An Ode to Mark Bittman

image (2).jpg

Spike and I have similar taste in cuisine.

Can we just take a second to say thank you to Mark Bittman for his Kitchen Express? I used this cookbook back in…San Francisco, Kentucky, I don’t even remember…it got lost in one of the many moves, I gave myself 2 years to find it, it never showed back up, so a few months ago I invested in a new one. This is the best FREAKING cookbook on the planet.

Know what I love about it? There are no measurements. There are no haughty instructions, no fancy cooking words, no obscure ingredients that you need to buy a $15 jar of for one teaspoon and then left to sit in your fridge for another year and a half before you find it again and are like, “What the F is agar-agar?”

The recipes are all like, “season the meat with xyz, chop up some onion, carrot, and celery and heat it in olive oil and garlic, throw the meat on there and season with chili powder, or don’t, who am I to tell you what you like to eat.” I love it. And everything comes out tasting DELICIOUS. And they really do take like 30 minutes to cook. Even for a total kitchen/meal destroyer like myself.

Case in point: I just opened the book and read one recipe (which is only 4 lines of text). Here is an excerpt:

“…mix in a handful of chopped parsley, salt, pepper, a teeny bit of garlic, (optional) or shallot (or red onion, or scallion, or whatever), and if you have it, a sprig of rosemary.”

“or whatever”. My kind of cook. Two thumbs up.

This Year


No, but seriously.  I’ve been taking an exceptional number walks.  It’s a problem.

file_000-31i baked this cake for my friend’s birthday, then ate the entire thing by myself

One thing that really isn’t helping is the fact that my sister is literally posting pictures of her abs on social media.  Because she has abs to post, not a doughy mid-section mass.

I know, the holidays, self-discipline, blah blah.  But let’s be real.  I blame Trump.

IMG_20160610_121839there used to be 5 of those on there

Or *blamed* Trump.  Then I saw this:


Because everything else wasn’t enough.

And I realized, there is just no fighting it.  This year is unstoppable. Resistance is futile.

2016, you win.  I surrender.  Bring on the bonbons.

Stay Wild


I never take selfies (“WHY??” I hear your collective mental chorus screaming, as you take in the above shot).  And no, before you ask, that picture has not been photoshopped.  That is me in my natural state about 3 minutes ago.  No makeup, no fancy filters.  In my PJs. All. Natural. Even the eye bags.  #blessed

But the thing is, because I never have my camera turned around, I always forget that on my phone the automatic built-in setting for selfies is called “Beauty face”.   And it says it right there on the screen.  Every time.

beauty face


It’s the best.

ANYWAYYYY…the reason I took the selfie in the first place is because this morning three extraordinary things happened:

  1. I have no clients today
  2. Paul is home and took the kids for an hour
  3. My coffee was really, really good

So the obvious direction my morning would take was to drink another cup of coffee — HOT coffee — BY MYSELF and do something “productive”.

I never drank coffee until I started getting up at 4:45am to coach swim practice before work.  And even then half the time I’d drink tea.  Because coffee stains your teeth and gives you bad breath and is addictive.

Today, if I could mainline coffee, I would.

But maybe it’s a good thing I can’t, because I have found that drinking a really good cup first thing in the morning is one of the best things IN THE WORLD.  Right up there with a getting a surprise package in the mail or a good morning BM.  It can change the course of your entire day.  And this morning, my coffee was DELICIOUS.  And I am riding that high.

That’s all.  That’ my entire point.  The message I felt compelled to shout from the rooftops.  Good coffee is so good.  Highly recommend getting some.

And if you were wondering…


That is the coffee I had this morning.  Garibaldi Goods is where you can buy it and other delicious things.

Happy Friday.

Monday Monday

IMG_20130613_205414hula greeter at the autoshop in the late afternoon sun. 

Glorious Monday!

8am.  In the office kitchen minding my own business, making myself some breakfast, when my coworker walks in.  She takes one look at me, points to the breakfast  I’m mixing together and, with a completely appalled look on her face:

“What.  Is that.”
“Oh, it’s just plain yogurt and some dry cereal mixed together.”
“What is that stuff?”
“Yeah, like strawberry jelly. I mix a little in there too because plain yogurt by itself is…well, plain.”
“Yeah.  It looks horrible.”

…says the woman who introduced me to chitlins and chicken livers, which look like this:

cooked-chitlinsi chose the most appetizing picture of chitlins i could find, you’re welcome

Great week ahead!


It’s starting to look like…

…like Spike got a new football jersey!  (because his old one was too small).  And he is HAP-PY.

School’s back in session, the football stadium PA system is back up and running (you can hear it from our house, Spike flips every time, so that’s fun), and on Sunday I ran for over an hour with J and didn’t even feel like I was going to keel over and die from heat.  I put a SWEATSHIRT on Saturday morning.

You know what all of this means.  Fall’s coming.

And what do you do during the fall in Kentucky (aside from chase bourbon and line up for Midnight Madness so you can live in a tent on campus for a week before the acutal event)?

Make jam!  (I know it’s still August, but Paul’s working 24 hour shifts and I figured it’d be good practice.)

So, full disclosure, these are not our strawberries.  Our strawberry bush in the back of the yard suffered the same tininess problem as our raspberries this year.  So these came from the farmers market.

First step was to pull out and dust off the country living bible.

It has about 30 recipes for various types of jams, jellies, and preserves.  Of course. Strawberry jam had 2 ingredients and 4 steps.  Decision made.

We already had all the gear (big pot, lids, tops, jars, tongs, rack, etc) which had been used for a lot of pickling.  But no preserves yet.

First, wash.  Then hull.

First attempt I tried to hull with the apple corer.  Stupid.  Don’t do that.  Use a butter knife.

Then you take the berries and you mash ’em, you mash ’em (Molly, name that song.)

Then it’s time for ingredient #2: sugar!  Mix some of that in.

Try not to lose your spoon in the mush.

Then comes the fun part: dump the whole thing in a pot…

..and start stirring.

Stir and stir and stir some more, so it doesn’t burn, until it starts to boil.  Then…keep stirring!

During this time I started sterilizing the jars and lids.  Also started boiling the big pot of water for the final sterilization process. Also realized why this is a cold weather activity (I was sweating profusely.)

Then, when the jam was thick (almost an hour and a half of stirring later….seriously.  Fortunately my sister in law gave me the password for her HBO GO so I could watch Girls the whole time), I pulled the jars and lids out of the oven, dumped the jam in them jars, screwed the lids on (but not super tight), and threw them in the boiling water for 10 minutes.

The water should be about 2 inches above the top of the jars (so ignore that big one sticking out).  Then took them out for the REALLY exciting part, where you hear the jars suction themselves shut as they cool.


It looks a little…foamy.  Maybe I was supposed to scrape that off the top?  Reading directions has never been my forte.  We’ll find out when we taste it.

For those of you who don’t own The Book and want more sophisticated instructions than “mash the berries and stir”, there are a million recipes online (like here and here and here, from my friend Neeley.)


Paul is on a soft boiled egg kick.

Fortunately, we have this hand-crocheted egg warmer shaped like a chicken (a wedding gift from Paul’s German aunt, she made them), boiled egg holders, and special spoons to scoop the eggs out of the shell.  So at least we were properly equipped when his craving kicked in.

Apparently the Germans take their soft boiled eggs seriously.

We also happen to be overflowing with eggs (anyone local interested in some fresh eggs, let me know.)  Romy and Michelle are UNSTOPPABLE.

…and for your enjoyment, the best way to peel a hard boiled egg, courtesy of Tim Ferris.

Consider yourself enlightened.

Happy Monday.

Marching on…

these guys were out in bloom almost 2 weeks ago...everything is confused by the weather

Hope everyone had a great leap day and made the best of those extra 24 hours…

The beginning of March signals…the end of February Fitness.  So how did it go?

Swimming: I was right around 40,000 yards again (about 10K a week), which was whatever.  BUT! The good news is that trying to squeeze in the yards helped me figure out that if I fudge my schedule, I can and swim 3x a week by squeezing in a short swim right after coaching morning practice (instead of the 1x a week I was doing last season).  This a habit I will continue to follow into March and beyond.  So, success.

Sugar:  Aside from Joe’s birthday cake, the Ale 8 and Moon Pie (which, due to cultural sensitivities, I couldn’t decline), a trip to Orange Leaf (which is really chemicals, not sugar), and one day at work where I had a total meltdown and ate like 5 mini chocolate bars, I ROCKED IT (I know that sounds like I didn’t rock it, but for me it was a huge step in the right direction).  Sugar loses.  I win.

No bitching rule:  Errrrrr…2 out of 3 isn’t bad.

SO!  What’s up in March?

Now that I can run again (I ran 6 this morning without pain…heck yeah) training for Hawaii is starting to really happen. The unseasonably warm weather hasn’t hurt either.  Alison, who is in the process of getting her coaching certification, is using me as her first client…or guinea pig.  So she’s the boss from here on out.  Bring it.

Also happening in March, apparently a lot of this:

Despite the uneventful morning weather, the weathermen are predicting Armaggedon this afternoon.  They closed the public schools at noon.  I got sent home from work at 1:30.  Jim Cantore is here in Lexington.  We are currently a 9 on the TOR:CON Index.  Apparently sh*t’s about to go down.  But right now, the sun is shining and things are calm.

So, in the meantime, I’m sitting on the in-laws back porch (they have a basement, we don’t) enjoying the unseasonably warm sunny weather with Spike.  And secretly freaking out on the inside.

Happy Friday.

Update: We are now a TORCON 10.  And I’m following Jim Cantore on Twitter.

Gimme Some ‘More

{the city, from park across the street from Molly’s apartment}

Last weekend Paul and I hopped on a quick flight over to Baltimore (which has its own official webpage, if you were wondering) to surprise Joe for his 30th bday.

When my sister moved to Baltimore last year and started raving about what a great place it was to live, I was like, whatever.  I’ve seen The Wire.

Welp, turns out Baltimore is kind of awesome.  My sister and Joe live in Federal Hill, where there are approximately 400 really fantastic restaurants and bars within walking distance of their apartment.  The neighborhood sits right on the bay, it’s a 15 minute walk from downtown, and craft beer abounds.

They also have crab tots, which are just as delicious as they sound.

My roommate from freshman year of college, who I haven’t seen in like 8 years and who also happens to live in Baltimore, picked us up from the airport, which was beyond fantastic.  Molly took a pic of us, but it was taken in the rain, in the dark, and we both look like corpses.  So I’ll spare you.

Molly put together a little shindig on Saturday night for Joe, which was great.  A few people we knew when we were kids from SB who just happen to live in B’more showed up:

(please ignore my shapeless body)

…and at the end of the night Molly ran home with what remained of the monstrosity that was Joe’s birthday cake.

(The chef couldn’t find his 9” cake pan, so he used his 12” pan.  It was the size of a car tire.)

The next day was really cold and windy.  Molly had to leave early for Texas where she’s doing some pre-deployment training, so Joe, Paul, and I wandered around the city…

…stopped by a car show, where this happened…

(it started coming at me as I took the picture, scared the crap out of me).  And we ate some crab tots.  Then we flew home.

Good times.  Hope to go back soon.  Happy 30th Joe!

Feb Fitness: Day 1


The atmosphere at work yesterday was super stress with a hint of homicdial.  So when I got home I figured I’d hit up good ol’ P Dubs to make the house smell nice and bring up office spirits today through…fat.  And sugar.  To sit around the office the day after I swore it off.  I am full of great ideas.

I don’t think these turned out as well as the traditional buns did (different dough recipe), but they were still a hit and I didn’t eat any.  Woot self control.  Day 1 down.  No swimming today, kick that off tomorrow.

Battle of the Buns

To start off, I need to mention our Xmas present this year from my parents:

I know.  It’s ridiculous and beautiful.

The day it arrived Paul decided he wanted to use it to make cinnamon buns RIGHT AWAY.  He found a recipe out of the Kitchen Aide instructional book and got to work.

This first attempt wasn’t documented, but that’s probably not a bad thing.  We used the recipe for sweet dough in the KA book for the dough, which turned out fine, but the final product was…not fine. The rolls unraveled, all the cinnamon and sugar in the middle fell out…wasn’t pretty.

Attempt #2.   This time Paul chose the cinnamon bun recipe from All Recipes.  Instructions on the recipe for how to make the dough was “throw the ingredients into a bread maker”, which we don’t have.  So Paul kind of winged it, using a modified version of instructions on how to make bread from the Book while sticking with the ingredients on the internet (yes, this attempt was doomed from the start.)  Anyway, the dough didn’t rise as much as usual, but the buns still looked promising enough going into the oven.



Little, hard, and turd-like.  They shrank in the oven.  What a sad excuse for a cinnamon roll.

Paul took this all very personally, and by the third attempt was on the warpath.  (Keep in mind that it takes a few hours each time you make the dough, because you have to let it sit and rise and yadda yadda a few times in addition to all the prep and baking.)  So I thought I’d do him a favor and brought in the pinch hitter: Pioneer Woman.  Because everyone knows Pioneer Woman doesn’t mess around.

Attempt #3.  We cut this recipe in half, since PW’s recipe made 7 pans of rolls, which we didn’t need.

Made the dough (this time with baking soda…interesting.)   Set it aside to rise (which it did).  Rolled it out (this time using the tequila bottle instead of wine…better shape…we need to invest in a rolling pin) and could tell right away that the dough was a completely different consistency.  Good sign.  Covered it in (lots of) melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon, and rolled it up:

Buttery sugargoo gooed out everywhere.  Then sliced them up an put them on a sheet:

Let em rise one more time for about 30 minutes, then threw them in the oven.  15 minutes later:

BOOM.  Whatever step we missed in attempt #2 was overcome this round.  These things are HUGE.  Since we didn’t have any maple syrup for PW’s recipe, we whipped up one of the first “cinnamon bun icing” recipes we found online.

The icing turned out a little fluffier than expected (it’s more of a cream cheese frosting recipe, less of a glaze.)   But oh my god.  The final product is DE-LI-CIOUS.  Super doughy (we probably could have stood to leave the buns in the oven a little bit longer, I have a feeling the bigger buns might be a little uncooked in the middle) but with all that butter and sugar who cares.  Doughy deliciousness.

…which means I have to get them out of the house STAT.  Time to start pushing baked goods on my coworkers.

LESSONS:  nailing the dough is the key to good buns;  throwing some melted butter in the middle along with the sugar and cinnamon (which many recipes don’t call for) helps hold the rolls together (even without the frosting); be liberal in your use of cinnamon and sugar (and butter); I love Pioneer Woman.

Now, on to meringue.