Monday, March 26, 2012


Some days, I yearn for poetry.

For, as Garrison Keillor puts it, "to be interrupted mid-stampede by a beautiful thing is a blessing indeed."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

What's cookin'?

One of my New Year's resolutions was to do more cooking in 2012, and so far, I think I'm off to a good start.

The first Friday of Lent, I made shrimp alfredo. It had been years since I'd made a good alfredo sauce from scratch, but man that was good. Creamy, cheesy and extra garlicky, just like I like it. Oh, and completely healthy, of course. The salad I had with it totally evened things out, calorie-wise. ;-) I also made a great pasta salad the other week with cheese tortellini, spinach and tomatoes that made a great addition to several lunches.

Inspired by a recent issue of "Cooking Light, " I've also made several homemade pizzas. The first was a chicken barbecue pizza that turned out spectacularly, easily beating out the California Pizza Kitchen version that I enjoy. And just the other night, sans recipe, I made another chicken pizza (I do plan on branching out from chicken... one recipe in the Cooking Light that I want to try calls for smoked salmon) with spinach, Parmesan and a good garlic marinara sauce. It's pretty basic, but completely satisfying, this homemade pizza making (although not totally from scratch, as I'm not making the crusts myself...but who has time for that?), and likely healthier than the greasy American ordered variety, which Italy pretty much spoiled for me.
One thing that definitely has me upping my cooking game is Big Breakfast Wednesdays. They're a tradition my housemate Pam and her former roommate Jen started when Jen moved in, and we've continued it since I've taken up residence. It's a simple premise: we take turns making a larger, more elaborate-than-cereal-or-toast breakfast each Wednesday. This has actually been a little bit of a challenge for me. Growing up, when we made breakfast on the weekends, it was scrambled eggs, oatmeal or, most often, pancakes. The only problem with making pancakes for Big Breakfast Wednesday is that Pam, for health reasons, can't have anything too sweet first thing in the morning (I did make pancakes for Fat Tuesday dinner, though, which was awesome). As a result, I've made fried eggs and scrambled eggs with cheese and hashbrowns, but those don't seem quite big enough. So for last week's turn, I went trolling on the Internet, looking for a savory muffin recipe. A lot of them were quite complex, and called for ingredients I would have to buy in larger amounts and then likely never use again. But then I stumbled on one that offered a variety of filling options. And they turned out marvelously. The recipe made 16, so both Pam and I took some to our various offices, where they got rave reviews from coworkers (in my office, Elaine said they tasted like something you'd get at Panera, which was incredibly flattering). It will definitely be added to my breakfast repertoire.
Of course, there are still nights where I come home and just do something simple with a chicken breast or tilapia fillet, nuke a TV dinner or, like tonight, make a meal out of sweet potato fries dipped in apple butter. But I'm thoroughly enjoying getting back into cooking on a more regular basis, and I hope to continue this good start. There are so many more recipes I want to try and lots of 2012 left.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

My brain on shuffle/Utter randomness

I remember watching reruns of The Monkees as a kid, and just loved the show. They also had a guest spot on an episode of Scooby Doo, which, in my book, was pretty much the coolest thing ever back then. Davy Jones was my favorite Monkee, though, because he was the cutest (I had a crush on him as a kid, I'll admit it), had that exotic English accent, could sing and, really, when it comes down to it, the man could play the tambourine with flair, so I was sad to hear he passed away today. And while I really do love most of the Monkees songs, I think this is one of my favorites. Maybe because Neil Diamond wrote it. Or maybe because it IS the song used in that Scooby Doo episode. But it's just good:
On a completely unrelated note, I wrote a poem today. My boss, Lorraine, has been out sick, and in an email to Elaine, one of my coworkers, she joked that she knew we were lazing around, dancing, singing and eating office (i.e. shared/community) chocolate instead of putting out a paper, and that she knew all this because there are cameras hidden in the multiple giraffe figures (she collects them) on her desk. I'm not entirely sure what prompted it, but Elaine said, "We should write her a poem." So I did...and then I posted it to her Facebook wall:
An Ode to an Editor out sick"

"We the eaters of office chocolate
Dancing in front of the giraffe cam to block it.
Work!? What is that? Our boss is away!
And when that happens reporters will play:

Ed writes B.P.s on county financing
So exciting he comes in prancing;
Elaine sings songs into her phones
To answer those calls she needs clones;
Carol dreams of going antiquing while
She's doing story critiquing;
And Anne's piece on a school event
Is better when read with a foreign accent.

When Lorraine comes in tomorrow
The newsroom will be full of sorrow.
For it's back to the status quo
And all our fun we must forgo." 
My boss is actually awesome, so the sorrow will not be real when she comes into the office on Thursday, and we do have lots of fun when she's there. Also, B.P.s are big picture stories, so called because they paint a big picture (duh) of an issue. And yes, I frequently speak in foreign accents (English, Ukrainian, occasionally French) at work. I'm a nut. But I also think I'm a pretty good mimic, and unless my coworkers are lying to me...wait, maybe they actually are. :)
My roommate and I have discovered an incredible time-waster of a "reality" show on Animal Planet: "Finding Bigfoot." A team of four (one of them answers to the nickname Bobo, which in Spanish means stupid. He also has a preference for trucker hats) goes to different parts of North America (which, as one of the team members was compelled to explain tonight, includes "the U.S. and Canada," in case you didn't know) to study evidence (grainy videos and the like) and talk to people who have supposedly seen a sasquatch. Only the team members have shortened sasquatch to "squatch" and have subsequently turned it into an adjective ("This area is squatchy."), a verb ("Now this is squatchin!'") and a noun ("Other squatchers say..."). There are also select phrases they repeat often, such as "Hear that? That's a squatch!" Also, sasquatch apparently love a myriad of disparate things: cows, power lines, fireworks, cemeteries, ducks, deer, bacon (although come on, who doesn't?), donuts and the sound of crying babies, among other things. Pam and I can hardly keep from laughing the whole way through an episode, mostly because these people take themselves so seriously.
And finally, thrift stores are just fun. There's a new, huge Goodwill opening up near my office, and they had a soft opening tonight. After we filed everything for the Thursday paper, Elaine, Carol and I went exploring, finding all sorts of silly things to try on (Shoes! Hats! Lampshades as hats!). Naturally, since we document even the most mundane things ad nauseum, Elaine took many photos...some of which just began appearing on Facebook (and some of which were incredibly unflattering and I just as quickly removed them from my timeline). Others are fun. One is me holding an Oliver Hardy mug. I joked that since Stan Laurel was missing, I'd be the Laurel in the picture (since it's my first name... Yes, I do realize I'm incredibly nerdy/corny. I did know a girl growing up in Lakeland who's parents named her Laurel Ann Hardy. Sad. And funny. But I digress...). I think once Lent is over it will make an appearance as my new profile photo. It'll be interesting to see how many pick up in it.
Right. I should go to bed. I meant to a good hour and a half ago, but time has run away with me. This is the result. Perhaps I should put a moratorium on late-night blogging in the future. :)