Bloody. Mary.

I wish I could tell you guys that my house was a party pad the night the San Francisco Giants won the World Series. I wish I could tell you I enjoyed all the Giants fans on the Caltrain during my already-long commute home from work during home games. And I wish I could tell you that I skipped out of my conference in Boston to watch them sweep Detroit like it was nobody’s bizniss (although, I will admit that some conference-skipping did occur, but primarily for hanging out and catching up with lots of GC buddies).

I can’t say any of those things. Baseball just isn’t my thing. Winning is cool though, so it was fun to be around all the hype here at home during the last few weeks. For me, I totally prefer NFL season and watching the Bears, who aren’t half bad this year.

I won’t pretend that I keep up with all the stats, that I know the first and last names of all of the players, or that I attentively watch every second of every game (Chris would call me out on this in a heartbeat, because I definitely use TV-watching as a time to multitask). Regardless, when it comes time to watch games around here, on Sunday, it’s something that has to start early, and it has to be done right. Thank you, Pacific Time Zone.

Clearly, this means you need Bloody Marys, because drinking beer at 10 is only for tailgating at NC State games. Bloody Marys are way more classy, and you all know I am ALL about class.

super-spicy bloody marys
makes ~48 oz, or 6-8 drinks (depending on how thirsty you are!)

printable version

ingredients
garnish
1/2 lb thick-cut bacon
cherry tomatoes
pickled green beans
cocktail onions
whatever else you want to garnish with..

salty-smoky-spicy rim
1 T hot smoked paprika
1 T kosher salt
1 T granulated garlic
1 T celery salt
fresh cracked peppercorn
1 t cayenne pepper
2 limes, cut into small chunks

beverage
32 oz organic tomato juice
16 oz decent vodka (Svedka is what I used)
3 T sriracha
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 t wasabi paste
juice of 1 lime
1 T chipotle Tabasco sauce
2 T brine from a pickle or olive jar
1 t celery salt
1/2 t kosher salt
a few turns of fresh-cracked black peppercorn

instructions
preheat oven to 400 F. cut strips of bacon in half and bake on a foil-lined baking sheet fitted with a rack for about 20-25 minutes. remove and let come to room temperature.

meanwhile, make drink, garnishes, and salty rim. make the garnishes by skewering the tomatoes, beans, and onions. and make the rim salt by combining all dry ingredients and dumping some onto a small plate (or special rimming salt dish if you have one). combine all ingredients for beverage in a large container. whisk to ensure that wasabi and other ingredients are well-dissolved.

once the bacon has cooled, assemble the drink by running a small lime slice around the rim of your glass, dipping the rim into the rim salt, and then add 1 bacon strip and 1 garnish skewer along with some ice into the glass. pour that tasty beverage on top and drink drink drink.

 

boy, this cat LOVES her bacon so much that she waits patiently at the oven for it. Okay, she looks to be patiently waiting, but truthfully she meowed for 15 minutes straight. and then i gave her one teeny tiny morsel. she lives a tough life…

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Some Things Take Time

You know what? I’ve been thinking a lot lately. This may come as a surprise to some of you, but it’s true. Mainly, I’ve been ruminating about this wee ol’ life-changing event that’s coming along rather quickly, and all the eensy-teensy pieces that have to fall into place over the next few weeks.

When I’m not running all of the possible iterations of how things are going to shape up over the next few months in my mind, I’m reminiscing about life in Chicago, staring at the skyline as I’m taking the bus into work, and cramming in all of those “Chicago lasts” into the early 2011 months.

Chris and I had our last “last” together this past weekend, and thus began Phase 2 of this feat. We crammed a lot of great restaurant visits into the last two weeks, including Schwa (finally!), Topolobampo (again, finally!) and a regular, Hot Chocolate. For our final weekend together, we figured it totally appropriate to head to one of our very favorite restaurants in Chicago, Bonsoiree, for a Valentine’s day tasting menu. The dinner was amazing, as was expected, and we ended the night with a nice walk (most of the way) home followed by one last movie watched (well, half of it – I nodded off, as usual) together in our condo, a warm fire burning and crackling in the background.

He flew out early Sunday afternoon, and I drove him to the airport and watched him walk away, bags in hand, a nervous smile on his face. My eyes were filled with tears, just like they are as I type this, but not because we’re now living apart until April, as we’ll fortunately see each other a couple of times between now and then, but because it’s the true beginning of a lot of unknowns, a lot of change.

I got back into the car and cranked up some music, which, when Chris aka my DJ isn’t in the car with me, means that I play my Christmas mix from 2009 over and over. Don’t get me wrong, my 2010 mix was nothing short of awesome, but I haven’t managed to take the CD down to the car yet. The first song that played was a Dave Matthews song, You & Me, and the tears started all over again. It’s appropriate though, that song, as if he left it there – on track 5 – on purpose.

It got me to thinking (I know – again!): this whole process, it really isn’t that big of a deal. Really. Sure, were it just lil’ ol’ me heading out West, I’d be terrified. But it’s not, and I’m not. This is an adventure, a new journey, a new Chapter in our lives, and as much as I hate to rush time, I can’t wait for these next few weeks to end and for that new Chapter to begin. I know things will all work out, I know this move couldn’t be more perfect for us, and I know we (cats included) will love San Francisco.

I realized this: when you’re in love, and when you’re happy, there are no doubts in life. None.

It’s just that some things take time. Simple as that.

Homemade Vanilla Extract
makes 1 cup

time commitment: this is a recipe that takes some time – at least 2 months (5 minutes active)

Sure, vanilla beans are expensive, but buying good quality vanilla extract is expensive-r. I buy vanilla beans in bulk from here, and then feel less guilty using them more freely. once you make your own, you’ll never go back to buying store-bought extract – promise.

printable version

ingredients
3 good quality Madagascar vanilla beans
1 c vodka, bourbon, or rum
1 pretty bottle

instructions
using a small knife, slice open the three vanilla beans and shove into a fancy bottle. measure out your liquor and pour into the bottle. close and shake gently.

store bottle in a cool, dry place for at least 2 months – the longer, the better.