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Syrian Delights

January 9, 2019

Can we talk about the world without talking about politics for one hot minute?

Right now everyone in America is totally riled up about what’s happening in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. But bad bad things are afoot with Turkey and Syria.

Global affairs is complicated stuff. Especially when it comes to war in the Middle East. But it sounds like someone in D.C. realized that if the U.S. troops pull out of Syria, our Turkish allies will likely start killing our Kurdish allies. And just the other day, we made a diplomatic attempt to stop it, but failed. What happens next is anyone’s guess. But how many people in America will be too distracted to even notice?

The truly awful thing is that I don’t know what can be done about any of this.

What gives me hope is that there are much much better people than me, who are actively doing something about helping some of the people who have managed to escape this disaster. Right here in the Capital Region is an operation called New York for Syrian Refugees. In their resettlement efforts of 40 refugee families, they discovered some of the mothers were excellent cooks. And just recently, they have started something delightful. Read more…

Fantastic Frozen Broccoli

January 8, 2019

Maybe you noticed a grumpier tone than usual in yesterday’s post. Ask me how my diet’s going.

It sucks.

But I have to diet hard, because during these weeks when I’m dieting, I also have work events that require me to eat. That means when I’m being “good”, I have to be “extra-good”, or else all that work will be for naught.

This came to a head recently when Little Miss Fussy wanted to go to a diner, and I struggled to make a sensible choice as I scanned a menu full of deeply satisfying comfort foods. What I ordered was a small Caesar salad with grilled chicken on top, knowing full well the weight of a creamy dressing and croutons. But it was small, and mostly made of vegetables, so I felt okay with the decision.

What I should have ordered was a cup of chicken soup with a side of steamed broccoli with oil and garlic. I figure it’s kind of like a deconstructed greens and beans, just without the beans, and with broccoli for the greens.

As we’ve been trying to eat more vegetables in winter, frozen broccoli has been playing a larger part of our diet than usual. And at least according to Mrs. Fussy, I’ve come up with a simple, quick, and delicious way to prepare the stuff.

Read more…


January 7, 2019

Look, I know what I said.
I know it hasn’t been that long.
And maybe I take this stuff too seriously.

Really, the problem is that I shouldn’t have even clicked on the Times Union’s Best of the Capital Region reader choice poll. But I did.

If you think you know what comes next, you’re likely mistaken. Because this year is different. It’s really, really different. And I have to admit that I was encouraged by the changes that the TU made to how the poll was being conducted this year. That was, until I started to click some more.

Read more…

The Alchemist

January 4, 2019

This is not a story about the Vermont brewery responsible for Focal Banger and its predecessor, the even more hyped Heady Topper. The latter is an India Pale Ale that really changed the beer game, and helped to bring in the current era of New England IPAs (AKA NEIPA). Although this currently popular style of IPA which is known for its cloudy appearance—in addition to flavors of citrus and tropical fruits—will end up weaving its way back into the post.

The original alchemists were trying to turn lead into gold. And I thought this was a good metaphor to explain the cocktail I created on New Year’s Eve. It’s one I have been working on for a few weeks, but I finally got it dialed in.

It’s a cocktail, yes. But effectively, I turned soda into beer.

Read more…

A Question on Greens and Beans

January 3, 2019

In the Capital Region, Italian-American food is like the air we breathe.

There are several reasons why I’ve never really delved into the Italian-American restaurant landscape of the area. For starters, it’s just too massive. Cataloging all of the different red sauce joints we’ve got in the region could be your life’s work. And while I may truly love a great chicken parm, there are only so many I can eat. A lot of this food is heavy stuff based on refined grains, sometimes fried, and usually smothered in cheese.

Then you have the issue with portions, which are massive. And prices, which might be fair given the quantity of food served, but still quite high for the quality of the ingredients. Plus, I’m a pretty capable cook of Italian-American dishes, and all the ingredients one might need are readily available.

That said, there is another dish of almost equal ubiquity as chicken parm, which is loaded with vegetables, and typically served as an entree sized appetizer: Greens and beans.

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Taking Stock

January 2, 2019

The funniest part about January being meat-free at home, is that on the second day of the year I’ve got a lunch date, and I’m going to get the sausage.

At least that’s the plan. I hope that still works with the rules. Since the sausage is used as a flavoring to what is effectively an entire plate of vegetables, I suspect it’s copacetic. After all, the goal of this for me is to eat more vegetables.

The other funny thing is that the first cooking project of the new year was a mega-batch of chicken stock.

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The Weight

January 1, 2019

What could be more trite than starting off the new year with the promise of healthier habits?

My goal had been to go into January already doing well on the healthful eating plan, so that when the turn of the year rolled around, I’d already be in good shape. I’m not entirely sure what happened to that. Maybe it was the two Thanksgivings back to back, or the pizza from Pepe’s, or judging the Chili Chowdown, or all the heifer shakes I enjoyed from The Dutch Udder, or the week in Pennsylvania where I ate little besides meat, carbs, and frozen custard?

It’s really hard to say. I’m not even sure how one might begin to unpack this mystery. But whatever the cause, the solution starts today. Although the person taking lead on the craziest part of this plan is Mrs. Fussy.

Read more…