Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I got nothin' to talk about worth using up space here except for a fantastic new drink that Sarah introduced our book group to: Ouzo and Pink Grapefruit juice. Fan-bloody-tastic.

So go out, get yourself the two ingredients (try and get the kind of ruby red juice that is combined with other juice concentrates rather than high fructose cornsyrup--look in the natural foods section of the market) and some ice cubes and while you are sipping away at your lovely anise-grapefruity combo, I give you a couple of links to blogs that are helping me get through this week of single parenthood--escapism, humor, even a little inspiration for when life gets back to normal.

  • Monster Crochet--her fantastic crocheted T-bone steaks with eyeballs have to be seen to be believed. I wonder if I could knit a T-bone...
  • Pandafix--because in the depths of winter, watching fuzzy bamboo eaters is almost as good as the sun.
  • Nixie Knox the Tatooed Librarian--with a name like that, you really must visit. And she's local.
  • Go Fug Yourself--because laughing at celebrities (even celebrities who you are too unhip to even recognize as celebrities...) can make you feel better about yourself. And how can you resist copy like this in which Katie Holmes is described as "leech on a man-alien, incubator to the Rambaldi baby (or whatever that thing is in there), and altogether pitiable pregnant lady who just makes us all hurt a bit for how miserable she's going to be soon"?
  • Cute Overload--I know, "Cute" and "Kate" rarely occur in the same sentence, but if you are desperate for something to make you smile, try this site.
  • damn funny writing.

For the love of an appliance

Avert your eyes if you can't stand witnessing an excesses of love and joy because I'm about to get all gushy here.

I love my stove. I love love love love love my stove.

No, I don't have a $3000+ professional beast. I have a competent, yet relatively modest, Jenn-air Model JGS8850ADW. It has a gas cooktop and a gas-convection oven.

I am sure that my perception of my stove is influenced by its predecessor, an electric, evil piece of crap I used to call "The Inferno" since it had two settings: Off and Burn. When we finally decided to replace it, we didn't even consider donating such a malicious machine to a place like the Re-Use Center. Instead we got a little therapeutic relief by ripping the damn thing apart and throwing the pieces into the driveway. Seeing an appliance that has tormented you reduced to a pile of debris is really very satisfying.

My latest reason for loving my current stove beyond all reason is this:
See that button at the bottom of the (grubby) control panel in the first full column on the left? The one that says "Bread Proofing"? I used it last night to make this:
perfect, thick creme fraiche.

We keep our house pretty damn cool in the wintertime (daytime setting 61 F, nighttime setting 59 F) and without this nice warm place for the bowl of cream with a tablespoon of buttermilk to sit and fester I would have had watery glop that was decidedly not "fraiched".

Tempting as it is while solo parenting to sit down with a spoon, a bottle of potent alcohol (more Poire William anyone?) and a video of a Jane Austin movie and eat the whole bowl after the kids go to bed, I am actually going to share this glorious stuff with my bookgroup tonight. We read Three Junes by Julia Glass (which, I confess I didn't re-read though I did enjoy it the first time I read it about a year and a half ago) and in honor of the portion of the book set in Scotland, I am making an appetizer/canape sort thingy with smoked salmon, salmon caviar and some of that glorious creme fraiche. I haven't exactly decided what form the completed dish will take, but with three such ingredients, how can it be bad?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Before and after

I am no organization queen. Far from it. But to prepare for the chaos that will be this week of solo parenting (Brian is off in sunny Phoenix again) I decided that I would clean out a few of my kitchen cabinets. Because we all know that if your kitchen cabinets are organized and tidy then you won't lose it and start drinking gin at 3 pm. (Though I'm out of gin after taco night so I'll have to venture into the disorganized booze cabinet and see what else is hiding there.)

This urge to organize in a vain attempt to feel in control of your life reminds me of my friend Lee who decided the night before she was to host a baby shower that had been foisted on her and that she didn't want to host that she simply had to alphabetize all her books rather than clean or cook. And this woman has a lot of books. But you know, the next day when people arrived at her kinda dusty, disheveled house and ate supermarket hummus and crackers she felt a whole lot better about the whole enterprise because all the Margaret Atwood books were together on the shelf. And really, a happy host has a big impact on a party.

Often when I open this cabinet:
something falls on me. Here you see the impressive engineering feat (and you thought Brian was the one with the engineering talent in the family! Ha!) that is my cabinet: teetering packages of crackers, a precariously balanced container of currants and a bunch of stuff on the top shelf that I don't think I've looked at (or for) in a few years.

I also decided to tackle this cabinet:
Tea towers to the right and piles of cans to the left with a few miscellaneous items hiding in the back.

The scariest things that I found were these:
Baby food that expired in 2004....

I also discovered that I had four boxes of baking soda, some green tea I didn't know I owned and don't remember buying and over three pounds of dried apricots--why three pounds? I dunno. I guess every time I went to the store I thought I was out of them and bought some more. What will I do with three pounds of dried apricots? Apricot scones? Other ideas?

Half a day later, this is what the two cabinets look like:
Raisin boxes lined up with almost military precision! Nothing threatening to bonk me on the nose when I open the door!

Oh my, you can actually find what you are looking for in this cabinet. And no scary baby food either.

So this week, when the kids make me cuckoo and I can't stand the chaos that is the rest of my life, I plan to open the doors of these two cabinets and just gaze at the order and (hopefully) remember that life will not always be insane. And if the view doesn't quite do it on its own, I'll try gazing at the cabinets with a vodka tonic in hand.

Ann Arbor Bloggin' News

Just a short post to direct you towards a terrific new blog my friend Deb started called "Blue Pencil: The Uninvited Editor". She re-edits sections of books mostly for the flaws that British authors make when trying to write American characters, but also just grammar goofs in general. The kind of thing that we passionate readers wish more PAID editors would catch before publication. As many of you know, my little sub-specialty in the uninvited editing world is culinary accuracy in fiction. Deb has the British/American idiom thing down pat.

And while this may not be news to you all, it was quite a thrill for me to meet Julie "The Bookworm" while swimming with my kids at the Y this morning. In between wrestling our respective children back into their clothing we were able to talk a little about books and the aesthetics of book printing and how we feel when a badly printed book or crappy cover art turns us off of the book.