Judgment and Affection

[Please allow a brief rant…]
I read an article in one of the recent issues of Food & Wine magazine about food blogging. Mostly, the article reflected the ubiquitous astonishment at the exponential growth of the medium and the proliferation of advertising associated with it. (In fact, I read in the NY Times that Wal-Mart, in their efforts to improve their cheap-ass, monopolizing, small-town-hurting, economy-twisting, evil image, has arranged for some positive posting from various money-grubbing, sell-out, scummy bloggers.) Though in terms of food blogs specifically, the article described a few qualities that the author found particularly good and/or amusing.

He then proceeded to list a few of the criteria which, in his opinion, make a good blog, like purpose and theme and good writing. Mentally, of course, I’m checking his criteria against our blog and found I could not answer this question (his prime qualifier of a good blog): “The purpose of this blog is ______”. Hunh. I rolled that around in my head for awhile and eventually decided that I would say “recipe evaluation”. Or maybe “recipe review”, but that sounds too much like restaurant review and how many more of those animals does planet earth really need? As for good writing – well, duh. So, it has been determined—we now qualify as “good” based on one paragraph in one article outlining a stranger’s random criteria.

However, he then went on to describe what makes a really bad blog, otherwise known as “the cheese sandwich blog”. Apparently, this phrase was coined when so many people started food blogs that basically said things like “Today, I ate a cheese sandwich.” No substance, no story, no purpose, just random, JackHandy-esque thoughts. Evidently, writing without any of the above is banal, useless and generally an abuse of the blog phenomenon. And I must say, I disagree. Some of my favourite blogs, both food-related and non-food-related are decidedly theme-less and don’t purport to offer any deep wisdom, final conclusion, analysis or opinion; they’re just the humourous writings of a few people who live normal lives but who are able to capture it in such a way as to be interesting. Therefore, I shall not condemn “the cheese sandwich blog”, nor the cheese sandwich itself, for which I harbour much affection.

Lemon Turkey and CauliflowerNow, we may begin. The subjects of this recipe review are Lemon Garlic Turkey and Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower. Let us start with the turkey, as there was a lesson to be learned there. Lesson #1: when making a special request of a surly super-market butcher, be prepared to wait at least 15 minutes and to receive something unexpected. In our case, we decided to pass over the eight-dollar turkey thigh in favour of a special-request-turkey-breast which, after 15 minutes, resulted in a $27 piece of meat. This was supposed to be our thrifty meal for the week and ended up being, by far, the most expensive. But it’s not like we could’ve handed it back over the counter with a “oh, thanks, but no thanks, that’s too expensive.” We had to take it- he was holding a cleaver. I wanted to ditch it in the cheese aisle.

Lesson #2: Even those that hate cauliflower will consent to eating it once in awhile if it is covered in cheese.

We roasted both the turkey breast and the cauliflower. The former received a generous slathering of garlic-lemon butter and frequent basting while the latter roasted away in the corner of the oven with salt, pepper and olive oil; it got the parmesan treatment post-roast. In the end, roasted turkey is always good, and this one was especially so, due, I believe, to the basting, the garlic and the butter. And the reduced au jus! I quite enjoyed the cf and Marc tolerated it—for my sake, I’m sure. Sam did some of his best begging ever.

Lesson #3: A battle of rock-paper-scissors is necessary to determine who gets to take the roast turkey leftovers to work for lunch.

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