Wednesday, August 10, 2011

That Perfect Soup In a Can

Soooooooooup. I am such a soup lover. I get giddy ordering a demitasse or a cup of a chef's soup du jour (especially if it has some cream swirled in it or some sort of peppers). One of my very favorite meals on this planet is a particular tortilla soup that my husband makes (which is derived from the recipe used at a Mexican restaurant in Austin where he worked while in college). And La Madeline's tomato bisque is just heavenly. The cream of shrimp soup at the Cottage in my hometown evokes a craving I wish I could fulfill long distance from Texas. I even gleefully tote soup in a can to work for lunch quite frequently, and I am even happy about it when lunchtime at my desk inevitably rolls around. I keep a pottery bowl I made on the bookshelf in my office to jazz up the canned soup a bit to give it that little something extra on a Tuesday. It fits perfectly and keeps it warm just long enough.

I am a soup girl through and through - always have been. It makes me feel a little warmer when I'm chilly, a little more comfy when I'm stressed, a little more home when I am away, and a little more delicate when I'm just not.

The funny thing about my soup predilection is that I do NOT like to use soup spoons. Sure, the shape is pleasing - round and appealing like the headlights on a VW beetle. But my upper lip happens to be shaped in such a way that I get little spoon-cuts on the edges of it when I eat with a soup spoon (unless I slurp it out of the soup spoon, which just about ruins the experience of eating soup if you ask me - both the aesthetic experience of the soup consumer and of the accompanying meal attendees). Am I the only one with this plight?

As you can imagine, I have tried many soups... and many of the varieties available in cans are not good. Not even worth the $1 or $2 price tag they bear. There are a select few I routinely buy, and I am frequently disappointed with much of what is out there. But, one soup has stood the test of time - the Stonehenge of soups - and my palate has never tired of it. As a child, I remember my family eating it out of mugs with blue daisies on them as the accompaniment to BLT sandwiches. Sometime in my pre-teen or high school days, I began eating this soup on its own and discovered that it doesn't need the BLT accompaniment; in fact, I prefer eating it all by itself. (Not to slight BLTs in the least - I like them very much. They have bacon and mayonnaise, come on.)

That Perfect Soup In a Can is not even one of the fancier-don't-add-water types that seem to fill the supermarket shelves these days. Nope. I've never even seen any kind of advertisement for this soup. This one is old school condensed soup in the small can with a label that comes close to the old Campbell's Tomato soup label Andy Warhol appropriated for his serigraphs (albeit with some recent unfortunate modernization of the styling). And, yes, you definitely have to add water to it before cooking.

Alright already, what kind of soup is it, you ask? The Campbell's soup that apparently no one besides my family seems to know about when I talk about it. The flavor no one else has heard of when they come into the breakroom at my office, smell the lovely scent of it cooking in the microwave, and ask "Ooh, what is that? It smells so good!"

Bean with Bacon (or Bean and Bacon, which I've always called it). Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, mmmmmmmmmmmm, good, as the old Campbell's jingle goes.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

That Perfect Out of the Norm Breakfast

I don't particularly like donuts.

Given a choice between a salty breakfast or a sweet one, I nearly always choose salty (enter my favorite: breakfast tacos, for instance). As a child, I even turned up my nose at homemade pancakes and waffles that my Dad so sweetly rose early to make for my brothers and me in our childhood. They're just not my thing. Despite my savory breakfast predilection, to be completely honest, most mornings my breakfast consists of either oatmeal, yogurt, or a banana (yep, eating sensibly as a responsible adult...).

But if I had my druthers... if there were no consequences for a crappy diet, I would have memorable savory breakfasts way more often. Still, every now and then, I am compelled beyond explanation to make an exception from both the sensible good-for-me-routine-breakfast and even the beloved occasional savory breakfast. Today was one of those days. There is but a single brand of flaky, sugary, circular goodness that holds a special place in my heart. My whole life, the only donuts I have cared even one iota about are Shipley's. To be more specific, the only donut I care about whatsoever is a chocolate-filled donut from Shipley's.

Witness the extraordinary, intoxicating power of a chocolate-filled Shipley's donut. I recall staying up through an entire night in high school in my old bedroom at my parents' house just jabbering, gossiping, belly laughing, and probably even crying a little, in the dark with a dear, dear girlfriend (absolutely the norm for a weekend night in high school)... and then being utterly exhausted and delirious sometime in the neighborhood of 5:00 a.m. and realizing that Shipley's would open in about one more hour... and convincing my poor friend to stay up with me just one more hour until it opened so we could go get a donut or two... (nevermind that I was wrong about their opening hour... so we even more deliriously finally collapsed into sleep after making fun of ourselves for staying up all night plus the extra hour for a donut store opening that was definitely a few more hours away yet, quite beyond our sleep-deprived reach). Shipley's, dear readers, is a donut worth losing sleep over. At least at the age of 16 it is. Although I can confidently say I wouldn't stay up all night for it these days, there's not much I'd stay up all night for nowadays, so don't let that discount your impression of the magnificence of a chocolate-filled Shipley's donut.

A few small details: the chocolate tucked inside that donut is the perfect flavor, a little sugary-gritty in texture, and is, pure and simple, oozy, gooey sweet happiness, and the glazing is just the right amount of sticky, flaky sugar that you have to (or get to) lick off of your fingertips. Ah.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

That Perfect Stain Remover

Bye bye blueberry dribble... off of a dry clean only Banana Republic top. Whew! I think that feat was the most amazing one I've seen accomplished by a humble little Tide To Go Pen. At some great, old-aged birthday celebration with my grandfather in New Orleans some years ago, I first discovered Tide To Go Pens. My Mom and I had ordered some lip-smacking good blueberry dessert that we were splitting and then I did it. I splorked blueberry dribble all over the front of my blouse. Behold my charm and elegance in that moment - of spilling the ultimate staining ingredient down my front-side. Mom and I made our way to the ladies' room (with me already bidding farewell to any future with this shirt of mine), and lo and behold, Mom whipped out this little orange paint-marker-looking detergent pen, rubbed it on the purply mess, and voila. Stain gone immediately. I.M.M.E.D.I.A.T.E.L.Y. Sounds like fairy tale stain solving, but it truly isn't.

It's purely awesome chemistry in a little orange pen. It is amazing to me how many people haven't yet tried this little maestro of on-the-spot cleaning. I stow one away in my too large purse - always - just in case. When I offer it to folks in the aftermath of a new stain, I find almost no one realizes the awesome power of these little sticks. So here I am singing its praises so maybe some of you out there will be ready when a mess makes its way to your outfit.

I wouldn't go anywhere without one now. Next time you're in the check-out line at the grocery store, and you see it in the register aisle, just toss it in your cart. Go ahead. You won't be sorry you did.

Here's what the Tide To Go Pen website advises:

What is Tide to Go?

Tide to Go is a portable stain removing pen from Tide that instantly removes many fresh food and drink stains.

How does it work?

1. Remove excess residue from the stain.
2. Press the tip onto the stain several times to release some stain remover solution onto the stain. [*like a paint marker*]
3. Rub tip gently across the stain to remove it. When necessary, add more liquid and continue rubbing gently.
4. Important: If treated area will be exposed to direct sunlight, wipe with a damp cloth or napkin to remove excess solution left on fabric.
For tough stains, place a paper towel under the stain while treating or wipe excess liquid or residue away with a damp paper towel, or reapply as necessary.

Does Tide to Go work on all stains?

No. Tide to Go is designed specifically for removing fresh food and drink stains. Stains that Tide to Go works best on include ketchup, BBQ sauce, grape juice, tomato juice, coffee, soda, chocolate syrup, tea, and wine. Tide to Go does not perform as well on non-food and drink stains including ink, grease, blood, and grass stains.

I've never tried it on anything besides food stains, probably because if I'm doing something intentionally messy, I dress for it and couldn't care less if I get stains on what I'm wearing. Food is the eternal unknown. You never know when it will jump off of your spoon into your lap and on to your favorite (and probably most expensive) trousers. Better safe than sorry...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

That Perfect Wind Down Your Day With a Laugh Show

Whether you've had a great day, are in a jovial mood, and are letting the excitement of the day go to settle contentedly into bed by the glowing light of a television... or you've had an exasperating day, your feet hurt, you couldn't drink enough wine to wind down, and you're finally getting to lay down after a trying day, which would feel good if only your body didn't hurt so much, and you absent-mindedly turn on your television... that perfect wind down your day with a laugh show is Chelsea Lately. I mean, really. That chick is so very funny. She's cheeky, witty, smart, honest, subtly rude, openly rude... she's a natural comedian. Her show comes on E!, which I only watch to see her show, nothing else. And I don't habitually watch it. Honestly, I don't habitually watch much. But I've never regretted flipping on the television and catching Chelsea Handler in action on her show. Who couldn't use a laugh at the end of a great day, or better yet, a crappy one.

I'm having trouble finding a clip on youtube that accurately reflects how funny the show is... so just watch it. Funny stuff~

Monday, January 17, 2011

That Perfect Serum

Ah, skin. At different times in my life my skin has been a thing of beauty or a cause of frustration. I've outgrown most of my acne, apart from the minor hormonal blip of a blemish, quite thankfully. But, as I age, I find I am prone to patchy dry skin, like some of my dear immediate family members. In the space of the last 6 to 8 months or so, I've had episodes of strange, patchy, dry skin on my face that was crazy itchy and felt irritated and generally put a damper on my mood. No clue what triggered it either. Luckily, there are plenty of good make up products for covering up such unsightly blemishes, but ouchie.

Even if they weren't in fact screaming in neon letters "Look at me!" they sure felt like they were. Leave it to me to think of these little dry patches of skin as personified, ruthless, punk rascals shouting things at others. I just felt like the world was staring at my glaring, screaming dry spots (though my rational side is certain that (1) there were, of course, no screaming skin cells, and (2) folks have better things to do than that). I went to the doctor and was given topical medicines and a steroid pack... I tried cortisone, lanolin, dandruff shampoo, Vaseline, everything you can think of with some remote chance of working. Alas, nothing did. Nothing. Enter frustration.

And then, one day in November, I think, I was frequenting my local Lush store, perusing the bath bombs and melts as usual when I noticed these facial "serums." Hm. Worth a go. It looked like it would be seriously moisturizing, a bit oily, smelled lovely, and promised help for sensitive and dry skin. MAN, was it worth a go. I tell you this with all sincerity... if you've got any pesky skin issues, rub this magical serum on it and they will vanish. For those of you easily swept to emotion - it is pure magic. Or, for those of you more logically inclined, it is a highly effective balm. Either way, I'm in love and ever so thankful to have the dry skin completely resolved. I just use it as my facial moisturizer each night, and that's it. Easy as that. Plus I think I am becoming addicted to the smell. It's called Full of Grace, and I have captured a little grace back for myself, indeed, since discovering this serum. I was feeling sheepish about my skin a mere three or four months ago, but a woman I don't even know passed me on the way out of my office building a few weeks ago and smiled, kept walking, then stopped, and turned around and then stopped me just so she could tell me she thought my skin was beautiful.

It is such an unexpected delight when things actually make you want to tell the world "wow." I am remembering why I started this blog in the first place.

Here's where you can get your own and read more about it: