Saturday, February 25, 2006

I am getting very tired of Pledge Week on my Local Member-Supported Public Television Station. And you know what I found out? After you pledge your money? You still have to listen to them yap about it.

15 minutes out of every half hour. And also, a coffee mug costs a total of $50. That is a shitty deal.

I'm not doing anything that I'm supposed to be doing right now. Well, I am making bread (y'all! I found the BEST bread machine oatmeal bread recipe! I'll tell you all about it in a minute!) and I did rearrange one of the kitchen counters and do a load of laundry...but I am NOT studying or working on my thesis (the most important thing that I should be doing right now that I am not doing.) And that's what I should be doing.

What I am doing: eating toast (on aforementioned bread!), drinking tea, watching BBC TV As Time Goes By, and reading the internets. I found new favorite blogs! Miss Doxie, and New Jan Brady, and Anna Beth, and Wendy. What a bunch of really, really funny women who are really, really good writers!

Here's a weird thing. I like boy everything mostly better (dogs, cats, husbands, often friends) but I almost always like women writers better (especially including my biggest junk-reading weakness, mystery novels.) In fact, I can only think of a very few man bloggers that I find entertaining (and it's Patrick.) (That doesn't count the several male-persuasion food bloggers I love, of course - I'm just thinking of entertainment blogging.) (And come to think of it, about 1/3 of the academic blogs I like are men.) (I think. I don't really know if Bardiac is a man or a woman.)

Anyhow, here's that bread machine recipe. Mix in a large glass measuring cup: 1 cup boiling water and 1/2 cup oats. Stir in 2 tbs butter, 1 tbs blackstrap molasses, 2 tbs honey, 1.5 tsp salt, 1 beaten egg. Let sit a couple minutes. Put in the bottom of your bread machine pan, add 3 cups bread flour (good with some whole wheat) and sprinkle on 2 tsp yeast. Crust control light (very tender) or medium; 1.5 lb loaf. YUM!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

I have been craving Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie ice cream over and over and over since I got pregnant, but even a pregnant girl can only send her husband to the store at 9 pm on a frigid February night so many times. So I made some. And it was good. Here's how: (it's Philly-style, so it's totally fast and easy if you keep your chiller bucket for your Donvier in the freezer)

2 cups each whole milk and heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt (which I forgot)
1 tsp each vanilla and mint extract
About 10 oreos, all mushed up with a rolling pin

Stir everything but the cookies together (till the sugar dissolves) and pour into the chill bucket. Crank a few times (I have a hand-cranked Donvier) and add the cookies when it reaches soft-serve stage. Harden in the freezer if necessary (I think maybe the chiller is less chilly now than it used to be - it takes longer to freeze the ice cream hard, and we usually have to put it in the freezer to harden off a little to get it just right.) But DAYUM, it hit the spot. (Of course it would be better with fresh mint, but y'all, it's cold out there. This summer I'll do it the right way.)

Now: going to work on thesis! First 5 pages due to advisor by Tuesday! And getting observed in the classroom Wednesday! And LOTS of reading to do as well! Plus I'm sleepy all the time (took a 2 hour nap today) and PBS Bleak House comes on in 45 minutes. See how cultured I am with my work avoidance skills?

Monday, February 13, 2006

I do NOT understand why some of these blog people are constantly getting their asses kissed by commentors. Again, not naming names - but one of the BIG food blogs is just. not. funny - and yet people are apparently falling all over the floor and pissing themselves at work from THE HILARITY. (At least according to the comments they leave.)

There are tons of people blogging who actually ARE funny (Mimi Smartypants, Amalah, Finslippy, Sarah Hatter - I can think of a bunch of other ones.)
But these forced "comedy routines" (and the person has a book contract now!!) are just....ew.

Oh well. Lowest common denominator, I suppose.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I'm kind of freaked out this whole having-a-baby thing. Mainly because MOST bloggers (my primary source of information, of course) who blog about their babies are freaking out all the fucking time. It's often this super-angsty high drama (and no, I'm not naming any names) about how stressful life is with kids, and how things are totally different now, and how they doubt themselves all the time...tragedy, tragedy.

But it doesn't have to be that earth-shaking, right? I mean, some people just sort of hang out with their babies and have fun. Like Amalah and Mimi Smartypants.

To the Shipping Department: can I get a kid like Noah or Nora please? Funny and good and not too tightly wound? (Unlikely since both R and I are your garden-variety drama queens, but I can always hope.) (At least we're pretty much guaranteed the funny part, unless somebody in the Shipping Department has a really twisted sense of humor...)

The food has been traditional and boring around here lately. I mean, if you want my recipe for spaghetti and meatballs or banana bread, just let me know, but I figure you know how to make your own versions of those. (Except the meatballs, which were pretty fucking good.)

FlyLady rules, is the new credo around here. There are actually some clean closets in this house! And I cleaned the (50 year old) range with a toothbrush - I got rid of a half-century of kitchen grease and goop (and then I heard a sizzling inside and smelled a bad electric smell and now the plug on top of the range doesn't work and neither does the oven - but it sure does LOOK good.) (Yes, I baked a full normal-sized loaf of banana bread in the toaster oven. And it was actually really good.)

So that's what's new around here. Maybe I'll make something really delicious for Valentine's Day, and you (and my husband) will get lucky.

Or maybe we'll order pizza.

Friday, February 10, 2006

I guess I feel a little better. Honestly, though, I'm extremely overwhelmed with my life right now. I'm stressed about having a baby (what if I'm a sucky mom? What if I continue to be lazy? Don't you have to have your own shit together to be a parent?) I'm stressed about school (I'm already a little bit behind on classwork, and I'm kind of freaking out about the master's thesis - I feel so over that paper already. It feels like a whole new project now, and that's daunting as hell. Which brings me to the next stressor in the Anxiety Parade - if I'm no good at working independently now, how the hell am I supposed to do it when I'm done???)

And I'm trying this FlyLady shit - don't get me wrong, it's a good plan, and I think it's doable - but I'm so goddamn tired all the time! I feel like something is always giving way, and I think I should be able to do it all. Which I suppose, upon reflection, is a mite unreasonable, but there it is. Sheer guilt and perfectionism - what am I worried about? That's the personality profile of the perfect academic!! (Or else the completely neurotic one with sever writer's block.)

On another note, at least we cooked dinner tonight. And R has been (zigzagging) towards helping with the house more (one benefit of the FlyLady thing - when it's really clean, there's more impetus to keep it clean.) I made Chicken Paprikash for the first time. (That's another thing - I'm trying to use up food from the freezer and pantry for the next week or two. I've been a little too much of a hoarder and it's hard to find things in both freezers now, so I want to clear them out to make room for more cooked doubled meals rather than just ingredients. Plus it's time to rotate it all.) So look out for less fresh ingredients and more frozen/pantry dry staples coming up this week. (Like risotto - I've got a shitload of arborio rice in there that I very rarely use, and it's probably 3 years old. Making risotto this week!!)

Anyhow, here's the recipe as eventually modified (for health reasons and what we had on hand reasons) - the original is from the Fanny Farmer cookbook.

Chicken Paprikash
3 large chicken breasts (it calls for bone-in whole cut up chicken)
4 tbs butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tbs sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
3 tbs flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup full-fat yogurt

Melt the butter (I also added a touch of olive oil to reduce burning) in an iron skillet and brown the chicken breasts well on each side over med to med-high heat. (This spit at me like a motherfucker, so be careful. It burned me under the eye.) Remove chicken to a platter and saute the onion till translucent over medium. Mix in paprika and cook 1 minute; add the tomato and chicken broth. (If it's very liquidy, reserve 1/2 cup of broth for later.)

Lower heat and simmer for 7 minutes; add the chicken back and cover; cook for 30 minutes, turning once. Remove chicken to a platter. Sprinkle the flour over the stuff in the pan and whisk briskly till smooth. Cook for 3 minutes. Gradually add enough of the reserved chicken stock to make 1 cup liquid sauce; add the cream and whisk. Remove from heat and whisk in yogurt. Spoon over the chicken and serve.

They say to serve it over noodles, but guess what? I was trying to use up some new potatoes, so we boiled those and broke them open and ate it over that. It was a touch on the bland side - it would probably be better with lowfat sour cream than the yogurt, and perhaps with a combination of hot and sweet paprikas instead of just sweet. But it was certainly respectable (and my husband liked it a lot.)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

...Let me set it down
At once, - I have been wrong, I have been wrong.
We are wrong always when we think too much
Of what we think or are: albeit our thoughts
Be verily bitter as self-sacrifice,
We're no less selfish.

EBB, Aurora Leigh (4.438-443)

it's been a long time since i posted. i've been very very busy with school and have not been cooking nearly as much - lots of pickup, catch as catch can type meals. this semester i am writing my master's thesis AND taking three classes AND teaching AND applying for a big grant. so it's been nuts.

i will get back to posting sometime soon - perhaps in march when i'm done with the thesis. also, i'm pregnant. and my dog of 9 years, my best friend, my canine soulmate, died last week. so i have a lot on my plate.

so that's why i won't be posting much for a while.