July 26, 2012

Mr. Bear Wants to Move to Australia
(+ Peach-Bourbon BBQ Shrimp)

I’m a curious gal.  I love to travel.  And under the right conditions, it might even be possible to persuade me to move overseas.  Imagine the adventures.  Imagine the food.  But in my imagination, there’s always air conditioning.  In Mr. Bear’s imagination, on the other hand, there’s usually a rainforest, a horde of vampire bats, a stolen idol and an appalling lack of turn-down service.

He’s never been able to give a satisfactory explanation of this phenomenon, but I’m willing to bet that if we could plumb the depths of his brain, the phrase “real men” might be floating around there somewhere.  As in “Real men can protect their families from man-eating lions” and “Real Men punch sharks.”  Not a lot of opportunities for that kind of thing at Colonial Williamsburg.  Given the choice, I’d rather go with fewer real men and fewer wild animals trying to eat me on my vacation, but that’s where we agree to disagree.

Now, some of the places that Mr. Bear habitually suggests for vacations are probably very nice places.  But since the only information he’s ever given me about them are phrases like “Did you know that there are over 40 kinds of scorpions there that can kill a man?” I tend to reject them outright whenever the subject comes up.  But I can compromise.  Here, for example, are a number of foreign countries in which I’d be very content to live, and some compelling reasons why:

  Italy.  Mmmm risotto.  
France.  Mmmm crepes.
Germany.  Mmmm wurst. 

Are you seeing what these places have in common?  That’s right.  None of them are Australia.

July 19, 2012

Dammit, I'm a Ma'am
(+ Chocolate Dulce de Leche Bars)

I phased into old age this week while shopping for dinnerware.

 I had driven to Home Goods because my photography could use some improvement.  Since shopping is more fun than practice and learning, I had decided to attack the problem by acquiring a collection of photogenically mismatched saucers and bowls.   This is called logic.  Or laziness.  Sometimes I confuse my “L”s.  As I was packing the newly-purchased props into the car, my brain spoke to me out of the clear blue sky, sighing:

“Dammit, you’re a Ma’am.”

I won’t say this wasn’t disconcerting.  I’m not sure if other people’s brains do this.  I mean, you never really know what’s going on in other people’s minds.  Maybe when Joe looks at grass and Granny Smith apples, he sees the color I call “red.”  How would we ever know?  Brains are weird.  So I don’t know if other people’s brains chat sociably with them.  In books and movies, people always think in “I.”   “I’d like to see the new Batman movie.  I wonder if nacho cheese counts as a fruit.”  But my brain always speaks in “you.”  “I cannot believe you just said that.  If you don’t get in the shower soon, squirrels are going to start falling out of trees as you walk past.”  The voice in my head isn’t really me, per se.  It’s more like one version of me: snarky and hyper-observant and completely without mercy.

This is starting to sound a lot like Son of Sam.  Don’t worry.  The worst thing brain-me has asked me to do is to slap on some lip gloss before going to the store so the stockboys don’t mistake me for a shambling zombie.  The minute it starts asking for ritual sacrifice or reality TV, I’ll be on the psychiatrist’s couch.  The Bachelor is nothing to mess around with.

July 12, 2012

Demon Soup
(+ Cucumber, Avocado and Lime Soup)

I might not have been willing to try this recipe if my internal organs hadn’t been melting.  It’s so hot here, guys.  And it has been for weeks.  My herbs are crispy in their little terracotta pots.  The central air is doing everything it can, and we’re still taking cold showers twice a day to keep our core temps down.  I think I saw a demon the other day.

A not-so-unimportant aspect of having a food blog is making food.  And then writing about it.  This is becoming a problem, since I haven’t wanted to eat in three weeks.  That tends to happen when it’s hot.  So, flailing in desperation, I relented and made this soup.  You should understand that I’ve got nothing against soup itself.  The amount of my freezer space taken up by perfect ranks of sandwich bags filled with it can attest to that.  It’s produce that I have issues with.  It’s such a tease.

Walking through the produce section is like being drawn onto the rocks by the Sirens.   Aisle after aisle, gleaming piles of perfection in every color, brimming with such potential.  Fresh, crisp, and somehow seductive.  And it’s all the better because of the time of day.  I have zero patience for the shopping cart mambo, so I tend to do the groceries at about eight o’clock Saturday morning.  That means it’s me, the senior citizens, and mountains of pristine produce: beautiful and absolutely untouched.  Papery onions, plums with their frosted sheen.  All things green.  They haven’t been pawed or dropped, and their pyramidal piles are so enticingly...precise.  

It’s at this point that I usually decide to bring them home with me.  All of them.  To hell with fridge limitations.  And to hell with precedent, which states that I will collect a cartload of vegetables, bring them home with the most noble of intentions, then discover a pint of Cherry Garcia in the back of the freezer and leave the green stuff to get shriveled and sad in the crisper.  This time will be different.  I’m positively euphoric at the thought of pestos and slaws.

July 5, 2012

Three Helpful Tips for Newlywed Life
(+ Doughnuts with Grapefruit Curd)

It’s July now, which means that we are mired in the blackest depths of wedding season.  (That’s my take, anyway; if you like doing the YMCA in uncomfortable shoes and running interference between your second cousin and “handsy Uncle Leon,” more power to you.)  Since it’s recently been brought to my attention that I’m coming up on my first wedding anniversary, this seems a perfect time to give you soon-to-be brides a few bits of hard-earned wisdom.  There are plenty of books on marriage out there, and plenty of relatives who’d like to give you advice.  The following three matters, however, were never mentioned in any of my sources, and took me completely by surprise.  Lest you be similarly gobsmacked, consider this list my wedding gift to you. 

1.   Nobody Cares About Your Charming Personality 
                (Except Your Husband, and Even His Motives are Suspect)

From the very first second that you are legally married, everyone around you is going to take a sudden and disconcerting interest in your uterus.  If they are especially polite, elderly relatives greeting you at the reception will wait until after they tell you how lovely you look before launching into questions about your sperm-related plans.  But most won’t.

In the weeks and months following the wedding, the behavior of previously rational human beings will become increasingly worrisome.  Potential grandparents with degrees in the field of medicine will try to convince you that pregnancy will help your cramps, your skin, and possibly that ingrown toenail.  Every adult you have ever met, and some whom you have only heard of in passing, will be rooting for you to become impregnated.  This will be mildly confusing, since up to this point your entire life will have consisted of various people warning you not to become impregnated, lest your life be ruined.  Etiquette dictates that you ignore this glaring inconsistency.

The glazed and slightly manic looks on the faces around you and the constant mantra “Baaaaaby.  Baaaaaby.” are going to be unnerving.  You will grow concerned that this is the start of the zombie apocalypse, or possibly some sort of alien virus.  Your first instinct will be to discuss this with your husband, as he is, after all, your partner and helpmeet for all eternity.  Fight this impulse - not because you’re wrong, but because your new spouse probably isn’t going to take kindly to you referring to your in-laws as “the spore people.” 

Unless you actually want to become impregnated, I would suggest bribing an as-yet unattached sibling to become engaged in order to take the attention off of you.  As a long-term measure, you might want to consider adopting a wolverine or some other mostly-feral animal.  One of you may lose a limb or two, but you will develop a reputation for eccentricity that others will feel is incompatible with parenthood; with luck, they may even stop suggesting it altogether.