I guess we all knew I would spawn a fashion snob, right?

I really feel at a loss having no food pictures to work with, so here is a shot of my Lair of Bon Appétit Meals Past.

I am non-systematically attempting to clear out the fridge before we go up to Mansfield for the weekend by eating five bites of things at a time straight out of the container all day long. So, the same as a normal week except I don't cook dinner at the end of the day.

When I initially noticed that Anna's first project of the day was smearing strawberries all over her yellow pants, I assumed that it was no different than any other day of energetically smearing things on other things. But then I took in the look as a whole, and I started to wonder if maybe she was trying to capture the revival-of-the-90s'-revival-of-the-60s, Haight-Ashbury-goes-through-a-Play-Doh-factory aesthetic of the shirt by improvising a faux tie-dye effect on the bottoms. Could she be a fashion savant?

I swear we don't watch Project Runway until after she's asleep.

The more I thought about it, though, the more it seemed like rather than earnestly altering her look to create a cohesive style, she was probably just making some sort of comment about the outfit.

A sarcastic one.


It'll probably be soggy fried avocados for dinner tonight

A little late, but I finally wrapped up Bon Appétit week last night with Peanut Noodles with Gingered Tofu and Vegetables. Look how pretty!

Mmmm, vegetabley. What can I say, I am a sucker for spicy peanut sauce. Anyway, enjoy these pictures. Go ahead. So many ingredients, freshly prepared!

Because the opposite of Bon Appétit week is Holy Cow There Are a Lot of Leftovers in the House week. So that's where we are. The only provisions I'm going into this week with are half a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, one bunch of bananas, 2 lbs of strawberries and a package of beef jerky. Essentials.

This morning we went to Pease Park to check out the splash pad there. I thought for once I'd include one of the pictures where she actually seems so be enjoying an activity, just to mix things up a little bit. This isn't easy for me, because splash pads tend to produce a lot of very funny pictures.

Look. Look at Anna having fun. You fell asleep already, didn't you?

Okay, enough of that. The hat never stays on for long, but this time I got a picture with the shoe!

Man, today's Groupon is for this Boot Camp place. For some reason I'm leaving that page open even though I'm currently wasting my 30 days of unlimited Bikram Yoga. Somebody tell me no! Restaurant coupons only! Restaurant coupons only, dammit.


If they aren't terrified of their birthday cake, how will they remember it?

Yesterday we headed down to Wimberly to help celebrate cousin Levi's birthday. Many happy returns, big guy!

Only two, but he has the cupcake-mangling skills of a four year old.

Anna brought her usual infectious enthusiasm to the proceedings.

Especially when she got to take a turn on the swing!

For some reason, Tiffany chose a birthday cake theme that was adorable and not at all nightmare-inducing. Odd.

To each his own, right? Try not to judge.

There was also King Ranch Chicken casserole and beans.

It's a little blurry because I was trying to photograph and inhale it at the same time.

I think I'm going to print out this next picture and carry it around in my wallet so that if I ever start thinking I'm good at doing things I can be reminded that I'm wrong about that. It's a homemade pickle. Inside a homemade ceramic dish.

This is what being good at things looks like.

A lovely afternoon! Even Anna did manage some bits of fun here and there. I had Book Club last night, so we hustled back to Austin and I threw my potluck contribution together as quickly as I could. Unfortunately, I had decided to try fried avocados again, which is not a quickly-thrown-together dish. I managed to pull everything together just in time...to be almost half an hour late.


Okay, I also got really amazingly lost. Even though I've been to Lori's house before. And it's about half a mile from here. And there were eight cars in front of it. It was dark outside! (I am not good at things.)

Because I was kind of on a roll yesterday, by the time I thought to take pictures everyone was packing things up, so you'll have to take my word for it that it was all very impressive. These are serious potluckers, and I like it. I did grab a shot of Crystal's Chicken Diablos, because on a plate full of good food it was the thing that I ate around, saving for last.

Apparently they take three hours to put together! I know that in the past we've discussed whether things are or are not worth the effort they entail, and I'm here to tell you that Chicken Diablos are COMPLETELY worth someone else spending three hours on them.

OH, and, you guys. Whoa. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is NOT mostly about coffee and sandwiches. I repeat, NOT a food and caffeine centered story. If you read it based on that recommendation, I am just terribly sorry.


So I got out the scissors and glue stick and went to town

Hey, yeah, remember when I promised that the next time I really didn't feel like cooking dinner I wouldn't do it anyway and then be all mad at everything and complain a lot, even though I'm sure that makes for very interesting reading? Good, here's the hamburger I had for dinner Thursday night.

I did this for you.

I guess I'm going to blame the afternoon playdate I hosted, mostly because Anna went all Lesley Gore and cried the entire time and that was a little stressful. I only got one picture where she isn't throwing a fit.

I think she's trying to call a cab.

I was going to take an amusing picture of the playdate wreckage, but the other lovely mommies pretty much put everything away before they left, so that was out. Way to go, guys. Way to leave me with a tidy and unhilarious living room.

I understand that my skipping Day 4 of Bon Appétit week has probably thrown you for quite a loop, and I hope you're able to adjust your schedule accordingly without too much inconvenience. If it helps at all, when I realized that I was off the hook for dinner and had an unusually clean house and therefore a little free time, I immediately started feeling bad--I absolutely swear--that I don't know how to scrapbook. Incessant self-flagellation! It's an art.

Got back on track last night with some Chicken Mole over rice. Spicy and delicious! Sometimes (frequently?) delicious things look sort of like dog food in a picture, so you just have to trust me. Belated Day 4: success.


And on Day 3 of BA week, things were good

I decided it was only fair to revisit the couscous and vegetables for lunch today, and after some fridge-mellowing (for it) and two full nights of sleep (for me) I'm willing to upgrade the review to: good, but still not nearly worth the effort.

Entirely worth the effort, on the other hand? Provençal-style short ribs with crème fraîche sour cream mashed potatoes. Yes, I did just insert two different accents only to then strike through them, that's how much I care about the total experience of you, the reader. At any rate, nice save, Bon Appétit!

When I was first flipping through the cookbook I realized that it was not going to be possible to make it through a whole week without at least a small dinner party, as there were too many super tempting recipes that required an unjustifiable amount of meat/time for just the two and a quarter of us. So we rounded up a handful of suckers friends to join us last night. (You are so going to regret my picking up that particular bit of HTML, I'll tell you that right now.)

The pictures turned out a little weird and old-fashioned looking, but I guess that's pretty appropriate for this meal, so I'll go with it.

It's 1959 in this picture, and I'm okay with that.

Pretty tasty stuff, but it was a combination of ingredients that was bound to be good, so I don't even feel like I can take much credit for it. Erica's cooking tip of the day: put a crapload of butter and sour cream into some potatoes and they will taste fantastic! You're very welcome!

I will admit to a bit more finessing of the lemon curd ice cream with blackberry swirl and blackberry sauce, because I find custards a little tricky sometimes and I was pretty proud of how this one turned out.

I never get a decent dessert beauty shot, but you get the general idea. Overall a successful meal, I would say.

I tried to figure out a way to snark on how adorable and flirty Anna and Cash were being, but I'm sorry, sometimes things are just cute and there's nothing I can do about it.

"Hi, I got you this oversized novelty flower."

They spent some time playing an amazingly well coordinated game of only-one-smile-at-a-time.


"Okay, now you go. Good. Good."

"You're looking away, right? We are rocking this."

It occurs to me as I prepare for yet another small round of hosting that I am forever saying "Please excuse the state of the house" as though there are extenuating circumstances keeping it from its normal spotless condition when in fact I should just tape a sign to the door that says "Please still be my friend even though I am not a good housekeeper." If I ever learn to cross-stitch, that is going straight onto a pillow.


Don't cook angry

First, the best part of my not-generally-good day yesterday: lunch date with Emily and Cash. I made some Greek Salad Pizza, because apparently despite my protests I do actually love salad on a pizza, as the evidence suggests.

There's not a recipe. I was going to make Greek salad and then I saw some pizza dough and one thing led to another and bam: Greek salad in a highly difficult to eat form. And that's why you come to me for food tips, right? That is why you're coming here? Okay then.

I was so, so very close to having to report to you that Day 2 of Bon Appetit week involved ordering Chinese food, because I was sort of stupidly sleep deprived and achy and my head was pounding and I have never hated myself more than when I realized that all the meals I had planned this week were annoyingly complicated. But I pressed on anyway, because I guess I figured a bad day may as well be a terrible day? I'm not sure what my logic was there. Anyway, I'm afraid I'm going to take all this out on the poor innocent curried couscous with roasted vegetables, peach chutney, and cilantro yogurt. It is probably a lovely meal in some less self-tortured context, yet I cannot remember the last time I was so viscerally infuriated with food. Okay, I do remember.


First of all, there are like five separate recipes within this recipe. Food processor, oven, something that has to chill for at least an hour, and three different stovetop burners. That is awful if you're having a hard time standing up. Second, all the different components seemed incredibly promising, but together it was just a big mush, with only the unfortunate bitterness of the eggplant standing out. Or maybe that's inaccurate and I would have hated anything that took me almost two hours to put together yesterday. Or half an hour. Or any effort at all. Yes, I promise next time I will just order the Chinese food and spare you this.

But in good news, look! Proof, sort of!

That's, um, broccoli in her hands. Just a weird camera angle, I guess. Also, she's starting at the....radio? Which is playing classical music.

And now I'm wondering if Anna has gotten mixed up with PETA-TBB (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal-Themed Board Books) because she has started trying to liberate them.

Dan re-captures a book that Anna had released into the wild.


I may have buried the lede on this one

I'm embarking on another dinnertime theme week, but never fear, it's not designed to make myself miserable. Preposterously early morning hot yoga is currently filling that role. (What's that? Moderately healthy eating combined with a moderate exercise routine makes more sense than doing one extreme at a time? WHY DON'T YOU JUST SHUT UP, IMAGINARY INTERNET VOICE OF REAS(collapses in a sore, unconscious heap.))

So the food, yes. It's not a "theme" proper, and the driving factor in its formation was my realization that the Bon Appetit cookbook has about one ton of recipes and if I just picked a handful at once I wouldn't have to get up and grab another cookbook. Grocery list done! Bon Appetit theme enacted. Just move a shelf of cookbooks 12 feet away from me and watch the magic happen.

First up: Open Faced Crab Burgers with some grilled asparagus. I kicked off this particular theme by changing a pretty significant component of the recipe, substituting plain yogurt for mayonnaise. As one does. Just wanted to let you know that these crab burgers are not strictly canonical.

They were good though, and Dan was intrigued by the flavorful sauce, which consisted entirely of yogurt and mustard stirred together. So it's always a nice change of pace when something that took ten seconds to make tastes like a lot of effort.

Once in a while you spend, say, 13 and a half months working very, very hard on something hoping it'll turn out just right and then have a little bit of a breakdown because your project seems to be veering off course, missing targets such as "walking" and "eating bananas like every other baby in the history of humans" and this banana thing becomes sort of emblematic of what you assume are your failures as project manager and you think maybe you will stop eating them too because it's all just too frustrating to think about.

And then she's like, "What, this thing? Yeah, it's pretty good, whatever."

And then she COMPLETELY WALKS ACROSS THE KITCHEN, no big deal, because she senses that your camera is far away and who knows when she'll ever do it again, probably years from now.

"No one will ever believe you."

It's nice when mustard/yogurt sauce isn't like that, is what I'm saying.


Anna wrote everything from the 3rd paragraph on, is how basic this formula is

Ooooooh I am sleepy today you guys. I am so sleepy. The coffee I just had is serving only to keep my eyelids open, with no discernible effect on the absence of meaningful brainwaves behind them. I considered just posting the pictures from the weekend and letting you wildly speculate about what they could possibly mean (Did we have DINNER of some type? Did Anna do some things that were cute and/or humorous?? Was I somehow baffled by or hypocritical regarding parenthood???) but I don't want to leave you unguided, utterly adrift like that. Here, take my hand, and we will get through this together.

Part One: Dinner of some type. Cashew Chicken Curry with Cilantro Sauce. Either all the words in that description appeal to you, or they don't. It was really quick and simple for a curry, but still satisfying. I thought it was very tasty over rice noodles.

Part Two: Anna does something cute and/or humorous. At Kay the Official Homeowner's housewarming party I learned that she can, in fact, be diverted from cat-pursuit by a large enough orange ball.

Perhaps more usefully, I also learned that sometimes having a reasonably adorable child to play with other people's stuff means that they will then let you take that stuff home with you.

I'm going to see if I can get her to hang out closer to the liquor cabinet next time.

Part Three: More dinner of some type. Calabazas Horneadas. Took a lot longer to make than you would think summer-vegetable tacos would (guess that evens out the curry), but the flavor was really good and the cheese was really gooey. If you have any squash to use up, this is not a bad way to go.

Part Four: I am somehow baffled by or hypocritical regarding parenthood. Did I imagine, when reading intently through my multiple all natural organic homemade baby food cookbooks, that we would eventually be reduced to feeding her jarred food on a tortilla chip, which is apparently her new utensil of choice? Not really, no. But at this point I'm happy to let her eat all of her meals out of those giant fried tortilla bowls that taco salad comes in if that's what it takes.

Does this development prevent me from feeling smugly superior when the baby sign language dvd introduces the word "candy" as one of the first food words? No, I still have that. At least I still have that.

Sorry, honey, your dietary rules are arbitrary yet firm, until they aren't.

There now! We did it! And now you have a useful outline for the next time I think that 6 am yoga is a good idea and you're left to fill in the blogpost yourself.


When stubbornness turns theatrical

I've been thinking that maybe I could coax Anna into being a better eater if I put a little more effort into making things specifically for her. I have a couple of nice fancy baby food cookbooks, so yesterday I decided to try the cheese and vegetable omelet from The Petit Appetit Cookbook. It went about as well as you would expect.

Here are the 11 stages of Anna refusing to eat the omelet I cooked for her.

1. Investigation

"What's all this, then?"

2. Wariness

"Doesn't look like Cheerios or carpet fuzz. Not interested."

3. Jocularity

"What is the deal with omelets?"

4. Charm

"Let's forget this whole food thing and go grab a bottle."

5. Distraction

"Hey, look over there!"

6. Begging

"Mother, I beseech you."

7. Bargaining

"What's it gonna take to get the eggs off this table today?"

8. Expounding

"Here's the way I figure it..."

9. Trickery

"Behind what hand?"

10. Despair


11. Escape

"Hide me, giant monster fish pool!"

For the record, Dan and I both had the omelet for breakfast and it was very good. I guess if I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt, I can say that she somehow heard through the baby grapevine about the massive egg recall and was just being extra cautious.

I tried not to let it affect my self-esteem as a cook too much, pressing on with mahi mahi and mojo sauce and carrot souffle for dinner. The carrot souffle was delicious, you know why? Because SOUFFLES ARE FREAKING DELICIOUS.

Finally, Anna got a hold of the remote control and I absolutely swear this was on the screen 30 seconds later: