Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kitchen Gadget Regrets

Today the NY Times posted a fabulous article about the kitchen tools you never needed. It mentioned one female chef who bought a salmon poacher, a weirdly elongated pot that covers two burners. It interviewed another chef who purchased an electric polenta maker in Italy, something that apparently Italians use daily but lived forever in his cupboard. It then moved on to a coffee connoisseur who went through several iterations of milk steamers and professional grade espresso makers to find a perfect cup of coffee.

I mean, seriously. Who on earth buys an asparagus peeler? Or does one really need an automatic butter slicer? Who buys these stupid, useless, pointless, unnecessary items??

The article then concluded by asking readers to submit their never used kitchen gadgets and sad stories of abandoned appliances. Apparently, the top 'never used' gadgets included: rice makers, slow cookers, garlic presses, food processors, and pizza stones. Smugly, I would like to note that I use every single one of these gadgets, and I use them quite often. I snorted at the idiocy of someone who hasn't yet discovered the wonder that is a crockpot meal after seventeen hours at church on Sunday, or the miracle that is a food processor slicing up apples for an apple pie. Or the magic of a garlic press when you have to 'finely mince' about eight thousand cloves of garlic for cooking copious amounts of Chinese food. Surely, ye novices simply don't understand the magic of culinary convenience.

However... as I applauded myself for not owning pretty much anything from Williams and Sonoma, I also sheepishly took mental stock of the completely useless gadgets I DO own. Most of them came from overzealous wedding registering. I've kept them all, because I did, after all, ask for them, and bless you friends and family for purchasing them for me. I do still have lofty aspirations for each and every single one. But here, in no particular order, is my own #gadgetregretslist:
  • The Griddler. Lovingly purchased for me by my wonderful Census coworkers. It was going to be so multifunctional! I was going to make panini sandwiches, AND griddle pancakes, AND grill chicken safely and humanely with no extra carbon monoxide burning from lighting coal! Turns out, I never eat panini sandwiches ever, pancakes turn out perfectly fine on the frying pan, and Matt grills our chicken on his manly portable baby Weber grill. Hmm.
  • The Spice Grinder. I even made sure to look up all reviews and find the best reviewed one. I read all about the wonders and superior flavors of whole, toasted spices, and how cumin powder was just so inferior to toasted cumin seeds that were then freshly ground, preferably with some whole coriander and possibly garam masala tossed in. Yeah.
  • Mortar and pestle. See Spice Grinder.
  • Sushi block/dishes from Crate and Barrel. They were so cute. They were so not useful for just about anything.
  • Cheesecake springform pans. I know there are people out there who swear by those. I bought them thinking that I would finally master the art of cheesecake, but as soon as I saw that they involve three blocks of cream cheese, I gave up.
  • Cheesecloth. This was supposed to be used for a multitude of things - straining regular yogurt to turn into Greek yogurt, keeping damp over rising bread (what rising bread?), wrapping around herbs to make a bouquet garni, blah blah. None of that has happened.
  • Mini bundt pans. I blame Williams and Sonoma for this one.
  • Pressure cooker. My mom uses hers ALL the time, and very effectively, and bought like six of them to bequeath upon my sister and me. But all I remember from her lesson on how to use it was "but if you do this, it'll blow up. And if you're not careful to do this, it'll explode. And if you don't wait for it to cool down enough, you'll burn yourself to death." So I'm too scared to actually use it.
Yeesh. I think I could go on and on... but I'll stop. It's your turn now... I KNOW you all have that 'one' thing you never use but can't get rid of. Fess up!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Have A(nother) Dumpling...

I figured it's time to post for the second time in 2011. :) I've had lots of different musings to throw around, but recently with the advent of potential future life changes, I've been thinking a lot of what I could possibly do in place of my current position as a Management and Program Analyst at the Department of Education. (Gotta love the DC nebulous job titles.) These musings have led to more tangential thoughts, which eventually spiraled into, What Would My Dream Job Be?

This is a conversation I've had several times with Matt for fun. One evening we sat through dinner in a teeny tiny Virginia town and plotted out our entire restaurant empire: dumplings and hot and sour soup. I would sell 6 for $3, 12 for $5, and a bowl of hot and sour soup for $2.50 apiece. Originally we thought we'd have excessively expensive overheads in Old Town Alexandria and we'd get a hopping yuppie lunch crowd, but I've since turned my sights to the underdeveloped area right around where we live, where the ginormous hulking brand new Department of Defense lurks over us, empty, future traffic snarls impending. Can you just imagine the line out the door for daily dumplings???

I'm sure that in reality, making dumplings every day would kind of suck, but I could totally do it for like a week, or even maybe a month. You can do anything for a month, right? :P More recently, I've decided that if I were to sell them, I'd buy a food truck instead. Follow my twitter feed at #dailydumplings! :)

So. That's just one of MY potential dream jobs. What's YOURS???

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Happy 2011!!

I realize that we're nearly halfway through 2011 and I've only just started my first post of the year. It's been quite eventful since last December. The world just watched the royal wedding of the decade and an international terrorist meet his doom in one weekend. We moved houses (to our SECOND abode of our married career), we hosted family, we hit up El Salvador (well, just Matt), Austin, TX and Jamaica, I got yet another eye surgery, took a month-long photo class, was quoted by the President of the United States, and Matt was officially accepted into the Foreign Service.

Buuut, that's not what this post is specifically about. This post is about the DC Bucket List, Part II. A few years back I had originally thought I was going to leave DC for sunnier, Westernier climates, so I came up with a list of things I had to do before I left. Happily, I can say I've done almost all of them in the three years hence. The Darth Vader gargoyle was cool, I JUST got back from a wonderful weekend in Charleston, I've finally visited Arlington Cemetery (thrice!), saw Little Shop of Horrors in Ford's Theater (twice), and was carried by the force of the NYC mob past the Rockefeller Christmas tree and caught a brief glimpse.

Now that I have successfully (almost) finished my original Bucket List, I hereby open the floor for The DC Bucket List: The Final Frontier. Given that Matt starts Foreign Service training on July 18th, and possible um, deployment (?) (I really should learn these technical terms) within three months, our temporary departure from this area (and most likely the United States) is imminent and we must take advantage of flushing toilets that allow you to throw your toilet paper inside.

SO. What should we make sure to do before we leave??? The sun is setting on our time here and I have left on my list:
  • Visit Boston. We were going to do this for our upcoming anniversary but given the slew of summer weddings and visiting family our next free weekend is sometime in July.
  • Eat a Magnolia cupcake from NYC. This was cool back in 2008. Now I eat cupcakes all the time from the 1000 shops in DC. I think I can strike this from the list.
  • Bike the sites at night. I have visited the sites in all forms of weather, daylight, nightlight, 98 degrees at 11 pm (that was HORRIBLE), braved sub-zero temperatures for the amazing Obama benefit concert, caught the Lincoln memorial in spring, summer, fall and winter, but never on a bicycle. Maybe I should modify this to "Segway the tours at night". That would be way more entertaining for all the tourists to see.
To this list I will add:
  • Eat pizza from Moroni & Brother's Pizza. Dude, it's called Moroni & Brother's pizza and has a trumpet on its sign. Plus it's supposed to be pretty good.
  • Check out the National Harbor. I know it's totally touristy but I've never been!
  • Find the National Aquarium - no, not the official one in Baltimore, but the one hiding in the "lower level of the Commerce Building". I mean seriously?!?! It's in the basement of the Commerce Building?? For this reason alone it merits a visit.
  • Find the WWI memorial. It's tucked away somewhere.
  • Visit Rock Creek Park. I don't know how I've missed it all these years.
  • If I'm feeling SUPER ambitious, perhaps hike Old Rag. I hear you have to be fit to do it, so this is iffy right now. :P
  • Eat a meal in West Virginia. Because I have to say I've been there.
Awight friends, this list is LAAAAAAME. Help me pretty please!! And please come with me on these adventures! I'll be back with updates when we actually find out where we'll be going, and of course you should all start saving money for plane tickets now to come visit. I promise it'll be a good time!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Going Hard Copy!!

A few weeks ago, I bought a Groupon for a discount-priced hardcover publication of my blog, and the coupon needs to be used up by December 31st. Problem is, the book has a 20 page limit, and I have.... oh, 146 posts on my blog.

So, I humbly submit a few of my favorites and ask you to vote for which ones you think deserve to be preserved in good old fashioned ink and paper for all my posterity to read. Now, let's see how long it takes before I come up with my list...

Baking Misfortunes. I still get flak for this one.
The Garbage Disposal. This one seems to be popular :)
My DC Rant. My personal favorite. :P It was written in 10 minutes flat. Pure inspiration.

I severely shortened the list to save you from feeling any obligation to read them all. Enjoy the trip with me down memory lane!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Power of the Internet...

Some of you may know I started selling hats on Etsy last winter during "Snowpocalypse" or "Snowmaggeddon" or whatever the heck you want to call it... it was a hobby and has been quite fun. Mostly I've enjoyed the unintentional side effect of really getting a feel for 'small business' policies and that has given me more work experience to apply to my 'real' job than the Census Bureau really did. Sad, isn't it?

I'm a bit of an Internet stalker... given my stats background, I'm always curious who visits my sites (yes, you Blogger reader... I am tracking you! But don't worry, as long as you're not here to post lame Chinese spam comments, you and I can be friends forever). I have a few programs that lets me know how many visits I get daily, etc. Now, with Etsy, I'm lucky if I get, oh, 8 people a day. Usually it's 1 or 2. On days that I post cute adorable pictures of friends' babies, I can get up to oh, 20 on a REALLY good day.

So yesterday I went on (I usually check like once a week), and when I clicked on my home page, it was telling me that I suddenly had 167 visitors in one day, and 122 the next. I was flummoxed. What? Huh? Was the program glitching? Were there Google server issues? Was Etsy down? Was Etsy's server malfunctioning? (you can tell what my profession is...) The problem is, Google Analytics, as cool as it seems, is not really that user friendly. After many minutes of clicking around, I was finally able to ascertain that the bulk of those visits originated from... Russia.

NOW I was confused. Russia? Eh? Were the Russian spies who were arrested in Arlington a few months ago only the tip of the iceberg and they were really everywhere, infiltrating the entire northern Virginia area and specifically targeting my Etsy site? Were the Chinese spammers who have mercilessly attacked my blog recently teaming up with Russian spammers and determined to bring my Internet activities down? I didn't know Russia had a stake in Internet spamming. When I told Matt, he said "well, it's cold over there... maybe they all want your hats?"

Anyway, today I went back to dig deeper and finally, FINALLY, found the source of all the hubbub: Klub Osinski. Mafia digs? Drug cartel? No... apparently an online forum for... hobby knitters and crocheters. And apparently there are a LOT of hobby knitters and crocheters in Russia. I mean I guess it is true... it IS cold over there.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Oh where, oh where has my summer time gone...


Every year it feels like an entire month gets shaved off of this precious and carefree time. Every dark and bleak winter we wimpy DCers start whining about how excited we are for summer, and how much we miss the warm weather and all the fun things we're going to do. Every April the temperatures immediately shoot up to 95 degrees (didn't we have, like, a record breaking June or something?) and all of those fun things turn into hermiting inside in the A/C.

I had no idea summer had already drawn to a close until I noticed that school has already started up for the local kiddos. That shocked me. What happened to lazing around by the pool?! (That happened briefly, once.) What happened to camping on the weekends? (Also managed to happen... once... last Saturday) Most importantly, what happened to my poor tomatoes that were supposed to bring forth an abundant of late-season fruit?!??!?!??! (Answer... um... they didn't. There are two sad, rotted, withered tomatoes that managed to spring forth and immediately die. I think they were dead before they were even ripe. Our plants basically deteriorated into a copulation ground for the crunchy beetles that infest our porch. We are terrible farmers.)

A few items we DID manage to accomplish:

Day trip to Baltimore (that alarming shade of red came from two sips of a 7/11 slurpee...!)

Night walks at the monuments (we managed to go during like, the record breakingest hottest night EVER in D.C.... we were out from 9:30 to past midnight and it never dropped below 95. I think we nearly suffered heat stroke)

4th of July at the Lincoln Memorial (my new favorite place to watch the fireworks)

Annual pilgrimage home to see the Hill Cumorah Pageant

I got on a plane twice: once to visit my sister in Texas and once for a wedding in Utah. Both times I wore my long swishy peasant skirt. Both times I managed to get it stuck in my underwear in the bathroom and walk around for a significant amount of time until some kind soul pointed it out (well okay, the first time my horrified sister spotted it within seconds... the second time... I was not so lucky.)

SO... what are YOUR favorite memories/things to do for the summer?

Friday, June 04, 2010

It's a Pierson Produce Party!

So we joined a CSA for the first time this year (for those of you raising an eyebrow in confusion, it's a community supported agriculture, where you pay money for a 'share' of a local farmer's crop). It's been an adventure already... four heads of lettuce a week is a LOT of lettuce!!

Anyway, so I've been having a lot of fun trying out new recipes and thought in an attempt to chronicle my food adventures and share recipes and ideas along the way, I started a side/summer/food/blog: whereupon you may gaze upon other peoples' yummy food pictures and we can all commiserate on how fun it is to make food and even more fun to eat. :)

In the words of the cheesy Iron Chef host: A la cuisine!