29 September, 2013

Well-Stocked

Category: Cooking,Food,Work — Moose @ 8:47 pm

I was reminded tonight of how much easier cooking can be with a well-stocked kitchen. Well-stocked with equipment, that is.

When I remember that I have it, having a garlic press is so much easier than trying to mince that stuff by hand. The immersion blender was one of the better things I’ve talked the hubby into getting “for himself”. But, in my defense, he’s the one who doesn’t like chunky marinara, so while I’m the one using it, it’s for his benefit.

The right size pots, good cutting boards and knives, all good stuff. The stove is too small (20″ – one large burner and three small ones), but I make due. At least it works, unlike the one I replaced (the original stove from the early 1960s – it was hard wired into the wall).

The marinara was fantastic. As always, it was different from any other marinara I’ve made, because I never follow a set recipe. I borrow from sauce recipes, but I no longer follow them slavishly. A teaspoon of this, a tablespoon of that. Balsamic vinegar this time, red wine that time. A touch of tomato paste or a whole 6oz can. Thankfully I made enough to freeze several batches, so we’ll enjoy this one later, too.

This was a good way of distracting myself from the shutdown insanity gripping DC. I’m in the middle of it at work, as usual, a casualty of my main legal specialty. I’ll be working all week regardless of what Congress does, but it’s stressful stuff. So a good night of creativity through cooking in a well stocked kitchen was a nice respite.

17 February, 2013

Food update

Category: Cooking,Diet,Food — Moose @ 6:31 pm

I know I’ve said it elsewhere, but I don’t think I’ve said it here: there is little better than homemade mayonnaise. And once you’ve made it at home, why would you ever buy the commercial stuff? That has to be one of the more exciting recent food discoveries. Turns into a nice salad dressing, too.

Also, as I’ve been cooking in the boy’s place I’ve realized how incredibly spoiled I am in my own kitchen, because I’ve had time to slowly build up a good collection of kitchen equipment, giving me a greater range of things that I can prep/make (like the aforementioned mayonnaise – the food processor is key there, though a blender can work, too). Another reason why I look forward to combining our households, so I can cook more for us.

My recent cookbook reading has been Paleo-based, which I’ve been enjoying. No (or minimal) dairy, which is good for lactose-intolerant me. Lots of veggies, also good. And not afraid of full-fat meals, which is a lot tastier than a lot of stuff. Not exactly ‘the two fat ladies’ level, but some good stuff. And the boy hasn’t complained about most of it, which is also a plus. He’s pickier to feed than I am, his diet is fairly bland, so finding stuff he’ll eat has been a challenge. Trying a shepherd’s pie tonight, we’ll see how that goes, though his text response to the suggestion was excited, so I’m thinking it’ll be a win.

The only really fun part has been that it avoids wheat in its entirety, which isn’t the easiest, or even the tastiest. But I have found when I avoid wheat products my digestive system seems to be quieter than not. Annoying, that, since, well, bread & noodles are delicious. But perhaps not the best for my gut. Not allergic to it, was tested on that back in November, but I definitely feel better after I haven’t eaten it for a while.

28 October, 2012

Anticipation

Category: Books,Cooking,Relationships,Shopping,Stuff,Weather,Work — Moose @ 5:07 pm

Waiting for Hurricane Sandy to hit the DC area is a mess. Haven’t seen a thing here yet, except empty grocery stores. Am very, very glad I made the boy go shopping last night rather than waiting until today – facebook and the like have been full of pictures of empty shelves.

Dragged in the boy’s chair from his balcony, and I took a few things off my own balcony yesterday before coming over to dog-sit today while the boy was at work. Past that there’s not a lot else to do but wait and see what hits tonight and whether I’ll be going to work tomorrow. Luckily I have the option of covered parking at the boy’s place, so the car should be fine when the first wind (and related tree debris) hits. It’s highly unlikely that either of our places will lose power – the boy’s school has “backups for their backups” and my place is close enough to the capitol that all the power lines are buried.

So far I’ve read two comics that were in “the pile” (of reading material waiting for attention), futzed around in the kitchen (butternut squash soup in the crock pot), walked the dog twice as much as he normally goes out, and tried not to pay attention to the work documents that I brought home in case the office is closed tomorrow (that, at least, was successful; I’ve given the taxpayers no free work today). I wish my bike and trainer were here at the boy’s, then I could’ve at least ridden for a bit. But the waiting is the worst.

8 August, 2012

Limping Along

Category: Cooking,Exercise,Food,Health,Mood,Stuff,Work — Moose @ 10:41 pm

Surprising the boy with a slow cooker batch of meatballs tomorrow. He’s been at a work retreat the past two nights and gets back tomorrow, and will do so to an apartment that will smell fabulous.

I’m still irritated at myself, with regard to my last post on countfour. And I’m finding it difficult to blog as well. It’s an election year in DC, I can’t really talk about work or politics (yay Hatch act!), and it seems crazier than normal (in no small matter because of the proliferation of political ads, since Virginia is in play this year). I did finally get new orthotics for running, after some drama with the PT shop (the first set was too wide/tall & had to be shaved down to fit; PT guy was clearly not happy when I brought them in for refitting, but we got it resolved). So now I can run again, and have been starting to get back to that.

We’ve put in a request for a proposal for a wedding venue. Like the place, options seem good, then it’s just picking a date. Oy. The only date we know we want/have to work around is July 6, which is next year’s Total 200 ride, which the boy has said he wants to do next year, and I’m game to ride with him.

25 January, 2010

State of the Moose at the End of January

My new mortgage servicing company has made a fine festuche of the escrow statement on my PMI as I moved over to them. Sent them a doc on 12/10/09 to have them correct the error (they somehow assumed I wasn’t going to pay the PMI that was on the bill for December and January, despite never being late with a payment?!?!). Called today because the February bill shows an increase (which was threatened in the incorrect escrow statement) to collect the “missing” PMI. They did indeed get my letter via fax on the 10th, but no one ever bothered to send it to the escrow department to have the thing fixed. Oy. So, step one was having that happen today, and I’ll call to bug them in a week. In the meantime I have to pay the bill with the extra $17 and change on it and then deal later with getting that somehow credited to a future bill or to principle. Right. It’s not a ton of money, but frankly I don’t want to pay them a penny more than I owe them. I have little faith in this new company so far, though the reps I’ve spoken to in the two months I’ve had them have been fairly pleasant to deal with.

Oh, and my favorite part of dealing with them? For the first time since about my third mortgage payment back in 2006 I’m paying my mortgage via check. Why? Because they want to charge me to make the payment online, in an amount that adds about 1% to the bill. No thanks, I’ll happily pay the USPS to deliver it instead. Dingbats.

And there’s some question why people dislike financial institutions?

Anyway. Other than that, training is going okay. My foot began to bother me a little at the end of last week, but several nights of sleeping in the brace has staved off the ever-possible plantar fasciitis. Went absolutely nuts in making soup last week, so I have gobs of the stuff in freezer bags now for easy meals later (whip up some fresh rice and heat up the soup, voila, homemade meal in no time). Curried split pea soup and African bean soup (also slightly curried, but with peanut butter in the broth – yum). Mood is much elevated thanks to regular exercise again.

Mike is looking at condos in Beantown these days. It’s been fun to watch the excitement and apprehension that goes along with that process. In a lot of ways I wish I were up there to look at places with him and watch the possibilities unfold. I did have to admit to him that I was a bit apprehensive when he first said that he was going to buy rather than rent when he moved this spring (it does make the long-distance aspect of the relationship a bit more, well, lasting for the near future), but spitting it out and talking about it with him released that anxiety. Yes, we’ll be traveling back and forth for a while to come, but I think he’s worth it.

Work has been hellacious as we move toward budget hearing time with the President’s budget coming out on Monday. Today was spent going over mind-numbing anticipatory questions and answers (the programs guessing what the Hill is going to ask us, and then answering said questions). On the one hand it’s a good picture of the overall direction of the BGA. On the other, it’s tedious and time-consuming, and one gets tired of correcting grammar and statutory reference mistakes. Eh, as long as they keep paying me. Though I do look forward to getting the ad out on the street for the other appropriations attorney position we’re supposed to be putting out. Soon. I hope. (Help!)

NTP is in full start-up mode. The newbies register on Wednesday and then the fun begins. I have two docs to edit up this week, and then we’re good to get started.

Been thinking a lot about decorating, again. Mainly paint and some minor things around the apartment. It’s been 4 years-ish since I moved in and I’ve not painted a thing. Whoops. I did come up with an idea for the color (though not the exact shade) for the bedroom this afternoon. Looked around when I got home and I think it’ll work. Not saying much past that, but I’m hopeful. Need to find someplace to do some framing for me, too (oooh, and there’s an idea for the front hall. Hmmm…). Anyway, it’s a slow process (re: 4 years, no paint), but is good to get some more concrete ideas. Oh, and cleaning out of closets will happen shortly. Lots to do, lots to do.

8 December, 2009

Ordered/Sauced/Wet

Category: Cooking,Dating,Exercise,Running,Weather,Work — Moose @ 11:24 pm

Well, gifts have been ordered. The ones that I’m ordering online, that is. The appropriate parties will receive them in the appointed times. Whee. Thankfully ordering was relatively easy, once the harder part, the deciding, was done. That process took weeks, unfortunately.

After a long, dragging day at work (punctuated only by an office party at one of our program offices – yay for mid-afternoon beer), I came home to whip up some marinara with part of the bounty I brought home from the grocery store yesterday. I hadn’t gone in ages, so yesterday was particularly expensive. Thankfully homemade marinara is relatively inexpensive to produce, and freezes well, even with the addition of some ground turkey. I did manage to forget that it’s better to spice the turkey while ‘browning’ it, but given that it’s been a decade since I last did that, I think I can be forgiven. I’ll try not to forget again. But man, good sauce, completely worth the time to make it. And now I’ll have it to zap for a bit yet.

It looks like it’s going to be nastily wet tomorrow morning for the run, which kinda sucks since my last run up in Provincetown this past Saturday was similarly cold and wet. The joys of winter running. I think it would be prudent to make it a short run and just do 4 rather than the usual ‘long’ run on a Wednesday.

Provincetown was, as I intimated above, pretty darn wet for the one full day there. No snow, thankfully, but plenty of cold rain. Worth every minute of it, though. The concert was fun, as was shopping. And of course, seeing Mike was pretty darned keen. Next visit is in a couple weeks, then again the weekend after. Miss him a lot when he’s not here or I’m not there. But, it goes well, and it makes the time together a bit more special.

21 October, 2009

Settling Back In

Category: Cooking,Dating,DC,Exercise,Food,Friends,Habits,Knitting,Running,Work — Moose @ 9:20 pm

Starting to get back into a routine now after a couple of weeks of head cold, travel, complete abandonment of exercise, etc. Ran Monday and this morning (much to the chagrin of my legs), went to the men’s knitting group tonight and got another inch or so done on the leg of the latest sock, cooked a good meal last night, getting into the groove of the new fiscal year at work, etc. A return to semi-normalcy, which is very welcome.

Part of cooking last night was using my microwave convection oven for the first time as an oven and not just a microwave. I knew they didn’t take as long to cook, but didn’t expect quite how much faster it would be. The little 3 lb turkey breast that the label said should take 2.5-3 hours in the oven took 45-60 minutes in the microwave convection oven, and came out quite nicely. Color me impressed. Add to that the butternut squash, roasted in the normal oven, and some asparagus to go with and it was a nice little meal, with some good leftovers. I need to cook more, and this was partly an experiment to see how easily I could cook up something like the turkey breast for taking into work instead of buying the deli meat sandwiches and all the filler they have in them.

Before heading out to the knitting group I raided my stash and managed to find the yarn I was going to make into a scarf last spring (improvised design, didn’t work). I have found a better pattern which is almost exactly what I was envisioning for myself, so was good to find existing stash for it. I should catalog the stash again, and add in all the new sock yarn from the summer, but meh. Also managed to find some stash for a couple of other gift projects. Score.

Spending time with Mike this past weekend was wonderful. Still very much smitten there, and looking forward to seeing how it grows. We just fit together well, and he makes me want to be better.

Running’s getting going again because I have a race in two months, and I will be prepared for this thing and its hills, come hell or high water. Fridays are going to start being hill workout days – heading up toward the Mall via L’Enfant Promenade (that dreadful monstrosity of I.M. Pei’s), and if I can get far enough, up around the ‘hill’ around the Washington Monument. This is the problem with having moved down to the river – it’s relatively flat here, and thus harder to train on hills without traveling. We’ll see how this Friday goes.

Friends visiting over the next three weekends, including Mike in early November. Busy times, and good stuff to do – will help get me out of the apartment, and back into a social groove. While I am doing the IM in August, I need to better balance a social life of sorts, no matter how limited, and settle back into a better pattern of living.

5 April, 2009

Pancakes

Category: Cooking,Food — Moose @ 10:41 am

I have a love-hate relationship with pancakes. Love to eat them, hate to cook them. Or, rather, I always feel inadequate when cook them. I’m just not terribly good at the whole flipping them over part. At least not when cooking more than one in the pan, which is a necessity if you’re ever going to get done in time to actually eat the things while they’re still hot. This morning’s batch ended up with two cakes that only made it half way over before they fell off the spatula.

Part of it this morning was a new spatula I’d picked up this week, one coated in silicon rather than the usual plastic ones I’ve had. I discovered that the plastic ones were melting on the end (ewww!), and I really didn’t want to suck in more plastic than I probably already do. I’m pleased to report that the silicon spatula did not melt. So far. Even if I’m still not fully up on the whole flipping thing with it yet. Maybe I just need a larger pan. I definitely need a new pan; the one I have now is cheap, and slightly warped (I doubt that helps much with the flipping).

But even slightly folded, the pancakes were still quite yummy.

1 February, 2009

Mellowing

Category: Cooking,Exercise,Neighbors,Pro Sports,Work — Moose @ 11:24 pm

I must be mellowing in my old age; I went to a Superbowl party at a neighbor’s apartment, actually watched large segments of the game, and didn’t hate it. Made veggie chili which was well received, even if it was a last minute “OMG, I totally forgot that I need to cook something for the party and what can I scramble together out of the cabinets” type affair. And hey, I got rid of some of the five gazillion tomatoes I have in my freezer courtesy Mom & Dad’s garden.

Not looking forward to another week of 9 am meetings, but you do what you’ve got to do. At least I have a core training class to look forward to tomorrow evening after work.

4 January, 2009

Culling & Lunch

Category: Cooking,Drinks,Food,Friends,Lists,Stuff — Moose @ 6:31 pm

Had Chris over today to help me cull my clothing collection. 20-odd T-shirts went out, as well as polos, button downs, and others. Much space was made in the drawers and in the closet. All in all, four paper grocery bags got filled with neatly folded clothes. Also found some items I shall offer to my brother for his daughters (blankets our grandmother made, etc.) so perhaps they’ll get use rather than taking up space in my closet which could be better used.

As an enticement to come play fashion critic, I offered lunch. The menu, from The Voluptuous Vegan, was pomme frites, a roasted garlic and herbes de provence aiolï, citrus and cucumber salad, and a provençal stew with couscous. Was tasty, though the pomme frites could have been better (they kept sticking to the paper, making it difficult to turn them when needed).

Finally cleaned up all the dishes (thank heavens I was cleaning as I went along or I’d never have had room for it all), and inventoried and bagged the culled clothing. Relaxing now with a glass of the pinot grigio I opened for use in the stew, and enjoying not having any more dishes to clean. It did push home the need to replace the blinkin’ dishwasher, though – doing that many by hand was trying, and not good for my hands (yay eczema).