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*geek tweaks.

Today I spent an absolutely overindulgent amount of time playing around with The Pioneer Woman's Photoshop actions (set 1). Granted, I do love a straight-out-of-the-camera shot that surprises, but messing with the look was too much fun to resist.

It also proved to me two things:

1. I need a camera that can focus for me (90% of the contents of my iPhoto library was too blurry to be useful).

2. I need Photoshop.

Addendums 3

I need to win the lottery.

and 4

I need to redefine the word "need."


Messing around with spots of color is always fun.

hamachi wasabi.


OK, so I need a little practice. The edges on that wasabi are messy as hell.

TwinFin gets a little de-colorizing,

twin fin.


the better to emphasize his endless wackiness.

JB: The Brown Period.

jb.


Forgive the manic expression—red eye removal is not a perfect science, so he's a little bit zombie in that left eyeball. Not his fault, as he is perfectly able to focus in real time.

Ah, the good old days. Remember way back in 2009? The photo has aged, but the memories live on.

new year.


Good times.*

*Note to self: When inauthenticizing photographs to look "vintage," choose those without modern appliances in the background.

This is my favorite so far, though.

foodimentary guy.


Handsome and kicky. Typecasting.
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*in tuna.

In the void of new insight (oh, except for this: I'm watching closely for signs of my eyes turning pink. I broke out the sandals today, and the legs show all the classic symptoms of albinism), I bring you this:


kadoma tuna, writ large.


Kadoma tuna from Jinsei—crispy rice topped with spicy tuna, avocado, jalapeƱos, finely chopped scallions, roe, and sesame seeds, then drizzled with a thick, sweet sauce.


kadoma tuna.


It's a textural masterpiece, though sometimes that rice will lodge in your molars and you'll spend a hell of a time digging it out in a most unladylike fashion.

What? Just me?

I could absolutely eat that spicy tuna with a spoon. Luckily, the Japanese eschew most utensils, making shoveling all that much easier.

It's best followed by this. Because hamachi nigiri


yellowtail.


is why I get out of bed every morning.
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*nutty buddies.









"To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with." —Mark Twain
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*free flickr friday.

Sushi


Weekend as Plan: Stuff self silly with sushi, magically transform Australian text into American English, eat healthily, walk dog, sleep well.

Weekend as Reality: Stuff self into prone position with sushi, sleep into the p.m. hours, deny the existence of Australia and its pesky metric system, whine copiously.

What are YOU doing this weekend?
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*economic futility.

I have been on a sandwich binge of late. It's like the SlimFast diet: sandwich for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, and a sensible sandwich for dinner! Yes, precisely like SlimFast. Only with a lot more mayonnaise.

I have always loved a sandwich, as anyone related to me can attest—I went through an adolescent phase of eating almost exclusively the grilled chicken variety (this grew in part out of a desire to order whatever on the menu came with French fries, but the point remains). It's not a coincidence I might have noticed on my own; I do love a food rut. But I remember the merciless teasing.

Where was I?

Oh, yes. Sandwich-related goods!

I think this would be perfect in the J household.



LSis says the hubby drops crumbs like Hansel. CLEARLY cleaning up would be more fun with a tiny burger-shaped vacuum.

I never seem to have peanut butter and jelly in the house at the same time (who am I, Martha Stewart?), but I love this little sandwich paddle.



Color-coded! Idiot-proof! And ever so easy to spread jelly on your bread while simultaneously getting peanut butter all over your elbow!

What, just me?

Generally I prefer to use dark-color sponges because they hide crumbs, dirt, and mildew, thus rendering them incognito in the ongoing Woodside kitchen saga I like to call "What's That Smell?" But I'd be willing to give appropriate hygiene a go for this.



I'd like to buy them in bulk and stack them on the side of my sink like a loaf.

I still haven't purchased the perfect lunchbox yet. In my hunt for sandwich-related items, I came across this little lovely, but then the octopus caught my eye ...



I haven't really been the same since. Perhaps it should be like handbags—one for each day of the week.

It could be argued that the BLT is the world's best sandwich (add turkey and cheese and it's a club; add cheese and a fried egg and it's a mouth party), so I have NOT ONE BUT TWO great bacon, lettuce, and tomato incarnations.

C'est jewelry



and home fragrance!



For those of you who think a sandwich is an incomplete meal, try this.



Frankly I think the sandwich elevates the soup (why am I drinking my meal?) as opposed to the other way around, but I'm partial. I like the groove for the bowl; it addresses my extreme likelihood to tip the contents into my lap.

Sandwiches do have a reputation for being a little low-brow. The fact that put-stuff-between-bread isn't rocket science means they sometimes don't get the attention they deserve. Which is why I want this.



YES, I can make a sandwich without a road map, but I'd like it as a coffee table book. Where some people have Georgia O'Keefe, I have fatty foodstuffs. It makes a design statement, methinks.

This is an anti-theft device for your work sammy.



Ross Gellar could have used that.

I'd really like this moody print for the Woodside.



It says, "I live alone and eat grilled cheeses after the night falls." Which is a lot to convey without words.

POP QUIZ: What's your favorite sandwich?
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*here comes cookie.

Today marks the beginning of my long, slow death from the Alabama summer. It's going to pass the 80-degree mark today (remember last weekend's snow?), and I'm wearing ... hell, I have no idea what I'm wearing. There's a hole in the elbow of my jacket big enough to pass a baseball through, accompanied by a Wal Mart dress that's somewhere between "spare some change?" and "ask me about my burgeoning fetus."

For someone who rarely sleeps, I'm finding that this Daylight Savings business is slapping me around more than one might expect. Sunday night I got four hours, the entirety of which I spent dreaming entirely in numbers. Long combinations of them, scrolling across my brain at warp speed. It was a completely foreign experience for me, and it was EXHAUSTING. More than a little discombobulating, like participating in a neurological boot camp against your will.

That being said, I have found one major perk to More Daylight Hours: impromptu photo shoots! JB asked for images to pair with some of his upcoming "National Day of" food events. Some of them are oddly specific: Pears Helene Day? What the hoo? But oatmeal cookie day is in there, and that was all the reason I needed to pick up some of the world's best oatmeal cookies at Publix.

These are from a local shop, Big Sky Bread Company, and they are spit-on-your-neck fantastic. The texture is amazing—dense and crumbly but still chewy and chocolatey. There's roughly a pound of brown sugar in each one. And the oats and whole grains give the flavor a sneaky complexity without tasting "healthy" (HEAVEN FORFEND). The best part? Someone else does the baking.

cookie cookie.

cookie cookie cookie.

cookie.

It's almost enough to make a person want to be awake during daylight hours. Then again, that would preclude my becoming a nocturnal mathlete, so maybe we're back to square one.
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*free flickr friday.

eat more pizza

Weekend as Plan: Clean house, drop off donated items, eat healthily, walk dog, sleep well, see long-lost friend (who moves to Kentucky? Geez.).

Weekend as Reality: Continue to deposit cast-off clothing in floor, cocktail too heavily, gorge on potatoes and cheesy bread items, sleep restlessly, grouch vociferously.

What are YOU doing this weekend?
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*eighty ate.

More food loveliness, for those interested in the finished products and how much better they could look if I had this camera. (Have I mentioned my deep and abiding and steamy lust?)

Orzo Salad

You can adjust the herbs/seasonings to your own taste—I skipped the mint, because it's not a flavor profile I prefer—but if you forget the basil you will regret it. Grape tomatoes and canned beans make it a year-round winner. If you invite me to your potluck, I will probably bring this. Or maybe this.

Detail 6

Vinegary Alabama Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Detail 4

Made with store-bought rolls because I CAN'T BAKE. Also due to time/transport constraints.

Detail 5

And in the end, it was all worth it.

Martha 4

Because this lady sparkles.

Martha 1

(photos courtesy of MW.)
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*tart failure.

I love how sometimes, things that aren't supposed to go together fit beautifully. Ebony and ivory. Sonny and Cher. Cold beer and chocolate chip cookies (trust).

It's impossible to overstate the goodness of that union of briny and sweet. I find it works best with big flakes of crunchy salt and sultry chocolate (remember these?). So when I saw this in Food & Wine, I knew all I needed was the flimsiest of excuses to make it.

Unfortunately, I forgot one teensy detail: I CAN'T BAKE.

Honestly, have I completely lost my mind? Don't answer that.

I don't know why I attempt these things. I need suggestions for something to use my KitchenAid mixer for that is NOT mixing, because I haven't had a baking success since August '08. And as you can clearly see, I define success as "able to be spackled together with frosting and envisioned as straight with one eye closed."

NOTE: It would not make a good planter. I can't garden, either. I am domesticity's enemy.

This experiment, though, was a truly phenomenal failure. (Toldja so.)

It all began with such promise. 1 stick of butter plus 3/4 cup crushed pretzels into the mixer.



Then 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar, 1/2 cup flour, and 1 egg. Then another 1/2 cup pretzels.



At this point it seemed incredibly wet for a dough. Alarm bells sounded, but I ignored them because I CAN'T BAKE.

Onto two sheets of plastic wrap, flattened into a disk, and into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.



When it comes out, you roll it out—between the plastic—to a 12-inch round.



Next, you peel off the top sheet of plastic wrap and gently place the round into your removable-bottom tart pan. (I used a springform pan because I don't have a removable-bottom tart pan. Though I do find removable bottoms, as a concept, quite appealing.)

This is when hell met handbasket. Holy mess. The dough was way too wet, and it and the plastic wrap had developed a completely codependent relationship. They were all, "I need you, I love you, I can't live without you!"

So I did what anyone who CAN'T BAKE would do: I glopped the gluey mess into the bottom of the pan and pressed it in, all the while knowing it would stick.

I blind-baked for 30 minutes, then baked another 10 to 15—in my case, 20—"until firm" (which it never became). Here's the finished product.



See, there's something not quite right about that. Let's take a closer look.



Yeah, those holes? That's not a good sign. But I blithely followed the recipe anyway, chopping 2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and melting it over low heat.



Then I brushed it all over the surface of the "tart," hoping it would seal any holiness. Holeyness? This was not a blessed endeavor, at any rate.



Still, I assumed it would pass the Joey test—sugar, eggs, flour, chocolate, pretzels ... all good.

So I made the ganache. A cup and a half of heavy cream plus 3/4 pound milk chocolate, chopped. I brought the cream to a simmer, pulled the pan off the heat, dumped in the chocolate, and let it sit for five minutes.



A quick whisk, and you have creamy, silky, I-think-I-could-drown-happy ganache.



I poured the ganache into the "crust," shoved the whole disaster into the refrigerator, poured myself a stiff drink, and did the dishes. YES, I DID.



I figured you'd need photographic evidence.

Speaking photographically, I wasn't able to take a picture of the finished product until we arrived at the beach, whereupon I absconded with the sister-in-law's miracle maker. Tell me I don't absolutely have to have this camera.

Detail 7

Ooooh .... Aaaaahhhhh ...

This shot was taken mere moments before the mother's husband had to hack away at the thing with a butcher knife in order to serve it. The sentence, "Move from there, I don't want to stab you," was uttered.

I CAN'T BAKE. Would someone please remind me of this the next time I get one of these cockamamie notions? I suppose it did, in a sense, pass the Joey test. People ate it. But it was painful to hear the CRACK! of the fork hitting the plate once it managed to conquer the tooth-breaking "crust."

So I'm afraid salty + sweet is out for now, at least as a product of the Woodside galley. I'll just have to indulge in my other favorite combo: K + cocktail.
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*snow day.

It snowed on the Woodside.




Frozen flakes. In Alabama.



No, I do not know if that signifies the apocalypse. No, I do not know where the other half of my clothesline is.



Yes, I drove in the snow. I only lost control of the car once. (Proud of ME.)



I might have been in a little bit of a rush. Look what awaited me, courtesy of JLB:

hash.

Crispy hash browns smothered with cheese and topped with perfect, yolky eggs.

that's all yolks.

I ate the whole thing. I figure I'll be fueled up for the end of the world.

UPDATE: It melted. LAME.

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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.

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