Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour 2010

What is this boring picture, you ask?

It's Las Vegas during Earth Hour last year! Two thirds of the The Bitch Stopped Cooking team were there last year to see the entire strip go dark for an hour to save electricity and bring awareness to climate change.

Tonight, March 27 at 8:30pm EST, join the millions of people around the world who are turning off their lights for an hour.

If Vegas can do it, so can you!

For more information, check out

Friday, March 26, 2010

Maria's Challenge - The Aftermath

So I finished my challenge and was feeling pretty good about it. I made my own coffee on Monday, brought some lunch, and then things started to taper off. I bought iced coffee on Tuesday, then was at school for 12.5 hours and brought NOTHING to eat... So I ate out. And then Wednesday was my birthday so Dan brought me breakfast and I bought myself iced coffee. THEN we went out to dinner on Wednesday night to the Atlantic Fish Company and right after we sat down, the smoke alarms starting going off. No, not going off, BLARING. So we sat there... and waited... (no one got up! did these people not go to elementary school?!) We finally employed sign language to order some drinks, and then sat there looking over the menu, unable to converse (it was SO loud.) I kept expecting it to just turn off the next minute, which is why we didn't leave, but it went on for FORTY FIVE MINUTES. We realized that it was probably the eating-out gods and goddesses punishing me for trying to eat out. It was pretty funny. We enjoyed our dinner... ate lobster and steak until we couldn't move, and then ate some dessert until we really couldn't move. It was all delicious (although Dan's filet tasted so much like the smell of IKEA that I couldn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to) and despite the sensorineural hearing loss we had a great night.

Another exciting thing is that for my birthday my friend Gina gave me a Dunkin Donuts gift card so that now I can buy REAL iced coffee in REAL cups without being plagued with guilt. Thanks Gina!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Challenging the Bitches: Maria's Challange - Day 7&8

I’m done! After Friday’s mishap, I redeemed myself on Saturday and Sunday. We went down to the Cape on Saturday and in the morning, for the first time ever when going to the Cape, I didn’t get iced coffee in the morning. I MADE iced coffee again! Check out how delicious it looks. I brought some for the ride as well, in those handy Au Bon Pain cups. For breakfast I had some peanut butter and crackers and some dried cranberries. I think they put drugs in the dried cranberries. Crackberries.

When we got to the cape, my mommy made us French toast. She is the best French toast maker in the universe. As you may know, the is the original bitch that stopped cooking, so this was extra special. For dinner we had delicious baked scrod. Again, the bitch momentarily started cooking again. And it was so good. My sister Julia and her boyfriend made the Dr. Pepper chocolate cake from the Dinosaur BBQ cookbook. So good. I was expecting it to taste a lot like Dr. Pepper, but it didn’t. It was so good. My other sister, Hannah, made a berry and custard trifle. So good!

The next morning for breakfast we had a delicious brunch of an egg scramble, crepes, and Belgian waffles and bacon and sausage. So amazing. That also counted as lunch. We left in the evening and were still pretty full from brunch (and the extra pound of trifle I ate in the afternoon). Around 9 we had some frozen pizza. This whole challenge I was wondering whether frozen pizza was acceptable, but I think it is. It is $5 for one, and it feeds two people, so if we had gone out instead we would have spent so much more money.

All in all, this challenge was really interesting and actually not all that hard. Given, much of my motivation came from the idea of the challenge. In real life, I would probably break down at many points. I am now much more aware of how much money I spend on eating out and I think that this challenge will definitely make me cook a whole lot more at home. I think one of the most important things to consider is the amount of money you spend on this food that is so temporary. In a week, you will completely forget your $11 lunch today, and you might as well have brought a peanut butter and jelly.

I am definitely going to continue to try to cook more things at night that I can bring leftovers of the next day. That’s a huge money saver. I am also going to make big batches of soup, lasagna, etc. and freeze them in individual portions for days when I have nothing to bring for lunch.

And I am going to try really hard to cut down on the iced coffee. Really. I am probably not going to bring that ridiculous orange cup with the baggie over it again, but I am going to tone it down on the coffee purchases. You can hold me to that.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Challenging the Bitches: Maria's Challenge - Day 6

It was a challenge, not a promise.

I don't know if you've ever had cheese steak spring rolls from Burtons Grill, but you'd blow it too. More on that later.

Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous out again, so I knew iced coffee was inevitable. I still had some left in the fridge from the day before. BUT, my wonderful boyfriend has this horrible tendency to load the dishwasher until it is completely full, and then shut the door. and walk away. So I go over and I'm like, Sweet! the sink is empty! Dan did the dishes! and I open the dishwasher and it's all food-y and dirty-y. Maybe he thinks the dishwasher has a sensor and when it senses it is full it turns on. What he doesn't know is that sensor is named Maria. (Now I will find out if he really reads our blog like he says he does.) So anyways, I have plenty of iced coffee, but those cool iced coffee cups I got from Au Bon Pain are dirty. (I have had a dishwasher my entire life, and it is just occurring to me now that I could have just taken them out and washed them by hand. But then I wouldn't get to show you this silly picture.) Any other day I would have abandoned the idea and gone to Dunkin Donuts for my fix. But you won't let me. So I found this ridiculous plastic orange cup that I probably bought in college and I found a complementary colored elastic and affixed a baggie over the top. I took a yellow straw and poked a hole in the baggie and was on my way. All the other kids laughed at me when I got to school. The coffee was delicious, though! I also had a TJ's greek yogurt for breakfast.

I had TJ's dried cranberries and a Nature Valley peanut butter granola bar for snacks.

For lunch I had leftover pasta and sauce and sauce-age from the night before. It was okay. I either have a cold or allergies, so my appetite and taste buds are shot, so eating was sort of just a chore. If I hadn't brought lunch I don't think I would have bought lunch. I probably would have just not eaten and survived off of post nasal drip.

And there ends the success with my challenge. I went home and then went back into the city to get my hair done. They have complimentary champagne there, which I had, but I don't think that's cheating. Then I went next door at met some friends at Burtons. My boyfriend is a bartender there and he bought my drink*. Then we went and sat down at a table and when it was my turn to look at the waitress and say something, somehow the words, "Philly cheese steak spring rolls and a mojito" came out of my mouth. The previous activities may have been excusable, but I absolutely violated the challenge here. The spring rolls were delicious. And the mojito was PERFECT. And I spent $25. My friends all said they wouldn't tell on me, but this is a challenge, not a look-at-me-I-can-do-everything-enge. So yes, I blew it. BUT, I am going to extend the challenge one extra day to make up for it. Also, what was I expecting, meeting friends at 8pm? NOT to get something to eat?

So then we went down to Game On and Katie bought me a drink and then the second round I wasn't drinking anything** so I bought her drink. Maybe excusable, since my drink was sort of paid for through an IOU?

Our waitress at Game On (yeah, you, grouchy gretta) totally sucked and then she threw our bill at us so we left and took a couple cabs home.

So I was not successful in not eating or drinking anything from a restaurant. But now the challenge will be 8 days instead of 7. Also, I think bringing that ridiculous homemade coffee cup thing to school scored me some challenge points.

One important thing to think about is not only the money I have saved not getting coffee every day, but also the plastic cups. I am definitely going to try to tone down my iced coffee buying.

*Some drink quantities may be altered due to blog's audience.

**Some shots may be omitted due to blog's audience.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Challenging the Bitches: Maria's Challange - Day 5

Yesterday was a good day. I woke up sniffing for java, to no avail. (You all must think I am some kind of idiot for not being able to figure out this coffee maker). As soon as I woke up I went into the bathroom and opened the window. (we just got one of those nightlights in the bathroom with the light sensor so I have been trying to remember to open the bathroom shade so that light comes in and the nightlight doesn’t turn on and so we will save $.02 per year on our electric bill.) When I opened the window, I saw a group of about six landscapers sitting around drinking medium iced dunkin donuts coffees. I am pretty sure they have been reading my blog and were just there to tempt me. It was like a commercial.

My delicious iced coffee dreams were shattered and I trudged downstairs to face that reality. I couldn’t get the image out of my head of their clear cups, dripping with condensation and filled with ecru goodness quenching their thirst while fulfilling their need for caffeine. I bet it smelled like fresh cut grass out there, too.

I decided that hot coffee just wasn’t going to cut it, so I would have to find a way to have iced. Then I realized it was the perfect opportunity to use The New Pitcher.

(When we first moved into our condo, we went to IKEA for a whole bunch of stuff. Of the $1,000 we spent, I was the most excited about this perfect little glass pitcher that was $2.99. It is perfectly constructed and the optimal size. I spent all of last summer coming up with new delicious things to fill it with. Then, in the Great Cupboard Collapse of 2009, we lost The Pitcher, along with All The Dishes and Any Hope of Ever Walking Barefoot in Our Kitchen Again. So for about a month, I tried to find a time to go back to IKEA and get a new one. I finally was able to, and drove the 40 minutes just for a $2.99 pitcher. So, as you may imagine, I use The New Pitcher at every chance I get.)

I put The New Pitcher in the freezer, along with two of these plastic cups that I bought from Au Bon Pain during an iced tea kick last summer. I then brewed some extra strong coffee and then poured it into The (chilled) New Pitcher, and added some ice. It was not as bad as I was expecting. I had two cups, one for the ride in and one for as soon as I got to school. It was quite satisfying. Still didn’t solve my afternoon iced coffee craving, but it was sufficient.

For breakfast I had a TJ's Greek yogurt and a granola bar. I have been really into Nature Valley Peanut Butter granola bars lately. I have also been really into dried cranberries. $1.99/bag at Trader Joes! Much juicier and more delicious than Craisins.

I guess I didn’t have lunch yesterday. I have Neuroanatomy at lunchtime and one time we dissected brains on the desks, so every time I try to eat on them I feel like I am eating oligodendrocytes and drinking cerebrospinal fluid. Grossss. Also we were getting back our midterms so I figured I wouldn’t waste food that I was just going to throw up anyways. Then directly after Neuro I have clients until 5, so there really isn’t any time to eat.

I had to babysit at 6:30, and on any other day I would have stopped somewhere to grab something to eat beforehand. However, the people for whom I was babysitting live just a mile from my house, so I went home first. I decided to make pasta and sauce. I usually leave pasta as a last resort, when all the beans and cereal have been eaten up and we are physically unable to leave the house to get anything else. We had some sausage in our freezer that some friends left, and I decided to cook some of that too. I am just getting out of a ten-year sausage aversion, so this was a big step for me. It turned out to be quite delicious. I had it with grated parmesan and some fancy vodka sauce that was on sale. I was really lucky that this week I was babysitting for this family on Thursdays. Every other Thursday of my life I babysit for a family that lives between my school and my house, so I would never have the opportunity to stop home and make dinner. I suppose I would have had to bring something for dinner to eat in the car on the way over there or something. I lucked out on this one.

That was about it for my day. Had I eaten three actual meals, it would have been a little more difficult, but it worked out the way it was. For some reason I wasn’t that hungry. Must have been all those dried cranberries. However, if it had gotten out of hand I would have probably bought something. All the money you save not eating out is no fun if you starve to death. Then you can’t even use it.

Tonight I am going out with some friends. I think I am definitely just going to play the it’s-almost-my-birthday card and get drinks bought for me. Or just bat my eyelashes. Any suggestions? I’ll let you know how it goes.

I have had a lot of people asking about my lunchbox. I got it from Naturally Felt, a storefront on Etsy.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Challenging the Bitches: Maria's Challange - Day 4

It is GORGEOUS out and there would be nothing more delicious than a medium iced with skim milk and one sugar. But then you would have nothing to read about today.

Yesterday went well… I ran into one minor glitch in the evening (more on that later) but I am still successful with my challenge! Yesterday I didn’t have class until1, so I got to sleep in. I made coffee at my leisure (I didn’t try to preset it this time!) and had a Trader Joe’s Greek yogurt for breakfast.
I brought leftovers from the mustard-crusted chicken for lunch, but there weren’t any leftovers for the vegetables or starch, so it was just the chicken. Sort of boring and not a complete meal, but I managed.

Last night I had to babysit. I picked them up from school we made a frozen pizza for dinner with some salad. Even though frozen pizza may sort of seem like cheating, I didn’t buy it, and I was instructed to make it for dinner.  After dinner we were playing a ball game that we made up and I told one of the girls that if she scored a goal on me I would take them out for ice cream. She did (I let her, i’m actually unstoppable at base-ket-hock-bike-ball). So then I realized I sort of dug myself into a hole. If I explained to them the challenge, they would never accept that as a good enough reason not to get ice cream. If I backed out on the offer, they would have hated me forever. So, we piled into the car and headed over to J.P. Licks. Back when I ate out and got coffee at places, I was at J.P. Licks and got a “cow card”, which is like a member card or whatever that gives you free stuff and takes up space on your keychain. When we got there I realized that with the cow card I was entitled to a FREE SMALL ICE CREAM! I got them kiddie cups and got myself a small cup (they were so jealous and then I made them try my ice cream – coffee – and they got over it real quick.) So, I did pay for theirs but I did not pay for mine. I felt like I was violating my challenge, and maybe I was, but I just couldn’t not take them out for ice cream. What do you think, readers? Did I violate my challenge? (If you say yes maybe I can quit and run to Dunkin Donuts!)

Another exciting thing about the cow card is that I am entitled to a free coffee!!! And YES, IT CAN BE ICED!

So, in theory, yesterday went well. Technically, I may have slipped up a little. Tonight when I am babysitting I am going to keep my mouth shut and maybe skip making bets I can't keep in base-ket-hock-bike-ball.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Challenging the Bitches: Maria's Challange - Day 3

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I hope you're doing something fun, and maybe cooking our St. Patrick's Day menu!

This whole not spending money on food thing is getting tricky! Yesterday morning I had a very early class, and once again I tried to make the coffee machine turn on at the preset time. Yet again, there were not any coffee aromas floating up to awaken me. I trudged down and turned it on and was soon on my way. For breakfast I had a granola bar again, and for lunch I brought leftovers from the gumbo the night before.

My sister was picking me up in the afternoon and I had to wait a little bit. It was gorgeous out and sitting in the sunshine I would have done just about anything to be able to buy an iced coffee. I refrained…. although I still think this would have been a reasonable purchase.

We went to visit some family outside of Boston and got stuck in quite a bit of traffic on the way home. If it hadn’t been for my challenge, we probably would have stopped and picked up take-out on the way home. Instead we went to Trader Joe’s and got some food. We made the Mustard-Crusted Chicken recipe that is on our website. (have you tried this, readers? it's the best!) It was delicious, but I was really hungry when we were making it and when I am really hungry I am really grouchy, so that wasn’t fun. It would have been a lot easier just to get takeout. But…. It was delicious and inexpensive and now I have lunch for today.

If I wasn’t doing this challenge, today could have been more convenient. I guess you have to think about what convenience is worth to you, and how much you are willing to spend on it. When I think about it today, it was fine making dinner and not getting take-out last night, but at the time I would have preferred just to pick something up.

I am starting to think that the hardest part of this challenge is not getting iced coffee. And no, I can't make my own. It's just. not. the. same.

I am going out with friends on Friday night and with this challenge I can’t buy any drinks! I guess I will either have to look phenomenal or talk about how my birthday is next week and hopefully I will get my drinks bought for me. J

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Challenging the Bitches: Maria's Challange - Day 2

I still haven't spent a penny on food!

Yesterday I made coffee in my coffee maker, even thought it was my first day back from spring break, daylight savings, and pouring rain. All I wanted was a nice hot latte that I didn't have to make. But I filled up two travel mugs instead and went on my (not-so) merry way. I just got a new hand-me-down coffee maker that can be programmed to brew at a certain time. I can't figure out exactly how to set it, so I try a different button every night and then every morning when my alarm goes off I lay there trying to smell coffee to see if maybe this time I figured it out. Still no luck, but it usually gets me out of bed to check and see if it worked. It's like waiting for Christmas. Once I do figure it out hopefully I will get out of bed out of fear of my house burning down if I oversleep.

I am not much of a breakfast person; the thought of cereal and yogurt before I've been awake for at least two hours makes me feel like that girl in the exorcist. Any other breakfast foods cannot be made by zombies, thus I don't make breakfast before the zombie-ness wears off, which is usually much after I have left the house already. Yesterday I grabbed a granola bar for breakfast and ended up eating it during class.

For lunch I had leftover stir-fry and rice. As soon as I went into the lounge to grab it from the fridge, I noticed a giant spread of delicious-looking sandwiches and brownies that were leftover from some event that had just finished. I couldn't help but laugh about the irony of bringing my lunch, doing this challenge, and having to bypass this phenomenal spread of french bread, gourmet deli meats, oozing with mayonnaise, mustard, and topped with crispy iceburg lettuce*. So I put my pyrex in the microwave and ate my leftovers. It was really quite delicious, just as good as the night before, and I soon forgot about the heavenwiches.

When I got home, I knew I had a few hours before dinner because Dan doesn't get home until 8:45 or so on Mondays. We had company for dinner (one of the other bitches and her husband and daughter) so I wanted to make something tasty to snack on. I remembered the sage-fontina grilled cheese sandwich triangles that I had made for the super bowl, and I was thrilled that I had all of the ingredients. I made up the sandwiches, and when our company came they also brought some appetizers. Delicious way to pass the time.

When dinner rolled around, we had Cajun Chicken Gumbo that I made in the slow cooker. I got the recipe from this cookbook, which is a great resource for slow cooking. It has a TON of recipes, many of which I had no idea you could make in the slow cooker. I also made some brown rice over which I served the gumbo. Unfortunately my "garden fresh okra" was actually "gross moldy okra" so I couldn't put it in. While okra is key to gumbo, I don't particularly like it because if you overcook or undercook it it can be slimy and stringy and gross, so it wasn't devastating that I couldn't use it.

Dinner was delicious. I had prepared it the night before and Dan put it in the crock pot around 1, so it cooked for about eight hours. It took a little while to make because I had to make a roux, but it was worth it. Spicy and tasty. With plenty left over for lunch!

For dessert, my sister brought some fudge from the Chatham Candy Manor, which was scrumptious, as usual.

I found my challenge to be fairly easy on this second day. If I hadn't been doing the challenge I probably would have bought a coffee in the morning (and probably upgraded to a latte). If I didn't have lunch of leftovers from the night before I may have bought lunch. Additionally, we probably would have gone out to dinner instead of coming to my house. This challenge saved me a LOT of money today. Three meals' worth! And it was delicious and probably significantly more healthy. Hooray!

*some sandwiches may be changed to protect identity. and add allure.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Challenging the Bitches: Maria’s Challenge.

I recently downloaded an app for my iphone that is based on the website, It takes all of your financial information and comes up with a list of how much money you have, how much money you owe, and where you spend all of your money. It also allows you to create a budget based on your lifestyle. I found that I spend a ridiculous amount of money on food. I don’t mean groceries. I mean burritos. Iced coffee. Lunch because I was too lazy to make something that morning. Grilled cheese because I had midterms and I wanted to cry. Being an unemployed graduate student, I saw this as a pretty significant problem in my financial statement, yet something I have control over. I decided to challenge myself to one week of not buying a single food item other than groceries. This is the first part of a three-part series entitled Challenging the Bitches.

Day 1 (Sunday)

I had spent the weekend visiting my sister in New York and knowing that I was starting this challenge, I made the most of my last days of being able to buy food other than groceries. It was a fabulous excuse to eat out! Before I left for New York, we went to The Talk in Watertown, which is one of my favorite restaurants. We also got a delicious calzone from Upper Crust Pizzeria.

When I left for New York I got my favorite, Dunkin Donuts iced coffee.

When we were in New York City, we went to Quickly, where we got Hot Pot. Check out our amazing spread! (Granted, with hot pot you do all of the cooking yourself, but it was still “going out to eat”).

When I got back home I went grocery shopping and hopefully got enough to last the week.

On Sunday night I was exhausted and didn’t want to cook, but I knew that if I did, then I would have leftovers to bring for lunch on Monday. I starting defrosting sausage to make spaghetti and sausage, but all the pots and pans were dirty. I was far too tired and uninspired to do the dishes, and realized that we did have one clean pan: the wok!

I remembered that I had bought some frozen stir fry vegetables from Trader Joe’s and I had just bought some chicken at the grocery store. I cooked the chicken in the wok, then took it out and added the frozen veggies. I also added some frozen corn. In the meantime I cooked some boil-in-a-bag brown rice. Ihave to admit I cooked it in the microwave. I rarely microwave anything, so that really goes to show how lazy I was feeling. As soon as the veggies were just about done, I added the cooked chicken and tossed it all in some Trader Joe’s General Tsao’s Stir Fry Sauce that I had in my cupboard. I put the rice in some bowls and topped it with the stir fry. Delicious!

This meal was really delicious, very healthy, and extremely easy to make. If I had more time (daylight savings gets me every time) I would have used fresh vegetables and I wouldn’t have microwaved the rice. I also would have made my own stir fry sauce instead of the Trader Joe’s. But given the circumstances, it was great in a pinch.

Even better, it was inexpensive (see the cost list below), it was delicious, and it didn’t take more than a half hour total. Now both Dan and I have leftovers to have for lunch. If I had done what I usually do when I am tired and lazy and not wanting to cook, we would have made a frozen pizza by which we were only mildly satisfied, and I wouldn’t have delicious leftovers for lunch, causing the need for a $7 sandwich. And probably a $2 drink. And $1 chips. And since it’s rainy probably dessert too.

Total cost of dinner:

Nature’s Promise Chicken Breast: $4.88

Trader Joe’s Frozen Stir Fry Vegetables: $2.99

Trader Joe’s General Tsao’s Stir Fry Sauce: $0.50 worth

Two bags of Stop and Shop boil-in-bag Brown Rice: $0.375 each, $0.75 for both

Total cost of meal: $9.12

Cost for two people: $4.52 per person

Cost for two meals for two people: $2.28 per individual meal

Thursday, March 11, 2010

St. Patrick's Day - History and Recipes

We know that St. Patrick's Day isn't for another six days, but just in case you're celebrating this weekend instead of next Wednesday, we're posting this now so you can get your grocery shopping done now. We've included a grocery shopping list for each of these recipes at the end of the post.

Who was St. Patrick?

Saint Patrick is the patron Saint of Ireland. He was born in Britain at the end of the fourth century A.D. and is believed to have died on March 17 in the year 460 A.D. When he was 16, he was taken prisoner by some Irishmen who were raiding his family’s estate. After being held captive for six years in Ireland, he escaped and returned to Britain. In a dream, an angel told him to return to Ireland as a missionary with the goal of converting the Irish to Christianity. Instead of eradicating Irish tradition and beliefs which were pagan and based on nature, he incorporated them into his teachings of Christianity. Stories of his life were spun and exaggerated by the Irish people over the years and he is still celebrated today. One act he is well-known for is banishing all snakes from Ireland. In actuality, Ireland has never had any snakes on it. The snakes represent the pagan, nature-based religion of Ireland, which St. Patrick successfully eliminated. In fact, within 200 years of his arrival in Ireland, everyone was practicing Christianity.

So, why corned beef and cabbage?

Similar to the division of feelings about cilantro we discussed in our previous post, we have found that corned beef is also a love it or hate it kind of food. Where did eating corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day come from? It has nothing to do with Mr. Patrick. The traditional dish of Irish bacon was too expensive for Irish immigrants living in New York City’s Lower East Side. They substituted it with the less expensive corned beef, which they learned about from their Jewish neighbors. Cabbage has always been eaten in Ireland, but it only recently became associated with St. Patrick’s Day at the turn of the 19th century.

Are you in the “love it” or “hate it” camp? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. And, if you love it, apparently you’re not alone: In 2007, roughly 41.5 billion pounds of U.S. beef and 2.6 billion pounds of U.S. cabbage were sold.

Corned Beef and Cabbage (from Laria Tabul’s recipe on

• 3 pounds corned beef brisket with spice packet
• 10 small red potatoes
• 5 carrots, peeled and julienned
• 1 large head cabbage, cut into small wedges

1. Place corned beef in large pot or Dutch oven and cover with water. Add the spice packet that came with the corned beef. Cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer approximately 50 minutes per pound or until tender.
2. Add whole potatoes and carrots, and cook until the vegetables are almost tender. Add cabbage and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove meat and let rest 15 minutes.
3. Place vegetables in a bowl and cover. Add as much broth (cooking liquid reserved in the Dutch oven or large pot) as you want. Slice meat across the grain.

Irish Soda Bread

This recipe is from Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread’s website. The site offers recipes, history and resources for preserving the legacy of the true Irish Soda Bread. I know! I didn’t know people took it that seriously, either! They’re on Facebook, too, if you’re interested.

4 cups (16 oz) of all purpose flour.
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon salt
14 oz of buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 F. degrees. Lightly crease and flour a cake pan. In a large bowl sieve and combine all the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough. Place on floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows the gas to escape). Shape into a round flat shape in a round cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough. Cover the pan with another pan and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes. The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped so show it is done. Cover the bread in a tea towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist.

Green Beer

St. Patrick loved his beer green, so we keep up the tradition today. Simply add green (or blue) food coloring to your light beer and there you go! This guy has step-by-step photos to guide you in your beer coloring adventures. He also tests which works better – green or blue dye.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from all of us at The Bitch Stopped Cooking!

Shopping List for recipes in this post.

St. Patrick information:
Beef and cabbage data:

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cilantro and the experience of taste

Ever notice a strong divide among cilantro lovers and haters? Sure, all foods are enjoyed by some and loathed by others, but when it comes to cilantro, the divide seems to be more pronounced. There may be a scientific explanation for this. Research suggests that people can experience taste drastically differently depending on their taste buds. Those in the cilantro-hating camp report that, to them, cilantro tastes something like lemony, soapy dishwater, and they avoid the herb at all costs.

Reporter Josh Kurz, a cilantro hater, sought to get to the bottom of the issue using a Gas Chromatograph, a machine that slowly heats up whatever is placed inside it, in this case, cilantro. Different chemical compounds in the cilantro evaporate at different temperatures, and with the machine, Kurz was able to identify just what it is about cilantro that he – and millions of others around the globe – finds so noxious.

Kurz took part in the experiment along with a couple cilantro lovers. When unsaturated aldahydes were evaporated, Kurz identified them as the root of his cilantro hatred; the cilantro lovers, however, smelled nothing. Shortly thereafter, the two cilantro lovers identified the unique aroma that draws them to the herb, and Kurz – you guessed it – smelled nothing.


In the cilantro example above, Kurz displayed the traits of what he refers to as a supersmeller. Related to this is a group of people known as supertasters. These are people who perceive the taste of a certain chemical compound, phenylthiocarbamide (PCT) as very bitter, while the rest of us perceive it as tasteless. Supertasters also have significantly more taste buds than the non-PCT sensitive (“non-taster”) tongue.

While PCT itself is not found in food, related chemicals are, and it is hypothesized that PCT sensitivity plays a role in determining food choices. PCT tasters tend not to like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, Brussels sprouts and other vegetables with PCT-like compounds, and may thus consume fewer servings of vegetables and more sweets and fats than non-tasters. Their overall high acuity for taste may cause them to eat less of a variety of foods. Overall, supertasters have been shown to have a marginally higher risk of diabetes and heart attack than non-tasters. On the bright side, being a supertaster appears to be protective against cigarette smoking, as supertasters are more sensitive to the negative taste of cigarettes. Genetic differences among people in the perception of sweet flavors have also been found.

An excuse for picky eaters?

Being a supersmeller or supertaster may explain why some people are picky eaters and some are not. So, picky eaters, rejoice. Next time someone gives you a hard time about your selective food choices, explain to them that you might simply perceive the taste of food differently than others, and may be more sensitive to taste than most people. If you think you might be a supertaster (or just plain don’t like many vegetables), try to find a variety of vegetables that you do enjoy, and try to increase your vegetable consumption. For the rest of us, keep your dinner guests in mind when choosing to serve a dish that contains cilantro. You don’t want to offend any supersmellers by serving them a dish that tastes like lemony, soapy dishwater.

Readers, what do you think? What are your own experiences with cilantro, or the perception of taste in general?