Thursday, August 20, 2009

Crush de Cuisine

Oh, I've had my share of celebrity crushes.

Jason Bateman (starting in the years of Silver Spoons and It's Your Move)

Ralph Macchio (who wouldn't love a man who would fight for your honor and sand your parents' deck?)

NKOTB (collectively with more specific attention to Jordan and Joey and less to Danny--sorry Kerrilee)

John Travolta (way before Oprah started drooling over him)

Colin Firth (as Mr. Darcy and Mark Darcy)

Michael Cera (so adorable I can't stand it and a full circle moment really, what with him playing Jason Bateman's son in Arrested Development)

But folks, there's a new celebrity crush in my life. He's smart. He's thoughtful. He's confident, but not arrogant. He knows his stuff. He's local. He's the first-ever Top Chef Master . . .

Rick Bayless.

Love him.

As you can see, I played it super-duper cool a few weeks back when I met . . . er, um . . . stood two feet away from him. I'm sure he will recognize me right away when I show up at Topolobampo.

Who are your celebrity crushes past and present? Those of you who know me, what celebrity crushes am I forgetting?

Bayless Groupie beside me is E. . ./Photo Credit: CaraBee

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Planning Pains

With a new school year starting for me and for Bub, my to-do list is long and slightly panic-inducing. I now finding myself having to write things in my planner and, what's worse, having to then open that planner on a daily basis to see what else I haven't finished yet. Ick.

Does someone want to hire me to read novels, blog, and eat? Honestly, I'd be awesome at a job focused on those three tasks, NTB, and really enthusiastic to boot. I'm just looking for something part-time though.

The past few days, all my writing energy has been channeled into writing a syllabus. Plus, no one has pooped in the garage in almost a week so I'm low on inspiration.

I'll be back soon with a brag-worthy post, I promise. Until then, see how the boys and I amuse ourselves with the MacBook Photobooth. Here are just some of the hundreds of similar shots captured the past few years.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Can't make this crap up.

Monday in the seven o'clock a.m. hour:

After ten days of vacation-Daddy-immersion, Bub is reluctant to see hubby head back to work. Shoeless and jammie-clad, Bub begins running down the street after him. Solution: I pack the boys in the stroller and we walk Daddy to the train.

As we are walking along the brick path on the east side of Wrigley Field, Bub spots several large pieces of dog poop. This pile of crap provides conversational fodder for the rest of the walk home. Why was that poop there? Why do dogs poop outside? What happens to their poop? Those of you who converse regularly with preschoolers will believe me when I say that I explained no less than five times how dog owners use a plastic bag to pick up the poop and throw it in the garbage.

Wednesday in the seven o'clock p.m. hour:

Hubby and I are enjoying some turkey burgers on the deck.* Bub, who eats dinner earlier with Little Bit, is enjoying a brownie.

Bub finishes his brownie and starts playing in the yard and garage. Hubby and I smile and laugh about how cute and funny he is, NTB. Oh, look at Bub, he's opening and shutting an umbrella. Oh, that Bub, he just loves playing in the dirt. Oh, our Bub, in and out of the garage. What does he find so fascinating about the garage? Also, how cute does he look in his jammies, but why do his pajama shorts always seem to be twisted? And on and on.

At one point, Bub walks past us and into the house, claiming he needs a plastic bag. I say to hubby, "He is obsessed with sorting things (especially candy) in plastic bags." I do not think a thing of it.

But you, you're starting to get a whiff, right?

A few minutes later, Bub calls hubby into the garage. Here is a rough transcript of that conversation:

Bub, pointing with pride to some poop, yes POOP, on the floor of the garage: "Look, Dad."

Hubby, using stern voice: "Did you do that, Bub?"

Bub, after hesitating: "No."

Hubby: "Who did it?"

Bub: "A dog ran into the garage and pooped and ran away."

Hubby, after sighing: "Where's that plastic bag?"

Bub: "I want to watch you pick it up."

Bub also insisted on going to the alley to watch poop be deposited into the trash.

And there you have it, all of (sh)it.

*Level of enjoyment debatable. I thought the burgers were flavorful; hubby thought they were "alright."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wanted: Eggplant Eggheads

I used to live within walking distance of a P.F. Changs, a wonderful establishment that I affectionately refer to as "Changer." I love Changer. Love it. Love the food so much that I cannot even tell you if it is a Diet Coke/Diet Pepsi restaurant. Love it even though it is loud and crowded at dinnertime. Love it even though the hostesses dress as if they are in an metropolitan hotspot and not a nationwide chain.

Love Changer even though I have ordered the same entree every single time (of many times) I have eaten there or hoofed it with some carry out: spicy ground chicken and eggplant.

I let my companions pick the apps. I tolerate the special-sauce making tutorial. I choose brown rice. When my dish comes, I eat every single bite.

On a few unfortunate occasions, I have dined at Changer with persons who consider Changer a family-style restaurant (?!). I have ordered spicy ground chicken and eggplant even when the rest of my dining companions seems skeptical and disappointed. Don't like it? Fine. I'll keep my plate to myself and, by the way, I never asked to share yours.

Sometime around 2000, I took a notion that I could conjure up some spicy ground chicken and eggplant in my very own kitchen. I don't recall my motivation ... penny-saving? ego? delusion? I'm sure there are home cooks who can replicate restaurant dishes at home, but not MEP circa 2000. I remember eggplant, garlic, cooking spray, a skillet and the worst, bitterest pile of crap ever.

And, even though I love eggplant (with and without spicy ground chicken), I have never attempted to prepare it at home again.

On Sunday, I bought two eggplants.

On Monday, I did a google search and discovered that there are many Changer replica recipes to be found online. I also determined that I did not have the ingredients to make any of them and wouldn't be getting them before the eggplants rotted. I will save the "homage to Changer" meal for another week.

Today, I searched online for all kinds of eggplant recipes. I felt overwhelmed and could not find enough reviews of said recipes to feel comfortable going forward.

I'm turning to all of you. Tell me how to prepare my eggplants. I don't want to use my grill or grill pan. I don't want to bread or fry anything. I don't want to use a whole lot of cheese. I don't want to do a lot of work. Basically, please give me some foolproof directions for roasting some eggplant that will be delicious, if simple. You can assume some basic pantry staples like olive oil, various vinegars, and garlic.

Please, tell me how to prepare eggplant that will not end up tasting like a bitter pile of crap.


What are you cooking up these days? Have you ever successfully recreated a restaurant favorite? Have you tried a new veggie lately? Inspire me!

*I also used to live within walking distance of the World's Greatest Don Pablos, but that queso palace deserves its own post someday.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Off the Sauce(r)

After several weeks of tentative two and three step false starts, Little Bit is officially a walker. We spent last week in Hilton Head with my family, and he toddled all over the place, giggling and squealing and convinced he was one of "the big kids." Thanks to a flight delay and subsequent missed connection, he also toddled around three airports yesterday. Though, of course, he did some crawling as well, in order to take advantage of the super clean floors at airports.

It's taken nothing to get him to sleep for bed and naps since we arrived home. Either he is thrilled to be in his crib and not a pack and play or he is completely exhausted from experiencing our house as a walker. Watching him enjoy this newly-discovered freedom is delightful, especially when he toddles over to my open arms or goes in hot pursuit of big brother Bub.

* * *

And so it was time. I've known it for a couple of months now but hesitated to say goodbye. Bub loved you well in his time and me, a semi-desperate first timer of a mom, loved you so well that I let you overstay your welcome. Indeed, I was unable to turn you away until Bub climbed out of you in a dangerous, headfirst fashion.

When Little Bit was around four months, we welcomed you back into our lives (you had never left our hearts). Little Bit soon loved you too.

So many good memories flooded back--stolen moments to check email, quick trips to the bathroom by myself, household chores completed without a twenty-plus-pounder on my hip.

The bright colors, the texture of exquisitely chewed plastic, the layer of goldfish/puff crumbs, the sound of bouncing and spinning ... oh, could I go on.

I gave you the once over with some Lysol wipes and asked hubby to do the deed. Back to the crawl space you went. Even with all the other toys and plastic crap strewn about, the family room is lonely without you.

Exersaucer, until next time, you will be missed.

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