photo friday: seasonality

29 Aug

With summer often comes an excess of fruit. I’ve been working on reducing my food waste (Lo! How we have let so much delicious fresh bounty go bad because that time we ordered pizza three nights in a row! Cauliflower, I hardly knew ye!) and decided when I saw a recent batch of strawberries and plums starting to look a little worse for the wear, to do something drastic.

I went to Pinterest.

Okay, that’s not the drastic part. Okay, really none of this was drastic, or dramatic, or anything of the sort. My point is that I got a little creative.

And I made me some popsicles.

(Sadly, not boozy ones.)

But delicious ones nonetheless.

Popsicles

(In case you’re wondering, it’s a mix of plum and strawberry pureed, and layered with coconut milk mixed with honey.)

 

things i’ve been meaning to tell you–late summer edition

27 Aug

1) A coworker is offering Mandarin Chinese lessons to our organization once a week over the lunch hour. We had our first class this week. I took four years of French in high school, and two and a half years of Italian in college. I’ve even got a year of eighth-grade German under my belt (wo ist Claudia?) But let me tell you something about learning French, Italian, and why you care so damn much about Claudia’s whereabouts: It is nothing like learning Mandarin Chinese.

Considering I barely have a grasp on English-as-my-first-language, I don’t have very high hopes of becoming fluent in Mandarin any time soon. But in our first lesson, I did manage to pick up a few language basics, and even learned a few key words and phrases like, “hello,” “my name is,” “thank you,” and “horse.” We were also taught the very important lesson about making sure you have the right tone whey saying the word “dad”—one wrong inflection and all of a sudden you’re talking about poop.

Also, I shit you not, they passed out fortune cookies during the lesson, and this was in mine:

What are you trying to tell me, Mandarin Chinese lessons?

What are you trying to tell me, Mandarin Chinese lessons?

 

2) Earlier this month I finished a thirty-day cleanse. For a month I cut out grains, dairy, sugar, and basically anything that was not a lean meat, vegetable, an occasional fruit, a nut, or a seed, and was told I’d feel like absolute bliss and wouldn’t miss the “dirty” foods (the aforementioned grains, dairy, sugar) at all. And I made it. I fucking made it through.

I know! I’m as surprised as you are. I learned a lot of terrific things about my body and how it handles food, and it really challenged me to break out of my normal kitchen cooking routines. Those were the good parts. The bad part is the woman running the cleanse needs an editor. And possibly a lawyer. Because when you are neither a licensed nutritionist nor a licensed dietitian, a trained counselor or anything of the like, I don’t think it’s a good idea, in your daily motivational email, to send out messages that encourage people to lie and tell restaurant staff they have food allergies when instead they just would rather not have cheese on their sandwich because they’re staying away from dairy. Or that if something is broken or toxic in your life, “Just drop it!” Because that works well if you have a job, are supporting a family, or trying to fix a relationship that is in a rough patch. “Fuck it all! I’ll just drop it!” But then again, what do I know? I am neither a licensed nutritionist or dietician, nor am I a trained counselor, and also I missed pasta for the entire thirty days. It was not bliss.

 

3) Speaking of pasta, I went out for a big bowl of it last night with my girlfriends, and over dinner we were discussing how growing up we’d always wanted to go, but had never been, to Wisconsin Dells—a common dream of many a Chicagoan child in the 1980s. This then lead to a conversation about Indiana Beach, and whether or not it was still in existence (it is), and what, exactly, it was. (All you could really glean from the television ads back then was Indiana? Not just about corn.) This then lead to my question, “Did you know there’s a town called Santa Claus, Indiana?” At which point I learned that one of my best girlfriends is in possession of the knowledge that Santa Claus, Indiana, is where Jay Cutler, quarterback for the Chicago Bears, grew up. I don’t know why we all found this so surprising; Beh Beh often is a font of knowledge you didn’t know you should know. But there you have it, Jay Cutler, the golden child of Santa Claus, Indiana. (Feel free to insert naughty/nice, lump of coal, or any other Christmas-related jokes in here. All the ones I’ve come up with are rather uninspired.) If you didn’t know, now you know.

photo friday: discovery is a beautiful thing

8 Aug

We’ve lived in our condo for a little over a year now, and finally we are starting to move out of the tear-your-hair-out-why-the-hell-are-these-boxes-still-here mode.

(Why are those boxes still there? Why have we not unpacked them? No clue. That’s a question above my pay grade.)

And what’s lovely about moving out of that mode is that there is finally breathing room between the working and the (lack of) unpacking and the life and the everything.

And a little bit of breathing room is lovely, as it leaves me time to explore portions of nearby parks that seem secreted away from the rest of the city, but are actually right in front of your face.

Fountain copy

 

photo friday: incoming

1 Aug

 

Planes

The top deck of Columbia Yacht Club has a most spectacular view of the city.

Looking south (because Southside forever and always) and to your right the skyline stretches out and up. In front of you Monroe Harbor waves back and forth, anchored by the museums at the far end.

And above, planes float lower and lower into Midway, every 120 seconds (we counted), like clockwork.

wherein i did something (i think is) pretty spectacular

30 Jul

Remember that time a month(esque) ago I put together a book list in all seriousness, and then completely undermined my own goal seeking by admitting I rarely, if ever, actually get around to reading the books I put on my book list?

Ha HA!

I’ve foiled my own plan!

I’ve undermined my undermining!

I’ve finished not one, but TWO books on the Summer 2014 McPolish Reading List! And I’m working on finishing a third!

No, it’s true. I really have accomplished such a feat.

I know what you’re thinking, and I’m as stunned and amazed as you are. Feel free to pat me on the back the next time you see me, because my arms are getting tired from doing it myself.

The first book to get a strikethrough was Mary Kay Andrews’ Ladies Night, which I would recommend if you’re looking for a great beach read. There were a couple of parts that struck me as a little thin, plot-wise, but overall I escaped quickly and happily into this book. Andrews has a way with descriptions that, as I’ve said before, makes me wish I was an interior designer or another career along those lines.

The second book I finished was Amy Falls Down, by Jincy Willett. Oh, Jincy Willett, how I love, nay, adore your writing. Amy Falls Down is one of those books I want to read slooooowly so I can savor every page. It’s a follow up (kind of? Maybe? I guess. It’s not a sequel, that’s for sure.) to The Writing Class, which I read a few years ago and enjoyed as well. (Though not as much as Amy Falls Down, to be honest.) Willett’s writing often goes off on tangents before coming back around to the original point or observation, but it’s done so deftly that you find yourself happily going along for the ride.

Third in line for finishing is Scott Johnson’s The Wolf and the Watchman. I’ll admit—I’m having a hard time engaging with the book mainly, I think, because I’m not accustomed to reading non-fiction. Despite this, I’m a third of the way through, and while it’s a good story, I’m curious to see where it’s headed. The general theme so far seems to be, “My dad was CIA. It made for a very challenging life for him and our family.” I’m just hoping we get to see what those challenges are.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the library. The rest of this list isn’t going to read itself, you know.

 

How is your summer reading going so far, Interwebers? What have you finished? What are you reading now? What’s been added to your list?

photo friday: cider houses rule

25 Jul

There seems to be—to me, anyway—an influx of ciders on drinking lists these days. It’s not bother to me—I’ve been a fan of Strongbow since I was a wee 20 year old studying abroad in Rome.*

But what’s even better is that the ciders I see popping up on menus hither and thither aren’t the cloyingly, over-applefied ciders I’ve frequently experienced in the past. You know the kind—one pint and you suddenly want to grab the nearest tube of Crest and brush vigorously lest your teeth rot on contact.

The ciders I’ve seen around lately are drier, crisper, lighter. Strongbow, I’ll always love you (probably), but some of the new kids on the block may become fast friends.

DSC_0808Photo taken at Virtue Cider in Fennville, Michigan. I’d recommend the Mitten. 

 

*Because obviously living in Rome you drink…cider.

csb june, or: let’s have a party with chocolate and sour cream

23 Jul

At the end of June, there was a conversation between me and my pal Beh Beh. It went something like this:

Beh Beh: Come over and sit on my porch with me and drink alcoholic beverages.

Me: Okay. I will bring popsicles made of booze.

Beh Beh: We are brilliant.

Except that in a frenzy of something-I-now-can’t-remember-so-clearly-it-was-major, my brilliance failed me, and I didn’t leave enough time to narrow down exactly which boozy popsicle I wanted to make, buy the ingredients, and freeze it all together.

Hence, our next conversation went something like this:

Me: You’re getting cupcakes instead. And prosecco.

Beh Beh: Yum.

I figured that for the cupcakes there was no time like the present—seeing as how I’d flagrantly failed to meet the June 20th deadline—to make the June CSB cake. And, it should be noted that since I’d last baked with the group, the rules had been altered slightly to allow bakers to choose from one of four cakes to bake, rather than everyone baking the same cake.

June 2014 Cake
I chose the sour cream chocolate cake, because I have an undying love for adding sour cream to baked goods; let’s just disregard the fact that it took me until almost July for the follow-through.

(Better late than never? Maybe?)

Anyway, as I will continue to champion until my dying days, sour cream in baked goods is marvy. It adds an almost whipped-like texture to the batter and more often than not results in a non-dry cake. If you don’t know about sour cream in baked goods, now you know. You’re welcome.

Cupcakes unfrosted 

Needless to say, these were an excellent accompaniment to our porch sitting and prosecco, particularly since I stuffed them with a strawberry whipped cream frosting (not in the book, a recipe I found online) that I would only change next time by adding more strawberry puree. And perhaps Frangelico. Or maybe bourbon. Or Bailey’s. Really, any one of those would work well because booze and whipped cream are MFEO just like Romeo and Julie, minus the depressing undertones of teenage suicide.

(WTF, Shakespeare?)

Unlike several of the recipes I’ve made from this book, I (obviously) really took to this recipe. I per usual disregarded the whole one tablespoon of sugar at a time because standing and mixing in sugar until your knees give out is no way to spend a Saturday and did you not read the part about the prosecco calling my name?

And if by chance you were wondering if I had to ask Swede if freeze-dried coffee is the same thing as instant coffee, showing both the age of this cake book and my ignorance of coffee-related nomenclature, well the answer is yes.

So come on over next time you’re around. We’ll go sit on Beh Beh’s porch and eat cupcakes and drink prosecco. And you can have some Sanka if you like, because don’t worry, I’ve got a whole jar, minus 2 teaspoons, in my freezer.

Cupcakes frosted

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