding cooked shrimp to the salad but it's totally not necessary. Just make sure you use good feta.
The Italian word for chickpea is ceci. It's pronounced CHAY-chee, and when my friend Katherine and I were in Italy (buzzed on Negronis, naturally) we took every opportunity we could just to say the word. One particularly silly night, for some reason I can't recall now, I said to her "Pronto, Prego, Ceci!" and it became our slogan for the rest of the trip. As I said, it meant nothing, really, but now when I'm opening a can of them (I like Whole Foods 365 brand) I feel the urge to say it.
That's really neither here nor there, I know, but this is: Chickpeas also make a fantastic snack that you should try next time you're craving something crunchy. Roast them as directed above, but instead of taking them out of the oven after fifteen minutes, leave them in until they get hard and really dark brown, about thirty minutes or so. Then just toss them with more kosher salt (a sprinkle of chopped rosemary would probably also rock) and tell me that's not one amazing nosh.