Saturday, November 28, 2009

V is for Cookie

Remember in the 1990s, the cool letter was "e"? E-mail, e-commerce ... It was 10 years ago; I can't remember more. Then we got to the 2000s, and now the cool letter is "i". I-phone, i-pod, i-nternet ... yup, couldn't think of any more.

During one epic flu in high school, I got the original "V" from Blockbuster. It was okay, although I think I slept through a lot. I was pretty excited to see the remake, and I'll probably keep watching it. Anyway, we're not talking about that particular V.

After we moved and found the local library, I decided I'd start reading more. I've been out of school long enough to no longer have a violent aversion to reading books, and there are just so many that I've wanted to read. When I was in school, I was mostly in the upper level English classes, which meant I had to read some truly dense books, but not the ones everyone else knows and loves. (Have your high school English syllabus handy? Send it to me!)

The Book

One of the books on my list happens to be "V for Vendetta." If you're more in the know than I was, you'll laugh. Yep. Because it's a comic book. When I picked it up off the library shelf, it fell open a little and I saw pictures. I was too embarrassed to let the hold lapse, so I checked it out and off I went. With my comic book.

I've read maybe one comic book in my life. I think it was the one where Superman died. (Can you believe that has it's own wikipedia page?) Comics always struck me as kind of weird, although I often watched the after-school cartoons based on comic book heroes.

It wasn't a difficult read, I guess in the sense that it didn't take long. The story was very complex, and I was constantly confused. There were so many characters! They all looked the same! There were no descriptions of what was happening, what characters were thinking ... just pictures. And some of it was pretty horrific. And I'm not really in to political statements. So I resolved not to like it.

But, in all honesty, it was a good book. Abundant messages in a book are easier to swallow when you agree with them, right? I'd had the recent movie on our Netflix queue for a while, and I wanted to see the movie while the book was still fresh, so I moved it up.

The Movie

The movie is immediately different from the book. There, I blew it for you. But the changes to the storyline made perfect sense; the original story wouldn't have flown with the general moviegoing public (including me!). And, being done by those Matrix guys, there were points in the movie that were very visually striking without overdoing the bullet time effect.

I can't say which I liked better because they both had good and bad points. But it was far easier to follow the storyline, even if it was somewhat different. I liked what the character V was in the book much more than the movie (he kind of struck me as a superhuman troublemaker in the movie). The movie was less political and cut out a lot of the scary/gory parts. But the book had more storyline that I liked!

Remember in high school when you'd read a book, and then the teacher would wheel in the TV and you'd watch some cheesy 1960s movie version? This was sort of like that but awesome and not cheesy. I've been missing out all these years!

I have a couple more books from my list on order at the library. If you're in Los Angeles, let me just mention that the public library is amazing. They'll order or pull books for you, and let you know when they're ready to be checked out. All for free*! If you're not in LA, you should probably still poke your head in your local library. I'll bet they're just as awesome, even if you're looking for a comic book.

*I pay taxes, OK? I'm just getting the most I can out of my 9.25%.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Eggplant Parmesan

Fall and winter are the best time for squash. Now that we're well in to November, I'm seeing a lot more at our grocery stores.

Did you know that eggplant isn't a squash, but a berry? And it belongs to the nightshade family, like tomatoes? I am a font of useless knowledge.

Regardless, I got so excited at the store that I picked up the biggest eggplant I saw. Yes, I get excited at the grocery store.

Last year I was all about making ratatouille. No offense to that, but the zucchini wasn't looking quite there yet. How about eggplant parmesan?

That large eggplant yielded me this. Barely enough to fit on my largest baking sheet! I threw two slices of toasted bread, garlic, and "pizza spice" in the food processor for a couple of pulses. Don't be fooled by how seemingly few breadcrumbs are needed; this came out to be just the right amount. Also, don't forget to blot and dry out the eggplant. I did, and it was sort of mushy.

I added the cheese in the last few minutes of baking until it got gold and crispy. A longer bake time probably would have solved the mushiness problem.

The spaghetti was probably superfluous, since I had two "steaks" the next day for lunch and that was more than enough food.

And this dinner is vegetarian! It seems like all the blogs I've been reading lately have been considering vegetarians during a holiday that's traditionally all about a giant turkey. I don't know any vegetarians or vegans (do I?), but meals like this sure do make it seem like a fine lifestyle!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lemony Garlic Chicken

When I was in college, I had a standard Thursday routine.

Thursdays used to be "good TV" night. Friends was still on, Scrubs was a new show, and Will & Grace was still funny.

I'm feeling a little old now.

With Thursday night TV came Thursday night dinner. I'd make chicken on my little George Foreman grill and coat it in lemon pepper seasoning. Then I'd make some variation of Pasta Roni, throw in some frozen broccoli. Voila! This dinner landed me a husband (many, many years later). Now, of course, I realize that eating an eight-ounce chicken breast and an entire box of Pasta Roni in one sitting isn't the healthiest.

I'm all about making stuff in the slow cooker later, so I was a little nostalgic when I read SparkPeople's Lemony Garlic Chicken recipe. Mmm. Can't go wrong with garlic, lemon, and chicken.

The mysterious "pizza spice" made an appearance in this recipe since I don't happen to have any oregano. I actually have a giant jar of parsley because I thought I was buying cilantro. Yup. Easy to confuse.

This would have been so awesome with Pasta Roni.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

South Beach

Yes dears. It seems that somewhere between the summer and fall, I gained some weight. This pan of mini-quiches could only mean one thing: it's diet time.

Before you get all critical on me, hear me out. There are some good things about the South Beach diet. One being you get to eat these for breakfast, and they're really good. They suggest dinners like grilled salmon and veggies with butter, if you like it like that.

Most people don't get enough protein in their diet, anyway. I eat a lot of salads for lunch, so that's not really a major life change.

Yes, I'm aware that you don't "lose belly fat first." You lose water weight. But it gets rid of that icky bloaty feeling, and that's nice. If you're a total bread-addict, it can help break the craving (seriously!).

We won't discuss how long I lasted. We'll just say I thought about it a little more.

I like having warm oatmeal for breakfast. This is a very good, healthy thing. And even though exercise apparently doesn't help you lose weight, it does something good. Eating too much meat can be rough on your digestive system, and really not good if you're limiting fat. Then there's the holidays. It's downright rude to turn down a beautiful cookie or a perfect piece of cake this time of year.

And I love to bake. Bakers just don't do diets.