Friday, December 31, 2010

The other Portland, part 1

Two weeks to go! It seems so recent that I took a home pregnancy test, visited the doctor, and commenced worrying that this pregnancy would end abruptly and too early, like the three before it. But all that was back in May, and now I'm big and healthy and full-term-pregnant with a squirming, bouncing, kicking little miracle. I am so grateful.

...and a little uncomfortable. I admit it! As much as I'm in love with this baby and this pregnancy, I of course suffer from all of the (relatively minor) complaints of the last trimester. We're talking heartburn aka Throatferno, insomnia, pinched nerves in my back, and a bunch of general discomfort when I attempt athletic feats as ambitious as, say standing from a seated position. So in order to distract me and to celebrate our last few weeks as DINKS, Josh and I dropped off the troublemaker at Doggy Day Care, fed the cat, and headed south to Portland this week. Our destination?

See, a while back Josh and I saw this clip of Anthony Bourdain in Portland, OR, visiting a doughnut shop. You can watch the two minutes if you want, but there is really only one thing to take from the video. Voodoo Doughnut makes a maple bacon bar. A risen, glazed bar, dipped in maple glaze and pressed with two thick, crispy slices of bacon.

It had to be mine.

As my relatives back East can attest, doughnuts are a major lifestyle component of living in New England. There's a Dunkin Doughnuts on every corner, where you can get mediocre coffee, terrible espresso, and absolutely transcendent doughnuts! In the Seattle area? Top Pot. I admit I've never actually been there, but look at that list. Plain, plain, plain Jane doughnuts, perfect for delicately consuming with a knife and fork while reading The Economist and lamenting the rain. Hey, Uptight Seattleites! THAT'S NOT WHAT I'M AFTER THESE DAYS.

What is it I'm after? This.
That's four of the five doughnuts we bought immediately upon arriving in Portland. The fifth was a plain glazed, which I bought expressly so I could eat one on the way home and not feel guilty about not photographing it. It was heavenly. There's a maple bacon bar, of course, a Mexican Hot Chocolate (old fashioned, rolled in cinnamon, chocolate, and chili pepper), a raspberry filled, and an Old Dirty Bastard - a raised and glazed plain, topped with crumbled Oreo cookies and drizzled with peanut butter.

My life is complete.

Seriously, these are some of the most delicious treats I've ever had! Which should be doubly apparent by the fact that I haven't yet described what we had to do to get them. UGH. Here's how our drive to Portland looked. Let me say again that I'm 8 1/2 months pregnant, hormonal, and did I mention neither of us is sleeping because in the 20 minutes or so I sleep each night, I snore so badly that Josh has to leave the room? We were kind of at our wits end by the time we arrived. Then our room wasn't ready (which the awesome hotel actually handled really well, more on that in part 2), we walked six blocks in the cold rain only to find a 45 minute, uncovered outdoor line for the doughnut shop. By the time we got inside, we were soaked, freezing, a little irked, and my back was incredibly sore. But the smell of doughnuts took all the pain away.
Josh is still learning the camera.

Since most other vices are strictly prohibited during pregnancy, this trip was all about the food. When we got back to the hotel it was about 6pm, and Josh and I traded bites of the bacon bar and ODB before heading out to find real food for dinner. The rest of our little overnight trip did not disappoint, even though we peaked a little early with the doughnuts.

"Portland" has always been Portland, Maine for me. Lobsters, lighthouses, fine dining everywhere, and local beer jump to mind when I hear that word, as do the childhood memories of The Maine Mall, drives to Boston, and visits to my more metropolitan aunts in the big city. (Yes, I'm still talking about Portland, Maine. Hush.) But after this little overnight, and considering my home address, the original Portland's namesake is carving out its own little place in my heart - a place shaped, of course, like a doughnut.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thanks, but no thanks

Let me begin by saying that pregnancy, miscarriage and I'm sure birth, have a near-total deadening effect on modesty. Working for March of Dimes accelerates that process even further! I've had incredibly detailed conversations with strangers about timing sexual intercourse, labor positions, vaginal tearing and surgery, and much, much more. It takes a lot to shock me - and today, that standard was met.

See, Josh and I went to get adjusted at the chiropractor today. I've been having some shooting pains down my lower back and leg (hello, little baby medicine ball), and Josh is a big time weight lifter now, and we've both had good luck with chiropractic in the past. This time was a new guy, a man we've both met but hadn't been to for adjustment before. We were glad to get in to see him, since I got a super creepy vibe from the other practice I've been to here, and we both have a great feeling about this guy. We'll call him Dr. B.

So we walk in, get into the system, and meet for our consultation. Since I've had several creepy experiences with body care professionals in the past, I was glad that Josh and I would be evaluated and adjusted together. After a short wait, Dr. B. comes in and starts asking me questions. Pretty basic questions: how far along are you, age, weight, normal weight, have you been having any pain or headaches, etc. We're going strong. And let me repeat: I'm there to get my back and neck cracked, and my posture evaluated. That's all.

Well, Dr. B. has plans to assist me further, as it turns out! He starts talking about pregnancy-specific techniques to relieve pain, has me lift my shirt (showing belly only) and teaches Josh how to massage the round ligaments around my hips. No biggie - that's not really what I was after, but I don't mind. Then, out of nowhere, he starts talking about how he knows a really great technique to massage the perineal floor to prepare it for birth. See, your perineum plays a huge part in crowning and pushing, hence the near-universal Kegel advice during pregnancy. Makes sense that a health professional would know about that and perhaps offer tips, right? Stay with me here. Still waiting to get my spine worked on.

"So, let's go to the other room and I'll show you on the dummy what this looks like." We follow him, he pulls out a model spine and pelvis, and flips it upside down.

"Here's the base of your spine, the tailbone, and this is where the baby comes out. Here's where your anus would be, your vagina, your urethra. So if this is your anus," he says, making a little "OK" sign with his left hand, "I'm going to put pressure here," (a quarter inch from Ground Zero on the left) "and here," (the right).

At this point I'm completely flabbergasted. Surely, surely, this neck-snapping witch doctor is not suggesting that I GRANT HIM ACCESS TO MY BUTTHOLE. Right?! That would be absurd. I AM HERE FOR MY NECK. But just in case it's not completely, 100%, crystal clear, he keeps elaborating! "So for this procedure we'd take your pants down to your thighs, you'll lay on your side, and I'll start and then teach Josh how to do the technique so you can do it at home. Remember, this is your anus" (ok sign) "and I'll be pressing on either side to loosen the tension of your perineal floor. Let's see which side is tighter."

At this point, naturally, whether to do the procedure is moot, as my perineum has clenched into my ribcage. But for some reason I'm not saying anything! When he has me stand up so he can evaluate the tension around my hips - through pants, thank God - I glare at Josh with pleading eyes and vigorously shake my head NO!

He, I later discovered, was using all of his available faculties to avoid cracking up at the absurdity of it all, and at my discomfort. In fact, if you want to make Josh laugh at inappropriate times, just say "now here's your anus" and you've got him. He did not jump to my rescue.

Still, despite my overpowering and misplaced sense of politeness, there was no way this guy was getting my pants off. Finally I said "I need to wrap my mind around this before I try it. Do you have a brochure?" He produced one, reminded me that his wife used to model this procedure in front of 20 students at a time, and then gave me and Josh each an effective, helpful, simple little chiropractic adjustment.

I have developed finely honed radar for creeps, perverts, and opportunists, and Dr. B. truly does not seem to be any of those. He has a new baby and like many alternative medicine pros, he is kind of an evangelist about what chiropractic can do for the human body. He was so painfully earnest about the whole thing that I will probably return next time I need and adjustment - but I'll go with Josh, and I intend to be very, very clear about the services I'm interested in.

And if, at my regular cleaning next month, the dentist offers to check my breastmilk, I am never seeing another doctor again.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Let's just get right to it: I got a new camera!! My dear husband - remember him? - got me a Canon digital SLR, which I've been pining after since before we knew there was a baby on the way. Once there was a baby in the picture (har har), my desire for a decent camera began approaching the insane. And here it is! So far it is easy to use in auto mode, takes fantastic pictures despite my utter lack of knowledge or skills, and has potential for greatness! Josh's Christmas present is somewhat related, despite the fact that mine was a surprise - he wanted a new barbell and a weight vest. Connection: he's going to keep looking better and better, and now I can take lots of pictures of him. :)

I'm less than three weeks from my due date now, so traveling to the East Coast to see my family wasn't an option this holiday season. We are so lucky to live close to our Sullins relatives, and so we made plans to have a Christmas lunch with Grammy, Papa, and Bum (Josh's great grandmother). I don't have a tripod yet, so here's a couple shots of the whole crew:
Look at that belly! Holy cows!
Don't you just love those? Charlie had a great time visiting, as always, and was a hit with the staff at Bum's new home. At one point it seems someone told him a joke...
...which he tried to repeat to Fuji, with decidedly poor results.
Christmas 2010 is exactly what we've been hoping for ever since Christmas 2007 - the first time we became pregnant, and lost the pregnancy almost immediately. As the day and the season wind down, I am filled more and more deeply with gratitude for this baby, for our comfortable life and for our unbelievably dear family and friends. Love is everywhere.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


What did you eat or avoid during pregnancy? I find it kind of ironic that just a few months after starting a blog called "Emily Eats Everything," my diet became restricted in all kinds of interesting ways. Bacon is in the subtitle of this blog, and now it's off-limits because of nitrites. (Nitrites, by the way, are apparently horribly poisonous and also breathtakingly delicious. Luckily I am able to find and indulge in nitrite-free bacon and pepperoni occasionally, thanks to Central Market and Trader Joe's.) Here are some of the items I'm avoiding during pregnancy:

Processed meats containing nitrites
Lunchmeats (even the all-natural ones)
Large fish
Unpasteurized dairy, which vexingly includes all gruyére cheese
Undercooked meat
Undercooked eggs
Most herbal teas
Anything cooked by my friend Irish's friend, who thinks that basting nearly-cooked meat in raw chicken marinade is delicious.

Okay, now I'd be avoiding that last one anyway. But two things have surprised me about the pregnancy diet so far: 1, I can still manage to eat really unhealthfully and often do, and 2, I'm pretty much a damn semi-vegetarian again!

That's the relapse part. I was so delighted to have rediscovered good quality (grass-fed, organic, sustainably and humanely raised) red meat and especially pork in the last year or two, and now here I am avoiding it. I can still eat red meat, but the other night I had my first pregnancy aversion. It wasn't coffee or bourbon or something I'd LIKE to have lost my taste for*, no. It was filet mignon.

Filet mi-freaking-gnon. We buy our fancy beef from US Wellness Meats, and let me tell you, they sell a top-notch filet. We've had it once before, and ordered two more last month for a special occasion. So a couple nights ago I made baked sweet potatoes, roasted popcorn kale, and two big, gorgeous steaks. I cooked mine to 145 F, to be safe, let it rest well, and sat down ahem, in front of the TV,. One bite and I thought the meat must have been bad. Turns out I can't handle any hint of undercooked beef anymore, and really? If you have to cook your beef to death? Not so much worth eating the beef.

So I've relapsed completely. Yesterday I had a PBJ english muffin for breakfast, vegetarian double-mushroom soup for lunch, and a truly transcendent bowl of palak paneer from a local Indian restaurant for dinner. The day before it was cereal with peaches, my biweekly tunafish sandwich, and and the beginnings of that same mushroom soup.

But! I'm not being entirely forthcoming with that list, am I? Doesn't sound so much like the unhealthy diet I was describing does it? Well, let's just say that dinner the night BEFORE was about a pound of curly fries and a couple fatty bites of ribs from the county fair. And there has been one other small relapse too: yesterday I had a single, blessed shot of regular espresso. That worries me more than the fries, by far, since caffeine is a miscarriage risk. But all the doctors and studies say a little occasionally is fine, I'm well into the second trimester, and this little baby is a fighter, so when I'm going to treat it like that tunafish sandwich - only one, only once a week or two.

Now that I'm really and truly showing, I'm sure I'll be getting more long looks and "advice" when eating in public. Maybe on this post, too. But for now, I'm happy with my healthy/unhealthy diet, and looking forward to a half a glass of wine in my future.

*No, I haven't had any bourbon while pregnant. But I sniffed a couple bottles from our liquor cabinet to see if nature would be kind and make them repellent to me. It wasn't, they weren't, and I think Baby loves good gin, tequila, and whiskey, in that order.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hey, baby

Well, it's happened: not the six months between posts, that's happened for sure, but more importantly I am PREGNANT! Nearly five months along now, healthy and feeling great, after a very difficult journey and a lot of tears along the way.

The feeling is surreal. I was in denial for several weeks, then terrified for much of the first trimester that something would go wrong. Sometime in week five, we had our first ultrasound and saw the miniscule little heart beating, and I fell in love more deeply than I can possibly describe, and ever since we've reached the second trimester that love just keeps growing. Along with my belly!I'm gaining weight slowly and really enjoying this belly, leading the way into the world for me.

It's not all great - the one hour commute to work is much more trying now that I'm tired all the time, I've had a little nausea and some headaches, and Josh is having to do a lot more chores around the house. Our other baby, Charlie, is still getting lots of attention, especially since I spend so much time on the sofa and in bed!

I'm way out of the habit of writing, but I'm hoping to bring this blog back now that we've got an expanding family to share. Big things are afoot - and I hope next time I write, I'll be able to tell you about the first kicks!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Valentine's Day and Anniversary

So, one post every three months, eh Internet? And I still owe you like ten posts about our amaaaazing Mexico vacation, I know. Kinda thinking that's not going to happen at this point - but I have related food news to share! Good enough? No?

I think it's a testament to the incredible teachers at Mexican Home Cooking school that we have cooked half a dozen recipes from our dandy little books since returning home, and enjoyed every one. We have a jar of preserved chipotles in the fridge, ready to be chopped and mixed with cream cheese at the first sign of company. Josh's incredible grandma Sylvia's 90th birthday was a couple weeks ago, and we took the day off and drove North with bubbling pots of arroz con pérejil (parsley rice), frijoles negros (black beans), and pipián rojo con pollo (chicken in a mild red sauce with cinnamon and clove), plus tortillas and suspiros de novia (sighs of the bride, fried flour cakes soaked in lime syrup. Dinner with Bum (funny nickname, I know!) and Josh's parents was lovely, and everyone seemed to like the food.

Then came our anniversary, and the one restaurant we actually wanted to try was closed - for the whole week of Valentine's Day! Who does that?! So since it was a weeknight we decided to cook in. I headed to Central Market for the fixins of a quick, but luxurious weeknight meal: scallops (thanks for the tips, and freebies, Seafood Guy!), Swiss chard, chocolate truffles, and BACON! Here's how it went down: Josh cooked bacon bits while I seared off the scallops and put a salad together. Then he took the bacon out of the pan and I added the clean chard, dressed the salad with homemade ranch, and we set the table together - including a bottle of the wine we drank at our wedding four years before.

The food was delicious, if I do say so...scallops cooked perfectly, simple chard with bacon bits, and a salad that tasted like a BLT. But there was something else, too, something about being in our house, in the Northwest, in the U.S.A., with no plans to move any time soon - this was the first time we've had that in our marriage. It felt settled and lovely and calm, and was definitely the best anniversary we've had yet.

Three days later comes Valentine's Day, like clockwork. We decided to avoid the restaurant crush (well, I reluctantly agreed when Josh promised to make my Mom's famous key lime cheesecake for me) and eat in. It being a long weekend, and a special day, we decided to make mole poblano.

Mole poblano. moh-leh-poh-blah-noh.'ve had this, right? This sweet and spicy, deep dark meat-in-sauce Mexican tradition, complete with a bar of abuelita chocolate? Holy majoley. It was one of the best dishes we made and ate in Tlaxcala, and hey - meat and chiles and chocolate? Perfect for Valentine's Day.

Thing is, those flavors are complex because they're made of a zillion ingredients, each requiring its own step in cooking. Here's a smattering:
*wipe down, cut open, seed and flay fourteen dried chiles
*fry each of the following, individually and quickly, in the same oil: plantain slices, raisins, toasted sesame seeds (you did remember to toast those, didn't you?), cumin, anise, clove, cinnamon, peanuts, almonds, and more..
*puree those with toasted tortillas and bread, then fry the puree and stir constantly for half an hour
*puree the chiles in stock and stir it into the other puree, then stir for half an hour
*stir some other crap in there and stir for six days
*add the chocolate and repeat

Okay, so it's not six days. But while Josh occupied himself otherwise, I did end up standing at the stove, stirring, for the better part of two hours. But Internet? It was worth it.I can't describe the deliciousness. It's not the easiest dish to photograph, but the combination of those quick-fried and long-simmered nuts, seeds, and spices with the delicate heat from ancho and mulatto chiles and the depth of the chocolate - all we added was a little shredded lettuce and a corn tortilla, and our Valentine's luuurve was doing a little simmering of its own.

And the cheesecake? We shall not speak of the cheesecake. Suffice to say that it is NOT Mexican, it is NOT healthy, and it is NOT in the house anymore since we ate every last crumb of it almost immediately.

Salud, people.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Aprendemos cocinar, part 3

In December 2009, Josh and I learned to cook in Mexico. Here's the latest installment of our story.

We arrived at our vacation destination not at 7pm on Christmas, as planned, but around 1:30am December 27th, thanks to Aeromexico. Well-fed and relieved to have arrived, we drifted off into a deep sleep, with an alarm for 8:30 and a 9:00 start time. For some reason, Maria (Jon and Estela's household helper) brought coffee to our room at 6:30 in the morning, so we thanked her and went back to sleep. Just half an hour later, Jon came in to tell us that breakfast was served - turns out in our exhaustion we'd forgotten to change the time zone on our phones. WHOOPS!

Still, everyone was quite forgiving. We beat feet to the outdoor breakfast table, not knowing what to expect. Here's what greeted us:Ham and cheese between two tortillas, with salsa verde, avocado, onion, and kiwi on the side. YUM.

But before long, eating gave way to cooking (with more eating to come, of course). We walked in to the kitchen to see an incredible spread laid out for us. It was unbelievably beautiful and inviting - and have I mentioned lately that you should visit Cause you should. Or you can find them on Facebook. Here's what's in store:

I'm sorry my camera and my photography skills aren't better, because that kitchen is so gorgeous and the photos don't do it justice.

On to the food! We made seven or eight recipes every day, and the first day included a couple really fun ones. We began with nopalitos, which are cactus leaves grown right on the property. They are spiny and irritating, but delicious and healthy to eat.
You start by laying a knife flat against the leaf and moving it from side to side to remove the spines, being careful to impale each of your fingers individually with the barbs. Okay, just kidding - but I recommend buying them cleaned. We made ensalada and sopa de nopalitos before moving on to the heavy lifting.
When was the last time you cooked a squash blossom? We used them several times, and lamented the, you know, seasons of Washington - gorgeous, floral produce is available year-round in Tlaxcala.

Next up? Tortas de Papas con Espinaca, or potato pancakes with spinach. Only instead of spinach we used shrimp! FLEXIBILITY, people.
Jon taught us the prep techniques while Estela ran the frying, charring, and sauteeing station at the stove. Oh, and by the way, the torta recipe is available for free on the website!

On day one, we also made an almond chicken dish with tortillas blended right into the sauce, and mushroom soup, and these incredible fried flour dough cakes with vanilla sugar pressed into them. We ate lunch with our compadres and co-students - Tim and Athena from Santa Barbara, and Robin and Diane from Sitka, Alaska - before heading out to the Xochitecatl and Cacaxtla archaeological sites for the afternoon. And at the rate I've been posting these stories, you should hear about that in midsummer.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Aprendemos cocinar, part 2

It's Christmas Day. Christmas morning, that is - 7:00am. Josh and I have been up since 4:00, all packed up, passports in hand, having ridden a shuttle bus two hours to the airport. We're at the Aeromexico check-in counter...

and we're alone. There's no line, no one milling about, no employees behind the counters. Just Josh and me and signs with the Aeromexico reservation hotline. Which I call, asking when we can expect to check in for our 9:00 flight.

"Um, we don't have any departures leaving Seattle today."

"Well, I'm holding a flight confirmation that says we're going on vacation to Mexico City. Confirmed November 18th for departure today, Christmas, at 9:00."

"Oh, that flight was changed. You're leaving tomorrow."

"Changed when?"

"December 11."

*Head explodes.*

I mean, seriously. SERIOUSLY! It is the two-thousandsies, and the airline had my credit card number, email, cell phone, and (presumably) access to Google and Skype. But they just cancel a flight and don't let us know. Luckily, our friends at Mexican Home Cooking are incredibly flexible, and the airline was at least willing to make our return flight one day later as well. We'd get our whole vacation. But the bus home cost more than a hotel room at the airport, so we checked in for the night and set about trying to enjoy Christmas Day in Seattle.

First up was to hop on the city's newest attraction, light rail from the airport to downtown.We had the (new, clean) car to ourselves, and $2.50 and 30 minutes later we were in Chinatown. The lines for dim sum were outrageous, and we waited 45 minutes, standing smashed against hungry Chinese-American, Jewish, and all-around heathen masses, before we sat down to some good old fashioned fa-ra-ra-ra-ra.
He's, um, smiling at me!

The rest of the day was pretty boring, as we waited out our sentence. The next morning started early again and we were glad to see staff at Aeromexico. We checked in and passed through security, no problem, and got right on the plane, on the tarmac.

And stayed there. First, there was an indicator light on that wouldn't go off. Out to the runway, back to the gate a couple times. They fixed that, or so they said, and then had another little problem - some little insignificant part wouldn't work. It was called, um, the STARTER.Okay. End of rant. We got off the plane and finally took off six hours past schedule, flew five hours with no food and one drink service, and landed in Mexico City long after the last bus to Tlaxcala had departed. We called Jon (our home cooking host) with a calling card and he directed us to an authorized taxi to Tapo bus station. An unofficial taxi driver tried to scam a fare out of us, but Josh stayed strong and we found the ticket counter. We didn't find any food though, as the bus was leaving five minutes later and we couldn't miss it. On the bus we got to see Enemy of the State in Spanish, but we didn't get to see any toilet paper. What's up, Subway napkins?!

The bus got us to Tlaxcala station, where we called Jon again and he told us his taxi driver would meet us inside in 15 minutes. We were so hungry though, too hungry to take photos in the shut-down bus station - not a bad way to start a culinary vacation, but still - hungry enough to poke our heads outside the door and see a hot dog stand. I knew enough Spanish to say "Uno con todos, por favor," and Josh and I tucked into the best hot dog of our lives. It had tomatoes, and onions, and mustard and mayo and, best of all, bright green pickled jalepeños right on top. We just died and went to heaven.

Soon we saw a short man holding a sign for Mexican Home Cooking. We were reasonably certain he wasn't after our kidneys, but that certainty faded when we turned onto the second of three dirt, um, roads? Pothole collectives would be more accurate. Turns out the driver was our buddy Yair, who took us all over creation that week, but at the time he was a wee bit scary!

You've already seen some of what we arrived to. Jon welcomed us with a fire in the fireplace of our room, and when he heard we hadn't eaten he produced bowls of creamy oyster soup, then spicy beef stew with the bones still flavoring the broth. And immediately, we were transformed. Those spoonfuls of homemade dinner melted the terrible travel right off our skins, and brought us back to Earth.

And that's why we chose this kind of vacation in the first place, because cooking and eating is so fundamental to the kind of joy we want to bring into our lives. A cup of the right soup, or hot chocolate, or a bite of Mom's macaroni and cheese* can make a bad day beautiful, and our trip was gorgeous from there on out.

*with collard greens! HOLLA!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Aprendemos cocinar, part 1

Well hey there, Internet. What's up? I'm sorry I haven't responded to your emails lately, or your calls. I've been following you on Facebook but just not up to chatting. Life is crazy now, with a new job and the holidays, and Fuji the cat and lots of hopes for a baby. But most of all, I just haven't felt like sharing. On the good days, life is pleasantly boring: chatting with friends on the way to work, learning to navigate my new job, cooking dinner and spending time with Josh. Boring! And when life isn't good, well, I just don't want to advertise that to the world.

Which brings me to Christmas Day, 2009.


Josh and I have never had a vacation. Thanks to Mom and Dad we had a couple days at a nice B&B after our wedding, and we've taken weekends in Kyoto before, but never a full-on vacation, until now. After the turmoil of the last year, and much-needed visits with our parents in November, we decided to use some of our savings to get away for Christmas.

Where to go was an easier decision than I expected. See, we're not really beach people, Josh not liking bright sunlight, and when we've had time off together before we've ended up wondering what to do with ourselves. Especially in a strange city, everything is a bit expensive and confusing, right? So I wanted a pre-arranged trip. And since the only thing we both really like to do is cook and eat, a culinary vacation was the way to go. With just a little research, we found our heaven away from home: Mexican Home Cooking in Tlaxcala, Mexico.Ahhhhhhhhhhh. Don't you feel more relaxed already?
Me too. We had tickets to arrive on Christmas and leave New Year's Eve, with five days of relaxation, morning cooking classes, and afternoon sightseeing in between.And we got those five days, in spades! I have tales of dozens of chiles, tortillas with ham and salsa verde dripping with fresh cheese at breakfast, stories about which dishes enhance "marital function" according to Madame Estela. Sadly, first come stories of cancelled flights and Seattle dim sum - and a bus station in Ciudad Mexico around midnight.

It was all worth it, though, and you can see why for yourself. Check out a couple more pictures, and Jon and Estela's web site (, if you haven't been there already!), and I'll share more soon.

P.S. Happy New Year everybody. Here's to sabor (flavor,) especia (spice,) and amor in 2010.