My kingdom for a raspberry

Who is tired of seeing me post about blackberries? You? Oh. You don’t count. Who else? Nobody? Good. Then it’s settled. I made more blackberry stuff. And I’m still not out of blackberries, so plan on them keepin’ a-comin’. Here you have a blackberry and apple crisp with some leftover blackberry ice cream. Warm, cold, gooey, crisp, sweet, tart…it’s an experiential commotion going on here, and it’s great. Apple crisp is good, just ask any of your more talkative Amish friends. Adding blackberries to the mix, however, despite being kind of citified and fancy, might make the Amish change there non-musical tune.

Some griping about culinary school:

-Fois gras is gross. You don’t agree with me, and I’m okay with that. I saw one whole today and it looked like a malignant tumor. No short Anthony Bourdain interview with Hudson Valley Farms is going to make me any more fond of the stuff. And stop telling me the birds like having diseased livers. It’s a filthy lie.

-I don’t want to put tinted curing mix in all of my food. I don’t care that the evidence about its cancer-causing capabilities is “just speculation.” I don’t like to leave my cancer-free-ness up to mere speculation. So next time a garde manger recipe calls for it, I’m just going to ignore it and substitute salt. After all, it’s not like we’re saving our duck confit. We’re eating it SAME DAY. I’m not adding artificial preservatives for the 10 minute wait between the cooking pot and my own personal belly.

-I’ve stopped making our class recipes altogether and have started just foraging around for ingredients in the walk-in, then making what I feel like making. Tomorrow I am making carpaccio and fried artichokes instead of the shrimp mousse we were told to make. After all, I really like carpaccio, and I really don’t like shrimp mousse. Then, instead of making malfatti salad, I am going to make Nutella mousse. Because I love Nutella, and because Carino is way more fun to play with than the members of my group. Plus, they’ll be busy making shrimp mousse.

-The root word of aspic is ass. As in, “tastes like.”

-The pants on my chef whites are now mid-calf when I sit down. I asked for them in a 34″ inseam, but was told those don’t exist. If that’s the case, then how come my chef, who is 6’7, has pants that are long enough but mine look like I stole them from an Oompa Loompa while he was busy pulling children out of the river of chocolate?

-I’m tired of putting my hair in a ponytail every day. It’s all broken and unattractive now. WTF?

That’s all…for now.


By all rights this should be three posts. At minimum. But I don’t have time these days to do three posts in one morning, and I’m a bit behind, so I’m going to ask that you struggle through a three-fer-one food orgy. It’ll be food porn intensive, that I can promise you. And I’ll actually give you a recipe (SHOCK!). But first we should address that black nugget above. I would sell any of my friends and family down the river for the perfect truffle. But the perfect truffle doesn’t exist, so my friends and family are safe for now. Instead, I just quietly bide my time until very attractive truffles cross my path, and then I pimp them into as many fantastic truffle things as possible. I can shamefully admit that I still have a stick of homemade truffle butter in my fridge from the last time I lucked out. Or partially lucked out, because these are not Euro-truffles, but are instead from Oregon. Less flavorful, but if you get a good one, only slightly so. And WAY cheaper. Only about $200/lb, instead of the request for the firstborn child that accompanies traditional truffles.

The first iteration of this (particularly large and fabulous) truffle was a very traditional risotto. The risotto, creamy and rich with strips of prosciutto and sweet spring peas would have been a solid dinner on its own. But the quarter-sized slabs of black truffle really made it say “I’m awesome! Come eat me!” in a way I’ve never been able to duplicate. And eat it we did, and it was great.

In stark contrast, we had a very humble and basic meal last night, except when all of the humble, basic pieces came together, it resulted in a veritable orgy of Friday night eats. Friday night has a very decided type of meal that it prefers. It has to be lazy, carbo-intensive, cheesy, and preferably eaten by hand in front of the tv. Because by the end of the week, you’re freakin’ tired, right? And Saturday night is for going out to dinner, usually even taking the very extreme step of wearing an “outfit” of some type. Friday? Jammies. Pure and simple.

The ideal Friday dinner, given the criteria, seems to be take-out pizza. An alternate, though a flagrant violation of the criteria, is Asian take-out. But take-out means leaving the house, and delivery means waiting for the pimply-faced delivery boy to come to your house bearing food, causing your dog to go Bjork-at-the-airport nuts. And after waiting that long, you’ve usually already gone into the kitchen and grazed for an hour on nutritious things, like entire blocks of cheese, squares of baker’s chocolate, and jars of almond paste, while wrappers from Amaretti cookies roll past on the floor like multi-colored tumbleweeds.

So why not do it at home? I made a single batch of pizza dough, and got all sorts of foods from it:

Prosciutto-wrapped breadsticks-

Pizza margherita, a simple pizza of dough brushed with olive oil, fresh tomatoes, torn basil leaves, and grated parmaggiano-

Pizza with fried prosciutto, fresh tomato sauce, and, in this case, Comte cheese because it was what I had-

Pizza with tomatoes, prosciutto, and parmaggiano, drizzled with aged balsamic and olive oil-

Pizza “truffles” containing a secret stash of very-sweet yellow tomato encased in a chewy dough-

Versatile stuff, that dough. From the King Arthur Flour website, as many of my favorite baking products and baking recipes are.

Finally, breakfast this morning felt like it was worth sharing. I was going through one of those earth-mother mornings where I feel all at one with things like wheat germ and cocoa butter and phosphate-free detergent. I made pancakes, with this in mind, and they turned out incredibly. So much so, in fact, that I am going to recommend you make these lil’ nutrition bombs at your own homes, and tell me what you think.

I am still rolling around in blackberries, since they’re still on sale and still gorgeous, so I stuck them in the pancakes and made a syrup to top it all.

Kristie’s “Oh-no-she-di-in’t” blackberry health-cakes. Serves 2, or 4 Olson twins
1 egg
1/2 t baking soda
1 C fat-free buttermilk
1/2 C AP flour (unbleached, duh)
1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
1/8 C wheat germ
1/8 C ground flaxseed
1/8 C wheat bran
1/2 t salt
1 T sugar
1/4 C plus 1 T unsweetened applesauce
3 T whole butter
1 C blackberries, cut into halves (I assume you could do any berry, adjusting sugar as necessary)

Whisk the egg until frothy, then whisk in the baking soda and buttermilk.
Sift together the flours and other dry ingredients.
Melt the butter and stir it into the applesauce.
Mix together egg mixture and dry mixture until just combined.
Stir in the applesauce mixture until combined.
Fold in the blackberry halves.
Cook on a flat skillet like you would a normal pancake, until golden brown. Top with maple syrup, or blackberry if you’ve got the urge.

So give it as shot and let me know what you think. Who knows? You may find your hair shinier and your skin softer…or at the very least, you can self-righteously eat a cheeseburger for lunch.

Fusball with my friends

I suck at football. Like suuuuuuuuck. Which I don’t understand, because I was really good when I played college intramural. But today, I stayed after school to play 3-on-3, and it was a spectacle. I think the main difference is that in college, I was one of two girls on an all-hot-guy team of 12, and our only job was to rush up the middle. I was the blitzer. And I was good at being the blitzer. Despite being touch football, it was somehow within regulations to shoulder check the people around the quarterback to get to him. And that was a lot of fun, since I am absurdly tall and overtly aggressive. But today I was expected to run around in circles, and on more than one play, actually CATCH the ball. A ball that was being hurled at me with (I felt) needless force. And the pointy end on a football is kind of menacing to the female body. I wanted to (and probably did) just cower and cover my chest and plead to God “notinthetitsnotinthetitsnotinthetits. Pleeeeeease not in the tits.” I don’t remember being afraid of the ball in college, likely because nobody ever had the misjudgment to throw the ball at me. Also, I felt our 3-on-3 was lacking in physicality.

It was good exercise, though. The heat and humidity are starting to get out of control down here, meaning summer is arriving, meaning it’s time to practice on my ass-baring skills so that the Terminix guy hangs out close enough to our house that he can come stomp on any ant that might wander into our home. And I have to start doing the dishes before bed each night, instead of waiting until morning because I am a lazy woman when my belly is full.

Last night, I made a kick-ass blackberry ice cream out of some of those fresh berries I’m hoarding. It was fantabulous, all creamy and fresh and slightly tart. I served it with a blackberry coulis, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream. And if you want me to be totally straightforward with you, the ice cream and coulis were homemade, but the chocolate sauce was Hershey’s sugar-free and the whipped cream was Reddi-whip fat-free. I keep those in the house for occasional chocolate milk binges and Jell-O toppings, respectively. But despite the couple of bastardized garnishes, the whole product turned out fabulously creamy, rich, and fresh.

I’ve been busy in garde manger class, too. The other day we learned how to pull mozzarella, so the big “reveal” I promised is as follows: I made homemade mozzarella at my house. And I know to many this isn’t a big deal, but it was really fantastically cool for me. I got some curd from our local gourmet foods store, heated it in a salt bath, pulled it into rounds, dropped it in a cold bath, and then pulled it immediately to slice. The thing about fresh mozzarella, one that’s never been refrigerated, is that it is unlike anything I’ve ever had. It’s got that great string-cheese consistency in the first 1/2 inch, but more creamy. Like butter and fresh cream crawled their way into your string cheese. And then the center is soft. Not soft like brie, but soft like pizza cheese, a little. And still warm and buttery. Out of this world. Those of you who haven’t pulled your own mozzarella should try it.

I didn’t want to adulterate the flavor of the mozz too much, so I just made a light bruschetta tray of sorts for dinner.
Black pepper and prosciutto ficelle (a very thin baguette), both yellow and red sweet tomatoes cut into thick slices, fresh basil from the pot-garden, juicy cantaloupe, fresh mozzarella, duck prosciutto, and a drizzle of 15 year balsamic, followed by a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. So pure and fruity, it really hit all of the spots. Creamy mozzarella, acidic tomatoes, salty bread, rich duck prosciutto, sweet cantaloupe…it’s really enough to get a girl excited for spring.

And spring should be about one day long, after which comes summer, at which point I will be physically engulfed in flames, just trying to get from my car to the entrance of the grocery store. Lame.

iPhone vs Blackberry

I got a BUNCH of blackberries from the grocery store. They were $.99/pint, which is ludicrously cheap for grocery store berries, so I bought somewhere in the range of “too many” to “way too many.” But can one ever have too many berries? No, one cannot. One just has to find creative ways to use all of them very quickly, since the average shelf life of a berry is approximately the same as the average life span of a fruit fly, except that fruit flies OCCASIONALLY live for a very long time, becoming one of those huge, mutant fruit flies that zoom around your home, dive-bombing your head and audibly slapping into your window panes for days on end while you hide under your covers because you think that they might actually just be a really dark bee, because they’re BUZZING for God’s sake, and you’re not about to take the chance that you’ll pull the covers off of yourself and get stung by a bee the size of one of those old overhead projectors. And berries never live that long. Also, berries cannot be mistaken for bees. Beetles, maybe, if you’ve been drinking a lot and see it sitting on the corner of your counter menacing you, but definitely not bees.

Anyway, when I went to try and find fun uses for them, almost every googlable site for “blackberry” was for those little telephones that I don’t really understand because I thought they were little handheld email devices only. You know the ones: the ones that practically come with mandatory bluetooth sets, and are EXTREMELY popular with the douchebag sector of society. Anyway, it was a pain in my butt.

I did make some cordial, though, with maple syrup, brandy, and blackberries. I’m looking forward to drinking it in approximately 4-6 weeks, when it’s appropriately berrified. I should register my complaint now, though. No home product should ever take 4-6 weeks to make, unless it is a human baby. I don’t need that extra time to, say, paint the nursery or think of baby names ( Willard? Are you kidding? I don’t care if your Grandpa’s name is Willard, it’s a stupid name. If we name it that, it’ll come out already wearing brown sweaters and smelling like cigars. Yeah? Go ahead and TELL him I said that. He knows it’s a stupid name. Whatever. You shut up! Let’s name it CORDIAL.). I just want to think of it, mix it, and then be able to immediately make fun cocktails out of it. And I’m really excited about it, because I figure anything that could get Ann of Green Gables completely twanked at the age of 14 without her even realizing she was drinking alcohol is going to be deeeee-licious.

And I made jam. I’m not going to can it, since I only made about a pint of it. Instead, I’m thinking for rounds this week that I’ll make a cookie bar with swirls of fresh jam doing the hustle across the top, in a pattern of intricate swirls of intense crimson against a relatively neutral background. Flavor: stunning. Aesthetic: stunning. Two thumbs up.

Now, I have to go work on tonight’s “special project.” Yes, it’s culinary. No, it’s not groundbreaking. But it’s delicious and kind of cool, and that’s what matters. Here’s a picture of an egg roll bowl from last night to hold you over until the grand reveal:

Chicken and bean thread spring rolls with a sweet chili dipping sauce, over a salad of carrots, euro-cukes, cabbage, and sprouts.
To answer your question, I did not get to eat much of this. Too much chewing. Very sad. I did eat my fair share of Jell-O, though. So million tasty!

That sweet sticky icky

How is it possible that I’m able to consume MORE calories on a “no solid foods” diet than I am when there are no rules? Custards. Baked goods. Gummies. Chocolate. Cadbury eggs. Whole clumps of brown sugar. That’s how.

The gaping hole in the back of my jaw where my wisdom tooth used to be means that I am not allowed to do any strenuous exercise (lame, as the weekend is when I try to catch up for a week of indiscretions that typically includes at least one incidence of eating butter by itself). It also means no real chewing action, although vigorous gumming is allowed on the other side. So while, say, steamed broccoli and baked chicken breasts are completely off-limits, fresh sticky buns dripping with brown sugar goo are totally reasonable food options. Poor me, right?

Another staple of the weekend pity-party has been Disney Princess soup. It’s Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, but the noodles are shaped like tiaras. Campbell’s knows me so well.

So this is the King Arthur Flour sticky bun recipe, modified to include macadamias and apples rather than raisins and pecans. Pecans, I didn’t have. And raisins, I wouldn’t have thought twice about until I felt a sharp, sticky sting on the side of my face, and then another, and then another, finally realizing that Chris was hurling them at me like a displeased chimp. Chris hates raisins. So I went with the apple-macadamia combo, and it was pretty good. I would have preferred no nuts at all I think (hehehe).

I’m going to go back to my drug coma now, in my footy pajamas, waiting for the corn-and-smithfield-ham chowder to finish simmering on the stove. I decided chowders are okay for the healing process. My body looks forward to savory food of some kind. And I have leftover buttermilk bikkies from yesterday morning to go with it. Day-old bikkies make fabulous chowder dippers.

Surprise! *POW*

This is my wisdom tooth. I am now 25% less wise. Those are percentage points I can scarcely afford to lose, having come so close to discovering the meaning of life, or at least how to bake a decent loaf of artisinal bread.

Today has been FULL of gems. One of those real winners where basically mother nature takes her big, vegetable-clenching fist and punches you right in the nards, even if you don’t technically have nards because you’re a woman. I guess you it’d be more accurate to say I got punched in the baby-maker, but whatever.

Today was our last day with chef, heralding the end of a reign of terror that ended in me getting a pretty fierce case of Stockholm syndrome. I’m going to miss the guy, I won’t lie. All the yelling and degrading and fear got kind of washed out by the fact that he let me use the Gelato 3000 today, which I then promptly broke (but only after making some delicious grapefruit-mint sorbet in it). Now we get other chef, who is, as always, a delightfully German goofball. I’m pretty excited. And we get to start garde manger, which is going to be awesome because it’s all cheesemaking and sausagery and delectable canapes. Oh, and some other wack shit, like fois gras and pate and terrines and gelatins filled with things that are NOT pineapple or marachino cherries. But those I can avoid.

I hate dentists. Like, HATE them. I cry as soon as I walk into their offices, and I can’t go near the chair without COPIOUS amounts of valium. Not so bad as airplanes, which I hate the most, but pretty bad. So as a result, my wisdom teeth are still in my mouth. I get my teeth cleaned, but avoid any surgeries that I possibly can. I woke up today in the worst oral pain ever. The tooth that’s been teething was causing some kind of desperate ruckus in my mouth, and it hurt like fire. So after school, I went to the dentist to get it looked at. And he said it was bad, and then he SURPRISED me by taking out my wisdom tooth, with NO DAYS TO PREPARE FOR THIS. So my mouth is full of blood and gauze and I can’t speak or eat. And when the novacaine wears off, I’m going to be a saaaaad puppy. Because my mouth looks like a crime scene. Dexter, famed and adorable serial killer, would be afraid of my mouth. It’s going to suck. I’m going to be taking pictures of only narcotics for the whole weekend, since that’s mostly what I’ll be eating.

It’s been 30 minutes, and I’m supposed to take the gauze out now, but I’m afraid I will a) get a dry socket, whatever that is and/or b)drown in my own blood. Yes, 30 minutes since the surgery ended. No exaggeration. I live extremely close to the dentist and I type fast.

I’m glad I had a decent dinner last night. Hot dogs, truffle fries, and blackberry pavlova. Its memory will get me through the weekend.

I love hot dogs, provided they’re snob hot dogs. Or ballpark hot dogs, which I also love, despite the fact that they’re made mostly of bunghole and snout, sit in a pool of fetid water for hours and hours, and come on a bun made from sugar and paper. But this was a snob hot dog, so it was fantastic: Applewood Farms organic, vegetarian fed, humanely-raised hot dog on fresh pan au lait bun, topped with homemade pickled cucumbers and onions (pickled in a brine of coriander, mustard seed, turmeric, sugar, cayenne and vinegar), and ketchup/smokey onion mustard.

The truffle fries were just deep fried potato wafers tossed with parmaggiano, parsley, and white truffle oil.

Blackberry pavlova=tasty and healthy (ish). Super.

I can tell you all this now, because the experiment failed like one of Sarah Palin’s children in an abstinence challenge. I failed to grow pot. Marijuana. Green stuff. Big failure. And now I have no dill, either. I’m going to be pickle-poor for some time.

I should be clear; it’s not that I have any desire to actually SMOKE pot. I pretty much gave up on that pursuit after high school. I’m perfectly content with my glass of wine, thanks. It’s just that I got that hydroponic garden for Valentines day, and one of the 7 pods was dill, which I would only need to make pickles, and I know from watching the movies about the rappers that hydroponics are for growing pot and nothing else. That’s right. I’ve seen the Method and Red Man shows. I’ve seen their Mr. Cheech and their Mr. Chong. I know about their smelly water pipes and their blacklight posters and their hiding dank in their film containers. I know all about it. But I was SKEPTICAL that you could actually GROW drugs. And, you see, skepticality is a very dangerous phenomena when it takes place in a Kristie.

While I knew that the moving pictures claimed “the pot” could be grown in a basement with drippy water tubes called “hydroponics,” surrounded by smoke and curtains made from stained Super Mario Bros sheets, I was pretty sure that it had nothing to do with ACTUAL gardening, and probably just grew wild in the dreadlocked hair of ne’er-do-wells. I figured the hydroponics was a myth. And I am a mythbuster.

And when all of the culinary students came over to make duck confit in my kitchen, they also provided me with a single seed. A magic bean of sorts. And I pulled the tiny little dill sprouts from their growing pod and replaced them with this one seed. And I was EXCITED. I was going to be a POT FARMER.

But it’s been, like, three weeks, and NOTHING HAPPENED. Which lends credence to the theory that it will only grow in the hair of ne’er-do-wells. So if you know any ne’er-do-wells with hair they don’t mind me farming in, just let me know. Until then, I’ve got a single, empty pod in my otherwise luscious hydroponic garden. So it’s back to the straight and narrow, where the most licentious thing I do on a given weekend is stealing two or three pieces of candy corn from the bulk bin at the grocery store to “sample.” And I’m bitter. Turns out, drugs ARE bad, mmmkay!

On the bright side, I do have some spectacular basil. Two kinds, actually. A regular Italian basil and a pretty, purple basil, both of which I wrapped together in a bunch to festoon a basic pasta arrabiata. And that was DELICIOUS, mmmkay?

It’s Nappy Hour!

Tse-tse fly. Lyme disease. Depression. Pregnancy. Depression about pregnancy. Sleep apnea. Chronic fatigue syndrome. All possible reasons for why I have been as tired as I have for the past 2 weeks. Another possibility is the whole “getting up at 5:30 a.m., working my ass off in a loud, stressful kitchen all day, coming home, doing chores, working out, making dinner, cleaning up, doing homework, rinse, repeat” every day thing. I’m just SO tired. I’m happy, so it can’t be depression. I’m not pregnant. I am not overweight, so it can’t be sleep apnea. I haven’t been in a forest, so scratch Lyme disease. CFS, much like fibromyalgia, are just made-up diseases to re-describe depression, so definitely not those. And I haven’t recently traveled to Africa. Which just means school is making me sleepy. And that’s only for 7 more weeks. OMFG, so exciting! Possibly more exciting is the fact that in 5 more school days, happy German chef comes back, and he’s one of my favorite things. Ever.

There’s also spring break to look forward to, even though it’s going to be busy and only 5 days long. Chris and I are going to Chicago to visit his old stomping grounds on and around Loyola medical school. And we’re doing something extra-awesome while we’re there, which has me jittering to tell you about it.

—-We’re doing the full tasting menu at Alinea, Grant Achatz’s famous molecular gastronomy restaurant. I can’t form into words how cool it is to have gotten reservations for this, and to know that I get to experience something so uniquely fabulous. If you haven’t heard of this, google it. You’ll be astonished by some of the dishes. I keep googling it and re-reading the menu like the food porn that it is (written, though. Like Letters to Penthouse).

Until then, I just need to suck it up and try to get sleep on the weekends. And try to be better about blogging, even though it’s hard to write intelligently when my eyes are burning with desire to close. This weekend is going to be particularly relaxing, I hope. Chris got home early and cleaned the house today, so I don’t have to worry about that. And San Antonio is going through a freakishly wonderful cold spell with rain and thunderstorms almost daily (for two whole days now!). What that means to me is that I can cook snuggly, delicious comfort food with abandon. The last two nights we’ve had cozy meals.

A potato soup loaded with homemade chorizo, Hatch chiles, extra-sharp cheddar cheese, and sweet onions. It was really tasty, but I had to use canned Hatch chiles (I’m out of my frozen stock of fresh). This was a mistake. There were some small fragments of charred peel left in the can that weren’t really edible, so they had to be put to the side of the bowl when encountered. Suck. I hate when one single component of a dish has the power to just annihilate the rest of the good bits. If only there were a really good food cliche about this. Something about one bad apple, maybe. And how it spoils the bunch. Dammit, English language. You fail me every time!

To make up for it, last night I seared the bejeezus out of the cut up pieces of a whole chicken. It was pre-cut, which I guess means it’s probably a weird oversight that the package had three wings in it. Or they’ve gone too far with hormones in the poultry industry… My guess is there’s probably a package out there with only one wing, and a very confused family that is grappling with the reality of eating a chicken amputee. I took the seared chicken, made an herby broth out of it, then shredded it. I thickened the broth with a pale roux, added diced carrots and onions, a touch of half-and-half, and some cayenne pepper. I made some quick drop biscuits/dumplings, and floated them in the creamy liquid to bake.
The bottom half of the dough cooked in the chicken liquid, and the top baked in the dry oven. So it was half-biscuit, half-dumpling, all fantastic comfort food that warmed the belly and the soul. Chris ate, literally, almost an entire 9×13 cast iron pan of the stuff.

I’ve got half of the shredded chicken leftover, and don’t really know what I want to do with it tonight. Mostly, I want to nap. And maybe drink some wine. Maybe take a nap, but set my alarm for every 15 minutes to take a swig of wine. Who knows? The weekend is my oyster.

Duck, Duck, Porn

I had tempted you all with dirty talk about duck confit, and it feels like the right thing to do would be to show you a picture of the finished product. I swear to God, and I say that without any sense of blasphemy since this is clearly a food he’d love, that it is the best thing I’ve ever eaten. I’ve said that before. I felt I had to reiterate. Best. Food. Ever.

I know that it may not be the traditional “aesthetic” food. It’s kind of mauled and decomposed looking. But anyone with any culinary chops whatsoever. Anyone who doesn’t think that Velveeta is a legitimate food product, anyone who won’t eat microwaved IQF chicken “breasts,” well, they’d think this is gorgeous. Decadence in its purist form. Literally about 1000 calories per serving. But if you only eat a couple of bites, and you let your significant other eat the other bites without telling him how many calories are in it, just to see if it’s physically POSSIBLE for him to gain weight (answer: no, which is almost reason to break up with him, right?), then it’s not THAT bad. Especially because I only had a couple of bites and then followed it up with sauteed tofu, pineapple and carrots in just a smidgen of teriyaki. Which is healthy, right? I mean, it’s TOFU. So the fact that I sauteed it in the leftover duck fat is inconsequential…meaning its both vegetarian AND heart-healthy. Right? Ah, forget it.

Note: sauteeing tofu in duck fat might get Mike to eat tofu, Tina.

Happy Birthday Toooooo Meeeeee

Chris is banging pots and pans around the kitchen making dinner. It makes me surprisingly nervous. It’s not that I don’t trust him in there–I do. It’s just a little bit like letting your kid drive your car, knowing they’re a very good driver, but also feeling a little bit like “but that’s my CAR.” It’s sweet, though, him making dinner. He came up with this well-designed menu, with a wine list that includes “a bottle of non-fat wine made with calorie-free grapes.” He’s had 3 choices for salad/appetizer, 3 choices for main course, and 3 choices for dessert. I just had to pick. And he filled out an official mise en place sheet with his ingredients and timeline. Friggin’ adorable. And I’m just supposed to sit, quietly drinking wine and watching House Hunters, which is cruelly playing a Denver episode, which is exactly where I wish I were right now. Because it’s my birthday.

This is my first birthday away from home. I’ve had plenty of birthdays where I didn’t see my family on the actual day (on account of my ongoing obligation to get shithoused on my birthday), but it was always okay because I’d see them on the weekend and celebrate jointly with my little sister, who has the same birthday as I do. So being in school today working my ass off, and then doing grocery shopping and going to the gym and baking a gorgeous triple-caramel cake for grand rounds tomorrow, despite not having a cake myself, well…it kind of put me in a mood. Or maybe it’s just the fact that I’m grumpy that I’m getting older.

It’s not a problem yet. I mean, today at the store I was all schwaggy in my gym clothes getting some eggs when I heard some old guy say “you are absolutely beautiful,” like right by my ear. I definitely didn’t look up, but just scurried away to my cart. I had that weird thing going where I was all pleased with myself and flattered, even though I should have been creeped out. But then again, it’s nice to know that some old perv was so taken with my general appearance that he was compelled to ignore all basic social cues and cross that line into creepiness. Which is nice, right? But then I remembered all those scary-ass episodes of Dexter I’ve been watching, and then I got really scared and looked over my shoulder the whole way home. I’m totally afraid of serial killers, but am strangely captivated by the series. I have it on DVD, so I’m able to do that whole “view the whole season all at once” thing that makes television way more enjoyable.

I don’t plan on aging gracefully. I know that much. I realized it this afternoon, as I miserably ran on a treadmill at a crazy incline with a teeth-whitening tray in my mouth and really short track shorts. I’m going to fight it tooth and nail, and be one of those crazy old ladies who are addicted to facelifts so that they look like siamese cats, wear clothes from Bebe sport that belong only on lithe teenage bodies, except that it will be okay, because I will continue to purchase any necessary body parts to remain as lithe and teenager-y as possible. I’ll be like a little blonde Frankenstein in pink spandex. Woot!

Oh, and speaking of Dexter and my whitening trays, I’ve got two AWESOME new diets that are helping me strive for that strong, streamlined look that you only see on thoroughbred horses, except I’m thinking more the thoroughbred horses that you see on Animal Planet who have all of their riblets showing through their coats because nobody fed them. I wish people would stop feeding me… Anyway, the new diets:

1) The Dexter diet: Every night, at dinner, I put on a new episode of Dexter. It’s terrifying, which makes my stomach turn into knots and then I can eat only a fraction of my regular dinner! It’s really effing brilliant.
2) The Invisalign diet: I put the whitening gel into my Invisalign trays and put them in my mouth for two hours a day. This will give me straight white teeth, in keeping with my grasping need to look like I’m 23. But the side bonus is that I can’t eat while I have them in. Like, it’s basically impossible. So I put them in right after school and leave them in until dinner. That prevents a ridiculous number of categories, since I spend most afternoons wandering around my kitchen opening and closing my mouth around anything I can find, like Ms. Pacman.

I figure with these two at my side, along with protein shakes that taste like nutsack, running as my only form of socialization (pub run, races, running club), and the dangling carrot of my honeymoon in Mexico, that I’m pretty much guaranteed to locate my abs during my 27th year. I mean, they’ve GOT to be in there somewhere, right?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go put on glitter eyeshadow and listen to Hannah Montana on my iPod. I dare you to challenge that. I’m allowed to say whatever absurd things I want. Because it’s my birthday.