Thanksgiving Traditions Thursday, Nov 25 2010 

,Many, many years ago I met the first love of my life. Two year later I was settling into my own apartment, drinking vats of white zinfandel, and watching Food Network endlessly. Today the only remnant of the Thanksgivings we spent together is Schmoo’s Sweet Potato Casserole recipe.

The thing is, no matter how much we want it, very little stays the same from year to year. I no longer even think about that first love, I (thankfully) no longer drink white zin, and Mario Batali no longer even has a Food Network show. But twice a year, every year, I pull out Schmoo’s recipe and make it for holiday dinner.

I wonder if Schmoo still makes the casserole for her own family; she handed that duty over to me all those years ago, grateful to have reached the age of wine drinking and relaxing at the kitchen table while the younger folk scrambled around and the kids shouted from the basement. Does her family still have this traditional casserole, or has the tradition moved sideways to my family and disappeared entirely from Schmoo’s? How many recipes move that way across time, disappearing from the original family while becoming a staple for another?

Schmoo’s Sweet Potato Casserole

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 cups mashed sweet potatos
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 1 tablespoon orange rind
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Peel and boil sweet potatoes until tender.
  2. Place milk and butter on low heat until butter melts.
  3. Mash sweet potatoes.
  4. Add sweet potatoes, one cup at a time, to milk and butter mixture.
  5. Beat in egg yokes one at a time.
  6. Add pecans, sugar, sherry, orange rind, salt, and nutmeg.
  7. In separate bowl, beat egg whites until still.
  8. Fold egg whites into potato mixture.
  9. Pour into 2 quart casserole and bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes.
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Tweeting and Eating Thursday, Aug 26 2010 

So I got a wild hair tonight and decided to go through all 150 of who/what/whatever I follow and Twitter (down to 149 now) and create a list for those in my hood. Seventy-six of them ended up on that list. And then I realized very, very, very many of those 76 are actually food or drink related.

This explains a number of things, mainly why Twitter is my primary source for finding a cool place to go at a moment’s notice. Yelp takes a close second. (I need to get back to my Yelp reviews, by the way.)

And then I had a brainstorm. I’m going to start actually writing about all these places I indulge in simply because I’ve added them to my Twitter feed. I’m brilliant. And humble. And ready for bed.

Pappa al Pomodoro and The Golden Girls Monday, Aug 23 2010 

I have various and sundry interests, among them, enjoying red wine, growing things in my yard, reading, and cooking. Oh, and watching The Golden Girls. Tonight, cooking prevailed.

Today was definitely a Monday in my job. I had to produce a handful of mind-numbingly detailed reports for a range of supervisors, which is never my favorite part of my job. What I like is people, being with people, talking to people, making a difference in people’s lives, teaching people to make a difference in their own lives, and spending time with all sorts of people. That? Did not happen today.

So I came home and planned to immediately disappear in my bedroom and not come out until after a few good episodes of The Golden Girls. Instead, I went outside with my dog and began immediately and aggressively removing weeds from my disappointment of a salsa garden. When there were, sadly, no more weeds to rip from the soil, I flipped on an episode and flopped down to pursue my planned lethargy.

Ah, heaven!

But they were cooking. Sophia is ALWAYS making something delicious and Italian, and my mind started wandering. To that one golden tomato I had left from my mother’s recent bounty. And to that stale loaf of Companion Bread I had been saving. I just searched their website to tell you specifically what bread it was, but I can’t find it on there. Someone who works at Companion brought in a bunch for us one day at work (along with some delicious pretzel bread). Suffice it to say, this bread had the perfect amount of both olive oil and crustiness and was seasoned lightly with some herb combination that made me think Italian, though I won’t swear by it publicly, so you can’t tell me I’m wrong.

I digress.

My mind wandered and I ended up in my (hot) kitchen, throwing together an easy pappa al pomodoro or, in English, bread with tomatoes. From what I hear, it’s Tuscan but since I’ve never been to Italy, I won’t swear by that publicly so you can’t tell me I’m wrong about that, either.

And it was an amazing dinner. What with it being tomato harvest around the US and all, I thought I’d share this so you, too, can enjoy a simple and delicious dinner that makes good use of the approximately 2,000 tomatoes you have right now (unless you’re like me, with a tomato garden on strike).

  • Throw some olive oil in the bottom of a pot.
  • When it’s hot, add in onions. Tonight I diced them finely, though I have made it before with big chunks. I think I prefer the chunks, but you’re cooking for you, not me.
  • When they’re sizzling nicely, add in 3-5 cloves of chopped garlic. Three gives you a nice garlicky taste. Five will keep the vampires away.
  • Add crushed red pepper to your liking. I like mine hot. If you actually have a thriving salsa garden, you can skip the flakes and use a fresh jalapeno. That was so delicious last year, when I had fresh jalapenos that actually grew.
  • Now it’s time for the tomatoes. If you’re doing fresh, you need to either get out your immersion blender or your big old counter-space-stealing blender. Now blend those tomatoes until they’re mush. If I’m using fresh, I usually save one or two (this time the golden one) to add texture (and, tonight, color) to the final product.
  • If you’re not going the fresh route with tomatoes, throw in a large can (mine was 28 oz) of chopped/crushed tomatoes.
  • Add 1.5-2 cups of water.
  • Toss in your stale bread, chopped into bite-size chunks.
  • If it looks too bready, add some more water. I usually don’t add more than another .5 cup, though. The final product should be very much a mush of tomatoes and bread.
  • Let simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Eat.
  • Rave about what a fabulous cook you are. Or, preferably, let others do this while you sit back with a modest smile on your face.

Because I was using cooking as therapy tonight, I didn’t even think to get my camera out to document this all for you (which is good because I still haven’t located that stupid USB cord for it). Instead, I leave you with another picture of Sophia, creating an Italian concoction that I’m sure rivals mine.

Sophia makes something yummy

In Which I Jump in Some Water Sunday, Aug 22 2010 

This weekend I took a trip away from the big city. The girls and I usually take this trip twice a year, once when we expect the weather to be bad and once when we expect to be able to enjoy some lake time. Except what usually happens is it rains. A lot. And then we just end up drinking and playing Apples to Apples.

This trip did not bode well from the beginning. We decided to stop for a sit down dinner on the way out of town because I was starving and whiny. Our waitress was SLOW. As in, after 15 minutes of waiting for her to bring us our check, I was about to lead us all out of there in one big refusal to pay when her supervisor came over and took our payments. That was unfortunate because I’ve always wanted to walk out of somewhere without paying, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

With the delay, we were on just the right schedule to drive through the apocalypse, one of those Midwestern-almost-tornado-can’t-see-anything downpours. You know, like we were used to having when we wanted to get out to the lake. A trip that generally takes three hours took damn near six and let’s just say none of us were a pleasure to be around by the time we finally pulled up at the house. A check of the next day’s forecast did not put us in a better mood.

The next morning, though, the weather gods changed their minds and I was able to actually GET IN THE LAKE for the first time since we’ve been going down there. And we were 16 the first time we went down there. So it’s been a while. A marvelous time was had by all, even the one of us who believes she will need an amputation if her feet are submerged in the lake water. It take all kinds, though, and her kind is good for sitting on the dock and throwing new beers out to the floaters. And for taking pictures. Here I am with my BFF. You can tell we are no longer two whiny asses. Tomorrow I should be able to add a picture of my crazy self going down the water slide because, yes, I did clear the cobwebs off that slide. I’m badass like that.

Some Questions Tuesday, Aug 17 2010 

Why do people think they can call up a place of business and start yelling? Who gets paid enough to put up with that?

Why don’t they make TV shows like they used to? Ever since Mad About You was *almost* over, there’s very little I can get into. I mean, The Office is pretty good, so I guess there’s that.

Why is my mail person scared of the Yorkie-ish dog who lives with me? Someday when I’m home, I’m going to introduce her to the mail person just because I want to see the mail person’s face when she/he meets this little, furry thing that was sold to me as a Yorkie but quite possibly may not be.

Why do vacations ever have to end? Why can’t life be a vacation and we can take two weeks a year to go to work?

Why can’t there be wine vending machines in my state? Except I want mine on the street corners, right by every bus stop.

Why can’t The Bloggess live next door to me? Or even on the opposite corner would be okay. I just think evenings on my porch with wine would be much more fun with The Bloggess involved.

Why don’t I have a picture of my dog online so I can show you all how totally not scary she is? Or, better yet, why don’t I know where the cord for my camera is so I could just take one for you all right now?

Instead, let me leave you with Murray, the horrible mouse chaser from Mad About You.

Where I’ve Been Saturday, Aug 14 2010 

I’ve been gone for a few months. What have I been up to?

I’ve been working, appeasing some angry folks and pissing others off.

I helped behind the scenes for a production of Curtains, a musical theater junkies know as The One That Won David Hyde Pierce His Tony and no one else has heard of.

I went to a baseball game.

I planted quite a few gardens in my yards. My pumpkins are doing well; my butterfly garden is, well, a mulched area in the back corner of my yard. Two sets of tomato seedlings did not make it. My summer squash came up all warty, like the stuff you put on your dining room table for decoration in the fall. I now have more autumn decorations than any woman needs for a lifetime.

I spent a week on the Florida panhandle, remembering once again why I need a pool and easy access to the Gulf in my life. I touched a tar ball the Coast Guard missed in its overnight clean up. I watched shrimping boats, currently employed by BP, floating on the horizon, stalking the Gulf for signs of oil. I sat on the dock and listened to my uncle lament that he was unable to fish for the first summer in his life. I drank a lot of mullets, read a lot of books, and spent a lot of time ignoring work emails for once.

I broke down and bought a Kindle on Craigslist. As I’m not rolling in expendable income, I have discovered some great free reads, my two favorite being Diary of a Nobody and The Evil Guest. Years ago, I devoured Madame Bovary in a summer afternoon on my parents’ front porch. I’m taking the time to read it slowly now, remembering why it was so magical back then.

I’ve spent some time reacquainting myself with folks I’ve lost touch with for one reason (moves during childhood) or another (grown up life taking over).

I went to one wedding and skipped out on two others.

I cooked some amazing dinners from CSA goodies, some I’d never eaten before in my life.

I’ve Tweeted a lot, Facebooked a bit less, and spent amazing days with my nephews and niece.

And now I’m back to the world of blogging.

Are You Ready to be Jealous? Thursday, May 6 2010 

Because I have a volleyball injury (probably why old ladies shouldn’t play sports), I will let you know how jealous you should be in picture form. Please meet my weekend plans:

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on Monday, which is not what I prefer to focus on yet.

Expect pictures from a weekend of sister debauchery sometime in the next few days.

Drunk College Idiocy Tuesday, May 4 2010 

The Badger Herald: News: UW student suffers serious head wound, struck by falling picture.

This is my coworker’s daughter. You should see the pictures of her head. Sixteen stitches, cleanly done but jaggedly placed from the top of her head down to near her left eyebrow.

So what the story doesn’t say is this. The picture (one of those huge framed things with all the frat boys’ individual pictures on it) was thrown off the balcony. By a dumbass visiting from Boston College. A dumbass from Boston College who fled from the police. A dumbass from Boston College who fled from the police whose father is, allegedly, a high-powered bankruptcy attorney in Chicago.

Bigwigs from the school and the fraternity have been wonderful to her. And the dumbass’ father, allegedly, convinced him to turn himself in. Which I’m sure is true…because the dumbass did turn himself in. And apologized to the girl. As if that does anything to pay her current medical bills or her future ones…since I’m certain she will get some reconstructive surgery to keep her from spending the rest of her life looking like Frankenstein.

I, personally, am so glad she wasn’t drinking at the time. I imagine a head wound of that size would bleed like crazy with a high BAC. I’m also glad she wasn’t, say, looking at the dumbass on the balcony…or she probably would have lost an eye.

So now I feel I’ve done my part to humiliate this dumbass rich boy from Boston College in a blog that no one reads on an internet full of stories about much bigger examples of drunk college idiocy. I say we all go sic a pack of rabid baby goats on him.

Boobquake??? Monday, Apr 26 2010 

I totally fucking forgot about dressing for the occasion today. That would be because when I woke up I remembered all of us bigwigs were cleaning the attic at work today. And it’s just hard to carry all that trash up and down three inch wide stairs…without having to worry about your boobs slipping out and exposing themselves (ala Beyonce) to every single human you work with.

So…good job to all those boobs who proved cleavage does not cause an earthquake.

Although, I am almost kind of sad. It would be kind of neat to be all angry and tell all of the female internets to show all their boobs which would then result in an earthquake…which would TOTALLY show my boss that I AM a force to be reckoned with and he should think twice before making me get up in the attic again and miss the next Boobquake.

Boobquake 2010 Sunday, Apr 25 2010 

If I’m going to show cleavage at work, I may as well have a great reason to do so. This, I dare say, is one hell of a reason.

Boobquake | Facebook.

To be updated tomorrow…if the earthquake aftermath allows.

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