slubs in the city

Slub (adj): Maverick; unorthodox; independent in behavior or thought.


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are there any desserts that pay tribute to redheads?

Here’s an explanation for my train of thought concerning the title of this post: you’ve got your blondies and you’ve got your brownies, so are there any desserts (potentially having to do with strawberries?) that redheads everywhere could champion as their own? Not the most enlightened question that’s ever crossed my mind, surely, but valid nonetheless. Tip: do not search Google for any combination of the words “dessert” and “redhead”. You will only find porn. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Based on all the food blogs I’ve browsed in the past few months, here’s the formula I’ve deduced for posting about the culinary arts:

Quippy opening commentary + artsy photographs of the food prep process + drool-worthy picture of the final results + recipe and building instructions buried somewhere obscure within the post = successful blogging about food!

My commentary is lame, my recipe is front and center, I have too many crappy and unnecessary photographs, and I’ve included the nutritional content of this particular dessert, but none of that matters because these blondies taste awesome.

Blondies with Chips

Prep/Total Time:

  • Prep: 5 min.
  • Bake: 20 min. + cooling

Yield: 1 dozen (yeah right, more like a half-dozen if we’re being realistic about how big people normally cut these babies)

Nutrition Facts:

One serving (1 bar) equals:

  • 133 calories
  • 7 g fat
  • 2 g saturated fat
  • 18 mg cholesterol
  • 67 mg sodium
  • 17 g carbohydrate
  • 1 g fiber
  • 2 g protein

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

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In another bowl, whisk the egg, oil, honey, and vanilla.

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Stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients until blended.

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Stir in chocolate chips (batter will be thick).

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Spread batter into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray.

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Bake at 350° for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

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Cool on wire rack. Cut into bars.

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Enjoy!

con amor,

shan

[Photo credit: all me baby.]

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baby in a pumpkin suit.

I’m a huge fan of dressing up in costume for any and every occasion, minus the Renaissance Festival. I have never done that, and I don’t believe my life is any bit the worse for it.

Here is a random sampling of past costumes.

80’s night at the bar.

arrested development party. tobias (duh), rita, lindsay, and lucille.

harry potter midnight premier. sirius, hedwig, and fawkes.

religious figures party. buddy shanus (i am my own religious figure…the spanish inquisition would love that) and michael jackson.

parks and recreation party. ben, jerry (that’s a damn fly party shirt), tom, and ron.

dressed up for the Enlightenment Salon junior year of high school. lookin’ fly.

So imagine my delight when Halloween eventually rolls around and I have yet another excuse to pretend to be something I’m clearly not. This year, I dressed up as a zebra and was part of a 5-woman zebra herd. Contrary to general trends in women’s Halloween costuming, I was not a sexy zebra. This is because zebras are not sexy. In fact, zebras kind of resemble donkeys and donkeys are definitely not the lookers of the animal kingdom.

zebra in the middle of grazing on a twizzler.

Another thing that I love almost as much as dressing up in ridiculous costumes is The History Channel’s website. In fine fashion, they’ve been putting out videos and articles and photo slides and infographics galore about the tradition of Halloween, from when it supposedly started as a Celtic celebration called Samhain to its current family-friendly form.

According to THC, the custom of dressing up for Halloween could come from a few historical practices. For example, during the Samhain festival, partygoers would disguise themselves in various ways to make their true identities indistinguishable. The thought was that malevolent spirits wouldn’t know who you were if you didn’t look like yourself, and would thus be less likely to mess with you. Today, some women dress like farmer zombies in flannel and overalls to achieve the same repelling effect on men. Other girls don’t quite get the point.

wut is this. [image credit: here.]

Another popular thought is that the costume idea stems from a practice called “guising”, where young children in the UK would get dressed up and go from door to door, accepting treats (such as food, coins, or wine [alas, it was much easier for a 9-year-old to get drunk back in the good old days]) in exchange for entertainment. When I was a senior at Olaf I went trick-or-treating with some of the international students in Northfield. One of the neighbors wouldn’t give us candy unless we sang Beautiful Savior, which is a hymn any good Ole should have memorized by heart. I didn’t know it. I would have failed at guising.

On Wednesday night I am going to be sitting on my front porch, decked out in my zebra onesie, with a jack- o’-lantern at my side and a huge bowl of candy on my lap. I’m very much hoping that I’ll see a few children running around dressed up as dinosaurs and princesses and Spider Man. A baby in a pumpkin costume would also be acceptable.

definitely yes. [image credit: here.]

None of that above paragraph was intended in any way to imply that I am a creeper.

What is your favorite Halloween guise?

con amor,

shan

[Additional photo credits: muh freendz and muh instagramz.]


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share a smile

It’s been one of those weeks. You know, when it isn’t necessarily a bad week, but nothing seems to be quite right? Unhappy events take place. Like when your pancakes won’t fry up, so you turn the batter into a (very flat) cake that tastes mysteriously like cheesecake and you eat brussel sprouts for dinner instead. Or when you try to be creative and knit an afghan, but you end up starting over four times, before a failed 3 hours at trying to fix it forces  you to start over for a fifth time. Or when you forget your lunch at home, even though you took the time to pre-pack it the night before like an adult. Or when it rains, snows, and sleets and the sky is perpetually grey. Or when you realize that supervising people is  really difficult. These are just possibilities of what may happen to you. And you may be a bit flustered or upset. And you may decide you need a weekend away in Chicago to deal with it.

Let’s just say that has essentially been my week, with a few more misplaced keys, cards, and jackets thrown in there to mix it up. Yes, to you this may not sound like a difficult week. It really hasn’t been. But it has been…off. Until today.

Yes, today I forgot my lunch and stepped in a few puddles, but good things happened also. I showered and did my hair before work. I made it to work on time, even though I had to scrape my windshield. Rush hour wasn’t bad at all.

Most importantly, I learned today is Share a Smile Day AND National Pig Day! Today is about being happy and pigs. Today is a good day.

Although I love pigs, I am going to focus on smiling instead. Today, I smiled. I smiled a lot. Much more than I had all week. I hadn’t really smiled until I begrudgingly drove myself to Panera to get lunch today. I held the door open for these two women. They were extremely grateful, and I smiled saying, “not a problem.” They both then proceeded to walk through the door at the same time. The door frame was a bit smaller than the two of them. They got wedged in the doorway. It was hilarious. We shared a laugh. I couldn’t stop smiling. It reminded me of this Ted Talk:

Rod Gutman, the CEO of HealthTap, talks about the hidden power of smiling. It is absolutely worth the time to watch him speak! Here are some cool facts about smiling  that he mentions:

1. Babies smile in the womb. HOW COOL IS THAT? Well, at least it looks like they are smiling and content.

2. Children smile over 400 times a day. Have you seen people with more energy and joy than children? Probably not. Children definitely know their way around a good smile.

3. Smiling is contagious.

4. The brain stimulation of smiling is equal to eating 2,000 bars of chocolate or $25,000. Smiling is a lot easier, cheaper, and healthier.

5. Speaking of health, smiling can make you healthier, even lowering your blood pressure.

6. Smiling makes you look more competent. New meeting tactic! No longer will I look confused, I will instead smile. Easy.

So share a smile today. Look at miniature pigs online. Read a good book. Reconnect with an old friend. Commit a random act of kindness. Smile with someone who looks downtrodden today. You never know whose day (or week) you might be brightening.

And I would like to say thank you, ladies at Panera. You have had me smiling all day. Even at the prospect of ripping out my knitting tonight and starting over. Thank you for sharing a smile with me and truly uplifitng my week!

with a smile,

Kat


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cooking, slub style

As you may have gathered, the slubs love to eat. There are few things better than good meals shared with great friends. We firmly believe this.

I also love to cook. I cannot speak for all the slubs here, but I almost like to cook more than I like to eat.

Why I love to cook:

  1. Cooking and baking are great ways to show someone you care.
  2. Cooking is a great stress reliever.
  3. Cooking is a creative process.
  4. Finishing a meal or baking project means I have at least completed one project that day. Some days, I need that empowerment.

But, let’s be real. I am not the world’s best cook. I have had my fair share of horrible meals. Luckily, my housemates are kind enough to not say anything. (Side note: I have never had a batch of baking powder biscuits rise. Ever. I have never had yeast bread fail. My cakes always rise to perfection. But baking powder biscuits? The fail proof recipe for delicious homestyle goodness? I can’t do it. Anybody willing to show me what I am doing wrong, I would greatly appreciate it). Hence, it is always nice to have recipes on hand that you know that everyone loves and that are hard to ruin.

Today, I wanted to share with you some of the wonderful, nearly fail-proof, recipes that the slubs love. That we make all the time. Most importantly, all of these can be made on a budget, from stock pantry ingredients, and often from leftovers. Oh yes. The slubs know how to deliciously stretch a buck.

Quesadillas, Enchiladas, Breakfast Burritos

slub food

Okay, maybe not all of you have the following ingredients on hand all the time. The slubs do. Our go-to dinners tend to be Tex-Mex themed. We always have salsa, tortillas, and cheese. And when I say always, I mean when we actually remember to grocery shop. We also usually have green bell peppers and onions on hand. Bam! Dinner.

For Quesadillas, heat up a large nonstick skillet. You don’t even have to grease it, which means no added fat. You’ll get enough of that if you use the proper amount of cheese. Put a large tortilla in pan. It may have first been smothered in refried beans. If it was from the slubs, it definitely was. Place this side facing up.

Cover in lots of cheese: cheddar,Monterey jack, queso fresco, cotija, Chihuahua, mozzarella, feta, or a combination thereof. Slub commandment: Love all cheese. For example, after a night out dancing we put fresh chevre into a quesadilla and served it with pesto. YUM. Lesson: don’t discriminate against your cheese.

Add your favorite ingredients like diced green peppers, onions, scallions, tomatoes, summer squash, black beans, corn, cooked ground beef, and/or jalapenos. Sprinkle with just a tad more cheese. Add another tortilla. When the bottom browns, flip the quesadilla. Let the second tortilla brown. Flip onto large dinner plate. Cut. Enjoy with salsa.

Enchiladas. Put all or some of these above ingredients in a large tortilla. Fold tortilla around ingredients so it forms a snuggly pocket for the delectable ingredients. Put in a baking dish. Smother in enchilada sauce. Bake in 350 degree (400 if you are impatient, which I often am) oven until sauce starts to bubble. Serve with rice and beans. Slubs often make two enchiladas each. Usually because we think we can each eat two. We can’t. Enchiladas make excellent lunches.

Breakfast burritos. Wrap up favorite ingredients plus freshly scrambled eggs in a tortilla. You may even add leftover rice and beans from the enchiladas earlier on in the week. You would be right to do this. Enjoy on a Saturday morning or a lazy weeknight.

Homemade Pizza

our pizza always looks this good

Ordering pizza can be expensive. Especially when one of our favorite pizza joints is Galactic Pizza. Heavenly. Definitely not cheap. So we often make homemade pizza. This is great because it allows everyone to specialize their own individual pizza and use ingredients we already have in the house.

Because we usually make last minute plans, this is the best dough recipe I have found. 30 minutes and you have pizza crust:

Dissolve 1T of yeast, 1 tsp of sugar, and 1 tsp of salt into 1C of warm water. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Frothiness ensues. Add 2T of oil and 2 ½ C of flour. Slubs usually make this crust with whole-wheat flour. If using all wheat flour, replace the sugar with honey. Trust me. Combine and knead for about 5 minutes. Let rest for about 5 minutes. Roll out into individual pizzas (this makes about 4-5 decent sized individual pizzas). Bake at 450 for about 5 minutes or until the dough is no longer outwardly dough-y. I know. It was like I was born to write recipes.

Add sauce. You can use homemade or store-bought pesto or red sauce. We often used left over spaghetti sauce. An easy red sauce can be made by sautéing onions, garlic, and carrots in olive oil. Add a can of plain tomato sauce or diced tomatoes. Simmer. A little bit of sugar, butter, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano finish this sauce off.

Sprinkle with your favorite toppings and cheese. We like artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, spinach, feta/goat cheese, green peppers, onions, summer squash, pepperoni, tomatoes, olives, etc.

Bake until cheese is melty and starting to brown. If you’re feeling flush that month, enjoy with a spinach salad topped with pears, cranberries, sugared walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette. If not, enjoy with a spinach salad minus the fussy parts.

Garbage Soup

I love soup! It warms you up on a winter day, and is perfect to take to work the next day for a delicious lunch. I love the flexibility of soup as well. It is such a great way to use up vegetables that are going bad or grains that have been sitting in your pantry forever. Just throw everything in a pot. Done.

Ingredients you must have: onion and vegetable broth.

Ingredients that would be great to have: garlic, carrots, celery, bell peppers, grain/legume of some sort (I love farro, but you could use brown rice, lentils, quinoa, etc.), beans, kale (you can use spinach or another green, but we have found that kale holds up the best through reheating…also, it is delicious)

Ingredients that you don’t necessarily need, but make the soup awesome: diced tomatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, zucchini, squash, corn, parmesan rind, parmesan cheese (splurge for the real stuff for soup…it melts so well), for meat eaters add turkey meatballs

Sautee things. Add broth. Add grains, beans, tomatoes, and any frozen ingredients. Add parmesan rind for extra flavor. Season with things like basil, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and peppers. Simmer. Serve with grated cheese and homemade bread, preferably fresh out of the oven.

Splurge recipes. Once in awhile the slubs like to make amazing meals when we have extra money. Here are some favorite splurge recipes:

Risotto

Here is the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for risotto. It is wonderful because it uses goat cheese instead of mascarpone. Heavenly. Ree suggests about adding wine if anything goes wrong. This is very true. If you were to happen to add half a bottle of wine, or more, while cooking, you wouldn’t be alone. We’ve done it, too. And it was spectacular.

Cupcakes

We love cupcakes. Check out Laura’s post about cupcakes on her blog. Laura is the best cupcake maker ever. Although her cupcakes usually look too good to eat, we eat them anyway. Here is one of the slubs’ favorite cupcakes from this year:

yes. they taste as good as they look.

It is like a high-class camping trip in your mouth.

Finally, always enjoy your home-cooked meals with friends, a glass of wine, and laughter. Once in a while, eat until you are uncomfortably full and roll into the living room. Turn on 30 Rock, New Girl, Downton Abbey, or Lord of the Rings. Complain about how you are too full to move ever again. Get way too into the program you are watching. And then eat a cupcake.

slub love,

Kat


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slub of the week: Minnesota

For those of you who live in the lovely state of Minnesota, I’m sure you’ve noticed something strange lately: the weather. (Don’t live in Minnesota? Recap: it is unseasonably warm. Read: mid-30s, very little snow).

Now for those of you who don’t know, we Minnesotans love to talk about the weather. For other places in the country weather is an awkward small-talk conversation, in Minnesota weather is good conversation. When it is bad, i.e -40 degree windchills or 123 degree heat indexes, or when it is good, mid-70s and sunny, we have to talk about it. Because it is probably an anomaly (not really).

But, I’m sorry, Minnesota, I’m calling you out. You are being downright slubby. Too lazy to snow. Too lazy to dip into negative temperatures. Minnesota, you have put your stretchy pants on and curled up on the couch watching 30 Rock re-runs. And I applaud you.

Whereas in other Januaries I have had to cover every piece of skin and blow-dry my hair so it won’t freeze on the walk to my car, today I left the house with wet hair and wearing a fleece. It is January 4th. And I felt fantastic.

In honor of Minnesota’s slubbiness, here are some wonderful slubby winter weather facts (kudos yet again to wikipedia):

1. International Falls, MN average ANNUAL temperature is 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Coldest in the nation. The ten coldest counties in the nation? Also all located in Minnesota.

2. Lowest temperature recorded: -65 degrees in Embarrass, MN in 1996.

3. Earliest recorded snow: August 31, 1949 in Duluth.

4. Latest recorded snow: June 4, 1935. Yes, that’s right, MN has had snow every month but July, our warmest month. Yes. I know. Mind. Boggling.

5. A New York journalist vising St. Paul described Minnesota, “Another Siberia, unfit for human habitation.” The quote spurred the beginning of the St. Paul Winter Carnival.

St. Paul Winter Carnival snow sculptures

Here’s to you Minnesota! You’ve worked hard the past few years providing us with more snow than we could ever want and the coldest weather in the nation. So this year, please be slubby all you want. Don’t snow. Stay in the mid-30s. My boots and winter coat need a break. Grab yourself some chocolate-hazelnut-raspberry baked goods, a netflix account, yoga pants, and a comfy arm chair. Settle down and store up all those great slubby feelings so you can give us a beautiful spring. Minnesota, I love you. I love your slubbiness.

Kat (my office may be freezing, but Minneapolis is a balmy 36 degrees!)


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slub of the week: just try to resist hyperbole and a half.

When the five of us slubs decided that we’d write a blog about our year in service, I imagine we all thought it would be a magnificent work of literary genius. We probably envisioned that we’d write posts with admirable frequency, and that we’d have enlightening or witty or creative or compelling or hilarious things to say.

As you can see, our expectations appear to have landed a bit short of reality.

What does a blogger do when she falls – correction, recklessly dives – into a bought of writer’s block? Why, repost other bloggers’ work, of course.

To that end, we slubs are incredibly delighted to present to you all:

HYPERBOLE AND A HALF.

                               simple dog is simple.

Allie Brosh is straight up the funniest and most creative blogger I have ever read. While that’s not saying much (I don’t follow any other blogs but hers), I’ve got thousands and thousands of internet fans to back up my statement. People are completely enamored with this woman.

You’ll quickly see why.

If you read “Texas” or “Dogs don’t understand simple concepts, like moving” and don’t absolutely pee your pants, you are dead to me.

con amor,

shan


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deck the halls

Dearest family and friends,

It’s Friday afternoon in the slub house, and everything is quiet. Nora has gone home to Iowa. Laura is snoozing away in her bed. Kat is heading down to her grandparent’s farm for a family holiday. And Anna is spending the season with loved ones in Palestine.

Christmas is right around the corner, and as this holiday time builds in a much-anticipated crescendo, I’m thankful for the quiet. There are so many words spoken during the holidays: words of blessing, joy and remembrance; words of consumerism and targeted advertising; words projected from the pulpit, through the telephone, by the radio. We read cards aloud. We laugh and relax with coworkers at office parties. We gather family together in noisy conversation. We sing much-loved hymns and carols and we smile.

There are no words left I could say to you that you haven’t already heard this December. Anna, Kat, Laura, Nora and I wish simply to convey to you our love, blessings and happiness during this time. We’ve decorated our house to reflect our enjoyment of Christmas, and in an effort to minimize the amount of words floating around this holiday, we’d like to share a few pictures with you (especially because some of our readers have never seen the inside of our home before!):

we don’t have a real tree, but our house still smells like one…

the stockings above the fireplace. plus a santa hat, because we only had four stockings.

isn’t this reindeer AWESOME?! kat hates it. if you like the reindeer, please leave your support in our comments to prove kat wrong.

kat’s childhood decorations on the fireplace mantel

looking from our dining room into the living room — the walls were bright red when we moved in. how festive!

slubbiest christmas tree

this snowman lights up in different colors. epic.

wreath over the kitchen

mini tree in the sun room

window clings on the hutch

laura’s artwork to the slubs

santa, you crazy

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

With blessings,

The slubs