Sunday, February 22, 2009

Voices In My Head

I never intended this blog to be so meal-focused, it's just that I've gotten lazy in my writing and it's easier to post a photo than organize my thoughts. I can not even organize my sock drawer.

I've been in a frenzied state for what feels like years now. I keep thinking it'll let up soon but it doesn't. This means it's my coping methods that are the problem.

D. works nearly every night now, giving guitar lessons or holed up in the music room. I come home exhausted and collapse. Rinse, repeat.

I'm excited for Ai Lien and Andrew coming on Saturday though. I am hoping to do a full-blown brunch for us all on Sunday.

So yeah...the winter of 2008/2009 will probably go down as one of the absolute worst fucking ever. No snow, just a historically destructive ice storm. I've never been so happy to see a daffodil bloom as I was last week. Bring on the green already.

I'm not cranky all the time. A few days ago I nearly swooned from an overwhelming wave of happiness and love. I was just driving home from work and my chest began to swell with emotion as I thought about good I've got it: Stella, D., interesting work, strong friendships. I let this expanding, molten sense of gratitude radiate through me....

When I fill in some missing pieces (time dedicated to creativity and exercise) I'll be unstoppable. Just wait.

And because I can't wean myself off photos in place of words just yet, here's my daughter:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Where Have You Been?

Seriously...where have y'all BEEN?

Me? Oh, well...working, working, momming, Valentining, and getting ready for our Japanese student, Nozomi, who is staying with us for three weeks. It forces us to be on our best behavior (eating dinner at the dinner table instead of the couch. Real cooked food instead of popcorn. No dishes and laundry left out so long that we don't even notice, much less care, about them anymore).

Tonight she was at an international culture fair at a local elementary school and I started thinking about dinner. Local readers may think I ripped tonight's dinner off this delicious dish, but I'd actually been thinking of how to use all this leftover butternut squash soup for some time. I thought about how the texture of this soup is similar to tomato sauce so I wondered about using it in a lasagna.
I thought it needed something other than squash, pasta, and cheese so I raided my fridge. I found some sliced onions, a combination of button & crimini mushrooms, and a chiffonade of basil and fresh sage. Okay, I didn't find the herbs sliced like that, so I did put out some effort. Not pictured: fresh spinach leaves.
We had some gouda and mozzarella. Not pictured: ricotta mixed with minced garlic, oregano, and an egg.
Oh hey, looky here - pumpkin seeds toasted with a little bit of salt.
Layer all that.
And bake it at 450 for about 40 minutes covered by some foil. In the last few minutes I removed the foil and turned on the broiler to get it all brown and toasty on top.
Stella said it tasted much better than she thought it would. SCORE!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mainstay or Montonous?

You'd think I might be sick of all things butternut squash by this stage of winter.

You'd be wrong.

Last night it was pureed butternut squash soup made spicy with fresh ginger and Indian chili powder. Maybe a little too spicy. It's difficult for me to be subtle.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Art Appreciation and Primal Fears

Saturday we took a bunch of students to Tulsa for the day. Our first stop was the Gilcrease Museum. If you ever go to Tulsa, you should definitely go there. It's a small, really well-curated little niche museum.

There were your typical American landscapes:And a few oddities, like this awesome bear attack painting. Don't show it to Stephen Colbert!

I'd never seen so many old Native American art pieces and handicrafts in one place. There's also a really nice little collection of Mexican and Latin American art and artifacts.

This Mexican mask was terrifying:I can't remember what tribe this piece is from, but it sure looks Pacific Northwestern:
I think this one is indigenous Latin American of some sort. Love that trippy, hippy vibe:

The two temporary exhibitions were equally interesting: sketches in ledger book from some fort out west in the late 1800s, and American Impressionists. The museum itself is on top of a hill on the outskirts of Tulsa and has a gorgeous massive vista of prairie and distant hills. It fits right in with all the old American artwork.

That evening, after we dropped off all the students and I was on my way home, I called my boss's house because I wanted to drop something off for her. Her husband said she was on her way home so I decided to drive and meet her over there. I got there first so I sat inside and visited with her husband. We chatted and joked about how she's always late. He remarked that it really did seem much longer a wait then he'd expected. Right about then the phone rang and I could hear the voice on the other end say that she was with his wife and she'd been in a car accident. She was hit on the driver's side by a woman in a van who ran a red light. That is my biggest fear!! We went to the emergency room and were beyond relieved to learn that she had miraculously survived without a single scratch on her! She is bruised, sore, and shaken but very much alive!
Count your blessings....

Sunday we slept in. It was past noon and I was still in bed reading the newspaper. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Chicklet outside jumping around playing with something that looked like a branch. Except I could see that it was moving!

Chickie! What are you doing? Stop! Get inside! CHICKLET! Wait, are you sniffing the snake?
Do not try to pounce on this snake! Come here!
Don't you see that he's trying to bite you?! This is not a toy!
Are you insane? Or stupid? Are you trying to kiss him? GET OVER HERE!

What does it say about me that I grabbed my camera before I "rescued" my cat?

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

I had a bunch of vegetables that were going to go bad very soon so I had to find some way to use them all at once. Because we still had a few potatoes, I thought shepherd's pie would be good.

I grabbed all the veggies out of the bin and chopped them all up. First I sauteed onions and garlic in olive oil, then added sliced small carrots and diced celery, red, and yellow peppers. I let them cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile I sliced a ton of mushrooms, including button mushrooms, shiitakes, crimini, dried chanterelles that I soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes first.
I remembered that I had frozen chopped mustard greens so I added a handful of those with the mushrooms and let everything cook down for 10 minutes or so.
My teenage slave, er assistant, peeled, cooked, seasoned, and mashed the potatoes.
And I decided that this pie needed to be cooked in a gravy to bind it together. So I used the leftover potato water to make a quick gravy.
Oh, and added some chopped fresh herbs: Italian parsely, basil, rosemary, and sage. Then I grated the last bit of pecorino romano to the vegetable herb mixture. I poured the gravy on top and mixed it all together then poured into a casserole dish and carefully spooned the mashed potatoes on top and smoothed it out to make a crust on top.
That baked in a 35o oven for 30 minutes. The last 5 minutes I turned the oven on to broil so the crust would get a nice browned top.
The salad ingredients seemed kind of rich, so I thought we needed a tangy, sweet salad dressing. I finally found a use for the pear vinegar that Jessy gave me for Christmas! I made a very simple dressing of olive oil, pear vinegar and also a splash of sherry vinegar, salt, and ground pepper.
Salad of mixed greens, extra arugula added, toasted pecans, avocadoes, cucumbers, and crumbed Maytage blue cheese.
Served with crusty french bread and a glass of Sketchbook cabernet sauvignon. Very good and pretty healthy too. And now I have a clean refrigerator!
This is what Stella and I dropped our dinner duties and ran outside with our cameras for:

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Panties In A Wad

You know what I really don't like?

I really don't like it when I'm at the dentist's (or in my recent case - oral surgeon's) and the doctor is inspecting my mouth and telling his assistant everything that is wrong with my mouth. I know, I know...what else are they gonna do? Maybe they could put headphones on me with some chill-out music? Or maybe they could just include me in on the conversation. There's a novel idea. I just hate the relaying of information about my body parts from one professional to another as though I'm not there.

Other medical irritations: getting my blood pressure taken (I don't like my upper arm squeezed, and I really don't like feeling my own pulse), the warm, germy smell of waiting rooms, and, naturally, being a girl and having to pee in a cup.

Everyone seems a little cranky this week, recovering from the pioneer days of last week and not getting enough rest. Or maybe it's just me.

Monday, February 02, 2009

When I Wasn't Constantly Feeding the Fire

Hey! How about some more ice storm pictures!

This is taken from the Fayetteville Public Library's rooftop garden deck. The view is the Boston Mountains to the south of Fayetteville.
This is also from a library window, looking west to the University.

Okay, this photo represents a lot of what I hate about our local papers. They're useless. The Dem-Gaz did a write-up on a local family and how they weathered the ice storm. This photo shows their kids watching a 3-D movie, snuggled under a confederate flag blanket. There are many families who STILL don't have electricity, and yet the paper focused on a family (of possible racists) who have a generator and can stick their kids in front of a television while the rest of the region huddled around small fires and tried to keep from freezing to death. Nice work, Northwest Arkansas section of the Democrat Gazette! I think this picture is the strangest piece of photojournalism I've seen in a while.
Compare that to our little ice storm family. Here we have Ben and Quinn playing DS (thank goodness for car chargers) and possibly Stella on the couch under all those blankets. We nailed blankets over the windows and doorways to contain as much warmth as possible in the living room. It was actually quite cozy.
Quinn by candle light. What a trooper he was, walking to our house and then sleeping on our floor for four nights and waking up to a cold house.

By Saturday night I (finally!) had power again. Just in time to clean up for Ira Glass. I decided to take Stephanie to dinner in return for my ticket. We went to Theo's and had delicious cocktails. She's having a basil gimlet and I'm having a ginger lime martini.

Last night I went to hear Dan Savage speak at the university. Maybe he thought he was being shocking, speaking crudely against Proposition 1 and going into detail about anal sex, but for someone who grew up in a town with an approximately 30% gay population and is about as liberal as they come, it came off as preaching to the choir. Still, he was entertaining and kind of funny, like how he was wearing a Mike Huckabee t-shirt. Wish I could've gotten a better picture.