Betty Draper's Favorite Tuna Noodle Casserole

Friday, September 29, 2017

Again with the Mad Men posts!

So we have been watching a LOT of Mad Men.  I'm currently on the hunt for 1960s cookware and Christmas decorations, so if you have any leads let me know...  Anyway, I'm all about the 60s right now and the food during that time was really revolutionary.  A married woman would most likely be at home during the day, cooking, caring for the children and taking care of household chores.  We all know that is a full time job anyway, so even though Mrs. Draper was home all day, she was exceptionally busy.  Dinner time was getting easier than ever, with a lot of prepackaged foods coming to the supermarket shelves, and cookbooks focusing on time saving recipes.  Women were using canned soups instead of homemade broths and crackers and potato chips instead of breadcrumbs.  Foods were inspired by NASA and space exploration, and suddenly instant foods became trendy.  Casseroles were just as popular in the 60s as they were in the 50's and French food was en vogue thanks to Julia Child and Jackie Kennedy (who was a known Francophile).

Casseroles are easy and fast and keep well for leftovers.  If you watch scenes in the first couple season of Mad Men, you'll notice that Don frequently comes home late (you old dog....) and Betty will reheat him something quickly (there's one scene where she simply takes cold chicken salad out of the fridge and he eats it with Ritz crackers....this recipe will be coming soon as well!).  If you're just a couple of shacked up kids like Alex and I, casseroles can last an entire week.

One of my favorite casserole dishes growing up was tuna noodle.  I've had tuna casserole with potatoes as well, but there's a kind of childlike charm about tuna noodle.  It's surprisingly simple to create vegan versions of retro foods, as the goal in the 1960's was to keep things fast and simple, and there are no complicated sauces or meats to try and substitute.  There are vegan versions of everything now at stores like Sprouts and Whole Foods, and we all know to sub soy milk for regular milk, vegan butter for dairy butter, and so on.  Vegenaise will be your best friend in your foray into 60s cuisine, so stock up.  All kinds of cold meat and pasta salads were made during this time with mayo and lucky for us in 2017, you can get a vegan sub at your local supermarket.  Vegan tuna might be a bit harder to find (I get mine at whole foods, and it's great), but if you can't find it go ahead and sub the hearts of palm that I made for the lobster rolls!

What you'll need:

2 cans vegan tuna
1 package pasta (I used fusilli because it's adorable)
1 shallot, chopped
2 portobello mushrooms, chopped
2 cups mushroom broth
2 cups Follow Your Heart brand vegan cheese
2 cups french friend onions
frozen peas and carrots (about half a "bag")
vegan butter
1 cup soy milk, unsweetened

flour to thicken sauce
garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste

Bring salted water to boil in large pot, add pasta.  Cook until al dente, drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425.

Melt butter in a pan, and sauté your shallots until transparent.  Add in the mushrooms and peas and carrots.  Add salt and pepper and garlic salt and sauté until mushrooms are tender.  Add soy milk and mushroom broth and simmer until veggies are cooked through.  Add in the "tuna" last, as it does not need to cook necessarily, just heat through.  Whisk in flour slowly to thicken sauce, and once its gravy-consistency remove from heat.

Add pasta to casserole dish and mix in sauce.  Mix in cheese and top with fried onions (you can use potato chips or Ritz crackers for a more retro meal).  Pop in the oven for about 10-15 minutes (only until the onions brown and the sauce is bubbling).  Let cool a bit, and serve.

Reheat leftovers in the oven for crispiness.

The Internet is Mean

Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Sorry, no food AGAIN this week (I know, I'm awful).

I just wanted to talk a little bit about something that I've been thinking about lately. The internet is mean.

Ever since the days of Livejournal (ugh I just aged myself), everyone has had to deal with bullies and people who just in general, want to give you shit.  If you have never had someone on the internet tell you that you're ugly, or stupid, or mildly harass (or maybe not mildly...) you, then count your self lucky my friend.

The internet is changing how people interact, and how they communicate.  We are able to present ourselves in anyway we choose on the internet, and being accessible via social media profiles, etc. is making other people think they know you when in fact, they have never met you and don't know anything about you other than what you look like (or what you want people to think you look like) and what your favorite music/movies/books are.  I have had many people judge me based on what someone else on the internet says, or what I may have posted 10 years ago on Myspace.  I am not my internet profile, and I'm going to assume that you aren't either.

People will also say things online that they would never say in real life, and mostly to just get a reaction and get some kind of attention for it.  It's a high.  You poke someone and tell them that they're probably a horrible person and call them a name, and they respond.  Wow, I can say something to someone and illicit a reaction and not have to reap any kind of consequence? That's awesome! Except wait, there's a real person on the other end of this.  But the ultimate goal of this kind of interaction isn't to know someone on a real, personal level.  It's simply reactionary.  The only reason for any of this is to hurt someone's feelings, and being as that you don't have to deal with the aftermath makes it so seductive.

People can construct any kind of reality they want on the internet.  They surround themselves electronically with people who are likeminded and will side with them no matter what.  You can skew any reality to fit your own narrative.  Want people to think someone is a bad person? Just make a post about them.  It doesn't even have to be true! And in minutes you'll have your "friends" joining in the fun!  I have had people gang up on me via the internet, and I haven't even met a single one of them face to face.  I've had people say really awful things and throw idle threats, simply because a friend of theirs who I don't even know said so.  Would this happen in real life? Absolutely not. So what makes it ok on the internet?

The internet is changing the way that we relate to each other in real life.  People are more quick to be rude in public.  It seems like manners have gone out the window and I'm certain that our interactions on the internet have something to do with it.  Some people no longer know how to effectively communicate in the world, face to face, and don't know how to live outside their carefully constructed reality.

There is now also this sense of entitlement.  I know you on the internet, therefore I'm entitled to know about your life.  I'm also entitled to have an opinion about you, and if I express that opinion in a negative way, it is your fault, because you are available on the internet.  We have all seen thinking like this before, and some may have fallen victim to this thinking before. nice. If you feel someone has done something awful to you, I'm sorry. But perhaps there has simply been a misunderstanding, and maybe any feelings of ill will or intent to ruin someone's day or week or longer won't do anyone any good.  Remember, anger only begets anger and lashing out in this way won't make you feel any better. It will only make you feel worse and contribute to a terrible cycle of retaliation.

Remember your manners, and that if you don't have anything nice to say you shouldn't say anything at all.

My Hair Care Picks!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

So let's take a departure from food for a minute.

I am widely known as completely insane when it comes to my hair.  It's black, it's red, it's blonde, it's short, it's long, its REALLY short, and all of this in just shy of 2 months. I have almost become a certifiable expert in bringing hair back from the dead (with a little help from some of my pro friends) and thought it might be nice to share this with the world. I have done A LOT to my hair and am always here if you need advice, of if you need to be direct to someone who knows better than me. I could fill a Rolodex with my go-to helpers. But in the meantime, here are my regulars.

I am not a licensed hair professional.  All of these tips and products are what I've found works for MY hair through trial and error.  You may have different results.

1. Kristin Ess THE ONE Shampoo + Conditioner - Target, $10 each

It has taken me YEARS to find a sulfate free shampoo that actually cleans my hair and doesn't make it feel greasy and weighed down.  I have fine hair, but TONS of it and it has absolutely no texture whatsoever (that stick-straight, lay there and do nothing Scandinavian hair).  People love to say you have to stop washing your hair more than a couple times a week if you want to repair it and that is absolutely not an option for me. I have cut down to every other day, but I have to wrap it up in a scarf on my off days.  This sulfate free shampoo and gentle conditioner combo is perfect for my hair type.  I feel like I can shampoo every day if I need to and it's not wrecking my delicate strands.  I had to have a major hair overhaul a couple months ago and chopped off all but around 2 and a half inches of hair.  I like to think that switching to these deliciously pink products has helped it grow out a bit, and it has grown quite a bit since I got a wild hair up my ass to lop it all off.  It has also started to look super healthy. But cute is the packaging? I'm such a sucker for great marketing.

2. Kristin Ess Reconstructive Moisture Mask - Target, $14
Another steal from Kristin Ess, I use this mask about once a week.  It has replaced just about every other masking product in my arsenal.  It is light, but effective and is probably made from some kind of dark witchcraft because I can find no other explanation for why Kristin Ess's products are so phenomenal.  The directions say to apply after you shampoo and leave for 5 minutes, but I often apply to dry hair before I shower and let sit for about 30+ minutes.  I use most masks this way, regardless of the wet-hair instructions.

3. Olaplex No. 3 - Amazon, various, but usually around $20 (you can buy it directly from the Olaplex site for $28)

Made to be part of a 3 part system, Olaplex actually rebuilds the bonds in your damaged hair.  You are probably familiar with this product as an additive to salon lightening services, as steps 1 and 2 are made to reduce damage caused by lightening your hair.  This last step is used after the lightening process to complete the service, and is regularly given as an at home treatment to keep the good times rolling after you've become a blonde bombshell.  This was recommended to me by a friend of mine who owns a salon when I was desperate for help.  It is a goddamn lifesaver.  I used this every other time I shampooed in conjunction with the next product, and it brought my hair back from certain death.  It saved about an inch of hair that I would have had to part with otherwise (and I barely had that much to give). For steps 1 and 2 you'll need to be a licensed pro, but step 3 is available to us mere mortals.

4. Lush Cosmetics H'Suan Wen Hua -, $21.95

Pronounced "Shwen Wen WAAH" (I used to work at Lush...), I alternated this product with the Olaplex every other time I washed and I really noticed a difference.  This product is vegetarian, but not vegan (it has eggs for protein), but it was a miracle.  I leave this on dry hair for as long as I can stand it (sometimes an hour or so) and then rinse and shampoo and condition. It smells like an Autumn fantasy and last for around 4+ applications (less on longer hair, my hair is quite short), but you don't need to use a TON of it for it to do its job.  I've even heard of people using it as a leave in on dry ends.

5. Kristin Ess Weightless Shine Leave-in Conditioner - Target, $10

Yes, another pick from Kristin Ess.  This Target-exclusive line is my new favorite, and for good reason (accidentally typed "god" reason, almost left it).  This product line is super affordable, and Kristin Ess said that she wanted to create a line of products that would make you fall in love with the ENTIRE line.  So many of us use our favorites from different lines, but she really has done something special here. I love everything I have tried, and they will be staples from now on.  I spray this on generously after I shower to detangle, and it doesn't feel gross or greasy.  Super light, but super effective.

6. John Master's Organics Dry Hair Nourisher and Defrizzer - Whole Foods, $20 (about)

I can't remember exactly how much this one was, but I don't use it frequently.  This is what I use when I'm having a particularly rough hair day (literally) and need a bit of shine and smoothing.  The bottle last a while, because I use it so sparingly and the guy who helped me at whole foods said he swore by it...and his hair was long and perfect so I bought it.

7. Mane n' Tail Herbal Gro Leave-in Creme Therapy - Various, around $7.99

This is kind of billed as a leave-in, but should really be used as a styling product.  It's too heavy and sticky for me to use daily as a leave-in, so I use it to style finger waves, curls, or swoopy retro bangs (this is actually perfect for retro hair styles, if you want something more nourishing than pomade).  I bought this in a set with the matching shampoo and conditioner, and honestly could have done without both of those, but this product is sneaky and has it's good uses.  Like I said, it's too heavy for daily use as a leave-in but as a lighter substitute for pomade it works nicely.

Roaring 20s Street Jam and (Super Easy) Picnic Menu

Thursday, September 21, 2017

This past weekend was Alex's and my 2 year anniversary and to celebrate, I got us tickets to the Roaring 20's Street Jam in Griffith Park.  I have been fascinated with the 1920s for years.  When I was a teenager I would watch the Cotton Club with Diane Lane over and over (still one of my favorites). I was one of the few who adored Baz Luhrman's take on the Great Gatsby and have read F. Scott Fitzgerald's novels over and over.  I have frequently injected the 20's flapper look into my own personal style and have had Louise Brooks's hair style more times that any other.  When the chance came to go 100% authentic in public I jumped at it.

Of course, no event would be complete without a ridiculous menu.  I regret that the menu is not period appropriate but it was delicious none the less.  We packed up the picnic basket and headed out to Griffith Park on Sunday to live out our Prohibition Era fantasies, and it was everything.

Photos from the day:


Most of these recipes are super simple and fast.  Not everything has to be a made-from-scratch extravaganza to be fun and impressive.  These are foods that are old favs and never go out of style, no matter how simple they are to make.  The real purpose of my blog is to make things EASY and that means making things that are accessible and not convoluted and complicated.  You don't need to be fancy to be fancy.

Pesto Gnocchi:

Vegan Gnocchi
Vegan Pesto (I had way too much to do this day to make all this stuff myself...I'm not to proud to do store bought)
Vegan parmesan
Sunflower seeds or pine nuts
Salt and Pepper to taste

Boil the gnocchi until it floats, but no longer since it will become rather mushy.  Stir in the pesto, and top with sunflower seeds and part, and bam, you're done.

Deviled "Egg" Potatoes:

Yukon gold potatoes (as many as you need/want)
Mustard (yellow or dijon, whatever your preference) about 2 tbsp (I like mine to be really mustardy)
green onions, chopped
Vegenaise, about one tbsp.
Salt and pepper to taste
Smoked paprika

Boil your potatoes and remove from water when a fork can slide in easily (don't boil them until they are too soft, then they won't hold).  Run under cold water for a few seconds and let cool so that you are able to handle them.  Cut off the top third of each and scoop out a shallow basin in each potato, making sure not to hollow out too much.  Put the bits of potato that you moved into a bowl and mash with your mustard and vegenaise.  Add in the chopped green onions, and salt and pepper and spoon into each hollowed out potato.  Top with paprika and chill before serving.

Pimento Cheese Tea Sandwiches:

Vegan cream cheese, about 2-3 tbsp.
Vegenaise, about 2 tsp.
Pimentos, about 2 tbsp
Onion powder
Garlic Powder
Salt and pepper (all seasonings/spices are to taste)

Plop your wet ingredients (sans pimentos) into a blender (I use a Nutri Bullet for small batches) and blend until smooth but not liquid. Stir in your pimentos and dry ingredients until well mixed.  Serve on white sourdough bread with the crusts cut off, and you my friend are officially Southern Royalty.

I don't have a whole lot of photos of the finished products, but here is our spread from the picnic.  It was such a hectic morning preparing all of this (even though it's super easy, I had to get myself 1920s ready as well), but it was so much fun and everyone knows I love a theme.

Truffle Oil and Mushroom Burgers for the Last Days of Summer

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Summer is coming to a close, and honestly I could not be more ready to see the Summer months end.  I enjoy pool days, the sun, long warm nights and that care-free feeling that Summer just seems to hold, but these past few weeks in LA have been so damn hot that I'm ready for a cool breeze and a god damn sweater.

The past weekend was Labor Day weekend, and that means burgers.  Even though it was overcast (but still hot as eff) we decided to have burgers by Beyond Meat.  I also found some white truffle oil on sale, so there will be many more truffle oil recipes.

Burgers are simple, so there's not much of a recipe here.  But for these Beyond Meat patties, I let them thaw a bit if they're frozen, and then I give them the seasoning treatment.  I added a touch of the white truffle oil and Worcestershire to both sides and rubbed in.  Then I sprinkled on some pink Himalayan sea salt and pepper to both sides, and finally some garlic salt.  I let them sit for a bit to absorb and then added them to a stove-top griddle to cook.  I added mushrooms to the griddle and drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  For my burgers, I like a leaf of crisp romaine, pickles, cheese (I'm not completely vegan yet, but for Alex's I use nut cheese) and mustard ONLY.  Alex's burger is a bit different, and picture here.  He likes tomato, which I hate, and also ketchup as well as mustard.  We devoured these in just a few minutes.

What are your fav burger combos? Or something you'd like me to try?

Sorry for the half-assed recipe, but burgers are bomb and I've been busy. I've been dealing with my art show on campus, and the closing is this Saturday.  It's been tiring to commute to school (it's an hour away at least) and I haven't had much energy to experiment when I get home.  I'm open to suggestions that you guys have for recipes! Come on, I want to hear from you! What are your fav foods? Are you a meat eater who wants me to tackle your fav meal? I'm game.