Sunday, January 31, 2010

Too funky

I live in a house full of picky eaters. I've long since resigned myself to the reality that Jim dislikes some of my favorite dinners, like shepherd's pie and chicken divan. Lately, though, I've grown frustrated as our dinner options have dwindled due the smaller finicky parties getting more outspoken about those various ingredients which are out of favor with them.

So the other day, I asked Jim and Jimmy to thumb through a cooking magazine and choose a new recipe to try. They both seemed enthusiastic about a slow-cooked fruity pork roast with cranberries, golden raisins, lemon and apple. I was enthusiastic, too, because we still haven't gotten our new range and I'm depending on my crockpot, microwave and electric griddle to get us through to the delivery date of Wednesday.

Tonight as we sat down to dinner, Jimmy took a bite of the pork and said, "Mom, I don't like this. It tastes funky."

I couldn't help myself; I busted out singing, "Get down tonight, get down tonight."

"No, Mom. Not that kind of funky."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Out with the old...

(And by old, I mean this stove is quite possibly older than I am.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Living local

Sometimes, though I do love where I live, I start feeling trapped by the constraints of small town life. I have to remind myself that with its burgeoning population of over 15,000, this is not actually a small town. In fact, it's a city—it just doesn't feel like one compared to my hometown. I keep reminding myself I wanted this, I wanted to escape the frantic pace of Bellevue, to settle into a place where I can breathe freely and not feel like I have to dress to the nines just to go grocery shopping.

Trying to start a poetry group here is one of those things (besides stove shopping) that's had me wishing I lived in a bigger town. Wishing for the luxury of a bigger pool of poets and fellow artists to draw on in my search. So far, I've recruited just one other poet to my group. I can't complain; the lack of quantity is more than compensated for by this person's insights and skills. Just the same, I'm very envious of the tight-knit and thriving poetry community in Yakima that I bask in every time I go to one of the open-mic nights down there.

So I was really, really excited when I got a call this afternoon inviting me to a poetry reading this coming Wednesday at Bertine's, a local coffeehouse. Another local poet had read my poem in Boston Literary Magazine, noticed I was from the same town, and called to invite me to read some of my poems. A chance to network with other local poets, to hear their work and share mine, to contribute to helping poetry thrive in my community? Cool.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Good news and bad news

The good news is I heard from Every Day Poets this morning, and they're going to publish another one of my poems, a silly, nonsensical piece called "Forestalled".

The bad news? I tried to scramble an egg for my breakfast, and was surprised to find that my stove top no longer works. Well, maybe not that surprised. *@#$! stove.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This is me cussing out my *@#$! oven

I haven't baked bread for about two months now, primarily because of being sick almost continuously since the middle of November through the beginning of this month. Combine that with the holidays, transitioning back into our homeschool schedule, and just trying to stay caught up with the usual demands of life... yeah, no time for baking. So I've been subsisting on scrambled eggs and storebought whole grain English muffins for my breakfasts.

This morning I got up early, worked out, and then fired up our stand mixer with the dough-hook attachment to make a batch of whole wheat bread. The house started to fill with that lovely, yeasty smell of rising dough. After it had risen for about 45 minutes, I rolled out the dough, shaped it into three loaves, set them on top of the stove to rise a second time, and turned on the oven to preheat while I took a quick shower.

When I came back downstairs, the loaves were nice and lofty, ready to bake. I opened the oven, waited for that soft blast of hot air on my face and... nothing. So I ran through the drill (because this happened before, less than a year ago), checking to see if the stovetop worked, whether the oven element was loose, and yes, whether my oven was actually plugged in. Then I had to wrap up my loaves and stick them in the fridge to slow down the rising. Hopefully I can find a surrogate oven to bake my loaves in this afternoon (no, no puns or euphemisms intended there!)

The fun part will be trying to figure out if I want to go to the trouble of replacing the oven element for the second time in a year, or if I'm ready to scrap the whole thing and find a new one. FreeCycle, maybe...?

Monday, January 18, 2010

This is me doing the happy dance

I just found out my poem "Gooseberry Pie" is going to be published in the spring issue of Boston Literary Magazine. I did make a few more improvements before submitting it, and then the editor asked me to shorten the title (by chopping off "a Disappointment in Three Acts"), so as not to ruin the surprise ending.

I love good news.

Friday, January 15, 2010

It's up

My poem was posted today at Every Day Poets. One of the things I like about their site is that readers leave comments, so poets can get feedback about their work and how to make it better.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Holy mole (poblano)

At the end of last summer, Jim was flipping channels and came across an episode of "Tyler's Ultimate" about mole poblano. I think I was in the kitchen, or maybe some other part of the house playing with the kids.

"Honey, get in here!"

Jim knows mole is my favorite Mexican dish, and was right in thinking I wouldn't want to miss learning how to make it. Unfortunately, we tuned in about ten minutes from the end of the show, and even though the recipe was online, I wanted to see all the how-to.

So I set up the DVR to record every episode of "Tyler's Ultimate", and then had to spend some time each week culling through all the unwanted shows, until late in the fall I finally got my mole poblano episode.

I've been holding off making it for a while because I wanted to use turkey instead of chicken, which is more authentic. We had turkey for New Year's dinner, and within a week I'd reached my limit with turkey sandwiches and turkey soup. I'd already boiled the carcass for broth, and the rest of the meat languished undisturbed its Ziploc container in the fridge for over a week. Last night I knew it was time to retire the turkey to the freezer before it went bad, or finally give the mole poblano recipe a test drive.

Making mole is a complex process because of the long list of ingredients and the multiple steps that include roasting, grinding, pureeing, and so forth. Everything was going fine until I put the roasted almonds, oregano, cinnamon, sesame seeds and pepper into Jim's spice grinder.

The grinder started to spew out the coarse powdered ingredients, and then suddenly it seized up and started to smell strongly of hot almonds. Not a good sign. I wound up using my molcajete to grind all the spices, which was actually very enjoyable, and contributed to my illusion of an "authentic" experience.

When finished, the mole was flavorful, spicier than I expected (I'm used to the gringo-friendly restaurant version), and absolutely delish. I served it with brown rice and corn tortillas... at least that's how I ate it. Jim prefers flour tortillas. And the kids, well, they had pigs in blankets.

The leftovers tasted even better when I had some for lunch today. This time I added a bit of sliced avocado and lime juice. Mmm.

Now I've just gotta figure out how to de-gunk Jim's spice grinder.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's been a week...

...since The Big Hurt. In those seven days, I've done yoga three more times (just so you don't think I'm a quitter). I found a beginning yoga DVD that's gentler in its approach, and I've been dialing back my urge to try and do every pose perfectly, which has helped me recover from the soreness without creating more of it.

Maybe next week I'll be ready to go back to Yoga for Dummies (because I'm not about to let anything with "for dummies" in the title kick my butt!)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Nietzsche never did yoga

Friedrich Nietzsche famously said, "What doesn't kill me, makes me stronger." If he had ever practiced yoga, you can bet it would have been more along the lines of, "What doesn't kill me only makes me wish I were dead."

Bring the pain

For a while now I've been considering practicing yoga, but I've been so sick this winter that it's taken me a while to feel up to it. Jim got me a yoga mat for Christmas and I queued up a couple beginner yoga DVDs from Netflix.

Today was the day. I rolled out of bed before dawn to breathe deeply to the soothing moves of "Yoga for Dummies."

That was 18 hours ago. I just took three ibuprofen because I'm already starting to feel the burn, and I'm afraid to even go to sleep because of what I will feel like when I try and drag my sorry self out of bed in the morning.

Who's a dummy now?

Friday, January 01, 2010

New year, new look

As the saying goes, "Even an old barn looks better with a fresh coat of paint." After a couple years of the same look, I figured the ol' blog was due for a makeover.

Jim says my new banner and color scheme are a bit "bubblegum".

I say, for a gum-chewin' chicklegirl such as myself, that's just about right.