We have a new sushi place by the office! And they have some of the most amazingly delicious seaweed salad I have ever tried. The lunch special included the unagi don, which had eel, two different kinds of mushroom, shredded daikon and avocado over sushi rice, and came with edamame, miso soup, and the awesome seaweed salad. So much food! Good thing I could eat miso soup and seaweed salad all day long.
But more to the point, it was a celebratory unagidon, because my Kickstarter project is funded! And with so many days left to go! I can’t thank you guys enough, for donating, for spreading the word, just for being supportive. You guys are the best!
The first time Niles brought me a Founder’s Breakfast Stout, I examined the label: “It says, ‘Double Chocolate Coffee Oatmeal Stout.’ I like ALL those words!” I told him.
This is my favorite time of year, when the dark, sweet, delicious high gravity beers start coming around. I love them so much, but I can’t drink a 9% imperial stout when it’s hot outside. But when the chill sets in, when it’s dark and windy and cold and forbidding outside, nothing warms my heart like a good thick stout or porter. I wait all winter long for Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout to show up, and my heart always breaks a little when the keg at the Small Bar is finally tapped. And there are plenty more out there! This is just a short list of my personal favorites.
So, Tacosgiving ended up being just barbacoa tacos, because I got sick, and I spent the whole day trying to convince myself that I wasn’t sick. I don’t know if anyone else is like this, but my immune system has a tendency to completely break down the second I get a good chunk of days off. Convenient, huh? This one wasn’t too bad, actually, no nausea or sniffles or anything, just lots of aches all over, and monstrous chills, and fatigue. I had the energy to make a bowl of guacamole and to tend to the barbacoa, but that was about it.
But the barbacoa was excellent! I used this recipe, altho I switched out the Coke zero with Jarritos Mexican Cola, and I added an extra chipotle pepper or two, because we like it spicy. It was easy and delicious!
Are you ready for Tacosgiving?
I used to really dread this holiday. For the most part, it’s all about food. I mean, the true meaning is obviously gathering and giving thanks, but in a lot of ways, at its core, this holiday is just a highly ritualized meal. Most Americans eat a handful of the same things. We’re expected to overeat, we’re supposed to overeat, it’s part of the ritual. Thanksgiving isn’t about moderation, it’s about a lush, beautiful table, overflowing with bounty.
I hesitate to write this part, because I really don’t like blaming any of my body image issues on my family. They got it from their parents just as bad, and usually worse, than they dished it out… but my grandmother was truly an evil genius at this holiday. She’d routinely prepare ten times the food that we needed. She’d insist that you have seconds, and force leftovers into your hands, and in the same breath mention that oh, looks like she needs to start buying you LARGE sweaters instead of MEDIUM ones. I know she never meant to do it, she never did it on purpose, she probably never even realized what kind of massively mixed signals she was sending out. Eat all of this food that I lovingly made for you! and oh my aren’t you packing on the pounds lately?
So it’s taken me some time to untangle my brain from all of this insane conditioning and realize that it is okay to love food as much as I do. It’s not a symptom of being a fat chick, there are plenty of skinny people that nerd out about food too. It is just a thing about me: I love food, I love its history, I love when it’s surprising and innovative, I love picking out the best possible ingredients and I love spending hours preparing a dish. And there’s no need to feel guilty about that.
I love this holiday now that I feel free to get excited about food, and I’m not legally obligated to make turkey! Now that I’ve rambled on, here’s my blueprint. Originally I was going to do carne asada, shrimp, lamb chorizo and lobster tacos. But it was pointed out to me that it’s probably just going to be three of us, and that many different kinds of tacos – even for Tacosgiving – might be overkill. So now we’re eschewing the beef and lamb, and I’m defrosting some pork instead. Niles and I had a long conversation about whether it should be barbacoa or al pastor, and in the end, barbacoa won out. I can have it cooking long and slow all day long without much work on my part. And if I prepare the shrimp and lobster together, I can still have my seafood taco, and it’ll be twice as tasty.
The best part of Tacosgiving? I can get all the ingredients at the little carniceria across the street, so I can skip the crowds at the grocery store. I’m really excited about the barbacoa, I’ve never tried making it before. And the barbacoa recipes I’ve found all call for cola, and my little carniceria has Jarritos Mexican cola, made with real sugar instead of HFCS, and that should give it a good, strong flavor. I’ll let you guys know how it turns out!
IN OTHER NEWS: I’m about 3/4 of the way there on my Kickstarter! I’ve got an extra long weekend with all sorts of time set aside for working on this Shuteye project. Take a look at the latest update, I’ve gotten pretty far on that print design – I’m hoping to finish it sometime this weekend. I’m also going to be working on prepping pages for the printer; it’s a long time before I have to send it off, but it’s also a pretty long book, and I want to get a head start.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
For a friend’s birthday we found ourselves at Lady Gregory’s, a delicious (new-ish) little Irish gastropub in Andersonville. It was lively, lovely, and full of delicious food and dangerous cocktails. I gave in to a powerful little item named, ostentatiously: “Gods and Fighting Men”, and while I’m not exactly hungover, I’ve definitely been feeling the effects of that one all day.
But the special flatbread, with duck confit and caramelized onions, was delicious. The macaroni and cheese was decadent – they have one with lobster and truffle cream and I shudder to think how amazingly rich that one must be. We shared a few “amusements” too – they had a kicky little take on deviled eggs that was really delightful, and the amish blue chips were excellent – a little restrained, which was good; I love blue cheese, but a small amount of it goes a long way.
News: HOLY COW YOU GUYS. I’m 70% funded! I can’t believe it. I adore you guys!!
Also thanks SO MUCH to everyone who stopped by the Chicago Book Expo! It was really great to meet you guys! :) I hope no one came by on Sunday, I wussed out and skipped the second day in favor of relaxing and hanging out with my boyfriend.
Ok, before anyone goes feeling sorry for my super-casual Thanksgivings, seriously, don’t worry about it. My family’s all in Texas, Niles’s family is all in Arizona (or Japan!). Niles and most of the people we know all work in the service industry, which means they don’t get the normal holidays off that the rest of us do. Niles in particular works with wine and fancy cheese, so he’s always slammed during the holidays. He can’t get time off around Thanksgiving or Christmas to travel anywhere, so our holidays are usually pretty quiet and low-key. It suits Niles just fine, because he’s always stressed this time of year, and it suits me just fine because I have time to work on comics.
We usually end up having a few fun little dinner parties during the holidays; the last few years we’ve ended up having dinner with friends, but this year we don’t seem to have made any plans. Now I get to cook dinner for my brother and Niles! Only neither of them really have any preference for what we eat, and I don’t much care for most of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes. At least not enough to go out of my way to make them.
So what should I make? Should I try my hand at pizza again? I never seem to get the crust right, but I’m eager for more practice. I could do a big hearty pot of chili, that’s always good this time of year. There’s a spicy Ethiopian chicken recipe that I love to make, and I haven’t made it in a while. I also have a big red kuri squash on my table that wants to be made into something, and a frenched rack of mutton and plenty other farm meat in the freezer. What should I make?
My Kickstarter project was the Project of the Day yesterday!! What an amazing honor, and such an amazing response. I’m more than half the way there now!
Also, another reminder that I’ll be at the Chicago Book Expo this weekend, with books and prints and other fine things, so feel free to stop by and say hi!
I forget what I was upset about in the morning in question, but something had soured me on everything, and I was stomping around the apartment, cranking up a storm, all set to have a really cruddy day for no good reason.
And then I got on my bike.
It’s amazing how far a little exercise can go towards improving my mood, and biking goes triple for that. In almost any weather, a bike ride will cheer me and make me feel fast and light and free again. And if I could manage to remember this little fact when I get into a funk, I’d waste a lot less time sulking over dumb things.
Also, if you’re in the Chicago area, I’m going to be hawking some books and things at the Chicago Book Expo! It’s a weird and awesome little pop-up bookstore taking place this weekend in the abandoned Uptown Borders. Come by and say hello!
So, yes, I am a food nerd, and I had read all about okonomiyaki, actually several months ago. I can’t remember where I would have heard of this dish (except probably in an issue of Oishinbo), but I remember researching it eagerly, gravely, and wondering when, when would I ever have the opportunity to try some okonomiyaki? So I was a fan long before I ever tried a bite.
Corinne and I ate a lot of delicious things at Chizakaya Friday night, but the okonomiyaki was the best dish of them all, and I’m so glad it didn’t disappoint. It’s really kind of a miracle it didn’t disappoint, because I had built it up quite a bit in my head. Chizakaya’s okonomiyaki is stuffed with shrimp, squid, generous strips of bacon, topped with katsuoboshi (bonito flakes) and drizzled with spicy Japanese mayo. It’s perfectly crispy on the outside and perfectly soft on the inside, and my picture doesn’t do it justice. Have you ever had pajeon? It’s a seafood pancake you can find at most Korean restaurants – okonomiyaki is like pajeon in substance, but it’s thicker, with a more delicate texture and more complicated flavors.
If you’re interested, “yaki” is Japanese for cooked or grilled – so yakitori is grilled chicken, takoyaki is grilled octopus, yakisoba is grilled noodles – and “okonomi” can be roughly translated to “what you like”. Everything I like, cooked in a pile all together. Oishii! Also if you’re interested, I came across the “BEST okonomiyaki recipe” on a site called “Okonomiyaki World.” Sometimes the internet just makes me so happy.
IN OTHER NEWS: I’m about a third of the way there on my Kickstarter! I’m so excited, you guys are the best!! I made a very preliminary sketch for the exclusive print that I’m offering at the $25 pledge level and above; I’ve uploaded it here, along with some production notes for the project.
So before I get too deep into this, I encourage everyone to go read Sady Doyle’s answer to the question Why is being skinny so important? I have been kind of thinking about it ever since I read it, and I’m beginning to think that I need to be reading it every morning before I leave the house. It is that important.
So the morning that we left Minneapolis, I was packing, and this thought occurred to me. It’s funny how the simplest, most common sense concepts can seem so radical, so revolutionary sometimes. When I write it down, when I say it out loud, it seems obvious and even trite, but the idea that I could just be happy, to just be content to be me exactly how I am, it was like it had never occurred to me before.
Not in the sense of, oh, it’s cool to be as weird as you are and make comics and play the accordion and like Doctor Who. I’ve been okay with that part of me since I was in grade school. But swallowing the idea that I’m seriously okay right now, that’s harder. Maybe I’m content to be who I am right now, not “I’ll be content when I build some muscle in my upper arms” or “I’ll be okay when I lose another ten pounds,” but “I’m okay, I’m content, I’m happy with me RIGHT NOW, just as I am, no adjustments necessary.”
The idea popped into my head and it was like time stopped, that’s how incredible – and almost frightening – I found the concept. When you’ve spent your entire life convinced that you’re not good enough, that you’re not skinny/pretty/sophisticated/smart/sociable/fit/whatever enough, reversing that lie can be difficult, to say the least. Even when the truth seems so ridiculously obvious.
NEWS and ANNOYING SELF-PROMOTION! Shut me up if I get annoying about this, but in case you haven’t seen it I have a Kickstarter campaign going to publish my next graphic novel. There are some links on that page to read two full stories from the book online, and every little bit helps so feel free to donate if you are so inclined!
Also, there’s a new Sauceome print in the store! So there’s that. Let me know if you guys have any requests for other prints, I really like the source I have for these.