Friday, March 25, 2005

A lull in the blogging

We're leaving tomorrow morning to head down to the Smoky Mountains area to do some camping and canoeing on the Fontana Resevoir. This means that I will be entering a period of culinary passivity. Whether it is due to the limitations of camping cuisine or my fear of the camping stove (which sounds like a jet engine and which I always think will blow up in my face), I let Brian do all the cooking when we camp. I am hoping for good weather and for Fiona to learn that throwing herself out of the canoe (repeatedly) is not a good idea.

My food contribution to the trip is limited to research on places to eat along the way. Roadfood is a good source for southern barbeque and I'm sure we'll try to time our driving so we hit Lexington and the Alfalfa restaurant when hungry. I'll print out their menu in case the kids are super crabby and we have to get takeout.

I also need to pick out a book and a knitting project to take with me. I'm thinking I'll take Blindness to read; though it isn't exactly light vacation reading, I am seriously hoping for a little time to get into it (while camping with two kids under 5 years old...yeah...right....). Knitting wise, I am sorely tempted to go out today and buy some circular needles to start a pair of socks on. I read this on-line piece about how to knit two socks simutaneously (rather than one sock at a time) on two circular needles and I'm fascinated by it. I already have the yarn which I bought on impulse at Elann. But I've never knit socks before, so starting something like that is probably a stupid idea. I probably should just bring the mustard cardigan and finish the sleeves (and hope like hell that I don't run out of the yarn--I only have 3 balls left for 2 sleeves and may end up having to unravel an entire sleeve--which will piss me off--and re-knit it at 3/4 length). But socks on two circulars will be easier to pack than a sweater on straight needles, right? right?

I leave you with these freaky food photos to contemplate--there's a whole cult of latte art out there and Flickr has some great photo examples (just insert "latteart", yes, all one word, into the Tags search and you can see them all).
I found the most beautiful cappuccino and its cousin and, below, its slightly freaky mocha cousin. Could you drink this dog?

Mocha poured by Bob
Originally uploaded by tonx.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Yes the world needs another tampon holder.... Posted by Hello

The Interview continued....

Ed and Annie asked to be interviewed, so brave souls, here are the 5 questions I will ask you. I look forward to reading the answers on your blogs, Vacuum and Beading, respectively.

What fiction author would you like to have over for dinner and what would you serve them?

Is there one food that you associate with your childhood and what memory does it trigger?

What is your favorite thing you have written? Is it published somewhere or does it live modestly on your hard drive?

Are you a sweet-tooth or a salt-tooth?

What is the most ambitious meal you ever made?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Interview

I will respond to Lynne's interview questions. If you would like to participate in this blogging phenomenon, follow these simple steps:

1. Leave me a comment saying “interview me.”
2. I will respond by asking you five questions here in my blog. They will be different questions than the ones below--if you are more of a reader or chef than a knitter, don't worry, I won't ask you about your knitting (or whatever).
3. You will update YOUR blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

And here are my answers to Lynne:

If you had to pick just one obsession, which would it be and why?

Hmmm. Reading or cooking? I'm gonna go with reading because the cheater in me says that I could still eat terrific food without having to cook it. I often feel seriously crazy when I don't have a good book to read. Knitting and writing please other parts of my psyche, but I don't think they affect my central sanity.

How do you like blogging so far?

I like it a lot. It seems to be helping me keep in touch with a number of people, near and far, and to feel more connected to the world. As a work-at-home mom, I find the social isolation to be pretty frustrating sometimes and while the blog doesn't replace face-to-face interaction, it sure can make a bad day with the kids more tolerable.

Describe your most favorite thing you ever knit.

It's not the most challenging item, or the most intricate, or the thing that took the longest, or the one made of the nicest yarn. This sweater (with a matching hat not in the picture below) that I knit for Ian when he was still in utero is probably my favorite. Ian could fit the sweater and hat I made for him when he was about 6 months and that was when I first started feeling semi-competent as a mom (at least that is when I stopped thinking maybe I would just take the baby back to the hospital and let people who had a clue take care of him...). Of course, not so competent that I can locate a photo of him in it...the picture below is of Fiona in the sweater. So this one wins the favorite title due to positive feelings whenever I see it.

What character from The Big Lebowski do you most identify with?

Oh, as a Gemini I fluctuate wildly between "The Dude" and Maude modes. Sometimes I'm an elitist, controlling b**** who pronounces "thorough" as "thu-rah" and other times I just want to kick back, mellow out, have a beer and maybe go bowling. On the Lebowski character quiz, I came back as the Dude. At the Lebowski Fest last year, I went as a mish-mash character--Maude's Viking helmet, a bowling shirt, a T-shirt with a subtle "rug" slogan (because it was the rug that really pulled the room together, dude), and green toe-nails a la Bunny Lebowski and the severed toe.

If I supplied you with a ball of cheap cotton, would you be willing to knit a couple of dishcloths for Project Scrubbie?

Nope. If I'm going to do charity knitting it'll be hats for chemo patients. I'm thinking of some hip cotton ones for summer wear for the younger cancer patient set. Ever since a friend had a bone marrow transplant at age 23, I've been aware of this demographic.

Losing my mind and literary gossip

There are days when I feel I am losing my mind and this happens most often when I lose some specific thing. Today it is my cell phone that is lost; unfortunately I turned the damn thing off before I lost it so I can't even call the number and follow the ring. It is also small, shiny and silver, so there is the possibility that one of the magpies absconded with it; perhaps Thomas the Tank Engine is towing the phone around his track as I write this. The positive side of losing it is that while tearing the house apart looking for the phone, I found an audio tape that I lost the week before....which begs the question, what will I have to lose next in order to re-locate the cell phone while searching for the next lost thing? Now does it make sense that I'm tearing my hair out?

On a more positive subject, I was thrilled to recieve a little literary gossip from friend, Annie. She told me that one of my favorite authors, Rosina Lippi, whose book Homestead is on my top 10 list, also writes under the pen name Sara Donati and has a book called Into the Wilderness that I need to read. And then she mentioned that Lippi lived here in Ann Arbor for over 5 years (she has since absconded to the Pacific Northwest) and had an office in the MLB! Why does it give me such a thrill to hear that she once lived here when I hadn't read anything of hers at the time? Don't quite know, but it does.

Writer Valerie Laken was at the decadent dinner at Ami and John's house the other day and she has sold her first novel--quite a thrill to meet someone in the process of becoming a literary presence! If you want to read one of her short stories, the one called Family Planning is available on-line here. It was published in the Volume XXVII of the Missouri Review where it won a prize. That issue happens to also feature a terrific story Why People Say Two Thousand by my friend Mary Jean Babic and is where I discovered my favorite poet, Jude Nutter. Here is a link to Nutter's poem "Paramedics" and another link to "The Last Supper."

Anyway, the point of this literary rambling is not just to shove in front of people the stuff I like to read, though, of course, it would please me if everyone did read the authors I like. Valerie mentioned that one of the tiresome things about folks hearing that you sold your novel is that they are always starting conversations with "Is the novel done?" and it makes her want to gnash her teeth. Trying to explain why it isn't finished isn't simple. I can sort of relate to this on a literary level, having sidelined the novel I started writing (loosely based on dancer/actress Valeska Gert) until both kids are in school. I can relate even more on the home construction front. We are going on year 4 with our rebuild of our entryway and office at the front of the house. I just finished the drywall and mudding last weekend, but it makes me feel pretty crazy when people ask me when it will be done, especially people who are used to hiring people to do work for them and don't seem to get that I have maybe 3-4 hours a week when I can be free of kid-crises and go into construction mode. At that rate it takes a damn long time to rebuild anything.

I sound pretty grouchy today so I'll stop this rant and go read to Ian about cells. He is really into human anatomy right now. The only way I can get him to color is if I trace a picture of a liver and then he is willing to color it in....

It was a colorful, fiber-filled dinner last night. I liked the sweet potato in the dal--that was a new one for me. The green beans with garam masala and tomatoes were great and, yes, made with frozen green beans. Thank you again, Mark Bittman, for advocating the use of frozen veggies. The raita was extra creamy and thick because I didn't have plain yogurt in the house, just labna--middle eastern strained yogurt.

Monday, March 21, 2005

culinary repentence

Tonight we're having vegetarian Indian food: A sweet potato and red lentil dal, veggie studded rice and raita. Should help scour out some of the fabulous fats we consumed on Saturday night (see pics in previous post). Also, I have all the ingredients in the house except cilantro and that makes for a quick and easy trip to the store with the two rugrats. We're going out of town for a week starting Friday so I need to do the empty-out-the-fridge-of-all-that-will-rot excercise.

On the knitting front, I'm hoping to finish the back of the mustard cardigan while grading comps today. Then it's just the sleeves to go and the fun part, crocheting the edge with the hand spun, grass green, kid mohair I bought a few years ago at the Fleece Fair.

Writing-wise, maybe I'll have time after I turn in my bundle of comps this week to work on the edits of the Camping Close to Home piece. The editor at the Community Observer sent it back with his edits and a few questions in record time (like an hour or two after I sent it to him) but I haven't had a chance to open the file yet.

Reading--I don't have a lot of time for reading with it being comp season, but there is a William Trevor story in the latest issue of the New Yorker that I'll get to this week and Ami lent me the book Blindness by Jose Saramago. I got to page 10 last night and already it is dense, intense and fascinating. I'm breathing a sigh of relief that this book may engage a neglected part of my brain, because I'm pretty fed up with the other stuff I've been reading. Not sure if I'm going to finish the Smiley Good Faith book or not now.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Oh my belly...

What a dinner, what company, what gluttony, what fun! It started with some fabulous cheeses with fig cake and grapes, moved on to a roasted tomato soup, then a plate of excess--beef tenderloin topped with a mascarpone-horseradish goo, roast asparagus and potato cakes.

Look at that beautiful beef! It was silky smooth.

After breathing for a bit, we decided to skip the salad (capacity was seriously questioned) in order to maintain room for dessert. It was worth the sacrifice (usually salad is one of my favorite courses) because the dessert was wonderful. Last time I made it, I didn't have the creme fraiche which was too bad because this time the blob of slightly sour richness offset the overwhelming chocolaty-ness.

Here we have a group shot, before consumption began....

and here is the individual ramekin of bliss. John took the beautiful food pics.

At the end of the meal, Rodney suggested that we needed to invent, and all be wearing a "gluttony belt" to help lug our sizeable stomachs home.

No doubt today we will try to recover from such excess. Lettuce, alfafa sprouts, maybe a little fruit. Don't think the system can handle much more than that. Unfortunately the old Y closed yesterday and the new one won't open 'till Friday so a good workout is not in the works (must repent! must repent!), but it looks like it may be about 40 degrees outside (though grey grey grey) so a long walk may be possible.