Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hit of the Picnic

I made this for a neighborhood picnic last weekend.  I chose it because I've really never seen anything with barley in it that wasn't soup.  Turned out to be phenomenal.  It was clearly the hit of the picnic.  This is from an excellent little book called, Picnic.  (I doubled it.  Fed 20.)

Barley Salad

2 1/2 c. vegetable stock
1 1/4 c. barley
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped and seeded
3 scallions, minced
3/4 c. chopped red, yellow, and/or green peppers
1/2 c. minced parsley
2 T. chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 c, good quality olive oil
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
2 oz. crumbled feta (or half a container)

Ahead of time (I made it the night before), bring the stock to a boil in a large saucepan.  Add barley, cover, and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.  Refrigerate.
Fluff barley in large bowl.  Add tomatoes, scallions, peppers, parsley, and sun-dried tomatoes.  Mix well.  Pour olive oil and vinegar over the salad and stir to coat.  Place in serving dish and cover top with feta.  Serve at room temp or cold.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Meal Fit for a McArdle

Nathan and I celebrated our 10th anniversary on Sunday by going to a nearby Korean BBQ place, San Soo Gab San.  We had heard good things about it from numerous people, but the last time we attempted going, we had back luck.

As a result of the last attempt, I was a little nervous about trying to go on this special occasion.  I still remembered rather vividly the last try.  Last time, we called ahead to see if we could make a reservation (no).  Figuring that we would probably be safe with no reservations early on a Friday night, we biked there through the cold of early February dusk only to arrive to find people lined up outside.  Nathan made me go in to check because he's odd about that sort of thing.  (Very non-oldest child of him.)  I checked with the hostess, who was extremely difficult to understand as she really didn't speak English, only to find that there was a TWO hour wait.  We were starving, of course, and unwilling to wait that long.  There is nowhere else to eat nearby either.  I remember biking to 5 other places as we tried to make a decision as a couple on where to eat (probably the quickest way in our relationship to ensure a fight).  We got home something like 3 hours later, having nearly thrown in the towel to just go home without dinner at least once.

Needless to say, I felt like the Korean BBQ option might just be setting us up for failure.  However, the first sign of this choice being a safe bet was when Nathan suggested we drive.  We got there right at 7 pm, which apparently, is the perfect time to eat at this place because we were led right to a large table!  We were seated, brought large menus, and left to our bewilderment: there was a hole in our table, a vent above, and a whole lot of unidentifiable Korean characters on our menu.  Our lovely waitress arrived shortly and asked if we had been there before.  We quickly admitted to being clueless.

Our waitress told us that we needed to order two entrees and very adamantly explained that we would be cooking our own meat, repeating it a few times just to make sure there was no question that we would be doing the work.  We ordered marinated beef short ribs and bulgogi (marinated beef that I was told is a national Korean dish).  Nathan also ordered soju, which is like Korean vodka, "only smoother," said our waitress.    She brought out a 16 oz. bottle and two shot glasses.  I thought to myself that driving might have been a bad idea after all, but she assured us that it had less alcohol content than vodka.  I think our first shot was a cheers to our making it this long, but all the rest, they were to the food.  The food.
We had only just placed our order, but out came a huge tray of side dishes.  This was the reason you must order two entrees.  So you can get the goodies with the meal.  The waiter proceeded to unload dish after dish after dish after dish, until he had balanced 27 dishes on our table in front of us.  Everything from lotus root to kimchi to any number of unidentifiable items.  (One tasted mostly like dried prunes, but felt like I was eating an inside out beetle.  It sounds better to just say eating a beetle, but my nerdy work friends said it wouldn't be crunchy on the inside if it was a beetle since they have exoskeletons.)

Then they brought our fire pot!  And our yummy, yummy meat.  Our delicious, scrumptious, tasty tasty meat.  The short ribs were easier to cook than the bulgogi, but it is pretty impossible to pick a winner between the two.  We also accidentally got some chicken since I started cooking the first dish they brought us, which was another table's chicken, and the waitress wouldn't take it off our grill when she came to fix the mixup.

Everything was great.  Nathan and I decided we would try everything, no matter how mysterious.  (I think Nathan also had an unspoken goal of finishing it all, so he could stack every bowl up next to him, but sadly we failed.)  It was just too much.  And some of those mysterious dishes were tough to finish, so we gave up at the last six.  Later I wished I had left seven because finishing off those last crunchy little dried sardines was much regretted when I could still taste them even after brushing my teeth.  We did, however, manage to finish the last of the soju with a toast to adventuring together.

Here's to sharing the adventure with you on your next visit!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Add it to My List

Oooh, I want to add this to my registry list.
You think I'm gross now, don't you?  

No, they're actually lovely.  They're Seed Bombs!  You use them to do guerrilla gardening.  Give them a pre-soak in some water and then toss them in some undesirable, weed-infested or barren landscape, and they will grow on their own!  Each bomb contains lots of different wildflower seeds, so it is a complete surprise.   I can already think of a few spots where I would love to throw them on my way to work. 

 I don't really have anywhere to throw them in our neighborhood because Nathan takes out his nervous/bored energy by weeding the traffic circles and abandoned flowerbeds in the surrounding areas.  (Yeah, yeah, I KNOW.  We ARE meant for each other.  Our weirdness balances.  I am very self-aware that way.)  That's actually a step up from his past compulsion.  He was seriously working out so much his pants were falling off.  He literally ran his butt off.

I digress.  These are fun.  I want them.  I can totally picture myself throwing these out the car window after the wedding when we're on the road heading home!  I think of it like some sort of twisted version of throwing rice at the wedding.

If I Were a Rich Gal

A couple years ago, I stumbled upon a gallery that was displaying the late artist, Sergey Smirnov's, work.  I fell in love with this painting and wanted it so badly I was seriously considering saving my pennies for years and years until I can scrape enough together to buy her.

Once a year or so, I research Alina on the internet to find a gallery that carries the limited edition canvas print just to see if I still like it as much.  So far it has staying power.

Sometimes when I find a gallery, I go so far as to give them a call to check on the price  This year I figured with the economy and the California location of the gallery, the painting/print might be at its lowest price ever.  Sadly, it was still not under four digits, so that is ridiculously out of my price range.  I don't actually know what my price range is for a painting because I've never spent more than $100 on artwork.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Stuck in My Head

Love it.

<a href="">At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be) by fun.</a>

By the way, these guys are seriously social-media-savvy. Love their website. Go there to get a free download of this catchy song.

One of my best discoveries... - Book Club to Swap, Trade & Exchange Books for Free.

These websites are some of my happiest discoveries.  I've been using them for nearly a year now and, as a result, I have saved over $250 on books alone.  I have gotten books from PaperBackSwap that are essentially brand new hardcovers.  I recently received the newest Imogen Heap CD for just the $2 I spent sending a CD out to another member last year.

It's a pretty easy setup.  Each of these websites work pretty much the same way; they're even linked so they're easy to manage, and you can transfer your credits back and forth too.  All you do is sign up then add the books, CDs, or DVDs you want to get rid of onto the corresponding website.  You add the item by typing in its ISBN number from the UPC code on back.  When someone wants one of your books, CDs, or DVDs you just click that you agree to send it, print out their information and take it to the post office.  You can even buy the postage directly through the site to save yourself that step.  Then you put it in the mail.  When they receive the item, they go into the system and mark that they got it, and you get a credit.  You can use each credit to request a book, CD, or DVD from other members.  Sometimes they're already listed online and sometimes you have to put it on your wishlist and wait because other members are waiting for it too.  It's a great system.  Plus, it gives you quite a bit of faith in the honesty of others because I have not had any bad experiences with this the whole time I've been doing it.  You can even set up exceptions if you never want to get a book from a smoker or if you don't want to accept CDs without their liner notes.  Love it!

The best part of this?  I am consistently getting packages in the mail!  Makes your day brighter to open your mailbox and discover a free book every time.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Making that "The Universe is Against Me" Feeling Beautiful

Though I have a great many things going well in my life right now, I definitely still have that feeling sometimes that the stars are all stacked against me.
I love how this print, "The Stars are Against Me Tonight," makes me feel like having the universe against you is almost a desirable thing.  Do you think anyone at work would make a connection if I displayed this in my cube?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Delight and Exhaustion of Materialism-The Gift Registry

Oh I wish that Etsy had a registry option because this way is going to be so much more time consuming...Nathan felt pretty strongly about us not actually registering at a store, but he didn't win that one. (Oh, harbinger of married life, you can't wait, can you, Nathan?)  However, out of deference to him, it's a small one at Crate and Barrel (-though that certainly does not mean that's where the items should be bought).  In addition to that "normal" registry list, here are some items we'd enjoy from Etsy.

and these too...

and I adore that this one will remind us of Scotland.

It'd be nice to have a working, non-electric mantle clock.

I would also like a cut glass bowl (not a tall pedestal, so it will fit in the fridge) to use when I make Tiramisu.  I don't love love the design on this one, but I like the size and shape.

We would also love a footstool.

This is my dream footstool...perhaps someone wants to reupholster a nice solid ottoman in an old printed burlap sack for us as a project?

Man, if I had $1200 to spare, I would...probably still not spend it on an ottoman.  Are you kidding me?  If I paid that much for an ottoman, I'm certainly not going to let Nathan put his FEET up on it.

If you don't feel like taking on a project, this one is a cute little placeholder until I can find a good solid ottoman and an old printed burlap sack of my own. 

I will be adding more if I think of anything, but please consider all of these things suggestions of items we'd enjoy-the links and pictures are not the only version of the item mentioned that we would love.  You all have excellent taste and know our style well enough that I know I would love anything you chose for us.