PlazaJen: The Blog

Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

Category: food (page 1 of 4)

Pumpkin Muthahfuckin’ SPICE

Yeah, it’s White People Month when this stuff comes back to Starbucks, you know it, there’s 800 variations of memes and pictures and squeals of happy happy happy on Facebook once the Heralded Return Of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, like the swallows of Capistrano, baby. Now, I appreciate my over-priced, delicious beverages as much as the above-average-income JoCo soccer mom, but it’s got to be “right” to fully enjoy it. And daytime highs of upper 70’s/mid-80’s ain’t it. For me, Pumpkin Flavored-Everything Season starts when I feel a chill letting the dogs out in the morning, and I see my first red blaze of autumn leaves. Our weather has been unseasonable since summer began – a milder, cooler version of last year, so much so that I really worked hard not to bitch when we got some hot weather, because days on end of 100’+ weather was torturous. Now we’re warming up and cooling down and warming back up so the tomatoes keep on putting out fruit and it’s almost October.

Sometimes I think about how lovely it would be to live in certain climates, where it never freezes or blisters hot, where it’s sweatshirt-and-shorts weather most of the time, and I think that while I’d enjoy it, I wouldn’t love it the way I love a true Fall. Fall is my favorite season of all, despite it’s symbolism of death and decay and ripe life coming to an end, (boy I can really put a damper on shit, eh?) But I LOVE IT. It fuels me and buoys up my mood. The smell of leaves on the ground, moistened by a fall thunderstorm, turning into compost that will re-energize the ground next year. Puffs of smoke from chimneys, the smell of wood in the air, it alerts the senses. Sounds around us change, the wind sweeps through branches and bring a shuffling of paper, the natural evolution from the velvety sounds of green leaves rustling in a summer’s breeze. As the humidity leaves, sounds become sharper, unmuffled by the damp air and heat that keeps windows shut and doors pushed tightly closed. Fall ushers in a return to cooking; soups and stews and warm dishes that take on the new flavors of squashes and root vegetables, complemented by the harvests of summer, transformed into jarred and frozen bags of produce that bring the brightness of summer’s hot sun to bursting flavor in chili, peppers and tomatoes taking on new forms. And it brings with a renewed desire to knit, to work with wool, to create and draw the calm from the meditative repetition of needles and yarn moving in unison.

So, Pumpkin Season, I realize you’ve “Arrived”, and I still love you, but you’re going to have to wait until it’s truly time.

Prepperville: Population ME

Not that kind of prepper, by the way; I don’t believe the US is going to descend into madness and all the utilities will be shut off while we have a new zombie-esque revolution. I’m talking about meal prepping for the week, and holy hell, it does take a chunk of work & here’s hoping it pays off!

Between yesterday & today, I’ve made a double batch of meat sauce (using frozen home-grown tomatoes and home-canned tomato sauce), chopped vegetables and ham for split pea soup (Crock Pot Monday!), assembled lasagna (tonight’s dinner), made 2 batches of pate fermente for sourdough French bread, two loaves to be baked tonight, one batch of pate fermente into the fridge to have with spaghetti later in the week; taco meat made/seasoned/stored, fresh spinach picked for the lasagna and the hot & sour soup with pork dumplings we had for lunch today, made a baked strawberry-cream cheese French toast for breakfast, and a cream o’ goodness chicken dish we served over spaghetti squash last night. I’ve run the dishwasher like a maniac and I prefer to clean as I go, so the kitchen isn’t too bad, just the mixer bowl to hand-wash and unload the dishwasher yet again.

Whew! I also prepped for the work week ahead, typing up all my notes on an evaluation for one project, and all my summaries for a presentation tomorrow afternoon.

Now, to wait for the cake to finish and to bake the bread. Oh, yeah. There will be cake. Followed by collapse. Prepping is serious bidness! I can’t imagine how much work it would take to prep for the apocalypse!

Shopping…Like Childbirth?

Because apparently if you don’t go out during the crazy for a few years, the mind blurs and the memories fade and you think, “It can’t be that bad!” I hear this phenomena applies to childbirth, so why not post-Thanksgiving shopping?

I didn’t go out on Black Friday. Or Black Thursday. I mean, sure, I’d love a set of $35 king-size, 600-threadcount sheets, but if that’s the only thing that appeals to me, I don’t see getting trampled, shoved or waiting for an hour worth the savings. I did, however, venture out on Saturday, primarily to go to The Olive Tree, to celebrate Small Business Saturday, and then… because it’s been months and months and months…. Joann’s.  My BFF Beth even screeched at me on the phone when I said I was headed there. “Don’t you remember your blog post?! That’s crazy!” Yes, I remembered it… vaguely. But I needed a few crafty things, and Joann’s was the destination, what with three coupons, one for 25% off my entire purchase. WHY NOT?! WHAT COULD GO WRONG?!

Well, I’m surprised I made it into the store, because the fun started in the parking lot. If a car has stopped, with its turn signal on, and is waiting for the oncoming car to pass so they can turn? Should the oncoming car just pull right in, turning in front of them? NOT IN MY WORLD, MOTHERFUCKERS.  So that set the tone.

Once I got in, I knew that there would be no fabric purchasing. Not that I’d planned on it, but fabric purchasing at Joann’s is certainly one of the inner rings of hell. They’ve rearranged to make a central place (outsmarting my old trick of “go to the home dec fabric department!”) but everyone stands around with their tickets and their 8 million fucking bolts of polar fleece, and the clerks announce the numbers…repeatedly, because some people just wander off because the universe, apparently, revolves around them. So no fabric. I needed some ribbon, thread, crafty things, beads, and a glue gun. I impulse-purchased some silicone molds because they’ll be useful for jello shots AND my upcoming cookie exchange, and found myself wandering the bead section for most of my time there. I almost (ALMOST) cut a bitch who thought she’d hang out in the notions aisle (by the thread) (and by the fabric cutting area, already jammed) and TEXT MESSAGE.  BITCH YOU IS IN THE WAY! She was also one of the passengers in the aforementioned car, so residual rage was at work. I ended up helping a lady in jewelry supplies, because she didn’t realize there was more than one aisle (good luck to her and her journey in life), and then I got in line. Fortunately, they were heavily-staffed, and the line moved quickly, so I got out of there with only a fraction of the surly I expected to have by the time I’d paid.

As for The Olive Tree, I would encourage anyone with a foodie in their life to give them a visit – they’re in Hawthorne Plaza (parking there is always entertaining, I got a great spot but when I was leaving, some old man almost took out my back end because even though I was halfway backed out, by god, he had to GIT SOMEWHERE NAO). They’ve got amazing flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars  (I got Rosemary-Lavender Olive Oil and Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar), smoked & flavored salts, lots of other local food purveyors sell their goods (I nabbed a bag of some of THE best toffee I’ve ever had), and they even do bonuses, like if you spend $50, you get to pick from a basket of small-size oils/vinegars to sample. (Persian Lime olive oil!)  We know the owners of the store through the ever-burgeoning foodie/gardener scene here in Kansas City, and they do great corporate gifts, gift boxes for the chef in your life, and are a font of knowledge on using all of their products. I can also safely say that I’ve NEVER wanted to cut a bitch while shopping there, which is like, the greatest ringing endorsement I can give during this crazy holiday season! (Seriously, though, they’re awesome. They need to stick around and be here 10 years from now. Go! Online order if you’re not local!)

 

Reclaiming One’s Youthful Spirit

Yeah, that’s what it’s called. We went out to The Brick last night, had a blast – caught the tail end of Howard Iceberg & the Titanics, saw our friends Hillary & Tommy perform in their band, “The Hillary Watts Riot”, and then our friend Camry was in the last band, “The Sexy Accident”.  Since the first band was slated to start at 9:30, I knew we had plenty of time to get there, so we went out to dinner at The Beacon on the way there. It’s weird to go out to dinner at 9 pm in the Midwest, and while I’d been pining for Chai Shai, their kitchen closes at 9. In any event, we had a great meal, headed down to the Brick, saw people, were seen, made new friends, had a great time just listening to music, sipping a beverage, people-watching. I also did an amazeballs job of parallel parking, if we’re recounting ALL the wins of the evening.

At one point, I leaned over to James and said, “OK, wearing a kilt is cool. Very cool.”

pause.

“But if you’re also drinking PBR when you’re wearing one, does it make you a hipster?”

He laughed, and while he couldn’t say if that particular formula was a hipster recipe, he did observe there were a number of hipsters around us. (In the wild! I felt like Jane Goodall.) I said, “Am I a hipster?” and he laughed even harder.

“No.”

“Why not? It’s because I’m fat, isn’t it. You can’t be fat and be a hipster, can you.”

Maybe part of being a hipster is caring a little too much about how you… present oneself, all the way down to what you drink and the brand of shoes? I dunno.  I did feel like I really needed about 3 large tattoos to “blend in”, that’s for sure. And the dogs were completely perplexed by our atypical hours – what is this, 2:30 a.m. and you’re just going to bed?

Well, they sure didn’t hold back at 6 am, 7 am, and finally I gave up around 8 am and hauled my un-hipster ass out of bed to let them out, make coffee & head to the garden to collect a basket of veggies to whip into a mega-breakfast scramble. Now, I bet on the cooking front, I can outpace any damned hipster there is. I sauteed home-grown garlic, onions, kale, peppers, tomatoes & tossed in some potato, eggs, spicy beef sausages & cheese for a smashingly flavorful, vitamin-packed breakfast.

Oh, and I had to take a two-hour nap before we could even go out. Definitely not a hipster.

Tomatoes in the News!