Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I may've said (many times) before that I consider my inability to sleep in a sign of my likely evolutionary inferiority. I can go to bed at 9pm or 3am, and I will still wake up with the sun. You can see how, in my mid twenties, that might cause some problems in the social life arena, no? 

So this past weekend, I was ecstatic when I managed to stay in bed until 9:30 on Saturday. That excitement, however, was quickly replaced with sleepy disappointment when I was up before 8 on Sunday (having not gone to bed until after 12).

Somehow, though, it still turned in to an obnoxiously productive day. I made muffins, went to mass at DC's oldest (and only?) basilica, met my friend for brunch in a bookstore, and came home to make bbq sauce, focaccia, and dinner. 

The difference between me and your average productive person, however, was the series of mini disasters that befell me (which served to remind me that I sometimes try to do too many things).  

When the muffins first came out of the oven, I let them cool for a couple of minutes, which I clearly thought was sufficient as I sunk my teeth in to one of the mini snacks. The chocolate chunks, however, hadn't cooled much at all from their 350 degree temperature, and the sensation of extreme burning pain immediately afflicted the middle of my bottom lip. Naturally I tried to wipe the chocolate off of my lip to stop the burning, scorching my finger and getting chocolate all over my cheek, neck, and left arm. Finishing up the baking one-handed was a bit of a challenge, but my lip stung so badly that I had to keep ice on it for an hour. 

I should've taken that as a sign to just give things a rest in the LKTC, but instead came home and cranked up the stove again. To make the focaccia dough, I had to move Kitty the Kitchenaid stripper all the way across the kitchen to find a working outlet due to a fuse I apparently blew a couple weeks ago (which rendered half the outlets in my kitchen useless). I forgot to latch her shut, and things got a little wild while the dough was being kneaded. 

I thought that was our last mini crisis of the day, and set the dough in the corner to rise while I made bbq sauce for my upcoming Monday night dinner with a friend. Luckily that went fairly uneventfully, but as I heated the oven up to bake the focaccia dough, my smoke alarm started blaring. 

This is a problem I've had before, especially when high temps and/or parchment paper are involved, but I've always been able to alleviate it with open windows and ceiling fans. Sunday, however, was an entirely different story. The alarm beeped for half an hour. That may not seem like a long time, but let me tell you, when an extremely loud, high pitched noise carries on unabated for a mere five minutes, it seems like a lifetime. Half an hour? Let's just say "wit's end" doesn't begin to cover it. My neighbors knocked on my door to make sure I wasn't burning the joint down, and I imagine they were as horrified by my leggins/baggy tshirt combo as they were about the noise. The did not seem persuaded that "everything is fine!" After fruitless attempts to quiet the alarm by waving a scarf in its general vicinity, I finally called the front desk in sheer desperation. 

The man who answered barely spoke English, and kept saying "ma'am, I can barely hear you." YOU THINK? Imagine how things are on my end, buddy. Fortunately he found a maintenance worker who was on duty at 7pm on a Sunday, and he made the noise stop. I don't know how, nor do I really know why my alarm insists on beeping any time I use my oven. I do know that I needed a drink after that business. And also that I would crack like an egg under any sort of noise-related torture. 

At that point I didn't even want the dinner that I had started to make just before the alarm went off. I kind of wanted to throw up (weird, I know, but that's how loud noises sometimes affect me. See: evolutionary inferiority). But I made the effort to make a menu plan for the week, and to shop selectively for those items (which turned in to an adventure in its own right on Saturday), so I wanted to stick with it. I also didn't want to drink on an entirely empty stomach. 

Enter sopa seca, or "dry soup." I found the recipe in a recent issue of Food Network, and thought it looked easy enough, not to mention conducive to leftovers. It's kind of a cross between chili and spaghetti in flavor, but not super spicy. I won't say it was my favorite dish ever, but that's probably because I will now and forever associate it with that one night I nearly lost my marbles. Really you should just give it a whirl yourself (I suggest adding some cayenne for heat if you do try it out). Hopefully you will have far less traumatizing memories associated with it than I. 

ps-when I've made peace with the focaccia-related alarm incident, I'll be back with an update on that experiment.

dinner (don't let its simple look fool you, its production was a nightmare)

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