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Posted by aleta under bildungsroman, the comfort foodie

I started my first professional job three days after turning 22, a little naive, a little rough around the edges, not even technically having even graduated college, so the professional workplace was, well, like going to high school again: everyone else seemed to know exactly what to do except for me, and I always felt like I was missing something, but nobody could really explain it to me.

Every morning, coworkers arrived just before 8:30, all with that one accessory, the must-have, the cannot-get-to-work-without (kinda) . . . a cup of coffee. I didn’t get it, this was like, American Eagle cable sweaters all over again, except instead of every girl having “her color,” everybody had their order, to a tee, and always had a store or even specific location of preference.

Sarah had a medium Dunkies. Amanda had something that smelled froofy from one of those drive-through parking lot shacks. Inexplicably, someone would show up with Starbucks they picked up on their way to work in suburban, nearly rural New Hampshire. Michael and Ken hated the place downstairs and would actually walk across to the Cumbie’s for gas station coffee.

I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand the orders, why the gal I was carpooling with would stop on our way to work, even though it would be cutting it close, what the physical size difference was between a 20oz and a 32oz. I could never estimate a price on an order, and I had to read a menu for like 20 minutes to figure out what I wanted, had no idea why everybody loved Starbucks. All in all it was embarrassing. “Eh, I just don’t like coffee, I guess,” I would tell people. Shrug. Maybe order an iced chai. Save myself the anxiety and weird brand of social awkwardness that belongs to smokers and people who don’t drink alcohol.

So I’m really only four years past that now, but at some point along the way . . . it changed. And I only recently realized that there is this world I’ve created for myself. A routine, ritual, comfort, almost a vice, but kinda not really, a way to remind myself it’s a new day.

In this new world, I have to work a visit to Dunkin’s into the first half hour of driving ANYWHERE. And I know the closest in all four directions, including contingency Dunkin’ Donutses if the first had a burnt batch. I know the difference in price from store to store ($2.61 here, $2.72 there…). I have a favorite Dunkies, but at my second choice, the guy at the drive through window calls me “sweetie” and always says “see you tomorow!”

I can tell when the drive-through line will be faster than walking in, and with a glance tell you if my coffee needs more milk or they errantly put in skim. I’m an expert, but it’s so narrow a science that nobody could possibly care. The whole rigamarole is completely rote, and yet so little effort just makes my day before it’s even really taken off.

“Can I get a large iced hazelnut, extra milk, 5 splenda? That’ll be all!”

I’ve said that easily 360 times over the last year, if not more. I think I’m close to the perfect ordering process: size; iced/hot; flavor; milk content; sugar content. That particular order seems to meet the most success.

So if I’m ever late to meet up with you and arrive, iced coffee in hand, please don’t think I was dallying; that’s like showing up with a coat on, you wouldn’t fault me for being late because I stopped to put on a coat, now would you?

Besides, you understand.

I’m a coffee person now.


Since it’s that season, Dano, Patrick & I all moseyed on down to the ice cream stand one recent Friday evening. We arrived and there were families, a demographic with whom I have little interaction, so it’s always a little weird as I have not been routinely around children since, say, I was a child.

As we waited in line, a toddler was playing with a toy ambulance that zipped along and made this awful tinny shrieky ambulance noise. And his parents, god bless them, were so patient, letting him make his way from the window to the picnic tables, one foot at a time, one shrieky noise at a time. And I laughed at each irritating step of the way, not because it was endearing, but rather, if I failed to put the situation in the space of bemused tachment, I might have slapped that goddamn thing out of his fucking hand.

After procuring a sundae and a bench upon which to enjoy it, I continued judging local families like the asshole I truly am. Some kids showed up and began jumping off of this rough 4′ cement wall, which is no skin off my back, except these terribly negative Mom Ideas kept popping into my head. Like “that kid is totally going to slam the front of his teeth into that wall,” “that girl is going to jump on top of that other girl’s ice cream cup, breaking her hand in the process, and there will be a *Scene*,” and “we should probably get the hell out of here before the traffic picks up, i.e. an ambulance is blocking the exit.” These appraisals were hardly from a caring place, oh no, to the contrary, they had more to do with the annoyance that any one of these tragedies might cause for myself and my party, which makes me a bad person, but whatever, I never claimed to be otherwise. Meanwhile, Shrieky Ambulance Kid is about 20 yards away ignoring his ice cream and inducing awkwardly manic giggling through clenched teeth on my part.

I would have been concerned about parents noticing my obviously shitty attitude toward these kids, except that some hipster rolled in wearing a shirt that said something with the word FUCK in it, so they were all busy gasping and pointing it out to their significant others rather than watching their own kids.

wwwWWWWWAAAAAAaaaaahhhhh*Shrieky Ambulance*wwwWWWWWAAAAAAaaaaahhhhh

Just keeping you in the moment, there.

Upon the visit’s conclusion, I pulled out of the parking lot and noticed a guy sitting in a gold Corvette who I can only assume is a pedo because a) he drives a gold Corvette, b) he was eating his ice cream cone alone in his car, but most importantly c) he craned his neck to watch a van full of children being trucked off to the next amusement, licking his ice cream (presumably) longingly as they departed. Alternately, I suppose he could really be regretting how his mullet has held him back from having someone to make children with all these years, or stalking his ex and the son he has no legal rights to see, but the gold Corvette makes a strong statement in favor of my original evaluation.

And that, right there, was the icing on the cake, that cake being “If, for whatever reason, we are unable to have children, I’m pretty sure I can live with that with minimal irritation.” At least that way I won’t be tempted to actively destroy the psyche of some progeny who just wants to play while waiting for his ice cream. And as a bonus, I will never have to worry about pedophiles fucking with my chi.


I sent this list to the grocery store with a really helpful dude and this is how he wrote it down.

1 per milk gallon
frosted mini wheat big bite
ham slices not from deli organic
cinnamon rolls tube low fat nonnegotiable
whole bean whatever-creme 1/2 lbs
fat free 1/2 & 1/2 pint
bananas green tips (4)
danish brie or lowfat
munster cheese
pretty pears (2)
pretzel crisps not ritz brand
cheese for omelet from next to deli

Okay, no cues from me, but what would you be making with this list for brunch, late night or dinner party? Remember all the stuff you already have at home like flour, sugar, cottage cheese (or any dairy for that matter), tortilla chips, salsa, oatmeal, freezer-burned bacon (like really unsalvageable, really), and never forget to have a midnight snack like a cheese and grape platter, or if you’re earlier eaters, about 4 hours past dinner, provided guests are still present.

My cooking as of late has been largely experimental and I follow more traditional patterns of entertaining, like always having half of a bottle of wine in the fridge for when guests first arrive, or after grating the cheese, serving the remainder with crackers about halfway through preparation of the main course. Making a non-meat dish as an alternative to any meats served on Fridays during Lent (cream of tomato soup saved me that first night!). Not everything has to be from scratch, and it’s been a priority to serve more than a casserole.

Share your menu. Bonus points if you take this list to the store and include photos of the results.


Q: What happens when you instruct your dental hygienist little sister and an Army trained cook to figure out how to make a ravioli casserole?


Nothing like a ravioli casserole on a saturday night.


Nothing like a ravioli casserole on a saturday night.


Nothing like a ravioli casserole on a saturday night.



Was totally going to post all the pictures I got of the Recipe Round-Robin tastetests, and then I published before I remembered that I was going to do that. So uh, whoops.

In order to save myself some work, though, I made an Omnomicon Flickr pool for RRR pictures and also if you happen to maybe try one of my recipes . . . I’d love to see how they come out for you! Will also help me diagnose problems if you’re not sure why it didn’t come out (it comes up not infrequently).

Here are some of the wicked sweet photos fellow Omnometrists had to share. I’m seriously impressed! Click to see bigger photos, and feel free to add your Omnomicon-related photos to the pool!

carey - pink.pcakes.2miriam - pink pancakes3tyler - Harvest Wheat Pancakeskelsey - PinkPancakes-Pancakekelsey - MrsNelsons-Pancaketyler - Dad's Buttermilk Wheat Pancakeshailey - harvest pancakeskeri - griddle pancakes 1
janice - pouring harvest pancakes



Posted by aleta under an aside

I have my own new chat abbreviation, formally dedicated to all participating in the rrr: ssf, “sorry so flaky.” I was *supposed* to distribute recipes Friday, and I was *planning* on following through, but then everyotherfuckingthing impeded that, so my apologies.

Short story:

Everyone’s in.
You have asap to still submit a recipe.
I will send out recipes this week.
You’ll have the upcoming weekend and the one to follow to give a shot at ’em.

I like to think my flakiness is one of my charms, buuuut I’m fairly certain that is not the case. *winkyface*


free advice: don’t buy this thing

Posted by aleta under an aside

On one of my thrifting excursions, I happened upon this bad lawrence for $3.

don't fall for it...

Taken in by its chrome plated iron glory, I was all like “That thing is majorly diesel! Totally made to last forever! I could really *use* this!” And snapped it up, so happy with my excellent find.

I got home, clamped it onto the old kitchen table.

don't fall for it...

Then I ground some meat in it.

Little bits of grey meat kept making its way into the mix. At first, I figured it was something to do with the meat, and picked it out. Upon closer inspection, it would appear that the metal through which the meat is extruded is not iron, has corroded over time, and was grinding itty bitty pieces of metal into my meat. I’m not sure if that’s a major health problem or whatever, but at the very least the idea of gritty metal between my masticating molars is extremely unpleasant.

Consider this an official Omnomicon PSA, brought to you by Aleta Meadowlark and associates.


Results are in: we have some well-equipped kitchens! I asked readers about their favourite underappreciated kitchen tools and got these results.

Good, solid knives (37%)
Some had brand, others noted the complete genericness of their knives…all in all, having a knife you love makes the kitchen a better place! My all-time favourite was my very first: a meat cleaver I picked up at a yardsale and used for everything from meat (as intended) to cutting onions to mincing garlic.

Mixing bowls (27%)
Nesting, vintage, really big, everyone loves a good mixing bowl.

Prep bowls (27%)
Including ramekins. Mine came from a restaurant I worked at for awhile. We ordered tiramisu from a vendor that came in this perfect glass cups (1 c each) and had no use for them after dessert was done. I managed to nab a good dozen and I *still* run out from time to time.

Silicone Spatula (23%)
Nuff said. I’ve been using one for tomato sauces lately to keep my nonstick all nice.

Microplane (23%)
The one item I originally listed that made it on the list!

Narrow misses were wooden spoons, cutting boards of various sizes and materials (it would seem that cooks tend toward specific formats), whisks of varying description and garlic press (natch).

Ideas that I LOVE included a gold filter in place of cheesecloth, chopsticks (which I so totally use to clean out my garlic press, mix drinks and test cakes for doneness), fondant rolling pin, which might fix my notorious inability to operate a regular one, kitchen shears, and a husband to do the dishes, which I totally put on my registry. ๐Ÿ˜‰

There was also a comment about the uselessness of mandolines, and ho boy, do I have one of my famous opinions on that topic. The first time I had my now-Matron-of-Honour over for dinner, I was in a total tizzy getting everything together and 1 hour before her arrival pulled out my new mandoline to slice up some red onion for the salad. I saw the little handguard and was like “psh, this thing is stupid, they totally put them in here for chumps so they can’t sue the company” and set it aside.

I think you know where this is going.

I earned myself a very permament 1/2″ x 1/4″ scar on the butt of my hand, narrowly missing important veins, and on my first day of work (almost a month later) had to shake hands with everyone with this huge gross bandage that obviously was treating some grievous kitchen injury. It felt gross to do that to a complete stranger.

In unrelated news, I totally found copies of those white bowls I use in most of my food photos and will be listing them on etsy at some point next week. Anyone here interested? They’re all that are left of what used to be Hamilton Beach stand mixers from the 40s or 50s, are made by Pyrex, and let in just enough diffused light to make for nice bright in-the-bowl shots. The ones I have now have some metal-utensil damage (little scratches on the bottom), but only where you’d have food anyway. $20 and they’re yours; $25 next week on etsy.

Here they are in action (there are two–a big ole bowl, and a smaller spouted mixy thing).

Extensive leaving-it-there-for-awhile.Lithuanian pastry?Best buddies.

I’m not planning on making Omnomicon a repository for etsy advertising, but where so many of my readers are food bloggers, I though these might be of especial interest. To everyone else, apologies on the plug!


I currently have my fingers in many pies, and it feels awesome to be in the swing of things. I’m happiest when productive!

There is a new food post (I know! Right?) that should be up on Sunday, a new Recipe Round-Robin next week (I want to rename this…it’s a cumbersome title…suggestions welcome), I’m working on like 3 food-related side projects that I’ll tell you all about in due time, and of course, shopping/researching/listing for my Etsy project.

AND *drumroll please* I’m excited to announce that at some point over the last month, Omnomicon hit 1 million visits! Meaningless in and of itself, but a fun milestone anyway.

So in the meantime, what are your top 5 underdog kitchen gadgets? Everyone fortunate enough to own them loves their Kitchenaid Stand Mixer, their Le Crueset Dutch Oven, their Henckels knives, but what do you rely on practically every time you cook that you totally thought you didn’t need until you started using it?

Not to bias things, but here’s mine (in no particular order):

  • garlic press
  • electric flat griddle
  • 1-cup food processor
  • kitchen scale
  • a mystery item, which will be the prize for this month’s recipe contest! (how coy, I know)

Not as cool as the posse Andre has, but I set up an Etsy shop for all the vintage stuff I love so much but have no space for. I like to think the descriptions really carry my personality for me. I feel ever-so-slightly lame for posting this before some amazing recipe, but I’m really enjoying still life photography of the non-food variety, and will be posting in the next week or two (really really I mean it this time!).

So consider Aleta’s Kitschen open.

While I don’t suspect this will earn me anyร‚ย  money, it does satisfy an insatiable lust for vintage I have no use for. If I had the dough, I’d just give it all away, but sadly, I don’t. Still, it pays for an otherwise expensive and storage-raping hobby.

These were my favourite descriptions, I had tons o’fun with these things.

Bold.Advanced STRAIN/CLOSE/POUR lid technology.

Tang Pitcher & Mugs “A Bold Wave of Sunshine”

This lightweight pitcher and mugs are appealingly vintage with what could very well pass as Hillside Middle School’s new logo in 1982.

Outfitted with slick STRAIN/CLOSE/POUR lid technology, this would be an ideal vessel and serving cups of Tang for, say, two children who are thirsty after swinging in the yard. The pitcher holds 3 quarts (96 oz) and each mug holds 12 oz. That means you can pour each cup all the way to the top FOUR TIMES before you have to make more Kool-Aid.

Pitcher is 9.5″ tall, 4.75″ in circumference and 8″ wide (lip to handle). Each cup 4″ high, 3″ in circumference. Packaged with complimentary packet of Tang.

Spring Blossoms in your oven

Pyrex Spring Blossom Casserole & Whisking Bowl

This set will no doubt impress your mother-in-law, who will burn up much of dinner talking about her wedding dish pattern, and every scrap of Pfaltzgraff she’s ever owned while you smile and enjoy dinner without having to force small talk.

Funky Spring Blossom Casserole and Whisking Bowl by Pyrex. Made for housewives in the USA between 1972 and 1979, who says you can’t use them now?

Oven-to-table, cheery, and just begging to try your grandmother’s noodle casserole recipe, the casserole holds 2.5 quarts, and the bowl 3 cups. Silver V marking on the casserole in the photos has been safely removed.

Packaged with a delicious casserole recipe card to try out. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Samson's Stimulating

Sick Mustache Wall Plaque

The plaque pretty much says it all.

Not only is this vintage (1968), it’s all Victorian stylized so it’s like, Vintage Vintage. Double Vintage. Meta-Vintage.

This bad lawrence comes from Yorkraft which, according to a cursory overview of the Internet, appears to be one of the earliest sources of “Crap that Places Like Applebees Put on Their Wall in Lieu of Real Antiques.” Wikipedia had nothing, Google Maps had an unconfirmed listing in York PA, and while I found links to, they were dead. Then I remembered there were muffins cooling on the counter and so that’s all I know about Yorkraft.

Nice beard, though.

16″ high by 12″ wide on sturdy, completely flat 1/2″ MDF board. 1968 Yorkraft, York PA. 3 lbs 5 oz, this thing is wicked diesel. Packaged with all my love. <3

Okay, now go tell your friends!

Funky Things That Fly Wild, wild roses. Couldn't tear me away...

Feedback? Things you like? Am I missing the mark? Is vintage even cool any more? Would you actually pay for any of this junk? Though my food photos rely heavily on boring white plates, this is the stuff I pull out when we have company.