My life has run the gamut of frenzy and idleness.
The summer has been a socially busy one, and I have good use of google calendars. We've had something planned nearly every day of every weekend since April. It is blissful having John & Liz back from Pennsylvania. They are now installed in their edibly-fragrant, cat-happy, guitar-slinging, Opthra Stewfry-idolizing*, monkey-balling house in Oxford. Sadly, there is a population cap in utopia, so we had to say goodbye to Kirk & Steph (married, moved to Brandon in May) and Jessica (left August, St. Louis, for a pesky education) and Monkey (who is now state-side from the war, but followed his heart to St. Louis). I miss them even more than I expected.
Life, in its flighty sense of justice, has measured us out four beautiful new friends: Claus, Kirina, Charlie and their new baby A.J. with whom we have developed a kinship. They cancel out any inkling of grinchiness I may have - it is impossible to hate humanity when they're around.
I'm still not a foodie, but...
Since moving into this monstrous house, I have been working on the habit of maintaining a clean and working kitchen. This has been hard for us in the past with a tendency to laziness and roommates. We started with some appropriate-use guidelines, which helped, and I ditched some of my bitterness.
I have started keeping certain of the more flexible ingredients for real cooking in my kitchen at all times. I always have a quart of cream, a bag of spinach, real butter, eggs, quick-thawing frozen chicken, potatoes, and parmesan and cheddar cheeses. More and more of my dishes will not stand to be reheated in the microwave and must be warmed in the oven, which is how I've judged my growth as a cook.
We're trying to eat at home more often to save money. So far it's working, but usually not with such elaborate recipes as last night when I made:
chicken cordon bleu - pounded flat chicken "tenderloins" (i.e. a marketable way to say chicken strips cut from the breast, which are indeed more tender with one bit of connective tissue running up the center), seasoned and sandwiched with a layer of ham and swiss cheese and more ham then flour coated, egg-washed, and bread-crumb crusted then pan-seared on each side in olive oil. Believe it or not, this was a dish I chose to make use of what was "left" in our kitchen. I had to make the bread crumbs out of croutons and dried sandwich bread.
baked beans - a childhood favorite made with lots of additives both for taste and texture: bacon layered on top, bbq sauce, ketchup, mustard, worchestershire, maple syrup, garlic, and minced onion.
twice baked potatoes - I don't like to reuse the skins; I just use several single-serving baking dishes. They had cheese, real bacon, butter and ranch dressing (in lieu of sour cream, which we did not have).
For dessert we had my homemade chocolate sauce and toasted coconut over blue bell vanilla ice cream, which has become a recent favorite.
I spent way too long in the kitchen, but I think as I start to cook more, I will get speedier. We've also had lots of events to cook for. With John's and Liz's return, we've started semi-regular (now in its infancy) pot-luck, as some might call a supper club. Both larger orchestrated events with fifteen or more people, and smaller get-togethers, have been very effective.
TV Links List
TV Links has eaten my soul. All of my attempts to watch less tv are for naught. At least when it's on, I can try to do something else. I have caught up on (and started) many shows that I wouldn't otherwise have watched. It runs near-constantly when I'm in my office (to my detriment, of course) while I'm eating and working (and often not working).
I have watched all of Friends, at which I had previously sneered. I'm not a fan of sitcoms in general, but Friends has the best writing, dialogue, and most addictive and convincing chemistry of the whole lot. I know, I know, you told me so.
I love Big Love. I never thought I'd crave a show that proposed wholesome family values, but I do. Of course, all of the characters are very human, and the threads of persecution, temptation, lying, believing your own lies, stealing,, and power-struggle make the show convincing and utterly watchable. We may wind up getting HBO because of this show (and the proposed Wheel of Time series in a year or so).
I gave The Tudors a shot, but I got bored. I'm too well-read on the era, via both fiction and non-fiction. The first four episodes of the show are a near-copy of The Other Boleyn Girl. After that, its attempts at shocking twists and drama couldn't escape the taint and predictability of Hollywood. I think for anyone else not in my social group, this would be a great show.
I liked The Black Donnellys, but I had to put it aside. I thought Jimmy would be watching it with me, but he can't stand the lower video quality of watching online. I'll probably come back to it.
Psych on the other hand has proven delightfully diverting. The characters and dialogue make it worth watching, but my love of continuity and epic plot will have to be sated elsewhere.
I have tried my hand at Criminal Minds, which I could watch like leaving a casserole in the oven. It required very little attention. It was mildly interesting. Enterprise is even less interesting, but it has the pull of finishing off my knowledge of the StarTrek world, even though the producers are now screaming, "We take it back! We take it all back! We're sorry!".
Forgive all the typos and made-up words. I'm ready to go do something else now. Probably breakfast.
* At first I just typed Martha Winfry, but lest the reference to Oprah Winfry and Martha Stewart was thought a typo, I deliberately made it more complicated.