trombonish: (sewing)
Filching the idea from Sporky, who made an end-of-the-world list. Mine is a combination end-of-world and oops-back-to-preindustrial-world. And then another friend recently posted about his "bucket list" of things to learn (SCA related). also, just took my Fair entries in, so have arts & crafts on the brain. Thus, an inventory of things I have learned and am proud of, am learning, or want to learn.

Acquired skills:
Sewing clothes: generally self-taught through experience/experimentation, but also have a few books that taught me some methods, and in the year and a half of sewing my wedding dress, took some specific classes in fitting, pattern drafting, seam finishing, corset making.

Fiber arts: getting pretty decent at spinning, both with my drop spindle and my wheel. basic (very basic) knowledge of knitting and crocheting. I learned card weaving this year, and entered my 2nd created belt/trim thing in the fair!!!

Preserving: have spent a lot of time on this! Water bath canning (salsa, fruit in syrup, jam/jelly, pickles, applesauce/pearsauce/plumsauce). LOTS of dehydrating. Seriously lots. Fruits and veggies, a couple hundred pounds a year (except last year, with the new baby. But the three years before that, yes. And already at probably 80-100 lbs this year and we're only at Peaches!

Cooking: again, a fair bit just by experience/experiment, but also took classes from my friend in Cajun cooking, pies, MANY cookies, candy making, soup making, cooking with long-storing food, pizzas, pastas/filled pastas, yom yom yom...
Oh! And cheeses/dairy products! Cheddar curds and pressed cheese, parmesan, gouda?, soft cheeses (ricotta, quark, feta, mozzarella), sour cream/creme fraise, butter, yogurt, ice cream... all definitely in class, no experimenting on my own here! Though I did design and build two of my own cheese presses that I am quite proud of.
Also, on the experience side of skills, practicing cooking very cheap, and for very many - did two years of cooking for Fandemonium staff, about 50 people for 4 days, for about $300. Cooking giant amounts is FUN, though a bit tedious when it is things on the griddle (SO MANY GRILLED CHEESES). And general cooking for our family and freezer cooking.

Acquiring skills:
Fletching (making arrows, plus making the feathers FOR the arrows).
Dying: have books, have wool. Need to experiment!
Carving/casting: have been to a couple casting guild meetings but never got far enough in a carving to actually pour. But now I finally have a PROJECT: going to carve some stone spindle whorls, and also some to cast in pewter.
Weaving: I have a basic loom from Lady Morgan! I have books and theory! Just need to DO IT.

Bucket list of skills:
Brining/pickling: I took a sauerkraut class, but have not acted upon it.
Pressure canning - got a nice 6 gallon pressure canner for a wedding present, but haven't used it as such, just for aforementioned Fandem mass cooking.

Fiber arts: working with flax, spinning off a distaff, spinning silk/bamboo (I have tried, they are just somewhat disagreeable)

Survival-ish skills:
Milking cow and goat
Keeping chickens
Tanning leather
trombonish: kitty cooking (cooking)
We're thinking of hosting thanksgiving this year, I'm trying to recall what all we usually eat at thanksgiving.

Things we usually eat at thanksgiving:
Turkey
Stuffing
Gravy
Mashed potatoes
Ham
Sweet potatoes
Green beans (possibly casserole)
Pumpkin pie
Grandma's Torte
Fruit salad

Needs more veggies... Maybe roasted carrots?


http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/broccoli-and-cheddar-casserole-with-leeks
trombonish: (TWINS!)
Sort of a rant. Sort of an intrigued.

There have been many (more eloquent than me) tirades on the nonsense of gendered baby clothes (TFV has a particularly good one), kid toys, etc. So not really going to reiterate those here. I think sensible people can agree it is nonsense to enforce gender expectations on a tiny human who has no concept of gender yet at all.

Just wanting to share some thoughts/experiences I've had on the subject lately.

Maybe I'm just insulated or something, but I only regularly encounter two baby questions from the general populace:
1. When are you due?
2. Have you found out what you're having?/ Are you having a boy or a girl?/When do you find out?

First one is easy to answer - Aug. 21st. Yes I'll be huge and hot all summer but that's ok. /smalltalk. Pretty standard script.
Second one als easy to answer. No, we're going to be surprised. I do get a variety of interesting responses from women (men all seem to have the same answer - "Oh. Ok.")

"How fun! I wish I'd kept it a surprise./My first we were surprised but not my second./ My husband wanted to know so we found out.", or some other story about their experience. Generally positive and nonjudgemental.
"Oh I'd go crazy not knowing!" These ones we all sort of agree to disagree, I say something along the lines of, "well, we're excited regardless" and it gets the point across just fine.

However, leave it to Judy to keep pushing the point, and inventing a new response
"How would you know what to BUY?"

I was slightly floored. I stammered something like, "things with puppies on them!"

But really -
Diapers come in white.
Cribs come in wood.
The pack-n-play is brown, with animals on it.
Strollers come in any color you'd like, and my opposition to the pink or yellow ones at babydepot were really that I don't like pink nor yellow that much, when blue or green or purple are options.
Yes, some clothes say "little boy" or "little girl" on them, but certainly not all.

To be honest, I haven't yet faced "having" to buy gendered anything!

Baby gear (the big stuff) is most often generic, as it may be used for several kids.
Diapers are the only thing that might actually depend on sex (as they actually involve genitals), but don't seem to actually distinguish.

Clothes are probably the closest to "tricky". The new clothes stores often seem insistent on a pink vs blue aisle. But I don't shop at new clothes stores (they are scary. And unnecessarily expensive!). And I've had tons of success at thrift stores (my standard shopping locale). Yesterday I walked in to one I haven't been to in a while, and started flipping through baby clothes. I had a dozen adorable outfits with no genderedness in about 5 minutes (and then I stopped, despite having only made it through a rack and a half). I paid $9.23 for them and went home.

It might get more difficult as baby gets bigger - I haven't much gotten out of the teeny tiny 0-3 month catagory. And maybe it helps that I am thrilled to put a girl in a tiny blue romper with a spaceship on it. Or a boy in little blue bloomers and gown (did you know we've only stopped putting under-3 set boys into dresses in about the last 90 years?).

I'm more baffled at the notion that baby's sex matters than in finding awesome things to buy.
trombonish: kitty cooking (cooking)
Freezer Cooking Day:
~4 gal gumbo simmering - translated to 5 - 10 cup containers for the freezer, another 8 cups in the fridge for us
-1 holiday ham reduced to components:
-- 3 lbs chopped,in the gumbo
-- 2 lbs cut down to steaks, freezing
-- 1.25 lbs chopped, bagged (2 bags) for future use, freezing
-- ham bone and scraps, freezing for future stock making (not today!)
-1 - 22 lb turkey is roasting, tomorrow will be chopped for bags of diced turkey, and bones/bits made into stock
-4 cake pan sized spaghetti lasagnas made and freezing, plus 4 meals of leftover spaghetti

Tomorrow will be chopping turkey, making pizzas, reorganizing the freezer so everything fits/sits right.
trombonish: (TWINS!)
This weekend I finished scrubbing the walls in the ex-kitten room (to be baby room). Several weeks ago we took out the kitten gear and linens, and pulled up the tarping we had over the carpet. Tarping (semi-miraculously) prevented any noticable carpet damage. Only noticable damage is by the door where the tarping didn't quite cover, and kittenoids clawed the carpet. But considering the room housed (often less than box trained) kittens for a year, almost 2, I am pleased at the status of the carpet.

The walls were a different matter.

Let's just say, kittens have a certain "splash radius". Particularly goobery kittens, and in the corners where catboxes were at various times. There was grubby pawprints and unmentionable goobers to about 3 ft up the wall around the whole room.

It took some elbow grease, but it's all cleaned now. For the record, google will autocomplete "how to get cat snot off the wall". This was rather reassuring that we're not the only ones with this issue.

So the room is clean, except for the randomness dragged back in there by me (tomato starts) and our cats (random fabric bits). That, and facing the fact that I am feeling Increasingly Pregnant, and we're finally starting to look at baby things.

This is a process that will take a while. I have buying-things issues. Particularly new things. Though I know it needs to be done and I will face/deal with the doing of it.

We braved our first baby store on Saturday. Except it ended up being less baby store and more "baby/mommy boutique". It was a little traumatizing ($200 maternity jeans, anyone?)

I've researched a number of additional stores to brave in future weekends. We are not yet in "buying mode", more of aclimatizing the pregnant lady to baby stores. Wonderful Woggyhusband is patient and understanding of my buying-things trauma.

So... any recommendations for stores? Indispensible baby items? Items to avoid. I will soak up advice like a sponge!
trombonish: kitty cooking (pusheen)
I am REALLY proud of how this Japanese curry came out! I have been craving curry like the yummy yummy brown "bean curd" curry I got in Hiroshima last spring (not that it was fancy curry, it was a little localish food place with a short order cook. but it was GOOD). So last night I read a whole bunch of recipes and set out to recreate it and it went REALLY WELL, even though I did not use the prepackaged boxed "chocolate bar" style roux blocks. I even bought a tofu brick to put bean curd in it!

Changes for next time: I should have used less potatoes, and left them in bigger chunks, they got pretty mealy by the end of the cooking time (also perhaps should have not used russets, but that's what we had). Should have ensured my chicken broth was thawed before starting. And I think next time I'll use regular firm tofu instead of extra firm.

How I made it, with commentary about where I would change things:

Curry Roux:
1/3 cup fat (I used vegetable oil, but butter or shortening or lard or whatever would work just as well)
About 1/4 cup flour
2 T garam masala
1 T curry powder

I think garam masala can be bought pre-packaged? I used this recipe, and am storing in an empty cumin bottle:
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Except I didn't have cardamom. And my coriander did not come pre-ground, so I was trying to grind it with my mortar and pestle and it only sort of worked (it was not so fine as might be desired). But this spice mix (in my opinion, anyways) contributes a lot to this curry being brown and hot/sweetinsh instead of yellow and TURMERIC flavored like my Indian curries always turn out. Also my Indian curries used more peppers in the base. And yogurt. ANYWAYS.

I did this in a big enough pot that I was able to add all the later ingredients to. I used my giant stir-fry pot but it would work just as well in a 1 gal spaghetti pot or something. You could get away with less large if you add less vegetables. There's also instructions out there for making the roux in one pot and the other things in a different pot. Do as you wish.

Making the roux:
Heat the fat to all liquid and thin like. Add the flour, stir til smooth. Keep stirring. Stir for a LONG TIME, until smells bready and is "fox colored" (I like the analogy, from one of the recipes I was using). I didn't quite stir constantly, I would stir, chop an onion, stir, start rice, stir, etc etc etc. But stir enough that it doesn't burn and keeps the color pretty even.

Once it is fox colored, stir in the garam masala and curry powder, and cook until "fragrant". This is when Woggy calls in from the living room "something smells like nom in there!". You can either cool and package the roux for later (supposedly, store tightly closed in the fridge for a week or frozen for a month, but I haven't tried it), or carry on with cooking the curry.

You should start the rice around now too (whatever kind you like) so it's ready when the curry is.

Curry ingredients:
1 qt chicken broth/stock
potatoes (5 medium russets was Too Many, maybe 3 next time?), chopped up into bigish pieces
carrots (3 big carrots was about right), chopped up (I cut them into disks on the diagonal)
onions (2 smallish), cut up
2 t salt (or less, if you'd like)
Other veggies (short cook), if you have on hand. I used:
mushrooms (8 oz, sliced or diced)
snap peas (I only had about 4 oz, would have been yummy with more)
bell peppers (also about 4 oz)
Some sort of protein, already cooked (I used a 12 oz package of tofu, diced up. half a pound of diced cooked chicken would have been good too. if it needs cooked you can add it at the front instead of at the end)

Add the onions to the roux, and stir to combine (you could add the meat bits here, first, instead of the onions, if it needed cooking. Cook, and then add the onions). Cook about 5 minutes. I overcooked the onions as I was waiting for my stock to thaw - I don't recommend this. Add the potatoes, carrots, and stock. Bring to a simmer, and simmer until the potatoes/carrots are tender and the broth is thick and brown and yummy (about 20 minutes). Stir occasionally, because it will thicken first on the bottom and if you don't stir, the bottom thickness will burn and the top will still be watery. If the broth is not thickening as much as you'd like, sprinkle in a few teaspoons of cornstarch and stir in while simmering. Add salt to taste.

Once it is thick and carrots/potatoes are cooked, stir in the short cook veggies (the ones that if you cook to long they go mushy and limp) - for me, the peas, peppers, and mushrooms. Also whatever (thawed) cooked protein you want (I did diced tofu). Bring back to a simmer so everything is heated through, but don't cook them to mush.

Serve over rice! Yum!
trombonish: kitty cooking (cooking)
I LIVED. I am SO glad it is over. It was kinda fun, in a way. But so much stress. So much standing in the kitchen. So much griddles.

Sunday morning started about 8am cooking grilled cheese sandwiches. Friday I had made grilled cheese but only 83ish and people made sad noises about not getting enough food. So I stood there and made ALL the grilled cheese I had materials for. But it was only about 90. So around 10ish I headed off to the grocery store, picked up more ingredients, and in theory what I needed for dinner too. Came home, made another 40ish grilled cheese. Delivered to the con around noon, with (more) leftover gumbo.

So, 130 grilled cheese in 3.5ish hrs of standing at the stove. On my 4-sandwich stovetop griddle, and my REALLY SLOW electric griddle. I guess I just don't have electric griddle skillz. I would do 2-3 rounds on the stovetop griddle in the time it took to do 1 on the electric, and the electric ones never browned evenly - you could basically see where the heating element was under the griddle pan. And even at the medium-highish temp of 325, the cheese wouldn't melt by the time the grilling was done, so I was reluctant to turn it up higher.

Post-delivery, I thought, "well, I have LOTS of hours to make dinner tonight, dead dog won't be any earlier than midnight, for sure. But I should nap beforehand so I'm not totally impossible (I am not a night person at all). Let's make dinner, then nap"

So that was about noon/noon-thirty, by the time I ate lunch.

I commenced converting the remaining 6 loaves of bread (and 4 of them were giant, costco loaves) into french toast around 1. Finished around 6. Five hours standing at the griddle. then started in on the scrambled eggs, and made a batch of home-fries (baked/fried potato chunks, VERY tasty). Around 7ish I had to go fetch the lunch stuff out of the hotel, because cleanup/packing was starting. (Amusing aside - people associate my appearance with food. So I showed up to take away food, and people went, "Ooo! more food!". I had to tell them, no, just taking food away this time. Have to come to dead dog for more food, after pack-out.) Made ANOTHER trip to the store on the way home. Came home, cooked more scrambled eggs, home-fries, started in on the meats around 10. On the griddle. Finished just before midnight. Dinner took ELEVEN HOURS to cook, and hands-on hours at that.

I ~did~ get a bit of a nap in between midnight and taking food over to the community center around 1. Thank goodness for that.

And then, I think people were being bratty about traveling over to the community center for dead dog, because there was only like 25 or 30ish people. Paul said they were being hopeless at loading the truck too. I guess this happens every year. Only last year, the useless people at least sat around and watched the functional people load the truck at the civic center. Since the con was at the hotel proper this year, the useless people just went to bed and the hard worker people loaded.

So people showed up around 3, people ate, but left lots of leftovers. I gave up and packed out around 5am, but the talking was still going strong.

So now I am done with cooking for con, but still with an enormous amount of food in my house. I froze 8 qts of curry yesterday. On the second grocery trip, bought 6 big ziplock freezer containers (9.5 cups, it says on the side), and filled 5 of them with gumbo. It is in the fridge because I haven't yet attempted to freezer tetris it into the deep freeze. I was bewildered and unhappy with all the leftover breakfast-type foods, but then I brainstormed to convert the leftover sausage/eggs/potatoes into breakfast burritos. Made 6 with our tortillas on hand, need to go buy more tortillas. French toast was made into a stack of pb&j for Paul to take to the truck-unloading party, but that got delayed til 7 tonight. And that was still only like half the french toasts. Some of the ones that didn't get pb&j'd are in ok shape just torn up, others were on the outside edge and kinda got overcooked by being right up against the walls of the turkey roaster.

I didn't do nearly as much baking as I'd hoped over the course of con, so we still have 3 gal of milk and many quarts of yogurt. Did use pretty much all the eggs though. And bananas! I had no idea how many bananas to buy. I think I ended up with 40-50. The folks at dead dog did a very good job on them, ate at least half. But Paul and I need to eat bananas like crazy the next two days. And then I'll freeze whatever is left.

The good news is one of my most FAVORITE breakfast foods is mashed banana with plain yogurt. I am positive someone must have fed it to me in my impressionable years, but my mom swears it wasn't her. Now I can have LOTS of mashed banana with plain yogurt! So not so worried about the yogurt getting eaten.

Basically, we have food for the next couple weeks. But, to me, the leftovers and not having to cook are some of my reward for doing all this work. because it was a TON of work, even if the people who actually "worked" con don't see it. I don't think I "worked" con any less than someone who was actually at con. I did nothing for 3 days besides cook and sleep. And I know they like to be machoist about not sleeping at con, but sleeping is a VERY HIGH PRIORITY for me, whether at con or at home. So I did sleep, even if I did nothing but sleep and cook.
trombonish: kitty cooking (pusheen)
Today had several near-meltdowns. Woggy gave me a food-inventory this morning, and of the 6-gal pot and turkey cooker full of gumbo, fandem folks had eaten about half the 6 gal pot and none of the turkey cooker. They did do a number on the rice. I was WOE that they did not like the food. But Paul pointed out that people must have been extra hungry on the night of Chili because they hadn't eaten all day, and then were less hungry last night.

So I brought over 2 gal more rice (WITH a rice spoon), and took home the 6-gal pot half full of gumbo. They had to work on the turkey roaster full of gumbo for lunch. Upon moving the gumbo to crockpots/other pots, I discovered the gumbo ladle dropped in the bottom of the gumbo. So now they had a rice spoon but no gumbo spoon! Arrgg!

Dinner was the 6-gal pot full of experimental curry. I only made homemade curry once, so I was kind of nervous about this one. It would NOT thicken. I used up all the rice flour and cornstarch in the house. Also, thought I had enough curry spice, but it still didn't taste very curry-ish. So woe-ed about the house for a bit, then drove over to the co-op, bought curry spice and some sort of magical thickening powder. Magical thickening powder was unimpressive at first, but I cooked up another 2 gal of rice to top off the rice cooker at Fandem, and by then the gumbo was VERY thick. So that was better.

Hauled it over to the hotel, successful negotiations with the loading dock, packed up the gumbo turkey cooker, still about half full *sigh*. They're gonna have to face Gumbo: Return of the Gumbo for lunch tomorrow. That, and grilled cheese.

After packing up the gumbo cooker, I found a good place to park in the Sekrit Parking Lot right next to the hotel, that had MANY open spots, even though I saw people walking in from further parking lots. Then Woggy showed me about the con, because he's off duty til 10. Had a few almost-panic moments in the press of people, but it was ok. I get very nervous around so many people. Woggy bought me pretty things in the dealer room though! Fimo-clay magnets of a companion cube, nyan cat, some sort of star fruit, and a little statuette of one of the ponies. I don't know the ponies but she was PRETTY and has a rainbow tail and mane. Rainbow-brite?

Then I got some Paul time and we snuggled and talked and it was SO NICE to have a little time with him without con demanding time and energy and spoons. Tonight I feel better than I have in MANY days.

Tomorrow should be comparatively easy. Make a gazillion grilled cheese, bring over with Revenge of the Gumbo. Then resting/napping, and then cook pancakes, french toast, scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon? (would need to buy these). And should bring some species of fruit, there's no fruit/veggies in this meal! And figure out what Kira wants to eat. She can't have french toast OR pancakes.

Friday food

Aug. 1st, 2014 05:51 pm
trombonish: kitty cooking (pusheen)
Filled both my roasting pans with grilled cheese sammiches this morning, but mathing afterward and I guess it was only about 85 sandwiches. Took them over to Con around 11, plus the remaining 2 gal of chilli, and 5 batches of banana bread. Found they had eaten ALL the chili I had dropped off the night before, and most all of the potatoes.

Made ALL THE GUMBO to hope they have enough food. Used up the onions and celery that were supposed to go in the curry tomorrow, so I need to buy and cut up more.

Took over 1 turkey cooker of rice, 1 turkey cooker and my 6 gal pot full of gumbo. Hopefully that will tide them over! They had eaten all the sammiches, but only a little of the banana bread, and just some of the 2nd batch of chilli (not too surprising, I didn't get it all that hot).

Forgot to pick up the potato toppings AGAIN. I really need to fetch those. The sour cream is supposed to end up in the curry, and I could use the butter for more grilled cheese sandwiches. Also forgot to bring the rice spoon, it was sitting on the counter when I came home. Suppose I could go back over there tonight, but I really don't want to. I REALLY do not like the parking shenanigans downtown, thus why I have spent a grand total of about an hour at the con, across 3 food dropoffs.

Someone keeps putting my food in the closet of the staff room. Probably due to trying to "hide" it from the hotel staff. I'm fine when it's empty pots and pans, but I suspect no one will eat the banana bread when it is hiding in there.

I told people there would be food available 24/3 but so far not so much, they keep finishing it! I am glad that it is being eaten up, but last year they ate only like half of what I made. And this year I did promise food available 24/3 and am failing at it, because they keep running out.

1/3 days of con done. How is there still a whole weekend to go??? 2 more days plus dead-dog dinner. How am I going to keep UP with their eating???
trombonish: kitty cooking (kitty)
Delivered 5 gallons of chili in my baby-cooking pot and 25 lbs of potatoes in a turkey roaster, to the con with minimal trauma.

Ok, some trauma. I could NOT find the hypothetical "loading dock". But I did get a really good parking spot. Though I paid $5 for it, and was only in it for an hour (it's good til 3am though)

Tonight need to bake breakfasty foods, and take them over in the morning, I suppose. Then need to make about 140 grilled cheese sammiches (estimated). Those will go over in the other turkey roaster around lunch. Any remaining chilli will be poured into the turkey roaster that is currently holding potatoes, to warm. (I think. Unless there is little enough to fit in my crockpot, so I can take the turkey roaster home?) Any remaining potatoes will come home to go in curry.

Should tomorrow's dinner be curry or gumbo? I am leaning toward gumbo - curry takes a long time, and I am less experienced at it, and tomorrow morning's going to be pretty much consumed by sandwiches. But gumbo means two tomato-based dishes in a row. Oh well, I guess they will live.
trombonish: (Subscription)
Con is imminent.
Woggy is staff at con, director of a department, King of all Ops. Or something like that. He has a lot of responsibilities and is facing many sleepless nights.

My woe seems very minor compared to that. I am just cooking! I like cooking! I cook, and then I deliver food. But I am still feeling Con Trauma.

I feel bad being anxious and woe at woggy. He has many things to do, compared to me! I feel like a wimp for being so scared.

But I am scared, I am scared of cons in general, and new places, and parking downtown, and breaking rules by bringing food, even though I was _requested_ to bring food.

Not requesting solutions to any of my issues. Just hoping that venting might help, in some way. Even if the person most likely to read is the same Woggy I am trying to avoid stressing out.
trombonish: (funned)
And I am very very glad to be home. But Woggy has the Blergh, and we both are "ahhhhh" Fandem is in a week. And I need to try and be a functional person for work tomorrow, and I've hauled home even more Stuff after we'd talked about trying to have less stuff, even though it is USEFUL stuff, with a little bit of special stuff.

And I am tired so gonna lay down for a while and try to deal with the Stuff later.
trombonish: (funned)
I miss my Woggy.
My mom and I have massively exceded our tollerance of each other.
My aging phone is working on new and interesting quirks while I am away and wanting to use it all the time. We're planning to get new ones when I get back, maybe, but maybe not if none have keyboards.
Yesterday I used up all my spoons so hard I yelled at my mom and threw things. In front of all the aunts and uncles (who were also there using up spoons but it was still good to see them)
Then I had scheduled dinner with my old roommate but I was so tired, but went anyway. It was fun, but even more social. I massively dipped into my limited spoon reserve.
Have no spare spoons today. Already fed up with my mom and hiding in my room.
Leaving to fetch sister soonish. Then piles more relatives arriving tomorrow, then all day with memorial service/burial/family dinner on Saturday. Where I just know my mom will be freaking out and driving me crazy even more.

I wanna be home. I really wanted to be here, but now I want to be home.

*woe*
trombonish: (Default)
Just one thing for the record - the mysterious "call boxes" in the toilet stalls at work, previously identified? They are noise-makers, like the automatic running water noise cover in the hotel toilet. Except not automatic, you have to push the button and it plays a very scratchy loud recording of running water/white noise.

Not related to toilets, but the other experience to share today was playing tea roulette in the canteen at work. There are 3 tea dispensers in the cafeteria, right after you pay for your lunch. Each of them has 3 pairs of pink and blue buttons set at varing heights, and some extra buttons besides, all helpfully labled in Japanese. First button I tried yielded lukewarm water. Second button yielded alarmingly bright yellow tea. Sat down to lunch discovered it was chilled yellow tea. I vaguely guess jasimine, which I can barely tollerate hot. Decided to try again, though sad about wasting a cup of tea, but I couldn't drink it. Third attempt yielded a hot, very green tea. It, at least, was drinkable.

tired

Apr. 15th, 2014 07:30 pm
trombonish: (Default)
Tuesday is the day of epic sobbing breakdown of tiredness, as soon as I was safely back in my hotel room.

*rolls*

Apr. 14th, 2014 09:58 pm
trombonish: (Default)
Further observations on Hiroshima:

For some reason, some peoplee wear paper masks around and about. There were a rather lot in the Narita airport, and on the Narita to Hiroshima flight. I just attributed it to slightly tinfoil people being paranoid about public places. But people wore them to work too, and this is considered totally acceptable.

Shoes provided the crisis of the day. Apologies in advance, I am probably being culturaly insensitive, but sharing this as a day of being an Other. We arived at the plant, were NOT met by our hosts. Immediately inside the plant is rows of tiny lockers, and everyone is busily taking off their shoes and putting on other slip-on canvas shoes. There is a row of lockers for guests to put their shoes, but instead of availible canvas shoes, there is a small stack of pleather slippers: just a toe and a sole, and all of them massively too small for the menfolk in our party. So they gamely yet dantily pick their way over to the elevator, and go up to "R&D" at the top. It opens into a large, lovely lobby... with stairs up to the offices. Watching 7 grown men attempt to climb stairs in slippers was HILLARIOUS. It is the same challenge I have always had with backless shoes falling off, but they had ZERO practice, and kept dropping their shoes. Eventually we were able to secure canvas shoes for work.

Another observation about Japan, is they have excedingly complex toilets. I'm not even talking about the differences between the sitting toilets and the squatting toilets (haven't tried the later yet, but work provides both). The very simple toilets at work are basically standard flush, though there appears to be a call box posted in each stall... "press here for assistance"? The ones at the airport were slightly more complex, had a couple of dials on the side, and the flush knob hidden round the back. The one in my room has a whole LOT of buttons and dials on the side, apparently color coded boy/girl with not descriptive enough descriptions, and a few more besides, and as soon as you start to pee, a motion sensor starts running water into it, I guess so you don't have to hear it? There's a lot of motion sensors in Japan. I might be brave enough to try the buttons and levers later in the privancy of my own room where no one has to listen to me be surprised by attack water.

Tonight, though, we were taken by our hosts to a WAY over the top fancy dinner with 6 cougras, 9 glasses, and 35 pieces of silverware, french as interpreted by Japan. I might discuss the dinner later (suffice to say I have now tried foie gras), but this toilet had lights, and a butt warmer, and in addition to the rapidly becoming familiar array of dials and buttons on the side of the seat, an additional control panel on the wall with more features. I must admit to trying none of them, though between the fumbling through a very formal dinner and wiping my bum like a barbarian rather than submit to this toilet spa, I left the place feeling quite uncultured indeed.

And yes, I remember the lessons from our Japanese class - it is a show of hospitality, and also a bit of an obligation to be taken to such an outrageously over-the-top restaurant.
trombonish: (Default)
I did not know they drove on the left side of the road in Japan

It is as disorienting as expected to be completely unable to communicate. Though there was an interesting experience in the airport - I was refilling my water bottle in the airport, and BOTH people who used the other water fountain in the meantime were being baffled at how to turn it on - looked like they expected motion sensors instead of the usualy hit the button to make water go. I demonstrated without being able to say anything. Lots of pointing.

For all that I expected Tokyo to be a massive throng of people, the Narita airport didn't feel much bigger than Boise's. I guess it's further from Tokyo than I thought?

Another of the most disorienting things was going through Security Theater in Japan. We had to leave the "secure" area to do passports control/customs, then back through a tiny security checkpoint to the domestic flights area, that looked and felt like a bus station! And then acted like it - we jammed a little bus full of people, and drove out out to the tarmac to put them on the plane. Anyhow, all us americans are like, "can we bring drinks? Do we take off our shoes? And we all tried to give the security man who was checking tickets our passports, but he didn't want to see ID, just our tickets. Also, it was EXTREMELY well staffed - only two lines, but maybe 15 people working them.

Hiroshima is MUCH bigger than expected. Or maybe I should say more crowded. Buildings all cheek to cheek. And seeing it for the first time through a rainstorm probably didn't help experiences. It looks... I'm not sure, but no way am I walking around on the streets by myself at night. Scary.

Brains and circadian rythems are weird. After barely any sleep in 24 hrs of traveling, + 15 hrs time difference, I was SO exhausted. Expected to fall into bed at 9 and sleep straight through til my alarm. Instead, Brain poked me away at 1am saying, "get up lazybones! You never sleep this late" Been dozing off and on since then. It's dark, I'm tired... why won't my brain sleep???
trombonish: kitty cooking (pusheen)
Beans are a pretty common ingredient in our house, and not just because I got a 50 lb bag of them from the farmstand. Rather, I did that because I think we'll eat them this year! We eat chilli, we eat red beans and rice (except, er, pinto beans and rice... I am not distinguished enough to tell a flavor difference between red and pinto). 16 bean soup. Standard taco meat is about 50/50 beef and beans.

So I am Enthused about a new beans and rice recipe. This one is from the bloglady I enjoy so much, over at good cheap eats. It is indeed good, and cheap.

Taco Beans and Rice

1 lb beans
1 lb rice

seasoning:
ground cumin
salt
pepper
garlic, or garlic salt, if you'd like

toppings:
whatever you'd like on a taco. we had salsa, sour cream, and cheese. Oh, and taco shells left over from Fandamonium, crunched into chips.

Night before:
pick over beans, throwing out any that are rocks. rinse, and put in crock pot. fill with water so there is about 2" water covering. Do not turn on the crock pot.

Morning of:
Pour out beany looking water. Rinse and pour out that water too. Fill crock again to cover beans with about 1" of water. Set on low and go to work.

Evening:
Season bean pot with about 1 Tbs cumin, salt, pepper, and garlic to taste. It should taste taco-y. Cook rice. Serve with stuff.

So it's basically a taco in a bowl. It is still remarkably tasty use of beans to me! You could use canned beans and it would be much easier, but I've always found canned beans to be more acidic and, hmmm, musical, than soaked beans.
trombonish: (sewing)
Last night we had our first of hopefully regular "low tech" night. It was VERY different.

Idea for "low tech night" came from our last power outage (we get a lot of those), and also a post by bloglady about *her* family having a power outage and having a good time playing board games by candlelight. The basic premise is, learn to do things/entertain ourselves WITHOUT tech.

In theory to be really well prepared for no electricity, we would go completely non-electric. But a couple problems with that.

Firstly, what we did:
We read books. I sewed on my treadle machine (which was being bratty), and a bit on my electric machine (treadle does NOT like hat bands). We ate reheated pizza. Woggy had some meditating time and some trumpet practicing.

We did not turn on the computers or the TV (except headed to bed, I checked my phone email, which was blinking at me. I got a Disapproving face from Paul). We did use electric lighting, but did small, task lighting instead of room lighting. We each had one desk lamp we could move around with us to different tasks. The lack of room lighting was HARD. We did use the microwave to warm up dinner, on the theory it was more efficient than the stove. Next time I think we'll use the stove/oven, even if it's less efficient, as it is more like what we'd use in a no-electricity situation.

The lighting intent was to emulate and practice what it would be like in a no-power situation, without actually using battery or keroscene lamps and whatnot. Electricity is a MUCH cheaper electric source. Also, we intend this to be the first of a number of these nights. We can advance as we get better at it.

Eventual goals are to figure out non-electric lighting (without CO poisioning ourself or burning down the house), cooking (same limits), and more entertainment.

This first time was Strange. Not immediately enjoyable, but good to do (like exercise). It was very weirdly quiet. I see why people back-when had working songs, and I think I would like to learn some. Sewing by the dim light made my eyes hurt and gave me a headache, so I might limit that in the future. My treadle machine decided to be TOTALLY BRATTY and desperately neeed an oiling on the one night I can't really see what's going on. And having the rest of the house Dark was a little bit scarry.

But we did it!
trombonish: kitty cooking (pusheen)
I am vigorously reading one of my favorite blogs, Good Cheap Eats (link when I get home). She has MANY good ideas about eating good, for cheap (hence the name).

Things she promotes that I am getting into: Freezer cooking (yay!), stocking up (buying things in bulk when they are cheap, and not buying them when they are expensive. yay!), and, Eating Down The Pantry (hmmm).

Freezer cooking: I love this! The premise is so simple: it is less than twice the work to double a recipe. When you cook, cook a big batch! Then freeze the extra so there is some night(s) you don't have to cook at all! This works especially well with a big freezer. And with buying things in bulk.

Stocking up. I have two catagories, one of which is what she means and one of which is mine. Hers, which I am starting on, is when you have nonperishable grocery staples, that you know you will use, and when they go on Really Good Sale, you buy a lot. For instance, last week cereal was on sale for $1.25/lb. My "must buy below" price is $2.00/lb (ie, I avoid buying cereal at all if it's oover $2:00/lb.) $1.25/lb was a "buy the max the coupon will let you" price. So now we have cereal for a month.

Catagory 2 is my Local Buying thing. When I want to eat local tomatoes/applesauce/other produce, you HAVE to stock up. Because local tomatoes are a limited time offer type thing. So those I bought a year's worth (200 lb) at a very low price in September ($0.40/lb). Now I have a years worth dried tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes. Also applies to things like buying half a cow (and taking an age to eat it up).

Eating down the pantry: Well this would be the next logical step. We have lots of food. We must resort to increasingly complicated freezer tetris to get the door to close (plus set a heavy toolbox on top). But it is actually pretty hard! Once I get in the habit of freezer cooking it is hard to not. I don't really know *how* to cook for 2. And we don't actually eat that much.

For instance, we needed to make freezer space for the work turkey and ham. I found a bag of prepped personal pizza crusts. "Aha!", thought I. "I can make these into pizza and remove a bulky thing from the freezer!". But then I thought, "If I'm going to cook pizzas, let's cook LOTS of pizzas! Let's cook another batch of crusts, and make lots of pizzas!" 32 pizzas later, I am once again stumped by a full freezer. And several weeks worth of pizza.

So I guess this post is to say, freezer cooking is awesome. Stocking up is awesome. And eating down the stored food is awesome, but I need to figure how to do so without making it multiply. It may involve me banning myself from the kitchen - even though I have a bunch of meals planned! Like tonight's gallon of chicken noodle soup with biscuits. *sigh*

On the other hand, it's a nice problem to have.