Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Instant Pot: A Love Note to Beans

Let’s talk about the Instant Pot. Or as I call it, the InstaPot mainly because it annoys Tom. He always corrects me. “It’s called the Instant Pot, you know,” he says. 

I reply, “Yes, honey I love my InstaPot.”
Tom got it for me for my birthday, and if I choose to level up the branding, so be it. Did I mention the InstaPot has bluetooth? It seriously is a Tool for a New Lifestyle. You can turn it off while sitting on the sofa. As long as you're within range.

Here's what I like most: You open up the pot and dinner pops out like some kind of genie in a bottle. Except instead of a bottle, you have a kitchen appliance. And instead of a genie, it’s a delicious kidney bean fricassee.

I don’t know how I ever survived without beans in like half an hour. They go from dry in the bag to ready to go with no soaking or anything. It’s kind of like a magic trick. This is practical because beans are a mainstay when it comes to a plant-based lifestyle. 

Plus you can sauté in this thing. And then throw in other things and pressure cook the lot of it. All in one pot. It’s like a 1950s dream, dinner in one pot. I’m reading Sylvia Plath’s journals right now. Probably if she had had an InstaPot she would not have offed herself in the oven. 

(That was terribly off color and insensitive. I apologize.)

Derek does not like the Instapot because he says it’s uncontrollable. He says it does not cook at an even temperature and is impossible to fine tune. Derek would know. He’s a fine-tuner. His stereo, for example, is terrifyingly complex. It has small weights balancing the needle. It’s like some kind of steampunk contraption.

Meanwhile, I go through life in a very pleasant culinary haze. If the lentils are a little askew, I can’t say I notice, especially given the amount of curry I tend to accidentally spill all over the place in a failed attempt at using a tablespoon measurer.

When it comes to the InstaPot, I’m totally in the majority though. Stacie is a big fan of the InstaPot. How I got hooked on it to begin with was all her talk about oatmeal. A little almond milk, toss in some raisins, and bam. Steel cut oats in twenty.

It’s kind of a cult, this InstaPot. There’s whole recipe books, like for example, “The Ultimate Vegan InstaPot Cookbook.” The NYT is onto it. 

(Here's an ad for the InstaPot. If you intend to buy one, click on the link. Allegedly I'm supposed to get a piece of the action, although this has yet to ever materialize, despite all the quality links I put in the Cher post. How could I not be suspicious?)

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Two Wished-for Words

We went out to dinner with Stacie, Andy, Stacie's mom and Fred. Fred is Stacie's mom's... boyfriend? It's odd to call a seventy year old a boyfriend. "Partner" also doesn't cut it. Partner sounds too new and hip to refer to a guy on the darker side of grandpa age.

The word "sambo" would be perfect, except it's a Swedish word that sadly means something very different in English. In Swedish, a sambo is an unmarried person of any sex or age who lives with their significant other. Swedes are good like this. They also have the word "särbo" which refers to a person in a long-term relationship who doesn't live with their other half.

Anyway, I wished for the word sambo.

Then I got into a deep conversation with Fred about temporary tattoos. As you do when you meet your friend's mom's gentleman. I recalled my grandma talking about the temporary tattoos she used to get on Coney Island back in the day. There was a name for them. I couldn't recall what it was. Fred scratched his head. He's from Brooklyn and he knew what I was talking about, but he couldn't remember either.

All evening this missing word bothered me. It bothered me the next morning. And then, wham like a burst of heavenly light it came to me: cockamamie.


That's what the gramster calls fake ink. I finally remembered cockamamie mainly because I had a vague sense the word sounded, kind of, like another word gram would occasionally drop -- coney. Coney means rabbit fur dyed to look like leopard skin.

According to grammy, it was uncool to wear coney. If coney ever came up, guaranteed it was not part of a compliment.  Then again, my grandmother is not known for her compliments. She's more known for non-subtle innuendos. I recall that one time in the middle of a party when she told Cindy Barnick that Cindy's family recipe for liver pate wasn't particularly good.

Also, the gram is the daughter of a midtown furrier.

There could be factors at play beyond fashion choices, is my only point.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It's a professional courtesy: Notes from the Atlantic City Half Iron Triathalon

Atlantic City Ironman -
map of the run part of the operation
Andy and I look at our watches and wait for Tom, and then Stacie. We stand at the rope separating we spectators from the triathletes running by. At this point in the race, the Ironman competitors already swam 1.2 miles, rode their bikes almost 57 miles and were about half done with a 13.1 mile run. It's hot in the sun. Most of the runners look some greyish shade of completely beat.

Andy gives me this weird look when all of a sudden I break out a really spirited whoop and shout, "Go David!"

He wants to know what just happened there and how I knew the random Ironman dude's name was David.

I say I just interviewed David for the podcast like last month. I knew exactly who he was because he had his company name emblazoned across his shirt and he looks exactly like his headshot. I tell Andy I sent David a LinkedIn invite and he never accepted it.

Andy says, "Instead of cheering, you should have yelled, "Why didn't you accept my LinkedIn invite?! IT'S A PROFESSIONAL COURTESY!"

I laughed and laughed.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Not Veganing

Andy says to me, "I always worry that you won't be able to find something on the menu that you can eat. But then you manage to order something gigantic." He eyes up the salad I could barely fit on the table. And I know he's thinking of these pretty huge eggplant rolls I put down at dinner yesterday.

"Yep," I say, through a mouthful of broccoli rabe. It's hard to chew broccoli rabe fast. You have to fletcherize."I'm excellent at hunting and gathering." I dig into my beans.

Just a quick sidebar for the uninformed who don't know what fletcherizing means. Your father clearly did not take it upon himself to regularly squawk about its importance. Fletcherizing just means to chew really thoroughly so you appreciate your dinner. I have no idea why or how my pop became so enamored by the idea of it. He's not exactly what I'd consider an epicurean.

Regardless of your capacity to fletcherize, it takes a lot of energy to do this no meat or dairy thing. Much of it involves procuring and preparing vast quantities of plants.

An insanely time-consuming meal I found on the internet.

I fritter away hours adding and subtracting nuts and berries and toting up milligrams of B12. I look up nutritional charts like I'm mining for gold. Or mining for calcium as the case may be. Who knew molasses was a power pack of essential minerals? The vegans knew, that's who. And they can fight all day about whether its high glycemic index outweighs the benefits.

Speaking of fisticuffs: Just so I don't get trolled mercilessly, I will state for the record that I am not a vegan. I'm a plant-based diet person. I recently learned that real vegans are all about the animals. They don't wear leather and they don't wear fur. I hardly qualify. I lasted about 45 seconds on the Vegan Subreddit before realizing that I'm actually a total fraud. But at least not as big a fraud as this guy:

Please note the part where the super vegan writes: "And I just looked at your instagram and see a bunch of disgusting meat. Stop lying."

OMG. Here is some dude posting in the vegan forum WHEN ON HIS INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT THERE ARE PICTURES OF BARBECUED FISH! How did he think he wouldn't be called out? The Vegans are thorough fact-checkers, give 'em that.

I read a business book that talked about a study showing vegans are 3x more prejudiced toward vegetarians as vegetarians are toward vegans. The reason for this is called the "Narcissism of small differences." Click on that link and you'll discover some other vegan who is onto this concept.

Here's the bottom line: I do not wish to join the vegan club, even if they'd have me which they would not. I despise being harassed by the holier than thou. For this exact same reason, if you must know, I've left all the Indivisible groups I was formerly a part of. I'll send money directly to candidates and write my own damn postcards, thank you very much.

Probably the best part about this plant-based thing are the insta-conversations with plant-based strangers. I mean a really zealous totally absorbing kinds of conversations. Topics are intense, for example:

  • things you can make out of cauliflower
  • scobies
  • The instant pot, the most amazing device ever
  • protein bars
  • hot sauce
  • magnesium
As an adorable footnote, I scanned this plant recipe Audrey made for me:

It's nice to get watercolored plant recipes on little cards from friends.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Big Night Out - Taking the water taxi to Brooklyn

First we went to the Crows Nest, that place on the East River behind the hospital. As we approached the restaurant, Tom said, "I see how this went down. They needed more seating and someone thought, 'hey, let's just jam a boat right up against the side here.'"

Very practical, I nodded. Very practical.

You go in the Crow's Nest and feel like you're in the cartoon part of Nantucket or something. The part of Nantucket where the interior designers only have a misty impression of what goes on in Nantucket, but joyfully barrel forward anyway. A checkered napkin, wood paneling, life rafts and ship steering wheels, astroturf, salsa and chips, lots of Russians attending a private cocktail party in spandex.

Astroturf adds a sportsy touch.

It was all good. Darcey and Kent were in town and we met up with Helen and Matt. Ancillary to seeing our awesome friends, I had a little revelation up there atop the Crow's Nest: I'm a raging tonic water snob. Bam, that happened fast. Once you get used to Fever Tree with your Kettle, please be advised that whatever the hell comes out of the squirter on the bar will not do. This constitutes a problem for me. I blame Matt.

Anyway, continuing our nautical theme, we went over to the East River water taxi. This is when my shoe fell apart. And when I say "fell apart," I mean "achieved supernova destruction."

This is what a real shoe problem looks like.
I now consider these shoes fully amortized. This pleases me, being a serial obsessive and all.  Ever since I began keeping track of my clothing cost per wear, I've realized the extreme subjectivity of the whole endeavor.  So many variables; so many opportunities for rabid overfitting. I appreciated the mathematical precision of the circumstance. Meanwhile my shoe slowly disintegrated into one of those ergonomic earth shoes.

The water taxi is an option not to be underestimated. You can order beer on the water taxi. I think some people were having a birthday party right there on the boat. I tossed a little piece of shoe up in the air in celebration.

We walked from the water taxi dock past a bespoke abandoned field in Williamsburg over to this Italian restaurant with a lot of cheese on the menu. After dinner and because it was like 1am at that point, we headed to the Bedford L stop. Helen and Matt veered off into this dive bar. Later, they encountered a parrot.

We went home so I could throw out my shoe and make a note in my ledger.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

The Flavor of Chocolate "Crick" Cookies

Jack on the 1st day of 4th Grade
Jack went with Grandma and Grandpa to the Insectarium in New Orleans. There's a cafeteria at the Insectarium. Jack ate a few chocolate "crick" cookies. As in, cookies made from crickets.

I asked Jack what the cricket cookies tasted like.

He tilted his head to the side and contemplated his answer:

"They tasted like regular cookies. With a hint of meat."

Monday, August 28, 2017

Hence the speed differential

Photo credit:

1 am in Greenwich Village:

On the sidewalk in front of us, the one pudgy short girl in very tight pants motored ahead of the other pudgy short girl in very tight pants. And when I say, "motored ahead" I mean in a relative kind of way. Tom and I just kind of strolled by the two of them.

We might have appeared nonchalant, but make no mistake, we were paying attention. There was drama.

The one in the back squawked at the one in the front, something about slowing down. I couldn't really hear so well. I was totally distracted by the frantic slapping of their strappy sandals on the sidewalk and my disbelief over how it was possible to move one's legs that rapidly and at the same time achieve such low velocity... I was astounded really. It was like watching hummingbirds. Hummingbirds from say Long Island.

The one in the front really started to pull away. But by then they were way behind us.

I asked Tom what was going on back there. He said, "The one in the front had to pee a lot more than the one in the back. Hence the speed differential."