Saturday, April 28, 2007

Dim the lights...

Last weekend I went to St. George with my friends Christy and Jenn and several nice strangers. Most of us went to Zions where I took a lot of pictures. I thought it would be fun to learn how to make and share a slide show. So here it is!

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Through the years I’ve developed loyalties to certain products. I used to not care. I would buy whatever was on sale, despite the brand. Growing up, we were never a “brand” family. My mom bought whatever. I didn’t care what kind of Raisin Bran I was eating (I’d rather be eating Cocoa Krispies, but that wasn’t an option). Although “light” or “nonfat” were not in our vocabulary. When I was old enough to grocery shop, I would get a talking to if I bought light sour cream or mayonnaise.

I’m getting off the point. My point is there are certain products/brands I am willing to spend the extra money for. Whether it’s for quality or nostalgic reasons.

I suppose a nostalgic loyalty is Arm and Hammer toothpaste. It’s not the cheapest brand out there, but I’ve been loyal to Arm and Hammer for at least five years. It all started many, many years ago when I was at my Grandma and Grandpa’s time-share at Snowbird. My uncle Tony and aunt Kathy were spending the night and so they had all their stuff there. They let me use their toothpaste and it was Arm and Hammer. I loved the taste and the fresh feeling it left in my mouth. I don’t know at what point after that I started buying it for myself, but I’ve used the same toothpaste for as long as I can remember. I’ll mix up the variety a little bit, enamel care, extra whitening, but no more gel for me. I’m paste all the way. Of course, I use whatever free trial sizes my dentist gives me when I travel. I think traveling lends exception to a lot of things though.

Speaking of Arm and Hammer, I have recently subscribed to their laundry detergent as well. I’m not married to it or anything, but I’m happy with it.

Another thing is my macaroni and cheese. This is partly nostalgic, partly quality. I’m not willing to settle for Western Family or Kroger. It’s gotta be Kraft. And I don’t know how you feel about your pasta shapes, but the spirals are my personal favorite. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because they cook faster or maybe it has to do with the texture. And I don’t like Velveeta shells and cheese either. Is Velveeta part of the Kraft family? Anyway, I don’t like it. I like my regular mac and cheese.

I want to say that I’m an exclusive Tillamook cheese girl, but I’m not. Cracker Barrel cheese is good too (a step above Tillamook in my opinion) but if the price is right, I’ll buy Cache Valley or Kraft. But I stopped buying mild cheddar cheese years ago. I’m all about medium or sharp.

My latest loyalty is to organic milk. I think my friend Clint converted me. It just tastes better. And for some reason, it lasts longer – which, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but I don’t question it. I don’t have a favorite brand, just as long as it’s organic. It costs twice as much, but somehow that doesn’t bother me.

Anyone have any loyalties you want to recommend?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Pass the Port

Last week I took a cooking class at Sur la Table. I've only taken one class there before and it was with my friend Marni several years ago. I remember we learned how to dip chocolates. Haven't dipped a chocolate since.

The cooking class I took last week was from their Everyday Gourmet series called "From the Pantry to the Table." I loved every minute of it. What's awesome about these classes is that they're hands on and then you get to eat all the food you made. Thanks again to my friends who gave me the class for my birthday. I learned a lot, I got to eat a gourmet meal (more like two meals) and I got to take home some really great recipes. Here is the menu from the class:

Sauteed medallions of pork in a mustard port sauce
Herbed smashed potatoes
Porcini mushroom and red wine risotto
Pan-roasted salmon with a warm lentil and bacon salad
Sambal Shrimp with mangoes and couscous

And then our teacher thought we didn't have enough vegetables in our meal so she threw together a salad for us too. I was happy that my friend Dre wanted to come along. We accidentally sliced the onions and mushrooms instead of chopping them for the risotto, but it all cooked down to a mushy mixture anyway, so it was no matter.

I learned a lot. I learned how to slice properly (if I had a proper knife at home I could continue practicing that skill). I learned when adding broth to risotto, it should be hot broth, not poured straight from a can. I learned when cooking salmon you always start with skin down (don't remember why though). I learned what quinoa is. I learned something else, but I don't remember what it was.

It was two and a half hours of pure heaven for me. I love to cook. I love to make shopping lists. I look forward to going to the grocery store when I can saunter up and down the aisles with my cart at my leisure. I love getting the weekly ads from Smith's and Albertson's in the mail so I can see what's on sale and plan my meals accordingly. I love fresh produce and I love trying new recipes. So being around fresh and new ingredients not to mention professional cookware and cutlery was a dream come true.

I want to go back. I did buy some porcini mushrooms so I could make the risotto tomorrow night. Believe it or not I already have arborio rice and fresh parmesan. But it looks like I forgot the fresh sage and parsley.

Cooking is expensive.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Trick questions

I haven’t applied for a job in a long time, probably because I’ve had this job for six years. The last job I applied for was at a temp agency in Portland, Oregon. And it was pretty straightforward. I don’t mind interviewing for jobs, but sometimes filling out the applications seems so meaningless.

Because Glen is retiring from the Utah Arts Council after 30 years, a couple of us are up for promotions, and with that comes filling out applications and job re-classifications.

Human Resources, who apparently has no idea what we do here, writes the application questions. Some of these don’t make any sense in respect to the position. For example, Fletcher is applying for the Traveling Exhibition Program. Basically he will load up the art truck, drive it all over the state, unload it and install exhibits at schools, retirement centers and other community buildings. Nowhere in his application does it ask if he can drive a large vehicle. Under “level of physicality” it says “sedentary”. I guess he's sedentary when he's in the driver's seat. I also found it odd how where it lists job responsibilities for the Traveling Exhibition Program, under “travel” it says, “none”.

But so far this is my favorite question:

“How do you ensure that what you write will be concise, and yet be interpreted as intended? Please explain.”

First of all, how are you supposed to answer something like that?

Second of all, I had to laugh at the irony as I stumbled my way through the wording there.

If I put,

“How do you ensure what YOU write is concise, yet interpreted as intended?”

maybe that will answer their question. This has got to be a trick where they’re just trying to see if you can write clearly.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I must be hungry

I have a couple new favorite things. Have you ever ordered something at a restaurant and it was so good you couldn’t stop thinking about it for days?

About a month ago I met a friend for lunch at Caffe Molise – one of the few restaurants where I order the same thing every time I go. I always order the gnocchi. It’s in a creamy tomato garlic sauce that is SO GOOD. But that day they had a special: spinach pesto gnocchi. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything so good. It was perfect. I can taste it right now. Traditionally, I eat half my gnocchi and save the rest for later, but I couldn’t stop eating it and it got better with every bite. When something tastes this good I like to tell whomever I’m with “you have to try this.” But this time I think I was selfish and waited to be asked. I allowed him a bite willingly, after all, he was paying for my meal. I wanted more the next day and the next. But it was a special. I need to call and see if the chef has a schedule where he makes that on Mondays or something. I want it right now.

What I need to do is learn how to make good pesto. Last summer my friend Dre invited a bunch of us to a dinner she won for a service auction. I don’t remember who the guy was that made the pesto but it was awesome. I need that recipe. I bet if I puréed some spinach in there I could come pretty close to a clone of what I’ve been craving.

Café Trio has been my favorite restaurant for a while. They make a great club sandwich (panini style). Their chocolate torte is to die for but what surprised me was how much I loved their chocolate pudding. My sister told me to order it and I thought, “Chocolate pudding? What kind of dessert is that?” It’s the best kind at Trio, if you ask me. It’s dark chocolate pudding with…ok, I’m getting off track. I didn’t mean to even talk about Trio. What I meant to say is that I have a new favorite place: Sette Bello on 260 South 200 West.

I ate there last Tuesday for lunch. They make what they call “verace pizza napoletana.” I prefer Neapolitan style pizza. There are all these rules that must be followed. The pizza is cooked in a brick oven at 800 – 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. So the pizza only takes about a minute to cook. You can read all about it on their website. It’s the same oven the famous Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn uses, but this pizza is just as good if not better. I might have to say better. I told my parents to go there and when I asked my mom about it later she nearly cried before she could say, “That was the BEST pizza I’ve ever had.” My dad went on and on about his Margherita pizza with pine nuts and mushrooms.

So if you haven’t already, get yourselves to Sette Bello before the prices go up or they start skimping on ingredients. And bring me.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Blue sweats and sunburns

Yup, you guessed it. That's me. And the boy standing next to me that has my same face, that's my older brother Carter.

I went home for Easter and found some old things of mine. My parents had what used to be my room recarpeted so there are piles of my old photo albums, scrapbooks, and school projects stacked on the furniture.

I was looking for a different picture when I came across this one. My friend Ilene posted something on her blog a couple weeks ago about the bad outfits she used to wear, and she had a picture of her in her overalls. Ilene, I couldn't find the one we talked about with my overalls and the apples. You might have to send it to me.

I've been trying to figure out how old I am here. I can't be older than 10 or 11. This picture made me laugh though because I know my Grandma took it. My family and my mom's parents went to Pacific Grove in California for a week and we stayed in a cottage just across the street from the ocean. And I guess we bought a crab and this was before Grandma cooked it for dinner. I can just hear her telling us to go stand in the kitchen so she could take our picture. "Laura...Doll, hold on to the crab."

Anyway, check out my aqua blue sweats! And look how cute those sheep and tulips and hearts are, huh? I bet my mom painted it.

As I was flipping through photos I also came across some old poetry books of mine, and since it's still National Poetry Month, I thought I would post a poem of my own. I wrote this when I was thirteen for Mrs. Christensen's English class. I bet I wrote it after my dad made me clean out the fridge. I remember having him help me with some of my adjectives, the word "putrid" in particular.

"Twelve Spoiled Surprises"

After vacation in my fridge I saw:

Twelve shriveled carrots,
Eleven moldy yams,
Ten smelly cold cuts,
Nine gushy apples,
Eight brown bananas,
Seven dried up biscuits
Six stinking salmon,
Four putrid peas
Three bad beans,
Two unpleasant plums,
And a dripping can of Diet Coke.

I loved writing poetry when I was little. I liked to rhyme. I wrote a lot of poems for extra credit. It's funny because back in February I mentioned how I'm not really a student of poetry, and I don't claim to be now, but it seems I've been talking about it a lot lately.

I hope you all had a good Easter weekend. I had a good time. I went sailing at the Great Salt Lake on Saturday. Well, there wasn't a whole lot of wind, so it was more like drifting. It was kind of a spontaneous activity, and had I known when I left the house I'd end up on a boat, out in the sun for a few hours, I would have brought sunblock. Fortunately, for my face, I wear SPF 30 every day. But my poor arms don't get that kind of pampering, so yesterday they looked like this. This picture isn't the best for color contrast, but I thought I should record my first sunburn of the year.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

everything which is yes

Not only is it the first of April, which means time for another poem, it is also national poetry month, which makes posting a poem even more fitting.

This one is by E. E. Cummings.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of allnothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

I went on a little nature walk today so I could play with my new camera outside. This poem came to mind. I love the imagery; especially how he describes trees. I love trees and their leaping greenly spirits.

So I did a little research on E. E. Cummings. I remember learning about him in school and how he was a rebel as far as punctuation and capitalization is concerned. And I would always see his name "e. e. cummings" (with lowercase initials). A tradition of writing his name with lowercase initials developed. But I learned that he actually capitalized his name (as seen in his autograph at the top of this post), and preferred it to be capitalized. Funny how things like that happen.