Mr. Mandarin

Still sick.

Doped up on medication and ready to just sleep. Here’s a photo to occupy your time until I’m coherent enough to write a real post. Crap, that sentence alone was difficult for me to type. So yeah, a photo.

I don’t what I like more, the drop of juice falling from the oranges or the crazy face G-tot is making. They are both scrumptious.


I think I’ll stick with the crudites

So, yesterday I went to this function that was held by the Toledo chapter of the AIGA. It was the second in a series of what they are calling a Design Hood. Basically it is an opportunity to go check out the work space of various design firms around town. They open their doors to us for a couple of hours, we get to check out their offices, learn a little about the company, and mingle with our fellow designers. As I mentioned in my post from yesterday I almost didn’t go out of my ridiculous fear of small talk, but I sucked it up and went anyway.

Here’s a little secret—I went because I knew that there would be at least a couple people there that I already knew. Regardless, I went. The space was beautiful—an old sewing machine company with huge open ceilings and wooden floors that still had pieces of needles embedded in them from long ago. The people, of course were talented and ridiculously friendly. The two principles didn’t hide in their offices but instead mingled with everyone there, laughing and joking and giving a great presentation of their company.

In the center of the office is a large prep area with cutting mats, templates, and what every good company should have—a Wii. This prep area shares the room with a really nice kitchenette. For the Design Hood there were several bottles of wine, beer, pop, and a nice spread of finger foods. One of the items in the spread were slices of prosciutto. Not wanting to fix myself a plate, I sort of awkwardly folded and stabbed a piece of the meat onto a toothpick. Then came the tricky part—how to eat it without looking like a savage. Which was not an easy task. The first bite I took sort of pulled and with came more than I was trying to eat. Like a spaghetti noodle. Which we all know is a terrible first date—or in the company of strangers—kind of food. So that was a bit awkward. A few more strategically placed bites and I realized there was no lady-like way to eat this. So I shoved the rest of the piece into my mouth.

Big mistake.

As soon as I started chewing I had flashbacks of my ill-fated experience with a cold scallop appetizer at a bridal fair many years ago. It wasn’t an enjoyable experience and I had to figure out a way to discretely get it out of my mouth and into the nearest waste receptacle. The problem with the prosciutto wasn’t that it tasted bad, it was that there was way too much fat on it and I just couldn’t chew it up. Not without gagging at least. The bigger problem was that I was in a room full of people, the napkins were at least five feet from where I was standing and I had no idea how I was going to pull this off non-chalantly.

So I did my best to not look at anybody or gag as I navigated my way through the crowd to the stack of napkins. Next I did a sort of simultaneous turn and swoop move to get the meat out of my mouth and just hoped that nobody realized what was going on. I stuffed the napkin in my now empty cup—oh how I wish there would have been another swig of wine in that cup—and tossed it into the trash. Then I told the guy next to me not to try the proscuitto.

I wonder if I can hang bacon curtains in my temple?

I take terrible care of myself these days. I have been for a really long time. I can’t really pinpoint exactly when it happened, but I have been pretty apathetic about my body for far too long.

Especially about the way I eat.

My breakfast usually consists of coffee with soy milk. THAT’S IT. If it is a morning I have to work I may grab a Blueberry Eggo on my way out the door. Plain. Toasted. Wrapped in a paper towel to eat as I’m driving. But more often than not, I’m only consuming coffee for the first few hours after I’m up. Far from nutritious for what is supposed to be the most important meal of the day. For past few weeks JQ has been on a smoothie making kick. Fruit, yogurt, honey, wheat germ, and milk. Totally delicious. On the mornings when he whips up a batch, I drink one along with my coffee. Which is great, but not really enough.

So, I need to work on that.

Lunches are sporadic and seldom constructed for me. There really is no reason that to happen either. Except I’m lazy. On the days I work I should be taking something with me. Something that I packed the night before because I am so not a morning person and always crunched for time. The days I’m home I should be eating with G-tot. That child eats nutritious meals ALL THE TIME. Well…almost all the time. Why am I not doing the same?

Again, laziness. Man, I suck…

Dinners are better. At least on the days I’m home. Right now my work schedule offers only two 5 minute breaks between 4:30 and 10:15 so the idea of a real “dinner” on those days is non-existent. When I’m home we usually have a decent meal. Especially if I’ve planned something. Oh my god, planning is so freakin’ helpful. Nothing like pulling a chunk of frozen flesh from the freezer at 5 o’clock in hopes of eating within the hour. Which ends up not being what you eat at all. But on the other days—the days where I carve out time and have a real meal in mind—those are the days we eat good. Real, nutritious, delicious food.

I want to eat like that all the time.

Enough not eating breakfast.
Enough with the late night snack fest.
Enough with the pop that doesn’t taste that great anyway.

It’s time to start treating my body like the temple that it should be. Not at all like the one stuffed full of french fries and brownies that I currently occupy.

Homemade Applesauce for Lazy Cooks

Sunday morning we picked apples and Sunday night I made homemade applesauce for the first time. Making applesauce from scratch is something I have been wanting to do for years. Now I can say I have—damn, why didn’t I put that on my list? Anyway, I made applesauce, it was super easy, and it kicks store-bought applesauce right in the pop-up cap.

I decided to make my applesauce via the slowcooker method so I could wake up Monday morning and have hot applesauce for breakfast. The recipes I found online were all over the board. Some called for as little as a tablespoon of sugar and others as much as an entire cup. So I did what any good cook would do—I consulted the various recipes and then completely adapted it to my own liking. The results were great and I will be making another batch very soon. Did I mention it was super easy to make? And delicious? Okay, good.

Seriously, tell me this doesn’t look yummy. Look at that melted butter dusted with cinnamon. Mmm…


Here is my adaptation of the recipes I came across. Enjoy.

Slowcooker Applesauce

10-12 medium apples—peeled, cored, sliced/chunked
1/8 cup each white and brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup water
1/2 TB lemon juice

Toss it all in the crockpot.
Give it a stir.
Cook 8 or so hours on low.
Mash with an immersion blender to desired consistency.
Serve hot (with a pat of butter, my favorite) or cold.

Notes about what worked for me
I used Jonathon apples. I like the tartness of a Jonathon and they are good for cooking.
With the sugar I just eyeballed about half in a 1/4 c. measuring cup. You may find you need more or less, but this was a good amount for us.
You want the crockpot to be 2/3 to 3/4 full for good cooking. I used a medium size crockpot for this recipe.
I put the crockpot on around 6 pm. I finished the applesauce at 8 the next morning. So no worries about cooking it too long—within reason. You could probably cut the cooking time in half if you cook it on high.
I did a primarily smooth applesauce with just a few small chunks throughout and the immersion blender was perfect for this. You could also use a food mill or a fork to mash it up.  I imagine a blender or food processor. Just remember not to fill those last two more than halfway as the heat will cause the contents to expand. Hot applesauce on skin can’t feel good.

Sunday Dinners #5 (03.01.09)

salad, fried chicken breast tenders (from scratch),
and crash hot potatoes (a recipe I discovered here)

What I’m thankful for this week is an easy one. I’m thankful for having JQ in my life. Today we celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary and it amazes me that it has been that long already. The days with JQ and I go way, way back. We were friends long before we were a couple and he has been in my life for over 15 years now. That’s almost half my life. There are plenty of days when we butt heads, but JQ is my best friend. Instead of being disgusted, he laughs when I fart. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Sunday Dinners #4 (02.22.09)

Homemade tacos. One of our favorites. Salsa was made from tomatoes in our garden and canned by us back in August. We didn’t have a packet of taco seasoning on hand so we whipped one up with a recipe pulled of the internet this afternoon. The beef is venison burger made by my dad and brought to us on their last visit. If the idea of that grosses you out, I would bet you wouldn’t know the difference if you ate it this way. Seriously. It just tastes like what you would expect taco meat to taste like. Which is of course, yummy.

This week I’m thankful for the generosity of one of my blogger friends, Nobody. In the comments of my F.T.U.T.S.A. post earlier this week, I jokingly asked Nobody to convince my local PBS station to convert back to analog. It was the only channel we really watched—mainly for G-tot—and they made the digital switch back on the 17th. We have no cable, so that meant no PBS any longer. Yesterday in the mail we received a package from Nobody. In it, a digital converter box. We now get the best picture we have had in years and several additional channels—including two more PBS stations.

Thank you so much Nobody. You are awesome.

How about all of you? What are you thankful for this week?

Sunday Dinners #3 (02.15.09)

I forgot to take a picture of our dinner yesterday for my Sunday Dinners post. JQ and I went to a classic pianist recital and when we got home I was rushing around to make dinner and totally forgot about taking photographs. I didn’t remember until we were finished and the dirty dishes were in the sink. Lucky for all of you I used my mad skills to render an incredibly realistic illustration of what we ate.

veal parmesean, garlic bread,
and whole wheat pasta with chunky mushroom sauce

Nice, huh? This week I’m thankful for the fact that I finished up my grades and turned them in before the weekend started. What a relief to not have that looming over me these past few days.

How about you? What are you thankful for this week?

Sunday Dinners #2 (02.08.09)

green beans
parsley potatoes
bacon wrapped lemon garlic turkey tenderloin

This week I’m thankful for the kind words bestowed upon me by Lisa & RR regarding the purchases they made from my etsy shop. It is really validating to get positive feedback on your work of art (no matter what the medium). What are you thankful for this week?

When I opened the can of potatoes, there on top was a perfect heart shaped tater.

Sunday Dinners #1 (02.01.09)

I had this great idea yesterday. I would take pictures of our family dinner on Sunday and post them along with one thing that I’m grateful for from the previous week.

My thinking was that Sunday dinner for us is that sort-of end of the week/new beginning/family time. I love making a sit-down dinner for us to cap off the week. Most of the time, Sunday is that one day that the three of us don’t HAVE to be somewhere. It’s family time. It’s time to rejuvenate and prep for the upcoming rush of the week. It time to reflect and enjoy one another. It’s a good time.

But I forgot to write the post yesterday.

I took the pictures but after dinner was dishes, bath, story time, bed time, The Office, and then I was exhausted. And…I forgot all about my great idea.

So, do me a favor. Pretend this post was up last night, won’t you?

This week I’m thankful that I was brave enough to take the initiative and introduce myself to two strangers at a AIGA member meeting.

Have you ever had a lychee nut?

When I saw them sitting on the counter at the farmer’s market I was intrigued. I had never had one before and had no idea what to expect, but the box of them called me. “Try us” they begged. “We’re inexpensive and exotic” they beckoned. So I bought a few. Then I took them home and photographed them.

That’s normal right? I mean look at them. Aren’t they lovely?

Rough ruby colored exterior. Touches of yellow-green where the fruit grows on the tree (is that what they grow on?). About the size of one of those large gumballs you get out of the vending machines at the grocery store. And the skin? It’s paper thin. Not at all what I expected looking at that rhino-like shell.

The inside? Reminded me of a big fat maggot. Not exactly what I want to put in my mouth. Soft, white, and slightly elastic feeling. Don’t you want to run out and grab a handful?

I got over it quick enough. I was not going to let that visual keep me from tasting it. Who’s to say I would ever get another opportunity to try a lychee nut? Or would want to? So I bit into it.

I was not impressed. I think the sign at the farmer’s market described it as a cross between a grape and a grapefruit. I just thought it was bland. I’m glad I tried it but I won’t be buying them again anytime soon.