Reading my mind

John and I bought olive oil when we went to the store the other night, and I expressed regret that we can’t just buy Wegmans extra virgin olive oil like we used to.  We’ve been not so lucky at picking out other relatively inexpensive olive oils over the last few years.  (There are a lot of really boring olive oils out there, and some of the more exciting ones aren’t great for general use.  I feel like Goldilocks.)  We have a Wegmans within reach, if you consider an hour and 15 minutes one-way to be within reach.  I don’t.  I actually considered asking Emily to buy us some so John could bring it back this weekend when he drives up with our stuff from the storage unit.  We picked something since we’ll need it this week, I don’t remember which brand, and shortly after we got home, John said, “I think we owe my mom a really big thank you.”  Of course we do, for any number of things, so I asked for a few more details in my own articulate fashion. “Huh?”

She gave us a housewarming basket with a bunch of traditional housewarming gifts, all with their own meanings, and one of the items is olive oil (“May you be blessed with health and well-being”).  WEGMANS OLIVE OIL.

THANK YOU, PAT!

All is well with the world.

#Blessed

#snortgiggle

At least I didn’t burn the house down

I have run out of patience for my coworkers in the past, so I’m hesitant to call this a pregnancy symptom, but I’m pretty much calling EVERYthing a pregnancy symptom nowadays, so maybe…?

Anyway, just about everyone at work sucks today. Nearly every person I spoke to asked stupid questions or had us rehash decisions that had been made weeks ago or couldn’t follow basic instructions or figure out logical next steps on their own.  I spent much of the day really really really annoyed.

Then work ended and I mostly got over it.  But then I did another thing that I’m pretty sure I can blame entirely on pregnancy brain.  I made dinner tonight, and John came downstairs, went into the kitchen.  The ravioli was draining in the sink, the salad was in a bowl…”Did you make sauce?”

Uhhhh…you mean the sauce that’s still in the jar in the cabinet?  Because by “make”, we mean “heat up”.  Let’s not kid ourselves about how I cook.  “How about we do the olive oil and parmesan thing instead?”  So not a disaster by any definition, but certainly a slip of the brain.

Eating is hard

This whole I-need-to-eat-every-two-hours-or-else-I-get-faint-and-cranky thing is getting OLD.  And it doesn’t seem to matter how much or how little I eat for dinner or how early or late I eat dinner, I always go to bed feeling bloated and gross.  During the day, I feel okay except that I haven’t mastered snacking (so, not bloated and gross, but hungry/faint/generally ugh).  Hold on – announcement:

I AM NOT LOOKING FOR SNACKING ADVICE.

Thank you.  I have the internet, I have my What to Expect book, I have info from the doctor.  I’m just bad at it right now.  But I’m trying.  Today, I went to the store at lunchtime and stocked up.  I have fruit (strawberries, raspberries, bananas, although the bananas aren’t even close to ripe yet), yogurt, granola, two kinds of granola bars, and applesauce.  I already had plenty of bread and crackers and peanut butter, and I’m not in the mood for carrots or celery or whatever, so I didn’t get those today.  I think what I’m missing are nuts, like almonds or something.  Ooooh, wait.   I have creme brulee almonds.  Does the creme brulee flavoring undo the nutritional value of the almonds?  I’m going with no.

Let’s review today:

Breakfast: Toast with peanut butter (usually I slice banana on top, but I was out)

Late morning snack: hard-boiled egg

Just prior to and after my lunchtime workout (and while grocery shopping): granola bar

Lunch: Yogurt (fruit-on-the-bottom) and granola

Snack: Applesauce

Right now: Hungry and cranky and mildly headache-y because my applesauce was gone over two hours ago and I was stuck on a client meeting and applesauce isn’t a very filling snack to begin with and I NEED TO EAT RIGHT NOW.

Weekending right

I am the valedictorian of weekend breakfasts.  Lately, anyway.  Last weekend, I had this OHMYGODSOGOOD deep dish cinnamon french toast with fresh fruit and whipped cream at a restaurant in East Greenwich (we were checking out the town).  It was basically a piece of bread pudding with fruit and whipped cream.  SO.  GOOD.  That was Saturday.  Sunday, we had breakfast at home, so we made french toast ourselves with big slabs of bread and strawberries and raspberries and whipped cream.  It wasn’t the same as the day before, but it was nearly as good.

This weekend, breakfast both days was cereal, but we got the good cereal.  A box of Lucky Charms, a box of Golden Grahams, and a box of Cocoa Puffs, plus a gallon of milk, and we were set.  And happy.  And somehow, even after two days of cereal in front of the TV, we still have cereal left in all three boxes.  Maybe we’ll have cereal for dinner, too.

It’s Pi(e) Day!

I had strawberry rhubarb pie for the second time in my life a few weeks ago (it was DELICIOUS), and I bought more to celebrate today’s most circular of days and it is finally time for me to tell the story of the first time I ever tried strawberry rhubarb pie, which was only 10 months ago.

The story starts with crab legs.  (The best stories about pie start with crab legs.)  Last May, when John and I went to Seattle to see U2, one of the few things I REALLY wanted before we left town again was crab legs.  I had the second best crab legs of my life the first time I went to Seattle (early 2003), and I wanted those again.  (The first best crab legs of my life were in Alaska, also early 2003.)

The Sunday morning we were there, the morning of the concert, also, coincidentally, Mother’s Day, we were driving around and exploring, and I was googling seafood restaurants to track down crab legs.  We found a place to have lunch with a lake view, lots of seafood, and Alaskan King crab legs on the menu online.  Done.  So we got there, we got seated, it was lovely, and I noticed there weren’t any crab legs on the menu.

Well, crap.  The waiter came by, and I so-very-nicely explained my predicament.  I really didn’t want to be a bother, but if they HAVE crab legs, would it be possible for me to order them?  The waiter was really nice and said he’d find out.  I was totally prepared to order something else if they didn’t have crab legs, and I’m pretty sure I said that to him.  I promise was being nice.  I would never be the evil diner.

Anyway, he came back after a while and said they DO have crab legs, but they’re frozen – is that okay?  Sure!  That’ll be fine!  So off he goes.  And then we waited.  We were fine – we had an appetizer – but the waiter seemed nervous.  No, really, we’re fine!  Then we waited some more.  The waiter came back, all apologetic, because the kitchen had prepared the Dungeness crab for me (whole crab) instead.  But they could still do the crab legs if I didn’t mind waiting a little longer!  Yes, please, I’m happy to wait.

So we waited.  And then the manager came by, clearly worried that we were getting annoyed.  We SO weren’t, but she wanted to give us a free desert anyway, and who were we to turn that down?  And THAT’s when we decided to try the strawberry rhubarb crumble or cobbler or pie or whatever it was.  AND HOLY CRAP IT WAS AMAZING.

(My crab legs were also delicious and HUGE and exactly what I wanted and yay for that restaurant in Seattle and of COURSE we expressed our appreciation because we are good customers.)

So then a couple of weeks ago…oh, right –  it was my birthday weekend.  I wanted pie, and we couldn’t decide what kind of pie, so we bought a strawberry rhubarb pie and an apple pie.  Both were SO GOOD – our local grocery store bakery makes DAMN GOOD PIE.

Of course, two pies at once for two people was a little excessive, so for Pi(e) Day, we limited ourselves to ONE pie, the strawberry rhubarb pie, and we are looking forward to eating it with delicious vanilla ice cream melting all over it.

There will be pie tonight!

An apology is warranted

I am not a pizza snob.  I love pizza of all kinds, from all places.  I don’t love all toppings, but that’s my own personal taste – I don’t care what you put on your pizza.

So we went out to a pizza place last night, and for the first time, I’m questioning whether what we had was really pizza.  I mean, it came out on pizza dough.  It was round (not a requirement, but a helpful visual indicator).  It was flat.  It had crust.  But instead of sauce and cheese, it had mashed potatoes, bacon, and scallions.  That’s it.  It was good, to be sure, but was it pizza?

I’m on the fence.  It certainly didn’t scratch my pizza itch (we’re ordering more traditional pizza tonight), but who am I to say it can’t be called pizza?

Mashed potato pizza, I’m sorry I questioned your bona fides.  I apologize for repeatedly telling John today that you weren’t pizza.  I didn’t mean it.  It was only so I could justify having pizza again for dinner tonight.

I am ashamed.

I’m so hungry I could eat a whole elephant

I think my blood sugar is low.  My head hurts, I’m cranky, and I can’t settle on any one thing to do while I’m waiting for John to finish working so we can eat.

I ate a couple of crackers.  We’ll see how that goes.

Starting at the cursor isn’t going to feed me.  I picked up my book a couple of minutes ago, but it’s a dinner scene and they’ve having Chinese food (well, they’re Chinese), and oh my god I want Chinese food but we’re not having Chinese food tonight, we’re having tomato and mozzarella sandwiches and have I told you about our basil plant?

We bought one of those basil plants you can sometimes get at the grocery store, and we kept it on the window sill in the kitchen.  Turns out that window gets zero sunlight, and the plant began to die.  We finally moved it to the front room, lots of light, and stuck chopsticks in the pot so it could stand upright again (it was practically horizontal), and now it appears to be doing better.  But now, John is invested in this basil plant, and he won’t let me pluck leaves from it to cook with.  He wants to get a second basil plant that we can eat.  Well, neither of the nearby grocery stores carry them, so I’m out of luck, I guess.

As far as I know, he hasn’t named it.

Hey, he’s here and we’re going to eat tomato and mozzarella sandwiches without basil!

Who’s going to hire me a personal chef?

It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that I’m not a huge fan of cooking.  Today’s experiment with beef stroganoff, while ultimately successful, didn’t change that.  We started it around 9am, and the smell drifting through the house started out overwhelmingly of garlic and onion.  Around midmorning, the smell had shifted to thyme, and only thyme, and I discovered after the too-much-thyme incident with the chicken and dumplings last week that I’m not a huge fan of thyme.  By midafternoon, the house smelled like hot dogs.  I have NO idea why.  Thankfully, by dinnertime, the smell had drifted back towards something more like stroganoff.

Sure, cooking is science and that was all just chemistry and blah blah blah cooking.  Too bad I like to eat.

Friday night brain

I shoveled the walk last night (before the temperature dropped and it all froze).  Today, my back and shoulders ache.  Coincidence?  Probably.

This week at work wasn’t too bad, but I just shut everything down for the weekend, did the things I was supposed to do to the food in the slow cooker so it can get our dinner ready (because I COOKED today, if you call throwing things in a slow cooker cooking and I MOST CERTAINLY DO – I had to thaw and chop and measure and stir and scrape off the excess thyme and add broth and lament that I couldn’t add more broccoli and mushrooms because the thing was full – THAT is COOKING), and then I poured myself a glass of wine that feels much deserved.

It’s only been five days since I had, hm, well, New Year’s Eve amounts of alcohol (and maybe I had mimosas on New Year’s Day? Probably I had mimosas on New Year’s Day), but these four days of work, of going back to work after real time off, except wait a minute.  I worked partial days the Thursday and Friday because I am RESPONSIBLE for things that have deadlines, so I really only took two vacation days, which means I LOST two vacation days because they wouldn’t carry over to the new year, and you know?  That is lost income, and that is not cool.

Resolution: strive to be less responsible.  Or take more vacation days so I’m not in danger of losing them at the end of the year.  Or both.

My refined palate makes life SO difficult. Harrumph harrumph harrumph.

We haven’t had great luck with restaurants these past few days.  We did go out for Italian for John’s birthday (yay us for going out!), but the food at the restaurant we picked (which was supposed to be a good one) was just okay.  Then for lunch the next day, well, we had brunch the next day, but even the bottomless mimosas couldn’t make up for dry fried chicken with boring gravy over biscuits (the biscuits were fine).

But yesterday, we were downtown in the evening to check out some synthesizer stuff for John, and we had dinner at this Korean place I’ve had my eye on.  THIS place is good.  No cooking at the table, but hey, that’s less work for us.  I had bibimbap and John had bulgogi, and everything was really good.

I am relieved.  A string of disappointing restaurants is almost as bad as a string of disappointing books.  But really, it’s a sign that I should go to the grocery store.  If I’m going to be disappointed by a meal, it might as well be one I cooked myself.

Donuts and milkshakes and (maybe) Italian food, oh my!

It is John’s birthday!  For Birthday Breakfast, I brought home Dunkin Donuts AND Starbucks because I am a devoted wife, and also because I can easily pass by both places on my way home from running, but definitely more because I am a devoted wife.

Dunkin Donuts has renamed all of their donuts for Halloween, and I am totally here for that.  I got the Wicked Chocolate for John and the Boston Scream for me.  I was tempted by the Ghoulish Glazed, but I saved my extra sweet calories for my ridiculous Starbucks coffee.  John also went ridiculous for coffee today – I got him a white chocolate frappucino, which was made even more of a milkshake than usual because I think they forgot to put any coffee in it.  Milkshakes and donuts for Birthday Breakfast!

Birthday lunch was brilliant blissful buttery birthday banana bread, although that was a near no-show last night.  I got all the ingredients out, realized I didn’t have brown sugar, threw a tantrum inside my head because I REALLY didn’t want to go to the store for the 39th time this week, and figured out that we barely had enough normal sugar to make it work as long as we didn’t need it for tea or coffee today AND (pause while I breathe) I knew we wouldn’t need it because I had the Birthday Breakfast plans all figured out.

Dinner tonight is still TBD, since John is still working, but we’re thinking some Italian place in Federal Hill.  Or, if he works too much later, we’ll abandon the silly idea of going outside (which, let’s face it, is crazy talk), order in something delicious and stupid, and try again tomorrow night.  WE’LL SEE.

Pesky pedestrian pickles

The most recent two pictures on my phone right now are of pickle jars.  I accidentally bought sweet bread and butter pickles the other day, but I didn’t realize it until I took a bite of one at lunch today.  I don’t hate them, but I MUCH prefer dill pickles, and when you’re expecting to taste dill and you get whatever that sweet taste is instead?  SUPER disappointing.  (My Twitter world agrees.)  So I went back to the store today, the third day in a row, but not for that.  Well, not only for that.  Friday is John’s birthday, so I needed wrapping paper, a card, and, most importantly, a Carvel ice cream cake.  He LOVES Carvel ice cream cakes, so I’m off the hook for baking every year.

I also bought bread and pickles.  Dill pickles.  Aaaannd that’s my new secret agent name.

Speaking of baking, I have two overripe bananas, so during one of my 16 trips to the store this week, I picked up flour and baking soda, and now I need to make banana bread.  Maybe I can convince John it’s birthday banana bread.  Buttery birthday banana bread.  Blissful buttery birthday banana bread.  Brilliant blissful buttery birthday banana bread.

Food that isn’t real food

John thinks I should write about how I tried Drake’s Devil Dogs today and how they transformed my life, but that wouldn’t be true, and I would never lie to you.  I did try one today, but it did not transform my life.  It tasted like every other chocolate and cream Hostess food I’ve ever had, and (don’t hate me) I gotta say those aren’t my favorite completely synthetic treats.  Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies are the winner for me (which is kind of odd, since I refuse to eat oatmeal cookies).  Runner up: Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls.  Apparently, I prefer Little Debbie to Hostess.  Good to know.

 

Too sweet? Too dry? I can’t tell.

When we visited Seattle in May, we stopped in this sort-of-ice-cream-parlor for dessert one night because John had an ice cream craving.  He got a sundae, probably with peanut butter in it, and I got prosecco in one of those old-fashioned wide-mouth champagne glasses with a scoop of blueberry sorbet in it.  It was delicious.

Since it’s the perfect summer treat, I tried it at home tonight.  Burgers for dinner, sorbet and prosecco for dessert.

It didn’t turn out so well.  I mean, it was okay…sort of.  The sorbet (I got raspberry) was good with the prosecco, but the prosecco was not good with the sorbet.  I’m not sure what went wrong, and I’m not sure I want to find out enough to try it again.

It was a nice idea, though.

I love summer

You want to know what I’m doing right now?  Right this very second?  Well, I’m typing on my laptop (obvs), sitting in a chair in my backyard, with corn on the grill (John says it’s a barbecue because it’s charcoal not gas, but I don’t think that distinction has anything to do with reality), soon to be joined by steak (the corn, not me – the steak will not be joining me until I eat it, and then we two will become one), listening to John strum his banjo.  The only thing that would make this better, right this very second, is if I were drinking wine instead of water, but I’m doing the smart thing and avoiding those empty calories tonight because I did not avoid the empty calories of buttered banana bread at lunchtime.  Gotta make choices, and I choose banana bread and corn and steak.  The wine will still be there next week.  Or when the banana bread is gone, whichever comes first.  Willpower!

Because pie

John and I are slowly eating our way through the largest lemon cream pie I have ever seen, thanks to Amber and Brian who left it with us after the four of us were unable to make much of a dent in it Friday night.  The two of us, classy couple that we are, have been eating it straight out of the pie plate for dessert every night since then, and I think we finally crossed halfway last night (night 3).  This thing is a monster.  A 10-inch, 3-inch deep, creamy, lemony, delicious monster.

I’ll miss it when it’s gone.

My unsolicited ad for Johnson Berry Farm

The first time I ever went to Seattle was in February 2003, on a 3-day liberty call when my ship was on its way to Alaska.  It was cold, but crystal clear – no rain.  I don’t remember all of the details of that trip (I mean, it was 14 years ago), but I remember going to Pike Place Market and the Space Needle, I remember the crab legs (more on those another day), and I remember Johnson Berry Farm.  They’ve got a table in the market, selling jam and preserves, and they hand out free samples.  I don’t remember exactly what I tried that day, but they had these pepper jellies that were SO GOOD.  So good that when I found out a coworker was going to Seattle for work in 2010, I asked her to find them and bring some back to me.  Of course, I couldn’t remember the name of the farm, but I figured she could find them.  She DID find them, and she didn’t bring me anything, but the name got me to their website and I ordered some.  That was 7 years ago.

This past Saturday morning, John and I wandered the entire multi-story market, sticking our heads in just about every store (and buying books in 3 out of 4 bookstores – I’m almost all set for book club the rest of the summer), and then I stopped dead in front of the Johnson Berry Farm table.  All that build-up and I had COMPLETELY forgotten about them.  At no time while planning this trip or walking through the market did I think to myself, “Hey, remember those pepper jellies you really liked?  They’re here and you should get some.”  Nope.  Didn’t even cross my mind.  I was so surprised and SO HAPPY.  And I gotta tell you – they’re still really really good.  We bought three: two types of blackberry and (this is my favorite one EVER) raspberry habanero jam.  They have all kinds and they have LOTS of spicy ones.  Go!  Order!  Enjoy!

Johnson Berry Farm

Cream cheese is the BEST

I went to a potluck Sunday afternoon, but up until Saturday, I was a complete loss as to what to bring.  I would normally aim for dessert, or cheese and crackers, or chips and salsa, but people had already claimed those (and LOTS of people were bringing dessert).  I wanted to bring real food and somehow still avoid any real cooking.  Guess what’s helpful when you find yourself in this kind of predicament?  GOOGLE.  Who knew?

So I googled “potluck ideas” and I landed on this Appetizer Tortilla Pinwheels thing.  Guys, these are SO GOOD.  Cream cheese, sour cream, cheese, green chiles, scallions, a little garlic, all wrapped in a tortilla and sliced into bite-size pieces – HEAVEN.  I left out the olives (because gross) and doubled the cheese (because duh), and I want to eat them all day, every day.

But aside from this delicious discovery, I don’t like potlucks.  Too much pressure.  Like, if you end up having to take your food back home, you failed.  Plus you end up tasting other people’s mystery dishes (because nothing is EVER labeled) and what if you got something awful you can’t finish and it turns out you’re sitting next to the person who made it?  Better choke it all down – you never know who you might offend.  And I live in Eugene, which means that fully a third of the dishes were vegan.  Non-dairy cheese is NOT CHEESE, PEOPLE.

Chunks don’t make anything better. Unless they’re chocolate.

Today did not start out well.  I had a 9am meeting (that’s 6am for me), which is never a good start, even if the meeting goes fine (like this one did).  John went out for coffee, but he brought me back the wrong drink.  I’m sure he ordered the right thing, but what came back was dark, bitter, and thick like mud.  Blech.  So I made tea, and I discovered that the milk was bad when it poured chunks into my mug.  After I managed not to throw up on the counter, I tried again with the new jug of milk – thank goodness I went to the store on Sunday.  My third attempt at caffeine was successful.

Then work was weird – a couple of projects aren’t going well, and it’s unsettling.  On top of that, my work computer decided to break Outlook, so the last hour of my day was spent IMing with IT while handling conference calls on my phone with no computer support.  Not fun.

The day got better.  My riding lesson was GREAT.  Smooth sailing.  I had control of Tigger, and everything just felt easier.  Then I walked in the door to the aroma of the brisket I had so thoughtfully put in the oven several hours before.  It’s a rainy, slightly chilly evening – perfect for brisket.  All weather is perfect for brisket.

I am a problem solver

I’m pretty sure I have complained about the breakfast place that is within easy walking distance from our house and is really good but has TERRIBLE coffee, but I can’t find the post.  I’ll complain about it now.  There’s a really good breakfast place within easy walking distance from our house, but it has TERRIBLE coffee.  It’s not about how they’re brewing it.  We really don’t like the beans or the roast or whatever it is about a specific kind of coffee that makes it taste a certain way.  (Their Bloody Mary is also bad.)

It’s a real bummer since it keeps us from going there all that often.  Today we decided to go anyway, and I have solved the terrible coffee problem!  They also serve chai lattes, and THOSE are DAMN good.  Yay for not screwing up a drink they’re buying premade from somewhere and heating up for me!