two by two.

It's Monday. I'm running on three hours of sleep, a bagel the size of my head, two abjectly lackluster vending machine snacks, and more caffeine than my cerebral cortex (such as it is) can manage. My throat is sore, the white noise from the air-conditioning is making me dizzy, and I have an after-work date with Turbo Tax.

Saturday the Woodside saw its first yard work in a year, thanks to the inimitable spirit, extreme good nature, and intestinal fortitude of S&M. The transformation was shocking, and I plan to bore you with photographic evidence to that effect soon. But here are some shots from the weekend to fortify you in the meantime.

Oh, and also to inspire you to contribute to the K Needs Photoshop fund. Just send checking account routing information to (Note: The last pair needed no adjustment. J is organically adorable.)

sunny side up.

egg craters.

gnome alone.


nest unrest.


*i smell truffle.

The reasons I keep temporarily abandoning this forum are twofold:

1. lack of exposure to the out of doors during daylight hours (which I am obsessed with for photographic reasons)


2. work-related stupor (see #1).

But last night I was faced with the prospect of a fourth day of cold pizza—recession trumps food safety!—and I was itchin' to get in the kitchen.

Another baffling day of no appetite left me not really craving anything for dinner. I just wanted to do something intricate and impressive and tiny and fun and frivolous and ... pretty. Yesterday wasn't a particularly pretty day, so I was determined to finish it off with a nightcap of loveliness.

So I dug into my expanding cookbook collection and discovered these.

truffle huddle.

Those would be salted caramel truffles making their move on lemon-thyme truffles. I moonlight for an overseas company, and this recipe came from something I'd recently worked on for them. I don't enjoy sweets, as a rule, and we all know I CAN'T BAKE, but there's something about truffles that is soothing.

Chocolate melts into glistening ribbons without a lot of effort. No fancy chopping or careful stacking—just stir. Want to use the time to self-reflect? Go ahead. Want to turn your brain off and absent-mindedly contemplate the repercussions of having spent three straight days with Elton John booming "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" into your frontal lobe? Be my guest.

I was trepidatious about the lemon-thyme variety (Herbs in my chocolate? Fer serious? ) but then I decided it wasn't all that different from using lavender, which I hear is quite gourmet. Cadbury, eat your heart out.

flecks of thyme.

Yeah, that was taken at work. Pretty lighting on the job site, eh? In a world where "pretty lighting" means "retinal failure."

It was tasty—elegantly lemony, as opposed to getting socked in the face. Remember those pictures of you at 11 months, sucking on a lemon because your parents thought it was HILARIOUS? This was not like that. And the thyme was just lurking in the background, rounding things out without being cheeky. White "chocolate" will never be my first choice, but I would definitely make these again.

I mean, just look at that zesty little mohawk.

zesty mohawk.

And the chocolate truffles (dark in the center, in milky jackets) mark a success—caramel triumph! The last time I made truffles, I came up with a texture that was more along the lines of chewing broken glass. (Sorry, Suze!) This came out smooth and velvety, almost as though I had patience.

But I'm pretty sure it's the salt that elevates them to cult status.

salt spatter.

Check out those beads of sweat. Ah, Alabama in the springtime. Where the clouds are threatening, the air is yellow, and the humidity hovers around 600%. Sweet home, indeed.

yin yang.

To the weekend! Wherein I further cultivate my denial for this thing they call "tax day."

*oodles of noodles. and babies.

Well where the hell have YOU been?

Yeah, that's right. You don't see me coming into your house, being all, "Hey lazy, what's with the no blog posts? Been painting the town beige, drinking diet-soda cocktails and wiping Cheetos dust on your stretchy pants?"

For your information, I happen to have been extremely busy lately. First, there was this:

LSIS AND MJ ARE HAVING A WEE ONE! You click right on over there and leave your well wishes (if you are a stranger to her, all the better). And maybe chastise her a bit for being as lazy a blogger as her good-for-nothing sister. She'll know which one you mean.

I think Woodside Juarez has a nice ring to it.

In addition to all of that, I vacuumed my baseboards. Yesterday. So there has been an absolute whirlwind of activity 'round the homestead. (I also vacuumed the sofa, then covered J's end in a soft, dingy blanket to deter further hair accumulation. He promptly ensconced himself on the non-blanketed end. Proving once and for all that he is an adorable twit with a predilection for sarcasm. No idea where he got it.)

But last night I was feeling domesticated, what with my 60% clean home. JFro was coming over later to watch Nova* with me, but she fears my food because of her faulty pancreas. So I was cooking for one, and I was craving my favorite pasta—orzo.

I decided on Gourmet magazine's Greek Salad with Orzo and Black-eyed Peas, then immediately decided to replace the peas with garbanzo beans. I prefer them, and I figured they still fell into the Grecian flavor profile.

Oooh! And then guess what. When I got to the grocery store? I forgot the peas altogether. I got all distracted by the cheese case, and I was pretty much done for after that. GENIUS.

I also decided, for budgetary reasons, to substitute dried oregano for the fresh. When I got home? The dried oregano jar was dry. Which means two things: a) I am almost remarkably disorganized and b) I need to eat a lot less pizza.

To tie up the contrarian trifecta, I also ditched the chopped tomato for grape tomatoes. I took a good hard look at the mater offerings at the Winn-Dix and saw nary an impressive specimen nor price tag. But the baby grapes always deliver. (I also assumed I'd be dealing with leftovers, and halved tiny toms hold up better than chopped whole ones.)

Once sliced, they go into a bowl to marinate with parsley, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper (also the beans and/or peas, if you don't have the memory of Alberto Gonzalez).


Next, the orzo.


You so pretty. I think the "K Variety Hour" would open with a shot of me frolicking in dunes of dried orzo, Scrooge McDuck-style. But, I mean, it's something we can work out with the producers.

When it's cooked—which takes a mere nine minutes—it gets rinsed to cool, then tossed with olive oil, diced cucumber, slivered olives, red onion (I went way past the 1/3 cup called for because I love it), lemon zest (nope. There were completely obliterated-by-mold lemons dissolving in the bag, and even though the rest were fine, they'd touched the detritus and therefore were UNCLEAN.) and juice (deemed usable), oregano (or not), salt, and pepper.

orzo mix.

Note: I apologize for the lack of photos in this post. It was just dark enough inside the Woodside that viable light passed quickly. The outdoor shots came out OK, but the ones I took in the kitchen were yearbook portraits at best.

Then I meticulously prepared the feta crumbles, carefully removing the lid from the plastic container and ripping off the hermetic seal.

feta crumble.

To serve: marinated tomatoes, topped with orzo salad mixture, coarsely chopped romaine lettuce, and feta crumbles.

orzo ajar.

Having eaten it for dinner last night and lunch today, I can tell you it's absolutely delicious. I would back WAY off on the salt though. With the olives and feta it's a little overly briny, but I think if you added canned beans it would take it completely over the top.

Pass the diuretic!

*Nova = The Real Housewives of New York City

On a serious note, though, this kid


is going to make some kid the happiest kid in the world. She'll hold it when it cries and teach it how to smile and marvel at its smarts and send it on impromptu scavenger hunts and stay with it until it falls asleep. She'll make it sugar-shock birthday cakes and let it try sushi and stand too close on its first trip up the slide. She'll worry about the small stuff and hold her ground on the big stuff and use The Look when necessary. She'll teach it to swear and she'll send it into the world and she'll show it, with MJ, what love is supposed to look like. She's going to be the best mom of all time.

So let me know how it goes. Posting that photo means I probably won't live to see how it all turns out. But I have a pretty good idea.



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I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.