The Sweatshop of Love Blog

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June, 2009

Back on the Horse

I had horses growing up, and this is a real thing. If you get kicked off a horse you have to jump back on and tell that horse what is up. YOU are what is up. Not that horse. That horse did you wrong! That horse tried to tell you that you suck. You do not suck!

I do not suck! I can cook, you stupid horse.

Buckwheat Noodles They Are Not

Buckwheat Noodles They Are Not

I still had failure on the brain yesterday when I fished out these rice noodles. I smelled them. I pinched them. I read the ingredients and instructions. I glared at the buckwheat noodles still parked next to these in the pantry. They looked safe, being rice noodles, but I was still worried. Was there something I was overlooking? Could the gross culprit be something else?

I chopped the veggies, I cooked the noodles (still smelling normal I started to feel better), I stir fried the veggies, I mixed up the dressing, I threw it all together and put it in the fridge. I crossed my fingers.

That is Right, Horse. Suck It.

That is Right, Horse. Suck It.

Success! I can cook! And those buckwheat noodles are going in the trash.

Zombies with Lunch

Zombies with Lunch

For lunch today I cooked up a doozie. My mom tipped me off to this trick, which she got from HungryGirl. While damage controlling some family business (Matthew, my youngest brother, has decided to move out of my mom’s house with no job/money. Boys.), I poured 1/2 a cup of milk in my bowl and mixed in a little sugar free/fat free pudding mix. I let it sit while I chopped an apple, defrosted my raspberries and, cleaned my blueberries. I dumped in 1/2 a cup of oats, my three fruits, and sprinkled some nutty cereal and raisins on top. What did I get? An amazingly nutritious lunch mascaraing as a pudding treat! I put in about half a tablespoon of the pudding mix and it thickened up that milk so much! This was a pudding parfait.

Interestingly, there had been very little brain eating in the whole 130 pages I had read of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies up until I was eating a meal with a brain-like consistency. Didn’t remotely bother me, though. I love this book so much I could literally be eating brains while reading it and still be happy. That is love.

Death by Avocado

Since I got that Summer Sweater out of the way, I’ve been able to work on my other projects that have been hanging out on the back burner.

My Sweater Pattern

My Sweater Pattern

I separated the sleeves of the sweater pattern I’m writing. Cute, right? Tara’s Sweater inspired me to make my sweater stripped, and I’m working on it right now and looking at the picture of Tara’s sweater and it looks a lot alike! Right now I’m working on boob increases. It is hard to translate boob size to stitches increased, but I’m trying.

Working on it right now, you ask? One of the many joys of having a very old computer is that you have a ton of free time to knit, balance your checkbook, dance, whatever! while things are loading. I am never without a project while working on my Old Lady. Especially when I have a lot of programs going. Right now? iTunes, gchat, my photo editor, and this blog writing page. Old Lady is working hard. She is just lucky there isn’t a baseball game on.

F-BLTA Sandwich

F-BLTA Sandwich

If it is possible to die from an avocado overdose I’ve got to be close by now. After Saturday’s avocado soup and avocado salad, you would think I would have had enough of the stuff. Not the case! Yesterday PT suggested BLTs for lunch. With avocado, of course, though the letter is not represented. And if we are being technical, that is fake bacon. PT calls it bacon crackers, but I’m fine with it. I can’t remember what real bacon tastes like, anyway. This sandwich was unbelievable! Homemade bread, a little Miracle Whip, lots of tomato, romaine, bacon crackers, and a quarter of an avocado.

Egg and Avocado Salad Sandwich

Egg and Avocado Salad Sandwich

Then I turn around this afternoon and make egg salad with avocado for lunch. This is so incredibly simple: one hard boiled egg, 1/4 of an avocado, fresh cracked pepper. Mash with fork. Throw on toasted bread.

I’m sure I am alive right now only because my dinner last night didn’t involve avocado at all.

Fresh Michigan Blueberry Pancakes, and Potatoes

Fresh Michigan Blueberry Pancakes, and Potatoes

One of the best parts about being an adult is that you can eat pancakes whenever you want. Hungry at 3am? Pancakes! Dinner? Pancakes! Hungover and just woke up at 2pm? Pancakes!

Our excuse? The Logan Square Farmers Market treated us right again yesterday with a pint of fresh Michigan blueberries for $4. One pint of fresh Michigan blueberries? Pancakes! These were cinnamon blueberry pancakes and heavenly. The blueberries exploded when I cut into them, so the blueberry juices would spill onto the plate, mixing with the syrup I sopped up with my pancake! Stop. Just stop.

The potatoes were excellent, too.

I still had those pancakes on the brain when I was hitting my Goggle Reader this morning. A blog I just recently started following, Bakerella, had a blueberry pancake orgasm on her blog, too. And while you are over there, check out the reason I’m following this amazing woman in the first place.

By the way, my boobs are size 12 stitches. I’m ok with it.

Day Trip to Geneva!

My friend Colleen lives in St Charles, which is F-A-R. I don’t have a car so the only way we see each other is if she drives the hour through ridiculous traffic to Chicago or if I bike/train downtown then hop on a metra for an hour and 15 minutes.

Metra Whoo Hoo!

Metra Whoo Hoo!

1 hour and 15 minute train ride it is! I brought Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and read over a hundred pages round trip. I’m loving it! It is so funny and violent! And the integrity of the original isn’t lost of made into a joke. It is exactly what I wanted when I imagined one of my favorite books being laced with zombies.

Mushroom Omelet, Potatoes, Toast

Mushroom Omelet, Potatoes, Toast

Colleen met me at the train at ten to ten; perfect brunching time! We have a tradition of going to Nosh in Geneva, which is very close to St Charles, apparently. I’m suburb racist (they all look exactly the same to me!), so I never know where we are.

Usually our friend Shawna is with us and the three of us go, but Shawna is summering in Italy. Boy did she miss out on a delicious breakfast! Who would rather be in Italy when you could easily be in Geneva, IL?! Eating at Nosh?!

Certainly not me after I ordered the mushroom, caramelized onion, and herbed goat cheese (man I ate a lot of goat cheese this week) omelet, served with potatoes and multi grain toast. One of the great things about having a place like Nosh you have been to with your girlfriends a million times is that between the three of us I’m pretty sure we have ordered everything on the menu. There is no guessing! Everything is amazing, and this omelet didn’t disappoint. Caramelized onion in an omelet will be making an appearance in my home made omelets very soon.

Colleen and Her Polenta

Colleen and Her Polenta

Colleen ordered something that we always order, the pear polenta, which is always delicious. Nosh has a nice outdoor seating area that we took advantage of, hence Colleen’s hot shades.

Colleen and I, despite the heat, hit up Geneva’s Swedish Days, which was basically a huge sidewalk sale with food stands. Then we walked along the river where we made some new friends.

Make Way for Ducklings

Make Way for Ducklings

And we hit up a St Charles staple, Gramps Frozen Custard.

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We love Gramps. We love Gramps so much that we walked like two miles in 90+ degree heat there and back.

Cookies and Cream, Peppermint

Cookies and Cream, Peppermint

Gramps always has vanilla, chocolate, and twist, but then they make 4 or 5 special flavors of the day, which Colleen and I took advantage of. Her cookies and cream was amazing, my peppermint was delightful. We ate slowly to put off our steamy walk home.

Beautiful Dinner Spread

Beautiful Dinner Spread

Cooking with Colleen is like what non-cooks want cooking to be. Every time I make food with this girl I don’t even realize I’m doing it. It’s what I picture Joan Cleaver was like in the kitchen. She chops, she mixes, and out comes an amazing meal.

No kidding, she whipped up this dinner in 10 minutes. That is a strawberry, cranberry, avocado, toasted almond, blue cheese, balsamic vinaigrette-y salad and avocado soup. I’m a cooking dawdler, apparently, because I know that would have taken me half an hour to put together. Colleen mashes some avocados and asks me to chop up some strawberries and I turn around and everything is done! She can whip up a mean pasta dinner in about 7 minutes, too.

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We took that salad to town. I could have eaten it straight out of the bowl and never looked back. I make salads and they are chocked full of veggies and for me there is no other option. Strawberries? Duh! Cranberries? Allyson, get it together. Embrace the possibilities!

After dinner I read about zombies while getting very sad Tigers updates (1-8=OUCH) on the train back to the city while watching black clouds roll in. My tummy was full of amazing food, though, so that cut the pain of the Tigers loss and the potentially stormy bike ride back to Logan Square. I made it somehow, dry but for the sweat rolling off my upper lip. I knew a nice Saturday night in was exactly what I needed, so I watched the storms roll in. Me and the zombies.

Completely Spoiled

I have been eating amazingly well over the past three days. Just uploading the pictures I’ve taken since Thursday inspired the title of this post. No one in the world has eaten better than I, starting with Thursday’s dinner party with my friends Kasia and Anders. PT and I made guacamole (PT made guacamole), which was nothing compared to what we were served.

Goat Cheese Flan

Goat Cheese Flan

Starting with this beautiful Goat Cheese Flan served on a bed of salad. The Goat Cheese Flan was unbelievably good until you hit the halfway point, when it became ridiculously rich. I wanted to eat every bit of it, but just couldn’t! It was creamy and thick and cheesy! But non of us could finish it.

Beat Soup

Beet Soup

This beet soup on the other hand! I scraped the bowl clean. I’ve never had beet soup before, or chilled soup for that matter, but this was so good. Especially when you got a scoop with goat cheese in it.

Strawberry Rubarb Pie with Basil Ice Cream

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Basil Ice Cream

But the highlight of the night was the dessert. This Strawberry Rhubarb Pie was one of the best pies I’ve ever eaten. The crust was buttery and crisp and flaky, the filling tasted like strawberries sweetly kissed by God. If God had just finished eating a sugar cane field. And the sugar cane field had been danced in by rhubarb fairies. The whole thing was set off so nicely by the basil ice cream! The whole dish was so fresh and seriously perfect in every way.

Friday's Dinner of Sides

Friday's Dinner of Sides

Friday for dinner PT and I had some food that needed to be eaten so we combined it into a dinner of sides. Brussel sprouts, plantains, and corn dogs. The brussel sprouts were broiled in the oven in olive oil, salt and pepper. The brussel sprouts themselves are amazing, but the best part of this method is when the outer leaves fall off while cooking and become brussel sprout chips, all crispy and salty!

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Poor brussel sprouts get a bad rap. They are usually over cooked and droned in butter at Thanksgiving by meat eaters who have no idea what they are doing.

Fried Plantains

Fried Plantains

We also had some sad looking plantains laying around that had to be cooked Friday or not at all. So brussel sprouts and fried plantains? Sounds good to me! I pan fried these up in oil and they were better than ever. I had been trying fake butter before, but oil is the way to go. They cook faster and get browner and sweeter in the oil.

After dinner PT and I watched some baseball (the Tigers broke their 7 game winning streak/Twins won= one of us was happy), but it was such a lovely night PT suggested some ice cream. The Sweatshop has had a big week; a nonprofit asked for class donations (exposure! fame!), and I got a nice link on Carrots N Cake (exposure! fame!). There is no better place to celebrate exposure and fame than Margies.

Large Chocolate Sundae, Anyone?

Large Chocolate Sundae, Anyone?

We shared, which I don’t like doing, but it was midnight, and a lady can only eat so much ice cream after midnight before she starts looking like a balloon.

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PT was excited. And yes, the sundae warranted that face. Margies never lets us down.

Two spoiled days down, one to go!

Summer Sweater Finished!

Little Shoulder Preview

Little Shoulder Preview

I buckled down and finished up the straps of my Summer Sweater while watching the Tigers finish their SWEEP OF THE CUBS! It motivated me to knit very fast, football fast! I also seamed it up the sides, which matched up perfectly! I am so so happy with every aspect of this pattern I am beside myself with joy right now. The sides seamed perfectly, the strap seamed up relatively easily, considering I had to measure and remeasure to make sure one sleeve wasn’t longer than the other.

Pretty Pretty!

Pretty Pretty!

Seriously? Seriously? I mean. Seriously. LOOK HOW CUTE THAT IS! I’m looking down at myself right now, admiring how cute I look in this top. (Also, look at how hot my shoulders are. Thank you, X Sport Fitness)

I know you all want to knit this top now, so email me and I’ll send you the pattern.

6.25.09 summer sweater 002 (3)

It is too bad that the amazing feeling of finishing this sweater is being trumped by Michael Jackson dying. Not in a selfish way. It is really heartbreaking. It’s like the ’80s dying. He could be Madonna-ing it out, doing yoga and looking better than he did 20 years ago. Instead he crazy-ed himself to death.

But, my sweater is done. And I’m wearing it tonight, and will inevitably dance to Thriller. For Michael.