Sunday, April 22, 2007

One down, four to go

Seeing as it is late April already, I suppose you are all wondering just how my New Year's resolutions are going. What's that? You forgot all about those? Well, frankly, it seems I have, too. Yes, I am still making what I think is a valid effort to think before I speak and to remember that the people I care about (and even the ones I don't) might not see things through the same window I do (and, more importantly, trying to realize that that's OK). I am also remembering to take my multi-vitamin and calcium supplement at least four or five days out of seven (not stellar progress, I'll admit, but an improvement, anyway). But that whole cooking one? The one where I was going to make a measly five meals out of the Pillsbury Fast and Healthy Cookbook that's collecting dust upon my shelf? Yeah, with that one, I'm not doing quite so well.

Yesterday afternoon, I decided it was finally time to apply a single hash mark towards that goal. I had big plans for the evening, after all: a hot date with myself, watching the the Netflix DVD that's been sitting in my living room since before Easter while knitting several rows of a summer sweater for my spinster self. A lovely home-made dinner and a glass bottle of wine would be a fine lead-in to that. So instead of falling back on my usual stand-bys (frozen pizza, ravioli, or deli-case sushi), I pulled out the cookbook and started perusing it. I decided on Spinach and Feta Quesadillas and I took off for Trader Joe's.

I had never actually been to Trader Joe's, by the way. We've had one in the Twin Cities for less than a year, I think. According to TJ's web site, we've got two locations now, but both are in ridiculously overrun and/or remote areas that I tend to avoid as best I can. The lure of $3 wine was strong, however, as was my curiosity about the whole Trader Joe's phenomenon. When I finally returned from that voyage, however (well over an hour after I left), I told myself, "Well, I hope you enjoyed that, because we are never, ever going there again." The location I went to is a mere 10 miles from my house, but it took me 35 minutes to get there due to the ridiculous route Mapquest laid out, and once I arrived, I had to park two blocks away, because the hype and novelty of Trader Joe's has, apparently, not worn off quite yet. Interesting private-label snacks and Three-Buck Chuck are appealing, but not so appealing as to make me repeat that pilgrimage any time soon.

That said, my dinner turned out great. I cook with real, actual ingredients so seldomly that it was an event worth documenting for proof. See? I cooked! Really! People, a photo doesn't lie.

All right, so I don't have the mad food-photography skillz that some people have, so you'll just have to trust me that dinner was a success. I am particularly proud of my improvisational prowess. Not only can I follow a recipe, but I can look at said recipe and say, "Red bell peppers? I don't think so. I say tomatoes would be a far better choice." (By the way, I can hear all of you "real" cooks laughing, and I am ignoring you, OK? Progress comes in baby steps, and these are valid advancements, if you ask me.)

Since I am using my blog again to showcase my domestic skills, I thought I would also highlight what I did last weekend, which was to assemble the new bed I purchased recently, the latest exhibit in my bid to prove that a real grown-up, in fact, lives here. I've been sleeping on a mattress and box spring on a simple headboard-less frame for about seven years now, which, granted, is one step above a mattress simply laid upon the floor, but was still, I feel, embarrassing in some way. No more, however... check it out: a real and proper bed! A headboard and footboard, no less!

Where Stefanie Sleeps

What is most amusing to me (and likely no one else) about my new bed are the benefits of a headboard that I quickly found. No, I am not fantasizing about who I might tie to those bed posts with luxurious silken scarves; what actually got me excited was the fact that I can now sit up in bed reading without my back inadvertently pushing against the wall and rolling my wheeled bed frame towards the center of the room. This was a problem before, however uncommon and lame a problem it may be.

Speaking of reading, I have finally finished Eat Pray Love, the book that has been resting in my sidebar for likely damn near two months now. I don't even want to write a recap, because inevitably nothing I write will fully capture just how very much I loved this book. I'll attempt a recap anyway, though I'm not sure just when that will occur. This week is the MSP International Film Festival, so I'll be off watching movies (and quickly growing broke, at $9 a pop) for the next several days. A blog hiatus may ensue; thought I'd just mention that right now.

To keep you busy in the mean time, a few questions for you:

  1. What easy (no, seriously, easy!) recipe should I try, in an attempt to hone my missing domesticity gene?
  2. What was the last piece of "real" furniture you bought? What is the next one on your list?
  3. What was the best movie that I maybe haven't seen as of yet (but should)?

As always, I thank you for your undoubtedly sage and helpful advice.


-R- said...

I will think about your questions and answer them later (a little presumptuous that I think you care, but whatever), but for now I just need to share my shock that there are two Trader Joes here. I thought there was only one! And I am glad you have decided not to go back so that I do not feel bad about having no desire to visit one.

Maliavale said...

1. Quiche! I love eggs, so I make this a lot and never get tired of it. Easily customizable. Let me know if you want a recipe, and I'll e-mail it to you.

2. Oh. Shit. Real furniture? Does it count if I got it a yard sale? No? Let's see. I don't think I've bought anything since I moved to Baltimore! It was all free, or yard sale-d. I did spend a pretty penny on Persian rugs. Let's go with that.

3. A movie I saw this weekend that I found fascinating was "Koyaanisqatsi." Or how about "Do the Right Thing"?

3carnations said...

That looks delicious! I adore feta cheese! I don't have it nearly often enough. Domino's Pizza offers it as a topping now. Yum!

1. Stuffed shells.

2. New couch and loveseat (2005). Next up: An oak bookcase.

3. Beats me. This weekend we were watching episodes from season 1 of The Sopranos.

Darren McLikeshimself said...

I’m with you. I’ve been to Trader Joe’s, and I am so not impressed.

1) I don’t remember this one being terribly time consuming, and it is super good!

2) I bought some nightstands for the apartment I had in Brooklyn, but I had to leave them behind when I moved out. So to answer part two of your question, I’m going to go with nightstands.

3) Well, that’s a tough one. I mean, I’d have to know what you haven’t seen. I recently screened Chinatown for Heather. Have you seen that? It’s one of my all time favorite movies.

nabbalicious said...

Those quesadillas look so good. I'm a sucker for feta.

1) Giada's chicken cacciatore is very easy, so good, and makes great leftovers. The recipe is linked to in the photo. Another one of my favorites that we make is the tuna stir-fry, also incredibly simple!

2) Hm. Real piece? I guess it would be the dining room table? That was a couple years ago.

3) I really enjoyed "Zodiac" and "Babel." If you want something screwed up and creepy (but in the most awesome of ways), check out "Eyes Without a Face."

Noelle said...

1. I recently did a stir-fry and kind of amazed myself. The secret is to have a decent wok, and heat it until it smokes. Then, add the oil, and then add the vegetables, and they cook really quickly. It should be loud enough to scare the cat off of the kitchen table. Serve with noodles.

2. Most of my furniture is still the stuff I salvaged from my parent's basement. I did buy a baker's rack for the kitchen that I love. I'm holding off on all other purchases until I have my own house.

3. I just saw the movie "On a Clear Day" this weekend. A nice, solid English comedy-drama. I'd recommend it, although there are so many better movies out there. Oh, and I recommend watching it with popcorn topped with browned butter, cinnamon & sugar. Brilliant.

The Other Girl said...

The new bed is so pretty!

1) I'm emailing you a recipe because the people at Cook's Illustrated don't yet realize that all websites should be free.

2) Blond dining room set purchased when I lived at the beach in California, now dissassembled and sitting forlorn in my spare bedroom because the light-colored wood clashes with all of the dark wood molding in my current dining room. I'm holding on to it for no reason other than it reminds me of when life was sunnier.

3) The Scent of Green Papaya. Almost nothing happens in it, but it's lovely.

stefanie said...

R--I was surprised, too. I went to the web site to find the address of the one I already knew about, and saw that they've opened one in Maple Grove as well. I suspect you will never go there, as Maple Grove is about a thousand miles and at least three border control checks from your house. ;-) But seriously, why does Maple Grove get EVERYTHING?? I am not saying I want the abundance of all chain outlets known to man in a five-mile radius of my house; I'm just saying, I don't understand why Maple Grove wants it, either!

Malia--I have hated eggs for all of my life and am only recently becoming ever slightly less averse to them, so quiche is probably not the best starter recipe for me. Thanks, though. And I have never heard of "Koyaanisqatsi"; I will look it up. I am trying to remember if I ever saw "Do the Right Thing"... Guess I should look that one up as well, to find out!

3Cs--My original idea on Saturday was actually to make the stuffed shells Darren made a while back. Then I remembered that whole cookbook-using goal, though, and figured I should make a recipe from that book instead. I will definitely be trying the stuffed shells one of these days, though. They look awesome!

Darren--If I try that recipe, I will be leaving out the mushrooms, but just chicken and noodles could be good, too, right? And no, I have not yet seen Chinatown. I suspect that is some sort of crime?

Nabb--When I was perusing the pics in your recipe sets, I actually thought about making that Chicken Cacciatore one. I shall add it to the list! I saw Babel recently and thought it was excellent. I do want to see Zodiac as well, even though anything involving murder or general scariness is something I usually want no part of. I have never heard of Eyes without a Face (that is, unless we're talking about that old 80s song... which I'm guessing we are not).

Noelle--You think I own a wok? And, in particular, a decent one? Oh, that makes me laugh. Clearly you have no idea who you're dealing with. ;-) Popcorn with butter, cinnamon, and sugar sounds fabulous, though!

TOG--Hello! Glad to see you're still perusing blogs, even if you're no longer writing your own. Too bad you don't have something smaller and less cumbersome to remind you of when life was sunnier, but whatever works, I suppose. Also, that is about the best eight-word movie review I've ever read. (Nabb's assessment of "screwed up and creepy (but in the most awesome of ways)" was great, too, but that's more than eight words, of course.) :-)

lizgwiz said...

You can never go wrong substituting tomatoes for red bell peppers. Of course, maybe that's just my love of tomatoes and my hatred of bell peppers talking.

I made Suebob's (of Red Stapler) squash enchiladas a while back and they were yummy and surprisingly easy. I've branched out since then and tried different fillings, too.

I am sad to say I've never actually bought a "real" piece of furniture. My house is pretty much completely furnished with cast-offs from my family...I mean "heirlooms." ;)

Melissa said...

Ahhh yes. The hope and dream of being a grown-up, or at least, of convincing others you are. I face that all the!! Mind you it doesn't help when I say things like "When I grow up, I'm going to buy/own/go to...." Avoiding reality I guess.

I love to cook, but the key is easy cooking.

1. My all time fav is pumpkin soup. I say pumpkin, but really I mean squash. All I do is roast a butternut in the oven then peel it, throw it in a pot with stock and other veggies, and simmer for a couple hours, then puree it. Add is some spices, maybe some cream. It's a good Sunday night thing, and eat it Monday. I like it thick, and then you can also put it on pasta with pine nuts or something. Mmmm...I promise, it's easy and it's good!!

2. Last peice of 'real' bed frame and night stand. I was stoked when I got them, felt like a grown up... The rest is all hand-me-downs and such. My grandpa is a carpenter, so he makes me furniture too :)

3. Last movie I saw that I love~I don't go to the show often, so I'll just tell you my fav movie. It's called Dirty Deeds, it's an Aussie gangster flick with Bryan Brown, Sam Neill and Toni Collette. It's awsome, and I highly recommend it!!

PS....Just really read your blog for the first're awsomely hilarious!

beingmccrary said...

1. I'm going to email you 2 simple recipes.

2. 2 new leather recliners for the the basement "movie" center, as hubs calls it. I must say, I never really wanted a recliner but I do enjoy them.

3. I'm really not good a recommending movies. I just netflixed Black Christmas, the new one, and it was awful. Not that I expected it to be good, it's just I suck at movies.

L Sass said...

OK, friend, Trader Joe's #2 is in Maple Grove. AKA my old stomping ground (I am from Plymouth, but went to high school in MG). It is not remote. Sniff.

Also, the lines at the Twin Cities TJ's are nothing compared with the SOLE Trader Joe's in NYC. Consider yourself lucky.

(Wow, I really feel strongly about Trader Joe's, don't I? I'm a weirdo.)

Poppy Cede said...

That part about the bed rolling to the middle of the room? BEST part of my day so far!

1. Veggie chili:
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 small vidalia onions, chopped
2 medium yellow bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1 (40 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
2 (28 ounce) can pureed tomatoes
1 (16 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin

In a large soup pot add all ingredients. Heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes (or 3 hours if you want it to taste really super good), stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender. Serve over Texmati rice with cheddar, swiss, sour cream, cracked black pepper. YUM!!

2. A guest bed, which we now use ourselves instead of our expensive master bedroom bed.

3. April Fool's Day. Or, at the movies right now: Hot Fuzz.

Blitz Krieg said...

Sitting up and the bed rolling away from the wall had me rolling. I've been there before.

Anonymous said...

1. What is wrong with frozen pizza, ravioli, or deli-case sushi? I hate to cook as well, so I can find no fault with your usual fare.

2. Garage sale furniture doesn't count? You've seen my garage sale finds; I have beautiful beds for myself and my lovely children. I plan to purchase living room furniture sometime upon completing my education. (We may be sitting on the floor a quite a bit longer.)

3. I don't get out often and thus, don't have time to seek out highly artistic or independent films. Recently, I stole time away from those afore mentioned lovely children with a girlfriend. Music and Lyrics was our distraction. To fully find humor in this movie, it helps to be a child of the eighties, but that is certainly not a requirement. I laughed so hard that I cried and my girlfriend almost peed her pants.


metalia said...

This is the easiest recipe in the universe. And yet? Every time I make it, people ask me for the recipe:

Take chicken cutlets.

Slap on honey mustard.

Crunch up some of those onion ring things that come in a can (I think teh brand is French's?)), dip chicken pieces in.

Bake uncovered at 350 for half an hour. Devour.

stefanie said...

Liz--Yay; we find some common ground again after all! :-) We may differ on mushrooms, but I'm glad to see we both happily enjoy life without bell peppers. And thanks for the recipe link. I have never heard of putting squash in an enchilada, but it sounds tasty!

Melissa--I LOVE butternut squash soup, but I'm sorry... why would I make it myself when Campbell's Select makes a fabulous version that is ready in three minutes? I particularly like it with potato and cheddar pierogies in it. I wrote about that a while back. And thank you for the compliment on my blog; you are awesomely kind. :-)

BMC--Thanks for the recipes! I am going to have to create a "Blog Friends" cookbook to store all of these! Also, I had to look up that movie, and as I see it is a horror film, I won't be watching that. No way. Uh uh.

L Sass--OK, fine; you are right; it is only 15 miles or so from my house. (I just Mapquested it.) It just seems so damn far away! This is perhaps because the only times I have ever been in Maple Grove were when my starting point was on Grand Ave. in St. Paul (from which it's about a 45-minute drive) and when I was very hung over one day. So, my experience with getting to Maple Grove is not so great. Oddly, on both trips, I went to Maple Grove to stand in line. But that's far too long a story for my comments. ;-)

Poppy--That chili sounds good, and it looks way simpler than some chili recipes I've seen. It doesn't even look scary at all! Thanks. Know what does look scary, though? April Fool's Day. Please consult what I told BMC about me and horror movies.

BK--You have?? I honestly thought no one would understand what I was talking about there and would think I was a lunatic. Glad you could relate. Also, why didn't I just take the wheels off the bed frame, the whole time I had this problem?? I will never know.

Melinda--Hello! Haven't seen you here in a while; thanks for stopping in! :-) There is nothing wrong with frozen pizza, ravioli, and deli sushi, my friend. That is why they are my old standbys. Every now and then, however, I feel like I should maybe make a proper meal. Crazy idea, I know. Glad you are with me on this.

stefanie said...

Metalia--Sorry, girl, you slipped through while I was writing the longest comment response ever. That honey mustard chicken sounds just as easy as the pesto one you sent me. Thanks!

NancyPearlWannabe said...

I wrote out a comment yesterday and sent it off, but Blogger hates me and it's nowhere to be found. One more try:

1. Indian chicken masala is really good and actually really easy to make. Throw some onions and mushrooms in, serve it over some jasmine rice, and you have yourself some deliciousness. Oh, and if you do happen to try Trader Joe's again, they have a really good sauce you can buy, so the meal only has to be semi-homemade! (By the way, I love, love, love Trader Joe's. But then, we have about 15 locations, so...)

2. Oh, man- we just pretty much bought an entire apartment's worth of stuff. I guess a living room couch? Ikea, axis of living room evil. Nothing like a headboard to make you feel adult, huh?

3. I just watched The Professional over break and I loved it- Natalie Portman, how do you do it?

Paisley said...

Easy Recipe #1

Strawberry Dessert (yes, very creative!)
2 containers of low fat cool whip
6 oz. sugar free strawberry jello
1 container of frozen strawberries w/juice
1 angel food cake

rip up angel food cake and place in big bowl

Mix jello w/ 2 cups boiling water. Mix in frozen strawberry stuff, fold in one container of cool whip.

Pour over angel food cake.

Frost with other container of cool whip. If feeling fance, cut up fresh strawberries and place on top. Let chill for a good while (it's jello, y'all).


Easy Recipe #2 (from the Five Ingredient Cookbook)

1 can pino beans, drained.
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup italian or olive oil/vinegar dressing of your choice
1 avocado, chopped
cilantro to taste (I use 1/4 bunch)

Mix together and serve in tortilla.

sounds boring, but - yum.

don't call me MA'AM said...

Those quesadillas look yummy!

We can't have a footboard, because the Farm Boy is too tall. And he doesn't want to buy an extra-long King size, because then his feet couldn't hang over the bed. Apparently, you get used to some things. gah.

Recipes! Love them! Try these:

Apricot Glazed Chicken with Dried Plums and Sage

Roasted Califlower

Both are super easy, quick, and very tasty.

stefanie said...

NPW--Blogger is being quite the temperamental little bitch lately, isn't she? Not only did she eat your first comment, but she neglected to inform me via email of your second one (or of Paisley's either)! The nerve. I vaguely remember The Professional. Mainly I just remember that it was the last movie I saw here before leaving for a semester in Scotland, and when it was released over there a couple months later, it was called Leon. There were posters for it all over the subway stations... right alongside Barry Manilow Copa Cabana ones. Funny the things the brain retains, huh?

Paisley--Ooh, a dessert recipe! I actually do OK on desserts (I'm much more apt to bake than cook, though, again, it's a rare occasion where I do it), but I'm always up for new things to try. That one sounds awesomely Midwestern-potluck-dinner-y (what with the jello and cool whip and all), not unlike the recipe involving crushed Fritos that The Other Girl sent me. Excellent. :-) Thanks! I am totally going to compile these into some sort of "Blog Friends of Stefanie Domesticification Project" cookbook.

DCMM--They were yummy! And so easy, I'll admit, that it barely counts as a recipe. Season light cream cheese with pepper and onion powder, spread on tortillas, sprinkle with feta, cooked spinach, and tomatoes/red bell peppers, then fold and fry for two minutes on each side. So simple, even I can do it! ;-) Thanks for the recipes. I actually hate cauliflower, so that wouldn't be first on my list to try, but I checked the reviews on that recipe and there were plenty of people who said they don't like cauliflower but liked it in that recipe, so who knows.

guinness girl said...

I love your new bed! I'm still in the mattress/box spring phase, and I really need to graduate to a "big girl bed"!

Miss you, by the way! Sorry I've been MIA.

stefanie said...

GG--Thanks! I love the new bed, too. And I miss you too!! Glad you finally posted something; I was seriously starting to think I needed to call and make sure you were still alive! Glad things are well with you.