Maple & Vanilla Bean Granola (& envy)

When I met Jen, I didn’t like her.

Maple & Vanilla Bean Granola

Not actually. But I didn’t like how she made me feel. Behind, inexperienced, and so uncool it was painful. Of course, this had nothing to do with her or her actions towards me, and everything to do with myself. And my insecurities. It was a new job, I was still unhappy in SC, everyone else in that kitchen knew the rhythm and how things worked. How they worked. I didn’t. And it killed me not knowing.

There were inside jokes I wasn’t a part of, techniques I’d never heard of before, a storage system in the fridge that was entirely new to me. Next to her – tall, blonde, round blue eyes behind the hippest glasses – I felt as if I could bathe in a thimble. And often wanted to hide under one during my shifts.

Maple & Vanilla Bean Granola

My dislike for her was solidified the day she showed me how to make gnocchi (something I’d never done before, phony food connoisseur that I was). Her technique was simple and quick and almost effortless. She was as fluid as the water simmering between us. I was green with envy at her abilities. During conversation, I found out she was a few years younger than me and turned the deepest shade of forest. I felt so behind, she seemed so ahead.

Maple & Vanilla Bean Granola

And then, one day, she messed up. She left granola in the oven too long. Way too long. It was burnt. Charred. Inedible. She’d ruined a dish.

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Game Day Dip (& football)

Yesterday wasn’t a great day.

Game Day Spinach Dip

For the Packers, at least. For me it was great! I slept in (until 7 – hoohah!), helped Seth work on the house, and took a very long bubble bath.

Game Day Spinach Dip

Before the bath and the painting and the drinking rosé cider while painting, I went to the grocery store. I love this store – it’s on the edge of town, family owned, and truly, one of the best shopping experiences I’ve ever had. I love it so much that even when it’s game day Sunday and the entrance is a sea of green and gold, there are no available carts, and the bakery runs out of wheat bread to make subs with, I still go. I brave the crowds and stand in line and buy my favorite kettle chips (which were on sale, score).

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Beer Mustard (& polka)

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I’ve got to say it.

Homemade Beer Mustard

Disneyland is not the happiest place on Earth.

Oh, no. Not even close

The happiest place on Earth is any bar, brewery, or beer hall where there is live polka. Where revelers are clad in lederhosen, hoisting their glasses in the air – shouts of “Prost!” all around.

Because, here’s the thing – it’s impossible to be unhappy when polka is playing.

Homemade Beer Mustard

Just ask the woman I saw at work last night. She came in with the sourest look on her face – all pinched and pouting, looking annoyingly aggravated. But then. Then! Tuba Dan started to play.

The rhythmic “bump, bump, bump,” of his song circled the room. It came up through the floor, vibrating the old wooden boards. It moved into toes, knees, and legs, impossibly infectious. Customers swayed on their barstools, following the rhythm, singing the lyrics they’d known for years. These songs are well-known, well-loved; a staple at every church picnic, Oktoberfest, and wedding reception from here to Waupaca.

Homemade Beer Mustard

I watched this woman – this angry woman – watched her shift from one foot to the other, her eyes scanning the menu. I watched her face soften, her head move back and forth. I watched her lips spread into a smile, her shoulders bounce up and down. She ordered her beer, sat down and enjoyed the end of the song.

“…Roll out the barrel, for the gang’s all here!”

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Sesame Garlic Green Beans (& talking)

I’m a talker.

A Chatty Cathy.

A blabber mouth.

Report cards used to say things like, “Amanda is an excellent student but she tends to be a social butterfly.” Took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t the praise I originally thought.

Luckily, this talent/gift/personality flaw comes in handy from time to time. Like this last weekend when my bff Alex came into town.

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