taco bell, and a small digression into bbq


Taco Bell is one of my dirty little secrets. It’s terrible for you, not very tasty, full of salt, and generally is just awful. But it reminds me of my childhood. Fast food was a rare treat with my mom, so with my grandparents, we did what any normal children would do and gorged ourselves. On the weekends we stayed with them, my grandmother, tired of my and my grandfather’s ham-fisted attempts at cooking (the chicken grease muffins are a story for a later date,) would send him out to get something for dinner. My sister and I, being about 7 and 9 at the time, alternated between Taco Bell and Pizza Hut (with an occasional McDonald’s cinnamon roll thrown in for breakfast on Sunday.)

I explained this to VT and he pointed out that when I get stressed or grumpy, I have a tendency to hit Taco Bell. Point taken. As a result, I limit my Taco Bell intake to once every three months.

I broke that rule last night.

Some time ago, I received an e-mail from VT:
“i trust you will be joining me at this event?”

with the following attached:

My response?
“holy shit! i am SO there. if this is a joke, I’m going to be pissed beyond belief.”

So, yesterday, I met VT outside of Cannon, and we walked with another one of his coworkers into the Rayburn cafeteria for free Taco Bell.

I have never worked on the Hill in the classic sense. I worked for a non-profit that’s located on the Hill, but I have never worked in a Senate, House or Committee office, and I have NO intention of ever doing so. Yesterday, i was dressed for work in a denim jacket, tank top, and bubble skirt. That is basically the highest level of formality my job requires. I was wearing flip flops, but in a concession to the occasion, switched to flats. Things like that don’t work on the Hill.

I do LOVE Hill receptions though, which is why I’m glad VT (for the time being) works there. Free beer. Free taco bell. Did I mention the free beer?


I got into an argument with one of VT’s coworkers, a Grade-A bullshitter who tried to convince me that barbecue had originated in Vermont. “We use artisanal pigs,” he said.

“You can use artisanal pigs for barbecue. It’s made from hogs,” I replied.

This led to a discussion of the major fault lines in barbecue- wet vs. dry, pork vs. beef, and most importantly, ketchup vs. vinegar. I, being from NC, come down on the wet, porky, vinegary side. I also might have referenced this map of SC barbecue.

I later resumed this discussion with a friend from Texas, who clearly came down on the exact oppossite side. Poor saps. They don’t know what they’re missing down there.

Easter

I love Easter. Where I’m from, we pour it on thick- loads of food, dying and hiding several dozen eggs, and the most important Easter event- an elaborate Easter basket hunt, complete with little girls running around on frilly dresses, fighting over who gets to use the dog to find Easter eggs in the back yard. In fact, my favorite picture of me is from an Easter when I was about five years old. I’m in a blue and white dress, complete with patent leather shoes and white hair bows, sitting primly in a lawn chair in the middle of the yard, legs crossed, drinking a can of Coke- I was such an elfin child, I could barely hold it with both hands.

As I’ve gotten older, and Easter has become a bit more hectic, my mother and I focused more on culinary escapades over the chocolate bunny and Cabury egg variety. We enjoy Easter because my grandparents permit a bit more flexibility with the menu than they usually do (although we do keep the mainstays of macaroni and cheese and some sort of greens- collard, turnip, or mustard,) as opposed to Christmas and Thanksgiving, which have unalterable menus.

Last year, Easter dinner was rather labor intensive- pork loin with onion marmalade, butternut squash ravioli with brown butter and sage, Cornish hens, green bean and feta salad, greens, macaroni and cheese. At one point, my friend Adam (one of the 20+ people we fed that day) arrived for dinner, and my mother immediately dispatched him to the ravioli filling station set up in one corner of the kitchen. That was also the year I decided Tab energy and vodka made for a charming aperitif.

This year, my mom had to get my sister from school on Friday, and my grandparents and I arrived on Saturday, leaving little time for elaborate prep. We rolled in around 4, and my now-21-year-old sister (who henceforth was not allowed to TOUCH my mother’s car) and I immediately began fighting over who got to drive the car to the store to get bread. Weird.

My mom likes to keep the house at the temperature and the humidity of the Amazon. As a result, there is a rainforest in our living room. It’s sad when you can 1) barely get in the room and 2) barely see the television for the flora

Saturday’s dinner was my mom’s famous Mediterranean chicken packets, the ultimate lazy meal. Drop some vegetables (spinach, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, whatever) in some aluminum foil, top with a chicken breast, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and feta, close up the packet, and whack it in the oven at high heat for 15 minutes. It’s wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am cooking, with consistently delicious results…
I had dinner with my grandparents, and departed to church. Not to actually attend services, mind you, but to put in an appearance at the champagne reception following the Saturday night service. (I didn’t drink though, sadly). From there, Carolina and I trooped out with our Greensboro posse for a night on the town….or the evening spent drinking wine on the couch at my old youth advisor’s house, catching up. Then Carolina, his old college suitemate and I hit downtown, where I am STILL haunted by some of the terrible, terrible fashion crimes walking the streets (white platforms? and jean shorts? really?!) We ended up at Natty Green’s, drinking beer, playing shuffleboard (them) and fending off advances from fat frat-boy wannabes in plaid shorts and Topsiders (me.) I felt like Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama.

The next morning, another fight ensued over a trip out to get a Sunday New York Times (the Greensboro Barnes and Noble no longer sells the Post) and a trip to the store for cheese, sausage, and Cheerwine. Then it was time to get down to the actual business of the day- college basketball.

Oh yeah, we started making Easter dinner too. My mother went low maintenance this year, allowing both of us the chance to sort of hang out and watch basketball. The menu this year featured grilled lamb marinated in yogurt, rosemary (fresh from the GIANT bush in the backyard,) and lemon, a hen roasted in the oven, mac and cheese, cider-chipotle collards, asparagus (ew!), broccoli, and the always classic poundcake and ice cream (my mother makes the poundcake from scratch, and has the recipe memorized.)

(the lamb was a little charred, but trust me, it was DELICIOUS)

Poundcake, and (I think) the wine Adam brought back from Italy for my mom.

In addition to myself, my mom, grandparents and sister, Adam upheld his annual tradition of coming over for dinner/basketball, as well as grandmother’s brother and sister-in-law, AND a whole gaggle of cousins.

(the leaf in the table comes in awfully handy around this time of year)

One of my cousins brought over her puppy, the CUTEST Rottweiler imaginable. She romped around with Audrey (my dog) and escaped some inappropriate advances from Bandit (my grandparent’s dog) before passing out in a tired puppy heap on the dining room floor.
And, just to make you jealous, as someone told me it was sleeting in DC, some gratuitous shots of my wonderfully sunny backyard:

Mum just had the porch redone.

Forsythia and the Red Delicious apple tree

Yellow Delicious apple tree and the Magnolia

Don’t be too thrilled for me. When I got up Monday to walk the dogs, it was snowing. Schizo spring!

dispatches from the field: headed down south to the land of the pine…

It’s noon, we’re searching for a radio station, and we hit my favorite part of the trip- coming around the curve on 95, VCU’s ever expanding campus on one side (screw you, Eric Maynor) and the Richmond train station on the other.

The Wendy’s in South Hill won an award for fastest fast food service. It’s sleeting in DC, and sunny and a little breezy here. We’re far enough South that I can have Cheerwine with my Wendy’s combo.

There’s a pit stop at the ABC store, which combined with a request for a cup of ice from Wendy’s, leads me to believe my grandfather will be snacking on peanuts and drinking something on the rocks while I drive.

Time for the switch at the first rest stop in North Carolina.

I could do this drive in my sleep (but still in my driving shoes.) I can wake up, look out the window, and tell you exactly what highway we’re on (495, 395, 95, 85, 40) and approximately where we are. I’ve been up and down this route more times than I can count- every 2 weeks from the time I was 6 until I was 13, and probably about once a month between then and college.

It’s good to be home.

catching up


Sorry for the lack of posting, as AL was kind enough to point out. I can’t help it. March=March Madness=me abandoning life to basketball.

Here’s my laundry list:
1. Carolina made taco pizza Wednesday night. Taco pizza is awesome.

2. VT and I went to the Saloon. He had an Urbock 23. Hilarity ensued. (Direct quote: “That is some MALT ASS LIQUOR!”)

3. I cheated for a work happy hour and made a “fruit salad” consisting of shit I slammed together from Whole Foods. My office loved it. Poor saps.

4. Another blogger happy hour! (No, I will not be sporting this…although I do have shoes to match it…)

I’m leaving tomorrow- headed down south to the land of the pine – for Easter with the fam/old friends (and to help my sister REALLY celebrate her 21st.) If you’re lucky, I’ll take lots of pictures, and my mom and I won’t set anything on fire.

And I know you’re curious about the game last night. Well, I saw a fat girl wearing see through leggings. Not cute. And I almost threw up on several occasions watching the game. It was great though- I can’t even express how glad I was to see it. I also went to Clyde’s in Chinatown for an AU alum gathering to watch the AU-Tennessee game this afternoon. Good times, saw a a lot of people I haven’t seen since graduation, drank a little (or a lot) too much vodka in the middle of the day. Oops.

That’s all for now.

TARGETtargetTARGETtargetTARGETtarget

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am just a little obsessed with Target. In my hometown, there are three Targets, and when I go home, I visit each of them at least once. My aunt swears that whenever I’m home and I call her, I’m in Target/going to Target/have just left Target. I get e-mail updates about the GO International line. I have memorized the layouts of the Target on Jefferson Davis Highway, as well as the ones in Largo, Lanham, and Bowie (all close to my grandparents’ home in the ‘burbs), and the three in my hometown. I am one of those people who walks in for some mascara and walks out $250 poorer with a cart full of things I didn’t know I HAD to have- my last batch of Target purchases included Riedel bourbon glasses, silicone potholders, a fabulous trench coat, 3 pairs of shoes, Mr.Clean, serving platters, face wash, and wooden spoons for VT. My grandmother always asks me what I need at Target, and I always respond, “I don’t know, but I’m sure there’s something.”

As such, I am pissed that I was not invited to the soft opening. However, I’ve decided to forgive Target, and will be headed there after work today. I have no intention of buying anything (not that that means much- I could use some more mascara) but I just can’t BEAR the thought of it being open AND so close to my house, without me making a pit stop.

Full report tomorrow. For now, DCist has pictures.

things i enjoy

1. Running into friends on the way home.
2. Bonding over basketball, election results, and “mackey cheese” with Carolina.
3. Falling asleep listening to the rain.
4. Turkey sandwiches from K Street Bagel.
5. Union Pub’s new menu, even if they don’t have PBR on draft anymore.
6. Finding my favorite beer, Maudite, at the local bodega.
7. Listening to election results on NPR.