My brave struggle against TDTM continues

I know you guys have been waiting for this news, so I'm just going to pull off the Band-Aid and give it to you straight: my softball team did not win the Super Social League (real thing) championship. I mostly blame Jillian Michaels, for breaking my ankles and causing me to hobble and wince around the field rather than lazily jog as usual. To distract myself from this SUMMER HEARTBREAK, I first made my house smell like fish and then covered that up with the smell of curry. The combo is really something special, if anyone wants to come hang out.

BA#26: Fish fillets with tomatoes, squash, and basil. All of the pouch-based meals have been very easy, although in this case you end up with a sort of sad, raw-looking lump of fish. It tasted fine, though, in a this-is-healthy-and-I-didn't-work-very-hard-on-it sort of way.

I call him Lumpy.

BA#27: Curried spelt salad. Except I couldn't find spelt, so this is actually curried farro salad. I thought the arugula was a little overpowering. Or I just don't really like arugula? No, that's probably not right, since I keep eating it.

File under: kale.
Overall not the most successful BA week. I want to blame triple-digit-temperature malaise, but TDTM is the WHOLE REASON for this very stupid inspirational project in the first place. Obviously I just need to step it up. Are there any cute babies around to give me a nudge?

Babies that are starting to look a lot like David Hyde Pierce, if possible.

This morning marked Anna's first trip to Chuck E. Cheese, and I'd say she ranked it somewhere between bouncy houses and carnivals. Also, I sincerely hope that you guys are half as entertained by My Child Strongly Dislikes Fun montages as I am, because I don't see this well running dry any time soon.

Surveying the land.

I think she likes what she sees!

Clapping along to the birthday song.

Digesting pizza. She needed to sit at a table by herself to focus (foodie).
 At least there was cake.
Yay, cake!


Also, my July issue arrived yesterday, just to taunt me

Well, the high today is 106, so here we are in the mouth of the beast at last. As you may recall, this is where my brain starts to melt slowly out of my ears, so let's take some dramatic measures and have dessert first.

BA#22: Pink lady milkshakes. To be fair to Bon Appetit, all of the ice cream recipes in this issue are contributions from what I'm guessing are very fine establishments across the country, and not something they cooked up in their secret underground BA lair. STILL, one of the major issues I've had with this project so far is my thwarted desire to leave well enough alone. What do you mean you want me to demolish this perfectly nice cantaloupe and then stir basil into it? What am I, a monster? Can't I just make a regular ice cream cone? Why do I have to sully this delicious adobo sauce with shrimp? And now, this: why mix rum and vinegar and pepper into already-delicious strawberry ice cream?

This strikes me as a waste of both rum and ice cream. And vinegar. I don't actually have a lot of call for pink peppercorns.
Having said that, the vinegar worked better than I was expecting. Anna got the no-rum, no-pepper kid's version. Let's see how she compares to the BA kid this time.

You know, that's actually...not too far off. Lucky for me BA picked some Very Serious children for this issue.
BA#23: Cocoa-date truffles. I was irritated at this one from the get-go because it required me to buy raw cacao powder, which is not inexpensive, and also it's billed as a "healthy dessert," and I had to roll sticky globs into crushed stuff and just, sigh.

Anyway, they're all gone now and I'm buying more dates at the store today.

BA:24: Grilled pork chops and peaches with pole beans. Honestly, when I took the 60 SUMMER RECIPES dive, this was pretty much what I was hoping for. Grilled deliciousness! I did not like the beans, because I believe green beans should be so mushy as to barely be considered a solid, and also taste mostly of bacon. Certainly not marjoram. Marjoram tastes like perfume.

But grilled peaches taste like summmmmmmmer. (In the good, mythical-fun-summer way. Actual summer tastes like hot asphalt and mosquito repellant.)
BA#25: Spiced cucumbers and coconut milk. I like how the guy who came up with this recipe is all, "I'm the only person in the world who has ever cooked cucumbers," and I'm all, "Hi, I'd like you to meet my deep and abiding love affair with fried pickles." So, I didn't find this weird. I did find it...lacking something.

Breading and a side of ranch.
Anna has branched out into self-portraiture.

How you doing, Ivy? Still got your embrace-face on?

My little summer stalwart.


She has also taken some pictures of the couch

Listen everyone, it's truly summer now, time to get this party started for real. Here's some good news--my softball team made it to the playoffs! And last night a guy on the other team made an unreal knee-sliding catch without spilling his beer! If that's not SUMMER FUN, I don't know what. The bad news is, I think Jillian Michaels broke my ankles. Because they have ceased to function correctly. But ankles are really more of a cold-weather necessity anyway, right? Summer is for lounging, not for supporting your own body weight! I'll just be here on the couch in case someone wants to carry me to the pool.

BA#20: Quinoa tabbouleh. This is exactly the kind of thing I would be all over on Pinterest. Seriously, my Healthy Recipes board is basically a festival of quinoa (with special guest appearances by kale and salmon). So this was a perfectly acceptable variation of quinoa-and-veggies and I did not mind having leftovers for lunch the next day.

Not minding leftovers is higher praise than it sounds like.
BA#21: Shrimp in adobo tacos YES I had to make shrimp AGAIN. I did not hate them. I mean, you could cover almost anything in adobo sauce, wrap it in a tortilla, and come out okay. It does take quite a while to chop up two pounds of shrimp, especially when you're a little squicked out by the process and can't even zone out because you are forced to answer the question "Mama, what are you doing?" over five thousand times.

Despite the fact that raw shrimp are not really not my bag, I did celebrate the Summer Solstice by eating about eight pounds of raw fish.

And three pounds of chocolate bread pudding.

And what's not to celebrate? It rained! On the first day of summer! It did not rain last summer. It did not rain last year. At all. It was alllllllll Blind Melon up in this joint. Anna wasn't exactly sure how to handle it.

But it did seem worth documenting.

I think she thought it was going to bite her.
She's actually documenting all of the main summer activities.

Okay, this is all we've got so far.
You know who's taking her EMBRACING duties seriously, though?

"Come here to me summer!"

"Where are you gooooooooing?"


For those of you keeping score, it is still not actually summer yet

First, let's clear the air: if you notice at the end of my thirty-day workout extravaganza that I am not, in fact, totally shredded, it will be because I skipped Day 15. And also...what's today? Also Day 19. I have some pretty medium hopes for the 20s, though!

I decided to revisit BA#15, watermelon and grapefruit agua fresca, and discovered that it is vastly improved with a generous supplement of vodka, not that I'm suggesting that is a metaphor for this whole stupid delightful season or anything. It's just that I'm supposed to be EMBRACING SUMMER, and everyone knows I get huggy-er when I drink.

Summer still life in yellow, pink, and booze.
I was starting to stall out on my Bon Appetit project a little, having been hit pretty hard by the realization that I was only 25% through the recipes at the end of last week. Luckily, I have Anna to shine her own enthusiastic light on things and help me through my times of doubt. "This is not at all a stupid idea, Mother!" she is clearly thinking. "I'm so impressed and inspired by you!"

"I'm not sure why MORE PEOPLE don't tackle entire magazines sight-unseen!"
So, very well. Forward ho! BA#16 and #17: Pico de gallo and Yucatan-style habanero salsa. Whoa, hey, wait a minute! Didn't I say I wasn't going to make the insane fire-sauce? I did. And I meant it. But then a friend talked me into giving it a shot by pointing out that I could fifth the recipe and only make a little dollop, which is exactly what I did. I am also being leaned on to abandon my other caveat (no live lobsters) by people who have obviously never witnessed what I go through just to deal with a dead chicken, let alone a LIVE SEA MONSTER. But the pressure is there. To the extent that in my head I have already purchased two of them, had a change of heart, adopted them as pets, named them, and solicited recommendations for appropriate pet-carriers on Twitter. All of this is true.

Oh, the salsa? Yeah, too hot.
BA#18: Cumin and ancho chicken tacos. Very simple, very easy, really delicious. I have yet to be disappointed by a taco recipe.

Possibly in my entire life.
BA#19: Tony's steak. This was good, but more importantly, it gave me a chance to achieve one of my major Goals of Summer Embracement: learning to use the grill.

By which I mean, my father grilled his own Father's Day dinner while I watched and drank watermelon cocktails.
In other news, Anna's still working out some kinks in her supervillan persona.

I think by next summer we should all pretty vigilant, though.
Hey, everyone who suddenly grew two teeth last week look over here!
Good thing too, teeth will make it much easier to scrape those puffs off her skin.


Only 45 recipes left! Summer's practically done!

Dan is out of town and things are breaking down pretty rapidly around here, so...quick and dirty Friday post, let's do this.

BA#13: Keilbasa with onions and poblanos. I'm a big fan of the wrap-it-up, throw-it-in-the-oven approach, and this was no exception.

Also a fan of cut-up-three-ingridients-and-call-it-dinner.

BA#14: Black rice salad with mango and peanuts. I intended to use the "optional" fish sauce, but was relieved to find that my bottle of fish sauce was expired. Anyway, this was exotic and healthy-seeming. There is a lot of it left in the fridge. I feel like it's going to sit there for a while.

It's okay, it makes the fridge feel fancy.

BA#15 Watermelon and grapefruit agua fresca. I'm so tired of this straining huge amounts of fruit nonsense. You'll notice I already dropped the cheesecloth from the equation. If you see me just squeezing lime juice directly into my mouth in the next few weeks, you'll know what the deal is.

You don't HAVE to drink all your fruit just because it's hot outside, Bon Appetit. Solids can be cold too.

I call this one "Daddy Went To Canada For Four Days."

I happy to report that Anna has settled into her summer wardrobe routine nicely.

Unbuttoned 18-month onesies are the next hot thing, you heard it here first.
The highly-observant among you will have seen the new Food Lush badge on the side of the blog, and I am excited to report that I have joined the staff and will begin contributing on Monday if you want to wander over and check it out. I will of course be writing about my first love (automotive repair).


Must not swear off playgrounds until at least July

I've hit some high highs and low lows in the battle to love summer these past few days. Highs: I've stubbornly successfully worked out for twelve days in a row now, I sat on a porch swing and actually enjoyed the warm breeze and the singing wind chimes, I discovered that I might not feel unqualified disgust towards one of my avoided-foods. Lows: I'm definitely getting fatter and possibly even weaker somehow, I made a cake featuring a can of frozen pink lemonade concentrate, I feel perpetually covered in sweat, bug bites, and sand EVERYWHERE uuuuuuughhh my disgust towards sand remains staunchly unqualified. Also, every time I approach a playground I feel nothing but seething jealously for the people I pass who are already leaving the playground, so that doesn't bode well. ("PLEASE TAKE ME BACK INTO THE AIR CONDITIONING WITH YOU" is hardly an appropriate battle-cry for summer. Get it together, me!)

Okay, let's get down to business. BA#11: fresh chorizo tacos. Not surprised that this one was a big winner. Did you know that it's very easy to make chorizo? And it's a salty, spicy treat? This is definitely a point for Bon Appetit, and I wish I could somehow credit summer as being "taco season," but come on, tacos are appropriate any time of year.

Or time of day.
BA#12: Creole-spiced shrimp. First of all, Dan felt the need to document my handling of raw shrimp for possibly the first time ever as proof of my tireless dedication to this project.

Of course, with no context, you don't really know that those are my hands. I could have hired a stunt food-prepper. You know what, I'm going to look into that. 
So "tireless dedication" may have been overselling it a little, as I deviously made this (one of SEVERAL shrimp recipes) to take to my book club meeting, where I could pawn it off on other people.

I remain proud of this plan. This was probably my cleverness high point for the week.
But then, lo and behold! I tried one of the shrimp so that I could accurately report back to you, dear readers (SCIENCE), and I didn't even dislike it at all! I willingly ate two more of them! Maybe it's time to throw a whole stick of butter on a pile of mushrooms and see if I can't come to terms with all of my food enemies. (I felt like this is a lesson I must have already learned at some point, so I put "butter" into the search field for this blog HAHAHA just a couple of results, there.)

Anna, honey, Mommy had a food breakthrough and you were right there in the kitchen, helping to make it happen!

So gratifying.
Of course, when I needed to make a birthday cake this weekend, BA was WORTHLESS because all it has is four pages of various things to do with ice cream, so I had to look elsewhere. I decided on a pink lemonade pound cake, which in reality was neither pink nor a pound cake. It's just a bundt cake. If there's no POUND OF BUTTER, it's NOT A POUND CAKE.

Sorry, some issues are very close to my heart.
This morning while Anna was eating breakfast, I made the mistake of telling her that she looked very nice today, which obviously caused her to begin whining and pulling off her clothes.

What am I, new here?
It's okay, she didn't really look like herself anyway. Summer usually brings out the extra-crazy, which is actually a point I'm putting in the "pro" column.

That's more like it.


Page three: "Am wasteful of writing space."

BA and I got along much better this week, as evidenced by the fact that I don't feel any adolescent-level angst about proving them wrong today. First up is BA#8, tomato-basil sauce with polenta. This was really easy to put together and made the house smell great right up until the point that I burned the polenta and was afraid to turn on the oven vent because it is again housing what sound like at least five or six birds. (I thought the bird noises were making me insane until I noticed that they were making the cat actually insane and now it's kind of funny.) Anyway, this was a pretty nice, light dinner, but I still don't feel like I understand polenta.

I guess it's for when you want grits but don't have a bowl.
BA#9: Halibut with spring onion and summer squash sauté. Not the best timing for something that requires heating the oil in the skillet "until it's almost smoking," what with the aviary we're running above the stove. But this was again very quick to put together and had a good flavor. Note a theme: I tend to like the easiest, least complicated recipes. See? I'm learning things about myself through this process!

Self-Discovery Journal, page one: "Am lazy."
BA#10: it's...okay, look, the name is a lot to get past. I mean, I get it, and I know that I should be supporting fellow punsters, but, sigh. BombeBasticks. They're basically just Drumsticks that cost more and create a huge mess and take a long time to make, if you're into that kind of thing. Which I obviously am. (Must make note in page two of Self-Discovery Journal.)

Remember when I anguished over a homemade pie crust and Dan said he couldn't tell it wasn't store-bought? I guess that's a compliment he has decided to stick with.
Anyway, I don't recommend that you click on the link to the recipe, as it inexplicably contains nutritional information, but if you do you will see this adorable child enjoying her mind-bogglingly high-caloried treat.

Anna, pose with your ice cream!

A near-perfect replica.
Ivy is shocked by our poor dietary choices.


Nah, just playin'.