Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “cooking/baking

I’m Gonna Say Christmas Was A Quiet Success

I’m wrapping things up at work now, and my excitement is increasing. As is my tiredness. I’m tired y’all.

I ended up staying up late Sunday night to finish packing and then adding all my clothes into this new closet app thing I’m trying on my phone. It is time consuming to photograph all your clothes, but guess who doesn’t mind lack of sleep, and really doesn’t mind not leaving her clothes overseas accidentally? That would be me!

I was unable to do maintenance on my locs Saturday like I’d planned, so that fell to last night’s intinerary. Staying up to almost 3am two nights in a row when your alarm goes off at 5:10am is just plain silly.

But I did it. And as a result, I’m all packed for my trip, my hair looks neat and well kept, and Starbucks makes coffee to keep one awake. Well, the Starbucks isn’t a result of my poor time management, but my consumption of large amounts of Starbucks is.

I’m excited for the next week or so, but I’m also really pleased with how the Christmas holiday went.

After work on Friday, Chris and I headed to a friend’s birthday party then to Smalls, just like we’d planned. As a result of tiredness and terrible waitressing at the first bar, the only picture I have is the obligatory picture of Sara and me that I almost always take when we’re hanging.

sara-and-me

When we got to Smalls, it seemed that almost the entirety of the birthday party crew had gone over there. We definitely wouldn’t put the club over capacity. Smalls charges a cover to get in, but for musicians (and their wives, cough, cough), they usually let them in. Smalls works hard to foster that homey environment for the musicians and their people.

I say all of that to say that there was no way in hell Smalls was letting in all those people for free. I’m still not sure how they worked it out, but I was cold and there was room inside for me and Sara (and Chris). Everyone else came in a few minutes after that, so I figure they worked it out and the 12+ people on that bar crawl ish paid the cover to get in.

By the time they got in there, I had my customary I’ve-been-up-since-5am-and-will-be-up-until-damn-near-5am drink: Strong, fresh coffee with Bailey’s and Bulleit Rye Whiskey. My girl Marjie, the amazing manager (and aerial yoga buddy) who was working the bar, always hooks me up. She makes it just right so it needs no sugar, and she good-naturedly fights me on the tip. The only time I couldn’t make her take her money was when we were there on my birthday, but little does she know I just gave it to my friend JS to give to her instead, ha!

The band was amazing, as usual. I listen to my own friends and their bands so much that it’s always nice when I get to the club early and can hear whoever is playing the set in front of theirs. I ended up making nice with a sweet girl who lived up the street from the club. She kept requesting a blues with such gusto. It amused me and irritated Chris, but eventually someone called it for the jam session. I stepped outside with her while she smoked (ew, smoking), and took a pretty cool picture of the entrance to Smalls. I don’t think I’d ever noticed how many times the name of the club is written on/above the door.

smalls

The night ended after 4am, as it always does. We got home and fell into a deep sleep. I woke up the next morning, finally checked my mail, and saw that Sara’s Christmas gift for me had indeed arrived like Etsy told her it had.

This tank is hilarious and will be put to good use as soon as we’re back from Europe in the New Year.

namaste

The night of Christmas Eve, we went to a party for my friend Michael from college. He looks amazing, all slim and toned. He was always handsome, but damn if he’s not aging well. We did the math and realized we met over 13 years ago. We drank more egg nog shooters and stopped talking about that, lol.

mike

We stayed at this party All. Night. Long. We were laughing and drinking and talking and playing games. Chris and I had some friends nearby who checked in our activity for the night. Michael was down for the-more-the-merrier, so we invited them over and it went from a small gathering of family and friends to a ruckus house party situation. I hope he has more parties like that in the future.

I almost forgot to take a picture with Chris, but then I remembered. I’ve greatly improved my selfie game from back when I almost always cut half my face out of the picture. But the other party guests didn’t know that. So when I raised the camera back towards us, flash ready, someone offered to help take the picture.

Apparently, without breaking my smile, I brusquely said no, and because I’d already pressed the button before he spoke, the camera flashed immediately after. Everyone found this amusing if caustic. It took them awhile to explain to me why it came across that way. I guess they didn’t know I’d already pressed the camera button, so there was no rapid fire No-Smile-Click that they perceived.

Chris was cracking up the second the word no came out my mouth, as you can see below. I’m clearly drunk, as evidenced by my big ass smile. And my lipstick is also staining his lips, lol.

no-help-chris-laugh

Christmas was a very very lowkey day for us. So lowkey that at no point did we leave the house and no point did we put on pants. I happily watched The Santa Clause 1, 2, and 3 while cooking dinner and lunch. The only thing I photographed all day was the shrimp wraps I made for lunch, go figure.

shrimp-wraps

I squeezed a lot into just a few days because I was on a time crunch. The only real fail was David taking forever to get home from the airport last night after spending Christmas with his family. Even with staying up to finish my hair, I couldn’t stay up as late as necessary to watch the Sense8 holiday special with him. He says he’ll wait for me and we can watch it when I get back. I hope he doesn’t leave me behind like he did when it came to watching Supergirl.

Seeing as how we have over a week in Europe, I’m hoping it can be as eventful, but also more restful. Wish me a safe flight y’all, my plane takes off in 6 hours!


So Says My Husband: “Christmas Is Saved!”

We decorated our tree! We have a pitifully small number of ornaments on it (first world problems, amiright?), but it’s up and lit. Not lit, like a great party, but alight, lol.

I put a picture up on Instagram where it was pointed out that our tree was on a lean. I would like to clarify that it’s NOT leaning. Chris did a great job at getting the tree set up. It’s very much upright… It just didn’t grow evenly on all sides.

I’ve yet to be responsible, at any point in my life, for picking out a Christmas tree. But I imagine if I did, I would walk around the entirety of the tree, checking it out from multiple angles, making sure it was as even as could be.

But like I said, I haven’t ever had to go buy a tree. So what the hell do I know about what tree options are available? A whole bunch of nothing, that’s what.

All I know is I love our tree. This is our 7th Christmas together, but it’s the first time we’ve decorated a tree together. Both of us have memories of decorating the tree with our fathers (parents, but mostly our dads), and it’s nice to make these new memories together.

Weird how one tree can make me feel like Christmas is saved, huh?

After an hour at Target yesterday, we are back on track. A failed trip to Home Depot will henceforth be known as “That Time Chris Almost Ruined Christmas, But He Didn’t, So It’s Fine, So Get Over It, It’s Fine.” That’s all I’m saying about that.

Last night I cooked half a dinner at our friend Corey’s house, the other half provided by leftovers from Merry Black Christmas. Shout out to Allyson for delicious food she’s always cooking. We drank–wait for it–watermelon double IPA beer. That 10% and lovely bitterness and low low price made the watermelon worth it. It was a like a summer-themed Blue Moon. I wouldn’t recommend it.

But we were soon drunk adjacent and happily enjoying roasted chicken breast with mushroom gravy, green beans, butter-dipped artichoke, cornbread, and macaroni & cheese. We flipped back and forth between Last Holiday and whatever football game was on. Chris and I decorated the tree when we got back home. To me, it felt like the official start of our holiday celebrations.

Tonight, we’ve got a birthday hang that will span a bar I’ve never been to and a jazz club I go to all the time. It’s our friend Deadria’s farewell to her twenties. Corey has his regular jam session he leads at Smalls Jazz Club, and as usual, if we’re out, that’s where we’re ending the night.

Tomorrow, hopefully I’ll get some packing done for our upcoming trip, then we have a Christmas Eve party to go to being thrown by my friend Michael from college who lives nearby in Brooklyn.

Christmas will be a quiet day with just me and Chris (for now, lol). We’re going to see Fences in theaters. It’s not a movie unless Viola Davis is crying out her nose. I’m cooking us a tasty simple meal.

On Boxing Day, I’ll be at work, and when I get home, I’m going to watch the Sense8 Holiday Special on Netflix with my best friend David. It’s one of the shows we try and watch together even though we don’t live in the same state. Go technology. We both love Christmas, and it’s really cool that the first episode of season two is doubling as a Christmas special. I’m also working on the 27th. But I’m leaving work early on Tuesday, heading home to get my packed bag and my husband, then we’re headed to the airport.

It’s hard to believe that just a week ago I was over everything. But now I’m back on track. I’m excited for the next two weeks, like really excited. Not sure-to-be-disappointed-because-reality-can’t-live-up excited. More like who-knows-what-each-day-will-bring-so-bring-it-on excited.

Now for your visual enjoyment, my Tannenbaum and other Christmas accoutrement (when it’s singular, it’s without the s, right?):

I know it looks like it's leaning, but I swear it's not!

I know it looks like it’s leaning, but I swear it’s not! The more I look at this tree, I’m thinking, “is it really that great?” But then I’m like, “of course it is, that tree is adorable, and anyone who disagrees is blind to the truth.” So dramatic, I know, whatever.

Our cat Jazz simply had to inspect the tree. Chris chose that fabric hangy ball thing for them. Fingers crossed they don't use it to pull down the tree.

Our cat Jazz simply had to inspect the tree. Chris chose that fabric hangy ball thing for them. Fingers crossed they don’t use it to pull down the tree.

Our older cat Belle, being creepy as fuck as usual, also inspecting the tree, and judging the rest of us for our mirth.

Our older cat Belle, being creepy as fuck as usual, also inspecting the tree, and judging the rest of us for our mirth. Also, we clearly need to sweep up the needles that got sacrificed on the altar of artificial lights.

So... this was a random Etsy purchase that I love and am choosing not to justify. The inside writing is the only reason I'd pay money for White Santa. I just really love this mug. #sorrynotsorry

So… this was a random Etsy purchase that I love and am choosing not to justify. The inside writing is the only reason I’d pay money for White Santa. I just really love this mug. #sorrynotsorry

You’re welcome. 😉

 


When Easter Gets Cancelled, I Bake & I Bike

One of the best things about living in New York City is that everything can be delivered or outsourced.

Laundry? We drop off our clothes and our laundry lady hooks them up.

Cleaning Supplies? Soap.com or Amazon.com are happy to help.

Need a babysitter? Care.com has you

Groceries? For my neighborhood, it’s either a co-op or FreshDirect.

Chris and I dislike grocery shopping so much that even a co-op is asking too much of us. So we use FreshDirect. And since this is New York, eventually the delivery and customer service was going to let me all the way down.

Back around Thanksgiving, I made the mistake of not submitting my order by the time deadline. Chris and I ended up in a grocery store at 10pm the night before Thanksgiving, buying all the stuff that wasn’t delivered. I wasn’t happy about that, but that was my fault.

This past weekend however, is totally on FreshDirect. When I woke up on Saturday, I saw an e-mail from them saying they were trying to reach me by phone.

I called them and they said the driver came by at 9am, but no one was home. My angry black woman almost came out right then y’all. I informed the lady on the phone that my husband and I had been home all morning, and we have the worlds loudest doorbell, so there’s no way they rang our doorbell and missed us.

She said they tried to call, and they “always call”, and why didn’t I answer the phone? I explained to her, that “always” doesn’t apply in my case because in almost 2 years of deliveries, I’ve never received a phone call from any driver ever because we only request the delivery when we’re home, and it’s “never” been an issue until today.

She said she’d reschedule the delivery and they would swing back by our house before ending their route, around 2p.

Of course, 2p came and went, with no delivery. I called back around 4p to find out what happened. This time I got a man who told me this:

-it does say it was scheduled for re-delivery

-they didn’t re-deliver my groceries

-they have gone back to the warehouse and dismantled my assembled groceries

-their shift is over and they’ve gone home

-he doesn’t know why my groceries weren’t delivered

-is there anything else he can do for me

 

So I tell him:

-you haven’t actually done anything for me

-Just confirming, that my Easter dinner is cancelled, and there’s nothing you can do about that?

-Who do I speak with to file an official complaint?

 

He took $25 of my next order. He rescheduled my delivery for Wednesday.

While waiting for the food to arrive, Easter was over, and that meant carbs!

I couldn’t decide what to make, but I knew it was going to include bread or potatoes or rice. I ended up modifying a recipe for apple muffins and made and apple-blueberry-pear loaf in a bundt pan. It was delicious.

For good measure, I also made red onion-garlic-baby bella mini frittatas. Breakfast-on-the-go was what I was going for, and it worked pretty well.

I also considered making butter cookies, but decided against that. I have quite the list of carb-y goodness that I’ve just been waiting to eat, but I don’t want to overdo it. So I’m pacing myself and only eating one thing at a time.

Sunday: that apple loaf thingee

Monday: pasta

Tuesday-Friday: I ate a bag of potato chips. I split the bag into portions so that I stayed under my daily carb limit. I’m seriously impressed that I managed to stay within the limit

And today, I had french toast. And it was so damn good. Definitely over the carb limit, so maybe no carbs tomorrow.

I fell into the trap y’all. I did a little bit of exercising, so I thought it was okay to go overboard.

In my defense, I really did a lot of exercising. I went to yoga yesterday, and it felt really good.

I love my yoga studio in Brooklyn. I go to Sacred Yoga, and the teachers are so great there. This class was a foundations class, and it was so beneficial because I got to press reset on some on my yoga poses. Reinforcing all the things I’m supposed to be focusing on in each pose was great.

Since I bought my new bike on Easter, I was happy to ride it to yoga. I love this new bike. The only thing wrong with it is it doesn’t have that step through thing that makes it easy to wear a skirt with, but just look at it.

I had to add a basket, a kickstand, head & tail lights, a water bottle holder, and tire locks. But totally worth it if I stay safe and my bike stays un-stolen. Image from Fulton Bikes

Riding it makes me feel so exhilarated. It goes pretty fast without much effort on my part and the gear shifts making riding the mild elevation changes in my neighborhood much easier than on my other bike.

I also decided I would ride the bike to the train station going to and from work to get in a little bit more exercise. The first day, I just went to the nearest station, but today I decided to go much further. I got almost all the way to downtown Brooklyn before I got tired.

I hopped off the bike, locked it up with my super high duty lock, and headed down the subway steps. I reached into my purse to grab my Metrocard.

And nothing.

I didn’t have my Metrocard. I didn’t have my backup Metrocard. I didn’t have my debit or credit cards. I didn’t even have my ID or the singles I keep just in case. I only had about $1.38 in change floating in the bottom of my purse.

Everything I needed was in my yoga bag. So I walked my tired butt back up to the bike, called work to tell them I’d be late, and biked back home.

By the time I got to my house, My legs were feeling very jelly-like. Mind you, this was hardly any distance at all, only a few miles. But for me, who has done next to no biking or serious exercising in months, I was done.

I took the bike back inside, grabbed my money and ID, and went to the bus stop.

The good news is that I got in my full exercise on the bike for the day. I’m thinking I should keep it up and do my Tracy Anderson DVD when I get home. I unfortunately can’t do yoga everyday because of working in Manhattan and the studio not being open early or late enough. We’ll see how I feel when I get home.

I’m trying to ramp up the exercise, and go with what feels good. But I’m also feeling like I should set some sort of schedule that I can make myself stick to. It’s a fine line to walk.

I’ve started and stopped this “attempt to get healthy” thing so many times. I just really want it to stick this time.

I’ve got good motivation though.

I just got plane tickets for Chris and I to go to the Dominican Republic this August for that family vacation. If that’s not motivation to get my body right, I don’t know what is.

I also got my ticket to go visit my parents next month. I’m going during the week, right before Mother’s Day. Should be a fun couple of days. It’s going to feel so weird going to their new house and that being their home. But I’m excited for it.

I’m excited for a lot right now: the sandwich I’m going to get from Potbelly one day this week, riding my bike more (NOT today), shopping for a swimsuit this summer). All these damn endorphins have got me going. Cross your fingers that the feeling lasts!


You Are All Mini Cupcakes to Me

Twenty-six days since my last post. As horrible as that sounds, it is an improvement over the months between the last two posts. Sometimes life is like that, you know?

I checked the weather forecast today, and for the first in months (months!), the forecast says it will not drop below freezing again. Ever again. Well, at least not for the next 10 days. God willing, it will stay above freezing all day every day for the next 7 1/2 months. Fingers crossed New Yorkers.

Checking the weather made me feel hopeful. It’s funny how my outlook on life can be tied to the weather. Not my mood necessarily, but how optimistic and productive I’ll be in a given day.

Even though it was super cold on my walk to work from the subway, I felt happy. I knew it was the last 24 degree morning I’d have to walk through for a long time, so I was feeling full of energy.

Consequently, I had a very productive day at work. I’m talking a cross-everything-off-your-to-do-list, come-up-with-new-tasks-cause-you’re-in-the-mood level of productiveness.

And not feeling completely drained from the combination of “work and not completing said work” has led me to writing this post.

I want to talk about shopping. I gave up shopping for Lent. Shopping and carbs.

Shit, it’s been hard. I may or may not have fallen off the wagon a couple of times. For carbs, falling off the wagon includes eating 4 french fries or sweet potatoe fries or a bowl of cereal here or there. Otherwise, I keep my carb intake to less than 15g per serving.

It’s really impressive that I haven’t made myself a big batch of mashed potatoes. I miss potatoes. And breadsticks. And cake.

For shopping, falling off the wagon looks like this:

While I’m still trying to figure out my own home-made shampoo, Carol’s daughter has some amazing new products I’m trying, even though I should’ve waited until after Easter.

And also like this:

This is my current “everyday” bag for the beginning of Spring. Technically neutral, so cute, holds everything I need. Now I definitely should NOT have bought it, but I love it so.

And… also like this:

This I bought the day I bought all those Carol’s Daughter products… I needed something to carry them home in! When I was at the airport, everyone that looked remotely my age was carrying these super stylish and fun backpacks, so I joined the trend. I have nothing to say for myself.

But other those lovely finds, I only purchased what was pre-ordered (meaning, I never had to click “checkout”), and food, which was allowed, as long as it didn’t have carbs.

Most of my favorite places to eat have very little carb-free options. Everything is fried or in sandwich form or served over pasts. I miss sandwiches. The willpower it took to avoid Potbelly’s during lunch one day is what led to the pink bag pictured above. It was either that or walking to Penn Station to buy a Cinnabon.

I miss Cinnabon. I haven’t had one in literally years. But still…

I’ve been coping with what I gave up for Lent by living vicariously through others. When I went to Indianapolis to visit my friend who just had a baby, we went grocery shopping, bought the baby a dress, and had her take pictures with the Easter bunny. That was good money spending, it scratched the itch a bit, you know?

She looks like a doll. A little doll nestled in an Easter basket. Her daddy picked that dress for, and he did well, if I do say so myself.

She looks like a doll. A little doll nestled in an Easter basket. Her daddy picked that dress for her, and he did well, if I do say so myself.

When it comes to carbs, I’ve gotten quite creative. I’ve been eating meals that are basically exactly what I’d eat if I turned vegetarian, mixed with a whole bunch of meat.

For example, I made a dish with quinoa, black beans, red onion, olive oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, basil, and sauteed kale. It was a hearty, delicious, low-carb dish. It was still low carb because I only had a 1/3 cup cooked quinoa in one serving of it.

But because I’m me, I added bacon to it and ate it alongside siracha, worchester & white balsamic glazed chicken wings. I’d be such a good vegetarian, but I don’t wanna, and you can’t make me.

And another way I cope with carbs is to imagine those around me as carbs. Like in a cartoon where the hungry character imagines their friend as a turkey leg.

I’ve been imagining my co-workers as all sorts of things. They get a kick out of me figuring out what each person is. I have a buttermilk biscuit, a single breadstick from Olive Garden, fried zucchini, a blondie, fettuccine alfredo, and squid ink gnocchi just to name a few. Drool.

And those of you who are reading this, in my mind you are all mini cupcakes.

This image comes from

This image comes from The Cupcake Blog. If you  bake, seriously check out this blog.

Perhaps you are 24 assorted flavors, like you get in the grocery store, but a good grocery store. Like Publix. With whipped cream frosting and no artificial colors.

I miss Publix. They’re down in Florida and they made the best sweet tea. And fresh hoagie rolls. And breaded chicken tenders. And store-brand cookies. Simply the best.

Okay. Moving on. Staying strong.

There are benefits to all of this deprivation. Saving money is nice. And not gaining weight is also nice.

I’d like to switch from “not gaining” to “actually losing”. I have a plan for that. I’m back down to only the one job because working 14 out of every 15 days was B-A-N-A-N-A-S. After a few days off with absolutely nothing, I’m planning on taking my ass back to yoga.

Even though my bike was stolen, I’m thinking I’ll just walk there because driving then finding parking is ridiculous.

Which brings me back to the weather. It’s feeling so spring-ish that I feel like walking 20+ minutes to my yoga studio.

Or maybe I’ll take the money I’ve saved the last 5 weeks and buy myself another bike next Sunday.

This is the best part of spring. Feeling like the possibilities are endless is one of my favorite ways to feel.

Potential is my drug.

I’m off to do bit of window shopping. Cupcakes and bicycles.


On Making A Bucket List… Sort Of

God willing, I’m not going anywhere any time soon, so I don’t have a bucket list in the traditional sense. However, I am turning 30 this year, and when one of my best friends suggested we do a 30th Birthday Bucket List, I immediately loved the idea.

This was at the end of last summer, around August-ish. There are a number of folks we know who are turning 30 this year or who have already turned 30 this year. So we put together some fun categories that we could each pick something from to embrace and bid farewell to our 20s.

I won’t bore you with all the categories now– there are 10– but I will talk about them as I cross them off the list. Even though we set this up over 6 months ago, it’s been slow going for me to really start crossing things off.

I enjoyed my 20s tremendously, and I’m really looking forward to my 30th birthday. Even though I chose bucket list items that pushed my comfort zone, I still had to dig to find the motivation to just make it happen.

But enough about my 20-something hesitancy, let’s talk about what I’ve actually done (or rather, tried to do).

One of the categories is Culinary Exploration. This category came out of the idea that we all have some food item we were afraid to try. Your 20s is a time where you embrace new experiences and expand your horizons. It’s kind of hard to expand your horizons when there are things you won’t even try.

For me, culinary exploration only had one option: tofu/soy. I decided to find one tofu/soy item that I could truly enjoy and maybe even love.

I have tried tofu on many occasions, with several cuisines, in multiple countries. My mouth just no likey.

One or two (or five) had experiences with it, and I had given up. I lived in a world where soy sauce was the only soy product to cross my lips. I’ve never tried soy milk, I can barely swallow tofu of any kind.

I hated feeling defeated by food. I’ll eat pretty much anything. Except white sweet potatoes from Asia or the Caribbean. I just don’t like that grainy texture, yuck. I’m a texture person, and there’s no saving that awful veggie.

But tofu was a different story. People who eat it talk about its ability to take on whatever you want to give it. Grilling, frying, baking, etc. it supposedly has a lot of options.

In my experience tofu just always tasted like flavorless powdered scrambled eggs. No matter how they cooked it. But upon further review, I realized the majority of the way I’ve tried it is sautéed in Asian food.

Since tofu/soy ended up on my 30th Birthday Bucket list, I’ve tried. I ordered a tofu roti, which is a delicious dish from Trinidad at this amazing West Indian restaurant. I mentioned it in a previous post. I got the tofu on the side, and while I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it, which is a huge step forward.

I’m thinking if I could get it cut into even tinier pieces, kind of like how I get Easy to eat tomatoes and onions, I could maybe make it work.

I’m not giving up on soy yet though. I think my next attempt is soy milk. Maybe I’ll love it and then I’ll be done with this bucket list item.

I’m not holding my breath, but I”m also not giving up.

You hear that soy? I’m not giving up.

At some point soon, I’ll talk about the second 30th Birthday Bucket List item I tackled, which is reality TV. I never watch reality TV that’s not a competition (i.e., American Idol and Dancing with the Stars), but I went there.

Three words. Bad. Girls. Club.

Screenshot from one of many fights. Image via fanpop


On Attending Wine School in March: Bordeaux

2014-03-23 21.38.08

Last month, I started talking about the series of articles in the New York Times they are calling Wine School. I was pretty excited about participating, and so far it’s been amazing.

Last month was Bordeaux. This month is Beaujolais, which is currently en route to my house for much more than I wanted to pay in shipping. I’m hoping next month’s wine is found locally. Cross your fingers for me.

Before I even get to April’s wine, I have to talk about what an experience March was.

Bordeaux is tannin-ful wine. A quick trip to Wikipedia will tell you about tannins. The short version is drinking something with tannins in it feels like your mouth is dry.

Then they pour sand into your dry mouth.

Then swallowing feels difficult.

Then they add more sand.

Then they let your tongue bake in the sun until it feel like a raisin. Not a juicy raisin though.

Then they add more sand.

At least that’s how I felt with my very first sip of the wine.

But Eric Asimov is a genius and thought to warn lesser-than wine drinkers such as myself to prepare for that reaction.

So I let it happen, and leaned into the feeling. After the sandy moment passed, I felt thirsty, so I took another sip. And another, and another.

At this point, I felt like a character in The Phantom Tollbooth, you know, the one eating subtraction soup, so I stopped drinking and started eating.

I prepared pretty much the exact meal I wanted to prepare to go with this wine. Delicious and mouth-watering red meat really is the perfect accompaniment to this wine.

I used a recipe, also found in the New York Times, for a great skirt steak recipe. I’ve used it again since that first night, and the steak is always flavored perfectly.

Image via nytimes.com

Easy and I had a delicious dinner that night, but honestly, I only liked the wine, I didn’t love it.

When I got home from work the next night, I poured myself another glass.

Things had improved. I went from feeling only dry and nothing else to feeling good.

The wine was now fruity, though I couldn’t tell you which fruit I tasted. It was still dry, but now enjoyably so. I suddenly wanted a hunk of cheese to enjoy with it.

I’m not sure how much wine you should pour into one glass while drinking at home, but we never get more than 4 glasses of wine out of a bottle. That meant with dinner the first night, and my glass the second night, there was one left.

I decided to leave it for the third day.

It was even better the third day. The tannins I was cursing on day one were now good friends. They encouraged me to eat mouth-watering foods that were rich and full of flavor.

And when I finally finished the bottle, it was with regret. I missed it already. There was no way I was buying another bottle of this same wine, the cost was prohibitive for me.

So instead, I dreamed about the wine like a summer-only boyfriend from camp. Wondering if he’d think of me like I would think of him once we were forcibly parted.

I went the next day to my Midtown Manhattan wine guy and had him select another Bordeaux for me to try. I had to try to move on. I was hoping recommended Bordeaux wines were as interchangeable as summer flings

Luckily, the second Bordeaux was also good. Actually it was great. And it confirmed for me that I’m now a Bordeaux drinker, like officially.

So now I’m a Bordeaux drinker. I think it is my favorite red wine for now.

But April is almost over, and I will have to see if this month’s Beaujolais can take the place of Bordeaux. It’s low in tannins though, so the frenemy-turned-best-friend wine ingredient that I have come to love won’t get to play a role in this month’s food drama. I guess we’ll see what happens.


Giving, Receiving, And Leaving Town

Because we live in a sitcom, the plan the husband and I had for our Super Bowl party didn’t go so well, but it turned out alright in the end.

Our first mistake was not going grocery shopping ahead of time. We waited until Sunday after church.

Saturday night, I went to bed early-ish, which was nice. I got ten whole hours of sleep, which basically made up for the extreme lack of sleep from the week.

The husband was out super late Saturday night. He’s so friendly that he was hanging out with his old friends as well as making some new ones. He came home with this.

dollars

Where do you think he was? Strip club? Chuck E. Cheese? Playing for tips in Times Square? The options are humorous and endless.

So we get to church for morning service. It turns out there are two meetings scheduled after church. One for new members and one for the young adult ministry. Both are meeting the husband and I were to attend.

I didn’t want to go to either meeting. Because seriously, who calls a meeting on Super Bowl Sunday? Seriously?

But to the meetings we went. We didn’t leave church until after 3pm. We didn’t get home from the grocery store until after 4:30pm.

Did I mention the store had run out of chicken wings? I don’t just buy a bag of frozen wings and throw it in the oven. I cook fresh wings and make sauce to go with it. I get fancy, y’all.

So I sent the husband out in search of fresh wings and started on my sauces.

The guests started arriving and there was no food ready to eat. I felt badly, but there wasn’t much I could do. Luckily one of his friend made home-made humus and flatbread chips to go with it. And they were delicious!

I’m sure you all know how the game went down. All I’m going to say about the game is that I enjoyed watching the team I wanted to win whoop ass up and down the field. Oh, and the commercials were great too.

As the food started trickling out of the kitchen, everyone dug in. I was pretty satisfied with the final products: taco salad with sweet pepper sour cream topping; tortilla chips with ground turkey queso dip; loaded fresh-cut french fries with bacon and cheese; and chicken wings with a choice of spicy BBQ, honey mustard, or ranch sauce.

And of course I made my everything punch. When I say this is everything punch, I mean it. It has everything in it.

Don’t tell me you can’t mix certain types of alcohol. Don’t tell me dark & light liquors get into a fight in your stomach. I don’t wanna hear it!

I make this punch at most big parties we throw. I know the night is a success when people who I’ve seen drink several glasses of straight whiskey out at jazz clubs can only drink 2-3 cups of my punch before they’re really tipsy.

After the game ended, people still stayed to hang out a bit. We ended up playing a few hilarious rounds of cell-phone based Taboo. It was nice to not have to clean up all the cards and game pieces after we’re done playing.

Trying to guess the name of Oscar-nominated actors when you’re on your fifth cup of everything punch is no joke y’all. I tried to remember to take a picture of it, but I kinda forgot, so this is the best I have, a punch bowl only filled a third of the way with poor lighting.

everything punch

Looks harmless, doesn’t it? All a part of my master plan, mwah ha ha.

The good use I put my chemistry degree to is making a strong yet tasty drink that won’t leave you hung over. As long as you have a good electrolyte balance going before you start drinking, you can drink a half-gallon of this stuff and be fine.

You’re welcome.

Anyway, the husband gets on a plane later today to head to Chicago, assuming his flight isn’t delayed because of all the Monday travel issues. He’s gone for a whole month. I won’t see him until I meet him in Chicago for a wedding on March 1st. When he’s gone, we’re both so busy that we have to work hard to make time to talk. I’m sure we’ll manage though.

I’m going to miss him, but I do have something to distract me for a bit. I wrote a post recently about how I was looking forward to eventually getting my birthday gifts. I figured it would help jumpstart my efforts to stay healthy.

Guess what I got in the mail?

fitbit

A lovely lady I met in Chicago bought it for me. I met her while out with the husband at a jazz club, which makes sense because she’s a singer.

I was so excited about it, I forgot how sleepy I was and immediately got it setup. It’s as cool as advertised. I didn’t even have to take it off to have one of my marathon baths.

This is my first ever gift received purely because of something I wrote in my blog. It’s a moment for me, and I promise I’ll put it to good use girl!

I’d say I had a pretty amazing weekend. I’ll probably be a bit more low-key in the coming days. I’ll need to make time to workout so I can stay on track with my new healthy plan.

I think I may have someone to go rock climbing with. It’s one of the random cool people I’ve met while out at a jazz club with the husband. We shall see.

And I think this couple I met another time out is going to join me at the soup kitchen next weekend when I go to volunteer.

At this rate, I may actually have friends in NYC, but I won’t get my hopes up too soon.


As It Turns Out, You Can Cut Yourself With A Plastic Picnic Knife

Can I just say, things have been so crazy at work that I’ve been trying to write this post for a month? I never have time to finish it and just click publish. If only I had more time to post at home.

I know I’m overdue to post my pictures of my progress. To be honest, I just don’t see much progress. Maybe it’s because my eating habits haven’t improved as much as they should. I’ve cut out carbs that come from flour and white potatoes, but that’s about it.

I’ve been doing a pretty good job of eating mostly home cooked food. It’s when I don’t have time to cook that things go awry. Vending machine food is the enemy!

Sometimes, I run to Wal-Mart and grab some groceries to make myself some easy lunch or breakfast. This usually means salad fixings. And that leads to the point of this post.

After doing Tracy Anderson cardio one day, I was starving. I felt weak and knew I needed to eat something, like NOW. I rushed to put together a good salad, with bacon of course. Because I purchased all the good salad fixings, I needed a good salad.

That involved heating up the bacon slices and making my own fresh bacon bits, getting shredded cheese, shredded carrots, and dried cranberries. And it also involved cutting up an apple for which I neglected to bring an appropriate knife. So I grabbed one in the employee lounge.

Next thing I know, I slipped and cut myself.

With a plastic knife.

I didn’t even know they were sharp enough to do that. I guess it was because I was eating a Fiji apple. those things are quite firm and required a lot of applied pressure to cut. As I watched my finger begin to bleed, I contemplated stopping the salad preparation.

But I was just so damn hungry.

So I grabbed a napkin to press against the cut and kept slicing the apple. I have to tell you, it was so worth it because that salad was delicious. And I had the whole time I was eating to contemplate how in the hell I managed to cut myself with a plastic knife.

Eventually, my hunger subsided enough so that I could properly clean and bandage my finger. The problem is that I do a ton of typing at work, and not just my never-ending attempts to put out a new blog post.

Imagine trying to type with a hurt and bandaged finger, feeling all the worse because your dumb ass cut yourself with a plastic knife.

Because I like to learn from my mistakes, this led to better meal planning so I’m not so ravenous when I finish working out. I’m still super hungry, but not so much that I will literally let myself bleed just so I can eat some food.

It’s different working out at work compared to at home. At home, I can just turn on the shower, throw off my clothes, go grab some food. I can do all that in any order. At work it’s a very clear order. I can’t exactly walk around the building in my workout gear so I can grab a pre-shower snack.

So now I try to eat and apple or banana 30 min before I work out. And I have something for lunch that I can start to munch on while whatever else I’m preparing the rest of my food. And so far, I haven’t cut myself again yet.

With a plastic knife.


So Good,We Did It Again

I made the husband dinner two nights ago since he was nice enough to go to the grocery store. Porterhouse steak, yellow rice, sautéed green beans. It was quite delicious, and we really enjoyed it. When cooked food is just to our specifications, we really have a love affair with it. We inhaled our food while watching episodes of Man Men.

I’m finished with Season 5, but the husband is still catching up. Once he finishes Season 5, we’ll start Season 6 together. We like finding activities we can do together.

Last night we did a repeat. The husband purchased four porterhouse steaks the first night. When I got home from watching my cousin get all her hair shaved off ( a story for another time), we decided we wanted the same dinner twice.

So we did.

We had porterhouse steak, yellow rice, and sautéed green beans. The husband went back to the store to buy more fresh green beans, because fresh is always better. I try to stay away from canned food if I can help it.

It was just as good the second time around.

I don’t think I’ve ever eaten the same meal two days in a row where the second day wasn’t leftovers. I don’t think we’ll be making a habit of this as that was a lot of red meat to eat in two nights.

But it was just so good.

Steak cooked just how we like it. Mouth-watering yellow rice. Perfectly sautéed green beans with a white wine reduction. I’m starting to drool just remembering it now.

That reminds me, we did change one thing. The first night we used Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling. The second night we used Chateau Ste. Michelle Pinot Gris. Those people don’t make a wine I dislike.

If you had to eat one meal multiple days in a row, what would it be?


Getting Dragged From The House

Although you’re reading this some time after noon, I’m writing this shortly after midnight. Why aren’t I out partying? I’m at work, that’s why. I mentioned in a previous post an unfortunate set of circumstances that landed me at work on New Year’s Eve even though I’m not supposed to work holidays anymore now that I’m a supervisor. Just know that I’m getting through the night, and I’m just glad I’m in charge of scheduling in the new year.

In my last post, I was all busy putting my foot down about not leaving the house until I had no other choice, i.e., having to go work. Well that lasted until the peer pressure broke me down. The wife of the couple we had plans to spend time with on Sunday really truly just HAD to see Django that day and no other day.

After much cajoling, they got me to agree to go. No one believed me that my lip burn was much worse than it looked. They didn’t understand that my skin flap was just pushed up and hiding an awful looking sore. So it was either go out into the public or ruin everyone else’s day. So we went to see Django, which I had no interest in seeing. I’m not a fan of Jaime Foxx like that. I’m really not a fan of Quentin Tarantino. I don’t like it when Kerry Washington and Jaime Foxx are husband and wife in a movie either. But I do love me some Leonardo DiCaprio. I had to sit through three hours of a racist Leonardo with what felt like 60 full minutes of previews in front of it. It was a long ass afternoon.

After the movie, we went to the grocery store and bought fettuccine noodles, alfredo sauce, shrimp, crab legs, salad, chicken breasts, lemons, and powdered sugar. That sounds like a lot, right? Ah, but it was just enough for a great dinner. We had a chicken breast salad with red wine vinaigrette (my own special home-made dressing). Then we had shrimp alfredo. Then we had crab legs. Then we had lemon bars. I made smaller portions so no one over-ate. It was a great meal, and we had fun playing video games, drinking wine, and discussing the movie while we ate.

When it was time to say goodnight, we made plans to hang out again soon. The husband and I really like hanging with them, so it’d be nice to hang out more than once every couple of months. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but this is the couple whose wedding the husband and I met at. We were having fun regaling them with stories about when we first met that they’d never heard.

The story that really threw them was how we both knew from the moment we met that we simply must get together. We weren’t referring to a relationship though, we were referring to our physical chemistry. They laughed when we said neither of us expected things to go further than a fun weekend together. It still took us several months to get things right. Hell we were already engaged before we got things right, but it was amusing to look back on how wildly different our expectations were from how things turned out.

And as they left, they reminded me that my lip really didn’t look all that bad and I was being self-conscious for nothing. The husband agreed that it was worse in my head. The next day, I got out of the shower while getting ready for work. I noticed the little skin flap (doesn’t that give some odd imagery?) had come off, and now all I could see was a bright pink mark on my lip.

When the husband saw my face, all he said was, “oh.” My response was, “so now you get it?” And he did. What’s going on is that my upper lip looks terrible now. I have armed myself with neosporin and lip balm. I can only hope that soon enough, it goes away. And by soon enough, I mean months instead of years. My skin takes a really long time to heal from burns.

On a completely different note, I’ve been working out! It’s only been two days, so don’t get excited. But I’m just glad I got my lazy ass up off the couch and started again. The stress from work really has kept me from gaining too much weight. I’m only about a pound heavier than I was at my lowest weight when I stopped the last time. I’m just out of shape and flabby. This Tracy Anderson workout pulls everything in and makes you tight.

The couple we were hanging out with asked me why I cared so much about working out when I was smaller than most people. I told them it was because I cared about once again fitting into the dress I was wearing the day I met my husband. They liked that answer. The husband did too. So I’m trying to stay on the workout bandwagon. I’m too invested in my physical appearance to have so many jiggly parts.

Last time I was working out, I felt sure that Tracy Anderson was trying to kill me. This time around, I started to feel the same way, then I remembered that I brought this on myself. I’m the one who stopped working out. I’m the one who got out of shape. I’m the one who (wisely) started back over at Day 1 of her workout plan so I wouldn’t be behind the curve on the later workouts. I never feel pity for people with self-inflected problems, so I don’t have any self-pity now. It’s my damn fault everything hurts. But at least I have a wonderful husband who massaged my legs for me so I could keep going with the workouts.

It seems like most everything I felt had gone out of balance I’ve managed to get back in a few days. Something about putting into writing really put it into perspective for me. It really got my head on straight. Once I remembered my priorities, I was able to find the motivation. The hardest part was getting started. I figure that should last me about a week. Then I’ll have to find a new motivation to keep me going.

And, of course, at some point, I’ll work on unpacking our stupid apartment so I can pack it back up again in a few months.


Why Go Out When I Can Stay In?

The husband had a gig Saturday night. It was for a wedding at Trump Towers. I can only imagine how amazing a wedding was at a place like that. He asked me if I wanted to go with him, but that was before he knew what type of gig it was. When I heard it was at the Trump Hotel in the tower, I was pretty hesitant to just say yes to going. It could’ve been a holiday or some corporate event. There were many gigs that could be there. I could think of so many types of gigs that I shouldn’t just be waltzing into. I’m not sure what the husband was thinking he’d be doing there, but the fact that it was a wedding pretty much solidified that I’d be staying home.

The other thing that solidified my night in was my lip. During a conference call with the other supervisors in my department on Friday morning, I had an accident. During my excitement at planning our annual department party (which is always in February), I also realized I needed to cook the husband breakfast as promised because he had to get to a rehearsal. So I chopped potatoes and heated up oil. I managed not to chop off any fingers, but I did toss freshly chopped potatoes into hot bacon grease/olive oil/butter and it popped back at me.

It hit my right hand pinkie finger and the left side of my top lip. It hurt so badly, I spent the next five hours rotating out different frozen foods to ease to pain. Why not just use ice, you ask? I couldn’t use ice because though we have seven ice trays, all in the freezer, we only had three ice cubes amongst all the trays. I hate ice and never use it except for parties, so I didn’t notice this. So frozen chopped peaches had to do.

Eventually, I switched to neosporin because the pain only kept getting worse. The neosporin helped so I didn’t need to keep ice on my face, but at that point, I was more concerned with how my face was going to look with a burn blister on my upper lip. It takes me forever to heal from burn wounds, and one on my upper lip…? You know, looking like some sort of infection/cold sore/questionable scar?

How exactly does one explain it? Somehow, “no this is not a cold sore I’ve recently contracted from the cheating of either myself or my husband, it’s actually a burn I carelessly caused to myself from hot ass bacon grease because I got too excited thinking about an awards ceremony and wondering where we’d find a golden headset.” Seems like something might get lost in translation for anyone who doesn’t see me everyday and have an intimate understanding of my marriage and my job. So that meant hiding away until I knew what I was dealing with on my face.

One of our favorite couples was to meet up with us Friday to hang out. That had to get moved to Sunday so I could figure my face out. Well, also, I was extra tired from working the last couple of days and really needed to decompress. So I stayed home and re-applied neosporin and waited to see what would come of my lip. It felt worse than it looked. The husband swore he couldn’t see anything on my face. I think his vision is worse than mine though, so I took it with a grain of salt. It did give me hope though that as long as no one looked to closely at my face, they wouldn’t think I had some questionable sore on my face.

So now we’re back to Saturday and the husband is at his gig at the Trump Tower hotel. I laid on the couch, catching up on episodes of Leverage. That show is absolutely amazing, by the way. As I sat there, I thought about how I should get my lazy ass off the couch and start working out. But I ultimately decided against it. I can’t remember why exactly but the reasoning being something like concern about doing too much too fast and burning myself out. I just did the great task of getting back to my blog. A workout would take it too far, or some such nonsense.

So what did I decide to do instead? Well, I chopped up some potatoes, and I made myself some french fries. My daddy always taught me to get back on the horse. I didn’t want to get afraid of the potatoes + oil, so I went in. I didn’t think about the fact that I was eating fried foods two days in a row, I just felt good cooking two days in a row. Then I took it up a notch when I took the fresh-from-the-oil french fries, covered them in cheese and freshly rendered bacon (I like fresh, even if it is unhealthy, you know?), and popped it in the oven to melt the cheese.

It was so delicious, I just ate it straight from the pan. Again, no new burns. As I settled into my potato coma, I felt good. So good, in fact, that I relaxed and let my mind wander on how great I am for getting back on the hot oil horse. Right at that moment, I rolled over and scratched an itch that had been bothering me. Then I set up with tears in my eyes.

Half of the tears were from the pain of accidentally ripping off a layer of skin that was barely protecting the burned area. The other half of the tears were from the knowledge that without that skin, my face would be scarred for months to years while it healed the wrong way. I ran to the mirror and confirmed my fears. I had a bright red spot of skin right there where my actual lip meets that skin between your nose and your lip. What was worse is that the skin wasn’t all the way pulled off, just halfway scratched off.

I grabbed a band-aid, pushed some of the skin back into place, and then applied more neosporin. The ointment burned, and the band-aid felt awkward. But at least I was scratch-proofing my face. I was so worried what the husband would think when he got home. I angled the band-aid so it was diagonal, otherwise I would’ve had a Hitler mustache thing going on. It was just horrible to look in the mirror, so I just stopped.

I fell asleep before the husband got home from his gig, and when he saw me in the morning, he said nothing of the band-aid. He just went to sleep (he was out pretty late, I guess that means he discovered ReBar, which is a wonderful place inside Trump Tower). So I texted our friends who got rescheduled from Friday. I asked if they wouldn’t mind staying in with us. There is just no way I can go out into the public where people can see me with this band-aid on my face. The jokes from the husband and our friends will be bad enough. Then I have to work Monday night. That still gives me several days (until Wednesday) to heal up before I have to deal with the general public, i.e., back on the day shift and running errands.

All I can think of now is how I have less excitement about this party in February. It’s not the party’s fault I got burned, I know. It’s my damn fault. But correlation and causation is hard to separate in the human mind. And my face still really hurts. The lips are one of the most sensitive parts of the body, and getting burned there hurts more than most burns. So what’s the lesson in all this? I think it’s the fried food. I should’ve just baked the home fries I made for breakfast. It would’ve been healthier, and apparently, safer.

Have you ever done anything to yourself that made you want to hide away from the world so no one will know?


Evil Ass Chocolate Cake

Do you like chocolate? I happen to love chocolate. When I got a sweet tooth last Sunday night after making dinner for the husband and his parents, I decided to make a chocolate cake. I figured it would be a good time to use another recipe from my Bon Appétit cookbook for my cooking blog, and I always make cookies, so I wanted to make something different.

The last time I attempted a cake, it was for the husband’s birthday in 2011. I don’t think he even knows I tried to make this cake because it ended so horrible. The inside was raw, the outside got overcooked, it was just atrocious. I dropped that crap in the garbage and headed to the grocery store to buy a cake baked by someone who knew what they were doing.

Back to the evil ass chocolate cake. I was flipping through recipes and saw that everything I wanted to bake needed eggs. We were out of eggs, but the husband was nice enough to run out at like 10 pm to go buy eggs for me to bake. I settle on the chocolate cake recipe and right when the husband got back with the eggs, I realized this recipe didn’t even need eggs. I figured since I’m confessing things, now would be a good time to apologize for the errand request that was completely unwarranted. Sorry husband.

Now that I’m done with the spouse confessional part of this blog post, let me say that the eggs were actually quite useful in the recipe. I made up the batter and threw in one egg to make it more moist. You know how some in-a-box brownie recipes give you the option to use 2 or 3 eggs depending on your moistness preference? I know baking is so precise, but I figured it might work the same way. I have already ruined several cakes over the years, so I was no longer afraid of the shame.

It turned out that the evil ass chocolate cake was super delicious! The recipe called for a three layer round cake, but I don’t have any round cake pans. Instead, I made 12 cupcakes and a sheet cake I cut in half a turned into a two layer cake. There was a thin slice of cake left over after I made the layer cake, so I put some super delicious frosting on it and the husband and I had a tasty late night snack.

I noticed that the cake was a bit crunchy right on the edge. I figured the cooking time must’ve been off when I converted it to cupcakes. I intended to take the cupcakes to my parents’ house for Labor Day the next day, but didn’t want to take over-cooked cupcakes if they would all be a little crispy on the edges. Who wants crispy cupcakes? No one, that’s who.

Those evil ass cupcakes still got packed up in an airtight container and taken to my parents’ house on Monday. I warned everyone that the inside would taste super delicious, but the outside may or may not have some crunch. My daddy cracked jokes and no one touched the cupcakes. After dinner, my brave uncle decided he’d try one. The only other dessert was store-bough apple pie, and he didn’t want any of that.

He grabbed a cupcake and I left the room. When I came right back, he was finishing the cupcake and told me it was really good and I was a better baker than I thought I was. I walked over to the container to grab a cupcake for myself and saw that in that short time period, he had actually inhaled two cupcakes and I saw him finishing the second one. I figured they really must taste good. I took a bite and they were so moist and tasty, not at all crispy.

I realized they tasted like Hostess cupcakes, except without that extra ingredient that tastes like it could survive longer than humans could. Just sweet home-made goodness. I let my mom have a bite and she loved it too. I was so proud of myself. I figured the frosting and the air-tight container had something to do with softening the cupcakes. They were a hit and they didn’t make it til the end of the night. No leftovers is always a good sign.

I went home proud of my cupcake adventures, and glad I had a whole 9 square inch layer cake to eat. And eat it I did. The husband and I have eaten 1-3 servings of chocolate cake every day this week. The cake was so good. And it keeps so well. We go through a lot of milk, but we used even more this week with the super delicious cake.

What was the result of the super delicious cake? We’ve been so sluggish. We aren’t eating balanced meals, we’re just eating cake and things-that-taste-good-right-before-cake. We sleep more. We exercise less. It’s been such a struggle to get through my exercises and I’ve been half-assing the cardio. Friday I decided the cake was an evil ass cake and had to go.

We still had a good 3″ of cake left, but it had to go. I threw it out. The husband hates wasting food, but I had to do it. That cake was taking over our lives. It’s not like when I make cookies. I cut the recipe down and only make like 12 cookies. It wasn’t so easy to cut down the cake recipe, so I made the whole thing. And our diet and exercise plan fell off a cliff. So now I know to just make the entire batter into cupcakes and leave that shit at my parents’ house. Maybe we’ll keep six cupcakes for our house.

Knowing I have an amazing chocolate cake recipe feels good to my soul because I loves me some chocolate. But that evil ass cake isn’t welcome in my house for at least three more months from now. I’m thinking I’ll make some more maybe for Christmas, and not a day sooner.

Do you know any good evil ass recipes? I’d love a great pie recipe!


You Can Find Me Under The Cookbook

NOTE: The link is all fixed!

Even though I really do have more than enough on my plate already, I’ve decided to add more. I am going to try to do the cooking blog. Am I crazy? I probably am, but I really want to do this, so I am going to do it.

I have decided the blog will go live today at 10:00 CST. You can check it out here. There’s just an intro post. I mean this shit is really bare bones at this point, but I’m working on it. In the meantime, I’m looking at other cooking blogs to get an idea of what types of formats people follow in their posts.

I won’t go too straightforward with just recipes and pictures. I like to do my commentary and to add my opinions a little too much for that. So we’ll see where it goes.

I have already got my first recipe down, and I’m so proud of that fact. When the niece was over to our apartment all last weekend, we made pancakes using a recipe from the cookbook that I love so much and on which this entire blog is based.

I love this book and soon you will too!

Have you ever made pancakes from scratch? I’ve always wanted to as a kid, but never got around to it because using the box mix was just so much easier. But now I take pride in making things myself and not from a mix.

I must admit I’m quite excited about this new blog. This personal blog of mine filled with randomness (like Tracy Anderson trying to kill me) and plans (like the never-ending quest to unpack my apartment) and anecdotes about the husband is still my first love, but it’s nice to find a way to connect two things I really love. Blogging and cooking made a baby and it’s called You Can Find Me Under The Cookbook.


Free Time, Schmee Time

I don’t really remember what free time is anymore. Technically, free time is time spent doing nothing when I am avoiding other responsibilities. There’s always something waiting for my free hands. I wonder if I will ever reach the end of my to do list. I likely never will, but I have decided I will be okay with that and just make the most of the time I do have.

The husband and I had quite the busy weekend with only stolen moments of free time. He had four gigs, our niece spent the entire weekend with us, one of my friends threw a birthday party for her twins, and we had our fantasy football draft. I have to tell you, I am not a person who can wake up at 8 am, stay out all day visiting places that are 30-50 miles apart, and then finally get home around 2 am. And then you want me to do it again the next day? Shit, I was so wore out this weekend.

I finally lost steam late Saturday night and had to beg off the husband’s gig that night. I stayed at home with our niece and played a bit of the Sims 3 on the PS3 before going to bed. The weekend did have some pretty good highlights. The niece and I made home-made pancakes using a recipe from my favorite cookbook. If I end up doing that cooking blog, this recipe will be the first one I blog about.

Another highlight is that I finally washed clothes. How damn domestic can I be that a highlight of my weekend is that I washed clothes? Turns out I actually kind of like washing clothes. Put it on the shit-I-shouldn’t-like-but-do list along with making spreadsheets, feeding everyone asparagus, and weighing myself daily.

The pinnacle of the weekend was the fantasy football draft. This league is pretty serious for me. The team includes lots of the husband’s friends. Friends like groomsmen and wedding guests. Friends who have been around and will be around for years. So the bragging rights and shit talking that come with this draft is a huge deal. The husband isn’t really a football person, but I am. So when this draft went down, I felt like I had to represent for our whole household. The husband couldn’t even do the draft because he had a gig, so his whole team was on autopick.

Am I taking this fantasy football team too serious? Definitely. But when I am whooping ass and taking names, the husband will be keeping count so he can bring it up with his friends for the next 50 years. This fantasy league is really more of a long-term investment in my marriage, you see. And in the far-fetched chance that I don’t come out on top, I can just claim I’m a girl and out-matched, drop my handkerchief on the ground, and pout or faint or something.

After the weekend passed successfully, I was proud to report that the house was still clean and the pets were still alive. Unfortunately, we were grocery-less, baked goods-less, out of washing detergent, the cats were in a fight, and I had only worked out twice. I did learn a lesson about being busy and staying productive. They are not even close to the same thing. don’t get so busy that you don’t handle your business. Next time a weekend like this rolls around, which is just next weekend (Labor Day), I will be more prepared. It’s hard being both busy and productive. Okay, I’ll stop whining now.

How was your weekend?


As If I Don’t Have Enough To Do Already

I’m considering adding something to my blog. Or maybe adding a second blog. As I’m typing this, I’m considering all the reasons why this is a terrible idea. I don’t really have the time to work on an additional blog. My days are already pretty packed as it is.

So what’s my motivation for even considering this craziness? My favorite cookbook.

I took a picture of my book, but this pic I found online at Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures looks way better.

This is my go-to cookbook when I want to make something I don’t already have a recipe memorized for. The recipes are easy follow. What’s even better is they are easy to adapt. I rarely make a recipe exactly as listed in the book, and so far, the food has always turned out tasty.

I started thinking about that movie Julie/Julia and wondered if I could cook my way through this book. It has 700+ pages, so it would take me years to get through it. It certainly wouldn’t consume my life like the chick who the movie was based on. But it would be a fun long-term project that would be just for me.

I love being in the kitchen and I love cooking, so it’s something to consider. Of course, I would start making the recipes as they are actually listed instead of altering them to fit what I want to make in that moment. The only thing I would change is I wouldn’t use canned food. I’ve been trying quite successfully to avoid all canned foods lately. There will have to be some sort of nuclear explosion killing all the farms and ranches before I go back.

The next step is to really think hard about whether this is a project I truly want to undertake. Any suggestions or input?


Filling Up Two Days Off

You ever stare at an empty post template and wonder what to write? That’s happening to me write now. Unfortunately for you, that means you get to read my stream of consciousness until I stumble upon something I want to write about.

I could write about how the husband and I don’t see eye to eye on what makes us upset. I think people are allowed to be upset about different things. He thinks everyone in the world should only be upset about things that also make him upset.

I could write about how I miss my family because I haven’t seen them since our lovely trip to Ikea last weekend. My brother got into a car accident and I haven’t even been able to look him over to assure myself he’s got no internal bleeding.

I could write about how we really need two cars until we move to NYC, but we’ve really only got the one reliable car and one I doubt will make it through the winter. Everyone seems to want me to pick up a car note, which is insane because we’re about to move to New York!

I could write about how the exercise/diet program is going. Tracy Anderson says no substitutions, but I am the substitution queen, and I’m okay with that.

I could write about how hard it is to stick to our budget. Two months into a firm budget and I’m seeing how tough things get right around the 16th of each month.

It’s pretty obvious that I’m feeling scatterbrained right now. What do you do when you’re scatterbrained? When in doubt, do a diary entry? Eh, why not.

I’m working this whole weekend, but I had two days off before that. I’m starting to get used to having multiple productive days in a row. It suits me I think.

I feel like an asshole for not being more productive before. It’s like, what the hell have you been doing with the last couple years, girl? It turns out there are enough hours in the day to clean up, cook, exercise, sleep, etc. I have learned that I can’t do everything every day. I’m still mystified by people who can. My mother has a friend who washes a load of clothes every day. EVERY DAY. How does she do it?

I’ll never be a person who can wash clothes every day, or mop the floor every day, or cook every day. But I can mop the floor at least once a week. And I can wash clothes as least once a week, just not the same day I’m mopping. And I’ve finally mastered the art of cooking for more than one day at a time.

When you have to juggle making meals for your diet plan and making meals that fill up your husband, you get better at maximizing your time in the kitchen. It helps that I love to cook; I don’t think someone who loathes being in the kitchen could handle it.

The best part about my new productiveness is that I can schedule in time for mindless activities too. Like blogging. Nah, I’m just kidding. I mean like watching television. I love the TV show Leverage. There are a couple others as well, like Burn Notice and White Collar I try to keep up with. I love my summer television, what can I say? I finally had a few free hours yesterday to head over to my parents and reconnected with their DVR. I don’t remember what life was like before DVRs, and I never want to go back.

As much as I love summer television, I’m looking forward to the fall lineups. For one thing, the money I pay for HuluPlus  is worth it because I can watch all my episodes, which I can’t do during the summer because USA and TNT are so Hulu stingy. There are still a few more weeks before that happens, but I’m excited nonetheless.

To wrap up this diary entry with a TMI moment, I will list, in no particular order, my five favorite moments in my day. 1) My drive to work where it’s just me and either a friend on the phone or my music. 2) When the husband puts  lingerie on the back of the bathroom door during my workout for me to change into once I’ve showered. 3) Eating cookie batter from batches of cookies I make about once a week. 4) Curling up in the bed with the husband, Jazz, and Belle for our afternoon nap. 5) Looking in the mirror and seeing that while my thighs are getting smaller, thankfully my boobs are not (yet!).


Getting Too Comfortable At Work

I think it’s important to maintain some distance between myself and my co-workers. Not until I’m at a job in an office where I know I’ll be for 10 or so years will I set up shop and try to make friends. In order to maintain professionalism and to not have people in my business, I try to keep those boundaries.

I think I’ve been getting too comfortable lately. Here are some signs:

  1. Helping a co-worker pick out an engagement ring.
  2. Offering to cook dinner for everyone one night next week.
  3. Actually knowing everyone’s name.
  4. Having more than 4 cell numbers in my phone of co-workers.
  5. Knowing details about more than 3 people’s breakups/divorces.
  6. Having people know how to pronounce my real name.

That last one is the biggest sign. I go by CeCe at work because my real name is too hard to remember how to pronounce and spell. We deal with a lot of people of all races and languages of origin. Half the time, it’s over e-mail and pager. So to save everyone a lot of heartache, I’m just CeCe.

There are a couple co-workers who’ve felt that we’re close enough that they need to know my real name. As long as they aren’t shouting it out in front of other co-workers who will then want to know, I suppose it’s okay. But the number of people who know my real name is creeping up a little high for my taste. I can’t exactly stop telling people who ask though. That would be rude as hell.

I happen to be terrible with names, so the fact that I know everyone’s name is disconcerting. Our high turnover has been slowing, so it’s all the same people now. With only 2-4 new people coming in every six weeks, names are just easier to remember. Faces start to look different. It’s weird for me to see someone I haven’t seen in a month and I still know who they are.

When I bring in food from home, people always want to know what wonderful thing I’ve made. The hamburger stuffed with mozzarella and topped with sharp cheddar really got them going. Next thing I know, I was offering to take up a collection and menu suggestions and make dinner for everyone. I don’t know where that came from. I hope they don’t hold me to it. I shouldn’t have suggested it.

No one I’ve ever cooked for in the last 18 months has gone away from my life. It’s like I put catch-a-friend seasoning in my food. I’ve got to be careful if they do remember. But if I leave it to someone else to plan, I should be alright.

I really do like a couple people at my job. It just feels weird to cross that boundary from co-worker to friend. I try not to invest too much into people who are only in my life because of circumstances that have an expiration date, you know?

Who knows, maybe I’ll end up in the wedding of one of these people or something. More likely, I’ll be struggling to remember anyone’s name this time two years from now.


Having An Equitable Marriage

This is not some insightful post guaranteed to bring peace in your marriage. If you’ve ever read any previous post, you know I don’t go that deep. I would never give advice to the masses like that.

Nope, this post is just a story about the husband and I trying to help each other out. Give and take is kind of our thing. We keep things equal. not 50/50, but equal in terms of our efforts and what we try to give to each other.

Cleaning the kitchen is mostly his responsibility. But the cooking is mine. When I woke up for work Wednesday, I realized the kitchen was in a special place of disarray.

I could only imagine the husband coming home for the evening, ready to clean the kitchen, and finally taking in just how bad it looked. I couldn’t do that to him. So I loaded up the dishwasher, cleaned the counters, swept and mopped the floor, and took out the garbage. Well, I took the garbage to the back porch, but at least it was out of the kitchen.

I was so proud of myself for getting off my ass and helping out with something that was actually his job. I waited to tell him about though. The husband was off being amazing and running errands so I’d have a car to drive back and forth to work. To top it off, after those errands, he was going to go grocery shopping. The husband hates grocery shopping.

I had pretty much decided that grocery shopping should just be my job since I could do it quicker, more efficiently, and hated it less than he did. I had my special menu and shopping list template that I’d setup for myself. But the husband insisted that I let him go, so I did.

I handed over my special list that covered some staples we needed to replenish and some menu items for the rest of the week. When I was going to let him know about how I helped him out, he beat me to the punch to tell me how on top of things he was with his errands for the day.

While we were patting ourselves on the back, the husband arrived at the grocery store. He realized he didn’t have my list I’d given him the day before. He said he had it, but he’d lost it. Well, he didn’t lose it. He knew exactly where it was, it was just no longer accessible to him.

So what happened to that grocery list? It went something like this:

“I knew when I got in the car, I needed to keep it close, so I stuck it in the cup holder. I knew that probably wasn’t the best place to put it, but I figured it would be okay. But then it fell behind the cup holder. You know the cup holder in the front of the car, like right under the radio? Yeah, so I can see it, but I can’t reach it.”

I decided to not help him. I was driving and couldn’t exactly write out a new list for him right then. And the husband seems to do careless things a lot when it comes to things that someone else can step in and save him. So I gave him advice. I told him to get a bendy straw and gum and retrieve the list he already had. He was already at the store, so I figured it was a good a plan as any.

I sat there while he thought aloud about how to make it work. Then I got off the phone because I didn’t want to help. Somehow he retrieved the list and completed the shopping. I’m not sure how he did it, but he did. I like it when he solves his self-inflicted problems for himself. That may be a given with some people, but not my husband. So that afternoon was a good one.

Every time he fixes one of these situations, I get less concerned about leaving him alone with our future children. And to thank him, I’ll make him a great dinner before I go to work tomorrow. I’m thinking baked chicken, homemade biscuits, rice and gravy, and roasted broccoli.


Midnight Snacks Are The Best

In an effort to keep up with my new year’s resolutions, I started cooking more for the fiancé.. Because of our busy schedules, we don’t have a set dinner time or even a guarantee that we’ll see each other throughout a given day.

Last week, we got a bunch of unexpected time together. The fiancé used to sick days from work and he was home. He went to the doctor and ended up seeing the eye doctor about getting a new prescription for his contacts. His bad headaches almost immediately went away.

This post isn’t about the fiancé’s health, however. It’s about midnight snacks. When I think of midnight snacks, I think cereal, grilled cheese, leftover Chinese food, etc. I have stepped up traditional midnight snack food and made it something delectable.

On the days the fiancé didn’t go to school, we were both up pretty late. At around 1 am one day and 3 am the other day, we got hungry. I had been promising to make him fettucine since new year’s, so I got to it.

I made a roux with butter, olive oil, and flour. I added half and half and let it thicken. I melted in Parmesan cheese (not grated) and then added milk until it was the right consistency. Then I added in a jar of store bough alfredo sauce. Some seasoning rounded it out and it was great. I made some noodles. I also steamed some broccoli and tossed them in garlic, butter, olive oil, and black pepper.

We feasted on a great midnight snack. We didn’t eat that much because it was so late, but it was sooooo delicious.

Another night I made chicken with 5 different seasonings. I folded up aluminum foil and made five small trays that all fit onto one cookie sheet. I sliced three chicken breasts and split them amongst the five. I’ll describe each one because it was amazing.

1) Lemon Pepper: I had black pepper, white pepper, and fresh lemon juice, along with a lemon slice on the top. I finished it with fresh grated lemon zest.

2) Honey glazed: I just poured honey over the chicken three different times during the baking, and it made a nice glaze all on it’s own.

3) Spicy: I had black pepper, white pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. It really packed a punch, but wasn’t too spicy. All those different peppers play on different parts of the tongue, so it just tastes well seasoned. It’s becoming my specialty to make spicy food that folks who don’t like hot food can eat (That and strong drinks that folks who can’t drink strong drinks because of the taste can drink!).

4) Traditional: I used garlic powder, salt, black pepper, thyme, and poultry seasoning. Traditional chicken seasoning, very delicious.

5) Italian: I used garlic powder, oregano, and italian dressing. Soooo good.

For each one, I also put a bit of chicken stock at the bottom of each individual tray (even the honey glazed). I did this to add an extra kick of flavor so I didn’t need a bunch of seasoning (bonus for the spicy) and so I didn’t need a bunch of salt (bonus for the honey glazed).

If you ever have time on your hands and can’t choose what seasonings to use, use them all!