Wednesday, May 30, 2012

An Oven

I cook quite a bit.  There are few things I love more in the world than coming home, putting on a podcast, and cooking up a storm.  My only roommate is my dog, but I still manage to cook for four to five people a night.  A few months ago, my 1973 (rough estimate) oven went on strike.  It was a crapshoot every time I turned it on, and I had to have a clever back up plan for every meal that called for baking.  I sauteed a lot of kale.

My landlord concurred that it wasn't just a broken oven, it was an old, decrepit oven that needed to be replaced.  I thanked the kitchen appliance gods that had also gotten me a new fridge a few weeks before hand, but not until I had two straight months of mysteriously chunky milk and thawing frozen vegetables.

I came home from work two hours early today; I haven't been feeling well and was hoping I could just nap off what I theorize is an impending cold.  As I was approaching my block, I wondered why on earth there was a massive 18-wheeler on the corner, and when I got to my building, I knew what it was.  My oven had arrived.  After weeks of bookmarking recipes that called for an oven, it was finally here.  But it had arrived the same day I just wanted to turn my room into a cave and sleep until it was dark.

I tried to take the dog for a long walk to give the maintenance guy some privacy while doing the 'ol oven switcharoo (he declined my offers of assistance), but a chubby, short dog is not inclined to walk for longer than 30 minutes when it's 88 degrees out.  When we got back, I tried to do some more work, because napping while a man installs your new oven just feels weird.

He left at five.  I should've just stayed at the office.

All my kvetching aside, I still got a solid two-hour nap in this afternoon and am feeling slightly less "ehhh."  The sneezing and runny nose persist, though.  I now have a functioning oven, after months of being relegated to the stovetop!

So you're new to Bmore.  May I suggest some gluten-free baking options for when you find some wonderfully priced avocados at Safeway?  (Inspiration found here)  I didn't have chevre or parsley on hand, so I used swiss cheese and some smoked Chipotle hot sauce.  Bacon would've been phenomenal on it, as well.  If you're new to Bmore and sick in colder weather months, I cannot recommend Soup's On highly enough.  They make my ill I-don't-want-to-cook-but-need-to-eat-something-lest-I-disintegrate heart happy.

Fun aside: my new oven came with a "Recipe for Safer Cooking!" pamphlet, complete with colored illustrations on how to keep an eye on your food.  It's also designed as though it could be on a Tampax box, with some violet tones and swirly pink font.  Wonderful.

Monday, May 28, 2012


I first came to Charm City in October of 2011, meaning that I'm a relatively young Baltimorean.  When I moved here, I knew the Inner Harbor, where my office was, and the The Wire had been filmed/based off of Baltimore, without ever having seen the show.

I wanted to get involved, so I went to the Baltimore Sun.  I was aghast, or am too cheap, when I heard they charge $0.99 for a monthly online subscription.  What is this, the New York Times?  Get outta here, Bmore Sun.  I went to the intertubes for my news and found an array of fantastic area blogs.  None of them were a step-by-step guide of how to get acquainted with the Baltimore I've come to know and love through trial and error, so here we are.  That, and I've missed blogging.

I was recently told that I'm "boring on paper," in what I was assured was a complimentary fashion, but those things stick with a girl.  If this bores you, consider yourself warned.  It'll probably get awfully banal at times - I won't lie to you.

A brief summary of what I wish I had known coming here, and what I'm still looking to learn are as follows:

-This city has an arts scene that ought to be the envy of the mid-Atlantic.  With Gaia, Dan Deacon, Beach House, Single Carrot Theater, MICA, the BMA, the Walters, the AVAM, Artscape, good 'ol John Waters, and so much more, Baltimore offers a huge variety of artistic options without the price tag of New York.  And, dare I say it (dare I do!), I think they're more original and talented here.
-The people!  They're fantastic!  Having grown up right outside DC, I was accustomed to type-A personalities and cutthroats.  Baltimore doesn't take itself seriously, and I love it for that.  The city is more laid-back and happy to see where the tide will take it; Baltimore is always open to new suggestions.
-The restaurant options here have been disappointing.  Maybe it's because I was spoiled in DC, maybe it's because I love food, maybe it's because I was recently told to go gluten-free by my doctor and the options here just aren't cutting it for me, but whatever the reason, I'm disillusioned.  All my coworkers kept talking up places that are fine, but I get my hopes up each time.  I'm also on a hunt for some solid gluten-free food options around here.  In general, the bars have proven to be wonderful, but the fine dining is always "meh."  No worries, because...
-The Farmer's Market under the expressway is PHENOMENAL.  It may be my favorite thing in this city.  I love to cook food (see: gluten-free, disappointed in other area offerings), and the $1 kale man, 2 for $5 asparagus, $1 radishes, my beloved omelet and kettle korn men are all enough to make me never want to leave Baltimore.  Ever.  Yahoo recently ranked it the best Farmer's Market in the country - take that, Portland!
-Hikes.  Or just outdoors space in general.  As much as I adore my apartment, my "outdoor space" is a meager portion of my fire escape that I have to crawl out of my bedroom window to get to.  I share it with my neighbors, and that hyacinth I left to die out there.  It's very spacious and luxuious in that way that I've enjoyed a glass of wine out there a few times, but the dog gets antsy that he can't join so I'm forced back in.  As a result, I'd like to find more places to take my little basset, and maybe even find some good hiking in the region.  I briefly called Roanoke, VA home, and miss the proximity to amazing hiking very much.
-Club sports here are a way of life.  I convinced some coworkers to join the Bocce League in Federal Hill, and my life will never be the same.  It seems that almost everyone is in a social sports league, so if you're new, I can't recommend this highly enough.  Everyone is there to be social - they're all open to meeting new people.  When bocce season is over, I'm hoping to join a trivia league, because that's as athletic as I get - bocce and trivia.

This list seems paltry, but there is more that's just not coming to mind at the moment.  Welcome, though, and if you have any fun Baltimore tidbits to share, I would love to hear them!