naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
Dinner tonight turned out quite well, so I want to record the menu here before I forget... all the produce, the bread and quark were bounty from yesterday's farmers market.

- Garlic mashed red taters, made with a splash of milk and a half package of garlic quark.
- Rosemary bread.
- Crock-pot baked pork roast with carrots, onions, apple... simmered six hours on high in one bottle of Buffalo Bill's pumpkin ale, an equal amount of of water, dashes of dried oregano, dried parsley, black pepper and two bay leaves.

Roommate served McWilliams chardonnay with the meal, and it was lovely.

(This is what happens when I forget to buy apple cider or juice to bake the roast in, but have pumpkin ale on hand instead... yum!)
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (spring valley)
I'm currently having a pot of Burnside Winter Frost, from Infusions of Tea. I brew it fairly weak... if I make my black teas too strong you'd be peeling me off the ceiling before lunchtime. :-P But gosh, I love this stuff. I got this Burnside a year or so ago. Every single tea I've ever bought from them has been utterly fabulous. My favorite is still Tidal Wave, but... I left my window open last night and woke up a bit chilly, so today, it's this lovely black tea that tastes vaguely... well, to me, anyway... like curling up under a quilt in front of a woodstove, as blustery grey clouds chase each other across the horizon. I popped some wildflower honey from last summer from Bill's Bees into it, and ahhhhhhhhhh.

Of course, the sun is rising and it looks like it's going to be another 72-and-sunny day in beautiful downtown Burbank, but that's just fine, too.
naturedance: crafting joy (crafting joy)
The Burbank farmers market was fabulous again this week. Between work stress, car stress and headaches this week, I really needed the brisk morning breeze and the sunshine and the flowering trees along my walk, and all sorts of fresh goodies to haul home. Puttering around in the kitchen helped de-stress me some, too.

Made a wonderful chicken soup yesterday, and am experimenting more with making homemade stock... every time we roast a chicken from Trader Joes, we've been boiling the meat left on the bones and then freezing the stock for use later. We did this last Thanksgiving, Yule and Christmas (yes, we ate a lot of chicken!) and have been working our way through the stash of frozen stock, so when we roasted two small birds last week, it was time to make more broth.

I tried making vegetable stock last weekend, too... The Joy Of Cooking has instructions for everything. Yesterday I tried making celery stock for the first time since there was a really good deal on huge tall bunches of celery at the market and they were too tall to store in the fridge unless I trimmed the tops off... it smelled up the kitchen nicely as it was cooking down.

In other news, I moved the rainbow maker from the living room window to my bedroom window this morning, and it's currently driving my cat batty. She's chasing the rainbows and I haven't seen her this active in a long, long time. I hope she doesn't give herself a coronary or anything...

*pounce!* *batbatbatswatbatbatbat!* *boundboundPOUNCE!*

Hon, if you're going to jump onto the bed, you have to actually, you know, jump all the way. Changing your mind mid-jump means your rump doesn't get up to the level of the mattress and then you land ungracefully, dear...

*stalkstalkstalkBOUNDboundPOUNCE!* *batbatbatbatbatbatbat*

OK, now she's just flopped on the rug, with her nose and eyes and ears swiveling all over the place... well, her tail's still going a bit batty, but she looks OK. Every now and then she glares at me accusingly as if to say, "You let a whole flock of these unsmellable unhearable butterflies in here for me to chase, and now I can't grab hold of any of them!"
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
My orange mollies had more babies on Friday night and Saturday morning. And there were even more on Sunday afternoon. I spent quite a bit of time slowly chasing the little fry around with my net, so I could scoop the little rascals over into the nursery side of the tank before their parents or aunts and uncles decided that they might look like lunch.

Anyone local want to adopt some lovely orange mollies? The previous few birthings are now inchlong teenagers, starting to chase each other around the nursery...

I made a lovely pork roast dinner layered in the crockpot on Saturday:

quartered red taters
small carrots
sliced onions
sliced celery
cup or two of water
pork roast
dash of soy sauce
dried garlic flakes
lemon pepper
sliced lemon
orangeblossom honey

Mmmmmm. The vegetables turned out wonderfully, and the roast was nicely moist. The sauce tasted wonderful over herbed breads from Berolina's Bakery in Montrose... Roommate and I stopped at the bakery and then Descanso Gardens on Saturday afternoon. We found rosemary bread, black olive bread, sun-dried tomato bread, and potato-dill bread, I think... a mixed bag of little tiny loaves and two big ones has the flavors a bit jumbled in my mind.

On Sunday I made a really huge pot of bean soup:

small white beans
yellow dried peas
brown rice
tomato puree
sliced celery
halved small carrots
chopped onion
dried garlic flakes
chili powder
dash of thyme
two cubes of chicken bouillon
two cubes of beef bouillon

Served with herbed bread cubes sprinkled liberally on top. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Since it's supposed to rain again tomorrow and Wednesday, having comforting cocoon food to come home to, without doing any further work other than reheating and slicing up some more of the bread... well, it should be pretty obvious by now that I adore southern California autumn.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention! My daffodils and what I suspect are some of the wild and/or varietal tulips have started coming up in my rectangular pots on the front walkway! These are rather mysterious bulbs that I've tucked into those pots, a few different kinds each year for the past four or five years, so it's anyone's guess at this point what has survived and what hasn't. I just keep tucking a few more bulbs in the bare spots each year, and the pots are very cheery near the front door with some annuals in amongst the bulbs the rest of the year. The irises are putting up new leaves, the remaining mum from last year has sent up one new little stem of leaves, the pansies I put in a few weeks ago are loving the location and the rain and cool nights from last week, the succulent pot is going gangbusters, and the geraniums are doing great, although I lost one stem of the Martha Washington in the rainstorm's runoff from the roof. That reminds me, I need to shift those pots around before the next rains.

The back balcony "kitchen garden" isn't doing so well. The remaining couple of tomato plants are just... reedy and stringy. I'm thinking I may just chuck them. The peppers are still plagued by whiteflies, but it's not as bad as it was. I should spray them again. The lemon grass is doing great, the chives are still in the happy process of coming back from certain death, the basil keeps trying to get reedy and flower, the thyme died back in the last heat wave of August but after I trimmed back the dead stuff it has started to put up new little leaves, and the spearmint took a hit during that same heat wave but is coming back. I picked up rosemary and pink rosemary and dill this weekend; I hope to transplant them into nice big pots tonight.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
...a purring cat

...Traditional Medicinals herbal tea

...the feel of yarn sliding between my fingers

...a smooth crochet hook

...handknitted socks (Roommate makes the most comfortable feet-shaped socks I've ever worn using Plymouth Yarn's Sockotta)

...comfy dry Birki-clogs for tramping about in puddles without getting my feet wet (they're a dozen years old and get worn every rainy season)

...a relatively calm drive to work (surface streets from Burbank to the 134, skipping the 5 entirely) in a dependable car

...a cinnamon-raisin bagel for breakfast, and a blueberry bagel for brunch

...comfy Birkenstock sandals to wear in the office (that reminds me, I need to seal the cork on them again, and get them re-soled)

...a soft mock-turtleneck with printed leaves all over it autumn walk under a cheery umbrella

...water lilies blossoming, surrounded by ripples from raindrops on the water

...being able to see my breath in the chill air

...shining water droplets clinging to the underside of agapanthus leaves

...a cup of warm chicken chili soup from Broad Cafe for lunch

...the fresh smell of earth under drizzling rain years of working at ITS

...and a snug cozy home waiting for me.

ETA: And online traffic speed maps to figure out the best way home.

ETA later: And wow, homemade chicken soup with onions and carrots when I get home. What an amazing day.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
I made a really hearty bean/lentil/barley/onion/chicken soup/stew last night (with garam masala seasoning! I'd never before thought to try that in soup!).

Work was really, really busy yesterday. There's just so, so, so much to do.

Oci seems to be doing better, but she's still drinking more water than she should need.

The petunias and geranium I planted last weekend seem to be doing OK. The pepper plants are still under siege by those blasted whiteflies. I sprayed them again. I'm considering buying a canister of ladybugs, since they supposedly would eat the little bastards.

Somehow we have a cricket taking up residence on our back patio, even though it's a few stories off the ground. I salute that little critter's determination...

I never thought I would be considering writing to my elected representatives about a bill concerning suborbital tourism, but... here is some information about HR 3752. I want to research it further. Googling a bit turns up:

Off to work...
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
Very foggy this morning. Guess autumn is here!

Bless chicken broth with brown rice, cinnamon oatmeal with big plump raisins, hot Tang (I make it really, really strong), and basic pasta and tomato sauce. And microwaveable hot packs, and cold packs I keep stashed in the freezer. Also Naked Juice's Immunity line of drinks. I've been indulging in those from the Broad Cafe almost every workday morning, either the Power-C or the Well-Being, which is my favorite so far of all their drinks I've tried. It really made a difference this year. I've had more energy and been less sick, even though I worked just about every new student event on the schedule and have roughly a zillion projects going on.

These wonderful students returning to classes (and staff and faculty returning from vacation) are not just the future of Caltech and of science, they're also disease vectors. ;-) Doesn't matter which cold they bring with them when they return to campus from wherever they've been... I always manifest it in sinusitis.

But I am feeling sooooooooooo much better today.

My cat is doing better, too. I've learned how to give her insulin injections and she's already slightly more active and just... perkier. She was pretty chatty this morning for the first time in a week and a half, and her visits to the litterbox are decreasing to a more sensible level. I've got to remember to stop and pick up more litter on the way home this afternoon.

Here is a good online guide for folks whose pets have just been diagnosed with diabetes. For the record, I've spent the following so far on Oci's diagnosis and treatment:

$32 vet office visit
$17 urinalysis
$82 complete blood work panel (apparently her liver and kidneys are working a little too hard, but the creatinine and other indicator levels should come down as we get her blood sugar under control - glucose levels were above 500... I find it humorous that she, too, has high cholesterol)
$40 bottle of insulin, should last us for 2 months
$ 4 10-pack of syringes, should last us a little over a month

- about a week busy at work and worrying about when I'd be able to get her in to see the vet
- a weekend fretting once I spent a day at home and realized how lethargic she'd gotten and how much water she was drinking
- a day being a bit overwhelmed once the diagnosis was made from the urine test but before the bloodwork results were in so we could start figuring out what insulin levels to start her on
- two trips to the vet office

I adore my vets' office. Parkview Pet Clinic in Glendale is great, and both of the vets there are marvelous. The needles are really tiny, and if these first three times are any indication, Oci barely even feels it when I give her an injection. When I was dozing yesterday she hopped up on the bed to just check on me, the first time she's done that in a while. I'm so glad she's feeling better. If she needs insulin for the rest of her life, that's OK. Some cats are diabetic for a while and somehow recover from it; others stay diabetic for years.

I love my little critter dearly... but even Mom agrees that one of Oci's middle names has to be Troublesome. Ocelette Troublesome Shakal. )

naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
I got a bit of inspiration last Tuesday, and asked Roommate to celebrate autumn with me...

Harvest Moon Soup

Sizzled in the bottom of a Really Big Soup Pot:
chopped leek
dash of olive oil

Then added:
small bit of water
onion flakes
chopped carrots

The moon was rising yellow in the dark clear sky over the mountains east of us as we were chopping.

Steamed in the microwave in a covered casserole after being lopped in half and cleaned of seeds:
one harlequin winter squash

Dumped into the Really Big Soup Pot after the onion flakes looked happily hydrated:
tomato puree
handfuls of baby orange lentils
big dash of paprika
dash of coarse ground black pepper
dash of dried basil
dash of celery flakes
tiny dash of savory
tiny dash of thyme
two bay leaves
chicken bullion to taste

While the pot was working its way to a good boil, I scooped the cooked squash out of its skin and popped it into the blender with a bit of water to puree. Then I added that to the pot and let it simmer for a bit.

Sliced into rectangles and cubes and presented in a really big bowl:
potato-rosemary bread
sun-dried tomato bread
another random herby bread that had looked good when I'd stopped at Berolina's on the way home

The thick, hearty soup didn't look like it had quite as many colors as I'd wanted, so I added frozen vegetables (mostly corn and peas), and brought that back to a quick boil only briefly so the peas didn't lose their bright color.

We served it in our huge soup bowls using the bread cubes for garnish and dunking, with Martinelli's apple-cranberry in sparkling wine glasses. By the time we sat down to eat the moon was shiny and bright, and clouds were moving in, looking beautiful and mysterious. It was a marvelous cozy evening at home, and around midnight I wrote...

Autumn sweeps in
a silent wind high above
dancing past the clouded moon.

Here's to autumn!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
I got my brochure for LISA 2004 this week, and finally had time to look through it last evening. I haven't been to LISA in a few years for various reasons. I'm not looking forward to so much travel in November, but dang... it looks fabulous. Gotta try to get into [ profile] yesthattom's sessions.

[ profile] src just posted a cool mention of the comic strip User Friendly. I don't read it regularly, but I love that comic. I went backward to this strip from August 21st to find the beginning of this story arc, and then read forward. Hee! Penguins and parachute drops and SP2 in Antarctica! Whee! And it's even more cool knowing that the caricatures of folks depicted there are in some way based on the real people that are working there.

About a week ago, Roommate and I made a mushroom/onion/asparagus soup which turned out very tasty and very interestingly colored. We've named it Tourmaline Soup and here's how we made it (I've already forgotten some of the details, but I don't want to forget any more)...

Sizzled in the bottom of a big soup pot:
large bits of chopped purple onion
chopped leek greens
dash of olive oil

Added water, large bits of chopped mushrooms (we used oyster, baby portabello, and white button, I think... most were fresh from Ranch 99 but some were Trader Joes freeze-dried, which needed to be soaked briefly in water before chopping), a dash of dried basil, thyme, and celery flakes, and a bit of chicken and beef bullion to taste. I can't remember if I dropped in a bay leaf or not.

We had a bag of frozen asparagus spears and the mushrooms looked lonely, so we cut those to about two inches long and added them. I also popped in some enoki mushrooms. Simmered briefly to make sure the asparagus cooked to just-crunchy-to-bite-into... we didn't want soggy spears!

The asparagus turned the broth greenish, and the onions and mushrooms soaked it up so their color turned into odd purple-and-green stripes. Hence the reference to tourmaline.

I think we served this in our giant big bowls over separately cooked noodles, and we had some leftover cheese... German butterkase or baby Swiss bits looked pretty as garnish sprinkled on top.

I need to type up how we made our Harvest Moon Soup, too.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (together with earth usgs)
[ profile] sclerotic_rings linked to Astrobiology's article about the asteroid Toutatis, which will pass within four Earth-to-Moon distances of Earth on Wednesday. Cool stuff if you've got a telescope or set of binoculars handy.

And the harvest moon is tonight. Last night I caught a moonbeam shining into our living room. The moon was just beautiful. I should find my binoculars before dusk tonight.

Folks over in the [ profile] geology community are talking about recent and ongoing earthquakes up at Mount St. Helens. They've linked to a Yahoo! News article with some pretty pictures, and the USGS Earthquake Hazards site has a special bulletin about recent activity, and the USGS Volcano Hazards site is also full of interesting stuff.

On the political front, [ profile] yesthattom excerpts from The Unfeeling President, an article by E.L. Doctorow.

And now, some tea, because I'm having trouble getting vertical this morning. It's been steeping while I've been catching up on my LJ reading. MMmmm, Fiji, from Infusions of Tea, with orange honey from Bill's Bees. Mmmmmmmmm...

Last night I read the first section of a book of Robert Frost's poetry my Mom gave me. A few of the poems in A Boy's Will (published in 1913) really resonate with me. I think I'll be posting some of them here. I woke up this morning with fragments of John Greenleaf Whittier's In School-Days running through my mind, too.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (cascade)
The unpacking continues at my new apartment, and although I'm rather tired and there are muscles I didn't even know I had protesting rather noisily this morning, I'm happy. I'm looking forward to my upcoming mini-vacation (really a long weekend) to spend organizing and rearranging things.

The drive to work yesterday was much the same as Monday; quite a pleasant surprise. Today I was feeling vaguely sickly (mostly sinus-related, gee thanks dust and pollen, though staying up late probably didn't help) so I was moving slowly this morning until I made a pot of Tidal Wave tea at home. I should make a whole entry about the wonder of teas...

Anyway, leaving home at 9:50 got me to work by 10:15. Traffic was moving well all along my route, to the point that on the downhill along the 134 in Eagle Rock everyone who didn't brake was suddenly speeding (more than usual) just by coasting. I'm starting to figure out which lanes have fewer silly mergey people, which makes me even happier about my commute.

Got an onion bagel and cream cheese at Broad Cafe this morning. I'm still on a funky four meals a day schedule, and hope to reset that this weekend, when I'll stop doing my Pioneer Woman impersonation and there won't be any more real work to do associated with the move. In the mean time I'll just enjoy the home-made chicken and lentil soup I brought for lunch. :-9

I got caught up on work email before making this LJ post, so now I'm off to deal with trouble tickets and then back up recently-deactivated former-student accounts. Whee, the everyday work of a sysadmin! I feel all organized and productive today.

I think I like this new lifestyle thingie. Oh! That reminds me, I should make a post about my new high-efficiency washing machine, too. :-)

Yeah. This is me, happy. I like it.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (spring dawning)
Dannon now makes a creamy mild yogurt called la Crème. (Yes, everything now has its own website; haven't you noticed URLs on potato chip bags lately?)

It comes in smaller tubs than normal yogurt, probably because it includes more cream and therefore a higher fat content than normal... and the vanilla flavor is just simply wonderful. I don't mind eating less of something if it tastes better than usual! I recommended it to Mom and she heartily recommends dipping fresh strawberries into it.

naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (winter wonderland)
Pfeffernusse are German spice cookies. They're dusted in confectioners sugar or icing, and they're kind of ball-shaped. They're wonderful. Archway, Bahlsen, and Trader Joes all make them prepackaged, and a local bakery called Berolina, in Montrose, CA, makes a very tasty fresh version.

There are bazillions of different recipes out there if you want to try to make them at home. Here are some:

Heck, there are ten recipes given at this page alone!

Oh, and anyone out there on a low-carb diet? ;-) This link is for you: Low-carb Pfeffernusse recipe

Happy holidays, folks!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
Spaghetti squash. Sounds strange, looks strange, tastes interesting, is healthy for you to eat. Yep. But it doesn't exactly look like food when you first cut it open...

  • The Worldwide Gourmet's All About Spaghetti Squash page

  •'s article about growing and preparing spaghetti squash

  • A really cool scientific agricultural page about spaghetti squash at the University of Florida / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

  • Fabulous Features Fabulous Food's article about discovering spaghetti squash

  • If you slice one in half along the long axis and scoop out the seeds, you get two oval halves which you can stick into a covered microwaveable casserole dish with a splash of water in the bottom. Nuke that little sucker for ten minutes or so, and poke it with a fork to see if it's tender. You might have to give it another five or ten minutes depending on the size of the squash and the power of your microwave. Set it out on your family's dinner table as a side dish, with spray I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter (or real butter, if you like) and the choice between a dash of salt, pepper, or brown sugar. Then ask if anyone else thinks it looks like a loofah before you scoop the threads out of the rind to butter 'em up and eat 'em.

    As far as squash goes, it is very tasty! In texture, the strands are kind of like grated jicama, crunchy and fresh. It's kind of sweet, too. Although, since I have never attempted to taste one, I can't give you an opinion about whether spaghetti squash tastes better or worse than a loofah...

    And above all, keep a sense of humor!
    naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
    Simple thought for the day: My folks are wonderful, and it feels great spending time with them.

    Mom has introduced me to the DASH diet, which is hearty food and reduces hypertension, cholesterol, and other nasties. I think I'll be writing more about that next week sometime. Suffice it for now to say that taste-tests of various winter squashes have been quite entertaining.

    Descanso Gardens is truly a marvelous place. If you live in the LA area and have never visited, I highly recommend it.
    naturedance: crafting joy (crafting joy)
    Just a quick note today: I love Old Bay seasoning. It comes in a little spice tin at the grocery store, and it’s great on all sorts of seafood. I prefer salmon, but the red trout looked good last weekend at the store, so home it went. Sometimes I add a dash of lemon juice, sometimes just the Old Bay by itself. I usually bake fish in the oven on a pan lined with plain aluminum foil. A friend of mine likes to wrap fish up in heavy-duty aluminum foil after sprinkling on the Old Bay so he can cook it on the grill. I usually put more seasoning on one half of the fish and less on the other half, so people can have as much spicy fire as they like. Mmm, mmm, mmmmmmmm!
    naturedance: crafting joy (crafting joy)

    It’s finally chilly enough here to heat up the oven on a weekend when I’m feeling up to baking! Yay for pumpkin bread!

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Mix well in a large bowl:

    3 1/3 cups flour

    3 cups sugar

    2 teaspoons baking soda

    1 1/2 teaspoons salt

    1/2 teaspoons nutmeg

    1 teaspoon cinnamon

    1 cup canola or vegetable oil

    4 eggs

    2 cups pumpkin (you can use one small can, or cook your own prior to bread-baking)

    Use two or three greased and floured full-size loaf pans, or a bundt pan, and bake for one hour.

    Or use muffin cups, and bake for a shorter time, like thirty minutes or so.

    You can add more nutmeg and/or cinnamon if you like spicier bread, and today I’m experimenting with adding chopped walnuts.

    Gosh, the apartment smells nice while it’s baking… and I’ve got hammer dulcimer music by Big Gerry and the Pockets o’ Gold Band on in the background (yes, that link automatically starts playing a sample of their music!).

    Autumn is here! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…

    February 2017

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