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Tag Archives: cheesecake

Gymnauseum

Look at him, stalking all stalkingly.

It wouldn’t matter if I were sitting in the leprosy section of a one-star deli in Qatar, and a gentle sand breeze rolls my falafel off the table, into the jowls of an ill-tempered rhesus monkey armed with a rusty knife… I will fight that macaque to recover my chickpea ball, brush it gently on my hijab and then eat it. I don’t even care if I fail to do this within the five-second rule, either: The monkey and I can go tooth and shiv all day, while our deep-fried prize bakes in the Arab sun. I will still be the victor, and to me will go the still-edible spoils.

The point of this random fiction? I’m not a germaphobe. Having said that… holy shit, gymnasiums give me the bacterial willies. Let me back up a bit: This week, my Dentyne-sized friend, Autumn, has started working full time again (after some medical shenanigans), and is now dragging my rotund ass to the gym on our lunch break. After our first workout, she teased me about how much of a prissy diva I was—how nothing was clean enough for my fragile psyche. Whereas I would normally turn a non-confrontational cheek at such playful criticism, I must stand by my objection. Let’s break it down into components:

First, there’s getting changed. If you’re a man reading this, and have ever wondered about the naked pillow fights that clandestinely break out in women’s locker rooms, let me assuage your curiosity: it’s all true. Problem is, the only immodest contenders are old enough to have done alterations with Betsy Ross—and, oh, do they love to socialize. Look, I adore old folks, and hope to be one myself someday, but towel-up, ladies. I don’t need your dilapidated naughty bits to accidentally graze me. Again.

Then there’s the gym portion of the gym, where meatheads in wife beaters two sizes too small, with necks two sizes too thick, grunt and scream as if recording the audio book for Stoney and the Great Passage of Urethra. But ignoring all that is as simple as using ear buds. What is less forgivable is the pool of jock filth they leave in their wake and waft. How a towel was deemed to be an adequate absorber for such fungal man-leavings is anybody’s guess. More to the point, how have gym-employed bus boys not been invented yet? If restaurants see it necessary to chemically purge a table after every meal—even though food is already served on sanitized plating—how could a light brushing of drenched upholstery be compliant with health codes, at either a state or common sense level? Even the butcher paper a doctor rolls out for you would be progress.

I’ll take my chances with the monkey.

I already feel like I need a shower—which brings us to the closing act of the workout experience. Women, I know how fun it is to make hair art in the shower at home. I know the delights of gathering all the loose strands that have clung to the tile, rotary phoning them into clumps and giving each one a name and backstory. But… do you really need to share your masterpieces publicly? Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just an artless rube. Maybe I should just be grateful for the free toe rings. Shudder.

Of course, I wouldn’t have to endure any of this if I didn’t make such deliciously fattening shit like this:

Savory Ricotta Cheesecake

Bad picture—I was fighting the crowd at work to take it.

Crust

  • 6 oz Italian truffle cheese (this is available at Trader Joe’s)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 4 tbsp cold, unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt

The inspiration for this crust came after I made homemade Cheez-Its. Preheat oven to 350˚. Combine all ingredients in a food processor until they form a ball. Press into the bottom of a springform pan and prick several times with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove and cool slightly before filling.

Filling

Slightly better picture.

  • 30 oz ricotta cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp truffle oil
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Combine ricotta and eggs until blended. Saute shallots, garlic and thyme in truffle and olive oils until just cooked. Fold into ricotta mixture along with salt and pepper. Pour over crust and bake for 50–60 minutes, until a knife stuck in the center comes out clean.

Topping

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups oil packed sun-dried tomatoes

Drain tomatoes of most of the oil they are packed in. Place in a mini-food processor and chop until finely minced. Spread over the top of still warm cheesecake. Place on cooling rack. Once cooled, run a sharp knife around the edge of pan and then flip the springform latch. It can be served immediately or chilled overnight. I made this for the gang at work and it was a big hit.

Whaddya know? I’m once again using the space down here to apologize for everything above. This time, I want it understood that I’m writing from a place of catharsis, not superiority. What the hell do I have to be superior about when it comes to the gym? I’m forty and grotesquely out of shape (although I submit oval is most definitely a shape), so avoiding the gym is no longer an option for combating my sagging sogginess. Someone remind me why I gave up the metabolic goodness of smoking?

TWTG says, “I just want to be filled with a bathroom to pee in.”

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Out With The Old

It’s appropriate that my 10th post coincides with the new year: both mean the start of something fresh. This blog was given to me as an early Christmas present, and while I’ve always wanted a soapbox (opinionated bitch, here), I admit I was unsure about my resolve; my ability to be consistent rather than lazy (as evidenced by my last post). Russell suggested that I update every Monday, Wednesday and Friday so readers know when to expect something and so I can stay on top of my game. But, truth-be-told, I’ve quit a lot of life’s games. My company pays for a gym membership when sleep is my favorite sport. As a smoker, I’m a chronic quitter; my routine goes from on the wagon, to in the closet, to social, to chain, to tracheotomy candidate. I seem to love the idea of projects more than the followthrough.

But this blog has felt special from the starting line. I think the difference is passion. I might never be an enthusiastic nonsmoker, but my little slice of web space has been irresistible in its magic. I get to shove my opinion down your throat AND you thank me for the meal? Twofer! My hope is that the dedication it takes to fill your gullets with foodie goodness will be beneficial for my real life, as I want 2012 to be the year of getting crap done. For example, I want to lose ten pounds. The trick won’t be shedding the weight, but keeping it off while running a site that encourages not only happy fatness, but innovative happy fatness. Any other year, the challenge of working around two contradicting elements like that would’ve led to an early dismissal (again the means are more seductive than the ends). But I’ve been feeling a second wind lately, a need to do better. I think that might be the blog’s fault. I dunno, we’ll see how well I keep up with the triweekly structure, and how fat my ass doesn’t get.

Here’s to newness. Cheers.

Maple Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Bars

Crust:

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup granola, ground (I used Nature’s Path Organic Hemp Plus Granola)

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup ground walnuts

Filling:

1 package cream cheese (8 oz)

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1 tsp maple extract

1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp salt

Maple syrup (optional)

Preheat oven to 350˚. Butter 9×13 glass baking dish. Melt butter and cook until browned. Butter goes from browned to burned very quickly, so watch it. Remove from heat. Combine the remaining crust ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix well. Press evenly into bottom of prepared baking dish. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.

Meanwhile, add cream cheese and sugar to mixer and mix on low until creamed. Mix in eggs one at a time until blended. Add pumpkin, maple extract, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Mix until all ingredients are well blended. Pour batter over top of crust and bake for 25-30 minutes until center is set. Cool for 3-4 hours or overnight in fridge. Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup if desired. Trust me, it’s desired.

I cannot stress how important buttering the dish is. I looked at the buttery crust and thought, “eh no big deal.” I was wrong and had a helluva time getting the bars out. But, oh man, they were still cheesecakey goodness. It has come to my attention that I like to Frankenstein the letter Y onto the end of existing words to make new ones. In speaking, like cooking, that’s just how I roll, baby.