We had a lovely lunch today at M. Henrietta on Granville, and after lunch, two of the three people I was with pulled out phones to track their calories. For a brief moment I was flush with … I don’t know, exactly. Guilt? Defensiveness? Like I was preemptively bracing for judgment or criticism or something. Which of course, I wasn’t, but old habits die hard, I guess – even after all this time.
I wondered if what I ate was healthy enough, should I have ordered the brown rice, chicken and vegetables bowl without cheese? I wondered if I was doing enough, why wasn’t I also tracking my calories? Fortunately it only took me a moment to realize that DUH, I write my food down all the time, and DUH, my brown rice and black bean bowl was hearty and healthy and delicious, and DUH, I bike 15 miles a day and also work out and I’m doing plenty. I was surprised at how easily I fell into my old patterns of shame, but I was also encouraged at how quickly I snapped out of it. Small victories?
Announcements! So’s you know, you can buy my newest minicomic, Shuteye #6: The Fetch here! I’m selling it in print and digital versions. Shuteye is a series of short story comics I do about dreams and the nature of dreaming. The stories are loosely connected, but they all stand alone, so you don’t have to have read one to know what’s going on in another, but if you’re interested, I’ve got the entirety of the first issue online here, you can read it for free!
So around the corner from the office, there’s one of those poor storefronts that seems to be cursed; it’s been three different restaurants in the last three years. So we didn’t hold out a lot of hope when the windows were papered again – I figured it’d end up being yet another kabob place. Instead, it’s the second location of a strange fast-food/burger/Asian fusion joint called Bop n Grill. And while they were out of galbi jim (grrr) they made me some very tasty Korean-style barbecue chicken, perfectly cooked, deliciously tender. Probably the best meal I’ve had that came in a styrofoam container, honestly. Of course by halfway through the meal, I had mixed everything – chicken, rice, salad, kim chi, and tons of sriracha – into one delicious, if un-photogenic, pile, which might be the best way to eat Korean food.
Here’s hoping Bop n Grill can break the curse on that storefront and hang around for a while! At least until I can get some of their short ribs.
Guys, I am pretty sure that researching and drawing the panel with the house centipede was probably the grossest, nastiest thing I have ever done for comics. I hate those things so much. So much so much so much so much.
I’m not a big fan of hot dogs; the uniformity of the texture bothers me. I haven’t had one in ages. Niles doesn’t like hot dogs either, he was just trying to tease me. I know this is kind of an old and possibly unfair joke, (it goes back to the 1800s!) the idea that hot dogs are made out of … whatever. There are plenty of brands out there that make their hot dogs out of only high quality cuts of meat. Of course any hot dog that a discount store is giving away for five cents is probably not from a high-quality brand, and the fact is that there are a lot of hot dogs out there made with liquefied bones and feet and things, every part of chickens and pigs that you can imagine, with little regulation and oversight, crappy conditions for underpaid workers, and corners cut at every available opportunity. You get what you pay for.
In other news! I’ve added some more photos to the gallery of awesome people who are getting a free issue of my newest minicomic! It’s too late to get your own free copy, but if you want to purchase it, you can get the print minicomic (with hand-silkscreened cover!) here, and a much cheaper digital download of it here.
(ps: did you notice the two savory crepes I ate this weekend?? There will be more info about those sometime in the next few weeks.)
Sorry this post is late! This sounds like a fake excuse, but I promise you this happened: last night halfway through me coloring this comic in Photoshop, one of the cats turned off the power strip that the computer was plugged into. And of course I hadn’t saved.
But even if I had, I was doomed anyway. My PS install had started crashing every 4 seconds, so I was doing an upgraded trial install, and yesterday was the LAST DAY that it was valid, so I tried re-opening Photoshop, and it asked for a serial number. Is Mercury in retrograde or something?
Anyway, the damned cat ruined the floaty good mood I had gained by eating dolsot bibimbap. Easy come, easy go. But I did finally get my dolsot bibimbap last night, and it was tasty and crispy and hot and delicious, and I did actually chant “Dolsot! Bibimbap!” much of the way to the restaurant. Je ne regrette rein.
Given how many years we’ve been together, and how often Niles sets me up for jokes like this, you would THINK that I would catch on and be prepared for the punchlines, instead of happily believing that there is a “most famous sushi restaurant” in the whole of Japan, and that Niles had figured out which one it was, and was prepared to take me there.
Oh but hey in other news OMG YOU GUYS we’re going to Japan in January!! Subarashii!! Niles’s brother Sam has been living in Tokyo for many years, and so has my cousin Steve. We’ve been wanting to visit for a long time now, and Niles figured out some ninja financial moves so we can afford it. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. I’ve been stuffing my brain with Japanese language podcasts; I’ve been Google street-viewing the streets outside our hotel. I have serious, serious plans to eat all of the sushi I can find. It’s gonna be great!!
Whaaat else, besides OMG JAPAN. Oh! Once again: if you have issues 1-5 of Shuteye, let me know and I will send you issue #6 for free! I’ll have it up for normal sale by early next week.
Also, I painted some more Pokémon butcher diagrams, and I feel just horrible about it. You guys have got to stop me before I make more!
We went to a pick-your-own farm this weekend, and spent a few hours in the gorgeous autumn afternoon sun wandering around fields and orchards, through rows of pumpkins, apple trees, blackberry bushes, and corn. I went there with no particular plan and came home with a basket full of different kinds of tomatoes and peppers. While we were wandering through a row of giant sweet bell pepper plants, I saw two of the largest, prettiest bell peppers I had ever seen, and I picked them just because of how beautiful they were. They weren’t even fully ripe, but they were a gorgeous rainbow of yellow and orange. So tonight, I cooked some brown rice, sauteed some ground beef and onions and tomatoes, mixed it all together, filled the peppers to the brim, and baked them in the oven. One pepper made for a perfectly sized hearty meal, full of delicious spices and vegetables and nutritious brown rice. The other one’s wrapped in foil in the fridge right now, and it remains to be seen whether Niles will devour it, or if I’ll get to take it to the office for lunch some day this week. Niles did start an amazing batch of chili in the slow cooker before he left for work today – between that and the stuffed peppers, I bet our building smells pretty awesome today.
In other news: HEY! YOU! I finally finished the last issue of Shuteye! It’s done, it’s printed and assembled and ready to go. I’m giving free advance copies to anyone who has the first five issues of Shuteye. Are you one of those people? Want your free copy? Instructions are here! I’ll have the books available to everyone in about a week or so.
Sushi: it’s delicious. Tell the press!
(Feel free to correct my Japanese, I’m teaching myself with videogames and internet podcasts, it’s a flawed system at best.)
So, sorry, I feel like I kind of half-assed this one, but I was having delicious sushi with Corinne Mucha and Beck Kramer and I got kind of distracted by the fun comics talk and the deliciousness of the sushi, and I hadn’t thought of anything to draw for you, and then Corinne was all “draw sushi” and I was all, oh, twist my arm, because I don’t LOVE DRAWING SUSHI or anything.
That’s right, I pulled a muscle PICKING UP A DRYER SHEET FROM THE FLOOR. And badly too; I’ve never heard a muscle “pop” like that before. I’m pretty sure that’s not supposed to happen. Muscles aren’t supposed to make popping noises, right?
What’s odd is I was seriously unable to put socks on my feet for two days, but as I’m writing this (Tuesday night) it’s completely stopped hurting. That was a pretty fast trip from incapacitating pain to back to normal. Bodies are WEIRD.
Also, Niles was actually very nice and ended up putting the sock on my foot for me. Incidentally, we’ve determined recently that Niles – were he a character in a manga or anime – would be the megane danshi, or “glasses-type”, which are pretty popular, so I count myself lucky. :)
In other news, I made these horrible/awesome watercolor paintings of Pokémon butcher diagrams the other night. They make me laugh and then immediately feel bad about it. I’m thinking of making it a whole series.
I usually end up making something on Sunday afternoons. It’s become a bit of a habit at this point. I had already planned to make a bunch of rice and oatmeal this weekend, so I could have it later on in the week, but this afternoon I found myself wandering through the Logan Square Farmers Market just as it was shutting down, and I bought a bag of apples and a big butternut squash (how is it time for butternut squash already?? Too soon! but I bought it anyway). I took them home, chopped both of them up, added some shallots and sliced garlic, coated it lightly with olive oil, sprinkled it with some spices and put it all in a 400 degree oven until it was ready. I’m going to put it on salads later this week, with some blue cheese, and it will be very tasty.
Since I have a full time job, and I freelance, and I do this comic, and some other comics projects, sometimes it can feel like I’m running nonstop. You’d think I would feel I don’t have time for things like cooking – especially when it could be so easy to grab something on the way home, or snack on something in the fridge. And especially when we’re talking about something as time consuming as skinning a large winter squash and chopping it up into small cubes. But preparing food feels so relaxing to me, especially if it takes a long time. It’s a quiet, meditative process that takes more manual effort than it does brainpower, which feels like a pleasant break from the norm for me.
Half the time that I decide to make something, I’m not even hungry by the time I’m done, and I end up putting it in the fridge for later. I always think it’s kind of funny when I just want to cook something, but not eat it.
ALSO: Laura Park suggested I try some new crop rice, and I found some last week at the Korean market on Kimball. It’s… it’s hard to describe. The smell of it uncooked is almost alive, it’s potent and yeasty and smells young, somehow. When it’s cooked, the texture is amazing – it’s smoother and creamier than normal rice, almost like it’s closer to grits or tapioca or something. It’s amazing. You wouldn’t think there’d be that much difference! But if you can find it, I recommend trying it out. It seems less important for something like sushi, where you’re letting the rice cool, but a hot, fresh bowl of new crop rice is magically comforting.
We don’t know our neighbors well; not beyond knowing their names and saying hi when we pass in the hall. But one night I ended up chatting with some of our neighbors at the Small Bar, and when I told them which unit was ours, they said “OH. You guys cook a lot. We smell the most amazing smells coming from your door.” My heart swelled with pride to hear that.
The slow cooker might be my favorite thing in the kitchen. Niles put some barbecue spare ribs in before he left for work, and they were ready to devour when I got home. Our schedules are so different, but the slow cooker is a weird kind of way for us to still be able to cook for each other. They were perfectly tender, fall-off-the-bone awesomeness, and you could smell them from the building’s mailboxes. It was pretty great.
Hey, so, I’m done with my Womanthology pages, and I’m catching up to the last few things on my schedule, which means I can get back to putting out Shuteye #6! Do you have Shuteyes #1-5? If so, get ready! In the next week or two, I’ll be asking you to take a photo of them – if you have all five, I will send you an advance copy of Shuteye #6 TOTALLY EFFING FREE. That’s how excited I am to have it finished! :D