Tagged! (I Think This Means I Don’t Post Enough)

My good friend Jeff tagged me today to complete one of those “Seven Things You Didn’t Know About Me” memes that inevitably involves the revelation of either completely inappropriate or stunningly worthless knowledge about someone whom, up until reading their seven things, you considered a friend.  And now you just don’t want to make eye contact with them anymore and you certainly don’t want to leave your goats unattended with them nearby.

Jeff managed to keeps his seven things both uncreepy and interesting, so I’ve decided to play along after all and I can only hope that my seven things are equally as undisturbing and amusing.

  1. I’m terrified of dark water.  Even more so when there are bridges involved.  It’s not that I’m afraid of drowning, per se.  I can swim, like, crazy good.  Crazy good.  As a direct albeit subconscious reaction to the whole water fear, perhaps.  I don’t know.  I’m a food blogger, not a psychiatrist.  I could swim before I could walk (Mom, back me up on this!).  I was on swim teams as a kid and varsity swim team in high school.  I was a lifeguard.  I am an awesomely good swimmer.  But I’m batshit terrified of dark water, I think specifically because it represents the unknown and unseen and therefore potentially dangerous and deadly.  I can’t even look at pictures of dark water without having a mini panic attack.  Gah.  Enough.  Let’s discuss something else.
  2. I started reading at 11 months old.  I was a total freak of nature.  My first word was “monkey,” fer Chrissakes.  I could read anything that anyone put in front of me, almost instinctively.  My mother enjoyed showing me off like a tiny, well-educated carnie.  Her favorite things to have me read were newspapers and restaurant menus.  And apparently one her favorite memories of me goes something like this:  When I was two years old, she took me along to lunch with some friends of hers, none of whom knew I could read.  I was sitting in my high chair, minding my bizznazz and looking at the menu.  Her friends assumed that I was just mindlessly staring at it, perhaps trying to decide which corner of the menu to nibble and drool on as most two-year-olds are wont to do.  But after a few minutes of reading over the menu, I scared the bejesus out of everyone when I looked up and asked, “Mom?  What’s chocolate mouse?”  I didn’t know what mousse was; I was two, gimme a break.
  3. I get song lyrics wrong all the time.  I tend to mishear things (primarily because I have really poor hearing, but that’s another story), especially song lyrics.  I’m like that moron who thinks it’s “Scuse me while I kiss this guy” in the Jimi Hendrix song, but my misheard lyrics aren’t nearly as funny.  For example, “Hush, hush, keep it down now, this is scary.”  This is scary?  What?  I mean, “Voices Carry” is the name of the song, for God’s sake!  Or “Mouth to mouth to mouth Virginia, don’t let me wait.”  Yeah.  Not funny at all.  Just lame.
  4. I’m really not that great of a cook.  I can bake better than I cook, and that’s not saying much.  I have these certain things that I do really well and I stick to them, which gives off the illusion that I’m a much better cook than I actually am.  That said, I appreciate all the creativity and effort and skill that truly talented chefs put into their work probably moreso than the average person, because I’ve tried myself for so long to duplicate those things and just end up covered in grease burns, crying.
  5. I’m very, very bad about returning voicemails and emails.  Although if you’re reading this blog, you probably know me well enough to have experienced that yourself from time to time.  Okay, probably all the time.  At least I can say you shouldn’t take it personally, as I do it to everyone.  Voicemails scare the pure violet hell out of me.  I don’t even like to check them.  It’s particularly bad at work.  I have this mental block about it that maybe one day, with lots of expensive therapy, I’ll be able to explain.  For now, all I have to say for myself is that I do return smoke signals.
  6. I will judge you almost exclusively upon your taste in food and music.  And if I think that you have pedestrian and/or closed-minded taste in either area, it will be a long uphill road before we can be friends.  But don’t worry — it’s not you, it’s me.  …No, wait.  It’s you.
  7. I have no idea what I’m doing with my life.  But that’s okay, because I’m willing to bet that 99% of you feel the same way.

I can’t say that any of these were amusing, but it’s a Monday.  Cut me some slack.  But tomorrow — back by popular request — we’ll have Tuesday Trivia once again.  If that doesn’t cheer you up, then I don’t know what will (swift kick in the pants?  ice cream?  Tinkertoys?).

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Been Gone Too Long

I haven’t had time to update she eats. as often as I’d like lately, owing to work (curses!!!) and actual paid writing (although if any of you want to start paying me to blog here, I’m cool with that, too). So just to briefly round things up, this is what I’ve been up to:

Writing articles for the Houston Press, such as “Praise the Lord and Pass the Mimosas” — an account of the inaugural Gospel Brunch at the new House of Blues here in Houston — and “The Grocery Store Corridor” — which is exactly what it sounds like. And although I haven’t quite figured out the settings on my new camera well enough yet to shoot moving things in the dark (i.e., concerts), here are some of the shots I was able to salvage from Gospel Brunch itself:

Concert Hall
The concert hall stage.

Umbrellas
Bringing diners/patrons up at the end of the show.

Testify
Sylvia St. James, emcee .

Bronze Peacock Room
The Bronze Peacock Room in the members-only Foundation Room, marking my second time to weasel my way up there and get free booze.

Buffet

The only picture I could get of the buffet; hungry socialites are like stampeding, enraged water buffalo, I tell ya.

I went to Gospel Brunch with my friend Eric Wilson, the music editor at Houstonist, which I’ve also been writing for as time allows. That said, none of my pieces are pertinent to food in the least (midget wrestling, anyone?). For one that is, check out this article by Jason Bargas on the closing of none other than that bastion of shitty service, The Daily Grind. As I’m sure you can guess, I was heart-broken.

I’ve also been eating this week. A lot. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I finally made it over to Cafe Pita + (read Jenny’s great review with pictures here). It was every bit as wonderful as I’d hoped. On Tuesday, I ate with Jenny, Katie, Hala, and nearly all of the Schipul girls (and poor Lance, who was the only guy at the table). Despite the high concentration of giggliness and silliness at the table, the waitstaff were very patient with us. And the food was amazing. I had the plejskavice, which is a lamb and beef patty stuffed with melted cheese and mushrooms, all on top of this beautiful, fluffy bread with pureed red pepper sauce. I was in heaven. The next day, I dragged Jeff out there and had the cevap, the sausage link version of the plejskavice (sans cheese) and had a fried cheese appetizer in its place. Jeff had the burek, which is essentially spanakopita on steroids and is about as large as a clown shoe.

On Friday, I grabbed lunch at my favorite pho place, Pho Huy, with some coworkers and found out that I should really stop speaking Vietnamese in restaurants when all I really know is “restaurant Vietnamese.” Or, as a friend suggested, at least learn how to say, “I’m going to order in Vietnamese for everyone, but that’s really all I know how to say.” In Vietnamese. I think it would solve a lot of problems. Friday night found me at Goode Co. Seafood with Groovehouse, as we sat at the bar and devoured the best campechana in Houston (seriously. I don’t say this lightly.). We watched enraptured for hours as a little old man behind the counter shucked oyster after oyster, placing them temptingly on platters of crushed ice and lemons. Next time…

There’s been more eating, of course. And even more pictures. And news, news, news. But for tonight, I’ve got to finish writing articles and paying invoices (two entirely separate work functions, mind you). So I’ll leave you with this photo from the market where I picked up some excellent, cheap produce this morning:

Favor de no mayugarlos
Produce stands behind Canino’s on Airline.

Good night, all!

Is There a Businesswoman’s Special?

If you’re either (a) my friend Jessie or (b) a fan of Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, you’ll get the title.  If you’re neither, then I’m sorry, but we really need to reevaluate our friendship.  I can’t be friends with anyone who hasn’t watched Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (or Clueless… or Super Troopers… or Army of Darkness).  I’m sorry; that’s just the way I roll.

I apologize up front from the rambling and unfoodlike nature of this blog post.  I’m a bit punchdrunk off work right now, as it’s been all-consuming lately.  That’s not to say I haven’t been eating.  Just yesterday, I had four packets of Sweet Tarts for breakfast.  And last night for dinner?  Twelve Oreo cookies and a Saint Arnold’s Winter Stout.  So don’t come crying to me about my high-falutin’ food writing and how you don’t want to invite me over for dinner because I’ve got such “fancy” taste.  This is a woman who eats cookie dough straight out of the tube.  WITHOUT A SPOON.

I’d like to relate two utterly random yet hilarious stories from work this past week, and then I’m going to get back to work and NOT WRITING because that’s what I really love to do.

  1. A vendor called seeking their bajillion* dollar payment that’s late this month.  I’ve been super busy and therefore forgetful (and I’m incredibly forgetful on a normal day, so…yeah) and I realized with a fright that I hadn’t paid them.  Panicking, I promised them that I was getting the check out the door that day.  They wanted to know the check amount, check date and — oops! — the check number.  I say oops! because I flat-out lied.  There was no way I was going to be able to get that check out the door that day.

    Panicking even more now because I don’t have a check number to provide them, I decide to dig myself even deeper (that always solves things, right?).  Because I’m nothing if not abjectly deceitful in the face of danger, I pulled a check number completely out of my ass.  Made it up out of thin air.  What are they going to do?  Look it up?  Compare it against the eventual check they do receive?  Who cares?  I just needed to buy some time.

    Today, when I ran down to accounting to pick up the check and FedEx overnight it to the vendor, I looked at the check number out of idle curiosity.  It seemed oddly familiar.  I took it up to my desk to log it in before sending it and — again, just for grins — compared it to the check number I’d emailed to the vendor the day before.  IT WAS ONE DIGIT OFF.  ONE DIGIT.  OUT OF EIGHT.  I am suddenly terrified of myself and thinking that perhaps I do have a superpower after all, albeit an incredibly useless one.

    *More like bahundred, so suck it, unnamed vendor in California.

  2. A few weeks ago, my coworker received a Christmas gift from his old boss.  He thought that it was kind of odd, since they never really got along, but thoughtful.  My coworker fell sick over Christmas, however, and completely forgot about the gift (which was sitting in his office, unopened).  Yesterday as he was cleaning his desk, he came across the present and excitedly unwrapped it.  It was a Denver Broncos desk calendar.

    “Wasn’t that nice of him?” the coworker asked me.  “He remembered that I’m a Broncos fan!”

    “Yes,”  I agreed.  “Very nice.  And yet very unusual of him to remember something like that or to get you a gift.”

    Later that afternoon, my coworker came back by my office, desk calendar in hand.  “K, did you notice anything strange about this calendar earlier?” he asked with a look of pure glee on his face.

    “No, why?”

    “Look closely.””I don’t see anyth…ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh…shit.  Are you kidding me?  Is this a joke?”

    The desk calendar?  Was from 2001.  For those of you listening at home, that’s eight years old.  He got an EIGHT YEAR OLD CALENDAR as a Christmas present.

    “Where did he get this?  A freaking time machine?  Has he had this sitting in his coat closet for the past eight years or something?  Does he not realize that calendars aren’t good from year-to-year?  That the days change?”  We sat and puzzled happily over the many potential situations in which the ex-boss thought this would make a good gift.  Feel free to leave your own suggestions below.

Okay, that’s it for today.  Check back next week when I’ll have stripped naked except for ribbons of Scotch tape tangled in my hair and Sharpie tattoos decorating my arms and will be running around the office throwing chairs out windows like Margot Kidder until building security Tases me.

An Explosion of Words

Unfortunately, I’m not having an explosion of words this week, as things have been head-poundingly busy at work.  Instead, I have a much more literal explosion of words for you:

wordle1

 

This Wordle takes the most commonly-used words here on she eats. and creates a nifty little graphic out of them. Fun, huh? Make your own here: Wordle. You can even change the colors, the layout and the font.

Wordle-fun courtesy of Jeff Balke, who coincidentally has a great blog post today on sea kittens. Trust me; you should read it.

Hitch Link Cop, On Ones and Nine Millis

A short but informative link roundup from the past few days…enjoy!

First, my own links, cause I’m big pimpin’:

  • Tweating Out:  A post at the Houston Press on the newest Twitter trend…food meetups with [almost] total strangers!
  • Green Eggs at Baby Barnaby’s:  Another Press post about my adventures at the notorious Montrose breakfast spot with my Meemo.
  • Baba Ghanoush at Cafe Rita:  Because my eternal quest for the world’s best baba ghanoush has ended.

Now for other, more entertaining links:

  • New @ Rainbow Lodge:  Jenny’s review of the new items offered up by Randy Rucker at Rainbow Lodge.  Notable primarily for the lush photography as much as for the ninth comment (a must read, as is Jenny’s response).
  • The Year in Burgers:  Alison Cook’s roundup of her favorite burgers of 2008, also notable for its insane comments section (which at last count had spiraled to 125 comments, primarily from people who need to attend the Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too)
  • Give Me Some Hot Wings, Hold the Buttocks:  Jeff’s take on the amusing “employee handbook” at no one’s favorite wing place, Hooters.
  • Handicapping the Best of Houston Picks:  Misha doing what he does best…deconstructing and carefully evaluating what others tend to take as gospel.
  • Wine Cork Trivet in Progress:  The endlessly creative Mellowynk recycles her old wine corks in a unique way that I would never have thought of.
  • Robb’s Oyster Book:  Robb Walsh’s new book — Sex, Death and Oysters — has finally hit the shelves.  He’ll be cruising bookstores and signing selected copies of the book incognito, so be on the lookout for a man with a fountain pen, smelling of oysters (and hopefully not sex or death).

That’s it, folks.  I’m off for a mug of jasmine green tea and a comfy couch.  See you on the other side!

WINNAR!

(yes, Mom, I intentionally misspelled “winner”)

As we begin a new year with new meals to eat and new recipes to conquer, I’d like to take a moment to thank two of my awesome readers (and friends!) who gave me end-of-year awards for this silly little food blog.

Where’s My Damn Answer?

Jody, a.k.a. jodycakes, is a longtime reader and fellow Chowhound. She and the hilarious women who run the communal blog Where’s My Damn Answer have given she eats. the illustrious “Damn Good Blog Award.”

damngoodblogaward

I was humbled to be included alongside such other winners as The Bloggess and Attack of the Redneck Mommy. You should also note that my occasional partner in crime, the awesome Jenny of I’m Never Full won an award, too. Thanks, ladies!

I’ve Got the Munchies

Cory, a.k.a. Lose An Eye, is an even longer-time (I just made that word up) reader, who knew me long before I had a food blog and was instead rambling incoherently and starting flame wars on Houston political blogs and bulletin boards. And yet he still follows me to this day…

Over on his food blog, I’ve Got the Munchies (not to be confused with his politics blog: Lose an Eye, It’s a Sport) Cory flattered me immensely (I think he wants some chess pie…) when he named me Houston Food Blogger of the Year:

Houston Food Blogger of the Year: Katharine Shilcutt of She Eats, Houstonist and Eating our Words: Houston Press.

You could make a case that Katharine has written more about food in Houston over the past year than many of the professionals who do so for a living. She’s also a more gifted writer than I, her reviews are detailed and fun to read.

Aw. Okay, Cory. I’ll bake you a pie.

I was very shocked that Cory would choose me out of all the other amazing food bloggers that we have in Houston, but delighted nevertheless. Make sure you check the rest of the Munchie Award winners out, too. It’s a good encapsulation of the Houston food scene, blogger-style.

These awards might seem silly in the sense that it could be perceived as one big circle-jerk (highlight to read, but not if you’re my mother, grandmother, father or any other delicate person), but it means a lot to me that my readers have stuck with me through she eats.‘s inaugural year as I find my feet and my voice, and moreso that they’ve followed me across multiple platforms (Houstonist and now the Houston Press). If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: y’all rock, and I’m blessed to have ya.

Here’s to a great 2009 and many fine meals to come!

Goin’ Down the Country

Cows
Cows.

Back from a brief jaunt to deep East Texas this weekend for a family funeral.  Among the sights we saw along Highway 59 and into the Piney Woods were:

  • The oldest Dairy Queen in Texas, established in 1951.  I got a Dr Pepper and a Hungr-Bustr, but was so hungry that I forgot to get a picture of either the Dairy Queen or the burger.  WHICH WAS DELICIOUS.  Anyway, that Dairy Queen is in Henderson if any of you crazy kids want to go check it out one day.
  • A family of three riding on an ATV — dad driving, mom holding on to him, and a little girl clinging to her — on their way through JD’s Drive-Thru Liquor Barn somewhere outside of Lufkin.
  • Catfish King, which was my favorite restaurant as a child.  If they had Catfish Kings in Houston, I don’t remember them.  They seem to be primarily in the small towns of East and North Texas, which is a shame since they have the best fried catfish and best hushpuppies you’ll probably never eat.

 
Early Evening
Ann and Bobby’s place.

After the funeral, we retreated to my cousins Ann and Bobby’s ranch outside of Tatum and tore into some brisket, baked beans, green beans and banana pudding, all lovingly prepared by my cousins Rob and Lacy, who own a catering company.  Hey, if the reason for the visit isn’t good, at least the food should be, right?

Main Street, Henderson
Henderson, Texas.

Glad to be back in Houston, but I can’t wait to get back up to East Texas again — for a different occasion, and perhaps with a bit more time — and concentrate on the food and the scenery.