In the time to boil water

The progeny are away with their father on vacation so even less cooking than usual is going on these days.  The fact that we are now well into a typically thick and hot summer in New England doesn’t help.

The cereal supply has been restocked so that’s always an option but even that’s not too terribly appealing these days.

Who wants to eat when the temperature, relative humidity and dew point are all the same?

Digging through the freezer the other night, hoping for inspiration, I found some frozen pasta I’d picked up cheap at a local market.  They often get close-outs and upcoming expiration dates from other stores and items are priced to move.  So I bought a couple of these packs of pasta and threw them into the freezer where they patiently waited.

If I’m going to bother to cook it’s not going to be something as simple as cook pasta, drench in sauce or butter, eat.

Nah, that would be too easy.

I caramelized some onions in a generous dollop of butter and then added in some prosciutto, also retrieved from the freezer, and cooked both until the onions were nice and brown and the prosciutto a bit on the crunchy side.  This would work well with bacon as well.  Just make sure you cook it first in a separate pan to keep things from getting greasy.

Threw a splash of cream with a bit of grated Romano cheese into the saute pan and then into the cooked pasta and dinner was served.  It’s not a full Alfredo sauce, those are for the depths of winter.  This was just the hint of one.

Dish up with a side salad or veg and some good crusty bread if there’s any on hand.  What could be faster or better?

Perfect for a hot summer night hiding in the air conditioning thinking of cold winter nights to come.

 

 

Short timer

My youngest has always loved all things small and fluffy, children included.

She barely remembers my last cat, Zoobie.  My only memory of the two of them is the youngest standing over the cat’s corpse where she’d gone to sleep on top of the heating vent and didn’t wake up and the youngest screaming in my ear as I’m kneeling next to my dearly departed friend, “Is she DEAD YET?!”  She was little so she can be forgiven.  She hated the cat as much as the cat hated her and only one of them was getting out alive.

Zoobie

When he and his came they also brought a cat, a sweetie who only wanted to love.  She was a good cat for the youngest but she wasn’t her cat, born and raised, and the cat left with those the youngest looked on as her second father and only brother.  They didn’t bother/have the opportunity to call and let us all say goodbye when it was finally time.

Stoogie

And then the bunny got sick.

Clementine

We were just coming up on the anniversary of two years of life with bun.

I’d never had a rabbit but the youngest wanted one for a couple of years, read up on them and was ready to take on the responsibility of an animal.  We got one from a shelter.  She was probably just under a year old when we got her and hadn’t been properly trained or socialized and with us being novice bun wranglers, it was slow going on making up for lost time.  But there was progress and she wasn’t especially difficult we were all just hoping for and working towards better behavior and socialization.

She was a much more interesting pet than I’d ever imagined she’d be.  I’d had a guinea pig for a short time as a kid and been expecting something like that.  Those memories weren’t especially fond ones either.

So we ended up with this nine pound rabbit living in the main public space of the house in a huge two level condo right next to the tv.

Life with bun was much, much different.

She had a personality.  She could recognize behavior patterns and act appropriately.  She knew when she’d been naughty and caught doing it and wanted the absolution and reassurance of a pet and a sorta snuggle after apologies were made.

For some reason she also inspired multiple nick names and even little jingles.  The eldest would wiggle Clementine’s ample bundonk and sing “super bun bun, super bun bun” to a funky beat.

She came with the name Clementine from the shelter but we hardly ever called her that.  I don’t think she even recognized it.

We called her Super Bun, Clem, Clemmy, little baby angel (that was also the eldest’s contribution) and then there were the times she was bad (like when she chewed through the electrical cord of the bestest heating pad in the world in literally a second) and she got called things that children shouldn’t hear.

I call this one fluff meets fluff.

She ruined the aforementioned heating pad, at least one iPhone cord and some cord for one of the game systems.  There was always hay to be found in the oddest of places all across the house and then there was the POOP.

Rabbits are eating and pooping machines.  It is literally what they live for.  Be prepared for this before getting one.

But we all loved her and I think in her own bunny way she loved us.  She certainly knew she was safe with us.  There’s nothing in the world like the trust of a prey animal feeling safe enough to fall asleep in your presence.

The first time Super Bun got sick and stopped eating was during the middle of a blizzard followed up with 2″ of rain that immediately froze.  They closed all the state roads and the city had a travel ban.  I couldn’t get out of my driveway because I just couldn’t shovel all that in one day and the damn bunny was inside the house dying while I’m making the attempt.  Managed to scrounge up safe passage to and from the vet er and 2 hours and $350 later I’m syringe feeding a thoroughly pissed off bunrito four times a day and antibiotics twice.

Fun times for all involved.

She recovered.  I’ve never been so happy to hear the almost incessant chewing of hay.  It becomes background noise that’s missed when it’s gone.

After he and his left I starting coming home to an empty house three nights a week.

It was nice to have the bunny to come home to.  She reacted to my presence because me coming home from work meant dinner and freedom to roam outside the condo.

It was nice to be welcomed.

Then she got sick again.

Back to the vet er because this time it’s a Sunday on Memorial Day weekend and they’re the only ones with dedicated exotic vets anyway.  So another $280 and back to antibiotics and syringe feeding.

I loathe the smell of Critical Care as much as she seemed to hate the taste.  She never did like bananas and I never managed to get the other flavor.  It was on the list, just hadn’t had that critical balance of available funds and having enough left over to get to the wants  after the needs had been fully taken care of.

Right now I’m seriously struggling with the latter let alone the former.

She didn’t get better so back she went to the vet and after many phone calls and tears the decision was made to end her life.

Economic euthanasia is a horrible thing.

Yes I recognize that it’s only a pet.  My grandmother would have been horrified if she’d lived to see one of her grandchildren with dinner in a cage in the house like a member of the family.  I know the horrible things that are happening in the world because of lack of imaginary bits of wealth that you can purchase peace and prosperity with.

Pain comes in many flavors and it’s tough to watch your youngest drink it down but there’s no way out but through.

She made me proud and I told her so.  She stayed through the end and after.

If your life has to end what could be better than to be pain-free and surrounded by those you love and who love you as you drift off to sleep?

A couple of weeks afterwards we donated all the perishable bunny keeping supplies to the shelter we’d originally gotten her from.  There was about 40 pounds of litter, 10 pounds of two different kinds of hay (I’d bought her favorite oat hay during her final illness to tempt her into eating.  I knew we were in trouble when she only ate a piece or two and ignored the rest).  There were also brand new toys and other appropriate things to chew, I even gave them the pumpkin stem I’d saved and dried.  She loved those things.   It felt good to be able to give them this gift but the rosy glow didn’t last long.

Of course we had to walk around the shelter and see who was there.  Get in some pets and conversations if nothing else.

Her name was Pixie and she was this tiny little rabbit with the cutest little ears and she was only six months old and wanted to go home with someone to love her ever so badly.

The youngest was good.  She didn’t even ask.

I’ve gotta finish paying for the first bun before we get another one. We also have to be able to budget for its food and care.

Damned if I can see when that might ever be possible again.

Yeah, just freakin’ great for the ego and tottering self-confidence.

It’s so quiet when I come home now.

I really do miss the sound of her chewing on orchard grass day and night.

Long live the Independents

The youngest and I spent the afternoon and a good part of the evening shopping about a week ago.

We don’t do that often.  We needed supplies.

It was two weeks until Connecticon.  There was work to be done.

If I don’t get to run around like a goober dressed as a Browncoat toting weapons I’ll live.  I’ll just wear an appropriately nerdy tee-shirt.  Lord knows I have an ample supply to choose from.

The youngest will probably cry if her costume isn’t ready.  She’s 12, it’s understandable.

If she was 16, constructing the costume would be her problem, but she’s 12 so it’s mine.  Not that she’s not willing to help. She just doesn’t have the skill set to bring her character to life.

Lilligant from Pokemon

I guess that’s what moms are for.

My interpretation of Lilligant’s headpiece. Craft foam, wire and a whole crap ton of hot glue.

We’ve been talking about what she wanted to dress as since last year.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it until I started.  I can research and think all I want but I figure out how to do things by figuring out how they don’t work and then I finally get to a viable idea.

Thankfully there are lots of images, ideas and tutorials on the interwebs.  Can’t imagine how I would have done all of this without some guidance.

I’ve spent practically every free moment for the last two weeks working on one part of our costumes or another.  Lilligant is done except for some quick tacking down with a needle and thread.  Mine is done enough except for a coat of clear on my gun and a tee-shirt that needs a logo stenciled on it.  And I need to change the buttons on my coat.

No biggie.

Spent a whole $6 for the pair.

Just kinda in a crafting zone.  Listening to a lot of music and watching movies that I haven’t seen in years.  Scrounging from the fridge and freezer and puttering around from one task to another.

At a good point for this close to con.  Haven’t really had the time to have fun with it before.  I like this.  It’s fun.  Fun is good.

After the miracles of paint.

It’s the Fourth of July so I actually took the day off from work like a good American.  I don’t get paid if I don’t work but I have a month to make it up somewhere.

Worked on cosplay crafting and even started rereading an old favorite when on break.  Then I closed up the house and dug around for the traveling chair and walked around the block and into the field and sat down with the city to watch some fireworks.

In a field full of people and families I found a bit of empty space and planted my chair and sat back and watched the show.  They were pretty good.

Once they were done I folded up my chair and headed back.  Helped a lady over the guardrail when her companion abandoned her and hustled away once he was over the fence.  She said thank you and I was happy to help.  Just glad that I still can.  That was enough human contact for the day.

Home in five minutes, surrounded by so many more people than are usually walking these streets.  Ducked into the house and headed for a quick shower.  Washed off another haircut and a day of sewing, ironing and painting.

Love taking a shower at the end of a summer day.

Sat down at my desk for a few and pulled back the curtain to watch the people going by and lo and behold fireworks start shooting off down the main street about a block away.  They were amazing.  And they even finished up with a bit of a finale which included strings of Ladyfingers on a chain link fence like I haven’t heard since my Fair Haven days as a disaffected youth.

It was a great show and made this an even better day than it already was.

Thank you unknown neighbors.

Now I’m just typing for a few and then I’m going to go do what I always try to do on this day.  Watch the very fine young Mr. Smith save the planet with lots of gratuitous explosions and destruction.

What better way to celebrate the day?

The only thing that would have made it better would have been a steak with some sautéed baby bella mushrooms and caramelized shallots.  A Nor’easter for cocktail hour and then a nice dark beer with dinner followed up with a cigar and a few fingers of whisky around a fire in the back.

Too bad the mulberries are falling making the backyard a hellhole of bugs both small and large, bitey and not.

And the steak, beer and cigar aren’t in the budget.

I’ve got the whiskey at least.

And lots of fireworks.

And the peace and quiet to enjoy them all.

Happy independence day indeed.

 

 

Saving grace

I get paid once a month.

It probably would be a challenge for most people to budget out an entire month on one check that comes in somewhat randomly.

It’s even more interesting for someone like me who is dancing on the razors edge between modest comfort and financial ruin.

My definition of modest comfort being in the black and still having enough left for gas and maybe a bit of monthly fun.  Right now is a much different story but I also recognize that compared to the rest of the world, let alone the rest of human existence, I live a life of luxury and leisure.

Sometimes it really sucks to have the long view.  Smacks your problems right down to size.  Still a bit of a reach for me to completely stomp them into oblivion though.

I eat alone three days a week. I tend not to eat much those three days. It’s just too much bother unless there’s something quick and easy.

I try to cook enough on the weekend so that there are leftovers but that doesn’t always work out.  Sometimes they disappear over the weekend.

Towards the end of the month, pickings get slim. I buy most things in bulk so the budget goes quick.  Don’t get me wrong, there is always food in this house. I just don’t want to have to cook any of it.

Cooking during the week takes too much time after I’ve worked a long day unless I’m really in the mood and I’m usually not.

Cereal is good.  Quick, easy and not completely horrific for me depending on what I fill the bowl with.

Only problem is that the youngest is about to hit a growth spurt and is eating everything that’s not nailed down.  People always tell me that boys are the worst about cleaning out a kitchen and larder.  They haven’t met my little piranhas.

The little wench ate all the cereal.

Stood in front of the fridge the other night stumbling for something that wasn’t going to take too long.

Stocking the freezer to the rescue.

If you don’t already know the joys of what can be done with a whole roasted chicken then I would recommend you learn as a general life skill.  As one of my favorite authors said, “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

One of the best parts of the roasted chicken is the stock made with it and stock freezes wonderfully.

I try to always have on hand two sizes of frozen stock.  The larger one is for making a soup or risotto.  The smaller for making a quick couple of bowls of yum.

Last nights variation on a theme was frozen tortellini in broth and a cheese and cracker plate that used up the last of a couple of sleeves.  Cheddar and wheat crackers and I dolloped some fig spread on the black pepper water crackers.

An apple would have gone great with this but she ate all of those too.

Dinner was ready in less than 15 minutes.  Perfect.

When I end up with extra I drain out the tortellini as soon as I fill my bowl.  The quicker they cool down the quicker they’ll stop cooking and the more likely they are to stay al dente.  They also dry out a bit which is good because it helps them hold up when you put the leftovers away.

I don’t like mushy pasta.

Good thing the youngest isn’t here otherwise she’d probably have eaten the leftovers by now, potentially mushy pasta or not.

It’s going to be interesting to see how tall she ends up.

Her sister is shorter than me by a couple of inches and hasn’t grown in ten years.

I’m wondering if she might end up taller than me.  That’ll be a new experience.

They are my angels, even when they descend like locust.

A walk through the herb garden

At work we have a lovely little herb garden that is carefully tended by a dedicated group of volunteers.

We are able to do so many things because of the time and efforts that our unpaid helpers contribute on a regular basis.  They help us move forward and even though there are plenty of volunteer related horror stories out there, for the most part people are well intentioned and do the best they can for the good of the organization.

I only hope they know how much we appreciate them.

Enjoy the garden.

lamb’s ear
sage
Interesting that everything that’s currently blooming is purple.
walking onion
The smell of the lavender followed me back into the office from brushing up against it.

Melting

I don’t deal well with the heat.

Never have, probably never will.

That said, it’s finally hot where I live.  Really hot and pretty damn humid as well.  Good for the curls, bad for everything else.

I’d turn on the central a/c that I’m very lucky to have but this current heat wave is only for three days and it seems silly to cool an entire house when the newt and I are the only ones in it and I’m gone at work for more time than I’m not.  There’s also the financial implications of flicking that switch.  I’d rather save up for when it’s going to be hot for weeks on end.

The first thing to go when it gets like this is my appetite.  But if I don’t eat I feel even worse which makes me not want to eat even more.

I’m finding that the key to breaking this lovely vicious circle is to have something quick, easy and tasty on hand.  One of my favorites in this category is my version of a Turkish chicken.

Marinate the chicken in a bit of plain yogurt with lemon juice, garlic, and some spices to taste.  I use this particular Turkish seasoning with another pinch of  Turkish oregano (yes it is different than the Italian stuff) that I pick up at the Turkish market.  I also throw in a pinch of a zaatar mix that’s been hanging around for awhile.  It probably came from Whole Foods.  Use what works for you.

Grill the chicken and if it’s a big piece either shred after cooking or cut it into bread sized medallions before marinating.

Wrap up the chicken with your favorite flatbread.  I’m rather partial to the ones at Costco.  They’re priced right and taste better than any flatbread I’ve ever made.  They freeze great and just need to be popped into a toaster to be ready to eat.

A yogurt sauce goes well with this if you have the ingredients on hand.  Just mix yogurt, dill (fresh is best but dried works) and some finely chopped and deseeded cucumber.  Mix up ahead of time by at least an hour if possible so the flavors have a bit of time to mix.  An even longer sit helps re-hydrate the dill if it’s dried.  It starts to go south pretty quick so make in amounts that will last you for about 24 hours or so.

Add lettuce, onion or tomatoes if you have and want them.

Serve with a simple side of dressed greens.

Depending on the particulars of taste and season, all of these ingredients are part of my regular pantry, freezer and bit of garden.  Work with what you’ve got and adjust accordingly.  You can also do the prep ahead of time and shave down the actually cooking and assembly to as little as 15 minutes when it’s actually time to eat.

Although I’m melting even I am willing to eat this.

 

Filtered view

No one who knows me would be surprised when I say that I suffer from anxiety and have a wee bit of trouble valuing and understanding my place in the world.  I’m an introvert who loves to talk.  Crowds and noise generally exhaust me but nothing thrills me more than a crowded and ridiculously loud concert with one of my many favorite bands playing.  It’s all a bit confusing and can sometimes overwhelm me.  Not as much nowadays as in the past but there’s always a hamster on a wheel in the back of my head running their little heart out trying to escape it all.

I know exactly why I’m like this.  So many reasons that combined to make the person and personality that is me.  This is how it works for all of us.  Quite remarkable when one thinks about it.  Bring an egg and a sperm together and eventually you’ll have a fully formed and hopefully functional human being.

Knowing why I’m like this doesn’t necessarily mean that I know how to fix it though.  Or if it is fixable.  Do I really want to fix it?  What are essential parts to the person?

What brings a life into focus?

I’ve always been fascinated with photography, in all it’s forms.  I think part of the reason is because it provides a bit of distance from the life swirling about me and with a bit of distance it’s easier to see what’s actually going on and process it.

When I was little, probably even before I could read, I would flip through my mother’s photo albums.  They had garishly colored covers and were spiral bound with “magnetic” pages.  I now know that those albums are horrible for the photos but as a kid that sheet of plastic meant I could look at them without supervision.  In those pages I saw moments frozen in time before I was even born with the faces of the people around me but slightly softer and less worn.

My first camera was a Kodak Disc.  It fit in the pocket of my jean jacket and had the most adorable teeny tiny negatives.  It was the first time in my life I had control over which moment was captured.  Now I was the one pasting the photographs down in my own photo albums.  Choosing which moments were laid out in the narrative and captioned for future reference.

I bought myself a Pentax K-1000 in high school.  I barely knew how to set the it and money for film and developing was always in short supply but I loved that camera.  Saw many miles and countless people through that lens.

My transition to digital happened with a lot of kicking and screaming and dragging of feet but now that I’m here I love it.  For the first time in my life I can shoot as much as I want.  What a luxury.

Now I have access to three cameras, each with their own benefits.

There’s the phone in my pocket on my ancient and ailing iPhone 4.  That’s the one I have the most problems with.  It’s only 8gb so I have to dump the photos on a regular basis or I don’t have enough room to capture a spontaneous image.

At work I use an Olympus Stylus TG-4 and I’ll occasionally borrow it if I’m traveling light.  It has a microscope mode that is unlike anything I’ve had access to before.  I have a macro lens for the Pentax but this is even better, especially with the light ring for proper exposure.

He bought me Nikon D3100 several years back for Xmas.  I’d wanted a dslr for years but could never afford one and was completely intimidated by them.  He liked to buy me tech and with being an IT guy and knowing me pretty well he bought the right tech for me.

I was able to take a class to on the basics of digital photography a couple of years ago and now sorta understand how to use all the dials and buttons, or at least most of them.  It’s going to take several more years of actually using them before I really get how it works.  That’s just the way my brain is.

Now that work is less demanding I’d like to spend more time wandering around with my camera.  While I love industrial and urban decay I think I’d like to try shooting something new.

Nothing in this picture exists anymore.

We shall see what I shall see.

 

Pinching them till they scream

A lady I follow recently had a post  about how second-hand stores seemed to be going up on their prices and did her readers see similar trends?

I find that it depends entirely on what store and location you shop at as well as how frequently you are willing or able to go.

I try to stay away from the for-profit second-hand stores entirely.  Yes, they have things for sale at prices lower than new that still have a bit of life left in them but they’re not really in my budget range.  My budget requires a significant discount from what I’d pay retail or online.

There are certain non-profit stores I don’t bother with unless I’m feeling flush because while I know I’ll find something I want to bring home the prices won’t be dirt cheap.  Except on furniture.  I got two of these for $25 each.  They go well with the dark purple velvet sofa from Freecycle.

Went shopping at Salvation Army with the eldest up where she went to school when I drove up there for the second time in less than 24 hours to pick up MORE of her copious belongings.  300 miles on the car in a day and I never even got to leave the state.  Weee.

We weren’t in a rush to get home and had both had good luck with the store so we went shopping.  She needed shorts and I was looking for various things and hit the top two on my list, a new messenger bag and two pairs of jeans.  Also got a hardcover book by my one of my favorite authors and probably the most expensive piece for my ConneCTcon cosplay for this year.  All for under $35 bucks.  Basically what the bag alone would cost new.  I’d say that’s a deal.

The eldest is setting out on her own as soon as she’s back in the country.  She has some basics of keeping house but not much beyond that.  Found a lovely mixing bowl at a nearby Goodwill that shines like new now that it’s gone through the dishwasher and thought of her.  Also checked to see what it was worth if she didn’t like it and decided it was worth the $2.99 gamble.  She’ll take it if she doesn’t have to travel light.  She’s not sure yet where she’s going or how long she’s staying.  And if she doesn’t want it I’ll make a profit.  That works.  Minimal effort and capital tied up and I can make $30 or so.

The bulk Goodwills were recently mentioned by another lady I follow.  Those are even more hit or miss than most thrift stores because I’m picking around the edges and not shoving my way to the front of a fresh bin.  For me the fun is in the hunt just as much as the kill.  I’ve gotten several good pieces there even without being ruthless; a nightstand that I refinished, a Fisher Price Little People Garage for the girls to play with, various books and movies, even picked up a nice serving spoon in the parking lot my last trip.  Saw it when I pulled in and it was still there when I left so I ran it through the dishwasher several times and love it.

This isn’t mine but it’s the same vintage. This one was found at : http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Fisher-Price-Little-People-Action-Parking-Garage-Service-Center-COMPLETE-/182586321989

Have thrift stores gone up in price in recent years?  I’d say yes but that doesn’t mean that you still can’t find a bargain if you’re willing to dig through the detritus and be patient.

Does it annoy me that I’ve spent way more thought and effort in securing a new messenger bag?  It would have been much easier to just order a few off the internet, keep the one that worked and returned the rest.  Yes, this particular hunt was annoying and time-consuming but that’s the nature of my particular beast right now.  I will say, that in return for a bit of thought, effort and time I got a bag I like and will use until it falls apart, hopefully many years in the future.  It’s barely used.  I think someone got rid of it because they couldn’t be bothered to clean it of some very minor soiling.  Wasteful for them, a win for me at $3.99 and an overnight soak in the kitchen sink.

With deciding whether or not second-hand/thrift shops are worth it depends on which way you are more willing and able to pay.  Will it be with time and effort or with dollars that you bought with your time and effort?

 

Letter to a forbidden love

I started smoking when I was 13.

Before that I was a rabid anti-smoker and had even broken and flushed Dad #1’s smokes more than once.  Guess it didn’t take too terribly much to flip that particular addiction switch.

I was riding my bike somewhere with my sorta friends from school.  One was named Bill and lived in a nearby beach community.  I went to his house once.  The short dead-end road was narrow as fuck and the houses jammed cheek to jowl.  The house itself was amazing though.  Full of family and laughter and warm colors and music and books and interesting things to look at.  It was everything I’d ever wanted in a home.  I was actually dumbstruck.  It was old and wound about with tight rooms.  When I was reading about the Burrow years later, this was the house that sprung to my mind.

So anyways, Bill and I and another kid, I can’t remember his name.  He had the most beautiful brown eyes but he played for the other team but hadn’t figured it out yet.  They both did, would, hopefully, figure it all out?  They were nice guys.  I hope they found what they wanted. I’ll call him Rafael.

So the three of us are riding our bikes.  We were going to Rafael’s house.  I was absolutely flying down this huge hill and had to take a sudden sharp right and didn’t realize that the road was covered in sand.  Down went the bike and of course, it being the early 80’s and summer, what was I wearing?  A freakin’ tube top.  Yeah I ended up with some serious road rash all down my right side.

Fucking ow.

The boys helped me and the bike up.  Thankfully we were at our destination for the most part.  I cleaned myself up and picked the gravel out of my skin.  I remember being very jittery from the crash and the pain of trying to erase my right breast with asphalt.  Rafael had stolen a half pack of his grandma’s Pall Malls.  So we each lit one up.

It tasted really gross but I had at least two, maybe three before we left.  My stomach was queasy but I wasn’t jittery anymore.

Never told, will tell, Dad #2 that I was a smoker.  His mother died of lung cancer and she was a very heavy smoker.  Started smoking because her doctor told her to because of her nerves.  Of course the nerves had nothing to do with the five boys who were always trying to kill each other and the alcoholic husband.  Nah, just pick up this habit that’ll kill you young and it’ll all be fine.  So I get why he really, really hates smoking and smokers.

Was a regular, daily smoker by 14.  Smoked unfiltered Camels and loved every one of them.  Loved the packaging art and the fact that they’d been around forever and the way I had to pick leaves off my lips if I wasn’t careful with tamping them before ripping the pack open.

And then there was the burn.

Taking in a deep breath of smoke and just feeling it sear all the way down.

And then there was the exhale.

Just as good going out as it was coming in.

I started working in restaurants at 15.  Practically all the kitchen staff, no matter where I worked, smoked.  Dishwashers were united in their love of anything menthol.  Line cooks tended to smoke Marlboro.  I worked with one chef who smoked Dunhills when he was flush.  I tried a pack when I was jonesing while in Canada.  Didn’t see what the fuss was about.  Was just appalled at how much the dang things cost up there.

Whenever I worked with ex-military guys, they would always smile when they saw my Camels.  They’d usually bum one off of me for old times sake and then cough their way through it.

I eventually worked my way up to the filtered ones and by the time I quit up to the lights.  But they all still had that burn.

When I was in Turkey, men were fascinated by the fact that I, a woman, was smoking in public and would often bum a smoke to try an American brand.  More than one was amused by the filter but they were always friendly and polite about it.

I quit quite some time ago but I still miss it, almost daily.

My youngest sister has one of those electronic thingies.  I asked her if it had the burn of an actual cigarette and was saddened and relieved when she said no.

I can’t start smoking again.

I won’t.

Can’t afford it physically or financially.  Won’t ever be able to afford it and that’s just fine.

Breathing is good.  I’m a big fan of it and would like to keep doing so on a regular basis.

But oh how I miss the particular burn and crackle and the first deep drag off a  just lit Camel fresh from a newly opened pack.

Salt bomb

Life has been especially crazy lately.

Coming up hard and fast on the completion of a multi-year project at work so I’m working long hours and more days than ever before.  Good for the struggling finances, bad for cooking.

I’ve been trying to cook extra on the weekends to get me through the days when it’s just me to feed.  I’ll eat leftovers, especially if they can be repurposed.

Otherwise I just end up with a bowl of cereal for dinner.  Not the worst thing in the world but since I don’t eat when I’m busy working it can be problematic to not have at least one decent meal a day.

Roasted a chicken recently which was immediately broken down for stock.  Made more roasted potatoes than the youngest and I could eat with one meal, still working on readjusting quantities.  Coming from a restaurant background and then cooking for a large family means that I usually make too much.

Not a big fan of reheated roasted potatoes, they lose something in the translation, but there were too many to waste and I was hungry hence the repurposing.

I turned them into home-fries.

Start with a nice heavy pan, medium heat with a dollop of your favorite fat.  I used bacon grease, olive oil would work as well.  Once the pan is heated add in the cold roasted potatoes and occasionally move them around so that the edges crisp up nicely.  I also added some seasoned salt and crumbled in a piece and a half of bacon that I dug out of the back of the fridge.

I considered finishing it off with some cheddar cheese melted over the top but instead went with sour cream and fresh chives from the garden.

Yeah, it was a salt bomb but I’ve been craving salt with all the running around and damn was it yummy and filling.