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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hello From Suburbia

Partally because of the intensity of what I'm feeling right now (and ok, fine, also because I need to do something productive on the internet in order to justify the fact that i just spent $10 bucks on an hours worth of internet access) I wanted to do a quick post just to say that


I'm at a conference today (its a one day session covering the new features of the latest version of a mapping software I use for work) that's taking place in Lisle, Illinois. Now, before I offend any people from Lisle, I should admit that today is my first experinece here, so I'm probably not getting to see the full Lisle Illinois experience. But, I can also tell you that this will--hopefully--be my last experience here. Why? Because this place--this hotel in which I sit that's surrounded by expressways) pretty much epidomizes everything I hate... well not EVERYTHING... but a lot of stuff. Like: no pedestiran access to anything along this main road and no bus to catch either. There's a commuter rail station about a mile away, but I'll have to rely on the hotel shuttle--or, if that doesn't work, a cab, to get me to the station. Once I get to the station there's a traina bout every hour that can pick me up here and drop me off close(r) to my house. After I get off the train I'll have to catch a bus, then I'll finally be home. Perhaps I'm spoiled now, after having living in the City for a few years now where there's pretty much always a bus or a train within walking distance--and sidewalks to allow you to get to them--that can get you anywhere in the city. Yes, they're often late, crowded, stinky, and in other ways unpleasent. But OMG, not having them at all is just, terrible.

I could go on about this for a while, so I'll go ahead and stop myself. I've got to finish my gourmet lunch of wheat thins and cheese I brought from home--since I don't have access to a car which is required to get to any of the restaurants around here. I'll enjoy the remainder of my $10 internet and count down the hours before I get to theve this sidewalk-hating, box-store loving, transit-free wasteland I guess they call suburbia.

Thanks for reading, and I promise to be less pissy next time. :)

Update: Grumpiness has diminished due to arrival of COOKIES to the conference room as well as confirming that the hotel can indeed give me a ride to the train.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Veggie Loaf

Its not even 10 AM yet and I'm already looking forward to my lunch which is left over vegetarian meatloaf which I made for Nick's meatloaf contest at work. Since this loaf would be competing against actual meat meatloaves, I wanted to make something similar to traditional meatloaf rather than some of the really tasty yet not very much like actual meatloaf veggie loaves. I looked on the web and in my veggie cookbooks, but I had difficulty finding something that I thought would really fit the bill. So, the following recipe is what I finally went with. Its a modification of a recipe found in PETA's The Compassionate Cook cookbook. I sort of made it up as I went along so many of the measurements are approximate and open to your own likes and dislikes. Here it goes...

Makes 2 loaves

1 mild onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 package Morningstar Farms Griller Crumbles
1 package Morningstar Farms Sausage Crumbles
1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup cashews, chopped
3 Eggs
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Woostershire sauce
1/4 cup Olive oil
1 tbs dried thyme
1/2 tbs dried oregano
other savory spices and salt and pepper to taste
a bit extra ketchup to top the loaf once its in the pan

Directions: Saute the onions, garlic, and bell pepper in olive oil until soft. In a bowl, mix the Morningstar Farms crumbles (fully thaw them out in the microwave first), bread crumbs, and nuts. Then add the onion mixture. Then add the spices, ketchup, Woostershire sauce, and Olive oil. Beat the two eggs and add them to the mixture. Mix well. Fill up your loaf pans (I only have one loaf pan, so I do them in shifts). I recommend coating the pans with a nonstick spray or Olive oil. You can really pack the mixture into the loaf pan--really squish it in there--to create a dense loaf. Fill the pan to about half an inch to the top. Then coat the top of the loaf with a generous layer of ketchup. Bake at 3:75 for about 40 minutes. When its done cooking, it should be slightly crusty and firm to the touch. After removing it from the oven, let it rest for about ten minutes before cutting it. You can remove it from the loaf pan or you can serve it in the pan.

Variations that I have not tried but would probably work well:
-add some A1 steak sauce to the mixture
-add celery to the onion mixture
-use oatmeal instead of bread crumbs; this is the way my mom makes meatloaf
-use Quorn brand crumbles instead of Morningstar brand
-use TVP instead of crumbles
-add anything else (except the meat of course) that your mom used to make meatloaf when you were a kid. Meatloaf is a comfort food, so the more it resembles your mom's cooking the more you'll probably like it.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Things I Learned This Weekend

1. Apparently I am much better at Nintendo Wii bowling than I am at actual bowling. My Wii bowling score (185) was about 6 times higher than my real life bowling score ever is.
2. Barbecue "Chik'N" sandwiches made from Morningstar Farms Chicken Strips drenched in BBQ sauce are a surprisingly successful party tray item, even with the meat eaters.
3. It is entirely possible to give ones self a muscle strain from playing Wii Tennis.
4. Tomato season is now here. I picked literally a dozen huge tomatoes from the garden this morning and am now resorting to giving them away to coworkers.
5. While I spent all spring and early summer waiting on tomatoes and making plans for the dishes I'd make once they ripened, now I can't seem to think of what to do with them all now that I have them coming out my ears.
6. The movie "The Namesake" is waaaay more sad than the preview would lead you to believe (but still good).
7. Following running on the treadmill for the first time in months with a meal of two huge tomatoes from the garden is a bad idea.
8. It is possible for a piece of birthday cake to be too big and rich for me to be able to finish it.
9. Cats love wine bottle corks... and sitting on the keyboard of the laptop...
10. Making a dinner of fresh baget, goat cheese, Spanish tortilla, and wine is still romantic.