Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Stoic Flowchart


Credits: From BoingBoing via the blog Root Simple

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I Have Leftovers And Am Not Afraid To Use Them (A Recipe Post)

'Tis the season:  The few weeks leading up to the holidays, consisting of hurrying here and there, parties, potlucks, late days in the office trying to get things done before vacation, etc etc etc.  The period when you don't have the time or the inclination to cook, but it's cold and you want something hot in your belly, or you committed to bringing a side dish to that potluck you really don't want to attend.

So here's a recipe for you:  ARMENIAN PILAF.  The recipe is super easy, quick, and most importantly it's delicious.  I cut the recipe out of a magazine eons ago; I can't remember which one now, but I do recall the introduction stating it was from a chef who served it at holiday parties as a side dish.  The recipe says it will serve 12, and it will indeed.  This makes a lot of rice pilaf.  Like, a lot.  I halve the recipe, serve it as a main course, and still have a lot of pilaf left over.  A lot.

But the leftovers are one of the things I love about this pilaf.  Do not fear the leftovers! This pilaf makes awesome fried rice (just saute some veggies, toss in the rice and heat through, and maybe add some chopped fried egg).  To make a light and easy soup, saute some chopped onion in olive oil.  When it starts getting translucent add some chopped or sliced zucchini (or other vegetable(s) of your choice).  When the zucchini is almost tender, add a ladleful of the pilaf and heat through.  Top with grated parmesan if you like, or to make the soup more substantial throw in some shredded rotisserie chicken.

Here's the recipe.  Enjoy!

serves 12

1/3 cup broken pieces egg vermicelli*
1.5 oz (3 tbsp) unsalted butter
3 cups basmati or other long-grain white rice
4.5 cups low-sodium chicken stock**
2.25 tsp coarse sale

Toast pasta in a medium saucepan over medium heat until deep golden brown, about 4 minutes***.  Add butter and let melt.  Add rice, and stir in stock and salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer, covered, until liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender, about 16 minutes.  Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.

My comments:
*If you don't have vermicelli, broken pieces of spaghetti work just fine.
**I use vegetable stock, and for this recipe I particularly like Pacific brand.  It's a very hearty stock -- a deep orange color -- and it gives a lot of flavor to the pilaf.  But any clear chicken or vegetable stock will work.
***Keep an eye on the pasta as it browns.  It can go from golden to burnt very quickly.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fungus Among Us

Continuing with the theme from my last post of "it's amazing what you see when you take the time to look," here are some shots of mushrooms and fungus I discovered while out looking at lichen.  What strange little life forms they are.  Examined up close, the textures are fascinating.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Likin' the Lichen

The rains have finally stopped -- for a few days away -- and have left behind a landscape transformed.  What was once brown and dry and parched-looking is now rich and green and lush with the smell of loamy earth. 

Our home is surrounded by oaks of all kinds (Live and White and Blue, to mention a few) and they seem to have erupted with masses of moss and lichens of different colors and textures and sizes.  Even the rock outcroppings are covered.  Actually, anything with a even a tiny nook or cranny -- the brick retaining wall, the garden fence posts, the cement walkway -- is sporting a coat of green. 

To tell the truth, I can't tell the difference between a moss and a lichen.  Whatever they are, these little life forms are amazing.  Up close, they look like miniature seascapes. It's amazing what you see when you take the time to look.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Cullumah Cowls

Take a pretty ribbed pattern...

a luscious yarn in 2 different weights...

and just one size of needles...

and you get plenty of versatility.

The lovely infinity cowl, worked in fingering weight yarn and blocked to show off the pattern, can be worn long or doubled around the neck for extra warmth.  Worked in a sport weight and left unblocked, the neck cowl hugs you with softness and warmth.  Mix and match the yarns and versions.  One pattern, multiple options!

The yarn is a brand-new release from Elemental Affects.  It's 100% U.S.-grown Cormo, hand-dyed by Jeane of Elemental Affects, and it's soft and scrumptious and sproingy and just wonderful.  There will be a worsted weight later in the year, and you can bet that I'll be getting my hands on some of that.

My niece Johanna was a good sport and modeled for me, braving high temps to put on woolens.  She's a dear.  I should probably knit her something.

The pattern is over here on Ravelry.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Put a Pen in It

A new design!  And it's free over on Ravelry!

Smitten by a gorgeous green cover, I recently strayed from my beloved Moleskine notebooks and purchased a new journal that didn't come with a built-in band closure.  So I decided to design and knit one of my own.  And while I was jotting down ideas with a beautiful fountain pen that was given to me a while back (filled with olive-green ink, no less!), well....

Introducing the Journal Band with Pen Pocket.

It's a quick knit, and only uses 70 yards or so of fingering weight yarn.

As well as being a great stash-busting project, it makes a great gift for a pen-loving pal.  

Especially if you put a pen in it.

And the pattern is free!  


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Morning Walk

Yesterday morning I rolled out of bed right into my sneakers and headed out to try to beat the heat.  (I was too late, even at that too-early hour.)

I hadn't been out for a walk in some time and was struck by the changes in the neighborhood.  What had been lush, green pastures were now dusty and brown.  The creek was totally dry, and the little lake (okay, it's really more of a pond) that my route takes me around had receded significantly.

It really made me long for cooler weather and that rare thing called rain, which we haven't seen in these parts in ages.  Here are a few shots from a previous walk, taken on an overcast, drizzly morning a couple of months ago.  My regular route is about a 4-mile loop through the neighborhood.  There are a couple of steep hills which provide a good workout, and always something interesting to see.

The neighbors right across the street have two charming horses.  One came trotting over to see if there was anything interesting.

"Carrots?  Anything?  You got nothing?  How sad for me."

Oak galls.  These are what black ink was made from back in the old days.  There are recipes floating around on the Internet; one of these days I may try to make some.

Mistletoe.  It's an invasive species in this area.  

Down the road, a neighbor's front yard erupts in wild poppies.  

Poppy close-up.

Coyote art imitates life.

An exuberantly decorated bird house.

Reflections in the little lake (pond).

Every self-respecting pond needs ducks.

The trail not taken.  This trail winds through the woods to another, much larger lake.  It's a loooooooong walk.  One of these days.

Cat surveillance.

Hard to see, but in the middle of the picture is a blue heron. (Click on the picture to embiggen.)

There he goes.

A little stone bridge covered in moss -- or is it lichen?  Gotta look that up.

Up the final hill to home, a more sedate bird house.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The To-Do List

One of my goals for this year -- something very clearly delineated on my to-do list -- was to blog regularly.  By "regularly," I mean more than once per year.  Like weekly.  Or at least once each month.  Judging by the date of my last post, I've failed spectacularly.

I've been fretting about this failure and a number of other uncompleted tasks* that have been languishing on my to-do list.  But then I came across this quote from author Seanan McGuire:

I will never finish the list.  The list is an endless road stretching off into the ever-moving future.  But the list is a guide and a map and a benediction, and nothing makes me happier than knowing that it's always growing.  I'll reach the end when I die.

Whoa.  Yes.   Reading this, I felt absolved.  Not totally absolved, because there are things on my list that need doing.  But the list is a guide, and a map.  And it is endless.  Having a list, and adding and subtracting and adding more to it, means that I'm living life.  The list shows me what I've accomplished and where I'm going.  If I look carefully, it tells me what's important and what's really not.
The quote is now pasted on inside cover of my day planner/notebook, a gentle reminder before I turn the page that the to-do list is a guide, not a contract.  It is a map, with routes that I can choose to follow, or not.  It is a benediction, and confirmation that there is a life ahead of me. 

*This morning I completed a task that's been on my to-do list for 3 1/2 years.   Philosophical musings aside, crossing this sucker off the list felt good