Sass & Bite

"If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you" Oscar Wilde

Month: June, 2013

Things I Will Do This Summer

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Despite the cloudy skies here in LA today, I’m pretty stoked for summer. I mean, I’m living on a couch and out of a suitcase, I’ve yet to find a job, and not a single wealthy man has asked to be my sugar daddy, but it’s hard to be pessimistic or irritable in the summer. The heat is invigorating, the food is fresh, the colors are bright, the days are longer and the dresses are shorter — what’s not to love? This is my annual Summer To-Do List — what’s on yours?

Learn to play poker, for real this time

Watch the sunrise at least once

Have a game night with my littlest cousin

Eat grilled fruit with ice cream on the reg

Make up for my last disastrous attempt at sangria; drink all of it

Take a bar-tending class

Reunite with old friends on a roadtrip

Make ice cream

Many BBQ’s, picnics, cocktails hours, and hikes

Eat a Wendy’s Frosty. I’ve never had one, but it seems like one of those crazy things I should do before I die.

 

Let’s see what kind of shenanigans we can get into.

Words of Wisdom

“The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on — it is never of any use to oneself.” –Oscar Wilde

photo credit : Joy the Baker

photo credit : Joy the Baker

1. You can never go wrong with glitter.

2. Say “yes” more often than you say “no”.

3. Ladies, if you can’t walk in the heels, don’t wear them. You’re doing yourself and everyone else a disservice. Not to mention the shoes.

4. Birthday calories don’t count. This isn’t me talking, it’s science.

5.If you just use“Mexican” as a catch-all term to describe anyone of any Spanish-speaking nationality, you are barbarously ignorant and possibly kind of racist. Let me drop some knowledge on you: there is in fact an entire continent of other countries and cultures right south of Mexico where they speak Spanish, not to mention several islands and, um, Spain.

6. The phrase is “all of a sudden”, not “all the sudden”.

7. People who don’t like animals are not to be trusted. I mean, if they got mauled by a dog and no longer like dogs, then obviously. But if they just generally don’t like animals for no apparent reason, they probably don’t have a soul.

8. Whatever is wrong, it’s nothing a nice walk outside or a cup of coffee – preferably both – can’t fix.

9. If you can’t quote from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Godfather, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, or  Casablanca, you are ignorant.

10. There will always be someone who is prettier/smarter/funnier/cooler/better-dressed/etc. than you. But don’t act like you know that, and don’t let anyone else know either — you rock! Go get ’em, tiger.

Caprese Quinoa and Turkey Meatballs

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In an effort to use up some of the “long-term” carbs I’ve accumulated — quinoa, brown rice, cous-cous, whole-grain pasta, etc. — before I move out, I’ve put my beloved paninis and various eggs on toast on hiatus for the last few weeks and challenged myself to base my lunch off of non-bread carbs. This caprese quinoa was the result of the tantalizing smell of basil at Trader Joe’s and some  early summer tomatoes at the farmer’s market.

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The first time I made it, I did a cooked version in which I sauteed the mixture in garlic and mixed the feta in to melt. It was sensational. But the warmer weather made me crave something more refreshing and closer in taste to actual caprese, so I made it again cold, which was also sensational, and somewhat zingier. I didn’t have mozzarella and didn’t want to get any, but there’s always feta in my fridge, so I went with that instead. Dare to be different.

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The turkey meatballs were kind of accidental; I was at my parents’ house the day before I made this and found ground turkey in the freezer, which at this point I just assume is intended for me. Whether it is or not, I took it. The universe wanted me to get my extra protein in the form of meatballs (insert dirty joke here). I’ve never actually made meatballs, so I just kind of made it up as I went along, nor did I measure anything into it, but that’s cool, we’re laid-back here. We’ll work through it. Improvisation is fun. With the exception of surgery, electrical wiring, and sometimes haircuts.

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A few notes about the quinoa: first, a little bit goes a long way. 1/4 cup dry will turn into at least 1 cup after it’s cooked, so be prepared to adjust the package directions based on how much you need. Second, people (namely, my family) often complain that quinoa itself is bland; to impart some more flavor, I like to cook it in low-sodium chicken broth instead of water.

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Caprese Quinoa

1 cup quinoa, cooked

a few handfuls of basil, roughly chopped

2 tomatoes, diced

feta cheese

If making the cooked version (seen in the last photo): at least 4 cloves garlic, chopped, and a splash of olive oil

For the raw caprese, just combine everything in a bowl and toss well; season with salt and pepper.

For the cooked version, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the garlic and sautee until fragrant and starting to brown; add tomatoes and the basil, reserving just a few leaves, and reduce heat to a simmer.

Allow to simmer for a few minutes until the tomatoes have softened somewhat, then add the quinoa and the rest of the basil. Cook another 5-10 minutes, stirring it around every so often so that the flavors combine. A minute or two before you take it off the heat, stir in some crumbled feta.

Improvised Turkey Meatballs

1 package ground turkey

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

4-5 coves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

1 egg

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

2 tsp garlic salt

1-2 tsp red chili flakes

Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375.

Toss everything into a large bowl and combine with a spatula. Adjust the spices according to your taste; these measurements are just estimations, but I recommend going heavier with them since ground turkey isn’t particularly flavorful on its own and you’ll probably need more than you think.

Form the mixture into balls, about the size of golf balls. Spray a skillet with cooking oil and allow it to heat over medium-high; then place some of the meatballs in a single layer in the pan and brown them on all sides. This is isn’t absolutely essential if you’re pressed for time, but it brings out a lot more flavor than just baking them, and it adds a nice texture on the outside.
Place meatballs on an oiled baking sheet, spaced about 1 in. apart, and bake at least 20 minutes, turning occasionally.

Buen provecho!

Things I Don’t Understand Why Everyone Likes

There are certain things that are apparently universally popular and well-liked that I simply do not understand. Like, I am baffled. I don’t see the appeal at all. And I have great taste.

1. Reality TV : It’s all the same premise — tacky attention seekers acting like children. Sometimes with variations like dancing, obscure cultures, or some sort of costume. And it’s getting out of control. Female wrestling divas? Hot moms? Really, I think it started to get out of control when The Swan became a thing.

2. Taco Bell : It’s made of dog food and it’s wrapped in a Dorito.

3. Alfredo Sauce : Congealed, thick, warm, white stuff is not appetizing under any circumstances. Make of that what you will.

4. Clam chowder : Congealed, thick, white, chunky warm stuff is possibly even less appealing. Combined with bits of what is allegedly shellfish but God only knows. Just no.

5. Scarlett Johanssen : For someone who only ever plays one character — the “self-consciously sexy, sexually liberated free spirit who’s just trying to find herself but who’s actually just really immature and obnoxious” — you’d think she’d be a better actress.

6. Dubstep : It’s robot music. And stop trying to tell me about the skill it takes to do it and how talented DJ’s are in their respective genres of techno, electronic, house, and dubstep — which are all exactly the same — because it’s bullshit. I, too, can press buttons on a keyboard. It’s not that hard.

7. Brie cheese : I don’t have a problem with it, I just don’t understand the appeal. It doesn’t have much flavor and the texture is what I would describe as rubber cream.

8. Vodka : It tastes like nail polish remover and ethanol. And it contributed to the single worst hangover I’ve ever had in my life that led to me praying for a swift death for a full 24 hours. I’m not biased though, it just sucks.

9. Ranch dressing on pizza : Why would you ruin a perfectly good slice of pizza by drenching it in ranch dressing?

10. Eggnog : See the “congealed thick white creamy stuff” sections above. And alcohol should never be tainted by eggs or frothy cream. Even the name is off-putting.

11. Shrimp : I wish I was classy and mature enough to like it, but the taste is not enough to get me past the texture. Or the fecal line. Google it, unless you really like shrimp and don’t want it ruined for you.

 

The Little Things

For all the sarcasm and mockery that constantly leave my mouth, I’m actually a very optimistic person. I think it’s important to acknowledge the little things that make us happy from day to day, inspire us, or elevate our life in some way – so here are a few of the things making me happy right meow.

Mismatched china, bold colors, and grilled fruit

Mismatched china, bold colors, and grilled fruit

Homemade Turkish Delight I got in London at Borough Market

Homemade Turkish Delight from Borough Market

Surprise random yellow trolleys in the hills off the coast

Surprise random yellow trolleys in the hills off the coast

Elaborate headpieces, like this one by Jennifer Behr

Elaborate headpieces, like this one by Jennifer Behr

 

Arugula Salad with Strawberries and Other Good Stuff

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When I was a kid I remember having the extremely typical American dinner of steak, potatoes, and salad in heavy rotation. Or chicken, potatoes, and salad. The point is that we had a lot of salad, usually involving iceberg lettuce and ranch dressing, because children are ignorant and don’t like salads that involve flavor or nutrition. Sometimes they stay that way well into high school, ahem, not naming names.

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I, however, was obviously ahead of my time, because I would always take most (all) of the avocado, cucumber, mushroom, croutons, and whatever other good stuff was in there for myself. Even then I knew that a salad without different textures and flavors is a waste of time. And stomach space.

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I’m a firm believer in salad as an entree — they just need enough stuff in them. I first invented some variation of this salad last year in Spain, driven by boredom with spinach and the divine smell of ripe strawberries. And I discovered that arugula and strawberries are a fabulous combination: the peppery taste of the arugula is a great contrast to the sweet, tart strawberries. When you add salty feta, sweet corn, and the mild flavor of green onion it’s off the chain; I generally don’t use dressing for this salad because there’s so much flavor in the ingredients and between the juice from the strawberries and tomato there’s enough moisture, but a balsamic goes with it nicely. Throw in some chicken for the protein and you’ve got a refreshing, satisfying salad that’s a meal of its own. Buen provecho!

Strawberry and Arugula and Other Good Stuff Salad

A few handfuls of arugula (sometimes called rocket) salad

6 strawberries, sliced

1/2 tomato, chopped

1/3 cucumber, sliced

1 green onion, diced

frozen corn

boneless, skinless chicken breast

feta cheese

salt and pepper to taste

garlic salt and lemon pepper, for the chicken

Season chicken with garlic salt and lemon pepper and cook over medium heat. Meanwhile, chop the other ingredients and toss them in a bowl. When the chicken is almost done cooking, throw some frozen corn in the pan with it so it can absorb some of the flavor as it cooks. Toss it all together, season with salt and pepper, dress it if that’s your thing, and enjoy.

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Karl Lagerfeld is Officially a (Fellow) Crazy Cat Lady

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Karl Lagerfeld is my spirit animal. I adore him. As an artist he’s a genius, obviously; more than that, he has great personal style, he doesn’t put up with Heidi Klum’s pretensions to high fashion supermodel-dom, and everything he does is both gloriously over-the-top and somehow totally normal/expected. He’s eccentric in the best possible way, and the man has a way with words. The shit that comes out of his mouth is just, I can’t even do justice to it. He puts bitches in their place. He just says exactly what he thinks, even if half the time it only halfway makes sense. But it doesn’t even matter because it’s so entertaining, and he’s not trying to be. Karl Lagerfeld is not trying to make you laugh — he doesn’t care what you think, he’s just going to blithely tell everyone what he thinks. I will someday do a post dedicated solely to my favorite things he’s ever said on any subject and all the outrageous things he does on the daily as if they were nothing, but for right now I just want to focus on one aspect of his divinity: the fact that he is, like me, a crazy cat lady.

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His Siamese cat Choupette has been declared (by him, first) “the most beautiful and famous cat in the world”; she has been profiled multiple times by Vanity Fair, i-D, and Harper’s Bazaar, among other publications; she got a shout-out from Cathy Horyn of the New York Times; she has her own Twitter and Pinterest accounts as well as a detailed Wikipedia page. She is an absolutely beautiful cat and I just want to put her in my pocket! Although I’m sure she’d insist upon a Chanel bag, given that she has her own iPad, two maids, and eats from a four-piece setting of silver Goyard dishes. You could not make this shit up.

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And he just rhapsodizes about her. He dedicates entire interviews to discussing her. He assigns her human qualities and won’t hear of anything less. In typical Karl artistic over-the-topness, he gives a simple physical description of her as “snow white with touches of caramel around the eyes, ears and on her endless boa-like feather tail”, and “really a stunning beauty”. He lets her sit on his papers even as he’s working, which any cat owner knows is a constant struggle, authors her Twitter account (which is actually really clever), has the maids keep a diary of her behavior when he isn’t around. She’s his muse. Being Karl Lagerfeld’s muse is all I want in life! (Although I would also settle for being muse to Keith Richards or Mick Jagger). The point is that Choupette lives a lifestyle I can only dream of. And she’s prettier than me.

The cementing factor in his status as a crazy cat lady: he recently said he would marry her if he could. We have so much in common. Get at me, Karl.

Things I Can’t: The Abuse of the Word “Literally”

Things are spinning wildly out of control. The major English dictionaries – all of them – have decided to add the figurative definition of the word “literally” to the literal definition. I don’t even. . . as if it wasn’t irritating enough that I’ve had to endure everyone and their mother (not literally – it’s just an expression) use “literally” as everything from metaphorical expression to a filler word, I now have to deal with it being justified by the stronghold of the English language. Note to Merriam-Webster: peer pressure is destructive. Fight it.

Some will accuse me of being an English major snob, but no, this is just straight ridiculous on every level. A few examples, taken from my personal interactions:

“Literally, he’s just like that. He literally is just such a cool person, I love him”.

“Literally, if you want to do that, just text me”.

“There were literally 40 billion people there”.

“I just, literally, am so mad. Like, it’s just literally uuuugh”.

“I literally want to slap and/or shake everyone who misuses the word ‘literally’ and tell them how dumb they sound”.

Guess which one of those was not figurative, but literal. This is bullshit. It’s the new “like”. It’s even the new “um”. It’s a lazy, unintelligent, overused bit of verbal fluff that most often comes with the accent of a Bop or a Bro. I’ve also heard it used in the technically correct sense of the word, but unnecessarily or redundantly, as in “I literally walked to the neighbor’s house”. Yes. Yes you did. That is absolutely accurate.

Look, I’m all for cultural adoptions and adaptations of words and phrases – I can and would love to semantically nerd out with you about the ways certain words and phrases have shifted in meaning over the centuries – but this is too much. It has done a complete 180 in meaning in an absurdly short period of time. It sounds dumb, ignorant, airheady, and immature. You’re better than that. Let’s all resolve to be better from now on.

Or I might literally start slapping people in the street.

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