the view from here

I can see a long way but it’s pretty fuzzy.  A lot going on and nothing is in the clearest focus…just yet.  I don’t have writers block.  I’ve done a few notably foodie things that were fun/tasty/inventive/etc.  I’ve even baked a cake frowaltym scratch.  The truth is ……..I have no margin.  There it is.  When I finished all the things (ALL THE THINGS) I said I’d do there wasn’t time left for this.  I just didn’t have room for one more thing in life.  I filled it up.  And the thing is, not with bad stuff.  I just filled it up with other stuff.  And when I wasn’t doing the other stuff I sat on the sofa with my feet up to catch my breath.

I have been busy with work-a new book is launching this week that we have been working on for A YEAR.   And not by myself.  Work is also a spin of other big picture things that should start to come into focus this week.

I’ve been busy with Z.  He has had a long stretch of reasonable (for him) health.  A girl could get used to that.  But we left that stretch this month and he’s been sick over TWO weekends.   Two different things that have taken the stuffing out of me.

We trained for (sort of—in the gym) and ran (one jogged/one walked) the runDisney Tower of Terror Happy Haunted Trail Race (5K) and prepped a Merlin costume and attended the Disney Not So Scary Halloween Party (it was a total candy grab and the most epic pics are coming soon).

Foodie-ism and all that goes with it have gone off the rails.  We had sandwiches three times last week for dinner.   They were kinda ‘gourmet’ and not just a slap of peanut butter on bread but they were sandwiches.  No heat applied.  Dinner in 10.  That is reality.

On the horizon though – an exciting and food-centric (for me anyhow) trip in a couple of weeks that could reinvigorate and restart the not-so-well oiled machine.  I did make pickles one night this week with a friend for his 30 before 30 list from a recipe gleaned by emailing a local restaurant.

We’ve also attended the 2014 Epcot Food & Wine Festival a couple of times.  The first night was on the opening day of the festival and it was just drooling down cold rain.  That’s impressive for here because cold rain isn’t really a thing.  But I couldn’t stay away and we went out for it – mainly just to get a lay of the land and have a fun last ride on Maelstrom.   Sadly, the Norway classic is now closed.   I somehow persuaded Z that we should go on it one last time about four times. Photos and Food & Wine thoughts coming this week.  I commit to that.

is Starbucks still a thing?

In this day and age of fair trade, pay what you think it’s worth high concept coffee shops is Starbucks still a thing?  I see a few blogs where the writers say they love coffee more than most other things in life but the question I have is this. Is Starbucks still a thing?   Would people rather go to a small local chain or to the big boy?  Has Starbucks extended their reach as far as DisneyWorld but lost their swerve?  Become the Chili/TGIF’s of the coffee world or are they still as relevant as ever?Starbucks

We swang by–and that was no small feat in this day of a remodel in progress Downtown Disney that has been called the seventh pit of hell for traffic –the new mothership Starbucks a while back.  It was actually our second try to get access to Downtown Disney in a few weeks.  The parking right now is terrible during the updates and with the summer crowds it is better for my sanity to just stay away.  But since the mothership of Lego is also located there we do make the attempt now and then.  It is a really beautiful and huge store.  Full of reclaimed wood, warm coffee colors and technology all while being green and swishy with coffee ground compost grown lemon grass on the roof.   The queue is super long and there are tons of seats and a kind of cupping bar where you can try single origin pour-overs.   There is some neat tech that draws the people in the shop in line drawing and I believe is live action in a California counterpart.  Bi-coastal up in here.

I’ve enjoyed having access to Starbucks at the Magic Kingdom and at Epcot.  For me its a piece of my happy place-a hot cup or tall cold drink in the midst of the sometimes chaotic Disney experience.  I wonder somewhat if that is the city of my birth or maybe because I hit my early adult years in their heyday.  I do love me a bitter cup of Starbucks.  That said,  I wouldn’t make this shop a destination but I can see why people might.  What do you think?  Is Starbucks still a thing?  Why?

so, I got to thinking…

People who cook like this on a Monday night should probably blog about it.  Let’s scroll back 72 hours.  Friday night I got home to a box on the porch from Amazon.  It held riches of books-one being Sorella.   Sorella is billed by Amazon as 100 bold gutsy comfort-based Northern Italian dishes inspired by the restaurant of the same name in NYC.  I think I am a total tool because I bought it because (I think) it was an Amazon recommendation.  For real?  Who does that?  But the minute I flipped through I knew i had done the right thing.   The dishes are for real cheffy fare and for me–super inspirational.  Fast forward 48 hours to Sunday.  I made brine while I cooked dinner last night.  I let it cool to room temperature and submerged four 1″ thick pork chops in a bowl under the brine and weighted down the top with a plate  to keep them under.  I shoved the whole thing in the fridge and forgot about it until I got home tonight and remembered while I was pushing the mower through the yard.    sorellaAfter finishing up mowing I enlisted Z’s help to get dinner on the table.  We started the olive smashed potatoes which were scented with orange zest and a tiny bit of lemon juice and I quickly boiled (hang with me here) a pint of cherry tomatoes.  I plunged them into ice water and I PEELED them.  Cherry tomatoes.  Z pulled out our smoking gun and put some applewood smoke on them.  Then I made them into a delicious little vinaigrette.  What?  Who puts these flavors together.  Then I dried and put the chops on the grill pan after rubbing them in olive oil and a touch of sea salt.  We finished the chops in the oven.  The chops were briny and porky-kind of baconlike almost.  Because of the brine they were moist and the grill pan gave them the most fantastic char.  The potatoes?  Inspired.  Orange and olive?  Amazing.   I could taste the smoke on the tomatoes.   Best. Monday. Night. Dinner. Ever.  I am so looking forward to some deep dives into this book.

traditions

We got married on February 29–Leap day.   We got married after a long distance relationship that I described yesterday at lunch as ‘not dating.’  We didn’t really ever date in that traditional sense.  We knew each other for years – maybe 10 or 15 actually and had done loads of things together but mostly always in some sized group of friends.    In fact, we maybe only went on a handful of  what would strictly qualify as dates.   I don’t know if it is a result but our whole life is kind of now a date.  We do  most things together–because it’s fun.  I let him pay (‘The man pays’ he says) but in reality I just don’t want to carry my purse and why not? It’s fun to say thank you for things–makes life feel like a treat.   Makes all of life just a little sweeter.  It’s our ‘tradition.’  The more I thought about that idea of traditions the more I think that they are the things that make life a little bit sweeter.  If a tradition is simply a hateful chore you should probably think about changing that tradition.   It’s like letting go of a sour and negative friend.  It might hurt for a little bit but in the long run life is too short.tradicane

Traditions.    I vaguely remember thinking we wouldn’t ever have any when we first got married – no reason for that, just that I wasn’t clear-headed enough to see that we hadn’t had time to make them.  Time has passed and we now have some traditions that suit us.  This week we got to observe  one.  We went to dinner at Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen for dinner in honor of Bertha.  For each named Atlantic storm we head to Tibby’s to celebrate the hurricane (or tropical storm as it may be.)    So ‘God willin and da creek don’t rise‘ we head out to celebrate the wild weather with a hurricane cocktail for me and some luscious grits stuffed with andouille sausage, po’ boys and decadent beignets with powdered sugar on top.    It isn’t our only kind of unique tradition–we have a few others.  One being not cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving, which is another story for another day. So, what are your special / time honored /happy place traditions?  I’d love to hear!

Blog hop. Just a bit sad.

I haven’t blogged for nigh on (?) – start over.  I haven’t blogged for roughly (much better) a month.  No real reason exactly.  I’ve cooked a few new things.  I’ve been busy at work.  I’ve been drained.  Who even really knows.  But here I am trying to get my mojo back.  So, I’m trying what my friends have suggested and answering the blog hop questions.  What’s sad about that is that I just don’t really know too many bloggers who haven’t already been mentioned so I think this is a sad end to the hopping.   Most of the would be bloggers I know have slowly bailed over time.  It’s a commitment and more work than you might think.  So where do you go from here?  Let’s do this. bloghop

1. What am I writing or working on?  

For the blog?  Nothing.  Answering emails at work?  Myriad.  Projects at work?  Myriad.   Although,  I did wrap something up in early July that I think had a great deal to do with the loss of blogworthy mojo that I had.  For the last six months or so I tested cookbook recipes for a blogger come-lately new author.  Once a week I received a recipe in my inbox that I had to procure the ingredients for, cook exactly to the recipe, and review the recipe.  I couldn’t talk/post/instagram it. This was not good for my soul.  I thought it would be great.  I thought it would be motivating to the idea of maybe someday doing something similar.  It wasn’t.  I felt sucked dry and so immersed at doing a good job that I didn’t have anything left for my own creative juju.  I am pretty sure they wanted me to feel appreciated-but I didn’t.   I couldn’t share what I was doing and as a blogger that is an absolute downer.   They didn’t wrap up with a bang but piddled out with a whimper.   So, thankfully, it is finished and I am back to trolling Pinterest and reading blogs again.  For now, I am working on getting back what dribbled away.

2. How does my work differ from others of this genre?

The food blog.  What is the genre?   People who spend inordinate time thinking about food, cooking and/or eating food and then sharing it in hopes that someone thinks you are entertaining (at the very least) and hopefully inspired to cook and/or eat in a new way/place at the very best.  I like to add the spin of Orlando, travel and of course my favorite handhelds but also occasionally veer off into other things.  Our travel has been squidged out lately for some reason so I’ve got to get planning.   I know that would help.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I decided food would be my hobby maybe about 15 years ago.  I walked the tourist hot-spots of Seattle and tossed ideas around with my friend Linda.  I landed on food.  She landed on soap.  I’m not sure if she ever made a bar.   Food is an endless topic of discovery.  Every culture has food that is specific to them.  Chefs are the new hotness.  Travel = trying foods that don’t normally cross your doorstep.   There is low food (stuff like casseroles, Cheetos and tator tots)  and high foods like caviar, foie, duck fat and all that.  Foods that are quick. Food  that is long.  There is happy hour.  There are appetizers and desserts.   It is endlessly fascinating and in the end, life is delicious.  I think it must roll up into sharing is caring.

4. How does my writing process work?

Um, I just go.  I try to write just like I talk.  So, if you can hear my voice in your head as you read along I’ve done my job.  (Granted I hate hearing my recorded voice so I can’t tell you what that means.)  I try to be a bit funny.  I write fairly quickly.  I have my own KZ Manual of Style that includes em-dashes far more than commas.    I re-read.  I find a fun photo or three which I edit in Pic Monkey.  I post.  Z reads eventually and tells me my grammar is weird or simply likes my post on Facebook.   Sometimes I have to go back and fix things and usually I hope people missed the terrible errors when they do happen.

So, that’s it.  A blog.  A blog hop if you want.  Sort of.  We’re all busy people.  I have a few other friends and colleagues who have loads to say and a few people I wish would say more.   I’d love to hear it if you have any comments or a wish list of cooking or if you just want to go out for dinner.  We’re game.

EverydayKarin – she’s funny, wry and endearing

Prone To Wander – he’s funny and wry and endearing

OneThreadThatWinds – she’s crafty but crazy busy

Stacey Thacker – she’s a blogger who’s a mom – and you know what that means

And there you have it – she’s a blogger who’s a mom – but not like that, well, sometimes.