Backyard veggies

What we’ve been working on this summer, from day 1…

…to today:

and a strawberry-close-up:

Besides the berries we also have tomatoes (two kinds), herbs (four), peppers, cucumbers, and squash.  The cilantro is going crazy and blooming dill-like leaves and flowers and a couple of peppers have already been destroyed by local varmints (bugs? squirrels?) but everything else is coming along well.  Hope for a harvest before we get the first frost…

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Q. What’s a cupcake without the wrapper?

There are two kinds of cupcake eaters in the world.

There are those who will not think anything is amiss with a cupcake that arrives without a paper wrapper– even a little cake without the tell-tale ridges that come from being baked in one. All cupcakes are created equal to these folks. “It is a cupcake and I shall eat it,” mumble these brave faux-cupcake eaters, mouths full of muffin. Mr. Food is part of this crowd and so are co-workers N and A, I found during an informal poll recently.

I am not one of those people.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll still eat the cupcake; I’m not crazy and I’m not going to waste a decent piece of cake. But the absence of the wrapper signals to me that this unfortunate cakey round has been left on the fence between cupcakes and muffins. A muffcake, if you will. In my book, the two do not meet for lunch. Muffins are usually a bit sweet but should not be overly so. My favorite muffins are more of the banana or pumpkin varieties, not the chocolate chip or crazy-carrot-cake-“muffins”-masquerading-as-cupcakes-drowning-in-frosting sold here. Muffins have smooth sides and would look weird clothed in paper sheaths. Cupcakes, on the other hand are allowed to be smothered in any kind of frosting and colorful toppings that are available. For the record my preference here is for the good old yellow cake and chocolate frosting combo with any bright, little crunchy bits on top. A cupcake must be dressed in ridged paper pants. A’s husband, N, is so far my sole co-conspirator on this issue. (If there are more of you out there, speak up!)

This issue came to the forefront of my food thoughts recently after a trip to The Spotted Apron with N over lunch break. I ordered a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting. It came with several spots on top. N wonders if they are in fact Necco wafers… I’m pretty sure they’re not, but they sure look like them. Anyway! I went to eat it and noticed its unclothed appearance. Shocking for a cupcake to be naked, I thought to myself. N was not concerned. She did not seem worried about eating hers later in the day. I ate it but it bothered me and it still does. And, to note, it was indicative of the overall quality of the “cupcake.” I won’t be doing that again.

A. It’s a muffin. End of story.

And then there were two…

We seem to have lost one of our cats! Sorry for the non-food-related digression, but one of our three, the softest, fuzziest, and most neurotic black-furred cat has flown the coop. We think Sooty Sox Schwab (she was born in the autumn of 2004) snuck out the back door on Friday sometime, we didn’t know she was going to try something like this (she always runs the other way when confronted with an open door) but the other two cats don’t seem worried, so maybe they knew this was coming? Did she get angry that we’ve been hiding the food? (Pepper is on a diet and he needs the assistance) Did she get sick of having humans around and decide to take her chances with the great outdoors and the “cat hobo train” as Mr. Food calls it? Or is she just curled up in a corner feeling sick? We think if that were the case the other two would be making a racket and leading us right to her– they way they all do when one of them is stuck in the bathroom (Sooty), the study (Toes), or the front hallway (Pepper). Instead, the others don’t even seem to remember her, life going on as normal…

We hope she has struck out to realize her own happiness, or as was said in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, she’s just r-u-n-n-o-f-t. Sigh. We miss her already and hope to see her again. For now, we have fond memories and lots of pictures (see her, on the right in the header).  And yes, for once we feel good about never getting around to clipping her nails.  Best of luck to her and to any animal who crosses her– she’s a fiesty one.

Hawaii (III) — Shave ice

This stuff speaks for itself!  On the left: lychee (we learned that in Hawaii they pronounce it lye-chee instead of the lee-chee we are used to) and on the right: watermelon.  Unless I got another flavor.  Am I embarrassed enough that I can’t remember?  Mr. Food will know…

Hawaii (II) — Snorkeling and Shrimp trucks

On our first full day on O’ahu, our gracious hostess, S, drove us up to the north shore of the island in search of shrimp trucks, shave ice, and beaches. The header picture today is the result of that quest– taken at one of the two shrimp trucks we visited that day. We tested one… and then another… all for research purposes of course. The ones here were either spicy prawns or garlicky shrimp. Nice of them, too, to provide a little sink to wash hands afterwards– things can get quite messy otherwise! After lunch we swam at Turtle Bay and got hooked on snorkels! Next vacation will be somewhere where we can use our new masks and tubes…

Just watch where you put that thing

This just in– turns out the Chicago PD will ticket just about anyone.   I guess driving a 27-foot fiberglass replica of a meat tube does not make one immune to the law…

Hawaii (I) — Tacos and Mermaids

Hello, we’re back!  The header today is a cross-section of an amazing fish taco we I had in Kapa’a on Kauai at a place called Mermaids Cafe.  It’s unfair to say “we,” as I don’t believe Mr. Food had a bite of that first taco– though the second day when we went back for lunch, he did.  For dinner he was too busy with his ahi nori wrap and I probably was fending off his fork with my messy, taco-dripping-fingers.  The fish was local and so were the avocados.  I don’t know what they did for seasonings but it was fantastic– lime juice? curry? cumin? We couldn’t tell, even the second time around.   The lemonade, this much is sure, was enrose-d with hibiscus.

Next installment: Malasadas and rainbows or snorkeling and shrimp trucks?  We’ll see.