Thursday, October 30, 2008

Evidence (left), BTW, of my concentrated effort at weekend fun!

It was, rather, barring very cold pool water, a handsy dude in a suit, no pancakes and the sheer distance of Chicago distances. Hollyfo (left) is definitely fun!

I guess I am a wimpy city girl, but I cannot believe how far OUT some burbs are! Literally (only).

So, some efforts at fun being made. More to follow, of a rather more economical variety, probably.

To wit (not really; nerdiest news ever): I think I have found a very cheap second-hand sewing basket. Plan to engage in needlework this winter (not knitting). Feelin crafty.

While the process of cleaning up areas of life long left unattended is a satisfaction and a pleasure, I would like to note that it is still not very much fun, and that I am still spending far too much time with and writing way way too many checks to doctors, endodontists, dentists, hygienists, GYNs, phlebotomists, nurses, bankers, COBRA administrators, insurance vendors, accountants, the Internal Revenue Service, physical therapists, cleaners, pharmacists, etc. They are all very kindly people, except perhaps for those involved in vagaries of the cable industry, but it does not change the altogether gray profile of this sort of activity. Need more fun. And not just wholesome natural fun.

If you are wondering why this is legible, it is because I went through and pasted a space in between each word. This activity is not contributing to my fun level either, in fact rather the opposite. Try it. You will see.

One bit of good news? I have hagelslag, milk & dark. Lucky little Dutch girl.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008




Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rode in my first hybrid cab yesterday. It rocked. Supercool. If I were a cab driver I'd try to invest in one for sure.

Drooling, stuttering with lust: The Chicagoan. Surf the sample pages at your own peril...the color, the design, the graphic quality. [Ta MA for link.]

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Okay, this is gonna be one idiotic list. Full of bathos. But as usual...semper blogelis. Smyblog.

1. I can never exit the Kennedy at Ohio without thinking about Mal*chi Ritscher. That spot is haunted, as sure as sure. Has a haint.

2. Dick's Last Res*rt is closing. The good times are over? Where will bachelorette parties from Schaumburg go? With paper condoms on their heads?

3. Surprisingly super-good: vegetarian bulgogi from Mana Food Bar on Division. That marinade would be good on a cardboard box, but still, yum.

4. Shiny things I'm enamored with right now: Lustreware, especially Czech/Bavarian and Japanese, only the solid (non-patterned) kind bordered with black; guilloche enamel--big solid colors; antique Georg Jensen and Christofle flatware; hotel silver; railroad and ship china/silver; Aaron Basha shoes; semi-precious cocktail rings; Tiffany Paloma Sugar Stacks; mirrored furniture...anything. Sparkly!!! Je suis en racoon. Also traditional brightly colored stuff like Fiestaware and colored bakelite. Colors, sparkle.

5. From today's Times: 100K people on just a regular campaign stump in St. Louis to see Obama yesterday. Amazing.

6. This is kinda Jerry's Kids, bringing it up here/like this, not to mention burying a lead, not to mention I'm not givin the topic enough room, but I have lipo-lymphedema, and I feel like being halfway public about this, as it is a condition that affects my every day life tremendously, down to the way I never stop getting hippier, to the pain when I walk. More at some point, but, whatever, I'm just throwin it in for the moment.

7. If J*mes Cameron doesn't just give that broke 96yo Titanic survivor a fistful of residuals I will lose all respect for him.

8. One reason I love my Skip: I discovered recently we both had issues with Cook's Illustrated's recommendation involving vanilla extract. Only she actually wrote them a letter, bless her.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

You know, I'm taking my temperature here, but I have absolutely nothing to say about M*dge and Guy breaking up. There was, of course, an initial gasp-with-paw-to-chest that necessitated an email to my friend Fred, but now I feel very meh. What does that mean? Oh wait, it means nothing, doesn't it. Eh, I dunno. All I can say is that this news FITS with this world of chaos we are living in. And it will be interesting to see her enter her Tom Hayden phase--I'm assuming that's where she is on the Jane Fonda timeline.

In the meantime I give you Madeline Kahn choosing participants for the orgy. :45-1:25 shoulda been enough to get that woman an Oscar, yo. Happy happy joy joy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

St. Apollonia is the patron saint of dentistry and dental work. If you have a moment, cast a few sou or some obeisance in her direction today. I myself will be leaving an offering of Glide dental floss (won't get stuck!), Stim-u-dents (mint-flavored!) and some valiums. Oh, and piles and piles of cash.

Monday, October 13, 2008

more receets

Creamed Chicken...Backwards*!
with a bonus sidecar recipe**

I kinda thought this one up--made it--in stages as laziness, defrosting times and annoying kitchen temperatures permitted.

1. Cook an entire bag of Lundberg's Countrywild Brown Rice (about 2-1/2 c. dry) in appropriate amount of chicken stock, thinned with a lil water if necc, plus salt and a little butter. (Lundberg's rices are so delish--this blend is long grain brown, Wehani and Black Japonica). About halfway through the 50 min cooking time add an additional 2-1/4 c. chicken stock. 12 minutes before cooking time is over stir in a cup of uncooked quinoa. Let it stand when finished; fluff.

Now you have rice for days, which is good because sometimes that 50 minutes is a very long time, but still...that's a lot of rice. *Let's think up something to put on it. Many many portions of it. I know, that chicken in the freezer. Here we go.

2. Poach five big chicken breast halves in 1 quart chicken stock, 1/2 a bottle of white wine, some apple cider vinegar if the wine's too sweet, an entire head of garlic (depapered, whole cloves, say 10-12), whole coriander seeds, bay leaves, peppercorns (if you can get them out of the mill). Doesn't take too long. Remove chicken to chill, strain poaching liquid into another container, adding back the garlic cloves. Let everything chill overnight cause yer sick of chicken.

3. Pick over and then shred the chicken breast halves (I find it good to watch TV or listen to the radio during this boring). In a separate cup, make up a quick mini "marinade": a big spoon of grainy mustard, a little maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, soy, a little balsamic, lots of salt and pepper, and I added a squeeze of this funny pomegranate glaze I have. Stir it to mix, then stir it into the plain poached chicken, mixing well, letting it soak up the flavors a lil.

4. Pour the reserved poaching liquid--the wine and stock--into a pan and heat to a boil. Add a cold cornstarch slurry (say 2-3 T.) and let it start thickening up, whisking hard. Then **add all but about one portion of the shredded, marinaded chicken. Stir, and let cook and continue thickening for 10-15 minutes.

Then it's done! When the heat came off I felt the urge to suddenly add sage and oregano, so I did.

5. Oh yeah, there's no cream in this creamed chicken, that's how I roll. I bet it'd rock though. As would (I keep thinking) some easy-melting Italian cheese like fontina or asiago in some fashion, or all kindsa herbs and obviously you could stretch the whole thing much further with some complementary vegetables like asparagus tips, mushrooms, carrots, thin doesn't seem like it'd much enjoy sharing room with stolid parsnips and things. I like my dish pretty severely plain, though, and my vegetables in a separatist, usually uncooked fashion. So his recipe is kind of a base. And the plan is to have this on my fabulous brown rice for many moons, freezing enough that I don't get horribly sick of it before it's gone.

**So you have this extra, poached, and over-seasoned chicken. That is, in case it wasn't clear, the "marinade" is a little too strong on a bite by bite basis, but in the creamed chicken it becomes diluted in the somewhat bland poaching liquid and everything seasons up right. Using the same principle, add some mayonnaise to the reserved chicken, let the flavors marry for a moment or two, and you have amazing chicken salad--great (as I had it) on Brownberry 7-Grain bread with sprinklings of leftover but good freezer cheese (Havarti, cheddar). Would also rock with apples, almonds, grapes, celery...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Per N*gella Lawson, I tried bashing my pomegranate half with a wooden rolling pin to release fruit from flesh. It really worked. Two red-stained thumbs up.
So, just to cast my vote: when they start divvying up nouveau WPA jobs in the next couple years, I would like to be doing murals, printmaking or design. ( I don't want to be immodest, but suddenly the trajectory of my GenX life is making sense.) And I will have somewhere to channel my constant desire to create/decorate/paint every bit of my own architecture folly for a while until I can afford a place to play with. I actually have a great aunt, with the same two first names as I, who was an artist and did dozens of WPA murals around Chicago, especially in the public schools. Perhaps the whole thing is sort of inevitable. Either that, or I shall restart/join the Roycrofters.

Hilarious fact from most recent Cooks Illustrated: If you run cheap vodka through a Brita, it does a decent job of filtering it; up-marketing the flavors, bringing it closer to high-end stuff. Party on. Store some on your fridge door now.

Last night TCM tried to raise America's spirits with a late night showing of...Roller Boogie (1979). All I can say is...where has this been all my life? It's a two-hour paean to (Linda Blair in tiny clothes, the Dry Look and) the 70s dictum of Not Matte. SHINY AT ALL COSTS. Everything. Totally fabulous, down to the token homeboy rollerskater and the effeminate twirling, jumping roller-skating leading man. Tonight TCM's showing Hud, which I plan on watching if I'm around in a miasma of horny sadness. Errrrr.

Sexdrive = The Sure Thing?

This week was really kind of ass. Awakening yesterday to the sight of W trying to reassure, even as numbers fell around him like the dying embers of fireworks, made it feel just a little too much like 9/11. BAD WEEK.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Party's Over

Extraordinarily bummed to have missed an outing to Smoque this week...I couldn't chew. Still can't, particularly, but making do. Cor...the more I couldn't chew, the more I longed for delicious sweet brisket! *homerslobber* Sometime soon.

In Barbara Pym novels the characters often gleefully pounce on cookbooks of invalid cookery (for one of the wan illin' curates)...I thought about that this week. So far my best best for food has been ______[Whatever] Rarebit. I made a chicken stock-based cheese sauce with (freezer!) Havarti, sharp cheddar, and parmesan (also dry mustard, thyme, etc.), and ate it on orzo and on sogged-out toasted cornbread, among other sauce vehicles. Very good, although I still long for brisket. I am branchin out into rice today!

The back of the freezer became clearly visible last week, by the way, despite adding containers of chili and sludge to the melee. Archeologists everywhere rejoiced. I am down to just one package of chicken in terms of serious Up-Using-Must. Whoo hoo! And an awful lot of soybeans...just dunno what's gonna happen to them. The biggest problem? DISHES. Can barely keep up.

Perhaps I'll make myself a nice blancmange or 'shape' later. And knit myself a pair of curate-gray socks...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I am pretty sure that my hands-down, fav version of "I Thought About You" is Nancy Wilson. No, she's not always the go-to Songbook person, but the way she plays with that song's funny chorus, to the point of even being almost off-key...too much! Sass personified! All under the sincere maudlin lyrics, even. Plus it's just so dang...energetic. It feels like a train ride, fast. Thank you for helping me clear this up.

What a MONDAY that was! IN which... dwindled exponentially, further invasive dental procedures were performed, I address out-of-date internet issues in my blog and at least one cat chose to express herself scatalogically, the little fucker.

* Crowns not as miserable as root canals (quite), but still in the miserable ball-park. And oh do they take a long time. Jaws are achin/sore, now more than anything from chewing weird. Dental work must be frightening for chefs, it occurs to me.

* More backstory for the Reader bankruptcy, which is really about the Loaf/BE. It feels much more spot-on than previous published attempts to explain.

* Three things I'm coming back with in another life: broad, broad shoulders so that another purse never slides off; a huge mouth that unzips side to side like a Muppet's, so that dental work is easy-peasy; and a truly, solidly, iron-clad digestive system that tolerates anything at anytime, anywhere and is as regular as a good train. Oh! And a non-jowly/double-chinny chin/non-fat neck, although that one is half practicality and half vanity--regardless. Better design for human living.

* Can "Surprising Dancing With the St*rs Casualty!" really be the kiss-ass Yahoo headline puts up every fucking week when that show's on? OH NO THERE'S ONE LESS OH WAIT THAT'S THE PREMISE OH GOD OH GOD BUT STILL WHAT WILL WE DO OOPS THERE WE GO.

* Of course: I didn't exactly think what I do with scrambled eggs was new--adding strips of tortilla to the butter and cooking, before adding eggs, kind of like a matzoh brei--but I also didn't quite realize I had basically reinvented migas. Which I did. Cool!

* Much on about the demise of Nyac at the Vanco*ver Aquarium, who survived the Exxon Valdez oil spill only to gain viral internet fame as one of the hand-holdin otters (has there ever been such a sentence?). There is something about the arc to that otter's life, though. Intense.

* It's Sig*r Ros, or should I say "Sig*r Ros," if you wondered what the almost/not quite music of the Audi commercial is. Duh.

* Seen recently: Ladies in Lavender, directed by Charles Dance (looking as hunky as ever in the after-bits) w/ Maggie Smith & Judi Dench. It's the kind of movie I am a little loathe to admit I like, since it's such my type and so obvious (domestic, English, small in scope, involving Judi Dench in any form whatsoever, although that's just life), but it was pretty good. A little beginnerish but good. Most interesting aspect was close look at how an older woman might fall in love with much younger man whether it was remotely appropriate or if she even wanted to. The sisters in the story the film's based on are in their 40s; having (amazing, yet) 70-yo actresses changed the flavor of that situation somewhat, I'm still parsing out how. But that Judi Dench...jebus. She looks beautiful, for one thing--all pink and gray and matching the Cornwall coastline--and her face is just a miracle of expression. It's astonishing what she conveys before even opening her mouth.

* By contrast: the things S*rah P*lin are saying right now about Obama, even if people are smart enough to see them for what they are, are diminishing us as a whole, it feels like. It makes my blood boil in my chest ("doesn't see America like you and I see America"?????), but it's also just...everything bad about American parochialism and jingoistic no-thinking political mud. Oh, and it's fucking racist, in the only ways she can really be on paper right now. I can't believe she's reaching for the WU.

* The most harrowing, real (ooo! so meaningless, that word, but still), vulnerable, actual reality TV on TV: Intervention on A&E. Jesus Christ. Some incredibly heartbreaking, amazing television and it manages to address a lot of issues besides addiction--because it's about addiction. Scary.

Monday, October 06, 2008

oh yes she did!!

Seasonal treats from the bff, how lucky am I!!! Thank you KAM!
The box is held to obscure my swollen, drooling mouth with the rubber lips and novocaine-ed cheek (I just got home from having first part of crown done. More soon on that.) So that means I can't eat them yet, but for now just the smell is OOOO.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Twiggy Muddy Sludge!

How to make a steaming cauldron of
Twiggy Muddy Sludge
or Lentil, Potato, Snausage & Wild Rice Soup

Good for: plastering holes in thatched roofs; drying into bricks for adobe-based architecture; tuck-pointing; drawing splinters; soothing the burning and redness of anaphylactic shock associated with those allergic to bee stings, in the form of a poultice; general nutritional needs; camouflage markings in deep jungle military maneuvers.

1. Saw off a decent pile of lardons from a package of frozen thick-cut bacon and render them slowly in a big pot you'll be cooking A Lot of stuff later. When they are nicely crisp, drain them with a slotted spoon on paper towels and pour off all but 1 T of the bacon fat. You'll have about 1/2 c. of lardons when you're done. Set em aside (bundle the paper towels in a bowl and cover; they'll keep their texture in the fridge okay).

2. In the meantime pick over and rinse a pound of lentils. Cut up some aromatics, whatever you have (even none is fine--doesn't matter): an onion, carrots, celery, a pepper, garlic, whatever and cook those first in the bacon fat, stirring, stirring. Then dump the lentils in. Add a couple quarts of chicken stock, some bay leaves, vinegar, tomato paste, cumin, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, Worchestershire sauce. Cook a long time. 35-40 min recommended; if you let it go 20 min too long and come back to find it (from the top at least) a steaming cake of drying lentils, stir up the liquid from the bottom in relief and take out the bay leaves. You do want to end up with a liquidy mess when done. At this point it's easiest if you get exhausted with the whole process and throw beans in the fridge overnight, because the next step's easier cold.

3. Puree your lentils, however you have to do it. If you use your blender, do it in batches, and this is where Cold makes it easier (those sitcoms where people blender stuff all over the kitchen are real, man.) You want the mixture quite pureed--lentil skins can taste less like textural contrast and more like a mistake to the tooth.
Reserve puree in a bowl to the side.

(4,5 & 6 happen semi-simultaneously, depending on stove size, etc. Also 3, kinda.)

4. Prepare the Meat for your soup in your big pot that you've rinsed out. I sauteed very slowly in a little olive oil: cubes of leftover ham, very thin slices of frozen breakfast sausage and some thin slices of leftover flank steak. Add the bacon bits too. Get em going.

5. Set 3-4 peeled cubed potatoes in a pot of cold salted water to parboil. I used starchy russets; I think red waxys (you'd use more) would actually better in this case--they were hard to keep from disentegrating. But whatever. Cook them until underdone, drain in colander and cover with a tea towel. Note: RESERVE 2 c. of the potato cooking liquid in a pyrex measure in case you need to thin out soup.

6. Cook around 1-1/4 c. wild rice in all chicken stock (around 2-1/3 c.). It's not going to smell that good. It will take around 45-50 min including resting/fluffing time. Wild rice...such an adult film star.

7. NOW TO MIX! Add beans to meats in pot. Then add potatoes, stirring well, then add wild rice for the twiggy finale. Stir and heat through. Add potato water as necc.

8. You will now have a pot of greyish grassy lumpy soup that weighs about 30 pounds. There will be enough salt in it probably from the meats. When it go to this point I was sick of dealing with it so I dished myself a bowl and put it in the fridge once it cooled, let it do its marrying of flavors in the cold. If I had a bigger/soup pot or a bigger stove, I might have done more cooking/fidgeting/marrying there, but it wasn't gonna work for me.

It ages well. Makes enough for a good 2-3 Tupperwares'-full in the freezer, once you're sick of it again. Here it is with toasted buttered cornbread (have you ever seen so much fiber in one bowl? it should have imploded), but it sure doesn't need much accompanying.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

It's Back

From exactly the first episode of the second season through the last episode of the fourth, and a herky-jerky way descending through the fifth, Roseanne was the best show on TV. It had found dramatic rhythm (the first season is sometimes more like an uneasy stretched-out stand-up bit), and also had great narrative momentum, amazing actors, an absorbing sense of place/purpose, story arcs of every length, and best of all, it surprised. It swerved. The writing was fantastic. It made you gasp sometimes at the unexpected. It didn't fit sitcom patterns for joke or dramatic pay-off, and was exhilarating.

It was also very much the sitcom that kept me company (this would have been 1989-1993, the period I'm talking about) during my post-college, George Bush I, post-1987 crash, recession-filled, doyouwantfrieswiththat years. The years I was fighting other recent college grads for telemarketing jobs, that the help wanted section became an arid, mocking joke, that the dream of the goose from a college degree came crashing to a stop.

The fact that Roseanne had so much to say about the recession, the hunt for jobs you didn't want anyway, the frightening limits of evil bosses and constant worry about the future was not an accident. It was really comforting, partly because it was so smart and one step ahead of my problems.

The point now is that, especially if you're lucky enough to catch reruns in the 2nd to 5th season cycles, the shows are delivering a world-weary and perspicacious punch due to our current financial crisis. They sparkle, can make you gasp at their twisty turns and satisfying fuck-you-ness. Most of all they comfort. They were always great, but now, one Clinton and another Bush later, I'm even gladder they're still around.

Fatty Life in America

Fatty Life in America
A Play in One Act
by Elizabeth M. Tamny

first performed on the blogger stage Oct 4, 2008
an EMT production

TIME: No time particularly fun
PLACE: The office of a medical professional, any kind
SETTING: Fluorescent, icky, silence broken by occasional crinkle of paper a FAT CHICK is sitting on.


LIGHTS UP: Enter medical professional of any variety, reading chart.

(Almost disappointed, certainly confused) Are you [emph] sure you're not hypertensive?


The End

NOTE: If desired, line can be repeated 20-30 times before lights down.
* All Rights Reserved *
* Please contact EMT agency for performance in schools and community centers*

Thursday, October 02, 2008

more kitchen mumblings from the penurious-ish

Other recent successful happenings (small h)--to keep myself interested/inspired. Look away if yer bored!

- Adding acai berry sorbet to my Wacked-Out So Very Un-Dairy Smoothie--muy bueno. Don't like it so much straight, so it's perfect in there. Current lineup is fruit juice/seltzer/juice concentrate/sorbet base in some variety, with flax seeds & oil, wheat germ and various powdery potions. Have learned moderation with it, too--much better to fling a blender-full on a container in the fridge and have some every day (keeps better than I thought--used to think I had to drink it all at once). I also bought a cheap plastic bin for my freezer to separate all the bags of frozen fruit and keep track of them better (I buy only on sale...they are spendy).

- Delish! Buttermilk chocolate chip pancakes (mini chocolate chips). This batch a little deflated because I used the batter two days in a row and by day 2 the oomphy buttermilk height is gone. Chocolate chips are perfect things to stock in the freezer, I've realized. Like little boxes of soy milk, they make all sorts of desserts possible. I don't like using them where 'real' chocolate is required--too waxy--but they are great for quick toppings (melt w/ soy milk for ice cream) and cookies and such. I like the Ghirardelli 60% chips and the Hershey's minis, which are especially fabulous in oatmeal cookies. Also good to buy on sale.

- Chopped grilled ham on toasted corn bread, with pan sauce made w/ Riesling and stock...very very g.

- Flank Steak a la Whatever Marinated Some Indefinite Period of Time was EPIC. I wish I could remember what was in the marinade exactly, other than splashes of the basics--a huge glug of Tropicana OJ and some spicy-ish deli mustard, I know--anyhow, after at least two days of marinating I was like gah yah must cook before it disappears. I heated the oven/grill pan to 450, and threw it in there for 10 min on each side. It was definitely past the lauded flank steak medium rare stage--not enough pink (I think the meat was pretty dark from the marinade, as well), and too high a temp when I took it out--but it was AMAZING. I started sawing off lil bits too early! (schade...shame to waste any of that juice). But I let most of it rest under foil for a while and it was just...spectacularly juicy and delicious.

Anyhow, I ate a piece of it for dinner. Sliced steak, that's it. The same day I had a root canal, which tells you something about how tender it was. I dunno, when I'm ravenous for red meat like that, it feels like it's metabolizing in about 2 seconds flat. "Folding a chop into the system" (DL Sayers). My eyes feel sparkly and fur smooth (that's MFK). No digestive rumblings of any kind, you're sort of mainlining nutrition. Just to try to splain the feeling. So...good steak. And there are leftovers. I may or may not try to incorporate into the lentil soup that is coming together as we speak. If that one works it's gonna be a great success. If not...useless tupperwares full of guilt-tweaking pale green blended stuff in the freezer. Crossing fingers.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I woke up from a nap (gott sei dank) with my subconscious in a huge knot about Twitter today. Which I think is funny, because I don't understand how Twitter actually works, at all, although instinctively I see that it is making us another piece more accountable, trackable, findable...endlessly documenting of what we are doing or knowing or finding out. I was really pissed about it; while I was still way more asleep than I realized I lay there planning paragraphs of things I wanted to say that I can't even remember now. Too weird funny.

I can say that suddenly all the ramifications of such a thing were suddenly clear, all the way to the bottom, in that way they can be in dreams/subconscious. I could see into the future, see sideways into other lives.... And it's not good. There's something really wrong about it. Not exactly sure why though.

I'm off to Facebook! (verb form). Hahahahaha.
I'm currently pacing around my apartment, glaring and flicking my tail like a cat's who's glad to be out of her carrier but still pissed by recent treatment at veterinarian hands and quite unsure if she's ready to trust again or even be happy because what's the fuckin point if there are things like root canals in this world. If you see what I mean. That was easily one of the more miserable dental experiences of my life.

I am assuming the macho thrill of having survived and being DONE will begin soon, as will my thankfulness at the (relatively-speaking) pain free period of modern dentistry I am lucky enough to live in. For now, though...I hiss. And go back and sulk in the corner of my carrier.