Working Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Do you know what one kind of work is? Cooking. Also baking. Maybe we can do food here. I just made some Velveeta Mac and Cheese. Do not do that. As a walk down memory lane–childhood fave!–it was terrible, more of a stagger with the cheese sticking to everything. I knew my mother wasn’t a great cook, but good Lord that’s bad.

So what did you work on this week? Or, you know, eat?

107 thoughts on “Working Wednesday, March 20, 2019

  1. My creative work this week was not fun. I pushed myself to finish binding the big beautiful quilt I’m gifting to my SIL, mostly because I wanted it done to show to the guild tomorrow night. It was tough going – the binding fabric was a very tightly woven batik that I had to fight to get my needle through. At the end of Saturday, I had finished the thing, but my thumb and forefinger felt bruised from all that work.

    On Sunday, I wanted to give myself a break from quilting, so I decided to pick out a new knitting project with a couple of skeins I had picked up on clearance. I looked on Ravelry for a pattern and tried out one. After working on it for over an hour, I decided it was not right for the yarn. I tried another one and an hour and a half later decided it wasn’t right either. I saw a pattern that I think will work, but it will take more yarn than I have. I did find some more on yarn.com, in the super sale bin, so that project is tabled for now. An afternoon of noodling with yarn, and nothing to show. I’m okay with that, since I wouldn’t have been happy with the end product of either of my first two attempts.

    I do feel good that I tackled some pruning in the backyard early Saturday, so at least something constructive was done over the weekend! I’ve got some myrtles that left to their own devices will shoot runners 20-30 feet up into the power lines, so I keep them on a short leash.

    On the bright side, I did use all this couch project time to catch up on some programs. I’m now done with Victoria season 3.

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    1. I love batiks, but I too have trouble working with them. Not just hand-work, but sometimes machine quilting too. I thought it was just me struggling with them, so it’s reassuring to know I’m not alone.

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  2. I have been doing a lot of tiny watercolor doodles for my daily art journal. And I’ve started a new paper quilling project, a big iris and its leaves.

    I’ve been gravitating more toward vegetables and fruits. And I’ve given up eating just steamed veggies. So I’ve been roasting and sauteing then with olive oil and seasonings.

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  3. Editing the third books in a series.

    My Mac and cheese story about my mom’s cooking: she put macaroni and milk in a dish, slap cheese product squares over it and put it in the oven. It came out thin soppy milk with some orange melted squares on it. It was so disgusting that to this day I cannot eat mac & cheese. When all the designer chi chi Mac & cheese dishes started being served in restaurants, I thought it was the biggest scam in history!

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  4. We have a meeting in Denver Thursday-Saturday, then a trip to south Texas next week. We have to have everything ready for next week before we leave tomorrow, so today is last bits of laundry and packing. All the packing.

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  5. I can affirm that baking is work. The apple pi pie we made on Sunday took hours.

    My daughter wants a Hogwarts castle cake for her b-day. It requires pound cakes. And marshmallow fondant. And pounds of icing (she prefers cream cheese to buttercream, thank God.) I told her we need to test this sucker out before her bday, so we have the decorating techniques down. And I need to buy a fondant press that makes bricks. No way in hell am I condoning cutting out the individual bricks and then sticking and stacking them on the cake.

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  6. Oh, I made actual food – spinach and artichoke dip as a casserole – two variants, one following the recipe with pasta and heavy cream for my niece and one with quinoa and chicken broth for me. It benefited greatly (as many things do!) from the addition of pickled jalapeños, and is shockingly filling.

    And I am trying to figure out how to – encourage – my dog not to bark. Or bark less. Or warn me that he’s going to bark. He is the first dog that barks that I have ever had, my startle reflex is out of control and I have broken two windows and an iPad in the last ten days because I throw whatever I’m holding when startled. Bark collar doesn’t work – we tried that and on the lowest setting of the citronella one he took out a door.

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    1. I can’t figure out how to stop my dog from barking either. Collars don’t work, he doesn’t seem to follow me working with him (granted, I’m sure poorly), and I can’t ignore him to break the association of attention since I’m in an apartment. With him, his biggest issue is energy. When I walk him with dedication and tire his butt out, his barking drops dramatically. But he’s high energy and it’s hard for me to consistently do that. It takes loooong walks, which I usually enjoy, but take time. I will state, however, that the bulk of his behavior issues when I took him over from my grandparents stemmed from boredom. Regular walks of any kind cured his ass-hat behavior for the most part. So, that’s something I’d recommend to anyone, exercise them as much as possible. Won’t cure, but might help.

      9+
    2. We have a little spritz bottle of water for our barker. It doesn’t solve the long term problem, but she definitely doesn’t appreciate it and usually stops barking now when she sees someone reaching for the squirt bottle of shame.

      Oh, and we play soothing doggy music from youtube and that definitely helps. I don’t know that it soothes so much as muffles the sound.

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    3. The “How Not to Die Cookbook” doc has a vegan recipe for an Artichoke (very healthy!) Spinach Dip that sounds yummy.

      I copied a couple recipes out of a library copy of the cookbook and this is my next one to try.

      Link to his website (no ads, except for his own books): https://nutritionfacts.org/cookbook/

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    4. I have 2 Pomeranians. Sophie and Mattie Ann. Barkers extraordinaire, the two of them. I found using metal kitchen tongs work quite well when they bark. Just click them together and they stop. I tried a bottle of Ibuprophen and it worked for about 3 times. Then they just looked at me and I SWEAR, they shrugged and continued barking. They are good guard dogs because they let me know when the wind blows the tree out front and the leaves fall on the ground. It’s good to know I’m protected.

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    5. Veronica is a barker, and I cannot break her of it. Milton and Mona bark, too, but that’s clearly to say, “Yo, somebody is out front of the house so pay attention.” Veronica, on the other hand, is hysterical about it, and goes on and on and on.

      Then I read this book on trauma–The Body Keeps the Score–and she fit the profile of a trauma victim perfectly. The first thing that happens during trauma is that people look for help from others. If there’s nobody who will help, there’s the fight or flight reflex. And if there’s no escape from situation and the person is overwhelmed, the mind goes somewhere else and the person essentially freezes. When I first got Veronica, she was so traumatized she’d just freeze in place, shaking, not responding to anything. After about a month, she got to place where she’d run away if she felt threatened, which was HUGE, no frozen dachshund. And now she’s secure enough that she stays and barks, asking for help. She just doesn’t stop asking until I pick her up and say, “Enough.” She’s stuck in that first phase, poor baby. But I still need her to shut up.

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    6. Um, she suggested gently, if you’ve broken two windows and an iPad in a short time span, perhaps you need some training too.

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      1. Oh, I’m sure I do need some sort of training. Just – I’ve got more in common with Veronica than is comfortable to admit. My startle reflex is out of hand because of a bad accident – it’s a kind of reactive ptsd thing – and this is a much improved version, after 2 years of intensive desensitization therapy, a whole lot of EMDR and a couple of nifty clinical trials. Prior to all of that I got hurt a couple of times. I have no conscious memory of the accident or the subsequent 8 weeks and things are patchy for another 7-10 months after that, but my body remembers all too well and I am still surprised by how vividly it responds.

        Javi – the dog – is kind of a miracle for me. My dogs were killed in the accident. I’ve never not had a dog as an adult – my dog adventures were Internet legend nearly 20 years ago – and it took me five years to get brave enough to risk another one and it was Javi. He was found running wild with some camels and llamas (yeah, really). He is the gentlest creature imaginable, and he looks like a smallish wolfhound and entirely without training he has taught himself to open doors and pick up things I drop and recently he mastered the bathroom light switch. The barking is very specific – he barks if he sees a skunk in the daytime (which yay, huge rabid skunk problem and boo, because I am so reactive and scare us both) and he barks if deer walk by the house at night. And at night I can’t go look out the window and tell him that I see the deer and they’re fine, so he barks until they’re out of sight and then I don’t sleep (as now) and it makes for bad exhausted days. Today we moved furniture in the hopes that his nocturnal viewing will be reduced and thereby also the barking because he is in all other ways the joy of my heart.

        And please do not feel bad for gently suggesting just because of my unusual circumstances – it’s a good and valid suggestion very kindly expressed and you have no way to know my ridiculous history and it’s an excellent prompt to explore another round of – something, I just don’t know what.

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    7. I’m sorry that your startle reflex is so finely-tuned. It seems to be a very annoying and costly trait. But I haven’t laughed out loud like I did reading your story in a while. Chortling and snorting to be specific. I still chortle out loud as it pops into my mind. Wonder if your dog is enjoying it as much as I am.

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      1. Obviously I didn’t read your back story on the cause of your reflex. I really am sorry about that. But I think you have a good sense of humor and capacity for wonder and joy that should carry you through all this.

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  7. For pi day we had lemon curd tart which my husband says we made. He had extra pie dough that I put in the freezer two weeks ago. He made extra lemon curd at Christmas which I also froze. I took the pie dough out of the freezer, thawed it, started to roll it out, got called away for some reason and he finished rolling it out. I put the foil on it (Neat trick here if you don’t already know it. Put a piece of aluminum foil over your pie crust. Punch holes through it into the crust, being careful not to pull the foil free of the holes as you pull the fork out. After about 7 minutes or so of cooking, carefully remove the foil. This works as well as pie weights and is easier when making a single crust pie). I cooked the crust. Then I scooped the lemon curd in.

    If you make lemon curd, you can put it directly in the freezer and just take out what you need, when you need it. Lemon curd does not freeze. It makes a quick tart, or a spoonful on yoghurt or over ice cream or if you make meringues you can put it over a meringue with whipping cream and a little fresh fruit and everyone will think you are an amazing cook.

    Another handy trick is convincing your husband that pie crusts and lemon curd is one of his specialties in cooking.

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    1. This about the lemon curd is a genius very helpful tip. Thank you so much. Last year someone brought me literally pounds of keylimes and lemons and Meyer lemons and I made curd and marmalade and preserved lemons and limes and froze juice and zest and never did it occur to me freeze curd. Thank you.

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      1. I also put a pie’s worth of curd in a 1 pt freezer bag and lay it flat on the bottom of the freezer. If I have several bags, I stack them on top of one another. This is only so-so space saver with lemon curd because it stays soft. But for soups and broths I lay them on a flat surface then freeze them. Once frozen I can stack them like pancakes and I don’t have odd shapes in my freezer. I only have 3 freezer drawer in my refrigerator and I can get almost as much stuff in as a small chest freezer.

        Additional thing with lemon curd. If you have egg whites left over, put a single egg white per muffin tin cup and freeze them. Pop them out still frozen, wrap them in plastic wrap and store them in a freezer container (just in the plastic wrap isn’t good enough). They will keep for months. Then thaw them at room temperature and use them as needed. They are just as good as fresh egg whites. However, do not thaw them in the microwave. They cook really easy.

        There. I have exhausted my handy housewife hints. Is it too early for a martini?

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  8. Admin work as always, probably why I enjoyed cooking on the weekend. I think all the cooking shows I watched have finally switched on the genetic cooking gene. Mother would be so pleased.

    This week I bought a pattern, beautiful linen and cotton to make a couple of outfits for a holiday next February. I fell in love with the pattern on the cotton. Bought two solid colour pieces of linen. One is the softest shade of cream with a pale pink under tone, a cream beige wth a tan-ish base (hard to describe but it’s not your average beige) and a lovely fab patterned linen. Love the fabric. After the year from hell, I feel creativity rising up. Thank goodness.

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  9. Your interest in food is very timely, because I’ve just started working on the fourth book in my demon series, The Demon Goes Hungry, where Satan sends Belphegor, the demon of gluttony, Aboveworld to bring back Katie-Rose Meacham, a young woman who makes these deviled eggs topped with oysters that are to die for.

    I’m not a cook, so I’m going to snoop through your posts and the resulting comments to get a sense of how foodies think about food.

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    1. It might be worth reading some of Nigella Lawson’s cookbooks – she rhapsodises about food and the recipes in a way that resonates for me. I like her attitude – sometimes you want to immerse yourself in the process, and sometimes you just want a shortcut, and sometimes you just need to glory in a Domestic Goddess moment. She’s an automatic buy for me for the way she writes as much as the food she offers, and her recipes haven’t let me down yet.

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    2. James Beard has some cookbooks that are part biography and part recipes. As an added incentive, his recipes turn out well. Jacque Pepin’s recipes – at least the early cookbooks – are wonderful to think about and look at but if you are not a professional who can adjust things, you are in trouble.

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  10. I’m going to do something fun with rockfish tonight. I’m thinking maybe dredge it in some almond flour, probably with something spicy added (maybe ras el hanout, because I’ve got that mixed already, maybe garam masala, maybe just smoked paprika and pepper), and saute it in butter or olive oil. Or maybe I’ll go sorta Caribbean and let it sit in some lime juice for a while, then sprinkle it with lime zest and jerk seasoning and saute it in some coconut oil. I guess technically if I let it sit in the lime juice for long enough it would become ceviche, so maybe I should go that route with some jalapeno and green onions. Fun decisions!

    I’ll serve it with rice, most likely — brown rice, if I’m going the spicy almond flour route or white rice if I’m in a lime juice sorta mood. And salad, which will be either mixed greens with slivered almonds and roasted brussels sprouts (leftover and cold), or mixed greens with clementine slices and maybe some goat cheese. And maybe some blueberries.

    Hmm, I seem to be treating my cooking decisions today as a spring or winter debate — is it spring (Caribbean and limey) or is it winter still (spicy and nutty)?

    As for the other types of working, I don’t do anything crafty. So it’s just the usual words. But my heroine is finally getting out of the place where she’s been stuck for weeks, so I’m hoping for some good words. Who knew escaping from an underwater city could be so difficult?

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  11. Yup, the kitchen is the heart of the home for good reason.

    As someone who makes everything from scratch, agree that sometimes cooking/baking can feel like work. More so the clean up bit than the the making for me. But making big batches and freezing portions helps.

    That said, I can whip up brownies or cookies and many meals faster than it would take to go buy them or order in. And there’s something very grounding about making meals and feeding family. For some it’s even relaxing. Like my f-i-l who took up cooking decades ago as a way to unwind after work.

    Cooking can also be fun to watch. Years ago, when hubby & I both worked downtown (Montreal) and could meet for lunch, we went through a fettuccine alfredo phase, and a big part of the attraction was watching the woman who made it. The place had an open kitchen and watching the cook work was like watching a ballet, like her routine was choreographed, her movements appearing effortless. So yes, cooking can be work but it’s also most absolutely an art:)

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  12. Ina Garten makes the best Mac-n-cheese, in my opinion. She made it five times in one day to make sure she perfected the recipe.

    Today, I have made roasted chicken, roasted beef, black beans, and I am also making a mess while I clean outdoor cushions, laundry, the floor, and the bathrooms. I also plan to sit for a minute and write a tv show episode, but that is later (when I am not soaking wet from scrubbing things in the tub).

    Sometimes I think of my life as Cinderella in reverse. I started out princessy, but have ended up scrubbing the floor.

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  13. Mine was an erranding Wednesday. I took the KonMaried clothes to the charity that collects and distributes. It was very satisfying, especially as I’d done a quick re-run yesterday afternoon and found nothing to discard!

    I did cook a shredded tuna chutney – grate tomatoes, add seasonings, cook in heated pan with a little oil. Add drained tuna. Stir and fry. Mmm. Eat on something bread-y with something salad-y. No need for mayo.

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    1. What kind of seasonings? I have literally a case of canned salmon (annul Christmas present from sister) and this sounds like a handy way to use it but I have never made a chutney so I don’t have a feel for the seasonings.

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      1. Salt, pepper, paprika, and dried oregano in my case. But chives, shallots, and garlic leaves go really well with fish-y foods. I just didn’t have any.

        Don’t think of it as making a chutney, imagine making an almost marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes. But about 3/4 way through the shorter cooking of tomatoes, add the fish.

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  14. My nostalgia food disaster was mini meatballs in mushroom gravy. Sort of intended to be poor person’s Beef Stroganoff. We used to have that a lot when I was a kid. Just brown up some small meatballs, pour in a can of condensed mushroom soup and heat, then serve over noodles.

    OMG, it was so bad. And I remember that as one of the favorite things we had as kids, which was why I tried it as an adult. Once.

    For non-food work, I’m brainstorming the third in my garlic farm mystery (after last week brainstorming a new series for my agent to pitch for after the garlic farm contract is over), and next week I’ll be working on a non-fiction project that’s sort of halfway between brainstorming and actual writing (creating a proposal, which includes some actual pages as well as the table of contents and the “why a publisher should buy it” sections — ugh).

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    1. Our Poor Man’s Stroganoff was ground beef, garlic and onion (lots of garlic), with cream of stuff soup (cream of celery, some other type too) and one container of sour cream. I don’t do cream of stuff soup anymore – too much sodium! – but sour cream more than makes up for it. All over some kind of pasta. Egg noodles were good.

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  15. One of my uncles makes a great mac and cheese that is almost more of a very hearty alfredo. He uses what ever noodles are on hand, with a cream of mushroom soup base. It’s white, very moist and my favorite 🙂

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  16. I originally wrote this in 2004, but I wanted to share it here.

    FOOD PORN

    Flour had his eye on Eggs from the moment she arrived at the Glass Bowl. He knew they’d be dancing together shortly, and more than dancing before the night was through.

    She couldn’t be shy – not coming here. The Glass Bowl was no mere mixing place. Things happened here, and everyone knew it. If she was shy, well she’d be out of her shell before she knew what hit her.

    He enticed her onto the dance floor with sweetness – he knew how to lay on the sugar, and once out, whisking her around, added a little salt to his lines. He plied her with drink as well. Whole milk, not that half-strength rotgut. She barely noticed when they arrived at the skillet.

    By then she hardly knew where she ended and he began. They were so hot, and she bubbled and sizzled and they flipped over. Does it matter who, if anyone, was more on top?

    Finally, they were done. Or perhaps they weren’t, for he had one more trick up his sleeve. Before she could escape, they were inundated with golden maple syrup. Immediately, they were consumed with passion…

    And there was a side of bacon, too.

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  17. My unpacking is stalled because the remnants of a cold makes me feel queasy if I move my head around too much. I’m doing the day job, though. Also made a big fish pie last night – and resolved yet again to stick to the original quantities: it always surprises me how scaling up multiplies the work involved. Had to do three batches of washing-up in my breaks today.

    Hoping to get the edit to the authors by the weekend, and throw off the headcold so I can finish unpacking.

    Did also take soil-depth soundings all round the garden this afternoon. As I suspected, the narrow beds in the side return and the front have a solid base and only a foot of soil.

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  18. I downloaded Layla F. Saad’s ‘Me and White Supremacy’ workbook. So I’ll be working on my woke.

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      1. 🙂 I know I shouldn’t use woke as a noun, but the intent is true. I heard a radio review of the workbook, so I’m not expecting it to be comfortable. I’ll keep you all posted.

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  19. Okay, I shared my Food Porn post, but that had nothing to do with what I cooked or ate this week. OTOH, the week started on Sunday, and I mentioned taking my daughter to O’Charley’s in Chester, VA. She had the Louisiana Sirloin, and said it was delicious. I did a small sirloin with chicken strips, salad and fries. It was okay. Then we went shopping.

    Shopping almost always includes a WalMart, and we went there this time, too. Oddly enough, they are not at all my favorite grocery store. Yes, I bought meat and I love their sparkling water (Clear or Zero, I’m not sure which is the name) which I drink now instead of Caffeine-Free Diet Coke. But last night, I went to Food Lion for canned goods (no salt added), some Russell Stover Sugar Free Chocolate.

    Last night’s dinner was a box-o-salad from WalMart. “Chef’s Salad” with their dressing. It had reached the expiration date.

    In another post, I mentioned some bland chicken stir fry (bland except for the habanero powder, that is) and leftovers. Tonight I’m adding more meat (pork?), garlic, onion, corn and green beans, and a can of pineapple chunks. I may have to run back out for a bag of red and yellow bell peppers. I expect leftovers again. But I don’t think it counts as stir fry any more. I don’t know what to call it.

    Tomorrow night, back at work, I have another prepared salad, and I’ll take the tuna steaks out of the freezer. Tuna steaks are infinitely better than canned tuna. I’ll save the stew beef for Saturday, but I might break out the slow cooker tomorrow and let it cook until then.

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  20. I’m working on getting back to eating and not panic at the thought of food. It’s not going spectacularly well but perhaps we’ll get there. Annoying side-effect now is that eating makes me feel horribly sick to the stomach and as though I have to throw up – Haven’t done it(!), but F got a bucket for me to have at hand just in case. Experience has proven much mental stress causes nausea for me, so I guess this is a combo thing.

    Anyway, I did as I wrote Sunday and told F about things about 10 minutes after I posted my comment. He said he’d already suspected things but had waited on me to tell him. He tried to pep and cheer me up with mostly the same things you had all said, which proves he’s an excellent guy. Also he went full psychologist mode (he’s a computer wiz, not a shrink) and asked me what would happen if I stepped onto the weighing machine, and what would happen if it was so or so many kilos, etc. I had to smile cause he sounded SO much like one of my previous shrinks, actually the only one of them he didn’t really get along with. He tried to coax me to get onto the weighing machine so we’d “get to know how things are” and “so he can help me figure things out”. I have not agreed yet. He steppe donto it himself to show me it wasn’t dangerous and the world didn’t explode. He’s weird but he’s cute too. <3 I told him, while cooking today, that food scares me and made me feel icky, so he said he think I should try to make it smaller and less dangerous, like eat some spoonfuls every 2 hours or so and see if that goes better. One cup of soup here, a cracker or two there, some spoonfuls of something else then and so on. We'll try that.

    Today I made home-made nasi goreng with a lot of veggies, mushrooms and quorn instead of chicken and it was great. And very very easy. I forced myself to eat a couple spoons when it was finished and GOODNESS the quorn was good! Better than chicken, but tha tmight be because we've eaten so much chicken the last years that I tend to avoid it if I can because ugh, too much. Pity quorn is so damm expensive. (I will buy it anyway from now on, so that's that.)
    I want to make my own nasi spicemix but first I 1. have to figure out what spices I need and 2. buy them. I will also make taco mix and other things someday when I have the ingredients. Mixes from the store all right but it's more fun, and often nicer, to make them yourself.

    I have never eaten Mac & Cheese and I suck at making cheese sauce…I end up with warm milk with cheese lumps. How do I make it mix?

    (Speaking of Mac&Cheese: I'm rereading Maybe This Time right now. I hope I will never have to eat the Mac&Cheese mentioned there.)

    Anyway I have babbled enough and also I'm currently moderating the chat on F's Twitch stream (gaming, work work work), so I'll stop here. Have a great week, everyone! <3 And thanks for being amazing to me Sunday. You're the absolute best people I know.

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    1. The few bites thing is something that a doctor once recommended for my grandmother. She didn’t have an eating disorder so much as never felt the urge to eat. But she loved ice cream and cookies, so that worked fairly well for her. Hopefully it works for you as well.

      Btw, what is quorn?

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      1. As far as I have understood it, Quorn is yes, a brand, but it’s also different from other brands of vegetarian meat replacers in that it’s not made of soy beans (or other veggies) but of mycoprotein, mushroom protein from a particular mushroom I don’t know the name of. It’s probably a patent for I have never seen any other brand produce something similar, which is why the name quorn is associated with that particular product. They make it into “fillets”, pieces, slices, minced “meat”, you name it. The texture is very soft, not so squishy as mushrooms get sometimes. I really liked it. I’d eaten it before as a kid/teenager at my then-best-friend’s place, but mostly that was vegetarian bolognese and not pieces, so this was new.

        A couple of my psychologists also tried to get me into the few-bites-thing, but I’m so screwed up with eating that I forget it because my body doesn’t say “HEY, I’m hungry!”, or it didn’t until a couple of years back when it suddenly started demanding food. Now we’re sorta back on the non-demanding part, but I’ll try the few-bites anyway.

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        1. Quorn is one of my favorite brands of meatless entrees: the pesto and mozzerella cutlets make me* happy; the tenders cook well in any sizzle sauce (especially Indian, for me*), and make a quick and nutritious meal.

          My body demands food sometimes, but it often doesn’t have to.

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    2. I find the easiest way to make cheese sauce is to put flour, milk, butter (not melted) in a jug in the microwave, heat for one minute, and then in 30-60 second bursts, whisking (just a little balloon ehisk, by hand) between each burst, until you have the consistency you want. Then stir in grated cheese. It’s not classic roux technique, but it works.

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      1. The thing I like about making sauces on the stove top instead of the microwave is that you have so much more control. As long as you keep the heat fairly low, almost nothing is irreversible. In the microwave you don’t see you mistakes until they can’t be fixed.

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        1. So, Shass, to make cheese sauce on a stove, you need to make a roux. I did this only last night, in the course of making my fish pie – which is actually cooked fish mixed into a cheese and herb sauce and topped with mashed potato.

          (Oh, help: it’s bedtime, and I realize I need to convert imperial to metric for you. I used 1 pint of milk to 2 ozs butter and 2 ozs flour – in case you want to check my metric conversions.)

          Melt 50 g butter in a saucepan and stir in 50 g flour with a wooden spoon to make a paste. Heat, stirring frequently, until it bubbles slowly for about a minute, then take off the heat and add 500 ml milk, a little at a time, stirring each batch until it’s smooth before adding more. Bring back to the boil, stirring, until it thickens (should happen fast). Add a generous amount of grated cheese, stirring it through, and season to taste.

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          1. Janet B knows the classic recipe, even more classic with an added pinch of cayenne and a fresh grating of nutmeg stirred in
            .

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          2. Thank you, Jane, for the sauce recipe! I have a website for converting measurements, so I can try recipes from all over the place with measurements I have the right spoons/cups/tools for. I will try making cheese sauce the way you described and see if I fuck it up less this time. I’l let you know if I succeed. 🙂

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        2. Agreed. However, the flame (even on the smallest hob) is too strong on my stove. NL is all gas-stoves. I need to get a “cover” to spread it out and make it less hot. I had one, but I think the fairies have moved it… I can’t find it anywhere.

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      2. It sounds like if you’re not careful, you have a very cheesy microwave… 🙂 I’ll try it just to see if it works. Thanks for the tip!

        2+
      3. Thank you. This is a new to me technique for making a white sauce. For a cheese sauce I just add heavy cream* and cheese and a dash of Worcestershire sauce and heat it for about 30 seconds, stir then repeat if the cheese is not melting into the cream. But a fast white sauce this is a great idea and worth trying to master. But I like the slightly toasted pie-crusty flavor of cooking flour in butter so I will be looking to see if it duplicates that.

        *Grandma taught me to make new potatoes and spring peas by simmering new potatoes and heavy cream. When the potatoes are just fork-tender, she added the new peas. This is to die for. She was a farm wife as you have probably guessed. dI could hardly wait for June so we could have this. It is a miracle I have not had a heart attack – yet.

        0
    3. Shass, I’m so glad you talked to him. Keeping the hard stuff in just makes you feel worse about it all.

      I have a friend who has had to really work at enjoying food (her mother has some serious issues), and who rarely feels hungry, and she takes a similar approach. She’ll make something she knows she can eat and then just have a few bites here and there throughout the day. It’s working for her.

      7+
      1. I’m happy too. Everytime I talk to him and things just work, I wonder why the heck I didn’t tell him earlier. AND I remember why I got engaged to him on a random day in February ages ago. He’s the best. Now that I figured out what the D in DH means (Thanks, Google) I should upgrade him to DF. Until he becomes a DH, whenever that will happen. (Haven’t found a chat/internet acronym for Fiancé yet, which is why he’s just F.)

        I feel with your friend. Eating isn’t easy, finding a strategy to do it anyway isn’t easy either. I’m glad she found a way to do it. I hope I will, too.

        3+
    4. Good for you for telling F. Everything is better shared, especially troubles.

      What I’m telling myself at this point is that I don’t have to eat a lot, I just have to eat. And then do that over the period of the day, as other people have pointed out. The three meals a day thing isn’t working for me, I’d never get it all down, but small servings spread out I can do. And now that I’m cooking again, a lot of it tastes good. (There are always some disasters, that’s just life.)

      8+
      1. Yeah, it feels good to have told him. I’m all for communication, talk about things, so it bugs me like hell when I can’t do it and is a huge relief when I finally (as we say in Sweden) pull the thumb out of my butt and do it.

        Glad to hear the spread-it-out-and-make-it-smaller-strategy works for you, too. I’ve actually always learned that the 3-meal-thing isn’t that good, it’s better to go for 6 smaller meals spread out through the day to keep your body happy, the digestion even and the blood-sugar on OK levels. Anyway, what’s important is that you, we, eat.

        I have so many diet- and slimming-fanatics around me it’s crazy. Everyone tries to convince me that THEIR way of doing things is the absolute truth, ranging from strict LCHF to 5&2-diet to skipping all meat and eat a lot of potatoes to loose weight, or an apple for breakfast, several Red Bull throughout the day and a hot meal late at night. I don’t think there is an absolute truth when it comes to diets and eating. Everyone has to find out what works best for them and makes them and their bodies happy. We’re all different, not just mentally but also physically, so there just CAN’T be a diet that works for everyone. But there should be a SOCIETY that works for everyone, dammit, without shaming, blaming and scorn for those who doesn’t look the way someone has invented is “the right way”.

        4+
      2. Mind Over Munch has some crazy whole meal replacement shake recipes online. She uses all natural ingredients, and they looked okay. She has other yummy shake recipes that are just shakes – not meal replacements. Her other recipes are good, too. Anyway, those might be easy to digest.

        1+
  21. I made a new batch of preserved lemons. I use it a lot now, but it took me a while to figure out what to do with it. Thanks to a sister, who said “think of it as vegan bacon and use it in anything you’d put bacon in.” Hahahaha.

    She’s right! I love it in salads, especially when I can’t get good tomatoes, it’s divine in split pea soup, I’ve even mixed a little into butter for a savory spread. (I’m a Food 52 fan and cooks there have lots of other suggested preserved lemon pairings – there’s a scrumptious shrimp and preserved lemon dish and you can substitute wilted spinach if you don’t have or want shrimp or meat.)

    But preserved lemon is an acquired taste unless you grew up with it. I’m glad I acquired it!

    It’s easy to make, kosher salt and lemons. I like using organic meyer lemons but regular lemons will work, too, and might just be a bit more tart than the meyers. You can probably use regular salt, although I think you might not want to use iodized salt.

    It also keeps for ages. I last made a batch in January 2017 and just finished it up a week ago. Granted it was in a pretty big jar (I recommend making a smaller batch) and I refrigerate it so it doesn’t get lost in cupboards.

    On the non-food front: Did you read this terrific article in the Washington Post a couple days ago by a woman who write movingly about sewing – and keeping her sanity (she’s a lawyer, aghhh! 🙂

    Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/03/19/how-sewing-improved-my-mental-health-restored-my-professional-ambitions/

    6+
    1. I think you can put preserved lemon in almost anything and it is so gentle that it just kind of bumps the flavor without acidifying the food – for folks who are having wonky digestion or kids who are little slow to adapt to new stuff, it’s fantastic. I have successfully gotten a pretty fair number of kids off plain buttered noodles and onto willingness to try anything if it has some “jar lemons” on/in it. Preserved lime brightens up black beans or mojo or pork again without pushing the acidity and is just so delicious. I am vaguely ashamed to admit that we go through about a quart of preserved citrus each month. I am always making more.

      5+
    2. Another vegan bacon is smoked sweet onions — there was a stand in the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (foodie *central*) that sold them, and I can’t find them anywhere else, and I don’t have a smoker. Might get one just for these!

      Totally vegan baco-bits.

      2+
  22. I find mac and cheese is actually pretty easy to make from scratch. And much better than the boxed alternative. I think the recipe is more or less this:

    Cook 8 oz of macaroni, and butter a casserole and heat the oven to 350. While its cooking, shred two cups of cheddar and grate a half cup of parmesan and warm (not boil) 2 cups of milk. Then in a sauce pan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter and add 4 tablespoons of flour. Slowly add the milk, a bit at a time (that’s how you avoid lumps–use warm milk not cold, and don’t put it in all at once, but add a bit, mix until smooth, add more, mix until smooth, so that the whole mixture slowly gets more liquid). Then add most of the cheddar and parmesan again in bits, not all at once and stir until melted. Use medium heat or even lower–you don’t want it to boil.

    Drain the pasta, put it in the casserole, add the sauce, mix well, sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and some paprika. Optional extra; toast 2 pieces of bread, butter it, and crumble into bits, and put those bits on top. Bake casserole for 30 minutes.

    Its not fast food, but the actual making only takes 30 minutes or so and its really good. I’ll check the quantities when I’m home tonight as this is from memory.

    6+
    1. I have usually not cared for homemade Mac’n”cheese – I like the boxed stuff, so long as I can eat it in the first a5 minutes or so. Otherwise, it gets sticky. But my sister made a jalapeno mac’n’cheese over Christmas, in her Instant Pot, and that was what led me to get the pressure cooker.

      I am intrigued by the idea of preserved lemon, but have never done it.

      Must actually work, now!

      6+
  23. Also, I came home last night to discover a lovely neighbor with a gorgeous garden had dropped off a whole bunch of snow drops for me since she’s been thinning hers out. So last night and again tonight, I’m going to be planting snowdrops. With any luck, they will naturalize the same way hers did.
    Also, my mini irises came up so that’s fun. Most of my crocuses did not, so I think I need to plant more this fall–they seem to make it for 2-3 years, slowly dwindling in number, as the squirrels eat them. This has only encouraged my desire to get back at the squirrels by putting up a birdfeeder and then putting a slinky on the pole so that when they climb up and hit the slinky they slide down. Its war, as far as I’m concerned, with a side dose of entertainment.

    11+
    1. Debbie, I’ve tried a lot of birdfeeders and as a result I’ve fed a lot of squirrels.

      The only one I’ve found that keeps squirrels away is the Droll Yankees brand Yankee Flipper. It has a large, long cylinder with feeding ports near the bottom. At the bottom is a perch. There’s a motor that activates when something squirrel-weight uses the perch: the perch circles like a merry-go-round. http://drollyankees.com/video/yankee-flipper-yf-squirrel-proof-feeder/

      This feeder is expensive and has a motor. But I hung it up last November after charging the battery, and I filled it with birdseed (I think it holds 5 pounds). Today is March 21st. The battery still has power and I put in 2 more pounds of birdseed last week. So I’ve saved millions on the birdseed alone.

      By the way, the squirrels are a hoot. A single grey guy will spend hours trying to figure out the feeder. Being swung around doesn’t bother any of them, nor does falling to the ground. The birds are very happy about the whole deal.

      Good luck!

      3+
      1. Really, I just want to watch teh squirrels slide down the pole when they hit the slinky…Although I gather some are smart enough to team up and one climbs, grabs the slinky, slides down, and holds it down so the other can climb up.

        0
  24. I am working on tweaking the first book I got published (a sci-fi romance) so I can re-release it now that the rights have reverted to me. It’s sooo much fun playing in this world again! I’m also working with a cover artist on the 3 books in this series.

    13+
  25. So after a fab corn beef dinner for St Patty’s, my daughter makes Irish nachos with the leftovers. It sounded SO unappealing but omg it was so delicious !! So it’s frozen French fries, corned beef, cole slaw and Russian dressings d maybe cheese. Full of junk calories but yum. I’m also working a job at school and I am whipped.

    7+
  26. We haven’t cooked much during to hospitals and etc. My mom made excellent corned beef though. She also made cabbage but I don’t eat that. Yuck.
    I cleaned my front porch, threw away some stuff that has been sitting there for a few years and swept the whole thing twice. It looks great. In the cleaning process I found some bags of paperwhites and iris bulbs so I planted them in out in the yard and they almost immediately grew. So I should have blossoms next week.

    12+
    1. I thought I didn’t like cooked cabbage until I ate with the family who run my local Thai restaurant. Pinoy stir-fried it lightly with very minimal seasoning and just a little water. It was such a revelation. The cabbage was semi-crisp, light in texture, not burnt and not soggy. I wonder if she will let watch her make it some time. And it wasn’t even Napa Cabbage, which has a much lighter texture.

      6+
      1. Yes: after decades of not being able to eat cabbage – it made me gag – I finally discovered that if it’s just cooked for a few minutes it’s actually sweet and crunchy rather than bitter and soggy. I even tried growing my own (I only grow foods I really like), but alas my cabbage looked like an illusteated guide to pests and diseases.

        10+
        1. That’s what I’ve learned with the meal kits; cabbage cooked the right way is really great, slightly crunchy and wonderful in soup.
          And with sambal oelek is makes kickass slaw.

          4+
        2. Cabbage can be so tricky. My MIL grows it every year. She needs to cover it with non-woven fabric to keep the butterflies out. Otherwise, it looks like Swiss cheese. The next trick is to pick it before a lot of rains — I think the covering keeps out the water, so when we get a lot of rain, the cabbages finally get some juice, and split. When it works, though, it’s delicious, and they last into spring.

          0
      2. Oh yeah, it’s *overcooking* cabbage that makes it evil.

        I stuffed a cabbage this week! My grocery had great big green cabbages for St Patricks and Elizabeth David’s country French cookbooks have several recipes for stuffing them. You blanch the whole cabbage until it’s tender enough to open the leaves out, and then you put tasty filling — gooshy is easier than lumpy — inside each leaf and fold them back up. Tie it up or put it in a colander, braise the whole thing.

        Traditionally done by the side of the hearth, David remarked that long slow cooking works well in the Aga, and I did it in an Instant Pot.

        3+
  27. I guess I’ve delurked a few times recently and it’s making me think I should participate more. So:

    Sadly, my work today is literally work — one of my parts of a huge project that’s making everyone a little panicky. But Sunday I cooked All The Things, including galaktoboureko with a fancy orange layer for a late pi day contribution and beans en molé.

    11+
  28. I’m working on not being nervous before doing my first podcast about my writing. I’m being interview by Pam Stack at Authors on the Air Radio Network. It’s at 8:30pm ET at this link if anyone is interested. Not sure if I want to know if people are listening or not….https://tinyurl.com/y6ae9udv

    8+
  29. Going through every recipe in my inherited The Tassjara Bread book, I have been making bread, cinnamon rolls and dough….today Okinamyaki ( japanese Pancakes) and my partner know how to make mac and cheese from scratch and its amazing. Create is the theme in this household…

    7+
  30. The other night I made marinaded beef on rice (for Mr Nine-Year-Old-Fussy) and fattoush salad, which is one of the few salads I really like eating. The bonus was getting to eat the leftovers the next day for lunch.

    Last night was tomato-and-bacon pasta, which is a family staple meal. I got myself a wide, flat enamelled pot in a pretty duck egg blue recently which is perfect for making pasta dishes all in one pot, and it’s such a pretty pot that I always enjoy cooking with it.

    And now I’m off to make cupcakes for a school picnic tonight.

    4+
      1. Chasseur, same type. Yeah, I love my cast iron pots, and they’re so pretty and fun to use.

        3+
  31. I entertained a casserole Vision, won’t know how the dish turns out until we eat tonight. So shredded cabbage and slivered garlic slowly sauteed in butter as the bottom layer. On top goes cooked ground beef and diced onion warmed with dufa biber black pepper. Ladled over is a sauce of yogurt with a quantity of diced cucumber and dill pickles and a large sprinkle of za’tar. Components separately taste great. We’ll have to see how well they combine.

    Yeah, I know. Isn’t it weird what folks eat? Okay, me.

    5+
    1. My judgment basis at this point it to look at the list of ingredients. Do I like everything there? Okay, I’ll make it. (I do swap out the things I don’t like, like broccoli and kale.)

      5+
      1. My husband swears he likes steamed broccoli. Of course, if I serve it that way, he wonders where the cheese sauce is. What he really likes is broccoli drowned in cheddar cheese sauce, i. e., grated cheddar just melted into heavy whipping cream in the microwave. Weeds from the garden taste good in cheese sauce. Wood chips would taste good in it.

        10+
    2. It’s the thing from Home Cooking – “…cooking for oneself reveals man at his weirdest. People lie when you ask them what they eat when they are alone.” She also has a piece about making and eating dukkah that was so seductive that I skittered out onto the q to Brighton Beach to get all the right things and have been making it and eating it with a spoon ever since. Those things we just kind of invent are often so delicious.

      5+
      1. LOL, I always thought I was a bit of a weirdo and heading for eccentricity. But when I dine alone, it’s roasted chicken, or French bread with butter, toasted then covered with a slice or two of tomato. Not weird at all. Practically mainstream.

        0
  32. Working on copy about hydraulics, security systems and solar farms – not all at once.

    Thinking about making a sweet-potato-crust quiche.

    Counting on playing with paint tomorrow.

    5+
  33. I tutored, got all my writing done AND went to a class on public speaking today. Yes, I won Wednesday. Not to say that you all didn’t win too. There’s enough Wednesday to go around.

    I ate a fried egg on a bagel. Oh, and I finished my daughter’s ice cream. She’s gone back to college and someone had to do it. So no real food craft. ALL my dishes are dirty and I was much to busy to do them today.

    8+
  34. I have had a non-specific virus for the last two days that thoroughly killed my appetite, but I think I’m on the upswing again. Yesterday I couldn’t even finish my breakfast, but today I have managed to eat a whole (small) meal, and I’m planning to eat another later on. Progress, right?

    I’m soaking some black beans so I can make tortilla soup tomorrow night, and will probably also make a sweet potato and spinach gratin so that I will have lunches ready for the next week of morning shifts. I can just about put porridge together at 4am, but I can’t pack an edible lunch at that hour.

    I have done no work on my friend’s baby blanket due to training and virus, but the timeframe has suddenly gotten a whole lot shorter – the baby came a month early – so it needs to be finished by next week. I’m not sure when they’re getting out of the hospital, but I’d like them to have it soon either way. No more slacking for me.

    6+
  35. Everything I’ve read here about Mac & Cheese tells me I’m not making any from scratch this year. Or next. Nor will I be buying the blue box nor Velvomit. I’m reminded that Phillie Cheese Steak is traditionally made with Cheez Whiz, which is similar to food. I’m not using that, either.

    This all sparked a memory. Some disremembered years ago, I bought from Amazon, “Hoozier Hill Farm Cheddar Cheese Powder Sample.” Net weight, 3 oz. It has a best-by date of 2/20/2019, but it’s in a sealed foil pouch and I’m sure it is still edible… if it ever was. No directions, but I suspect using the ones on the blue box would work.

    Has anyone else ever eaten this stuff? Is it worth the effort? I’m looking at the shiny red pouch (more rose that red) and my eyes slide over to the trash can, back to the pouch

    2+
    1. Take it from a real Philly girl — Yeah, the cheese steak places use Cheez Wiz, but the best Philly Cheese steaks are made with provolone.

      5+
      1. My Philly cheese steak sandwich is grilling sliced spanish onion, adding thin sliced lamb then adding cheddar cheese to the mix and serving it on ciabatta. It’s not at all authentic but is it ever good.

        1+
    2. My husband is a dairy farmer, so we get free Camembert cheeses from the factory every New Year . . . and so, if you can find a cheap, mild Camembert, you can scoop out the innards and have a great substitute for Cheez-wiz. (We didn’t get any this last New Year, come to think of it; if we had, I’d try and make Mac and Cheese from it.)

      1+
  36. I have been trying to find various mac ‘n cheese that I can stand. I am, it turns out, picky on this topic. Prefer white cheddar, prefer less gooey cheesy soup, prefer bacon on it, definitely prefer bread crumbs. Safeway has an expensive but good one in the deli area, as it turns out.

    Am knitting a stripey sweater.

    Am really, really burned out on my job but no other jobs exist out there that I can do. I’m so tired of it all and have 25 more years to go.

    5+
    1. Sorry about your work situation, Jennifer. I too wanted/needed to switch jobs in my forties. I moved back to Shropshire, where there were no publishing jobs; but I just couldn’t find any other work. I’d have liked to work with other people, as I had in London, but my only option was to freelance.

      I do hope you have better luck than I did. It is hard to change direction, but I think it’s absolutely worth going for. Maybe inspiration/opportunity will strike unexpectedly.

      3+
  37. Goodness, all the food-talk here makes me long for recipes. And try them all. And reconcider buying a slowcooker. Stupid me, I should have taken the chance to look at them last weekend when I brought my laptop in for reparation…

    Well, gives me a reason to coax MIL to go with me to that store again.

    2+
  38. I got my bottom wisdom teeth out on Wednesday, so I am eating mush. This is not my favorite diet. It’s not even been two full days and I am already over this. I am really looking forward to chewing again.

    Back on Sunday though, I made Irish soda bread and sticky toffee pudding. It’s was fantastic. Oh! And the spinach dip from the back of the Knorr vegetable mix-in package. That was really amazing.

    2+
  39. Long story, but I’ll try to boil it down to the good parts. I decided to buy some breaded shrimp as a treat this weekend. Fried them up just fine, and realized that they’d be GREAT with some tartar sauce, of which I had none. And no time to boil an egg.

    So, my daughter is moving all of her stuff home before going to college next Monday, and her earthquake emergency supplies came home this weekend. She doesn’t like canned meat or much canned fish, so I packed some sealed bags of quail eggs for her (she likes those). They last for six months or a little more if you buy new packages.

    I sliced those up, and mixed up a tartar sauce. Better than nothing, but it needed sweet pickles, and I don’t know where my sweet pickles are (I last made them two summers ago, so they could be anywhere, really).

    However, the shrimp turned out fantastic, and just a real blast from the past. My mom used to buy popcorn shrimp and fry them at home once or twice a year, and I was reminded of that. And the quail-egg salad turned out well on some lettuce, so it all worked out.

    I think I’ll try mac and cheese tonight; haven’t been able to get it off my mind lately.

    1+

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