The Thelonious Monk of Banana Breads

Life would be so easy if I just craved Kale.

Unfortunately, the restaurant I worked at as a teenager used the stuff to garnish the salad bar, wrapping the bright and sturdy leaves around plastic tubs full of garbanzo beans and jello squares and soupy ranch dressing.  In retrospect this clearly strikes me as a wanton waste of such a noble vegetable.

Still, if it’s three AM and I’m standing in front of my fridge in my pyjamas ready to gnaw off my arm… or if it’s 830 PM and I’m lying face down on my couch with my work shoes off my heels but still technically on because I don’t have the energy to kick them off due to spending the previous 11 hours at work being yelled at by an entire corporate supply chain… I don’t want f***ing kale.

This latest effort to allay my comfort-food cravings reached all the way back into the murky paleolithic prehistory of my baking – before I understood gluten and fat types and pH and not overmixing quickbread and such things.  Back to one of the first things I ever baked.

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Frostbite in July. Who DOES that?

So THAT was fun.

Back in my job coaching days I was responsible for about ten hours a week of random classroom activities.  Ostensibly it was supposed to be classes and teambuilding exercises about things like “how to get along with your co-workers” or “dressing appropriately in the workplace.”

As if I were remotely qualified to DO any of that, let alone TEACH it.

This part of my job became much easier once I realized that I could just do random, loud, messy and pointless activities, so long as “they got everyone involved” and, well, food was involved.

This activity was always my favorite, and I used to do it about once a year when the humidity in Cincinnati became unbearable and tempers in the office would be easily flare up.  I was usually able to convince the agency I worked for to spring for the supplies, too, which in retrospect is extremely surprising given their parsimonious reputation and my utter inability to conceal my contempt for those I reported to.

Anyway, the Ice Cream in a Bag thing caught on, and I still manage to do it once a year or so.  This, however, was the first time since 2004 that I’ve done it for a large group.  This past Saturday, a large group of friends joined me at Ault Park for some cryo-culinary mayhem.


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Grill Baby Grill

I feel sort of perverse writing this post about the Fourth of July with Edith Piaf’s rendition of Les Marseilles still pounding against my skull, but I’m overdue for an update and had such a unexpectedly wonderful holiday.

See, two Fourth of Julys ago, I watched the fireworks over Lake Champlain.  Last years?  Also a blast.  This year  I was content to let the holiday pass without incident.  You know, just stay at home, maybe make something called a “Half-Baked Alaska” in honor of a certain gubernatorial resignation, no big deal.

But David and Laura invited me to tag along to a party.  I was reluctant at first (Suburbs + Strangers usually equals danger for me) but it turns out the party was at the home of Cincinnati Blogger and BBQ judge The Cincinnati Hound.

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I scream in a bag

Mkay I’ve got a real post in the works, but first: Announcement.

I’m having a thing.  An event. Not quite a party, not quite a picnic, and not really an ice cream social. A thing.

We’re going to make ice cream.  And I want you to come.  I’ve invited most of you via email and Twitter already, but just in case I’ve missed anybody I figured I’d post it here.

I will reiterate that there will be no meaningful exertion to make the ice cream.  No churning, plunging, or anything.  A few minutes of mild agitation.  It’ll be worth it.

Those of you who have been privy to one of my “let’s make ice cream in plastic bag” events know what a blast this is – messy, loud, you’ll get your clothes wet, it’s chaotic and pretty intense.

And the ice cream?  It’s quite tasty.  Its thicker than soft serve, and if you are “enthusiastic,” it just about reaches hard-serve consistency.  And it tastes like homemade.

And to make things interesting, let’s make it a contest. I will give a  $20 gift card to Graeter’s (or Aglamesis if you insist, but their  stuff really is grainy) for the most creative add-on. (we’ll vote)   Fresh fruit? Green Tea? Pork products? Bring it!

I will supply the milk, cream, sugar, ice, salt, bags, duct tape and  spoons.  Please bring desired flavorants. A couple of frisbees might  not hurt, either.

Again, it will be at Ault Park on Saturday July 18th. 4PM.  Uhh, in Cincinnati.

Here’s a map.
Shoot me a comment, email, text, whatever, to let me know if you’re coming…

Looking forward to seeing a bunch of you!