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Manolo for the Big Girl | Archive | January, 2010
Archive - January, 2010

Whole Lotta Crazy at Whole Foods

I’m guessing a lot of you have already heard about the new employee discount policy at Whole Foods. For those of you who missed it, it’s a hot mess of ugly.

See, the basic employee discount at Whole Foods is 20%. So far, so good. The problem is that there are variations. They aren’t based on seniority or title. Mind you, I wouldn’t be in favor of variations then, either, but at least it has something to do with performance. No, the variations are based on BMI.

That’s right, the lower the BMI measure, the higher the employee discount. Under the scheme employees with a BMI of 28 – 29.9 will get an employee discount of 22%. A BMI of 26 – 28.9 will get employees a discount of 25%. A 24 – 25.9 BMI means they get a discount of 27%. And anyone managing a BMI below 24 (no lower limit on that measure, either) gets a whopping 30% employee discount. Oh, and they also have to meet healthy measures of blood pressure and cholesterol and not use nicotine products to qualify for the additional discounts.

Of these questions, only one is entirely in the control of the employee. The use of nicotine products is a choice. Frankly, I think it’s a choice that is none of the employer’s darn business, but the fact remains that it is something the individual can choose to do or not. In many if not most cases, blood pressure and cholesterol counts are strongly effected by heredity. As for the BMI, well, one look at Kate Harding’s brilliant BMI Project puts it into perspective, as does the fact that Johnny Depp is overweight, according to his BMI. That’s right, Johnny Depp is overweight.

johnny_depp

Let’s just let that sink in a minute……..annnnd we’re back. No discount for Johnny, the flabby fatso!

But even assuming that weight is entirely under the control of the individual, the fact remains that while genetics are the overwhelming predictor of  weight range, poverty is also a better than average indicator of likelihood of a higher body weight. One reason for this is the fact that poor people often can’t afford things like fruits and vegetables and lean meats. Why? Because these foods are more expensive. So Whole Foods CEO John Mackey thinks that people who weigh more need less money to spend on healthful, nutritionally dense foods so that they’ll lose weight.

Look, I don’t know how much the average checker or produce person makes at Whole Foods. I’m not assuming they’re living in abject poverty, but I doubt they’re exactly rolling in moolah, either. And Whole Foods isn’t called ‘Whole Paycheck’ by a lot of people for no reason.

More than that, though, this policy is bad because it discriminates based on things that have nothing whatsoever to do with job performance. A couple ounces of muscle or fat can make the difference between a BMI of 29.9 and one of 30. Muscle weighs more than fat. In fact, virtually the entire NBA is obese to morbidly obese without being fat at all. Are you really going to tell me that a grocery bagger who is into body building is less physically fit than one who has less muscle on his body and thus has a lower BMI? Are you going to try to tell me that one is better at his job than the other based on body type more than an understanding that the eggs go at the top of the bag?

Base any extra employee perks on job performance, Mr. Mackey.

Oh, and until you decide to do that? Suck it.

If you would like to invite Mr. Mackey to suck it, here’s the address:

John Mackey, CEO
Whole Foods Market, Inc.
550 Bowie Street
Austin, TX 78703-4644

Recipe of the Week: Casserole Roast Chicken with Garlic Cream

You may not know this, but garlic is a food group at Casa Twistie. Very few things get made in my kitchen sans garlic. One of the things that told me Mr. Twistie was The One was the fact that he was willing to share garlic fondue on our first date (that and the fact that he then took me back to his place to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail, making his move for our first kiss at that romantic juncture when the knight slashes the throat of the Famous Historian which made my heart go pitter-pat). Onions and members of the onion family also feature largely in my cuisine.

So a recipe that features garlic and that oft-overlooked cousin of the onion, the shallot, is always going to get my attention. One that further allows me to make use of that massive chicken I found on sale at Safeway for half price is also a good use of my time and energy. One that also allows me to use up the heavy cream and white wine I had sitting around from previous recipes is yet another great idea. This one did it all and had Mr. Twistie threatening to lick his plate clean. I was about ready to join him, too!

It comes from the Food & Wine Annual for 1997, and I’ll be making it again.

(more…)

Twelve Months of Cocktails pt 2

Ready for some more cocktails? Lord knows I am.

I was ready at about 8:30 this morning when I discovered Château Gâteau had been bodily lifted in the night and set down somewhere in the frozen and dreary north.

Okay, that’s not entirely true, but it IS cold and rainy and miserable and as I have a well-established bais against anything coming out of the sky, trying to hit me (rain, frogs, fuselage, whatever) I’ve been giving the stink eye to every single person who has told me “we need the rain.”

And yeah, I know we do, I think the Plumcake Familial Holdings include a half a ranch somewhere in Texas (No, I don’t know where. Frankly –and this goes for keys, phones and lipglosses too– if I can’t fit it discreetly into my bra, I’m not going to remember where I put it) but that doesn’t mean I have to like the stuff.

Let’s get ready to pour!

***

April – Sazerac

I’ve written somewhere only –uh, well I can’t say what since it’s a family blog, but trust me when I say everyone’s got one and it’s NOT an opinion– drink absinthe, and I maintain this is true. HOWEVER.  It’s still tasty when combined with rye, bitters and sugar to form the official cocktail of New Orleans: The Sazerac.

The Sazerac

3 oz rye whiskey (ideally Sazerac, of course)
1 oz absinthe or Pernod
2 sugar cubes or a tablespoon simple syrup
several dashes bitters (you want Peychaud’s for historical accuracy)

If using sugar cubes, douse the cubes with bitters in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and muddle until sloppy, add remaining ingredients and ice. Shake, then strain into a chilled rocks glass. The Sazerac is served neat with a twist of lemon on the edge. If you want to impress your friends, learn how to pare a horse’s neck. It’s an entire peel in one spiral.the beginnings of a horse's neck

***

May – Mint Julep

The Kentucky Derby is run the first Saturday in May and Mint Juleps are served all around. As with all the best southern things, one really must stand on tradition with the Mint Julep. Ideally you want to drink this in a sterling silver julep cup (I travel with my own) but an extra-cold rocks glass will do. Be sure to snip off the straw close to the rim of the glass. You want to smell the mint as you drink. Be warned: this is pretty much booze and sugar so take it easy.

mint julep

In a silver cup full of crushed ice, pour in one tablespoon of mint-infused simple syrup. If you don’t have mint simple syrup, muddle a few leaves of mint in the bottom of the glass with plain simple syrup. Stir. Fill the cup with bourbon, stir again and garnish with a sprig of mint and a short-clipped straw.

You may dust some powdered sugar on top –and a red rose petal if you’re being precious on race day– but it’s really not necessary. Be careful.

***

June – Bee’s Knees

A silly little cocktail, but very refreshing.

2 oz gin
1 oz lemon juice
1 tbs honey
splash hot water

Pour honey and hot water into cocktail shaker and shake until dissolved. Add lemon juice and gin, fill with ice, shake and strain into anything that holds liquid. Garnish with an orange or lemon wedge. Simplicity itself.

bees_knees

Yesses and Maybes from Igigi

Francesca has been mulling some of the new offerings at Igigi. (Yes, Francesca knows that their customer service leaves MUCH to be desired, but  there is no getting around the fact that their clothes are distinctive, feminine, and flattering for many “difficult” body shapes.)

What say you about the Ayla colorblock dress? In the back it is all black.

Part of Francesca is thinking “kewl,” and part of her is thinking “that episode of Star Trek.”

Here we have the “Brilliant Ideas” dress in green, which would look superfantastic on the top-heavy or hourglass woman, but is sadly terrible for the woman of apple-ness (the oval-shaped).

Look! The beautiful “Francesca” dress (natch) now comes in a gorgeous shade of purple:

Finally, before we head off for the weekend, what say you about the “Exceptional Ruffle Dress,” shown here in Chocolate?

Francesca loves the belt and thinks this would look terrific in the office, but cannot bring herself to embrace the ruffle.

Ruffles have been showing up with increasing frequency lately on the fashions, and despite her love of lace and feminine styles, Francesca is not excited. “Lacy” and “Frilly” are not the same and do not have to go together like love and marriage.

Anyhow, have a happy weekend! xoxo

You Asked for It: The 12 Months of Cocktails, pt 1

Several readers have contacted me over the years with questions about cocktails, and I try to oblige. When, a few weeks ago, there were several comments about my 12 Months of Cocktails email, I decided to do a mini-tutorial on the wonderful world of cocktailing.

A few notes before we begin:

Traditionally a cocktail is –at bare minimum– a base spirit plus a liqueur.  There are some folks who believe it isn’t a cocktail unless it has a base spirit, a sweetener (usually in the form of a liqueur) and a sour balance (lemon, bitters, whatever) but that’s a little fiddly for our purposes.

I don’t subscribe to the “something AND something” as being a proper cocktail. Which isn’t to say they aren’t glorious, just they don’t really need recipes.  My grandmother’s recipe for a Cape Cod was a glass of vodka and just enough cranberry juice to make it red enough to drink before breakfast.
About the Equipment:

You will need a jigger, a strainer, a muddler and a cocktail shaker. You can fudge on most of those things except the strainer, which you really do need, but seriously, you’re a grown-up: Buy a proper bar set.

Having a Mexican-style lime squeezer is also dead handy but a word to the wise: Avoid plastic. Get the heaviest one you can find, mine is cast iron and enamel and probably set me back eight bucks.

lime squeezer
This one is aluminum and enamel and should do the trick nicely

About the Booze:

You get out of it what you put in, so use top shelf if you can.  For reference, my preferred spirits for cocktails are:

Vodka: Tito’s. If unavailable: Chopin

Bourbon: Basil Hayden’s. If unavailable: Maker’s Mark

Gin: Hendrick’s. If unavailable: Move

Dark Rum: Pusser’s British Navy Dark

Light Rum: use Cachaça instead, I prefer Leblon

Blended Whisky: Cutty Sark

Cognac: Hennessy VSOP

You’ll also need: Dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, bitters, a few selected liqueurs –make one of them  orange-flavored: I prefer Cointreau– and a few lemons on hand.

The Only Gin I'll Ever Really Love

About the Terminology:

Most cocktail patois is pretty self-explanatory. Here are a few words that aren’t.

Rocks Glass: also known as an old fashioned glass, it’s a low, heavy-based tumbler used for most cocktails.

Neat: A drink –usually shaken with ice– strained into a glass, as opposed to “on the rocks” which is with ice, though not the ice you used in the shaker.

Up: The same as neat, but served in a stemmed glass.

Perfect: A “perfect” cocktail is generally one where there is equal measures of two main ingredients. For example, while THE perfect martini depends on how you prefer your drink, A perfect martini is equal parts gin and dry vermouth.

Shake: Lots of recipes call for shaking a cocktail, but for how long? Until a frost forms on the outside of the metal shaker. Always.

a rocks or Old-Fashioned glass, sometimes called a lowball

On to the recipes!

I’ve selected each cocktail for a month where the weather generally suits it, or for a particular holiday when it is traditionally enjoyed.  There’s nothing saying you can’t drink a Rusty Nail in August and a Caipirinha in mid-December.

January – The “Perfect” Rusty Nail

Celebrate the birth of Robert Burns –one of Scotland’s great products– with two of its other top-notch exports: Scotch whisky and Drambuie, a heather honey liqueur, a deceptively vile sounding name for a smooth, comfort cocktail.

“Perfect” Rusty Nail

1 1/2 oz blended Scotch
1 1/2 oz Drambuie

Combine in a shaker full of ice and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon. For something a little less sweet, play with the proportions of Scotch and Drambuie. A popular modern recipe is 3 parts Scotch to 1 part Drambuie.

February – Manhattan

2 oz  bourbon
1/2 oz sweet vermouth (that’s the red stuff)
dash bitters

Prepare as for a Rusty Nail. If you missed honoring the Scots back in January, replace the bourbon with Scotch whisky and you’ve got a Rob Roy. For my Ruby Manhattan recipe, click here.

March – Old-Fashioned
Ever wanted to know why those short tumblers are called “old-fashioned glasses”? It’s because of this cocktail, so really, you must serve it in one.

In an old fashioned glass, douse a single sugar cube in bitters. Add a splash of soda water and muddle until the cube is nicely broken up. Not too much soda, mind you, just enough to get things sloppy. Fill glass with ice, top off with whiskey, preferably rye. Garnish with an orange wedge and a maraschino cherry. Note: Some folks prefer more club soda, these people are probably Communists and beat their mothers.

There’s No Crying in Baseball!

From Why I Hate Fashion by Tanya Gold

“But I got so fat that even fashion wouldn’t pretend it could fix me. You can get so fat they don’t actually want you in their clothes. It is bad marketing; if very fat people wear their clothes, thinner ­people won’t buy them. There was no point rattling through the rails any more, seeking a satin redemption – nothing would fit my unfashionable bulk. I was ­consigned to M&S smock-land, across the River Styx. And it is lovely here; no heels, no stupid dresses-of-the-moment, certainly no thongs. Fashion has died for me, with an angry little hiss. Ah, peace.”

Okay, it’s time for Miss Plumcake to give an Important Life Lesson to all you budding writers out there, so take heed because I’m only going to say this once:

Don’t

be

pathetic.

Seriously, just don’t. The one exception is if you’re funny. Really funny. Funny to the point of inspiring incontinence, and not just in old people on cold days, because you know how they like to dribble. Then SOMETIMES you can get away with it, but even then, it’s better to err on the side of NOT sounding like you own fourteen cats and have an impressive collection of cobwebs in your lady garden. See,  professional media is not myspace, you’re not a 14 year old girl and no one gives a patent leather damn about your speshul speshul poignant pain.

Oh, uh, too harsh?

Let me explain.

I don’t care that this lady has decided fashion is eeeevil. I really don’t. I don’t care that she blames the accidental death of a sixteen year-old on her high heels –heels I’m sure Anna Wintour personally FORCED onto her feet because surely a young woman can’t make her own informed decisions– instead of just marking it up to a sad accident. I don’t care that she calls the models who appear in fashmags “anorexic children” because apparently it’s okay to judge people’s bodies when SHE’S doing the judging. I don’t care about any of that.

What I care about is crying in baseball.

You know how there is no crying in baseball? Well, I come from the newspaper biz and let me tell you, there’s no crying in journalism, either, and there’s ESPECIALLY no airing of your own depression/anxiety/unresolved abandonment issues from that one time in 1987 your dad missed your ballet recital.

Do you know how you deal with that when you’re a REAL journalist? Alcoholism and failed relationships, that’s how. None of this namby pamby moaning on the internet under the guise of journalism. No, it’s cirrhosis and child support and eyebags so big they’re being knocked-off in Chinatown, THE WAY THE LORD INTENDED IT.

I don’t even have the energy to talk about the problems with the bulk of her emo screed article, like how just because SHE doesn’t like something doesn’t make it evil (as opposed to when I don’t like something, because, to quote Lady Beauchamp: “I’m right because I’m always right and anyone who says I’m wrong is mad and wicked.”) and that for propagating the stereotype that big women are happier wearing tent dresses and shunning fashion she deserves to be taken behind the woodshed and beaten soundly by a pair of size 42 Christian Louboutin peep-toe glitter pumps (which you may then send to me) until she realizes that being frumpy is not the same as being superior, and caring about fashion is not the same as being owned by it.
ooooh sparkly
Fashion isn’t going to make you beautiful any more than eschewing it is going to make you interesting, ducklings. Remember that, and will someone please fix me a cocktail? Mama’s feeling a little piqued.

From Francesca’s Inbox: Tuesday

LAND’S END is having a big winter clearance sale. Many MANY items in plus sizes! Francesca’s picks (pictured): cozy cashmere scarffleece half-zip pullover.

IGIGI has new dresses! What say you of them? Francesca’s pick is the (floor length) Secret Muse Dress with the Bolero shrug (pictured).

JUST MY SIZE has a deal on bras through February 24: Buy any two Glamorize or Bali bras (or one of each), get a third free.

EVANS wants to remind you that if you live in the UK or Ireland, you get free return shipping if something does not fit.

COLDWATER CREEK has reduced prices even further on everything in outlet (these prices are online only and may not match the prices in their physical Outlet stores).

BLUEFLY has new handbags and shoes in contemporary styles. Francesca prefers classic styles, but not everyone has the same taste, so perhaps you will love what is there. Francesca’s pick (pictured):Stuart Weitzman croc patent boots.

CHADWICKS will take $20 off your purchase of $60 or more, through January 31, with code CHTAKE$20. Shop plus sizes here.

ASHLEY STEWART has a “buy one, get one half off” deal on select items  (online only) , and has added new items to their virtual sale rack.

Happy shopping! xoxo

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