I made so many electioneering jokes yesterday

In this week's spirit of thanksgiving and generosity, I feel like I should point out that Millet-Fig Muffins aren't terrible if you know what to expect, which is an aggressive, borderline-menacing flavor of healthfulness. Just don't introduce them to children as "muffins" lest they lose all faith in humanity or at least in you as a provider.

Fortunately, distraction was right around the corner in the form of this Buzzfeed breakdown of the epic, era-defining struggle between Martha and Gwyneth and their desire to wound each other through whipped-cream-based dessert items. Both Regan and Hillary sent me this link within seconds of its publication, so I know that my friends are there on the ground, always looking out, and that's a good feeling. It seemed obvious that the only way to settle this dispute was to take it to the people, and the largest dessert-eating population to which I have access is my extended family on Thanksgiving day. I knew what I had to do.

Spend all afternoon exhorting people to do their "civic duty."

Before I reveal the results of this rigorously scientific undertaking, let's take a closer look at the candidates and where they're coming from.

Candidate #1: Martha Stewart

Background: In October, Martha Stewart featured a spread on pies entitled "Conscious Coupling," an unsubtle dig at Gwyneth's recent, new-agey separation from Chris Martin. This title was a real stretch that had absolutely nothing to do with pie and everything to do with fanning the flames of a mild guru war that she herself had started for no apparent reason other than the realization that she had the ability to do so. Martha is a mean and kind of scary lady and that's part of why we like her.

Recipe: This is a phyllo dough-based chocolate mousse pie. Each layer of phyllo is brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with sugar. The crust is topped with a thin layer of solid semi-sweet chocolate, like a grown-up version of a Drumstick. This encases the bittersweet chocolate mousse and homemade whipped cream. The dessert is topped with chocolate shavings.

Candidate #2: Gwyneth Paltrow

Background: Gwyneth is an actress who seems to be trying her best. People give her a very hard time and often misspell her name. Every time Martha comes at her, Gwyneth responds in a manner that can best be described as "lame." In this case, after the "Conscious Coupling" feature made some waves, a recipe for "Jailbird Cake" was published on goop.com.

Recipe: This is a box of cookies squished together with whipped cream. It is actually the recipe from the cookie box.


Except they added more whipped cream, which made it worse and less cake-like.

This dessert is also topped with chocolate shavings.


Exit polling garnered responses varying from "They were both pretty good, I had a hard time deciding" to actual anger at the wasted calories. Thanksgiving is often a time of enflamed passions, and this contest was no exception. In the end though, there can be only one, and it is the lady who seems to have worn her prison uniform on the Today Show yesterday morning because that's how much she DGAF.

Martha's pie: 14
Gwyneth's cookie mush: 3

I know this is a dark time for Team Cake.

But I implore everyone, winners and losers alike, to remember one thing: this brickle is about a hundred times better than either of the above recipes.


Apple's Lament

Let's continue our pursuit of NoGwynber as it flits, it floats, it fleetly flees, it flies. By which I mean, I just got a notice from the library that this cookbook is due in a couple of days, and who even knows if it will be renewable? Who knows! Not me! Haven't checked! So now is the time to really embrace this sucker just in case I forget to ever investigate that possibility, maybe, somehow, peradventure.

How Gwynethy is the intro? "I don't eat red meat, but sometimes a man needs a steak." YES VERY GOOD 10/10. I bet you didn't realize you were getting a bonus relationship guide!

Substitutions: Again, I don't know that my anchovies were of "good quality."

Additions: "A Plain Roasted Sweet Potato," page 152, the non-recipe for which I am not going to dignify with its own entry.

Result: No idea, I only served this to Dan.

I like to imagine that she was punishing Chris for eating steak by insisting that it be smothered in tiny fish.

Super-Crispy Roast Chicken

How Gwynethy is the intro? "This dish is in heavy rotation at my home--the men in my house love it." Um. That's…that's going to be 9 or 10 points there. Yeah, probably a 9.5.

Substitutions: none

Additions: none

Result: The women in my house loved it.

How Gwynethy is the intro? "My beautiful daughter, Apple, is obsessed with mashed potatoes. She asks for them every day. As white potatoes are a nightshade (causing inflammation) and showed up as a no-no on her food sensitivity test, I devised this mash as an alternative." HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS THIS IS TOO SAD TO RANK. IT'S TOO SAD.




Really, the only thing we can do now is look to the future, with hope in our hearts.


At least I didn't try to climb into her lap, much

Guys guys guys! Guys. The goop Gift Guide is out. In order to properly adhere to NoGwynber, it is my understanding that I must compile my own Christmas list from Gwyneth's suggestions, so I thought I would mention it here in case you all want to start pitching in to a fund somewhere. Right now I'm pretty torn between something practical, like slippers, or something a little more extravagant, like nice jewelry. One thing is for sure going on there though, and that's this kitchen essential. Just have it sent here to the house, thanks so much in advance everyone!

In the meantime, chicken soup.

Chicken Soup with Kale and Carrots

How Gwynethy is the intro? "This bubbles on my stove all winter long--practically Jewish penicillin. The men in my house love this soup." Ugh. I feel like there is a LOT of paragraph in these two sentences. First of all, I want you to make a mental note of that "men in my house" thing because that's going to come up again later. And if this random page on the internet is accurate and she really embraced her Jewish ancestry in 2011, this is all pretttttttty Gwynethy. 8 out of 10.

Substitutions: cut up chicken pieces for a whole chicken because I believe in supporting the hardworking American butcher.

Additions: none, although in retrospect I really wish that read "noodles" instead.

Result: this is a fine, basic chicken soup that cries out softly for carbohydrate companionship. Cooking my own broth gives the house a homey, nostalgic smell that makes it seem worth the effort.

Also worth the effort: noodles.

Ivy's school pictures came back. She looks like a ghost from 1885.

We've been trying to update her look for the retakes, but we may have overshot it too far into the future.

P.S. I got to briefly meet Mallory Ortberg this weekend, and just wanted to emphasize how true it is that you should never meet your heroes. When they turn out to be super friendly and gracious about what a nervous weirdo you are it's really going to emphasize how much less great you are by comparison. Especially later, when you remember that you literally said the words "You are already perfect" to her, out loud. Better to admire them from afar, wrongly assuming that they have some manner of noticeable human flaw.


I wonder what Martha is doing right now

You know what name I never spent two entire blog posts stubbornly misspelling? "Martha." I'm just saying. Alas, let's proceed with NoGwynber, now with more accurate portmanteau assignment!

  • How Gwynethy is the intro? It's allllllmost fine until she suggests that you could "slip A Poached Egg on top," capitalized, because there is a recipe for such later in the book. 2 out of 10.
  • Substitutions: champagne vinegar for white wine vinegar, because I was trying to elevate this peasant food and also was out of white wine vinegar
  • Additions: none
  • Result: this was delicious, likely due to my use of champagne vinegar in the dressing

Sorry guys, dinnertime is really dark now. I am considering bumping it up to 4:00 pm.

This is probably the recipe that sounds most like a practical joke.

  • How Gwynethy is the intro? Name-drops a doctor, insists that something containing unholy coconut water "tastes so beautiful." 6 out of 10.
  • Substitutions: Boxed coconut water for fresh coconut water, this was probably my fatal error
  • Additions: a lot of sighing
  • Result:

Fortunately, mine is a well-stocked home (white wine vinegar notwithstanding), so I was eventually able to rinse the taste out of my mouth.

CENTRAL TEXAS WEATHER UPDATE: We have skipped directly from summer (high of 80) to winter (high of 40). We're totally fine with this, whatever, who likes autumn anyway, pleasant weather seems dumb.


Our next party theme will probably be "crackers"

This weekend I floated past one of my friends the idea of quietly slinking away from NoGwenber and proceeding with my life in a normal, additive- and allergen-filled fashion, and she reacted with what can only be described as genuine horror that I would even suggest such a thing. So here you go Alex, this bowl of pasta and cat food Brown Rice Pasta with Tuna, Olives, Fried Capers, and Parsley is for you.

Cat Food Pasta
  • How Gwenythy is the intro? "Brown rice pasta has many detractors, and for good reason. It doesn't stand up that well to sauces and doesn't have the same great chew as regular pasta." "This recipe was inspired by a meal I had made by Gavin Rossdale." Let' see…indicating that the following recipe will be significantly worse than normal versions of it, random name-drop, beautifully awkward phrasing implying that perhaps she just woke up one day and demanded that Gavin Rossdale produce an inferior pasta dish for her…yes, I'm going to award this a FULL GWENYTH. 10 out of 10 points.
  • Substitutions: brown rice shells for brown rice rotini, the only tin of anchovies at HEB for "good-quality" anchovy fillets, water-packed tuna for olive oil-packed tuna.
  • Additions: some of the water from the jar of capers (accidental), resulting in an astounding, almost spiritual level of saltiness.
  • Result: I actually liked this even with all the salt and the mushy pasta, but that might be because I was blasting "Swallowed" in my head throughout the meal.

you're the wave you're the wave you're the wave

When it came time to celebrate a third birthday, though, I had to choose which flaxen diva's inspiration to follow, and I went with my (highly adept at sugar-processing) gut.

Made a few of these:

Tossed 'em in this guy:

Rounded things out, get iteggs are round:

And free-handed an owl, because owls are the easiest.

Actually, if I may throw my fashionable hair-tie into the lifestyle recommendations ring for a moment? Let me just say that party-hosting becomes tremendously easy if you base your theme on whatever animal or character already occurs most frequently in your home. Look around you. Do you notice a LOT of, say, owls? There you go. When, on the day of the party, you realize that you and your husband both have shirts with owls on them, you will know that you made the right decision.

I think things turned out pretty well, although I worry that Ivy was disappointed that I didn't go with vegan cheesecake or something.

She does love tapioca starch.


It's All Goop

Well, I've done it. I've made another fateful trip to the cookbook section at my library. As deeply fulfilling as Martha Month was on every level, sometimes you just want to mix things up a bit and try something that sounds completely terrible, you know? So for the month of November, I've gone over to the other side of the hottest Lifestyle Guru Beef of our modern age--the wispy side.

When it comes down to it, they're both just very rich, slightly insane blonde ladies, but still, a winner must be crowned.

I grabbed "It's All Good" without actually flipping through it until I got home, which is fortunate for the purposes of this entry, because had I investigated further at the time I would be sitting here with no November project to share with you. The majority of recipes have a combination of difficult ingredients, time-consuming preparation, and irritating over-healthfulness that really brings out my apple-smushin' face. In order to preserve my sanity and discretionary income going into the holiday season, I had to promise myself that I would only use ingredients I could find at HEB and that I would not attempt one of the full weekly menus laid out in the back, no matter how hilariously disastrous they promised to be. With that in mind, let's get goopy, y'all!

  • How Gwenythy is the intro? "Fish tacos are always amazing with battered and deep-fried fish, a no-no for this book on many levels." 7 out of 10.
  • Substitutions: none, this is a very reasonable list
  • Additions: pile of fried potatoes on the side
  • Result: these are "very" good at best

  • How Gwenythy is the intro? It's a story about knowing a trainer named Bernado and stealing this recipe from him to give to her own trainer, a famous person whom she name-drops. 8 out of 10.
  • Substitutions: leftover canned pumpkin for roasted sweet potato, this was a laziness rather than an accessibility issue
  • Additions: the pit of the date and resulting Google search regarding the toxicity of said pit
  • Result: I wish people would't use the word "shake" for this sort of thing, but it did have a good flavor

At least that sickening crunch in the blender is not unfamiliar to me, as I do it every single freaking time.

Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers with Cucumber and Yogurt Sauce, Roasted Eggplant with Tahini Dressing, Date Molasses, and Mint

  • How Gwenythy is the intro? It's a pretty standard, appetizing couple of sentences. I suspect her co-author wrote these. 2 out of 10.
  • Substitutions: cow's milk yogurt for sheep's milk yogurt, freshly harvested honey for whatever "date molasses" is
  • Additions: hamburger bun
  • Result: I am adding "don't make two different yogurt sauces for the same plate of food" to my list of sanity-preserving rules

So, yeah, I don't know. This book promises to make you "look good and feel great," although judging by Gwenyth's own pictures it seems closer to making you "look like you're saying 'sup' and feel like you're constantly on the verge of tears."


"I just need a minute."


"I don't really want to talk about it."

"Sup. I think I might cry."

In other, better, news, Anna and I went to her school's International Fair last night, where people of various cultures shamelessly lured us with their native sugars.




Scotland won, though.

Kindergarten: my year of magical hatting.

I'm not bragging when I say that Anna had never tried soda before last night, but I am 100% bragging when I say her first soda was banana-flavored and from El Salvador.