Four recipes that everyone always asks me for

(1) Vegetarian chili from Joy of Cooking. I’ve made this so many times I don’t actually need to look at the recipe any more. It’s a lovely, easy chili to make.

(2) Roasted Cumin and Chickpea Salad. This is now my go-to for when we have food parties at work. There’s always plenty of cookies and cakes and chicken and chili. This is a nice easy side dish that is healthy, gluten free if you care about that sort of thing, and a tasty alternative to the standard potluck fare.

(3) Vegetable pot pie with cheddar biscuit crust, also from Joy of Cooking . I found this blog post with the recipe when someone asked me for it, and I love sending people this because it is completely accurate. You MUST be prepared for some serious chopping if you do this recipe, but it’s really worth it. Maybe not when you’re eating dinner at 10pm on a Tuesday, but if you have some time, or a helper, it’s definitely worthwhile.

(4) Martha Stewart Rocky Ledge Bars . Basically just candy stuck together with butter and sugar. Do NOT skip the parchment paper if you make these, or you’ll need to buy a new pan. Martha is not just being fancy with this step.


Driving in the snow

For many years I was terrified of driving in the snow with no real justification other than the near-constant refrain from my mother while I was growing up that I couldn’t go anywhere ever if there was a hint of snow.
After law school when we’d moved to Wheeling, I bought a Subaru Impreza because I wanted a small car that was good in the snow. For many years the Impreza did not disappoint. I actually got, dare I say it, CONFIDENT at driving in the snow.
Unfortunately that ended one day last February when the Impreza hit some ice and skidded into a main road and into a Cadillac SUV.


So much for my Impreza.

Thanks to global warming I have not had the opportunity to drive in the snow since then until today. And it was a doozy. I was downtown when it started snow/sleeting and I had to drive to Greenfield to get Elena from Elizabeth, then back home.
I had the opportunity to stop at Elizabeth’s, but I was afraid the roads would get worse if I waited. Sadly, this was not correct. I should have stayed there. My trip from Downtown Pittsburgh to Greenfield to the North Hills took THREE HOURS of white-knuckle driving…but you know what? I was super-careful and I made it!
So I’m not saying I’m completely recovered from my accident, but shit, if I can drive like I did today, I certainly feel better about my chances of getting around.
Elena and I had a fun time playing in the snow in the late afternoon. You know, after I had a full glass of wine at 3pm.

Vacationing in a city where you used to live

We’re spending a few days in January in the Washington DC area.  I lived in the DC area from 1998-2002 and still have some friends there, so it’s nice to see them from time to time.  Plus, we don’t have to buy three plane tickets for all of us to get there, so it’s cheaper.

The last time we went, we stayed with our friends who live in Frederick.  We love our friends that live in Frederick and we’re definitely planning to stay with them one day, but Frederick is about an hour north of DC and it felt like we spent most of that trip in the car.  So we’re getting a hotel this time.  And I used Priceline for the first time!  It was very exciting.  We’re planning to go down on Wednesday, stay in hotels til Saturday, then stay in Frederick Saturday night.  I played around with the settings a bit and found out that there was a significant increase in price between staying two nights in a hotel versus three.  

Ben suggested that we get a cheaper hotel for the first day.  So for the first night that we’ll be there I did the magical thing where you select a geographical area and you get a deep discount, but they pick the hotel for you.  WHAT?!  I’m getting lack-of-control shakes just thinking about it.  

It was pretty cool to sort of wait while they “found” me a hotel and then told me where it was.  I wish I were brave enough to do that for the rest of the trip, but I’m too particular, and the geographic area was unsatisfactory.  So I did a second reservation in Arlington for the next two nights where I picked a particular hotel.  It is about two blocks from where I used to work – so while the area is not super fantastic at first glance, I know good restaurants close by, and we’ll be close to the Metro which is the most important thing anyway since we plan to take advantage of free Smithsonian activities for much of the trip.

Now that I’ve made two non-refundable hotel reservations I’m certain that we will have a blizzard that weekend and not be able to leave our house.  If you live in the Pittsburgh or the DC area I would recommend stockpiling groceries in advance of January 23.