A finicky guy's exploits in finding gustatory (and other) satisfaction in his kitchen, his neighborhood, and beyond.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

In which Michael greatly exceeds the recommended maximum time in the steamroom

The explanation for the before-and-after transformation illustrated below has got to go in the only-in-NYC file. (And probably in the only-in-Chelsea subdirectory.)

Me at 10:00 am on Wednesday
Me at noon on Wednesday

What happened to turn me from a happy (if a little 7-dwarves-ish) man into a shriveled prune?  Read on, dear friends.....the truth is beyond belief.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

In which Michael indulges his vanity via a rapidly growing blogging convention

When I first encountered the acronym GPOY, I assumed it was a new gender/sex identity option I hadn't heard of before.  (There are a bewildering variety of ways to "identify": LGBT, FTM, MSBD, and myriads of other options the very thought of which would have tied your great-great-grandmother's bloomers in knots.  Unless you had a really cool great-great-grandma.)

Actually, as I came to discover, GPOY stands for the relatively innocuous "Gratuitous Pic of You," which it has become common for bloggers to post on Wednesdays.  (I think GPOM would make more sense, but who can dictate the direction that linguistic winds will blow?)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In which Michael swoons and creates lovely aromas

OMG, readers, you'll never believe who commented on my post from yesterday:

Jeffrey, my other obsession of the hour
For those of you who do not recognize this studly being, he's the OTHER hunky dancer in pleather shorts from last Saturday's concert!  I still have no idea how he found my blog, but I am hoping that more leather- and pleather-wearing hunks, dancing or not, stumble my way.

(Mom, if you're reading my blog today, please know that I am totally inventing this infatuation with partially nude muscle boys for the sake of entertaining my readers.  Rest assured that my priorities are still pleasing you and finding inventive ways to use up leftover beans.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

In which Michael tries to butch it up with a big pot of okra

I wonder if it's possible for a male couple to become too gay?

I mean, all stereotypes aside, our lives are mostly similar to that of any other family — well, maybe any other slightly kooky family of outside-the-box-thinking, artistic mavericks with demented Chihuahuas.  But our proximity to the nucleus of gay American culture — Chelsea 10011 — brings us into frequent and intense contact with all sorts of queer influences.  (I'm using that Q-word in its co-opted, political sense.  You aren't allowed to use it in this way unless you're queer too.  Oh, and please stop using "gay" to mean "stupid," as in "That's so gay."  There I am, on my soapbox again!)

Following on the (high) heels of last weekend's fabulousness — attending the opening and after-party of Priscilla, 50% of us in a dress — Peter and I were given tickets for this past Saturday night's "Big Gay Sing 3D" concert of the New York City Gay Men's Chorus.  (One of my voice students is in the chorus and had an extra pair of tix.)

This choral extravaganza — actually more of a variety show — made Priscilla look like an NFL football game by comparison.  The evening was chock-full of everything gay men (well, ones like me anyway) hold dear: hunky tenors, drag queens in beaded gowns, showtunes, emceeing by a huge out Broadway star, a diva songstress with pipes of gold, hunky men in pleather shorts, hunky baritones, hundreds of costumes and wigs, hunky men in Prince Charming outfits, campy humor, bawdy humor, hunky basses, Donna Summer songs, sequins, sequins, sequins, and hunky men in the audience.

(Oh, and hunky men wearing MPB apparel and the Debbie shirt, respectively.  I gayed up Debbie's gorgeous creation with my tightest skinny Levi's and a pair of motorcycle boots.  If only she'd made me a gingham codpiece to match.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

In which Michael resigns himself to forever cursing the darkness

I like my living/teaching environments (they're highly overlapping) to smell good.  To me, it is important that every one of my 5 senses — and those of my visitors/students — gets triggered with pleasant stimuli.  (Or at least 4 out of 5.  Ironically for a food blogger, taste is the sense that I invoke the least in my professional work.)  I have gone to great lengths to choose restful colors for the paints and fabrics in my teaching room, to provide soothing white noise that masks harsh sounds from outside, to touch my clients with respect and gentleness, and to make the room agreeably, but not overpoweringly fragrant.

This last step, to bring about a pleasing olfactory environment,  has not been easy to bring about.  In short, most of the scenting products out there stink.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

In which Michael restructures the food pyramid

A blogger (who will remain nameless to protect my identity), famished from his afternoon workout today, did the inadvisable and went grocery shopping in this ravenous state.

And I — er, the blogger — didn't even remember to sing to himself that old hymn of abstemiousness from the AFN public service spot: "Don't shop when you're hungry — no, no, no!"  And now I'm singing the blues.

I mean, the blogger is singing — oh, never mind.  I screwed up.  I'll own my error.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Back in My Own Little Corner

Now I know how Cinderella must have felt the day after the ball, when, with memories of her glittering gown and her handsome prince and her night out among the VIPs still fresh in her mind, she found herself back at the hearth, scrubbing her fingers to the bone.

Not that my pretty wonderful life feels like hearth-scrubbing, but I am suffering from a sort of withdrawal from the heady, glamorous, rather unreal-seeming activities of last night.  On most Sunday evenings, I find myself lying on the couch in my sweats, reading a mystery novel while my chihuahuas groom themselves underneath the tatty old afghan they share with me.

So how on earth did I find myself yesterday evening, well past my usual bedtime, dancing to classic disco hits alongside Broadway stars and drinking glass after glass of champagne with a gorgeous dame on my arm?  And was that enormous pink sparkly high-heeled Manolo pump merely a figment of a temporarily delusional state?

Michael decidedly outside his element.  (But looking pretty happy about it....)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In which Michael seizes the day and the saffron

In yesterday's post I described an uncomfortably close brush with Death that inspired me to make a covenant with myself — and with Life.  My chosen metaphor for my resulting new attitude towards life is not saving the saffron.  I chose to interpret this quite literally on the inaugural day of my covenant, and created a saffron-rich chicken stew that I will show you how to make...

...that is, if you, too, are ready to use up your saffron.

Go ahead; DO IT.  What better way to acknowledge that today is special?

Don't I look like I'm saying, "Go ahead; DO IT!" in this picture?  In my boomingest voice?

Before we get to the stew recipe, though, I have to make a confession.  I fear I have been interpreting carpe diem as license to spend every crappy dime.  In my eagerness to display lust for life, I recklessly engaged on a brief binge of monetary spending:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Kitcheree & Picture-me Updates

Thursday night we learned of another benefit of kitcheree — it stretches take-out Indian farther!  To make a very filling dinner, I ordered just one vegetarian dish and an onion kulcha (bread) from our favorite South Indian restaurant, and served them with reheated kitcheree and some spicy pickle.  A very satisfying way to round off a busy teaching day.  There's still enough kitcheree in the fridge for another meal over the weekend, I think.  Perhaps I'll serve it along with a tomatoey chicken stew that's simmering in my brain, if not yet on my stovetop.  I'm thinking tons of onions and garlic — and saffron and sausage — I seem to be in a Cajun state of mind.  Come back in a day or so to find out what became of my Amish chicken legs....

Earlier on Thursday, our mailman had delivered a care package from Debbie, who reads Peter's and my blogs regularly.  This box contained treats for the dogs — note to self: an entire chicken-leg treat in one sitting engenders copious poop in a tiny chihuahua — some wonderful natural grooming products, and — ta da! — the gorgeous shirt that Debbie has been working on for me as part of Peter's mens shirt sew-along:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Reconnected, and it feels so good

Welcome back, readers!  I am thrilled to report that Verizon has finally resolved our landline/internet issues, and we are back in connection with the virtual world.  The restoration of our service surprised us by occurring a full day before the date Verizon had predicted, and has thus caught me unprepared for blogging.   It's not just that I have not been taking pictures of my meal preparations; I haven't really been preparing all that many meals.

How sad is that, when it doesn't seem worth the effort to cook when I can't blog about the food?  We actually have been eating reasonably well, what with all the leftovers I had stored in the freezer.  Including a batch of the oniony kidney beans I promised never to write about again.  But, given the dearth of new foods to describe, wouldn't you be happy to hear about how I served the last portion of these beans in a casserole cooked in my convection oven?  I mean, as opposed to not hearing about anything at all?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Temporary Silence Explained

Hi, Readers.

I've missed blogging over the past week.  Our neighborhood is currently experiencing a widespread Verizon outage — phone and internet service — so my only connection to the web has been my iPhone.

It's a little unwieldy to type more than a few words on my phone, so I'm not going to resume blogging until the outage has ended.  The phone company promised (ha!) that our service will be restored no later than March 17th.

So much for having a landline to fall back on in case of a cell connectivity problem.....

Please continue to enjoy Peter's blog in the meantime; he's been going across the street to blog from the wi-fi hotspot at the Brooklyn Coffee and Bagels.....another reason to love that place!

Hope to be back in touch soon!


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wisdom to live by

The only thing more disgusting during breakfast than biting down unexpectedly on a rancid nut is biting down unexpectedly on a rancid cacao nib.

Take my word for it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Thai-ish Fish Dish

All right — back to the kitchen!  I've enjoyed my weekend of musings about random topics, but it's time once more to cook.  And those flounder filets I impulse-bought from WF (and mis-identified as snapper in yesterday's post) weren't going to stay fresh forever, so I assessed what I had on hand — pretty much everything, thanks to my obsessive-compulsive grocery shopping — and made a Thai-inspired fish stew out of them.

Speaking of food going bad — and what more pleasant way to start out our week together? — I'd always wondered if Kimchi, which is basically rotten cabbage, could ever get too old to eat.  Well, while scanning the bottom shelf of my fridge, looking for the half a lemon I'd stuck in there somewhere, I found not only the lemon, but the answer to my longstanding question.  Yes, Kimchi can rot beyond the point of edibility.  Far beyond.  I unearthed a tupperware containing the remnants of a commercial batch of Kimchi I'd bought at a Korean grocery about — um, this is kind of embarrassing — 4 years ago.

Anyway, the Kimchi was covered in white fuzzy mold — I first mis-diagnosed it as ice crystals — and smelled like Death's favorite cologne.  If Death were a demented old garlic-eating woman sitting next to you at the opera house in Hades, opening little cellophane-wrapped cabbage candies all throughout a performance of L'Elisir della Morte.

I'm not sure that, even after scalding and scouring with soapy water, that tupperware will ever be useable again.  Maybe babushka-woman can store her cologne in there.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Getting some color

As you can see in this picture that I took on my way to the gym, today is very grey here in Manhattan:

I decided that if Mother Nature was not going to provide us New Yorkers a glorious springtime palette, I would take it upon myself to dabble in color.  So what follows today is just a bit of silliness....a polychromatic pictorial panoply of brightly colored images.  I hope it makes you smile, whatever the weather in your neck of the woods.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

And now: a public service announcement

I just got back from Whole Foods. . .where my shopping was Wholly Foolish. What went wrong?

I know enough to eat something hearty before going to the grocery store, because my internal hunter-gatherer becomes indiscriminate when he's hungry. If I have an appetite, every densely caloric treat in the store looks like a good idea, and soon, my cart is overflowing with marginally necessary items like breads, cakes, cheeses, beers, and snack foods.
Where did I learn this wisdom? Believe it or not, on TV. I still recall vividly a public service announcement from the Armed Forces Network (AFN) that was broadcast frequently in the 1980s on the U.S. military bases throughout Europe, where I was stationed. Its catchy rap-style tag line went, "Don't shop when you're hungry — no, no, no!"   I couldn't find this gem on Youtube, but I was able to find a clip containing other spots from that era, just so you'll know I'm not making this up.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cook-Along with Me: Pasta w/radishes and their greens — and FENNEL!

Here's how I recently made a tasty vegetarian supper, a little out-of-the-ordinary on account of the cooking of a veggie normally served raw and the unexpected fusion of Eastern and Western flavors.

Well, perhaps my fusion project did not turn out THAT out-of-the-ordinary in comparison to Boy George.  I miss his gentle kookiness and his appealing fusion of genders and musical styles.  Back in the 80s, when I was still confused about my sexuality, Boy George opened my mind to a whole new way of presenting oneself unapologetically.  Even though by his standards, my own self-presentation was on the tame side, I took from him a valuable lesson about not having to mold myself into what was expected of me by others.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spicing up your life the Bengali way

Talk about good timing!

No, no — shut up, everyone! — I did not mean to literally talk about it.  "Talk about" as used here is not so much an imperative as an idiomatic expression indicating the writer or speaker's desire to. . .oh, never mind.  I'll just wait until I have your attention again.

OK.  That's better.  The good timing I was referring to was the coincidence between Monday's arrival of Debbie's fennel-containing package and my intention (stated on Monday's blog) to write up a recipe involving a fennel-containing Bengali spice mixture known as panchphoran:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

We interrupt this food blog...

...to bring you hot news from the world of sewing!

Yesterday's mail included a package from Florida from my reader Debbie.  "My reader" is perhaps not so accurate here.  The package has much more to do with Debbie's being a Male Pattern Boldness reader...and even more, a participant in Peter's mens shirt sew-along.

By some bizarre stroke of good fortune, it turns out that I am Debbie's sewing muse.  (Which is especially hard to understand when you see how hunky certain men in her life, like her son and his friend, are.  Check out her blog if you like pictures of handsome guys in Marine uniforms and/or renaissance doublets.  Now there's a sentence that's probably never been uttered before.)  As strange as it may seem, without the inspiration of creating clothing for me, her living Ken doll, Debbie could never have propelled herself to these heights of sartorial splendor: