Archive for the 'food' category

February 5th, 2010

» somewhere

Momentous occasion: Wednesday night, I went to the grocery store. Okay, that’s not so momentous (I love the grocery store, particularly the banana section), BUT: when I got home, I cooked! Just a simple throw-stuff-in-a-pot soup and some pan-fried tofu, but it’s a start, and now my fridge is stuffed with leftover soup, and the beginnings of horiatiki and a Mexican skillet.

I’m trying not to hate February just because it’s February. Deep in the long grind of winter, no end in sight. Lately I’m dreaming hard of far-off places. (Well, not precisely: I’ve actually been having strange, troubling dreams since the end of December; topic for another day, though!) The Boy and I are going somewhere this year, and here’s the dilemma (the wonderful, overwhelming dilemma): where?

First constraint: time. When I went to Peru in 2007, I took 2 1/2 weeks off work, and — how to put this? — it was less than appreciated by my boss. I was basically told that would never be happening again. But everyone survived, I’m very good at what I do, and — well. Let’s call it a week and a half, no problem. (I’ve already taken, or will be taking, 7 of my vacation/sick days — and can I just take a moment to thank my last-August-self for knowing I’d really, really appreciate 6 days in St. Louis in January? Because I totally needed it. Anyway, leaves me 9 for the rest of the year.)

Second constraint: location. I really want to go somewhere neither of us has been before. The Boy is adorable and pretty fantastic all around, actually, so I’ve decided to forgive him for this, but: he’s been basically everywhere. All around South America (Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, etc), the Middle East (Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, etc), India, Thailand, China, Japan, etc etc. To be fair, this is MY restriction; and also, the world? Big place.

Third constraint: money (of course). I’ve been researching in a dreamy, haphazard sort of way the last few days, and have come up with lots of places that would be wonderful: Bhutan! Vanuatu! Outer space! (I’ve been informed that they’re not actually sending people to the moon — just into outer space.) But they’re rather expensive to get to and/or be in. All part of the balancing act; I have some money to go somewhere fabulous, but I’d also like to, you know, retire one day (and I have that small, not-inexpensive horse habit). And once you’ve spent a ridiculous amount of money and time getting somewhere awesome, what’s the point if you can only stay for a week or so?

And then it’s trying to figure out the time of year, because, confession: I want to be somewhere right now. I hate February here. Okay, so today it’s all Look at me, I’m a bright fluffy beautiful snow globe! But mostly there’s the wrath of EIGHTY-SEVEN BELOW and YOUR CAR GOES SIDEWAYS NOW! and riding outside is some far, impossible dream, and no one can remember what green looks like anymore.

So what I really want, right this second, is to be somewhere hot. I want SUN and I want to be baked alive. But I also don’t want to wait a whole year to go, so I have to temper that with knowing I won’t still feel this way next fall. Mostly, I want somewhere that’s going to take my breath away.

(And alas, I’ve gotten utterly distracted by work for hours and hours now. So I’m going to just post this, abruptly and as-is, or I know I never will.)

September 12th, 2008

» good things

I am, sadly, back from Maui, and hoping to get some time this weekend to gather pictures and videos to share, so we can all mourn together that we aren’t ankle-deep in white sand, snorkeling with fishies and turtles, or cavorting after guava in the rainforest. I’m a bit of a maverick vacationer and without just these right circumstances (an unbelievable deal on the condo, thanks to Bryce; my mom’s life-long dream) I probably never would’ve made it to Hawaii, and I would have totally missed out. It was another dream trip, another once-in-a-lifetime, and I feel so blessed to have shared this time with my family (among whose number we all count you, Bryce, in case you haven’t realized).

While I was away, autumn evicted the last traces of summer here in Minnesota. It’s been a tough week to return to, all chilly and grey, early dark, and I’ve found myself feeling a little surly about a season I usually love. But last night I was seized by this sudden need to cook, to make something hearty, something spicy, and I pulled out a bag of dried beans and my favorite Indian cookbook. A little while later I stood over the sink plucking steamy kidney beans out of the colander, fresh from the pressure cooker, and I resolved once again to ban canned beans from my cupboard. If you’ve never made your own beans, you’re missing out! They are a different creature entirely, so creamy and delicious, so themselves; you don’t know it now but canned beans have this edge of can-taste, this cloying sweet chemically hint, and after having fresh(-from-dried) beans you will always be a little sad about the taste of canned. (Of course I’ve made this resolution a dozen times at least and I always end up using canned sometimes because, I know, it’s just so easy! Especially in dishes where they’re not the main component, or where they’re masked by delicious chili-taste. But if you like beans in your salads, and you should because mmm, take the extra time to treat yourself.)

Er — so I ended up making this curried kidney bean dish, with lots of spice (dried red pepper, cumin, coriander, etc) and ginger and tomato, and it was completely delicious, which is good because I have more, a lot more, in my fridge, along with the rice I made to go alongside it. I almost never make rice at home (I’m usually too lazy for rice) and dude, rice fresh out of the pan? So. Good. I kept snacking on bits of the cooling leftovers.

Anyway! When I started this post it was not to tease you about my vacation, or ramble on about dinner, but rather to share this funny and spot-on bit from an article about Johnny Depp’s newest film (it’s animated, to put it in context, though feel free to imagine it aaany way you like):

The movie will realize the dreams of thousands (nay, millions) of women worldwide as it casts Depp in the role of household pet. He’ll go on an adventure to discover his true self — which, I think, involves discovering he is Johnny Depp, commander of women.

July 18th, 2008

» weekend deliciousness

A brief not-so-brief & awesome summary of my awesome weekend:

Get up unconscionably early on Saturday for an airport pick-up. Leave home a little earlier than usual, as the last three or four times the flight was early; halfway down the hall from my apartment think to go back for a book, since I’m surely jinxing things leaving at such an hour. Arrive and park by the curb’s absolutely-no-parking,-unloading-only! sign and read a bit. Read a bit more. Read a while longer. Finally get out the cell and spend a while puzzling over Sun Country’s website. Finally find the bit where it says the flight’s an hour late. Triumph over having brought the book at least; read some more.

Breakfast at Al’s, where the surly waitress is working the front grill again. When our supposed-to-be dry wally blues are up she sets the plate in front of us, steamy blue-y cakes with a big globe of melting butter on top; after double-checking our order slip she grabs a napkin and plucks the butter off. During my last two bites I realize there are sadly no walnuts in these wally blues. Still, I forgive Al’s this, as the previous eggshell incident, and the pancakes-tasting-like-bacon incident. I love Al’s.

Back at my apartment we pause for ginger carrot cake, then head out to Buffalo to watch the girls from my barn show. Friday they made a great hue and cry about the idea of us not coming, so here we are. The show is moving unbelievably fast, and we are there only long enough to share out half the remaining cake and watch three classes. We make the trek eastward once more.

After a stop for lunch (hummus wrap! cool-oretto!) we spend a delirious time in Target loading the cart with clearanced toys, then head to the rodeo, where we meet up with my parents, Alex, and Peyton. The rodeo is wonderful: bronc and bull riding, calf roping, barrel racing. Alex loves it and at intermission and after the show is over he spends an alternately serious and ecstatic while sitting in each of the five tractors on display, twisting the steering wheels and jiggling all the levers. We try to interest him in the wee adorable cowboy hats; he wants to try on a few of the pink ones but mostly wants to go back to the tractors for lever-jiggling.

We retire to my apartment to unpackage our toy-loot, then head to my parents’ for dinner and baby-holding. Afterwards we return home and play an endless game of Pirateology. We head to bed at a not-unconscionable hour and then stay up discussing improvements for the game’s rules.

* * *

I’ve been writing this since this past Monday (July 14). It’s waving it’s little ‘Send Help!’ flag — if I don’t post it now, I never will. So, actually brief this time: Sunday was equally awesome, and involved a trip to the Wienery (LOVED it) for veg hot dogs and fresh-cut fries and a root beer float, then a stop by Fast and Furless to get vegan marshmallows (they exist in Minneapolis!) and a vegan s’more-thing (Bryce contends that because it had chocolate around the outside instead of on the inside it doesn’t count as a s’more, so we didn’t actually eat three). Then over to the Walker for their outdoor exhibits: art mini golf and Design for the Other 90%; both received thumbs up from us. Back home we tested and approved our new Pirateology rules (so much better than the rules-as-written), and also set my smoke detector off roasting marshmallows over my stove. So worth it. And we only set it off a little, and quickly devised a fan scheme that’s been worked beautifully since then. Then failed to install 11th Hour on my computer and installed Omikron instead. I have no idea why I never made it past the first ten minutes the last three times I tried to play it, because it was really fun. Then again, maybe it’s all in the company.

May 19th, 2008

»

Had a great, great weekend. Friday was gorgeous — a bit of wind but the sun was out and feeling positively May-ish for a change. I spent a while trying to cajole some of my barn buddies to go on a trail ride, and finally decided that I’d just ride over to the park on my own (it’s just over two miles up the road). It’s been a little frustrating lately not having a trailer, and on Friday I decided I wasn’t going to let that be an excuse any more; I’m going to do what I can to get out, even if it means going on my own or begging rides from other sources. S– relented enough to offer up a ride for me and one of the girls (without me even asking), though, so we saddled up and off we went. It was a lovely ride; it’s a pretty big park, and during the hour we spent riding we saw only two other people. Ev was getting pretty sluggish in his walk toward the end of the ride, though his trot still felt spritely enough. We could definitely benefit from some conditioning work. (Perhaps too he was tired from our Thursday gallop; we got the official trainer sanction for it, and had a blast out there.)

Saturday S– and I went out to Otter Creek to watch the cross country jumping. They got a mysteriously late start (they were supposed to begin at 9, and actually started a bit after we got there at 10:30), but it was a lovely course to watch — easy to see a lot of the jumps. The Intermediate and CCI*/** courses were crazy — particularly the sunken road. I tried to find a picture and/or specs online, but alas. I’m quite bad at judging heights, but it was a substantial skinny wall to a down bank onto the road, one stride, an up bank, then another skinny wall. That last wall was killer — lots of run-outs there. I saw one rider thrown forward as her horse ducked around the last wall. She ended up in front of the saddle, and in the few strides afterwards she popped back in and gathered him up, turning to take the corner option, which she did with one stirrup. I keep replaying the whole thing in my head. Her lower leg (the stirrupless one) was *so* solid, just perfect, and damn I’d love a seat like that. I used to be not too shabby in that department (at a much lower level of course), but I’m sure that’s all gone out the window. My trainer used to comment how my sister and I must have glue on our saddles.

Saturday evening we went dancing. I consider myself a fairly sensible drinker; normally I have just enough to maintain pleasant drunkenness, and stop in time to end the evening with lots of water. But dude, apparently they make ‘em strong downtown, because I had two and a half and in the morning S– told me about all kinds of things I have absolutely no recollection of. (They were Long Islands and I know, I know, but I’ve had that many before and never been so drunk.) Anyway, complete blast.

Sunday, believe it or not, I made it to Lowe’s to pick up a hanging planter for the little heirloom tomato plant that’s been patiently waiting on my deck for the past week. I got some marigolds too, so now I have a setup just like Anjali’s — though after walking back and forth between the started marigolds and the marigold seeds three times (I can only imagine how all this wandering looked) I ended up buying what was probably way too many marigolds, thinking I wanted the entire basket full of them immediately and darn it I could spend a few extra dollars for it. I’m a little concerned that they’re going to take over the whole pot and stunt my tomato. Thoughts from any experienced parties?

May 7th, 2008

» more spring fever

Spring, dragging its heels all through April, kicking up snow, has finally arrived. It’s been a week of skirts and rainstorms and fresh fruit, and I’ve been loving every minute.

Bryce came for the weekend and brought me a box of the season’s first cherries. I love cherries even more than bananas, more than oatmeal, and I have been in raptures over these, have sat on the floor in the middle of my dim living room eating them by the bowlful and watching the latening twilight. They should soon be available here too, and I can’t wait.

On Saturday we did a little grocery shopping, and in the produce department were lured by a strange, fascinating melon, little bigger than my fist, bright orange and spikey, from New Zealand: the kiwano. (Not to be confused with kiwanis; this fruit didn’t strike me as particularly civic-minded.) I had a bit of a tickle in the back of my mind, like I’d read about it somewhere, but then couldn’t remember if it was this spiky melon or the starfruit, which I’d also never had, and further couldn’t remember if I’d read about it being delicious or disgusting. I’m glad I didn’t recall reading about Susan’s experience, though, because if I had I don’t think we would’ve spent the $2.99 on it, and after hours of entertainment we agreed it was well worth it, if only just the once.

Cutting into it, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I imagined it would be a little like a cantaloupe: the rind encasing a layer of fruit, with a center of seeds to be scooped out. What we found instead was a bright green mass of little gelatinous pockets, each containing a pale seed. I considered it for a moment, and then we turned to the internet (via Bryce’s Treo, since I don’t have the internet at home — and I know, I know, how do I survive? who tells me how to eat my fruit?). WikiHow to the rescue: you give the fruit a bit of a squeeze, pluck out one of the little fruit-globes (more appetizing than ‘sac’, I think), trap it behind your lips but in front of your teeth, then suck it in through your teeth, getting the fruit but leaving the seed. Spit out the seed and repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Squeezing a kiwano is hilarious: it looks like an alien lifeform, all pulsing breathing little fruit-pods bulging and retreating. It will provide you as much entertainment as you want, because the thing takes forever to eat. Hours, literally. My jaw ached when I finally gave up on finishing my half. The taste? It reminded me faintly of a kiwi. If you like kiwi and are looking for that taste, don’t buy this fruit: buy a kiwi. This fruit is like a whisper of a kiwi, like a kiwi after a long intergalactic game of telephone tag; like a kiwi might be in a thousand years, just pre-apocalypse, when all sweet bright tart strong has gone from the world. It’s not bad — it’s just not particularly good. Fun, yes. Tasty, not so much. (We read some other reviews calling it bitter, which we didn’t find at all. It’s a little sweet, and it’s good at first, the okay taste bolstered by the novelty of eating it. That novelty, though, wears off after the first forty-five minutes.) I played with the flexible rind and the seed-goo for a good ten or fifteen minutes after I’d declared myself done eating. If you do get a kiwano, make sure you stay for that encore; we all have at least a bit of seven-year-old inside, so indulge.

Incidentally, any New Zealanders (or anyone, for that matter) have any insight on this fruit? Does anyone really eat these things?

Monday was gorgeous, and I stayed out at the stable for hours. After riding I tortured Ev with a very long bath, scrubbing all the little mud-dreds out of his feathers and picking the tangles from his tail. He was gorgeous when I left, silky-smooth and shining and smelling faintly of mint and rosemary (I’m using up the last of a bottle of my own shampoo on him). Tuesday afternoon it rained and rained, and when I got to the barn he was wet and gritty with mud. So much for the spa treatment.

When I got back to my apartment building I took a detour down the first floor hallway to fetch the mail, and along the way passed three young women sitting with a weensy newborn. (There seems to be a lot of loitering at my new apartment. In the afternoons there are always kids meandering around the parking lot or sitting in the stairwells or triking the sidewalks, off in their weird kid worlds. Yesterday I overheard one calling another her “homeskillet bighead biscuit.” I’ve never heard of such a thing before, and couldn’t quite figure out if it was name-calling or a term of endearment.) Anyhow, as I was just about to round the corner away from the little cluster, one of them looked up and said, “Oh! Do you race horses?!” And, I will admit, I love these little moments, these rare times when someone at the gas station or supermarket recognizes the boots, half-chaps, breeches, and strikes up a conversation. I do my patter about eventing, about Everett; and last night, yes, I pulled out the old cell phone and flipped it open to show off Himself. And explain that no, I don’t race him.

A few weeks ago S. and I, lamenting the weather, talked about moving somewhere warmer. Not seriously, but the thought crosses my mind from time to time. And today, Anjali posted about her scooter. Oh how I wish we had the weather to justify a scooter. Alas, summer isn’t even here yet and it already feels like it’s slipping out the door.