Last Night's Dinner and a Movie


Spying on the Neighbors

I unfortunately look more like Jimmy Stewart than Grace Kelly when I do my spying
This story has nothing to do with food. It's just so nuts that I had to share it.

Eugene's alarm wakes us up most mornings at 7AM. He usually gets up and starts getting ready, while I roll over into the middle of the bed and keep on sleeping. It's not until he kisses me good-bye, just before 8AM, that I usually start my day. But this morning was a bit different.

This morning, it wasn't the alarm that pulled me out of bed, but rather the banging in the hallway and shouts of "OPEN UP! FBI!"


I shot up in bed, confused and wondering if I'd dreamed it, but then it happened again. The banging, then "OPEN UP! THIS IS THE FBI! OPEN THE DOOR!" I checked the clock and it was about 6AM.

Eugene was fast asleep next to me, not even stirring. I realized that the banging was on the neighbor's door, not mine, and I crept up to the door slowly to try to listen. I initially assumed it must be the sketchy neighbor two doors down (the one who just got back from a stay in prison for drug-related infractions), but to my surprise, it was actually the apartment immediately next door. The apartment occupied by a very sweet, middle-aged Mennonite Christian lady.

Mennonites. Please keep this image in mind throughout the rest of the story.

I heard the door open and there was a trample of feet, I'm assuming as the agents stormed into her apartment. The woman was crying and confused. I heard her say, "What's going on? Please I'm in my underwear. What is going on?"

At this point I had my eye in the peephole, trying to see what was going on [I'm SUCH a nosy neighbor.] The hallway was filled with about 8 or 9 FBI agents in big thick navy flak jackets emblazoned with the FBI logo in gold lettering and carrying serious guns and radios.

9 FBI agents and one very terrified Mennonite lady.

The FBI agent started asking her if anyone else was in the apartment and showing her pictures of some men, asking if they were there. The woman kept crying saying, "I don't know who these people are. It's just me, here. I'm a Mennonite Christian and I was just getting ready for work."

They asked her if she'd seen any of the men in the building, and she replied that she didn't really talk to many people in the building. [Which is true--I've only spoken to her twice since she moved in; once at the tree-trimming party, and once when she asked me to come help her with her circuit box because she is AND I QUOTE "not used to electricity."]

I think at this point the FBI agents started to realize their serious mistake. They were pacing up and down the hall, saying things on their radio. The woman was shaking and explained that she'd bought the apartment in foreclosure about a year ago, and the agents asked her who the previous owner was, but she was too nervous to remember. She just kept saying "It was an Asian name, some kind of Asian name."

The FBI agent started apologizing very sincerely, then the door shut, and they headed down the hall, saying something on their radios. One of them said that they would have to "ask Dave."

I have no idea who Dave is, but I think he's in trouble.

Once the agents were gone, I ran back into the bedroom and was amazed that Eugene was still fast asleep (Seriously?!?). I woke him up and told him the story, feeling incredibly wired and excited, and we spent some time speculating about whether the lady's Mennonite thing was really just an elaborate cover for some kind of nefarious activities.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Pancakes

I've been working on putting together a resume for a special project that I'm trying out for, and I admit I've been hating the process all the way through. It's one of those tasks that just does not seem to jive with my brain, and I really wish I could just throw all my experience and hobbies and accomplishments and skills into a big sack and pass them on to someone a bit more left-brained to deal with and return to me on paper.

The frustrating thing is that, up until this time last year, I could whip up a resume with no trouble. But that was back when my career path was a touch more straightforward. Now I joke that my current occupation is "slasher," because I'm a food writer/blogger/cooking teacher/entrepreneur/on camera host/event planner/recipe developer/caterer etc. It's awesome and I love it, but I wish I didn't have to express it all on one neat sheet of paper.

As one of those slashes, I've worked with an awesome company called Peanut Butter & Co. to create recipes for their website featuring their peanut butter (which I loved and bought long before they hired me). I did this last year, creating recipes like phyllo-wrapped shrimp and this maple peanut butter challah bread.

This year, they came to me and asked if I would like to be part of a contest they were running in conjunction with Bob's Red Mill--yet another brand that I'm a little bit obsessed with and purchase regularly. The idea was to create a breakfast recipe combining peanut butter and oats into one delicious dish.  I would be competing against five other bloggers for a prize of $1000, and the winner would be determined by readers (like you!) who vote for their favorite.

For my recipe, I created Peanut Butter Oatmeal Pancakes using Peanut Butter & Co.'s Old Fashioned Smooth peanut butter (my favorite as the only ingredients are peanuts & salt) and Bob's Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats. That's the pancakes in the photo up there, and can I just say that they are AMAZING! Eugene, who is pancake obsessed, ate about 11 "test" pancakes in one sitting. I have no idea why that man is not very, very fat.

UPDATE: I won! Thank you all for your votes and support. My recipe came in first place.

At the very least, do pop on over there so you can check out and download the yummy recipes created by the other ridiculously talented bloggers including including Eat the Love, An Edible Mosaic, So Good and Tasty, Lemons and Lavender and Thyme in our Kitchen.

Thanks so much, you guys! I really appreciate it!



Peanut Butter Oatmeal Pancakes 

1 cup rolled oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill® Extra Thick)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons granulate sugar
2 teaspoons peanut oil (from the top of the peanut butter in the jar)
1/4 cup peanut butter (I used Peanut Butter & Co. Old Fashioned Smooth)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled for brushing on skillet

Butter and warm real maple syrup, for serving (optional)

In a food processor or spice grinder, pulse the rolled oats until coarsely ground and flour-like. Combine the ground oats in a large bowl with the whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and granulated sugar. Whisk together to evenly distribute.

In a separate bowl, use a fork to combine the peanut oil (taken from the layer that separates off the peanut butter) and the 1/4 cup of peanut butter, using the back of the fork to break it down.

Add the two eggs and vanilla extract, and continue to whisk until a smooth paste forms. Add the egg and peanut butter mixture to the dry ingredients, and pour in the buttermilk.

Use a spatula to gently mix the wet and dry ingredients just until everything is combined. Use a gentle hand and know that the remaining batter will still have a few lumps, which is desired.

Preheat a griddle to 375ºF or heat a cast iron or other heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat. Brush your griddle with some of the melted butter and pour the batter 1/4 cup at a time, making sure to keep pancakes about 2 inches apart.

Cook about one to two minutes, or until small bubble start to form and the edges appear set and dry. Flip, and use a spatula to tuck in any batter that escapes along the sides. Let cook for an additional minute or two before removing to a serving platter.

Repeat with the rest of the batter. Serve topped with additional pats of butter and warm maple syrup.


Next NYC Cooking Class: Cook Once & Feast All Week

This one-day workshop will change your cooking life! Learn how to prepare a week's worth of healthy and delicious dinners (plus a few quick grab-and-go lunch and breakfasts...and dessert!) in just a few hours of weekly cooking. You'll learn a selection of basic recipes, along with easy variations and "remix" suggestions that will help you turn those recipes into delicious dinners throughout the week, no matter how late you get home from work!

You'll go home with a booklet of the recipes you learned in class, along with storage-and-reheating instructions so you can enjoy an incredible home-cooked dinner every single night of the workweek.
The class menu will feature:
Kale, Chorizo, and Black Bean Soup
Mini Meatloaves
Oven-Braised Lemon and Roasted Garlic Chicken Breasts
Waldorf Chicken Salad
Spicy Beef Burritos
Golden Herbed Quinoa Salad with Dried Fruit & Nuts
DIY Handshake Vinaigrette 3-Ways
Chewy Cranberry Nut Granola Bars
Espresso Chocolate Pots de Creme


Behind the Scenes

I've spent much of the past 2 weeks writing and testing recipes for a couple assignments. I can't share much about them until the stories come out, but thought I'd share a few "behind the scenes" snapshots I took throughout the process.

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