Great Balls of Cheese

Happy Monday: Gilmore Girls, MSW & Cheese Balls

Great Balls of Cheese

Photo via Gluten Free Girl!

Happy Monday! It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these updates, but I’m delaying my Winter 2017 10-item wardrobe post until later this week. I decided I needed one more item, and I found something for $10 on ThredUp. Fingers crossed. To the links!

Current Events

The Women’s March took place this past Saturday, and estimates place attendance at 2.9 million. Even more amazingly–no arrests! I stayed home with Sarah here in Portland, but my husband went with our son and his former wife, and said it was an inspiring show of unity.

What got me a little choked up was seeing all of the Princess Leia-related Women’s March signs, especially so close to Carrie Fisher’s death. Carrie Fisher was an outspoken broad of the first order, and I feel like she would have approved.

What’s next? I thought The Atlantic had an interesting take, comparing the demonstration to previous protests in Russia and their aftereffects.

Cool Stuff

My amazing husband, Scott Allie, and our son Sid put together an epic Gilmore Girls/Murder, She Wrote crossover comic for me for my birthday, bringing Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Norton, Dave Stewart, and Nate Piekos together to help make it. It is one of the very best things I have ever received in my life. Sid wrote most of Jessica Fletcher’s dialogue himself! More details at Nerdist.

Gilmore Girls Murder She Wrote Comic

Amazing, right?

Every year for Christmas, my parents buy me a set of Soma pajamas and I love them so much. They are cute and comfortable and have pockets. This year I got some that are gray-and-white striped with a little silver, and I just noticed they are way on sale.

My friend Liza got me Great Balls of Cheese, a cookbook dedicated to cheese balls, and I am obsessed. I will make every single one of these!

Geekery

I’m expanding my role with GeekCraft Expo to include all of their upcoming shows (including some that haven’t been announced yet–yay!). I love being able to work with so many awesome crafters and see their nerdy goods! Exhibitor applications for GeekCraft Expo PDX 2017 are open until January 31, so make sure to fill yours out now!

I’ve also been really enjoying working with The Doubleclicks! You can check out their free online show 1/26 (with special guests the Library Bards), or catch their #NerdNightOut shows 2/11 in Seattle and 2/12 in Portland!

As regular readers know, I’m a huge fan of podcast Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men. I’ve just been invited to guest-host again next month, I’ll keep you posted! In the meantime, listen to their latest episode, which covers Excalibur’s Cross-Time Caper and the aftermath.

Phew! I hope you all are enjoying January. I must admit, I’m relieved to have the holidays over with. Portland got about 10 inches of snow and then some ice, which prolonged Sid’s Christmas vacation (which was actually pretty nice), but kept me housebound a little too long.

What have you been up to? Post below and say hi!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Yes You Can: Make a Luscious Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Luscious Tuna Noodle Casserole, a Gould family recipe!

The cold and rain have returned to Portland, which means it’s soup and casserole weather, yay! I love a good casserole–they’re typically easy to make and feed a crowd. And oh I love to pull out the Campbell’s Cream of soups. They just feel cozy. This tuna noodle casserole comes from my friend Tiffany Gould, who graciously shared her family recipe with us, and it is fantastic: rich, creamy, and satisfying. It’s also huge.

Plus, like any good casserole, it’s flexible, allowing for the addition of whatever’s in your fridge. For instance, I made the casserole pictured above with egg noodles (instead of extra-large macaroni), ricotta (instead of sour cream), and thyme (in place of parsley), and it still retained its ineffably delicious character. Make it tonight!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Serves 12

You Need:
2 cans white albacore tuna, drained
12 oz. extra-large macaroni, cooked and drained (if you use egg noodles, use 1 lb)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
Pepper (to taste)
Parsley (to taste)
Milk
3 cups grated cheddar cheese
Breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook noodles in large pot according to directions on package and grate cheese. When noodles are done, drain and set aside. Combine tuna (you may need to chunk it up a bit), cream of chicken soup, and cream of mushroom soup in the pot used to boil noodles. Then add sour cream, pepper and parsley to taste; the measurements above are just an estimate, not exact.

Next, stir in the noodles and 2/3 of the grated cheese. Add milk until the mixture stirs easily; keep in mind the casserole will lose moisture as it cooks. Pour into a 9″ x 13″ pan, cover with the remainder of the grated cheese, and sprinkle breadcrumbs on the top.

Cover pan with foil and place in oven. Cook at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, and then check to see if the cheese has melted and the casserole is bubbling. If so, remove foil and cook for about another 15 minutes, until cheese on top has golden brown spots.

Variations: Add in leftovers from the refrigerator that need to be used in place of the milk, sour cream or cheese (cream cheese, buttermilk, cream, alfredo sauce, cottage cheese, ranch dressing). Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top with the bread crumbs tastes great, too.

Big thanks to Tiffany Gould and her family for bringing this recipe into our lives! Do you have a go-to casserole recipe? Post it below!

Luke's Diner Popup Portland Oregon

I Went to Luke’s Diner and It Was Magical

Luke's Diner Popup Portland Oregon

My very patient and wonderful family came with me to visit the real star of Gilmore Girls: Stars Hollow.

I need to start by saying that I have a wonderful husband and son. Because they let me drag them to a coffee shop on a weekday at 7 am and stand in line for two and a half hours. For a cup of coffee. My son is 11. He literally took one sip, refused to comment, and laughed with glee that he would be late for school because I couldn’t resist the lure of the Luke’s Diner popup event, a very clever marketing promotion for the upcoming Gilmore Girls revival.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is coming to Netflix November 25, which I’m sure at least 85% of people on social media must know right now, because Netflix’s PR game is tight, and thousands of people (and dozens of local TV news crews) were beguiled by the chance to visit Luke’s Diner right around the corner (almost literally for me: Oblique Coffee Roasters, the only participating location in Oregon, was about 15 blocks away).

I am not a morning person. And I’ve been working in fandom (comics and pop culture) for many years. I’ve worked countless conventions, including the big show, San Diego Comic Con. If anyone should be immune from standing in line for hours for a cheap freebie (for the record, the free cup of coffee was emblazoned with a quote from Lorelai Gilmore and a Snapchat filter code, and wrapped in a Luke’s-branded paper sleeve) and photo op, it should be me. Not only could I not resist, I was all in, because this promotion tapped into the essence of what made GG so popular: the idea of community.

Gilmore Girls is the story of mother-daughter duo Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. Impetuous, irreverent Lorelai became pregnant at 16, severely disappointing her wealthy-yet-emotionally cold parents. Wanting her independence, Lorelai took baby Rory and ran away to the quaint town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, where she found a job as a maid at an inn, eventually working her way up to manager, and building her own family of friends. At the beginning of the series, serious, brainy Rory is 16 and has been accepted to the prestigious–and expensive–Chilton prep school. In exchange for loaning her the money for tuition, Lorelai agrees that she and Rory will join her parents for dinner every Friday. Wacky hijinks and emotional chaos ensues.

I didn’t watch Gilmore Girls when it debuted on the WB because it was on opposite Buffy. But also because I had just run away from home myself, in a way–I ran from a failed marriage and a boring copywriting career to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, a quaint island where I learned to wait tables and eventually build my own family of friends. After returning to Portland in 2005 (and taking a work-from-home editing gig), my homesick self discovered GG on ABC Family and was hooked.

But in retrospect, I realize the main attraction wasn’t cool mom Lorelai or bookworm Rory (who were actually pretty flawed characters, but I like that). The real star of the show was Stars Hollow, the quirky granddaughter of Mayberry, and the Warner Bros. backlot-town that was literally made up of sets that have appeared on countless other TV shows (The WaltonsThe Dukes of Hazzard, and Seinfeld, to name a few). Stars Hollow is the town where everyone knows your name–and what you had for breakfast (probably at Luke’s, since Al’s Pancake House serves international cuisine). Portland seemed uncomfortably large to me, after living in a place where I literally knew almost everyone at the grocery store. Stars Hollow, a place rich in offbeat characters and so many town events and festivals, felt like a warm hug.

The return of Gilmore Girls is the return of Stars Hollow, and Netflix knows this–that’s why bringing Luke’s Diner to the masses was so smart, and so successful. After all, Gilmore Girls fans are already conditioned to love ridiculous events. And standing in line (for hours) with the GG fan community was like one long town meeting in our very own Stars Hollow.

Kicking yourself for missing Luke’s Diner? You can still get your Stars Hollow fix by visiting the “newly recovered” town website (apparently Kirk lost the password in 2007). That’s where I’ll be, drinking my coffee and the GG Kool-Aid, until November 25!

Sarah’s Second Birthday Party

IMG_5817.jpg

Sarah’s Elephant Cake (tutorial from My Cake School linked below).

Sarah turns two today, but we celebrated her birthday this past weekend by inviting 40 of her closest friends over. I know that sounds extravagant for a kid’s birthday party, but one, we often have even more over for brunch (does that sound smug?), and two, at this age, the party is more for everyone else (all of our friends with kids). When she’s older, I’ll cut it down to her actual friends. Maybe.

The party was actually pretty simple to set up: I basically made a birthday cake and what I call TFAW food. When I worked for Things From Another World (the world’s finest online and brick-and-mortar comic book shop), I catered all of our signings. I started out with superhero-themed quinoa salads and fancy canapes. After being overloaded with leftovers (no one wants to eat quinoa at an Avengers signing), I ended up making simple food everyone likes–dips, fruit, veggies, and cheese–with a firm plan for anything left over.

This menu is simple, relatively inexpensive, and perfect for almost any casual gathering. The birthday cake is a bonus! If you’re not throwing a birthday party or just don’t want to make an elaborate cake, I suggest cupcakes or (even easier) brownies.

Sarah’s Second Birthday Menu

  • Elephant Cake: This tutorial was great, and not too difficult
  • Nathan Fillion’s Seven-Layer Bean Dip of the Gods: This is seriously delicious–I spread it in a 10″ x 15″ glass Pyrex dish, so it’s easy for people to dip through all the layers
  • Salsa and Tortilla Chips
  • Veggie Platter with Spinach Dip: My mother’s specialty
  • Fruit: I went with grapes and watermelon)
  • Cheese Platter with Crackers: Since this was a kid’s party, I kept it simple: a wedge of Brie, dilled havarti, some sharp cheddar, and string cheese

Unfortunately, I don’t have many pictures because my phone died the morning of the party. We served lemonade, Arnold Palmers, flavored seltzer, and sparkling wine.

But as important as planning a menu is, it’s even more important to have an exit strategy for the leftovers. Here’s what I’ll be doing:

  • Cake: Gone, suckers!
  • Seven-layer dip: I made ersatz migas for breakfast the other morning with some tortilla chips thrown in. I’ll be adding taco meat and making burritos with the rest.
  • Veggies: The cut veggies have been going into my husband’s lunch, and Sarah and I have been snacking on the dip. Fortunately we didn’t have a lot left over–if there were more, I would have made “Free” French Vegetable soup.
  • Fruit: Lunches, breakfast
  • Cheese platter: If you know me at all, you know I have no problem taking care of extra cheese. The slices have been very convenient for sandwiches!

Do you have any go-to party food? Post below!

Sarah Is Two

img_5820Okay, all you jerks who told me to “Cherish every moment, they grow up so fast!” were right, because Sarah is two–and I don’t know how, because it certainly can’t have been two years since she was born. But I love her so much I can barely remember what life was like before her.

She’s gone from a sweet, chubby baby to a laughing, climbing toddler who loves nothing better than getting us to laugh. Oh, and eating cheese. This is my daughter, after all!

Sarah at Two:

  • I always get asked how old Sarah is, and they’re surprised she’s only two. At 35 inches tall, she’s as tall as her three-year-old friend Eva.
  • She’s sleeping through the night (yay!).
  • We’re still nursing, at least four times a day. I didn’t think I’d be that weird hippie mom, but ah well. I’ve still got tons of milk. However:
  • Because of that, I’ve never left her overnight. I guess that’s our next big step.
  • Sarah is obsessed with books. She wakes up calling, “Mommy! Book!” and insists on sleeping with one. I hope it sticks!
  • She also loooooooves elephants. And baby dolls. And pretending to sleep (her fake snoring is hilarious). And “hiding” from Mommy.
  • Her pronunciation of the words “sock,” “fork,” and “walk” all sound like the F-word. It’s awesome.

Sarah’s still a Mommy’s girl, although she enjoys Daddy as well. We might both play second fiddle to her brother Sid, who is still the best big brother ever. She also loves Sid’s best friend, Ernie, who is also crazy about Sarah. He’s a tall, stolid 12-year-old whose feats of strength and daring are legendary, so it’s so funny and cute to see him dote on Sarah.

Overall, we’re very lucky to have Sarah, and it’s been so cool to see her grow into a toddler. Happy birthday, my sweet baby. Here’s to many more!

 

Happy Monday! Oh My God That Baby

img_0224Happy Monday! On a Monday! What the what? I’m sure you’re tired of hearing this, but the last two weeks have been totally nuts. Here’s a brief rundown of what I’ve been up to:

GeekCraft Expo Seattle has been announced for December 10 and 11 at the Seattle Center (Facebook event)! This is very exciting for me, because GeekCraft Expo PDX was so successful and so fun. It’s also pretty nerve wracking, because I don’t know Seattle as well as I do Portland, so I’m feeling the pressure to get the word out. So far the response from exhibitors has been fantastic . . . I just don’t want to get overconfident.

The Doubleclicks are part of the Portland Mercury‘s The Undisputable Geniuses Of Comedy show September 16–and then embark on a California tour with Lucia Fasano, with stops in Santa Clara, Oakland, Burbank, and West Hollywood. Then, get ready for the Lucia Fasano CD Release Party with The Doubleclicks & More October 15 at Books with Pictures!

You can hear The Doubleclicks and Lucia Fasano on Geek in the City, a delightful podcast hosted by Aaron Duran.

Whew! Then, it was Rose City Comic Con this weekend, which means we had a ton of comics creators and other friends pouring into town. It was dinner party city here, which was a lot of fun for me, but so much work. Here are the recipes I used:

Dinner Party #1: We had Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá over, with Diana Schutz and Bob Schreck.

I was super prepared for this dinner party, so everything went smoothly. Everyone even wanted coffee with dessert, so I could feel like a real-life grownup and use the little coffee cups and saucers that came with my wedding china. Yes!

Dinner Party #2: Team Hellboy

Whenever I feed Mike Mignola, I have this crazy urge to serve him tentacles, which is what brought me to paella. Although this recipe didn’t include squid, so–ah well. This menu was also great because one of our guests is gluten free. I wasn’t quite as well prepared for this dinner, because I clogged our sink with potato skins (never again! I promise!) so my husband had to take everything out of the cabinet and work under there for half an hour to save my irresponsible self.

Rose City went well. I always have a small freakout before dealing with the public, even when (and sometimes especially when) it’s packed with people I know, or at least know of. But I talked to all the crafters, caught up with some pals, and even scored a Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men t-shirt.

But Elisabeth, you’re probably wondering, what’s with the “That Baby” title? What’s with the picture at the top of this post?

The other thing keeping me so busy is my about-to-turn-two bundle of snuggles and destruction, Sarah. She got hold of a red Sharpie (damn you Scott Allie and your editor’s trove of red pens!) and covered our couch in permanent ink in less than two minutes. Like, I was cooking, I realized she had gone very quiet, I went into the parlor, and . . . oh my god. This was the day of the Hellboy party, so I had to quickly turn the cushions over and give myself a hard mental shake. Fortunately, it’s an 11-year-old couch, and I had already scheduled a cleaning for it the next day (didn’t help the Sharpie, but the rest looks 100% better), but . . . still! I may try rubbing alcohol and see what I can do.

Whew! I got tired just typing this, so maybe I need iron or something. How was your week? Any magical Sharpie-removal tips to share? Help!

Happy Wednesday! GeekCraft Expo Seattle and Food Porn

Snickers Cake

Oooh . . . Snickers!

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Hope you’re having a good week. Those with kids probably sent them off for the first day of school (*sniff*), but in any case, the last day of August always feels like the end of summer to me, even if it isn’t technically (that would be September 21).

But no worries. There’s tons of fun stuff happening this fall, in addition to Halloween! And Thanksgiving! Here we go:

Geekery

The Doubleclicks, Portland’s beloved folk-geek sister band, is everywhere this September: Dragon*Con in Atlanta 9/4, as a guest of nerd podcast supreme Geek in the City 9/7, in Portland for Rose City Comic Con and at Dante’s 9/10, then at the Portland Mercury‘s “The Undisputable Geniuses of Comedy” show at Revolution Hall 9/16–plus “Snakes on the Radio” tour dates in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Get the Doubleclicks’ tour schedule!

For many of these shows they’ll be pairing up with actor/comedian/musician Lucia Fasano, who Kickstarted her debut album, “Radio Silence,” through Doubleclicks Records, the band’s new record label! Not only did it fund in one day, but with seven days to go, it’s 187% funded!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/luciafasano/lucia-fasanos-debut-album-radio-silence/widget/video.html

The Doubleclicks are no slouches: they recently posted an amazing cover of Hamilton‘s “History Has Its Eyes on You.”

Remember GeekCraft Expo PDX, the amazing craft fair featuring handmade geeky goods by local artisans? Come on, I posted about it constantly. Well, we’re proud to announce that we’ll be debuting GeekCraft Expo Seattle December 10 and 11 at the Seattle Center! Right now we’re looking for amazing exhibitors to submit their applications by November 18.

The Portland show was incredible–as someone who has worked a lot of comic book conventions, I was blown away by the quality and originality of the crafts. Plus, the show is free to the public and family friendly. What’s not to like?

Speaking of comic book conventions, Portland’s Rose City Comic Con is next week! It’s been so exciting to see this show grow . . . and grow over the past few years. It’s an excellent show with some pretty high-profile guests this week–John Cusack, Stan Lee, Denise Crosby–and it showcases the best of the comics scene, so go!

I’m especially excited because with the influx of awesome comic book creators to Portland, we’re hosting back-to-back dinner parties, and going to some fun events as well. A multiple Eisner-winning creator actually contacted my husband to “reserve” a dinner at our table, so I was very flattered.

Finally, a shoutout to my husband, Scott Allie: the final issue of his series with creator Mike Mignola, Abe Sapien, is out today. I got a chance to read Abe Sapien #36 early, and all I can say is it’s a fitting end–and beginning?–for one of Hellboy’s most interesting characters. If you don’t have a local comic shop, order Abe Sapien #36 from TFAW!

Food Porn

But Elisabeth, where’s the food porn? Oh my goodness, readers. I made the best cake yesterday. It was my brother’s birthday, and every year, he gives me a birthday cake challenge. I’ve done a peanut butter cookie dough cake, a chocolate malt cake, and a 100 Grand cake, but the Snickers cake by Brown Eyed Baker he chose this year was the best. So fun to make: salted caramel sauce! Nougat filling! But damn, it was delicious. Here’s another pic:

Snickers2

So what are you up to? Post below!