Thursday, January 21, 2010

As if guys need more reason to get competitive.

My current Facebook status of January 21, 4:53pm (GMT +8) currently references my mixed feelings towards the article "Cooking Made Manly" on Slate's site doubleX. I'm not appalled that the site is featuring this article, I'm appalled that this magazine exists. I understand that food politics is gendered in its discourse but to have a whole magazine dedicated to the need for "men to beat women at their own game" in cooking? It's ridiculous.

Look at the title. Beef. Beef has always been gendered as a masculine food. It seems that in popular culture, men are maligned a lot more than women are if they declare themselves vegetarian. In the same vein, it would seem that men are always the one taking over the BBQ while the kitchen tends to remain a woman's domain. Look at the Food Network for crying out loud! From my own knowledge of the network, pretty much all of the shows dedicated to grilling meat are helmed by men. Women still have the usual baking and entertaining shows.

Who also says that women always want their recipes "easy" and that they don't care about pressure in espresso makers or how the bison was fed or the sharpness of Japanese knives. If any of these "men" had watched an episode of Martha Stewart they would realize how wrong they are.

Finally, on the point of being able to get a girl into bed by cook? Ha. I fully expect any guy I date to be able to cook. A guy making me a gourmet meal will not get me into a his bed, but not being able to cook will definitely decrease his chances of a second date.

There is so much more to say but I'm done ranting.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Fabulous Christmas Dress

I should have posted this about, oh I don't know... a month ago but I was preoccupied. Here is my delightful Christmas dress.

It's purple and has rosettes around the bust and the skirt is tulip style (not captured in this pic). What's not to love?! I might be a bit fuzzy in this pic, but really, it's all about the dress.

Lemon Meringue Sky

One of the first things I did when I arrived in Manila to begin my extended vacation was to go and buy my favorite Filipino style brioche buns. While at their cafe/bakery, I noticed that they had increased their offering to other goodies such as brownies, cookies and lastly, lemon squares. Being a fan of lemony desserts I bought a small box of them and couldn't wait for the tangy lemon burst. Alas, it was not to be. The square was fluffy instead of a curd on top of a cookie base, and was too sweet for my taste buds. Most disappointingly of all,  it was lacking that distinct bright lemon flavor I was looking forward to.

Fast forward a month and I'm still thinking about lemony desserts. As far as I was concerned, there were three possibilities to satisfy my lemon craving: lemon bars, tart au citron or lemon meringue pie. I hadn't made any of them but I'm a good baker, how hard could it be?

Thanks to the a dinner at home, I was tasked to make a Lemon Meringue pie for dessert. It would be a nice ending to a 'fusion' dinner of roast beef and paella; surf and turf Pinoy style I'm told. I really think it's just my family's style.

So off I went. The curd was incredibly easy to make. Everything got stirred together off the heat and then was placed on the heat to cook up and become shiny and gelatinous. It's actually quite amazing watching it come together. The recipe I used said to whisk the mixture over heat until it was thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon; pretty standard. However, standing over a hot stove in the late afternoon was not fun. Waiting for the curd to thicken up felt like forever. I felt as though I just kept whisking and checking, whisking and checking. No thickening to be seen. Then all of a sudden, everything came together. The curd was thick, it was bubbling around the edges and I could see the streaks of where my whisk had just gone through the mixture. Beautiful. All done.

The crust on the other hand was a different story. I had made a pie crust for our Xmas dinner Pecan Pie so all I had to do was thaw it. As usual, I stuck it in the fridge to thaw. That was a mistake. It didn't thaw as quickly as I had hoped. So, I stick it in our fancy oven for some convection style thawing. This time is came out too soft and I had to semi-roll it and then stick it back in the freezer to firm up. The key to a good and flaky crust is to make sure your ingredients are as cold as possible. So if you are rolling out a room temp crust, the butter will already be too soft and won't melt properly during baking, thus giving you the requisite flakiness.  My pie dough went in and out of the freezer too many times to count. I was so paranoid that I would end up with a tough crust. You can imagine my relief when I finally put the crust in the oven. Unfortunately, our ovens at home don't seem to like browning crusts too much so I ended up with a somewhat pale crust. Oh well.

Finally! Curd was poured into the crust and popped into the fridge to set, and I get to forget about it for a couple of hours. The last step was the meringue which was super easy with my Mom's high powered Kitchen Aid mixer. I swear, that thing is older than I am and I have made many many cakes with that workhorse.

Meringue piled high (maybe too high) on the pie, back in the oven for some browning and we're good to go! Yes, it was bright, tart, sweet and lemony all at the same time with the light sweetness of the meringue for balance. Mission accomplished.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Is there anything Up there?

I finally watched "Up" before Xmas and it was everything I hoped it would be. Funny, heartwarming and a bit farcical. Fave bit? The talking dog of course! I could quote Dug all day. Actually, I have already quoted him on multiple occasions just because I can.

The biggest 'shocker' of the movie for me is that Russel is supposed to be Asian and I seem to be the only person on this planet that did not realize this. I had a discussion with my Mom and sister about this, me insisting that he isn't and they insisting that he is and that it is oh-so-obvious. To me, Russel was just a kid. His ethnicity didn't even cross my mind. Upon a second watching it became a lot clearer. The more yellowy skin tone when compared to Mr. Fredricksen and his eyes are more slanty than the people around him.

I now know that Pixar based the image of Russell on one of their illustrators that is of Vietnamese origin and that the kid that voices Russel is Japanese. I've also read that Pixar has been given mad props for their non-stereotypical depiction of an Asian character and that their use of an Asian actor to voice him too.

So with all of this said, how could I have missed it?!?! I'm just going to say that I was so involved in the story and that the ethnicity of the characters is really of no concern to me. Oh how post-modern of me.