Monday, September 19, 2011


It's pronounced like "fuh," so I probably should have called this entry "What the Pho?!" But hey, there are already 743,000 results when you google "what the pho," so none of that for me. I prefer my original title: Pho. SO LAZY.

It's a vietnamese soup with a bunch of topping you add in right before eating. It's one of the simplest, yet most flavorful and delicious things I've ever eaten. And perfect for when you're under the weather in any way; headache, body aches, cold, fever, broken spirit - whatever you like. Fortunately, I only had the first two of those (my spirit is wonderfully grand right now, thank you), so I got some pho from Ha Long Bay down the street - my favorite restaurant in Madison. I was knocked the hell out after my first couple of weeks of teaching hilarious, but really really gross children, as well as a weekend with zero down time and tons of busyness. So I got this soup as a l'il treat. The ingredients are so pretty, and I like documenting anything that involves a process, so here you go:

Container of chicken and broth, rice noodles and scallions in the other container, and the bag of bean sprouts, basil, jalapeños, and lime.
The noodles and onions and some parsley.
You dump the noodles and onions into the broth and let the noodles soften.
I am a wiener - I only used one jalapeño and I only let it sit in the broth for about five minutes, and even then, it was almost too spicy for me.
Put in a few basil leaves, a good squeeze of lime, that one temporary jalapeño, and the bean sprouts. Delicious.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Elusive Student Handbook

When I was in second grade, I memorized all the state capitals of the United States. I think, around the same time, my sister was studying them as well, and I helped her memorize them with the use of this book:

Student Handbook! How comprehensive! In the geography section, there was a list of states, organized by region, and their capitals. I quizzed Sara on each state, relentlessly repeating "Richmond, Virginia," because she just couldn't remember it. My Dad would peep in and out of the family room, listening to us. I remember him cracking up when he heard the capital of Florida: Tallahassee. "This is how we say 'Come over here and kiss my ass' in Arabic!" he exclaimed. Well, you'd actually pronounce it "Ta'al boos teezi." Same difference. I remember sitting with the heavy, brown book in my lap and giggling with my father and sister. Oh, America. You have no idea how hilarious you are in Arabic.

Anyhow, that Student Handbook was the greatest. It had so much information in it, and it really appealed to me as a kid. I loved it. So you can imagine my surprise and excitement then, when, last weekend, I saw that a friend of mine had the very same book on his bookshelf! I was thrilled, and sat on the floor for a good half hour, poring over the pages and laughing at the pictures in the dictionary which was in the last two-thirds of the book. Here are some of my favorites:

Oh, a muff AND a muffler! There's a difference!

Round-shouldered boy. Yep.

I just like the sound of all these E-words.

I'm both enraptured and enthralled by that gentleman's enigmatic smile. Also? English horn.

I don't think that house looks all that eerie. This pictorial definition is deceiving!

I like the potential correlation between drumsticks and drippings. Delicious.

Look at the interplay between dragon and downcast eyes! Totally on purpose.

Embryo of a rabbit. That is all.

Look at this guy! Look at this damn exhibitionist! He sure expanded my watchband, if you know what I mean...

This is also a history lesson, because you can see the tackiness that was considered "fancy" back in the 1970s.

Writing with flourishes! I feel like this group of pictures is pretty fruity.

Look at that judgey woman! It's just a furled sail, lady. And a fulcrum. Don't hate.

I understand this boy completely. I, too, gape in wonder at the majesty of the Student Handbook. The gargoyle is sort of gaping in wonder as well, don't you think?

I just love this one. No explanation necessary.

Handlebar mustache AND handcuffs in the same group? YOW-OW-OW!!!

Hey, it's Ole Lady McJudgey again!

What a slob.

Pictures aside, some of the definitions are hilarious as well. Check out what "Hollywood" means.

This one is just a little depressing.
I'm so glad I got to relive the pictures of the Student Handbook as an adult! I truly believe that my sarcasm and cynicism play well into my judgement of pictures. What a productive day!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What I Made This Summer

It's no secret that I'm not the greatest cook in the world. I am a damn fine baker, and I can prepare the hell out of appetizers and desserts and party foods. But sometimes you have to try a little harder, and that was what I wanted to do this summer. Also, sometimes trying results in beautiful pictures of foods. And my love for food pictures is also no secret. So, this is what I made this summer:

Egg salad a la Nanny! Well okay, my mom made this one. But it was so delicious that I had to include it in the summer food blog. She puts in chopped up lettuce, tomato, and green onion. Delicious!

Oh, just a sandwich platter. I made this for lunch at my parents' house last week. Salami, turkey, ham, and two kinds of cheese! There were also some vegetables on another plate, so don't judge.

Look what you can do with such magnificence!

I cooked tofu for the first time! This tofu turned out awesome, but the "stir fry" was pretty sorry. Carrots, red cabbage, and green beans with sesame seeds. This could have used some noodles or rice, but I think my main goal was cooking tofu. So, BOOM.

Couscous! This is preparing, not cooking. I'll admit it. But I love the picture. It's a blend called Harvest Grains and it's delicious.

Um...okay...this is preparing, too. So what, man? I've told you before - it's my blog and I do what I want. This fantastic thing is called a "hot dog." Bite me.

Okay, polenta. I fried it up in a pan and sprinkled paprika on it.

Then I added some melted cheddar, cut up tomatoes, avocado, and two poached eggs. Is this considered cooking, snobby?

Tomato, mozzarella, basil salad. Two kinds of tomato.

Taco salad! I forgot about this one. Bed of lettuce topped with Gimme Lean (AHAHAHAHHHAAHAHA) that I seasoned like taco meat, tomatoes, vegan cheese, guacamole, and plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

Hmm...Jess cooked all of this, except for that little brown thing in the corner. That's zucchini bread that I baked, but I guess this blog isn't about baking. This one is. Jess made mashed purple potatoes with horseradish cheddar and a Moroccan carrot salad with dates and mint. That yellow thing is corn which is still attached to its own cob. Crazy!

Have you ever heard of nachos? Sarah and I made a nacho bar at her house with her Dad. Then we watched about 6.5 hours of True Blood. That's what you're supposed to do with your BFF, got it?

Black bean and corn salad! Black beans, corn, mango, red onion, avocado and cilantro. Topped with juice from one lime and one orange, and a little salt and pepper. You can substitute tomato for mango and it gives it a totally different taste.
I also made sushi, but you probably read about that already because you're an incredibly loyal fan who reads everything I write. Right? RIGHT?! Now that the weather has been fall-like for a whole 36 hours, I've already baked that zucchini bread and am getting together ingredients for banana-honey-date muffins that I'll made today or tomorrow. I'll probably just eat cider donuts and pumpkin-flavored things for the next few months and never touch a vegetable again. Thanks for everything, summer eating!