Important issues of the day

Dang, internet. We had some times yesterday, huh? I don't really know what to say except that I'm sorry about half of y'all's eyeballs and/or brains don't work right, it is clearly now and has always been a blue and black dress. The most interesting part to me was that a very tiny sample of married couples I know ALL proved to be houses divided on the issue, which makes me wonder if there is some mysterious force that attracts gold-and-white people to blue-and-black people. Take care of your gold-and-white partners, fellow blue-and-blackers. Their misguided senses make them vulnerable and they are probably feeling adrift today.

Anyway, here's something non-controversial, saltedtv.com's "Ultimate Vegetarian Starter Course"! I can't wait to learn how to be an ultimate vegetarian. Let's start with putting kale and spinach on a pizza, why not?

I tried to balance the half-assedness of store-bought pizza crust with kale that I actually harvested from the garden, but it didn't work. Half-assedness ruled the day. Did this recipe make me feel like an ultimate vegetarian? Yeah, salad on a pizza, pretty ultimate I guess.

Ah, here's something that sounds right up my alley: Warm Brussels Sprout Salad with a Poached Egg.

This salad is great! It also, ahhhh, 100% contains bacon. So. That's….you know. Does it make me feel like an ultimate vegetarian? No. No it does not. 

I was going to try the Parmesan and Tarragon Gnocci last night, but I was too sleepy to bother with it and also didn't have an entire side of brisket or whatever totally vegetarian item is probably hidden in there.

The disturbing pictures on my phone have taken a turn for the even more disturbing, so that's something.

What is it that you saw??

 I Swear I Sat Down Intending To Start Watching Middlemarch There Was A Cup Of Chamomile Tea And Everything Update: hahahahaha, it is no longer streaming on Amazon. I was equal parts irritated and hugely relieved at this development, but later I thought to check some other streaming services and there it was! Waiting for me on Hulu. So I am still not watching Middlemarch even though I totally could be doing so.

There Are Stacks of Candles In My House Update: hmm, kind of gave away the update in the title of that one. Do you want an experiment candle that wasn't exactly what I was going for? There are about ten, I think. I will send you one! I realize there is some sort of impenetrable force field around my comments section, but I will accept requests via Twitter/FB/email/rock with a polite note tied to it through my window.

Anyway. Take care of yourselves out there. This is a new and uncertain world we live in. Unless you saw blue and black, I guess, then the world is fine, carry on.


Watch your honey pots, Austin

Oh, you guys. I think Regan was a little disappointed in the fact the only two of you voted on our SSFL faces, and one of the voters was my mother, and she voted for a third-party candidate. But honestly, voter turnout was slightly higher than I expected! I probably should have warned her that at this point in my blogging life I only ask for feedback in an ironic, postmodern sort of way. Like, I may as well ask you guys to call me from your landline rotary phones. Or print out some mimeograph copies of your opinion and fax them over. Or send a raven! I don't know, now I've convinced myself that there are actually many, many ways for you to be participating and I am also a little disappointed. Anyway, Swistle's vote carries the day, which, in a better world, is how most things would be decided. Regan's face/my inventive cruelty is the winner!

I thought about doing some cooking this weekend, but other people had already done so much work on that front and I didn't want to steal anyone's thunder. Counter Cafe, for example, had a breakfast special that made me think "yes, I really should be eating collard greens first thing in the morning far more often."


And Heidi, she of the baffling and impressive Pinterest follow-through, threw a camping-themed sixth birthday party and there were cupcakes on top of logs and S'mores marshmallows and, I mean, come on.

It's not all fun and games and cupcakes, though! Winter is (finally) (sort of) coming (for a couple of days)! We hustled to get our yard work done:

Then we braced ourselves.

Cash seems unfazed, but I suspect the Loontjers are just from heartier stock.

We found appropriate shelter.

Turns out it was all pretty much for nothing, though, since the freezing temperatures didn't coincide with the precipita--what's that? A two-hour delay? For…for gray skies, again? Okay. That's fine. We're fine with that.


(Belabored, glue-impaired wink)

If Super Social Food and Makeup League of Austin wasn't going to go ALL OUT on Mardi Gras, what would be the point? I mean, have you even considered that? The point? Of any of it? I sure did while hovering near my bathroom mirror around 6 p.m. on Tuesday night! But I'm getting ahead of myself. Regan and I headed out to Sawyer & Co. to put the Fat in Tuesday, because we could go any number of places and get deviled eggs as an appetizer, but a holiday calls for the involvement of praline bacon:

And also, cheese fries with brown gravy and jalapeƱos.


And I wouldn't recommend this to everyone, but as leaders in our field we knew it was our responsibility to bring it all home with some pie.

So I would say the food side of things went pretty tremendously. We tested our physical digestive limits and came out stronger, or at least slightly larger, for it. But there were other limits to be tested. Emotional. Psychological. Eyelid-strength-related.

Here is what my face looks like, more or less:

Bonus: the hoodie I once gave birth in.

Here's my, ah, stunning transformation using the stick-on velvet sequined eyeliner that Regan bestowed upon me:


However uncomfortable you think that looks, multiply it by 200. Like, if given a choice between four hours of stick-on velvet sequined eyeliner and giving birth in a hoodie again, I would have to give it some real consideration.

I can't give you a "before" picture of Regan, because frankly I do not even remember what she looked like before I made her put these things on her face, nor do I want to:

Here's what you don't see in a still photograph: the way they cartoonishly SPROINGED up and down every time she blinked. I am laughing right now, thinking about it. A lot.

Here is the general range of reactions I expect from strangers when we parade around in this nonsense: amusement, confusion, embarrassment on our behalf, nothing at all because Austin/weirdness. Here is what I was actually pretty surprised by this time around: the veeeeeeeerrrrry thinly-veiled hostility of our waitress. She was not okay with our shenanigans. She probably spit in our brown gravy. Maybe she was operating on GMT and it was already Ash Wednesday in her mind? Maybe she assumed we were going to be obnoxious drunks, despite all Topo Chicos to the contrary? Maybe she was just jelzzzz and haters gonna hate? We'll never know. What I do know is that we have set the bar very, very high on this particular social experiment, and that we think we're joking now about making each other bust out with some vaping mid-meal but we'll see how things are going in a year or so.

Anyway, because we are sort of aimlessly competitive, we would like for the internet to declare a winner among losers for this round, although I'm not sure what qualities would constitute a win. Picking the most punishing accessory? Or enduring it? Eh, whatever, just vote for which look you like the best, knowing that if I had GIFed up Regan's SPROING it would be no contest.

Let's close out on a happy note, with Ivy singing her favorite song.

"You are my sunshine!
My only sunshine!
You make me happy!
When pies are great!"


I'm the low hiss telling you something's amiss / When you hear the sound

 I don't know about you guys, but in our house we have MARDI GRAS FEVER today!

Okay, so it's…it's actually just regular fever, and it is pretty miserable. Fortunately for us, Ivy stepped up to the plate and saved Pancake Tuesday.

Although frankly, I think she may have overdone it a bit.

All we've really got going right now is "being sick" and that's pretty boring, so how about some general updates?

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION UPDATE: This is going really fantastically well. This month's album is No Cities To Love by Sleater-Kinney and I love it so, so, so much. It makes me feel 16, but in a good way this time. When I listen to it while doing chores I feel like I am absolutely slaying those piles of clean laundry, you guys.

I AM GOING TO SELL YOU SOME CANDLES SOON UPDATE: I've got 50 pounds of soy wax coming this afternoon. I might just clear out the playroom and dump it all in there so I can roll around in it like Scrooge McDuck.

I GAVE UP ON READING MIDDLEMARCH, LET'S SEE IF I CAN PASSIVELY WATCH IT INSTEAD UPDATE: I have now made exactly as much progress on the miniseries as I had made in the book, as long as we are rounding down to the nearest zero.

Anyway, have a really great Fat Tuesday, everyone!

Don't do anything this guy wouldn't do!



Mother of Cheeses

I felt so guilty about all of my recent culinary slacking that the moment I hit publish on my last post I entered the kitchen, fists clenched in determination, and have just now emerged, seconds ago: tired, dirty, victorious, and slightly over-full of dairy. It's like when (4-YEAR-OLD SPOILER) Daenerys walks out of the funeral pyre except I'm wearing yoga pants and there's a half-eaten cake on my shoulder. What did I accomplish?

1. I made a simple but very tasty spaghetti dish. It reinforced a lesson I have learned many times, which is that pasta + tomatoes + basil + cheese = TRIUMPH.

I even sprung for the extra fancy cheese, thus ensuring that the dish was sufficiently buffalo-flavored.

You can practically taste the horns.

2. Unsatisfied with merely purchasing a slightly exotic cheese, I made my own paneer. You may recall that my last experiment with cheesecloth went terrifically awry. This one was…better?

Very elegant.

Okay, perhaps cheeseclothwork is not my forte. But if you do watch the video, please note that no one seems to be hollering "Pick me uuuuuuuuuuuuuup, Mommy" at Simon Majumdar for the entirety of the process.

It's possible that they removed that in post.

3. I made my own naan. You may recall that my last experiment with cooking on an open flame went terrifically awry.


4. I PULLED IT TOGETHER, NAAN-WISE, and added Tandoori Chicken, Saag Paneer, and Chili, Cilantro, and Mint Raita Dip.

This was delicious and also the most effort I have exerted on anything since probably 2012 or so. 

5. I realized my mistake w/r/t dairy products and purchased some delicious, dependable burrata for a Burrata and Peach Salad.

The Week of the Dairy Dollop

6. I made a chocolate cake!

It did sink quite a bit in the middle, which makes it look like it should be filled with ice cream, a mistake I am only now comprehending.

Why didn't I fill it with ice creeeeeeeeeam?

I also finished reading Middlemarch! Haaaaaaaaaaaaa, just kidding, obviously, I do still need time to sleep and be whined at by children and obsess over the exact right proportion of cedar fragrance to honey fragrance in a soy wax candle. BUT I did discover that the 1994 BBC version is streaming on Amazon. So, good news! We can all stop wondering how long it will take me to read 800 pages and start wondering how long it will take me to watch a nine-hour miniseries.

What do you want now, an amusing picture of children? Don't you think I've done enough this week? Fine. I did try to give Ivy and the chocolate cake the holding-up-the-Tower-of-Pisa-with-one-finger treatment, with approximately homemade-paneer-level results.

Hee. Look at her eat that giant cake!

And also, because I'm a giver who cannot stop giving, here is a little Valentines throwback from the Smiley Sisters to get this happy weekend started right:



A good and productive weekend

Wow guys, I have some huge, huge Salted TV ambitions this week. Like, entire "Indian Cuisine Bootcamp" course in one day ambitions. I might make pasta. I MIGHT MAKE A CHOCOLATE CAKE. Which I why I thought it was probably wise to take the weekend off entirely, for resting up. The four-day weekend. Just to be safe.

That doesn't mean we weren't busy! We did tons of stuff.

Frolicked in the toy store:



Posed for our album cover:

(Happy birthday, Scarlett!)

Let our guard down for just long enough to betray actual joy on camera:


Imprisoned ourselves, just for kicks:

And the next time I find myself with no pictures of food to show you, I will take my cue from Anna and try to pass off a bowl full of raw produce as "non-broth stew."

I like the way she thinks.


Sea life, sexy and scary

Happy Friday! Nearly the weekend! Future's so bright we gotta wear three dozen pairs of shades!

Ugh, I am sorry for this. Don't look directly under the hat. I think it might be Cthulhu.

Yeaaaaah. I don't know if I should delete that game or just bury my entire phone deep within the earth and burn some sage over it. While I decide, let's check in with my Salted TV curriculum.

I'm back to picking and choosing recipes, although I think watching an entire "course" is a little more entertaining. Maybe next week. First up, the inexplicably named "Sexy Mermaid Pan Fried Cod."

This is a normal, acceptable variation on pan-fried fish, but that name. Is this what the sexy mermaid eats for dinner? Did the sexy mermaid prepare this for us in her inimitable sexy way? Is this…are we eating the sexy mermaid? Like some sort of under-hat sea-monsters? B+

Okay, next up is---AAAUGH NOOOO.


Sorry. Pink Coleslaw. Next up is Pink Coleslaw.

The main thing pink coleslaw has going for it is the potential to appeal to the girl child who categorically refuses to be associated with any colors other than pink or purple at the moment. This is a different approach to the age of three than that of her sister, who spent fourteen months wearing a black baseball cap morning and night, and we are all trying to adjust to the change.

The main drawback of pink coleslaw is that this type of recipe taps into my very specific, counterproductive style of laziness, wherein I create a huge amount of work by attempting to avoid a small amount of work. In this instance, I will: 1) look at the large pile of vegetables to be shredded; 2) briefly consider getting out the food processor attachment that would dismantle them quickly; 3) reject that option, as it requires opening the pantry door and leaning over and having to plug something in; 4) spend 35 minutes grating vegetables by hand instead.

I would say this dish was a success with the children, in that they did not really eat any of it, but they did tolerate the pile sitting in front of them without complaining. B+

When Ivy is forced into a non-sanctioned color, she tries to keep it incognito.