Friday, December 31, 2010

the new best bread

When I was feeling ambitious last month, I baked up a storm of bread. My brother-in-law passed along an awesome recipe, and I think we've all eaten our weight in the stuff since I tried it out. And my favorite way to make it is as a cinnamon loaf-- wrap the dough up with tons of butter, cinnamon, and sugar.
But it's great everyday bread, too. My complaint with homemade bread was always that it was too dense and crumbled too easily. Not so with this recipe. It's soft, tender, and sooo tasty.

The recipe seemed a little crazy at first, but it's pretty simple once you run through it. So here we go:

Combine in mixing bowl:
2 1/2 Cups very warm water (my gauge has been 2 cups of the hottest water
from my tap, plus 1/2 C of room temp water )
3 C freshly ground whole wheat flour
1 T plus 1 t. yeast
1 T wheat gluten (ordered from PH grain, though grocery stores carry it)

Stir just until mixed and let mixture stand 10 minutes

1/3 C half canola oil, half applesauce
1/3 C honey
1 T. lemon juice (no need to be fresh)
1 T sea salt
3 1/2 - 4 C whole wheat flour
1 T dough enhancer

*additional ingredients can be added or subbed for some of the flour: flax meal, millet, oat bran, nuts, etc.

1. Knead bowl of mixer (with dough hooks) for 10 minutes. Do not add any
additional flour until the end. The dough will look sticky and you'll
think, "I need more flour" but wait and it will form a ball. At the end of
kneading, the dough should be slightly sticky to the touch, but not stick to
your hands. Adjust as needed. Use a little flour to lightly coat the
dough, and pull out of the bowl.
2. Immediately divide the dough into two equal portions, and knead each
loaf for 30 seconds forming a loaf with no creases.
3. Place each loaf into a greased and floured pan. Let rise approx 40 min.
(until just above the lip of the pan) Make sure you preheat your
oven according to when you estimate your bread being ready to put in the
oven. (this is critical, bread needs to go in preheated oven...if it is too
risen, it will be airy and fall apart, but if not risen enough it will be
dense and cakey)
4. Bake bread at 350 for approx 30 minutes. When you tap the top of the bread, it should sound hollow.
5. Remove bread from pan and onto a cooling rack immediately. Let cool at
least 15 minutes before cutting into it and eating a big buttery piece, and
let cool completely before bagging (no sweating inside the bag).

*Notes: I didn't have the gluten or dough enhancer at first, so I used white bread flour instead. It has an higher level of gluten and results in a better bread. So, if you don't want to track down those extras, just use bread flour. My next step is to get a wheat grinder so I can use the freshly ground wheat flour for the most nutritious bread. (Something that makes Sam sad. He likes white bread and would probably choose Wonder bread if given the option.) Wheat begins losing its nutrients as soon as you grind it, so the fresher the flour the better.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Healthy Dose of Pride

Chances are, if you read this blog, you also read my family blog or are friends with me on facebook. Which means, you have seen our (now belated) Christmas video. If not, here is a link.

Speaking of Christmas, I gifted Bria with my big sewing project from last month. Are you ready? PILLOWCASES. I know, I know. So complicated. But I am, nevertheless, very proud of myself. My mom bought this fabric for me a year and a half ago, but I never did anything with it until Thanksgiving, when I was (admittedly) bored out of my head in Utah. I only had to redo the first pillowcase once, and I did the second pillowcase without any supervision from my mom. Three cheers for me!
And now use your microscope vision and check out that top stitch!
Well, Santa didn't bring me a sewing machine (I wasn't really expecting him too), so it will be a while before I continue to hone my fine skillz, but for now I am just floating along on this little bit of pride at my handiwork.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

already thinking about 2011 instead of going to bed

I know I'm about two weeks early, but I have two resolutions for 2011.

1) Make my bed every day

2) Run a 5k

I've never been good at resolutions, partially because I always come up with approximately a trillion of them, so I'm hoping the simplicity with result in success. Also, yes. My resolution is to make my bed every day. This has never been a habit, much to the chagrin of my mother. In fact, I even got scolded when I was in Utah last month for not making my bed. Some people (um, okay, I) never learn. Until now!!
And a goal for 2011 (entirely different from a resolution) is too cook more new things. This includes using certain ingredients I have never before used. Starting with . . .
Mushrooms (I know. I really have never cooked with a mushroom)

Speaking of next year, I am already planning a road trip for the spring. I fully intend to return to NYC and take Sam with me this time. I need to hit up all the bajillion restaurants I missed from my trip in May, among other things. In addition (either in another, later trip or on the same one) I am plotting a trip to Niagara Falls and maybe even a drive westward-- as far as Chicago? I don't know.

I do know, however, that I can't believe Christmas is in ten days. Bria is at this perfect age where all the plotting and planning going into present-shopping will result in a wondrous payout come Christmas morning. I haven't been this excited about the holiday since I was probably 10. And, Santa, if you're reading, just know that these are the things on my list:A sewing machine. Maybe you've heard, but I have been awfully crafty lately. Oh, you didn't really hear about that? Well, that's because I forgot to blog about it.

A wheat grinder. Guys. I found the world's best bread recipe this week. I'll share soon.

And the ability to float in my sleep. Or a new mattress. Either one.

So, Santa. Sorry I didn't give you much notice, but you'd better get on that pretty quickly. You only have ten days.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On Gingerbread Houses and Heartbreak

Last time I made a gingerbread house was in 2004 with this boy I had a crush on. His code name was the Hobbit (hey, I was 19). And I was slightly obsessed with him, and he gave all sorts of mysterious signals that made it seem my interest was mutual. (Like bringing me graham crackers and frozen cool whip one night because I mentioned once it was a favorite snack.) The gingerbread house was the pinnacle: a boy would surely only craft a gingerbread house with me if he loved me, right? The next day, while showing the house off and suggesting this meant The Hobbit and I were well on our way to coupledom, a mutual friend said, "you know he has a girlfriend, right?" Hopes dashed. Heart broken. That gingerbread house went straight in the trash.

Don't worry, I was married to Sam less than a year later, so it's not like my heart didn't mend quickly.

So, a couple weeks ago I went to a gingerbread making party. It was just me and Bria, since Sam was working, so I let her stay up late, eating more candy than she did on Halloween while I crafted this beauty. I'm quite proud of my handiwork.
My favorite part was using some Trader Joe's candy-coated, chocolate-covered sunflower seeds for the roof. They are super tasty and kind of lovely too.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Darth Deer

This weekend was mainly spent celebrating the first days off work Sam has had since Bria and I came home from Utah. And it was also spent scheming and planning for the almost two weeks Sam will have off for Christmas (the latter should explain the former). Also included were things like this:
And this pumpkin bread pudding, which I only remembered to take a picture of after the fact (it was soooo good).

Speaking of pictures, there's a chance I took that picture on my brand-spankin'-new, early-Christmas iphone-- which was FREE. I didn't know I cared about technology, but I do.

We also ate soup with Hannah and Rob, who graced the suburbs with their presence for the day. The story of this soup is that it is a replica of the Zuppa Toscana from Oliva Garden. I used to hate that soup-- like seriously loathe it and gag at the very thought of it. Then, when I was pregnant with Bria, I started craving it. And now I love it.

1 lb ground sausage (regular or spicy-- just make sure it's not maple)
3 large red potatoes, sliced in half and then sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 bunch kale, chopped
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Brown sausage in large soup pot. Remove sausage and set aside. To the pot add chicken broth, potatoes, onion, and garlic and bring to a boil. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add cream and sausage to the pot and warm through. (Do not boil.) Add kale several minutes before serving. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


So, I work for this interior design firm. And we just launched a new website today. It's all very exciting. Check it out. And like us on facebook, if you wish.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Liiiiiiiiiive!

Ok, I have to admit that the subject of this post is homage to one of Bria's new favorite movies: Blan (known to some as Mulan). Can I also say how happy I am she chose one of the Girl Power Disney movies as her favorite? Granted, I did heavily influence her choices. ("No, no, no, you won't like Sleeping Beauty. And while we're at it, let me tell you about how bras are evil.") (Just kidding. I promise.)

Anyway, I am alive, even though this blog is no proof. But Bria has also not napped since we returned from Utah, and it makes me want to cry Every. Single. Day. But that's ok, because we're deep in the holiday swing. I even made a couple crafty things. (Gasp!) I know! I, the queen of anti-craft have been making things. With my own two hands. I'll be the first to admit that it's strange. I'll take pictures later. For now though, you can see that we have also been shopping for Christmas presents, which has included many trips down the toy aisle at Costco to see what Bria is drawn to:Which is apparently pretending to be a monster while riding a horse.

Also, this morning, I am making this-- one for me, and one for a friend-- (with smoked gouda instead of smoked mozzarella) and I can tell you that the smell of smoked gouda, garlic, thyme, and parsley on your hands will make all your troubles (nap strikes or otherwise) melt away.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Talk

Since my entire family (save my brother) was in Utah, we had our Thanksgiving feast last Sunday. It was a low-key meal with the most important staples (stuffing!) and none of the stress-inducing extras (store-bought rolls instead of homemade). And we continued the tradition of going around the table stating what things fill us with thanks. And so today was very much not like a holiday. We had a fancy breakfast-- eaten at lunchtime-- of eggs, hash browns, bacon, and pumpkin cinnamon rolls. Bria even dipped her bacon in the cream cheese frosting-- that girl knows where it's at.
I talked with Sam several times today, who ate dinner at his brother's house. He enjoyed a traditional feast (in the company of a certain football player) and a to-the-point round of expressing Thanks. Apparently most people don't give lengthy orations on their gratitude? We McPhies are known talkers as well as dramatics-- a recipe for lengthy Thanks speeches.
It has been an understated holiday, but a joyous one at that.
My Top Ten Thankful list for 2010:
1. I will be reunited with Sam on Tuesday!
2. Cafe Rio
3. My patient mom who helped me undo a messed-up sewing project today
4. Bria, who finally learned to sleep well in her pack-n-play in Whitney's closet
5. Rolos in my parents pantry to bribe Bria to nap
6. Whitney, my (sometimes) Utah bedmate, who doesn't complain when I hog the sheets
7. Elisa, who drove to SLC last night so we could go see Harry Potter
8. My parents' impressive collection of Disney classics on VHS
9. Lindsay, who hasn't complained that I've flaked out on her a couple times since I've been here in Utah, and who I can't wait to play with tomorrow
10. Sam in general. It's not enough to just be thankful I'll see him on Tuesday. He's my favorite person in the whole world. (cheese, cheese, cheese.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

change of plans

Well, instead of romping around DC with my mom, I pulled a switcheroo and traveled to Utah instead. Unfortunately, my grandpa passed away, so Bria and I came for the funeral, but fortunately, my entire family was here! It's been so great to lounge around and enjoy the mass chaos that is my nieces and nephews. For a few short hours the original McPhie cast was back together-- my brother stayed about 12 hours total-- but the remaining time has been spent laughing hysterically with my sisters. True bliss, I tell you. Plus, I've already eaten Cafe Rio three times. I'll be here another week before heading back to the balmier Virginia (rain, sleet, snow, AND hail in Utah today!), but it's nice to soak up this family-togetherness for now.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mama K

My mom is coming to town on Wednesday! And you want to know what she is bringing us in her carry-on? You better believe it.

Last month my mom and dad went to Japan, and they sent this picture. The first thing I noticed-- I think my mom is wearing jeggings. How should I feel about my mom being more fashionable than I am?

I'm not going to think about it.

While she's here, I think we're going to hit up 7th hill pizza or 2 Amy's, sneak in a little Shenandoah action, shop in Georgetown . . . pretty much everything we couldn't do last time she came because it was too freezing to leave the house.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

peter, peter, pumpkin eater

Yesterday I went to a church activity, and, long story short, I ended up with a gallon-sized ziploc bag of raw, cubed pumpkin in my fridge. I was originally going to just bake it, puree it, and freeze it, but then I remembered a curry recipe my sister sent me in January that would be easily adapted* to accommodate the pumpkin.

So, let's not dilly-dally, shall we?

Pumpkin Curry

1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1 small chunk fresh ginger, grated
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 t red curry paste
1 t yellow curry powder
1 t cinnamon
2 cans coconut milk
3 T fish sauce
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c water
1 c cubed pumpkin
1/2 c cubed potato
2 carrots, cut into small pieces

Microwave the potato and pumpkin for 4-5 minutes, until it's about half-way cooked, then set aside.
First saute the onion until it just starts to soften. Then, add the ginger, garlic, curry paste, curry powder, and cinnamon. Cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, brown sugar, and water.
Simmer for about 10 minutes or so, then check the seasonings and add more, as needed.
Add the potato, pumpkin, and carrots and simmer until the veggies are cooked through.
If it's too thick, add more water, just make sure it doesn't dilute the spices too much. If you do need to add more spices, make sure to simmer for a couple minutes to give them time to infuse their flavor into the liquid.
Serve over jasmine rice.

*The recipe my sister sent uses kabocha squash, chicken, red bell pepper, and peas instead of the veggies I used, but that is the beauty of curry: you can really adapt it according to whatever you have in your fridge.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bria Spills the Beans

This was actually one of the best Halloweens yet. As predicted, holidays are infinitely more exciting when you get to see your child enjoying the festivities.
Bria was killing the crowds with cuteness as she pranced around saying "I'm the banderina in the whole world!" (She forgot that cutest or prettiest or other superlative part to the statement.)

And, due to trick-or-treating and TWO trunk-or-treats, we are set up on candy for life. The day after our last trunk-or-treat, I thought I was going to die I felt so sick from all the sugar. I'm still not sure if it was worth it. And even though we have candy coming out of our ears, I still made brownies and pumpkin frozen custard last night. What is wrong with me?

Another highlight of the second trunk-or-treat? Bria walking around saying "My dad is the cleaner." And once she got the hang of it, "Mr. Clean is my dad." (Which just sounds a little different from "My dad is Mr. Clean.")

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Today was a really stupid day. But you know what wasn't stupid? Last weekend. Sam and I had ourselves a little staycation. We took Bria to Sam's brother's house on Friday and picked her up Sunday night. It was fantastic and just so exactly what we needed. The activities that stand out all surround eating, of course. We hit up some great places. It was also mingled with H&M shopping, a walk around Baltimore's inner harbor, and The Book Thing-- a place where people donate books and then anyone can go look around and take home any book they please for free. We took home ten.
And now for the food:
The first night we finally went to 2 Amys. The wait was long, and it was freeeeezing, but I have never been happier with my food. (do you see how I am like huddling under the table? I was so, so cold.) Behold! ricotta and mozzarella balls breaded and fried.
I seriously died. Sam had to scrape me up off the floor so I could then eat my pizza:
And Sam had the best margherita in the world:
On Saturday we went to Baltimore and wanted to have amazing seafood, so we chose the highly google-rated Mama's on the Half Shell. We even ordered oysters, cause, ya know. It sounded fun.
Now. let me talk about my one regret from the whole weekend. Sam and I realized we had a common love for Guster on our very first date, and they were playing in DC on Saturday. We decided to forgo the moderately pricey concert and go to Baltimore instead. Our dinner? twice the price of the tickets. And, I was seriously disappointed with the flavor of our food. I mean, it wasn't gross, but if I'm paying that much for good seafood, I want it to be the best seafood of my life, you know? Boo hoo. I'm still getting over it.
But at least the pear and cardamom gelato we ate afterward at Pitango was delicious.
After two days of eating like our cholesterol didn't matter, we opted for some light salads at Sweet Green. I am currently making up for not liking salad the first 24 year of my life. In the last year or two, I crave salad constantly.
Sam, on the other hand, only eats salad when coerced. He was really sad when we saw a Five Guys next door to Sweet Green. Poor guy.
And, confession, we each ate a total of five Georgetown cupcakes. Does that disgust you? It should.
I think I look condensed in this picture. I blame it on the cupcakes.
Ok seriously, just typing about staycation has improved my mood. I can't even tell you how relaxing and rejuvenating it was. We got stuck in traffic almost everywhere we went, and every time I started to get uptight about it, I just remembered that I didn't have a two-year-old in the back seat to entertain. Ahhhh . . . so relaxing. Why can't every weekend be staycation?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wish List

Everyone today is talking about the rain, but I haven't been outside. I'd like to wake up hearing and smelling the rain. Which means I want to sleep with the windows open. Which means I want to live somewhere I can open the windows without fearing a swarm of bugs will invade my apartment.

I think I want to take sewing lessons. I took some back in about 1994, and I learned how to make a scrunchie and a drawstring backpack. I might like to learn to make something more practical. No offense, scrunchies.

I'm also wishing for a little self-control. I think it's time to take a break from meat and dairy, but I'm not sure I have the willpower.

I also want some new boots. Like maybe these:
Lastly, I'd like some cake. Who wants to bake me one?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Closeted Control Freak

Back in July I was talking to my sister Amy on the phone when she let slip that she thinks I'm a little uptight. Her exact words were, "we're all a little uptight, but you're a special kind of uptight." Now, you might think I was offended, because, that sounds offensive, right? But I wasn't, because it's true. And I didn't even realize it! I used to think all the time about what my family thought was my "thing." Turns out, I'm the uptight one. It's kind of like when my sister Whitney and I told our sister Lindsay that she's dramatic, and she was shocked. (Are you keeping track of all my sisters? Good.) Anyway, this whole thing has led to a revolution of sorts for me. I'm trying to be a little more relaxed and to learn how to go with the flow. It's all very exciting. The funny part is, whenever I tell people about this conversation with my sister (because I think it's funny, so I like to talk about it), everyone is always surprised. "You're not uptight!" they say. And then I laugh, because I really, really am. I think I'm just a closeted control freak, so it's not readily noticed. But not for long! I'm now engaging in Project Hippie-- because, in spite of being uptight, I am also from Colorado, so I'm naturally kind of a hippie-- so I'm embracing it by becoming more of a roll-with-the-punches type of girl.

Speaking of Colorado and people who probably do know I am a closeted control freak:
This picture was taken almost exactly ten years ago. Yes, that's me in the middle. And, no, that's not one of the haircuts I inflicted on myself. Those other girls were two of my best friends growing up. Ashley (on the left) I have known since we were babies, and Jenna and I have been friends since we were 14.
As luck would have it, in our adult years, we all ended up in Virginia. Ashley has a fancy job in D.C., and Jenna lives in Richmond while her husband is in med school. We met up last weekend to catch up over brunch, and it was simply delightful. (We ate at the Carlyle. I've been hearing about their french toast for a while now, and it was not overrated. Yum, yum.) Of course there was plenty of Colorado gossip to be had, and lots of laughter as we entertained/were entertained by the babies. There is something to be said for people who were friends with you during your awkward teenage years. It was so lovely to be with old friends who know everything about me-- and love me anyway. (uptightness an all!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tortilla Soup for the Soul

Today marks the commencement of No Dish Left Behind, a program in which I attempt to conquer my kitchen sink. Due to the ill timing of three simultaneous colds, Bria, Sam, and I trashed the place this weekend, with no energy to clean it up. N0 matter! I have faith sanity will soon be restored at chez Mangum.

To nurse our suffering immune systems, I made tortilla soup. (I haven't posted this recipe yet, have I?) Adapted from my friend Jenna, this is our all-time favorite soup. Last night during dinner, Bria kept saying over and over, "I love this soup! I love dinner!" It's healthy and filling and so easy, you'll cry (in a good way).

1 large bottle Spicy V8
2 cans chicken broth
2 cans black beans
1 bag frozen corn
1 chicken breast, raw, cut into tiny pieces
1 T chili powder
1 T garlic powder
1 T cumin
1 T Worcestershire
salt and pepper to taste

Dump it all in a pot, bring to a boil and then let it simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Garnish with cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips. Green onion and cilantro are optional.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

courtney, the chocolatier/ not giving up my day job

For my birthday, back in April, Sam gifted me with a chocolate making class at Cacao, and I finally went over the weekend. I got up really early on Saturday morning and trekked through some of the scarier parts of Maryland to find their industrial kitchen (they have stores in Bethesda and Cleveland Park), and joined several other nervous-looking bleary-eyed folk for the three-and-a-half hour class. We were instructed by the owner/head chef, who immediately charmed me with his French accent. At first it was slightly reminiscent of days spent at Caputo's chocolate counter-- several chocolate samples from around the world (including a sample of straight cocoa butter, which tastes like chapstick). It was a great breakfast. (Thank you, dear pancreas, for taking it in stride.)

Then we got to the chocolate making. We crafted flower petals from tempered chocolate using offset spatulas on parchment paper. It all looked so easy until I was standing at the table with my huge bowl of molten chocolate. It was all I could do to not put myself in the corner wearing a dunce hat. I think everyone was about ten steps ahead of me, and I started to feel that old anxious shame akin to high school algebra, fearing I was the only one in the room to not get it. If a deep-seated fear of embarrassment doesn't get me moving, I don't know what will. When I realized I might be the only person not getting the hang of it, I picked up the pace and slammed out my two sheets of petals with precision. It was awesome . . .
until I learned the chocolate had been too hot, so it wouldn't harden. I had to start all over. Luckily, I wasn't the only one. In fact, I think everyone had to re-start at least once, so my initial fear of shame turned out to be unnecessary. Hooray!

(Also, I got to wear this super-flattering hairnet and apron.)
While the petals were hardening, we filled truffles with passion fruit carmel. Holy cow. Amazing. And, again, super flattering photo documentation.
And it all came together in this fancy flower, which, yes, I am super proud of (and already ate).
Officially the coolest birthday present ever.

Monday, October 4, 2010

third time's the . . . well, not the charm.

I have cut my own hair a couple times:

1) When I was maybe 11, I decided to give myself bangs. I just grabbed a huge chunk of the front of my hair and cut it straight across. My mom confronted me, and fearing punishment, I lied and said, "I didn't cut my hair." It was a blatantly obvious lie, so when she re-confronted me, I said, "what? that's not a lie. I trimmed my hair." I did receive a stern look, but the only real punishment was my own hideous hair.

2) When I was 16, I had long hair and needed a change. I went into the salon and asked for shoulder-length with layers and got a chin-length bob. I added layers myself, which weren't actually horrible, except that I hadn't discovered a flat iron yet, and I was deep in the throes of a hair-bleaching addiction. I looked like a neon q-tip.

3) A couple of weeks ago, my (trying-to-be) edgy haircut had grown out too much, and then I missed my appointment to clean it up, so I picked up my scissors and went to town. MISTAKE. Somewhere in that moment of decision I forgot that I have a ton of thick hair. Soooo . . . I ended up with this strange blunt cut of thick hair curling under and hitting me right at the chin. Not cute. Not cute at all. When I went to California a couple days later, my dear sister Amy laughed at me and took me straight to the salon where they thinned the whole thing out and reassured me my hair would grow back. And sitting in that chair I promised to NEVER AGAIN cut my own hair. It was then that I realized I ended up with the same hair cut I gave myself when I was 17. AND, I almost cut bangs. Oy. Thank goodness I now have a flat iron. And in order to shake things up and not look exactly like my 17 year-old self, I dyed my hair brown. Then I had a little photo sesh with Bria.

Ok. I actually don't hate it. But all I want for Christmas is for my hair to grow quickly.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

sandwich heay-weight champion of the world

Last month my oldest sister, Amy, called me to ask if I was interested in watching her four kids while she took a much needed vacation to Hawaii. Without much thought, I jumped at the opportunity for a free trip to California, and so it was that Bria and I ended up on a plane two weeks ago. I braved the four days with five kids like a champ, and then had seven extra days to play with my sister and her kids, and my brother and his kids. Plus I have a little crush on the Bay Area-- it's great to have family there so I can visit often. And remember what I wrote in my last post? About how Bria was whiny and grumpy because she didn't have her older cousins to play with? The same is true again. Seriously. I think I bore her to tears/grump/sass.
And of course, I had some amazing food in Cali. Seriously-- the two best sandwiches of my life. While I was eating both sandwiches, I remembered the last time I gave that title to a sandwich. I have no qualms in renouncing my former claim and bestowing the title on these new beauties. They were basically the same: turkey, cheese, sprouts, lettuce, tomato, avocado, (bacon on one), and mayo with a little mustard mixed in. I know this just sounds like your average deli sandwich, but they were so not your average deli sandwich. All I can say is, if you ever find yourself in Palo Alto, please order a sandwich at JJ&F and at Village Cheese House. (On Dutch Crunch bread, which I had never heard of, but is positively divine.)

And lastly, Amy and I went for sushi at Fuki Sushi in Palo Alto. Really classic, conservative sushi, but such high quality. While I tend to favor more experimental rolls, this was some of the best sushi I've ever had. We got five huge rolls (plus vegetable tempura) and stuffed ourselves silly. I paused briefly to make Amy take a grainy iphone picture before we cleaned that platter down to the very last grain of rice. Yum yum yum.
Ok, sometimes I wonder what the point is of my chronicling places I dine and random things I eat. I realized shortly after I started this blog that I am not a recipe creator. I love to cook and eat, but this isn't a recipe food blog. It's more like an I-can't-stand-not-sharing-my-joy-over a-good-meal blog. And I think it might start morphing into more. Anyway. That's all.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I've Won Them Over With Sugar

Last week we trekked out to Ashburn to watch Marc and Jenn's kids while they took David out to BYU. Yes, we have a nephew who is 18. Isn't that weird? I'm closer in age to David than I am to five of Sam's six siblings. In fact, Sam's oldest brother is closer in age to my parents than he is to me. So, I'm kind of a baby. Anyway, we've watched Marc and Jenn's kids several times, and I kind of love it because they're like dream children. They are helpful and kind, and they always play with Bria so it makes my job super easy.
We didn't do a whole lot because it's the tail end of summer, they were headed to the beach the next week, and it's kind of hard to find things to entertain three kids ages 7 to 15. We kind of just hung around doing nothing (and Amanda roped me into watching Real Housewives of New Jersey and DC) until the last day when we decided to make cupcakes.
I really wanted to take them to Georgetown Cupcake, but Ashburn is like five years away from DC, so it wasn't the best idea to haul the little kids (Bria and Colin) to Georgetown just for a cupcake.
Another benefit of watching Marc and Jenn's kids is they marvel at all the things I make from scratch. I was craving a quality cake and frosting, so we went with Ina's recipe, and it was scrumptious. Also? From-scratch cake batter is soooo worth the risk of salmonella. Seriously.

And then it was back to our regular routine this week. I did, like, 12 loads of laundry at Marc and Jenn's house (which saved me $36 from our coin-op machines in our building), and it's been a little sad to see how fast those empty baskets filled up this week. Plus Bria's been super bored (and therefore whiny) because I'm just not as entertaining as Colin, Myles, and Amanda. I think this means Bria needs some older siblings, which I'm pretty sure isn't possible at this point. Oh well, looks like she's still stuck with just me.

Friday, September 3, 2010

in which we finally go to good stuff

Sam and I celebrated our FIFTH anniversary yesterday. And we really actually celebrated it, which was a fun comparison to last year when we were on opposite sides of the country. I dropped Bria off at a friend's house and drove in to the city to meet Sam. We finally tried out Good Stuff Eatery, which has been on my list since before we moved.

I opted for the Vegetarians Are People Too 'Shroom Burger
And Sam went with the Prez Obama Burger

And we shared a strawberry shake.

Can I just say how proud I am of myself for ordering a portobello burger? I usually have a frantic fear of mushrooms, but I really didn't want to order a beef burger. Plus, this mushroom patty is stuffed with hot, melty, gooey cheese and then breaded in panko bread crumbs. Oh my. It was good stuff, if you will. (ha.) I feel an intense need to go back and try some more of that good stuff-- namely the cookies and cream milk shake and some of the wedge salads. Yum!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

dog days of summer

I've been in a culinary rut lately. Anyone else? I'm sick of being too hot to turn on the oven. I'm longing for the fall and winter when I can eat soup and hot bread all day every day.
I've decided that summer here in VA is worse than winter. At least when you're cold you can just bundle up before sprinting to the car. In the heat of summer, you are dripping with sweat by the time you make it to the sidewalk. Bria and I are a little stir crazy. I think I need to just embrace the humidity (which means my FRIZZY, CRAZY hair) and go do some fun things. (It's even cooled down considerably, and I am still complaining.)

October sounds so wonderful right now . . .

(p.s. I'm having some weird blogger issues, so, if something ended up weird, forgive me. I hate when that happens. )

Bria is excited to share the news:

(Don't ask me how she got that knife in her hand.)

Sam got a new job! We went out to celebrate a couple weeks ago when we got the news. And Bria was hammin' it up all night. She even attacked me a couple times because she was just too happy to contain herself:
Sam's started working yesterday at a production company based in Bethesda working as a junior editor on the show American Loggers, which airs on the Discovery Channel.
Three cheers for Sam! We're so excited about this new step.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fojol at Farragut

Spontaneity always saves the day, so last week, when I was on my way to Costco and Sam texted me asking us to meet him for lunch, I jumped at the opportunity for a fun outing. We parked at Costco and ran to catch the around-the-corner metro (a perk of frequenting the Pentagon City Costco). The Fojol brothers were at Farragut Square that day, just a couple blocks from Sam's work, so we had ourselves a little Indian lunch.

I love this food truck craze. I love that the Fojol brothers lay out fancy blankets for their eaters. And the food was oh so tasty. I'm a sucker for butter chicken, and it was good. I kind of want to go there every day.

That's their fancy truck which was blasting some fancy tunes. Perfect for getting Bria to dance.
The butter chicken proved to be "too sicy" for Bria, so it was with a heavy heart we trudged across the street to buy her a sandwich from Subway (of which she ate, like, four bites). It always kills me to shell out so much cash for kids meals which Bria rarely eats. I think I need to be better prepared with homemade sandwiches and snacks when we go out to eat. Another thing I should be better prepared for? Diaper situations. The funny part was that I was going to Costco to buy diapers in the first place. Let's just say small packs of diapers at CVS are expensive, they don't always have the right size, and there isn't really a bathroom with a diaper changing station around Farragut Square. Luckily nice shady trees provide ample diaper changing space. Wow. That is an awesome way to end a post about lunch. Cheers!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

In A Pickle

The other day, I made some pickles.

I'm actually not that much of a pickle person. I'm fond of sweet gherkins, and I hate dill pickles. The ones I made are bread and butter chip, which are sweet, but have a tangy bite, thanks to the turmeric, mustard seed, and celery seed. I used this recipe that came through my google reader last month.
I kind of wish I had cut them into little circles, rather than spears, because that would have helped my one qualm: the skin was a little too thick and substantial for the small amount of inner-pickle. Had I cut them into circles, as suggested by the recipe, it would have left much more inner crunch to stand up to the tough outer skin. Oh well. Next time.

They are so beautiful in my fridge. But since I'm more of a gherkin gal and Sam is much more of a dill fanatic, I wonder if we will eat them all. If you live near me and want a jar, just holler. Or comment. Whatever.