Tuesday, September 24, 2013

salsa df: the perfect combo of tomatillos, avocado, cilantro, & garlic

the most common question i was asked before, during, and after my move to mexico was, "why mexico?" my answer: i love tacos. you may say that's not reason enough to pack up your life and move thousands of miles, but i would disagree. the tacos in mexico city are some of the best you'll ever have in your life; the al pastor ones in particular. a slice or two of miscellaneous marinated meat roasted on a spit, a couple small chunks of pineapple, cilantro, onion, and salsa on a tiny corn tortilla. amazing. i could eat them by the bucketful. 

since moving back to the states, rcg and i are constantly on the lookout for al pastor tacos. no such luck. but i was recently taught how to make the famous mexico city salsa. and while that won't make my beloved al pastor tacos appear, it will make all of my food taste a little better. especially since there are only six ingredients and the recipe is crazy easy. 


salsa DF:
3-4 lb. tomatillos + 2 white onions + 6-8 jalapeños + 1 head of garlic + 1 avocado + bunch of cilantro

clean and halve the tomatillos. chop up the onion into chunks. halve the jalapeños. keep the seeds if you want a spicy salsa, or throw them away for a milder version. 

use a griddle or flat pan to roast the tomatillos, onions, and jalapeños. 

put the roasted tomatillos, onions, and jalapeños in a pot or blender with the garlic, avocado, and cilantro. blend until the salsa is smooth and creamy and there are no lumps. 

**note: if you use less tomatillos, use only half of an avocado -- if you use much more, the salsa won't be creamy so much as chunky.

**note: this recipe makes a lot; i was a ditz and didn't measure how much though (probably makes close to 8 cups). but this would be perfect to bring to a house party or pot luck. plus, it has many uses: salsa, veggie dip, salad dressing, or meat marinade. 

thanks to bmcg for teaching me how to make this. you've revolutionized my world.

Monday, September 23, 2013

my experiment with corn syrup & lime cilantro sorbet

after we finished shopping for my wedding dress a couple of weeks ago, we stopped into a cute little gelato place for a quick snack. they had such fun and weird flavors -- hot pepper, basil lemon, thai coconut milk, pineapple mint, black sesame, etc. -- that we had to try some. and i think i've found my new favorite flavor: lime cilantro. it's amazing: refreshing, delicious, and unique. 

when i got back home, i decided to try and make it. the only problem was that i'm still baffled by gelato; is it ice cream, sorbet, some where in between? i decided i would make sorbet instead. plus, i wanted to try out something new i learned: using corn syrup makes smoother, less icy sorbet. i was skeptical, mainly because i'm skeptical of corn syrup, but it was worth a shot. 

my experiment totally paid off. the sorbet is creamy, smooth, and not at all icy. a total 180 from the way my sorbets normally are. and it only took a tiny bit of corn syrup. 


lime cilantro sorbet
1 c. fresh squeezed lime juice + 1 c. water + 1 c. sugar + 1/4 c. light corn syrup + lime zest from a couple of limes + leaves from one bunch of cilantro + 1 tbsp. sugar

mix lime juice, water, sugar, corn syrup, and lime zest. make sure the sugar dissolves -- to do this you may have to put the whole mixture on the stove for a little.

mash the cilantro leaves and a tablespoon of sugar together until the cilantro is pulpy. 

mix the cilantro mixture with the lime mixture. use a blender stick to get the cilantro leaves small. 

put the whole mixture into the ice cream maker.  


Friday, September 20, 2013

2013 -- week in the life -- naked sunday


there's a change coming, a change in the way we view and love our bodies. and the militant baker, a tucson blogger, is at the forefront of that movement. she made waves a couple of months back for her scathing letter to the head of abercrombie and fitch in response to his comments that a&f is only for the cool kids. she even did a rad "attractive & fat" photography campaign styled after a&f's ads. she got a lot of press for the letter and the photos, and rightly so. she's fighting against the idea that skinny is the only sexy, an uphill battle for sure. but she's a spitfire, full of energy and resolve, and it'll be hard to keep her down and unheard. she's revolutionary and people are digging it.

this past sunday i had the opportunity to participate in some serious communal body love -- i hung out with over 60 beautiful women at a naked photo shoot for jes', aka. the militant baker's, book proposal about body love and loving the body we're in. each woman had on a pair of white undies, and nothing else. and it was amazing. i've never felt more empowered in my whole life. everyone in that room was accepting of one another, supportive, encouraging, and vulnerable. everyone in that room agreed that no matter what their body looked like, it was beautiful and it deserved praise and love.

i could go on and on about how amazing this experience was, but i think i'll let jes tell the rest of the story,  she tells it so well.

please take the time to read this; everyone has something they're insecure about and it's not a new idea she's preaching, to accept and love your body, but the militant baker is taking the world by storm with this message and i'm so glad i was able to be a small part of her battle. come join the revolution with us and as she would say, "change your world, not your body".

it was a typical sunday; the morning was spent running errands and grocery shopping.

where do you grocery shop? it seems like every week i end up going to go at least two different stores to get all of the different ingredients that i need. sometimes i go to as many as four stores. it's kind of insane. but each store has the different things that they specialize in and so i feel the need to hit up a couple of different ones in order to get the best deals as well as get the food that i want/need for the week. it's definitely frustrating, but since we've started doing the grocery store hop we've really saved a lot of money.

i spent most of the afternoon napping, which is why i have so few pictures of the day, but afterwards, i took a quick trip to the library to pick up another book that i had on hold.

this photo shoot really was one of the coolest things i've ever had the opportunity to participate in. if you want to read more about the body love movement that the militant baker has started in tucson you should definitely check out two of her awesome projects: the body images and the body love conference scheduled for april 2014. 

ps. i didn't take this picture but i think it's an amazing one and wanted to share it with you.

rcg was hard at work most of the day, so after i returned from the photo shoot, i made a quick dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches and i kept him company on the couch. 

other related reading:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

2013 -- week 36 -- we love headlamps and local music!

rcg bought me a headlamp last year for my birthday and you can't imagine how much use i get out of it. it's amazing. it's super dark in tucson (because kitt peak is close by), so we wear our headlamps all the time; we wear them when camping or biking or just going out for the night. they're super handy. so i couldn't resist getting one for tlw's birthday. he's one of those people who's impossible to shop for and i love my headlamp so much i couldn't imagine him not using it. especially since my parents just bought a house on a lake in williamsburg. i figured there would be a ton of excuses for him to need a light while walking around at night or working on the house. 

seriously, if you don't have a headlamp, buy one. you may look a little silly wearing one, but i promise you will use it all the time. i promise.

it's all rcg's fault: i've been to more concerts in the past two years than i've been to in the twenty-six years prior. and i love it. some of the concerts are big name people (matchbox twenty, pearl jam, & willie nelson), some were people i'd never heard of before (yonder mountain string band, cafe tacuba, robert earl keen jr.widespread panic), and some were new to both of us (silver thread trio, brown bird, & chicha dust). it's these new bands that we really love. we love them because we discovered them together, they're local (except for brown bird), and they're amazing.

all of this is to say check out your local bands -- they may be the next best thing or a new favorite. plus, you'll get the opportunity to support your local talent/economy and show off your hometown or adopted town pride. added benefit: it's a fun, cheap thing to do any night of the week.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

wedding dress shopping & august day in the life

i don't go home to virginia very often; it's pretty tough to travel to the east coast from tucson. but i need a wedding dress and i couldn't imagine looking for one without my mom. so i flew back to dc for labor day weekend with the express purpose of finding a wedding dress.

before i even got to dc though, i made sure to do my research and necessary prep work for a successful dress shopping trip. i scoured the internet for wedding dresses that weren't poofy, lacy, or ornate in any way -- not the easiest thing to find. but i went off of some friends' recommendations (ie. jcrew) and finally found some that i liked. after i found acceptable dresses, i found out where they were sold in dc and called to make reservations. most of the places we wanted to check out were in georgetown so it was fairly easy to coordinate the times. and finally i made sure we had a good place near by to eat lunch.

when the weekend finally came, and we were headed off to try on dresses i made sure to bring my list of designers and dress names that interested me so everything would go a little smoother. i also brought a snack, just in case i got frustrated and waylaid by the "hanger" (hunger-anger). oh, and i brought "sensible" underwear, so the woman helping me get in and out of the dresses wouldn't have to look at my tush. (although she saw my boobs plenty, so i don't know why a butt would offend her.)

our first stop was jcrew, and i was sure that my dress would be there. all of their dresses are pretty simple, reasonably priced, and beautiful. there were definitely some good options, but not quite what we were looking for. we went from there to lunch around the corner at cafe milano. and then again onto lovely bride, another dress shop a half mile away. which is where we found the dress. well, we thought we did; i still had two more dresses at home to try on that i'd ordered online and held a lot of promise as well. after the second store though, we felt like we'd seen enough dresses and decided to skip the third appointment i'd made in favor of heading home, trying on the ordered dresses, and playing in th's jewelry box.

it turns out we were right about the dress at lovely bride; it was the dress. i guess we should have figured that out when it made my mom tear up a little, but i was still hoping for something a little less expensive to show up and wow me. it didn't. now it's just a matter of finding the money to pay for it! and finding the right accessories and jewelry to compliment it.

if i'm being honest, the dress shopping wasn't the nightmare i thought it'd be. the women who were helping me were pleasant and not pushy in the slightest. in addition, since i went to shops that i knew would have dresses that i liked, ie. not poofy princess prom dresses, the actual act of trying on the dresses wasn't too bad either. a little champagne wouldn't have hurt the situation, but also wasn't imperative to my surviving the day and making it a success.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

2013 -- week in the life -- bear down saturday

do you volunteer? i kind of do, but i wish i did it more because it's so rewarding and fun. in fact sometimes it's fun disguised as volunteering, like last year when i hung out at the ben's bells studio and helped to paint kindness coins. but often volunteering can be seen as a hassle; we're already too busy trying to fit everything in that adding one more thing is often too much. so it's nice that community service is built into my job: i help the students in my teen outreach programs complete their community service learning projects. the students are supposed to do all of the planning and research, i'm just there to help out. but i still get to be part of the party, and that's pretty rad. especially when they decide to do cool projects.

rcg's mom owns a beauty salon, so i've been at the receiving end of some pretty awesome shampoo lately. in fact, this is only a small sampling of the aveda products we have in our bathroom. i think we currently have 4 different shampoos and their matching conditioners and a mask treatment or two. it's kind of insane, but also crazy amazing because my hair has never been so silky smooth in my whole life. (also, please don't judge me by how dirty my shower looks. it's a really old shower; it's bound to look a little gnarly after 50 years.)

i spent most of the day driving. (i know, i know. i sound like a broken record.) but this time it was different; this time i was driving a 16 passenger van filled with 12-14 year olds. luckily this was my view, so despite the noise behind me, it was actually quite a nice day for driving.

i spent most of the morning hanging out with a bunch of middle schoolers at the valley humane society in casa grande. it was hot and the puppies were muddy, but we had a great time bathing and walking dogs and relaxing with the kittenz.

see more pictures from our trip here.

my university never had a great football team and it wasn't a particularly big school, so i've never really experienced a proper tailgate. sure, we did some light grilling on game days, but it was just a group of us in the courtyard of our residence hall. nothing too fancy. and certainly nothing like the tailgates at the university of arizona. a friend was nice enough to invite us to the jim click run n' roll tailgate, and it was pretty amazing -- there was tons of beer, soda, and water, and a fully catered meal from outback, complete with steak and caesar salad!

we were lucky enough to get free tickets to the game too!
university of arizona 38, university of texas san antonio 13


after the game we did a tiny bar crawl, the highlight being harry potter shots at auld dubliner. because nothing goes better with drinking than fire. nothing.

other related reading:
rainy monday
zoo tuesday
work wednesday
kickball thursday
food swap friday

Monday, September 16, 2013

2013 -- week in the life -- food swap friday

i've taken up swimming again. i did it back when i was in college and it was a great way for me to stay in shape without actually feeling like i was working out. then i didn't swim again until this past january, a five and a half year hiatus. oops. when i started back up again, i had high hopes that i'd swim a couple times a week, but putting on a bathing suit and actually going to the pool was too much for my lazy/busy self to accomplish. but a couple of weeks ago i was talking to a new friend who was also trying to motivate himself to swim more and we came up with a pact: each week we would swim (at least) 30 laps. after a week of uncertainty (there was a misunderstanding about pool lengths vs. laps) we've been on track ever since. the best part -- i got a rockin' new bathing suit that is swimming specific, so now i even look the part. plus, it's really nice to know that someone else is doing the exercise with you; having that extra bit of accountability is what i really needed to get me back in the pool. 

rcg is a morning person. i'm not. so there are many mornings where he's up hours before me. please don't take that to mean i'm lazy and i sleep until 2 in the afternoon, it's more like he is up at 4am and i get up at a reasonable 7 or 8am. 

the kittenz seem to have an affinity for laying on my things: my clothes, my pillow, the book i'm reading, my computer keyboard, my hands while i'm trying to type, my face, back, or chest, papers or notebooks that i'm using. you get the idea. it's a disaster and i love it. this is not an atypical scene: me trying to work, mildred (or cornelius) stretching out over the entirety of my desk, just being cute and in the way.

i've been struggling with my reading challenge recently; i was stuck at 45 books or so for a while. but i finally decided to do something about it, and now i have 6 books on hold at the library! this is the awesome sculpture in front of the main library in downtown tucson. 

i was a little nervous to swim today because we'd done so much biking the day before, but i felt surprisingly good.  

i'm not a fan of doing the laundry. but luckily for me, rcg likes to do the laundry. unfortunately, every once and a while i have to pull it together and help out. today was an easy day though, all i washed were the sheets and towels. 

every couple of months we get together with some pretty cool people and swap homemade goodies. i made birthday cake ice cream and salsa DF (recipe coming soon!). surprisingly, the ice cream wasn't as big a hit as we thought it'd be, but everyone loved the salsa! in return we received some awesome things: lemon marmalade, pickles, chicken curry, strawberry jam, raspberry peach jelly, oatmeal bread, and worm castings for the garden. it was quite an awesome haul.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

2013 -- week in the life -- kickball thursday

at least once a week i make ice cream. sometimes i make it more than once a week. (we eat a lot of ice cream.) most of the time i make chocolate because it's rcg's favorite. but recently i've been making a lot of birthday cake ice cream -- basically vanilla ice cream with funfetti cake mix. in other words, the simplest thing to make in the history of the world. plus, it's really delicious. this week was a little abnormal though, this week i made two double batches of ice cream because we're participating in a food swap. (look forward to those pictures tomorrow!)

birthday cake ice cream:
2 c. cream + 3/4 c. sugar + 2/3 c. funfetti cake mix + 1 tsp vanilla extract + 1 c. milk + sprinkles
mix it all together -- make sure the sugar is mixed in thoroughly and the cake mix isn't lumpy.
put in the ice cream maker.

working from home looks a lot like this: lucky charms for breakfast, lunch, and mid-afternoon snack. 

i had to run a few errands today so i decided to take ruth, my bike, instead of carl -- it's too gorgeous outside to not ride your bike. plus, parking downtown and on campus is a pain; it's much easier to lock up a bike than deal with a car. (ruth is the cute one in the center; she's teal and has a basket.)

i'm like a chipmunk -- i eat tiny snacks all day long. today's snack of choice was a mini ice cream sandwich, one of my favorites. i paired this with celery and hummus; delicious and nutritious.


today was the first day of kickball pre-season and instead of driving we decided to try biking. it's only 3.5 miles from our house to the park; in biking lingo that isn't far, so we gave it a shot. we allotted ourselves plenty of time, but it only took us 20-25 minutes, just like google said it would. i was pretty proud of us.  

i love this photo. only part of our kickball team, nuclear ballocaust, came out for the pre-season pick up game, but we had a great time. we were probably laughing at this clip when this photo was taken.

a couple of weeks ago, some friends from the kickball team gave us a beautiful butternut squash. i made it into a soup and froze it for consumption on a later date. today was that date. (you can find the recipe i used here.) also, this handy frame helps to keep us organized. it's only a 5x7, but we pack it with information we need to remember: upcoming events, food for the week, and a grocery list. it's really handy and really easy to make -- buy an inexpensive frame with a glass pane, put a pretty piece of pretty paper in the frame, hang it up where it's easily seen, and hang a dry erase marker nearby. it's that simple.

other related reading:
rainy monday
zoo tuesday
work wednesday