Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Grilled portobellos with chorizo stuffing
4 decent size portobello mushrooms
Sundried tomatoes, which you rehydrate
a yellow pepper
two slices of bread
some spring onions
a clove of garlic
a bit of chorizo, preferably the Spanish kind that is like a hard salami bologna ring, or thin slices of the salami kind will do in a pinch
Boursin light cheese
Chop the garlic, spring onions, part of the yellow pepper, the chorizo (maybe a thumbs worth if you have a ring chorizo) and the tomatoes into tinyish pieces. Heat a skillet, add a splash of olive oil, and saute the garlic, spring onions and yellow pepper until softened. Add the chorizo and tomatoes and keep sauteing. Meanwhile, toast a couple of thin slices of bread and cube that up into tiny bits. Add that to the pan. When everything is warm and seasoned and slightly browning take it off the heat and let it cool just a bit. All told, you should have cup and a half or so of this stuff when it's done.
Toss the mushrooms in a splash of olive oil, put gill side up in an oven-proof dish, and crack some black pepper on them. Broil to soften and mellow and then take out.
Turn the oven to about 200C (= hot). Spread about a teaspoon of boursin on each mushroom. Take 1/4 of the stuffing mixture and press it onto each mushroom. Put them in the oven for about 8 minutes and they'll melt the boursin and get a little crusty.
I had two for dinner with a salad on the side and saved two for lunch. You could serve one apiece for an appetizer, as well, but the flavours have a bit of a kick so it will be hard to pair this with something.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
People always tell you that when a loved one passes they don't really leave you, that you can feel them with you. I so badly want this to be the case, but I've just not felt that. I feel totally and completely alone. And I'm far from everything that reminds me of my dad, so other than a few photographs I haven't had anything tangible to remind me of him.
On Sunday I was on the phone with my mom, and I was getting emotional and verbalised this. She's having the opposite problem...she's surrounded by memories all the time, so she can't escape even if she wants to. But she feels his spirit with her. It helps her when she's really low. It comforts her. I didn't have that.
And then Monday night I was sorting through some clothes to get them to the curb for the Salvation Army to take away. I made sure I was going through the pockets to be sure I didn't leave money or ID of any sort in them, since I don't know where they'll end up. And in a pair of black trousers I found this:
This is one of my father's prayer stone. There's a woman that goes to my folk's church who makes them...they're glazed clay and they fit between your thumb and forefinger and you can use them as a little meditative touchstone for prayer, collecting your thoughts, whatever. My father carried one in his pocket from the time he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and he'd use it to center himself throughout his many treatments.
About four years ago he had a heart attack and was rushed to Rochester. I drove straight down from MSP to meet him in the emergency room, and when he emptied his pockets before he put the gown on he took that stone out. I gave him a really hard time about carrying the Swedish flag around...I mean, nothing against Swedes and all, but we're Czech and it didn't really make a lot of sense. He laughed. When he'd been picking out a stone before he started radiation, he wanted one with a cross and didn't actually put two and two together until he'd taken it home. So my mom had been ridiculing him for months, but he figured if it was helping him get through radiation he could put up with it.
He needed a quadruple bypass, and so when he went into surgery he asked me to keep it for him, along with his watch and his wedding ring...he thought it would help me not worry so much. I don't think I put the thing down the whole time he was under. I had to give the watch and the ring back but he let me keep this stone, maybe because he knew that I'd continue to worry about him and it could only help.
It's been in my pocket for every major presentation and event I've had until I lost it about six months ago. It's been really bugging me that I couldn't find it. In fact, I really wanted it with me when I flew home knowing I eventually would end up attending his funeral on that trip, but I couldn't find it so I had to fly solo. The stone he got to replace it is buried with his ashes.
Maybe I'm a sap. Maybe I just so badly want to have him here, I am letting myself be fanciful for a moment. But I've chosen to believe he heard me on the phone. And he helped me find it to make me feel better. And in a small way, it has.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
My mother used to make the most delicious vegetable beef soup. (She still does, I just haven't had it in awhile so it's a childhood recipe for me.) She'd use left over roast beef, frozen mixed vegetables, broth and some tomato juice or something red. (I am going to get clarification from her later today.) It was a great meal in one bowl, and will keep really well in the fridge for a fast dinner with a salad when I get home from a long day at work and need to jump straight into an MBA project. (Bubs, you're a wise, wise man for thinking twice about taking on school at this ridiculous age.)
The problem with this recipe is the requirement for roast beef. I think I've made a roast a total of once in my life, and that was a Christmas meal for my Mom and Dad 5 or 10 years ago. But they say roasts are actually pretty easy, so I got me a top loin rolled roasting joint and figured I'd give it a try. And since I wouldn't need the whole thing for the soup, I figured I'd have a traditional roast dinner for Sunday Lunch while I'm at it. Okay, I wasn't really in the mood for roast vegetables today, so I baked a small potato and stir-fried some vegetables with chili and garlic instead, but you get the idea. Here is the result:
my Mom and Dad got me for graduation. I don't have the food photography skills
of my friend PAM, but I'll learn eventually. FYI, she does some mean fish recipes each Wednesday, if you want some extra Omega 3 in your diet.
It was delicious, if I do say so myself. If that looks tasty to you, do this:
Poke a clean potato and put it in a pre-heated oven, say 190C. (= hot.)
Depending upon the size of the joint you have, you roast the beef at the same temp, 18 minutes per pound for rare, +20 for medium, +20 for medium well, etc. Before you roast it, do the following:
- rub with olive oil
- season with salt and pepper
- roll in a bit of dried rosemary or thyme
When the meat is done, take it out to rest. Heat a wok, add olive oil, and then add (chopped up, if sensible):
- clove of garlic
- chili flakes
- green onion
- yellow pepper
Saute until done, and add a shake of salt.
Squeeze half a lemon over the beef, then slice thinly.
Plate. That baked potato can sit in the oven turned off while you're doing all that, if necessary. And if you have a giant roast or want it roasted within an inch of it's life, potatoes only need an hour, hour and a half at the most so plan accordingly and don't start them too early.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Click on my profile, read the movies and books, and then click on the book called "Squares are not bad", which is a favourite from childhood. There are two people in the blogger universe who cite that book. And the other one is named Melinda, which is not exactly a common name. Now, click her profile and read her movies and books.
Someone is playing a joke on me. I think it's Martha Dumptruck.
"Recently, while talking with Colin Fields, the head bartender at the Bar Hemmingway at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, another very important aspect of the Quality cocktail was brought to my attention by way of the Sidecar. He commented on the importance of the history of a cocktail in order to understand how it was originally intended to be served. While the true origins of many cocktails are lost to the ravages of time, and others suffer from too many contradictory origins, anything that can help you put more behind a cocktail then just its list of ingredients, can help you to add a sense of character to your drinks.
Colin recites that the Sidecar was developed during WWI, when a certain regular customer arrived at the Ritz on his motorcycle (replete with sidecar), and asked the bartender for a cocktail that would help take off the chill. The bartender was caught in a dilemma, a drink to remove a chill would appropriately be brandy, but brandy was traditionally an after dinner drink, and his patron was wanting something before dinner. So he combined cognac, cointreau, and lemon juice to mix a cocktail whose focus was on the warming qualities of both the brandy and the cointreau, while the lemon juice added enough of a tartness to make it appropriate as a pre-dinner cocktail. So a properly made sidecar should betray its roots as a drink that warms your palate if not your bones."
Sidecars are velvety and delicious and they have a beautiful murky amber glow that looks like liquid fire.
I believe I will have another...I'm about to write about my leadership weaknesses. A girl can use a bit of fortification.
Follow my lead:
Classic Sidecar: One part cognac or brandy, one part Cointreau, one part lemon juice
Modern Sidecar: Three, two, one respectively
Either way, put it all on ice, and shake it like a hurricane. Strain into a glass and swoon.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
"Patients include Teresa, who has something nasty in her ear, and 20-year-old Jack whose constant and very smelly diarrhoea is ruining his life."
There's another episode immediately after that wherein, "Patients include a man whose gigantic hairy mole covers his entire shoulder and a young woman whose life is being ruined by boils that constantly erupt all over her body."
What's not to love?
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
TO DO: List 5 things you do, did or like that some may consider “totally lame,” but that you are totally proud of. Tag 5 others:
1. I am a Fanilow. Yes, I love Barry Manilow. I know pretty much all of his classics by heart, and have been known to sing them with reckless abandon in public when I am by myself. I haven't been to a concert yet, but the operative there is "yet." Seriously. Barry Manilow rocks.
2. When I first moved to Seattle, I was exceptionally broke. We had no furniture in my apartment, just giant fake fur pillows my mom had made when we were kids, plus mattresses to sleep on and a desk and chair. Oh. And an old dentist's side table we spray painted and tiled, plus a couple of chairs from Target. The building we lived in didn't have a buzzer, so when people came to visit they stood under our kitchen window and yelled, "Ball Peen Hammer!" up at us, and we'd toss the keys down. (My housemate Sonja came up with the password - she likes her tools and implements.) El Ben and the Bethanizer used to come over all the time, and we would feed them whatever we could make from the groceries we got out of the Safeway coupon book, and we'd drink Henry Weinhard's beers while sprawled all over the floor by candlelight. After a few beers, we would indicate that we were inebriated by placing the bottle caps over our eyes, because they had stars on them and made us look like drunk cartoon people.
3. I went pillow shopping with my friend Susan, and insisted that we lay down on the floor of the department store to test them so we'd be sure we got the best ones. It works, FYI.
4. I love going to Red Lobster. Tom and I go there and pretend we're suburbanites on a big night out...we order appetizers AND dessert because we can, and announce this to the waitress so she understands....Heck, we're at RED LOBSTER! We're gonna CELEBRATE! Of course, we do this because this makes us feel like we're cool urban hipsters, but actually we find excuses to go there.
5. I use all sorts of unfashionable expressions. I say things like cattywampus, kerfuffle, boy howdy, the skunk-eye, hullabaloo, groovy, foxy, dapper, peckish, and jeepers.
I also have ritual hellos, goodbyes and phrases that make no sense to anyone else. They include things like, "Leiderhosen!" (a fond farewell, to which one must reply "German Pants!"), "Yahweh!" (typical response to "no way!"). "You can't really digest corn," (which is used to point out that either a) you've stated the obvious, or b) let it go because it's out of your control), and "Chip?" (which should be said in a monotone drone and is the appropriate way to offer a friend any sort of food.)
I don't know who's been tagged, so I'm picking people some of you don't read, such as No Identifying Characteristics, El Ben, Kirstin, and MnMom. And CP because, well, he's CP.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Therefore, I thought I would introduce you to them.
This is John, who works at said power company. He is a most excellent dancer, has a dry sense of humour, and we expect him to be quite the taskmaster on the project.
This is Ed, who is the Managing Director of a waste management company. Ed is built for rugby but, ironically, might be the most chivalrous person I've ever known. (I mean in a considerate-polite-respectful way...last I checked, he does not joust, though I'm betting he'd look dashing on a horse.)
The cubicle we are in is one I seem to spend several hours in each Friday and Saturday. The chairs are not particularly comfortable, in case you were wondering.
- You were a teenage drama geek
- You were a band or choir geek
- You were a teenage drag queen
- You love someone who was a teenage drag queen
- You loved the movie fame
- You love musicals anyway
- You like mediocrely acted teen movies
- You loved Fame but you can't watch it anymore because of the leg warmers
And FYI, you will be happiest if you have creme de menthe and vodka in the house, because when the subservient girl gets hers on the sadistic queen bee, you will want a vodka stinger.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I love this show.
Roasted butternut squash with pecans and blue cheese
a whole butternut squash
half an onion
some blue cheese
Deseeded and cut up a butternut squash. I was too lazy to peel it, but I suppose you could. Toss it in olive oil, some thyme, salt, pepper and a shake or two of paprika. Put it in the oven and roast it at around 400F for half an hour - 45 minutes.
NOW. Fry the bacon until crisp, and blot on paper towel. Get rid of most of the grease from the pan, and then put in a half an onion, and some mushrooms, all chopped to bitesize. When they start to soften toss in a handfull or two of pecans halves. (I'm assuming you know to get them out of the shell first.) Cook until all toasty and carmelized, sprinkle with some pepper and then put a couple of dashes of balsamic on there and stir off the heat...it will sizzle and steam a little and then be nice and sweetmellow.
Okay. When the squash is done, then you take it out, you toss in the mushroom/onion/pecan mixture and crumble the bacon into it. Grab the blue cheese a crumble a bit of that in, too.
Monday, October 08, 2007
So just imagine my joy when iPod heard my silent cries and cranked out Superfreak. I flew up from my chair and have done a helluva boogie around the living room, momentarily becoming Milton Keynes' own Little Miss Sunshine.
Join me friends, for a bit of a Rick James spazzout. And shake a tail feather while you're at it, dammit. There's nothing like Superfreak to inspire a little soul train freakout.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Some of what I hear is good. Some is a bit odd. Some of it is Terry Wogan. But Sunday mornings are the biggest mixed bag of all. Early on, there is a show that is all religious music. It's gospel, it's classic churchy stuff, and it's a bit of pop-Christian stuff. Very little deviation from Christian thus far, but since there's a national church here I guess it's understandable. (That said, today they had an atheist and a Christian debating the acceptability of non-Christian faiths in the UK, and the Christian made my favourite point about how annoying it is that it is has become cool to assume all smart people are atheists or agnostics.) Not my favourite show on Radio 2, but not the worst, either.
The WORST one comes on at 9AM. It's nothing but love songs and dedications. Seriously. Love song. Dedication. Love song. Dedication. Repeat. Now, I have certainly been known to like a love song now and again. I have always been a fan of the soulful singer songwriter, and as was highlighted in my 40@40, the Quirky Love Song genre is one of my favourites. But I hate power ballads. Really hate them. Hate the over-singing. Hate the key of sap. Hate the slow-paced power guitar background. Hate the soprano saxes and the keyboard solos and the key-change bridges. Hate absolutely everything about them.
What a sucky sucky idea for a show. It's positively awful. I had to fly out of bed to turn the radio off so the woman screeching "Show Me Heaven" would stop. Which, by the way, seems to be a very frequent analogy in the power ballad. Lots of stars and moons and soaring through the heavens crap. Find a new metaphor for pete's sake.
But the one good thing that came out of this was that it helped me put my finger on why I hate Coldplay. They claim to be a rock band, but they're really just power ballad singers who don't bathe as often as they should. Martin is an oversinger extraordinaire. Not to mention a mumbly. Enunciate, man! It's not that hard!
Listen, Coldplay. It's nice that you love Gwyneth and all, but it still doesn't change the fact that she can't act and looks like she needs a sandwich. Shut up already.
They're issuing an apology and trying to downplay the PR nightmare. Why???? I say, "Well done!" I say they're doing a public service here. I say let's send the Master Baiters and the Muff Diving Team and the guys that wear those t-shirts with a big NO sign over male stick figures engaged in intercourse straight to Greyhound where they belong.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying they don't have the right to free speech. I'm saying that morons belong on the bus.
The guy says he complied because he was afraid he'd miss the flight and didn't want to miss a day's work. Let me guess. Rocket scientist?
Chill out, guy. I mean, I know you think you were making a statement, but I'm betting we could tell by looking at you.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
I had let the fridge dwindle to nothingness and I knew I needed a decent breakfast to fuel my brain, so I set my alarm for 8AM and hit the rode before coffee to get to Sainsbury's before the Saturday crowds. Perfectly timed, and I got out right as people were starting to come to brawls over parking in the lot.
I have many delicious groceries waiting to be transformed into delicious meals. This is one of my favourite things, actually...the knowledge that my kitchen contains the ingredients for any number of delicious treats, just waiting for me to decide what to do!
I'd gotten a Nigella Express cookbook through the Book People at work (they give us great deals on select items, kind of like Costco except in the lunchroom,) and when I saw that Nigella was beckoning I could not resist. She is my idol. And I've read (yes, read) most of the cookbook while getting ready to sleep, so I have made sure my shopping list contains items required to bring a few of the pages to life this week.
One of the recipes that fascinated me was for Smoked Trout Pate. I like smoked whitefish, and it sounded like a good way to get some valuable Omega-3 in my diet this week as well as a convenient food to feed me when I need a little something quickly, so I thought I'd try it out. I made it earlier this afternoon (with a few embellishments because that's the way I am), and it is delicious. You should have this spread on little bread or crispbread nibbles with a glass of chardonnay (you pack of chunts) and perhaps some briny olives with chili or baby dills before dinner tonight.
Smoked Trout Pate (as interpreted from Nigella)
- 2 smoked trout fillets (or smoked peppered mackerel if you're me)
- 50g of philly cream cheese (I used light and last I checked the sun did not fall out of the sky)
- 2T lemon juice
- 2T olive oil
- 1/4T cayenne
- 1T horseradish sauce
- grind of pepper (me)
- old bay....maybe equal to cayenne? (me)
Puree all ingredients into a pate. Put in a clay ramekin. Chill. Spread it on things. Eat.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
But the swans are now south for the winter. It's just me and the ducks. We are giddy. There is a spring in our step. We greet the day with a smile. We can stroll at our leisure, knowing the nasty swans are nowhere to be found, threatening with their raised wings and poking necks.
And the bastards didn't even have the decency to say goodbye.