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Going for a “run”

25 Oct

I mentioned in my last post that I spent a few days last month traveling to Lincoln, Nebraska to celebrate the life of my great grandma Madge.  Those circumstances, obviously, do not make for a great trip, but somehow I feel like Madge would have appreciated the fact that my mom, grandma, two aunts and I made the best of this trip.  Although I did put my waterproof mascara to the ultimate test, went through an entire box of Kleenex, and spent the whole weekend with a head full of snot, I can say that there were memories made on that trip that I will not soon forget: getting lost in the middle of Kansas because our whole car was focused on Words With Friends, discussing the deliciousness of corn nuts and rum (?!) with a gas station attendant in Northern Oklahoma, and many long conversations about who did and did not go to lake Wabaunzee to name a few.  One memory that Mom and I just couldn’t shake was arriving in Lincoln at 9:30 – when the Runza Restaurant closes at 9.

Obviously this was an extreme disappointment and we couldn’t conceivably remove the thought from our heads.  Luckily, this weekend offered plenty of time for some prime Runza making (I mean, we practically HAD to spend a long weekend with my parents, Ross was interviewing in Dallas anyway!).

If you lack Nebraskan relatives, you may be wondering what a Runza is – the answer is this: it’s a roll baked with meat inside.  As in, instant sandwich.  Here’s the recipe we used. They were absolutely delicious – so much so that I ate them for lunch on Sunday and wasn’t hungry until lunch today!

Of course, Runza wasn’t the only thing that came out of the trip – I also had plenty of car time to knit up this scarf:

I had some beautiful hand-painted Misti sock yarn, which was so soft and had such pretty colors!  I did a drop-stitch pattern (it’s in Vogue Stitchionary  vol. 1).

Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volume One: Knit & Purl: The Ultimate Stitch Dictionary from the Editors of Vogue Knitting Magazine (Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Series)

(By the way, I love this resource – if you’re a beginnerish knitter and want to learn everything you can do with knit and purl, you definitely need it.)

I’ve done it before – it’s one of my favorite scarf patterns as you can go as wide or thin as you want, it’s reversible, and it knits up fairly quick.  I can’t wait to bind off and wear it!

 

Also, can’t forget to mention that when I came home, my magnificent students left these little gems on my desk:

In case you were wondering?  I have the BEST students in the world this year.  Even if today they pretended that they’d never heard of this “Declaration of Independence” they were supposed to read while I was gone….

 

The Runza Recipe!

Dough:

2 pkg. Active dry Yeast
2 cups warm milk
1/2-cup sugar
1/2 t. salt
2 eggs – beaten
1/2 cup shortening, margarine or butter
7 to 8 cups all-purpose flour

Put yeast and milk in a bowl.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Add sugar, salt, eggs and softened butter.
Mix. Gradually add flour while mixing.  Add flour until dough pulls together into a ball.  Knead for 4
or 5 minutes or until dough is smooth.  (This really works best with a free-standing mixer with a
dough hook)

Put in a greased bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rise until double.

Punch down and let it rise again.

Remove dough from bowl and divide into thirds.  On a floured surface, roll one portion of the
dough to 1/4” thickness.  Cut into 5″or 6” squares.  (Reserve dough you cut off to reroll.)

Give each square an extra roll with the rolling pin before filling.

Filling:

2 lbs ground beef
1 head of cabbage – finely shredded
Lots of salt and pepper

Brown ground beef.  Add shredded cabbage and cook over medium heat until cabbage is
softened.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  It takes a lot!

Start this about halfway through the second rise of the dough.  Set aside until dough is ready.

Making Runzas:

Put a large mound of filling on the center of each dough square.  Pull opposite corners of the
dough together and pinch to hold.  Pull the opposite two corners together and use your fingers
to pinch all edges together to seal in filling.  Turn Runza over and put on a cookie sheet lined with
parchment paper (helps to keep any leakage from staining your cookie sheet)

Space Runzas about 1 inch apart. When cookie sheet is full put a towel over it and let it rise for
about 15 minutes.

Bake Runzas in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes – until they are a deep brown.

Remove from oven and rub butter on the top of each Runza.

 

 

 

Throwdown

10 Aug

As far as the Food Network is concerned, most of the “talent” is pretty annoying.   Giada’s head is way to big for her tiny body,  Ina Garten moves at the speed of paint drying, Paula Deen uses far too much mayonnaise, Rachael Ray needs psychiatric help, and Tyler Florence has an odontoid x-ray on his set (he seriously does – look for it!).  Even though I find Bobby Flay’s “Throwdown” a little ridiculous, and sometimes insulting to the home chef, I can’t deny that his food does appeal to me more than most of the personalities on TV.

With that in mind, when we went to Las Vegas a few weeks ago and faced the decision of which Celebri-Chef restaurant to dine at, Mesa Grill at Caesar’s Palace seemed like a good choice.  Admittedly, we had to eliminate a lot of restaurants purely based on the menu – if it only covered different cuts of steak, it was a no.  I know that steak is supposed to be great, and expensive steak is supposed to be even better, and as someone who loves food, I, more than most, should love steak.  The truth is I hate steak.  It’s not that I’m opposed to red meat (well, I was for a while in high school because I had an irrational fear of mad cow disease, but the two year sabbatical ended in the drive thru line of In-N-Out Burger in San Francisco), I just prefer meat as more of a side dish or an ingredient in a dish.  When I saw that an option on Mesa’s menu was a Chile Relleno we made a reservation immediately.

(Ross did not find it amusing that the margaritas, albeit delicious, were magenta.)

Thankfully, Bobby Flay DID live up to the hype and Mesa Grill served up some seriously fabulous food.  Everything was delicious from the corn muffins to the, well, side of corn.  I mean, when have you ever eaten at a restaurant and said, “Oh my, this corn is quite outstanding”??  Well, it was.  Here are a few pictures of the food:

Queso Fundido

Mom ordered Grouper topped with a fried squash blossom

Ross had a tuna steak with a caper sauce

And I had the best chile relleno I’ve ever eaten.  Period.  It was utter food bliss and made me want to plan trips to other fancy Food Network Chef’s restaurants to repeat the experience.  (Luckily, we went to San Diego next and I had La Playa fish tacos and was sated for the time being)

Upon our return, we knew that simply talking about this awesome meal to everyone didn’t do it justice, and it wasn’t very nice.  A few google searches later and we found some of the recipes from Mesa Grill – the corn muffins AND the relleno!  A few nights ago we did our best to recreate Bobby’s meal:

The corn muffins were delicious!  Though we could not locate blue corn, we found that it made the muffins look less like mold, so it actually worked out.

Here’s the RECIPE FOR MESA GRILL MUFFINS!

Though the chile rellenos required a little more work, they were totally and completely worth it – though, admittedly, I could eat Manchego cheese as a meal and consider it a success.

Here’s the peppers after they’d been blistered and peeled:

Then stuffed and closed up with toothpicks:

Then fried in a cornmeal batter:

You can find THE RECIPE FOR CULINARY BLISS HERE!

We served the muffins and rellenos up with a side of black beans and vodka tonics.  Though I missed the background noise of slot machines and the tobacco infused scent that is Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas – this meal was pretty darn good, too.

Square Pegs

8 Aug

In my tour of the Southwestern USA, I have hit cities with the sole intention of fun (i.e. Vegas, San Diego), but one week ago Mom and I made a trip down to Austin with no intentions of heavy drinking, beach lounging, or hours spent in front of “Survivor!” slot machines.  No, the trip to Austin was a labor of love – we went down to help Joel and Claire move in to their new house.  Though it was quite hot and there was much work to be done, we had a great time and their house looks so awesome that I had to share some pictures.

Their new house is located in the adorable Hyde Park neighborhood in Austin.  The neighborhood is so charming, filled with small, mid-century houses painted in easter-egg colors.  Most have been updated, but often keeping some original details.  Joel and Claire’s house is a four-square house – with two bedrooms, living room and kitchen each taking up a corner of the house.  This means that every room has windows on two walls – it’s bright and sunny all day long.  Though the place is somewhat small (800 square feet), it is an extremely functional space and perfect for them.  Unfortunately, with a fifty year old house comes a lack of storage space, so much of our time was spent hanging shelves and coming up with creative storage solutions.

The living room:

The Guest Bedroom/Office:

The Kitchen (my favorite!):

And a few details:

Congrats Joel and Claire – your new house couldn’t be cuter!

And, continuing in the spirit of a picture-heavy post – I finally finished knitting the giant squid!

Now I can relax and enjoy my last four days of summer vacation!

Defying Gravity (and logic)

31 Jul

We’re back home after our awesome vacation to Las Vegas and San Diego.  I have several posts in the works, but this morning I wanted to focus on the process of air travel.  You see, flying TO Las Vegas last Saturday was a piece of cake – we had emergency exit rows, the plane wasn’t crowded, our luggage arrived without pause, and we were winning money within an hour of landing.

Our trip home was not quite so delightful.  We flew home from San Diego via Salt Lake City and in our two flights (about 2 hours a piece), we experienced no trouble with airline employees, delays, or any other problems caused by the airport.  Truthfully all irritation we experienced in our 5 hours of air travel was caused by fellow travelers!  With that in mind, I think that if I perhaps share my ideas for improving air travel then you will read them, share them, and while it probably will never make a difference, at least we can all bitch together!

Shit I Knit’s Rules for Air Travel

1. No obnoxious bitching in line. I’ve noticed this trend lately and it irritates me before I’ve even gone through security!  Basically you’re standing in some insanely long line  and some jerk behind you decides that if he expresses his complaints by loudly swearing to himself about the various incompetencies of the airline/airline employees/TSA/etc.  The problem is that the only person who can hear this is me.  And I really don’t care, even though your goal is to have me turn around and join in on your bitching.  But I won’t because it’s dumb.  I’m in no hurry to stand in another line, to sit at an uncomfortable chair at a gate, and read overpriced magazines.

2. Do NOT, under any circumstances, recline your seat. The only place this could ever be acceptable is if you were flying between midnight and five a.m. and your flight was long and EVERYONE on the plane was doing it.  The thing is, while it may make you 10% more comfortable, it’s guaranteed to make the person behind you 90% less comfortable.  Yesterday Ross and I had a fellow traveler in our laps on both flights – and we flew at 10 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon.  I try really hard to be mature in life and handle all situations with grace and kindness, but if someone reclines their seat on a flight?  Oh, it’s ON!  I’m not above irritating someone into flipping their seat back up, in fact, I’ll share with you a step-by-step process for getting a jerk to unrecline ASAP:

Step 1: Arctic blast.  As soon as the jerk reclines?  Turn your little air blaster on full blast and aim it directly at the top of their head.  Give this a minute or two, and if they are still reclined, move on to step 2.

Step 2: Percussion.  I’m 25 and I have no problem kicking someone’s seat on an airplane.  If you have a kid, let them loose on the kicking, but if you’re over age 10, you have to do this on your own.  I’ve found that if you can get the jerk in row 10 to lean forward for just a second, wedge your knees into the seat.  This way when they lean back, they will be up about 3 inches further.  Let them get comfortable and when they are nodding off for their mid-morning nap, release!  Otherwise, any excuse you can find to jolt the seat will do!

Step 3: Obnoxiousness.  Clearly this person’s will to sit at a 110 degree pitch is very strong so you really need to pull out the big guns.  Begin by loudly stating to your seat mate how rude it is when people recline their seat.  Then select an obnoxious reading material and read it with your seat mate as loud as you possibly can.  Yesterday Ross and I read Us Magazine at Earth-shaking volume and honestly the article on “Who Has The Better Butt?” (Ross excitedly exclaimed: KIM KARDASHIAN!) pushed grandma tuberculosis back in her place ASAP!  Once my mom and I read an entire issue of Cosmopolitan together to thwart a recliner and it totally worked.

Step 4:  While I can hardly believe that anyone would choose slight reclining over torture, there is occasionally a traveler who can withstand anything I can dream up.  If that’s the case, you have to go with fear.  When deplaning, get right behind them and loudly comment about the “total jerk” who was in front of you.  If they turn around, give them a serious evil eye.  It won’t do anything, but I sleep better at night knowing that at least they realized what was wrong.

3. Deplane in order. You’ve seen it happen: the second the plane stops, everyone, even tuberculosis grandma (who I didn’t fully explain, there was a geriatric seat recliner in front of me on our last leg who had a dry, hacking, tuberculosis cough the. entire. time. – gross!) suddenly snaps into action, jockeying for position in line to get out.  Wrong.  Stay in your seat until the people two rows ahead of you are getting up, then collect your belongings, don’t whack anyone on the head with your “carry on” bags that take up the entire overhead compartment, and then go.  Someone in the row behind you tries to cut?  As my dad says, don’t be shy to throw a knee, or a hip in to put them in their place.  But seriously, what’s the rush?  You’re going to wait for HOURS at baggage claim anyway.

4. Don’t box me out of baggage claim. If there was one egregious error in air travel, it’s the way 90% of people collect their baggage.  They get their whole family up there and stand in a row one inch from the carousel so nobody else can even see what’s there.  Here’s a tip: why doesn’t everyone stand about 2-3 feet away and simply step forward when one of their bags comes by?  Sadly, I have an answer.  If that was the protocol how could the crazy lady standing directly in front of us, spending one minute scratching her rear and the next fondling every single bag that comes by, possibly read the name on every single black bag before deciding it wasn’t hers? (Ross decided that if you are, in fact, blind and decide to carry a black suitcase, would it kill you to put some sort marker on it?)  Luckily for us, “luggage” for us means a traffic-cone-orange duffel bag leftover from Ross’ tennis days (if the color weren’t enough, the large “WILSON” emblazoned on the side guarantees that nobody will accidentally take your bag).  In short, if everyone stepped back and waited, the whole process would go much smoother.

This concludes my rules for flight. I’ll be back with pictures of food ASAP!