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1001 Uses for Squash

We’re drowning in squash. A few months ago we decided to get a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription. What this means is once I week I go pick up a big box of fresh veggies, and some fresh eggs. This has created all sorts of interesting culinary challenges. Mostly, how do two people eat several pounds of vegetables in one week? Here are our main survival tactics:

  • Share it- there actually is a limit to the amount of arugula, kale, and okra (there’s a very low limit for okra) that we can eat, so we spread the wealth.
  • Pork and Cheese – everything can be cooked with some form of pork (bacon, prosciutto, ham) and cheese (feta, parmesan, cheddar).
  • Stuff it – it turns out several food types can be adapted to different veggie and herb combinations. We’ve done crepes, fritatta, pasta, quiche…

This month’s challenge is summer squash. Yellow, crookneck, pattypan, and zucchini are overflowing in the fridge, and I’ve had to find all sorts of interesting ways to use it. Turns out zucchini can be used in chocolate cake, for reals. Turns out it really sucks in chocolate chip cookies. I found some creative ways to use it in other stuff too. For example, if you grate it really fine, and press out most of the water, you can use it in pancakes! Seriously, it’s really good. I also grate it coarser and put it in potato pancakes – using about half potatoes and half zuccini (squeezed out in cheese cloth), combined with chopped onion, fresh sage, a couple eggs and some flour. Then I pan fry it until golden and serve with low fat sour cream and smoked salmon. Yummy! Here are a few of my other favorite recipes so far:

Sauteed Baby Squash with Basil and Feta
Shrimp and Squash Penne
Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Stay tuned, next month we’ll be swimming in sweet potatoes!

100 Things

I keep seeing these “100 Things” lists on people’s blogs. I could pretend that I don’t like to talk about myself and am too modest to try to come up with one, but that would just be silly. So here goes:

  1. My first name is Heather.
  2. I tested out of high school when I was 15 and went to community college for a year before starting at SF Conservatory of Music where I got 2 degrees.
  3. I hate pineapple.
  4. I don’t like to cook anything that takes more than an hour of prep.
  5. I make a mean crepe.
  6. I scored 158 on the LSAT.
  7. I take reasonably good macro photography with a Nikon D300.
  8. I suck at math.
  9. Some days I’m an INFJ, some days I’m an ENFJ.
  10. In college I sang a master class with Thomas Hampson, and he made me take my shoes off.
  11. I have two masters degrees (so far).
  12. I auditioned a role in the movie Dangerous Liaisons when I was 15. I didn’t get it, Uma Thurman did.
  13. I loved junior high and hated high school.
  14. I love corgis and terriers, but I hate poodles and cocker spaniels.
  15. I think Brain Candy and Zoolander are works of genius.
  16. I’ve watched the five hour mini-series version of Pride and Prejudice in one sitting at least five times.
  17. I love Jane Austin adaptations. That includes Clueless. And the Bollywood one.
  18. I read books multiple times until they fall apart, and then I get new copies and read them some more.
  19. I’m scared of cockroaches.
  20. When I was a kid I played classical harp.
  21. I don’t swim very well.
  22. I had a sadistic choir director in high school who told me I was a terrible dancer.
  23. I’m actually a pretty good dancer. Not great, but good.
  24. I take belly dance classes and perform fairly regularly.
  25. Both my pinkie fingers are crooked.
  26. I have persistent asthma. It used to flare up when I exercised, now it only gets bad if I have a bad cold or bronchitis. Yay regular exercise and modern medicine!
  27. I used to be an opera singer.
  28. I still want to sing a lead in one more Mozart opera someday.
  29. I almost flunked math in high school because I was in the chorus of The King and I in local theater and I wasn’t getting any sleep.
  30. My husband says I snore, but I don’t believe him.
  31. I’m not sure if I want to have children.
  32. I did children’s theater in elementary school and got all the short roles, including a munchkin and a hobbit.
  33. I’ve been in six musicals, six operas, and three operettas.
  34. I speak basic German, and rudimentary French and Italian.
  35. My hair is actually dishwater blond.
  36. I am allergic to cats.
  37. I had a TABC license for a while (so I could bartend, which I only did once).
  38. I’m the third (possibly fourth) generation of my family to elope.
  39. I used to read tarot cards, sometimes for money.
  40. I am so not psychic.
  41. I used to think Phantom of the Opera was the best musical ever written. I was wrong.
  42. I never thought I would end up settling in Texas.
  43. I don’t really miss California, though I do miss my friends and family there sometimes.
  44. I have two black and white Terrier mixes named Loki and Persephone.
  45. I love comparative religion and mythology.
  46. I’ve watched every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel several times, and can identify which episode and which season many random quotes come from. Scary.
  47. I want to get a PhD in Psychology and Mythology.
  48. I want to get a law degree.
  49. I have bad dreams pretty frequently.
  50. I used to love Victorian architecture and hate mid-century modern and later design, now it’s mostly the other way around.
  51. I read fiction incredibly fast, but am much slower with non-fiction. Imagine my dismay when I found this out after starting grad school.
  52. I am addicted to Flickr.
  53. I love Homestar Runner and Making Fiends. And I have the tee-shirts to prove it.
  54. I am largely over my life-long Hello Kitty fixation.
  55. I can order a few kinds of dim sum in really bad Chinese.
  56. The worst airport I have every been in was in Tel Aviv. I was three hours early and almost missed my flight.
  57. The farthest away I have ever traveled was Israel. Hawaii seems pretty far too, now that I live in Texas.
  58. I got married in Hawaii.
  59. I lived in Santa Barbara for 17 years, San Francisco for 7 years, Baltimore for 2 years, and Austin for 11.
  60. I lived in Austin from 1996-1999, and then moved back in 2001 right be fore 9/11.
  61. I find psychology fascinating and have read many books on it. I considered getting a social work or counseling degree before I decided on my most recent one.
  62. My birthday is two days before Christmas. This worked to my advantage when I was a kid, and totally sucks now.
  63. I belonged to a synagogue in Baltimore and was employed as a soloist at a Lutheran church at the same time. So that year I observed Passover while singing Holy Week services. They were more alike than you would imagine, and more different than they should have been.
  64. I grew up knowing how to swear in Yiddish but not knowing anything about Judaism (my grandmother was Jewish but was raised protestant). I learned how to make latkes from my grandmother, and everything else I thought I knew about my heritage was from Fiddler on the Roof.
  65. I refuse to roller skate, ice skate, or ski.
  66. I’ve been to Israel, Belize, Honduras, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, England, Belgium, Switzerland, Wales, Scotland, and Canada.
  67. I can quote large portions of Monty Python sketches.
  68. I am a nerd of epic proportions.
  69. I can also be quite redundant.
  70. I own all of Frank Baum’s Oz books, and a bunch of his way lesser known children’s books.
  71. I love elephants and collect SMALL amounts of elephant things. I consider the elephant my totem animal.
  72. I feel a strong calling to help people understand themselves and others better and nurture compassion.
  73. I can hand-code old school HTML.
  74. I love yoga, and I wish I did it more often.
  75. I’m a Capricorn with my moon in Pisces and Gemini rising. That means that I’m logical and stubborn on the surface, but introverted and mystical and intuitive underneath, and sometimes gregarious and changeable. Seems a little broad, doesn’t it?
  76. I used to write a food column for my former company’s newsletter. People would email me to ask where to take their SO for special occasions. It was fun.
  77. New Orleans has my favorite food in the world. I almost moved there before I decided to come back to Austin.
  78. I seem to have gotten somewhat used to the Texas heat. When I was a kid I couldn’t stand it when it got over 75 degrees.
  79. I still hate the cockroaches, though.
  80. Starting a business is one of the scariest and most fun things I’ve ever done.
  81. I read Perez Hilton.
  82. I hate misuse of punctuation, including but not limited to multiple exclamation and/or questions marks, incorrect use of apostrophes, and incorrect use of quotation marks.
  83. My chocolate chip oatmeal pecan cookies are possibly the best in the world.
  84. I have three tattoos: a lotus on my lower back, a hand of fatima on my right shoulder blade, and a scarab with a band on my left upper arm.
  85. I am addicted to makeup and skin care products. I shudder to think how much I spend at Sephora in a year.
  86. I’ve had consistent insomnia for several years in a row.
  87. I love coffee. Maybe there’s a connection there.
  88. I’m addicted to positive-message makeover shows like What Not to Wear, How to Look Good Naked, Clean House, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and Dress My Nest. Yes, I know they’re cheeze. No, I don’t care.
  89. I hate ugly reality TV, the stuff that encourages people to act out of self-interest and against their values.
  90. The movie Idiocracy scared the shit out of
    me. See above.
  91. I’m a liberal capitalist.
  92. I once meditated for two days straight. (weekend workshop, there was sleep involved) I mostly felt a lot of back pain and extreme grumpiness. It was still a good experience.
  93. I love blue dishes, purple clothes, burgundy lipstick, and my husband’s brown eyes.
  94. It makes me very angry that gay people can’t marry in most states.
  95. It makes me happy that it is finally changing.
  96. I want to write a bestselling book on relationship dynamics in the professional world.
  97. I want to go on Oprah to talk about my book.
  98. I liked being single. I like being married way better.
  99. I’ve indulged in an illegal drug exactly once. I don’t like alcohol all that much either.
  100. I know karate. (okay, I took karate for a couple of years in my early teens, but I still know how to break an arm or leg, given controlled circumstances)

Silly Toon

Pyzam Family Sticker Toy
Create your own family sticker graphic at

Now I have a crush on Doogie Howser, and it's all Joss Whedon's Fault

Back in Pink

I traveled to Santa Barbara two weeks ago for my grandmother’s memorial. And then I went again last weekend for the funeral of a close friend’s mother. That makes eight flights in 1.5 weeks (counting the connecting ones). I am so tired of flying that David and I have decided to road trip for our annual vacation this year. Many photo opportunities…

I dislike American Airlines because they treat you like an annoying inconvenience. There’s got to be something in the corporate culture that encourages the flight crew to behave with total indifference towards the passengers. But it turns out Delta and USAir are worse. Stinky, hot planes (and mostly grumpy employees). It might be cold on AA, but at least it’s clean and usually competent. I’m just fed up with flying in general. AA charged me for checking a tiny suitcase both ways on my second trip. And here’s the thing — we’re a captive audience. They can cut services, raise prices, whatever, as long as the market will bear it. And because we have no other choice for long distance travel, we’ll bear a lot. The only thing that would really get people to stop flying would be major safety issues. So we put up with the bumped flights and the lack of food and the hidden charges and myriad more discomforts, because it only takes half a day to get to the other side of the country.

All that being said, there were some nice things about the two trips. I got to eat several meals prepared by Chef Shaun, my genius foodie brother, and assorted pastries cooked by my mother the baker. This also gave me the opportunity to work on my food photography:

This is mixed greens with a lychee ginger dressing, with cucumber wrapped summer roll containing tuna sashimi, tempura plantain and shitake mushrooms, and lettuce. Garnished with edible flower confetti.

Prime rib (expertly cooked by my dad), celery root white truffle mash garnished with a roasted baby potato stuffed with garlic clove, horseradish mustard green beans and butter-brown sugar carrots.

Miss Maxine works on a biscotto.

This is Shaun rolling a home made waffle cone which we ate with homemade vanilla bean ice cream that had bits of my mom’s chipotle brownies mixed in.

Which is best enjoyed with one of Shaun’s killer cappuccinos.

Getting Shaun out of bed early enough to make a cappuccino to enjoy with one of my mom’s legendary sticky buns, not as easy.

Hungry yet?

The first weekend I was there David came with me and we went for a walk on my favorite beach and got some cool snaps:

Flowers growing out of the beach cliffs.

There are about a million more pictures on my flickr page. So now I’m in recovery from all that traveling, food, and photography. Which includes, in my case, a nasty cold, just when I’d rather be exercising about four hours a day to atone (re: not grow out of my jeans) for all the great food I ate.

Hope everyone is having a safe and fun long weekend! I’m going back to sleep.