Catchup.com

Once upon a more productive time, I used to do a catch up blog every month. Ah, the days when life was simple, unencumbered by the wild throws of admiration and attention that sudden success and fame brings. Continue reading “Catchup.com”

Searious Mussels

So Joel and I have been on a kick watching Kitchen Nightmares lately. It’s like the Hoarders of food shows, and I love it. Even if I do feel just the slightest bit shamed because the food Gordon Ramsay turns his nose at I’m usually like “DAMN THAT IS COVERED IN CHEESE AND IT LOOKS GOOD.” I have the most sophisticated pallet. Clearly.

But on one of the episodes, Ramsay was trying to choke down some mussels marinara*, and I was instantly hit with a craving for mussels. I’ve never made mussels on my own before, and I think I can count on one hand how many times I’ve eaten them. But the craving was sudden, ridiculous, and insatiable. One of those “if we don’t make these tomorrow I will cry” kind of cravings – seriously, Joel came home on Sunday night after an unsuccessful mission to find fresh mussels and I did cry**.

A few years ago when Joel stayed with me in the States, we took a trip to Montauk, NY. It was November, so there were exactly 18 people in the Hamptons, and even fewer in Montauk. We stayed in a shifty motel close to the beach, and googled restaurants until we found one that was locally famous and had the most insane name ever – Shagwong Tavern. I would have eaten there based on the name alone, but the reviews boasted the best seafood on the island, so onward we went.

Being near the Hamptons, I was expecting something a little more upscale. What we arrived at was a dank, dark, tavern that had been ridden hard and put away wet. One of those old restaurants that’s been around so long and will never not smell like cigarettes and bad decisions. We were welcomed to queaky plastic seats with American Indian fabric covered booths, crappy tables, and decor that hadn’t been updated since the mid 80’s. The bar was across from the dining room, where the clientele looked like they hadn’t been updated since the mid-80’s either – a mullet or two, curls crunched up with gel, guys wearing flannels with the sleeves cut off making out with girls in high waisted tight jeans, getting drunk and rowdy and playing pool, and everyone drinking Budweiser from the bottle. Needless to say I was no longer worried about wearing a zip up hoodie to dinner.

We ordered a bottle of wine, some entrees, and the steamed mussels to start. I wasn’t sure how to eat them, but I wanted to impress Joel so I just went with it. And fuck if they weren’t amazing. We ate until we were blind and made a lot of passing judgements at people. I think there was almost a bar fight at one point. And I remember being scared to use the bathroom. It’s one of our fondest date memories.

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Yummmmmm
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all the high class restaurants have Donate Blood cards at the table. Also random baby pumpkin.

Since Monday was a public holiday (woo!), we woke up and set out on a quest for fresh mussels. And later that night, we were eating a pan full of deliciousness. Joel came up with a garlic and white wine sauce that was basically magic, we had fresh sour dough, and it was damn good. We even cleared off the table to eat like real grown ups.

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About five minutes after we sat down…

Who knew mussels were so easy to make? All in all it was about 30 minutes of prep and cook. Normally, here is where I’d post the recipe, but Joel was at the helm and I was catching up on some work, so I have no idea what happened. Except vegetable stock was included at some point. And garlic. Oh, and white wine. And it took like 14 minutes to steam the mussels.

So there you go, world’s easiest recipe. Get some mussels and some wine and go to town!

 

*Until I moved here, I always thought marinara sauce was a plain tomato sauce. Nuuuupe. Continuing the seafood adventures kick, Joel bought a bag of fresh seafood mix and made a seafood marinara on Monday, complete with this badass tomato sauce that I once again didn’t pay attention to as he was making it, because I was once again catching up on work. But it was one of the best sauces I’ve ever had. I believe stock was once again involved. And parsley. And onions. And garlic.

So there you go, another awesome recipe to try this week.

**But really, what hasn’t made me cry this week? I need a vacation.

***No shame in my pun game.

Hello, love.

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This may look like an ordinary photo – but look closely.

Can you see ALL the dirty dishes I used to make baked spaghetti last night, the wrecked stove top and counter top, or the piles of recycling I wasn’t able to take down because of the rain? Nope. Neither can I.

There are few things better than coming home after a hard day to an already cleaned house. Especially when you made 99% of the messes. Oh, and delicious treats left for you on the counter – not bad.

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Cleaning up without asking and leaving treats you’ve been talking about all week are little things, and I believe in the little things. A random sweet message via text. A surprise treat at the end of a bad day. A un-prompted back scratch. A handwritten note. Remembering to serve ice cream with a little spoon, because they don’t like the big spoons with ice cream. Tucking in the bed sheets because you know they love it. A simple “I’m sorry” after a misunderstanding. Hell, the fact that I can even bring it up when my feelings are hurt is a little thing that I think is the biggest thing.

I live for these sweet gestures. Faults and cracks in the little things have been my downfall in the past. And now they just make me grateful to be where I am, and who I’m with. I came home wanting to eat my feelings. Now I’m gushing about love.

It’s the little things.

April Thus Far

So who is waiting to wrap a big fat DONE ribbon around April, quietly put it on the shelf and just pretend it didn’t happen? *raises hand*

I can’t remember a month where I’ve felt more – fragile – I guess is the best word. Hence the sporadic appearances here and everywhere else in the social spectrum. It’s been a tough few weeks. I’ve been on the receiving end of more pep talks than I have in years. But I’m happy to say that being more proactive and attentive to what I need has been helping immensely, so I’m just taking it day by day.

BUT – April hasn’t been all bad! For one thing, we watched so many episodes of My 600lb Life that I think I’m *thiiiiiis* close to cutting out all processed foods from my life. Joel has become Head Chef around here and we’ve never eaten better. I’ve been able to skype/Facetime/phone date with many of my nearest and dearest. And my most favourite person had a birthday. We celebrated with a doughnut cake, Game of Thrones, and a night with friends… and a resulting Friday night of pizza and sweatpants recovery.

Annnnd we just had an awesome three day weekend of good food, good movies (ok, and some terrible movies), and relax times (and let’s face it, obsessive cleaning and rearranging #stressed) in honour of ANZAC Day.

 

So here’s to the last few days of April – fingers crossed that it all starts to shape up.

xoxo

3 Years Ago

Three years ago today, at 6:30 AM, I landed in Sydney for the very first time. My best friend Odie picked me up from the airport, and we spent the day galavanting around the city and seeing sights.

Later that afternoon, we were having sweat pants and beers time in the apartment, and in saunters this tall, quiet looking guy carrying a case of Victoria Bitter and asking “Who wants to watch To Catch a Predator?”

He sat down to join us, and it felt like the three of us had been friends for years. And that feeling never dissipated. Not in the two weeks that followed, and not in the three years since.

The instant comfort and familiarity that I have with Joel is one of my many favourite things about us. I feel like I’ve always known him. And I’ll never not be excited to see his name come up on my phone, or to see him walk through the door at the end of the day. And I’ll never get tired of writing super saccharine drenched entries just about him. He’s been a life changer, and I am forever grateful.

 

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They say when you stop looking, you’ll find it. And it’s true. He’s my most favourite souvenir. Way to go, Universe.

Happy Birthday, Joel!

Big Joel had a Big Birthday yesterday!

And what a birthday he’s having. He took a holiday off work, which turned into a spontaneous trip to South Australia to see a once in a lifetime photo exhibition and personal tour of said exhibition by one of his heroes, Trent Parke. He picked up his pal Craig in Melbourne, and then they flew to Adelaide for the day to take in the sights.

Craig is a photographer, also. Go oggle his works!
Craig is a photographer, also. See for yourself!

Or, sight, as I learned. Apparently, there isn’t much to do in Adelaide besides the art museum and a bunch of sharks. But they did get an upgrade to business class on their flight, and Joel sat in front of Sia! No, he didn’t talk to her or ask her about Maddie. (Yes I’m frowning as I type this.)

That meant he was gone overnight, and didn’t return until late on the night of his birthday. Which gave me two evenings to make the cake that made Joel’s jaw drop when he saw it. I’ll go into the specifics about said cake later, but it was a fun, insane ordeal, and it reminded me how much I love baking. And it reminded me how much I love baking for other people. And how much I love celebrating my favourite Australian. Once he got home, plane tired and wiped out, we ordered pizza and opened presents and blew out candles and I told him I loved him about 4700 times. Because I do.

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Caramel cake with salted caramel frosting… mmm…
My favourite slice of handsome.
My favourite slice of handsome.
PAAARRRRTY
PAAARRRRTY

DSCF1680Oh, Joel. I’m so very happy you were born.

… and I’m so happy that we get delicious cake for the next few days. luv ju. xoxi

On the Subject of Meatloaf

Noooo, meatloaf. Not Meat Loaf.

The first meal I remember my mom teaching me how to cook is meatloaf. Somewhere in my storage boxes at home, I still have her recipe that she wrote out for me, on her stationary whose border had a mother rabbit in a dress, surrounded by [presumably] her baby rabbits in little clothing, saying “Motherhood is a hare raising experience.” I liked making meatloaf because it was my job to mash all the veggies and whatnot into the meat. It was gross. And awesome.

I remember eating meatloaf a lot as a kid, because my parents are mid-western and meatloaf is a mid-west staple. But I can’t remember the last time she made it. And as Joel and I were flipping through a cookbook my mom gave us, his eyes landed on a meatloaf recipe and he lit up. As I was about to find out, Joel is a meatloaf fiend. And since we had hamburger in the freezer, vegetables in the fridge, and up til then, no clue what to do for dinner, we decided on meatloaf.

Prepping it was gross and awesome like it when I was a kid–just mushing together a pile of cold hamburger and egg and cut vegetables, and topping it with tomato sauce. It looked like a pile of wet slop. But after two hours of baking, it was delicious.

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I didn’t take more photos, because I didn’t think this meal was going to be a success. But, shit. Meatloaf might become a regular thing now. I paired it with golden potatoes that I mashed with thickened cream and real butter. And it was so good.

What I didn’t realize until I put all the ingredients together is that 2 lbs of meatloaf can feed like, 20 people. Whoops. But now I understand why it’s a family staple. It’s easy to prepare, uses up your old veggies (or frozen veggies, even easier), is child friendly, doesn’t need constant tending, and will feed you for days. Like tonight, when we had fried meat loaf sandwiches.

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Meatloaf for days. Or as Joel put it, “Alright, second hand meat!”

Yeah… That quote is the only reason I wanted to post about this.

Enjoy!

Hattie’s Meatloaf
From Talk About Good
by Hattie Mae Perry

Ingredients:
2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs, well beaten
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 bell pepper, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pepper, more if desired
2 slices bacon (optional, I went without, because bacon is different here)
1 can tomato sauce
*I added carrot, celery, and corn, because vegetables are yum. I also added a healthy dose of Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning because yes. It goes on everything.

Mix meat, egg, onion, bell pepper, parsley, salt and pepper in a large bowl. When mixed, form into a 9 X 5 inch loaf pan.

Place the two slices of bacon over the meat loaf and cover with tomato sauce.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, or 170*C for 2 hours.
Approximately 8-10,000 servings.

Saturday Morning

Joel: “Oh, salt and pepper!”

Me: “Are you looking at my hair?”

Joel: “Yeah. It’s sexy. You’re like George Clooney.”

All I have to do now is grow out my beard.

Post Script:

“Joel, this is what George Clooney looked like when he starred on Roseanne.”

“Not cool, George. Not cool.”