Category Archives: food

2009: A Year in Review

I had planned on breaking this into two separate posts, but time got away from me.  Here’s what I’ve been up to the last 12 months:

January

  • 30 days of 30
  • First ski/snowboard trip
  • Neil Clennon Reffett was born

February

FAIL

March

  • Work trip to San Francisco (two posts… here and here)

yep, that's a CRUISE ship on the right

April

Clennon and I post-race

May

The girls of Hewett 6 (minus Jo)

June

  • Ohio for Reds/Cubs game
  • Ryan Joseph Lingas was born
  • Started the Great Paint Project

Self-portrait attempt #2. This pic is horrible, but I LOVE it 'cuz it's so real!

July

  • Infamous Rural King incident
  • Cubs/Cardinals game
  • Stephanie’s bachelorette party
  • Hayden Michael Bates was born


August

After

Highlight of the trip: Getting up on waterskiis for the first time!

the entire bridal party!

September

  • 4th 5K
  • Surprise birthday tailgate

October

The bigger the hair, the closer to God

November

December

  • Kim’s surprise birthday party
  • Christmas with my dad’s side
  • Oak Ridge Boys concert
  • First Christmas with my new niece
  • CHRISTMAS BREAK!!!

Birthday girl doing shots

My 92 year old Grannie and my newborn GREAT niece

In addition, there were countless nights out, NUMEROUS trips to Chicago and plenty of downtime.  All in all it was a pretty good year.  I can’t wait to see what 2010 has in store for me.

Resolutions 2009: How’d I do?

Let’s see how well I stacked up on my New Years Resolutions, shall we?   (if you’re really bored, you can find the  original post here… and “check up” post here.)

Resolutions 2009 were as follows:

Be 100% smoke free– SUCCESS!

I can say with 100% certainty that I do not smoke. I don’t even know the last time I wanted to smoke.  My lungs are happy.

Avoid fast food– FAIL

It seems that I succumb to fast food more than ever these days. In fact, on my last trip to Chicago, I ate it for lunch AND dinner.  Big fat FAIL (with emphasis on the “fat.”)

Finish more books– FAIL

One would think that being surrounded by books, being a member of a book club, and being a self-proclaimed “book nerd” would mean I would actually read every once in a while.  But I haven’t.  At least not enough.   The last book I finished was a 250 page YA novel. Go me!

Learn to write fiction– FAIL

They say the best way to learn to write is to write…. And even though I took a fiction writing class, I haven’t “practiced” much since then. And I haven’t really felt the desire to get back into it.  Maybe over the winter (?)

Watch more movies– FAIL

I gave up my Netflix subscription and can count on one hand the number of movies I saw in the theater this year.  It’s sad, really, when you can’t even accomplish your “fun” resolutions.

Be more honest– SUCCESS!

I marked this off the list months ago.  Kind of a lame resolution anyway.

Learn to appreciate poetry– FAIL

I’ve tried… really.  And I like to make up birthday poems for my friends.  But it’s really not the same.

Get back to a fighting weight– SUCCESS!

Although I’d still like to lose 20-25 lbs, I’m at *roughly* my “low” weight from a couple of years ago.  And I’ve recently started buying a smaller size (thanks to my friends who told me my “tight” jeans really weren’t that tight!);

Get control of debt– QUESTIONABLE

I’d say I’m in control of my debt… but I’m not out of debt, and I certainly am not where I want to be.  This will be a carry-over resolution next year.

Be more responsible– QUESTIONABLE

I think I’ve been a bit more responsible this year… but I still dont’ really feel like an adult, even though I’m 30.  I wonder when you start feeling grown-up– is it when you have kids?? 

So, there you have it:  my resolution recap for 2009.  Look for a 2010 resolution post sometime before February!!

Philadelphia Fun

I was in Philly last week/weekend for work.   As always, it was a lot of WORK… but I managed to squeeze in some fun.  

Some things on my to-do list:

1. Run the “Rocky” steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art–check!

I ran the mile and a half from my hotel to the steps… and then ALL the way to the top… it was quite a feat.   I even had the Rocky theme song playing as I ran up the steps.   A nice man who was in town for the English teacher convention (i.e. OUR convention) took this picture.   It’s a little embarrassing, but I was sooooo happy to have “proof.”

Afterwards, I tried running back to my hotel… and got lost (shocker!).   I probably got an extra 2 miles of running in + an extra 3 or 4 walking.   Navigational FAIL!

2.  See the Liberty Bell–check!

Through glass.  At night.  It wasn’t that impressive.   But I got one viable photo:

3.  Sample an authentic Philly cheesesteak– check!

You’ve probably heard of the famous rivalry between Genos and Pat’s– two steak stands in South Philly who vie for the title of “best” cheesesteak.    After our work was done, a colleague and I took a cab to sample the goods.  She got a *very* plain sandwich–steak and provolone only–from Genos and I got a pepper steak “with” + Whiz from Pat’s (that’s cheesesteak lingo for a cheesesteak with peppers and onions and, yes, Cheese Whiz).     Mine was better.  Not only did mine have the delicious goodness of the peppers, onions, and cheese whiz, the meat and bread of mine was tastier.  Pat’s wins… hands down.

Geno's on the left, Pat's on the right

 4.  Participate in the Philadelphia Marathon– FAIL (sorta!)

I had originally planned on running the 8K as part of the Philly marathon, but it sold out too quickly.  Then I thought about going down and spectating the beginning of the race.  But it was entirely too crazy down there.    I did, however, “crash” the marathon expo… and bought a couple of  shirts (one of which I’m wearing in my Rocky picture… it says “Will Run for Beer,” but you really can’t read it). Spending money counts as supporting the running community, right?  :)

entrance to the Philly Marathon expo--literally steps from our own exhibit hall entrance!

I also shared many dinners, laughs, drinks, and good times with my work buddies.   Putting on these shows is kinda like camp– you bond instantly with your co-workers.  Except it’s really hard work and we’re all tired and cranky.  But at the end of the day, it’s nice to have a good group of people to commiserate with!

 

What I learned on my first post-iPhone run

  • Ignorance is Bliss
    I downloaded a running ap* for my phone to keep track of time, distance, pace, etc.  I thought I needed it so I can work on my pacing.  Turns out I was checking it every 2.3 seconds and, therefore, never got into the “zone.”  It was kinda like my first 5K where I felt like I used up too much mental energy to enjoy it.
  • Knowledge is Power
    However, the ap confirmed what I already knew:  my pace is all over the place (rhyme time!).  I was running anywhere from 8:30 min/mile to almost 15.  Yes, almost 15… I can walk that (and did last night).   Maybe periodic pace checks are more reasonable.

  • Armband is necessary
    Definitely going to need to invest in an armband if I decide to continue running with my phone.  Tonight I carried my phone in my hand and had my iPod on my hip (as usual… classy, I know!).    Although my pink iPod and my pink iPhone were color coordinated, it wasn’t comfortable to run with the phone in my hand.  And I kept turning on and off the “map” function.  Plus, maybe having it on my arm will keep me from peaking too much.

  • There’s no such thing as an “easy” run when you have a belly full of junk
    I usually run in the mornings on an empty stomach.  Today, I chose to sleep in and I ran after work.  It has been perfect weather here and I only had a 2 miler on the schedule, so I was excited for a nice, relaxing run.  Unfortunately, I filled up on junk all day today and I could feel it while I was running.   Must.Eat.Healthier.   Maybe if I tell myself that losing 10 lbs will help my running, I’ll actually do it.  We’ll see.

All in all it was a pretty crappy run, but I get to put a check in the “done” column… plus, I got a blog post* out of it!

———–

* for you runners/walkers/iphone junkies out there– i’m looking for ap recommendations!

**anyone notice that as soon as I said I was “over” blogging, I started posting more often.  figures.

Long Time, No Blog: Bonus Features

Lisa was kind enough to post some photos of our Minneapolis trip, so I’ve decided to do like they do with DVDs and offer some “never before seen” bonus features:

Ate some killer Malaysian food in MPLS.  Heard a great (albeit very broken) story about a fire in a Malaysian place in Chicago.

Drinking a pomegranate concoction at the Malaysian place; Lisa got a Woo-Woo

Drinking a pomegranate concoction at the Malaysian place. Lisa got a Woo-Woo

Witnessed and responded to an on-the-job accident. Not real common in my line of work.

Sign warning us that such accidents may occur.  Taken well after said accident

Sign warning us that such accidents may occur. Taken well after said accident

Took a photo next to a statue of Mary Tyler Moore.

She turns the world on with her smile

She turns the world on with her smile--post tipsy shopping and wine-fueled dinner.

Met (and held!) another newborn baby

Me holding Rush

Me holding Rush

Attended a baby shower and graduation party.

Check out the cute little flip-flops I got him...

Check out the cute little flip-flops I got for Rush...

Lisa and I at the graduation party

Lisa and I at the graduation party

I wish I had taken pix of the teacher freebie pandemonium and the Mexican wrestling.  However, some things are better left to the imagination.  A couple more points:

  • The cucumber-flavored candy was unintentional.  It was green, so I assumed it would be sour apple, or (at the worst) lime.  It was only after the candy had been POURED into my mouth that I realized it was cucumber-flavored. I’d love to have a reaction shot of my face when I tasted it.
  • The nickname story will have to be shared privately.  Mostly because I really, really, really do not want it to stick!

Long time, no blog

I know the “too busy to blog” excuse is getting lame.  But it’s true.  I was hoping to write some proper blog posts, but since some of you like lists (shout out to Harley Quinn– I loved your last comment!), I figured I’d save myself the trouble of actually having to write anything.

In the last week and a half or so I:

  • Witnessed masked Mexican wrestling in Chicago.  It was awesome.
  • Tasted cucumber-flavored candy.  It was awful.
  • Learned that you really can’t just miss your connecting flight or your entire ticket is invalidated.
  • Re-booked my ticket.  Twice.
  • Got hit on by a Greek waiter in Chicago and a Mexican bar patron in Minneapolis.
  • Spent entirely too much time on Sporcle.  Finally learned the correct spelling of Kazakhstan.  It comes in handy.
  • Ate some killer Malaysian food in MPLS.  Heard a great (albeit very broken) story about a fire in a Malaysian place in Chicago.
  • Witnessed and responded to an on-the-job accident. Not real common in my line of work.
  • Learned I like tamales.
  • Congratulated a friend on her recent engagement. Yay Keem!
  • Almost forgot, and then lost, and then found my journal/notebook.
  • Saw Star Trek. Loved it, despite zero familiarity with the original.  Reminded me a lot of Star Wars, actually.  And Lost.
  • Met (and held!) another newborn baby.
  • Picked up a new nickname (which I’m trying HARD to not let stick).
  • Ran my second 5K, less than a month after my first, with no iPod. After being gone for a week and out drinking the night before.
  • Mowed my lawn immediately after the 5K.  Bad idea.
  • Learned that I was selected to be a Nielsen “family.”  I can’t wait to report my 2.5 hours of TV watching a week.
  • Improved my ability to ride public transportation.
  • Received a comped dessert because dinner took so long.  Waited about 20 mins for said dessert.
  • Had multiple weird conversations about weight loss.  Including one that started with “I hope you’re not offended, but…”  Um, no, not offended!
  • Took a photo next to a statue of Mary Tyler Moore.
  • Met a friend’s new boyf.
  • Spent Mother’s Day with my mom, brother, and sister-in-law. Against our advice, my mom insisted on having it at her house and making all the food.
  • Ran in Chicago.  Gave unsuspecting motorist directional advice.  Felt really bad afterward.
  • Attended a baby shower and graduation party.
  • Received invitations to two other baby showers.
  • Witnessed teachers literally FIGHTING over free books.
  • Engaged in some tipsy shopping.  Bought books and a belt between happy hour and an awesome wine-fueled dinner.

Things I haven’t done

  • unpacked
  • watched last week’s Lost
  • slept, at least not much

Of Rice and Men

You know how facebook’s new prompt is “What’s on your mind?”  Well, this is what mine would say if I answered that question correctly (and repeatedly)

  • It’s Friday night. I’m hanging out at home.  I’m okay with that.  I can handle solitude in small doses.
  • I paid $75 this week to get my oil changed and a new tail light.  Then they told me I needed new brakes and a bunch of other stuff.  I hate car repairs.  I don’t have a car payment, so I can’t complain.  But, seriously!
  • I’ve apparently forgotten how to make rice.  It’s been cooking for probably an hour and I’ve had to add water twice.  Grrr..
  • I had a great run tonight. I think it’s the new shoes.
  • I have a super busy weekend planned.  Hence the staying home on a Friday night.
  • We started a “Biggest Loser” thing this week in preparation for Steph’s wedding.   I think it will be fun. I’m taking “before” and “after” pictures, but I can’t post them until it’s all over.
  • My co-worker just had her babies.  Yes, that’s right– twins.  And she has a one-year old at home.  Congrats!
  • I need to write a couple stories for my class. I have some ideas, but I can’t bring myself to write them yet.  Thus, the blogging.
  • I’m dog sitting for the night and I just discovered Roxie has this crazy “patch” of skin/fur that needs to be checked out.  Yet another appointment I’ll forget to make.
  • I really need a personal assistant.  Or maybe just someone to pay my bills.  I’m also putting that off.
  • Kansas’ Carry On My Wayward Son makes zero sense.  But it’s so damn catchy.
  • Kansas is my least favorite state to drive through.  On one trip out West, my parents drove through Kansas in the middle of the night to spare us the boredom.  I woke up in the middle of the state thinking there was a rain storm.  There wasn’t. It was bugs.  Splattering on the windshield enough to make me wake up and think it was rain.  Gross.   My apologies to any  Kansasians (?) who might read this…
  • The shuffle on my iPod is apparently not working ‘cuz Kansas is now on again.  Annoying.  Must change it.
  • Got up to change the song on the iPod and realized the rice was burning. Smoke alarm went off. Hilarity ensued. 
  • Foo Fighters now on iPod.  Best of You. I can’t hear this song without thinking about Breaking Bonaduce when his wife gave him a mirror with the lyrics on it. “I needed somewhere to hang my head/without your noose.”  Yeah, totally not a love song.  I think they’re now divorced.
  • I think the burnt rice ruined my “good” stock pot.  Ugh.
  • This is my new favorite quote:  “I don’t feel middle-aged — I just feel like I’ve been young a lot longer than most people. “
    Not that I am middle aged, but the second half really resonated with me.   It came from this really great article on drinking.

I think I’ll end on that note.  ‘Night.

Frisco Stories, Part 2

I guess I should’ve mentioned in my earlier post that this is my 3rd trip to San Francisco.  I’ve already done many of the touristy things (Golden Gate Bridge, trolley car, wine country), so you won’t see any of that this time.  But San Fran is one of my favorite cities and every time I go back, I’m able to experience a little more of it!

Thursday — Thai, Tapas, and Theater

First official day of work.   A couple minor snafus, but everything went off without a hitch.  

The wonderful thing about San Francisco is that there was an Indian buffet across the street from our hotel.  And a Thai place across another.   Since I actually ate a buffet breakfast on Thursday (totally out of character), I went to the Thai place  Thursday.  My lunch was tasty.  I could’ve used more vegetables, but usual Convention fare consists of cardboard pizza and dry sandwiches, so I’m not gonna complain!

I think it was called broccoli and noodles

I think it was called broccoli and noodles

After work, we decided to go to the Thirsty Bear for dinner.  It’s a tapas place Kurt and I had been to four years ago and it was (relatively) close by.   We had tickets to see Wicked that night, so we didn’t want to repeat the “where the hell is the restaurant” debacle of the night before.

The Thirsty Bear is also a brewery, so I decided to choose the beer sampler.   Yes, folks, that’s right– NINE different beers (they were only 4 or 5 oz each… but STILL!).  It came with a cool “legend” underneath each beer to indicate what you were drinking.

mmm... beer!

BEFORE: mmm... beer!

And... after (I wanted you to be able to see the legend)

AFTER: Note the legend is now visible

As expected, my favorites were the IPA and the wheat beer.  I wasn’t so keen on the stouts, but I tried them.  I also learned that E.S.B. really does stand for Extra Special Bitters.  I didn’t believe Andrew when he told me that.

Tapas were phenomenal.  

cheese and olives-- this is for you, Lisa!

cheese and olives-- this is for you, Lisa!

YUMMY asparagus, another poultry and polenta dish and shrimp

YUMMY asparagus, another poultry and polenta dish and a tasty sauteed shrimp

Unfortunately, we were a little rushed for time and Kurt and I had to ditch out on Andrew to make it in time for the show.  Getting there was quite an adventure.  We couldn’t hail a cab to save our lives and we were practically race-walking to make it to the theater in time.  At one point, I thought I’d be better off running.   We finally got a cab that took us ~ 4 blocks, but we made it to the show in time.

Wicked was playing at the Orpheum Theater, which was just beautiful.  It’s a very old, very ornate theater.  We got there right on time and I didn’t have a chance to snap any external pics, and they didn’t allow photos of the show, but it was AMAZING.   

I couldn’t get over how big everything was– the sets were amazing, the costumes were gorgeous, the actors were amazing (Carol Kane played Madame Morrible).   Some of the songs were a little cheesy, but I was just so000 impressed by the whole production.  I’ve never been to a Broadway show or anything like that, so I’m not sure what I expected.  But this topped it all!   A couple highlights:

  • Galinda teaching Elphaba the “toss-toss” method of flipping one’s hair to flirt with a guy.  Uh… I know someone like that :) 
  • Fiyero describing himself as “deeply shallow.”   Classic
  • The curtain call.  For some reason, I *always* get a little veclempt during the curtain call.  I’m weird.

Friday– Run on, Retirement, and G. Love

Usually, about the 2nd or 3rd day of a trade show, you start to get bored.  I spotted a guy wearing a “run on”  tshirt and texted my friend about it, since he used to have a running “team” called the Run-ons.  (English teachers are really quite witty.  Really!)

When the guy wearing the shirt came into our booth, I just  had  to snap a picture:

the back said: 'unless you're a sentence'

the back said: 'unless you're a sentence'

Instead of going out for a fancy dinner on Friday night, we celebrated our colleagues, Pat’s, last convention with a pizza party in a SWEET hotel suite. Check out this view:

yep, that's a CRUISE ship on the right

The Bay. Yep, that's a CRUISE ship on the right

Skyline

Skyline

Then it was off to the G.Love and Special Sauce concert at The Warfield.   G. Love and the boys did not disappoint.  We had general admission tickets and were able to get fairly close.  I LOVED the venue.  Totally cool and “intimate.”    Definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me.   I’m not sure if Andrew and Kurt enjoyed it as much as I did, but I had a rockin’ good time.  Crazy hippie dancing and all :)

Hallway at the Warfield-- lots of cool acts have played there

Hallway at the Warfield-- lots of cool acts have played there

My baby's got sauce...

Check out the dude with the cast!

Harmonicas are sexxy

Harmonicas are sexxy

So are guitars!

So are guitars!

Saturday–  Last day, Haight-Ashbury, and Supper

As you can imagine,  Saturday was a bit of a long day for me.  Even though we had a short day in terms of hours, it was looong in terms of how I felt.  But I made it through.  And then crashed.  I took a 3 hour nap that afternoon. I probably should’ve gone out and “done” more of San Fransisco, but I just didn’t have it in me.

Andrew was visiting with friends, so Kurt and I decided to head to the Haight for dinner.  We went to Magnolia, a gastro pub Lisa read about in a magazine.   There was a wait, so we decided to walk around a bit.   Believe it or not, I had *never* been to Haight-Ashbury before.   Yeah, it’s touristy, but I had to take a pic.

lets all do a little hippie dance

lets all do a little hippie dance

The food and beer were both good at Magnolia.   The service was a little slow, though, or else I probably would’ve had a couple more beers.   All in all, a great way to end our adventure in San Fran!

meat and cheese platter

meat and cheese platter

Kurt had the pork chop

Kurt had the pork chop

And I had the house ravioli

And I had the house ravioli

Sunday-Tuesday:  Recovering in Chicago

Instead of coming home to Champaign on Sunday, I spent a couple days recovering in Chicago.  I was waayyy too tired to do much, but we did spend St. Patty’s day in Millennium Park.   We had super great weather and it was the perfect way to spend my last day in the “real world.”  Again, I didn’t take any pictures.  I need to get better at that.

————–

Things I didn’t do

Although I’m pretty impressed with all the things we were able to do in such a short time (especially considering I had to actually work for most of it), there are a few things I missed:

  • Warhol Live at the  de Young Museum  — Andy Warhol and Rock music together.  I really wanted to see it, but the timing just didn’t work out.
  • 826 Valencia (aka The Pirate Store)– Jane told us about Dave Eggers’ literacy project that features a “pirate store.”   I never made it down there, but Kurt went and brought me back a souvenir skull.  That’s gotta count for something!
  • Alcatraz– I’ve never had time to take the tour, but I hear it’s phenomenal.   One of these days, I will go! For reals.
  • SF MOMA Museum store– I made the mistake on my first trip to SF to actually tour the MOMA on the last day of Convention. It was complete sensory overload and too much at the end of a long day.  But I at least wanted to make it to the museum store ‘cuz it’s super cool.
  • Take any pictures of myself in San Francisco.  Seriously, what is wrong with me?  I have tons of food pics but none of me!  I really must get better at this!

San Francisco Stories, Part 1

It’s been a week since I left San Fransisco and I’m just now getting around to posting the pics/blog.   Thankfully, I have Twitter to remind me what I did!    I’ll split it into two posts to make it more readable.  Without further adieu…

Tuesday– Travel and Twin Spotting

We made it to San Fran without any problems.  Checked into the hotel, had a late lunch, and walked around a bit.  We saw a street performer with a pet rat and a pet cat but, alas, no photos exist.  It’s too bad, really, ‘cuz it was quite the sight.

We were able to get a (pretty crappy) photo of the Brown Twins, though. They’re living San Francisco landmarks– twin sisters who dress alike and frequent Nob Hill eateries.   We didn’t even know about them until later, but I was able to snap this (bad) picture of them. On this day, they were dressed in leopard-print jackets and cowboy hats.  Pimp!

100_2236

Wednesday– Set up (Sorta), Eye-Talian, and Tiki

The first day of work was a logistical nightmare.   Due to union restrictions,  we ended up watching other people do the work until about 5:00 then we unpacked our booth.  I’m a strong supporter of unions, but even my resolve was tested.  In the end, it worked out fine, but it sure was frustrating!    

The end result of 8 hours of union labor and 1.5 hours of ours!

The end result of 8 hours of union labor and an hour and a half of ours!

We then set out for dinner.  As you may recall, dinners out are the highlight of my work trips and Kurt had heard of this Italian place called Cafe Tiramisu.  It was 8 short blocks from the hotel, which was a welcome change from sitting on my a$$ all day.  Unfortunately, we got a little lost and the 8 blocks ended up being much longer– and often uphill.  

Once we made it to the restaurant, it was worth it.  The waiter called us kids, there were hilarious misspellings on the menu (which became somewhat of a theme–see below) and the food was pretty good.  I got the quail, which was good, but reminded me how much I hate to eat meat off of bones:

100_2239

Good. But lots of bones.

The highlight of the evening, however, was the dessert.  We ordered the sampler for 3 and it didn’t disappoint– various types of gelato, sorbet, cakes, cannolis, biscotti, tiramisu (natch),  profiteroles, etc.   Even though it was billed as enough for 3 people, it was waaaayyy too much.  Apparently, they also had a pasta sampler, but we didn’t try it:

mmm...dessert!

mmm...dessert!

After dinner, we met a former co-worker, Jane (of Not So Plain Jane fame) out for drinks.  She took us to the Tonga Room, which was absolutely AWESOME!   It’s a Tiki-themed bar in the oh-so-fancy Fairmont hotel.  The drinks are strong, the dancing is hoppin’ and it made for a great people-watching experience. (Read Jane’s description here.) 

There was a couple making out on the dance floor, a guy in a white shirt with zero inhibitions and everyone was having a good time.  My only regret is that I didn’t get up and dance.  Andrew offered me free drinks for the rest of the trip, and I didn’t take it.   The Tonga Room is apparently closing soon, so I’m glad we got a chance to experience it.   

A few pics (a la Lisa):

My drink.  Can't remember the name. Tasted like a rum runner.

My drink. Can't remember the name. Tasted like a rum runner.

Kurt loooves his pirate drink (again, can't remember the name!)

Kurt loooves his drink, The Scorpion :)

Andrew's Mai Thai came in a super awesome plastic coconut

Andrew's Mai Thai came in a super awesome plastic coconut

And an umbrella!!

With an umbrella!!

For some dumb reason, I didn’t take any pictures of Jane, who was an awesome tour guide.  It was so much fun to get an “inside look” at San Francisco.  I’m so bummed we didn’t get to hang longer, but the Tonga Room was definitely one of the highlights of a super fun trip.  Thanks, Jane!!

——————————

Funny Menus

One of the recurring themes of this trip (in addition to “you did a GREAT job” and hiding my phone–very funny, boys!), was the number of funny things we read on menus.

At Cafe Tiramisu, they had HORRIBLE misspellings.   Chocoloate for chocolate, Yourgurt for yogurt, etc.   They also had a disclaimer at the bottom that said something like: ” We are not responsible for lost or stolen items.”  Which we thought was odd.

There was a disclaimer on another menu that essentially said:  “Kids are welcome.  Unless they are crying.  Then you need to remove them.”   We thought that was awesome!

TO BE CONTINUED . . . 

Soba-licious

I know what you’re thinking– this isn’t a cooking blog.   And you’re right.  It’s not.  And I’m no expert chef, either.  But I love soba noodles.  And I feel the need to share this love with the world!

 Soba is just another term for buckwheat.  So, it’s just buckwheat pasta, about the same size as regular spaghetti.  Soba can be served hot or cold and are usually used in salads and soups, but I like it in stir-fry.

I’m not sure how good these noodles would be with traditional red or white sauce and they’re probably too “weird” for picky kid eaters, but they’re super easy to make and are ready in no time, so give ‘em a try!

The color and texture take a little getting used to.  The noodles are a weird brown/almost black color and are kinda grainy, but if you eat whole wheat pasta, you’re probably already used to the texture.   The taste isn’t over-powering, but it’s a little nuttier/earthier than traditional noodles.  It has more depth and the noodles are good at soaking up other flavors, which is probably why they’re often used in soups.

One package of noodles is enough to make a week’s worth of stir-fry for me.  They’re ready in about 6-8 minutes.  While they’re boiling, I just sautee some garlic and onions in a big pan or wok, add whatever veggies I have on hand (this time it was red and green peppers and broccoli), add the noodles and some soy sauce (or teriyaki–whatever you like)  and voila–lunch/dinner for a week. 

Here’s what the package looks like.  You can get them at Strawberry Fields in Urbana and I’m sure any “health” store or Whole Foods carries them.  I haven’t seen them at County Market or Schnuck’s, but I might have looked in the wrong place!

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And a shot of me reheating the noodles in my wok. I didn’t think to take pictures when I *made* the stir fry earlier this week. (This is probably 1/4 of the total amount I made!)

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And the finished product!!
(I would usually use a bowl, but I thought the plate was a prettier presentation–anything for the blog. lol)

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Some fun soba facts :

  • Soba noodles are a traditional New Year’s Eve dish in Japan
  • Instead of bringing bread or baked goods over, Japanese families bring soba noodles as housewarming gifts

Also, anyone have a recipe for an easy, but “nice” dessert I can serve with Italian food?  All I can think of is tiramisu and I don’t really like it that much.  Plus, it’s kind of a pain.  

Suggestions?