The butter paradox

Butter = goodness. But also = evil.”Details Later

cacio e pepe

Quote was in reference to the lunch I made today — Cacio e Pepe. All that butter, I felt like I was channeling Paula Deen! Delicious though. Butter has the same effect as bacon — it makes everything better!

Advertisements

Grilled cheese sandwich!

Image

I am not in the mood to prepare something elaborate for supper (not that I do, normally) so I thought I’d make this updated grilled cheese sandwich. It’s fairly easy and the caramelized onions add zing while the veggies add crunch.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, 1 medium onion (use the white or yellow, not the red)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • greens (like kale or spinach. I used spinach)
  • unsalted butter
  • sliced cheese (I recommend cheddar, but any melty cheese will do)
  • sliced bread (this recipe calls for thick slices of robust bread, think sourdough. But I only had multigrain bread so I used that)

To make caramelized onions:

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook a bit. Add the salt and pepper. Stir occasionally until the onions are soft. About 10 minutes.

Image

2. Add sugar and continue cooking for about five minutes. The recipe calls for two tablespoons of sugar, but you might want to add a bit more if you like your onions sweeter. Stir constantly.
3. Add the balsamic vinegar and reduce heat to low. Continue cooking the onions until very very soft and dry — consistency of relish. About 10 more minutes. If you want the onions to have a bit more crunch, you may want to stop the cooking sooner (like I did).

Image

4. You’re not going to be able to use all of the onions you cooked. Store in a plastic container for use in other sandwiches — or with meats.

To assemble the sandwiches:

1. Butter one side of four slices of bread and set aside.
2. On one slice of bread (unbuttered side), layer a slice of cheese, then caramelized onions, then the spinach, then another slice of cheese. Top with a slice of bread (buttered side up).
3. Repeat the process for the second sandwich.
4. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Place the sandwiches on the skillet until the bread is golden and the cheese melts. Flip the sandwich to cook on the other side.
5. Slice and enjoy!

Image

As someone who doesn’t cook much (indeed, growing up, my brothers tended to cook more, while I washed the dishes), I am somewhat amused that people who peruse this blog check out the one and only recipe I’ve ever posted — the one on corned beef pasta. Either there is a mad love for corned beef out there (entirely plausible) or people who know me can’t believe I actually bestirred myself to prepare something that involves a stove (again, entirely plausible).

Anyway, this sandwich is great for a light dinner or for weekend lunches — or as a snack. All in all, from making the caramelized onions to grilling the sandwiches, it takes one hour to prepare. But if you cook the onions ahead, this can be assembled in 20 minutes.

Lessons from doing this:
1. Should have sliced the onions even thinner so they cook more evenly.
2. To balance the flavorful caramelized onions, use a strong flavored cheese, otherwise the onions might overpower the whole sandwich.
3. It would be interesting to try this with kale — as in the original recipe.*
4. Because of the components, you need a thicker-sliced bread.
5. Make sure the skillet is really hot when you grill the sandwich so the cheese melts.

I based the recipe on the one featured in A Cup of Jo. Click on the link for the original version of the recipe and the more photogenic sandwich. 😉

A phone conversation

I lost my phone yesterday. I might have left it in the cab when I got out because I was in a hurry, or it fell off my bag. I don’t know. Bottomline, it was gone. I guess Fate took a hand in my dithering decision-making because I was really planning on getting a new phone anyway. The loss just sped up the process. Still, losing the one I did have was a shock to the system. Spent most of the day yesterday phoneless and here’s what I realized:

We’ve lost the capacity to remember important details. I still remember the time when I knew my friends’ phone numbers off the top of my head and just call them — on a landline! Yesterday, I can’t recall any of my friends’ numbers, not to mention my mom’s or my brothers’. Another thing I realized: There must be whole businesses who have gone the way of the dodo because of smart phones. I mean, who uses actual paper address books these days?

Not being tethered to a phone is exhilarating — and scary. Going around town yesterday, with no means of contacting anyone at the drop of a hat and for people to reach me instantly, was liberating, in a way. I loved the freedom of it. I think I am not as tech-tied as some of my friends are. I could leave my phone alone in my bag for long stretches of time, I could stand to spend a day not checking out or doing anything on it. I think I have a healthy relationship with it. Or so I thought. My “healthy” attitude was illusory. It stemmed from knowing where my phone was; it was a voluntary untethering. If I needed to get connected, I could do it at a push of a button or a swipe. Yesterday, I didn’t have a choice and so had to be incommunicado for most of the day. It was unsettling and I realized how insecure we have become, drawing comfort from a piece of plastic to feel instantly connected.

Our phones are our lives in data form. I realized yesterday that all my important information is in my phone. Account numbers, PINs, usernames and passwords, loved ones’ important dates, pictures, chat conversations, my location at a particular point in time… Everything is in there. The fact that these could have been tampered with or seen by some unknown person felt like someone was pawing through my underwear drawer. The thought felt like a violation of my privacy. Not only that, I realized that while I have been blithely storing away data on my phone, I’ve never thought about what happens if someone else gets their hands on it. So I didn’t make any precautions….

…but everything gets stored somewhere anyway. I wasn’t too worried about retrieving my data because I sync my phone fairly regularly. So I could, one way or the other, get those fairly easily once I synced my new phone. What unsettled me was that for the few hours that I had no control over my phone, my personal information was out there, unprotected. How many user names or email addresses do you use? What are their passwords? I counted mine, and I had around 20 usernames and password combinations — everything from email addresses, to all the websites and apps I regularly use. Retrieving all that is fairly easy, because of iCloud and other storage options though I realized I haven’t fully synced my phone since the start of February, so that’s about two months’ worth of conversations and photos that are lost forever. That’s a small price to pay though, for getting most of the information back. But how about protecting these bits of data? For instance, I store bank and card details on my phone for easy access. Thank God that Apple has an app called Find my Phone, which can locate and remotely erase all the data from my phone. That went a long way towards reassuring me that my data wouldn’t be used by someone else. I changed all my passwords anyway. You never know.

Here’s a timely article from The New York Times on how to protect your data: How to Shield Yourself from Smartphone Snoops. I’ve started doing most of what the article suggested except for the encryption part, since I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

Corned beef pasta!

Corned beef pasta!

Last Sunday, I was having a Whatsapp convo with Mina, Karen and Chiquit (like we do) about what to have for lunch. It being a weekend, we were all in our respective places but managed to have an utterly weird, funny conversation about… stuff. Most of it centering on food, and hunger and the fact that we were all lazy to get up and cook.

As a result of that conversation, I ended up hankering for corned beef pasta. So last night, I finally gave in to the urge and made some. I’m publishing the recipe here, though I am not sure about the measurements because I generally just guess.

Continue reading Corned beef pasta!

My new desktop designer wallpaper. So cute and inspirational at the same time. This one is by artist Rafa Nen. See other designer desktops in Design Milk.

For my phone, I used a variation of this design by Catrina Dulay based on one of Coco Chanel’s pithy bon mots.

Change or die

A bit hungover this morning, so I decided to do a bit of housekeeping on ye old blog to see if there was any activity happening in here. As expected, there wasn’t since for the past year or so I’ve been using this as a repository of Instagram photos. Friends know to comment on FB or Instagram if they want to reach me. So imagine my surprise — shock, might be a better word! — when I realized that this blog is already four years and a month old!! Holy…!!!

So I haven’t really paid too much attention to this blog for ages, despite numerous attempts to really seriously start blogging. What can I say, Facebook and Instagram are even more of a lazy person’s way of “recording” (sorta) the minutae of one’s life, which was what a friend once said of Tumblr. So this blog has been gathering dust, so to speak — like a beloved book left on the desk. In plain sight, but because it’s so familiar, one forgets it’s there.

Hence this post. I recently wrote an editor’s note to the effect that we need to change or we die. It’s the one defining characteristic of humanity — our infinite capacity for change. (OK, I concede that we’re also the only species that can go on a calculated rampage and destruction hellbent on destroying our kind, but that’s another story. Positive thoughts, people!)… So I decided to give the blog a facelift, which you see right now. Can’t promise I will end up posting more often — life and duty have a way of just messing up priorities — but at least it’s a new look. So enjoy, my legions of followers (haha!)