Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What a Coincidence!

I am so very humbled and honored to announce that another one of my very dear blogging friends has bestowed an award upon me -- "The Versatile Blogger." What's funny is that just as Beth was posting that on her own site, Beth: A Work in Progress, I was in the process of writing up my Sunday post awarding her the "Hard-Working Mommy Blogger" Award!

Beth is a prolific writer, adding posts throughout each day; but the amazing thing is that she always has something relevant, interesting, humorous, wise, and otherwise important to say. I have yet to read one of her contributions that hasn't offered something I found intriguing or entertaining, or simply a message I needed to hear that was delivered in just the manner I needed it to be presented in to really receive it. Thank you for that, Beth, and thank you for your friendship ... :)

So now, I've been asked to share 7 random facts about myself as part of the requirement for accepting the award. I'm going to stick to food-related tidbits -- I know I've veered a bit from the Food Floozie mission statement of late, and I don't want anyone stumbling upon my blog only to say "Well, where are the recipes? Where are the restaurant reviews?? Where's the food?!?!?!!!"

1. I don't like green peppers. I like red, yellow, and orange peppers; the green ones are overpowering and bitter, and just don't serve a purpose in my life.

2. I buy whole wheat pasta and brown rice almost exclusively, rather than the refined carb versions with no nutrients.

3. I always add salt, pepper, and a touch of nutmeg to turkey burgers. And I serve 'em on whole grain buns with mayonnaise.

4. My ideal breakfast is good cheese with fresh fruit. I will eat fried eggs, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, yogurt with granola, leftover Chinese food, guacamole and chips, and all sorts of other things depending upon availability and cravings. But cheese 'n' fruit is perfection.

5. As much as I love homemade macaroni and cheese -- and I make a mean one with 4 types of cheese! -- there is just something about those little blue boxes from Kraft, isn't there ...?

6. I love afternoon tea, with dainty finger sandwiches and pretty little pastries. It's been a long time since I've treated myself to that ... I need to remedy this!

7. I will pay extra for pre-packaged winter squash that has already been diced, rather than risking my fingers by trying to cut those rock-hard things myself. I cook and bake from scratch, I shell peas, I pit cherries ... I'm not someone who thrives upon convenience items. But this is a matter of avoiding an amputation!

I am also supposed to pass this award on to 5 other bloggers -- always, always, always the hardest part because there are too many worthy potential recipients! So, here goes:

1. The Twinners Reviews & Giveaways

2. Fab Find Foodie

3. Lemons to Lemonade

4. The Answer Is Chocolate

5. 504 Main

Now, because the synchronicity between Beth and me wasn't sufficient, as I was writing up the previous award I received the "Honest Scrap" Award from Angela at Fab Find Foodie! Her site is so much fun -- you'll find exceptional humor, great recipes, updates on all the latest and greatest kitchen gear, and a warm heart behind it all.

My mission, should I choose to accept it -- which, of course, I do! -- is to:

- List 10 things you don't know about me.
- Award this prize to 8 other bloggers.

Well, I've modified Task #1 a bit -- since I've already listed 7 tantalizing(???) tidbits about myself above, I will simply add 3 more here to complete my 10:

8. I know a pretty fair amount about food, but I know almost nothing about wine. I drink maybe 1 or 2 glasses of wine per year, at most, so it's not within the realm of stuff I need to cram into the sieve that is my brain.

9. I love orange marmalade. And a pb&j made with marmalade is a pretty fabulous thing ... :)

10. I own a blender and a toaster; other than that, I don't own any kitchen gizmos -- no KitchenAid mixer, no bread machine, no food processor, no rice cooker, nothin'.

And now, Task #2 -- to share the wealth with 8 truly deserving bloggers:

1. Life Happens When You're Making Other Plans ....

2. More Than a Mount Full - A Culinary Journey

3. The Caffeinated Globe

4. Mi Chiamo Candace

5. Diary of a Chic Mommy

6. Andrea the Kitchen Witch

7. Bags, Books & Bon Jovi

8. Adventures ... in all things food

Again, Beth and Angela -- my most sincere thanks for these awards!!! I am humbled by this plethora of praise, and tickled that it enabled me to use the Word Up, Yo! "Word of the Week" ... :)



Monday, June 28, 2010

We Have a Winner!!!

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As promised, at 11:30 p.m. this past Friday night I counted the people who'd actively claimed dibs -- yes, dibs! -- on the dish I was offering as an enormous and heart-felt "thank you" to my followers, those who read along on the adventures and mishaps of my life, both culinary and otherwise.

There were a variety of comments about the post, and 12 people said they'd like to be considered for the drawing. I plugged the data into Random.org's little gizmo, and the winning number was 11 -- Robin of Your Daily Dose. Mazal Tov!!!

I tried valiantly to copy and paste the little random number generator showing the results, but I am a proud Neoluddite who simply could not figure out how to do it. I could make a PDF, I could copy the html, I could do a lot of things with that little box ... but I couldn't do what I wanted to do, and the way *I* wanted to do it (since I am too obtuse to have figured out how it wanted me to do it). So I hope that my integrity speaks for itself when I make my own chart:

Min.: 1
Max.: 12
Result: 11

Robin is one of many people I've found here in cyberspace whom I am certain would be among my coterie of bestest girlfriends if she didn't live so far away. She hunts down scenes from the "Gilmore Girls" for me in which fellow speed-talker Lorelai -- who even has a red travel mug like mine ... this is getting eerie! -- seeks her caffeine fix. Robin also sends me good wishes through The Partridge Family's theme song, "C'mon, Get Happy"... and she's got some sort of power in this universe, 'cause it worked! I am very glad that this gift is going to such a good home ... :)

Having already laid claim to the dish in her comment on the L'Chaim post, Robin was happy to have been chosen and to have a new decoration for her home: "How awesome. I never win anything! That is great. I can't wait:-)"

So, my gift to Robin will be in the mail this afternoon. And again, I offer a profoundly sincere "thank you" to everyone who's offered so much support and encouragement to me. Even as verbose as I am, I cannot convey my gratitude sufficiently ....


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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Two More Awards ... I'm Blushing!!!



I am enormously flattered to have been the recipient -- and on the same day, too! -- of two new awards ... wow. And they're from people whom I really like and respect, too, which makes it that much more wonderful!

Without further ado, as there is a lot to cover here in my acceptance speech ....

Elana at The Twinners has given me the "Hard-Working Mommy Blogger" Award. I do work hard, whether at my job or at home or at trying to keep all of my friends here entertained! And just 'cause your kid gets taller (6'3") and older (19) and more independent (wants a tattoo!), that doesn't mean you still aren't "Mom." So I am grateful for the pat on my back ... thank you so much, Elana! You clearly invest a tremendous amount of yourself in your blog and in your family; I do so enjoy all the infanticipation, too ... :)

Here are the terms that have been set for accepting this award:

1. Accept the award (by leaving a comment on the original award post).

I did that, giddily and excitedly -- it was such a surprise!

2. Post about the award on your blog (include the image of the award) together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and her blog link.

Done!

3. List 7 other Mommy Bloggers that you want to pass the award along to (no backsies). Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

As always, this is THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF THE PROCESS!!! There are too many blogs out there that I read, benefit from, enjoy, learn from ... decisions, decisions! But here is the list I have agonizingly arrived at, with hopes that you will check them out and follow them and welcome them into your life as I have done in mine:








I must also thank Rachel at Diary of a Chocoholic for giving me the "Beautiful Blogger" Award. She gave me such a lovely compliment in bestowing this upon me:

"This is a wonderful blog. She writes beautifully about food and life in general. I love the recipes she posts. She also has a gorgeous layout and a very creative title."

I could say all the very same things about her, my fellow chocoholic! I do so enjoy following along on her adventures in South Korea while she plans her wedding. And I was thrilled to learn that her wedding date is on the 18th of the chosen month, which invests it with an abundance of life and all good things according to Jewish tradition. Mazal Tov!!! May you be blessed with all happiness ... :)

Recieving this award comes with two stipulations:

1. Pass the award on to 7 people.

2. Give 7 facts about myself.

So, first things first after yet another round of decision-making and hopes that you find wonderful new friends among the exceptionally worthy candidates on this list:

1. Fake It Til You Make It

2. Beat Until Fluffy

3. Bringing Pretty Back

4. Jenn's Food Journey

5. Recipes from 4EveryKitchen

6. Songberries

7. Mini Eats

And now, for the tattling on myself:

1. I wear odd colors of nail polish -- purple, gold, green, alternating colors on successive finger- and toenails. Yeah, I'm too old for this! But why should getting old preclude one from having a sense of whimsy ...?

2. I love the Disney princesses! "Beauty and the Beast" is my all-time favorite movie; I know every word to every song, and many of the spoken lines as well. This movie got me through when I found out that my ex-husband was having an affair -- no one wanted those blonde twits whose unnatural breasts were falling out of their dresses, remember? They fought over the dark-haired girl, the one who loves to read, the one who wants much more than this provincial life .... I also love "Mulan" and "The Little Mermaid" and the others. These are not just froofy cartoons; these women find themselves in difficult circumstances, but through force of will and strength of character they come out better on the other end ... "Bright young women, sick of swimmin', ready to stand." I can only hope that this holds true for me, as well. And how can you not love a movie with a happy ending complete with a Prince Charming???

3. I love to shell peas and to pit cherries. Sure, you can buy them in jars or in bags or in cans at the grocery store. But why not have fresh ones, bought at a farmers' market and harvested that morning? It's very meditative, very relaxing. I look forward to it every summer.

4. I have a huge sweet tooth -- frankly, I've got 28 sweet teeth (lost my 4 wisdom teeth nearly 30 years ago) -- so I hate to play favorites. But lately I've developed a thing for Milk Duds, since our local grocery store has been selling boxes of them for $1. I shouldn't, and yet I hear them call to me ....

5. I used to be the "professional volunteer" mom at school -- lunch duty, chaperoning field trips, running school auctions, etc. Now I have to work in order to eat. Even though Jeremy has grown up and is done with school, I still miss that old life of service as well as the freedom to control my days even if they were busy. I may never be able to afford to retire; but if I do, I will go back to giving my time to causes and projects that I love.

6. My cat, Bummie (short for Boomerang), loves canned dog food. And my dog, Fuzzybutt, loves anything but dog food. Spam and hot dogs are a couple of particular favorites, but the #1 choice is probably peanut butter!

7. Although Jeremy has enormous musical talent -- plays guitar, bass guitar, drums, sings, picks out tunes by ear, everything! -- I cannot sing, I cannot carry a tune, I cannot play any instruments, I cannot read music, nothin'. My paternal grandmother performed with a musical theatre group in Dublin before coming to the United States. Her talent skipped 2 generations and landed entirely in Jeremy's lap.

Again -- MANY, MANY thanks to both Elana and Rachel for their generosity and for thinking that my little pink platform for pontificating warrants the attention! Truly, I'm blushing ....



Saturday, June 26, 2010

"Twitterature"

I found an entertaining? amusing? appalling??? book called Twitterature, by Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin, at the library the other day. Its claim to fame is that it offers "humorous reworkings of literary classics for the twenty-first century intellect, in digestible portions of 20 tweets or fewer."

Now, I happen to be in possession of a Bachelor's degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan, and one of my instructors had encouraged me to pursue graduate studies in semantics and rhetoric. I am quite the fan of books -- the real kind with the scent of ink and paper, with weight, with substance both physical and intellectual. And you can imagine that someone as verbose as I am has some issues with Twitter!

And yet, how could I resist seeing how the greatest works of literature had been deconstructed and decimated into tweets???

Well, it's not quite as erudite as Cliff's Notes. And yet, it does sum up the storylines for those who have the attention span of gnats. I guess with all the time people spend facing some sort of screen -- movies from Netflix, playing games on Wii instead of going out into the sunshine, posting their every move on Facebook, and (guilty as charged!) posting every little thought and whim and batch of cookies on personal blogs -- "... who has time to read those big, long books anymore?" (from the back cover of the book)

And so, I will share with you the twit's version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, one of the ultimate food books with all that eating and drinking and drinking and eating; and who could forget the Mad Tea Party???

@AliceInTheSkyWithDiamonds

Like many book characters, I'm pretty bored. Oh! A white rabbit! Just like in The Matrix. That movie was pretty dope, if you're on drugs.

Down into the rabbit hole I go! Ohh, that's rich. I feel like Neo.

Is it OK to drink from a mysterious bottle that's been opened? What if there are Ruffies in it?

I don't know what's going on, but in a typically feminine manner I'll allow confusion and being flustered to make me cry up a storm.

Am I still the same little girl that I was before? I feel like my 'self' is being deconstructed. And in HD, to boot.


I asked a mouse how to get dry from all my tears. He gave me a dry history lesson. People are purposefully confusing my words.

I'm in the rabbit's house. Here's more mysterious juice. Should I drink it again? Oh what the hell. Hope I won't be sore afterward.

Why are people throwing rocks at me like I'm Mary Magdalene? I'm a little girl, not a biblical prostitute ... er, Christ's wife.


I found a stoner Arab caterpillar. He made fun of me. Oh yeah? At least I'm not three inches tall with a case of the munchies.

At a tea party with a crackhead hat man. He's a schizoid. Insanity is part of his public image. After all, he put 'mad' in his name.


Sound has become distorted.


This land is terrorized by the Queen of Hearts. She's a card. Wouldn't it be funny if I just destroyed her army by shuffling them?


I'm in trouble. I'm not sure what I did. This is the worst day ever. I need a drink. Not from an unmarked bottle, though, no more of that.


Now I'm on trial. Another worst day ever. The queen stole my integrity and made me a felon. If I knew magic, I'd make her disappear.


If only I could grow large and crush them beneath me. Wait. I feel so strangely powerful, I'm huge. This courthouse is going down.


Oh, my sister is here. She's waking me for tea-time. Good, I'm home again.

A grinning cat, a tweeked-out hatter? A sadistic queen and a terrifying baby? This is the kinda ("stuff"-- family-friendly-ish blog here!) that sends people to years of therapy.


God that was just insane. I need another adventure like that like I need a hole in the head.


Hmmmm .... Are you feeling more educated and learned now???

Please note: I do want to take issue with the insult to women that all we do is cry when we're stressed, with the designation of the caterpillar as being an Arab stoner, with the outdated view that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, and especially with the use of the word "schizoid" which is an insult to people with mental illness. A significant number of my loved ones suffer from bipolar disorder and/or anxiety issues, so I am personally offended by such flippant and insulting use of the term ....


Friday, June 25, 2010

Fox & Obel

I am about to enthuse and effuse, a tendency I have when I absolutely adore someone or something. But I assure you that I am not exaggerating.

And what am I going to rave about, you ask? My favorite shop in Chicago: Fox & Obel, an amazing gourmet food store!

There is such abundance of variety here that it's difficult to believe how many items they can cram into the available space: fresh fruits and vegetables ... pastries ... breads ... prepared foods ... coffees and teas ... jams and jellies ... cheeses ... wines ... candies ... baking ingredients ... freezer items ... spices. Oh, it's astounding! I just walk into the store and I want to cook and bake and create and eat and share with all my loved ones ... :)

The space is bright and open, rather than claustrophobic. The staff is attentive and friendly. There simply are no detriments here, other than not being able to buy the entire contents of the store or move to Chicago and get a job there, in order to take advantage of the presumed employee discount. Fox & Obel is absolutely my favorite food store, which is saying something considering how many gourmet stores and ethnic markets Ann Arbor has!

For example, this is the honey display -- I'm serious! Not the honeys and the syrups and the sweeteners combined, oh no! This is just the honeys, from simple jars to exotic varieties, and even some in elegant bottles that look as though they are a rare vintage. Would any one of these make a fabulous hostess or holiday gift, or what???


This is the pasta display, featuring not just boring ol' spaghetti, macaroni, and rotini, with only regular and whole wheat varieties to choose from. These are handmade, hand-cut, Italian specialty items which would make a most extraordinary meal! Intriguing varieties designed for specific sauces (i.e.: thin strands for light sauces or thicker shapes for heartier sauces), spelt and semolina and tricolore and all sorts of other lovely options ... sigh ....

And then there are the oils and the vinegars, with several bottles of balsamic vinegar being kept under lock and key because they are so valuable. The possibilities for marinades and dressings, just to name two easy options, are virtually limitless with an array such as this! It is truly an entire wall of bottles, with thousands of variations as one might mix and match ....

It took virtually every ounce of restraint for me to remember that I had to carry my items home on the train, that I needed to be careful of perishable items spoiling, and that I actually have bills to pay so I couldn't just indulge my whims and buy one of everything. But boy, it sure would be fabulous to do so, wouldn't it??? The place is absolutely extraordinary ... a dream come true for someone who loves to both cook and eat!

NOTE: Don't forget to check out the "thank you" post for my followers, and leave a comment at the end of it if you're interested in the gift drawing: "L'Chaim -- To Life!" I'll be picking the winner tonight ... :)



Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Dish on the Deep Dish


Okay, after yesterday's tantalizing picture of the deep-dish pizza from Giordano's in Chicago, it's time to share more than just its photogenic smile; it's time to dish (ha!) about this amazing work of both visual and culinary art.

As you can see, the restaurant has been voted as purveyor of "Chicago's BEST pizza” by the people, not by some snobs who are looking for the sorts of exotica that offer caviar and nori and other pretentious toppings which, to my mind, would desecrate a sacred entity. The hard-working folks of the Windy City have spoken, and I have heard them!

And so, Jeremy and I headed to Giordano's after checking in at our hotel. We were hungry after spending 5-1/2 hours on the train. (Though I must say that the train is a thing of beauty, leaving from Ann Arbor and taking us straight into Union Station without security checks, maps, or any other nuisances and accoutrements.) We knew we wanted a small pizza, so as not to have any wasteful excess; and I knew I wanted some semblance of nutrition, and Jeremy was willing to eat spinach. So the decision was easy, for once.

As we waited the 40 minutes that we'd been told it would take to make our pizza by hand just for us, we enjoyed some incredible mozzarella cheese sticks with an excellent marinara sauce that tasted fresh, rather than the norm of a jarred variety. These were very good all on their own -- can't you see how much Jeremy enjoyed them??? But we knew that something even more extraordinary awaited us.

And then it arrived, borne by our quiet but friendly waitress as though it were a crown being presented at a royal coronation. We explained that I write a blog about food and that I always take pictures of what I'm about to eat; she was very gracious in helping to set the scene and in letting Jeremy lift the first slice of pizza to show it at its perfect angle. Then she served us, and we took a brief moment to simply bask in the glory of what we were about to enjoy.

And enjoy it we did, heartily! The bottom crust was crisp, despite layer after layer of cheese and sauce and spinach and more cheese and still more cheese. The sauce was perfection – neither too spicy nor too bland nor too sweet, but flavorful and zesty. And the cheese … well, the photos speak for themselves, don't they??? Luscious, rich, gooey, divine.

Now remember, I'm a girl who grew up in New York City, and I do believe – as one of the few certainties in the universe – that the charred, hand-tossed, thin-crust pizza with a swirl of sauce and a variety of cheeses is just about the closest thing to Nirvana as food can possibly be. But how can I deny the extraordinary experience of a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza??? Really, the two may share the name of “pizza,” but they are such distinctly different entities that it is impossible to adequately compare them. Each is seductive and sublime in its own way.

People often are surprised at how good an eater I am when I'm happy and contented, as I am after my weekend of reuniting with Tom. So my having eaten two pieces of this pizza at Giordano's, in addition to half of the cheese sticks, should only come as a shock to people who don't know me at all. Jeremy ate two pieces as well, and we brought the last two pieces back to our room; it didn't take long for Jeremy to finish those off as well, which made me happy – he earned that treat in honor of his graduation, which we were celebrating with this trip.

And so, that's the story! If you go to Chicago, don't bother with Uno's or Due or any of the other places that offer a lesser specimen of the traditional deep-dish pizza. Remember Giordano's – truly, you will thank me … and I'll happily accept the gift of a frozen pizza to bake in my own oven as a demonstration of your gratitude!



NOTE: Don't forget to check out the "thank you" post for my followers, and leave a comment at the end of it if you're interested in the gift drawing: "L'Chaim -- To Life!"



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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Welcome Wednesday, with a Few Words


This was supposed to be a "Wordless Wednesday" post, with the Giordano's pizza that Jeremy and I relished in Chicago saying everything it needed to with its seductive pose. But then I got this amazingly flattering email:

Congratulations! We have randomly chosen your blog to be one of our spotlighted blogs on this week's Welcome Wednesday! We love your blog "Food Floozie" and are so happy to share it with others!

Well, how could I not at least express an enormous thank you to Kristin and Jaime at Take It From Me for this great thrill??? So, it's not "Wordless Wednesday" anymore; but for me, it's at least "Not as Wordy Wednesday" ... :)



NOTE: Don't forget to check out the "thank you" post for my followers, and leave a comment at the end of it if you're interested in the gift drawing: "L'Chaim -- To Life!"


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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

30 Things I Vow to Do This Summer

Mama's Losin' It

To help ward off writer's block (yeah, like that could happen to someone like me!), I signed up for Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop which offers writing prompts. So, following down the proverbial primrose path of one of these suggestions, I hereby offer:

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

1. Make pesto.

2. Roast tomatoes and make a sauce.

3. Find ways to get Jeremy to eat more vegetables.

4. Pit cherries ... lots and lots and lots of cherries, 'cause I buy them in 10-pound boxes for several weeks in a row.

5. Shop at the Ypsilanti Depot Town Farmers Market some Saturday morning.

6. Make Panzanella with my freshly harvested tomatoes and basil.

7. Work on my gardens -- backyard and community.

8. Shop more at the Om Market for Indian groceries.

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.

10. Eat at the new Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurant opening soon near my house.

11. Go back to Comet Coffee.

12. Go to Lab, a self-proclaimed "coffee + tea + yogurt experience," which serves my beloved Intelligentsia coffee.

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

14. Use the beautiful bottle of blood orange vinegar that I bought at Fox & Obel (an extraordinary gourmet market) in Chicago.

15. Write up posts about Jeremy's and my culinary adventures while we were in Chicago.

16. Work on my assorted and sundry sidebar projects, which have been sadly neglected in recent weeks.

17. Eat less meat.

18. Eat another Delicious Dogs on the Run hot dog ... perhaps at Art Fair.

19. Continue to look for quirky cookbooks as I peruse rummage sales.

20. Continue to look for intriguing plates and cups and whatnot while I'm at the aforementioned rummage sales, to use for photographing food.

21. Improve my food photography.

22. Try to enter more cooking contests.

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.

24. Make BLTs with tomatoes from my garden.

25. Make BLT pasta salad.

26. Bring a picnic to an outdoor concert.

27. Donate tomatoes to a program that feeds the hungry.

28. Make my prize-winning Ratatouille in August when the ingredients are freshly harvested.

29. Make Cherry Sorbet.

30. Make a lattice-topped Cherry Pie.


NOTE: Don't forget to check out the "thank you" post for my followers, and leave a comment at the end of it if you're interested in the gift drawing: "L'Chaim -- To Life!"

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Monday, June 21, 2010

"It's Been a Long, Long Time"

I'm a city girl -- a prissy city girl who doesn't do camping or tents or hikes or any of that other outdoorsy stuff. I was born and raised in New York City ... Honey, I want things to do and people to watch and street food and all the other fabulous things that the big ol' metropolis offers!

I truly love Ann Arbor, and have lived here for most of the past ... ahem (God, it makes me sound old!) ... 29 years since I first came here as a freshman at the University of Michigan. While it offers the warmth and familiarity of a small town, it also offers many of the cultural and intellectual amenities of a large city. But every so often, I still need a fix of skyscrapers and bustling and novelty and everything else a huge city has to offer.

So Jeremy and I have scheduled a trip in honor of his graduation and because I deserve a vacation, as Jeremy puts it, "more than anyone else I know." Can I get an "Amen"???

We're going to take the train to Chicago, to eat ourselves silly and then walk off the calories as we schlep up and down Michigan Avenue and peruse the Art Institute and The Bean and all sorts of other amusements and entertainments. The weather is supposed to be cruddy, but whaddya gonna do??? I went to Chicago just for a day with my exceptionally good friend Wendy last year, but Jeremy and I haven't been there (or anywhere) on a vacation trip in several years ... a long, long time.

Of course, there will also be the mandatory trip to Intelligentsia Coffee for my morning fix and for goodies to bring home! Life is not complete without coffee, and this is some of the best stuff there is ... :)

So on this Music Monday, I offer the following song. It's not the same one I'd originally planned, which was Barry Manilow's "New York City Rhythm" along with a notation to change the lyrics to "Windy City Rhythm." I had picked that one at first because it begins with the line "When my heart is torn apart by love I wish I had, then I spend my nights in the city's lights and things don't seem so bad."

But then, there was the weekend ... and a loooong talk ... and lunch yesterday, followed by an afternoon in the park, followed by iced tea (vs. the hot tea we drank at Sweetwater's on our first date) ... and most unexpectedly, completely out of the blue, my heart has been happified ... :)







NOTE: Don't forget to check out the "thank you" post for my followers, and leave a comment at the end of it if you're interested in the gift drawing: "L'Chaim -- To Life!"



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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Another Food Holiday -- YAY!!!

It takes so little to make me happy, sometimes. And a vanilla milkshake -- frankly, a milkshake of any flavor! -- can do it every time. So thankfully, because we can all use a little happifying, today is ... ta da!!! ... National Vanilla Milkshake Day! And what a great treat for Dad on Father's Day, too ... :)

Go to Dairy Queen, to Baskin-Robbins, to Big Boy ... I can't believe I'm saying this, but even go to McDonald's if you have to in order to get yourself a milkshake. If you have dairy issues, feel free to use rice or soy milks and ice creams; I don't think there's any requirement to use cow's milk products, after all.

Of course, these are very easy to make at home -- there's hardly even a recipe. Plop some vanilla ice cream into a blender. Add milk halfway up the ice cream blob. If you have some vanilla-flavored coffee syrup, splash a little in. Put the top on the blender and whoosh! Blend until smooth. Add either more ice cream (if too thin) or more milk (if too thick); then pour into tall glasses, add whipped cream and straws, and serve to happy people!

But remember -- it can't be strawberry, it can't be jamocha (our Arby's closed, taking it with the only thing worth ordering there), and it can't be a chocolate malt. Vanilla is the flavor du jour!

NOTE: Don't forget to check out the "thank you" post for my followers, and leave a comment at the end of it if you're interested in the gift drawing: "L'Chaim -- To Life!"


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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries and Berries

Today is Saturday, which means a trip to the Farmers Market!!! But I have effused and enthused about the Market before, so I will spare you a repeat performance of my rapture.

Suffice it to say that I am not Shomer Shabbat [sho-MAYR shah-BAHT], which means observing the Jewish sabbath from Friday night to Saturday night; all forms of work are forbidden, so as to make it a true day of rest. (This includes everything from driving to shopping to carrying items to cooking.) So I will be shopping at the market, to see what sights and smells and seduction await me.

Now, I do light candles to welcome Shabbat, and I can even recite the blessing in Hebrew.


Bah-ROOK ah-TAH Ah-doh-NYE eh-loh-HAY-nu meh-LECK hah-oh-LAHM
ah-SHAYR keed-SHAH-nu bay-mitz-voh-TAHV vay-tzee-VAH-nu lay-had-LEEK nayr shel shah-BAHT. (Ah-mayn.)

Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the lights of Shabbat. (Amen.)

But to me, a day of rest involves my favorite forms of relaxation -- cooking and baking. So I will drive to get to the Market, shop, carry items home, turn on the oven, and then chop and stir even though all of these activities are verboten to those who observe the Shabbat laws. I cannot imagine any concept of rest that didn't involve doing this. Sitting and bemoaning not being able to acquire and utilize seasonal goodies from the farmers who grew and harvested them would be inordinately stressful to me, not restful.

And so, this being the beginning of berry season -- with Michigan's specialty, tart cherries, due around July 4! -- a lovely dessert for a Shabbat meal or for a post-church Sunday dinner is a fruit cobbler. It's ridiculously easy, and is ideal when made with fresh fruit. But you could also use frozen (defrosted) fruits as well, as I did when I added the last of my tart cherries from last summer. Just add whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, and you will have found yourself a little piece of Heaven ... :)

Cherry Berry Cobbler

(Adapted slightly from Marcia Adams' Cooking From Quilt Country)

4 cups assorted berries and pitted cherries
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1-1/2 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold butter
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a 9" glass pie pan.

In a large bowl, combine fruit, sugar, cornstarch and extract; pour into the pie pan, and set the pie pan onto a baking sheet covered in foil.

In the same bowl (why wash extra dishes???), combine the flour, baking powder and salt. With your fingers, mix in the butter until the mixture resembles meal.

Combine the egg and the milk, pour over the flour, and stir just until combined.

Place large spoonsful of the batter over the fruit, covering most of it. Combine the brown sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the cobbler.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden brown and the juices are bubbling. Serve warm or at room temperature.

NOTE: Don't forget to check out the "thank you" post for my followers, and leave a comment at the end of it if you're interested in the gift drawing: "L'Chaim -- To Life!"



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