Category Archives: food-o-rama

Happiness Tea

This post is the first in my series titled, “Taking the Seasonal, Affective, and Disorder out of Seasonal Affective Disorder.” It’s a good thing I never tried to get a job writing ad copy.

I always get the winter blues immediately following Christmas and this year is no exception. But as I lay curled up into the fetal position on our couch last night, the P-Dawg approached me with a cup of tea.

“Drink this,” he said. “I promise it will make you feel better.”

And I was like, “What’s in it? It smells like an Asian supermarket.”

“Just drink it,” he said.

“I hate to tell you this, P-Dawg, but one lousy little cup of tea is not going to lift me up out of the depths of despair. What I need is a tropical vacation or to move to California.”

I’m not usually one to make fantastic claims and I didn’t get even one red penny from the ginger, honey, or lemon industries for writing this post, but I want to tell you that this tea made me feel instantaneously better.  After taking only a few sips, I sat up on the couch. Halfway through my cup I started cracking jokes and feeling like I might just make it through another Cleveland winter.

I’m not kidding.

And because I want you to be happy too – even if you live in California or Hawaii – I am going to share the ridiculously simple recipe with you. If you have the winter blues and don’t make yourself this tea, I’ll have to . . uh . . . come to your house and stare pleadingly at you.

Let’s get started!

First, grate about a half teaspoon of organic ginger into a strainer of some sort and steep it in a cup of boiling water for five minutes. We have a special tea strainer and also a microplane because we are bourgeois, but you could also use one of those cute little tea balls or even steep it in a thermos then run the whole she-bang through a sieve.

Now listen up, because this is important: The ginger must be organic. The other stuff just doesn’t have the same nutrients and miraculous healing qualities, capiche?  If you make this tea with watered down plebeian ginger, don’t come crying to me. And this probably goes without saying, but using dried powdered ginger will turn you into a pillar of salt.

We keep a ginger nubbin in the freezer at all times and it lasts forever. You don’t even have to wrap it up, just perch it unceremoniously next to the frozen waffles. You can grate it frozen right into your tea, honest to Pete.

The next step is totally optional, but it will give your tea a pretty color: throw in five or six dried poppy flower or rose hip petals if you have them, and who doesn’t?

(Seriously, you can skip this step. We just happen to be up to our ears in dried flower petals because the P-Dawg is an organic herb and spice fanatic. I’m not even allowed to use plain old supermarket nutmeg for cooking and baking, I have to grate up an actual nutmeg ball. That’s why I have Seasonal Affective Disorder.)

Okay, now strain the tea into a cup and then squeeze in a lemon wedge:

The P-Dawg said I didn’t need a picture of it because everyone knows what a lemon looks like.  I told him he would make a terrible food blogger.

Next, add honey to taste and don’t be a martyr. The key is achieving a balance between the ginger, lemon, and honey flavors. I used about a teaspoon, but I probably could have used more.

I used raw, unpasteurized honey, but if your honey comes from a plastic bear, I won’t hold it against you. Well, I might hold it against you a little bit because I really think you should use raw, unpasteurized honey. It is very, very good for you. Take it from a Lithuanian – we have a goddess assigned specifically to bees.

Finally, drink and be happy!

Now please go forth and make yourself some ginger lemon honey tea.

No, I really mean it. I want you to make this tea and then report back to me.  I’m really curious to know if it will have the same uplifting effect on you as it did on me. I guess it would probably be best if you were a little sad before you drank it. Maybe you could watch ET or Terms of Endearment to get yourself in the mood.

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Thankful That I’m Not a Turkey

There’s a twenty pound turkey in my basement freezer and it’s making me nervous.

The P-Dawg and I are hosting Thanksgiving for the first time this year. It’s been awhile since we made a turkey, the last time being for the V-meister’s first birthday party. I don’t know, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

We started discussing the turkey last Thursday.

P-Dawg: “We have twenty minutes to kill before the parent teacher conference. Do you want to stop at Heinen’s and buy a turkey?”

Rima: “I’m not sure if I’m ready yet. Also, it seems risky. What if it goes bad in the car? Should we take it into the parent-teacher conference with us?”

P-Dawg: “Forget it. Just buy one when you do the grocery shopping next week.”

On Monday morning, I went to the grocery store and marched up to the Butterball turkey display. The turkeys all looked pretty much the same, so I picked a medium sized bird off the top and was about to lob it into my cart when I noticed that other customers were inspecting the turkeys much more closely, turning them this way and that, discarding the unacceptable ones, and digging into the bottom of the vat for more, better turkeys.

I decided my turkey wasn’t good enough. I mean, I hadn’t even smelled it.

I put the turkey back and picked up another one, much bigger. I turned it over and looked at the expiration date. It was November 25th, which seemed a little cocky. I sniffed the turkey and made sure it had two legs, then knocked it up against the side of the bin a couple of times. Seemed OK.

The turkey weighed twenty pounds. I wheeled it up to the checkout lane and hoisted it on the conveyor.

“Cooking for a crowd this year, I see” the cashier said to me, and I began to wonder. Is my turkey too big? Does the cashier know something about this turkey that I do not? Will I have to wake up at four AM to cook it? Should I start de-frosting it now?

The turkey is keeping me up at night.

I hope it turns out OK.

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Let Them Eat Small Plates Festooned with Craft Beads and Flowers

The P-Dawg and I spent much of our anniversary week in Vegas eating. There are so many restaurants operated by world-renowned chefs there, that we only had the chance to sample a few. But among them was Joël Robuchon, one of the few Michelin three star rated restaurants in the U.S. It was a tad out of our comfort zone, but we had to try it.

A complementary limo picked us up for the five minute ride from Bellagio (our hotel) to Robuchon. We had just enough time to stuff our pockets with bottles of spring water and Tweet pictures of ourselves en route before arriving at the restaurant through a super secret gated entrance, where a woman in a floor length black gown greeted us like we were Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

She escorted us through a gorgeous courtyard and series of hallways into the restaurant, which was decorated in completely over the top sumptuous art deco. I am talking about shades of purple, gold, and blue, pictures in gilded mirrors, and enough velvet to upholster the Eiffel Tower. Our corner table provided an excellent view of the dining room, so I immediately took an inventory of our fellow gourmands to make sure I wasn’t under dressed. The handful of other couples there looked a lot like the P-Dawg and me, but there were two Russian mobsters wearing jeans and Prada t-shirts, which I thought was totalement inappropriate.

Le Yard de Court

The French maitre d’ looked exactly like the soulless commando character on Lost and our server, also French, looked like the short haired chick from the Matrix. Neither of them had a sense of humor, so in case you are planning a trip to Robuchon in the near future and want to crack bad jokes referencing Jacques Cousteau or Pepe le Pew in rusty French, be forewarned.

P-Dawg ordered the “tasting menu,” which consisted of thirteen courses of the chef’s choice.  I couldn’t bring myself to do this so I ordered from the prix fixe menu and I still got eight courses. (Each course is about the size of a small fist.)

If thirteen courses is not enough, there was also this bread cart they kept wheeling up to the table with probably one thousand varieties of bread on it. There was no end to the bread cart, not to mention the pillar o’hand churned butter which they also brought by on a regular basis.

La Carte de Bread

La Carte de Chocolate

I knew Emily Post would roll over in her grave (is she dead?) if I did it, but I took a secret iPhone photo of the bread cart anyway, for you. Later I noticed that other people were shamelessly photographing, Facebooking, and Tweeting their food, so I took out my real camera and started balls out documenting our meal. Klassy. Ten minutes after that, I finished my first glass of wine and forgot I had a camera. (Sorry.)

The food was to die for.  I have never in my life tasted flavors and textures so perfectly combined, although at times I could have done without the Michael’s Crafts inspired art deco presentation.  One of P-Dawg’s entrees was festooned with what appeared to be Mardi Gras beads and another had a quail egg in it, which he was not supposed to eat. I was going to bring it home in my purse, but I forgot.

Also of note is the fact that whenever I got up to use the ladies’ room (we were there for four hours), one of the waitstaff would

The Food is on Your Left

materialize like a ninja to pull the table away from my purple velvet upholstered bench. Almost as if they knew I was going to have to go before I did. After a while it got so that I’d try to sneak out as fast as I could just to thwart them, but I never did.

After the entrees, we were presented with a cheese cart very similar to the bread cart except without the ever-present stalks of wheat. Then we had dessert and after that they brought us an anniversary cake. Just when I was convinced there was no way I could eat another bite, out came the chocolate cart, from which we could select anything we wanted with no limit but our own willingness to look piggish. I picked four.

They sent us tottering home with a gift bag containing a vellum copy of the P-Dawg’s menu de degustation with his name printed on the top, a bound menu book, and a loaf of blueberry lemon pound bread. The lady in the black dress came back to escort us to a lounge off the courtyard where we waited like dilettantes for our limo to return.

I’m guessing I gained about ten pounds at Robuchon, but the plus side is that after eating there and at Thomas Keller’s Vegas restaurant, the P-Dawg has become a very inspired cook.  I bought him Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home cookbook for his recent birthday and he’s been concocting ad hoc delicacies all week.  In fact, I’m going to have to excuse myself now because my meal of pork roast with fruit and rum compote, roasted radishes and brussels sprouts, and peach cobbler a la mode awaits.

And I’m going to eat it with a glass of cheesecake, if you know what I mean.

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