Saturday, April 25, 2009

Contrast

I took this picture yesterday while I was sitting on a bench up the street. I loved the way the newly budding tree looked against the building in the background-riddled with graffiti. It was a neat contract, I thought...

I took it for my friend Tisha's weekly meme "Looking at the Sky on Friday" (which I've never played for some reason-probably because I always forget to post the photos I choose until it's too late!) This morning I remembered it was on my camera and thought it'd be a good idea to move last night's post down.

It's going to be such a nice weekend here in New England-I hope that it is where you are as well. Enjoy!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sometimes

I know I'm going to catch some heat for writing this, but it's just the way I felt tonight.

Sometimes-not all of the time, or even most of the time-I wish I were dumb and skinny rather than intelligent and overweight.

I know that you are all going to tell me that there are guys out there who don't feel this way. And I know or know of guys who say they'd much rather have a girl who thinks for herself and who is "real". But I can tell you from my experience with online dating in the past and from my night out at a local bar that I pretty much think these guys are full of shit and that they are just trying to seem like nice guys.

Yeah. They're "nice guys" who flirt and fall in love with skinny boring girls with (sometimes) ugly faces because she's a size 2. They'd never even consider talking to a girl who wears double digits, and most of the time when they do, it's only because they want to talk to their hot size 2 friend.

Like I said, I know I'm going to get yelled at for this post by at least 2 of you. And like I said, I don't always or even most of the time feel this way. But being someone who's always told how great she is, how pretty she is, how much she has to offer, and being someone who hasn't had a drink bought for her by a stranger in a very long, long time (but been with lots of girls who have) I can tell you that every now and then, I'd like to be the skinny dumb girl who gets to feel special.

**I'd like to be certain that you all know that I am not saying that skinny people are stupid and that you can't be skinny and smart. Not at all! Most skinny people I know ARE smart. It just seems sometimes that when given the choice between a stupid person (who is skinny) and a person who looks like me (who is not) he will choose skinny because he doesn't like round. Even if the skinny girl isn't interesting, funny or intelligent...

I'm sorry if it seemed like I was putting skinny girls down...I wasn't.

What's Cookin? Braciole!

This week went much more smoothly than last-I feel more comfortable with the family and the children seem to have taken to me as well. I was nervous because Tuesday's meal wasn't so great-in fact, the main dish sucked. But Wednesday's meal was fabulous and last night's was a huge hit.

The 2 little girls had 3 servings each! The dad did as well and the mom had 2nd's. We originally had tons of left overs but as the evening went on they disappeared into the bellies of the family! I couldn't have been happier.

The youngest girl-I'll call her Melody-is two. She's very vocal and funny and when she likes the food she tells me over and over. It's hysterical. Last night while she was eating she was saying, "Nom, nom, nom, nom." She's so great.

So-since that dinner was so successful, I thought I'd share with you the recipe. I made Beef Braciole with a basic tomato sauce. I served it with whole wheat penne and garlic sauteed green beans. I hope you'll try it and that you will love it as much as the family did.

Braciole:

1 1/2 #'s Flank Steak
1/2 C. Bread Crumbs-use fresh!
1 C. Grated Parmesan Cheese-again, fresh is best
2 T. Fresh Parsley, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
Salt
Pepper

Method:
1. Pound the meat so that it is an even thickness and as uniform a shape as possible.
2. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl. Cover the steak with the filling.
3. Roll the meat like you would a jelly roll. Using kitchen string, tie the log so that it will not come undone during searing and cooking. Usually 3-4 spots works well.
4. Heat a pan until it's very hot. Add olive oil and sear the braciole on each side until it is a deep dark brown.
5. Place braciole into a large pot of your favorite tomato sauce. It's best to slow cook this for at least 1 1/2 hours but if you use a better cut of meat, you can cut the cooking time down, though you might not want to (for the flavor).
Serve with pasta.

Everyone seems to have a favorite tomato sauce recipe-if you don't, send me an email or leave a comment and I'll be happy to email you the recipe I used here. It's a simple sauce, but the flavor is really great with the braciole.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Adaptation

While I was driving home from CT this weekend my mind wandered, as it usually does when I am doing a "routine" task. I thought about many things, past and present and was surprised by one fact. I am no longer afraid to live alone.

This wasn't always the case.

When I first lived with Matt he traveled a lot. We had a tiny apartment on the second floor in a gated community. I hated being alone there. Even after a day at work I'd walk into the guest bathroom and check behind the curtain, then I'd move to the guest closet and finish in our room. While doing this, I was freaked out the entire time. At night I slept with an old English nightstick that Matt had from his mother.

We moved to CT and lived in the same area I grew up in. The crime rate there was and still is ridiculously low. This time we lived in a basement apartment in a residential area. Really, there was no reason to be freaked out. Yet, I was. There weren't many places a robber could hide in that apartment but when I arrived home after work (when Matt wasn't home) I'd run through the place, sometimes with a knife in my hand, checking under the bed and behind the shower curtain. It was worse when we built the house-that was 2500 square feet of pure freak out material. In the woods.

Understandably I was scared after Jamie. I had an alarm installed which made me feel better, but on days where the power went out while I was at work or it malfunctioned I was so uneasy I almost started crying. I slept with a maglight in my bed. I kept lights on in a few rooms at night just so people outside wouldn't know exactly which room I was in. I'm not sure why that mattered.

Now I live in a city-probably the most dangerous place I've ever lived (though it's not horrible) and yet I feel comfortable. Never do I check closets and only once did I wake up freaked out-and that was b/c my Asian neighbor was screaming at the top of his lungs.

I've always been somewhat of a loner-I enjoy quiet time and doing my own thing. But I've never really loved living alone-and yet, here I am, seemingly completely cured of my scaredy cat ways, totally comfortable living on my own. What's crazy to me is that I don't even remember it happening-it just did.

It makes me wonder what else has just happened without me realizing it. And it makes me a little sad that I am this comfortable living alone.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Randomivity


I've found out the hard way that lots of things seem to happen on Tues, Wed, Thurs nights. Drinks, Red Sox games, Dinners...*sigh*

My heart dropped when I saw the guy arrested for recent murders in Boston-from the side he looks exactly like a boy I cooked with at The Park last year...and he's from the same city. (It's not him.)

I didn't have to eat with the family last night-there was no room at the table. Instead I stood at the counter and though I'm sure they felt badly, I felt better.

The dad's back, and of course last night's meal wasn't fabulous. The pork was funky but I think it was the cut. Tonight he's out again and this dinner will rock. Dessert too!

I love being tan. I know I'm not everybody tan but I'm Maggie tan and it makes me feel good about myself.

I really hate my nose and wish I could afford a nose job.

I'm really a big sap. There were 2 young men running with their mother in the marathon on Monday. Their shirts read "That's my Mom" with an arrow pointing to her. The back read, "My Mom's my hero." Of course, I started to cry. WTF?

I had a really hard time breathing yesterday. It was very humid out and combining that with exercise was hard for me. Thank God I had my inhaler.

I'm getting excited for Florida. I'm going to get to see at least one of my friends and that makes me happy. I'm also going to get to go to my Happy Place.

While I don't like buying used books (it skeeves me out not knowing who touched it) I DO love buying bargain books from my local bookstore. I've gotten some really great books over the last few months for $3.99-$5.99 per book!

I miss my favorite wine bar in CT. I think I'll have to go sometime soon-I'll have to save up and skimp a little elsewhere but I really want to go. Stupid, right? I'm sure there's one just like it here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Toosdae ?'s


1. In your opinion is pornography morally wrong?

2. Write the first line of your novel if you were to write one.

3. What is the most profound piece of advice you have ever received. Did you take it?


1. No, I don't think it's morally wrong but I don't think it's fantastic either. I think that if people get addicted to it and abuse it that it could harm relationships. Overall though, I think that it's just another form of expression and sexual expression and if it works for you, it's your prerogative.

2. "She knew even before he walked in the door what was going to happen." This is the first line to my "novella" called House Broken. If you haven't read it, click the link at the top of the blog to be redirected there.

3. Sadly, I can't recall any single piece of advice that can be considered "profound".

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Menu Preview: Week 2

As you know, my first week as a private chef went very well even though it was a tiny bit awkward. This weekend I found myself scrambling to get the menu for next week set in time for the family to do their shopping. To add to the time crunch, I had specific cuts of meat that needed to be used. The family is part of a farm share and they get random meat delivered to them once a month. They are country ribs, ground meats, chops, sausages and a lone (tiny) steak. This made it challenging because it's not necessarily enough for 4-5 servings. I think I came up with some good ideas but I'll let you know for sure which recipes were the best. Here is the menu:

Tuesday:
Hoisin Broiled Country Ribs
Sesame Noodles
Bok Choy

Wednesday:
Ground Beef Stroganoff
Springtime Peas
Blueberry Streusel Bars

Thursday:
Beef Braciole
Penne w/ Simple Tomato Sauce
Garlic Green Beans

The country ribs were the hardest because they are actually 2 different cuts but each cut wasn't enough for a meal. I'll combine them. Depending on how meaty they actually are, I might take them off the bone after they cook to portion them out better.

The other challenge was that tiny steak. I decided to use it to make braciole, which is basically stuffed meat rolled, seared and plopped into sauce to make it extra yummy. By pounding it out and stuffing it, I'll be able to stretch it a bit. Hopefully it'll work out the way I envision!!

The dad is home this week, so I'm cooking for a "new" person...hopefully he'll like it just as much as the girls did last week.

Making Waves

First I had to color the fondant gray so that it looked like a dolphins skin...

Then I frosted the cake. These are my favorite kinds of cakes to do because they don't have to be perfect. In fact, the more willy nilly the better...here I made waves.


Then I added the white caps or sea foam.


Then I started creating the underwater scenes.


And last, the dolphin on top.


Overall, I'm happy with it. It was the first time that I covered a shape with fondant-I've covered cakes before, but not a crazy shape like a dolphin. So...I'm happy with how ended up. The kids were amazed and Rye Bread really liked it. I heard her tell her little friends at least twice that her aunt was a cook....which I guess is why she's got cool cakes. :)

This was the actual day of her birthday-we had a store bought cake and she smashed her head into it...actually, we all took turns smashing her face into it, and it was the hardest I've laughed in a loooooong time. The colors actually kind of look pretty with here eyes!


Me and my Rye Bread. I wonder what next years cake will be!