lundi, juin 28, 2010

five-spice spareribs with hoisin-honey glaze

These phenomenally tasty ribs are pretty easy to make. Serve with rice salad with sugar snap peas and mint.
6 lbs pork spareribs (2 racks)
1 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup honey
3 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Season ribs generously with salt and pepper, roast on rimmed baking sheet until tender, about 1-hour.
  3. Meanwhile, combine and simmer the next 7 ingredients in a small saucepan until reduced to 2 cups, about 20 minutes.
  4. Brush sauce onto ribs and roast until well glazed, about 20 minutes.
  5. Cut into individual ribs and serve with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with chopped green onions.
Adapted from Bon Appétit, June 2005

rice salad with sugar snap peas, mint, and lime

1 1/2 cups rice
2 cups water
2 cups sugar snap peas
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped green onions
3 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP fresh lime juice
1 TBSP pureed fresh ginger
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Boil water and 1 tsp salt. Stir in rice, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes, fluff with fork and cool completely in a large bowl.
  2. Steam peas for 4 minutes. Add to cooled rice.
  3. Mix remaining ingredients and pour dressing over peas and rice.
Yield: 6 servings

Adapted from Bon Appétit, June 2005

vendredi, juin 25, 2010

lemon bars

I made these lemon bars last week and they were a hit. I modified the recipe, using half all-purpose flour and half cake flour. I made the thinner lemon layer and think that I will go for the thick one next time around.
Lemon Bars
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

These are bold and tart lemon bars, ones I feel are best in smaller doses than Ina Garten suggests. I’ve made a few changes to the recipe–increased the salt in the crust, reduced the sugar in the lemon filling and an encouragement to grease your pan, as mine were all but cemented into their non-stick pan. For those of you who like the 1:1 crust to lemon layer ratio, use the second option.

For the crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the full-size lemon layer:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

[Or] for a thinner lemon layer:

4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (3 to 4 lemons)
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup flour

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the lemon layer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes (less if you are using the thinner topping), or about five minutes beyond the point where the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

i don't: the case against marriage

Having been down the aisle once (and divorced a few years later), I don't feel the emotional need to go there again. To be sure, my relationship with Leo is completely different than my relationship with my ex-husband. Part of it is because I am different, and part of it is because ours is an infinitely more compatible and egalitarian partnership than any other I've experienced.

The financial element also screams for us to remain unmarried. Until I know the outcome of my short sale (and have a few years to put it behind me), it is much better to not share a credit score or to have our finances legally enmeshed.

I'm not completely ruling marriage out (someday). But I don't see us getting married any time soon. And that's not about fear of commitment. (Deliberately planning our pregnancies and raising a child together are not for the commitment-phobic.) Anyhow, this article neatly summarizes many of the reasons why we've chosen not to marry at this point.
'I Don't': The case against marriage.
by Jessica Bennett and Jesse Ellison
June 11, 2010

Every year around this time, the envelopes begin to arrive. Embossed curlicues on thick-stock, cream-colored paper ask for “the pleasure of our company” at “the union of,” “the celebration of,” or “the wedding of.” With every spring, our sighs get a little deeper as we anticipate another summer of rote ceremony, cocktail hour, and, finally, awkward dancing. Sure, some weddings are fun, but too often they’re a formulaic, overpriced, fraught rite of passage, marking entry into an institution that sociologists describe as “broken.”

Once upon a time, marriage made sense. It was how women ensured their financial security, got the fathers of their children to stick around, and gained access to a host of legal rights. But 40 years after the feminist movement established our rights in the workplace, a generation after the divorce rate peaked, and a decade after Sex and the City made singledom chic, marriage is—from a legal and practical standpoint, anyway—no longer necessary. The two of us are educated, young, urban professionals, committed to our careers, friendships, and, yes, our relationships. But we know that legally tying down those unions won’t make or break them. Women now constitute a majority of the workforce; we’re more educated, less religious, and living longer, with vacuum cleaners and washing machines to make domestic life easier. We’re also the breadwinners (or co-breadwinners) in two thirds of American families. In 2010, we know most spousal rights can be easily established outside of the law, and that Americans are cohabiting, happily, in record numbers. We have our own health care and 401(k)s and no longer need a marriage license to visit our partners in the hospital. For many of us, marriage doesn’t even mean a tax break.

The numbers are familiar but staggering: Americans have the highest divorce rate in the Western world; as many as 60 percent of men and half of women will have sex with somebody other than their spouse during their marriage. Maybe it’s a testament to American crass consumerism, but despite those odds, we still manage to idealize the ceremony itself, to the tune of $72 billion a year. Weddings are the subject of at least a dozen reality shows; a Google search for “bridezilla” turns up half a million hits; and there are four different bridal Barbies. Fifty years ago we had Grace Kelly, resplendent and demure in her high-necked lace gown. Today it’s Britney Spears in a custom-embroidered Juicy Couture tracksuit (and separated within a year, to nobody’s surprise). So when conservatives argue that same-sex couples are going to “destroy” the “sanctity” of marriage, we wonder, wait, didn’t we already do that? “Social science tells us fundamentally that this system is not working,” says Curtis Bergstrand, a sociologist at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., who has written on marriage. Having donned our share of bridesmaid’s dresses, and toasted dozens of nuptials, we’ll take reason over romance. Happily ever after doesn’t have to include “I do.”

Before we get into specifics, a caveat: check with us again in five years. We’re in our late 20s and early 30s, right around the time when biological clocks start ticking and whispers of “Why don’t you just settle down?” get louder. (We’re looking at you, Lori Gottlieb.) So just as NEWSWEEK will never live down its (false) prediction that 40-year-old single women were more likely to be “killed by a terrorist” than to marry, we permit you, friends and readers, to mock us at our own weddings (should they happen). Current data may not yet identify our feelings as a so-called trend, but they certainly show we’re on to something: the percentage of married Americans has dropped each decade since the 1950s, and the number of unmarried-but-cohabiting partners has risen 1,000 percent over the last 40 years. At 28 for men and 26 for women, the median age at which Americans are marrying is at its highest point ever—and even higher among our cohort of urban and educated. Turns out that waiting is a good idea: for every year we put off marriage, our chances of divorce go down.

Which brings us to this question: if you’re going to wait, why do it at all? Like a fifth of young Americans, we identify as secular. We know that having children out of wedlock lost its stigma a long time ago: in 2008, 41 percent of births were to unmarried mothers, more than ever before, according to a Pew study. (Older, educated mothers make up the fastest-growing percentage of those births.) And the idea that we’d “save ourselves” for marriage? Please. As one 28-year-old man told the author of a new book on marriage: “If I had to be married to have sex, I would probably be married, as would every guy I know.” Even the legal argument for tying the knot is easily debunked. Thanks largely to the efforts of same-sex-marriage advocates, heterosexual couples have more unmarried rights to partnership now than ever. And for the rights we don’t have—well, “if you have enough money,” says Jennifer Pizer, a senior attorney at the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, “you can pay lawyers to litigate just about anything.” To put the icing on the cake, it often pays to stay single: federal law favors unmarried taxpayers in almost every case—only those whose incomes are wildly unequal get a real tax break—and under President Obama’s new health plan, low-earning single people get better subsidies to buy insurance. As Diana Furchtgott-Roth, writing for the Hudson Institute, put it, “Goodbye, marriage.” As of 2013, “unwed Americans may find it even more advantageous—financially, anyway—to stay single.”

To tell you what you already know, the American family is in the throes of change. Gone are the days of the nuclear nest; in its wake is a motley mix of single parents, same-sex couples, and, yes, unmarried monogamists. Anthropologist Helen Fisher, who studies the nature of love, might say that’s a symptom of our biology: she believes humans aren’t meant to be together forever, but in short-term, monogamous relationships of three or four years. For us, it’s not that we reject monogamy altogether—indeed, one of us is going on six years with a partner—but that the idea of marriage has become so tainted, and simultaneously so idealized, that we’re hesitant to engage in it. Boomers may have been the first children of divorce, but ours is a generation for whom multiple households were the norm. We grew up shepherded between bedrooms, minivans, and dinner tables, with stepparents, half-siblings, and highly complicated holiday schedules. You can imagine, then—amid incessant high-profile adultery scandals—that we’d be somewhat cynical about the institution. (Till death do us part, really?) “The question,” says Andrew Cherlin, the author of The Marriage-Go-Round, “is not why fewer people are getting married, but why are so many still getting married?”

The feminist argument against marriage has long been that it forces women to conform—as Gloria Steinem once put it, marriage is an arrangement “for one and a half people.” No woman we know would date a man who’d force her into the kitchen—and even Steinem eventually got hitched—but we’d be fools to think we’ve completely shed the roles associated with “husband” and “wife.” Men’s contributions to housework and child rearing may have doubled since the 1960s, yet even among dual-earning couples, women still do about two thirds of the housework. (One study even claims that the simple act of getting married creates seven hours more housework for women each week.) In the workplace, meanwhile, women who use their partner’s name are regarded as less intelligent, less competent, less ambitious, and thus less likely to be hired. We may date the most modern men in the world, but we’ve heard enough complaints to worry: if we tie the knot, does life suddenly become a maze of TV dinners, shoes up on the coffee table, and dirty dishes? “The bottom line is that men, not women, are much happier when they’re married,” says Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina who studies marriage and family.

Since the early 1900s, the driving force behind marriage, along with procreation, was that women couldn’t land well-paying jobs: we relied on our husbands to survive. As recently as 1967, two thirds of female college students (versus 5 percent of men) said they would marry somebody they didn’t love if he met their other criteria—primarily, the ability to support them financially. But today, we no longer need to “marry up”: women are more educated (we make up nearly 60 percent of college graduates) and better compensated (urban women in their 20s actually outearn their male peers). We are also the so-called entitled generation, brought up with lofty expectations of an egalitarian adulthood; told by helicopter parents and the media, from the moment we exited the womb, that we could be “whatever we wanted”—with infinite opportunities to accomplish those dreams. So you can imagine how, 25 years down the line, committing to another person—for life—would be nerve-racking. (How do you know you’ve found “the one” if you haven’t vetted all the options?) “We’ve entered the age of last-minute tickets to Moscow, test-tube children, cross-continental cubicles and encouraged paternity leaves,” write the authors of The Choice Effect, about love in an age of too many options. The result, they say, is “a generation that loves choice and hates choosing.”

Which means that when we do tie the knot, we do it for love. Young people today don’t want their parents’ marriage, says Tara Parker-Pope, the author of For Better—they want all-encompassing, head-over-heels fulfillment: a best friend, a business partner, somebody to share sex, love, and chores. In other words, a “soulmate”—which is what 94 percent of singles in their 20s describe what they look for in a partner. Yet the idea of a “soulmate” is still a pretty new concept in our romantic history—and one that’s hard to maintain. Measurements of brain activity have shown that 20 years into marriage, 90 percent of couples have lost the passion they originally felt. And while couples who marry for love are less “in love” with each passing year, one study found that those in arranged marriages grow steadily more in love as the years progress—because their expectations, say researchers, are a whole lot lower.

So while little girls may still dream of Prince Charming, they’ll be more likely to keep him if they don’t expect too much. Research shows that the more education and financial independence a woman has—in other words, the more success she has outside the home—the more likely she is to stay married. (In states where fewer wives have paid jobs, for example, divorce rates tend to be higher.) But when these egalitarian, independent couples decide not to marry at all, they lose none of that stability. Just take a look at couples in Europe: they’re happier, less religious, and more likely to believe that marriage is an outdated institution, and their divorce rate is a fraction of our own. Not being married may make it slightly easier to walk away—at least legally—but if you’ve gone to the lengths to establish a life together, is it really all that different? Studies show that never-married couples with the intention of forever are just as likely to stay together as married ones. And for all the talk of marriage being good for families, a study of the Scandinavian countries—where a majority of children are born out of wedlock—found that kids actually spend more time with their parents than American children do. Work and living habits surely factor into that reality, but the point is this: what’s good for children is stability. The decline of marriage “doesn’t have to spell catastrophe,” says Stephanie Coontz, the author of Marriage, a History. “We can make marriages better and make nonmarriages work as well.”

It may counter what we grew up thinking, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. With our life expectancy in the high 70s, the idea that we’re meant to be together forever is less realistic. As Hannah Seligson, the author of A Little Bit Married, puts it, there’s a "new weight to the words ‘I do.’ " Healthy partnerships are possible, for sure—but the permanence of marriage seems naive, almost arrogant. "Committing to one person forever is a long time," says Helen Fisher. “I wonder how many people really think about that.” If you’re anything like us, you’ll have plenty of time to do just that—while you’re sitting in the pews, at other people’s weddings.

Jessica Bennett and Jesse Ellison blog frequently on women's issues at The Equality Myth. You can find Bennett on the Web or on Twitter; Ellison can be reached via her Tumblr.

dimanche, juin 20, 2010

i came to sell you this chick magnet of a couch

Today, Leo and I decided to tackle a biggie on the "to-do-before-the-baby-arrives" list: finding a bigger couch for our new house. Naturally, we checked out Craigslist, Yelp, and a few other online resources to adjust our price expectations, see what was out there, and come to a decision.

Although we didn't purchase this gentleman's "seven foot black leather scream of manliness," we did find just what we wanted. The nice part is that we bought it two blocks away, at a mom and pop mattress/ furniture store where I bought a bed frame 10+ yeas ago. Having said that, I still want to share what has to be one of the funniest ads for used furniture I've ever encountered. Enjoy.
I came to sell you this chick magnet of a couch. - $150 (Mira Mesa 92126)
Date: 2010-06-20, 1:34PM PDT
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]

This thing is a seven foot black leather scream of manliness. That's right bitches.

The only way it could be any more freakin' hardcore is if it had Harley Davidson incised in the leather.
A rare black narwhal gave it's life to provide the perfect baby soft buttery leather it wraps you in.

This big bastard shakes off beer spills and ugly chicks like the smartest horse any cowboy ever rode.
And after a long night of doing blow off the butts of the hookers lounging across its arms, it's a comfy dream to pass out on.
Sleep in it's leathery goodness, and you will wake up with a game controller in one hand, and a bacon sandwich in the other.

Perfect for guests. Just pull out the bed for them, and they will never want to sleep on it again. If Torquemada designed a bed this would be it.
It's like you ripped its skeleton out, then tried to organize the bones into something comfortable to sleep on. Maybe with six inches of air mattress.
So if you actually want your guest to stay another night, leave this thing folded up into it's optimum comfy configuration.

Don't even think about getting this couch if you're married. Your wife will take one look at it and know it's hottie attraction powers instantly.
And it will end up sitting in the garage, hidden from her insane jealousy until you move, and she insists you sell it.

Really. I know. Wayne -

Black. Leather. Sleeper. Sofa. Couch. Conversion.
You came here because you were looking for one or more of the above words.

* Location: Mira Mesa 92126
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

image 1801870182-0 image 1801870182-1

PostingID: 1801870182

dimanche, juin 06, 2010

bison and red wine shepherd's pie

We've made this a few times and love the way the smoky bacon, cheesy potatoes, hearty bison, and tasty vegetables come together. Since we're prepping for the birth of our little boy, we opted to make this as one of the items to put in our deep freezer this weekend. It will keep well and is sure to satisfy when autumn hits and neither of us has the time or energy to cook.


1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 lbs pounds ground bison
1/3 lb rindless slab bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons (or more) olive oil (we omit this and just cook the bison in the bacon grease)
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup peeled chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup corn
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups dry red wine (such as Syrah)
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

Mashed-potato crust:
5 lbs russet potatoes, peeled, quartered
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, beaten to blend

1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (we've also used sharp cheddar and English cheddar with caramelized onions)

For filling:
Whisk first 4 ingredients in large bowl. Add bison; toss. Heat large pot over medium heat. Add bacon; cook until crisp. Transfer to paper towels. Add 2 tablespoons oil to (or simply use bacon drippings already in) pot; increase heat to medium-high. Working in batches, cook bison until browned. Return to same bowl. Add chopped onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to pot; cover and cook until vegetables soften, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add wine; bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add broth, tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, sage, reserved bacon, and bison. Reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer until bison is tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Add peas and corn, remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.

For mashed-potato crust:
Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling lightly salted water until tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Drain. Return potatoes to pot; add milk and butter, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and mash until smooth and slightly cooled, about 2 minutes. Whisk in egg.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spoon bison filling into two 3-quart (13x9x2-inch) baking dishes. Spoon mashed potatoes over; smooth top to cover completely.

For garnish:
Beat egg and 1 tablespoon water to blend. Brush over potatoes, then sprinkle cheese all over.

Bake pie until top is browned and filling is heated through, 30 to 40 minutes (50 to 60 minutes if chilled). Let rest 10 minutes.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Alternatively, make the filling ahead of time and freeze it. Then make the potatoes the day of, assemble, and bake.

Adapted from Bison and Red Wine Shepherd's Pie by Bruce Aidells, Bon Appétit February 2010