Monthly Archives: May 2015

What I’ve Been Reading

Surprise, kittens.  I read more books.  A full day of pouring rain at the cabin definitely helped me in accomplishing this.  With the exception of hausfrau, I would recommend all of them

Codex by Lev Grossman

Codex

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

The Sixth Extinction

hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

hausfrau

Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Dead Wake

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Friday Food Round-Up!

Welcome to Week 2 of the festival of new recipes!  This was really only a three day week for us and yet, there was still cooking!  I will admit it, I am proud of this.

Tuesday – Fragrant Chicken Coconut Curry with Green Beans and Sweet Potatoes from real food

Tuesday

I was looking forward to something a little bit more healthy after a weekend of pizza, ice cream, and onion rings at the cabin.  This, my friends, was disappointment city.  I had to make some sort of really intensive herb-lemongrass-jalapeno paste that for all of the work tasted like nothing.  So I guess the worse news is that this underwhelming dish filled my largest dutch oven and so I froze some leftovers for a rainy day.  I am banking on the fact that this will taste better when we need a meal in a pinch.  I will be throwing this recipe away.

Thursday – Zucchini-Feta Fritters with Hummus Dip from real food

Thursday

Y’all know I love a good fritter.  This one brought in a few flavors I have not frittered before: feta (no noticeable difference), lemon zest (yes!), and oregano.

Since the recipe proposed hummus as a dip, I used hummus as my protein instead of my go-to soft fried eggs.  It was a nice change.  I can’t say I would do it all the time, but I really enjoyed this meal and we will make it again.

Fitbit

I feel like I’ve done a good job of staying away from the Fitbit craze, but on Friday afternoon, I finally caved and ordered myself a Fitbit Zip.  I’m participating in a fitness/steps competition and I thought it might be nice to have something where I can collect data long after it is over versus a standard pedometer.

Even though there are some great perks to the wristband styles, I am incredibly allergic to nickel (allergic reactions to fitness trackers are well documented) so, they were a no-go.  Also, between my RoadID and running watch, adding ANOTHER wristband would be all too much to deal with.

Which is to say that I own this now.

Fitbit

It smiles.  How friendly.

I have already told Marcus that if I talk about my steps, etc., he has to stop me because there is literally nothing more annoying than people who have to talk about how many steps they’ve walked that day.  Literally nothing.

I also want to give a shout-out to Lis, who taught me how to find Fitbit friends.  Without her, I would be working my way to 10,000 daily steps all on my own.

Memorial Day Weekend

I took Tuesday off, so mine has been an (extra) long Memorial Day weekend.

Marcus and I headed up to the cabin on Saturday morning so that we could skip the traffic and still enjoy the day.  While it was gloom and rain in the cities, it was just lovely Up North.

Cabin 1

Cabin 3

The Reed’s grocery store in Crosslake has this really excellent maple glaze that they use on their donuts.  Over the winter, I cooked up this idea that it would probably be really good on a cake donut with rainbow sprinkles.  So I ate this breakfast three days in a row (coffee = hazelnut) and it was heaven.

Cabin 2

Apparently, this was also the weekend that the dragonflies were hatching.  So we watched all of these nymphs crawl out of the water and onto the grass to molt out of their bug-like shells and into dragonflies. The successful hatchlings would then crawl up a stem of grass to unfold and stretch their wings.  Our entire front yard was covered in a 1:1 ratio of dragonflies to grass stems for two days and it was super-incredible to see – you could barely walk across the yard for fear of stepping on a new dragonfly or a nymph working its way into the world!

Just call me…Mother Of Dragonflies.

Cabin 4 Cabin 5

I sat in the grass for at least an hour, watching this transformation take place over and over again.  It was truly incredible.Cabin 6

We also went on a few fishing outings.  The plaid life jacket is still going strong and so are the Northern Pike in Big Pine Lake.Cabin 7

Oh, and Billy moved home from Texas.  Forever.  So it was awesome to have him up at the cabin and know that he’ll actually be in Minnesota for every week until the end of time.

Cabin 8 Cabin 9 Cabin 10 Cabin 11

In case you couldn’t tell, I also took four days off from wearing make-up and styling my hair.  It’s just the cabin way.  I honestly don’t even know why I bothered to pack mascara this time.

 

Friday Food Round-Up!

This week, we tried all new recipes from the giant stack of untried recipes that I found tucked the folder pockets of my recipe binder.  It was a roller coaster, but it was a really great way for us to stretch ourselves, cooking-wise.

Sunday – Arepas with Corn Salad, Black Beans and Avocado

Sunday

I preface this by saying that I totally cheated with this dish.  I used a combination of masa harina and cornmeal because that is what we had around.  But even with that massive cheat (vs. arepa flour) in mind, arepa making was a disaster.

Do you want to know how I knew this recipe was ill-fated?  When I was mixing the dry ingredients and the amount of water to mix into the dry ingredients was not written on the ingredients list.  The amount of water listed (2.5 cups) totally drowned the dry ingredients, even after I left it to sit, so I added an additional full cup of masa to the mix to dry it out.

Other treacherous things: I burned my hand while frying them and I cut my hand while trying to slice them in half.  It was terrible.

This is to say nothing of the toppings.  bon appetit suggested the simple toppings of black beans with cotija and cilantro and a salad of corn+red onion+lime juice+parsley.  I am sure if you are on a No Seasoning diet or if you just really want to taste the flavor of the Earth, that would work.  To fix this flavor problem, I added cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne and olive oil to the corn salad and I made my own black bean recipe.  Both of these decisions were deeply redeeming.

Verdict: I am throwing this recipe away and no one should ever make it.

Monday – Lola’s Roast Chicken with Sambal Chimichurri, Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Parsley Dressing, Rice

Monday

Monday AKA More New Recipes Day!

The roast chicken came to us from Food and Wine.  Tasty, but not life changing.  I could list a number of other chicken recipes I would make before this one, so I think that is a sign.

The roasted cauliflower was from bon appetit and while I don’t feel like we need someone to teach us how to roast cauliflower, the parsley and lemon zest gremolata-arrangement was a really nice twist on the usual in my opinion.

Wednesday – Fried Chickpeas with Chorizo and Spinach

Wednesday

  1. I made this meal with breakfast sausage instead of chorizo because that is what we had.
  2. I didn’t broil it with breadcrumbs because that struck me as excessive.
  3. I added a healthy shake of red pepper flakes.
  4. OH MY GOD THIS WAS SO GOOD AND IT IS A KEEPER.
  5. I actually ended up going to my parents’ for dinner on Wednesday, so I made this on Wednesday, with the intention of bringing to work for lunch.

 

Styling Strategies.

Wardrobes have been a topic of hot discussion amongst my girlfriends lately.  With a few of them starting new jobs, and all of us engaging in massive purges of possessions, we’ve all been assessing what has been working for us and what has really not been working for us.  We may also be at the point where what works for us now is 100% different from what worked for us immediately post-college graduation and again that brings us back to all of the decluttering.

As we continue to swap strategies, it’s interesting to hear different perspectives on how our closets should look and how we should be dressing ourselves.  Emily, after attending one wedding, left with a friend counseling her to only purchase her clothing from one store, and after establishing a base wardrobe, to add 2-3 new pieces each season.

At first, I was taken aback by this strategy, because it seems so limiting.  One store only?  Even though this is not a strategy that works for me in a narrow way, I would agree that my closet is filled with clothing from some stores (Old Navy, Gap, Ann Taylor, LOFT, Target, Ralph Lauren), while there are others I know to stay away from because they just won’t fit right (Limited, Express) or others I can’t shop at because the selection is too overwhelming (Macy’s, Nordstrom).  So while on the whole it is not for me, it’s not so crazy after all.

The strategy I have employed since graduating college is the strategy of multiples.  Love it?  Does it feel good?  Does it fit well?  Does it look nice?  Awesome.  Buy it in more than one print/color.  To see this carried out in a practical way, here is a quick list of some of the “multiple” pieces I own:

  • J Crew Tanks (5)
  • J Crew Perfect Fit Long Sleeve Shirts (7)
  • Merona Nautical Striped Shirt (2)
  • Ann Taylor Cardigan (2)
  • Merona Cardigan (2)
  • J Crew Cardigan (2)
  • Merona Perfect Fit T-Shirt (10)
  • Merona Tunic Length Blouse (2)
  • LOFT Ponte Pants (2)
  • Old Navy Jeggings (2)
  • C9 Shorts (3)
  • JCrew Chino Shorts (4)
  • Merona Pencil Skirts (4)
  • Old Navy Wrap Dress (2)
  • LOFT Sheath Dress (2)
  • Lilly Shifts (5)
  • Brooks Half-Zip Running Top (3)

Which is to say that I have essentially given myself a uniform.  There are different colors/patterns/textures (and yes, I have more clothes in my closet than those I listed above), but at the end of the day, I just don’t have to think that much about getting dressed because it’s all sort of the same.  I can see how this totally wouldn’t work for people who derive a real joy from picking out a completely new outfit when they get dressed each morning.  For me, it’s enough not to worry about whether or not I’ll be comfortable at the end of the day.

What I’ve Been Reading

Happy Monday, kittens!   Here are a few of the latest books I’ve read.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken

Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit

Men Explain Things To Me

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian

Orhan4_pg2-HCjkt.indd