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Triumph of the Mundane

Slow blogging at its finest

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The Lazy Cook

What with work and all the other stuff of life clamoring for my attention and zapping my energy, the joy of cooking has eluded me for months. Fortunately, the cooler days are perking me up a bit. A bit. Let’s not overstate the case.

So I’m adapting my cooking ambitions – Welcome to The Lazy Cook. Once again, the interwebs provideth.

The Lazy Cook 1

First up, the laziest cookie recipe ever – plus I found it on Nordic Northwest‘s* Facebook page so it pings the Nordic cooking button, too!

Mash together oatmeal and banana, then toss in a flavor. Here, I added mini chocolate chips because this was not an exercise in creativity. Blop vaguely round mounds on a cookie sheet and bake for the usual cookie-baking amount of time at the usual cookie-baking oven temp.

The result: Edible and not entirely unpleasant. Chewy would be generous assessment; after a day rubbery is pretty much spot on. But if mid-morning you need a big snack, you can eat several of these (providing they hold together) and not feel guilty.

I’d make them again but maybe add a little water or yogurt to help hold the dough (if it could be classified as such) together. But maybe not because, well, you know. . . The Lazy Cook.

The Lazy Cook 2

Next, falling in with the sheet-pan cooking craze: Blueberry muffin blob from Food 52. Since I didn’t bake this when blueberries were in season, out came the humongous bag of frozen wild blueberries from Costco. And if you keep ingredients like this a smidge (spelled W-A-A-A-Y-Y) past the best-by date, you get the bonus frost that melts when mixed, giving that ‘unique’ (yes, that’s the word I’m looking for. . .) purplish haze to the batter.

I couldn’t even be bothered to get out the mixer and just mixed it all together by hand. Rise and fluff wasn’t the aim because, well, you know. . . The Lazy Cook.

The result: Color notwithstanding, actually quite tasty. I unnecessarily fretted a bit about over baking, so a few minutes longer would have crisped up the edges a bit more. And I’ll aim for a thicker, smaller blob. Mebbe get out the mixer for some added fluff factor.

I cut them in squarish pieces – like Chicago pizza the way it’s supposed to be cut, ahem! – and can stack two in a container for a portable snack.

I’d show after pics for these but, well, you know. . .The Lazy Blogger.

What’s next? Maybe a whole meal on a sheet pan – most likely a gooey mess. And granola in the slow cooker. Yes, that’s a thing and, like the sheet-pan muffins, why not?

*Yes, I see the apostrophe is wonked. I tried three ways to correct it. Obvs, unsuccessful. Left as is because, you know. . .The Lazy Editor

Dandelion Blivet – or – I Can Handle the Truth, I Just Don’t Like the Maths

dandelion blivet

A highly technical military term (wink, wink), as my father explained it to me, a blivet is ten pounds of crap in a five-pound bag.

This weekend produced a close-to-real-life example: I took that leetle beety plastic pot out front to hold all the dandelions I’d dig up. Surely there weren’t many so early in the spring. . .

To loosen the nasty weed’s grip on the good earth — the over-wintered ones had roots the diameter of small carrots and I’m not talking baby carrots — I used the Japanese all-purpose garden knife available exclusively, in the 1990’s, from Smith and Hawken. Now available fine big-box stores everywhere.

And pardon the Britishism, too much Masterpiece Theater, but the blivet wasn’t the maths that were getting to me. The truth is, by trading a large chunk of my time for money these days, only so much of anything gets done. This weekend, the dandelions. Not enough time to do a proper weeding. Other items on the weekend to-do list loom large and the hours vaporize quickly. A time blivet of sorts — how much to cram into a too-short timeframe.

The dandelions, however, don’t care one whit about my schedule. And I’m gonna need a bigger bucket.

Bag Ladies

purse-1

A couple of years ago I got the idea to thank my friends for being my friends by giving them something personal — beyond the cheer, kindness, and thoughtfulness (and occasional baked goods) that I make sure to bring to those relationships.

Because I like making things, bags came to mind. For each woman, I look for a fabric that reflects her personality. Forgive the immodesty, but on the whole I have pretty good taste and a rare gift-choosing ability, so trusting my judgement puts me on solid ground.

This is my latest bag. It went to a woman I met through work. She’s artsy. I’d like to be artsy. Although we have a lot in common, our friendship didn’t really solidify until we weren’t working together. The pattern is Glenda from Swoon. (The credit is included only if someone feels inclined to find out more; I have no personal link with the company.)  I do love the interwebs to find new and different things.

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Of course for this level of effort, passing friends and acquaintances won’t be receiving bags any time soon. But I still have a dozen good women on the top-line list. That will keep me busy this year.

No Need to Adjust Your Screen or What’s Old is New Again

living-room-2

We’ve been busy around here: The only way to indulge our good taste in design is to DIY so the living room is getting a fresh coat of paint and new flooring. For the last dozen years the walls were a pale blue and the inset areas next to the fireplace were a light-medium, warm brown. I’ve to a got a thing for accent colors whether the look is in or out. The carpet was the original bland neutral beigey tone, hence my instance on blue walls.

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Unsurprisingly, the carpet was showing its age; time to replace. And we had painted the walls white when we built the house. It was a trade: Back then, furnaces and air conditioners were not required to be very efficient, so to get the most efficient furnace and AC we were going to have to pay and pay dearly. Instead, we agreed to paint the interior of the house. Since we were both working more-than-full-time jobs in publishing, we opted for white everything and figured we’d add color later.

Uff da! That was a challenge, and not just in time and effort. Although the builder agreed to the deal he didn’t like it, and he made us pay in ‘accidentally’ messed up freshly painted walls. Oops, crashed into a newly painted wall (happened a dozen times or more). Oh so sorry — not! Then again, he wasn’t a careful builder (fortunately we stopped by the site every day), so perhaps he and his subs were just that clumsy.

Back to today, and back to white. The hubs likes the white, and I’m going for a look I call ‘Midwest Scandinavian.’ The new flooring is carpet tile (FLOR) in a pale blue — just enough color. (Pic to come.) The living room opens to the lately remodeled kitchen, and the rooms blend splendidly. All those years of editing home decorating books paid off nicely, if I do say so myself.

There’s a lot of disruption involved, however, and we’re both surprised at how much stuff has accumulated in the living room. I’ve made a concerted effort to edit; that, too, has made a big difference.

cat-help

So back to white walls and less stuff, somewhat as when we moved in, and looking good. One of our site supervisors agrees.

 

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Keeping It Fresh

lemon-juice

For several months I started each day downing a glass of tepid water with lemon and honey. Somewhere on the interwebs, no doubt several somewheres, this is touted as the fountain of youth, the elixer of good health, etc. Why not try? Well, the hubs lasted about two weeks. I stuck with it until I could no longer stand the delay it caused between feet hitting the floor and coffee.

The end came sometime after the purchase of more lemon juice. For many years, I’ve had it in my head that the hubs doesn’t like lemon very much. He’s asked several times not to use lemon in dishes so I add it to my serving only. Clearly no reason to keep fresh lemons in this house. So here I am trying to figure out how to use up a substantial amount of lemon juice. Hesitantly, I suggested lemon bars. Not a big personal favorite, but not something avoided. He was enthused. I was confused.

After putting a little thought to it, I realized he doesn’t like lemon in savory dishes but he does like lemony desserts. Whereas, I like lemon in savory dishes and respond meh to lemony desserts. He cooks meal regularly but I can’t recall him making a dessert aside from instant pudding; with detailed instructions, he can bake chocolate chip cookies using dough I’ve made.

So lemon bars it will be, no doubt repeatedly. Who knew?

 

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Ill Decor

Router

Sigh. I guess, maybe, perhaps this is better or at least the least offensive option.

For some reason, that I missed because I wasn’t paying attention when it was uttered, the hubs said the best place for the router is my studio/office.

First it sat on the cabinet, cords tucked behind it and its ugly-but-necessary e-cousins. When reception went wonky, heat was the suspected culprit. Then it sat perched on a stump of PVC pipe. Other e-issues, now determined to be unrelated to the router, hiked it to the wall, cords flowing in all their un-glory. The hubs thinks this works better. Tried to sell it to me as opening up space. What you see is all the space it ‘opened’ but protesting is futile. I’m trying to look at the end result as an art installation that speaks to our electronic age. After all, not like I’m going to give up the interwebs any time soon.

And while we’re talking about untastefulness, the Henri Bendel bag held candles purchased as gifts. I can’t bear that you might think otherwise.

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Fruits and Labors or I Paid WHAT for Apples or Soggy Bottom

Apple pie

Pie making is a skill I neither possess or wish to develop into a strength. Passable is my goal. It is, however, my neighbor’s unfailing strength. So we work to stay in good standing with her and hope fruit-and-crust goodness continues to regularly cross the property line.

As for consuming pie, it is a dessert category I enjoy occasionally. Whereas the hubs could eat apple pie every day, and that’s only a minor exaggeration. So when I say a small something about possibly, maybe, I might consider making an apple pie, the look in his eyes first of surprise, then of hope and longing means it’s best to follow through.

Apple whole

Also of note: I don’t like to reward Facebook’s generally crappy algorithms. So when I saw a suggested post about a unique variety of cooking apples being carried for a short time at a local small grocer, I was torn – to click or not to click. When I got there, as expected there was no mention of price. . . Obviously, I caved completely. Sucker.

But here in the Land of the Frugal, part of the point of scrimping is to allow the occasional indulgence. Hmmm. Let me indulge myself in spending more than $10 (yes! more than ten bucks!) on apples to spend an afternoon making pie. Oh joy, oh rapture! Oh sign me up for that! Ahem.

Apple cut

Pink Pearl delivered first on color. As promised, the color is lovely. And after I spent all. that. time. cutting and peeling, peeling and cutting, (tiny violin time)

Apple sliced

the bowl of fruit was pretty and inviting. As with cooking apples, the flavor and texture is OK in the fresh state.

But the proof is in the pie. And it is delicious, with one minor flaw. Since I don’t bake pie often, I underestimate the amount of liquid that cooks out of the fruit. Failing to address the issue ahead of baking leads to inadequate liquid retention in the filling resulting in, all together now, a soggy bottom. This shortcoming has not deterred continued consumption of the final product.

For the future, a memory test: Next year at this time will I recall the price of these apples before heading to the store? And will I recall and prepare for the cooking liquid issue? Because chances are slim that I will make another pie before then.

 

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The Annual Dust Up Delayed

Bookshelves4

Each May for the past 20 years, give or take,  the hubs’ fishing buddy arrives for two days of fishing and male bonding for them, and blissful peace and quiet for me.

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My home office/studio doubles as the guest room so there’s a major cleanup before said fishing buddy arrives.

Bookshelves2

This involves dusting the bookshelves that run along two walls. An annual cleanup is sufficient as there’s not much dust up there.

Bookshelves1

When a significant chance of rain moved the trip up by two days, less than a day was left for clean up. No, I do not work ahead on housekeeping.

Alas, the bookshelves did not get dusted. Oh darn. . .

The Cats’ Turn

Diana says post more about the pets. Since the dogs have had their days in the sun, time for the cats to shine. Or not. They’re cats. They really don’t care. And that is why I adore them so.

Their quirks, however, are undeniably charming. For example, here are the two older cats Citrus and Zebra (the ears on the left).

Citrus and Zebra 2

Zebra does not like to nap in contact with the other cats. Come to think of it, she doesn’t sleep in bodily contact with us either. But put her under a blanket and all species can crowd around.

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And if she can peek out, all the better. Something tells me this little cat would have done just fine in the wild.

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