Beer. It’s so easy, even a woman can make it.

Last Friday at work, the office hosted a potluck to celebrate Diwali. I brought naan. Homemade naan, no less, crafted by me that same morning out of yeast, flour, water, yogurt, and salt. I cooked it on a super-hot cast iron skillet, and I must say, it turned out pretty well. So well that two people independently asked me, “Did you make the naan, or did your husband make it?”

It’s a little hard not to find that insulting. Fair credit: my husband Ted is a genius baker who runs Batch 58, a local catering company that specializes in scones, lemon curd, quiche, and other tasty baked treats. But STILL. Their question brought back memories of Easter at my sister-in-law’s house a few years ago. 

Background: I’ve been brewing beer since 2001, with pretty good results. Sometimes terrific results, and occasionally less so (like the carboy that exploded when the babysitter was here), but overall, I like to brew and I definitely like to drink beer…it’s my hobby. It’s a fun science project in the kitchen. Somehow I manage to be female as well.

Clearly this guy was a dick. Although, honestly, I might say the same thing.

A couple of years ago, we were invited to a family Easter celebration. My husband’s sister’s husband’s sister’s husband (for real), who happens to be a network administrator at a large company whose name rhymes with “E-Kay”, was poking around the big iced beer tub on the kitchen counter. We’ll call him Jeff, because that is his name.

I happened to be standing nearby while he perused the available bottles, and came to the large brown one with no label.

Jeff: “Do you know what this is?”

Me: “Oh, I brought that. It’s one of my home brews.”

Awkward pause.

Jeff, tilting down chin and using the tone one uses with a fibbing 3-year-old: “Lisa. Did YOU brew the beer, or did TED brew the beer?”

Me (in my head): “F**k you. F**k you and your outdated assumptions, and your freakishly blond family. Yes, women can brew beer, and vote, and build websites, and run companies. Didn’t you ever watch ‘Free to Be, You & Me?’ And by the way, no one else has worn a pager since 1997. The network will survive without you.” (It’s possible that I was a teeny bit fired up.) 

Me (out loud): “Yes, Jeff. I made the beer.”

But since then, despite being exceptionally irritated at the time, I’ve gotten so much mileage out of telling that story that it was totally worth it. Apologies to my sister-in-law if she reads this…it was a lovely event.


I guess this was before the Michelin Guide covered San Francisco

Last weekend Ted and I went through a few bookshelves at home in an attempt to lighten the load and get rid of books we’ll never read again. The easiest place to start was the cookbooks.

I came across one called “San Francisco a la Carte,” published by the Junior League of San Francisco in 1979. It bills itself as “An award-winning collection of over 500 recipes reflecting the culinary diversity of the Golden State City.” Keep in mind, the Bay Area is known to be a mecca for innovative, truly excellent food, and as far as I know, that was also true in the ’70s. Apparently none of that excellence made its way to the Junior League, because here are a few of the gems I came across in the book:

Veal and Water Chestnut Casserole (Yes. I’ll wait while you go throw up.) 

Ham Loaf (Starring ham, milk and breadcrumbs.’Nuff said.)

Cable Car Tuna Casserole (Featuring canned tuna, mayonnaise, and the ever-versatile cream of celery soup.)

Parsley Soup (WTF? 3 cups of parsley with chicken stock, soy sauce, and half-and-half, garnished with — you guessed it! — more parsley.)


And this may be the worst idea I’ve ever heard: Banana Rumaki. I can’t resist including the actual recipe.

Bananas = good. Bacon = good. Curry = good. All 3 together = food poisoning. 

You start by boiling the bacon…wait, what? Who BOILS bacon? And for the love of all that is holy, who takes watery, half-cooked bacon, wraps it around green bananas, and shakes curry powder on it? The same brilliant hostesses of the Junior League who also propose that you delight your guests with this treat: 

Attractive to whom? Maybe if “that small group” has come straight from the cannabis farm…

There’s really not much wrong with the title. “Stuffed Gouda?” Okay, I can get behind that. Good plan. The problem here seems to be in the execution. Admittedly, the ingredient list is rather straightforward, and doesn’t require a lot of forethought. It’s possible I just might have this stuff in my house when unexpected visitors swing by. (Well, sherry, anyway.) But any recipe that instructs me to “pile the cheese back into its shell” does not sound like something I want to make for people I actually like. So if you stop by our house one night and I offer you a fluffy, boozy, processed cheese ball, you may want to consider texting first. 

Stay tuned for the next installment, featuring “Carob and Honey Pie,” and “Borscht Jelly Salad.” Maybe we should have a dinner party of dishes made exclusively from this book, and see who our real friends are. 🙂 


How Many Lisa Garveys Does It Take To Change an Email Address?

In September of 2004 I received an early invitation from Google to set up a Gmail account; they hadn’t yet launched the service. It said “Gmail is still in an early stage of development. If you set up an account, you’ll be able to keep it even after we make Gmail more widely available and as one of the system’s early testers, you will be helping us improve the service through your feedback.” I accepted the invite, created an account, and I’ve been a fan of Gmail ever since.

I’m also an email hoarder and rather unorganized, so I have all of my email going back to 2004. (For those who really want to judge me, the current tally of unread messages in my inbox is 27,492. Sorry if something you’ve sent is in there.) 


Apparently I wasn’t feeling very creative the day I registered my account — I chose “lisagarvey@gmail.com.” Which has been great for most things, including making me appear professional when I need to. (Side story: one day at my doctor’s office, they asked for my email address, and when I told them, my doctor said, “Oh, that’s how I can tell you’re a grown-up. Most of our patients have something like ‘dancinggirl22.'”)


The problem is that I’m not the only Lisa Garvey in the world, and it seems that most of the other ones THINK their email address is “lisagarvey@gmail.com.” I’m not sure how people constantly get their own address wrong, but I’ve learned a ridiculous amount of personal detail about these other women who share my name. I’ve also formed some opinions, so please allow me to share some advice. 


An Open Letter to the Other Lisa Garveys


To Lisa, the realtor in Arizona: I replied “yes” on your behalf to the company Christmas party. The first 3 years I politely declined, but then I figured you probably ought to attend. That house on Tilman has been on the market too long, probably because all of your incoming “request a showing” leads are coming to me. Oh, and the title report came back clean for the listing on Front St. Stop reading “Cosmopolitan” — it’s just junk. 


To Lisa in the UK: Sorry to hear that you lost your job. I hope they also notified you some other way. Your sister sounds like quite a bitch, based on her messages, but she probably just wants what’s best for the family. And stop borrowing money at 35% interest rates — those overseas banks are just milking you. Oh, and Colleen told Skip the truth about why you and Pam didn’t to go the concert that night. 


To Lisa, the grad student in Rhode Island: That must have been a hell of a Greek Week party at your cottage for them to send a nastygram to the entire rental community. Next time please ask your landlord to include some pics! Also, your second semester deposit was due last week. 


To Lisa in Colorado: You’ve missed several appointments with Meineke to get your brakes fixed. It’s dangerous to drive a car in that condition! I’m glad to see that your daughter’s grades have improved since last year, but her teacher says she’s still struggling in Science class.  You may want to look into getting her a tutor. 


To whichever Lisa is gambling online at the Dubai Palace: Look, I love slot machines too, but it seems like you’re just wasting your money. 


To all of you: please provide your contacts with your OWN email address. Maybe you can write it down on a little card that you keep in your wallet.


No one told me it would be this hard

 

If everything is going the way it’s supposed to, why am I so sad?

When “Toy Story 3” came out, I watched it with the kids, who were about 13 and 10 at the time. In the scene when Andy, the fictional kid in the movie series, was going off to college, I cried. It wasn’t one of those wiping-away-a-discreet-tear moments…I full-on cried. The kids did not get it.

Them: “Mom, what’s wrong?”

Me: “He’s going to college.”

Them: “That’s a good thing. He’s supposed to go to college.”

Me: “I know, but his mom is going to miss him.”

Yesterday we moved Jack into the dorms at Cal Poly, and today we took him out for breakfast, bought some supplies at the bookstore, and then said goodbye. That was 8 hours ago and I still haven’t recovered.

I’m pretty sure they were just babies like, a year ago.

Well, he grew up, damnit.


It’s only a 3-star spatula

One day last year, my parents were visiting. My mom and I were in the kitchen, and she casually said, “Oh, honey, I keep meaning to ask you: are you the ‘Lisa G’ who commented on my spatula review on Amazon?”  In that moment, several things ran through my head:

  1. Are you f***ing kidding me? I have a stressful exec job at a tech startup, two teenage kids, two dogs, two cats (okay, the cats take zero effort on my part, because Ted usually picks up their poop, but they add to the impact here), and a house with a massive water leak, such that the boys taking showers upstairs sends sheets of water down my living room window. For the record, I never would have noticed the leak, except that we had moved the kegerator into the living room for the annual holiday party, and when the kegerator got wet, I got suspicious and started investigating. My first method of investigation was to look up at the living room ceiling, which had a large wet brown ring about 6′ in diameter. Obviously, the living room doesn’t see much action. The funny thing is that my solution to the leak was to make the boys start using the downstairs bathroom, and to move the kegerator back over by the kitchen. That was last December. Plumber referrals welcome.

    Well, they do look nice.

  2. Who writes spatula reviews on Amazon? Even more amazingly, who COMMENTS on other people’s spatula reviews? There are really only two angles one could take: either “Oh, yes, that previous reviewer is spot-on. This spatula went ’round the edges of the mixing bowl flawlessly, time after time, and it cleaned up well in the dishwasher,” or “I don’t know why this person would write a good review. They must be friends and family of the company making the spatulas. This spatula is a piece of sh*t.”  In any case, how can one spatula impact your life so much that you need to document it publicly?
  3. Is this my same mother who has been extremely busy for the past four decades? When I ask her how she’s doing, her first response is always “Busy! We’re going out with Neal and Deanna tonight, and tomorrow I have two doctor appointments, and on Thursday I have my volunteer thing in the morning, and then the ladies are coming over to play ‘Hand and Foot,’ and then on Friday…”, etc. So this whole spatula-review-plus-comments-situation makes me want to crumple up my face like Colombo and start asking the hard questions. “In fact, you aren’t that busy, are you? Did you or did you not find time to get a pedicure last weekend?”  Eventually she’ll have to crack and admit that she sometimes puts her feet up and leisurely leafs through Sunset Magazine.
    (Mom, if you’re reading this, please know that you’ve earned the right to relax! You worked your ass off for 40+ years. No one is judging you for sneaking in a little downtime. Unless, of course, you spend that downtime reviewing spatulas on Amazon — then I’ll judge the crap out of you. 😉

I think what I actually said was, “How funny! Nope, must have been a different Lisa G.”

Postscript: Clearly I am in the minority on this topic. I just went looking for a spatula photo to accompany this post, and the one I happened to click on is a spatula with 5,042 reviews. Over FIVE THOUSAND people took the time to write about it. Sorry, Mom!


Really? He’s in charge?

I found this rant in my drafts folder, written in mid-2016. Guess I should have posted it earlier.

(“if a picture paints a thousand words…”)

Ladies, Donald Trump is every asshole you’ve ever met.

The privileged, cocky frat guy who spiked your punch with Everclear in college, the sexist boss who tells you that you’re more productive wearing pencil skirts, the guy who asks all the questions after a speaker is done, the guy who cuts in front of you at Starbucks, the neighbor kid who sets off fireworks at 5am (3 weeks after the 4th of July), the head of HR who’s secretly a dick, the head of product marketing who’s blatantly a dick, the guy who parks in the 30 minute zone all day, the construction guy who says “ayyy, mamacita!” when you walk by, even though you’re 45, the guy who works at the bookstore who asks you if you’ve gained weight, the asshole who broke your best friend’s heart in college, the bigger asshole who broke YOUR heart in college (god forbid they’re the same asshole),  the swim coach who didn’t put you in the finals, despite a slightly better time in your 50m freestyle, the Comcast guy who installs your wireless network with way too much proud detail, the snarky guy at Thursday night karaoke who is weirdly attached to performing “You Can’t Touch This.”

In short, AVOID HIM. And for the love of God, do not put him in charge.

Well, *I’ll* say it

Hey, J Crew. Apparently no one in your organization is brave enough to say this, but I’m feeling honest, so here goes: THIS LOOKS STUPID.



Yeah, I bought it. What’s your point?

I’m usually pretty good at spotting ridiculous things — in fact, I delight in it — but some reason, when I first came across the TaTa Towel, my first thought was: “I need that!” Perhaps I imagined it would be supportive, or at least presentable outside the confines of my bathroom, but let me tell you, it is neither of those things. Not even close.

Yes, I should have realized how silly this is.

For maximum discretion and subtlety, I selected the “magenta/heather gray” color combo, because, hey, it’s reversible!  Why, one might ask, is this thing reversible? Am I going to wear it day after day without washing it? Am I going to trick dinner guests into thinking it’s a different TaTa Towel than the one I was wearing last Saturday?

Even my husband, who generally is fond of me and has never complained about seeing me in undergarments, was like, “Um, honey, please don’t wear that.”