As much as I like my usual flatware, I'm getting a little sick and tired of seeing the same spoon in every single shot for the past seven years. I found this pretty serving spoon at a thrift shop in amongst the grubby, mismatched utensils thrown together in a bin. Now that it's spic and span, you can look forward to seeing that spoon in every single shot going forward.
The napkin-sized swatches came from the remnant pile at the local fabric store for pocket change. You may see them again. Your job is to pretend they're expensive linens. And the marble slab under last week's bagels was a Craig's List freebie. All I had to do was carry it away (no small task, as it turns out).
Sometimes having a shoestring operating budget is kind of fun!
Okay, guys, you asked and I listened (nearly a year later). I finally got my blog's RSS feed converted into emailable form. And by "I," I'm referring to the good folks at Mad Mimi because "I" am incapable of such a thing.
If you'd like to receive new blog posts by email, you can sign up here. No, this is not a ploy to get all of your personal information so I can spam you to death with farmer's market propaganda. I don't want all of your personal information, trust me. Keep that shit to yourself. The only thing needed is your email address. The only propaganda I promote is the usual combination of good food and silliness. My only goal is to get through the week alive, same as you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
If you do sign up, keep in mind that you may need to click a link at the top of your email in order for the images to be visible. Assuming you want the images to be visible. I'll leave that up to you. As for the rest of you, if email isn't your preferred method of blog engagement, just continue to tune in the usual way, same bat time, same bat channel, which is right here whenever the hell I feel like posting.
Anyone else out there plagued by relentless hiccups? Or hiccoughs, if you prefer? In my younger life, I tried every possible cure: holding my breath, spoonfuls of sugar, having someone jump out and scare the shit out of me. Nothing worked until eventually I'd pass out from exhaustion.
But surely, I thought, surely there must be some way to interrupt the infuriating cycle of spasmodic insanity short of tasering my diaphragm into submission. Lo and behold, in the spring of 1994, I found that solution in the most unlikely place: A hostel in the northwest corner of Spain. There, a stranger noticed my plight (and by noticed I mean she was hideously inconvenienced by it). I believe it was the owner of the hostel, though I honestly can't remember because I dismissed her advice almost immediately. She said to clench a pencil between your teeth while drinking a glass of water and voila: hiccups gone.
I mean, really, what kind of medical advice is that?
Naturally, I assumed it was quackery, but every hiccupping person has his or her breaking point. Eventually I gave in. What could it hurt, right? I located the nearest writing implement and bit down on it as instructed. Then I took a swig from my water bottle. Or tried, at least. It's surprisingly hard to drink water when you're unable to fully close your mouth. Water streamed down the front of me until I burst out laughing, spraying the whole mouthful all over the room.
The hostel owner was obviously in on some kind of practical joke. Is there anything more fun for Europeans than tricking dumb, potentially drunk Americans? Probably not. Or maybe my Spanish wasn't as good as I thought. Maybe she had simply said "drink some water" and had offered me a pencil to write down this important advice. Perhaps the pencil was all in my imaginings. STUPID PENCILS!!!
That's when my friend noticed that my hiccups had stopped. I froze for 15 seconds. She was right! They were GONE!!! I was so happy, she snapped a photo of the momentous occasion:
See the relief in my eyes? And the water-splattered bedspread? (I knew this photo would come in handy someday!)
Over the course of that trip, my hiccups returned a few more times, as they are wont to do, and each time the trick worked immediately (if messily). Since then, I've gotten no closer to mastering the art of drinking water with a pencil in my mouth (or pen or magic marker), but I don't care because it never fails me. I'm sure there's a logical explanation for why it works—something more to do with physiology than fairies—but I'm no scientist. All I know is the past 20 years have been virtually hiccup-free. Not bad for an obscure Spanish home remedy.
I was in a bad mood the other day, so Husband sent me out of the house to get some fresh air and a gallon of milk. In one of the aisles of the grocery store, I saw a little boy sitting in a shopping cart.
He stared at me.
I smiled brightly and waved.
He held up a package of wooden spoons.
I made expressions indicating I approved of his treasure.
I was charmed!
He was still winking when he made a sort of clicking noise with his mouth. Then I heard a tremendous explosion, masterfully improvised, as he fired his makeshift weapon at my face.
My eyes went from soft, wide doe-eyes to the razor-thin slits of an angry snake as I registered the betrayal.
He appraised me with a look of smug victory.
I was suddenly filled with white-hot rage. My muscles began twitching under my poofy winter coat. A feeling of suffocating tightness came over me as I realized my body was expanding at an alarming rate. The seams of my coat burst. The fabric shredded all around me to reveal skin that was now a sickening shade of green. I had the sudden urge to rip those wooden spoons out of his hand and snap them over my muscular knee. I wanted to grab his Hostess cupcakes out of the carriage, tear open the package, and squeeze them until the creme and mangled cake crumbs extruded greasily between my fingers. I wanted to pull all of the six-packs of soda off the shelves and smash them onto the floor so hard that they exploded into hundreds of angry geysers. Then, amid the spray and chocolate wreckage, I would stand over his terrified little face and say in a very slow, very low voice:
But instead I kept on walking. Walking, walking down the aisle with my milk and my tattered clothing dragging behind me, walking right by his mother who didn't seem to mind that my virtual brains were splattered all over Aisle 7. Which is too bad, because he's likely to do that again, and I'm one of the saner individuals at my supermarket.
This was supposed to be part of my Tuesday Tease series of lazy photo posts, but then it suddenly became Friday. No problem—I changed the title to Friday Freeze. Seemed apt. Then Friday came and went. Now it's Saturday. Saturday Sneeze strikes me as too disgusting of a post title to be paired with a bowl full of yellow snow, so you're stuck with the outdated title (and an image in your mind that you probably wish you didn't have). You're welcome!
In my forthcoming cookbook, there are several recipes for homemade snow cones. And by homemade, I do not mean pouring a package of powdered Kool-Aid over the snow. While the Internet assures me that this is a perfectly delicious way to enjoy snow cones, the Internet disappoints me sometimes. After experimenting with various homemade syrups, I came up with some excellent alternatives using seasonal winter fruits like citrus, pears, and quince (pictured is tangelo). I stored them in jelly jars in the refrigerator and then waited for the snow to come.
And waited and waited and waited. Mind you, this was last winter (2011/2012). The winter before that (2010/2011), we got 80 inches of snow. Last year, nothing. Well, maybe a few dustings here and there, but only enough to make one pitifully small grassy snow cone flecked with dirt and debris. Not appetizing. I thought about driving up to the mountains with a cooler. Instead I pulled out the blender. Bad idea. You can't make snow cones with a blender. Not with my blender anyway. Not unless you like soupy slush cones studded with frequent whole nuggets of ice. Yuck!
Finally, I broke down and bought a cheap $20 shaved ice machine. It worked well for testing purposes, producing an acceptable snow-like accumulation in small quantities. But I had yet to try my syrups over the actual cottony stuff from the sky. Until recently, that is. And, oh, it's such a treat!
Following up on my trip to Philly, here's a peek into the photo shoot for my cookbook, Wintersweet. Above are food stylist Ricardo Jattan and his assistant Curt working on that day's recipes. Below is Steve Legato, photographer extraordinaire. The shoot took place in his spacious, light-filled studio.
How it worked was this: Ricardo and Curt would make the selected recipes (about 40 in all) in the studio kitchen. Amanda, the book's art designer, coordinated with Mariellen, the prop stylist, to select the right plates and props from several tables' worth of platters, bowls, plates, trays, and linens. Ricardo, a successful movie production designer who does food styling in his spare time, would artfully arrange the dessert on the chosen serving vessel, selecting just the right honey-roasted pear to feature (known as the "hero"). That includes making sure the caramel drips seductively in all the right places and the nuts are scattered attractively. It's trickier than it looks. Here Amanda is razzing Ricardo for trying to sneak an unwanted mint garnish into one of the shots.
Meanwhile, Amanda and Mariellen set up the appropriate backgrounds on the set: sometimes old cabinet doors or boards, sometimes fancy papers. Steve adjusted the lights and made various other calibrations that I can't even begin to understand.
Photos were taken, adjusted, cropped, snapped again, adjusted again, props swapped out, frosting dabbed just so, snapped again, etc., etc. You might start with something like this:
…and end up with something like this:
See the swirls in that napkin? Those are not accidental. This is why I will never amount to anything as a food stylist. I unceremoniously plop the napkin down right after using it to smear some ketchup across my face.
Mmmm, whoopie pies! Frankly, I was in my glory sitting back and watching everyone else do the hard work. I didn't have to lift a finger. The process was fascinating to watch, and I had so much fun. Such a nice and talented group! A huge thanks to the whole crew, as well as my editor Kristen Green Wiewora at Running Press and my agent Melissa Sarver.
I know you're probably tired of hearing me drone on and on about this, but I cannot WAIT to see this book!!
Why Philadelphia in February?
It was the site of my dessert cookbook's photo shoot with Philly-based Running Press and Steve Legato Photography. Just between you and me, I wasn't going to miss that experience for all the tea in Boston's icy harbor, snow be damned, Amtrak train cancellations be doubly damned, school cancellations be triply damned. I fishtailed my way down my barely plowed street at 5 am on Monday and flung myself onto the first southbound train that came my way. Six hours later, I woke up in Philly.
This is the view from my little hotel, The Independent, which I loved (wood floors, high ceilings, close to all the great restaurants). I didn't have much daylight to work with for sight-seeing, but I did manage a fair amount of walking before and after the shoot through the Old City and Rittenhouse Square.
Philly reminds me a lot of Boston with its brick and cobblestone sidewalks in some quarters and streetcar rails grooving the pavement in others. The architecture is similar, too, with pretty little row houses lining the streets, but with more brick than brownstone and simpler, straighter lines. The urban vibe seems grittier and funkier than Boston, though, and certainly more diverse. There seemed to be painted murals around every corner. The grid system of an urban plan (roads chronologically numbered in one direction, named after trees in the other) is very easy to navigate by foot, and the drivers don't rev their engines if you're still in the crosswalk when the light is about to change. That was a refreshing change of pace.
My editor treated my agent and I to a lovely dinner at Tria, a wine bar with a welcome emphasis on cheese and probably the friendliest service I've experienced at any restaurant ever. The next night, I dined alone at Fish at the bar overlooking the open kitchen. The food was delicious: seared scallops with chorizo, cauliflower, and Marcona almonds, and monkfish with parsnip puree, lobster butter, fermented garlic, braised fennel, and radish.
The staff kept me well entertained, teasing me for missing all the important Philly sights: the Liberty Bell, Constitution Center, Independence Hall, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the latter of which seemed better known for Rocky's triumphant training scene than any art contained therein. Let it be known, however, that I did get to the Reading Terminal Market housed in an old train station, where I procured colorful farm eggs and an assortment of winter squashes for photography purposes.
But, of course, a large part of why I loved my trip so much was the photo shoot itself. It was amazing. What a fantastic, talented, and welcoming crew! They made even my most unphotogenic recipes look scrumptious, hermits included. Hermits!! The shoot deserves a post all its own, which you will soon get, but first I need to spend a little time with my family.
(To be continued…)
Know what's good over a shot glass full of snow? This stuff: Sapling. It's a maple liqueur from Saxtons River Distillery in Brattleboro, Vermont. Sweet but not too sweet, it's a nice reward after four hours of shoveling 2 to 3 feet of snow.
I'm still sick. In the meantime, here are a few excellent food-related things I acquired over the holidays. A few cookbooks, a cute little cast-iron teapot, and pecan pralines straight from the French Quarter.
Even at my age, I still find Christmas kind of magical in the non-religious, totally commercial sense of the word. I mean, yes, Christmas is more about giving than receiving and our focus is always the kids, but I still secretly hope there will be something exciting for me under the tree. To make sure this happens, I may or may not wrap up a few things for myself. Like one or two of those cookbooks up there. *cough*
I needn't worry, though, because despite Husband's lackadaisical approach to gift-wrapping, he rarely disappoints on Christmas Day. This despite (or more likely on account of) all of his unbudgeted, unapproved purchases. Every year I tell him, don't buy any other extra stuff besides what we've discussed right here on this list, clipboard and abacus in hand, pencil behind my ear.
"Merry Grinchmas," he'll say, leaving the room. "And a Shitty Year's Eve!!"
He always ignores my admonishments no matter what I say. It makes for fun present-opening for the whole family, I'll admit. The only downside is that it sets a bad precedent for the whole rest of the year when he doesn't listen to a goddamned word I say.
(Ah, but thanks to him I now possess the technology to send him nagging texts! He'll think twice about extra presents for his wife next year!)
I started the South Beach Diet on Monday. That means no sugar and no carbs for two weeks. Have I gone mad?
Yes. Yes I have.
The proof is in the pudding-sized pile of Butterfinger wrappers Husband came across a few weeks ago. I must have been so blissed out on mediocre chocolate and crystal peanut meth that I forgot to hide the evidence. Stealing from my own kids' Halloween buckets like a junky! For shame!!
It's no secret I've been having a hard time coming off the sugar-fueled roller coaster of the past year. Over the past two months, I've progressed to the point where I can go a whole day without sugar, two even, but by the end of the third, I'm wild-eyed and desperate and suddenly housing a jar of leftover chocolate fondue I found in the back of the fridge. A big jar. And I'm not feeling too good about myself afterwards.
That's where South Beach comes in. The underlying principle of the diet is to reset your physical and mental expectations for your sugar consumption. That means cutting out ALL sugar for the first two weeks, even the natural sugars found in high-glycemic fruits and vegetables as well as dairy. It's also means no carbs, which your body immediately converts into sugar. Meanwhile, you can eat as much as you want of everything else: meat, cheese, beans, eggs, nuts, leafy greens, cruciferous veggies. The idea is that once your system is entirely rid of the addictive substance, you don't crave it anymore. Then you can slowly add certain foods back into your diet (note: I don't think this works for cocaine).
Now before you start shaking your head at me like every single friend I've told about this bold move—as if Tom Cruise had suddenly appeared by my side with his manic, empty eyes and a mission— remember that this is just temporary. It's just for two weeks. I don't plan on living a carb-free, sugar-free life forever. I love those things and believe that most of them aren't bad for you in moderation. I just need to restore my original factory settings. The sugar cravings are driving me batshit insane, and something drastic needs to be done. They don't have any Betty Ford clinics for sugar addiction, as far as I know, so I'm stuck with the South Beach Diet and Husband as its bastard enforcer. It'll be a miracle if we're not divorced by Christmas.
After these two weeks pass, foods I fully intend to add back into my diet are: potatoes, whole grains, pasta, all fruits, and all the sweet veggies in my winter CSA share, like beets, squash, and parsnips. All of these will be fine once they don't taste like heroin to me. Thereafter, desserts will not be daily, and carby snacks discouraged. With any luck, I'll be able to return to my pre-cookbook way of eating, which has enabled me to maintain a stable, sustainable weight pretty much all my life thus far.
First step: clean out the refrigerator and freezer of all tempting items, including the pumpkin butter I like to eat out of the jar, and the various fig pastes left over from recipe-testing. Next, make the children eat the rest of their Halloween candy in one sitting. Hop to it, kids, you won't hear me say those words ever again. Ready, set, go! Third, have Husband hide the chocolates my neighbor brought back from Barcelona, and although you suspect he hid them in his own belly, try not to care. Fourth, send Husband to do the food shopping since he's the only one in this house who knows how to survive this diet AND lose 30 pounds AND keep it off. Fifth, get cooking.
Just don't mind my grumpy posts in the meantime!
I'm still sleeping off my Thanksgiving turkey—an amazingly tender specimen prepared by my mom—along with mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potato casserole (sans marshmallow), cranberry sauce with port and roasted shallots, rice pudding, and pumpkin pie. God, I love Thanksgiving!
But I did find some time between naps to make a few changes to my blog's design. Nothing too crazy. I just wanted to organize things a little better, sweep out some cobwebs, and finally (finally!) add a navigation bar up there. I added a better search feature, too, and updated the About and FAQ pages. I hope you like it.
There's one thing that's still bothering me, though, and that's the Twitter feed. You may have noticed over the past few months that the updated Twitter widget no longer fit in my sidebar. In addition to being ugly as all hell, half of the words were cut off. I finally broke down and widened the left-hand column, but now the whole layout feels off balance to me. I'm thinking of scrapping the Twitter feed altogether. Does anyone even look at it? Cast your anonymous vote below:
It's coming up on that time of year when I start to display an uncharacteristic generous streak. Yes, I have a few giveaways planned starting today. Of course, I'd love to raffle off a copy of my own book, but you won't want it in the condition that it's in right now, all marked up with edits. It should probably be printed on paper without pizza stains and maybe have the swears deleted. Some photographs might be nice, too. Let us gussy it up for you first!
Instead, I'd like to show you another book produced by my publisher earlier this year. It's Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan. You may know her from her great canning blog by the same name. Not surprisingly, it's about all the pretty seasonal things you can put in jars. Lest you think there's nothing left to can at this time of year, that I'm a little bit late as usual, may I direct you to the recipes for slow-cooker pear butter, cranberry conserve, apple pumpkin butter, sweet and sour pickled red onions, and gingery pickled beets. Oh, there's plenty, including handmade gift ideas like maple pecan granola, rosemary salt, and homemade cake mixes in jars.
I admire this book not just because of the recipes and the accessible writing style, but also because of how attractive it is. I just love the jacketless cover, the gorgeous photos of jams dripping all over the place, the nice, thick paper. Will my cookbook end up looking like this, I wonder? Holy crap, I hope so!!
Running Press is giving away one copy of Food in Jars to be raffled off to a special someone. (And, no, my publisher did not ask me to post this. You know I don't like to do anything people tell me to do. Just ask Husband.) To be entered, leave a comment on this post about food or jars or whatever you want. I'm not being picky today. If you've recipe-tested for my book, you get to enter twice to double your chances (submit two separate comments or the random number generator will only count you once). The contest will close on Sunday 11/18 at 10 p.m. EST. Have at it!
Luisa Weiss, blogger and creator of The Wednesday Chef, wrote a pretty little memoir called My Berlin Kitchen. It's about finding her place in the world after an upbringing defined by movement between Europe (Berlin, Italy) and the U.S. (Boston, New York). And, yeah, okay, it's also a love story. But I think we all know how I feel about love around here. Yuck!
I particularly enjoyed reading her descriptions of German holiday traditions, from roasted goose to doughnuts with a little, um, surprise! The recipes featured in the book are lovely and span the globe. I've already made her German yeasted plum cake, spicy Mexican meatballs, and Italian tomato bread soup, the latter of which is a completely amazing way to treat the last of this summer's fantastic tomatoes.
Fans of the book and blog will want to head down to the Harvard Book Store at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, October 2, where Luisa will be speaking and signing books.
I'm too busy crumpling up my manuscript pages and flinging them in disgust to write a proper post, so here's something else. It's an actual e-mail exchange between Husband and one of his good friends, both of whom I'm quite sure have played their share of Dungeons & Dragons at one point or another.
For fans of George R.R. Martin, I offer you this:
This is no jape. I saw your smallclothes, chased in gold and dagged with crimson velvet, upon a gelded destrier as he was eating a feast fit for the Merling King: river trout roasted in almond milk, stuffed with figs. He was on his way to the Street of Silk.
As usual you are playing the fool, and you are undoubtedly festooned in the motley common to that of a court jester. Will you not caper about like a softheaded numbwit for our amusement?
On the morrow I shall be dining on garlic-rubbed garron, spitted and roasted, with much grease popping in the fire. You, ser, shall be supping on a thin soup of carrot and onion, with nary a rasher of bacon to be found at the board.
I expect you'll be sotted in a Fleabottom brothel as usual, your manhood festering with pus and foul odors.
Wow, Lord R is quite the charmer! I wonder who his lucky lady is?
A friend of mine recently commented that finding recipes on my blog is a pain in the ass. And it's true! I mean, it's one thing if you know exactly what you're looking for and Google it, but what if you just want to browse through some meat recipes until you find something you like? Or you want to peruse your vegetarian options but none of the posts actually contain the word "vegetarian" since I can't be bothered with search engine optimization? Wouldn't it be nice if you could find what you're looking for without digging through six years of recipes?
Some of you are nodding your heads in agreement and the rest are itching to click back over to Facebook if things don't get funny soon. Spoiler: They don't! (But if Facebook lures you away, please consider "liking" Food on the Food on your way over there by clicking the little icon of my face down there to the right. Don't worry. It doesn't hurt that much!) (Ow! My eye!)
So I went through and catalogued all of my best recipes over there on the left under Recipe Box. If you're in the mood for chicken, click on chicken and you'll be treated to all the poultry goodness I can dig up. Desserts? I might have a few! Check out the Favorites category, too. There was a lot of good stuff hiding in the archives, some of which even I forgot about, so thanks for the reminder, Self! Some of the older photos are pretty scary, but the good news is that I can see my skills have actually improved a little over time. Just a little.
I'm also working on creating print-friendly recipe pages so you don't waste paper printing out a whole post when all you want is the recipe. Forests are important to me, as you know. Future recipes will have that feature already embedded, though it'll take a while to go back through the archives. Please be patient. I'm on deadline. Not only does my editor need the next three chapters stat, but the kids are out of school in two weeks. Craaaaaaaap!
Anyway, let me know what you think of the list. Go on. Try it out! The search bar is still there, but on the left now. As for the blueberry cobbler above, you can find that recipe here.
Turns out that the shooting pain in my left wrist that I've been ignoring for the past month is some kind of tendonitis/carpal-tunnel-type situation. Which is fanTAStic news for me leading up to my first manuscript deadline.
I nodded obediently as the doctor told me the first stage of treatment: Advil, ice, wrist brace, and not using my left hand for three weeks. My left hand is my dominant hand, by the way. It's my writing, chopping, typing, whisking, stubborn-peanut-butter-jar-opening hand. Then I went home and had this conversation with my left hand:
Me: Hey. Listen up. There's one week left until my deadline so you better man up. This book isn't going to write itself.
Lefty: The doctor prescribed rest. You told her you would...
Me: Pipe down. You already had a week of rest during the big Norovirus Extravaganza. I get one shot at a book. ONE SHOT and you're not going to ruin it for me.
Lefty: Ice! I need ice!
Me: You'll get your bag of frozen peas in a minute. First type this stupid post.
Lefty: Why don't you ever make the other hand do any work? It's not like she has anything better to do.
(Right Hand is sunning herself under my desk lamp in a skimpy bikini and earbuds.)
Me: What? That useless thing? The only thing she's good for is helping to keep me from sinking to the bottom of the pool, and she can barely do that, frankly.
Right Hand: Whatevs. (Rolls over onto her other side)
Me: Do you know what would happen if I put Righty over there in charge of operations?
Me: Sure, you'd enjoy a relaxing convalescence, but you'd return only to find that all five of your fingers had been chopped off. Is that what you want? God, I can't even read her writing. Would you look at the draft for this post? Does this say "bloody stump" or "broody crumpet"?
Right Hand: Another margarita, please!
Suddenly, another week isn't looking so bad!
Here's a little music for you guys this morning because someone, I won't say who, was very excited to see Bret McKenzie win an Oscar last night!
For those of you who don't recognize the name, he is best known as one half of the New Zealand comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, also the name of their highly entertaining HBO series that ran several years back. (Bret won the Oscar for a song in the Muppets movie, which we haven't seen, yet, so please no spoilers!) Now we need an Oscar for Jemaine Clement, the other half of the duo, just to keep things fair. If you like quirky, independent, non-Oscar-winning movies about dysfunctional love, may I recommend Eagle vs. Shark starring Jemaine, in the plaid below.
Now, start channeling your inner Marvin Gaye and pay attention to any food-related references in the clip below so this post doesn't seem completely gratuitous.
Boy, have I been tired over the past week. I mean really, really, can't-keep-my-eyes-open tired. I thought about having myself hospitalized for exhaustion like my good friend Demi Moore, but, honestly, that whole process seems entirely more exhausting than it's worth. Can't I just be exhausted right here in my own bed and not have to go anywhere or explain anything to anyone? Yes? Oh, okay. Phew. Zzzzzzzzz.....
Looking back, I think it was the diarrhea that did me in. I mean, the feverishness sucked and the vomiting blew, but hour after hour, day after day of urgent diarrhea really takes a lot out of a person. Wait, what I mean to say is, it really saps your strength. I don't have a large body of experience around diarrhea, to be honest. Constipation, yes. Vomiting, well, let's just say that if Harvard gave out honorary degrees for that, I'd have a very impressive resume. I kind of thought diarrhea was just an urban legend. Some kind of cruel voodoo joke. It's no joke, people. It's all too real. I don't think anything was metabolized for four full days. Then, on the fifth day, my appetite suddenly came raging back. I tried to be dainty in my portions, but I was literally starving and things didn't go as planned. I imagine my digestive track resembling the narrow Spanish streets of Pamplona, with the bulls playing the role of my lunch, charging down the cobbled avenues goring anything in their path. But further on down the line, all systems were not go. Not by a long shot. Aerial views would show the Spaniards frantically racing away just ahead of the bulls in a confused, chaotic throng, some clinging to lampposts for dear life, others trapped in alleyways, with the vast majority spilling out toward the nearest exit. There may have been blood, I don't know. This analogy got away from me three sentences ago.
I really struggled (if you count struggling as not caring at all and then falling asleep) with how to account for my mounting, explosive calorie losses on my Lose It profile. It seems they don't have a category for persistent, uncontrollable diarrhea in their databases. Someone should contact their webmaster right away! In theory, I was very excited by this potential loophole since I haven't lost any weight since I started my regimen last month. In practice, however, it was too much work to even boot up my computer. Instead, I amused myself by trying to mentally calculate how many hours of sex it would take to burn off a full day's worth of calories so I could make an ironic ballpark substitution. Somehow I arrived at 16,000 hours per day before collapsing into a slumbering heap.
I'm feeling much better now. Things are progressing a little more as nature intended. I did weigh myself a few days ago to find out the impact on my bottom line, and do you want to know how many pounds I lost? Zero pounds. You heard me. Not a single one. My scale is now smashed against a tree in the backyard! I know I probably should have harnessed that day's energy for something more constructive, like a blog post better than this one or maybe a little work on my manuscript. But looking back with the wisdom one gains from perspective and a cooler head, it's clear that motherfucker totally had it coming.
Last week, while desperately searching for out-of-season quince, I brushed against a display of out-of-season strawberries. One of the plastic shells teetered, and then started to fall. Now, if I had just let the thing fall unimpeded, it probably would have landed intact, maybe even right side up. But, noooooo. I had to leap into action, bobbling the container to greater and greater heights, until, in a decisive lunge, I made one final, dramatic grab. And ended up accidentally spiking it onto the floor with such force that it detonated an explosion of strawberries and plastic shrapnel never before seen by the good patrons of Russo's. Apparently. Judging by the looks on their faces.
Where were these volleyball skills in high school gym class when I really needed them?
Meanwhile, halfway across the world in the tropics, my sister of Trish Barker Photography took this photo of a beautiful strawberry tart by Dolce, a boutique bakery on Maui. Doesn't that look good? Now that's the kind of strawberry explosion I can really get behind!
Do you like coffee? Do you like mushrooms? Well, have I got a giveaway for you!
Rao's Coffee Roasting Company, located in Hadley, MA, supplies direct-trade coffee beans to more than 100 Boston area restaurants, including Craigie on Main and Hamersley's Bistro. Rao's recently partnered with Ming Tsai, chef of Blue Ginger and host of public television's Simply Ming, to create a one-of-a-kind coffee blend that includes health-promoting maitake mushrooms. And you do remember the other name for maitake mushrooms, don't you? DON'T YOU??? It's my beloved hen-of-the-woods! Pay attention, people!
Mushrooms in coffee? Are you intrigued? I know I am. But since I'm not a coffee-drinker, you guys get to be my guinea pigs. Rao's is donating one 16 oz. bag of Ming Tsai's Maitake Coffee for Health (caf or decaf) to one lucky winner. Don't think I'm being 100% altruistic here. I want you guys to stop falling asleep during my mushroom posts. To be considered, leave a comment below about coffee or mushrooms. Comments will close at 10 p.m. EST on Saturday 12/17.
If you prefer your coffee untainted with mushrooms, know that Rao's also sells French Roast, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Guatemalan (organically grown), and a whole bunch of other coffees perfect for gift-giving. You can order them through their site or, if you're lucky, you might find some at Russo's (oddly, under the mushroom bins).
Hi All! Husband here. I related a story to Tammy the other day that she found amusing, so here it is in the form of a Special Guest Post.
If you are not acquainted with the sweet, crisp flavor of Fresca, then you need to go get some right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait here.
OK, now that you’ve agreed that it is the best grapefruit-based diet tonic in the land, we can start the story.
The other day me and my co-worker were working on Important Business at my desk. It was that time in the afternoon when refreshment is needed, and luckily the machine has a Fresca button on it. We got two Frescas, opened them with great relish, and got back to work.
About five minutes into Important Business we looked up from the computer screen and suddenly realized that our Frescas were sitting on the desk right next to each other. Although the quantities still left in each were different, there was no way to 100% without-a-doubt correctly associate each Fresca with its proper owner. We’re both engineers, so believe me, if there were a scientifically-achievable way to identify them, we would have been okay. But in this instance we just didn’t have time for DNA swabs and a testing lab.
A hush came over the office.
We stared at the Frescas, minds churning.
We looked at each other.
We looked at the Frescas.
We looked at each other.
We put the Frescas in the trash.
I found 8 shiny quarters in my pocket, new untainted Frescas were triumphantly acquired, and Important Business continued.
I stopped in at The Concord Shop the other day and found quite a few things I wouldn't mind in my stocking.
Whoa! It's clear I'm going to need a bigger stocking! Or at least one with a steel-reinforced toe.
This Thursday night (12/8) from 5 to 7 p.m., the Concord Shop will not only have great gifts to peruse, but some complimentary holiday fare provided by local business Bistro-at-Home. Graze on turnip and cauliflower bisque with candied chestnuts, blue cheese-stuffed poached pears, and black forest chocolate trifle with a gingersnap kiss. Holiday shopping demands high blood sugar! There's also a gift basket up for raffle, filled with baking supplies worth more than $200. To be entered to win, fill out a card in the store by noon on 12/8. There are lots of other shops on the block and around the corner worth checking out, too, including a wine and cheese shop, toy shop, and independent bookstore.
Just a reminder to support local businesses this holiday season.
I think I've mentioned my tendency to make overtly sexual comments without the slightest bit of awareness. Luckily, Husband calls me on it every single time. It didn't take me long to accumulate enough material for a post, even after limiting the location to the kitchen. In fact, it took exactly 36 hours. Here are a few gems:
Me: It was very long and very hard, but it was very good.
Him: That's what she said.
(At the dinner table talking about my swim that morning)
Me: It's too big to fit in here, but I'll make it fit!!!
Him: That's what he said.
(Trying to put a giant bowl of coleslaw into my overstuffed fridge)
Me: Things are a little woody in the core area.
Him: That's what she said.
(Coring a quince; also applies to parsnips)
And my personal favorite:
Me: It's very spitty over here so stay away from the meat.
Him: That's what she said.
I am now a card-carrying member of the Boston Mycological Club. It's about time. I've been torturing my friends and family with my mushroom obsession for years, and now I can consort among my own kind. I still bring my family out on walks, though. Don't think I don't. Here are some pretty mushrooms we found on our foray, as well as a few other things.
Violet cort? (poisonous)
Yellow fly agaric? (poisonous)
Milk caps? (poisonous, no doubt)
Frog! (non-poisonous, hopefully)
And let's not forget this interesting find:
Ah, yes, the envy of all the other trees.
And that concludes this edition of Forest Porn!
Thanks for the movie recommendations, you guys. Lars and the Real Girl got the most votes, so I'll be checking that one out ASAP and the others soon after. BTW, I rented Winter's Bone last week before I got your ideas, and that just solidified Husband's view that I'm not allowed to pick the movies anymore. It was good, don't get me wrong. Very good, but maybe a little bleak to pile on top of an already bleak workweek was Husband's point.
Speaking of movies, and especially speaking of movies filled with hope, there's a new documentary out about the resurgence of farming among young people in this country. It's called The Greenhorns, and there's a screening this coming Wednesday 9/28 at 7 p.m. at the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square. The film will be followed by a moderated discussion with several young local farmers, the roster of which hadn't been finalized when I last inquired but which included the lovely Ellery Kimball of Blue Heron Organic Farm in Lincoln (the little farm by the railroad tracks on Rt. 117). Tix are $5 (cheap!) and can be bought at the box office at 40 Brattle St., Cambridge or here.
Hope to see you there!