Monday, January 18, 2010

Pound Cake And Bull Neck

Right now I've got a pound cake baking in the oven, and instead of following the Smitten Kitchen recipe, or perhaps Jacques Pepin's, I went with the Pioneer Woman. Obviously, I'm sure Pepin and SK's recipes turn out beautiful, delicious cakes. But I'm clearly on some sort of Midwestern comfort food kick, and she's yet to steer me wrong, even if her recipe does include something called "Butter Flavoring."

Yup, Butter Flavoring, and Sprite. I thought I had lemon extract and I didn't, so I did fancy things up with some fresh lemon juice and zest, but otherwise I stuck to her plan. The batter tasted good, I can tell you that... Though, Cam pointed out that I maybe shouldn't be eating raw eggs with an impaired spleen. Touche.

In other news, mono blows. I should go ahead and give it its own tag, because I can tell you, it stinks. I'm tired, yes, and every day I have a slightly different version of yuck, with some symptoms in common. Every morning - literally every morning - when I wake up the first thing I do is touch the side of my neck, to see if the swelling my lymph node has eased at all. News flash, it hasn't. I was just reading that website I linked to above, and it said one of the symptoms is "bull neck" because of the swelling. I'm less symmetrical than my mental picture of "bull neck," but ever bit as unattractive.

Next up? The section on "Marriage and mono." Time to read about Marlene and Bob Parker* of Clearwater, Florida. I have so much to look forward to!

*Names changed to protect the germy.

Friday, January 15, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different!

I have mono!

Pucker up!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Forget Chicken Soup

Have you ever heard of funeral potatoes?

I had, because Cam's family is Mormon. But it wasn't till this past weekend that I actually got to try them. My beloved almost mother-in-law died Thursday from kidney cancer. We got less than a year with her after her diagnosis, and I'm still very much processing things. One thing is absolutely clear: We're all missing her like crazy, already.

But back to funeral potatoes, since food definitely equals comfort around here. After an incredibly emotional service Saturday, Cam's family's church held a private reception for family members, a place to decompress away from the well-wishers. I was really grateful for it, and there I got finally got to try the famous funeral potatoes. They're sort of like scalloped potatoes, but seem to have cream of chicken soup playing the role usually reserved for dairy. They were good. Comforting. And funny. "Funeral potatoes." Always feels good to laugh after lots of tears.

Cam and I volunteered to feed a crowd of his gathered family members Sunday night, and this recipe, for baked ziti, worked perfectly. It's a total cheat - bottled pasta sauce, combined with ricotta, mozzarella, and egg, mixed with mostly-cooked pasta (I prefer penne rigate to the de rigeur ziti), slopped into a baking dish and covered with parmesan. We doubled it, then froze it in foil pans. It bakes beautifully and easily, and is incredibly crowd pleasing. Good to have on hand, good to take to someone who needs a meal, just plain good.

Another crowd pleaser that takes just a bit more effort is this chicken sausage casserole. We commuted to Cam's family's home, where his mom spent her last weeks, frequently over the last month or so, and cooked for them whenever we could. We tended to arrive too late to do the cooking, but this recipe comes together so quickly that we made it work. And it smells heavenly because of the browning sausage. We used a rotisserie chicken and Jimmy Dean sage sausage, and added broccoli. Everyone loved it. So that's another one to tuck away in case you need that sort of thing. We tend to spend hours on complicated recipes that require tons of attention, and hope to do some more of that soon. But sometimes, quick, easy, hot, delicious and nourishing is the order of the day.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Short On Thoughts

Probably this should just turn in to a cat blog. As in, my cat is making this face, my cat says, look how cute my cat is. (Both of them, obviously). Dooce does it so well, with the world-famous Chuck and sidekick crazy Coco. But why is it good? Because there's also a lot of, you know, CONTENT. Thoughts. Stories. Ideas. This blog's short on

INTERLUDE: "You're like, crazy fast typer. You just think things and they appear on the screen in front of you."

Thank you, Cam. Yet more evidence that there COULD be content, if only I had thoughts in my head. The fingers, they are more than capable of transmitting.

Yeah. So like I was saying, and, apparently, Cam was saying, this blog's short on thoughts and long on typing. But still... That, and cats, is what I got right now. So please enjoy Winston and Sweeney, aka Big and Little, loafing on the pull out couch, in winter half light.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

So Here's To The New Year

Hello, 2010.

In spite of everything, Christmas was wonderful this year. Someday, I may even write about it -- write write, though I'm not sure I could do it justice. Suffice it to say, the food was wonderful, the family was even better. And the gifts?

The gifts were pretty good too. We had incredible snow, just a week before Christmas, which we weathered, for the most part, at my parents' house. But because Cam and I drove Lucy over, we had an advantage over the masses of snowed-in shoppers.

We went to the mall, oh so carefully, and had the place to ourselves. Kinda cool. And then there was the undeniably hilarious injury of the season, sustained by yours truly. On Christmas Eve, I leaned down to place an armful of just-wrapped packages beneath the tree. And stabbed myself in the eye with a pine needle. It was late, and so absurd that after some "Owwww!"-ing, I shrugged it off, in spite of the redness and swelling. The next day, it was much worse. Very painful, swollen and red, and constantly tearing. I made it through Christmas morning, then hemmed and hawed, and called my doctor*. My Dad whisked me away to my appointment (Cam was just putting the finishing touches on his family's prime rib roast dinner, I couldn't ask him to leave), which could not have gone more quickly or smoothly. Scratched cornea, check! And I got a swine flu vaccination, too! Then home to my parents' for more Christmas. It healed pretty quickly, and I had a great time explaining my injury to anyone who'd listen.

And, oh yeah, I tried on wedding dresses! I think I've got it, in one trip. Pretty neat.

So here's to the new year. It's not going to be an easy one, but I'm hoping to embrace this amazing song. Well, let's explain it thusly.

2009 has been a year of the best and the worst, literally. You may know, if you're a close reader or friend, that I got engaged. I could not be more thrilled about that. Unfortunately, on the flip side, there's been some equally bad news. It's all swirled up to make 2009 of those years I'm not sure how to address -- "Good riddance" isn't right, but neither is "Best year ever!" So, instead of trying to label it with a blanket sentiment, I'm instead carrying Grant-Lee Phillips' indomitable song, "Strangest Thing" and its unbridled optimism with me into 2010.

Strangest thing

Days I feel like dirt

And then I see the diamond dust on everything

Strangest thing

Something plucked my nerve

And then I hear 100 chords a-shimmering

It gives me hope ("hope can hide behind the walls of anything"), and I hope it does the same for you. Happy New Year.