Thinking and writing about food. Not always in that order.

New Feature: Ask a 70s housewife humorist

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2017 at 2:41 pm
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Ima Bombast: 70s humorist & hair curler enthusiast

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of guest columns in which long-dead or never-alive authors answer real food questions that I stole  that are inspired by real listener questions from real food podcasts.

Long before Americans turned to YouTube celebrities and social media trolls to provide terrible answers to life’s most important questions, we had humorous housewife essayists to fill that need. From the black and white pages of newspaper Lifestyle sections in the 70s (which were an actual thing with lots of pages), these cranky but cuddly gals told it like it wasn’t about waxy yellow buildup and cream of mushroom soup.

At the top of that cantankerous laundry heap was Ima Bombast, beloved columnist and author of the best-selling book, “A Home Cooked Meal is Like Shangri-La (My Husband Will Never See Either of Them.)” Sadly, Ima pulled a Richard Simmons and disappeared from public life in 1980 when her stash of Canadian saccharine and Jello 1-2-3 ran out. But she’s back and ready to answer your questions.

TODAY’S QUESTION: “I want to talk about cooked salsas”

 

Dear Ima,

I want to talk about cooked salsas. Part of my frustration is that everything I buy from the store tastes like canned tomatoes. The tastes are flat, the textures are flat. I love fresh salsas, but I’m looking for something that can last a little longer in the fridge but still have a depth of flavor and textures that pop.

— Derrick from Decatur, Georgia

 

Dear Derrick,

Well, you certainly know your way around the kitchen big fella.

But Chrissy-and-Janet-on-a-cracker, I haven’t heard a man complain so much about things being flat since my honeymoon. As I told Husby just yesterday, if big boobs are what turn you on, go watch the Watergate hearings on TV.  Just don’t tell me about it afterward.

I may not know what salsa is (and I’m not positive what all those knobs on the stove are for either), but I do know a thing or two about tomatoes in the can. After bridge club today, I found that the 3-year-old had picked a ripe Big Boy from the neighbor’s garden across the street and was hiding in the bathroom to eat it. I gave him a good talking to for that.

“If only you had thought of this an hour ago,” I said. “I’d have had more than half a bag of mini marshmallows and a bottle of vermouth to serve the bridge club. Next time, don’t forget to pick a bottle of Italian dressing too.” Then I asked, “Are you going to finish that?”

Let me tell you, tomatoes in the can are not so bad.

Now If you want something with depth of flavor that ages well in the fridge, I recommend a box of baking soda. Mine’s been there since 1958.

I hear that was a very good year.

– Ima, still in the bathroom

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Too many zucchini? Here are 7 foodie hacks you can use right now. (You won’t believe #6!)

In Uncategorized on July 18, 2017 at 12:38 pm

dreamstime_xs_29504590I saw the first plea today on Facebook: “What should I do with all the zucchini coming from my garden.” There’s really only one answer. Throw them in the motherf’ing garbage.


Zucchini are the Donald Trump Jr. of the garden. One appearance is one too many. But those persistent little bastards just don’t get it and keep coming back for more.


No one has ever said: “The thing I look forward to most about summer is a vegetable with a weirdly bitter peel and interior flesh that tastes like a wet paper towel. And best of all, they just keep metastasizing until I simply can’t take it anymore.”

That’s zucchini. They’re the cockroaches of the squash family. They’re rats with a bit of chlorophyll. On the plus side, eating one does provide slightly more Vitamin A than an actual cockroach or rat.

If you’re dumb enough to sow these seeds of despair in your garden willingly (and why people do this is beyond comprehension), please know that NOBODY wants to share in your misery. If you give someone a bag of these freshly picked nightmares, they may say, “Thank you.” They may say ,“You’re too kind.” But they’re thinking, “I can’t wait until I find a motherf’ing trash can.”

No one has eaten a zucchini by choice. Not grilled. Not raw. Not roasted, smoked, dried, candied, or shredded into a slaw. Not wrapped around a weiner or fried into a fritter. Not baked into a quiche, buried under eggs, or pulverized into a dip. When a restaurant says their vegetable of the day is “summer medley” you know it’s 98% zucchini and 100% inedible. It’s just one more way to dump zucchini on an unsuspecting audience. What about those cultures where zucchini are a dietary staple? They must love it? There are also places in the world where people eat rats and “Chilis on the Go.” But  everyone knows they’d really rather be anywhere else, eating anything else.

So this summer, If you find yourself buried alive by nice corn on the cob, lovely heirloom tomatoes, super-fresh green beans, or crispy radishes, you’ve grown in your garden, share away. But if you’re overrun by kudzuchini, know that you inflicted that on yourself.

And you need to go it alone.

F–k zucchini.

Enough with the fun and games.

What can you do to use up that bounty of summer zucchini?


When life gives you zucchini, try one of these!

Here are my favorite tips.

1. Sneak a cup of shredded zucchini into your favorite brownie recipe. Your children will learn to hate brownies – you!

2. Call them “courgette” and your family won’t know they’re actually eating zucchini. They’ll just think you’re a pretentious twit.

3. Make a gift for friends of lovely home-baked zucchini bread, wrapped in white butcher paper and red and white twine. Then throw them in the motherf’ing garbage.

4. Stuff zucchini blossoms with a mixture of lemon zest and ricotta cheese. Lightly batter, and pan fry. Actually this is really delicious. And it’s a pre-emptive strike against these monsters.

5. Perk up your favorite summer recipe by substituting zucchini for other similar ingredients including – um, um, um. The material they use to fill disposable diapers? Never mind this one.

6. Write “Free Zucchini” on a paper bag and fill with $10,000 in small bills (and zucchini!) Then leave it on a busy street corner. Your next big drug deal will be a smashing success. No one will ever touch a bag marked “Free Zucchini.”

7. Frame the dumb bastards for your treasonous presidential campaign and hope they go away for a very long time.

Toaster Pastries: Taste the Sweet Nostalgia of 1978 Healthfood and Catskills Hipster

In Uncategorized on November 7, 2016 at 1:16 pm

My pumpkin spice-loving cousin Sarah and I continue our Spice World tour by taste testing another pumpkin treat from the always friendly folks at Trader Joe’s. Up now: Trader Joe’s Organic Pumpkin Toaster Pastries.

img_5370Mike: This time I have two confessions, and a review. I apologize in advance that they’re long.

Confession #1.  I have issues with Pop Tarts. I loved Pop Tarts as a child, although I was deprived of them more often than not. When given the opportunity, I would happily burn the inside of my mouth on a Pop Tart’s deliciously molten red goo and wonder why I couldn’t have more.

Since then, my life has been largely Pop Tart free. Until last fall.

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“I have issues with Pop Tarts.” — Mike

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Last fall I visited a rustic hipster motel deep in the wilds of the Catskills. What’s a rustic Catskills hipster motel like, you might ask? Imagine a $200 dolllar-a-night refugee camp, sparsely furnished by Design Within Reach. For your $200, breakfast is included. Breakfast was a Pop Tart. An ironic Pop Tart. Just the one.

This Pop Tart was served in the motel office. You were supposed to enjoy it while you used the only WiFi within a 20-mile radius to text your boss in Manhattan and tell her that you’d be coming in late again this morning because your cat is having a another panic attack. While you did this, your friends would browse old copies of Kinfolk, eat their ironic Pop Tart, and laugh an ironic laugh.

But some of us had hiked 7 miles up a goddamn mountain the day before. We were interested in a less ironic breakfast. Or at least a second Pop Tart. And a toaster. We weren’t laughing. Pop Tarts are now a trigger for me.

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“It had a bad taste of dirt, or that could be whole wheat flour.” — Sarah

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Sarah: This was very enjoyable in an “I’m quite the health-nut, apparently” way.

Mike: I still have more baggage to unload while I wait for the pastry to toast.

Confession #2:  This is the third box of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Toaster Pastries that I’ve purchased. Strangely, it’s the first toaster pastry that I’ve eaten. What happened to the contents of the previous boxes? I’ll simply point out that I live with only one other person. And she does not have Pop Tart issues. Or maybe she just has different ones than I do.

Now that I’ve cleared the air, here’s the taste test:

Wow that’s sweet. I don’t think it’s the least bit pumpkiny, but it’s hard to tell because the roof of my mouth is blistered. There’s some nice nostalgia in that.

img_5376Sarah: It had a base taste of dirt, or that could be whole wheat flour – I’m never sure. But it adds a hearty foundation to the actual, grown-in-the-ground pumpkin filling.

Pretty much tastes exactly like the pumpkin pie with the wheat germ crust your mom tried to sneak in during Thanksgiving 1978.

3 pumpkins for taste, plus 1 for nostalgia.

Mike: All the sugar cuts through the lingering bitterness of Catskills hipster. Not bad.