Wednesday, January 1, 2014

First Fish, Fancy Fish

... or, A Tale of Two Fish...

          A couple winters back, during a particularly tight week between paychecks, I found myself counting pennies and combing my cupboards while I tried to plan out meals that would require the least amount of grocery shopping. For some reason, I fixated my frustrations on a lonely can of pink salmon.

          Fancier than regular old tuna, it wasn't something I'd thought to buy myself. Likely it was one of the many things my Mom had slipped into the bags of random canned goods, grandma's apples, and frozen Thanksgiving left-overs lovingly bestowed upon me at the end of every visit home. (She might not be able to save the world, but, by God, she could feed me!)

          I also had a handful of raw oats, and at least one egg. So I figured that, if nothing else, I could make salmon patties. I could, at least, make salmon patties. Or maybe some sort of salmon salad, with the last of the mayo.

         From that point on, the salmon became a beacon; a shining symbol of dinner possibilities. Things might be hard, but as long as I had that can of salmon, I knew I would eat well. 

          I've never really been a fan of ramen-by-necessity. And something in my stubborn-assed nature seems to delight in making me loose my appetite almost to the point of gagging whenever I try to eat something my brain tells me is perfectly okay food, that my stomach says it doesn't want. Ask me sometime about the texture of eggs.

          And for some reason, I was never hungry for the salmon. I kept pulling it from the shelf and putting it back, finding something, anything else to eat. Maybe it was because of how I had symbolized the salmon, I was afraid that eating it meant I would have hit some sort of rock bottom.

          Things got better after a while, and I eventually forgot about the precious can of salmon.
          Fast forward to last New Year's Eve. I must have been staring into the cupboard again, deliberating what to make for dinner... seeing what looked tastiest that day. 

          I reached in once again and pulled out the can of salmon. It had been sitting there in the back for a while, and I figured I'd better use it up. You know, before it went bad, or something.

          So I made some salmon patties. And they were darn tasty. And then I did something else. I went out and bought another can of salmon. And I put that can in the back of the cupboard, and left it there until New Year's. 

          Because I wanted another symbol. I wanted more holiday things to look forward to, little rituals that were my own, adult, celebrations that had their own meanings. So many of the little things my family did, as a family, had fallen by the wayside for one reason or another.

         Instead, I am building up a little home of my own, with little celebrations of my own.

          So tonight, I bought a new can of salmon, and I pulled the old can from the back of the cupboard. I pulled a few more things out of my cupboard and my refrigerator and I made fancy salmon croquettes with remoulade and sauteed kale and heated up some spiced cider. 

          And damn if I didn't eat good this year.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


I'm usually pretty conscientious about what I put in my mouth, but sometimes you just gotta roll with what you've got.

Case in point:
My general economic rule of thumb is that you can have your pick of two out of three things - cost, convenience, and quality. There are somethings that I will go way out of my way for, just because the quality is worth it.

Today, I was just hungry for something vaguely bread-like.

It didn't hurt that I also had a package of "foot-long" hot dog buns sitting in the refrigerator, just waiting to get used up. They had come home with me as one of those freebies you get at the grocery store when you buy so much of something (cost). Which means it really oughtn't to have come home with me, as I'm trying to up the quality of the stuff I bring home, in general, in order to up my quality of life.

But this isn't about thinking too hard about the amount of preservatives needed in a hot dog bun to keep them living, even in my refrigerator, for a couple weeks.

Instead, I decided to roll with it, and made toast!

I just added some sun-dried tomato olive oil that my roommate had around left over from another cooking project, and...


Honestly, I'm not sure that the lack in cost will make up for it not being an awesome, locally-sourced baguette, but maybe if I toss some fresh diced tomato and balsamic vinegar on top, I won't notice as much.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Let down your hair

I was so excited the day I found out that Rapunzel was a real food. It was like finding Cinderella's shoe. It was almost as good as visiting Laura Ingall's cabin.

I decided right then and there that it was on the list for my non-existent someday-maybe garden. You know, when I have the time/space/green thumb. I wanted to know what Rapunzel tasted like. And secretly I wanted to know what adventures would come creeping over the wall after it.

Cut to a couple days ago when a friend alerted me that she had bought Ramps (aka Rampion, aka RAPUNZEL!!!) at the Co-op and was going to saute them with spinach. I'm pretty sure my response involved a happy dance and squeeing. And then there was a run to the Co-op for my own 'ramps', and some kale. Saute, add a little salt ... et Voila!

This color palette begs to be turned into something delicious.

I feel like a princess. 

They smell like onions, with out the tears. They taste a little like onions, too, but with out the sharpness. 

I'm going back for another bunch tomorrow... maybe I can get the bulbs to sprout?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Let them eat Bread!

A couple a' confessions...

1) I'm a wee bit crazy. (If I had money, I could even be eccentric!)
2) Among other things, I like to bake. It's kinda the thing I do as a hobby.

Personally, I think I'm pretty good at it, but, you know, there's just not enough hours in the day to perfect my pie crust rolling technique. My friends and loved ones seem perfectly happy to help eat things, so I must be doing something right.

Any how, a couple nights ago I started up a batch of bread, specifically for the making of sandwiches. As most of the bread recipes I've garnered so far have been complex formulas of varying densities and artisan-itude (pretty sure that's not actually a word), I went searching the web for a sandwich bread with few ingredients.

Lo and behold, The Hungry Mouse's Homemade Sandwich Bread! (Or at least the loaf I made using this recipe.)

I mixed it up (sans mixer) and after an hour I was a little less than impressed with the amount that it had expanded. However, when I kneaded it a bit and then let it sit overnight in the bread pan, it rose quite well into a respectable loaf. And it baked up nicely; light and chewy in the middle with a decent crust that wasn't too crispy. Excellent tooth. (Though I may need to knead it a bit more next time, help it from being quite so crumbly?)

What I wasn't expecting was the slightly sour and rather salty taste... I had used the usual active dry yeast, but this was almost a sour dough! Not having previously been a huge fan of sour dough, it took a sec to get over, but it proved to make a quite tasty grilled cheese sandwich! As well as very enjoyable cinnamon toast.

And since I am crazy (see point #1), I have decided that I should try to use this recipe with 'wild yeast'. Or rather, mixing flour and water in a bowl and leaving it out on the counter for a few days. (Apparently whole wheat and/or spelt works best?) This mixture is supposed to entice any wild yeast beasties that may happen to be lurking about to come join them in the bread making fun. As I haven't been baking bread much in my own kitchen, I may have to leave the bowl out whilst making bread with the active dry yeast added and hope they decide to go bar hopping. Or maybe the bakery down the street* would be willing to let me leave my bowl out in their kitchen (bar any health code violations, of course). Or maybe they would be willing to sell me a sour dough starter... but that would be "cheating". ;o)

*They really are "happiness baked fresh daily". Sunny Lemon Babies? Vanilla Swirls? 'Nough said.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Miles to go... I get there eventually.

If any of this is actually coherent, I'll be a bit surprised. It's one in the morning and for the last two nights my sleep has been interrupted by a bat doing laps in my bedroom. I think I may have pinpointed the bat hole (a loose board in the built-in bookcase), and have covered the entire area in duct tape. If there are no more bat excursions, then I will be filling it up with expandable foam sealant. I am a handy man I am.

Of course, to get to the hole I had to move many stacks of fabric and balls of yarn. Some how I convinced myself I could pass on the yarn to a friend who knits (and if she doesn't want it, it's ALL going to the thrift store), and the wire mesh baskets they sat in went away as well.  I was able to get most of the good fabric into the cabinet with the other linens and wools. The rest went into the Tub-o-Stuff to be later organized and gone through. But that cleared up two large shelves that now house my sewing machines, laptop, camera box, paint tins, and sewing box. It looks like there's so much more space in that corner now. And I can see my desk, the previous home to said sewing machines, etc, again.

Also, I don't have to worry quite as much that the bat will take up residence in my fabric stash. Ugh.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Everything is better with wine and ice cream.

It's June 1st today, which means that I am moving in exactly 2 and a half months. I have no idea where I will be living yet; I certainly haven't signed a lease. I'll be using the stipend from the show I'm designing this summer for a security deposit and moving costs. And I won't get paid until after the show is over. The hazards of a freelance artist's life.

But something seemed to ease inside of me when I made that decision to wait until I had money in my hands, instead of trying to borrow it from somewhere else. Friends have enthusiastically offered up both storage space and a place to crash/transition in. I have no idea what August will bring, but now I'm excited.

So to get myself, and my space, ready I really have to crack down on all the cleaning and de-cluttering. I don't want to drag around all the boxes of old papers and bill statements and flotsam and jetsam. Some of the stuff I've started to go through is at least ten years old... It's a bit stunning to realize how much physical stuff I carry around. And yet, I can never seem to "find the time" to go through it all. As much as my inner Negative Nancy would like to guilty me into believing the opposite, it's a very emotionally and psychologically trying process.  It's really, really hard! So much of who I am somehow got caught up in "stuff" and it's hard to divide from that.

To help with the process, I'm buckling down and finally doing the Apartment Therapy "8-step Home Cure" and "create a home that works for [me] - physically, emotionally, and spiritually". Or at least get my stuff together enough to be ready for anything.  This week? Making a list of needed repairs, remove one item from your apartment, vacuum/mop floors, etc. Essentially getting a plan together and gettin' right in there.

And I'm going to blog it all... the whole process. Accountability and all that. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Welcome to Summer!

...sort of.

It's still maybe 45 or 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) around here, but it's been getting sunnier. So last night my house-mate H--- showed me how to change the tire on my bike and check it over, so that it would be road worthy. Biking around is definitely one of those signs of summer (even if we're not there yet), and I love how it feels like flying. I think that no matter where I live, I will always make sure that I have a bike. With a basket on the back. Mine is actually a black milk crate, which reminds me I need to add a couple more zip ties to secure it better...

I also feel much better about trying bike repairs on my own, now that he's walked me through it once. I always feel most nervous about things I've never attempted before. Perhaps I fear that I will completely ruin things beyond repair? But all it takes it one person to show me once (with the occasional reminders) and I'm fearless. I've got a new skill and and instant boost to my confidence. I may have to start going to the women's bike nights at Revolution Cycles... or, OOOH! The Full Moon Bike Ride is next week!

Further Bike Improvement Check List:

  • Fenders (for rainy weather)
  • Batteries for the bike light (for riding in the dark)
  • one of those bike multi-tools with all the handy wrenches and things?
  • a DIY cuff grabber thingy so I don't have to roll my pants legs up or get them stuck in the gears
  • Maybe a little handlebar-purse for when I don't have a bag?