Posts tagged Food

Things that are about Rick Bayless

I might be about to make my national television debut.

In the past five or ten years, several of my coworkers have increasingly fallen in love with the cooking of Rick Bayless.  One particular coworker, who is Mexican herself and has oo’ed and ah’ed with her mom over Rick’s fantastic Mexican cooking since the days when he was on PBS, is bordering on an all-out love affair with the man.  Who she, naturally, has never met.

Rick is fairly well-known in the Chicago area, but lately with the burgeoning popularity of shows like Iron Chef and Top Chef Masters, Rick has apparently become quite a household name.

I say apparently because, well, I haven’t ever watched a cooking show.  Well, no, that’s not completely true – I used to watch The Frugal Gourmet on PBS back when it was on in between Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.  (It took me until I was about 13, by the way, to realize the phrase “Frugal Gourmet” wasn’t one gibberish word and had actual meaning.)  Despite my own inadequacies relating to cooking-show-spectating, the multitude of hubbub about Rick which has come about especially since Top Chef Masters leads me to believe he is bordering on all-out fame.

Fast forward to a semi-work outing for lunch at Frontera, when my coworkers and I were devouring our food (yes, it really is that good), when we notice a camera in the kitchen following the preparation of one dish.  Several yummy-noise filled minutes later (awkward adjective/noun there but deal with it), we looked back and saw… the camera pointed at us.

Apparently we were enjoying our food so much so that whatever film crew this was decided to tape us.

My friends decided the presence of cameras means that Rick will win Top Chef.  I decided it means I’m going to be famous for my yummy noises.


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Things that are happy

My roommate and I apparently officially have a nickname at Subway.

Last week we had one of our semi-weekly dinner dates at the Subway near our house.  It’s about a 10 minute walk over, and is usually a nice break  for my roommate from being a walking, talking, full-on Study Nerd, and the break in the evening often results in lots of nonsensical chatter and general joviality.

I mean, we’re outside… we’re walking… we’re enjoying each other’s company… we’re about to treat ourselves and consume utter deliciousness that we didn’t prepare ourselves.  What’s not to like? It’s basically one of the best parts of my week.

We continue our goofy sarcastic banter as we walk into Subway, and begin to order our sandwiches when one of the sandwich-maker-guys notes, “Wow. You two are really happy, aren’t you?”

Naturally, we look at one another and laugh, because, well, we, um, laugh a lot around each other. I should interject here that I have a vivid memory of the first week I met my roommate where we were racing down a slippery mountain in pouring rain and soupy fog, wearing rain pants and hiking boots, falling every twenty feet, and laughing hysterically while doing so.  Apparently we convinced people we had ADHD.  And this sums up fairly well our relationship with each other. Also, we do things like this.

We’re not super-cool dorks at all.

Fast forward a week later, and it’s time for Subway again.

We walk into Subway, say “Hi!” and are immediately greeted by the same guy who notes, “Oh. You’re those happy girls, aren’t you?”

So this guy has probably served several hundred people by now, and yet, he is still able identify us as “The Happy Girls,” from one word we say.

When we walked out, he told the Happy Girls to come back and visit them again.

Hee, we have a collective nickname.

At first I was thinking maybe we should work on being morose when we go on our Subway date nights, but on second thought, I’m a total dork, so… no.

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A bit of hypocrisy to commemorate Earth Day

As previously stated, I have the pridenaypleasure of working for an environmental consulting firm.

Without getting into the dull details of what working at an “environmental consulting firm” actually entails, I’ll just clarify and say it means we do a lot of work with making sure people meet the lowest standards of environmental cleanliness.  None of this “activism” shit.

Anywho, despite this, the company is quite proud of its environmental stewardship, and actually does an increasingly proficient job of attempting to be “environmentally-yay”.  We collect rain water to reuse, compost food scraps, recycle up to 80% of all waste, and recently had 40 solar panels installed on the roof.  Overall, we do a fairly good job at the whole Earth-conscious thing for a mid-sized company.

Despite this, there still remains a few glaringly environmentally hypocritical aspects about our business, i.e. that our president prints out every. single. email. he receives (granted, on scrap paper, and sometimes 2 to a page).  Mind you, we email him all of his phone messages and Microsoft Inbox automatically saves your emails – inbox, sent, deleted – and you can search within your folders.

However, my favorite Walk-the-Walk: Fail occurs in the kitchen.  Again, as previously stated in past entries, I’m lucky enough to work at a company where lunch is provided several times a week.  The aspect that bugs me about this, though, is that despite the fact that we have about 30 plates sitting in our cabinets, nearly every. single. person. uses PAPER PLATES.

YAY Environmental Fail

YAY Environmental Fail

Recently, I made a comment to a coworker about how this bothered me (Okay,  fine, the comment was, “NO! Use a real plate, dammit!”), and she told me that her reasoning for using a paper plate is that she doesn’t have a dishwasher at home, and has to do dishes at night and would prefer to just throw out her lunch plate since she can.

The president of the company told me he rinses off his paper plate and then recycles it, because it takes less time to wash than a regular dish and then has the benefit of being recycled.

Now, granted, we don’t have a dishwasher.  I know it is far more efficient to wash dishes in a machine than by hand.  But, honestly?  Isn’t NOT using an object in the first time better than recycling it?  And, yes, I understand the idea of washing takes energy, but before you start chucking out every plate you own, imagine the energy which goes into collecting, transporting, recycling, drenching, cleaning, and bleaching the product before it’s turned into something else.  Then you have to turn it into pulp, and remake it into another product… before collecting and transporting it yet again.

I understand recycling is good… as an alternative to throwing things out.  But generally, if you have the choice to not necessitate us taking even more from the earth?

Um. My way of not using shit in the first place wins.

So, in observance of Earth Day, let’s stand back and take a moment to breathe in the glory of Environmental Stewardship Hypocrisy 101.



And I shall now step down off my self-righteous platform of sanctimonious indignation.

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How to save money during a recession

I think I’ve come up with a brilliant way to save money during this fiscal recession that seems to be going around:  I’ve stopped buying food.

I counted back the other day and figured out that I haven’t bought food for over a month.

Now, mind you, I currently have a(n albeit lowpaying) job, and I am doing my best to spend money without blowing my own finances completely. I’ve booked travel vacations, bought books, and even purchased a couple of CDs for the first time in years. After a year of living off $80/month, I’m spending money like it’s going out of business!!

Yet… I still need to pay rent.

So my solution?  I’ve stopped buying food.  My [ir]rationale is that during financial times like this, everyone is basically spending all of their money on food, so I’ll use my meager earnings to pimp up the rest of the industries.

So how do I manage this altruistic feat?

Well… alright, fine, it’s not completely my own brilliance.  I happen to have a sweet job where I get free food sometimes. Okay, a lot.  As in, the boss often cooks lunch for the 20-30 employees several times a week.

But looking back on my employment history I realized that the 3 legitimate jobs I’ve held have all provided me with occasional to frequent means of free food (none being in the food industry, though).  But I also realized that not everyone has always taken advantage of these freebies. Which might be because ‘free food’ often translates to ‘not-so-much-healthy-or-delicious-food’   Apparently, my freeness radar (read: “inherent stinginess”) means that I have a low tolerance for what I accept as ‘food’.  You’ve just gotta get rid of that “picky” aspect.

Lesson:  You wanna save money?  Take advantage of the free food out there. Seriously, there’s way more than you’d think. Imagine the thousands you’ll save.

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How to be a bad ass worker

Dear Woman Working at McDonalds in Logan Intl Airport:

I just would like to tell you that you made my morning.  It was 6am, and you’d been at work for 5 hours already serving greasy food and gross (albeit organic – sidenote: jiggaquestionmark?) coffee to grumpy passengers. Even though you were tired, you were peppy and happy and talkative with the customers.  Seriously. Way to be totally bad ass at 6am.  So, just… you know, thanks. And stuff.  ‘Cuz that extra mile stuff does count.  Four cool points to you.

Muchos love,

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Whole Foods

Books make me laugh. And think. And eat.  Lately I’ve been reading a book about food we eat and food we should eat, which does all three, which is pretty fantastic for a book.  As good books probably should, it has at least momentarily altered the way I think about food, and reminded me of the common sense mantra of what healthy, organic, food/plant based diets we should have. Blah blah blah.

Flash forward to today when I needed to pick up some apples and figured that a) Whole Foods is closer than Jewel  and b) if I was going for fresh produce, that was probably the better store to choose, due to my brain being warped by said above literary installment’s arguments.

Whole Foods cracks me up.  Because, yes, the food is mostly organic/ natural/ made of hemp by cloistered Swiss nuns, but the products also are naturally more expensive  (Yes, I am aware of the social and political justice reasons for this THANK YOU JESUIT BRAINWASHING GEESH).  Therefore, I find walking into the Whole Foods in Lakeview an activity in an ironic hilarity. Case in point – behind me in the check-out line were (I kid you not): a bike messenger bag-wearing/bandanna-clad woman with braided red pigtails down to her bum, a stereotypically exhausted-looking Lincoln Park soccer mom with a his-and-hers children set, and a talldarkandhandsome man in a coal grey suit (Dude? It’s SATURDAY).  And everyone is naturally carrying their own reusable grocery bags.

I mean, really, how can you criticize Whole Foods?  It’s brought the Organic movement into the mainstream, popularized sustainability, banned plastic bags, pays its workers well, and now even runs on all renewable energy.

But it doesn’t require much from its consumers other than to continue to buy its products.  We have industrialized organic foods… and not in a good way.  We still don’t have a mass movement to create understanding that the availability of year-round produce probably isn’t necessarily ‘natural.’  We still don’t really understand or care why we buy food from countries suffering widespread famine.  We still don’t care that it drives local, independent grocery stores out (yes they still exist).  We just assuage our guilt.  But is it better than nothing?

As Stuff White People Like sardonically says:

Many white people consider shopping at Whole Foods to be a religious experience, allowing them feel good about their consumption. The use of paper bags, biodegradable packaging, and the numerous pamphlets outlining the company’s police on hormones, genetically modified food and energy savings. This is in spite of the fact that Whole Foods is a profit driven-publicly traded corporation that has wisely discovered that making white people feel good about buying stuff is outrageously profitable.

The natural hypocrisy of Whole Foods and its consumers (YES MYSELF INCLUDED) just makes me laugh.  We live in a world where we have to think about our choices and options a tad too little.  Things are available (although not necessarily affordable) just a little too conveniently.  Mass marketing and consumerism have stolen our brains and souls just a little too much.  Blah blah social conspiracy ranting blah blah.

ETA: I obviously have not read M. Pollan’s previous book, which further research informs me rants about the irony/hypocrisy of Whole Foods.  Indeed.

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