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Open Thread 75

January 14, 2011

  1. January 14, 2011 5:08 pm

    For real. I heard the NE USA is getting hammered.

  2. January 14, 2011 7:30 pm

    I’m a little transfixed by this picture, Soulsis. I can’t tell what it is exactly (my best guess is a cup of hot chocolate or some coffee drink thing?) and the Christmas-tree-shaped swirl in the middle…it’s beautiful, and confusing to me.

  3. January 14, 2011 9:05 pm

    My Friday off, I huff and puff (like the big bad wolf) to get the dusty old plastic bin down from the top shelf in the closet, the very bin that I have been throwing scraps of fabric in for years, in order to fine some cheap Wal-mart print Valentine’s Day fabric that I know I should have, just to find nothing. NOTHING! I have Valentine’s Day garlands to make, people!

  4. Level Best permalink
    January 14, 2011 9:25 pm

    Oh, no, Kitty! I’m always astonished when something isn’t where I think it was, b/c I generally keep a pretty accurate mental inventory.

  5. Pseudoadrienne permalink
    January 15, 2011 2:30 am

    Within the next week or so I’ll hear back from the grad school I applied to, and know if whether or not I’ll finally get out of this work environment– in the fall, anyway. If not it’s definitely time for a new job and some new scenery. Happy Friday everyone!

  6. soulsis permalink
    January 15, 2011 2:45 am

    I made Caldo Verde soup today. omg yum!!! Kale, potatoes, garlic clove, italian sausage and tons of yum secret soulsis seasonings.

    Sittin here fat, dumb and happy right now! Lovin every minute of it. 🙂

    best wishes on grad school PA.

    • Pseudoadrienne permalink
      January 15, 2011 3:20 am

      Thanks, soulsis. Your soup sounds delectable 🙂

  7. January 15, 2011 5:35 am

    Look I don’t know if this is a politically effed up feeling to have and to blurt out, but every single time you all, Soulsis, Margie, and Kitty, talk about cooking things, I just get an overwhelming urge to marry you. It’s not the only reason by far that I fell in love with my best friend in college, but to this day when women know how to cook deliciousness – like have a gift for it – I feel like I would even go against my own grain of hermit-hood and OCD living requirements to bribe you all to live in a commune with me. I would totally do all the cleaning, I’m not looking for a free ride!

    Saving that, getting to hear about your culinary excursions is an ongoing delight. And I do love that mug-o-luv, Soulsis. 🙂

    Hope everybody has a good weekend.

  8. Mary Sunshine permalink
    January 15, 2011 10:30 am

    Saturday morning, and I want a cuppa whatever-that-is for breakfast.

    Has anyone here been able to achieve that same effect on anything you’ve made?

    Is it a steamed-milk thing?

    Meanwhile, I’ll nibble on sliced oranges. Life is good. 😉

    • la redactora permalink
      January 15, 2011 7:00 pm

      Uh oh Soulsis, do I hear you edging in on my position as Official Queen of all things Tea? I never! 😉

    • January 15, 2011 7:07 pm

      According to the English (TBL), Earl Grey should be milk-less. Just a spot of lemon. LOL! My Earl Grey always has milk added.

    • January 15, 2011 7:31 pm

      I always have a drop of milk in Earl Grey, too. I can’t remember the last time I called into someone’s drawing room for afternoon tea and was offered a choice between milk and lemon… and sugar cubes dropped in with silver tongs… ha! As if. I get these ideas from watching TV adaptations of Jane Austen novels. 🙂

  9. January 15, 2011 12:03 pm

    Big mugs-o-love and hugs-o-love to everyone 🙂

    I’ve been up since 5.55 am and have got lots of things done. I am super-efficient! (for once.) I have all sorts of crazy mad work stress at the moment, think I need a new line of work.

  10. Mary Sunshine permalink
    January 15, 2011 2:57 pm

    I come from a long line of cooks and chefs so it’s either natural or i just really didn’t have a choice with culinary brilliance all around me

    Soulsis: Aha! 😀

    Then, if I have a bit more than 2 cups of sour milk, lots and lots of cornmeal and other flours and eggs, 3 lemons, plus the usual other staples, what should I do with it?

    Mainly, I’m trying to use up the sour milk.

    • Mary Sunshine permalink
      January 15, 2011 5:21 pm

      Oi, ((( Soulsis! )))

      Thanks so much.

      Yup, got all that. I’ll make it with the sour milk that I have (if it’s not at the funky stage, yet, and IKWYM about that … :-|), or if it *is* funky I’ll make it with regular milk that I sour for myself using lemon juice.

      I can chop using either my super 500 horsepower hand blender *or* my equally powerful jar blender.

      Lemons are the quintessence of my culinary happiness. Oh, yes.

      Baking is exactly what I do to regain whatever fragments of my mental health might still survive.

      Any excuse to bake. Even if the poor little freezer above my refrigerator is already hopelessly overloaded.

      Off to bake your lemon lovely with joy in my heart …. Yes, there will be a followup photo. 😀

    • Mary Sunshine permalink
      January 15, 2011 9:56 pm

      By hand blender do you mean the immersion one?

      Yes. 🙂 It’s KitchenAid

      No matter what blender you use you want that lemon pulp pureed. (etc etc)

      Ahh! Thanks for that. I haven’t started yet, so will proceed accordingly.

      Hmmm … I don’t have any school or work people to hand it out to, so I always have to insist to myself that I eat up what’s in the freezer to make a bit more room.

      Come to think of it, I have a lot of cooked winter squash in there that I can chomp into right now.

      I used to have a chest freezer before the fire … it’s hard to break the habit.

      When I have less than a six month supply of food, I start getting really nervous.

      Earth lessons die hard (for me, anyway).

    • Mary Sunshine permalink
      January 17, 2011 3:14 pm

      Lemon Lovely is in the oven.


    • Mary Sunshine permalink
      January 17, 2011 4:30 pm

      Oh, it’s lemon meringue pie in a coffee cake pan. * munch* *munch* * munch *


      My ingredients run to the whole-grain and low-income-survival types.

      Here’s what I did:

      Followed your recipe except that,

      => I used 2 cups of the sour milk, to use it all up
      => added a cup of wheat bran to compensate for / absorb the extra cup of liquid
      => used about 2/3 cup of sugar instead of the full amount
      => used high quality margarine that was ridiculously low priced at 99 cents a pound, and that was lurking in the fridge. Used about 1/2 a cup of that in the batter, and greased the 9 X 11″ pan very generously with it, too
      => in place of all-purpose flour used 7-grain whole grain flour

      I started it in a 450F oven because of the heaviness of the dry ingredients, cuz I wanted to give it a quick initial “lift”. Turned it down to 325 after 10 or 15 min.

      Because it is basically a wildly lemon bran muffin recipe, I’m not doing a glaze.

      Took it out when done, and cooled it immediately on my concrete balcony, which today is at a shivering -25C !!! It was room temp within 2 minutes.

      I’m sending you some pix which show the crumb (which is actually better than appears in the snap), and the cooling process. The morning sun on the balcony is blinding, so shadow and sun contrast is striking.

      They’re *perfect* light, fluffy, sweet lemon bran muffins (I cut the pan into 24). I’ve already eaten 4 of them, so, sorry, I won’t have any to mail!

  11. January 15, 2011 7:33 pm

    Wow, soulsis! Your cooking and baking always sounds so delicious and yummy 🙂

  12. January 15, 2011 8:31 pm

    That’s what I’m in awe of – Mary can ask you “hey what do I do with x, y, and z?” and next thing you know there’s a recipe posted to this thread.

    My twin sister is similar to my best friend (though frankly I don’t know that either of them is of the Magic Chef level that you seem to be, soulsis) – it really does seem like there is either this intuition-with-cooking gene in a person, or there isn’t. I can follow a recipe that my best friend gives me for the chicken she makes that I love, and no matter how carefully I follow it, it is never as good to my taste buds as the way she cooks it, where she’s all relaxed and loose with what two tablespoons is supposed to look like, how to know when the chicken is neither underdone nor overdone, etc.

    And my twin will be like, “I’ll just throw some stuff together and make this tasty something-or-other” and when I go home and try to recreate, I just can’t. My dad has this spaghetti sauce and meatballs “recipe” that he makes which everyone who ever tastes it fucking loves, and he’s not going to live forever, and my plan is to go spend the day with him from start to finish, like what he gets from the grocery store and everything, not just once he starts to cook (because he does it all by eyeballing and intuition, etc.), so that once he’s kicked the bucket, we can all still eat delicious meatballs. But part of me feels like, what’s the damn point? It’ll end up tasting like Chef Boyardee no matter what the fuck my cooking-inept ass does!

    I think I have the tiniest bit of that gene though, in a super limited and random way, because once in a while I’ll get the feeling of craving something and I’ll trust myself to try to make it and I’ll end up happy. Angel hair with butter, garlic, squirt of lemon juice, and white wine being one such example. I just would love to be good at cooking chicken and fish.

  13. January 15, 2011 9:20 pm

    “I used to think that it was just that either you didn’t have a good teacher or that you didn’t follow the recipe the right way. Now I understand that it’s both passion and love that makes a dish good or not.”

    That totally makes sense. And thank you for the tip about the thermometer, I’m going to invest in one promptly.

    I have noticed that when I feel – I don’t even know how to describe it, but it’s kind of the love and passion thing – I do better cooking. When I’m being OCD about doing things “right” or not, and/or when I’m nervous or concerned, that’s when things just fall flat. It’s like that for me outside of cooking too, I’ve noticed – I can fuck up either something I’m doing or what I’m saying, things I totally know!, when I’m nervous. I will leave shit out, stutter, reach for anything in desperation instead of reaching for what I know, in non-nervous times, is the easily-reachable right thing, etc. It’s amazing what relaxation and feeling *good* instead of concerned can do for any endeavor I guess.

    And I seem to do better when I’m cooking for other people actually too. Whenever I’ve had friends over for dinner, I’m so happy and relaxed while I’m cooking, it’s almost a meditative experience, corny as that sounds, and it’s like I’m a whole different cook, ha. I’m still no Julia Childs or Soulsis, ha, but I do okay.

    For me, food is such a nourishing thing on levels beyond the physical, that’s part of why I care so much about wanting to be good at it when I’m doing it for myself as well. I feel like it’s part of being good to myself, part of taking care of my health, to feed myself well, and to take the time to do that. It’s not nearly always possible, and I also love to go eat at a restaurant when I can afford to, but there is something about making a meal that I really love, and feel lucky to be able to ever do.

    • January 15, 2011 10:48 pm

      I so agree with this, too. Food nourishes us in more ways than one, for sure.

      And I agree about necessity being the mother of invention. My best friend always marvels when I visit her house and cook her food from what she describes as ‘completely bare’ cupboards. She’s like, you’ve made that food out of nothing! Lol!

  14. Linda Radfem permalink
    January 15, 2011 10:35 pm

    What a cosy thread. I agree, that pic is very soothing! I have one more shift to work before I get a week off! I desperately need the rest. I might drive the eight hours to visit my friend for a couple of days, and/or do some cooking myself. Or just do nothing! Also, if I can indulge myself for a second, I am very proud of my beautiful Out And Proud daughter who has been volunteering at a homeless outreach service and reading radical feminist texts, totally independently of my recommendation. Life is good.

  15. Mary Sunshine permalink
    January 17, 2011 4:13 pm

    Soulsis, I *always* feel that way when any of the landlord’s maintenance staff have to come in here. Paranoid, dissociated, fearful, aggressive. I figure it’s natural.

    I run around ahead of time shoving things into closets and cupboards, maybe the bedroom, closing all those doors.

    My kitchen is bristling with knives ( I imagine yours is, too), within 10 seconds reach.

    I go into commando mode until they’re out of there.

  16. Linda Radfem permalink
    January 17, 2011 10:10 pm

    Thanks soulsis, I felt a bit invisible for a second there. I empathise with you and Mary Sunshine re having tradesmen come to my apartment. I actually put up with not being able to run the fan in my oven now because the electrician that is contracted to do repairs is so creepy and obnoxious. A few years ago we argued on the phone because he failed to turn up to fix my tv aerial (which I later fixed myself) and then tried to make out that he had come by but I wasn’t home. I ended up hanging up on him and he called me back and left a menacing message. Something along the lines of “Now listen missy, you better talk to me”, a tone he would never have used with an owner/occupier and definitely not with another male.

    It’s the worst part about renting really; I hate that a rich white dude is getting richer out of me needing a roof over my head, but that’s more ideological and somehow more abstract. The feeling of powerlessness when it comes to deciding who can access my home is sometimes enough to make me cry. You know, when I have to let males in for this reason, or when the real estate agent does the bi-annual inspection, I try to make sure I have a friend here with me. And when they knock I call out “Just a second” and then after they wait a minute I open the door and say “Please come in” followed by “Ok here is what I need you to do” as if I’m in control of the situation. Sometimes I ask them to remove their shoes as well. All little things but I feel like it helps.

    • Mary Sunshine permalink
      January 18, 2011 4:01 pm


      Would your landlady be interested in knowing about what he did?

      Are flick-knives legal where you live?

  17. January 18, 2011 4:10 pm

    My daughter has a 102.3 fever. I had to call in and say she would miss school. Calling in is so emotionally triggering for me. For her school and for any job I’ve ever had/have. I see/hear people call in all the time like it is nothing. But even when I am sick or my daughter is sick, I feel guilty. I know it is that guilt that employers and schools rely on, but as a personal problem, it makes me feel like crap. It is an emotional obstacle that I should have conquered by now.

    • Mary Sunshine permalink
      January 18, 2011 4:14 pm

      Kitty, I know what you are feeling. I used to feel that way. Is it because we feel stressed by knowing that other people will perceive us as having failed to meet their requirements?

      I’ve been thinking about your daughter for the last day. Funny, that. I send circles of healing energy around her.

    • January 18, 2011 5:28 pm

      Thanks Mary. She is sleeping, so I hope she sleeps it off. Her school load is heavy and in addition to thinking of her health, when she feels better we will have to tackle all that she missed. Personally, I think they go too fast, but what do I know?

  18. Level Best permalink
    January 18, 2011 4:50 pm

    I can’t really read most websites’ comments on my home laptop because it’s so old (about 15 yrs old!) just trying to get to comments often shuts it down completely, so I am just now, at work reading this thread. How amazing it is to me–black, white, in various countries, we all do the same things when repairMEN come in to do things. We don baggy clothes, conceal a weapon, pray the guy or guys don’t want to go to the bathroom, hide things, clean up afterward. Its primal fear, and men are the ones who have put this fear into us all our lives. On a number of occasions I have “friendily” welcomed in a repairman while holding onto the derringer in my pocket.

    • January 18, 2011 5:20 pm

      Not to mention what fucking assholes they are. A year or so ago when the kitchen floor had to be replaced because the floor was cheap tile as it was replaced with, the man moved the stove to find a buildup of dirt/dust. He was so annoyed at what he found that he said he would be informing the landlord because the stove should be moved and cleaned under at least twice a year. I took it for what it was. An asshole who feels like in a male system he is on the bottom (or closer to the bottom than the landlord) so he needed something to make himself feel better. I did in fact tell him to fuck himself and told him I would be telling the landlord the same thing if he dared to mention anything about under the stove. Make a kitchen large enough that the stove can be moved without blocking the sink and/or tearing up the floor and we will talk, until then STFU. Then when my daughter visited a potential three-bedroom unit after she had twins she complained to the maintenance man (who was doing the walk through with her) that the unit was in poor condition and she would stay in her two bedrooms until a nicer unit became available. The maintenance man complained to management that she is just a snotty bitch who thinks she is too good for what is available so instead of keeping their word and letting her have the option of falling to the end of the waiting list they instead removed her from the waiting list all together and said she cannot get back on it until a year or so. Fucking assholes. Every little prick throughout the day does whatever they need to do to feel like they have power over someone instead of searching their soul sand trying to find space for compassion and dignity. Women who mimic men are the same way. They all act as if if they cannot power over someone, they cannot feel alive.

  19. January 19, 2011 1:16 am

    I really really really hate Dr. Oz. More than him, I hate all the smug people who follow him like he is Jim Jones and cannot wait to share with you what they learned on Dr. Oz, and how if you do not get with the program you will DIE, DIE! three minutes before them, and when you do, they will be alive three minutes longer to say, I told her to listen to Dr. Oz.

  20. January 20, 2011 3:46 pm

    The child is still with fever. Now, all the snot and coughing and congestion is here. Ugh. I had to cancel my blood-letting appointment. Bummer. And we have that ghastly wind from the East.

    • Mary Sunshine permalink
      January 20, 2011 4:21 pm

      Are you satisfied that it’s “just” a viral infection? I do herbal remedies for those sorts of things when one grabs me. Would you like any suggestions?

    • January 20, 2011 4:34 pm

      At first I was. Now, I am getting a little worried. The fever (102.6) this morning surprised me. I thought after two days off she would feel better, but, I think today may be the worst of it so far. One thing for sure, throughout the day yesterday and the day before she never got up and hopped around. When it is really not that serious she will get silly and energetic in the afternoons, but she has not this time around. And you know when you are caring for a child you have to navigate through suspicions of the child not wanting to go to school vs actually being too sick to attend. I haven’t seen any signs of avoiding school. I can say she has a little friend who prides herself on going through school regardless of how crappy she feels, and that friend was sick last week. When I suggested my daughter do the same thing she retorted, “That girl didn’t know what time it was all that day, that will not be me.” Which makes me wonder why that girl chooses to go to school when she is sick (and why her people let her), then again she was also traumatized when her first report card only brought in a 3.8. Her older brother was a perfect 4.0 when he was in Middle School and from where I stand that girl lives in her brother’s shadow. Poor thing.

      Feel free to give any remedies. I will see what I can do with what I have here at home.

  21. Mary Sunshine permalink
    January 20, 2011 5:30 pm

    First off the bat, when my daughter was a lil grrl and got that kind of sick, I gave her goldenseal root powder. That was the 70’s and people were not yet putting it in capsules, nor had echinacea hit the scene. It’s unlikely that you’ll have this around the house, but if you do … It’s actually a good thing to keep on hand. Get organic. It should be organic anyway, because it is wild-harvested. If possible, get it from an actual herbalist who deals in bulk herbs. It’s quite expensive, but you don’t need a lot. Also, it’s very bitter. I mixed it with a tablespoon of water and some honey and made the ailing grrl choke it down all in one gulp. Googling goldenseal will tell you a bit about its mechanism of action.

    Let’s see, what are you likely to have around the house. Cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and honey – that mixture – is a standby for such situations. If lemon juice is not available, apple cider vinegar is entirely suitable as a substitute. The mixture should be diluted to make a warm drink that can be comfortably swallowed.

    Here’s an easy one: salt water gargle. Surprisingly effective for averting colds, and diminishing the duration.

    Effective but not appealing: a clove of raw garlic, peeled, and crushed *in the mouth*. Take a swallow of water immediately upon crushing the garlic, and before the garlic is swallowed. This will protect against irritation caused by the strong, but effective, volatile substances. I have stopped a cold in its tracks this way.

    My mom used to give us flat gingerale and melba toast.

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