Monthly Archives: June 2006

Ice Cream…So Much Ice Cream

Porkchop came home early yesterday evening (early as in around 7:00), so we went out for ice cream. We have been frequenting Ted Drewes for frozen custard, but I wanted to go somewhere within easy walking distance, so we went to the City Diner.

Goodness, we should have just shared a banana split, but I let Porkchop have it to herself while I ordered my own Irish Cream shake. We were so full of ice cream when we left! Ugh!

I enjoyed my shake, but I wanted something more like a sundae. Sometime, we’ll make the drive to Crown Candy Kitchen for sundae-goodness.

For your mouth-watering pleasure, here are ice cream places I miss:

Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Home of Zanzibar…my favorite ice cream flavor ever.
Hubbard Avenue Diner Also missed for their other sweet treats.
Whitey’s The only thing I miss about Iowa City.
Muriel and Sebastian’s I would be open to giving into my sister’s request and moving to Atlanta if I could live right by Muriel and Sebastian’s. I’ve set up the link directly to the flavors page. That’s right, kids…you can get ice cream that has huge pieces of doughnut or cake or pie in it. Their flavors are super-creative and super-delicious. They also serve yummy food.
Braum’s I grew up stopping at these on the way to visit my grandparents in Oklahoma. My grandpa was a rough-and-tumble farmer/rancher, so going to an ice cream shop with him seemed surreal…even for a 7-year-old.
Buck’s Place Yay! Tiger Stripe ice cream! Yeah, I celebrated my Mizzou school spirit by frequenting Buck’s…which was conveniently located by my freshman-year dorm. Dude…I want to be a Professor for Ice Cream Research.

I also miss the countless ice cream carts in England where you could get a flake – a vanilla ice cream cone with a Cadbury Flake bar in it. Oh, and the convenient gelato shops in Italy…definitely miss those. Okay, this is only kind of ice-cream-related, but I really miss the UW library mall food cart that served red bean smoothies!

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm…..ice cream.

But Enough about Ice Cream
While at the City Diner, we picked up a copy of Sauce magazine, St. Louis’s very own food and restaurant mag. When we got home, we sat on our front steps and read it front to back. For a while, I was outside by myself….by myself except for the raccoon that wandered over by me! From the corner of my eye, I thought it was a cat, but then I turned to get a better look…the raccoon was as shocked as I was! After I said Hi to it, it scampered off to the gutter drain.

The raccoon was cute with its little pointy, masked face and one front leg raised, looking at me. Not cute was the house centipede that ambled across the dining room floor this morning. Porkchop is applying insecticide to that room today. I guess we should spray down the whole apartment.

In other news, Jay International Foods failed me yesterday by not having pine nuts. I’m hoping someone will have them at the farmers’ market tomorrow. If not, it will be on to another grocery store…maybe I should go to a deli on the Hill so that I can also pick up some good olive oil. You see, once I get the ingredients together, I will make a pesto in order to use up some basil. Also because I like pesto, but hate buying the stuff at the grocery store.

Have a good day!

***Update***
There’s a new rooftop French bar and bistro opening not too far from us, Vin de Set, supposedly influenced by a trip to Provence…we’ll see about that. When I first read the name, I thought: Wine of…what? But, no, the name is supposed to be the French phonetic spelling of 2017, the restaurant’s street address. I haven’t been in a French class since I was 15, but I don’t think so! Vingt-dix-sept doesn’t sound like “vin de set.” Maybe the “de” part does if you say it with a long e, but “vin” doesn’t capture the “ngt” sound. And “set” doesn’t do justice to “sept.” Cute idea, but it doesn’t work. Hopefully, the owners are smarter with the food.

Of course, I won’t start with how people pronounce “Chouteau” (the street on which Vin de Set is located) around here. Ah well, I still love being around all the French-y names, even if the pronunciation is mutilated. Porkchop recently had to give me a 10-minute tutorial so that I could say “Gravois” like a native city dweller. The result is ugly, but that’s how it’s done.

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Craft Envy

Before launching into my tale of craft envy, I have to complain a bit more about our local grocery stores. Yesterday after work, I went to Shop-n-Save (because it is cheaper and Porkchop needed Pop Tarts), which is a lot like Cub. I think they might actually be the same entity because the stores are arranged just alike, and the signage is the same. Well, just like Cub, Shop-n-Save doesn’t stock cannelini beans! Or, apparently, pine nuts or sliced almonds! Grrrrrr….. This means I’ll make an additional trip to Jay International Foods after work today.

On the plus side, I found the “World Market” aisle of the new Shop-n-Save and picked up some Bosnian treats. I think it’s a little odd that the Bosnian chocolates and cookies are so much cheaper than the American ones. And, they’re so much cuter. The only downer is that all of the European chocolate bars at Shop-n-Save are milk chocolate. Since the beginning of this year, I stopped eating milk chocolate unless it’s in cookies or a drink. I’ve always enjoyed dark chocolate, but I’ve really come to appreciate it so much more now; in fact, I have no urge to have any milk chocolate at all (except for cookies with milk chocolate). The idea of eating a whole bar of milk chocolate or even M&Ms kind of grosses me out. Blech.

Here are some poor quality pics of the Bosnian treats I purchased…

Wafer cookies and a banana-flavored treat

Banana treat close-up This must be one of the cutest packages ever. Who doesn’t want something with a little cartoon monkey on it?

All of these treats were had for under $1.00. Crazy, eh?

One more thing about Shop-n-Save, English Breakfast tea was to be found nowhere, so I picked up Twinings’s Irish Breakfast tea. This was actually a good thing. It appears that the tea I’ve been craving is Irish Breakfast, not English Breakfast. Twinings’s Irish blend is stronger and more robust than the English one. Much better.

My workplace has English Breakfast tea for free, but you have to use the weird “cappuccino” machine to make it. I think it’s freeze-dried or something….I don’t trust tea that isn’t in some sort of leaf form. I’m still using the non-dairy “creamer” at work because bringing in your own half-and-half or soy creamer says, “I work here, and I’ll be here for a looooooong time.”

Oh, and in other food-related news, I’m finally going to hit the Soulard Farmers’ market this weekend. Yay!

Craft Envy
Have you ever read the Little Birds blog? If you haven’t, you must. The author, Stephanie, lives in a fun old house in Portland, Oregon, where she raises two beautiful children and makes the most exquisite hand-sewn items out of vintage fabric. She also has an infrequently-mentioned husband, who must work a sweet-ass job that allows Stephanie to lead the creative life.

Porkchop and I love to read Little Birds because the blog really is well-designed and well-written. I think half of America (okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration)also reads it because there are always 20+ comments, and just try to buy something off the Little Birds Etsy shop. Things are literally sold as Stephanie posts them. Crazy. Also crazy is that the Little Birds readers shower the author with free things. When Stephanie mentioned wanting to go to the Neko Case concert….no problem! A reader e-mailed an offer of free tickets. Exactly.

Stephanie often posts links to her friends’ blogs, which are filled with super cute goodness. Sometimes Porkchop and I want to throw up. Not from cute-overload, but from envy. We want to be able to stay home and make things, too! Porkchop summed up the issue last week when she said something like, “Carrie, the problem is that these people are all married and have husbands who support them!”

It’s true…but I wonder: Men are still paid a family wage these days?? We all know the wage gap has narrowed because men’s salaries have decreased overall, not because women’s salaries have increased so much.

Anyway, Porkchop continued: “Can we marry a couple of men who will support us so that we can stay home and make things?”

So, if you know a couple of men who want to enter marriages of convenience (convenient for us, that is!) and give us money and health insurance, let me know. We will return the favor by giving them some hand-made goods. We might also want some semen out of the deal, but they can’t have any sort of parental rights to any resulting child.

Of course, Porkchop and I would take turns supporting each other, but we’re barely scraping by together with our respective liberal arts degrees.

Okay, so Little Birds has a sister blog: A Bird in the Hand, written by Stephanie’s sister Lisa. A Bird in the Hand can be refreshing because it’s not as perfect as Little Birds. Lisa still seems to lead a pretty sweet creative life, even though she’s not married. As I learned recently by reading the blog, Lisa is actually a big gay swimmer in San Francisco and has medaled in many international gay sporting events, including the Gay Games. She will be at the Chicago games, so maybe we’ll see her there.

Finally, the bird blogs have a mother blog: Crazy for Fiber. That’s right, Stephanie and Lisa’s mom is a super-quilter who blogs.

I would say that I wish my family were like that. But I don’t really.

I found the Little Birds and A Bird in the Hand blogs while reading the Yarn Boy blog. I love the Yarn Boy blog because he’s funny, but not in that “look at how sarcastic, intelligent, and funny I am” way. Just in a nice, funny way. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been posting very regularly of late. By the way, Yarn Boy has designed a few patterns for Knitty and makes and sells buttons that read “Boys Knit,” how cool is that?

Have a good day!

***Update***
The Bosnian banana treat….better to look at it than to eat it. The fake banana part was vaguely familiar, but I can’t remember what it reminds me of. Buy one and admire the packaging.

A Post about Sports (in a way)

Before broaching the matter of sports, I’ll fill you in on last night, which was uneventful, save for one thing. Our friends K and E (not to be confused with K and B) were scheduled to visit us this weekend. But they’re moving from Iowa City to Northampton on Tuesday, so of course they had to cancel!

Yeah, you always think that you’ll have your move under control and can go off the weekend before, but something always happens. Anyway, we wish them well with their move (and with fixing their radon problem, something us rentors don’t really have to worry about…unless the landlord is apathetic and doesn’t care if you’re exposed to radon).

Before hearing the sad news about the change of plans, I made the basil-lime-zucchini-coconut curry tofu dish that I wrote about yesterday. It’s quite tasty, especially if you like basil and lime as much as I do, and the recipe is available on Epicurious if you’re interested. I don’t have a picture because our camera batteries need to be recharged. After dinner and hearing about the visit cancellation, I continued as though K and E were still coming to visit and did things like clean the bathroom and living room floors and straighten some items. Even though they cancelled, I’m glad that a trip was planned because it caused some of us (who shall remain nameless) to really get things in gear and put away boxes.

On to the Sports Part
On the way to work this morning, I caught Frank Deford’s commentary on NPR. I really, really enjoy listening to Frank Deford – I find his voice oddly appealing and his commentary quite entertaining (usually). When I first heard him, and before I saw his picture, I had a very clear image of what he must look like: older, mustachioed, slicked-back hair that could become bushy when untamed. If you look at his picture, you’ll see that this is exactly what he looks like. Crazy.

This morning, Frank was pondering the connection between nationalism and sports, specifically about why the national anthem is played at sporting events in America. It’s a good question: Why? It’s not played at other events, like theatre or the opera….why sports? Anyone? KEN, do you know? Is it played at all sports – like golf and tennis?

Frank had an excellent point that at most major sporting events like baseball, the NBA, and especially the NHL, the teams are often not composed of only Americans. So what does it mean to play the national anthem?

I’m glad Frank brought this up, as I was also pondering it while attending the Cardinals game Monday night. Well, I wasn’t deeply pondering it…I just wanted to sit down because our seats were in the very top tier just a row away from the railing, and I’m always afraid that I’m going to slip and tumble to my death.

“The national anthem is a lounge act for military showbiz.”
This was the best quote from Frank’s commentary. He was referring to how the national anthem is so overplayed, the Super Bowl people have to hire military jets to fly over the stadium in order to make the anthem special somehow.

He also had a very good point that, at some events, an announcer reminds the spectators why the national anthem is played. “To honor America, please rise…” If we have to be reminded, do we really care?

Other countries seem to really get behind their national anthem, something that Frank mentioned noting while watching the World Cup. He’s right, we don’t so much. Is it because the anthem is overplayed, or because it’s not as rousing as other anthems? I seem to recall that our anthem is actually based on an English drinking tune, but it certainly doesn’t seem like it.

On Another Nationalist Topic
So, the Senate narrowly voted down the proposed flag-burning amendment. What a relief! And not just for freedom-of-speech supporters. Can you imagine if the vote had actually gone to the states?! The voter campaigns would have been absolutely dreadful! If the national anthem isn’t overplayed now, it definitely would have been during such a campaign.

Of course, the Missouri senators voted in support of the amendment. But, the democratic Illini senators voted against it.

A Good Night, but a Very Bad Morning

If you haven’t already read Porkchop’s livejournal, then you don’t know that she started her Monday morning by stepping in a giant hairball and some plant material that Keetah spit up some time in the night. Well, that’s how Porkchop started her day. So, when she e-mailed me asking if I would go to the Cardinals game (because she found cheap tickets on-line), I couldn’t refuse.

After an okay (but boring) day, Porkchop and I went to the game. It was unusual St. Louis summer weather – only in the 70s – but perfect baseball game weather. And I don’t even like baseball. Our evening was quite enjoyable, even though the Cards lost. We capped off the night by stopping for some late-night-fried-food at Sonic. I had cheddar peppers, Porkchop had a corndog, and we shared a junior caramel banana split and a cherry limeade. The only not-so-good part was when a guy leaned into our open window and tried to sell us an ugly gold chain. And then asked for money, and then finally left, but not before he said to Porkchop, “That’s what I like – you’re not scared or anything, you just said No.” For some reason, I think that’s exactly what the guy didn’t like, as he was obviously banking on fear.

I think Porkchop attracts these characters. Last week, she was hit up at another drive through by a meth addict.

Anyway, our night was pretty sweet, especially with the break from the heat.

This morning, on the other hand, made me want to melt away – in a bad way, not that good melt-y feeling. Well, I either wanted to melt away or go get slammed at 9 a.m.

As part of my admin assistant duties, I help set up different sorts of presentations in the building’s learning center. This one should have been easy: PowerPoint with an online presentation and teleconference. Except I didn’t know that the room I booked wasn’t set up for teleconferencing, or that the wireless keyboard in the room was so spotty. You would think that someone would tell me these things, but no one does.

Luckily and unluckily, the executive assistant had volunteered to help me set up because I’ve never done an online presentation. I write “luckily” because she knows the IS support telephone numbers and can get people to help her by being bossy. “Unluckily” because the executive assistant FREAKS OUT under pressure and lashes out at everyone, including the outside people who were there to give the darn thing! Soooooo unprofessional.

Anyway, we ended up moving rooms, which I would have done in the first place if someone had told me that the meeting scheduled for the better room had been cancelled. The presentation still ended up starting 40 minutes late. Sucky.

Now I feel like I’m being pulled into office drama. The executive assistant is talking trash to me about some other people, and those people are doing the same about the executive assistant. It seems like I’m always put into these positions. I end up just listening and not saying anything, but instead trying to change the subject.

In conclusion, I have to get out of this place. Would one of the dozen people who I’ve sent apps to please call me back!

And, in other news, I’m making a tofu dish tonight that uses basil, lime, coconut milk, and squash. I’ve got to make more basil dishes because our little plants are becoming super-producers. I can’t keep up with them! If you’re in the area and need basil, let us know.

I’m still working on the multi-directional diagonal scarf, but I hope to finish it up soon enough. Then I’ll start working on a matching hat. Awesome.

Everybody Loves a Parade

As it turned out, Porkchop went to the park later this morning, but not late enough to see the parade, which is just now winding down. Instead, we walked to St. Louis Bread (aka Panera), ate a bagel, and watched people staking out their parade-watching spots. After we spied a guy wearing nothing but hot pants, Porkchop didn’t want to leave for work. (But, Porkchop, I saw the same guy from the front, and it wasn’t so pretty.)

Alas, Porkchop had to go. After reading the newspaper, I went to the end of the block to watch the parade spectacle, which was much better than the festival.

My favorites were:
1) The gay marching band, along with the 50-year-old guy baton twirler.
2) A group that must be a local roller derby team.
3) The MCC float, which was the most festive.
4) The three-person contingent representing an HIV/STD prevention project.
5) The Gateway Gay Rodeo Assocation float. Because who doesn’t love gay cowboys?

The things I didn’t like were:
1) The largest parade contingent, Citigroup. Need I write more?
2) The Wells-Fargo contingent. See previous comment.
3) Parade watchers dropping F-bombs everywhere. Wow, I’m so glad we know how to handle ourselves when there are kids all around.
4) People with dogs. It might as well have been a dog pride parade. I don’t know why people think it’s a good idea to bring their massive dogs to big public events, especially when it’s hot out.
5) Standing next to smokers. Even more difficult for me to understand is why so many gay people smoke! Big Tobacco doesn’t give a damn about queers – after all, consumers are renewable resources. Why support such evil multi-national companies?? And don’t tell me that you’re trying to help gay tobacco farmers in Kentucky.

What really made my day today was getting a free lemonade. On our way back from St. Louis Bread, I noted that one of the kids on our block had set up a little lemonade and cookie stand. So, on my way back to the parade, I stopped to purchase some of his goods. To my surprise, he told me that I could have one for free – he motioned to someone who must have been a friend of his mom and said that she had paid for one. I tried to give him fifty cents, but he refused.

I remember when I was around 5 or 6 and a friend and I set up our own lemonade stand. Only one person stopped (granted, we were in a residential area), which made me so sad. So, anyway, I always try to stop at stands that little kids set up. Obviously, the kid down the block wasn’t suffering from a lack of customers, especially when he was undercutting Mokabe’s price by $2.50 (and Mokabe’s doesn’t hand squeeze their lemonade or anything, it comes out of a Prairie Farms jug).

Clarification

I just re-read my previous post and realized that I sounded a bit haughty. So, I want to clarify some things…

I realize that Pride fests can be important, especially to gay folks in non-urban areas….especially in rural Missouri and Illinois. Yes, it’s a place to go where you’ll receive no hateful stares, questioning looks, or derogatory comments. So, yeah, it serves an important function.

I just wish that the consumer angle wasn’t so strong. St. Louis Pride didn’t have any sessions about how to organize, demonstrate, or protest. Why not? Are we just supposed to party and buy things the whole time?

I wouldn’t even mind the vendor booths if they were local, handmade items. A few of them were, but the majority were screenprinted items from who-knows-where on sweatshop t-shirts.

I don’t want kids who are just coming out to think being gay or queer is about wearing a stupid t-shirt or sporting rainbow earrings or getting free lube. The Pride fest needs more substance, more spirit, and less corporate consumerism. I realize this is not a new or original thought, but why hasn’t anything come of it yet?

And Now, Other Things

After my last posting, I sprayed parts of the apartment with insecticide. I hate insecticide, but we had to bring out the big guns on our little friends the house centipede (see Porkchop’s livejournal for more info). We hadn’t seen one in a while, then last night I saw the daddy of all house centipedes…shudder! Since I now know what they are, I’m no longer frightened of them, I just don’t want to share living quarters with them. We’ll keep you posted on the situation.

After the fumigation, I made guacamole….but not before washing my hands and forearms fifty million times. Why is guacamole so so so good? Our avocados were perfect, and I had a little tomato to add to it. Yum! If Porkchop agrees, I’ll post our recipe next time.

Restuarant Reviews

Okay, here’s my run-down of restuarants that we’ve been to so far, in no particular order.

Sekisui
An expensive sushi restaurant that isn’t worth the bother unless you’re really hard-up for sushi and have money to burn. I’d rather have sushi from the grocery store.

Mekong
Pretty good Vietnamese at a very reasonable price. I had a tasty tofu, ginger, and mushroom dish. Yum! Plus, the staff is really accommodating if you, say, have a very picky 8-year-old with you who really only eats hot dogs and ramen.

Lemongrass
A Vietnamese restaurant that also serves some Thai dishes. Their menu is super-long, and the service is friendly and efficient, but the food isn’t the best. I found my coconut curry dish to be unncessarily heavy and bland. Definitely not satisfied. The sweet potato flan was good, but why no mango with sticky rice? When I inquired whether they had it, the server looked at me like I had two heads.

Mangia Italiano
Yum, yum, yum! Mangia Italiano is so good! K & B and I ate here when they were visiting, and we were all quite delighted with the asparagus bruschetta, the homemade pasta, and the desserts. The only weird part was our server, who didn’t really fit the feel of the establishment and who treated us in an odd manner. But the food….wonderful!

Saleem’s
A Lebanese restaurant “Where Garlic is King.” Hmmmm…good hummus and mezze (little dishes), but I don’t think some of the food quite warranted the prices. While I enjoyed my grilled portabellos and garlic mashed potatoes, I felt like they should have been super-special.

Restuarant Previews
Here’s my short-list of where I want to go next. Keep in mind that this is just my short list…there are many, many places I want to go that aren’t listed here.

Terrene
I think we might go here on my birthday. I’m hoping it will be like L’Etoile, only a bit cheaper. I love restaurants that use locally produced items and that tell you where the ingredients come from.

Niche
Another candidate for my birthday dinner, but I might wait to go there with my parents. 3 courses for $30 – what a bargain! Plus, the chefs are only 26! I think it’s important to support the young folks who care so much about their craft.

Mirasol
I’m not terribly familiar with Central and South American cuisine, but this looks like the place to start. Hey, crab empanadas…I’m so there.

Atlas
Don’t the profiteroles on the website’s home page look so good! I’m a sucker for French and French-inspired food. Especially of the haute Provence variety. I don’t think Atlas quite fits that category, but it’ll do.

Wow, now I’m hungry. Well, not really hungry, but looking forward to working my way through St. Louis’s restaurants.

Good night!

Pridefest?

More like cheap-crap-fest.

I haven’t been to a Pride festival in, hmmmm, maybe 6 years. Actually, probably 7 years. Besides a potluck pinic, there wasn’t much of any Pride festivities in Columbia when I was there; and, somehow, Porkchop and I never made it to Madison’s Pride activities. I did attend Kansas City Pride in 1999, where they played “Party Like it’s 1999” incessantly. I might have gone to Chicago Pride in 2000. I say “might” because that Chicago trip is kind of hazy, surely not because of the enormous amount of pot-smoking that took place (yeah, that’s how long ago it was). I was visiting a friend, and we tried our darnedest to make it to the Dyke March, but I think we were running late (as stoners usually do), didn’t count on the slowness of public transportation (poor planning, another stoner hallmark), and only made it to the breakdown session after the march (but who cared? we probably just shared a joint and went with it). Yeah, I definitely remember buying my Chicago Lesbian Avengers t-shirt from a lady with electrical tape covering her nipples.

But now we live across from Tower Grove Park, where St. Louis Pride is held. There’s no way we could miss it, right? Except Porkchop is working all weekend, and I’m becoming a recluse (joking, but I do enjoy my time at home). Anyway, I promised Porkchop that I would go over to the park at some point today. So I walked over there a little after 6:00 and suddenly remembered why Pride fests don’t interest me.

I believe Pride activities began as a way to stick it to the heteronormative establishment and, therefore, contained some element of rebellion. Now it’s just a venue for people to sell cheap crap adorned with rainbows and whatnot. There was even a stand for a Wal-Mart Vision Center. What the hell?! Who let that crap in?? Oh, but the booth did have the requisite rainbow decorations on it. Wonderful.

So, I walked around for about 15 minutes, saw the rainbow vendors, saw the gay clones, and came home. But I feel like I’m still there since I can feel/hear the music in our apartment.

Porkchop might go in late tomorrow so that we can watch the parade together. Maybe that will be worth seeing. Oh, and someone from the ACLU is going to speak for five minutes tomorrow; maybe I’ll catch that.

The one interesting thing about the festival is the number of church booths. It’s nice to know that, if I chose to do so, I could have my pick of gay-friendly churches in the area.

I wish there was a Gay Shame group here in St. Louis.

Yeah, I guess I could start one myself, eh?

Cotton Candy

Last night, Porkchop and I went to see Circus Flora after having our cobb salad. Circus Flora was awesome! I can’t wait to go again next year.

I don’t know why, but give me trapeze artists, some jugglers, and cotton candy, and I’m happy. Circus Flora didn’t stop there, however; we also saw bareback stunts, trained horses and dogs, and high-wire acts. That’s right…the Flying Wallendas performed their famous 7-person pyramid, which made me so nervous to watch because they do it all without a safety net.

Circus Flora brought us to tears a few times, as all circuses should. [BTW, I don’t go to circuses with caged or poorly treated animals. Circus Flora is in fact named after an elephant that one of the founders saved from being poached. They’re good circus people.]

Murrrr….
Unfortunately, I’m not feeling very well and must sign off early. I had such big plans for this evening….applying to two jobs, doing some yoga, and more blog stuff. However, around 7:00, I looked up from writing a cover letter and realized the room was starting to slowly revolve around me. After more than an hour of sleep, I still feel gross. Darn!

Have a good night!

A Very Good Evening

Porkchop had Tuesday off, and I knew that she was going to make dinner, but I didn’t realize it would be so elaborate. We recently received the latest Everyday Food (laugh if you will over us receiving a Martha Stewart recipe publication, but it usually contains great recipes), and Porkchop made one of the dinners in it. Yum!

So, when I arrived home from work, I found this beautiful floral arrangement in the living room:

I’m of course familiar with the birds of paradise, but what’s this flower?

If you know, do tell. I see them a lot, but I can never remember the name.

Back to the food. Porkchop made garlic-thyme marinated chicken, potatoes, and asparagus with a honey-mustard vinaigrette. Everything was grilled and super-delicious! I can’t say enough good things about the dinner. Also note that some of the potatoes were purple – we haven’t had those since Madison! Thanks, Trader Joe’s!

Along with the potatoes, Porkchop also picked up what I think is my very favorite sliced cheese. I know…pre-sliced cheese can actually be good? This particular cheese is an aged cheddar – made either in Wisconsin or Canada. At Schnuck’s, it costs nearly $8.00, but when Trader Joe’s has it, it’s under $4.00. What a bargain….seriously, it’s really good cheese. Maybe I’ll take a picture of it later.

Oh, also, Porkchop picked up supplies for a cobb salad tonight. Following the suggestion in Everyday Food, Porkchop grilled extra chicken and saved it for the salad. The salad also has avocado and feta cheese in it. Mmmmmmm….I’ll be sure to document it.

After dinner, we went to see Thank You for Smoking, which I’ve been waiting to see for a few months. I enjoyed it, and the Nick Naylor character reminded me of one of our friends.

Last night, our friend Suzi came over and spent the evening with me. I think it was supposed to be a dinner date, but I had to eat right when I got home from work. Leftover tomato-basil bisque and a cheese sandwich (using the cheese described previously). I also threw together some banana bread, but I was very embarrassed by the results! It was burnt to a crisp on the outside and mushy in the middle! Argh!! I don’t know if it’s the oven or the loaf pan, or the fact that I added a cup of chocolate chips. Oh well, I only made it to get rid of some really ripe bananas. However, I don’t trust our oven yet…I wouldn’t be surprised if the temperature calibration is off.

Once again, I must put off my restaurant reviews. Maybe if work is slow this afternoon…

I don’t want to go into the details of my work situation because it’s, well, depressing. I thought I left the admin assistant junk behind in Madison! I hate admin assistant positions, but at least the pay is okay. Anyway, the company and the people aren’t so bad, except the executive assistant is really starting to grate on my nerves.

Here’s an example of what said assistant does:
We’ve been trying to find the USB receiver for a remote – it’s a remote that advances slides and can be used on any computer. We found the remote in a conference room, but we can’t find the receiver. The previous admin assistant supposedly kept both pieces in her desk, which is now my desk. I’ve looked high and low for the USB receiver – I’ve found the instructions, but no receiver. Upon the executive assistant’s insistence yesterday, I looked again….surprisingly enough, no receiver. So, yesterday afternoon, we were both in a conference room helping prepare for a meeting. She left. I finished what I was doing and ran into her on my way back to my desk. She was carrying a photo disk adapter that I keep in my desk. She has seen this adapter before and has even asked what it does (to which I explained its function). Anyway, she asked, “Is this it?” – referring to the receiver. No, I said, that’s a photo disk adapter.

The point of all of this is that, even though I reassured her yesterday that I could not find the USB receiver, she came upstairs and scrounged through my desk. I realize that I’m a temp, and that it’s not really “my desk,” but come on, I think that I: 1) can be trusted to verify whether or not a certain object is in my desk, and 2) deserve the respect and privacy accorded to other employees. This executive assistant once told me that she hates it when people move things around on her desk; well, I hate people routing through my desk drawers! That’s where I keep my dark chocolate stash, after all!

Just one more thing about this executive assistant. I was put off on the very first day when she said, “I hate stupid, and I hate it when people ask a lot of questions.” To which I replied, “Well, I’ll probably be asking you a lot of questions.” To which she back-pedaled and said, “Well, I don’t mind a lot of questions, I just hate it when people ask the same question twice.”

It really irritates me when people say things like, “I hate stupid,” because that usually signifies stupidity itself. Perhaps this is perfectly illustrated by the USB receiver/photo disk adapter incident. She had asked me multiple times what the photo disk adapter was, yet she couldn’t quite get it into her head that it would not be able to act as a USB receiver for the remote control. I wish I could take some satisfaction knowing that she must have really hated herself at that moment, but I don’t because she’s someone who is convinced that she is the smartest cookie in the building.

Soup and a Scarf

Tonight, Porkchop and I thought that she might be able to leave work early (around 7:00 instead of 9:00), so I planned to make our favorite Tomato-Basil Bisque. Unfortunately, she apparently had to stay the full time (employees can’t carry cell phones in the park, so I usually have no idea what’s going on). Having a partner who works at Six Flags is not as glamorous as it sounds…it’s a lot of lonely evening hours.

I went ahead with the bisque. This bisque is so awesome, so I’m sharing the recipe with you. If you enjoy tomato-basil stuff, you have to make it – it’s quick and tasty.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 celery rib, finely chopped
3 gloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons unbleached flour
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 cans (14.5 oz) tomatoes (I use petite diced)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 cup cream

Directions:
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and garlic, and cook for 4 minutes. Stir in flour over low heat. Add broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, bay leaves and basil. Bring to a boil. Adjust heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove bay leaves and puree half the soup. Return to the saucepan, stir in cream, and season with salt and pepper.
Good toppings include: fresh basil, grated parmesan, and croutons.

Here’s a picture of the finished soup (with fresh basil from our plant):

The Scarf
Also, as promised, here’s a picture of the scarf I’m working on:

The photo doesn’t really do justice to the yarn, which is the Bramble colorway from Manos del Uruguay. Here’s a somewhat better picture of the yarn:

Porkchop purchased the yarn for me from Madison’s Lakeside Fibers (best yarn shop ever!).

The pattern is the very popular multi-directional diagonal pattern that everyone is knitting these days.

Yesterday’s Post
So, I know that I promised to do some restaurant reviews tonight, but I’ve run out of time. It’s already nearly 9:30, and I have some knitting to do before turning in.

However, I did want to add another grocery store to my favorites list: Mitsuwa Marketplace in Chicago. When our friend Vivian first told us about Mitsuwa, she introduced the topic by saying something like, “You know how most Japanese grocery stores have a food court?” Well, no, we didn’t, but now we do! Mitsuwa has a food court with around a half-dozen vendors serving very tasty food. Plus, you can purchase really good sushi and sashimi from Mitsuwa’s deli. And they have a bakery. And the most marvelous candy aisle. And sometimes you can catch a performance of some sort in their parking lot.

Yes, if you’re headed to Chicago, you have to make Mitsuwa a stop (it’s not too far from Ikea, if you’re going there as well).

Good night!