So, I have been thinking for the last few days about starting a new quilt. Digging for fabric in the closet led me to digging out all of the fabric in the closet. But this is not all of the fabric that I have. There is some in the cedar chest of doom, but I knew it wouldn't go with the fabric I'd already chosen as my inspiration.
First surprise, I found an already assembled top in the Trip Around the World pattern, using the exact yellow fabric which was my inspiration. Obviously, something had drawn me to it.
I kept digging to see what else I could find. Oh kiddies, your Ysha is quite ashamed of herself. I sorted the fabric into non-quilting, cotton and flannel. And like I said before, this isn't all of it. I know there's half a bolt of the green dragon flannel left from MY quilt in the cedar chest and the fabrics that I used when starting Boo's quilt are in a bin.
I spread the flannels out so that I could see what was there. I couldn't fit it into one photo on wide angle (ok, I was sitting in the floor right next to it, I might could have if I'd backed up). It took three frames and I still may have missed a few. In my defense, I bought most of this several years ago at JoAnn on Black Friday for $1 a yard. But this is still a silly amount of fabric.
I didn't even spread the cottons out, I just left them in their nice little pile, there's not nearly as many of those.
This doesn't even count fat quarters and other such things.
SomeONE (me) needs to get cracking on some baby quilts this year. Even if I never branch out from the Trip Around the World, I need to work some of these up and find homes for them.
Son, I tell you whut. Being in Chicago turns me into a wide eyed little girl. I walk around gawking at everything in the world and loving this city.
It's been a very long week, and what I really wanted for dinner was a nice glass of pinot noir and a big juicy steak. When I came back from my neighborhood exploration earlier, I inquired of the concierge(Ryan) where to get the best steak closeby - he sent me to Morton's, even made a reservation for me. I could do with a concierge in my life all the time, someone to recommend restaurants and take care of the details.
I popped around the corner and into the restaurant at the appointed time and was immediately seated. But the man seating me didn't provide me with either a menu or a wine list. What the hey? So, I just figured the server would bring it over in a few minutes, but I was still a bit confused.
The lovely Miss Jenn brought me the wine list and asked my preference for the "water service". *snicker* Source Municipal (as Waiter would say) is just fine for me thanks. Jenn told me that her co-server Angela would be over in just a moment for the "menu presentation".
My wine comes and a nice busser drops me a fresh baked loaf of onion bread. Still, no menu. Angela passes by and tells me that she will return momentarily for the "menu presentation".
At this point, I am expecting a musical number to accompany this presentation. Is a huge dancing bear going to come out of the kitchen and hand me my menu? Are streamers going to float from the ceiling as it touches my dainty hand? This is some serious buildup for a menu, no doubt.
I didn't have to wonder for much longer. Angela comes over wheeling a cart of food. I say to her, "honey, that's not a menu! That's the whole kitchen!"
She laughed and began her presentation. On this cart were several trays of food covered in cling film. She listed off each menu item (they weren't ALL on the cart) and displayed the various cuts of beef for me. All of the steaks she showed me were huge and promised to be delivered in that size. Then she starts talking about the seafood selections and brandishes a plastic lobster at me.
WAIT ONE DAMNED MINUTE HERE!! THAT'S NOT A PLASTIC LOBSTER!!
Yes, babies and darlings, it was a live lobster. She picked him up and he wiggled at me. I expressed my mild disdain (with a "oh my god! That's a live lobster!") and then she finished the presentation. Luckily for those of us with a rather short attention span, she then left me with a hard copy of the menu so that I could consider my choices.
I had already eyeballed them online and knew that I wanted to try their "legendary" chocolate lava cake, so I didn't go wild on dinner. I ordered the single cut filet (smaller portion) and the garlic green beans. Dinner was scrumptious.
Dessert was damn near perfect, BUT for their signature dessert I expected more. Oh, it was large enough and it was fresh from the oven (I'd had to order it before my meal came since it takes 30 minutes to make). It was nicely oozy in the middle and served with a very good quality vanilla ice cream. But, I dunno, the chocolatey flavor was a wee bit ..... flat. Like maybe it could have used a teeny smidge of salt in the batter.
WHAT? I never denied being a food snob.
Anyway, dinner was terrific and I managed to only act like I just fell off the turnip truck a few times. We won't talk about the price though - just know that I stopped at the 7-11 across the street and bought a BOTTLE of pinot noir for the same amount I paid for a GLASS at the restaurant.
Since I've moved, I really don't bake anymore.
I love my gas stove. Did you know that it is possible to make cook n serve pudding in the span of a commercial break? It always took something like 20 minutes at dad's house. Needless to say, I'm trying not to keep so much pudding in the house or I eat too much pudding. But I love it so.
But my oven? I HATES it! First, it doesn't tell me when it's up to temperature. I've had to buy an oven thermometer. Secondly, there's no light in there, so I have to pull out a flashlight to read the thermometer. The temperature seems to vary by 50 degrees in either direction depending on the moment. It takes almost twice as long to cook things as in Dad's electric oven. AND my cookie sheets didn't even fit in there, I had to swap dad for the smaller ones.
Did I mention that I hate that oven? I try to avoid using it when I can, using the toaster oven whenever possible.
Maybe I'll experiment more with custards and other stovetop desserts. Once I can get myself to lay off the pudding.
It's been almost a year, but I've finally figured out where I went wrong with last year's Cinco De Mayo spread.
I set up my fondue pot and put cheese in it to become all melty for the tacos and nachos. I used Queso Fresco, which has a lovely lovely taste. But it didn't melt for doodly, just glomped and burned.
Last night, Alton's show was about more uses for tortillas. In this show he mentions that queso fresco is great because it doesn't melt and run everywhere.
OOOOOOOOhhhhhhhh! Oops, I learn something new every day.
I'm still dealing with the lack of interest in food. I don't watch food network as much as before, nor do I surf the food blogs as much. If something strikes my fancy in the little perusing I actually do, I'll throw myself into it with zeal. However, nothing has really struck my fancy for a couple of weeks now. Most evenings I eat a quick sandwich or a microwaved convenience meal of some sort.
However, this week was my mum's birthday. Normally, I plan for this for weeks and weeks. Actually, last march, when I first had shrimp and grits, I thought that'd be a lovely birthday meal for mum. Then I used that recipe for christmas, when I went over and cooked them dinner. She loved it and wouldn't have complained about the repeat, but it takes a bit too much effort for a tuesday night after working all day. Especially with the sort of days that I've been having.
I solicited my livejournal pals for advice, but then the wonderful boyfriend called me up with the idea that sparked a darn good dinner - why not grill some shrimp or chicken? Mum loves the shrimp, but only if it's deep fried, so I tossed that out and went with the chicken.
Last week was pop's birthday, and we'd gone out for his dinner - to Outback Steakhouse. The first thing that jumped out at me from their menu was the "grillers", beef and veggie kabob served with rice and grilled pineapple. The grilled pineapple was wonderful. I loved it so and was dying to use some myself. So, I tossed that into the menu for mum's dinner.
We wound up marinating boneless chicken breasts in pineapple juice all day, then placing them and pieces of fresh pineapple on the barbecue grill. While that started cooking, I threw together a simple salad with bagged greens, diced mango, and toasted almonds. Then I whipped up a fruity vinagrette with mango pulp, lime juice, pineapple juice, chardonnay, white wine vinegar, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper.
I went out to check on the chicken and they were cold! Oh no! Out of gas! We swapped out the tank for a fresh one and were back in business. But we weren't really. Something was wrong with the burner and the flame kept going out. So, I moved the chicken breasts (which did have a little color and grill markage on them) and pineapple to a pan and put them in the oven. 20 minutes later, the chicken still seemed incredibly underdone and the pineapple were juicing all over them. I extracted the pineapple and moved the chicken to the stovetop. In the time that it took for the pineapple juice to be absorbed/evaporated, the chicken finished cooking and actually carmelized slightly in the juice (only about 5 more minutes). I then sliced the chicken into small bits and put it atop the salad, with the pineapple on the side.
It turned out to be a lovely, healthy meal. Not at all the sort of fare that I usually make for mum (heavy and cheese filled), but we all enjoyed it greatly. I was thankful for my flexible nature, I've known folks who would've thrown the whole thing out when the grill died.
Next, we moved into dessert. My version of bananas foster. I had a recipe once, but over the years that I've made this, I've made it my own. As you may know, I rarely measure anything, a trait that I find endearing in myself and infuriating in others. I melted maybe half a stick of margarine in a pan (mum never has actual butter) and added what looked like way too much brown sugar (but really wasn't). When it came to a simmer, I added banana slices and stirred it around gently until the bananas started breaking up, telling me that they were done. At that point I added a small splash of vanilla extract and a goodly splash of dark rum (myers). Let the alcohol cook off and spooned it over vanilla ice cream.
In good keeping with my diet, I only ate a very small amount. My stepdad, who really isn't that much of a sweet eater, paid me the greatest compliment by having to have two large servings! I also found out that night that bananas foster is one of mum's favorite desserts. Perhaps sad that I didn't know that, but it has just become so in the last 5 years, in which time I haven't lived with her.
One very nice thing about the lack of interest in food is all of the free time that I find myself with in the evenings. No longer do I come home from work, cook something, clean up, and fall in a heap on the couch. Instead, I've been crafting like a mad woman. This week, I finished the organizational drawers that I've been painting, knitted a scarf, and knitted a sock. I will follow up later with pictures of some of my finished projects.
I've not had near the interest in food that I previously did. I do still occasionally get excited enough to cook, maybe once a week. Early this week I tried out a recipe from Paula Dean for an italianish chicken cordon bleu. It was ok, but caused the reflux to kick up and has thus been banned.
I'm more about the crafts lately. Last weekend, Mimi and I had "sock sunday", where she came over for the day and taught me to knit a sock. I finished the first one that day and started the second. I didn't finish the second one until friday, but it was a busy week.
I've also been painting up these cutesy crates with drawers that I found at Michaels. I'm trying to get my craft supplies organized, and this is helping greatly. Probably with two more crates I'll have enough drawers for all of the interests.
I found a new project which interests me greatly, but the more I think about it, the more I think it'll take quite a bit of time to make. I'd like to make it very special.
My abstinence from the gawd nectar (pepsi) is not going quite as well. I haven't had one in 19 days now, but I WANT ONE! Probably a hormonal craving. I've done so well though that I hate to give in now. I'm just trying to hold out a bit longer. I never said I'd give them up for life, but not drinking them is surely helping with the weight loss.
I had planned to spend weekends in January learning to bake bread from scratch and to do it well. I've done it a few times and it turns out ok, but nothing to praise. But, like most plans, it had to change.
Sometime just after christmas, I developed a pain in my back. As the days went on it got worse and began to extend all the way down my right leg, making every step painful. I finally went to the doctor on tuesday of this week, mainly just to get a referral to my chiropractor (so that the blasted insurance would pay for my chiropractic visit). The doctor declared that it was most likely sciatica and started talking about surgery for my back and weight loss surgery. I let him know that I was nowhere near ready to consider gastric bypass. I like sugar, thanks, and don't want to be poisoned by it everytime I slip up and eat a little.
So, he loaded me up with drugs (including an appetite suppressant), a diet plan (1600 calories a day), and sent me off for x-rays and chiropractor visit. The chiropractor says that my hip was just out of joint, but even after he put it back the pain has stuck around. It does seem to be getting a bit better though. Follow up to that, my xrays looked fine, but I still need to lose some weight. That was sort of a duh anyway.
The point to all that rambling is that experimentation with bread has been thrown right out. Instead, I'm searching for healthier meals. I just read Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat and it has me all fired up to look toward an asian inspired diet plan. So, tonight, I whipped up an asian feast, then only ate a small amount of it.
It was absolutely lovely, but my camera batteries are dead, so I can not share it with you. Teeny homemade spring rolls, about as big as a finger; a beefy broth with bean threads; garlic stir fried green beans; brown rice; and a chicken and veggie stir fry that was mostly veggie.
I'm looking forward to more fun with asian cuisine. I'm hoping to overcome my fear of bonito flakes. Actually, it's not fear so much as disgust, but maybe I can beat that too.
Now that my gall bladder and I have parted ways, I find myself in an odd situation. I am beginning to feel enough better to feel like cooking, yet still can not seem to eat anything. Peanut butter sandwiches or cereal or cheese seem to be the only foods that don't cause intestinal distress. Truthfully, those just cause the LEAST amount of distress.
But it's only been 5 days. I should be able to start eating normally after about 10 days. That'll put me just in time to kill myself on christmas. I've promised to make dinner for the mum on the solstice and dinner for pop and his family on giftmas itself. I'm finding it hard to plan these meals when I may not be able to eat them.
My uncle will be bringing the roast beast and I am to make the side dishes. Actually, he's bringing a smoked beef tenderloin. I haven't got the foggiest notion what to make to go with that. Hopefully, I'll be struck with inspiration soon.
I don't know if I've mentioned it here or not, but I hate tomatoes. Ok, so maybe "hate" is a bit too strong of a word these days. I am slowly acclimating myself to a tolerance of them, most especially if disguised. I love salsa after all.
Although Pop's tomato plants have some sort of weird fungus (it makes the plants start dying from the ground up) we have a plethora of tomatoes. My auntie's tomato plants have no such blight, so she keeps sending dad home with them. Way more than one man, no matter how much he likes them, has been able to keep up with.
So, today I put a rather large dent in his stash of tomatoes. I made pizza with homemade sauce (I make the best pizza ever) and gazpacho. The boyfriend even helped out with the gazpacho since he'd actually eaten it before and I had not.
My pizza sauce is made in the style of margerhita pizza, only then I throw lots of toppings on the pizza. Start with a few tomatoes, squeeze out some of the juice and seeds and chop them up. Then add a couple of crushed cloves of garlic, a generous pinch of kosher salt, and a splash of olive oil. Chiffonade some fresh basil and allow the whole thing to mingle for a bit before using.
I can barely stand to get pizza out anymore, I've ruined myself for it. I spread this sauce on a prepared pizza crust (like a Boboli crust, only I buy the Kroger brand), top it with lots of yummy things (shallots, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, olives, more basil) and several kinds of cheese. This is when I quite often clean out small leftover amounts of things from the fridge, like some kalamata olives that I'd bought a few weeks ago and a couple of feta stuffed hot peppers, just chop them up fine and spread them about. Yum yum yum.
As for the gazpacho, it won't be truly ready until tomorrow. I used this recipe as a starting point. Of course, I never measure much of anything, and I left out the celery because I don't care for it much. I did, however, add a bit of celery seed to the soup. Pop and I tasted it and agreed it was quite tasty, that will be tomorrow night's dinner, along with a bit of garlic toast. Almost a healthy meal, if not for the garlic toast.
Best of all, I reduced the number of tomatoes rotting away on the windowsill and found one more way in which I will endure a tomato.
I will admit to living my life in a quite ostrichlike fashion most of the time. I'm completely out of touch with world events, politics, and most trends. So, I have to ask this:
What exactly is a "trans fat" and why should I care? Is it the new "carb", to be shunned until fads change?
The other night, when I appeared with the nutella cake in hand, I thought that one friend was going to cry. It seems that nutella is just loaded with the trans fats (dur, very few things in life taste THAT good and aren't bad for you!) but he really wanted to try it.
I don't think that I am fat because I eat trans fats, or carbs for that matter. It's because I love food and eat too much of the stuff that is super tasty and super unhealthy. But, hey, you never know, maybe the trans fats are the things keeping me from discovering my super powers. Maybe I could fly without all those trans fats weighing me down.