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Archive for the ‘Failure’ Category

Whoops

My brother and I hit/slapped/punched/pummeled each other until we were far too old to be doing such a thing. My mother thought it would never end. I remember being 14 years old and going after him with a firepoker. He held my face in the snow until I sobbed when I was 15. I knocked his tooth out in a particularly feisty altercation. (A pattern, it seems…) In high school I learned very quickly to not fall asleep on the couch; BabyBro would take a running start and all 250 pounds of him would come crashing on my back. I was heavy and stubborn as an ox; he was the captain of the football team and outweighed me by….a lot. We definitely broke some things.

We never really got along and I cannot remember a time when we didn’t fight. I think being so incredibly different made us natural adversaries. He was popular, I was not. I excelled in school, he struggled. I was brimming with opinions, he was always a people pleaser. The fact that we were 11 months apart didn’t help. If I had a dime for every time a teacher said “I cannot believe BabyBro is your brother!”

Despite all the physical nonsense, the words were always more hurtful. He coined my middle school nickname, “The Beast”. I would walk on the bus and hear “Beeeeasssst”. Sometimes, it would take a Spanish flavor and morph into “La Beastia”. He also was the brains behind “Titty Mamma” and “Helen Keller” (as in my acne was so bad you could read braile off my forehead).

My retort? To all of this? It was always the same. “You were a mistake.” Now, let’s be honest; he was an accident. No one has a kid in January and actively tries to have another one by January, but that was what happened with me and my brother. Wires got…crossed. So, while my parent’s did want to have more than one kid, I speak the truth when I say they didn’t want him so damn soon. So yes, my only response to all my brother’s taunting was to remind him his existence was an accident.

As an older, more mature adult (stop laughing) I actually feel pretty awful about the years I spent calling BabyBro a mistake.  I mean, you make a mistake on a math test or on a spreadsheet; a person isn’t a mistake.  Then again, I like to think I am not a beast…

You wanna see a mistake? Look below, kids.  This was my attempt at pasta from scratch…and, yeah. It was not so good.  I tried to hand roll it and it just didn’t get thin enough.  Now, it was entirely edible, but I would never serve it to a guest.  It was thick and a bit gummy….just an all around disappointment.  Such a sad mistake this was…but hey, accidents happen.

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Ain’t No Sunshine

Last Friday night, I did something completely out of character for me: I stayed in.

MamaBear expressed shock when she learned I was home all night. When I told her, she said, “Alone? All night? You didn’t do anything? Wow.”

The thing is, I did do something. I cleaned. I ordered sushi and drank some beer. I listened to music a bit too loudly. It was a lovely evening. I got back to basics with me.

Then, at 11 pm, I decided it would be an awesome idea to watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Ya know, because I haven’t had an ugly cry in a good, long time. There is no better way to end a relaxing day than on a heap in your bed, sobbing in to a pillow, clutching your teddy bear, reliving every heartbreak and emotional transgression ever heaped upon you as snot drips down your face. I think these little releases are necessary, because God knows, my feelings scare me. I know my secret emotional pain is safe with Charlie Kaufman. Also, it is always beneficial to be reminded that sometimes, you can be pretty re-god damn-diculous. You are 27-years-old, hugging a stuffed animal, crying like a lunatic. Seriously woman, GET IT TOGETHER. There are bigger problems in the world than your achy, breaky heart.

That movie absolutely wrecks me. Raw and honest, it is impossible to watch and not wince as the two main characters slowly and painfully dismantle a relationship they had at one time nurtured with love and affection. You feel the connection and energy between Clementine and Joel and ache as you watch their union unravel. To me, the scariest part about love is trusting that this person won’t hurt you, that when you lay yourself bare in front of someone they will treat your heart with kindness and care. To love is human and often an unstoppable force, but to trust someone is a choice that could end in disaster or change your life…these are the risks we take.  All of this is fully on display in the film.

Of course, when watching the movie, one ponders: If I could, would I erase anyone from my memory? There was a time when I would have said “yes”. When the pain was too searing and the hurt too powerful, I would have gladly welcomed the wiping clean of my brain. But now? I cannot think of one person, one relationship, rendezvous, or careless romantic decision I have made that I would sweep away. Some of these men are amongst my best friends and some of them taught me just how fucking tough I really am. Cliche as it sounds, I have learned something from every single one of those beautiful disasters. Your heart can be trampled and your spirit can be bruised, but those lessons are yours. You earned them, you grew from them, and you are more alive because of them.

It is hard not to view these things as failures, but I prefer to think of them as triumphs. Every single one of us is still standing, even though sometimes you have to let it all out as you watch Jim Carey stare in to Kate Winslet’s eyes. It reminds you how far you have come, that your life is pretty damn great, and those tears are mere reminders of all the lessons you have endured. For now, I am happy that those lessons are in the past. My heart is full, it beats and it yearns, and there is a whole world of possibility out there.

We are all trying to do our best…. and the louder statement about success is made when we we stumble, what we do with life’s lemons. I was reminded of that this weekend when I made these cookies. They sucked, through and through. But the dough? The sweet, sticky batter? Perfection. Sometimes, the path to health is a little rocky. Sure, it didn’t work out this time, but it was full of possibility…and that’s enough to keep me trying.

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Damn, I need a cigarette and a hug. I totally feel feelings, y’all! I am funny at So Good today… promise. Back to the regularly scheduled shenanigans here tomorrow.

Here is the recipe, but I do not recommend you try this.

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When I had Bawstin and InspectorG over the other weekend, I did my best to act calm, cool and collected in the kitchen as I rushed to get ready. I have no idea why I felt the need to portray myself in such a manner, as they know the truth about who I really am. I am positive calm, cool, nor collected are words they would choose to describe me.

As I juggled the menu, readjusting cooking times to compensate for Bawstin’s late arrival(damn you, US Government, for holding up my dinner party!), I dumped the batter for this cake in to what I thought was a 9″ round cake tin. I saw InspectorG give the very full pan a sideways glance, but I chose to ignore him. I plugged away and brushed away the warning signs of an impending disaster.

About an hour later, we were all sitting on the couch as the cake baked. The wine floweth, the conversation pinged around with ease…and a smell crept in to the living room. The smell of burned cake, to be exact. FUCK! I ran in to the kitchen, threw the oven open and saw a perfectly formed circle of spilled cake sitting below the pan…the molten batter had crept over the edges. This prompted InspectorG to proclaim “I knew that pan was too full!” Of course, his proclamation annoyed the hell out of me. God dammit, screwing up is bad enough…I do not need someone WHO HAD NEVER HAD SOUP UNTIL COLLEGE schooling me on how to cook.

So, yes, the pan was too small…I accidentally used an 8″ round…size matters and do not let anyone tell you otherwise!! But, this cake was incredibly awesome once I pried it away from the charred edges of it’s vessel. Also, whipped cream can cover a multitude of sins…pay no attention to the ragged edges. It was moist and rich and decadent and all that is right with the world.We tore through this thing at an alarming rate and those boys only made fun of me for about 5 minutes. Once they tasted this, all was forgiven.

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One Pan Mocha Cake

From Pittsburgh Needs Eated

1/3 cup (35g) dutch process cocoa powder
75g unsalted butter (about 6 tbsp)
1/3 cup (80ml) light olive oil
2/3 cup strong black coffee, cooled (or 3 tsp instant espresso powder dissolved in 2/3 cup boiling water)
90g (about 3 ounces) good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
250g castor sugar (about 1 cup + 2 tbsp) NOTE: castor sugar is superfine sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (185g) all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup (80ml) buttermilk (or sour cream or yogurt, in a pinch)

1. Preheat your oven to 150C/300F. Butter a 23cm/9in round cake pan (preferably 3 inches high). Line the base with buttered parchment paper, then dust the pan with flour. Shake out the excess flour and set aside.

2. Put the cocoa, butter, oil, and coffee into a largish saucepan. Bring them to the boil over medium heat, stirring frequently until the mixture is silky, then take it off the heat. Add the chocolate and sugar and whisk them in until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

3. Once the mixture has cooled, add the egg and vanilla extract, whisking them in thoroughly. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and stir them in until they’re just combined. Whisk in the buttermilk.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and give it a gentle shake to level it out. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a fine skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert the cake onto a rack, remove the paper and leave it to cool completely.

5. When you’re ready to serve, transfer the cake to a serving plate. Just before serving, spread the cream on top, then use the back of a spoon to swirl it a bit. To finish off, grate some chocolate on top.

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Some things are so good in concept, seeming to totally make sense. Leggings (oh, the comfort and ease!), Segways (I don’t even have to walk anymore!), and Starlight Express (Andrew Lloyd Webber…on roller skates!) all spring to mind. But in the end, they bring nothing but disappointment.

For me, the ultimate letdown has always been marijuana. Now, no one needs to mellow their harsh more than me, but this is one vice I simply cannot take up. An asthmatic since adolescence, pot simply tears my chest apart. It is probably for the best; moderation is not a word I have ever become intimately acquainted with. I would live a life surrounded by empty Frito bags. This affliction has caused me to utter the most pathetic little phrase known to mankind more times than I would care to admit: “No thanks–it makes me wheeze”. It seriously sounds like a phrase from an after school special or public service announcement (“I learned it by watching you!!”), but it is the sad truth.

I have acquired another type of herb aversion with this recipe. I have made this creamy Greek salad before; I originally ate something vaguely resembling this at a party last summer and I threw this adaptation together. Results have always been great. Then, I had to go screw it all up; I can never leave anything well enough alone. I usually use chives as the fresh herb component to this recipe and results are always mellow and delicious. Instead, to “Greekify” it, I decided to use fresh oregano this time. Turns out I hate fresh, raw oregano and it was a horrible match for this dish. It tasted like…stale ass that had sat in the sun for a day. It left a fuzzy feeling in my mouth and tasted kinda pungent and was way too aggressive for the simple, but delicate dish… and yeah…eww. Don’t try this at home kids.

So this recipe is written using chives, which I know do NOT taste like ass. This is a simple, but delicious side salad that I often pack for lunch, but is refreshing alongside grilled meats. A few quick tips: strain your Greek yogurt through a coffee filter to make it extra thick, rinse the canned beans and artichokes to control salt levels and making a garlic paste will help the garlic distribute much more evenly throughout the creamy yogurt.

Just back away from the oregano…

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Creamy Greek Salad

A Lemmonex Original

3/4 cup fat free Greek yogurt (I like Fage), strained

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled (Presidente makes a great fat free feta)

1 – 14 oz can artichokes, quartered and rinsed

1 – 14 oz can chickpeas, rinsed

1 medium cucumber, seeded and chopped

1 garlic clove, made in to paste

2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in bowl. Chill for about an hour. Serve.

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Defining Irony

Going over my blog stats today, I noticed this linked to me.Somehow, a semi-rant I threw up in November about Sandra Lee ended up on a fan website dedicated to Aunt Sandy.I will never turn away traffic, but if vegetarian websites start linking to me, we are gonna have a problem.   

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I have several great recipes waiting in the pipeline, I just have (still) been feeling like utter crap. Even better, I have been acting very cranky and being snippy with some lovely people. I am charming like that.

In times like these, I am happy to be reminded I have fantastic friends that send me surprises in the mail.  Kickball sent Rue McClanahan’s memoir “My First Five Husbands…and the Ones that Got Away” just because.  I love getting random treats in the mail, especially when it is a saucy old lady talking about sex.

And yes, that is my teddy bear.  He is 20-years-old and fabulous.

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Culling through recipes in an attempt to find a perfect pumpkin cheesecake recipe, I was reminded of the recipe below.  It is from Sandra Lee of “Semi-Homemade Cooking” fame. Everything about her offends me to my core, but this cake really takes the…erm…cake.

I can name four things off the top of my head that I find offensive about this cake, but I will let you form your own opinions.

But really? Fricking corn nuts?

 Kwanzaa Cake

1 (10 to 12-ounce) purchased angel food cake
1 container (16 ounce) vanilla frosting
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (21-ounce) container apple filling or topping
1 (1.7-ounce) package corn nuts
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/2 cup popped popcornSpecial Equipment:
Kwanzaa candles

Using a serrated knife, cut cake horizontally into 2 layers. Place bottom cake layer, cut side up, on a serving platter. Mix frosting, cocoa powder, vanilla, and cinnamon in large bowl until combined. Spread about 1/4 of the frosting over top of cake layer on platter. Top with second cake layer, cut side down. Spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake to coat completely. Spoon apple pie filling into hole in center of cake. Place candles atop cake. Sprinkle top of cake with some corn nuts, pumpkin seeds, and popcorn. Sprinkle remaining corn nuts and pumpkin seeds around base of cake.

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