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Monday, December 22, 2008

food is good. even better when it's free.

on saturday, we headed down to manhattan beach for a holiday gathering with my folks and sibs. i was in charge of bringing something sweet, so i searched through my recipe file and settled on these super fabulous chocolate-peanut butter-krispy-marshmallow-bit-of-heaven bars. i decided to call them "happy bars" instead, because that's how those ingredients make me feel. i'm always bookmarking yummy-looking recipes, but have to wait for the right occasion to try them out - otherwise, i'd weigh about a gazillion pounds from eating all of my creations myself.

i followed the instructions, including the suggestion to use a smaller pan, and regretted it as soon as i realized it was taking forever and a freaking day to get the first layer fully baked. i also noticed that my poor pan was going to be totally overflowing by the time i got to the third and final layer of goodness. ugh. but i forged ahead, spreading the marshmallows on top of the brownie-ish cake and popping it in the oven to melt. once the last layer (chocolate and peanut butter melted together, plus rice krispies cereal) was slathered on, i popped the whole pan into the fridge and went to bed.

the next morning, i wrestled a bit with the pan (which must've weighed ten pounds, btw), trying to get the whole shebang out in one piece so i could slice it into bars. what a pain in the fucking ass. the hub laughed his ass off as i struggled, and he's lucky i didn't throw that shit at his big ass head. finally, i was successful, and i placed the cut bars onto a plate. i handed one to the hub to taste, and as he took a big bite and chewed, i was alarmed at the faces he was making.

"what?? what's wrong with them?"
"you're going to bring these and serve them to people? they taste kinda...burnt."
"are you serious? oh, shit! i don't have anything else i can bring. we'll have to go to the store..."
"no, i'm totally kidding. they're really, really good."


when we finally arrived (having stopped at the grocery store anyway, to make that wonderful brown sugar brie appetizer), i laughed my ass off as i saw this arranged decoratively on the tray of appetizers that my sista and mista sista brought.

obviously, my sister reads my blog. heh. and don't think for a second that i didn't snatch that packet of salty goodness up and stick it in my bag before we left.

i couldn't tear myself away from the snacks - olive tapenade and herbed cheese spread. i ate and ate and ate some more, until i managed to completely kill the entire package of crackers they'd brought. i'm so ashamed. but i got over it fast.

sadly, my brother and o had managed to catch some kind of nasty flu, so they wisely stayed home and slept it off. i hope they're feeling better.

anyway, it was a fun time, with lots of eating, laughter and catching up. after the hub and the bean got back from their walk on the beach, it was time to do our gift exchange. we'd decided not to exchange "regular" gifts this year, but instead opted to trade framed pictures of ourselves from the last year. this way, everyone has updated pictures of each other, and i think we may make it a new tradition.

as we got on the road, the hub and i realized that we were both hungry again. yeah, shut up. as we waited at a red light near the newish plaza at el segundo, i noticed a sign that announced "the counter, coming soon!" i've heard lots of great things about this place, and so i pointed it out to the hub, who turned right into the entrance. we were happy to see that all the lights were on, with a good number of folks already inside. a parking spot magically opened up for us right in front, and i was excited.

as we walked up, a smiling staff member opened the door for us and said "hi, welcome to the counter! do you have a reservation?"

my flower wilted immediately. "uh...no. do we need one?" [big, dazzling smile]

another dude, who looked rather managerial, came over and said "we're not actually officially open yet - tonight is just a staff training party. but let me see what i can do."

after conferring with the girls at the host's podium, he came back and asked "will you need a high chair?" YAY!

but here's the kicker: as we got settled, our server came to introduce himself, handed us the menus, and said "so as [insert managerial dude's name here] said, we're having our training party tonight. it's to give us and the kitchen kind of a rehearsal - and so your entire meal is comped. here's a list of the guidelines for what's available."

brakes screeched in my head. i did the confused puppy-dog head cock AND involuntarily practiced my "smell the fart" acting. but i quickly masked my glee/confusion/elation with a smile and asked politely for a glass of water.

as soon as he walked away, i looked at the hub. "did he say what i think he just said?"

"uh-huh. do you have cash? we should probably leave a nice big tip." ha!

i never would have thought so, but fried dill pickle chips with apricot sauce are DELISH.

and my 1/3 pound beef burger with caramelized onion marmalade, tomatoes, and pickle chips on a honey-wheat bun was yummy too. the hub had a chicken burger with sweet bbq sauce, grilled peppers, and caramelized onions. shockingly, i enjoyed my sample bite of that, too.

i washed it down with a cold, creamy chocolate malt. mmmmm.

i'm still trying to decide whether it was really, really good because it just was, or because it was wonderfully free. gratis. complimentary. no charge.

know what i mean?


  1. oooh! what an awesome thing to happen! way to work it! at the state fair here, I ALWAYS have to have fried pickles with ranch dressing. ohhhhh the tastiness.....

  2. CBB is unbelievably peeved at your good fortune with The Counter.

  3. I went today, so there! ;) Those pickle chips are strangely wonderful, like 2 chips in and I was hooked. They did a crappy job with their "grand opening" I told a friend that it was open and she didn't believe me! And sadly, I had to pay for my food *grumble*

  4. I PPH the Counter. It's worth paying for, fo' sho. I missed the month when the milkshake flavor was CHURRO, but I did make it there for the Cherry Pie Shake. Mmm...

  5. so jealousEEEEEEEEE.

    mmm. counter. yum.

  6. I can't believe that you have already eaten at the counter and for FREE. I. AM. SO. Jealous.

  7. the counter is the bomb! even better that it was freeeeee! :)

    btw - line the pan with parchment next time. makes getting brownies and such out of a pan in one piece easy peasy!

  8. Wow those bars look so good! I use to be on the knot boards while planning my wedding. I kind of stopped going on there about a year after the wedding due to being layed. Which left me without constant computer access. I went back on not too long ago and found out about your blog. I took a look and was hooked. Your writing skills are great and you are freakin hilarious. I look forward to reading about your adventures. Ok, now I sound like a stalker. But I'm not. You can check out my knot bio under Monkees_Meow. The pictures got all small, I don't know why. I have read your blog archives and wanted to say a couple of things. First congrats on your beautiful family and awesome business. You and your husband seem to fit perfectly. Your daughters are vibrant like their mother. You are a rockin wife and Mom. With all that you have been through, you deserve happiness. Also it is here that I have found the fabulous blogs of WeezerMonkey and Nanners. Which I remember from the knot boards also. I guess I will out myself on their blogs and not lurk!!

  9. no, it is really good. even when you have to pay!

    I need to go before we head back to lithuania.

  10. The bars look fab!

    Have never been to the Counter...sounds like I am behind the times! :)

  11. First, hilarious usage of "butthole" once again. It cracks me up every time.

    Second, I felt your horror at possibly having messed up the treats you made. I was briefly horrified but Hubs made a funny. :)

    Third, free food usually tastes better, but I've heard good things about Counter. That is awesome luck!

  12. JealousE. I would have loved some free food.

  13. i love the birthday cake shake, but burgers are way overpriced


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