The Holidays, y’all

I could attempt to recount the things we’ve eaten over the last week, but really, you can probably imagine it.  You’ve been reading about our meals for a year.  You know that before we go out of town for a few days, we try to eat down the fridge, which is what we did on Wednesday.  You know that on special occasions like our anniversary or a Thursday, we like to have snacks for dinner, which is what we did for Christmas Eve Eve as we watched Love Actually and opened our gifts for each other.  And you know about the holiday excess we’re trying to avoid.

Festive Shane

We spent Christmas in Rockford with my family, including this handsome fellow who dazzled us with his crawling and his good looks:

Christmas Max

There was the traditional Christmas Eve corn chowder, more bland than it should have been, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed with the salt shaker and the most important spice. There were dozens of cookies stashed in the cold garage: gunk bars, brownies, chocolate coconut pinwheels, and sugars.

Mark and Evonne

We had German food for Christmas lunch – Mexican last year – sauerbraten and spaetzle, warm red cabbage, German potato salad, and an assortment of sausages. Somehow – perhaps thanks to the gym – we made room for Swedish pancakes at Stockholm Inn on Sunday, Beef-a-Roo, and cocktails and snacks at Garrett’s with Jenn.

Open wide!

And then on to Lakewood for a few non-holiday days with Shane’s family: tacos and Blizzards with his brothers, scones and excellent coffee at The Root after a visit to Trav’s funny gym:

Post-run olive scone at The Root

A visit to the Cleveland Art Museum, where we saw an incredible Damien Hirst piece made entirely of butterfly wings, followed by a tasty but cold and stressful lunch at Tommy’s in Coventry – I had tempeh salad, nom nom nom. Watching the Hawks win – or at least most of the game – over beers and food with the whole family at Buckeye Beer Engine. Time with kitties, cousins, and grandpa. And a couple of remarkable hot dogs at Happy Dog before heading home:

Happy Dog-14
Photo by edseloh

Among the toppings we tried were blue cheese coleslaw (me), marinated mushrooms (Orin), and habanero pickled red onions (Shane) – plus a really great chimichurri and a garlic-tomato jam for our tater tots.  I wish I had photos of any of this, but despite taking the camera everywhere with us, we only managed a couple of pictures of the cats.  I’ll try harder next time, promise.


1016 Mom’s Belated Football Birthday

Today was all about Mom – from breakfast to football to cake.

Hawkeye Pride

For breakfast: French toast and fried apples.  I don’t love French toast, but Mom and Shane both do, so while they slept in, I battered and grilled up slices of challah dipped in egg, milk, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice.  I also cut up and sauteed a couple of apples in butter and cinnamon – perfect for spooning over the French toast or, in my case, stirring into Greek yogurt with a bit of maple syrup drizzled over the top.

While Shane headed off to Detroit to watch moped races at the Thunderdrome, Mom and I hit the farmer’s market and did some window shopping in Kerrytown, then grabbed a quick lunch at Plum before heading off to the game!  I came by my love of Big 10 football honestly, albeit later in life. All of my family is from Iowa, so we grew up cheering for the Hawkeyes and the Hawkeyes only. None of us have ever had much use for professional sports, though I do really enjoy live baseball. Mom follows Hawkeye football and wrestling in particular, and seeing the Hawkeyes in all of the Big 10 stadiums has been on her bucket list for years.


Getting to watch the Hawkeyes beat Michigan in the Big House, then, was all kinds of dreams come true.  Mom was jealous of all of the high fives I collected as we walked around the stadium exchanging “Go Hawks” with other Hawkeye fans.  Aside from a few grumps, the Michigan fans around us put up with our cheers – and gave us a good-natured ribbing when the game appeared to turn around in the fourth quarter.  If I hadn’t hurt my knee (don’t ask me how – all I did was stand up), it would’ve been a perfect afternoon.


Shane picked us up downtown, and we spent the rest of the night relaxing at home with chicken stew, red velvet cake, and Wisconsin’s victory over Ohio State. Two of the three were excellent, and the other was warm and satisfying, if not exactly what I’d had in mind when I fired up the crockpot. Apart from the knee, it was pretty much a perfect Midwest fall day – and exactly the sort of belated birthday Mom wanted.

I promise I’ll try to keep my nerding out about football to a minimum here.  I promise.  But there are three things I need to bring to your attention.


And second:

Shane <3 Herky

And finally, in light of Iowa’s continued dominance in the annual Cyhawk game, I would like to note that one of Iowa’s offensive linemen– Josh Koeppel – was HIT BY A TRUCK on 8/30 but played in Saturday’s game.  I’m not sure if this is a testament to Kirk Ferentz’s faith that Koeppel was ready to play – or that Iowa State is just that bad.

Fingers crossed that this post is wrong and the Hawks win on Saturday.  With Herky on their side, how could they not?

Herky the Hawkeye
Photo by smcgee

It’s a typical fall Saturday in the Midwest, and all I want to do is make soup and watch football. Fortunately, I was able to do just that this morning! I bought my mom football tickets for her birthday – Iowa (her alma mater) vs Illinois – so we spent the day cheering on the Hawks and then eating homemade tomato soup. Unfortunately I still have work to do…