stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Note to self: just because a frozen dinner is labeled "Honey Balsamic Chicken" doesn't mean it doesn't contain Brussels sprouts.

E-da-ma-me

Jun. 14th, 2017 07:07 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
In leafing through my cookbooks for recipes to try, I frequently find myself put off by ingredients that I don't recognize, or which just sound ooky to me. There are a couple of recipes I've avoided because they call for edamame - general reaction, "edawhat?"

Today, being lazy, I nuked a Healthy Choice dish, boringly called Pineapple Chicken. I'm quite fond of it, mainly for textural reasons: it has water chestnuts and some kind of crunchy legume, looking like giant peas or something.

Of course, looking up the ingredients, I have discovered that the unknown legumes are edamame.

Recipes to try ho!

Peanuts

May. 28th, 2017 05:03 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Last week, for one reason or another, I went with frozen dinners. Today, though, I decided to cook again, and made a pot of Thai Peanut Chicken. It's a pretty easy dish - only a few ingredients, with easy prep. (Chicken, peanut sauce, carrots, green onions, rice, peanuts, cilantro, red bell pepper - and I left out the last two.) The only halfway exotic ingredient was the peanut sauce, but if you can find it at the Edwardsville Shop'n'Save, you can probably find it just about anywhere. Slow-cooker, of course.

It's definitely on the picante side, but the first helping was very tasty. Things usually improve the second or third time around, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

:pats belly:

COFFEE!

May. 17th, 2017 11:20 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I have not had coffee in something like two and a half months. I ran out of beans in mid-March, and between the weather and my teaching schedule, I haven't had a chance to get over to Goshen since then. I've been getting my caffeine fix from tea.

Until today. With the semester over and spring (hah! more like summer) weather having arrived, I was finally able to take the trip over. (It was actually nice enough to walk, but I bought a monthly bus pass for May and haven't gotten my money's worth yet.) I bought one bag each of my usual Ethiopian and Sumatran single-source, and one bag each of the two Secret Stashes - one from Java, one from Ethiopia (a different blend).

I am now sipping a very nice cup of Sumatran coffee. Bliss....
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I am, generally speaking, not a creative cook. I follow recipes to the best of my ability, and I am willing to try new things; I occasionally improvise, when one or another ingredient is unavailable, but that's as far as I go.

This week, I made a batch of arroz con queso. As the name suggests, it's a rice and cheese dish, with tomatoes, black beans, onions and garlic. This was the second or third time I've made it. Unfortunately, when I went out for ingredients, I forgot to get cottage cheese. The recipe calls for a cup of that, and also a cup of shredded Monterey Jack. I decided to go with two cups of the latter as a substitute. The result is edible, but rather dry, probably as a result of the substitution. I'll know not to do that next time.

(Gracie has been begging for scraps, but with the onion and garlic in the dish, she's doomed to disappointment.)

It did occur to me that the dish could use a bit more texture. I'm thinking that next time I make it I might throw in some peanuts. (Cashews? No, that would be too rich, I think.) Maybe improv substitution isn't my limit, after all. We shall see.
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
After posting grades last Monday, I spent the rest of the week loafing. (Well, I had to reply to a few students asking why they got the grades they got....) No cooking - just frozen dinners, sandwiches, and cereal. No trips to campus - I did connect to my office computer a couple of times, mainly to look up the grade spreadsheets. It was too rainy, most of the week, to walk the dogs.

However, loaf time is over. I may not be teaching this summer, but I do have a lot of things to do. I have to get a new passport; as of midyear, TSA won't be accepting Illinois state IDs. I have to put the finishing touches on Taxonomy I and submit it, and begin writing TII and outlining TIII (and maybe TIV). There's lots of housework that needs doing. I'm recording my library on the latest version of my library DB (and there's been a story or two I should tell, in that connection). I'm contemplating revamping my finances database yet again. I should also prep for my fall classes; two of them are courses I haven't taught in a while.

There is a big pot of arroz con queso cooking away, for this week's dinners. I want to start using my new stock pot, and to try out some more Indian and Middle Eastern recipes. The dogs need grooming (this week!) and visits to the vet, preparatory to their badly-needed dental work.

I've drawn up a (still incomplete) To Do List. I've done that before. The trick now will be carrying it out.

Shut-In

Apr. 29th, 2017 10:20 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
It is raining. It is expected to rain, often heavily and frequently with thunder, for the entire weekend. There's been a flash flood advisory in place since late yesterday, to expire Monday morning. (I got home yesterday right on the leading edge of the storm pattern; it was wet enough to make an umbrella necessary, but not wet enough to render one useless.)

I am out of cereal. I have two slices of bread left in the refrigerator. There is exactly one dinner in the freezer. There are also a few incomplete packs of frozen vegetables there. Sandwich fixings there are, but almost nothing to put them on.

However, I do have eggs. A few days back, one of my colleagues came to work with a paper bag, filled with cartons of fresh eggs, one of which he gave to me. I've eaten two of them already, but even if I can't get to Shop'n'Save this weekend, I still have five meals worth of eggs. I may get sick of eggs, but I won't go hungry. (Neither will the dogs; I grabbed a very much needed sack of dog food on the way home yesterday.)

Yes, I'm aware of the existence of take-out, but if I'm unwilling to brave this weather, how can I ask some minimum-wage schlub to brave it for me?
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
This week, I decided to make what the cookbook called "vegetable curry". To be honest, I wasn't sure it deserved the name "curry"; the only spices were cumin seed and garlic powder, and a real curry (IMO) needs more than that.

It looked tasty, in any case: potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, bell pepper, onion, and green peas (added after the rest had cooked), and I decided to throw in some mushrooms left over from last week's beef noodle dish. The first bowlful, on Sunday, though, was disheartening; the flavor was about two degrees south of "meh". Fortunately, a night in the fridge worked wonders, and the three bowls I've eaten since have been delicious.

I really should go for a real curry sometime. I'll look over that Indian cookbook, see what looks good....
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Even in the midst of crisis, life goes on. This semester, I'm teaching History of Math (of course) and Linear Algebra I, which I haven't taught in a while. I was scheduled to teach A Geometric Introduction to Topology, but not enough students signed up, so it was cancelled. Instead, I'm teaching a section of GenEd Statistics. So far, the classes seem to be going well, but serious grading hasn't yet begun.

I'm back in the groove on cooking, too; I made a batch of chicken cacciatore last week, and minestrone casserole is cooking away in the kitchen for this week's dinners. I want to get back to some non-slow-cooker dishes sometime this year - maybe in summer; I've got some new Indian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cookbooks I'm anxious to try.

On the reading front, my Kindle's Current collection holds Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, E. E. Smith's Skylark 3, Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill, and a translation of the Laxdaela Saga. I'm enjoying the Kipling, in particular; the saga is starting to get interesting; secrets are beginning to be revealed in the Bronte, and the Smith is, well, Smithian.

Life goes on, even in the midst of crisis. Last I heard, customs officials at Dulles are refusing to comply with the court order. This could get even uglier than it already is....

Miscellany

Nov. 20th, 2016 07:59 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
1. A couple of weeks ago, my thermostat started misbehaving. I had it replaced last Thursday - just in time; we've been having subfreezing temperatures overnight the last few days, and NWS says that will continue for at least the next few.

2. For Thanksgiving dinner this year, I'm making a chicken curry. Haven't made curry in a long time.... I'm also going to try my hand at cheesecake, using a simple recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook. ([profile] coalboy, I'll try some of the recipes you sent me later, but for my first try I want as few complexities as possible.) I'm considering home-made bread (haven't made that in a long time either) as well, and I'll definitely go with salad-in-a-bag. (I've been using that to garnish my meat-and-cheese sandwiches lately, too.)

3. The new library database project is proceeding well; I have discovered the wonders of bound forms! For some reason I had an antipathy to them in my earlier projects, but they seemed necessary for a couple of the forms I needed for this one, and I've realized just how much they simplify things.

4. I still haven't finished the Taxonomy paper. There's not much I need to do, but I haven't had the oomph. Must get it done before the onrushing end of the semester!
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Things that I enjoy. Things that make me happy. Productive things, and frivolous things.

At the store today, I bought a box of Keebler Pecan Sandies. I almost never buy cookies, doughnuts, pastries etc., but I felt the need. (Unfortunately, on returning home I discovered that I'm low on milk.)

People on the LMB list have been posting spoilered comments about Penric's Mission, so I went online and bought an e-copy, which I am now reading. I also picked up Connie Willis' Crosstalk, Becky Chambers' A Closed and Common Orbit (loose sequel to The Long Voyage to a Small, Angry Planet), and The Gate of Gods (the last volume of Martha Wells' Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy).

I've begun constructing the new version (#4) of my library database - designing forms one by one, adding and testing features one by one... This one will be much better designed than its predecessor - smoother operating, with far fewer dinky special-purpose forms. I learned a lot from the finances and Skyrim projects.

The dark shadow lurks in the background, popping up and distracting me at vulnerable moments, but I begin to see the road ahead. I couldn't find any large safety pins at Shop'n'Save, but I'll get one soon.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
This morning, I took the bus to visit Goshen Coffee in person for the first time. (I knew the address but didn't know just how far it was; once I got there, I realized that it was walking distance - maybe a mile - and the weather was good enough that I walked home.)

When I went in, I was met by one of the workers. (There seemed to be only two people there, a salesman and a clerk.) At first he was under the impression that I wanted a cup of coffee and tried to direct me to a nearby coffee shop, but once I made it clear that I was there to buy beans, he was all affability. He seemed a bit hippy-ish, to be honest.... He asked me what I liked (Ethiopian and Sumatran, I said) and showed me what they had. I mentioned that their website showed all of their "Secret Stash" blends were sold out; he made a sad face, then brightened. "Oh! We just got a new shipment in from Kenya. I can make you a bag of that, but it won't be labeled. Is that OK?" I agreed to it, and he bustled over to another bin. (I was carrying a bag each of Ethiopia and Sumatra....) (The "Secret Stashes" are more expensive, but very good.)

I also asked about their teas. The selection turned out to be rather small - no Darjeeling, no Oolong - but I bought a box each of Breakfast Blend and Chamomile. At checkout, he explained that they cut about a dollar off the price for in-store purchases, for regular and Secret Stash both, so the total was less by that much, plus the absence of shipping fees - a major gain! This whole purchase cost only a little more than an online order of one regular and one Secret Stash a few months ago.

This afternoon, I had my first good cup of coffee in a couple of weeks. (I've been relying on black tea in the morning.) It was good....

Timing

Aug. 7th, 2016 07:28 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Yesterday, I decided to go with beef & barley soup for this week's dinners. I've made it a couple of times, and like it, and I had most of the ingredients already in the pantry or fridge.

Today, I failed to check just how long it had to sit in the slow cooker. I didn't get it started until 10:30, 11 AM. It is now almost 7:30 PM, and it won't be ready for another hour, hour and a half.

To top things off, I'm low on staples and can't muster up much in the way of munchables. I'm out of soda, and have just enough milk for tomorrow morning's coffee.

Fall Semester is fast approaching - two weeks from tomorrow - and I'll have to get my body back in synch with the rest of the world.

Le sigh.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
The coffee from Goshen finally arrived yesterday afternoon. I have discovered that going without for almost a week appears to have resensitized me to the effects of caffeine: I'm jittering a little, in a way I haven't since my student days. Creepy, frankly.

Uncanny

May. 29th, 2016 09:45 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Many - in my frustrated opinion, too many - recipes call for a six-ounce can of tomato paste. Are they actually calling for "as much tomato paste as one can reasonably extract from a six-ounce can"?

Forks, spoons, and knives - even those which actually fit into those blasted little cans - all seem to leave a significant fraction of the goo behind.

Is there some sort of special implement or arcane procedure which actually gets close to the full six ounces out?
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
Today was the departmental end-of-semester potluck, Mexican themed as usual. Most people brought taco fixings of one kind or another; somebody brought a batch of churros, which were very good, and I made a pan of cornbread. There was a bit of a scurry this morning, when I realized my honey had crystallized and I didn't have time to fix it; I fell back on straight sugar. It came out all right, I guess; the last time I looked at the pan, more than 3/4 of it had been eaten. (I didn't bring the pan home tonight because I had to give two finals back to back, and the scramble to catch the bus didn't leave time.)

Tomorrow I'll probably do some grading, and I'll be one of the judges of the Senior Presentation for one of S's students. Thursday, the take-home final for my DiffGeo class is due (but almost half of them have already turned it in); I'll hang around as late as 4:30 if necessary. Saturday is my turn to attend Commencement. and with that the semester will be over.

I got plans for summer. Lotsa plans.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I very much like the slow-cooker cookbook I've been using lately. That is, I like the dishes; they're easy to make, and many have been delicious. I have a bit of a bone to pick with whoever gives names to those dishes.

Case in point: last week's dinners were "Mexican Rice and Cheese". The recipe called for "Mexican-style beans"; I had no clue as to what was intended, but settled on a can of red beans. It also called for cream cheese, which has never struck me as a particularly Mexican delicacy. Anyway, that dish didn't quite make it into the Delicious category, though it easily cleared the Tasty bar.

This week, I made a big pot of "Italian Spanish Chicken and Rice". It involves kielbasa. (It also called for an onion, a red bell pepper, and five cloves of garlic. I was in no mood for finicky cutting-up, so I just slammed all of them through the onion-chopper. The bits of garlic were probably too big and those of bell pepper too small, but whatever. This one looks like it gets the Delicious label.)

There are times when I wonder why I ever buy frozen dinners. Well, no, I don't. Laziness and/or lack of time usually explain it. Still, tasty cooking really isn't, or needn't be, all that hard. I really should work at doing it more regularly.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I called the Chef Shoppe this morning, and the grinder I wanted was neither in stock nor on order. I decided three weeks was long enough to wait, and instead resorted to the Great River, ordering a Capresso Infinity burr grinder, model 560. It'll be a while before it comes, of course. And while I was there...

I ordered a couple of DVDs: Frozen, which I'd been meaning to buy since the day I saw it, and Predestination, which I'm going to be evaluating as a possible Hugo nominee. (The Martian and The Force Awakens are already on my list, and I also have a DVD of Fury Road which I haven't gotten around to watching, but will soon.)

And speaking of Hugos, I grabbed Kindle versions of several novels which have been mooted as possibilities: Ancillary Mercy (of course), Seveneves, The Dark Forest, The Fifth Season, and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. I also picked up 1635: A Parcel of Rogues and Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, the last of which may or may not be eligible for the Hugo this year. (There's considerable debate over whether the public release of the e-ARC counts as publication. If yes, then this year; if not, then next.) I'm also considering The Affinities, which I've already read, for the Hugo.

Should keep me busy on the reading and viewing front.

Food Fight

Feb. 5th, 2016 05:45 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I am growing increasingly annoyed with Shop'n'Save. I will continue to shop there for most things; the advantage they have in convenience over the other nearby groceries is huge. But they won't get all of my business.

I mentioned the coffee debacle a while back. They have, it turns out, continued to offer two kinds of whole beans, both by Java Delight: French Roast and House Blend. Needless to say, this limitation isn't to my taste. A few days ago, I put in an order with Goshen Coffee, an online distributor with a considerably greater selection. I bought a pound each of their Ethiopian and Sumatran blends; they also have a number of special blends, which I haven't looked over yet. (I bought two bags; when I finish one, I will order another. That way, I will still have the other bag while I'm waiting for the new one.) If Goshen's offerings prove satisfactory, they will have my custom from now on.

Meanwhile, the cheese situation is worsening. (I'm speaking only of the cheeses sold in sliced form, as opposed to bricks, wedges, rounds, and shreds.) Asiago disappeared from their shelves some time ago. This morning, Lorraine and Vermont Cheddar were missing as well. That may be temporary; Colby reappeared today after being absent last time. On the other hand, the racks were full, the extra slots being filled with pepper cheeses (which I have no interest in) and thin-sliced meats. I no longer trust them. There's a deli up the road a ways, and I've been meaning to check them out for a while; the time has come.

(I'm also less than pleased with the packaging of some of the cheeses. Many of the softer cheeses, when packaged in slices, need to have the slices separated by sheets of waxed paper. Swiss, Muenster, and provolone are especially in such need. But it really doesn't do much good if the sheets are too small; the slices simply tear along the edges of the paper, leaving ugly and hard-to-dislodge clumps where the paper wasn't. The last packet of Muenster I bought was just... I want to say "awful", but it's not a question of taste; it was just incredibly unpleasant trying to get a decent slice loose, every time I tried to make a sandwich. I'm hoping, without too much hope, that the deli will handle things better.)

Shop'n'Save is convenient, and I know and like a lot of the cashiers, but there are limits to my patience.

Gearing Up

Jan. 16th, 2016 02:11 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Once again, this year, I have set myself the goal of not putting things off - doing what I want done, getting what I want to get, all in reasonable time. With that in mind, this morning I pulled up a To Do List I put together sometime last year. After clucking over the small number of items I'd actually carried through on, I decided on a trip to the Chef Shoppe.

My main goal was to get an electric coffee grinder that actually grinds instead of chopping the beans. (The one W supplied me with last month has numerous features my old Krups didn't have, and I like it quite a bit - but it isn't a true grinder.) The salesperson led me to where they would be on display, but, alas, none were. They do sell them, and have some on order, so I'll give them a call in a couple of weeks to see if they're in yet.

Beyond that, I wanted some freezer containers - I do plan to start making soup stock! - and the list also included a spring-form pan. I could not remember why I'd put that last item on the list, or even precisely what one was, but when the salesperson mentioned cheesecake I remembered. I got a 10" pan and two sets of nested containers.

On a whim, I also bought an Angry Mama microwave cleaner. I realize that a microwave-safe glass would do equally well as a holder for vinegar and water, but this one, at least, I won't use for anything else and leave myself open to not having it when I need it. It's not as if it cost a whole lot.

So, I'm reasonably pleased with the haul, even without the grinder, and I hope to have that as well in no more than a month's time. (Now I have to sit down and look over cheesecake recipes, to see if I really want to try making some....)

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