Quick Tuna Melt

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Time continues to make a fool of me, weeks rolling into one another with indecent haste. It’s really all I can do to try to keep up.

Last month, Mom, Bailey, and Dad came into town for my birthday. To make it even more special, Jonji was present for the first time in three years (his annual conference usually pulled him away). Arriving home from work to a full house was a lovely change, and after Bailey unintentionally acted as my hype-woman during dinner, I went to sleep feeling pretty good. On Saturday we went to Republique for brunch, which was a huge hit with everyone. Sipping on superb cocktails, we made quick work of some pastries, a baguette with butter and jam, and each of our prospective meals. Despite Jonji’s best efforts to convince us all to go home and nap afterwards, I insisted that we drive to Temescal Canyon Park for a hike before the sun went down. The first half was a steep incline, almost forcing us to be the Sam to Mom’s Frodo legs. But the view at the top was wonderful, despite the ever-present and unpleasant smog. We could see all the way to Downtown, as well as the bay stretched out before us. Plus, we got a picture of the elusive Jonji-hobbit, as evidenced below.

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Back at home, we sipped champagne and quickly prepared a feast of Corned Beef Hash and salad, having cooked the brisket the night before. Afterwards, I whipped up a new favorite dessert, David Lebovitz’s Salted-Butter-Caramel Chocolate Mousse, which Bailey says has the consistency of marshmallow fluff. We devoured the mousse while playing a few games of Bananagrams before, exhausted, turning in for the night.

Since early November, Jonji’s time has been consumed by residency interviews; I think he’s been home about 10 days total since he started the process. So it was that I woke up early on the morning of the 22nd, packed the cats into the car, and drove to Santa Cruz by myself for the first time. Jonji, having interviewed at Stanford and Davis during the previous few days, was up at his Dad’s for the holiday, so I drove straight to my parents’.

Once the cats were settled and I’d eaten something, Emma and Bailey surprised me with their secret plan to take me surfing. I hadn’t been in about fifteen years, so I was a little nervous to once again be faced with people aiming their floating, giant arrowheads at my face while I attempted to get out of their way. Being the day before Thanksgiving, there was a huge crowd at Cowell’s. We managed to maneuver our way through the hordes of people, my shoulders feeling like lead after only a few minutes. The water felt cool but not cold, and at no point did we get remotely chilled. The sky was shot with pink and purple clouds as the sun made way for the moon, and we floated over endless shimmering pastel waves. Bailey and Emma helped me time my paddling, but on most waves I was so tired by the time the wave reached me that I ended up just flailing like one of those dancing tubes you see at car washes. Finally, with a little extra push from Bailey, Emma and I caught one together and rode it, shrieking with glee and standing close enough to touch each other’s shoulders. After many more attempts and a few more successful rides, it was fully nighttime and we called it a day.

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Thanksgiving day dawned warm and sunny. We spent the morning at the gym, then took Pip to his favorite place, the forest. After that, it was all hands on deck in the kitchen—the Battle of Thanksgiving 2017 had begun. Matt and Bailey soon joined us, and Dad opened his mini bar. We sipped on excellent basil champagne cocktails while mounds of Brussels were chopped, cranberry chutney bubbled, and pie dough rolled. Matt spent what seemed like hours mincing pork fat, earning a special shoutout in the eventual toast. Dad and I came up with a new drink, the Whiskey Twist (Whiskey Sour minus the egg white with the addition of an orange twist), which we all fell in love with. Finally, we sat down to a glorious feast of stuffed turkey breast, mashed potatoes and gravy, Brussels sprouts, mushroom pâté, and salad. We all had the giggles, but Mom especially so, and she couldn’t stop cackling when Matt appeared to be way too full and yet, minutes later, came to the table with a full plate of seconds. The revelry continued, and as the night came to a close our total of broken glasses came to three. Eventually, pie and crumble were served, and soon after that it was time for bed.

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The following day we journeyed up to Uncle Gerald and Auntie Diane’s for the annual post-Thanksgiving hike. (They recently very generously offered their property for our wedding, which we are SO happy to accept! Now we’re even more excited for the wedding, which will be so much more relaxed and fun to have at a special place like that.) The hike was close by, so all the cousins piled into the back of Dad’s truck for the brief ride to the start of the road. It was a beautiful day, and the view of the bay and the forest-covered hills was absolutely gorgeous.

Jonji got back into town on Saturday, and soon afterwards Molly met us to shoot some engagement photos. We ended up a ways up the coast, where the sky was a luminescent grey-blue and the wind strong. I enjoyed myself as much as possible, considering that I hate posing for pictures, but it was a lovely spot and I was in the company of two wonderful people. I feel so fortunate that one of my first real friends will be such an integral part of our wedding, and it’s really a bonus that she’s so dang good at what she does. And speaking of Molly, congratulations to her and her wonderful now-husband, Jacob, on their recent marriage! It makes me so happy to see two people so clearly meant for each other find happiness together, especially when one of those people is one that I’ve loved since kindergarten. Anyway, here’s a little sneak peek:

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Since arriving back in LA, Jonji has been absent almost ever day. I felt the strain particularly last week, when I got in my car to go to work and it simply wouldn’t start. Trying to remain unfazed even though I was running late, I took Jonji’s car instead. On the way to work I stopped at the Post Office to mail a couple of packages and, of course, got stuck behind a very slow walker entering the one door to the facility. Holding back my frustration, I waited until I could squeeze past her and fast-walked over to the drop-off area, then found that it wouldn’t open. Resigning myself to the fact that I would have to wait in line, I ran back outside to put money in the meter. However, as I shoved the card into the slot, a giant spider waved it’s legs from inside the card slot and I instantly forfeited. You win again, spiders. Following the only logical next step, I drove my car to a nearby parking lot and returned, sweating and seething, to the Post Office to finally drop off the packages.

Fortunately, after having my car towed to a nearby mechanic later on in the week, it was found that I only needed new spark plugs. During one of my lunch breaks at work, I Uber-ed to pick up my car, drove it home, then Uber-ed back to work. What a week. Oh, and did I mention Babs had an eye infection that required eye drops three times a day? At least I had our mini Christmas tree, which we got because it was shaped like fluffy, chunky Babs, to look forward to at the end of each long day.

As evidenced by my extremely long hiatus from Feast, time has not been my friend lately. Dinners have been even shorter than usual, and leftovers feel like a gift. One of my favorite quick meals has been these tuna melts, made with a simple tuna salad, slices of bread and cheese, and a broiler. Served with a salad, it becomes a satisfying and full meal. For all you mayo-haters (and I don’t blame you; I used to be one), feel free to nix the mayonnaise and simply use olive oil or something with a mayo-like consistency. The tuna salad won’t be as cohesive, but it will still taste excellent.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give my mom a special shoutout today; without her excitement, love, and generosity, neither I nor this blog would be here today. Happy birthday, Mom! And just so you know, I do not miss the irony of posting the only mayonnaise-filled dish on this blog on the day the greatest mayo-hater was born. 

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Quick Tuna Melts
makes 3 open-faced sandwiches

1/2 small red onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1/4 cup mayonnaise, or to taste
1 tbsp mustard
1 tbsp olive oil, or to taste
freshly ground pepper
2 cans tuna meat
salt

3 slices sourdough or other hearty bread
slices of cheddar cheese to cover

Place the diced onion into a small bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit for 5 minutes, then drain. Mix the drained onion with the diced celery, chopped parsley, mayonnaise, mustard, olive oil, and plenty of pepper, and stir to combine. Drain the tuna (save the liquid for your cats if you have any) and stir into the other ingredients, being sure to break up the meat into small chunks. Taste, then add salt if needed.

Turn your oven’s broiler on. Scrape a little butter onto each slice of bread, place on a baking sheet, then broil for about a minute (watch carefully, you just want the bread to get a tiny bit crispy). Remove from the oven, pile plenty of tuna salad on each slice, then top with slices of cheese to cover. Broil for a couple of minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and a little crisp. Serve hot. Enjoy!

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