Food – Got the Jimmy Legs


To get bread from dough you gotta bake it

Now that the holidays are over, I've pretty much reached the end of my rope, unemployment-wise. I could stay on unemployment, continuing to dip into my savings until I hit the time limit, but this lack of true income is starting to affect my judgment. Every time I think about doing something, I stop and do an internal audit; if it seems too pricey, I don't do it. While this is sound judgment for most things, it keeps creeping into odd places.

For instance, at the grocery store I seem to be unable to buy canned beans any more.  Yes, cans of beans are too expensive for me to justify purchasing at the local Key Foods. Instead I buy dried beans. They are significantly cheaper than canned, but of course you have to reconstitute them for use. I figured this would be no big deal, the Joy of Cooking says I can just throw them in a pot of water overnight and retrieve fully hyrdrated foodstuffs. I tried this recently, giving the beans a good 24 hours to soak. The water made no discernable impact. Is New York water too hard or something? What's up with that?

I ended up softening the beans up in some boiling water. No big deal but what a hassle. The other bags of beans in the cupboard remain untouched thus far. I guess that's one way to save money: don't eat anything.

Here's another way to save money: spend a hell of a lot of money.

On Tuesday we rented a Uhaul cargo van and went to Costco and spent something in the neighborhood of $800. No one is more aware than I that this seems counterproductive during these leans times. But if we have played our cards right, we won't need another such trip for at least 6 months, if at all. For one great expense has been dealt a mighty blow by our brave quest: the cats have their food. We bought 20 bags of Costco's premium cat food. At 25 pounds apiece this adds up to 500 lbs. of kitty kibble stacked up in the cellar. Our basement looks like a feed store.

But of course we stocked up on human supplies as well. Since I am intent on not spending unwisely at the grocery store, I went kind of nuts at the warehouse store and bought a bunch of bulk items that should help sustain us until I get a job. Among other things, I bought a 25lb. bag of flour and a 2lb. bag of yeast. I've been baking a lot more of late, and I'm always running out of these items, so it sort of makes sense … until you look at the bags.

cookies, anyone?

cookies, anyone?

I have no idea how to store this stuff once I open the bag. I guess I can dole it out into several containers, maybe freeze some of it or something. But I've been going through a 5lb. bag a month, and once I start making all our bread from scratch, I'm sure this stuff won't last 5 months. I'll still have to buy whole wheat flour separately, I guess. They only had white in these institutional sizes.  It added up to a big bill, but pound for pound this stuff is dirt cheap!

In other cost-saving measures, I am happy to announce that one of our foster cats will be adopted out this weekend! Louie, who has been with us since the summer, will be moving to Cobble Hill to a home with an other (one one!) cat.  He is a fun cat and some of our other cats will miss him I'm sure, but it feels good to be back on this side of the adoption game. If his adoption is any indication, we will be adopting out one cat every month of the year and will be down to zero by Christmas!

This big noggin is movin on

This big noggin is movin on

Naw, that probably won't happen, but I sure hope we can find these cats some permanent homes this year; it's a full-time job taking care of them as it is. I'd hate for my paying work to suffer!

Feed me Seymour

The local falafel cart has several chefs, and they all suck, except for this one kid. Bad acne and indecipherable accent, for some reason he takes this stuff seriously, dressing up a standard falafel on rice with a ton of vegetables, both raw and grilled. While other guys are content to throw some iceberg lettuce on rice and toss in some dessicated falafel balls, he always fries the falafel at order, and jazzes up the salad with red cabbage, peppers, scallions, carrots and broccoli. Oh yeah, and french fries and eggplant! I skip the mysterious 'white sauce' and ask for liberal amounts of hot sauce, although he put so many jalapenos in already I have to towel off my head, I'm sweating so much.

The other guys who work there on other days merely toe the line to an indifferent lunch crowd, why does he give so much extra effort when he clearly doesn't have to? I dunno. I certainly can't imagine doing the same thing at my day job. Maybe he actually likes what he does for a living; what a foreign concept!

Feel the filth inside me rise

I've been hobnobbing with the Jet Set in the penthouse suites of significant buildings downtown. Well, one suite in one hotel. I did a 2-day long training for my "career development." I don't know if it'll really help my job but it was a welcome respite from the stupid stuff I have to do every day in the office. However, missing Monday and Tuesday uptown means missing my favorite dishes at the Indian food cart. Have I ever told you guys about that?

Reluctant as I was to move to this uptown office, I must admit that lunch options for a vegetarian are pretty good. There's a middle eastern cart right outside my office that makes some of the best falafel I've ever had, and there's restaurants like Burritoville, which although wildly overpriced, at least set a precedent for vegan food in the area. There are also two Indian food carts. Yes, two. I don't know if they are related, but they set up on the same block right down from each other. I notice one gets much more business than the other, so I go to the one with no line.

Both usually offer the same menu (which makes me think they are related): some main dish and a side dish over rice with some salad and roti or chapati. The entrees are things like Chana Masala and Daal, with Aloo Saag as a side dish. And most of the time it kicks ass. They serve the same rotating menu every week and Monday and Tuesday have the best stuff (the aforementioned Masala and Daal). Anyway it's four bucks for this big platter.

Anyway, the training was fun, but now it's back to the grind. But even that's not so bad, provided people don't hassle me too much over the next couple of days. Meanwhile, the kittens continue to grow. All of them have been eating solid food for a while now, and are getting really big. This has also brought up the newest issue, getting them to use the damn litterbox.

I kept putting them into the litterbox but they just haven't been getting it. Lucy doesn't like the corncob litter I'm using (chosen because it's nontoxic and kittens tend to eat everything) so she's not exactly modeling the behavior. Then we noticed the kittens were pooping under the bed. Great. But at least this gave us some 'samples' to use as a guide. I put some in the box and lo and behold, just before we left for work this morning, one of the ginger cats was going to town in the litterbox! A couple of the other kittens witnessed the incident, so hopefully the gears are turning and they'll all get the message. The only problem now is that Lucy, while she won't use it herself, insists on scratching around in the litterbox, tossing litter across the room. This morning she flipped over the whole box. I'm gonna have to nail it to the floor.

Stay tuned for progress photos. One of the kittens is way huger than the others, it's weird!

In the morning, laughing happy fish heads

I don't know what's going on around here, but nearly every day in this office, somebody apparently is having fish for lunch and it's driving me crazy. I don't even think it's somebody in my office, as the smell is so pervasive it could be coming from anywhere. It's even in the elevator. It'll take like another few hours before things get back to normal. I have nothing against pescetarians, but at least tofu is not nearly as pungent. Frankly, I thought this would have ended after Easter, but perhaps I made a leap in logic that the reality cannot sustain.

You've been down too long in the midnight sea

It's already too hard. Nevertheless, here are some good things that came to pass over the weekend:

  • Finished putting the drywall up in the basement, reinforced and rehung door, sealed joints
  • Fixed faulty light switch in basement (no more unscrewing the bulbs to turn them off)
  • Took a nap (a feat in of itself) and Freddie the Stray Cat stayed on the bed with me the whole time (normally she heads for zee hills when i get within eyesight)
  • Key Food Onion Rings: 2 for $4
  • Kick-ass show (Behold … the Arctopus, Dysrhythmia, Ancient Wound) at new venue (Don Pedro) which is right off the J train
  • Partially watched bizarre documentary at the bar about Afrobeat innovator Fela Kuti; sadly, Netflix does not yet have it.
  • And this morning I put on some 'summer weight' pants and found $43 in the pocket!