Monday, May 23, 2011

How a Fat Cat Led Me To Dinner

My first crush was in the third grade. He was cute, but I mostly liked him because he was really funny. David Letterman kind of funny. I could even overlook the fact that he was more prone to bursting into tears than the other boys because he was so darn funny.
And because we grew up in the 80s, he loved Garfield.
And because he loved Garfield, I loved Garfield.

I believe my first Garfield compendium was purchased that same third grade year at a book fair at school. I'm sure Mom was psyched to pay for that one. (Sidebar: Hey Parents! Remember in sixth grade when all I would read was Baby-Sitters Club books and you were deeply worried that I was stunting my intellectual growth? I told you I would turn out ok! Mostly.)

I read the Garfield book so often that I started to memorize the comic strips. One in particular stood out to me and thanks to the magic of the internets, here it is:

I think this particular strip hit home in part because I earned the name "Miss Fastidious" as a child, and while my particular brand of finicky eating had more to do with quality of ingredients, I could relate to the poor fat cat. But I was also taken with the magical meal Jon Arbuckle had prepared: Coquille Saint-Jacques garnished with Belgian endive and laced with French truffles.

Major dork that I was (am), I looked up "Coquille Saint-Jacques" in the Joy of Cooking. Let's please keep in mind that I'm eight years old here. And sure enough, the next time I went to the grocery store with Dad (who was always willing to let me go grocery shopping to get basically whatever I wanted to eat when staying with him - thanks Dad!), I identified the tiny, pale yellow, spear-shaped heads of endive right there in the produce section. And then I'm not sure I really thought about them much again.

Let's fast forward 20...ish (ahem) years to last week. A lovely little package of Belgian endive showed up in the farm box. It sat there for a few days. I didn't want to make a salad with it (BORING) and I didn't know what else to do.

An extensive search on Epicurious (where else?) led to a recipe for grilled endive with an orange vinaigrette. It didn't have many reviews, and worse, it only had a "3-fork" rating. Not at all promising. However, these cons were quickly mitigated by the most important measure of recipe potential: I could make it, as written, without fighting my way through the horror of the Franklin Street Whole Foods at 7pm on a Monday. Sold!

Grilled Endive with Orange Vinaigrette (adapted from this Gourmet recipe)
Makes 3 servings

1 navel orange
2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, pressed1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
3 Belgian endives

Prepare grill. (I did these in my cast iron grill pan on the stove. It worked perfectly.)

With a vegetable peeler remove two 1 1/4- by 1/2-inch strips zest from orange and cut lengthwise into very thin strips. Squeeze enough juice from orange to measure 1 tablespoon. In a bowl whisk together zest, orange juice, vinegar, garlic, 1 tablespoon oil, and salt and pepper to taste until combined well.

Halve endives lengthwise, keeping halves from separating into leaves, and brush all over with remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Season with salt and pepper. 

Grill, cut sides down, 6 minutes. Turn endives and grill until just tender, 6 minutes more. 

Serve endives drizzled with vinaigrette.

This looks a little like fish, doesn't it? Funny. 

And here's the glamour shot:

Look at those gorgeous grill marks and zest strips!

But endive alone does not a dinner make. I also had the end of a baguette that needed eating, so while "les endives" were on the grill I made a little "French tuna salad" (drained tuna, olive oil, lemon zest, a bit of orange zest, chopped kalamatas, capers, salt & pepper) to top the baguette and accompany the main event (and, honestly, for a little protein).

As a finishing touch, I sliced the remaining un-squeezed orange and ground a little sea salt and pepper over it. This little trick will elevate your orange slices from greasy-spoon-breakfast-garnish to a little sweet-savory treat. 

I really would have preferred a nice French unoaked chardonnay with this, or maybe a rosé if it was a little warmer out, but red wine was what was open, so red wine was what got poured. Also, turns out tuna salad is not very photogenic.  
I bet you're wondering: how was it?

Well, the tuna salad was a bit dry. I should have added more oil...but didn't really want to eat more oil. So good flavor, but was a mess to eat, especially open-faced. It fell all over the plate.  

Orange slices, as described above, were savory and delicious. 

And the grilled endive was magnificent. Really. Magnificent. I never in a million years expected that a grilled lettuce-like item would be so very good. But I am really hoping the next farm box delivery includes more of these little suckers because I am going to experiment with other vinaigrettes to pour over them. They are meltingly tender and just kind of amazing. I'm actually a little in awe of endive now. But there you have it. 

Sometimes life surprises you. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tonight's Dinner

I know when I'm exhausted - not just tired, but full-on exhausted - when the thought of cooking something delicious for dinner fills me with dread and the thought of ordering in makes me cringe inside because nothing sounds good. When I'm so exhausted that I barely even feel hungry even though I haven't eaten in hours and hours.

Tonight is one of those nights.

And in times of exhaustion, sometimes I just want something good and honest and homemade but really don't want to work for it. Thing is, if I'm eating, it means I'm procuring myself food in one way or another. I'm sure it surprises you that birds and squirrels and such don't just fly in the window and start cheerfully singing and making my dinner and sweeping my floor and sewing me clothes like they do in all the Disney movies, but that hasn't happened yet.

Yeah, some anthropomorphic animals would be clutch right about now.

Back in reality, it's just me. And I'm not in the mood to transform basic ingredients to something magical. I just want to assemble a few basic things and eat something satisfying.

Hence, tonight's dinner menu:

Peanut butter & banana on toasted baguette slices
Fruit salad (strawberries, apricot, fresh mandarin oranges)
Chardonnay (What? I'm not four years old.)

There are no pictures of this meal. Sorry. Actually, that is a lie. I'm not sorry. And I did take pictures. However, uploading them to my computer feels like a lot of effort right now.

Perhaps another time.

Good night!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Comfort Food

The other day I went on a date.
I drank three glasses of wine.
I hadn't had dinner.

Somehow, the planets were aligned and despite the set-up, disaster did not ensue. However, I did eat an entire blue box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese when I got home because I was so tipsy-hungry. I even forgot the truffle salt. I blame the third glass of wine for that.

The next morning, I went to the gym before work. Normally, when I go to the gym, I suffer through about ten minutes of running on the treadmill as a warm up and then I move on to the weights, or the bike, or the elliptical or whatever strikes me that day. I like to mix it up. I have serious ADHD at the gym.

But that morning, I ran. And ran. And ran. For thirty-five whole minutes. 35! I hate running. But I had so

I wish I could credit the date with this inspired effort on the treadmill, but I'm pretty sure it's because I basically carbo-loaded the night before. Not that the date wasn't fun. It was.

And then the light bulb went on. Perhaps...I should eat a few more carbs at dinner when I know I'm working out in the morning.

So that night, I made an old pasta favorite for dinner: Scrambled Egg Pasta.

This is a recipe that I concocted several years ago as a riff on the Spaghetti Carbonara I ate almost daily when I was studying abroad in Italy. Oh, to have the metabolism of a 20-year old again...gelato three times a day - breakfast, snack, and dessert - and enough pasta to fuel all the runners of the Boston Marathon. Sigh. 

I love Scrambled Egg Pasta because it's easy and fast and readily made with ingredients I have in the pantry or in the freezer. It's great when I'm tired. Or cold. And hungry. And it's adaptable to whatever fresh produce I have. There aren't really measurements because I usually just throw this together using whatever I've got at home but I've tried to estimate so you have an actual recipe to work from. Honestly, this is hard to screw up. Play with it.

Most of the time, I just use frozen peas for this, but I have a serious case of Spring fever, so I bought fresh English peas from the market and spent some time shelling them. I love doing things like shelling peas. I am half farmgirl on the inside, I swear. Always have been. Despite never having had an actual farm. Honestly, I don't even need a farm. I just want a big garden. And a couple of fruit trees. A Meyer lemon, for sure.

Fresh spring peas! To be honest, they were kind of starchy, although the shelling exercise was fun.

Kate's Scrambled Egg Pasta
Serves one person who really likes running, or two of me.

 2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup parmesan (good parmigiano please!), freshly grated
Freshly ground black pepper
2(ish) tablespoons milk or cream (optional)
Pasta - quantity depends on how much running you need to do.  I love this recipe most with tagliatelle but spaghetti, linguine, angel hair, etc. will work
1 cup of peas - frozen work great for this - I always have some in the freezer. They are also helpful when I need an icepack.
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
About 1/4 cup onion or shallot, finely chopped
Red pepper flakes (I probably put in a full teaspoon)
Canadian bacon or thick-sliced ham (as in ham steak), trimmed and cut into ~ 1/2" square pieces (One of the few acceptable uses of ham in my world.)

Prep the egg sauce first. Combine the eggs, parmesan, and a couple of twists of pepper with a fork in a small bowl. Add a touch of milk or cream if you have some and beat to combine. Set aside, near the stove, because when it's time to add this, you have to act quickly.
Heat water in a pot to boiling. Add salt and the pasta. When the water resumes boiling, add the peas. Cook the peas for a few minutes, then remove peas with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl while continuing to cook the pasta.

Peas and pasta boiling harmoniously.

While the water is heating, heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat with the olive oil/butter. When shimmering or foam has subsided, add the onion/shallot. Saute until golden brown, then add the pepper flakes and saute for a minute. Add the ham and continue sauteing until the ham is browned in spots. 

Scoop out a bit of the pasta cooking water and put it in the pan, along with the cooked peas. Scrape the pan to get up the browned bits and let simmer until the water is quite reduced. 

In the meantime, drain the pasta and toss it into the frying pan. Combine it with the peas/ham (I suggest using tongs for this move.) Don't toss it too much as you want it to stay super-hot. Just enough to mix everything.

Turn the heat to low and after a minute (so the pan has cooled a bit) pour in the eggs atop the pasta etc. Begin tossing the pasta and ham and peas and eggs rapidly, until all the pasta is coated with a lightly scrambled egg sauce. (If you get big chunks of eggs happening, then the pan is too hot and next time you'll need to turn it down more.) 

Once the sauce is semi-cooked, you're done. (There should be no visible runny eggs at this point, just a creamy sauce.) Add some more parmesan on top, along with a couple more twists of black pepper, and mangia!

The whole recipe takes 20 minutes, tops, once you get the orchestration of steps down. 

Some variations you might want to consider:
Thinly sliced leeks in place of the onion or shallot
Sliced mushrooms sauteed with the onion
A little dried oregano or marjoram added at the same time as the red pepper flakes
Leftovers served with a poached egg!

Monday, May 16, 2011

You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

I'm going to let you in on a little secret.

You can poach an egg in the microwave.


WHY has this been kept secret for so long?

I am never, ever poaching eggs the traditional swirly-water, drops of vinegar, barely bubble, toil and trouble way again. It takes longer, it's messier, and half the white gets lost in the process.

Plus, with this new way there are no pots to wash - just a mug and a dish to throw in the dishwasher. This is my kind of recipe.

Here's the trick:

1. Put one half-cup of water in a coffee mug. Yes, you should measure it. This is science, people.

If you couldn't visualize this, you might want to reconsider trying this recipe.

2. Crack an egg into it, being careful not to break the yolk on the shell.


3. Let it sit undisturbed for a minute so that the egg is totally submerged. Just a minute.

4. Place the mug in the microwave and put a small plate on top of it.

5. Cook on high for a minute or so. This part you will need to play with a bit depending on the wattage of your own personal nuker. In my not-super-powerful microwave, 1 minute makes a perfect runny poached egg, 1:15 makes a perfect soft-boiled poached egg, and 1:30 makes a tender but fully-cooked yolk (ideal for pushing through a sieve to make Asparagus Mimosa because it is so much more tender than your typical hard-boiled egg).

6. Use a slotted spoon to remove the egg from the mug and voila!

Served over a recipe I'll write about soon...I swear.

Credits for this trick go to this recipe. Merci beaucoup Bon Appetit!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Lovely Spring Day

There's something about a sunny spring day that makes me just want to throw open the windows and clean house.

I know, I'm weird.  (We've covered this before, no?)

Today was one of those sunny spring days. I got up to do laundry (my most hated chore) and went out for a couple of runs while the loads were in the washers (shorter, more painful, hilly run) and dryer (longer, more enjoyable run and a stop for La Boulange's amazing cold-brewed iced coffee).

I got home, fetched my clothes from our wretched garage laundry room and put the laundry away. I note this because in more lazy times, piles of clean laundry live on the second sofa in my living room for a while. This is the problem with having two sofas, too many clothes, and no roommates. I still have plenty of outfits to wear and a comfy place to sit and watch tv even when the other comfy place to sit is covered in clean clothes and sheets.

Feeling inspired by my responsible adult laundry effort, I elected to tackle my positively nasty stove, cleaning the grates and everything. A Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (my all-time favorite cleaning tool) was put down in the process. But now the stove sparkles. 

I made myself lunch, channeling this post. This time I added a new element - anchovies (three of them, mashed up to a paste) - into the butter. The spring radishes really are so mild. I love them.

I tried on and purged a bunch of old clothes from my dresser and closet. I then tackled a project that's been in the hopper for MONTHS - I put up new hooks on the side of my movers-damaged-bookcase-turned-handbag-and-shoe-storage piece, for displaying all the too-long necklaces that just get tangled on top of my dresser, and to get my gym bag off the floor, for once and for all. Victory.

True that, poster. True that.
Also, I just want to give a shout out to the DeKalb T.J. Maxx which is the best, cleanest, most well organized T.J. Maxx in existence. That's where I picked up that cute pillow. I saw an identical pillow months later in a snooty home store in Sonoma for 5x what I paid. Ha. 

After that I showered. Sorry, there's no picture of that. Trust me, it's better for all of us that way.

By the time all that was done, it was time to tackle the fun chore of bill paying. Woohoo! I got a little ambitious after paying bills and tried to rollover my old 401K into my new one but got confused and decided that it would be better if I just had a snack instead. A ripe mango in the fruit colander was calling my name, so I whipped up a mango-strawberry smoothie.

Kate's Mango-Strawberry Smoothie

1 ripe mango, peeled and pitted
8 or so strawberries, washed and trimmed
1 cup Greek yogurt - I usually use 0% because that's what I keep around
1/2 cup milk

Put everything in the blender and blend it. 
The end.

I just started making these recently, and I'm addicted. They are a favorite new weekend treat. I usually do not add any sweetener - I like the wholesomeness of just the fruit (but I do try to wait until the mango is almost too ripe and I select the ripest strawberries in the container).

For serving, I especially love to rinse out my to-go iced coffee cup and straw from the morning's coffee and drink my smoothie out of that. Drinking smoothies out of straws is so much more fun. Actually, drinking anything out of a straw is more fun. Except hot coffee, of course. Also, I'm recycling!

In spite of today's loveliness, the week preceding was kind of a rough one for me, and I determined that flowers were in order. I love late Spring because it means peonies are in season. They are my favorite (alongside my early spring lilacs), and always remind me of our dear neighbor, Jane Beard, who was like another grandmother to me when I was growing up.

Jane practically had an entire field of peonies in her front yard and they always bloomed at the beginning of June, ushering in summers filled with daytime lemonade stands and evening games of hide and seek.

The tricky part about peonies is that they are only available for a very short window in May and June. Their scarcity makes me want them all the more when I see them.

Tulips and roses are fine when you can't get anything truly seasonal, but I really love old school blooms like these peonies that look like they came directly from someone's garden. They are very lightly scented and smell fantastic - such a nice little bonus. 

I also picked up the most perfect notebooks for work at Flax Art and Design. I know this place is a San Francisco institution - I remember getting their catalogs at home when I was young - but somehow in two years I'd never set foot in the store. On a lark, after picking up exciting things like toilet paper and dish detergent at Safeway, I stopped in.

I was in crafty heaven. Flax is amazing. Like Paper Source times 1000. I could spend hours upon hours dreaming up projects there.

The notebooks I picked up at Flax are perfect for work (and I don't use that word lightly to describe objects) because they are:
  • large (all the better to diagram with),
  • spiral bound (so they lay flat - helpful for a left-handed person),
  • thin (so they're lightweight and don't take up much room in the already heavy work bag), 
  • cheap (duh), and
  • pretty! 
I think I am going to start with the robin's egg blue one, although I do love all the colors. I also love the inscription on the front:

"Most advanced quality gives best writing features & gives satisfaction to you."

Indeed, little notebook. Indeed.
I don't know why this picture is formatting vertically. Odd. I suggest turning your computer clockwise 90 degrees.

Happy Spring Day!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Hey, It Worked for Me When The Subject Was Moby Dick

Can someone please explain to me what the hell happened to the entire month of April?

I can't believe it's May. And not even the beginning of May. Pretty much mid-May. In my head it's still March. I was walking home from work today and for a moment, I actually thought it was March. Concerning.

Sorry, dear readers, about the lack of posts last month. I got a new job, quit my old one, took a vacation, and then started the new job. I've been traveling to glamorous places (Wisconsin! Las Vegas!) each week since I started the new gig.

Despite being busy and out of town a bunch, I actually did a lot of cooking, so I'm going to give you the Cliffs Notes version of April 2011, all in one handy blog post. If it was good enough in high school...

Christine and Kevin hosted a cocktail party competition to determine the signature drink for their wedding.

Many options to choose from!

I'm not much of a cocktail maker, so I volunteered to make the snacks. I read this great recipe in one of my old Martha cookbooks that used muffins as the bread of a sandwich. That lady is so smart! I made muffins in my new-ish muffin pans using a bunch of fresh (oranges from the farm box) and dried (apricots, cranberries) fruit that I had on hand. 

You can't tell from the picture on the Sur La Table site, but the finish on the pans is actually pretty dark. And in my bottom-heated gas oven, by the time the muffins were fully-baked, they were also burned.

Crap. Effing nonstick muffin pans. 
Once I tossed those which most closely resembled Kingsford charcoal briquets, I had a few fewer muffins than I'd hoped for. Luckily, not all of them were inedibly burnt. Some were just, er, medium-well done. This isn't the first time this has happened with these pans. But it is the last. Bye bye muffin pans. Next time I won't cheap out and will suck it up and get those Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch ones. They are supposedly the bees' knees, according to my trusted equipment advisors at America's Test Kitchen.

Despite the charring, the sandwiches actually came out pretty well. I love this idea and am looking forward to making other muffin-and-sandwich-filling combos. I think my cheddar and green onion savory muffins would be delish with turkey and a chipotle spread...

These were little ham sandwiches on orange-apricot-cranberry muffins, with spicy whole grain mustard. They were a huge hit with all my ham-loving friends. HAM!

Mini muffin sandwiches weren't going to cut it in terms of soaking up cocktails, so I also made a caramelized onion and blue cheese rustic tart.

For this, I splurged on some Dufour puff pastry. It is made with real butter and it is incredibly rich and indulgent. The tart ended up being pretty salty but it made a nice counterpoint to the mostly-sweet cocktails. 
For the third and final snack item, I made some roast beef and avocado mini-sandwiches on the Acme Bread herb slab. They were unexpectedly outstanding. The combination of the beef and the super-lemony avocado spread was a hit - everyone gobbled them up (including me). They were so good I was actually craving them afterward and made them again two weekends later for an Easter picnic. They are perfect picnic fare.

But that wasn't all. The cocktail competition was the night before Meredith's birthday so I made an apple cake to celebrate. Why apple cake? In truth, I had a ton of apples in my fridge from various farm boxes over the course of the spring and I needed a way to use them up!

So many apples!
 Because the recipe was kind of like a tarte tatin, it was built in the pan upside down.

First, the brown sugar-butter layer was smoothed across the bottom of the pan.

Apple slices added. 
Batter poured over the top and baked until golden brown.
The pan had to cool for fifteen minutes.

Then we came to the moment of truth.

I put that yellow serving plate upside down over the top of the cake and then flipped the whole thing to invert the cake on the plate. Then I prayed to God that it would unmold in one piece.

And it did! Voila! I am a baking genius! No, seriously, ridiculous arrogance aside, this was a real and true moment of culinary joy for me. Sometimes I find baked goods to be incredibly fickle - especially the first time I'm trying a recipe - and I could not have been happier that this ended up so beautifully. I'm fine with ugly food when it's just for me, but for a birthday-cake-like item, I just think the food should look a little more like a gift and a little less like a pile of slop.

This was adapted from this Bon Appetit recipe. I served it with gingered whipped cream and added extra ginger to the batter as one of the birthday girl's favorite ingredients is ginger. I would absolutely repeat this receipt and am already looking forward to Fall's apple bounty.
I love it when food is this beautiful.

The birthday festivities continued on Sunday with a mango tart, from this Gourmet recipe, because mango and coconut are two more of the birthday girl's favorites.

This doesn't look like much, but it was highly delicious. Another keeper recipe. It's actually really light because the mousse is thickened with unflavored gelatin, making it the perfect brunch dessert. I topped it with diced fresh mango. The crust is coconut, which has a nice crunch. I think this is a perfect special treat for Spring. 
I wasn't kidding about having a lot of apples, either. After that apple cake was done, I made applesauce with even more apples that I had in the fridge. It's so easy, and this is a great basic recipe. (I failed to photograph it but it looked just like normal chunky applesauce so just use your imagination for this one.) Seriously, applesauce is idiot-proof. And tastes 1000% better than the stuff you buy in a store.

Unfortunately, the recipe makes about four cups of applesauce. That's about three and a half cups more than I'd want to eat. A search for recipes using applesauce turned up this gem from Martha (God bless her and her perfect baked good recipes).

I brought the cake into work (my old job) on my second-to-last day as a going away/thank you gift for my lovely co-workers. They were the kind of people who made me laugh hard every day at work, and for that, I thought they at least deserved a little cake. It got fairly well eaten up before I got to snap a picture of it. This recipe is seriously great, with plenty of moisture and a chewy, not-too-dense crumb. It's a fantastic breakfast cake. And if you ask me, there's not enough breakfast cake in life.

Before taking off for Monterey, I hosted a little cocktail party at my place so my Dad and Stepmom could meet my friends. It was a good time, and because we were busy doing touristy things that day, I just pulled together a few oldie-but-goodie recipes to feed the masses.  I didn't even photograph them because you've seen or heard of them before: White Bean Dip, Spicy Spinach Dip, a couple of platters of cheeses and cured meats and fruits, my classic guacamole recipe, some olives, some nuts, and assorted chips and crackers.

Then we took off for Monterey, where this guy greeted us for the happy hour glasses of wine we had while overlooking the water. He reminds me so much of my Sammy the Seagull print from Wayne Pate, and of Scully the Seagull who like to perch outside my kitchen window in Boston.

Easter arrived just days later. Last year I made Easter Bunny Biscotti, which was just as tasty as I remembered from my childhood. This year, I planned to make the biscotti again along with the Easter Lamb Cake that Nana always made.

As you can see, the Easter Lamb got off to a bad start as it got stuck in the mold (despite my buttering and flouring every bit of it). Rats.

I thought I could cement the little lamby together with frosting and toothpicks - like a day camp art project or something - but no dice.

Still life with semi-lamb-shaped coconut cake.
Allow me to provide you with another angle of the carnage.

Massive baking fail. It's hard not to make a sacrificial lamb joke here, but I will dig deep for self control and refrain.

I firmly believe that one of the secrets to success in life is knowing when to cut your losses. And it was not hard to figure out that time had come to lay the lamb cake to rest. And that the bunny biscotti was just not in the cards.

Trying to salvage my last few hours of effort, I decided to just repeat the cake I'd made - in cupcake form. The coconut cake itself was truly delicious - I used Ina's recipe from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and paired it with the coconut cream cheese frosting that she also uses as a companion to the cake.

I scrapped the lamb (we ate it while dyeing Easter Eggs that night) and baked up some coconut mini cupcakes, which I frosted with either pink or yellow cream cheese frosting and made little green grass nests (sweetened flaked coconut mixed with a few drops of green food coloring), topped with a few "Easter eggs" (Jelly Belly jellybeans). I'm so happy with how they turned out. They tasted fantastic and looked super cute. 

I love this.
 While I worked on the cupcakes, Mer and CC and Nell dyed eggs.

The mugs have dye. We tried to match the tablets to the mugs but the Paas dye tablets are often quite stealthy and appear quite different when dry than when dissolved. So it was a little confusing... We discovered that a chilled, dry rosé was a lovely accompaniment to the process. Definitely a new tradition.

And then it was Easter. And I got sick. Disgustingly snottily sick. I went through three large boxes of Kleenex. In a single day. I sounded awful and looked worse. I was so sick that I missed my first day of work at my new job. I don't think I've had that ugly a cold in at least five years. Such a bummer. So glad it's over!

And that whirlwind, my friends, was April.