What I Learned This Week: #213

Monday, September 27 – Sunday, October 3, 2021

The Week in Saying Goodbye: This week my aunt Patti passed away, succumbing to an illness she didn’t share she had, until it was really too late to take action. I respect that stubbornness even though it’s rough for her children and closest friends. Our base family is very small. We’re all approaching elderliness and beyond. There’s is just one grandchild and he is the last of my Grandma and Grandpa’s (Minnie and Alvin’s) legacy. We rarely see each other but when we do all gather, we can all fit around the table at a Mexican restaurant, and we have the best time.

That’s what we did this week. We visited Patti in the ICU to say our goodbyes. Then we ate huge mid-west sized portions of Mexican food in a loud sports bar. Then we hugged it out and went about our separate ways. We’ll be together again a Patti’s wake in November. It’s weird having a family that actually gets along great, but never interacts. Maybe that’s why we get along great. LOL!

The Week in Hippie Music: My Aunt was a bit of hippie, at least compared to my Dad and their other brother. She was enamored with the Beatles from the get go, much to the chagrin of her Mom (my Grandma). I don’t think she saw the Beatles live, but she had all the albums and particularly loved Sgt. Pepper’s. The night before she passed, I listened to that album and then let Spotify take me into hippie sounds for the rest of the evening. Turns out, though I liked all the songs on Sgt. Pepper, I did not like listening to the album from start to finish. I don’t know why. I’m not the biggest Beatles fan. I like them and I appreciate them. But, I don’t know the Beatles catalogue, the deep cuts and that’s fine with me. And I do appreciate that Paul is still kickin’ it.

But I digress. I spent a couple hours in the 60’s/early 70’s and drank a toast of the good bourbon to my Aunt.

The Week in the Suburbs: I am a city person. I like being able to walk to places. I like the sounds and the close proximity of people. As for the suburbs, I like to visit. I like to park in a driveway of my friends’ houses. I like that the suburbs are darker at night than downtown. Also, semi-related, I like dogs, in the city or in the suburbs.

This weekend I got to spend the night with two suburban doggos while their owners went on an overnight trip. I treated it like a vacation. I sat on the suburban porch and drank beer. Because once I parked my car in their driveway, I didn’t want to go back out (see beer, above), I brought in a nice dinner. And when it was time to go to sleep, I relished in how dark the room was. Ahhhh. Nice. But in the morning, when there was no place to walk to get a cup of coffee, I knew it was time to go.

The Week in Semi-Poor Planning: I usually food prep on Sunday and this week one of my two meals was going to be a riff on a tradition Zuppa Tuscana. Great. Except I forgot the beans, cream, and broth I needed. I think I got too wrapped up in finding recipes and I must have blacked all of them out at the market. Soooo, I will make the soup tomorrow. Luckily, all the ingredients for the Italian Frittata, including some of the kale that will be in the soup, are in place. 50-50 on food prep this week.

By the way, I could have “saved” my food prep if, when I went back to the store to get beans and cream, I also picked up a package of chicken broth. But no. I’m very militant about making my own broth. The broth threw me off, but it will be ready tomorrow and the soup will come together quickly. As long as I’m the only one who is affected by this broth tantrum, I think it’s worth it. I someone else was waiting on soup tonight, you bet your processed box broth that I would have got it done!

What I Learned This Week: #212

Monday, September 20 – Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Week in Wardrobe Change: The season officially changed from summer to fall and, right on cue, I got to wear my first long sleeve shirt of the 2021 Fall Season. Of course, I failed to remember it was flu shot day at work so I got to get a little risque as I off-shouldered my long-sleeve for the shot…and for the people!

Also, at the change of seasons I do love that moment when I revisit clothes I haven’t worn in 6 months. It’s very sentimental!

The Week in Bangs: I get my hair cut every 6 or 7 weeks because I am an adult with a job around other adults and there is some social contract to look like I care what my hair looks like. I nominally care about the whole head of hair, but I am obsessive about my bangs.

When I get a new stylist I patiently explain they can do whatever they want with my head, but my bangs have to be straight, not too short, and preferably thinned out a bit. For a several years I had my hair cut by Kyle, who was probably my bangs’ soulmate. He’s too far away now and I have a new-ish stylist. She just had her third strike this week. She’s nice, but she is not doing my bangs any favors, and I think they miss Kyle.

The Week in Tie-Dye: Rosie’s Cocktails and Pies one of the worst named restaurants to come along in a while, luckily has very good pizza. And, it is very close to my office. On Friday I sat at the bar and had a beer while waiting for a pizza to go. Pie, and why I hate the name of the restaurant, is not generally used as a synonym with pizza in the Midwest. It’s a known synonym, just not a popular one. My pizza was the vegetarian Tie-Dye pizza which was both pretty and delicious. Also, they call it pizza, not pie on the menu, so I’m not sure anyone is committed to any part of the name expect/hope Rosie’s…which I expect will be the whole name soo.

Pizza Pie

The Week in Wedge: I was craving veggies all week and stopped into Sacred Beast for their Wedge salad. Wedge salads were something my Mom ordered when we went out to dinner in the 70’s. The wedge was a big hunk of iceberg lettuce with Thousand Island dressing and bacon bits. Thousand Island, I later learned is not the traditional wedge dressing. That distinction belongs to Bleu Cheese.

I started seeing Wedges again on menus a few years ago (with Bleu Cheese) and I order one up every now and then. Sacred Beast used romaine lettuce and pork belly instead of bacon and they add a jammy egg. It’s very chi-chi, but it really hit the spot. Also pictured below are their “hash browns” which is a potato casserole they cube and deep fry. I can’t expect all my vegetarian escapades to be 100% healthy!!

Wedge and taters

The Week in Percussion and Virtuosity: The Cincinnati Symphony presented their modern music weekend this week. At the Saturday show, composer David Lang came out to introduce his percussion piece, Man Made performed by Sō Percussion. The four man group created sounds from breaking sticks, to hitting wine bottles, to banging on garbage cans in a competition for sound from the full orchestra. Even though much of it was eclectic and innovative, much of it was quite familiar. Me and the couple sitting next to me enjoyed the piece very much even though none of us could explain why. Man Made was recorded on Saturday, and, as far as I can tell, it’s the first recording of the 2013 piece. That’s kind of neat.

Also on the program, Russian Pianist Danil Trifonov, who, unbeknownst to me, is quite a big deal in the world of classical music. I listened to him play Beethoven’s Concerto Number 2, and, although I don’t have the most astute or trained classical music ear, I could really tell he was killing it. I knew it for sure though the second the concerto ended and a group of very knowledgeable and appreciative audience members leapt to their feet for a rousing ovation. I love moments like that.

Trash cans in the pit

What I Learned This Week: #211

Monday, September 13 – Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Week in Covid Testing: The thing about getting medical procedures during Covid is you have to pass a Covid test to move on to the actual medical activity. On Monday, I dutifully went to the hospital for my free, doctor ordered, pre-“op” test. I was there the when the lab opened at 7 am. I got right in. The lady in scrubs then started to hand me the nose pick while she was telling me I had to do the test myself. I looked around to make sure I was, indeed, in a hospital. I was. I refused to do my own test, she didn’t explain anything else, and I left.

At work at asked recent Covid tested coworkers about this process, I watched a video, and called the office of the doctor who ordered the test. Turns out, I was not supposed to poke that stick into my brain like the previous tests I’d taken, I was merely meant to swab.

Oh. My bad.

I went back. Swabbed, not nearly as far back as the new tech seemed to suggest was necessary (as if I was going to make ownself uncomfortable!) and whatever I did, it was enough to get a negative rating and move on the the main stage.

The Week In The Colonoscopy Experience, by Good Sam!: The Colonoscopy part is nothing. The pre-game prep is really something. Two days before some food restrictions are put in place and that’s easy enough, but the day before is when the liquid diet kicks in. That takes some concentration.

First off, let me just mea culpa my fasting-liquid diet day but noting I woke up and ate a scrambled egg cooked in a non-stick pan with no oil. I figured if the Suprep Bowel kit couldn’t blow out a single egg, it was worthless. Plus, my procedure was scheduled for noon, a reschedule from 7:30 am, but with the same fasting time limits. I felt good about the egg at 6 am.

For the rest of the day, though, I had coffee, water, Gatorade, and some jello. I made it at work until 2 pm and then I couldn’t concentrate. At home, I opened the fridge a lot. A lot! The real, medical induced prep started at 6. I drank my 16 oz., astringent, cherry-tinged, diarrhea-inducing drink and 32 oz. of water quickly and, like I was living in a cartoon, my stomach made some funny noises and I was off to the toilet!

The next morning I took the second dose, and a repeat of activity. I felt great. Very alert. I mean, I would have killed anyone in proximity for a sandwich; but besides losing my moral compass, I was really feeling awesome. Process went off without a hitch. I got a ten-year ticket.

Worst Happy Hour ever. One Star!

The Week in Oktoberfest: Oktoberfest is back in person this year, with a few less vendors, but all the spirit, brats, beer, Dusseldorf mustard, goetta, sauerkraut, and chicken dancing that anyone could hope for. Prost!

Brat and Lederhosen!

The Week in Being Hip: I went to see Millennial, indie band Bleachers, at Ovation, the second of two new venues that opened during Covid. The outside side of the dual indoor/outdoor venue, is on top of a parking garage. It sounded great and the crowd, skewing young, was very enthusiastic.

In between the opening act, Claw, and Bleachers, one of songs that played was REM’s “End of the World as We Know It.” I knew I was in trouble as 1) I am programmed to scream “Leonard Bernstein” at the break in that song, and 2) hardly anyone else in the audience was in my age group. Sure enough, at the crucial moment, I mumbled ‘Leonard Bernstein’ and looked up to see a guy my age do the same thing, and both of us immediately looked down. We knew in an instant how old we were. Hilarious.

The Week in Using the Library: For all the exciting stuff that went on this week, I also did the most mundane, wonderful thing. I walked into the library to return a book, and then checked another one out. The library as it existed before Covid isn’t quite back, but I appreciate the simple joy of walking around until something peaked my interest.

What I Learned This Week: #210

Tuesday, September 7 – Saturday, September 12, 2021

The Week in Music – Indie: This week marked my return to attending an official (buy a ticket, go to a music venue) concert. St. Vincent (the musical name of entertainer Annie Clark) played the brand new Icon stage downtown. She sounded great. The staging was fun and three lively, and funky back-up singers added a nice layer to the sound and energy. This was also my first time having to show my vaccine card and masking was not widespread. This was also my first time buying a soda at a show where they would not let me keep the twist-off lid. Good to see that during a pandemic, there is some threat from capped soda that they are keeping me safe from.

The Week in Music – Classic Soul: Later in the week, I went to a free concert at Fountain Square, where Lee Fields and the Expressions delivered a classic soul show that pumped up the small but appreciative crowd. His band (trumpet, sax, bass guitar, lead guitar, and drums) got the show off to a funky start. And then, in classic soul tradition, one of guys stepped up to the mic and started chatting up the audience, “Are you ready to hear the classic soul stylings of Mr. Lee Fields? … I said, Are you ready to hear the classic soul stylings of Mr. Lee Fields… Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to the stage, soul sensation, Mr. Lee Fields.” And the music swelled and the dude bounded to the stage where he grabbed on to audience and did not let go. A fantastic show.

The Week in Music – Old Familiar Faces: The opener for Lee Fields was local blues guitarist Erin Coburn. I’d not seen her before, but she really ripped it up playing mostly original blues tunes and some very spot on covers. In the crowd, I hung out with one of my concert guys, Stu. I don’t know his last name and don’t need to as we only see each other at various venues around the city. Of course I haven’t seen him in almost two years, and we talked about being among the older concert goers. At MOTR, the place I see Stu the most, there’s a spot just off to the side of the stage where the older folks tend to gather. It’s affectionately known as “Old Man’s Alley.” Stu is 10 or 15 years older than me and he sees way more shows in a year than I do. At this show, someone asked if the performer was his daughter. He said he gets that a lot.

The Week in the Last Bottle: This whole week felt positive and lucky, and one of the moments I liked a lot was getting the last bottle of $14 wine that I’d taken to a friend’s house to dinner to rave reviews. Not much in the drinking realm makes me happier than plucking an unknown bottle of wine off the shelf and having it be not just good, but better than I expected. And at 14 bucks, I feel like an honorary sommelier. And getting the last one made me feel like I won some kind of wine contest!

Last Call

The Week in Beer and Tourism: Beyond getting deals on alcohol, I just love the social-ness of sitting at a bar and drinking with strangers. This weekend, at two separate bars, I sat next to folks who had some questions about downtown. I am one of the biggest Homers around and will act as the City’s unelected Ambassador at the drop of a hat. The first couple was from out of town and I made sure they took advantage of Nicholson’s Scotch selection, something they had not intended to do. Plus other tips, of course. At Arnold’s, I sat next to a couple who just live across the river and they were very curious for my list of good places to eat dinner. I happily obliged. And bonus, they gave me a place across the river to try. I’ll drink to that.

The Week in Bridal Parties: Late night sightings of bridal parties are always a treat. Those sweet girls who have been drinking and screaming for hours but just want to get one last bar in before closing time are my favorites. On Saturday night, I was walking home in that magic hour just before 2 am when the bars close and I came across a group of young women searching for their final destination. The were semi-lost and very drunk. One of them asked me if I knew where they were. I said I did. “Well, can you get us to Ma-Dough-Nose?” She meant Madonnas. I pointed them in the right direction and told them they were very close. “Oh, Thank God, ” she said. And off they went.

The Week in Here Comes the Colonoscopy: Next week, I’m getting my first colonoscopy, and this week, it’s all I can think about. I used to get aggravated when ALL old people ever talked about was their ailments, procedures, and prescriptions. Now that I’m edging into elderhood, I see that one of the reasons people talk about their body’s aging process it that it is a surprise. It’s a surprise to not be able to pop out of bed, or feel achy, or have any myriad of diagnosis, or have to take any myriad of tests. I actually don’t even want to take a any diagnostic tests, but I’ve scheduled the colonoscopy at the request of a couple of friends who took the test and had issues. I can take the test for them. But I gotta tell you, now that I’m committed, it is the only thing I want to talk about.

Anyway, part of the colonoscopy prep is a change in diet that is fairly radical for me. Two days before the test I can’t eat raw fruits or vegetables, nuts, or seeds, which I eat a lot of, or drink alcohol, which is part of my scene. Plus, I have to drink a sports drink, which is not part of my scene. The day before the test, it’s a near total fast where I can consume liquids and jello, as long as it’s not red. This is key: No Red Food/Drink. At the grocery, buying these supplies, I couldn’t concentrate. First, I couldn’t find sports drinks. Then I found ’em, and not until I got home did I realize one is red. At the jello display, where I haven’t been in years, I was so excited. I really like jell-o and picked my favorite flavors. Again, only at home did I realize only one of the three packs was colonoscopy approved. This is going to be a long week.

Too much red!

What I Learned This Week: #209

Monday, August 30 – Monday, September 6, 2021

The Week in, Whoa, September Already?: That’s it. On September 1, I simply could not believe it was September and summer was, essentially, over. I don’t think I drank enough gin and tonics or rum and cokes to make it FEEL like summer. Now it’s too late. Oh, and I guess the song of summer in my estimation is Stay, by Kid Laroi with Justin Bieber. At least I had a song of summer!

The Week in the Holiday Weekend Activity: To end the summer, I went out BUSY. Work got out early on Friday, so I had a Happy Hour with my coworkers. Then, I went and met a friend to visit her Happy Hour with her coworkers. Then I went to the Reds game and watched them get spanked by the Tigers. On Friday I went on an afternoon bar crawl, and then went to the FC Match to watch them lose in the 89th minute. Sigh. On Sunday, I went to a friend’s house to view the City’s biggest fireworks show of the year, the WEBN fireworks on the River. They were awesome. And then, one last thing on Labor Day proper, I went to a cookout. Now that’s getting the most bang for the buck for the holiday weekend.

The Week in Holiday Weekend Cooking: I got to do some holiday cooking, too. Not mentioned above, but on Saturday, my team at my part time job decided to bring in and share cookout food without the actual cookout. These folks can cook, so I did not want to hold back on my offering. I made Classic Coleslaw from the Serious Eats site and it was, hands down, the best mayo based slaw I’ve ever made. (I have a thing for vinegar slaw, but that’s for another time).

For the fireworks party I riffed on Chicken Cordon Bleu and made a Chicken Cordon Bleu casserole for the crowd. I cooked some cubed chicken and threw some Canadian bacon in that pan to pull out the extra moisture from the pork. Then I made a basic cheese sauce with Swiss cheese and a good glob of Dijon and dried mustard seeds. I seasoned it with salt, pepper, and thyme and stirred it together. In the casserole dish I topped the cheesy pasta with a Panko/Swiss cheese topping (seasoned with seasoned salt and paprika), and popped it in the oven. Turned out great.

And finally, and easier, for the Monday cookout, I took a dozen or so farm fresh tiny potatoes, tossed them in Penzey’s North Woods seasoning, a pinch more salt, and olive oil, and blasted them in the over at 450 until tender. Simple and delicious.

The Week in “The Court Street Experience”: The great Lords of real estate in downtown Cincinnati spent a lot of time and money remaking the traffic on one block of Court St. between Vine and Race. With expanded sidewalks and less lanes of car traffic, this could be an interesting, new space for downtown program, but right now it’s not much.

A new bar, Pilar, named after Ernest Hemingway’s boat open in a corner spot. It’s a neat looking bar, though nautical, much lest literary bars are rare here in the midwest. Also, my bartender was kind of surly and when I asked what drink I should try at Pilar, a cocktail forward bar, he grunted out, “Beer.” Okay, schmuck. I got a rum and coke as a compromise. The bar is brand new and it’s still Covid as far as service is concerned, so I will try them again.

Across from Pilar the new Burger place Bebo’s had the friendliest of counter help assisting me an my pals as we picked from a small burger and fry menu. I always start with the basic burger when I go to a new burger joint. And, honestly, I don’t really love a lot of extras on my burgers because they are too big to bite into and too messy. My basic burger was a real patty (like, formed by hand) and I liked it a lot. The other burgers on the table looked as big as my head, but got good reviews, too. The fries were well cooked and seasoned and that is a very good sign. The Court Street experience is starting off as a mixed bag. I’ll wait.

The Week in Old Co-workers I’m Glad to Run Into: Walking home from work I saw a man sitting on a stoop as I passed by and we greeted each other, but I kept walking. A few steps past, I turned back and asked if he used to work at TJ Maxx. He did and we knew each other and we spent a few joyous minutes catching up. Loved it.

The Week in Old Co-workers I’m NOT Glad to Run Into: On the other end of the spectrum, at a park in the suburbs, out of the corner of my eye, I saw an old coworker I instantly recognized and instantly know I did not want to get closer to. We had a very ugly end to our work friendship, but I still always wish the best for her. I kind of wanted to peek to see of I could glean any information without talking to her. It soon became clear that she had spotted me, and it seemed she wanted to see what she could see. Anyway, if you gave two first year acting students the assignment of “Pretend you don’t see each other,” it couldn’t have turned out worse than what me and this person did. Hilarious. And we did not make “official” contact. Whew!

The Week in Taffy: Finally, on a happy, end of summer note, a co-worker came back from their beach vacation with a bag of salt water taffy. It was soft, sweet, and delicious. I had a weird week with a abrupt summer end, but that tasted of taffy felt as good as good gets.

What I Learned This Week: #208

Monday, August 23 – Sunday, August 28, 2021

The Week in Mortality: Though I didn’t find out out about the death of one of my high school/college buddies until the end of the week, Joe’s death is my personal headline of the week. I had to miss the service, but I did make the post-funeral gathering that also served as a celebration of binding friendships. In our youth, we spent a lot of time together, and much of the group does. I am an outlier who didn’t get married or have children, or live a typical suburban life. We stayed in town, but went in different direction.

I don’t see this group that often, just enough to follow their life highlights, and same for them regarding me. Time separates, but memories bind. In remembering Joe, we ran through our greatest hits and it was wonderful. We’re not too young to be overly surprised by the death of a peer. We’re beginning to deal with our own aging issues and we talked about those all the while saying we never thought we were the people, like our parents, who did that. The circle of life is a funny thing.

The Week in Tour Guiding: This week brought another blast from the past when my college room mate and her husband (who I also med in college) stopped by from North Carolina on their way to Columbus. They stayed downtown and I got to show off my Cincinnati Savvy. They like bourbon so we got bourbon at Wise Guys bourbon bar. One is a vegetarian so we went to Pepp & Delores where there are several vegetarian options on the menu. And, they like good, classic rock with their beer, so we had a nightcap at a bar where the locals go, Knockback Nat’s. I’m giving my self an AAA rating. Fun night.

The Week in Drunk: I joined a new group (for me), the Downtown Resident’s Council, a group mostly made up of retirees and older downtown residents who have time to be very interested in what is going on downtown, and perhaps lend a helping hand. My first event with them was a social mixer this week. I grabbed my drink and found a couple neighbors from my building to sit with and immediately wondered why Rose was so chatty. Finally, as we were talking about how she doesn’t drink very much, she said, “I only had this one glass of wine, but I feel drunk.” I picked up the can (not glass) of beer she’d drank. It was 13.7 alcohol. Add that to the heat index in the upper 90’s and you can be sure we carefully walked her home, laughing the whole way.

The Week in Old Bananas: Another neighbor texted me this week to tell me she had two over-ripe bananas and asked if I wanted them. Of course I want your rotting food. I’m frugal. I told her to toss them in the freezer, something she hadn’t heard of doing. I went into cook-coach mode. Wednesday afternoon I texted here to take the bananas out and report for duty after dinner.

She came over and I had everything laid out. Even the oven was pre-heated. She said she wanted to do the work, as long as she got to lick the bowl and spatula. Deal! We made a banana chocolate chip teacake that turned out beautifully. I mean, I still don’t think she’s going to keep flour and baking tools in her house, but she baked a cake.

The Week in Veggies: Two bananas were the least of my produce worries when, on the way out of town, my out of town guests unloaded easily 20 pounds of produced into my kitchen. I could only get rid of three eggplants to a coworker and then I had to put on my frugal hat for real. The tomatoes went first. I peeled, seeded and froze those. On Sunday, one pound of okra went into Khoresh Bamieh. I looked up several versions of the recipe used the one linked, with some additional cumin and cayenne. I hope to roast and freeze the peppers tonight and/or pickle the remaining okra (there was a year’s supply of okra!). The mini eggplants are going to be roasted as a side dish tomorrow. The potatoes are going to have to wait until I regroup. Whew!

The Week in Puppy Chow: And somehow, in the midst of all this good food and drink, I volunteered to make a batch of Puppy Chow Chex Mix for my friend’s fundraiser. I had everything on hand except the Chex and Jif peanut butter. I love the mouth feel of Jif. I love that Jif reminds me of lunch at the pool when I was a kid. I do not like all the crap, especially the sugar, that is in Jif. For better or worse, I’m a natural peanut butter girl. Anyway, fear of over-processed foods aside, I bought the Jif and the Rice Chex and followed the very simple recipe. I even used the microwave to melt better, a total no-no in “real” baking. Of course, this wasn’t baking; it was dumping and stirring. I think it turned out fine. Now I have to find someone to take the rest of the jar of Jif.

Processed food at the end of the process.

The Week in Hope: My week of high and lows and a lot of cooking came to it’s social close this afternoon at the Cat Adoption Team’s (CAT) annual “Looked What the Cat Dragged In” Drag show. It’s CAT’s biggest fundraiser of the year and they work with the Cincinnati branch of Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who do their own good charitable work. After all the usual shenanigans that mark any good natured drag show, the Sister acting as the Emcee, Holly More-Men” had a few words. She talked about being a Mormon and growing up in Utah and how she was dismayed that the Mormon church had once again refused to recognize gay Mormons. She said unlike Ru Paul’s message that if you can’t love yourself, how can you love anyone else, Holly had a different message. “If you don’t love yourself, let me love you until you do. You are valued and cared for.” A lot of money got raised for the humane care of kitties, and a lot of goodwill was raised for the humanity of a marginalized group in the U.S.

Preachin’

What I Learned This Week: #207

Monday, August 16 – Sunday, August 22, 2021

The Week in COVID: The undercurrent of the Delta variant is starting to get me down. I am still going out, and, while I don’t wear a mask everywhere inside, I am back to carrying one with me and will put it on without a fight. I’m not purposely scaling back my social calendar, but my enthusiasm is just not there. Part of that comes from the potential of breakthrough COVID. We don’t know enough about the long term effects, much less why some people get it, and some of those people get it bad, and others don’t. I’d prefer to not get COVID until we know more. The other part of the lack of enthusiasm comes from the potential of having to deal with a person who wants to fight about masks, or politics, or anything frankly. Those folks are a real chore.

The Week in Comfort Food: My Aunt came into town this week for a not pleasant reason, and I wanted to make her some comforting food and decided on a dish her Grandmother made, a classic Jewish side dish Noodle Kugel. Noodle Kuugel, essentially a custardy casserole of noodles, can be either sweet or savory, doesn’t really have to be that custardy, and doesn’t even have to contain noodles. Therefore, it is a dish that will cause fights in Jewish families about how to make it with the correct answer always being “However Grandma Made It.”

I knew the “correct” kugel for my Aunt was the slightly sweet custard noodle kugel, like the one in Bon Appetit magazine I found from 2019. It is super easy to make featuring a dump of 1 container of sour cream and 1 container of cottage cheese. It’s the eggs that give it the custard feel. I keep mine not too sweet (you can certainly boost the sugar and cinnamon in this recipe) which, to me, makes the kugel work easier as a side dish. I’m ready to argue that may way (via my Aunt’s grandma) is best.

The Week in Book Club: My book club met this week to discuss the Pulitzer Prize non-fiction finalist Yellow Bird by Sierra Crane Murdoch. We thought the book was a mess, a real slog to get through, and so full of big ideas, that nothing got explained very well. I’m always curious about these extremely well-reviewed books that are just not really all they are cracked up to be. It seems the people who are in anyway connected to the book business, from writing, to producing, to selling, are in a bubble of trying to satisfy each other. Certainly, many popular well-reviewed books are really great, but time and time again, I’ve been burnt and Yellow Bird is just another example.

The Week in Book Club – A Side Note: As I told my book club, earlier this year I read the well-reviewed and 2019 National Book Award winner, Yellow House, by Sarah Broom. While I did like Yellow House better than Yellow Bird, House was still too long and lost its way. I’m going to try to read one more book in 2021 with Yellow in the title and see if I come up with a win!

The Week in Not Crying Over Spilled, uh, Coffee: When I first moved into my apartment a few years ago, a friend offered an area rug that she had ordered in error. We both agreed it was a little bland for my style, it’s brown, but it looked just fine. Every now and then I think about replacing it, but really, it is not a pressing issue.

This week I spilled about an entire glass of iced coffee all over the brown rug. I dabbed and waited for the rug to dry and mentally prepared, finally, to get a replacement. Turns out, I got a reprieve. Due to it’s brown nature, I can’t see where the spill hit. And I bet I have that rug around for another 3 years…at least.

The Week in Playlist Trauma: I grabbed a beer at MOTR and the Spotify playlist was outstanding. It was great mix of older artists (like late 50’s and 60’s) doing songs I’m not used to hearing. The playlist was built on the 1960’s English band with the unwieldy name Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, a band Quintin Tarantino “discovered” for his 2007 film Death Proof.

The “playlist” at MOTR was actually a Spotify radio station built on the band’s song Hold Tight. When I tried to play the playlist with the intention of getting similar to songs to what I heard at MOTR, my Spotify account used Hold Tight to play me English punk bands. I like English punk bands, but it was a far cry from the mellow oldies playlist I had anticipated. #trauma