Next time I'll just bring a bowl of sugar and spoons

I had a book club meeting Saturday night, so I whipped up a "Revelatory" Caramel Cake. I dunno. It sort of seemed like a waste of the absurd amount of sugar it involved.

My only revelations were, "My candy thermometer is broken," and "Caramel cake is sort of dry and bland."
A much better use of sugar? The whole cup of hoisin sauce in these Pork Lettuce Wraps. They were fine indeed. Probably because the lettuce completely negates any deleterious effects of the sweet sauce.

Like if I had served the caramel cake on a bed of kale.
Last night I made this Poached Egg over Polenta with Olive-Herb Pesto. Usually I feel like I don't really "get" polenta, but I found that by scooping it up with what is basically a giant crouton, I started to make sense of things. Also, I had never tried putting a poached egg on top, which is clearly the first move I should have made. My bad!

I see where you're coming from now, polenta. We cool.
Anna didn't eat any of it, but she was much cheerier than usual in her refusal.

Maybe because she's reached some sort of zen state with her newest toy, an OCD-reinforcer abacus.

It's so orderly.
She's been exploring her maternal side as well, notably the field of discipline.

At least, that's what I assume is going on here.


Please direct all gifts c/o me

Oh hey, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BLOG! A whole entire year of...um, this. I have to say, I'm pretty impressed. At the outset of this thing I only gave you a few weeks, tops. Here, have a piece of coffee cake! You earned it.

Yes, I made "Blueberry Overload Coffee Cake" with no blueberries. Raspberry Overload is just as legit.
Speaking of birthdays, on Thursday I took advantage of my birthday present from the Loontjers, which was: A Perfect Day.

Step 1: Empty house.

It's so adorable when it's sleeping.
Step 2: Awesome destinations.

Occasionally throughout the past month I would just take these out of the card and look at them and smile.
Turns out Step 1 was really hard to abandon in favor of Step 2. Probably because I have actually fit a few tacos and bookstore trips into the past two years, but having the house to myself was pretty novel. And great. Eventually, though, I got hungry and remembered something important: tacos are also great.

Especially the Mojo Fish and Heather tacos from Tacodeli.
After lunch, I basically went nuts and bought everything at Barnes and Noble.

I blame the decaf.
Then, a healthy snack to get me through a matinee of Bridesmaids.

Made of fruit!
It was, obviously, an exceptionally good day. So good that I thought, "Maybe I should also abandon my child for an entire day tomorrow." And I did. It was ladies-in-law joint-birthday day, so I left Anna with Dan and headed to San Antonio for female activities.

I did leave him tons of these things for sustenance:

He ate other stuff instead.
I didn't take any pictures of Girl's Day Out, but it involved massages and queso and me sort of getting called out by a Chico's employee for making fun of one of their hats, so basically a success.

From what I understand, in the two days I was gone, Anna was both happily social and active.



It's about time we had some warm weather around here

Hey, it's the first day of summer! I know I speak for all Austinites when I say that we couldn't possibly be MORE READY for summertime, as we have been practicing our 100 degree days for over a month now. I think we're really going to ace this season, guys!

Obviously, I am celebrating the solstice with some hot soup. Specifically, Homesick Texan's Sopa de Lima. Between this and the Tex-Mex Chicken and Dumplings, I'm starting to think that lady really knows her way around a bowl of chicken soup. The next time you find yourself in possession of a whole chicken and a couple of hours, I suggest you consult Homesick Texan for further instructions.

Winter solstice menu: popsicles.
Anna greeted this fine new season by briefly, maniacally emerging from Her Box.



Ready to go on a "cleanse," where "cleanse" means "trying not to eat pizza for one calendar week"

Well, I hope everyone's Flag Day festivities went well--not too wild, right guys? It's pretty easy for those things to get out of control. Personally, I decided on an all-American meat and potatoes theme, making the extremely delicious Southwestern Pulled Brisket from Smitten Kitchen. Plus potatoes. Also, that was all a lie, I forgot it was Flag Day until the brisket had already been cooking for about 10 hours, but I'm not afraid to shoehorn things into a theme. Not afraid in the least.

You just have to trust me that there was a flag on the table. It was like a miniature Original Pancake House up in here.
Anna has been a little bit sick, and I'm still recovering from last weekend's bonding, so it's been pretty low-key around here for the most part. Yet I just couldn't shake the feeling that there was something...missing. Just a nagging sort of...yes. I know. I hadn't eaten enough pizza yet this week.

Pretty sure Baby Two is going to come out a little doughy.
I guess the problem wasn't lack of pizza per se. It was that the three previous nights of pizza had involved such appallingly traditional toppings, which is not something we generally abide around here. Ratatouille pizza set things right again. It also reminded me that it's ratatouille season. Mmmmmm tomato goo....

Last night was a triumph of refrigerator scraps: omelets with zucchini, red pepper, turkey, and goat cheese. Look how planned it looks. How intentional. Brilliant.

I love Scraps Night.
Anna seems to be taking Fashion Corner in a bold new direction, ditching "clothes" entirely in favor of a diaper and a cloth-bag-hat.

"It's the Summer of the Cloth-Bag-Hat," she insists.


Four days without Daddy

For those of you who don't know, Dan is only a mild-mannered engineer by day. By night and the occasional very long weekend, he is actually the mild-mannered bass player in a band. This past weekend happened to be one of those rare (yet very long) band escapades, so it was time for some good Mommy-daughter bonding around here!

Day One: We have to leave a playgroup early due to excessive fussiness. Anna decides she would rather claw her own face off than take a nap.

Bold choice. You sort of have to respect it.
Despite healthy and economical leftovers in the fridge, I order pizza for dinner.

Also extra dipping sauce, one tub for each bloody ravine across Anna's face.
Day Two: From sunrise to sunset, we line things up.

I have leftover pizza for dinner (see above).

Day Three: There is near-constant whining regarding every activity I attempt.

We eat yogurt. With gusto.

I have leftover pizza for dinner (see above).

Day Four: Defenses are down. The pizza is gone. The theme to Dinosaur Train pounds in my head. Anna attempts her first sincere parking lot dash and responds to capture with inhuman howling.

She also reorganizes The Container Store.

Dan has predicted that they will return around 8 tonight, which means they will probably be here by midnight. I predict that I will eat ice cream for dinner.


Grocery roulette

Thing I learned this week: you can pile chicken, leeks, and olives on top of spaghetti and somehow it transforms into a proper dinner. I'm starting to think I never actually need to follow any recipes, I can just rotate (random group of foods) + pasta, rice, sandwich bread, or pizza dough. Especially pizza dough. I can hear my cookbooks starting to grumble sadly about abandonment, though, and soon enough there will be stirrings of revolution and they'll recruit other seldom-used appliances (cookie press, waffle iron) and then my entire kitchen will be in upheaval. So I guess I won't go that route.

Also, what if this had been gross? It totally could have been gross.

Except for...here. This is basically a (+ sandwich bread) application. The combination is less random, though, I actually gave it 30 seconds of consideration. Bison burgers with onions, spinach, blue cheese, and sautéed squash on the side.

I will return to you soon, recipes. Please don't foment anything.

And now, Anna's Fashion Corner: Accessories Edition.

Because you're never fully dressed without a stern gaze, and also some pipe cleaners.


I also want to make fun of the movie, but I can't because I like it

I don't generally do much frying around here, unless it is suggested to me as a stunt, but over the weekend we had a little fish fry. This was due entirely to the fact that this week's Local Box included green tomatoes, and I have no idea what one does with green tomatoes other than fry them, so after almost zero minutes of research on the subject, that's what I decided to do.

I now see that my only other option was to make a relish. Lack of previous effort vindicated!
Since they never look like much, I wish that I could take a picture of what the red beans and rice smell like.
You'd all say, "Erica, that weird smelly picture you posted was so great."
Anna has been dedicating a lot of her time to her favorite hobby/compulsion of lining things up in a row.



Uh...massage train?
With all this OCD-ness I sometimes worry that she and I don't have very much in common, but then she double-fists a quesadilla and I know she's mine.

It makes my heart all warm and gooey! (My heart is made of cheese.)


Only humanely raised, grass-fed vegetables from now on just to be safe

I feel like this skirt steak with radishes in mustard sauce was pretty good when I ate it the other day, but I've read some Michael Pollan since then so now I'm sort of grossed out by this picture. People are just constantly trying to ruin food for me.

All I can see are the antibiotics. And the carrots in the background. They're really orange.
The piece I read didn't mention chickens, so I'm still cool with this Roasted Chicken Salad sandwich with baked potato chips. I know it seems like I've been making a lot of sandwiches for dinner lately, but I have a really good reason, and it is: laziness.

I've said it before, but CSA/Local Box items are super easy to use as long as they're potatoes.
I'd be tempted to say that Anna is just using Cash for his awesome hat...

But I really believe she enjoys having someone to share her active lifestyle with.