In no particular order.
• Children who drive like shit, cut you off and laugh about it.
• National pharmacy chains that buy out other ones but can't seem to train their staff AT ALL for the transition.
• Drive through pharmacists who don't acknowledge you.
• Pharmacy lines.
• Insurance companies: this time it's how stupid they are. I take one med monthly that costs ~$90 full price. I pay $50 copay for it. Meanwhile, the $314 drug I take costs $25. I'm not complaining (now), but WTF?
• People who ramble off topic in meetings when you're supposed to be coming up with some results.
• People who try to turn every conversation you have with them into therapy*
• People who show up late for appointments.
• People who think that being in control of a group means yelling at them and "showing them who's in charge."
• Dump trucks who cut you off and speed, listing dangerously.
• Religious people who are perky while calling your peeps sinners.
• Not having a roommate yet.
• It being a few days before my one-year quit date and not having the funds to get myself a new computer like I promised. See above.
• Having native Spanish speakers be surprised that an AMERICAN can speak another language.
• Having native Spanish speakers (from Spain, even) say that the crap I'm speaking these days is SO SO SO GOOD! (It's all relative, I suppose. Perfectionism? Pshaw!!)
• Recognizing that I realllllllly need to get a handle on my fitness/eating quantities, but not doing much about it yet.
• Realizing that I'm being a perfectionist.
• Mulling over the WHY behind my recent non-compliance of the cig ban, though only when having drunk too much beer.
• Old "friends" who get in touch with you out of the blue after vanishing over a year ago. Two years? Dunno. Bad memory here. ("friends" in this case indicates some extra friendly [ahem] behavior having been attached)
• People who know you're in a hurry and working hard and yet say "I know you're really busy, but can you help me with this personal project?" (and they have a degree of power over you and so you can't say no)
• People who come to you to bitch about other people.
• Having to tell people to talk to the hand.
• Varmints that are NOT AFRAID OF BLOW-UP OWLS OR SNAKES! AAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!
• Home Owner's Associations
• New construction
• Not having time for lunch until 3 p.m.
(I keep coming back and adding more)
• People who deal with conflict by refusing to return phone calls. In a professional situation.
*I may be guilty of this at times. Not all times. This person CANNOT have a conversation with resorting to self-analysis and AMIRITE? validation queries.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
In no particular order.
Monday, July 30, 2007
I thought I was sick of tomatoes after that 60 lbs I processed this weekend. Apparently all it took for me to crave them again was day of sleeping and feeling vaguely oogy.
Dinner tonight was also local, and a little more impressive than yesterday's. So if you want, count this one as the One Local Summer meal #6.
Cream of tomato soup is one of those extreme comfort foods, and I went for it today. Lunch AND dinner. I improved on the recipe for dinner, so I'll give you that one.
--1/2 cup reduced tomato sauce. (Basically this is just pure tomatoes in their juice, reduced to about half of their original volume. Concentrated happiness, I think of it)
--one pinch of baking soda. (you heard me. Tomatoes are acidic. Acid plus milk=curdle. Curdle is vomit-inducing in the wrong context.)
-- 1 cup milk
--salt to taste
Stir together the tomatoes and baking soda in a microwavable, one-serving bowl. Add salt. 1/4 tsp, maybe? When the mixture stops fizzing (totally fun!), stir in 1 cup of good quality milk. I used Mapleview Farm (warning: moo) whole milk.
Heat through in the microwave.
This really showcases good tomatoes. There are essentially two ingredients plus salt and an anti-curdling agent.
Extra good with grilled cheese.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
We're halfway through, huh?
It's the top of the summer, and so there's lots to be had out there for local eats. I've noticed that I'm eating much better food and more local than not. This is just the level of non-stressful goal that I succeed with, this One Local Summer project.
My foray into canning tomatoes today has left me, oh, limp as a rag. So no fancy several course meals are on the horizon this week.
I'm too exhausted even to have taken pictures. Here. Enjoy the Maola logo instead.
This is a Sunday Dinner meal. Did you have those? They're mid-afternoon and usually the only meal of the day? Yeah. That's what I did today. Only it wasn't organized.
(Can you tell I'm hungover? I make no sense.)
Sunday Dinner, One Local Summer Style:
Baba Ganoush made from blackened local eggplants (I didn't pay attention to which farm I used!), local garlic, non-local tahini, and salt and a teense of citric acid (leftover from canning).
I ate it hot and straight from the blender. Holy shit was it good. Num Num.
Tomatoes. I ate these as I canned. Lots of them.
Maola chocolate ice-cream from the container. Just enough to satisfy my sweets craving.
Time for a nap. Yawn.
Maybe just maybe you can help me understand why I thought that third 20-lb box of tomatoes was a good idea.
Here are some pictures of the process involved with putting up 18 quarts of tomatoes with approximately 15 lbs left to boil down for sauce. Which I think I'll freeze. I am VERY sick of canning.
Below: 60 lbs in the boxes. The plate has my tomatoes and two eggplants that will soon be baba ganoush. Outside the window you can see the scary snake that is going to eat any birds that DARE to approach the tomatoes.
Next: The first batch that came out of the canner had some issues. Half the jars didn't seal, which typically corresponded with the ones that seemed to lose 1/3 of their contents during the time spent processing in the canner. In reality, I messed up by not squishing the tomatoes in tight enough with this first round. I reprocessed the ones I needed to. By the way, 85 minutes is a LONG time to boil, but that's what the instructions I came up with said.
After the third round of quarts went into the canner, I still had loads of tomatoes left. They barely all fit in the large, enormous, vast slow-cooker Marianne so graciously gave me last fall. I use it All. The. Time.
Ok, I've got to take the last set of jars out of the canner and hope they seal. If not, I'll just make some more sauce or something. Cause I am truly sick of canning. Whew.
Oh, it's also time to scoop out the smoky eggplant.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Tomorrow in the early a.m. I go to the farmer's market and pick up my 1/2 price bulk tomatoes suitable for canning.
Then I'll come home and proceed to warm up my house all day (and possibly the next day, too) socking away my access to local tomatoes all winter. It won't be the same as the fresh tomatoes of summer, but considering my first foray into canned tomatoes, I'm pretty sure they'll be better than store-canned. They'll definitely use fewer resources, support local farmers and possibly kill me if I don't do things right. Botulism, baby.
So lemme link to the guidelines I'll be using (warning: PDF). Have I mentioned how much I love cooperative extensions?
What I'm hoping to do with this particular entry is to map out a plan for tomorrow so that I don't get really sick of canning within the first hour. It's likely to be a pretty lengthy process, what with sterilizing jars, blanching and peeling the 'maters, adding citric acid to get the PH in the right range, stuffing the jars, adding boiling water and processing the filled quarts.
I have four burners. During the canning process I'll need:
- One burner to heat the blanching water with.
- One burner to boil water on to fill up the space not taken up by tomato solids. Ideally, two burners for this, but hey, I only have four total.
- One burner for keeping the lids in warm but not boiling water (making the rubber most pliable, I suppose.
- One burner for the canner
Here are the detailed steps I'll take. I've tried to make this as streamlined as possible without sacrificing food safety in the least.
- Sterilize jars in the dishwasher.
- Get water in the canner boiling. It takes forever.
- Boil the water in my pasta pot with the strainer.
- Get out a BIG bowl of cold water with ice in it.
- Get water boiling in the tea kettle.
- Put lids and rings into hot water. Keep hot but not boiling.
- When pasta pot water is boiling, lower several tomatoes into it and blanch for a few minutes, until the skin is loosened (notch the end with a knife first. Makes for easier peeling.
- Dump tomatoes into cold water to stop them from cooking.
- Add 1/2 tsp citric acid to quart jars.
- Peel and stuff into quart jars after cutting out the top cores and any bad/unripe spots.
- Repeat steps 6-9 until you have ~5 quarts (or however many fit into the canner at once) filled as much as possible with tomatoes
- Pour boiling water into the quart jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
- Wipe jar rims.
- Put lids on (adjust so it looks like they'll get a good seal)
- Put rings on.
- Lower the quarts into the canner with the jar-lowerer-tool.
- Bring water back to a boil and let the jars boil for 45-50 minutes.
- Carefully set the quarts on a towel. Do not touch or nudge for 24 hours.
- Listen for the pop.
- Start again at step one. Repeat as necessary until your tomatoes are all processed.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
If I have to keep picking my tomatoes when barely pink in order to stop the evil little varmints that are taking bites out of them, I will soon kill someone.
Granted, my tactic so far has been one of distraction; I don't love my patio tomatoes (Extreme Bush variety, which is at least my favorite name), so they've become the martyrs.
I'm going to think out loud here for a minute. In an urban setting, what creatures are available that would take one bite out of a ripening tomato and then move on to the next to do the same? More information: some tomatoes are in a raised bed (1 foot up), and some are in containers (2 feet off the ground). Green tomatoes don't get attacked (yet). The riper the tomato, the more likely they will be attacked. Tomatoes that are lower on the plant are more likely to be bitten, but height doesn't seem to be a total deterrent. About 75% of the affected tomatoes are lower than most. The bottoms are usually, though not always, the area of first entry. When I leave the tomatoes on the vine, they'll be eaten little by little. When I take them off and put them on top of the compost pile, they're ignored and left to rot. Other veggies have not been affected. This includes: yellow squash, cantaloupe, peppers, cucumbers, greens, beets, and beans.
These are my guesses:
If 1) then some chicken wire will help, especially if combined with cayenne. If 2), then it seems only cayenne would potentially help. I say potentially because it eventually stopped working with my birdfeeders and so I've stopped filling them. If 3), then I might get a blow-up Owl.
What's your opinion? What is it, and what should I do?
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
I saw your recent blog post and wanted to solve the little mystery you posed to your readers. Our editor who lives in the Research Triangle was a reader of your blog, and loved the hyperlocal aspect of your content, so she added your blog to our system. We have your feed included in our site and thus automatically grab all posts. You can view your posts that are linked to our Place pages on your outside.in blogmap here. (The more specific locations and Places you blog about, the more that show up on that map.
We have a new feature that helps bloggers submit location information to our site, the outside.in "where" tag, which would be great for your blog. If you add the "where" tag to the text for your posts that refer to a specific location (farm stand, etc.) you can add either the zip code or specific address. Then your post will show up on the correct page in outside.in automatically. Check out our new features for adding content here.
If you're curious about our site and the principles behind it, click through here.
Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have about our features, submission guidelines, or site in general.
Marco came over! He was ready to EAT.
He contributed to the cause by bringing a nice 6-pack of Duck Rabbit Porter. YUM!
We ate well and too much. After the below dinner, we went to Locopops, skipping the fruit salad I had prepared (cantaloupe, blueberries courtesy of Lyon Farms). Oops.
The meal contained:
- Mapleview Farm butter
- Indian stripe tomatoes from the garden
- Pink beefsteak tomatoes from the garden
- Green Zebra tomatoes from Harland's Creek Farm
a farm in Pittsboro that I will come back and link to
- Fresh mozz from Chapel Hill Creamery
- Potato salad made with Duke's mayo (Ew. Sorry. I'm one of the few who really dislikes Duke's), my pickles, my onions, mustard, NC potatoes, eggs from Latta's farm in Hillsborough, salt, pepper, vinegar
- Mixed greens (chard, sorrel and beet greens--garden) with garlic from L'il Farm out of White Cross, NC
- Cuke/red pepper salad, based on Jamie's recipe. Seasonings from afar, veggies from my garden. Overall? YUM.
- Summer squash and onions, caramelized with butter, salt and pepper.
- Bread from Guglhupf bakery
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Any readers/lurkers want to help me figure out a mystery?
I looked at my site tracker this a.m. and was surprised to see I'd been linked from a service called outside.in. I'm not familiar with their site, and it actually looks pretty cool.
However, from what I can tell, someone has to be actively submitting my blog entries to be shown on their front page. Hey, that's cool. But WHO is it???
It's driving me crazy.
Outside in Submitter, will you please stand up*?
*While we're clearing up mysteries, where does that quote come from? It's something like a game show, I think. It's like Montel Williams's "Let's welcome Outside In to the show."
Pardon the crude title. Saturday, I found out this morning, Pedro's mother, Grandma Elaine, died. Keash's mom, Liz, died a couple of weeks ago. That means that in the last month, two of my surviving three grandparents have died. Since Christmas, it's actually three of four who've died. Remember Lewis?
That means I've only got Grandma left. Of all the eight (nine?) grandparents I began with, Grandma has always been my favorite. She's the one who worked when other women didn't. She had an urban garden much like mine is now. She's my hero. She was the one who used to mow her lawn with a reel mower, and she is the one who gave me mini-boxes of sugar cereal. She's the one who taught me about sprinkling white sugar on home-grown lettuce and rolling it up for a very special treat from the Great Depression.
She talks in baby talk to both children and animals. She tells me stories about my mom's childhood and gives me the pictures Mom would rather I not have, but which I treasure. She comes to me with personal questions and tells me secrets. I love my Grandma, and I'm really worried now. When she dies, it will be a very different level of sadness and grief that I'll have to process. It's hitting home that Gram isn't going to last forever, no matter how much I want her to.
Remember how I call local anything that I've obtained at its point of origin, as long as nobody spent extra gas/shipping, etc to get it to me? So visiting Jamie and picking up some eggs makes those eggs local because I'd visit Jamie even if it weren't for the eggs?
I am now probably the only One Local Summer participant with seriously local coffee. Ethiopia Harrar, in fact.
Marco presented me a pound or so of beans that make the blessed nectar when we met up for dinner last night.
It woke me up this morning it was so fragrant. And that's before brewing, before grinding, before even taking it out of the ziplock it traveled in.
Monday, July 23, 2007
NB: this is NOT my meal post. That will come later this week. I will not be eating cat, either.
That said, this IS my planning post. I want tomorrow's dinner to be absolutely fantastic, since I'll be cooking for my buddy Marc. I may have mentioned him before. ;-)
Marc, whose family and friends think the "Stew" that comments on his blog a) is a gay man and b) has a crush on Marc (neither of which is true, though I do love him), is a vegetarian and does not like beets. He has requested something with sweet potatoes, greens, cornmeal mush, and whatever else I want.
I can't find a picture of Marc other than the one I posted the other day, so I've included one of his feline pal, Janet. She's a cutie.
OK, so herein lies the conundrum. Remember, Janet is unrelated to this post, other than being cute and representing Marc. I don't want anyone to even come close to thinking that I want to eat her. Of course, if I were not allergic, I'd "eat her up with a spoon" kind of eat her, but, um, I'm not.
Back to the problem. I don't WANT sweet potatoes and polenta and greens. I want tomatoes and corn and, ok, greens. I have fresh mozz I bought this weekend, and I have some gorgeous tomatoes. And feta. And mint. And beans and, and, and....
So. I throw this question out to you. How do I best satisfy these four constraints:
2) Comfort food for Marc
3) Taking advantage of seasonal ingredients.
In addition to what I've already mentioned, I have a stockpile of other local things: milk, flour eggs, butter, onions, garlic, herbs, self-rising cornmeal, chard, sorrel, 'maters, canned peaches, various jams, pickles, dried cherries, cantaloupe, blueberries, and probably more that I'm forgetting. Oh. Red wine. And I made some potato salad with all local ingredients yesterday that I could offer up.
In addition, I can do a quick run to Whole Paycheck and pick up buttermilk, cream, and any other basic ingredient that's in season. I'm assuming any sweet potatoes we have access to are from NC, since it's apparently our largest food crop. I'd not put it over on the grocers to order from elsewhere, but dang. If I lived in California and they shipped in, say, Michigan artichokes, I'd be really annoyed.
I don't know what I'm saying. I guess just help me figure out what to do. I have no time between now and then, either.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
So, I was over reading Xta's new blog and made a comment. She has word verification turned on, and for the first time I noticed that there's a little wheelchair icon next to the field where you type.
Blind people! I clicked.
It is extremely bizarre to hear how a visual word verification translates to an auditory one. I was lost. Check it out yourself, with any Blogger blog that's got word verification turned on.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Day one of saving tomato seeds.
In case you can't read the crappy labels, we've got green zebra on the left and pink beefsteak on the right.
I almost didn't do this right; I still may have to re-do with more seeds. We'll see come spring. With tomato seeds you apparently have to ferment them before they'll germinate, and so I had to dig into the compost to get some of the fruit (which I totally ate once the seeds were out).
If it seems not to ferment, I can have a do over in a couple of days.
Friday, July 20, 2007
I just met Cristin for the first time. At Food Lion. In line. I cut. Well, really, I just took advantage of my superb line-opening spotting skills and did a woosh-in. The cashier told me to!!
Sorry! But otherwise I'd not have seen her face and freaked her out and stuff. And then we wouldn't be getting lunch tomorrow.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Tonight was the first time I ever heard "Oh, YOU're Lastewie!" in real life.
I was supposed to meet The Bull in Full months ago, considering he lives one block over from me and is friends with Philindo. I didn't expect him to be at this focus group and yet...things...began...to...fall...into...place.
After we finished up I had deduced he was indeed the neighbor that had neglected to come to my party, and whose party I had avoided due to some bout of antisocialitude (love made up words). The same guy who eventually dropped me off a compact fluorescent light bulb in my mailbox after we had missed being in the same place at the same time twice or so.
It was like a reunion. Hugs and all. And then...
Stew, meet our facilitator, Endangered Durham.
It's not too late to sign up for the NC State West
Durham focus group this evening, July 19th at the
Durham Cooperative Extension Office at 721 Foster St.
(http://durham.ces.ncsu.edu/) (across from the Central
Park School for Children) at 6:30 pm.
We expect the meeting to last 2 hrs, and we will
supply dinner. We're not representing or directly
advising Durham Parks & Rec.
However, we will use the results to develop
conclusions that we hope will be helpful in shaping
policy to support physical activity for kids, which
will be shared with Durham Parks & Rec.
Please call xxx-8345 today if you are interested in
coming – we can accommodate about 3 additional people.
Yesterday I showed up to a weekly standing program, only to find a note on the door that said the group had gone to the movies. I called the adult's phone number that was left on the door, and they said the kids were on their way back and had left 15-20 minutes previously. Since the trip from where they were to where I was only takes about 15 minutes, I said I'd wait another 15 minutes and then would have to leave, as I was missing another important meeting to be there with them.
They didn't come within another 15 minutes, and I left. Kind of pissed to have wasted my time.
So this morning I get a message scolding me rather strongly for having left and demanding that I call each week to make sure I was really planning on coming. They had left the movies EARLY to be back for my programming, only to find me not there.
I bet the kids were terribly disappointed. At leaving the movie, that is.
How this could have been avoided: If you want to go to the movies when I'm supposed to be meeting with you, that's fine. Just call and let me know. I can reschedule. But if you're not there, don't expect me to wait more than 15 minutes.
The adult had also misunderstood something I had said on the phone (probably because the conversation on that side took place IN the theater DURING a movie). There was the impression that I had said that I had planned to leave early to go to this other meeting, thus shorting their kids of the programming. Not true. I went to the other meeting because their kids weren't showing up. I hope I cleared that up with my email explaining things from my point of view. That we have people not show up, and how that negatively affects the programming we can offer the whole community.
The one thing that I can see from the other side is that the adult did tell me they were on the way, but an extra 15 minutes made me think they had stopped somewhere along the way and could be further delayed.
But seriously, I don't see how anyone can get angry at me because they were late.
So why do I feel defensive?
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
I ain't some all-local, all-veggie eating girl. I'm just not. As a kid I always liked crap like twinkies more than my mom's wheat germ carob and raisin cookies. (Carob sucks no matter what.)
So I'm not perfect, even though I've been eating better these days. I've noticed that when I talk about eating local food, fresh veggies and the like, some people get a little, ahem, defensive.
No, not you. OTHER people I know. Of course I like people to like me, but I also want them to respect me. I'm about as open and honest as anyone I know. Or at least I try to be.
I've lost track of where I was going with this. (rolling eyes at myself)
The prompt for writing, though, was that today I've eaten:
- 2 cups coffee with half-n-half and splenda
- 2 HOT krispy kreme donuts, original glazed
- 3 crispy taco bell tacos
- 2 bags of baked lays, dipped in spicy queso
- 1 large diet pepsi
- 2 cold krispy kreme donuts (hey, at least they're local)
If you WANTED to, you could look up all that information and find out just how many crap calories I've had today. Please don't.
I think my point may have been something about currying favor by talking about not just the "good" choices I make, but also the "bad" ones, like today. Makes me more human. Or something.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I came home to find my patio tomatoes ravished. Ants crawled in and out of the ginormo holes that had been pecked into the lovely fruits of my labor.
This means WAR!
(I'm not sure what I'm going to do about it. Maybe nothing.)
Email I received today:
Dear Employer Partners,
To thank you for all of your help and support of BLAH BLAH technical institute, we would like to invite you to participate in our Massage Clinic.
These clinics are open to you and your staff, so please post and/or email the attached flyer to your fellow employees.
Please note, when making a reservation, be sure to mention that you were referred by BBTI and reference your company.
Services & Prices
All Massages are 60 minutes in duration.
- Swedish: $15.00
- Therapeutic: $20.00
- Hot Stone: $25.00
- Aromatherapy Add-On: $10.00
Posted by Stew at 3:40 PM
Monday, July 16, 2007
I was outside for 12 minutes this evening. I came in with 15 new mosquito bites. I've got dual treatment going on: hydrocortisone topically, and loretadine down the hatch.
Big Lots, which I've mentioned before as a favorite shopping excursion, provided me with a semi-permanent eyelash tint that is as disturbing as it is fascinating. I thought it would be kind of like hair dye, but it more resembles mascara. Clumpy, if you're not careful. But I'll be damned if it doesn't just stay on for a week or more. No flaking, no raccoon eyes...it's just there. Pretty damned cool. Of course once I run out, I doubt I'll be able to find more. Eh, that's the breaks.
I've been eating about 75% local, which surprises me. It's so much easier when you don't have the lack-of-income issue and it's summer. The biggest change, by far, though, is the garden. It's SO convenient. I'm a little pissy that I don't have more tomatoes though. I've been eating about .5 to .75 lbs a day, but could easily double that. I'm supplementing with farmer's market tomatoes. I've got my pink beefsteaks ripening, and other than that I'm practically tomato-less. GAH!
My compost is looking more like dirt with every flip. Rowr.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
As I've mentioned before, I do much better cooking on the weekends. It's the extra time. If I get a bee in my bonnet to make my first homemade egg noodles, well, LET'S ROLL!
I used the egg noodle recipe from my first edition (9th printing) 1953 BH&G New Cookbook. It was the simplest I found. I didn't spend a long time looking.
After making the stiff dough, rolling it out thin and letting it rest for 20 minutes, you roll it up like a jellyroll, and then slice it thinly.
Laying*the cut noodles out to dry for a couple of hours, you can see how rustic they look. My mom had a noodle-cutting device when I was growing up that looked like a pizza cutter with 5-6 sections. All the noodles end up uniform that way, and really, it's easier. But not as cute.
Maggie's meal last week made me crave protein, specifically in the form of fish. I was lucky enough that Whole Foods was selling NC rainbow trout. I bought two fillets, and stuck one in the freezer for later.
Here's what I ended up with today for Sunday dinner:
Pan fried rainbow trout, hush puppies, green and wax beans, egg noodles (with butter, raw milk "pheta" and parsley) and tomatoes. Dessert, not pictured, was cantaloupe**.
Rainbow Trout: NC, otherwise unknown
Canola oil: not local as far as I know.
House Autry breading (trout) and self-rising cornmeal (hushpuppies). 45 miles.
Vegetables (beans, tomatoes, onions, parsley). 0 miles, garden.
Egg noodles: Southern Biscuit flour (146 miles), Maola milk (152 miles) and an egg from visiting Jamie.
Butter: Mapleview farm (16 miles)
Pheta: Chapel Hill Creamery 19 miles
This was REALLY a good meal. I ate the whole thing.
*This is one of my many language pet peeves.
**I've saved the seeds. Anyone want some?
Last time you saw my garden it looked kind of like this:
Well, if things haven't changed! Here's what it looks like today.
Same row, different view:
Peppers (not sure what kind! Hopefully Frigitello, but more likely jalapeño. Also the back of the cukes:
My biggest producer: Pink Beefsteak. It was also my first "real" tomato! (i.e. not a cherry)
Zinnia: I wish I had more that were double petaled.
Sorrel: this might be moved soon, as I need a big planter for my new fig tree.
Why look what I found growing on my non-plot plot!
Melon in the works: (It's caged and climbing)
Why are there so many melon-fetuses that begin to get going good and then yellow and drop off?
My sad looking yellow squash plant. Any ideas what could be wrong? FYI, it's hard for me to distinguish "brown dust" at the base that could help diagnose squash borers, since I'm using sawdust to mulch. Might not be doing that next year. I've only been blessed with two squashes this season. There's been a lot of the mini-veg formation and drop off, just as with the melons. What is that from????
Similarly, my cukes are getting peaked. Note how the leaves are yellowish and now browning out at the edges. I've had much yield from these, though. No dropping off of babies.
What I haven't posted pics of: the beets, which seem to be flourishing, if a little small still. The beans, which I'm surprised to see have been producing for weeks and seem not to have plans to slow anytime soon. The other tomatoes, including the patio tomatoes (extreme bush), which kind of suck and I won't be planting again. Also: Indian Stripe, which survived despite my best efforts to kill it through agressive hardening off, sunburn and planting in a sterilite container with no drainage. Until I knifed some cuts into it, that is. Mr. Stripy, a disappointment in its lack of fruit. My one sweet pepper, almost red.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
I should know better than to go shopping without a concrete plan. I dropped approximately $100 today on lord knows what, but 100% of that will either be consumed or used to create consumables.
Along the journey, which included treks to the local farmer's market, Whole Paycheck, Big Lots and SuperCompare, I had quite a few fun conversations.
Here are some of the highlights:
• Been reading Barbara Kingsolver, have you?
• Come visit my vineyard!
• In Spanish: No, we don't sell citric acid. Try the pharmacy.
• At the pharmacy: No, we don't sell citric acid. Try Whole Paycheck.
• I like to look, too. That's why I can't stop looking at you. It's such a pleasure. (In Spanish)
• Two flats from us on July 28 will be $20 each. At today's prices that would be $44!
• These do well in a pot. Great! I'll hold it for you until you're done shopping.
Friday, July 13, 2007
My sweet dear friend Marc (at left) is in the US of A as we speak! He emailed me from Michigan, and then we hooked up over IM. We tried to audio conference, but I don't have a microphone at work.
I heard his voice for the first time in over a year, though ("Can you hear me?"), and I'm a little weepy with joy.
I've missed him! He's one of my closest NC friends, but he lives in stupid Africa now. (Stupid only because it took my friend away)
He's coming to NC in about 10 days, and I plan to monopolize as much of his time as he'll allow. PLUS he can comment on my blog now!
My boss just told me to go home. I'm happy.
Sheesh, moodswings, much?
Beware. This is a rant.
I rarely get my dander up. It's not that I avoid anger entirely, but I have indeed realized that a strong display of pissedoffedness just doesn't usually get you anywhere. And it feels bad to be this mad.
That said, I FUCKING HATE health insurance companies. I've been getting denied claims (or rather my providers have) because my current insurers have decided that I have other health insurance! And that that insurance is PRIMARY!
I'm getting (nice) calls from my providers, who want to get paid, understandably, for the services they've already given me. So I called my new insurance company, who seem to think that it's a good idea to include both Christian and war-related imagery in their logo and name. The color they use to brand themselves is even facial warpaint related. FUCKERS.
They told me that I indicated that I had a different primary insurance when I applied. I did no such thing. I asked them to send me a copy of that application for me to verify, and they refused.
So I get to jump through hoops. FUCKERS. Health insurance has fucked me approximately 9,000 times in the past, denying claims and preying on my admitted weakness of not being 100% on top of things at all times. I'm sure there are those out there that would say it's my fault for making mistakes or not filing things perfectly.
I say to those people: FUCK YOU. This health insurance is paid for, and it's the health insurance company's responsibility to pay for my stupid expenses if I am covered. WHICH I AM.
Nonetheless, I now get to rustle up some obscure piece of paper that says I am no longer covered by insurance company #1. In theory, I was sent this information. I have every piece of paper I've received over the last 6 months, so if I received it, I have it. If I didn't receive it, which is just as likely as not, then I get to try to finagle a copy of the paperwork from a company that is no longer responsible for my coverage. I'm no longer their client, so why would they want to do this in a timely fashion?
THEN I get to fax that piece of paper, provided I can even get it, to the new insurance company. I also have to make sure I use the correct information, using mysterious specific wording/triggerwords/keywords/phraseology in my fax. Cause you know, most people have fax machine readily available. They can't just take my word for it. NO. I get to run the insurance company gauntlet. I'm sure they hope I just give in. FUCKERS.
And in the meanwhile, I am ultimately responsible for the expenses I have. There's nothing stopping the providers from sending collections after me, unless they happen to have warm hearts.
The system we have to pay for health care is more than flawed. It's immoral. Imagine if I were to need urgent/emergency care right now. I'd be treated. But then I'd be asked to spend months after my recuperation time jumping through needless hoops. FUCKERS.
I'm so angry I am on the verge of tears. Hey, that's how I react to all strong emotions.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
I get to babysit this cute thing again tonight! YAY! I hear the boy has chilled out some since the episode when I almost exploded. I've been advised of the evening routine, and Emily is even going to feed me.
Not that I need it. I've been really damn good at eating locally, which for me also corresponds to eating pretty healthily. Cause you know, convenience is so key in my world. Having a garden has made ALL the difference in my veggie consumption.
Lunch: insalata caprese, deviled eggs, cucumber/beet/dill/onion salad, dilly beans. Copious quantities of all of the above.
I have on a cute new black dress today. $7.49, baby. Unfortunately I didn't notice my underpants are sporting a big ole hole in them. Why I just told everyone that is beyond me.
Photo once again courtesy JRandalls Photography.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Jerrypants tagged me for what might be the best meme evah. He seems to think I'd done it before, but I don't remember. So we're good!
Here's how you play: Once you have been tagged, you have to write a blog with 10 weird or random things, facts, or habits about yourself. At the end, you choose 10 people to be tagged, listing their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says, "Tag, You're it" on their profiles and ask them to read your blog. You can't tag the person who tagged you
- I am one of the last people in the US to get the smallpox vaccine. People my age or younger sometimes think I am from another country. I had a reaction to the cowpox bad enough from it to be hospitalized.
- Another thing people notice about me is that I often cover my nose with the collar of my shirt, as though I smelled something bad. It's not you. I promise. This habit began in the COLD COLD house of my parents. What began as a way to warm up my frozen nostrils is now an unconscious gesture of comfort.
- I chipped my front tooth one time, badly enough to expose the nerve (OUCH!) when I was home alone after school. I was opening a bottle of apple juice. I was young enough that the lid area was in line with my face as the bottle was on the counter. When the lid's seal went, the bottle smashed into my face. Wait. This isn't weird. It just...IS.
- OK. WEIRD. Um...I'm having an problem here with this word WEIRD. It's supposed to be what, negative? I own my oddness, and cherish it. Wouldn't give it up if I had to. It's what makes me ME, man....don't harsh on me by making me "cop" to these traits as if they were "bad" or something. Number Four: I think weird is good.
- My TMI threshold is extremely high. I can handle almost any information (sexual or bodily function or whatever) that people throw at me while remaining outwardly collected.
- I have a little mole on the inside "fingerpit" between the pinky and ring fingers on my left hand. It's how I learned which hand was the left one.
- The taste of burning is one of my favorites ever.
- When I speak French people think I'm Spanish. When I lived in Spain, people thought I was either French or Scandinavian. Occasionally Belgian. They never considered English-speaking countries.
- The first field guide I ever got was a gift from my sweet Emily. She and I bonded over my interest in ramps, which I've still never eaten.
- I have an extra bone in my right foot that looks like a bunion but isn't.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
I want to make homemade mozzarella cheese. I asked my little Emily to take an afternoon off from her baby and come help out. She agreed. I need to acquire some rennet and citric acid, and then we'll be OFF and RUNNING!!
During our conversation, I also agreed to try to babysit the little cutie who turned into a hellacious monster when I tried to put him down. It's been a few months. He's weaned. It should be different. Better. I hope. Heh.
I'm tired. For a change. (Not.)
(Photo of Oona my dog friend by jrandallsphotography)
Monday, July 9, 2007
I have a tomato here that I decided would be extra decadent without peel on it. I don't often take the time to peel tomatoes. Actually, the only time I typically DO peel tomatoes is when my grandma is going to eat them. She's picky. :-)
Having a particular grandmother, however, has led to me knowing how to quickly peel a tomato without losing all the flesh or cooking it to mush. Face it. A summer tomato is much better raw, so all those silly people who advise a quick dip into boiling water are kind of stupid. And anyway, who wants to heat up a pan of water just to peel a lousy tomato?
Here's how you do it.
Get a butter knife. Using the DULL side, rub the skin semi-firmly. Doing this to a summer-ripe tomato will loosen the skin substantially. I bet it has to do with breaking cellular bonds or some other scientific crap like that.
Secondly, get a sharp knife. Very carefully, make a shallow incision into the skin. Doesn't matter all that much where you start.
Switch back to the butter knife. Beginning with the incision you made, slowly pull the skin from the tomato. It won't slide off like if you put it in boiling water, but it will be juicy and raw and slurpy.
Slightly harder, but way worth it, in my opinion. And it probably takes less time to do for a small job.
If you're canning? Use the hot water method.
These days, the only meal I can be sure will be well-balanced is lunch. I guess I'm more of a lunch eater than most. When I get home from work the LAST thing I want to do is cook. I end up noshing pickles. Or chips. Or cheese and crackers. Or, well, you get the drift.
So. I'm taking a few liberties with One Local Summer, and will be occasionally blogging lunch instead of dinner. It also serves, I think, to show that you don't have to be physically at home with all the dishes/cooking implements/etc. to eat healthily, with strong happy flavors. I only have a microwave for cooking!
This time, I planned a little bit better. No hodgepodge soup for me today. Nope.
I'm hungry already and it's only 11 a.m. It might be because on my desk, equalizing to room temperature, one can find a plate with tomatoes from Rougemont, NC(20 miles), fresh mozz from the Chapel Hill Creamery (17 miles), potatoes from somewhere in NC, green beans from my garden, and last summer's pesto, thanks to my friend Marianne. What I packed from the kitchen to go to lunch: two potatoes, a spoonful of pesto from the freezer, a tomato, a shallot, the green beans, and a hunk of cheese. On the way out I walked past the garden and pulled a few beets (Was thinking of making greens, too. I may still do that for a snack later on, since I had lunch so EARLY). I snipped the top off of a basil plant and tossed some dill in the bag for good measure. In other words, I just packed ingredients.
Wanna see my lunch today? (Sorry about the lack of focus. I'm good at that. Heh.)
The grapevine tells me I've become somewhat of a gossip target at work. "Jenny's cooking again!"
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Pictures to come! There it is!
Last night I went over to my friend Maria's house, knowing full well I needed to scritch a meal in for OLS. Maria, you see, has a HUGE garden. She eats locally most of the time. I'd say, just guesstimating, of course....lessee...75% of her food is probably local.
She agreed to "help" me make a local meal for the three of us (third=her partner, David). On the way, I stopped off and picked up a six pack of IPA from the Carolina Brewing Company (41 miles). I looked for wine, too, but came up empty at this particular store.
We had a lot to work with. Maria had veggies galore from the garden, and since we went into this endeavor without shopping, our first thought was just to make a big pile of veggies. In the end, that's kind of what we did do.
• Yukon Gold potatoes: garden (0 miles)
• Cream/Milk: Mapleview farm (3.8 miles)
• Eggs: Next door neighbor (less than one mile)
• Hickory Gold Cheese: Next door neighbor (less than one mile)
• One leftover hamburger: Hogan's Magnolia View Farm (~4 miles)
• Garlic: Soehner Eco Farm (4.4 miles)
Beet and Bean salad
• Red Ace Beets: garden (0 miles)
• Blue Lake, Rock D'or and Romanette beans: garden (0 miles)
• Dill: garden (0 miles)
• Bunching onions: garden (0 miles)
Tarragon Vinegar, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper.
Tomato and Cucumber salad
• Sungold tomatoes: garden (0 miles)
• Early Girl tomatoes: Mebane, NC (~20 miles)
• Ellerby tomatoes: garden (0 miles)
• Diva cucumbers: garden (0 miles)
• Tasty Jade cucumbers: garden (0 miles)
• Suyo long cucumbers: garden (0 miles)
• Red onion: Harris Teeter (~6 miles) (is anyone going to catch this?)
• Balsamic vinegar, Salt, Pepper,
We also had bread that David made. Mind you, this was not with local ingredients, but once you get a taste of this bread, you kind of throw all aspirations to eating local out the window. It's that good. I had two big slices (have to mop up the beet juice), and took home a big ole hunk, too.
Not last, we ate up some leftover blackberry-blueberry pie, with vanilla ice-cream from Mapleview Farm. The pie didn't count, as only (ONLY?) the blackberries were local. And even several days old this pie was fantabulous.
Here's the thing. Between Maria and David, they've got 35 years working in kitchens, in ALL roles: Head Chef, Sous Chef, Pantry Chef, Pastry Chef. They've worked at basically every fine dining establishment in the area. Their neighbors include a couple who run/own/create all the food for what is frequently cited as the best restaurant in the SE United States. Their other neighbors are the dairy, which produces the best local cow's milk cheese in the area. Their last neighbors are family, who were involved with specialty grocery. Maria's other brother runs an award-winning market farm.
When I got to be friends with Maria, I didn't know any of this. She was just my best bud at work, is all. THEN as we've gotten to know one another, the more we end up having in common. Birding. Gardening. Food. Health Education. Spanish.
I sometimes feel guilty at how cool Maria is. Like..how did *I* happen into this treasure of goodness? Maybe it's because I let her win at Scrabble??
Anyhoo, David took the pictures of the meal (still can't find my camera, even after CLEANING THE WHOLE HOUSE yesterday), and
I am waiting for him to email me them isn't it beautiful??
Wow. Four minutes until I fish out seven pints of dilly beans and dill pickles! This will be the first time I can something other than preserves. Here's hoping it works.
Don't you think there's something extremely wrong with a grocery store that doesn't have fresh garlic? We're talking a normal store, not a corner store. Gah!
The pickles came out very pretty, and one seal just went "POP!"
Friday, July 6, 2007
Finally had my doctor's appointment I had mentioned a couple of weeks ago. I did my homework and went through the blog to check out what I'd written about depression/anxiety, how often, and when. Brought that in and was SO PREPARED!
In addition to tweaking my meds a bit for that, my doctor started asking me some other questions that seemed unrelated.
Did I procrastinate?
Am I messy?
Do I lose things?
Why, yes, just this morning. And last week. And....
The questions went on and on, getting more specific.
(My favorite: What happens when you do cocaine? Uhhhhhhhh...I have no idea.)
Anyone who has talked to me at length will know that I get distracted at the drop of a hat. And that I start projects and then lose interest. But then I also have times when I can do nothing BUT concentrate. Like when I get so focused on birds that I don't hear my boss talking about the meeting we're walking to. I live by my calendar. If it's not in there, it's not in my mind.
In retrospect, considering my sister and father and nephew have all been all diagnosed with the variations on the theme, it shouldn't have surprised me that I have a sluggish cognitive tempo thing happening here.
Anyhoo, THIS is what I get to work on now. That's the good news. We have an idea of what we can try.
The bad news: Most of the first line of battle medicines are contraindicated for people with one of my other fascinating brain issues. So none of this or this. We dont want me having a seizure!
Instead we'll try a couple of the more inventive ways to start out. If they don't work, then I get to call in the neurologist to work with the psychiatrist to figure out where to go. That might be here.
I'm feeling kind of weirded out by this.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
I've got a jumble of things going on in my head that I figured I'd spit out on a page here. While there is a loose theme (can you figure it out?), I am incapable of weaving any sort of transitions.
I got a gas-station coffee on the road and was floored at all the free add-ins they offer. Syrups, flavored non-dairy creamers...the works. This option in particular intrigued me. I picked up a couple, but didn't dare add them in without doing more research. I'll play around with it later.
Also gas-station related: the mini-marts that gas stations make their money on tend to carry local products, typically of the redneck variety. I picked up some deep-fried peanuts for Jamie and Nemoid. I didn't really like them. Besides peanut products, I also saw many local varieties of pork rinds. I have never been able to bring myself to eat them, and this was no different. As local as its ingredients could be, for example, I don't think this recipe will ever find its way into my kitchen. However, Michigan has some fantastic local beef jerky to be found in small stores, which I could eat for days on end. Not to be missed. I guess my point is to look for local foods in some of the more low brow areas, as well as the fancy* shops.
The Garden Journal Section
Um....came home to only 10 ripe cucumbers. I pulled out the dying-of-wilt yellow pear cherry tomato plant, and welcomed my first two REAL ripe tomatoes. Extreme Bush variety. They were sour, despite being ripe. Am saddened by that. Planted two new tomato plants I had been rooting from cuttings. Hope that works to make a longer season. Discovered that my non-hot pile compost bin gave rise to several grape tomato plants over in with the Zinnias. I love volunteers, so I'm not going to rip them out. That area does need work though. It's a big ole mess. There's also a very cute cantaloupe about 5-6 inches long hanging off the trellis that the plant has been climbing. The beets are looking fantastique, and lunch today was a tomato/cuke/onion salad. YUM.
*how do you spell [ʃi ʃi]?
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Am back from my whirlwind tour of the S.E. USA. In addition to great times in Atlanta and Athens, I ended up stopping off in VA to visit another friend. This friend happened to be a boy, and a quality one at that. He also is pretty firmly ensconced in the NE, far from here. He's temporarily in the area, though, and we were able to take advantage of that.
The 24-hour affair kind of messed with my mind a bit. On the one hand, I am more optimistic that there has to be someone out there for me. Unfortunately it does nothing about my fear that there isn't anyone HERE. And I also have the feeling (based on little more than gut) that there's an imbalance of interest.
There was no "what next? (if anything)" discussion. I feel very out of my element.