Wednesday, January 17, 2007

a work in progress

1/17/07 11:03 AM

Winter is finally here! Wow, it's beautiful and treacherous. It was gorgeous yesterday, but I'm still out of the habit of carrying the camera around so no snow pics yet. It's stark and white. I could wax all poetic about that but maybe later.

As usually I need to start out with an apology because I'm neglectful of the blog and sometimes I wonder why I started it if I'm not going to pay attention to it, but then I realize that I work full time and I have a family and frankly, I have never been much of an over achiever, and it all comes into perspective. But when somebody says something and politely asks a question, they really deserve a response! So I am sorry, Christina, I have been remiss, and this response deserves a post.

I have always thought of myself as a person with a high degree of integrity. If I say I'm going to do something for someone, I do it. Where I get into trouble is when I start estimating how long it will take to complete something. I haven't figured out how to do that while also factoring in all my other responsibilities. Part of the problem is that my mom is in town and for a number of reasons I can only write or do creative things when she's out of the house or sleeping. I know it sounds crazy, most people say their Mom is their biggest fan. I only wish. Oh crap, she's back already! See, this is a perfect example, it's now 3:21. Sigh. This is how it happens. Nothing gets done in a timely fashion around here. Here's a conversational snippet from just yesterday that illustrates this perfectly:

John said "We won!"

Me: "Won what?"

John: "Were the only house that still has its lights up and now it looks like Christmas!"

So my next apology needs to go to Liz and Finn. When I decided to make a few puppets (and publicly promised them on Finn's blog) I really underestimated how long it was going to take me to do that. Then of course there were financial surprises that kept me away from the fabric store. As if we weren't already deep enough in debt after the holidays, the first week in January we dropped $470 on my husband's brakes and another $130 on new heating coils for the (relatively new!) dryer. (Woohoo, another $600 in debt honey! Tack another year onto the Visa bill!)

Anyway, I promised to make these puppets and I had hoped to get them to Liz to keep her company when she has to go in for treatments, but the way things are going she's going to be in remission before that happens so, there you have it. Nothing to complain about there, I love a happy ending! So I've decided that it doesn't matter when they arrive. Puppets are great gifts anytime so I still intend to make them as a thank you to her. She was one of the people who finally inspired me to get my fat ass to the gym. (More naked truth on that later. No, I won't offend your sensibilities by appearing naked! Yes, I promise!)

The upshot of all this is that I do indeed have progress to report. Progress! I had a most exciting and inspiring trip to the fabric store and when I say exciting, let me tell you! All the fleece and fur, everything, was on sale! Yes! Can you believe it? I know, neither can I, some of these finds were must incredible. Of course, I bought way more fabric then I needed. But that's the way these things are, right? I guess I'll just have to make more puppets!

See, Liz has these little dogs, Dixie and Dolly, who are Chinese Crested Hairless Puffballs (I believe) and they're mostly white, which is fairly easy to find in terms of fabric. But I want to make a Hartley too and she's a Mexican Hairless, darker, kind of a grayish brown with long silky black fur around her face, but in one picture she almost looked like she has a brindle coat so I was having a hard time finding something that looked like her. On the first trip I ended up buying this tiger stuff thinking "it's almost brindle..." and this gray fleece thinking "...but this is really more her color..." and so on and so forth.

So I kept going back and forth on this other fabric until I finally decided that this was some sort of sign and, tragically, I was forced to make another trip to the fabric store to get it. I am glad I went the second time thought because I found some longer white fur that I'd missed the first time through. That will be perfect for Dixie and Dolly's ears!

So now I definitely have more fabric then I need, but that's okay, maybe I'll expand into tigers and elephants too.

In other news, I'm also deeply sorry that I didn't have a post ready for MLK day. Interestingly enough, I had the day off but my kids had to go to school. The company I work for is based in Atlanta though and I imagine that informs their business decisions. Atlanta is a fairly progressive city, considering. So anyway, I was somewhat irritated that they had to go to school so I quizzed them when they got home and guess what? Not ONE mention of MLK the entire day for either of them! Now the argument could be made that it was mentioned in the morning announcements and they just weren't paying attention, but that's not the point. If they have to go to school on this day, why can't part of the lesson be about the civil rights movement? It's disappointing but not surprising.

I know there was more I wanted to tell you but it's late and I can't think anymore. For extra credit, visit Christina's Erase Racism Carnival. It's gauranteed to make you think!

Keep warm till next time!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Black Eyed Peas for New Year's Day

This is my attempt to get a post in before midnight on New Year's Day. Didn't do very well, did I? That's okay, I forgive me. I must remember, the Fly Lady says I'm never behind, I just have to jump in where I am! Why, yes! I am naturally annoyingly optimistic, why do you ask?

Current works in progress include:
the annual purge
puppy puppets for Liz & Finn
linkage and proper props for Leslie & Seth
2006 taxes (Be afraid, nauseous is also an acceptable autonomic response.)
updating websites (shudder!)
various and sundry pipe dreams
Food! Glorious Holiday Food! (Not really. My holiday baking consisted of opening three boxes and preparing the contents according to package directions so we were even less adventurous then usual this year but a few traditional favorites did make it onto the table and I'll be sharing one of those with you today.

But first...

I just stepped outside to take some chicken bones out to the trash (much to the chagrin of Lucy & Hairy) and on my way back I noticed the constellation Orion, directly over the house. Orion has always been one of my favorites, especially after I discovered a similar constellation of melanin clusters on my left shoulder. The resemblence is uncanny I tell ya! Directly above Orion the waxing gibbous moon emits enough light to nearly drown it out, but not quite. From where I stood it was a jewel in the crown on Orion's invisible head.

Earlier today I made the requisite black eyed peas for New Year's Day. This is a relatively new custom to my family but I understand it's quite wide spread among the African American community. My good friend who introduced me to the tradition put it to me this way, if you make black eyed peas on New Year's Day, you'll have good luck the whole year through. The first time I made them was New Year's Day 2001. Within a month I got the job that turned into this one. So this is the seventh New Year's Day that I've made this.

Like all my recipes, this is a work in progress, but this is how I made them today and they were very well received. Of course, PJ took one bite of his "no thank you helping" and pronounced them "half good, half bad," but this was a definite improvement over the last couple of years. It should be pointed out that he ate them just fine when he was a baby before he decided that gaurded suspicion was the safest course when encountering any alleged food item not immediately identifiable as having animal, vegetable or fruit origins.

Black Eyed Peas

1 lb dry Black Eyed Peas

2 t butter
one whole onion
1-2 T fresh chopped garlic

1 t savory
1/2 t cumin
1 t ground coriander seed
salt and ground pepper to taste

Rinse beans in cold water and sort. Place beans in 2 quart pan with enough water to cover them plus another inch or so. (You will be adding water again later.) Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Allow to boil for 2-5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and allow beans to soak for at least an hour.

When you return the beans will have soaked up much of the water. Add more water till the beans are covered by about an inch. Bring to a boil again, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Allow beans to simmer 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Chop whole onion as fine as you prefer. Saute onion and garlic in butter. Add sauted mixture to beans along with the remaining ingredients and continue cooking till desired consistency is reached.

These beans are traditionally served fairly hot with cayenne pepper or chili powder but this is a fairly tepid recipe because I have to satisfy a wide range of palates from my Mom, who loathes peppers in any form, to my husband who will be having his with a bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce close at hand and Ebo who prefers his with Sriracha! For myself, I like to add a little salt and maybe a few drops of hot sauce or a little salsa if they're thick enough.

Other variations on this recipe include adding a bay leaf, thyme and lemon in various forms. When Mom's not here I replace the black pepper with cayenne. I've also been known to start throwing in vegetables such as any kind of greens, corn, tomatos, carrots, etc. Were big on garlic around here so that always goes in along with the pepper and the savory. Here's your hot tip for the day, Savory is The Bean Herb. You'd be hard pressed to find a legume that doesn't respond well to savory and I always add it whenever I'm cooking beans.

I offer this recipe to you with love, from my family to yours, I hope you enjoy it!

Happy New Year!
Marriage is love.