What to Expect at 2pm

couscous salad

This past weekend my coworker threw a birthday party for her two-year-old son. Earlier in the week we spent some time finding invitations (um, am I the only one who’s never heard of the Backyardigans?) and more importantly, figuring out food. It was a 2pm party, which is kinda an awkward time.

How many meals have you had by 2pm on a Saturday? Would you have eaten breakfast? Breakfast and lunch? Lunch? Brunch? Nothing?


Also, what would you expect food-wise for a 2pm child’s birthday party? Just chips? Sandwiches? Just cake?

My coworker decided on bite-size, semi-substantial fare. Whatever that means. Well, actually, I can tell you exactly what it means: Chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-A, burger sliders (very impressed she found mini-potato rolls), waffle fries (frozen), spinach and artichoke dip (with pita chips and tortilla chips) and some party punch thing where she dumped a bucket of sherbet-like stuff into a bowl with Sprite. Oh, and of course cake (with Backyardigan decorations) and little ice cream cups.

We also wanted to serve a more grown-up side. That’s where I came in. She initially thought of a pasta salad type dish, but wanted something a bit different. Couscous! Still a side, but a bit more refined than pasta salad. Plus, I had a few winter vegetables that would be a much better fit for a grain than for pasta. (I think sweet potato and noodles are a bit much.)

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God Damn I Need that Karma

Parsnip Ricotta Spread 1 -- edited (500 x 332)

I was wearing a light gray cardigan that reached to mid-thigh. It had two pockets, like most cardigans. These pockets were shallow. I placed my iPhone in one of the pockets. It fell out of my pocket and into the toilet.

I was at the farmers market on Sunday, about to buy an Herbs de Provence cheese for my brother’s birthday (Herbs de Provence is our inside joke), and when I looked in my wallet I realized that my debit card was missing.

I was in one of those beer, wine corner grocery stores and was paying for whole wheat pocketless pitas.
Clerk: That’s $3.99
Me: <Handed the clerk a $5 bill>
Clerk: <Handed me $2.01>
Me:<Hmm, I know I’m not quick at subtracting, but why am I getting 2 dollars back? Did I miss hear him. I’ll just put it in my wallet. Wait, you know what, this isn’t right.>
What’d you say the price was?
Clerk: OH! How much did I give you back? It’s $3.99.
: <Gave him a dollar back, smiled and left.>

God Damn I Need that Karma. Fuck. I fucking drowned my very best friend and then I lost my only source of money. I didn’t need that dollar. I need some fucking luck.

And before I get to parsnips (again), if anyone knows how to resurrect a water damaged iPhone or figure out how not to pay $450 for a new one – please let me know! gansie@endlessssimmer.com

Let’s get back to that whole wheat pocketless pita.

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Follow the Leader: It’s All in the Twirl


Last summer I snagged an invite to a Bon Appetit book signing party for their 770-page Fast Easy Fresh. While juggling Sweetgreen‘s froyo in one hand, a glass of wine in another, and this book in between my arm and my boob, I made my way over to Barbara Fairchild for a signature.  We briefly chatted about my oven’s inability to keep heat and then I was off, lugging this book back to my apartment, wondering where to fit this thick, heavy dead tree.

And that was the last time I touched the book. Until Monday’s dinner. I pulled Bon App and Gourmet’s March 2009 mags, plus this monster.

I had one ingredient in mind: parsnips. Ever since my pizza laced with parsnips, I’ve been wanting to cook them myself. Fast Easy Fresh had one parsnip recipe. It was bullshit.

It told me to peel the parsnips, cut them, season with oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425 for 35 minutes. HOW IS THAT A RECIPE. That is crap. That is not interesting. That is not creative. It is not worthy of half a page. Bon App – I turn to you for inspiration. I could have found this on some generic Cooks.com site.

I roasted them anyway, cut in coins, with the addition of Herbs de Provence. But this was only part of my ad hoc meal. And actually the least important.

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Parsnips are the New Prozac


I’m cranky. Yea, I’m cranky. That’s what it is. It’s been a cold (but, I have to admit, awesomely snowy) winter. And a long winter. It’s March and I’m still cold.

I haven’t cooked anything worth a fucking dime. And I hate that expression. But it’s true. Sure, I’ve discovered cottage cheese and smoked whitefish, but then what?


I need the summer’s farmers market. I need to be surrounded with tomatoes and eggplants and zucchinis. I need spring.

While the warmth won’t be coming for many more weeks, I did find something to keep me happy about the abundance of root vegetables. And it was at my neighborhood pizza place. I know, weird.

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