Monthly Archives: November 2012

Barley Stuffing

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I had a lot of people ask me to share my barley stuffing recipe. Well, three people. But hey, that’s three people who are interested and might benefit from my wealth of knowledge! HAHAHAHAHHA, gasp, HAHAHAHAHHA, wealth.

I got this off the net at some point, because I really, really, hate bread-based stuffing. Was always more than happy to help mom tear bread into chunks to make it, but I’ve always had a disgust for anything involving bread cooked in meat juice. I like bread, I like meat, but there’s just something… ooky… about the two together when the bread is wet. * shudder*

I wondered, one day, what I could use instead of bread to stuff a turkey or chicken. Rice is too sticky, and brings bad memories of a not-favourite-of-mine meal my mother cooked called ‘porcupines’ (no, I’m not kidding. It’s sort of surprising I’m not a vegetarian after that, isn’t it?), so I thought of barley. I love barley. I find the texture fascinating; squishy but firm, soft but a bit chewy, and the little bit of husk gives me the smug feeling that I’ve actually eaten something with ‘good’ fibre in it.

But, I hate onions. So this is an onion free version.

Sorry for the US measurements. I still think in American when cooking! But as with cooking rice, it’s one part barley to two parts broth. Use a coffee cup to measure, who cares? This isn’t baking, there’s no need to be exact. My ‘teaspoons’ are usually just eyeballed or dumped into the palm of my hand. We all do this. I love cooking like this (and this is why I’m a terrible baker).

1 cup pearl barley
2 cups broth (I love beef with barley, but for stuffing I used chicken. I expect vegetable broth would work also)
a shit-ton of salt. As much as you feel is too much. Barley needs salt. And I’m a bit of a salt junkie. Meh, use as much as you want, but my notes from the first time said ‘more salt’ and I went a bit mad this time, by accident. I actually did an iDJ and talked to the barley: “Oh, shit. Sorry. Whoops!” But it was perfect.

Throw in about 1 teaspoon each of whatever dried herb strikes your fancy. I like sage and thyme for a traditional stuffing flavour. And parsley, because it’s green and pretty. It’s not necessary, though.

Put that on to a boil and reduce to a low simmer, covered, as soon as it boils. In the meantime:

Sautée in butter 4 minced or pressed cloves of garlic, with half a minced green or red bell pepper (I used a red one every time, and it was perfect) and either the same amount of minced carrot, 1/2 inch chunks of celery, or both (onion people, this is your chance. Just don’t tell me about it, ok?). The carrot didn’t add much but color and maybe a vitamin or two, really. I didn’t use it last time and didn’t miss it.

Once the sautéed veggies look and smell like heaven, dump it in the pot with the barley. Leave it on low and stir it now and again just to make sure it’s not getting over cooked and dry. When it gets really sticky and there’s no water left, it’s probably done. You can taste it and make sure. Just try to leave some for the dinner later.

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Oh, Balls!

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Hey! I learned that I’m only half the eejit I thought I was! Look what I found:

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Yep, hanging off one of the many, many loops of my pothos plant is – the balls off my socks. The ones that I thought Lokii had eaten. Woot! I put them there because he never goes up there, even though he could. He’s not a plant-eater, and even Spot seems to also have no interest in the pothos.

The plant is on the wall-mounted TV rack in our bedroom, one of the things we didn’t bother to remove when we moved in. I suffered it to remain as it makes a great plant stand, and because I will permit a TV in my house, but not one in my bedroom.

What I learned this week Nov 18-24

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I don’t feel very edumacated this week. I’ll have to think hard for this one!

I (we) learned to get a second opinion when asking the Internet what temperature to cook a turkey. Dinner was meant to be on the table about 9:30 – it wasn’t done until 11:30. We were tired and cranky as hell by then. It was still really, really tasty, and we didn’t need to stuff ourselves into a coma when it was already soooo late.

I learned that my barley stuffing is friggin’ awesome. It would make a good side dish anytime. I’ll share if you like (it’s nearly vegetarian, only the chicken bouillon would need to be swapped out).

I learned that really old pumpkin purée, if not frozen because you can’t be bothered, turns sort of white and smells of bleach. But if you scrape off the white part on top, it’s lovely orange underneath and makes a good pie, even if you’re a little afraid to eat it at first.

I’ve learned that it is possible that my husband knows where a rarely-used kitchen implement might be located.

I learned that my husband was willing to try to make whipped cream by hand, when I didn’t find the whippy-attachment for the food processor where he said he thought it was.

I learned that he trusted me when I said I’d looked there, already.

I learned that I am still capable of being an asshole. Well, that shouldn’t have been surprise.

I learned we can get American Football over the net. Live from CBS. Go Browns!

I learned that nearly 8 years away from live American TV let me forget you guys are forced to watch commercials every damn 8 minutes. I am soooo sorrrryy.

I learned that American commercials are as stupid as they were 8 years ago.

I learned that the US pronunciation of ‘mobile’ as in ‘mobile phone’ now sounds totally silly to me. MO-bīle. Not moble. I’d shudder less if you said it like the city of Mobile, AL (That’s Mo-BEEL, for anyone not from the South).

I learned that I hate taking a shower as much as I hate having to go to work. At least the experience is shorter.

I learned how to upload to YouTube and post wherever I want! Just wait until I feel like uploading vids from ‘the real camera.’

I’ve learned it is possible to put away Halloween and bring down Christmas before December starts! Even when I don’t feel like Christmas at all! I’m not unpacking it yet, of course. I need a tree first. Next weekend?

I’ve learned that I still haven’t learned that when I know Lokii is going to steal and eat something, I need to remove it from his reach. I feel even worse about this after reading that a friend’s cat is in the hospital for eating a plastic bag. Lokii ate some plastic foam from a Halloween decoration and the fuzz balls off the socks that tried to kill me are missing. I knew better and I still didn’t move these things. And then I “gave out” (another Irish expression for you) to iDJ for not taking the tasty blanket off the bed every morning.

I learned, again, that I am still capable of being an asshole…

Socks and Button update!

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I’ve had some requests to know how Socks and Button are doing. My blogging about Socks was meant to only be me following her pregnancy from a long-distance viewpoint, along with our initially shared view of ‘babies? no way!’

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What? You want to hear about meee!?!?

If you want to read along from the start, go to the links below. I did them in order from oldest to newest. Please do read a few: it was a lotta damn work. The first two links talk about why I love her, how I felt about my best friend’s decision to have a baby, and some things that were hard to write, especially about her miscarriage. The rest are my somewhat weekly pregnancy updates. With those, I tried to be both funny and informative, because I know sweet fuck all about this sort of thing, but I like funny and science.

Back story: go here, then here, and the updates: one, two (sweet pea), three (blueberry), four (raspberry), five (olive), six (prune), seven (lime) (the next post freaked her out, it was a bit of fun inspired by the drawing in seven: HAHAHAHAHHA), and eight (pick a fruit, any fruit). Nine (avocado) (I still get weekly searches for this photo. Y’all are weird). Ten (mango). Now we know! Eleven (melon/banana). Twelve (pomegranate), thirteen (eggplant), fourteen (rutabaga), fifteen (jicama), sixteen (melon, for sure this time!), seventeen (pumpkin), eighteen (WATERMELON!!!), twenty (a bigger damn watermelon!)

Then my massive freak out when she was in labour

I love that gal to bits!

Sheeeeit, I’m almost too tired after all that to write anything new. Well, I did spend a lot of time writing all those posts…but not nearly as long as making all those links, so I need to ‘woman up’ and continue! (Don’t you just hate the term ‘man up’? As if one gender has a monopoly on getting shit done?)

So! Everyone is healthy and happy and growing and learning (Socks is about to embark on reverse-growing, however, as she’s tired of the leftover baby-bellah). There was a pretty bad health scare at first, involving way too much time spent in the natal intensive care unit, but it was a problem entirely able to be solved, and Button is no worse for the experience. Socks won’t forget it anytime soon, but she’s doing great at not being over-protective.

Button is not called Button any more, however. ‘Monkey’ is a common endearment that I hear. Along with ‘Little Squirrel’! But her real name, which I’ve been given permission to share, is one we talked about for months. Let me introduce, at the age of almost five months, Saige! Isn’t that just beautiful?

Saige sleeps well, eats well (they are just beginning to experiment with solid food – apparently the new idea of ‘flavour’ shocks her quite a bit still). She’s very active and wants nothing more than to walk, the sooner the better. Socks has been telling me for months that her daughter seems clearly frustrated that she can’t make her limbs do what she intends them to do, and she is fascinated to see Saige’s progress.

Saige has already given her first neck-hug combined with a sloppy kiss, and this was verified by Bear who just happened to be there at the time. ‘ Did she just…?’ ‘yeee-eee-sss…’ Mommy=melting, of course.

My darling niece (by love rather than by blood) seems very, very interested in technology, too:

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And I’m dead impressed how a child under six months can attend to an iPad so well. As an aside, my sister’s daughter can use an iPhone quite well and she’s just a few months over two years old. Interesting! Why is it so easy for someone so young, even really, really, young – to grasp but older folks have difficulties? Is the software so very user-friendly and intuitive that we older folk over-think it and cause our own problems?

Ah, that’s another thought for another day. Here’s Saige trying to nom Socks’s first baby, Beanie, instead.

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First video test

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I’ve finally gotten off my arse (figuratively) and figured out how to upload a video to YouTube, so I can post it here. Since I’m poor and I can’t pay for the fancyschmancy WordPress add-in.

So here’s a link to a few hilarious moments of Neko trying to stomp-nip Spot, Spot running off to chase a laser, and Lokii bitching about it all.

Thanks, self, for being an eejit.

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We only, tonight, about an hour ago, realised that American Thanksgiving is THIS week. As in, in a few days. Now, of course this isn’t something celebrated or enjoyed in Ireland; but hubby has this…thing…where he likes to try to make me feel at home by celebrating American holidays. Usually it involves me having to cook something hard to purchase here, or wear something starry and stripey. Thankfully those things are also hard to purchase here.

We really should have tried harder to import him to the States rather than export me, perhaps.

In any case, we scroooowed up and there will not be a timely turkey-day for us. Due to lack of turkey. And anything else slightly resembling the makings of a turkey-day meal…

What I learned this week Nov 11-17

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I learned that the chicken processing factory that I drive by twice a day smells worse, now that it is cold, than it ever did on the hottest days this summer. Gag.

I learned that the dog’s nails are way too long. But I have yet to do anything about that.

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I learned that I really, really need to check between my toes before getting in the bathtub, especially when it’s cold and I’ve been wearing socks constantly. I haven’t learned just what socks I might own that are full of magenta fluff, but it wasn’t easy picking it all out of the water.

I learned it was past time to bring in the big rain umbrella for the winter. It didn’t go flying over to the neighbours, but it might have smashed up one of my blueberry bushes. It’s too nasty out there for me to tell how much damage, if any, was done.

I’ve learned that I don’t care for the Lemony Snicket books. Bummer. Yes, I know they are for kids, but I wouldn’t have liked them as a child, either. I don’t like the style and I don’t like the author constantly interrupting the story to define ‘big words.’ And if you are going to have children invent things, maybe have them invent things that might actually work? Heating up fire tongs to white hot in an oven that won’t close all the way, then carrying the tongs in one oven-gloved hand while climbing down a rope for two hours to use it to melt steel bars? Ugh.

I’ve learned that I’m so lazy, I poured beer on the cat to shut him up. And it worked. I wouldn’t get up to fetch some water to dump on him instead (he’s on to that trick, anyhow). And I might be about to do it again if he doesn’t shut the hell up.

I learned that burning inedible bits of an orange in the fireplace does not make the room smell nice.

I learned that eating an orange while using an iPad is a messy mistake.

I learned that somehow, after blogging over a year, I wasn’t signing up for email updates on all the other blogs I follow. Durr. Sorry, I really wasn’t being an ass, I was being…an arse.

I learned that the toenails on my left foot grow faster than the ones on my right. This came about because I also learned I’m too lazy to take off the polish from the summer. I trimmed my nails and noticed that there’s more still left on my right foot.

I learned that I can hang two shirts in the hot press to dry faster. Sweet! (The hot press is Irish term for the little closet that has the house’s hot water tank in it. And usually all of the linens and towels. That’s your Irish lesson for the day: now I’ve taught something, too!)

I’ve learned that hubby will wash the halogen oven, as long as I wash the metal grate that the food sits on. Win-win for both of us! I hate cleaning the bowl and he hates cleaning the grate.

Savita Halappanavar, murdered.

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My adopted country let a 31-year-old woman die recently. I haven’t talked about it as I’m just… boggled. I need to talk about it, but how, where; where do I start?

A dentist, at 17 weeks pregnant, had terrible back pain and had to visit the hospital – twice – to have it confirmed that she was having a miscarriage. A baby at that age can not live on its own – the lungs aren’t developed enough. Her cervix was very dilated; wide open to infection, too. The natural process of contraction and expulsion during a miscarriage did not happen. She needed medical help. People are naming this necessary procedure an ‘abortion.’ I thought it was called dilation and curettage – and clearly the dilation part wasn’t even needed.

This was a planned and wanted pregnancy, and it went wrong. It happens. It happened to my best friend, and many others I know. It happens a lot.

But this time it happened in County Galway, Ireland. The couple believed that Ireland was a good country to have a family in. Savita didn’t want to lose her child, but she knew there was nothing she could do to save it. She went to the hospital. They confirmed there was no hope for her fetus. This was October 21.

But…it was still alive. There was a heartbeat.

For three days.

And three days is the amount of time it took for Savita to develop septicaemia , because the doctors would not remove the fetus and let her body recover from the miscarriage. They would not do the D & C until the fetus died. Savita herself did not die for four more days, not until October 28.

Three days of begging the medical professionals to save her life, three days of suffering and pain. Three days of mental agony, knowing that she had a dying baby inside of her. Then four days of isolation from her husband in ICU while she was dying from the system-wide infection.

She was told that “this is a Catholic country.” Apparently that means one heartbeat supersedes another. A quote, from her husband, published in the UK newspaper the Daily Mail: ‘Doctors refused the termination on the grounds that the foetal heartbeat was still present and being a Catholic country it is not permitted.
‘I tried to plead with the doctors that I am not Irish or a Catholic, so please help and terminate her pregnancy.’

Maybe it was because she was Hindu that they felt the need to explain just why they were so willing to murder her. Yes, murder. Wilful, intentional taking of a human life. This was not malpractice. This was not ignorance or accident. They knew what could happen and denied a medically necessary surgery for no other reason than religion.

I…just can’t wrap my head around this.

Catbutts, catbutts, everywhere!

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Okay, since we all seem to share a wonderfully childish love of talking about cats’ heineys, I decided to search the Internet for ‘cat butt’ and see what it crapped out.

I present your future Christmas wish list: (OMG did I just use the C-word?!?)

For the brave: Cat-Butt Chewing Gum!

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Cat-butt magnets! Something lovely to look at on your fridge.

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Cat-arse pencil sharpeners!

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The classic: cat butt tea-towel/dish-towel holder! Butt, it looks way funnier when not holding a towel, I think.

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Catbutt air fresheners! Yeah, I know. Supposedly it smells of gardenias. I don’t know what the manufacturer’s cat eats, but I surely don’t smell flowers when gifted with a cat-arse in my face.

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Cat-ass salt and pepper shakers! I think this one is particularly funny, because Salt looks like she needs a vet. Even more than Pepper does, with his five arseholes.

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Zazzle has a ton of things, as does Cafepress (I particularly like the ‘cats are nothing to scream about’ coaster.)

Well! The one thing I expected to find, besides the towel-holder, is a shirt that my mother owned and giggled incessantly over. Google has let me down, so I think I will have to dig it out and model it for you!

Um no. Days later… I have finally gotten the step ladder, dug through the vacuum packed clothes I never wear but can’t throw out, found the sweatshirt, put it on…and it looks terrible on me! So I held it as flat as possible to hide the wrinkles and asked iDJ to take pictures.

The front:

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The back!!!

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It seems a shame this isn’t on the market anymore. The copyright is 1986, by A.M. Grupke, and titled ‘Hep Cat, Nashville, TN’

My Safari didn’t like the only link to Hep Cat, and googling the artist only brings one link with an interview of the artist. It’s called ‘Cats Coming and Going.’

I think we need to bring this design back, I’d love the one in colour!