Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Nifty New Kitchen Gadget: $21 Tongs

Monday was my birthday (we won't discuss the number), and to celebrate I went to Williams Sonoma with my Mom and bought a pair of $21 tongs.   Yes I did spend that on a pair of tongs, but as I said: it was my birthday.  These fabulous tongs are made by Rosle  Sure, you can buy a set of tongs at the hardware store for $7.50 -- but they won't have this awesome action: when you hold them downward and slightly squeeze, they open up gently.  Then when you hold them upright, squeeze, they close.  Very easily (no need to bang it's butt on the counter.)

Here are some pictures of me doing this very thing:

Though I won't be winning any awards for photography, I think you get the idea.  These tongs are also very grippy and did a great job of lifting my fried wontons from the pan without shredding them.  (See previous post about wontons)  However, I have to say that while these tongs are nifty, if it hadn't been my birthday and if I hadn't been feeling generous toward myself (not to mention slightly depressed about that number I won't mention), I'm not sure I'd have bought them.  I mean, really, $21 is quite a lot to spend on tongs no matter how cool.  If you've got the money, I say go for it, otherwise head to the kitchenwares section of your local hardware store and save yourself $13.50.

Our Beloved Monster and Me

Our oldest daughter has been on the verge of 13 for about 3 years -- though now that the actual birthday is only two months away  she seems to have ramped up the process.  

For instance, yesterday: I thought we’d make a quick jaunt to the bookstore before picking Mad up from camp.  About halfway there we got into a discussion about why I wouldn’t leave her alone at Borders for the forty minutes it would take to pick up her sister.  I might (though probably not) have done it if she’d had both her cell phone and a friend with her -- but without those two things, no go. And so I found myself stuck in the car with Em in full politician mode: alternately arguing her case and accusing me of not trusting her.  There was some name calling on her part.  Without her realizing it I turned down a side street and drove back toward our house, parked the car in the driveway where I turned off the ignition and waited for her to finish before asking her if she’d like to stay home while I picked up her sister, or go get something to do in car while we picked up her sister because we sure as hell weren’t going to the bookstore now.

And this morning: I go to wake her at about 8:30, as I always do, and she asks me to snuggle, a rare request, so of course I want to snuggle, which I do for a few minutes, but I have several things to do (make lunches, put over laundry, walk the dogs, take a shower) before we leave for camp so I give her a kiss and remind her to get going and I’m half way down the steps to the kitchen when I hear: MOM! MOM! -- and I rush back up thinking something’s wrong (bloody nose?).  I get as far as her doorway when she says, “can you pull my blankets up for me?  I’m cold.”

This child, who can’t pull her own blankets up, is indignant that I won’t allow her to go to the bookstore and hang out by herself.


There’s more, but I won’t bore you.  It’s enough to know she hates me/she loves me/ she needs me/ I’m an idiot.  I’ve been on both sides of this equation now, and frankly, if I had to choose, I choose my present (parental) side because nothing could make me go through those teen years again.  I’m getting whiplash alternating between sympathy for my girl and complete engulfing frustration. Living with her  right now is like trying to balance on a surfboard: We’re at the top of a ten story wave an

d my only hope is to plant my feet and keep my head so I don’t flip both of us beneath the foam.

But last night: we had fun.  She took a cooking class recently, so last night she gave us a quick tutorial in the art of fried wontons which we filled with chicken and broccoli and sauteed up in a pan of grapeseed oil, then ate, piping hot, with our fingers.  Em says this is a great way to use up the leftovers in the fridge, and I totally agree.  A pack of wontons is not more than a few dollars at the store and you can fill them with whatever you like.  We just threw ours into a fry pan last night, but when we make them again, I think we’ll steam them a minute first then plonk them in the hot oil because then you only need to cook one side.  They were crispy, golden, delicious.  Her dad and I dipped our wontons in soy sauce, but Em liked hers plain.   These would make great appetizers.

Here are Em’s instructions on how to do it:

  1. Cook some chicken (I seasoned 2 boneless chicken breasts with sea salt and pepper then poached them in 2 cups of water with several dashes of low sodium soy sauce, a bay leaf and some gratings of ginger.)  Or use some leftover chicken.
  2. Thaw about 1/2 cup of broccoli and roughly chop
  3. Using only small pieces of broccoli and chicken fold them into individual wontons.
  4. Seal the wontons by dipping a finger in a glass of water and running your finger over the 4 sides of the wonton and then folding the wonton into a triangle, or make a little pocket book by gathering the four corners together or roll it up and seal the ends by folding them over.
  5. Plonk them into hot grape seed oil.  Fry until they are golden on all sides. (see notes)


  • I use grape seed oil because it can safely get very hot -- without catching fire (unlike olive oil).
  • Em’s cooking class threw them into a deep fryer -- which I don’t have -- but which would effectively cook all sides of the wonton all at once --
  • Which is why I’d steam them first.  I don’t have a steamer so I stick a colander in a large stock pot of boiling water and put a lid over the whole thing.  Steam them just for a minute - maybe even less- so the wonton dough cooks a bit before tossing them in the oil.  Then just cook one side up crispy and golden.  We cooked our wontons in batches because we don’t have a fry pan big enough to accommodate

Make as many fried wontons as you have the patience for.  We used about 3/4 of a pack before Em got bored and hungry and we all just started shoving the cooked chicken and broccoli into our mouths until it was gone.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Goat Cheese

Last night I went out to dinner with my friends Laura and Michelle and we had goat cheese for appetizers and goat cheese in the main course.  We were sharing everything, and I expressed my insecurity about ordering too much goat cheese, when Michelle, who is a very wise friend, said, "there can never be too much goat cheese."

I think this is one of the great truths of the universe.  Goat cheese rules.  So, this afternoon I ran myself over to the farmer's market and bought a bunch of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes (because my sad few on my sad vine aren't red yet) and a fat hunk of goat cheese.  I chopped those tomatoes and threw them in a bowl with a bit of sea salt and let their juices leach out and settle. Then I cooked up a bag of ravioli I had knocking around my freezer, along with the last bit of a box of pasta,  sprinkled it with olive oil.  Ran outside to cut some basil, which is doing very well, thank you very much, and threw it all together with goat cheese while the ravioli was still warm.  Oh yeah, I also tossed in a few sprigs of parsley and a several grindings of pepper.

Perfection.  Because we all know, there can never be too much goat cheese.