Thanksgiving Morn

Be Thankful So Thankful

6 a.m.
Awake. I don’t know why. It’s cold and dark, but at least bed is cozy. Flannel sheets, a husband, two quilts, and a cat will do that. I’m surprised it’s only the one cat. I suspect that Kenzie is off sleeping with Mini. It’s close enough to breakfast that there are possibly a pair of expectant beasts in the kitchen. But I’m not hungry yet, so I scroll through Instagram and Twitter. If I were home, Mom would be waking me up soon to “help” make get dinner started. Help means she’d tell me what to do. I started out helping, actual helping, when I was about 10, and it pretty quickly progressed to if I was capable of doing a thing on my own, then I did it. Not just with Mom, but my grandma, too. But she was in a wheelchair, so I never minded. It would be easy to be irritated, since I am not a morning person in the least and never have been, but there is something different about cooking. I love the warmth of the kitchen, and the organized bustle that goes on when cooking a big meal with a lot of moving parts. We’re not doing a lot this year, since it’s just the three of us, but I still have a timeline written out of what needs to cook how hot and for how long. Nothing needs to start until about 10, but here I am. Some sort of strange muscle memory saying it’s time to get up and preheat the oven.

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7 a.m.
I’ll settle for making coffee and staring into the fridge, wondering what I’ve forgotten. Bacon for breakfast, for one thing. Mini was insistent she’d be helping the Professor make pancakes this morning. She had a whole big breakfast planned. Pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs, toast, orange juice… Unfortunately, this plan was made after the final shopping trip. I managed it so we went on Monday and don’t need to go again until probably Sunday. There will be a fuss, but oh well. I meant to pull out butter last night to soften so it would be easy to coat the turkey. At least that I can do now. I did remember to buy butter. Breakfast shenanigans aside, she’ll be helping me start to finish with dinner. She’s old enough.

Here We Go Again

Angry Muffin

So. It’s been a year since I last posted. It’s been a hell of a year. We moved! Our rental house fell through at the last, and I mean last, minute! We got an apartment! We’re kinda stuck here, and it’s not great! WOO! The upside is that Professor Furious likes his job a lot, and Mini really digs her school. I am just happy to once again live in civilization. But sometimes it’s angry muffin time. Or, you know, depressed muffin, or panic attack muffin. … I might be hungry for some baked goods.

My point is we can’t all put on a happy face all the time. Especially not with the political landscape out there. And for a lot of us, especially not this time of year. Yes, autumn is really lovely with the cooler temperatures and the pretty leaves (I mean, for some people, neither of these are so much of a thing in Texas), and the pumpkin spice and apple cider and the soups. There is a literal dark side, though. The shorter days can wreak havoc on those of us with depression or anxiety (or a lot of other mental health stuff). Seasonal Affective Disorder. I don’t know if that’s still the official name for it, but it’s what I was diagnosed with when I was in college. It’s also why I won’t let Professor Furious drag us off to live in Finland. (“But they like personal space! You don’t talk to anybody! It’s great!”) Somehow, though, it throws me every damn time. I didn’t even realize it until I was talking to a friend about his anxiety flare up. Then suddenly the way I’ve been feeling made sense.

I may be clever, but I’m not always smart.

I’m making an extra effort to remember to take my meds. I’m drinking tea and coffee and wearing cozy things. It’s about time to pull out my knitting stuff and start in on that. I’m making plans to hit up early voting, so I don’t have to worry about being in line on Election Day. Do what you need to do. Even if it’s let out a mighty muffin yell.

Moving Sucks

Everything is Awful

Big news! We’re leaving Small Town! I mean, if you’re reading this, then we’re either close friends or family and you knew that because who else reads this blog? Anyhow. Professor Furious has a new job and so we are trying to sell our house, and find a new house. Did I mention we are trying to find a new house from half-way across the country, with cats, and we’re going to rent because I doubt we could get another mortgage right now, but also because we have no idea if we are going to be in New Slightly Larger Town for a year or a decade. Also, Slightly Larger Town has a housing shortage. HAhahahahahahaha…. I want to burn everything to the ground.

Don’t get me wrong, I am SUPER excited about leaving Small Town. In retrospect, it was a bad decision to come here, and frankly I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. But oh well, this is real life and not a video game where we could go back to our last save point and try again. No matter how many times I wish for it. But we’re moving to a bigger place that is, in turn, the suburb of a much bigger place. Y’all, I’m going from overpriced produce rotting on the shelves at our teeny “grocery” store to Whole Foods and Trader Joes. I mean, the Whole Foods stuff won’t be a lot cheaper, but at least I won’t have to throw out half a container of grape tomatoes because they’re moldy. Haha kidding. I just don’t bother buying fresh fruit and veggies.

We’ve lost out on multiple places, and I’m fairly certain it’s because we’re not there in person to fill stuff out and be like “Look at how we are a nice, young family of professionals.” (Maybe ignore my hair and his earrings…) Our already limited choices are  more limited because I love our cats and won’t give them up. But seriously, that would only add like… two houses that we can’t really afford anyway to our list, so I really can’t even blame the cats.

So I’ve turned to making graphics to work through my frustrations. I’m thinking of attaching this one to our next rental application. Think it will help my case? renting sucks

Today is the first day of tomorrow

Do I have “better” things to do than play with Canva making ironic motivational posters? Not really. I mean, that front hall isn’t going to steam clean itself. (Is there a robot that does that yet?) But I did something to my lower back a couple of days ago, and it still hurts, and so playing with Canva is way more fun than doing pretty much anything else. … I mean I am developing my graphic design skills in order to facilitate growing my brand. Can you tell I sat through a webinar about building better LinkedIn profiles yesterday?

Can't Stop
Is it hip? I was going for hip.

Honestly, though, I do have a brand to grow. I want to get better about posting to my professional facebook page, and apparently the way to do that is through share-friendly graphics.

She drowned in moonlight
We miss you, Space Mom.

Is this really going to get people to want to hire me to edit their books? Probably only a certain sort of person. But that’s okay, those are my sort of people.

No Knead Everything Bread

Recipe first, because I don’t want to be one of those blogs that makes you wade through my life story (which you are all enraptured by and will read anyway, right?) before getting to the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon or so yeast (active? The kind in the jar. Or I guess one envelope or so.)
  • A bunch* of dried minced onion
  • A bunch of dried minced garlic
  • A bunch of poppy seeds
  • 1-2 cups warm water (Can you hold your finger in it comfortably? Then you’re good. If you burn yourself, it’s too hot. Probably if it’s steaming you can assume it’s too hot. Don’t put your finger in that.) The water required varies due to humidity and the basic weirdness of the world and if you carefully leveled your flour when you measured or if you just sort of chucked it in. E,.g,., I live in the desert and so my flour is already drier than your flour. I miss humidity. Also e.g. I do not level when I measure flour, I just sort of shake the cup and hope for the best. Some are heaping, some have divots. It evens out.
  • A  little more flour for dusting, and a little more water for baking
  • Oh also if you’re putting topping on it you need an egg, and more minced onion, minced garlic, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and chunky salt like kosher or sea salt.

*When I say a bunch, I mean I do not measure things generally. I shake the container into the bowl until I think it looks like the amount I want. This is what the phrase “to taste” was invented for. In this case it’s probably pushing a tablespoon.

  1. Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. It’s going to rise in here, so make sure it’s got room to double. I think the bowl I usually use is 2 quarts? The largest of my Pyrex bowls definitely works. Stir to combine and decide if maybe you want to add more onion/garlic/poppy seeds. If the distribution looks goods, then yay. If not, add more.
  2. Add the water, starting with about a cup. You want the dough to be on the wet side. Stir and add water until the dough comes together and doesn’t have dry bits.

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    This one is in a container because I was shoving it in the fridge to bake later. It also needs a little more water.
  3. Once it’s all mixed, cover with plastic wrap and put it somewhere reasonably warm, but not hot. Let it rise for about 2 hours, or until it’s doubled. If you forget and it goes longer, that’s fine.
  4. When it’s doubled, you have two options. You can throw it in the fridge and bake it later, or you can flour your counter fairly well and turn the dough out onto the counter. Turn it over on itself a couple of times and shape it as best you can, then plop it on a baking sheet lined with either parchment or a silpat. (Note: We got a two pack of the Amazon basics silpats for like 16 dollars and I love them and I am so happy we got them, especially since a roll of parchment here is like 8 bucks. The Amazon ones are rated up to 480 degrees, so get whatever ones you want, but double check how hot they go up to.) Throw a clean dishtowel (like a smooth floursack style one, nothing linty or that is going to stick to the dough) over it and let it rise another half hour.
    Two things will make your life easier here: First is a dough scraper, which is a slightly flexible, rounded bit of plastic or silicone that is super helpful at getting all of the sticky dough out of the bowl. You can buy one, or you can take the lid from a container (I used the lid from an empty blue cheese container) and cut it to the size/shape you want. It is super handy. Also, a bench scraper, which is just a 6 inch or so long, straight bit of (usually) metal with a handle. Once you’ve got the dough on the counter (aka bench), the bench scraper makes moving and handling it a lot easier. Plus, when you’re done, it works great for scraping the flour off the edge of the counter into your dirty bowl. Anything that makes clean-up easier is excellent.
  5. Preheat your oven to eh… 425, 450. I think my oven runs a little hot, so I do 425, but when I have done it at 450 it hasn’t been the end of the world, the topping just gets a little too charred for my taste. Also, on the bottom rack in the oven put a muffin tin, cake pan, or cast iron skillet. You’re going to be adding water to it when you put your bread in and it works better if it’s preheated.

    IMG_20170318_170539
    Ooh yeah there it is. This is post egg wash, pre-topping. Like most no knead doughs, you’re not going to have a lot of structure going on. That’s okay.
  6. OPTIONAL TOPPING INSTRUCTIONS Okay, I love everything bagels, so this bit is generally not optional around here. Beat an egg with a little water and put egg wash on the top of your bread. I kept an empty jar from some spice or other, the kind with the shaker top, and keep my topping mix in it for easy sprinkling. I do equalish amounts of dried minced onion, dried minced garlic, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and grey sea salt (because I’m fancy). If you want extra garlic power, add some garlic powder. If you can find them, black sesame seeds would be a good addition, but out here it’s a miracle I can find poppy seeds, so do what you can. Coat bread with topping to the extent that makes you happy. Even if you don’t want the stuff on top, just an egg wash will give you a pretty crust.
  7. Add a half cup or so of water to your water container in the oven. Careful, it will hiss and steam at you right away. The more water you add, the chewier the crust you end up with. Professor Furious was in charge of that bit once and added a full cup, and the bread was still tasty, but also very soft.
  8. Bake about a half hour. It will give you the good hollow noise when you tap on it when it’s done.

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    Sexy. Though the garlic did get a little charred. This one baked at 450. You can see the edges of the egg wash. See how it goes from shiny and dark to sort of eh it’s bread? Egg wash, baby.
  9. Let it cool before you cut into it. I know, it’s hard to resist. But you can do it. Be strong. It’s especially tasty with cream cheese on it.

Okay, now the bloggy bit:

I came late to the no knead trend, but whatever, I’m here now. Actually, I’ve been fussing with it for a while, but you know me and getting around to posting things. It started with the standard cook in a dutch oven loaf. And… eh? It was good, but the bottom over browned. Possibly due tot he fact that we don’t have a fancy Le Creuset enameled dutch oven, but good ol’ black-as-my-soul belonged-to-my-grandma regular cast iron. It’s great, but I think it’s a little too good at holding heat in this case. Plus, I always have to be difficult. Plus, what I was wanting to imitate is closer to the ciabatta loaves I spend entirely too much money on. But then I got frustrated that the store was once again out of the (overpriced) everything bagel chips, and also they don’t carry everything bagels, so I read a bunch of blogs and tinkered.

Most recipes you’re going to see for similarly named breads have you just do the topping. Yeah, that was not enough for me. I started with putting the poppy seeds and sesame seeds into the dough. You’ll note that I don’t do the sesame seeds inside now. They don’t do enough for me flavor-wise, and sesame seeds are at their best when they’re toasty. Putting them into the dough is the opposite of toasty. The garlic and onion, though, rehydrate a bit during the rise, and give off some excellent flavor, but don’t mess with the texture.

As for my “measurements”… I know. It drives Professor Furious crazy, too. He bought a kitchen scale and everything. I used it the first time I made bread. That was also the last time I used it. I don’t know if it’s the scale itself or what, but instead of helpful it was frustrating. Baking shouldn’t be frustrating, it should be relaxing. So I scoop things and don’t level them, and know what “enough” garlic or whatever looks like. If the dough seems dry, I add water. If it seems wet, I add flour. It’s hard to really, truly screw it up. (Which okay, I have managed. We’re not going to talk about the cheese bread that never baked. At least not today.) Mostly it works for me. And that’s good enough.

Good as Gold

I’ve been binge watching Golden Girls since it was added to Hulu. It’s one of those shows I watched when I was a kid. The kind of show that you watch again as an adult and go, “Ah, there’s that bit of my personality.” According to the usual internet quizzes and most people who know me, I’m a Dorothy. Sarcastic English teacher, me to a T. But watching has led me to a troubling conclusion: I’ve got a bit of Rose to me. Because here’s the other thing, I tell stories. Rambling stories. Stories that are tangential at best to what we’re talking about. Not even a “Picture it, San Juan, 1995” preface to them.Luckily the bulk of my friends are more tolerant than Dorothy, Blanche, and Sophia. But in a society that values cutting wit (often with an emphasis on the cutting part) and bluntness, there is a certain amount of stigma to being a Rose. She’s kind, gentle, and naive, and okay, yes she’s not that bright. We could probably use more Roses right now.

Okay, maybe not the not-that-bright aspect, we’ve got an awful lot of that going around. Kind, kind we could do with more of. I think it’s fitting that Rose works as a grief counselor. She listens and honestly wants to help. On the surface her stories ramble and make no sense, but she knows what she’s on about. Most of the time. Where was I going with this? Oh right. There’s nothing wrong with nice. I’ve been told. The internet also tells me, repeatedly, that I’m a Slytherin. That means I’m nice, but not to everyone. Sophia is the OG Slytherin, btw.

I suppose in the end I have a little bit of all of them to me. Sarcasm, stories, loyalty, love of cheesecake, confidence… and that’s good to realize. Because I’ve also realized that these women who seemed so old when I was about 8 are now an awful lot closer to my age. When Blanche lies about her age, she goes for 41. I’m coming up on 37. Most of the time I don’t think about it. I’m just as likely to say I’m 28. Not because I’m trying to hide my age, but because I’ve always been bad at knowing how old I am. When I was 10, my mom coached me on lying about being 13 so I could get up to my grandmother’s hospital room for a visit. I started drinking when I was 18, which led to being nearly 22 and having a very forlorn moment in the beer aisle. I had gotten so used to drinking illegally that I had forgotten I was old enough to buy my own booze. (It’s not just my age I’m bad at. One time I was complaining about my brother and Mom snapped, “He’s 13. What do you expect?” Ten minutes later I had so shout at her, “He’s 15!” So you can see this is hereditary.) Thank god age is just a number. Now who wants some cheesecake?

Rory Gilmore is not Dorothy Gale

Have we all watched the new Gilmore Girls yet? If you care enough to read this, then I’m going to guess your answer is yes. A lot has already been said about it. It’s been out for a whole five weeks now, and that’s forever in internet time. Like a lot of Gilmore Girls fans, my sister-in-law and I binged it the day it was out. It was our own personal marathon. (In fact she put me to shame by watching most of it from the elliptical due to a fitbit challenge she had going with friends. Meanwhile, I did a bunch of knitting, basically the opposite of a fitbit challenge.) I have feelings about a lot of what went down, but maybe you can tell there’s one thing that really bugged me. Okay there were lots of things, but this one rates its own blog post because I’ve seen the other stuff covered in plenty of places. In a show full of literary allusions and book loving characters, how could the writers so massively fuck this one up?

It’s Fall. The Life and Death Brigade, at least the moderately attractive boy contingent, has descended upon Rory. In the morning, Rory decides she needs to leave it all behind. Logan, the boys, it’s time to grow up and do the adult thing and write a book. Sure. As Rory says her goodbyes, Finn says, “Mother is judging us.” And my heart leapt a little bit. The Wendy-bird is going home! And then Robert makes a Cowardly Lion reference. sigh No. Okay, let’s back up.

Robert, Colin, and Finn appear in steampunk gear and gorilla masks.  I’m a sucker for a man in a waistcoat, so I did love this bit, and would like to run off with these clothes. I especially want to steal the top hat Logan gives Rory.There is a lot of presumable breaking and entering involved. They acquire golf clubs, and use the rooftops as a driving range. We see them straight up break into Doose’s. Sure they throw a lot of money about, but Taylor is going to have a heart attack anyway. There is movie watching in the streets. I have to admit, I do love this dreamy magic realism vibe that is going on in these episodes. And the keyword of what I’m getting to is the magic. They hit a tango club, and then a bed and breakfast, both of which Colin buys, along with a 1983 Colt, apparently. And the Wendy-bird goes home.

This is not Oz, it’s Neverland. Logan is not the wizard, pulling the strings behind the curtain. He’s Peter, flying in through Wendy’s window, begging for stories and taking her away from the world where she is on the cusp of adulthood. Colin, Robert and Finn are lost boys. They don’t grow, they don’t realize that what they needed was within them all along. Colin gets drunk and buys things, and Finn punches Robert for saying he’s from New Zealand. The very first thing they do is play dress up. It’s no pirates and indians, but it’s not nothing, either. There’s no heart, bravery, or brains. They are children out of time.

Even before this little adventure, Rory was jetting off to London quite a bit. Ostensibly it was for work, but thematically, she was flying off to see her Peter. London, of course, is the literal birthplace of Peter Pan. It’s also to the east, Rory was literally flying straight on til morning. How did she pay for those flights? Careful bonus miles management on a level that may as well be pixie dust and happy thoughts.

Rory has never been great with change, especially change that moves her forward in life. Look at her first night at Yale, with Lorelai spending the night. Rory’s never been able to move out of the nursery. She’s never wanted to, really.She’s no Dorothy, wishing for a technicolor world and agency of her own. Lorelai has always provided the color. Agency is what she’s trying to avoid. The adult thing would be to just dump Paul already, but she never does. Why? It would be hard. It would be grown up. So would be putting in any work as a freelance journalist. Suddenly things are harder than working for the school newspaper, and she flounders. (And did Rory ever take any journalism classes? There was lots of English, and game theory and economics with Richard, but not once did we see her take a communications class.)

So the writers went for the story they wanted, even though it isn’t the story Rory is living. Really, that sums up most of my problems with the episodes. The writers were still locked into the story they wanted to tell ten years ago, nevermind that the characters, and actors, have moved on.