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Monday, November 29, 2010

product may stay: misto oil sprayer

I'm getting pretty tired of cat poop. I'm also getting pretty tired of throwing away rugs. Also I guess I have to chop off my foot now.

But on to our topic for today. Do you sometimes feel guilty about all the cans of Pam you throw away? You do use Pam, right? Because the store brand is janky, and it's not even that much cheaper (this is why I am poor). I felt guilty. I tried to go without oil spray for a while, but you may have noticed that I am a lazy activist, and oil spray is really convenient. What to do? Luckily the internets are a boundless source of things to buy, and because every website has Terminator code written in, there are helpful suggestions geared to your interests. So Amazon recommended this to me, and darn if it isn't a totally awesome invention.

You fill the canister halfway with the oil of your choice (I'm using grapeseed right now), pressurize it by pumping the lid, and spray away. Every time I empty it I run warm water through it to keep it clog-free, and it's like new again. I've filled it three? four? times now, and it has already paid for itself. I will be completely honest with you and say that the spray that comes out is not as fine as from a Pam can, but it works all the same, and really, are we going to bellyache about slightly larger oil dots on the bottom of our cake pans? Why don't you just stab Mother Earth in the kidneys?

Buy it. It's useful, and for less than ten dollars (not including shipping) you can be kind to trees.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

get bent, ma'am

This. This was a terrific article. I was thinking "Testify!" and feeling a little bit indicted at the same time (visions of Smith's running through my head). I sometimes forget what a drag know-it-all missionaries are, so next time I'm up on the Rameumptom*, kindly tell me to cram it with walnuts. After all, the whole movement to eat normal food is mostly about it being better for everyone in every way, and only partly about making people feel stupid for not agreeing with you.

Also extremism is gross.

*A Rameumptom is a pulpity sort of thing in a church building where one person at a time stands to vocally thank God for making them so much better than everyone else. It's from a story in the Book of Mormon. Some other time we can discuss the irony.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

yeah, birds are happy--that's why they can fly

I know this lady who refuses to touch raw meat. She gets all fainting-couch about it, like she's going to vomit if she even talks about raw chicken. That seems pretty childish to me. I think a lot of phobias are that way. I have some of my own--e.g., sharks in pools--and I wonder if they only develop in privileged areas. I can't imagine there are a lot of people working 18-hour days who need smelling salts if they have to break down a chicken for dinner. Because who has time for that whiny baby nonsense? Grow a pair already!

This morning our magic neighbors came over to pick up their wether. He was a total freak and led us on a merry chase around the goat pen. But eyes in front will always outwit eyes on the side, and we eventually caught him.

The chickens have finally grown their feathers back, now that the rooster's reign of terror is over. He must have been a very vigorous lover, because they were still barebacked for months after John dispatched him.

A few minutes ago I set my oven mitt on fire. It was exciting. Just the end of it burned, though.

Do you want to see the lump of cat poop that one of our cats (not Skiver--he had already been banished for pooping in the dining room) left in the bathroom the day that we fed them canned salmon? Thought I'd never ask, didn't you? I made sure to have my feet in the picture so you could have a size comparison. John had just finished taking his shower, and he hunched right down, rubber glove on, all-purpose cleaning wipes in hand, nude save for the towel around his waist, and cleaned it up lickety-split. I laughed and laughed between cursing whichever cat it was (probably Rex, the attention whore). If it weren't indecent I would have taken a picture for you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I met someone who's never heard of pandora's box

I rendered some lard the other day, because I realized that the lard at the store is hydrogenated (hence its shelf-stability, duh), which is kind of a major part of the reason I buy lard instead of shortening. So, since Tipsy says it's doable, and I've been looking for more ridiculous cooking jobs to do, I got some leaf lard from my butcher of choice (Premium Meat--try their amazing bacon) and rendered it up in a pan. It was a . . . disquieting smell.
I'm not going to describe the whole process for you; Tipsy has already done an admirable job of it for us here, as well as in her new cookbook due in . . . 2011, I believe? I will be buying it, and so should you.

I'll still use store lard for making soap, but for pies and biscuits it's home-rendered all the way.

In other news, I finally finished Pinga's Christmas sock, just in time for her fourth Christmas. I'm super prompt that way. I started these long ago when we only had two children. Now they're all done, and I told John we're not having any more kids, because I'll be darned if I'm going to make another sock (ha! unintentional pun). Patchwork, boo! The effort, she is too much.
In agricultural news, it's WINTER CHORE SEASON. The lesson in Young Women yesterday was about being optimistic and having a positive attitude, so I will not complain about winter chore season. Instead I will say that I enjoyed spending time outside with John, stringing extension cords and wrapping the connections with plastic and tape so they don't short out, and scrubbing dust and poop and black mold out of the chicken and goat water buckets with baking soda.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

there are some things beyond the ken of mortal man that shouldn't be tampered with

For crying out loud, all I want is a cowboy boot with a dark grass green 14-inch shaft, a chocolate brown oiled vamp, a block heel, and a narrow square or U-shaped toe! Why is this so hard?

I'm going to tell you an ugly story about myself.

Last week I was in Smith's and I thought really judgmental thoughts about this dumpy, haggard-looking mom who was obviously way overextended with the three children under four running around pell-mell, pulling things off the shelves. She didn't seem too bothered by what was going on, but was half-heartedly threatening to take away their doughnuts if they didn't settle down, and they were yelling that they didn't want doughnuts anyway. She had a cart full of things that I would not call food, and I just looked at her and thought, "Well, duh." No wonder she looks and feels terrible. No wonder her kids are monsters. Garbage in, garbage out.

Maybe I think that buying better food than her makes me a better person. Maybe I take heart in knowing that there's at least one thing I'm not doing wrong. Maybe she was just having an off day. Maybe instead of looking down my nose at her I should have smiled reassuringly at her and said, "Kids! They're a handful!" But I didn't. Her kids were really bratty!

Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't tell these kinds of warts-and-all stories.

In other news, after many, many treatments of lemon juice, baking soda, and Nature's Miracle, the smell has finally dissipated from the unvarnished section of the dining room floor where Skiver chose to experience diarrhea after I fed him canned salmon last week.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

jazzy tunes notwithstanding

This morning while I was in the bathroom re-combing Captain America's hair--his standards for "combed" are much lower than mine--Groceries hopped up onto the toilet seat and tried to climb me by sinking his claws into the part of me that would be called the round, if I were being divided into primal cuts.
image courtesy of wikipedia

Not a good time, especially in thin knit leggings.

Last night we watched "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," and I was reminded what a total bummer Charlie Brown is. No wonder he doesn't have any friends! He's a hopeless sad sack who brings everybody down! And Snoopy needs to ditch that flying ace affectation, because it is tired. Lucy is a shrew, Linus needs speech therapy, Schroeder is pretentious, Sally is vacuous, and Pig Pen is disgusting. The end. I hope the Christmas special holds up better upon review.

Friday, November 12, 2010

our daughters' daughters will adore us

The other day I had to go buy some more liquor for my vanilla extract. That's always a weird experience, since I can't just pick it up at the grocery store and hide it under the bananas if I see someone I know. Sorry if I've cost anybody their testimony because you saw me lugging a big paper sack out of the liquor store. I promise I don't drink it unless I really, really want to.

I've been using gold rum in my vanilla, which is a bonus if I'm making a recipe that calls for rum--two birds with one stone, you know. But I've read that rum has fruity notes, and bourbon has caramel notes, and since I am not a fan of fruity vanilla I decided to try bourbon in this last batch. My palate is nowhere near refined enough to even tell the difference, but I like to think that someday, someone, perhaps a truffle pig, may appreciate my effort. Maybe next time I'll try dark rum--hey, maybe I'll have a bunch of different vanillas for different applications! I think I'll start a business now. Don't steal my idea. Except I wouldn't feel right about selling something that's so easy to make yourself. You guys, cast off the shackles of Big Vanilla. Buy some good beans, maybe cut a couple of them open, and plop them in the liquor of your choice--heck, use vodka if you want to be boring and pedestrian. Wait a month, and you're done. Here's what I do.

Homemade Vanilla
1/2 gallon Mason jar
12-14 vanilla beans
2 liters liquor of your choice (you won't use all of it the first time--the extra is for topping off)

Put the beans in the jar. Pour the liquor over them. Close the jar and give it a shake every now and then for a month or two. The process will go faster if you cut a couple of the beans open. I decant the vanilla into a smaller jar with a pour spout--something like this: I keep it on my counter and refill as needed. When the alcohol in the big jar gets down far enough to expose the beans I add some more. It is easy as pie, and this way you also have vanilla beans nicely preserved for whenever you want to slash one open and scrape its guts into your dessert.

You can use any jar you want, as long as it's tall enough for the booze to cover your beans.

I made coconut cream pie filling with coconut milk instead of regular milk this morning, and it worked like I suspected it might. Why have I wasted so much of my life eating shredded coconut stirred into vanilla cream pie filling and thinking that was good enough? Boo, old-timey cooks! You know better!

***LATE BREAKING EDIT***

Whoa, people! I did not realize how much Frontier charges for their vanilla beans on Amazon. That is steep, steep. I get mine wholesale, and it's about $20, including tax, for about 30 beans.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

a long-simmering feud erupts

I hope John's parents don't read my blog. At least not today, because holy crow, have you seen this commercial?

WHAT WAS THAT?

Now, John and I have analyzed this incredibly offensive commercial, and here are our findings.

John's findings
1. This commercial is targeted at men, because men buy jewelry.
2. The woman puts her arms around the man, and the graphics show the necklace doing the same thing, to connect the pendant to the woman's behavior, leading to:
3. The entire commercial is for the five-second scene that starts 23 seconds in, where the woman (using her sex worker voice) sends a clear message of "Jewelry! You can touch my boobs now." And the men will think, "Must buy jewelry."

Layne's findings
1. That guy is a serial killer. No, really, did you listen to his voice? "In all the years we've been coming here heh heh heh . . . and I always will be heh heh heh . . ."
2. The grossly overwrought fear response to thunder and lightning is infantilizing, sexist, and has earned Kay Jewelers an eternal rabid enemy (me).
3. If anyone brought me that hideous piece of jewelry, even separated from its archaic misogynist trope of an ad, I would throw him out.
4. Any woman who would accept jewelry from this company is a traitor to the sisterhood.

Is my reaction breaking Newton's Third Law of Motion?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

of baby candy

Hey, so, I came across a blog post about Halloween, and one of the commenters was griping "if your child can't walk, they can't have any candy!" What the crap? What is wrong with her? Why is she so evil and bizarrely fixated on Trick-or-Treat protocol? Not me. If you come to my house properly costumed at any age, I will give you candy. That lady is a bummer and she needs to cram it with walnuts. My only Halloween rule is NO TRUNK OR TREAT. Trunk or treat is a lame idea for lamewads.

My aunt gave me her Paul McCartney concert shirt, which was way righteous of her. I wore it yesterday and EVERYONE WAS JEALOUS.

Do you want to know how the park is progressing? Well, good, I'll tell you. We have to conduct an anonymous income survey of the section of town that will benefit most from the park to see if we're poor enough to get a grant. Hope so! I've spent the last week preparing packets for the Boy Scouts, one packet for each of the routes, full of maps, envelopes, surveys, scripts, pencils, sharpeners, and highlighters (red for refusal, green for completed survey, yellow for not home). I am bribing the Boy Scouts with donuts to make them happy about traipsing around in the frigid November weather asking surly townsfolk intrusive questions. Civic involvement is a two-edged sword, my friends.

Monday, November 8, 2010

what you need you have to borrow

Both Better Homes and Gardens and Country Living have been sort of weird with their phrasing the last couple of months. They keep saying things like, "Problem is . . ." and "Thing is . . ." with no 'the' in front. I don't know what that usage is called, but I don't like it. It makes me feel like they're trying to be all informal and hip. Look, nobody likes a grandma in a miniskirt, I don't care how good her legs are (Tina Turner excepted).

Over the last week we have talked ourselves into and out of a dog again (not literally). It was really hard for me to not take Captain America's wish for a puppy and just ride it into the sunset. I want you all to applaud my growth. I keep reminding myself that I will regret it the second we get a dog. I will resent the burden it is on my schedule. I will hate the smell and the mess and the guilt for not exercising it. But you guys, the shelter in Logan gets 4-6 new dogs a day. And it just makes me grit my teeth in frustration. Why don't people spay and neuter? Why don't they adopt from shelters? It's like they grew up in a weird alternate reality where Bob Barker and ethical animal husbandry don't exist! Also many shelters want to die on the sword of recouping their entire investment in the animal, rather than ask for "a donation of your choice" to try to at least get the animal into a loving home.

I'm pretty sure that using recycled materials and energy-efficient appliances in a monstrously large house do not tip the scale to "green." Sorry.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

oh render thanks

A few years ago I was watching Martha Stewart, and one of the audience members asked a question about pets ruining furniture, and Martha said she'd rather have animals than nice furniture, and she said it all sniffy-like, like the lady was a total buzzkill for caring about her furniture so much. Doesn't that seem like a lie to you? I love Martha, but she is a proven neat freak. I'm a proven slob, and when I had to search and destroy ANOTHER puddle of Skiver's pee this morning I was royally pissed. He's going to ruin our cowhide and wool rug! So I call shenanigans on Martha.

Since many (Jill) of you want the recipe for my grandma's squash pie, I will give it to you. But you have to promise to do it the right way--none of this baking-in-the-crust nonsense. To blind bake, if you are curious, means to bake the pie crust in the tin with no filling. Detailed instructions can be found here. I would add to their instructions this advice: don't stretch the dough when you're draping it into the pan. It shrinks as it cooks, and if you've stretched it, then your crust will end up smaller than the pan and will be gross and stupid. I know from experience. So be generous with your dough.

Squash Pie
(makes 1 pie)

Whisk in a large bowl:
3 eggs

Whisk thoroughly into eggs:
2 C cooked squash or canned pumpkin*
1 1/2 C heavy cream
3/4 C sucanat or brown sugar
1 T honey or liquid sugar of your choice
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground ginger or 1-2 T of fresh grated ginger
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t allspice
1/2 t salt

The spices are all rough estimates, of course. Use as many as you want. Pour into a pan and cook at 375* for 1 1/2 hours or until it is the desired consistency. Spoon the cooled filling into a baked pie crust, top with whipped cream and serve.

*My grandma uses Blue Hubbard squash, always has, always will, but my mom usually uses canned pumpkin. My grandpa says he can tell the difference, but he is full of it, according to the blind taste test we did many years ago. I use Blue Hubbard myself, because it's a delicious eatin' squash and it's huge, so I always have some left over. But the other day I used a Rouge Vif d'Etampes pumpkin, and it's just as good.

Pie Crust
(makes 2 single crust pies or 1 double crust)

2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 T sugar
1 1/2 t coarse salt
1/2 C chilled lard
3/4 C chilled butter (1 1/2 sticks)
ice water

Combine dry ingredients, then cut in fat until there are a range of pieces from crumbs to small peas in size. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture holds together when pinched. Do not overwork the dough. When the dough holds together, shape it into two equal balls and flatten each ball into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before using.

I love this recipe. The butter makes the dough extremely easy to work with (and not as easy to overwork), and the lard makes it flaky.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

or by a comma when the feeling's not as strong

I just want to remind everyone really quickly that Republicans like big government just as much as Democrats do.

Because I am a pessimist who chafes at being bossed, I cannot see the benevolent hand of government. I think of government as a mink that while in its cage is somewhat manageable, but at liberty will eat the heads off of all your chickens. Then it will bite your hand--the fleshy part near the thumb. And it will get infected and ooze green pus, and you'll eventually die a horribly painful death of rabies or some other blood-borne disease.

Sorry to get all issues-driven on you.

Have I told you yet how everybody else in the world makes their pumpkin pie wrong? If so, too bad, because I'm going down the only road I've ever known. Here's what you SHOULD be doing: cook the filling in a pan, then blind bake your crust and put the filling in the cooled crust. Spoon a bunch of whipped cream on top and have at it. Trust me, it's so much better. As John describes it, there is a spectrum where 0 represents nasty crap he doesn't want to eat, -50 is regular pumpkin pie, and -2 is pumpkin pie my family's way. How can you disregard such a glowing endorsement?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

it's a drag it's a bore it's really such a pity

I reread Dracula for Halloween this year. The last time I read it was in high school, and it was a fun romp and all, but I'm irritated by Bram Stoker. I imagine he was fairly typical of his era and I got pretty tired of the constant surprised statements of how special Mina Harker is because she has a "man's brain," and the men's fear that she would lose her sanity if they discussed the nature of vampires with her . . . you know how hysterical women are. Groan. Then there's the xenophobic Westerner way in which he voiced Van Helsing and described all the minor players. Perhaps I'm seeing bigotry where there was none, or none intended, but he already lost me with his Madonna/whore complex.

Also I read Stiff and The Secret Life of Bees. Stiff was okay. It kept not being as entertaining as I wanted it to be. The Secret Life of Bees was better than I anticipated. I was afraid it was going to be an Oprah's Book Club-type, all full of rape and incest and whatnot, but it wasn't (spoiler!). It did irritate me all over again and made me marvel at the ability of humans to be thoroughly despicable.

Speaking of which: hey, it's Election Day! Good luck.

this is to help me remember

Coming soon to this space: introspective musings about underlying and overt misogynist themes in Dracula.