The Women’s March (Or Humankind Needs a Hug)

Today was the Women’s March. I didn’t march… again.

I didn’t spend the day speaking for all women alive.

I spent the day taking care of this woman — the one who needed to deposit money into her account so her checks wouldn’t bounce, the one who needed to call her cable company and fix her DVR so it would function properly and actually record programs while she was at work, and the one who needed to turn off the music, silence the world, and just listen to her baby breathe.

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So what if her baby is a 73 pound beast with bad breath?

He is still her baby.

I am that woman. I am the one who needs to take time to write, to cook, and to handle her business.

I am also the one who needs to embrace love and sadness.

Reading the story today about Tyler Hilinski’s suicide (the Washington State Quarterback) brought a flood of emotions about Phil that needed to be felt in the few hours available before I go to work tonight.

What good would I be to womenkind if I didn’t embrace my own needs as a woman today?

Sure, these all sound like excuses and they probably are, but whatever. I accept that.

We are all doing the best we can most of the time — men and women alike.

I’m ALL for the #metoo movement. I’m ALL for women speaking up and telling their stories — as raw and painful as they are. But I’m all for men telling their stories too — I’m all for men embracing their pain and their emotions… before they pull the trigger.

The human experience: male AND female is painful. Being alive exposes us ALL to unimaginable pain, and I want to give the WORLD a hug today.

I’ll probably settle for hugging my dog, but that’s a good start.

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He gives the best hugs… when he’s not sleeping.

XOXO,

I love you ALL.

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Still #4 (Or Michigan Defeated Wisconsin)

I’m back from Michigan, and I’m pleased to report that the Wolverines are still #4 after (barely) defeating the Badgers in Ann Arbor.

Even though the game almost made me die of stress (I still can’t talk about our kicker), I had sooooo much fun!

See?

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My Panda and I reunited to party like undergrads.

Tailgating is our favorite. We had pulled pork and Doritos for breakfast. I’d show you pics of that situation, but I was too busy eating it.

(Pro tip: Slows Bar BQ in Detroit knows pig. You need it in your life.)

When I wasn’t stuffing my face, I was meeting up with old friends.

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Including my old buddy, Dhani Jones. 

Even though we hit up four tailgates, we still made it to the Big House well before kick off because we’re professionals.

Angela spent half the game pacing the stadium (see earlier kicker criticism), but here we are in our seats for a minute.

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She love Michigan as much as I do. 

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I dare say we like it more than most of the 110,000+ people pictured here. 

After we won, we kept the party going.

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I may have had to pop an extra bottle to celebrate. 

And Angela used it to chase her victory tequila because she’s a gorgeous beast….

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And my kind of Wolverine. 

On the way to our next celebration we ran into some serious fratastic action.

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College never changes.

And somehow I find that comforting.

Maybe that’s why I keep going back.

That’s all I have for now.

I’ll tell you all about my Nana’s 90th at the cottage later.

Friday is College Football Eve (Or Bacon and Blue Cheese Potato Salad Bliss)

It’s Friday! And back in my Academy Awards days that meant blasting that Rebecca Black song on repeat until all of the other site producers had no choice but to sing along with it. (I had NO shame about hazing them.) These days, though, Friday is most notable for being college football eve.

It’s the day when I’m filled with anticipation… and absolute dread about my alma mater’s impending match up.

See, I went to Michigan, and I was there when we won the National Champion in 1997. So that means I have HIGH expectations. Those high expectations lead to devastation when we lose… and a laundry list of criticisms even when we win. Our season started off promising with decisive wins over Central Michigan and Notre Dame… then the Akron atrocity happened.

Now I’m basically rocking back and forth in a corner trying to tell myself it’s okay that we’re THE WORST 5-0 team in college football.

Instead of going on a tirade about Devin Gardner’s interception to touchdown pass ratio, I’m going to go to my happy place instead.

My happy place involves bacon.

Lots and lots of bacon….

Before our season hit the skids, I went back to Ann Arbor for the final meeting of the Wolverines and the Fighting Irish in the Big House, and I made bacon and blue cheese potato salad for the tailgate festivities. Because #duh.

The tailgate was all kinds of fabulous.

See?

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Even our photographer was having fun. #blurry

We kicked it with our old crew — our old crew with National Championship rings.

Michigan Wolverines on Dogs Dishes and Decor

They took the field when we didn’t seriously suck.

I may have even stolen the baby belonging to one of those guys.

Baby at a tailgate on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Because honestly? Who could blame me? #lookathim!

Babies are awesome, but I had to give that one back because I’m not a felon.

I digress….

Back to bacon, which may be my only reason for living if we lose tomorrow.

Bacon and Blue Cheese Potato Salad from Dogs Dishes and Decor #bacon #football #tailgate

Behold the life saving goodness.

Basically all of our apps were wrapped in bacon because we’re beasts… and because Jesus died so I can eat pigs.

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This is how Victors eat. #baconforever

If you want to make the potato salad yourself, here’s my recipe.

Bacon and Blue Cheese Potato Salad
(Adapted from Bon Appetit)

1/4 C apple cider vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
2/3 C olive oil
1/4 C minced shallots
2 T fresh, minced parsley
4 lbs of small red potatoes (unpeeled)
4 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 C crumbled blue cheese
1/2 C whipping cream
12 slices of bacon
3 T fresh, minced chives
Cracked pepper, to taste
Mix vinegar, mustard, and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil in a thin stream. Whisk in shallot and minced parsley.
Steam or boil potatoes until just tender. Cool slightly. Cut potatoes into 1/4″ slices. Place potatoes in a large bowl. Gently mix a 1/2 C of dressing into the potatoes.
Cook bacon in a frying pan until crispy. Crumble bacon and set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix together the whipping cream and the blue cheese. Mix the cheese and cream mixture into the remaining dressing. Spoon over potatoes. Add chopped celery. Top the salad with crumbled bacon and chives.

Go blue and stuff.

 

There’s Beer in My Sundae (Or How to Make a Guinness Ice Cream Sundae)

The espresso chocolate sauce compliments the Guinness ice cream in this sundae.

When I was in college, I worked at an Irish Pub in Ann Arbor called Conor O’Neill’s. Not only did they have the best corned beef and cabbage I have ever had, but they also had a Guinness ice cream sundae on the dessert menu that was sort of divine.

I’m not sure if it’s the unrelenting heat in Hollywood or the start of college football season that is making me miss Guinness ice cream more.

And while we’re on the topic of unanswered questions….

Here’s a matter weighing heavily on my mind at the moment.

See, Jerry the Zebra Shark belongs here.

And yet, my enormous dog insists he belongs here.

Unceremoniously thrown against the bedroom wall.

Or here.

Left for dead in the hallway. Again.

Or just basically any spot Albus drops the poor shark after savagely shaking him. This is like a daily occurrence in my house.

I don’t understand why my dog has a vendetta against this soft, quiet shark. What did Jerry ever do to Albus? Is he taunting my dog in some language I don’t understand?

Oh, you have no idea, lady. That shark says hateful things. Now let me go back to sleep.

So anyway, enough with the shark shaking business. It’s time to talk about putting beer in your ice cream.

I found this recipe for Guinness ice cream on YumSugar. I made it yesterday and didn’t think it had a strong enough Guinness flavor. Plus the custard curdled a bit, so I made some tweaks to the recipe today.

Next time, I think I’m going to try this recipe because it’s from Boston, and that sort of makes me think it will be better.

Since I had a bunch of ice cream on my hands that wasn’t absolutely amazing by itself, I decided to slather it in espresso chocolate sauce and make my own Guinness ice cream sundae.

Here’s how I did it.

Guinness Ice Cream

2 ½ C Guinness
2 C heavy cream (not whipping cream)
1 3/4 C whole milk
15 large egg yolks
1 C granulated sugar

Separate the egg whites and yokes. Set aside the yokes. (I save the egg whites for the dogs because I can’t stand throwing away food.)

Combine 2 C Guinness, cream, and milk in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium high heat.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. Gradually add the hot Guinness mixture to the yolks, whisking constantly until well blended.

Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until it coats the back of a spoon, about 6-8 minutes. Don’t let the mixture boil.

If you see curdles in the mixture (I did both times I made the custard), strain the mixture through a mesh strainer as you’re pouring it into a medium bowl.

See this foamy curdled mess? It doesn’t belong in your custard. Trust me.

Set the medium bowl in a large bowl filled with ice water. Add the remaining ½ C of Guinness and whisk to mix. Let the custard stand until it’s cold, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Pour the custard into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and freeze until firm, about 4 hours.

Spoon the ice cream into bowls and top with chocolate espresso sauce, whipped cream, and a maraschino cherry.

Espresso Chocolate Sauce 

2 T boiling water
1 T instant espresso powder
3/4 
C heavy cream
1 
T light corn syrup
8 
ounces semisweet baking chocolate, finely chopped (about 1-1/3 cups)

Combine the boiling water and espresso powder in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine the heavy cream and the corn syrup. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in the espresso mixture. Add the chocolate and stir until well blended.

This espresso chocolate sauce is amazing, and it saves the only OK ice cream. (It’s based on this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.)

I prefer homemade whipped cream to the canned variety, but both will work. Check out this link for instructions on how to make whipped cream.

I topped my sundae off with a moonshine cherry because it just seemed like the right thing to do.

Fall Means Football and The Race for the Rescues (Or Why We Walk)

Labor Day is rapidly approaching. And even though the oppressive heat isn’t really waning, fall is technically on its way. And while I will defy my strict WASP upbringing by wearing white well after the 3rd, I am preparing for the two events that define fall for me: college football and the Race for the Rescues.

See, I love football. Like, my mood for the entire week is determined by the performance of a pack of 19 year old boys in spandex, love football. So this is basically going to be me until December.

Photo courtesy of someecards.

Not only does football mean yelling at my television for four straight hours every Saturday, but it also means football parties. Be on the lookout for great game day recipes in the coming weeks. And I will absolutely do my best to be a lady and not subject you to my rants about bad play calling and interceptions. I will save those for Facebook where my college friends and I come together to publicly mourn, berate, and celebrate our boys in blue.

The other event that means fall for me? Is the annual Race for the Rescues at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It’s a 10 K benefiting 12 non profit animal welfare organizations in Los Angeles, and I do it with my dogs every year. You can read more about it here. The participating organizations rehabilitate wildlife, provide low cost veterinary care for low income families (including free spay and neuter clinics), and also place adoptable animals in loving homes.

Why do we walk?

Because 400 dogs and cats are euthanized in Los Angeles shelters each week. That means more than 20,000 adoptable animals die in Los Angeles shelters every year. Because approximately 3-4 million animals are euthanized nationwide. Because 60% of dogs and 70% of cats who enter shelters will never find a home. And because I can’t close my eyes and wish those statistics away.

I do not mean to make anyone feel guilty for obtaining their loving pet from a responsible breeder, and I understand that pet adoption is not for everyone, but it is for me. I have adopted four dogs in my adult life and each one has enriched my life immeasurably.

So, October 7, my two red rescues and I are walking in honor of Woodley’s littermate, Peyton, who has brought joy to her new mommy. (That’s a long story for a different post. Just know it’s not advisable to adopt litter mates.)

Peyton was adopted in December and even though I miss her, I know she has a safe, loving home.

And we’re walking in memory of Brady, Hunter, Rocco, Max, and Bella who are all playing together in Dog Heaven.

This photo was taken the last Christmas Brady and I spent together. On December 29, 2007, he lost a long battle with congestive heart failure.

Hunter was Brady’s best friend, and I was by Huntie’s side when he died. Hunter and his mommy have a special place in my heart. Forever.

Rocco was a beloved big brother and family member. He was skilled at unwrapping presents and making everyone smile. He loved his family and his soap operas. We miss you, Mister Roccos!

Bella put up a valiant fight against cancer, but lost her battle last week. Blake, Audrey, Matt, and Kelley miss their beautiful girl. So this is me giving them a huge internet hug because my arms aren’t long enough to reach to Chicago.

Max was by his mommy’s side for so many adventures including a move to Mexico last year. He died suddenly this summer, and now this little angel has real wings to match his amazing ears.

I need to make myself an event shirt to honor the pups. If you have any ideas, please send them my way!

If you live in the Los Angeles area and want to participate, it’s not too late to register! If you are interested in making a tax deductible donation to our walk, you can do so here. Please don’t feel obligated, though. We all show support for the causes we care about in our own ways.

If you or a friend is mourning the loss of a furry family member, Bella’s mommy recommends the book Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant.

Wag on, guys.

I know I owe you all kinds of recipes for things like pina colada cupcakes and pollo con rajas. I haven’t forgotten. I promise!

Peter Pan Party Aftermath Post 7 (Or the Glazed Lime Cake Crisis)

It’s time to talk about cake. Why? Because I’m the birthday girl and I said so. Actually, it’s because I’ve been milking this birthday cow for far too long and I’m getting ready to wrap it up.

So… I’m going to do two posts about cake today, and pretty soon I’ll be moving on to things that make me legitimately happy. Like Shark Week. And the countdown to college football kick off.

But back to cake for now.

Since I share a birthday with my good friend, I always do a separate birthday cake for her. She loves my glazed lime cake and asks for it every year. So I make it every year.

And the cake makes me mad.

Every year.

Here’s the dilemma: The cake will sink in the middle if you don’t cook it long enough.

Please stop focusing on my armpit fat and concentrate on the cratered cake instead.

The problem with cooking it long enough to prevent it from sinking in the middle is that you end up drying out the cake a bit — particularly around the edges.

What to do?

See how fluffy and perfect-looking this is? I think the cake is dry, but I’m also a bit of a bitch about baked goods….

The problem with the cake could actually be that I have cheap baking pans, and I need something that conducts heat more evenly to get this cake to really turn out properly. I wrap my pans in aluminum foil every time I use them to prevent the edges of my cakes from burning or drying out, but I have more issues with this cake recipe than any other when it comes to uneven baking. I’m not even lying. I’ve made this cake at least 11 times and I swear I alternate between letting it dry out and letting it sink in the middle. Both options just send me right to the moon with rage. I could try the glass pan baking method (that the recipe actually calls for), but I don’t have a glass pan that is the right size. So maybe I’m just being one of those jerks who doesn’t follow the recipe and then says the recipe sucks. You know those people. They say, “I substituted margarine for butter, stevia for sugar, and grape Kool-Aid for grapes,” and then they can’t figure out why the cake now tastes like crap. (I kinda want to punch these people. Why write a review?!? It’s worthless to everyone who reads it.)

So anyway…

One potential fix for the dryness might be to double the amount of lime syrup you pour over the cake. Maybe you just make it moist by saturating it with syrup. Or you get over the fact that it looks ugly when it sinks in the middle because it tastes better that way. I don’t know.

Or maybe I just need to get married and register for some proper bakeware because I’m tired of buying my own bath towels and kitchen supplies. (Kidding.)

But before I run off and marry some Hollywood weirdo who wears fedoras with thrift store pants and Kicks just so I can register for swag at Sur la Table, I should mention I’m not the only one who has had sinking issues with this cake. If you read the reviews on Epicurious others mention the same problem. If you have any suggestions, or have a different experience making it. PLEASE LET ME KNOW.

The batter may actually be the most delicious batter on earth, and I should mention people psychotically love this cake. So, I might be crazy for being so superficial about its appearance.

Now that I’ve totally maligned this innocent cake, you can check out the recipe here. You’ll notice it’s made with powdered sugar and doesn’t have any leavening in it.

If you have questions about what baking pan to use when and why, this link is useful.

And now on to the chocolate cake, which you can check out here.