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Today Miss Cactus introduced me to the pawpaw (Asimina triloba), the largest native North American fruit. They are apparently one of the rare temperate members of the Annonaceae, or custard apple, family; most of the related species are tropical. She has a pawpaw tree growing wild in her new backyard, and therefore has more fruit than she really knows what to do with right now. (Pawpaws don't keep or transport terribly well.)

The outside of a pawpaw fruit is sort of leathery yellow-green-brown with lots of brown spots. The inside is creamy yellow with huge black seeds, easily removed. The texture is a bit like avocado crossed with banana, ranging from relatively firm to very mooshy/squishy, and the flavor is... hmm... kind of like banana-pear with a hint of lemon, maybe? Or mango-guava-banana? Hard to describe, anyway. It's very sweet and gets cloying rather quickly; one fruit would probably be most people's limit.

It turns out that I am mildly allergic to raw pawpaws, but not terribly so -- a single Benadryl tablet was enough to mitigate the reaction, and I didn't start getting excessive phlegm/throat-closing issues until I'd eaten nearly a whole palm-sized fruit.

I don't particularly need to eat another pawpaw ever again, but I hear they make pretty good ice cream (which I would readily believe) and they can be subbed into almost any recipe in place of banana. Miss Cactus said she used a bunch in a banana bread recipe this week and it turned out well, so. :)
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Exhaustion returned with a vengeance, ugh. I had no motivation or energy through the majority of the day and eventually gave up in favor of a nap around 4pm. I slept for slightly over two hours and could happily have made it a four- or five-hour nap if that wouldn't have utterly mucked up my attempt to reestablish a regular sleep schedule.

I am still very unenthused about food. I had a weird moment around 6:30pm (shortly after getting up from the nap) where I felt like I might faint if I didn't eat something soon while simultaneously feeling vaguely nauseated at the thought of eating. I made myself eat some yogurt and felt better thereafter, to the point where I was able to talk myself into cooking the broccoli I'd had on hand for a couple days and eating an actual dinner. I mean, I didn't finish the dinner -- I put the leftovers away in the fridge for tomorrow -- but I got through about 2/3 of it and it had vegetables (broccoli), protein (steak), and starch (elbow noodles), so I count that a victory. It also didn't taste entirely of nothing, though lunch did taste horribly bland, so maybe there is hope that my taste buds and my brain will fix their currently glitched out connection?

Internal temperature regulation glitches continued, to my displeasure. They were worst between about 1pm and 7pm, but seem to have evened out for now.

I've also had a nagging not-quite-headache lurking around the edges of my skull all day, though that may be unrelated to the medication.
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Tomorrow (Friday) is going to be Cook All The Things day.

If you are feeling charitable and have a moment, poke me sometime in the afternoon (Eastern Daylight Time) to make sure I actually get started on the work?

(By 'all the things' I mean a batch of that fancy Persian chicken and rice thing because I have another squash I need to use up, plus grilled beef and steamed broccoli because reasons, plus maybe some noodles to have on hand as easy starch, plus leftover scraps to package up as meal additives for Dottie. This is going to eat my whole afternoon and evening, most likely, as I am not an efficient cook.)
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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]]
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1. Put away remaining laundry.

2. Took weekly photos of my vegetable garden, but forgot to post them. Ah well, next week!

3. Trimmed some overgrown bushes in my front yard, such that a person can now walk between the house and my car instead of finding the way impassably blocked by greenery. I must attack some other shrubbery this weekend, and possibly drag out my stepladder and give the lilac a thorough pruning.

4. Acquired cardamom and plain Greek yogurt in preparation for an attempt to approximate a Blue Apron recipe.

5. TOOK A NAP.

6. Took compost to bin. (I did this on several days, actually, but I am only going to list it once. Also the compost company finally came to empty the bin, and provided us with a new plastic liner bag which they'd neglected to do that last couple times they swapped bins.)

7. Remembered to bring a new box of tea to work, since my old one had run out.

8. Cleaned bathroom sink and toilet.

9. Called Cat Thursday afternoon and chatted for an hour and a half.

10. Cut my fingernails.

11. Vacuumed my apartment and did a little hand-dusting in awkward corners.

12. Volunteered for my church's recycling sale; I will presumably hear back from the organizers sometime this weekend.

13. Looked up hours of operation/donation for a few places I need to get to over the coming week.

14. Bought groceries (including almonds and dried currants for the previously mentioned recipe approximation attempt).

15. Backed up my computer files.

16. Began sorting my final coffee table storage box, which is full of I don't even know WHAT all kinds of completely unorganized stuff. I am taking a leaf from Cat's book and doing this in 15-minute increments, so I only take out small sections at a time and if I haven't figured out where they should go, I just put them all back in the box when I'm done. So far, I have sorted a handful of stuff into a permanent home in my nice new storage basket, recycled about twice as much, put two items aside to use a couple pieces and then throw out the rest, and set one thing in a place where I can't ignore it so I will finally get around to framing and hanging it properly. (It is a ridiculously twee baby's-first-cross-stitch project of a rearing unicorn that I sewed back when I was... I dunno, 10 maybe? which came with its own super-twee pink plastic frame, but dammit, it's adorable and I will display it with PRIDE.) And I stuck a bunch of other stuff back in the box because I have no clue what to do with it, so.

We shall see how that project continues.

17. Called my parents to discuss trips to and from NJ in August and September, and also to wish them a slightly early Happy Anniversary. As of tomorrow (Saturday 7/29/17) they will have been married for 43 years. ♥

18. Rescheduled a planned phone call with Vicky, because today turned out to be bad for her after all.

19. Posted two mini-ficlet prompt meme fills: How Easy All Can See (Rabadash talks to Ilgamuth about the political implications of courting Shezan) and Queen of the Night (Lucy decides that a queen of Narnia can set her own bedtime). Both went slightly diagonal to the prompts, but I think they turned out all right even if they're not what I meant to write. *wry*

And that is pretty much that for the week. :)
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Three of my squash plants have produced/are producing actualfax squash. This is very exciting! (I suspect I will feel differently later in the summer, since I am already starting to have "oh no, I need to think of something to cook with all of them..." forebodings, but for right now let me revel in the squee, yeah?)

Tan is not fruiting since, as mentioned in my last gardening post, its central stem was destroyed by squirrels before it could set and open more than three or four flowers, and it's currently engaged in regrowing that.


one pale yellow summer squash with a human hand for size reference

1. Sethera - Friday, 21 July 2017


two more images under the cut )


Meanwhile, the Lazarus pepper is not only continuing to grow a very nice bell pepper fruit, its other branch is working up toward flowers. And pepper F1 (of my eighteen grown-new-this-year plants) looks ready to open a bud within the next few days -- a few of the other new peppers are also growing buds, but they're all much smaller and nowhere near ready to open.


one green bell pepper with a human hand for size reference . buds on a pepper plant

4. the Lazarus pepper
5. the Lazarus pepper - new buds!


one more image under the cut )


And now I am going to go mix more eggshells into all the plants' soil, because judging by the growth rate on those squash, they are going to NEED calcium pretty soon. :)

---------------

So today I picked my first two squash. I probably could have let them go another day or two, but whatever. Squash! :D

(I have a plan, but it requires cardamom. I must remember to track some down today or tomorrow...)

two yellow summer squash on a stove with human hand for size reference

7. Sethera and Azer's first squash, ready to cook when I get my act together in a day or two :)


[[original Tumblr post (plants) for when the embedded images inevitably break ; original Tumblr post (squash) for when the embedded images inevitably break]]
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1. Laundry! Washed, dried, air-dried, folded, hung, and put away.

2. Changed linens.

3. Withdrew cash to pay for cab rides to and from the airport.

4. Bought gum for airplane takeoffs and landings.

more items under the cut )

21. Finished packing, aside from a few things I am still using/will use overnight, which I'll add to my suitcase or backpack in the morning.

The plan is to go to bed at 10pm tonight (and take a Benadryl in hopes of knocking myself out) so I will not be completely brain-fried when I get up at 4am in the morning. UGH.

I must remember to light candles to Meteora, Constructa, Constricta, Wayland, and Trilitus, to request good weather, no mechanical troubles with the planes, a smooth and timely flight, no airport delays or complications, and no taxi delays. (My pantheon of travel gods is about 85% a joke with myself. But only 85%. The other 15%... well, that's between me and my superstitions. *wry*)

And now, if you will excuse me, I have to go wash some dishes and clean my teeth.
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Wow, I kind of forgot to make one of these posts for a while, didn't I? I knocked my sleep schedule out of whack midway through and got stuck in a rut where I am a little too brain-fried to be productive and instead spend hours surfing the internet and not getting to bed early enough to fix the sleep debt problem. But I think I may finally have started wrenching myself back into a more useful schedule as of last night. *crosses fingers*

Anyway, stuff!

1. Took my weekly vegetable photos and posted them. Also applied some MiracleGro.

2. Made my weekly Facebook update post.

3. Finished reading Marie Brennan's Within the Sanctuary of Wings (which I enjoyed a lot -- I really do think the Memoirs of Lady Trent series gets better as it goes on, and I'm sad to see it finished) and returned it to the library.

more items under the cut )

15. Finally pinned down a meeting time with the DRE to talk about Youth Group activities this summer and in the 2017-18 year. Unfortunately, because we kept getting distracted and I will be gone for a while, the meeting isn't until July 2, but hey, at least we now have a time and date.

16. Took my trash bin to the curb for pickup.

17. Took recycling bins to the curb for pickup.

And that is that.
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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]]
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1. Cooked the second of my three Blue Apron meals. Details in this post. Took all resulting compost (and compost from previous days) to the communal bin.

2. Boiled two eggs.

3. Deposited a check.

4. Paid my dental bill from my May 15th appointment, which had finally come in the mail.

5. Posted another tiny installment in my Narnia/HP crossover: The Test of Gold, in which Edmund and Ginny take an unusual boat trip.

6. Baked brownies.

7. Walked to Stewart Park on Sunday morning for my church's annual picnic, which is preceded by a brief service composed of a few songs, a volunteer appreciation segment, and a youth bridging ceremony (ie, welcoming middle-schoolers into high school, and graduating seniors into adult life). The day was sunny and bright with a mild breeze, the songs were fun, the bridging speeches were moving, and the food was delicious. :)

I get to Stewart Park via the Renwick Wildwood Bird Sanctuary (which is both more direct and VASTLY more pleasant than the other potential routes), and this year the cottonwoods are all shedding their seeds so thickly that parts of the path looked like they were covered in snow or swathed in a million spiderwebs.

Also three mosquitoes attempted to bite me, but I squished them all and only one got far enough into the biting process to leave an itchy welt.

8. TOOK A NAP.

9. Changed linens.

10. Outlined a fic I may or may not ever get around to writing, but the idea wouldn't stop bugging me until I fed it a little structure, so.

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Elizabeth Culmer

October 2017

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