Musing on food and cooking ...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Lawn Mowing Bandit?

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that someone had mowed the public grassy area in front of my house - you know, that little strip that runs between the sidewalk and the road. Coolness. I usually mow it, even though it belongs to the city. I figured maybe the city had done it while collecting yard waste from the fall. I thought nothing of it, and I ceratinly didn't mow the lawn in my front yard.

See, I like to keep my yard at about 3 inches, especially in the fall before winter hits, because I think the longer grass will surive winter better. I also don't use any chemicals, and I have some weird strain of grass that looks a bit scraggly at 2 inches beacuse it spreads out horizontally, not vertically, like most grass does. Unfortunately, most of the folks in my neighborhood like to keep their lawns at about half an inch, using tons of chemicals. Heck, some of my neighbors are out there working on their lawns every other day.

Now that it is practically December, I leave in the almost-dark and come home in the dark. But I noticed this morning that someone had actually come behind my fence and mowed my front yard. Down to half an inch. Yesterday. When it barely cracked freezing. So I am slightly annoyed that the lawn mowing bandit has mowed my personal property, against my wishes and feelings about organic lawns and preparing for winter. On the other hand, they did do a nice job of dealing with the evil grass that touches the evil fence.

I just hope that my grass doesn't completely die because of this late mowing. I guess I won't know until spring hits. Not that it really matters all that much as I am removing a lot of the grass in the front and putting in flower and herb beds. Frankly, the less lawn the better...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Days of Turkey Destruction

Well, miracle of miracles, I actually did get to travel home for Thanksgiving. The DOE only mildly messed with my travel plans, and I ended up only having to work for part of a day on Saturday. A big thanks goes out to my friend Donna, who let me borrow her employer's Internet connection so I could download all of my needed files.

I actually began my holiday on Wednesday, driving through the pouring rain to Bakers Square, where I collected the holiday pies. I then had to stop and get new wiper blades, as mine were, well, dead, and I needed to be able to see to drive north. I managed to leave Gurnee at 10 am, and made it to the family homestead about 4ish. There was little traffic, the weather cleared, and there were few cops on the roads. Bliss!

Thursday was a pretty restful day, actually, involving some food prep, but mostly the playing of cards and the looking at of dead deer. Yes, I was the happy recipient of a small milk-fed venison, courtesy of the mighty family hunters. A picture will be forthcoming of the poor little bambi without his winter coat. Dinner was terribly traditional, although I did spice things up by adding some Middle Eastern spices to our roasted root veggies. Mwahahahahahahahaha! We finished the evening with more card playing, and I won a whole sixty cents playing poker.

Friday was spent processing the bambi, which is no fun in near zero weather. It may be easier to make carpaccio when the meat is semi-frozen but it is definitely harder to butcher a body when it is semi-frozen. Still, working together we got it done and I went to my friend Donna's house to cook her family dinner and use her Intertubes.

The evening ended sadly, however, as a family friend had too much to drink and got a little out of line and was physically escorted to the door and ejected. I may be an ardent feminist, but after that little incident, I can certainly say that there are times when a display of brute male force is not only appreciated but needed. What could have been a major incident was dealt with posthaste, leading to only a bit of discomfort and the understanding that an intervention is needed.

Saturday, I worked in the morning, and the afternoon was spent handing out (tm), eating leftovers, etc etc. And I headed home early Sunday morning. Again, little traffic, good weather, and only a handful of cops. Bliss! The only things distressing about the drive at all were the leaking of a quart of milk in my back seat which I didn't discover until I got back home (yuck) and the excessive number of signs supporting Ron Paul.

Going home for me is always a bit of bitter sweet. I often feel like some sort of weird alien. There are several things that really strike me when I travel north. The first is the incredible poverty of the area. And it appears to be getting worse - that or I really am a pretenious middle class bitch, what with my radical independence, my education and my owning a house and my lack of a male partner, etc.

I am also struck by the incredible racism of the area. The anti-Latino sentiment is glaring, and, frankly, if I hear one more of my friends or relatives tell me the difference between "blacks" and "niggers," at least as it was explained to them by our white relatives from Alabama who I am certain are not considering historical context of the terms, I am going to puke. So much of the racism is rooted in ignorance and poverty. Unfortunately, trying to educate most folks in that area doesn't seem to work well. They are very proud of their ignorance; for many, it seems to be a mark of high character (and yes I know not everyone is that way, but there certainly are a lot of folks I interact with up there that are that way).

The rest of the racism is rooted in poverty. See, there is this feeling that poor whites in that area are losing everything to interlopers, who - of course - are non-white. I had a friend tell me her son would never be able to go to college because he was a white man and everything was stacked against him and all the scholarship money goes to "those Mexicans." What they don't realize is that, for centuries, they - the white lower class - were completely disempowered by the white patriarchal system. They were powerless. They had a lack of resources. And the only folks worse off than they were were minorities. Well, now that many minorities are working toward moving out of that lower class, the white lower class is feeling threatened, feeling like they are going to loose what little power and resources the white upper class allowed them to have. What I wish for is if they could get over this and realize that if everyone in the lower classes banded together (no matter the color of their skin) and worked to take power and resources away from the white upper class, they would be better off. As long as the white upper class can keep the white lower class and the minority class battling each other, they can keep getting richer, while everyone else gets poorer.

You know what?

Viva la revolucion!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Curried Wheat Berry Salad

My cousin living in New York has requested the recipe for this favorite cold salad. It's a very free form recipe as I have never actually measured anything, but it will get her close.

16 oz wheat berries
1 small package slivered almonds
1 package of golden raisins
1 bunch scallions
equal parts olive oil and lemon juice
1 T honey
1 T sweet curry powder
salt and pepper

Fill a large pot with water. Bring to a boil and salt the water, then add the wheat berries. Cook them until they are tender and then drain. Put in a large mixing bowl. Add in the almonds and golden raisins. Chop the scallions fine and add to bowl. In a smaller lidded container, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and curry powder. Shake until mixed thoroughly. Pour dressing over the wheat berry mixture and then stir well. The salad is best if it is let to sit a bit, letting the flavors get all happy with each other. Since wheat berries can be hard to find, this is also a good recipe for things like barley or brown rice.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Deer?

So as many dear readers know, I was supposed to start my vacation on Saturday, but due to the machinations of the US DOE, I am required to stay here until at least Tuesday. I truly hope to be able to head home on Wednesday morning, so that I can earn my deer.

See, I had made arrangements to be camp cook for deer hunting season this year, hoping to earn money and/or deer to help with the horrible debt I now owe as a result of replacing my 80+ year old roof. Needless to say, I will not be getting credit for the whole week of deer camp, but it looks like I will at least get something.

I had a message on my phone last night from mia madre - crackle crackle, static crackle "got" crackle "heart" crackle static "bring knives." And then dead air. See, they don't get good reception up there due to the huge copper deposit on the homestead, but guessing from the few words I could make out, I either have a deer to butcher when I get up there or my family has decided to become some sort of strange Aztec religionists and are planning a sacrifice in honor of the Thanksgiving Holiday.

So, yeehaw, I will at least have free protein for half the upcoming year! It's something anyway, although donations towards the new roof are gladly accepted.

Friday, November 16, 2007

When is a Lobster not a Lobster?

My super-local supermarket had an advertisement this week for live lobsters 5-7, at $2.99 each. Small lobsters at $2.99 are not far-fetched for someone who lived on the East Coast for a while. It would normally be $2.99 a pound, but a small lobsters is not much over a pound. Plus, if I went to the local Italian fishmonger, I could flirt with the boys, and they would often knock extra off for me.

So I was terribly excited about the $2.99 live lobster sale. i adore lobster. I miss it terribly. The first time I looked at lobster here in Illinois and saw two tails for almost $70, I just about died.

I went to the store and was at the fish counter, looking for the lobster tank. I saw the sign announcing the sale, but no tank. So I looked closer. And it turns out they definitely weren't live. They were on ice in the fish counter. And they definitely weren't lobsters. They were essentially large langoustines. Which are only lobsters by the greatest stretch of the imagination.

So I went away denied and unfullfilled. I simple must get back to Maine next summer, hopefully for Lobster Fest.....

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cultural Mismatches

I play this game quite a lot - Jewel Quest. It's just a cheapo puzzle game you pay $5 bucks for over the Internet. It has some cool graphics and a fun path of increasing difficulty. It uses symbols from the Aztecs, and the basic backstory is that you are an archaeologists uncovering great riches in the jungles of Central America. To such effect, the game has a soudtrack that includes some generic jungle noises in the background.

The kicker, though?

When you actually win a level, you are rewarded with the greatest jungle noise of all - the giant, triumphant blast of a bull elephant.

Yeah, I didn't know that elephants were a Central American jungle thing. Amazing! *rolls eyes*

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cutest Thing Ever

I was heading off to work this morning. I always head off south down my street. it isn't a main street, but there is generally less traffic than there is on the other main road south. Anyway, all the little kids stand at the end of the block in order to wait for the bus.

This morning, I got to the intersection just as the bus arrived frm the East. It stopped and put out its stop sign arm, so I waited patiently as the little kiddies boarded the bus. The last to get on the bus was a little Latino girl, maybe 6 or 7, cute little round face with major pigtails. Her mom has been waiting with her at the stop.

And so was her kitten.

As soon as the little girl got to the second step, her little kitten made a mad dash for the bus and tried to hop on.

Yes, the little girl's kitten loved her so much, it wanted to go to school with her.

It was adorable. It got to the first step and the little girl must have seen it, cause she yelled, "No no gato!" And the little kitten turned and ran back to sit at the mom's feet, looking entirely anxious and sad.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ten Random Things

I was sorta but not really tagged for this meme, so here it goes! Ten random things about me that nobody knows anything about:

1. I am actually quite scared of basements. I have no idea why and some basements creep me out more than others.
2. When I was a little girl, I was quite convinced that I was actually an alien and that eventually my real alien parents would come and take me back home.
3. I often have dreams about houses and factories I have never seen. When I wake up, I can describe exactely how they are laid out. What's even creepier is that I often run across these buildings in my travels and they are, indeed, just like I dreamed them.
4. I won a Presidential Physical Fittness Award in fifth grade.
5. My first real job was as a janitor at Colfax High School during the summer. I have not chewed gum since.
6. There was a time after high school when I really wanted to live as a hermit in the forest.
7. Despite loving my cats, I get awfully tired of the fur all over the place.
8. I was a music geek in high school. I went to state three times for vocal performance and was on the all conference choir my last year of school. I don't sing at all anymore.
9. In junior high and early high school, I had a shaved head and wore combat pants to school.
10. I am actually quite lazy, or at least I feel that I am quite lazy.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mom!

May your day be filled with many hugs!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Weirdest Dream Ever

I realize that I have been under the influence of cold medication lately, but last night I had the weirdest dream ever.

I had a dream that I was a me-sized package of virgin stew meat (with a human head) and was in the process of being sacrificed on the altar to some blood-thirty god or another. All my meat was packaged tight into this tight plastic wrapper and when the priest 'sacrificed" me, he split the plastic with a knife and all my little stew meat pieces gushed onto the floor. Blood every where! And underneath all the little bloody pieces, there I was, looking like a regular human. Afterwards, in the dream, I felt much better about things but I had an incredible longing for shallots and rosemary.

One would think I have been watching Clive Barker movies or some such, even though I haven't.

Monday, November 05, 2007

No posts for a while. Yours truly has been sick and is still not feeling great. bad headache. sore throat. cough. Nose drips.

Have been treating said general yucks with Magic Chicken Soup of Get Wellness (recipe posted at an earlier date) but gussied up with ginger and sirachi and sooper spicy chili - neither of which seems to be working, dammit. About to break out the honey loquat. Yeah, Chinese herbal medicine that doesn't involve body parts from endangered species!