Probably an excess of black bile, as usual

Not only had I already set a kitchen towel on fire by 7:30 this morning I had also just stood there for about ten seconds wondering why it kept being on fire instead of taking measures to make that stop being the case so it's possible that my head isn't really in the game and a good thing I have a few pretty Pinterest recipes to distract you from my word...lackings.

Cabbage is better than sentences, right?

That's Spicy Rice Noodle Salad with Cabbage and Tofu. It was significantly more successful than my last foray into rice noodles, which is good because the next time my entire home is covered in oily rice noodles I'm going to leave them there. Very tasty. I had a really hard time swallowing it, but that's a different issue and one that just caused me to spend an inadvisable amount of time on WebMD, so if I wasn't going to lie down after posting this before I definitely am now.

Moving on! Thai-Inspired Hydrating Cucumber Salad with Roasted Spiced Chickpeas. This was "actually pretty good," per Dan, which I think is his diplomatic way of saying "I worked all day and came home to a bowl of raw cucumbers, but I forgive you."

It was fine. I'm supposed to have the leftovers for lunch. Maybe I will spend my lunch break (haha, never gets old) worrying about esophageal cancer instead.

Finally, Chicken Avocado Soup. It was comforting and delicious. I think you should go make this one right now. I think I should go make this one again right now.

Chicken soup would cure almost everything that's wrong with me (sleepiness, humors out of balance, internet-induced hypochondria).

We definitely know how to dress ourselves for hot weather, but rain remains a mystery to us.

It's not supposed to touch skin, right?

We're also practicing our selfies.

She's even disappointed in herself for taking her picture.


Chocolate and wine, mostly

Behold my greatest culinary achievement of the past week: purchasing and heating up chorizo.

And adorning it appropriately.

That's actually Sautéed Asparagus with Chorizo, Fried Eggs, and Smoked Paprika Allioli from Serious Eats and it was a nice little summer dish if you can overlook the fact that allioli is just mayonnaise with a sneaky name. I'm on to you, sneaky mayonnaise.

Though I'm technically still on project-vacation while I devote most my of my energy to enduring the height of this very delightful season that never ends, I have been working in a few recipes on the sly here and there. Cookbook #75: Favorite Brand Name Monster Cookies (Publications International, Ltd., 2001) poses an interesting question: if you are holding a physical item in your hand, yet the internet shows no evidence of its existence, is it real?

What are you?

Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Did I really need to let Anna pick one of these for her birthday considering the already Late Roman Empire-esque surplus of birthday shenanigans in play: yes.

Verdict: She went with Chocolate Giants, and who wouldn't? They were very large chocolate cookies with stuff in them. If this appeals to you, you can borrow my copy because I do not think it exists outside of this house or possibly even my own mind.

Cookbook #76: Sangria: Fun and Festive Recipes (Mittie Hellmich and Victoria Pearson, 2004): similarly cried out to me as something that needed to be incorporated into my four-year-old's birthday, obviously. Provenance: I think it was a gift from friends. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Appropriateness for serving at a midmorning child's party: 10 out of 10.

I had the children covered! They had a WATER tank!

I made the Strawberry Mint Sangria, which contains club soda and is a good way to save money on party booze refresh yourself on a hot day. Verdict: I thought this was pretty good, not overly sweet and you could really taste the berries. I'm not sure how necessary a how-to-add-fruit-to-your-wine book is, but then again I haven't yet explored every single variation (stay tuned).

Cookbook #77: Chocolate! Good Housekeeping Favorite Recipes (Good Housekeeping, 2005) has no photographic evidence of having been checked off the list because I gave away the batch of Almond Cheesecake Brownies before I managed to take a picture of them. Also I ate the half batch of Almond Cheesecake Brownies that I kept for myself before I managed to take a picture of them. Provenance: I know someone gave this to me, but I'm not sure who. Sorry, someone! Maybe my parents-in-law? Previous recipes on this blog: none.

Verdict: they tasted like all the things their name would indicate. Also, the book title is yelling the word "chocolate" at you. I don't know how to sell this thing any harder.

This is the part where I have to note that Monster Cookies should have been categorized with other Brand Name things, and the Chocolate book should have gone in Magazine Week. And this is the part where I acknowledge that no one but me would ever care about such a thing, but if one of you did, then I know, okay? I know. Whew! Obsessive bases covered.

The following is a typical result when I attempt to photograph my youngest child.

I would categorize her escape style as more "flamboyant" than "stealth" at this point.


That's four years in a row of birthday parties with totally normal themes

Anna continued to turn 4 this weekend, so we had a Pingu generic penguin party for her.

At this point my father would like you to know that he did not have a birthday party until he was 27 years old and it involved a plain loaf of bread and a hoop with a stick.

I went with a fairly jumbled "black and white slash things penguins would eat" theme.


Turns out the only things I needed to make were these White Chocolate Snowballs:

And this queso blanco that I did not bother photographing because it just looked like a crockpot full of melted cheese. UGH now that I reread that I see my mistake.

And, okay, the fishing penguin cupcakes weren't the worst:


Hey, Anna got a new hat for her birthday! And it...has...a...propeller on it! Hahahahaha Daddy did not consult Mommy before buying this gift!

I guess it's worth the joy it brings her, though.

She even propellered her way through some 12th Day of Birthday breakfast tacos.

Ivy did not require assistance in order to enjoy hers.


This is what we in the business call a placeholder

I know I normally post on Fridays but Anna's birthday party is tomorrow and I'm trying to turn hard-boiled eggs into penguins and my youngest daughter just pulled the loaf of sandwich bread off of the counter and started riding it like a pony so I wouldn't say we're in crisis mode exactly but we're definitely getting close to OH MERCY NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO SEE HOW WE ACTUALLY LIVE mode. ("Wow!" you're certainly thinking, "She neither works nor pulls off domestic feats? How does she not do it all?" I know. It's a preternatural gift, the astounding not-doing of things.)

Anyway, here is a picture of the birthday girl, for my mother.


Time, passing, etc.

Ah, mid-July, when half of my household insists on aging.

My baby turned fooooooooooour!

My Baby turned thirty-foooooooooour!

One benefit of our yearly Birthday Barrage is a steady stream of delightful foodstuffs.

Bread pudding: it's what's for breakfast.

Annual work picnic? Sure, why not!

Hip downtown restaurant? Don't mind if I do!

For three full days I have mourned the fact that we did not bring our leftover salsas home with us.

I chose this drink because of all my options it sounded the most fictional: "whole leaf tobacco-infused cazadores reposado, vanilla infused brandy, lemon, grilled pineapple juice, mezcal essence, volcanic-saffron-infused salt rim," dash of unicorn hair, wisp of narwhal breath.

The most special corn in all the land.

If you put enough garlic and salt into spinach and white beans it becomes a thing upon which I could easily subsist for many months.


I made myself use a utensil here, but it took a significant amount of restraint.

And please note this Birthday Miracle wherein I made donuts that did not look completely disgusting:

Anna you're so big, darling! Adulthood is right around the corner!



A few vegetables and a lot of cheese

So I did a little calendar math regarding my cookbook project and I am tearing it up. With three quarters of the cookbooks done and almost half a year left, I deserve to take it easy here in the dog days, right? Treat myself to a little summer vacation. Isn't that what people do in the summer? Take vacations? Do activities? Enjoy lives? Leave houses? Haha, okay, whatever you say.

Tuuuuuurns out my family still wants to eat dinner pretty much every night, and by "my family" I mean "I." And by "every night" I mean "as soon as I wake up." To Pinterest I turn! Doesn't this Roasted Strawberry and Asparagus Quinoa Salad look good?


And I guess this Spaghetti Squash with Apples and Toasted Pecans (and grilled chicken) reads kind of autumnal, but I got the squash at the farmer's market last weekend so who's seasonal now, huh?

It was also good. I don't need to yell it at you. You believe me.

Ivy's current "CHEESE" face:

Pretty solid.

Anna's current "CHEESE" face:

Strikingly similar to her past "CHEESE" faces.


Just kidding, this is her "CHEESE FACE: FIRST VARIATION."

Hey Anna, what if that CHEESE were covering a hamburger and/or enveloping some macaroni?



America Week

Obviously all of last week was AMERICA WEEK, as July is in fact generally AMERICA MONTH WITH A SLIGHT NOD OF THE HEAD TO BASTILLE DAY. Don't think that this fact escaped the notice of me or my cookbooks just because I lazily phoned in a couple of parade pics last Friday. I was alllll over it.

I found Cookbook #72: 50 Winning Chili Recipes (Phillip Morris, 2002) (13 used and new from $0.89, you guys!) deep within the recesses of my couch, meaning that Ivy did not properly dispose of it as I had assumed. Disappointing though that was, I figured it would be a good candidate for patriotic eats since chili in its current form is pretty American and Phillip Morris insisting that your chili win something seals it.

Champion beans only.

Provenance: cigarettes. Previous recipes on this blog: none. I went with "Mike's Black Eye Chili," mostly because it was the weirdest combination of things (beer AND wine AND honey) and because I was amused that there were four kinds of beans involved and none of them were black-eyed peas. Like most of the other recipes in this pamphlet, this was really just a stew that happened to have chili powder in it, but I liked it. I've actually been eating it for breakfast with a poached egg. Verdict: this is sort of embarrassing, but I have dog-eared about eight other recipes in this thing. So...that'll do, free promotional recipe booklet.

That darling-looking blueberry pie from last week was from Cookbook #73: America's Favorite Food (Alex Barker, 2003). Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. I guess it was a pretty standard blueberry pie recipe, which is why I botched it and ended up with rock-hard crust and too-gloopy filling. (Don't worry, it still got eaten somehow.) Verdict: The pie was a mess and there weren't too many things in here that appealed to me, but I did appreciate the staging of the photographs.

"How will they know this burger is American if there isn't a baseball hovering over it?"

And here we are at last, the crown jewel in my collection, Cookbook #74: The Redneck Cookbook (Lo'retta Love, 1997). Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Favorite word in the full title: "Gullet." Why did I pick it for America Week: because it has both Elvis (...I think?) and a pickup truck on the cover.

And the traditional American dish "Plate of Two Uncooked Whole Fish."

I decided to go with "Chicken International," for obvious reasons, and paired it with some Nutty Broccoli. This dish is described as "Sorta fancy but really good!"

I interpreted this to mean "Serve with your nicest jug of wine."

So here is something interesting: this was not a bad dish at all. Dates, bell peppers, oranges, curry powder--definitely an ethnic mutt of a dish but a nice piece of chicken, overall. Of course, I do have some regrets. Something this "sorta fancy" probably would have paired nicely with a cup of Wine Soup, for example.

I wasn't sold until "ice cold" and "salt."

Actually, this entire book is full of missed opportunities for me.

I like both the promise in the title and the assumption in the first sentence.

Not everything needs to be jellied, world. I'm actually going to say very few things do.

Or puddinged.

"Fry bologna in a skillet with butter" is EXACTLY what I was hoping for when I opened this book.

You have to be impressed with Baby Sister for beating out Elvis as the joke-sandwich here.

Verdict: now that I've memorized the recipe for Fried Bologna Sandwiches, I probably won't need to refer back to this one too often. Of course, every single recipe in the dessert section contains booze. So...maybe.

I also went back to Cookbook #68 for Summer Squash Gratin, Watermelon Salsa, Puffy Oven Potatoes, and Tomato Salad.

They were all fine. I have now made five recipes from a book containing Caramelized Onion Waffles with Smoked Salmon and Lemon Cream Sauce without making Caramelized Onion Waffles with Smoked Salmon and Lemon Cream Sauce. I don't know what I'm doing with my life.

Ivy, not content to simply emulate her big sister, is taking headwear obsession to a slightly more extreme (if ultimately more practical) place.