Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Best Laid Plans

I was feeling super ambitious last week. I was all "Yeah! Gonna write a ton and contribute to the world and clean my room and GET A JOB..." And then I got a sinus thing. First off, I hate being of the age where I get unidentifiable sinus things. Did this happen when I was younger? I don't recall it. Sometimes I think it was rolled into hangovers. Maybe? But mostly it just feels like getting old. You people weren't lying about old and for that I hate you. To be clueless and 22 again...

Secondly, the searing, blinding head pain renders me utterly useless. Utterly. I fantasize about ways to give myself a frontal lobotomy (knitting needle, frontal lobe) to end the pain and all the things I wanted to do never happen and I make bargains with the universe about what a productive human being I WILL be if my head will just. stop. hurting. I hate feeling like a useless blob because the inside of my head hurts. I find it incredibly inconvenient.

But we're over that now and so back to writing down my random musings.

For this first post back I'm keeping it light. But we'll get to some deeper stuff in the near future. Promise!

Your year-after-they-came-out movie reviews (and then a little TV):

Monday, May 21, 2012

Quick Bites

First, your musical interlude:

I am not the kind of music aficionado who has opiniony opinions on bands or is ever ahead of the curve in what's hip and cool music wise. I rarely go to concerts because "Ah! People!" But I've linked to The Lumineers Ho Hey before and now I'm really digging this song. It's on a topic I relate to: "Classy girls don't kiss in bars." Word. So: musical endorsement: The Lumineers. 

Since I am the unemployed loser of the family, it falls on me to make dinner on the days the 'rents are at work. I have a natural aptitude in the kitchen and actually kind of laugh at any of you that can't feed yourself. Okay, not really, but you should work on that. It's a useful trick, to be able to make food for yourself.

In fact, I so enjoy the kitchen that I kind of get annoyed when anyone else is in there when I'm cooking. "No! This is ME time!" I just jam. Music on, doing my chopping, dicing, sauteing, straining thing. It's not usually fancy, though it can be. I think I like cooking because I know what the hell I'm doing when with pretty much everything else I don't. It's a control thing.

As I'm trying to do a low-ish carb "diet" (I'm so far from perfect, it's annoying but I'm trying. I haven't had fast food in over a month, which is the same time that I haven't touched potato chips. Dr Pepper and french fries remain a problem but trying to limit to once a week. Since you asked.), I'm trying out a bunch of new recipes that don't involve just meat and potatoes, which is the go to norm for our family.

The best replacement for regular meat and potatoes is beans. High in fiber, filling, good for you. Or so I tell myself.

I found the following recipe in one of the many Sunset magazines that are littered throughout our house and it was quite the hit. It's a recipe for campfire Dutch oven cooking but I cook outdoors exactly never. (Do I look like I camp? Actually, I'd kinda like to start. I do enjoy a good moderate hike. Beers in the woods sounds good. Beer sounds good. Stupid low carb life.) It works just fine on the stovetop. I had minor modifications and my amended recipe is below. The original one is at the link. (Mostly I skipped their herb recommendations as rosemary can be overpowering and I'm not buying anything else just to throw a tiny bit in a pot.) This actually takes like no time at all and is stupid easy so I don't get to hang in the kitchen much when I make it, but for simple, one pot dishes, this one was pretty fabulous.

2 cans (15.5 oz. size) each cannellini beans and chickpeas (garbanzos), drained and rinsed (That's four cans total for those of you who are bad at math/weird directions.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 poblano chile, sliced (or whatever chile you have. I used Anaheim the first time; it was fine.)
4 medium garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 pounds cooked Italian sausages, such as Saag's or Aidells, cut into 1-in. chunks (I used Hillshire Farms smoked sausage, as we had one in the house. Any smoked sausage would work. You could use a raw sausage and cook it before making this but I think the smoked sausages had the right flavors. And that's an extra step. You don't want to take an extra step.)
Because I was indoctrinated into Tony's life in college: a healthy shake of that stuff all over.

1. Throw everything into your pot with 3/4 cup of water. Cover. Put on medium heat.
2. Check every ten to fifteen minutes and stir. Add more water if it gets dry (I did not have this problem, but just in case). When the peppers are soft and the sausage swells (stop it!), it's done. Enjoy!

I find this hearty, filling, and delicious, and a nice riff on traditional chili which can feel really heavy.

In addition to being the family dinner maker, I'm the family baker. If you've read any of my Christmas posts, I go a bit crazy at that time of year. I'm finally sick of it though as I've decided most of my family is made up of ungrateful jerks and my culinary prowess goes completely unappreciated. So I'm sort of giving up on it. Because I'm stubborn. But! Because I am broke and couldn't afford a fabulous mother's day present for my mom, I told her I'd bake her something each month for all of time. Or until I move out. Whichever comes first. She always bugs me to bake and I always resist. I'm actually not much of a sweets person. Every so often I'll be like, "Chocolate. Now." But mostly my weakness is potatoes. All the potatoes.

There are, however, exceptions. One of which is caramel crumb bars. These things are addictive. I'm gonna just start calling them crack bars. They were my mom's first request for her mother's day present. There is a plate of them sitting on the kitchen table and I do not have the will power to resist them. Stupid baking skills. If you have any baking skills yourself, I highly recommend these. If you don't, you can pay me $20 and I'll make them for you. You're welcome.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Country Vibe

After watching the Hart of Dixie finale...

Wait, before I continue: judge that if you want, but this happened:

Yeah, that's a ripped dude in a wife beater taking it off in the rain. #ladypron

Now, I may be slightly (shut up) outside the demographic of the CW but I refuse to act like I'm not a sucker for a hot guy with his shirt off. I have a pulse. And, as I've mentioned before, having been a "yankee" interloper in the South, the fish-out-of-water plot speaks to me. I lived that. (If it's not Southern, it's Yankee. The fact that I was from the West Coast was immaterial in arguments about my lack of yankee-ness and where California stood in the "war of Northern aggression". I actually own a NY Yankees hat from that period in my life because I wore being different with a bit of pride. Call me a yankee? Sure, whatever, I'll own it.)

I clearly remember my friend Mary yelling at me our freshman year, as I lamented some other thing that Louisiana didn't have that California did (salad with something besides iceberg lettuce, avocados, vegetables that weren't boiled to an indistinguishable mush, food that wasn't fried), "God! If California is so great why don't you go back there!?" It was my, as Southerners say, come to Jesus moment. "Oh. Maybe I should appreciate this place for what it is and not for what I wish it were?" And I did. And I loved it. Because for every aversion to al dente vegetables there was boudin and gumbo and free liquor. All the free liquor. Not to mention the amazing cultural differences. (Small town Samantha excitedly saying "There are so many Orientals here!" remains one of my favorite cringe inducing college moments ever. Not only that, there were like 60. In a school of 20k.)

So other than not having hot guys at every turn like the TV show (Ahaha! It was undergrad, there totally were. What up former baseball player crush?), the show is cute and has that decidedly Southern feel. (I still hate the Lemon character but I don't get to write the script so...)

With that decidedly hot, sticky, Southern attitude emitting from my TV, even if on a Hollywood studio lot that I'm pretty sure was the same one they used for Gilmore Girls, it leads me to miss the South. Which leads me to reminiscing...

That same friend Mary who yelled at me would take me home with her every now and then, as I was the weird kid 2k miles away from home without any parental influences around. (If I had a nickel for every, "You're from San Francisco? But you came here for college? Why?" conversation, I might not have had to take out loans for law school. If I had a dollar for every, "You're from San Francisco? Isn't everyone there gay?" conversation I definitely wouldn't have. I love the South. It's not perfect. The response, as I got older, was "Yep. That's right. They spring up fully formed in the Castro. All the gays in the world are in San Francisco. It's not like they moved there from less tolerant places or anything.") Mary's family had this amazing house on the Amite River. It really had two houses on the property and a fire pit and a freezer full of steak our broke college selves got to eat because her dad was an attorney that had a client who paid in meat. I only vaguely remember her parents being around but her twin brother and other siblings and their assorted frat brothers and friends would be and we'd drink beer outside by the fire pit listening to classic rock and pop country, laughing, carrying on, being the absurd undergrads that we were. It was pretty damn idyllic.

Add in that the show, despite any kitschy failings, has a solid soundtrack of country hits, the Spotify mix of which I may have been listening to too much this week and I am all sorts of missing South Louisiana, hanging out in tank tops and shorts and flip flops down by a river drinking crap American beer. I want to do that now!

Yet I'm stuck in a city that doesn't even have a country music radio station. (Every so often we get one, not enough people listen to it, it disappears, lather, rinse, repeat.) This means I am certainly not in a town with a Bud in cans, peanut shells on the floor, country blaring from the jukebox where everyone sings along to the parts that aren't in the David Allan Coe song ("Let me let me let me!"). There is no respite in the city for my rose colored college nostalgia. The closest we have to a country bar is The Saddlerack. The website autoplays really crappy music (including that awful Cotton Eyed Joe song) and it's in Fremont which might as well be Lubbock. Really, who goes to Fremont? Typing in "Country Western Bar" on a Yelp search led to highly amusing results. We got a new Tex-Mex place, but I'm pretty sure that's far more upscale than what I'm in the mood for. SF, for all it's wonderful offerings, does not know from foot stomping Southern places. I don't want a hand blended concoction by a mixologist. I want something far more...redneck, for lack of a better word. Anyone got any suggestions? If not I'm just gonna have to go buy up all the Abita, turn the heat on the house to 80, blare some Keith Urban and my friend JR's favorite song from our sophomore year "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" (real song, y'all) and fake it myself.

Monday, May 14, 2012

'Keep Being Awesome'

It was likely a throw away line at the end of an email from a friend but it was a much needed affirmation.

This past week was...interesting. It started out with me feeling all kick ass and take names, leveled off a bit in the middle, got really rough with gasping sobs on the couch on Saturday night and then rebounded with people finally being human on Sunday, after a couple others completely weren't.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Hockey Love Letter

The following is my hockey opus. If you don't want to read more about me being downright obsessed with that particular sport, you might want to skip this one.

That said, I'm pretty proud of the words spilled below so take a look if you are so inclined. (I'm really bad at asking for things, which is why I'm not begging you to read it and pass it on to all your friends to show them my brilliance and get me a job somehow because it will enter the stream and someone will catch a glimpse of my promise and things will go from there. Because that's how things happen in my brain. But you should. Ya know, if you want.)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Family Ruins Everything

Last night I had a family dinner to attend. It was with my two aunts, my cousin, and my mom. It's a girls dinner with pretty much the few members of the family that still all get along after my grandmother's death. (Irish Catholic blood feuds, ftw!)

It's very pleasant and I get a free meal at a nice restaurant.


It was Game 3 of the Capitals/Rangers series. It wasn't going to be a deciding game, as it's a best of 7 series, with a game a piece split, but still, playoff hockey is the bestest.

I watched the first period and a half before we had to head to dinner in Mill Valley.

And dinner was fine. The conversation is polite and my family is nice and all but I was itching to watch the hockey game.