Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My Ghetto Booty goes Lucky

Get your mind out of the gutter! My title is not meant to be a double entendre. I thought about going for 'My Ghetto booty gets Lucky' or 'Getting Lucky with my Ghetto Booty', but I thought that would be even worse. What I really mean is that I have found the most fabulous pair of jeans, which is even more amazing because I have what my sisters and I refer to as a 'ghetto booty' (a.k.a a bubble butt). Finding jeans that fit right in the legs and still has room for my bum has always been a challenge for me. The few pairs of jeans I do own have been with me for at least five years, and let me tell you, they are not looking so hot. What's worse is a couple of weeks ago I lost a load of laundry at the laundry mat (either by theft or my own thoughtlessness, and knowing me it was probably the later), and this load of laundry had my one good pair of jeans left to me. I decided I had to do something about it, and I went shopping. As an undergrad, I never bought a pair of jeans over $40, and since my last jean purchase was roughly around the time of the last ice age, I decided I could afford to buy a really nice pair of jeans (read expensive here). I tried True Religion, Seven, and other designer jeans, and I was disappointed that none of them gave me the fit I wanted (plus I still couldn't bring myself to spend $200 dollars on a pair of jeans--there are children starving in Africa for crying out loud!). Then I remembered that my older sister swears by Lucky brand jeans, so I went to a local store and tried some on. Not only did they fit my bum, but they also came in long sizes and a number of styles with my personal fave being the flared. I have never been happier with a pair of jeans! The only down sides are that they are expensive (almost $100!) and you want to buy a size smaller, which feels tighter at the store but the fabric really loosens as you wear the pants. I'm so glad I got Lucky! Sorry, just had to throw that one in there one last time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Hot Sausage and Lentil Soup

I am a big fan of most of Rachel Ray's recipes because they quick, easy, and taste good, which is about all an amateur cook such as myself requires. This recipe is, of course, courtesy of Rachel Ray. I had a bag of lentils that I had absolutely no idea what to do with and was, I admit, a strange impulse buy on my part. I made it one weekend when my husband was out of town since anything that sounds remotely like a vegetable does not appeal to him, and I lived off of it all weekend without getting tired of it. I had it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (this was extreme and I would not advise it--I really like soups in general). I tend to alter recipes to fit my tastes, which can lead to some pretty bad meals, but this recipe still tasted great. I put the changes I made in bold below.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
1 1/2 pounds bulk hot Italian sausage
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped (you can leave these out if you don't like onion)
2 portobello mushrooms, gills scraped out, chopped (I hate mushrooms so I didn't add)
1 cup pre-shredded carrots, available in sacks in produce department of the market
1 cup lentils
1 large starchy potato, peeled and chopped (I think the lentils are enough so I didn't even add potato. Besides, they are pretty bland tasting, and I think they dilute out the flavor)
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (or substitute a mix of 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika and 2 pinches cayenne pepper) (I used the substitute mixture and it tasted great!)
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, in tact on stems
1 (14-ounce) can fire roasted chopped tomatoes, such as Muir Glenn or, regular diced tomatoes (I used regular diced, but if you want spicier go for the fire-roasted)
6 cups chicken stock
4 cups kale or chard, a small bunch, veins removed and chopped (I didn't add this because I couldn't find it in my supermarket)
Crusty pumpernickel bread, to pass at table
Butter, for bread

Heat a medium soup pot over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, then add sausage to pot and brown and crumble it, then add garlic, onions and mushrooms. Cook a few minutes, then add carrots, lentils, potato, salt and pepper, bay leaf, paprika or substitute mixture and rosemary (leaves will fall from stems as stoup cooks). Add tomatoes and broth and cover pot then raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Uncover pot and place heat back a bit but keep stoup at a good rolling boil. Cook 15 minutes until lentils and potatoes are tender. Wilt in greens in small bunches, remove rosemary stems and turn off heat. Let stand 5 minutes (or even longer since some of the lentils were still somewhat firm; I also boiled a little longer to get really soft lentils). Serve in shallow bowls with bread and butter to mop up stoup. Reheat leftovers thinning it with broth or water.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Cheap rent among other things...

Yes, finally I post something new! I'm sure almost nobody was waiting with baited breath, but here it is.

On my way to work every morning I pass by a maroon Cutlass sedan, which seems uninteresting in itself except that this car is completely packed with stuff. Clothes are stacked neatly in the back window, and every possible surface is covered with trash or cloth. Most mornings there are towels rolled up in the windows so you can't see into the back seat. After a couple of days in which the car never moved, I realized that someone actually lives in their car. Shock was my first response, but then I realized it's a great idea! Rent in Boston is so exhorbitant I'm sure I am paying the gross national product of some small third world country, or at the very least enough to feed several villages. If I lived out of a car, I would only have to pay $100/month for a residential parking permit, and I could park near my work, turning my hour commute every morning into a mere minute and a half. Fabulous! Since my husband and I have a four door pickup, we could hold dinner parties in the truck bed, and somebody must make a hot plate that can be plugged into the cigarette lighter. Even better, we can grill outside all the time. Now where would I keep all of my shoes...

I am bookless. I have no books to read right now, and I keep rereading books I all ready own. I've been so incredibly busy lately, I have not had time to go to the library. In lieu of a new book, I have been doing crossword puzzles on my way to work in order to keep my mind occupied (my mind would go crazy if I had nothing to do during my hour commute). Crossword puzzles are starting to really get on my nerves. There are somethings I am just never going to know, but how can I finish a crossword puzzle that has obscure hints like 'limerick writer - Nash' or 'Hell -'? Some days I do really great, and I almost finish a puzzle and revel in my vast knowledge. Some days I do really bad, and I barely get one out of every ten hints and curse my stupidity. Emotionally, I think books are just better for me, so if you have any suggestions let me know.

My husband and I are now the proud owners of a Toyota Tacoma. Driving a pickup in Boston is something I never thought I would have to do, but driving a pickup with a manual transmission seemed even less likely. Here I am, though, not only driving a pickup but trying to cope with a stick-shift as well. So far I have not killed it at any crucial moments such as in the middle of an intersection or in rush hour traffic. I like to think that my dad taught me how to be a pretty smooth manual-transmission operator, but I'm still a little rusty. Cross your fingers for me!