Saturday, January 24, 2009


This week's saving graces:

1) Finding my favorite (for now) box of chocolates again:

Whitman's Soho Artist Inspired Chocolates.

I discovered them last year around Christmas and then couldn't find them for a long time (and believe me, if there is anything that I believe deserves an effortful search, it is chocolate). Nowhere to be found this past year at Christmas... and now I find them as the big V-day approaches. They are beautiful. They are different. They are only $5. There are only six of them which means there is no guilt or shame in eating THE WHOLE BOX (not saying I did... not saying I didn't, just sayin' there's no shame.)

I may also have caved in my mid-week slump and ate some DQ fries with ranch... and maybe, just maybe, a blizzard. I am so weak.

2) IRS... yes, that's right, the IRS is one of my saving graces this week. I worked out our taxes last night and figured that our return will pretty much cover what we have incurred in credit card debt over the past year (i.e. out-of-state tuition costs and out-of-pocket birth costs). SCORE!!! It is such a relief, I want to go hug an IRS employee.... but I don't know any.

3) If you read my last post, you know I was bummed about blowing a job interview. I am 99.9% certain that I didn't get the job, but if they were to call I could now tell them to go suck it... of course not in those terms... or any terms, really, I still want the job down the line, so I wouldn't show any signs of rejection resentment. But, I would have to tell them, that I have other laboral obligations... yes, that's right, a job.

As I have mentioned before, I am a lowly grad student. I taught as a graduate assistant instructor for most of my graduate studies. There is this silly rule, however, that only allows you 14 semesters, no exceptions, of this kind of assistance... at least the last time I checked. Apparently, after I had already confirmed the 14 semester rule and given notice of my last semester of teaching, they added a few exceptions. I was busy having a baby and caring for a newborn so, I guess I missed all of the notices that were surely sent out to relieve grad students of the impending doom of joblessness... So, anyway, I am eligible to teach for a few more semesters. YAY!!!

As you may suspect, it is not a lucrative position. In fact, it will just barely cover child-care expenses for two lil' tykes. But I will get health benefits again, instead of paying COBRA (which has sucked big time) and I will have time to work more on my dissertation.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Watch Me Blow this Job

I had an interview for my dream job last week… in Chile. (the interview wasn’t in Chile, the job is)

Since my husband is Chilean and I have always been strangely fascinated with the whole Spanish/Latin-American “thing” we have talked about moving back to Chile to live. I have always thought that if I did live in Chile, I would want THIS job. So, after months of jobless (depressing as all hell) job-searching in this hemisphere, when this job was advertised, I figured it was DESTINY (like, what else could it be?) and I applied, ecstatically.

There were a few things that give me pause. The “chosen one” must be in Santiago at the end of January… which if you are calculating, makes for a very fast cross-continent move (which would be hell, really, for a few months)… but for this job, I am willing. It would mean at least a year of grueling work, with a full time job and trying to finish my Ph.D., long distance and get settled in a new country.... but for this job, I am willing. Plus, I do still have some unresolved feelings about living in Chile for the rest of all eternity. I lived there for almost 4 years, so I know exactly what I am getting into, but for this job (and my husband), I am willing (to at least give it a try for at least a few years—that sounds fair, right?)

Not only is it THE job I want; I think I am a really good candidate… I mean a REALLY good candidate! Like phenomenally good!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to transmit that to my interviewers…

It was BAD.

Like SAD BAD….

No worse, like PATHETIC BAD!

First, it was a phone interview (which I hate). Second, they notified me the day before, which left me (count with me folks) exactly ONE evening of preparation (and apparently I did not prepare the right questions or research the right aspects of the company/position). Though it makes perfect sense that the interview would be conducted in Spanish, I was kind of thinking about questions in English, so when it was, indeed, in Spanish, I just felt really clumsy… which sucked, because the Spanish in my head is perfect and eloquent and smart.

So I haven’t heard back… (they may have even burned my “dossier” [as they called it]… ranting that they would never ever consider me for any position ever)

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

I didn’t get it, did I?

That sucks…............................ I think...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Aren't You Jealous?

Our neighbor-friends hosted their 2nd Annual Seafood Boil yesterday. It looked like this:

There was crab, shrimp, crawfish, corn on the cob, baby potatoes, and garlic bread. Then we dipped everything in butter... because, as you well know, everything is better with butter. As an added bonus, we ate with our hands, which is just so satisfying at some primitive level, wouldn't you agree?

I made flan (I make awesome flan) and a chocolate cake for desert.

Everything was so good, I will be salivating until next year.

I even ate a crawfish, aren't you proud. I have eaten them before, but they were bigger, almost like a mini-lobster. These ones are so tiny, it kind of gives me the creeps. Plus the conversations on how to eat them went something like this:

L: Do you just crack open the little rib-cage open and eat them.

J: No, you break them in half and suck out the head and then....

Then... I don't know, they kind of lost me after "suck out the head." Doesn't that make you just the slightest bit queasy? I made my hubby open it for me and I just ate the tail. I'm sorry, I am a wimp.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Have you heard?... The Joy of Sex…

… has been updated.

I saw the breaking news story on The Today Show. I never read the original; it was probably already outdated by the time I was on the prowl (does that sound predatory? I should have said “on the scene.”)

The best part, for me, is that they showed these scrumptious sex scenes on the beach…

Seriously? Have you ever tried this? If you have, then you already know. If you haven’t, then please allow me the pleasure of ruining your fantasy: cold salt water and sand are not friends to intimacy. It is decidedly NOT sexy; it is downright uncomfortable. At least THAT is the word on the street, not saying I know by experience.

Whenever I see a scene like this in a movie, now I just laugh, hysterically, and think to myself: “Watch out for sea urchins… I have heard those can be painful.”

Real life sexual encounters in the great outdoors would make the best (by best, I mean most hilarious) movie scenes, don’t you agree? It never quite goes as romantically as imagined when you are at the mercy of the elements and God’s creepy-crawlies. I wish I were at liberty to swap stories. I may or may not have some very funny ones… including one that may or may not involve a pack of scavenging half-wild pigs.

Sorry, folks! That’s all you’re gettin’.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Way it Used to Be

G used to love me best. I didn’t gloat about it; it was just the way it was. She wanted me to do everything. She wanted to be around me at all times. She loved her Papi, but only in small increments and never when she was scared or hurt.

G and I had our little thing. It went something like this:

Me: “Guess what?”

G: “I love you.”

Me: “Guess how much I love you?”

Both: “This much!” (and we hold our arms out as far as they’ll go and then we give each other a big hug)

I was initially trying to get her to say “What?” and then I would say “I love you” but it worked out this way.

Well, this is how it used to go anyway… until Papi took over the scene. Once baby Nico was born and Mami was busy… A LOT! and couldn’t do all the things she used to do for G.

Now, it is ALL about Papi. Now, I think he is great, I married him after all, but G thinks he is a rock star, that the sun rises and sets in Papi’s presence, that all things joyous and fun emanate from Papi. G wants Papi to do everything for her. She wants to be around Papi at all times. Since I am home all day with her, I am the one who gets to do most of the disciplining, which, as you know, is very enjoyable. Every time she gets a time-out she cries: “I want Papi.” When she wakes up, the first thing she asks is “Where’s Papi?” When Papi gets home from work, G wants NOTHING to do with Mami... Mami is old hat and no fun. She plays and rolls around and laughs with Papi. She wants Papi to brush her teeth; she wants Papi to put her to bed; she wants Papi to make her milk. I am not complaining that I no longer have to do all that work (and it is work, you always have to catch her first), but seriously… Papi papi papi papi papi papi, it kind of starts to get annoying, you know? And I am starting to feel like a leper.

Now, our little conversation looks like this:

Me: “Guess What?”

G: (automatically) “I love you.” (hesitation) “No, I love Papi.”

Me: “You don’t love me?”

G: “No” (pretty emphatically)

Me: “Not even a little?” (you’d think I’d muster up some dignity by this point... hmm, no... dignity is not my style)

G: “Hmm, a little.” (NOT very convincingly)

G: “But I love Papi BIG! "

She even shows me with her hands how little she loves me and how big she loves Papi. “Like this” she says, and holds out her hands.

This is how little G loves Mami:

Here is how BIG G loves Papi:

That doesn’t seem fair does it?

I mean, I don’t want to brush more teeth or wipe more little bums than necessary, but…


Friday, January 9, 2009

Allow me to introduce…

… my Le Creuset Dutch Oven.

I love it so much, I feel like I should name her... something French... any suggestions?

I got it last year for Christmas. I asked for one… sort of.

These were my explicit instructions to dear hubby: I want a cast-iron, ceramic-coated Dutch Oven. Go to a department store and buy the $50 dollar cheap version. Do not buy the French one, it is very expensive.

Naturally, I lost him after “Dutch oven.” He went to Williams and Sonoma, where as you may know, they do not sell the “cheap” version of anything. He marveled at the beautiful colors and picked Mustard Yellow. I considered, quite briefly, returning it. But it is so beautiful and heavy and French and mustardy yellow, that I could not bring myself to do it. Plus, since I like to cook there is something about having a top of the line pot, just like the pros, that makes cooking more fun. I don’t do designer handbags, but $200 pots and I am like a fool. If I had lots of extra money I would buy an All Clad stainless steel cookware set… they’re somewhere near $1000 (maybe I don't need all those pieces though). That’s right, I am a kitchen snob. If All-Clad ever wants to advertise on a blog that no one reads: THIS is the one. (or maybe they just did... for free... dammit)

So, I have since been hunting for recipes to use my precious Dutch Oven… you know so the purchase is justified. This one I found, before even getting the pot, but it’s the one that made having the pot feel like “a must”: “Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic.” That’s right, 40 cloves—about three heads of the bulbous root. The beauty is that you don’t have to peel it. Obviously, liking garlic is imperative for this recipe. And we do! We are veritable garlic freaks.

I think I like this recipe so much because it reminds me of the Garlic Chicken (Pollo al ajo) my husband and I used to eat at this little Spanish restaurant in a lovely little corner of Santiago. So I thought I would include the recipe for you to try out one day. If I ever find a recipe that reminds me of their Sangría, I will share that too. I think I got this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, but I can’t remember now, so my apologies in advance for any copyright infringements. This is the abridged version to make it easier and quicker.

It is also a great recipe for using that vermouth you bought to make martini’s, because they sounded so cool, and then you made one and it was nasty and you decided that martini’s were for wanna-be cosmopolites OR that you had just not made it right or with the right quality of ingredients. I’m not saying that this is why I have vermouth… it just makes sense that it might be true for someone. You can also use white wine, but I recommend the vermouth. If you don’t drink alcohol… lighten up and just go buy it… it is just for cooking. All the alcohol evaporates. It is for flavor and you will not regret it.

Without further ado…here you have the recipe for garlic heaven…

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic
Serve with a baguette, roast potatoes, and asparagus. (or whatever you want--It goes great with rice too)

Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
Olive oil
8-10 pieces of chicken trimmed of excess fat. (the recipe called for a whole chicken cut into 8 pieces… but seriously people, who buys a whole chicken and cuts it into pieces anymore. I just used some drumsticks and thighs)
3 large heads garlic (about 8 ounces), outer papery skins removed, cloves separated and unpeeled
2 medium shallots, peeled and quartered pole to pole
2 sprigs fresh thyme / 1 sprig fresh rosemary / 1 bay leaf
3/4 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine (go for the vermouth)
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss garlic and shallots with 2 teaspoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste in 9-inch pie plate; cover tightly with foil and roast until softened and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes, shaking pan once to toss contents after 15 minutes (foil can be left on during tossing). Uncover, stir, and continue to roast, uncovered, until browned and fully tender, an additional 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven and increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.

Rinse chicken pieces under running water and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides of chicken pieces with pepper. (Original recipe calls for brining for 30 minutes in a salt-water solution. I tried that the first time but just seasoned the chicken the second time and it turns out fine, you don’t have to handle the raw-nasty chicken so much, and it is quicker.)

Using kitchen twine, tie together thyme, rosemary, and bay; set aside. Heat remaining 1-2 T olive oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet (or Dutch Oven) over medium-high heat. Brown chicken pieces skin-side down until deep golden, about 5 minutes; using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown until golden on second side, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to large plate and discard fat; off heat, add vermouth, chicken broth, and herbs, scraping bottom of skillet with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Set skillet over medium heat, add garlic/shallot mixture to pan, then return chicken, skin-side up, to pan, nestling pieces on top of and between garlic cloves.

Place skillet in oven and roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers about 160 degrees (or until juices run clear), 10 to 12 minutes. If desired, increase heat to broil and broil to crisp skin, 3 to 5 minutes. Using potholders or oven mitts, remove skillet from oven and transfer chicken to serving dish. (I served it as is, the garlic is like butter and just slips out of the skin and the sauce is just lovely as is. You can go an extra step and do the following sauce, but it just seemed time-consuming and unnecessary to me)

Remove 10 to 12 garlic cloves to mesh sieve and reserve; using slotted spoon, scatter remaining garlic cloves and shallots around chicken and discard herbs. With rubber spatula push reserved garlic cloves through sieve and into bowl; discard skins. Add garlic paste to skillet. Bring liquid to simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to incorporate garlic; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in butter; pour sauce into sauceboat and serve.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Dabbling in Fashion

I am not a fashionista, so I may be mistaken, but I am going to go out on a limb, anyway, to say that the skinny pant DOES NOT look good on men… of any size, shape, or physique.

I have seen women who can pull it off, Audrey Hepburn (the Gap commercial WAS awesome!) and the like. But seriously, you have to be model skinny, or else others suspect you have a highly inaccurate self-perception, and you have to have a very modern, chic look and money to buy all the accessories, or else you look like you are still wearing your pants from 1989.

I do not have the legs for the skinny pant. First, I am short. Second, my “cankles” are roughly the circumference of my thighs, and I can think of no reason why I would want to accentuate that. I am actually quite dismayed that they even made a comeback… what’s next? Stirrups and bodysuits? I won’t wear them; I am making a stand right now.

Why the sudden skinny-pant-outcry? (I know they came out a few years ago, it takes me a while to build up to a rant... if this is a rant. I am not sure) I’ll tell you… I was sitting at a red light last weekend, minding my own business, not looking for a blog post at all, when some guy rode by on a bicycle… wearing the skinny pant.

I suspect he was going for this look:

But, really, this look only “works” for this guy, as he is strangely hilarious or hilariously strange or… something.

And it definitely doesn't work on a bicycle.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Now Closed to the Public

After being married for a time, and definitely after having kids, you come to realize that a general lack of privacy has now become a way of life.

You do things, almost daily, to a crowd of onlookers that you once would never have dreamed of doing in front of another living being… EVER.

Yet, there are some things that are better left behind closed doors, don’t you agree?

There are some activities I stealthily carry out in total privacy, if not absolute secrecy. These may or may not include: waxing the upper lip, occasional trimming of certain (ahem) stray locks, and anything involving feminine hygiene (usually).

Apparently, I must now add to the list: using the Neti Pot.

Have you seen one of these? It’s a little pot with a spout that you fill with a saline solution and use to clean out nasal passages. I bought one last winter when I was pregnant and suffering from sinus congestion and allergies and didn’t want to load up on drugs. It does clean out your nose better than blowing, but it is kind of a weird apparatus. You lean forward, with your head bowed, put the spout in one nostril and tip your head to one side. The saline solution goes in one nostril and comes out the other. Doesn’t it sound lovely?

My husband walked into the bathroom the other day while I was using it (I have had a cold for a few days). He stopped dead in his tracks and asked with a look of disgust: “WHAT are you doing?”

……as if he were looking at a total freak.

THIS, from the man who eats cow udder and blood sausage and pulls out stray nose hairs with a pair of pliers.

On a somewhat random, but somewhat related note, one of the conversation topics around our New Year’s Day dinner with a neighbor family we love just so happened to be some of the “interesting” (i.e. disgusting) things my husband and other Chileans have been known to eat (No offense, of course, to my husband or other Chileans—and to be fair there aren’t THAT many things). The conversation ended something like this:

He: I have never tried testicles though… “Rocky Mountain Oysters” you call them?

Me: Wait a minute… you have eaten udder at numerous occasions but you have never tried testicles. That is so sexist!

He: That is not sexist! I have just never had the opportunity…

Me: Oh please, your whole country is sexist then. You get served udder at any respectable “parrillada” (BBQ joint) but no one would dream of serving a testicle on a platter?

That IS sexist, right???