Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Starting Place #2

John Baldessari: "I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art," 1971

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Goodbye Old, Semi-Reliable Friend

Its' gone. A stylish car with character. That was always fun to drive. Things started going way wrong with it in the past 5 years. There was the time the air conditioner went crazy and released a terrible smelling something into the car. We got the heater/air conditioner fixed but then it only worked on like levels 2 & 4 (maybe). Plus the knob wouldn't stay on. There was last year, the night I met Dorothy in person for the first time ever and we went out to the theater and the back window fell down into the door and wouldn't come up again, and so, I had to rely on the dicey security of the parking lot and put all the carseats, etc. in the trunk. Not sure what Dorothy thought, but she was polite and encouraging. Then the door handle fell of the same door. Then we got it fixed and it fell off again. We took it back, got it fixed again. And it fell off. Then we gave up. The window was also fixed only it never went down again. And you couldn't open the door.

And then, this year, yes, came the disparaging remarks from friends which I'm really sorry the poor Passat had to hear. She did her best. This was a very fine car in it's day. And she was, as I said, very fun to drive. There was the night we went up to 120 on 280 to get away from some weird guy who was cruising me at 2am in an area where someone had been shot a few weeks earlier. She never left me stranded on the Bay Bridge during the evening commute like another car I could mention.

Well, she won't have to hear those unkind remarks again. She is gone. Gone. And I? I'm no longer a Driver. Now it's all Zoom! Zoom! Automatic. I miss driving a stick. Kristin Linklater once made the observation that I was very fond of the shift. And it is true. I am. Truly. I am a stick shift girl.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Shopping the Pantry Challenge #2

A bit less involved than the last. Just a box of cereal that's been in the pantry for a year.

Unfortunately, as you can see, it has expired. Wah.

But I thought, what the hey or is it what the hay, I'd give it a try.
The 2 year old whose toes those are was game too.

Sadly, this challenge does not have a successful outcome.

But yeah. The cereal really has expired. Not stale. But it has this weird, slightly bitter after taste that comes when you're eating food that hasn't shocked with preservatives.

See here it is soaking up the milk. Rather fast, I might add.

The 2 year old took one bite, shook his head and handed his bowl back. I tried to force down a few more spoonfuls. But really, we're not starving here so the motivation to finish the box and endure the taste is fairly low. I did find a bag of granola that was really terrible when we tried to eat it as a breakfast cereal. I think I'm going to experiment with that next.

Oh. Right. Yeah. Totally blew NaBloPoMo. I'm going to keep up posting as much as I can but it's a busy time. I'm buckling down on the thesis and trying to push out 3 chapters, collaborating on a new performance project, helping out with NaPlWriMo, trying to write a play, and oh, you know maintain the life. Head spinning.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Shopping in the Pantry Challenge #1

Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup

I wanted to make chicken and rice for the kids. Typically, besides the obvious, recipes call for some combination of the condensed Campbell's "Soup is good food" variety - cream of chicken, mushroom, or celery. I've tried the organic remakes of these kitchen staples with fairly unimpressive results. Seems there's nothing like the Campbell's for consistency and flavor. But I've stopped using Campbell's because at least two of those soups contain MSG. Such a betrayal. And probably, as it turns out, one of the ingredients, along with marinating in tin, that's responsible for the soup's unique flavor.

For fun, I decided to look online to see if I could find an alternate recipe. And I did. Here. This recipe calls for using onion and garlic powder, along with dried parsley and poultry seasoning. I used actual vegetables. As you can see:

I sautéed some garlic and onion. I also added a bit of salt and
some thyme because I didn't have poultry seasoning. Then I added a little chicken broth.

Then half a cup of milk.

Now here is where it gets tricky. The recipe calls for mixing 3/4 cup of flour with the remaining cup of milk. When you do that you get something resembling wall paper paste or paper-mâché and you might want to back out at this step. Remember you're making condensed soup, right? So go ahead and add that mixture to the onion, garlic milk/broth in the pan and whisk it like mad. It will soon have the same consistency as its canned counterpart. I tasted it at this point and it was really close. I think it could have used a bit more salt, garlic, onion, and thyme as well as some celery. I didn't use parsley either because I didn't have any dried or fresh, but that would have been good too.

Next. This is where the Shopping in the Pantry Challenge comes in. I added a can of organic cream of mushroom soup that's been sitting on the shelf for at least a year. I've used this in a casserole before and it's a bit watery and under-flavored which is what prompted me to want to make a decent homemade alternative. I mixed in this soup and then I pureed it for about five minutes because I wanted to eliminate any trace of vegetable or herb matter that might make the kids freak out and reject the real object of the experiment: the chicken and rice casserole.

Once this was made, it took like fifteen minutes, I made the chicken and rice from this recipe which originally came from cook's recipes, but I can't find the exact link anymore. Seems it's disappeared into some wormhole. Good luck trying to find it. Luckily I emailed it to myself.

Cook 1/4 cup chopped onion in 1 tablespoon butter until
tender. In 1 1/2 quart casserole dish, mix onion, 1 3/4 cup
chicken broth, 1/2 cup chicken, 1 cup shredded cheese and
1/2 cup uncooked rice. Cover. Bake at 375 degrees for 1
hour. Serves 4.

I didn't put the onion in it. Just the chicken, rice, cheese and some chicken broth (not enough as it turned out) and baked it for an hour. The kids initially balked at eating it, but relented and even admitted to liking it. The great thing is that it leaves them open to trying other mixtures of rice and chicken like curry and arroz con pollo. Here's to expanding their palates one meal at a time.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Better Late than Out of the Game

I'm doing it. Or at least I'm going to get further along in NaBloPoMo than last year, which was, I think, all of one day or maybe even zero.

I've made of list of things to write about:
Weekly writing exercise - continuing to post a free writing exercise.
Clutter Busting - chronicling my ongoing battle and success with clutter and organization.
Shopping in the Pantry Challenge - Lot's of stuff in the pantry and the fridge that sounded like a good idea at the time. The challenge is to find a way to use it either as it is or to incorporate it into a recipe (kind of my own Quickfire Challenge).
Mondo Beyondo Part 1.
Fun with Pie Dough - Is there a perfect pie recipe? I'm going to find out.
Random Acts of Pieness - Some lucky person is going to get a pie. A pie! Will it be you?