Tag Archives: Erin

When Pancakes Can’t Redeem You

This week has been a pretty strong 28 tables week. I mentioned in my deal-io that we as a family wouldn’t be able to eat dinner together on Tuesdays, so this Tuesday I went over to co-experimenter Robeeno‘s house for pizza with her fam. It was quite delightful. When you mix pineapple pizza, good conversation, and a three year old (with a fondness for other people’s drinks), then you’re bound to have a good time. Wednesday was num num num, Thursday I could not eat with the family which was super unfortunate. Family from New York called late Wednesday night and let us know that they would be passing thorough. I had to work at 7, and they literally were turning into our street as I was turning out of our street to go to work. I was super bummed out. Though, that day I really needed a nap and that freed up some nap-time. And, after dinner they all stopped by my work to get some free ice cream (and to say hello, I’m sure). Friday night my dad returned from out of town and we all got pizza right before I worked. That brings us to tonight.

Tonight we had pancakes. I said in one of my last posts that pancakes are redemptive. I still hold this to be true, however, my big brother was eating with us tonight, and dinner ended with me angrily getting up from the table early, storming upstairs muttering foul words under my breath, and leaving for work without saying goodbye. He can be so infuriating, and the pancakes could not redeem him. Not tonight.

Next week we leave for our cruise where we will have happy and lovely dinners together every night. I will sadly have to skip out on dinner Monday because I will be shopping for clothes for said cruise.

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Num num num

Posted by Erin B.

My mom texted me midday today. “Dinner at 6?”

“Sure”, I replied.

“Peanut noodles ok?” she texted back. I replied with an enthusiastic “Hell yeah!”, and for the rest of the day was super excited for dinner. I’m a sucker for noodles.

They were totally yum. She free-balled it and added red onion and baby bok choy, which was quite well played. Bravo mother, bravo. And! Served with a side of strawberries!

The cruise is a week away and more than the beautiful tropical locals, I’m looking forward to our dinners together. We went on  a family cruise 2 years ago, and dinner together every night was one of the major highlights. That and pure cream in our coffee every night. You know, the important things in life.

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A Week in a Blur(b)

Posted by Erin B.

This week has been a blur of animal poop, dairy desserts, constant interaction with the public, warm weather jubilance, and consistent meals with the fam. A very excellent blur, as blurs go. Last Monday it was lovely and warm so my dad busted out the grill. Tuesday was my little brother’s 12th birthday so we had family friends over for pizza, chocolate coconut cream cake, and loud every-body-picks-their-own tune Happy Birthday song singing. Wednesday we all ate dinner at the Broad Street Café so I could take part in the open mic night they do. Thursday we ate together, but the details of our meal have gotten lost in the blur. Friday I was not in a good mood, and we were having leftovers. Our conversation was sparse and I left early for work. Saturday redeemed us: we had pancakes for dinner, and our conversation was interesting. Dinner felt too short and I left for work late. Pancakes, I’ve decided, are a redemptive thing. Sunday we had a bunch o’ peeps over for dinner (and hey—if you’re reading this, then you’re invited next week. Do come, and stay to watch the Oscars if you wish). Tonight I had to work until 6, and my dad had to leave for the airport by 6:30, so they went to a restaurant right near my work, and I rushed over as soon as I finished and we had a quick but lovely dinner together. We talked about 28 tables and how unexpectedly nice it is to have a set dinner time every day, but also how committing to a set time displaces things like social time and last minute dinner invites.

Outside of dinners with my family, I’ve been more conscious of how meals spent with people are way more satisfying than those spent without. On Sunday I had brunch at Parker and Otis in Durham with good friends, and it was the perfect kind of meal. We had no other agenda, so we ate without hurry, sat outside, and our conversation long outlasted our food. We had many laughs over empty plates and lukewarm coffee. Also: eating a salad in front of a computer for lunch doesn’t seem to change the workday up enough to feel like I actually got a break. It’s kind of my unexpressed goal (well, until now) to do something interesting for my lunches. My lunch hour is a sacred and full of potential, I like to spend it eating on the roof with co-workers, or at a restaurant with co-workers, or geocaching with co-workers, or sitting outside on benches with co-workers, instead of eating in the office or in front of the computer alone.

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Spice is the variety of cooking! Uhm, or something like that.

Posted by Erin B.

Sooooo…I’m totally diggin’ this experimentation. It’s definitely much easier than last month’s, and requires much less sacrifice–though sacrifices aplenty have been made so far, in the form of cutting work hours, missing parties, and getting much less/no time with non-work friends, it’s all for a worthwhile pay-off. Which got me thinking about applications and takeaways, because the hope of an experimentation is that you glean some life lessons over the course of it, and I’m not sure what I’m gonna get. I already know I love hanging out with my family, and while my normal routine has fallen into a place where I hardly ever get to eat dinner with them, I feel like my life is the way it is right now for a good reason and purpose, and therefore am not going to continue cutting my work hours back after February. I’ve also realized how many meals I eat with people as a part of my normal routine. This concept is not one that rocks my world–I’m totally a people person and have long valued the magic of conversations that happen over long meals with good people. Once a week I meet with friends over breakfast to talk about how our weeks went, I rarely eat lunch at work alone, and when dinner isn’t on the fly due to job#2, I am most of the time eating it with somebody (usually a friend) at a table face to face, engaged in conversation–and absolutely with the T.V. off. So I’m not learning the value of conversation over meals, or the concept of People as entertainment (no other forms necessary!).

But I am defintely getting something out of this, even if I can’t put my finger on it quite yet. Every day around 2pm, I start looking forward to dinner. Maybe it’s the comfort of knowing something wonderful is consistently happening at the end of each day, that I’ll get home and the house will be filled with something delicious smelling, and the family will all converge at the same time like our table is a magnet. Part of my dinnertime excitement is enhanced by not asking what we are having. I am a sucker for variety and very much enjoy being surprised. Last night we went out for a celebratory dinner and I purposefully didn’t ask where we were going until I arrived home, and then when we got to the restaurant (Micheal Deans), I did something I’ve always wanted to do. When the waitress came around, I told her to just pick something for me and tell me what it was when it came out (it could be seafood but no other meat). My meal was only so-so, but I’m definitely going to do that more often. Variety is the spice of life, as they say.

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Scenes from the dinner table, and in turn, my life

Posted by Erin B.

Last night like magic the family all converged at 6pm in the kitchen. I had come home from work at 10 ’til, and had just come downstairs from changing when my dad walked in the door. My little brother and sister cleared and set the table while my mom cooked and my dad gave us a visual run through of his workout that day which, if viewed through the window without context, would have looked like a large muscular man doing an interpretive dance. On the stove was one of my favorite soups ever that is a regular at my family’s table, but that I haven’t had in a long time due to my frequent food experimentation and busy schedule. At dinner, among other things, we discussed food and my theories of food being magically delicious. See, I have this theory that if something is magically delicious, not just delicious but a level above delicious, to the point where it is inexplicable, then it contains: cream, butter, and/or fish sauce (I’m debating whether or not cream cheese should be its own category or a sub-category of “cream”). My family agreed with my theory, and we shared anecdotes about when we’ve found this to be true. Dinner lasted about 45 minutes, and I rushed off to job#2 feeling like my day was suddenly well-balanced.

Tonight was the same. We all magically converged in the kitchen at 6. There was no interpretive dancing, but dinner was delicious again and we spent it laughing and talking about our plans for the rest of the week. I find myself really looking forward to dinner during the middle of my day. I haven’t even been asking what my mom is making because I like the surprise, and these days I like just about anything. I’m in it for the company anyway.

After a long full day, I again feel well balanced. A break in between jobs, even just an hour, is strangely rejuvenating. But now I am tired, and I will leave you with quote that my dad just now said, and the disturbing mental image that goes along with it: “I have to go suckle on the teat of sleep.”


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the space we make for Things

Posted by Erin B.

Timing is an interesting thing. Such as: today is the first Tuesday gap day in 28tables (or 24tables, as it were, or possibly 25tables since my little bro’s birthday falls on a Tuesday and we will probably all eat together. But I digress), and I was walking out the door just as my family was waking up, ran into the house to literally change clothes between jobs, grab a banana, and run back out of the house, and arrived back to the house after everyone was in bed after job#2. This is the typical schedule that I’ve been on for the last few months. Some weeks I don’t see my little sister for days even though we sleep in the same room. This would be the case if I lived on my own, so I’m not saying it’s necessarily it’s a big deal, it’s just weird.

Today one of the other supervisors at job#2 got fired for stealing (who DOES that?!?!?!), so lots of holes have appeared in the schedule, ripe for me to fill them. This is great, as I am in a mad work-as-much-as-I-can-and-save-up-all-my-monies craze that will last approximately 2 years. All this is to say that with everything you do comes opportunity cost. Everything displaces something else. This week with both jobs, I’m looking right around 70 hours of work time. Work displaces something. But here is something that it will not be displacing this month: dinner with my family. It’s nice to know that I have an hour set aside every day so that when I run into the house after my job and my little brother and sister start their ritualistic show-and-tell immediately upon my entry, I’ll have time to listen to them (or nod my head and smile, as it sometimes goes).

An opportunity cost model I recommend applying to everything you are thinking about doing:

Thing: 1 hour with my family, sharing a meal
Opportunity: Digestion of food, our day, and life issues. Grounding (I have always looked to my parents for grounding. Though when I was a kid, this meant something entirely different…)
Cost: An hour lost at work.
Assessment: Totally worth it.

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Stir-fry-crazy

Posted by Erin B.

Yesterday, due to SuperBowl events, my family partook of 28Tables lunch style. We had a delightful gathering at Briggs. It was breakfast for lunch that was supposed to be dinner.

Tonight my dad was out of town, so it was just me, my mother, and my little bro and sis. My mom wanted some gym time, so I volunteered to stop by the store after job#2 to pick up some things and make a rock-awesome stir-fry for dinner (I now declare that all adjectives that come before stir-fry must also be hyphenated for effect). When it comes to things like kick-ass stir-fry and pasta sauce (which will surely be making an appearance next time it’s my night to cook), I go a little crazy. I like a lot of things in my food stuffs.

A picture tour of the food preparations:

Dinner break down:

Playlist while cleaning kitchen/making dinner included selections by: Cake, Elvis Costello, Uncle Tupelo, Indigo Girls, Rihanna (you can stand under my um-ber-ella, ey ey ey), Cobie Caillat, Missy Higgins, Amy Ray, Sting, The Refreshments.

Ingredients for crazy-super-yums stir fry included selections of: mushrooms, carrots, red onions, red peppers, baby bok choy, zucchini, squash, green beans, cilantro, pineapple, garlic, noodles, and store-bought stir-fry sauce.

Cost: Surprisingly inexpensive. We had a lot of the ingredients, so the total came to about $11. For feeding 4 people, plus left overs for my dinner tomorrow, that’s pretty dang good (that’s not including the wine my mom picked up on her way home).

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