food stuff

I have been writing the family events column for rvanews, and during my research to come up with five family-friendly, affordable, and interesting things for you and yours to do during the week I have noticed that everything has food trucks tacked on somehow.  If you’re in Richmond you know that food trucks are precious to us, and you can find a food truck court almost every day of the week and at all special events.  Art walk: food trucks; Fireworks display: food trucks; Grand opening of a new bakery in Church Hill: food trucks; Elementary school carnival: food trucks; Special exhibit opening at the Holocaust museum?  Yes, food trucks (but the somber ones).  It’s almost easier to advertise when you will not have a food truck at your event.

Food trucks are a great way to supplement my taco consumption when I’m not eating tacos at home (which is basically every day), but it’s exhausting how many options there are and they’re only growing.  By summer’s end the Richmond-resident-to-food-truck ratio will be 1:1.  Will we get tired of them?  I don’t know.  But I am afraid that I’ll open my door one morning and I’ll see a dude with a pressed sandwich cart waiting to follow me for the entire day and I will have to let the dog loose on him.

It’s not the end of the year if I don’t have a best of list, right? In no order and not including life events (becoming an aunt, duh):

Best things:

  • Microtel in Jonestown, NY
  • Stella’s in Richmond —  I dream of pastichio
  • The scene from“Louis” when he performs the Who song in the car in front of his unfazed children (Season 2, episode 5, “Country Drive”)
  • The reaping scene in “The Hunger Games”
  • Marisa Wompler’s “Comedy Bang Bang” podcast appearances and on her own Christmas special
  • Going to the houses of people who already have small children
  • This recipe (creamy lemon pasta with spinach and greens
  • My daughter yelling “COME ON, MAN” when I wouldn’t let her put on her favorite shirt which has a skateboarding hot dog on it
  • Amy Poehler’s performance this year on “Parks and Recreation,” especially the Halloween episode
  • Jens Lekman
  • C&M Galley Kitchen – It’s going to be the only restaurant we go to from now on when we’re not in the mood for something specific.  It’s so close, it’s reasonably priced, it’s kid-friendly, and I once had an apple juice/bourbon cocktail there that was very good.
  • NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts — Two or three songs performed by almost every musical act that I like
  • Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden – We went for the first time to see the butterfly exhibit and never left we have gone many times since then. I had no idea that the children’s garden existed. Definitely worth the membership fee.
  • Renting a cabin in James River State Park in September
James River State Park. COME ON!

James River State Park. COME ON!

Worst things:

  • Virginia General Assembly vs. women — Sadly, there will surely be a 2013 edition and then a special gubernatorial election edition, but we are ready.  By “we” I mean the people on Facebook who tell me where to go and quietly chant things.
  • My last dining experience at Don’t Look Back — Seriously, the worst.   Although the waiter was nice enough, by the time I had to point out the 6th thing that was wrong I thought I was maybe secretly being taped for a reality show about pushing mild-mannered people to the edge.
  • Contraband — A movie.  A very dumb movie
  • The end of “Everyday Food” in print form
  • Rainbow Fish —  It’s like 4 pages long, one page is the fish asking a starfish why no one likes him and the answer is “I don’t know, ask the octopus.” WHY EVEN BOTHER WRITING/DRAWING THE STARFISH PAGE? Was the book just accidentally written during a lesson on how to draw starfishes?
More like RainBORE Fish

More like RainBORE Fish

Not sure:

  • Our daughter going from shouting “you butt” when she’s mad at us to “you bad boy,” because although “you bad boy” is very funny it’s still her basically swearing at us. However, she has many times said quietly to herself “you bad boy, Charlie Gown” and it’s adorable to hear.

So, the good outweighs the bad. I win this time, year!

Please, benefit from my wisdom. Here are some life lessons that have come to me from my two years as a mother.

1. Multigrain Cheerios are delicious.
2. Whole Grain Goldfish crackers are delicious.

I love Doritos.  I served them at my wedding.  And received them as wedding gifts.  And my birth plan involved eating an entire bag of Cool Ranch Doritos while sitting in a tub.  In fact, while I call my daughter “Jr. Associate” throughout the bjournal, her real name is D’Rita Ellen (the boy’s name we had picked out was LL Cool Ranch).  If I had to give up all junk food save one item, I would choose Doritos.

But like all good things, I try not to buy Doritos because I will eat a bag in a 24-hour period and I don’t feel the need to share.  The first few chips are the most delicious, crisp chips to ever eat.  I don’t have that part of the body that says “stop eating this!” when it comes to Doritos.  I’ll eat half a bag while leaning against the kitchen counter, and then I feel ashamed and lash out at others while covered in orange powder.

I had unfinished bags of Cool Ranch & Nacho Cheese leftover from a party this past weekend, and I had finished them both by Tuesday evening (if I didn’t have to work they would have been finished by 9 a.m. Monday).  On both Monday and Tuesday I went straight to the chips after work, and since I have a child, I had to share (ugh) because she has learned to say “chip, please,” and even I can’t refuse that.  I dug through the bag to find her a broken chip — because whole ones are unsafe? — all the while eating probably a serving of whole chips, and when I handed her a chip she thanked me (well, she actually thanked her babysitter, whose name she’s says after every “thank you”).  She squealed with delight after each chip, and basically reenacted the warehouse scene from “Footloose” which caused her to get an orange film on everything.

By the time I was ready to pack up the bag she had orange face and fussed when I cut her off, and I felt guilty that I was getting her to love junk food.  It is totally within my power to keep her from eating chips, but I let her because it’s something I do.  And it’s not one of those things that I can say “as kids we ate junk food all the time and we’re okay,” because we’re not — we’re fat and sick and can’t handle the concept of portion control. Because I can’t give up bad habits I’m passing them on to my child.

So, parent lesson #212 – eat chips alone, preferably after everyone is asleep.

Nevermind that I also will eat a cantaloupe with the same zeal, and if I learned anything from being pregnant it’s that cantaloupe has the same nutrients as a leafy green vegetable.  I also feel like I should add a disclaimer that I feed my child well-rounded meals in addition to pumping her with Doritos.  Obviously I do, otherwise I wouldn’t care that she eats chips.


For those of you who don’t live here, Richmond’s food scene is very important to us.*   New restaurants and food trends get a lot of attention, and it seems the newer the restaurant the more locally sourced the menu, to the point that I’m sure in the next six months, let’s say a doula and her artist husband will open a place that uses herbs grown in coffee mugs on the tables and serves all but the fur of a goat that was water-birthed in the kitchen sink (this just in – it’s closed).

When I heard about Burger Bach I was amused how non-local its mission is.  Burger Bach serves beef that is shipped in from New Zealand and I think the fries are cut from potatoes grown at the foot of the Alps.  You could say that the traveling fees are incorporated into the price ($10 for  the cheapest burger, wha?) but it’s worth it.  We have only been once but I really liked it.  I ordered my burger with American cheese, and I felt really self conscious about that (I will stand up for American cheese, though, because it melts really well and it’s AMERICAN).  The cheese, mustard, and ketchup combination reminded me of the burgers of my youth, like McDonalds and Fuddruckers, that I know now aren’t good.  It was basically the delicious version of those.  I liked the fries and dipping sauces, the burgers come with salad (yay), and the atmosphere works well for parents with a mostly well-behaved toddler (meaning it’s loud enough that people probably don’t notice her and the booth is big enough for her to move around).

I haven’t had my previous favorite burger (Dot’s Back Inn) in years (though the Meat on the Street burger was pretty fantastic, but my associate recreates that at home).  There are so many new places to try that I get anxious that I need to try them all and that keeps me from previously enjoyed meals.  We also have a short window of time for fuss-free meals with our Jr. Associate, which means that eating out isn’t the leisurely activity it used to be.  Although there is a glut of new places to visit, it’s easier to start sticking to the places we already know that are kid-friendly but also good.  I can see now why parents resort to fast food places with Playlands. (Please ask me about “Kid Pit,” which I’m trying to bring into public spaces to make eating out better for everyone)(it’s basically a padded pit for corralling babies and there’s a prototype for a portable, fence version in the works.  I’ll send my Kickstarter link soon).

More important to me than burgers, Dixie Chicken opened up nearby and makes really good fried chicken for take out.  Even the kid eats it, which is sad because I don’t want to share but I guess good because I don’t have to cook anything else for her.

Food pouches have been great for eating out, but I’m sure they’re probably terrible

*Although I enjoy eating out and reading about restaurants, I’m not sure why we should be as informed as we are about food trucks.

I am on the finishing hours of a 4-day weekend, and it has been very nice.  I spent some great time with my child & co-parent.  For all working parents who miss their kids a little, I urge you to take long weekends if you don’t already.  I definitely feel like we love each other two days more than we would have if I was at work on Thursday & Friday.

Other good things happened: saw old pals, met new babies (well, just one, but I sat near a pregnant woman, so I guess that counts as a new baby, too), cooked/ate, watched not that much “Friday Night Lights,” and saw a crazy, crazy bug on the side of a building.  It had the body of a moth and the head of the end of the world.  I didn’t have my camera telephone or I would have Twittered it to cyberspace.

Here’s an itemization of my life these days, as requested by no one.


I made moon pies.  Making marshmallow was pretty cool, but I only recommend making it yourself if you want to tell people you made your own marshmallow but don’t want to lie about it.  I was pretty grumpy about the amount of time I spent making these, but I would probably make them again but use marshmallow creme and add an egg to the cookie part. I also made zucchini brownies (in cupcake form) which were delicious and I ate about 100 of them, but they were made with applesauce and whole wheat flour and vegetables, so it’s okay.  I also made carrot cake for the first time.  It was incredibly easy and also great, and possibly the only vegetable I ate that week.   Please note that this all happened in the last month.  I don’t have the steam to make three big desserts in one weekend.

I still enjoy cooking and sometimes enjoy baking, but it does take up a lot of time that I can be spending on home improvement projects (just kidding — watching TV and playing with the baby).  My love for making things from scratch is slowly being taken over by love for dropping a jar of salsa on something and calling it a day.

A mooned-pie


Like many people in this world, I am also watching “Friday Night Lights,” (we’re in the middle of season 4).  Jason Katims (one of the producers/writers) also does “Parenthood,” and wrote for “My So-Called Life,”  which are good to great shows.  FNL is filled with tired TV tropes, but what makes it most enjoyable is the character development.  I have had some “what would Tami Taylor do?”* moments lately when I have needed some strength, and I love how the Taylors treat people, especially the way they talk to their daughter (I’m taking notes).   Also, “Riggins” has become an all-purpose word here.  He’s something special.  And little Matty Saracen has definitely been my favorite non-Taylor character.  I think I cry during every episode.  And have definitely been guilty of reading FNL fan fiction (but over someone’s shoulder).

Also, of the few podcasts that I listen to regularly, “Who Charted” has become my favorite.  I wasn’t familiar with Howard & Kulap before (though Howard was on that show “Austin Stories” on MTV years ago that I remember liking) but they are so delightful. When I listen to it at the gym I laugh so hard and feel like I might pull a muscle if I tried not to.  Maybe it makes me run faster?  Do yourself a favor and at least listen to the Bob Odenkirk episode from a few week’s ago.

In summation, I have had a good summer but look forward to the adventures to come during this school year.  Texas Forever.


*other than say “y’all”


I bought my umpteenth bottle of Mexican Coke this weekend and I wondered if I would actually be able to tell the difference between it and American Coke in a taste test (answer: probably), but then I wondered, is Mexican Coke marketed to people like me who would pay 30% more to drink Grass-fed or Organic Coke but it doesn’t exist so instead we drink Mexican Coke? Am I being marketed to?  Every time I pay $2 for it I feel like I’m being played for a fool.  Ugh, it is so much better, though.


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