Monday, August 31, 2009

You must have the courage of your convictions

I'm in possession of more ingredients and am trying to figure out what to do with them. My friend Cindy gave me a bunch more tomatoes (including lots of romas), yellow, orange and green bell peppers, some banana peppers (some hot, some not, but I've jumbled them all together and now I'm not sure which is which) and a bunch of basil.

The tomatoes and basil are easy: pizza margherita! But I've got way more tomatoes and basil than I need for that, unless I were going to make ten of them. So now I need to find recipes for the rest of the stuff. Easy recipes.

I should have done something with all these fresh things last night, but I was exhausted after spending the day training dogs at Cindy's house. Aside from being way out in the middle of Alamance county, the place is a little paradise with an agility field, horses, a huge garden and a really gorgeous landscaped patio area. She's got a husband who is constantly doing projects around the place. I've never seen him not working on stuff. I never had one of those ... mine watched movies all the time. Where does one go to get one of the useful ones? Not that I want another one. But I really could use a shed out back ...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Every time I phone you I just want to put you down

Still more yoga ... last night I went to a "deep stretch" class. Meh, not deep enough. The stretch I need probably requires a medieval torture rack.

As for the cooking thing ... I think I've gone off it, at least temporarily. Last night I made garlic bread for dinner.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Restored, but not for long

I went to the "restorative" yoga class yesterday. It was great--a little on the easy side, but very relaxing. I felt fantastic afterward.

Then as soon as I got to work this morning I was an aching ball of tension all over again. I think I tense up and become very uncomfortable as soon as I walk in the door. Plus my chair is horribly uncomfortable. My desk is uncomfortable. My entire existence is painful whenever I am here.

When I get home, I start to feel better again.

Yeah, I know. Don't even say it or you'll just piss me off.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

He smelled his first poem on a buttery day

I did some things I had planned to do. That doesn't always happen.

Friday night I made chilaquiles. I cut the tortillas into strips before frying them, just because I've seen it done that way at restaurants. But I didn't realize until I was making the stuff that I didn't have any jalapeƱos. I had thought I did, but no, all I had were green chiles. So it didn't end up very spicy, and the bit I ate Friday night was rather boring. (Not that I like things too spicy, however. A friend and I had ultra-spicy chilaqiles at a local taqueria that neither one of us could eat.)

Anyway, I tried figure out how to rescue the chilaquiles, and I saw I had some hot red enchilada sauce in the cupboard. So I layered the meaty/beany stewy stuff in a casserole dish with the fried tortillas and some cheese, and then I doused it liberally with the enchilada sauce and stuck it in the fridge. Last night I pulled it out at baked it at 350 degrees for ... I don't remember how long. Until it looked baked. It was delicious! Hooray!

If I hadn't been able to save it I think I might have gone off cooking for a while. One of the (many) reasons I don't cook much is that after all the effort, I often don't like what I make. Wouldn't it be easier just to have a sandwich? That way I don't waste my effort (and expense) for what could be a big letdown. A sandwich is easier to predict.

Also, I went and did actual yoga in an actual yoga class yesterday. Nobody laughed at me. Everyone in the class was a beginner except for one Experienced Yoga Girl who was slumming in our class because she was apparently trying to get her boyfriend into yoga. He put forth a brave effort, but I'm not sure if he was having a lot of fun. I actually did have fun, except for a few brief moments in a few poses, er, asanas I guess they're really called. Unfortunately, when I went in I had a tiny glimmer of a headache, and by the time class was done I had developed an actual migraine. So any yoga high I may have had was ruined. Still, my body felt much better than usual. I'm usually plagued by muscle tension, stiffness and miscellaneous aches and pains. At least one part of my body is in discomfort or pain at any given time. After the yoga, not so much.

Unfortunately, my normal schedule probably won't allow for a lot of yoga classes. I'm on a break from dog classes right now, but they start up again next week, plus I've got some weekend agility trials to go to. During the week I take three agility classes (one with each dog) and I teach two classes, so it's not going to be easy to make yoga class a habit. I think I'll go to a "restorative" yoga class today, and then maybe something during the week, but then I think it will be three weeks before I can maybe fit in a class. Bummer.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Just doing stuff because that's what I do ...

My favorite guambat suggested I make some chilaquiles, and that's what I'm going to do! I decided thay should have chicken in them, because that's how I've always gotten them at a restaurant, and cooking chicken nets chicken broth, another ingredient, too. So last night I put a bunch of drumsticks (my favorite part of the chicken. White meat is for chumps.) in the crock pot for about 5 hours, and now I have both chicken and broth. Tonight I'll turn it all, plus a few other things, into chilaquiles!

Also, tomorrow I'm going to go take an actual yoga class. I've dabbled in yoga in my living room with the help of books (when I had a cat I would do "cat yoga," wherein I'd do a pose and Kitty would hop right up and make himself comfortable on me. I also did Gomey doggie yoga, wherein I'd do a pose and Mr. Gomez would push his head into the side of my body and knock me over. Good times.), but I've never actually gone to a class before. There's something intimidating about it. (Cue Piper Laurie saying "they're all going to laugh at you") But when you do everything right, there's a yoga high you can get, and that's what I'm after.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I like to laugh

I watched this video many times this morning, and it never stopped making me laugh. What a lovely way to start my day:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Exploring the possibilities of mediocrity

After making a tomato pie last week, I also made a quiche (I had an extra frozen pie crust, because they sell them in twos). It had lots of tomatoes in it (had a bunch of those left, too). It was OK.

I also started a "use up all the stuff in my cupboards and freezer" project. Because I had ground turkey and corn tortillas in the freezer (I got a package of about a million corn tortillas from a woman at work whose husband works for a tortilla company), and beans, green chiles and a can of green enchilada sauce in my cupboards, I made an enchilada casserole. It was OK.

The good part is that these things have provided me with stuff to carry to work for lunch every day. The bad part is that they've ensured my lunch is nothing to really look forward to. But it's cheap.

So I'm open to ideas for things to make for less-boring lunches. Bonus points if the ingredients are already in my cupboard or freezer. Extra bonus if it's something outlandishly easy to make. And I've already thought of pb&j sandwiches ...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sometimes violence is the solution

A couple of months ago my great little pocket camera (Sony DSC-W150) malfunctioned after I dropped it. When I turned it on, the lens would go in and out for a couple of minutes, and then it would give me the message "Turn camera off and then on again." Turning it off and on just led to the same thing all over. I've come to feel that I must have a camera with me at all times, so I ran out and bought another one (Sony DSC_S980), which is nowhere near as good as the broken one, but a lot cheaper. I really missed my good camera. The new one sorta sucks, really. It's slow to focus, slow to cycle, not as good in low light, doesn't give me nearly as much control in manual mode and it has a Sony lens, which is noticeably not as good as the Carl Zeiss lens on the W150.

The other day I decided to see if the Google could help me figure out how to fix the old one. Turns out the problem is very common: the lens, which extends when the camera is turned on, can get very slightly out of alignment if the camera is dropped. But the solution that seemed to work like a charm for everyone is: drop it again. Or maybe not drop it; most people had success just rapping it solidly against a table or a countertop. I was a little trepidatious about slamming my favorite camera around on purpose, but then I figured, hell, it doesn't work anyway. So I gave it a quick medium-hard slam ... and whaddya know, the damn thing works again.

This makes me very happy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Things that make me happy ...

Hello and welcome to the first installment of a feature I'm going to call "Things That Make Me Happy." I say it's the first installment, but for all I know, it could be the only installment. I'm not always so good on follow-through. But let's just pretend I am, for now ...

Today's Thing That Makes Me Happy (TTMMH) is: Scott Mills The Musical!

About 6 months ago, I got a little Sanza Fuze mp3 player, and I thought one good use for it would be to do something like learn Portuguese via podcast. That lasted about a day, and instead I got hooked on a few other podcasts, including a few from NPR (Car Talk, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, This American Life, Fresh Air and Planet Money), but most especially the Scott Mills Daily from BBC Radio 1. I have literally not missed an episode since I started listening (although Scott has--he does inconsiderate things like going on vacation, etc.) Anywho, a few months ago, a listener suggested that Scott & crew create "Scott Mills" The Musical" and perform it at The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Surprisingly, Radio 1 ran with idea and the musical has been playing this week. I felt a bit of a twinge knowing there was no way I'd get to see it, so imagine my happiness when I discovered they are putting the whole thing online. Yay happiness!

What I'd really, really love, however, is if someone I knew became a diehard Scott Mills fan as well so I'd have someone with whom to laugh over things like The Barry Island Texter (Doot! Mun!). Or perhaps we could co-author a letter to Scott and listen for it to be read over the air by The Posh Radio 4 Lady ...

Anyone?? Bueller?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The not quite joy of cooking

I saw Julie and Julia on Sunday. What a sweet, good-hearted movie. It made me really want to poach an egg. I've eaten poached eggs before, but never actually done any poaching of my own. So I'm adding that to my list of things to do, which is looking like this right now:
  1. Decide on dates for Spring trip to Wales
  2. Be a better person
  3. Poach an egg
As part of being a better person (see item #2 above), I've decided I need to be more forgiving. So for example, I should forgive Michael Pollan for his blatant personal attack on my way of life in the NYT a couple of weeks ago. Well, the part about watching cooking shows doesn't apply to me because I don't have time for them, and I'm not sure I would watch them if I did. But it's true, I don't really cook. Sometimes I assemble a meal, and I occasionally bake things, but aside from a mad cooking kick once every five years or so, I actively avoid actual cooking whenever possible. So even though I don't believe that not cooking is as horrible as Pollan makes it out to be, I've started wondering if I could make myself enjoy cooking a little more, and if that in turn would put more joy in my life. I mean, I know a lot of people who really get into cooking, and it seems to bring them happiness. Shouldn't I try it? Or rather, give it one more try, I mean.

So Monday evening I was paging through Durham Magazine while waiting for a haircut (am I the only one who thinks Durham magazine is a big pretentious bore?) Anyway, a little recipe for tomato pie caught my eye. My friend Cindy had given me a whole bunch of home-grown tomatoes, and I was starting to get tired of tomato sandwiches. I could put them in a pie! OK, so really, a pie is technically more baking than cooking, but it involved chopping onions and sauteƩing them in butter which most definitely is cooking. I quickly pulled my tiny notebook out and jotted down the recipe, and then after my haircut I went straight to Harris Teeter and bought the ingredients I needed. The recipe called for a pre-baked pie crust, at which Michael Pollan would undoubtedly sneer, but if I'd had to make a pie crust from scratch I probably would have skipped making the pie altogether. Baby steps. I'll get to making actual pie crusts one of these days. Maybe.

The recipe was a snap. It called for a topping of cheese mixed with mayonnaise, but I'm not a big mayonnaise fan and I was afraid I wouldn't want to actually eat the pie if it had mayonnaise in it, so just used cheese. (Maybe that's why I don't always like cooking--I have a hard time sticking exactly to the recipe sometimes, and I end up not always liking what I make. Maybe I'm sabotaging my own efforts to justify my laziness? Who knows.)

Anyway, the pie came out looking like this (and smelling heavenly!):

tomato pie

It was tasty, but way, way to liquidy. That's a problem with tomatoes--they release so much water when cooked. I had to drain the pan a bit after cutting out the first piece. Maybe a more experienced cook would know what to do about that. It tasted pretty good. Not to die for or anything, but at least it didn't make me want to throw it out and eat a grilled cheese sandwich instead, which is often what happens when I cook.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Oh! What's occurrin'?

I have something else to be happy about: next spring I will be going to Wales! (Actual dates TBD.) I'll visit two fabulous Flickr friends, one of whom has somehow convinced his parents into offering me a room in their house! There will be castles and music and pints, and I'm hoping to catch a glimpse of the Torchwood SUV. Yay me!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

In case you're wondering, I'm doing great ...

I'm rethinking the whole blog thing ... seems I'm just not as into it as I used to be.

But today I've been feeling happier and more optimistic about life than I have in a while (even mowing the lawn just now felt fun! Crazy!), and it made we want to write something in this here blog ... well, now I don't what exactly. Um, hey, my lawn is freshly mowed!

Maybe I just want to be happy in public, but I'm too lazy to leave the house ...