Another Thing I Miss About Champaign

All of these effing wonderful people:

Rob & Erin (St. Louis), Laurie (Chicago), Jason & Sonya (Cambridge), Keem & Paul (not pictured, Chicago), Angie & Chris (Chicago)

Things I am Excited About Now That I’m Feeling Better and School is Out

Because seriously, I’ve been sick almost three weeks.  I’ve been on medication since Saturday and am feeling dramatically better, but until I’m done with these stupid metal-mouth meds, I’m still sick.

  1. The garden! Hoping to buy some plants and put some seeds in the ground this weekend.  Which reminds me that instead of doing crossword puzzles and eating Arctic Zero (not recommended), I should be figuring out where and what I’m going to plant.
  2. Knitting! I have barely touched my needles or my stash since finishing my socks in February, and I have a sweater all ready to start – I just have to, well, start it.
  3. Running!  This stupid sick has kept me off the roads long enough.  My last long run was the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, which was over a month ago.  Since then I’ve put in a handful of consistently paced 3-4 milers, but nothing close to double digits, which is what I should be doing in preparation for the Dexter-Ann Arbor half in a few weeks.  Side note: when I went to the doctor last weekend, I remarked that at this time last year, I was sidelined from running and in to see her because of knee pain which, amazingly, has almost completely subsided.  Better to be sidelined for something treatable – like this stupid sick – than for a serious or chronic injury!
  4. The farmers’ market!  Seriously, we haven’t been since October – and didn’t go that often last fall because we were overwhelmed with produce from our garden – and because one or the other of us was out of town so often.  A good problem to have, but I miss the Saturday morning routine and the opportunity to bump into so many friends all in the same place.
  5. So many upcoming weekend trips!  By the end of June, we’re going to be SO HAPPY to have a weekend at home – but for now, before we’re in the middle of it, I’m eagerly anticipating a weekend in Rockford for Max’s birthday, Cleveland/Dayton for Trav + Kristen’s shower and to see Linda + Jeremiah + Milo, Chicago for Dan + Laura’s reception and to see friendos, New York to visit Carrie, and then Cleveland again for Trav + Kristen’s wedding.

Vacation Math

Investment:

  • 3 vacation days (3 months’ worth of accrual at the previous rate)
  • $113.38 in gas (with 1/2 tank left)
  • $28 for my share of groceries
  • $92 for my share of three nights at a farmhouse in rural Illinois

Yield:

  • Three nights up way past my bedtime talking about everything under the sun with five of my best ladies
  • Three mornings up with the sun nursing my coffee and observing my friends finding their way into parenthood
  • Shoulders to cry on, strong arms to bounce babies, noses crinkled with laughter, shiny painted toenails
  • Bottomless tins of cookies, boxes of fried pies, and bottles of wine
  • Prairie rain giving way to fog giving way to a remarkable morning just in time to drive home
  • Two runs on country roads so quiet that the only sounds were the breeze, my footsteps, and the crackling of the power lines overhead.
  • Too too many sweets (and broccoli) – but also homemade lasagna, amazingly golden roasted chicken (raised across the street), home fries made in the leftover chicken fat, Nutella crepes, and a lot of Chupacabras
  • Stepping out of a hot shower onto a heated ceramic tile floor and into warmed towels in the fancy master bath
  • Making Shane’s day by stopping at a yard sale on my way out of town because there were mopeds I’d never seen before.  Oh yes, and then driving home with one of them in the back of RS.

All told, a quite good investment, even if I did come home sick (again) and with no photos to show for it.

1205 David Eyre’s Pancake

I woke up this morning with pancakes on the brain.  Specifically, this pancake, which I read about the other week on Food 52.

Before I tell you about the pancake, however, let me tell you about two things that led to the making of the pancake.

First, there’s Food 52, which I started reading after hearing about The Essential New York Times Cookbook.  The cookbook represents five years of testing and research on the best and most noteworthy recipes published by the NYT since the 1850s.  The site grew out of the experience of testing for the cookbook and realizing that the best – and most meaningful – cooking takes place in the home.  I’ve only started to delve into its depths, but at its heart, Food 52 is a community that operates on these ground rules:

If you cook, your family will eat dinner together.
If you cook, you will naturally have a more sustainable household.
If you cook, you’ll set a lifelong example for your children.
If you cook, you’ll understand what goes into food and will eat more healthily.
If you cook, you’ll make your home an important place in your life.
If you cook, you’ll make others happy.
If you cook, people will remember you.

I don’t know about you, but each and every one of those rules resonates with me. They also bring me to the second thing that made our pancake possible: a giant cast iron skillet that arrived in the mail sometime last year, a gift from our friends Kevin and Jill in DC.  I may have mentioned this before, but Kevin is a cast iron wizard.  In the course of one meal at their house, Kevin prepared both a pork roast AND an apple pie in the same cast iron skillet.  I firmly believe that Kevin can make anything in his cast iron skillet, and that anything that comes out of his cast iron skillet will taste good.  More importantly, though, I feel like all of the rules above are embodied in Kevin and Jill’s approach towards cooking and food.  Their kitchen is a happy and healthy place, and they’re raising their small son to be an adventurous eater.  I have many warm memories from their dinner table, and I often wish that we lived closer so that we could share meals and games again.

This post wasn’t meant to be sentimental, though.  Breakfast is no time for sentimentality.  It is a time for preventing the morning grumbles with something delicious and simple to prepare.  Like this pancake: a few ingredients whisked together and poured in a very hot cast iron skillet, then baked til golden.  Shane spread homemade jam on his half, while I enjoyed mine with just powdered sugar.  As an entire meal, it was on the small side, but it was enough to get our day off to a really nice start.

David Eyre's Pancake

Recipe:
David Eyre’s Pancake: 1966 from Food 52 and The Essential New York Times Cookbook