Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Thursday 13--Home Decor

 

For the longest time, my house wasn't really "decorated".  We just didn't have much in the way of home decor, and we moved several times, so it seemed like it was a wise idea to keep the decor down to the bare minimum.  On the down side, it didn't really look like we LIVED in our houses for the longest time.  When we moved into this house, and later bought it, it was time.  I love photographs, and have lots of those on tops of bookcases, all of our family members.  Here are 13 other little things that all mean something to me.

1, 2, and 3.  We used to have a Kirkland's here (a home decor store), but it closed, and it's probably a good thing, because we LOVED that place.  Too easy to spend money in there, and they always had great sales.  This little house, the cute hedgehog, and the little plant all came from there.  Love DOES live here, and this shelf makes me happy every time I look at it.

4, 5, and 6.  The shelf pictured below is an homage to my mother.  The small picture is her in Poland, at about age 2.  She looks so carefree, even though there was a war going on (my Mom was born in 1941).  I love the big bow in her hair.  The middle photo is her at 79, taken on my second to the last visit home to South Carolina to see her.  We had a wonderful day at the Columbia Zoo and Gardens.  The little candle is from Myrtle Beach--she bought it for me and sent it out a couple of years ago.  Funny thing--my family spent a ton of time at Myrtle Beach over the years, but I've never been.  


7.  I bought this little horse in Ruidoso, NM last year over 4th of July at the Flying J Ranch to remind me of the great chuckwagon dinner we had that night.  We'll be going back again this year!


8.  When I got my very first "big" management job, as a Director of Nursing, my in-laws bought me this lovely paperweight.  It's always sat on my work desk, but these days, I don't really have the room.  It looks pretty in the living room.

9.  My opa (German for grandfather) passed away when I was 6 months old.  Pretty shortly after this picture was taken.  It is the only picture I have of any of my grandparents holding me, which is kind of weird, I think.  He had some sort of brain cancer.  He was a talented woodworker, and built the house my Mom lived in after they emigrated to the United States.  He also made amazing furniture.  One of my most prized possessions is a large cedar chest with several kinds of inlaid wood that he made for my mother.  It has a plaque on the front with her initials.  She gave it to me when she moved here.

10.  Last summer, when we went to Boston, we also spent some time down on the South Shore, where my parents lived.  We went to Duxbury Beach, which was a place they both loved.  Duxbury had all these cute little shops, and I found this little knit (or crochet, maybe?) cactus in a pot for Hubs.  She even has a name!  He liked it so much, he moved it out to the living room.

11.  A work friend of mine bought me this lovely little Nambe' silver heart.  I had the seaglass beads around from some other project, and thought they looked good against the silver.  She and I worked together in my previous department, and I really miss spending time with her.  Hopefully we'll be able to get together soon.

12.  This is another of my prized possessions.  On one of our mini-cays during the pandemic, we spent the weekend in Santa Fe, which is about 45 minutes from here.  We found this sassy roadrunner (our state bird) in a art gallery near the hotel.  This particular Dine' (Navajo) artist, Chandler Begaye is known for his folk art animals, and I just loved the colors.  He's hand carved from the roots of a cottonwood tree. 
 


12.  This really just says it all, doesn't it?  It has pride of place on the biggest bookcase in the room, among photos of our parents.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Cooking is Fun... And Easy!! Minty Lamb Meatballs with Spicy Tahini Sauce and Lemon Zest

This weekend, I had an interesting time exploring Molly Baz’s cookbook Cook This Book: Techniques to Teach and Recipes to Repeat.  Last night, I did a riff on her Minty Lamb Meatballs with Crispy Cabbage and Tahini Sauce, but you know me, I like to punch things up a bit so I've adjusted this recipe to our tastes.  In hindsight, after making it, I also decided to to this on the stovetop and change up a few more things.  

Ingredients

1 small green cabbage (or red if you prefer)
3 garlic cloves, divided
1 cup mint leaves, divided
2 lemons, halved, and one of them zested
1 medium sweet onion
1 egg
1 pound of ground lamb
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Diamond Crystal kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, divided
1 teaspoon sambal oelek (chili paste, I like Rooster brand...you could sub in sriracha here) 
Large heavy skillet
Fork, placed in freezer

Step 1. Slice the onion into four planks, crosswise through the onion, and cut each plank in half crosswise again.  You'll end up with a lot of "C" shaped pieces of onion.  Quarter the cabbage and slice the core end off and remove the inner core of the cabbage from each quarter.  Slice what's left into 4 slices long ways.  You'll end up with a lot of cabbage "ribbons".  Toss the whole lot into a bowl, and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil.  Season liberally with salt and pepper, and toss until the whole lot is nicely coated with the oil  Add a drizzle of additional oil if you feel everything is not coated.  Set aside.

Step 2.  Time to make some meatballs!  In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg, add the panko bread crumbs, add 2 tablespoons of the tahini, the cumin, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and stir until combined.  Put 2 garlic cloves through a microplaner into the mixture.  Chop 1/2 cup of the mint leaves and add them to the mixture, followed by about 1/3 of the lamb.  Using your cold fork from the freezer, gently mix the panko mixture into the lamb until its evenly distributed and no pockets of panko remain.  Do not overwork (the cold fork helps with this).  Add the remaining 2/3 of the lamb and, still using your fork, mix in.  Roll into meatballs, again taking care to be gentle and not overhandle the meat mixture.  Over handling (or overworking) will make your meatballs tough.  Place the meatballs on a plate or a sheet pan.  Take a small pan, and cook one of your meatballs.  I can't stress this step enough!  The meatball should be browned on all sides over medium heat, and an instant-read thermometer should register 150--that's perfectly medium for lamb.  Taste your single meatball--do you need to add anything to the mixture?  More salt?  More cumin?  More whatever?  If not, place the meatballs in the fridge to cool.

Step 3.  Make the tahini sauce by stirring together 1/2 cup tahini, 1/2 cup water, the juice of two lemons, the sambal oelek, and 1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.  Put 1 garlic clove through a microplaner and mix in.  Whisk to combine, it should have a pourable consistency, so add a little more water if it’s too thick.  Set aside.

Step 4.  To cook the cabbage/onions, put 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is shimmering, toss in your onions and cabbage.  Stir into a single layer and let saute until the bottom starts to char, about 8 minutes.  Stir the whole lot, and repeat.  It's done when the cabbage and onions are nice and soft with little charred bits here and there.  Remove to a plate.

Step 5.  Cook the meatballs in the same skillet you did the onions and cabbage in, no need to wipe it out.  Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and cook over medium heat, adding the meatballs when the oil starts shimmering.  Cook on all sides until browned and an instant read thermometer reads 150.  Remove to a couple of paper towels.  Toss the cabbage and onions back in the pan to warm.

This recipe serves 4.  To compose each plate, spread 1/4 of the tahini sauce on the plate, sprinkle 1/8 of a teaspoon of Aleppo pepper over it, add 1/4 of the cabbage/onion mix, 1/4 of the meatballs, and 1/4 of the remaining mint leaves, then sprinkle with 1/4 of the lemon zest.   

Buen Provecho!!


Monday, March 28, 2022

Bullied

Hubs and I were having this conversation tonight....about bullies.  And how we were bullied.  I've got to tell you folks, I was bullied and it still affects me.

If you've read my blog for any amount of time, you know that I grew up in Mississippi.  We moved there when I was 5, and all traces of New England (where my parents are from) were wiped away.  We lived there until 6th grade, in various and sundry towns, and then we moved.

To Connecticut.

Which, I'm sure, for my parents was a going home.  My father never pronounced an "R" (pahk the cah in hahvad squayuh....otherwise known as a Boston accent, or a non-rhotic R).  I think they were happy to be going home to be near their elderly parents.

My brother and I suffered.  I think me the most. We moved to this tiny-ass town outside of Ledyard, CT called Gails Ferry.  My Dad worked at the giant shipyard many miles away, but my parents always wanted to live in the country, which was a good thing in general.  The bus I took to school had this evil boy....Robert.

That boy teased me and bullied me every.single.day until I refused to go to school.  He called me a hick, a redneck, dumb, stupid, idiot, and many other things that broke me.  I am a Southerner.  And that boy made me feel like being that, growing up that, was the worst possible thing that could happen to a person ever.  And some little tiny part of me, the insecure part...believed him.

Long story short, I refused to go to school.  The next year, in the middle of the school year, my parents moved us back to Mississippi.  I don't know the back story, but we went back.  And I was embarrassed to be what I was.....a smart young girl with a long Mississippi drawl.  I decided the accent was the problem, and I worked very hard to lose it.  I gave up a part of MYSELF because of this boy who bullied me.

I still mourn it.

But you know what ya'll?  I still say ya'll.  I love Southern food and culture.  I abhor many things about the South, but those things aren't me. And I know...in my SOUL of SOULS that I am not the things that boy called me.

Fuck you, Robert.  Wonder how YOUR life turned out....

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Sunday Stealing--From Pinterest


1. Are you living a meaningful life.

I like to think so.  It’s meaningful to me, at least.

2. What’s the one thing you cannot live without?

Oxygen would be hard to live without. 

3. When is it acceptable, if ever, to break the law?

Well, around here, if you’re not doing at least 10mph over the speed limit on I-25 and I-40, you will either cause an accident or be run over. This means you'd better be driving 85.  85mph...seriously.  Kind of scary.

4. What do you want your final words to be?

I would prefer not to have final words.  I just want to die peacefully in my sleep.

5. What do you think are the five most beautiful things in the world?

Boy, these are some heavy questions.  The most beautiful things in the world?  Kindness, Charity, Peace, Community, and Love.  Those will work for me.

6. What makes you feel empowered?

Being trusted to make the right decision.

7. Which is more important–what you say, or how you say it?

In our world today, with texting, and emails, and working remotely, I think very carefully about HOW I say things before I hit send.  It’s easy to misconstrue something when there’s no tone of voice or body language to go with it.

8. Do you live to work, or work to live?

A little of both, I expect.

9. How do you think the world will change in 10 years? 50? 100?

10 years...who the eff knows.  50 years...we're probably effed.  100 years?  I don't have high hopes.  I'm just gonna live in the moment, ya'll, as best as I can.

10. What is something you’re certain you’ll never experience?

I am relatively sure I’ll never hold my grandchildren.  It is what it is.  Some would say you reap what you sow, but eff that, things just are what they are.  I still have hope, which is a relatively new thing for me...for a long time I had too much hope, and then I had years when I had zero hope.  So a little is better than nothing.

11. What one responsibility do you wish you didn’t have?

The weight of the financial solvency and planning on my shoulders (I've been thinking a lot about planning for the future lately).  Hubs doesn’t want to have anything to do with financial planning.  It pisses me off, but it’s another one of those things that just is.   I need to put this house and stuff in a living trust, because it's all in my name.  I don't want him to have to go through probate and all that.  I'm currently searching for an estate lawyer who won't fleece me.

12. What is something you’re embarrassed that you’re so good at?

I can be very pedantic sometimes.  Very much like Hermione Granger in Harry Potter.  I’m very smart, and I like to tell people things because knowledge is just so cool, you know?  Then I realize I’m being very Hermione and it’s annoying to other people, and I get embarrassed.

13. What’s the one thing you most want to achieve before you die?

I’d like to catch up on saving for retirement.  The side gig is really helping with this.  I want to have a decent retirement, like my Mom, where I don’t have to worry about every penny.  I've just finished reading a great book that absolutely blew my mind called I Will Teach You to Be Rich, by Ramit Sethi.  Lots of great ideas, and I'm pleased to say I'm following many of them (side gig, funding my 401K to get the full match plus, etc.)

14. What’s something that offends you?

The lack of consideration in society right now.  What happened to us caring for each other? 

15. What makes you most angry about the country?

This return to authoritarianism and hate for those unlike us.  I was so disgusted by the questions asked of the supreme court nominee, I wanted to vomit.  What has happened to this country--there are so many who want to turn back the clock to a time when so many people had no rights at all.  WTF?!?!

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Cooking is Fun... And Easy!! Things Don't Always Work Out as Planned

I decided to dig into my cookbook collection this week.   One my best finds was at Goodwill, a 2021 cookbook by Molly Baz called Cook This Book: Techniques that Teach and Recipes to Repeat.  It was a 20$ cookbook that I got for 3$.  I really like this book, because Molly has a very irreverent and fun style of writing.  This cookbook seems geared towards Gen Z types who live on Insta and so forth.  Regardless, I like her tone of voice, and the QR codes that take you to short YouTube videos on certain techniques.  This was the first recipe I tried from her book, and I've got to say, it was somewhat disappointing.  Super tasty, though, but it needed tweeking.  

Following a recipe to the letter doesn't necessarily mean it will turn out like you expect.  That's a good lesson to learn when cooking.  Hubs and I talked it over, and together, came up with some ideas to make this better.  To be fair, Molly Baz's recipe was fine, it just wasn't our thing.  So, stay tuned for our thing.

I just wanted you to know that I'm not perfect by any stretch, and her recipe wasn't bad, it was just not US/ME.  I look at this as a stretch in my cooking journey, because I'm learning what pleases my palate, and have ideas about how to make that happen.  I'm not counting this as a fail, but more like an incubator for ideas.  I'm looking forward to tweeking this to our taste, and will share THAT recipe with you when I get it where I want to be.

Buen Provecho!!