Sunday, March 20, 2011


Yakisoba! Is what I had for dinner 11:16 pm...cheddar cheese, I eat no other kind even though I bought the chicken "flavor" because I didn't want to seem so "only child" and "obsessive." I like to call these food obsessions seasons. This is a perfect simile for what I have as seasons can be both brief or enduring. I'm currently in fruit and ben & jerry's season. Fruit season came on suddenly with a flurry. Ben & Jerry's season has been long. So long that I'm back to a size 16 jean. Damn you Americone Dream! Damn you.

As I'm letting my noodles "stand in the microwave for at least one minute" I think about how age-inappropriate this dinner is. I'm a solid 35. Solid. And I have perfected making these noodles. The recipe is as follows:

Open package, peel back a flap from the corner (very well marked), remove flavor packet, fill with water exactly to line, microwave 4 minutes, let stand (see previous paragraph). Remove from microwave, and drain - not all of it - need a little bit of carb-soaked water for noodles to have desired creamy consistency without being too watery or too dry. Mix vigorously in a figure eight pattern, until packet is Incorporated. Pour noodles into bowl - just because my noodles came in a plastic carton from which a consumer can certainly and without shame,eat, doesn't mean we can't class it up a bit. The last touch is a bit of Lawry's Seasoned Salt on top. Because I'm positive this dish needs MORE sodium.

Why this meal is inappropriate? Let's look at the stats: 560 calories, 14 grams of fat (really? from a flavor packet?) I'm not quite certain the noodles or the "flavor packet" are members of any actual food group. Bottom line, if I know where to get the Nutrition Facts and am actually aware of what everything means, this food is clearly imprudent.

Why do I eat it then? Because its good and my body feels nourished and warm afterwards. Because last year with the new job, the bad back and mom's cancer, demand for big-girl pants was high. For a little while longer I'll eat like I was supposed to when I was in college but never did. Life owes me that!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cancer Day 2

Very unexpectedly this week I found out my mom has lung cancer. When the pulmonary guy, I'll call him Dr. Lipshits says, "Oh so nice to meet you, sorry for the circumstances, you know it's bad - as quoted from one of my favorite musicals, "There's a moment you know - - you're fucked."
Next I remember hearing these words in the following order: mass, significant, bronchoscopy, surgery, chemo, radiation. The next day Lipshits visits what I later come to find out was our room in a critical care unit facing beams of pure jagged hate from my sweet Mum (see Bronchoscopy). When I asked him to show us "on him" exactly where the significant mass is located, I'm thinking he would use his forefinger and thumb to show us, OK here are the size and location of the mass - I'm thinking it is the size of a quarter. Then he takes his two hands and opens them up to reveal an oval mass encompassing almost the entire lung - think Nerf football. Lipshits looks up to see three mouths that could catch Summer flies.
We now have an ENT, Dr. Mucusson, who determines the tumor is crushing one of her vocal chords. Exit, Dr. Mucusson.
Two critical days later, we learn the cancer is small cell (good news) and limited scope (it has not spread to her brain, stomach or lymph nodes).

Dr. Wilson (name protected for the sake of a good House, MD reference), our new Oncologist says either go home and spend your last days dying or do chemo, and radiation and have 1 good year before it comes back pissed and drug resistant.
3 votes for 1 good year, 0 votes for dying in 6 months or less.

So on day two of chemo, I will list for whom I am thankful: The critical care nursing staff at Paoli hospital for saving mom's life the first time, Wilson for convincing mom to treat, my partner for filling every ridiculous request, my best friends who are continentally divided in both personality and geography, and the dogs (mine+mom's = 4) for adding comical distraction.
ATTENTION SMOKERS!!!!!!!! Not around me...seriously...I will yell at you. You don't have to stay away forever, soon I will come to love you all again. But for right now, I'm not in the mood.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Dog Show

For anyone who knows me, they know that the Westminster Kennel Club dog show is my version of the Super Bowl, The final four, the last game of the World Series, hockey's championship series, oh sorry, you don't do sports? How 'bout my Oscars or Grammy's, or the night they announce who is the next American Idol. This show is a lot like watching Miss America except you actually have respect for the contestants. Westminster is a must-see television experience for those who dig dogs.
But you do know me. To the point where you text me when my favorite group is on, or ask me questions the next day about Awards of Merit*. I love you all my dog less friends.

For all of you dog less and dog full, I would like you to get to know my Westminster.
I have been LIVE to the show twice, so I know this fact for sure: it is better to watch on TV. What you get for showing up is a room full of bitches (don't mean the dogs here people), pouffing, and spraying and wiping and blowing...uh...drying tired and bored and annoyed dogs and bitches (the dogs).
Don't get me wrong, the experience is magical. It's so big, the City lights up the Empire State Building in purple and yellow. Now that's pageantry!

Also, you get to experience the show during the day where they do all the breed judging. This is where all the action happens. Upsets, disputes, backstabbing all happen here. If you are lucky - I was - you will get to see a Harlequin win the breed for the first and probably last time.

Then, you go find somewhere crappy to eat because I wouldn't say Madison Square Garden is in the nicest of neighborhoods. But you will be happy with Wendy's or Taco Bell. You are not here for the cuisine.

At show time you are herded into the Garden for the main event. Here you will have no decent view of the dogs nor will you hear much of anything.

This is where you will understand why TVs better. You get to see some fancy stock footage of coursing hounds and Neufies rescuing children. Then you are able to hear 3 different announcers, Mike LaFave is the main guy who announces the dog and main characteristics, whether or not you would want to own one, he always warns the Black Russian Terrier is not for the first-time dog owner, or the Akita is not for the timid or shy. Then you have the two TV "personalities" - one is the usual guy who gets to take Miss American - oh - I mean the Best in Show around as an ambassador of good dog will. He actually has dogs, Brittany's I think, and he usually tells you stuff like, "that Vizla is the one to beat." Then you have some other bobble head, master of wits who asks questions like why does a Poodle have that special haircut or says things like, why does that Chow have a black tongue, is that normal? You will see an accurate depiction of this scene in Christopher Guest's movie Best In Show.

After so many years of watching this, I'm a little jaded. I know it will probably be some tenacious terrier, puffy Pekingese, or purposeful Poodle. So I have turned to outfits. Yes blogosphere, I have become a caddy bitch about the handlers' and judges' outfits.
Standard issue uniform for this thing is not unlike something you would see worn by your elementary school librarian, skirt suit, cropped jacket, probably procured in the petite section at Boscov's, usually embossed, embroidered or bedazzled with some shiny thread. It is a somewhat formal occasion you see. Rounding out this outfit are a pair of very flat, outfit inappropriate shoes. There was an old shoe I used to sell by Enzo Angiolini called the "Liberty" They were about $62 in 1995 and quite popular with the over 50 crowd. The supple leather, ample color selection and comfortable arch support made them worth that hefty price tag. This is the type of shoe worn with these suits. Tonight I spotted a snazzy pair of Coach sneakers. I'm always appreciative of the variety.

Now this outfit does serve a function. The skirt must be big enough at the waist to hold a fine-toothed comb or a slop towel. Usually the cuff of the jacket holds hot dog pieces or raw bacon. And the shoes, you need to be able to run in those shoes. Especially if your dog is big, you are going to need to book it, stretching your petite legs to their absolute limits so that the gait and movement of your dog is seen in his best light.

So I get the shoes. I can almost forgive the shoes. But please try to abide by some basic rules. They need to match your suit. Certainly not oppose it! I saw a combo of ivory suit and purple patent croco embossed loafers. Honey, I know you just thought ivory was a neutral.

If I were Joan and Melissa, the prize would go to the working group judge. I would call her outfit nothing short of interactive. Picture Cruella de'Vil. You got that image? Okay, now make her blond with a bad perm. Now give her a taupe dress with a floor-length skirt, printed with a gold metallic jacquard pattern. The jacket had a high collar. It seems inhumane to be a person in a position of authority come dressed as a villain. Poor puppies!
Last night's winner was the tenacious terrier, Sadie. She wins points from me for her name only. I would have picked the Whippet.
'til next year dog show. Cross your fingers for the Great Dane or Lab, neither of which ever won Best In Show in Westminster's 134-year history.

Ro's Redbook Picks of the week
Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch
*Award of Merit - At the discretion of the judge, an additional award made to outstanding entries that are not judged to be either BOB / BOV or BOS.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bok Choy

Betty Crocker. I'll call her Betty here as we've known each other long enough now. You have sorely let me down tonight. Lending context to the reference for anyone who is not my mother or bf will know that I "consult" Betty Crocker's "Big Red" Cookbook. The one passed down generation by generation. The one with the batter splotch splatted right atop the picture of the Rosemary Roast Chicken or the lovely pineapple baked ham. Or the one that is brand spanking new that your new husband just spilled a pot of coffee on - Oh Gosh. The ever ready house expert in all matters of basic cooking did not include a picture, description nor instructions for Bok Choy.
Now, cooking and me - we are pals. I'm forgiving of the cuts, burns, broken fingernails and dry, chapped hands whilst I reap famous blueberry cobbler, fresh strawberry pie, put by corn, carrots and green beans, sauteed' fish and the Classic Thanksgiving Dinner.
I began my love affair with cooking when I first saw Julia Child. One of the shows I remember fondly was her lesson on garlic. I watched her carefully cut each end and then hold her knife up and say "WHAM" - as she simultaneously let the wide end of her blade crash down flat on the head of garlic. I was hooked! From there I started reading cookbooks - one being Betty Crocker's - and learning the basics by trying recipes for which I had all the ingredients on hand.
So, when I bought a head of Bok Choy tonight to include in a recipe found in the newest issue of Real Simple Magazine, I knew right where to turn. Flipping through the overused cardboard tabs to "Vegetables" and then looking at pictures and through descriptions: baby vegetables, broccoli rabe, celeriac - wait a bok choy?
Resort to Google Search "bok choy istructions." I didn't take the time to read full descriptions so I searched for key words - in context of what I know. I found "Chinese Cabbage" - okay, I'm Hungarian, I don't need instructions for cabbage. Proceed to slice the bok choy, bottom first and saw an unsightly mound of dirt resting in the underside of the stem. Okay, so, not cabbage. This has now become a leek. Leek protocol is the the slice/soak/spin method of cleaning. Steps should be self explanatory.
In the meantime, new recipe prep is in crisis phase. I don't know the technical term but it's usually the 10 minutes before you need to serve the thing and you have to do something very complicated, very fast, usually when you've never done it before. Crisis phase can be even more stressful if preceded by 8 hours of crock-pot cooking, otherwise known as a 10-hour work day.
Crisis now averted, the boyfriend strolls into the room, grabs a handful of the interesting vegetable resting in the spin and says, "Whooo, I like the new veggie, it's kind of like a radish or a head of celery. Bok Choy is just like celery but with really leafy green tops. You must clean the parts that rest close to the base - think where you need to clean the white parts of the celery. You can use both the base part and the leafy parts. It is especially great folded in the last minutes of a crock pot soup or hearty stew. This is the culmination of what I leaned tonight about Bok Choy. It was a multi-media effort, but eventually I figured it out.
What ended up being my downfall in this dish was the garlic-chili sauce. The recipe called for 1-2 tablespoons. Note to self and for the protection of other innocent bystanders that others might inflict, when using an unfamiliar ingredient, go the conservative route and choose the lower end of the 1-2 scale, especially when you have procured said item adjacent the Sriracha in the "foods around the world" section of "this is my only choice" Grocers.
A cook's ultimate compliment was received by me tonight when my boyfriend said matter-of-factly, "hey honey, this isn't too hot, I really like the bok choy. It tastes better than the Jiffy Wok!" Thanks, sweet, thanks. Methinks it super to be compared to order-by-picture Chinese take-out.

Ro's Picks for the Week

Betty Crocker's Cookbook
Google Docs - budgets

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year

Well, its that time of year again. Sigh. This week everyone was either counting calories or counting pennies. I need to hear some creative resolutions. The following responses are not acceptable: I keep them secret; I never make any; I resolve to stop making new year's resolutions.

STOP already!

Tell me to start a blog, tell me I'm learning French, tell me to vow to have "an experience" at least one a month, say I'm going to drink more water, I bought a 60 class yoga card that I need to use in 90 days, promise to read 12 classic novels in 2010, tell me go to church - just once, like Christmas or Easter or may be even Palm Sunday where there's door prizes, tell me your going to resolve to have more sex! Just, please tell me something so I can be inspired and motivated because you are doing something great too!

It's not too late. Make a resolution, tell some people. The world and its people are not as grey as a WWII movie. Share your resolutions with me. I'd love to hear them.

If you need inspiration you can borrow the ones above or here are some more: learn to make cake, dance the Lindy hop with your baby, resolve to tell your best friend how proud of her your are.

Here are a list of Ro's Redbook Picks for this week:
Becky Shaw at the Wilma
5 Guys Burgers & Fries
Mary Kay Timewise Age Fighting Moisturizer
$6,250 in 401(k) $6,250 in Roth(k)
Should we give our dog Heart Worm meds all year round?
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck