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random musings of a crazy cat lady

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Mr Meh suddenly became very persistent - calling, texting, etc.  Eventually I called him back.  He was easy to talk to and seemed normal, if a bit yappy, so I agreed to have dinner with him last night.  It was not a total loss.  I learned a lot of useful things.  Granted, I should know these things already but I don't have a lot of experience with dating.
New Rule # 1: Never agree to a first meeting at the last minute unless there is a really good incentive.  I'm not a "Rules" type girl, to say the least, but it totally threw a wrench into my plans to paint the posts on my front porch.  The project was 90% prep work and 10% painting.  I'd be done by now if I had been able to work through the day.  Instead I still have some priming and painting to do.  Adding to my annoyances, the water went out sometime when I was painting and I had to rush over to the gym to get showered and made up.
New Rule # 2: Steady does it.  Fast and steady, or slow and steady, or slow then steadily accelerating, but randomly hot and cold is not for me.  This applies to things other than online dating, but I won't go into those here because it's a family blog.
New Rule  # 3: If I'm still making up my mind at the end of the date, that means no.  Yes means yes, No means no, and maybe also means no.  Maybe always leads to me realizing that the answer is no as soon as I can be alone with my thoughts.  This does not mean it has to be love or lust at first sight, but it at least has to be a certain feeling that I'd like to see this person again.
New Rule # 4: I always offer to pay for my half of the meal, but dudes who either accept without putting up a little bit of protest or resist way too hard are suspect.  Mr Meh fell into the former category.  I think that is the first time that has ever happened.
Anyway, we met for dinner.  Mr. Meh was older-looking and fatter that his picture,and seemed shorter than he claimed.  These things don't bother me too much, since I do the same thing with the pictures, within reason.  He was interesting enough, but he talked, and talked, and talked, and even when he asked me questions about myself he managed to go off on a non-sequitor and talk about stuff he wanted to talk about.  It was sort of off-putting but it wasn't until after it was over how much he had done it.
I was being too nice, and gave him the benefit of the doubt, so when we parted I told him to give me a call if he wanted and it was nice meeting him.  He said yeah, let's hang out, but it seemed like I was being friend-zoned.  Which is fine, since I wasn't into him either, but I won't lie and say that my pride wasn't a bit injured.  What can I say - I'm vain. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

CNY Corn Chowder a la the Minimalist

I'm a big fan of Mark Bittman's articles ("The Minimalist") in the New York Times food section.  He's a good writer and also a nice counterpart to the overly fussy world of many food writers and bloggers.  Recently I bought his book "How to Cook Everything: the Basics".  Granted, I don't need another general cookbook, but it had some good recipes and step by step instructions and pictures for each one.  Given that my other general cookbooks are from Cook's Illustrated, a simpler alternative is nice to have.
For those of you who are chemists, cooking from Cook's Illustrated is like doing a synthesis from Inorganic Syntheses.  Everything is checked multiple times and if you do it right and are relatevely experienced, it works very well for that specific dish.  Cooking from the Bittman book is more like doing something from a freshman chemistry lab.  It's designed to be relatively straightforward and hard to mess up, and there are lots of pictures.
The recipe for corn chowder caught my eye.  I've only seen recipes using a lot of cream and sometimes potatoes.  This one used a broth made from cooking the corn cobs, milk, some scallions, a roux of flour and butter, and cheddar cheese.  No onions, no potatoes, no heavy cream.  It's not exactly Weight Water zero points soup, but it's reasonable entree - tasty and filling but not excessively rich.  I was intrigued.  It's corn season here, and other than the green onions, it was all items that I usually have.
I'm not going to repost the recipe here, so go look it up if you're interested.  I followed the recipe, sort of.  It was messy but well worth the fuss.  I made three alterations - I didn't put the scallions greens on top, I added a small (7 oz) can of green chiles, and once it was done I blended up a blender full to make for a thicker soup and then returned it to the pot.  It cooked up pretty much as described, but I was probably being too careful with simmering it so it took a but longer than described.  The recipe says it's 4 servings but I will probably get 6 or 7 servings out of it (damn thyroid!).
Anyway, I don't often go into superlatives but this was amazing.  The corncob broth really took it to the next level.  The flavor of the corn, cheese and chiles blended perfectly, and the corn retained a lovely fresh taste.  It was rich and tasty and did not suffer from the lack or cream or potatoes.  I forgot about the rest of my dinner as I scarfed it down.  I am already plotting to make more while corn is in season and freeze it.  ( I'll probably scale it up slightly (1 1/2 x) since my pot can handle it)  It will taste damn good on those winter nights when it's snowing I don't feel like grocery shopping.
Someday I'll try one of the richer recipes and see how it compares, or add a bit of heavy cream or more cheese to this recipe, but it's hard to beat perfection.  Likewise, it could probably be lightened somewhat with less butter and skim milk without sacrificing too much flavor.  (I would probably cook the corncobs longer and process more of it in the blender to make it thicker.)

Postscript, one week later: I got about eight servings out of the soup.  Some were main dish servings, and others were side dish servings.   It stayed tasty all week.  I made another, slightly bigger batch tonight and it came out even better.  I'm freezing half of it now and will freeze more if I get bored with it during the week.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Olympic Finals: Synchronized Feline Wrestle-Licking Competition

Lucy was happy to get a new buddy, but she had a weird way of showing it, and it took her a while to get used to Molly.  I blame it on a bad case of "tortitude".  Even though she was more content and obviously liked having Molly around, she still liked to hiss at Molly for no apparent reason, as well as utter strangely human-sounding exasperated sighs when Molly got on her nerves.  Sometimes I worried that Lucy was being too mean to Molly, but Molly kept coming back for more and they were pretty much inseparable.  A few weeks ago Lucy started pinning Molly down and hissing like she was really pissed off, but at the same time she was licking Molly's ears.
Something changed recently and now it's just a non-stop licking wrestling lovefest - no more exasperated sighs or hissing. Sometimes Lucy calmly grooms Molly, but most of the time they alternate between licking, kicking/biting and chasing each other around the house and pouncing on each other.  It is pretty funny.  I'll be interested to see how it evolves as Molly gets older and bigger. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I'm still on OKCupid.  There's not much to report - a few sporadic emails from guys I'm not interested in, the dudes who send the second email asking why I didn't write back to their first one, etc.  I'm pretty half-assed about it since I am not paying any money for it.
Into this mix came an email from someone who seemed a bit more promising - age-appropriate, lives in Ithaca, decent looking, and not prone to annoying typos or text-speak..  (Yes, my standards are pretty low that I get excited about age appropriate guys who live nearby)  I wrote back, and eventually received another email a week later.  I wrote back but I probably won't respond if he does reply.  I didn't used to have any set rules about how what is too fast or too slow, but this time around I'm trying to weed out the guys who are too busy or not that into me.
Postscript - the dude did write back eventually and gave me his 'real' email address and phone #, and asked if I like to meet up sometime.  I gave him props for at least having the guts to do that, so I wrote back, (and included my contact info) but if it's another week before I hear from him I'm going to let it slide.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Sheila and her boyfriend Chuck visited last weekend.  While they were here Sheila suggested that we make gazpacho.  It's tomato season now, and I'm sure she knew I was going to drag them to the Ithaca Farmer's Market anyway.
Sheila has a recipe she likes, although she made some few adaptations.  We made a big bowl of it and let it sit in the fridge overnight.  We had it the next day and I had leftovers for the first half of the week.  It was nice to have a veggie dish ready to eat when I got home from work.  I liked it so much that I made a new batch today.
Here's the recipe.  Feel free to adapt it to suit your tastes.  I skipped the onion, basil and jalapeno tonight, and used a hotter sweet pepper and some garlic scapes instead.  I like cucumber so I used more.  (I also neglected to look at the recipe this time and added way too much balsamic vinegar, but it seems fine, albeit a bit different than last week's batch.

  • 2-3 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 cucumber, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped.
In small batches, put chopped veggies in blender and puree.  Leave it as chunky as you like.   Pour into large bowl and add seasonings.  Adjust seasonings if necessary.  Let it sit in fridge overnight to let the flavors develop..or not.  Enjoy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

I blame my thyroid

I've been on the thyroid medication for about 2 1/2 months.  It's amazing the difference it has made.  My symptoms became noticeable to me in March, and with 20/20 hindsight I could trace it back another year or so.  However, I've noticed improvements in things that could probably be traced back at least five or ten years, perhaps longer, and which I had no idea had any relationship to my thyroid.  I won't bore you with all the things that have improved, and it  would be verging on TMI, but I'll give you the highlights.  I've got a lot fewer aches and pains, my balance is better (it was getting worse, which I attributed to bad knees from soccer and being out of shape) and it's a lot easier to drag my lazy ass out of bed in the morning.
Things just creeped up on me, and I assumed that it was just because I was getting older, or could attribute my symptoms to other, completely logical causes.  Rest assured, I'm still a cranky old biddy, though.

PS When I first posted this, I forgot to mention the best change of all.  My shoulder is healing up and feels a lot better now.