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Bittersweet

Last night, as I’m sure you’re aware, Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States, proving, as he told the crowd gathered in Chicago, that “everything really is possible in America.” Last night I celebrated this victory with friends. We toasted President-elect Obama with champagne and traded jubilant shouts and fist-pumps with strangers in the streets.

This morning I woke up and life is marching on as usual and the euphoria is gone. There are other issues to battle with, both in my personal life and the country at large.  As for me, I have an uphill battle ahead.  Last Friday I lost my job. In the worst possible job market and at the worst possible time, I got laid off. I’m young and resilient so I’m sure I will be fine. I am happy to be moving on to new experiences, and because of some smart financial decisions several months ago I shouldn’t have any trouble making ends meet. I have so much to be thankful for, but I’m a little bitter about the layoff (and really, who wouldn’t be?).

The country has won a seminal battle but is still, literally and figuratively, fighting a war. I had hoped to see a “no” vote on Proposition 8 in California this morning, but that result is still unclear and leaning towards the “yes” vote. I will spare this post a long diatribe on Prop 8, but let me say my heart is broken over the other 4 states that passed anti-gay measures last night, and it will break further if California wipes rights already given off the books and institutionalizes hate.

Democrats made huge strides last night, nearly reaching the filibuster-proof-ness in the Senate. (Didn’t quite make it, which means we’ll have to keep Lieberman on our side, which kinda sucks.)  But the Congress that comes together in January, and our new President with them, still have to dig the country out of a giant hole.  I feel like last night the country was able to see the sun again, but we’re still standing in the hole. We can’t forget how much we still have to do.

The Omnivore’s Hundred

Here’s a fun little thing I found today. I thought it would be a good diversion for a slow, rainy day. The Omnivore’s Hundred, which the originating blog (good read, by the way) describes as “100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food – but a good omnivore should really try it all.”

I’ve bolded what I’ve eaten before and crossed out what I’ve solemnly sworn never to touch. Feel free to re-post on your blog, but do comment and let me know so I can check it out!

1. Venison (also cougar, yum)
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht (beets and cold soups are two of my least favorite things.)
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich

14. Aloo gobi (I can’t remember specifically, but I eat Indian food a lot so I decided I probably have)
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras (really don’t w
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters (not a fan)
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda (didn’t even know what this was until today and now I very much want to try it!)
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu (I’m just not into dying for a piece of fish)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
(I have a spaetzle press and I love it!)
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine (this also goes on the must try list!)
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (dirt?  Really? No thanks)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (yes, all, and in Utah elephant ears were called scones.)
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain (delish, boyfriend’s specialty and I love him for it)
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho (not a fan. Cold soup just doesn’t do it for me)
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

I’ll try pretty much anything, but as  you can see I steer clear of strange and/or questionable animal parts. Other than that, I am an equal opportunity food lover!

I’m it!

Stephanie just tagged me with a meme and I need to share 7 random or weird facts about me, or I will be ‘it’ forever!

Here we go:

1. I love jewelry, and have a fairly large collection of baubles, but I cannot wear necklaces, rings, or bracelets. It drives me crazy to have these things on my body and I will fidget, play with the item, take it on and off repeatedly, and generally drive myself and everyone around me mad until I just remove it for good. I have one necklace that I like and wear daily, a thick silver chain, and that is basically the only jewelry item I can wear without annoyance. I also love wearing earrings, when I can remember to put them on.

2. I have weird ways of eating. I like everything to be very neat, so I separate all the items on my plate from touching each other. After cordoning the foods off, I eat one item at a time. Foods are not to be mixed and I will never take one bite of a food followed by another, unless I have finished the first food. When I’m finished, my plate is always practically spotless because I chase down every little speck of food. If I’m eating on a paper plate, I will then fold my trash and the plate into a tiny little packet before throwing it away. As you can imagine, this process takes a lot of time and concentration, so I cannot talk and eat at the same time. If I’m trying to participate in a conversation during dinner, it will take me an hour to finally finish my meal because I need uninterrupted concentration to eat. I would have to say, this is the very weirdest thing about me, ever.

3. I usually prefer to read newspapers and magazines back to front, an old habit I picked up from reading the jokes at the end of Reader’s Digest stories when I was young.

4. I am obsessed with my personal finances and check my bank accounts and budget online about twice a day. Maybe that’s not so weird, but I really am obsessed. I also love doing my taxes and have a fairly vast (for a non-accountant) knowledge of US tax laws.

5. I remember different times or events in my life by their association with musical artists or songs.  For example, Guster, especially the song Two Points for Honesty, reminds me of my first semester of college.  First semester of sophomore year, on the other hand, is most associated with St. Teresa by Joan Osborne. Unsurprisingly, I was really into those two songs at those particular times, but sometimes the association is more because of the lyrics or sentiment of the song (Better Man by Pearl Jam and the 2004 presidential election is one of those).

6. My biggest pet peeve in the workplace is handwritten file labels.  I think they look too messy (because most people don’t have great handwriting) and make it harder to find things.  And isn’t finding things quickly the whole point of having a file system?

7. I cannot stand the sensation of biting into a cherry tomato.  I love them, but they have to be cut in half before I will eat them.

Man, is that weird enough for you?  Yeah, I know. I may be a teensy bit unhinged.

I’m not going to tag anyone, but feel free to comment and tell me random facts about yourself!

Recession Food

In honor of yesterday’s bailout bill rejection and subsequent Dow nosedive, I made tuna noodle casserole. I needed something cheap and easy to make me feel better about life. Tuna noodle casserole is definitely cheap and easy, it’s great comfort food, and it has that je ne sais quois of food for hard times.  Yes, watching CNN often inspires me to cook, thanks for asking.  But what can I say?  It was damn good.

Because I fancy myself a foodie and a great improviser, I refused to use the traditional Campbell’s soup recipe and made up my own.  That was a little pointless because really, this is not complicated food and there’s only so much you can gussy it up.  However, my recipe was apparently a success because it was all gone before I could take a picture (that boyfriend sure can eat!).  Here’s what I did so you can make your own:

Tuna Noodle Casserole A La Mary

Ingredients:

  • 1 box farfalle (bowtie) or penne pasta.  Or heck, even spaghetti if that’s all you got.
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped.  Fancy, I know.  Don’t worry, shallots are cheap and flavorful and won’t send your home into foreclosure like a sub-prime loan.
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 handful button mushrooms, sliced
  • EVOO, salt and pepper for sauteeing
  • 1 can condensed soup (cream of chicken, broccoli, mushroom, or celery, just use what you have.  This is recession food!)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cans tuna, drained
  • 2 cups cooked peas.  A friend of mine calls peas ‘little balls of dirt.’  Dirt is definitely recession food!
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese or any other cheese you have around.  Gruyere would be fantastic, but who can afford that these days?!
  • Bread crumbs¹

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375.  Cook pasta according to instructions on box.  When done, drain and rinse with cold water.

While pasta is cooking, saute the onions, shallots, garlic, and mushrooms in olive oil.  If you’ve got other vegetables that need to be used up, throw them in!  Not letting food go to waste is good for your body and your grocery bill!  Salt and pepper sauteed vegetables to taste and set aside.

In a bowl, mix the condensed soup and milk.  Add peas, tuna, and sauteed veggies and combine well.  Add cheeses, reserving about 1/2 cup of each for later. Stir.  And pasta and stir until noodles are well coated.

Scoop mixture into a casserole dish and cover with foil.  Bake for 20 minutes, then remove.  Take off foil, cover with remaining cheeses and breadcrumbs, and return to oven for five minutes or until top is browned and bubbling.  Serve with my favorite recession dessert, Jello.  Makes 6-8 servings.


¹Okay, does anyone actually use real bread crumbs in their cooking?  I wrote it up there because that is the “professional” term but, confession time, I don’t use bread crumbs.  I never have stale bread lying around and I will never ever make breadcrumbs out of good, usable bread just for a recipe.  Crushed up crackers are much easier and work just the same.  And I somehow always have stale crackers at my house.  Seriously, I’ve used crushed crackers to bread fish and you cannot tell the difference. Just my two cents.

Someday…

Qualities I want my next apartment to have:

1. Larger living room, so that it is easier to have people over/host game night.

2. Allows pets.

3. Close to an awesome antique store or thrift store. (This is very important.  I love old, cheap, used stuff).

4. Lots of natural light.

5.  Space to store and use a spinning wheel (because I need more hobbies to throw my money into).

Then, I think life would be perfect.

I am obsessed with the Olympics.  For as long as I can remember (which is back to Barcelona in 1992, when I was 7) the Games have completely absorbed me and I always try to watch as many events as possible.  Living in Salt Lake City during the 2002 Winter Games was amazing, of course.

I have no idea why I love them so much, because I am the total opposite of an athlete or a sports fan.  However, there’s no denying I’m truly obsessed, and the Opening Ceremonies is definitely my favorite part of the Olympics.  They really encompass the entire Olympic spirit and I always feel so happy watching the start of the Games.  Last night China put on a very excellent show.  In my total elation, I thought up my top ten favorite things about the Opening Ceremonies.

10. Learning random facts- You can learn a lot about the host country, world geography and culture, athletics, and a bunch of other things if you just listen to the commentary.  I love learning.

9. Parade of nations- I love to watch all the countries parade by and think about all the unique cultures they represent.  Seeing people from all over the world converge in one place is so cool.

8. Visual spectacles- There were some amazing visuals in the first half of the Opening Ceremonies last night.  Who wouldn’t love a beautiful show of song, dance, and color?

7. Awesome technology- Again, we saw some amazing things last night.  I love the combination of human-power and futuristic electronics.

6. Unity- Even though there may be conflicts between countries, the Olympic Spirit of coming together as one world trumps all.

5. Anticipation- First there’s the anticipation that has lead up to the Games starting.  Then the anticipation of all the surprises to come in the Opening Ceremonies alone.  And finally, anticipation of the feats of athleticism to come in the following weeks.  Everyone is excited and nervous.

4. Correcting the announcers- I think it’s really funny when I know how to pronounce the name of a country like Lesotho (it’s le-su-two not le-soth-o) and the announcer says it wrong.  I caught a couple mistakes last night.  I actually know a lot about obscure countries, believe it or not.  The only country in the Games that I hadn’t heard of before last night was Nauru.

3. Lighting the torch- The most secretive element of any Opening Ceremonies is how the Olympic flame will be lit and who will get to do the honor.  Sometimes I cry when I see the final torchbearer light the cauldron.  All time favorite: Sydney, 2000.

2. The long shots- I get excited when the US team enters the arena, of course, but I watch even harder for the teams that had to struggle just to make it to the Games.  You know, the ones with only one athlete or the countries who have never won a medal.  I take note of the long shots so I can root for them in the competitions.

1. The clothes!- This is it, my number one favorite thing about the Opening Ceremonies.  My inner anthropologist revels in the ways each country has chosen to represent themselves by their attire.  And the USA always looks smart.  Call me shallow, but is it any wonder that a klutz such as myself would love the clothes the most?

P.S. If you’re wondering about my Ravelympics projects, I started this morning on the February Baby Sweater.  I couldn’t start during the Opening Ceremonies because I had to concentrate!

Dog Days

So what was that I said before about being a better blogger?  Yeah I don’t remember, either. ;)

Anyways.  Today is one of those days.  The kind where I’m having trouble resisting the temptation to crawl under my desk and pretend I’m not here.  You ever have those?  Please tell me it’s not just me.  Also, having recently entered the month of August, it’s really miserable outside.  I arrived at work this morning, after my 10-block walk from the apartment, dripping with sweat.  Ew.

So what did I just do to cheer myself up?  Joined the Ravelympics, of course!  I’ve signed up to compete in the Baby Dressage event.  My goal: complete a Baby Surprise Jacket and a February Baby Sweater, plus possibly a hat or some booties (Saartje’s, natch) by the time the flame goes out.

If this works, I will not only be a Ravelympic winner (Medalist?  Do we get medals?), I will also have a bevvy of knitted gifts to present to my pregnant cousin at her baby shower in September.  I figured making baby stuff for her would give me a little extra motivation to go for the gold.  I’m so proud of myself for thinking of this brilliant plan, I can’t wait to get home and swatch!

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