I probably just like the idea of having two forks

Here's the thing: I'm pretty certain no one is less interested in my gloomy inner monologue than Martha Stewart. I was going to throw in a humorous alternative example but I actually literally cannot think of anyone who cares less than Martha. Like, maybe Fannie Farmer would have been in the running, but she has sadly but human-life-span-appropriately passed. So I knew Martha Stewart's Dinner At Home: 52 Quick Meals To Cook For Family And Friends would be just the thing to snap me out my brooding state and into my wondering how a meal can be described as "quick"when it involves four different components state. Perfect!

Pasta Shards with Fresh Herbs and Poached Eggs with Arugula and Avocado Salad

I like the phrase "pasta shards" because it sounds vicious even though it ends up just being floppy noodles. Like an idea she picked up in prison, maybe. And I actually DID injure my finger trying to snap those lasagna sheets apart. I mean, it's not…it didn't leave a mark or anything. But for a few seconds I really thought it might.

Every one of the menus in this cookbook involves a dessert, which is good, but it also involves making a dessert, which, I dunno. I was supposed to make tiramisu with the Pasta Shanks, presumably because the caffeine and booze would act together as a painkiller, easing the sting of your various stab wounds. But tiramisu has…so many steps. And I didn't think I could find ladyfingers at HEB. So I skipped around and picked another Italian-ish dessert, Amaretti-Ricotta Sandwiches.

Oh hey guess what I couldn't find amaretti cookies at HEB.

Once in a while I find cause to bemoan the dearth of Italian influence in these grocery-parts, but honestly I didn't care that the almond-y cookies were Belgian because they were stuffed with lemony sugar-cheese. I'll probably just try it with Oreos next.

So, Taisia Kitaiskaia over at The Hairpin made a really beautiful case for summer that moved even me, A LITTLE BIT. It also made me wonder if I have a secret line of Russian heritage because that would explain some things. Anyway, I'm trying to be more open to the non-irritating elements of this time of year, such as postprandial family walks.

This is Anna stopping mid sentence to examine a slug because she was tired of us trying to explain how you can guess at the definition of words by figuring out their roots.

For some reason, Dan and I independently came up with the word "bifurcate" as the best example.

It's an interesting word.



I actually find that train video very soothing

So it's summer season now, I guess.

I hope you had a…rememberful Memorial Day? I don't even know. I was going to link to Mental Floss's article about Memorial Day because I don't personally have anything to contribute on the matter, it is a very somber occasion with no fun costumes or anything and also "kicking off summer" may as well be "kicking off (a) hornet's nest (from the top of my head)" as far as I'm concerned, but instead I got distracted by "25 Things You Might Not Know About "Boy Meets World" because frankly that sounded like a personal challenge or at least a topic I am comfortable discussing. (I KNEW NINETEEN OF THEM.) (OKAY, THAT SOUNDS LIKE A PERSONAL CHALLENGE.)

Anyway. Better eat some Mediterranean Chicken Skewers and Walnut Date Salad from The Longevity Kitchen in order to ensure myself sixty or so more summers to dread:

I have to tell you guys, this healthy food stuff tastes really good and I've done extensive research on the matter (examines pictures, nods to self approvingly, eats another handful of Fritos).

This is the angle that makes old-timey audiences freak out and attempt to bite the chicken morsel coming at them.

Trust me honey, that joke was hilarious, you just don't get it yet.

Ugh ugh ugh. (That may seem excessive, but please consider the fact that I had to go back and change every single word of this post from "ugh" on the rewrite.) If you are feeling any combination of the actually physically ill/painfully emotionally drained killer mood that I am, I'd like to point you in the direction of The A.V. Club today, where they are doing good work.

I imagine their offices look very much like this.

And also to this more serious and germane piece by A.V. Club writer Todd VanDerWerff, whose use of a Kool-Aid Man graphic made my 4-year-old daughter extremely interested in what I was reading which just made me more depressed about everything in the entire world uh oh time to go pick some classic movies to pretend I'll actually go see this summer.


Her entourage is a Cat Team

SPRING. We have now reached the point at which my general disdain for the season gives way to frantic enthusiasm, because celebrating spring is my last best chance to deny that it is already (has always been/will always be/etc.) summer here. So, yeah. SPRING! Really great. Full of life and blooming things and whatnot. Let's just streamline this whole thing and put all the greenery into one bowl, here we go: Spring Is Busting Out All Over Soup.

Mmm, extremely green. Nice. Know what else seems springy? Chopping every vegetable you can get your hands on and sort of piling them up and probably sneaking at least one egg in there, just a thought, let's try it: Sweet Potato and Zucchini Pancakes PLUS Black Bean Skillet Cakes with Poached Eggs PLUS Ancho Chili Relish all on one plaaaaaaaaaaate.

Careful with this one, I think it might actually contain TOO MANY vitamins.

Wow guys, that's some pretty healthy stuff up there. I didn't see any cheese at all. What's going on?

No, you recently had a birthday and realized you should probably be eating more…bowls of raw carrots.

Anyway, while I'm over here figuring out how to live to 200 (I'm worried positive it involves kale), Ivy has gone full disaffected-Hollywood-youth. I knew this photoshoot was leading to bad things.




Apparently so

Batter-covered spatula status: FOUND. Almost immediately. Which is bad news in the sense that I was hoping to spin it into the kind of serialized mystery that would keep you coming back week after week, but good news on the, you know, sanitary living conditions front. Or whatever. More good news emerging from that particular kitchen implement: Smitten Kitchen's S'more Layer Cake.

You know it's a good cake when you have to put in a request for a birthday kitchen torch in order to complete it.

Also a good cake for convincing yourself that it is an appropriate breakfast food because graham crackers are the wholesomest, hypothetically, I'm guessing.

"These blocks are being especially pertificule today."

"Anna, can you tell the camera what 'pertificule' means?"

"Is the camera confused?"


The old never bothered me anyway

Tomorrow I will turn thirtysomething for the fourth time! I have been celebrating by putting a lot of lotions on my face and also by fulfilling my week-long goal of eating cheeses wallowing in happiness. The key was returning to Smitten Kitchen for some dinner recipes before those despots at the Wells Branch Community Library snatch her away from me. Things went well.

First up is grilled cheese, obviously. Specifically, Emmentaler on Rye with Sweet and Sour Onions.

I think I would have liked this better if Whole Foods had any regular rye bread but they don't have regular anything ugh so this is something called Black Forest Rye, an item from which I infer that the Black Forest is grossly overpriced and composed of 65% seeds. Whole Foods also had the baking ingredients on the juice aisle for no reason other than that they disapprove of both groups and probably flagged me for lingering too long amongst them. Also, the recipe recommends serving this sandwich with slaw, but the thought of having grilled cheese with anything other than tomato soup is outrageous to me. (I do not have a lot of things to RAGE OUT about in my life. This seems worthy?)

I intended to make Baked Ranchero Eggs with Blistered Jack Cheese and Lime Crema for Cinco de Mayo, but that had to be put off this year due to Circumstances. I can tell you that it was just as delicious on a random weeknight in May.

Maybe because I fried the tortilla strips instead of baking them, yes I did, yes I did.

And finally, Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves with Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes, a combination that frankly sells itself, so I'll just shut up and let you gaaaaaaaaaaze upon it now.

Belated Mother's Day sentiment: my favorite unexpected benefit of having children is the formation of my own security detail.

My favorite demanded expected benefit is that they make me birthday cakes.

Seems like I'm in their way, so I'm just going to scoot now.

Fun fact: that batter-covered spatula, which CLEARY EXISTED THIS MORNING, is missing now. How far into summer will I find the batter-covered spatula? Stay tuned to find out!


I have a similar problem when my mom is cooking

The hardest thing about visiting my parents when my dad is cooking is knowing that we probably aren't going to eat very well.

Sauteed Tilapia with Pecan Butter Sauce over Cajun Rice Pilaf with a side of Corn Maque Choux

Strawberry shortcake lemon pound cake

Okay, so the actual the hardest thing about visiting my parents when my dad is cooking is remembering to pack stretchy pants. The fact that I got to eat all of the above on Mother's Day and then just leave my dirty dishes on the table like a man princess means this week got off to a much better start than last week. Still, I'm determined that the six-day stretch from Mother's Day to my birthday be filled with as much full fat dairy INTENSE DELIGHT as possible, so last night the Super Social Food League of Austin assembled to attack Austin Restaurant Week: Completely Empty Italian Restaurant Edition.

The best part was actually the tiramisu, which I failed to photograph, but our waiter agreed that it was also his favorite and he claimed to be Sicilian. I say "claimed to be" because our waiter was aggressively bored and may have been lying about his heritage just to pass the time. Anyway, everything was delicious, so if you're in the mood for Italian with a side of cute, hovering dude, I can fully recommend Gusto on a slow night.

Hey, where's Ivy?

Anna, what do you think of Ivy's hide-and-seek technique?

I agree, I think she can do better.

There we go.


I keep whispering the word "thinner" to myself, but nothing so far

After a week in which all of our bright sides took some serious reaching (Our car did get washed! At the dealership, where we had to take it due to brokenness. ETC.), I figure it's time to go full-throttle on the joy this particular Friday afternoon. Know what's fun? Projects are fun! Or at least strangely sanity-preserving. To the Book Lover's Cookbook, noted bastion of cheer. Hmm, where were we on the list oh that's right STEPHEN KING. Very good.

Not exactly Stephen King himself of course, because Thinner was penned by the Bachman-Turner Overdrive portion of Stephen King's brain. You know. The Takin' Care of Business personality. Please be aware that Dan did not find the fact of King naming himself after BTO to be entirely hilarious, so add us to the pile of evidence that opposites attract. He's probably right, though, that dorkiness is not really an unexpected (and therefore funny, seriously, so funny to me) trait of King's. Take for example "Bachman's" decision to have one of the characters compare what is happening to "one of those Stephen King stories." THAT IS DORKY, STEPHEN KING. I WINCED AT THAT.

I know, I know. I ain't seen nothin' yet.

The book itself is, I don't know, fine? Some sections drag and King steers well-clear of subtlety at every opportunity. I read it very quickly, partly because it was about 50 pages of story in a 300-page package and also because food is mentioned pretty frequently. So what food have the editors of the BLC selected for us?

"I've lost some weight." 
"Well, that's good," Ginelli said. "You were too big, William. I gotta say that, too big. How much you lose?"
"Twenty pounds." 
"Hey! Congratulations! And your heart thanks you, too. Hard to lose weight, isn't it?"… 
…"It actually wasn't hard at all." 
"Well, you come on in to Brothers, William. I'm gonna fix you my own special. Chicken Neapolitan. It'll put all that weight back on in one meal." 
"I might just take you up on that," Billy said, smiling a little. He could see himself in the mirror on his study wall, ad there seemed to be too many teeth in his smile. Too many teeth, too close to the front of his mouth. He stopped smiling. 

This is one of those recipes that makes me feel a little bit bad about not reviewing the BLC strictly on its qualities as a cookbook, because it was delicious, as all vaguely pizza-tasting dishes are. But that's not why we're here. We're here because we are lovers of books and desire to cook as such. So let's take a look at the text-to-recipe translation.

1. That conversation is the only time this dish is mentioned, as a hypothetical. The main character eats most of the food on the planet, but he never eats this. Nor does anyone else, as far as I know.

2. If they did, they would probably find it strange that this authentic Italian restaurant served it with a mountain of cheddar cheese on top.

3. But what they wouldn't realize is that the cheddar cheese is the only thing that puts it at all in range of "non-dieting delight," because up until then it's basically a Weight Watchers recipe, trust me on this one, I know what I'm talking about.

4. And, okay, once they get past the cheddar they're probably going to wonder about the potatoes too.

Anyway, in case you were feeling like this space is not educational enough, here is a picture of the Romani flag:

Speaking of education, Ivy will be in preschool a few hours a week starting next month! Although I'm not sure there's any point, seems like she's doing a pretty good job exploring the world around her without any assistance.


No one said adjusting your outlook would be pretty

Here is what you gain when a small child vomits all over the backseat of your car en route to a funeral: a surprisingly serene burst of perspective.

Perspective on the mess, firstly, because you are going to a funeral and this is just a mess. A regular, easy problem with a regular, easy solution. And you weren't even on your way to the funeral proper, just on your way into town and you still have baaaarely enough time before the visitation to wash and dry her only appropriate outfit, which is now covered in vomit. Everything is fine. She immediately felt so much better and she is fine and all of it is fine because it's just a mess and this is a Grand Scheme Day and if your car smells faintly of vomit all summer it will only serve to remind you that you are alive.

A liberal application of beans on toast is helpful for both grief and iffy stomachs.

Perspective also on the funeral, or at least a reprieve from the exhausting drone of your brain as it becomes fully occupied assessing the damage behind you, counting the stuffed animals in the line of fire, eyeballing the nooks and crannies of the many belts and their loops, noticing that oooooooh man she was holding your phone, of course she was.

Coming face-to-face with your ineptitude at wrangling a car seat out of its hooked-in position is a welcome break from fretting about the fact that every time someone says "Sorry for your loss" you respond with "Thanks. (Beat.) I mean, he was 95," as though your habitual refusal to accept compliments ("I think I got it in the clearance section" "Well, it looks like a disaster but at least it tastes okay") has warped into an inability to accept condolences, which maybe makes you come across as someone who is creeping distressingly close to the sociopathy line.

Trying to figure out what exact cleaning-oriented substances need to be sprayed onto various affected surfaces interrupts your parade of attempts to somehow contextualize your grandfather (he was seven when The Great Gatsby was published) (he was your current age in October of 1952) (if he were a Mad Men character he would have been the same age as Roger Sterling) as a way of affixing him to history, your weird but admittedly interesting way of processing mortality.

You will be temporarily freed from your own tyrannical head because life, LIFE! has asserted itself all over the upholstery and maybe you spoke too soon when you said this problem had an "easy" solution because mercy you that splatter traveled.

Here is what you lose when a small child vomits all over the backseat of your car en route to a funeral: your normally-robust ability to avoid writing blog posts in the second person.


I assume the recipe will be pulled from an ironically happy chapter

For those of you reading along with me (Hi, Robert!), I've started the next Book Lover's Cookbook selection: Thinner by Stephen King (or if your library rolls old school like mine does, by Richard Bachman). It's not the moooooooooooost sensitive to Romani culture, but I do like how much food the main character is eating. And he's not even fat anymore! Seems like everything is going to work out for the best.

Being currently unladen with any Gypsy weight-loss curses myself, I'm stuck with regular, vegetabley portions like a chump. Fortunately, Smitten Kitchen is here to take the edge off. And also to totally bury the requisite kale salad in honey and dried cherries.


Speaking of good ideas, ratatouille is one!

Sticking the ratatouille in a sandwich is yet another one!

And putting a fennel and arugula salad on top of our fried chicken breast is…well, it's what we do. Because we are adults.

About half of my meals fall under the heading "Concessions to Age and Metabolism."

Ivy's Cinco de Mayo celebration has been in full swing since about Wednesday.

I can barely remember the last time she was this excited about a holiday.