June Gloom

I'm having a bit of a midsummer first week of summer slump right now. I don't know why.

I know why.

At any rate, it's making me want to do a lot of sleeping and sitting still and not bothering to take especially good pictures of food that was quite tasty, such as this Chicken Saagwala from Cookbook #71: Flavors of India (Meena Pathak, 2003). 

Sorry my Seasonal Affective Disorder is giving you the short shrift, delicious Indian food.

Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Jokes I wish I could generate about this straightforward, well-written Indian cookbook: at least one or two, come on. Verdict: excellent food, does not seem effective in curing mild depression. A-

Anna very solemnly asked me to take this picture of her.

For posterity.

This one was candid.

Ivy is not currently displaying any symptoms of summertime blues.


Wine Weekend

It's possible that my annual-ish girls' oldest friends ever trip to Fredericksburg and its surrounding wineries is significantly more fun to live through than to write about, as I'm noticing that basically every single picture is exactly the same as last year's pictures. Which is...how I like it. Routine! Is my friend! Particularly wine and ridiculous food routines! I am actually wishing that there was some established protocol for June 25th that I could be following right this second. (Note to self: establish hypothetical protocol immediately.) But the point is, you are more or less getting a summer rerun of a post here.

Oh hey, we added HUMMUS this year! What am I even talking about, reruns. Pssh.

Yep, Bavarian potato skins, check.
Dropped omelet, check.
I think the Hill Country Beignets actually got better if that is even possible.

I totally Groundhog Dayed this whole thing, except I had the added challenge of trying not to give all of Central Texas pinkeye. (Wine, uh, sterilizes things, right? When applied orally and maybe accidentally topically a little bit? Pretty sure that's right.) Oh! And our hotel was way more murdery this year. I mean, I think Stephen King personally designed this door.

See? I can still plan an exciting weekend.

Anyway. To make up for my lack of original content above, I think it's only fair to present you with Ivy: The Hat Years Commence.

Ta da!


The Horror (plus three more cookbooks)

I tore through some cookbooks this week, experimented with a new and very modern workout routine, checked some niggling little things off the To-Do List, and was generally pretty successful as a human, but this morning I woke up with what I am 95% certain is pinkeye so my life is a failure and everything has been for naught and I will be a reviled leper for the rest of my days. How's your Friday going?

May as well revisit the good times before the looming spectre of disgusting goopy crust becomes reality and my eyes are forever closed. (Not by death. Just by gunk. GLUED SHUT FOR ALL ETERNITY.) What say you, Cookbook #68: The Best American Recipes 2000 (Fran McCullough, 2000)? Shall we away to a happier time, a time of clear vision and Tunisian Chickpea Stews?

The colors were so bright, then.

Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. There are quite a few very appealing recipes in this book, so it's a bit of a mystery as to why I chose the one that is essentially canned garbanzo beans with cumin and lemon juice. It was...okay? I maybe should have gone with Caramelized Onion Waffles with Smoked Salmon and Lemon Cream Sauce? Yeah. I maybe should have done that.

Ah, well. Did I similarly waste Cookbook #69: Quick and Easy Chinese and Oriental Cooking (Grange Books PLC, 2002)? Well, this Indonesian Cooked Salad was not quick, easy, or Chinese, but I guess it was, uh..."Oriental"...are we...is that...a thing that's still okay to say? For a book published in 2002? (Conducts some mid-post research) Aha! "Antiquated, pejorative, and disparaging" in American English, A-OK in British English. (Checks publisher's information) Published in the UK! Very good. Everything's fine.

This salad is not as racist as it seems.

Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Verdict: this was pretty good, but MAN does that title make me uncomfortable. Maybe if I just stick with the Chinese section.

Cookbook #70: Cooking Essentials (Mary Berry and Marlena Spieler, 1999) is another one of those here-is-everything-you-need-to-know-about-cooking collections that I probably should have reviewed about ten years ago when I didn't already have the basics down, but here we are. Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. From a book full of important and sometimes even healthy "Master Recipes" I chose: Bolognese Sauce.

Hell yeah I did.
It was supposed to be tagliatelle, but I clearly do not live in an area with a very high Italian population, as the pasta selection at my HEB can best be described as "one hundred kinds of spaghetti and some shells." The closest I could come was one not-easily-located bag of fettuccine. None of that matters whatsoever, as the takeaway from this dish is all salty fatty tomatoey yum. Verdict: Yes.

You're probably impressed that I managed to get through so many cookbooks in one week, but the girls have been really helpful in the kitchen, so it's not like I'm going it alone.

I mean, each helpful in her own way, of course.


Father's Day Weekend

 Happy post-Father's-Day-Tuesday, fathers! I made you a hamburger!

No, my brother did. Also I ate your hamburger. Sorry.

We spent the weekend in Mansfield with my father (et al.) and it was a nice, quiet, meat-eating couple of days. The girls showed Dan how much they loved him by relieving him of much of his ice cream burden.

Nothing is too good for their Daddy!

I also wanted to show Dan how much I loved him, so I told him to pick any "category of food" for dinner and he said "French toast" and I said "fine, I'll decide then." (Don't worry, I made him French toast for breakfast, I AM NOT A MONSTER.) I tried to figure out what was the manliest cookbook left on the list, but I couldn't find another Phillip Morris Manstruction Manual. Seriously, there WAS another, chili-based one, but I can't find it. Ivy was messing with it and then it fully disappeared, so I assume she figured out what the deal was and threw it away for me.

I'm so proud of you, honey.

So it seemed like the next best thing would be Cookbook #67: The Food Lover's Guide to Meat and Potatoes (Sharon Tyler Herbst, 1996). Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Number of vegetable dishes I should eat going forward this week: several.

I went with Spiced-Twice Potato Hash, which is a weird name that I think indicates the presence of both sweet and Russet potatoes, because I only "spiced" it once. Confusing. But delicious, as almost all hash is as far as I know.

You can tell I wasn't feeling too hot yesterday, because what kind of person serves hash without an egg on top of it? MAYBE I AM A MONSTER AFTER ALL.

Verdict: I wasn't wild about the selection of recipes, but the one I did try was solid, so who knows? I'm basically never going to get rid of any book that discusses potatoes at length.

Right now this is what's happening with my child's head in the mornings.

Ignore the weird lighting and focus on the open defiance of physics.

Oh, I'm not asking for advice or anything. I think we've got it covered.


Too hot for themes, will revisit in November

After spending last weekend in somewhat close proximity to moderately famous people, I knew I would have to pull out the big guns in order to keep riding that high, so...hope you're all ready to STUFF IT! (Cookbook #65, Lora and Max Brody, 1998).

I realize some of you actually aren't ready, and I'm sorry for catching you off guard.

Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Tone of the Goodreads writeup: slightly unhinged. I made Lentil-Stuffed Peppers, which would have been more attractive had I followed the instructions and not overcooked them, but I don't care because Mrs. Huff likes cheeky orphans mushy lentils. Verdict: these were good and easy and made for nice leftovers and maybe I should stop mocking the Exclamatory! Title! and just keep Stuffing! Things!

Cookbook #66: The Four Ingredient Cookbook (Linda Coffee and Emily Cale, 1994, can't find a link to it but here's the sequel I guess?) is pretty much on the other end of the excitement spectrum. Especially when you realize that a very high percentage of the recipes include "Salt and pepper to taste" as the "fourth" ingredient, which is both lazy and mathematically offensive, it really should be "Salt OR pepper to taste," otherwise you are basically instructing us to make either a three or five ingredient dish. Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Would I care about the salt and pepper thing if either of these recipes had been any good: I don't know, but probably?

It's pretty annoying.
Verdict: the Hot Cabbage tasted exactly like it sounds, the Baked Onion Rings were pretty unfortunate, the pre-seasoned salmon from Central Market was outstanding. Highly recommend the salmon.

Look, there was an actual baby in my house today! Hello baby June!

I'm guessing this was a reaction to the constant level of noise produced by my daughters. I look like this most of the time.

Of course, her presence only highlighted how enormous and disillusioned my own baby is now.

And if recent lunch-adjustments are anything to go by, her sister is somewhere in her mid-teens already.

That's at least an eighth-grade level sandwich mod.



I have actually made a small amount of cookbook-project progress in the past week, but I'm going to save that discussion for another time, as I would rather talk about the fact that I spent all weekend trying to get as close as possible to the cast of Friday Night Lights without actually climbing into their laps.

You're welcome, volunteer security staff.

Yeah, that's Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton making a surprise appearance for which I was in the very front row, whatever, happens all the time. (I think you can see the backs of my, Jennie's, and Julie's heads in that link. They're the exploding ones.)

Pretty standard weekend, overall. Spent some time unsubtly stalking Paul Scheer and Martin Starr.

"Austin was pretty cool except for the creepy drunk girls."

Learned that Dan Harmon can't pronounce the word "bagel."

Or the words "No hard feelings, NBC."

Helped celebrate Mae Whitman's birthday with a shirtless-Tim-Riggins cake.

Stars! They're just like us!

Discovered that being in the presence of Joshua Malina makes me kind of blurry.

It was all starting to get blurry at that point.

And being in the presence of Scott Porter makes me freak out seriously this is me completely freaking out.

Attended the Panel of Hot Dudes Actor's Roundtable.


Caught Lucas Neff really, really enjoying himself.

This picture wasn't just awesome timing, he basically made this face the entire hour.

Ate some food that I didn't have to cook myself.

Came home to discover the girls (probably sensing my wandering attention) really upping their cuteness game. Nice work, ladies.

 Anyway, yeah, ATX Television Festival: A+, would recommend.


Italian Week

First of all, I want to confess that it took me almost a full minute after I walked into this room to figure out where Anna was.

If she wants to go as a "bag of stuff" for Halloween, that would save us some effort for sure.

As I'm sure you're all aware, Sunday was Festa della Republica! Which works out great, because guess who has three Italian cookbooks and a bottomless desire to eat pasta? And also...thumbs? (Me. This guy.) Hey, look how cute and authentic Cookbook #62: Country Italian Cooking (Publications International, Ltd. 2004) looks. Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none.

Like some Italian grandmother hand-painted those olive branches while doing other stereotypical Old World things that I am too lazy to generate right now.

So of course it is full of brands. DISGUISED BRAND COOKBOOKS EVERYWHERE. But I managed to find a recipe for Baked Risotto with Asparagus, Spinach, and Parmesan that wasn't shouting the words CONTADINA or BELGIOIOSO at me.

It was nice and quiet.

Verdict: The risotto was good, but it took me a while to find something I actually wanted to make. I guess if you don't know what to do with all of your RAGÚ and FILIPPO BERIO product this could be helpful.

For Cookbook #63: Italian: The Essence of Mediterranean Cuisine (Carla Capalbo, 1994), we took to the grill once again. Provenance: this was one of Dan's clearance-bin purchases. Previous recipes on this blog: none. I kept putting off these Mediterranean Turkey Skewers for some reason, but they ended up being very tasty, as most grilled items are.

Even the eggplant!

Verdict: there are a lot of colorful and appealing recipes in this thing. I should unleash Dan on the clearance section more often.

Cookbook #64: Essential Pasta and Pizza (Carla Capalbo, 1995) has a lovely recipe for Fusilli with Peppers and Onions. Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none.

That name seems kind of familiar...wait, it's the same author as Cookbook #63! And also...ah, hell, it's the same book.

The repeated "pizza with tiny squid on it" was the giveaway.

Verdict: I'm still counting these as two separate entries and you can't stop me.

Anna managed to quietly entertain herself at a birthday party this weekend.

It's a good thing, because there wasn't too much else going on.

Unnecessarily making her own fun since 2009.

Anyway, she does want to tell you about the piñata, if you have a minute.