cherydactyl: (Default)
I had waaaaay too many potatoes sitting around in my cupboard, and a couple of cans of clams, and some bacon fat I had saved, so I made chowder.

I chopped an onion, cooked the onions in the bacon fat until they were translucent, and then put them in the crock. I chopped up six potatoes and three stalks of celery and put those in the crock too. Then I opened my two cans of clams; juice and all went into the crock, along with some black pepper, and about three cups of water. I cooked that on high for about four hours, then added about a cup of soymilk and some arrowroot slurry, more black pepper, some lemon pepper blend, some salt, and a little paprika. It still wasn't as thick as I would have liked, but it was very tasty. I am adamantly against loading up soup with flour to thicken it, on the grounds that lots of refined flour in the diet is not a good thing.

Both [ profile] illyaa and S ate a bowl and declared it was good, so I am satisfied. M ate a cream cheese bagel and some olives. She hardly ever eats what we are eating, it seems. OTOH, I remember many a night of eating rice with salt and pepper on it when my family were having chop suey and I couldn't stand it. I figured out later that I have a strong reaction to MSG, so there was a very good reason to avoid the La Choy soy sauce in that dish. Which is why I don't force my kids to do more than try things I make, and offer alternatives. Sometimes the body is wiser than we know at the time. S eats a good variety, and she used to be a good deal pickier than even M is now. So was I as a kid. It will all resolve in time, I expect.
cherydactyl: (Default)
It's about -10 our there right now. I don't even want to think about the wind chill. The predicted high is about 5 above. There is no school due to the cold and wind chill.

And my husband didn't check before he got our kids up.

cherydactyl: (seasonally appropriate)
So yesterday was the solstice. We celebrated Christmas with [ profile] illyaa's family, including some cousins we don't see that often. Or, in a few cases, that we expect to see a little more of, since they have just moved to Toledo from West Virginia. Festivities included way too much food and chocolate, presents of course, Fluxx of both the Zombie and Monty Python varieties, which I inflicted on people to keep my kids amused, and Guitar Hero. Our nephew is pretty wizard at Guitar Hero, as is Mark, husband of [ profile] illyaa's cousin Kim. We got to meet the newest addition to the family, their son Max. Some members of [ profile] illyaa's family keep trying to civilize us with gifts of china and other stereotypically gifty things. It never works.
cherydactyl: (Default)
It's been a pretty long time since I wrote anything that wasn't a meme. I've been on and off sick, extremely busy with a second micro-job and holiday stuff, worrying about the global economy and our family economy, and playing too much Power Grid on BSW.

[ profile] illyaa's phone finally gave up the ghost about a week ago. So we suddenly had to move on the front of getting new phones, which I had been hemming and hawing over for about 6 weeks. We've been out of contract for a long time, longer than I thought as it turns out. By the time we actually did something about it this week, we'd been out of contract for two years. Yes, you did read that right. My Treo is four years old, and looks like it. We attempted to upgrade our phones and deal with Sprint, and had several bad or frustrating experiences on the web site and in the store we visited (the one on Washtenaw between BeanersBigby and Chipoltle). The biggest source of frustration is that to get the full rebates on a Centro, Sprint was forcing us to have a data plan for me. I want a PDA phone because I want a calendar and note taker and some control over applications without downloading crap from a provider's proprietary store only, and the ability to get photos off my phone by USB connection. I don't expect to use email or web on the phone. So, the extra monthly $ were feeling like a deal-breaker. Then [ profile] illyaa went on his company's web site to look for other provider's offers.

One advantage of his working for a global information behemoth (Thomson-Reuters) is they have good deals they negotiate for their employees. [The Sprint store employee we had tried to deal with kept saying Thomsom-Rooters, rhyming with Hooters. It was all I could do not to crack up.] Upshot: We are now with Verizon, who did not attempt to force me into a data plan. We have new phones, including a Centro for me. My Centro is a boring metallic navy blue instead of "vibrant rose," but I'm okay with that. lol. It came with a sudoku application, so my fidget-game needs are set for a while. :) All three phones arrived via Fed Ex yesterday evening, and we activated them this morning.

Yes, you did read "three phones." Older daughter S also has a phone now. Same model LG flip phone as her dad, but in candy apple red. It's locked to only accept calls from numbers in her contact list as of now, which is just our numbers so far. We plan to add her aunts and grandparents at least, and some of her friends too. Yes, we realize we are crazy. We figure this is an experiment, and will pay off when we go to game conventions. It will make me feel a little better about loosening the supervision tether on her. If she doesn't lose her phone by then. ;^) She needs a belt clip or a way to hang her phone on a lanyard, which we plan to work on this week.
cherydactyl: (Default)
I made roasted sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving. I peeled and cut the sweet potatoes into cubes, tossed with olive oil and a mixture of ground ancho chili pepper, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, freshly ground black pepper, and kosher salt, and then roasted it in a 350-degree oven for about 50 minutes.

They were delicious. However, most of my family thought they were way too spicy. I specifically used ancho chili because it's one of the milder chilies with very little heat. To me, they were barely spicy; I would have said not at all spicy, but, having been told the sweet potatoes had "too much kick," I tasted again and detected a very slight kick. At least [ profile] elsbon said they were good, and [ profile] illyaa and I enjoyed them.

Next time, I'll use cumin with no chili and see if they still say it's too spicy. ;-)
cherydactyl: (Default)
I've been sick for going on a week now. It wasn't so bad until Monday; it was just a slight cold until then. Monday was when the post-nasal-drip sore throat was in full force. [Note to self: let this be a further lesson to you *not* to eat ice cream to make you sore throat feel better. It always results in a worse outcome.] Tuesday I was in full blown sinus infection, and my whole face has been hurting for pretty much the last 40 hours. When I haven't been moaning, I have been making jokes that participating in a trial of The Head of Vecna didn't seem like such a bad idea. My sinus infection has been hurting me so badly, I was worried to drive to pick the kids up from school the last two days. It's that bad. ([ profile] illyaa picked them up from school both days.) Today I went to the doctor and now I have some lovely antibiotics that I hope will stop my head from threatening to 'splode. Soon! Soon, please, I beg you. Please! You can't leave me like this! ::grovels::

I only made it through Monday night and all of Tuesday by watching every bit of TV I hadn't yet watched that was available to me. This week's Heroes, House, and Sarah Connor episodes, Season 4, Disc 1 of Angel and Chicago from Netflix, plus the entirety of Season 1 of How I met Your Mother (which is made of awesome; thanks [ profile] curiouskendra for lending it to me). When I have a raging sinus infection like this, I cannot think straight enough to follow a novel, so TV is pretty much the only way to keep from moaning constantly. That and warm compresses. Which means a wet hand towel microwaved for a bit. Which I did repeatedly, about twice per episode of HIMYM last night. Today I limped through watching all the commentaries and special features on the HIMYM discs after my doctor appointment. I even found an episode on Disc 1 that I somehow had skipped over. This is a further indication of how out of it I am, for those of you who know me know that I am generally nothing if not thorough. [I want season 2 now, btw!]

This has meant Cheryl=useless since pretty much Monday afternoon. I *really, really* hate being so useless. Memory failing and logic out the window, which is what happens when my brain deals with sinus pressure, blow my usual self-concept completely. The doctor said my face was visibly puffy and swollen. And worse, today is S's birthday. She's 10. Double digits! This is a big milestone, but I have been unable to make cool things happen for her today because of this awful head cold gone wrong. I missed yoga yesterday morning, and I am planning to skip it tomorrow too, which I hate! hate! hate! I had to reschedule coffee with a friend this morning and a shopping trip for the nice older lady I do weekly shopping for from this afternoon to tomorrow afternoon (please god, let that work out okay), and now I have testing for this job I've applied for to go to Friday morning and Friday afternoon I am signed up to teach sign language to kids in K-3 for the inaugural "enrichment" class at our new school. S has a birthday party set for Saturday afternoon. And, and, and.... These antibiotics better let me get some decent sleep tonight. This was a bad week for a cold to go so wrong. Isn't that just the way.
cherydactyl: (Default)
Today I finally went to assemble the Trail-A-Bike that came to our door two weeks ago. The box had been sitting in our living room across from my computer for long enough. Upon really looking at the box, I discovered that a tools needed list was printed on the outside of the box. This was a good thing. I am reasonably handy, but at least two of the items listed I had never heard of before. I googled "cone wrenches" for starters, and immediately decided that I should let a professional put it together, as buying new tools just for this one assembly job seemed like a bad idea.
Read the whole saga, including our first tagalong trip, and pannier plans )
cherydactyl: (Default)
Anybody local interested in going in on an order of Wrap-n-Mat re-usable sandwich/snack wrapper thingies?

Here's the manufacturer's product page.

Also available at They have a slight discount for sets of 3 at a go.

So far, I think my family want 8 or 9 of them, and a friend wants 9. I emailed the manufacturer asking about a bulk order, and also got their fundraiser info. Maybe I can organize an order for fundraising at the new school this fall? Anyway, the fundraiser info auto-reply email says they start offering discounts at quantities of just 15, so I'm hopeful. I assume the 15 number is per design, but who knows?

Anyway, if there's anybody reading this local to A2 who is interested in ordering with us, let me know ASAP. Or, alternatively, if you know of a local source, let me know. Thanks!
cherydactyl: (Default)
Today [ profile] illyaa went away for his first business trip in a very long time. I think it's been years. M, S, and I dropped him off at the airport about 1:40. We were most of the way to Dearborn by then, so we just kept going east to the Henry Ford. We had passes for the Ford Rouge Factory Tour from our local library though the Detroit Adventure Pass program. This is a great program that lets you "check out" passes for 2 or 4 people, depending on the attraction, for many attractions in the greater Detroit area from the library. It's been hard to get the Rouge tour tickets, in general, because they only have so many per branch per week. They were available on Sunday, so S and I each checked out a pass so we could go for $0 plus gas.

I had checked the web site, and noted that the Dearborn Truck Assembly Plant is not currently in production. The exact wording is: "Ford Motor Company is temporarily idling the Dearborn Truck Plant in advance of the truck model change-over during the third quarter. This non-production period is expected to run from July 3 through early September." This kind of gave me the impression that the plant was re-tooling, but it seemed kind of a lot of down-time for that purpose. It turns out that the demand for the F-150 pickup trucks produced there is way down and they don't want to build any more until the next model year. Who'da thunk? lol. Anyway, it was kind of dead. There are things to see besides the assembly line, like the green roof of the plant and a couple of theatre presentations, but my kids were pretty bored walking though the plant. I made them do it anyway. :) The poor docents were hunting down people to talk to. I think we had maybe 10 guests on the bus including ourselves, each way. I am glad I didn't pay money for it, considering. The adventure pass program is set to run through October, so maybe we will try again once school starts.
cherydactyl: (Default)
The Escapist

I wish I had seen this person/organization's effort at Origins 2008, the "Ludic Amusement Convocation."

And they say they will be back for 2009, maybe even with a LARP! (Note to [ profile] therck, you and your husband might want to check them out and/or help??)
cherydactyl: (Default)
[ profile] illyaa's office closed early on Thursday, so we went out for the afternoon to see Wall E. The kids rode bikes and we walked to the theatre; it's about a mile or a mile and a quarter from our house. There were a couple of harsh words with the kids when they didn't obey the rules about crossing streets and driveways, mostly on the way back. :( WallE was extremely fun. I liked that the large portions of the movie were almost completely without dialog, with only a little exposition in spoken form for the first part. I've always liked stories told with little or no dialog; they seem more pure. Dialog is spin. ;-)

Yesterday morning we went to Ann Arbor's Independence Day Parade. We were running a little late, but got a spot at the corner of William and Main, which is late in the parade route. This was on purpose, to minimize the candy haul for the kids. There were (as expected) a lot of politicians. We especially cheered for the Ring of Steel folks, and the Juggling Arts Club, as well as the Young People's Theater. There was discussion on ArborParents (a email list I am on) of getting an ArborParents group to march in the parade in the future. I would totally enjoy that, so I hope it happens.

We chilled out for the afternoon. I fielded a visit to the door of a Republican candidate looking for the previous owner of the house. We bought this house nearly 14 years ago, so his info was rather out of date. I set him a little straight, politely.

Later, we packed a picnic supper and headed out to Kensington Metro Park for the evening. We ate sandwiches and strawberries and played Mama Mia (M almost understood it I think; it's a really difficult game...but S won) until it got too dark. S rolled down the grassy hill, wrapped in her blanket. It was a little chilly. Then we settled in for the fireworks, which started at 10:10 pm EDT. It was a very nice show. (Note to [ profile] sorcycat, this is fairly close to your place, so a joint picnic in the future might be fun.) Like last year's venture out to Hudson Mills on July 3, the girls were asleep pretty quickly after we got to the car. We got home right before midnight.
cherydactyl: (Default)
We're on our way out to Origins in a few hours. I'm not dressed nor packed, but we've had a huge breakfast of pancakes, strawberries, and melon, the kids are packed, and I think I can be packed and ready to go by 10:30. I'd really like to vacuum out the car...maybe that's worth the extra 45 minutes. Anyway, I'll be away until Sunday dinner time or later. See you on the flip side if I don't see you there.
cherydactyl: (Default)
Last Thursday was the last day of school for S. As a last-day treat, a pot-luck breakfast was held, before the kids were shuttled off to the playground of the nearby county park. At the suggestion of Will of [ profile] ravened, I brought the ingredients for a large batch of multi-grain pancakes. I have used more or less the same recipe for years and years; well, I vary it a lot, but the basics are the same, and I know it by heart. They got good reviews, and I think almost all of the quadruple batch got eaten. I vary it all over the place, but here's the basic recipe:

Cheryl's Famous Multi-Grain Pancakes *grin*
adapted from Jane Brody's Good Food Book, which was a wedding present
Recipe and variations behind the cut. )
Let me know if you try this recipe and how you liked it, or what pancake recipe(s) you favor.
cherydactyl: (Default)
Interesting article about the emerging so-called Homo Obeseus. It puts forward the idea that the typical western diet is screwing us over by sending signals to our DNA to turn us into a "species" unable to cope with inflammation or balance our own metabolisms.

Dairy is a main culprit of promoting inflammation that the article's author cites. As some of you know, I've been struggling at removing dairy from my diet for going on four years now. I have regularly relapsed into eating dairy, but seeing as how I suffer from a certain pesky inflammatory ailment, asthma, reducing inflammation is of great interest to me. Most of my falling off the wagon is when we eat out, as most American cuisine has butter, milk, and cheese all through. It's practically impossible to avoid dairy completely at certain restaurants.

I don't think I'm ready to go vegan, but I am beyond ready to go completely dairy-free. My kids and husband, however, are not at all enthusiastic. My younger child's caloric intake would plummet, at least in the short term, if I removed dairy, as she takes most of it in the form of either yogurt or mac 'n' cheese or cheese pizza. My older child has turned her nose up at my dairy substitutes, especially soy yogurt and ice cream substitutes. Do you have any freaking idea how hard it is to get fully non-dairy cheese? Most soy and rice cheeses have caesin in them, a milk protein, so they melt like regular cheese. So it's dairy but not? Right. I am glad she likes falafel at Jerusalem Garden; there is some hope that I can build on that to reduce dairy in the future. Here's hoping I can find ways for us to unhook from the dairy economy.
cherydactyl: (Default)
Last night's experimental dinner turned out pretty well. I looked up a few corn chowder recipes on, and didn't find anything like I was looking for. The model I had in mind is Whole Foods Market's soup bar smoked salmon-corn chowder, which is a guilty pleasure of mine since I'm supposedly going for a non-dairy diet. I ended up only vaguely using a vegan corn chowder recipe. I say vaguely because the recipe not only had no salmon, it also had no potato in it, used bullion cubes (shudder), and garlic powder as well as actual garlic (why??). It was merely a general guide to proportions in the end.

Clicky for recipe with notes. )

The three of us that ate it agreed it was delicious. M had a peanut butter sandwich. I sure hope she learns to appreciate more foods's the one thing I wish I could get her to do that she won't.
cherydactyl: (xmas)
I'm sitting here with a silly yellow tissue paper crown on my head, having cleaned up from our Christmas Eve dinner of glazed ham, baked potatoes, strawberries, peas, beans, peppers and cucumbers with dip, and fizzy juice (apple and blood orange). My Christmas cracker had a tiny maraca in it. S shook all of them when deciding which to place on which plate while setting the table, so I have absolutely no sympathy that she is disappointed with the crayons she received. She did get a green crown. :) M got a little green horn-shaped noisemaker and a pink crown, [ profile] illyaa got a magnifying glass and another yellow crown. My joke paper said...

Don't worry about avoiding temptation!
As you grow old, it starts avoiding you!

I forgot about popcorn, so we are popcornless tonight. I could make it, but quarter after eight is too late to *start* popcorn when we need the girls in bed so we can stock the tree before we hit the sack.

Half of the stuff I need to take to my mom's is packed; the perishables can be packed quickly tomorrow morning. I am looking forward to hanging out with my sisters and their families/friends at my mom's. I didn't manage to make the decadent pie I was planning, but we do have cookies for Santa.

M is now watching the Grinch (original animated), S is wrapping her presents, and I probably either throw an egg strata together or pre-mix the dry ingredients for pancakes to make tomorrow morning progress smoothly.

Happy Christmas! Or, Happy what-you-celebrate, if not Christmas.

Tomorrow when we get back, I have to remember to check for the Dr. Who special. :)
cherydactyl: (aging gracefully)
Sunday...Xmas at the cousins' pressure baking, prep for Xmas, and Xmas eve dinner with immediately family
Tuesday...Xmas, of course: cooking at mom's, so must leave early!
Wednesday...Cleaning/recovery day day with S's class; only two ppl have RSVP'd so far. I hope it works out.
Friday...Greenfield Village with my sister and her family
Saturday...18XX here with [ profile] illyaa, [ profile] gizelnort, M.C., [ profile] slammer2012, and possibly [ profile] dspitzley

So Proud...

Dec. 6th, 2007 06:15 pm
cherydactyl: (Default)
My older daughter recently participated in a program through her classroom called "Place out of Time," which goes by the somewhat amusing and unfortunate acronym PooT. Middle and high school students research and take on the persona of a historical figure, then participate in discussions about something in current events from that historical perspective. S decided to tackle Joan of Arc for her participation. She read several biographies (picture book and chapter book styles), wrote a summary "auto"biography and participated in a final banquet "in costume." S decided to take the wooden sword and shield she got years ago at a ren fair for her costume, as well as wearing her best white blouse. One of the college students wrote this about the banquet experience, passed on by the program coordinator at The University of Michigan and sent to us via her classroom teacher:

"Joan of Arc was amazing. She was not only well behaved and polite, but she was very knowledgeable about her character and was eager to share with all of us at the table what she knew about Joan. She also asked questions and was an active participant in the conversation. I do not know how old she was, but I know she was mature beyond her young age, just like the real Joan. I was especially interested in the costume she brought (a sword and a shield). She really got into her part. Along with Elijah McCoy and Elvis Presley, Joan of Arc was an impressive person and someone I was glad to have met."
cherydactyl: (Default)
Happy Thanksgiving!

I cooked the turkey today. It was kosher, and thus I did not brine it. I just about wanted to turn vegetarian when I was inspecting for quills, of which there were many, and prepping the poor bird for stuffing and roasting.

I used a combination of methods discussed in the afore-linked post. I put sage-black pepper butter under the skin and all over, stuck some onion quarters in the space under the skin next to the legs, stuck a few more onion quarters in the roasting pan next to the bird. The stuffing was ultra-simple, as per my family's usual, comprised of half cubed baguette and half cubed whole wheat bread, plus sage (from [ profile] therck's garden), black pepper, kosher salt and a mix of margarine and olive oil. I think I should have sliced the baguette and wheat bread earlier so they could dry out some more.

I used the start-fast method: starting in a 500-degree oven and turning it down after 20 minutes or so. The bird cooked way faster than I expected, about 2.25 hours total, even with stuffing. The breast was at 173 degrees and the thigh at 184 when I removed it. Thank goodness for my thermometer, which has a probe that can be left in a roast or bird but is read from outside the oven. Since the turkey cooked so much faster than I was expecting, I really had to scramble on the sides. The potatoes got mashed just as I finished the gravy, and the green beans were steamed and sprinkled with fried onions instead of my planned take on green bean casserole. The turkey was wonderfully juicy, and the gravy was really, really good. I had made stock from the turkey neck, an onion, a carrot and a stalk of celery, which stretched the gravy without need for adding chicken stock, and used arrowroot to thicken instead of flour-based roux. My mom's gravy always tastes more like chicken than turkey, so this was a change from what I am used to, but I really liked how it turned out.

We had dinner rather earlier than we originally had planned, but that was fine since it was just our immediate family and no guests at all. It's been pretty low-key, and I have enjoyed getting my kids into the kitchen a bit today.

We're currently on the dessert course, with immersion-blender-whipped cream on pumpkin pie, warmed apple pie, and some lemon tarts. I never made pecan pie, once I figured out that only I wanted pecan pie. I miss it, but having a whole pie to eat by myself was a bad idea.

In all, I am not daunted at cooking for Christmas for my family, assuming my brother-in-law doesn't grab the glory of cooking the turkey.
cherydactyl: (Cheryl The Monarch)
Ok, not that challenging or high-stakes really.

I bought a turkey last night. I was thinking of getting a breast or a roasting chicken, but I may be cooking for Christmas, and having a 'dry run' (kidding, knock wood) before family Christmas is a good idea. I have never attempted a turkey before. It's high time I did. I plan to call my mom in a couple of hours for tips on duplicating her stuffing, which older daughter adores.

Everybody and their sister has turkey advice on the web, but sometimes sorting the chaff from the wheat is hard for a newbie. Seeing as I have several foodies on my f'list, I decided a good way to sort as a first approximation is to ask said f'list.

I will fall back on reading many versions of how to tackle it if nobody has the killer turkey ap. I bet How to Cook Everything and/or Alton Brown's Kitchen Users Manual on my cookbookshelf will have some help.

So, any good turkey tips or method or resource that you favor?


cherydactyl: (Default)

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