Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I keep getting asked: Mel, what are you cooking for Thanksgiving?

... Okay, so I got asked that like three times, but I thought it would be good reference to write down what my plans were.

I'm cooking for myself, Daniel, our friend Jeanelle, and possibly one to two drop-in's.  Flying to Louisiana is too far for a four-day weekend, and besides, I'm going home in a couple of weeks anyway.

Between the recipe trove that is Serious Eats & my Bon Appetit & Cook's Illustrated iPad subscriptions, I feel ready for anything.

... Oh, and my gym-mates all made fun of me for making a spreadsheet for my grocery list, cross-referenced to what sales various grocery stores in the area were having. BUT ... I got all my shopping done inside of three hours on Saturday morning, so THERE. Engineer OCD wins again.

The first thought was to what dishes I wanted to cook. Daniel enjoys turkey, so that was in.  I decided to roast some turkey parts in lieu of a whole bird, because turkeys just don't appear in small enough amounts, and I don't want to be eating the same turkey defrosted 6 months from now. I just don't like turkey meat enough to justify that.  I did consider buying a heritage breed turkey, but they are usually on the large side, and while I wholeheartedly support eating animals that lived outside as they were intended to eating delicious bugs & whatnot, I didn't want an extra 17 pounds of turkey clogging up the freezer till my next birthday.  So, I compromised with myself and bought a Diestel organic breast (which is almost three pounds and roughly the size of the chickens I buy from the farmer's market) and a couple of legs on Saturday from PCC here in Seattle (PCC is one of our co-ops in Seattle).  I also bought some chicken wings to assist me in making gravy.

I found a raw cranberry / apple relish (read: ground in food processor) recipe via Serious Eats.

For veggie sides, I am doing roasted Brussels sprouts with balsamic vinegar and pancetta (which is available pre-cubed at Trader Joe's), and roasted sweet potatoes with bourbon & maple syrup (the location of the recipe eludes me at the moment, suffice to say it is not topped with marshmallows).  The Brussels sprouts are easy - cut them in half, cut off the little stem if you so choose, toss in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and any spices (sometimes I add smoked paprika), add your meat if you're doing that, and throw into a 400 degree oven till they're soft & have brown bits all over them.

I am still debating on rolls, but this recipe might have my back.  I'm not a huge bread person, but everyone else is.

Dressing is from the November Bon Appetit issue.  I bought a loaf of "stuffing bread" from Great Harvest bakery in Ballard.

And I am making a homemade pumpkin pie, using a roll-out crust from Trader Joe's that swept a Serious Eats taste test.  The pie recipe is a little fussy, but it's Cooks Illustrated, and they know what they're talking about.

Also, whipped cream in my whipped-cream-dispenser.

As a funny aside, my coworker recently rolled his chair over to my cubicle and asked what in the world green bean casserole was.  He had seen it on a list of suggested dishes for an office Thanksgiving potluck party, and, being Canadian and apparently never having been subject to this American staple, he was intrigued as to what this dish could possibly be.  As I described how people "traditionally" prepare the dish, his face changed from one of mild interest to one of distaste and vague horror. Canned fried onions? Canned soup? Out of season green beans? Yes, yes, double-yes.  I said I was sure a homemade version would be somewhat better, but as I pretty much dislike all the ingredients in a GBC, I told him I couldn't personally recommend making the effort of cooking one unless he was forced into it.


I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and can gather 'round with people you want to see for an extended afternoon! :)


I love my beauty and fashion blogs (funny, since I normally dress like a frumpy engineer), but this cracked me up: RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream.  2.5 oz for $18.  Or you could get a pint of Tropical Traditions coconut oil for $25.

In lieu of actually talking about anything today, I thought I'd post some links to blogs that I, as a weirdo human, thoroughly enjoy...

Beauty / Fashion Blogs:

- Tom & Lorenzo - like their tagline says, "Fabulous. And opinionated".  Hilarious celebrity fashion critique.

- The Beauty Department - has interesting little makeup tutorials.

- Lucky Right Now - coming straight out of Lucky magazine's website.

Paleo Blogs:

- The Clothes Make The Girl - Melissa Joulwan is someone who I can identify with on the front of personal issues with health, exercise and body imagery. And she is awesome and has published one cookbook with her husband, and they are working on cookbook #2.

- Whole9 - the folks who created the Whole30 just keep pounding out the information!

- Robb Wolf - I find his podcast entitled "The Paleo Solution" is expletive-filled, hilarious, and informative.

- Mark's Daily Apple - Mark Sisson wrote "The Primal Blueprint", and has lots of other good information on Primal living, as well as self-care and good advice on perhaps not going balls-to-the-wall all the time.

Other Blogs:

- Yarn Harlot - a Canadian knitting humor author and designer; if you knit and haven't heard of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, you should check her out!

- Serious Eats - delicious, objective food blog. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt works there now (previously he was at America's Test Kitchen)

- Dinosaur Comics ... Pure Hilarity.

... There. That should keep y'all busy for a while.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Autumnal Update

I seem to not be as committed to blogging as of late.

I have had two work trips recently - one to England in September, and one to Dayton, Ohio last week.  England was beautifully old, and blustery. Driving on the left was only mildly terrifying, and I was thankful my friend was there with me to yell, "CURRRRB!!! CURB CURB CURB!". (I only almost ran into one pedestrian).  The Skoda we rented had amazing fuel mileage; two 2.5 hour trips plus a week of significant driving, and only barely half the fuel tank was used.

Regarding Ohio... it was flat. And cold. But sunny, and the streets were well asphalted. (My friend here says it's because the high temperature swings in the midwest cause lots of potholes, so roads are repaired a lot more frequently out there than in, say, Seattle). I still was amazed at Dayton during Election Day - there was some serious saturation of political ads out there! One colleague noted that, during one commercial break, he counted 6 political ads - and it was really only three distinct ones, as they repeated each ad! I am also amazed that it can take four days to execute and attend a 1.5 day conference. Ah well. I found a nice steakhouse while I was out there.


I took my Evendim sweater with me to Ohio. I made some decent progress, and am into the body increases. I am going to modify the original pattern and convert the raglan decreases into set-in sleeves in the round (courtesy of Elizabeth Zimmerman), and then think about a V-neck versus other options. Or maybe a wide crew / boat-neck style might be nice.

I have come to realize I don't look good in raglans. Most people with broad shoulders (i.e. me) would be best suited to a different shoulder style, even though it is super-easy to knit.


I spun and have started knitting a pair of socks for Daniel. I bought a bump of Blue Moon Fiber Arts' 75% BFL / 25% Tussah silk from Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival in "Spruced" (that is a link to my stash so you can see the colorway). I spun a two ply yarn that ended up roughly fingering weight after plying and finishing via a warm-water bath. I am knitting the Monkeymen cuff-down pattern adaptation of Cookie A's Monkey sock.  Basically, for the men's version you cast on 80 stitches, which adds a pattern repeat, and replace the yarn-overs in the lace pattern with make-1's. Not too bad. The pattern is a little less pronounced in these socks, though - I'll have to knit a little farther before deciding whether I am happy with it, or want to go another direction.


In other news... Daniel is hunting for a civilian job, and getting straightened out with the Navy Reserves. I have faith he'll find something great, it is just weird for me to watch someone with a sizeable savings account not outwardly worry about getting employed immediately; I would be getting very twitchy!  I can only imagine he's enjoying his long vacation, though!