30 September 2012

Gameday Cooking: Sopa de Fideos

Minovia and I started the weekend off Friday with a nice quiet outing for pizza on the patio at Gusto followed up by "To Kill A Mockingbird" at the Varsity.  [sidenote: I did not recognize Robert Duvall in his screen debut as Boo Radley.]  Such as great film, #1 AFI Greatest Hero, #25 AFI Greatest Movie, Oscar for Gregory Peck, AFI #1 Courtroom Drama.  And that theater is honestly one of my favorite places in the entire city.  Cheap tickets, homemade caramel corn, cheap concessions, locally, independently owned, great line-up of foreign films, documentaries, classic pictures, old comfy seats and right in my neighborhood.
Saturday we had enough time to get a few groceries and be back in time to enjoy College Gameday.  On the spur of the moment I decided that we should make our own picks and see who fares the best over the course of the day.  So I grabbed a pastry bag and we chose our winners as the guys went through the big games.  As the picture shows, I came out on top in the first installment of this game.  Then we watched some team take it to the Minnesota Gophers.  The announcers said it was the Iowa Hawkeyes but they did not look like any Iowa team I've seen this year.  Fingers crossed that that team sticks around for a while.
With the Irish having a bye week, we had a perfect break in the programming schedule to head to the mall and shop a bit.  Jeans for me, shoes & sweaters for minovia. In the evening, we made a sopa de fideos (Mexican tomato/noodle soup) from the Rick & Lanie book and it's simple flavors were comforting.  I made it a little thicker than I probably should've, but it hit the spot. 
Sunday was capped with Paula Deen's pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting.  So yummy and so healthy for you! :)

Who's the Bigger Person?

Two amazing stories from last week about people who were the subject of ignorant, small-minded bullying yet ended up coming out shining and proving themselves to be the bigger, better persons by far.
This first one was sent to me by homebase and just about had me tearing up.  A Michigan teen is nominated for homecoming court as a joke.  Thank God for all good people in this world. 
And this second one just caught my eye on Flipboard.  A student at Ohio State was informed by a friend that she was the subject of internet ridicule for her facial hair and her calm, mature response and total comfort with her faith led to an outpouring of support.
Love thy neighbor.

28 September 2012

One At Bat (Follow-up)

A month ago I blogged about this guy, Adam Greenberg, who got beaned in his first and only MLB at bat.  The last-placed Miami Marlins have signed him to a one game contract and he is set to play on Tuesday.  It is the same team that drilled him seven years ago, so that is an interesting wrinkle in the story.  Here's hoping for something good for the guy.

Making the switch. Time to save some $$$.

I pretty much order one thing and one thing only when I go to Starbucks. Grande chai, nonfat ($2.95). And I usually get an oatmeal (~$2.49) with fruit and nuts. I think it usually comes out to $5.88...which isn't terrible. I only go a couple times a weeks but "over time" (that phrase is always the catch) it adds up. So, as part of a list of things I'm trying to improve in my life routines, I got a box of 12 instant oatmeal ($3) and a box of 20 tea bags ($3.50) and brought them to work.
We'll see how I do. I think it will work well. I used to go to Starbucks when I needed a place to work for while, and now I just go for the gastro-treats. Stay tuned!

27 September 2012

I like...

people like Kevin Curwick.  They make me hopeful for our next generation.

24 September 2012

Gameday Cooking

Since I spent my Friday night & most of Saturday either on the road, relaxing on the farm, walking on the Wabash Trace, enjoying some fantastic weather, watching Gameday at stoppable's with his family, and wandering around Hitchcock Nature Center, I did not do any real gameday cooking to speak of.  I did plan my day so I was home in DSM in time to watch the Irish.  Seriously, how good is their defense!?!  I may have a slight crush on Manti Te'o.  The dude is a BEAST. And making Denard Robinson look like a chump was just gravy.
[We will skip any discussion of the Hawkeyes.  I don't know what can be said...other than I am glad I wasn't watching that game on TV.]
As far as culinary treats, I will offer this recipe for Mexican Lime Chicken soup from Williams-Sonoma that we made on Sunday evening.  I wasn't sure what to expect, as it is very simple, but that simple broth lets some very nice flavors show their full colors.  We added cilantro as another garnish and I would recommend you do the same.  Very tasty stuff.  A keeper recipe for sure. 

20 September 2012

Latino Fest & Snookies Last Day

There were lots of highlights at the Latino Fest this past weekend (the largest ethnic festival in the state).  Good weather, perfect for a light hoodie as the afternoon was by and the sun got lower.  Great food, we sampled tacos three ways - carne asada, pastor and cochinitas, followed that up with some tamales and washed it all down with some great horchata (not too cinnamon-y).  Fun live music, we listened to several groups while we were there, all were great and there was dancing to watch too.  And shopping too!  What started out as looking at the knit sweaters for toddlers turned into one of my favorite shopping activities, trying on stocking hats!  These were fleece lined and from Ecuador.  And, while I probably do not need another stocking hat (I'll give an old one to Goodwill to make up for it), these were only $7!  That is giveaway price!  The same hat at the mall would be $25 at least.  So we both got hats and are ready for that first snow. 
Later that evening, since it was the last day of the season for Snookie's, I talked caboose into walking up the street for an ice cream treat.  We timed it perfectly!  I thought we had until 9:00pm but it turns out they close at 8:00 and they shut off their marquee sign right after we ordered.  That is pretty perfect.  So we walked back home, enjoying our mint chocolate malts, having some laughs and recapping a good weekend.

18 September 2012

Neil Smith Trail Run

I love creating a good running route.  And I have a handful of Des Moines routes that I’ve ran a lot and enjoy, but lately I’ve been running from house so that cuts down my options to about three routes.  It’s great to be able to get a good run in without driving anywhere and having a chance to explore my neighborhood, but a little change of scenery is always nice.
So last night I stopped at the Saylorville Vistors Center (a favorite birdwatching spot of mine) and hopped on the Neil Smith trail to stretch my legs and lungs a little.  In short, it was one of the most enjoyable runs I’ve had in a long time.  It was the perfect time of day, late afternoon/early evening, where the sunlight is so warm and golden. It had been cold, wet and gray most of the day so it was so great to get out and soak up a few rays.  The leaves are starting to change so there were swaths of yellow, leaves falling as you ran by, and wonderful blood-red sumac (I stopped to gather some leaves for a future project idea).  The trail cuts a path through fields of wildflowers, swaying between ponds and Saylorville Lake with just enough undulating hills to be challenging and interesting.  Birds were present too.  I wish I had my binoculars with but I’ll have to return for a long walk there soon.  Brown thrashers, bluejays, a flock of goldfinches in their fall colors, woodpeckers, hawks, herons, and a flock of 60-70 vultures riding thermals slowly along the edge of the lake. 
I actually ran further than I was planning on, clocking six miles, and would’ve kept going if I didn’t have places to be.  A fantastic escape to nature. 

17 September 2012

"Why These Kids Get a Free Ride to College"

Stoppable passed on this NY Times article about the Kalamazoo Promise.
It totally made my day and is such an interesting economic and sociological experiment.  That investment in human capital is hard to predict and hard to quantify but the long term changes in the HS's, the student body and the community are intriguing.  I was surprised by the how quickly the Promise changed the suburban flight problems that Kalamazoo was facing.  It sounds very similar to where I'm at and I wondered what size of endowment it takes to fund such a venture.
Also, many of those students can probably earn scholarship money, the Promise may be just the hope they need to make college a believable goal. 

Students Like Their Own Paste

I was looking through a survey of students on what they liked and didn't like about online learning programs we use.  The best one I came across: "You can work at your own paste."

Gameday Cooking

There were NO good games in the 11:00 time slot this past weekend, which usually is a big downer for me, but actually worked out well since it was also Beaverdale's Fall Fest and we were able to catch part of the parade (at least enough to see the Isiserettes and pick up a couple Obama signs).
There were some good results in the afternoon and evening though!  Iowa's running game looked solid, especially in the first half (using three different running backs).  And they got some of their butterfinger problems cleaned up it seems.  So even though it was against a FCS team, it was very nice to get a solid win over UNI.  They made Wisconsin sweat til the very end too, so that is a positive.
For cooking, it needed to be a simple soup this week and cream of tomato sounded just right.  It was a basic recipe, simmered onions & garlic, tomatoes & bay leaf.  Topping it with cilantro was a great idea though, the flavors complimented each other nicely.  A nice change from tomato & basil.
For the Irish game in the evening we got some thin bistec from La Tapatia and grilled it quick for some tacos carne asada, with avocado & queso fresco.  And how great did that Irish defense look?  Impressive.  Holding Michigan State (#10) to three points was great.  And Manti Te'o, the best linebacker around and my favorite Irish player, had a week of loss, as his grandmother passed away due to age and his girlfriend succame to leukemia with days of each other.  Some emotional stuff on the sidelines after the game.
I love his quote, "At the end of the day, family is forever."

13 September 2012


I saw this tumblr in my Google Reader feed today from jamfla's blog and got some great laughs while I was enjoying my tea & oatmeal at Starbucks on the cold and rainy morning.  As one gets older and everyone else gets married, there are some funny (and frustrating) moments along the way.  And the gifs are pretty entertaining too.  Enjoy, myfriendsaremarried

10 September 2012

Gameday Cooking

This is a breakdown of how I spent my Saturday:  cook, clean, dishes, football, repeat.
I started the day with a trip to the grocery store, came back and cooked a simple breakfast of eggs and an english muffin then sat back to enjoy College Football Gameday.  During the breaks and slow parts, I also started the extensive our apartment needed.  It was great to enjoy my favorite TV program again and get caught up on football around the country.  Once they were done with the predictions (bad call on A&M, Coach)  I started my cooking in earnest.  I had picked out a recipe from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen  and gotten the specialty items I needed from La Tapatia the night before.  "Robust Red Chile Beef Soup with Mexican Vegatables (or Mole de Olla)" was the challenge for the day.  It was a lot of fun prepping all the veggies, simmering the beef and bones, soaking & pureeing the peppers, and I got a chance to try out chayote for the first time (and have a little photo op with it).  The soup amazingly was ready right at the start of the Iowa/Iowa State game so it worked out just right.  And it was pretty delicious.  Not out of sight remarkable, but a very nice beef & veggie soup.  Very enjoyable.  I wish the same could be same for the game. At least the Irish game, which we had going on the projector and also came down to the last possession, had a better turn out.
For the night game (pretty much flipping back and forth between Georgia/Missouri and UCLA/Nebraska), I made a quick batch of gameday nachos using some the only heirloom tomato my garden produced this year, some leftover grilled chicken, black beans, jalapenos and finished off three different partial bags of shredded cheese from our frig. 
There are few things that make me as happy as having a freshly cleaned apartment, windows open, college football on, soup simmering on the stove, and a 2 liter of pop in the frig. 

05 September 2012

NPR: Abel Meeropel

NPR had this short piece this morning that I listened to on my work commute.  They introduced it by explaining that sometimes in journalism the story you end up reporting is not the one you set out planning on doing.  Ms. Blair was doing a piece on Billie Holiday when the unique details involved in the life of the man who wrote one of her most famous songs, "Strange Fruit" turned into the main focus.  Abel Meeropel was a Jewish New York teacher/poet and you can check out the story on NPR to read (or listen to) how he wrote that eery song (named song of the century in 1999 by TIME) and the famous orphans he adopted later. 

04 September 2012

Downton Abbey Season 3 preview

Well, it isn't until January but this sneak preview of season 3 is just enough to whet the appetite.  I may have to have a quick rewatch of season 2, especially that finale!!