Friday, January 30, 2015

The foliage was a bit intense.

My brain apparently keeps a back catalog of things left unsaid, and when I can't sleep in the wee hours of the morning, it trots out memories demanding justice. This time I found myself writing a suggestion box comment for a restaurant I went to in June 2013.

"The food was great. The service was forgettable. The foliage was a bit intense."

Although, now that this stupid memory has gotten me out of bed to write a blog post about it, I'm feeling a more straightforward suggestion would be to drop this picture in the box, with ultimately no caption necessary:

There. Are you happy now, brain?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Moral Dilemma: Seaweed Edition

Say you’re shopping at Trader Joe’s on a Sunday afternoon. You only get to that side of town once a week, at most, and you’ve been hankering for some roasted seaweed snacks for a while now. Finally you remembered when you were at the store! With luck, you manage to safely navigate your cart past the crowded sample station and into the snack and fresh fruits aisle. Since it is so crazy busy in there, your spouse says he will retrieve the seaweed off the 2nd-from-the-bottom shelf if you want to stand with the cart out of the way by the bananas. You say, “Thanks! I’d like 6.” He comes back with 3 packages of seaweed and says, “There are only 6 left. Do you want them all, or should we leave some for the other shoppers?”

How many packages of roasted seaweed snacks do you buy?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Turning a Phrase

You may never make a living doing what you want, but that doesn't mean you can't make a life of it. Turning phrases will be my thing. “Oh her?” they’ll say of me, “That’s just crazy, ol’ Ramblin' Rachel. She made a life of turning phrases. Never turned much of a profit, though!”

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Chicken Satay Skewers and Yogurt Sauce

For a New Year’s Eve party, we made a double-batch of these Chicken Satay Skewers from Martha Stewart. For once, I actually followed the recipe exactly, except that we grilled them on the George Foreman grill instead of making them on a grill pan. The chicken turned out well, but the dipping sauce was so deplorable I didn’t even try to serve it to anyone. It tasted exactly like peanut butter and vinegar which it turns out is not that tasty together, IMHO. I liked the chicken well enough to do again, and the only thing I would change is to maybe marinate it in the garlic sauce for longer in hopes that it would retain more of those flavors.
Chicken Satay Skewers
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each), thinly sliced lengthwise into 12 strips
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • Vegetable oil, for pan

In a bowl, toss chicken with sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon of the red-pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Thread each chicken strip lengthwise onto a skewer. Make dipping sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, vinegar, remaining 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, and 2 to 3 tablespoons water. Heat grill pan over high. Working in batches, brush pan with oil, and cook chicken until opaque throughout, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Serve chicken skewers with dipping sauce. (From the Martha Stewart website)

We had a number of skewers left over after the party that we ate warmed (but plain) for awhile, but then today I got the brilliant idea to take them in a different direction since I needed a lunch but wouldn’t have access to a microwave. “Wouldn’t they make a nice base for a tasty yogurt sauce?” I thought, and indeed they did! I found this recipe (the intro to which was tl:dr—sorry! I was in a hurry to catch the bus!) and followed it fairly closely other than that I didn’t measure anything, only made about a half cup, forgot the olive oil, and didn’t have any coriander handy. Also no fresh herbs, so I went with some dried dill.

Basic Yogurt Sauce
Makes about 2 cups
In a medium bowl combine:
  • 1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
  • 1/2 an English hothouse cucumber, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • 2 tablespoons fresh herbs (any combination of dill, mint, cilantro, and basil)

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Let sit for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld.
(From the Joy of Cooking website)

The yogurt sauce was so delicious with my cold chicken skewers and cut up veggies! I thought maybe I’d save some for Matt to try, but alas, I pretty much licked the dish clean, which I can do when I’m sitting by myself in my studio with the curtains drawn. I was so proud of myself for A.) eating leftovers, B.) packing a lunch, and C.) eating healthy that I decided to blog to tell the world about it post haste. With all that and a blog post added to my credit, I feel I’ve definitely earned that leftover serving of tiramisu I also packed myself!

Monday, January 5, 2015


How do people in construction deal with all the noise? I don’t feel so bad for the guy running the machine because he knows when he will start and stop and he gets the adrenaline rush of using a dangerous piece of equipment near his fragile human body. It’s the guys next to him, holding the “SLOW” sign or waiting to hand him the next piece of wood to cut that I think it’s worse for. They are SO CLOSE to the noise without being in control of it.

My dad worked in construction for many years. He was a strong, able man, that gave his body, his youth, and his hearing to the profession. And in living that hard life, he died younger than many. I wish I had ask him what it’s like to be making so much noise all day long. Although, I couldn’t have called him on the phone. I mean, I could, and I did, but with the hearing loss, talking was not the easiest way to communicate. I suppose I should have written. I do fancy myself a writer after all. And I am a fast typer. But my dad never learned to type. He typed out a message once and my step-mom said it took him 30 minutes to get three sentences. We never found our stride, our way to exchange thoughts or ideas or feelings or information. I think we just guessed about each other a lot, and took action accordingly. It wasn’t because we didn’t care, because we did. We just didn’t know how to change. We didn’t know what questions to ask. We didn’t want to screw up what we had, maybe, and didn’t want to take risks to make it better.

I understand at this moment what “there’s a lump in my throat” means. I have that. And I’m so happy that someone figured out how to describe that physical response to an emotional situation. I’m glad that even though it’s a cliche thing to say, that because it is we know that it is a feeling that other humans feel and we are not alone when we have felt it. Like how we wonder sometimes if green to one person is the same as green to another person. We don’t need to wonder with the “lump in my throat” situation. Life has enough mysteries—let’s occasionally celebrate one we’ve already figured out and cataloged.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

On the Benefits of Nocturnal Musing for Insomniac Persons

What I write in my head
While I'm lying in bed
Remains often unread
But at least not unsaid.

(Credit to Matt for an assist in writing this poem.)