serinde: (feminine complaint)
serinde: (food)
I am somewhat covered in bees this week. It's mostly not start-of-semester crap, strange to say, but other things that are all landing at the same time; and I am never at my mental/emotional best when I can't exercise, so this is of course going to end wonderfully for everyone. But Mom is coming to visit this weekend, and I need to clean house, and tonight was theoretically the only evening I can do it. At the same time, I am again overpressed with farm share bounty; but lo! there is a work barbecue/potluck tomorrow! My bees were making it difficult for me to even figure that out, and I lost some time to general lazy-ass nothing, but in the event it proved that the avoidance brain would rather cook than clean.

I am not posting the recipe process per usual, because I am using nearly straight-up recipes from Smitten Kitchen: Slaw Tartare, which cuts down on the strategic cabbage reserves as well as finishing up some cornichon and capers that have been sitting around forever[1], and Dimply Plum Cake (fnarr fnarr), because I have all of the plums in the world[2].

It is now 9:40 and I have not cleaned a blessed thing other than dishes. The whole place is covered in cat fur, I have pieces of a Bronzino sari dress and a half-done chemise all over the living room, the bathroom is a right mess, and the bed Mom is theoretically sleeping in may not in fact have sheets or pillows on it; I haven't checked. Oh, and I have no clean towels. Perhaps I shall buy new ones. ><

[1] Change from printed: I used half yogurt, half mayo.
[2] Change from printed: I used lemon olive oil in place of canola.
serinde: (food)
It's convenient to have your farm share land a couple days after you return from a two-week vacation and you have no food in the house. I had also possessed the wit to freeze some ground beef conveniently parceled into 3oz balls before I left; I put the Ziploc into the fridge when I left this morning, and lo! meat! Recipe so very loosely based on Smitten Kitchen's Lebanese stuffed eggplant that it might as well be something else.

1. Take two wee eggplants--one's 10-oz, one's 8-oz, well, how do we deal with this? The original desires you to take seriously tiny eggplants, hollow them whole, and stuff down. So let us do that to the smaller one, and cut & scoop out the larger one.

2. Chop some onion, start it sauteeing in a bit of oil. Should have used the lemon-infused oil. Hey ho. Also we are out of garlic. Poop. If you have some, add it here.

3. Chop up the scooped-out eggplant flesh, add to pan.

4. Liberally spice the mix with Auntie Arwen's Auspicious Omen curry blend, and also salt.

5. Add in the remaining portion of Sunday's rice, which is actually TJ's wild-rice-medley. It's probably about 1/2 c.

6. Add in about 6 oz. ground beef, which happens to be lean. Mix it all up and let the beef be a-browning.

7. When all is nicely integrated and cooked, lay the eggplants in the pan and fill them with glorp. There will be extra glorp. That's OK.

8. Add 1c. frozen chicken broth pucks. Realize that would have worked better without eggplant in pan. Take out the eggplant until the broth melts.

9. Re-add the eggplant.

10. Cover and let cook until the eggplant is fork-tender.

11. Remove one eggplant worth (reserving the 2nd for tomorrow), and blop 1/4 c. yogurt over top.


It needed more salt; rather a lot really. I think perhaps eggplant is one of those things that, like potatoes, soaks up salt? And I much regret my lack of garlic. But still, it is tasty and also very virtuous, leaving calorie allotments for plum cocktails.
serinde: (determination)
Two and a half weeks after my return, I am finally writing up my trip before I forget completely...

Setup: A year or so ago, I had come to the conclusion that if I did not commit to travel every few years, I was never going to see anything I wanted to see in this world. As this was coalescing, [ profile] solomita was looking to plan a trip too, so we joined forces (which ended up as "Ethan did most of the legwork"--not my intent, but he is a master at it) and started drumming up trade. Final roster: us two; college friend Joe; Ethan's Californian friend Debbie; [ profile] nedlnthred; her mom; and Beth's old chums Cindy and Kevin. Final trip length: 1 week. Final venue: Florence, with one day of day trip to San Gimignano & Volterra. (But with personal flexibility; Ethan flew out a week earlier and went to Venice and Lake Como; Joe left us a day early to spend a few days in Lucca and Pisa, etc.)

Day 1: Saturday )
serinde: (ze fiber arts)
In which I had a Moment of "I simply cannot wear any of these old things again"; which is ridiculous, really, but I know enough to get out of my own way if there's something actually motivating me, however illogical it may be.

So, there is an SCA event hight Mudthaw, and it's pretty big locally, and more so this year because our dear Baron Dave was stepping down and various & sundry of our peeps were getting significant awards. Therefore, of course, one wants to look one's best and hold up our side and all that good stuff. Combining this with the ever-present elephant in my mental room of "OMG do I not have enough clothes for two weeks of Pennsic", I determined at the beginning of this month that I should make a new dress.

Planning. )

Process. )

Presults. )

I feel a little discombobulated this morning, because I have been so monomaniacal about this project, and now I have a certain amount of " what?" I feel some urge to start working on another dress, being on a roll and striking while the iron is hot and other such figurative language, but I also don't know if I should do something else like, I dunno, laundry or vacuuming or sensibly planning out other obligations coming upon me. I seem to have two possible methods of working: "all in" and "avoidance". I'd like to even that out a little bit. Still, it feels really positive to have completed a project in a question of weeks rather than months or years, which are the usual units of measure.
serinde: (food)
In which the photo taken of our lobscouse for the Glorious First of June Aubrey-Maturin dinner is, I find, the first hit you get if you do a Google Image Search for lobscouse.
serinde: (Syringa vulgaris)
For as long as I can remember, people have told me that I should be a writer. Which makes it every flavor of ironic that I have never made any advancement whatsoever in such a direction. --I lie; there is a carefully-hidden plastic binder containing a number of scrawled pages produced at approximately age 14 that embody the worst type of Mary Sue-ified teenage crap you can imagine; and even at that tender age I couldn't re-read them without cringing. But other than that minor fit, no. Why should that be? I'm certainly a more-than-competent wordsmith; why have I never made a conscious decision to focus on that skill? Time to unpack. )
serinde: (ki)
Today marks the end of two (work) weeks of the New Regime; I get out of bed at 6am, do half an hour of yoga to Dengue Fever's "Cannibal Corpse", make a cup of tea or coffee (depending on the day), and drink that while I write morning pages for half an hour. Then I get ready for work and all that. Weekends are slack-permissible. I have fought the lizard brain down and not missed a day, in spite of tiredness, malaise, and purring cats.

Therefore the lizard brain has developed a new tactic. "It's been two weeks," it whispers. "What's changed? It's not doing any good. You might as well sleep in, or lounge in bed petting a kitty."

This is, of course, arrant nonsense. No, doing yoga hasn't made me lose weight--but I knew it wouldn't; not even when I was doing an hour of it three days a week. That's what the bike is for. And yes, my left leg is still very weak and not able to keep up--but it will take more than two stupid weeks to make that happen and I know this because I have been in physical therapy enough to be clear on how long it takes to see progress, particularly with a chronically, multiply screwed-up limb like this. The yoga's purpose is to keep me loose and flexible and to kick-start my metabolism in the morning, and it is doing those things. Secondarily I'm wanting it to help me get into that meditative, Zen-ish state, but this is harder when I have to tell myself what pose to do next rather than just follow a teacher.

Similarly, no, writing morning pages hasn't cured me of mental wharrgarbl and emotional roller-coasters & confusion--but that's not what it does. It drags all of that out into the open to be looked at, understood, and hopefully addressed. Eventually, yes, one expects a milder internal climate, but this is an ongoing and extended process and not to be sorted in a couple of weeks.

Finally, it has not cracked me loose on more public writing; one notes that my last Foojournal post was the one describing what new regime I was enacting, and there's been nothing since, here or elsewhere. OTOH, I have been focused on sewing, and secondarily research. So mental things are moving, and I will take that as a reason for cautious optimism. Wait and see, I think.

The milestones I'm looking for sound something like this:
* Getting up and doing being a reflexive habit, not a mental dialogue every. single. morning.
* Signs of my left leg getting stronger. Right now, rising into high and then crescent lunge is very difficult and shaky. My end-goal is for it to be as stable as my right side, but I'll take any visible improvement to start with. (Hilariously, I'm perfectly fine in Tree pose on that side, which is generally considered much harder. i do not even.)
* When I have any kind of mental agitas, correctly identifying and using the right tools to deal with it; which, I think, exhibits as "not losing several hours/an evening to wallowing, moping, internet uselessness, or other unhelpful and unproductive behaviors". This doesn't mean I can't slack if I feel that's the right pill for my ill, but it should be an active and mindful choice. (I can actually point to a level-up here; on Tuesday, I suddenly felt un-obsessed with the dress I'd been working monomaniacally on, and was sliding down the rabbit hole of totally wasting the evening. I stopped myself, sat down, and wrote down a list of everything I didn't feel like doing. After that, I realized I kinda felt like finally organizing my contact synchronization and upgrading my laptop to Mountain Lion, both of which needed doin'. Profit!)

I'm hoping that when the weather breaks and I can ride my bike more, this will help reinforce the benefits I'm getting, too. It usually puts me in a better state for the day (and also reduces my appetite, yay).
serinde: (academentia)
As previously threatened, I have this week started getting up earlier (6am), I do half an hour of yoga, make a cup of tea, and then write for half an hour. Heretofore, "writing" has meant "morning pages", but what came out of said pages today--coupled with a sudden screeching left turn last night into a whole new distracting line of potential 14th century research--is that I also want to increase my output of semi-public production, whether that be organized personal nattering here, creative writing ... elsewhere, research essays, or posts to the blog [ profile] nedlnthred keeps trying to get us to collectively start. At the moment, I am leaning towards preserving that half-hour for morning pages; I think their role as Colon Cleanse For Your Brain is critical. Moreover, if I actually get into a serious writing groove, I don't want to have it arbitrarily cut short by having to proceed to work. (But I can flag things in that brain dump to write about or research later.)

I have decided to give myself permission to take the equivalent of a coffee break at work to write small posts like this one; I will accordingly reduce the rest of my usual fuckin'-around-on-intarwubs periods. Not that I have oodles of it anyways, but what I have is better spent thus than hitting reload on Facebook for the umpteenth time.

For more in-depth writing, well... I haven't historically had a lot of success with reserving a regular evening or time slot for $PERSONAL_THING, though I understand that's how Serious Writers roll; for me, the exigencies of the moment have always steamrollered it. "Oh, but I gotta do laundry." "Oh, but I gotta pay bills." "Oh, I just don't feel it tonight." I could try that again--and actually commit to it this time, make it a priority--or, the technique which worked for the last couple of knitting projects, is to commit not an entire evening to $THING, but set aside 1-2 hours. With knitting or sewing, it was a little easier; I could say "I'm going to watch one episode of Burn Notice/two episodes of Tiger & Bunny/[etc.] and do handwork" and that reserved a clearly defined chunk of time, but also left enough of the evening to eat, clean up, and do a couple chores as needed. I feel that writing and research will be more difficult to parcel out this way, but if I don't, I think it will keep not ever happening.
serinde: (determination)
[personal profile] serinde: This is another element of the thought I had this morning, about how I think part of the reason I am so emotionally out of whack these last couple weeks is due to lack of time for reflection and writing and things.
[ profile] nedlnthred: *nods*
[ profile] nedlnthred: Kinda hafta schedule down time in when the calendar gets like this.
[ profile] nedlnthred: I'd hoped to have some last night, but alas.
[personal profile] serinde: The other element is that I do not have the oomph to do any of these things after work. And there is only so much morning to go around, unless I want to be like [ profile] cobrawoman and get up at 4:30.
[personal profile] serinde: Maybe it is the right answer, but I mean, ulaeulauelauelauelae.
[ profile] nedlnthred: Yeah, I learned a while back that I can only do one thing before work.
[personal profile] serinde: I have the bandwidth if I had the time.
[ profile] nedlnthred: But scheduling an hour of down time for tea after work, before meeting whomever is one option.
[personal profile] serinde: In fact it would be really glorious to do half an hour of yoga, then make a cup of tea, then write and drink tea for half an hour, and then get ready for work.
[personal profile] serinde: OH HEY IF IT IS GLORIOUS I SHOULD DO IT
serinde: (Delirium)
In which I begin to wonder how much of my mental static has been because I haven't slowed down enough to reflect and write in, like, months: no morning pages, no thoughtful posts, just stupid Facebook ephemera. (When I'm riding my bike, I get at least some pure thinky time, and that's something, but I've been able to do that all of thrice since the holidays.)

It is also, I think, indicative that my immediate reaction to this thought was "oh Christ where'm I going to fit this in?".
serinde: (food)
I remain overpressed with squash, and there's another box staring down the tunnel at me next week, so it behooved me to stir my stumps a bit. I'm kinda bored with roasting, though, so I was still looking for new and exciting options. I must tell you, I'm getting a lot of mileage out of Smitten Kitchen; the stuff there is generally good and -- bless her -- organized by vegetable. This recipe calls for being served over couscous, which I do have, but I don't feel like I need a starch whomp, so I ain't botherin'.

1. Start eviscerating a sugar pumpkin from its rind. OH RIGHT THIS IS WHY ROASTING THE SQUASH IS POPULAR. (The recipe calls for butternut, but let's be honest, most of the winter squashes are created equal.) After some cursing and wasteage, cut the flesh into chunks.
2. Chop a smallish onion and a few cloves of garlic.
3. Melt a tbsp. of butter and one of olive oil in the Dutch oven.
4. Get distracted by a naughty, naughty man on the phone.
5. Return to the kitchen. Oh dear. It is now a browned butter Moroccan stew. I am sure the Berbers had this problem sometimes. Sort of.
6. Skim the worst of the browned particulate matter off, then throw in the onions & garlic. Add some cumin, salt, pepper, and a cinnamon stick. Let that go for a bit.
7. Recipe calls for potato. There is no potato, but there is a sweet potato. We're all tubers here, amirite? Peel it and cut it into large dice.
8. Add the squash & potato to the pot, stir to coat with the spices, let it go a few minutes.
9. Add about 2c. chicken broth and a can of diced tomatoes.
10. Prepare to open the can of chickpeas. Watch in annoyance as the pull tab pulls without doing anything to the can itself.
11. Attack the chickpea can with a regular can opener. Well, that didn't work at all. Fortunately, we are equal to this task; call in the Swiss Army (or in this household, the Leatherman). THANK YOU.
12. Add drained chickpeas to pot, for fuck's sake.
13. Take the real saffron from the locked treasure vault, add three threads.
14. Bring the pot to a boil; turn down to simmer, cover, and let go until the hard things are soft (aheheh).

Results: Very fragrant and pleasant. One is meant to serve these with preserved lemons; and in the holiday season I had actually gotten an Imperial ass-ton of Meyer lemons, some of which were earmarked for experimenting thus, particularly after having read [ profile] caelfinn's article on same, but I never got the round tuit. Bah. Making do with plain yogurt.

There is one reason to serve over couscous, which is that it gives the broth something to soak into, but it's certainly not necessary.
serinde: (on the short bus)
[personal profile] elibalin: So how did it go last night?
[personal profile] serinde: We put in a decent showing but did not place. (By half a point goddammit.)
[personal profile] serinde: Do you know Alf's real name?
[personal profile] elibalin: Gordon Shumway.
serinde: (food)
Turnips are a rather fraught topic with me. I wouldn't eat them at all as a kid (except when Mom would sneak them into stew and say "no no, that's a potato"), and then, when I grew up and started having my own Thanksgiving dinners, [ profile] audiovile felt that it was not truly T-day unless there was mashed turnip on the table. And thus I was at much labor and headache to make this happen. And only he would ever eat it, and not much of it, at that. Grump.

But, turnips I have, and therefore I must do something with them. Another CSA-provided recipe, thus:

1. Chop 3/4 c. onion, start sauteing gently in 2 tsp. butter.
2. Recipe calls for leeks. I have no leeks. How about a clove of garlic?
3. Peel and chop a turnip of ~1.5 lbs. (Or around 4 cups.) Put it in the pot when the onions have come along nicely, and let them saute for a couple minutes too.
4. Recipe says 6 c. of broth AND 2 c. water. This seems utterly insane for something described as "creamy", particularly since there is still milk to be added at the end. Let us start with 2 c. chicken broth and 1 c. water.
5. Throw in some fresh thyme because, as Hillary said of Everest, "it was there".
6. Let simmer, covered, until turnips are tender.
7. Immersion blend the snot out of it. Yeah, 3 c. liquid was plenty.
8. Stir in 3/4 c. milk, grind in some pepper, and...seriously? There's no salt in the recipe? I don't think so.
9. Let all that simmer for a bit.

Taste test: Not bad. There is a slight sweetness to it that you do not get with potato. I'll leave that on the warm until lunch as well. It's very virtuous, too.

30 min. later: Oops. The fire wasn't completely off. Mmmm, curdled milk!
serinde: (food)
I am again overpressed with squash (not to mention other root vegetables), not having been home much in the last week or two to deal with the accumulation. So there will be some posts in the next few days.

Today's effort is loosely based on a recipe given out by the CSA, which is loosely based on something by Mark Bittman. I was a little dubious, but was in need of something I could take along as a side dish for lunches, so why the hell not.

1. In a saucepan, combine 1/2 c. cranberries, 3/4 c. orange juice, and 1 Tbsp of minced ginger. Simmer until the berries start a-burstin'.
2. Start peeling and eviscerating a squash. The original is for a butternut squash; I had a warty pumpkin, so used that. Be annoyed by the fact that it says "a squash", not "X lbs of squash" or "X cups of squash".
3. The berries have burst. Take the saucepan off the stove & stir in 3 Tbsp of oil and...
4. Realize you used up all the honey on the Xmas cake, so use 1 Tbsp of ginger syrup instead.
5. At this point you are supposed to be done with the squash. HA HA HA have these fucks never tried to peel a raw squash before? Go back to it. There is, by the bye, squash bits all over the kitchen at this juncture.
6. FINALLY. Whip out the food processor and enjoy that once a year when the shreddy wheel is the best thing you own.
7. Dump the shredded squash in a big bowl and add the dressing. Stir up real good.
8. Taste test. At this point it's a little disappointing; tastes like raw squash with some orange juice on it. Suspect that the annoyance in step 2 is to blame, and that we have too much squash to dressing--but even so, the other flavors in the dressing aren't really coming out, not even the ginger, which is pretty surprising. Need more sweet and less acrid.
9. Whomp in a quarter-cup of apricot preserves and maybe 1/3 c. of raisins. Yes, that helped a bit.
10. Hoping that a little sitting and blending will do the rest, bodge it into a glass bowl and put in the fridge for consumption at lunchtime.
11. Start making the creamy turnip soup (see next post).
serinde: (what has this flag become?)
As I type this on the aged repurposed-from-work MacBook at the country estate, I have another window which is an OS X Screen Sharing session back to gfefx, on my desk at home; on which is running my last ever session of City of Heroes. And I can't even as who should say play, because between the screen resolution mismatches and the lossage over the connection and the fact that the Mac client is a mess inside a WINE wrapper anyways, if I tried to actually enter a combat the entire thing would probably go foom. So I'm standing on the steps of Atlas Park holding a torch instead of going to bed, whence [ profile] sweh has already retired, charitably not saying anything about my insanity. Why?

CoH has been a major part of my world for the last eight years. A bit less in the last couple, true; but before that time, I was online nearly every day. I started playing in September 2004, while [ profile] audiovile was noodling with World of Warcraft; soon I got him into it, and then [ profile] elibalin, then [personal profile] xlerb, then others. Some of our D&D group joined; then some of Steve's co-workers; occasionally Dave or Johan or [personal profile] ideological_cuddle. We settled on Sunday nights as our regular supergroup nights, and on other evenings Steve and I would go out as a duo, or Eli and I as the Team Supreme, or random other pick-up groups.
More memories and shibboleths ahoy )

There's so many more, and I'll probably think of them in the morning.

Four minutes to go.

Here comes the Nothing.
serinde: (food)
I should be sewing, but instead I am cooking. BECAUSE STARVING IN THE STREETS etc. And also avoidance behavior.

Yesterday: Spiced Pumpkin Milkshake )

Bacon Bourbon Brownies )
Next I must find somewhat to do with a) the remaining roasted pumpkin, and b) the 3 lbs of praties. Don't say soup. I always make soup.
serinde: (ki)
So the leadership program of great renown had its last session the first week of this month; and once that heat was off, as well as the start-of-semester wharrgarbl dying down, I determined to make another go at the various lifestyle changes I had worked out back in June. If you don't feel like making the clicky, it boiled down to these:

1) stop what I'm doing by 10:30, be in bed by 11
2) do some yoga or other calisthenics in the morning, rather than coffee-and-stare-at-internets; carry coffee into work
3) ride bike more
4) spend less money; take lunch more, cook more
5) be diligent about tracking what I eat

Concurrent with this, right after the program ended I was feeling unusually down. There are, of course, any number of possible contributing factors--kitty, major project stress, seasonal change?--but it made a useful benchmark.

For each of the last three weeks, I have done yoga 4 of 5 work mornings; rode my bike to & from work either two or three times; been increasingly good about food tracking (it's not 100% but we're getting there); and been cooking and taking my lunch more often than not*. I've also been going out less. I have not been entirely diligent about bedtime, but I'm in bed by 11:15 more often than not.

Results thus far:
+ I am in much, much better state of mind, on the whole.
+ Weight is at last starting to creep downwards.
+ I have spent a lot more time working on my stuff, whether it be knitting, sewing, cooking, or domestic improvements.
+ My complexion has gotten clearer (!). This makes little sense to me, considering I haven't eaten less sugar or chocolate, neither of which is usually my downfall anyways, but there it is.
+ The apartment is getting closer to where I want it to be.
+ Biking is becoming easier! I am in my top gear (of 7. don't judge me.) for much of the ride, and I can get up the first half of the OMG DOOM DOOM hill under the GWB.
- So far the yoga has not yet seemed to improve the weakness in my left leg.
- I keep waking up half an hour before my alarm, at what seems to be the end of a REM cycle? Then drifting back to sleep, then snapping awake when the alarm hits.

This looks like pretty unqualified success, and although it's really hard, in that first five minutes, to drag myself from the warm snuggly bed and go to something exercise-y, I always feel better when I do; and one morning the lizard brain had convinced me to lame out, and within ten minutes I found myself on the mat anyways. So it is full speed ahead, and maintain these changes as best I can through the exigencies of the holiday season.

* of course then I spent money I shouldn't have on fripperies, but I mean, one problem at a time
serinde: (food)
Dinner tonight is driven by three factors: 1) I am accumulating small winter squash at a rate of one per week, and I do not want to drown in them; 2) having just returned from a weekend away, there isn't much in stock beyond pantry items; 3) I'm tired and hungry and do not wish to faff around.

I found a recipe on teh intarwubs for simple squash + dessert: lop in half, rub one side with spicy and one side with sweet, and roast together. I couldn't quite leave it at that, of course.

1) Preheat oven to 375.
2) Lop squash in half, also flattening out the stupid spiky end bits that make them difficult to keep upright in the baking dish.
3) Pour a glass of the remaining sparkling GrĂ¼ner Veltliner, which admittedly has lost most of its sparkle. Oh hey, how many ounces are the champagne flutes? Measure it out. NO STOP IT FOCUS. (they're 3oz, by the way)
4) Brush each half with olive oil. Realize you meant to do the dessert half with butter. Oh well.
5) Mince about 1/4 of an apple fine, put in a small bowl.
6) What do we want in the dinner half? There's some goat brie. But no, that goes with fig butter. Put both in? No, that makes it too dessert-y. We also have regular goat cheese that has olives in it, that we haven't eaten because we hates the oliveses, yes, my precious. Maybe if we disguise it sufficiently it can be used up.
7) Peel & halve two cloves of garlic; add to dinner half.
8) Mince some onion, add to dinner half.
9) Take an herb rub that's made for lamb, rub liberally over dinner half, and toss the pile of allium with it. Sprinkle with salt.
10) Add some dried cranberries to the bowl of apple.
11) Look for brown sugar. How are we out of brown sugar? Grab maple sugar instead, toss fruit with that and some cinnamon.
12) Put all that in the dessert half, and dot with a little butter.
13) Bake for about 50 minutes. Add goat cheese to the dinner half as soon as the pan comes out, and let it glorp on in.

The success of this dinner is predicated, I think, on the fact that I made it while clad in nothing but diamond jewelry and a pearl tiara.


serinde: (Default)

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