A Toast-y Weekend

Since this weekend has been full of a lot of work, catching up on things around the house, and financial planning… I’m pretending like it is still last weekend, when the Toasts were in town and I joined in on … Continue reading

Pulpo and Toast

The Toasts are in town! Just for the weekend.  Steve is mostly working.  Brad is mostly working.  I, too, am mostly working.  But Sarah is here to relax.  And in the hours that I am not working, I will be … Continue reading

Thanksgiving to Friendsgiving

This year’s thanksgiving wasn’t really typical, but it sure was long. About half way through the almost week long celebration, my stomach just started hurting. Not upset, hurting, but more just hurting.  Like it was yelling at me, “No more!”.

Why, you ask?

Day One:
Actual thanksgiving. We started the festivities by FaceTiming the Bylsma/Shurtleff clan back east and even participating in the traditional shot or two of whiskey that comes along.  Thanksgiving with my family one of the things I miss most about being back east, so it was great to see their faces and to be in that kitchen, as confusing as it was, for just a little while.

Brad had to work so Steve, Sarah, Suzi and I went in to eat our feast with Brad at Fords. Ever been to a restaurant on Thanksgiving? It’s freaking weird. I was thinking about “The Christmas Story” scene the whole time when they are in the Chinese restaurant on Christmas. Although our food was absolutely Thanksgiving appropriate, it was stupid expensive. That, however, is an issue I’m not going to get started on… The food was delicious with good company and I’m really, really glad we could bring a little holiday cheer to Brad’s workday.

Day Two:
This was Black Friday. Feast at our apartment with Steve and Sarah. Espresso and Vanilla Bean rubbed rib roast, brussel sprouts, sweet potato spears, mashed potatoes, braised greens, cranberries… Amazing. And this is all after walking around Montana Ave on Black Friday and stopping in to R+D for appetizers and drinks. We had to all cook a feast together at least once while we were together. That’s just what the Mathews and the Toasts DO!

Day Three:
Ok, I worked Saturday, but I was training so I got a free meal. Ate way too much. Ugh. This was the first day my stomach started hurting…

Day Four:
Toasts get back from San Diego. I get out of work early. We make shredded chicken tacos. We all eat a disgusting number of burritos and of course, we have a bottle of wine or two.  Then we make “deconstructed apple pie” with pigs and crabs cut out of pie crust, a Jack Daniels Honey spiced sauce, and Jack Daniels whipped cream.  Um, AMAZING.  One of the best drunken desserts I have ever participated in.

Day Five:
I seriously couldn’t eat this day. The Toasts heated up leftovers before they left to drive back to San Fran, but I just ate a bite or two then had an orange. Stomach was painful this day.  Had to rest. Prepping for the next day’s feast.

Day Six:
Ok, picture this…

Three chefs, a turkey, a Guinness goose, lots of wine, thirteen friends, people in from Stockholm, three homemade pies, brûléed macaroni and cheese (That’s right, they took delicious Mac and cheese, added more cheese, then took out a torch and brûléed it. This really happened), Brad’s Brussel sprouts, my mom’s sweet potato banana casserole, and every other Thanksgiving side you could possibly imagine. “Friendsgiving”. Topped off with an impromptu piano serenade that just about made my night. It was swanky. It was fun.  And it was delicious.

Day Seven?
I feel disgusting. Full, happy, delicious, satisfied, jolly and disgusting.

I do not diet. I don’t really need to because I typically eat really healthy and I’m blessed with a good metabolism. Fruits, vegetables, yogurt, i love it. But after this past week of every type of fat and calorie and butter being pumped through my veins, I’m reminded of Padma from Top Chef. I read somewhere once that she enjoys every dish during the season, not caring about or counting the calories along the way, and then she goes on a crash diet as soon as filming stops to get her figure back.  No booze, no cheese, no junk.  Lots of exercise.

At this point I was considering fasting. I’d eaten enough food to feed a family for at least a month. Juice detox maybe? Too extreme? I’ll never get through it. I mean, I work in a restaurant. It’s not possible.

So I decided today that my compromise is that I will be eating super crazy healthy for the next week (or until I can’t stand it anymore). This meaning cutting out dairy and wheat as much as possible and sticking to lean meats, fruits, and veggies. And even in the twelve hours since I decided this, I’ve found it extremely hard. Especially with all of the leftovers we still have in the fridge. And a husband who loves ice cream and cookies…

Thanksgiving, why did you do this to me? Why did you last six days and four feasts?

It is not easy being a chefs wife. Not easy at all.

So now that it’s late and the salad I made for dinner obviously didn’t fill up my stretched stomach, I raided the pantry for healthy foods and found the goods to make myself a snack that I haven’t had in years.

Have you had ants on a log recently? Delicious!! And peanut butter and raisins are usually my go to snack on a piece of bread. On celery, they’re delicious and even more healthy. And I felt like I was four years old again.

I couldn’t quite tell, but I think even Gibson was jealous.

So I gave her a little bit of peanut butter. She’s too cute to resist.

We will see how long this lasts…

The Worst Day For Garbage Disposals

So back in October when I was in Maryland visiting my family and I attempted to write a blog a day for ten days, I was taking notes on anything that could possibly become a blog idea. If you sneezed and I thought it was interesting, I probably wrote that down. My mom at one point said she had to watch herself because anything she did could become “Key of Kels” material. It was true. I was often heard saying, “I might blog about that.”

One of these said notes was probably a piggy back conversation to our dish washing OCD conversation (see Bylsma Dishwasher Rules). We got to talking about garbage disposals. My dad had the quote that kicked it off.

“You know what the worst day for garbage disposals is? Thanksgiving.”


Other disposal words of wisdom?

  • Never put celery down there. It seems harmless, but it acts like string and just ties the blades in a big knot.
  • Always run water when it’s on. Cold water is best.
  • Sometimes I just fill up the sink after I use it a lot and let it drain through.

Yep. I think we had been drinking.

Now Brad did not grow up in a house with a garbage disposal. He is only starting to know the wonders of the machine. He told me that once, in Orlando, he was talking to one of his housemates about what was ok to put down there. His housemate started listing foods that were ok. Leftovers, egg shells (I don’t know if I agree with this one), cereal, even a whole pizza.

“Why would you want to put a whole pizza down the drain?” Brad said. Obviously, he would much rather EAT a whole pizza than pulverize it and flush it down the drain.

“I don’t know, but if you ever wanted to, you could definitely do it.”


I, however, have always had a garbage disposal. The only time I scrape my plate before rinsing it is if there are bones on it. Pretty much everything else is fair game.

Brad and I are still recovering from a really bad garbage disposal experience recently. In our old apartment, nothing worked all that well. Especially the garbage disposal. One night I was cleaning out the refrigerator and getting rid of food that had been sitting just a bit too long. I had some leftover homemade chicken noodle soup. Nothing in there can’t be ground up pretty easily, especially after sitting for a week or so.

But all of a sudden the water stopped draining. The disposal just whirred and hummed. The sink filled up with murky leftovers water. Then the other sink started to fill. Oh and THEN the dishwasher started to fill. And overflow.


We will just call this the Great Flood of Kansas Avenue, 2011. Not only was this disgusting, but it actually took two days for someone to come out and even attempt a repair. Imagine living with a chef for two days with dirty water coming out of your kitchen sinks and dishes you can’t easily wash.

To make matters worse, the guy the landlord sent over to snake the drain snaked right on through into the neighbors apartment and busted a hole through their pipes. This is when our property manager informed us that we shouldn’t even be putting lettuce down the drain. What were we thinking?  This was also when I informed Brad that I would be looking for new apartments ASAP.


So after all of that, you would have think we had learned. Our new apartment is amazing, but its still old. It was built in the 1940s. The piping wasn’t then what it is now. You just have to treat it with a little respect.

Which is why we should have known, last night, on our version of the “worst day for garbage disposals”, that it was not a good idea to put the potato peels down there. We should have known that the red reset button just wasn’t going to do the trick. And I should have known when I Googled clogged garbage disposal (trying to fix it before Brad came back in the kitchen and freaked out. He DID tell us not to put the peels down there…) it would come back and tell me that potato peels are the WORST thing to put into a disposal.

Well of course.

So we ate our incredible day after Thanksgiving feast with the Toasts (coffee rubbed rib roast, cranberries, sweet potato skewers, stuffing, braised greens…) and then made a few trips down to Walgreens for Drano and when that didn’t work, to Rite Aid for a plunger.

Brad said the girl in front of him in line was also buying a plunger.

Turns out Dad was right. Thanksgiving really is the worst day for garbage disposals. And I bet Rite Aid sold a lot of plungers yesterday.


World, meet Johnny Toast.

Turns out this character – who is in fact, a real person – came along with the package when I started dating Brad.  He hides in the Sig Ep composites between 1988 and 1992 that hang on the walls of a bar in Ithaca called ‘The Chapter House”.

And now he is a huge part of my life.

I learned early on in my relationship with Brad that he had a friend he called Johnny Toast.  I knew his real name was Steven, but he was in Brad’s phone as Johnny Toast and he was usually just called “Toast”.  And before I had been to Ithaca, Brad couldn’t explain the nickname to me.  He just swore he would just show me one day.

Doesn’t that picture just explain why you have to see it in person?

Maybe this one will give you some more information…

All of the other 1988 SigEps are completely normal 1988 Cornell University students.  Nice suits, nice ties, neat hair and a pleasant frat-boy smile.

Not Toast.

First of all, his real name is John Santos, but doesn’t go by that.  He is the only one on the composite with his nickname included and the only one rocking a mullet and those fly 1988 sunglasses.  He is just so FRESH!

Steven and Brad were immediately drawn to this fly mentor-from-another-generation and started using “Toast” not just as a nickname, but as a real way of life.  Words like “Toast-mostest” were added to their vocabulary.  I have Toast coasters (Toasters.  Serious.) in my apartment.  Toast became an icon among all who knew them.  How did he come to be so fly??

Believe me, we have done many a late-night intoxicated Google search to try and find out more about this man of mystery. You know, just to see where all that freshness got him.  And to see how much more fly he could have possibly gotten after graduation.  I bet he wears Louboutin slippers and a velvet robe and just smokes cigars all day.  And I bet he NEVER takes off his sunglasses.  I mean, just LOOK at him!

I wish they had Facebook back in 1988, because no one can find Toast.

My little sister, Nicki, has been to the Chapter House and knows all about Toast.  She can find anything online.  Stuff that I wouldn’t even know could be online, she finds it online.

Nicki couldn’t find Toast.

But one day she was at a coffee shop in Delaware where they happened to have a few old Cornell yearbooks laying around.  There he was – Mr. Toast – in the black and white pictures with his other Sig Ep brothers in a Delaware coffee shop.

My faith in Nicki’s searching abilities were restored with that picture message.

Sadly, I am lead to believe Johnny’s freshness didn’t last too much longer after his freshman year.  We don’t really like to admit it, but this picture of Toast hangs at the Chapter Room also.  It’s from 1991.

Still rocking that party-in-the-back hair cut, but maybe he was over the shades by ’91.  And what happened to the “Toast”?  Is this the more mature Toast?  More undercover?  Was it just cloudier that day?

We will never know.

We pretty much gave up our search when Steven’s mom, who works at Cornell, couldn’t even find him through alumni records.  And after Nicki’s failed Googling, we put our search for John “Toast” Santos on the back burner.

I think at one point we were looking to send him an invitation to our wedding.  I had probably been drinking when that decision had been made.  He never got his invite, but don’t worry, he was definitely there in spirit.  The boys made sure of that.  No mullets (or pants, apparently) required.