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The Meatrix I'm not a vegetarian but I dislike factory farming and I support small, family farms.


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Friday, October 31, 2003

Four hours to go! 
NaNoWriMo starts in a little under four hours. I may stay up just to officially get started. Or I may not...

Over the next thirty days you can follow my progress on my The Shooting Match website.
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Happy Halloween! 
We have happy kids. Halloween has been a big success. Grace was a colonial girl with a lovely satin dress and a mob cap and Jan made her little stuffed ferret an outfit to match. Amelia was Medusa with hair coiled like snakes and painted green and rubber snakes embedded in it and a gold lame greek dress and she also had a small rubber snake she could keep stored in her mouth and vomit out when she wanted to truly horrify people! Jan was a gypsy fortuneteller with patterned scarves and makeup and false eyelashes. She made me up as a pirate with a bandana around my head and a little braid in my hair and a big sash and a tattoo on my neck and then she superglued a blue jewel to my ear. I have no idea how I'm going to get it off...

Beforehand we went over to Cassundra's house and had soup and grilled polenta and salad. Jan and I made the polenta earlier in the day. One batch was flavored with sundried tomatoes and parmesan. The other was flavored with rosemary and parmesan.

Polenta with rosemary and parmesan and with sundried tomatoes and parmesan

You'll need two flat oven safe dishes or trays for the polenta. You'll also need two biggish pots. Put four cups of chicken stock in each pot. Then put it on to boil. Get about two tablespoons of fresh rosemary and chop it fine and put it in one pot. Dice up a couple of tablespoons of sundried tomatoes and put them in the other pot. When the stock boils, turn it down to a simmer. Then slowly sprinkle a cup of polenta across the surface of the stock stirring all the time and keep stirring until the polenta is smoothly and evenly mixed in. This should avoid lumps. Do the same with the other pot and then simmer them on very low for ten to fifteen minutes stirring at least every minute. As the polenta starts to thicken watch it more carefully and keep stirring. After ten minutes test it to see how much crunch is left in the polenta. When it is all soft, turn it off. It should be pretty thick - almost like porridge. At this point you should stir about a quarter cup of grated parmesan thoroughly into each pot. You can eat immediately if you want soft polenta. Put some kind of sauce on it if you want.

Alternatively, for set polenta to fry or grill, pour each batch out into its own tray and set it somewhere cool to cool down. After an hour or two it will be basically solid. You can cut it into slices or wedges and put it in containers and refrigerate until you need it. When you are ready, coat it lightly with olive oil and grill or fry it. You can put a little more shredded parmesan on it. I usually serve it with a heated up basic marinara sauce just to pour over.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Popcorn Divining 
This may have to remain a trade secret. Jan says it makes up 50% of her bodymass and I know that really it is the only reason she puts up with me. Well, that and warming up her cold feet...

Anyway, the reason that Jan likes the popcorn so much is that I make REAL popcorn. No microwave. No bag. No Orville Redenbacher. Just a stove, a pot, popcorn kernels, olive oil and salt. Oops - there went the secret.

But there's more to it than that. I've gotten the popcorn thing down pretty well and Jan now uses popcorn to divine my mood. Three or more unpopped kernels at the bottom of the bowl - I'm mad at her. Two - unhappy but OK. One - things are OK. No misfires means that all's right with the world.

So. Here's how to make perfect popcorn.

Perfect popcorn

First, you need white popcorn - not yellow. Now, put (as Jamie Oliver would say) three or four glugs of olive oil in a big pot. Put it on the stove on high. Wait about a minute and then pour in enough popcorn kernels to cover the bottom of the pot in about a single layer. Shake the pot up to get hot oil on all the kernels. Put a lid on the pot and wait. In a couple of minutes the corn will start to pop. As it gets really rapid fire, shake the pot again very thoroughly. After about another minute and a half the popping will die down slowly. Shake the pot again. As the popping begins to stop, count seconds between pops. When you get to five between pops, take the pot off the heat. Dump the popcorn into a big bowl and salt to taste. Shake the bowl up to get the salt well mixed in. Eat hot.

Here's a quote. Jan says 'it's like eating the hot insides of a fresh crusty loaf of bread but with a crunch to it and the taste of olive oil.' She also says that you should eat it from a big, deep, relatively narrow bowl so it stays warm.
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Noodling Around 
It's time to break out the ramen noodle idea again. The girls want me to write a ramen noodle cookbook where every recipe has ramen noodles as a foundation. So I'm going to try to start tomorrow with ramen noodles cooked in chicken broth with an egg poached in it at the end.
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Pumpkin Carving 
Halloween is almost here so tonight was the night to sit down with the girls and carve pumpkins. Jan and I stayed with straightforward designs although hers is very avant garde and mine is very traditional. The girls went crazy as usual and theirs look great. We put on a thunderstorm CD really really loud and listened to torrents of rain and loud crashes and rumbles while we carved away!

We won't be eating any of this/these pumpkins - they just turn bad too fast - so no recipes. I did make a delicata squash and onion risotto tonight but it didn't come out all that well. Thumbs down all around in fact. So no recipe there either.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Nothing to do with food for once!

The first two (and smallest) parts of the grand fencing project are almost done. The front fence on the right of our house is up but we need four more boards to finish it. This is a 'good neighbour' fence - the same on both sides and Jan and I are justifiably proud since we designed it. It has boards alternating on either side of a vertically set 2 by four but with no overlap so that straight on it looks solid but if you step to either side you can start to see through it, so it is airy and lets a little light through but provides us and our neighbours with privacy. The back fence is where the grapestakes come in. It is a straight rail and picket fence but the pickets are six foot long grapestakes so it makes an interesting and solid barrier around that edge of the pool. We stained it 'sierra' that makes it look rather orangey right now but will weather to a nice dark brown
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Sunday, October 26, 2003

Fast and Furious 
Writing that is...NaNoWriMo is almost upon us. Check out my NaNoWriMo site, The Shooting Match.
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Mixed up, Muddled up, Shook up world 
I spent Saturday on a real tear. First was Grace's soccer game. Our first loss. No real surprise there - bound to lose one after all. But I was annoyed that the other team set out their stall so much to win at all costs. There was a lot of dirty play - fortunately NOT by my girls. But the real difference was that for us it was the early morning of the living dead. One of the delights of this set of girls has been that no matter what, some of them are always in the game urging the others on. Not this Saturday. Instead they all dragged around. Oh well.

Anyway, then I came home and checked in on the fence construction crew that Jan had gotten going (and fed coffee and water to) and went off to get more lumber - much more lumber. We are ending up refencing the three longest sides of our property. Then I got the crew lunch. And finally I got in on the act and stained lots and lots and lots of six foot boards and vast quantities of grapestake. But 200 or so grapestakes isn't enough - we have 1000! I also stained myself, my clothes and parts of the driveway.

Mixed up, Shook up Chicken

But then it was time to knock off. So I cut up and skinned a chicken (nice size organic fryer - about three and a half pounds). Then I mixed up about two tablespoons coarse sea salt, a teaspoon of black pepper, two teaspoons of sumac and a tablespoon of dried oregano. I drizzled a little olive oil on the chicken and then rubbed the spice mixture thoroughly into the chicken all over. I let it sit in the fridge for an hour. Then I turned the broiler on high and grilled it for about 25 minutes total turning it halfway through. Two minutes before the end I squeezed all the juice of a lemon evenly over all the pieces. It was fantastic and you'd never have guessed the spices.

Sweet Potato Fries

We had the chicken with sweet potato fries I made from two large beautiful sweet potatoes we got from Terra Firma Farms in our organic veggie box. I scrubbed them thoroughly, then cut them into wedges lengthways - about half an inch thick. I smeared a cookie sheet with olive oil, rubbed them thoroughly onto the sheet, coating both sides with oil. Then I put them in the same oven as the chicken (so the oven was on maximum temp) for the same length of time - 25 minutes total. I also turned them over once halfway through. Sprinkle with salt just before serving.

Ginger Turnips and greens

I also cooked turnips and their greens from the same box of vegetables. I sliced up the turnips and put them on to saute in a little canola oil. Then I chopped up the greens. I put two diced cloves of garlic and about a teaspoon of chopped parsley in with the turnips. As soon as the turnips started to turn brown I tossed in the greens and cooked it all until the greens started to wilt. Then I added a teaspoon of candied ginger puree (from Trader Joe's) and stirred it in and turned off the heat. Then I added a small squeeze of lemon juice. Also a big hit.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Garlic, olive oil and orzo 
Three magic ingredients (and two more at are less important) that conjure up the perfect comfort food in my family. We started making this when the kids were just old enough to eat solid food this small and it has been a favorite ever since. It goes with everything, it's easy and the ingredients can be kept in the pantry for use at any time.

Garlic Pasta

Put on a pot of water to boil. You can hurry things up by starting with hot water and/or boiling some in an electric kettle first. Peel at least half a head of garlic (eight to ten large cloves) and very finely chop it into pieces that are about half the size of a grain of rice. I do this by slicing the garlic thinly one way, then broadly the other way so it is like matchsticks of garlic and then finely chop it the third way. But the rapid rocking chopping technique is fine as well. When the hot water boils, add a pound of dried orzo pasta (looks like grains of rice) and wait about five minutes. Put a frying pan on high and pour in about five tablespoons of olive oil. Let it get a little hot and then add about a quarter teaspoon of crushed red chili flakes. Wait about a minute and then add the chopped garlic and swirl it into the olive oil. Watch it closely and as it begins to turn toasty brown, turn the heat off immediately. By now the pasta should be just about done. When it is, drain it, put it back in the pot and pour the olive oil, garlic and pepper over it and stir thoroughly to coat it all with the oil. Serve but allow for people to add plenty of salt to taste. It usually needs it. Not only is it delicious, but vampires will keep well clear!
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Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Another cook in the house... 
Although I tend to write about MY cooking and ignore everybody else's, I am not in fact the ONLY person in my household to do any cooking, although I do do the majority of it. My eternal other, Jan, is a kick-ass cook in her own right and she reminded us all of it yesterday. I had taken the kids swimming and was expecting garlic pasta (recipe another time), some kind of meat and maybe greens for supper - always a great meal and a true standby in our family. Instead I opened the door and smelled bacon. But wait, those were beet greens on the stove and further smells were intruding. To cut to the chase, we had the following: gnocchi in a herbed goat cheese and parmesan sauce, topped with wilted beet greens and arugula with crumbled bacon and a side dish of mixed roasted beets, summer squash, butternut squash and onions. Yowza!

Today just the gnocchi con goat cheese, greens and bacon.

Gnocchi with goat cheese, parmesan, wilted greens and bacon

Put on a big pot of water to boil. In the meantime top and wash the beet greens and chop up into small pieces. In a frying pan, carefully cook the bacon, remove, drain on paper towels and pour of the grease. Without cleaning the pan, put it back on the heat and toss in the beet green stems. Wait a minute and add the beet greens themselves. Wait another minute and toss in the arugula. As everything starts to wilt ad about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Turn off the heat and put aside. When the water boils, salt it a little and add the gnocchi (about a pound). I use packaged gnocchi that cook in about three minutes. Once cooked, drain and return to the pot with about a quarter cup of milk. Add about four ounces of goat cheese. I used herbed goat cheese but plain would be fine. Stir thoroughly until milk and cheese have melted into a coating over all the gnocchi. Add about two tablespoons of grated parmesan and stir that in thoroughly as well. Serve up the gnocchi with greens on top and then crumble the bacon over it all.
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Monday, October 20, 2003

What a weekend!

We had a busy Saturday. The kids' soccer team kept up its string of games without loss. We had a fancy dinner cooked by a chef who is thinking about writing a cookbook and is trying out ideas on our friends and we got to go eat as well. It was very good - two kinds of stuffed pimento peppers - one with goat cheese, anchovies and other things, the other with rice and pinenuts and currants and so forth. Then we had a wild mushroom lasagne with a wonderful bechamel sauce and a homemade tomato sauce on top. It was fantastic. The essence of porcini oozed from every bite.

Main course was a grilled pork loin that had been stuffed and rolled with pancetta, garlic and herbs, served with a dish of roasted butternut squash and green beans and homemade french bread.

But even before that we also went to the NaNoWriMo East Bay kickoff party where we met about 30 other co-novel writers and got encouragement for our efforts.

Sunday was quieter except that we had a pile of pre-teens over in the afternoon. They headed down to the creekbank while I made

Mango Cream Pie

This wasn't a total success, but here goes. I made a crust out of 11 graham crackers crushed up with a couple of tablespoons of sugar and five tablespoons of melted butter. I mashed it down to coat the bottom and edges of a pie tin. (Tip - make it go higher than you really want - it shrinks) and baked it in a 350 degree oven for 12 minutes.

While that was going, I blended together (with a spoon) 4oz of creme fraiche, half a tin (12 oz) of mango pulp, 4 oz of mascarpone, about two tablespoons of ground cardamom and about two tablespoons of lemon zest. Then I whisked three eggs and a quarter cup of cornstarch together, put it on the heat and slowly added in the mango mixture, whisking constantly. I kept that up until a little before it would have boiled, just as it started to seriously thicken. Then I let it cool for about ten minutes while the pie crusts cooled and poured it on in and stuck it in the fridge. Then I shaved a bunch of strips of lemon zest over it before serving. It was seriously good, but I have to warn you that the quantities for the filling aren't quite right. I inadvertently went too far with the cornstarch and then added more mango to thin it out at the end.

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Friday, October 17, 2003

Building materials 
Youch! Maybe I should have been a contractor. After all, I DO tend to be sloppy, slow to finish and think I can do just about anything. Anyway, I am putting up new fencing all around our house and today I went and dropped a bundle on grapestakes, fence posts, rails, etc. I couldn't believe how much it was and that was with me shaving over $1000 off of the anticipated materials cost.

Tonight I get to put together the simple, delicious and straightforward tomato, basil and mozzarella salad. All ingredients are available at Trader Joe's.

Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Salad

Get a bowl. Slice 8oz of fresh bocconcini mozzarella into a bowl. Slice a pound of fresh tomatoes in. Tear up about half a bunch of basil leaves into small pieces and toss them in. Pour on two tablespoons of virgin olive oil. Pour on two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Toss it all together. Enjoy!

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Thursday, October 16, 2003

Pork chops, novels and automobiles 
It's been a strange week. I've been negotiating about the value of my now-totaled Camry. It's still drivable, but since you can't open the rear passenger doors any more and you can't close the trunk anymore, there is clearly a lot wrong with it. Perhaps not the $6000 the bodyshop quoted to fix it, but that was enough to make the insurance company write it off.

Now they want to give me $2200. I can't get a Camry for less than $2900 no matter how I look...

That's the automobiles part. The novel part is more interesting. I'm going to try taking part in National Novel Writing Month, along with Jan, Amelia and Grace. I'm going to try to put my work in progress on a blog. It's called The Shooting Match.

Pork chops - not worth a recipe. They were good, but only good and all I really did was rub them with salt, pepper, thyme, sage, rosemary and garlic powder, then paint on a little oil, let sit in fridge for several hours and then grill on high for a total of 15 minutes both sides, adding a little applesauce on top for the last three minutes.

Work is going badly, too, just like everything %$@^ else. We've lost money again, share price is down, layoffs are imminent, yada, yada, yada. Just like everyone else in the Bay Area.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Now that I have a real site it is time to celebrate its name properly by introducing my recipe for salsa. Not surprisingly, this involves tomatillas.

Salsa Cruda

You need a food processor or an electric chopper or some way to chop things up over a bowl so you don't lose the juices. Standard recipe involves two pounds of tomatoes, one pound of tomatillas, two serrano chiles, a head of garlic, two lemons, two teaspoons of salt, two large bunches of cilantro.

Peel the garlic. Then the easy way is to chunk up the tomatoes and tomatillas so they fit nicely in the chopper or food processor, add the garlic, chiles, cilantro and chop everything roughly so that it doesn't all end up exactly the same size. hard way is to do the same thing by hand. Then mix in the juice of the two lemons and the salt. Taste and adjust flavors with more lemon, salt or even tabasco.

Serve with chips or almost anything else.
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It's Alive! 
Wow! This stuff really works! And it was easy! And cheap. Now I have to put in a plug for my ISP. ICDsoft provided me with domain name registration and hosting for a YEAR with decent storage and lots of control options for $65 for everything. That's all of it - getting the domain, registering it, hosting it, etc. I applied for all of this les than 24 hours ago and it is already up and running. Yahoo!
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Oh Frabjous Day 
I'm in the process of getting hosting and a real URL! www.tomatilla.com! Hopefully within two days I will have this site and my other sites hosted from there and I can start adding in images and other fun stuff!
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Monday, October 13, 2003

I added titles. Seemed like a good idea. The biggest hit in terms of cooking was on last Friday when I made an impulse purchase - sand dabs - and decided to surprise the kids with homemade fish and chips. It was a big success. I got told that it was the best meal I had ever made them(!). On to the details...

Fried Sand Dabs

It isn't worth filleting most sand dabs - they are basically a very small flounder relative from the Pacific and you lose too much flesh if you fillet them. So I washed them and left them to sit in a little lemon juice (I had four of them - about a half pound each). Then I heated about half an inch of olive oil in a cast iron frying pan until it was just beginning to get smoky. In the meantime I made a flour dredging mixture of about a cup of plain flour, a tablespoon of salt, a teaspoon of pepper and sundry fish herbs and seaweed flakes (Ok, OK - thyme, parsley, seaweed flakes and garlic) - total about 3/4 of a teaspoon. Mix it all up and then drag each fillet carefully through it so it is well coated. Drop them into the pan and leave for three minutes or so until clearly starting to turn brown on the downward side. Flip and cook again - three minutes or so until just starting to turn brown. Serve with wedges of lemon and either peas or salad. And of course,

French Fries

Slice up about a pound and a half of potatoes and then cut the other way lengthways to make a big pile of shoestring potatoes. Put them in a bowl of water to soak and heat up a frying pan with about 2/3 of an inch of a even mixture of olive oil and vegetable shortening (palm oil in my case). Let that get hot almost to smoking. Dry the potatoes off on several kitchen towels and fry rapidly in batches stirring frequently. You'll probably need six batches for all the potatoes and cook them until they just barely show any brown color. In the meantime get a couple of cookie sheets ready and heat the oven to 350 degrees. As the potatoes come out spread them out on the cookie sheets and put them in the oven. Let the last batch of potatoes cook a little longer until clearly starting to go brown. Add them to the rest of the fries that you remove from the oven. Salt to taste and serve with lemon, vinegar and/or ketchup.
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Wednesday, October 08, 2003

It's funny. I kind of liked Schwarzenegger (at least until the sexual predator stuff came out) but how can anyone think he could make a decent administrator for the fifth (sixth now?) largest economy in the world? The most amazing thing about how he got elected however is the unbelievable lack of depth that has been demonstrated on all sides in the whole affair. The media has barely gone below the surface in ANY coverage. They certainly haven't even vaguely tried to look at the issues in any real way. The candidates don't seem to know how to summarize information in a coherent form.

Is everybody in the US just losing all ability to think critically or for themselves - or even think at all???
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Ugh! Schwarzenegger for Governor. Time to move.
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Sunday, October 05, 2003

A bit of a food weekend. I got on a roll, thought I'd be enthusiastic. Little good it did me.

Anyway, I did come up with a KILLER recipe. We had a lot of really nice heirloom tomatoes laying around from our organic veggie box (we've been getting it for almost TEN years (with a two year hiatus when we lived in Sea Ranch)) and I thought back to those lost days of Summer in the South of France when it was always warm and sunny and in the evening you'd wander down to the town square and if you had the money you'd get the prix fixe tourist menu. An appetizer - usually onion soup. Followed by bifteck au poivre, frites and staggeringly good grilled tomatoes. Dessert was creme brulee by the way and you drank the house red by the carafe.

So I decided to take a shot at recreating those tomaters. And I did...near enough.

Fantastic Grilled Tomatoes

Heat the oven up to about 350 degrees. Get out a baking tray and slice your tomatoes in half - whatever quantity it is you want. I'd suggest to big or three small per person. You'll be lucky to have leftovers.

Then get a chopper/food processor/blender. Either dump in about a cup of breadcrumbs, or put in about a quarter of a loaf of stale bread and MAKE breadcrumbs. Then peel eight cloves of garlic and throw them in. Get about half a cup of fresh herbs - any kind. I got some thyme and oregano from the garden. Put them in too. Add about a quarter cup of ground parmesan. Whiz all this together until it is well blended. Divide equally on top of the halved tomatoes. Drizzle each tomato with about half a teaspoon of olive oil. Sprinkle all this with sea slat to taste.

Cook in oven for about fifteen to twenty minutes. Turn up to broil and finish under the broiler until dark brown on top - about two minutes. But watch this - all depends on distance from broiler and your oven, etc.

Take out, serve, accept compliments. (Or if eating alone, dwell in satisfaction on your food)

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Friday, October 03, 2003

Custard Tarts

That's almost too simple a description but it is what they are. I am determined to get better at pastry making and baking. It is such useful stuff. So, the other day I made up a batch of highly experimental almond pastry. I essentially made a basic sweet pastry but I used some ground almonds instead of some flour. Approximate directions (do I give any other kind?) are to use two cups of flour, one cup of ground almonds, half a cup of sugar and about a cup and a hlaf of shortening of your choice. In this case there are really only two options - either high quality sweet butter very cold, or very high quality vegetable shortening. I now use organic vegetable shortening that is basically 100% palm oil (NOT palm kernel oil which is liquid). This is better than most vegetable shortening because it is NOT hydrogenated and so has NO trans fats. OK, lecture over.

Cut this all together by your favorite method. I still ike using my fingers best. Then add about two tablespoons of cold water to bind it all together. You may need a little more or a little less.

Refrigerate for a couple of hours, then roll out to about 1/8th of an inch. I then made little tartlets using muffin trays - I got 24 tartlets out fo this recipe but I rolled the pastry a touch thicker then described.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cases cool.

Then I made a completely fake custard using Bird's custard powder and a mixture of milk, cream and sugar flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. I cooked it a bit thick so it would set solid when cool, let it cool a little and poured it into the tartlet shells and topped each one with a fresh raspberry.

Then put them all to cool in the fridge for an hour or eat right away if you want them warm.

Side note. Bird's custard powder is esentially cornstarch with annatto coloring to make it yellow. Just cornstarch would work as well...
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Thursday, October 02, 2003

That was scary. Really scary. On my way home from work tonight I got rear-ended - badly. There I was, stuck in stop and go traffic, talking with Jan on my cell phone when BANG! The phone flew off somewhere, change flew around and even the ashtray flew out of its little drawer. Me? I slammed back into the seat, driving it backward about 20 degrees and slammed my left leg into the dash. My right leg was firmly on the brake, which is why the car in front of me didn't get damaged even though I did get driven into it. I think I was winded but I'm not sure since I was so shaken that all I could do was sit there and curse vaguely and hope I was OK. I was, although I'll need to get my back checked out tomorrow.

I was hit from behind by a large Chevy Astro van that was in turn hit from behind (they say) by someone else who promptly drove off.

I called 911 and they were reasonably prompt (I spoke to someone real in less than a minute) and they spent a while getting exact details of my location and then said the CHP would be there soon. We were four lanes away from the right shoulder and eventually we managed to edge across (the Astro and I). The Astro driver claimed to have gotten hitten from behind once to cause the original accident and then again later after the first person drove away. I don't know I wasn't able to see... all I know was BANG!

I'm glad I don't have to go in to work tomorrow and I won't be going in Friday either.

More later when I recover.
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Wednesday, October 01, 2003

The last post made me realize that I haven't been entirely clear about the recipe portion of this weblog. I am only putting up the better and more successful recipes since nobody really wants to hear about (for example) the shepherd's pie made from the leftover mashed potatoes and strange beef brisket and mushroom and peppers concoction I made the previous night. In turn, nobody wants to hear about the brisket either - even though that was actually VERY good. But the brisket was completely ad hoc. I didn't think about it as I did it and I couldn't repeat it even if I wanted to. I can remember the basic details: I heavily browned a small brisket in oil. In the meantime I warmed up in my crockpot some white wine and a complicated mixture of herbs and spices that included garlic, herbs de provence, pepper, salt, liquid applewood smoke, honey, balsamic vinegar and probably three or four other things. Then I put the brisket in the crockpot, deglazed the brisket brownings with more white wine and added that and then left it to cook on crockpot high for six hours. It was good but not spectacular and I didn't have the time or energy to work it anymore to elevate it any further (maybe reduce the liquid with shallots and butter??)
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That'll teach me to get sloppy. I had planned to make a large batch of lasagna. Some for a friend who has been going through a rough patch, some for us. And I DID make the lasagna. Last time I made a large batch of lasagna I based it around a Cooks Illustrated recipe for lasagna that used the no boil kind of lasagna and it worked out really well (except that the second set ended up being finished by the babysitter who turned out not to be reliable when it came to timing things in the oven - fortunately just a little overdone). Anyway, that lasagna was excellent. But this time I couldn't find the recipe so I tried to do it from memory and by winging it, which is after all my favorite way to cook anything. The result was quite decent but nowhere near as good as last time. I think I figured out why. I used too much ricotta in proportion to other cheeses and I used too much sauce in relation to pasta. Everything else was good. Lots of tasty free range ground beef. A whole head of fresh basil. A complex, rich and tasty sauce. But the final product was a bit too watery. So I'm not going to put the recipe up here...
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