27 September 2012

Around Connecticut: Barley Vine

Like many small New England cities, the heart went out of mine a few decades ago as the business and community center moved away from Main Street. People moved out to the burbs, etc, and businesses moved out to keep them company. It’s sad and frustrating, but my city is (despite vocal naysayers and trolls) trying to revitalize. The downtown streetscapes have been redone, some storefronts spruced up, and a few new businesses have moved in.

Today I attended a preview of Barley Vine, the new gastropub on Main Street. It’s all exposed brick and wood, tin ceilings and chalkboards, bar stools and friendliness. I was completely charmed. (I offer no insult or condescension when I say it reminded me a lot of Plan B -- my husband and I have spent a lot of time at Plan B in West Hartford and consider it one of our favorite burger places, so to find something similar-but-different in my own little city is just totes awesome).

Barley Vine

The bar is extensive, with lots of good beer selections. They even offer Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider which is one of my favorite ciders and one I don’t usually see a lot locally. (I see a lot of Woodchuck ciders and, while they’re good, they’re no Samuel Smith). Always smooth and gently apple-y, it goes well with everything ... including the BarleyVine burger.

Barley Vine

The BarleyVine burger is the only burger on the lunch menu (dinner menu unseen) unless you want to build your own. I reckoned anything that eponymous was likely to be good and ordered it medium as written. Ground and shaped on site from local beef, it was a thick puck of tender, juicy beef on a sturdy roll with charred onions, roasted red bell pepper, blue cheese crumbles, and arugula. Lunch burgers come with sweet potato and kale chips -- fry people, like The Husband, may not be amused. I love sweet potatoes and kale chips are always a win, so I was exceedingly amused. (Next time, I might try building my own burger so I can try Barley Vine’s house-made bacon).

I have to be honest and say my preview wasn’t without flaws -- the bartender had some trouble locating a bottle opener for my cider, the fussy computerized cash register refused to print my tab, and the top of my hamburger roll was a little charred. But, hey, it was a preview. By the time Barley Vine has its grand opening on 11 October, I expect everything will be fine. Barley Vine is actually (quietly) opening to the public this Saturday and I fully intend to drag The Husband down for supper on Saturday or Sunday.

My meal, minus the 20% preview discount, came to just under $15 which seemed extremely reasonable considering it was a drinking lunch. (I even merited a free sample of Cisco Brewers' Monomoy Kriek -- it smelled slightly sulphurous and tasted, at first sip, a bit like mellow cherry balsamic vinegar. That may sound weird, possibly undrinkable, to you but I thought it was quite delicious. I can’t imagine what I’d drink it with, though. Duck with balsamic cherry sauce? French vanilla ice cream?)

Barley Vine

26 September 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Poppies

Poppies
The poppies are wild, they are only beautiful and tall
so long as you do not cut them,
they are like the feral cat who purrs and rubs against your leg
but will scratch you if you touch back.
Love is letting the world be half-tamed.
-- from Jennifer Grotz’s “Poppies”

25 September 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: Series I Haven't Finished


For this week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the terrific Broke & Bookish, we discuss all the top ten series we haven't finished. I've broken my list into three sections, because there are just soooo many series I haven't finished!

Series I love and don't want to end … and they won't if I don't read the last volume:
  1. Karen Traviss’s Wess'har
  2. Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking
  3. Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games
Series I simply forgot about:
  1. Kristine Smith’s Jani Kilian (didn't know a 4th volume was published in 2007, woohoo!)
  2. Kazu Kibuishi’s The Amulet (loved volumes 1 and 2 and really mean to continue the series ... someday)
  3. Yun Mi-kyung’s Bride of the Water God (and I loved, loved, loved the first two volumes!)
  4. Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y: The Last Man (got distracted around volume 5 and lost track of it)
Series that made me go "meh" after a while:
  1. E.L. James’s Fifty Shades Trilogy (read the first, skimmed the second, and could not go on)
  2. George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (read the first one, skimmed the second and third for sections with characters I cared about, and disdained the rest)
  3. Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire/Sookie Stackhouse (read the first five and some short stories, but only remember the first three volumes with any accuracy)
  4. Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time (read the first seven and gave up -- only remember the first three volumes well)

23 September 2012

Italian Homework: Easy Appetizers

I’m taking an introductory Italian cooking class through an online learning service, Universal Class, offered by my public library. It’s all self-paced and I have six months to complete the course. So far, the lessons have all be about the factual rather than practical. I’ve learned a little bit about the different regions of Italy and their culinary specialties, the basic staples of an Italian kitchen, and whatnot. Some of it I already knew -- I was weaned on PBS cooking shows, you know -- but it was a good refresher and filled in some gaps.

Anyway, I’m on “Lesson 4: Easy Italian Appetizers” and finally got to cook! I had to make two appetizers -- one hot, one cold. Being lazy, I chose to go the simple route and make melon wedges wrapped in prosciutto for the cold appetizer:
Slice a melon in half. Remove and discard the seeds and cut the melon into eighths. Carefully cut the rinds away from each slice then wrap each melon slice with one slice of prosciutto. Plate prettily. Nom.

Proscuitto Wrapped Melon (Indiglow)

It was good, but a sprinkle of fresh ground pepper and drizzle of balsamic vinegar made it better! The combination of sweet-salt-spicy-sour was delicious and I wish I'd been eating this dish all summer.

For my hot appetizer, I went with roasted garlic on toast rounds, because it’s cheap and easy. Also, I love garlic. And bread. And garlic bread ...
Whack the top off 2 heads of garlic so the tops of the cloves are exposed. Place each head in the center of a square of tinfoil, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Wrap foil loosely around heads, put on a cookie sheet, and bake at 450°F for 50 min. Drain the oil into a storage container (fab stuff for dipping bread or using in a salad dressing, by the way). Scoop the garlic cloves out of the head and spread on slices of toasted baguette. Nom!

Roasted Garlic w/ Garlic Bread

For this dish, I used a crusty carmelized-garlic loaf I picked up at Hill-Stead's Farmers Market. It was baked by Wave Hill Breads and was studded with cloves of roasted garlic. Combined with the roasted garlic heads, it was totes fab. Really. I served it with a hearty beef stew, but I would have been happy just eating it all on its own.

As I said, I have six months to finish the course, but I’m already itching to get it done -- not because I’m not enjoying it (I am so enjoying it!), but because I really want to sign up for “Spanish Cooking 101,” “Tex-Mex Cooking 101,” and “How to Bake Pies.” I want to make tortilla española and awesome chimichangas, and get over my fear of scratch-made pie crusts. While I am allowed to take five classes at a time, I’m not silly enough to believe I could cope with more than two and I’m currently also taking “Bird Watching 101.” Yes, bird watching. Because birds are also totes fab.

But so is pie!

Graphic Novel: Loyola Chin & The San Peligran Order

Loyola Chin & The San Peligran Order by Gene Yang (SLG, 2004)

After Loyola discovers that the food she eats determines the dreams she has, she starts experimenting with different food combinations. She dreams some pretty weird things -- almond tofu, sashimi, and okra trap her inside a giant mouth, for example -- but it's the simple pan of cornbread that sends her on the strangest adventure.

In her cornbread dream, Loyal meets a pale, strange-eyed man on the top of a tall mountain. He calls himself Saint Danger and tells her she can see anything from the mountain top if she just squints. Pretty soon, Loyola is crushing on Saint Danger and mainlining cornbread. And then the situation with Danger starts to get weird and possibly dangerous. Meanwhile, back in the waking world, Loyola's best friend is busy helping the dumbest senior in the school actualize his crush on Loyola.

Loyola Chin is out of print as a standalone, but is currently published in the comic collection Animal Crackers with Gordon Yamamoto and the King of the Geeks. Loyola Chin is, apparently, the sequel to Gordon Yamamoto, but I found it made fine sense all on its own. Loyola, missing her mother and caught up in her infatuation with Danger, makes for a sympathetic heroine. I knew no-one named Danger was likely to be good for Loyola in the long run (and Gordon surely deserved a crack at happiness), but I still hoped it would work out for her and Danger. That he would see his fear and embrace compassion, rather than turn his back on Loyola and continue his madness.

21 September 2012

Graphic Novel: Geisha

Geisha by Andi Watson (Oni Press, 1999)

Jomi Sohodo is a synthetic being raised in a human family and treated, in every way, as human by them. Unfortunately, the rest of the world is not so kind or reasonable. It sees her as sex-toy or drudge -- something to be treated as less than human -- and does not react well to her uppity ways.

Jomi longs to be an artist, but her first show has been dismissed by an important critic as "utterly synthetic." Depressed and low on cash, Jomi turns to the family security firm for work. Unfortunately, she finds no satisfaction in guarding a spoilt supermodel and when an incident with a stalker lands her in hot water, Jomi's more than willing to entertain an offer from a mysterious art patron ...

Geisha was an enjoyable, if quick, read with nice characterization and an interesting story. The black and white illustrations are rougher than in Watson's Clubbing, but there only makes sense as there are eight years between the two GNs. I was actually quite surprised by how "old" Geisha is as the story feels quite contemporary and I wish there was more of it.

20 September 2012

Waffled Quesadilla

Yes, my darlings, a quesadilla can be waffled. I am so pleased with myself for trying this and I cannot wait until October, when we enter Grilled Cheese Season proper, and I start waffling grilled cheese. Basically, I want to waffle anything that involves carbs and cheese. I'm sure I would waffle a calzone if I had the right ingredients.

To make my quesadilla, I sprayed my waffle iron with cooking spray and let it preheat as directed. I spread one white flour tortilla with the last dregs of bacon jam.

Waffled Quesadilla

Plopped it on the waffle griddle, topped it with some garlicky salsa, a bit of shredded mozzarella-cheddar blend, and the other tortilla. I closed the waffle iron, pressing down firmly, and let it cook for 3 minutes.

Waffled Quesadilla

Waffled Quesadilla

Then I removed the quesadilla and let it sit for a few minutes to cool down a little -- it was sizzling -- which gave me enough time to scrape all the escaped cheese off the griddle with a rubber spatula and nom them up.

Waffled Quesadilla

The quesadilla? It was delicious. Smoky, spicy, gooey, crispy ... delicious.

19 September 2012

18 September 2012

Eating The Alphabet: P is for Pumpkin

For September's Eating the Alphabet Challenge (which I am very late posting), we were to cook with ingredients starting with the letter P, Q, or R. I kept wanting to do something with quinoa, but it turns out I like the idea of quinoa more than the ingredient itself. Something about it just makes my mouth go "meh."

So, I turned to pumpkin and raisins. I thought about muffins and cookies and bundt cakes ... but I'm the only pumpkin lover in my house and the last thing I need right now is two dozen cookies or a large bundt cake staring me in the face every time I wander into the kitchen.

Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal

I made oatmeal, instead. Pretty goshdarn delicious oatmeal with maple syrup, walnuts, and baking spice. Plus a little Barlean's flax oil for extra nutritiousness!

The raisins are cooked with the oatmeal so they would plump up a bit, but you could just as easily leave them out until the end and sprinkle them on with the walnuts if you prefer chewier raisins. I just love that they become juicy tender flavor bombs when they cook with the oatmeal! Dried cranberries would work well, too.

I used Penzeys' baking spice blend -- a blend of Ceylon cinnamon, China cassia cinnamon, anise seed, allspice, mace, and cardamom -- but your favorite baking spice blend will do just fine. Or pie spice!

Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal

Yield: 2 filling servings

Ingredients

  • 1¾ cup 1% milk
  • 1 cup regular oats
  • 1 oz golden raisins
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp baking spice blend [Penzeys]
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp flax oil [Barlean's]
  • 2 Tbsp crushed walnuts

Instructions

  1. Bring milk to boil in saucepan. Add oatmeal and raisins. Cook, stirring, 5 minutes or until milk is absorbed and oatmeal is thick and creamy.
  2. Stir in pumpkin, baking spice, and maple syrup. Taste. Add more baking spice or syrup, if desired.
  3. Portion into two bowls. Sprinkle with walnuts and drizzle with oil. Eat.

Graphic Novel: Daffodil

Daffodil by Frederic Breemaud, Giovanni Rigano, & Paolo Lamanna (Marvel, 2010)

Waaaay back in 2008, Marvel started publishing English-language versions of graphic novels by Soleil in France. Marvel has since stopped, of course, and most of the volumes are hard to find. But sometimes you get lucky. In my case, Daffodil just seems to have spawned on my bookshelves. No-one knows where it came from. Everyone denies purchasing it, but there it is, sandwiched between The Cleaners and Darkminds: Paradox.

Marvel's Daffodil includes issues 1-3 which sounds like a reasonable number of issues, but doesn't really work. Issues 1 & 2 form a complete story about a mad, bad vampire who's trying to destroy the world and the three sexy-cute vampire government agents sent to stop him. The story is creepy-cute and I devoured it. Just couldn't get enough of the totes adorabs children hostages and their interactions with the vamps. Oh, I so wanted to cuddle Globuline even though I know, given the chance, she'd happily snack on my arm.

Unfortunately, Issue 3 is completely unrelated. The vampire agents are pursuing another mad, bad vampire, but the story feels much darker and more violent (although the illustrations remain just as playful and, yes, cuddly). The story also feels much more rushed, as if it should have been spread over 2 issues.

I know! You're thinking "She keeps saying cute! And she said totes adorabs? Isn't this about vampires? Doesn't it carry a mature content warning?" And you're right -- Daffodil does carry a mature content warning. There's some violence -- although I'd say no more than many adult GNs -- and there's, maybe, a handful of female nipple shots. So, if you don't want to see lady nips (on some adorable breasts, by the way), avoid Daffodil.

And, yes, Daffodil is cute. Rigano's illustrations are simply splendid and Lamanna's subtle use of color gives them a great deal of depth and even a sense of warmth -- unexpectedly humanizing our vampire agents and adding a level of curvy cuteness and playfulness to a story which is really anything but. Illustrated and colored by different artists (Ben Templesmith of 30 Days of Night, for example), Daffodil would be a much darker horror story. And I wouldn't have enjoyed it half as much.

16 September 2012

Celebratory 60th Birthday Quilt

I've been away from quilting for a while -- sure, I''ve spent a considerable amount of time in my sewing room, moving fabric around and dreaming, but I haven't sewn more than a napkin in the past two years.

Then a friend had a baby and a dear coworker turned sixty and quilting took on a certain urgency. Being a bit rusty, I went with rag ("frayed-edge") quilts for both as I knew it was an easy method and would hide most (if not all) of my mistakes.

Rag ("Frayed-Edge") Quilt

I've not quite finished the baby quilt -- still snipsnipsnipping all the seams -- but the lap quilt for my coworker's birthday is done and looks pretty darn cute. I used a kit from Malibu Quiltworks and am quite sure I'll be buying more kits from them in the near future as they have some really lovely fabric assortments for sale.

My mother helped me a bit with assembling this quilt and, between the two of us, it took five (gossipy) hours to sew it together. I snipped the quilt seams while watching television (two episodes of House and one episode of Black Books) and then stuffed it in the washer -- et voilà a quilt was born!

Rag ("Frayed-Edge") Quilt

Graphic Novel: Ozma of Oz

Ozma of Oz adapted by Eric Shanower & Skottie Young (Marvel, 2011)

Dorothy, on the way to Australia with her uncle, is washed overboard and finds herself stranded, with a plucky talking hen, on the shores of the enchanted land of Ev. There she is terrorized by the nightmarish Wheelers, and befriends a patent double-action mechanical man, before heading on to the royal city. There Dorothy and Co. run into some trouble with the acting ruler, but are rescued by old (and new) friends. Together they travel to the underground kingdom of the Nome King to free Ev's remaining royal family.

Problem is, the Nome King has turned them all into decorative ornaments. The king offers them each chances to identify the royals amongst the bric-a-brac, but if they fail they will be turned into ornaments, too. Finding the royals is, of course, harder than they would have thought and the future is looking very ... decorative ... for our intrepid band of would-be rescuers, but will a plucky piece of poultry save the day?


This is the third Marvel adaptation of an Oz book and, I swear, they just keep getting better! Skottie Young's full color illustrations are just charming and capture the adventurous spirit of the story. I especially love how he drew Bill(ina) -- giving a little yellow hen so much character. The expression around her eyes when she thinks Dorothy is telling another whopper about Oz is just priceless. And Ozma, while a stunner, is clearly no vapid princess. Her thoughts and feelings are clear in her face and actions. She's a princess a girl could get behind and she knows how to rock a poppy headpiece. Oh, yes, I'd ship Dorothy/Ozma any day.

Can't wait for Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz to come out in hardcover on September 26. Will be standing by my mailbox at noon, waiting to flag down the postie.

14 September 2012

Graphic Novel: Gotham City Sirens, Volume 3

Gotham City Sirens: Strange Fruit by (DC Comics, 2011)

Strange Fruit made me angry. Reading the previous volume, Songs of the Sirens, I felt like I was really getting to know Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman. Here were three strong women who had their share of problems, but were supporting and caring for each other while taking on anyone who tried to get in their way. I expected more of that in Strange Fruit.

Indeed, I rather foolishly hoped the trio's tentative alliance would turn into really friendship, Catwoman's sister would be stopped, Poison Ivy would reconcile her humanity with her plant bits a little bit more, and Harley Quinn would finally get over Joker.

Instead, I get cameo appearances by other female DC characters who seem shoehorned in merely to betray Catwoman (and each other) in order to protect Batman's identity. Also, Poison Ivy betrays Harley Quinn and Catwoman for the love of a leafy mind-warping humanoid alien plant. And Harley Quinn betrays Catwoman and Poison Ivy for a crack at Joker. This compilation was so clearly about The Dudes.

Why? Harley, Ivy, and Selena are all fantastically complex characters with rich histories and yet they can't have stories of their own, but must always be linked to the "real" heroes of the comic book universe? Batman knows who Catwoman really is, but no-ones worried about him being kidnapped and her identity leaked. Ohhhh, that's right! Catwoman isn't important! All the girls are in there for color (and tits).


Basically, Strange Fruit was a horrible disappointment and I just don't think I can bear to attempt the last volume, Division, as I suspect it will just be more of the same.

13 September 2012

Lazy Slow Cooking

I did not menu plan this week which meant I spent too much of Tuesday night with my head in our freezer trying to figure out what I could make for Wednesday's supper. There wasn't going to be enough time to thaw anything, but since I figured out I could cook frozen boneless skinless breasts in my slow cooker, that isn't really a problem. In my pantry, I found a jar of salsa verde. It seemed like a good enough combination.

Slow Cooker Chicken Verde

And it was pretty good. Looked like the dog's breakfast, but shredded chicken usually does. I could (probably) have taken a (slightly) more attractive photo, but I was too hungry to mess around with camera setting. Point, shoot, feed the grue.
Slow Cooker Chicken Verde

Ingredients
1 lb frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
16 oz jar salsa verde [Archer Farms Mild Roasted Salsa Verde]
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 oz neufchâtel cheese, cut into small cubes
Dried cilantro, as desired

Directions
Coat slow cooker insert with a little cooking spray. Pour enough salsa verde to coat the bottom of the insert. Add the chicken. Top with remaining salsa verde. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Using two forks, shred chicken. Stir in cream cheese and cilantro. Let sit until cream cheese is melted. Give everything a good stir. Serve over rice.
I thought this dish was a little salty, but The Husband disagreed and I seem to be really salt sensitive recently, so ymmv.

If I were to make this again, I might add some red onion in with the salsa verde and stir in a can of white beans with the cream cheese and cilantro.

12 September 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Birds of a feather ...

The birds! The birds!
... flock together! Presume the lawn is full of deliciousness.

11 September 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: Books That Make You Think


For this week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the delightsome Broke & Bookish, we talk about the top ten books that make (made) us think. My list turned out to be full of nonfiction, which shouldn't have surprised me, but it did.
  1. After the Flood by Margaret Atwood (Chickie nobs! God’s Gardeners! *Shudder*)
  2. Betsy and the Great World by Maud Hart Lovelace (World War One and the death of naiveté)
  3. Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran (The Green Zone, Baghdad, manifest destiny)
  4. Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum (the world has changed so much and become so much smaller)
  5. The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls by Joan Jacobs Brunberg
  6. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (yes, two by Atwood)
  7. The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride Daniel James Brown (ordinary people making terrible decisions)
  8. The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (how the world will go on without us and how our mighty works will crumble to dust).
  9. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (the evolution of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and fundamentalist/schismatic Mormons)
  10. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr (the rise of Nazism through the eyes of a little Jewish girl)

10 September 2012

Zucchini, Pasta, & Stuff

I'd planned on stuffed zucchini for Sunday dinner, but one of my zucchini developed a horrible squishy spot and could no longer fulfill its duties as a boat for holding delicious sausage, cheese, and mushrooms. So, instead, I made pasta sauce from all the stuffed zucchini ingredients and served them over whole grain penne!

Sunday Night Pasta

Maybe not as awesome as stuffed zucchini, but still quite tasty and filling.
Very Vegetable Tomato Sauce

Ingredients
9.6 oz pkg Jimmy Dean pre-cooked turkey sausage crumbles
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large carrot, diced small
2 small zucchini, diced small
1 cup sliced mushrooms, chopped
8 oz can low-sodium spaghetti sauce
14 oz can Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 Tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
2 cups whole grain elbow macaroni, cooked as you like
½ cup grated Parmesan

Directions
Saute shallot, garlic, mushrooms, and carrot in a little olive oil until fragrant and shallot is translucent. Add zucchini, sausage crumbles, seasoning blend, fire-roasted tomatoes and tomato sauce. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until sauce is thickened.

Stir in pasta and a quarter cup of Parmesan. Serve sprinkled with remaining Parmesan.

Serves 4.

07 September 2012

Graphic Novel: Gotham City Sirens, Volume 2

Gotham City Sirens: Songs of the Sirens by Paul Dini, Tony Bedard, & Guillem March (DC Comics, 2010)

I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed this compilation. I read the first collection, Union, last year and all I really remember was the amazing display of T&A. And, yes, there's still a lot of fan service-y T&A going on, but the story-telling is really well done and, time and time again, successfully distracted me from buttocks as taut, perky, and round as breast ...

Ahem.

Oh, I just loved seeing Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman together. I loved seeing them work together, forging a tentative alliance that might blossom into real friendship one day. Of course, they got into trouble -- a lot of trouble in Songs of the Sirens -- but they got out of it, too. Together.

I'd always dismissed Harley Quinn as a crazed fangirl gone wrong, but her back story is fleshed out quite a bit in Songs of the Sirens and it's much easier to see her as a proper three-dimensional person now. Ditto, Poison Ivy -- although I'm liking her less after seeing her go all megalomaniacal at S.T.A.R. Labs. And, of course, anything about Catwoman thrills me to bits.

Really, can't wait to read the next volume, Strange Fruit, and see what happens with Catwoman's sister and Poison Ivy's new job. Would like to see some resolution for Harley Quinn vis-à-vis Joker, but that may be too much to expect.

And, oh my goodness, there is so much fun Harley Quinn/Poison Ivy/Catwoman art at deviantART! These are two of my faves:

 
Gotham City Kirby Sirens by ~CyanSoul on deviantART


 
GOTHAM CHIBI SIRENS by *AnyaUribe on deviantART

06 September 2012

Too Much Produce: Summer Squash Enchiladas

I bought too much produce this week -- everything looked really good, so I picked up more than I needed and ended up with a fridge packed top to bottom with vegetables. (I know, it's a terrible problem. Right up there will cancer and poverty).

The thing is, I hate waste and I was very much afraid that some of it would go to waste before we got around to eating it. My mother taught me nothing goes in the bin if it can be helped and I still live by that.

Summer Squash Enchiladas

So, behold! The Enchiladas of Squash-y Goodness which used up two squash, a shallot, and an ear of corn ... thereby freeing up enough crisper space that I can kinda-sort see the bottom now. If I squint and angle my head just right.

Summer Squash Enchiladas

Ingredients
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small summer squash, diced [save cob for chowder]
1 ear of corn, shucked and kernels shaved off cob
1 shallot, minced
2 cups enchilada sauce
4 small flour tortillas
2 oz Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Sharp Light cheddar, shredded

Directions
Preheat oven to 400°F. Swirl ½ cup enchilada sauce around bottom of square baker to coat.

Heat a nonstick skillet. Add vegetables and ½ cup enchilada sauce and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until onion is translucent.

Spoon ½ half cup squash mixture down the middle of each tortilla. Top with 1 Tbsp shredded cheese. Roll up and place, seam down, in the baker.

Summer Squash Enchiladas

Top with remaining cup of enchilada sauce and cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. If you like your enchiladas brown and bubbly, as I do, then broil for about 3 minutes. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving (I didn't wait and mine broke when I scooped them out).

Serves 2.


These were really good and I wish I'd made more! Even The Husband liked these and I was sure he'd complain about the lack of meat.

05 September 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Husband With Book

Man Reading
Reading Divergent. Seems to like it a lot. Cats like that he's stationary.

04 September 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: Top 10 Autumn TBR


For this week's Top Ten Tuesday, The Broke and the Bookish ask bloggers to list the top ten books on their autumn TBR (To Be Read) lists. I have chosen to list the top ten(ish) books already waiting on my bookshelves, rather than all the spangly new books being published this autumn, because I own an embarrassment of books. I'd better try to catch up before my birthday and Christmas bring even more books into my house!

Oh, I am such a pie-eyed optimist.

Thomas Hardy
  • Far From the Madding Crowd
  • Under the Greenwood Tree
Charles Dickens
  • Oliver Twist
  • Bleak House (maaaaaybe)
Random Graphic Novels & Manga
  • The Amulet, Volumes 1-4 by Kazu Kibuishi
  • Bride of the Water God, Volumes 3-6 by Mi-Kyung Yun
  • Red String, Volumes 1-4 by Gina Bigs
  • Womanthology: Heroic ed. by Renae De Liz
(Of course, by posting this list, I’ve now told The Husband I haven’t read half the books he’s given me these last few years. Dearest, this doesn’t mean you should stop giving me books. Quite the contrary -- someday the zombies will rise and I'll need something to read while I'm barricaded in our house, surviving on tinned peaches and your love).

03 September 2012

Lazy Labor Day Vittles

Being unsociable people, we celebrated Labor Day not with fireworks and picnics, but with video games and chunky novels. As satisfying as that was, we still needed to eat and so threw a mini picnic. In our living room. In front of our laptops. With the air conditioner rattling away.

And, you know, we had a darn good time.

Oven Barbecued Chicken
Two-Ingredient Oven-Barbecued Chicken Drumsticks

Ingredients
1 lb chicken drumsticks
Barbecue sauce, as needed

Directions
Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Pour some barbecue sauce in a storage container, add drumsticks, and top with more sauce. Put lid on container and shake until chicken is well coated. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line a large baking pan with foil and place a cooling rack on top. Arrange chicken on the rack, pour sauce from container over them, and bake for 30 minutes. Flip and bake for 20 minutes longer. Increase heat to 400° and bake for about 10 to 15 minutes longer or until drumsticks are nicely browned.


Oven Barbecued Chicken


Oven Barbecued Chicken

Let sit 10 minutes. Eat.

Serves 2.

02 September 2012

The Moonstone: The Game

Oh, my darlings, I broke down and bought the hidden object game Mystery Masterpiece: The Moonstone for Mac very late last Wednesday and I have been playing it ever since!


While I can't stop clicking all the things, I'm quite certain I hate the game. Cursor sensitivity is awful -- for many an hour I have rage-faced at my poor laptop, shouting at Sergeant Cuff for saying "I don't see anything special there" when I'm clearly clicking on the last mother frakking horseshoe I was sent to find. Dusting the bottle of laudanum for fingerprints took, I kid you not, 10 minutes as it was quite difficult to figure out where to place the brush to sweep the correct part of the bottle. The air in our living room was positively blue by the time I finished sweeping that bottle. (Let's not ponder the likelihood of Cuff fingerprinting anything in 1846).

So why do I keep playing this game? Because it is so terrible. It's a train wreck of bad controls and terrible story-telling. Link it with a drinking game and I would play it every weekend.

The game began quite promisingly with the Siege of Seringapatam ... except all the soldiers were classic Revolutionary War red coats with tricorne hats and that was not the garb I expected for 1799 India. I expected something more like this:

Get a load of those gams! Phwoar!
But, whatevs, it's a $2.99 download.

Anyway, it almost doesn't matter that the diamond has been stolen from India as the Indians are barely in the game. While a note I translated from Sanskrit says "you must recover the Moonstone or perish in the attempt," the token Indian doesn't get up to much. Presumably there are more than one, but they are all represented by Raj Gupta, a traveling juggler with an utterly execrable accent.

All the accents are HILARIOUSLY BAD, actually, which just adds to the fun! Ezra Jennings, for example, is Russian with a terrible, terrible faux Mr Chekhov accent. He has hidden a secret will in Dr Candy's office, leaving all his worldly goods to Candy. Also, he has a sick cousin who would like him to send money back to Mother Russia.

Godfrey's much more actively criminal than in the novel -- he's been embezzling from his charities and spikes Franklin's already spiked drink with a hefty dose of laudanum taken from dead Lady Verinder's stash (we never see her alive in the game). Godfrey then watches hallucinating/sleep walking Franklin take the diamond and tells Franklin he'll take the diamond and "keep it safe."

On a happy(?) note, there are no Shivering Sands. ROSANNA DOES NOT DIE. However, she does hang out by "The Muddy Docks" (where I had to find a ship's lever which took forever because WTF does a ship's lever look like?) and I did dig up a literal red herring while investigating her. Roseanna doesn't steal Franklin's nightgown (a bathrobe in the game), but cuts out the bit of dirtied cloth (because that isn't even a little suspicious).

And Sergeant Cuff has the most ridiculous mustache.


Our suspects, such as they are.

01 September 2012

They See Me Wafflin'

Earlier this summer, I broke down and bought a waffle iron. I'd spent weeks before searching and re-searching the same cabinets and closets, looking for the waffle maker we'd brought from our old house. Eventually, The Husband managed to convince me we'd tossed it due to lack of use. So, to the Amazon I went, to procure a new waffle iron (and a waffle cookbook, because why not?).

Wafflin'

I'm really pleased with this Proctor-Silex 26500Y Belgian waffle iron. It's reasonably light, but sturdy, and stores upright between the bread bin and kitchen scale. Every day, I see the waffle iron and so, every day, I think about making waffles. This is much better than with the old waffle iron -- when we had it, it lived in a cupboard and we very seldom thought about making waffles.

Unsurprisingly, I've made waffles a bunch of times now and I have to say the basic batter recipes in the back of Tara Duggan's Waffles: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Every Meal are quite good. I've made the classic, buttermilk, and the breakfast version of the cornmeal waffle batters with very tasty results. If you find Duggan's cookbook at your library, I strongly suggest checking it out.

Another recipe I've made with great success is a variation on the buttermilk waffle recipe that came with the waffle iron. I modified it to use white whole wheat flour and orange or Mexican vanilla extract. I prefer it with orange extract, but the choice of extract really depends on what you plan to top the waffles with.
Whole Grain Waffles

Ingredients

1½ cups organic white whole wheat flour [King Arthur Flour]
1½ tsp baking powder [Bakewell Cream]
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

½ cups nonfat organic buttermilk [Butterworks Farm]
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs [Farmers Cow]
1 capful extract of choice

Directions
In a medium bowl, whisk together first set of (dry) ingredients and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together second set of (wet) ingredients. Add wet bowl to dry bowl and stir until batter is thoroughly mixed. Batter will be very thick and fluffy.

Cook your waffles according to the manufacturer's directions. For my Belgian waffle iron, each waffle took 1 scant cup batter and cooked for 5 minutes. Lay cooked waffles on a sheet pan in a warm oven to keep while you make the remainder.
The Husband eats his waffles smeared with Nutella so he was really pleased with the addition of orange extract to the batter -- every delicious forkful tasted of melted Terry's Chocolate Orange and waffle.

If you'd like a more orange-y waffle, you could stir in some orange zest. Mmm. Orange zest, orange extract, and mini chocolate chips would be awesome!