Friday, May 29, 2009


We went out to dinner last night to a tapas restaurant with a friend of The Pit’s from grad school. We'll call The Pit's friend mysterious and bolded A for now, because I am seriously lacking in creativity. A was evaluating the location as a possible place to take dates, and based on my experience, I would recommend he bring dates there for the rest of his life. Four words people: half price sangria pitchers.

Apparently my aversion to liquids does not extend to delicious delicious sangria, because I just kept drinking and drinking and drinking. With predictable results, of course. There was a slight amount of stumbling out of the restaurant, some inappropriate conversation on the street, and then I made the boys stop by The Container Store after dinner. What? It was right there, and we needed to sober up a little. Nothing sobers up a man faster than The Container Store.

Then The Pit drove me home and I passed out on the bed while he was brushing his teeth. So okay, maybe A should limit his lady friends to just one pitcher, as watching his date snore might not be the exact evening-ending activity he’s hoping for.

Speaking of A and lady friends, I do believe he might be my next meddling project. Previous recipients of my attentions in this area have disappointingly lacked in the enthusiasm department, and I have had to repeatedly badger them into checking the lovingly crafted profiles I* created. I don’t know why, but I think A will be more likely to humor me in this regard. I suspect this is due to his military experience, as for some reason I associate the armed forces with enthusiasm. I think it’s all the yelling of “Sir!” left and right.

But this profile should really write itself. I mean, what self-respecting DC area lady wouldn’t like a fresh-faced lad with both a graduate degree and the ability to field strip a firearm in under a minute? I’ve even thought of a tag-line already: Winning hearts and minds since 1981.

* Okay, so they were mostly written by Dina. You know, the funnier sister. But I set the whole thing in motion.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Corn, Tomato, & Avocado Salad

Apparently the grocery stores collectively decided that the very best way to honor our war dead this Memorial Day was to have massive sales on corn. It was at least 6 ears for a dollar everywhere I went this weekend.

So I found this Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad recipe online, and decided we had to try it. "What's not to like?" I thought.
  • 4 ears corn, kernels removed (about 3 cups)
  • 1 1/2 pounds grape tomatoes, halved (about 3 cups)
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, diced
  • 2 medium avocados, diced
And then I saw the dressing:
  • 1 1/2 cups packed fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Although I would not go so far as to call cilantro "the most loathsome garnish of our time," I do sympathize with members of this group. And reading the reviews on the original site seemed to confirm my hunch that ONE AND A HALF PACKED CUPS of fresh cilantro might be a wee much.

So per user suggestions, I chopped about two tablespoons of cilantro, added another tablespoon of parsley, and mixed the herbs up with olive oil and some lemon juice. For the record, this resulted in a completely disgusting mixture, which was not improved when The Pit decided to add some mustard and a dash of balsamic vinegar. By the end of our experimentation, the dressing resembled one of those elementarily school lunchtime concoctions.* So much for the wisdom of crowds.

Eventually I decided to go with some salt and freshly ground pepper, a bit of chopped cilantro, and a splashing of lemon juice for the dressing. Also, since I only wanted enough salad for two people plus one lunch, I reduced the portions a bit, and my final combo looked like so:

  • 3 ears corn, kernels removed
  • 16 oz grape tomatoes, halved
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, diced
  • 1 and 1/2 medium avocados, diced
  • juice from 1/4 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste
The verdict(s)? The Pit thought that the finished product had too much avocado and not enough cilantro, while I thought that the cilantro needed to be eliminated entirely and the dressing replaced by a simple vinaigrette or maybe some grocery store Italian. Also, I'm pretty sure that next time, regular mozzarella can be substituted for fresh, with no ill effects and significantly less money spent. With a little experimentation, this salad could be a winner.

I served it with boxed Trader Joe's Creamy Tomato Soup, spiced up by a handful of grape tomatoes, 1/2 chopped avocado, freshly ground pepper, and a bit of parsley. The soup was delicious.

* The Pit looked at me like I had two heads when I mentioned this. Am I the only one that remembers the boys mixing all available liquid (and sometimes solid) lunch substances together in the middle of the lunchroom? Like, a little milk, somebody's juice box, mustard and ketchup, and then maybe a sprinkling of chips. One unfortunate would always get dared to eat the resulting mess.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Rolling Thunder

So we moved this weekend, which required quite a few trips between old and new apartments. In the course of all this back and forth driving, I noticed an unusually large number of motorcycles in the area, many with American or POW/MIA flags attached to the back. The Pit said they were veterans in town for Memorial Day, and we continued arguing with each other about the need to lock an empty apartment.

See, before we completely moved in, I had transported some clothing and dishes into the new apartment, and then left it unlocked. To hear The Pit tell it, I had committed an insanely serious security faux pas. Silly me, I thought that the building was locked, and our neighbors unlikely to help themselves to our winter sweaters. The Pit insisted that some sort of crazy hobos were going to sneak into our nice neighborhood, penetrate our locked building through ninja stealth, and then shit on our living room floor out of spite. You could say we have somewhat divergent views on security issues.

Anyway, back to the veterans. This morning we went down to Home Depot, and the carpool lanes in the middle of the freeway were filled with what looked like thousands of motorcycles. It was a pretty amazing sight, and there were people on all the overpasses watching and waving American flags. There was even a fire truck with all it’s lights blazing, and uniformed firefighters waving to the motorcyclists. Turns out this is an annual tradition around here, and all these vets on motorcycles belong to a group called Rolling Thunder, which holds a rally at the Pentagon every Memorial Day to remember prisoners of war and those missing in action.

Apparently they expect 400,000 vets this year. Which got me thinking…that’s an awful lot of vets with motorcycles. And that train of thought led to an obsessive need to figure out what percentage of veterans ride motorcycles.* According to the ever trusty internet, somewhere between 2.1 and 2.5 million Americans served in Vietnam (although other estimates range as high as 3.1 million).** If we assume that all 400,000 grizzled men are Vietnam veterans,*** then that means that roughly 13% to 19% of Vietnam vets ride motorcycles. Crazy, right? That’s got to be a much bigger percentage than the general population.

I think what all this means is that next year, The Pit and I will have to go to the Pentagon and observe this massive sea of leather and chrome. Someone remind me about this thought before May 31st, 2010.

* My previous workmates will attest to the OCD nature of my internet searches. I once spent a whole working day investigating a mythical albino village in New Jersey. But I ask you, how could such a thing go unexamined?
** In a mind-boggling display of ineptitude, due to faulty record-keeping the Department of Defense actually does not know how many men and women served in Vietnam. Veterans groups estimate that this…err, troubling lack of attention to detail…has resulted in 9 to 12 million people fraudulently claiming to have served in Vietnam.
*** Okay, so that assumption might be rather unwarranted, but roll with me.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Speaking of sinking ships...this morning, while fixing The Pit's lunch*, I saw a gigantic cockroach scuttling across the kitchen counter. A roach people! Black and wiggling and with many legs. I was so horrified I couldn't even go back to sleep when The Pit left for work.

Also, the hot water situation has not been fixed, so I'm writing this from my beautiful roach-free apartment, oh blessed place with plentiful hot water. I can't wait to officially move over here on Saturday.

* It's true, love makes a person do strange things. I get up before 7 AM (!!) every day, make The Pit toast, and then gather together his lunch. On a good day, I fall back asleep after he leaves. Ah, the trials of the jobless. I hope he realizes that this train ride of love is going to come to a crashing halt whenever I procure gainful employment and am forced to get up early myself.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Like a rat

I’ve had nothing to report recently, so today’s post was going to be the recounting of a humiliating experience from my past. However, that will have to wait, as two situations have arisen that require your immediate attention.

Situation 1: The Pit’s house has no hot water. I first noticed this troubling lack of essential heat last night while doing the dishes. As doing dishes dulls the mind, I mentally shrugged and continued on with the evening, until I went to brush my teeth. Cold water hitting delicate enamel promptly jolted me into action though, and I went to report my findings to the proper authorities.

“Baby, there’s something wrong,” I said to The Pit “I think the house has no hot water.” As a male of the species confronted with an unpleasant situation requiring his attention, the first reaction was naturally dismissal. “Travis* gave Calle** a bath earlier, the water just needs some time to warm up again.”

When I pointed out that a) I am not an idiot, and b) there was no hot water an hour earlier when I was doing the dishes, The Pit for the first time looked up from his computer game, and demonstrated the second male reaction to unwelcome news. “Huh” he said.

Giving up, I went upstairs to find Travis, whereupon we went through the whole Calle bath rigmarole yet again. And then we reached the third male strategy of dealing with a displeasing condition. “Let’s see if it fixes itself overnight,” suggested Travis. “If not, I’ll call the landlord tomorrow.”

So there you have it, in classic order, the pattern of male response to disasters, diseases, and disagreeable household tasks:
1) dismissal,
2) begrudging acknowledgment,
3) hope that whatever it is will go away on it’s own,
4) decision to finally call someone about it

Well, it is now tomorrow, and all three boys in the house have taken cold showers. The landlord has been called, and I am implementing my own strategy for dealing with this unpleasantness: I’m packing up my bathroom stuff and fleeing this house like the sinking ship that it is. I will go and try out the shower at our new apartment.

* One of the roommates.
** The roommate’s smelly smelly dog; marginally less smelly after her hot-water sapping bath.

Situation 2: I either have Lyme disease or have been kidnapped by aliens. The evidence you ask? Well, we have two important points to consider: a) I woke up extremely lethargic this morning* and b) there is a large bump on the back of my neck, right at the base of the skull. Clearly this is evidence of either new and advanced bedroom-invading ticks, or old and advanced bedroom-invading aliens.

The location makes it very inconvenient to examine the evidentiary bump by myself, and this is not the sort of thing one can take to the new neighbors. So until The Pit comes home and implements steps 1 to 3 above, we’re going to consider either scenario Lyme or scenario Aliens. Thoughts?

* Fine fine, that could be normal.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Puppy love

We went to a potluck/game night with some of The Pit's friends on Saturday. The hosts owned a small and very excitable beagle, which they were training, quite unsuccessfully, to greet visitors calmly. Sadly I failed to take pictures, but the Internets have come through, and you can think of Winnie as looking a little like this:

Despite her owner's best efforts, and the frequent deploying of the Spray Bottle of DOOM, Winnie was not very good at the whole not-jumping-on-visitors thing. She was just so full of wiggling wiggling love, and clearly felt the need to share her affections with anyone in the vicinity.

Since I'm a sucker for small wiggling animals and their large begging eyes,* toward the end of the evening, when we were all engaged in a rousing game of Apples to Apples, I picked up Winnie and stuck her on my lap. Judging by the reaction, this may have been the VERY BEST THING that had ever happened to her. She went into paroxysms of joy, manifested by repeated attempts to lick my face in gratitude. Seriously, not since my 5th grade boyfriend have I had to struggle so hard to avoid a mouthful of someone else's tongue.**

After a couple minutes of this unauthorized canine excitement, The Pit stepped in. He transferred Winnie to his own lap, and then worked some sort of crazy dog voodoo. It must have been magic, because I swear to God, she calmed down instantly, stopped all attempts at French kissing, and sat there quietly, gazing at him adoringly for the rest of the night.

Her owners stared at The Pit incredulously, as this display of good behavior was apparently unprecedented. By way of explanation, my loving boyfriend paraphrased Machiavelli: "It is good to be both feared and loved."

I might have a few quibbles with the philosophy, but damn, if he can similarly mesmerize crying babies, I will never argue with the results.

Another fake but accurate Internet representation:

* The Pit says that this makes me totally unsuitable as a dog owner.
** He was in the 6th grade, and had apparently recently learned of this new thing called French kissing. The first time he tried it, I was absolutely revolted and ran to the bathroom to wash out my mouth. Being a total wimp, I never explained to him how disgusting I thought this technique was, but from then on, I proceeded to duck whenever he leaned in to kiss me. Predictably, this relationship did not last very long.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I gots nothing

I know this is two posts in one morning, and I wouldn't want my immense audience* to get spoiled, but I had to point out that Dina picked up the posting gauntlet I threw down, and then after a suitable period of lethargy**, answered with this gem. Yet more evidence that quality is indeed better than quantity.

* Hi mom!
** Let it never be said that our family does not know how to nap. Possibly in a snuggie.

Blender: 1, Peachy: 0 (Asparagus Pesto Pasta)

I'm excited to report that I finally found a way to enjoy asparagus. Those green sticks have always looked so appealing at the supermarket, but despite numerous attempts to cook them, I've never actually found them to be at all delicious.

However! I decided to give them one more try when I saw this Asparagus Pesto from my favorite recipe blog. The thing is, I've never actually liked pesto sauce either, but I think that probably has to do with the copious amounts of basil everyone always uses.* And this pesto recipe has no basil at all, just asparagus, spinach, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and pine nuts (plus olive oil and lemon juice, but keep reading and you will see where these tricksy liquids conspired against me).

As I am cheap, and pine nuts plus fresh pasta are super expensive, I used walnuts and an entire 1 lb box of fusilli pasta instead. This approach resulted in a satisfying amount of leftovers, something any lunch-loving person desires in a dinner. And if I wasn't a moron when it came to blenders, this recipe would also have been very quick to make.

As you can see if you actually followed the link above, the original recipe calls for a food processor, but I only had a blender on hand, and figured they were more or less the same thing anyway. Technically, I actually had two blenders on hand: The Pit's smaller Magic Bullet and his roommate's big normal blender.

Having to make everything as complicated as possible, I decided to try the Magic Bullet first. However, instead of putting in all the ingredients at once, I dumped in the cooked asparagus, turned the Magic Bullet on, and watched as the blades twirled uselessly. Deciding that there was something wrong with the device, and not my technique per se, I assembled the big blender, and transferred the now very slightly mushy asparagus to it. Surprise surprise, same exact result. Blades twirl, chunks of asparagus lay right out of reach.

So I scratched my head, and decided maybe the settings were wrong. For the next 10 or 15 minutes, I pushed every combination of buttons on that damn blender, all the while trying to stir the asparagus with a long wooden spoon and swearing copiously. Result: ever so slightly more mushy asparagus, dirty spoon, and little green chunks all over the counter. ** The swearing had no appreciable effects.

It was only then that I sat back and reconsidered my approach. "Blender" I thought. "It should blend--oh." Yes, sadly it was only at this juncture that it occurred to me to use a liquid to assist in the whole blending process. ***

However, once this obstacle of modern engineering was overcome, it only took about 15 more minutes to cook the pasta, finish the pesto, and make a quick chickpea salad.

The result: fairly delicious, although maybe I shouldn't have scrimped on the pine nuts...I think they might have made this go from fairly delicious to super awesome. I'll definitely make this recipe again.

Edit: For those that missed it at the top (ahem Dina), recipe for Asparagus Pesto Pasta is here. Clicky clicky.

* I know I know, I'm very picky.
** If you're keeping track, that now makes 1 unnecessarily dirtied blender, 1 unnecessarily dirtied wooden spoon, and 1 unnecessarily dirtied counter. Someone of the more prissy persuasion could argue that there was also an unnecessarily dirtied mouth involved, but after an afternoon of driving in Virginia, swearing at the blender increased the curse-word per day ratio only slightly.
*** Ph.D!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Southern efficiency strikes back

In my quest to furnish our new apartment, I've been doing a lot of driving in the Northern Virginia area recently. I know I've been spoiled by Irvine roads, but I find myself somewhat ...troubled... by the state of vehicular operations in my new hometown. Or more accurately, by the state of the vehicular operators.

Now I’m sure there will come a day that I settle into the genteel Southern lifestyle, a day when I will be unbothered by the youngish man, seemingly with all his faculties intact, driving along a perfectly straight road at a mere 20 miles per hour, but that day is not today.

It’s like 99% of Virginia drivers are engaged in some sort of conspiracy…a conspiracy whose only goal is to make me look like a lunatic on the roads. A lunatic with California plates, of course. I’m sure that I’m fulfilling some sort of deep, culturally satisfying stereotype.

I find myself weaving between lanes here, constantly passing streams of slowpokes. I am at once frustrated and terrified, because as if it’s not enough that these people are driving at speeds well below the already shockingly low limits, but they also have a tendency to drift disturbingly over the lane dividers from time to time.

And I always glance at them as I pass, expecting to see say, an elderly Chinese grandmother, or some dipshit on a cell phone, or maybe one of those gentlemen wearing what can only be described as old person sunglasses. And unfailing, I’m shocked to find a perfectly normal looking person with both hands on the wheel, clearly not senile, but inexplicably happy to be driving behind a bus for the handicapped.

As I review the evidence, one potential explanation occurs to me...but, they can't all be drunk, can they?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Welcome Peachy, we like your face.

In a bid to keep me socially engaged, my fuzzy little man peach took me to DC Saturday night to eat falafel with a friend of his. Unfortunately, falafel is in Adams Morgan,* quite the walk from the Metro, and what with it being both horribly hot and humid out, by the time we arrived I was ready kill someone. Mostly The Pit, who insisted on keeping up a conversation as we walked, instead of letting me suffer in silence.

However, falafel was quite revitalizing, and afterward we decided to retire to the bar next door and wait for the humidity to die down to a more tolerable level. Thus I ended up at The Black Squirrel, a bar that I will remember fondly, as it was both air-conditioned and relatively quiet when we came in.

So there I was, drinking my cider as The Pit heroically attempted to finish his liter of beer. I’d been idly watching this guy texting at the table next to us, when he looked up and caught my eye. To my horror, he stopped texting and started walking over to our table.

However, I shouldn’t have worried, I was not about to be awkwardly hit on while sitting directly next to my boyfriend. Instead, texting guy tapped me on the shoulder, and then proceeded to very gaily tell me that I just had the nicest face.

I turned bright red, presumably looking more like a nice tomato, but the adorable man kept going and going, complimenting my incredibly nice face. It was really the best welcome to DC that a girl could have asked for. So thank you, anonymous gay gentleman, you not only made my day, but proved JFK a liar to boot.**

* I know I know, look at me sounding so native. Yay for two weeks. Well…two weeks and the internets.
** Continuity people! Links to previous posts! Err, fine, post.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In the beginning

So, let's pretend that you're a late twenty-something who's just finished grad school and moved from sunny California to sometimes-sunny-but-currently-mostly-rainy DC. Moved for love, not because of an abiding interest in Northern charm and Southern efficiency.*

The next logical move might be to find a job, or perhaps buy furniture for your naked apartment. There's also the matter of two as-yet-unfinished papers for publication that you promised to your former boss before leaving the OC. Some go-getters might even be thinking about pursuing all these task at once.

"Ha!" I say. Ha. Clearly, now is the time to start a blog.

* I've been doing my homework: "Washington is a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm." -- John F. Kennedy