The days following Thanksgiving are always a blur. Days off that are different from the norm. Big meals (hopefully it's not presumptuous to assume that many of us do multiples) on days other than Sunday. Friends coming and going at all hours. We often forget what day it even is! Realistically, it's safe to say that it will remain this way right on through until X-mas. Here's a rundown of how we spent the beginning of the  Holiday season.               

J: 1-4 Every year I am sent into the great beyond (creepy crawlspace/attic above the garage) with strict orders to not return without ALL of the boxes of X-mas decor. Especially the Creepy Santas.
L:  As previously mentioned, I love Christmas decorations.  Somehow I managed to convince John to drag down the boxes after consuming a large meal which consisted of, but was not limited to, almost a dozen of my mom's deviled eggs. Perhaps it was his guilt from this overindulgence which led him to be so easy about the whole thing.  Whatever the reason, I was beyond thrilled to get my Santas out.

J:5 We like to try to make up for all of our many gluttonous indiscretions by making small healthy meals like this. Wheatberry, Kale, Tomato and White beans.
L:  John made this special for me.  It was delicious! 

J:6 We had Nicole, Gray and Nick over for a very spirited (spirit meaning both slightly competitive and consumption of spirits) game of Apples to Apples. This is a picture of my less than desirable hand.
L:  I won for the second time in a row.  Pretty sure they won't let it happen again.

J:7 Lord Winky Von Larry spent much of his time trying, as he often does, to convince us he is indeed a lap dog

J:8 The boys spent some time creating giant landscapes for Lego men to do battle on.

J:9 Lindsay sent me a text while I was at work that read "We need a new tree skirt. I think I will make one". The next text I got was this picture. Pretty awesome! Doubly awesome that she made it with some random fabric that she had laying around.
L:  It was a fun little impromptu project.

J:10 For dinner Saturday night Finn requested "Soup like from Saigon wif dose widdle dumpwins". Of course, we were happy to oblige him. Lindsay's dough for the dumplings was spot on!
L:  The soup was pretty damn good.



Degrees of Difficulty - Pie

Depending on how much creating this post has offended her sensibilities, "Degrees of Difficulty", featuring our good friend Michelle will be an ongoing feature post. We love her, and her writing. We also like it when our friends show an interest in real cooking. Albeit, a somewhat self deprecating and slightly masochistic interest. But an interest nonetheless. So here it goes. (Also, for clarification, 
Lindsay and John = The Cheesies)

I made some pie last week. One pumpkin and one apple. Like, from scratch. Maybe not remarkable to many, but for me… this was a huge step in my inchoate culinary career. Don’t get me wrong. I have MANY talents that I’ve added to my cooking repertoire including, but not limited to: chicken (baked OR pan fried!), spaghetti, cookies from the recipe on the back of the Tollhouse bag, and my personal favorite: stir-fry (international!). However, I had yet to venture further into the experimental realm and when it was announced that we would be participating in a Friendsgiving at the Cheesies… well, I knew it was time. I prepared myself all week by Googling what types of dishes are save in the oven, where to purchase said dishes, and I practiced and mastered my “unsurprised” reaction just in case the pies ended up being inedible. I woke up at the ridiculous hour of 11 am in anticipation and attempted to distract myself by watching 3 hours of American Horror Story on the sofa in my pajamas. I know, I know. 3 hours REALLY isn’t that long to watch television on a 13-inch computer screen but I didn’t realize that pies take like… 5 hours. So I frantically assembled my brand new food processor that I received as a wedding gift six months ago, gathered all the necessary ingredients, and placed all of my baking utensils in a row. Here are three items that one should own prior to making a pie that I unfortunately didn’t have: 

1. Rolling Pin. Fortunately I’m super buff so it wasn’t too difficult to flatten the dough, but it would have certainly helped to own one.
2. Oven Mitt. I don’t think I need to explain why this is necessary… or why I didn’t already have one.
3. Toothpicks for testing “doneness”. I used a fork instead but it exposed my inexperience as a baker. The pumpkin pie looked a toddler had already been gnawing on it.  
If you are a normal person, these items shouldn’t be a major problem for you. Another word of caution: the dough must be chilled and, if it’s possible, make the dough the day before otherwise you risk experiencing the same agonizing stress that I endured. I just managed to get the crust chilled enough for baking after I stuck it in the freezer for 30 minutes.  

After I pulled the pies from the oven with a bath towel, changed out of my pajamas, and wiped up my mess, my husband arrived home from work with just enough time for me to pretend like the whole thing had been pulled off effortlessly. I don’t know how many times I said “It’s so not even a big deal” that night. Our little Friendsgiving was great: the food, the company, AND the pie. At least that’s what everyone told me. I wouldn’t know. I don’t like pie.  

Pastry Dough: 

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Drizzle evenly with 4 tablespoons ice water and gently stir with a fork (or pulse in food processor) until incorporated.
Squeeze a small handful: If it doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated, then test again. (Do not overwork mixture, or pastry will be tough.)  
Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together with scraper and form into 2 balls, then flatten each into a 5-inch disk. Wrap disks separately in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

Apple Pie 
Gourmet  | September 2002  

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 1/2 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and each cut into 10 wedges
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Put a large baking sheet in middle of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.
Whisk together flour, zest, cinnamon, allspice, salt, and 2/3 cup sugar and gently toss with apples and lemon juice.
Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining piece chilled) on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round, then fit into a 9-inch (4-cup) glass or metal pie plate. Trim edge, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Chill shell while rolling out dough for top crust.
Roll out remaining piece of dough on lightly floured surface with lightly floured rolling pin into an 11-inch round.
Spoon filling into shell, then cover with pastry round and trim with kitchen shears, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Press edges together, then crimp decoratively. Lightly brush top of pie with egg and sprinkle all over with remaining tablespoon sugar. Cut 3 steam vents in top crust with a small sharp knife.
Bake pie on hot baking sheet 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and continue to bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, about 40 minutes more. Cool pie to warm or room temperature on a rack, 2 to 4 hours.  

                                              Pumpkin Pie
                                             Gourmet  | November 1999       
  • 15-oz can canned solid-pack pumpkin (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Special equipment: pie weights or raw rice
  Roll out dough into a 14-inch round on a lightly floured surface and fit into a 9-inch glass pie plate (4-cup capacity). Crimp edge decoratively and prick bottom all over. Chill 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°°F.
Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake in middle of oven 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil and bake shell until pale golden, 6 to 10 minutes more. Cool in pan on a rack. Whisk together pumpkin, cream, milk, eggs, brown sugar, spices, and salt, then pour into shell.
Bake pie in middle of oven 45 to 50 minutes, or until filling is set but center still trembles slightly. (Filling will continue to set as pie cools.) Transfer to rack and cool completely



Thanksgiving has admittedly never been our favorite holiday.  From the time we were little kids, there was always a hope that it would be something special, like in the movies.  The somewhat dysfunctional extended family, that is more endearing than crazy, getting together in their reindeer Christmas sweaters to eat the perfect meal.  Loud, controlled chaos. But, somehow perfect.
This, unfortunately, was never the case. We both come from 2 family families. Wait, is that even a term? Whatever, you get it. Each of us has a somewhat staid and small one, the kind that goes through the motions but doesn't quite go "all in", if you know what we mean. They are the kind that get up and cook all day long.  It's more out of obligation or expectation and not really desire.  They never enjoyed cooking and the final result was definitely a reflection of that.  Dry turkey, gravy from a can, jellied cranberry from a can, stuffing from a mix, etc.  It all just seemed sort of pointless. Then, we have the other family, these are the ones that push the limits of what a Holiday is and what is acceptable .There are some eerie similarities between Lindsay's 1980's kinfolk and John's 1980's kinfolk (Kinfolk is used here because of its  appropriateness for both parties, and because it's damn fun to say). Especially when looking at photos of holidays past. It is not uncommon for a polaroid to be fished from the depths of our seemingly bottomless picture box and hear the question asked, in all seriousness, "mine or yours" .  Within this box, feathered blonde hair and elastic waistbands abound. Aside from the obvious fashion mistakes our respective kin have shared, the pictures of past holiday spreads give proof to the many many years of traveling, eating, conversing, and in general, feeling like we were missing something. So, as a promise to ourselves we have decided to take back our holidays in an attempt to restore them to their purest form. Today, we will give thanks for each other and for our lives together.




The holidays are officially upon us. Last night we had our first holiday gathering (Friendsgiving) at our house. I really had to restrain myself from getting the Christmas decorations out early and decorating this weekend. John is definitely not as eager. For him, decorating means getting into our treacherous attic, digging through all of the many boxes that are sent up there (never to be seen again) and then lugging them downstairs. Generally, in my excitement I proclaim that he has forgotten several boxes and should return to the attic so we can get started. Immediately! Again, he is sweet and accommodating, but less than thrilled.
I am not certain when or how I got so excited about holiday decorations. Maybe it's because I really love my little collections of things and I only get to see them once a year. Or maybe it's because it makes the holiday seem that much more special or magical. Whatever the reason, the decorating starts next weekend and I can't wait!!

Here are some Christmas decoration tutorials to get you in the mood.

1/ 2/ 3/ 4/ 5/ 6/ 7/ 8/



Well then.

 What! Live Music twice in a week? I'm most certainly living a life of excess. It was a totally wild night too, I must have consumed 2 whole beers! All that humid sweaty air, leather; worn on parts of the body other than the foot, oddly out of place frat bros moshing and patting each others butts as though they had just reached the pinnacle of the air guitar summit, every white dude with dreadlocks for 100 square miles, and beards! Good Lord, The Beards! It was almost too much for a highly jaded and slightly surly little guy such as myself! I could barely keep the testosterone from bursting out of all orifices (sorry, that was a gross but wholly necessary visualization). What I'm really trying to say is, it was So Awesome! The truth is, I probably would not even have considered if it had not been such an awesome band (it was Mastodon, if you care to know). Not only would I not have considered it, but I would not have been able to go without the help of gracious friends who got me a free ticket and paid for gas and beer. So, thanks a ton to them. The whole experience did get me thinking though, about the course of my life and the parallels between John of the past and John as the Dad of what I hope to be the metalheads of the future (more on that fight later). See, I have spent a lot of time on the road, both playing music and traveling to see it. It has been a part of my life since the first time I saw a local band exclaim the words "all I wanted was a fucking twinkie" into a microphone at the ripe old age of 15.  Upon this profound and most revelatory of exclamations I had an epiphany and it was............"Whoa, cool" These guys were obviously assholes and people still gave them money to hear them make music. I was hooked. I'm sure there is a deeper connection somewhere and maybe someday when I'm wildly famous for something I will tell the whole story of that night and where I got my start. Right down to the guy with the dangly earring who spoke to me as if he were some sort of Pirate Sage telling me "arr, you're awfully small to mix it up with these guys, but I like your spirit". He said this to me after carrying me out of the pit. Look at me, carrying on. I should save these gems for future Grand-kids. Or not. Seriously though, the more I look at the differences between being on the road with a band and being a dad that occasionally sneaks away to heavy metal shows  the more the similarities arise.

Because I like the way they look, I made a list.

  • Arguably, to be done correctly and efficiently, both require a van. Ample room is necessary for sleeping, stowing away food (i.e french fries and nuggets of varying disciplines) and hauling all of the required equipment for the days activities.
  • Both of these vehicles smell. They smell bad sometimes. Especially if they are filled with dudes. Heavy Metal usually smells more like beer and B.O than it does old milk and forgotten happy meals. This smell is amplified during peak operating season, which for both is between June and September.   
  • The diets of both little boys and touring bands are very similar. The things that little boys want to eat the most, the kinds of things they cry and complain until they receive are more often than not found in the aisles of a gas station. Which is where many touring bands eat everyday. On occasion, they are both told no and escorted out with nothing.
  • Conversations that are more than a few sentences usually take a turn for the gutter. Heavy Metal usually prefers the more anatomically correct nomenclature. Fart and Booby is used by both partys. The volume of these conversations, as well as all interactions amongst them is done at maximum volume.
  • Any and all actions performed by either party are done so solely in the spirit of self-interest with a specific emphasis on "This is so awesome".
  • Sleep is of little interest to either party, until it is happening. When it is happening, it is best to not disturb. Both party's are unpredictable when roused.
  • Personal image is marginally important to both. As long as there is one element displayed to alert their peers as to there social leanings the rest of their appearance is of little consequence. This usually presents itself by way of a skull on a t-shirt and hair that has not been washed since someone else did it for them.
I could go on and on, but what I really want to do is throw the boys in the Toyota and blast "Sworn to the Dark" until they stop whining for Human League (yes, that Human League) and start banging their  goofy little heads.




 I have had the last 1.5 days off and not a single obligation.  That never happens.  So what did I do?  Aside from getting in some hang out time with the boys, I baked.  I have not been baking as much as I would like lately, especially bread.  I decided to remedy that and I baked two different types in less than twenty-four hours. Cinnamon swirl and pita bread. The cinnamon bread turned out somewhere between a sweet roll and brioche.  It was definitely a successful experiment! The pitas were AMAZING.  I have been wanting to make pitas for a while now, but have always been put off by the long rise time.  For some reason, I never think to proof overnight in the fridge.  Anyhow, I decided today was the day and I am glad that I did.  Here are a few pictures of my 1.5 day vacation and a recipe for those pitas.

                                     PITA BREAD                           

3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon honey
2tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4  cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix yeast with a few tablespoons of the water.  Let stand for five to ten minutes or until frothy.
 Add the yeast mixture  in with the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the olive oil and 1 1/4 cup water into stand mixer, or alternatively, you can mix by hand. . All of the ingredients should come together into a firm dough. Knead the dough on the low setting for ten minutes.  Again, you can do this by hand for ten to fifteen minutes.

Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover until doubled in size. ( I had some running around to do, so I let mine rise in the fridge for a few hours and let it come back to room temp before baking.)

Punch down the dough.  Separate into eight equal balls, cover and let rest. Preheat oven to 500 degrees,along with a pizza stone, if you have one.
After twenty minutes or so, use a rolling pin to flatten into discs.  The discs should be 1/8 inch thick.
Place pitas, two at a time, on the pizza stone and bake for approximately three minutes.  They will be puffed but not browned.  Remove and repeat with the remaining dough.

Cool and fill with whatever you would like.  



The Best Days.

Given this last week, I don't think the fact that we decided to go out and unwind was totally unreasonable. We do not go out together very often anymore. Come to think of it, we don't really go out that much individually either. Maybe we are getting old. Maybe we are more selective in how we spend our free time. Most likely, we are just kind of lame and tired. C'est La Vie, such is the life of parents with limited access to all night sitters. On the rare occasion that we do go out, we  go all out. Which means that we hang out at the same old dive bar with our friends who don't need babysitters and pretend that we aren't still on our first beer when the second band starts playing.

Dive bar.

J:  Omar and Bob. Sometimes we make heavy metal together. When I'm not around they make Dream Pop. I suppose that's ok too.
L:  You should check them out. 

J: I did not think I was going to like what was about to happen onstage when I took this picture. I was wrong. Quite wrong.
L: Mr Gnome was so good.

 L: Saturday morning I decided it would be fun to do some sort of fall craft with leaves.  So the boys and I headed outside to find some.

J: I was knee deep in grease and tires when these were taken. However, I was sneaking peeks of their progress as L sent them to me via a well positioned cell screen in my toolbox.
L:  We made a pretty little garland.

J: There is not much I look forward to more than Sunday morning breakfast.
L:  Sunday morning we got up and had a big breakfast.  Finn helped me make the biscuits and gravy.
Daddy made the rest.




 This week our family lost a member. Our kitten Matilda Wormwood died. It is always painful to lose something or someone dear to you, and as parents this passing was especially difficult. We all loved her very much, she was a major part of our daily lives. After she passed away (the boys were asleep, thankfully) our thoughts turned immediately to them. Telling your child that an important part of their life is gone and seeing their heartache is one of the worst things we've experienced. How do you explain such a thing? Life really sucks sometimes. It's unfair. 
 The next day when we told them, neither one would believe us. We broke the news separately but they responded the same way. Initial disbelief, tears, the tightest of hugs and an onslaught of the kind questions no parent ever wants to answer. Gavin understands that he will never play with Matilda again, and that she will never curl up on his pillow and purr as he falls asleep. Finn, in some ways is luckier. He has his four-and-a-half year old way of looking at the world. There is always something new and beautiful. He can remember the good and forget the bad. If we could all be so lucky as to learn from our children, we could all be a little bit better. Here is to better times and remembering what is dear to us.
R.I.P Baby Kitten, we will miss you always.



 Since Lindsay has started her new job I have had Fridays off. Despite the fact that it sometimes seems like a false start to the weekend I have really enjoyed it. The main reason for it being so awesome is I get to spend time with Finn. One on one time is hard to come by around here and this has been awesome for both of us. One of our favorite things to do is cook and eat together (go figure, right). However the act of cooking becomes so much more fun when we both realize we can make all the things that Mom and Gavin will not eat, but we love! Runny egg sandwiches, sure! Liverwurst with mustard and onions, oh yes! He is most definitely my son. Today I asked him what we should make for our special lunch and without hesitation he said "Sushi, Dad". This is a little more labor intensive than most of our Friday lunches but it is always fun to go a little overboard now and then. Plus, having Finn help prep veggies with his "safe knife" is always a good time.
We actually do sushi pretty often for dinner at home, it works really well for those nights when none of can decide on what we want. About a year ago I bought a sushi press for making Oshizushi which really cuts down on prep time and it makes it a lot less fussy than rolling it. The press also makes it much easier for the boys to help.

Here is how we do it.
1. Make your rice. Japanese short grain/sushi rice. As much or as little as you wish. 
We usually err on the side of more than we need, it's usually not enough.
Put the rice in a large bowl and wash it with cold water. Cook it up. Read those instructions if you're unsure on your ratios of rice to water.

As soon as the rice has fished cooking spread it out on a large cookie sheet or plate to cool.
 While rice cools, prepare vinegar.
Sushi Vinegar
2/3 Cup Rice Vinegar (unseasoned)
1 Tbl. Mirin
1 Tbl. Salt
1 Tbl. Sugar
Add all ingredient together Heat to dissolve.

Once rice is cooled. Add Vinegar solution 1 Tbl. at a time until rice is evenly coated. Be careful not to add too much, the rice will not want to stick to itself.
Now it's time to prep your veg.
This is the part that make this recipe so versatile. You can pretty much add whatever you want to these and they will still taste good. Salmon, Cucumber, Avocado, Carrot, whatever. You wanna add a hot dog, I won't judge you!
Our list today included:
Green Onion
Haricot Vert
Sweet Potato
Yellow Bell Pepper
Smoked Salmon

If you don't want to end up with everything in the produce section don't take this guy!

We set up our boards and prepared for our "Mise".

even plated his without my help. Makes me proud.

Now that you've finished your prep, it's time to start making some sushi. 
Finn makes it look pretty easy. 
Because it is!
1. Stuff a little rice in the bottom.
2. Add whatever the hell you want.
3. Add some more rice.
4. Put on the top and smoosh it all together. This is Fins favorite part!
5. Top with additional what have you's
6. Use the guides to slice em into squares.
7. Repeat until you run out of ingredients. Which may take a while!
That's it. Pretty simple.
If that wasn't enough of a tutorial, watch this dude whip some up

We had extra, so we took some to mom at work.

Hope you all had an awesome Friday!




        We don't really buy each other gifts, and if you read the last post I'm sure you gathered that we don't really have the budget to do so, even if we wanted . To us, there are so many more important things and people to spend our money on. This is a little feature of what we like for one another,  for ourselves and our little his/hers collection. Enjoy.

   a) b) c) d) e) f) 



What we do.

Collectively, since we've been together, we have developed a somewhat broad and eclectic skill-set. Coffee Roaster, hair stylist, certified tax assessor, professional bicycle mechanic, retail person, baker and chef. Aside from the tax assessment gig, a lapse in judgement which was basically an  "Oh, shit were having another kid, I better grow up" kind of thing. They have all had one thing in common. They really have not sucked. We have even been fortunate enough to have had some really awesome ones. They have afforded us the opportunity to be somewhat creative, have flexible hours and keep us moderately comfortable. I'm not going to lie, we've come home to the lights being out when there has been no storm. But we've made it work. The problem is, despite some of these jobs being great they have never been enough, never quite right. We're restless. Restless because we know what we want. We have always known, and now we're finally ready to get it.  This makes it incredibly difficult to wake up in the morning and drag your ass to work and pretend to care.  All we can do all day long is dream about the future.  Dream about the food, the menu, the execution , and the day we don't have to punch in for someone else. (in case you have not caught on, were working on opening a small restaurant). It is both exciting and miserable, and it cannot happen fast enough.  So, here we stand trying to make it through another day, hoping that tomorrow is THE day. Cheers to anyone else working for something better.

Despite the fact that we have really liked most of our jobs. We feel this video is still appropriate. If for no other reason than his totally F'n awesome hat!


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