Life of Megan

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The joy of chicken thighs

Like most people in this modern world of "healthy cooking," I used to be chained to boneless, skinless chicken breasts. They can be cooked however you want, as long as you're willing to pound them to a homogeneous thickness or face tough meat or constantly struggle with the disparity between the size of the chicken breasts and the amount of chicken you're actually supposed to eat. But now, I'm free from this yoke. I discovered skinless chicken-thigh cutlets (aka boneless, skinless chicken thighs), and that has made all the difference.

Now, I can hear you thinking "but dark meat is so bad for you" yada yada yada. Sure, the thigh has more fat, but it has approximately the same number of calories as an equal amount of chicken breast (by weight), making the thigh feel more filling. Furthermore, chicken thighs start off at the right size. You don't have to figure out how to best cut one in half or into thirds without feeling cheated.

Better yet, chicken thighs are easier to cook than breasts. They remain juicy no matter what you do to them, and the meat is always tender. It's more flavorful than breast meat.

So I encourage you to try them out the next time you're looking for that mythic container of chicken breasts that weighs a pound and contains four breasts.

As for myself, I'm off to get lunch.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Campbell's Soup to Go... The well-paid graduate student's ramen.

I've experimented with a lot of lunch options, but when leftovers aren't available, I always seem to fall back to either PB&J or Campbell's Soup to Go. If I opt for the soup, I'm far less likely to abandon it for something else. My theory is that hot food gives you the illusion of being more full. It's also good because it takes a lot longer to eat than a PB&J sandwich.

Today, I tried a new flavor--Campbell's Chunky Grilled Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. Sounds bad for you, doesn't it? I thought it would be right up there with New England Clam Chowder or Chicken and Dumplings, but it turns out that it's another pretty good option (along with the delightful Mexican tortilla soup and the Italian wedding soup). Assuming that like me, no one else on Earth actually sticks to the half-container serving suggestion, the soup clocks in at 240 calories, 6 g of fiber, and 5 g of fat, making it 4 points on the WW scale and leaving you room for a snack later. Surprisingly enough, the sausage tastes like good sausage I would buy at the store, and the chicken is tender and delicious. The soup also has large chunks of okra and celery and has a small but decent amount of rice, making it a soup you can chew. Like most of Campbell's soups, this one shouldn't be consumed by those who need to watch their sodium--the bowl has 66% of the daily recommended value. Still, if you have a great blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and you, like me, happen to be a salty sweater (if I were a guy, I would explain this phenomenon, but I'm not, so you can look it up), the sodium isn't that bad. And it's probably what makes the soup so delicious.

Bon appetit.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Yep, sells everything

Meat Cutting Band Saw with Built-In Grinder

Seriously, it's something you have to see to believe.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A test for my mom...

We're teaching her how to be more savvy when it comes to Internet schemes.

Where will this link take you?

Don't cheat!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Such a strange world

When I'm not busy working or planning the wedding, I like to play an online game called World of Warcraft. It's an MMORPG, or a mass multiplayer online roleplaying game, meaning that if you want to be succesful in the game, you form groups with other players who you frequently don't know. My main character is a rogue, and one of her talents is opening locks. Players can find locked boxes on the monsters and villains they kill, so lockpicking can bring in a small amount of money in tips. As such, it's something I like to do while I'm, say, waiting for dinner to cook.

The other day, I was doing just that, waiting for dinner to be ready, and I ended up picking a lock for someone after some delay because Jud had just served up the food. I apologized for the delay, explaining its source, and the other player laughed and said "bon appetit." Now, I always have this brief glimmer of hope when someone says something in French that isn't horribly misspelled that perhaps the person actually speaks French, giving me an opportunity to brush up my skills. But you'd be surprised by the number of characters with names like "souris" who have no idea what the word they've chosen even means.

At any rate, I responded with my standard "Merci beaucoup!" and was about to log off when I see the reply: "Je vous en prie." Now that's not a phrase that many non-francophones know. Sure, you learn it in French I, but why bother with such a difficult, formal phrase when "de rien" or "pas de quoi" will suffice? (Besides, "pas de quoi" is a billion times more fun to say). So suddenly, I have a flicker of hope. I respond "Vous pouvez me tutoyer." And Fatigue (the player in question) responds: "Je t'en prie." And there's a pause. And then: "Canadienne?"

Finally! An actual francophone! We talked a while as I ate dinner, had a blast, and looked forward to chatting in French again. There's something about the French--they are genuinely delighted when someone who's not from a French-speaking country is willing and eager to speak French with them, no matter how awful their French may be at times. And this is even more true for Americans (or maybe it's just American women). They inevitably think it's really cool and unusual, and that our crappy accents are cute.

So then two days later, my guild joined a larger guild, and it turned out that Fatige was in the new guild. And that there are four other francophones. I spoke with a Moroccan yesterday who said he honestly would have almost believed I was a native speaker, and that I had at least grown up around the language. I have never heard such a nice complement from a French-speaking person in my life, so I was delighted. And he's giving me the recipe for harissa!

I'm so thrilled to be able to speak French with these guys. It's like IMing--almost like talking in real life, but it gives me a few to remember slang I've forgotten. And they seem happy to help me out and to speak French with an American. Of course, that's because I'm willing to tell them that they really don't want to tell everyone in the guild that they're "boring." Hehe. After all the time I spent in France trying to express frustration or confusion with every day things with no one telling me I should really choose other words, I feel it's the least I can do.

And the recipe to harissa!!! In case you don't know, harissa is a spicy sauce used in Moroccan cooking. It's what makes tagines and couscous dishes especially tasty. I always thought it was a magical substance like Old Bay seasoning. It's almost like a paste, and you buy it in neat tubes. While at the back of my mind, I knew you could probably make it, I always assumed the ingredients would be too random and expensive to compile just for the sauce. It seems that's not true. I can't wait to try it out.

Who knew a video game could help you improve skills not related to hand-eye coordination, problem solving, and map reading?