From Bad to Worse

Let me post a different kind of recipe today. In case you were wondering, here are all of the ingredients that, when put together, create one of the worst days a person could have. Each piece on its own doesn’t do much harm; however, when all parties collide together, it creates the perfect conditions for a really bad day.

  1. Wake up not being able to find your glasses. Spend a good 20 minutes trying to find them because you can’t see. Make sure to do this so that you have to run to the bus stop.
  2. While running to the bus stop, get there just in time to watch the bus fly past you. Try to run after it, but when you don’t catch it, throw down your purse and make a scene. Expletives are encouraged (then graciously accept a ride to work from a stranger that felt sorry for you).
  3. Cut yourself at work. Make it a good one, too! Do it so well that you bleed through your first band-aid and need to change it for another. Bonus points if you still see the skin you peeled up on the implement that cut you (it weirded me out).
  4. Have 2 people in a row (that speak softly) tell you that they got the wrong food even though you read the order back… after they actually get the food.
  5. Be on the struggle bus during the lunch rush because there aren’t enough people working.
  6. Pour lemonade into the dispense while the lid is still on. Bonus points if some of it goes into your pants. No, not on them.
  7. End up taking a big order that you have to ring and make yourself… because there’s no one to make it for you. and no one told you this. Rush around like a crazy person because you feel bad that people had to wait longer than necessary.
  8. Hobble to the bus stop because your body is done.

Dump all of these ingredients together, and you will have possibly the most annoying day ever. Thankfully, you were still able to laugh here and there. The best part, though, is getting to come home and take a bath. Soaking in a bubble bath is an act of therapy; the warmth of the water combined with sudsy water work together to release a tranquil state of mind… one you wish that you had had earlier in the day.

The one good thing I can say about bad days is that they do end. As I sink down into my bubble bath, I remember this. As the warm bath water embraces my aching body, and the sound of music unites with the air above me, I begin to unwind.

finally. tranquility is mine.

Food For Celebrating

This weekend in food for Miss Ray was crazy! Friday and Saturday were really good food days.

Friday was a great food evening. A friend and I went out, and we were in the mood for Riesling. After taking some things to her house and checking in with her mom, we were out for the night. After much debate, we decided to go to the movies.

Since we had an hour to kill before the movie started and we live close to the theater, we made one stop to pick up the wine, and another stop to hit up La Na, our favourite Thai food place. While waiting for the food to cook, we requested glasses to start in on that delightful bottle of wine. Once the food was ready, we were about 1/3 of the way through. I was already giggling.

We rode to the theater with a good 2o minutes to spare. We ate and finished off that bottle together, and life was good. Interesting factoid: Riesling apparently goes well with Asian cuisine! After trying it myself, I agree with this assessment. I tell you, there’s nothing better than take out and movies, even if you go to the theater to see said movie.

I didn’t get home until 12:30 am that night, but my food adventures merged into the next day.

One of my friends is celebrating her birthday today, but the girls and I went out with her yesterday for brunch. C planned everything, and picked out the place. I’ve never visited this restaurant, so I was excited. I like going to a restaurant I’ve never visited that someone else has discovered. I’m used to being the one to expose people to new eateries; it was nice to be introduced this time. I didn’t look up info on the place before going, and I’m glad that I didn’t. The first impression is more raw and real if you know nothing beforehand. In fact, it was the first time any of us were eating there.

The location was in Northern Liberties, which I didn’t know much about. We got there at around 3ish, and had to walk a couple of blocks to the restaurant from where we parked. There was an outdoor deck adorned with Christmas type lights for seating, but we sat inside because of the rain. There were dark wood finished floors throughout the space, and dark wooden beams on the ceiling. We were seated in less than 5 minutes since there weren’t many guests at that time.

Everything on the menu looked appetizing; there are things that I want to try on my next visit. Now that I know where this place is (as well as other places that looked good), I’ll have to come back. There were a few versions of eggs benedict on the menu, but the one I ordered was the crab cake benny.

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We also ordered an apple streusel flatbread that tasted like an apple pie with nuts. It had pecans on it, and I liked the additional crunch and flavor of the pecans.

After brunch, we hit up Cold Stone Creamery to spend a little more time together. The weather may have been bad, but we were all in good spirits, and the birthday girl enjoyed herself. This is all that matters.

It was a great weekend with great food; now that’s living the dream! Normally, I don’t eat out that much, nor do I aspire to. However, I enjoyed everything that I ate this weekend. Truly enjoyed it. I also enjoyed those with whom I was eating, which I’m sure made the food taste even better. Does anyone relate to that?

Now it’s Sunday, and my only souvenirs from this weekend are: good memories, some food pictures, and leftover drunken noodles from Friday night. I’m sure I’ll eat that this evening and watch a movie, which is the best way to enjoy Asian take out.

Hope you all had a good weekend, and enjoy your week! Live life and eat well… and please do so with good company!

Pecan Bars

It pays to be connected!

I met someone through a foodie hashtag talk on Twitter that was a food editor in Florida. Because I participated faithfully in the hashtag talk for quite a while, she was awesome enough to send me a copy of her book. The name of said book is called Cookielicious!

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The name alone just makes you want to squeal with excitement, no?

I’ve been really good lately with using up stray ingredients instead of letting them go to waste. In this case, I had some pecans that I needed to use. I like pecan pies and tarts, so I thought I would give the pecan bars recipe in this book a go.

As dorky as this is, I was excited to use an actual recipe book. It’s the first time in a while that I’ve done this. With so much being online, sometimes it’s just easy to look up a database of recipes on your device of choice, and get down to business. Nostalgia swept over me as I picked up the book and looked over the ingredients.

The recipe was easy to follow, and truth be told, it turned out differently than I expected. When I think of pecan bars, I think of something that is assembled like a pecan pie or tart. I fully expected to make a crust, a pecan pie style filling, then bake it in the oven for however long. When I saw that there was flour, baking soda (a leavening agent), and butter that doesn’t actually go into the mixture, the old wheels started turning. As soon as I put it into the oven, it dawned on me: this is going to be more like a cake!

As excited as I was to watch it rise and see what it looked like, I refrained from peeking into the oven until it was all finished. I know… I can hear you asking already: why didn’t you just turn on the oven light and look in that way?

Well, I would if I could, but our little “window” is so crusted over with years of Lord knows what that all I see in that “window” is whether the light is off or on.

After baking it on the universal cooking temperature (350℉) for 30-35 mins, the treat was ready to come out of the oven. Lo and behold, I was right; it did turn out more like a cake. It was a dense cake with lots of nuts inside.

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I made these late at night, so I didn’t cut it into bars until the next day. If caramel corn had pecans in it, this is what the bar tasted like. The texture of it was chewy and slightly sticky. To be honest, I’m not sure how the butter played in since it was all on the bottom of the pan; however, like I said in previous entries, I never question the presence of butter in a recipe. If all other logic fails, conclude that it is there to make the end product taste good since that’s what butter does best.

Forgive me for not having a picture of them cut, but they didn’t last long. They lasted for a max of 3 days. That almost burnt sugar taste along with the crunch of the nuts made this an addictive snack for everyone in the family, including my notoriously picky sister.

So I recommend procuring a copy of “Cookielicious”, and when you do, make those pecan bars! Yum yum!

No More Cell Phone

One of my friend’s sent me a text asking me to pray for her. I typed a well-thought out response, only to discover that it wouldn’t go through. I even tried sending it as a text message, because my phone tends to send even normal text messages as multimedia messages.

I don’t ask any questions; that’s just what she does.

When it continued to fail to send, that’s when it hit me: my cell phone’s probably cut off. My mom had said that it might happen, but she has said that in the past, and my phone still worked. I was still chained to the interconnected web that is “the grid”. If you ask me, slavery has never ended; now our masters are electronic. I couldn’t stand the burden of being chained to that little piece of glass, software, and intricate wiring. Hearing that the witch was dead caused a wave of relief to overtake me.

To make matters even better, I can’t afford to go get a plan until my next check. No, I’m not being sarcastic; I’m actually happy about this!

As I sat there at the bus stop, what did I decide to do with my newfound freedom? Why, read of course! I have no unction to check my cell phone because I’m totally cut off! I can check it, but it bears no messages that need checking… neither has any calls that demand my attention. I’m completely free!

I never cared for cell phones to begin with. They have their usefulness, but nowadays, it’s ridiculous how there’s no more idle time, and no more real world interactions because of them. Who thought this was a good idea? When someone came up with the idea of the cell phone/smart phone, is this what they had in mind?

I will enjoy this for as long as possible. I might even give out my landline for people that really want to talk to me on the phone. I really should have an urgency to fix this, but Rhett Butler from Gone With The Wind said it best: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a darn.”

Enjoy your week people; I will surely enjoy mine!

Change is Gonna Come

As I strolled down State Street in the stifling June heat, I walked past a consignment shop that I used to hit up when I had days off. After doing a double take, I noticed a table directly in front of the store’s entrance.

“Hmm, since when does that place have tables?” I pondered. Immediately, I crossed the street to investigate. To my dismay, I saw the shop stripped bare on the inside, and its name had been scraped from the door.

I took a moment to mourn it, and put my hand on the window. It looked so empty and sad! I have no idea when it closed, but it brought me to terms with the theme of my week:

Things are bound to change.

I went car shopping last Saturday, and it was most disappointing. A coworker with whom I’m good friends just worked her last week at our job because she is leaving for a new one. I also have a couple of friends–close friends– that will be getting married soon. Not to each other, but two separate friends. It’s one thing to have people you know get married, but when it’s your close friends, it hits home when you’re still single. The only vow I’m close to making would be that of celibacy. I admit to not being as joyful as I should’ve been for them. Finding good friends is a challenge, and feeling like you’re going to lose one helps nothing.

It felt like everyone else was moving on with their lives while mine stayed in park, despite my best efforts. I desperately wanted to go out to dance to relieve these stressors, but a friend that was going to take me bailed out. I ended up with a panic attack so bad that I couldn’t sleep. Feeling like the walls are closing in on you is never good. I blew things so out of proportion that I ended up with a miserable 5 hours of sleep, and had to work the next day. Trust me when I say that’s not a good time.

After hearing yet another friend talking nuptials, I took myself out for a walk and talked to the Lord. I had to reconcile with the fact that  things are going to change whether I like it or not, but that may not always be bad.

I’ve also decided to take my life out of park. Working on things that matter to me and taking care of myself will help me better appreciate the victories of others. My concentrations will be: food and writing, health and wellness, and engaging in other things that matter to me.

Things will continue to change, and I can’t stop it, but that’s okay. Maybe if I keep telling myself that, I’ll believe it. Happiness takes work, so let me get to work.

That’s the non-cooking spirit!

I love cooking. I love to cook for myself and to make amazing dishes. However, there are times where I don’t feel like making much. Call it a bachelorette moment, if you will. Hey, I’m entitled, and I make use of that entitlement every once in a while.

It could be that I started my period or because summer weather is in full effect, but I didn’t feel like cooking anything, particularly on Saturday. In fact, all I wanted Saturday was a big bowl of popcorn with a smoothie, and that’s exactly what I had. Just a big bowl of stove-popped popcorn, christened with olive oil instead of butter with some rubbed sage and salt.

Since I was the only one eating the popcorn at the time, I decided to play around. I like putting herbs in popcorn to give it a different flavor whenever I can. No one else really likes this but me. My favourite herb to use so far is rosemary, but I’m down for trying something different. Besides, I didn’t have any rosemary at the time.

The smoothie I made was cool and refreshing: it was made with a berry mix and some mangoes that I got from Target, and it was mixed with limeade. I’ve become addicted to limeade; when you make it in a smoothie, the end taste is akin to one of those fruit popsicles that you can buy in the supermarket. Mm, delicious!

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This was my entire dinner, and I was very happy with it. It made me think back to the days before my nephew was born. There were times where my sister and I would tell mom that all we wanted was Rita’s water ice and soft pretzels for dinner. Hey, it was summer and it was hot, and we were two kids that liked water ice. Granted, we weren’t really young kids, but we still like our treats! Our mom was willing to indulge us every once in a while. Ahh, good times.

I can’t be the only one guilty of this; no matter how much I love food, there are times where I crave something simple and that involves little to no effort to make.

My name is Rachel, I’m a former cooking student, and I had a bachelorette meal.

no, I’m not ashamed.

Mini entry: baking unites people

“I saw your Facebook post; I’m coming to your house!”

“But don’t you even want to know what I made?”

“No, I’ll be there!”

All I wanted to do was make banana muffins. The reason I wanted to make them is because I had some bananas that were overripe. I was going to use them for smoothies, but I forgot to chop them so they could be frozen. I ate about half of what I bought, then decided that I would bake with the other half since I wouldn’t be able to eat them all before they got too sweet.

I solicited my nephew’s help, and he was more than happy to join in. He’s 5, and helped me smash the bananas. (I also got to use the immersion blender that was sent to me by a good friend! Bless her! I love playing with using that thing)

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It was nice to be able to do something with him and keep him occupied rather than be annoyed with him. He has his ways, as all kids do; though I will say, we tend to bond best when I “give him a job.” This is usually what I say to him when I let him help me in the kitchen. He loves it, and I don’t mind answering his questions. He’s always held an interest in watching me cook, and has been “making” (which is what he called cooking) since he was about 3. I remember calming him once as an infant by putting his high chair in the center of the kitchen. I guess even under the age of 1, he wanted to know what happened in the kitchen.

Simultaneously, I managed to bond closer to my nephew, and have a friend gravitate to my house. Who knew muffins could do all of that?

I’m glad that I’ve been finding energy to cook again; it’s made me a happier girl. My circumstances haven’t change exactly, but at least my attitude has. Cooking has helped with that. I’m also starting to grow weary of eating the same thing at my job all the time. It only took a year! Now, I’m yearning to eat what I can cook at home more. In fact, I made this little dish tonight using a recipe I got from Epicurious.

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If you’ve not tried crispy garlic on something, I highly recommend it. I’ve had roasted garlic on things, but this was altogether different. It’s similar to a noodle dish I’ve made with buttered noodles, garlic and something green, but I never thought to crisp the garlic. It was like eating a garlic chip; it even crunched when I bit into it like a chip! Mom and I descended on that food like buzzards on a carcass; it didn’t stand a chance.

It was the first time in a little while that I’ve eaten something that made me happy. It’s a great feeling when that happens. I’m going to be sure to do that more often.

Sorry this was such a random post. I knew I was going to write about this, though, since it’s the first time in a while that someone has read something I wrote online that made them show up on my doorstep. It was too amusing NOT to write about it.

I’ll have a real post for you all later about me cooking something wonderful. Until then, your girl has been working her smoothie game. Because I love to eat so much, my work pants are getting tight. Your girl needs to be 10 lbs lighter. 15 would be great, but I can be happy with 10.

Enjoy your weekend folks! Eat something wonderful in my stead, and don’t forget the butter!