This was the first Thanksgiving in 12 years that I did not serve a fried turkey for our family Thanksgiving meal. Since my mama-in-law shrinks away from fried foods, we decided to put the new PolyScience immersion circulator to good use and sous vide our turkey instead.
My life for the past 20 months has revolved around cooking and food. But before that, my life had revolved around writing. I hope that soon enough, I will be able to strike a fine balance between the two loves of my life, as I like to call them.
So it was with great pleasure that I was recently asked to write a personal essay for the new kid on the Houston journalism block, Houstonia Magazine. My former editor at Eating Our Words, the Houston Press food and dining blog for which I was a former contributor, is now at Houstonia, and she approached me about writing for the “H-town Diary” column, which she’d mentioned also boasts the likes of such writers as Chitra Divakaruni and Mat Johnson, both of whom were my instructors at the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program. Of course I agreed I would write a piece for the December issue—it was my chance to switch gears and float back towards my writer persona. Plus I figured it would give me new material for my memoir (which I plan to finish a draft of in 2014—more on this later).
IT’S THANKSGIVING WEEK! I’m that excited that I have to type it in all caps. I’ve said it many times before: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Most get four days off, the weather is lovely, there is no pressure and stress of gift-giving, and all you do is watch/play football and stuff your faces with comfort foods.
I’m bringing food back! It’s been quite a long while since I posted a recipe. But I recently got a brand new PolyScience immersion circulator, something I’ve been eyeing for quite some time, and now our kitchen has become a 24-hour sous vide factory.
I’m still learning the ins and outs of this beautiful machine, but I thought I’d write about the first food item we cooked in the immersion circulator: New York strip steaks. Now, the strip is not my favorite cut because it’s rather lean when compared to the more marbleized (and, thus, fatty) ribeye. But that’s what we had on hand (because I like variety, and I always get ribeye), and I was anxious to try out the Creative series immersion circulator. The first two strip steaks were cooked at 138°F for 2 hours, and they came out to a medium well. They were good, but not the medium rare I love.
So the second time around, the strip steaks went in for 90 minutes at 130°F. And these were quite possibly the most tender strip steaks I’ve had outside a five-star steakhouse.
It’s the beginning of November, and that means the holidays are right around the corner. And that means draining your bank account to buy unappreciated gifts for your significant other, your children, your great uncle, your neighbor, your coworker, your boss, your pets…Then there’s the long hours (days?) of holiday cooking only to result in a dry turkey that nobody touches. And then there’s the stress of feeling your gut oozing out over your waistline and then the dilemma of trying to finish that dry turkey yourself since you hate wasting food, which leads back to the muffin-top issues. Sigh. The insanity. The stress.
As many of you may have heard, my friend and co-finalist for “MasterChef” season 3, Josh Marks, recently passed away from an apparent suicide. Josh was one of my closest friends from the show, and it greatly bereaves me to have learned of this news. As if this wasn’t enough, I see that someone who doesn’t know either one of us personally has been making judgments online. Today someone posted on my Facebook page (and I paraphrase) that “nobody cares about Josh, that none of us helped him before it was too late.”
I am sorry, but I have to express my disappointment in reading this statement. This comes from a person who admits he/she does not know Josh nor I nor any of his family and friends personally, and to make that sort of a judgment is completely uncalled for and wrong. To think that nobody tried to help him dismisses the great lengths his mother went through to try to help her son. To say this is to believe her efforts were nonexistent.
I am the kind of person that does not like to focus on the negative, but rather the positive, of a situation or person. I am also the kind of person that believes in respecting people’s privacy. This is why I choose not to post or write about Josh’s circumstances on my blog, Facebook, or Twitter. Josh’s loved ones are going through enough grief; they don’t need the additional stress of any unwanted media on them. But after reading this person’s allegations that nobody cared about Josh, I had to say something.
Is it not enough for us to be going through this grief, now we have to answer to people’s accusations, too? I am deeply saddened by Josh’s passing, but I prefer not to air it out online. My bereavement is personal and between me and those who knew Josh. It is not between me and the rest of the world. It is not my responsibility to report publicly what my relationship with Josh was like, how many times we’ve talked or emailed, what we talked or emailed about, how he felt, how I’m feeling, what transpired between us, what I have or have not done, and so on. And I think anyone who questions what any of us are going through or are thinking or have or have not done should really mind their own business. It greatly upsets me to know that people would think just because we have been on TV means 100% of our lives belong to the public. This is simply not true. And it upsets me to know that some people confuse our choice of keeping some things private with not caring. These are not equivalent.
With all this being said, there has only been one person who had anything negative to say. Everyone else has sent their sympathies, and these are very much appreciated. On behalf of Josh’s family, friends, colleagues, and his fellow MasterChef family, thank you for your sincere condolences. Please continue to keep Josh and his loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.
Here it is, as promised: the “pilot” of my grassroots “Blind Life” YouTube series. A while back, I mentioned on my Facebook fan page that, per the request of fans, I would be starting a YouTube series called “Blind Life” to showcase what my daily life is like as a visually impaired individual. Since the show, much interest has been brewing about the Christine beyond the MC3Christine: what do I cook at home regularly, how do I get around my house, how do I navigate Facebook/Twitter/my blog? Well, ask no further. Here is the beginning of all the answers to your questions.
I cheated a little with my first episode, only because it’s the hubster and me making up the entire whole of the crew. He directs and edits while I write and act. So while we get the hang of things, we decided to make a large act of this episode the video montage by Dave Franklin who was asked by MKT BAR and Phoenicia Specialty Foods to commemorate the whole pop-up experience. It was the first pop-up service for both myself and MKT BAR, and neither of us could have been happier with the results.
So for those of you who live far away from Houston and couldn’t fly here for the event, or who came at 4 PM only to find out we were sold out of all 240+ covers, or those of you who got to enjoy the food but are wondering what went on back of house, here you go. Don’t forget to leave a comment letting me know what you think of episode 101 and what you’d like to see in future episodes. Also, if you have a question you’d like me to answer, let me know that, too. Make sure to subscribe so you’ll know when the next video is up. Happy watching!