| 0 comments ]


Ahh, the holidays. When else might you have the pleasure of eating a gingerbread replica of yourself?

Actually, I mainly ate the arms and legs off of several of my friends, since I’m not so much into icing. (Kudos to the talented Laura on another baking success!)
This year’s holiday party featured new traditions like gingerbread likenesses and Beers of the World, which joined the old standbys of a white elephant gift exchange and candlelight sing along.

Tomorrow we’re off to Minnesota for more holiday fun – from old traditions like Christmas Eve oyster stew, to new traditions like the second annual Kuhnau Staycation.
Hope you have a wonderful holiday season!
~Sonja

| 0 comments ]


Since my last post about living with CML, I’ve found out I’m in good company – Kareem Abdul Jabbar recently announced that he also has the disease! Sounds like he’s become something of an advocate, and has even started an online support group. The cool thing about my experience with CML is that it’s been so positive, I don’t even feel like I need a support group :)
I had another FISH test a few weeks ago to see how many of my chromosomes still have the translocated  genes that are indicative of CML (basically, the BCR and ABL genes trade places). Sounds like my chromosomes still have the abnormality (so I’m still “FISH positive”), but now only 23% of them, versus 54% in August!  So this is good news.
In another three months, I’ll have an RT-PCR test, which will test for the protein that is made by the translocated genes (the tyrosine kinase fusion protein, to be exact). This will be another good indicator of how the treatment is going. Thanks again, Gleevec!
Thank you to all who have been so kind to ask about my progress!
~Sonja

| 0 comments ]


With each passing year I enjoy the holiday season more. This year, we’ve been getting in the mood by listening to Christmas music 24/7 (thank you, Pandora!), trimming our tree, and eating comforting wintery food.
This was the loose theme for a meal with our friends the Smileys yesterday (check out BFFs Eliza and Luna above). We picked several recipes I’d been eyeing on blogs for the past few months, and they all turned out wonderfully! (…which was great since we’ve had mixed success in the past with some food blog recipes.)
Several of these recipes I’d recommend as great dishes for holiday entertaining, in particular the salad, soup, and dessert. Check out the recipe links below, if you’re interested!

Warm olives and artichokes                                              Roasted green beans         



~Sonja

| 0 comments ]


An addendum to our ethical eating post – only if you’re interested: Alex found this blog, which presents some of the relevant issues in a neat way. We thought it was interesting!
(Also, our garden just keeps giving – we found this random December bounty a couple days ago!)
~Sonja

| 0 comments ]

Thanksgiving

| 0 comments ]

Instead of hosting a meal this year, we were instead treated to five different Thanksgiving celebrations, each one full of excellent company and food! 

Somehow we’re still feeling a bit of the post-holiday fatigue… :)

| 0 comments ]


We had a bout of pre-holiday entertaining that didn’t make it onto the blog, thanks to an unplanned cholecystectomy. Writing about a Halloween party post-Thanksgiving seems somewhat sacrilegious, so I’ll leave that one to your imagination (though I will say it was pretty surreal to have a conversation with Bruce Springsteen, Willy Wonka, the Tin Man, and the Travelocity gnome simultaneously.)
I did want to mark the occasion of my first batch of cupcakes, however. Does this make me crafty? (If so, it can join this adventure with mod podge as one of the few times I’ve managed to be somewhat crafty in my adult life.) 

I used several recipes from Annie’s Eats for the baby shower I co-hosted in honor of my sister-in-law and new niece-to-be, including this cupcake recipe. While I’m not a huge cupcake fan myself, I loved this recipe! The cake was perfectly chocolate-y without being too sweet or oily, and the whipped cream frosting was light and delicious. (I left out the Oreos in the frosting and added a candy topping instead.)  I also loved this honey yogurt dip recipe – delicious, easy, and made with all-natural ingredients.
Now that the holidays are here and my health has returned, we’re back in the entertaining spirit and looking forward to the upcoming good times with friends and family!
~Sonja

| 1 comments ]

 
When we decided to drastically alter our diets to align with our convictions, we started using the word “vegetarian” to convey the scarcity of meat in our diet. So just how does roast chicken count as dinner?
It’s actually made entirely of tofu.

OK, it’s not.
The vegetarian label is more a matter of social convenience. I mean, it’s much easier to say “vegetarian” than to explain that we:

-don’t eat meat on a regular basis
…because of the reduced environmental footprint of eating plants and the health benefits of eating a larger percentage of plant matter
-don’t eat factory-farmed (CAFO) meat
because of the devaluation of the animals, harm to the environment, and compromised nutrition of the product
We also try to:
-eat local foods
to support small business and reduce the environmental impact of transportation
-avoid processed foods
…to gain the nutritional benefits of a natural diet
Phew. Are you still reading?
All that was to say that since this chicken lived a happy, healthy life under the care of Alex’s mother, consumed minimal environmental resources, was slaughtered ethically by a small-town butcher, and was consumed to mark the occasion of the Colts eminent demise of the Patriots, he was kosher.
Does that count as vegetarian? :)
(Wikipedia says we are actually “flexitarian” -- maybe we’ll try that term if it ever becomes part of the common lexicon…)
~Sonja
Ethical eating is a hot topic these days, and there is a wealth of source information on the subject. If you’re interested, we’ve been inspired by the following:
Documentaries
Food, Inc.
King Corn
Books
Food Matters (Mark Bittman)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Barbara Kingsolver)

| 1 comments ]


There’s nothing like an emergency surgery to teach you about the intricacies of the human anatomy. Unfortunately I now happen to be an expert on the gallbladder.
I’m back in action after an unexpected week in the hospital. What was supposed to be a date to a Swell Season concert ended up in a trip to the emergency room. Little did I know that the pain attacks I had been experiencing for the past couple months were due to my gallbladder making gallstones.
Sadly, the gallbladder and I had to part ways. Which is okay, because apparently he is non-essential anyway.
According to my surgeon, the gallbladder concentrates the bile that comes from the liver and then releases it into the stomach to help digest fat. However, when it is removed (see above), the liver just sends a comparable amount of bile anyway.
So, no need for a replacement – I’m good to go! While I’ll miss him, he was becoming a bit too high maintenance for my taste.
I’m so grateful to everyone at the hospital for their care, as well as friends and family for their support! I’m hoping for at least another six months until I’m forced to refresh my anatomy knowledge again :)
~Sonja

| 1 comments ]


I feel like the Internet needs one more blog about the greatest regular season football game of all time. I mean, it’s not like our friends, local food blogs, local media, or national economics blogs have already covered it to death.
We were lucky enough to be invited to the game with my Dad and stepmom – so we got to experience the emotional rollercoaster in person. It was awesome. I had so much adrenaline in my system I could barely sleep that night.
The last 5 minutes of the game has to rank near the top of my favorite sports moments: Reggie’s 3-ball over Jordan in the ‘98 playoffs, AJ Moye’s block of Carlos Boozer in the ‘02 tournament, and me beating Ross Schnepp in a ‘95 barnball game.
Watch the highlights here. Relive the magic. GO COLTS!

| 0 comments ]

My favorite NPR Music feature is Exclusive First Listen. They stream an entire album for a limited amount of time just prior to its release. Right now, you can listen to Norah Jones’ newest CD. Enjoy!
norah main

Photo by Autumn de Wilde stolen from NPR.org

| 1 comments ]


On our trip to Decatur, my Mom arranged for our group to visit Adams County’s apicultural hotspot: Rekeweg Honey Company. The Rekeweg family was gracious enough to give us a lengthy tour of their facility, and it turns out that bees are absolutely fascinating!
We barraged the experts with questions about everything from pollinating, breeding, buying, selling, stinging, buzzing, queens, drones, pH, royal jelly, honey bears, and more!

    
We were so enthralled that Kirk and I later consulted the Indianapolis city code to see if we could start our own colony (no). Instead, we settled with purchases of every honey product we could carry… We only have about 3/4 gallon of honey left :)
Many thanks to the Rekeweg’s for sharing their wonderful business and life with us – we loved every moment!

~ Alex
p.s. I think we tried honey comb, honey stix, creamed honey, raw honey, flavored honey, natural honey, honey in a bear, and honey in a jar – but my personal product of choice was the lip balm… I’ve been using it all week!

| 0 comments ]


What started as a simple desire to celebrate the coming of fall has become something of an institution. It’s now a tradition to visit Alex’s family in Decatur, Indiana each October with a group of friends.
Last weekend marked the fifth annual “Fall Weekend”. We lucked out with perfect weather to enjoy the season.

Each Fall Weekend seems to top the previous year. I thought last year’s apple picking and cider pressing adventures would be hard to beat, but this year’s visit to a local beekeeper was absolutely fascinating!
We stocked up on enough honey products to keep us going until at least 2015.
And no Fall Weekend is complete without rousing renditions of Stayin Alive and I Want It That Way.

We’re already looking forward to next year.  Or maybe we’ll have to start a Spring Weekend.
~Sonja

| 2 comments ]

 
It was one year ago today that we brought home this tiny two-pound puppy. Since then, she’s gained a massive five pounds, learned a battery of tricks (from playing dead to her newest touchdown high-five), and begrudgingly adapted to the rules of our household (though she has been known to leave us special presents now and then).

Yes, our clothes now layered with a light film of dog hair, and the ring of our door bell can never be followed by silence again, but we’ve loved every minute of our lives with Luna!
Click here for a photo essay of Luna’s first year
~Sonja
 

| 0 comments ]


When you do crazy things like make your own mozzarella, you’re left with the task of finding ways to use it. Fortunately, the Italians devised the perfect method.
We’ve been experimenting with pizza since our honeymoon to Rome and the Amalfi Coast a few years ago. Somehow it is not quite as easy as you would think. Especially once you’ve tasted Italian pizza.

We’ve had more disasters than we can count. Crusts uncooked, too thick, too thin, sauces too sweet, too spicy, broken pizza stones, warped pans… Our anniversary dinner this year was an unsuccessful pizza resuscitation effort that resulted in piles of pesto covered dough. (It probably should have been comical, but ruined any semblance of a celebratory mood. Oh well.)
However, somehow we have emerged with our very own perfect pizza margarita. Check it.

Oven temperature, cooking method, dough recipe, sauce recipe, and ingredient combinations have all been optimized to our liking (and what our taste buds remembered as “authentic”).

Intrigued? Check out our original recipe below. I promise it’s not as complex as it sounds, once you get the hang of it.
We’re not alone in our pursuit of pizza - apparently it is the new in-thing in the gourmet world. We’re also excited about this and this, new local ventures that are scheduled to open soon.
~Sonja
Pizza Margarita
Making the Dough
1. Combine 4 cups flour, 2 pinches of salt, 1/2 tbs olive oil, and 1 package active dry yeast in a food processor and pulse to combine.
2. With the food processor running, slowly add 1.5 cups warm water.
3. Turn off food processor 10 seconds after the dough forms a ball.
4. Place the dough in greased bowl. Place bowl in warm, humid place covered with a dish towel for at least 45 minutes.
Makes two pizza crusts.
Assembling the Pizza
1. Place a pizza stone in the oven and pre-heat the oven to 425°F (very important for the correct crust consistency!).
2. Divide the dough into two pieces. (If making one pizza, you can store it in the refrigerator or freezer for later.)
3. Knead the dough a bit, then roll it out to the desired size and thickness.
4. When the pizza stone is pre-heated, remove it from the oven and transfer the crust to the pizza stone. You can do this using a pizza peel (if you’re fancy) or just throw it on (like we do).
5. Top the pizza with (in the following order and the quantity of your choice);
-Crushed San Marzano tomatoes (VERY important – these tomatoes are grown in Italy and provide just the right flavor!)
-Olive oil
-Salt
-Chopped garlic (optional, but adds great flavor!)
-Fresh mozzarella cheese
-Pecorino romano cheese (again optional, but we loved the flavor when we tried it)
-Freshly grated parmesan cheese
6. Bake for about 10 – 12 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and browned.
7. Remove from oven and top with fresh basil.
Wait a few minutes for it to cool and enjoy!

| 0 comments ]

Our family photoshoot last weekend wasn’t all work. We also got to enjoy the beauty of the IMA in early fall. Here are some shots we snuck in between takes.



We had some help with this one :)
~Sonja

| 0 comments ]


OK, I couldn’t resist this title. Blogging somehow brings out an uncharacteristic affinity for corny puns. (I suppose I should have titled the last post “Smiley-ing for the Camera”. But that might have been out of control.)
A few weeks ago our friends the Kings cooked us an incredibly scrumptious meal. We enjoyed these lasagna rolls (a great idea that we can’t wait to experiment with), red pepper dip, and roasted green beans, as well as the excellent company of the Kings. We forgot our camera, but check out Megan’s beautiful photos of the night here (she is a wonderfully talented professional photographer!).
The roasted green beans were so tasty that we had to replicate them ourselves a couple days later. This is one of the easiest and most satisfying “recipes” we’ve made!  The key is the lemon juice, which provides a wonderfully zesty taste. This could also work as an appetizer or tapa, in addition to a tasty side dish.
In the spirit of focusing less on “recipes” and more on “concepts” (our new cooking philosophy), here is the basic idea:
1. Toss fresh green beans with some olive oil, salt and pepper.
2. Place on baking sheet and roast at 425°F for 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Douse with lemon juice (to taste) and enjoy!
~Sonja

| 1 comments ]

We had a great time this past weekend taking photos of our friends Lynne and Kirk and their beautiful daughter, Eliza!  It was a challenge to keep a 6-month old smiling for two hours on a semi-chilly fall day, but we managed to get a few good shots!


We found the IMA grounds to be a great backdrop (as did many other photographers that day).


The whole family were naturals in front of the camera. And they even managed to snap a few photos of us while they were at it!
~Sonja

| 2 comments ]


This weekend we were able to use up one of last year’s Christmas presents, gift certificates to a cooking class at The Chef’s Academy. The topic this week was International Vegetarian Cuisine, right up our alley!
We had a lot of fun in the class, especially having free roam of a big commercial style kitchen. We gained lots of helpful hints on saffron, custard, polenta, kale, naan, and more. The best part was that we got to enjoy the spoils of our efforts at the end of the class (and even had leftovers to take home).