Some days call for cookies

It’s not been the most fun couple of weeks. First Charlie Hebdo & the other insanity in Paris, which was completely heartbreaking. That same night my grandpa died in Texas. Two days later I left for Israel for a week of rather heated arguing and insomnia. And a week later, my grandpa and I and most of the rest of the family were back in Illinois for his funeral. We’re all trying to catch our breath and remember which way is up.

I believe this week may call for a little bit of therapeutic baking. Cookies? Cake? Muffins? Not sure exactly what kind of baking will cure what ails me this week … what kind of baked goods help a rough start to a year?

DO: Run like a man with a heart condition

As the year draws to a close, I do the typical things like think about the year past and the year ahead and all that – you know … reflect. And I did some good stuff last year. A few things particularly good for me.

Also, my blog feed is filled with advice on how to keep resolutions, so I’m thinking about good changes I made & stuck with last year.

It’s no secret that I like good drinks. And good food. Eating and drinking – that’s, like, fully half of the things this blog is named for. I’m not giving either up for 2015. But it’s probably not surprising that all of my pants stopped fitting this year.

I’ve taken up running a few times before and it’s never stuck. But this year, for some reason … it’s pretty stuck. I did a couple 5ks, my first 8k, and in a fit of “sure, that seems like a great idea” I signed up to start my next birthday by running 10 miles. Which is crazy. You know who thinks running 10 miles is fun? Honestly: not me. But I’m also weirdly looking forward to it? Or maybe I’m looking forward to it being over.

What is more my speed, though (heh – see what I did there?), are the 5ks. My favorite is one that runs through my neighborhood. It’s small, it’s close, and I got to run it this year with this guy. (Also we ate pie after the race this year. I like pie, too.)

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That’s my dad. When I was 19, he went to the hospital. He stayed for a little while. He couldn’t work for several months, and didn’t work full time for months after that. He was in his early 40s. So he slowed down (eventually), did the work in cardiac rehab, took his drugs till he didn’t need them anymore, and then kept running.

My sister turned 40 this year and had a heart procedure done the year before; I think I’ve almost talked her into trying the Shamrock Shuffle with us in the spring (maybe).

Was that enough motivation to take better care of myself? No.

So far so good with my ticker, but I had to outgrow all my big size pants to get going. And a friend invited me to join the Whole Life Challenge with her and her friends. And that did the trick. Some days I would have cut someone for a box of cookies, but most of the time, the eating wasn’t too hard. Some of the “lifestyle challenges” were a little ridiculous. But I drank more water, ate better, exercised, stretched, slept better. Pretty good, on the whole. Pants I expanded out of a few years ago are out of storage, and I’m still running. It’s winter here. It’s cold. It’s 18F today. I went for a run. Tick tick tick tick tick tick ….

I am even packing my running shoes for work travel – I’ll be taking them on a work trip in a couple weeks and I’m looking forward to the possibility of running on the beach along the Mediterranean.

Holiday hello

Merry Christmas or whatever you celebrate!

I’ve been away for a while … I took Spanish classes, started teaching knitting, spent a LOT of time drinking up the summer in the city, hung out with my brand new nephew and family from out of state, caught up with old friends, caught a friend’s art show, made new friends, killed a bunch of moths … it’s been a little bananas around these parts. And they aren’t really going to quiet down for another month or so either.

So until I make it back around, a happy new year to all – here’s to new beginnings!

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Montreal

I keep this as a general blerg about my life and hobbies which can make it challenging for others with specific interests to get into, but gives me a lot to talk about in general. I just haven’t been that great about, you know, putting any of that stuff on here with anything resembling consistency.

In fact, it’s been about 6 weeks since I crossed the border. I’ve taken my time about writing it up – in part because I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures, and in part because I was working for the majority of the 5 days I spent there.

Despite living only 4 or so hours from the border for a few years, I’d never been to Canada before.

I ate a lovely dinner in Old Montreal where the bilingual raw bar gentleman let me have an oyster and a beautiful scallop crudo.

I saw Cirque du Soleil and despite not understanding a word of French, I loved it to bits. I had some reservations about spending that kind of money on a ticket (particularly as someone who’s a bit coulrophobic) but I clapped my hands and gasped and laughed like child and I’d do it again.

I walked a few miles to a Jewish neighborhood for AMAZING bagels (I bought two thinking I’d have one for breakfast the next day and ate them both immediately).

I hiked to the top of Mount Royal and got quite lost on my way down.

I ate crepes. The shop girls were absolutely adorable and one couldn’t believe I didn’t speak French because I look “artistic” … “It’s a compliment” … Indeed, adorable shop girl. Indeed. They very kindly translated their crepe options from the menu board for me, made me one of the best decaf cups of coffee I’ve had, and gave me one of the best, most relaxed afternoon travel breaks I’ve had.

I avoided poutine like the plague – it’s not friendly to lactose-intolerant folks and I still have nightmares about horseshoes from the two years I spent in Central Illinois.

And I’m now looking forward to another northern foray in my future …

Thirsty Thursday: Not “Kyle’s After Pork” Digestif

We’ve been eating out a lot for the last week. Thursday at The Bristol, Friday at Parson’s, Saturday ordering Dante’s, Sunday at Frontier, and finally Monday at Publican. Beautiful food, rich food, beer, cocktails … we ate it all and loved it but by the time we reached the final stretch at Publican … we’d just finished eating a huge plate of porchetta, so when the dessert menu came and I saw, under Liquid Dessert, something called “kyle’s after pork” digestif, I needed to know what it was. Our server said it has Cynar, Green Chartreuse, rum and mint. That sounds weird, I thought. I’ll have that, I said.

It was delightful. And I wanted to always have it, so with the taste fresh in my mouth, I set about trying to recreate it at home. Now, what I came up with is not nearly as beautifully balanced as what I had at Publican, and we didn’t have mint on hand, so I let go of that. But I still think this is pretty nice.

I didn’t now what kind of rum or what proportions. I used Appleton since we had it on hand, and I think it works to make a a little post-dinner tipple inspired by the Publican’s digestif.

Not “Kyle’s After Pork” Digestif

  • 3/4 oz Cynar
  • 1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
  • 1/3 oz Rum

Stir ice & strain into a large shot glass/small rocks glass/whatever the proper name is for something that holds 3-4 oz.

It’s better than a cigarette for finishing a fine, rich meal. And I highly recommend getting a meal at Publican if you possibly can.

Cheers!

Thirsty Thursday: Straits Sling

I am trying to make every cocktail in Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. This Thirsty Thursday is another episode in that project.

I am a bit of an I-word by nature. And by I-word, I mean introvert. And also a little bit of a hermit. I like being at home. A week of work (plus sundry dinners with friends, cards after work, etc.) requires a large amount of the social energy I possess. So I like to spend a lot of my weekend lounging around my house. I’ve lately been hosting hardcore, all-day Veronica Mars marathons. And by hosting, I mean me and the furry roommates I tend.

Anyway … we finally had beautiful weather this weekend and we happened to run out of gin. So I thwarted my hermit-y, interovert nature and headed out for a nice walk to get another bottle. And I finally added a bottle of Cherry Heering to the bar. The Straits Sling calls for kirschwasser, but that’s something I’ve not been able to find a bottle I like, so I went with the Cherry Heering. It also calls for the juice of half a lemon. That’s a measurement I’m never comfortable with – are we talking about half a pre-Prohibition lemon, or are we talking about a modern Godzilla-sized lemon? I think I ended up with about 3/4 oz. of lemon juice in mine.

This is a drink I’d like to welcome the first nice days of the year with every year. It’s got nice cherry flavor without being especially fruity, nor particularly sweet; but it is cherry, herbal, sparkly, drinkable in multiples. (The second one is for Dan.)

Cheers!

Thirsty Thursday: At the Pawnshop

“Maraschino and mezcal? Yeah, OK. I want to know what that tastes like.”

And that is how At the Pawnshop made it into our cocktail rotation and a bottle of mezcal graced our bar. I know next to nothing about agave spirits – so we haven’t collected the array of bottles like we have for gin, whiskey and rum. I don’t know what I like or how to use it.

This I can handle. I love this drink. It has the same basic structure as an Old-Fashioned. But it’s smoky, unexpected and a little bit shady. Like a pawnshop.

Recipe here. I make it the same way except I just use the Appleton rum we have on hand instead of the Plantation they recommend.

Cheers!

Grand Granny Square

Knitting is my sport. I’m  not much of a crocheter (crochetess? crochetrina?). But the one thing I can do with a crochet hook and yarn is make a granny square. So when I finished my mother-in-law’s blanket, I started in with what remained of the yarn on one huge granny square to make a new throw for the living room.

I finished it last week. Took it for a test drive one night when Dan’s snoring drove me out of bed. A couple of my roommates helped me try it out.

I didn’t start it with any kind of plan – I just sort of picked a color and then picked whatever looked good for the next color when I ran out of one. It ate up a lot of yarn and it’s actually quite warm.

It reminds me of the afghans we used to have in our living room growing up.