Filed under: Uncategorized
This is what I spent all day yesterday working on. Gloria is about 9 inches tall. This is the first time in a very long time I’ve actually really been proud of something I’ve made. It feels kind of…odd, really. Is it a kind of narcissism to be so proud of an accomplishment? Part of me says it is, and that I should denounce it, get rid of the thing. Another part says to own it, and enjoy it. That’s what I’m doing for now.
I decided to spend the day tuning my sculpting skills, such as they are. I like making angels to give to teachers and all, but have been dissatisfied with the faces. I can’t do noses. They look like muppets. I’m also having trouble with jawlines and cheekbones and everything else that makes a face look like a real face.
So, I sat down with the skin-toned polymer clay and worked it out. After a couple of hours I think I figured out the nose, how to make a bridge, that sort of thing. It’s still large compared to the size of the head, but it looks like a real nose with nostril flares and so on. I’m proud of it. I’ve kinda got the eye socket thing figured out. Did you know that you don’t put the eyes up towards the top? Nope, they are right in the middle of the face. Any higher and your face looks…I dunno…microcephalic, or something. I do not have cheekbones figured out yet. It took a solid 2 hours to get the nose and forehead right. Lips are coming as well. I worked them out, but the result looked a bit like Toby Keith sans the 3 day beard. The face is a complicated thing. Maybe one day I can actually make a face that resembles a real person. I’m not sure I’d want to, but it would be nice to own the skill.
Sweet Daddio is entertaining an out-of-towner tonight, so supper is uncomplicated- a can of tomato soup and some grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s comfort food at it’s finest. The Bi-Lo had pork loins on sale, so I bought one to fix for dinner tomorrow night- a lovely complicated and labor intensive meal to make up for tonight’s shortcomings. Lemon risotto, I’m thinking, and probably a tossed salad with a homemade garlic vinagrette. The pork loin is big enough for dinner and to slice thin for sandwiches over the weekend. I’ve got some ham, and pickles, maybe we’ll have Cubans for one meal. Hm.
Maybe when I’m done making the face and all, I’ll take a picture of the finished product (a snow angel, 8 inches tall, wearing a ruffled cape and a red dress) and let you see. But only if it turns out satisfactory.
So that’s why I made cookies yesterday, and cried the blues, self flagellating and all. For some reason the standard “Eat your face off and spit the bones into the pond” PMS behavior didn’t quite manifest that way. Instead, it showed as a craving for butter and sugar (with oats, to make it nutricous…nutricious…um…nutrisious…ok, good for you, and worthy), and Emo Rootie, complete with black clothes and eyeliner. There’s a scary thought.
I spent alot of time yesterday feeling sorry for myself, and composing letters in my head apologizing to everyone I was ever rude to. It was a long list. Anyway.
Today I’m feeling a little taken for granted. Not by the entire household, just a certain member who automatically assumed that I could work some mysterious housewife magic and make his favorite pair of pants clean by waving a spoon at it, or something. I did show him how to work the bottle of degreaser, and suggested he wash said pants (a pair of much beloved Carhartt over-hauls gifted to him by the luminous Miss J, twin sister to the equally lovely Miss J.) He also hurt his back at work (it is a labor-intensive job, hurting one’s back is just about a given), got a lousy nights sleep because I wasn’t a mind reader and didn’t set him up with a heating pad, so while the pants wash he went back to bed, with heating pad lovingly fetched by me. He’ll be late to school. Oh well. It’s his diploma, not mine, and I refuse to sweat over it. However, his whole pant-washing expedition has thrown a wrench in my morning, causing a much desired shower to be postponed. Therefore I sit here at the computer, awash in my own egregiously feminine odeur.
And I wait for my steel cut oats to cook. There’s just enough butter for a bowlful, that with some milk and honey will make a good breakfast.
In other news, #1 discovered Sven Libek, a jazz musician who composed many a nature documentary soundtrack. Lovely stuff it is, and now it’s on my ipod to be listened to at my leisure. It is good to have at least one child who shares musical taste. everyone else, not so much. Heavy metal, country, hard rock…not my thing.
I think the oats are ready. Time to throw in some dried cherries and a handful of toasted almond, and watch the news. Cheers, y’all.
Filed under: Uncategorized
Cookies. I love cookies, fresh from the oven. With the notable exception of Oreos, I do not like mass produced cookies. Not at all. I mean, Chips ABlech are like little plaster discs thinly disguised with too much sugar and some obscure preservatives. Bleh.
Right now in the oven are 3 pans of oatmeal raisin cookies, my very favorite. Some coffee is perking to drink with the cookies when they come out of the oven. The house smells really good. Raisins and cinnamon. Mm.
And it’s one of those simple ridiculously domestic tasks I can do for my kids and they hug me for it. “COOKIES!” they shout, “HOW MANY CAN I HAVE?”
Supposedly there is a Family Heirloom Recipe for oatmeal cookies that my mother insists is vastly superior to every other recipe by virtue of it came over from Scotland way back when. It involves nutmeg (grated on the Heirloom Nutmeg Grater) and buttermilk and not nearly enough butter or sugar, making these bland little oatcakes. As for me, I think the very best recipe is the one on the Quaker Oats box. It has plenty of real butter and brown sugar and not the first fleck of nutmeg. It’s tried and true, it works well with creative additions like maybe nuts or chocolate chips, and it’s the one I use.
I have, in the past, made the Quaker recipe and given them to my mom, who exclaims with pleasure about their tasty goodness and isn’t that heirloom recipe just the best! Since she can’t imagine that I’d ever use anything else. I just smile and nod and say yes, it’s an excellent recipe.
Oh, and the Heirloom Nutmeg Grater Which Came Over From Scotland Before The Revolutionary War? Yeah, that one? It’s actually aluminum, probably from the 1950′s. I won’t say anything about that, tho, because it really does do a good job of grating nutmeg.
Filed under: Uncategorized
You are An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
|Since your accomplishments are seldom noticed,|
and you are rarely thought of, you are expendable.
That doesn’t mean your job isn’t important but if you
were in Star Trek you would be killed off in the first
episode you appeared in.
Click here to take the “Which Star Trek character are you?” quiz…
Filed under: family
I wonder if you ever stop worrying about your kids.
Filed under: food
Sweet Daddio found this recipe the other day, in the Williams Sonoma catalog. Good man, he has learned how to discern what’s good and what’s ridiculous, culinarily speaking. Anyway, I fixed it today. It’s bubbling gently on the stove even now, and all of us are slobbering heavily in anticipation. My word it smells good.
He even offered 2 of his fancy schmancy beers to the cause. You know it’s good if it has 2 premium beers in it.
I’ll say this, tho. It was a pain in the ass to make. Don’t bother fixing it if you can’t devote a couple of hours and all your attention, for it is labor intensive and very involved. Having said that, it’s way worth it. I can tell even now with it bubbling away on the stove.
Use a bigger pot than it says, I started out with the 6 qt pot it recommended, and ended up tranfering it to an 8 qt one. There’s lots of crusty bits and deglazing involved, some of which surely was lost in the transfer, so if you make it, use a bigger pot than you think.
There’s a crust on top. Williams Sonoma says to use their very pricy and packed-in-a-blue-crock stilton cheese. I’m using a tub of blue cheese crumbles from the deli case at Walmart. Stilton and it’s lofty ideals are too pricey for this chick. I’m also using a pair of Pillsbury pie crusts- the rolled up kind. I am not skilled with pie crust and didn’t want to jeopardize the blue cheese or the 2 sticks of butter the recipe called for. Pillsbury it is. Maybe one day when I’ve got Stilton-in-a-crock and too much time on my hands, I’ll make the crust the way they require. What you’re supposed to do is make this uber-buttery pie crust- 2 of them- and sandwich $10 worth of stilton cheese between the layers, then put it on top of the beef and beer filling and bake it, making some kind of “gastropub” confectionary.
Sweet Daddio spotted it first, and the catalog he handed me, with the recipe in it, was drool marked. Therefore, since I really don’t have ANYTHING better to do with my time, I set to laboring over it about 2 pm.
And it does smell mighty good.
Beef and Stout Pie, Williams Sonoma
7 Tbs. olive oil
1 lb. white button mushrooms, quartered
2 cups frozen pearl onions, thawed
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 1/2 lb. beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 1/2 cups Irish stout
1 cup beef broth
1 lb. carrots, cut into chunks
1 lb. red potatoes, cut into chunks
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh thyme
One 16-inch round Stilton pastry (see related recipe at left)
1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water
In a 5 1/2-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the mushrooms, onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
Season the beef with salt and pepper. Dredge the beef in the flour, shaking off the excess. In the Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add one-third of the beef and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes total. Transfer to a separate bowl. Add 1/2 cup water to the pot, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Pour the liquid into a separate bowl. Repeat the process 2 more times, using 2 Tbs. oil to brown each batch of beef and deglazing the pot with 1/2 cup water after each batch.
Return the pot to medium-high heat. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add the beef, stout, broth and reserved liquid, stirring to scrape up the browned bits. Add the mushrooms, onions, carrots, potatoes and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beef and vegetables are tender, about 3 hours.
Preheat an oven to 400°F.
Brush the rim of the pot with water. Lay the pastry round on top, allowing it to droop onto the filling. Trim the dough, leaving a 1-inch overhang, and crimp to seal. Brush the pastry with the egg mixture, then cut 4 slits in the top of the dough. Bake for 30 minutes. Let the potpie rest for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8 to 10.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. sugar
16 Tbs. (2 sticks/250g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water
4 oz. Stilton cheese, crumbled
In a food processor, combine the flour, salt and sugar and pulse until blended, about 5 pulses. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 pulses. Add 1/3 cup of the ice water and pulse 2 or 3 times. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky. If it is crumbly, add more water 1 Tbs. at a time, pulsing twice after each addition. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour, place on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper and roll out into a 12-by-16-inch rectangle. Sprinkle the cheese over half of the dough, then fold the other half over the cheese. Roll out the dough into a 16 1/2-inch square. Using a paring knife, trim the dough into a 16-inch round.
Refrigerate the dough until firm, about 10 minutes, then lay the dough on top of the beef and stout pie and bake as directed in that recipe. Makes enough dough for a 16-inch round.
Rootie’s Version of Stilton Pastry
2 pillsbury piecrusts- the rolled up unbaked kind
1 small tub of blue cheese crumbles
2 tablespoons melted butter
Spread the blue cheese evenly over one of the pie crusts. Top with the other crust and roll thin. Drape it over the beef and stout mixture, letting it sag into the pot. Brush with butter and bake.
Filed under: ridiculous!
Goodness, what a kerfuffle. I knew I should stick to less controversial topics, except that, I have opinions. I am usually loathe to air those opinions because of my allergy to confrontation. Let me give you all a little perspective, from the Rootie point of view.
I’ve been poor. I have been on public assistance and lived in very substandard housing. I’ve bought clothes at Goodwill and been grateful for the ability to do so. I’ve wondered if I was going to have food to feed my children. I know what it feels like to have nothing, and to be condescended to by people who had much more than I did. It was not a pleasant experience.
I’ve been wealthy. I’ve had more than enough money for anything I wanted. I’ve bought clothes at Dillard’s, and paid more for a jacket than an entire months budget for food, years before. I’ve gone 2 weeks, eating out every single day, because the kitchen was getting a high-dollar renovation. I know what it feels like to have everything I need, and then some. It is an exceedingly pleasant experience.
I know that if something happened, and I were to become poor again, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. My security lies in other areas than how much money is in the bank.
Having said all that…I think there’s a point in here somewhere…It’s rich people who have allowed my husband (and me, by default) to succeed and make more money than he ever dreamed possible. THe rich man who owns the company my husband works for has used his own money (it’s a privately own corporation) for capital improvements. These improvements are why my husband was hired in the first place. If he had not been hired here 4 years ago, he’d be unemployed, because the publically owned corporation he worked for went bankrupt, putting a couple thousand people out of work. If his current boss had been taxed to the degree certain politicians want, because he’s a Rich Fat Cat Feeding Off The Labor of the Little Man, he would not have the money to invest in the improvements, which are providing jobs for almost 50 people, including my husband.
This boss lives a very comfortable life. He has a well dressed and elegant family, and yet he considers the needs of his many employees before the extravagant desires of his own family.
I honestly don’t think he’s the only one in the US who’s like that.
It’s the rich people who provide the jobs for everyone else. I really don’t see why their drive and ambition should be penalized in a punitive manner.
I mean, after all, only (a double digit number)% of my husband’s income goes to taxes, I guess we could afford a bit more.
I’m thinking of the really wealthy people I know. Some of them are relatives, some collegues, some friends. I cannot remember a time when anyone of them complained about the taxes they pay. Not because they somehow perform that magic trick liberals (who love to spend other people’s money) insist they do- the one where they get out of paying taxes by sleight of hand or whatever trickery their highly paid accountant can scheme up- but because they pay their taxes, all of them, so we can have roads and policemen and schools.
I’ve lost confidence in the government’s ability to handle tax money, tho. Our schools suck, in spite of throwing more money at them. Our roads? the really good ones are the ones where the Senator with the most clout finagled the funds, by naming stretches after himself or his brother-in-law. So, just like with any addict, the government needs to be weaned off this endless supply, held accountable for what it spends, and dare I say?…oh yes…give control over to the states, for it is much easier to manage a state-sized budget than this bloated, gaseous cloud we call our federal govt.
Hah…and you thought I had no opinions.
I know for every example or opinion I’ve just aired there is another opposing one. I’m ok with that, but you aren’t going to change my mind, so don’t try. The fact is, my opinions here are based on personal evidence and plenty of thinking.
Filed under: Uncategorized
Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten
comes to $100.
If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day
and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw
them a curve.
‘Since you are all such good customers, he said, I’m going to reduce the
cost of your daily beer by $20.
Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the
first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what
about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the
$20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’
They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that
from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end
up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would
be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he
proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay!
The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing–(100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 —————(33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7———— (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12———— (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 ————(22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59———— (16% savings).
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued
to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare
‘I only got a dollar out of the $20, ‘declared the sixth man. He pointed to
the tenth man, ‘but he got $10!’
‘Yeah, that’s right,’ exclaimed the fifth man. ‘I only saved a dollar, too.
It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I!’
‘That’s true!!’ shouted the seventh man. ‘Why should he get $10 back when I
got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!’*
‘Wait a minute,’ yelled the first four men in unison. ‘We didn’t get
anything at all. The system exploits the poor!’
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat
down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill,
they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between
all of them for even half of the bill!
And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our
tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit
from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and
they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking
overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.