Wanna Get a Belly Fulla Beer

Ok I’m not talking about Saturday night, I’m talking about Friday Night Madness.

Generally, Husband is off on Fridays, and he orders pizza with Flower Child while I go out with Fatigue.  For this month, Husband is working on Fridays.  Oh NO!!  I need my hour and a half of Friday Night Madness.  It’s like a get out of jail free card, only it’s bitch and moan to my heart’s content, or just sit peacefully with my beer while Fatigue moans.  Plus all my favorite waitresses work on Friday evening.  Blargh.

The other day, on Facebook, I was in a discussion with a group of friends about soups.  Try not to be jealous of my glamorous New York lifestyle.  One friend mentioned onion soup made with a dark beer base, and it’s been on my mind ever since.

So, I called Fatigue and asked him if he’d like to come here instead of meeting at the bar.  Flower Child was very happy.  So happy she was *gasp* willing to not have pizza for dinner.  On a Friday.  This may not sound like much to you, Fringelings, but in our world that is huge.  She adores Fatigue and hasn’t seen him in quite a while.  Thumbs up.  Bought beer, bought onions, Comte, baguette, all good to go.

The weather cooperated when the day started out.  Windy, sideways rain, perfect soup for dinner day!  I worked on Astonishing, added about a thousand words.  This took three times as long as it should have because of the damned noise.  They’re STILL working on that building across the street.  It’s been over a year.  To redo the front and the first floor, where the retail spaces are.  I could have built an entire apartment building, complete with plumbing, out of Legos by now.  By the time I finished writing for the day and had Flower Child back home from school, the rain was gone, the wind was gone,  the sky was perfectly clear, and it was 70 degrees outside.  Of course.  Well forget it,   I had the makings for soup, soup is what I was making.

Except I was looking at that beer and decided I’d rather drink it than put it in the soup.  White wine base it is!  Shoot, then I should put in a dollop of brandy for depth.  (Mrs Fringe, Flower Child, and Fatigue are all vegetarians, so I use vegetable stock, not beef.  Poor, poor flesh eating Husband.)  I didn’t have any brandy.  Or cognac.  What the hell, I added a splash of Cabernet.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A good time was had by all, Flower Child showed Fatigue all of her more recent sketches. A lovely Friday Night Madness indeed.

Happy Saturday, Fringelings!

Riveting, A Literary V-8

Edward_Lear_A_Book_of_Nonsense 115.jpg

Edward_Lear_A_Book_of_Nonsense 115.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As mentioned often, I haven’t had a day off in years.  Some days contain more suckage than others.  Today, not starting off so well.  I got up and decided to make blueberry muffins for breakfast.  Flower Child choked on a piece of kale during dinner last night, freaked out, not much was eaten, therefore I wanted to be sure she would really eat this morning.  No one else was up yet, I was able to make the batter and get them in the oven.  Another often touched on point here in Fringeland, I have a teeny, tiny kitchen.  Rules out cooking or baking anything that involves needing a lot of space, and involves regular accidents, because I’ve got about 8 inches of counter space to work with.  Got the muffins in the oven without incident, washed what I used for prep, ignored the pot and dishes still in the sink from last night.  Time to get those muffins out of the oven.  First tray, balanced on top of the stove.  Second tray, on the lilliputian amount of space on the dining room table that isn’t used as Husband’s office (read, overflowing with papers, pens, and crap).  I now want to slide the rack back inside the oven, which of course, resulted in the first (full) tray flipping off of the stove and half of the muffins flying out and decorating the kitchen.  Sigh.

Historical Oven cooking depicted in a painting...

Historical Oven cooking depicted in a painting by Jean-François Millet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Flower Child is now up, curled on one end of the couch under a blanket, and waiting anxiously for the muffins not covered in dog hair and drool to cool off.  I sit on the couch with my laptop and my coffee.  After a little bit, I tell her she can take a muffin.  She throws her blanket off, and my coffee spills onto the couch, the floor, my phone, and my book.  Fuuuuuck!  For the record, she’s been standing in front of the muffins for twenty minutes now, waiting for me to tell her which muffin to take, afraid to move at all despite the fact that I told her six times to just pick one.  I don’t want to look at them anymore.  Husband woke up, looked in the kitchen, and asked if I made scrambled muffins for breakfast.

So, what to do when you need to escape life and you can’t actually have a day off? Read, and try to pretend your couch doesn’t reek of cafe con leche.  I was thinking about books and reading this morning, anyway.

What makes a novel great?  And I mean fantastic, enduring, cross genre and cross generational.  The type of book that you either can’t put down, or have to put down every so often so the perfect line of prose you just read and reread can be examined, dissected and allowed to swim through the synapses of your brain until it’s coming out of your pores like the morning after a night of drinking cheap vodka.

I think it’s when the story is so clear but so flexible you not only want to be the main character, or in that world, you can apply it to yourself in your world, your life.  Open for interpretation, if you will, allowing for projection.  Kind of weird, because many of my favorite novels involve stories and lives I wouldn’t really want, they’re tragic.  But I can feel them.  And you, opening the book with a different viewpoint, different life experiences, different locale, different socio-economic background, can see yourself in that main character, in that story, and feel them too.

I don’t want to say ambiguous, because that has negative connotations, and too often makes readers think of torturous works of literature assigned by pompous and musty professors.  You know the ones, they smell like my couch.  Personally, I’m ok with ambiguous, especially ambiguous endings, but many aren’t.  They want to know there is a happy ever after for Joe Smith, or maybe they want to see Mrs Fringe get her comeuppance.  Maybe the story, the character, needs to be pliable.  Something that has it’s own form, shape, and limits, but can be stretched through a reader’s brain to mold to individual interpretations.

I’m going to make more coffee and give Flower Child a muffin.  Tell me what you think.

English: Constellation of Literature pavilion ...

English: Constellation of Literature pavilion in the Temple of Literature, Hanoi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ahh, Nothing Like Blustery Autumn Day

In May.

A pair of well-used flip-flops.

A pair of well-used flip-flops. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is what I should be wearing.   Instead, I’m wearing a turtleneck and winter coat.  For the love of God, I’ve got socks on!  Socks!

I hate socks.  Don’t put them on until the last possible day in the fall, and put them all away the moment my toes don’t actually get stiff in the spring.  Yes, I’m whining.  And yes, I know it isn’t just NY, it seems like much of the country is experiencing unusually cold temperatures right now.

Last year Flower Child and I spent one of the days of Memorial Day weekend on the beach.  I’m sure, over the course of the weekend, I cooked things that were seasonal.  Tofu dogs, cole slaw, burgers, whatever.

At least it’s still a three day weekend.  And today Husband was going to work later, which meant I could sleep in.  (I try to walk the dogs at least once while he’s home so Flower Child doesn’t have to get dressed and come out with me in the mornings of her days off.) Except I didn’t get to sleep in.  Something went wrong with the plumbing yesterday; dirty, disgusting water backed up into our tub.  So instead of snoring, I was downstairs harassing the handyman at eight AM, to make sure he didn’t “forget” to come up and fix it.  Again.  In my coat, because it was 44 degrees this morning.

I’m making soup for dinner today. Kale and cannellini bean soup.  So wrong for the calendar, I didn’t have soup stuff in the cabinet, and had to go food shopping first thing this morning.

1) Saute your base in olive oil.  I used garlic, red onion, carrots, celery, fresh ground salt and pepper, thyme and oregano.

2)Add canned peeled tomatoes, smush them in pot, cook about 20 minutes.

3)Add water and or broth (I used about half and half), kale, beans, and a hunk of Parmesan rind. Bring to boil, then lower down and cook about half an hour. *I prefer escarole, but the store didn’t have it today and I didn’t want to go to another store.

4) Immersion blender into pot, blend part (but not all, and don’t blend the Parm rind) of soup, I did a rough, quick few runs with it, leaving it mostly chunky, just adding texture.

5) Add torn stale Italian bread.  Or baguette, whatever you’ve got, cook at least another 40 minutes over low heat.

SAD Sunday Blues

I have a very specific distaste for Sundays.  Something about them has always stressed me out, it’s the day I’m most likely to feel depressed (especially during the winter), regardless of what days I was working, what’s planned for the week, etc.  It doesn’t help at all that the temperature outside is dropping again, with the wind blowing garbage on and off my terrace.  This is my official Sunday song:

Oh Aretha, her voice makes my heart weep.  Very unfortunate that my rendition makes everyone else’s ears weep.

Not a terrible day today, as Sundays go.  If I ignore the fact that it’s been a full week since I had a reasonable and uninterrupted night’s sleep.  I got a positive critique for the short story I worked on last week.  Man Child helped me do the shopping before he leaves for school this evening.  And yes, now he’s totally back to school, not popping in and out during his internship. The week’s gumbo is made for the dogs, Flower Child and I have at least four days worth of clean underwear, and it’s a four day weekend for FC.

I did some writing this morning, not enough, but some, back to the WIP.   Whenever I have to close the file, stopping earlier than I want to, I always swear I’m going to write again later in the afternoon or evening, but it just doesn’t happen.  Lose my focus, lose my energy.

So what do you do on your blah days, when you can’t just go back to bed, but also can’t be productive in the way you’d like?

Flower Child is feeling a little better, able to eat a bit again, so I made cookies.  Now someone tell me how to avoid going into the kitchen until tomorrow, so I don’t have to see the pot from the gumbo and the bowls from making the cookies.

Here, have a snickerdoodle, it will help you think.

I'm pretty sure enough cinnamon will cure anything, including the Sunday blues.

I’m pretty sure enough cinnamon will cure anything, including the Sunday blues.

Mrs Fringe Remembers

empty platter

empty platter (Photo credit: Julep67)

a time when holidays and the work that went with them were fun.  I can’t pinpoint when it stopped, but it has.  I cook. I used to cook more frequently, more elaborately, and for more people than I do now.  I used to love to cook, challenge myself with new ingredients and recipes, but now, not so much. I still enjoy it sometimes, still like to try new recipes, but the holidays?  Every year I try to cut back a dish or two and the prep involved, but the old gray mare ain’t what she used to be. The dicing, sauteing, braising and sifting that used to give me a thrill is now just work. The hunt for the perfect ingredients necessitating hitting six grocery stores isn’t the treasure hunt it once was.

I could blame the kids and Husband, “I spoiled them.” It’s true, they’re used to good food, they’re used to fresh ingredients and most everything cooked from scratch. But the truth is their finicky palates aren’t a mystery, I’m the same way. If it’s my holiday too, which it is, and if I’m doing the work, which I am, then I want to enjoy the meal(s). I couldn’t possibly cook any fewer items than I’m planning for the dinners if I don’t want anyone to be hungry.

Christmas Eve Dinner: Baked Ziti (making the sauce right now), Horseradish Crusted Roast Beef, Spinach, Pear, and Parmesan Salad, Pumpkin Torte for dessert.

Christmas Brunch: Vanilla Maple French Toast, Cheesy Baked Grits, Asst breakfast meats, fake and real.

Christmas Dinner: Ham, Cauliflower roasted with Olives, Capers, and Pignolis, Some kind of mashed potatoes, not sure which kind, and a Rice Pudding Pear Tart.

It took until late this morning for me to decide what I’m going to cook this year. Man Child went with me to one grocery store, Nerd Child went with me to another, and I sent Man Child without me to the third. Unfortunately, he just texted to tell me they have no hams, spiral sliced or not.  Yes, it’s true! I stopped making the fresh ham from scratch a few years ago, and buy the ones that are precooked, just need to be heated. Wrestling with that big leg… the soaking, the skinning, the crying, I gave up.

I used to make dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies, at least 7 different types each year, in the week leading up to Christmas.

Molasses comic

Molasses comic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They were math, language arts, history, and science lessons for the kids. They were an art, a pleasure, an excellent gift for people when you want to gift something personal and/or inexpensive. I stopped doing that when we moved into this apartment, the kitchen is impossibly small. This didn’t include the 2 or 3 cakes and/or pies I would make. Two years ago, Man Child asked for my cookie recipes so he could make them with his friends at his boarding school.  Sure.  It was actually a surprise for me, he came home with the cookies, having used the kitchen of one of his teachers. Absolutely one of the top 5 gifts I’ve ever received. –Speaking of fabulous gifts, one of my friends sent me a great paring knife!  A completely unexpected pleasure–both the knife and realizing he reads Mrs Fringe.

Who does the cooking for your holiday celebrations? Are you a fellow lunatic who won’t eat bottled salad dressing?

We spend Christmas Day at home now, I prep brunch the night before, after the stuff from Christmas Eve dinner is cleaned up, in between wrapping gifts and searching for the tripod to set up the video camera. It makes for a nice Christmas morning, I wake up and make coffee, shove the casserole dishes in the oven, and brunch cooks while we have fun opening presents, taking bad pictures, and knocking over the tripod.

So, what gives? I still love the idea of Christmas, the magic reflected on Flower Child’s face when she comes into the living room, watching the kids open their gifts, seeing the pleasure on Husband’s face as he watches them, seeing the excitement on their faces when he and I unwrap our own presents, the silliness of eating chocolate at 7 in the morning. Brunch is an open invitation and informal, I always make a lot so we usually have at least a couple of friends or relatives stop by, feels good.

Maybe I’m just a cranky old lady, and need to start making reservations for dinner on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Dennys-Restaurant 12

Dennys-Restaurant 12 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)