Monday, July 7, 2008

The Snarky and the Smooth

I’ve done the math. I have approximately three loyal readers, which is just perfect, because my kitchen table seats four. Gather round now, friends, and let us talk about the snarky and the smooth.

You are fortunate, dear reader, for you do not have to live with me every day. When I write essays for Life, Love, and Food, I become my kindest, wisest, most gracious self. The act of writing transforms me. I am nicer on-screen than I am in real life. Just ask Daphna: she witnessed the act of snarkiness to which I am about to confess.

Several months ago, I found myself bewildered by the sheer volume of comments garnered by an essay written by a fellow food blogger. Bewildered, confused—and red-hot jealous. Like I said, I have three loyal readers (love you all!), and I should be grateful for my readers, but you know, sometimes a girl confuses quality with quantity. I want the former, but I become greedy when thinking about the latter: more more MORE! This attitude is altogether unhealthy—I may have to seek medical help if it continues—but the worst part of it is how the green-eyed monster within turns me into one downright snarky woman.

The essay in question was about, of all things, smoothies. I love smoothies. I’ve been making them for years. My mother even donated her blender (a wedding present! older than me! with a glass pitcher!) to my kitchen, knowing how much I love a good blended drink. I’ve written about a smoothie once before because it was just so delicious that I had to share my discovery with someone. But I’m not inclined to write about them often because I tend to think that if you own a blender, you can make a smoothie, no recipe required. It doesn’t take much: fruit, juice, milk, yogurt, peanut butter, whatever. Smoothies are lovably forgiving.

This other blog’s essay about smoothies garnered comments numbering in the double digits. High double digits—probably more comments than this blog has seen in its entire life. It was shocking and awe-inspiring. Except that I wasn’t impressed. I vented my jealous feelings to Daphna, who just laughed and rolled her eyes at me. And rightly so: I was being snarky and mean, getting my feathers all ruffled over the smallest, stupidest thing.

But I remain unimpressed. A simple recipe is wonderful. The catch, though, is that it has to be novel in some way. Inspiring. The subject of my smoothie post, Nigella’s Go Get ‘Em Smoothie, was new to me—banana+cocao+malt+iced latte—and the synergy between its ingredients is just lovely. Rich and smooth on the tongue, it satisfies a sleepy-eyed sweet tooth and her hunger pangs, no chewing required. That’s the real beauty of smoothies: the fun of drinking something through a straw and the satisfaction of providing your body with real, nourishing food.

Today I bring you another smoothie, but this one, I have decided, tastes rich and creamy enough to warrant the label milkshake. There’s no ice cream involved here. Instead, we will make good use of my tub of ricotta cheese, transforming a simple trio of banana, strawberry, and milk into something delicious, sweet, smooth, and utterly satisfying. I hope you’ll accept this recipe as a token of my gratitude for your loyal reading…and perhaps you’ll forgive me my snarky moments.

Strawberry-Banana Ricotta Milkshake
Serves 1 generously

Truly, I’m smitten by the presence of ricotta cheese in this shake. I know it’s an unusual choice, but I’m an unusual person, so it seems fitting. Ricotta adds a wonderful rich flavor and thick texture. Because ricotta cheese is not tart like yogurt, I don’t add any sugar or fruit juice to this drink—I feel that the sugar in the milk and the fruit makes it deliciously sweet. But feel free to eat some crunchy gingersnaps alongside your shake if you are feeling a little more decadent!

Dairy fat is a contentious subject. There are those who feel full-fat dairy is a necessity, and there are those who avoid dairy fat like the plague. I’m in the middle. For the record, I make this shake with 1% milk and low-fat ricotta cheese. It is, of course, up to you to decide how you feel about this issue, so I encourage you to use the dairy products that you like.

4 strawberries, stems trimmed
1 ripe banana, peeled and broken in half
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup ricotta cheese

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend for 20-30 seconds or until frothy and smooth. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy. A straw is optional.

7 comments:

boston girlie said...

I don't know if you can tell from your online perspective, but I do loyally check your blog (every day in fact!) to see if you have added any inspiring new thoughts. I love listening to your "voice" even though we're far away. And though I may not leave many comments, I thoroughly enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work! You ARE appreciated! :)

Anonymous said...

RCM,

May I have your permission to use this particular essay in my classroom? I think it has excellent teaching potential in the areas of leads and word choice. Plus, the material relates to certain issues common to 6th grade girls.

- A certain soup-loving friend (AMPD)

Anonymous said...

I also check this blog daily to see what is happening in your life, and how your kitchen is feeling. I recently moved across the pond and at the best of times I feel homesick. When I read your blog I feel comforted and grounded, it's hard to explain but it feels a bit like home.

Just thought I'd make myself known so you don't feel like there is no one listening.

JD said...

You know, Wife and I have always been smoothie dabblers, here more so then me. We have converted recently to loving the fresh juice that comes from our juicer. But....how can I resist the thought of something that has milkshake in the title. especially in the beautiful summer weather. This sounds like an amazing weekend treat.

As far as the pride thing goes...the fact that you even are capable of reviewing your actions and seeing the snarkiness means that you are not as bad as you think you are. It is ok to strive for more, just remember that all things worth anything started small and grew from there.

Rosiecat said...

Hi everyone!

Boston Girlie, I'm so flattered to be a regular part of your reading life! I honestly had no idea, although I WAS starting to think you were keeping tabs on me based on the thoughtful e-mails you send pertaining to something I've written recently. Three cheers to long-lasting friendship!

AMPD, you are more than welcome to use my essay in your classroom. The fact that you would even THINK to do such a thing is beyond flattering. Snarkiness and jealousy are feelings I think we all have to manage, no matter what our age. As you can tell, I am certainly not immune to spats of immature behavior.

Across-the-Pond Anonymous, I'm glad I can provide a tiny bit of comfort for you. I know EXACTLY what you mean about feeling comforted and grounded. I have certain things I turn to for the same feeling, such as the photo album filled with pictures of my niece. Crescent Dragonwagon's writing does it for me too. Have you read any of her books?

JD, I too love your juicer! It was so much fun hanging out with you and The Wife while you tried it out for the first time. If you do try this milkshake, let me know what you think. Your opinion means a lot to me because I know you value tastiness and healthiness, and you're not likely to give the thumbs-up to a recipe unless it hits both things spot on!

As for snarkiness in general, I think there is tremendous power in knowing yourself and figuring out how and why you feel a certain way. It's not that I think jealousy can be completely abolished. Instead, I think it can be managed. In other words, feeling jealous is not the worst thing in the world. It can also teach you what you need to thrive (such as the love of family and friends) and what is just ego (getting lots of comments on your blog essays).

Angela Harms said...

Looks like you have more than three. :)

You are such a good writer. Wow.

I wish I liked smoothies. They look so good... Ricotta cheese has some potential. Maybe I'll give it a try.

Rosiecat said...

Angela, more than three? Oh my--I'm going to have to get a bigger table. Thank you for the kind words!

As for you and smoothies, have you figured out why you don't like them? They do come in lots of flavors and textures--perhaps you can find one that suits your tastes? And smoothies are a good candidate for real food--whole fruit, milk (dairy or not), nut butters--so many options!