Tag Archives: fo’ real??

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.)

Feral Cats: Head for the Hills

There is a herd of wild cats that runs a decrepit secret garden in a synagogue down the street (with the aid of some Fancy-Feast-buying guerilla operatives). Find out the backstory here.

I spoke with my new friend, James Collins, the Superintendent of our Sanitation District, and he did some detective work to track down the owner of the synagogue.

James’s call to the owner came during the Jewish high holidays, but Mr. Synagogue promised him that the secret garden will be cleaned out by September 27.

On the 28, I have instructions to case the joint (from a legal vantage point) and report back. Should the cats and their henchpeople still be in charge, I get to push the big red button and James Collins will start summonsing Mr. Synagogue.

We’ll see what really happens, but in the meantime, enjoy your last days of despotism, Cats.

Community Activist v. Hegemony of Feral Cats

I’m meeting the head of our sanitation district. Turns out, if you call NYC’s information hotline 311 and ask the right questions, you can get almost anyone’s number.

There’s an abandoned lot a block down that was once a beautiful secret garden. It must have been: hydrangea grows there between the black bags of trash, and hydrangea doesn’t grow wild in the Bronx.

The secret garden is a hotbed of  broken glass, dog poop, empty wrappers, and Fancy Feast cans left for the feral cats. Every time I come home, shaking off the insanity of the subway, carrying 20 pounds of baby, I wade through the trash pit. If there’s a breeze, the foil wrappers fly up like stinking confetti. I stomp past, growling Who owns this? We LIVE here. Doesn’t anyone care?? Haven’t you read Malcolm Gladwell? Anyone, anyone?? No. Cool, just keep chopping down that sidewalk tree for your Voodoo ritual, then.

The buildings around are generally well-kept. There’s a church that sells cake on Saturdays; there’s an apartment building with domino players out front. But the secret garden is total anarchy, where cats govern on broken plastic chairs. By the time I reach my building, I’m ready to stomp on a kitten or rip up someone else’s mail.

So I’ve been doing some neighborhood fact-finding, and it turns out, the secret garden is actually the back lot of a synagogue. If you are between sixty and seventy and grew up along the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, you’re probably saying, “I know that synagogue. That’s where Danny and his brother used to go. We lived up on 171st. Do you remember when our sister, Bridgit, started going with Danny’s little brother?”

I know this, because I’ve met a lot of you. You also live on Long Island now, or possibly New Jersey. In the time since your sister dated Danny’s little brother (which did not go well), the synagogue has gone to hell in a hand basket. The plaster around the menorah is falling down. No one goes there any more and it’s for sale.

Well, Long-Islanders, do you remember who owned the synagogue? Because I need to find him. He clearly doesn’t observe the Sabbath in the Bronx anymore. In the meantime, I’m meeting with James Collins: Superintendent of our sanitation district. Mr. Collins lives on Staten Island, where he “doesn’t have to deal with this kind of thing.” (Staten Islanders are probably just dealing with Angelina from Jersey Shore. Which does not entirely excuse them from the trash scene….)

But Mr. Collins is more than happy to help us out. Apparently, the Sanitation Department can get a permit to cut through the chain link fence and clean up the cat republic at the owner’s expense. I would like to drive the backhoe that pushes through the fence. I think K-Pants would enjoy that.

15 Minutes of Total Insanity at the Children’s Museum

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) is generally fantastic. But on a rainy day—and we’ve had a few lately—children and their parents and nannies pour in to it like rats into a garbage bag of chicken bones. Still, K-Pants and I headed down to CMOM on a recent wet day to avoid the mental atrophy that comes with being in the apartment for more than eight hours straight.

It had been raining since the morning, and—indeed—inside kids were picking the place apart piece-by-piece, ball-by-ball. We went straight up to the ball pit, hoping to find a spot to play. Though almost all the 500 balls had been ferreted off, there were no gangs of Big Kids ready to stomp on little fingers or use babies as cushions. Perfect! Go play, Mr. Pants! I will find you some more balls.

I like this kind of mundane task. I imagine God, the Menial Task Master, saying, “Evelyn, it will please me if you find the balls in all the corners of this place and put them back in the ball bin.” I, ever obedient, say, “Yes! Of course, God. I will do it!”

So it was in this frame of mind that I was buzzing from spot to spot, gathering balls and putting them back in the ball bin, when I cut off a woman and her son on their way to the Peek-a-Boo Machine.

She was wiry, with blonde, stringy hair; and in her mind, this was no accident. As I looked up at her, balls in arms, she unleashed the laser death-beams from her eyes and sawed me in half. I tried to whisper, “Sorry,” as my two halves fell to the floor, children screaming, balls rolling everywhere….

I did say, “Sorry!” But Real Me was still intact, and used its whole self to take this plumber’s crack revenge photo. Eurotrash.