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Saturday, February 27, 2010

as the riders loped on by him, he heard one call his name

Since the weather is warmingish up, the goats are turning into the kind of goats you have to water every day. The chickens, too. That is John's department in the winter, because I do not schlep five-gallon buckets of water through the snow. Besides, he can do it in one trip, and I can't. Remember how we call ourselves agritainers? Thank goodness we don't depend upon this nonsense for survival, because I can think of at least two things that I'd rather do than winter animal chores, and one of them is: NOT DO WINTER ANIMAL CHORES. Stupid ice and snow. I hate you.

But it's almost spring. I know this because Cadbury Creme Eggs, the world's most perfect candy, are now in stores. And today I planted my peppers, tomatillos, eggplants and tomatoes. Lookit:
The seed pots are reposing upon a sweet plastic serving tray that set me back a buck at the D.I.

The key to my planting, since I don't have markers. Need to buy some popsicle sticks. See, some people might have wondered why I needed the jumbo rainbow assortment of Ultra Fine Point Sharpies, but I guess they're just not innovative problem solvers. Sad for them.

And now their friends, The Onions That Lived, have joined them. They might be big enough to see when I plant them!

Another thing I did today is pick up my test basket of produce from Bountiful Baskets. I was sort of meh about it until I found out that you don't have to buy a basket every week. We'll see how I do at having someone else tell me what I'm cooking, but I can say this: the quality of everything except the avocados (one of them was past its pull date in a serious way) and apples (good, sweet, but a teense mealy) is impeccable. Just gorgeous, see?
I don't know about you, but that looks like a mess of food to me. I bought organic, which costs $10 extra. Industrial organic though it may be, I think in the long run it beats out industrial conventional, mutative-water-pollutants-wise.
Look at that Swiss chard, would you? And the romaine lettuce? They are so fresh and snappy.

I also paid $9 for the Asian packet, which even included basil. We'll do pho again if I can get to the Asian Market and buy some of that weird dandelion stuff.

The pears are indivudually and patriotically wrapped. I'm less jazzed about the fruit, because these are things that I typically don't buy. I'm a berry snob, and I frigging hate d'Anjou pears, so . . . we'll see how that goes.

Yesterday we made that honeycomb candy I told you I would make, and it did this:
They were not kidding when they said it made more than you would ever want to eat. I dipped about 12 hunks of it and threw the rest away. I had to hide it under some other garbage to prevent Pinga from dumpster diving for it. She is not discerning. It's great candy, but a little goes a long way.

Our chickens are still doing this to us every day:
Which is why we had crepes with scrambled egg filling for dinner last night.

And we still have to shift some of the boxes and stacks of food storage down in the fruit room so we can move the old range down there for bleedover baking. You will be glad to hear that at some point in the recent? distant? past, a mouse lived in the range. See:
He is dead now. I assume.

And I made some granola bars based on/inspired by the Smitten Kitchen recipe the other day, but they taste like burning.
Don't make them. At least not the way I did. Maybe it was the wheat germ?

Now, I'm off to cook the rainbow trout that Captain America caught while ice fishing this morning. I love trout. For reals. I'm pretty stoked about it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

mine is already a sapling

"So if you eat spaghetti, all covered with cheese, hold onto your meatballs and don't ever sneeze."

You just got done telling us how your sneezy meatball grew from a puddle of moosh into a tree that grew meatballs with tomato sauce. So tell me why on earth would you advise us not to sneeze on our own meatballs and grow our own trees? Is it because you want a meatball tree monopoly? Well, maybe you shouldn't have revealed your secret process in song form, you selfish moron.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

he has such a strong emotional reaction to human suffering . . . is the reaction JOY, perchance?

It's a good day for hating John Edwards. Hated him lo, these many years, I have. But just like I will read a certain blog solely to make myself angry, I read this article to intensify my hatred for John Edwards. Because he is not a human being; he is a toad. And not one of the cool toads you find in your garden, either. He's that toad in the Deltora Quest series that has enslaved an entire race of gnomes, and I'm pretty sure it has toxic saliva.

And this is one of the many reasons why in an alternate reality I would marry Craig Ferguson today and have wee tiny bairns with him and cook him shepherd's pie whenever he wanted. I lurve him.

Also, see how the Onion makes us happy?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

you take some sugar, boil it on a burner, stir in baking soda . . . you got yummy candy

oh my gosh I am doing this it is one of my all-time favorite candy bars ever in the whole world

shut up, congress

Does anyone else find it comically angering that our Congress lectured Toyota for being greedy?

And I'm sure they would totally apologize for something they had done wrong.

let's just be glad he doesn't fling poo

Curious George causes me a lot of problems. Aside from the fact that the books are extremely unsatisfying mini novels that take far longer to get through than the average child's attention span, it frustrates me that people are always asking Curious George to do stuff like he can even understand what they're saying, and then they get all up in his face when he turns the newspapers into boats or paints jungle animals on the wall. Stop anthropomorphizing him! If you don't like messes, then quit giving a monkey free rein in your house, stupid man with the yellow hat! Why did you monkeynap him from the jungle where he was happy if you were just going to give him a complex about how he's always disappointing you? No wonder he started smoking cigars! No wonder he floated away on that balloon bouquet--he was probably trying to commit suicide, you heel!

A good book with the same illustrator is Katy No-Pocket.

And if you're in the mood, remember this? I think it is one of the best things Chris Farley ever did. There is a bit of swearing.

Monday, February 22, 2010

england swings like a pendulum do

Do you remember what I said about bubble tea? (Reading audience: "Yes, of course we do, Layne. We commit your every word to memory.") Well, for those of you who did not hear and do not follow my Twitter feed that got pretty obsessive about bubble tea a few weeks ago: I LOVE IT. It is the perfect drink for people who like unflavored gummy bears at the bottom of their glass. In other words, EVERYONE.

I think I usually get milk tea, but the tea is optional. You want to know how to make one, don't you? Well, you're in luck. Learning begins now.
1. Cook some pearl tapioca.
2. Make a smoothie.
3. Put the tapioca at the bottom of the smoothie.
4. You win!

Here, I will show you the ease with which this occurs. Here is my pearl tapioca:
And here is what it looks like after it's cooked:
John says, "That is a sick bunch of junk right there." Don't listen to him. He doesn't know what he's talking about. They may remind some people of a Coke can full of loogies, but that does not mean they're gross.

Here's what ours looked like after it was all mixed:
I made what was basically a chocolate banana coconut shake and called it a day. John, despite his avowed loathing of coconut and all its dark works, slurped it down like a pig at a trough. So did the rest of us! It was milkshakes for dinner, dur.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

you can't possibly understand

Our meal today was so freaking amazing you have no idea. We have bacon and four full 18-count egg cartons, so clearly it had to be pasta carbonara with homemade linguine. The internets seemed to like the Pastor Ryan recipe on Pioneer Woman, and boy, were they so dead on.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

of watching other people be physically active

We watched some Olympics last night so that our kids would be grumpy malcontents this morning (nailed it!). It's so seldom that you see good things happening to rich white kids that it's surely remarkable for its rarity. Kidding! I teared up when Lindsey Vonn won her gold medal, because I'm totally a patriot! No worries, government! All the same, Wilma Rudolph they ain't.

We did have a good time watching it, though. Could you believe how high into the air Shaun White went? Like he had a rocket pack in his trompe l'oeil underwear pants. And I was thankful that he looked slightly less like Carrot Top's little sister than in his publicity photos. Also: is it just me, or are snowboarders all sort of hobbity?

Would you like to know more about Wilma Rudolph? She makes me cry, if you can believe it (the reading audience: "We can."). Here you go! Thanks, Wikipedia. The story that introduced me to Wilma Rudolph is called Wilma Unlimited, which can also be found in You Read to Me and I'll Read to You, a book I heartily endorse, as it also includes The Tomten.

She won three gold medals, you guys! On a sprained ankle! And she couldn't walk normally until she was twelve! She had polio and all manner of diseases! She's way inspiring!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

in which we talk about barfpooping

The next time your stomach is feeling queasy as a result of the stomach flu, or perhaps a bad case of food poisoning from eating spoiled scallops, get a glass of apple juice mixed with Sprite or club soda or something fizzy, and grate some fresh ginger into it. You're welcome.

Last week just as my Wednesday piano student was arriving I heard the cat making bizarre noises in the dining room, came out to see what was going on, and he had blown the entire contents of his stomach simultaneously out both ends onto our ottoman and the dining room and kitchen floor. So I spent Adam's lesson mopping the floor and having his mom write down his songs for the next week. Also I threw the ottoman away because it can't be part of our furniture anymore. The dump rats can have it and raise generations of their pathogenic offspring in it.

On Monday we had a shopping trip during which we ate out TWO times. Red-letter day for the kids. I made them go to Roosters for lunch, because the last experience I had there was so sublime. But I should have known better than to eat the scallops whose fetid reek reached the table long before they did. I figured I was just being oversensitive, and ate them anyway. I should have listened to Michael Pollan and known that the human sense of disgust is what has kept us alive.

I don't know, maybe it was the stomach flu. It doesn't matter; either way you end up with surprising pieces of dirty laundry.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

in which John is rad on a stupid holiday

I'm not a fan of Valentine's Day. Neither is John, so it works out. We're equally yoked that way. But he does tend to do sniper presents on the occasions when we've agreed to no gift-giving. For example, when we got home from church today he shut me out of the bedroom BEFORE I EVEN GOT TO CHANGE OUT OF MY DRESS, and when he let me in he had a contraband gift bag and pink and red lights wound around the bed. Sneak. And here's where it gets awesome:

The card was in Spanish. He bought it that way on purpose. And inside he had written:

Esto es solo para decir te quiero.
(He put it into Google translator; it's meant to say "This is just to say that I love you.")
This is just to say that I bought you this sappy, Spanish Valentine's card
and which you were probably hoping
would be funny and in English.
Forgive me. The idea of giving you this card was
too delicious, and the message too deep.

Now, other English nerds may recognize here a spoof of the famous William Carlos Williams poem "This is Just to Say," which is hilarious. A while ago there was a piece on NPR about non-apologies, (e.g. "Mistakes were made.") and they talked about this poem specifically, and had recorded a number of spoofs, including this gem:

This is Just to Say
I used your dog as an excuse to pick up girls at the dog park
which is especially tacky
since I'm your boyfriend.

Please forgive me.
I'm really bad at being in a relationship

and I'm pretty sure I told you that when we first got together.

It was nice to have a good laugh and reminisce on this Valentine's Day, which was not great for reasons unrelated to the day itself.

On a related Valentiney note, I hope my friend will not mind if I share this delightful story:
One day in Relief Society (a meeting women go to in our church) one of the ladies was sharing with the class how wonderful her husband is, and started listing off all the things he had bought her for a recent holiday. On the other side of the room, where my friend was sitting, one of the sisters queried sotto voce, "I wonder how much she had to put out for that . . . probably not worth it."

That's terrific! I laughed so hard.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

love . . . exciting and new . . .

holy crap!

BAH HA HA HA HA

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

on relationships

I was going to tell you guys today about a product that may stay, but Blogger is being all wiggety-wack, and won't let me upload any pictures or links and now I'm sulking.

So instead I will say this: This morning we were listening to an old recording of John's dad singing the lead in Camelot (his voice is incredible, in case you were wondering), and King Arthur is singing about how "The way to handle a woman is to love her . . . simply love her . . . merely love her . . . love her . . . love her."

Yeah. That worked out great for him!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I like the one with the bear catching smartphones

This new range is giving me a serious case of first world guilt. Maybe I should capitalize that, so it can get recognized as a real, no-foolin' disease and I can get prescribed some Absorpistat for it (a name of my own creation, indicating a credible name for a drug that would make you oblivious to anyone's sufferings but your own).

I was wondering: do owls really live in hollow trees? I've never seen one in the wild. I hope they don't live ONLY in hollow trees, because, man. You need to be more adaptable than that. Are owls considered apex predators? These are the questions I have.

I had to go to the dentist today because I have a wiggy tooth that apparently has nothing wrong with it except for I've ground away my gums with exuberant brushing and exposed the root. It would be so sweet if I have to get another gum graft, as it is in my top three worst life experiences.

We watched some Superbowl commercials last night. What a frigging letdown. I seriously hate CGI talking babies. That may have been the lamest batch of Superbowl commercials of all time. Remember the one about herding cats? That was rad. Here's the grizzly bear one (Did you know that polar bears are the largest of all bears, except for Kodiaks? I saw the wooden cutout at the zoo in Portland.):

And the cat one:

Good times.

Monday, February 8, 2010

victory

I've just pulled the trigger on my new range. I was swayed at the last minute to get something I thought I couldn't afford, that looks like Andy Griffith meeting the Jetsons. It doesn't meet every one of my needs, but I couldn't help myself for the price they gave me.

Thank you for the advisements, all and sundry. I like the cut of your jib.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I just don't want buyer's remorse the next day

HELP MEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

You will please take note of how many Es and exclamation points I have used. I am in severe appliance-related distress.

I had a crisis of faith last night in which I almost decided to get a cooktop and wall ovens, but then I went back to a range, thinking that someday I could put a single wall oven in the pantry if it turns out that I can't make do with my big oven, my roaster, and Shocky McCrapelements. But I hear that 36" ovens take forever to preheat! And do I really need dual-fuel, or would a gas oven be fine/preferable? I bake a passel of bread, so which kind of oven is better for that? And the range I want only comes in stainless or black, and I've always liked white appliances--is stainless too trendy? The range I'm looking at seems to be a good compromise between my champagne tastes and my moonshine budget--pro-style, but without all the fanciness/high price tag of some of the big names. I should have just gotten a Blue Star two years ago before their prices jumped. It's silly of me, but a major decider is the presence or lack of furniture-style legs. I really like those legs and really hate when they have a drawer all the way to the floor. I think my toes should be there!

Thanks to my piano money (see, it did come in handy!) I'm able to look at something hopefully a little nicer than I could otherwise afford. I'm considering a Fratelli Onofri and a Fisher Paykel. Do any of you have experience with either of those? I flat out can't afford a Wolf, but I like the idea of 36" of cooking surface up top, and I need continuous grates for my giant pans. Is the extra space worth the $800 dollars or so extra, rather than getting something like a GE? No Maytags allowed ever, as my family has a blood fued going with them.

To recap:
1. All gas or dual-fual?
2. Is 36" hideously slow to heat up?
3. One of the ranges has all-convection--no conventional option. Will this bug the crap out of me or be too loud?
4. Will I regret going stainless/pro-style?
5. Legs--is this a sword worth dying on?
6. Should I just get a normal range?

Feedback, please! I'm frantic!

Friday, February 5, 2010

I guess we'll have to not cook souffles in it

Isn't the DI the best?

When John and I got married I chose the stooopidest plates. They were a pale butter yellow that I loved at the time, but they dated super fast. But I've told you already, I didn't even know how to cook, really, let alone plate my dinners (actual dinners, not euphemistic ones). I should have just gone to a restaurant supply place and registered for diner plates. As it turned out, I was able to foist my wedding dishes onto my sister when we moved, and I started looking all over for good diner stuff. I didn't want to pay too much, since it was my own fault I didn't have good dishes already. I scoured multiple DIs for months and months, then one day John called me about these plates (above center)--there was a whole shelf full of them at the Ogden DI, and how many did I want? What a princely score!

They are the best dishes in the world. Just the right amount of heft, food looks and tastes better on them, they provide appropriate serving sizes, and they only cost a dollar apiece.

I also have 24 rocks glasses and some dessert plates that were only fifty cents each, and that is why I love the DI. It's a godsend for snobby cheapskates.

And I think I'm going to get a 36" range. Not sure which brand yet, but I will know on Monday. I decided that as much as I would love side-by-side ovens, it would overwhelm my kitchen. Plus, still no money tree, and Rich Uncle Skeleton insists on clinging to life. I'll keep Old Unreliable around as a spillover oven, and I think 36" of space will provide an adequate cooking surface. That way I'll still have landing space on both sides of the range. Plus, it's true. Ranges just look better.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

appliance roulette

Well, the range is all, "Why is the furnace getting all the love? I suck too!" The two large burners on our range--the one that was here when we moved in and electrocuted me before we discovered that it was hardwired into the wall--are giving out, and I have to jiggle the pans back and forth while I'm cooking to keep the connection going. It gets old. But thankfully, all the money we could have spent on a range has now been sunk into a new furnace that won't asphyxiate us with carbon monoxide. We're high-maintenance that way. So what do we do?

1. swap 30" for 30"
a. dual-fuel?
b. all gas?
c. electric is out because I hate those always-dirty glass cooktops
2. buy a cooktop and double wall ovens and hire out the necessary construction and retrofitting
3. buy a 48" double oven side-by-side
4. where is that stupid money tree?

It's only a matter of time before everything in the house is broken.

why would anyone think that businesses exert undue influence in our political process?

Recent lies I have heard:

1. "This new ruling may mean the death of the Democratic party."
2. "Republicans tend to benefit more than Democrats from big business."
3. "Voters are too smart to be duped by these special interest groups funding candidates."
4. "This does not mean that businesses are going to suddenly take advantage of the new ruling to further their own ends."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

you say oyster, I say urstah

Continuing last night's topic--if a grown woman of sound mind can be enticed to dress unflatteringly, and pay for the opportunity to do so, then I certainly don't think we can expect the Terminators to spare us.

We've been trying to chip away at the broth I made for the pho on Monday night. I threw some more spices in it and made a beef noodle soup, and it turns out that Superman is ever so much not fond of fennel seeds, everybody else feels about the same. Crazy, I know! That's one of my favorite parts about paying the tab at the Tandoori Oven and the Indian oven and the Bombay Grill and the Bombay House (Provo, NOT Salt Lake, with its tweakings and reworkings of good recipes to make them taste like Ragu soda pop die die die), is the licoricey finish that doesn't quite obscure the paint-melting breath. So the soup went over like brains on toast and was not a success. But the pho absolutely was.

My family, grateful that they could finally eat something everyone liked.

I was so surprised you could have skinned me alive and called me luggage. The Hulk waxed laudatory and appreciative about how much he loved the meal. Try it with your picky eaters--the nice thing is everybody starts out with a plain bowl of broth, so they can make it as familiar or spooky as they want. I used the Steamy Kitchen recipe, and you're going to want to use every minute of the three hours, or it will be too bland. Included in the recipe is a delicious pun on the homophonic nature of the "pho" and "fuh" sounds.

We also had bubble tea, except we only have herbal tea in our observant Mormon household, so really it was just a peach and coconut smoothie with tapioca pearls at the bottom. It's a lot like finding an unflavored gummy bear in your drink and is utterly charming. I want to drink it for the rest of my life.
Not frog eggs.

I let Superman pick out a treat from the Asian Market for our dessert, and he stayed pretty pedestrian. No umeboshi or rambutan for him!
Here is John holding what only looks like a supersoaker tampon, but is in fact a crispy, creamy, neural synapse-prohibiting taste treat delight!

They were sort of like piroulines, but with crazy stick writing on the package.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

shut up, hollywood costumers!

I did it! I'm embarrassed, but not nearly as much as I should be. Today I am wearing skinny jeans and flats and it's the fault of the mainstream media. It's just that I see it so often on cute skinny people that I've been brainwashed into thinking that it's workable, even for pear-shaped moms, and thus I find myself here. I chiefly blame 30 Rock and Julianne Moore, because despite her goshawful Bwahstun accent, she looked wicked cute last week in her cardigan, skinny jeans and ballet shoes. She was the back breaking camel straw and now I'm drinking the Jonestown punch and thinking of more combinations of this stupid outfit that calls attention to all my bodily flaws.

Monday, February 1, 2010

those cartoony legs sort of remind me of monty python

Remember when your mom would make pizza, or you would eat your friend's school lunch pizza (you didn't get school lunch because your dad liked to shop at discount grocers and bring home gallon jars of Spanish olives and past-due Twinkies for you to eat instead), and the crust just tasted like someone spread bread dough (I just accidentally typed "douche" instead, which shows you that I am wicked and gross) in the bottom of the pan? And then they'd spread on plain tomato paste, top it with browned hamburger and cheddar cheese and call it pizza? It was equal parts depressing and angering, right? Well, that's bullcrap. I can't imagine that there is anyone in the information age who does not have access to a good pizza dough recipe already, but here's one from the cookbook John bought me when he was in Boston a few years ago on business. It says North End right in the title, so you know it's totes legit.

Pizza Dough
(adapted/lifted almost whole cloth from The North End Italian Cookbook)
3/4 C lukewarm water
1 T yeast
1/8 t sugar
3 C unbleached flour
1 t salt
1/4 extra virgin olive oil

1. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar into the water and let it foam.
2. In a large bowl, combine 1 C of flour and the salt.
3. Add the olive oil to the yeast mixture. Pour into the flour.
4. Mix in the second cup of flour, then gradually add the rest of the flour and knead it until smooth (about 10 minutes). You may not need to use all the flour.
5. Put the dough into an oiled bowl, rolling the dough to coat it on all sides. Cover it and let it rise until doubled, about 45-60 minutes.

Or, if you have a good stand mixer and instant yeast you can just dump everything in all at once and mix it for 10 minutes, which is what I do.

My hair:

Back view. It's really poofy sometimes, which helps me fit into Utah's hair-farming culture.

Front view. You know how people diffuse tension with humor? I do that, which is why I often make inappropriate jokes at funerals, and why I once told a high school kid (a near-total stranger to me) that for his birthday we were going to buy him a big old fifty dollar whore. That is also why I make faces in pictures, because when I try to look pretty I just end up looking like I have a mustache and a lazy eye. 'CUZ I DO!

Coming soon to this space:

Pizza Dough Recipe!

A photo of my new haircut with me making a face to exacerbate how stupid I look in pictures!

WOO!