Broke Eating 101, a Blog Post for Cedric

Some things on hand (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Last night at work, I found myself talking about food. Again. This happens to me often, usually because I bring my own lunch and when someone asks me what it is, I can’t just say “pasta.” I have to say, “bowtie pasta with a sauce of crushed tomatoes, garlic, olives, capers, and onion topped with grated Sicilian black pepper cheese.” And then, invariably, we start talking about food, or I launch into some rhapsodous description of what I made for dinner last night. And, invariably, it’s the same few people who walk in on me, talking about food, again, and say, “Lyz! You’re always talking about food!” I mean, maybe. But I have other hobbies. Really, I do.

But last night, after going on a foodie spiel, I was asked by a co-worker my advice on cooking cheaply and healthily for yourself. He was taking notes. No one had ever taken notes. But, since there’s no better way to make yourself an expert than to just present yourself as one, I launched into an avalanche of advice. Really, I’m no expert (I lied, I’m sorry, forgive me), but I think I do manage to make delicious food for very little money.

And so, in the interest of sharing, here are some basic tenets on my approach to cooking and how I manage to live on mostly nothing.

The Kitchen’s Golden Rule
Banish your fear. Fear is your worst enemy in the kitchen. You don’t need to measure things exactly, you don’t need to use parsley or caviar. Don’t be afraid to experiment and don’t be afraid to not follow a recipe exactly. If you don’t have an ingredient, substitute something else – it might sound strange, but it could be delicious. (See: the other day, I was making a mango milkshake, but was out of yogurt and used sour cream instead and ohmygoditwasamazing.)

Start With the Basics
Some things are easier to make than others. » Continue reading this post…

Good News for Your Sweet Tooth: Blueberry Crumble Pie

"Pie" (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Lately, I just can’t seem to get enough sugar. I want pudding, bread with peanut butter and honey, chocolate granola, jam and butter, cheesecake, and Nutella on anything. (Speaking of Nutella, anyone manage to catch its most recent commercial, where a doting mother/consumer is touting it as a … health product?) The problem is this: I rarely crave sweet foods, and I happen to never crave them at the grocery store, so I never have sweet foods on hand to munch on when those cravings strike.

The other day, the pain was particularly bad, and not only bad, it was specific. I wanted pie. I wanted pie bad.

Anette and I had just finished making a delightful lunch out of nothing (as usual), and I mentioned my craving. She said, “I have some frozen blueberries,” and in a flash I realized I could make pie. Or I could make something almost like pie.

I want to share this recipe with you because it was so ridiculously easy. We whipped it together in about ten minutes and then just sat back and relaxed while pie magic happened in the oven. So if you, too, find yourself pie-less, you can change the facts of your life with things you probably have somewhere. » Continue reading this post…

Eating Blind

unsicht-Bar (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I have developed an irrational fear of flying. It’s impractical. Its source is unknown. But there it is. I have become the person that grips the edges of the seat and dons a horrified expression at a hint of turbulence. I am the one frantically slinging back seltzer and wishing I knew a good Hail Mary.

I’m in a plane now, and I’m thinking back to the other times in life where I have been as paralyzed. Once, on the Appalachian Trail, caught in a raging lighting storm coming off the Blackstack Cliffs, shaking in lightning position, crouched low on one foot and singing the chorus to Amazing Grace over and over again, feeling hailstones hit my back. Once, flying through terrible winds, the plane plummeting and soaring like a whipped rag, with three failed landings. And once, eating at unsicht-Bar, the blind restaurant in Berlin.

What all of these experiences have in common is the sort of fear that grips the bottom of your stomach and wriggles up through your chest, shortens your breath, makes you know a panic attack is just around the corner. And there is helplessness. You are not in control.

unsicht-Bar is fashioned around the concept of blindness. Diners eat a four course meal in complete blackness, and the restaurant is staffed entirely by the blind. In the marble lobby, on plush lounge chairs surrounded by candlelight, you are given a menu whose dishes include such enigmatic delicacies as “The Frisian nobility is on fire and looking for acquaintanceship with the French underworld to practice love things.” It’s charming. We thought eating blind would be fun.

After making our dinner choices, we were introduced to our waiter, Harald. Harald instructed us to grab on to the shoulders of the person standing in front of us. I watched my mother grab on to Harald and Elisabeth grab on to my mother. » Continue reading this post…

Totally Bizarre Thing I’m Kind of Obsessed with Right Now

Mozzarella with butter (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Mozzarella with butter. Not mozzarella and butter. Mozzarella made with butter. It sounds gross, I know. It even looks gross. And eaten cold, um, well, it’s butter. Which is kind of gross.

But melted together on a pita or bagel or pile of potatoes, it’s amazingly delicious. Melted mozzarella is the stuff dreams are made of – it’s the cornerstone of pizza and cheese sticks and anything requiring gooey, stringy, hot cheese. And melted butter makes everything especially bad for you, which is a euphemism for extremely delicious. As the saying goes, more is more. Skeptics be damned, mozzarella and butter is not too much of a good thing.

My mother and I found this interesting specimen at an Italian deli on Grand St. (and corner of…Mulberry?), where they also sell the most phenomenal Sicilian Black Pepper Cheese and excellent prosciutto and whose next door neighbor is a charming, wonderful, amazing pasta shop where is made the most charming, wonderful, and amazing pasta (pumpkin ravioli! black pepper and cheese tortellini! tomato basil linguine!). We are curious people. And buy weird food – just because we can. And what is weirder than mozzarella with a chunk of butter cradled inside?

Mozzarella with butter (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

The last time we were at the shop, we opted for the traditional mozz, but after we had made our purchase, we overheard a pregnant lady raving about the mozzarella with butter. At the time, I remember someone remarking, “Oh, trust the pregnant lady, they eat a lot.” But in retrospect, mozzarella and butter strikes me as just the sort of pregnant lady craving everyone disparages. I’m thinking pickles and peanut butter. Together.

Although, maybe mozzarella and butter is like that too. But in a good way.

Anyway, anyway, anyway. I just got sort of excited about it right now – I made a “pizza” for dinner with pita, butterella, oregano, jalapeño, sundried tomato, and salami slivers which was just great. » Continue reading this post…

Breakfast is Beautiful

Egg-in-pita with avocado (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I have been trying to write this post for a while. I’m not really sure why it’s so hard for me to articulate what I want to say, because really, it comes down to this: breakfast is great. And sub-points: breakfast is great because of the epic struggle for supremacy between variety and ritual.

Sub-point A: Variety

Today, for breakfast I am eating a pita fried with two over easy eggs and topped with cilantro, avocado slices, and hot sauce.

But it could just as easily have been oatmeal.

Oatmeal and coffee (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

There are so many breakfast options. Toast, pancakes, waffles, cold pizza, bagels with cream cheese, herring and crackers, biscuits, bacon, homefries, hashbrowns, cereal, müsli, grits. Let’s not even get into eggs.

Breakfast burrito on crepe (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

With all those delightful choices, how could you limit yourself to the same thing every day?

Sub-point B: Ritual

Most people breakfast alone. The unspoken rule is that plus one makes brunch. This could be because brunch is festive (this, in turn, could be because it’s still faux pas to have bloody marys with breakfast). Or it could be because we each have morning rituals, performed in solitude, to gather energy and sanity for the rest of the day.

When and how I make breakfast is a part of my silent, calm morning time – the actions themselves rituals. I’ve been waking up early recently to do writing in the morning when my brain is fittest (post-college, I realize that I’m a morning person). So I wake at 8:30, crawl down from my loft, brush my teeth, sit at my desk and try to form my first coherent thought, pick the clothes up off the floor from where I threw them the night before, and go make breakfast. Then, I sit here looking out at the freshly fallen snow (Editor’s note: see how long I’ve been trying to write this?! » Continue reading this post…

Buttermilk in Your Eye is Not Pleasant, but Buttermilk Cookies Are Awesome: Buttermilk Cookies

Buttermilk cookies (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Josh, you have inspired me to bake. Well, Josh, it’s a toss-up between you and the barely used carton of buttermilk in the fridge. (Remember those deep-fried eggs?…) I feel like buttermilk often has this effect on people.

This project was miraculous for two reasons. One: I don’t bake. And two: I did my dirty dishes right after cooking. As for the first reason, I simply find that my temperament is not suited to baking. Baking is too mathematical, precise, and often unforgiving. I don’t even own a set of measuring spoons. And I cook very much by trial and error. And I am extremely bad at reading recipes. As for the second, that is probably truly the miracle.

My friend Brittany (or rather, Brittany’s mom) used to make these buttermilk cookies around Christmas time (I think – it was back in high school), and they were the best cookies ever. I finally asked for the recipe when we were about to graduate, then managed to make them – never. Lucky for me and the buttermilk in the fridge, I had just been looking through my recipe collection and had just those cookies in the back of my mind.

As with the measuring spoons, I don’t own a handheld mixer. So I creamed butter, eggs, and sugar by hand. Josh, here you were again inspiring.

Creamed butter and sugar (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I discovered, after I got this far, that I didn’t have any flour. So, leaving my pre-pubescent dough on the counter, I threw on a coat and some boots over my pajamas and ran to Bravo to pick up supplies so I could finish baking.

Back to work with flour and buttermilk, at which point the dough began to take on a sour twang that cut nicely through the sugar. I slipped little teaspoons of dough onto my baking stone and let the oven work its magic. » Continue reading this post…

The Simple Life (Sans Paris Hilton)

Avocado and sardine toasts (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Today it is raining. Sheets of fine mist slant through my gray Brooklyn sky and I watch it comfortably curled in my desk chair, writing poetry, drinking coffee, reading Buglakov’s The Master and Margarita, where Satan has just finished throwing a rager. I light candles and take a bath, paint my toenails, watch Jesus Christ Superstar, write more poetry, listen to rain dribble against my air conditioning unit with metallic thwacks.

When I wake up this morning, I find this comment from my mother on my facebook status: I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. All I could think was how the cold has reduced my world to a very small space, and all I do in that space is eat.

Of course, she has no way of knowing that it will be cold in Brooklyn again, that it will rain in Brooklyn, that I, too, won’t want to leave my space – or my space heater. But I consider it good advice, and I eat.

The toaster (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Avocado (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

In the cold, on this day, I want nothing complex. I don’t want to cook. I want toast – and then to stick my hands in the toaster after I pull my bread out. I want salty sardines in olive oil and avocado. Sicilian black pepper cheese. Salt. Pepper. And then I want to go back to my desk, surrounded by candles and light, read about the devil, and listen to rain.

Sardine and butter toast (Eat Me. Drink Me.) » Continue reading this post…

Tailgating at 9 AM (a post by Josh)

At the Davidson Farmer's Market (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

From my limited understanding about tailgating, what you do at a tailgate is stand around the back of a truck, grill, drink, and stand in a parking lot. How American. That’s not what I ended up doing at 9 am yesterday, but I did tailgate. What? Stop confusing me.

What Davidson has stated to do in the winter months, when the crops are few and far between, is have its weekly Farmer’s Market become a bi-weekly tailgate Farmer’s Market. What that means is every other Saturday, farmers will bring their produce, baked goods, jams, ostrich meat, and flowers to the back parking lot of the local coffee shop, Summit.

Vendor selling lettuce (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

The market board (Eat Me. Drink Me.)
Fresh bread (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Yesterday was a Saturday that the market was happening, and how thankful was I. It was the first beautiful day in North Carolina since the November heat wave – a comfortable 60 degrees, blue skies, and crisp.

Lettuces (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Homemade dips (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Although there were a bunch of appetizing vegetables, I only had my eyes set on Brussels sprouts.

Um, why?

Well, it turns out that yesterday was not only a good day because of the Farmer’s market, and beautiful day, but also because there was to be a potluck that night. With potlucks, I always try to bring that food that everyone thinks they hate – see: cabbage, mushrooms, etc – and make them try my version. For me, it’s the ultimate test: can I make someone like something that they used to hate? So this time, I tried Brussels sprouts.

Beautiful brussels (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Once I got home with the two packages of sprouts, I realized that I actually didn’t know how to exactly cook these miniature cabbage-like things. Looking in a few cook books, I figured that boiling them, then sautéing them would be a legitimate option.

So after washing and halving them, I boiled them for about four minutes. » Continue reading this post…

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