Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's Day 2009

I had the flu this Valentine's Day. I had not been out of my apartment for a two days, missed my sketch group, The Ultimate Experts show, and was still in a pretty good mood.

Well, a better one than my bitter 2007 counter-part.

And a non-comedy one, unlike my equally angsty 2008 counter-part.


No, this year was indeed different because I have a boyfriend.
Shock!

He's a very nice man, that I speak of sparsely here because, well it's weird to talk about in blog format.

What I will say is, he treats me very well.
Here's the picture of this year's Valentine's.

Even though we had to skip the fancy meal and have shitty take-in, we had a pretty great time and no Hallmark's were exchanged.
Take That Establishment!

The tulips were "get well flowers", the roses and bear were part of the present I had to wait and open at midnight.

If that's all too cute for you, well thinking of my hacking cough from the flu.
Eww.
See, now it's just gross.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Behold, the Power of Bisquick

This blog may also be tittled,
Things I Learned in Home-Ec That Stuck With Me

In the early 90's seventh graders at Garden City Middle School had electives added into their schedules. You spent one quarter with four different classes:
  1. Woodworking with Mr. C (I leave out his name for his own sake, but those who had him will recall he had a rhyme to remember his name by) - We built your standard memo holder, keyholder, decorative shape hanger, etc.
  2. Art Class with Mrs. Lady from NYC Art Scene - It's awful that I can't remember her name, but I learned a lot about artists and art theory from her.
  3. Band/Orchestra/Chorus/Music Appreciation - I had band with Mr. Guido. I will print his name because he was awesome. I got detention a bunch in his class for talking. It was fun detention though because we'd look through his record collection and listen to music as he would tell me that I was a good kid, but I just had to learn to shut my freakin' mouth.
  4. Home Economics with PMS. I sh*t you not folks. The woman's initials were PMS.
PMS was a crazy teacher to have in your pubescence. It was honestly quite weird to learn about this crazy new thing that was happening to your body which is the Pre-Menstraul Syndrom, but to have a physical embodiment of it standing before you by exact initials - it was a pre-teen clowns dream come true.

She was something out of a Roald Dahl book. Tall and lean with smokey glasses and voice. A stern woman that would lurk about the classroom.

And my peers in that particular class were ones I became rather close with. Four of us in particular were thick as theives, all of us named Susan. Three of us went by the name Sue, and there was one girl who went by the name Susan. None of us liked to be called Susie, and I was often referred to as Funke. This was not just because I had the distinct last name, but I am also the youngest of four children. The three of them had also had the honors of learning via PMS.

As in most American home economic classes you have to learn several different skills. There was sewing, which I picked up on quickly because I was counter cross stitching at young age. (Really, in the 1980's people still did that. Now there is probably a video game where you can virtually cross stitch your heart's sayings.)

The sewing test was to make a sweat shirt. You were allowed to pick out the color, but everyone had the same fabric. This was the standard test everyone had every year. This resulted in sibling spectrums of mishapen boldly colored sweatshirts for generations of Garden City families.

The cooking portion was the one that PMS was the most empathic about. She made it clear that you had to learn to cook. For it was not just your grade that depended on it, it was also your life. This was not so much taught to us, but drilled into us by PMS. Her creepy coarse voice would dictate to you how to cook basic meals.

(I must've missed how to boil an egg, because for the life of me I can not carefully drop an egg in water without breaking it. It drives me NUTS. )

Anyway, the one lesson I do recall, that I believe each and every one of her students probably never could forget- was Bisquick.

See in PMS's book of home making, Bisquick is what you want to have on hand whereever you may live in life. Bisquick is the end all-be-all/ace-in-the-hole of food. I am positive of this because the Sue's and our male counterparts in the class (one of which I had been friends with since I was 2, then there were the two Brians I became best pals with that year, and the third I ended up dating for 9 years.) made it a game of making PMS recite to us just exactly how versatile it was -

Student, Most Likely Named Sue
Could I make pizza with Bisquick?

PMS
Of course! You can use Bisquick for the crust! All you need is water, sauce and cheese! You've already got the base, Bisquick.

Student
What about a burger?

PMS
You can make the buns.

Student
What if all I have is water? Can I make anything with Bisquick then?

PMS
You can make dumplings.

Student
What if all I have is a rusty nail, a magnifying glass, Bisquick, and a dream?

PMS
You can stay after for detention.

We made about ten different dishes with Bisquick. Each one was proceeded with the lesson that Bisquick is versatile, and that it must be measured PRECISELY. PMS would give us a recipe, then she'd walk through it, then we'd have to make it by ourselves in a team of 5.

Maybe this is why I love Top Chef, because in Middle School we had our very own bake-off's and were judged harshly. Except I don't really feel like Colicchio could hold a candle to PMS.
No, really, he wouldn't be able to do it. She's that creepy.

Did I mention she had a name plate with just her initials? It was like she was giving the joke away, seriously.

As ridiculous and bizarre as the woman was, today I as I enter into my new apartment and do my first self shopping trip as an adult - I found myself writing Bisquick at the top of my list.

At first, it was just for pancakes. Then, I found myself wanting a bisquit with my soup, so I threw some Bisquick and water in a pan.

Now, not even an hour ago I found myself craving cookies. Unfortunately, I knew this craving would come and diet-minded Sue did not purchase dough, or a quick mix. But what diet-minded Sue did not count on was the wiley cunning skills of the cookie craving mind. For, I looked up cookies by scratch online, and when I came up with no baking soda or powder (For Shame!) I realized - I had the Bisquick.

I then remembered PMS standing there in her revelry, "If you add spices to the Bisquick it picks up the flavor quite easily."

Bam! Homemade cookies that are fluffy and ridiculously good in 20 minutes were born.

Funke's Bisquick M&M Cookie Recipe...all of this is approximate, I was winging it as I was mixing it
-1 1/4 cup sugar
-2 tsp of vanilla
-2 tsp of cinnamon
-2 eggs
-1/3 cup of butter
-1 1/3 cup of Bisquick
-Handful of M&M's

The only problem, Bisquick is so freakin' heavy. I had like three cookies and can still feel them.
Was it worth it though?
Um, hells yeah.

So, whereever you are PMS thank you for your ridiculous love of Bisquick. And the weird characterization of PMS.

I think I'm going to try dumplings tomorrow. :)

My Apartment, is a very very fine apartment...

With the N train across from the balcony....

Yes. I do have a balcony.

Yes. I'm serious it's right across from the N train.

See, that's the train going by my balcony.

And this is me writing at my desk in reflection of the sliding doors.
Those are my hunter green curtains. You can also kinda see the Queens skyline I look out upon.
It's lovely.

Sure, it's a little noisy.
Sure, I live across from a person who complains that my TV is loud.
(My response, "You are aware of the elevated train that's right next to my thin wall, right?")
Sure, the heat isn't always turned on when it's below 30 degrees and that kinda sucks when you have the flu.
But it's all mine.
and I lerve it. (bottom definition for those that are not familiar...I'm talking to you Jennifer. Watch Annie Hall already!)

Things I Make Myself

So, now that I'm living alone I've been making more meals for myself.
Partially, because I need to save, but mostly because I love cooking.

And baking! I've baked three times since I've moved. Brownies and cakes - all from store bought packets...
but my mother is donating her old mixer to me.
So, look out! I have a feeling cookies are a month or so away.

The cooking is getting out of hand though.
Nothing is simple anymore.
See, I live right by a bakery and this made me think one thing:
BREAD BOWLS.

So, when I had the flu I didn't just have chicken noodle soup.
No! I had Campbell's Select Chicken Soup in a bread bowl.

And just now, I went to make myself some tuna.
But I was like, I don't just want the mayo and tuna on toast.
I want crackers and tuna. I want to make it a dip.

This is what I ended up making:
Sue Funke's Impromptu Tuna Dip
1 can Tuna in water
1 1/2 tbsp of Reduced Fat Sour Cream
1 scallion chopped
2 shakes dried garlic chopped
1 shake pepper
1 shake garlic powder

Stir ingredients together and serve with reduced fat Cheez Itz

I even plated that for myself.
Apparently, this is how I nest.