Monday, September 3, 2007

Animal, Vegetable, Irony

I've been meaning to blog about the heat. But you know how heat can kill motivation. It's been 100F here (give or take 2F) for the last four days. When my car's thermometer showed 10 degress as I was leaving work the other day, I was thinking, "drat! it's busted" but it turned out that the final 1 was in the shade. Once I went around the corner, I was able to see the full 101 displayed. At 5:30pm. It's a little alarming just how late it stays hot. Last night it was 96F when I left at 7pm and 86F when I returned at midnight, full of birthday cake. The locals swear it's more humid than normal, which could explain the lingering hot.

But to my midwestern and northeastern skin, this is a dry heat. Aside from my contacts baking onto my eyeballs, I've been rather comfortable. (Granted, I do have central air. I'm not suffering.) I've purposefully parked myself by the pool, or in the pool, in broad daylight, and have felt just fine. I took a little walk around the neighborhood today and found that almost all the stores were shut for the holiday. I wonder how many made that decision only after finding out about the weather. Myself? I still like the weather.

Next up - Food.

Sometimes I like to cook, sometimes I want someone else to make things for me. Today I was having a "someone else do it" day. I'd had watermelon and my fresh cut cucumber salad earlier in the day and inexplicably wanted a big ol bowl of pasta. When will I learn that when I know what I want, I'll be less disappointed if I make it myself?

I went to the Mac.aroni G.rill. I'm not sure what to expect for a standard or a holiday monday there but I went at 6:30, not some weird off hour. The bartender was not really with it, when he bothered to stay behind the bar. So after I accidentally slid my hardcover book through leftover oil on the bartop, waited for a long while to even get someone to clean said bartop, I was a little testy. It didn't help that ordering was like pulling teeth. I don't think I looked that hostile, but maybe I did.

I asked for the bar to be wiped off so I could have dinner. He wiped off the bar and disappeared. Later it occurred to him that I might want a drink. I ordered water. (Yeah, not something predisposed to make a bartender love me, but it's been hot out.) After a while I got some water. At some point I asked if I could order. Duh! I'm not going to come to a restaurant bar with a book and just drink water. At this point it would have been faster and less messy to have waited 15 minutes for a table.

I wound up ordering the "make your own" pasta with mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, broccoli, and buffalo mozzarella over bowtie pasta with a tomato cream sauce. I had to beg for bread while I was waiting. I drank my water. My 'garden salad" of enormous hunks of iceberg lettuce and very little else (aside from the onions I picked off) was not really worth buying. Then my pasta showed up with fresh tomatoes instead of sun dried. Not quite the same thing. Barboy put in an order for sauted sundried tomatoes, and I toyed with my dish until they came, but it just wasn't right. Add to that the cream sauce was alarmingly oily, I had 4 tiny broccoli florets, and it was all very underwhelming.

So I sat there, reading a bit of "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" which is about eating local food, and ate food that probably traveled the globe twice over to become the pathetic disappointment in front of me. Next time I want pasta, I've just got to make it myself. It would have been cheaper, quicker, and better had I done so this time certainly. Including the shopping trip for broccoli, mushrooms, cheese and tomato sauce.

Then because of the book, I realized that I don't even know what the season is for broccoli, cucumbers, and mushrooms. I can find them all the time, and they never look better or worse than any other time. Do the farmers trick them into producing off season? Do they come from Chile? Heck, I barely trust the farmer's market to have stuff grown locally. I do wish I could find a source of yard-long beans which for all I know are in season now.


Alaskan Hellcat said...

Snap peas are in season here- and a friend dropped off a whole shiteload of them, which we promptly ate. Cukes are in season too- as for schrooms, I am not sure they have a season, being a fungus and all- and broccoli, can't help you there :).

But an easy pasta dish is:
Whipped Cream with toasted pine nuts and spinach and some smoked salmon- served over penne...

Up My Mind said...

I read that book this summer. Really liked it. Although it made my eyes open wide.

I just bought a fun cookbook, and they had this to say about oranges:

"Because most oranges are dyed to improve their appearance, don't judge an orange by it's color."

How wonderful is that? Not!

trudy said...

I grew herbs (oregano, rosemary, sage, cilantro, dill, thyme and basil, basil, basil) and tomatoes.

Have so enjoyed the fresh herbs on just about everything, especially salad, and grew them in a container. What a difference!!! I have to make some more pesto, hope to this weekend.

My easy pasta dish: take a healthy portion of olive oil and saute as much garlic as you like (I use about 6+ cloves that I've put in a garlic press)...just till cooked but not brown. Then I add either herbs (can you say basil?) or veggies that I have on hand....or just stick with the garlic and olive oil on cooked pasta....throw on some parmesan cheese and you have heaven (and bad breath)

CrankyOtter said...

There's very little that fresh basil on pasta cannot cure. One summer my mom grew a veritable hedge of basil: purple, globe, regular, and one other. You could smell it everywhere and not everyone thought it was great like we did.

Mmmm. Snow peas. And Cukes. Also favorites of mine. Had to make some pasta with pine nuts for dinner tonight and skipped the regular cuke salad.

For oranges, I look for the shallowest dimples because it means their rind is thinnest. And then heavy for their size, but that's all I got. Now that I know they dye them, I might not be so fired up to go for color though.