In 70 Minutes…

The first person who I remember from gestation on is going to turn 18. I remember her as a squalling infant & she is, very shortly, going to be a legal adult. Although I don’t put too much stock in what a certain age should feel like, I do know that this made me pause. One uncomfortable moment came when I remembered a conversation I had with her as I turned 18. She was 5 & impressed by my advanced age. She asked me how old I’d be when she turned 18 (“finally turned 18” is how she, at 5, phrased it), and I laughed and said, “Wow! 31!”

Suddenly 31 isn’t seeming so wow-worthy.

Regardless, she is beautiful, moody, bright, frustrating, gregarious, a high-school graduate & has a wicked sense of humor. Happy birthday, Lily.

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Things I Like

Any recipe that involves s’mores is great. I’ve tried s’mores cookies & s’mores brownies & used the leftovers to make regular s’mores. Something about the combination of chocolate, marshmallows & graham just screams summer to me. Be kind & don’t point out that I originally said the s’mores cookies were perfect for winter. I think that combination is always perfect. How about that?

I can’t remember if I put this song on any mix I’ve sent out, but I can’t stop listening to it. (Band of Horses – The Funeral) I know I’ve included some music by Band of Horses on some mix, but this song in particular has been resonating with me recently.

Okay, seriously – 10 inspiring images of balloons – Who DOESN’T want to click that link??

Also, I doubt that anyone who was in junior high around the same time as I was would turn down this gem.

Ridiculous Things My Husband Says

Today, my husband walked into the computer room, and this conversation ensued…

  • him: So, [mutual friend] & I are going to go push my car. Do you want to come?
  • me: Is your car broken?
  • him: Well, no.
  • me: Why would you want to push your car then?
  • him: Well, there’s this strength exercise that requires a specialized sled with 45-pound weights on it & ramping up the difficulty while pushing it in 20-second bursts of strength & stamina. We don’t have that sled, so we’re going to take my car to an abandoned field & take turns pushing it. So, –
  • me: No.

Recipes + First Official Summer BBQ

We had a delicious BBQ for Memorial Day & tried out a bunch of new recipes. If you’re interested in summer fare, these might be for you. Note: My husband barbecued short ribs & sausage, and I prepped corn on the cob & potato halves (still trying & failing to get the delicious salty baked potato like Outback Steakhouse – my favorite place for potatoes). However, none of those are difficult / original / online recipes. And, if you can’t tell, I love The Pioneer Woman & Smitten Kitchen & cook from their recipes often.

Hits

Baked Beans – Wow! I already have a spicy baked beans recipe that I completely love, but sometimes sweet baked beans are just right. All four of us ate multiple helpings of these beans. They were seriously that good. I was kicking myself for halving the recipe, even though half the recipe makes more than four people should eat. This was definitely my favorite recipe of the night.

Key Lime Pie – This pie was relatively simple to make & absolutely delicious. It tasted like it had a lot more work put into it & balanced the right amount of tartness with the sweet. It was my favorite of all of the (four) desserts made. I used the rest of the whipped cream on the top (see: strawberry cake below) & it added a little creaminess, but I think it would be just fine without.

Strawberry Icebox Cake – The boys really liked this one, but I was just iffy on it. However, neither strawberries nor whipped cream are high on my list of favorite foods, so perhaps I am a bit biased. It all melds together as promised & is good. I think the chocolate on top was completely unnecessary, so feel free to omit.

S’mores Brownies – I have actually made these twice. The first time (last Monday), I followed the recipe to the letter & was disappointed by the marshmallows (too gooey, didn’t crisp on top) & the brownies being too cakey & not sweet enough (the graham cracker crust needs to be cut with some sweetness, in my opinion). This time, I substituted my current favorite brownie recipe (omitting the salt) & cut the squares into 1.5″ squares with half a large marshmallow in the center of each one. They were two-bite sized, which is about perfect (the crust is crumbly) & easy to cut since the marshmallows aren’t sticking together. Additionally, the sweetness of the brownies is just right. We used our hand torch (previously only used for creme brulee) & still didn’t quite get the caramelized consistency I wanted, but regardless, they were much better overall!

Misses

Banana Ice Cream – This one ingredient experiment DID work. You can make ice cream with just frozen bananas. However, it simply tastes like creamy bananas. We added some honey & peanut butter, but it was still only okay. If you’re looking for a way to get kids to eat bananas, this might be worth making. Otherwise, it dirties a food processor & is only marginal. It’s worth making once for the novelty, but I won’t repeat it.

Corn Bread – Maybe I am too accustomed to sweeter corn bread, but this one just tasted wrong to me. I didn’t like the lack of sweetness. I didn’t like the too-much shortening. Also, even though the batter was swimming in shortening, it still stuck to the pan & I baked it just under the recommended time & it was a bit too crispy for my taste. Now, we were playing Mexican Train Dominoes while waiting for this (the last piece of dinner) to finish, so somehow I might’ve messed up, but I’ll stick with my Marie Callendar’s mix. Even after four different types of homemade corn bread, only this one matches it for tastiness & the mix is so much simpler…

Thank you to the guys for being such patient taste testers & rankers of recipes.

Food & Music = A Great Weekend

We went away for the weekend & escaped to wander around the bay area (a day each in Berkeley, Oakland & San Francisco). All of the food we had was deeeelicious.

  • Berkeley = Our favorite burger place ever – Barney’s! Their spicy, curly fries with ranch are amazing & the burgers are delicious too. There are locations all over the bay, so look around. They are definitely worth it. Also, technically we had dinner in Berkeley on Saturday night at La Note Provencal. The food was great, but they were oddly busy when we got there (to the tune of an hour wait when they said 30 minutes) & oddly empty when we left (four tables only). I guess 6pm is their rush, so avoid that time. Cute ambiance & tasty food though.
  • Oakland = BBQ! It’s hard to get BBQ sauce just right & Everett & Jones did! Their medium sauce was just the right blend of sweet & spicy, and their links were great!
  • San Francisco = I went to this bakery today & almost died. Everything we had was perfect! And, of course, no trip to the mission district is complete without ice cream.

Possibly the best part about those meals is that they were all reasonably priced. With drinks & tax & tip, no meal exceeded $20 per person & most came in closer to $10.

We went to the bay area to celebrate my husband & I having days off together (lamentably, a rare occurence) & because we had tickets to a couple of different shows. On Friday night, we saw Flight of the Conchords, and on Saturday night, we saw She & Him. The highlight of the FotC show was definitely when they asked the entire audience to stand up & dance to “Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor.” People were screaming & bouncing & dancing. It was pretty contagiously exciting, especially Bret’s ridiculous dancing. They sort of just say whatever they want, which is amusing, if disjointed. She & Him ended their show with “I Put a Spell on You,” and it was just awesome. It was perfect for Zooey’s voice. This is a poor quality video, but I highly recommend it. Ignore the people frantically screaming. She really did nail it. I loved the band-less part of that show – when it was just the two of them. Awesome.

And, if that wasn’t enough, we’re barbecuing tomorrow in honor of having another day off together! Life is great.

The Sweetest Taste

Although I was fully prepared to pony up the $15 for Amuse Brunch tickets, my slow computer at school took forever reloading when they went up for sale & they were sold out in literally less than five minutes. Disappointed, I figured I’d try again next time. Then, Susan from Wild Yeast (the person / blog that linked to the San Francisco Food Wars website & the way I found out about it) had a giveaway of two tickets… and I won!

Now, delicious cooks making & serving gourmet bites of brunch to me is fabulous enough, but going for free? FANTASTIC. Sunday cannot come soon enough!

Things I Like

I am digging this guy’s Twitter & website (the latter of which is largely made of drawings such as these):

 

His humor is making me smile today. He also has a store if you cannot live without these any longer. As his prints are only $10, I might indulge in one or three myself.

I am also enchanted by samplers. I did one of these samplers when I was in sixth grade & completely stuck to the prescribed pattern, thinking that was the assignment. I ruthlessly followed the directions & turned out a well-done, if uninspired, fawn or some such tripe. My teacher then told us we were supposed to use our imaginations (way to keep the creativity on the down low until after the assignment is turned in), and I threw away my project & never tried cross-stitching again. True story. I do think this is adorable though.

If you haven’t seen it yet, the When Harry Met Sally horror remix is awesome, especially if you love the movie.

Lastly, I love this cloud necklace. It’s delicate & girly & lovely.