yesterday i brought the mice over to my brother’s place for seana and the kids to have, and i took their giant aquarium with two huge goldfish in it (named cloak and dagger) – actually i packed up all their stuff and then i was going to swing by after the green party fundraiser to grab the fish

piper was pretty excited about the mice and she handled them so carefully, i really love that little girl. When i came back at 11pm to pick up the fish, little piper was still awake, so i got a big hug and squeeze 🙂

i bet the fundraiser was fun but i discovered to my horror that i had no drivers license or other form of ID on me! i dont go to bars much and i rarely get carded so i have no idea how my license even got out of my wallet! So guess im going to the secretary of state’s office tomorrow…

so dani and i went out for hot dogs and cheese fries at that funny little bar attached to Clark St. Dog – they’ve renovated in there and its awesome! then we went to parrots and played some pool, they put in real dart boards and took out the electronic one which is a little sad for me

then i got the fish and came home and richie and butch and i set up the tank which was a ridiculous process involving carrying bowls of water from the kitchen into the tv room and pouring them into the 30 or 40 gallon tank…

woke up earlier than usual because i’m trying to get myself back on a “school day” schedule in order to start subbing again. Went downstairs to discover that the front door was wide open and the screen door still propped open, as it apparently had been left ALL NIGHT after richie brought in the aquarium and other stuff from my car. we are so lucky to still have a television…

so closed the door and went to the kitchen. did the dishes. put a pork tenderloin to marinate in the fridge in olive oil, black pepper, lemon juice, cumin and seasoned salt with a little fish sauce (fish sauce is my new favorite thing). took care of the pets and watched some DVR.

then i made sour cream pancakes with a sauteed apple topping for the boys and myself.

then i put the pork in the oven to roast, made cranberry pecan stuffing, parsley potatoes, and broccoli and put it all together in tupperware containers for richie to take for lunch for the next few days 🙂

now i’m just chilling until i have to go grocery shopping and do the laundry 😦

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yesterday morning i wanted to sit on the couch and watch West Wing with the ratties, as i often do between 9am and noon before i leave for work. BUT my dearly beloved boyfriend was occupying the space with his own activities so i went downstairs in a huff. upon entering the kitchen i found, as i often do, a pile of dirty dishes… so i started washing them.

doing dishes has become very symbolic for me over the past 6 months. i have gone from basically NEVER washing a dish ever to washing all the household dishes almost every day.  i feel extra bad about it now considering the filth i forced my past roommates to endure, but it took something special to make me change – it took Richie and a house and accepting responsibility.

So there i am doing dishes and i started thinking about making breakfast, mentally reviewing the contents of the fridge (i havent been shopping for a while so it’s sparse in there), but we did have a lot of apples. At first i was thinking of apple pancakes but once i looked at the clock i realized that while there was enough time to cook, there was not enough time to sit and eat. Hmmmm.

Then, eureka! I remembered that i have a wonderfully effective Basic Muffin Recipe that serves as a base for any mix-ins you can imagine. This time i cut an apple into little chunks (with peel on) and sauteed them with a little nutmeg and butter before adding them and some chopped pecans and ginger and a little more nutmeg to the batter. I had to extend the baking time to almost 25 minutes at 400 degrees and they are delicious. (you may have noticed that there is NO CINNAMON in this recipe and that’s because i hate cinnamon, except in the occasional savory application)

this recipe is from Frugal & Greenish which is written by the same lovely lady (Carolyn Ekins) who also write the 1940s Experiment which is also a really fun blog. She’s British so these muffins are of the Anglo variety – a little denser and chewier, not so crumbly and fall apartish as you might usually imagine. (below: my comments are in italics)

Basic Recipe for Breakfast Muffins (12 – its a hefty 12, could be 13 or 14 depending…)

* 2 or 2.5 cups of flour ( I use half white and half wholewheat/wholemeal usually – i use all white bc im a glutton and they are fab!)
* 1 cup of milk (may need more if using no moist added ingredients – she’s right on about that)
* 1/4 cup of fat (I use half this amount – i use the full 1/4 cup and used veg oil)
* 1 egg
* Up to 1/2 cup of sugar (use just a few teaspoons if making a savoury muffin)
* 2 teaspoon baking powder (i like to add a pinch or two more just to make sure they are light and fluffy)
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* Up to 1.5 cups of extra ingredients (dry or moist- could be raisins, nuts, fruit, grated carrot, applesauce, grated cheese etc)
* Herbs or spices

Put all dry ingredients in bowl and mix
Add all wet ingredients and mix together- doesn’t matter if the batter is lumpy. Underworked is better infact.
Pre-heat oven (i preheat my oven before i start mixiing because it doesn’t have a timer so i just have to hope its up to the right temperature after 10-15 minutes)
Bake for about 15 minutes or so at 200 C. (200 Celsius is about 400 Farenheit i think… These usually take more like 20-25 minutes in my oven)

so i guess this quarterlife crisis concept is a real thing now?

i actually think its a valid stage in life to discuss. I know that i have been greatly comforted by adult family friends telling me that the time in their lives right after college was the most difficult stage they’d ever experienced.

i have also found the time after college to be supremely difficult. I lost friends to death and moving abroad, I ended up living with my folks more than I wanted, I had an awful long-term relationship, I made some bad choices (some good ones too i hope), and it’s just been HARD.

Plus I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. When i try to shake off my mother’s feminism, and both my parents’ ambition and dedication to their jobs, I find that my desires are for a loving partner, a comfortable home, and a happy family. But how could i possibly aspire to just being a housewife? I can’t shake off those pressures to be “successful” for long, but will trying to fulfill them ever make me happy? it hasn’t worked so far…

lately i do feel as though i’m getting somewhere with this whole adult thing. i found the man i want to spend the rest of my life with, he has a house that he shares 50/50 with me, we have pets and plans, and i feel more comfortable being myself than i have in the past. I have quit smoking and reduced my other bad habits, including my temper. And i am actually happy to be getting older this year!

As the economy ravaged my emplyment plans to be a teacher, it has also reduced the pressure on me to be successful and get a job my parents can be proud to tell their friends about. And with that pressure reduced, i can relax – i can let myself be in a temporary position. i can be comfortable finding out that i will probably always be able to get some kind of administrative assistant job and that i have become a good employee. i certainly wasn’t always, but I am now. And that’s something – to know that you are more responsible and nicer to yourself than you were at 23…

and who knows? maybe half price books will be the perfect  home for another Huizenga?

there is a very very brave teacher out there with an awesome blog… Fed Up: School Lunch Project

She is eating school lunch every day (except the milk because she’s lactose intolerant) and she posts pictures of each meal with her thoughts on the subject.

I know there is a lot of talk about school lunch on the foodie blogs these days, but the gritty reality of what is actually being served in chicago public schools is still hard to confront.

Today's menu: peanut butter and jelly graham cracker sandwich, apple juice, fruit cup (peaches), milk

 

As a substitute teacher I have seen the pathetic looking food that students are served AND the excessive amount of individual packaging that it is served in (for ease of microwaving) and I have been appalled. Look at that lunch above, nothing is fresh! Everything is individually packaged, pre-cooked, pre-prepared, full of HFCS, preservatives and empty calories – is it really so hard to buy wheat bread, natural peanut butter and jelly and make a ton of sandwiches? Plus those weird cracker PB&Js are GROSS! CPS served them when I was in elementary school (as the constant “vegetarian” alternative) and they were disgusting then too!

Another big problem is that recess has been eliminated or severly limited in all CPS schools, and the time for eating lunch has also been decreased; which makes for twitchy little kids with lots of energy, no outlets for it, not enough appetite, who don’t eat as quickly as CPS wants them to. Which means a lot of them don’t eat much at all!

Its very hard to watch what goes on in the cafeteria at public schools, so MAD PROPS to this teacher who is risking her job and career to expose the truth about school lunches.

and if you’re interested, she has a flickr group that others can join to share their pics of school lunches too!

well we all know that NPR is basically the best thing ever, but this morning when i had to awaken at the brutal hour of 6am and come to work, NPR gave me yet another gift – Salt Marsh Diary, written by Mark Seth Lender

copyright Salt Marsh Diary

“…The Mystery of Great Blue Heron and his mate is not solved by science or by sovereignty. They appear, they vanish, they reappear. If the feel of the marsh is emptiness and even the air is still that is the time for patience. Do not hurry. Make no sound. Walking, use stealth. Watching, do not move. When Stillness pursues what is Still, all things are revealed.”

what a wonderful thing to hear on the radio in the harsh early morning!

and what a wonderful thing to suddenly realize that there are nature and birding blogs that i never thought to look for!!!

Boy meets girl

Boy and girl move in together and buy a bunch of pets

Boy goes to pet store on Valentine’s day and brings home bunny

4 days later bunny is obviously quite ill

Girl takes bunny back to pet store

Pet store calls to say bunny has parasite in his inner ear and it will take them 30 days to cure him

Do the boy and girl still want this bunny?

the options: 1) wait until bunny gets better and bring him back into our home, 2) pet store would order another bunny from the same breeder but we’d have to wait for them to be born/weaned/whatever, or 3) get a full refund (and potentially use that money to get another pet like a lizard which the Boy was initially looking for on V-day)

any votes?

(p.s. the truth is i’ve spent more time cuddling that stuffed gorilla than the bunny!)

Friday: had to work the morning shift, then come home to laundry, cleaning pet cages, and baked a cake for my dad’s birthday – it was a strange cake with a coconut topping that you put under the broiler. My broiler is like a drawer on the bottom of my ancient TAPPAN oven (in avocado green of course). So this basically involved me kneeling on my kitchen floor for 5 minutes watching the top of this cake brown but not letting it scorch.

It was not a very photogenic cake so no pics. i’ve noticed that  i don’t always make pretty food, and i don’t care that much. i get a little jealous when i see the awesome pictures of Erin’s perfect cupcakes, but mostly i just want to make food that tastes good and pleases my family

Saturday: Ultimately it was okay, everyone devoured their slices, but no one said anything really. My family kind of sucks in the general “showing appreciation” department. when i cook for them they say things like “thanks for cooking” but not “this food is so good and it is providing me pleasure and i appreciate that you have provided this slice of happiness for me”
They just aren’t that into food. They eat it and they like when they don’t have to do the work of preparing it and they can tell when it’s really bad (although with my dad that’s debatable) and that’s the end of it. 

Personally i thought the cake was too dense and i missed the middle section of frosting in a traditional layer cake, plus the topping was WAY too sweet! So whatever, not making that again.

Sunday: one of the best days i’ve had in a while even though i spent a lot of it semi-miserable due to intense allergies. (i’m allergic to basically everything it seems, ever since the heat has been turned on. even in my car or public places if i’m near a heating vent then my eyes are watering, my nose is running and my sinuses are burning.)

Anyway we got up and cleaned the rat cage, then i went off to do the grocery shopping (at ALDI’s my favorite place to shop in the whole world because the prices are low enough that i can relax and enjoy it) and Richie stayed home to clean and clean and clean. I got home and managed to take enough  medication to stop my symptoms, but of course then i was drowsy and out of it. So i had a red bull vodka while i made coleslaw.

Then Richie’s awesome cousins and friends came over and after i messed around in the kitchen for awhile, and an emergency trip into the oven for the fried chicken, we had dinner.

Unlike my family, Richie’s family actually likes food. They can tell when it’s mediocre, pretty good, awesome, and all gradations of quality in between. So when they couldn’t stop saying how good everything was, my heart just swelled up with pride and happiness. And then my best friend Caitlin called to say she was randomly in town, on the far south side, and did i want to go to an irish music jam session with her parents at a bar just around the block? WOOHOO!!! i made a delicious meal for a group of people whom i love and keep trying to impress, and my best friend who lives in New Orleans (and we both suck at keeping in touch so i hadn’t seen or barely even talked to her since august) is in the neighborhood – everything’s comin up Milhouse, you know?

We went out and had a blast, kickin it old school with these ancient irish guys with their cool instruments and poetry recitations, and it was just classic.

Then this morning i realized that i hadn’t taken any pics of the food! i’m a bad blogger i guess. but anyway i made some seriously delicious coleslaw with just cabbage, celery, carrot, full fat mayo, white wine mustard and a splash of white vinegar. Also fried chicken dipped in beaten eggs & milk, then in a combo of flour, generic bisquick baking mix, paprika, red pepper, black pepper, seasoned salt and chili poweder, then pan fried in a couple inches of veg oil and finished in the oven at about 400 degrees for 10-20 minutes (the bone-in breasts i bought were HUGE). I also made loaded smashed potatoes by boiling 5 lbs of red potatoes for 40 minutes, drained, roughly chopped and then stirred in a stick of butter, 1/2 cup sour cream, some milk and half and half. Then i cooked up about 1/3 of a package of bacon cut into 1-inch pieces, threw that into the taters with some of the grease and then topped each serving with shredded cheese. I used the bacon grease to make a roux then added chicken stock to make some majorly delicious gravy.

and boy are my arms tired… 🙂