Friday, December 31, 2010

Shameless Self-Promotion: Pounds to Peru Launches Today!

Alrighty, folks! Happy New Year's Eve. We made it through another year, and I'm happy to report that my bestie Jenna Leigh and I are seriously going to rock the momentum of eating more healthfully and moving our bodies, stat. So, welcome to Pounds to Peru, the new blog I'll be contributing to daily (yes, I did say daily... that's going to be a challenge in and of itself, but I won't have to cook anything for these blog entries, which = infinitely easier). As for the title, I picked it to get us revved up for an upcoming trip to Peru in August 2011.

We're going to see our good friend Elie get hitched, and we'll be bringing sleek North American bodies down South with us (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

I will still bake several times a month (and try my hand at healthy AND delicious cooking). I will make this vow now though: I'm not down with fat-free cheese, margarine, or non-dairy creamer (ugh), so if I eat any of that delicious, fattening stuff, it's in moderation, bitches.

Hugs, high fives, and a healthy New Year, 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Break-up Soup: Corn, Potato, & Gruyère Deliciousness

“There is logic and order to cooking. What you put into it has everything to do with what you get out of it. With love, it’s not so cut-and-dried.”

–Giulia Melucci, I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti: A Memoir of Good Food and Bad Boyfriends

True story – He broke up with me six days before Christmas, over the phone. He said, “You’re the nicest girl I’ve ever dated, but…” I’ll leave the break-up story there, teetering on the edge of such a backhanded compliment that, at the time, I was left speechless – an event that doesn’t happen often. We had been an item for five months – they were largely fun and relaxing, involving meals of roasted chicken, beer cheese soup, lasagna, spinach-and-ricotta calzones, and his delicious chicken Parmesan. We played a lot of board games, hiked many Saturdays and walked around our neighborhoods on the weekdays, and discussed what 30-somethings do when they’re on the precipice of their potential. He was my rebound, I guess, though I didn’t see him as such until the phone call.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Cook's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse: End of Chapter 2 and the Start of Chapter 3

Writer's note: Thanks for your patience this week! I've been a little slower, but the fuel will be turned up this evening and weekend. I will make 25,000 words by November 15th or bust. Right now I'm over 12,000 words, so I have my work cut out for me in the next three days. Wish me luck and atta girls. I'll need them.

Special thanks to for the free images!

Listening to: Anson Funderburgh's "Some Sunny Day"
Laughing at: More Brains!: A Zombie Pinup Calendar

Chapter 2 (continued
Back at Casa de Mona, Zelda was swiftly aware that something was seriously wrong with Chainsaw. The formerly food-fixated feline shambled around and then did stealthy fast sprints around the house. Normally such behavior was expected of Zelda – she was spritely, nimble, a jumper who once climbed up the exposed brick wall of Mona’s study and just clung to the wall for shits and giggles, but Chainsaw was not an active cat. All Chainsaw normally did – beyond make people laugh at his portly to-and-fro belly and unusual name, a nod to one of the many power tools on Mona’s father’s farm – was sleep on Mona’s red couch, sneak into her bedroom to burrow down into the down comforter, or bully Zelda when treat time came by swooping in to eat the most treats, despite Mona’s best tendencies to keep the two cats separated and to ensure that Zelda had an opportunity to eat her treats before Chainsaw got to them first.
            This Chainsaw was a whole different picture of his past personality. No longer submissive or sleepy, this iteration, Chainsaw 2.0, was a little bit creepy as far as Zelda was concerned, which is why Zelda positioned herself on the kitchen cabinets above the refrigerator. No matter how much renewed zest for life and energy Chainsaw now had, Zelda was sure of this much: His fat-cat self wasn’t leaping onto the kitchen counter, on top of the refrigerator, and then on the cabinets. He was simply too big – and too out of practice – for such a standard Zelda maneuver.
            When Zelda heard the keys in the back door of her home, she had to stifle her innate urge to run to the door and sidle up to her mistress. Zelda loved Mona – she knew when Mona was home there would always be fresh water, soft food, high quality dry food whose No. 1 ingredient was meat and not some pathetic corn filler, and lots of silly play time where Mona would throw crumpled up paper balls and Zelda would fetch. Sometimes, if Zelda was particularly feisty, Mona would get out the feather – a dust-buster looking contraption attached to the end of a thin purple plastic stick. Zelda was all over that game and often drug the Feather away from Mona as she pranced around the house, flitting from one room to the next, tearing through the ceramic-tiled hallway and coming to a scooching, sliding halt, legs almost akimbo, on the hard wood floors.
            This time, however, Zelda stayed put. She had seen too much weirdness in the past 24 hours and knew instinctively that something was messed up with her furry friend. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Cook's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (Chapter 2)

Writer's note: I've been swamped with work and normal day-to-day chores, obligations, and an occasional social function, so here's what I've been writing since Thursday through today. I'm on target provided I write another 2,000 words on Sunday morning. I wrote 2,700 words tonight to make up for leaner word counts yesterday and Thursday. Go, NaNoWriMo team!
Chapter 2
If ever two sisters were different, Sadie and Mona Swicegood were. While the two young women looked like sisters – young, slimmer Sadie and three-year-older, plumper Mona shared the same blue-green saucer-shaped eyes, thick auburn hair, olive skin, heart-shaped faces, and height – their personalities were far, far removed from the other’s. Mona deliberated over every decision, from where she went to culinary school after leaving the law firm to whether she should cover the creeping gray hairs in her bangs with a semi-permanent or permanent hair dye at her favorite salon. Sadie jumped in with both feet and arms out-stretched in either victory or unadulterated joy – travel to Costa Rica to learn Spanish? – sure! Hike the Inca Trail? When’s the next flight to Peru?
            In many ways Sadie was the right brain of the duo and Mona was the logical left hemisphere. Their corpus collosum  - to stretch the metaphor a bit farther – was their friendship, but even that was strained from time to time when Mona’s loyalty, methodicalness were tested by Sadie’s impromptu, sometimes reckless adventures.
            Despite all of this, Mona knew that Sadie was the one person she needed to see after almost being strangled to death by a rancid-smelling lunatic. Sadie was Mona’s only family in Austin. Their parents live back in the Midwest on the family farm raising veggies for personal use and grass-fed cattle for extra money to supplement their 9-to-5s. The elder Swicegoods were far removed from Texas bakeries and wanderlust trips to South and Central America. How Mona and Sadie ended up in the same place was actually a miracle.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Cook's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, Chapter 1 (Finished)

Right as the word “practice” left her mouth, Mona heard a rasping, gasping noise over the whir of the oven and exhaust system. When she looked up from her master recipe book – smudged on various pages with splatters of cake batter and drips of butter and olive oil – she saw a ravaged face with deep-set dark eyes staring at her through the latched screen door. The face was unlike any man’s she had ever seen, and yet she clearly knew this was a man’s face as his visage was backlit by the motion security light in the alley behind the Buttery Biscuit. His salt-and-pepper hair was askew, the deep lines of his stubbled jaw and crow’s feet were encased with dirt and dried blood, and his mouth was open, asymmetrical, with his jaw diagonal, almost dislocated, from his top lip like a sugar bowl whose dainty top had been slammed on crooked.

A Cook's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse - Chapter 1 (Continued) - Quiche Recipe Included!

            The storefront of The Buttery Biscuit sported huge glass windows, a pale yellow and black striped awning, and a neon sign with a fluffy buttermilk biscuit and a bright yellow pat of melting butter dripping down the sides of the carbtastic sign. Every time Mona pulled up to her shop she had to pinch herself. Was this really happening? Had she really left her law firm partnership to wake up in the earliest parts of the morning to play with pastry dough and fondle room-temperature European butter?
            “I don’t miss that life,” Mona said to herself quietly as she parallel parked between the back alley and the side street bordering her bakery. She listened to the last eerie note of “She’s Not There,” and turned the ignition off. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Cook's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, Chapter 1 (Continued)

“Seriously, Gigi, that’s terrifying,” Mona stammered. “What ever happened to the homeless guy?”
“After Gregoire and I got the photo shoot set-up, we went to breakfast and had the best chocolate croissants I’ve ever eaten. The homeless man ate five and as he ate he told Gregoire how he came to be running near the Barriere d’Enfer city gate. Like I said, my French is horrible, but the man’s body language told me that whatever it was that was chasing him was relentless and fast.”
“What did Gregoire translate the man’s story as?”
“That was the semi-weird part of an entirely weird morning,” Gigi said. “Gregoire would only say that the man, whose name was Adolphe, found his attacker near Hôpital Hôtel-Dieu.”
“Adolphe,” Gigi said, continuing, “actually wasn’t homeless. Gregoire said he was an infectious diseases doctor at the hospital.”