Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunday Night Recipe: Race Day Fried Chicken

As mentioned in last year's potato salad post, members of my mom's family need a darn good reason for missing Race Day.

Of course, with food like this, it's hard to see why you'd want to.

Race Day Fried Chicken

30 pounds of chicken, cleaned and prepared for frying
13 cups white flour
3/4 c. each celery salt, garlic salt and onion salt
3 T. black pepper

Bread the chicken in the flour and spices and pan fry (if you can't figure that part out, you're in "Gentlemen, this is a football" territory). Drain on paper towels and serve hot. For a low sodium version, use powders instead of salts. I recommend you cook with two spatulas: One for fryin' and one for smackin' knuckles. It's that good. Enjoy!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Oy.

You know how if you cut something completely out of your diet, it becomes hard to digest? Like I haven't eaten bacon (real bacon)* since, I dunno, high school, but the salad I ordered for lunch had bacon on it and I was hungry and I didn't have the time or the money to get something else, so I just chowed down. And it was delicious! It really was.

Unfortunately, my stomach doesn't seem to agree with that assessment, and has taken it upon itself to make its displeasure known. So I get to spend the rest of the day sitting hunched over at my desk, making "blurg" noises under my breath and hoping dinner goes down easier. I have some grapefruit that I think might settle things a little (good Lord but I do love grapefruit), but from now on I think I'll stick to fakin' bacon. It just seems like the safer, more comfortable thing to do.




*My rule: I don't eat anything that eats what I wouldn't eat. Grass and other provender is excepted.

Chamomile this ain't.

Last September, I joined with my fellow slavering masses fed-up regular folks and marched the heck out of Washington, D.C.

This coming September, I plan to do it again. Wanna come with? We can split the cost of gas.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Vamanos, muchachos!

I wish there was still a Pony Express because then I would join and I would get to ride a pony and I would name him Sparkles and he would kick ass. I'll have to settle for sparkle nail polish instead.

This morning when I got to work, I pulled into my parking space right on the four-count at the end of "Sister Golden Hair" by America. I even sped through the parking lot so I didn't miss it.

Fringe is over for the season, and now I know how people felt the first time they saw "The Empire Strikes Back." How can that be the end? The bad guys have the upper hand! That can't be the end! And now I have to wait 'til September before I, and all the other hapless suckers, can find out what happens next. Somewhere J.J. Abrams is rolling around on a big pile of money and laughing his face off.

Overtime last week, overtime this week, and all because we're so overworked that it would probably be cheaper if they just hired another person to round out the team. But no, that would make sense. Oh well. More money for me.

Brigid has wild asparagus growing at her place, all up her yard's business, and I am seething with jealousy. I loves me some asparagus. All I gots in the way of weeds is, well, weeds. (Call me when you're in town, Brig! We'll do coffee!)

The Koreas are close to shooting at each other (again); there are massive new tax hikes and what-not in the pipe, thanks to a multitude of factors; Obama can't tell his ass from his elbow and gets his foreign policy from a French-to-Hungarian traveler's phrasebook; and food prices are going up while oil goes down, and your guess is as good as mine where the stock market is going. All of which to say that I think I'm going to have spaghetti for dinner tonight, because it's been a while and I'm jonesing for it. The rest of the world can go pound sand. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof, and all that.

I'm taking my bike out after work today. Weather like we're having, it would be a crime not to. Onward!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Night Recipe: Toasty Tuna Sandwiches

The following is a little something I threw together last night, the result of a week's accumulated prepared foodstuffs. In other words, a "what can I make with what I've got?" meal. Totally tasty, though.

Toasty Tuna Sandwiches

First off, make tuna salad. My consists of:

2 cans tuna in water
2 T. mayonnaise (I made my own)
six or eight black olives, minced
1 small carrot, grated
1 med. stalk of celery, minced
1 T. dried onion
1 hard-boiled egg, chilled and chopped fine

Mix all ingredients and chill overnight in an air-tight container. If you don't have time to chill, use regular onion -- the dried stuff won't have time to rehydrate and you'll get unpleasant crunchy bits in the finished product. This makes enough for three servings.

For the toasty part of things, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two thin slices of bread (I used this recipe), top with thiiiiiin-sliced cheddar cheese and toast on a sheet pan for five minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven, cover with one-third of the tuna salad (that's 1/3 salad = 2 slices toast), top with sliced black olives and return to oven for another five minutes or until warmed through. Serve open-faced and immediately. Enjoy!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Priorities, priorities ...

Wednesday and yesterday I put in an hour of overtime each evening, and tonight I'll do at least as much before I go home. Tomorrow, I'll be in at 7 a.m. for another five hours, mostly so I can get ahead of the rush for next week. I believe it's important to stay on top of one's work, even if that means putting in a little extra time. But mostly it's because that extra time comes in at time-and-a-half.

Money makes the world go 'round.

It goes well with my future plans, actually.

Courtesy of the gentle lord of Wondermark Manor (that would be David Malki !, and yes the exclamation point is part of his name), I have a new potential epitataph to add to my collection.

For the record it's the second one.

And also for the record, I'm truly not a morbid person, nor am I suicidal. Please don't worry on that count. I'm not seeking death; I'm seeking the kind of life likely to result in an interesting epitaph. (I'd explain my views on death and the afterlife, but I would need a whiteboard, three colors of marker, a straightedge and at least 45 minutes of your time. The presentation would be two parts physics, one part motivational speech, three parts theology and one part birthday cake, because everyone needs more cake.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

There's a dent in my desk the shape of my forehead.

So Project A was supposed to start two days before Project B, which would mean I and my partner would have plenty of time to work on both. Then P. A D-day rolls around, and nothing happens -- turns out they pushed it back two days, and no one told us. Hence, Project A and Project B started at the same time, instead of being offset. Double workload, but whatever. I can deal. Although I found out through a third party that the schedule had changed, which worried me.

Today, per my supervisor's instructions, I spent all my time on Project A because OMG IT'S HUGE AND EVERYTHING ELSE IS ON HOLD. Project B, then, languished in project purgatory until about 2:30 this afternoon ...

... when we found out that Project A, originally due Friday, is in fact due some time next week. This schedule change happened at the same time as the first one. Project B, however, is still due Friday and is nowhere near done.

I would have a much, much, much easier time dealing with this if I hadn't had this conversation during the meeting when this all came out:

Supervisor: "Project A isn't due 'til next week!"

Me: "Really? I never got a schedule change."

Supervisor: "Yes you did!" (With tonal implications that I am responsible for her failure to communicate, and a liar to boot. Rinse and repeat.)

I don't like being called and treated like a liar. I don't like getting group e-mails that say "If you think you are doing X incorrectly, come and see me", where X is a hugely important part of our workflow and a simple "here is an example of a correctly filled-out form" would set everyone straight. No, it's "everyone figure out what I'm supposed to tell them, and if you don't guess right I'll treat you like an idiot and a liar." I am so

[expletive]

sick.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

True dat.

The worst thing about censorship is [redacted].

(Stolen from a post a The Big Guy's place.)

Advice bleg

I think I'm getting eye strain or something -- I'm all blinky and things get bleary sometimes, and I'm headachy and I don't like looking at bright lights and screens. Also my eyes are bloodshot. I don't wear glasses (never have) and I usually don't have any trouble with my vision. Thoughts? Remedies? Bueller?

Eh. It's a living.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of my current position, job-wise. I don't know whether to celebrate or console myself. Either way, I'm tempted to drink myself stupid.

It's been an interesting year in that I'm in a different apartment and wearing much smaller clothes than I was last May, plus I've got a very different perspective on life and a decent chance of finishing a writing project. (This is especially good news for all those half-finished projects waiting in the wings.) I can also pinpoint the start of my coffee addiction to May 18, 2009. (It was a Monday. I wore a blue jacket.)

I'm honestly not complaining; all moans and groans should be taken as half-jokes and sarcasm. I have a job. In the current climate, this is huge. I'm a drone at a desk in a cube in an office who was hired to do scut work for a foreign corporation (damn Canucks), but I have a decent biweekly income and benefits and that's more than a good 15 to 20 percent of the population at large right now. I'm not taking anything for granted. I am damn grateful.

I also have a new bag of animal crackers in my drawer. When I get yelled at by salespeople for finding their mistakes, I can take comfort in the little parade of hippos marching across my desk. Passive-aggressive management? Pffft. Look at the camels! They're having a party! Plus it also helps that I have absolutely no intention of staying here any longer than I absolutely have to. And if that means I have to keep eating rice and beans while I save my money, so be it. I've got a little bit of breathing room right now. I can deal. "Drone in a cube" is what I do, not what I am. And if I hadn't had this job, I don't think I would have realized that and figured out what I really want in life.

So: One year down. Let's see what the next brings, shall we?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cosmetic concerns

Quick protip: Next time you buy nail polish, find where they have the tiny bottles of the cheap-o stuff for $0.98 each and pick out the closest possible match. Stash it in your purse or your desk at work for quick touch-ups. It looks better than filling in the chips with a marker.

Any survival kit or bug-out bag I build will contain at least one bottle of nail polish. The reasons are A) morale and B) chiggers. Plus it's good for marking metal objects, so you don't have to worry about somebody else hoarking your colander. I think it's important to think these things through ahead of time, don't you?

Sunday Night Recipe: White Bread Plus

Another JoC '64 classic. I've been making my own bread for a while now, and this is one of my favorites.

White Bread Plus

Mix 1 T. active dry yeast (I use the stuff labeled for bread machine use) and 1 T. sugar in a bowl, then add 1/2 c. water heated to 125 degrees. Mix and let stand for 10 minutes.

While that stands, whisk together

1 egg (preferably room temperature)
1/2 T. salt
1/2 c. sugar
2 c. lukewarm water
1/2 c. melted shortening (add at the very last minute)

After 10 minutes, the yeast mixture should look like a big, foamy, brown sponge covered in bubbles that smell like bread when they pop. [Note: If all you've got is a bowl of flat brown water with a couple bubbles at the edges, either the water was too cold and you didn't activate the yeast, or the water was too hot and you killed it. Either way, you need to try again. Do not try to move on with the recipe; it will not work.]

Mix the wet ingredients with the yeast (be careful that they aren't cold to the touch), then add the whole thing to

8 c. sifted flour

and mix until if forms a dough. Turn out on a floured board, knead just until it comes together, then cover with the bowl and let stand for 15 minutes to proof. Follow with vigorous kneading, adding flour as necessary, for at least 20 minutes (longer if your arms can stand it). Drizzle a little oil (no more than a teaspoon or two) in the bottom of the mixing bowl. Coat the dough by turning it over a few times in the oil, then cover the bowl with a damp towel and set in a warm place for about an hour. The oven works well. If you have gas, the pilot light will provide adequate warmth. If you have electric (like me), set the oven to 150 degrees for 60-90 seconds before putting the dough in to rise. Leave it for about an hour or until doubled, whichever comes first.

When the dough has doubled, flour your hand and punch a hole into the center of the dough. Carefully pull it away from the sides of the bowl and turn it out onto a floured board for another kneading session -- five minutes should do it. Cover and proof again for 10 minutes while you grease three 5x9" loaf pans. Cut the dough into three even pieces and shape. I like to form rectangles the length of the pans, then roll them into logs; there's no rule about how you shape the loaves as long as they're even. Place the pans back in the warm oven for a second rising.

When doubled, remove the pans and set the oven to 400 degrees. When preheated, bake the bread for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 375 and bake for 25 minutes. Test for doneness by removing a loaf from its pan and tapping the bottom; it should sound hollow and have a fair amount of give, but should still feel done. Remove immediately from the pans and cool on a wire rack. Be very careful if you slice it warm; this recipe has a soft, tender crumb and is likely to fall apart if it's still steaming. I'd chance it, though; slap some soft butter on that sucker and it's a little slice of heaven. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Whew.

So tomorrow is Friday which means I get to wear jeans to work, except I only have one pair of jeans right now and they don't really fit (they're too big! yay!) so I'm going to feel like a hobo, but I'll wear them anyway because it's Friday and that means jeans.

And the two-part super-duper season finale of Fringe starts tonight and ends next Thursday, after which there won't be any more new until September, which is surely a frustrating development because It's Just That Kind Of Show.

And speaking of jeans I will do a little shopping tomorrow because I get paid and I finally have a little breathing room after I pay all the bills and buy food and put gas in my car (and thank God the price is going down a little) so next Friday I will be able to wear new jeans that fit and don't look so saggy-baggy. (Again: rather too big than too small!)

And I sorta feel bad that I haven't said anything about the state of the world lately, because that's kind of always been my thing, but the fact is that I don't have anything to say that hasn't already been said and been said better, or that wouldn't get me sent to sit at the crazy table with all the other nonsense talkers, so I mostly just keep it to myself. But I do think we are living in some Interesting Times.

I will say that I don't plan on getting a 30-year mortgage (although I've said that already) because I may not be the world's best bluffer but I know a losing hand when I see one. But right now I'm vacillating between a cabin in the woods and a cabin on a freight ship, which choice will be influenced in large part by whether the ship would let me bring my cat. I'm guessing they would, but that's based solely on my childhood recollection of the tale of Dick Whittington. In any case I want to arrange it so I can see at least some part of the world that isn't on this continent. I kind of hope I can get to fight off pirates.

And that goal is largely influenced by the comments of my coworker, who (while very nice) is obviously very shy of anything outside her Known Zone. She didn't even like the idea of trying bison steak. I told her I would rather die from bison steak than from sitting on the couch eating Twinkies. I think she thinks I'm an eccentric. (I always just thought of myself as a massive nerd.)

And speaking of nerds, I'm working out a visit to the Fishers Renn Faire this fall. I plan to curl my hair, carry a blue diary and talk about spoilers a lot.

And can you tell they put chocolate in the office candy jar this afternoon? Because I am buzzed.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Brick in the wall, cog in the machine, you tell me the difference.

Today I'm at work grinding my teeth because

A) the woman to my left came in saying, and this is a direct quote, "I hate all those people on the other side [of our office] because they think they're better than everyone because Mommy and Daddy have money." Near as I can gather, someone on our floor cut her off in traffic.

B) The girl to my rear laughs like a third-grader who just told the "fleas can't have dogs" joke for the fiftieth time, and doesn't think it's any less funny. And if you told her they painted "gullible" on the ceiling, she'd look.

C) The girl two cubes to my right and the woman two cubes to my left are both fat white trash. I'm not saying that to be mean; it's just a fact.

D) Everyone is complaining about how much work we have to do and how we'll never get it done, but if they'd shut up and just get started they'd have plenty of time. I know, because I don't waste time complaining and I'm on schedule.

And that's my rant for the day. Ta da!

UPDATE: Seriously: I'm stretching four hours of work into eight, here, just so I don't go crazy. Send down thirty feet of rope!

Oh. Oh dear.

ThinkGeek has a kitchen wares section. Titanium sporks*! Ice cube trays shaped like pi! A talking TARDIS cookie jar! Oh, the possibilities ... Who needs that pesky "simplification" policy, anyway? >:D





*Insert your own "Lord of the Beans" joke here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Yay for useful skills!

Today for lunch I have a tuna salad sandwich featuring homemade mayonnaise and a homemade crusty roll. Tonight for supper I'm having leftover garlic fried rice, also homemade, and probably some sort of ... vegetable ... something. For someone who can barely afford groceries, I think I'm eating pretty well.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Sunday Night Recipe: Oven Fried Chicken

Made this a couple weeks ago, thanks to Joy of Cooking '64. A little time-consuming, but worth the wait. The recipe was for a whole chicken; I scaled it down to a cooking-for-one version. Simply adjust the proportions to suit your needs.

Oven-Fried Chicken

First off, soak two chicken drumsticks in a salt brine for at least half an hour. This will draw out any residual blood in the meat and any exposed bone marrow (which is gross, but kind of fascinating at the same time). Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and melt 2 T. butter in a cast iron skillet. Put 2/3 c. flour in a large, sealable container and season to taste -- I used salt with ground black and cayenne pepper. When the oven is heated and the butter is melted, drain the drumsticks and toss in the flour until well coated. Place skin side-down in the skillet, baste with butter and return to the oven. After 20-30 minutes, turn oven to 350 degrees and cook skin-side up for 30-35 minutes. Baste with the melted butter several times during cooking. If it doesn't fall right off the bone, contact me and I will eat my hat. Enjoy!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Chemicals and AWESOME.

Seen on a greeting card: "I'd tell those healthy organic types to kiss my ass, but my ass probably has chemicals on it."

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Misc.

-- Boss Lady says we can't put up reference materials on our cube walls becase our CEO wants us to be a paperless office. I don't think that's what BOSS MAN was referring to, but whatever.

-- Of course, according to the "everyone in Montreal is getting laid off" conference call yesterday, she should have called us a paperless "Center of Excellence". (Not joking, Boss Man used that term four times in 15 minutes. Classic "interface through new paradigms" bull. This is why I want a cabin in the woods.)

-- I had a peanut butter and chocolate chip sandwich for lunch. It was everything I ever wanted. I regret nothing.

-- I feel obliged to mention that I also ate a triple fistful of raw veggies.

-- Trying to read Potok while the women next to you talk about hairdressers and cute outfits is pretty much impossible. It's like trying to wear certain colors together: Only a few people can pull it off, and you're probably not one of them.

-- Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican St. Patrick's Day, in that the U.S. adopted it solely as a excuse to get blind drunk in the middle of the week.

-- You know how some women are uncomfortable if the month has an R in it? I'm the other way around. May through August is Sleep On Top Of The Covers Season, also known as Humidity Is Just Moisture So Why The Heck Am I So Itchy Time. This is why I want a cabin in the north woods.

-- Call your grandparents. They miss you. You'll be glad you did. *waves excitedly in the direction of Oklahoma*

-- I've gone all week thinking it was a day ahead of what it actually was. I keep having to remind myself that today is Thursday, not Friday. Curse you, skewed time perception!

-- I think I need a new color of toenail polish. I'm getting bored with red.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Coffee and an egg sandwich with a side of FAIL.

I was making breakfast this morning and I think I tripped a breaker in the kitchen. I had the toaster, the microwave and the hot pot (electric kettle) all going at once, which is not a big deal and I'm pretty sure I've done it lots of times before. I say "pretty sure" because, while I use all three appliances pretty much every morning, I can't guarantee that they've all been running simultaneously for more than a few seconds at a time. But for some reason, this morning they all shut off at once. Everything was far enough done that I was able to salvage the meal, but the incident gives me pause. The sink and range lights still worked and so did the stove, but all the outlets were kaput.

The fuse box is in the main house so I couldn't check it; otherwise I would have had things back on in a jiffy. (If it was, indeed, a tripped breaker.) Flip a switch, we're back in business. I've handled this before at previous residences. But what confuses me is that all the outlets were gone while the rest of the kitchen was functioning as per usual. Is that a normal configuration? Somebody put me some knowledge here. I barely know which is the "don't touch" end of a solder gun, myself.

UPDATE: Found the fuse box, flipped a switch, was immediately back in business. Apparently it's "toaster, microwave, hot pot -- pick any two."

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

No recipe this week

... just 'cause, I suppose. Back to your regularly scheduled programming on Sunday. (Who am I kidding, Monday morning.)

I'm over the hump

or

I intend to die skydiving.

Today is the day I would normally pay close to $100 to the company that owns my (former) storage unit. This month (and all months following), that money will stay in my pocket, to be spent how I wish. Another $100/month bill will be paid in full by this time next month, as well, with a third following close behind. So I'm finally getting to the place where I can afford to actually, you know, live a little. Build up my savings, get some new clothes (that actually fit), get some decent food, maybe see a movie. Plus it'll be nice to not feel like such a hopeless mooch when I go out with friends.

I've also decided that my tentative 10-year plan consists of working steadily, saving my money and buying a nice chunk of land out west somewhere so I can build a cabin in the woods and be a happy recluse, writing novels in the woods. I refuse to make any more purchases on credit, let alone sign up for a 30-year mortgage on some box in the suburbs. I don't want 2.5 kids and an SUV, nor do I want the lifestyle that metaphor implies. (Not that I don't want kids, just that I don't want to be a soccer mom. Plus pregnancy will be crazy dangerous at best.) Some women are happy with a house and a husband and all that, and I say more power to 'em. But I don't think it's the life for me. I know this because once at a bible study, two women ages 35-40 were lamenting that in a few years, they'd have to cut their hair short. I didn't say anything because technically I was eavesdropping, but what I wanted to ask was, "Why? You obviously don't want to."

What I'm trying to get at is that the upheavals I've experienced over the last couple years have helped me define what I really want in life, and what I really want is to live, not just slide through like a cow in a slaughterhouse chute. I know so many people -- very near and dear people, too -- who live their lives in the past, defined by what's already happened and what's happened to them (and it's always stuff that "happens to them", too). I don't want to do that anymore. Childhood trauma? Everybody has childhood trauma. I'm not going to let it ruin my day. Physical injury? Well, it's gonna take longer than usual to get things done. But that's not an excuse to not do them. Dietary restrictions? Seriously, who cares? Like I said in a previous post, I've decided I don't believe in bad luck. Change is change. It's what you do with it that defines how good or bad it is. Life dealt me a bad hand? I asked the dealer for three, and it just got worse? C'est la vie. I'm gonna bluff the @#$% out of that sucker. That's the only way to win.

Plus I'm cute. I've definitely got that going for me.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Doctor Who Review!

Tonight's episode, "Victory of the Daleks", in three words: "Spitfiiiiiiiiiires innnnnnnnnnnnn spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!"

Just roll with it. It's more fun if you don't ask questions.

Bedouin life sucks. The sand gets in everywhere.

Yesterday I went straight from work to the U-Haul place, picked up a van, got the last of my furniture, closed my account at the storage place (Extra Space Storage -- highly recommended), dropped it all off at the Goodwill and went home. With the exception of a couple antique dollhouses still stored at my parents' house, everything I own is in my little apartment -- and that's not a place I can permanently stay. I am now, officially, a nomad.

It feels weird.

I mean it when I say my current home isn't permanent. I'm renting from (someone who might as well be) a family member, and we've both agreed to take things a year at a time. The year rolls over in October; past that, I have no plans. Again: It feels weird.

Seems like 90 percent of girls my age are either married and settled down, engaged and getting ready to settle down, well into their careers and settled down that way, or knocking around like overgrown children and goofing off like they're still in college. I feel like I'm straddling the two lifestyles. I have a steady job and I'm paying my debts and I'm being responsible, but at the same time I'm kind of ... floating. All my previous roots have been pulled up, and I haven't put down new ones yet. And if I'm honest, I almost don't want to -- partly because I'm afraid they'll just get pulled up all over again.

Weird.