UnFoodie Conquers Cauliflower

November 28, 2012

By Karen

Weight Watchers punishes you with points pretty severely for eating  white starchy carbs and fat (even “good” fats – a teaspoon of olive or canola oil are 1 point, and so is butter), so I’ve basically given up former mainstays of my diet — potatoes, rice, and anything fried in oil or butter.

At Thanksgiving, mashed potatoes and stuffing have always been my favorite things. Just pass me the gravy, and keep that dry-as-dust turkey breast. So to appease the WW gods this year, I decided to find out if I could make cauliflower replace mashed potatoes, or if it’s simply an urban myth circulated by carb-starved stick figures.

As a veggie, I’ve been OK with cauliflower, although you’d never catch me going out of my way to eat it if anything else is available. It’s so bland and white, it seems a nutritional non-entity (although I’m sure it has many fine qualities).

Here’s what I used:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup 2% shredded cheese (any kind is OK, but I used sharp cheddar)
  • 1/2 cup of water from boiling the cauliflower
  • some spritzes of butter spray (I used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!®)
  • salt to taste

First, I made a total mess separating the florets from the stems, but it turns out you don’t have to be too picky about that because, once boiled, you really can’t tell the difference between them.

You should have seen the floor.

I dumped the florets into a big pot with enough water to submerge them about 2 inches and threw in the garlic. Once the water started boiling, I salted it.

See what I mean about how boring it looks? Like a pot full of albino brains.

The cauliflower needs to boil like crazy for 10-12 minutes, until it breaks apart when you stick a fork in it. I reserved a cup of the boiling water before dumping the cooked cauliflower into a colander.

Before beginning to mash, I added about ½ cup of the water, salted again, and gave everything a good spritzing of butter spray. Then I added the cheese.

At this point, my almost-new Cuisinart blender turned into a doorstop and dashed any hopes of puréeing, but using a whisk and a big spoon I managed to mash out the lumps.

Here’s my masterpiece, topped with more shredded cheddar and red pepper flakes.

If you didn’t know better, you’d think it was mashed potatoes, right?

This total dish is only 8 WW points (all coming from the cheese), so a generous 1-cup serving is about 2 points.

You know what? It tastes close enough to mashed potatoes to make me happy, and my family liked it. But, come to think of it, I don’t know if my mother had any — she’s never cooked cauliflower in her life. And it left me more room for stuffing!

(And for the record, my sister’s brined Trader Joe’s turkey cooked in a bag was NOT dry at all. A win-win all around.)

UnFoodie Discovers Pasta Zero

November 26, 2012

By Karen

After 6 months on Weight Watchers (how that’s going is another post), I’m forever on the prowl for new eats with low points. That’s how I found Pasta Zero by nasoya®.

(Can I hear MorganLF gagging all the way from New Jersey?)

OK, the only resemblance Pasta Zero has to actual spaghetti is its shape. If you bite into it expecting Italian, it probably will gag you.

The noodles are made from potato starch, konjac flour (??), and chickpea flour, and they reek of rotting fish when you first open the package.

But you can eat the WHOLE 8-oz. package (totally doable, even though it claims to be 2 servings) for only 1 WW point. (One cup of naked cooked spaghetti is 5 — even whole-grain.)

Last week I prepared PZ. The smell comes from the liquid you have to drain and rinse from the noodles. The noodles themselves seem odorless.

First, I sautéed lots of onions and mushrooms in Pam, then threw in the noodles to dry them out and heat them. They’re already cooked.

Since I was in the mood for Italian, I threw in ½ cup of Ragu Tomato & Basil sauce (yes, I’m that lazy) and topped it with crumbled goat cheese.

This hefty plate of food was only 4 points.

The noodles are soft, but so firm, they’re hard to break with your teeth.

This was the first time I’ve ever had goat cheese, and I’m trying to figure out the big foodie attraction. It’s like a pricier, flat-tasting feta that refuses to melt.

Although the recipe on the package is “Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce,” Pasta Zero seems Asian. Next time I’m going to try teriyaki or oyster-flavored sauce with smoked oysters.

In researching this post, I found similar noodles online called Miracle Noodles.

A woman reviewed shirataki noodles for Slate and couldn’t stomach them.

But a guy at Natural News loves them.

I think it’s all about expectations, and my years of watching Anthony Bourdain slurp noodles have served me well. I approached Pasta Zero prepared to suspend disbelief. If you can get past the smell, they have unlimited potential for deliciousness.

Screwed Myself on Bourdain Ticket

November 19, 2012

By Karen

Tickets for Anthony Bourdain’s April 23, 2013, Guts & Glory appearance in Richmond, Virginia, went on sale Friday, Nov. 16. While trying to coordinate with a small party, I waited until Saturday morning, intending to purchase a VIP ticket.


VIP tickets were sold out. But I was able to get a good seat (alone, I stopped caring where anybody else sits). I’ll be in the Orchestra, 7th row, undoubtedly within spitting distance of the VIPs.

Not to belittle Bourdain, but find it unbelievable that one nondescript mention of him at the end of a long, unrelated story in Wednesday’s food section in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and a few other bits in local outlets caused this box office stampede.

I smell a rat and wouldn’t be surprised if some corporate entity bought the VIP seats as a bloc.

So I won’t have another Bourdain encounter after all, but Cats Working will report nonetheless.

Here’s a nicely done recap of Tony’s sold-out G&G appearance on Nov. 16 at Boston’s Symphony Hall. Can’t say that I’m seeing him cover any new ground here, but maybe it wasn’t included.

I caught 2 more episodes of The Mind of a Chef on PBS, which aired at 3 a.m. here. (See what I’m saying about Richmond lacking the foodie gene?)

One episode was called “Rotten,” and included an hilarious demo on how to make kimchi:

In the other, David Chang traveled to Denmark for a lesson in how Scandinavians will eat just about any flora, and even the yukky skin that forms on hot milk.

And in the Tony’s Friends Dept.…

May 11, 2013, Tony is making a joint appearance with Andrew Zimmern in Minneapolis. Even though Tony will be a distant memory at Travel Channel (and possibly in litigation over the Cadillac commercial) by then, Zimmern still seems eager to bask in the fading glory. It’s kind of sad.

Eric Ripert is on a merchandising rampage. Now he’s launching his own line of Imperial Select Caviar. A 4 oz. tin sells for $525.

Top Chef co-host Padma Lakshmi has done a spread for Playboy because it seems there’s nothing she likes better than being naked or nearly so. And you know the world’s clamoring to see a woman who gave birth at nearly 40 in the altogether.

Padma credits her svelteness, which does appear to be waning, to a “fast metabolism.”

I’m thinking it’s that — and lots of quality time hunched over a toilet bowl.

And this just in… Padma never watches Top Chef.

Republicans Refuse to Leave La-La Land

November 15, 2012

By Cole

From the depths of his election-loss funk, Mitt Romney emerged for a conference call with wealthy donors who squandered big bucks on him and explained that Obama won because he gave so many “gifts” to young people, blacks, women, and Hispanics during his first term.

In RomneyWorld, any act that could give a non-millionaire a little financial relief or healthcare security is a “gift.”

If there’s any lingering doubt that Romney would have presided over the ritual rape and pillaging of the “have nots” so his fellow “haves” could have even more, this should erase it.

According to Romney, if you’re not rich, you deserve NOTHING. You’re a MOOCH.

It’s amazing Romney didn’t include the elderly on Obama’s gift list.

Oh, wait… wasn’t it George W. Bush who closed the donut hole on Medicare prescription drugs for them without having any way to pay for it?

Can’t go there.

And Romney’s faithful running mate, Lyin’ Paul Ryan, has been regretting that Obama got so much support in the most densely populated areas of the country — where the people are.

If cows and cornstalks could vote, Ryan would certainly be VP-elect now.

GOP denial began with Karl Rove’s meltdown election night when Ohio went to Obama. It was like Rove knew the voting there was rigged in Romney’s favor.

And John McCain, in what increasingly appears to be the onset of dementia, has been tottering through the morning shows, still blaming Obama for the attack on the Libyan Embassy and using it as an excuse to reject Susan Rice as the next Secretary of State. Like either of them had any direct control or knowledge on any of it.

Even though decisively defeated, Republicans are making it clear they have NO intention of pulling their heads from their asses and moving on with business. They want the world to see that their hatred of black cats and people of modest means runs really deep.

We should thank the 3.5 MILLION voters who denied Romney the Oval Office, because every time Romney opens his mouth, he still proves they did the right thing.

Bourdain Coming to Richmond – At Last

November 13, 2012

By Karen

My eyes boinged out of their sockets this morning at the news Anthony Bourdain is finally — FINALLY! — coming to Richmond. He’s gracing us with his Guts & Glory at the newly-renovated Landmark Theater April 23, 2013.

I can hardly wait.

Moving on to chocolate, the rumor of Bourdain taking the merchandising plunge — with Eric Ripert — is true. Their Good & Evil bar hit the market November 9.

Last April, Eric hacked his way through the jungles of Peru with Pennsylvania chocolatier Christopher Curtin to reach rare trees that produce cacao beans long believed extinct, and he helped harvest them.

The result is a delicacy that’s 72% cacao, weighs 2.6 ounces, and retails for $18. Each.

If anybody splurges and orders one, please let us 99-Percenters know if you could detect its dark cherry notes.

A blogger at The New Yorker recently ripped Tony a new one for his very existence, accusing him of “brutishness” and leaving a “crude hickey on food culture.” Tony shot back promptly in the third comment. He must get Google alerts on himself.

As you probably know, No Reservations wrapped forever with Tony’s visit to Brooklyn. Especially poignant was the thought that his locales may have been doomed by Hurricane Sandy. (I wondered what happened to one man’s collection of vintage cars? And will Zamir follow Tony to CNN?)

Bourdain blogged what he considers his best and worst episodes of No Res. I have to agree that Rome, even in black and white, sticks in my mind. Tony in suit and tie tooling around with Ottavia glammed up like Sophia Hepburn was so Roman Holiday.

His remaining Travel Channel series, The Layover, debuts its second (and last) season November 19. I’m waiting to see to what new lows TC will sink to stretch the illusion of a Bourdain association.

But maybe they won’t be sorry to see the last of Tony after his cuss-filled Twitter tirade when they secretly spliced gratuitous shots of Cadillacs into Brooklyn show promo, making it look like his endorsement.

It took me right back to the days they had him flash a Chase Sapphire card to pay for his meals in exotic places.

UPDATE: Just discovered that Tony blogged at length about the Cadillac incident. He’s STILL pissed with Travel Channel, and rightly so, by the sound of it.

Travel Channel is such a clusterfuck on so many levels, you have to give them credit for creative underhandedness in advertising. I just realized they recently started duplicating episodes out on Verizon On Demand to trick hapless viewers into watching the longer one laced with commercials.

Almost forgot… I caught the first 4 half-hour episodes of Tony’s PBS series, The Mind of a Chef, starring David Chang. It came on at 2 a.m. here. Thanks to Bourdain, I’ve got this obsession with finding the perfect noodle, and that’s what the first episode was about. I didn’t expect the series to hold my attention, but it totally did. Highly recommend it.

And finally, Tony’s still writing for the HBO series Treme, and did a scene for Emeril Lagasse that reveals him in a light (and with a mouth) you’ve probably never seen before.

UPDATE: This will teach me not to read Twitter before I post. Bourdain’s new CNN series is called Parts Unknown. I like that. Here’s the promo.

Dear Mitt…

November 8, 2012

So you got a pink slip after 6 years of pouring your heart and soul into the job of running for president. It’s like the voters shut down your vote factory. Bummer.

(Photo – ABC News)

Even worse, the “undeserving” black cat and his zany sidekick won — without an Etch-a-Sketch. Their party didn’t even have any schemes to keep people out of the polls and disqualify votes.

But their party also didn’t show contempt for women who want birth control and equal pay, minorities who don’t “self-deport,” the elderly who collect Medicare and Social Security they worked their whole lives to pay for, and that pesky 47% you think are lying in the gutter waiting for government handouts.

When you add all those people together, it’s a wonder you got as many votes as you did.

So now you’re “between jobs.” If you get tired of watching your kids spawn the next generation of Romneys (just read No. 19 is on the way) or hanging out at your many homes, you and Ann could take a vacation to Switzerland or the Caymans and visit your money. You don’t think U.S. banks are good enough to hold it, so it was pretty ironic of you to expect voters to bank on you.

If there’s any consolation, perhaps it’s that you’ve given parents a great example to use for scaring their kids…

“If you keep saying you believe one thing one day, then deny it and say the opposite the next day, nobody will ever trust you, and you’ll grow up to be a loser like Mitt Romney.”

I’m sure becoming an unemployment statistic must gripe your soul, so maybe you could reapply at Bain Capital.

You’ve been saying every minute for the past 2 years that the economy is in the toilet, so it should be easy to find scads more companies to kick while they’re down until they’re dead and feather your nest even plushier.

Or maybe you could bone up on history. Particularly the era of 2000-2008 when the president whose name you never speak sent this country into its current tailspin with the ruinous ideas you still embrace. Maybe he holds the answer as to why you failed to persuade enough voters to screw themselves by electing you.

As they say, “Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”

But in all fairness, George Bush’s family had a well-oiled cheating operation that ensured he could never “lose.”

It looks like Karl Rove must have dropped the ball in Ohio for you. To see how vehemently he refuted the results on Fox News, Rove seemed to know Ohio was supposed to go down differently.

I bet you weren’t planning to prove the truth of another cliché, “Cheaters never prosper.”

Uncle Sam may let you slither through loopholes to cheat on your taxes, but the country just couldn’t let you lie and cheat your way into the White House.

God Bless America.


VOTE, or Maybe Not

November 5, 2012

By Cole

This is the last post I’ll write about this election. OK, maybe one more, but only if I get to gloat. I promise I won’t whine if Romney gets more votes. (I just can’t bring myself to call him a “winner.”)

Once again, we cats are forced to sit on the sidelines while the fate of our country lies in the hands of feckless humans, just because you have opposable thumbs.

But if cats could vote, I can tell you the only ones who’d be voting for Romney are pampered Persians with a sense of entitlement, and some Siamese who can’t see straight.

The Domestic Shorthairs, the nation’s most powerful feline contingent, which includes most strays and by far outnumbers purebreds, would be voting for the black cat.

So I hope everybody goes to the polls tomorrow to vote, UNLESS…

  • You haven’t watched at least 500 TV ads (if you live in a swing state) and rolled in that mud.
  • You didn’t bother to watch any of the debates, so you missed seeing Romney’s best flip-flops and outright lies.
  • You think the country needs a president who believes there’s magic in his underwear (and I’m not talking about what’s IN his underwear, which all men believe to be magical, but his actual shorts).
  • You think the country needs a first lady who’s more empty-headed than Laura Bush and has dedicated her life to breeding, either herself or through her offspring.
  • You want to see our Commander in Chief, through sheer tactlessness, totally piss off China, Russia, most of Europe, South America, and Africa.
  • You think the Middle East deserves a U.S./Israeli attack on Iran — just because it’s there.

In that case, you are too dumb to vote and you need to stay home watching the Cartoon Network. We’ll let you know how it turns out.

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