do not make curried cauliflower soup

The NYT doesn’t usually let me down, recipe-wise. Sometimes it lets me down in the Style section (does two baby boomer gluten-free dog bakery owners a trend make?), or when the Sunday crossword makes me feel incompetent. There’s a first time for everything, though, and this particular letdown happened on Sunday.

The soup was delicious in theory. Sauteed onion + garlic + ginger + cauliflower + broth + curry + a potato = soup.

While Jason mixed up some addictive red pepper risotto, I labored over the soup fixings in my Le Creuset. After simmering the mixture for thirty minutes, I blended the whole thing into submission (as instructed). Unfortunately, the combination of ingredients yielded a soup that was pea green and the texture of baby rice cereal. It smelled fine. It tasted okay. It looked terrible and did not sit well. Jason asked me kindly if we could maybe not eat the leftovers for dinner tonight and I agreed wholeheartedly. Can’t win ‘em all.

I realized today around noon that I was actually happy to be going home from work for the first time in a week. Jason got home on Saturday from a week away, and, per usual, life is better when he’s around.

His was the more interesting adventure of last week. I spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights out and about (Relief Society birthday, ladies’ movie night and work event, respectively), so by Friday night I was so exhausted I just collapsed on the couch and ate a pesto pizza. Mmmm. Pesto.

I woke up early Saturday morning and did the grocery shopping. Unfortunately, the day I don’t have a second party along at Trader Joe’s is the day I decide to buy a cantaloupe and a big bag of potatoes. I struggled mightily up our three flights with my overloaded paper bags (oh, because I also forgot to bring our reuseable bags with the comfort handles). I’m sure the neighbors appreciated my jingling keys and plodding footsteps and gasps for breath at 8:30 a.m.

On another grocery note, I have yet to find the bag of romaine that I lost in our kitchen. I must have just thrown it out or else I would think we’d be smelling it by now.

The rest of the weekend was relaxing. Jason got home right after I finished the Sherlock, season three finale, and just in time for all the basketball. We had ward conference so I didn’t have get to prepare a Sunday school lesson. The aforementioned Sunday dinner was not my best work, but Jason’s risotto turned out great. It’s so nice to have him home.

more of the same

I talked to Monica yesterday and when she asked what was going on with us I couldn’t think of anything especially noteworthy. (She is waiting on her mission call, which pretty much takes the exciting life cake.) Work is good. Church is good. Last week felt especially busy, but I can’t remember anything noteworthy.

When I woke up Saturday morning I knew not signing up for the DC Rock’n’roll half–which I pondered mightily a few weeks ago–was a good choice. It was cold and rainy and miserable out. We stayed inside and ate doughnuts and did some spring cleaning instead. I still need to find a good half marathon, but I think doing a cheap, humidity-free race in Utah is my best bet.

I wrote a long blog post that I probably won’t end up sharing about being a childless Mormon woman. (It feels a little self-indulgent.) I’m having some great experiences at work right now and am just really grateful for where life has taken us. Walking home from work today I thought about back before we came to DC the first time. We had no idea what the future held, and things have worked out better that I ever could have predicted. 

I made muffins for my class early Sunday morning. I love getting to spend time with the thirteen-turning-fourteeners every week (and not only because it means I don’t have to go to Gospel Doctrine). They are just funny and sweet and every once in a while we have great, spiritual moments.



I also like that they give me a reason to make baked goods, which I can’t justify for just Jason and me.

My brackets are secured. In basketball, I have selected Kentucky to win it all. Part of me felt like I should make a less obvious choice, but the other part of me is superstitious. Plus if they win I can make Jason buy us national champs shirt awhen we are in Lexington this summer (to match our 2012 shirts).

In Book Madness, my nostalgia will be my downfall. I have Little Women winning it all, defeating To Kill a Mockingbird in the round of 8 and Sherlock Holmes in the final.

I just finished The Art of Robert Frost, which Jason recommended. I loved it, and not just because he is a distant relative. I came away from it with far more appreciation for the thought that Frost put into his work; there’s so much more to it than just words that sound good together. As someone who can’t identify iambic pentameter unless President Monson is reading it, I loved learning about the classic influences on what seem like simple verses–and I now think quite differently of “The Road Not Taken.” This was definitely Best Books of 2015 material. Now I’m knee-deep in Nora Webster, which is likewise excellent so far.

in which we go spinning

I kept hearing great things about spinning from my friend/colleague Emily, so I tried out a class at our work gym with another friend/colleague named Emily while original Emily was on her honeymoon. (Yes, this is ripe for confusion. Stay with me.) In the tradition of group classes at my gym the instructor was great and I got a great workout. However, the uncomfortable bike seat left me hobbling for the next week. I did not go back.

When Emily returned from her trip, she invited other Emily and me to come with her to her off-campus spin studio, Zengo. We picked an evening we all were free and headed over in the pouring rain.

Zengo is housed below a Chipotle, but mercifully doesn’t smell like rice and beans. Our first class and shoe rental were free, and we stashed our stuff in the coolest gym lockers I have ever encountered. You set a password instead of using a tiny key you might accidentally steal. (The temple should look into an upgrade.)

The class itself takes place in a low-ceilinged room with black walls and a black ceiling and mirrors along the front walls. I was bike #38 of probably fifty. I got clipped into my bike (with help from an employee; those shoes are tricky.) and we started riding.

Turns out this was like no spinning class I’d ever attended. There were the usual four hand positions, but we didn’t just ride pretend hills and jump out of the seat. Oh no. We did pushups on the handlebars, then tricep pushups, then in and outs, then what can best be described as crunches on a bike seat, standing-in-the-pedals crunches, more ins and outs, theeeeeeen SPRINT! Meanwhile, a bandana-ed spinning instructor led us with encouraging words and enthusiastic yells.

When I noticed the pool (not a smattering of droplets, but a full pool) of sweat beneath my bike, shimmering in the black light, I peered over at Emily’s watch. Five minutes down, forty-five to go. We spun and push-upped and crunched and eventually did an entire song using the hand weights in the water bottle holder. I initially balked at the measly two pounders, but I had to take a break midway through before my arms gave out.

As we rode, the logical part of me wanted to think the whole conceit of stationary bicycling together in a basement was cheesy, and that in spite of what the instructor said, our spinning would not change the world or deliver inner peace…but the part of me that was having a great time didn’t actually care. We finished the class with some stretching and, contrary to my fears, I was able to get myself out of the pedal clips without assistance (a real victory). I always like trying new workouts and this one did not disappoint. Two thumbs up for Zengo.

thoughts in my head

On Mondays we wear animal-print smoking slippers. Photo and caption courtesy of Emily.

I’m reading The Art of Robert Frost and now I just want to wander the forests of New Hampshire and write poetry.

WCC, why can’t you schedule the early tournament games at a reasonable hour? Some of us have jobs and eight-hour-a-night sleep expectations.

Today felt like spring and it was intoxicating.

We made this chicken on Sunday–using a technique the NYT claims is called “velveting” (I’m dubious)–and it was great.

I’m trying out a new spinning class tomorrow night, so we’ll see how that goes.

Work has been monopolizing my mind lately. I have more things to keep track of than usual and it seems like I can’t get my thoughts to quiet down. May be time for a book on mindfulness.

I really really want to run St. George again this year. I also really really dread another marathon…but not so much to keep me from doing it, I think.

 

snow days

Last Sunday church was cancelled on account of freezing rain. Remember how our ancestors crossed the plains? To be fair, the sidewalks were slick and I hadn’t actually prepared my lesson yet. Also, being home all day makes fast Sunday rough. Monday morning Jason had a two-hour delay (my work is being stingy with delays this year) and Thursday was our second snow day!

The forecast was ominous enough that we figured on Wednesday that work would be cancelled, so we stocked up on snow day food and anxiously awaited the announcement. When we woke up, work had been cancelled but a single flake had yet to fall. I even thought about going for a run outside (but decided against it because the rain/ice combination has made for some treacherous sidewalks). 

After breakfast it started snowing in earnest. We spent the day in the requisite snow day way: eating good food, watching Netflix, reading, and sleeping. In the late evening Jason went outside to scrape the car. He’s responsible like that.



Guacamole (in our beautiful molcajete) was one of the required snow day snacks.



This particular snow day arrived at just the right time. Work has been busy for both of us and a loungey Thursday did wonders for morale.

This Thursday is supposed to be sixty degrees. I think spring might finally be on the way, and with it a much anticipated visit from my parents and a weekend jaunt to Connecticut. Oh, and running outside and being able to feel my fingers and toes and wearing something besides snow boots to work. 

ode to pizza night

Every Friday night is pizza night at the Frost house. I think this began in Kentucky, around the time I started experimenting with new dough recipes. First it was the usual bready, pale dough, baked at 350 forever and piled high with toppings to distract from the lackluster crust. The New York Times convinced me to move on to a long- and slow-rise dough with only flour, water, yeast, and a bit of salt. We stuck with that recipe for a year, at which point we were also on a caramelized onion and prosciutto kick. While the dough was good, it was finicky and proved insubstantial for such rich toppings.

These early pizzas were rectangular, baked on an old half cookie sheet from college (I think it was a gift from my Aunt Amy? Or maybe I nicked it from my parents’ house?). This particular cookie sheet is still part of our cooking tools and distributed the heat nicely along the bottom of the crust. There’s nothing worse than a white, floury, limp pizza crust. A year or two ago we graduated to the Williams-Sonoma circular, vented pizza pan. A major pizza-making game changer, the new pan reminds me of the pizza screens we used at Fat Jack’s when I worked there twelve years ago.

I finally discovered The Dough, the recipe I’ve made more than 150 times. It came to us from Smitten Kitchen, my favorite food blog. To yield two crusts, mix 3 cups of flour + 2 teaspoons kosher salt + 1.5 teaspoons yeast. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and enough warm water that the dough becomes a cohesive, soft mass (not too sticky!). Let sit under the overturned mixing bowl for five minutes, then refrigerate in the bowl, covered with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, until you get home from work the next day.

This recipe works for me every time. I bake the constructed pizza on our highest oven setting, which in the new apartment is 525 degrees, for twelve minutes. The dough is strong enough for legitimate toppings, but flavorful enough that we usually just go with a homemade tomato sauce, herbs and mozzarella and parmesan cheese. When the pizza is ready, the cheese golden and bubbly, I slide it from the pan onto a cutting board and slice it into eight even triangles. Then I slide the pieces onto a cooling rack–maintaining their circular formation for aesthetic purposes, of course–and we dig in.

Though I’ve clearly spent an inordinate amount of time perfecting my pizza-making skills (so much so that I just broke one of our two pizza cutters from overuse), the important part of pizza night is that it signals the end of the workweek. In Twyla Tharp’s excellent book on creativity (The Creative Habit! Look it up.) she talks about how her ritual of going to the gym doesn’t start at the gym door; she has a series of actions (putting out clothes, drinking a cup of coffee, getting in a cab) that put her in the gym mindset, which for a dancer is also a creative mindset. I consider pizza night a Frost ritual. Friday night is the beginning of our weekend and pizza is the almost Pavlovian signal that our two usually relaxing days together have begun.

I love this tradition. In fact, I love it so much that 94 (11%) of the 827 posts on this blog mention pizza. I love the familiarity of mixing up the dough on Thursday night and I love the way our apartment smells faintly of charred tomatoes on Saturday morning. I love that I get to spend most Friday nights with Jason. I love our life, and yes, I love pizza.

latest/greatest

This is what Mexico City looks like from the air.
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Jason got home yesterday afternoon after a very short trip. I spent the majority of the non-work hours while he was away watching Sherlock and eating cheese and crackers and baked sweet potatoes and 72% chocolate. Yes, this is my life. But Sherlock?! Can we talk about Sherlock?? I hate watching movies (something about the idea of sitting down for 1.5 hours in front of a screen just seems so unappealing to me. I blame it on being a film major. This does not apply to television, which I can watch with great abandon.) but I could watch Sherlock like the day is long…and I did, until 1:30 a.m. on Monday morning. This is so very unlike me.

Besides all that, life in the Frost house is good. On Sunday I went outside and it was 40 degrees and I was sure spring had arrived. Jason had a two-hour delay today, but my work had no delay. While I was incensed at the time, the metro was really empty and the roads weren’t so bad, and I am descended from pioneer stock after all, so I didn’t mind.

In this week’s Odd Things That Happen to the Frosts, we ordered some clothes with our Christmas Banana Republic gift cards: a skirt for me and jeans for Jason. When I opened the box, the skirt was there, but instead of Jason’s jeans we received a very very large, sheer, white Athleta tank top, i.e. something we would never in a million years purchase. It was bizarre.

Yesterday was the annual work triathlon, in which I participate every year, apparently. I wasn’t going to do it this year (what with all the not swimming and not biking I’ve been doing), but then I saw that my friend Katie had signed up and my competitive spirit got the best of me. In spite of doing half the swim breaststroke (always my preferred stroke) I was happy with my time. I don’t think it was a repeat of my 2013 winning ways, but I felt like a true athlete when I stepped off the treadmill in my, wait for it, gym shorts, high-neck swimming suit (it has netting on top so it’s not as grandmotherly as it sounds), and tank top. I looked like I was wearing a big blue bib. This is why I can’t go to a fancy gym. Sadly, no pictures.