Wednesday, August 4, 2010

30 Things I Vowed to Do This Summer (and How Little Progress I've Made in Accomplishing Anything)

On June 22, I wrote a post listing 30 things I'd vowed to do this summer.

Now, I'm a woman of my word and I do my very best to be like Horton the Elephant and mean what I say and say what I mean. And yet, time seems to be passing with not a lot of progress ... hmmm. There are no excuses, only some explanations and elucidations ... and here they are:

30 Things I Vow to Do This Summer (Or At Least, The Food-Related Plans!)

1. Make pesto.
Did it! Only did it yesterday, after spending weeks looking out the kitchen window at my gorgeous basil and saying "I need to make pesto." But I did it nonetheless!

2. Roast tomatoes and make a sauce.
My cherry tomatoes have ripened 1 or 2 at a time, which is not enough to make a sauce. The Big Boy tomatoes look a bit misshapen, and only 1 has ripened. It's a bit early for this, yet.

3. Find ways to get Jeremy to eat more vegetables.
Jeremy ate a spinach pizza when we went to Giordano's in Chicago -- yeah!

4. Pit cherries ... lots and lots and lots of cherries, 'cause I buy them in 10-pound boxes for several weeks in a row.
I've pitted several quarts of cherries, both Montmorency and Balaton; but I haven't bought the usual massive quantities. I will have to take extra special care to find worthy uses for these precious babies, since their supply in my freezer is so limited this year.

5. Shop at the Ypsilanti Depot Town Farmers Market some Saturday morning.
Meant to do it on my way to a rummage sale in Ypsi a few weeks ago, but was running slow that morning and didn't have time. Gotta get to this!!!

6. Make Panzanella with my freshly harvested tomatoes and basil.
Still waiting for the tomatoes .... (Note: at 7 o'clock this morning I took 2 ripe Big Boy tomatoes -- which seem more like Little Boy tomatoes, but I take what I can get -- some red onion and some parmesan and some of yesterday's pesto, toasted 2 sourdough English muffins, and tossed it all together to make Panzanella to bring to work for lunch ... yay!!!)

7. Work on my gardens -- backyard and community.
YES!!! I have done this one!!! I'm so proud of myself ... :)

8. Shop more at the Om Market for Indian groceries.
I was there a few weeks ago. But when I shop there, I want one of everything and I just don't have the money or the time for that ... sigh.

9. Work up to running to the Om Market (preferably without gasping for my last breath), which is a mile-and-a-half from my home, while Jeremy rides his bike ahead of me.
This one is so, so long gone! Running is sorta good for me overall, though not so good for my knees or hips, and I admittedly do feel good once I actually get off my tushy. And then we had a wretched heat wave which was prohibitive to wanting to leave any air conditioned space. But really, the bottom line on this one is very simple: running is mind-numbing, and I feel no desire whatsoever to be a gerbil on a wheel plopping one foot in front of the other repeatedly while gasping for breath. I'll stick to free weights, long walks, and building up the muscles of my right arm while stirring batters. And I need to bake my challah for Rosh Hashanah in September, with kneading enough dough all at once to make 4 loaves of bread being an excellent form of exercise, to my mind!

10. Eat at the new Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurant opening soon near my house.
Zamaan has only just opened, in the midst of a massive road construction project which is the bane of my existence and daily proof that God is telling me to devote myself to cooking and writing at home rather than slogging through traffic to get to work. I looked over the menu last week -- many varieties of hummus, pita sandwiches, sampler platters of lovely things like grape leaves and chicken and salads, fruit smoothies, baklava. Gotta perform a mitzvah and eat there before they close because no one had the patience to fight the impediment of the orange barrels to try the food.

11. Go back to Comet Coffee.
Did this one, too! Whew!

12. Go to Lab, a self-proclaimed "coffee + tea + yogurt experience," which serves my beloved Intelligentsia coffee.
Tom and I walked in there the other night to see what the place is like, after having eaten elsewhere. It's very bright, very open, almost sterile. I admired the passion fruit frozen yogurt and the odd varieties of mix-ins (everything from fresh strawberries to chocolate Cheerios), and determined that I must get coffee there sometime. Pour-over Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso??? O ... M ... G!!!

13. Go back to Shalimar with Tom tomorrow night for a fabulous Indian dinner, just like we had on our first date.
Yup -- did that one!

14. Use the beautiful bottle of blood orange vinegar that I bought at Fox & Obel (an extraordinary gourmet market) in Chicago.
I made a vinaigrette with extra-virgin olive oil, the blood orange vinegar, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard and a blob of orange marmalade. It was absolutely lovely!

15. Write up posts about Jeremy's and my culinary adventures while we were in Chicago.
The Dish on the Deep Dish. Fox & Obel.

16. Work on my assorted and sundry sidebar projects, which have been sadly neglected in recent weeks.
I entered my Risotto alla Milanese into Cinnamon Girl's Side Dish Showdown recently. I added my post about tea sandwiches into Tea Time Tuesday. I put a blurb from Mediterranean Summer: A Season on France's Cote d'Azur and Italy's Costa Bella into Teaser Tuesdays. I posted photos of coffee cups on Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays. I'm making some progress, here!

17. Eat less meat.
Doing better about this, though I did eat a hamburger on Friday night at a barbecue at work, and I ate half a burger and half of a salad with chicken on Saturday night at Applebee's.

18. Eat another Delicious Dogs on the Run hot dog ... perhaps at Art Fair.
Haven't seen the cart at all ....

19. Continue to look for quirky cookbooks as I peruse rummage sales.
Haven't found anything unique or interesting, at least food-wise. I did get two different copies of a High Holiday prayer book -- the Silverman Machzor [MAHK-sore], for those who know about such things -- since the gorgeous new Machzor Lev Shalem [MAHK-sore lev shah-LEM] has been published for this year's Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement, the most sacred day on the Jewish calendar). They're being given away, if they aren't copies that families had dedicated either in honor or in memory of particular individuals. They are fascinating little historical documents; one of my copies has even been scribbled in by a cantor, with notes about the service. These are priceless!

20. Continue to look for intriguing plates and cups and whatnot while I'm at the aforementioned rummage sales, to use for photographing food.
As stated above, I posted photos of coffee cups that I'd bought at Value World on Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays.

21. Improve my food photography.
I like to think my pictures have improved, for the most part! Jeremy gave me a new beautiful pink camera for Christmas, which is infinitely better than our old digital camera. Better use of flash vs. no flash as needed, new colorful drapes to place behind the food items ... I'm trying!

22. Try to enter more cooking contests.
I entered several just last week ... wish me luck!

23. Finish a book, particularly the one about being a personal chef on a yacht in the Mediterranean that I keep renewing from the library -- Mediterranean Summer: A Season on France's Cote d'Azur and Italy's Costa Bella by David Shalleck.
I am still trying valiantly to find time to read, in addition to finding time to write and to cook and to go for walks and to see my friends and to spend time with Jeremy and Tom, and .... The book is due back at the library today, so I guess it's not going to happen. Too bad -- I really like it!

24. Make BLTs with tomatoes from my garden.
Still waiting for those putzy tomatoes to ripen ....

25. Make BLT pasta salad.
Need the tomatoes.

26. Bring a picnic to an outdoor concert.
A loved one was in the hospital during Top of the Park, a summer festival here in Ann Arbor featuring live music in the evenings followed by movies shown outdoors after dark. We can still do the picnic, though, sometime.

27. Donate tomatoes to a program that feeds the hungry.
STILL waiting for those *&#^@^@ tomatoes to ripen. I have, however, donated several batches of cucumbers to an office that works with clients who have mental illness and who have been homeless.

28. Make my prize-winning Ratatouille in August when the ingredients are freshly harvested.
This one is imminent! Zucchini and yellow squash and onions are all available at the Farmers' Market. I can buy a few tomatoes for this cause, and then relish a culinary trip to the south of France.

29. Make Cherry Sorbet.
Gotta do this. Shoulda done this during our recent heat wave.

30. Make a lattice-topped Cherry Pie.
Also on the "to do" list, and it needs to move up into the "do it NOW" list.

Okay, then. Not a lot of progress here, is there??? Some things have fallen by the proverbial wayside. Some still can't be done until those stupid tomatoes are ready ... they are causing quite the impediment with their tardiness! (Or is it my impatience at expecting them to be ready too early???) And other items, I can proudly say I've accomplished. Another update should be coming at the end of the summer ....


chocoholic said...

Good luck on your contests!

Cranberry Morning said...

Do you pit those cherries by hand??!

I'm waiting for my tomatoes to ripen before they all get blight. We've had way more than usual rain and it's starting to worry me.

Keep up the good effort in getting the reluctant to turn to vegetables. :-)

Jenn said...

I think you've had good progress.. I mean you can't help it that you have to wait on your produce to grow :) That's completely out of your hands!! And the running.. UGH.. I'm with you.. I get up every morning and run and I HATE it!!! It's the worse part of my day! lol

Rachel said...

I'm your newest follower from Wobble Over Wednesday, come and follow me too!

Leslie said...

found you on the welcome wednesday! Hope you come visit me

how do you pit your cherries? i would like to learn how to can.. I might check a book out of the library!

Anonymous said...

Girl... I love this post.

Pumpkin Tart said...

You've done very well!
Your vinaigrette sounds delicious! I'll have to scout out some blood orange vinegar for sure!

Good luck with your cooking contests!


Heather said...

I love food so I clicked over after I fell in love w/ the title of your blog! Enjoyed perusing your blog today. :)

The Gift Closet

Marissa said...

you're doing pretty good at conquering the list :) I wanna go to this Lab place you speak of...sounds FUN! Also, I LOVE PESTO! Glad you finally made it and with fresh basil from your backyard? YUMMY!!!

Michele Chastain said...

Seriously, to me it seems as if you've made pretty good progress. You should read your post again. :) LOL

Cool about browsing for quirky books...I do the same. :) Books make me happy. ♥

Sheila said...

Mary, just a few comments on your list:
1 - I love pesto, but have never made it - yum!
9 - You don't have to run if it hurts your joints. Ever tried indoor cycling (or spinning) classes? Fun!
17 - Why? I love meat! haha
18 - I find this one a funny one to follow #17!
19 - I just received a cookbook from 1938 called "Home Comfort Cook Book" - awesome!
22 - Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I am your newest follower from Welcome Wednesday. I love your writing, so down to earth and candid.

Marie The Things We Find Inside

Keri said...

If you ask me, you're doin good on this list. And for all the things you have not yet done, look at how you've grown this blog. In NO TIME you have outstanding following, not to mention CONTENT!@!

Keri said...

P.S. I'm so impressed with your TV spot. VEry Very... who knew? You look fantastic and you have beautiful hands. You could be a hand model, no kiddin... I'm so hungry for one of those cupcakes.. it's titalatingly close, but so far away. k

Rose said...

That's alot of things to try to do. I would be overwhelmed. I can't imagine doing all of those cherries. Have agood day Rose

AmieAnn said...

Stopping by from Follow Me Wednesday! Love the blog.. made me laugh! Visit me at

Candace said...

Hi Mary!

I think you are doing great on your list. If those tomatoes would just cooperate, you would be all set. I'm with the do you pit those cherries? I bought an outrageously expensive cherry pitter than I'm not so good at using. I hope you are enjoying a great weekend! Candace

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