June 28, 2010

The straight dirt

First I wanted to post this picture of my farmer's market haul from Saturday. It is so nice to have fresh fruits and veggies again!

And homemade bread, mmmm...

But I really opened this page today to respond to Sarah's question on her blog: How do you stay zen about cleaning your house?

As I said in her comments, I don't recommend this strategy. I got over my cleaning crazy when my back went out in 2004. Four paragraphs later, I decided it was more polite to move my raving here.

My junior year of college I had the dubious honor of residing in the party house. Are you picturing stacks of beer cans, sticky floors, and all around chaos? Not my pad. For I had the cleanest party house in history. Every day when I came home from class I fastidiously erased all evidence of the previous night's festivities. You could trash the place, but it never stayed trashy.

Compare that to now. I can't turn around without seeing dust or clutter. My bathtub is long overdue for a scrubbing. My newly longer hair is freaking EVERYWHERE. Dishes routinely sit in the sink...

What changed? Well like I said I hurt my back. For about six months I could barely walk to the bathroom, let alone get on bended knee and scrub it til it gleamed. And you know what? My friends didn't quit coming over, my husband didn't contract a horrific disease... Basically no dire consequences came to pass at all.

In the meantime I realized there were other things I'd rather be doing. Spending time with my husband. Writing my thesis. Talking with my family on the phone. Screwing around on the internet.

I don't know if I could have gone cold turkey. But now it's almost as if I don't recognize that person. I try not to let my place get outright disgusting. I tend to pick one gross spot every day and sort that out. Today, for instance, I desperately need to sweep my hairballs up from the bathroom floor. If it's a good back day, I might even mop in there.

Oh, there's a load of other stuff that needs doing. Organize a growing stack of work-related papers. Run the vacuum in our bedroom. Dust the entertainment center. Sweep and mop the kitchen. Will I accomplish any of that? Unlikely. Because, nowadays, even one load of dishes is enough to put me on an ice pack for half an hour.

Don't get me wrong. I'm still funny about some things. A spotless kitchen counter, because food-borne illness still freaks me the hell out. Hospital corners, because wrinkly sheets drive me batty when I try to sleep. Here's the thing about that though. I never make the bed until right before I get in it. I leave it wrecked all through the day. Ha!

I seem to have some feelings about this, no? And you can see why I decided it was better I should work them out here, and not take over an innocent comment stream. Come to think of it, I bet I could fill a whole 'nother post ranting about how patriarchy hijacked the hygiene hypothesis germ theory* to keep women down and domesticated.

Sarah... I hope this is helpful. And I wish you the best in beating the Proctor and Gamble conspiracy.

*Edited 12:47 p.m.: I realized in the shower that I had utterly misused "hygiene hypothesis." I was thinking about germ theory, which more or less went, hey doctors, if you wash your hands in between patients, you won't spread so many of their cooties.

The hygiene hypothesis says rather the opposite: that in Western societies, we're so darn clean we fail to prime our children's immune systems. It's meant to explain the prevalence of asthma and allergies in developed countries, when they're virtually unheard of elsewhere.

Oh, shower. How many "ah-ha" moments do I owe to your existence?

June 25, 2010

What about that sugar craving?

Ok, well, I flaked on the red beans and rice last night. There was enough chili left to mix with some pasta and cheese. I called it chili-mac and gave myself the night off from serious cooking. Maybe tomorrow I'll throw together some kind of bean salad. We shall see...

Anyway my challenge for today was to satisfy the old sweet tooth. I nursed a carton of ice cream as long as I could, which was precisely until yesterday. Back into the cupboards to see if I could come up with anything. I used all my flour on that loaf of bread, so cakes and cookies were out. But that partial bag of semi-sweet chips has been bugging me. Surely I can put those to use.

I know! Buckeyes! I've got butter and peanut butter and powdered sugar. Never tried buckeyes before but what the hell. Let's do this...

First things first. If I was gonna be short of anything, it would be the chocolate. So I measured...

Aren't the tastiest treats the simplest?

One cup. So I have to do math. Okaaay...
  • 3/8 cup peanut butter (Awesome. I have to eyeball that one.)
  • 1/4 cup butter (Easy enough. Half a stick.)
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract (Damn. Gotta eyeball that too.)
  • 6/4 (reduces to 3/2 which equals 1 1/2) cup confectioners' sugar
  • And the previously established 1 cup chocolate chips
Now the online recipe says just dump everything but the chocolate into a bowl. I decided to blend all my "wet" ingredients first, then add the sugar. I figured it would be less messy that way. And considering I didn't frost the whole kitchen in powdered sugar, I think I might have been right.

I used a fork to combine everything, but by the time I was done my aching arm was all, "Damn, lady. Didn't you buy a pastry cutter just for stuff like this?"

And my brain was all, "Yeah but that's a nightmare to clean. So shut it."

Ah, intrapersonal conflict. I stirred until I had this:

I really could eat this with a spoon... Focus, Misty!

Then I was ready to start rolling. Except, blast it I'm out of wax paper. Fine. You know what? I'll butter the baking tray. That'll work. (And it totally did.) I'd be remiss if I didn't mention, for my readers who have offspring: This step is super kid-friendly. Think Play Doh, you know?

I had another oh crap moment when I looked at the nearly empty toothpick box. I had enough, it turned out, but just barely. Add that to tomorrow's shopping list (which is exploding).

Please don't judge my well-loved baking pan.

That went into the freezer where I left it for a half hour. Then I got to melting the chocolate.

Did I mention I've never done this before?

Ok, so, this part brought an old song to my mind, the Chef from South Park classic. No, not "Chocolate Salty Balls." Though, I guess that would be appropriate. The other classic...

You wait and you wait and you wait and you wait...

(Sing along with me)

And you wait and you wait and you wait...

And you wait and you wait and you wait but she's still going to the bathroooooom...

Also stir. The recipe says the chocolate should get "smooth." For some mysterious reason I really never accomplished that. But I started to get worried after about 20 minutes that the chocolate would cook. Not okay. So out came the peanut butter and I started dipping.

Except it wasn't really dipping. The chocolate was about the consistency of cake frosting. So it was more like wallering. I kinda had to -- roll the balls around in there to get them coated good.

As a result, I utterly mangled two and badly compromised the visual appeal of the rest. Whatever, dude. I put them back in the buttered pan, then stuck it all in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Once the chocolate was set, I moved them out of the baking pan and into a storage container.


Yeah... I realize they came out pretty funky-looking. But you won't hear me griping, because they taste freaking awesome. And in this house? Flavor counts a lot more toward your final score than prettiness.

Sugar craving? Solved. And tomorrow? I get to go shopping again! Cue choirs of angels...

June 24, 2010

I love these guys...

Some way or other, I recently found my way to The Food Blog, maintained by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. These are the guys behind the book Real Food Has Curves, which is totally going in my letter to Santa this year.

First of all, they crack me up. And they seem to share a good chunk of my personal food philosophy. Need recipes? Laughs? Inspiration? Check them out...

In this post, Mark talks about how to distinguish between processed foods (like proper cheese or cold-pressed olive oil) and "processed foods" (like cheese food product and refined olive oil). The difference boils down to the ingredients and the -- ahem -- process, used to create a packaged item.
As we keep saying, "convenience shouldn't be discounted, just examined."

And while we're on it, the olive oil in that [pizza] crust is processed. No doubt. The olives are pressed. But Bruce and I use only "first cold-pressed olive oil." If you use olive oil from "refined olives," it means the manufacturer used chemical solvents to extract the oil from inferior or unripe olives. What was merely processed food suddenly became "processed food." (If that makes any sense.)
They advocate careful label reading -- basically comparing an item's ingredients to what a person would use making it at home. Simple, right? And it helps so much in the kitchen. It's much harder to screw up a dish if you start out with quality ingredients. Nature makes delicious things; it's the job of the cook to get out of the way.

The whole discussion makes me think of something my cousin Wannie once told me: "I got to reading about all those preservatives, and I thought, it's like they're trying to embalm me before I die." Both hilarious and on point.

Red beans and rice tonight, which I haven't made in ages. I'll let y'all know how it turns out...

June 23, 2010

Winging it for lunch

I'm making chili for supper tonight. Snore. Been there, done that.  So I decided I'd share what I've been lunching on. Per our custom 'round here, Doug has been taking dinner leftovers to work for his lunch the next day. As for me, I've been winging it.

This isn't so much as a recipe as a stream of consciousness. It's one of those deals where I taste and tinker, until I have something I want to taste in quantity. Here goes...

Chicken Pasta Salad

I thawed out a couple extra chicken breasts while I was prepping for last night's pasta. I heated up my skillet, then some sesame oil, on a medium burner. Then I popped in the chicken.

This color on both sides

That touch of brown adds a depth of flavor and texture I adore, although it's totally optional. Meanwhile I was bringing some lightly salted water up to a boil.

Once the chicken was done I put it in my biggest mixing bowl with a bit of salt and black pepper. I took a couple of forks and got to shredding.

Simple simple

I kept ripping and tearing until I had this:

I seriously almost slobbered into the bowl... Again.

At some point during all this my water started boiling. I tossed in a couple of handfuls of mostaccioli.

Precision measurements

While the pasta finished cooking, I stuck the chicken into the freezer to get cool. Then I started rounding up dressing ingredients.

My first string

I pulled the chicken back out of the freezer and added mayo, onion powder, garlic powder, marjoram, cilantro, and celery seed. Taste? Bland. More salt and pepper. Could use some sweetness. I know! Pickle relish! And some of that Italian dressing I've been loading on everything this week. A little Parmesan cheese. Some parsley. Okay, that's pretty tasty.

Next I drained the pasta and gave it a quick cool water rinse. Can I just gripe for a second about over-rinsed pasta? First of all, you should never rinse unless you need to cool the noodles for a salad like this. Ever had gummy, tasteless pasta? A well meaning but uninformed cook probably washed all the yummy off. End gripe.

Toss toss tossed the pasta into the dressed chicken. Added some salad greens, torn up into tiny pieces. Tasted again. Just a liiitle more mayo, salt and pepper. Chucked one of those forks in the sink and prepared to chow down.

Doesn't look like survival food...

A dish like this will feed me for 2 or 3 days, depending on how much restraint I can exercise. At this point I still have enough for tomorrow, and hallelujah, Friday's payday.

I haven't been this inspired in the kitchen for a while. The heat had kind of sapped my motivation and creativity. Not that it's any cooler this week. I've just had a growling stomach to drive me. Teehee.

Here's to hoping I'll stay on the ball!

June 22, 2010

Happy anniversary my love

I wanted to do something special for our anniversary, despite our financial difficulties. If you know anything about my husband, you know why I decided the most special-est thing I could do for him was make some homemade bread.

Ready for the oven

I used the Basic White Bread recipe from the KitchenAid cookbook. This is my third attempt at this project and I think I'm starting to get the hang of it! I will prevail over my fear of baking. Oh yes... I will prevail...

Using the baker's rack as intended, for once.

To go with that, I whipped up a kind of bastardized chicken cacciatore-type dish for supper. Here's the lowdown.

Skillet Chicken Pasta

What I used:
  • About 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • Half a Spanish onion, minced
  • 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
  • About a third pound of pasta shells
  • Oregano, basil, marjoram, parsley and cilantro
  • Salt and pepper
Here's where I'll throw in the at-home Chopped challenge disclaimer. If I was making this "for real," I'd much prefer to use tri-color rotini. It's no different taste-wise but it just looks prettier. I'd also probably add more vegetables, like bell peppers, carrots, and such.

On to the instructions. Set a skillet on a medium burner and let it get hot. Meanwhile put a pot of water on medium, with a little salt.

Put the olive oil in your hot skillet. Keep an eye on it until you just start to see smoke. (Careful with this step, olive oil scorches very easily.) Toss in the onion and garlic and sautee them until they're transparent and just starting to brown.

Dump in the chicken cubes and keep stirring until they're no longer pink on the outside. Then, using a paring knife and your fingers, you basically want to shred the whole tomatoes into the skillet. Stir that around a bit, then pour in the juice from the tomato can.

At this point, reduce the heat to medium-low, and season with any or all those herbs and spices. It should be strongly seasoned, almost overpowering. The flavor will even out once you've added the pasta.

(NOTE: There's a secret ingredient I used here, which I learned from Gina back in college. If you want to know, you'll have to ask her. She's a Chicago Italian, and I like my kneecaps.)

Once your water starts to boil, dump in the pasta. Cook it about 3/4 of the recommended time. I know it's ready by fishing out a piece and biting into it. It should be not-quite-tender in the middle. At that point it goes into the skillet. Let it all simmer, uncovered, until the pasta is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid.

This took less than 30 minutes, chopping time included.

So we had pasta for dinner, with salad greens and the Italian dressing I made yesterday. (Which, can I just say? Got a lot more delicious overnight.) We topped it off with a little Parmesan and mozzarella. It's not the anniversary dinner I might have imagined, but Doug's grunts of satisfaction told me it was good enough.

"Mmf, ungh," Damn baby!

We cut into the bread while it was totally still warm. Doug just had his with butter, but I made mine into dessert with a bit of peach preserves I bought from the farmer's market.

Doug: "Takes me back to childhood." Awww...

Happy anniversary my love. One of these years we'll do it up right. In the meantime, I'm sure glad you like my cooking.

Oh, and one last thing. My bread is turning out a little denser than I really like. Anybody out there a baking genius with tips for a better rise?

June 21, 2010

At least we get to eat

Ok, so, as promised, bright side. Pity party time is over. Switch on the ugly lights and pay the violin band. Ain't gotta go home but ya can't stay here... Important stuff to do.

Like, solving the calorie problem for the next four days. We may not have money, but surprise! We do have food. I made a careful inventory of the cupboards Saturday night and it turns out, at least we ain't going hungry. Here are some highlights.
  • Proteins: chicken breasts, pork chops, ground beef, tuna
  • Carbs: flour, sugar, pasta, rice
  • Fats: mayo, butter, peanut butter, and about 5 kinds of oil

  • Other: beans, eggs, onions, garlic

We've also got some American slices and shredded cheddar cheese. And of course there's my considerable stash of herbs and spices. I'm pretty confident I can squeeze eight meals out of what's here. We've already had some fried rice, pancakes, and buttery noodles. (Not together. That's disgusting.) It'll be good for me, having to get all creative. Kind of an at-home edition of Chopped.

I foresee chicken quesadillas, red beans and rice, and tuna pasta salad for sure. Beyond that? I'll be winging it. There's a big pile of change on the dresser where Doug always empties his pockets. With that I'm pretty sure I can get a half-gallon of milk, which opens up some shells and cheese possibilities. That'll be yummy.

And yeah, I know, there aren't any veggies on that list. What can I tell you? This is when buying fresh bites you square in the ass. I haven't bought canned vegetables in ages. And since it's summer I don't have any frozen stuff on hand either. I found a bag of salad greens and some croutons. Make a little dressing and we're good to go.

Simple Italian Dressing

What I used:
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp shredded Parmesan
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp each of salt, sugar, and Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp each of paprika and black pepper
It doesn't get any easier than this. I have a cruet specifically for salad dressing, but any ol' bottle will totally work. Dump in everything, shake well, and pop in the fridge for at least an hour. Taste and re-season to your personal preference. It's probably worth mentioning that I'd ordinarily use 1/2 tbsp each of Parmesan and Romano, but that would violate the rules of my at-home Chopped challenge.

Tonight I'm fixing a couple of pork chops and some garlic cheddar mashed potatoes. That, with the salad, ought to make it feel like we're not broke at all. *Fingers crossed*

So it's looking to be a lively week here on Popcorn. Invent-a-meal seems like a fun game to play on the interwebs. This blog brings me a lot of joy. Do y'all realize that? I thank you for reading along with a crazy lady's ramblings.

Edited June 22: I wrote this up yesterday while the dressing was still chilling in the fridge.

Dude. Just check out that color!

When I took it out to taste it, I decided it was just too heavy, and a little too sweet. This is no doubt a result of using a fancy cold-pressed olive oil and that strong tasting red balsamic. I ended up adding about 1/4 cup of water, and a little more salt before serving.

Someday this will be a funny story

Before I get started on the bitch-fest for today:

First I seriously owe my dad an apology. I was so busy feeling lame and sorry for myself I completely spaced on Father's Day. Worst. Daughter. Ever. I'm really sorry, Dad. Please forgive me and have a wonderful Day After Father's Day. I love and miss you. Give me a call sometime when you're not busy. (Not busy? Ha.)

Second I wanted to respond to something Casey wrote yesterday. He rightly observed that one paycheck (especially a teacher's salary, *cough*) does not a middle class family make. Indeed. What I meant to say was, adding a second income to our household will go a long way toward getting us off this paycheck-to-paycheck hamster wheel. Of course, that only refers to our financial situation. We'll always be broke folk at heart.

Now, I know I promised I'd write about the bright side today. And I actually did, in the wee hours of this morning when I couldn't sleep for nothing. Maybe I'll publish what I just deleted later. But I'd be lying to y'all if I pretended I'm better today.

I think I might have been, if not for the phone call I just fielded. See, Doug drives this shitty old Chevrolet to work every day. I'm not hating. I love shitty old cars. I feel unspeakable anxiety when I'm driving too nice of a ride. But shitty old cars do shitty old car things sometimes. Like, springing radiator leaks. Like our Chevrolet chose to spring at this perfectly obnoxious moment.

And, I love you Douglas, but why on earth did you think I would want to know this immediately? I was just laying back down to try and steal a couple more hours of peaceful sleep. Scratch that off the list now. Damn and blast. Sure I needed to know by this afternoon, since I'll be driving out to pick you up from work in the Toyota, but you could have given me a morning's worth of ignorant bliss. It's not like there's anything I can do right now.

I think strong and reassuring just went out the window.

For now the Chevrolet will have to cool its wheels (see what I did there?) in the parking garage at Doug's office. Maybe later this week we'll fill up some empty bottles -- gotta rescue those from the trash, gross -- with water and limp it back home. And maybe a month from now we'll have the money to get the thing looked at. That is, unless anybody knows a gearhead in Atlanta who will work for food.

Deep breaths, kid. Deeeeep breaths... We've dug out of worse holes than this.

Oh, but on one brighter note, my darling Richard: I only just now saw your last reply to me on Twitter. My answer? Of course, silly! I've considered you a pretend boyfriend for ages now. I thought you knew! That is, as long as you're cool with joining a harem. :)

See, there was a joke right there. Recovery starts with a single punch line. Maybe I'll try to get some  more sleep after all...

Edited at 12:15 to add: Here is the text I just got from my husband.
Think I found the problem w/ the car. Cracked hose near connection to motor. I cut the hose and reattached. Gonna bring it home this afternoon. I'll let y know if I need you.
I'm shaking my head in amazement. If he can see the hose? We might can fix the thing ourselves. I could so use a break like this just now.

June 20, 2010

I should have seen it coming

I told y'all shit was too good to be true. Of course, I was stupidly awaiting catastrophe. But no, ohhh no, that would be too easy for my life. Instead the last couple of weeks have brought a relentless stream of aggravation, frustration, and disappointment. Smacked in the face by a meteor? Ha! Try, pecked to death by chickens.

I've been griping on AKoP about my ongoing saga with contacts and glasses. Hopefully that gets worked out this next week.

We bought curtains last Sunday. It's been hotter than Satan's nutsack in here, thanks to the sun blazing in at all hours. And temperature-wise, they're a marked improvement. But I can't bear to look at them; they're soul-suckingly ugly. Gross khaki panels that turn mustardy yellow when the sun shines behind them. No sheers, no tie-backs, no pretty rods or valences. Maybe I've watched too much HGTV in my life, but dammit I believe in window treatments. Function and form. Instead I got these...

The worst part is, we waited for weeks until Doug was sure we had the cash. Then, yesterday happened.

I went out for my hair appointment against my better judgment. I'd been thinking I should wait until my glasses drama is sorted. I got there early and lost all track of time flipping through style books. Next thing you know this woman comes in and says she's Morgan's 2:00 client. Hold up. I'm Morgan's 1:30 client. What time is it? Ten to two. So after I wasted that gas and my time I still decided to re-schedule. I don't want him rushing me. Better I should wait.

Annoyed, I came home to see if Doug wanted something to eat. We decided on Chinese, called it in, and drove out to pick it up. Here's where I'm actually glad I bailed on Morgan. Our fucking checking account was overdrawn. Debit declined. I guess we didn't have the cash for those monstrous curtains after all.

Y'all have no idea how much this horrifies me. I got no damned idea how we got in the hole, but our savings is shot and Doug doesn't get paid until Friday. We don't have any credit cards. You heard me. I fear debt like normal people fear disease.

Confession: I am useless when it comes to money. Doug has handled all our finances ever since we've been together. And he's been awesome at it. We have never overdrawn a checking account before, and it's been 10 year since we paid a bill late. But something has come over him lately. Twice this year AT&T has texted me saying our bill was past due. And now this? For whatever reason his head is suddenly not in the game. He has no explanation. Up until yesterday he just got defensive and pissy when I tried to get him to talk about it.

But this checking account thing, I can't even be mad. It's no fun to be mad at someone when they're utterly pissed at themselves. Which is another way of saying, I wish I didn't have to be strong and reassuring with him right now. I'd like to just be angry and disappointed myself.

I don't know, maybe we've just gotten ahead of ourselves. Come my first paycheck in August, we will finally join the middle class. We've been fantasizing about a car, a king size bed, and new clothes for us both. I do okay when I can pretend we're in our mid-20's -- just out of college, just getting started. Right where we need to be if you see it like that. But we've endured a long hard slog to get ourselves educated and employed. Want to know a secret? We're well past our mid-20's.

I'm done now. I could go on but I won't. Anyone who read this far into this whine festival now deserves a break. Tomorrow I'll try to write up the bright side.

June 08, 2010

By request: Margarita madness

One of my tweeps asked for an "economically friendly" 'rita recipe today. I am more than happy to oblige.

Classic Frozen Margarita

I use:
  • Lime wedge
  • Coarse salt (kosher salt works great)
  • 2 oz. tequila
  • 1 oz. triple sec
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • About 2 cups of ice
Cut a slit in the lime wedge, and use it to dampen the edge of a glass, then roll the rim in salt. Dump the remaining ingredients into the blender. Blitz in short bursts until the ice is crushed. Pour into the glass and garnish with the lime wedge.

Economically friendly: First, skip the fresh lime. Just wet your fingers and dampen the glass rim with plain water. Second, use prepackaged margarita mix instead of lime juice. Third, use a low-cost triple sec. The last place you want to cut corners is on the tequila. Plain old Cuervo Gold works fine and is reasonably priced. Mess around with rot-gut like Montezuma at your own risk.

Prefer your 'rita on the rocks? Mix the would-be blender ingredients in a shaker, and strain over ice.

Bottoms up!

June 04, 2010

Peach-perfect dessert

First, thank y'all for the good wishes on the new gig. Just putting it out there has done a world of good in terms of making it feel real. Now, on to the deliciosity.

So you live in Georgia. You (conveniently) love peaches. But you're married to a picky-face who hates nearly all fruit. Hates fruit! I know. I don't get it either. Anyway at the farmer's market peaches come in ridiculous quantities, which means you gotta get creative if they're not going to spoil.

Last summer I discovered this peach pound cake, which was awesome. This not-even-summer-yet it's already too hot in the kitchen for baking. So now what?

Peachy caramel ice cream topping

What you need:
  • 2 tbsp butter (not margarine)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Splash of water or peach schnapps
  • 1 peach, peeled and diced
Start by melting the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. As soon as it starts to bubble, add the brown sugar and stir. The brown sugar will melt, but the mixture will stay a bit gritty.

 It smells kinda strange. Be not deterred!

Here's where you add the water or peach schnapps. I didn't have the booze on hand so I used water. If you do try the schnapps, use a grill lighter to ignite and burn off the alcohol. The flavor will remain. Yum. Simmer until the mixture gets smooth, and coats your spoon.

 You can stop right now if you want plain caramel.

Now toss in the peaches and keep on cooking and stirring until the fruit is as soft as you like.

In hindsight, I should have cut these pieces smaller.

Spoon over ice cream, and if you're feeling fancy garnish with a peach slice.

I was decidedly not feeling fancy.

Yields enough topping for 5 or 6 scoops of ice cream.

Variations: I suspect apples, pears, and all kinds of berries would be super-yum in this recipe. Or try just about any fruit-flavored liqueur instead of/in addition to fresh fruit. Just be careful with that flambe, my friends. Scorched kitchen curtains have a terrible bouquet.

June 01, 2010

Yes I'm stalling

I know I promised a story about Charlotte, and the inimitable Jill Dineen Band. I'm stalling. Waiting for Marianne to hook me up with the sweet pictures she took. In the meantime have a look at how gorgeous my girl is, courtesy of the band's Facebook page:

I don't know who owns this image, but if it's you please claim it in the comments! I'm all about crediting artists for their work.

I bought some peaches at the farmer's market this weekend, and I have big plans for those. I'm stalling. Waiting for them to get a little more ripe. Because friends? A sour-ass under-ripe peach will make your cheeks suck in like a bite of black hole.

I hinted at another project I've been working on. I'm busting to tell y'all some really good news, but, you guessed it. I'm stalling. Waiting for final confirmation before I go shouting to the world.

Actually, you know what? Screw it.

I got a job. Awesome, right? Or at least, I got an offer. Cue the celebrations...

Check that. Instead, brace yourself for an avalanche of qualifying statements. Barring catastrophe, I'll be teaching and coaching speech at a local college. (I'm still working on a clever synonym to wall off this blog from their Google keywords.) If all goes well I start with a schedule of public speaking and business communication come fall. As long as nothing crazy happens, my team will be small and my travel schedule light. Lord willing and the creek don't rise, I'll see some of y'all at the Alabama tournament in October. I'm stretching now for qualifying statements. You get the drift though, yeah?

This is a brilliant opportunity. In fact, it's kind of a too-good-to-be-true opportunity. And my crazy can't cope. Instead of celebrating and looking forward, I'm seized with anxiety. It's been a bumpy couple of years for the old career after all. And a commensurate bumpy couple of years for the ego. I'm sorta waiting for a meteor to streak down out of the sky and smack me in the face. Perhaps metaphorically.

I do let myself get excited sometimes. Especially about my team. It seems they are young and small and virtually unheard of, which means we got no place to go but up. Aaand then I get paranoid, nervous that my insanely competitive nature will alienate rather than inspire. I got big ideas for this little program. I'm not sure how to present them in a way that won't turn off the rest of the staff. I don't want to come off like some Yankee know-it-all who's too big for her britches. Even if that's marginally true.

And now we come to the inevitable question for commenters. Any ideas about how to proceed? Seriously, your advice is welcome -- nay -- desperately yearned for.