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Bats are assholes.

Warning: this post contains a lot of f-bombs.

So. It’s that time of year again, apparently.

What time is that, you ask?

Bat season.

Sigh.

Many of you remember my prior episode with an uninvited house guest.

This one began in very similar fashion. I was awakened around 3 a.m. on a random August night (morning) to see the intruder flying into my bedroom, causing instant panic. I once again fled to the backyard to regroup.  My traitor dog hadn’t even waited for me to wake up and assess – she was already downstairs in the kitchen waiting by the back door when I got there.  Jerk.

A raccoon was hanging out on the fence in my yard when we got outside.

“No,” I yelled at it, shining my flashlight (and by “flashlight” I mean flashlight app on my phone) into his face. “No, I cannot even deal with you right now. Get the fuck out of here.” He acquiesced.

So there I was, once again pacing in my back yard in the middle of the night, thinking if there is ever anything that’s going to motivate me to get married again, this would be it.

I got super brave this time. My panic sweats led me to turn on the a/c, which meant I had to close the windows, which meant I had to walk through the entire house. Which I did. Clutching the tennis racquet that has lived next to my bed since the last encounter two years ago. I didn’t want to hurt it (mostly because the idea of having to then deal with a dead or wounded bat stressed me even more the fuck out), but I needed to have some defense just in case. The tennis racquet was useful for things like pulling back the curtains to check for Batfucker (yep, I named him) before leaning in to close the window. It was useful for things like reaching into a room and flipping a light switch. I went room by room through the entire house. I closed all the windows. And I didn’t see Batfucker anywhere. I left a couple of lights on and settled onto the couch, figuring out what to do next. And it occurred to me that I had only actually seen Batfucker once, when I first woke up. Was it possible that I had dreamt the entire thing? That there was no bat?

No. Ruby had fled the scene. She has never once left my room in the middle of the night, until now. Clearly she had seen it too.  And after about an hour of sitting on the couch feeling like I was going to cry or puke from nerves, Batfucker flew into and then out of the living room. I tried not to freak out. I have learned way more than I want to know about bats, and I know that all it wants is to get out. I scurried to the front door and opened it, and opened the screen door, hoping for a repeat performance from last time when the bat showed itself in somewhat timely fashion. Sadly, however, Batfucker had gone into hiding and refused to take advantage of the exit strategy I had prepared. I was a wreck. And moths were coming inside to have a party.  I closed the door and sat paralyzed, no clue what to do next.

Morning finally came. My friend Leonard suggested that Animal Care & Control would come if I called; this was news to me! I dialed, and yep, sure enough, they would send a team. An awesome team, who did a very thorough search, and were super apologetic that they weren’t able to find Batfucker. (On a side note, there are a lot of jobs that would suck. Having to go into someone’s house and look in every nook and cranny for a live bat would be the death of me. I just had a full-body tremor just thinking about it.) It was possible the bat had found a way out of the house. It was also possible the bat was in some tiny spot where they hadn’t located him.

Goddammit.

So now I’ve had three hours of sleep, significant emotional trauma, and no closure. (Sounds like most relationship breakups I’ve been through…)

I spent the day walking around my house like some kind of demented tennis junkie, clutching my racquet.  I knew it was unlikely Batfucker would make a daytime appearance, but it was my bat security blanket. I poked curtains, towels, clothes in my closet. I held the racquet in front of me, looking up, down, around corners before entering rooms. I was literally scared of my own shadow.

I tried to be rational. Batfucker wasn’t lying in wait for me. He wasn’t trying to sneak up behind me. He wasn’t flying around the house during the day. He might even have been gone.

Except he wasn’t.

I had gone to tap, even though I was so exhausted, both mentally and physically, that I had no idea how I was going to make it through class.  I got home just before dusk, trying to psych myself up to behave like a normal human in my own home. I was pissed that I didn’t have a certain resolution. My home is my haven, my favorite place to be, so to be scared of being there was crushing.  I took a shower (with the tennis racquet sitting by the tub). I got some dinner ready (with the tennis racquet sitting on the kitchen table). Dinner was in the microwave and I was taking a glass of water into the living room when Batfucker swooped into the room.  I am sure this will come as a tremendous shock when I tell you that I freaked the fuck out. However, I did try to keep my head screwed on in the midst of the freak out, and I ran for the front door, shouting at the bat what the plan was: open door wide, go away.

I stood, shaking, on my front porch, when I realized the gravity of the situation: I had gotten separated from both my tennis racquet (kitchen table) and my phone (living room couch). I was completely unarmed, and I couldn’t call for help.  But surely it wouldn’t be long before Batfucker would take advantage of the lovely egress I had provided, right?

Ha.

The Dumbest Bat Ever had infiltrated my house. I sat on my porch swing for half an hour watching through the window, as it flew laps around living room, totally missing the WIDE OPEN DOOR IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROOM. Surely Animal Control would be able to get it, if only I could call them.

And then he disappeared. Crap. Now my fear became what if Animal Control came and he had gone into hiding again. I crept to the door. I peered inside. I saw nothing. I dashed in, grabbed my phone, and ran back to the porch. I waited a few minutes in hopes that he would return to his circles around the front room. Nothing. No bat. Grr.

I called Animal Control. I explained the situation. They said they would send a team. I sat back on the porch swing. Moments later, an apparent miracle happened: the dumb bastard found the door, and flew out into the night. Batradication complete.

I ran inside and slammed the door behind me. I called Animal Control and said never mind, thanks anyway. I told myself over and over again that there had only been one, it was gone, and there was no reason to be shaking like a leaf, or scared of the dark, or still clutching my tennis racquet (which I had retrieved from the kitchen). Logically I knew it was over, but the heeby jeebies weren’t so quick to relinquish their grip.

I have had three bats during my 3.5 years in the house (y’all didn’t hear about the first one, it wasn’t much of a story, although it’s on the list of reasons why Mourtney is such a great friend).  So now I will pay a Large Chunk of Money to have my house professionally bat-proofed. And it will be worth every penny. And it better work, goddammit. (They guarantee it will, so there’s that.)

As I write this, 24-ish hours have passed, and I am about 98% back to normal. Normal, of course, means sleeping with a tennis racquet next to my bed.

Things I have learned/observed/gleaned this week:

  • I am not a shrieker. You know how Carrie Bradshaw screams all the freakin’ time, usually over nothing? That’s not me. I’m a yeller. When I saw the bat fly into my bedroom, I did not scream. I shouted, “MOTHERFUCKER!” (Of course I did.)
  • If you live in the city and you have a live (wild) animal in your home, Animal Control will send someone any time of the day or night. They’re staffed from 6 a.m. to midnight, but someone is on call those remaining six hours. I had no idea. I hope I never need to call again.
  • There is nothing on tv at 4 in the morning. (Just kidding, I already knew that.)
  • You can have your house professionally bat-proofed (thank fucking god).
  • My friend Leonard is a wealth of information about bat resources.
  • Bats are assholes. (I already knew that, too.)

Please, for the love of god, let this be my last post ever about bats.

 

Note: If you ever have a middle-of-the-night trauma and need someone to talk to, you can call me. I won’t come help you remove a bat, but I will offer moral support over the phone like nobody’s business.

Summer Lovin’

Here we are mere days into the season, and I am already in the throes of a passionate summer affair. We’re committing all the classic blunders: intense declarations of love, blowing off friends to be together every day, staying up way too late at night for just a few minutes more basking in the glow, dreaming about each other at night, talking incessantly about it to others. And in typical fashion, I’m pretty sure I’m more into it. Sigh…

We’ve flirted before, sure. People whose opinions matter to me have sung your praises. I’ve caught glimpses of you here and there. But it wasn’t until earlier this spring that the time was finally right and good friends brought you to my house. We spent an hour together, then another, and another. Could this intense attraction sustain? But you have it all: wit, charm, intelligent discourse, snappy banter; instantly, I was smitten.

The West Wing, where have you been all my life?

Yep, I’m spending my summer binge-watching a TV show that first came on the air at the end of the last millennium. And it’s soooooooo gooooooood.

It’s not surprising that it I love it. I’m a huge Aaron Sorkin fan. Sports Night, love. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, canceled just as it was about to find its stride. A Few Good Men is one of the most quotable movies of our time. The American President is one of my very favorite movies ever, and The West Wing is cut from the same cloth. In fact, I think I’ve been driving my dad crazy telling him about the many examples of dialogue in The West Wing that are straight out of the movie. I just learned that Sorkin left the show after season four or five, so apparently I need to relish the early seasons, and time will tell where my affections lie later on.

Here’s how much I dote on Aaron Sorkin and The West Wing. I can make a list of flaws, both with the series and with his work in general (um, hi, ALL the people talk exactly the same, pelting each other with rapid-fire word assaults) and I don’t even care. Blinded by love, I am.

(With one exception. Omigod, I fucking hate Donna. She’s so annoying, and her character is implausibly unprofessional and meddling and generally irksome. She never would have made it to that level of employment.)

I have laughed out loud in every episode. Some have left me in tears. It’s kind of soul crushing how relevant the stories still are. They’re wrestling with legislation about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, gun control, fuel emissions, marriage equality.

Oh, and I want to marry Sam Seaborn. (It’s the first time I’ve ever found Rob Lowe attractive.)

I borrowed season one from the Sunshines and on a Saturday afternoon I was watching a very intense episode, thinking it felt like a cliffhanger finale, but knowing I still had another disc to watch. On the edge of my seat, I popped the final disc in to see what happened next, and IT WAS NOTHING BUT SPECIAL FEATURES – I WAS TRICKED!

I was also in a pickle. Where to get season two? Where to get season two RIGHT THAT SECOND??? I am the one person who doesn’t have Netflix. I started looking for deals on Amazon. But that would take (two) days to arrive. Then I remembered the library! The library had it, and it was, according to their website, available. The only problem was time – I had about an hour and a half to shower, dress, primp and get to a wedding, and the library was closed the next day. Could I squeeze in a quick dash through the library to check out season two, discs 1 & 2?

Answer: Hell yes, I could. And when I got home from the wedding that night I started watching.

I may need a better solution than the library, though – a total of six days (3-day rental plus one renewal max) is not enough time to watch and enjoy sixteen episodes, even for a junkie. The fines are beyond reasonable, but it feels wrong to go into it knowing I have no intention of returning it on time….maybe.  Or maybe I just need to look at it as a donation to a community resource versus paying a subscription fee to a corporate entity. We’ll see.  😀

Butter Wrestling

Alternate title: This is why I have parties

Ok, you now have totally the wrong idea about what’s going to follow, and you are going to be thoroughly disappointed. But a while back I told you I would have a post called ‘’Butter Wrestling’’ and I felt like I owed it to you. Plus, it is part of the story. And if I called this post, ‘’I had a dinner party’’ there’s no way you would read it, nor would I blame you.

So hey, I had a dinner party!  😀

I like to entertain, just in general. Life is too short not to make your own fun, so when things get boring I throw a party or have a cookout.  (Someday when my lottery consortium wins big and I have all the money in the world, I’m going to throw the most ridiculous theme parties. You will wear costumes.) And a major benefit of hosting a little fete is it causes my house to become not just clean, but TIDY! I have clutter. I just always do. But I like to pretend to the world that I don’t, so it goes away when I’m having company. This is great for the appearance of my house. It’s bad, however, for my secret hiding spaces. And it’s even worse a few days post-party when I realize I can’t find An Important Thing that I really need. But the moment of the event, my house will look lovely and presentable.  So if things are ever getting too cluttery, I invite people over so I’ll have to address it.

Back in the olden days when I was married, my (ex)husband* and I created a holiday. He got a turkey from work for Thanksgiving, and we didn’t know what to do with it, because we were already juggling more Thanksgivings than we could stomach (my mom’s side, my dad’s side, his family). Who wanted to eat another turkey? So we stuck it in the freezer.

Eventually, though, we needed to do something with it. And it occurred to us that Thanksgiving dinner is a pretty awesome meal, and one that you should eat more often than once a year. And that Thanksgiving is generally a family holiday, so you never get to spend it with your friends. And lo, Fakesgiving was born, and it was good.

Fakesgiving noun A holiday occurring in March or April (far removed from actual Thanksgiving to allow for sufficient anticipation), involving the consumption of a traditional Thanksgiving meal (turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc.), celebrated exclusively with one’s friends (and not one’s family).

Sorry, Mom. I know you’ve always been a little miffed by the ‘’no family’’ rule.  😉

So after the Great War, Fakesgiving went into hibernation for a while, at least at my end. (Our divorce decree didn’t specify who got custody of our made up holiday.) But this year I decided it was time to swallow my fear and bring it back.

Fear, you ask? Well…my ex always made the turkey. Remember my prior chicken victory? That was just for me. Making a turkey and being responsible for a table full of guests? Gulp. But people always say cooking a turkey is easy, so I decided it was time to step up and give it a whirl. I had to stick my hand inside the chicken, how much worse could it be to stick it inside a turkey?

Here’s the problem with that whole ‘’cooking a turkey is easy’’ thing, though. All my research was completely contradictory!

‘’You definitely should cook it in a bag.’’
‘’Just don’t cook it in a bag and you’ll be fine.’’

‘’You should put the stuffing IN the bird.’’
‘’For the love of god, whatever you do, do not put the stuffing in the bird!’’

Brine. No brine. Baste. Don’t baste.

AGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! My friends and the oh-so-helpful internet were making me FREAK THE FUCK OUT!! Everybody was so adamant that the other way was WRONG!

Here is how I finally decided what to do: the guy I bought the turkey from, who is also a casual friend (and runs an actual meat shop, because now it sounds like I just bought a turkey from some guy on a street corner) said that he uses a bag. Sold.

EEP!!!! Yep, I'm still afraid of raw poultry.

EEP!!!! Yep, I’m still afraid of raw poultry.

I bought a bag and settled on some websites that gave me simple seasoning instructions. I sprinkled salt & pepper inside the cavity. I cut a lemon in half, and an onion, and put them inside the bird along with some fresh rosemary and sage. I chopped up more of the rosemary & sage and smooshed them into some butter, which I stuffed under the skin, and then I liberally buttered the entire outside of the turkey, and sprinkled it with salt and pepper.

Now, attentive readers, you are probably wondering why the hell this post is called butter wrestling. You came here for a reason, right?

Here is the biggest lesson I learned while cooking my first turkey: putting the turkey into the bag is really a two-person job. And yet, there I was, just one person. This was a twenty-pound turkey; it’s not as though I could just balance it in the palm of my hand and slide it into the bag. Oh, and I mentioned I had slathered the entire thing with butter, right? I had visions of the damn thing skittering out of my arms and crashing to the floor. But that turkey. Was going. In the bag.

I’m not sure if it was good for the turkey, but I definitely needed a shower when we were done.

The good news is, it turns out cooking a turkey IS really easy! Once you get the bastard into the bag, you stick it in the oven and leave it the eff alone. H let me borrow this fab meat thermometer where you stick the probe in and it connects to a display that sits outside the oven and you just wait till it hits the right temperature. Presto, dinner is served! Well, first you let the turkey rest, and then you beg someone to carve it for you, but seriously, piece of cake. 😀

I forgot to take a glamour shot - this is the best "I'm ready to be eaten!" pic.

I forgot to take a glamour shot – this is the best “I’m ready to be eaten!” pic.

And Fakesgiving was super fun, and my guests brought all sorts of yummy side dishes and desserts and Mourtney brought a pistachio baklava that gave me a foodgasm. And I don’t like pistachios OR baklava. We are totally doing this again next year; I need a bigger dining room table so I can invite more people.

I even made my own cranberry sauce, also super-easy. And so pretty!

I even made my own cranberry sauce, also super-easy. And so pretty!

Oh, and ps, the turkey was delicious!!!

*I never know how to refer to him in stories from the past. (You forgot what this was about, didn’t you? And now you have to scroll back up to find the asterisk?) I struggle with this all the time. He was my husband when the story happened. It doesn’t make sense to say that my ex-husband and I had a party. But referring to him as ‘’my husband’’ no longer seems right either. “My then husband” seems weird and awkward. It always seems to require explanation anytime I’m telling a story to someone outside the inner circle. Someone help me out here. Surely one of you has figured this out by now? How do you refer to a former spouse? Spouse tenses….I can see a whole blog post spinning out of this. Future wife. Former husband. Diagramming relationship tenses. I need a word to describe my ex-husband for when we were married. Hmm….Pandi coined the term ‘’wusband’’ but she uses it to describe her ex-husband now, in ex status….I want something specifically for ‘when he was my husband’ but I think her word is the right word….I wonder if I can steal it…

Under the Influence – #3

These are lame post titles, I know that, but I figure I should make them easily identifiable and consistent at this point. I promise when I’m done there will be one called ”Butter Wrestling”. And if you don’t know what’s going on here, read this and this and this.

Moving on to song #3….

I’m Free – The Soup Dragons

This was a difficult decision for me to include on the program, because I was worried about how it would come across. Wait. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Firstly, this is a cover of a Rolling Stones song. I had no idea until a few weeks before recording the program, while discussing my song choices with a friend and he mentioned it. I promptly looked it up on YouTube, and did not care for it at all (which surprised me exactly zero %). The Soup Dragons’ version I love lots. I think my college roommate Charles (who no longer speaks to me, but that’s a story for a different day) introduced me to it back in the early 90s. It’s fun and funky and makes me want to chair dance (which I’m doing right this second, as I’m listening to it – Ruby is giving me her ‘’What the fuck are you doing?’’ look).

So one day a few years ago I was in a store, possibly in the mall, which is odd because I hate the mall, and I heard I’m Free being played on the store’s soundtrack, which was also odd, because it wasn’t 1994. It made me happy and I probably started bouncing my head or store dancing or something, and then something with the words just clicked:

I’m free to do whatever I want any old time.

That’s deep, man.

I had just split from my husband, and the song was like a revelation: I’m no longer accountable to anyone. And here we can circle back to why I was hesitant to use this song for the program. I didn’t want it to sound like I was at all restricted when I was married, or like it was a controlling relationship, or in any way reflect negatively on my ex-husband. Honestly, it had nothing to do with him – it was about me. I grew up, went to college, had roommates, a live-in boyfriend, a husband – I had never lived by myself or been completely on my own before.

I’m free to do whatever I want any old time.

When I got divorced, it was a delayed coming-of-age time for me. I think most people go through this when they’re younger, but I’ve always been somewhat of a late bloomer.  I lived with my dad when we first separated, but eventually I was able to move into my own home and it was fucking awesome. (Couldn’t say that on the radio.)  And to be clear, these aren’t crazy things I’m celebrating that I can do now. It’s things like I stopped making my bed every day. When I was married, I got up later than he did, and I made the bed every day. Not because he made me, but because when you’re in a relationship like that, you’re considerate of the other person (hopefully). But I’m kind of lazy and I don’t really care if the bed is made, so I still do it sometimes, but it’s not longer ‘’required’’. I fall asleep with the TV on. I leave dishes in the sink overnight.  I let the dog sleep on the bed. BECAUSE I CAN! Did I do some dumb things? Maybe. Did it matter? NO!

After having that light bulb moment in the store, I went home and made a playlist anchored by the Soup Dragons, built upon that ‘’footloose and fancy free’’ theme. It was called Phase 2. Phase 1 had been a playlist of angry songs. It was good to move on.

I’m free to do whatever I want any old time.

“They move around a lot.”

The Avett Brothers were in town last week, and as you may or may not recall, I got tickets for Klondike (and me) for Valentine’s Day. (He was totally fake-surprised.) Some might say, “Gee, she got HIM tickets for a concert SHE wanted to see….”  Fortunately, Klondike likes it that I’m selfish. Wait. No. That’s not what I meant. Never mind, that’s not what this post is about. 😛

Anyway, I was right, back in the last post when I was supposing that the concert would be something to see. They put on a spectacular show. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite like it.

A friend who has been a long-term fan of the Avetts had said something a few days before the concert that I thought was kind of odd. “You know, they move around a lot.”  Um….ok. It’s not as though I haven’t been to a concert before. I’m familiar with the idea of a live performance compared to….I don’t know, the radio?

Yeah. No. They move around a lot.

I have been to concerts where they put on a good, lively show. I feel like I saw Billy Joel climb partway up the rigging or something many moons ago.  But I have never seen someone gambol about a stage while playing a freaking cello. Not a guitar. Not a banjo. A CELLO. Well, never until last week. There was much bouncing and dancing and wild hair flinging and general music-making mayhem by all. With some low-key, pretty songs interspersed. In short, it rocked.

I will say, there were some other things that set this apart as a unique concert experience for me. I sort of felt that they let us in by mistake. I’m pretty sure everyone else in the sold-out audience was president of the fan club, whereas Klondike and I just enjoy their music and a good show. It seemed that every song they played was everybody’s favorite.  You know how everyone sings along with Billy Joel when he plays “Piano Man”? Every. Song. was a singalong. Almost to the point of being annoying – I didn’t come to hear you sing, I came to hear them sing. EVERY SONG. It was so peculiar. (ps, I tried to come up with an example other than Billy Joel to show some diversity in my concert-going history, but nothing captured it better than “Piano Man” did. Trust me when I say I’ve been to lots of concerts across a wide spectrum of musical genres.)

This also was an evening to be reminded that I am old and out of practice. I haven’t been to a concert in, oh, a while. I forgot that they don’t necessarily start on time. The other things I buy tickets for, like theater and sports, are pretty precise with the timing. Concerts, not so much. I also forgot that there is always an opening act, even if they don’t tell you there will be. And the standing – it never once occurred to me that we would stand the entire time. Old. Out of practice. Sigh….

But all in all, an outstanding (snicker) experience, and I’m quite happy that I didn’t miss the boat.

For your enjoyment.

Please note, they’re quite restrained (and short-haired) in this clip. It’s not to illustrate my points, I just really love this song. 🙂

Let there be soup!

My mom does not cook with a crockpot. There is no commentary in that, it’s just a statement of fact, by way of explaining that I don’t know how to use a crockpot. Most of my cooking foundation comes from what I grew up with, which I assume is true for a lot of us.

When I got married, he wanted to register for a crockpot, so we did, and we got one. I still didn’t know what to do with it. Amazingly, he did. He would throw some things into it before leaving for work, and when we came home at the end of the day, presto, the house would smell amazing and there was a roast with yummy carrots and potatoes. Like magic! During the treaty discussions of The Great War I certainly never made a play for the crockpot; clearly it belonged with him, when he could wrest such deliciousness from it and I had yet to unlock its mysterious charms.

Jump to Thanksgiving night a few years ago. I was chilling on the couch in jammies (duh) flipping through the Black Friday ads just to see what the popular deals were that year. I am not a Black Friday shopper. I don’t get up at four in the morning for anything, certainly not to stand in line at Big Box Nation to get a good deal on something electronic. I used to joke that Black Friday discriminates against night owls – I wouldn’t get up early to shop, but I might stay up late to shop, if there were any reason to. And then lo and behold, I discovered that Walmart (I know, I know – trust me, I only shop there about once every two years) had midnight deals. Nothing too exciting, just something to keep people occupied and in the store till the actual deals kicked in. Including a crockpot for $9.99. Also a coffeepot for $9.99, something else I didn’t have (or have much need for, because coffee is foul, but sometimes I have company).  So I decided what the hell, pulled on clothes (even I don’t wear jammies to Walmart), and ventured out. They were handing out maps showing where in the store to find the deals – crockpots, for example, were on a pallet in the middle of women’s clothing – wha ha? Maybe this is a typical Black Friday tactic to confuse and make people move throughout the store? Whatevs, map in hand, I found the pots, coffee and crock. I picked up a baby crock for another $3.99 – what the hay. I was back in jammies on my couch by 1. Not too shabby.

Fast forward again to 2013. My lovely crockpots are sitting in the basement, still waiting for some action. I have used the big once or twice to warm up things like cocktail meatballs for a party, but that doesn’t count. I want the magic of food that makes itself! Conveniently, one of the recipe enewsletters I subscribe to sent me a recipe for a magical self-making chicken taco soup that sounded like a good first adventure. And guess what – it worked! I threw a bunch of stuff into the crockpot, I left it alone all day, and poof! it made dinner! It was not too shabby, either. A little spicier than I like my food, but I’m a wuss. I don’t eat sour cream (gack!) but I can understand how it would go with this. I froze a large bowl for another day, and took to some over to a friend’s house too. (Finding crockpot recipes for one might be a challenge – any suggestions?) But I like sharing food so I can roll with it.

The recipe comes from allrecipes.com, but here it is for your lazy bastards who can’t do your own internet searches. 😉 In case you want it.
 

Slow-Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

  •     1 onion, chopped
  •     1 (16 ounce) can chili beans
  •     1 (15 ounce) can black beans
  •     1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  •     1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  •     1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer
  •     2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
  •     1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning
  •     3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  •     shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)
  •     sour cream (optional)
  •     crushed tortilla chips (optional)
  1. Place the onion, chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, beer, and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add taco seasoning, and stir to blend. Lay chicken breasts on top of the mixture, pressing down slightly until just covered by the other ingredients. Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 5 hours.
  2. Remove chicken breasts from the soup, and allow to cool long enough to be handled. Stir the shredded chicken back into the soup, and continue cooking for 2 hours. Serve topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips, if desired.

chicken taco soup
THAT’S IT! TWO STEPS! Presto, soup!!!! (Yeah, my mind is easily blown.)

Next time I make it I’ll try some modifications. No chili beans. Maybe some additional black beans, or another bean. Maybe tomatoes without the chilies – I like my food flavorful, but unspicy.  🙂

If you have any favorite crockpot recipes, please share!!

Oh, and ps, the $10-coffeepot was shit, at least according to the people who were served its coffee. My coffee-fiend father had a spare which now lives at my house.  I don’t know how to use it, but it’s here if you want coffee. 😀

For Lettie, my love

I have a handful of people who I claim to have stalked and forced into friendship. This might generally be a slight distortion of the facts, but I really don’t think it is when it comes to my friend Lettie, who does not get a fake blog name, because how awesome is her name and what could I possibly come up with that is half as delightful? (YAY, run-on sentences!)

Lettie and I have been working closely together on a project for a number of years (story for a different day), but in the beginning we were simply Facebook acquaintances. Until I emailed her and said, “I think we should have lunch.” She probably thought I was cuckoo, seeing as we didn’t actually know each other, but even from afar I could tell she was witty, AND she’s a librarian – swoon!

Lunch was a wee bit clumsy, seeing as we’re both kind of shy. But eventually we made it through the awkward phase into true sisterhood. We were both divorced, and although she was a single mom and I have no kids, there was lots of common ground, including the agony of dating, the loneliness of not dating, a love for community, dogs, volunteerism, charming older homes, wordplay, and general mischief.  Even though we run in different circles and have very disparate lives, she occupies a special corner in my heart.

So I was delighted when lo and behold…she met someone. And holy cats, she was on cloud nine. You could tell from the word “go” that this wasn’t just some guy; it was serious. Tony. You could almost hear the little hearts floating in the air around his name when she talked about him. I was so freakin’ happy for her.

Since my divorce I’ve maybe been a tad bit cynical about love and romance and relationships. But these two crazy kids seem like they were made for each other. Ok, so I barely know him, but I know ABOUT him, and I love him because he loves her, and because he totally acted like it was normal that when I saw them in the produce section at Fresh Market, I flung my arms around him even before introducing myself. And check this out….this weekend….they got MARRIED. Woot!

Lettie, Tony, and her (their) daughters, during the wedding. Love.

The wedding was lovely and unique and very Lettie (and, I assume, very Tony). It was a picnic at Fox Island, and they asked us to bring food and share recipes and good god, their friends can cook. Um, person who made that rice (was it rice?) & black bean & feta salad, if you’re reading this, can I have the recipe please? I brought my mom’s famous oatmeal cake. It’s fucking awesome. And while I already shared the recipe with Lettie & Tony, I’m going to share it with you also, in honor of them. I have no idea where my mom got this recipe. As far as I’m concerned, it originated with her. I know some people keep their kick ass recipes secret, but the world needs oatmeal cake, and I can’t possibly make it for all y’all.  Eat it in good health.

Oatmeal Cake
This is a delicious, moist, dense cake, maybe somewhat similar in nature to a carrot cake. (I don’t actually like carrot cake, so I don’t really know. But I feel like I’ve heard that comparison before.) Also, good news, it’s made with OATMEAL (hence, the name) so you can totally justify eating it for breakfast. It’s DELICIOUS and a crowd pleaser, so don’t be put off if you’re one of those people who thinks oatmeal cake sounds weird. I promise you’ll like it, and if you don’t, may I please have your piece? And it’s totally easy. I promise that, too.

Boil 1.5 cups of water, pour it over 1 cup of quick oats, and let it stand for 20 minutes. While it’s standing quietly off to the side, you can get everything else ready. Ooh, and maybe you should preheat the oven, too: 350 degrees.

Combine and add to the oats mixture ½ cup margarine or butter (softened), 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar, and 2 eggs. Add 1-1/3 cups flour, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. That’s it! Ta da! I told you it was easy!

Pour the batter into a greased & floured 9” x 13” pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (Note: if you use a glass pan, bake at 325.)
Let the cake cool in the pan for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to finish cooling on wire rack. Side note, mine broke when it came out of the pan – grr. So maybe let it cool a little longer in the pan than I said above. Fortunately, the frosting functions like glue.  

When cake has cooled thoroughly, frost the crap out of it with the following. People will fight for the corner pieces.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Let one stick of margarine or butter and one 8-ounce package of cream cheese soften. (Do NOT use reduced fat or fat free cream cheese wannabes, as they won’t work – the frosting will slide off the cake. I have tried.)

Cream together the softened butter & cream cheese. Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and approximately 1 box of powdered sugar, until the frosting is the right consistency. How do you know what is the right consistency? I mean, you’ve never made it. Right. Ok, thick, but still spreadable. Jesus, that sounds dirty. I’ll work on this section. How about….when the frosting tastes delicious and doesn’t slide off the spatula, it’s ready.

Gently cover the cooled cake with a liberal layer of the good stuff. If you’re so inclined, make pretty swirls on the top.

You will likely have a fair amount of extra frosting. I recommend saving it to eat later on graham crackers. Or a spoon.

I store it in the fridge because of the cream cheese. That is a partial-truth. I store it in the fridge because my mom stores it in the fridge. Presumably because of the cream cheese. It also freezes well. If you somehow have some leftover.

And now, please raise your forks to my friends.  Lettie & Tony, I wish you much love and happiness, with heaps and heaps of laughter. I love you guys!

Ready to eat!

p.s. They ate the entire cake at the reception. Success!