As many of you know, I recently switched jobs and my new health insurance company requires me to visit a GP before they will pay for anything. (Why exactly do heath insurance companies hate me?) So over the past few weeks I have been going from one Dr to another, sitting in waiting rooms full of sick people while I feel totally healthy so that my insurance company will pay part of medical bills they should be covering entirely.  During these visits with various MD’s, OD’sand LMT’s I have discovered that I work in a very dangerous field.  The following conditions are a direct result of my work and I have been warned to be on the look out for: 

1) poor eyesight- too much time in front of the computer can result my eyes having difficulty focusing from near to far .  This can become a degenertivie condition.   Prescription: reading glasses as well as a one minute break for every hour spent in front of the computer.

2) bad back- the height of my computer in relation to my chair requires me to sit forward and can cause pain in my lower back.  This condition can become worse causing pain through my shoulders and down my legs.  Prescription: five minutes of stretching for each hour sitting at my desk.

3) transmission of germs- because we work with the general public our door knobs, handles and water fountains are full of germs.  I should be washing my hands time I come in contact with anything the public touches.  Prescription: trip to the rest room for ‘ vigorous ‘ washing every hour or when coming in contact with the public. 

4) respiratory distress- re-circulated air (required in a museum) can cause lung infections.  Prescription: brief walks in fresh air, at least two times a day.

5) weight gain – those who work in a sedimentary environment are more likely to experience weight gain than those who are active (uh, duh?).  People who work at a desk should participate in 10-15 min of aerobic exercise to combat weight gain.

According to my calculations…. my Dr’s are requiring me to take somewhere around 2 hours and 48 minutes throughout my day to rest, stretch, aerobasize, wash and breathe.  Do you think I could get a Dr’s note for that?

I am feeling a little badly about the unflattering shrimp photo I posted on Tuesday.  So for today’s Food Friday posting I figured I would show shrimp in a slightly better light.  This recipe includes some pre-made chili sauce which may feel like cheating for you cooking purists but it could not be easier and is great over noodles or rice. 

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1 pound large shrimp, peeked and devained, tails left in tact

2 tablespoons Asian Chili sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add shallot, and cook until softened and light golden, 2 to 3 minutes,

Add shrimp, chili sauce, and sugar; cook, stirring constantly, until shrimp are pink and opaque, 3 to 4 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve over rice or noodles. 

 

Also: I started the Food Friday postings a couple of months ago because it seemed like a fun idea to try to find five ingredient recipe’s each week.  I am unsure if I am going to continue to do it.  What do you all think?

So what could possibly be the first thing?  Recently I have had e-mail requests to do a posting of my top five something.   To keep track of these requests, and to keep me honest, I have added a new page to my blog called “Ok, so what is your top five…?”.  If you would like me to post my top five anything, click on that page and leave your request as a comment and I will do a posting as soon as I can.  This is great opportunity for all of you who have been reading my blog (thank you for that by the way) and have not commented to let me know who you are and what you want to know about me.  Which brings me to the second thing. 

Beer. 

Mr. 5280 recently suggested I do a posting on my five favorite beers.  I immediately responded, “no way, too hard”.  But in the spirit of wanting to honer the top five requests I am going to give it my best shot.  In alphabetical order. 

Carlsberg – German style Pilsner

Why I like it –  It is a great all year beer.  It feels cozy when it is cool out and refreshing when it is warm out.  It is light with out being bland and has a good full flavor.

Why I really like it– In 2001 I lived in London for a time.  The Brits take their pubs really seriously and always have great stuff on tap.  Carlsburg quickly became my go-to beverage of choice  and whenever I drink it I think of living overseas and the easy comfort and laughter that fills local pubs. 

Hoegaarden – A White Beer

Why I like it –  A classic Begin white, reliably good (and amazingly still made in Belgium). 

Why I really like it –  It comes in a cool glass, and the only thing better than good beer is good beer in a cool glass.  Also, D may not remember this but he ordered a Hoegaarden the night we met and I remember thinking he seemed so mature, so worldly, so…old.

Red Stripe– A Lager

Why I like it – A great import beer.  A nice bite.

Why I really like it –  The year I graduated college my parents took my brother and I on a Caribbean cruise.  It was the last time the four of us really traveled as the four of us and when I think of the trip I think of sitting with my brother, laughing at his jokes and poking fun at my father with a bottle of red stripe in hand.  I don’t care where it is bottled*, it makes me think of vacations and sunshine and laughter and my family and I love that.

Sam Adams Octoberfest – Marzen / Oktoberfest 

Why I like it – A great fall beer with nice earthy flavors.  A little heavier for the cooler months and different every year. 

Why I really like it –  My senior year in college my friend C and I went down to Newport for Octoberfest.  We walked around the tents and the stalls wearing woven wool sweaters and holding pints of Octoberfest in our hands.  The sun was shining and the air was cool and looking back; it is one of my fondest college memories.  Every time I order Octoberfest I think of that day and of our friendship and I am happy.  (C might have a different memory of that day as she paid a slightly higher price for us blowing off what we should have been doing to go drink.  But that is her story to tell, not mine)

Summer Shandy – American Pale Wheat Ale

Why I like it – It is an interesting brew and has that nice lemon taste with out any of the sweetness that usually accompanies ‘flavored beer’.  It is a fun local brew and it is a pain to get, so I really enjoy it when I can.

Why I really like it –  The first time I had Summer Shandy it was on a bar patio in downtown Madison, Wisconsin (one of my favorite ‘middle’ cities).  The beer was cold and delicious as were the cheese curds and we ate and drank and laughed and drank in the sunshine for hours**.  I love the beer because of the way it tastes but also because it reminds me of how good it feels to be with friends anywhere, anytime. 

* The ‘Lite’ Red Stripe is apparently brewed in Jamaica but bottled in Stamford, CT.  

**perhaps we drank for too many hours as it was one of those days where you wake up with unexplained bruises and sore muscles you did not even know you had.  But, maybe that was from the Long Island Ice Teas we drank from mason jars…yes, mason jars.  One of the many reasons Madison is great.

What are your favorite beers?  Why do you really like them?

Yesterday D had some things to do after work (read- go to the casino with his friends) so I was left with the prospect of making anything I wanted for dinner, or at least making the type of dinner D would take one look at and think, “that’s nice, where’s diner?”. I figured I would go to one of my favorite overpriced local markets and wander around until something struck me as interesting. I made it through the produce section and the gourmet cheese area and ended up at the seafood counter where it took me three attempts to make up my mind and select some shrimp at $16.99 a lb. I don’t know if I have gotten used to smaller shrimp, or blander shrimp, or just plain old average shrimp but the moment Mr. Seafood Man passed them to me, I looked at the big gray-black tubes of flesh and immediately decided I did not want them. I really did not want them. I did not even want to hold them.  As I saw it, I had five options. They were as follows:

1) Admit that I am a complete space cadet and instantly return the shrimp to the seafood counter. Pro: I get them out of my hand right away. Con: I have to admit to Mr. Seafood Man that three tries is not quite enough opportunity for me to make up my mind when purchasing crustaceans as I had changed it again.

2) Hide the shrimp in one of the many cheese or pre-packaged sushi coolers and bolt. Pro: I do not need to admit to anyone that within a matter of 12 seconds I completely changed my mind about my protein choice. Con: if I got caught hiding the shrimp in a different area I would have to feign stupidity, look at the produce police blankly and say “oh, these don’t go here?” all while turning bright red as I attempt to bolt for the door.

3) Chuck the shrimp in the closest garbage can designed to take food sample remains and fancy coffee cups. Pro: Its quick and easy with a low risk factor for getting caught. Con: This is essentially stealing as it would be robbing the store of the $8.52 they could have gotten for my half pound of shrimp.

4) Suck it up and buy the shrimp. Pro: Least embarrassing and least unethical. Con: I don’t want the shrimp and $8.52 is one really nice drink or two sort of average drinks out of my pocket for something I will dump the second I get out of the store. There is just no way at this point I will eat the nasty looking shrimp.

5) Politely hand the shrimp to the check out girl when I purchase the rest of my groceries. Pro: Pretty ethical, seems easy. Con: Still fairly embarrassing.

I went with #5. The check out girl looked at me like I had six heads before calling over not one but TWO people to find out what the procedure was for returning food to the seafood department (can you return something you never purchased?) and asking me a bunch of questions about why I did not want the shrimp and why I got them in the first place.

So…my question is; how long to I need to wait before showing my face in the store again? And what option would have been better? Because obviously, I did not think through my exit strategy.

It’s not just me…these things look nasty.

All worm like and wet.

Letters to My Neighbor

September 22, 2008

Dear Neighbor,

As you may have noticed, in the last storm the fence that separates our yard has fallen down. We are not quite sure who owns the fence but maybe we can get together and talk about the repair. Sincerely, Your Neighbor

ONE WEEK LATER

Dear Neighbor,

We have taken a quick look around our yard and it appears that the fence that separates our yard from yours is different from the fences on either side of us. This leads me to believe that perhaps, the fence belongs to you. Since no one is quite sure, maybe we could split the cost? Best, Your Neighbor

THREE WEEKS LATER

Dear Neighbor,

I understand that since the “good” side of the fence is facing your yard, you believe the fence belongs to us. Have you considered that since the fence is exactly the same on all three sides of your yard, it may belong to you? Maybe when you put the fence up you decided you wanted to look at the nice side, and not have it face your neighbors. This shocks me because you certainly don’t seem like the type. -Your Neighbor

A MONTH LATER

Neighbor-

If we are going to continue to live together someone needs to replace the fence. I am sure you are not intentionally walking around your house with no shirt on and allowing your dog to take a dump in our yard but this is precisely the sort of thing a fence prevents.

ONE WEEK LATER

Fine. You win. I don’t want to look at your yard, your nasty dog or your sunburned belly any more than you want to watch me giving you the look of death. We will replace YOUR fence.

Food Friday: Rustic Apple Tart

September 19, 2008

I don’t generally make desserts that I can’t eat (stupid wheat allergy) but D adores apple pie and this is just too easy to pass up.  Using frozen cinnamon apples keeps the prep time very minimal but feel free to substitute some of the delicious fresh apples that are popping up at farm stands this time of year.

1/2 15-ounce package refrigerates pie crust (1 crust, not the pie-plate version)

2 10-ounce packages frozen cinnamon apples, partially thawed

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons sugar

Heat oven to 375.  Lightly coat a baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray.  Unfold the pie-crust and place on sheet.  Place the cinnamon apples in the center of the crust and mix in the lemon peel.  Fold edges over the filling, making pleats as you go.  Brush the edges with the egg, sprinkle with the sugar.  Bake 20 minutes of until the crust is golden.  With a spatula, transfer from baking sheet to a platter.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Even though it has been a few months, I am still feeling quite new to this whole blogger thing.  Lately, some blog etiquette (blogiquette?) questions have been coming up in my mind and I am hoping some of my fellow bloggers might be willing to give me some advice, or point me to a good source of information.  ‘Blogging for Dummies’ perhaps?

1) Blogrolls:  Is there a protocol when you add someone to your blogroll?  Do you send them a nice note telling them that you have enjoyed reading their blog for sometime and you feel ready to take it to the next level (cue scene from Wedding Crashers when Vince Vaughn tells Isla Fisher he is ready to take it to the next level and she thinks he means a threesome but really he is trying to propose.  I love that scene.  I love Vince Vaughn)  What about if you added someone to your blogroll too hastily and suddenly decide you don’t really want to read their blog anymore?  Can you remove them?  Do you need to go through some sort of break up?  Do you let them know its not them, really…its you? 

2) Comments:  I love comments. I think everyone loves comments.  My question is, do you respond to your comments?  Do you respond one by one or do you post a whole list of responses al la’ Mr. 5280?  (Personally, I love when my comments are responded to because it makes me feel like the blogger is actually reading them, but maybe responses annoy other people.  I don’t know.)

3)Posting:  Is it better to post something lame and crappy or not post at all?  For example, does it look pathetic and desperate is you just post a whole list of questions?  (oh wait…hmmm?)

4) Blog Crushes:  Ok, someone needs to explain the whole blogger crush thing to me.  What does it mean? How does it happen?  Does having a crush on someone you have never met or even seen imply that people are not quite as looks focused as we think they are and it is possible to be interested in someone because of their wit and charm.  I don’t have a blog crush.  I’m just curious. 

5) Family:  When do you tell your family that you have been blogging about them?  Or, do you tell them at all?  How does that conversation go?  I can already hear me trying to tell my mother.

me: Hi mom, so I have been doing this thing called blogging.  Pretty much you just post your thoughts and frustrations on line for the whole world to see.

mom: Oh, that’s nice dear.  What do you write about.

me: Um, all sorts of things.  I vent about work or strangers or eh, my family.

mom: So you talk about our family on the Internet?  Do these people know us?  What will the neighbors think?

me: Don’t worry mom, it is just a few thousand people who have no idea who you are but know that planning your retirement party almost put me in the loony bin. 

mom: That’s fine, I always loved your brother more.  Maybe I should but that on the internet?

Saturday I spent five loving hours at a good friends baby shower. After hour three of ohhing and ahhing over little socks and crib sheets I looked over at my friends loot and it occurred to me…I had no idea what half of this stuff was, or what it was used for. Call me crazy, but I assumed all a kid really needed was a place to sleep, something to eat, a whole mess of diapers and a few sets of feetsy pajamas. Here are five things I discovered all new mothers and infant babies apparently have to have.

A Hooter Hider– this is essentially a big old bib for moms to cover themselves with so they can breast feed in public. Apparently, a blanket will not do. I don’t know why. On the website they boast they they are the Nursing Covers for Chic Mothers. So, if you want to blow $40 on something that will make you look chic, this is the place for you.

A Swaddleme Adjustable Infant Fleece Wrap – Do not think that you can just wrap your infant up in a plain blanket. You must have specialized item for turning you baby into a burrito so it will sleep comfortably. You must have the Swaddleme Adjustable Infant Fleece Wrap! You must have two!

(If this baby could talk he/she would be saying “I can’t believe you just paid $9.99 for this weird origami blanket. Are you saving for my college education?” )

The Babybearshop All the Better to Kiss You With Lip Balm – Do not think you can kiss my baby un balmed! Want to hold the baby, wash your hands. Want to kiss the baby, apply lip balm. NO, not your lip balm, my super all natural lavender better to kiss you with lip balm.

Baby Leg Warmers – These are perfect for those times when your baby’s legs are cold, and you have no pants. Or, if you have named your child Jennifer Beals and want her to get started young. Do they make cut sweatshirts for babies too?

The Boon Snack Ball Container – Because everything is better if you have snacks, and snacks are just better in balls.

I made this last weekend to bring to a girlfriends house for brunch.  It is great served hot for breakfast or with some Greek yogurt and a salad for lunch.  This recipe is mine so the amounts are not exact but as with any quiche, you can add whatever you want and change it each time

potato’s

eggs (apx 10)

1 box of frozen spinach, thawed and drained well

crumbled feta cheese

1 tomato, thinly sliced

Thinly slice potato’s, lightly salt and allow to drain in a strainer.  Mix eggs in a bowl or large measuring cup.  Layer potato’s at the bottom of a well greased baking dish (ceramic or glass will work fine, so will square or round).  Pour mixed eggs over potato’s to cover.  Top eggs and potato’s with spinach.  Pour enough mixed eggs over to cover.  Top with feta, pour remaining eggs to cover.  Top with tomato.  Bake in oven apx 1 hr at 350 or until set.  If you like your eggs browned or the tomato caramelized, broil for the last 5 minutes.

Really? It is only Week One?

September 10, 2008

I am not going to proclaim to be a huge football fan or even to be all that knowledgeable about the sport.   I genuinely enjoy the game, I follow enough to know what sports commentators are taking about, and I adore Bill Simmons (mostly for his well placed 90210 references).  After this first week of football, here are the five things I am already really sick of hearing about.

1) That the whole NFL is in mourning over the loss of Tom Brady.   Really?  The wholeNFL is sitting home wearing black mourning the ‘loss’ of Tom Brady?  Are we being a little dramatic here?  He is not dead!  He is hurt, this happens.  Football after all, is a full contact sport. 

2) Conversations about what the loss of Tom Brady will mean for Fantasy Football.  D drafted Tom Brady as his one and only quarterback so trust me; I am fully aware of the implications of being sans QB for the reminder of the season.  I hate to be the one to point out the overly obvious here but the reason they call it Fantasy Football is because it is pretend.  Can we move on please?

3) Commentators comparing everything Aaron Rodgers chucks into the air to Brett Favre.  “Now, THAT was a Brett Favre throw”, must have been said 28 times during the Green Bay game.  Are we going to compare everything Aaron Rodgers does to Brett Favre?  Aaron Rodgers throws out his coffee cup, “Now, THAT was a Brett Favre toss”.  Aaron Rodgers hands someone some athletic tape, “Now, THAT was a Brett Favre pass”.  Aaron Rodgers moves his jock strap, “Now THAT was a Brett Favre adjustment”.  AR should just change the back of his jersey from “RODGERS” to “NOT BRETT FAVRE”.  Lets give the poor kid a break. 

4) Comparing everyone and everything to Usain Bolt.  I know we are still fresh off the Olympic media high, and when TO said it on Hard Knocks it was funny, but do we REALLY need to compare every athlete to Usain Bolt?  Can TO beat him?  Can Venus Williams beat him?  How much of a head start would I need to beat him?  I give it a week before we start seeing car commercials boasting about how they can go 0-60 faster than bolt.  Well, yeah… you’re a CAR.

5) Dramatic statements about how this football season it is “any ones game”.  ESPN recently posted the following statement “After week one, the NFL power structure is reeling”.  Really? The NFL Power structure is reeling?  Did I somehow mix up ESPN.com with NPR.org?  Are we talking about the invasion of Georgia or conversations with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki?  Maybe we should just send Tom Brady over to have a little conversation with him?  Since the NFL has lost Brady as its clear leader, maybe he can earn his keep by helping with foreign affairs?  Or at least start peace talks with Bridget Moynahan.