edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Food is still very unappetizing. On the one hand, this does make it a lot easier not to eat excessive snacks at work. On the other hand, it's hard to convince myself to eat something nutritious for dinner when nothing sounds appealing and my comfort foods are all terrible carbohydrate things. (Well. I mean. Oatmeal is not terrible, but one cannot live on oatmeal alone -- though adding craisins and milk would probably extend the time limit.) I had to keep adding salt to both lunch and dinner to make them taste vaguely palatable, which is not great as a long-term strategy. (Though apparently low sodium is also a potential side effect of Celexa? Maybe that is why I am craving salt more than I usually do? (And trust me, I already crave salt a lot.))

In contrast to my sudden yen for salt, sugar is dramatically less appealing than usual. I was actually kind of grossed out by a chocolate chip cookie this afternoon, which was disconcerting.

Minor gastrointestinal discomfort, though I'm not sure if that's medication related or ovulation related, since I get minor ghost cramps/discomfort around every second or third ovulation and I'm pretty sure I'm getting my period in approximately two weeks. *wry*

Much less exhausted today, though still more tired than seems reasonable considering I slept nine hours last night.

No discernible effect on concentration/motivation, but I don't really expect anything on that front for another week at least.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
1. Called Vicky Saturday evening and talked about various things for a hour or two.

2. Changed linens.

3. Bought Susan's birthday present. I started by going to the Farmer's Market down at Steamboat Landing, but they didn't have anything that really jumped out at me. So I drove up the west shore of the lake to American Winery and bought her three types of specialty fudge. I am mostly neutral on Americana's wines -- a few each year are pretty good, most are okay, a few are emphatically not to my taste -- but I have never yet disliked any of their fudge varieties, so. I got her Maple Bacon Chocolate, Amaretto Chocolate Swirl, and Dark Chocolate Covered Cherry. :)

more items under the cut )

21. Susan's birthday celebration! We met at the G family house around 7pm, where Cat and I admired Susan's kitten (Abbie, a gray tabby with white socks and a bit of tan around her ankles) and Susan opened our gifts.

Then we went to Yuki Hana, a local sushi place, for dinner. We got three items to share: unagi don, orange dragon rolls, and ume-shiso rolls; before the main course, Susan and I each had miso soup and Cat had the complimentary salad that came with the unagi don. We declined desert, but received a plate with three watermelon slices apparently just because, which was unexpected but tasty. I had to preemptively take a Benadryl because of raw avocado and cucumber, but it was totally worth it. :)

After dinner, we returned to the G family house and chatted for a while before Susan suggested we try some of the fudge I'd gotten her. Rev. and Mrs. G were invited to join in, and the general consensus was that fudge is good. (This is not a terribly controversial conclusion, I feel. *wry*) We enlisted Rev. G to take pictures of the three of us before Cat had to bail (since she needed to get some sleep before driving to Pennsic on Monday), and I am very glad we were able to get together like that. :D

22. Finished the beta draft of "Intervention" (my WIP Big Bang fic) and sent it to beta. \o/

23. Drove back to Ithaca. I should mention at this point that on both the drive down and the drive up, I was listening to a lecture series on tape: The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes, by Prof. Kenneth W. Harl of Tulane, which is part of the Great Courses series. There are 36 lectures in total, two per CD, and I have gotten through 17 of them. (I started on lecture 3, since Mom and I listened to some of them on a previous car trip and while I couldn't remember exactly where we left off, I knew it was past the first CD.)

I don't know why I never tried listening to nonfiction audiobooks or audio lectures on car trips before. (I specify nonfiction because I find fiction audiobooks intensely distracting; the voices never quite match what's in my head, and also the pacing tends to be indefinably wrong.) But listening to lectures while driving uses one problem to solve another in the most beautiful way. First, the lectures help me stay alert and focused on the road in a way that I otherwise find difficult -- caffeine is not infallible, and music gets samey after a while -- because I have to be paying attention to what the lecturer is saying, and relating it to previous lectures and my own general understanding of world history. Second, driving is a visual/kinesthetic task that eats up enough of my concentration that I actually CAN pay attention to the audio input, which is something I otherwise find nearly impossible and have had to resort to sewing projects or coloring books in order to listen to occasional podcasts that I decided were important enough to make the effort.

Anyway, I think I can get at least one more round trip to NJ and back out of this lecture series -- and then probably down to NJ again -- but after that I need to look into my local library's audio offerings, because I didn't get drifty even once on this trip, and I promise you it's not because I'd gotten any more sleep than usual. *wry*

...

And that is that, and I really have to remember to make these posts more often because covering ten days at once is ridiculous.
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 left



Tonight I attempted to reconstruct one of the Blue Apron recipes -- the Persian-style chicken with rice -- to... moderate success? It tastes all right, though I think I know some things that would make it better if I try again later this year.

Anyway, I wanted to try this both as a way to use the first two summer squash from my porch garden, and as an experiment to see if I even could approximate the recipe. So I bought some turmeric and cardamom, acquired some dried currants and some roasted almonds, and kind of winged it.

I cut out some of the fancy steps -- zesting an actual lemon to make the lemon yogurt topping, baking some of the rice -- because I don't like baked rice to start with and there is a reason I bought a small bottle of lemon juice concentrate a while back: namely, "I don't have the time or patience to deal with freaking lemons when all I need is some lemon juice." I roughly doubled the quantities of onion and squash (and of course substituted yellow squash for zucchini), and both substituted chicken thighs for chicken breasts and increased the quantity of meat, though not as much as I increased the vegetables. Also I used plain medium-grain white rice instead of jasmine rice, because that's what I had on hand.

I completely guessed on the proportions and amounts of the spices to use for coating the chicken, but I think I came pretty close. (Mostly I went by the smell and color of the blend.) I think if I were doing this again, I'd use slightly less onion (proportionately) and also use six chicken thighs instead of just four -- the vegetables ended up drowning out the chicken a bit, which is not terrible from a nutritional standpoint but does affect the overall flavor. I also had to add spices to the veggies as they cooked, twice, because there wasn't enough spice gloop left over in the pan when the chicken was done cooking. While that definitely helped, I think that A) more chicken and B) even more spice would have been better.

All flavor issues aside, I wound up with SO MUCH of the chicken-veggie mix. SO MUCH. I will be eating it for a WEEK. (This is not a bad thing!) One cup of rice only got me maybe three to three-and-a-half portions there, but rice shouldn't be kept indefinitely as leftovers to start with, not to mention that it's a lot easier to make a new batch of rice (plus currants soaked in lemon juice) than it is to make the chicken-veggie mix, so I am okay with that wild mismatch.


[[original Tumblr post, for when the embedded images inevitably break]]
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
1. Cut my fingernails and toenails.

2. Paid my credit card bills (and reconciled my credit statements).

3. Took kitchen compost to the communal bin.

4. Collected trash and took bag to the outdoor bin.

5. And then my parents visited! This was a business visit more than a family-time visit, but even so.

They arrived around noon, whereupon we had Chinese takeout for lunch. Then we drove over to Seneca Lake via a stop just north of Trumansburg to look around a farm to which I... may, kinda-sorta, have a pass to do a u-pick option on one afternoon and/or just collect one bag of produce? I am not sure of the details; the person who arranged it was unclear when she handed me the card, and there were no staff visible at the farm itself and I would have felt weird just stuffing random vegetables in a bag without giving anyone advance notice. But I got a phone number so I will try to call and see what's going on sometime later this week or next week.

Anyway, we continued on to Seneca Lake and stopped at three wineries -- Penguin Bay (which we all liked very much); Red Newt Cellars (which is VERY EXPENSIVE, and where Mom bought four wine glasses to replace my Aunt Cara's old set, which have broken over the years); and Chateau LaFayette Reneau (which we liked, but not as much as Penguin Bay) -- before heading back to Ithaca.

We went straight to dinner at Luna: Inspired Street Food, which is possibly the most hipster restaurant I have ever eaten at. I mean, the food is good! But so hipster. I had the pork belly bao bun, Mom got the fried chicken bao bun, and Dad got the half-portion of bacon smoked gouda mac & cheese. For reference, all the bao are deconstructed.

After eating, we drove back to my house, fed Dottie, and made sure we had all the recycling sale donations in the minivan, leaving the Camry with only the book sale donations (which I will drop off another day). We cruelly abandoned Dottie yet again and drove back to almost the exact place we'd just left, whereupon we unloaded all the donations. Dad and I got a bunch of them to the correct sale rooms, while Mom got one of the organizers to sign her charitable giving record sheets.

Then we came back to my house again so they could pack up their stuff and hit the road, which they did shortly before 7pm -- leaving me with the Camry, which I believe I will retain custody of until Thanksgiving. That will make my life logistically simpler in several ways. :)

6. Posted my weekly gardening report and accompanying photos.

And now I think it is time for bed, since I have to be at work tomorrow by 9am. *wry*
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. :)

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Elizabeth Culmer

October 2017

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