Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I recently came to the realization that I am a work hoarder, a desk collector of memories trapped in a fortress of trash. Piling my keyboard on top of my phone on top of my notebook on top of a bunch of no-longer-needed papers is more or less akin to piling a cat on top of a cat on top of a cat on top of a cat.

There is one Italy memory in particular I want to write about, mostly because Matt has taken care of the rest of our stories/experiences in his brilliant Facebook photo album captions. But I’ll save that for next time.

Because it’s almost Thanksgiving.

This year, since work obligations are keeping us in Omaha, we’re hosting Thanksgiving at our place, and my mom, sister and brothers are driving up from St. Louis to join us. I’ve spent the past few days collecting a hodgepodge of ingredients – the side table in our dining room is littered with onions, boxes of orange jell-o, Tupperware containers of cubed, dried bread, and a pecan pie. Thank God my mom will be here or else I’d probably just combine all of those ingredients into one casserole, burn it, and feed everyone cold hotdogs instead.


In the process of trying to console ourselves over our less-than-desirable Thanksgiving arrangement (we’ve both come to associate Thanksgiving with going home, not staying home), we decided to invest in what had long been a holiday joke – a funny idea that never comes to pass. We bought a Turducken. Or so we thought.

Imagine my amazement when, after seeing mail-order Turduckens advertised for anywhere from $50 to $100, the Hy-Vee meat department told me they could order me one for $20. And it would be boneless – a pile of animals, each wearing the skin suit of the other. And therefore, it would be easy to cook and serve and sure, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be traditional, but it would definitely be magical.

Cut to Sunday evening, when I burst through the doors of Hy-Vee, wheeling a cart toward the meat counter, praying that it would be sturdy enough to accommodate such a large entrĂ©e. A duck is heavy on its own, but put it inside a chicken, and then stuff it inside a turkey, and then freeze it, and we’re talking pounds and pounds of pure feast. I walked up the counter and whispered, “I’m here to pick up a Turducken,” a knowing grin spreading across my face. I was about to be a spectacle of the best kind.

The butcher shuffled back behind swinging doors and emerged with a small package, about the size of a shoebox. “This must be the box of beaks that comes on the side,” I thought. Not so – this was the Turducken, or rather the Turducken roast. The picture on the front looked like a Swiss Cake Roll made of fowl. I tried to be grateful as I tossed it into my empty cart. I tried to sell it to Matt when we got home. “Doesn’t it look delicious?? And remember, my mom is bringing a backup turkey.” The mutual disappointment was palpable.

Tortilla chip added for scale (also, I'm eating tortilla chips).

But it’s almost Thanksgiving.

And so we will learn from our Turducken mistakes and eat the Swiss Cake Roll with a side of whatever my mom decides to cook using the ingredients I’ve purchased. I’m just looking forward to seeing my family, and to the times when Matt isn’t at work. Staying in Omaha for Thanksgiving may not seem natural, but neither does a duck inside a chicken inside a turkey. That doesn’t mean it can’t be good.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Every time you spell it this way, a dolphin gets run over by a jet ski."

Now that I've been a copywriter for five years (Five years? Cue exaggerated pull on imaginary tie), I've learned that said profession can make your mind bigger and your world smaller. Bigger mind = full of facts and figures and detailed knowledge of artisan cheese, intellectual property law and everything in between. Smaller world = life revolves around a stark white Word document, a blinking cursor and a twisted love of stringing sentences together, deleting, rearranging, poeticizing, simplifying, and researching the ambiguous, complex and obscure.

Perhaps the most important residents of this really small world are the words themselves. And while I can't claim to handle them perfectly -- I've found more than a few glaring typos in this here blog (I blame sunlight, eagerness and/or wine, depending on the circumstances) -- I've become really possessive of each and every resident, however pompous or trashy they may be. When words are used and spelled correctly, they're like the mailman that hums show tunes and pets your cat. But, when misused or misspelled, they're like the neighbor that listens to Hoobastank in his garage and pees on the side of your house. The lesson? I guess it's to be kind to your words or else they'll park their Camaro on your lawn. And you will be embarrased.

I stole this post from The Oatmeal from a friend on Facebook. Words to live by, or to not live by, as the case may be.

(Image from The Oatmeal)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Food for Thought

I am not a foodie. By any stretch of the ketchup-drenched imagination. But that doesn’t keep me from appreciating other people who know how to properly appreciate food. Sort of like my tertiary interest in home design is not reflected in my own hand-me-down house. Sure, I hope to be a better cook someday, and I hope to one day create a home that doesn’t look like a small town’s basement-run preschool, but until then, I will appreciate the good taste of others. And when it comes to food, my current favorite food writer is Francis Lam.

Maybe it’s because Francis is slightly self-deprecating and completely willing to delve into territory to which I can relate (Halloween candy, that big hamburger/pizza hybrid at Burger King, White Castle chicken rings). But I think it’s mostly because he’s a phenomenal writer who also knows a shit load about food and can actually cook. As a one-trick pony whose trick isn’t even that good, I’m in awe of anyone who can be really awesome at two completely different things.

Lam’s topics vary from how-to’s (How to use that stale bread sitting on your counter or how to make your own bagels) and did-you-knows, to poignant profiles of Gulf Coast fisherman and glimpses into a world of gourmet consumption I know very little about. Plus, there’s just enough Adam Richmond-style food porn to satiate my need for detailed descriptions of fried cheese.

His latest piece about the executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission’s decision to eat nothing but potatoes for 60 days and blog about it had me snorting at my desk. Lam’s commentary on this guy’s slow descent into starchy madness is (Yukon) gold.

So, if you’re ever bored, or hungry, or in need of knowing something new, unnecessary and fascinating about mechanically separated chicken, I recommend checking out his column. It’s a treat.


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