A Meme, at T Minus 1 Day


OK, friends, I’m not really one to do these sorts of things, but Robin Sue at Big Red Kitchen tagged me for this meme, and so how can I say no? But one more thing before you plunge into the below lists: We are T-1 day to Thanksgiving. As in, it's tomorrow! Oh. My. Gosh. Something I’ve been meaning to tell you, planning to tell you for the past few weeks is that, this year, I will be doing the family feast. Yes, you read that right. My mom will still be making pumpkin pie, mainly because hers is perfect. But the rest is me. This whole prospect is terrifying and exciting, both, lightened only slightly by the fact that we are trimming the meal down because of location—we’re celebrating at the Wisconsin cabin. In fact, we are driving there right now. When I return, I promise stories, recipes and a full review of everything in between. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! On with the meme! 7 Things I Did before 1. Went to college in Florida 2. Went to college in Wisconsin 3. … [Read more...]

For a Brilliant Toffee-Lover on his Birthday


To tell you about my dad, I could highlight some of the grand gestures he’s made, and he's made many. He bought me a diesel Volkswagon before my sophomore year of college, for example, which saved me tons of gas money through years of Wisconsin-to-Illinois road-trips and which is the same car I drive today. He had me investing in the stock market at 17; he helped me find my first job; he paid for braces, private schools, vacations and more things than I can remember. He put me through college and grad school. But to really demonstrate why I love him, I’d rather tell you about simpler, everyday things. Like the other day while he waited for my mom’s car to be repaired, he called to tell me Macy’s was having a 55% off sale. Like every time he notices my gas is low, he quietly borrows my car and fills the tank. When I told him I liked listening to a certain talk radio station, he bought me an XM radio for my car, handed me the box one night like it was the mail. It was a good deal, he … [Read more...]

That’s One Point for Me

In case anyone's keeping track, I have not given up on pie. No, sir. In fact, since the Great Pumpkin Pie Disaster, I've tried again not once, but twice. (And I'll be darned if I'm not going to find a way to screw up a few more well-meaning crusts, too. My dear friend Kelley sent me her go-to, and my old roommate Sonja teases me with promises that her grandma's is the best. We shall see.) Observing these things, my mom, kind woman that she is, went so far as to assure me she's got Thanksgiving's pumpkin pie covered this year. This was after my brother begged her to promise not to let me mess it up. This family of mine, they're cheerleaders, you can tell. All these things withstanding, no matter how many signs the universe sends that pie crust is just not my thing, along with skiing, swimming or, let's face it, any sport requiring a level of coordination, I have not given up. Won't give up. Am determined to get the hang of this stuff if it's the last thing I do. (Pie, are you … [Read more...]

for days like these

Every now and then, it's good to be reminded of one's relative unimportance, I think. To say to yourself: I am just one of the many __________, for heaven's sake! (Insert your title there, be it waitress or lawyer or salesperson or, well, you know, copywriter.) In the grand scheme of things, life will go on without me, and everyone will be fine. What seems so important in the light of a few angry exchanges today won't matter a bit in a few years (Or months! Or days!) from now. In fact, some time all too soon, I probably won't even remember it. Do you ever have days like that? Days where you are repeating to yourself handy little sayings like, "You aren't a brain surgeon, you know?" (Unless, of course, you are a brain surgeon, in which case I don't know what you say to yourself when having such a day. But, on second thought, you probably don't even get that luxury, and you're definitely not reading my little blog. My outlook is improving already.) Well, here's what I suggest next … [Read more...]

The Grow-on-You-Fast Cookies

The day after I made cowboy cookies, eating two of them at my desk in the middle of the afternoon, I told my coworkers that I wasn't very impressed. The cookies were fine, good maybe, but they weren't anything that special. A chocolate-chip cookie at heart, they include extras like coconut and nuts and oatmeal, becoming something too complicated and yet fairly simple at the same time. I managed to polish off both cookies, though, commenting aloud that they really were just fine, all while looking down at my plastic baggie, more sad than I'd admit that it was empty. That was the first batch. One habit I've developed after my experience with the New York Times chocolate-chip cookies is chilling the dough before baking (well, that and forming it all into rounded balls and placing the lot of them on the cookie sheet in the fridge ahead of time, meaning later I can just pull out as many as I want, ready to bake). So the first day I made cowboy cookies was the day I made the batter: … [Read more...]

FlatTop Grill

When a restaurant sends you a coupon for a free meal, no matter what kind of food or if it's a chain, you go. No questions asked. That's how I ended up at FlatTop Grill in Lombard the other night. They send free birthday-meal coupons if you register (so if you're interested, and near Illinois/Wisconsin/Indiana, go here), which is how my brother got one, and why I went with him for some stir-fry. (Plus, I really didn't want a certain horrible dining experience to be my latest restaurant memory for too long. I'm nothing if not a try-again eater.) FlatTop, if you've never heard of it, revolves around a concept that's not especially new: essentially, it's make-your-own stirfry, where you fill a bowl with your choice of veggies, sauces, meat and give it to the strong men around the grill, who fry it all up for you. It's a lot like Mongolian Barbeque, if that's more familiar, but with a few changes. 1) Stir-fry only. Other menu options, beyond drinks, are just appetizers and … [Read more...]

Say This for It

The one good thing about being sick is getting well again, seeing with new eyes all you took for granted. After gingerly eating unbuttered toast, applesauce and chicken noodle soup, you foray back into the world of food, beginning with more substantial soups and buttered rolls, then moving to small portions of meatloaf or candied sweet potatoes, relearning to eat what everyone else is having. It’s a lot like being a child again, when you’re promoted from milk to pureed vegetables to little bites of normal bread or fruit. Each new food is a taste you’ve not had, a flavor you’ve lived without. And that first bite of banana is so interesting, so different, the feel of it on your tongue, so exciting, that you are thrilled with a world of possibility. One thing you can say for a banana: it sticks with you, even when you’re coming off a horrible, horrible stomach cleansing. This week, I’ve eaten one almost every day. And, for someone who usually finds the texture of bananas rather … [Read more...]