Monday, September 27, 2010

Hot! Too Hot!

It's hot here in San Francisco today. Really, legitimately, hot. Wish-I-had-air-conditioning-at-home-and-at-work hot. Dark-Helmet-drinking-coffee hot.

Hot enough, really, that all I want to eat is cold food. It is in this sweaty spirit that I share with you one of my favorite no-cook recipes.

Kate's Provencal Tuna Salad

Serves 1
Prep Time: 10 minutes unless your knives are dull

1 3 oz. pouch of chunk light tuna PLUS 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil OR 1 can of really good tuna packed in olive oil, drained well and blotted with paper towels
zest of 1/4 lemon (about a teaspoon or two) (see notes)
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1/3-1/2 cup ripe tomato, chopped (see notes)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
6-8 oil cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped  (see notes)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Flake the tuna into a bowl, adding the olive oil if not oil-packed. Add everything else except the salt and pepper and mix with a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste - you will mostly likely want at least 1/4 teaspoon of each to make the flavor really come out. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, either in the fridge or on the counter, to help the flavors blend.

Lemon zest - Do yourself a favor and buy a microplane grater. If you don't have one, use a paring knife to peel off the zest, then slice it into strips and chop it very finely.
Tomatoes- Any variety will do, but if they are not in season, use grape tomatoes
Olives - You can sub kalamatas in this if you are a pansy, but I strongly prefer the punch the oil-cured olives add to the mix

Serve any of the following ways:
Salad: Put in a bowl. Eat with a fork.
Sandwich: This is great on toasted multi-grain bread or stuffed in a warmed whole wheat pita pocket
Peasant-style: Add some boiled, chilled, coarsely chopped red or fingerling potatoes (you'll also need to add a bit more olive oil and salt)
Fancy: Lop the top off a fist-sized tomato, hollow it out and stuff it with this. Stick a parsley sprig in the top.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Hook Problem

Almost exactly nine years ago, my dear dad and I drove the long, flat, boring road from Chicago to Austin in my move to Texas. Of course, once we got to Austin and unpacked Vinny (my car), we made a trip to The Container Store, or, as Dad likes to refer to it, Anal-Retentive Heaven.

As anyone who has moved all of their wordly belongings out of state knows, moves are hard. They're stressful.

In the midst of such stress (mostly on my part), we found ourselves wandering the aisles of The Container Store at the Austin Arboretum. As lost people are wont to do, we were going up and down every aisle in the store to make sure we weren't forgetting anything. I don't know how familiar you are with The Container Store but their employees are aggressively friendly. This one saleswoman, who looked a little too much like the cartoon Cathy come to life, just would not take a hint and leave us alone. She must have asked us if we needed help, oh, 4 or 5 times. In the span of 20 minutes. We didn't need help the first time she asked and we didn't need help the fifth.

As we meandered down the hook aisle, Cathy pounced once again.

"Can I help you with a hook problem?"

It was all we could do not to laugh in her face. A hook problem? How do you have a hook problem?
Like this?

Which brings us to today.

In the move to reorganize and clean out my apartment and make better use of my "storage room," I am now trying to be super-efficient with my closet space across the board. Sadly, my dining table leaf has been left without a home in the new storage room layout. It has taken up residence in the hallway - obviously not a long-term solution. I was excited to discover it actually fits in my linen closet, but only if I find another home for the ironing board. Brainstorming space solutions, I realized that if I hung the ironing board on the closet door, my leaf storage problem might be solved.

I decided to try ready-made options first in my quest to hang the board. I picked up one of these handy dandy things at Bed Bath and Beyond, but it didn't really work because a) I didn't need storage for the iron, just the board, b) my iron didn't fit that nicely in the holder because it's too big, and c) I would have had to install this on the thinnest part of my door because the charming "architectural detail" prevents me from installing it at the top, where it's the thickest.

I really just needed to mount the bottom part of the iron & board holder on the door but couldn't do that without adding ugly washers to the scenario to keep the molded hook thing that came with the kit on the door. As a firm believer in the balance of form and function, I nixed that option.

Then I realized there must be hooks out there in the world that I could install on the top of the door to hang the ironing board. I dug through my hardware box and assorted existing selection of hooks, but none quite fit around the ironing board leg. Next best option was a trip to my trusty local hardware store (the kind of old school place that's just filled with so many parts and bits that it's almost impossible to find anything unless you ask) and came home with a few prospective solutions.

In the end, the simplest option worked best. Look how spiffy my ironing board (with awesome cover from the DeKalb, IL TJ Maxx) looks now. And now the table leaf is no longer in the hallway. I'm so very pleased.