Life Gives You Lemons


I don’t understand this
October 16, 2007, 7:00 pm
Filed under: news of the weird, random beauty

I don’t know what a sim is, or the exact definition of machinima. But I don’t have to. You don’t have to either.

This is beautiful. A “video” of creating Van Gogh’s Starry Starry Night within second life.

Found on Christopher Penn’s blog.

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Recipe: Saturday Evening with Old Friends
September 23, 2007, 1:57 am
Filed under: random beauty, recipes

This meal built around

  • truffled reggiano cheese

So you’ll want a very good cheese shop. You can substitute (or magnify the effect) by using black truffle oil when you “dress” the cooked pasta.

In a market you trust, buy:

  • fresh pasta (gnocchi, tortellini or other “small bits” shape works best)
  • sweet italian sausage
  • red peppers – sound, ripe
  • asparagus – look for finer, slender stalks and good green color
  • mushrooms – look for clean, tender ones. almost any variety is ok

Rinse the red peppers and asparagus, but NOT the mushrooms. Set the asparagus aside to drain and pat the red peppers dry.

Prepare the Asparagus. Hold your hands as if to play the piano and take each end of a spear of asparagus lightly between thumb and fingertips. Hold the whitish end near the base and the budding end 2/3 of the way along. Gently flex the stalk while rolling your right thumb up the back of your finger, twisting slightly. Allow the stalk to snap where it wants to. Don’t be anxious about how much “good” asparagus is wasted. It’s NOT that good. And, you can use it in stock or compost it.

Prepare the Mushrooms. With a very clean dishtowel, lightly whisk off any flecks of dirt. Do not wash. Slice. Sautee in a small amount of olive oil or butter, almost as if you were toasting them lightly. Cover and allow to weep. You can add minced shallots or a very small amount of finely chopped onions to the oil before the mushrooms, if desired. Fleck with black pepper. Set aside.

Boil Water. Fresh pasta won’t need to cook long, but have the water ready.

Light the Grill. Fire roast the red peppers until they’re charred on all sides. Remove from the grill, cool slightly, and place into a paper bag. Grill the sausages. Tag someone who’s drinking a beer and shooting pool to be your grill buddy and keep an eye on them for you. After the grill is off, set your crusty bread, wrapped in foil, on or near it to warm lightly.

Finish the Red Peppers. Once cool enough to handle, rub the charred skin off the red peppers. Work under cool running water, and peel/rinse away the stem and seeds also. Tear the peppers into slabs and slice the slabs into neat strips. Serve them cool or rewarm them in the steam or hot water from the pasta, later. Dust with mixed spices and good balsamic.

Now you’re cooking. Set the asparagus tips into a colander or steamer insert and steam them over the boiling water. Boil the pasta lightly, drain and toss with just enough oil or butter to coat (butter, good olive oil, truffle oil, etc.). While the pasta is still very hot, shave plenty of the truffled regiano over all the pasta, tossing gently to mix well.

You can add finely minced ribbons of fresh, young basil or mention the phrase “freshly ground black pepper” while standing near the serving dish. Then again, you can use velveeta. Truffles are subtle. If you tamper, you could miss the point entirely. If you need more flavor, the answer is more truffled regiano, not more stuff.

When the asparagus is done, transfer it immediately to the serving dish. Arrange mushrooms, pasta, asparagus, red peppers and sausages on a large platter. Serve with warmed crusty bread, more regiano and a grater, plenty of red wine and laughter. Linger long at the table — you all have tales to tell.



Dreamy Cajun Shrimp
September 14, 2007, 12:30 am
Filed under: odd random thoughts, random beauty, recipes

Have the engineer swing the barbeque davit outboard, hang the grill from it, and start a big bed of coals going with that nifty charcoal chimney. Oh right, nevermind, just use your little cast iron stovetop grill.

Peel the shrimp and set them in a small bowl, just larger than the number of shrimp. Hey cool, it’s shrimp for one, not for 40!

Mash or mince to a pulp about a clove of garlic for every 7-12 shrimp. Or so. Really, it’s on you how much you like garlic you like, and how much of the heat you want to come from garlic. Rub the garlic into the shrimp so they are well coated and let sit.

Look for these in your spice cabinet:

  • chili powder
  • hot pepper flakes (or cayenne powder, just something for heat)
  • thyme
  • peppermill (black pepper)

Thyme’s really important. Since you don’t have it this one time, pinch hit with basil & oregano and regret that — WAIT — there’s a pot of it growing out back!

  • pick lots of the tiny little thyme leaves as many as you have the patience to

Spread the shrimp out in the bowl to something like a single layer. Sprinkle with chili powder until all are coated. Add the thyme, maybe 1/4-1/2 as much thyme as you just used chili powder. Be lavish with the black pepper. Now add heat (pepperflakes or cayenne powder) judiciously. You have to learn your limits here. Start with maybe a pinch and work up into it.

Add the tiniest bit of olive oil and stir well to make the spices a paste. Shrimp should be pretty well coated but not totally encrusted with spice. Add more thyme & chili powder to increase coverage if needed.

Grill on a wicked hot grill until shrimp are opaque & curled tight. Flip. Ok to blacken a little. If you’re going all-out, make some extra marinade that is runnier and hasn’t been in contact with the shrimp. Brush this over them while grilling.

Serve with rice, tropical fruit, Red Stripe, corona, rum punch, a margarita… Whatever it takes to bring on the memories!



Reconnecting with your family: a How-to
September 11, 2007, 9:38 pm
Filed under: heroes, parenting, random beauty

Wow, so, from Divorce to Reconnecting your family, we gots all kinds of family (dys)function goin on here at LGYL. (There something you’re not mentioning? Like that you just fell off the friggin face of the earth & then returned w/out a word? -Ed.) [Um, yeah, that blog pause? You have NO idea. -Lmns]

But back to this post. We’re pausing… (again, dammit? -Ed.) [No, I mean shifting gears from obnoxious to eloquent. Will you just shaddap Ed? -Lmns] …for an uncharacteristically sentimental moment to ponder some of the wonderful, beautiful things about family, and ways of reconnecting. Now that I’ve totally ruined the mood, take a deep breath, smile, and consider these ways of connecting with those you love most:

Reconnecting with your family: a How-to

Presence. Quiet. Conversation. Shared experience. Touch. Collaboration. Play.

Preparing + sharing a good meal.

Love as a verb more than a noun.

Stepping away from the web, the gadgets and the external world. (Tho its sometimes possible to reestablish civil terms via email when something goes off the rails.)

Shared effort/work/accomplishment: Chores, yardwork, raking leaves, chopping wood, shoveling snow, accomplishing together. Shared exhaustion and satisfaction in a job well done.

And when we got home, well we just started chopping wood
Because you never know how next year will be
And we’ll gather all our arms can carry
Dar Williams

Retreat/vacation: Even just goofy daytrips. Especially goofy daytrips. I friggin love goofy daytrips.

Also incredibly important — self care and self-love. Nothing above will work without it. This used to be my biggest problem. The more solid you can be loving you, the more you can give to others. The oxygen on the airplane? Put your own mask on first.



Coney Island, Thank you.
July 24, 2007, 2:56 pm
Filed under: heroes, news of the weird, parenting, random beauty, women

Who knew our debt to Coney Island?

This surreal back story on the origins of neonatology from Sweet|Salty:

Coney Island, he said. They had a display, a freak show, for lack of a better word. Perhaps one day a baby was born too soon and this experimentally-minded doctor said ‘Let’s see if we can keep this fetus alive outside the womb…’ and he managed it, and then again, and then they were all hooked, trying to get them to survive smaller and smaller, and nobody had ever seen such a thing. It was one of the most popular displays. 

We got off so easy. 34+ weeks. Healthy. Just 8 days’ NICU. Coney Island, I’ll never look at a corn dog the same way again.

Kate is another hero. My baby’s twin whispered silently, commonly, away just into the fetal period. She’s had the strength to meet, love, nurture and surrender her Liam, sharing his short life and radiant memoryspirit —

When the sun dapples through the trees they whisper we have him. They may be all the sum of osmosis and photosynthesis and veins and nutrients but to me altogether they are one voice that breathes, knows, keeps.

— with every one of us.



Nasty rotting food Thursday
July 20, 2007, 4:46 am
Filed under: news of the weird, odd random thoughts, random beauty, recipes

Tonight the gig’s up. You’ll know which is the foulest of eggs, tomatoes, carrots, ground turkey and potatoes.

I’ve really avoided sitting down to write this. But, it’s time for the ground turkey story.

We’d buy ground turkey in frozen 5 pound white plastic wrapped torpedoes. Thawed, the pink, pulpy mush wasn’t too bad in recipes. The tubes needed to thaw a few days in the refrigerator, but were otherwise pretty easy to use.

I should mention, the cook & engineer on a ship are bound to butt heads. Electricity, fresh water, refrigeration & cooking fuel are scarce. The engineer gets PO’d if, say, the cook blows the power system with a coffeepot, starts a grease fire, clogs the drain or stresses the delicate heating and cooling systems at her disposal. The cook’s never thrilled when stuff breaks, especially should the engineer not believe her. If the engineer was a fussy eater to boot, look out.

So this one engineer and I did. not. play. well. together. Irish guy, mid-40s. Nothing worked right that trip, and I blamed him. No meal was quite to his taste, and he pestered me for extras. Always at the moment I was exhausted and hiding behind the counter, having just birthed yet another sitting’s (there were 6 a day) worth of food. For 40. I managed to make crepes (for 40!) one time? He wanted lemon wedges and powdered sugar. Yeeeeah.

For all our mutual animosity, there was one night in St. George’s Bermuda, after a lot of Dark & Stormys, when he wanted to dance to a roaring Irish waltz. Nobody was up for the ‘old fashioned’ dance or the rapid pace. He conceded to ask me largely due to a new dress and cutoff cowboy boots. The band was great, and I wasn’t about to miss the chance. Laughter at the unlikely pairing snuffed out fast as we got going. I floated. I flew. I thrilled. We danced too fast and wild to remain upright, but somehow didn’t fall. I had no clue what I was doing and I didn’t have to. He danced for me. If waltzing always feels like that I’m a damn fool not to have dedicated my life to it.

Shortly after, the ground turkey exploded.

The refer had run warm for days. I thought the system was failing but couldn’t convince anyone. The engineer was in twice a day rolling his eyes and blaming the temps on overcrowding, warmth from leftovers, too much opening the lid and everything else but the basic problem that it was no longer cooling down.

Predictably, a tube of ground turkey set in there just to thaw quickly rotted, swelled, and popped its white plastic skin. I slid from surprise to horror to fury when I saw what had happened. The smell left little doubt what that gunk was. Greenish pink tufts of wet mush clung to everything. There was smelly pulp on every food item and surface inside the refer, even clogging the drain at the far end. I called in the engineer, demanded to know if he believed me now, and then threw everyone out of the galley.

No clue what we ate next or how. It felt like it took hours to unload, wipe down, sanitize and dispose of all the rotting meat. That the bulk of it could go overboard was a small blessing, but I was traumatized, mean, and thoroughly pissed.

It was pretty bad.

But, it was not THE nastiest rotting food experience I ever had…



Job of the Future: Community Superhero
July 19, 2007, 5:24 pm
Filed under: random beauty

Superhero Chris Brogan (@ChrisBrogan) has been very very kind to this blog, and to many gazillions of us in the social media space. And now we are wondering if this guy knows Seth Godin (or vice versa) because Seth sure just described him perfectly in a blog post…

Chris is an accelerator, a cheerleader and a phenomenally kind, bright spark in the tinderbox. Watch and learn.