Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Little Something Food

I like to point others to good things I've found. One of the most recent of those things is the crock pot split pea soup recipe at Kayla K's Thrifty Ways, which I've already cooked twice. Whenever I made split pea soup in the past, I made it on the stovetop, with indifferent to poor results. Cooking it in the crock pot makes a real difference in the quality, and there's less hands-on time than with the stovetop. I made mine with chicken broth (the real thing once, bouillion cubes the other) instead of vegetable bouillion, and I used a chopped up garlic clove for the seasoning. Yummy. With a piece of homemade bread, it makes a perfect Lenten Friday meal.* Outside of Fridays in Lent, my husband prefers a ham sandwich as accompaniment.

I've been a bit bread-happy lately, compared to recent years. In addition to several batches of Cuban bread, I've made cornbread three or four times recently. I normally buy self-rising white corn meal for cornbread and that is good, but I haven't been making much bread and I've been out for months. A few weeks ago I was given some stone ground white corn meal from a grist mill up in Laurel. Using the recipe on the bag (and the oven temperature of my usual recipe, since their recipe didn't include temp), I have made some really delicious corn bread. It has a really fresh taste, as well as being a wee bit more coarse than the usual meal I buy in the grocery store. If you can get hold of some in your area, I recommend it. A little square (or two) of the bread made from it is perfect with the crock pot split pea soup.

Also on the bread front, I recently had a decent storebought biscuit. My mother, who makes very good homemade biscuits, has taken to keeping a bag of frozen biscuits on hand for when she wants just one or two biscuits with a meal. I've tasted frozen biscuits before and, while they're considerably better than the wasp's nests that are canned biscuits, they're certainly no patch on the average homemade. But this kind my mother's using, Mary B's Tea Biscuits, is actually tasty. She cooks them in a litle toaster oven/convection oven combo with a thin smear of butter on top, and they come out tasting like real biscuits. I bought a bag and for some reason I can not get as good results in either my toaster oven or my regular oven--maybe it's the convection makes the difference?--but they are edible and certainly better than any canned biscuit. I like the size and, although I can't remember the price, it seemed reasonable enough.

I've started experimenting a bit with a George Foreman grill. I wouldn't have bought one myself, but someone who had two gave me one months back and I put it under my cabinet and promptly forgot I had it until asked how I was enjoying it. So I had to get it out and try it. It's not bad. Fairly easy to wipe clean, if nothing else. So far I've been most impressed with the fish fillets I grilled on it yesterday. The first fish I tried on it tore into pieces as I'd been warned would happen (still tasted fine), but these I didn't lift the lid to check until I was pretty sure they were done and I was super careful lifting them off the grill--with that and a little luck I had two pretty little fillets. I've never been an adventurous cooker of fish and grilled makes a welcome addition to my little repertoire. Extra welcome for Lent.

Do check out the rest of Kayla K's Thrifty Ways, which I found via Knitting Pattern Central. It's a nice little blog on thriftiness (obviously), including cooking and crafts, and the author seems like a really nice young lady.

*Re something with chicken broth being suitable for meatless Friday meals, my understanding (based on a possibly faulty memory of one of Jimmy Akins' Lent-related posts) is that soups and such cooked with animal juices are technically allowed, although not necessarily in the spirit of the thing. I probably wouldn't use real broth for a Friday meal and I hesitate at the bouillion cubes, but I figure a chicken bouillion cube is a long way from chicken and a couple of small cubes spread out over a crockpot of soup is pretty negligible. I haven't had vegetable bouillion in the house in years.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A New Pleasure and a RIP

Two weeks ago today I was an hour and a half north of here and got to experience a pleasure I have never had in the whole of my life: I got to walk in the falling snow. Central and south Mississippi do have the rare snowfall and I have known several that were really notable by our standards. But every one I have ever known fell during the night, so I never got to experience more than seeing the flakes lit up in the car lights as we drove home or, if home when it started, running outside for a few minutes to see it; I could only take a walk in the snow the next day, after it had fallen. Friday before last, by contrast, much of the snowfall happened in the morning, so I got to take a walk in it and see the big, fluffy flakes fall past my face in natural light. It was beautiful.

Of course, I also discovered that snow can create a problem on glasses something like rain does and, not being at home, I didn't have a brimmed hat to wear to keep the snow off them, but nothing is perfect in this life and that walk, with the vision of snow on pines and more snow falling, was good enough for me.

Today was also the seventeenth anniversary of the World Trade Center bombing. Here is a piece from the fifteenth anniversary. Michelle Malkin notes the anniversary too. May the seven people who died that day and all of the people who have died in terrorist attacks on America and on her allies be granted eternal rest.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Well, There Goes a Perfectly Good Joke...

There's an old joke that ends with Boudreaux shivering and saying, "Hot damn, the Saints done won the Super Bowl!" I guess we can't use that joke any more. But tell me now, is it a coincidence that it was such a cold weekend when they went and won it, hmm?

Not that I much care. I've never watched football and I was lucky enough to marry one of those few Southern men who couldn't care less about it. I usually don't even know when the Super Bowl is coming up, let alone who's playing, but I live in SW Mississippi. There is a lot of black and gold and a lot of fleurs de lis around here anyway, but in the past couple of weeks it multiplied. Sunday afternoon mass, whose attendance I've noticed looking a bit sparse on previous Superbowl Sundays (at least once this was my only clue there'd been a SuperBowl), looked this year as if a plague had hit the area. I guess some of the people who chose morning mass over afternoon got what they were praying for. Good for them. I'm happy for them, in a non-involved, benign, good-will-to-men-of-good-will sort of way.

Even if their win does spoil a perfectly good joke.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

A Random Thought

Do you ever find yourself wondering if the exact job that would have been most satisfying to you is one that no longer exists in any substantial sense, such as blacksmith, buggy whip maker, or wagon wheel maker.

Well, okay, me neither, beyond about five seconds today. Although I did used to wonder if the apple variety that would most exactly suit my personal taste buds is a variety that hasn't been grown within living memory.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Quote of the Past Month

It's been a long time since I've made one of my irregularly scheduled "Quote of the Varying Time Period" posts, so here is my favorite quote from the month of January:

...I could whisper, ‘Turn,’ and 6,000 tons of aircraft carrier, four acres of
U.S. sovereign territory, thousands of people, enough aircraft to make a nice
air force for a small country, and billions of dollars of equipment and training turned.

And I traded it for a toddler who giggled and ran the
other way when I yelled, “Would you come here?!?“ [source]

It's from The Political Housewyf, whose blog I found by accident last week.

Here's An Idea for Someone Else

When I saw the movie Ushpizin (mentioned a couple of posts ago), I got to experience one of those minor pleasures of life that people seldom talk about: unexpectedly hearing words you know in a stream of what are, to you, meaningless sounds. In the movie when the wife walked to the sink and started the hand-washing blessing, it took a moment for the penny to drop and me to realize, "Hey I heard that, I didn't understand it by reading subtitles". I knew the whole beginning of the blessing (Baruch atah adonai melech haolam...), because they are the beginning of other blessings and I Iearned them a long time ago. In the middle of this flow of sounds I couldn't understand was a sentence--or partial sentence--I did understand. Usually when I have this experience it's only a word: some busboys saying manana, for example, or one of the handful of Japanese words I know (oba-chan, konichiwa--words like that) coming out of an anime character's mouth. Suddenly hearing an English word in a stream of foreign language is also pretty good, but not quite as good.

Anyway, this is only preparatory to recommending a website that has some Hebrew blessings with the words in both Hebrew characters and roman letters and audio of each word being said or sung so that you can learn correct pronunciation: Learn Hebrew Presumably the site will eventually be expanded to include more prayers.

And recommending that website is only preparatory to asking why some Catholic somewhere doesn't do this for Latin prayers? I've read advice to pronounce Church Latin like Italian (rather than Classical Latin), and I once somewhere saw a few Latin prayers spelled out phonetically for English speakers, but that's it. Any media-savvy speakers of Church Latin want to perform this service for us slobs who never studied Latin and are too lazy to start but would like to know a few prayers?

If I'm complaining about a lack that has already been filled, please tell me.