Poe Cooks Reality: Eggplant Parmigiana from Food Network’s “Best Thing…”

25 Nov

While it’s generally well known that I have a very handsome in-house personal-chef-for-life, I too, can combine raw ingredients into something passably edible. Or, at least not poisonous. (I just scoured this website for a picture of me cooking and found nothing. NOTHING. I was sure there was a picture of me stirring a pot somewhere, but no.)

And, now that I work from the spacious Poe Industries World Headquarters (ie: home), I’ve been stepping up and cooking more often.

Truth be told, I tend to lean towards large, stick-to-your-ribs meals that would feed a small yet hungry army, with a particular tendency towards casseroles smothered in cheese until unrecognizable. This weekend’s offering definitely falls in that category.

I saw this eggplant parmigiana on some Food Network show. Something along the lines of “Best Cheese-Covered Mess I’ve Ever Eaten/Made.” (Actually, here it is, and it was called “Best Thing I Ever Made – Fry It Up”) Alex Guarnaschelli, who has the most impossible last name ever, was raving about it. Seriously, I almost gave up on trying to find the recipe because of typing in that last name.

Now, I don’t find Chef Alex particularly enchanting. Her delivery is pretty boring actually, and she looks just like a former friend who literally just up and stopped talking to me right around the time I met XFE – never did solve that particular issue/mystery, but I’m sure my happiness was totally annoying to her.

But, Chef Alex does have some meat on her bones, and I tend to trust chefs that actually look like they eat. Never trust a skinny chef is one of my life mantras.

Eggplant Parmigiana via Poe

This recipe was fine. I wouldn’t say it was easy. And, you will use every damn cooking utensil in your house. At one point, I had four cookie sheets at play, and three pie plates that I was using as a dipping/breading station.

There are also a lot of steps that I think could be skipped. For example, making your own sauce. Yeah, it’s not like that’s a hard thing to do, but probably not necessary. In our case, one of the reasons we were making eggplant parmigiana is that we had some crushed tomatoes in the freezer from last year’s amazing tomato crop. So I swapped those out for two of the three cans of whole tomatoes the recipe called for, and just used one can of San Marzano whole tomatoes. If I made this again, I’d just buy a good, premade sauce and save myself some time.

Also: in the recipe, Alex says you don’t have to salt the eggplant and let them sit for an hour, but really, who wants bitter eggplant?

My other quibble is that we were told to use a 9 x 13 casserole dish, which I did. However, in the recipe, she suggests you can get three layers in that thing, which was not the case in our house. We used two medium-sized eggplants and got two generous, overflowing layers in the pan, so it worked out fine, but definitely not three layers.

Ours was a bit watery at the end. Some moisture on the bottom of the casserole dish. XFE noticed it when he was wrapping the leftovers to put them in the fridge. I don’t know if it was because I used too much sauce or because of the tomato swap out, and it wasn’t a ton, but maybe more than we expected(?).

I also question the necessity of breading and frying the eggplant. I’m not a big fan of frying in general (not for health reasons or anything. It just makes the house stink, in my opinion), and the final product was really a cheesy mess. You definitely don’t get any fried crispiness. But again, maybe that was because of the tomato/watery situation. Hard to tell. After dinner, XFE pointed out that Trader Joe’s has fried eggplant slices in the freezer section, so if I made this again, I might use that short cut as well, since home frying didn’t seem to make a discernible improvement to the final product.

However, with all that being said, this eggplant parmigiana was really, really good. Downright delicious.  I mean, how could it not be? It had like a couple of pounds of cheese. It was basically an ooey, gooey Italian cheese delivery system, which is just fine by me. And our tomatoes tasted amazing, really bright and summery, so it was a good use of those.

Can’t wait to eat the leftovers for lunch this week. Maybe with a side of cheese, eaten Bleona style.

Bleona eating cheese.

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Friday Links: Old Pets with Norwegian Passports Flying in Restricted Airspaces Edition

21 Nov

Ellen and Portia spoof Kim

Norway's new passport is purty.

Don’t Know How to Convey Your Annoyance Via Text? Go With a PoEmoji

20 Nov

FAKT: I have never used an emoji. I actually don’t even know how to. Are they on my phone somewhere? I am old and decrepit and have no idea. Maybe they’re housed on my Life Alert.

Emoji Life Alert

I recently read that some new emojis are being considered and it got me thinking about which ones I would use, if in fact, I was about 25 years younger and had more than four friends who will actually attempt to text with me.

Also, it got me thinking, “How do I get a spot on that emoji judging panel because I bet the discussions are amazing and intense and just awesomely nerdy.”

One of the PoEmojis that immediately popped into my mind was in fact a taco, and lo and behold, the taco emoji is one of the ones currently being considered for release. Whew. Because I do think I would truly use a taco one. Pretty much anytime my personal-chef-for-life XFE asks me what I want him to make me for dinner, the answers are invariably: tacos and/or ice cream sandwiches. Breakfast, lunch or dinner. Tacos are the perfect food. And ice cream sandwiches are just delicious.

Mmmmm, tacos.

Anyway, without further ado, my contributions to the emoji world, or PoEmojis, if you will.

Soysauced emoji. This one is useful for times you want to tell your friends that you fell and made a spectacle of yourself. (See origination of soysauced here.)

Sample use: “Oh girl. I was walking down the street minding my own business and then wham! <soysauce> I think I recovered pretty well, though.”

Cheese and wine emoji. I’m sure there’s already a wine emoji and probably a cheese emoji, but I really need them to be together. That would be my emoji to indicate that XFE is out of town and single girl debauchery is about to commence.

Sample use: “Hey, sorry you can’t come over for <cheese and wine>. Please be on standby to call Cat Protective Services in case I oversleep and forget to feed the cat.”

Crazy cat lady emoji. Speaking of cats, I know quite a few ladies who could use this one. I would expect to receive this one on birthdays, and especially after a friend fights with her boyfriend.

Sample use: “Hey girl, you better straighten up and act right or you’re going to end up <a crazy cat lady>.”

I always joke that I’m one boyfriend and a caftan away from crazy cat lady status. Actually, I do have a few things in my wardrobe that qualify as caftan-esque, so maybe I’m only one boyfriend away from crazy cat lady.

Real Housewives emoji. I think this one would either be like an eye-rolling emoji or maybe a shocked open-mouthed one. I can’t decide.

Sample use: “So then she said that I was being too dramatic and maybe I should reconsider my position that Texas is the best state, and I was all like, <Real Housewives>. I mean, can you believe her??”

Kim’s butt emoji. This emoji is meant to convey something truly large, perhaps, suspiciously so. Like, maybe, too good to be true? A total fake out.

Sample use: “Well, I thought we were going to get out of having to go to that baby shower, but it turned out it was a total <Kim’s butt> and now I feel like an idiot because we obviously have to go.”

Honey badger emoji. Because I was watching this show the other day on National Geographic (let me tell you….unless you want to watch Sex and the City reruns—on two channels, no less– you are basically screwed on daytime television viewing), and it reinforced once again how badass honey badgers are. I think this emoji would come in handy when you’re trying to tell someone that they best not mess with you or you will open up a whole bag of snake-killing honey badger on them.

honey badger

Sample use: “I got so angry when CVS didn’t have the most recent edition of Us Weekly, I almost went all <honey badger> on the unhelpful and uninterested clerk. Instead, I bought last week’s and read it again. Bye, Felicia.”

Speaking of, I don’t think a “bye, Felicia” emoji would sit in the emoji school yard unused. I see that one as a face with a side eye and a hand up dismissal sort of movement. Like “talk to the hand,” but with side eye.

Bye Felicia

Fantasy v. Reality: Work Trips

18 Nov cat on a unicorn with lasers

My enamorado XFE has deserted me once again.

OK, fine, that’s a bit dramatic, I suppose. He’s travelling for work this week.

sad unicorn

(picture courtesy of Donny Miller/MisterUnicorn.com)

It’s actually been several months since XFE has been a work-road-warrior. I’d gotten pretty comfortable with him around all the time.

Which is why it feels like total desertion.

Of course, it doesn’t help that he’s leaving the frigid Arctic of D.C. for the sunny shores of California this week.

I’m more than a bit jealous. But I do have to admit, sometimes having perspective on these things is a bit difficult.

For example, there’s what I imagine his flight and arrival are like:

After five hours of guzzling champagne and imbibing in warm macadamia nuts, XFE lands in California, picks up his convertible, and armed with a miraculously traffic-avoiding GPS, arrives minutes later at his luxury hotel, where check in is immediate and completely painless and includes an upgrade to a top floor suite complete with a 1,000-foot deck overlooking ocean waves.

XFE riding his ocean-wave loving unicorn. In his suit. 

Here’s the likely reality:

XFE arrives at Dulles at the crack of dawn, his wallet $100 lighter after his 45-minute cab ride. After a pre-dawn rubdown by TSA, he makes his way to the gate area, where he finds that his flight has been delayed. His breakfast options at this hour are Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. So he can have a scone with his coffee or a doughnut with his coffee. Did I mention that XFE doesn’t drink coffee?

Finally, his flight begins to board. Thanks to his ever-vigilant miles hoarding, he is upgraded and allowed to board in the first group. After wedging his suitcase in the overhead compartment, he settles in to his aisle seat, while the stewardess leans perilously over him and plays overhead Tetris with two other pieces of oversized luggage that ultimately will be gate-checked. Boarding continues, with XFE being whacked repeatedly by backpacks of disgruntled coach passengers passing him on their way to the back of the plane.

Upon landing, XFE will navigate the unknown airport to find the car rental garage and retrieve his lime green Chevy Spark which is a hybrid vehicle and as such, will shut off at every stop light. It also contains a GPS that is determined to drive XFE and his luggage into every available body of water along the route. There will, of course, be tons of traffic, lots of detours, and streets that are one-way between the hours of 9 a.m. and 7 a.m. on all days ending with “y.”

XFE will arrive at the hotel where he will be told that yes, he has been upgraded to a suite, thanks to all his Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty, but his suite won’t be ready for another two hours. He’s welcome to wait at the bar. Or, check in to a smaller room and move all his stuff tomorrow morning before he starts his work day.

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Friday Links: Does This Blog Post Make My Butt Look Big (And/Or Shiny?) Edition

14 Nov

Kim's twin comets

I was a bit light on posting this weekend. Mostly because I was transfixed by the comet landing. I just don’t get it. Why would anyone want to land on a comet? I don’t get space exploration in general. And don’t even get me started on this nonsense about commercial space travel. Or NASA funding. Just avoid all space-related topics around me.

Anyway, that’s my excuse. And a roundup of some links that may or may not have distracted me from writing blog posts.

  • The Styleite story “behind” the overtly racist French artist who inspired the Kim Kardashian Paper cover. Yep, pun intended.
  • Who even knew that there was a beer mile record? Welp, there is and a mother of six broke it. Chris Kimbrough ran four laps and drank four beers in 6 minutes 28.6 seconds. Also known as Friday Happy Hour at Poe Industries. Minus the running laps part.
  • MentalFloss rounds up 11 common things people are trying to replace or redesign, including the toilet, which I’ve written about before. I mean, building a better toilet. I’ve written about that effort. Not just toilets, like randomly, or anything. OK. Time to be quiet now.
  • Sweet bat karma justice at work, via Revolver Magazine: New “Bat Frog” Found in Amazon, Named for Ozzy Osbourne
  • Lifehacker has some good tips on how not to become a hermit crab when working from home. I have to admit, I struggle with this, especially now that it’s getting cold out. I’ve been pretty good about going to the gym and I’m trying to get out to events, coffee dates, etc. But man, sometimes all I want to do is snuggle up on the couch with the cat and the computer.
  • What I’m cooking today (using up some leftover chicken – PLUS it has “scrumptious” in the name): Scrumptious Thai coconut red curry

Have a happy beer chugging, butt-oiling, and bat-frog-avoiding weekend!

Totally Random Search Terms – October Edition

11 Nov

Way back in the day, when thePoeLog was just a tiny little sentence fetus and Google played nicely with WordPress, we had a semi-regular feature called “Totally Random Search Terms that Brought Someone to thePoeLog.”

This was inspired by a feature on WordPress that rounded up terms used in search engines like Yahoo, Google and Bing, that somehow led people to your blog.

It was mostly something I highlighted on Twitter, say, for example, when someone found the blog by searching for “rats on treadmills,” I would tweet out a silly little welcome for all those Pied Pipers in training out there who had accidentally stumbled upon my blog.

Happy blogger.

Happy blogger.

But then WordPress and Google got in a fight or something. I don’t know. I’m still waiting for the Taylor Swift song to clear up the details of that particular little spat. But the point is, the Totally Random Search Terms from Google have been mostly replaced by just “Unknown Search Terms.”

EXCEPT, the terms that are used on non-Google search engines. Those are still available for mirth and amusement. While not as plentiful, they’re still pretty funny.

So, without further ado, here is a Q&A using a small sampling of Totally Random Search Terms that Brought Someone to thePoeLog in October.

Could glass covered wetsuit repels sharks? – I have, apparently, written quite a bit about sharks, thereby making me a leading authority on all things shark-fear related. And while this post here ponders the merits of some possible shark-repellant/shark-attracting wetsuits, I do not see anything about glass-covered options.

But, if I had to hazard a guess, I would say that nothing would repel a hungry shark, and in fact, a wetsuit covered in glass might actually result in the diver accidentally cutting themselves, sending spurts of blood bobbing through the water and actually attracting sharks who want to make a little snack out of you. I wouldn’t risk it. (For more aggressive underwater animal avoidance tips, check out this post.)

Shark bite swimsuit, of course.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Why does the ravine committee tell me what I can and can’t build in my backyard? – Ah yes, the dreaded ravine committee. These low-level, volunteer bureaucrats exist to make designer Hilary Farr’s life hell on HGTV’s “Love It or List It.” I wrote about the incredibly formulaic show (and Canada’s Ravine Preservation system here).

As for why they wield such control, I suspect it’s because they are empowered by their neighbors and fellow homeowners to do so. We have a similar group of busy bodies here in the historic district we live in near Washington D.C. It’s kinda like “Mean Girls” – they exist because the rest of the school let them exist.

Busy body cat

“I notice that you’re building a gazebo awfully close to the ravine. You can’t do that without a permit.”

The (semi) good news is that these types of boards are always looking for volunteers to join them in their efforts to stop growth and progress in the name of saving a tree. Go ahead, fight the power from the inside. Join them. Go to their meetings. Be the dissident voice on every single vote. This one in Toronto is looking for volunteers and the term length is FOUR YEARS! Think of all the ways you can be annoying over the course of four years.

What goes with oysters? – Not to be confused with the other oyster-related search term, “porn models eat oysters,” although I do wonder if these two terms were in any way related. According to this post right here, Croatian pasta cake goes with oysters. But I would also argue that fresh oysters are pretty damn perfect on their own and really need no further accompaniment than a squeeze of lemon and a flute of very cold champagne.

Oyster humor.

Oyster humor.

Who is Alex from Million Dollar Listing? – This one is a bit interesting and led to a very intriguing online revelation, once I started digging into it a bit. I believe this question refers to Alex, who was actually a home buyer and client of Ryan Serhant on Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing New York” a few seasons back. He was the “difficult” client with a pet wallaby, which I wrote about here. Supposedly, Alex was a young finance millionaire looking for a $4 million, wallaby-friendly home.

Alex from Million Dollar Listing and his wallaby

But today, while digging around on the Internet, who do I find working at Nest Seekers, aka Ryan Serhant’s real estate firm? Why, our wallaby-loving client Alexander Saks. Only now, he’s working at Nest Seekers as an agent! Isn’t that interesting/suspicious? So, what gives here, Bravo? Are you guys using other telegenic real estate agents as “clients?” Or was Ryan such a great real estate inspiration that Alex just left behind his career in finance to jump into the competitive world of New York real estate? And will we be seeing young Alex on the upcoming season of “Million Dollar Listing New York?”

Bravo disappeared off of channel 62. Where did it go? – I don’t know, but in my house, that would be a major tragedy on the scale of the still lost episode of season 1 of “Below Deck” (which was also another search term query last month: “what happened to episode 3 of below deck?”) As you can see from that example, and the one above, sometimes Bravo plays fast and loose with the facts. That could very well include what channel they are currently inhabiting in your area.

My advice to you is take a good long look at yourself and try to figure out what you personally did to piss off Andy Cohen. And then you better fix it quick, because “Real Housewives of Atlanta” just started Sunday night and it is going to be one hell of a juicy season. You better find your Bravo fast.

Bravo Andy will not tolerate it.

Friday Links: Sneaker-Wearing Spiders Like Female Bosses (and Fritos Chili Pizza)

7 Nov
Spiders

That’s a sneaker-wearing spider above a spider web pizza. I’m not good at the Photoshopping.

  • Now that I’m working freelance from Poe Industries Worldwide Headquarters, my style needs have changed a bit (Jeans Day EVERYDAY). Plus, I’m coming up with a packing list for Italy and I know I’ll need to take my Pumas (cobblestones — WHY???). So this slideshow I found on Pinterest on cool sneakers and the outfits that work with them is pretty helpful and timely.
  • This guy in Canada bought his girlfriend a pretty awesome round-the-world trip for Christmas. Then she broke up with him. Now he’s looking for another Elizabeth Gallagher to use the plane tickets. Hmmm, yeah. Nothing could go wrong with that.
  • If you do go on that trip, check your earbuds. British pop star Katie Melua had a spider living in her ear for a week. She suspects it got in there from a pair of old in-ear monitors she used to block out the flight noise. IRONY ALERT: Katie Melua has a song called “Spider’s Web.” You can’t make this stuff up.
  • In light of the new abomination known as Papa John’s Fritos chili pizza, I feel like a few of these fast food disasters are on the verge of a comeback. I’m looking at you Burger King pumpkin burger
  • Well, I’ve had some really good female bosses, and not-so-good female bosses. Now this new poll suggests that 39% of women prefer male bosses to female ones.
  • I’ve been dinged by Uber’s surge pricing (although, mine was on a normal, ordinary, non-rainy, non-holiday Thursday). I guess I should’ve crowdfunded it!
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