Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thank You

Thank you for reading (and commenting) on my blog.
Thank you to you who drove down from the north for Thanksgiving.
Thank you to you who are hosting my Grandma and her people in that north.
Thank you Rick for making cheesecake.
Thank you sugar for holding out for cheesecake, apple pie, pumpkin pie and whipping cream.
Thank Alton Brown for guiding me through these many dishes.
Thank you CSA for the pinto beans and oranges, the butternut squash and the basil.
Thank you boss and boss's wife for making my job fun.
Thank you mom for taking care of my sick kid.
Thank you El for taking care of the same said sick kid.
Thank you Erik for building the fires, fixing the leaks, displacing the brine for the turkey in the cooler with milk jugs filled with water. Also thank you for thinking you're funny and for often actually being funny.
Thank you internets although sometimes I think you are my albatross. Or my Achilles heel.
Thank you sisters for being so funny and for sometimes thinking you are.
Also thank you sisters for cooking and talking and living near each other through the internets.
Thank you Cam and Lil for liking your cousin so much.
Thank you people for hosting my in-townedness--C&T in GR, A & M in GR, A & M (different A and different M) in Tucson, El & Rick & mom in Salt Lake (not all at once).
Thank you magazines for publishing my poems and my essays.
Thank you people for coming over for dinner, for having me over for dinner, for going out to dinner with us.
Thank you mom. Again. For good measure.
Thank you Z for being the sun and the moon and for not using such powers against me too often.
Thank you again Egg for always reminding me, just by looking at me, how good we have it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Live Turkey Blogging

The cooking has begun.
Z and I have roasted the pumpkin and pureed it's sweet flesh. Now, it has to drain for 4 hours. Also, I need evaporated milk! Even for a "from scratch" pumpkin pie recipe. To the store again. Grim.

Next: Pie crust. Usually, this is Little Hand's project but I am here and she is there. May we both have flakiness in our future.

Then: Make broth for the gravy from giblets and other parts. Start brine. I think I'll use the recipe Lisa B sent me since it seems simplest--and most pure. May I salt properly.

Also. I think we'll make butternut squash lasagna. Z makes delicious pasta noodles in the pasta maker. Let's see if we have it in us.

Guests arrive soon!

More later!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More thoughts on brining

I want to brine my turkey for Thanksgiving. Has anyone brined before? I know I need a large container. Where ever shall I get one?

Can I keep the large container, full of salt and water and turkey in the garage all night? (It's warm in the day here but 26 degrees or fewer at night).
What's good to put in the brine?

When I used to smoke my own fish, I'd use all kinds of spices--juniper berries, dill, pink peppercorns, thyme, Worcestershire sauce. I'd use apple juice, beer and and lemonade for liquids.
Any ideas what would work with a turk(ey)?

Let me know if you plan to brine and if not, what other ways you might torture your turkey into submission.

The brine

By singular demand, I bring you a not much adapted recipe from Bon Appetit for brining pork chops--the key? Beer!
And not only brine, but a rub. Delicious.

1 beer.
Edited thanks to Lis less than 1/4 cup salt (Bon Appetit uses 1/4 cup salt--I think it's too much but if you love salt even more than I do--which is a lot, then use the whole 1/4 cup).
3 Tbls Molasses (I use honey. See? Adapt.)
3 Tbls Brown Sugar
4 ice cubes.

In a pan, heat beer, salt, honey, and sugar until sugar dissolves. Let cool. Add ice cubes.

In a plastic tub or freezer bag, place pork chops and brine. Turn twice during the 4 hour hour brine. Don't brine for more than 4 hours or chops become too salty.

The rub
5 cloves of garlic (BA says 7. Less is more, no?)
2 tbls dried sage (though I used fresh and it was just fine.)
2 teaspoons salt
3 tbls pepper.

Crush all this together--I use my cutting board and a knife but you grind ingredients in mortar and pestle too.

Take the chops out of the brine. Dry them. Let them dry. Do something drying so the rub can stick.

Heat grill (you could do this a little earlier. )

Grill chops as you would usually. The thin ones about 5 minutes a side. Thick, about 8.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Conflicted Productivity

At my only Z's expense, I got a ton of work today. I hate to take her to school on days where I don't have to go into the University because she a) walks around like a lost puppy for the first few minutes and b) tends to contract one of the millions of diseases the kids (or is it the teachers?) keep on hand for her arrival.

I also let her watch two, TWO!, movies this morning before school. But I did get this done:
  • Wrote Letter of recommendation
  • Wrote metablogging presentation
  • Made linky for said blogging presentation (if you get more hits after tomorrow, you can thank me and my metablogging way).
  • Contacted other creative writing directors in this fair state to introduce myself
  • Contacted AWP to ask them to make me their contact person.
  • Responded to student essay.
  • Compiled Nonfiction Contest responses from students. Rejoiced when they agreed. Shook my head when they didn't and read the essay myself.
  • Emailed students about teaching Intro to Poetry
  • Emailed chair to make sure said teaching was going to happen.
  • Emailed one-time summer scholarship student and said I'd write her a letter of rec.
  • Checked mail for birthday gifts, acceptances, and money. None of which was therein but it was worth checking (I'm pretty sure this high altitude makes it difficult for mail to actually reach me in a timely fashion.)
  • Brined some pork chops (oh. And dumped the first brine all over the kitchen when trying to shake the liquid upside down. So brining and cleaning. I think that might be worth two bullet points.
  • And, most important, finished a 69 page nonfiction proposal.
  • And blogged.

Now I have many other proposals and grants to write and essays and poems and things to revise and laundry to finish and sweet potatoes to bake but I first will go retrieve my poor child who bears the brunt of productivity. Hopefully, her lost puppy-like ways became something more complacent monkey and less sad-making five minutes after I left. Usually, she's happy if she finds the pink shovel for the sandbox but man will the guilt be even heavier if not only did she go to school on my "off" day but if the pink shovel could not be found.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Further South

We went to Tucson for Veteran's Day. It's the furthest south I've been on this half of the country. Well, maybe San Diego's further south. I could check lattitudes (can't you just imagine a book of poems called Lattitudes?) but I'm not feeling researchy. Or googly (which are becoming simultaneous in my undergraduate mind).

Tucson was warm. Not warm enough to swim but warm enough to sit in skirt and shirt by the side of the pool. The first night our hosts made a delicious dinner of salmon and greenbeans and the best foil-wrapped, rosemary-attended, red potatoes I've ever had. Megan sliced them so thinly that they cooked in like ten minutes. Then we were off to the Day of the Dead parade. Spooky, both in the creatures parading--weird goldpaint-covered monkeys, a giant rabbit head, umbrellas divested of their fabric, the requistie ghoul faces, and some somber drum beats and the fact--I felt like I knew everyone in and watching the parade. The U of U and U of A had some strong connections while I was in grad school so that's part of the feeling of knowing everyone but everyone seemed very familiar--a westerly connection? A parade effect? At the Pride parade in Salt Lake, I felt the same thing--but then, I did know a number of people parading and applauding.

The next day, certain people played disc golf for 7 hours! But who cares because Megan and I went to BevMo and bought one bottle of wine and the second was only five cents. Five cents! I came home with 6 bottles of wine for the price of three (plus $0.15). Then a delicious lunch of tacos at El Charros. Then, more sitting by the pool. With wine. When the guys came home from disc golfing, they jumped in the pool. They suffered for their machismo. Or at least shivered for it.

Dinner at Terra Cotta. Delcious poblanos stuffed with shrimp and rice in one and pork adobo and sweet potatoes in the other. I could live on stuffed poblanos. If they came with avocado. After, we played Ticket to Ride--a train game that I almost won and then someone (one of the hosts no less!) tricked me and scored 20 extra points. I think I'll stick with Cranium.

The hightlight of the trip was the desert museum and were I less lazy, I would upload pictures, but I am not less lazy (see above, reluctance to even Google). Mountain lions and barrel cactus, otters and agave. Wolves and ocatillo. We left from there the back way and made it back in four short hours. Edited to add--Also! Raptors: Harris Hawk, Barn Owl, American Kestrel.)

Z was a great traveling companion--she watched Shrek 3 and Tinkerbell on the way down (and the way back), stirred sticks in the pool, played train game with us, stared at the otter as long as I did, and appreciated the salmon and greenbean dinner (her favorite. Which our hosts knew.)

All in all, the whole moving to AZ project makes a lot more sense now that the drive between here and Tucson seems short for the payoff.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Now What?

Whenever I do yoga, which is maybe twice a year, I overstretch my hips. Interlocked somewhere between pelvic bone and the iliofemoral ligament is where I bury all my stress and all the disease that my students and my child try to inculcate me with. Yoga stretches and therefore releases all those toxins into my blood stream. Yoga, though healthy-seeming, makes me sick for about a week.

It's been 8 long years. 8 years that I've been hunkered down, writing useless letters against delisting Gray wolves from the endangered species list and hunting cougars with dogs. I flip off people who drive Hummers and buy organic milk and pretend this has an effect. I feel embattled and yet I go about my business like everyone else, keeping my headdown, my politics publicly diffuse, my apocaplyptic visions quiet. Then, Tuesday happens and unleashes all that pent up stress. Now I'm sick and bored and freaked out.

The internet has nothing for me. My inbox? Empty without MoveOn and mybarack.obama emailing me every 7 minutes.

It might take a long time to recover. And, like yoga, a mere one day change isn't going to effect a lifestyle change. But I feeling stretched, if sore, and like there's something new to do. Something to help begin to make the change everyone who voted for Obama called upon themselves to make. It's just a start. But maybe if I do something politically, socially yoga-esque not yearly but weekly or even daily, the hunkered-down feeling won't return and the something planet-healthy might take hold.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Halloween Wrap-up

I went as "Today's Mail" for Halloween which goes to show how much time and energy I put into this year's contest. I used tape and binder clips and paperclips to attach that day's mail. Except, the mail that came on October the 31st was kind of boring and/or bills so I had to root around for a bit more interesting mail.

I just removed a paperclip and a return address sticker from the shirt I wore today. Apparently, I did not wash said shirt over the weekend.

The best Halloween ever was had by us because all the events are downtown. We walked from the library to the haunted house to the music in the square where women dressed like zombies and did body-falling-off dance moves to the beat. Almost everyone was dressed up--butterflies, prison-escapees, ghouls, disco dancers, Nemo and Dory. We sat and had a glass of wine at Cuvee 928 and watched the band and the kids collect glow sticks. Then we went from shop to shop to gather candy from finely dressed shopkeepers. My favorite was Bunnicula.

Egg had to work so Z and I finished trick or treating and came home to a happily door-bell-ring-free existence. We ate pumpkin seeds, radishes, turnips and carrots.

A perfect Halloween until that night when Z woke up with a sore throat and couldn't go back to sleep (or stop whimpering). She woke up feeling fine but we were all zombies (insert All Soul's Day joke here) So Saturday was kind of a loss but we managed to go on a walk and make delicious lasagna with butternut squash, sage and andouille sausage. Z and I made the softest, most magical noodles, making me think November will be a fine culinary month, even if not everything else works out (insert election is tomorrow and there's too much anxiety in my heart. Also. Have you seen this ad? It made me cry, not least because I used to sing that song to Z in the NICU.

May we all sleep a little tonight.