Basil Pesto Bread

Roo walked into the kitchen. “How long have you been in here?”

I looked up from the cutting board. “I don’t know,” I replied, “I’m kneading.”

“Why aren’t you using the stand mixer?”

I picked up the ball of dough and pressed it down against the cutting board. “Because I needed to clear my head.”

“This is how you clear your head?”

“Some people have moments of clarity in the shower-”

“My best ideas come from there.”

“I knead.”

Roo pulled out a chair from the kitchen table and sat. “Does this have anything to do with dinner at your parents’?”

I reopened the bag of flour sitting on the island and coated my hands.

“It’s 10 at night. And you just decided after an hour’s drive from your parents’ house to start making bread?”

“Nipples,” I muttered.

“Um, what?”

“There were so many nipples.”

“I don’t follow.”

“My mother,” I said, taking a breath, “she asked me edit a Powerpoint presentation for her breastfeeding class. And there were all these photos-”

“Of nipples?”

“Endless images of nipples. How to properly breastfeed – which is fine – but then there was a part about what could go wrong.”

“With your nipples?”

“Horrifying,” I said, leaning my weight onto the dough again.

“So -”

“I think I’m done obsessing about having children….those images set me back a good year or two.”

Roo pushed his chair out from the table and walked out of the kitchen.

“Where are you going?” I called.

“To see your mother,” Roo replied, “I need to give her a high-five.”

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Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Dark Chocolate Icing

There are a lot of things I’m terrible at.

I’m awkward when meeting someone for the first time; saying what immediately pops into my mind. “Oh, you’re from Arizona? Does that mean you grew up with crystals and learning about energy fields?”

Every other driver is ‘Dude’ when I’m behind the wheel (especially when the try to cut me off). “Dude…Dude…Dude! Were you even looking?!”

And general housekeeping is beyond me.  I rarely (if ever) vacuum, I hate doing the dishes, and I can’t fold a fitted sheet.  Seriously, those elasticated corners? Worse than figuring out a rubix cube.

Right now you’re thinking Roo is one lucky guy, right?

But I can make cake.

Really good chocolate cake.

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Yogurt Cake with Lemon and Blueberries

Every morning I walk into the kitchen, turn on NPR, sit at the table and open my laptop. I check my email, Facebook and Twitter.  I scroll through updates/tweets from hours prior, often wondering if other people go through the same ‘ritual’ everyday.

“When you check your Facebook, do you keep scrolling until you see something you remember from the day before?” I asked Roo, as he walked into the kitchen.

He stopped and scratched his chest, his eyes bleary from just waking up. “That’s exactly what I do.”

“I thought I was the only one.”

“It’s the most efficient way to do it.”

“And do you hate yourself for technically wasting all that time?”

Roo laughed, “No, it’s the most efficient way to catch up on the ‘News.'”

I got up from the kitchen table and walked over to the Keurig. “And is that typically it?” I asked, flipping the switch on.

“Well, I check Fantasy Baseball and my email too.”

“And wait for me to make the coffee,” I joked.

“If by ‘making the coffee’ you mean, pushing a button, then yes,” he replied, as he removed the saran wrap from the yogurt cake on the counter.

I pointed at the slice he was about to pop into his mouth. “And make you breakfast cake?” I said.

“I believe this appeared on the counter overnight. It could have been Monkey who made this.”

“Yes, our evil cat has developed a sudden penchant for lemon, blueberries and baking.”

“Correction, our evil genius of a cat.”

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Oven Roasted Tomatoes

I’ve been holding onto some news.

What took me so long to tell you?

Well…I forgot what Roo said when he asked.

I’m a horrible fiancé.

It wasn’t until last night that I mustered the courage to ask Roo what happened.  I wanted to know more than what I had been telling my friends,”he laughed, then I laughed, and I said ‘Yes.” Because, really? Even a friend doesn’t want to hear an engagement story like that.

“I was going to write up that I we got engaged.”

“Oh. You haven’t done that yet?”

“Not yet.  It’s just that,” I paused. ” I kinda forgot what you said.”

Roo smiled, “Did you blackout from overwhelming emotion?”

“Perhaps. I remember you joking, saying that I had to take my sunglasses off so you could see me cry.”

“And you didn’t!”

“I know! Are you disappointed?”

“Not really.”

“I do remember somethings. Sitting on the bench with you, watching the rowers go by on the Charles…wondering aloud if those girls from Wellesley College actually started in Wellesley and paddled down to Boston -”

“Wellesley girls? That’s what you remember?”

“No! There’s more! I remember you getting down on one knee, removing the ring from your wallet – which was so sneaky by the way – and,” I laughed, “I remember saying ‘No’ as a joke.”

“But what I actually said to you -”

“Something about being a better man?”

“Yes. I said you make me a better man, even when you’re away, and I would be honored if you spend the rest of your life with me.”

“Oh. No wonder I blacked out.”

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Massaged Kale Salad with Mango, Avocado, Cranberries and Toasted Cashews

“I think you’re worried that I’m going to fall of the wagon while you’re in Japan.”

I looked up from my salad, mid-chew, mouth too full to reply.  Roo timed this intervention just right.

“You just seem stressed about leaving next week.”  Roo continued.

Swallowing the last bit of kale, “Well, I’m not worried.”

“You’re not.”

“No, you were never really on the wagon full-time anyway.”

“What are you talking about?  I’m eating this delicious kale salad; a sentence I never thought would ever leave my mouth.  I mean, I’m eating kale. And liking it.”

I put down my fork, “Burger King receipt.”

“What?”

“A Burger King receipt. You left it on the center console.”

“Oh that…that was just snack I got on the way to my mother’s house.”

“A Whopper is a snack?”

“Correction, it was a Whopper Jr.

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Mushroom Soup

“Someone fell on me on the train today.”

“So they knocked into you? Doesn’t that happen all the time?”

“No. Someone fell on. to. me.  I was on the ground face up, with them on top of me.”

“What?”

“He was too busy eating a delicious looking lemon poppy seed cake out of one hand and a drinking a coffee out of the other to hold the rail.”

“Well obviously it was because of his delicious looking cake. I mean, lemon poppy seed? Screw. that. rail.”

“Really?”

Roo looks up from his iPad, “Are you ok babe?”

“I cried.”

“Cried and didn’t give a damn what anyone else thought?”

“No, this isn’t an episode of HIMYM on what makes a Real New Yorker. This is real life. ”

“Meaning -”

“The anger cry.”

“I know that cry. It’s kind of…confusing.”

“Yes, a snotty nosed, yelling to getoffofme, anger cry occurred as soon as I realized he was on top of me…And that he was still holding his coffee and cake.”

“Not a drop spilled?”

“Not a single drop.”

“He must have gone to UMass.”

“So not the point Roo. So not the point.”

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Rosemary and Thyme Bread

Sometimes I wonder if the library has a wall mounted with photos of their most notorious card holders.  Members who have been caught repeatedly doing things “against the rules,” like eating, drinking or talking. (Clearly one of the greatest institutions must be worse than prison.)

If there were such a wall, I’m almost positive my photo would be up there for “most fines accrued.”  When I check out a book it’s pretty much guaranteed it’ll be returned overdue.

I don’t know why laziness I can’t get books back to the public library on time, but as of late the circulation desk staff have started asking, “Another one?” when they spot me rounding the corner.  It’s kind of like when the baristas at Starbucks see you coming through the door and start making your drink.

But with shame.

This bread however

is something to be proud of.

This bread would bring back books to the library on time.  This bread wouldn’t be recognized by the staff at the circulation desk because of fees.  This bread is good.  Quite good.

Studded with woodsy herbs, a lovely salted crust that it pulls apart with ease, it just begs to be dipped into a bowl of hearty soup. And when you come back from the library after paying your shame fees, you can find some comfort by tucking into some of that savory warmth.

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Easy, Spicy, Garlicky Green Beans

Ladylike would not be the best way to describe me.

My mother “glistens” when she works out.  Unfortunately I was not lucky enough to inherit this trait.  Instead, I sweat like a plow horse on a sunny July afternoon.  Thanks Dad.

My dancing could only be described as this.  My moves are as smooth as the big guy in the back with the striped tee.  That’s me, inebriated at weddings.  God help me if I’m sober, as what results is an awkward half-Asian hiding in a corner, clapping along to keep up appearances.   Because you know, it’s not like everyone’s paying attention to the bride or anything.

And then there’s the way I eat.  Granted, I do eat with my mouth closed but I do it at such speed that you’d think I was trying to finish my meal under threat of gunfire.

For this, I blame growing up with a brother who seemed to never escape puberty.  There would be times when I’d turn my back away from my plate and a chicken breast would be missing.  Now I understand that growing boys need food, but really?  That much?  And mine?

Thankfully(?) Roo eats the same way I do.  Growing up with three other siblings (two of them being boys) he learned to be protective at an early age.  That, and if you didn’t eat quick enough, you weren’t able to have seconds as there wouldn’t be anything left.

And when I shovel green beans into my mouth, not taking the time to cut their long stalks in half, instead using the inside of my cheek to bend them in half, Roo doesn’t say a thing.  In fact, he keeps an eye on my pace so that he can stay a few mouthfuls ahead of me.

So he can get seconds of course.

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Escarole Salad with Grapefruit and Pistachios

Three years ago I dated a pilot, a doctor doctor, a musician and a researcher.

Maybe at the same time.

Two and a half years ago, I met a bartender.  He told me about his novel.

I didn’t stand a chance.

Two years ago, I suggested that the bartender and I break up, because I realized I loved him.

Alcohol may have been involved.

One and a half years ago I moved in with the bartender, who then became a school teacher.

Almost a year ago, we celebrated our first Valentine’s Day; complete with homemade cards stating how much we hated it.

Half a year ago I revealed to the school teacher my biggest guilty pleasure, the reality (and makeover!) show, The Biggest Loser.

Now he watches it with me every Tuesday.

Don’t tell him I said that.

And this week,

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Chewy Granola Cookies

I am not the easiest person to live with.

For one, I’m becoming my mother at the wee age of 30.  I realized this when I started to wash out the kitchen trash can last weekend.  Really, who does that?  My mom.  Oh, and me.

Also like my mother, I ask, without fail, the second after Roo takes a bite of food how it is.  (FYI “it’s good,” is not a proper response.)

Second, there were a few times where it was pointed out that I have a hard time throwing things away.

“Babe, we have so many empty glass jars.  I feel like we’re one away from being cast on Hoarders.”

“What are you talking about?  I use them, like all the time.”

“For what?  Besides leaving them in a paper bag on the floor.”

“That’s where they live!  I don’t have any cupboard space.”

“Because there’s no room in the cupboard from all your glass jars.”

Lastly, I may or may not have had two meltdowns so far this week.  But in my defense, the first was from burning my hand….by grabbing a pan that had been in the oven.  The second was after realizing there was shattered glass in every single cup we owned….because I dropped a bowl on top of those cups and it um, shattered.

So when Roo asks if there’s a way he can have cookies at ‘snack,’ (which to me is essentially second breakfast), I try to make it happen.  After all, I need to keep someone around to identify my body when it’s found underneath a mountain of fallen glass jars.

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