Hiatus: Real Recipes

ice crack

Dear 2013, Only Good News

Alison here again, popping in to share with you some recipes that I’ve collected since October-ish.

David’s Bridal Salad

Who is David, anyhow? I thought getting engaged meant, as a friend of mine puts it, you’re shit’s in one sock? Or the engagement somehow helps you to put your shit into one sock. Or, when you get engaged, you at least get two to six months of delusional shit-in-one-sock ego trip? Nope. Apparently people get engaged and try on dresses at David’s Bridal every day, and some of them are wise and some of them are just stressed out, and some of them snap at their mothers and say things like, “HEY! I’m about to ask a question here.”

davids bridal sala

And if you’re me, and your friend since you were 7 asks you to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, you procrastinate this dress purchase move for 8-9 months, thinking you’ll either lose thirty pounds and be A totally different person with a different body by the time winter of 2013 rolls around, or maybe knocked up by a wayward traveling Jehovah’s Witness, and only expandable empire waist dresses will fit. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN in my life. I am very UNPREDICTABLE and SPONTANEOUS.

All the David’s Bridal saleswomen have very different, specific and mysterious responsibilities that don’t always include helping you find stuff. I actually was relieved that everyone ignored me, even though they made it super duper clear I’d needed an appointment in order to be there. Also, I was dispatched to the store after learning, through many months of other bridesmaids’ experiences and group consults, that the appropriate D.B. colors for our event were “Plum” and probably-ok “Eggplant.”

Well, “Eggplant” as a color has totally fallen through the cracks in the Colorado D.B. constellation of hues. I think the cold and the bright light out in the Front Range makes it so that you can only see a few shades of each color. One woman pointed over and over at the big plastic-covered poster of colors, telling me, “You can’t find eggplant because it doesn’t EXIST! HA,HA!” She was a lady whose job it was to look sort of the most professional, in an outfit I’ll call “executive porn” and carry around a clipboard asking you to write down your contact information for a free spa giveaway, but didn’t like to talk about where I could find dresses–that was for another lady to do. She had a rough look about her, not necessarily like she had been on a bender recently, but like she knew how to fight, if you know what I mean. She had a pretty nose stud and expertly applied black liquid eyeliner, a black eye or a lot of teal eyeshadow on.

I had to wade through a disproportionate number of neon mango and peach colored strapless numbers in a variety of sizes in order to find these purple-esque dresses. It became clear that when there was an entire batch of same-color, same-style dresses with handwritten return receipts stapled on them that a group of bridesmaids somewhere in Colorado had staged a sartorial protest.

I found what I think will be my dress (one strap short dress 84333, in Plum, size 8) in a D.B. located in a store 35 miles away called Aurora, sadly made infamous last summer by the Batman theater shootings. But just to be sure, I tried on 15 dresses and got so disoriented that I opened a dressing room where a naked bride was changing, so that was exciting for everyone.

A nice lady in her 40’s wearing braces offered to zip me up on a number of occasions, and she said she was there shopping for a baptismal dress. (?)

The lights in David’s Bridal are harsh, unforgiving, and there are no mirrors in the dressing rooms, forcing you to step outside and admire the way your butt protrudes from dresses in the mirrored doors opposite from you, where there are brides trying on very large white situations.

After you try on 15 dresses at David’s Bridal, you should get into your car and cry when Garth Brooks’s “Calling Baton Rouge” comes on the radio.

Then, drive home to Nancy Drew’s house and make this:

1/3 container, arugula

5 baby bella mushrooms, sliced not very thin

½ c. hard romano cheese, sliced with a mandolin or in thin strips with your knife

balsamic vinegar

olive oil

2 cloves garlic

½ lemon

6-7 strips, turkey bacon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay the bacon in strips on a baking pan and pop it in the oven once it’s hot. You’ll bake for 8-9 minutes, until they are just about to be crisp.

Sauté mushrooms with a little oil but more (2-3 tablespoons) balsamic vinegar poured over, for about 4 mins over medium high heat until they are soft and bruised.

Squeeze half a lemon and pour it and 3 TB olive oil and minced or finely chopped garlic into a Baby Bullet. Process until satisfied.

Throw thin—oh, so thin—slices of romano onto your bunches of arugula in a large bowl from which you will eat. Pour lemon concoction over it. Dump mushrooms on top and mix the whole thing. Place bacon over your salad bowl in an “x marks the spot” sort of design.




Fields of Winter Biscotti

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Lavender, walnut, almond extract and lemon zest work together to perform an aromatic blanket that works so well with the perfect crunchy dryness of the twice-baked biscotti. Something about the driest you can get baked goods and floral menace really works for a week of impending weather. I made these before Christmas and it worked for me.

Follow the link to use Cook’s Illustrated recipe. My changes: vanilla to almond extract, hazelnut to walnut.

While it bakes your kitchen will smell like an expensive hotel bathroom mixed with a cupcake factory. Hooray!



It Snowed Today Dinner

teds kahlua

For the cocktail:

Ted’s Homemade Kahlua*

*If he is not a friend of yours, then buy some at the store.

Whole Milk

Crushed Ice

Whipped Cream Flavored Vodka

Mix. Pour into a large plastic sippy cup and enjoy with Nancy Drew and the other nanny.


Ruby’s Ruby Red Orzo


Do you know someone named Ruby? Me neither. Try this dish. Nancy Drew liked it.


Butter, like ¼ a stick

Sauté garlic and chopped one yellow onion

Small bottled pre-made pasta sauce

One tomato, chopped.

Fresh Sage

Fresh Basil

Sriracha sauce

Moroccan olives, ½ c.

Roasted carrots, beets, chopped

To make this: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roast carrot, beet on baking sheet with olive oil poured over, 40 minutes.

Most of a container, baby/assorted Arugula mix

Process carrots, beets, tomato, sage, basil, olives in Baby Bullet. Fix the risotto in the garlic and onion pan with 2 c water and the butter, according to directions.

The most expensive thing in this dish is the olives. You want some nice ones, like the Moroccan sliced ones at the Whole Foods olive bar.

(Why is it that my second to least pleasant interactions at Whole Foods happen at the olive bar? The least pleasant is the end caps of the toiletry aisle, where gift items such as bejeweled greeting cards and stuffed birds endure old ladies’ gropester hands.)

Sometimes also the flower section. The nicest places in Whole Foods is the seafood counter and the meats. And the wine section.

When orzo is done, mix the beet/carrot/olive tapenade in with orzo. It will turn ruby red!! Serve over a bed of argula.


the I Am Trying to Get On Someone Who Looks Like My Ex-Boyfriend Pumpkin Bread

(October was a time of confusion.)

Do you believe in ghosts? I don’t. This is one of those change-your-mind situations; new relationships that aren’t actually new relationships but just reminders, like printed packaging, of previous ones.


1 box mix, Pillsbury Quick Pumpkin Bread

1 scented candle, “Crème Brulee” or “Iowa Pine” or “Campfire” or another equally improbably waxed scent

1 six pack, Coors Light

Light the candle. Make the Pillsbury Quick Pumpkin Bread, carefully following directions.

Toss it in the trash.


the Shame (I Forgot I Was In Public and Licked the Counter at a Coffeeshop) Hot Spice Cleanse

What’s wrong with you?

Do this at home:

1 cup milk

2 whole nutmeg, 2 whole cacao beans

dash cinnamon

dash allspice

dash powdered ginger

1 teabag, black tea

two heavy pours, local honey*

Grind the nutmeg and cacao in a coffee grinder. Boil milk with teabag on stove. Add spices. Lower heat and simmer.

Drink. Cough. Repeat.

*local honey is preferable since you will probably lick another counter and you should carry the regional immunities that honey provides

more beets

If you have the things pictured above, along with olive oil, you will be okay.

About alison barker