Saturday, December 29, 2007

it's a cel-e-bration!

Hi y'all! I hope you've all had happy and satisfying holidays. I definitely have. I only have a sec now (but hope to find some time to write tomorrow), but just wanted to give a shout-out to a few peeps who are celebrating personal holiday-style today.

The first, my dear, dear love, the K-Bear, Caleb, K-lip--mommy's baby tulip, CornNibblet, Kipper, the Kippopotamus, Kibbit, PunkinPie...aka my #1 dog. As in, I am hangin' with my literal dog. It's his birthday! He's 12 years old today! I first met him when he was but three days old, on New Year's Eve 1995. He looked like a blind hamster. The next time I met him he looked like a little old man puppy. The next time after that he came home with me. We've been inseparable since. He is full of 100% pure sweetness and love. We've so far commemorated the day with Happy Hips treats, Canine Carryout treats, my famous "dog casserole" (contains no actual dog), pig ears, and extra-big and frequent walks in the park. Happy birthday, baby boy.

Here's us holding paws:

Here's when he was taste-testing my homemade dog treats (he gave them two paws up, way up, btw):

Here's the picture that was featured on Dozen's website a while back when he was enjoying a doggie cupcake (speaking of Dozen, it's their 1st birthday today!):

And, I have a really cute picture of him on xmas, but I don't have a way to get the pictures out of my computer at the mo'.

And, another person celebrating today is my pal Kara. She just graduated! I'm actually heading out in a minute to celebrate with her. Woo hoo! Congrats, grad!

Also, last but not least, yesterday was Nowlzie's birthday! (she and the k-bear are both Capricorns). Tonight is her bowling birthday party. I so much wish I could be there, but alas, it's in Brooklyn.

I hope she is having this much fun:

Friday, December 21, 2007

thank you for being a friend

Seriously. I'm a lucky lady. I've been down in the dumps lately with the brokeness and the sickness and the carlessness. But, every time I think that I just can't do this crazy thing called life, a friend swoops in and does something amazing, and makes life just a little bit easier and a little bit better.

Last week I got the amazing gift of the lil' laptop from Alex. Ani just lent me her car for a few days (you saved me, girl!). A few days ago I got rescued by Mags (which made her feel important), and she has a tendency to swoop in at all the right times. E-dawg has been hauling my ass around everywhere, and is always up for (nerdy) fun. A Hurd keeps me in good times (and liquor). Kramer makes lunchtime deliveries of deliciousness on her bike. Dan keeps me in inappropriate humor and car advice from afar. Big Al keeps me in jams and snappy wit. Kara makes gorgeous, beautiful food. Schwattzie-Bear is my rock, and she gives me more than I could ever express. Nowlzie brings the noise and da funk. B-dub gives me a year's worth of hi-larious catch phrases. T-Dub and Leslie make my world a little brighter, a little better, a little more interesting, a lot tastier. Dra has been amazing all year long (and I so owe her a long-overdue email or call). The K-Bear and the China-bear keep me full-up with 100% pure love. Ashley keeps me in the loop for cool-nerd-pop culture. And, so many others of you brighten my days often--through emails or calls or comments on this-here blog. I adore each and every one of you. For real and really, really. Sometimes when I'm in the midst of a mini-crisis I forget how truly lucky I am.

I hope to post (sporadically) over the next week or so. In the mean time, I hope you all have a fabulous holiday, and get to spend it exactly the way you want to.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

it's all about perspective (and minty fresh feet)

Okay. I'm better today. It'll all work out with the car crap, and luckily I have generous friends and family that have been/will haul my sorry ass around when I need it for a little bit longer. I've already promised E-dawg that I will give her one gagillion rides and when I finally get some wheels.

Deep breath.

Ugh. That made me have a coughing fit. Several shallow breaths will have to do.

And, speaking of coughing, I got an email from one of the women in my queer book club (who heard me hacking at our meeting last week, and again at the queer dinner on Monday) a couple of days ago. She'd read this thing that she thought might help. It was this article about how the soles of your feet can absorb essential oils very well. And, the article suggested that you could rub a raw garlic clove on the sole of your foot and then "taste" it about 20 minutes or so later. So, anyway, it said that to get relief from a deep and persistent cough, you could slather some Vick's vap-o-rub on the soles of your feet, cover them with socks, and then your cough should cease in a few minutes. Well, I've been coughing horribly for a couple weeks now (seriously, my whole body is sore from the violence of the coughing), so I'm willing to try anything. So, I tried it night before last. And, you know what? Within a couple of minutes my coughing stopped, and stayed stopped for a few hours. Then I reapplied, and had the first full night of sleep I've had since I got this dang cold. And, the really weird thing? After about an hour, I had this taste in my mouth like I'd just smoked a menthol cigarette! Freaky! But, now I'm totally hooked. Yesterday when I got home from work, I took a hot shower (to open up the pores), then slathered that shit on, then covered them in socks and blankets, and watched several episodes of Buffy. Now, that is my idea of a good time. For reals. Thank you, Janice, and thank you, Vicks!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

never mind. there are no such things as happy days.


Well, I didn't get the car. The credit union had misunderstood something about the guy's situation (he still owes on the car, so we have to do a buy-out), so didn't make the checks correctly, yada, yada, yada...I can still get the car, but it's going to take two weeks (and maybe even longer because of the holidays. bah humbug). I just started crying in the AAA. It didn't help that I'd gotten dropped off there by a coworker, and was stranded a long way from home and suffering keen disappointment and frustration.

Luckily Mags was working with a client in Monroeville, and able to come rescue me. And, she's also helping me get home (to West Virginia) for the holidays, too. I'm going to ride with her to Morgantown, then my step-dad will pick me up there, and take me the rest of the way (and do the same for the return). So, I guess it's not the end of the world, but when I was standing in the Monroeville AAA last night, it sure felt like it. Buying a car with little money, not-great credit and a lack of experience with the accompanying bureacracy is challenging. So much so that I was ready to abandon the idea of buying a car, and just throwing myself in front of one instead.

I hate the lack of autonomy when you don't have a car. I feel like a jerk asking for rides all the time, and feel trapped when I need to get somewhere and it's going to take hours on the bus. Pittsburgh's bus system? Not so great. Especially now that they've effed up their website with some stupid ad that obscures the area where you search for schedules (which is already a very poor tool indeed). (If you need to use the "tool", you can turn off the images, and get to the fields beneath. But, what a pain in the ass in using an already very cruddy site). PAT, I hate you and you can suck it.

I am sad. Sometimes life feels really hard. I know that I sound like an idiot and a whiner. I know that there are billions of people out there in way worse shape than I am. I know that I am fortunate in a myriad of ways. But, sometimes I just feel very alone and very ill-equipped for life. Of course, I'm also mid-period and mid-winter, which always help to bring on the ol' woe-is-me complex.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

happy days are here again!

I'm still holding my breath and refraining from counting chickens until I'm actually driving away, which should happening in mere hours, but...I got a car!!

(this isn't the actual one, but it looks like this)
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I'm so, so, so (cautiously) happy!

The process of shopping and buying a car is not pleasant at all (a serious understatement), but I've learned a lot.

Also, fyi, blue cars are chosen by the more introspective, reflective and cautious driver. Just sayin'.

Also, I am in love with my little XO laptop! And, everyone I've shown it to is in love, too. The nerds at my office almost staged a riot at my desk vying for their turn at playing with it. And, as a result of showing it off (both here and other places), several peeps are going to make the donation and get one for their only selves!

And, I feel better than I've felt in a week! I've still got the disturbing cough, but I'm feeling pretty okay.

Heck, at this rate, I might even get my kitchen cleaned up this week and do some cooking!

Last night the "Queers: They're What's For Dinner!" monthly dinner that I organize for the queer ladies in da 'Burgh. We have it at the Gypsy Cafe, and it's always delicious and a good time. If you want to get in on the fun for next month, email me and I'll get you hooked up with the deets.

In other news, I'm kinda obsessed with Buffy. I wasn't sure about it at first, but now I can't stop thinking about it. I should have a netflix when I get home. That's how I'm going to celebrate the new wheels. With Buffy. Now, I'm not obsessed to the point I was with Queer As Folk, and it hasn't made me want to do it to ridiculously hot gay men, but still. It's a good time.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

back in action!

Woah. It's been some week. Delirious highs, staggering lows. And, I'm serious about the delirium. I was dog-sick all week. I was off Thursday all day from work, and took off early Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Phew! I'm still coughy and a bit tired, but I'm starting to be able to breathe through my nose and move around without getting dizzy and sweaty again. That is progress.

Also, I went car-shopping again today, and I'm cautiously optimistic that I may've found a car. I'll give details when/if it actually materializes. But, today I looked at cars being sold by individuals instead of dealers, and it couldn't have been a more different experience than the one I had last weekend. These people were nice, helpful and genuine. What a refreshing change!

And, then I came back home to find a box sitting on my steps. It was from my friend Alex, and contained one of these:
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If you don't know what that is, it's an XO laptop. You've probably heard something about this program over the past couple of years on NPR, the news, and the like. The mission of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is to give children in the developing world laptops to give them educational opportunities they may never otherwise have. A quote from their site is "to help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege." It's pretty amazing. And, they're currently running a promotion that if you donate the XO laptop, then you can also receive one for "the child in your life". I am the child in Alex's life. And, I'm so, so grateful that I am! This little machine is totally amazing. Alex is totally amazing. She's at it again, being generous and doing good deeds, all the way from Poland. (Annnnd, after some, uh, to-be-unnamed slacker never got a care package in the mail to her. d'oh.) You can find out more about this amazing organization, including donation information, here.

So, yeah. It's been an action-packed week. I also paid a visit to Hoi Polloi a couple days ago, paid up from the dine-n-dash incident (my not-so-secret shame), got some delicious cream-of-mushroom soup, a grilled cheese and some hot tea. And, some fantastic service from Hoi Polloi fella, Daniel.

And, the queer book club had our holiday meeting and gifty book exchange meet-up extravaganza this week, too. We'd read Kate Bornstein's Gender Outlaw, and had a great discussion (seriously, the best/most literary book club I've ever been involved with), exchanged our book-gifts, and picked our next selection--Claire Messud's The Emperor's Children. It sounds like a good one. (If you're interested in joining the book club, send me an email and/or post a comment with how to email you).

Peeps, life is good. Sometimes I forget that, and often I lose focus, but I do believe it. I'm lucky to have wonderful friends, a fantastic family, a good job, and now all the little things are starting to fall into place. I'm looking over the last year, and see that I made some significant progress, had some setbacks, learned a lot and am grateful for it all. Sometimes I get to feeling really low and small and frustrated and embarassed at feeling that I've fallen behind my peers in this ol' game of life. But, it's all interesting, it's all, ultimately, good. And, I'm trying, really trying, to opt for personal growth as I can. I want to recommit to the commitment I made to myself at the start of 2007. I'll post more about this soon. I'm still pondering. But, the overall feeling is that, indeed, life is good.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

oh, lordy.

You know what? Yesterday I had the most hits on this-here blog of any day since I've started counting. I'm guessing it's because you, dear readers, hate used car salesmen as much as I do. In fact, with the reputation they've got, doesn't it seem like they'd try to correct that? I'd like to see some overcompensating used car salesmen trying to make good. You know, stuff like not ripping people off, not lying, not being total jerks. I'd buy stuff from them if they did that. Instead I'm just still dreading the next round out with the sleazy jokers. I will not, for sure, be stopping by Monroeville Kia. They can suck it.

I actually had to go there last night to drop off the car I was using until "my" car was ready. It took everything in me not to drive it through the ginormous glass display window onto the showroom floor. But, I didn't. I wanted to, but I didn't. That's just how virtuous I am.

And, now I'm sick. It actually started on Saturday, the very day I spent with all those a-holes. (Coincidence? I think not). But, now it's blossomed into a body-shaking chest cold/cough sort of thing. Yet, it's a dry cough, so it hurts, but is getting me nowhere. Except sent home. In the last few hours I was at work, every passerby suggested I get the hell out of here As Soon As Possible. So, I'm busting a move soon, and hopefully it'll be a quick bus ride, and I'll soon be nestled under covers, in bed. I wish I had some "Buffy", but the next discs aren't due from Netflix until tomorrow or Thursday. Dang.

(Ashley--aren't you excited I'm watching Buffy? I'm getting ready to start Season 6).

I set out some soup base (a veg/tomato broth) to thaw (the base from the "peasant soup" I made not long ago), so I think I'll just throw in some veggies and cook it a bit, and it'll be ready soon with little effort.

Now, if I could only whip up my mom as easily. That's what I really want when I'm sick. I want to be babied. By my mom. Accept no substitutes.

Monday, December 10, 2007

i hate car salesmen

Well, I thought that I was going to be writing about a tale of triumph today because I thought I bought a car on Saturday. I managed to get a car loan approval from my credit union, and spent all morning Saturday looking at cars, then spent all afternoon (with the Hurd, god bless 'her) negotiating, signing paperwork, etc.

I was set to pick up my brand new [to me] car today after work.

And, then...

Well, they effed me. The car isn't in sale-able condition, and the deal is off.

Never buy a car from Monroeville Kia.

I had other stuff to write about, but now I'm so depressed about this that I just need to go cry.

Friday, December 7, 2007


Oh, dang.

Well, last night E-dawg, Mags and I went to Hoi Polloi to check out the space, get a cuppa and a snack, and see how Sandra and Jessica were doing on their opening day. We'd all been there for a Halloween party when the space was still very much in transition, so I was pleasantly surprised by how finished everything looked! The gals looked a little exhausted, but were fantastic hostesses, along with Jessica's younger brother Daniel who is working there for them (and such a polite young fella!). (oh wow, just was checking the link I added above for Hoi Polloi, and see our picture's on their site already!). It's a really warm and inviting space, has a good mix of simple, wholesome offerings on the menu and it's in the North Side! woot!

I had a decaf coffee, a currant scone, a garden salad (which was truly beautiful) and a grilled cheese (which was perfectly cheesy and perfectly grilled). I can't believe I didn't think to take my camera to snap some pics for the ol' blog! time.

In fact, we got so caught up in chatting and eating and enjoying that we left as they were closing, and uh, E-dawg and I accidentally dined and dashed. Sheesh. But, we promised to show back up for more good times and to pay up soon, and they promised not to send their henchmen out after us.

(Actually, they haven't actually emailed/called me back yet, so the henchmen are possibly on their way).

I only dine-n-dash friends. Awww...

Aiight, have a good weekend, peeps. TGIF!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

simple is as simple does

Okay, so I was trying to come up with a title for today's post about simple food and preparations, and that's what I came up with. And, then I realized that I'm calling myself simple. Ah well.

Anyhow, I was just thinking about ways to make really quick, healthy-ish, tasty dinners. When I get home from work I'm often ravenous, and if I don't have leftovers for the day before I sometimes find it hard to have the patience to take the time to cook up something good. Tuesday night was one of those nights. I got home, walked the dog, pet the cat, and found myself staring blankly at a ridiculously over-stuffed refrigerator and pantry shelves thinking "I don't have anything to eat!". And, that was half-true. I didn't have anything prepared to eat, but I did have (do have) tons of food with lots of kinetic meal-stuff stored up inside 'em.

So, I first made a snack to tide me over until dinner was ready. Some of my leftover biscuits with jam. (have I mentioned that I love these biscuits?)

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Then I scrubbed up a couple of sweet potatoes, poked them with a fork a few times (to let the steam escape), wrapped them in foil, and baked them at 350 for an hour. When they were done, I opened them up, and decided to make them into sorta twice-baked potatoes. So, I scooped out the flesh, and mashed with a little maple syrup (3-4 T.), a pat of butter (you could easily leave this out or use Earth Balance to make this vegan, unless you're a maple syrup-eschewing vegan, that is), a shake or two of cinnamon, ditto for cayenne, cumin/coriander (I have a spice blend that has both). I topped them with chopped pecans, and stuck them back in the oven for a bit while I was making my greens.

A couple weeks ago I had some really fantastic sauteed greens at Leslie's. I can't remember exactly how she did them, but this was an homage to that meal, and also because I love the word "garlicky".

Garlicky Sauteed Kale
(you could sub any green leafies for the kale, makes 2 big servings)

1 bunch kale, washed and chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with some coarse sea salt
1-2 T. olive oil
red pepper flakes
malt vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat a skillet of medium heat. Add the olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, and cook for a few minutes, but don't brown the garlic. Throw in the greens, and stir around to get all the leaves coated in the olive oil. Cover, and cook about twenty minutes, or until tender but al dente (time will vary if you're using other greens). Splash with a few shakes of malt vinegar. Enjoy!

It was exciting to have this really beautiful and easy meal with very little effort!
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What are your favorite last minute or lazy evening meals?

Oh! Oh! Oh! Big news!

My pals Sandra and Jessica just opened their cafe, Hoi Polloi, today! Check out a great article on Pittsburgh Dish here.
They're serving coffee, veg food, smoothies and good times. It's at the corner of Galveston (if you want to fit in as a true NorthSider, you'll pronounce that: gal-VES-ton) and North Ave. North Side represent! And, it's walking distance from Zeke's house, so whenever I'm there, I'm, like, totally there!

Speaking of Zeke's house, he and I just decided that we're going to host a little New Year's Eve soiree. Just a small thing, but hopefully fun! Now, I need to figure out what kinds of snacks to make. And, what I can make early and freeze... That is what I call fun!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Crankful is how you feel when you're full of crank. Uh, I mean crankiness, not, like, methamphetamines.

Today the downfall of being a non-driver hit hardcore. Since I live in an out-of-the-way neighborhood there's only one bus that services it, and it only comes every so often. So, you gotta count on it. But, this morning, due to the cruddy weather and snowy roads it was late. Which meant that I stood outside in the bitter cold for about twenty minutes waiting for it. And, it also meant that I missed my second bus, and subsequently had to wait another half-hour in the cold for the next round. And then, I was on the bus forever this morning because traffic was moving so slowly. GRRR! Not the way to start a day.

So, in search of ways to elevate my mood I bused into Squill today at lunch to hit the library (a book I'd requested and wanted to read for a while, Julie and Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen by Julie Powell, was in), Dozen (it's raspberry zinger day) and rustle up some lunch. I'd made a similar lunchtime journey yesterday, and had a truly disappointing lunch at Uncle Sam's, so I was determined to Get Something Good today. I often go to Bangkok Balcony for lunch, so I thought I'd check out their sister restaurant, Silk Elephant, today. But, much to my surprise and disappointment, they actually have the same exact lunch menu! Is that wise? Having two restaurants within a couple blocks of one another (neither of whom is doing a brisk lunch business) with the same menu? I vote no. But anyhow, I ordered my usual, but then found out the only difference between the two eateries (at lunch, anyway), is that a level 5 spiciness at Bangkok Balcony is not the same as a level 5 spiciness at Silk Elephant. I'd put SE's closer to a 7 or 8. Ouch! (why does Silk Elephant have a website, but Bangkok Balcony doesn't? weird).


Also, I forgot my camera card today with my photos from last night's cookin'. Ah well. Tomorrow is a another day.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

despite my best intentions

Well, I had big plans last night for cooking up some grub so I'd have lunch and dinner for today, at least. But, I got home, had some dinner, read a little, decided to flip on the TV just for a minute, and the next thing I knew my alarm was going off this morning. This guy was all worned out!

But, it made for an easy morning awakening this morning. I'm not even sure what time I fell asleep last night, but early. I feel pretty rested. (Except when I just typed "rested", I yawned).

I just checked Dozen Cupcakes website to find out the scoop on when their new shop in Lawrenceville is opening (January 2008, by the way), and found out that their going to do more than cupcakes; they're going to do all manner of baked goods, and even have a Sunday brunch! I love brunch! It's the best meal of the week! And, I have complete confidence in any Dozen venture. I think James, the fella in charge, is a peach, and their cupcakes are divine (my current favorites are the Raspberry Zinger and the Snowball). Plus, I also found a fantastic video they have on their site. Check 'er out! I love that there's a Dozen coming a little bit closer to, if only the next-next shop would open in Troy Hill...

On a completely different note, any Euchre players in the house? Maggie and I are long-time players, and we taught the e-Dawg last year, now we just need a fourth. I was thinking of setting it up for some early Sunday evening(s) at my pad, making dinner, playing some cards, good times. Right on.

I just ran up to the library on my lunch break, and picked up a copy of a cookbook I'd requested, Fresh Everyday by Sara Foster. One of my favorite Pittsburgh food bloggers says it's one of her favorite cookbooks, so I'm really looking forward to it. And, I also stopped by the bookstore to pick up current copies of Food and Wine and Cooks Illustrated. I love, love, love reading cookbooks and food magazines. And, now I have more reading time since I'm busing it, to make up for the reading time squandered on the altar of the cable television.

In other news, I have two new favorite bands, but don't yet own anything by them. One of them is for babies. Like, literally. (But, I often share tastes with babies--you know, soft-n-fuzzy outfits, sleeping, boobs). They're so sweet. Renee and Jeremy (that's twice in this post that the inability to use ampersands on the blog client has stifled me! grr!). My favorite song is "It's a Big World". You can listen here. My other new favorite band is Beirut. Check 'em out, and listen here.

Okay, that's quite enough outta me.

Monday, December 3, 2007

ps. The Gooch is an international sensation!

You all might remember me mentioning my pal The Gooch every now and again (when I kick her ass at Scrabble)? Well, a month or two ago she started a website called One Cold Hand. This mission of the website is this:

“ is a project that connects the Pittsburgh community through one unfortunate event – the loss of a glove. This site creates a method for dealing with the conundrum of finding these lost articles. Do you leave it and hope the owner comes back to find it? Do you pick it up? Throw it away? With, the abandoned object now becomes a symbol of benevolence and hope."

[coincidentally and interestingly, my friend Dylan has been photographing single lost gloves in NYC for the past few years, but they're not related projects].

So, she started getting some media attention in the local papers and stuff, and then it blew up! She's interviewed in the New York Times! And, will be interviewed today for the BBC! And, for various TV stations (she told FOX TV to shove off! heh!). Check out the site!

She needs volunteers for picking up drop-boxes around town, and I'm sure lots of other related tasks since she's all busy being famous. And, you can get stickers, too, for when you find some lost-n-lonely gloves.

Go, Gooch, Go!

car, schmar

I have to say, for my first car-less weekend, and weather that was not necessarily ideal, I had a heck of a good time! Friday I went about my shopping with determination and ferocity. I hit the co-op first, then the Giant Eagle, and then...well, by then the room in my backseat and my patience were pretty much gone, so I headed home. I put all the groceries away, made some breakfast-for-dinner and retired to watch some netflixes and cable. Good times.

Breakfast-for-Dinner was roasted potatoes, fried eggs and toast. I got these beautiful little local fingerling potatoes at the co-op. They were gorgeous! The flesh was brilliantly golden and the skin was red, so while I was cutting them up I kept thinking that they looked so much like peaches that my mouth kept watering for juicy peachiness, and then I'd remember that they were potatoes. Seriously, look!
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So, I heated up the oven to 350, tossed the potatoes with some herbs de Provence, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and salt and pepper, and put them in for about 15 minutes. At that time, I took them out, tossed them again with some onions, garlic and fresh parsley and rosemary, and stuck them back in for another 15 minutes. In the meantime, I chopped up more parsley, and mixed that with some lemon zest and coarse sea salt, and topped the potatoes with that when they came out of the oven.
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So, here's my breakfast-for-dinner:
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Saturday was a lovely day! E-dawg picked me up in the morning, and we hit the East Liberty Farmers Market, which operates indoor year-round. It was small, but fantastic! I got so much good stuff. Check it:
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l-r, clockwise:
sweet potato gnocchi, sweet potatoes, black walnuts, garlic (two kinds, one regular, one that's little and supposedly stronger, but I forget the name), turnips, dried sweet corn, brussels sprouts. Now, that's a good haul from a wintertime farmers market in the 'Burgh, you know?

Then we hit the Strip for oodles of more delights. I didn't photo them, but I got a bunch of cheese from Penn Mac (brie de meux, beemster, Black Diamond sharp white cheddar), some almonds, some baguette, some beautiful fluffy tortillas from Reyna's, and some treats from Cafe Richard. I got a spinach-feta-sundried tomato quiche, a couple croissant and a coconut tart. All fantastic. And, when I got home, I got a call from a WV friend, Jeffron, who was in Pittsburgh for a few hours, so he came over and shared my quiche and some of my leftover roasted potatoes, and we sat around drinking coffee and playing cards for a few hours.

Then Hurd and I hit the town early-evening, old lady-style. We went to Verdetto's 'cause Hurd had a hankering for their delectable mac-n-cheese triangles, but alas, they're not serving food on the weekends (whack). But some old guys bought us shots of some Slovokian liquor that tasted a little like Jaegermeister. Then, we continued our downward spiral by hitting up Donny's for dinner. Yes, you read that correctly: Donny's for dinner. (Thankfully) their kitchen was also not open. Then we rolled up to my 'hood, and went to Billy's. Now, it's only a mere five-ish blocks from my house, but I don't frequent it. But, we had a really nice time! We got some pretty good pub grub, cheap beer, and friendly service. I have decided that this will be our gang's new hang-out since I can walk to it. Pass it on. Billy's is where it's at.
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Sunday was an inside day. The weather was cruddy, but I had cable to keep me warm. And, I've been craving a veggie version of biscuits and gravy for a while. Leslie told me about some gravy a friend of hers makes, and gave me an outline of how to make it. So, I made a recipe of Heidi's cornmeal biscuits from Cook 1.0. They are tender and delicious!

Cornmeal Biscuts [ek: this is not a "light" recipe by any stretch, but good enough to splurge!]
(from Heidi Swanson's Cook 1.0: A Fresh Approach to the Vegetarian Kitchen)
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Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Into a large bowl or food processor, sift:
3 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. salt
2 T. baking powder
1/2 c. finely ground cornmeal

To dry ingredients add:
1 c. chilled butter, cut into 1/4" chunks.
Using a pastry cutter or 25 quick pulses of a food processor, blend until mixture resembles tiny, sandy pebbles.

With a fork, stir in the following until just combined:
2 c. milk (lowfat is fine)

Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased nonstick baking sheet. Brush the biscuit tops with a bit of egg white and sprinkle with a dusting of cornmeal.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven until the tops and bottoms are golden, roughly 12 minutes. [ek - I got about 2 dozen biscuits out of this]


And, for the gravy, Leslie said that her friend Mary makes it by:

(from Leslie's email description)
First sauté some onion, garlic, mushrooms and chopped up frozen veggie sausage links (don't thaw) until nice and browned. Remove from pan. Then make a roux with butter and flour. Toast your roux for a few minutes over medium heat, then toss in a good sized handful of brewers' yeast. Toast in pan for a few minutes until fragrant.

Slowly add milk (maybe ½ - 1 cup…see how it looks in the pan, depending on how much brewers yeast you use), cayenne pepper (if you like a nice kick), black pepper and white pepper (I like a spicy gravy). Get crazy and add a little sage or thyme, if you like.

Stir until thickened, serve on sweet potato biscuits! (my favorite)

So, here's what I did:
Sauteed 1/2 an onion with a clove of garlic and about 8oz of white mushrooms (stems removed), diced, with a little butter. I added some (about half the package) Gimme Lean (sausage-style) and browned/chunked it up. And some fresh thyme. In another pan, I made a roux with some butter and flour, then stirred in some Brewer's yeast. You may remember that I am afraid of making roux, and with good reason. It always turns too thick and pasty and floury. This time was no exception. When I started adding in the milk, it just turned into a thick paste., I got a larger skillet, and warmed the milk in there, then slowly added little bits of the butter/flour mixture (the roux, sorta), and just whisked until there were no lumps and it was a nice thickness/viscosity. Then added in the brewers yeast, cayenne and black/pink pepper. Oh, and some freshly ground nutmeg! I love nutmeg in cream sauces. Then, added in my sausage-mushroom mixture (with a splash of marsala), and cooked it a little longer. It was still a little too thick, so I added a little water until it was the right consistency. Salt to taste. It is sooooooooo good! Exactly what I'd been wanting! And, I felt like a champ for rescuing the roux.
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Seriously, it is so good that my stomach just growled writing about it, and I have more (yay!), and I'm really excited to have it for dinner tonight. The biscuit recipe made enough biscuits to share, and put a few up in the freezer for another time. When you heat up the gravy, you'll have to thin it a bit again with a little water or milk.

Expect more lovin' from the oven this week as I bought enough groceries on Friday to last me though the winter!