Black Bean Soup

This is a great detox soup for when you have eaten too much meat, too much bread, and too much wine.

It’s vegan, filled with fiber, and comes together in about 30 minutes.

Better than that…it acutally tastes like none of the above.

It’s rich and hearty and spicy and savory.

Not to mention crazy cheap.

That’s right…it’s black bean soup time.

Black Bean Soup

black bean soup Ingredients:

2 cans black beans, drained

2 cups low sodium or unsalted chicken or vegetable stock

1 onion, 2 cloves garlic, 3 big carrots, all diced

2 tsp. fresh or frozen ginger

4 jalapenos or 2 serranos en escabeche, chopped

2 tbsp. each cumin and coriander

1 tbsp. oil

salt and pepper to taste

cheese, sour cream, and cilantro to garnish

IMG_1791 1. Sautee the garlic, onions, carrots, and peppers in an oiled pan over medium high heat for about 10 minutes, or until the onions have turned translucent and the garlic has released its scent.  IMG_1795 You want the onions to brown and the garlic to turn golden but not too dark – no burning here! IMG_1820 2. Add the stock, seasonings, and one can of the beans. Turn up the heat to bring the mixture to a boil, then bring it down to medium and let it all cook under a lid for about 20 minutes, or until the carrots are super soft.  IMG_1828 3. Bring out that immersion blender and whirl it into a smooth paste – add more stock if necessary. Now, add the next can of beans and taste for seasonings.  IMG_1829 4. Serve with garnishes.

This looks like mud and tastes like home. Piping hot and creamy, with the kick coriander and the tang of those vinegary preserved peppers. I highly recommend that you de-veganize this by adding some creamy Greek yogurt and some sharp cheddar cheese. My better half perefers some sausage in this, but I think it’s perfect as is. It is so filling and tastes rich, but what is it, really? Some veggies and broth…that’s it!

It almost makes detox look fun.

Corn-Coconut-Lime Muffins

So sorry for the tardy posting…I could have sworn that I pushed “publish” yesterday, but I pushed “draft!” Have a delicious weekend, all!

These are some super easy muffins based on my favorite treat from Amy’s Bread - their lime cornmeal cookies. These cookies bridge the gap between sweet and savory. They are perfect for breakfast or a snack – I guess that you could eat them as dessert, but I certainly never have any left over after dinner.

These muffins are a tribute to those, made with a sample of Zico that I was sent.

Corn-Coconut-Lime Muffins

coconut lime corn muffins

1 package corn muffin mix, including whatever is needed to prepare the package

Zest of 2 limes

2 cups shredded coconut

Enough Zico coconut water to replace the liquid (NOT THE OIL!) called for in the recipe

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1. Prepare the muffin mix according to instructions. Replace the water with coconut water.

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2. Add the lime zest and shredded coconut.

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3. Put into greased muffin tins and bake according to package.

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4. Serve.

IMG_1750 This is so easy…like, almost criminally so. It’s just an easy mix that is doctored up with a few ingredients and BAM! – suddenly it’s some artisanal muffin. It could actually be sweet enough for dessert with a powdered sugar and milk glaze, but I like it as a muffin. It’s light and fluffy, with sticky shreds of coconut and that fragrant coconut water flavor. Lime’s essential oils are all in the zest, so using the zest infuses the batter with tart lime flavor without having to juice the lime. Replacing the liquid with coconut water cuts fat and adds such a delicate tropical flavor. The texture is a little crumbly, but slap some butter on one and you will suddenly forgive its structural defects. Whip these up and you will feel like you are in the tropics.

Or at Amy’s Bread…def one or the other.

BBQ Chicken and Cheese Crescent Rolls

I took my cue from this off of one of those stupid commercials where the family all plays football together in the picture perfect backyard, falls into a pile of leaves, then scampers off to the gleaming kitchen for a quick meal that mom whips up while wearing size 2 jeans and smiling the entire time.

Needless to say, we are not that family.

We are a family who has frozen chicken burgers in the freezer, a jar of bbq sauce in the pantry, and a can of crescent rolls in the fridge.

Don’t worry, I promise that I served a salad and some roasted carrots alongside.

BBQ Chicken and Cheese Crescent Rolls

Ingredients:

1 package crescent rolls

1/2 lb. of ground chicken burgers (if you just have ground chicken, add some chopped onions, herbs, salt, and pepper to the mix)

3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

3 tbsp – 1/4 cup bbq sauce

hot sauce to taste

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1. Sautee the chicken until it is totally cooked. Add the cheese and mix through until it’s melted.

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2. Add the bbq sauce and mix to combine. Turn off the stove.

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3. Take out the crescent rolls and preheat the oven per the instructions on the carton.

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4. Take a small dollop of chicken mixture and spoon it onto the widest part of the crescent roll.

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5. Roll the crescent dough over once, then put a smaller amount onto the next little triangle section of dough.

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6. Roll around to complete your little crescent! Repeat for all of the dough, and don’t worry if some come out a little wonky looking – that’s okay!

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8. Bake on a greased baking sheet until the dough is golden brown on top, then serve the buns topped with hot sauce and extra bbq sauce.

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These are wholesome guilty pleasures. The dough is basically a carb and preservative bomb, but the chicken is lean, the cheese is filled with protein, and you can always eat salad on the side. These are creamy, spicy, and tangy. They are best when served piping hot, but someone I know eats them cold out of the fridge for midnight snacks. These would be awesome for a big party, since they can be served room temperature and are hand held.

It’s the closest that we ever came to being a tv family.

Elle’s Kale Chip Commandments

I have this friend, Elle, who is kind of my lifestyle guru.

She just knows how to DO things well.

Which is why I should have known that she would teach me how to make kale chips. Her methods are straightforward and must be followed to a “T.”

The result is nothing less than crack cocaine.

And all that you need to do is follow Elle’s commandments:

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1. Thou shalt dry thy kale

Chips abhor moisture. No matter how great your oven is or how fresh your kale is, if the stuff isn’t dry, it ain’t gonna crisp. Elle carefully dries EACH leaf with a paper towel before she declares it good enough to bake.

2. Thou shalt not overlap thy leaves

Because she says that if even a little bit of the leaf is left unexposed to heat, it will stay limp and become mushy, ruining the entire chip. She says that the kale can be touching at the edges but not overlapping. You will have to do several rounds of baking since there’s a lot of shrinkage when they heat up.

3. Thou shalt drizzle, not pour, the olive oil.

Do that little hand back-and-forth hand shaky thing to get a few drops of oil on each leaf, then let it go. You don’t want to drown these puppies in oil.

4. Thou shalt salt well

Kale loves salt and needs it. Salt those suckers, and add some cayenne pepper if you feel frisky.

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5. Thou shalt bake at 350 F until they are almost black and smell delicious

About 20-30 minutes should do it.

6. Thou shalt eat like potato chips that break easily

Because these break all over the place and unless you have a dog to eat the crumbs, you’re going to want to take care.

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7. Thou shalt not save thy leftovers

Kale chips are salty and delicious when hot and soggy and sad when not.

8. Thou shalt make extras for me

Okay, I added that last part.

Minute Steak Salad with Goat Cheese and Pickled Onions

The minute steak is much maligned. People think that it is cheap, thin, and tough…a little like Tara Reid. BUT…if it is prepared properly, with a bit of acidic marinade and a VERY QUICK sear so it is left quite rare…it is cheap, thin, and divine. London broil for a fraction of the price – a perfect luncheon for one.

Of course, the way to do this the right way is to serve it on a crusty roll with sautéed onions, melted swiss cheese, and plenty of Tabasco sauce.

But, in the interest of using up the arugula in my fridge, I made it a steakhouse salad instead.

Salads are wonderful, even and especially in the winter. They can be a refreshing,filling, and – yes – even a little bit indulgent – ending to a day of eating cereal and microwaved burritos at work.

Minute steak salad with goat cheese and pickled onions

minute steak salad

Ingredients:

2 minute steaks (or 1 leftover flank steak, skirt steak, filet mignon…nothing too fatty)

1 bunch arugula, washed and dried

1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese (I love bucheron)

1 dash Worcestershire sauce

1 recipe pickled onions

drizzling of steak sauce

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1. Put the Worcestershire sauce and the steaks in a zip top bag. Marinate for 30 minutes or so.

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2. Put the stove on high and put the steak in a notstick skillet, or a one that is greased with a wee bit of oil.

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3. For small minute steaks, cook no more than 1.5 minutes per side. Remove them and let them rest so the juices redistribute.

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4. Cut the steak into bite size pieces. That color in the photo is ideal…no grayer than that.

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5. Put all of the ingredients into the salad bowl and eat immediately.

This is what makes minute steak good – quick cooking and complimentary side components. Warm steak, juicy and salty, softening the rough arugula and bringing out its slightly bitter tones. The onions are piquant and the tomatoes are soft and sweet. The goat cheese warms under the heat of the steak, melting slightly and releasing its tangy,savor flavor. The steak sauce is sweet and spicy – making this more of a meal and less of a salad. The important step is to eat this while the steak is still warm and that the steak be very rare so it’s still juicy even though it’s thin.

And, now…a slow clap for the minute steak:

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Roasted Bone Marrow

I have been craving meat lately  - minerally, fatty, juicy MEAT. In case you are too, I thought that I would repost this blog post, detailing how to make one of my favorite delicacies: bone marrow.

My friend Steve once described me as being a primal eater.  He says seeing me eat is like watching a lioness stalk, hunt, then devour her pray  because her life depends on it.  Those are his EXACT WORDS.  He says watching me eat sometimes scares him because I am so ravenous and full of gusto when I dine.  And that’s just when he sees me eat a turkey sandwich.   If he saw me eat this stuff, he would cry, pee his pants, and call his mommy. 

 Beef marrow bones.  You read that correctly-I love to eat the marrow of cow bones.  And veal, for that manner.  Hell, I’ve even done lamb.  And I have enjoyed every last one of them.  Do you like butter?  Hamburgers, olive oil, avocados, soft boiled eggs?  All of these things are reminiscent of the taste of marrow bones, and if you like those, you will like these.

 Ingredients:

Marrow bones, split legnthwise

Stock

Salt

Bread

1. Pour your stock into a large stockpot and bring it to a boil. 

 2. Add the marrow bones. You want to leave a couple of 6 inch bones in the stock for about 20 minutes-until the marrow inside the bones has turned slightly  yellow-y gray and less opaque-like this:

*Now don’t toss that broth!  You have just doubly fortified it by throwing the marrow bones in there!  It is now prime for making soup, stew, sauce, or eating as is with some warm bread.  Keep it in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze it in baggies and take it out when you want it!  Just DON’T THROW AWAY THAT LIQUID GOLD!*

3. Now throw these gorgeous bones onto a tinfoil covered baking sheet and pop it in the oven under the broiler for another minute or so – not too long at ALL! Just until it gets brown and your stomach rumbles and you get the intense feeling that you are becoming a primal beast

 

4. Needless to say, just tear into the bread when the marrow is ready.  Knives have no place in the primitive world.

 

5. Except, of course when it involves spreading this marrow on your bread.  Sprinkle each mouthful liberally with coarse sea salt.

Oh.

My.

Word.

(I was thinking of a wholly different phrase to describe this experience, but it was, though more accurate, also more R rated).

 

Meaty. Lucsious.  Silky.  Buttery.  Greasy.  Eluzive.  Rich. Full of veal flavor and aromatics from the broth. All too fleeting.  Divine. Like – too good to be real.  Like, the perfect primal snack.

Elsa Doll Cake Tutorial

This is the most ambitious baking project I have undertaken…well, ever. It was for a huge group of discerning people who have a lot of experience in this realm and are often quite blunt, if not downright RUDE about he food that they eat.

Of course, I’m talking about toddlers.

And an Elsa cake.

An Elsa from Frozen cake, in case you have been living under a rock and have (been blessed to) not heard the (for PETE’S SAKE, when will it finally lose popularity???) song (by Adele Dazeem) “Let it Go.”
20141017_113833 So you want to know how to turn this…

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Into THIS?

Well, here’s what you’re going to need:

1 Wilton Wonder Mold

2 8 inch cake pans (it’s ok if one is deeper than the other. I prefer to use springform pans)

5 boxes Duncan Hines Chocolate Fudge cake mix (other mixes may work, but this is the one that I used and trust not to collapse or dry out over 3 days.)

1 can baker’s nonstick spray (the one with oil and flour)

3.5 – 5 lbs. frosting, plus 1 small can white frosting. For the blue frosting, you can get blue or white and then dye it blue with food coloring. The industrial stuff is the best. You really want the super sugary, corn syrupy stuff that will harden and keep the cake soft and moist over the 3 days of making it.

Various snowy decorations, to include white chocolate buttons colored in different shades of white and blue.

1 turntable

1 offset spatula

2 heavy duty pastry bags with 1 wide tip, 1 narrow tip, and 1 rosette tip

1 piece of wax paper large enough to cover the turntable with overhang on each side, cut in half

1 doll pic or doll torso (tearing off those legs feels so wrong yet so right at the same time, doesn’t it?)

DAY ONE:

20141017_115523 1. Grease and flour your pans. I mean REALLY grease and flour it. I emptied almost half a can of baking spray into my 3 pans.

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2. Prepare your cake mix according to the box’s directions. Only make 2 cake mixes at a time in a large bowl, to ensure that all of the dry mixture gets incorporated with the oil, water, and eggs. Fill each pan about 3/4 of the way up each with cake mix. That should mean that the Wilton mold gets 2 mixes and each springform pan gets 1.5 boxes of mix. 
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3.When the cakes come out of the oven (after no less than an hour, because we are really filling these pans with some dark, dense cake), they will be domed. That’s okay! Let them cool COMPLETELY…or at least mostly. This is going to help them shrink away from the sides of the pan and also make it more stable when you level the cake.

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4. While the cake is still in the pan, level that cake! Just line your knife up right on the cake pan and carefully slice across to rid yourself of the dome. If your cake turns out a little slanted or uneven, that’s okay. And if, like mine, it is still a little domed with a flat top – like a plateau – that’s okay, too! When you have done this, remove it from the pan. This is why the springform pan is awesome – no tricky guessing and hoping and tapping to release your cake.

20141017_133121 5. Put your 2 pieces of wax paper on the turntable. They can overlap slightly but they must come over the edges of the turntable. This ensures that any icing will fall on the paper and not the turntable. When it comes time to serve the cake, you just CAREFULLY and SLOWLY wiggle the parchment out from underneath the cake and voila – clean surface!

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6. Squiggle some frosting on your first layer of cake with your large tip on the pastry bag. Really pile it on there – maybe 1/2 a cup or so. Move it all around the center of the cake, where it will be darker because you cut off the dome. Don’t put it to the edges, because when you layer the second cake on top, it will squish the icing out.

IMG_5366 7. Stack one round cake on top of that one, repeat the icing circle, then top te whole thing with the wonder mold cake. As you see, there is a ton of piped icing around that top middle layer – that’s because there was a space in between the middle round cake and the top wonder mold cake, created by the plateau. Just fill it in with icing and then put it in the fridge for 15 minutes to help with hardening the icing. 

IMG_5368 8. Now, it’s time to coat the cake with a thin-ish layer of frosting. This is called the crumb layer. It’s so that any crumbs of chocolate cake that get picked up by the spatula get caught in this layer of frosting and not in any of the frosting that shows. When you are done with this, the cake will look uneven and horrible. Don’t worry! And if the icing layer seems a little more thick than thin, don’t worry about ir…we are heading towards icing city and this is just the first depot. Now, put the cake in the fridge and don’t touch it till the next day.

DAY TWO:

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9. After letting the cake rest on the counter for about 30 minutes, it’s time to frost. You are going to want a LOT of frosting. I find that it goes on best when it’s applied in small swirls – as this is where the offset spatula comes in. Without it, you might dig into the crumb coating or get icing all over your hands. So, just spackle this stuff on, tier by tier. Don’t worry if it’s uneven and thick  - just keep going till the whole cake is covered in small swirls.

IMG_5383 10. Now, it’s time to smooth it out. Go in 3 or 4 rounds, just running the flat side of the spatula against the cake in a slow circle. Use the turntable to help you. Have a light touch and angle the spatula slightly outward at a diagonal angle towards you. This ensures that he cake gets wider towards the bottom, like a ballgown.

IMG_5384 11. This is what you end up with. Don’t worry about the slight bubbles in the frosting; we have decorations for that. Also, another layer of frosting. Apply that second layer after refrigerating the cake for about 15 minutes.

IMG_5385 12. After 2 coast of frosting and cutting a shallow hole, big enough for the doll’s torso, it’s time to decorate! Here, my mom piped white icing (using the small tip) that makes a triangle that takes up 1/3 of the cake. Make sure that the triangle that it makes is over the 1/3 of the cake where the frosting is the most uneven. It’s going to be totally covered.

20141018_131939 13. Take your white chocolate buttons and layer them on the 1/3 triangle of the cake. It looks best when it’s scalloped - like a mermaid tail.

20141018_131936 Make sure it goes all the way to the bottom.

IMG_5387 That’s the stuff!

IMG_5392 14. Over the next 2/3 of the dress, go to town! Big snowflakes, small snowflakes, tiny metallic balls, and white chocolate coated rice cereal all look swell. Just remember – there is no such thing as overkill here. My guess is that you are making this for a kid aged 2-11. Subtlety doesn’t kick in till the kid knows everything in high school. So, really..go to town. I even put some rice cereal in groups of 3 to create hidden Mickeys. What, it’s a thing.

DAY 2 OR 3:

IMG_5404 15. Put the doll torso in the cake, piping icing rosettes around her waist to blend in and lifting her arms so she doesn’t get frosting on her. Remove the wax paper and serve right on the turntable. Wait, that picture isn’t good enough…

elsa There we are…that’s the stuff. When serving, cut a slim triangle 1/3 of the way down the cake (after removing the doll torso!), then cutting that slice into 3 or so slices for kids, 2 for adults. Cut the front 2/3 of the cake first, since it’s easiest to not have to worry about the chocolate buttons if you don’t have to. When you have cut the top 1/3 of the front 2/3 of the dress, move down the tiers…

Was that complicated enough for you? I hope just barely. Please don’t be scared of making this. It takes forever and transporting it is OBNOXIOUS (Cookie sheet in a shallow cake pan, a VERY SLOW cab driver, and more than a few prayers) but…well…it’s a showstopper. People wills top you and ask you what bakery you got it from. Parents will applaud you on the spot. Facebook will be charmed.

And the look on the kids’ faces when they see this absolutely makes every backbreaking stroke of frosting worth it.

So…do you wanna build an Elsa?

Candied Apple Crescent Roll Challah for Rosh Hoshannah

I’m never going to be a master baker, okay?

The Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie will have to proceed without me next year.

But the problem is…I LOVE homemade bread. Just like Cher, I love to smell something baking in the house.

Alicia Silverstone Baking animated GIF

And this Rosh Hoshannah, I was determined to make it happen for my family.

In about an hour. With almost no ingredients in the house.

Lo and Behold…

Candied Apple Crescent Roll Challah

Ingredients:

1 tube crescent rolls

1/2 apple, diced into tiny pieces and mixed with a hefty hand of pumpkin pie spices and sugar.



IMG_1544 1. Take that crescent roll dough out of the package and smooth it into one thin rectangle. you want it as thin as possible – thinner than I made it – without the dough ripping.  IMG_1547 2. Add the apples in a thin line all the way down the middle of the dough. You want a thin line so it doesn’t burst open too much as it bakes. Also be sure to extend it pretty far to the end of the dough, leaving just 1/4 of an inch or so naked without apples.

IMG_1552 3. Pinch the dough tightly around the apples to make a dumpling-like seam. Be sure to really push those edges together – they will burst apart as they cook  anyway, so take as much precaution as possible.
IMG_1558 4. Now coil that dough into a cute little snail.
IMG_1566 5. Bake for about 30 minutes, then cover with foil and cook for about 7 minutes more to prevent over browning.
IMG_1574 6. When the round is golden brown, serve immediately or wait and serve room temperature.

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This isn’t real challah – that wonderful, airy, eggy, brioche-like bread – but it’s a damn good substitute. It’s buttery and dense with a thin ribbon of soft, sugary apples. It’s delicious with butter or dunked into tsimis.

And it’s the sweetest possible to begin the new year.

The Farewell to Summer List

It’s almost the end of summer…oh, who am I kidding? Summer is over, people…it’s OVER. It’s all I can do not to sit shiva for it, for heaven’s sake. Before the weather becomes chilly and the leaves start to turn, it’s time to live it up. Here is a list of six summer items you simply have to enjoy this next week, before people start going Pumpkin Spice Latte crazy already. I’m NOT READY YET…Summer, don’t LEAVE ME!

Gazpacho

Okay, I’m cheating starting with this one because this is actually the perfect time to enjoy this – summer is by far the best time to eat tomatoes. This gazpacho is obviously my favorite, but do whatever you like with the juiciest, sweetest, 1 day away from starting to rot tomatoes that you can find. No need to cook these beauties. 


Eggplant and zucchini

This ratatouille, these spicy zucchini sticks, or this casserole will use up the end of summer’s bounty in ways that may require a larger pants size, but it’s worth it. Unlike tomatoes, these veggies really can use a heavy hand with the seasoning and cheese, so go for broke!

Ice cream for lunch

Because what sadist is going to judge you as long as the weather is in the high 70s? Next week you may not be able to pull this, so take the plunge now, while you can!


Watermelon salads
 
Let’s just stop pretending that watermelon should be eaten for dessert. It’s sweet, juicy, flavor and slightly spongy texture are so ideal in savory dishes. Coat it in salt and pepper, serve it with mint and feta in a salad, and then pickle the rind to eat with spicy Asian pork.

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Rose
 
This much maligned wine is at its best in the final balmy days of summer – shortage be damned! Find a rose that you like with a good balance of sweet and crisp flavors. It is ideal to drink alone (not as in by yourself, but as in without any food alongside) or to with small, salty nibbles like clams on the half shell or salted nuts

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Stone fruit
 
Because all too soon, it’s going to be apples and squash. While you can, eat nectarines, peaches, and plums by the pound. Toast them, grill them, serve them with honeyed crème fraiche, and eat them fresh from the farm. Pit cherries, freeze them, and then drop them in wine for the ultimate ice cube and flavor enhancer.

Chilled Corn and Basil Soup

Corn is good right now. No, I’m sorry. It’s actually great. This is not the time that you want to cream it or mix it with a ton of bacon. This is the time that you want it tos hine on its own. You want to enjoy the last, few, fleeting days of warmth and sunshine. You want a cool soup that isn’t overly heavy and you want the corn to be as sweet and buttery as possible without over seasoning it.

You want this soup.

Chilled Corn and Basil Soup

Ingredients:

4 ears corn, shucked off the cob like this

1 medium russet potato, peeled and sliced thinly

1 onion, diced

1 bunch of celery hearts, diced

4 carrots, peeled and diced

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 large bunch basil, washed and chopped

Tabasco to taste

1 glug balsamic vinegar (maybe 2 tsp.)

4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

Salt and pepper to taste

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1. Saute the mirepoix (onions, celery, and onions) in the olive oil until the veggies are translucent. This should take about 7 minutes.

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2. Add the corn and all of the corn milk that is with it. Now it looks a horrible frozen mixed veg medley. But, I promise…it’s going to be better than good.

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4. When the corn starts to release its buttery, fragrant scent, add the potato and the stock. Then, cover and let it cook for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.

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5. Taste and add Tabasco, salt, and pepper. Let it cook for another 10 minutes, or until the bite of the Tabasco has worn off.

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6. Add the basil and vinegar and puree with a stick blender or blender.

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7. Chill overnight (VERY IMPORTANT to let flavors decelop), then taste for seasonings and serve.

I can’t believe summer is over. I’m just not ready to say goodbye to healthy, refreshing meals like this. Not ready to say farewell to sweet summer produce. This is a sweet, a little spicy, and incredibly satisfying with a dollop of goat cheese on top or a grilled cheese sandwich alongside. The basil is a really unexpected fresh, sharp addition that doesn’t overtake the sweet corn. Next soup on the blog will probably be pumpkin something, so make this while you can.

I know I will…as I sob into my sun lamp. Aah, winter, you are coming all too soon.