Thursday, August 20, 2009

Food is a big part of every one's life. If they claim that it isn't they are either lying, or not enjoying life to its fullest. One of the quickest and easiest ways to bring a little more joy into your life, is enriching it with food.

I love to cook. Dan loves to cook. Perfect match, right? There is the occasional spat over one or the other of us taking over the kitchen, so we have devised the perfect system to compromise our equal love for the preparing of the meals: one chops and get all the ingredients together while the other does all the actual sweatin' (and believe me, in our kitchen, you are sweatin') by the stove. This plan is impeccable for the dual chef household.

So just what exactly have we made over the last couple weeks here in Alabama? Well, I won't go into detail regarding every single dish, but I will discuss a this weeks highlights:

With a some help from Paula Deen (who, according to REAL southern women, is not one) we made some delicious Buttery Tilapia with Lemon and Green Onions, served over rice with a side of asparagus. One think I like about fish it I don't get that weird "Ugh, I'm touching raw meat and I'm grossed out by it" thing. Sure it smells a little sour, but I much prefer sour to bloody...

Meatless Monday Excursions:
In order to be a little more Eco-friendly, and at the behest of dear Best Friend Mandy, Dan and I have agreed to participate in the Meatless Monday Movement. Rather than trying to explain and justify it myself, you can check it out ans decide for yourself:
Last Thursday we went to the ubertiny Farmer's Market they have on campus and got ourselves some fresh tomatoes and eggplant. Can you guess what we made on Monday?
That's right, Baked Eggplant Parmigiana with homemade, from scratch pasta sauce. I have never peeled tomatoes without boiling them ahead of time first. In the boiling method, the skin bursts and splits so its really easy to just peel away. Fresh, uncooked tomatoes don't peel quite so easily. I just used a potato peeler and with a little patience and a steady hand it worked out fine. I have no idea if there is a better way to do it, but it seemed to work out. I egged up the eggplant (ha!) coated it in the cheese and flour, fried it for a minute or two then tossed it in the baking dish, smothered away and tada! A most amazing dish. I've never cooked with eggplant before and was wary as to how this was going to work out but it was amazing. The eggplant was just the perfect flavor and texture with the sauce and mozzarella. And as a garnish on the side, drumroll please, we had super sweet Fatty Arbuckle, my first celebrity tomato! I was so proud of him!
And for desert Dan made a wonderful little dish called Banana Halva. Its an Indian desert where you mash up some bananas, fry them up until the mush turns into an almost toffee like consistency then you stir in chopped walnuts and pistachios. We didn't have the pistachios so we used almonds instead and it was still amazing! Get just a little plain yogurt on the side and the sweet and sour go together so perfectly.

Tuesday I was in orientation and was given *blah* pizza. But...

We went to our neighbor and fellow Creative Writing MFA Megan's for dinner. Anyone who doesn't like seafood should either stop reading so you don't feel left out or keep reading so you will learn to appreciate some of the most amazing food in the world. Megan made Crab Cole Slaw, Crab Linguine and Mussel Linguine! I have no idea what else she used to season them, but all three dishes were so delectable I went back for seconds on all three. The Mussel pasta even had the shells right in there and some of them you have to pick out the little guys inside. Such good food. Then, right when I thought I couldn't stuff myself anymore, she brought out a Semi-Sweet Chocolate Meringue with Whipped Cream, Raspberries and Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. Heaven! Had it been sweet chocolate it would have been too much, but the semi-sweet was just enough to melt you away.

And for tonight... We're having left overs. Can only cram so much good food in a week... But we have grand plans, I assure you. I will try and get pictures for those of who who love to look at yummy food like I do.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Shadows, Saints and Pirl

Dear friend and fellow book nerd, Noelle, lent me this book before I left Good Ole SLC. What with all the packing, driving, unpacking and domestic bliss that has monopolized a good portion of the last month of my life, I was unable to start the book before I left. Intrigued though I was about the book, other distractions kept getting in the way and I found myself here in Bama a week already and still had not embarked upon the book.

I started the book rather voraciously and then tapered off a bit, slowly, reading bit here and there when I had a moment. The first chapter is perhaps the most interesting, thought provoking, exciting chapter in the whole book. The book is introduced by the revelation that in the city of Barcelona, there is a place, a basilica where the forgotten books of this world are kept, waiting to be discovered again. For any passionate reader this is perhaps the most exciting concept ever conceived. This palatial cemetery, winds and twists into your imagination, filled with endless possibilities of stories to be discovered. From this place, you are lead into the story of a boy and what he found there.

After the excitement aroused in the first chapter, it took me a little while to get invested in the story of the boy only because he was a boy and a slave to his passions, which is rather different from even a teenager being a slave to his passions. The story veers off from that which he discovered in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and into an obsessive childhood crush which, while altogether relevant for the remainder of the story, just isn't as interesting as what is to come. After the boy became more of a man and he focuses again on his discovery the story really picks up. I certainly do not wish to divulge any secrets or spoil any endings so my descriptions will end there. But I will say that the last week I have been consumed by this book and unable to put it down. The imagery is haunting and beautiful, the story twisting and compelling. It is very dark at times and I find myself wishing to learn more about the Spanish Civil War. Beautiful. Loved it. Recommend it to anyone looking for a good, exciting read. Disclaimer: There will be blood... (Ha!)

Meet W.C. Fields: American Comedian, Notorious Drinker, and Patron Saint of our Kitchen. Last year at some festival Dan came across this statue of the comedian and brought it home to live with him. He used to oversee Dan's desk, where he would bless the writer with his wit whilst Dan would wile away the hours working on homework and his various writing projects. Now he lives in our kitchen, overseeing the food prep and keeping watchful eye on our liquor. Dinner is always a little bit funnier now...

I promised I would keep everyone updated on the puppy. First of all, I must report that I have foolishly spelled the poor little girls name wrong. Her name is officially Steamboat Pirl (part Pig, part Squirrel). She is eating like a real puppy now and while still tiny, she is huge compared to how puny she was just a few days ago. Her spine, hip bones, and rib cage are no longer visible and her little belly is nice and swollen from eating. She has the energy of a real puppy now. Even tugging on a little pink rope...

That's all for now kids. Orientation tomorrow then school on Wednesday. I should have some interesting things to say then. In the mean time, a word of advice: Corn Whiskey Moonshine out of a Mason Jar should NOT be passed around like lemonade...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Textbook Nerdiness

I bought my text books today. I was flipping through and got excited about some of the illustrations.

For you nerds who are interested...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Destination: Alabama

A Brief Synopsis:
While we made the trip in the amount of time we allotted ourselves and I really don't know a better way we could have done it, I do not suggest to anyone a cross country move that could include a U-Haul and another vehicle. Moving is the biggest motivation for the Spartan lifestyle I have come across.

I will say the Wyoming sunrise was beautiful, only to be eclipsed by the Loaf N'Jug advertised on the Services sign immediately following. Nebraska seemed to go on forever with its rolling hills, or rather rolling flats of farmland. We got some free squash, courtesy of Steve and Charlene Dunbar. 18 long hours of driving and we made it to Kansas City only to be derailed by the incompetent clerk behind the plate glass cube at the illustrious EconoLodge Airport. This young lady wouldn't cut it at the UGH.

The next day we started off again after a lovely meal at Denny's where some poor soul seemed to be coughing up a lung and two people who shall remain nameless ordered their breakfast off the seniors only menu even though both are several years south of 65. *Ahem* For such a small state, Missouri took forever. Of course, we drove across it, then down along the state line so we pretty much drove it twice. I'm sure its a lovely town, but Memphis, from the freeway, sucks. How can you take a four lane highway, cut it down to one lane, with little to no warning and allow traffic to sit for about an hour, almost not moving? I know that sounds startlingly similar to I-80 in SLC but believe me, it's worse.This was about the time we all started hitting the wall. A few more hours, missed rest stop or two (it wouldn't be a road trip with Dad without one), a gas station with no food, a country road, and after two days of seemingly endless driving, Dan, my parents and I arrived in Tuscaloosa to a loud, rousing hello from Dan's friends and our new neighbors.

Our Home:

I promised I would provide pictures....

Here is our house!

Ha! If only...

Here is our actual house. Pretty ghetto and yet perfectly perfect. Of course its not really perfect but its about as close as we can get around here. Two bedrooms, three AC units, washer/dryer hookups... C'mon, you know that's pretty good.

The Living Room...

(Where our books live)

The Study/Office/Second Bedroom/Moderate Mess...

Dan's work station is there on the left and mine is on the right.

The Kitchen...

The Teeny Bathroom...

So that is our little home. It isn't the fanciest place, but then again, we aren't very fancy people. Just enough love to make it a home :)

Life thus far...

School hasn't started yet so I've actually had quite a bit of time on my hands and have used that time for mostly domestic endeavors. My grandmothers would be so proud. I've been arranging the house, cleaning that which must be cleaned, doing laundry, and managed to create the most amazing Spinach Quiche, courtesy some help from good ole Julia Child (Go see Julie&Julia, right now!! If you love food, love cooking food, or just love Stanley Tucci, get off your ass and go see it!)

I've started looking for a job. The University is a bit confusing regarding their application processes. I went to three different departments I was told on-line to refer to for student employment and was told at all three locations, to check the website. Anyway, I applied for a circulation job in the library so hopefully that pans out.

The humidity is kicking my ass. I was all cocky before, "Oh, don't you worry about ME. I'LL be fine. I KNOW what its like." Energy is a very difficult substance to come by in the oppressive weight of your own sweat that just never dries. Ok, enough melodrama. Its not that bad. It does take some getting used to and many, many, refrigerated Nalgenes at the ready to cool you down and keep you hydrated. You wouldn't think in such a wet place you could get dehydrated. You'd be wrong. The only real trouble I've had is at night. I had sleeping problems before I left SLC. I thought it was stress related and it easily still could be. I'm hoping once school starts I'll finally be able to relax enough. But as for now, it gets really hot at night in the house and I can't stay asleep. Dan got me some Melatonin supplements to try and help my body sleep, but to no avail so far.

The best part about living with Dan, is living with Dan. There is nothing better than waking up next to your best friend, going for a quick (albeit sweaty) run, and coming home to make yummy waffles and watch Buffy with best friend. I'm a happy girl.

The Parable of the Puppy and Crazy Towny Bud...

Emily is one of our neighbors and a fellow MFA in Dan's program. The Friday we arrived in Bama, she had gone for a bike ride in the country. She saw what she thought to be a squirrel, struggling by the side of the road. She stopped to see it and saw it was this...

A gentleman who was passing by said that the house just down the road breeds pitbulls and that's probably where she came from. Emily, knowing that a puppy that little wouldn't wander off that far without being noticed, brought her home to 15th court. Steamboat Pearl, as she has come to be called, is one sick puppy. After taking her to the vet we all found out she had worms and was really malnourished. Ashely and Nilo, our next door neighbors, decided to take over her care and got all the medications she needed. She puppy puked up a number of worms and dropped more weight and is now, at the ripe old age of seven weeks, a mere two and a half pounds. But she has started eating again and has more energy. She's gonna make it! I had the pleasure of some puppy sitting earlier today and yesterday and she is just the sweetest thing.

This weekend we 15th Courters took off for a lake close by to escape the heat and go for a swim. The lake was very beautiful and pretty close although down a rocky dirt road. Poor Midnight incurred a couple more bruises :C The water was, no kidding, the temperature of bath water. I'm used to Mountain lakes that on the hottest of hot summer day are still freezing.

It was a lovely, relaxing day. As we were preparing to leave a big ass truck followed by a white Mustang, blasting bad rap as loud as possible, pulled up by the spot where we were. This guy gets out of the Mustang with an open Budweiser Tall Boy in one hand, the uber classy Budweiser B complete with crown tattooed on his arm, and two boxer terriers. One boxer was over 100 lbs and solid as a rock. The other was ten weeks old and completely dwarfed poor little Steamboat Pearl. They smelled Pearl instantly and came over to where we were to investigate. So the Crazy Towny, lets call him Crazy Towny Bud, was clearly already pretty smashed and way too friendly. He came over, saying all kind of stuff about pitbulls, took Pearl's jaws in his meat hooks and proceeded to look at her teeth to see if she would be a good fightin dog, pointed out the second row of teeth in the back, for when they lock their jaws in a fight and told a lovely anecdote about how the big boxer was fighting a pitbull and won the fight but the pitbull locked its jaws on the boxers throat. As we all started to load up Midnight, he proceeded to tell us what we needed to do to get Pearl up to regular weight. As he drags the big boxer out of my car after it jumped in when I opened the door, he tells us we need to get her a "Beached Whale" shot at the vet and that will help her a lot. We leave the lake, grateful Crazy Towny Bud and his posse didn't bust out the banjos and invite us to reenact a scene from Deliverance. As we drove home, we were discussing just what the hell a "beached whale" shot is and why you would give it to a puppy. BJ, another neighbor, very astutely figured out that Crazy Towny Bud was saying "B12" but in his Crazy Towny Bud accent it sounded like "beached whale." Sound it out, folks. Its a fun game.

Well, that's my life in Alabama so far. I'll leave you with the stellar conversation I walked in on inadvertently at the grocery store...

Hiram, the Mormon bag boy: It's like football and wrestling... In the dark...