Fondue History

Fondue was originally created in Switzerland (or possibly France, fondue is French for “to melt”) as a way of using up hardened cheese. The cheese fondue is thought to be developed in the winter, when rations were low, and the only thing in abundance was cheese and stale bread in peasant homes. These peasants would then go to work for their noble employers and introduce the dish to them, only with expensive cheese, nicer wine, and better bread. The cheese dish began to spread around the world.  It caught on in France easily because of their love of cheese.

But how did it get to the U.S. you ask?  Well it is a likely fact that after WWII travelers were in dire need to get out of the boring U.S. They wanted new slopes to ski, new cultures to encounter, and to eat new food.  Switzerland was neutral, untouched, and it had great snow.  Americans were drawn there and as they returned home in the 60’s and introduced the fondue trend.  Once Fondue hit the flashy streets of New York, it was only a matter of time before the dish made its way to the west coast.

So thanks to the Swiss we have the glorious meal that we call fondue.  Cheese goodness that will never get old.

 


Adventures with feral Kevin

We pushed through the over grown forest desperate to find some clue of where civilization might be.  Could this feral man in glasses know the way?  Kevin may not have known the way back to the 21st century but he did have thousands of fun filled facts on what we can eat from our own back yard when the apocalypse hits  (how this will happen is anyone’s guess, zombies most likely.)

Kevin taught us that when the trucks stop running, and we cant get to the store, that on a good year we can make flour from the millions of acorns the will cover all of Moraga and Lafayette. He explained that acorn flour makes the best pancakes ever, but that he did not have any to share, selfish much?  Along with the acorn flour we will be able to make “delicious” salads from minors lettuce, chanterelle mushrooms, and any other weeds that are edible.  This may be hard for me to figure out because most of them looked a like, not to mention they all just taste like grass.

Other then grass there will be black berries, pears, bay nuts, and purple mushrooms to live off of.  Kevin was very enthusiastic about his mushrooms and thoroughly enjoyed making them explode like brittle chalk against the surrounding trees.  This made the tour exciting and adventurous. I now know that when the zombies eat and infect everyone that I will not go hungry.


Family Meals

Who is it that pops in my head when I think of the meals from my child hood, my mom.  Although honestly as I got older cooking did not happen very often.  When asking my mom about cooking her immediate response was “I hate it.”  I must get it from her.  She says that cooking takes too much time, that its unrewarding, and the food gets eaten so quickly that she just does not think its worth it cook that often.  I seem to feel the same way, but it’s most likely from pure laziness.

Although she does not like cooking, she does have a favorite recipe that she likes to make, Upside Down Apple Pie.  Her reasoning is that its fast and easy to make not to mention it tastes really good.  Not to mention who doesn’t like pie?

Growing up there were a few meals that we ate pretty often, spaghetti, rigatoni, and chicken fried stake.  These were my mom’s favorite meals because they were comfort foods everyone enjoyed them.  Her favorite food memory that has to do with me, is obviously embarrassing, for me.  Supposedly when I was one, my parents had made spaghetti, it was my favorite.   As I was slurping down the slimy noodles, in the middle of all the excitement, I fell asleep.  The noodle was halfway down my throat and I was out like a light.  How attractive.  I have heard the story of this night thousands of times, my entire family remembers it, and I will never live down that night.

 


Creamy Cucumber Chicken with a Kick

My heart sank when I heard the news.  We had to cook a meal, and we had to incorporate three random ingredients? Fabulous.  My idea of cooking usually involves a box of mac and cheese and that’s it, but now I was going to have to do something with a chicken, cucumber, and some garlic salt.

I deiced to make Creamy Cucumber Chicken with a Kick.  It was one of the first recipes that popped up when I threw the ingredients into Google.  It seemed simple enough yet more complicated then my first idea of chicken salad.

I began with preparing everything that was needed.  Chopping up some jalapeño, onion, fresh dill (this was new to me), mincing garlic, and slicing some cucumber.  Next I had to spray down a pan and coat the two chicken breasts with a heavy coating of olive oil.  I then seasoned each side of the chicken with salt, pepper and dill to add flavor.  Next came throwing the onion, garlic and jalapeño on the chicken, and then threw the whole thing in the oven.

While the chicken was cooking I had to make the cucumber sauce.  I don’t think I have ever had to make a sauce for anything so this was a pretty big step.  I thought all was going well until I added the cream to the mixture.  Somewhere along the line something had gone wrong because my so-called sauce was just a lumpy brown mess.  Never the less it tasted pretty good so I went with it and called it good.

As I pulled my chicken out of the oven I thought it looked perfect and juicy.  I covered it with the “sauce” and served to my dad and my self.  I dug in, took a big bite, and my chicken was way under cooked, kind of chewy. Yuck.  On the bright side, my dad’s was cooked perfectly, apparently mine was frozen when I put it in the oven and his was not.  His review of the meal that it was surprisingly good but could have used more salt and pepper.  All and all not too shabby.

 

 


China Town

It may only be a small section of famous San Francisco, but it may also be the smelliest.  As we ventured deeper into the depths of the over decorated China Town, the smell of rotting/dried out/fresh fish attacked our nostrils.  Yum!   Your nosedoes not experience sensations like that when you’re living in the rolling hills of Moraga.  It was new and exciting!  How glorious! Not.

And so we begin the tour, directed by the enthusiastic Fred… or so we thought.  The first 20 minutes of the so called walk-about tour was spent standing in the freezing cold as Fred lectured on how China Town came into existence, oh and how is daughter went to business school in Boston, but business was not for her, she wanted to be a nurse!  And she was moving home with Fred, because she found a fabulous job.  Fred should be proud.

As Fred lead us around, on what seemed to be a completely random path, I suddenly noticed one of the sources of that foul smell.  There was a group of fish hanging from a window of one of the apartments; Fred says it’s for a stew.  I on the other hand, believe it’s to ward off evil spirits.

We then ended up in what seemed to be the most congested part of SF, the Chinese market.  I personally found this part of the tour to be the most interesting.  Growing up in a very typical “all American” home, my kind of grocery shopping involves driving to the nearest Safeway (or nearest equivalent) and filling up my shopping cart full of food that will most likely never expire due to all the preservatives.  Often the meat I buy is either packaged in plastic and in the refrigerated section, or in the frozen section.  That’s my idea of fresh.  Upon entering the Chinese version of the meat section, it became obvious that my idea of fresh meat was slightly off.  This market was full of nothing but live animals.  The catfish were flapping around on a tray as if trying to escape their impending doom.  There was a bin of giant frogs staring at me with their bulbous eyes (can they really be edible?)  Along with the frogs and catfish, there were millions of other kinds of sea creatures, chickens, geese, and some funny looking fluffy birds.  If I was to buy the Chinese version of fresh meat, I would probably have a heart attack, killing animals is not my cup of tea.

Speaking of tea, because we are all really fast walkers due to the rain, we got to enjoy a nice tea tasting in a local shop.  We entered the serene atmosphere and learned how you are really supposed to drink and make tea.  A red headed tea enthusiast, was very informative and really made me want tea, and to learn some more. This was a pretty weird sensation for me, I enjoyed it non-the less.

The tour concluded with a traditional Chinese lunch.  Now I love Chinese food so this was sure to be the best part of the tour, and when the meal began with fresh vegetarian spring rolls, I knew I was right.   A golden brown roll of fried good-ness.  I layered on the spicy yellow mustard and sweet and sour sauce and took my first bite. Damn it was hot! As in, steamy hot, but delicious nonetheless. The rest of the meal was equally satisfying, except for one dish, that I swear I will NEVER eat again.  The lovely bean curd.  My personal rule is to try anything once, so I began to cut the gooey brown burrito.  I could not for the life of me cut this thing so in an act of frustration I ripped off a piece with my bare hands.  I tossed the morsel in my mouth and immediately regretted it. Soggy, mushy, sweet, yet plant like, sounds appealing yes?

The tour was a pretty good success although its now seven hours later and my mouth is still fully coated in oil.  I have no idea how to fix it and it’s pretty unappetizing, I think I will stick to the slightly Americanized Chinese food for now. Thanks Fred!

Pigeon for Lunch?

 


College Food

When I think about all the meals I have consumed in the last four years of my college years there are really only a few staple meals that come to mind.  Lets start with mac and cheese.  It all started in the early years, living in a cramped dorm room with two other newbie’s.  Packed like sardines.  There was hardly any room for food in our room, all we had to cook with was a microwave attached to our mini fridge.  So obviously we had tons of space for perishable foods.

Mac and cheese became the obvious food of choice, well Easy Mac that is.  All that was required of me was adding water, a few minutes in the microwave, followed by adding the packet of cheese (but who can say if its really cheese), slow relaxed stirring, and some heavy lifting of a fork full of cheesy goodness to my mouth.    There have been countless evenings, lunches, and once in a while desperate breakfast hours, filled with this mac and cheese.

Once I moved off campus and had my own apartment I branched out and became a culinary expert.  I now make mac and cheese from the box, on a stove! Big step I know.  Although this new process takes slightly more time and an extreme amount of skill, it’s worth the effort.  My mac and cheese now is made in proportions suitable for a 22 year old and not a two year old.  My palette has also grown to yearn for more then just the average noodle.  I will only make mac and cheese that is in the form of shapes of some kind.  Spiderman, Sponge Bob, Scooby Doo, Spirals, any shape will do, they taste much better than the lame limp boring noodle in the average box.

Other foods that have become a must in my college student ways are bagels, with extra cream cheese (I like to alternate between cream cheese flavors, it keeps life interesting), and of course the forever loved Taco Bell.  Give me a cheesy gordita crunch and I am one happy camper.


Smoothie Surprise

Smoothie Surprise

Here is what you will need to complete your perfect smoothie.

1 fridge bursting with food that has not been thrown out in god knows how long

12 7th grade girls

1 blender

1 scarf

1 game of truth or dare

1 toilet

Multiple towels

First you will need to pick the first poor soul to test out your delicious smoothie

As they sit and watch in expectation blind fold yourself with the scarf.  Make sure its good and tight, no cheating.

Open the fridge and pull out five random ingredients.  Remember no peeking; you do not want to be accused of being biased.

After pulling the five ingredients out you can take your blind fold off.  Carefully examine the contents and make sure that they ARE expired, this recipe will Not work correctly if any of the ingredients are fresh.

Throw the 5 ingredients into the blender ( if you did not happen to pick some sort of liquid as one of your ingredients I recommend adding juice or milk to achieve the right consistency)  mix on high for two min.  Check to make sure that all lumps are smaller then a pea. If chunks are still large mix for another 45 seconds.

Your smoothie is now compete, serve ¾ of a cup in a mug to who’s ever dare it is.

The subject MUST drink the ENTIRE drink!  If they don’t they must complete another dare, or reveal a truth about themselves.

Repeat steps 2-7 for each girl.

Wait 2 hours for effect of the Smoothie Surprise to kick in.

You will know when two hours is up when one of the girls flees to the bathroom and starts up chucking uncontrollably.  At this point all the girls should pile into the bathroom and giggle, at the unfortunate girl that could not keep her smoothie down.

Watch as girl numbero dose projectile vomit on to girl number 1’s back.

This will cause uproar in laughter, followed by girls 3-12 getting sick to their stomachs.

You will know the smoothies were an absolute success if all twelve girls are at home sick for an entire week due to food poisoning.  GOOD LUCK!


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