I’ve been away from this site a rather long time, and, besides a new British accent that mostly shows up when I type, all I have to show for it is a nagging question:

Where do food stall vendors go when they have to pee?

International Travel is Glamourous

Dear Lufthansa In-Flight Crew, HAM-MUC,
Thank you for offering me extra napkins and some sparkling water when I threw up on myself halfway through the short flight.

Dear United In-Flight Crew, UA #0903,
Thank you very much for letting me use the airplane bathroom (even though it was technically broken) when we were stuck on the tarmac waiting for the ground crew to fix the water system. I appreciate that you noticed that I was pregnant and made an exception for me, because I would not have lasted the two hours that we were waiting before takeoff.
Thank you also for bringing me some cheese, crackers and grapes after I asked when the breakfast service was. I am an eating machine even when all I’m doing is reclining in my lie-flat seat and watching movies, and that extra mini-meal was awesome because the flight lasted 25% longer than expected.

Dear United Customer Service Agent, IAD Gate C20,
Thank you for offering me the choice of staying in Denver overnight or Washington overnight after my arrival was way too late to make any connections to my destination. It was nice to have options. I especially appreciate your sensible suggestion that I ‘go to the hotel ASAP and get some rest’; falling asleep in a Washington hotel at 1:00 am my time was much preferable to my first inclination of searching out a hotel at DIA at 6:00 am my time.

Dear Marriot Guests,
Thank you for allowing me some privacy in the fitness center this morning. Even though it was 4:30 am local time, I was concerned that I would frighten some of you with my workout outfit:
-yesterday’s puked-on shirt,
-black stretchy pants with no undies (they were drying overnight after a quick wash)
-beige knee-high compression stockings (they are meant to be worn for 24 hours before and after travel.)
-disposable white socks from the airline amenity kit (no shoes, as all I had with me was a pair of clogs)

Dear IAD Starbucks,
Thank you for helping me make the most of my United-provided meal voucher. Your math skills are exceptional, and I am glad to have bags of mixed nuts, a banana, water and a scone in addition to the largest decaf latte I’ve ever seen.

All in all, really, not a bad trip. So far. The help I’ve gotten along the way has been exceptional, the various seats have been comfortable, and besides the brief puking episode I’ve felt pretty great. Two more flights and I’ll be at Mom and Dad’s house!

Here’s How I Do It

I don’t mean to tell you how to live your life, but I just passed a gestational diabetes test that I was pretty sure I would fail so I feel like I owe it to you to tell you how I did it. Here are some tips.

-I made oatmeal cookies but didn’t have any vanilla, so I used Irish whiskey instead. They are terrifically good, and the combination of streaks of raw eggs and whiskey fumes reminded me not to eat too much batter.

-I made butterscotch pudding from a mix. It tasted so much like chalk that the concept of pudding is now repulsive.

-If I feel like baking but also feel like having a nap, I turn on the oven, mix some water, flour and yeast together for a poolish to leave on the counter overnight, take some oatmeal cookie dough out of the freezer and bake a few cookies. 10 minutes later I can lie down, eat cookies, and read recipes for bread that I’ve basically already started to make because my poolish is fermenting! This is unbelievably satisfying.

-Warm milk is delicious all by itself, and it’s even better with a cardamom pod in it.

-A spoonful of molasses is a legitimate snack.

-A spoonful of honey is not, so better make some tea so that you can pretend you’re only licking the spoon.

-Tangerines are great when you have the hungry-in-the-mouth-but-not-in-the-belly feeling.

-It is surprisingly easy to eat two artichokes in a sitting.

-Even though you’re tired of your usual snacks and want something different, it is not a good idea to heat up cottage cheese.

It occurs to me that not everyone spends as much time as I do puttering around in the kitchen trying to come up with the perfect snack, so I’ll stop now before I get too embarrassed about how I’ve gone to three grocery stores today but haven’t yet found time to shower.

Sarcasm and Baking Don’t Mix

You should make the following recipe posthaste because it’s both dead good and dead easy.
Strawberry Balsamic Jam
Mix together 4 cups of cut-up strawberries, 1-2 cups of sugar, and 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it comes to 220 degrees, until it looks jammy, or until you chicken out and pull it off the heat because it’s popping at you when you stir it, whichever comes first. Serve it in small bowls with little spoons to call attention to the fact that you made it in your kitchen at home with your own two hands.

The jam I made this morning took less than 40 minutes from washing strawberries to putting jam in bowls. That tells you something about my sweet strawberry chopping skills (I didn’t really chop them, I instead took the potato masher to them once they started cooking and got soft,) and about my inexact strawberry washing skills (c’mon, they’re going to boil their little guts out. Let’s just rinse the big chunks off and move along.)
It was a relief that the jam recipe was easy, because I was concurrently focusing on the making of bagels. In my kitchen at home with my own two hands. When I tell you that the bagels were tremendously well received, you must remember that competition is not fierce: it’s Germany, for chrissakes. Not a lot of bagel-makers in these parts. They’re great fun to make: the recipe is straightforward and the texture is really perfect, and if you can time it so that your brunch guests walk through the door as you’re dropping the last of the hand-formed bagels into their boiling water bath you will be revered as a Mastress of your Domain. If you can then avoid using a too-short spoon to stir the jam, which splatters onto your hand and causes you to blurt out expletives in front of the youngest of the brunch guests (a 3 year old who is fascinated by anything in English and especially likely to remember anything said in a high-pitched squeal,) well, the reverence is deserved.
I used the 12-bagel recipe from the King Arthur Flour website, which is an absolute treasure trove of tips. It is moderated during U.S. business hours by a live person(!) who answers questions with astonishing patience. I wonder if she’s allowed to tell bakers that their problem is that they used too much flour? Maybe she can only hint around: ‘Try more liquid!’ or ‘Measuring by weight might help!’ I was jealous of her job for about two seconds before I realized that none of her answers were meant sarcastically (even though I still read ‘…you JACKASS!’ into the end of each response.)
The website has a feature on its newer recipes that allows you to choose to view the ingredients list in volume, ounces, or grams. While I understand that the power of artificial intelligence must be harnessed before it destroys us all, in the meantime there’s no reason that it shouldn’t be used to convert cups to grams at the touch of a button. Let’s make it a movement, shall we?