edenfalling: circular blue mosaic depicting stylized waves (ocean mosaic)
I got up at 4:00am EST on Thursday, so as to shower, eat breakfast, finish packing, and set up my apartment before heading outside shortly before 5:00am to wait for my cab. In the event, the cab was about ten minutes late, but I still got to the airport and through security in plenty of time. The flight from Ithaca to Detroit went smoothly, and I made my transfer with several minutes to spare even though they were slow to unpack the plane-side checked bags. (These are bags that would be carry-on items in larger planes, but small jets have small overhead compartments so they basically wrap a tag around your suitcase handle, stash it in the cargo compartment with the actual checked bags, and then hand it back to you at the end of the flight.)

cut for length )

As for my reading: I got through the entirety of C. S. Lewis's The Problem of Pain, which was one of my "I am not entirely sure where I picked this book up, but I should probably read it before donating it" books, and another several sections of Religion in the Japanese Experience: Sources and Interpretations, a textbook composed of various themed excerpts from other works and brief explications thereof.

Lewis is, as always, infuriating because I disagree vehemently with a number of his assumptions, with most of his theology, and with a bunch of his implicit politics... and yet he keeps coming to conclusions about human experience and what a good life should look like that are unnervingly close to my own in some respects. So it's a constant swing between, "yes, exactly, that was beautifully put!" and "but HOW can a reasonably intelligent and well-meaning person be so WRONG?!?!" Some other day I should probably quote one of the passages I thought was most apt, and also take a stab at analyzing one point where I think he went most terribly awry.

(Also science has marched on and Lewis's chapter on animal pain and consciousness is consequently even more awful and wrong-headed than when he wrote it, though I think I would have considered it awful and wrong-headed even decades ago because he's arguing from a foundation of theological assumptions which I utterly fail to share. But that is something where I could point to actual science to prove that he is talking through his hat, whereas the other point is more of a philosophical/ethical thing, and thus less subject to hard proof... though one could probably cite various studies on criminal justice and prison reform which I believe tend more toward my side of the argument than toward his. Hmm. *makes note to look into that* But anyway, I'd want to do more research and marshal my arguments in logical order before venturing into that particular alligator swamp.)

And that is what I have been up to for the past three days. :)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
chicken and vegetables on rice, topped with lemon yogurt, with a bottle of hard cider to the right


I finally made the third Blue Apron dinner tonight, so.

What Blue Apron assumes you have: stove, oven, cutting board, knife, small cooking pot with a functional lid, pan of reasonable size, a zester, several bowls and plates, measuring spoons, measuring cup, a whisk, a baking tray, a cooling rack, olive oil, salt, and black pepper.

What Blue Apron provides: chicken (pre-cut!!!), 1 zucchini, 1 onion, 1 lemon, some parsley, a small packet of whole almonds, a small container of currants, a pat of salted butter, a packet of spice mix (cardamom, cumin, and turmeric), 1/2 cup jasmine rice, and 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt.

The recipe is as follows:

1. Cut onion into thin slices
2. Cut zucchini into quarters (lengthwise) and then into slices
3. Chop parsley and almonds (they can go into the same dish)
4. Zest lemon, then cut into quarters
5. Dump currants into a bowl and squeeze two lemon quarters over them so they can soak in lemon juice for a while

At some point in here, start the rice (the exact time will depend on how efficient you are at cutting and zesting):

1. Dump 1 cup water, the rice packet, and some salt into a small cooking pot
2. Bring to a boil
3. Cover and reduce heat to low
4. Cook ~13 minutes, or until all water is absorbed
5. Transfer ~half the rice to a baking tray and spread into an even layer
6. Set the rest aside in a warm place (I suggest removing it from the pot to avoid sticking)

At some point in the rice-cooking process, you will want to start pre-heating the oven to 475F.

While the rice is cooking, you can start the chicken:

1. Rinse and dry the chicken.
2. In a bowl, mix spice packet, salt, and black pepper
3. Dump the chicken in and mess it around until fully coated
4. Heat olive oil in a pan
5. Add chicken, cook on medium-high for ~7 minutes
6. Put chicken in a dish and set aside in a warm place

At this point you start the vegetables:

1. DO NOT CLEAN THE PAN; YOU WANT THE SPICE AND OIL AND CHICKEN GUNK
2. Add the onion and cook ~7 minutes
3. Once onion is soft, add the zucchini and cook ~7 minutes
4. Once zucchini is cooked, add the parsley, almonds, and chicken
5. Cook 1-2 minutes to mix flavors
6. You can add salt and pepper to taste at any point in this process

While the vegetables are cooking:

1. Drizzle olive oil over the baking tray
2. Bake the rice for ~8 minutes, stirring halfway through
3. Theoretically it should turn lightly brown and crispy
(NOTE: I did not cook the rice this long, because noticeably crunchy rice is kind of texturally gross to me)
4. Set aside to cool for 2-3 minutes
5. Mix into normal rice
6. Add the currants and lemon juice, mix thoroughly

Also while the vegetables are cooking:

1. Mix yogurt, lemon zest, and 1 tsp water in a bowl
2. Squeeze the remaining two lemon quarters into the mixture
3. Whisk everything together
4. Add salt and pepper if you want (I don't think it needs any)

Then you put the rice on a plate, dump some of the chicken and vegetable mix over it, and top everything with a blob of the lemon yogurt. The rice makes two portions, but the chicken-veggie mix makes three, so I guess I will be making some rice (and squirting it with lemon juice?) on Sunday night to go along with the third portion.

I was a little skeptical of the lemon yogurt, both as a general concept and as an accompaniment to this dish in particular, but trust me, you WANT to make and use it. It really pulls the whole meal together!

Also, this time the super-dry hard cider was the correct beverage choice. ;)


[[original Tumblr post, for when the embedded images inevitably break]]
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
rare steak and a vegetable and potato medley on a plate, with a bottle of hard cider to the right


I forgot to take process photos this time, but here is the finished product!

You may notice that I put the salsa verde on the side rather than spreading it over the vegetables and/or the meat. That's because, given how terrible the charred lime from the last recipe ended up being, I wasn't sure the flavors would actually mesh well. But they do, and when I reheat the leftovers I'm totally dumping it over everything. :)

(Note: I chose the wrong hard cider. This meal really needs something fruity, but I grabbed the driest option in my variety pack. Oops.)

This recipe is pretty simple in concept: steak plus roasted vegetables plus a bit of zing. I doubt I'll ever recreate it exactly, but I do like steak an awful lot so attempting a slightly simplified variation is not out of the question.

What Blue Apron assumes you have: an oven, a stove, a baking tray, a frying pan of decent size, paper towels to pat the steaks dry, a cutting board, a good knife, aluminum foil, a whisk, measuring spoons, olive oil, salt, and black pepper.

What Blue Apron provides: 2 steaks, ~1/2lb fingerling potatoes, 3 radishes, a bunch of asparagus, 1 lemon, some garlic cloves, some parsley, and some capers.

The recipe is roughly as follows:

1. Preheat the oven to 450F.
2. Clean and chop all the vegetables.
3. Cut the lemon into quarters.
4. Smash or grate the garlic.
5. Put the potatoes (cut side down) on a baking tray.
6. Cover them with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. (I would advise getting some oil UNDER the potatoes as well, if you want to remove them with any ease.)
7. Bake ~15 minutes. Turn the oven off and set them aside to cool.

While the potatoes are baking:

1. Clean the steaks and pat them dry.
2. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
3. Heat some olive oil in the frying pan.
4. Cook the steaks 3-5 minutes per side, depending on how rare or well done you want the meat.
5. Set the steaks aside on a cutting board and cover them loosely with aluminum foil.
6. Allow them to set for at least 5 minutes.

While the steaks are setting:

1. DO NOT CLEAN THE FRYING PAN; YOU WANT THE STEAK JUICE AND BROWN GUNK.
2. Dump the radishes into the frying pan and cook 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the asparagus and cook 3-4 minutes.
4. You can add more salt and pepper at any point here, if you want.
5. Add ~1/2 of the garlic and cook ~1 minute.
6. Turn off the heat, add the potatoes.
7. Squeeze 2 lemon quarters over the mix. Stir.

While the veggies are cooking:

1. Mix parsley, capers, ~1/2 of the garlic in a bowl.
2. Squeeze the other 2 lemon quarters into the bowl.
3. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil and whisk together slowly.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Once the veggies are done:

1. Cut the steak (crosswise) into slices.
2. Plate and serve.

This time I think it really does serve two. (Well. I probably could have divided it into three portions, but as mentioned above, I am kind of a sucker for steak, so. Two it is!)


[[original Tumblr post, for when the embedded images inevitably break]]
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Picture time!


eight images under the cut )


curry in a bowl, with catfish and a charred lime on top . curry and fish in bowl, with a bottle of hard cider to the right

9. the finished meal (before I ditched the lime)
10. the finished meal plus a drink :)


The things Blue Apron assumes you have are: several plates, paper towels for blotting wet fish, a cutting board, a can opener, a good knife, a zester, a carrot peeler, a measuring cup, a teaspoon (I did not bother to measure my olive oil this carefully), a pan with high sides (or a big pot), a frying pan of decent size, access to clean water, olive oil, salt, and black pepper.

The ingredients Blue Apron provides are: two catfish fillets, ~1lb Yukon Gold potatoes, 1 can (13.5oz) coconut milk, some bok choy, some carrots, some garlic cloves, 1 lime, cilantro (I didn't use this), 3 Tbsp rice flour, 1 lime leaf, 2 Tbsp red curry paste, and 1 Tbsp white sugar.

The curry recipe is as follows:

1. Clean and prep all the vegetables.
2. Zest the lime.
3. Cook potatoes in olive oil for ~15 minutes. (This is a lie. It will take more like 25 minutes.) Season them with salt and pepper at some point in this process.
4. Add the carrots, garlic, and curry paste (to taste). You can add more olive oil if you need to make everything mix well. Cook ~2 minutes.
5. Add the coconut milk, bok choy, sugar, lime leaf, and 1/4 cup water. Cook for another ~15 minutes, maybe less if you like your vegetables fimer.
6. When you have turned off the heat, remove the lime leaf and mix in lime zest instead. Add more salt and pepper if you want.

During the times the curry is cooking, you will be doing two other things! While you soften/brown the potatoes:

1. Cook the two lime halves (cut sides down) in olive oil for ~3 minutes, until charred.
2. Set them aside somewhere until you serve the meal.
3. Clean the frying pan; you will need it again.

While you cook down the coconut milk, etcetera:

1. Clean the catfish and pat it dry.
2. Season both sides of each fillet with salt and pepper.
3. Put the rice flour on a plate.
4. Cover one side of each fillet in flour.
5. Cook the fish (flour side DOWN) in olive oil for ~6 minutes.
6. Flip, then cook another ~3 minutes.

If you time it right, your curry and fish should be done at about the same time. Put the curry in a bowl, drop the fish on top, add a lime, and you are good to go. :)

Blue Apron claims this serves two. I am pretty sure it produces four portions of curry and three portions of fish, but eh, to each their own.


[[original Tumblr post, for when the embedded images inevitably break]]
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
I did not cook yesterday because I felt cruddy by the time I got out of work and mostly just wanted to sleep. But! I feel better today (and have also acquired a zester), so.


Poll #18473 Blue Apron experiment, take #1
This poll is closed.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 7


Which meal should Liz cook for dinner tonight?

View Answers

crispy catfish & spicy vegetable curry (with charred lime)
2 (28.6%)

seared steaks & salsa verde (with fingerling potatoes, asparagus, & radishes)
5 (71.4%)




ETA 8:30pm: Thank you all for your help!

However, as [tumblr.com profile] longroadstonowhere pointed out over on Tumblr, fish is likely to go bad faster than beef, and so should probably be cooked first. On that principle, I am attempting the catfish curry thing. I have read the recipe thoroughly, set out the necessary dishes and whatnot, and chopped all the ingredients. (Also I am going with four garlic cloves rather than two because I like garlic.)

I am now about to turn on the heat and attempt curry. Wish me luck!

-----

ETA, 10:00pm: The recipe as written estimated ~40 minutes cook time. In the event, I turned on the heat for the curry around 8:50pm and finished cooking around 9:45pm, which is about 15 minutes longer than advertised. This is mostly because potatoes always take longer to soften/brown than recipes think they should, and I KNOW this and I am not sure why I forgot. *sigh*

The recipe claims to serve two. I think it produces at least four portions of curry, and three portions of fish. I preemptively discarded the cilantro garnish (I am not one of the people to whom it tastes like soap or soapy mud; I just think it tastes like muddy grass, and why would I want to eat that?), and after attempting a couple bites, I have also discarded the charred lime half because WOW it is bitter and not adding anything useful to the dish since the curry was already cooked with a lime leaf and seasoned with lime zest.

The fish and curry are pretty tasty, though, so all in all? Victory! \o/

(I will post some photos after I finish eating.)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
1. Last-minute apartment cleanup before my parents' visit, i.e., I cleared and organized the piles of stuff that had collected on my coffee table, living room table, and kitchen counters over the past few months, and temporarily stashed some other stuff in my bedroom to free up my armchair for people to sit on. Also I dusted a few shelves, because reasons.

2. Collected trash from wastebaskets and took the combined bag to the trashcan outdoors. I think one more bag and the can will be ready for curbside pickup -- so, maybe early June?

3. Paid my monthly internet bill.

4. Welcomed my parents and Dottie! ♥

more items under the cut )

14. Peeled the moldy layers off my sprouting onion and sprayed the thing with diluted anti-fungal solution. Hopefully this will help more than it hurts. (It did not seem to cause any harm to my pepper seedlings when I sprayed their little peat cylinders back in March, since they'd acquired fungal spores while they sat in storage for a year.)

15. Dumped the resulting gunk and some other compost into the communal bin.

16. Baked brownies for church coffee hour tomorrow morning.

And I think that's about it! It was a very full two days. :)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
1. Photographed my kitchen garden. Did not post photos, because reasons. At this point, I think I will just make a combined two-week post on Monday the 17th.

(Spoiler: a couple of the squash seedlings just shriveled up and died. This is nice since it saves me the trouble of figuring out what to do with them. Now I'm just debating whether my plastic storage tubs are larger enough to support two seedlings per tub, or whether I will have to buy a trowel and a hoe and plant the others in the yard.

...I should buy a trowel and some other tools anyway, since I will have to plant the narcissus bulbs regardless of what I do with the squash. *makes note on Sunday to-do list*)

2. Put away my remaining clean laundry.

3. Worked thirteen hours straight on Monday the 10th, ugh. *wilts*

4. Foolishly agreed to go in to Not the IRS at 8am instead of 9am Thursday morning (district management is getting pushy about extended hours), but because the #13 doesn't run a 7am outbound route, I had to walk a mile into town to catch a #30 bus instead, which meant I had to either get up at 5:30am or forego eating breakfast at home. I chose the latter option, and wound up buying myself a small yogurt, a bottle of lemon-flavored tea, and a donut (plus five more donuts for the office at large, because I'm nice like that and also you get a discount if you buy a half-dozen at a time). That was not the healthiest of choices but at this point in tax season I officially Do Not Care. It has calories and/or caffeine? GIMME.

5. Bought groceries after work. In the process, I acquired two small sample bottles of Ocean Spray 'mocktails' that were included around regular bottles of cranberry-pomegranate juice. I just wanted the juice, which was on a buy-one-get-one sale, but I suppose I will try these 'mocktails' if only for curiosity's sake.

6. Stewardship committee meeting.

7. Failed to make much progress on my remaining request ficlet, because brain-fry, argh.

8. Decided to try outlining/brainstorming my FandomTrumpsHate fic to see if switching projects would grant me a few minutes of clarity. Result: well... I made a bullet-point list of stuff my bidder and I talked about in emails, so I have all that organized in one place? But then I ran out of spoons, so.

...

I think I should go to bed.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Tonight's dinner experiment: cheesy spinach rolls.


three spinach rolls on a plate, one partially eaten, with a human hand for scale



I didn't really use a recipe (I kind of mix-n-matched from four I found online and what I had available in my refrigerator) so I can't give you exact quantities, but this is a bunch of baby spinach leaves ripped up, a small onion chopped somewhat finely, the remnants of my feta cheese crumbles (usually a salad topping), some parmesan cheese (pre-grated), some ricotta, most of an egg, some minced garlic, and some salt and black pepper. The rolls are just generic store-brand crescent rolls, which I smeared with the remnants of the egg and sprinkled a bit more parmesan and salt on top. Baked ~14 minutes at ~375 Fahrenheit.

I used two tubes of crescent rolls, which is sixteen rolls. I did not apportion the filling as evenly as I should have, so some of the first batch were a bit understuffed and some of the second batch correspondingly overstuffed. I also should have used more salt, maybe a bit more pepper, proportionately more feta and less ricotta (except I didn't have more feta on hand, oh well), and either chopped the onion even finer or sauteed it a bit before adding it to the filling mix.

But all in all, they're not half bad. Definitely something I'm going to do again! :)


[[original Tumblr post, for when the embedded images inevitably break]]
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
1. Did not go to church, because the weather was terrible and also it turned out to be a drama/improv program week for the high school kids, which confuses me since I am pretty sure the schedule I was given in December said this was supposed to be a regular week with drama/improv next week. As this is the second time I seem to have been wrong on my dates, I am beginning to suspect that the DRE just straight-up gave me the wrong schedule. I must ask her for the real final program date at tomorrow night's planning meeting, since that's kind of relevant for my Not the IRS availability.

2. Put away the parts of my laundry that were air-drying.

3. Continued tidying my apartment in preparation for company, which included collecting trash from my wastebaskets and taking a bag out to the trashcan.

4. Family visit!

more items under the cut )

...

And now, I think, to bed, because I am very tired.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
One of the tenants of the rental company I work at forgot to cancel their HelloFresh subscription over winter break, and when contacted said the office staff should just make use of the meals instead. So on Saturday, Miss Cactus and I split the three items from that week's box: she took two (zucchini flatbread with stuff on, freekeh soup with sweet potatoes) and I took one (winter veggies and brown rice).

All ingredients except salt, black pepper, and cooking oil are provided. The instructions are basically clear, but this particular recipe really needed one additional line saying something to the effect of, "Start the pan sauce immediately after you put the vegetables in the oven to roast," because as it was, I got the rice and the vegetables to turn out at approximately the same time (the rice ran a little long), but finishing the sauce took me an extra twenty minutes. *headdesk*

As I am not a vegetarian, and wasn't entirely sure how the meal would come out, I also sliced up one chicken thigh and baked it with a balsamic dressing marinade while I was cleaning and prepping the vegetables -- I wanted to make sure I'd have at least one thing I'd enjoy eating. This proved helpful, since chicken tastes fine even cold but the rest of this meal really needs to be hot or the flavors get noticeably unappetizing; I kind of forced myself through the last few bites as it cooled off. (It was definitely tasty when hot, though!)

Other thoughts: 1) This supposedly serves two people; I think it serves three, and portioned accordingly. 2) I do not need to work with fresh herbs ever again. Yeah, they bring more intense flavor, but they are just way too much work to be worth the reward. 3) I totally cheated and did not bother cutting up an entire lemon for two squeezes of lemon juice; this is why I keep a bottle of lemon juice concentrate in my fridge. :D


pictures and some more details under the cut )


[[original Tumblr post, for when the embedded images inevitably break]]

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Elizabeth Culmer

June 2017

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