LJNDawson

Book publishing. And everything else.

Archive for the category “The Home”

A Foodie’s Hell

I love cream.

I love cheese – all cheese. I love eggs. I love full-fat everything.

I recently discovered that I have a cholesterol level of 352.

So I have to recalibrate. I’m told to stay away from the things I love, as well as most red meats, potatoes, and refined flour (so no white pasta). So basically, I can’t eat most of what Bernardo cooks – pizza, lasagne, steak, etc. I can’t even eat too much of the so-called “good fats” – olive oil, avocado. I just have way too much fat overall in my diet.

Which suddenly means I’m cooking for myself again (which is fine – I love cooking), and it’s all different from what Bernardo and Gina are eating. (Yeah, I had a little cry right before dinner last night while they were having Porterhouse steak and roasted potatoes, and I was having a Morningstar Farm fake-chicken thing.)

Yesterday I did a big shop and realized that – aside from the occasional chicken breast or lean pork – I’m essentially looking at a pescatarian lifestyle. And given that fish doesn’t really travel well into the office, I’m looking at it mostly being a vegetarian lifestyle.

Today I did what I used to do years ago on a Saturday – cooked for the week.

I made black bean soup, with parsnips and onions and fat-free chicken stock and a TINY amount of sunflower oil. It’s nice and sweet. I thickened it by using an immersion blender to mash up the beans and release their starch.

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Years ago, I was a vegetarian – I lasted about 10 years before the practicality of having little kids and little time intervened. But I’m familiar with vegetarian brands – I really like Morningstar Farms (though I’m aware that they’re fairly salty – which is probably why I like them). I made a ragout with MF “Crumbles” – basically flavored texturized vegetable protein. I used some tomatoes that I’d put up in August (Jersey-grown tomatoes do get a bit watery in the can, so I had to use some tomato paste to thicken it). This came out surprisingly well.

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I also made a braised tofu dish with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and honey. Again, the MINUTEST quantity of sunflower oil, mostly just to keep the tofu from sticking during the searing process. I used to make this years and years ago.

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And I made a sort of chicken-and-parsnip casserole, with oregano, garlic, and lemon.

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And I roasted an acorn squash.

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So I should be all set to come home from work, heat something up quickly, and sit down with Bernardo and Gina. We were joking last night that Gina wouldn’t even be jealous of my food because none of it is anything she likes.

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Now, I have lost 25 pounds since June 9, mostly just through walking and monitoring my caloric intake. With this new way of living, it looks like I’m about to lose a load more – not intentionally, but just because I’m having to give up rich foods. Due to reflux, I’m also eating several tiny meals in a day – so I’m eating all the time, more or less. But it’s whole grains, nonfat yogurts, vegetable proteins or low/nonfat meats (turkey breast, chicken breast, fish), fruits and vegetables. Instead of seltzer, I’m drinking water infused with ginger and citrus peel. Instead of drinking so much caffeinated tea (basically, it was all day every day till 5 p.m.), I’m drinking more ginger/lemon tea. (Yeah, ginger’s kind of my best friend right now.)

Proof of Providential forces: a farmer’s market just opened up next door to my office.

 

It’s Friday

So I give you a bunny in repose:

 

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Where Is Summer?

It’s been a cool and rainy summer this year. I got the tomatoes in a little bit late, but not enough to warrant growth retardation. But that’s what we have – it is August 19, and this is the sum of my harvest (out of 12 plants) to date:

 

3 Cherry Tomatoes

 

Three cherry tomatoes.

I don’t care what they say – it’s f***ing Spring now

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Bernardo accuses me of causing more bad, wintry weather by declaring it Spring (damn the torpedos! full speed ahead!). But he is wrong, wrong, wrong because Gerardi’s is officially open for the season! Scamp took this photo from the car on Friday evening; Bernardo was just there today picking up produce.

And I’ve been knitting like a maniac. Finished my shrug made with Tess Kitten, and launched a hat and a very sparkly blue cable sock.

A word, then, about Ravelry. Even if you are not into knitting (or fiber arts in general), I urge you to set up a user ID and look around. Ravelry is an amazing universe of metadata. Yarns are tagged and taxonomized. Patterns are linked. The faceted search is a wonder – I could spend (and have spent) DAYS constructing complicated faceted searches to pinpoint the exact right pattern for some obscure yarn that I picked up at a fiber festival. If you are a metadata geek or a design geek, Ravelry is amazing.

I spent Palm Sunday logging all my yarns, and choosing potential projects for each one. I have 105 yarns. I reserve the right to change my mind, but damn, the fact that this is even possible, down to the METER, is amazing to me. I have loads of great projects lined up for Spring knitting.

Why I Wear Black All the Time

Not that I think anyone really cares, but occasionally someone comments. And because today I am wearing a light-wine (or dark-mauve) colored dress…

I used to think it was because I had little kids and I would get their Nutella-smeared fingerprints all over my clothes. These kids are now 19 and 14. I used to think it was because I lived in an urban area and had city grit floating around rubbing itself into my clothes. Now I live on Staten Island on a tree-lined block in an old Victorian house, and drive to work every day. I used to think it was because I had no time to coordinate outfits and black was the quickest way to get dressed in the morning. Now I have to face the truth.

I spill food all over myself.

 

Nights Like This

Tonight I left work and went across the street to the gym and did an amazing cardio workout. Just the bike – but stupendous…I finally got through 14 miles in 45 minutes. (Yes, well, hip injury. It was exciting for me, personally.) In a state of bliss I drove home, to find Bernardo and one of his BFFs, Charlie, greeting me as I pulled up against the curb. They were going to rack the wine a final time, and begin bottling.

But they needed fuel. Bernardo had put up some flounder in crazy water, with sauteed spinach. So we had a bit of the 2012 before dinner – it is coming along deliciously – and sat down. Fish in crazy water is substantial enough to warrant a red wine, and Charlie brought us a robust California cabernet. And in the middle of dinner, the doorbell rang – it was our neighbor Rich, six weeks post-knee-surgery, come to see what the wine-bottling was all about.

We persuaded Rich to have a little fish, and then the men disappeared downstairs. As I was nestling into the couch with my laptop, I heard the sound of pool balls being smacked into pockets. Eventually, this turned into the sound of wine being bottled.

A beautiful night to come home to. Friends, food, wine, and the lingering endorphins of an amazing workout.

So That Went Well

My work and home lives – which are more or less inseparable, really – have been on fire lately. And I haven’t blogged. I’ve written – many, many things. A chapter for a book that NISO is publishing; a remit for an ISNI task force; a hell of a lot of emails; two presentations for TOC (the third doesn’t have a script).

So I am uncertain about my resolution. Have I kept it? I have been writing every day. Just not publicly. :/

Bustling

In a busy house, weekends are largely about Getting Ready For the Week. The interminable laundry. The changing of the bunny cage. Dog-grooming. And, lately, cooking and putting up food.

When I was married, the food was my responsibility. Eventually I worked out a system whereby I made five meals on a Saturday night, and put them up in plastic containers. I posted a spreadsheet on the refrigerator – this main course, with this vegetable (or two), and this starch. It worked, mostly, unless I left “salad” open to interpretation.

Bernardo is a fantastic cook. For a while we theorized that he would cook during the week, and I would do it on the weekends; but our weekends are so jammed with chores, kid-ferrying, and sudden decisions to go skiing or to the beach. This weekend we instituted a new plan – I would do stews and casseroles and things (my forte anyway) and freeze them for weeknight¬†consumption. And Bernardo would do the weekend cooking – which may or may not require prep, but he is better at that sort of thing than I am. As of Sunday night, it’s working – over the weekend I made a veal curry and a chili, and for lunches I made a curried celeriac soup. Bernardo already has some baked ziti in the freezer, as well as some sauce for ravioli, so I think that takes us through Friday.

I am coming down with a cold today, so after a long nap I simply puttered. (Laundry is good for that – reorganizing closets and drawers, fussing over clothing.) Bernardo moved some of the furniture in the bedroom so my vanity is under a good strong light. And I recovered the bench, which was this awful zebra print. Now it’s pretty.

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As Bernardo made dinner (a delicious sausage bolognese with whole-wheat pasta), we talked about What’s Next. Venetian plaster for the living room walls, and a new carpet. New wallpaper for the stairway, and new carpet. Painting the sunroom and the kitchen (yellow and peach, respectively).

All of which is much easier than what we have just finished doing – landscaping the backyard, putting in the shed and the pool and the patio, installing French drains and a new basement floor. Things are coming along.

Buzz buzz buzz

Today was one of those days – where I was immersed, engaged, deeply involved in moving projects forward.

And then it was 5:00, and time to work out; and then it was snowing, and time to drive home. And then I hit the Newark Bay Bridge.

I have a love-hate relationship with that bridge. It’s under construction/improvement, and that causes complications. But the view – the VIEW! – from that bridge is incredible. Regal. You can see all of New York Harbor – the Statue of Liberty, the Freedom Tower, the Empire State Building. With the brightly-lit cargo cranes to the right, and Manhattan to the left, it’s a jaw-droppingly majestic sight.

Tonight, however, there was no view.

The snow made for very poor visibility. There were a couple of jerks stopping their cars without signaling, weaving between cars. Stopped at the far foot of the bridge were two OTHER jerks, with hazard lights on, and a cop car behind them. This was the bottleneck.

It took me 90 minutes to get across a bridge that normally takes 10 minutes. So I had plenty of time to meditate.

And that’s the thing about being immersed – at some point you have to come out. Because you have a family, a home, pets, children – dinner to be made, floors to be swept. The commute home helps a lot with that sort of channel-changing; but sometimes you get a little extra. If you are intent on moving forward and getting everything done the way you have always, it can be frustrating. But if you’ve had an extremely challenging day, sometimes a 2.5 hour commute can be a good thing.

I didn’t meditate on anything in particular. That sort of time is not meant for productivity, but refreshment. When I got home, Bernardo was sorry that I’d spent so much time in traffic. But I didn’t mind. I was shedding my work skin, and it would have taken a little longer anyway. At least this way, when I got home, I had left the job behind me for the weekend.

Chocolate Lab

I broke my writing-every-day resolution a second time – by getting violently ill in Brussels on Saturday, and thus spending the one day I had to roam around the city actually lying flat-out knackered in my bed, only peeking up to rid myself of bodily fluids or to check Twitter. I was too ill to even watch re-runs of Sherlock. I am never too ill to watch re-runs of Sherlock (“I could cut myself on those cheekbones.” Oh, yes, please.)

The hotel kindly sent me up four pieces of dry toast and two liters of ice-cold mineral water, not-so-kindly charging me nineteen Euro for the delivery. But the toast was very helpful, and I was still clutching two pieces of it like talismans as I boarded the plane on Sunday morning to come back home. (“No, I do not want to check my toast. I need my toast.“) We promptly sat on the tarmac for two hours while Belgium figured out how to deal with snow, and I finished sleeping – which was unfortunate because there was an eight-hour flight ahead.

During which I watched re-runs of Sherlock, so I was obviously feeling better. I also started and finished Going Clear, which was fascinating and very reminiscent of the Readers Digest and Newsweek articles about cults that I devoured in the 1970s. I arrived home with a bag of chocolates in hand, and Bernardo made us an early dinner, because it was obvious I was going to crash at around 8:30.

Which I did.

I was awakened, however, early this morning to the sounds of Bernardo scolding Mollydog. Then he came and got me.¬†“Molly ate the chocolate.”

Yes, the only redeeming thing (besides the good work that got done) about this trip was laid to waste all over the living room floor…and the kitchen floor…and the basement floor…and in various puddles in the backyard as the morning went on. A ninety-pound black Labrador hopped up on caffeine and sugar is not something anyone should have to endure, least of all the Labrador.

Molly is fortunate that she is such a big dog, and that the chocolate was milk chocolate – her toxin level was not that high, relatively. We fed her rice and lots of water and she got herself back together in a few hours.

Somewhere in all of this, Obama got inaugurated again. It sounded wonderful.

 

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