Stuff and Nonsense: February 2013


Boyfriends With Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez

Ay me! for aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth;

Allie has been dating Chip for two years, but lately it feels like their relationship isn't going anywhere. Does Chip love her more than she loves him? Is Allie settling for Chip? Is there something more somewhere else? Her best friend, Lance, takes her along as backup when meeting a boy, Sergio, he likes. Turns out Sergio has also brought along backup in the form of his best friend, Kimiko. Lance and Sergio hit it off. Allie and Kimiko hit it off, too. Kimiko crushes on Allie, but thinks she's out of her league. Allie feels all aflutter around Kimiko, but she has a boyfriend ... doesn't she? What about Chip? Sergio likes Lance, but doesn't want to get his heart broken again. And Lance is a virgin! Dude! Lance certainly likes Sergio, but Sergio is bi ... no-one is really bi. FML, Lance! Can Lance get over himself?

Ah, Lance. I spent so much time wanting to shake him and tell him to stop trying to screw up a good thing by fixating on ridiculous labels. He wants Sergio to be Gay. He wants Sergio to be his Committed Boyfriend. Calm down, Lance, and enjoy the flippin' moment. (Which is exactly what Allie tells him and yay for that).

Really, I loved Boyfriends With Girlfriends. It's sweet, fun romp full of teachable moments that manage not to feel hackneyed or trite even though they feel excruciatingly Real World. It probably helps that all the principal characters (yes, even Lance) are sweetly charming. It's impossible not to want them all to be happy in love, friendship, and family.

The only thing I wish the novel had done better was to have given me a little more of Chip's story. It was hard to empathize with Allie over her difficulty breaking up with Chip, because he seemed pretty much like a nonentity. On the other hand, there are already a million novels out there told from the straight male POV, so I can see why Sanchez might give Chip short shrift. (Also, I might have had a hard time caring about Chip, because I was all ♪ Allie and Kimiko sitting in a tree, K-I-SS-ING ♪)

Boyfriends With Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez (Simon & Schuster, 2011)


Fishy Rice Salad

I saw a sardine rice salad posted on flickr a while ago and the idea of it has been lurking in the back of my mind ever since, waiting for an "I'm starving, but there's nothing I want to eat" moment. Which was yesterday.

Fishy Rice Salad

The original version used canned sardines in olive oil, warm jasmine thai rice, lettuce, mayonnaise, onions, and lemon juice, but I adapted it for my kitchen. I imagine most tinned fish would work well -- particularly a really good olive-oil packed tuna -- but I went with mackerel, because it's my fishy new BFF.
Mackerel & Rice Salad
Makes 1 large serving

1 romaine lettuce heart, chopped fine
1 can oil-packed mackerel fillets, drained and flaked, oil reserved
1 cup cooked brown rice, hot
Lemon juice, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

Toss lettuce, mackerel, and rice together in a large bowl (the heat from the rice will wilt the lettuce a little bit). Add reserved oil, lemon juice, and black pepper, until salad is dressed to your taste. Nom away.
(If you're using fished packed in water, definitely add a tablespoon of olive or flaxseed oil to the dish).


Fast & Crispy Sunday Chicken

Roasted a beautiful chicken for Sunday dinner using a bastardized version of Barbara Kafka's "Simplest Roast Chicken" recipe from Roasting: A Simple Art (HarperCollins, 1995). Kafka's phenomenal Vegetable Love is one of my favorite cookbooks and Roasting looks to be just as good. She believes in "hot ovens, short roasting times, and rare meat" and that's right up my alley!

Sunday Chicken

Fast & Crispy Roast Chicken
Serves 2 with leftovers

4-pound chicken at room temperature
1 lemon, quartered
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Sea salt, as desired
Freshly ground black pepper, as desired
Bell's salt-free poultry seasoning, as desired
1 large red onion, thickly sliced

Place rack on second level from bottom of oven. Heat oven to 500°F.

Line a roasting dish (slightly larger than the chicken) with thick slices of red onion.

Remove the fat from the chicken's tail and trim off any large loose flaps of skin or wads of fat.

Stuff the cavity of the chicken with as much of the lemon as will fit and half the butter. Slice the remaining butter into pats and gently slide between the chicken breast meat and skin. Squeeze remaining lemon over chicken. Generously season with salt, pepper, and Bell's.

Sunday Chicken

Place the chicken breast side up in the roasting dish. Roast 50 to 60 minutes, or until the chicken breast reaches 180°F and the thigh 190°F, basting halfway through.

When chicken is done, remove from oven and let sit fifteen minutes. Carve and eat with the red onions.
The meat of the chicken was tender, juicy, and flavorful while the skin was extremely crispy. Exactly how I want a roast chicken to be! Served with green beans and rice, it made for a deliciously easy Sunday dinner.

Fast & Crispy Sunday Chicken

After dinner, I picked the carcass clean and made a big bowl of chicken salad for supper and a few work day lunches.

Then what remained of carcass went in my French oven and became broth for soup ... So many meals from one four-pound chicken! Why don't I roast a chicken every Sunday? It's not as if it is difficult.

Making Chicken Broth


Time for Serious Prose: Bleak House

I feel as if I've read nothing but graphic novels and young adult fiction for the last month and my head's a bit cobweb-y. Feel the urge to sit down with some previously dreaded Literary chunkster and suck down some Serious Prose. In short, it is time to read more Dickens.

Bleak House would fill the role quite nicely, but I've avoided reading it because I worry that, just as the suit of Jarndyce vs Jarndyce dragged on in the halls of Chancery, so will the novel drag on. Also, I seriously ❤ the BBC production with Gillian Anderson as Lady Deadlock and suspect I will incessantly (and unfairly) judge the novel against the film.

However, if the novel is anything like the film, I know it will be a brilliant mess of romance, melodrama, detection. And there are all those fun character names -- Lady Dedlock, Mr. Guppy, Miss Flite, etc. And Krook (another apt name) goes up in flames! Yes. Spontaneous. Human. Combustion.

BUT! 989 pages! So. Many. Words. Maybe I should try to read Bleak House in its original twenty monthly installments? 32(ish) pages a week for twenty weeks? Definitely doable.

Anyone want to read along with me? I'll post about the first installment on March 3.
  1. 1–4
  2. 5–7
  3. 8–10
  4. 11–13
  5. 14–16
  6. 17–19
  7. 20–22
  8. 23–25
  9. 26–29
  10. 30–32
  11. 33–35
  12. 36–38
  13. 39–42
  14. 43–46
  15. 47–49
  16. 50–53
  17. 54–56
  18. 57–59
  19. & 20. 60–67 (finale was a double issue)


Simple Chayote Slaw

I've been experimenting with chayotes for March's Eating the Alphabet Challenge and ended up throwing together this rather marvelous slaw of shredded chayote, Napa cabbage, carrots, and honey mustard dressing. I ate the slaw with cold salmon I'd also brushed with some of the honey mustard dressing before baking and it was all omnomnomilicious.

Salmon & Slaw

I halved Alton Brown's Honey Mustard Dressing recipe to make the dressing as part of the whole eating more "real things" plan means many commercially prepared salad dressings are now dietary no-goes. Which is not to say I never eat commerically prepared salad dressings, just that I'm getting a lot chooser. Also, I'm finding a salad dressed with a little flaxseed oil, lemon or lime juice, and salt and pepper is a pretty fine thing. (Wow, I sound like an insufferable prig).

Anyway, the slaw and the salad dressing are both dead easy to prepare and I recommend them both.
Easy Chayote Slaw
Serves 3

⅓ head napa cabbage
2 carrots, peeled
1 chayote, peeled, pit removed
Alton Brown's Honey Mustard Dressing, to taste
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Shred the chayote and carrots using the largest holes on a box grater or, if you love your knuckles, run them through your food processor. Dump the shredded vegetables onto a tea towel, twist it up, and give everything a good squeeze. Set towel aside while you shred the cabbage.

In a big bowl, toss the shredded vegetables with honey mustard dressing, tasting as you go, until the slaw is dressed to your satisfaction. Season slaw with salt and pepper to taste. Toss in a little cilantro or some pepitas, if you're feeling fancy.

If you want a crispy-crunchy slaw and aren't going to eat the entire dish right away, don't dress it! I portioned my slaw out into three bowls with three tiny containers of dressing and dressed the slaw at work when I was ready to eat.


Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake Issue #1

I'm not very familiar with the cartoon Adventure Time -- tried to watch a few episodes, but found it simply too cracktastic for my aging brain -- and worried I wouldn't get much out of Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake as the internets seemed full of dyed-in-the-wool Adventure Time fans telling me that Fiona and Cake was full of gender-bendy awesomeness and cuteness like-minded fans would love. I worried Fiona and Cake would rely heavily on the gender-bending conceit (which only really works if you know and/or care that females Fionna & Cake are modeled after males Finn & Jake) and just be a series of in-jokes I wouldn't get.

However, I need not have worried. Fionna & Cake was simply charming. I'm sure some of the allusions or in-jokes did fly right over my head, but I don't care a whit. The story I read -- a girl named Fiona and a cat named Cake try to save some fire lions and a feral flame boy from the wicked (and totes awesome as she rides a giant jellyfish) Ice Queen -- was pretty flippin' delightful. The story is by no means resolved at the end of the issue, but the character's relationships are nicely set-up and it's impossible not to be all fangirlishly Team Fiona & Cake by the end. While I know there's no real doubt Fiona will give the Ice Queen a good "gut-thumping" and "butt-punching"over the next five issues, I still look forward to seeing it happen. Want to know what the Kitty Litter Sword is capable of, after all. (Being a pragmatist, I'd probably have gone for the Broken Bottle Sword).

Anyway, much as I enjoyed Issue #1 of Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake, I really bought it for Noelle Stevenson's (of the fabulously fun Nimona) silly backup story about sweater thieves. It was cute but frustratingly brief (Who was that multi-layered Sweater Man? Why did he want all the sweaters?) and made me long for a Cake-shaped hoodie.

Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake Issue #1 of 6 (Kaboom! 2013)


The Drops of God, Volume 1

Shizuku Kanzaki, the son of a renowned wine critic, turned his back on his father and his heritage years ago. Employed by a beer company, he has never drunk wine and readily proclaims ignorance of all things wine-related. Then Shizuku's father passes away, leaving behind a rather weird will and Shizuku suddenly needs to know about wine.

Shizuku must correctly identify thirteen different wines, the "Twelve Apostles" and "The Drops of God," in order to retain his father's estate. His competition? Issei Tomine, an arrogant young wine critic, recently adopted (a "paper son") by the late Yukata Kanzaki in an outrageous attempt to get his hands on Kanzaki's irreproducible wine collection. Happily, Shizuku is not without help. Trainee sommelier Miyabi Shinohara will teach him Wine In A Nutshell. Or something like that.

The Husband gave me The Drops of God, Volume 1 for Christmas, knowing I enjoy both wine and manga, and thinking this would be a sure win. And, you know, it was quite a fun read -- charming and very informative, just like Miyabi herself.

Thankfully, the manga doesn't depend on the reader knowing much about wine to enjoy it, but then there's also really no way to finish the volume without gaining a better understanding of wine. I suspect The Drops of God could get a bit tiring if you only have a half-hearted interest in wine. At best, I am a dilettante and I admit I skimmed some of the more scholarly passages. I did really enjoy the manga's use of metaphor and imagery to describe the wine -- Miyabi in a field of flowers upon tasting the first wine Shizuku decanted almost made me want to sample '85 Romanée-Conti and Shizuku seeing Queen after tasting '01 Château Mont-Pérat made me laugh (and then go look it up).

Will I go on to read Volume 2? Yes, with reservations. I want to see Shizuku and Miyabi thoroughly trounce Issei, but I could live without seeing Mr. Honma of the Italian Wines ever again. Also, the internetz tells me this series never reached completion in the US, ending at Volume 4 with a significant chronological gap between 3 and 4. Erk.

The Drops of God, Volume 1 written by Tadashi Agi & illus by Shu Okimoto (Vertical, 2011)

Sunbutter In My Food Processor

Yes, I made sunbutter in my food processor. Why? Mostly ... because I could. And it was easy. Too easy, perhaps, as I now have fantasies of making my own cashew and almond butters. I do not think The Husband will appreciate a fridge full of little jars of brown sludge as it's bad enough there's usually an entire shelf given over to my pickle collection. And the cheese drawer is contaminated with bacon-chocolate products ...

Poor, long-suffering man.

Homemade Sunbutter, Ingredients

To make the sunbutter I just ran two cups of roasted, unsalted sunflower kernels around in my food processor until they formed an slightly oily, slightly sticky, crumbly mess. With the processor still running, I drizzled in canola oil until the crumbly mess looked the "right" texture for nut butter. Then I stirred in sea salt and Penzeys Cinnamon Sugar until it tasted "right." (My sunbutter isn't as smooth as what you'll find at the market, but I like the slightly crunchy-chunky texture).

I store it in the fridge in an old glass Nutella pot and, so far, it's been a week and the butter is still good. I don't really now how long it will keep, though. I'm eating it every day -- either on toasted things or stirred into oatmeal -- so I expect it will be gone long before I need to worry about food poisoning.


Manga: Chi's Sweet Home, Volume 8

Chi’s Sweet Home: Volume 8 by Kanata Konami (Vertical, 2012)

I cannot believe I haven't written about Chi's Sweet Home since March 2012. What have I been doing? Reading the wrong books, obviously.

Volume 8 opens with Chi fully recovered from her tummy upset and ready for fun. Alas, her humans are too busy to play with her and Chi takes off for the park in search of Cocchi. Cocchi is his usual bundle of grumpy swagger, but Chi's adorable hijinks keep Cocchi from being too full of himself. Anyway, we know from Volume 7 that Cocchi, for all his swagger, has a soft marshmallow center. He wants a home, too, and it's clear he genuinely cares about Chi.

Chi and Cocchi engage upon a series of misadventures culminating with Chi becoming trapped in a garden shed. She escapes The Shed of Doom only to suffer a bath at the hands of the Yamadas and then ... could it be? Yes, it is! The Cone of Shame! Ahhh! Will that teach Chi to stay out of places she doesn't belong?

It's mean, but it's impossible not to laugh as Chi bounces off everything and becomes adorably annoyed with her Elizabethan collar. It brings back very clear memories of my own cats' experiences with the collar. Oh, the wailing and general angst. Oh, the indignity. And the hilarity.


The Blizzard of 2013: What We Ate

My cupboards and fridge always have food in them. My mother raised me to keep a little extra laid by in case Something Bad Happened and I didn't think this was unusual until I stopped at a grocery store Wednesday night to pick up cat noms and was bewildered by the number of people zooming up and down the aisles, their carts overflowing with food as if they might lose access to the grocery store for a week or more. Aside from the people whose regular shopping days fell on Wednesday and Thursday, I have to wonder ... do you all not have food at home? Is there nothing in you cupboards or fridge that could tide you over for a few days?

From our preexisting food stocks, I made:

Vegetable Beef Barley Stew

A fabulous pot of vegetable beef-barley stew we ate over three days with buttery slices of toasted home-baked bread.

Ingredients: thawed beef (cut into thumbnail-sized cubes), pearl barley, sliced mushrooms, red onion, garlic, carrots, frozen corn, frozen peas, canned diced tomatoes, marjoram, thyme, bay, Penzeys beef soup base, water, leftover Layer Cake Malbec, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper.

Mushroom Barley Pilaf w/ Smoked Lamb Sausages & Green Beans

"Byrdhouse Mushroom Barley Pilaf" with smoked lamb sausages and green beans. The Husband liked this so much he had seconds! I used a combination of pearl and quick-cooking barley, simply because I did not have enough pearl barley left, and the quick-cooking gave the dish a comforting creaminess while the pearl barley remained slightly chewy. It was a good combination and I must remember to do it that way again.

Ingredients: thawed smoked lamb sausages, pearl barley, garlic, red onion, sliced mushrooms, dry sherry, low-sodium fat-free chicken broth, Penzeys herbes de provence, black pepper, parsley, garlic oil, fresh green beans.

Making Pumpkin Oatmeal

"Pumpkin Pie Steel Cut Oats in the Crockpot," because oatmeal is the best comfort food for consecutive snow days and pumpkin is full of good nutrition.

Ingredients: steel cut oats, pumpkin puree, coconut milk, Penzeys baking spice, pumpkin oil flavor. (I sweetened each individual portion to taste with maple syrup and drizzled it with Barlean's flax oil for extra goodness).

I made pancakes and waffles, as well, but was too hungry at breakfast time to faff about with the camera. Not a morning person, anyway. Food and hot tea must go in my belly before I can function properly.

I heated up a frozen lasagna, too, but since it was made by Marie Callender it does not count as real cooking. It was, however, pretty darn good and I will be stocking up on more "Three Meat and Four Cheese Lasagna" the next time they go on sale. (I know, I know ... "Making and freezing your own is so much healthier/thriftier").

Our regular shopping day is usually Sunday so we're a bit low on milk and I've switched over to green and white teas to save what remains for The Husband's tea. Otherwise, we're in fine kip and could avoid the shops until next weekend. Which would be great, because here's the thing: while I like eating and enjoy cooking, grocery shopping does not fill me with joy. And, yes, we use Peapod quite heavily, but there are things Peapod can't be trusted to supply properly. What I really need is a replicator.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

She was wired into my heart. Twisted and kinked and threaded right through.

I read Tell the Wolves I'm Home just after watching the documentary We Were Here: The Aids Years in San Francisco and I think that made reading the novel much more wrenching than it needed to be. I'd just seen a man polka-dotted like a dalmatian with "gay cancer." I'd just heard a man talk about watching both his partners die and another man describe helping a friend commit suicide. It was impossible not to combine the pain of the real people I'd seen/heard with these fictional men.

Basically, I cried my way through the documentary and much of the novel. Maybe you're not as soft as me, but I'd grab a box of tissues before starting out if I were you.

Cool night air pushing in at us, and the radio buzzing out polkas about clocks, and beer, and yellow roses, and blue eyes crying. There was Toby's drowsy head on my shoulder and my open hand on his head, and the rough wood blanket that covered both of us, and the feeling of having laughed and laughed and cried until there was nothing left at all. But stillness. The best kind of stillness. That's how I remember that night. That's how I want always to remember it.

While it made me cry, it was good crying. I very much enjoyed Tell the Wolves I'm Home. Oh, yes, some of it -- especially the last bit with the painting (her mother was that good? really? after years of not painting?) -- felt a bit hokey, but the story still felt surprisingly well conceived and well polished for a first novel. It was full of pathos, yes, but I did not feel manipulated by The Terrible Sadness.  Another author might have exploited the pathetic nature of the story, turning it into something mawkish or melodramatic, but Brunt manages to avoid this. June (and her family's) reaction to events seemed real. Unfortunate, in some ways, but real.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (Dial Press, 2012)


Chip Van!

The Husband gave me a van full of chips for Valentine's Day. (Yes, I know it's nearly a week away, but we seldom give each other gifts according to the calendar. It was a gift. In February. It's a Valentine). Can I just say it's the most adorable chip-filled van I've ever seen?

Chip Van!

Chip Van!

This is no ready-made assortment of chips! No, The Husband selected each individual bag -- giving me 42 single serve bags of assorted carby deliciousness. I've tried five flavors, so far:
  • Creamy Dill Pickle: My favorite flavor! Gently sour with a clean (not unctuous) creaminess and a good strong burst of dill.
  • Baby Back Ribs: Probably the weakest flavor. Very generic barbecue with no smoke or meatiness. I will still happily eat the remaining bag.
  • Kansas City Prime Steak: Salty, smoky, Worcestershire tang. The Husband says they remind him of crisps he used to get in England.
  • Heinz Ketchup: Sweetly tomato-y with a faint vinegar tang, it really does taste like Heinz ketchup.
  • Original Onion Rings: Very crisp with a toasty, oniony flavor. The Husband prefers Funyuns to these, but I think they are vastly superior as they taste more "natural."
That's the thing about these snack foods -- I know they're full of salt and chemical flavorings, but they don't taste like it. Even the "Baby Back Ribs" with their generic barbecue flavor lacks the chemical tang I associate with many barbecue flavored snack foods.

Herr's Snack Foods is offering a 25% discount on product orders over $50 placed through February 18 with coupon code "CRUNCHY" ... I think I might need to buy more "Creamy Dill Pickle." Mmm.


A Vicious, Delicious Cycle

I made bread, because I made soup. Then I made another soup, because I still had bread. And then more bread, because I still had soup ... oh, what a delicious cycle in which to be trapped! Yes, I know one does not have to have fresh bread when one has soup (or soup when one has fresh bread), but it is such a perfect pairing. Especially in the dark, dreary days of winter when a buttery, crunchy piece of toast dunked in a bowl of hot, savory soup is the only thing keeping madness at bay.

Or something like that.

Soup & Toast

None of the goes-with-bread soups I've made recently could ever be called gourmet. They're just thrown-together affairs using ingredients years of eating soup has told me go well together. And sometimes, I just chuck ingredients in to get rid of them. For example, in this soup, I used some of the tiny pasta rags I'd picked up at an international market. (Google says they're Greek, for what it's worth). They're wee little pinkie-nail sized squares of pasta with uneven sizes and crooked edges -- as if they were cut by hand and not machine-stamped. I bought them on a whim and forgot about them until I went on my bread and soup bender.

Bits of Random Chicken Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped red onion
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup chopped carrots
1 scant cup diced yellow bell pepper
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup frozen corn
1 large potato, peeled and diced small
½ cup pasta rags
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
32 oz low-sodium chicken broth
14.5 oz turkey broth
14.5 oz fire-roasted diced tomatoes [Muir Glen]
1 large bay leaf
Handful dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium until hot and very fragrant. Add onion, garlic, and chicken. Sauté until onion is transparent and chicken is a bit browned (will not be cooked through). Add bay, carrots, pepper, cabbage, and both containers of broth. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Stir in potatoes, pasta, corn, tomatoes, and parsley. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes more or until pasta and potatoes are cooked cooked. Remove bay. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste.


he Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

There is a child -- a baby -- who long since kicked off her blankets. Her skin is ashen and her mouth open in a perpetual yet silent scream. She isn't old enough to roll over, to sit up, to climb. So she lies there kicking her fat legs against the footboard of the crib, eternally calling for her mother. For food.
For flesh.

I've been putting off writing about The Forest of Hands and Teeth, because I can't quite decide what I think of it. I certainly devoured the book -- usually, a strong indicator of liking -- but afterwards I was full of doubts. Oh, quite a lot of The Forest of Hands and Teeth was well-written and there were some truly beautiful, poetic passages that made me sniffle, but the love triangle left me feeling completely meh. Admittedly, I am a cranky old woman with no patience for insta-love or triangles. I am quite sure teenage-me would have been totes Team Travis.

Also, the Unconsecrated nag at me. If the Unconsecrated can pile up against a stout trapdoor and burst it open under their weight, why did they not (years and years ago) overrun Mary's village by simply piling up against the chain-link fence? If most of humanity has died or become Unconsecrated and the Unconsecrated decay into nonthreatening undead bits as time progresses, then why are there still so many Unconsecrated? I mean, the events recounted in The Forest of Hands and Teeth occur generations after the First Night and yet it's still Zombies All the Time.

I'd like to think the next book will answer my questions, but The Dead-Tossed Waves is a companion piece, not a sequel. It features some returning characters, but I don't know that they're central to the story, and it sounds like it's spinning a whole different love triangle. I'm not interested in love triangles -- I want to know more about the Unconsecrated -- so I don't know whether to go on with the series or not. Will The Dead-Tossed Waves explain the Unconsecrated or just create more confusion?

Oh, heck, if there's even the remotest chance of another undead baby I'm in.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (Delacorte, 2009)

Banana Bread & The Cookies of Appeasement

Once again, our freezer suffered from a surfeit of bananas. Its salvation? Money Saving Mom's tempting "Freezer-Friendly Chocolate Banana Bread" (subbed peanut butter chips for chocolate). I don't know that this bread actually freezes well as it's going straight to work and into hungry librarian bellies, but it looks and smells fabulous. Indeed, its heady perfume made me feel a bit drunk after a while and I had to remove the loaf to a cupboard while I baked The Husband's Cookies of Appeasement.

Chocolate Banana Bread w/ Peanut Butter Morsels
My co-worker's could not get enough of this bread!

I'd already baked The Husband a beautiful almond bundt cake earlier this week (with homemade raspberry sauce even!), but he was still clearly displeased to come downstairs this morning and discover the delicious baking smells that had finally roused him from his snug nest were not for him. Oh, the betrayal in his eyes! And the scorn he heaped upon my poor, innocent banana bread.

Almond Bundt w/ Raspberry Sauce
Tender almond sponge with raspberry sauce, yum!

So I baked him cookies -- Betty Crocker's "Black Beauties" -- which allowed me to use up the bag of Betty Crocker double chocolate chunk cookie mix leftover from a work event, so yay for that. The cookies came out well, even though I omitted the nuts (meant to replace them with chopped hazelnuts but forgot) and did not dip the baked cookies in melted chocolate (clearly, I do not love my husband that much). They were best the first few hours out of the oven, when biting down on their crisp exteriors released warm, gooey chocolate centers. I suspect that tomorrow they'll just be a bit chewy and The Husband will lose a little of his ardor for them.

Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Can't go wrong with a warm cookie

Oh, fickle Eater of Cookies!