30 November 2011

The End.

This is the last day of NaBloPoMo and I'm extremely excited about that.  I'm surprised that I was able to keep up with it this time, but that was due partly to the fact that other members of AFBA joined in on the daily posting fun.  This experience has definitely brought me back to blogging.  Not only did I challenge myself to post every day, I also wanted to make sure that I was posting real things.  Sure, there were a few days that got super lame posts, but for the most part, I think I upped my content, mostly by including pictures.

So how did I actually make it through all of November posting?

1) Not all of the posts are about food.  I think I've come to terms with the fact that this blog is going to evolve into more than just what I'm eating/cooking/drooling over, because I don't have infinite things to say about food and I have the cutest little baby ever.  Oh and because I'm going to have a baby in March. ;)

2) Most Mondays I posted menus and most Sundays I posted pictures.  It's almost like a cheat, but I tried to make sure that the pictures were good and the menus were, mostly, followed.

3) This is probably the real reason why I could stick with it: I prescheduled a lot of my posts.  If I had multiple ideas for posts, I'd write them all up at once and then schedule them out.  Usually this ended up being a few posts at a time, so it's not like I had the entire month scheduled.

So will I ever do this again?  Possibly.  Probably not any time soon, though.  I'm planning on easing up on the posting, especially right now.  I have a talk to give about a carbon-enhanced metal-poor r+s-process enhanced star (say that three times fast) in about 20 minutes, a ginormous pile of papers to grade, and a committee meeting in a week, where I have to tell one of my committee members that I am, indeed, having a baby, which is probably going to cut my spring semester productivity in half.  Oops.

So for now, here's a piece of pie for you, because I think we've all deserved it by sticking with me for this long.  Also, because I can't eat it due to my newly-discovered pregnancy-induced insulin resistence, but more on that later.

Image from Stu Spivack because my phone is choking on the giant picture of pumpkin pie from inside my faraday cage.  I mean office.

29 November 2011

Peanut butter blues

My Koeze peanut butter is almost gone, which is sad but weird on the street is that I don't have to travel all the way back to Michigan to go to Zingerman's to get it.  Apparently, Antonelli's carries it. Hurrah!

Also, this talk is happening tomorrow at noon.  Which is, again, why I'm not making real posts.  Perhaps I should make up for it in December.

28 November 2011

science. ugh.

This is why you don't get a real post today:

Actually, I have to give a talk on Wednesday about this, which is for realz why.

26 November 2011

home brewing

me: are you excited?
he: for what?
me: cider!
he: oh, yeah.  Are you excited?
me: for what?
he: to play pretend.
me: pretend what?
he: pretend we know what we're doing

After seeing a Slow Food Austin talk by the Argus Cidery dudes, we decided to try to brew hard cider to give as Christmas gifts.  It seemed like it was going to be mostly easy, and after two trips to Austin Homebrew Supply, we came home with about $50 worth of supplies and way more confusion than when we first walked in the door.  Hopefully this works and we don't end up giving our families a lot of vinegar.  I'll update later when we know if it worked or not.  And no, the irony of being pregnant and brewing alcoholic beverages isn't lost on me.

cider supplies, including airlocks, campden tablets, and a bunch of other stuff

Bottles that are (still) awaiting cider.  Colby and Dustin "made" them in a weekend.  Anything for the cause, eh?

Sanitizing everything

The game plan

sulfated cider ready for fermentation

Colby putting the cider in its home for the next couple of weeks.  (And yes, this is going to be the nursery, but it's not like we're using it right now.)

Ciders with their airlocks and yeast. Look at that yeast bloom in the upper right corner!

It bubbled!  Success!

25 November 2011

Black Friday

We went out on this morning at midnight to see what Black Friday was like.  Neither Colby nor I had ever had the full experience, so this was more anthropological than shopping.  I did see some deals that looked good, but waiting for hours to get into a store+getting trampled on+waiting for hours to check out didn't seem that appealing.  This is what the scene looked like outside of Target:

No, that's not the line to get into Target, that's the crowd that gathered to watch the line to get into Target.  At about 12:05 AM.  

Here's the line to get into Target:

And then at around 12:30, we meandered down to Best Buy, and they still had a line, complete with security guards.  It was kind of nuts.

Needless to say, we didn't buy anything, but now that my curiosity has been sated, I'm content with spending my future Black Friday Eves basking in the glow of a food hangover, rather than contend with crazy crowds of motivated shoppers.

23 November 2011

Them's the rules.

So the results are back and dun dun dun... I don't have gestational diabetes!  But I'm apparently developing pregnancy-induced insulin resistance, so I still need to follow a gestational diabetes diet (basically low carb).  There's a class that I'm supposed to take next week (pending my insurance) that talks about how to properly diet and exercise to make sure that the baby doesn't grow hugenormous, but until I attend the class, I was given a list of rules to follow:
Avoid Sugar and All Sweets

Avoid fruit in the morning
Eat small, frequent meals
ALWAYS include a bedtime snack
Each meal and snack must have carbohydrate, protein, and fat
If you are hungry between meals & snacks, eat low carbohydrate foods

So basically, no more fun.  I ended up getting the Eggs Francisco at Kerbey Lane (and only had half of the english muffin).  This kid better be the coolest thing ever, because this is a pretty huge sacrifice.

scrambled eggs, tomato, avocado, and bacon on an English muffin, covered in queso

22 November 2011

Flat sprite

I spent Friday morning sitting in a doctor's office getting my blood drawn four times over the course of three hours.  By the time I finished, it had been 15.5 hours since I had eaten anything, aside from chugging a 100g dextrose solution 3.5 hours before.  The next time someone tells me about the joys and blessings of pregnancy, I'm going to stab them.

All of this was for the 3 hour glucose tolerance test for gestational diabetes.  I took a shorter test earlier in the week and my blood sugar came back elevated.  It was a pretty big bummer, but not unexpected.  A couple years ago I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).  Nearly 50% of women with PCOS get gestational diabetes.  This is the same syndrome that Kate Gosselin had, which is why she opted for in vitro fertilization and ended up with 8 children. 

Since we didn't have an extra $50,000 to throw at IVF, I dismissed the notion of having kids and totally came to peace with the idea of being able to travel the world, buying expensive shoes/meals/electronics, and generally enjoying my disposable income.  Colby was less okay with this (I guess he's not nearly as into Swedish Hasbeens as I am), and so we went to a fertility specialist to see what our options were and to get further testing.  Upon an ultrasound examination of my ovaries, the doctor commented that I had just ovulated and was either going to get my period or was pregnant.  We all had a good chuckle and I went to get a CT scan a couple weeks later because my sinuses had been fucked up since December 2010.  Oops.

Fast forward five months and now I'm awaiting my results from the GTT.  The GTT requires a 12 hour fast, chugging this ridiculous sugar solution in <5 minutes, and then getting blood drawn once an hour for three hours.  The last sugar solution tasted like flat orange pop, which is not nearly as tasty as you'd assume.  This solution tasted more like flat sprite and was only mildly more palatable.  The worst, though, is that they don't let you drink much water because that interferes with the results.  My suspicion is that I do have gestational diabetes given my risk factors and the first glucose tolerance test.  If that's the case, then the recipes I post here are going to be of a decidedly more meaty nature.  In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the last  yummy carbs I'll be allowed to eat for the next 15 weeks.

21 November 2011

Thanksgiving week menu

Menu planning for this week is made easier because Thursday is already planned out for me.  


slowcooker lasagna (hat tip to Austin Gastronomist)

eggs, pan sausage (with possible recipe to come), biscuits

Thanksgiving dinner at 24 Diner (we're going to go out to eat for this so I can concentrate on getting work done)

roasted chicken, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed sweet potatoes (like Thanksgiving, but decidedly easier)

20 November 2011

Silent Sundays: Venetian Hot Plate, Port Aransas, TX

Silent Sundays are like Wordless Wednesdays, but on Sunday because, um, I'm sleepy and don't have much to say.

bread and dipping sauce

olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes, garlic, black pepper

misto mare: clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, shrimp, in a butter+wine sauce

salad with balsamic vinaigrette

Mama's lasagna

fresh gulf snapper with artichokes, capers, asparagus, and mashed potatoes

all done


19 November 2011

Wherein the posts get a little thin towards the end of NaBloPoMo

I should probably post something, eh?

I don't have too much to say, except that for once, I'm okay with the University of Michigan not screwing up a game because Michigan State is going to the first Big Ten championship game.  Yay!

17 November 2011

Pumpkin Cornbread

Recall the ill-fated muffins from yesterday?  Well, they only used a half a can of pumpkin and I was taunted with the rest of the can, just sitting in the fridge.  I decided that the best way to proceed was to make pumpkin corn bread.  This time, however, my recipe tweaking was rewarded.

Pumpkin Cornbread

1 c cornmeal
1 c AP flour
1/3 c sugar
1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 t grated nutmeg
1 T baking powder
1 t salt

1/3 c oil (I used grapeseed oil, but vegetable oil works here too)
1/2 c milk (or more)
1/2 c pumpkin
1 large egg, beaten

Set oven to 400 F.  Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt.  In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, milk, pumpkin, and egg.  Fold in the dry ingredients.  Pour into an 8x8 or 9x9 baking pan and bake until a toothpick can be cleanly removed, about 15 minutes.

The reason why I say that you may need more milk is that it depends on the consistency of your pumpkin.  The pumpkin I used was fairly watery, but the batter was still pretty thick.  Thin it with milk a couple Tbsps at a time if the batter turns to dough.  You should be able to shake the pan to (mostly) smooth out the batter into one even-ish layer.

16 November 2011

Food Links: Stuff I Want to Make

Do you ever look at a recipe and decide that it's time to tweak it and you know for certain that it's going to come out and be the best thing ever?  And then you try it and you're like hm... maybe I should have stuck with the recipe.  These are mistake muffins.  Don't get me wrong, I truly believe that pumpkin oatmeal muffins can be made to be delicious, but these aren't it.  They are, however, pretty.  Here's a list of links to things I've been reading around the interwebs that I will definitely try to make but will likely end up tweaking because I'm antsy like that.

Slow Cooker Shredded Korean Beef Tacos I was looking around for a slow cooker bean recipe and stumbled across this blog.  This recipe looks like a good way for me to use up the bison stew meat that's been hanging out in my freezer for awhile.

Sweet Potato Biscuits These look awesome and perhaps something that you can actually do with butternut squash instead.

Hot Pepper Cranberry Relish Even though we decided to go out to eat for thanksgiving this year, I'm still drooling over holiday recipes. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to be making this (and also stuffing) at some point in November.  Plus, I can use the jalapenos from my garden.

15 November 2011

Ugly, but Tasty!, Butternut Squash Casserole

A couple weeks ago, Colby and I went to Nerd Nite: Food Edition.  Okay, it wasn't actually called that, but that's what it was.  The first speaker was AFBA's own Addie Broyles.  Someone asked her what the key to a successful food blog was and one of her suggestions was to make sure that you post pictures.  This is something that I'm not so great about doing with every post.  Partly, my picture taking skills are pretty terrible, but also because a lot of the dishes I make aren't so attractive.  This dish falls firmly in the category of dishes that are delicious but not at all pretty.

Yeah, this is kind of a hot mess.  And by hot, I mean temperature and by mess, I mean, like, look at it.

Butternut squash casserole

3 lb butternut squash, peeled, cubed, roasted in olive oil and salt+pepper at 400 for ~30 minutes
~1/3 lb bacon (more or less depending on how much you love bacon)
1/2 medium yellow or sweet onion, diced
1/2 c sour cream
1 c shredded cheddar cheese (I'd avoid superduper extra sharp cheddar, actually and feel free to use more if you want)
1/4 c panko (optional)

Cook the bacon until crisp.  Crumble and set aside.  Remove all but a couple Tbsps of the bacon grease and then saute the onion in the same pan until they're translucent.  I tend to brown them, to get more sweetness out of them, but be sure not to let them burn (oops).  In an oven-safe dish, combine the roasted butternut squash cubes, bacon, onions, sour cream, and 2/3 c of the cheddar cheese.  Season with salt+pepper to taste.  Top with the remaining cheese and panko, if using.  Bake in a 350 F oven for ~10 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly.

14 November 2011

Monday Menu Mania

This is totally not related, but here's a picture of Colby eating a PB&J sandwich
This is looking to be a rather low-key week, but it seems like I've been attacked with a resurgence of first trimester nausea.  This means that my desire to cook is incredibly low, so most of this is easy to throw together or something that I'll make Colby cook.

And to pretend to tie in the random picture with this post, I'm really good at planning dinner menus and lately, we've been good at sticking with it most of the time.  I admit that the chicken and 20 cloves was never made, but I've also decided that it's more of a weekend meal than a weekday meal.  The one thing I'm pretty terrible about is lunch.  Also breakfast.  I almost never bring lunch to school, so I pay a lot of money to get some marginal food from O's Campus Cafe.  Colby always eats lunch at home and it usually involves things that he can cram down his throat as quickly as possible.  Perhaps next week I'll plan a lunch menu as well.

cowboy casserole from Central Market, green beans

spinach tortellini soup, (probably sans beans bc we don't have any) crusty bread

tacos, green beans (because who says you can't eat green beans with tacos?)

pasta with meat sauce (this is coming from my freezer stash of sauce+meatballs, but the BIL doesn't like meatballs, so I think we're just going to break them up and call it "meat sauce"), spinach salad

roasted chicken, brussels sprouts, rice pilaf

13 November 2011

Silent Sundays: Homemade Sushi

Silent Sundays are like Wordless Wednesdays, but on Sunday because, um, I'm sleepy and don't have much to say.

12 November 2011

Saturday Night Jam

Totally digging Schuyler Fisk right now.

11 November 2011


This has been a pretty terrible week to be a member of the Big Ten and it's not getting better with the Carrier Classic, so here's a picture of the shoes I wore today.  It was super brisk this morning and these are like the warmest non-boots I own.  They're basically like wearing a pair of sweat pants on my feet.  Also, my belly? Out of control.

10 November 2011

Sesame and Wasabi Dressing and Forgotten Jalapenos

One of the worst pregnancy side effects I've encountered is "pregnancy brain".  I've basically lived in a fog for the past 5 months, having difficulty coming up with words and conveniently forgetting how to do things that I've done a zillion times before.

Take, for instance, hair cuts.  I usually cut Colby's hair because all
he gets are buzz cuts, so it saves us like 20 bucks a month or so.  The clippers we got from Costco are probably one of the best investments we've ever made there, but I totally forgot that I usually shave the back of his neck, rather than use the bare clippers.  He may or may not have ended up with cuts on the back of his neck.  Ahem.

Suffice it to say, sometimes my inability to remember things interferes with what I'm doing, occasionally with disastrous results.  On the other hand, on Monday I planned ahead and took the time to go to our garden to get some surprisingly resilient jalapenos for dinner.  We built a raised garden box a la Springdale Farm because we have fire ant problems and we thought that this would keep them out.  The garden grew like gangbusters from mid-May to the end July or so, but then we sort of decided that it would be best to just let everything go because it was probably never going to rain ever again.  After about 3 months of very sporadic watering, the garden box looked something like this:

It turns out that basil is impossible to kill.  In fact, that basil is made entirely of stuff that reseeded from last year.  Our rosemary and sage were fine because those are desert-okay plants, but it turns out that zucchini, cucumbers, and green beans are not.  At least, they need to be watered more than once a month in 100+ heat.  Surprisingly enough, the mint plant that we neglected had bolted and seeded, so when we started watering the box again once it cooled off a lot, we found little mint plants all over the place.  I'll have to come up with creative uses for it.  I think the most surprising result was that not only did our jalapenos not die, they started to flower again and make more jalapenos.  I chose the biggest one.  It was pretty and it was going to be part of our dinner.

I made a version of Nigella's crab and avocado salad, but preg brain struck again and I ended up forgetting about the jalapeno that I had so lovingly harvested earlier.  Le sigh.  The dinner was actually really good, though.  Instead of her dressing, I adjusted the proportions to this:

Sesame and Wasabi dressing
1 t prepared wasabi
1 t sesame oil
2 T mirin
1 T rice wine vinegar
1/2 t kosher salt
juice of 1/2 lime

Whisk it all together in a small bowl and toss with 8 oz lump crab meat, 1 sliced avocado, and as much arugula as you can stand.

Om nom.

09 November 2011

Penn State Part II

After reading more about Paterno's role and the timeline of events, I'm as conflicted as Matt Millen, so I decided to take down my previous post.

JoePa always stood for integrity in college sports, but now I'm not so sure.  I'm deeply saddened that this entire thing happened, but I think we need to focus on the fact that Jerry Sandusky is the one who is actually facing charges for child molestation, not JoePa, not Graham Spanier.  I hope, for the victims' sake, that the trial is quick and decisive.

08 November 2011

Favorite Things: Belli Acne Cleansing Facial Wash

My food experiences are mundane enough to make it impossible for me to write about it for all 30 days of this challenge, so I decided to share, on occasion, stuff that I'm really digging.  Today it's Belli's Acne Cleansing Facial Wash.  Belli is a skin care company that focuses on products for pregnant women, mothers, and babies.  Pregnancy brings a whole host of skin problems including, but not limited to, stretch marks, acne, and discoloration.  I was surprised to discover that certain over-the-counter skincare products aren't pregnancy safe.  Salycilic acid is one of these products and is found in many daily facial cleansers, including the ones that I'd been using.
After searching for a pregnancy safe option, in this case lactic acid-based cleansers, I found Belli's line of pregnancy products.  You can use the facial wash as a daily cleanser or leave it on for five minutes as a "mask".  The cleanser/mask works really well with some caveats.  I need to make sure I use it every day.  I'm not terribly careful with my skin, but I break out if I skip a day or two.  This is probably because my breakouts are usually related to hormonal changes and since my hormones are crazy now, I've been breaking out like a teenager without some sort of cleanser.  I find that it works best in combination with a non-comedogenic facial moisturizer because it tends to dry out my cheeks.  Additionally, this doesn't have any exfoliating beads, so it's smooth.  I always rub it off with a washcloth so I can get a bit of exfoliation in, rather than simply rinsing it away.

My biggest problem with it is that it's CRAZY expensive.  I purchased it for $22 at Ulta (for a 6.7 oz bottle!), which I'm hoping will last for most of the pregnancy.  I haven't tried any of their other products because I'm not made of money, but if you have some cash to burn and find yourself harboring a friendly-ish uterine parasite, you should check out this product as well as the rest of their line.

07 November 2011

Menu Monday

Full disclosure: I don't always follow the menus I post.  Last week, we never made the chicken and 20 cloves because the kitchen was a mess, we both were lazy, and I had a craving for Mexican food, so we headed to Amaya's instead.  (Insert excuse for Saturday and Sunday here, though yesterday we did go to Cipollina with Randi.)  I always aspire to follow these menus, but we inevitably end up eating out at some point or having way too many leftovers to justify making another dish.  My menu this week, though, lends itself to not create massive amounts of mess or leftovers.

Butternut squash from Montesino Ranch and puppy feet

Crab, avocado, and arugula salad, adapted from Nigella's recipe but it sounded good since we have that arugula

Chicken and 20 cloves and roasted brussels sprouts, for real this time

homemade sushi, which will consist mainly of california and vegetable rolls, mostly to use up the rest of the crab and avocado

Bacon, eggs, and biscuits

butternut squash casserole (recipe to come!) with a salad because that dish is the opposite of light eating. :)

06 November 2011

Silent Sundays: Austin Boston Terrier Meet Up

Silent Sundays are like Wordless Wednesdays, but on Sunday because, um, I'm sleepy and don't have much to say.