For the record, I am writing this in a coffee shop. Actually, it’s my favorite coffee shop. Rowsters New American Cafe. I used to live a couple blocks from here, although I wasn’t a big coffee drinker then. (Probably a good thing, since they aren’t cheap. But they the best coffee in town.) Anyway, back to the update. The past two weeks have been crazy, which a pretty even mixture of good, bad, and neutral.
I have a diagnosis that explains the weird blistery rashes I’ve been having for the past 6 months! Lichen Planus. This is actually fabulous news because it means we can treat and manage. Combined with the discovery that was extremely vitamin D deficient, I think we can now explain all the reasons why I’ve been so tired for so long. I had kind of forgotten what it was like to not be tired.
I had a negative reaction to the massive doses of steroids I was on, which meant I missed a work conference I was supposed to attend. Instead of going to Traverse City and talking academic libraries, I sat on the couch with my feet above my heart trying to get the swelling to go down. I’m doing a lot better now, although I’m still not able to walk for more than 10-15 minutes before I start limping. So basically, until the swelling goes down completely I feel like I’m 80.
I still haven’t completely decided what I’m doing for my birthday. My family is coming into town, which is exciting, and I have the week mostly off (except for a couple meetings). I usually bring baked goods to work, but since we’re displaced (and I can’t stand to bake) it’s a little awkward. With the family, we’re going out to dinner a couple times, and I’m hosting them for dinner at least once. I’m pretty excited about my birthday, since you know, birthday! But everything has been so crazy lately that it sort of snuck up on me.
Overall, things are looking up and I’m generally pretty happy. And more importantly, now that I’m feeling human again I can get back to cooking and reading and all the other fun things that I didn’t feel up to for the past few months.
Title: School Spirits
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Genre: Supernatural YA
Did I like it: Yes!
I read this book during my Christmas break (and wrote this post on New Years Day), but didn’t want to publish it until May 14 – when this book is actually released! So happy book release/blog post day!
I flew through this book while we were stuck in our hotel (there was a ton of snow during our Syracuse visit), even stopping a few times to read passages out loud to my husband. This book follows Izzy Brannick, the last in a long line of supernatural bounty hunters. (That’s probably not quite the right term, but it works for me, so I’m sticking with it.) Izzy and her mom temporarily relocate to a small town to work on a ghost case, giving Izzy the chance to go to a normal school for the first time. She makes friends, meets a cute boy, and has to vanquish some evil spirits. I loved the strong female characters, the complicated relationships, and the supernatural elements. (What can I say, I’m a sucker for ghosts and magical creatures.)
A spin off of the author’s popular Hex Hall series (which I’m looking forward to reading!), I hope this is a popular book, because I want to read more about the characters!
Title: Brush With Death
Author: Karen MacInerney
Format: ARC from NetGalley
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Did I like it: Yes!
If you’ve ever talked to me about reading, you know I’m a big cozy mystery fan – they have just the right mix of mild peril, happy endings, and cats/food/crafts to keep me interested but not too tense. (I’m not very good with peril – just ask my husband who regularly has to pause PG animated movies to give me a break. How to Train Your Dragon pretty much killed me.)
Anyway, this was a great cozy mystery. The main character, Natalie, owns an Inn on an island off the coast of Maine, where she lives with her niece and fiance (and her cat). There is a mysterious artist staying on the island temporarily and when a local is murdered the island is full of intrigue. I don’t like to give a lot of the plot away of cozies, since they’re mysteries, but I enjoyed the multiple plots and sub-plots. Is everyone who they say they are? And why is Natalie’s engagement ring turning her finger green… I enjoyed this book enough that I think I’m going to track down the first four books in the series!
I figured that if I was going to come back to blogging, I might as well start out with a bang. And by “bang”, I mean a slightly pretentious hipster pizza! Behold, Sunday night’s dinner:
I used ramps because we got some in our CSA (via Nourish Organic Market in Grand Rapids) and then I found MORE for sale at our local fancy grocery store (Knapp’s Corner D&W for the locals – they also have morels!). And when you’ve got ramps, why not put them on pizza? I used the ultra-fancy buffalo mozzarella because they had some at the previously mentioned local fancy grocery store and because I hadn’t had it before. And anyway, since I’m lactose intolerant and cheese makes me sick, I might as well get sick from REALLY AWESOME cheese. This would be delicious with any regular mozzarella.
Hipster Pizza (Ramps & Buffalo Mozzarella)
based on: Smitten Kitchen’s Ramp Pizza and Jennie Perillo‘s pizza dough from Homemade With Love. (BUY THIS COOKBOOK. I have made 4-5 recipes and all of them have become regulars in our house.)
your favorite pizza dough (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup pizza sauce (I used the leftover Mid’s Marinara that was in our fridge)
1 ball buffalo mozzarella (or 8 oz of any other mozzarella, I prefer fresh)
1 bunch ramps (or if you bought yours where I did – half of the ONE POUND BAG I bought for a ridiculously good price I won’t share just in case it was a mistake)
Wash your ramps and slice off the roots. Make sure not to slice off all the white part – it’s tasty and you want to keep it! Chop the white parts and the stems and put aside. Slice the leaves. (Don’t stress too much about the sizes, it’s pizza!) Heat a small frying pan on medium with some olive oil. Add the white parts and stems. Let them cook a couple minutes, then add the leaves. Just cook them for a minute or two, until they’ve wilted a bit. Remove from the heat.
Stretch your pizza dough into a 16″ circle on a pizza pan. (Or on your peel if you’re using a pizza stone. We have one and normally use it whenever we have pizza, but I was lazy tonight.) Spread it with your preferred amount of marinara (I use less than some people – you may want more than what I used). Add the ramps and spread across the pizza. Top with thinly sliced mozzarella. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes.
Title: A Perfect Proposal
Author: Katie Fforde
Format: e-Galley from NetGalley
Did I like it: Yes
I read this in less than a day, which is pretty impressive for something that was 300+ pages. I also stayed up until 2am finishing it, which is a big deal for someone who normally goes to bed before 10pm. This is a fun story, featuring an independent young woman who lets her (well educated but badly behaved) family boss her around. She has dreams, but keeps putting them on hold for everyone else’s wants and needs. Sophie travels from England to NY to visit a friend and meets a wonderful old lady who becomes a close friend. Cue the handsome/rich grandson who doesn’t trust Sophie’s intentions.
While I really enjoyed this book as I was reading it, I found the ending a little bit of a let down. It seemed to wrap up just a little too quickly and easily, even though I was happy with the ultimate outcome. I wish there had been 15 more pages to flesh out that piece just a bit more.
So I’m doing that thing where I post about food, but don’t actually have pictures of it. Sorry! I’ve kind of been really sick lately and I didn’t even think about taking photos. I just wanted to get it done before I passed out from standing too long. (Don’t worry Mom! I’m mostly exaggerating!)
This week I made the Balkan Lamb and Leek Pie, from Food52. It was a huge success, and Jeff had thirds (and I ate it for lunch the next day – and I don’t even like most leek recipes). I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter, although I decreased the butter a bit, sauteed the leeks in vegetable oil instead of butter, and eyeballed the salt and pepper instead of measuring. Also, I ended up with 2 pies instead of one – I must not have rolled tightly enough.
I’m looking forward to using the recipe as a base to play with – I absolutely love the cheese version we get at the Festival of the Arts every summer, and look forward to it all year. Now I can (maybe) make it at home!
So that title pretty much sums it up. But it might make more sense if I rewind and give you the beginning of the story.
On Saturday I was walking through the living room and stepped in a giant puddle of water. This is concerning because there wasn’t any snow or cat dishes for the water to be spilled from. (And it wasn’t pee – I checked. I got used to finding puddles when Gary was sick, so that was my first thought.) After a few minutes staring at the ceiling, we figured out that the water was coming from the kitchen island. It was just pooling in the living room because our condo used to be a biology lab and it was going towards the old drain. (It’s an open floor plan, so it’s not like the water was meandering through the hallways.) ANYWAY. We figure out it’s coming from the dishwasher after completely emptying the cabinet under the sink.
So now that we know it’s coming from the dishwasher, it’ll be easy to fix, right? Or at least pull out the appliance? NOPE. First, it took a while for us to find the screws attaching the dishwasher to the counter. Then, we tried to pull it out..but it just wouldn’t move. Eventually, Jeff gets down on the floor with a flashlight and figures out that OUR DISHWASHER IS NAILED TO THE FLOOR.
Let’s just take a minute to let that sink in.
When they were installing our dishwasher, the contractors actually nailed it to the floor. Some of you are probably thinking: wait a minute…how can you nail a dishwasher TO THE FLOOR? Well, they attached a U channel to the bottom, and then put a nail through it. Then they built the kitchen island and cabinets around the dishwasher and installed the counter tops.
We eventually had to call my in laws to bring tools so we could cut the nail, since there was no way to reach it with a claw hammer. And now we’re in the market for a new dishwasher!
But seriously. Who nails a dishwasher to the floor?