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2012 :: 1

11 January 2012

I’ve got a new favorite kitchen tool. It’s often overlooked, and most people don’t even use it. But you should — you really should.

It is an ice cube tray. Really.

I’ve been using mine for pesto for many years — in fact, I even blogged about it. Then, this fall, our parsley plant just wouldn’t stop producing. We had more parsley growing int the garden than any one family could use. So, I did a bit of internet searching, and ended up whirring up huge handfuls of parsley with a bit of water and freezing it in cubes. The end product does look a bit “crispy” on the edges — so next time I might whir it up with oil. But so far it’s been nice to pop a cube or two into a soup or stew before serving.

Then just a few days ago, I had a bag of lemons in the refrigerator that I wasn’t using fast enough. You see, when I was growing up, one could buy bottles of frozen lemon juice (REAL lemon juice) at the store. It was ideal for cooking. But now all I can find are those plastic lemons filled with lemon-oil flavored fake-o stuff. Yuck. I absolutely refuse to cook with that. So whenever the Consort brings me a bag of lemons from the store (for whatever recipe I am following at the time), most of them end up in the compost — either dried out or moldy — because I couldn’t use them fast enough.

I don’t know what made me think of the ice cube tray, but I am glad I did! I squeezed the entire bag of lemons, made a batch of lemon juice cubes, and am now keeping them in the freezer in the kitchen. Good thing, too, because I am struggling with a scratchy throat the past two days, so I pop a cube in a mug, pour over some boiling water, add a nice dollop of honey and an unpleasant (but healthy) spoon of raw apple cider vinegar, and soothe my throat.

… I wonder what else I can freeze in my ice cube tray?


This hurts more than I expected

1 December 2011

I know, 16 days does not make a month. Sorry, no awards for me.

I don’t think my immediate family reads over here anymore, which is fine, especially today. I can’t say anything on Facebook (would you like to read my over-the-top political ramblings over there? If I “know” you via the blog, I’d be happy to add you…) because, well, you’ll see in a minute. So this has become my secret space (except for you, Consort. if you’re still here, that’s fine. So I suppose what I meant at the top of the paragraph was: I don’t think the girls read over here anymore.).

We are hyphenated people. Imperatrix-Consort. Thing is, we didn’t start out that way (first we went with Imperatrix as our middle name, Consort as our surname), then we switched over, but in between the girls were born so although we all go around as Imperatrix-Consort, on the girls’ social security cards they are listed as Imperatrix (middle name) Consort (surname).

This has blown up in Impera’s face as she began the path towards college. Her school has her hyphenated, but all the college tests she took (the alphabet soup of SAT, ACT, AP, etc.) were under the Consort-only name (you need to show your ID [and for her Driver’s License she had to show her SSN]). So she’s had issues with partial files in the Admissions departments ( for the 3 early action schools she applied to), warning emails that she had 36 hours to get everything in before the deadline (everything was in, just part under one name and part under the other). Tonight she said she was switching all her paperwork to Consort-only.

And I cannot stop crying. I’m hiding out in the office because it is her decision, and she already knows this decision hurt me, and there’s no reason to rub it in or use emotion to make her change her mind,  but every time I think I’ve got things under control, my eyes get red again.

I knew the name wouldn’t last forever. She would probably meet someone and they would probably make name decisions, one way or another. But right now it would be so easy to officially get things fixed at Imperatrix-Consort. Not much more difficult at all.

I am Imperatrix. Her choosing to cast that part off is hard. The Consort just peeked in the office, and he says  I seem to be taking this personally. Yes. Of course I am. I don’t know how else I could take it. Because if Imperatrix wasn’t important to who I consider myself to be, then why would I have considered it as any part of our name — either middle name or surname?

I am just so sad. And that’s all there it to it.

Shedding the bad

16 November 2011

I did it — I have put aside the three partially read books that I own, and this morning I walked to the downtown library (2 miles each way) to return 2666. In their place, I have borrowed the Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies. I spent about half an hour sitting in the sun at the library, checking whether it was worth borrowing the Davies, and it absolutely is! I started the year with A Prayer for Owen Meany, and I’m finding some similarities in the style of that book and the Davies trilogy.

Funny — I actually saw Robertson Davies give a talk at Georgetown when I was there. I’m pretty sure it was 1991 — the year the Consort was on the West Coast and I was finishing up my degrees all by my lonesome. I don’t remember sitting with anyone, so I think I was alone, which would make it that solo year. And I think he read from the Deptford trilogy — although in my head I thought the pregnant woman hit with a snowball died (that isn’t the case).

He’s already made me chuckle with some of his descriptions. I’m glad I have cut the dead weight and moved on.

Bad luck night

14 November 2011

The Prius wouldn’t start. I’m hoping it’s the 12V ignition battery, because if it’s the hybrid battery then it may cost a lot of money to replace (although the car is younger than 8 years, so it should be covered in any event).

The potatoes I thought I asked for on this week’s shopping list were not bought.

The dishwasher was not run last night, so I had to handwash the cutting board, the chopping knife, and measuring spoons before starting to prepare supper (I *hate* having to wash things before I actually start cooking — I don’t include it in my estimated prep time, and I just don’t think it’s nice to have to wash up before I can start).

So I’m going to watch some hulu.


13 November 2011

Now that we have cable, we’ve been able to watch football on Sundays. I’m not a big football fan (I prefer the commercials), but the Consort is a BIG New England Patriots fan. It’s a nice Sunday ritual to sit with him to watch a game. I usually bring my computer and my knitting to the couch, and I look up at the screen occasionally. We cheer together, we bemoan bad calls together, we get tired of the commercials after their fifth airing together.

We spend time together.

ISO: My reading mojo

12 November 2011

I am in a rut. Part of the problem is that I have three ongoing books (no, I just realized, it’s four!). I know I shouldn’t have more than one going at a time, but I’m finding myself bored by the books I am choosing — even those I’ve been looking forward to for a long while.

I consider myself an SF fan, but lately everything I read I think it pretty weak (I could write something better than this, for crying out loud!). So I am going for more meaty stuff (I can’t stand chick lit and other bestseller fluff).

Now, the easy thing to blame would be the Internet, and I do blame my Web addiction for part of the problem. I agree that my attention span is much shorter than it used to be, pre-Internet; in this case, however, I’m finding lots of time for knitting, so it can’t be just the Internet and its brain-melting rays.

I enjoy beginning a book, and in some cases even love big portions of it, but then I find myself in a quagmire of words and I end up *making* myself read  “just 20 pages, dammit” so that I can eventually finish it. Maybe if I list them for you here (since they can’t go in my Books Read list!), I can start making sense of this problem.

A Time for Everything by Karl Knausgaard. I read a review of this book probably a year ago in the New York Review of Books and was intrigued. I had to wait because at first it wasn’t available in English; then it was, but only in hardcover, and I didn’t want to spend the money. Finally, it was in trade paperback, and I had some cash-on-hand at Amazon, so I ordered it. It is a strange book, and starts out feeling more like a nonfiction treatise than a work of fiction. But oh! when Knausgaard starts retelling some of the keystone stories of the Old Testament, what fantastic imagery he writes. It’s a mishmash of ancient story retold in a time-addled 19th century setting. But the emotions resonate. I’d recommend it simply for the retelling of the tale of Noah’s Ark. I’m in the end game, but I really don’t care about the Italian-searching-for-angels story which frames the book. I don’t care how the Italian died in the alps, so the book is sitting on my desk, slowly getting covered up by to-do lists and scraps of notes to myself.

I thought I needed something a bit lighter-going. Perhaps the heaviness of the latter chapters in Knausgaard kept me from enjoying it? So I bought The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey. It’s the 2001 Winner of the Booker Prize, so it isn’t crap. And it’s about a time and place (Australia in the 1800s) that I don’t know much about. It’s fun reading … except when I start feeling it drag. I get it, I get it! Ned Kelly had a hardscrabble youth, he was abused by a corrupted social system, he became an outlaw. It has become boring, and he’s only 18 years old (there are thirty more years of him to go).

Another New York Review of Books issue, another article. This time on Roberto Bolano. It seems he is a crazy-famous modern author from Chile. I acknowledge that I hadn’t heard of him, and I was curious. So I borrowed 2666 from the library. I’m on my second renewal, it’s due in 10 days, and damned if I know if I will finish it in time. I loved the first (of five) parts, until it got a bit dull. Part two I just felt I had to get through. Part three was OK, and part four (where I am right now) is entirely made up of brief story-paragraphs about each woman/girl killed in a northern Mexican town in the 1990s. (I know, it sounds unpleasant, but it’s pretty good, truth be told.) It’s modern fiction, so I’m not sure there is going to be a resolution. That might be what is holding me back, I don’t know. I’d recommend this one too, even though I’m having difficulties. (Also, I figured this would be good practice for Murakami’s 1Q84, which is tempting me, even though it’s been published only this month and thus only in hardback.)

The last one I’m wasting time with is honest-to-goodness fluff. It’s Moonheart by Charles deLint. I devoured a ton of his fiction about 10 years ago, and I really like his idea of urban fantasy. In fact, deLint’s body of work is part of why I thought it would be super-cool to live in Toronto (that is, until I drove around it once and was completely turned off by the 10-lane highways. Blech.) This time around, I know his method, and I keep thinking, “I got it, enough character development — let’s get somewhere with this story!” Impatience is an unvirtue.

What do I love? Well, Trollope. But I’m afraid to pick up one of those, on the off-chance that my reading melancholia will taint Barchester.

I don’t mind working hard for my reading pleasure, in fact I prefer it (see: not liking bestseller crap). I just wish I knew what I could do to find pleasure in reading again.

This ennui is pissing me off!

Imperatrix is hydrated, but cold

9 November 2011


I try to drink enough fluids*, but my drink of preference is hot tea, black or green, which is fine but not particularly hydrating if you add in the diuretic effect and the fact that you just can’t drink as much hot tea as you can unheated water. But water is kinda boring, unless you’re coming in from hot work out in the yard.

Non Sequitur-cum-Segue

For his birthday, we got the Consort one of those S0dastream carbonated water systems.

Nested Non Sequitur-cum-Segue

Many years ago, BC (before children) even, we made homemade gifts for our parents for Christmas. One recipe we tried was Rosemary-Zinfandel jelly — it sounded like it would be a good condiment for pork, perhaps (I don’t really remember what it was going to be good for — this was BC, after all [so long ago!]). The problem was, it didn’t set up, so we were left with an entire batch of rosemary-zinfandel liquid. We couldn’t inclue that failure with our gift packages, but we couldn’t imagine wasting all that good wine and herbage, either. So we experimented with different uses and noticed that it tasted damned good when mixed with mineral water/seltzer water. And that was how rosemary-zinfandel syrup was born, which we now make — on purpose — almost every year.

Back to Original NScS

Last year the Consort got a cider press to make hard cider from our backyard apples, and some of it tasted good but didn’t carbonate quite how he would have liked. So he thought a carbonation system would help salvage the cider that hadn’t bubbled, and as a perk, we could use for our rosemary-zinfandel drink.

Solution to My Conundrum

I have found that it is very easy to drink enough water when the water is bubbly and flavored with a hint of essence (rosemary-zin, or the lemon-lime/orange essences that came with the S0dastream). I can easily down two liters of the stuff over the course of a day. Not bad, huh?

Enter Conundrum #2

In the winter, in our cold, cold house (65F during the day), warm drinks keep me warm from the inside out. Carbonated water, even if just room temperature, keep me cold from the inside out.

I just don’t know what to do.


*You do know how to tell if you’re hydrated, right? Your pee is a pale yellow. The paler, the better.


8 November 2011

Listening: To my Latin Guitar station on Pandora.

Smelling: The banana bread (made from on-sale fair-trade fruit from Ecuador) cooling down in the kitchen.

Tasting: Ban-cha tea. Toasted green tea, mmmmm.

Seeing: The gray, cold winter precipitation moving through. (Cold rain, right now, but should be turning to snow this evening.)

Feeling: The warmth of the pashmina shawl my parents gave me across my back and shoulders. (The magic of silk, ahhhhh.)

Promising: That better posts will come soon. I’m working through some issues that are making me very angry, but I need to let things settle before I can write without using vulgarity.


Short today – don’t even bother

7 November 2011

The Monday of Standard Time is tough. You probably woke up early because your internal clock was still on Savings Time, and now here it is evening (or night, as your body thinks it is).

So I am struggling to stay awake, hoping that 9:30 comes soon (in a minute, in a minute) so I can get today’s Sudoku from the NYT site. That should help me make it to 10 pm, when I can justifiably call it a night.

Today I am:

6 November 2011


I cast on for my curent project on Thursday. Friday evening and Saturday I chugged along, getting a handle on the four different stitch patterns as I went. Today, after a couple more hours of knitting, I had 4 inches of the bodice completed — enough that I could transfer the knitting to scrap yarn and try it on. Just to get a sense of how things were coming together.

Wellllllll, despite knitting a gauge swatch, it seems that the bodice as knit from the measurements I have is way too big.

So I will un-knit (frog) the 7,000 stitches I’ve spent the last few days knitting, and begin again.