What I Learned This Week: #254

Monday, June 20 – Saturday, June 26, 2022

The Week in Juneteenth: My main job recognized Juneteenth last year, but we did it at the last minute and the office was sort of open (meaning people who worked could get their time earned converted to time off). This year, Juneteenth was official. I was out and about running errands and had some nice chats with folks who appreciate the importance of the day.

The Week(s) in Putting it Together: Since the COVID lockdown, I’ve had a jigsaw puzzle going on my dining room table at all times. I usually do 1000 piece puzzles, and I just randomly put in pieces as I pass by they table or while I’m cooking. Normally, it takes me 4 or 5 weeks to do a puzzle.

For Christmas, I got a Lego puzzle and it has been on my table since March. That is moving me from 4-5 weeks to 4-5 months! OY! I’m just starting to see that the end is in sight. Also, all those yellow faces seems to be laughing at me. I’ve got to finish soon or they might start talking to me, too!

Lego Faces!

The Week in Support: My neighbor attended her first FC soccer game this week and I lent her my FC scarf. With the temperature in the 80’s at game time, she was unsure that wearing a scarf was a good idea. I assured her she might not feel cool temperature-wise, but she would feel cool supporting the team. I told just to wash it and, because I’ve noticed it’s my job to teach her domestic tricks, I told her to wash it in a laundry bag. Well, that threw her for a loop. She didn’t know what a laundry bag was. So, I told her and then I lent her my scarf, and a laundry bag. She supported the team, and I supported her growth as efficient runner of her household!

The Week in Alice: When I walk home from work, I take a circuitous route that helps me build up my step count for the day. On my walk home Friday, dressed in work clothes, swinging my well-used purple lunch bag, I passed a wide open new door to a brand new bar on Main St. It looked hip. I did not. I went home, changed clothes, and went to the new bar, Alice. It’s neat. Very eclectic. And since I was there on just the second day they were open, I felt like an influencer when I posted a picture on Facebook. Sure, I get it. Facebook is for old people, but I’m going for an elder millennial vibe!

Oh, when I asked the bartenders why the bar was called Alice, they didn’t know. We rattled of some pop culture Alice references (Alice in Wonderland, Alice in Chains) and I said there was a show in the 70’s called Alice. The twenty-something bartender said, “Before my time.” I said, “No shit.” LOL!

The Week in Raman: On Saturday I was just about to call it a day and have a single person’s evening, complete with an alcoholic beverage and some ramen. I have graduated from the cheap, American ramen packs that nourished me through college, and I now spend a couple bucks on imported ramen. They are often a surprise with packets of foodstuff I cannot always identify.

I had my ramen ready to go, water boiling and all, when a friend texted me about my dinner plans. I sent him this picture and asked him to intervene. He did. I went out to eat like a civilized adult…and I still have yet to see what exactly the kimchi in the foil pack looks like. Very suspenseful.


The Week in Farm Fresh: Sunday at Findlay Market I kept putting vegetables in my backpack with no plan at all. I just knew I wanted all the veggies and I knew I wanted to use the Jollof sauce, a locally made Jamaican sauce that is outstanding. I gathered up the bounty and the sauce, and the first half hour or so of my weekly food prep mostly involved me staring at my full kitchen counter. I ended up using the sauce with chunks of chicken, fresh peas, and spring onions. Then I cooked the green beans very simply in a little butter as a side dish for pork chops with fresh potatoes and spring onions. I still have broccoli rabe and baby eggplant left. I need to exercise some vegetable self control.

The Week in Fresh Tomato Snacking: I took a tomato to work to eat as a snack at my desk. I like to eat tomatoes like apples, or more similar, hard boiled eggs, simply biting and salting my way to the stem/core. Not to be too gross, but with a fresh tomato, you kind of have to bite and suck to keep the juices in check. Anyhoo, I’m at my desk biting and sucking away when I realize the large and that provides ambient noise in the office has gone silent. That tomato tasted great, but I’m sure I sounded like an animal to my co-workers. (The next day I brought a cut-up tomato!)

What I Learned This Week: #253

Monday, June 13 – Sunday, June 19, 2022

The Week in Starting the Day Off Right!: I whipped up a breakfast casserole to eat off of during the work week. My intention was to make a simple, frittata-esque dish, with just eggs, crumbled sausage, cheese, and sautéed onions. Then I realized I had some kale leftover from last week. In it went. Couldn’t have been more than a heavy handful. Still, every morning when I opened my breakfast container I felt like was living in one of those diets that makes you sneak greens into all your food…except it wasn’t sneaky at all. Kale was front and center! It did taste great, but I had to psyche myself for kale each day. That’s a lot of extra effort for breakfast, imho.

The Week in Sweat: A bit earlier than normal, high temps and high humidity made a visit for a couple days this week. Temperatures in the 90s slow everything down. Everyone wants to talk about how hot it is, and no one wants to move. A walk outside will give you a case of swamp crotch in a matter of minutes. Our AC at work was a little janky one morning, but it revived itself (and us) and we rallied. I like to think of June heatwaves as practice for August. Me and tank tops, fans, icepacks, etc., are ready.

The Week in Cajoling: I was meeting friends for dinner this week on Thursday. They told me they had searched Open Table and there were no openings for six people downtown. No openings! Well, that could not be true. So I picked the restaurant I wanted to go to, Madtree’s Alcove, walked in at about 5:45 and turned on the charm to see if they could possibly squeeze 6 of us in at 7:45. They hemmed and hawed. I cajoled. And…I got us a table. My instincts were right. We had a great dinner!

The Week in Geeking Out: I got to see a concert of Taylor Swift music…sans Taylor Swift. A production company is using local musicians (string quartets) all over the country to perform intimate, candle lit shows, held in small, pretty spaces and featuring music you can’t help but know. Here in Cincinnati, they’ve already had a show of Queen music, and one of Vivaldi, but I was waiting to take my friends’ 16 year old to the Taylor Swift show. The show, and the teenager, did not disappoint. They performed 11 songs, and at the beginning of each one, I got a version of “EEEEEEK!” from the teen. And, to be honest, maybe I eeked a little, too. Super fun.

Oh, and for all you Jewish Mothers out there, they candles were fakes!

Candle lit and Swift

The Week in Reds Concessions: I haven’t been able to work as many Reds games as I’d planned in my 2022 Summer Gig at the stadium, and all of my shifts so far have been in a grab and go stand in a spot in the stadium where high end season ticket holders sit. My tips haven’t been great, and I get it. The Reds concession prices are abusive and I was working a virtually self-service stand (I had to check id’s for beer and open the cans). It was still fun.

For this weekend’s homestand, though, they placed me at an adult slushy bar on the main, terrace level. I was actually pouring drinks, and, thankfully, the tips poured in as well. It was a GOOD weekend.

The drinks, like everything in the stadium, are very expensive. Still, there were a few people who came back three and four times, which the cheapskate in me finds astounding. It also amazes me that a few people didn’t have their ids with them. I couldn’t serve them* and I wondered why anyone, in modern America, would go anywhere without an id, not to buy alcohol, but, and this is awful, but to help identification should there be some type of violence. Ugh!

*And I mean, I really can’t. Reds staff monitor alcohol sales closely, and I’m assuming with cameras. When my section buddy walked away to use the restroom, two Reds employees were at the stand helping me within a minute or so. I actually find that reassuring. With the alcohol flowing and the crowd ebbing and flowing, anything can happen.

Cute, but costly!

Heroes of the Day: It’s not all potential gloom at the ballpark. In fact, it’s neat to see how many people love the game and the home team. It’s fun to see the jerseys of the opposing teams, to hear people singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and to see people just having a great time. At Sunday’s game a young man, maybe 12, and his grandpa walked by. I knew this because they were wearing matching shirts that said something to the effect of Nick and Grandpa’s 2022 Ballpark tour. They stopped to tell my about their plan to go to all the MLB stadiums this summer, and they are doing it, based out of southern Florida, by motorcycle. Great American Ballpark is their 8th park this summer. Very, very cool.

What I Learned This Week: #252

Monday, May 30 – Sunday, June 12, 2022

The Week in Aging: The first week of this here recap was marked by my Mom had her first senior medical moment, and at 81, she really put it off about as long as one could home. She spent a couple days in the hospital, and is now back home and on the mend. Hospitals are weird places. I expect I’ll have a couple more in-patient trips with her as she continues on her journey, not that it will get any easier, but we’re on our way.

The Week in Good: Not every day is good, but there’s good in every day. While Mom was in the hospital I found a lovely Moroccan restaurant across the street. We got all the love from friends and neighbors. Found out one of my Mom’s friends, who isn’t great about returning phone calls, is quite the texter. (My Mom doesn’t text, so she never knew.) We had great care from the hospital staff.

Weirdly, a buddy of mine was in the room next door, so we all got extra visiting duty in. Cincinnati really is a small town/city.

And, we got to pat ourselves on the back for having installed chair lifts a couple years ago…elsewise, we could have never gotten Mom back in the house. High fives all around!

The Week in Food – Recovery: I stayed at my Mom’s house for a few days after her hospital release, and though she had very little appetite, she really liked that I came home from work and put dinner on the table. I started with homemade chicken noodle soup which she nibbled on for lunch every week. Chicken soup is both a love language and a medical one. It did good work. Her favorite was the sheet pan pork loin, brussels sprouts, and potatoes, a meal that comes together in less than 15 minutes. It’s one of my favorites, too, and I got a kick out of cooking for someone else.

The Week in Food – Sharing: At my part-time gig, there’s a regular crew of us who come in to work in the back room on Saturday mornings. One of the guys loves to cook and occasionally, out of the blue, brings packed lunches for all of us. This week my container had a grilled rib, a chicken wing, several pieces of brisket, and potatoes. He handed about 10 containers out, because he loves to grill and he loves to feed people, something he says his grandma taught him. His food is delicious, and if I ordered that same thing from the bbq place I go to, they would have charged me at least $16. When I see him wheeling in a box of food and he starts handing it out, my heart grows three sizes.

The Week in Eco-Heroes: My full time job is at a non-profit, and we are always asking for $. This week we mailed out our annual report to folks in our donor data base. One of those guys called me this week to get his name taken off the mailing of the annual report. He said he would still donate money, but having to receive the annual report, which comes wrapped in plastic, is too wasteful for him. He isn’t our biggest donor, but he immediately became my favorite.

The Week in Opera: Opera season is here, and the Opera company is prepping their July season. The first show is La Boheme, and this weekend, Music Hall welcomed the public to tour the theater, including walking onto the rooftop set of La Boheme. That was pretty cool, and I both overcame my desire to attempt an aria, and I did not follow the plot line and die of consumption.

Later the same day the Opera put on a free concert in the park outside Music Hall, previewing selections from the 3 main stage operas and other tunes, with singers from all 5 shows. It was a beautiful night and now I’m in the mood for a summer of overwrought opera emotion.

The Week in Low-Key: With my Mom in the hospital and a lot of my main social group quarantining from COVID, it has been a very quiet two weeks. The days I spent at my Mom’s house were just a blur of driving, cooking, and watching TV. Those days went very quickly and very differently than my usual shenanigans. I know that care-taking is brutal and I got my first glimpse of it this past week. It’s anyone’s guess what the end of my Mom’s life will look like…we’ve been hoping for a small meteorite to hit her house (and only her house). Barring that, she could go in a split second, or linger for years, with or without her brain or physical well-being. I’ll be there to the end. I don’t have to love the sacrifice, I just have to do it. And I’m sure when I get there, I’ll find some good, because there always is.

What I Learned This Week: #241

Monday, May 23 – Sunday, May 29, 2022

The Week in Poison: I’ve been buying freshly ground peanut butter for years. I get it at the farmer’s market and it’s delicious. I grew up on Jif though, and, while I don’t buy it, sometimes I get a hold of some (usually a friend’s house) and I can not resist eating a spoonful, and relishing in that luscious mouthfeel. It brings back my childhood.

A couple weeks ago I did buy Jif to use it in a recipe to make “Puppy Chow” also know as “Muddy Buddies,” which calls for melting chocolate, butter, and peanut butter and tossing it on Rice and Corn Chex. I don’t even like it. It’s too sweet for me. But, it’s simple to make and I bagged it up for my friend to use at her fundraiser. I gave the rest of the jar of Jif to a coworker (after my obligatory spoonful) and went back to my crunchy, fresh peanut butter.

On Monday, that coworker was at my desk first thing in the morning. “Are you trying to kill me?” she asked. Uhh, what? Turns out, the single jar of commercial peanut butter that I’ve bought in the several years was recalled for potential salmonella contamination. Damn. No one got sick, thankfully, but that was a wild piece of news to start my week.

The week in Non-Stick: I mostly cook on non-nonstick pans. That fond (browned bits) at the bottom of the pan create a flavor bomb. But for breakfast cooking, I like a nonstick pan. The one I’d been using for years finally got too “chippy” for me. I did the research and bought the Tramontina pan recommended by Wirecutter, The New York Times consumer review section.

I didn’t realize how much my old pan had deteriorated. It still worked just fine. But the first morning with my swanky new pan, I realized I had forgotten what nonstick pans could do. My first flick of the spatula sent eggs flying. Whoa! I had to adjust my technique. I’m irrationally pleased with my pan!

The Week in Taste: Pearl Star, which I mentioned here recently, currently has the best fresh oysters I can find in Cincinnati, where the nearest ocean is a 10 hour drive away. I’ve been going there frequently enough to know the menu and asked why the “foam” oysters (oysters dressed in a citrus foam) weren’t on the menu. The answer was, they got a new chef who is concentrating on fresh, bright flavors. The dressed oyster she prepared was exactly that, citrusy and bright. Really delightful.

Weirdly though, for a restaurant that really hits all the marks, the house wine is a dud. I’d not ordered their house wine before, but I’ve never been disappointed by house wine from a restaurant I like. Until now. It had a weird aftertaste. I asked if it had turned. The bartender said, “that’s the way it’s supposed to taste,” and added she didn’t like it either. Well, that’s a piece of info she could have shared! Anyway, she gladly pitched the wine and poured me a glass of white that, get this, tasted just fine.

The Week in Aging: A couple weeks ago, my foot started to hurt. It feels a lot like the same pain I had when I dislocated my heel as a teenager. Because of that, I assume I’m experiencing arthritis. I kind of hope that, or something similar, is the case, because, though it sucks, I will be dealing with a pain management issue. But, until I know for sure (via a soon to scheduled foot doctor appointment), I’m trying to not over extend. This weekend I was set to go to a three-day music festival in Louisville, and decided to eat my ticket and stay home. I allowed myself a little time to mope and be cranky about my first old age ailment. And then I bought a new pair of shoes and moved on.

The Week in Not Acting My Age: Saturday day-drinking went a little off the rails for me when, plenty drunk enough, I walked by a friend sitting outside at the Hub, and joined him for more drinks. I believe he left at some point and I sat and talked to some very progressive, smart dudes. And drank. Anyway, one of my tell-tale signs that I’ve had too much to drink is that I wake up in my street clothes, not sleep clothes. That hasn’t happened in years. Well, reset the count to zero, ’cause it happened this week. Oy. Pretty much made Sunday a waste which is why I try not to drink like a 21 year old frat boy. Oh well. I had a great night.

The Week In Organization: I’m a little behind in switching out my winter clothes to the summer clothes, mostly because each time I’ve tried to finish it, the temperature drops and I need a sweatshirt or long sleeve shirt. This weekend I decided to just do it. I should note, this switch over is a big deal in my household. I call it “Touch Every Sock” because I literally touch every piece of clothing I own even if said clothing is not part of the switch. The Goodwill box gets filled up and I feel in control of the closet. Also, I take everything out of the closet and mop the floor. It’s quite a production. When I’m not out drinking with people half my age, I make a fairly competent adult!!

What I Learned This Week: #240

Monday, May 16 – Sunday, May 22, 2022

The Week in Salt: As a home cook who uses fresh ingredients, I use salt, sparingly, but often. Seasoning as I move through the steps of recipes, a pinch here and there, I have learned to balance the need for salt to bring out flavors, but not to bury the freshness of what I’m cooking. Still, whenever I bring food to my Mom, she regularly says, “it needs salt.” Everyone’s a critic.

I was surprised this week when the bok choy and mushroom stir fry I made turned out to be nearly as salty as the last crushed potato chips sitting at the bottom of the bag. Salty! But I don’t know exactly what happened. This stir fry was followed by a lentil soup that I accidentally over-salted (went in for a pinch of salt, took too much, and dropped it in the pot before I could regain control). At least I knew specifically where things went south. Anyway, the bok choy was ridiculously salty, the lentil soup was probably normally salty, but my taste buds were probably blown. Also, for a day or two, though I didn’t measure it, my blood pressure was probably having a moment, too. I’ve cooked since, and am proud to report, my seasoning is back under control.

The Week in No Scrubs: I bought a new new work shirt. It liked the pattern, but it was kind of a shapeless cut, one I thought I could live with. I also though that a spin in dryer would shrink the shirt just a pinch which would have been just fine. Welp, he dryer trick did not work. I attempted to put the shirt on to go to work. It looked like I was wearing weird scrubs. I do not work in a hospital. The shirt is now in the Goodwill pile. End of story. #FashionisHard

The Week in Knives, Trees, and Decency: Walking around downtown, no matter what time of the day, or what day of the week, always presents the potential of weirdness. Walking back to my office at lunch, I looked ahead on the sidewalk and saw two guys who appeared to be throwing a knife at a tree. The knife was bouncing off…it looked like a kitchen/table knife…and the guys would pick it off the ground and try again. I determined that these guys were not dangerous, and I could keep walking. (I mean, I also determined they weren’t that bright, but if I had to change routes for every not bright person on the sidewalk, I’d never get anywhere.)

About the time I made my decision, I heard a woman’s voice, “Ma’am.” I looked behind me on the sidewalk, and no one was there. “Ma’am,” this time more insistent. I stopped and from the side door of the shop a lady asked me to come inside, which was unnerving. Then she explained she had been watching those guys throwing knives at the trees and she thought I was in danger. She had me come in the side door and go back out the front to re-route me from the knives in trees situation. I didn’t think I was in danger, but that was damned decent of her to be looking out for me.

The Week in Travel: Since moving downtown, I have become quite the downtown snob. I don’t like to drive (If I didn’t have to take care of my Mom, I wouldn’t have a car), and I don’t love the vibe of the suburbs. So, if I agree to get into my car to meet someone in the suburbs, that says a lot about how much I like that person.

I spent Friday at work bitching and moaning about my impending rush hour drive to Mason, practically the northernmost suburb that can still consider itself “Cincinnati.” After taking a large deep breath, and then mumbling under my breath for 45 minutes, I made it to the restaurant, parking my little urban use car in between two large SUVs. Luckily, for a 5 pm Friday drive, the trip was uneventful. I had a great time with my buddy who had come up to take care of his mother for a week. Expectedly, the road fairies could not let me have both ends of my “commute” be easy. On the way home, traffic slowed for a while because of a traffic accident. Of course it did. Have I mentioned how much I hate driving? LOL!

The Week in Balance: For the last couple of weeks, pans have been sitting slightly askew on the front burner. That hasn’t been a big deal for soups and one pan dinners, but my morning egg breaks for the lower left where it pools, awaiting my spatula. Annoying.

I’ve been pulling the burner out and plugging it back in hoping that maybe, just maybe, I hadn’t pushed it in all the way. I should note, there is something satisfying about laying my splayed hand out on a burner, but I couldn’t get it level. Finally, I noticed a tiny screw. Oh! This is a new thing to try. I tightened it and the burner balanced. Victory is mine…and my breakfast eggs!

Tiny Screw, big results

The Week in Wine: One of first events to be cancelled in 2020 as the Pandemic shutdown began, was the Cincinnati International Wine Festival, an event me and two of my friends had been going to for over 15 years. I remember texting them saying I thought the event was going to be canceled, and they both responded that I was wrong. We laughed about that this week as we attended the (much scaled back) 2022 edition of the Festival.

The weekend includes all types of wine-related events, but what we like are the grand tastings. In the grand tastings we get one wine glass and access to try nearly 400 wines. When we first started going, there wasn’t any food and we’d just get trashed. Now there’s food (and we *may* be a little older), and we are drunk, but happy. I did find a couple wines to look for over the next year, which is the underlying point of going to the event. My surprise wine find was a better than average Prosecco. I don’t mind Prosecco, but it’s not my thing. I tried it: I liked it.

What I Learned This Week: #239

Monday, May 9 – Sunday, May 15, 2022

The Week in Hair: This week’s hair fiasco is 100% my own doing. My regular guy moved to the suburbs and, even though he’s great, I don’t want to drive to get a haircut. I’ve been flailing with mediocre cuts for over a year, including a couple so-called stylists who did not, in my humble opinion, know how to properly cut my bangs.

Overdue for a cut this week, I impetuously scheduled a style/wash/haircut at the salon closest to my office. Their website was down, but I know that for a simple cut, I would be out around $75, including tip. That is what I expected, but that is not what happened. In other words, the $100 haircut I’m sporting, while properly cut, is kind of killing me. $100! Wow! I look good in my grief, though!

The Week in Music – Flashbacks: My buddy scored last minute tickets to the New Kids on the Block Mixtape tour, featuring En Vogue, Salt n’ Peppa, and Rick Astley. NKOTB were hot during a time when I’d pretty much given up on pop music. I know their biggest hits, but I’m not like the hoards of women at the show who sang along to every song. Also, I’m not much of a “legacy band” concert goers. I’m not against seeing folks who aren’t recording new stuff, I’m just not terribly interested.

This show, though, was a blast. Each group came out twice for a couple songs each, with NKOTB starting and ending the show. They all looked liked they were having fun, and they sounded great. And, because I tend to only go and see new artists not old artists, this was the first concert in a long while where the audience was my age.

The Week in Music – Classical: I skewed a little younger in the age demographics on Saturday at the Symphony where, even though I’m in my 50’s, I’m just a young thing. LOL! Rachmaninoff’s Third was the showstopper for the last show of my 2021-2022 subscription. I got to sit in between two of my favorite seat mates Ms. Lilian, and the lady from Chicago (whose name I don’t know). Both of them used to come with their husbands, and now they come alone. They are very sweet and eager to chat. They are my symphony bonus.

The Week in Music – Healing: For someone who doesn’t go to legacy act shows, I got my fill in this week by ending my musical week seeing The Who at TQL stadium. The Who last performed in Cincinnati in 1979 when 11 kids were trampled to death as the crowd tried to press into the arena. Three of kids were from my high school, and alumni have been working for years to honor the memory of our classmates with a memorial and scholarship fund. The group has also been working to bring The Who back to town.

At the concert, which the band donated their pay to the memorial fund, the tribute to the 11 kids was very moving. As Love Reign o’er Me played, pictures of each one flashed on the screen, you could hear pockets of people around the stadium cheering for their person. In 1979, grief counselors were not a thing. I think for a lot of people, the show brought a lot of healing.

And the show? Meh. I’m glad they used local musicians, including several from my old high school. The sound was good for us, but Roger Daltry said they were getting a delay echo from a part of the stadium TQL didn’t put on sale, a part of the stadium made up of benches, not seats. (The Who’s show was the first concert in the 2 year old stadium.) Townsend can still play. Daltry doesn’t have the stamina, but he was trying. To assist him, they played a lot of their instrumental stuff, and less hits than I would have liked. I’m glad they played, one of my youthful anthems, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” but that song is different when 80 year olds sing it.

The Week in Greek-ish: As I was planning my meals for the week, I decided I wanted something Greek-ish, that is, I was going to make something American that would have Greek seasoning, feta, artichokes, and black olives. And I needed it to be fast for my busy weekend. I couldn’t find a specific recipe that met my mood and timeline, so I made one up. I started by seasoning bone-in chicken thighs, with Greek seasoning, and tossing them (skin removed) into the instant Pot with chicken/spinach sausage from the market. I threw in a sliced red pepper and red onion, and marinated artichokes from a jar. I took that reserved marinade and built the flavor adding salt, red wine vinegar, more Greek seasoning, and poured that over everything. Cooked on high pressure for 15 minutes. Served with crumpled feta and sliced cucumbers. My big fat Greek-ish American dinner!

The Week in East Coast: Last year I noticed bars downtown were carrying Narragansett Beer, a beer I’d not heard of, and the price point was low. I tried one. I liked it. It’s a very well-balanced lager, perfect for summer drinking. I don’t know why downtown Cincinnati has become a local champion of beer from Rhode Island, or why it’s priced so low (a buck or so cheaper than other beers). Weird, cheap beer happens occasionally, though. A few years ago, the cheap beer was Hamm’s. You can’t find that anywhere now. I’ll ride the Narragansett wave this summer.

The Week in 513: My area code is 513. This week featured May 13th (5/13), a beautiful sunny day, and I celebrated by eating lunch at Avril’s. Avril’s butcher sets up a grill for lunch in the summer, serving up brats, metts, and dogs. I had a brat, with spicy mustard and sauerkraut, my first brat of 2022, and man did it hit the spot. I’m going to eat a lot of brats at festivals all over town this summer. I bet few, if any, will be as good at the 513 brat I had this week.

What I Learned This Week: #238

Monday, May 2 – Sunday, May 9, 2022

The Week in Cinco De Mayo: Cinco de Mayo isn’t high on my list of “must celebrate”* but, if nothing else, I try to take advantage of the inevitably timed sale prices on Mexican food ingredients to cook some Tex Mex at home. This week I made cheese enchiladas with a chili gravy. The dish came together quickly, or would have, but I ran into a cheese crisis**…the one crisis you don’t want to have when making cheese enchiladas.

Once I solved that crisis, the second dish I made was what Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger call Drunken Chicken and what I call Tequila Sunrise chicken. Sauteed chicken is nested in a sauce made with pureed roasted chili peppers and orange juice, chorizo, and tequila. The dish is a pleasant green and it tastes great.

By Thursday, though, actual Cinco de Mayo, I had hit a brick wall on consuming Mexican flavors.

*Even though Cinco de Mayo isn’t on the “must celebrate” list, I still was cranky that my part-time job scheduled me that night. They also scheduled me on another low-level holiday, St. Patrick’s day. That’s just cruel. LOL!

**I pulled out a block of cheese that expired in August of 2020! I know for a fact that my cheese drawer has been empty numerous times over the past year and I cannot figure out the deal with the very old cheese. By the way, it didn’t smell bad, it looked funny. So, mid-cheese-enchilada prep, I turned off the preheating oven, covered up what I could, and I walked to the grocery. Everything was fine. Just a little more drawn out.

The Week in Rain: Friends from out of town were in for a wedding this weekend and I met them for dinner at Moerlein House, one of my go-to spots. On the walk back, a squall of rain blew in. I had time to duck by a building to pull out my umbrella, and quickly assess my situation. That assessment came down to this question: Should I continue my walk home, or should I slip into the nearest bar for a drink until this blows over?

The drink won! (No surprise!) I drank a nice tempranillo wine while the storm blew by. Very civilized.

The Week in Leadership: As I continue my fun summer job selling concessions at the Reds stadium, it seems they like my work ethic. They asked if I wanted to be a Team Leader. I was like, I don’t even want to know what that is, I don’t want to work harder. This is supposed to be fun work, not work work.

The Week in…You Gotta Hit the Button: While I was ruminating on my slow-ish week and trying to pad this post, I meandered away and forgot to click “publish.” After further review, I’m okay with my slow week. And I’m just gonna hit the button…