Tag Archives: cooking

When Mana Shim of the Portland Thorns Came Over to Make Salad and I Force-fed Her Gazpacho

So this funny thing happened.

I got a direct Twitter message last August from @meleanashim: “Will you teach me how to cook?! :)”

I’m not kidding! Look! It really happened!

Mana Twitter. MomsicleBlog

You know who Meleana Shim is…. (Hint: She’s a midfielder for the Portland Thorns who scored five goals last year, and she mostly goes by Mana.) Here she is, being force-fed gazpacho.

Meleana Shim eats gazpacho. MomsicleBlog

(If you don’t know who the Portland Thorns are, then go educate yourself here and here, because I’m not going to tell you everything a person like yourself, who is smart and delightful and progressive, should already know.)

 

I love the Thorns, and I’m gullible, and I have a lot of enthusiasm for cooking.  So after receiving this Twitter message, I jumped out of my seat and thought:

Maybe someone hacked Mana Shim’s account and is playing a cruel joke on me. Who could it be? Family? Angry birds? Baby Woww? (He’s strangely brilliant–like all two year olds–with technology.) 

And then I thought:

She used an exclamation point AND a smiley face: We are TOTALLY going to get along!! 

(I abuse the exclamation point and smiley face to the point that they practically hang around my head in a perpetual cloud of amped-up emotion.)

@evelynshoop @meleanashim. MomsicleBlog

Sometimes my life is a surrealist painting, and this happy interaction was adding some new melting clocks to the scene.

There are a lot of Portland chefs and home cooks whose ninja skills in the kitchen far exceed my culinary belt color, not to mention their being überhip. So I remained skeptical, and tried to be open about my kitchen landscape.

@evelynshoop @meleanashim. MomsicleBlogI hit myself over the head for using wild twice in a row. But Mana didn’t seem fazed.

@evelynshoop @meleanashim. MomsicleBlog

It was probably because I’d replied to a tweet of hers. Mana was profiled at the last home game and I looked her up afterwards and started following her.

Here I am at the game. (Thanks for the photo, Dad.)

Portland Thorns. MomsicleBlog

I came to love the Thorns not because I’m obsessed with the beautiful game, but because of being a confident, nerdy kid who always felt like women could do anything men could do. Then I went to Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, and the equality sword got sharpened to a fine point. And then I married my husband who rekindled my love of sports, and we now have our two preschool-age boys, who also love sports, and we watch a lot of ESPN, which seems to constantly hedge its bets on whether women’s sports are really a thing.

When I saw the Thorns’ motto, “She Flies With Her Own Wings,” and felt how the crowd went crazy for the team, I was in love. THIS was how women’s sports should be supported. [Editor’s note: Mike, down in the comments, woke me up to the fact that this is also Oregon’s state motto. Way to go, home state! You are more awesome than I thought, if that’s possible.]

She Flies With Her Own Wings. MomsicleBlog

So Mana and I arranged to talk on the phone, and I cyber-stalked her so that I would have a few questions I could lob to see if she was the real Meleana Shim. Like, what’s the mascot of Kamehameha High School?

In the end I went with, “So you got a yellow card in yesterday’s game?”

“Ha! Yeah! It was such a stupid one.” And then she said something else about the yellow card that I don’t remember, but made her seem like a legitimate soccer player and not one of my family members.

Bro. MomsicleBlog

[Family member, not Mana.]

Mana and I set up a time to meet at my house.

And I started sharpening my knives–what any chef or serial killer would do.

Mana said she didn’t really cook, but she did own a Vitamix, which made me jealous: Our 1995 Hamilton Beach blender had about 300,000 miles on it and smoked a little every time we used it.

Being summer, I thought we would make panzanella, the Italian bread salad that I had learned thanks to Barefoot Contessa. I had grand plans for a three-course meal in my mind, but if Mana really didn’t cook that much, learning some knife skills on willing vegetables and making homemade vinaigrette and croutons would be impressive enough… I hoped.

Homemade Croutons Prep. MomsicleBlog

Plus I’m very chatty when excited, so getting just one dish done could be a challenge.

I was nervous. Would she like me? Would she really show up?

My husband was nervous. I was giving out our home address to people we’d never met, who may or may not be real soccer players.

And Mana, well she probably should have been the most nervous. She was showing up to a house in a labyrinthine neighborhood where none of her teammates would be able to find her, meeting a woman who was sharpening butcher knives. Hopefully she wasn’t going to be chopped up into bits and buried in our backyard.

But she came! And she was a real girl not a tweetbot or a psychopath!

Mana Cooks With Evelyn. MomsicleBlog

And we had wine and made panzanella and chopped up bread for croutons. And we sort of spun around the kitchen with clouds of amped-up emotion hanging over our heads.

And then I made her try everything in my fridge. Right after Mana said she hated Bloody Mary’s, I made her eat my gazpacho–the cold-tomato-soup cousin of the Bloody Mary.

Meleana Shim Eats Gazpacho. MomsicleBlog

I think I won her over. I mean, my gazpacho is silky and delicious, and we topped it with prosciutto, chopped tomato and cucumber, and hard-boiled egg.

So that’s the story morning glory.

Epilogue 

Mana came back for more cooking.

Mana Cooks With K-Pants And Bro. MomsicleBlog

And she invited me to visit her in Hawaii. Although I think I really invited myself.

Mana Evelyn Hawaii. MomsicleBlog

 

***

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In the Fast Lane with Barefoot Contessa

I’m watching Barefoot Contessa. I love her. I want to be a Girl Who Grills just like her. I want to have lunches with my gay friends while my husband’s at work just like her.

Today, she’s “cooking in the fast lane,” which, if you’ve seen Barefoot, is really a relaxed amble.

But hey, with a one year old, I’m always cooking in the fast lane, so I’m game and willing to give Barefoot the benefit of the doubt. She’s making a quick dinner for company, and she says: “You can find all the ingredients in any grocery store.”

Have you seen my FoodTown, Barefoot? You’re on! Let’s do this!

First, roasted broccoli with garlic and Parmesan. FoodTown recently started stocking Parmesan. It’s waxy, but I’m sure it melts eventually.

Next, fingerling potatoes with dill. Yes! They have weird-shaped potatoes.

And for the main dish: red snapper, available fresh at the fish counter. Whoa, whoa, Barefoot! FoodTown doesn’t have a George-Clooney-fishmonger named Dave like you do. But ground turkey and chicken hearts are on sale…

And for dessert: fresh berries with raspberry sauce and fromage blanc.

Sometimes I realize Barefoot has spent a little too much time in the Hamptons. She insists any grocery store will have fromage blanc: “It’s really become more common.” Really? Does Goya make it? Then FoodTown doesn’t stock it.

If I can’t find fromage blanc at my grocery store, she says, any specialty shop will have it. Tied down by a stroller and a budget, my specialty stores are the corner bodegas, but I’m not a big fan of their “specialties.”

I suddenly realize why my mom never used a recipe until I was thirteen. You start off with something lovely in mind: roasted broccoli, potatoes, red snapper, and raspberries; but you quickly realize your pantry is low, your grocery story doesn’t have everything you need, and your child is opening all the cabinets in the living room with a glue stick in his mouth.

Presto! Change of plans. All the ingredients you can find are frying up in the same pan with some garlic and olive oil.

As Barefoot would say: “How easy is that?”

(If you have a little time and a good specialty shop, then look up Barefoot’s Cooking in the Fast Lane recipes here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/barefoot-contessa/index.html.)

The Child Rearing Books

Here is a direct quote from Baby and Child Rearing, by Dr. Spock and his modern-day editor, on how much wine you can have while breastfeeding:

“A nursing mother who drinks a glass or two of wine or beer a day will not harm her baby. But the first months of having a new baby are stressful, and a new mother might easily decide to have one drink to relax, then another, and another…”

Ummm…Dr. Spock, I think I asked for the facts, not your personal opinion. And now that you’re waving your freak flag, you might have the decency to offer a solution for the new mom’s descent into alcoholism. Like, how do I scrape myself off the hallway rug at the end of the day to make dinner and feed the baby? Or should I just have one more glass?

No one seems to write the really practical tips. So here’s a little context and how-to for your responsible imbibing. I recommend printing these tips and inserting them into page 252 of Baby and Child Rearing.

  1. When you arrive home, pour yourself a glass of wine. You may want another, but instead…
  2. Go directly to the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Any Trader Joe’s frozen meal can be cooked at this temperature.
  3. Proceed to the bed, throw off your shirt, and fling your boobs at the baby.
  4. Done nursing? Perfect, the oven’s preheated!
  5. Choose a menu item: Trader Giotto’s mushroom pizza? Trader Jose’s chicken enchiladas? Trader-whoever-the-Japanese-guy-is tempura shrimp? You pick!
  6. Rip open the packaging with your teeth, and throw it on the pan. Last night’s pan should be on the stove top. No need to wash it: last night’s crumbs will burn off in the oven.
  7. Place the baby in a high chair. A Lazy Boy will work just fine. Make a big fuss about how delicious the rice gruel and squash puree are, as you feed them to the baby. Pour yourself another glass of wine.
  8. Bingo! The pizza/enchiladas/shrimp is done!
  9. Enjoy your meal in a bowl that your husband/partner can also use when s/he gets home.

NOTE: If, when you walk in the door, you are slammed in the face by the reeking stench of last night’s chicken’s packaging and juices shouting “Hellooooo!” from the trash can, then replace Step 1 with: “Spray liberal amounts of lavender aroma in the direction of the trash, and pour a very big glass of wine.”