Parking Wars

I’m all for Pittsburgh being the Hollywood of the East, but not when it interferes with me getting to volleyball. Trying to park Downtown has become a hot mess these days, what with entire blocks cordoned off for the film production crews. This particular scene is directly in front of where I play volleyball on Tuesdays, and they’ve just shut down an entire side of the road like it’s no big deal. Also, what’s up with the creepy clown on the top of the trailer? It was animated, but obviously you can’t tell that from the picture.

So am I hypocritical? Yeah, probably. But all I’m saying is, Vin Diesel and Sir Michael Caine, you owe me one. (I accept hugs, Alfred Pennyworth.)

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Perfect Fit

I’m dreading the impending doom and gloom of winter so much (already!) that I’ve been trying to do ALL of the things outside while the weather is still relatively nice. Today, “all of the things” included my workout, as I went for a nice long run around the North Shore. (<– I know! Who am I anymore?)

My jaunt took me through Downtown, over the Warhol Bridge, along the river past the throngs of Steelers fans, past the Casino, and nearly into the tent of a homeless person before I turned around and went back. As I was crossing over the Clemente Bridge to get back into Downtown, I had one of those really serene moments where I looked around and remembered how much I love this city. For a brief moment, it felt like I was in exactly the right place for where I am in my life. Deep thoughts for an afternoon workout, right? But really, it seems like every time I cross a bridge going into Downtown, I’m struck by the same feeling.

Whether it’s the result of fate, or maybe just some confused endorphins, right now, Pittsburgh feels like a perfect fit for me.

Don’t worry, I’ll probably change my tune once the snow starts flying. :)

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What’s Your Flava?

Today’s eats just absolutely killed it. Like, they made up for the entire rest of the sick/tired/working weekend.

First, the BF and I headed out for brunch at Union Pig & Chicken. I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks, and with doctor’s appointments and bloodwork and yadda yadda yadda, it just didn’t happen. But we finally managed to get there today, and I’m so glad we did.

As I’d planned, I ordered the chicken & waffles. The BF, however, strayed from the expected and got the steak & eggs. One of us was super-happy with their meal (ahem… the one with a blog). The other was… underwhelmed.

The chicken & waffles plate was glorious. A light, fluffy waffle (not heavy at all) was topped with a fried chicken breast and leg and served with a hefty side of mac & cheese and a side of greens. I ended up eating all of the waffle, part of the chicken, and only a bite or two of the mac & cheese and the greens; it was a pretty hefty brunch. Thank goodness for takeout containers.

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The steak & eggs… well, it was much smaller. Two small pieces of something vaguely resembling steak posed on a bed of pale homefries, and the eggs sat alongside. No word on how his meal tasted (though, I can’t imagine it was bad), but it was much smaller than we both expected. I ended up giving the BF most of my chicken leg and a bunch of the skin from the chicken breast to try to compensate (brunch survivor’s guilt).

Thanks to my ginormous brunch, I wasn’t hungry again until dinner. The BF had a hot date with another woman (his mom), so I was on my own. I decided to head to Lotus in the Strip and got some ingredients with which I could experiment. I knew I wanted Asian-inspired noodles, but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them.

I loaded up on fish sauce, tamarinds, bok choy, fresh Shanghai noodles, and fresh tofu. I never realized how cheap the homemade tofu is at Lotus until today – wow! When I got home, I started crafting some semblance of a dinner.

While the water for the noodles came to a boil, I heated up a heaping tsp of minced garlic in a sesame oil/canola oil mixture. Once the garlic started to brown, I added the tofu, the bok choy, almost an entire bag of TJ’s broccoli slaw, an entire bunch of chopped green onions, and some chives from the back yard. After everything cooked down for a few minutes, I added a drizzle of rice wine vinegar and then got to work on the tamarind sauce.

I put about 1/3 of the package of tamarinds from Lotus in the NutriBullet with about 1/2 c lime juice, 1/4-1/2 c fish sauce, and about a tsp of brown sugar. I added a bit of water since it was so thick, and then some Thai garlic chili paste for some extra flavor. After a few seconds, I had a very unappetizing-looking, yet very tasty sauce. I drained my noodles after they’d bathed for a few minutes in boiling water, and then dumped them in the skillet with the veggies. I added the sauce and then stirred everything up until all of the ingredients were lightly coated in the sauce.

I wish I’d written down the amount of fish sauce and lime juice I used, but I really just winged it. The result, though, was pretty spectacular – especially for something that came out of my kitchen. This dish has so much flavor; it tastes like it came from a restaurant where people actually know what they’re doing with the ingredients. The tamarind added a nice complexity to the sauce that I haven’t noticed in many other dishes; especially not in any dishes I’ve made. The only thing that wasn’t so awesome was the bok choy – I should have added it closer to the end. As it was, it cooked down a bit too much for my liking. Otherwise, though, I’m pretty darn pleased with myself for creating this dinner. I even made it look almost-pretty with some black sesame seeds (which, of course, spilled all over my kitchen floor) and some fresh mint. Boom.

So between my salty-sweet-crunchy-juicy brunch and my exotic-savory-sweet dinner, I feel like I’ve been around the world in flavors.  Not a bad way to end a weekend. :)

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Couch Potato

I spent my morning and early afternoon bundled up under ALL the covers on the couch. I actually had to leave my on-site meeting a little early yesterday because I was going to either pass out or vomit; the same feeling kind of stayed with me through today. I ended up watching Night of the Living Dead for the first time (OMG, I would have shot Barbara within the first 5 minutes… but how cool to see Butler and surrounding areas so prominently represented!) and catching up on blogs. Eventually, though, I had to get off my butt and head to work.

Let me just say, it was not worth it today. Some days it absolutely is… but today, not so much.

On the plus side, the BF and I have plans for brunch tomorrow, so at least I have something to look forward to. :)

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Corporate Takeover

I got to spend a good part of my day at someone else’s office today, which is always a nice Friday treat. Some coworkers and I went out on an on-site visit to one of our local customers and we commandeered their office and their time for the afternoon. But before that, we took them out to lunch at a nearby hibachi grill. Believe it or not, for maybe the first time in my entire life, I actually got the least amount of food. I went with the maki rolls lunch special – 1 eel & avocado maki, 1 shrimp & cucumber maki, a teensy bowl of miso soup, and a teensy salad with the most delicious dressing in the entire world (that seems to be readily available at every single Japanese restaurant in the world, but never on grocery store shelves).

The other folks in my group loaded up – some people got udon noodle soup that came in bowls larger than all of our heads combined (for reals) + shrimp + tempura vegetables, and someone else got the chicken and shrimp combo dinner with all the fixins. I finished my meal a good 20 minutes before everyone else, and then I was stuck watching them eat and wishing I’d ordered more.

But never fear, cause there were cookies waiting for us back in their office. Cookies and coffee and lots of productive work. So productive, in fact, that we’re going to be making this a habit – we’re heading there again next week. As far as Fridays go, this was a pretty good way to spend one. :)

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Nacho Best Choice

I had to stop by the Co-Op before heading to volleyball tonight, and since I was asked to sub in for two teams, I figured I deserved a little treat. These kale chips caught my eye, not really so much because they sounded amazing, but because they were on sale for almost half off. I’m cheap like that.

So I bought them and ate a couple chips on my way to the rec center. After I’d pulled into the parking lot, I did a quick teeth check in the mirror. Good thing, too – kale chips were all up in my grill. Not only that, but the “nacho” flavor was stuck in my mouth and driving me a little crazy. There was a lot of swishing with water, followed by a stick of gum to try to get rid of both the actual kale leaves and the taste.

I really should have splurged on something more substantial, though. Granted, I only managed to eat a few chips, which probably amounted to about a quarter of a serving, so it’s really my own fault that I was feeling lightheaded between games. But yeah, I definitely could have handled something more; the kale chips were not my best choice of pre-game fuel. Especially not with two games. Yikes.

But I made it back home in one piece, so I guess I’ll live another day and be able to eat more kale. :)

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