Sunday, December 26, 2010

More Reasons to Enjoy MKE

There is nothing good about getting up before 5am. Nothing. Never. But what makes it incrementally better is flying out of Milwaukee, drinking Alterra coffee, and getting upgraded on Airtran. That, and a tastier than expected breakfast burrito from the aforementioned Alterra. Actually, any one of those things would suffice, but all four is a home run.

The upgrade gave me a seat next to the congresswoman representing Milwaukee. She told me that she hadn’t been planning on heading back to DC that day and so her granddaughter had brought her some clothes to wear for the trip. I didn’t understand that since theoretically she has closets of clothes in both cities, but since she doesn’t actually represent me, I didn’t feel obligated to figure this out. I did however notice that the zipper on her pants was held up by a safety pin and her sweater was dirty, so I did give her the benefit of the doubt that she might not have chosen those clothes for herself. And if she did, well, let’s just say that it’s good thing that I’m no longer a constituent.

She told me she’s going to be the new chair of the Women’s Caucus so I gave her a book recommendation (A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood) and in a few weeks, I think I'm going to follow up with her to see if she's read it.

Oh, and did I mention the free wifi this month on Airtran? Bonus!

Greek-Orthodox Chanukah

One thing that can be said about the Greek-Orthodox Chanukah party is that there was plenty of food, Greek and otherwise. And there were some leftovers, but really, not that much, unless you count an extra gallon of green beans, 10 stuffed potatoes, 12 stuffed peppers and a 9x9 pan of spanikopita. And homemade hummus and vegetables. And peanut butter-cayenne cookies (aka ‘kickies’). Okay, there weren’t really that many cookies left. And given how many olives we started with, there are really not so many of those left either. I did learn that six pounds of green beans is about 3.5 pounds too many to make for 25 people.

The hummus alone was an adventure and actually, quite delicious. It was, shall we say, rustic. My friend Dennis told me to use a ricer. Basically, they are gigantic garlic presses, and I don’t actually have one of those, either. And even if I did, it would have taken too long to go through four cans of garbanzo beans. But I figured I could look for a ricer in the store, just to check them out. I quickly decided that it’s crazy to spend $20 on something I don’t actually need for anything else. (The Alton Brown rule that the only unitasker in the kitchen should be the fire extinguisher.) My Cuisinart mini-prep was too small. The blender didn’t like the combination of beans and tahini. And the immersion blender worked, but had to be unclogged too often. So whatever was mushed up by the time that I got tired of dealing with it all was mushed. And whatever wasn’t, wasn’t. Hence the ‘rustic’.

No, we did not light a chanukiah, much to my dismay. I was prepared to do so on the original date of the party (the 11th night of Chanuka) but by the 19th, I thought it might be considered a bit excessive.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Greek Orthodox Chanukah

We had hoped to have Ronnie's family over during Chanukah. It didn't work out. Really, it was more like herding cats than planning a party. No one was available at the same time on any day. So we planned a gathering for the 11th night of the festival and assumed that we'd jerryrig a menorah.

That didn't work out either.

Fast forward to the heretofore unknown 19th day of Chanukah, and everyone is coming. And then some. But, because the party is really a week after the original planned gathering, we decided that it would be more of a Greek Orthodox Chanukah.

We're serving Greek food. Yes, we are fully aware that the Greeks were not the heroes in the story. But Hasmonean food has never been known to be at all delicious, and, well, Greek food is.

And for the record, there will not be saganaki.

Thursday, December 02, 2010


As I said before, I've never been one to bow to peer pressure. Unless brownies were involved. But most of the time they aren't, so it's not a problem. But a few weeks ago, when I started this Couch to 5k program, I must have also signed up for a free subscription to peer pressure. It's probably good for me in this case (unlike the brownies), but just to be clear, I don't like it.

Tonight, after we ran (and you know when I say "run", I really mean a slow jog, right?), I was told that we're going to spin this weekend after our next run. We are?!

I've been to two spinning classes in my life. At the first one, my only goal was to sit on the bike and pedal until the class was over. I didn't worry about changing the resistance, standing up to pedal or going nowhere ridiculously fast. And mainly, I was afraid of what the instructor would do if I left early. I watched every single second tick away on the clock. And I think my alternate personality went to the second class because for the life of me, I cannot figure out why I would have returned.

I'm still not convinced I'll survive another day of running much less a spin class, but at least I'll know who to blame when I can't sit down for a week.

P.S. Lest you think I've turned into a gym rat, I have not. I don't own any "performance gear", still use a water bottle that won't fit into any of the cup holders, and have yet to find the joy in sweating.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


It's true. I admit it. I confess.

I made "stoup" from a Rachael Ray recipe. I'm not sure if I actually saw this show, (and if I did, it was a while ago), or if I just stumbled upon the recipe, but I tried it and have decided it's a winter winner. It's called Stuffed Cabbage Stoup and though I'm not sure I've ever eaten traditional stuffed cabbage, I think this could accurately be described as stuffed cabbage deconstructed.

But of course I made it vegetarian which is good because I'm not known for following recipes so exactly. It turns out I didn't have coriander or allspice. Go figure that I did have smoked paprika - which is good because I'm pretty sure that it is what makes it all so good. And I don't use white rice so I used brown. And I didn't have any fresh parsley or dill so I used one of those frozen cubes that come in handy when you don't have any fresh dill at the beginning of December.

And I used garlic powder instead of fresh garlic. I know - it's a sacrilege. I should get double credit for having smoked paprika, okay? And then she calls for using 1/2 to 3/4 of a cabbage. What did she think I was going to do with 1/4 of a cabbage? I took a risk and used it all.

The biggest problem with the recipe is that it makes enough for a small army and I just don't have that many bowls.