Friday, January 27, 2012

Another Adventure in Appliances - Humidifiers and why they suck.

Vicks Humidifier, Model # POS

I need a humidifier to sleep. Like I told the Walmart cashier when she asked me if I was sick (I was buying a humidifier) - "No, I'm a singer."


Someone call Mariah Carey, we have a diva on our hands.

The cashier then asked me to sing something, whereupon I replied with that classic comeback when someone is speaking directly to you: "Me?"

Yeah, they're not looking at anyone else, genius.

I didn't sing.


The first humidifier I bought was a Vicks one, don't even ask me for the model number because I really can't be bothered to go look it up right now, that's how sick of them I am. It stopped working after about a year. Just stopped. I noticed it was after a regular vinegar wash (you gotta do that for warm mist humidifiers to dissolve the minerals that collect around the heating unit).

[ugh I'm so tired. why am i writing right now? oh yeah coz i'm pissed]

So I bought a new one, same model, because I was pleased with the performance of the first and I figured hey why not give it another shot.

It broke - in the exact same way - in 3 months.

After very, very extensive research I concluded that humidifiers in my price range (:poor) are summarily sucky and all break after a few months no matter what. So after agonizing over my choices, I resign to the fact that the model I'd picked the last two times is really the best of the sorry bunch and I just have to make do with replacing it every so often.

I go to Target (yes, I return to the scene of the crime) and using my boyfriend's employee discount plus a $5 gift card I buy the same model again.

That was yesterday.

Today, I found my humidifier in a pool of water.

It. Leaked. Right. Through. The mechanical. Portion.

I could have died.

Amid repeated recitation of the word "Un-F***ing-Blievable. Un-F***ing-Believable," I pack the thing back up in it's box.

I drive to Target, open my purse and find that I left my wallet at home. Thank goddess I had paid for it in cash and had the receipt in my purse. Pissed that I couldn't buy a better (:more expensive) model because my credit cards are at home, I get my money and leave.

If you are noting a tone of restraint in my voice right now, it's because I am trying very hard not to stab my roommate who is responsible for taking my wallet out of my bag and not replacing it.

And now what do I do? Resign to sore throats all winter long? I mean even the $200 models have reviews that say they suck, and I know now to take those reviews seriously.

Why are we run by corporations? Such shoddy, shoddy corporations?

Don't answer that.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sri Lankan Bitter Gourd Salad (also known as bitter melon)

This is a traditional Sri Lankan dish. Frying the bitter gourd (aka bitter melon in East Asia) takes away the bitter taste (but beware that the dish has a sophisticated bitter undertone - the lime and tomato help with that).

I have never seen bitter gourd in a regular supermarket in the US. I buy mine at my local Patel Brothers, and I'm sure any local Asian market will have them. This is what they look like, raw:

They are about the size of a skinny cucumber pickle.

5 small/medium bitter gourds
1 small red onion, sliced very thin
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
2 green chilis, thinly sliced
lime juice
white vinegar to taste
kosher salt (or whatever kind you have on hand)

Slice bitter gourd into very thin circles/rings.

Deep fry in vegetable oil till crisp and till the vegetables darken.

Place bitter gourd on paper towels to soak up excess oil.

Sprinkle with kosher salt to taste.

Put in bowl and toss with tomato, onion, chili, vinegar and lime juice to taste.

Serve! It is traditionally served with white rice and curry dishes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Borders is closing

I went to Borders on Saturday. I won’t give you the long and harrowing details of how I tried to go on Friday in 100*F heat in a car with no AC only to find the location I picked had already closed and the traffic resembled that at a Yankees game.


I went to the Rockaway Mall location, and it was a sad sight:

Borders at the Rockaway Town Square Mall, Rockaway, NJ

Currently, everything is 10% off unless otherwise noted. They are selling the furniture as well since it is a liquidation sale. The employees on Saturday were visibly stressed but nice, and most seemed to be accepting this as something they knew would happen eventually. They were treating it like Christmas rush.

I managed to snag a cook book called “The Soup Bible” by Debra Mayhew for under $6, which was quite a deal. Everything else really wasn’t worth it, and I know the prices will tip down more and more as September approaches. I am definitely going back come August end to check out the deep discounts – 10% is really not much of a discount at all. I’m definitely only going to hit the cookbook section, and perhaps see if I can get any good-condition Harry Potter books, although I’m sure the latter will sell out very fast. Cookbooks usually cost too much to warrant me purchasing them and other books, cds and dvds are accessible at a little place I like to call “the library” for free.

I just wanted to share with anyone who may read this blog that there will be deals to be had at Borders soon, and it’s going to be great to find some good deals on cook books.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sri Lankan Pol Sambol (Sambal) recipe with fresh coconut

Pol Sambol (or sambal) is a spicy coconut mixture that is unique to Sri Lankan cuisine. And it's absolutely delicious. The flavor is very sharp and clean, and if you've only ever had coconut dishes that are sweet, you have to try this savory treat.

I took great pleasure in making this dish. It was my first time, although I'd grown up eating it. Thought I was a novice, it turned out perfectly which means this dish is very, very easy to make as long as you have the correct ingredients.

1 whole coconut
Red chile powder
1 small red onion, chopped
juice of 2 limes (more or less)
dried fish flakes (maldive fish which can be bought here)
1 thinly sliced small green chile*
curry leaves

Now the first thing you have to do is crack open the coconut which is no easy task. Find a heavy knife, one that you can whack against the nut. Use the back of the knife to give it some good, sharp smacks. If you can get it cracked, you can slide the tip of the knife in to pry it open.

If you can capture the coconut water in a cup, drink up! It's very good for you.

Then, you have to scrape the flesh out. This picture gives a good idea of how this works, and you can buy a coconut scraper online or at your local Indian food store, if it's good.

The scraper screws onto the side of a table, and then you crank away.

Mix in the chile powder (as much/little as you want). To get a healthy orange color, you have to put in quite a bit, so get a milder powder if you don't like too much hotness.

Mix in the lime, more or less according to your taste. Traditionally, Sri Lankan food is quite limey.

Add the chopped onion.

Add the sliced green chile and maldive fish (these are optional).

You may fry the curry leaves a little bit before you add them in, but this is not necessary. The curry leaves can be optional, but to me they make the dish authentic. In Sri Lanka, curry leaves are known as karapincha.

Pol sambol can be eaten with plain bread, and it's delicious this way. In this picture, you see it with dal curry (red lentils) and some crusty white bread.

*The chile I mean is not usually found in American grocery stores. It is small, slim and short, very spicy, and can be found in Indian markets.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Black Forest Cake: Beauty is only skin deep

Hello world! This post will be brief, because I have a backlog of posts that have been delayed by a semester (of awesomeness, I might add...3.9 GPA) and a lost camera.

Boyf and I made a Black Forest cake for my 24th birthday. The end result looked...ok in a picture, I suppose, but really not so great as a food item. The cake was dry, the filling was all wrong, and the icing was - I cringe to admit - plain old whipped cream with shaved dark chocolate. After making the cake and fixing and re-fixing the cherry filling, I was so over it that I just COULDN'T whip up real icing.

The filling was supposed to be sour pitted cherries. The novice that I am bought no sugar added cherry pie filling, thinking I could add sugar to my taste. When I got home, I realized "no sugar added" means "Surprise! we added Splenda instead." Gross. I cannot tell you how much I loathe Splenda. The after taste is one of the most vile flavors anyone can taste in their lifetime. So I went back out to the store and got normal cherry pie filling, but as I applied it to the cake I realized slowly that it was all wrong. I added frozen raspberries to make it more sour, but...the end result wasn't great. Well - lesson learned for next time.

The recipe I used was a generic Black Forest one I found online. It's been so long since my birthday, I can't remember where the recipe came from.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

An Unnatural Obsession with Kitchen Appliances

I excitedly made my way to Target with my $25 gift card in hand to buy a food processor. I had wanted one for a while, but hadn't really been able to justify buying one. I am also mostly broke. So, having received a gift card, I thought now was the time.

I walked the entire length and breadth of the store before realizing that the food processors were by the entrance where I had come in. This should have been my first indication of what kind of experience this would turn out to be.

I looked at all the models on display, and finally, after much thought (and little research which is unlike me), I selected the Ninja Master Prep. It reeked somewhat of infomercial (Magic Bullet anyone) and it wasn't a brand I recognized, but it looked promising and was on sale for $39.99. It had double blades, a pitcher and small container, and a top-loading motor. I made my way to the register.

It rang up for $45.99.

I stopped the cashier and explained to her the sticker said $39.99. She looked flummoxed for a bit, and I was holding up the line which I hate to do. Thank goodness a manager walked by. She said "just change it." I though, well gee, I could have said it was $10.00. But I didn't.

When I got home, I set it up and threw some cauliflower in to shred. WOW. It was amazing! The thing shredded beautifully, and I could pulse and control how small I wanted the pieces to be. When I threw some frozen fruit and ice into the smaller fixture, it pureed it to a perfect sorbet consistency within seconds. I was blown away. My old blender which couldn't even crush ice was demoted to the cupboard.

I immediately went to the interwebs to check reviews, which I usually do BEFORE I buy pretty much anything. The good reviews looked promising. I was a little nervous because there were a number of bad reviews which all said the same thing, and when the reviews match each other, it's usually a good bet that they are right. If the bad reviews are just a grab bag of different gripes, that indicates personal preferences not met. But in this case, most dissatisfied reviewers mentioned the gears stripping.

I went to sleep happy last night having shredded cabbage, cauliflower, and made sorbet.

Today, the gears stripped.

I was so upset. This machine could have been so great.

So...on my way to my first class of the semester, I stopped at Target, returned the Ninja, and because I got store credit, bought a blender that promised ice crushing ability. This Oster blender was also $39.99 and came in silver, black and red. I chose silver. While picking up the box, I noticed that the black blender box was bigger. I examined the boxes but found no difference in description, so off I went.

During the 2 hours I sat in class, ALL I could think about was whether the blender would work, and how upset I was that I didn't have a food processor for my cauliflower.

When I got home, I rushed to throw some ice in the thing and fire it up. It crushed my ice! When I threw in some frozen fruit - nothing. Just a regular, crappy, weak-ass blender. All the fruit sat on top while the blades spun.


WHAT is going ON here? In what world did Oster think this gimmick up? It was the same on Amazon, Walmart and all other stores I checked. Randomly, the black model comes with the little processor thrown in.

So guess what I'm doing tomorrow? I will be on Target's doorstep at 8am to exchange the silver for the black.

This whole fracas has robbed sleep from me. Kitchen appliances and food preparation can consume my being so completely. Maybe it's because not having the necessary tools make me afraid I will have nothing to eat, which is irrational. But If I have nothing to eat I am one unhappy person.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

To my girlfriend

I miss you. You were the first woman (girl; chick) I ever could call "friend" with such warmth in my heart. We have little in common but that one thing: and that one thing was the most important thing to me. I cried when I found that connection.

We drifted. I've written you secret letters, felt ignored, felt disturbingly like a jilted lover. I used to write about boys and true love. I was sixteen, eighteen, twenty. Now I'm twenty three and I've forgotten that kind of "love" and found this new one. It's deeper, more real and embarrassingly painful than that old pink goo ever was.

Where are you? You are in a throbbing metropolis, you are in a bakery, you are at a party, you are in a book. You are in a cloud of things that don't include me. It makes me sad.

I wish we were together again. I wish I was at your party.

Love always,