I Spilled My Mushroom, and Now There’s Lentils Everywhere!

Now that’s something you don’t hear every day: “I spilled my mushroom, and now there’s lentils everywhere!”  Unless you live at our house, where it really wasn’t all that strange. In context.

Stringy Bits

Friday night I made a Flappy Flounder. Saturday morning I made a Splat Cat:


Saturday afternoon I started one of Da Fungi:


 He’s knit top-down, and one of the final steps is stuffing the bottom section of the base with something heavy. We have some shot, but I was afraid it was too fine and would leak, so I used lentils (should’ve used the shot). In the process, I uttered the above phrase. But it was OK, Elrond and Pippin thought raw lentils were acceptable as a snack.

Today at lunch I finished Manta Ray:


Tonight I expect to start a ridiculously colorful Kiwi.

Yes, I’m having fun with the Cheezombie knit amigurumi patterns. They are much faster (and therefore more fun) than patterns in the knit amigurumi book I got a few years ago. This would be a book that had you knit a carrot with the rows running the length of the carrot, using short rows for shaping. A carrot is a modified TUBE. Knit it as one! I still may go back and make some of the more complex things . . . someday.  But at the moment I have a bunch of Cheezombie’s amigurumi calling to me.

Flappy Flounder, Splat Cat, and Da Fungi are all mostly Blue Moon Fiber Arts Woobu left over from making kilt hose. Manta Ray is mostly Harrisville Designs Highland (worsted weight).  All knitted on US size 2 needles. Although the link to the Highland is to washed skeined Highland for knitting, the yarn I used was bought on a cone, unwashed, for weaving. Debating if I want to wash him so he’ll soften up and risk slightly purple eyes, or let him stay a kinda scratchy.

In other weekend news . . .

Windycon meeting Friday night. There was some decision-flail, with the result that this weekend I’ll be laying out a legal paper-sized Progress Report instead of a postcard. I have the two I did previously in that format, so I don’t expect any issues.

I decided to go from work to the meeting, so I stopped at the Hobby Lobby store near-ish my office, and finally found a 5-shelf storage cube we’d been looking for to use for stained glass storage. While I was there some knitting needles and yarn, um, followed me. Because I forgot the needles for Flounder, and the ridiculously colorful yarn was on clearance. I have no guilt, however, about the hank of pink perle cotton I bought for Splat Cat’s tongue and nose. Nor the black and white I got for eyes because I didn’t realize I had a ball of white fingering leftovers in the stash, and I don’t have a lot of black.

When I got home from the meeting, I found that Ron had spent the evening working on stained glass. Will post more about that later, maybe on Ron’s blog.

Saturday morning began with a trip to take Pippin to the vet for a skunk bath. It was a good night for skunks, when I picked Pip up there were two other dogs being picked up who’d been skunked. Fortunately, the skunk smell came out of the bedspreads and my (washable!) wool blanket. Unfortunately, we’re still getting whiffs of skunk from Pippin now and then. I may take him for another regular bath Saturday or Sunday.

Ron and I proceeded on to a bariatric surgery behavioral change class. After that we got Ron some more solder, stopped for lunch, discovered the Palatine Michael’s is closed, stopped at Hobby Lobby instead (stuffing for amigurumi – although I actually got quilt batting because it was available in less stupidly large bags than stuffing), came home, and I retro-stuffed Flounder (his mouth is not actually closed),

Then Xap and the Xaplets arrived and we played a Pathfinder (D&D relation) game with pre-generated goblins, with a break on my part to go retrieve Pippin. Now, in Pathfinder, goblins are afraid of horses. The description of my character says she likes to take stupid chances to scare her opponents. So when we scared the horse away by half-killing it with a fireball or something like that, my obvious next move was to start chasing it, yelling wildly. So I did. Ron later agreed that I had been acting in character (not that he, as GM, disagreed at the time).

After dinner we did something or other. I think it involved a murder mystery on the DVD player.

Sunday morning we cleaned house in preparation for the cleaning service’s visit today. In other words, we picked up and put away all the carp that had accumulated in the living room. There’s more space in the living room now, especially behind the chair at Ron’s desk. Sunday I also uttered the subject line of this post, sewed swivels onto fox tails for Otter Necessities (which I also worked on Saturday), and mostly-finished my purple, gold, and orange mittens. Still have to darn in ends.


We had defrosted a whole beef tenderloin for dinner Sunday night, which is Stupid Amounts of food for three people (Saturday we’d had a half-ham that was even Stupider Amounts, hence having it when there were six of us), so Robin went through the One Pot of the day Cookbook looking for recipes. Considering that book does a lot of braises and stews, which are not where you want to use tenderloin, he only found one – beef and broccoli stir-fry.

He had more success in the One Salad of the Day book, so we did a Peapod order of lots of vegetables.  Salads with meat are better for us than starchy stewish things anyway.

Last night we had the stir-fry, which was bolstered with green beans and a zucchini that didn’t follow Xap back home on Saturday. It was served over a base of egg noodles. Peapod didn’t have oriental egg noodles, so I got Barilla multi-grain (lower carb than standard pasta, but not as hippy-literally-crunchy as whole-grain pasta) angel hair. I debated about cooking the whole box or not, but decided to go ahead. Good call, the Locusts (Robin and Marmaduke) left nothing behind. I pretty much ignored the recipe for the sauce, but it came out acceptable, if slightly runny.

Tonight we’re having a Greek salad with lamb. Not sure if I’m cooking/assembling or if Robin is. He was planning on making the sauce/dressing after lunch today, which I believe is essentially tzatziki.

Circling Back to Cleaning

When I left this morning, Robin was cleaning up around his desk. He’d already cleaned up the desk (which is a set of shelves) on Friday, in preparation for the cleaning service visit. I’d meant to clean up some stuff in our room last night, but had an urpy tummy and didn’t get to it. But I did this morning, and it turns out there’s a floor on my side of the bedroom! It isn’t just an endless layer of dog blankets!

The cleaners were scheduled between 2 and 4 pm. I understood that to mean arrival time, so the house may be getting clean as I type!   I’m not getting the spare bedroom, Robin’s bedroom, the dining/work room, or the basement done. I think the not-basement stairs are included, too. I did leave a note with things I don’t expect them  to do (the high shelves with all the models in the living room – high and delicate things, and above our beds – only way to get to them is stand on the beds), a couple fragile things to be careful of on the fireplace mantel, and that I don’t expect full eradication of the hard water/rust stains – those didn’t form in a day, I don’t expect them to go in a day.

Pork Loin and Hakama

Last night’s dinner was a pork loin braised in milk, similar to this recipe from Saveur, using a boneless pork loin roast, without the fresh sage or lemon, and using half milk and half coconut milk. I assigned it to Robin, and as far as I know there were no issues. I had Robin put it in a low oven to braise, instead of on the stovetop. Simmering/braising/whatever in the oven results in less sticking to pans. It was good, not dry, and there were no leftovers (it was also a smaller roast than the Saveur recipe calls for).

Worked on Otter Necessities stuff last night, which is also the plan for tonight. Unless something goes drastically dreadfully wrong, I should finish Otter prep for Cod Con tonight and be able to finish Ron’s hakama tomorrow night.

Pippin has figured out what getting ready for an event looks like, and keeps giving me the Disapproving Dog Disapproves look when I pack things. Elrond doesn’t seem to figure it out until things start being moved out the truck or trailer.

On Sunday or Monday Pippin was a very good dog. I’d left the bin containing fox, coyote, and tanuki tails open and within his range while I did dishes, and he left the tails un-molested. Normally he’s very very interested in fur. I suspect he was good because I was only a few feet away with my back turned, but he’s fast enough he still could have probably stolen one and been out the dog door to the backyard before I could react.


Pickles, Salad, and Seafood

photoHere’s a picture of the pickled sliced citrus. A particularly bad smartphone picture, you may regret embiggening. It was taken last night, and the blood oranges have already started turning the liquid pink.

Dinner last night was orzo salad with chicken: Orzo, chicken, and halved cherry tomatoes. I’d bought grape tomatoes, which Robin and I agreed did not warrant cutting any smaller. The dressing was pesto, with added salt, pepper, white wine vinegar, and olive oil. Yes, adding olive oil to pesto, which already contains olive oil. As you might suspect, at least from me pointing it out, that is a questionable step. The salad was good, but had too much oil.

Well, I think it was good. Ron said it was good, and Robin went back for seconds, so I’ll take their word for it. For me, it suffered from having an episode of “Dirty Jobs” playing, in which Mike Rowe was helping count dead salmon in a California River, complete with cutting the fish in half with a machete to indicate they’ve been counted.

Now, the problem is that my Mom was a charter captain for a while, so I’ve spent a lot of time at marinas. Even though my stepfather built a nice cleaning table, I’ve had to pass the “gut hut” too many (>1) times on hot summer days. And then there was the incident with the riding lawn mower and the fish carcass the cats or other critters had dug up. So I couldn’t watch Mike dealing with, um, “well-aged” salmon without smell-memory kicking in. I’m not sure exactly why, but the oiliness of the salad wasn’t helping, either.

As a related note, if you want a trophy fish, by all means go fishing for salmon when they’re getting ready to spawn. But not if you want to eat them. You see, salmon stop eating and start the aforementioned “aging” process by the time they’re hanging around the mouth of the river to make their spawning run.  They get kinda spongy. And they have more fat. BTW, trim out the belly fat, Mom says that’s where the toxins are most concentrated.

For the family stash of fish to eat we’d go out fishing in early spring for coho salmon “jacks”, which are fairly small (on the scale of legal fish, I mean), and are much nicer to eat, with nice firm flesh. I think they were also less fatty. Or later in the summer, lake perch, which we’d scale in an industrial potato peeler.

I do eat seafood, Mom just spoiled me. “Fishy” small = starting to rot, EEEWWWW.

Progress on Various Things

Pressure Tank:

Picked up the new tank and necessary extra bits of hardware Friday night. While Ron was off looking for bits and pieces of pipes, I noticed “Tank Ts”, for use with the pressure tanks. They’re a pre-made T with extra ports for the pressure regulator and gauge. Pricey, because they’re brass, but much simpler than building the same thing out of bits and pieces. Based on the number of faucets, etc. we needed tank size X, but we went up to the next size (so the pump doesn’t have to run as often).

It only took a couple-three hours for Ron and Robin to do the job, finishing up by 11-ish, I think. Maybe 11:30. They had to make ZERO additional trips to the hardware store, Yay for our shopping abilities. The hardest part was getting the old tank disconnected and out of the corner-ish space it was in. They got the new bits connected to the new tank where there was more space, then slid it into place and made the final connection.

The water pressure in the house is better, but still not as high as we’d like (nor to the level it was when we bought the house, as best we can remember). Probably due to decades of crud built up in the pipes – the pump has no problem in quickly filling the new bigger tank. Given the way the house was originally plumbed, we only used one side of the tank T. Ron is considering starting to re-plumb the house in copper, in stages – buy some bits and pieces, do a bit; keep repeating as budget and time allow, until everything is ready to switch over. Sounds like a reasonable plan to me.

Most of Saturday I spent doing Otter-ish stuff. I’ll probably post more about that on the Otter blog tomorrow.


Today I worked on more Otter-ish things, and Ron’s hakama. I figured out the pleating, Ron pressed it in, and for this pair I top-stitched along the edges of the folds for the pleats, since we’re much too lazy to press pleats in every time they get washed. Also done: legs sewed up, which includes the fussy diamond gusset in the crotch, and the ties folded and top-stitched. Left to do is putting on the waistbands (on the big machine), and hemming. I should be able to finish them in one or two evenings, between Otter-ish stuff.

Other Natter:

Ron didn’t sleep at all well last night (re-titration sleep study), he’s pretty sure he woke up every time they messed with this bipap levels. And he’s very stiff and sore in the back and shoulders.  Meanwhile I was up from 3:30-ish – 5-ish.  Pippin had been sleeping on Ron’s bed, but when I came back to bed he apparently decided I needed to be taken care of, and moved over to my bed and snuggled up. We woke up about 7, when Ron called to see if I were interested in joining him on a quest for breakfast (we were). So, heading to bed soon.


Dinner at Lal Qila was very good, as expected. We had leftovers for lunch today. For lunch Saturday we went to Hunan Beijing, a Chinese place on Barrington Rd., I think in Hoffman Estates.  They have very yummy Sezchwan string beans (which are not hot). Robin ate our leftovers from there for lunch today.

Last night for dinner I made orichette pasta baked with sausage and broccoli. The recipe called for spinach or other greens, but we’re not big on greens. The broccoli worked pretty well. The sausage was chicken and garlic, sliced (came pre-cooked, as chicken sausage usually does). Combine with the pasta, broccoli, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Then top with ricotta, which I forgot to buy, so I combined some cottage cheese and some soft creamy greek something that came packed in brine (I can’t read Greek, thought it was feta, but not disappointed, because yum yum). I couldn’t spread my cheese mix on top, so I just mixed it in. I didn’t feel like making buttered bread crumbs, so I topped with bread crumbs and then drizzled with some olive oil. Bake until golden brown. I’m not sure the recipe creator would recognize it with my changes, but it tasted good.

Dinner tonight was Chicken Korma. Saute onion in ghee, add spices, garlic, and ginger. Add tomato sauce and chicken broth. Add chicken chunks. Simmer for a half-hour-ish. While I started rice, Ron pureed cashews in coconut milk. Add to chicken, etc., and some lemon juice, and simmer some more while the rice cooked. The recipe called for pureeing the cashews with buttermilk, but we decided to use the coconut milk because then I wouldn’t have to worry about lactose. The lemon juice was to add some twang that the buttermilk would have given it. I haven’t had korma before that I recall, so I’m not sure what its supposed to taste like, but our version was good. I know what I’m having for lunch tomorrow.


Stringy Bits and Salady Bits

Stringy Bits

I finished my purple satin kosode last night, yay! Ron’s hakama still not started.

I think the fabric that I got at Hobby Lobby the other day is not going to be a kosode, its going to be an outer robe called a (ko-)uchiki, which has wide sleeves and a stepped front opening. Still trying to figure out how to do the stepped front opening, not sure if its essentially a really wide collar, narrow front extensions, or something else. I may bite the bullet and buy the Reconstructing History Pattern, RH410, Heian Lady’s Informal Robes (which spells it uchigi – the differenc mostly being, I believe, the fun of transliterating a language into a whole different representational form).

When I bought the fabric I only bought a yard of coordinating blue, thinking I would use it for the collar of a kosode and maybe cuffs on the sleeves. However, looking through the images on the Kyoto Costume Museum’s Costume History of Japan web pages, cuffs are/were not a thing. However, lining sleeves does seem to be a thing, so I’m thinking of getting more blue and lining the sleeves, or at least putting deep facings on them.

Salady Bits

We had a 6:00 meeting Wednesday night, so we got dinner out.

Last night’s dinner started as a recipe for Orange and Red Onion Salad with Scallops. As you might infer, that’s not how it ended up:

  • Oranges: Check. The recipe didn’t suggest it, but when I found blood oranges at Eurofresh I decided to go with them.
  • Red onion: Check. Didn’t bother rinsing them, as I figured that step was so that purple juice wouldn’t stain things, and who would notice with the juice from blood oranges?
  • Scallops: Not so much. Chicken.
  • Mint: Skipped.
  • Olive oil and rice wine vinegar: Check. Directions said to marinate the onions in the vinegar, but didn’t happen because I missed that bit.
  • Baby spinach: Added because it sounded good and the dish looked a little sparse for an entree without it.

Turned out pretty well. I ate leftovers with my lunch today. The spinach was no longer at its prime after sitting with dressing on it, but not too bad.

More Natter

Tomorrow Ron and Robin are replacing the pressure vessel for our water system (yes, we’re still on a well, and also a septic system). Hopefully this will return us to better water pressure.

I think the plan for tonight is that Ron will drop Robin off at his D&D game, so that we can use the truck to go get the new pressure vessel. Ron has suggested dinner at Lal Qila, the Indian/Pakistani restaurant we like, which happens to be near Menard’s. Yum yum.


More of the Same, Mostly

A friend of Robin’s has started a D&D game, first session was Friday night. That left just me and Ron, so we went out for dinner, then to the Apple store, as the “Home” button on my iPad was acting up. At first it wouldn’t mis-behave for the tech, but after a few tries the problem manifested. We’d bought an extended warranty, so now I have a brand-new 2nd-generation iPad. After that we procured an airbrush, more natter about that to come on the Otter Necessities blog.

Saturday I intended to work on hanging pouches and other leather stuff, but I wasn’t really feeling motivated and got less accomplished than I could have. Ron had the Capricon kickoff meeting for next year’s Cap, which took pretty much all afternoon.

Dinner Saturday was a Thai-style curry, made with the leftover garlic chicken. It was very good. One reason was having good coconut milk – stuff about the consistency of heavy cream, not the watery stuff with semi-solid coconut oil particles. I like the Chaokoh brand that’s in a mostly-brown can, which we get at EuroFresh. The Taste of Thai or Thai Kitchen (for get which) brand is one of the not-so-good watery ones.

Sunday Xap and Xaplet Minor came over, and we had did more sewing. I got my purple satin kosode almost done, only the hand-stitching on the collar left to do.

I hate satin. Pain in the tuchis. It has a coefficient of friction of negative eleventy-billion, which means it won’t stay piled up on your lap or the table with the sewing machine while pinning or sewing, or the ironing board while you’re trying to press a collar into place.  Fortunately, I started out using more pins than usual, so I didn’t mess up anything due to layer slippage.

Once I was done swearing at the satin, I finished Xap’s rust sirwal. One pattern we looked at has you gather the fabric onto a fitted waistband and cuffs, but also gives the option of just using elastic at the waist and cuffs. I opted for a hybrid approach, gathering the cuffs and waistband somewhat, and then finishing off with elastic. For the gathering I tried wide/long zig-zagging over heavy thread (unwaxed linen that I use for sewing leather), instead of two rows of basting stitches.

Two rows of basting gives more control in some ways, as I put them on either side of the seam line, and the zig-zagging is all in the seam allowance. Rather, it was supposed to be all in the seam allowance, but I did wander out, so I had to pull it out, which was not a big deal. Zig-zagging means fewer long bits of thread to deal with. If you’re not careful, you can catch the heavy thread in your seam, which I did at a couple places (but it wasn’t a big deal).

I think the preferred method is going to depend on the project in question. For not-too-long stretches on not-too-heavy fabric, I’ll probably stick to two rows of basting. With heavier fabric and/or longer runs, the zig-zagging is probably how I’ll go.

Meanwhile Xap worked on a short off-white kosode to wear with a steampunk outfit. Everything went so well with all the other sewing, and heaped all the trouble into the off-white kosode. Nothing horribly drastic, but the kind of small problems that I usually expect one of per thing.

First, due to a folding error, a V was cut out of the back while cutting the neckline. Fortunately, it wasn’t too deep, and the body was long enough that the fix was to sew in a shoulder seam below the V. Next, Xap forgot to hem the fronts before attaching the collar. Easy fix, just annoying. Finally, the sleeves were too tight. I’d wondered if we’d done that when she started sewing, but didn’t think to tell her to baste/safety-pin relevant bits in for fitting. It got left with me for fixing.

Dinner Sunday was pork tenderloin, and wild rice salad with leeks. The pork tenderloin wasn’t any recipe, just seasoned with Penzey’s Bavarian seasoning and some lemon juice and roasted.

The salad called for cooking brown and wild rice separately. I simplified by using boxed long grain and wild rice. Toast almond slivers, and cool. In another pan saute leeks, then zucchini. The recipe said serve warm or at room temperature, so  I simplified the prep. Once the rice was done, I added oil to the pan, and threw the almonds in. Then I added the leeks, then the zucchini, at times that seemed appropriate. So I only used one pot instead of 5. I also substituted tart dried cherries for currants, because I thought currants would be too sweet. It was good, We’ll be doing that one again.

Monday night Ron and I were both very bleah, so we invoked plastic and got Fettuccine Alfredo baked with mozzarella and chicken (Ron and Robin), and mostaccioli baked with mozzarella and meatballs (me).

Yesterday I was still very very bleah, with added sinus headache, so I stayed home. I finished my hakama, which needed to be hemmed, and also the side seams sewn up (I’d forgotten I’d only basted the seams for fitting). I tinkered with the sleeves on Xap’s white kosode to reduce the arm openings and round off the corners, which finished that. And I fixed Xap’s off-white kosode. After a trip to Hobby Lobby for a new seam ripper (and more about that trip below), I pulled out the underarm and part of the side seams, and inserted gussets. Funky hybrid of trapezoidal and triangular gussets, that go from the cuff (short-ish sleeves), widen out to the underarm (the trapezoidal section), then taper down to a point (the triangular part). I also started hand-sewing the collar on my satin kosode, and got past the halfway mark.

As I said, I went to Hobby Lobby for a new seam ripper, as the ones I had have vanished (I know at least one broke). The only other thing I’d meant to get was wide bias tape/quilt binding for hemming my hakama. Fail.

First up, I found a bolt of forest green duck on sale for $5/yard. It feels a little light, but should be fine. Robin appeared in search of pen and paper or calculator, and said it was a color he’d wear, so I asked for 8 yards to start, but let me see how much that left on the bolt before cutting. It left nothing, but that’s ok. Ron and Robin’s blue kilts were got out of 7 yards, although there wasn’t enough for double-stacked cargo pockets for both of them. 8 yards should be plenty.

Then I found some cotton calico. It said it wanted to be a kosode. Yellow, with blue and a little bit of silver. Not the colors I usually wear, but it followed me home anyway. I also got some solid blue for the collar, and maybe cuffs:


Last night’s dinner was no-quite salad nicoise (sorry, too lazy to figure out the accent(s)). “Not-quite” because none of use eat anchovies, only Robin eats olives, and only black ones, and I don’t eat tuna (I had beef on mine instead). I wasn’t quite satisfied with the olive oil and red wine vinegar sprinkled on for dressing, it was lacking something. But not bad. I took leftovers for lunch today, but tossed out the lettuce, which had not kept at all well – I think part of the problem there was the work ‘fridge being too cold.

Ron was supposed to go for a sleep study last night, prior to getting a new Bi-PAP machine. He was supposed to be at the Alexian Bros. facility at 9:30 pm. At about 6:20 the place called and asked him to bring the records from his previous sleep study. Which was 6-7 years ago, at Condell (Advocate Condell, whatever). He was a bit grumpy about the last-minute notice, but it was revealed that the Alexian facility hadn’t called him sooner because our current doctor’s office had kept telling the sleep study facility they’d be sending the records. Which they didn’t/couldn’t, as AFAIK they don’t have copies.

Needless to say, after 6 pm is not a time condusive getting medical records (although it might be possible in an emergency), and so the sleep study has been re-scheduled, and Ron went to Condell this morning to deal with the records.

All of which, I think, brings us up to date.

New Succulents and Other Natter

I stopped by the CVS store on my way to work, and as I was checking out I was accosted by a display of succulents in tiny pots. Including lithops.

I did not, as you may have guess, escape succulent-less.

I got two lithops, and another thing I haven’t tried to identify yet.  On the way through the lunch room to put my lunch in the refrigerator, I scooped up a cactus that’s was left by a former employee, and that’s been nagging at my conscience to rescue it.  Here’s a pre-re-potting group shot:


Here’s a shot of just the sad cactus. Not sure if you can tell, but its got a huge crater on the lower left side of the pot:


Here they are after re-potting:


They look much happier, I think (if a little blurry, although the phone is in focus).

Click to embiggen pictures.

The books/experts are right when they say you should top-dress your plants, none of mine have craters from watering. Of course, I also try not to dump all the water in one spot, either.

I tried really hard not to over-water any of the new plants, particularly the lithops. Even though the soil I put them into was horribly horribly dry, the lithops got less than a quarter cup, total, and a lot of that was on the edges away from the plants themselves.

I’m a little concerned about the unknown thing, there’s something about the quality of the leaves that makes me worry that it was over-watered and is getting ready to die. OTOH, the soil it was in wasn’t too wet, so maybe its just the way that one is.

Even though my previous lithops and a rootling died, and I put the new lithops into one pot, today’s addition to the garden has pretty much exceeded the capacity of my windowsill. That’s because the previous two lithops were in smaller pots that I could tuck in the space I had. I decided to put the new ones into a larger pot to get them up higher, and therefore above the molding around the window.

The sad cactus and a successful rootling formed the new annex, in the neighboring cubicle (which also un-crowds my windowsills a bit). Nobody sits there regularly, but the user-of-all-open-cubicles has things spread out on the desk space. Debating if I need to tell him (and the other co-workers) that I will water the succulent garden annex, please leave them alone, or if they’ll be smart enough to assume that. Debating, debating…

Stringy Bits

When I got home last night I found a Marmaduke. He and Robin had the couch, so instead of working on the white kosode, I serged the edges of the pieces of Ron’s navy duck hakama that I cut out mumble months ago. I’m hoping that I can get my plaid hakama hemmed and my purple kosode assembled quick enough Sunday that I can start work on the hakama, so that we can all have new outfits for CodCon (I finished the kosode and kataginu that Ron’s hakama go with a while ago).

I did get a little work done on the white kosode after dinner, about a quarter of the collar left to go.


Dinner last night was pork adobo. The cookbook says it is a Phillipine dish. Put a layer of sliced onions in the crock pot, pork chunks, another layer of onions, drizzle on a half-cup of rice wine vinegar, a half cup of soy sauce, and some sugar, then cook. Not sure why I was originally thinking it had citrus juice, maybe because it sounded good. Served with rice.

The recipe default is chicken thighs, but it suggests pork loin as an alternate. Nucking Futz. Pork loin is going to be so dried out and icky slow cooked. Unfortunately, the pork shoulder I got wasn’t marbled enough, so it was pretty dry, too.  Normally when I do slow-cooked pork, I brown it, then braise it in the oven, and it does not come out dry. I think the problem this time was the meat was too lean (ordered from PeaPod – it actually had lots of fat, but in whacking great exterior swaths, not marbling), not the lack of pre-browning.

I think next time I’ll pick a pork shoulder myself, pre-brown, and cook it in the oven. With citrus. Which probably means it won’t be pork adobo, but that’s ok.

Looks Like Duck…

As I mentioned previously, when we were at the fabric store on Saturday we looked at duck, but didn’t find a light tan to replace the Utilikilt he wears with his suit coat.

When we got home we ordered from “Big Duck Canvas Warehouse”, which I’d found a while back. We got the 10 oz. duck, gray for Ron, and moss for Robin. It arrived yesterday.  This morning I serged the ends, so Robin could start the washing/drying process.

The moss is very similar to some duck we got for Robin from JoAnn. I’m wondering if the difference is just dye-lot and pre-washing.

The grey, under CF bulbs this morning, looked like a blue-grey, almost a German military feldgrau. I’m not sure how its going to go with Ron’s suit coat (which was out in the car to be dropped off at the dry cleaner’s on my way home this evening).

Ron’s suit coat is very dark grey with a subtle rust-ish stripe, I’m wondering if we’d have been better off with charcoal grey or texas burnt orange . . . or I could request color swatches . . . done!

Collar is done on the pale yellow kosode, almost halfway around the white. I realized the other day that my white kosode has cuff of the sleeve sewn partially shut (large diameter sleeve) and the lower corner rounded off, which we did not do on Xap’s. I’ll probably go back and make that alteration, and shorten the sleeves a bit while I’m at it, as they’re long.

The dogs do not entirely approve of me working on the hand-sewing on the kosode in the evenings, as I don’t let them up on the couch while I’m doing so. I’m a little paranoid about keeping the light colors clean, and although the yard is not currently muddy that I know of, letting the dogs near white and light yellow fabric would cause mud to appear out of nowhere.

Another sewing binge is scheduled for Sunday. Saturday I’m planning to work on leather, etc. for Cod Con, which is in two weeks. Tomorrow night we have a Windycon meeting.


Tuesday we ended up going out, for Reasons.

Last night Ron made Garlic chicken. 4 fists of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled. Brown the garlic slightly in olive oil, add white wine, chicken, salt, pepper, and thyme, and bake for 45 minutes. The chicken was supposed to be bone-in, skin-on, but I know Ron and Robin and bought boneless skinless. The directions were to brown the chicken before the garlic, but we were lazy. After the chicken was done, mash the garlic then strain the sauce. Instead we put the garlic into the food mill, which seemed to do a pretty good job of squooshing the garlic out of the skins.

The chicken was a bit bland, but the sauce certainly had character (Robin went back, not for seconds on chicken, but to put sauce on the last of Sunday’s mashed potatoes, which I think were just a sauce vehicle).

While the chicken was baking for 45 minutes I had meant to make wild rice salad with leeks, but that was going to take almost as long as the chicken.

Instead I did a kinda-repeat of a bean salad with not-fennel and not-shrimp. Two cans of little white not-canellini beans, rinsed, drained, and microwaved until hot. Add a thinly sliced red onion, 1 can of sweet corn, drained and rinsed, salt, white pepper, Penzey’s green goddess dressing powder, olive oil, and red whine vinegar. Nothing was measured, so now you can repeat it as accurately as I can!

Saturday night’s dinner is a Thai-style curry that uses chicken, so last night I just threw all the chicken I’d bought for both meals into the pot to cook. Ron suggested adding the leftover garlic sauce to the curry also, which I haven’t ruled out.

Dinner tonight is a repeat of last weekend’s failed slow-cooked pork, which does not actually include any citrus, as I was thinking it did when I last posted.

Kumquats Have Karaqter!

Dinner last night, as threatened, was a salad with chicken, kumquats, baby spinach, and pecans. It was yummy.

Kumquats have character! An I said yesterday, they’re little-bitty citrus fruits, the size and shape of olives. The peel, as you’d expect, is very sour. The flesh is sweet, so they’ve got CHARACTER.

The recipe called for 30 kumquats, 20 sliced thinly crosswise, and the last 10 sliced in quarters the long way. After a slicing a dozen or so thinly I gave up and went to cutting them lengthwise into halves or quarters, then once across – to make it easier to get the seeds out. There’s 2-4 seeds per kumquat. So, dealing with the kumquats was the tedious part of making the salad.  But it was good.

For the dressing, the recipe called for olive oil (preferably blood orange-infused, but we didn’t have any of that), ground ginger, champagne vinegar, and honey. I found crystallized ginger before ground, so that’s what I used. Given how tart the kumquats were, I also added some extra honey. It was on the sweet side, but not overly, and not too sweet for the salad.  (Actually, given that I eyeballed all the dressing ingredients, the “extra honey” statement is suspect).

Robin went back for seconds, and I thought there might be a chance for leftovers for lunch today, but then Marmaduke (re-) appeared and there were no leftovers.

I know what we’re doing for dinner tomorrow, which we’re going to spend sewing. Not sure what the plan is for dinner tonight, as I forgot to mention to Ron and Robin that we needed food while they were out – and I’m pretty sure they were going to go to the grocery store, as we were discussing Scotch Eggs for Zombie Jesus Day breakfast.

Oops, Didn’t Mean to Disappear

I just realized how long its been since I posted.

When last we met, I was preparing to go to the annual floodplain managers’ conference in Bloomington, traveling via train. The day prior to the conference, a Tuesday, was one of a string of Tuesday heavy snows. Harper closed early, so I left early to get Robin. Ron also left work early, arriving in time to take me to the Palatine Metra station. Given the weather I took a train downtown that was an hour earlier than I originally planned. There was little to no delay of Metra, as it turned out, but I’m not sorry I did.

The Amtrak trip to Bloomington was fairly uneventful. There were some crossings around Joliet and Bloomington where the train came to a stop before the crossing, a conductor got out and made sure everything was safe, the train would cross the road, the conductor would re-board, and the train would continue. There as alo a high-speed section where we went 110 mph. Whee! Unfortunately, between darkness and snow on the windows all I could see was the occasional light zipping past.  In the end we arrived in Blomington less than a half-hour behind schedule.

At first I had trouble figuring out where my hotel was from the station, then I took another step away from the front of the station and saw the sign. Google’s tenth of a mile away estimate was good.

The conference was boring. The trip home on the trains was also uneventful, although the Amtrak train was packed to the gills with students heading home on spring break. I think one of the conductors said they had sold all but one seat. I got into Palatine about 10:30 pm. The Metra train stopped in front of the Palatine station parking garage (short train) instead of the station, which are about a half-block apart. Had we been thinking, we would have expected that, bet we didn’t so Ron was waiting for me in front of the station.  Oops, trudge trudge.

Pippin was Not Pleased with me being away. He rather pointedly snubbed me when I got home, for which I just laughed at him. He also spent the night snuggled up. He kinda snubbed me next morning, by the next evening I’d been forgiven.

Let’s see, what else since then?

Ron went with Xap to a funeral in Michigan last week.

Monday afternoon Ron and I had fairly routine visits to the family doctor. I have a bruise and a lump where they drew blood. My good cholesterol was low.

Ron has tomorrow off, and Robin’s on Spring Break this week.

Kind of fell off of the cooking from the cookbook routines for a while, started again this week.

So far we’ve done:

Grits Polenta with Kale Zucchini, Cheese and Sausage. The grits-polenta change is pretty minor, IMO. Zucchini was a suggested alternate. I think I used to much, it was a bit soft. But not bad.

Steak, potato, and green bean salad: I used skirt steak from Eurofresh, trimmed and tenderized. Also over-cooked a bit, but it was tenderized enough that it wasn’t chewy. I used “yard-long” beans (more like 16″ beans) so I didn’t have to trim as many tips, lightly cooked so still firm but not raw. Boil small spuds, then cut up, and douse everything with vinaigrette. I thought the dressing was going to be overly aggressive from shallots, but sitting on the hot potatoes seemed to mellow it. Do again.

Vichyssoise, although the cookbook referred to more mundanely as simply potato-leek soup. The recipe called for a pound of leeks, a pound of peeled spuds, six cups of broth, and a half-cup of heavy cream. I threw in the whole half-pint (cup) of cream. It was yummy.

Tonight is a salad with spinach, chicken, kumquats, and I think pecans. I’ve never had kumquats, which look like olive-sized (and shaped) oranges, before. I got some extra, Robin reports they’ve very sour at first.

Saturday Robin did a thorough cleaning of the pantry. I encouraged ruthlessness when we got home from errands and found the pantry exploded all over the hallway. There’s a floor in there now!  Also a box of not-expired but WTF food (like beans with jalapenos, and more cans of evaporated milk than needed for the canned pumpkin supply) to go to the food pantry, and a bunch more expired stuff that Went Away. The scariest was a bottle of blue cheese dressing that expired in, IIRC, 2009. We looked in horror but did *NOT* open it.

To assist I made clean-out-the-pantry soup for lunch on Saturday: chicken and onion (not from the pantry), broth, a small jar of red sauce, a can each of Veg-Al, green beans, garbanzos, and corn, (including the liquid from the veg, but rinsing the slime off the garbanzos) some jasmine rice, a partial bag of vermicelli, a squeeze or three of lemon juice, and whatever herbs and spices jumped – I think Penzey’s Bavarian and Turkish.

Four Humanities courses at once has proved too much for Robin. He’s not failing any, but his Mythology teacher suggested that he see if he can change the two mythology courses to auditing instead of credit, since he’s past the refund/drop date.

Finished the Van Dyke socks, currently up to the heel turn (working toe-up) on my socks from the “Flame” yarn.