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November 30, 2008

The best (true) ending to a story ever

After a mightily expensive Thanksgiving holiday, the gent and I decided to spend the last two days holed up in the apartment watching Six Feet Under and not spending money. To keep ourselves from going totally insane we devised outings for each day. Last night he suggested we get all gussied up. I put on a dress and my most ridiculous earrings and high heels and make up and did my hairs. He donned his nice black shirt and white tie. Where did we go in all our finery, you ask? Erm... we went to Blockbuster for more Six Feet Under.

Today we decided to go for a walk. People always ask, "Oh, so you live by Mt. Tabor?" when we tell them our apartment's vicinity, but we've never actually seen the thing. We decided to head in its general direction, passing scads of cute Portland hobbit houses on the way. It's so weird for it to be on the cusp of December and yet have roses and dahlias still blooming. Flies are even alive here. I got bit by a mosquito, for goodness sake.

We kept hoofing it into further elevations above sea level, pausing every so often to look back at the mist-covered hilltops and mountaintops. Finally we reached Mt. Tabor Park, where a seemingly endless series of stairs cut into the hillside. Panting, we stumbled to a bench at the summit and encountered the most wondrous site through a gap in the pines. Snow-covered Mt. Hood was bathed in a pinky-orange glow, and there was so much thick fog that the 36 miles between the two peaks looked like a gloamy lake. A crowd of people paused their jogs and bike rides to behold it. The view was truly spectacular, and of course I didn't have a camera to capture it for posterity. This is the closest thing I could find on the interwebs:

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Then, on the way back home, I found $15. No, seriously, I was just minding my own business when I saw three Abe Lincolns staring up at me.

November 29, 2008

The First Annual Neenuh Saves Thanksgiving

Is there anything more terrifying than hosting a conglomeration of your peers for a dinner on a day devoted to a certain fowl you've never handled in its flesh? For the purposes of this blog post, I'm going to answer my own rhetorical question with a resounding "No. There is nothing."

It started out being just me, the boyf and my big brother who were to gather at my extremely humble (read: mouse's shoebox-sized) apartment. Then six more Portland orphans said they wanted to come, two of whom later retracted that wish, so in the end we were seven. According to my father's turkey math, that meant a 15 pound bird. I agonized for weeks over the accompanying menu. Should I follow the Food Network's lead and make something irrestibly gourmet (but still a little gross) out of offal? Should I infuse my mashed potatoes with truffle oil? Would people laugh at me if I crowned the yams with a crust of gooey marshmallows?

In the end, I went traditional: my customary pear and goat cheese appetizers, a pear and toasted walnut salad, broiled asparagus, cranberry sauce with orange zest and gravy. Our guests contributed two kinds of stuffing, mashed taters, two kinds of pie and booze galore. I wanted to make rolls, but the stupid store didn't carry the delicious Pillsbury roll mix my ma favors, and that's the only flava I dig. I wanted to make my customary orzo with roasted vegetables dish, but I'm po' and the turkey was real spendy, yo. I wanted to make an elegant galette or meringue surprise for dessert, but, well, I just ain't got the skillz. So wha'? You don't know me! Sheeeeeet...

When the brother arrived from Montana on Wednesday night I put him to work preparing our fowl friend, whom I'd christened Giblets, while I supervised. I made sure he didn't miss any nooks or crannies as he washed the bird, and I helpfully dropped paper towels on it from a distance of three inches so he could pat it dry. I squeezed lemon juice, again from a safe three-inch height, on the bird's exterior whilst he handled moistening its innards. Same goes for the freshly ground nutmeg, salt and pepper: I sprinkled, he rubbed. Then Brother Bear covered Giblets with some plastic wrap and let him slumber for the night in the fridge. Lesson learned: you don't have to actually touch a turkey to make it, so long as your brother will let you have all the credit.

The next morning we encountered our sole catastrophe of the day. The rack that accompanied the roaster I purchased last weekend had handles so protrusive that we couldn't shut the oven door with it inside. Of course, we only discovered this travesty after settling Giblets ever-so-carefully boob-down on the offending rack, so we had to lift him up and away before improvising with a ring of tin foil. Phew. Crisis averted. After his first hour in the oven we began our campaign of slowly drowning him in 2/3 cup of wine every 20 minutes. Fast forward five hours and this is how he turned out:

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The meat was practically jumping off the bones, my friends. Even the white meat was juicy and the image of perfection. Even our guest the professional chef was impressed.

We ate, we drank, we sang songs, we played charades, twas a resounding success. The end.

November 23, 2008

In which I discuss pop culture phenomena

 border=Hey there. Remember me? I'm that jerk Neenuh who hasn't posted in nearly all of November. I don't know what to say. Actually I do. I just ate a large bowl of edamame. I am stuffed. Also, I have been Twittering a lot, which is so much better when I just have a nubbin of a blog idea, not enough flesh on it to merit an entire blog post. So, really, you should thank me for my hiatus because I've spared you from having to read 600 words of me expounding on such topics as, "my shower didn't have hot water for two days," "I am in constant need of quarters for laundry" or "I do office work at my office, surprisingly."*

Anyway. Now I'm going to talk about Twilight.

The last time I encountered a pop culture phenomenon of this size it surrounded the Harry Potter books, and you bet your bippy I'm glad I jumped on that bandwagon. So when one of my coworkers started reading Twilight and gushing about how vampires+teen+romance=crazy delicious, my resolve to sit this trend out shriveled like George Costanza's undercarriage in that one episode of Seinfeld. I checked the library's website to put a hold on the book, but saw that 643 citizens of Portland had gotten there first. "Fine," I seethed to myself as I instead went to the bookstore to purchase the cheapest mass market paperback to be had with plans to sell it back at a loss once I was finished. "That's JUST fine."

After trying to wrap my head around a seriously deranged book featuring some breed of alien/ evolutionized monkey that eats humans, reading this fluff was a relief, if somewhat of a disappointment. It is not a good book. It's poorly written and more often than not had me smacking my head in disbelief at its god-awfulness. The thing that pissed me off most about it was the fact that Bella, the main character, has absolutely no discernible personality traits other than the fact that she's clumsy. Why the heck is she worthy of a hot piece of undead vampire booty? The boyfriend pointed out that she's probably written that way so every love-starved lass who reads it can imagine that it's her that all this is happening to, that somewhere there exists a universe where she is the point around which things turn. I agreed and then tried to convince him to reenact the pose on the book's cover with him as Edward and me as Bella.

I finished the book on Friday, just in time for the movie's premier. I spent the entire weekend struggling to decide whether I wanted to spend $7.50 on what every review I read told me was going to be utter crap. The biggest reason I wanted to see it was to see what Edward's hot vampire siblings looked like. Finally, my buddy called me this morning on pretenses of finding out the plans for the first annual Neenuh Saves Thanksgiving, but I was able to get out of him that his real motive was to ask me to go to Twilight with him. Not wanting to disappoint my buddy, I sighed and said I guessed I could probably go to the movie... if he REALLY wanted to.

I'm only sort of embarrassed to say that I 100 percent enjoyed myself and that I'm 3000 percent in love with Robert Pattinson. The movie was so much better than the book. New York Magazine agrees with me. But don't think you should just skip the book and see the flick; much of my enjoyment derived from seeing what I'd imagined played out on screen. I'm afraid it's both or nothing, folks.

And now, having fulfilled my blog duties, I am going to turn my full attention to the Travel Channel show about the tribe in the Pacific Ocean where they wear g-strings made out of twine. It's a pivotal moment: the boys have just been circumcised and one of the women is trying to decide whether to drink an abortive potion made out of tree bark that her husband concocted for her. Circle of life at its finest.



*All true stories. All things I've Twittered about.

November 2, 2008

A feast fit for a mooch

I'm sure we're all tightening our belts in these troubling economic times. For example, I have refrained from seeing all but the essential movies in the theaters (don't worry, Keira; I'm waiting till The Duchess comes to a second-run movie house), sold some itchy but gently used sweaters to a "recycled fashion" store and all but quashed my already nearly non-existent social life.

But my greatest savings have come from changing my food habits. I don't really eat lunch anymore. I wait to see if there are any goodies left over from the various meetings my co-workers host, and at the very least there's usually a sprig or two of grapes and this delicious cheese that's a little nutty and a little crunchy. That tides me over until I can get home and eat a delicious, cheap burrito (recipe below).

Another huge boon to my mooching has been my live-in companion's propensity for securing free meals at fancy restaurants in the past week. On Wednesday we went to Nutshell for a media dinner. They had just changed their menu and wanted the local scribes to sample it in hopes of scoring some free press. This blog doesn't net very many readers in their favored demographic (people who actually live in Oregon), but I'm going to do my part right this very second.

The restaurant specializes in vegetarian tapas, or small plates. They brought us a never-ending series of deliciousness, most paired with a sample of amazing wine. I think we had about five glasses, which, needless to say, made me quite the convivial dinner companion. These were my favorite dishes:

-Crispy rice fritters with avocado puree and sweet chili sauce
-Creamy Bluebird grains farro with Brussels sprouts, mustard, apple and roast garlic
-Fuji apple salad with beets, Marionberries, pinenuts, peppermint and muscatel vinaigrette
-Leek and potato flatbread with blue cheese cream, gremolata and spicy pears

Then for dessert we had pieces of a chocolate fudge with hazelnuts in some magic cream sauce. Oh. Em. Gee. To die for. But I'm still alive.

On Friday we decided to spend our Halloween at Siam Society due to my inability to imbibe (see story below). My companion had received a $20 gift card there from his bosses, and we fortuitiously arrived 10 minutes before Happy Hour ended so we were able to nosh delicious eats for a grand total of $19.75. I had the Siam Society Burger (house ground steak, seasoned with spices, melted gorgonzola cheese and homemade cilantro aioli) and he had the Peanut Sauce Pizza (homemade peanut sauce, mozzarella, gorgonzola and fresh vegetables). When we got the receipt back we discovered we still had $30.25 left-- it was a $50 gift card! Hooray! More mooching!

Because of all the money I saved, I'm sorely tempted to violate two of my new rules and take my Sunday buddy to Nutshell for some lunch. I can't stop thinking about those brussell sprouts...


Delicious, cheap burrito:
Spread a few tablespoons of refried beans (one can lasts for many, many delicious cheap burritos) on a tortilla. Put another few dollops of black bean and corn salsa atop that. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Either pop it in the microwave until the cheese is melted or, if you're industrious, put it in atop a baking sheet in an oven preheated to 350. When the cheese has melted to your satisfaction, remove your 'rito from the heating implement and top it with some iceberg lettuce (again, one head of lettuce lasts for many, many delicous cheap burritos). Roll that sucker up and love it.

My inability to imbibe, explained:
I had a bad toothache that started last weekend. Assuming it might be a vestige from the hack job my hometown dentist did on me before I left Minnesota, I decided an appointment would be prudent. My new dentist resembles Michele Bachmann. She discovered after sticking a fancy camera in my mouth that I've been grinding my teeth hardcore-- my aching tooth was nearly down to its nerve endings and there was a visible crack in another. She prescribes me an anti-inflammatory and a muscle relaxer, both of which will apparently turn my innards to goo if I mix them with alcohol. For the long term, though, she wants me to get a $500 mouthguard, which I can't really afford in these troubling economic times but should probably get anyway because it will prevent me from being a toothless hag in the future. Fin.