What I Learned This Week: #70


Monday, September  24   – Sunday, September 30


The Week in Domesticity Failure:  As I cooked and snacked this week, I ran out of panko (no big deal), pickles (a small deal), peanut butter (um, getting shaky), sharp cheddar cheese (feeling woozy), and then…and then…I ran out of bacon. Maybe I shouldn’t be bitching about running out of these relatively extravagant ingredients that I’m blessed to have on had on a regular basis. So I’ll bitch about my poor pantry planning skills and try not to drink the last of the bourbon.

The Week in Domesticity Success #1: For a work baby shower I wanted to make the Mom-to-be’s favorite mac and cheese, but I thought it would be difficult to eat in the setting we were working with. The Internets suggested cooking mac and cheese in cupcake tins. I tried it. It worked well, though I’d use foil cupcake paper next time. They were easy to pick up, delicious at room temperature, and dubbed, beautifully, by a co-worker as Mac Muffs.

The muffins are filled with a regular recipe of mac and cheese. This is a basic comfort food I learned to make without a recipe. The basis of mac and cheese is a bechamel sauce, one of the “5 Mother Sauces.” Not only do I get an ooey-gooey dish to eat, I get the satisfaction of exercising classic cooking techniques, like a pro. A pro who likes to lick the pan, but a pro nontheless.

gooey cheese
One of the best parts of mac and cheese is being mesmerized by the gently simmering cheese sauce. AHHH!

The Week in Domesticity Success  #2: My bathroom is never gross or, in my opinion, on the gross spectrum, but when I get a chance to give it a real, all surfaces cleaning, I feel like a domestic goddess…no matter what the rest of the apartment looks like.

The Week in How to Fail at Restauranting: This week I ate at the Blackbird Restaurant as part of Cincinnati Restaurant week. I have never sat a table with more inconsistent offerings. Much of what I ate was under seasoned. But some of what I ate was perfectly seasoned. One person really loved her lamb chops (though she found the portion a tad skimpy, even for the specially priced restaurant week menu) and another person found her steak tough and grisly. She’d actually paid a $10 upcharge to get the steak, so she was doubly disappointed. I had a very nicely cooked and seasoned peice of salmon on top of a jaw-droppingly bland pesto couscous, and there was too much of it. The salmon was mostly covering a wad of underseasoned, cooked spinach leaves. My plate was the embodiment of the good and bad happening across the table. The restaurant was short-staffed and our waiter was under-experienced. I know restaurant week can over-take restaurants sometimes, but serving inconsistent food is not going to win them any converts for their non-restaurant week service.

Blackbird Eatery
I wanted this picture to look as forlorn as I felt when I left.

The Week in How to Succeed at Restauranting: I first ate at the Silver Spring House when it first opened in 1988. It was literally a house and they had really good chicken and a really good bloody mary. I worked close by and we went there a lot, but when I left that job, I didn’t go but every couple of years. Every time I went, they’d added on a porch, or a room. I went back this weekend probably for the first time in 10 years, and the ‘house’ part is completely surrounded by new additions. The place was busy on a Sunday as NFL football games were starting. The food is good with a varied and reasonably priced selection of food, and bloody mary still comes with a beer chaser and a cocktail shrimp.

silver spring house
The sun shines on the Spring House.

The Week in Niche Voices: At around 11 on Thursday, while sitting at the Northside Tavern a friend asked if I wanted to check out Goth Night next door at Mixwell’s. “Goth Night in Cincinnati,” I thought, “what is that?” What it was, was just the Goth kids (and a percentage who were decidely not kids) who used to be so prevalent in the 80’s relegated to one night in a crappy Northside Bar. It was awesome though – Great music and great people making the most of their evening. Also, I was still wearing my work clothing, so I looked like someone’s Mom had come to break up the party.

The Week in Art: On my Saturday afternoon walk I passed the opened doors of the Peaselee Neighborhood Center and was led to the door by a string of “Art Show” signs. Inside the small area there were about 8 Latino men sitting around watching a video of the Art Show opening from the previous night. They graciously and enthusiastically invited me in to look at the art and sculptures. I fell in love with a Dali-inspired painting and it was in my price range.

Now, I hadn’t gone out looking to buy art, but artists will tell you their art is looking for the right home. And an artist can tell you about the art if you are lucky enough to buy from a living artist. The artist of my painting, Peter Moreno, pulled the painting off the wall and handed it right to me.


Peter Moreno.jpg
Me and this painting found each other on Sunday afternoon.






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