I have been really lucky this week while working in Flushing, New York. The engineers and operators that I have been working with have taken me out to breakfast and lunch every day. Normally when I'm traveling for work, I spend a lot of time eating alone. This is something that I have really had accept to get myself out of the hotel, to stop ordering room service and to do comfortably.
It all started when I worked with my previous company eight years ago. I traveled 2-3 weeks out of the month to various clients. Normally I would be gone for an entire week. That meant a lot of meals out and a lot of eating by myself when the station wasn't up to taking me out or if I didn't know anyone in town. On my first couple of trips alone, I would eat at restaurants with bars. I would sit at the bar and chat it up with the bartender, if I could. As I got more comfortable with it, I would take a book with me to the bar. I would sit there, order a drink or two while reading my book and then have dinner.
Once I was comfortable sitting at a bar by myself, I moved to booths. This is key. Having a seat in a booth makes me feel more secluded and not feel like an eye-sore. If I get stuck at a table in the middle of a wide-open restaurant, I feel really awkward, even after all this time. I always try to ask for a table in a corner or on the side of the room. If the only table available is one smack in the middle of the restaurant, I'll still sit there but I won't be all that happy about it. I'll probably shove my nose deep down in a book and act like a 2 year old playing peek-a-boo (if I can't see you, you can't see me)!!
If I wasn't big into reading, I think eating alone would have been a lot harder for me. I don't sit still in silence very easily. I like to have something to occupy my time, at all times, whether it be another person, a book, a TV, my phone or computer. If I wasn't into reading, I probably would never have moved from the bar to a booth. At least at the bar, there are normally TV's to take your mind off of the fact that you are eating alone.
This week, while staying in Flushing, I went to the restaurant in the hotel for dinner on Monday and Wednesday nights. They asked me where I would like to sit. I looked around and there were some booths on the far wall of the restaurant. Not only were these booths, but they had fabric panel dividers that my waiter pulled down so it really was just a little nook to curl up in. There were even pillows on the booth seats! Here's a photo montage of last night's dinner in Flushing.
Sorry the photos are so dark, I don't have any good editing tools on this computer and I was trying out different settings on my camera so I wouldn't have to use a flash (thus drawing attention to myself).
Laughing at myself, taking pictures when the waiters weren't looking.
While eating out alone has gotten easier, it will never be something I am truly comfortable with. The positive side of things is that in the 8 years I have been traveling by myself, I have found servers at restaurants seem to have become more used to a woman walking into a restaurant by herself. The most awkward meals I have ever walked into were the ones where the host or waiter did not handle the fact that I was a party of 1 well. I have just learned to deal with that and know that they may not understand that some women travel alone. And it is totally OK!
"We need a temporary foster home for a week while Dawn is on vacation." That email came from one of the organizers of BTRNC in January 2007. Someone had found a bald, super skinny and sad Boston Terrier in their backyard and this little Boston needed a foster home.
Wait, let's back up. Did you read that? Found. In. Their. Backyard.
I still shake my head at this today. I asked Hops if he would mind if we fostered a dog for the weekend. He went along with it because it was something I really, really wanted to do. I met up with Jen, who was transporting "Demi" in Chapel Hill. She handed me a tiny, bald little dog that was shaking from the cold.
I placed a dog bed on the floor of the passenger side of the car. She was having none of that. After struggling to keep her on the floor for 5 minutes of the trip, I gave up. She crawled into my lap and was so small, she fit on my lap under the steering wheel.
She had no fur, other than a patch of white on her neck.
Her body was sticky to the touch, pink and horribly itchy.
We're not sure how long she was outside, looking for ...her home? A better home?
With no fur.
A comparison between normal Boston and no-hair Boston.
Turned out, the reason she was bald was because she had demodex mange. Thankfully it's not a contagious mange. It is a disease that stays in the system all through the animal's life, though. If the dog's immune system becomes compromised again, it could possibly resurface. We took her to the vet and she let us know that she was, other than the mange, otherwise healthy. She just needed someone to give her the many medications, keep her warm and give her lots and lots of love.
A few days after she had been home with us, we couldn't let go. I asked Roberta if she would let us foster "Demi." She agreed, Dawn thankfully agreed, as well. We just couldn't get over the fact that someone let her get in this shape - and then let her disappear from their lives! She was obviously young when she came home with us, her ears were still floppy and she hadn't had her first heat yet. We're guessing six months. It's just so painful to think about what a horrible condition she was in at such young of age. Some people really suck. That is all I have to say on that topic.
We took her to numerous vet appointments, bathed her three times a week (that was no fun because she hates baths) and tried to get some weight back on her. When she came into our lives, her weight was 9lbs. It's really difficult to get a standing still picture of a spunky Boston Terrier puppy. I feel like it's important to show just how bad things were when she arrived at our house.
For five months we fed her medicine, lots and lots of food and bathed her in medicated shampoo. We got help getting her house and crate trained, we learned that all she wanted to do was please us and she learned how to play. Yep, when she came to our house, she didn't know how to play. We would show her a toy, play with Clover and play with Raven (the cat). It took her some time but she finally figured out how to play. She started by trying to play with Raven. He would pounce at her and use his paws in play. She would do the same in return, banging her paws on the ground. She took that and did it to both Clover and us, to get us to play with her. Thus, after we were approved to go from "foster" to "adopted" parents, she got her name Thumper.
It's long, I didn't get around to editing it down.
By June, Thumper had a new name (we had been calling her by it for some time) and she was all ours. The mange did not affect her personality or her attitude. She has always been a super friendly, lovable, high energy dog. 4 years later, not much has changed. She's still a spit fire. She loves it when new people come to the house, wanting to lick their faces off. She gets so excited when Hops or I get home from work, she demands immediate attention. She's a big fat princess when it's raining or when the grass is wet. If it's raining, she won't go outside unless she's under an umbrella. Well, unless she really has to go. If the grass is wet, she'll strain against the leash, miserably walking through wet grass to do her business.
She loves nylabones and any toy you show her. She is tough on those toys, too. We have tried the toughest toys out there - Tuffy's. She has been through the turtle, the small octopus and now she is working on the Jr. 3-Way Tug. She finds the soft spot and digs in. When she has pulled every bit of stuffing out of the main section of the toy, then she goes after the seams.
Her health? Well, ever since she healed from the mange she had in 2007, she has not had a flare up. She's up to 18lbs - her goal weight. DOUBLE the weight she was when she was found. She's been one healthy and happy girl. We couldn't imagine our lives without her.
Sunday was a blur. I know that we went to church, went to Lowe's, came home and did...something. We were supposed to have "the 'athon." That would be "Watch all of the Harry Potter movies in one sitting 'athon." Didn't happen. Heck, we didn't even get one movie in. We dropped some plants around the yard (forgoing planting them in church clothes) and then went inside for lunch. After that, I have no idea. I probably wasted the whole day on the computer. Oh yeah, I did. I wasted it trying to get iTunes to read my books on cd so I could put them on my iPod. Note, I'm a big nerd who's listening to a book while writing this. Later in the evening, we went back out and planted the flowers and herbs that we had bought earlier in the day.
We got to sleep about 11pm Sunday night. I had a 5am wake-up call for my 7am flight to JFK. My 5am wake-up call came at 1am, courtesy of Mother Nature and our dog, Thumper. We had some massive thunder storms pass through in the middle of the night and they scared the crap out of us and our dogs. Thumper jolted up, jumped out of bed, tore through the cracked-open bedroom door and stood at the top of the gated stairs, barking her fool head off. At thunder. At 1am. When I had to be up at 5am.
Once she started barking, I grabbed Hops' arm and yelled, "Did you hear that??" Yes, he heard it. He also heard Thumper barking and me yelling at him, asking if he heard that. He loves it when I wake him up like that. I like thunder, don't get me wrong, I just don't like the stuff that rocks the house. Thankfully, we were both able to get to sleep again pretty quickly. I called Thumper back and snuggled her up in my belly to calm her down. She was happy. I figure at least now we know if we ever have a REALLY LOUD burglar, our guard dog will inform us of that fact.
So, 5am came early. At 5:30, I was out the door on the way to the airport. RDU has recently changed their gates all around. Now almost every single airline goes out of Terminal 2. On a Monday morning, I expected a slight delay. I did not expect it to take an hour to get through security. One Hour. That's ridiculous for RDU. We used to have such a quick airport. Then the TSA thought adding those horrid body scanners to the security line would be a great idea. Add that plus every airline known to man going through the same security line? Major delays. Thankfully our flight was slightly late so I got to the gate just as they started boarding.
Ok, so I'm done whining about my airline trouble. The flight was fine, got to JFK just fine and then directed my cabbie to Flushing. I've never been to Flushing before, it is a serious culture shock! I am bloated beyond belief because of the amount of sodium I have consumed from just my lunch today, but I can live with that. The station where I am working this week took me out to their favorite Chinese restaurant. They ordered a bunch of stuff I had never heard of before. I don't know the names of the dishes. I asked and they didn't know the English names for the dishes they ordered. I know we had some delicious and spicy greens, I think they were broccoli rabe, a pot of simmering broth with tofu and seafood in it. Fried tofu is delicious, btw. A plate of a brown mixture that looked like ... sludge. It tasted good, though. It was a combination of mushrooms, swordfish and ...tofu? Not sure on the other major ingredient. The last dish we shared was a meat plate. There was pork, chicken and duck. I wish I could have taken pictures of the food to remember it by....
By 6pm, my mind was toast. The operators were asking me to look at something, I was staring at one of our products, one I know like the back of my hand, and couldn't figure out what the problem was. I stood up and announced that my brain was mush and I had to go rest. They understood and sent me on my way. Actually, one of the engineers sent me to Red Mango. My second encounter with real froyo in 3 days. I think Big Apple Nosh has created a monster.
I've relaxed enough now. Listened to some of my book. I think I'll take my hard copy book (currently reading: Orange is the New Black: One Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman) and head down to the bar for some further relaxation.
If you made it this far in this blog post, congratulations. I think it was more of a brain dump than anything else. Sometimes you need those. Thanks for listening.
Last week The Kitchn popped up in my Google Reader with an interesting idea. Chocolate bacon turtles. They're just like your regular turtles - pecans, chocolate, caramel - but the zinger is the bacon. There is bacon in the turtle. Delicious. I decided I had to try them. I love all of the things that are in original turtles and I definitely like bacon. The best part of adding bacon to these treats is it adds that salty zing that surprises you and brings on one big fat smile, or maybe that's just me.
Start with some pecans. Toast them up in the oven.
Make some star shapes with them on a pan covered in parchment paper. Please don't do what I did. Don't use tin foil. The turtles WILL stick to the tin foil and they'll be stupid annoying to get off of the tray.
Make some caramel. Try not to burn your mouth when you taste it.
Pour the caramel on the pecans. I like mine oozing around on the tray. I love caramel.
Add a piece of bacon. If you want more flavor, layer the bacon pieces.
Heat up some chocolate and make chocolate turtle shells.
Preheat oven to 325ºF. Spread pecans on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes until toasted.
Fry the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate and let cool. Take five of the pieces of bacon and cut them into 1" sections. The sixth piece of bacon is for eating. You can't make bacon and not eat a piece, so says my husband.
Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or wax paper (don't use tin foil). Arrange 12 star-shaped pecan clusters on each cookie sheet using 5 pecans per cluster.
In small saucepan, combine heavy cream, butter, and vanilla extract. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat as soon as the mixture is boiling.
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to medium and cook sugar mixture, without stirring but swirling pan occasionally, until it is beginning to turn golden in color, about 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the sugar mixture making sure it does not boil over. Clip candy thermometer to side of pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture reaches 248ºF (firm ball stage), 10 to 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat and allow caramel to cool slightly.
Using a tablespoon, drop the caramel on the pecans, . Top each with one piece of bacon, pressing gently to adhere. (If caramel becomes too stiff to work with, reheat gently over low heat). Set turtles aside to cool, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Use a double boiler or fill a medium saucepan with 3" of water, bring to a boil. Place a metal bowl on top of the saucepan, make sure it does not touch the water. Reduce heat to Medium. Add the chocolate chips to the bowl and stir continuously until melted. Remove from heat.
Using a tablespoon, top each turtle with spoonful of melted chocolate. Use more if needed. Let the chocolate harden at room temperature. I placed these in the refrigerator overnight. They taste fantastic right out of the refrigerator or at room temperature. I mean, can you really go wrong with this combo?
On Thursday, we celebrated 8 years together. We got married in October 2010 but we just can't help celebrating the many years we spent together before we got married.
We met at a friends wedding in 2001, but we were thrown together 2 years later when we were both single. We were both friends with the couple that got married and they wanted to go to the beach for the weekend. They each invited a single friend with the intention of a fun weekend. Oh, it was fun all right. We went to the beach, drank, walked around Ocean City, drank, went out to a bar (guess what)? Drank some more. Also, I made a complete fool of myself singing karaoke. I made our friends snap pictures of Hops and me - awkwardly pretending I was just taking pictures to remember the weekend. Right. I really wanted to have a picture of the two of us together. No, I will not share those horribly embarrassing photos on the web. They're in print form and that's enough.
We got home from the beach on Sunday and I called Hops on Monday,to see if he wanted to meet up that evening. I didn't reach him, so I left him a message. The message went like this, "Uh, hi ... this is Jill? From this weekend? I was wondering if you were around tonight..." I'm really smooth. He did call me back and he was free and even after all of my awkwardness, he still wanted to hang out with me. We spent the evening together and had a great time. I had to leave on Tuesday to go back to New York, but that was the start of a long and wonderful relationship.
He still has the answering machine tape with that voicemail on it. <3
On our quest for dinner last night, we decided to get out of the house and try something new. We don't go out to eat that much and we hardly ever eat in downtown Raleigh. We ended up at Capital Club 16. Their prices were very reasonable and it got pretty good reviews on Yelp.
We walked in and were greeted by both a waiter who was walking by and a waiter who was grabbing menus from behind the host stand. Both people were very nice and the waiter who grabbed the menus let us choose our own table. The building was amazing. I love going downtown just to enjoy the old buildings. The ceilings were, I don't know, 20 feet high? There were windows that started at 10 feet and went up from there on the far side of the restaurant (it has a nice corner spot).
Our waiter was fantastic. He was attentive, helpful and friendly. He let us know that they had just changed their menu two days ago and there were a lot of new options on there. We let him know it was our first time there, so we wouldn't notice either way. :) We did take his suggestions on what to order. We received our drinks and then picked two appetizers to start. Homemade chips with an oniony sour cream dip and a sausage platter.
The red sausage was cheddarwurst. Mmmmmm. Delicious.
For dinner we both wanted the macaroni and cheese. It was made with Gouda, Jarlsberg and ...oh I forget the other cheese. But it sounded absolutely fantastic. It came with a salad on the side. I let Hops order the mac and cheese with the assumption that we would be sharing. Of course.
The "salad" was a mix of fruit and veggies. Very clever and had a perfect mild dressing mixed in.
I ordered the really interesting sounding Crispy Garden Salad. The first weird thing about me ordering a salad is I'm not a fan of salads. They're just not my thing. This dish called to me, though. I think it was the fact that it had crispy rice on the bottom. I love rice. Here is the description: Seared vegetables over crispy rice topped with a fried egg and served with a side of sweet and spicy paprika dressing. $11.
Both meals were fantastic. The side of dressing on the Crispy Garden Salad didn't really get used because I thought the skillet had enough seasonings on its own. The veggies included sweet potatoes, spinach, squash, zucchini, carrots, pickles(?!), sauteed onions and white asparagus. The rice was seasoned with thyme and rosemary. Dear lord, it was absolutely divine. I am so going to try recreating this at home!
This was the perfect dinner for our dating anniversary. This restaurant was definitely our type of place. Great food, good prices, friendly staff and a good drink selection. I definitely think we'll be back.
When we moved into our first house, I decided that we needed a dog. Yes, I decided. It took a while for me to convince my other half that it was a good idea, but we finally decided to go for it. We researched dogs for quite a while, trying to decide which breed would be best for us. We narrowed it down to two breeds:
The graceful Greyhound
The beautiful Boston Terrier
For a long time, we talked about getting a Greyhound. I pursued the local Greyhound rescue like a woman obsessed. I would find one, email the picture to Hops and then we would find something wrong with the dog. Our biggest fear was that the dog we picked would not get along with our cat. On that same note, the dog could not want to eat the cat. That would be bad. Most of the Greyhounds we found were definitely sight-hounds and were not cat-friendly. We finally decided that maybe the Greyhound just wasn't for us after all.
Once we eliminated the thought of the Greyhound, we started looking at Boston Terriers. I became a member of Boston Terrier Rescue of North Carolina (BTRNC) and filled out an adoption form. I spoke with some folks at BTRNC, got on their mailing list and stalked checked out their website every day a few times a week. One day, a co-worker told me she had seen a Boston Terrier posted on the Durham Animal Protection Societies website. I checked it out and found a sad and dirty looking dog on there.
The most pitiful picture I could find.
I'll admit it - I was taken immediately. For my lunch hour that day, I stopped by to visit her. Oh, she was so sweet. So sad and dirty and well, gross. But she licked my hand and we had some us time in a play room.
I went back to work and called Hops on the way. Told him about her. He looked her up. He approved. We had one last challenge in front of us - the cat. We still had Raven at home at the time so we had to make sure this new dog wasn't going to want to rip Raven's face off. The APS has an interesting way of testing aggression. They bring out their most docile cat and put her in a room. They take the dog to the cat, on a leash to see what she'll do. The little dirty Boston Terrier sniffed and was much more interested in seeing what was outside than what that cat was doing.
A few days later, Clover came home.
Very first picture at home
She was so sweet. She had some health issues, including a nasty area on her back that was missing a ton of hair. She was flea-ridden when she came to the kennel and an allergy had started because of that. She was not an attractive dog at this point, other than that beautiful face. To this day she hasn't grown a lot of that hair back, but she doesn't notice it's missing.
About a month after she came home - a lot of the scarring had cleared up.
She did turn out to have a bit of a complex with the cat. She enjoyed running him under the bed and snarling at him. That took some getting used to. So had some other issues that we have just learned to live with. It's hard to get a "perfect" dog when you adopt them without knowing their history. She has no front teeth, has an anxiety disorder (will not lay down in her crate and will go to the bathroom in the house if we leave her out of it when we leave the house). She eats anything she finds in the yard and if she sees a squirrel? See ya later.
Oh well. She's our dog, we'll love her no matter her issues.
When we adopted her, we were told she was around 2 years old. Six months later we took her in for a check-up and found she had heartworm disease. What a horrible treatment for a pet to go through. We never want to have to deal with that again and are protecting our pets against it, now that we can.
During Clover's treatment, she needed an x-ray due to a really bad cough. The x-ray gave us the reason for the cough - the heartworms were breaking up (gross). That was a good thing, though. We just had to make sure she didn't run around a lot or they could get into her lungs and all sorts of bad things could happen. The x-ray also showed that she's actually much older than we first thought. The doctor explained that her spine had started to fuse together and that only happens with age. This dog we adopted from the shelter, who we thought was 2 or 3, is really around 6 or 8 years old.
Clover has been with us for 4 years now and unfortunately, she's showing signs of her age. She's getting some early signs of cataracts in her eyes. She's not as fast as our other dog and she is acting a bit senile at times. Yeah, surprisingly dogs can become senile just like humans. When we notice these things, it makes us sad to think that we have so few years left with her. We know Boston's can live until they're 14, so that's what we're hoping for her. The good news is, like most things, there are expensive drugs to combat things like the senility. We'll do what we have to to make sure she's living the best life she can. Mostly we find she's just happy to be in a lap, on a couch or snoozing in the sun. That works just fine for us.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I decided we might like to put a screened in porch on the back of our house. We really enjoy being outside, but it's difficult with two dogs who like to get into things, read: eat stuff they shouldn't and run after anything that moves. We also have a bug problem. Mostly a tick problem. I'm not a big fan of sitting outside wondering if those nasty bugs are crawling up onto me, finding a warm hiding spot.
So, we started our search for ideas and pictures of what we wanted in a screened in porch. I have probably bored my friends on Pinterest to death with the amount of pictures of screened in porches and patios I have put out there recently (sorry)!!
Once we had a general idea of what we liked and didn't like, I started calling contractors. We decided we should have more than one quote for this work. The first person I called "Tom" (all names have been changed to protect the....fools) was willing to come out on Saturday and take a look at the area, help us figure out a design and give us a quote. After I set up that appointment with Tom, I called "Tim". I told Tim my name and he told me that he recognized my name. He shuffled around for a while and then told me that Tom had called him and said, "hands off". Apparently Tim and Tom used to work together at "MyTown Home Improvement". Tim continued to tell me that Tom did great work and if things didn't work out, then to feel free to call him but he was sure we would like Tom's work.
Tom came out to our house on Saturday and gave us his opinions, ideas and an estimate. We about fell over with the number that he threw out at us. His estimate was so high that the porch was going to cost almost as much per square foot as we bought our house for! We still asked him to send us a quote and we would be in touch. Saturday and Sunday all came and went. By Monday morning, we were a little peeved that Tom was taking so long getting us the quote. It finally came Monday evening - around 9pm.
If you owned your own company and wanted a job, wouldn't you go home and write up a quote then instead of waiting two days, plus? We weren't a fan of that and were happy that we decided we wouldn't be going with Tom, not just for the high numbers, but for the three day wait period, as well (what can I say, I'm all about customer service)!
On Tuesday, I called another contractor in the area. We'll call him "Ted". Ted had a lot of good ideas on his craigslist ad and I really liked his personality on the phone. I asked him if he could come out that evening to give us a quote and he could. He was even willing to come out later - to give us time to get home and get settled for the evening. Nice guy. As we were talking, he mentioned he had worked on a porch on our street (our street has a very uncommon name). I let him know the only screened in porch on our street was next door to us. That's when he told me he used to work for MyTown Home Improvement. Seriously? So, I told him about Tom's quote and that we couldn't afford it. He told me that was fine, he could work with our budget and still come out and give us his ideas/prices. Ps...no one will give you their square footage quote over the phone.
10 minutes later my phone rings. It's Tim. (Remember him? Said he wouldn't bid against Tom)? He said Ted just called him about the job and he didn't realize we lived next to another job he did. Ok. He then said he would be glad to come out and give us a quote since we were referred by our neighbor. We were? I told him that's fine and to tell me when he had time and we could set up a time then.
5 minutes after hanging up with Tim, my phone rings. It's Ted again. Ted called to tell me that ethically, he didn't think he could quote us on a job that is right next to another job that his good buddy did. He was going to have to let us work with Tim and back out of the job. He apologized for putting me through this rigmarole (my word) and wished us luck. He also told us if Tim didn't work out, to call him back. Of course.
After hanging up with Ted, I called Tim who didn't answer. I left Tim a message with two phone numbers. That was 24 hours ago. He still hasn't called back.
I don't think I want a screened in porch anymore...
A few weeks ago we went to Gravy in downtown Raleigh. We had been there once before - for our engagement party that my best friend threw for us. We loved the atmosphere of the wine cellar in the basement of the restaurant. This time we were seated in the basement again, in a nice quiet corner. We ordered a bottle of wine, an appetizer and two entrees. We decided to try the fried polenta as our appetizer. Neither of us had ever had polenta before, but anything fried has to be good, right? It was delicious. It came with a side of Gravy's signature "Gravy," their tomato sauce. The combination of the two blew us away.
I decided to try making the same polenta at home. I didn't want to deep fry it, so I tried two ways. First, I pulled together the very basic ingredients for polenta.
The recipe itself was simple - mince the garlic and shallots, saute in the garlic, add the broth, cornmeal and then the rest of the ingredients. Polenta is like risotto in that it demands constant attention. You have to stir the mixture every few minutes for 30 minutes. I found a recipe for polenta in The Professional Chef that I modified. I also found it didn't need the full 45 minutes to cook that the recipe called for. Perhaps that's because the recipe was cut into a third of it's normal size?
Once I had the polenta cooked, I put it in an 8x8 pan and refrigerated it while I made our pasta for dinner. We had whole wheat rigatoni with a jar of sauce which I simmered with one spicy sausage and some peppers and onions. While the sauce was simmering and the pasta was cooking, I cut the polenta into rectangles. I put some vegetable oil in a pan and also preheated my oven to broil. I put 4 of the polenta rectangles into the oil in the pan and put the rest on a cookie sheet in the oven to broil. Once they were done, we had a taste test. The broiled polenta won! In the picture below, the broiled polenta is lighter in color than the pan fried polenta.
At our "recreate dinner" at home, we had polenta with sauce for our appetizer and then had the pasta with sheets of parmesan cheese.
I have seen the parmesean cheese bowls on a couple of blogs recently but I stick to what I've been doing for some time to make these. Spray cooking spray on a microwave safe plate. Sprinkle some shredded (not grated) parmesan or romano cheese on the plate into whatever shape you want. Microwave for 1:30 on high. Remove from microwave and if you like - immediately shape. Wrap it around a dowel for a cheese stick, turn a bowl upside down and shape it on that to create a cheese bowl, etc. It makes a delicious accompaniment to any italian dinner. I have had it as a midnight snack when I need something quick, too.
Broiled Polenta Polenta recipe adapted from The Professional Chef
1 teaspoon minced shallots
3/4 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
1 qt chicken broth
8oz coarse yellow cornmeal
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons grated parmesan
Saute the shallots and garlic in one tablespoon butter. Add the chicken broth and bring to boil. Season with salt - I added 1 tablespoon.
Turn the heat down to medium low and add the cornmeal slowly. Stir constantly until it is completely moist. Simmer the mixture and stir often for 30 minutes.
Remove the pot from heat and add the rest of the butter, the egg yolk and the cheese.
Grease an 8x8 pan and scrape the polenta into the pan. Refrigerate until cool.
Cut the polenta into triangles or rectangles or whatever shape you want. Preheat the oven on broil. Line a baking sheet with tin foil or parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Place the polenta pieces on the tray and brush with olive oil. Broil for 20 minutes, flipping the pieces halfway through. They should be golden brown when they are done.
I'm a 30-something wife and working mom. I'm married to the only man who could possibly put up with my little bit of crazy. We have the happiest baby on the planet and she makes our family complete.
We also have two dogs...they used to take up half of this about me page. Now they are sidelined to the baby and we swear our child's first words are going to be, "Not you!!"