Archive for the ‘dubious’ Category



   Posted by: Livia

Maybe the reason I am starving all the time is because I haven’t eaten anything all day.


Health and Food

   Posted by: Livia

So I pushed the recovery on the injured knee and let myself get worn out. And when I am tired, my immune system crashes. So I have a cold.

I’m having the weirdest relationship with food right now. It just doesn’t taste like much, or I have to put a lot of work into tasting it.

And the stuff I am making at home, mostly seems to make me actively uninterested.

Part of it is that I’m worried without a reliable sense of smell that just cooking is becoming a high risk activity – especially as food sits around longer when I’m not interested in eating it.

But even when I make something safe (like a whole tube of Pillsbury cinnamon buns because I’d just finished reading Sunshine by Robin McKinley and was craving cinnamon rolls as big as my head like you would not believe), it still hardly registers as having eaten food – I just feel vaguely starving and uninterested in eating.

I am going out to eat more because I can trust that food to be food.

And I am craving fancier food because then not only do I know the food is good, but the atmosphere is also soothing.

And yet right after I eat, it still feels as though I haven’t. And I don’t know if that because I’m still hungry because it was over 24 hours since the last time I ate or just that I’m not registering my innards correctly.

So I’m pretty much trying to make sure I keep track of time, but that’s never been the easiest thing for me to do, either.

I just want to be back on kilter.



   Posted by: Livia Tags:

I have to quit deciding I am really hungry right *after* the half price food window at the restaurant I like.

Especially since I decided that the lunch/dinner I thawed for today isn’t worth eating. The green papaya curry that was charmingly crunchy is just this sodden chewy stuff after freezing and reheating. Also, the perfect saffron basmati rice broke into tiny bits not unlike couscous. And I do not like couscous.

Read books
Element of Fire by Martha Wells

I really liked this book, but I spent the entire time I was reading it wishing it were Science Fiction instead of Fantasy. See, one of the things I like most about some of this author’s other writing is that she writes science fiction that is believably otherworldly where I am neither pointing the the earth culture some author blatantly ripped off nor am I wincing at the implausible technobabble. Her stuff is the closest to good hard sci fi that I have read in a while. So I went into this book looking for that itch to be scratched, and I got fantasy.

Still, there’s wonderful political intrigue, and an amazingly understated and limiting system of magic that feels wonderfully plausible. Every single character has dimensions and motivations and regrets. I ended up wanting to spend a good deal more time in this world.

The Wizard Hunters by Martha Wells

Luckily, I already had another book set in the same world as Element of Fire. Only this one – is set in the future of the other book – possibly a steampunk future. So there’s that rich texture of fantasy, but the magic has faded a bit in the way of technology and there are whizzing gadgets and whamframits and legacies of wizards and the ways different cultures have been shaped by developing in a world with magic. It’s almost an anthropological study, but it’s also swashbuckling and quirkiness. There are so many elements in this world, but they are all clearly defined and interesting and I need to go buy the next two books in the trilogy right away.

Watched movies

There were times when I was grinning uncontrollably, thinking, “Awwww… Neil Gaiman, your message is showing.” Geek boy makes good! People love you, even if you’re different! Overconfidence will do you in every time. N’awww!

But aside from that, totally aside from Neil Gaiman’s input, this was an awesome movie. The visuals were stunning! The acting was wonderful – there was just the right balance of scenery chewing and subtlety. And I have never seen costuming and special effects work together so well before – with the way they did the witch’s magic, her incredibly awkward dress totally worked because it matched the smokey magic effect and made it looks like she was trailing off into vapours at the edges – and both were enhanced by the other. I loved that the pretty pretty princess looked like a real person, and beautiful. I loved that one of the essential parts of becoming a hero was acquiring Keanu Reeve’s hair – I had never understood before. Robert De Niro was great, but I really wanted to squish his first mate’s cheeks – who was he? OH! – well, this movie really suited him.

Kiss of the Spider Woman

This movie has been available for me to watch ever since it was released and we had a copy on Beta. Finally got around to it.

First off. I hate William Hurt. Far too many times, I have gone into a movie really excited that it will have John Hurt in it, only to be tricked into having to watch William Hurt, instead. Not a fair substitution, I tell you! I think he managed to single-handedly ruin the last third of History of Violence, which would have been one of my favorite movies, if only they had cast someone other than William Hurt. I don’t like his voice, his mannerisms, the way he manages to be smugly modest, and he has stupid hair. Or I might just be projecting that all because I am bitter that he isn’t John Hurt.

And the movie starts off with William Hurt’s voice talking painfully slowly he’s really savouring his own nasal tone, and I almost turned it off right there. But my mother has been trying to get me to watch this movie for years, so I kept going.

I sure was glad that my closest neighbors have moved because I was a bit embarrassed at times to have, “Faggot,” shouted out through my windows so frequently – not a polite movie.

But it was a good movie. I liked how the characters developed and didn’t compromise. I liked how the story was built up in layers that seemed superficial but weren’t.

I have an urge to rewrite bits of it. On the other hand, I like that I have to fight the text at that point.

Baked… badly
Saga of the whole wheat banana peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

It all started with overripe bananas. And I was going to make banana bread, but I always make banana bread. So I looked through my cookbooks for something new to bake with bananas.

I have checked out from the library a cookbook for Clueless Bakers, and it had a recipe for whole wheat banana peanut butter cookies. What could go wrong?

So I started off following the recipe exactly, and the recipe said that throwing in chocolate chips would cause nothing but good things, so I did that.

The result? Lumpy, grainy, yucky cookies of blech!

I thought back to the best peanut butter cookies I have ever had, and they had been made from a fairly thin batter with melted chocolate drops on top. So I went to the store to buy Hershey’s Kisses, and I set out to thin the batter.

I looked in my fridge and decided that the small cup of vanilla yogurt would be the perfect choice, after all I was planning to put yogurt (plain) in the banana bread, if I made it, and a bit of vanilla would do wonders for the taste. I also decided that a teaspoon of powdered ginger would also do wonders for the taste, so I added that.

The batter was thin and spread out just the way I wanted, but it didn’t get crispy at all. The outside was cooked, but the inside was still mushy – and they were thin now!

Apparently, yogurt was the wrong choice. When I called my mother to whine about my cookies, she said that I should have used an egg but that a dairy product would trap too much moisture.

The Hershey’s Kisses were also not as charming as the chocolate drops made special for the other recipe because they didn’t melt – the just got a bit droopy around the edges but maintained their shape perfectly even after baking. Creepy. Possibly, I should have been tipped off by the paper tags under the foil that said, “Oops,” and, “I hate Mondays!”

At least the dough was tasty. If it weren’t for cultural indoctrination against salmonella, I’d prefer to eat most cookies as dough.

Nevermind, I packed up the entire lot of them and left them in the staff room for people to try.

I’m good at savoury food, but for some reason I am bizarrely incompetent at baked goods.

ETA: The free cookies at work were not tempting enough at all – at the end of the day, I ended up throwing out half of them.


Soup follow up + meatballs

   Posted by: Livia Tags:

Yesterday, I had soup issues.

It was far too hot last night to try to deal, so I got leftover pasta & meatballs from the deli counter – and somehow my local grocery store managed to almost exactly reproduce the flavor of Chef Boyardee.

Anyway, the weather broke overnight (now the high is only 90, and not nearly as humid), so I did some tinkering. Orzo was a brilliant suggestion, unfortunately I didn’t have any and my brain had already substituted Arborio rice for orzo, so rice went in instead of rice-shaped pasta.

I also added some ketchup and a dash of cayenne because ketchup is just like tomato paste, except with sugar and vinegar, and those sounds like things that might perk up the flavor, too.

I’ll be testing that hypothesis tonight.

So now I just have the following perishables in my fridge:
1/8 of a head of cabbage
1 zucchini
and some stock.

I reboiled the stock, so it’s good for another week in the fridge.

I’m thinking that carrots, zucchini, and cabbage would make a pretty nice thai stir fry with Prik Khing paste. And then I think I’d put that over noodles instead of rice because I have a box of noodles I want to finish up.

Meanwhile, I bought a package of ground turkey because it was less than $2/lb (my requirement for buying meat). So I seasoned it with the last of my roasted garlic, some worcestershire sauce, ground thyme, ground nutmeg, and ground white pepper. I debated putting some crushed mustard seed in because Penzey’s has that listed as an ingredient in their Bratwurst seasoning I’ve been meaning to try – but I chickened out of putting it in.

So, took that and made up hamburger patties, wrapped them in waxed paper, and put them in the freezer in freezer bags.

After I had filled two bags (10 patties), I added some bread crumbs and a little more than half of a scrambled egg, and made meatballs. The finished meatballs almost all fit into a little pint container. I was forced to eat the stragglers. *MMmmmm*


Oh noes – Wimpy Soup!

   Posted by: Livia

I made a Soupe au Pistou this weekend to be my dinner-that-would-only-require-a-microwave-since-it-is-icky-hot-here for the entire week.

Only it it weak. Limpid. A bit lacking in flavor and body.

And I suspect it’s because the recipe I was working from required tomato paste, and I left it out because 1) I had none, and 2) there are many pistou recipes that don’t call for tomato paste.

That’s not something you can add after the fact, is it?

What else can I do to give my soup some character?

Suggestions from comments: cook the tomato paste in some bacon grease and add it, throw in some orzo, a dollop of sriracha, Pasta, some herbs, cornstarch


BLITEOW – Brains

   Posted by: Livia

Just making more food lists.

Yesterday I had salad.

Today, though, I am feeling a bit sluggish and it’s hard to get the motivation to cook anything.

What I really want is brains. Jellied, chilled brains. Maybe with some cayenne pepper.

So if any of you have some good summertime recipes that don’t require too much cooking time. Hmmm… brains soup…


ETA: My mother actually came up with a recipe from her childhood –

First you soak the brains in milk.

Then you soak the brains in ice water. After an hour, remove any stringy/membrane-y bits

Beat together about 5 eggs.

Dice the brains and mix them in with the eggs.

Scramble in a large frying pan.

Serve with toast.

ETAA: Majorcan Brains
Indonesian Brains
Nibbly brains appetizer
Spicy Chinese brains
Brains & Sweetbreads
French brains & black olives
Marinata di Cervello alla Villeroy – OMG, so rich!
Another recipe for Brains & Eggs – from a congressman! (also canned brains, but you can get fresh – they are on sale today)
Toscano Brains
Moroccan brains
Brains with Teacup Hollandaise
Not brains
Chiles Rellenos con Cerebros



   Posted by: Livia Tags:

I picked out a wonderfully promising pineapple that smelled just right and the leaves at the top were just the right kind of loose (like it was ripe rather than like fifty people before me had been tugging at those leaves, too).

Only it wasn’t sweet, and now I am sad.

So instead of just gorging myself on plain fruit, I’ll put it with meat, I suppose.

Does anyone have a favorite pineapple salsa or chutney recipe?


In other news, the first ripe tomato will be ready to pick by tomorrow.


Comments included: Pineapple tomato salsa; rubbing them with Jamaican jerk paste and grilling them on skewers

**Just so you’re warned – in this entry, I talk about my family’s insanity. I don’t think it comes off as funny and wry as discussions of one’s family’s insanities really should. You might want to just scroll on by.**

So my sister is visiting for Memorial Day weekend, and that means a decent bit of weirdness caused by the family trying not to be weird – such things are very stressful.

So part of the way my mother knows to express her competence at being a human being (and I’ll admit to doing it too) is by providing food. This isn’t even so much hospitality as a desperate contest to be able to fit in with society. We’re good with cooking, but we’re a little bit clueless on the normal society bits – most of it gleaned through reading Miss Manners and textbooks on grammar. No, really.

So anyway, there was a trip to the supermarket wherein my mother selected the most expensive beef cuts available, despite me going up and whispering that she could get some expensive ones (for my sister, her husband, my father (since he has dental work that appreciated more tender cuts of meat), and possibly even herself) but I would be very happy with a cheaper cut. Reason why #1: now that I live on my own, I make a point of never paying more than $2/lb for meat and would rather go without meat (not a hardship) than pay more money; reason why #2: I have simple tastes and appreciate what is there, and I can get just as much enjoyment out of a tougher and less perfect steak; and reason why I had the balls to mention it to my mother: she hadn’t bought it yet – I don’t believe in complaining once things are a done deal, but if I can fix something before it happens, it seems unfortunate not to mention it. Anyway, my mother did not listen to me, and she bought obscenely (in my land, at least) expensive meat.

And then after my father cooked these lovely steaks to perfection on the grill, there was disaster in which one of the steaks fell to the floor. Not the indoor floor, which had been cleaned recently. No – the garage floor. The garage floor that is very very gross – not in chemical ways, but just in the ways anywhere that is fairly outdoors but trapped in a mostly enclosed system can be.

So my father lets out a wail of disaster. My mother panics. And I see only one way to fix the problem: I grab it up quickly, rinse it (all the happy grill flavor rinsing down the drain), pat it dry with paper towels, and turn around. Ummmm… OMG! I am a bit horrified by this solution, but I am weighing in my head the likelihood of any bacteria/contaminants just being on the surface and being able to be washed away since there is no visible detritus. But also that I know there is much nastiness on the floor… so I offer to eat this particular steak, since I know I have a fairly robust immune system and digestive tract. Also, I am perfectly happy eating all the sides and avoiding the meat (especially since there are usually plenty of leftovers). But, no, apparently my steak is cooked a little less, and it would be too much of a bother to cook it another few minutes to get it to the stage where my parents can eat it – so they split the washed steak as planned.


So my parents ate the meat, and they seem fine.

But given that a) my father must have some meat to eat, and b) my mother doesn’t cope well with any amount of stress – what would a normal person do?

Some how throwing it out just didn’t seem like a viable option – but I think that’s the answer. Wouldn’t that have stressed other families out as well? Why was this weird action the easiest course of action?

And will my brother-in-law ever be willing to visit again?



   Posted by: Livia

This was a poll I posted about Celery –


of the devil. …in the bad way
8 (19.0%)

nastiest ingredient ever – and why do people insist on putting pieces too tiny to pick out into chicken salad and miscellaneous soups?
12 (28.6%)

kinda gross
5 (11.9%)

a suitable conveyance for condiments into my mouth (so I don’t have to scoop up the blue cheese dressing with a spoon when it comes with hot wings)
17 (40.5%)

Actually, I rather like celery. It is both delicious and healthy. (Shun! Shun! Shun the unbeliever!)
16 (38.1%)

I am from a land without this abomination. I know not of what you speak.
1 (2.4%)