Slow Cooker Sundays

October 26, 2011

Once upon a time, I spent sundays waiting tables.  I used to call it my sunday brunch act.  I calmed strangers who got worked up over waiting until 10 am for their bloody mary or mimosa (Minnesota sunday law), or over their imperfectly poached Eggs Benedict.  Truth: sometimes I feigned empathy.  Usually, I returned home to sore feet- eyes on a beer and a nap.  Monday was known as my sunday brunch hangover, and I showed up to work those days slightly shell-shocked.  It was probably caused by people like Sunday Splenda Woman, whose voice rose into hysterics over the absence of her favorite sweetener at our restaurant-- on her birthday.

Now my Sundays are usually free.  Sundays are really quiet around Minneapolis.  These days, I always feel like the world is granting permission for me to either patter about my house lazily, or stare at the sky from a patio chair at some neighborhood restaurant.  An earlier version of myself would have felt guilty, certain that I should be rehearsing or planning for something.  Now I'm struck by the awesome of sunday.  Sometimes this sunday wonder even means productivity.  This weekend, for instance, we did laundry, grocery shopped, meal planned, brewed beer, slow-cooked, and retired with hulu episodes of Chopped.  Somehow all of those events managed to feel soothing- putting life in order to support the week's events.  My favorite part was the unexpected bike trip back to the co-op for curry powder.  Life seemed all so beautiful, with the colorful, sparse leaves on the trees lining the street that I traveled.  So this was what I was missing when running around reciting the daily omelette?

We made chicken korma in the slow cooker.  Probably the magic of the slow cooker is that you can put a bunch of things in it and dream about the smell for six to eight hours while folding laundry or brewing beer.  The recipe was adapted from 365 days of slow cooking.

Chicken Korma

2 chicken breasts

1/2 C. red cooking wine (optional)

1 large potato

1 large onion

1 can diced tomatoes (it calls for a 14 oz one-- whatever)

3-4 diced cloves of garlic

1/2 t. garam masala

1 t. curry powder

1 t. salt

1/2 t. ground pepper

1 t. chili powder

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 C. Greek yogurt

I used frozen chicken breasts.  If your chicken is thawed, cook it for less time.  Put the chicken on the bottom of the slow cooker.  Top with the garlic, onion, potato, and wine (if using).  Cover it all with the tomatoes and spices.  Cook for 6-8 hrs. on low.

When everything is cooked, stir in the yogurt.  Serve over rice.  Garnish with cilantro, if you like that kind of thing.

The beer kit we bought is from Midwest Brewing.  The process of brewing our beer batch took about 3 hours and filled the house with the smell of malt and hops.  Brilliant.

Sunday seemed to revolve around making a home.  And, lately, I just can't get enough of that.  It is about comfort, and making a place where you can return, even when life gets messy.

To celebrate: transitions, people, Tom

October 21, 2011

Once upon a time it was July.

It was then that I started this blog to rant about art-making and job loss and transitions- to help me remember what was most exciting to me about life.

It has been a gigantic few months.  A lot of it has been really hard, quite frankly.  I have a shit-ton (yes, that much) of empathy for my friends who deal with chronic depression.  Because, even circumstantial depression has been intense.  However, I'm quite excited to report that a lot of my happy is back.  Life is feeling less overwhelming and more exciting pretty much daily.  Which is amazing.  Because now?  Well, I can get excited again about future projects, adventures, and collaborations.  And, being happy makes loving more fun.  And, loving?  Well, that's pretty much the best.

I feel that I owe a lot of my 'happy'- my excitement about life- to the people around me.  There is so much talk these days about shitty people, but I want to write about the fantastic people; The people who are creating, risk-taking, and loving better; The people who are building new businesses, formulating plans, and doing things that sometimes don't make sense; The people who are going back to school, finding solutions, and insisting on making a living doing what they love; The people who are writing down their stories; The people who are honestly admitting that they have no idea what is next in life for them.  I am so damn inspired by the people around me.

Last weekend B & I had a party.  I got to hear the lovely people that we know here talk about life and plans.  I get so excited by their plans!  And, I also got so excited reading about thoughts from people making and living life elsewhere.  It is giving me the courage to put my own ideas into make big plans.

Here are some of the lovely things I read and saw and did this week:

:: Kate Fridkis writing about why she loves being married (my favorite reason being 'freedom'- which she beautifully explains).

:: Emma Freeman's beautiful head shots of my dear friend, Anna.  (Both such talented, gorgeous women!)

:: Molly Wizenberg's pictures from her European trip.

:: Meg Keene's writing about the teamwork of marriage.

:: This print from I Like You, which makes me miss living in Marquette.

:: A surprise breakfast-in-bed.

:: Shooting a film with Ben for our Patrick's Cabaret piece.

:: This writing on arts and capitalism from Minnesota Playlist.

Last, and probably most importantly, I want to mention that yesterday was Tom Poole's birthday.  Tom was a writer, talent agent, director, and all-around funny and amazing man.  He died- far too early- in July.  I last saw him after our production of I Like You at the Red Eye Theater, where he had come to champion our new work.  He was hit by a headlight-less car that night, after getting off of the bus.  He died a week later.  Monday will be the official community memorial service for Tom.

Tom's death was a reminder to many of us that life is short and truly magnificent in all of its imperfection and mystery.  I hate that I need those reminders.  I hate that Tom died, because it seems like such a waste.  He was the kind of person that we would all be good to surround ourselves with; we would be good to armor ourselves with wise and irreverent people like Tom, and also to use them as guides.  I think everyone should read (and re-read) this remembrance of Tom, especially the first part shared by Mo Perry.  Tom's wisdom shines through his thoughts on life, and we're so lucky to have his words.  Twin Cities folk, the memorial service is Monday at 7:00pm, at the History Theatre in St. Paul.  I have a feeling that there will be as much laughter as there will be tears.  Because, well, Tom was a funny man.

People are amazing.  So, go squeeze one.  Happy weekend.

Dude Duckface

October 20, 2011

Ben was in New York last weekend.  It was quiet around here.  I've been single for more of my life than coupled & have lived in two apartments by myself, but I'd forgotten how quiet it can be.

So...I made this cake.

And I found myself square dancing on an uptown street with an awkward 19-year-old boy for my cousin's wedding celebration.

And I visited the cutest store in Minneapolis, where I may or may not have bought us a new print.

And, naturally, I took myself to dinner.

But, I still vote that Ben and his buddies had way more fun.  The proof is in the Dude Duck Face. You see, they made a participatory blog during the one day they were together.  You know what a duck face is, right?  Well, I didn't.  So, maybe you should check out their new blog. Bottom line? That guy I married is fun.

Waldorf Salad, My Way

October 2, 2011

Ben and I are control freaks, even when we cook.  We've minimized kitchen bickering by deciding who's going to be 'captain' for the particular project.  Sounds ridiculous, but it's helpful.  The kitchen captain gets to decide on last minute spice additions, and the overall approach to a cooking project.

I was captain of this waldorf project.  I adapted it from Jamie's America, by Jamie Oliver.  I took his recipe and added chicken, substituted almonds for walnuts, belgian endive for celery, and slightly sweetened the dressing with some honey.  The results were delicious.  Also, it's a nice excuse to use the newly in-season Honeycrisp apples (yum!).  In short- a perfect fall recipe.

(Serves 2)

1/2-3/4 of a pound of sliced chicken breast (sometimes it comes already sliced for fajitas, which is nice)

2-3 large handfuls of different salad greens (butter lettuce or romaine tend to work well, or some frisee...they hold up better to the creamy dressing)

a large handfull of halved seedless grapes (green or red- the sweeter the better)

2 sliced belgian endives

a large handful of sliced almonds

1/2 an apple (Honeycrisp!)

crumbled blue cheese to taste

for the dressing...

1/2 t. dijon mustard

1 T. white wine vinegar

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 T. plain yogurt (Greek yogurt is nice!)

A squirt of honey (to taste)

salt & pepper to taste


Slice your chicken and saute in some olive oil until cooked through.  Place in a bowl, and chill in the freezer or fridge.

In a medium sized salad bowl, mix together the greens, sliced endive, halved grapes, and almonds.

Chop the apple into matchstick-sized pieces.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the dressing, adding olive oil, honey, and yogurt until you like the taste.  My first go was really dijon-heavy, so I continued to add a good bit of additional olive oil until the dressing was really creamy.

Toss the salad in the dressing.

Take the chicken out of the freezer or fridge, and dice into small pieces.

Top the salad with the apple, blue cheese, and chicken, and toss again.


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