Buffaloed by Bon Appétit

Well, friends, it has come to this. Last night, after being shut in my apartment for the fifth straight snow day (I almost miss my office cubicle), I resorted to picking through the dregs of my pantry and fridge to piece together dinner. And those dregs were quite random: a jar of roasted red peppers here, half an onion there, a few slices of stale French bread, and a half-devoured package of bacon. But miraculously, these otherwise random finds would soon perform some food magazine-worthy alchemy.

bon appétit

I’ve been drooling over this meatball-laden cover of Bon Appétit ever since the shrink-wrapped copy arrived in my mailbox. (Even though I’ve been primarily cooking from the pages of Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian,” I’m occasionally intrigued by the beckoning of carnivorous food photographers.) Now I had most of the raw materials for the cover recipe in my kitchen, including a pound of grass-fed, Virginia-raised bison (yes, really: Virginia-raised bison!). The instructions looked complicated, but who was I kidding? It was either gourmet cooking or another peanut-butter sandwich, and I didn’t think I could bear another one of those.

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Stir Crazy

After a couple of long weeks at work, I was thirsty for a stretch of time when I could sleep in, stare at the walls, and perhaps catch up on some of my favorite free-time activities — but no, who am I kidding, really just sleep in and stare at the walls.

Well, I got it (did somebody say Snowmageddon?), and what is it they always say about the grass being greener? I, along with most of my coworkers, worked from home on Friday. The office was shuttered today. A snow day was called again for tomorrow. And with another potential blizzard rolling in on Tuesday night, it ain’t looking good for quality work-time on Wednesday either.


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Snow Daze

I may be fresh off the heels of buying a springtime plane ticket to sunny Los Angeles, but in a stroke of irony, the powers that be have decided to turn my Southern state into a snow globe.

In the end, though, this is not a particularly cruel twist of fate. In fact, it only feels like my old Chicago home when the inclement weather starts a-blowin’. After this particular winter, I’m convinced that the gods have tried to ease me into my starter year in Virginia by unleashing the flurries—just in time for Christmas, but not stopping there. Case in point: Snowpocalyse 2009, also known as That Time The Federal Government Shut Down, when my town drowned in 18 inches of snow; this past weekend, when the sky surprised us with half a foot of powder; tonight, as we’re in the midst of a blanketing of three to six inches; and this weekend, which will bring another major winter storm.

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Purr Bug

Visiting animal shelters can be dangerous.

I’m not measuring danger in accidental flea infestations or bitten fingers, since in my experience, the critters at my local shelters have always been clean, laid-back, and polite. No, I’m talking about the danger of falling in love there — the kind of love that leaves you imagining your new friend curled up on the sunny bed in your apartment, or sprawling warmly on your lap during a lazy Sunday of reading.

It’s happened to me before, when as an eleven-year-old I refused to leave one without the scrawny calico kitten mewing plaintively in my arms. So when I decided last weekend to go to a nearby shelter “just to look,” I probably knew what I was getting myself into.

purr bug

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For the Sake of the Song

After a long day at the office, I love coming home to find little red Netflix envelopes waiting in my mailbox. Tearing open one of those perfectly-engineered packages is like opening a present, and feels all the more gift-like given what interesting surprise is waiting inside. In the past month, my queue has delivered me a historical drama about Genghis Khan, a forgotten Molly Ringwald tearjerker, a documentary on a rock ‘n’ roll choir made up entirely of senior citizens, and The Sting (featuring the very dashing Robert Redford).

If I can contain my excitement for five minutes before rushing to the television, DVD in hand, it’s the perfect opportunity to drag out a big covered pot and make popcorn the old-fashioned way. I simply heat up a splash of oil, throw in the kernels, and place the lid on tightly (it becomes clear why this is important in, oh, about a minute, when kernels start whizzing around like bullets in the Dutch oven). Even if I only manage to season the stovetop popcorn with a shower of salt, my tastebuds still sing—a reaction that no microwave popcorn could ever produce. And then it’s really showtime.

popcorn kernels

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