Saturday, January 02, 2010

Debra Shapiro is using Word Press

Or at least, I'm trying to - trying to start up a new Word Press edition of Deb's Lunch - you can take a look at: Deb's Lunch ... and dinner and breakfast too.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Robyn Hitchcock is using Word Press -

- albeit a highly customized Word Press with his own eponymous theme, for his new web site. I've been toying with the notion of moving my blog, too, ever since last summer when I played around with Word Press a bunch. So I think here's what I'm going to do - new decade, new blog - I won't move this one over, but it can become the archives. After all, as Rach just pointed us, us WI state employees have a 5-day weekend coming up: Wednesday, 12/30 is a furlough day, so we're not allowed to work; New Years Eve day & New Years Day are both holidays, and we still have Saturday and Sunday. Plenty of Word Press play time, and it'll probably be good hand therapy.

Speaking of holidays, there's a very cool little stop-motion animation vid starring vegetables on Robyn Hitchcock's new site, called The day before boxing day.

Monday, December 28, 2009

More Christmas pictures

I think somewheres back there I promised more Christmas pix - I never did take any of dinner but there were some nice ones of presents & breakfast:

the present pile

I got a new pannier for my bike

Mark's dress shirt had the prettiest paper

I got Mark a waffle iron

We had waffles & bacon & fried apples and Asian pears

Dad's 89th

Today would be my Dad's 89th birthday if he was still alive. I have lots of fragmentary memories of birthday celebrations past, dinners-and-a-movies we went to - I seem to remember My Fair Lady followed by dinner at Le Mont on Mount Washington; that must've been 1964 - IMDB says the movie came out on Christmas that year.

There were also celebrations when Dad wasn't there - we went to the newly opened Grand Concourse at Station Square (now it seems to be owned by the Muer chain) when he was in the hospital - that must've been 1978 Christmas season, before he had his first heart valve replacement in February of 1979. The reservation was so hard to get, my mom wasn't going to give it up just because Dad wasn't there. And there was his memorial, on the first birthday he missed, December 1998 - speeches in Heinz Chapel, and then across the street to the Pittsburgh Athletic Association for the reception, where they let me bring in cookies, because in Pittsburgh, they're so used to that from weddings.

Not sure what do in dad's honor tonight - I bought shallots and arugula, and have a basket & a half of grape tomatoes, so I could make the Martha pasta that's on the Jan. 2010 "light" issue of Everyday Food - roasted tomatoes & shallots with arugula, on rigatoni - for dinner. It's not really such a Dad dish, though - he wouldn't have cared for the green stuff thrown in at the end. But I have lots of the Lora Brody ruggelach, and canned peaches, so we could have the Dad dessert: chilled canned fruit, cookies, and tea. He'd probably have had Pepperidge Farm Bordeaux, but he'd have liked the ruggelach, too.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Grey Christmas

White Christmas, bah humbug .... this is the view from my window today.

In Wisconsin, we're having a grey, slushy Christmas, with rain on top of about a foot of snow. The big winter storm is dumping tons of snow on Minneapolis & the Dakotas, but it's mostly north and west of us here in WI & IL, where we've been getting ice and rain and wintry mix. The National Weather Service called it a "complex" storm system; the best description we've heard so far was a reporter on NPR yesterday, who called it a "variety pack of nasty weather".

We heard that NPR reporter when we were on the exit ramp from the Beltline around 5:00 p.m. yesterday, about 10 minutes from home. Even though I stressed and worried, the travel back from Chicago turned out just as Mark (the optimist in the family) predicted - we missed the worst of it, and were driving in just plain rain, not ice. When we got to the train station in Harvard, the car was sheathed in ice, but it was so warm - 36 or 37 degrees - that the ice just slid off the car. The car was stuck in its parking spot, but because there were 3 of us, I drove and mark & Ethan pushed, and we got out pretty shortly. One of the tires was low, but 2 gas stations and 5 quarters later, we were on the road.

And we are having a perfectly nice little Christmas - waffles cooked on Mark's new waffle iron that I gave him for breakfast, with bacon & fried apples. Beef tenderloin, roasted potatoes, and trifle for dinner. And Lora Brody's ruggelach for snacks. I'll add more pix after dinner.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Corner bakery breakfast wreakage

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Christmas Eve

And trying out iPhone blogging somemore. I'm in a window seat - that should have had a step ladder so's you could climb up into easier - at our hotel, trying to make sense of the weather reports. The WI Dot road conditions is not working, of course - too many people trying to check it + the new map is not very well optomized for the iPhone.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Waay too stressful for me

We're in Chicago to see the Addams Family, got a great room at a Kimpton & a nice dinner at Shaw's Crab House - but we're in the midst of an ice storm, and I'm over-worrying about the roads. Not much to do but wait & see.

It was just rain and slush in all the gutters walking home from theater - so maybe it'll all be OK. A Christmas miracle'd be fine by me.


Big Day

So yesterday I sold the Passat, and got my cast off.

I should be happily on winter break, but because of all the running around, I did not finish grading, even though I worked till almost 10:00 last night. I still have 8 students' work to read. So here I am sort of back at it, at 6:30 a.m.

I guess that's this year's theme - not quite what we expected. We planned a trip to Chicago - we have tickets to see the Addams Family, with Nathan Lane & Bebe Neuwirth - but a big storm is threatening the whole midwest. calls it "complex" - it's supposed t be snow and rain and ice all mixed up. The plan is to take the train, but we have to drive about an hour and a few minutes to Harvard IL to catch the train. And it's not just me - John & Al are flying to California today, and Ethan is coming with us to Chicago. I think Ethan got the biggest disappointment for Christmas - he was supposed to be in Mexico right now, but got a concussion in hockey - and not even in a game, at a scrimmage, just a glorified practice, and the doctor said he shouldn't fly.

Mark, our optimist, says that if all the weather works as predicted, not only will we miss the worst stuff, so will John & Al - they're flying out of Minneapolis, and it's not supposed to be so sloppy up there, all snow for the Twins. And my grades aren't due till the 29th - maybe NOT finishing can act like my library book. I always take a library book - and make the kids do this too - when I fly, because it means I'll have to get back to return it. Let's hope it all comes off as scheduled.

Friday, December 18, 2009


This was going to be called "holiday exhaustion" when I started it but did not finish it yesterday.

But, I took the day off to cook for a 50th anniversary party I have tomorrow at the dining club. The woman in the couple is the author of a series of books called "Eat Smart In [country name here]. She has done 10 books, so we're making a dish from each country. Fortunately, I am only doing Mexico, Sicily, India, Morocco, Brazil, and Turkey - other family members are bringing the other countries.

So I slept in, and hand-delivered some cookie boxes, and didn't do as much cooking as maybe I should have, but I feel somewhat recovered. My broken thumb is aching a bit, but right now it's the corollary ailments that are bugging me most - my left hand is tired & beat up from doing so much, and my skin is dry since it's too hard to lotion up with one hand.

The Mexican dish is a flan, flavored with tequila, and tomorrow it will be flamed with tequila after it's un-molded. It looks great so far. Sicily is what we used to called Spiedini at one of my restaurant jobs - little beef rolls on a stick with onions and bay leaf. I only made the filling so far - it's going to be meat stuffed with meat; the filling is onions, bread crumbs, a little tomato, and prosciutto and salami. They're served on a bed of fried potatoes - I boiled the potatoes, and will fry them tomorrow. Tomorrow I have to make a pineapple curry, orange salad, kale with garlic, and zucchini filo pie. I don't think it'll be too much of a problem, even though I am slow with the hand.

It's kind of fun to be cooking all this stuff from other countries - it's not buy fresh buy local, that's for sure, but reminds me of my youth in the 1970s, when it was fashionable to try to recreate other countries' food, and the experience of eating it. Maybe more politically correct than fashionable, or at least it was a liberal thing to do - looking for authentic experiences in the depths of suburbia, respect for other cultures and all that.

And things were certainly not as fusion-y as they are now - we never would have eaten this chutney in baked Brie - but that's how I'm going to use it.

2 TBLS olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
5 quarter sized slices of crystallized ginger, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced - remove some or all of the seeds to reduce the hotness
1 16-ounce bag of cranberries, fresh or frozen (no need to thaw, if they are frozen)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup apple cidar
1 tsp. coriander
2 tsp. brown mustard seeds

Heat the oil in a 2 quart or larger saucepan, and add the onion, ginger, and jalapeno - I ground them up in the food processor, to be easy on my thumb, but even if your hands are working fine, you can use the processor if you like. Cook until softened, and then add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook uncovered until all the cranberries are popped and the chutney is thickened, about 20 minutes. Use as the filling in baked Brie, or serve with cheese and crackers.