Smorgasboard

10:43 AM

It's been my cooking philosophy this week as I desperately try to use up leftover party food before it spoils, so why not reflect the same principle in my blogging style? OK--I've been too scattered lately to put together a coherent...well...anything... so here's a little sampling of everything instead.

Cooking

I did a lot of it last weekend. The good part? I haven't had to cook all week. We've been reheating leftovers like it's going out of style. It's been great, because, honestly--it's been the week from hell.

I made a lasagna on Sunday that was to die for. My Italian Mother-in-Law has granted me honorary Italian status. I'd post the recipe--which is my own--if I bothered to remember to take measurements. Whoops. I've been making my own pasta sauce for years now, and so I make it by taste. It's a handful of this and some of that and then you taste it and see what it needs. If anyone is interested, I'll take notes the next time I make one, which will likely be soon since I've got an extra tub of ricotta in my refrigerator that needs using.

On Monday, we ate Mediterranean-style stuff. I made Souvlaki, Tzatziki, and a Greek Caponata. I can give you recipes for those...

Souvlaki
You'll need:

  • 1 lb. lamb shoulder meat
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (preferably Greek olive oil)2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic or garlic puree
What you'll do:
  • Cut the lamb into cubes approx. 1 inch in size.
  • Combine other ingredients to form a marinade.
  • Put lamb and marinade into a ziploc bag and shake well.
  • Put bag in refrigerator and let marinate for approximately 4 hours. You don't really want to let this marinate all day, because the lamb is already pretty tender and you don't want the marinade to overpower the flavor of the meat.
  • Start up the grill. While grill is heating up, thread lamb onto skewers.
  • When grill is nice and toasty, pop skewers on and grill away! Mine cooked for about 8-10 minutes/side or 16-20 minutes total. You don't want to over cook them.
  • Serve hot with Tzatziki Sauce.
Tzatziki Sauce
You'll need:
  • 3 cups Greek Yogurt
  • Juice of one lemon (about 3 T)
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 medium cucumbers, seeded and diced (or 1 large European cucumber with very few seeds)
  • About 1 T kosher salt for salting cucumbers
  • 1 T finely chopped fresh dill
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
What you'll do:
  • Peel cucumbers, then cut in half lengthwise and take a small spoon and scrape out seeds. Discard seeds. (If you use the small seedless or European cucumbers with few seeds, you can skip this step.)
  • Dice cucumbers, then put in a colander, sprinkle on 1 T salt, and let stand for 30 minutes to draw out water.
  • Drain well and wipe dry with paper towel.
  • In food processor with steel blade, add cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, dill, and a few grinds of black pepper. Process until well blended, then stir this mixture into the yogurt.
  • Taste before adding any extra salt, then salt if needed. (I didn't need any more salt)
  • Place in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving so flavors can blend. (This resting time is very important.)
The Greek Caponata was something I saw Giada De Laurentiis make on the Food Network a few weeks ago and sparked idea for the Mediterranean theme. You can find the recipe for that right here, and I highly recommend it, particularly if you find yourself in possession of massive amounts of summer squash, zucchini and tomatoes. It's very easy and very tasty. It also reheats nicely if you're like me and make way too much of it.

Reading

Yeah. I've started doing this again. You know, it's kind of fun! I'm currently reading Fluke by Christopher Moore, which is funny and good reading, but is not grabbing me the way You Suck or The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove did. It still has interesting chapter titles (Heinous Fuckery Most Foul is my favorite thus far) and phrases (I don't think I've ever read another book that mentions "poop chute technology"). Perhaps I'll have to order it for work. Christopher Moore was on the cover of Writer's Digest or something like that earlier this year....

I'm also reading 1215: The Year of Magna Carta by Danny Danziger and John Gillingham. It's interesting, but very different from the Christopher Moore book.

Cats


(Warning: This is a TMI sort of post. If you don't want to read about cat urinary health, move along to the next heading. Don't say I didn't warn you.)

Polly has been sick of late. She seems to have some urinary tract unhealthiness going on. The poor baby was a little under the weather at the end of last week and into the weekend. By Monday, she was miserable. Unfortunately, it was a) Labor Day and b) The Beloved's surprise party. So, we kept an eye on her, cleaned up the puddles that appeared around the house, and hoped for the best. When everyone left, I called the vet's office thinking she had kitty diarrhea again--the puddles were watery, oily, and brown...what was I supposed to think? Anyway. They couldn't see her that night, but made an appointment for the next morning at 8:00. So, we kept an eye on her and then found some obviously bloody puddles on the floor. I called the Emergency Vet Clinic, they suggested I bring her in, and an X-Ray and $200 later, they determined she probably had a bladder infection. So they sent us home with some antibiotics and the X-Rays and told us to check in with our regular vet. Which we did the next morning at 8:00.

The regular vet was grouchy because they couldn't get an accurate urine sample since I had started her on an antibiotic. But then they couldn't find her heartbeat because Polly decided to start purring and wouldn't stop. Not for running water. Not when the vet tech held a piece of gauze saturated in alcohol under her nose. So, they took her back and took some blood and tried for some urine. They apparently couldn't find her bladder, either. Even with an ultrasound. The vet did, however, express concern about a lump on Polly's shoulder. Now, I asked about the lump six months ago when we last came to the vet (same clinic, btw), and the vet we saw then--the director of the clinic--told us not to worry about it. Apparently, I should have been worrying. They took samples and have sent them out to be analyzed. Then, they decided to put her on a different antibiotic than the one prescribed at the EVC. So, $400 later, we went home.

I'm happy to report there were fewer bloody puddles around the house this morning and that Polly is at least trying to use her litterbox. Unfortunately, she still isn't really eliminating properly. I called the vet this morning to reschedule a follow-up appointment and asked when I should start to worry. The vet says, "Do you want to bring her in?" Uh...not really...we're already going to be eating Kraft dinner for the next month since I spent all my money on the previous bill.... So, we're keeping our fingers crossed that she's doing even better (ie: peeing) by the time I get home from work today. I'm hopeful. She was eating and drinking last night and this morning and seemed a bit perkier than yesterday morning. And, if she's not doing better I'll suck it up and take her to the vet. I wonder if The Beloved will notice if I pawn my engagement ring.

And she needed a haircut.

PollyBall.JPG


Poor baby.

Hair

About a month ago I decided to try the no-shampoo lifestyle. This does not mean I've stopped bathing and/or grown dreads. What happened was this: I read Wendy's post about her "poo-free" lifestyle and was intrigued. Unfortunately, the WEN products are a little too rich for my blood. I'd probably have to give up knitting in order to wash my hair with the cleansing conditioner, and that would be absolutely unacceptable. But, like I said, I was intrigued by the idea of shampoo free. So, I put my librarian skills to work and did some research to see if there was an acceptable (less expensive) alternative. And I discovered sites about people washing their hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. After I got over the, ew, yuck, that's weird factor, I decided to give it a go. And I am pleased to report that my hair looks and feels great. I wash it every three days now (as opposed to every day with traditional shampoo) with a solution of 1 T baking soda to 8 oz. water. And I use a rinse of 2 T lemon juice mixed with 8 oz. water. My hair is shiny and soft, it has a bit of curl (who knew?!), my scalp feels great (no more dandruff or icky waxy nastiness) and I'm putting fewer chemicals on my body and into the environment. The only things I miss about traditional shampoo are the bubbles and the detangling agent--my hair is on the long side, and combing it out after a wash can be a bit trying.

Even in this crappy picture, my hair still looks fabulous!

If the Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar route is pressing your buttons, check out this site. It was very helpful for me starting out.

Knitting

Yes, I still knit. I even knit socks. But the Angel's Rest socks still aren't finished. Sigh. I'm working on the foot. But I got distracted. I need more dishcloths for a housewarming party later this month and I was possessed by the overwhelming desire to knit this:

This is Luigi. The Beloved has named him. I actually made him for a friend (well, for the small child of a friend), but since The Beloved has named the damned thing, I don't know that I can give it up. Well, that, and it's a really pathetic excuse for a stuffed toy. I'm not good at seaming and I'll need to practice sewing arms and legs on to make it better next time. Because I'm sure there will be a next time. I used the Knitted Cuddlies pattern that's available free if you're registered with Knitting Daily. It was really easy to do, and though I'll probably make a few modifications next time--including finding a better way to sew the limbs onto the body--the end product is cute enough that I think I'll probably be making several of these. Best of all? I don't have to worry about lead paint from China when I give these to small children or to their parents!

That about sums it up for now. This weekend will be busy--that saying about no rest for the wicked is really starting to ring true. I'm going to Belmont for Godly Play reaccreditation training. I know you're all jealous. It should be fine, and possibly even fun, but I am just so darned tired that the prospect of a day-and-a-half-long storytelling workshop really isn't working for me. Maybe if they had beer...or at least naptime to break up the storytelling...

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