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LO Soup

I cleaned out the refrigerator yesterday, making soup out of the leftovers and odds and ends of vegetables.

This incarnation of LO Soup is particularly good because I started it early enough in the day that I could take my time to do it right.

I very slowly sauteed the sliced mushrooms, lone leek, shredded carrots, chopped celery, the diced edible half of a sad bell pepper,  wilting spinach leaves, and an onion. Leftover chicken broth from the freezer formed the base of the soup, with the last handful of dried lentils and a matching handful of dried bulgur wheat for protein. Flavored with curry powder,cumin, smoked Spanish paprika, salt, and lots of garlic, then finished with a nice splash of lemon juice to brighten it up.

Mmmmm. I have lunch for several days now, and its gooood.

Recipe: Cracker Crack

Cracker Crack is a variant of matza crack, so called because it is made from matza and is incredibly addictive. Making it from saltines takes it to a whole new level of crackitude.

Ingredients
1 sleeve saltines
2 sticks (1/2 lb) butter
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1.5 cups chocolate chips
sea salt or kosher salt
parchment paper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the saltines in a single layer on the paper-lined baking sheet.

In a medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter and brown sugar together, stirring frequently. When the sugar is melted and the mixture comes to a boil, stir constantly  while boiling for 3 minutes.

Pour the caramel over the crackers. Work quickly as it will start to set up as soon as you take it off the heat. Use a rubber spatula to spread the mixture relatively evenly, but don't worry about uneven spots. Sprinkle  lightly with sea salt.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and scatter chocolate chips over the hot baked crackers. Let sit a few minutes, then use a rubber spatula to spread the melted chocolate evenly. You may then add more toppings if you wish, chopped pecans or bits of candied ginger, etc.. Let sit until thoroughly cool, about 2 hours. Break into pieces, don't worry if they are uneven.

Makes 40 + pieces. They never last long.

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Recipe: Tuna Pancakes

Note: Measurements are approximate, as I did not use a recipe myself but simply added what looked good as I went along.

Ingredients
4 cans water packed tuna, drained
1 sleeve saltine crackers, crushed
1 quarter cup Parmesan cheese 
4 large eggs 
One half onion, minced 
One half red bell pepper, minced 
1 large celery stick, minced
1 quarter cup dried parsley flakes
1 quarter cup lemon juice
Several generous shakes Old Bay seasoning
Vegetable oil for frying

Mise en place: Finely chop the vegetables. Put crackers in a ziplock bag and crush them into fine crumbs. Drain tuna.

Preparation: In large bowl, beat eggs with cracker crumbs, cheese, dried parsley, lemon juice, and Old Bay to form a paste. Add drained tuna and minced vegetables. Mix well.

At this point you may refrigerate the tuna mixture. It is easier to work with a chilled tuna mixture, but you do not have to chill it if you do not have the time to do so.

To fry, heat a thin layer of vegetable oil in a large, heavy frying pan over medium heat. Form thin flat tuna patties out of lumps of tuna mixture about as big as an egg. (A little vegetable oil on your hands keeps the tuna mixture from sticking.) Fry just three or four at a time, do not crowd them in the pan. Fry about 5 minutes on each side, flattening the tuna pancakes with the spatula after you flip them. Drain on paper towels.

Makes 16 tuna pancakes. My family loved them. :-)

"It's Hanukkah in October!"

alg's recent post about gifts struck a chord.

I too notice things that people I love might like I want to buy them to hold on to for birthdays and holidays, but I know I may impulsively give them at any time because I have NO PATIENCE, none at all.

The things I desire for myself, though, have changed so much over the past year! Last year, before bbwoof made me move out, most of what I wanted was for our house. I would have asked for gardening and hot tub accessories, for deck stain, for curtain rods. I would have fainted with joy over an enormous IKEA gift certificate. I hung out on the IKEA website drooling over the daybed and bookcase units that would fit perfectly as pseudo built-ins along one wall of the dining room. (The Hemnes day bed and good old Billy bookcases -- I'd measured and sketched and dreamed and measured again, it would have been perfect.) If pressed to name something just for myself, I'd probably have asked for pretty yarn and a bottle of nice single-malt scotch. Or, of course, cash. As long as you have bills to pay, cash is always good.

My life has changed so much.

Now what I most want is the return of what I had last September but have since lost -- a fulfilling job, a loving husband, a sense of what my life was all about and what the future would be. I also want my ankle to bend without pain. I want to be the sort of person who springs into action instead of freezing when stressed. I want to not care so much, to not cry so much. I want intangibles. I want miracles.

Failing that, cash is still good. The universal constant of gifts, it turns out, is not fruitcake after all.
After work on Friday I got my flu shot, then stopped at the Goodwill store that often has lovely fabric. (Last Sunday I found a heavy bleached linen kitchen curtain there. I'm turning it into an apron.)

MOTHERLODE! For $12 I walked off with over six yards of heavy yellow drapes that feel like they may really be silk. The color would look awful against my face, but will make a fabulous lining for the Italian Renaissance outfit I'm putting together. I also got some gaudy cotton brocade table-runners and tablecloth, for detachable slashed sleeves.

Then I'll need a mask for the ball, and a hairpiece.

I will post pictures as I make the outfit.

My calendar has become a palimpsest

This used to be my favorite time of year. The Jewish High Holy Days followed by Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then preparation for the winter holidays, all wrapped up in beautiful crisp hot-tub weather, graced with scarlet leaves - what's not to like about autumn?

Halloween has long been my favorite holiday; I have felt lucky on Halloween. I first met bbwoof on the day before Halloween, 13 years ago. He proposed to me on Halloween four years later.

The joy of those anniversaries has been scratched off of Halloween. I dread the approaching day.

Good Advice

I am struck with how good this advice is, and am trying to take it to heart. Full transcript follows, under the cut. It's worth listening to -- and reading -- the whole thing. But in brief, Minchin's nine pieces of advice are:

  1. You don't need a big dream, a big ambition. Those are OK, but you don't need them. Strive to do well at what you're doing right now.

  2. The best way to make yourself happy is to keep busy and aim to make someone else happy.

  3. Build compassion for others by keeping in mind that so much depends on luck. Build happiness and humility by remembering how lucky you are.

  4. Exercise, for your mental health.

  5. Critical thinking is important; be critical of your own thinking first. (Also, ignore the artificial conflict between science and the arts, between science and spirituality.)

  6. Be a teacher, whether formally or informally. Rejoice in what you learn and share your knowledge with others.

  7. Express your passion for things you love.

  8. Respect people with less power than you, and treat them well.

  9. Don't rush, don't panic, don't worry about finding meaning in life, because there is none. Instead, fill your life with learning, with pride in your work, with "compassion, sharing ideas, running, being enthusiastic and then there's love and travel and wine and sex and art and kids and giving and mountain climbing..."



Transcript of addressCollapse )

What's Cooking at Turf House?

Very little actual cooking this week -- even Wednesday's dinner will be made in slow-cookers -- which ought to help keep the house cool. :-)

Sunday: At the second day of the Known World Bardic Congress and Cook's Collegium, where the motto apparently is "Comede! Comede! Nimis tu tenuis es!". At least I was able to work off some of the food by volunteering in the kitchen, right? Nope. The feast mistress set aside all sorts of special goodies for the cooks and servers. We rolllled out of there that night.

Monday: Toast, cheese, pickles, and ginger tea.

Tuesday: Tuesday night dinner with Mom.

Wednesday: Baingan Bharta, palak chole, rice.

Thursday: Bringing a couple of Tarts for Ymbre Day to the monthly pot-luck dinner of my local Society for Creative Anachronism (medieval re-enactor) group, the Barony of Three Rivers.

Friday: Going to the opening reception of a tapestry-weaving exhibit, New Art of the Loom. Will probably get dinner out somewhere afterwards with friends.

Saturday: Eating hamburgers, drinking beer, and dancing at my friend Hrodwyn's birthday party.

What's Cooking at Turf House?

Sunday: Tom Yum Salad (little canned shrimp on a bed of shredded cabbage and other vegetables, with a Thai chili and peanut dressing)

Monday: Grilled chicken, panzanella (made with fresh tomatoes straight from the garden)

Tuesday: Dinner at Mom's (eat leftover panzanella for lunch, with parmesan cheese)

Wednesday: Getting lunch with Francesca, so just a light dinner. Maybe cereal and milk?

Thursday: Dinner with maiabee8, maybe? I have a great eggplant and chickpea curry recipe that I'd love to share with others.

Friday: Out of town! Going to the Known World Bardic Congress and Cooks' Collegium, an SCA event in the Wisconsin Dells. Where the temperature is about 20 degress Fahrenheit below the insufferable heat we've got here. Ohhhh yeah.

Saturday: Attending the feast at KWBC. (Don't you wish you were too?)

Meet Maude. Or maybe Galileo.

So help me, I bought a minivan.

It's a 1996 Toyota Previa with 194,000 miles on her. I paid $2000, then spent another $500 on brakes and belts so she'll last another 200,000 miles. She's been inspected, licensed, and is almost ready to be a member of the family. The question now is, what do I name her?

Previa_1


Because she looks so much like a beat-up shuttlecraft, I am tempted to paint NCC-1701/7 on her side and name her Galileo. But, really, I think her name is Maude. What do you think?

Previa_2


In that picture you can also see my new home. Here's a better picture. Because the street name is Turf Court, and because my basement apartment is long, narrow, dark and cozy, I have taken to calling it Turf House.

Turf_House


Pictures of the inside of Turf House will have to wait a bit, though, until it's fixed up.

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