Saturday, October 30, 2010

Recipe for Success

Yesterday for Halloween my office team dressed up as the cast of Mad Men. Not only did we look totally badass, but we also won first prize in our company costume contest! All in all, it was a pretty cool day. We got to spend time in the bathroom teasing and spraying our hair, wearing false eye-lashes, and putting on WAY too much lipstick. We also went out for martinis at a fancy golf course after work with our $100 prize!

Living in today's world, us lady-folk are so lucky to be able to wear whatever we want. Normally, I'm a jeans and t-shirt girl at work. Dressing up only in black slacks/skirt and a blouse when I'm feeling fancy. Working in Southern California allows you the total surfer, laid-back style. I have to say that I did feel really good about myself dressed up like that. The clothes were flattering to my figure, my makeup really made my good features stand out, and the heels did great things for my legs. Oh, and the hair was kinda rad.

Now the down-side. By the end of the day, I was so uncomfortable! Wearing a panty-girdle all day is just wrong! My ankles almost broke like ten times when I missed a step wearing those shoes. A girl brought her dog in to visit, and I had to be extra careful when I attacked it with luvs as I was wearing a skirt. Oh, and my hair...oh god...I didn't get that next untangled until this morning!

Any women who lived through the 50s and 60s - please let me know how you did it! Do men know how hard it is to keep that look up? 

I still go back to the fact that I felt really pretty, so maybe dressing up once in a while is a good thing. Like everything in life, it's probably only okay in moderation. I've often heard the line, "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have." There might be some truth in that - I feel that I was taken a tad more seriously yesterday than when I wear a "Miller High-Life" t-shirt to work. Maybe the "recipe for success" does have a thing or two to do with wardrobe choice. Our CEO came by our department yesterday joked that maybe instead of "Casual Friday" we have "Casual Everyday" and a "Dress-Up Friday." I think I could handle that.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers

Ok, so I didn't "pick" a peck of pickled peppers, I made pickled peppers. What I don't get about that that goofy old nursery rhyme is that he picked any pickled peppers at all, correct me if I'm wrong here, but have you ever seen "pickled" anything growing on plants? Oh, and I guess I didn't even come near making a peck as that's about 2 gallons. I made a jam-jar worth. 'Nuff said. Moving on.

My husband bought these pepper plants* a while back, and it turns out those mofos are way too hot for human consumption. We've made some dishes with them, but we use just a piece of one pepper, and it's plenty hot. I decided to pickle those bad-boys and see what happens. Here's how I did it...

  • Peppers
  • Garlic
  • Dill
  • Salt
  • Vinegar

  • Mason Jar, lid, etc.
  • Saucepan
  • Big pot for water-bath

I've made pickles before, and they came out okay, so I pretty much did the same thing, only with the usual adjustments that probably make it worse. First I cut the peppers into slices - be sure to wear gloves** when doing this. Put the sliced peppers in your mason jar.

I then skinned 4 cloves of garlic and added them to the mason jar. You might think that's an excess of garlic, and it probably is, but that's just how I roll.

Word on the street is that you're supposed to use dill seed or dill weed, but I had neither. I just sprinkled a bunch of dried dill into the jar.

I remember from making pickles that you need to use equal parts of pickling salt and vinegar for the brine. I don't have pickling salt, so I used sea salt.*** Since I just did 1 jam-jar worth of peppers, I used a half cup of vinegar. As I started measuring out the salt, I thought to myself, "I say goddamn, that's a lot of salt!" So I probably only did a 1/4 cup. Mix them in your saucepan and heat up until the salt is dissolved. Be careful not to breathe that shit in, it's mighty painful and stinky if you do.

Finally, pour your brine into your jar and leave about a 1/4 or 1/2 inch of space. Put your lid on, and do your water-bath thang for about 10 minutes. Make sure your jar seals, or you could get botulism up in your shiz, and nobody wants that.

I really hope this comes out good, or at least edible! If anyone out there has done this before and can help me along in my process, that would be great! Oh, and do you know how long it has to sit before it's thoroughly pickled? Eh, whatever, I'll just Google it.

* Not sure what kind they are - take a look at the pictures to see if you can figure it out.

** One time I was cutting pasilla peppers for fajitas, and I touched my eye a while after, and I damn near went blind. Those weren't even that hot, so who knows what the hell would happen with these bad-boys!

*** Sea salt might have been a bad choice as it didn't dissolve quite right, and I have all these salt crystals floating in my jar now.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Did Somebody Say "Beerfest?"

This weekend was very special, because Sunday was the Santa Barbara Beer Festival! We've been looking forward to this year's beer fest since we left the festival last year. We had so much fun this year! We tried a bunch of beer, ate giant brats, got temporary tattoos, AND learned a few things about beer. Did I mention that we all had matching t-shirts? Oh yeah - it was pretty badass. My girlfriend made up shirts for us that had a little turtle carrying a mug of beer on his shell. It said, "Slow and Steady Wins the Race." We called ourselves "Team Drink," and got mad props all over the place. We will definitely have to do shirts again for next year. Now, enough silliness, let's talk beer.

I found that the festival this year was very IPA heavy - it's like the "it" beer. I understand that beer folk done love that beer, but dang - it's just so hoppy and strong! I tried a number of these gnarly beers, but didn't dig too many. Even though I know that I'm not a fan of these beers, I find myself trying them anyway. I went so far as to try Greenflash's "Hop Head Red Ale" - for God's sake, it's called "Hop Head!" Surprise, surprise, it was extremely hoppy, but my husband and his friends really loved it. So if you dig this sort of thing - check out the pic and go scout it out!

The girl pouring at Greenflash told me that she's not a huge fan of that beer either and to try the Pauwel Kwak being poured next door. It was such a smooth brown ale! It came off a tad sweet, but I think that was because I was coming off of Mr. Hop Head. I'm going to try to find this bad-boy again and try it with a clean pallet. Plus, it's a super pretty bottle.

I know I said "enough silliness," but I have to tell you about what a genius I am. One of the highlights for my friends that day was when I put on a temporary tattoo using stout instead of water (Firestone's award-winning Merlin). It seemed like a great idea until I realized how sticky the beer was. Luckily my friend had a water bottle to hose me down so I could enjoy the rest of my day without bees following me around.

All in all, it was a great day, and I broadened my horizons by trying beers that I wouldn't normally buy. Below I've listed out some of the various beers I tried.

Most Interesting:


Hops a'poppin':

There were many more, but my memory is failing me. Anyone have any thoughts on this IPA craze? Am I just not sophisticated enough to get it?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Faith in Humanity Restored!

I had a flight to Phoenix this afternoon, and airports almost always bum me out. The "me first" mentality and general grumpiness of airports blows. I tried to be cheerful and just role with everything in my dramamine induced mellowness, when the weird lady next to me at the gate started painting her freakin' toenails! Seriously, that's gross for many reasons, #1 being the stench of nail-polish and the sight of her icky feet. Maybe that's two things, but it just goes to show how uber gross it was. She asked the woman sitting on the other side of her if it was ok if she did it, but she didn't say jack-shit to me. Well, that was probably for the best considering how my interactions with weird strangers generally don't go well. Ok, so that was really the only thing that totally annoyed me today. Now onto the pozzy aspect of my adventure...

I noticed an older woman in line ahead of me for boarding passes, and I was surprised that she was traveling alone. She was probably in her 80s, cute as hell, and doing her best to navigate her way through our airport...which if you've been to it, is about the size of a Taco Bell. For real. Anyway, this older woman got on the plane by herself, and ended up being seated in front of me. Seeing her reminded me of my Gram, who I miss terribly, so I decided to silently keep an eye on her. Just to make sure she didn't run into any issues along the way.

When the plane landed, and the cabin door opened, all these a-holes on the plane started rushing down the aisle, not having a single thought that maybe other people were on the plane and would like to get off too. I'm all about the idea that you de-plane in the order of the seats...up front gets off first, and you wait for the folks in front of you to get off, etc. I'm all about order and I hate the "I have a connection and I'm sure nobody else but me needs to get off this plane!" attitude. I got up and blocked the aisle in order to let the older woman and the people in her row time to exit.

Once we got off the plane we had to walk through the jetway, which was actually a covered ramp sloped upward to get us back into the terminal. I was having a bit of trouble walking on my wobbly legs as we exited, and I noticed the older woman in front of me was too. Well, out of nowhere this young man, I'd say 20 or so, passed by me. I thought he was rushing to get ahead of everyone like some sort of jerk, when he put his hand on the older woman's shoulder and asked if he could carry her bag. He carried her bag, held her hand, and slowly walked her up to the gate. He chatted with her and left her with her daughter who was waiting for her at the gate. Then he was off on his way. Like some sort of do-good Kayser Soze.

Seriously, I'm a bit of a coldy, but this was one of the most touching things I've seen in a really long time. Right when I thought the world was so full of douches, I see such a lovely act of kindness. Whoever you are kid, way to go!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Huzbend's Amazing Burgers

Over the weekend, my husband made some amazing burgers! He totally took charge of this meal, and as odd as some of his instructions were, I have to say they were the best burgers I've ever had. Recipe as follows:

  • 1 lb ground beef 80/20
  • 1 strip bacon (frozen)
  • Salt/Pepper
  • 1 onion
  • Yellow mustard
  • American Cheese singles

  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Iceberg lettuce leaves
  • Wife's Special Sauce:
    • Ketchup
    • Miracle Whip
    • Dill pickles
  • puffy buns

According to my husband, the hamburger patty is the key - its gotta break apart nice and easily. Get some of the 80/20 butcher beef that has been processed. It looks like long strands pushed through a play-doh squeezer. Break it apart into small pieces into a bowl. Grab your frozen strip of bacon and dice it very fine. Sprinkle the bacon, some salt and pepper into the meat. Lightly mix with your hands. No need to smash the hell out of it (his words, not mine...but it's true) to get it mixed perfectly, you'll end up with tough burgers. Grab about a quarter of the meat, and lightly form the burgers into something slightly resembling a burger. Something about the size of the bun would make sense. Parchment works great to put down a patty and then stack them on top of each other. Toss them in the fridge for a few minutes while you get the rest of the goods prepared.

Cut the onion in half, then slice the halves into thin strips. Heat up a pan with some vegetable oil and cook the onions slowly until caramelized. I sprinkled some salt and pepper on them when I first threw them in, eh, it's an option. Now, while you have these going, get that grill heating up. Ok, back to onions...when they are caramelized, pour on some was probably a tablespoon, but I can't tell for sure since I rarely measure anything. Mix the mustard into the soft and oh-so-gooey onions, then remove the pan from heat and let it sit. This part sounded seriously bizarre to me, but it turns out so damn good! You just gotta try it, if it sucks, then don't ever do it again, but please try it once! I think you'll dig it.

Grill the burgers however you can, gas grill, charcoal, home grill pan, Altoids box grill**, whatever. Flap those patties on the grill, they may look like they'll fall apart, and probably will fall apart if you have some weak grillin skills. Who cares though, American Cheese singles are a great burger glue. Cook them burgers until its done...I guess that all depends on how big your burgers are, and how you like them. You're a big boy and or girl, you know when its done! Throw some cheese on about a minute before that last part... or at that last part...whatever that part is for you.

While you're doing your badass grill-thang, husband says to "Have that wife from the second part of the recipe make you some sauce with the extras, and have her grab your puffy buns...hehe." Ok, so let's break down the "wife sauce*." To make "wife sauce," throw a couple of tablespoons or "scoops," as I like to call them, into a small bowl. Add enough ketchup to make it pink when you mix it around. Dice up a dill pickle spear, and mix that in to. Hazzah, you have "wife sauce."

Now, the grand up your puffy bun, add a good scoop of "wife sauce" to both sides. Place your burger on the "bottom" half Add some sauteed onions on top of the burger, then a piece of lettuce, then a slice of tomato, and boo-ya! You now have the most bomb-ass burger ever.

Now eat dammit, eat - what'r ya waiting for?

*Wife Sauce - this goes back to a dressing that my mom used to make for our salads. She mixed miracle whip and ketchup, and sometimes add some hot sauce! I found that it's a great dressing for burgers, artichokes, and pretty much anything. I add the diced pickles for burgers because I like that you get little pickle bits throughout instead of eating the pickle all at once.

**Altoids grill, maybe only for sliders...see more here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Forever awkward...

So this morning I had a doctor appointment, no big whoop. After I checked in at the registration desk, I walked over to the elevator and got in. Right as the doors were closing a man in his late-60s/early-70s jumped in at the last minute. No biggie, that sort of thing happens all the time with elevators.

Right as we were about to get out of the elevator, he looked back at me (as he was in front of me), then jumped out, and took off for the sign-in desk for the doctor. I was like, "ok, well, he must be in a hurry cuz he's old." I didn't think much of it as I live in a community where there are often rude "me first" types, so sadly, I'm used to it.

Mr. Speedy then walked straight up to the first window at the sign-in desk, as I slowly made my way to the second one. The sign-in took all of 5 seconds, and in no time, I was sitting in the waiting room happily reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

Out of nowhere, as Mr. Speedy sat down in the waiting room across from me, he started up a conversation. At first I thought he was just going to complain about kids these days, elevators not having bright enough buttons, or the way men don't wear hats to ball games, but noooo...he says, "Sorry if I was rude by running in ahead of you out of the elevator." I was shocked, it's so rare to get an apology for bad things let alone trivial annoyances. I told him that it was no biggie and that I was early for my appointment and in no rush. He then said, "Well, the reason is that I came in this morning and held the door in the lobby open for a lady. She then got in line ahead of me, got into the waiting room first, and got my appointment! The nurse said that I was a minute late so they gave my appointment to the lady I held the door for. Can you believe that?"

Before I could say much of anything, he said "So they wouldn't get me in to see my doctor today. You know what I did? I switched doctors! I'm not waiting weeks to see the doctor when I've had this appointment for months!" If you know me, you know that I'm not very outgoing when it comes to speaking to total strangers. In many respects, I'm still the shy kid hiding behind my mom's leg at church. But this time was going to be different, this time I was going to say something fun and witty, and make a friend out of an unlikely stranger! So I said, "That's what you get for displaying a random act of kindness!" He just gave me this troubled look and started reading his magazine. Conversation over.

Shortly thereafter, I was called in to see the doctor. I will be forever awkward...