Monday, February 16, 2009

A quick story before bed

It seems like it is yet again one of those nights. M is asleep on the couch and I am here at the computer, tired but not quite ready for bed.

I haven't written down a new neighborhood antidote in a while so here goes. As you all know we are building our house in a "emerging" neighborhood. This brings a lot of culture into my little Midwest born-and-bred life. And the vast majority of it I truly enjoy and appreciate.

So... the other day I was out in the driveway of the house and a minivan stops in the street in front of me and rolls down the window. Now, I am not alarmed, as this happens at least once a week when I am over at the house. People have a lot of questions and some of them they actually ask.

This time in the van was a woman about my age, driving, and a woman who appeared to be her mother in the passenger seat.

This was the woman with questions.

Here is how the conversation went:

"What is that?" She asks, curiously, but not rude

"A house" I answer

"In this neighborhood??" She replies with a head bob and swing I will never be able to replicate. After all, she was born with a sense of rhythm.
"Who's house is it?" she then asks

I say "it's mine"

"In this neighborhood??" She replies with the same bit of cultural attitude
"To sell?" she then asks

"No" I say, "my husband and I are going to live in it"

"you are?" she says, "In this neighborhood??"

By this time I can see that her daughter is frantically trying to shush her. While crouching as low in the drivers seat as she can.

After a few more questions followed by "In this neighborhood??" they bid me a good day and drive on.

I'm sure we are viewed as "those crazy white kids, building that crazy (or possibly godawful) house" But all-in-all our new neighbors have been very friendly and welcoming to us. Sitting on the front steps yesterday, I kept thinking this is going to be a good place to be..."In this neighborhood??" She replies

Oh and just to let all of you know...the roof is finally on!! That means stucco and wiring cannot be far behind. yay!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mix CD

So it is my turn to make a mix CD for my CD club, yet another thing that J at work has gotten me into.

hmm.... what to put into it. I started by doing originals and remakes i.e. Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd and remade by Scissor Sisters. After a few of those, I realized that my itunes library of over 15000 songs didn't have all of songs I wanted, and since we all know I am song challenged*, I soon gave up.

*I have the ability to know every single word in a song, sing along with it on the radio declare it one of my many favorites and have absolutely no idea who sang it, wrote it, or what album it came off of. M loves to play "who sings this song with me"

So now, I have started pulling together songs that I enjoy. So far I have:
High and Dry by Radiohead, and remade by Jamie Cullum;
Blue Light by Mazzy Star;
I Will Survive, the Cake version; Galileo, written by the Indigo Girls, done by Blind Man's Bluff, a now defunct acapella group I knew in college;
Closer to Fine by the Indigo Girls;
Dancing Queen by ABBA, another college fave;
Oh, Atlanta by Alison Krauss;
Hot Hot Hot!! and Pictures of You by The Cure.
Oh and of course, the versions of Comfortably Numb mentioned above

Revised it now looks like this:
High and Dry - Jamie Cullum
Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd
Galileo - Blind Man's Bluff
Closer to Fine - Indigo Girls
So, It's Like That - Joe Banamassa
I Will Survive - Cake
Dancing Queen - ABBA
Comfortably Numb - Scissor Sisters
Rainbow Connection - Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
Revival! - Me Phi Me
Spin the Bottle - The Julia Hatfield 3
These Boots Are Made for Walking - Nancy Sinatra
Oh, Atlanta - Alison Kraus
Pictures of You - The Cure
Blue Light - Mazzy Star
High and Dry - Radiohead
Such Great Heights - The Postal Service

Not too bad, but it doesn't have any REM, OAR, KT Tunstall, Mudcat, etc... I guess that is why you can always do one more mix CD!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cooking Club: Japanese

So The Veg and I along with a few others from work have this cooking club thing. We get together once a month or so and have a great meal. This last month was a Japanese meal, sushi, soup, and cookies and ice cream.

ummm, cookies and ice cream??

Yes, as you can see we stuck with the traditional meal and I got to make the traditional cookies and ice cream. Actually, they were definitely Asian inspired and gluten-free and vegan to boot. I'm sure you are all on the edge of you seats waiting for the fantastic recipes that follow!

Jasmine green tea Almond Breeze "Ice Cream"

3 cups Almond Breeze
4 TBS Jasmine Dragon Pearl loose leaf tea
2/3 cup sugar
2 TBS Arrowroot

I think that is the recipe, I am currently doing this from my faulty memory*

Bring 2 cups of the Almond Breeze to a boil add the tea and steep off heat for 15 minutes

meanwhile, stir together the remaining sugar and Almond Breeze, bring this to a boil making sure all of the sugar has dissolved add the arrowroot stir in and take off heat. last time I added the arrowroot straight to the hot liquid, I think it would incorporate better if you mixed it with a little of the Almond Breeze with it before adding it to the hot liquid.

Strain the tea out of the reserved Almond Breeze and mix it in with the hot liquid. Chill overnight and then use your ice cream maker of choice to turn it into frozen goodness.
* I think I may have added some vanilla too, I'll have to go back and check.... nope no vanilla added

* Please note the very Asian maple leaf cookie cutter I found at Dekalb.

Now, Black Sesame Cookies with Matcha Tea Icing
totally ripped from this site: made gluten-free and veganized by me and the Veg

The real ingredient list: (modifications in italics)

Black sesame cookies with matcha icing

For the cookies:

  • 50g / 1.75 oz. raw black sesame seeds
  • 120g / 4.25 oz. dark brown muscovado sugar
  • 250g / 8.8 oz. whole wheat or white cake flour (‘soft’ flour) or regular white all-purpose flour (totally skipped this flour and added the "nearly normal" mix I always talk about)
  • 100g / 3.5 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature (we are going vegan here folks, so some strange margarine took the place along with vegan shortening when we ran out of the margarine. Mom, please stop shuddering at the word margarine, I promise I don't have any in my house!)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 large egg (again vegan, I was going to use egg replacer, but the Veg didn't have any so we mixed a tablespoon or so of tapioca starch with about a quarter cup of water, it kind of worked)
  • A few dashes of almond extract

For the icing:

  • 8 Tbs. powdered (icing) sugar
  • 2 Tbs. matcha tea powder
  • 1 Tbs. egg white or egg white substitute
* I don't think I measured any of this and just did water instead of the egg white. Oh, and the only matcha tea I could find was double matcha green tea. Hence, the green flecks in the icing.

recipe directions can be found here: Leaf shaped black sesame cookies with matcha tea icing

Believe it or not both were very yummy and will be made again...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Life through the flickering computer monitor

So much of life seems to happen these days with a keyboard under my fingers and my eyes glued to the screen above. Reading the latest email from a friend, finding out about the cute thing that their child had done, a tragic story of a loved one, the latest plans for a trip or meeting, or a new recipe to try. They all come at me through my email, google reader, or facebook. Drawing me closer to my friends and family, exploring new ideas, sharing the latest news or gossip. But also putting a glass wall up at the same time. Being connected, but not, through the wireless internet.

I curse and adore the technology around me. I love that I feel connected with everyone I hold dear while on the road or sitting in my living room, but also miss the phone calls that seem to be replaced by texts, the facebook post instead of a letter. On the same token, I am able to keep up with so many more of my dear friends by utilizing this cursed technology. And we all know how good I am with the phone call / letter writing thing. I still have not gotten my Christmas presents mailed out!

Lately it seems that life has been through some pretty high highs and some pretty low lows for those around me. M and I seem to be bystanders touched by these joys and tragedies rather than participants lately, but I also know that can change in an instant and you all would be there for me as I am there for you.

So I guess what I am saying is keep posting, emailing, and sharing. The lives we lead are nothing if we do not share the little things and the big things. Please know that I am jumping for joy with your successes and triumphs and shedding a tear, or a few more, for your failures, tragedies and heartbreaks and, as always, saying a prayer. These connections keep us together, even if they come through a computer screen instead of over a cup of coffee. But, if you ever want to truly chat know that I am, at most, only a phone call away.