Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Dear Cable,

We’ve been here before.  Things are going along fine. We spend time together most nights–World News at 6:30. Jeopardy at 7:00. Comedies. Dramas. The occasional guilty pleasure coughduckdynastycoughcough. But you don’t judge. Any time together is fine by you.

And then you get needy. Clingy. Demanding. And maybe a little jealous of the HBOGo app on the Smart TV.  Don’t deny it. You’ve been rolling your eyes at any mention of Netflix for years. Netflix is nice, I say. It offers movies and tv shows you’re not showing. Eye roll.

You more than double the cost of being together. You tell me  that if this isn’t working, we can see less of each other. Less of each other? Channels 2-22? I’d rather not see you at all.

Last time you panicked. Started throwing out the apologies and promises to change. Please stay! you begged. Don’t go!  You offered me free movie channels (not the good ones, but at least you were trying). You  gave me a special rate. You made me believe I was special.

Not this time. When it all happened again, the jarring letter in the mail (so cold!), the realization that you are incapable of true change, I knew our time had come. This relationship isn’t working, I say.  To be honest, I don’t find many of your channels attractive anymore. I try to remember the last time I watched Bravo–I’m sure it’s been two or three seasons of Top Chef.

And that’s when you shrugged. Fine. Go. 

Hulu Plus is only $7.99/month.

Eye roll. Good luck watching the series finale of How I Met Your Mother. 

I’m not bluffing, Cable! I’m leaving you!

You’ll be back.

Advertisements

Making the Most of Store-Bought Sauces and Marinades

Some weeks (months?) do not allow for cooking from scratch. For example–the week after a vacation, when you have no desire to go grocery shopping or do any meal planning. These are the times when the take out menus are most tempting. However, Hubs and I managed to come up with four reeeeeeally good dinners this week using the what we had in our fridge and cabinets, which wasn’t much.

Monday

What started off as penne and red sauce from a jar was magically transformed into amazing penne a la vodka with a quick stop at whole foods for heavy cream and garlic bread. My husband wasn’t sure how to judge the ingredients since he usually makes his own sauce from scratch, but he came up with a great balance with the jar sauce, cream, vodka, and red pepper flakes. We keep a small bottle of cheap vodka in a kitchen cabinet–it’s not suitable for drinking but always on hand for cooking.

Tuesday

Desperate for vegetables but not ready to commit to a completely healthy meal, we had caesar salad with “grilled” shrimp Tuesday night. A quick trip  to Stop and Shop got us the shrimp and salad mix and I made a sauce using Penzey’s Creamy Peppercorn Spice Blend mixed with mayo. We used the Griddler to mock-grill the shrimp. The sauce was creamy and flavorful and worked well with the caesar dressing on the salad.

Wednesday

Stir Fry! Rice–check. Eggs–check. Soy sauce–check. Leftover chicken and shrimp–check. Veggies? Ducked into Whole Foods for their pre-cut stir fry blend. I don’t usually go for teriyaki sauce but Hubs was cooking his chicken (shrimp was for me!) in a good coating and it smelled SO good that I asked him to pour a little my way. He also mixed in some sesame ginger salad dressing/marinade (I don’t recall the brand!) to the rice and veggies. Either my chop stick skills are faltering or the rice wasn’t quite sticky enough because it took me longer than usually to eat dinner.

Thursday

While putting together my food for the day Thursday morning, I noticed we had two pieces of chicken left and dumped them into a tupperware with the remains of a bottle of Lawry’s Santa Fe Chili marinade. Another trip to Whole Foods on my way home resulted in southwest salad (which obviously contains copious amounts of shredded cheese). Hubs cooked the chicken in the toaster oven and got it just to the point where it was juicy and flavorful and not at all dry, at which point I can’t even think about it.

Tonight? Hubs is on his own while Mom and I head to my favorite restaurant in the entire universe.

And something weird, while we’re chatting–the dog has now identified the sound of a fork hitting the plate or bowl for the final time, indicating that we’re done eating and it’s safe to come to the table. He knows that it’s a lost cause to beg for food while we eat, but as soon as we’re done it’s game on. I can’t be sure it’s the sound of the fork, but we can’t figure out what else he’s listening/watching/smelling for. He usually goes upstairs while we eat so he doesn’t have a great visual. He’s obviously the smarted dog in the world.

Have a great weekend!

 

Where is the Temperamental Kitchen?

Friends,

You may not have noticed the lack of Temperamental Blog Posts as much as I have felt the pains of not writing them, but I’m going to apologize anyway because it’s the right thing to do and my parents raised me to be a good, if not obnoxiously sarcastic and self-involved, person. I took a much-needed and vastly-enjoyed vacation last week, but the paucity of fulfilling, worthy posts has been going on for a while. One problem is certainly lack of time during the day and complete exhaustion at night (my evenings involve wine + dinner with Hubs + playing with Madison + staring at the TV for an hour + lying in bed thinking about how badly I need a new mattress among other taxing life changes that I need to make.) What I mean by this is that cooking and baking have not been properly showcased in my life and I’ve found myself with little to write about.

This must change. Even if the only people to read with any regularity are my mom (Hi Mom!), and my cousins (Hi Kym, Kasey, and sometimes Ryan!) I get a lot out of writing them, especially since Writing My Novel has fallen even further down the list of Thing To Do than Writing My Blog.

There is good news! I’m working on a new project that will hopefully kick-start my baking and I have a few events coming up that will definitely lead to some new posts about cupcakes. In the meantime, I hope to start writing posts for the fun of writing even if I don’t have a recipe for you. Because, let’s face it, my recipes aren’t that great anyway. (Modifier: my cooking is fantastic/good/edible. My recipe writing skills, not so much.)

Those of you not obligated by shared DNA to check in on me and my ramblings, thanks for reading! I hope to continue to make it worth the time you spend staring at your I-phone pretending to be reading an important email at work.

Um, that’s all. Here’s a photo of Victor Cruz wearing a sombrero. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

The iPad Ate My Blog Post or Cookie Butter Frosting

I wrote you a blog post two days ago. It was sassy and sarcastic and all of things that make you love me. It was well thought out with appropriate photo pauses at just the right moments to add suspense/humor/flare. But then my iPad ate it. It’s still there, I just can’t access it. It says that it’s uploading, but it’s been over 24 hours. I can’t read it. Can’t edit it. Can’t publish it. It’s just  there. This post was supposed to be up yesterday, but  just as I was adding the photos, my internet cut out. I decided this morning that if the draft wasn’t saved, it was the universe telling me that you’re not ready for cookie butter frosting. Lucky for you, the universe is on your side.

The original post started off with something like “hey! intro! I discovered this super cool thing and you probably already knew about it and why didn’t you tell me you knew about this super cool thing! you think I’m talking about one thing but I’m actually talking about Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter!” Cue photo of the cookie butter:

Then I added a brilliant/adorable/endearing anecdote about cookie butter which also has the affect of making me look like a complete pig, scooping everything I can find in my kitchen into the open jar of cookie butter. Then I told you how great cookie butter would be as frosting and how I went ahead and made cookie butter frosting and slathered it on chocolate cake. Cue the chocolate cake!

I’m making my niece’s birthday cake in a few weeks and since cakes aren’t really my thing, I’m putting in the practice hours. I definitely didn’t mention that in the original post. Director’s cut! Bonus material!

I then ended with another super cute one liner that makes you fall in love with me all over again. Cue the recipe!

Cookie Butter Frosting

Ingredients

3 sticks butter, slightly softened

11 oz Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter, which apparently is kind of like Biscoff Spread

1 cup powdered sugar

Cream butter. Add Cookie Butter and beat until smooth. Add sugar and beat until combined and fluffy.

Anniversary Cake

You know how some people freeze the top layer of their wedding cake and eat it a year later? I wasn’t into that. I don’t even like putting cake in the fridge.

Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about it because Amy at the Sugar Flower Cake Shop includes a brand new, non-year old, non-frozen cake in the bridal package. I’ve been thinking about this cake for…okay, a year. The one problem is that Amy is in the city and I’m no longer a commuter so I had to make a special trip into Manhattan. The weekends between our anniversary and now have been jam-packed and I finally had the opportunity to pick up my cake last week. I also wanted to have a reason to have an entire cake on my hands. Left to our own devises, my husband would have consumed an obligatory sliver while I consumed mass quantities of cake and frosting. Instead, I brought it over to my brother’s house and forced dessert on my family. Everyone wins!

I was dreaming about how this cake would taste but I never expected it to be so gorgeous. Amy put the same amount of attention to detail and unflawed artistry into our anniversary cake as she did with the wedding cake and when I opened the box I was touched by its beauty.

Or maybe you don’t get all mushy over cake. Lame.

For any brides-to-be out in the NYC area, I fully recommend the Sugar Flower Cake Shop. I wasn’t into the big, lavish cakes but wanted something delicious  with unique flavor options so Amy’s Chic Cake collection was perfect for me. She took my vision into account and had plenty of examples to illustrate what she thought I was saying since my cake-design vocabulary was so limited. She even let me mail her the ribbon I used in our decor to line the cake layers. The sugar flowers are colored to match the roses from my bridesmaids’ bouquets. The best part was being allowed to have three different cake flavors, two fillings, and two frostings. You know I hate making decisions.

No recipe today but Thursday I’ll tell you about my chocolate spice hazelnut cupcakes. I’m still working on the name.

Cheesy Kale Chips

Hubs was out rocking Las Vegas last week so I spent my nights reading for work (the kind of dense, philosophical, intellectual writing I have to read aloud in a silent room in order to process) and catching up on TV shows he won’t watch: Revenge, Smash, and the once-good-now-slightly-annoying-and-preachy-Glee. All of these programs are available On Demand so I became acqauinted with the On Demand commercials. Have you seen the ad for MundoFox, Fox’s new Spanish-languish network? Let me try to explain it. Picture the hottest, most alluring, Hispanic man and woman you can. Now picture a good dozen of them, one after another, stating in Spanish their background– Mexicano Americano, Dominicano Americano, Cubano Americano , etc. and then they all say “Americano Como Tu.” All I can say is, Well Done, Fox. I want to learn Spanish just to watch this network.

Equally random thought? Mac and I are starting to get to know each other and things are going well so far, but there are a few things that I don’t like about the key board. Well, two things. First, there’s no “end” button. Is there? There is no button that says “end” but if I’m missing something, please let me know. The second is that the delete button does what backspace did on my old laptop and there is no button on Mac that does what the delete button did on my old lap top. So I can only erase to the left, not to the right, if that makes any sense. This is annoying, especially because I’m prone to misspellings and typos. And I just thought of number 3–my dad bestowed me with my very first and most excellent wireless mouse, but if I’m just using the mousepad on the keyboard, there’s not left or right button. As in, the whole pad clicks. So how do I right click to fix a misspelled word? That’s frustrating. Again, with all of the misspelling I do.

So this is my 100th post. Had I seen it coming, I would have made you something cute and fun and sweet. Instead, I’m giving you a healthy snack made slightly less so–cheesy kale chips. These chips are so easy to make and they’re great for a vitamin-packed super snack. You can add more or less cheese depending on just how super you want it. Also, Kale is not for everyone. It’s not as innocuous as lettuce or even spinach. And you can’t go into it thinking you’re getting a great substitute for potato chips. You’re getting salty, cheesy, seaweed. So let’s get started!

Cheesy Kale Chips

Ingredients:

1 bunch Kale

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup cheese–I used Dubliner but a good parm would work well

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350

Cut the kale from the stalk and tear into smaller pieces

Put in a big bowl and drizzel olive oil over the top. Get your hands in there and make sure each leaf is coated.

Add cheese and salt and mix well.

Spread kale onto a baking sheet and cook for 20-25 minutes, until it’s crispy. Enjoy!

Mango Chipotle Sauce

So, have you noticed something different about me? Do I seem a little…lighter? Brighter? Shiner? Yeah, thought so. It’s my MacBook Air.

After a couple weeks of back and forth between the iPad and my husband’s computer with the anxiety-inducing mouse nub, it’s nice to be up and running. I can tell already that Mac and I are going to be long time friends. As long as I don’t drop it on the kitchen floor like the camera. There are a few weird things about Mac that I’m still getting used to. I can’t seem to maximize the website window. I hit the green button and the whole window shifts to the bottom of the screen. Not like it’s minimizing, it’s just..shifting. Weird. Also–the green button. And the yellow. And the red. I’m still heading to the upper right hand corner to minimize/close. Oh and I already miss the “end” button. AND! What the heck is this cable for?

Things I love about Mac–it weighs nothing. If I wasn’t so prone to dropping things, I’d carry it around with me where I went. Also, the key board is comfy and perfectly clicky. And the mouse pad is off the hook. Yeah, I said it. Thanks Steve Jobs for an off the hook mouse pad.

I actually made this mango chipotle sauce last night, but I was too distracted by Mac to write about it. It was an excellent addition to my shrimp burritos but disappointing on the mango side. I couldn’t taste anything but chipotle. That’s ordinarily not  a bad thing, but when you spend the time getting the food processor from the way back of the closet and then cutting up the mango and then pureeing and then you have to dissemble and clean the food processor…well, you want to taste some mango. PS–photographing burritos is hard.

So, here’s what’s not to do:

Ingredients:

1 Mango

3 Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lime juice

2 cloves garlic

Load everything in the processor and hit the button until smooth.

Random Round Up

The bad news is that the lens on my camera won’t retract and the camera itself won’t turn on. The somewhat good news is that I removed the memory card from the new camera and put it back in the old camera so at least you can see some bad photos of my lovely zucchini muffins. Bad photos are better than no photos? I guess that can be debated.

I’m super angry with myself for dropping the new camera in the first place. I was rushing (for you!) to snap some pictures and get my post up, already a day late, and it slipped from my grasp. Landed on the floor with a clatter. I’m sure it can be fixed and I’m sure it will be expensive. Does Best Buy do this sort of surgery or do I need to go to a camera store? Or, heaven forbid, send it back to Cannon?

On to a more delectable topic, I made a mouth-watering test batch of lemon cupcakes last night. They were so good that my husband went for his won after having a bite of mine. It also helps that they weren’t frosted since he’s not a big fan. But these were a big success. I’ll get the recipe out to you in a couple of weeks after I make a full batch so I can give you the correct measurements. I was only aiming for about half a dozen last night so I cut the recipe in some strange ways. I also annoyed Hubs by asking what a third of a half would be. He didn’t like that I didn’t like his answer.

Can I also tell you about two quick meals I made this week? The first was my lunch all week-long. Super simple-whole wheat wrap with humus, one slice of American cheese, cucumber, sprouts, and spinach. Healthy and delicious. The other was our dinner last night. Fettuccine with red peppers and red onions sautéed with olive oil, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, oregano, and garlic powder. Mine was topped with portobello much rooms, also sautéed, and his was with chicken. We both ate more than we probably should have… but that’s my fault for making too much. I have a problem with not being able to tell how much dry pasta to put in the pot.

Have a fantastic and delicious weekend!

Swamplandia!

Excellent writing sends me into a depression of envy. The writing in Swamplandia! is gorgeous. Karen Russell is highly accomplished in crafting metaphor and description but also in showing restraint. She gets it right and moves on. She also nailed the perspectives in this book—Ava is a young, naïve first person narrator and she believes two things: her sister has run off to elope with a ghost and all of the adults in her like are trustworthy. Her brother Kiwi is based more in reality and facts but is transitioning from the book-smarts of living on a secluded island to the street smarts of the mainland. Kiwi’s chapters are told in third person limited, which lets us into his world but keeps us at a distance and allows us to look around a bit, whereas we see Ava’s worth directly through her eyes.  

Let me back up. Swamplandia! is about the Bigtrees—a family of self-imagined natives (actually white transplants from the Midwest) who run an alligator theme park in rural Florida. The original patriarch, Sawtooth Bigtree, has lost his mental capabilities and is sent to live in a home. The main attraction, wife and mother Hilola Bigtree is diagnosed with cancer and is gone far too soon. Now children Ava, Kiwi, and Ossie are left with their father, a man they call The Chief, who is trying to save Swamplandia! from bankruptcy.

Ava is also on a mission of salvation: she has gone after her sister, who has supposedly run away to the Underworld where she can marry her boyfriend—a deceased dredgeman with whom she has been communicating from the beyond the grave. Ava’s guide on her quest is The Bird Man—a person who goes from island to island to chase away birds who are hazards to people’s property for one reason or another, and someone who claims to know how to get to the Underworld.  At first, Ava’s desperation to find her sister and The Bird Man’s strange demeanor and existence, the fact that The Chief isn’t around to help, and the fact that Ava knows if she tells anyone what happened, they won’t believe her, lead this reader to get swept up in a ghost story. I can’t say when I put my finger on the larger situation—it was so well veiled and in no way disruptive—but when the bigger pictures becomes clear, the story is much more alarming than a ghostly husband.

 

I have to admit that I didn’t immediately fall in love with this book. Although instantly drawn into the writing, it took me a while to become fully immersed in the story. What finally did it for me was the slow realization that Ava may not be the most reliable narrator. Once you understand this fact, the book becomes less mysterious and more tangible. And talk about restraint—Russell is perfectly embedded in Ava’s POV and doesn’t show her hand too soon. But when she does, it’s inevitable and painful. I wouldn’t recommend this book for anyone who likes a quick, easy to digest, page-turner; you have to be patient and willing to let it run its course. If you do, you will be rewarded.