Saturday, August 30

The Food Experience Meme

I got this at Queen of Dirty Laundry, where I appropriate most of my memes. Thanks, Lori!

Have you ever tried
  • Venison? Nope. I have a personal rule against eating cute animals.

  • Nettle tea? Not on its own, but I've had a pregnancy tea with nettle in it.

  • Huevos rancheros? Sorta. I've had some kind of tex-mex egg casserole wrapped in tortillas.

  • Steak tartare? Yep, though I didn't know I'd ordered it at the time.

  • Crocodile? Nope.

  • Black pudding? Ugh, no.

  • Cheese fondue? Yup, back before the dairy strike.

  • Carp? Probably not. I'm not much for seafood.

  • Borscht? Or beets.

  • Baba ghanoush? Yep. I prefer hummus, though.

  • Calamari? I was probably made to bite a fried ring once, but ewwwww!

  • Pho? I had to look this one up. I think my sister and I made a chicken version once about 10 years ago.

  • PB&J sandwich? Is this on here just to make sure everybody gets a chance to answer "Yes"? (Though, I suppose if you have a nut allergy, peanut butter wouldn't be an option.)

  • Aloo gobi? No, but I love the line from Bend It Like Beckham, "... and she made lovely aloo gobi last week."

  • Hot dog from a street cart? Hot dog, no. Pretzels, ohh yeah. Mmmmm.

  • Epoisses? Who? Had to look this one up, too. Nope.

  • Black truffle? Only the chocolate kind.

  • Fruit wine made from something other than grapes? Yup. Pear and, I think, blackberry.

  • Steamed pork buns? Like pot stickers? Otherwise, no.

  • Pistachio ice cream? Yum. Yes.

  • Heirloom tomatoes? Maybe. If so, it's not something I intentionally set out to go eat.

  • Fresh wild berries? Yup. We once made ice cream out of wild blueberries.

  • Foie gras? Blecch. No.

  • Rice and beans? Red, black, and pinto.

  • Brawn, or head cheese? I had to look this one up as well. Ew. Along with the "cute animals" rule, I have one about no eyes in my food.

  • Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper? Nope. I'm not much for hot peppers. Good food shouldn't hurt.

  • Dulce de leche? Yes. More things to miss in a dairy-free lifestyle.

  • Oysters? I had a bite of a fried oyster po'boy once.

  • Baklava? Yes. Yum!

  • Bagna cauda? Ba-whosa what-a? Nope. Not a big anchovy fan.

  • Wasabi peas? Nope, doesn't fit in with my ideals about good food not hurting.

  • Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl? Clam chowder, yes. Sourdough bowl, yes. Together, no.

  • Salted lassi? So, now that I've looked this up, it's just iced yogurt with salt and pepper. Ick. I do did like mango lassis (lassi? lassie??).

  • Sauerkraut? Yup, though probably only on a reuben.

  • Root beer float? Oh, yummy. Yes, and one more thing I can't really have anymore.

  • Cognac with a fat cigar? Yes to the first, and no-ugh-yuck-gross to the second.

  • Clotted cream tea? Mmmm. Devonshire tea. And they say British food is bad.

  • Vodka jelly/Jell-O? Nope.

  • Gumbo? Yup. They don't let you out of Louisiana 'til they've watched you down some gumbo (or so they told me).

  • Oxtail? Certain parts of the animal just weren't made for eating. (That would be a "no".)

  • Curried goat? I sure did. It wasn't nearly as bad as I would have though.

  • Whole insects? Ick, no.

  • Phaal? (After a quick google search) Do I need to keep on this not hurting thing?

  • Goat's milk? Only in cheese and yogurt.

  • Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$130 or more? Highly doubtful. Maker's Mark only costs about $25.

  • Fugu? I don't generally eat computer programs--oh, wait, you mean the fish? No.

  • Chicken tikka masala? I'm guessing I have at the Indian buffet. Their food isn't labeled very clearly in English, so I'm not sure.

  • Eel? No, thanks.

  • Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut? Yes. Yum. Right off the conveyor belt, even.

  • Sea urchin? No.

  • Prickly pear? Yup. Breaded and deep fried.

  • Umeboshi? Pickled fruit. Hmmm, no.

  • Abalone? Ick. It was bad enough when I thought this was fish.

  • Paneer? Does Panera count? I may have had it in something at the Indian place, but not to my knowledge.

  • McDonald's Big Mac Meal? Yup. They'll even make it without cheese if you ask.

  • Spaetzle? Homemade by a woman of German descent (or is she Swiss? I forget).

  • Dirty gin martini? Nope. I don't like green olives.

  • Beer above 8% ABV? Apparently not. Guinness is the strongest I've had.

  • Poutine? Another Google search. Only if smothered and covered hash browns at the Waffle House count.

  • Carob chips? Yup. My parents used to substitute them for chocolate chips. Probably would have worked better if the carob chips were sweetened.

  • S'mores? Yum. My new favorite is coconut marshmallows with dove dark chocolate.

  • Sweetbreads? "Sweetbreads a la Gusteau ... in an anchovy-licorice sauce." In real life, no.

  • Kaolin? Yes. I ate paper as a kid.

  • Currywurst? Ick. I'll stick to bratwurst on a bun with a zig-zag of plain ketchup, thanks.

  • Durian? Nope. I hear it tastes good if you can get past the smell though (I don't expect I could).

  • Frogs' legs? No, I think frogs are cute.

  • Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. I've also had zeppoli, the Italian version of fried dough.

  • Haggis? No. Cute animals.

  • Fried plantain? Yup. Good sweet or savory.

  • Chitterlings? No. Not interested. (Shudder.)

  • Gazpacho? Bread soup? Hmmm. No, I think I'll stick to bread pudding.

  • Caviar and blini? Yes, but not together.

  • Louche absinthe? No.

  • Gjetost, or brunost? No, but after looking it up, it actually sounds like something worth trying.

  • Roadkill? Not as far as I know.

  • Baijiu? Had to look this one up, too. No.

  • Hostess Fruit Pie? Yum. Yes, but not for many years.

  • Snail? No. Ick.

  • Lapsang souchong? Yet another Google search. Tea that smells like a campfire? No.

  • Bellini? Peach is my favorite.

  • Tom yum? No. Too much seafood. I've had Tim Tams, though. Can I count that instead?

  • Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant? Nope. I can't afford that many stars. (And, just for the record, why is a tire company awarding stars to restaurants, anyway?) (Ooh, here's why.)

  • Kobe beef? No, but this I might actually try.

  • Hare? Cute animal.

  • Goulash? Not since I was a kid, and it was a church potluck recipe, so I don't know how authentic it really was. We didn't have any Hungarians at our church.

  • Flowers? Yup. In salads a few times.

  • Horse? Ew. No. Besides, it's a cute animal.

  • Criollo chocolate? Nope.

  • Spam? I'm sure I have on some camping trip or another.

  • Soft shell crab? No. I think I've had crabmeat, but, again, not a big seafood fan.

  • Rose harissa? Rose who? (Google is sure getting a workout tonight.) Nope.

  • Catfish? Yup. Deep fried. Wasn't half bad.

  • Mole poblano? Chocolate and peppers ... that's pushing it just a little bit, don't you think?

  • Bagel and lox? Bagels, yes. Lox? Ugh, no.

  • Lobster Thermidor? So, looking it up, it's basically a lobster omelet. Nope. I've had lobster, though.

  • Polenta? Yum. Maybe that's what I'll make for breakfast.

  • Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee? Nope. Not a big coffee drinker.

  • Snake? No.

Tuesday, August 26

WFMW: Virtual Family Gatherings

I don't know how many of you, my loyal readers, have the privilege of living nearby your extended family. That is not the case for me. The closest members of my immediate family (of origin) live two states away. Most of my extended family is even farther.

A few months ago, my dad sent an e-mail to each of his three kids. I forget the exact nature of the subject ... life insurance or estate planning or something similar. Whatever the topic was, it seemed to set us off typing. We hadn't had a family discussion that lively in years! And I realized I'd missed it.

For a month or so before this, I'd been fiddling around with Google Groups for a work project. It seemed to me like a perfect fit for my e-mailing family. I didn't know how they might react to the idea, but I went ahead and set up a private group for us and invited everyone to join. The first few weeks were a little slow as we weren't really sure what else we had to say to one another.

Once a few threads got going, however, we've found this is a really nice way to stay in touch. We have a page on the website for special celebration dates and links to online wishlists and notes about individuals' interests. We've discussed vacation plans and coordinated schedules to visit with each other.

Just the other day I sent around a question about theology that had been rumbling in my brain. This is a discussion my family would never have participated in, were it not for the group. Not that we couldn't have just sent the e-mails around, but I wouldn't really have thought start it.

This isn't really meant to be an advertising piece for Google (but, hey, Google folks, if you want to pay me ...). I know you can do groups at Yahoo! or Facebook, and other sites as well, but I'm not as familiar with the features of those.

I just wanted to encourage anyone who may not have considered enhancing your family gatherings through technology to give it a go. It definitely works for me!

For more tips, tricks, and hints, visit Rocks in My Dryer.

Sunday, August 24

Design Flaw: A Memo to God


I believe I have found a serious design flaw in Your plans for the human race. You have allowed their physical development to far outstrip their mental and emotional capabilities. Whether it's a two-year-old climbing a bookcase or a teenager involved in an unsafe relationship, You have allowed their bodies to grow and change at a much faster rate than they (or their parents) are prepared to handle.

Please respond A.S.A.P. with an updated plan.

Barring that, can You at least tell me how to keep my daughter from getting into the spice cupboard and dumping my spices onto the counter for a third time? I really can't afford to replace them all again.

Thank You.



Friday, August 22

Friday Fiction

Part One

The endless day was finally coming to a close. The last guest had been thanked. The final casserole had been labeled with the name of its bearer and wedged into the refrigerator. Cups and spoons were washed, dried, and put away. I had nothing left to keep me from sitting, resting, thinking. More than anything, I wished to be completely devoid of thoughts, even as I felt devoid of emotion.

I’d taken a psychology class in school. I recognized denial for what it was. I’d spent the past three days going through the motions of life after death, and managing, so far, to avoid the emotions. Now, it seemed my time was up.

The red leather chair in the den called my name. I sat with my knees up to my chest, resting my head against the cushioned back. For the first time since I’d answered the phone Friday morning, my eyes welled with unshed tears.

Drip, drip, drip. I could hear the tiny drops splashing against the leather seat. As worried as I’d been at this chance to think, it hadn’t occurred to me that my brain would not be able to focus. Now that my world had become still and quiet, I found my logic had quite abandoned me, leaving behind a jumble of images and feelings, memories breaking my heart and leaking from my eyes.

I saw the outline of Mrs. Campone’s window, her cheery begonias spilling from their pots in the wrought-iron frame. I’d answered the phone in the kitchen, standing in front of the counter perusing my favorite comfort-foods cookbook for dinner inspiration. Light spilled across the recipe for chicken cacciatore as I listened to the disinterested voice detail my father’s demise.

He’d complained about the smell, the scratchy sheets, and the view from his window framing the underside of a neighbor’s balcony. I had reminded him of my complaints the first day of Kindergarten: I disliked the smell of paste, the playground housed only two swings and a single slide, and the carpets were an ugly brown. The corners of his mouth turned more sharply down at my recitation, and the V between his eyebrows deepened. He struggled to sit up straight, his voice rasping over his words. “A home is not a home,” had always been his opinion.

The air in the hospital hallway stung my nose. Disinfectant, I supposed. My father’s doctor was of a similar age, but his good health showed him to be years younger. I tried to concentrate on his words, but only caught snippets of the monologue. “Nothing more we can do medically ... physical limitations require round-the-clock nursing care ... no question of living on his own ... weeks, maybe months left.” I nodded silently.

Unrelenting flatness met my view as I drove across the state for the third time in as many weeks. The barrenness of the landscape was broken only by brightly printed advertisements and concrete overpasses carrying yellow warnings of height limitations. The sun sank behind me leaving the sky ahead a soft violet balancing a few puffy clouds the color of spun sugar candy.

I woke with a start, my neck aching from the awkward position I’d found to sleep. I was dreaming of a circus I’d once visited on a school trip. The band had been playing, the crowd cheering, bright lights spinning and flashing, and a canon had just shot a man high into the air. The dark silence I awoke to was jarring. I reached up a hand, switching on the reading lamp beside me, and checked my watch: 5:56 AM. It was time to call my mother.

Copyright ©2008 by Amy James Gray. No part of this text may be copied or reprinted without the prior consent of the author.

Truly Laugh-out-loud Funny

This about sums up my opinion of the Summer Games.

Phil Vischer (you know, the guy who created Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber) offers his vision of events that should be cut from the Olympics.

And, yes, I really was laughing out loud.

Wednesday, August 20

It's More Serious Than I Thought

I miss out on a lot of things since we got rid of the rabbit ears on our TV. I don't see all the new movie trailers. I don't get sucked into hours of courtroom "reality" TV every afternoon. My daughter hasn't watched PBS Kids in months. And I'm mostly okay with that.

Today I realized just how out of touch I've been, however. As you may already know, it's August. And we all know what starts every August ... wait, who said school?

Pre-season Football!

Somehow, I had it in my head that the pre-season games started in the middle of August. About now actually. I've been meaning to get myself over to CHICAGOBEARS.COM and download the schedule. When I finally did, I was completely shocked to discover I already missed two whole weeks of football!

I need to go lie down in a dark room with a cool cloth on my head. Talk amongst yourselves.

Sunday, August 17

Heigh-ho the No Dairy-o

Stuff I want, but can't have because it has milk in it.
  • pan pizza from Pizza Hut
  • dreamsicles
  • nachos
  • quesadillas
  • asiago bagels with hazelnut cream cheese
  • soft pretzels with cheddar cheese dip
  • string cheese
  • deep fried macaroni and cheese from TGI Friday's
  • cheeseburgers
  • chili cheese fries from Fuddruckers
  • buttermilk biscuits
  • chicken broccoli fettuccine alfredo
  • pesto
  • macaroni and cheese from Noodles & Company
  • baked potato with cheddar and bacon
  • chicken fried steak with white gravy
  • garlic mashed potatoes
  • Cinnabon cinnamon rolls with extra frosting
  • buttermilk pancakes
  • cheesecake
  • Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby ice cream
  • pretzels dipped in vanilla custard-style yogurt
  • peanut m&ms
  • donuts
  • chocolate chip muffins
  • french toast
  • cheese blintzes
  • Ferrero Rocher
  • grilled cheese
  • cream of broccoli soup
  • chocolate-dipped ice cream
  • mochi ice cream
  • Doritos
  • cheese crackers
  • Cheetos
  • chewy caramels
  • carrot cake
  • milkshakes
  • Hint of Lime Tostidos
  • seven layer bars
  • cream of chicken and wild rice soup
  • pão de queijo
  • belgian waffles
  • crumpets
  • tapioca pudding
I'm not in the mood to see the positive right now. So, please, if you have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. Just let me pout at my little dairy-free pity party here in peace. Don't tell me how I can make most of this stuff at home. Don't offer sources for alternative products that are "almost" or "just like" it. I want the real thing. I don't want a copycat recipe. I don't want to make it at home. I want the real thing and I want to have it made for me.

Should I add, "So there" and stick my tongue out?

Tuesday, August 12

In the Last Days

We've had a crazy couple of weeks here. Just in the last 10 days
  • Our A/C went on the fritz
  • We had to buy a new one, twice (the first time, the credit card company denied the charge because they classified it "unusual activity")
  • We applied for financial assistance from our church to pay rent and utility bills
  • Adam and I had an argument that took three days to completely resolve
  • We got involved in a conflict with some friends that's still not resolved
  • Adam fell in the kitchen, breaking a chair and badly bruising his toe
  • Someone smashed the back windshield of our car with a rock
  • Our daughter got sick last night, vomiting four times (three of those in our bedroom, including once on the bed)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
(James 1:2-4, NIV)

God, did you have to complete us this week? Wouldn't it have been okay to spread it out over a couple of months or a year? What's the rush? Are You planning to come back soon and didn't think we could wait?

Saturday, August 2


That's the sound of me swallowing my tongue.

I just went to turn my window air conditioning unit back on and discovered the awful noise it had been making the past couple of days? That meant the fan was about to stop working.

Now I have to figure out how to get a breeze to blow through the house without having the front door open all night.

I really miss central air.

Friday, August 1

We Have a Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered my 200th post contest, especially those of you who mentioned it on your blogs.

I am pleased to announce the winner of a shiny new button or header graphic is ...

Now everybody head on over and tell her congratulations!