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Barely a Two!

May 26, 2020

I have been on a pretty good streak with recipes this past few weeks.. lots of 4’s (out of 4)… and I was feeling all master-of-the-kitchen.

Tonight, I baked my first tofu. I’ll barely order tofu in a restaurant, let alone cook it at home.. but for some reason this recipe looked pretty good, “Baked Tofu with Peanut Sauce and Coconut-Lime Rice.”

Lots of ingredients… white rice, coconut milk, fresh squeezed lime plus its zest, jalepeno, molasses, arugula, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, red bell pepper, veg oil, scallions, soy sauce, fresh ginger, peanut butter and tofu.

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You make coconut rice, you make some pickled peppers, and you make a spicy peanut sauce that goes on the tofu and bakes to a caramelized glaze:

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Then you assemble and garnish…

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And serve…

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And damn, if it wasn’t thick, gooey and cloying, and, according to Jim, tart.

Won’t make it again, but learned a bit about tofu and peanut sauces and pickling… and making coconut rice.. that was good. They said it was coconut-LIME rice, but it wasn’t. Huh.

I gave it a 2, Jim gave it a 2+…. and we have a lot of tofu with thick, glazed peanut sauce leftover. Ugh.

Recipe people are fallible.

 

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day

May 25, 2020

At dinner tonight, Jim and I tried to think of anyone we knew — in our families, extended families, community of friends, community of acquaintances — who had died fighting in a war on behalf of the United States.  It wasn’t until we got down to that last one — community of acquaintances — that we could even imagine anyone we knew who might have died in a war, any war. I can’t name anybody, but there must be someone we know. A lot of wars and certainly a lot of folks who’ve died in them.

While we couldn’t summon a single name, we acknowledged it’s an enormous sacrifice.. losing one’s life for one’s country.

A few weeks back, as we watched Ken Burns’ documentary series on the Vietnam war, I felt emotionally wracked by the whole mess.. by the wrenching decisions that were made that kept us in that conflict, by the senselessness of battles, of deaths, of being there at all. I just can’t imagine the pain of losing a son, a daughter, anybody, in a war, any war, and especially a war that served so little purpose. It just turns my stomach. I’ll never get the images out of my head of those the young men, barely men, in all that chaotic, brutal combat. And then to die.

I’m thinking about you. You gave everything.

~~

Not that this belongs in the same post…

Memorial Day = the start of summer. I can’t begin to organize all of THOSE thoughts. How is it, on the uphill side of a pandemic, people are out, in force, to celebrate — in some cases with a nasty vengeance — their freedom. Crowded parks, beaches, beachside bars and restaurants. Little to no compliance with what remains of guidelines.

So.. awful. Not going to discuss that one at this moment.

I have a couple pics on the day, though.

First.. yesterday, Ruben and his crew finished leveling the front yard and then turned their attention to the back. They removed thick (THICK) vegetation from about 1/3 of the backyard.. here’s what it looks like right now:

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That is bare ground, where once a thicket of shrubs, flowers, weeds and a ton of construction detritus and former garage junk existed! Today, Jim segregated the wood he wants to hang on to — stacked in the back there — from the scraps he’s willing to let go of (prouda him). He’ll continue to add to this pile of junky junk and Ruben will haul it off next week. Out of camera shot, there is a bunch more (plants, trees, weeds and junky junk). Within a week or two, the back will be a tabula rasa, ready for the next phase.

While Jim did that, I made a new Spotify channel (my first, actually,  John Prine channel which turned out to be audio heaven) which I listened to while swinging in the hammock:

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It hit the high 90s today (so got an early morning Arboretum walk in with Janet before it got too unbearable).

I had the outdoor ceiling fan going at top speed, but it was still too hot by mid afternoon to lie out there. Shifted indoors and wrote 20 postcards to would-be voters in Arizona, encouraging them to register to vote by mail online and then vote for Mark Kelly for Senate in their August primary!

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Made some wee progress in my book (The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller, about the aftermath of a pandemic, of all things), and then Jim and I launched BBQ season with turkey burgers and grilled eggplant.. and fresh tomatoes and pears… ah.. summer.

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No beach. No park. No picnics. No family/friend gatherings.  And let me add.. no judgment on that (except for those who did not do those things safely). I know people who were out, and together, and celebrating summer, and who did it carefully and respectfully. I’d have enjoyed being there, too. We just didn’t have the opportunity or imagination.

But had a nice day anyway.

 

 

 

 

The Great Greats

May 24, 2020

Let’s start with River…

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river skooters

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Then Magnolia…

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little mom

 

And finally, Juniper…

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Berkeley’s Freight and Salvage is offering streaming concerts. Free. They encourage you to pay the busker, but it’s not required for viewing. I watched one of my favorite folk singer guys, Jeffrey Faucault. I did not know he was partnered up with another folk singer Kris Delmhorst. She’s also wonderful. Their teenage daughter even came out and the three of them sang a Cole Porter song which was just lovely.  It was 90 minutes of really great music… highly recommend it as something to accompany a snack.. like apples with peanut butter. It was a win win.

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It’s not a great shot, but I did a screen capture, which gives a little bit of a closer look at Jeffrey and Kris… in their kitchen.

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Mask Solutions

May 22, 2020

Everyone’s trying to figure out best mask practices. I think most have now accepted that we wear them in public … if we get close enough to people that it’s necessary and/or to show respect. There are the scarf-style masks, the buff-style masks, normal mask-masks.

These days–because they’re so much easier to pull up when needed and draw down when not–I wear a buff more often than a mask mask.

But today, since both buffs need washing (another mask management issue), I had to take/wear my mask mask on my walk. It’s inconvenient if you’re constantly putting it on and taking it off (time was, I just left it in place for a whole 5-mile walk, but that seems like overkill these days). Especially if you have to navigate the straps around sunglasses, earbuds, earrings and a hat. So I figured out a new way to have my mask at the ready without having to carry it: loop it through my sunglasses, like this:

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(I know.. goofy looking).

And then, when somebody gets close, easily pull the dangling strap over to the free ear, like this:

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It’s a little lopsided, but mostly does the trick!  (I’m still smiling for the camera, you just can’t see it.)

The buffs are still the better mask solution..

 

 

Hanging Around

May 21, 2020

Not getting enough of this…(how is that even possible…?)

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I feel like I need to add a comment, though. Swinging gently in a comfy hammock in a candy-colored backyard (even if it is filter-embellished) on a sunny spring afternoon completely belies my mood. I feel just shitty today (in my head, heart). Some days — probably those without all the multiple distractions I’ve managed to fill my days with (good distractions) — the angst hits hard. Today for example.  I mean, if you allow yourself the time to actually think about what’s going on.. you gotta feel pretty uncomfortable with where all this is going. It’s like the phrase if you’re not mad (sad, scared..), you’re not paying attention.

It IS bad. I AM mad, sad, scared. Most of the time, though, I’m busy with political action, cooking, exercising, watching the Crown, even cleaning.

Today a lot of it hit me.. combination of sheer exhaustion at having to bear that batshit crazy fool of a president* we are suffering under; the wretchedness of white supremacist murders gunning down a young black man out for a jog; news about the just endless corruption in a ravaged government; the complete immorality of the administration’s response to a virus still killing people by the thousands; the prospect of a brutal campaign ahead; despair over the idiocy around us (I’m looking at you mask deniers).. and just weird stuff… for example, the buckling of higher education under decades of elitist manipulation.. it’s always seemed wrong and now, caught in the coronavirus mess, it’s showing its many flaws. I didn’t even expect to be slammed with that today. But it just added to such a weariness.

Anyway… gotta stop. I’m late for the Crown (every night I’m late for our agreed-to time to sit down and watch it).  Just sucks today. I have so much more to say.. and I just can’t seem to find words that are adequate to describe the sheer, sad, messed up clusterfuck this all is.

So enjoy the candy land hammock pic.

The Covid Nineteen

May 19, 2020

This explains the so-called Covid nineteen. (Pounds, that is.)

This was dinner a couple nights ago… a bevy of leftovers, a few produce drawer salvations, and one new thing. And some wine, followed by a bunch of cookies.

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First, the leftovers…   The white rice was the vehicle for chicken with coconut milk,  tomato and ginger (the chicken was finished off a day or two ago); steamed broc from a few nights ago; the last of the roasted potatoes from “Mom’s chicken” dish a little over a week ago; and some excellent cheesy tomato risotto… from about 4  or 5 days ago.

Then the new thing… that’s salmon sauteed in brown butter with diced cucumbers (of all things), garlic and lime.. a bit weird but okay enough. May not make the cut, but it helped me brush up on my brown butter technique.

And, finally, the produce that needed to get eaten stat: an avocado, and steamed red bell pepper and zuc.

 

Tonight’s adventure was a pretty good cheesy, spicy black bean bake that I wish I’d gotten a picture of, with 5 (yep) cloves of garlic. I sauteed all that garlic, chopped, in very hot olive oil, added tomato paste and a mix of Mexican spices (chipotle, smoked paprika, cumin, red pepper, ancho..), added canned black beans and a bit of boiling water, then topped it with a ton of cheddar cheese and stuck the whole pan into the oven for five minutes to melt and brown the cheese.  Had it with cornbread muffins that Jim had baked about a week ago.  I’m not a bean person but can handle black beans and I ended up liking this one more than Jim did!

It was a good refrigerator-emptying couple of days!

Think we’re eating too much?