Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day!


Happy Memorial Day, for all of you in the United States! Today is a great time to remember the men and women who gave their lives to protect our country. And a great day for me to remember that no matter how much my (former) job sucks - no one is shooting at me and there is virtually no chance of dying at the office.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Thanks!

Thanks everyone for your kind comments! I'm starting to feel a little bitter (oops, better). Yeah, I'll be fine and I'll find something else where they actually appreciate me. In the meantime, I am registered with one staffing/temp agency and hopefully they'll be able to keep me busy until I find something else.

We ended up going to Trader Vic's for dinner Friday night. I enjoyed it, but Tim thought it was "eh". I think it's just a matter of me ordering better than he did. I had a Caesar salad to start and the macadamia-crusted Mahi-Mahi with whipped potatoes and broccolini. Tim had an egg roll to start and the seared ahi tuna with rice and sesame vegetables.

The egg roll was brought out on this little metal boat with a candle underneath to keep it warm. Unfortunately, it came out of the fryer lukewarm and the little candle didn't do much to heat it up. I like my food screaming hot, so I wasn't a huge fan. We got some red sauce that was kind of a cross between fruity and barbecue-y (is that a word?) and some hot mustard. I didn't enjoy either sauce, either. The egg roll tasted okay, but the temperature and the sauces turned me off.

My Caesar salad was a very classic presentation with romaine, croutons and shaved Parmesan. It was dressed perfectly - not dry and not dripping with dressing. I enjoyed it, although I've had better Caesars.

My fish was terrific. The macadamia crust was slightly sweet and the fish was nice and flaky. There was a drizzle of roasted pepper beurre blanc that just made everything that much better. The whipped potatoes didn't have a lot of flavor, but the beurre blanc helped in that regard. I'd never had broccolini before, and I loved it! It was like a very sweet broccoli. I think it was roasted, although I'm not sure. Totally rocked my world, though.

Tim's seared ahi came with rice and sesame vegetables. He said the tuna was fine, the rice was fine and the veggies were fine. Nothing really stood out.

We also got a side of the panko onion rings to share. They were cooked absolutely perfectly. The crust was crunchy and golden brown and the onion was cooked to exactly the right doneness. However, what we didn't know was that there was cayenne pepper in the batter. I almost died with my second bite. It was even a bit spicy for Tim. I can't eat spicy foods at all. First of all, being from Minnesota, I have no tolerance for it, but I also have ulcers and spicy foods tend to really give me some stomach pains.

For dessert, Tim wanted to try the Bananas Foster and I got the Polynesian Snowball with bittersweet chocolate sauce. Tim's Bananas Foster wasn't the traditional preparation - it came out on a place with bananas and a scoop of ice cream, then a separate bowl with the flaming sauce. Tim got impatient waiting for the sauce to stop flaming so he blew it out and poured it over the bananas and ice cream. However, what he didn't realize was that he didn't let the alcohol burn off, so his first couple bites were pretty potent, especially given that he doesn't drink. He didn't like it, though. His friend Joe makes Bananas Foster a different way and he prefers it that way. I don't like bananas, so I don't know anything about Foster.

My Polynesian Snowball was awesome. It was Haagen Dazs vanilla bean ice cream rolled in toasted coconut sitting in a pool of the bittersweet chocolate sauce. It was terrific. I loved the toasted coconut - it was crunchy and wonderful. It was almost like it was candied or something. The chocolate sauce was a great addition. I also stole the macadamias off Tim's bananas since he can't have nuts.

To me, it was a great meal, although Tim didn't really enjoy his that much.

On the ride down to the restaurant, however, I kind of lost my "celebratory" mood and turned a little blue. I promised Tim I would only wallow in self-pity for a couple days and then I'd be fine.

I'm working on it.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I Blame Al Gore

This is so bizarre. This is the end of May in Phoenix. It should be around 100 degrees, if not 110. Today, it was under 70 degrees and it rained pretty much all day. I'm now sitting at home and it's hailing and thundering like crazy. Rain all day, hail, thunder, high wind - I almost feel like I'm back in Minnesota! So bizarre.

Tonight Tim and I are going out for a nice dinner to celebrate my firing. I figure we're about to end up in the poor house and we may as well go down in flames. We're not sure where we're going yet, but I'll write something about it.

Can I just say that this really sucks? Getting fired sucks. I didn't even do anything wrong. There were no performance problems. I know everyone says that, but it's true. Sigh. I'm SO getting out of the mortgage business for a while.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fired via Email

Have you ever met anyone who was fired over email? I hadn't until recently. This person's boss (one of her bosses), the president of the company fired her with a four-sentence email. Wouldn't you assume that the president of the company would be a bit more professional than that? And then to top it all off, he tells her to call if she wants to talk about it, but when she calls, he doesn't pick up the phone. And when she sees him in the hall, he just looks away and can't even look at her. Professional? No. Try gutless. Childish. Unprofessional. And a whole bunch of other words I'm too much of a lady to write on this blog.

This is why I'm looking for a job again. I was fired via email on Tuesday. I work for two people - they each pay 1/2 of my salary. One of the guys decided Tuesday that he doesn't want to work with me anymore and doesn't want to pay me, effective that day. Yes, the president of the company. The one who so valued me five months ago that he just couldn't let me leave when I wanted to and when I had some opportunities. Same guy who would have done almost anything to keep me in the company. Same guy.

So let's review here. My salary was cut at the beginning of the year by 41%. Ouch. That really hurt. (It was cut because of "performance issues", which coincidentally came up the day after I returned from being out of the office for a week due to pneumonia and bronchitis) And now? The remaining 59% of that has been cut by an additional 50%. My wages now are equivalent to that of a McDonald's worker. I'm sure they get treated a bit better, though. When I started my career 14 years ago, I was making more money than I am today.

I started out Tuesday pretty stunned/shocked/blindsided. Yesterday I was a mess - crying, panicking, freaking out. Today, I'm just pissed. Oh boy, am I pissed. Even today, the president's office is right next to mine and he walks by me and I said "good morning". He said "morning" without even looking at me. Did I do something wrong? No, actually, I didn't. I know this for a fact. He's just a coward.

What a way to run a business.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Here We Go!

Today it reached 100 degrees for the first time. It's actually pretty late in the year for the first 100 degree day, from what I understand. I actually haven't left the house yet. I spent the entire morning and so far this afternoon lying in bed and relaxing. Ahhh, heaven.

I'm becoming adjusted to the heat, for sure. I'm the pathetic Phoenician who gets chilly when it's 80 degrees now. My family in Minnesota is ashamed. :)

Tim hasn't been feeling well for about a week. Last weekend, we tried a couple of restaurants we hadn't been to before, and at some point, we both ate something that didn't sit well. Around Wednesday, my stomach stopped churning, but his stomach is still upset. We've been having a pretty quiet week while he rests.

I went in to work for a few hours yesterday, which was loads of fun. I had two piles that needed to be taken care of. I took care of one of the piles (the easy one), and then started on the second and decided I wanted to come home. I hate working on the weekends because I work 10-14 hours a day during the week. Since Tim was sick, though, and basically slept all day, I figured I could go in and be productive.

Not much else has been happening around here, which I hope explains the lack of posts lately from both of us. Tim has been on call for what seems like forever, and has been sick for about that long too. I'm starting to get a bit stir crazy, though, and may need to leave the house at some point today.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Skillet Chicken with Rice and Peas

The first food blog I ever read was Seth's. His is obviously one of my favorite ones, especially since we're now friends with him and have done a few reviews with him. His site had a link to The Home Cook's site, as well. I'd have to say her site is probably my second favorite. Whenever I see her site in bold with new posts in my Google Reader, it's always the first one I click on. I love reading her recipes and looking at her pictures. There are millions of food blogs out there and a lot of them are very elaborate with tons of pictures. Mine isn't one of them. I don't know enough technology stuff to make my blog elaborate and I take awful, terrible pictures of food. Really, truly bad pictures. This really isn't a food blog, either - it's a blog about my life and I like to cook, so I throw some food stuff on here every now and then.

Every Sunday, Tim and I do the weekly grocery shopping. Before we make out our list, I usually look through my Google Reader starred items to see if anything inspires me. This recipe has been on my radar for a while, but I hadn't gotten around to making it. I was a bit tired after work last night and wanted something that came together easily and wouldn't produce a ton of dishes to wash up. This totally fit the bill, plus we had almost everything already. Tim went to the gym last night and I had him pick up some lemons and an onion (we're never out of onions, it was a weird moment).

This was delicious. You can almost never go wrong with America's Test Kitchen, and this recipe was just great. I loved every single bite of it. The lemon added just a little freshness that made the rest of the flavors pop. I didn't take a picture because of the whole bad pictures thing (see above) and because our plates are ugly and we don't have good lighting, and well, I was really hungry! I'll give you this link, though, so you can check out The Home Cook's picture.

The recipe is below. I will be making this again and again and again. I left out the scallions because Tim doesn't really like them. I also only had about 3 1/2 cups of chicken stock, so I had to add about a cup of beef stock. Chicken stock is also something we never run out of. It's been weird around the house lately.

Skillet Chicken and Rice with Peas and Scallion Recipe
from America's Test Kitchen

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, minced
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (vermouth)
4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup frozen peas
5 scallions, sliced thin
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in flour to coat and shake off any excess. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown the chicken well on one side, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

2. Off the heat, add the butter to the skillet, and swirl to melt. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and return to medium-high heat until softened, 2 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the rice thoroughly and let toast for about 30 seconds.

3. Stir in the wine and let the rice absorb it completely, about 1 minute. Stir in the broth, scraping up any browned bits. Nestle the chicken into the rice, browned side facing up, including any accumulated juices. Cover and cook over medium heat until the thickest part of the chicken registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes.

4. Transfer the chicken to a clean plate. Gently brush off and discard any rice clinging to the chicken, then tent the chicken with foil and set aside. Return the skillet of rice to medium-low heat, cover, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, 8 to 12 minutes longer.5. Off the heat, sprinkle the peas over the rice, cover, and let warm through, about 2 minutes. Add the scallions and lemon juice to the rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with the chicken and lemon wedges.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Happy Cinco de Mayo!


Happy 5th of May! I don't eat Mexican food, so there's more for you. Save me a margarita, though!