Upon reflection, it looks like I chewed, slurped and gnawed my way through the long weekend. Which I totally did. Between masaman kai (that i found a recipe for, and will replicate soon) and 2 slabs of falling-off-the-bone BBQ pork ribs (I did not eat them entirely on my own) and laab gai and bagels and waffles with turkey-apple sausage and figuring out how to make lychee mojitos…well…
This week’s menus are going to be altered. I am going to eat a head of cabbage today.
A bag of carrots tomorrow
and a bunch of broccoli on Thursday. I actually don’t like broccoli very much.
I need fiber. Lots of fiber.
TMI? Too bad. Lord knows I’ve revealed more personal things here.
My gut is saying NO MORE! And frankly, rich and spicy foods are not very appealing. The menus (planned 2 weeks ago) read something like this:
lime chicken tacos (ugh)
BBQ pork sandwiches on grilled corn flatbread (UGH!)
…then it’s time to make more menus.
I don’t know yet what they’re going to be changed to, but you can bet your sweet bippy there will be no lime chicken or BBQ pork.
So I was thinking about the past couple of days. Then I read a friend’s post where she talked about the past couple of days and how her time was pretty much all spent kicking videogame ass. The I thought a about the past few days again and realized how much of it involved FOOD.
I tell you what, food seems to be a really important thing in this household. I mean really. No wonder I am so zaftig.
Ok let me break it down for you. Friday Terry and I went to Atlanta. Most of the plans we made involved where to eat and when. He has a crackberry, so I was able to get online as we were traveling (I will never fail to be astonished by that, getting on the internet WHILE IN A CAR) and figure out what restaurant was where and which was the most efficient way to plan our route so as to cram as much food into the short time we had.
Then Friday night was spent figuring out which of the myriad restaurants within walking distance of our hotel (which had 2 restaurants of it’s own, but we wanted to get off the excessivly hip premises, as it was making us both nervous) we would visit. We chose The Tamarind Seed, where I learned of the existence of the lychee mojito, and Terry decided green pickled peppercorns were The Next Great Thing, and put both on the long list of culinary Must Haves.
The next day was spent in search of more food. Some people go to a big city to look for antiques (I’m telling you, the second hand stores on a road like Peachstree Street or Ponce De Leon Avenue are in a WHOLE different class from the Goodwill Store in Statesboro), or to shp for clothes or to go to clubs…not us. We look for food. A place like Atlanta is heaven for us, with it’s huge ethnic variety. The Dekalb Farmer’s Market, Asian groceries in Chamblee, Dim Sum…heaven heaven. Much food was aquired.
Then Sunday…what did I do? I cooked. And cooked. A trip to Atlanta always inspires. First, BBQ ribs. Someone online told me of oven steaming the ribs, then grilling. They were falling off the bone perfect. I made my own rub, then my own whiskey sauce that even met with CJ’s approval and he’s really picky about stuff like that. While the ribs were cooking I got a hankering for laab gai spring rolls. Laab gai is a Thai chicken salad, full of lemongrass (Got some in Atlanta!)and mint (in the garden!)and seasoned with fish sauce (check!) and lime juice (yay!). Not the least complicated thing, but I wanted some to go with the lychee mojitoes. Terry cooked corn on the cob (fresh yellow corn from the DFK)and we ate. And ate. and ate. and drank some booze. And ate some more.
Today will involve leftovers: corn, ribs, laab gai (will make it into more spring rolls OR I might give the new rice steamer a go and make sticky rice).
So much of my world seems to revolve around food. I have a friend who’s on some kind of diet like Atkins where all she can eat is protien and she gets these packets of stuff so she doesn’t have to cook much. The stuff tastes nasty, but she’s ok with it. I would not be ok with nasty food. I have to have the good stuff, homemade. Whenever I eat out, if the food is particularly delicious, I take the dish apart, analyze it, try to figure out
what it’s made of and if i can replicate it at home. Then I’ll do just that. Like the lychee mojito. Soon I’m going to attempt the masaman kai I had for dinner Friday night. (hm…chicken, potatoes, pearl onions…I’ll use vidalias…masaman curry-got some at the Asian market-coconut milk…avocados…serve it with sticky rice…here it is 7am on Sunday morning and I want some NOW)
Some people have a passion for music, or fine clothes, or books, or their yard. Some like to relax playing video games, or watching old movies, or tinkering with their new RC car. I like to cook. To analyze a recipe and figure out how to improve it, and then to eat the results. It’s why I am…y’know…Zaftig.
Filed under: aaawwwww, food, In The Southland, oh you self indulgent hussy!, Rest and Relaxation, spouse
One of the things Terry says is that the way to stay in love is to remember how you got there in the first place. That’s been helpful, going over old memories and planning fun together.
In the interest of Fun, we went to Atlanta Friday, spent the night in a fabulous hotel- so fabulous that a model flung herself out a 10th floor window and died…we didn’t find out about that until we left and saw a couple of policemen looking stern and refusing to tell us what happened (“Watch the news.” said he)as other people strung up black curtains around an area while an ABC cameraman filmed the whole thing. Since we were on the 20th floor and didn’t watch local news, we were clueless.
The good news is this: I found the room via hotwire, and paid about 50% of the advertised rate. That was nice. Then I mentioned that we were celebrating our 25th anniversary (which we do on Memorial Day weekend because it’s halfway between our legal wedding and our religious one in July, which also happens to be CJ’s birthday) so the very hip young man who was checking us in said “oh you need a nicer room…here…I’m putting you on the 20th floor with a skyline view” Woop! Boy was it nice. BOY WAS IT NICE. The view was amazing- you could see downtown Atlanta, and Kennesaw Mountain off in the distance, and some other mountain. Huge down pillows-a whole PILE of them on a bed the size of Piedmont Park- which was about 200 yards up the way. Colony Square with it’s jumble of fabulous restaurants was about 100 yards up the other way. We ate at The Tamarind Seed, a Thai place where I swear I wanted to lick the bowl that the Masaman Kai (a chicken curry with avocados)came in, and I had 2 lychee mojitos that the waiter (who was barely English speaking South Asian, but delightful and pleasant)said the bartender said “no more, all out of lychee” which is just as well because they were quite large, refreshing and strong. I tend to laugh alot when there’s enough liquor involved, and EVERYTHING was funny that evening.
After a long and lovely sleep, Terry brought me coffee in bed (!!), we got dressed, and checked out only to see grim looking policemen standing guard while people strung up black barriers around the outdoor bar area. No one would tell us why, but when we called David to see how things were at home he said “Hey- were you at that hotel where 2 drunk women fell out of a window and one of them died?” I reckon so! Checking the news we found out that yes, we were.
Then we went shopppppiiiiiing. Culinary Disneyland, y’all. The Dekalb Farmer’s Market, 170,000 square feet of every kind of food,spice,grain, beer, fruit, veg, tanks of live fish and shellfish…the Happiest Place On Earth. I am now stocked up on cardamom, sesame seeds, all kinds of dried herbs and spices and cheeses (harlech somerdale y’all, it’s where it’s at. A sharp cheddar with horseradish in it O YES)and ginger and lemongrass and 25 pounds of onions for a friend who’s going to swap them for her best pickles ever. Happy sigh.
THEN we went to an Asian market on Chamblee-Tucker Blvd…that area is Hispano-Thai-Viet-Cuban. Srsly. This shop I like is right next to a Taqueria and a Latino-Vietnamese dentist/pawn shop. I got a rice steamer what looks like an aluminum spitoon with a cone shaped basket that fits into it. I was heavily questioned by the staff of the shop as to my ability to use it, and received a detailed lesson on Proper Sticky Rice Preparation. We love sticky rice here, and I am excited about being able to make it properly.
THEN we went up the road about 1/2 a mile to The Oriental Pearl, for their excellent Dim Sum. There is something special about eating in an Asian restaurant and being the ONLY white people there. The place was nearly packed, the staff was courteous and didn’t mock me for using a fork. Terry managed chopsticks nicely, but for some reason my hands were shaky that day, and I needed the security of a fork. Man, their sticky rice is good- they wrap it in a banana leave to cook it, and it knd of gets that toasty green banana leaf flavor in it a bit. yum.
And then we were full. After a desultory attempt at some more shopping, we decided to head back home. The time was spent discussing what trip to make next. Terry has 10 days off in July, I still have some funds squirrelled away, and we do so love travelling together.
Next up: A trip up through the Smokey Mountains of North Ga, Tennessee, and Kentucky. We considered a Low Country trip as far as Kill Devil Hills, but decided the mountains would be cooler.
The whole time was filled in with holding hands, talking about anything, everything and nothing, and simply being happy to be together. It was kind of fun being in such a hip and happening place as Midtown Atlanta, and being such a…well…unhip and unhappening sort of couple, yet not caring about that at all…I was just happy to be there with my favorite person.
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can’t really tell you about it, tho. However, in an attempt to escape drama for a day or two, and perhaps even recover sensibilities and cease with the constant anxiety, Terry and I are going to Atlanta tomorrow, will stay in a fancy hotel for one night,eat at a couple of tasty places (one is a sure thing, the other is a recommendation) and buy some foodstuffs.
Suffice it to say that the drama has been coming from all directions, Terry’s work, our marriage, trying to get the house ready to sell (and failing), pretty much everywhere except (for once!) the kids. It’s been so tense that my hands are breaking out in blisters and have consumed a shameful amount of alcohol in a very short time.
There’s been panic attacks, frustrations, miscommunications and hurt feelings. We have settled what we could here at home. So that’s a BIG relief. Work is still…really, really tense. Yes, he is employed, but there’s other stuff I can’t talk about. If you are a praying sort, pray for wisdom and courage for Terry and his employer.
So in the interest of reminding each other exactly *why* we are married, we’re taking a short road trip to one of our favorite places.
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I am in dire need of some happy. tell me a joke, send a funny link or a picture that makes you laugh. Life in the Toot household is kind of crunchy right now, so give a sister a laugh,please.
Filed under: In The Southland
I remember as a kid, playing kickball with the neighbors until it got too dark to see, then catching fireflies, then running home to see if it was OK to spend the night at Linda’s (always better there, her mom would make pancakes and they had store bought syrup- real thick! My mom would make whole wheat sugarless pancakes and make this stuff to pour on them from water and imitation maple flavoring and a little bit of sugar, never enough) where was I…Oh and Linda always had Froot Loops or Super Sugar Crisp or some such. All we ever had was homemade sugarless granola. I thought of them as horseoats, but never out loud because that would make me ungrateful. Where was I? oh yeah…
Summer in the south smells like hot pine straw. The pine needles get so dry they crackle under your feet, then when it rains (nearly every afternoon at 4) you can smell them, hot and turpentiney. If you walk barefoot you’ll get balls of pine sap stuck to your feet. The sap drips from the trees and gets everywhere- on your car, anything outside. You can throw pinecones at your friends too, pretend they’re hand grenades…the pinecones, not the friends.
The neighborhood swimming pool was about a mile away,half of the walk was in the shade, the other half through and open, scorching hot field that made you grateful to get there. I’d go about 10am, and stay until 2 or 3. I honestly don’t remember every putting on sunscreen other than the iodine/babyoil stuff. Thanks to an Armenian great-great grandmother and another one who was Kiowa Indian, I tanned easily and never burned. Around 2 or 3 I’d go home, exhausted and happy, and stop in the garden to pick a fresh sun-hot tomato. Soon there would be a delicious sandwich- Roman Meal bread, thick slices of tomatoes and a slice of that cheap cotto salami (the one with the peppercorns in it) all slathered with mayonnaise. I can taste it now. and my mouth is watering.
Sometimes the day was spent outside under a tree, reading a book, or in Mom’s studio, parked at the sewing machine, making a new shirt or a doll’s dress.
We lived in the back end of a neighborhood, on a street that was a circle, and everyone knew everyone else, who belonged there and who didn’t. We were in and out of each other’s houses all the time, getting a drink of water or KoolAid, a popsicle, a bandaid. My next door neighbor’s house was particularly popular because she had a huge game room of her own, and her father would make us very weak Manhattans. Another house was popular because she had a playhouse in the backyard, and her father got Playboy magazines that we could look at. Bill’s house had a basement with a pool table, Scotty’s had a trampoline, Linda’s had woods and a big creek behind it with huge vines you could swing from (although we were told not to because they might break and we’d fall into the creek, crack our heads open on a rock, and die)
Transistor radios playing The Eagles, the Doobie Brothers, BeeGees,Donna Summer and Sister Sledge. Making up dance moves, imitating older siblings or making fun of them, discussing who was foxy (Leif Garrett) and who was not (The guy who played Horshack)…
What do you remember about Summer as a kid?
Summer is definitely here. The weather forecast predicts days in the mid-high 90′s for the rest of the week, and even at 7am the air conditioner is blowing and ceiling fans are on. I love ceiling fans.
Anyway, in the interest of Summer, (and assuming I am not whisked away in the Rapture sometime this afternoon), everything is all lined up to take advantage of the cool A/C and wonderful produce available at the local Veg stand.
sewing. A friend is going to Chicago for a wedding next week, and wants her 3 daughters to have coordinating outfits. She asked me to make them and i am having a BLAST doing it. The daughters are 13,6 and 3, and making outfits that are age appropriate, coordinating but not matching, that pleases both very conservative parents and still manages to be something the girls will wear (ok, the 13 yr old will wear, the younger ones are easier to please) has been a challenge but enormous fun. I fininshed the 13 yr old’s first- an ivory circle skirt with a matching circle slip (the ivory fabric is thin and requires another layer), and the slip has an olive green tulle ruffle on it that peeks out from under the hem of the skirt *and* a wide sash made of the print fabrics that the younger girls dresses are made of. She loved it. Dad loved it because it’s long enough (just above the knee). The younger girls have print dresses with a coordinating print trim, and ruffles made of the same tulle on the older sister’s skirt, and long pantaloons to wear under the dresses.
cooking: as it’s going to be really hot, and who wants potroast or meatloaf when it’s 97 outside and you’ve been working in a 110 degree mill all day? not Terry, nor CJ. David has been put to work here doing yardwork, and starts school and (hopefully) a new job Monday, and Eli is being forced to spend lots of time outside at school- they’re done with the
curicullui currucul…er..classwork in all but math and science, so the teachers shoo them outside for kickball and sweatiness the rest of the time, and he comes home hot and tired, therefore meals are salads and sandwiches.
We love fancy sandwiches. Last night: grilled chicken sliced thin, sliced tomatoes (from the local veg stand-FABULOUS!), fresh mozzerella sliced, fresh microgreens (from the garden) and pesto mayonnaise (jarred pesto, as the basil isn’t up good yet) on grilled ciabatta rolls. y’all….YUM. Just mix a heaping spoonful of pesto with a big blob of mayo…MMmmMMMMMmm.
Tonight will be a grilled steak caesar salad. Emeril has a great caesar dressing that I’ve made before and is really easy. I’ve learned to keep a tube of anchovy paste handy, so I don’t have to open a whole can of them to get just 1 or 2 filets to make the dressing. Gonna slice a loaf of french bread, rub it with garlic and grill it to go with. The whole rest of the week is sandwiches and salads and grilled stuff, so the kitchen won’t get hot and I can put David to work cooking. He’s quite the master at the grill, having worked the grill at Dairy Queen for a year.
So let me ask you this: Do you have any favorite salad and sandwich recipes you can share?
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I think everyone has a go-to thing for whatever situation comes up. I have them, and as compulsive as it seems (c’mon Rootie! Show some IMAGINATION! Where’s your
spontinaet sponteniet darn it…”the act of being spontaneous”)
Well, if you haven’t learned anything about me YET, know this…I am a creature of habit, and once I find something I really like, that works well, I am loathe to replace it, to branch out and find something else that might be better because, DARNIT, I am COMFORTABLE with what works.
Like tacos. Let’s say it’s 7pm on Sunday night, and #4 has just been dropped at church for youth group, which lasts until 8:30. Let’s say because it’s Sunday,nothing has been cooked all day,that whole “Sabbath Day Of Rest” thing is taken very seriously, and that includes not cooking. There is nothing restful about having to prepare 3 meals and set the table and rush rush because it’s 1pm when we get home from church and everyone is starving. it’s much nicer to throw up the hands and just say ‘you’re on your own, I’m taking the day off’ So, may Sunday evenings, while #4 is at youth group, Terry will say “lets go get tacos” and El Sombrero will benefit from this. Besides, you can get 3 lovely tacos for $4, and all the chips and salsa you want. For less than $10, we get tasty food. Do I ever say “Let’s go to Sonic and get a burger” or “Gosh I’d love some chicken strips from GoodBirds”? No. Tacos from El Som. Every time.
Then there’s the nail polish. I like to keep my toenails pretty in the summer, because of sandals. It’s really the only region of vanity on this body. And there is, yes,a go-to nail polish color. Because I know it works. “Wood Violet” which is actually not a violet at all, not even remotely, but more like a muted creamed cranberry. It’s pretty and I like it. Not long ago a 13 yr old friend gifted me with a bottle of cobalt blue nail polish, and WOAH talk about outside my comfort zone but I kinda love it!
I shop from 2 clothing catalogs, eat the same thing at familiar restaurants (why risk getting something you don’t like, having to pay for it, etc? We eat out so seldom I don’t see any reason to NOT get something I know I like!), wear the same brand of shoes, use the same brand of teabags, peanut butter, movie director (tho that’s changing,since getting Netflix and not haing to spend extra money on a movie I might not like). I read the same authors (even tho it doesn’t cost a penny to read a different one…I hate the thought of wasting time on a bad book).
When we go to Atlanta, there’s no “Let’s see what’s in Buckhead!” no…it’s lunch at the Oriental Pearl (DIM SUM!!), then a visit to the Asian Market in Chamblee, with it’s indecipherable sauces and myriad noodles and occasional keffir lime leaves, then on to The Dekalb Farmer’s Market for CHEEEEEEESE, Gromit!,
and Atlanta’s an enormous place with much to offer beyond Dim Sum and Cheeeeese, but I know what’s where and other than an occasional foray into Little Five Points where Terry and I stick out like aliens from Andromeda (LFP is…shall we say, where the Alternative Types hang out, and not being Alternative, we wind up being VERY Alternative in that venue),but that only happens if we’re both feeling Brave.
So ok, maybe I am turning into one of these people who always eats pork chops on Tuesday, well not really, because reality is there is rarely a repeated recipe in this household, food being one area where adventure happens (unless it’s Sunday), but you know what I mean…if it works why change it? If it’s comfortable,why risk discomfort?
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I have Systems. The week is orderly, each day defined by what’s to be done, when and how. There’s also Food Systems. Cooking a meal is more than just cooking for the 3, 4 or sometimes 5 and occasionally 6 people, there’s also the lunches for the next day for 3, 4 or sometimes 5 and occasionally 6 people. So that means 3, 8 or sometimes 12 servings..and that’s ok, because I’m efficient like that.
However, sometimes the system doesn’t quite work out like it ought. Sometimes someone doesn’t show up for supper, no big deal, more leftovers for the next day. Sometimes an extra person shows up, that’s ok too, it translates into a sandwich for someone’s lunch (usually mine). Last night tho…it didn’t work out. Someone didn’t show up, which was fine, but somehow the leftovers didn’t work out quite right either. All the way home from taking #4 to school I was thinking about the leftovers…this is what was fixed last night and let me recommend it to you, and don’t leave out the cardamom…it was delicious. With leftovers. Exciting leftovers because everyone knows chicken and rice is better the next day, but…everyone got some for lunch…and there were no leftovers in the fridge. how very disappointing. Leftover spaghetti, yes, but that wasn’t the delightfully anticipated meal. WHY did I send butter chicken for CJ, who wasn’t there for the spaghetti dinner anyway? Sigh.
Well anyway. Systems. It being Friday, that means the floors will get cleaned, just in time for people to be home all weekend and tromp dirt and schmutz in all over the place. It’s a dumb system, to do the floors on Friday and probably should be changed, but Monday is for laundry and bathrooms, Tuesday is for more laundry involving sheets and blankets, Wednesday is for yardwork, Thursday is MY DAY OFF, and that leaves floors for Friday. Oh sure, floors could be done whilst doing the sheets on Tuesday, but changing sheets means straightening up the bedrooms because who wants nice clean sheets and a sweet smelling bed when there’s mess piled on dressers and cans of paint laying around? I can’t do floors on Monday because that’s also the day the kitchen gets the twice-over…systems, people, are important and consistency is necessary so I don’t have to think too hard about what’s happening from day to day.
But now and then the system doesn’t quite work and that means no butter chicken for breakfast. Sigh.
Filed under: Uncategorized
After 2+ weeks of master bathroom renovations (which still aren’t done, but at least I can see the end of it now), the bedroom was a flamin’ mess. A pile of paint cans, drop clothes,baskets full of shi…er…stuff from the bathroom (how did all that shi…er…stuff fit in there, anyway?) and general renovation mess with the occasional pile of drywall dust and bits of wallpaper shreds…irritating mess, especially to a neatnik, but pointless to clean it up because the next day there’d be more.
But today, seeing the light at the end of the renovation tunnel, the bedroom got all cleaned up, all the piles of laundry (that’s another issue entirely) dealt with, swept dusted cleaned fresh linens on the bed and curtains (new) with the wrinkles steamed out and now the bedroom looks lovely and MUCH nicer. Now perhaps I’ll quit smacking that not-quite-healed broken toe on things.