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November 10, 2010

Cooking With Gas! And Reading With Gasps

The weather has been cold and wintry (read: 68 degrees) and yesterday I cooked up a big pot of black beans, good cold-weather food. I also set out some chickpeas to soak because today I'm making my favorite winter dish, kale and chickpea stew. I know the name sounds awful but it's DELICIOUS.

If you decide to make it, don't leave out the sausage. You don't have to use chorizo, I've used hot Louisiana sausage, spicy Italian sausage and herb turkey sausage instead (and you can use soyrizo if you want a vegetarian version). But the sausage adds the flavor. Also, you may want to get out your food processor to get the kale really finely chopped. I prefer that to big chunks of kale.

My cooking skills have improved quite a bit since I've been home with time to actually cook properly. I'm not constantly rushing, worried that dinner will be lumpy and burned at 11 p.m. I still fall back on many of my basic dishes (roasted vegetables, baked chicken, things that are hard to screw up) but lately I've been making a lot of dishes from the TV show Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d'Arabian.

A more accurate name for this show would be "Super Simplified French Cooking On A Budget," which is the perfect show for me. My cooking skills are mediocre at best but I've tried lots of d'Arabian's recipes and so far none have turned out poorly.

I made her version of a French roast chicken dinner for company a few weeks ago and it was unbelievably tasty. Last night I made the zucchini with herbes de Provence and it was outstanding. Later this week I'm making her lentil quinoa salad, which is both good and good for you. I know her recipes may not appeal to super foodies who prefer complicated cooking but for a remedial cook like me this show is perfect.

- - -

This has nothing to do with cooking, but over the weekend I read Portia de Rossi's memoir Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain. It was un-put-down-able.

This book is a very detailed diary of her eating disorder, particularly focused on the years she was on the TV show Ally McBeal. I'll tell you what, I just couldn't stop reading it.

If you've ever watched actresses on TV and wondered how they stayed so thin or if you've ever hated your own body because you can't manage to look like women in magazines, this is the book you need to read. It's a deeply disturbing look at Hollywood Skinny.

I've read my fair share of celebrity memoirs and most actresses aren't as honest about their issues as she was in this book. She didn't do any glossing or careful couching, this story is raw and real and honest. And it's horrifying. All we see on TV and in movies and magazines are women who are bone skinny, and we wonder why we don't look that way. But when I read this book I thought, Holy crap! Even Portia de Rossi couldn't look like Portia de Rossi.

It's the first book I stayed up all night to finish in a long time.

Posted by laurie at November 10, 2010 8:51 AM