Thursday, February 14, 2013

Brick Walls, Vintage Computers, and Cherry Flavored Birdseed

Just when everything looks like it's starting to get back on track and within sight, when things start going your way (or going again at all)... well, that's when a brick wall suddenly materializes right in your path. Kapow. A cheerful thought, I know.

Our computer died last week. D.E.A.D. Miraculously, I was able to get everything off the hard drive before it's last gasping breath. I had gotten quite lazy with backups... I'm cured of that now, let me tell you. By the way, when was the last time you backed up your hard drive, hmm? To paraphrase something I read recently:
The best time to back up your hard drive is an hour ago.
The second best time... is right now.
As if I didn't have enough hurdles in the way of getting back into a more regular blogging schedule, this latest one is fairly insurmountable. We just don't have the funds for a new (or even new-to-us) computer at the moment. And until we do, it's back to the Cuter Computer for us (the little old iMac that we bought when we were first married). I don't call it "The Trooper" for nothing. That little blueberry has now outlasted two bigger, newer, faster computers, and just keeps on truckin'... slowly and seriously limited in it's capabilities... but it boots up and it works. Dependably. Truckin' along. Though some might consider it, technologically speaking, the dark ages. All I can say is: C'est La Vie... this is our new normal... it is what it is... and all that rot.

Perhaps this break is a good thing? Giving up blogging and Pinterest for Lent would be suitably sacrificial in this day and age (though perhaps a more meaningful exercise had I chosen to give it up). Regardless of how, when, and why it happened, turning my back for a while on the spammers, scrapers, and other leeches who suck the joy out of blogging... might be nice at that. Unfortunately, I will also miss the people and things that put the joy into it as well.

During this downtime, I'll continue to Make it, Bake it, Buy it, and Fake it... in other words, I'll keep writing and photographing for future posts. But I also plan to...

  • Work diligently on my quilt project (the piecing is almost done! Yea!)
  • Catch up on a few books I've been wanting to read*
  • Clean out my refrigerator (it is way past due)
  • Try to find out why they put artificial cherry flavoring in the wild birdseed we buy (seriously!)
  • Get to the bottom of why it's easier to eat a larger portion of mashed potatoes than baked potatoes.
So stay well, keep busy (or not), have a lovely Valentine's Day, and if you happen to win the lottery or have a spare logic board laying around**... think of me!  :^)

*Starting with: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
**for an iMac G5 17" with iSight (never hurts to ask, right?)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sweet Potato & Cous Cous Breakfast Hash

Sweet Potato & Cous Cous Breakfast Hash
We all know by now how very healthy sweet potatoes are, right? Deeply orange all the way through... that's all good. It's nothin' but good. The problem is, we don't eat them all that often (in other words, I don't cook with them all that often). Well I knew that needed to change, so back in November we bought the BIG BAG of sweet potatoes at Costco. Since then we've been learning to love them for other reasons too. For instance, just how well they keep in the pantry...

We ate them in November. We ate them in December. We even took them with us on a long road trip to visit family... and baked some up out of town. We came back home with three left and none had any sign of being past it's prime. Folks, this is one tenacious tuber!

So, the other day I made the ultimate breakfast. The ultimate "everything-my-husband-hates" breakfast, actually. I just wasn't thinking. Or rather, I was thinking of how good the recipe sounded (to me), how it would use up stuff we already had on hand, and how nice it would be to make something different for breakfast. What I wasn't thinking about, was the Hub-ster. 

When I asked him how he liked it, he said, "Well considering it's got almost everything I don't like in it*... it's not bad." And here I was soooo proud of myself. Whoops! Well, what can I say? I liked it a lot and if you don't hate the stuff that's in it... you'll probably like it too!

Sweet Potato & Cous Cous Breakfast Hash
adapted from Quinoa Sweet Potato Hash at Grocery Shrink
Serves: 4

½ cup cous cous
3 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 onion, chopped
1½ cups bell peppers, sliced
1 cup water
¼ cup dried mushrooms
2 - 4 eggs
  1. Put the cous cous in a large dry pan. Turn to Medium heat and toast the cous cous for a couple of minutes, shaking the pan often. When the color deepens and it smells nutty...
  2. Add the bacon and fresh vegetables. Sauté for approximately 6 minutes.
  3. Add the water and the dried mushrooms. 
  4. Bring to a simmer, cover, and turn the burner down to Low. 
  5. After 15 minutes, check amount of water remaining. When it's all (or mostly) absorbed remove the lid.
  6. With a spoon or spatula, make spots for the eggs to cook in. One divot for each egg. (Depending on your pan, you may want to put a little fat in each divot to keep the eggs from sticking.)
  7. Crack an egg into each space that you made, cover the pan again, and cook for 3 minutes (or until eggs are cooked to your satisfaction).
  8. Dish up the eggs and hash, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Notes: Make sure the spots for the eggs to cook in are wide enough! The first time I made this, my divots were too small and it took forever for the eggs to cook completely (which means they got overcooked. If this happens, just chop up the eggs and mix them into the rest of the hash. It will still taste great!). 

I think I also just had too much in the pan (those Costco sweet potatoes are huge). If this happens, or if your pan isn't big enough, remove some of the hash before adding the eggs. It will keep really well in the fridge for another day (or you can transfer it to another pan if you're serving all of it). 

We had so much left over that what you see in the photo is the leftovers the following day. I put some fat in the pan, added the leftover hash and covered it. It only took a few minutes to reheat on Med/Low, then I made divots and cracked in new eggs. I think it actually tasted better the next day.
*For the record... he had absolutely no issues with the eggs or bacon. He has, over the years learned to appreciate mushrooms, onions and bell peppers for the flavor that they add to dishes, and will tolerate cous cous now and then (especially with rosemary and lemon). The sweet potatoes... we're working on them. Baby steps!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Rip It Out and Re-do It! (embracing the do-over)

Embracing The Do-Over at Make it Bake it Buy it Fake it
When I was a kid, and something wasn't going my way, I'd call out, "Do over!" The slate was immediately wiped clean and I would start again. Somewhere along the way to adulthood though, I forgot about the beauty of do-overs and began resenting anything I had to start over or do more than once. Perhaps as I grew older I became more aware of time passing... of the limited time we all have, and I didn't want to waste any of it doing the same thing twice? Maybe. 

Lately though, I've begun to re-consider the do-over, the second chance. How many times in life do we wish that we could go back and do something over, do it better, or at the very least, do it differently... say it differently. Should we just accept that we did the best that we could at the time and move on? That certainly sounds like the healthier option. And I think with most things, it is. After all, we can't go back in time, so the trick is to do the best we can right now.

But where is the point at which we look at something and say, "That's good enough" and can be truly happy with it... or think, "No, better re-do it", knowing it may forever nag at us if we don't? How do we know when to start over and when to just let go and move forward?

I've started making a new baby quilt and these are the thoughts that have been swimming around in my head as I progress with it. Is it any wonder that it takes me so long to finish one of these?! 

One of the blocks I'd made the other day kept bugging me. I walked away for a while. Something about it just bothered me. So I slept on it (not literally of course). And in the light of a new day.... it still sat there with a scowl. Or was that me? I rearranged the blocks. Rotated them this way and that. Looked at them from every angle. I'd spent a whole day trying to talk myself into accepting it as-is and yet I wasn't happy. 

No, there was nothing for it but to rip apart the offending block and do it over. I scowled some more, but as I finally sat down with a cup of tea and got to work with my seam ripper, something happened: I embraced the do-over for what it was, a second chance. Just the thought of getting rid of all that future angst I would no doubt have, if I left things as they were, started to lift my spirits. The tea probably helped also.

The do-over is simply part of the process. That's what popped into my head. The frustration? It went out the window. In the end, I had a better quilt block and hardly any setback at all. I will forever be able to identify the once offending block, but now it will be without any internal nagging or regret. Instead, it will be with an inward smile of satisfaction that I did do the best that I could at the time.  Because sometimes the best we can do... is to call a do-over.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Tempus... Fuhgedaboudit

Make it Bake it Buy it Fake it: The Time Is Now
Holy holly-berries, Batman! It's winter already?

Tempus Fugit! (whether you're blogging or not)... Time Flies.

I'm rather stunned that my last post was about tomatoes way back in October, and here we are wading in up to our knees in Winter. Sigh. Well, enough about that. I won't bore you with what transpired between then and now, frankly because there was no single dramatic absence-causing event at the root of it. There never is. And I guess that's probably a good thing when you come right down to it.

This break away from my blog, like most things in life, was more due to a snowballing series of little (sometimes good and sometimes bad) randomly occurring things all ganging up on me. You know, like how an avalanche starts.

Just another way of saying… Life Happens.

So, perhaps you are asking yourself, "Gee, will her next post be about daffodils in the spring? Or homemade bug spray for summer camp-outs?" The answer is, "No, it won't be that long of a wait." I won't make promises, but hey, at least (if you are a subscriber) you won't be annoyed by my posting too often, right? I don't know about you, but my inbox and my feed-reader overflow-eth with stuff to read and catch up on. It's a bit overwhelming. Time for some eClutter-clearing if you know what I mean. But maybe that can wait until next year.

O.K. Just what do you mean, it IS next year? When did THAT happen? Where have I been? Oh wait... we covered that already didn't we. Well then...

I want us all to have a Happy New Year

I don't do resolutions, but the beginning of a new year IS a good time to start something you've been putting off... something you've not had the time for... something that will nourish your soul, quench your creativity, or feed your mind. Most people have a few of those things on their back-burner. Pick one and start today. After all, there's no better time like the present... and there's no better present to yourself than the time to do something you've been putting off.

Cheers... to one and all!