Thursday, May 29, 2008

My office's kitchen boasts one of those space-station lookalike single serving coffee machines that create mediocre, nondescript, brown water fresh for you in less than a minute! Usually I avoid the Keurig machine like a a girl who sucks down triple shot Americanos and lusciously sludgy french press coffee with a gleam in her eye and a twitch in her leg, because, well, I am that girl. Other times, however, my credit card bill exceeds my monthly income and I start to contemplate different ways to save money. It is probably pretty bourgey of me that one of the first things that comes to mind when I try and tally up extraneous expenses in my lifestyle is espresso coffee drinks. I was pleased to see last week at Tully's (which was, as my grandmother likes to remind me, founded by a Greek here in Seattle) that they produce little coffee pods for the Keurig machine for a very reasonable price. Suspending disbelief for a moment, and hoping against hope that the sub-par quality of previous coffee made from this machine was due to the cheap pods and not the intrinsic abilites of an electronic thing that claims to be able to make tasty beverages from mysterious-plastic-pod-cups, I decided to give the Tully's brand pods a shot.

Verdict? Still totally gross. Sigh.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Happy 71st Birthday to the Golden Gate Bridge!!

In the third grade, this landmark and personal savior to me was the subject of my ever research project, and thusly here is a short list of the few things I remember from that project, which was written in double-spaced-erasable-ink-cursive on approximately 5 pages of white lined paper:

a. The official hue of the Golden Gate Bridge called "International Orange," a color used only for this bridge.
b. As a result of the natural wear and tear of the salt air and ubiquitous San Francisco fog, the Golden Gate Bridge is constantly being repainted. As soon as the painters get to one side, they must start over again.
c. Before the bridge was completed, people got from San Francisco to their weekend homes in Marin county by ferry boat.
And. . . that's about it. But I'm sure the paper I wrote was as well reasoned and riveting as an eight year old could muster.

In high school I drove the Golden Gate Bridge daily to get to school and extracurricular activities in the city, which is, in retrospect, kind of the most amazing commute ever. Past the Marin Headlands, over the bridge, and through Golden Gate Park to arrive at campus within eyesight of Ocean Beach is something that a person can't truly appreciate until they are completely beyond the snotty teenager phase. The Golden Gate Bridge is also the site of my very first car accident, occuring in the fall of 1999, the first day my mother entrusted with taking the blue Ford Aerostar to and from school on a Friday. About 1/3 of the way across the bridge I dropped a cassette tape on the floor, and leaned to pick it up, smacking cleanly into the grey Jetta in front of me. Luckily the Jetta emerged unscathed. The bumper of the poor Aerostar, however, was shattered and I was in tears for half the day.
The best thing thing of all about the bridge, hands down, is flying into San Francisco sometime around dusk on a clear evening, and seeing the orange spans against the grey ocean, sunlight glittering on the water. I miss home.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Two Springtime CakesMegan called me at 4pm yesterday inviting me to a six o'clock barbecue at Seth's house, giving me my choice of salads, drinks or desserts to bring and share. I thought about throwing together strawberry shortcake, but had used all the rest of my strawberries on Cheerios eaten on the sun dappled patio that morning. Pie was also briefly entertained, but would have required a trip to the grocery store. My pantry already had all the ingredients for this Velvet Spice Cake from The Joy of Cooking, even the cup of plain yogurt and cream cheese for the frosting. I recommend this recipe. It is very moist and fluffy, though I might double up on the spices next time. It was quite mild and with thick cream cheese frosting (my own improvised recipe) so mellow that you could barely discern hints of the cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

I decorated the cake with icing tips #67 for the ruffled leaves and #107 for the cranberry colored drop flowers. I brought the big cake to the barbecue with me, barely two hours later, and delivered the smaller bundt to my grandmother on the way home. I made one extra little bundt cake for my lunch today which was not frosted so prettily, but tasted delicious when I ate it out of tupperware just an hour ago.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I was already getting ready to write my post about how The Midnight Organ Fight is my favorite album of the first half of 2008 and a strong contender for the entire year before I did some clicking around on the internets and realized that the band is made up of Scottish brothers Scott and Grant. It is well documented that there are few things I love more than sibling bands. (A short list of the precious few things I hold above sibling bands are fresh lilacs, seasonal beer, cute flats and chocolate cake.)
After at least a year of admiring it in bookstores, Cody purchased the America's Test Kitchen Cookbook a few weeks ago. I think it illustrates some important differences in us that Cody's idea of the perfect cookbook is one that provides scientifically tested "best of breed" recipes, whereas I am mostly seeking the cookbook that has the recipes that taste just like the food my mother and grandmothers cook. Nevertheless, Cody's purchase inspired him to resolve to cook one new meal every week. He got off to a great start this week by cooking delicious dinners two nights in a row. Which leads me to. . .

Meals my boyfriend cooked for me this week:

1. Parmesan Encrusted Chicken Breasts - America's Test Kitchen Cookbook
This recipe required Cody to pound chicken breasts to 1/2 thick and coat them in flour, egg whites and thickly grated Parmesan cheese before pan frying them briefly and finishing the baking in the oven. The chicken turned out moist and tender, with a crunchy savory coating. The reheated extra breast I ate for lunch the next day was less crispy, but equally delicious. In the future, I would reheat the chicken in the oven rather than the microwave, if given the option.

2. Boeuf Bourgondien - The Joy of Cooking
Cody swore he saw a recipe with photos of this dish in the America's Test Kitchen cookbook, but when it came time to find the recipe to write up his shopping list, it was definitely not in there. I wonder if he dreamed of it. Sometimes I make up recipes in my dreams, like last week when I dreamt of creating a lasagna with lots of spinach and shredded chicken. Luckily, The Joy of Cooking had a detailed and delicious looking Beef Burgundy recipe. We ate this over egg noodles, which was perfect. We both agreed that the next time we make this recipe we will use way more carrots and other vegetables.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Sometimes My Coworkers are Magical People

Exhibit A: Toni Rose showed up to work wearing a pink shirt with a large red "A" on the chest. Toni explained by saying that her husband bought her the shirt and that the "A" stands for Andy. Toni claims to be fully cognizant of the existence of Hester Prynne and the associations her shirt might lead to, but I am suspicious. Toni suspects that Andy bought her the shirt to retaliate for the time when she bought him a pink button up shirt a while back, but the whole thing makes me pretty happy that my boyfriend is named Cody.

Exhibit B: I have a love-hate relationship with the canned music in the locker room at the gym. For the most part it is terrible, but at the same time I don't know where else I would ever hear LL Cool J and J Lo dueting on "All I Have," and sometimes I like to be reminded that that song actually happened. Today, in the locker room, I was getting changed and "Jungle Boogie" was being piped in over the speakers. As we are tying her shoes, Maren turns to me and says: "What is this song? It makes no sense. People don't dance in the jungle." And no, she was giving voice to a long-held (and perhaps just) contention with the lyrics of the song, girlfriend had literally never heard that song before. Maren is 23 years old, doesn't live under a rock, and I don't care what kind of music you seek out in your personal life, I absolutely do not understand how you can exist in the universe for that long without being subjected to all of the bigger hits in Kool & The Gang's catalogue. I mean, last summer, Kool & The Gang played in the street outside our office building for some stupid promotion or another! I bet they probably played "Jungle Boogie" three times. Maren should get an award or something.

Obviously, my team rules.