Saturday, June 27, 2009
So now I'm going to try to taunt you with the magnificent photography of my $99 Kodak camera. I had chicken on hand (when do we not have chicken on hand? Jeez.) so I decided to make some panko-encrusted chicken bites, with loads of herbs, and have 'em on a salad. Behold:
I know, I'm the next Diane Arbus or something. Except I take pictures of salads - oh well. So this is what I did (no formal recipe needed): I made a flour mixture with loads 'o' herbs (I used oregano and basil and salt and pepper, but substitute as you see fit). I dipped the cubed chicken breasts into the flour mixture, then into a beaten egg, and then finally in my panko mixture (panko breadcrumbs, grated Romano cheese, and garlic). I then placed those suckers on a foiled-lined baking sheet. So, it all sort of looked like this:
I then cooked those babies for about 16-18 minutes in a 425 degree oven (I don't mess around). They came out like this:
I added them to a mixed green salad with cucumbers, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and bleu cheese dressing. That's what you see here:
Proceed to eat this while watching "So you think you can dance?" on Fox with your pet. (Photo not available.) I swear, it makes for a spectacular Wednesday evening.
There's nothing better than slices of a baguette with mounds of pesto when it's storming outside. I grabbed the basil from the side of the house just before the storm clouds opened up, the air ripe with sticky humidity. Now, is there anything better than a summer thunderstorm, wine, and good Medi food? And no wonder Italians are so sensual. We ate everything with our hands with olive oil dripping down our fingers. The pesto was fragrant and potent, with punches of garlic and sweet basil. Pesto is traditionally made with pine nuts, but toasted almonds or walnuts make suitable (and slightly more affordable) substitutions. Also, pesto purists swear by using only Parmesan-Reggiano cheese. Being a Romano lover, I had some of that on hand, and used it. Came out beautifully.
- 2 cups packed basil leaves
- 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
- 2 medium-large garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Makes a cup.
We enjoyed our pesto on a baguette, with other savory options (marinated artichoke hearts, marinated mushrooms, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes). Matthew made it a point to put all of these on one baguette slice. I tried to argue about the purity of flavors, and how they were competing, but it was hopeless. His baguette slices were no less than 2" tall. He also wanted me to add that we used three large garlic cloves. I thought this was rather much, and changed the amount to two, above. He disagrees, so if you like your garlic overpowering, potent, and bad-breath inducing, please go ahead. We still loved it.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
I've decided something this week: I want to become a foodie. This isn't something you decide, but you simply become, and you damn well don't sit down and say, "I want to cook with gusto and be a foodie and tomorrow I start!" I know. Frankly, it's an embarrassing statement. (Something a REAL food connoisseur - aka non-poser like myself - would never utter.) They would probably never buy the cheap store-brand olive oil, either.
This decision came in a few ways. First, it's summer. The farmer's market downtown is open and greens are plentiful (and don't get me started on Matt spending $37 on organic, free-range buffalo the other week.) Second, over the growing weeks, I've become increasingly bored to tears on our nightly dinner menu. It invariably involves chicken -- most recently, grilled with, as Matt loving refers, "McCormick". (As in the brand -- it doesn't matter if he's using McCormick Cajun Seasoning or McCormick Montreal Chicken Seasoning, or just some lowly McCormick oregano, it is, to him, "McCormick", as in, "K?!! (Screaming up the stairs.) "I'm going to grill the chicken with McCormick, okay?!!" Why correct the boy when he's cooking dinner?
So we have our McCormick chicken grilled, sautéed, over a salad, in burritos, on a sandwich, in a Marsala wine sauce, in a stir-fry, with a simmer sauce, diced over pasta , (taking a breath), and then there's baked with panko, brushed with barbeque sauce, and on a shish-kabob. We are chicken maniacs.
I'm not angling for fancy; I can't do fancy. Let's call it rustic. Last week at the market I bought a fresh loaf of French bread, and topped it with provolone, sun-dried tomatoes, basil from the garden, roasted red peppers, and pesto just for good measure. I meant it to accompany a great big salad (with chicken, obviously), but we gobbled it up in an indecent amount of time, causing us both to lay on the couch and complain about the perils of "too much bread". (There is nothing better than fresh bread, no?)
Now, it's true. I was recently pseudo-inspired by a movie trailer - I am only so deep, okay? Julie & Julia comes out in August, starring Amy Adams (adorable) and Meryll Streep. Amy plays Julie Powell, a Brooklyn secretary who decides to cook Julia Child 's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in one year and document it (and then, as icing on her cupcake, gets a fat book deal). And, God no, I'm not trying to weakly emulate any of that. I just want to cook fresh, yummy, and healthy fare this summer. No esoteric ingredients. (I make a caramel apple pie that calls for a single, petite split vanilla bean. That's when I gag and grab my vanilla extract.)
This summer I'll be sharing recipes that are tasty, fresh, and simple. Do you have any standards that you long for when summer rolls around? Please do share!!! First up for me? I'll be making fresh pesto with a handful of sun-kissed basil from the yard.
If you are like me and have a taste for politico gossip (more so a lust for anything trashy) then you have already read the emailed exclamations of love between Senator Mark Sanford and his mistress, "Maria". I read them this morning while chomping on my banana and peanut butter - salacious emails go down well with healthy breakfasts.
Now, I will try not to make this post political (although another chastising "family values" Repub bites the dust!!!....had to say it). Obviously, cheating on one's spouse isn't a conservative or liberal issue -- it's simply a moral issue wrapped in a lot of sliminess. And politicians are doused in admiration and are drunk from fame and power, so, heck, they can do whatever the hell that want, right? God Complex, anyone?
I told Matt early on that if he developed feelings for another women during the course of our marriage, to have the decency to tell me before anything physical occurred. I do not think a person is innately evil, or bad, if feelings grow; I think it's disappointing, sad, tragic, but really, who am I to say? I have been married for a year; I am a child. But to explore those feelings and deceive your spouse? Irreproachable. Actually, it came out more like, "If you cheat on me I swear to God I'll find out and I'll cut off your (censored) so you better run and hide." (At that point he grabs his crotch and runs out of the room in mock horror.)
I still remind him from time to time, whenever a sex scandal breaks the news. "You see that good-for-nothing Sanford, Matt, do you? He's an (censored), don't you think? You DO, don't you? Don't you?!" Then he goes, yes, of course, it's horrible, yada yada yada. Then I go in for the kill: "And you know what is gonna happen to you if you ever pull any of that, right?!" Last time I said this (and I really wouldn't say it so much except there is a sex scandal in America every other week) he said, "Of course I would never, ever cheat on you. But I'm scared; one day you might go crazy and just THINK I did something and then what?!" I considered this, and without further hesitation I said, "Then I guess you're outta luck."
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Pooping at work is inevitable – we spend a good nine hours there daily and eat god-knows-what at our desk – but I still find the jaunt to the bathroom butt-clenchingly shameful and angst-ridden. You see, I work on a floor with mostly women – and I pass the same gals to and from the bathroom. To get to the porcelain god(dess), I pass my HR colleagues, then the Finance ladies and take a left at marketing. They are all women (except for the singular soul who sits right outside the women’s bathroom – poor boy – I’m quite positive he’s on to my prolonged bathroom breaks).
Going to the bathroom at work is a highly-calculated endeavor. First, I assess the time. If it is 4:30 pm, and I know I’ll get home by 6:00 pm (given no traffic, but that has obvious risks, let me tell you), I ascertain the severity of my sphincter-spasms. Yes, girls, sphincter. Usually, I have no choice and have to get to the bathroom in a very timely fashion. Matt, on the other hand, can “hold his poo”, and claims he can even – wait for it – “suck it back in”. (I have high hopes our children will have this bodily gift – what better thing can we bestow on them?)
Once I determine the inevitable, I cruise by the bathroom, checking it out. Or, in more dire cases, I shuffle rather indiscreetly to my destination. Once I get to the bathroom, I do a thorough overview. Are there any other women in the bathroom? No? That’s all I need – this is valuable time and no way am I going to waste it. I immediately proceed to my business.
Let me take a moment and talk about what you should do if there are women in the bathroom. First, ascertain their whereabouts. Are they just about to leave and applying lipstick? Then you’re probably safe; I say wait it out. Urinating? Safe again – they’re coming to a close on their bathroom visit. Sitting in the back stall feigning a cough? GET OUT IMMEDIATELY. You’ve just isolated a pooper. They are patiently waiting for the other bathroom patrons to leave (in my case, not-so-patiently, cough, cough) and are doing whatever they can in that 4x4 stall to act nonchalant. For some women it’s a toe tap. For others, a light cough. The more sophisticated among us will crinkle some toilet paper. Professional poopers employ all three.
When I isolate a pooper, I don’t even pretend I was entering the bathroom to check if there’s lettuce in my teeth. I just get out, lickidy split. It is the right thing to do. You then have two options: go back to your desk in defeat and wait ten minutes (for good measure), or, try another bathroom. I work in a four-story building that has a bathroom on each floor. You might think, “My god, you’re in a bathroom Mecca! A virtual Shangri-La of bathrooms! You have four at your disposal!” NOT SO FAST.
I have a cautionary tale for you. I once thought that too, and started using the second-floor bathroom for my elimination escapades. I was a poop bandit, reaching the second floor on a back stairwell and slyly sashaying to my destination. I loved this bathroom; first the lighting wasn’t nearly as ghastly. Secondly, I could usually poop in peace in the warm glow of that bathroom. (This was disserted territory; a bathroom for the taking!) Thirdly, there was an industrial-sized can of Lysol in the stalls. What more – I dare ask – could a Crohnie want?
Those were good times; I used that bathroom for a year and a half. Now, sure, audit sits on the second floor and SOX is what again?, but I never thought they’d be on to me. I mean, they’re busy working on spreadsheets and crunching numbers like good little accountants! But because of the nature of my job, I know a lot of folks in the company since I staff them on recruiting engagements, and they apparently know me. And that’s when it happened: a pipsqueak, shiny new hire said, “Boy, Kathryn, you’re up here a lot!” as I exited the bathroom. About ten other accountants followed his weasel gaze, and there I was. A little flush from my recent bathroom activity, and a little more flushed from being called out on it.
What is a girl to do?! I took the stance that I usually take when I mess-up at something, or when I most recently almost overflowed a toilet at a fancy wedding: I own up to it. “I KNOW!", I said, feigning excitement. “That bathroom down there is always FULL, with all those WOMEN!” (High voice.) “Really?” he replied, eyebrow high, nose wrinkled. MY GOD MAN, let it be! Does he have no bathroom etiquette at all? When you see a girl repeating making a beeline to the toilet, you keep your trap shut! So now when I have to go, I usually just use my floor’s facilities. I figure, why get the whole company suspicious when I can just raise eyebrows on my floor?
Lastly, I want to discuss poop-offs. A poop-off is not to be taken lightly. First, the definition. A poop-off (noun) is when an individual finds him or herself in a public restroom with another individual, and when they are both waiting for the other to leave so they can, you guessed it, poop in peace. It’s a tough place to be.
Education is the only way to combat poop-offs (see the above, where you should immediately leave if you suspect a fellow pooper has already claimed pooping rights). If I do find myself in this situation, I employ the coughing, the toe-tapping, and the paper-crumbling technique. You know: just to get my point across that I’m just settling in, and am not going anywhere. If that doesn’t work, I have to make a decision: find another bathroom or do the poop-and-flush (with cough for added measure) technique. At this point I get very stubborn (I was here first!), and usually use the latter. You would think the other women would think, “Jeez, she’s a free spirit (sort of), doing her business, I shouldn’t be as shy, too!” and then we could both simultaneously do what we came there to do. A poop free-for-all, if you will. But that is never the case.
I once asked Matt if poop-offs existed for men, and he said he use to subscribe to the poop alone mentality, but then said hell with it, and now freely poops when, and where, he pleases. The freedom! But, I added, “Do you ever get embarrassed from the farting noises?” and he said there’s generally some farting noises going on in a men’s bathroom anyway, so it’s okay.
So, I ask you ladies: let’s join together and get off our high-horses about bodily functions. They are real, they exist, and if you’re healthy, hopefully you’re cleaning out that colon everyday, anyway. To the women who already subscribe by this mantra, my hat’s off to you. But for the rest of us? I still hold out hope, as I sit there, in a crowded bathroom.
One last thought: If you see size 11 (don’t laugh) J.Crew flats tapping awkwardly on the ground, please leave.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
If you want anything in the South, it comes fried. Crohn's be damned, I was gonna make like a local. "So the half seafood platter is for one person, right?, I asked our waiter. "Oh, sugar, it sure is! (Say this to yourself with a Southern drawl while thinking big hair and sweet tea.) "It's our small portion." Okay. "And everything is fried?", I continued. "Sure is! You'll love it!" Oh hell, fine.
Please see below, what those in the South consider a "small" portion. Pay special attention to the WHOLE fried crab, perched on top...eyeballs and all. Just staring. (Below is a little ditty I like to call: fried crawfish balls, fried catfish, fried oysters, fried shrimp, and to just to have all our bases covered, french fries). Tada!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I just had to share this: below is an email I got from our dog, Penny, while we were in Vegas. I'm astounded. Dumbfounded. Overjoyed. This dog obviously is a genius among canines, and her gift needs to be shared with the world! Please enjoy (and notice her impeccable grammar):
Hi Mom. I miss you, but I like it here at Camp Zilker. I go on walks every day with the counselors, and the other campers come too. The food is good, and I get snacks from the man counselor. He likes to lay down on the floor and rub my belly. I like him. I like to sniff the cat camper, and he rubs up against me. I think he likes me. The lady counselor is nice. She lets me follow her around the house, even to the bathroom! She had a counseling session with me because she says she finds kibble all over the camp kitchen, and that I need to improve my manners . She also said I should interact more with the other campers. I try, but they are always chasing each other and wrestling, and they always get the ball and sticks first, so sometimes I just leave them and lay on the patio. (Today two more campers are coming for a visit, Shadow and Sadie. I'm a little scared. ) The lady counselor was really mad at me and yelled at me because I peed in the doggy pool. She saw me do it, and then she had to empty the pool because we all drink from it. Me and Molly like to stand in the pool and I lay down in it. I didn't know that I shouldn't pee in the pool. I told her I was sorry. She just said don't do it again. I sleep in the bedroom with the counselors and Lacey. Molly sleeps in the kitchen by herself. The counselors call her a juvenile delinquent when she slept in the bedroom because she gets up in the middle of the night and annoys me and Socks, and THERE IS PANDEMONIUM! I mind my own business and stay out of trouble. I miss you, but I'm having fun. Love, Penny
Uzi, anyone? Welcome to Vegas!
So our trip to Vegas was a real HOOT! When I was at the conference during the day, Matt really saw the town! Everyday he was out and about wondering the strip (and hopefully up to nothing nefarious). I've got some airport escapade stories that I'll regale you with later, too.
Tomorrow I'm going to New Orleans for work. My colleague booked us on a 12-row plane, so I'm sure there will be some snarky story about that coming up. A Crohnsy cheers to you all!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Now, dancing is cringe-worthy for many reasons. Matt and I cannot dance (particularly Matt...sorry, I only speak the truth, he looks like some sort of alien ape man, new to Earth, and trying to figure out this thing we call "dancing"). Also, I am a big white girl - that is reason enough why I should not dance. Secondly, and I just realized this now, in an effort to get out the door in a hurry (we had gotten back from Vegas the middle of the night prior) I didn't shave my armpits, and sadly, was swinging them wildly during "September" by Earth, Wind, and Fire. Every "ahh eee ahhhh!" I swung those babies over my head as I breathlessy screeched the lyrics. Now, this wasn't like four-week old hair...I'd say about a week and a half of growth. This wouldn't have been a problem if the videograher didn't sashay over to my dance corner repeatedly, bright light and all...but he did. (My apologies to the bride and groom.) I guess I was bringing a lot of attention to myself. (Note: But how could you NOT dance to this song?!) Thirdly, I should not dance because my insides were jostling around with every "ahh eee ahhh!". By the time The Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" was playing (and what a fabulous song it is) I was grabbing my stomach, clenching the cheeks (as in butt), and hobbling off the dance floor. "I have to go to the bathroom," I hissed to Matt. "What?!" he said. "I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM!!"
I made a beeline to the toilet, but there were half a dozen ladies in there, primping and giggling, and doing what ladies do at a wedding. Luckily, I knew no one and said heck with it, and went into the handicap stall. I noticed that the toilet still had toilet paper in it from prior use, but didn't think much of it. I had a situation on my hands.
I was sweating as I pulled down my Spanx (you know, to suck everything in - a modern day girdle, if you will, and don't lie and say you never wore one). Then I did my business. The acoustics in the bathroom were startlingly painful- I swear, everything was magnified and the prim and proper ladies paused for a second (probably in abject horror), and then returned to their chitchat. You see, usually I wait until a bathroom is vacant for situations like this - Yes, I have a tad bit of decency, you know, even if I am talking about defecation on these pages. But this bathroom had a revolving line of women, and there was nothing I could do. In situations like this, I employ the "flush method", which is when I flush when I feel a particularly big, eh, elimination coming on. So I flushed, very happy with my slyness (which was not really all that sly, considering the ladies already heard everything they needed to hear).
But this time I didn't hear the typical swoosh of the toilet, and when I looked down all I saw was a toilet bowel full of brown murkiness. OH SHIT, OH SHIT, OH SHIT!!!! (Yes, literally.) I stood there, my girdle around my ankles. Since I am very smart (cough, cough), I flushed again. The water rose to the brim. DON'T OVERFLOW, DON'T OVERFLOW, I kept repeating. It didn't...barely. I had no recourse: I hiked my underthings up, walked out of the stall to about three or so awaiting women, and announced the following: "Ladies, there is a situation, if you know what I mean, in there. I am closing this stall door - DO NOT LOOK IN! (Nervous laugh.) It's not pretty. (Awkward smile.) I am going to find a plunger." I then ran out of the bathroom.
I stumbled into the kitchen, where the waitstaff was congregating. It took them about ten minutes to locate a plunger. I considering trying to explain it really wasn't me who clogged the toilet; I had just contributed to the problem. Really. But I thought, who am I kidding? The woman working kindly offered to help, but I thought, if there is anything even more cruel than clogging a toilet with your feces, it is having a poor, innocent soul suction out the said feces. "No," I demurred. "Really - I can handle it." And handle it I did. (A special thank you to the woman I asked to "stand guide" at the stall when I located a plunger; no one needed to see that.)
I plunged away as the DJ played Outcast's "Hey Ya!" and it was a glorious moment when the water rescinded. I tested the toilet by flushing twice, a few minutes from one another. I was taking no chances.
I placed the plunger in the corner and left the stall, washed my bands, rubbed the sweat off my forehead and nose, and returned to our table, where Matt was nursing a Heineken. "Are you okay?" he asked. Long bathroom visits are nothing new, for me, and a particularly long one isn't that odd, given my condition. It was nothing new to not feel well when eating out.
"I'm fine, " I said. "And I just got some material for the blog."
Earth, Wind, & Fire's "September".... dance with me now!!
Thursday, June 4, 2009
I am traveling for the next two weeks: this upcoming week I'll be in Las Vegas for a conference, and the following week I'll be in New Orleans for a convention (I have to man the booth and look chipper). I find it amusing that these two cities are associated with sin and mischief, and I'm so square. I guess it makes for a nice juxtaposition.
Anyway, I'm saying all of this so you know that's my excuse for not already returning to the gym. I'm am, however, hoping to come back from Vegas with a lot of stories of Matt's bad gambling tactics. He is coming with me, and who knows what he'll be doing during the daytime while I'm in class. I'm thinking probably not leaving the hotel room and coding. Which, in all actuality, is a vacation for him. I told him to at least bring the computer out to the pool to enjoy some butlered drinks, but he wasn't having it. He is, however, very much looking forward to the buffets. Okay, so am I.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
This is me and a goat, sharing good times.
And here is a video with the Fleet Foxes enjoying their goats:
I am mentioning this all for one reason. Because of Matt's aforementioned bad taste (except in women...namely because I think he has a crush on Halle Berry, and not really because he married me), he doesn't (GASP!) like the Fleet Foxes, who are playing a show in Philly on 7/20 (Monday, sigh). If you do, and you enjoy goats the way I do, then please let me know. BAAAHHHH!
Update: Oops, they're playing Thursday, 7/30. My bad.
Silenced depicts the grim reality for those who work and volunteer -- at abortion clinics. Made by an anonymous filmmaker, Silence was first screened at the Womens Medical Fund Spring Reception on May 21, 2009. The event honored abortion clinic escorts in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
The Women's Medical Fund (WMF) believes that without access to abortion services, the right to choose is meaningless. WMF provides direct financial assistance and other support to low-income women and girls in Southeastern Pennsylvania who wish to terminate a pregnancy but cannot afford a safe, legal abortion. In the state of Pennsylvania, Medicaid (health insurance for low-income people) generally does not pay for abortion. It may be shocking, but sometimes as little as $25 stands between a woman and her ability to exercise her right to choose.
To learn more about Womens Medical Fund, and the ways in which we are working to ensure access to legal health care for all women, visit us on the web: www.womensmedicalfund.org.
Although I feel comfortable dissecting my bowel habits, I’ve held back on political and social affronts that I take very personally, in fear of alienating any of my readers. Now, let’s be clear: I have about 15 steady readers at the moment. I have no grand allusions. But when you have a blog and a semi-regular readership, it’s natural to want to cultivate that readership, so I have been steadily avoiding anything acutely controversial.
But I’m done with that now.
This weekend's slaying of Dr. George Tiller was an act of domestic terrorism by a member of the religious right. No matter what your belief on abortion, clearly his murder was not “Godly” in the least. It is terribly frightening to think that doctors who perform abortions and their staff live in bodily fear from those who “value” life.
A woman’s body is her own, and I can't conceive of how anyone can say it is not a woman’s right to choose, whether you personally believe in the right to an abortion or not. “Personal” being the word, here.
I don’t think any woman has a laissez-faire stance toward abortion, and I would think that having one is – particularly late-term – horrifically gut-wrenching. It sickens me that so many opt for condemnation in lieu of support. Imagine: how horrible to have protesters spitting ghastly vulgarities when going through one of life’s most difficult, and wholly personal, decisions.
Candlelight vigils have been popping up across the country, but as Gloria Feldt said so eloquently in Salon, "When it comes to changing a culture that has marginalized abortion by shaming women and hounding, even murdering, the doctors and clinic staff who provide safe abortions, when it comes to changing a culture bent on shaming women who are, in all good conscience, making the most moral of personal decisions -- candlelight vigils alone will never be enough."
And as Merle Hoffman, publisher and editor-in-chief of On the Issues Magazine, echoes, "Reproductive freedom is the front line, the bottom line and the everlasting line in the sand of any definition of women’s transcendent rights that must be continually defended..."