Category Archives: Randomness

Culinary Adventure: Savory Leftovers Pancakes

These were born of “I have no idea what to cook for breakfast” and “leftovers are overrunning the fridge.”

I’m sorry to say I have no well-defined recipe to offer because I winged that mother.

I had cooked rice, so I tossed a few handfuls of rice in the bowl. Leftover pork chop, so I gave a large chop a rough mince (PLEASE don’t try this with a raw chop, it doesn’t cook long enough for that) and tossed it in. Then to probably 4 cups total ingredients I added about a cup of chickpea flour, three eggs, and a splat of margarine (that should be an official measure), maybe a quarter cup.

Garlic powder, onion powder, a teaspoon or so of coriander, a dash of salt (like many pan fried things, I figured it would be best to put most of the salt on the outside).

Final consistency should be stiff and stand up in a little pile in the spoon.

Into a lightly oiled pan in heaped tablespoons. Let them brown on the first side. Turn, then flatten.

When they’re nice and brown on both sides, smear a little butter on top and dig in.

I’m sure it will be fine with just about any solid leftovers whether meat or vegetables.

As you can see, my cooking process is a lot like my writing style: I just sort of wing things and they usually work out. Probably because I’ve had a lot of practice at both cooking and writing.

How do I know they were good? The kids ate them as fast as they eat hot dogs, and that’s fast.

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Snow Time To Panic

Snowpocalypse Raleigh NC

No, this isn’t Norfolk, Virginia where I live. This is Raleigh, North Carolina a relatively short drive south, a few years ago. But we react to snow about the same way around here. Our AT-ATs are a touch smaller, though.

So today (Wednesday the 3rd of this brave new world of 2018) I had a mental healthcare appointment to keep (no emergencies — in fact, I’ve been feeling better than I have for the past 3 or 4 years). I first set up these appointments when the family car was working, but because I am a prescient prophet capable of seeing that driving 20 year old cheap beater cars means we’ll be carless from time to time when one dies, I chose a practice in walking distance.

And of course it’s winter when the car chooses to die, the jerky little bastard. And of course the Earth’s hat of cold air has lately slipped rakishly to the side and we’re under all that fine polar air right now while the precious icecap continues melting in frickin January.

But the walk isn’t so bad because it’s over freezing unlike the walk I had to take for yesterday’s appointment, and the legacy of a Wisconsin childhood is knowing how to dress for cold. Only my cane hand gets truly cold, and maybe my nose.

My appointment was on one side of a rectangular route with one of the two grocery stores in walking distance on the other side of it on the way home, so instead of taking the shorter route back home I figured I’d stop by the store as long as I was already walking and pick up a few odds and ends like some apples and pears for the children who, I am very happy to report, can chow fresh fruit like champions and do at every opportunity. Yay, nutrition!

I wasn’t planning on picking up enough things to justify taking along the collapsible cart I recently bought thanks to my Patreon patrons, so I brought an empty backpack. All good. Planning ahead.

But what I did not plan on — and I should have known better given my past experience as a manager in the grocery biz — was the forecast of 8-12 inches of snow in the forecast for tonight (there’s a bit less than an inch on the ground as I type this, and the snow is beginning to come down again after taking a break for nightfall) and what it would mean for my mission.

In Norfolk, Virginia where close proximity to the ocean gentles the temperatures, this is a MASSIVE BLIZZARD WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE OH GOD.

The grocery store was clotted with swarms of half-crazed customers. Like, a no shopping carts available, I got one of the last 6 or 7 handbaskets swarm of shoppers — and at that point, not a single snowflake had fallen yet.

Ew, a handbasket. I don’t like using them anymore, because they unbalance me due to my limp and bone-on-bone hip, and I already limp heavily enough even with the cane thankyouverymuch.

I almost decided to say screw it and head home. But, the kids want apples. And the wife’s upset tummy craves full-sugar Coca Cola (which horrifies me; as my grandma’s good little boy I cleave to her teaching that 7-Up is the magic tonic that soothes all ills).

So I shop.

Weather panics are weird.

Some of it is predictable. Half the bread aisle is blown out, as it always is when bad weather threatens. Apparently there’s something about blizzards and hurricanes and nor’easters that makes people crave sandwiches and toast.

The bottled water is also half blown out. Because if anything is scarce during a blizzard, it’s water which is LAYING ALL OVER THE GROUND A FOOT THICK JUST SHOVEL A FEW DRINKS INTO A BUCKET AND BRING IT IN TO THAW FER CRISSAKE. Also, since when does a blizzard knock out the water supply? Your pipes shouldn’t be freezing, because you should be running your water if it’s that damn cold. And the snow will insulate the crawlspace under your home. It’ll actually be warmer under there than it has the last 3 or 4 nights with the cold snap.

And, this is the one that really gets me, and I’ve seen it before (and it’s weirder than anything else I’ve seen in a storm except the guy who bought a whole cart full of frozen dinners because he was afraid the hurricane would knock out his electricity, or the woman who bought two dozen (!!) gallons of milk, also in the teeth of an approaching hurricane. WTF!) — the meat case is also half blown out. The hamburger is GONE. And three customers are standing next to the empty hamburger shelf asking each other if there’s any more hamburger anywhere else and when will the butcher bring out more hamburger?

People, if the blizzard comes and knocks out your power, I assume some of you have gas stoves. But not all of you! Are you planning on crouching in your dark living room gnawing a pack of raw hamburger like Gollum gnawing a fish? Do you figure hamburger will cook itself up if you toss it into one of the snowdrifts in your front yard?

Is there something about a snowstorm that demands you start a cookout?

Is there some theory I’ve never heard of that says you can save yourself from freezing to death if your home is heatless by covering yourself with ground beef?

People are weird.

Bioasis

If you haven’t already seen it, the largest grasshopper I have seen in the city in many years is perched on the brown cattail in the foreground. On what the “let’s spite the liberals by pooping where we eat” crowd would call a ‘hippie-dippy waste of money,’ a patch of wetland the size of a small above-ground swimming pool nestled between parking lots of a local hospital along a rainwater drainage path.

Yep, it probably cost a few bucks to put it there and costs a few to maintain it.

Well, we’re creatures of nature and it does us good to see a little soft, verdant goodness among the hard, uncaring glass and stone and steel. Humans do not live by asphalt alone, nor should they.

I wish we had many more of those little biological oases in the city.

Eggplant Blossoms Are Beautiful 

Confession of a reading writer: it takes me forever to read a collection of short stories…

Short Circuit Johnny-5 speedreading.gif

From Short Circuit which you might remember if you’re KINDA OLLLLLD

…because the nature of short stories, for me, demands slow consumption (I wonder if that’s why I almost always write them slow, too. Putting them down halfway through for days or even longer before finishing them. Hmmmm).

I don’t mean short stories are automagically HALLELUJAH THE CLOUDS PART AND A RAY OF EPIPHANY TRANSFIXES MY SQUIRMING LITTLE BRAIN when I read them.

I mean, if they are decently written and the story is my cup of tea (I have diverse tastes in tea; I’m not very picky) and the story has something to say about something rather than just being a sequence of stuff happening just to have stuff happening — then it takes me forever to read a collection or anthology or ‘zine or whatever grouping they’re in.

It takes all that time because when I finish a short story, I have to put the book down and let the thoughts and feelings it inspires rattle around in my subconscious for a while. Sometimes I can read two in a row before I have to stop.

Otherwise the feelings and thoughts get all muddy, and I start feeling all bloated and sickly, kind of like if you sit down for dessert and cram a quarter of a double chocolate cream cake AND a big plate of tiramisu AND a gigantic plate of flan down your gullet all in the space of fifteen minutes.

I don’t know about you, but if I do that I end up all pukey and unhappy and regretful. I wish I’d just had one dessert and saved the others for later.

That’s how I read short stories, to avoid that pukey regret and savor the deliciousness. And to drag the metaphor out a little farther, if the dessert is a bunch of plain ol’ slabs of cheapo junkfood factory cake (uninspired little ‘look a thing is happening who cares’ stories), I could pig out and eat ten or something. Because who cares, it’s just meh. It’s not like you’re going to miss anything if you cram them down your throat with the heel of your hand one after another after another after another after another without really tasting them.

But why would I want to? Where the good (and great) stories have me stopping after one or two so I can digest and savor the memory, the meh ones have me stopping after one or two because WHO CARES OH MY GOD I’M BORED.

I hear there are people who can read through a whole collection, even a long one filled with STELLAR stories, in one sitting. Just chow down a dozen profound and excellent short stories with tons to say one after another.

Y’all are weird. But, hey. It takes all kinds.

You weirdos. Seriously, you weird me out. Have I mentioned I find it weird?

Joker Ledger freak like me.gif

If you don’t recognize this I DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE ANYMORE WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON A WRITER GEEK’S BLOG

Got Chai?

 

If you don’t “got chai”, I have been playing with recipes and variations for a few months and have settled on a recipe that I really enjoy. Maybe you’ll enjoy it too — you might want to start with half quantities if you’re not used to highly spiced food and drink. This version makes my tongue tingle.

A couple of notes: “copious milk” means about half milk for my wife, and about 1/4 milk to 3/4 chai for me. Your mileage may vary.

I’m told my version is a “masala chai” – a lot of people like to add ginger, so you might want to grate or crush a bit of ginger, maybe a half inch or inch of root, or add dried ginger from powder or cut some off the dried root if you have it. Don’t roast fresh ginger, just put it in the tea ball with everything else. I’d add powdered ginger straight into the boiling water, or chunks of hard dried (not candied!) ginger in with the 2nd group of spices for roasting. If you haven’t roasted spices before, you just toss them in a dry pan over medium-high heat and give them a shake every fifteen or thirty seconds until they’re giving off a yummy aroma.

I usually love ginger, but it just wasn’t agreeing with me in chai.

If you haven’t made something like this before, it is normal for it to be a bit cloudy, if you refrigerate any it will get cloudier and clarify again when you heat it, and it is normal to have a sediment of spices and tea dust in the bottom of your cup so if you’re bothered by that let it sit for a minute after pouring and stirring, and sip rather than gulp.

Enjoy!

Humans Now, Basically

2016 NOV Norfolk - old gum tree and electrical station - Victor and Cuinn.jpg

Children (my 2 youngest, 3 and 5) in the shadow of a gnarled ancient of a gum tree, with an electrical substation lurking behind.

Kind of a metaphor for our world, isn’t it?

As a bonus, the yellow vest is a Batman vest and the brown jacket is a print of Chewbacca’s torso. Geek life FTW.

I’m Growing Moss.

Norfolk International  VA  23501  Forecast   Weather Underground.png

So, it has been relentlessly, ridiculously humid here (Norfolk, Virginia) for the last three weeks or so. Door frames are swollen, everything feels damp including me, I am super over it, UGH.

Now, I’m not going to complain TOO much because in the wake of Hurricane Matthew there has been much human suffering not so far to the south of me in Florida, and just HORRIFIC damage in Haiti. Here in Norfolk we’re just forecast to catch the edge of the weather as jerky ol’ Matt does a donut and heads back to rain on the Bahamas some more, hopefully much deflated.

But we’re supposed to get seven freakin’ inches of rain in the next two days.

Norfolk is a major flooding area. We’re the second largest US population center considered to be at high risk for damage due to sea level rise. A lot of that projected damage happens when weather conditions cause flooding. It’s gonna flood! Thankfully my family lives in one of the higher, away from major watercourses area of the city — but that’s only personal relative safety. My town will suffer.

We’re far better off than Haiti, but I’m not expecting tomorrow to be fun.

Elon Musk’s “Heart of Gold”

What a shame the real thing won’t be half as entertaining.

 

Musk shows some fitting sentiment with his idea to name his first Mars-bound settlement ship the Heart of Gold.

The literal meaning is nice. Our best intentions and loftiest goals, finally off to put some of humanity’s eggs in a basket other than Earth. Good show. The best intentions riff generally turns sour eventually, of course, but that’s simply the nature of time and change — someone gets the bright idea to try being meaner for a while, and everyone suffers until they get tired of suffering enough to demand some changes that may or may not help. It’s a fine sentiment, and probably best to start out with that rather than a bunch of cynicism.

The tribute to Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker’s Guide books is wonderful, as is the general tribute to the role of science fiction in keeping our eyes on the stars and our thoughts on getting somewhere rather than simply digging in deeper like ticks until another dinosaur killer comes around to wipe us out (assuming we don’t take the nuclear and/or germ warfare route). Damn shame Mr. Adams isn’t around to appreciate it. I wonder if he’d be tickled or annoyed or both.

Is it the best name for a spacecraft for a Mars expedition? Maaaaaaaayybe not. Unless we intend to drop a whale and a bowl of petunias on Olympus Mons.

Come to think of it, Olympus Mons would be a fine place to keep a small catalog of planets for sale, or perhaps make a decent summer home for a couple of mice.

Maybe Heart of Gold really is the right name.

The Luna Moth Has Landed

Me & my two little ones (3&5) came out to grill. This was waiting for us:

Just hanging out on the handrail of our front step. Very cool.

So Luna is minding her business and we’re minding ours. UNTIL…

Uh… you shouldn’t be there…

No, don’t go MORE toward my back, what are you thinking…

SERIOUSLY WTF NOT THE BEARD 

…but she relented and returned to my back. Awkwardly and with great care I managed to take off my shirt with her clinging to it and transfer her to a tall potted pine.

And I draped the shirt over her refuge so birds wouldn’t see her. This last shot is from behind the shirt — it’s not so see-through seen from the other side.

Luna is safe for now… but I’ll be watching my back.