the squid & the whale

Dsc_5293Tonight I’m making a frisse (curly leaf lettuce) salad with sliced scallions, fresh organic cilantro, sunflower sprouts (I don’t know what they are, exactly, though they taste peppery), banana, avocado, and grilled calamari with a lime vinaigrette.  I’m grilling the squid beneath a aluminum-foil-wrapped-brick (we found in our community on our walk back from the pool).  Then I’m grilling up a piece of Hawaiian Wahoo, or something like that, and serving it with mango salsa, passion fruit-mango puree, and grilled banana.  The boys are having meat.  Slabs of it.  Steaks.  I was a vegetarian for nine years because, basically, steak does nothing for me.  Nothing.  I get phone calls from my sister, who lives in Montana (home of the Meat Sundae–a pile of meat, topped with baked beans and homemade coleslaw), saying, "Oooh, I need a good juicy steak, something bloody yet burnt."  I don’t like steak, but I love carcinogens.  I also *love* lamb, love like I walk around proclaiming that I’m going to marry it.  Later this week we’re having feta-mint lamburgers on whole wheat buns.  I suspect cucumber might be good on there in lieu of pickles. 

Dsc_5322I know all this (what I’ll be eating for the week) because we spent the day shopping.  Central Market, which is like New York’s Fairway, the one uptown with the refrigerator/freezer room, except it’s, well, one hundred times better.  Though, I need to find some Peter Luger’s sauce.  I know it’s all sugar.  It’s also fucking good times.  And I haven’t been able to find it here in, what my New York friends now refer to as, Tex-ass.  Here they stick to their own.  Pride sauce.  Made in Texas.  I’m sure there’s a stamp with a star on it. 

I bought crapass drawers for our closet, since we officially have none.  The Rubbermaid ones that make me feel like I live in a dorm, but it is "just a closet," I remind myself.  Please.  It’s never just a closet.  This is the way I work.  If I don’t see it, I don’t use it.  So if clothing hides on a top shelf I cannot reach, chances are, I’m never wearing it.  It’s the same with the refrigerator.  "Why do you let shit go bad?" The Suitor used to say, holding up a half-used soggy package of pre-washed spinach. 
"Oh, I forgot it was there."  It’s the same thing with my arts & craft supplies.  "Well, you’re a grown up now," he said to me today, "so now, when you want to do arts & crafts, you can open the closet door, take out your boxes, and do it."
"Yeah, but I don’t work that way."  I need an arts and crafts station, a desk where you can store Prismacolor pencils and hand-woven ribbons. 
"Well, I don’t need to look at your stuff.  You talk about doing all these things, but you don’t do them."
"That’s because ‘those things’ are in a forgotten closet."  Why doesn’t he understand?  I’ve been this way my whole life.  We had a room, growing up, dedicated to arts & crafts.  Glue.  Paint.  Anything goes.  So what if that "room" was called "the basement."  It was refinished and lovely.  "How about this," I say.  "I’ll keep things in the closet for now, and I probably won’t use them, but it makes me feel good knowing they are there, and one day I’ll have an arts & crafts room, so I can use them.  ‘Cause then I’ll see them."  I love the sound of this.  It’s as luxurious as a present-wrapping room, with a station for folding and tape dispensers.  Even if this all happens in a basement, if it must, then so be it.  Guys get rooms with pool tables and bar tables for poker chips.  I want an arts & crafts studio room.  Big fucking deal. 

Dsc_5325"But Stephanie, that’s just a microcosm.  If it’s not the arts & crafts, it will be something else you need to have out and accessible. Like all your cook books.  You and I both know you’ll never use them all, yet you are taking up an entire counter with them, why again?"
Because there is nothing as comforting to me in this entire world than cook books.  It’s the first section I hit, each time I enter a new book store.  They are beautiful and make life exciting, yet groomed.  I will not part with seeing them.  It was hard enough having to relegate half of them to a shelf, above the refrigerator that I cannot reach without having to pull out a heavy ladder.  I roll my eyes.  "It will be something else next, Stephanie."
"So that’s my fear.  A house full of things you won’t put away."  I like to display books, in stacks, with a piece of coral on a shelf.  He thinks this is retarded.  I point this out to him in every design magazine.  He doesn’t care, whips out some quip about jumping off the Brooklyn bridge. 
"There are worse things to fear," I say.  Like a lifetime of rubbery squid, I think.  Or being married to a whale, I think just now as I suck in my stomach.  I will not eat the avocado after all.

View more photos here>> (Sorry, there aren’t that many yet, as I’ve been busy unpacking.  Arguing and unpacking.  "We discuss," he’ll correct me.  "We don’t argue."  Yes, yes we do.) 

Also, because so many of you asked, get your spice rack here.  I didn’t need the strip (but you can use it in your office too, loading up the canisters with paper clips and the like).



  1. Just reading that post made me hungry! I think my biggest problem with Manhattan is not being able to grill things. Fish, vegetables, meat, chicken, fish, even fruit sometimes with a little burnt crust – so good! Unfortunatly, though, this is a city with mountains of electric ranges – you can't even broil things efficiently!! Hope you're enjoying the south!

    and – ps – i doubt a slice of avocado will turn you into a whale. don't be a stres-face.

  2. Yes, it's a Wahoo fish. They're good! You're funny. And yes, Phil, like my husband, could care less what I show him from magazines of things I'd like to do. But he lets me do whatever and likes it all the same. When I clean, he makes fun of me by moving a little thing and wonders if I can tell he moved it. I bought our dining room furniture by myself and he likes it. We're on our way to a much needed 2nd honeymoon on Wednesday to Sanibel Island and I plan to eat lots of the good things you talk about. Oh, sprouts are great, they are our friends. You should grow your own…less chance of bacteria growing as in the markets. Talk soon.

  3. I like the book and coral look. You keep on with that! What good are those books if you don't know you have them?

  4. Ok, I have been holding back on saying that I think the suitor is irritating but, yah, I really think he is. You have two book deals with tv / movie rights sold. If you want a craft desk, you should be able to have one. In fact I think he should happily put it together for you.If you want cook books out, you should be able to do that. Food is such a big part of who you are. You loooove food! I know there must be good parts of him that aren't mentioned but the bad parts really make him sound like a jerk. Sorry ,JMO.

  5. My first-time post….but I had to write in. I'm totally with ya on the cookbooks. If they're not out, they're not enticing me to new creative fits of cooking inspiration, and then they're not doing me any good. Packing them away is just plain depressing. What's the point?

    Honestly though, in many cases, just looking at the pictures and reading the stories is enough for me…makes me feel warm & fuzzy and glad to be alive. And who cares if I never cook anything out of them, or if they rarely move from my counter? Just seeing them is a good thing. Food is culture and life, family and memory, sensuality and seduction and a zillion other things that I want to see and be reminded of every day. Same goes with the fridge–if I'm not totally stocked with the vivid living colors and scents of my local produce stand, life just feels emptier. There are few things more fun than thinking, planning, craving, and looking forward to the next delightful meal. Life only comes around once, so go big and live large (in whatever way that translates for you).

    No worries. It's all good.

    p.s. love your column. kudos

  6. I agree with your out-of-sight out-of-mind style. You want things neat but on view and accessible, otherwise they do not exist. I am the same way with my books – I like to see them even though I have read them and will not take them off the shelf. I also understand Phil's perspective though. For some people, having so much stuff out, even if it is organized, is like living in a loud tie. Have you considered a "portable office" or an "office armoir" as an alternative? That way, you could actually see a substantial piece of furniture and know that all of your goodies are in there…but it would still be hidden from Phil. Anyway, sounds like the new place is shaping up nicely….

  7. "If I don't see it, I don't use it."

    I TOTALLY relate to that. Why don't men understand that part of us??

  8. Not that you asked, but I really am "not a big fan" (and that phrase is a euphemism) of The Suitor, either. One poster recently said something like "Leave it to [whoever] to turn a little yelling into an anger problem," and maybe she's right. And hey, everyone's different, we relate differently, we love different things about different people. Maybe you two thrive on a certain level of tension. But the things you say this guy says to you just as a matter of course would wear me down really fast.

    A couple of years ago I was with someone who was…um, rude? Inappropriate? Hurtful? On a regular basis. He'd comment on my weight (5'10", 140 lbs), my clothes, make fun of me in front of people. When I felt my heart twisting, I'd tell myself I was being too sensitive, I should toughen up, I should beat him at his own game, blah blah blah. I just couldn't do it–I'm not like that. I ended up totally depressed and anxious and broke it off.

    I'm now with someone who's the complete opposite of that–he challenges me without hurting me, teaches me things without making me feel stupid for not already knowing them, and just generally makes me feel loved from head to toe. I feel like my heart is safe in his hands. It's night and day. Knowing what *this* is like, I can't believe I ever settled for rude guy (after rude guy after rude guy). I hope Phil is more like the good guy than the rude one, that he makes you feel loved to your core more often than he makes you want to wring his neck, that he makes you feel like your heart is safe in his hands.

    And that he gives you a freaking break on the art supplies and the cookbooks. If you made food like that for me, I'd let you keep cookbooks anywhere you wanted to, baby.

  9. oh my gawd, you make me want to eat a fresh salad with lime-drizzled squid! Damn, I'm hungry now. Thanks for updating the blog … missed you there for a little while, though I know you are busy unpacking and such. As for the Suitor … I like him. Your enthusiasm for him is contagious, I guess.

  10. oh my goodness .. you are a walking, talking me .. in this area at least. My husband and I have the same conversation(s) .. he doesn't understand why some things (most things for me), put away, are so easily forgotten … good thing my kids don't ever play in the closet :o)

  11. i love rooms dedicated to one thing only. growing up i had a "dress-up" room that was bursting with ancient dresses and crazy scarves and shoes, it was the greatest fun. so, needless to say, an arts and crafts room sounds perfect.

  12. I agree with Lulu… I too was in a relationship in which I was consistently having to justify my every move, I was constantly criticised and made to feel small. Thankfully I am now with someone who never wants to 'discuss' (read: criticis) my quirks and loves me completely for me. Our relationship is passionate without negativity.

    Since your post on the 'what would you do if i talked to a girl in a bikini' incident I have to brace myself before to click into your blog. It brings back memories of a very unhappy time.

    You're great Steph! But are you really happy with him?

  13. Ok. Haven't even read the post yet. But.

    (1) I'm jealous;
    (2) I think it's time for me to go somewhere green. (Asphalt loses its appeal after a while.); and
    (3) If this doesn't help put the 'why'd you leave' to rest…nothing will.

  14. Hi Stephanie,

    I had to laugh…I had these same "ahem discussions" when I moved in with my husband…now my kids are in preschool and I save and frame and post a lot of their art work…so the latest discussions are, "do you have to archive or display every piece of art created by these kids…I think it is an illness…why does our home have to look like Barney's Playhouse"

    I love your new place…enjoy! Moving is so stressful…upheaval of your life and personal possessions…once you guys can set everything up, I think you will be a lot more relaxed…

  15. "He thinks this is retarded." Retarded? You're a writer and you can't think of a better word than one that equivocates your boyfriend's superficial opinions with people with serious mental disabilities? Would you have written "he thinks this is gay" just as easily? Did people in high school ever point out something stupid and say "that's so Moose?"

  16. Alright, a new post! I have been watching for one. It is fun to keep up with you as you discover Austin and create your place in it. Let's meet at 360 again for coffee and girl talk if you are up for it. Also I want to invite you and the Suitor to my party this Friday at 7 p.m. Aside from socializing and having fun with friends, I want to introduce the new products with a short presentation. It will be fun, I promise. No obligations other than to enjoy ourselves. Will you come? Imagine the people you'll meet!

  17. I agree wholeheartedly with 'o'. For those of us who support the rights of the developmentally delayed, the word 'retarded' is quite offensive. Please consider 'people first' language in your writings – there are millions of people who will appreciate it.

  18. Where, oh WHERE did you find those AWESOME magnetic spice canisters? I immediately googled them and found a similiar systme with an easel. Is that it? I love them!!!!

  19. I love the way you describe food. I don't like squid but you make me want to eat it anyway! Those fridge magnets look sleek on the stainless steel fridge…what are they and do you know where to get them??

  20. It would be nice if you would omit the word "retarded" from your post. I can't ask you to, it would just be nice.

  21. You're surroundings look lovely! Enjoy the fun of exploring a new place and setting up house with your guy! By the way, I am stumped, I too have a stainless steel refrigerator and wonder how you have magnets sticking to it??? It don't work that way here in NJ…I have to tape everything to the front!?!

  22. Sundry-

    The books must be a Mars/Venus thing. My wife has more cookbooks than I see home-cooked meals. I don't care if I get a meal, because she's busy, but then why the cookbooks? And I can't tell you how many times I see things go to waste in the refridgerator, sometimes unopened. Maybe it's my upbringing, but I almost never buy anything that I won't be using almost immediately. OTOH, there is almost no point in discussing it. The extra cookbook and the wilted lettuce is not going to bankrupt us. She gets what she gets, and I gets what I gets.

    And I like Peter Luger's sauce, and as NYer, I naturally feel everything NY is better than anywhere else. But you're in Texas now. There almost has to be something as good or better than Luger's.

  23. Hey, Steph. I haven't posted in a while. I've missed a few of your more resent posts so I've been catching up and felt compelled to write. You are immensely talented and such a warm and nurturing person. I realize that I don't "know" you but that is the sense I get from your blog. I know that no one is perfect and this is just my opinion but your boyfriend is a real tool. I don't see that he is at all support of you and he certainly appears to be very condescending and controlling of you. In a previous post, you mentioned that he yelled at you about your driving until you cried, twice in one week! Imagine one of your girlfriends telling you that story, what would your advice to them be? Ya know, Stephanie, emotional abuse is just as damaging as physical abuse. Any form of abuse is most certainly a deal breaker. So, girlfriend, get your butt back to New York where you belong and where you have friends and family that love you. Besides, who leaves Manhattan? Don't tell me you don't miss the culture, shops, nightlife etc…..

  24. 1. Agree with other commenters re: "retarded" and "retard", which I saw lobbed at a dissenting commenter a few posts back.

    2. My stainless fridge won't hold magnets either, but our stainless goes all the way around, so that may have something to do with it (freestanding fridge).

    3. The main issue I see, in looking at all the photos, is that you literally have one rather small area of counter space now. Your counter space is pretty limited already. You used both counter and fridge space for books about cooking (and crystal, which looks really out of place to my eye), but left yourself little practical room in which to actually cook.

    4. Can you and what's-his-face compromise? A craft corner in the bedroom, perhaps?

    5. Otherwise, looks great.

  25. Stephanie ~ This is the way my Armenian grandmother prepared lamb: Go to the butcher and have them cut the leg into kebabs. Marinate the kebabs in extra virgin olive oil, freshly chopped parsley, sliced yellow onions, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. It must sit overnight! Skewer them up (this should be done over a charcoal grill) and then serve them over a bed of freshly chopped raw onions with a big bowl of pilaf. :)

  26. Stephanie, found your blog by way of my boyfriend who mentioned it because you two went on a date way back when (I don't think you two hit it off :)).

    Anyway, I've been reading avidly for a while, but didn't really know whether I liked you or not. You've won my heart with this post though. I too, love everything lamb. Love it, love it, love it. I too love to have my arts and crafts stuff out all over my little NYC apartment. If I don't see the knitting, I won't finish the sweater! I totally understand your issues. One of the greatest things about my ex-husband was that when we lived in our Westchester house, I had an arts and crafts/sewing room, and he never came in it or commented on it. (Clearly we had some issues in our marriage, but he did understand the whole "I like to have my stuff out where I can see it" need.) Your needs are valid. I like the way you stick up for yourself. Keep it up.

  27. Wow those pictures are beautiful! I didnt realize Texas was hilly. Your house looks like a castle and youre decorations are really pretty. I love hearing about what you cook. I really want to eat things like lamb and squid, but for some reason I cant bring myself to do it, which is wierd because I used to be a chef. Youd think Id have a more sophisticated palate than that. Oh, I just had an idea. You should write a cookbook one day! I love cookbooks too and I let spinach rot in the refrigerator too. In fact, pretty much every other woman I know is the same way.

  28. wow…2 Armenians in a row! Thats a rarity. Amy pretty much summed it up. I am salivating at all of this. Especially the view. CONGRATS~

  29. hello stephanie-
    frequent reader but first time responder…..i first linked up to you as a newly divorced young jewish girl in nyc, when i thought i was the only one, of course…your insights and rebounded life truly inspired me. you write exactly how i think, i'm just not creative enough to make it sound as good as you can!i miss your new york blogs, and "knowing" the places you referenced, but certainly admire your bold move to TX. how does linus like the new place? i've heard city dogs can go into suburban shock…best of luck with the remainder of your unpacking, i hope

  30. I'm sure he has some endearing qualities, but dude totally sounds like an asshole. My guy's approach to the house is "whatever it is that you want, my dear" – he knows if I'm happy, so is he. It's a basic approach to understanding women.

  31. Mmm, food porn. I love to read about that, especially sprinkled in with a few expletives. Nice post.

  32. Guys, give Stephanie a break. Have you considered that we haven't seen everything there is to see about the Suitor? Do you really think Stephanie would have chosen him if he didn't have startlingly wonderful qualities about him? It sounds like you all think she's chosen some buttmunch who only says insensitive things and argues, ahem, discusses things with her all the time. I think we've all learned that Stephanie is an outspoken woman, able to stand on her own. And I trust that if she chose to be with this man, and move halfway across the country with him, that there is more to him than we now or could ever know. So, get off her back!

    Stephanie, I love the food combinations you come up with. I wish I was half as talented, hell a 10th as talented in the kitchen as you are. I'm happy you are making a nice life for yourself down there.

  33. I can relate to the cookbook obsession.
    What are you favorite cookbooks?

  34. Do you realize how far you have sunk?? You make fun of other people, then you post photos of your grill, your flat screen TV, etc. Are you defined by your stuff? Apparently so?

    Wake up SK. Your suitor will dump you and you will realize that moving (to anywhere) won't help fill your void.

  35. My 1st question was going to be is that a spice rack on your fridge. Oh you know us oh sooooooo well! LOL

    What fantastic views of Town Lake and the surrounding hills. Some of those homes are amazing!

    Oh, and you do what I do when 1st unpacking and that is to unpack and get the kitchen situated 1st.

    Happy settling in!

  36. When I got rid of the jack-ass husband and created my own nest – I found out just how wonderful it is to make all of the decisions…and to be in control of my own world – free of criticism and being pecked at. I hate being pecked at. My home is a peck-free zone…a safe place of comfort and happiness for the children and me, where we can thrive, struggle, grow, learn, and develop away from meanness – always knowing that, though we're not perfect, we're safe.

    On a different note, my favorite room in the house is my closet room – clothing racks all around the perimeter – a big dresser to hold all the underthings, and my 60+ pairs of shoes in the closet. *That* is bliss.

    You're making the money, hon – maybe he should live in the garage. And learn to be grateful to have such a woman as you – I think you're fantastic.

  37. Don't tell me you bought a gas BBQ grill…!
    Chef like you should know better that charcoal grill tastes 1000 times yummier…

    I love your place by the way.

  38. Stephanie,
    Do you ever just make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or something simple? I feel like a lazy bum…I like pizza and pasta and sandwiches.

  39. I love your new kitchen and I'm impressed that you already have window planters (with flowers!) on your balcony.

    As for your Suitor . . . I don't know. What exactly are his redeeming qualities again? I don't trust any person – man or woman – who objects to the display of books.

  40. This is a diary of sorts. Some days I write about feeling miserable. I focus on the bothersome. That's when I write. Please don't take these Suitor posts to be the end all. He is a very sweet and loving man who makes me feel loved. I hate reading all these comments about what a tool he is. We disagree. It happens. We get into fights. I don't write about how he takes care of me, how he cooks for me, meets my needs, and lets me be me. I don't write about it because it happens every day. Give the guy a break.

  41. It's with relief I read your comment, I'm so glad to hear that he's wonderful. I'll put my protective mother, knee-kicking, high heels away.

  42. NeilP, how dare you use a term like "buttmunch"? For all of us buttmunch activists, it is critically important that you choose a more sensitive term. There are millions of buttmunches in this world, and they are human too.

  43. *sigh* I wish one, just ONE, of these nasty commenters would have a link to their own site so we could see all of the "offensive" and "politically incorrect" things they say on occasion. Seriously…calm down. :-(

  44. Amen, Stephanie. My own "Suitor" came across a journal and said thatif anyone read it, it would seem like we had the most miserable time together. I, too, write when when things are abnormal.

    And heaven knows, if anyone has ever had to move with a Suitor across country, well, its no picnic. Moving is stress which brings out the worst in everyone. Settle in, have a good cup of tea, and laugh with him at how silly it is that the reading public doesn't realize there are other parts of day than just what you put online.

    Thanks for all the great food porn and photos.

  45. If you wrote about how wonderful Phil is, people would complain that you got boring and domestic. Lady, you can't win, so write whatever you feel and let the disgruntled kiss your lily white butt :)

    I'm looking forward to visiting Austin in June. How I'm going to fit in househunting in the midst of all the eating I plan to do is beyond me. I can't even narrow down which zip code I want to live in yet! Too many houses to choose from. Sigh.

  46. Wow, what a spread! I seriously hope that your TV show survives the first script review, and goes into production…I can't bear your not being able to keep living with such a nice view.


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