Throwing rocks at pigeons

Neither Chris nor I have a green thumb. The only plant we’ve not killed is the “dad plant,” which is a holdover from my dad’s funeral, and has remained alive on a diet of beer and darkness for the last 7 years. It’s a money tree. Are they particularly hardy? I don’t know. I’m choosing to believe it’s a miracle. The cats need to stop chewing the leaves of my miracle, or I’ll send them to the glue factory.

Recently, we started our outdoor garden. I have beets, kale, spinach, onions, and carrots. None of them have sprouted. I planted them almost a month ago, after spending a ton on planting soil and having Chris build very attractive planting beds. If it weren’t for grocery stores, I’d starve to death. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Maybe I should learn to hunt, so I don’t have to rely on my own agricultural talents to get me through a post-apocalyptic world. Or maybe I’ll just buy a shitload of canned beans to keep in the basement.
Our backyard is small and full of ingrown spots and pockmarks. It’s the teenage boy of lawns. It’s not our fault, either. The owners before us had two large dogs, and they ate parts of the fence and left dead spots. Darn cute dogs, though. And pets are usually worth the havoc they wreak. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS!
Chris decided to help remedy the situation by spreading more of that gorgeous planting soil in an even layer over the lawn, filling in any of the divots and leaving a light blanket of nutrients and moisture for the old grass to grow through. He also put down a fresh layer of some fancy grass seed to fill any of the sparse areas. We wanted to have a really nice lawn for our own personal dog to destroy at his leisure.
After all of his hard work, he, too, was missing any sprouting action. We were perplexed, until we looked out one morning and saw a herd of pigeons marauding around the yard, feasting on grass seed. Chris was furious. I was laughing my ass off. He said, “it’s not like they’re robins or doves or anything nice, either!” Nope. They’re pigeons. And I’m going to assume that they ate my vegetables, too, because it’s easier than admitting to myself that I’ve got some kind of botanical voodoo curse that was placed on me at birth.
I let the dog out to chase them away, although our dog lacks the gumption to do any kind of chasing whatsoever. My mother-in-law insists that he’d eat the rash of baby rabbits in her neighborhood. I’ve tried to explain that the baby rabbits are more likely to eat him than vice versa, but she seems immovable on the subject. He’s a golden retriever. The cat steals his food and then vomits it in his bed, and he won’t do jack or squat about it. His effort against the pigeons seemed to be the animal equivalent of stepping outside, clearing his puppy throat, and saying (quietly), “ahem…erm…bird friends? That’s my dad’s grass seed and I was hoping…well, he was hoping…ah, that you’d, well, ummm….webothhopeyouenjoyit!” and then running inside and hiding in his bed with his Wubba.

Of course, neither Chris nor I are willing to take any kind of action against nature. We’re always just kind of amused when animals take revenge on the people who have stolen their land and polluted it with barbecue grills and brightly colored plastic jungle gyms. Go groundhogs! Get on with your bad selves!

We won’t be killing two birds with one stone outside.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t do it inside!

I discovered once, by accident, that you can make a single dough and then ration it out for various purposes. You don’t have to make a single loaf of bread because that’s the kind of dough you made. Nope. You can take half and make a loaf of bread, and then take half and make fried dough balls like I did two thanksgivings ago. Or, if you’re a sugar whore like myself, you can do what I did the other night using this recipe that I adapted from King Arthur Flour:

Ingredient list A:

2.5 t active dry yeast

1 C lukewarm water

3 C AP flour

1.25 t kosher salt

3 T sugar

6 T unsalted butter, at room temperature

.25 C nonfat dry milk

.5 C instant mashed potato flakes (I know, the shame! I only use them for baking)

Ingredient list B:

.25 C brown sugar

2 T softened butter

.25 C chocolate chips or wafers (I used guittard semi-sweet wafers)

Put all of ingredient list A into a breadmaker, in the listed order. Set the maker to “basic dough” setting or whatever the equivalent is on your breadmaker.

Allow it to rise, then divide it into two even pieces.

Get out two 9″ cake rounds and butter the bottoms or line them with parchment

With the first piece, divide it into 8 equal balls, rolling them to make them smooth, then place (not touching one another) in the cake pan. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place.

With the second piece, roll it into a thin rectangle. Smear it with a thin layer of softened butter. Dust it with brown sugar, cinnamon, and chocolate chips as shown.

Roll it into a log, cut it into 8 pieces (like a cinnamon roll), and place in the cake round, not touching one another, like you did with the original section. Cover and put in a warm place to rise.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

When the rolls in each pan have risen enough to touch each other (they should be fairly puffy), uncover them and put them in the hot oven. Bake until golden brown on top
Brush the plain rolls with butter and sprinkle with sea salt. Drizzle some basic powdered sugar icing on the sweet ones.

What you now have are two fabulous breads out of one stupidly simple dough. Your plain rolls are soft, white rolls that work fabulously for sandwiches, sliders, or just eating out of hand. We rocked some homemade sloppy joe and sweet and sour slaw with ours
Your sweet rolls are like a chocolate chip cookie and a cinnamon roll had a baby. And their baby was given up for adoption, and now you’re going to eat it for dessert.

Plus, this keeps you from having an ENTIRE BATCH of cinnamon rolls to mow through like a big fat fatass. So that’s good, right?

If you have leftovers, feel free to put them in your yard. Pigeons are known to have a fondness for freshly baked pastries with their grass seed, and we’re doing all we can to be welcoming to the little beasts.

An Open Letter to Argo Tea

Dear powers that be at Argo Tea,

I’ve been on pleasure trips to Chicago twice now, and both times I’ve been to Argo Tea (Lincoln Park location) every day of my visit. Sometimes up to three times per day. I’m not ashamed. We visited some of the best restaurants in Chicago, like Topolobampo and Alinea. But those restaurants were almost eclipsed by the comfort, deliciousness, and joy I experienced at Argo.
You see, I hate coffee. I hate the flavor, I hate the smell of coffee breath. So the fact that coffee shops litter every corner of the known universe is both a bane to my existence, as well as a sign that I’ve irritated God or some kind of karmic committee on Bad Behavior. Does cocaine make your breath smell for 12 hours at a time? Because if not, I’d like to suggest it as an alternative to adult coffee drinkers everywhere. Everyone knows that half of the punishment of a scolding by a parent or boss is having to smell their rank, tannic oral odor for the duration of the scolding. Gross. I’m 29 years old now, and I still live in perpetual fear of a coffee drinker trying to engage in meaningful discourse with me at close range.
Another, better-for-society option for alertness and warmth is tea. But the tea shops in Colorado are underwhelming. They can be grand for having a good ol’ fashioned English tea, but that’s not always what I’m in the mood for. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on loose leaf teas and a zojirushi water boiler and various mugs and steepers. Those are all functional. But sometimes, nay most times, I’d rather be able to just walk into a drinking establishment that is dedicated to making my tea drinking experience varied, flavorful, and exciting. That’s where you come in.
Or where you don’t come in. Because you’re STILL not in Colorado. I see that you’ve expanded to St. Louis and New York, but still not Colorado. Really? St. Louis?? What do they have that we don’t? Colorado is CHOCK FULL of hippies who love “healthy” convenience foods. We’re the birthplace of Chipotle, for God’s sake. Surely you can find it in your hearts to put an Argo or two in our gorgeous state. Here’s what we have to offer:
–At least 300 days of sunshine every year
–But even when it’s sunny, it’s cool enough to enjoy a warm, tasty beverage!
–Stunning mountain vistas, even from the city
–A light rail to take potential tea drinkers from the suburbs into the city
–Resort-style shopping areas packed with hippies, yuppies, and yippies who have money to blow on things like warm, tasty beverages
–The 13th wealthiest state in the union, meaning (see above reason)
–Teavana stores report doing quite well in the state, but offer a different type of service from Argo
–The thinnest state in the union, meaning we care about health. And tea is good for health. Right?
–The whole state is dog friendly, so feel free to leave your signature water bowl outside for pups to accompany their owners
–Almost 30 colleges and institutes of higher learning
See? We NEED you.
I need you. When I was pregnant (I now have an 8 month old), I craved nilgiri bubble tea for the entire 10 months of my pregnancy. It was my only craving. I dragged my round, pregnant ass into some seriously questionable establishments in search of nata de coco to try and recreate your bubble tea. Do you know how hard that is to find, even in Asian grocery stores? Do you know how unusual it is to see an almost 6-foot tall, blonde girl with a pregnant belly searching frantically for an obscure ingredient in an Asian market? And when I did find it, it was flavored with BANANA. Can you imagine how Godawful that tasted with nilgiri tea? Seriously. Terrible, terrible stuff.
And when I’m sick, the only thing that is capable of helping my illness is either percocet or Carolina Honey Tea. Sure, I have the bottled honey tea you sell, but it’s not as good as the fresh lemon and honey I got in the brick and mortar Argo. And finding a doctor willing to prescribe percocet simply because I’m tired of coughing and feeling congested is much more difficult now that Michael Jackson and Heath Ledger are dead. Obviously, fresh, Argo-made Carolina Honey Tea is the only cure. Or maybe cowbell. But I digress.
I’ve even scouted some prime locations for your store: Boulder (honestly, it’s like the hippie/foodie capitol of the world) and/or Park Meadows mall. It has a Lululemon, which seems like a natural bedfellow for Argo Tea. Plus, it’s always packed with people who have too much disposable income. And it’s close to my house, which is the main benefit. I’m fairly certain I could support 2/3 of the necessary income to keep a single store afloat BY MYSELF.
So please, please, before you gift St Louis or any other bizarro location with your presence, please consider sending a store to Colorado. Or, at the very least, help me figure out how to make honey tea and nilgiri bubble tea at my house. And no, I’m not going to be able to find any nata de coco without your help. It’s like the unicorn of food.
Sincerely and lovingly yours,
Kristie “The Spiteful Chef”

Conspiracy Theories

Osama bin Laden is dead. Or is he? According to the world wide web, this may all be an elaborate hoax played by President Obama in order to shift attention from his birth certificate. Or possibly to get him reelected. Or possibly Osama is STILL ALIVE, and we’re just lying about his death because the White House was bored on Sunday afternoon and had a few too many margaritas. Maybe Osama was actually kidnapped by aliens from another planet, and they’re holding him hostage until we release the long form of ingredients in Velveeta cheeze, which is the only substance with the long-term hold required to fix their spaceship. Who knows??

The beauty of times like this is that it’s OKAY TO SPECULATE! It’s okay to fuel wild rumors about what may have happened, and to throw accusations at the POTA, despite NOT KNOWING JACK OR SHIT ABOUT MILITARY OPS! You are an AMERICAN, dammit! And if you want to make things up to whip your peers into a frenzy, well, that’s more than okay. It’s encouraged!
So, in honor of the vast outpouring of conspiracy theories and lunatic accusations, I will be hosting a giveaway.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create a tinfoil hat. The twist is that your hat has to double as food storage or a serving piece. And you have to submit pictures of someone (could be you, your child, your dog, etc) wearing the hat, and then of your hat being used to serve/store food as designed.