Tuesday, March 26, 2013

shine on, moon!

I haven't checked, but I must believe tonight is a full moon.  I saw it rising in the sky as I drove home, and it was absolutely enormous

Sometimes it just seems unbelievable that there's a huge moon out in the sky, revolving around us.  It's such a lovely thing, obviously the source of many flowery poetic statements.  But it's so *dramatic*.

I heard someone once say that the moons looks larger when near the horizon because of the way our brains process relative size.  So then as the moon moves through the sky, it looks smaller because nothing is near it to compare it to. 

Shine on, moon!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

head colds and editing

I have my story back from the editors (this is the sports-themed one) and I need to do the edits this week.  The clock is ticking!

But of course, now I have a head cold. My head is all stuffed up and I'm feeling less than productive and energized and certainly in no head-set to edit anything!

This has been the year for colds.  It used to be that I would maybe get one in the winter, but this year I got them sprinkled all throughout the winter. 

Well, time for a cup of tea and then maybe if I go slowly, I can tackle the editing....

Monday, March 18, 2013

piano tuning

Today is piano tuning day! 

I inherited a piano from a truly beloved aunt, and I do play a little, though I need to practice more and find someone to give lessons so that I might get a bit better. I had moved awhile ago, and pianos need to settle in to their new homes, and of course, life is always busier than you wish it to be, but today is finally piano tuning day!

The sound of a real piano in the home is just so gorgeous.  It actually feels like a texture next to your skin, and inside your ears and brain.  I love that we have recorded music because it means having music available all the time, which is a luxury we don't even realize anymore, but having real live music is still something to be savored. 

So, the piano is getting tuned, and it is starting to sound lovelier.

Although there's something also beautiful in the strange discordant out-of-tune-ness of some songs played on a piano.  If the piano is out of tune across the board, it can sound hair-raising and ominous in a way that an in-tune piano can't.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

a grim and grey day

Such a rainy day here today.  Every time I looked outside I could see the bare branches of the trees stretching up to the sky.  It made me feel like Dr. Frankenstein was out there somewhere, stitching together his monster, and that there were shadows in the graveyard, and fog all around.  If there were moors around here, I'm sure there'd be a monstrous large hound....

Saturday, March 9, 2013

really excellent black bean soup

I have had a hankering for black bean soup for a while now.  I checked a few websites for recipes, and didn't come across one I exactly liked, so I mashed a bunch of recipes together.  It came out really well!

My recipe:

a dollop of olive oil
1 pepper (I used a red bell, but green would be fine), chopped into small bits
2 onions, chopped into small bits
a tablespoon of chopped garlic (I want to say 4 cloves, but I worry a clove isn't what I think it is, and it'll sound like four bulbs, which would be too much)
a handful of okra, chopped
half a cup to one cup of brewed coffee
juice from half a lime
half a cup of your favorite salsa (I used a salsa verde, which I think the cilantro and tomatillos really go well)
2 cans black beans

Heat up a dutch oven or a big pot, add the olive oil, then the onion and pepper.  Stir and cook for a few minutes, until soft.  Then add in the garlic.  Stir and cook for a few minutes.  Add in the cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper.  Stir about.  It'll be a little dry--which is good, because the spices will become very fragrant and delicious.

Add in the beans (I add in the juices from the can, but if you're worried about salt, you can rinse the beans, or use dried beans that you've soaked and cooked).  Add in the okra. Add in the salsa.  Add in the lime juice. Add in the coffee.  (Coffee is to taste, and also depends on how thick or thin you want the soup, so be judicious.) Add in water to the desired consistency of how you like soup.

Let the whole thing cook for a while, simmering. You can let it go for fifteen minutes to forty-five (keep an eye on the fluid level), just don't let it bubble over and make a mess.

If you have an immersion blender, use that to sparely blend the soup.  I like having some semi-big chunks left, so this is definitely a personal preference. Blend until you're happy with how it looks.

If you don't have an immersion blender, remove some (or all) of the soup from the heat, let cool, and use whatever appropriate blending machine you may have available in your kitchen.  Put the soup back, reheat.

Salt and pepper to taste if you're going to eat it right away, but I recommend taking the soup off the stove, storing it for a night, and then reheating it, salt and pepper to taste, and then eat.

Letting it sit that one night will let the flavors meld.

If you aren't interested in a vegetarian version, you can substitute chicken broth for water.  Or, when you eat the soup, a dollop of plain yogurt mixes in very well and gives it a creamy texture.


Not the cookbook I was looking for

I tend to buy a lot of books, especially cook books or anything relating to food, and I'd been given a Kindle for my last birthday, so I buy them, download them, and wait for time to read them.  I had a few minutes to look at a book, and I wanted to look over some recipes, and one of the books had a picture of pickled preserves on the front and a cute title (Heaven Preserve Us) and I thought: hmm, I want to make some pickled eggs, maybe there are some good tips in here.  So I tap the cover and start reading...and it is really interesting, and good, but its a story.  I kept going, thinking it was an introduction into why the author had written a preserves book and...at the end of the chapter finally looked.  It was a cozy mystery!  Not a cook book at all. So I'm glad to have started it, but disappointed there wasn't a pickled egg recipe!

I love e-books, but I wonder if this would have happened with a paper-and-glue sort.  I'd have known picking it up that it wasn't the cook book I was aiming for.  Still, not a bad happenstance.  I got to start a new story that I might not have grabbed for a while. Sometimes mistakes can make us happy, too.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

sound alike?

I was listening to the radio in the car the other day at a very low volume, and a song came on.  My brain started to fill in the lyrics because I could only hear the melody a little bit, but then I realized it wasn't the song I thought it was.  I turned the volume up. But, still, I've gone to listen to the two songs and I think a small portion of one sounds like a small portion of the other.  Just curious if anyone else can hear the same thing?

So, the Muse song Panic Station.  And Michael Jackson's Thriller.

I know!  Very different songs.

But the bit in the Muse song where it goes:

Ooh, 1, 2, 3, 4 fire's in your eyes
And this chaos, it defies imagination
Ooh, 5, 6, 7 minus 9 lives
You've arrived at panic station

Against the part of the Thriller song, where it goes:

You close your eyes
And hope that this is just imagination
But all the while
You hear a creature creepin' up behind

Give or take a little bit, since the speed and the lyrics don't really match exactly.

Obviously, not the rest of either song, but just that little bit.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

risotto in the crock-pot

I have some cooking away right now.

Did you know it was even possible?  Generally recipes call for constant, continuous, never-ending stirring at the stove-top to make risotto.  But, it can actually be made in the crock-pot.  It takes about 3 hours.

You cook up a few of the things on the stove-top, like onions and garlic, and the rice, and some of the liquid.  Then you put it into the crock-pot with the remainder of the ingredients, usually enough broth for the rice to absorb, and you leave the crock-pot on high for a bit, and ignore it.  When you come back 3 hours later--risotto!

I am a big fan of the crock-pot, for many reasons.  Braising tends to make things delicious (crock-pots essentially braise meat--long, wet cooking time).  And the crock-pot doesn't use as much energy as using the stove.  Plus, you can make a lot, and then save the leftovers--and then you have lunch or dinner the next day!