I spell it "donuts" and I am too old to change my ways

Super Social Food League of Austin found itself at the end of January and themeless for the year, which led to an impromptu theme of "donuts for dinner."

In truth, it has probably been gestating for years.

For some reason, Regan insisted that we eat "real food" first. I defied her by only ordering fried things while she had a salad like some sort of grown up decision maker.

I will not be led astray from my theme, Regan.

We didn't go too crazy. I think we got a really, really normal amount of donuts.

If you've ever walked down 6th Street at night and thought "I wish more people would harass me while I try to get back to my car," I highly suggest carrying a big pink box of donuts with you. Works like a charm!

I was too busy eating normal amounts of donuts to take any pictures of my children this week, so here is a picture of EnnuiAnna™ from four years ago today.

You can almost feel the burden of a pleasant afternoon on the back porch.


Texas Winter PSA

Guys, I'm having a real "How am I supposed to make the coffee before I drink the coffee" sort of morning here, so let's just power through Battle: Fish as best we can.

Contender #1: Eating Well's Roast Salmon with Chimichurri Sauce.  

It said "serve with roasted broccoli and mashed potatoes" but somehow my eyes read "tater tots," weird.

Pros: tasted good, the fish was nicely cooked, came together quickly. Cons: forced me to use and therefore clean a food processor, generated way way way more sauce than the meal called for, offered several suggestions for using up the leftover sauce knowing full well I am going to leave the little container in the fridge until it seems safely past its prime at which point I will wash it down the sink and thereby making me feel guilty in advance.

Pros: hard to go wrong with mango and coconut milk. Cons: looks pretty terrible in photographs, I am a subpar pan-fryer of fish, only calls for 3/4 cup of coconut milk which means after you absentmindedly dump the whole can in the pot you have to do some math to increase all the other ingredients proportionally, also means you have a significant amount of leftover coconut rice, actually that last con is more of a pro.

Winner: ideally I would just pair the salmon with the coconut rice. Tie.

No blizzard here, but it did get cold enough for hot chocolate.

Not for pants.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Many people don't realize this, but cabin fever can strike on even the 70-degrees-est of days.

You have to be vigilant.


I did have to put on a coat this morning, if that helps


Late January seems like the perfect time for Battle: Soup. I mean, any time is the right time for soup. But especially when it's 65 and sunny every day which is why I put up with the ridiculousness that is August uh, FREEZING out, right everybody? Just...just the gloomiest. (I'm genuinely sorry if you are stuck in or about to be stuck in snow, you should probably reward yourself with soup afterward.)

Contender #1: Eating Well's Slow-Cooker French Onion Soup. I cannot judge this one accurately, as I failed to follow the very simple instructions and cooked all the ingredients together all day instead of letting the onions caramelize in the slow-cooker first. The correct way would have been better, I bet! But it was still good, because it was onion soup with cheese toast on top of it. 

Still good.

Contender #2: Rachael Ray's Black Bean and Kale Tortilla Soup. This looked like it was going to be more of a hassle than it actually was. And it was good! It didn't photograph well, but it tasted tortilla-soup-ish enough to pass.


Since both of these were good but didn't blow my socks off or anything, I'm going to leave it to Anna to apply her current test of heart-healthiness in order to determine a winner.

Also, we'll see where this list of "Heart Attack Warning Signs" is when she wants cheeseburgers tonight.

Winner: Rachael Ray, by absence of cheese and virtue of having directions that I actually followed.


Winner: YouTube, I guess

Hey guys, I don't have a head-to-head magazine battle for you today because Dan has been out of town for a few days and we've been eating cereal for dinner I've had my hands too full to document the very nutritious meals I've been preparing. Instead, we have a special project, courtesy of the Nerdy Nummies Cookbook the girls got for Christmas: UNICORN POOP COOKIES. (Warning--that link goes to a video. Everything about this project is...special.)

Before you get started, make sure you have the essential ingredients: seven bowls, twelve or so hours, a positive attitude:

"I am positive this is going to take all day." #momjokes

Have an enthusiastic six-year-old do the rolling of the dough, if possible. Do be prepared for the fact that she will likely turn seven at some point before the process is finished.

Tell her that this year instead of a cake she gets several piles of half-rolled dough.

Remember: in order to achieve an accurate rainbow, you must carefully roll out like eight hundred colors apparently.

It's a good chance for everyone to practice counting. To eight hundred.

There will be tears.

But also! The special joy borne of artificially colored sugar patties.

These cookies do not taste good, and also they have the word "poop" in the name. Your children will not care.

They will not look HALF as much like poop as those donuts I made that time.


A dark horse in the pasta competition

Can you believe it's already time for BATTLE: NOODLES? Man, this month is just flying by.

Contender #1: Eating Well's Spicy Cauliflower and Pancetta Spaghetti. Disclaimer: I took the magazine-provided option to un-spice it, which may have affected my enjoyment of it but was not an unsanctioned change.

I wanted this to be better, because it certainly seems like a very good combination of things. I think the main problem was that it is almost impossible to get a satisfying all-ingredient bite on your fork. All the good bits kept burrowing down underneath the spaghetti nest.

Contender #2: Rachael Ray's Butternut Squash and Brown Butter Linguine. Disclaimer: I used whole wheat linguine instead of regular because that was what was on sale at HEB.

This was considerably easier to make, but a little on the bland side for me. Look how pretty a big dollop of ricotta on top of dinner is, though!

Winner: this king cake Regan brought me from New Orleans.

Hey Regan this was only supposed to be two servings, right?

So far my favorite thing about Girl Scouts is the Walmart employee cosplay.


I have claimed neither fairness nor impartiality

I'm afraid BATTLE: BOOK CLUB is going to be a real apples/oranges chocolate/mushrooms sort of deal, but they can't all be a falafel-off, folks. (Furiously scribbles notes re: 2017 garbanzo-exclusive diet?) Turns out neither Rachael Ray nor Eating Well thinks that you need a wide selection of party-type appetizers for January, which, fine. But I do. I do need them every month just in case.

Contender #1: Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownies from Eating Well.

Ugh. Pumpkin anything in January seems like madness to me. We're past that now! Give me a king cake! Give me a peanut butter banana Elvis tribute! I was tired of pumpkin spice by the first week of October. Also, suggesting throw I throw the extra pumpkin into some oatmeal doesn't make these brownies healthy, but nice try guys. Still: chocolate.

Contender #2: Garlic Naan Flatbread Pizzas with Mushrooms. These came together pretty quickly and the preparation of them made the house smell really good. Those polled overwhelmingly (two or three to zero, I think!) chose this as the winner.

So it may come as a shock to you that I am declaring this round a tie, because I will NEVER give the win to mushrooms over chocolate, do you hear me? NEVER. NOT IN MY HOUSE.

Baby teeth vs. delicate emotions update: tooth number two jumped out in a laudable display of good timing.

And at the children's museum this weekend, Ivy upheld a long family tradition of watching other people have fun for at least half an hour before personally risking it.


It's so OBVIOUS what is WRONG with me

I have a confession to make. It is slightly shameful, but I believe in transparency in this space. (Deep breath) I was going to call today's food magazine skirmish "Battle of the Falafels."







Thanks to Dan for scooping up that dropped wordplay for me! Marriage/teamwork/chickpeas/etc.

Contender #1: Rachael Ray's Ultimate Falafel Patty Melts. (The linked recipe is the same except in the patty melt version you add a slice of dill Havarti.) This is "Rach's Burger of the Month," guys! The recipe said to get the biggest pita bread you could find, and the biggest pita bread I could find was naan. It worked out.

Making the falafel and the tahini sauce was kind of a hassle, but the sauce was nice and garlicky in a way that Dan and I appreciated and my daughters acted poisoned by.


Oh, hmm, I probably should have done the healthy version first because now I just miss the cheese. I miss the cheese so much.

Plenty of room in that bowl for cheese.

WINNER: Rachael Ray, by a slice of dill Havarti.

Hey, remember how Anna was carrying around that baby tooth on a string? Yeah, obviously she lost it almost immediately. Lucky for her I have not filled out any of the "Special Memories" pages in her baby book, so she has plenty of room to record her heartbreak for posterity.


She's staunchly resolved all year long, amateurs

Hey guys, how's the year going so far? Everyone still on whatever track you set off on a few days ago? Given the long holiday weekend it seemed prudent to take a much-needed break from the arduous cooking project I assigned myself, but we've still been making good dining choices over here in the meantime.

No better choice than greens and black-eyed peas on New Year's Day, obviously.

And in my book, cheese is always the right choice. Maybe a flourless chamomile almond torte sneaks its way in there, too. Maybe that happens.

Fine, you know what, sometimes your New Year's energy is flagging and choices are hard, okay? 

Honestly, I am only classifying this one as a regret because it was so difficult to eat. BE MORE USER-FRIENDLY, CUSTOM ICE CREAM SANDWICH. 

Food aside, we've also been trying out our new threads:

Minecraft glasses, t-shirt for her cousin's band, lost-tooth necklace complete with lost tooth inside. I've never seen anyone so ready to take on a new year/freak out her classmates. 

And embarking on some hometown exploration:

If there is a major university near you, I highly recommend that you go examine its statues because you never know when a WWI memorial is going to throw some mer-horses your way.

Through all the newness, though, we are committed to staying true to ourselves.


This year can stay perfect as long as I don't leave the house

Happy New Year! 

I hope last night's celebrations were satisfactory for everyone!

The key is focus.

2015 WRAP UP: 

  • We all survived intact, save one baby tooth
  • I started a teensy business and that is very exciting to me, still
  • I intended to read a lot of books. My second-favorite thing about New Year's, after black-eyed peas, is the feeling of intending to read a lot of books. I'm having it again, right now! It's great! Didn't really work out last year, maybe because I kicked off my "read a lot of books" mission with a dense 800-page 19th century novel and refused to forgive myself for not finishing it, which dampened my reading enthusiasm overall. HOWEVER! I have taken Middlemarch off of my "currently reading" shelf on Goodreads and I'm ready to move forward. This year kicks off with a...dense 800-page biography of Alexander Hamilton WAIT HEAR ME OUT it's different this time. It's different. This time I have a soundtrack. Speaking of which...
  • My official resolution for last year was to buy and closely listen to one new album every month of the year. I didn't quite make it, partly because the end of the year was so completely steamrolled by Hamilton, but it was an immensely satisfying project regardless, and one that I am tempted to try again this year. Here, in order of how likely they are to randomly pop into my head, are my albums of 2015:
1-46. Individual tracks from Hamilton

47. No Cities To Love, Sleater-Kinney. This would have handily won my album of the year award had I not fallen inexplicably in love with Aaron Burr. (Every time someone describes him as the "villain" of the show I am hurt and confused.)

48. Pageant Material, Kacey Musgraves. This is just a thoroughly enjoyable collection of music. Catchy, funny, Texan-in-a-good-way.

49. Carrie & Lowell, Sufjan Stevens. Do I necessarily want these songs to pop up in my head? Maybe not, since they tend to signal extreme emotional distress. Ivy's favorite track is the one that ends with a chorus repeating "We're all gonna die" over and over again. It is BEAUTIFUL music, but hoo boy. You've been warned.

50. Phosphorescent Blues, Punch Brothers. This is the kind of album I had to listen to several times before it all started clicking into place for me. That's not bad necessarily, sometimes the best music makes me work for it a little bit. After a month of listening to this over and over we went to see them live and it was pretty tremendous.

51. The Desired Effect, Brandon Flowers. I got this one because Chris and Andy of my dearly, dearly, so dearly departed Hollywood Prospectus podcast (RIP Grantland) couldn't stop raving about it and I think I would have liked it more if I were five years older or so. But if you are in the market for some 80s throwback, it delivers like whoa. This was Anna's favorite, for what it's worth.

52. Uptown Classic, Mark Ronson. I liked this at the time, but it didn't really stick around in my brain, maybe because it was last January's album or Uptown Funk exhaustion just shut down that whole section, I don't know.

53. The Magic Whip, Blur. I could not name a single non-title track from this album. Some people love it! It may just not have lined up with my overall mood for that month, I think I was expecting something slightly less mellow.

  • Cooking projects were disjointed, half-assed, and overshadowed by the constant melting of wax on my stovetop. Speaking of which...

On this sacred day of good intentions, let's set up another cooking project. Some online store or another (Dermstore?) keeps throwing in magazine subscriptions with my orders, to the point that I have about eight random magazines arriving each month. For January, I thought it would be fun to make two of them do battle.

The angel and the devil on my shoulder cookbook stand.

Just peeking inside the first page of each of these gives you a pretty good idea of the direction they're going:

Eating Well: Basket of gourds on a car that are still like six steps away from being edible. Plus drive time.

Rachael Ray: Sugar goo.


Rachael Ray's Zucchini Muffins vs. Eating Well's Winter Squash Muffins with Cranberries

These both tasted good, although I had a lot of trouble with the zucchini muffin batter for some reason. Most of them look like this:

Whereas the squash and cranberry all look exactly like the magazine picture:

Anna refused to eat either. Ivy only ate squash/cranberry. The zucchini muffins have four times as much added sugar but I don't think it really pays off in taste. In the zucchini's favor, it was a much, much simpler recipe to pull together, to the point that I almost decided not to bother with the other ones. WINNER: Eating Well, by a pretty long shot.

Anyway, time to start simmering black-eyed peas and continue not wearing pants. I hope your holiday is equally pleasant.