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August, 2011

  1. Summertime: Love, Death, and the County Fair

    August 21, 2011 by Laura

    You’d think that summer would be the ideal time time to eat nothing but fruit and vegetables. Berries for breakfast, gazpacho for lunch, and a pound of leafy greens for dinner, right? Wrong. Beer, beer, and beer with grilled tri-tip. Need I say more?

    Here’s a re-cap of the summer:  Whoa, wait a minute. Is it crazy that summer is basically over? Is this fair? Summer is over, and I still don’t have any ripe tomatoes. This has been the coldest summer in Northern California history, I think. But I digress.

    Remember that “Biggest Loser” challenge I joined at work? I lost 9 pounds in 12 weeks, or 5% of my initial body weight. I would have won if I hadn’t been away on vacation for the weigh-in on August 1. Impressive, no? Very impressive when I tell you just how far I’ve fallen off the Nutritarian wagon. I’m sorry, new reader “Deb,” I hope I can help you keep your food integrity by being a horrible example. Don’t do this!!

    How was that vacation you wondered? Glad you asked. We loaded up the Subaru at 3 am to catch the  7:10 Jet Blue SFO-BOS. It was a cool morning, promising to be another perfectly temperate day in the Bay Area. We had been warned about the “Killer Heat Wave” lurking over the Rockies, but nothing could have prepared us for the oven formerly known as New England. Holy shit. Who knew that I would need to travel to coastal Maine to experience summer heat & humidity unlike anything outside of Bangkok. And because Maine is, well Maine, there are no air conditioners in the entire state. It is simply un-Yankee to own an air conditioner. It falls under the “make-do and do without” clause of the Yankee Manifesto. We wilted.

    We arrived starving in Boston on a Thursday afternoon, and the first thing Dale reminded me of was Bertucci’s pizza. If you’ve never heard of Bertucci’s, it’s a Boston chain restaurant that arguably has the best chain restaurant pizza in the US. They earned a special place in our heart when they once messed up our order, and then sent us off with a free pizza. Free pizza is the best pizza of all. We didn’t go to Bertucci’s because by the time we got going, we were so tired we could no longer form three syllable words. We were grunting things like,”Exit here for sandwich.”

    We said,  “Exit here for sandwich” as we approached the “Topsfield” exit. We figured that Topsfield was a town with it’s own exit, and as such would have a grocery store. Nope. Town of Topsfield was as quainty-quaint-quaint as a New England town could be, with a bunting-festooned gazebo, big ol’ Congregationalist church there in the middle, shops with nice little wooden signs, but damn if we could find a grocery store. Hardware store, yes; martial arts school, check; laundromat, ay yuh. Finally we asked a sensibly-dressed New England type if there was someplace to buy food, “Is there a grocery store here? Where do people who live here buy their food?” Apparently this is top secret information in Topsfield, because she gave me a nice smile, a blank stare, and pointed at a forlorn looking sub shop(pe). So, we ate forlorn subs on our way up to Maine.

    And that was the start of the non-Nutritarian portion of my summer, which has continued up to this point. Excuse me, while I pour myself another drink.

    From a dietary standpoint, Maine was not a disaster. Yes, I ate lobster, but I managed to eat a lot of salads and greens. The high point was the garden salad I enjoyed with my old college classmate Becca. There is nothing like lunch with an old friend and a beer in the middle of the week, while the kids are playing with the hose. Blissful, really. The low point was the argument I had with someone over whether to continue to leave the deli sandwiches out in the 95 degree weather or not. This took place during the memorial gathering for my aforementioned sister-in-law, Diane.  I said “no,” and threw out a tray that had already been out for hour. Thrifty Yankee Woman looked aghast and suggested we “bring them inside and cool them off.” Lack of air conditioning and refrigerator space notwithstanding, “cooling off” rapidly dividing bacteria does not help. I won the argument and dumped a bunch of sandwiches, but not in time to save my mother-in-law from a bout of salmonella.

    We went from memorial week in Maine to wedding weekend in Philadelphia, Land of the Cheese Steak. Yes I ate one. I ate it at the baseball stadium where we watched the Giants beat the Phils. Go Giants! I think that was the last game they won… Oh right, my brother’s wedding. The event that started this whole blog in the first place. Ok, for sticking with me all this time, here it is, The Beige Dress:

    Not too bad, eh? A strategically placed bouquet and everybody’s happy. To give you some idea of how far I’ve come, here is a picture of me from September 2010 with a strategically placed baby.

    Those pants are way too big now. And that is my “Kooky Festival Lady” hat. You’ll have to go up to Strawberry if you want to catch its next airing.

    Anyway, the wedding was lovely.The wedding would have been perfect had my aforementioned father not DIED the night before. Sorry to drop it on you like that. It was a poignant day to be sure. I would post pictures of my brother and his beautiful bride, but they are both naturally tall, thin, and great looking, so forget it.

    So, there was much drinking and caking and snacking during all these travels and travails. When we arrived back in perfectly temperate Northern California, I was delighted to discover that I had gained not an ounce. Hooray! Sadly, the 10 day holiday set my garden way back. It looks absolutely feral.

    We had very little down time between the back east trip and Cur-ville, our annual party for our closest friends and everyone else on Earth. But I had just enough time to start taking on the summer party season with real determination, because between the trip and Cur-ville was the Sonoma County Fair!!

    I love county fairs. How far did I fall? More beer, fresh mini-donuts with caramel sauce, the biggest plate of spaghetti I have ever seen from Art Ibleto’s, and perhaps something like a deep -fried, bacon-wrapped, twinkie on a stick. No, not really. There was no stick.

    Anyhoot, it’s pretty much been pahty, pahty, pahty since then, with things really ramping up this week. It was Dale’s birthday last week, our anniversary the next day, and my birthday is next week. Last night we went out to the coast for a date (!) and I had duck confit & creme brulee. I probably took a year off my life with dinner alone — hopefully a crappy year. Now I need recipes for an excruciatingly healthy birthday cake. Anyone?