Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Apartment Hunt

So I know I said that I would post about the apartment hunt a while ago, but I was superstitiously afraid to jinx my living situation by sounding too confident about where I would be living before I knew for sure.  Since the process is finally drawing to a close and I am (98%) sure where I will be living, the time has come to publish!

A few weeks ago, Joe and I realized that we were going to need somewhere to live until we move into the building* once it’s ready.  After deciding that our best option would be signing a six-month lease, we looked through apartment websites upon apartment websites, created a list, made some calls and set up appointments to view several buildings (all the credit for those calls goes to Joe).

Predictably, at most of the visits I instantly loved everything and wanted to sign immediately and Joe was—very prudently—more cautious.  The one notable exception to this rule was a building right next to the Barnes-Jewish Emergency Room.  The rent was high, the rooms were small, and the whole building smelled musty and looked like the décor (and appliances) hadn’t been updated since the building was built in the fifties.  The only positive thing that Joe and I could come up with when we left was, “Well, there was a pretty nice view from the roof.”  Oh, and there was also a tanning bed in the basement.  Because nothing is as enticing as being able to get your fake tan on in a communal bed in your basement, right next to the 1950s laundry room.  All in all, that viewing was a pretty depressing experience.  The only thing that saved it was the fact that the guy who was showing us around had been to several of Joe’s shows (if you haven’t heard them already, check out his band Kid Scientist).

Eventually we found a building we both loved.  The Metropolitan Artist Lofts are located over by Saint Louis University, right across from the Fabulous Fox Theatre and next to a sculpture garden.  They’re also a quick walk from the Urban Chestnut Brewing Company and Plush, an awesome restaurant/venue that Kid Scientist plays at fairly regularly.  As the name implies, the Metropolitan is also an intentional creative community, meaning that everyone who lives there is somehow involved in the arts in St. Louis.  Part of the application process is a portfolio review in front of a committee; the other part is maybe 20 pages of complicated forms to fill out and a background check.

Joe and I first looked at the Metropolitan on a Saturday, but the other Artist Loft location downtown did not have weekend hours, so I ended up taking an early lunch break on Monday and running (almost literally) through apartment units at the downtown and midtown Artist Loft locations and speedily throwing down my (massive) pile of paperwork and deposit check on the way out the door.

Speaking of paperwork…there has been a lot of it since I officially became a Real Adult.  Piles and piles of paperwork before I could start my job (not counting the application itself), paperwork before I could make a doctor’s appointment, paperwork before I could make a dentist appointment, and now piles and piles of paperwork to wade though so I can be approved to fill out more paperwork so I can move into an apartment.  For six months.

The other thing about all of this paperwork is, it’s hard!  I’m not sure if I just need more practice filling these things out or am destined for a lifetime of confusion caused by small print and even smaller blanks to squeeze in complex information.   So far, each of my attempts to accomplish paperwork has gone something like this:

Step 1: Faced with a giant pile of papers and armed with a pen, I am confident.  I am ready.

Step 2: Fill out personal information.  Name, address, I’ve got that down.  I even know my social security number!

Step 3: Feeling strong, I turn the page, only to find at least one Highly Perplexing Question.  Deciding to come back to it later, I press bravely onwards.

Step 4: This brave pressing onwards lasts approximately as long as it takes to read the next question.

Step 5: Call home.

Step 6: Read almost every question out loud to whichever parent was kind and patient enough to willingly commit to secondhand paperwork and mumble incoherently while trying to squeeze long answers into short blanks.  This step usually results in me asking my mother whether or not I have had a headache in the last five years or what my previous landlord’s middle name was, as if she would somehow know better than I would.

Step 7: Thank whoever is helping me repeatedly and profusely.

Step 8: Sign my name 15 times and flip back through to make sure I didn’t miss a page or something.

Step 9: Promise myself that next time I will be mature and independent and work through my own paperwork.

Yeah right.

In any case, I eventually did make it through the forest of paperwork (seriously: a whole forest was probably sacrificed to produce it), and since we have found and applied to The One, I have become obsessed with the “home décor” section of Pinterest.  I am trying to be realistic in terms of picking out projects that I can actually accomplish, but we’ll see what ends up actually happening.  I can dream, right?

_______________

*Joe’s friend Dave designs and builds custom furniture, and he is buying a building to relocate his shop from the basement out of which he is currently working.  There will also be a display room, plenty of space for Kid Scientist’s musical endeavors, and an apartment upstairs for Joe, Dave, and I once the renovation is complete in (hopefully) six months or so.

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My First Book!

I love combining writing and images, and have since my earliest artistic and journalistic endeavors (for more about those, click here and scroll down and over a few frames to the Literary Memoir).  I also love the medium of the book.  Books are meant to be touched and interacted with, which creates an intimate experience for the viewer the likes of which art on the walls can rarely achieve.

I’ve been interesting in learning how to bind books since I first discovered that that was a fine art medium back at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts during a Pinhole Photography workshop my junior year in high school.  My instructor was showing us samples of her photographic work that she had bound into book form, and I thought, “Forget pinhole photography, I want to learn how to do THAT!”

Unfortunately, I never made an effort to take a bookbinding class in college until my last semester, at which point I did not make it off the waitlist.

[Full disclosure: I was too intimidated to take art classes in college (with real art students!) until I came back from abroad with a broader perspective and a determination to take classes that really interested me as opposed to the ones I thought I should take.  That was a mistake, and one of my biggest regrets from college thus far is not taking more art classes and exercising the creative part of my mind until the very end.  Being intimidated by art students and/or afraid of receiving a low grade is a weak excuse.  Shame on me.]

The good news is, I have decided to make up for my former failings in the form of a summer class in basic bookbinding at Craft Alliance. The class consists of a recently hired Wash U professor, two retired women, and me.  So far it’s been a lot of fun, and after two classes I am now able to present…my first bound book!

I am thrilled, and hope that it will be the first of many.

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A Study in Why I Love St. Louis in the Summer*

We went to CAM Night at the Contemporary Art Museum for the food truck, the dollar beers, and the 90s playlist but ended up drifting out back, away from the noise and towards the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts next door. After all, Joe hadn’t yet seen Joe (Richard Serra’s large-scale steel sculpture, built in 2000).

Joe in Joe.

In the Pulitzer, there was wine and a gorgeous semi-enclosed courtyard looking out on an infinity pool.

There was also a grassy roof, perfect for watching the sun set.

Then there was the bike ride from the Cookie Tree Mansion to the Schlafly Tap Room for the Belgian Beer & Mussels festival.

The ride was full of wonderful details, but one was worth stopping for.

Peat Wollaeger’s work can be found all over the city. It’s not only worth a look, but it’s usually looking right back at you.

*Hint: It’s not the 100+ degree humid heat

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A Real Job

Mi manca Bologna.

The view from my window.

I appear to have somehow ended up with what is commonly referred to as a “real job.”  The kind that requires you to wake up at 6am and put on a pencil skirt.

In the past month, I have battled with my alarm clock repeatedly, stocked up on pencil skirts, and moved in to my little corner of the office (now complete with dinosaur).

Can you find the dino? He’s shy.

Here are a few things I have learned while being a so-called adult:

  1. Snacks are a newly hugely important part of my life.  They not only fill the hungry void in my stomach caused by my inability to eat a filling breakfast a) right after I wake up, especially if that’s at 6:30 in the morning, and b) quickly enough that I have time to both do the dishes and catch the Metro.
  2. It is very hard to find remotely healthy snacks that you can keep in a desk that won’t go bad.  Right now I’m operating primarily with dried apricots and wasabi peas.  Loooots of wasabi peas.
  3. School pictures are back!  I guess they’re not called school pictures anymore, but the concept is the same: take a few minutes out of your day to line up and smile before heading back to the daily routine.  I’m just waiting for the company yearbook.
  4. American ideas about air conditioning don’t make any sense.  For the past few weeks it has been pushing 100 degrees (sometimes from above) outside, but being inside for an extended period of time requires a sweater.  Or a parka.  At least a snuggie.
  5. Oh yeah, my work gave all the employees company logo-embroidered blue snuggies during the company-bonding week that happened right after I started.  The snuggies themselves are awesome, but the ability to wear a snuggie a) in public and b) in a business meeting in front of your boss’s boss is even more awesome.
  6. I have begun to say, “Have a Great Day!” compulsively, even when I’m not at work, which is a horribly insincere habit (once the line between polite and automatic has been crossed).

I have also learned what it means to do the same thing all day, every day (well, if we’re really being specific, for eight hours a day five days a week…but after a while it starts to feel like all day every day).  I am claiming no credit to an original discovery here, as I’m sure nearly every working adult has felt similarly.  It’s not called the daily grind for nothing!  But wearing it certainly is.  I miss the constant and varied stimulation inherent to college life, and, more broadly, I miss constantly using and stretching my brain.  Here, there is always a niggling fear that if I’m not careful, the creative and analytical capabilities of my brain will atrophy, even as my typing fingers and wrists gain new strength.  I am secretly a little bit afraid of becoming some sort of squishy automaton who forgets to take vacations if I stay at a desk job for an extended period of time.

I slightly more afraid of leaving the (only moderately!) reckless fun and late hours of my college years behind and becoming A Responsible Adult.

I find that I need to continually remind myself that while it may be more difficult for me to go out at night now, I have much more time to read books of my choosing and cook more elaborate meals (I’ve even seen a few movies!).  I’m trying to read books in Italian and German and bike as much as possible to keep my brain and my body in shape.  After all, it’s not so much that I have less time than I did in college (let’s be real—when I was in school I was always complaining about having too much to do) as it is that I am being slowly nudged towards patterning my life differently.  While I may not be able to go out all night anymore, I can now afford to go out for dinner more frequently.  So really, all that remains for me to do is take the time to find a sense of balance in my current routine, while still remembering not to settle in completely and forget about where I want to go next.

Have a Great Day!

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The Miniseries, Part IV

Just a warning, Part IV of this Miniseries is the extended edition.  The night it came time to try out the fourth menu, we reached the end of the meal and just kept going.  So hold on, because you are about to be introduced to not only a main dish, side, and salad, but also to a dessert and after dinner drink (of the adult variety).

The body of the meal consisted of Lemony Soup with Peas and Rice, Vinegar Mashed Potatoes with Kale, and a Garbanzo Caprese.

As usual, all ingredients were from Schnucks or Trader Joe’s.

LEMONY SOUP WITH PEAS AND RICE

I’m going to list this recipe with the caveat that it was no one’s favorite.  Just to make things worse, I also ultimately ended up spilling the last of the leftovers into my purse while running late to catch the last metro downtown in the morning.  So while there is no guarantee that if you made this soup your wallet would end up sticky and smelling like stale lemon, it is true that there are recipes out there that are probably more worth your time.

That said, it really wasn’t bad and could easily be better.  I made the soup with frozen peas.  If you do venture to make it, I would recommend cutting back on the lemon a bit and using fresh peas instead (Trader Joe’s English Peas are excellent).  I would also serve it as a side soup rather than making it a main dish.  It could be a lovely complement to a stronger dish, but was a bit bland by itself.

So (almost) without further ado, here’s the recipe.  I found it through Molly Moog on Pinterest, who found it at The Kitchn. You can check out their original recipe (with a much prettier picture) here.

Lemony Soup with Peas and Rice {serves six}

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 cups peas
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Sauté the onion in a large pot until translucent.
  2. Pour in the stock and the water and bring to a boil.
  3. Add half the lemon juice, the lemon zest, and the mint.
  4. Stir in the cooked rice and the peas, and bring to a simmer.
  5. Taste, and add more lemon juice if desired.
  6. Once the soup is heated through, you’re done.  Eat and enjoy.

VINEGAR MASHED POTATOES WITH KALE

Mashed potatoes are not a dish that I come across often as a vegetarian (there’s some sort of meat-and-potatoes bias out there).  However, I do love some good mashed potatoes, especially the kind with thin potato skin still mixed in.  Toss in some (a lot) of vinegar and kale (which I have discovered this summer and come to love…a lot), and I’m sold.  These potatoes were delicious, and it was nice having the greens mixed in.

I found the recipe through Lauren Conrad on Pinterest, but the credit goes to Ashley at Edible Perspective.  You can find her original recipe here.

Vinegar Mashed Potatoes with Kale {serves about 6}

  • 5 cups fingerling potatoes (or really any thin-skinned potatos), cubed
  • 4 cups kale, torn into small pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk (regular milk would also work)
  • 1½ tablespoons butter, melted
  • parmesan (optional)
  • freshly ground pepper (optional)
  1. Place the cubed potatoes in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and let the potatoes simmer until they are fork-tender.
  2. Drain the potatoes and transfer to a large bowl.  Mash together with the vinegar and a ½ tablespoon of the butter.  Add the milk and continue to mash until the desired consistency is reached.  I liked it with a fair amount of texture.
  3.  Melt the rest of the butter in a pan and add the kale.  Sauté (stirring frequently) until the kale is just wilted.  Stir in the minced garlic for the last thirty seconds or so, until fragrant.
  4. Stir the wilted kale and garlic into the mashed potatoes, and throw in some Parmesan and freshly ground pepper too if you would like.
  5. Done.  Eat and enjoy.

GARBANZO CAPRESE

In case Episode 3 didn’t alert you to this, I will mention again that the caprese is one of my all-time favorite salads.  The peach caprese I made last time was so delicious that I was very excited to try out the garbanzo caprese (now all that’s left would be a caprese with a basil substitute.  Who knows, maybe next time I’ll create my own peach, garbanzo, and arugula “caprese”…which actually sounds like it could be pretty good).  This version replaces the more traditional balsamic with a blend of cider and red wine vinegars, which keeps the salad very light and fresh.  I’m definitely going to be making this one again, and I have Roni at Green Lite Bites to thank.  You can find her original recipe here.  I found the recipe through Elaine O’Brien on Pinterest.

Garbanzo Caprese {serves 4}

  • 1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • about 25 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • several cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Combine all of the ingredients together in a large bowl.  Toss.
  2. Done.  Eat and enjoy.

This time I had almond milk to drink with the meal, which was a nice neutral complement to all the vinegar in the potatoes and the salad, especially since I had a bunch of almond milk left over from the potatoes.

After dinner, there were so many dishes that we decided to stall doing them by making desserts.  So, we came up with:

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE AND COCOA BAILEY’S

Remember how we tried to make strawberry shortcake on the 4th of July and burnt the biscuits that were made with rancid Crisco anyway?  Well, this time we got some fresh ingredients and did it right (it sure beat doing all the dishes from the rest of the meal).  So, thanks to good, old-fashioned Fannie Farmer, I now present you with How To Make Really Awesome Strawberry Shortcake Entirely From Scratch:

Strawberry Shortcake

Cream Biscuits

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1-1½ cups heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, and sugar in a large bowl and stir with a fork.
  3. Slowly add one cup of cream to the mixture, stirring constantly.
  4. Gather the dough together.  It should hold together and not appear “shaggy” with pieces falling off.  If there is some shagginess, just add a little more cream and repeat.
  5. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about a minute.  Then pat it into a square about a ½ inch thick.
  6. Cut the dough into 12 squares and dip each square in the melted butter until all sides are evenly coated (I never said this would be healthy!).
  7. Place the buttered biscuits on an ungreased pan, and bake for about 15 minutes until they are lightly browned.
  • 1 large container strawberries, quartered
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Once the biscuits are done, top them with the sliced strawberries and whipped cream and enjoy!

After enjoying our strawberry shortcakes, and since we were apparently on a roll anyway, we decided to top off our night of cooking frenzy with a relaxing (and dish-delaying) hot drink, which also allowed us to use up the rest of our fresh whipped cream.

Cocoa Bailey’s

  • cocoa (we used some Ghiradelli hot chocolate mix that we found on the tea shelf)
  • water
  • Bailey’s (or, if you’re like us, generic “Irish Cream”)
  • fresh (or canned, I suppose) whipped cream
  • vanilla extract
  • cinnamon
  1. Boil the water.
  2. Place a heaping spoonful of cocoa mix at the bottom of each cup, and top with the hot water.
  3. Stir until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Add a generous splash of Bailey’s (ahem, I mean Irish Cream) and a tiny splash of vanilla extract.  Stir again.
  5. Top with a scoop of whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon.
  6. Done.  Sip slowly and enjoy.

So that’s all for Episode 4 (extended edition).  Hopefully there was at least something in all of that that you liked.  If not, there’s still one episode left in the Miniseries!

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The Miniseries, Part III

I know, I know.  It’s been a while.  Believe it or not, I couldn’t keep up the frantic posting pace I started out with, especially since I’ve been busy apartment-hunting this past week or so (more about that to come).  But never fear; I have not abandoned you for good.  In fact, I now present Part III of the Miniseries.  The menu this time will be fresh pasta with tomato sauce, baked zucchini fries, and a peach caprese salad.

Baked Zucchini Fries, Fresh Pasta with Tomato Sauce, and Peach Caprese Salad

This time, all of the ingredients used were from Schnucks (substitute whatever your local grocery store is called, and you too should be good to go) or Trader Joe’s.  Also, WARNING: I forgot to photograph the zucchini fries and the pasta by themselves.  Whoops!  Too hungry, I guess.  Forgive me?

FRESH PASTA WITH TOMATO SAUCE

So, my inclusion of this recipe is all wrong for several reasons.  First of all, I didn’t technically find it on Pinterest.  I found it on the Internet at large and then put it on Pinterest myself.  Second of all, I feel that I’m being slightly traitorous to my grandmother’s wonderful, wonderful sauce recipe.  But I will go ahead and justify that by saying that this one I can make faster since I mind cutting corners less when the recipe doesn’t have personal connections, and furthermore family recipes should stay in the family.  Right?  That’s why you definitely can’t find a variation of my family’s pizza and pasta sauce recipes at any Amato’s… Oh wait.  You can.  Moral of the story: go to Amato’s or my house to sample my family sauce recipe, or read on to sample Giada’s as found on foodnetwork.com.

Fresh Pasta with Tomato Sauce {serves 4 twice}

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste (my addition)
  • about 6 basil leaves
  • 2 dried bay leaves (just leave them out if you don’t have any)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh pasta (Trader Joe’s just got this!  Find it by the ravioli)
  1.  Sauté the onion and garlic in a large pot until the onion is translucent.
  2. Add the celery and carrot, season with pepper, and continuing sautéing until all the vegetables are soft.
  3.  Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, and bay leaves.
  4.  Reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the sauce is thick enough.
  5. While the sauce is simmering, boil some water and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.
  6.  Remove the bay leaves and blend the sauce in a blender or food processor.  I like to leave it with a fair bit of texture.
  7. Toss the pasta with about half of the sauce.
  8.  Done.  Eat and Enjoy.

One of the best things about this recipe (aside from how good it tastes) is that a half-recipe will adequately cover a whole box of pasta, meaning you can freeze the other half and save it for when you need to make a quick meal later.

BAKED ZUCCHINI FRIES

These.  Are.  Incredible.   A great way to eat your vegetables while feeling like you’re getting away with something.  This time the recipe really was found on Pinterest.  The credit for the original recipe goes to Georgia at The Comfort of Cooking.  I found the recipe through Sarah Maleas on Pinterest (who found it through Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean) and you can find it here.  These were very easy to make, and saved relatively well (they were still good the next day when I warmed some up in the toaster oven).

Baked Zucchini Fries {serves around 4}

  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into thin strips
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs (I ended up using more than a ½ cup)
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan, finely grated
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. Preheat the over to 425°.
  2. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl.  Place flour in a second bowl and mix the breadcrumbs and Parmesan in a third.
  3.  Dip the zucchini sticks in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs, making sure all sides are well-coated.
  4.  Place the prepared zucchini sticks on a greased baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.
  5.  Done.  Eat and enjoy.

These were delicious dipped in some of the extra tomato sauce.  We also had enough egg left over that we were able to make a scrambled egg appetizer (delicious with some of the leftover basil and Parmesan thrown in)!

PEACH CAPRESE

One of my all-time favorite salads is the simple caprese (mozzarella, tomato, and basil tossed with a little olive oil), so I was excited to try this summer-sweet variation.  It tasted just as good as it sounded.

The recipe comes from realsimple.com.  I found it through Lauren Conrad on Pinterest.  Is she famous?  I thought her name sounded familiar.  Either way, she certainly knows how to pick out a good salad.

Peach Caprese {serves 4}

  • 3 ripe peaches, cut into bite-size cubes
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 8 oz. mozzarella, cubed
  • approximately 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  1.  Combine all of the ingredients together in a large bowl.  Toss.
  2. Done.  Eat and enjoy.

I enjoyed the meal with a glass of Bandit Pinot Grigio. It comes in a bright green box and is delicious not only the night of, but also three nights later.  Some left over to have with the leftovers!  What’s not to love?

So that’s all for Episode 3.  Look for the next installment soon (preview: there’s another delicious caprese variation to look forward to)!

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The Bunny Ate Our Internet

The Cookie Tree Mansion (as my house is affectionately known) is FULL this summer.  In addition to my six roommates and I, there is an adorable black bunny named Dracula and a semi-nameless, oft-forgotten fish.

It is also HOT.  Like, full on sweating and inability to move hot because it’s 106 (feels like 111!) degrees outside and the air conditioner can’t keep up.  The coolest room in the house is the downstairs bathroom, which is holding steady around a balmy 80.  Upstairs is averaging around 95.  After several weeks of double fans on high in the bedroom and being in a constant heat-induced state of lethargic grumpiness while at home, I realized 1) I could never hear Joe over the fans and all they did was blow the hot air around anyway and 2) it didn’t have to be this way.  So, Joe and I decided to move downstairs to the living room, which we now share with Dracula and the man on the mantelpiece.

Painting credit to Rachel Sacks (torso) and Alexis Boleda (legs)

Background:  In the confusion caused by three people moving out and five people  moving in, there was some miscalculation and forgetfulness surrounding the number of beds in the house, leaving us with an extra double bed in the downstairs living room area (which, by the way, is directly adjacent to the entryway of the house, right at the bottom of the stairs, and open to the dining room).  After a month or so of grumbling about how the bed blocked the only functioning air conditioning vent downstairs, Joe and I decided to just bring some sheets and pillows down and take it over.

The new arrangement doesn’t lend itself to much privacy, but has been excellent in all other regards.  It’s certainly spacious, and my mood has much improved (the effect has been much as if I began doubling my caffeine intake and regularly taking happy pills), as has my ability to function at a normal level without making a supreme effort.  One of the best parts of the new arrangement is the proximity to bun, as Dracula is more commonly referred to.  All it takes to create a little ramp up to the bed is opening the door to his pen, which has led to much wonderful morning playtime.  I would have preferred snuggletime, but Dracula is independently minded and can’t be bothered to snuggle with me.

PS: If you’re wondering about the title, that’s in reference to the time that Dracula managed to chew right through our router cable.  I was on the internet at the time, and it suddenly cut out.  The Cookie Tree internet has never been especially reliable, so I assumed that it just needed to be reset.  As I got up to turn the router off and on again, Joe jokingly said, “I bet Dracula ate it.”  I went over to take a look and, lo and behold, he had.

Fortunately, I had a router from my old apartment that we were able to connect without too much trouble.  The tough part was figuring out a way to barricade the cables so Dracula won’t be able to get to them in the future!

PPS: The power went out on our block for a while later that day too.  We’re thinking that Dracula got to the main power supply and chewed through that too.

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The Miniseries, Part II

As the weekend approached, I had the time and inclination to cook another feast.  So, I now present episode 2 of the Pinterest-based, food blog-inspired miniseries!  The menu this time will be Pad Thai with Sriracha Lime Brussels sprouts and a simple side salad with ginger carrot dressing.

Again, all of the ingredients used were from Trader Joe’s (or found in my kitchen, but you get the idea).

PAD THAI

Pad Thai

The credit for this recipe goes to Patricia at Brownies for Dinner.  Check out her original recipe (via Everyday Foodhere.  I found it via Abigail Seadler on Pinterest.

This is a non-traditional Pad Thai recipe, with a soy sauce base replacing the more-authentic-yet-harder-to-find-in-an-American-grocery items like tamarind paste and fish sauce.  It was quite good, but would have been significantly better had I more perfectly mastered the art of cooking rice noodles without turning them into a sticky glob.  There’s always next time…

Pad Thai {serves 2-4 people}

  • 8 ounces rice noodles (I found some next to the fresh pasta in Trader Joe’s, but they were thin and round as opposed to the traditional wide, flat noodles)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (save some lime wedges for garnish if you’d like)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil (I used the light olive oil my roommates got instead of extra virgin, and that worked well too)
  • 3 scallions, white parts thinly sliced and green parts sliced in half-inch pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten (or, if you’re like me, just dropped straight into the pan)
  • fresh cilantro and crushed roasted peanuts to taste
  1. Cook noodles according to package instructions (although I would recommend cooking them according to the instructions in the original recipe, given the way mine turned out).
  2. Whisk together the brown sugar, lime juice, and soy sauce in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Sauté the garlic and the white bits of the scallions over medium high heat until fragrant.
  4. Add the eggs, scraping the pan with a spatula continuously until set.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Add the cooked noodles, the green scallion bits, and the sauce to the pan.  Cook (stirring continuously) for about a minute.
  6. Add the egg mixtures and toss in with the noodles until well mixed.
  7. Serve topped with fresh cilantro and crushed peanuts (and lime wedges, if you saved any).
  8. Done.  Eat and enjoy.

SRIRACHA LIME BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Sriracha Lime Brussels Sprouts from From Dahlias to Doxies

The perfect accompaniment to the Pad Thai turned out to be these Sriracha Lime Brussles Sprouts, which taste a lot like an egg roll (without the grease and MSG).  Delicious and good for you!  This time the credit for the original recipe goes to Ashley at From Dahlias to Doxies.  I found the recipe through Tanda Pfannenstiel on Pinterest and you can find it here.  These were insanely easy to make, and if you’re not a huge fan of Brussels sprouts, the sauce would be good on most veggies.  It could even serve as a salad dressing!  I would note, however, that these are best consumed fresh, since the leftovers were nowhere near as good as the straight-from-the-pan originals.

Sriracha Lime Brussels Sprouts {serves 4}

  • 1 pound whole Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  1. Sauté the Brussels sprouts (cut-side down recommended) until golden brown.
  2. Whisk together the Sriracha, honey, and lime juice in a small bowl.
  3. Remove Brussels sprouts from heat and toss with Sriracha mixture.
  4. Done.  Eat and enjoy.

GINGER CARROT DRESSING

Ginger Carrot Dressing from Skinnytaste

When I was a little kid, pretty much the only salad (ok, salad ingredient) I would eat was the cucumbers from the side salads at Japanese restaurants.  Oddly specific but true.  That’s because I loved the ginger carrot dressing on the little side salads, and the cucumbers were an acceptable dressing-vehicle (after all, it’s not like I was going to eat the lettuce).

While I now (happily) eat a wide variety of salads and dressings, I still have a soft spot for ginger carrot dressings.  I was therefore delighted when I came across this recipe from Gina at Skinnytaste.  Her original recipe can be found here.  This is another recipe I found via Maria from Two Peas and Their Pod on Pinterest.  Using the dressing recipe and my memories of Japanese restaurant side salads, I came up with my own version.  Feel free to use whichever salad ingredients you like/have on hand.  I think it could be good with some purple cabbage and/or sliced tomato in addition to what I used.

Salad with Ginger Carrot Dressing {serves many}

Note: The original recipe calls for a 1/4 cup minced onion, but since eating raw onion makes me sick, I jacked up the measurements for the carrot, celery, and ginger.  The numbers listed here are from the original recipe, so…just use your discretion.)

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup carrot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon celery, minced
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil (or peanut oil–if you don’t have either, I’m sure vegetable oil or olive oil would be fine)
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar (we ran out of rice vinegar about a tablespoon shy and substituted white wine vinegar for the rest)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  1. Mix ingredients together in a blender and blend until smooth.  My blender recently died and the one my roommate got as a replacement has some trouble blending evenly, so I can tell you confidently that that is still good chunky.
  2. Done.

Salad (ingredient amounts depend on how much salad you want to make):

  • butter lettuce
  • 1-2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons avocado
  • fresh cracked pepper
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Toss with dressing.
  3. Done.  Eat and enjoy.
The full meal: Pad Thai with Sriracha Lime Brussels Sprouts and Ginger Carrot Salad
We enjoyed the meal with the leftover Prosecco with lemon sorbet.  It would also pair well with a light beer (Sapporo or Kirin come to mind here, if we’re going with the Americanized pan-Asian theme).

So that’s it for episode 2.  I know I enjoyed expanding beyond the boundaries of my usual cuisines of choice, and I hope you will too!

PS: Yeah, I know.  The photography is still nowhere near food blog quality.  However, I really can’t be bothered to try to fix the horrible yellow light in my kitchen when I’m hungry and staring down a plate of delicious food.  Maybe episode three will be better.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

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