Saturday, January 31, 2009

Somehow, the loss of an hour made all the difference

Ever since coming back from Utah, R and I have had a much easier time getting to bed at a reasonable hour. Thanks to this, it has also been much easier to get up for work. It has been nice, though I'm wondering how long it will last.

Anywho, the trip. It was great! Up on the mountain, it snowed the night we arrived, so the next morning we got to snowboard in pristine powder. It was the sort of snow people beg the weather gods for, and we just lucked into it. I've only been in powder once before, and our friend who came along had never been in powder, so we had to re-learn how to steer our boards. Nevertheless, it was amazing. We floated down the slopes all morning, going from powder patch to powder patch. It continued snowing up on the mountain throughout the weekend, so we had fluffy snow all weekend. My only bruise came from slipping in the lift line, when my foot shot out from under me and my knee hit my binding. It was, however, a mighty large bruise.

Our drive back home was a bit more exciting (nay, treacherous) than our drive to Utah. As per tradition, we wound up driving home in a snow storm. Fortunately, we reached the edge of the storm when we were leaving Utah and didn't have to deal with any closed overpasses.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A race against time

Now that the moving day is set, I'm rushing to put all the fruit from the backyard to use. I made a monster batch of kumquat marmalade (this time using the food processor, which made it really fast), but there was still a tree worth of oranges that I don't particularly feel like turning into jam. My solution? Chutney, as I have been enjoying chutneys on my grilled cheese sandwiches of late.

As I was searching, none of the recipes quite fit my taste. Some involved onions (ick), others raisins (double ick), and several involved ingredients that were challenging if not impossible to obtain in California, or, indeed, in this country. Nevertheless, I found a recipe that, after adaptations, worked pretty well.

Orange Chutney
Adapted from astray recipes
  • 4 large oranges
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 2 large cooking apples
  • 2 oz candied ginger (I couldn't track down the stem ginger from the original recipe)
  • 2 T chopped apricots (I didn't have any currants at the time, nor did I feel like using the standard substitute: raisins)
  • 1 fresh chili, chopped
  • 1 oz salt
  • 3/4 c soft brown sugar
  • 2/3 c honey (the original golden syrup being not available in this country outside of the South)
  • White or cider vinegar

1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the oranges and chop the peel. Cut the pith from the orange and chop the flesh, removing the seeds. Chop the ginger, apples, apricots, and chili. Juice the orange.

2. Put oranges, apples, orange juice, ginger, apricots, chili, salt and pepper into a saucepan. Cover and simmer until the oranges are tender. Add a bit more orange juice if it seems to be drying out.

3. Add the sugar, honey, and vinegar to cover the fruit. Mix well and boil gently, stirring occasionally until it thickens (it will take about an hour). Pour into sterilized jars (or put in the fridge).

I think I'm going to pick the rest of the oranges before this weekend's snowboarding, as I'm also in a race against my landlord. If the fruit lingers too long on the tree, he starts thinking I don't want it and has been known to take it for himself. Those persimmons weren't quite ripe, curse you!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Finally useful

For the past year, I've been hoarding boxes. Working at a school with no textbooks, we went through reams and reams of paper, so it was hard to resist taking advantage of the box supply. I knew we'd be moving sometime. Then, with the wedding, all the gifts came in the mail, in boxes (and sometimes in boxes in boxes), and I saved those as well. The corners of our house were filled with box towers, and for someone with no moving plans, it was getting a little creepy.

However, all that box hoarding will be paying off, in that I now won't have to be scrounging for boxes. We put in an application for new place and got the word back today that they want us. The place is awesome! The only downside is that there isn't a garden or patio. There is a community garden across the street, but I haven't heard back from the coordinator (and it seems like those places always have a waiting list), so I'm going to have to figure out how to do a lot of gardening indoors. We've got a little loft area with a skylight, so I'm thinking I'll get a tall wire rack, so that I can have several tiers of plants. I'll definitely have to document this project.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Finally using up the spices

If you're like me, you probably couldn't resist buying a few of those large containers of spices from Costco. I've had massive containers of garlic and onion powder for years, though I can't bear to throw them out, mostly full as they are. I've also got some heirloom chili powder. Not heirloom in the sense that it uses heirloom pepper varietals, but heirloom in the fact that my step mom gave it to me from her collection when I got my first apartment, and it wasn't new then. The stuff is probably ten years old. I just can't use it up fast enough.

I couldn't, anyway, until I found a recipe for making taco seasoning. Now, instead of buying expensive little packets of taco spice mix to season meat for nachos and taco salads, I'm able to use up some of my own bloated collection (and also save some money). It makes me feel very practical.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The doughnut touch

Donut Touch, being the name of our local purveyor of doughnuts, is a phrase that has inspired lingering debate. Is it a suggestion? A bad pun? Or perhaps something unpleasant you doctor might do to you, as my husband suspects. ("Turn and cough... Okay, now for the donut touch.") Maybe it is just an indication of poor English skills.

In any case, I decided the last day of winter break needed something special, which this time meant a touch of doughnut making. The recipe I wound up using tasted just like professionally made doughnuts, though it made about twice as many as the three of us here could put away.

Next time, I think I'll just be making doughnut holes, as they were the clear favorite. This will also allow me to use my deep fryer, which makes cooking in oil much less scary. (Yes, I own a deep fryer. Just don't tell my doctor.)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

For my grand return after my blog-cation, I'll be doing a meme. Very classy, I know. Blame Alyndabear for finding one that is well suited to year-end reflection.

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before? I think getting married probably takes the cake on this one, but I also went to Disneyworld (which was my first time in the eastern half of the U.S.).

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Last year I resolved to try a new recipe a week, eat a greater quantity and variety of vegetables, continue to post (on average) every other day, and eat fast food less often. I kept these resolutions for the first half of the year, but I really fell off the wagon towards the end. I don't think I'll be making any resolutions for this year. Would resolving to get pregnant count?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My sister in-law gave birth to my second nephew on November 4th.

4. Did anyone close to you die? R's uncle recently passed away. Sadly, I never got to meet him.

5. What countries did you visit? None, though I did get to travel down to the nation's wang for the first time.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? A baby.

What? That so counts.

Okay, I'd also like dog. And a bigger garden. More tomatoes. More time to read. And no major injuries.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? August 9th (got married), November 4th (new nephew)... I think that's it. The last day of teaching was also pretty memorable (such relief!), but I don't remember the exact date.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Master's degree.

9. What was your biggest failure? My inability to keep teaching. Sure, this was a voluntary failure, but it still makes me feel like a quitter.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Why yes, I certainly did. (The scar has flattened enough that I can shave over it, thank goodness.)

11. What was the best thing you bought? We bought a new power source for my computer shortly before my old one died. The timing was excellent, and my computer was only out of commission for a couple of hours.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My sister. She went back to school to finish her degree and, thanks to lots of hard work, got three As and one B this past semester. Good job, Wee-est One!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? My mom, but we really don't need to get into it.

14. Where did most of your money go? The wedding. So expensive! I did also manage to pay back a good chunk of my student loans.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Disneyworld! We were looking forward to the trip all year.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008? Probably any song we played at the wedding.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
(a) Happier or Sadder? Happier. Less stressed, for sure.
(b) Thinner or Fatter? About the same.
(c) Richer or Poorer? A little richer, and with fewer crazy expenditures on the horizon.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Gardening. I know I did a lot, but I still wanted more veggies.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Freaking out about things outside my control.

20. How did you spend Christmas in 2008? Hanging out with my family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008? I was already in love. :)

22. How many one-night stands? Nil.

23. What was your favorite TV program? The Venture Brothers.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I can't really think of anyone I actually hate.

25. What was the best book you read? Making Money (hilarious and strangely topical), Me & My Brothers (I'm a dork, but it's still funny).

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Taylor Swift's new album.

27. What did you want and get? I wanted a job, and I got one. Yay for income!

28. What did you want and not get? I really would have liked to get pregnant.

29. What was your favorite film of this year? I think the only film we saw was The Dark Night. We're really looking forward to Watchmen.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 24, but I don't actually remember what we did. Something, but it was apparently overshadowed by the wedding.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Babies. I think I might be a bit redundant here.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? Jeans & T-shirts, work clothing (for the first time in my life), not wearing hoodie sweatshirts as much.

33. What kept you sane? The knowledge that the school year would end.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Honestly, I can barely even name a public figure, much the less fancy one.

35. What political issue stirred you the most? Prop. 8.

36. Who did you miss? I miss my intern teacher crew. We all used to sit around a few tables and prep. We had a lot of fun.

37. Who was the best new person you met? R's cousins were pretty nice, the people I work with are interesting, but I haven't really made any new friends this year. Luckily, the ones I have are pretty cool.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008. Planning makes life better. Also, no one notices the little things at weddings, so it is best not to freak out.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. “You think you're so smart, but I've seen you naked" Blame It On Me, by Barenaked Ladies. It probably isn't the best representation of the year, but it was the song lyric that R and I kept passing back and forth to each other.

40. What are your resolutions for 2009? Babies! Also, to find a nice new place to live. Keep exercising, cooking, and gardening. Finish the blasted thank you notes from the wedding.