Friday, January 29, 2010

Endless hugs, 7 varieties of cheesy potatoes, and BFFs

I had been delaying any major cooking activities (grocery trips, etc.) over the last weekend as I waited by the phone for the news that was a long time coming. In my glorious, fun, loud, and wonderful family (I speak of them often, hi aunts!) we lost our Matriach to cancer this week. A lady who never smoked and was otherwise a picture of health got lung cancer. Go figure. My Grandma was pretty amazing for a multitude of reasons including but not limited to: raising 11 children (much of the time as a single parent), having more stamps in her passport from interesting places (the middle east, asia, you name it) than anyone I've ever known, being totally mellow/zen/yoda-esque, and finding a wonderful balance between strong faith and liberalism (what woman in her eighties is that delicate combo?). She was awesome.
A few months back my dad urged my siblings and I to write about my Grandma, as a gift to my mother. As it turned out, we read what we had written at the services. Kudos to my brother and sister for both being funny and sentimental, and prompting many more hugs. My Aunts and Uncles did a great job making everything so meaningful and personal (special shout out to my own mama!). The church ladies did an excellent job in providing the world's largest varieties of casseroles. No kidding, there had to be 7 types of cheesy potatoes... how could you stay bummed?
Sister was happy about all of the dessert varieties

Our family tree..... leaves = grandma's descendents including great-grandkids. Holy big family.

How great do they look? Beauteous and vintage. Little did they know at the time the impact they would have on so many lives.

Love you Grandma! In addition to the church food, we had plenty of other unhealthy comfort food at our disposal. Oh that's right. We tri-ed some. With AE dip... life changing.
After 2938749832749872398947239874 hugs later (although you can never, ever have too many), I drove the SIX HOURS home and got in around 10pm last night. Weary traveler that I was, I was a hot mess getting up to my apartment. Someone in the elevator even had to help me with all of my saddlebags. So you can imagine my delight when I opened the door and saw this waiting for me:
With a wonderful note (I knew giving her a key to my place was a smart move) I checked my fridge:
And as I blissfully munched on a dark chocolate covered strawberry, I couldn't help but notice all of the little notes around the place:

She is correct, my new table IS sweet. Pictures to come. Hey, even Bubba got in on the action (like that is a surprise):

and an Animaniacs quote that had me smiling while I brushed my teeth this morning :)

Thanks Emily, way to turn this frown upside down! In related news, my college roommie and BFF Nickie will be arriving for the weekend in just a few short hours. Quality time with friends makes EVERYTHING better, I'm convinced. Plus we'll be doing some cooking this weekend :) stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Accidentally, Innocently, Completely Offensive

So last night Emily and I decided to have a much deserved Girl's night. It has been ages since our schedules have been able to accommodate such QT, so I was pumped. Too bad I got home around 11pm the two prior evenings, therefore reducing the chances of any sort of culinary magic to nil. I opted to bring an appetizer of crusty french bread with goat cheese, a sprinkle of dill and a diced Fuji apple, all melty and crusty after being popped in the oven for a few minutes. Can I just say, Holy Goat Cheese. It's so rich and delicious and just rocks my world. Sidebar, Emily I left the package in your fridge and I will fight you to the death if you don't let me have it back. That is all.

Soon after we switched to Emily's more mexican theme, including Queso.. yum!
Then we watched the MASS election results (sad times), talked about how we wish we were Kennedys and how it's probably too late for us to try to marry in to the family... And how Rachel Maddow was just some curly hair away from looking like Paul Simon last night in her turtleneck and corderoy blazer.

... while we ate black bean and roasted veggie quesadillas. YUM!

For Desert I brought the makings for SMORES. YUM YUM! I was so excited. This may be the first time I've tried to eat this combo and not smelled like firewood and needing a shower and indoor plumbing. Best of all worlds, I say. Below is the pan, it had no idea what was coming...

While Emily and I popped the pan into the oven to Broil, we chatted, laughed, kept drinking and Generally forgot about it. Until we began to smell burnt sugar, which Emily said 'On the food network they say you know it's done when you can smell it' Except that it was completely burned. We laughed forever about how we had made the marshmallows totally unrecognizable and even took an iphone picture and uploaded in to Facebook to share our kitchen disaster with the world........

(dramatization of us forgetting about the time)

Until 8 people online immediately commented to ask why we had baked a Nazi pie. AHHHHHHH Do you see it? Holy Swastika! as soon as the first random person pointed it out, we exchanged 'no way' glances, and then looked at the picture again and were HORRIFIED (and laughing until we cried the utter ridiculousness of it) to be spreading anti-semetic images on the internet and through food.... on accident. We got bombarded with comments until we took it down, approximately 3 minutes after it was up. Further putting our foot in mouths is when we tried to making joking references to the oven being a nazi oven... until, oh yeah right, that's worse.

So we regrouped (still laughing a little, although again, totally offending everyone). And committed to not burn the desert. Round 2 of oven smores:

That was exactly one minute on the timer and made the smores ooey gooey perfection. But let's just compare what difference a few minutes makes.

It all worked out in the end though, those smores were delicious. We topped them with half of a Hershey's bar. SO RICH.

(and so unflattering of the chef)... Emily made me put this picture of her dog up. UGH.

I hope I don't need to explain that Emily and I are not hateful, intolerant people. We love Jews, we're crazy liberal... But I hurt today from laughing so hard last night... It was an accident!! Next time Emily and I are going to shoot for having a miraculous impression of the Jesus or the Virgin Mary in toast, to redeem ourselves and send some better Kitchen Karma our way. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Monday, January 18, 2010


And no, Dave Matthews band or Nicholas Cage, I'm not talking to you. I'm afraid my friends, this is all about the blahness of Oatmeal. Probably a pretty unpopular thing to say in the orbit of health food blogging (although I'm not entirely sure I can even claim that anymore).... I digress, I keep giving traditional oatmeal chances and it keeps dissapointing me. I mean, I WANT to love it. It's cheap, easy and a throwback to Little House on the Prairie... so what is not to like?
So last week I looked up a healthy crock pot recipe (say it ain't so!)
Healthy Crockpot goodness (Eating Well)
  • water
  • steel cut oats
  • dried fruit
I did not put my iphone in the oatmeal, although it probably would've made me love it more. I was SUPER excited to wake up to a crockpot full of healthy breakfast that would keep me full all day. Oh Joy. Oh rapture.
Except it was NOT my everything. There was hardly any flavor..... so I dumped pure maple syrup on it.... thereby reducing the health factor. Then I realized that although Dates are God's gift to us.... nature's candy, if you will........... they looked like cut up hot dogs in my oats. Do you see how pink and fleshy they are there? ewwwwwwwww. Also the raisins were looking like Kalamato olives to me.... another contradictory flavor and not so much a feast for the eyes. I forced a few bites of this and then grabbed a granola bar and string cheese on the way out the door. Fail.

To make things worse, apparently today's the worst day ever. No offense Dr. King. Also I'm sure anyone working in government would whole heartedly disagree with that (I probably would too if I was home in my PJs with unwashed hair watching hours worth of soaps and Jerry Springer).... but according to THIS MSN Health article (thanks for passing along the depressing news Debbie Downer Emily) the depression of the holidays being over and any remaining debt or junk in the trunk, coupled with broken resolutions and cold gray awful weather that's not going away any time soon, and reading blogs without any regard for run on sentences..... well.... it makes today a peak depression day for people. Who does depression hurt? Everyone.

That picture actually kind of cheers me up... but only because I picture this cat getting ready to say 'Can I has a cheezburger?' .. HA... lol cats get me every time. Me and old ladies and 14 year olds.

In other news John won a HUGE game this weekend and I'm still recovering from the fun celebration with his friends and family.... I've got an exciting crate and barrel table coming with some assembly required this weekend, and girls night is tomorrow. Whoop Whoop!

Monday, January 4, 2010

45 hours in the car

(only the greatest awning ever... located on some awesome street in DC)

10 states, 2500 miles and 45 hours in the car over Christmas. Holy Moley. We drove north to Iowa to see the fam (Hi Anne! Hi Aunts!) We then drove eastward until basically the end of the continent. 19 straight hours on the way there encountering (luckily) very little snow. We did however miss a few turns in the mountains of Pennsylvania in the middle of the night during the thickest scary movie fog you've ever seen (whispers: lady in the water).... but eventually we made it. How cute is Bret's place?

It's right next to where Obama lived as a Senator.. and just a few blocks from the Capital!
Speaking of the Capital, we got a personalized tour. Although I was slightly dissatisfied the guide wasn't wearing more flair. Next time Bret, I think a bullhorn would be a nice touch.
..... and see how in painting Thomas Jefferson's foot is stepping on John Adams.
We're walking, we're walking...
The room where Kennedy announced his bid for the presidency. The podium's Seal of the United States was held on with scotch tape. My tax dollars at work.
...... If I win student council president, every day will be pizza day!
Learning of the wonders of the Rotunda in the Russell Senate Office Building
Oh yeah, and mom was gratuitously gushing over Bret. Barf.
It's a good thing we have each other during trying times like these.
Gate crashers.
Just kidding, they just stood outside the gate. Meanwhile Alisa and I were joining a protest.
And blending in with the scenery.

Mom had the gumption (gumption?) to get up WAY early in the cold and get tickets to go up in the Washington Monument... I didn't even know you could do that!
Ohhhhhhh............ Ahhhhhhhh. Look, I can see my house from here!
I spy.... the White House.Food-wise we tried to be smart with our meals. As in, one whopping trip to Trader Joes (oh how I love thee, please come to Kansas City) for breakfast and dinner meals, and then greasy iconic lunch places for midday mid-sightseeing meals. Copious amounts of fruit and greek yogurt for breakfast basically cancel out chili dogs... right?
Bret's house was amazing! He and his coworkers rent it from a guy sailing with his family and MIA. It's fully equipped and in a beautiful location. House swapping (or squatting) is totally the way to go on vacation.... I don't care how homey hotels claim to be, nothing beats being in an actual house.NYE was definitely a highlight of the trip. What could we possibly do in an urban area that would work for both an 18 year old and 60 year old? The theater! Yes! It just so happens that at the Kennedy Center there was a broadway reprisal of Mel Brooks classic, Young Frankenstein (which we watched ALL of the time growing up, hilarious). Sweet seats too.
I'm not going to lie... I thought we looked like a million bucks.
My mom in her sassy new cocktail dress (first in forever, definitely since before she was sick) from Anne Taylor, my sister in her freshman homecoming attendant dress from three years ago (that girl is tiny, she never grew.... like circus people) that we got at Nordstroms, and me in a limited dress that I got 7349875% off on black friday from the Limited for.... wait for it... $25. Oh yeah, I'm high-fiving myself just thinking about it.
Photo courtesy of an 8 foot tall usher named Bob. Nice work Bob.
After the show everyone at the Kennedy center convened in the lobby for the symphony and some NYE excitement. Obviously, we picked up the available flair.
See... I told you he was an alien.
Alisa did my hair... I was loving it. What a guy
Don't mind if I do.
They were cute, despite their gag-inducing lovey doveyness
(does that make me immature? I'm kind of okay with that)

It was fun, one of my favorite NYEs for sure :)

So where was I? Oh yes, the food. Well... all of those places Obama (and many presidents) have gone to, the hole in the walls? Not so healthy. Nary a vegetable to be found. For evidence of this I present our feast from Ben's Chili Bowl. Truthfully I tried to split meals and eat smaller portions of the delicous/disgusting stuff when possible.... but sometimes.. those chili fries kept refilling themselves and well.... that was all she wrote. That's what new years resolutions are for, right?

Another holiday miracle was an imprint of the Virgin mary in some bread (I'm thinking it would work better in toast). Holy Sandwich.
The trip was great and we made it without major delays due to impending snow, a small miracle considering Kansas City is getting hammered right now (a thin wall from where I sit here at my desk are several inches of snow accumulating on my car... exciting, no?). When we did make it back to the parents' house however, we got stuck in the snow on the lane up to the house (thanks for nothing 4-wheel drive) and discovered a pipe had burst in the basesment. Those disasters aside, it was a great trip. Thanks to my Dad for taking so many fun pictures with his amazing camera, and thanks to my brother for hosting us!
On the way back to KC I listened to an Alice Waters Yale University Podcast on the ethics of eating and am ENTHUSED for cleaner eating for 2010 (no more chili dogs, seriously). And Emily and I have already made plans to lose our holiday badonkadonks and meet each other in the morning for exercise. Sounds like a good plan, right? Happy New Year!