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The football snacks have arrived. Usually it’s pictures in the Sunday paper, in the coupons, of giant football shaped layered sandwiches iced with cream cheese, football stadium-shaped appetizer trays, football shaped cheeseballs, and that type of thing.

This year I got the pictures in my email from – my favorites are the football tater tots on a chip, and football eggs, hard boiled eggs, halved and coated with browned breadcrumbs to be football color, and placed on a pesto-spread slice of cocktail rye, like grass.

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Back and forth

To Chicago twice in one week. Hit or miss – the snow and New York City.

Steve & Heike came for brunch on Sunday – we had blueberry pancakes and sausages and crispy tofu (kind of like this but I do it different – maybe tofu cubes can be a post on the other blog) and a winter fruit salad.

Mark went off to Chicago, and I made vegan rice pudding and watched Downton Abbey and Shameless. I was trying to use up some almond milk, but I didn’t like the results – I think it’s going into the compost.

Monday I had a pretty normal work day, but lugged everything I needed for an overnight, and then left for Chicago on the 4:30 bus. It snowed about an inch in the morning, then rained. Pretty miserable when I was walking to the bus, but once I got on, as I told Rach, I had absolutely nothing to do for four hours except read and eat chocolate. One mistake I made was turning the iPhone camera selfie-style just to see what I looked like – and there was a little old lady.

Tuesday I had to be on a panel at a conference at 10:00, so Mark and I walked up Michigan and had breakfast at Le pain quotidien. I had a bowl of steel cut oats that looked a lot like the below, except with Chia seeds thrown on top, somewhat annoyingly, and I had to beg for milk.

Recipe here

Recipe here

The panel was just fine, except I got a nosebleed right before I had to speak – that’s kind of a new one for me.

I walked to the train, and picked up a half sandwich at Pret a Manger, and a coffee at Starbucks. I ate the sandwich and drank the coffee in the train station, and bought a cookie and a water for the train, at Corner Bakery. On the train when I had time to look them up, I thought it was kind of amusing that I found calorie counts for all these “fast casual” restaurant foods in My NetDiary – but it makes sense – and also realized that I had consumed my full day’s calories by about 2:30. Which didn’t stop me from munching some peanut butter and pretzel crackers when I got home – I had online class at 7:00, so felt I needed fortification. And I had a hot cider with some brandy, because Megan was already having a beer, by the time I came down after class, and didn’t want a glass of champagne, to toast her golden birthday. But now I feel really too full.

The snow missed New York City, and I had two near-miss iPhone disasters. First, when I was on the bus, I opened a bottle of fizzy water – and it just poured out, onto the New Yorker in my lap, which had only just seconds before been cradling my phone, until I moved it to my coat pocket just in time to miss the flood. And when I got to the train station, when I exited the bathroom stall, my phone jumped out of my coat pocket and fell harmlessly to the floor – again good timing – missing the toilet, the gutter, all manner of dangerous places.

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Work Winter Salads


Kale salad

Kale salad

I bought a bunch of kale last Saturday, and I’ve been making these salads to take to work for lunch. I got my knives sharpened on MLK day, and they’re working great for shredding the kale. On Wednesday, the salad had one big leaf of kale, shredded, topped with French lentils that had been cooked and tossed with a little shallot (minced when the knife was still blunt), and a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, a pinch of grated Parm, roasted beets, and egg. Today’s salad was kale, shredded, topped with the last of some Rancho Gordo beans tossed with a pinch of sugar and balsamic, and salt and pepper, some blue cheese, a dollop of creamy herb dressing, egg and almonds. But it kind of backfired on me – that is, although it was a healthy lunch, it didn’t inspire me to eat healthfully the rest of the day. I didn’t eat lunch until almost 2:00, and somebody brought browned butter Rice Krispie treats – the kind of gourmet/junk food mashup I love – so I got home not even hungry. Instead of a real dinner, I had a big cup of hot chocolate, and a few (well, 5 or 6) marshmallows, and then I ate graham crackers and Nutella at quarter to 9:00 when I got hungry again. So much for confining my eating to twelve hours like the NYT Mag said, but they did also say you could cheat a little on weekends.

PS – and tonight – Saturday, Jan 24. – I made my Cheaters Winter Caesar Salad – this version was all shredded kale with garlic croutons, and dressing made from mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, and Worcestershire, and even though the recipe as I wrote it doesn’t say so, a touch of Dijon mustard.

Last of the kale Caesar, packed to go to work Monday. The croutons will be soggy but it will still be good. Maybe I'll eat it tomorrow instead ...

Last of the kale Caesar, packed to go to work Monday. The croutons will be soggy but it will still be good. Maybe I’ll eat it tomorrow instead …



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It’s a long weekend


After a long week, that I’m now straining to remember. Pudding, lentils, and pig, were the food themes as I recall.

I know I woke up in Chicago last Sunday morning – I drove down Friday to deliver John’s new laptop. Didn’t do much that evening – stopped at John’s apartment, found a parking spot in the snow not too far away, and dropped off the laptop. Then I took LSD down to the apartment on S. State – got to see the Palmolive Building with Lindbergh Beacon at dusk (not lit, but I could imagine), so that was good Chicago architectural history for me – after all, when I lived in Chicago, I was an architectural photograph cataloger at the Historical Society, and worked on the Hedrich-Blessing Collection.

In the morning, I did a little work, and John and I texted arrangements to meet to go see The City at AIC. Which got a little mixed up – I thought he was going to park first and then come in and meet me at Intelligensia, and we’d walk to the Museum. Instead, when he said “I’m here”, and when I replied “No, I don’t see you”, it was because he was in car waiting for me out front.

John was a little grumpy with me, but I think that’s normal for 27-year-olds. I was usually pretty grumpy with my (interfering, know it all) mom when I was the same age. The show was good, and we went and got coffee at the member lounge after, then John went to Milwaukee to watch the Packers and I went south to wait for Mark, with a short detour to check out the Mariano’s on S. Clark. I think I’ve decided it’s the best commercial grocery near the apartment. I like the deli and the bakery. I forgot to check if they have Organic Valley milk, but their website seems to indicate that they do.

Mark and I went to see an early show of Into the Woods – I liked it a lot – Stephen Sondheim, Johnn Depp, Emily Blunt – and oh yea, Meryl Streep, too. Rach says she has always liked James Corden in Gavin & Stacey – could be another series to binge watch. We got dinner at Xoco – Mark has a bad addiction to their Cubano sandwiches. I didn’t finish my soup, and when we left, they came running after us, proffering gifts, to make sure we were really satisfied with the meal – we took a slice of the carrot cake we’d seen at the table next to us.

We had pancakes for breakfast on Sunday, at 11 City Diner, and I drove back to Madison.

I can’t remember what I had for my dessert treat for eating while watching Girls and Downton Abbey, but I believe it involved rice pudding and maybe a leftover cookie or six. There are still Moravian Ginger Thins and gember koekjes in a bucket in the basement fridge, awaiting being made into a  crumb crust for a pie or tart. Rach got in about 10:30 and I picked her up at the airport.

I didn’t cook a lot the rest of the week, because I had all these work events with lunches, and a dinner out with a friend. And Rach had 2 dinners out, too. Except I did do some experiments in rice pudding, for my new, other blog. I made this chestnut and lentil soup on Monday night, but, of course, by the time it was ready I had filled up on rice pudding & granola. Rachael, Megan and I did finally eat soup on Thursday. And I made pork chops and roasted vegetables and a big salad with lentils on Wednesday – Anna found a place to sell her half a pig, and we split it three ways. An amazing amount of meat for $89 – 3 packs of bacon, + another of bacon ends for cooking; a ham; a ham steak; link sausage; 2 roasts; a small rack of ribs; 8 chops. I need to make fried rice with the leftover pork. This morning, I cooked a pot of rice to chill for the fried rice, and the smell reminded me of the rice pudding. Maybe I’ll have too much rice for fried rice and will have to make more rice pudding. On Friday, I had a long day with a breakfast event, an afternoon event, and a retirement party. I left the house at 7:45 a.m., and got back at 6:00 p.m. I had half a bagel with cream cheese at the breakfast, bought a spinach salad for lunch, ate the two clementines I had with me, got a piece of carrot cake at the afternoon thing, and drank a beer at the retirement. I was on my own for dinner, so I had hot chocolate and peppermint patties for dinner. There’s still a brown paper bag of leftover Halloween & Christmas candy in my closet – fun size Snickers and Twix, and there were two bags of Christmas-wrapped peppermint patties – I’ve just about finished one, but the other is enough to make brownies.

Yesterday, Saturday, we went to the indoor farmers’ market, and I made vegetable enchiladas for dinner, that I left cooking in the oven on timer while we went to see Wild. Today we had French toast & winter fruit salad for breakfast – hence the pics at the top – and I want to candy the grapefruit rind, as my next cooking experiment for the other blog.

I’m making puff pastry apple tart and custard sauce – crème anglaise – for Downton Abbey. So I won’t forget this week.

So I guess the biggest difference is that last Sunday, the Packers won. And this one, they lost. Rats.

Puff paste apple tarts with creme anglaise in bad light

Puff paste apple tarts with creme anglaise in bad light

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New Year’s resolution for my blog

I was looking for a way to jeuge up my blog for the new year. I’ve been blogging since 2006, on two platforms, blogger and Word Press. My brother decided to stop blogging at a similar juncture, but in fact, he’s back. I started looking at other food blogs that I like, particularly Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks and Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen. Heidi recently posted some advice on how to maintain a long term blog, the  key piece of which – to me at least – is to try to write something good once a week. Smitten’s Deb does more like twice a week, but what both writers do is feature a recipe with every post.

I thought, ah ha, I can do that. I installed a new word press, and set up Deb’s Lunch … at the counter. The metaphor being that you come to Deb’s Lunch, and sit down at the counter, and something tasty is served up. I thought, ok, each week I will keep track, and then write about – and photograph – a dish that I’ve either cooked or eaten, and include the recipe, and my recipe experiments. Which is a great aim, but unfortunately, the difference between me and Heidi and Deb P. is that I have a day job, and food photography just sucks under kitchen lights at night. Heidi has a kitchen where she does most of her photos, with white marble counter tops, and corner windows where she can arrange food in great light. She’s got a studio for her mail order shop Quitokeeto, that also seems to have great light. Deb is the master of the process photo, series of images showing the process of the dish from ingredients to completion. Even when I’m home cooking in daylight, I get too caught up – I’m afraid I’ll ruin the food by stopping to photograph it. And sometimes I just forget – I eat up, or serve up, whatever it is before I shoot it.

For example, this week, I’ve been eating oatmeal for work breakfasts, and roasted beets and egg, and rice pudding. I thought maybe I’d write about the roasted vegetable salad I had on Tuesday for lunch at work, but it was too mushy and jumbled. I had an almost life-changing realization, that instead of boiling over oatmeal in the work microwave, and eating underdone oats, I could cook the oatmeal at home, and then take it to work in a nice glass microwaveable container. I’ve been cooking the oats with dates, and enjoying them with a blob of local Greek yogurt, and one day, some jam, but didn’t capture any part of that process. The yogurt has a cream top that is just yummy with the oatmeal & dates. My creamy rice pudding recipe is a compilation of a couple, and deserves to be written up, and I even packed a dish of it, and some beets and egg, for my drive to Chicago yesterday. But by the time I got here, it was too dark and late for a good picture, and I figured I might as well eat. So all I’ve got is empties.

Oh, well, I’ll keep trying.

Empty containers & cups that once held beets and egg, rice pudding, and coffee

Empty containers & cups that once held beets and egg, rice pudding, and coffee


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Dessert buffet

First weekend of the new year


I think my brother is right, winter break is boring. The problem I have is that I go from being ridiculously too busy with work, and cookie season, and general holiday preparing, then the holidays are over and I get some free time, and I don’t wanna do the stuff I should do. And this year, I think it’s been especially acute because we’ve had fewer people in the house, so no cooking adventures – or limited anyways, plus everyone’s starting to feel surfeited with rich food from the holidays. I mean, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day there were only four of us, New Year’s Mark and I went out, and Megan and John made steak frites in, and on New Year’s Day morning only me and Mark for brunch. And no more School Woods brunches. So I can’t get too carried away with elaborate meals.

So yea, like the bro says, thoughts of all the things you should do don’t really have the power to get you off the couch. I’ve been reading a lot, and watching TV, and the last couple of nights have gone to bed on the early side, around 10:30 – 11:00, with a book, and then slept in, 7:00 AM or even later. I’m reading this, by Michel Faber, and a book about Alex Chilton, with the same title as one of his records, although I have to admit I skimmed a lot of the section where the author detailed how the Chilton family got to American in 1660 (even though Alex himself did the genealogy), and didn’t really pay attention until the 1930s, when Chilton’s father Sidney was playing jazz. Funny coincidence, when the obit for John Fry came on the radio this morning, and I’d just been looking at his picture at Ardent studios in the book. I’ve been watching the Sopranos – I’m up to season 3, and almost to where I started watching last winter, when HBO was running them at 10:00 PM weeknights. But it’s spotty – it must be a combination of me falling asleep, plus some episodes get played more than others.  I watched one yesterday that I swear I have never seen at all, but the next one up, Pine Barrens, I’ve seen multiple times. I started watching Lillyhammer, and got Mark started, and we’ve also been watching The Honourable Woman. And of course, Downton Abbey Season 5 premiere tonight – can’t wait.

I think mostly, I just feel guilty. And worried that I’ll get fat, or fatter, because I’m not exactly thin – during cookie season, I spend so much extra time on my feet baking into the night, that I am sure I burn more calories than my post-holidays couch potato life style. Although I did shovel snow yesterday morning and this morning. Mark and I walked to the downtown indoor farmers market yesterday, and today I went for a little walk after the snow shoveling – and I’ve been doing pretty well at keeping my resolution of 10 minutes of yoga per day. Another piece on NPR reminded me that I’m not doing as well at daily meditation. I kind of stopped sometime last fall, when I got up to 20 minutes and couldn’t fit it in as easily in the morning, and exercise, too. Maybe I could meditate as soon as I get home from work …

Yesterday I made granola (see above, and below) and roasted vegetables, and was planning some kind of dinner featuring leftover black-eyed peas – but we went to a movie – The Theory of Everything, so ate our separate dinners. At least, I ate some of the leftover black-eyed peas, with the last of the greens, and some of the vegetables I had just roasted. Not sure what, if anything, Mark ate. I had tea, and we shared a few of the last jam cookies when we got home after the movie.

Almost the last of my winter share CSA box roasted: carrots, sweet potato, parsnips, green & purple cabbage. Still have a big bag of beets & half a celeriac in the basement

Almost the last of my winter share CSA box roasted: carrots, sweet potato, parsnips, green & purple cabbage. Still have a big bag of beets & half a celeriac in the basement

Apricot almond granola. It has pumpkin seeds & ground flaxseed in it too, and maple syrup instead of honey

Apricot almond granola. It has pumpkin seeds & ground flaxseed in it too, and maple syrup instead of honey

I did finally do one of the things I’m supposed to do, today – sort and recycle papers and magazines. Yay! I guess I can get a little more couch time, now. And it’s back to work tomorrow, anyways.

Boxing day, but January 4th, and the papers are going into a kitty litter bucket instead of a box

Boxing day, but January 4th, and the papers are going into a kitty litter bucket instead of a box

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New year’s brunch – just us

We had a quiet New Year’s Eve – dinner at Lombardino’s and then went to see Big Eyes. I liked it a lot – and, of course I’m the right age to remember when those big eye kid posters were EVERYWHERE – particularly my pediatrician’s office.

A quiet Eve, followed by a quiet Day. I think this is the first year since 2009 when I have not done a School Woods Brunch. I mean, I guess I could’ve done a Dinner at DebS brunch … but I just didn’t get it together. And I tried inviting a few friends to join us, but that didn’t work out either. Al’s in Chicago, and John and Megan went to Dlux – John said he had to have their spicey sausage sandwich with Siracha aoli. So it was just me and Mark for Hoppin’ John, greens, poached eggs, biscuits, leftover potato cake made from leftover mashed potatoes, and Lora Brody rugelach – but made with my cottage cheese dough, instead of Lora’s cream cheese one.

I went for a walk to the one of the coffee joints over on Monroe, but I had to sit at the high counter along the window, and the two people who squeezed in next to me were too talkative for me to enjoy my book, so I didn’t stay much longer than it took me to finish my coffee. When I got home, I adhered to my New Year’s resolution to do a little yoga everyday – but still felt a little too full from brunch on the prone poses, so it wasn’t quite as healthful feeling as it should have been.

I’m not going to make dinner tonight – we can nibble on cookies and eat leftovers.


New year's brunch 2015


Lora Brody ruggelach


Lora Brody ruggelach


Almost the last of the cookies - I expect I will take a bucket to work on Monday.

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Winding down the holidays

I think I have the Christmas blues this year. Or at least I felt blue on Christmas day – not feeling Christmas-y, regretting the presents I’d given, the foods I made. Like I didn’t make a stollen or a Danish for breakfast, and nothing flaming for dinner. We had planked salmon, and roasted vegetables: squash roasted with the elusive Korean chile paste, Gochujang, that I’d been thinking I’d have to go to the Asian grocery store for, but found at Sentry on Christmas eve day; broccoli roasted with salt and pepper; and mashed potatoes with celeriac. We were too full to eat the trifle – Mark and I didn’t dip into it until the 28th, but we ate it in front of a Downton Abbey marathon, the last three episodes of season 4 back to back to get us all ready for season 5, next Sunday, so that must count for something. And of course, the UN-snowy, UN-Christmas-y, weather’s not helping.

On Friday, John and I ordered his new computer. I made Senate navy bean soup from the bone of the ham I’d had at the cookie party – and it came out too salty. Because I’m an idiot. I usually make ham bone stock, and then cook the beans in that – but this time, I just stuck the bone right in with the beans, the more traditional method, and didn’t taste before adding the two teaspoons of salt prescribed by the recipe. We had a big plate of leftover cookies out, and I  kept eating them, so by dinner I had a bad cookie hangover, and the too-salty soup was not tempting. John and Megan went out – had a nice dinner at Pig in a Fur Coat, similar to, and better than, they said, the dinner we’d had at the Bristol in Chicago – and I sat with Mark while he had soup and salad. Then I think that’s the night we watched Love Actually, since it had been banned from Xmas Eve.

On Saturday, John and Al both went back to Chicago, and I finally did the decorated gingerbread, and baked the slice & bake fig swirl cookies that I’d made from the leftover nukhorn dough and cucidati filling. Megan went out with the ladies – the girlfriends of John’s gang – and Mark and I had pasta made from the leftover salmon. Then I think Saturday was the night we watched the Kate Beckinsale/Mark Strong Emma on DVD from the library.

On Sunday, I sent a big pan of cookies to the homeless, and boxed up a selection of the gingerbread, remade springerle, and other good leftovers for my brother & Jen & Mimi,  and Worcesters, to get them thru cookie withdrawal. Mark and I had fried potato cake made from the leftover potato-celeriac mash, and a broccoli cheese egg scrambler, and toast. We went for walks – I walked to work to get a book, and to check for the green coffee cup on my desk (I think it must be at John’s apartment in Chicago) – and then, as above, had trifle, and Downton Abbey.

On Monday, I went out and mailed my boxes. I came home and did a bit of email catch-up, then showered, made a cookie box for Jane, and went to meet her for coffee at Starbucks. We had a nice chat, and I got back home in time for a phone call, planning the teaching academy winter retreat in January. I worked until about 4:30 – all I could stand. I watched a Sopranos, and then Mark and Ethan and I had dinner: the too salty soup, with scoops of rice in the bottoms of our bowls, that seemed to help a lot, and a roasted vegetable salad with parsnips, and leftover broccoli and squash, and hazelnuts, and a cooked vinaigrette with shallots and garlic and lemon juice and honey – based on the guidelines for such salads, in my new Fine Cooking mag, and in lieu of a crazy too-many-ingredient roasted parsnip salad in Saveur, with hazelnuts and blue cheese, and a wheat beer dressing, that I thought I might make for Christmas dinner. And little mini-biscuits. After dinner, I finished the last three tiny fruitcakes in front of another Sopranos, and now all the cookies fit in the basement fridge except the puppy chow (chocolate coated chex) and rice krispie scotchies from Megan’s mom, that are out in the vestibule.


Decorated ginger cookies


Decorated ginger cookies - Reindeer


Decorated ginger cookies


Giant snow flake that we ate with our trifle


Christmas fallen angel cake trifle


Last of the apricot jam stars


Fig swirls

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Art History

Ethan’s boots in the back hallway this morning:

Ethan's shoes

Ethan’s shoes

Reminded me instantly of Van Gogh’s shoes:

 A Pair of Shoes (1885), by Vincent van Gogh.

A Pair of Shoes (1885), by Vincent van Gogh.

And, the articles that every art history major has to read: Martin Heidegger’s The origin of the work of art, Meyer Schapiro’s Still life as personal object, and Jacques Derrida’s Restitutions of the Truth in Pointing. Here’s a pretty nifty blog post with a paragraph from each critic, and an article written around the time of Schapiro’s death that sums up the debate. Where was this when I was in school? ….. I think I only had to suffer through the Heidegger and Derrida in my art history theory class in 1993. The class where, on the first day, the extremely hip woman dressed all in black said, “When someone says quality, I just have to step back.” [emphasis hers] I should go check the packet of photocopied articles that we had to buy.

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