Monthly Archives: September 2013

Is this food?

Standard

I have been given a present. And I’m a bit afraid of it.

20130930-212645.jpg

It’s a teeny-tiny tin, only 200g. But it has the power to stop me cold.

Mac and cheese. Inna can.

I’m still coming to grips with mac and cheese in a box. I know, I know – Kraft Dinner is the gift of the gods. But… I never had that growing up. My mac and cheese was homemade, not baked but made on the stovetop. Elbow macaroni, real cheese, butter, milk, salt. That is it. I loved it, a great comfort food, and I’d make it myself now – if I could.

In Ohio, I developed a taste for Stouffer’s baked mac and cheese, but I liked it pretty burned. And Stouffer’s has different recipes depending on the region of the US you live in, did you know that? Ohio M&C is different than what ye get in Florida, for instance. I can’t seem to find a link to back that up, but it’s been about 10 years since I saw an article on it.

There seems to be a dearth of just plain ol’ elbow macaroni in Ireland. Perhaps a total lack of it. Never seen it once! I can get shells, etc., but that’s not the same.

Hence, my present. And my dilemma.

What if I like it? I’m not worried about not liking it. That seems pretty likely, with the 22 grams of carb and low fat and the fact it has mustard in it (shouldn’t read the ingredients). I’m just concerned that I might develop a taste for this tin of potential comfort food – especially as it looks to be only about six bites.

Advertisements

Dinner and a conversation

Standard

Hubby has his Internet radio show every Thursday. It’s from 8 to 10 our time, and then he has some bits n pieces to finish off afterward, so we don’t get to eat until rather late.

Last night I decided I had the time to pick some fresh herbs to put on the pork roast, and he decided he had the time to chop them for me (I dislike chopping them, not sure why as the smell is amazing). I brought in oregano, basil, rosemary, and thyme, and added two garlic cloves that were also home-grown. I always pick too much! The pork was nearly crusted in greenery (I also add salt and black pepper, can’t grow them).

I got ambitious then, knowing that we’d have more good green stuff than necessary, and I decided I also had time to make a salad. We’ve not had one in ages, as hubby never seems interested when I say I want one.

I didn’t use the rocket (arugula) I grew, as it has gone all tough and leggy and seedy. And I forgot I had it. So, boring old iceberg lettuce from the supermarket. With my only four ripe cherry tomatoes – one the size of my pinky fingernail – and a sliced carrot from the Stupid Girl raised bed. That carrot was so damn tasty and sweet! For the dressing I added a bit of dried chopped garlic and my leftover cut herbs into a bit of white wine vinegar and let it sit. I didn’t need to add the fresh herbs; the point of putting anything in the vinegar is to rehydrate a dried spice – so if you don’t have fresh spices, toss everything in the vinegar, whatever is to hand. I don’t measure, sorry – eyeball it! I decided this time to add the fresh ones as the cutting board was hogging all my counter space.

The pork cooks for about 2 hours… when the meat is done I let it sit on a plate, and add water (or sometimes flat Pepsi) to the pan and swish it about to turn the yummy caramelisation flavour into a bit of jus. I add olive oil to the vinegar and swish that about a lot too, before pouring over the veggies. Simple and tasty!

Hubby likes to rate our meals out of 10. Usually he just rates his own cooking, the little egotist. I asked him for his rating of my dinner this time, as he kept saying how great it was.

“The salad is a 9.5! But, it was so good that the meat got lost. So the meat is only an 8. I give the overall meal an 8.”

“Wait, what? How do I get downgraded from a 9.5 and an 8 to an overall 8? Did you forget how averages work?”

“I’m sticking with an 8. The salad overshadowed the meat, sorry.”

A disappointing result. So much for not showing interest in my salads, eh?

Random writing

Standard

(Written yesterday, I didn’t get around to the photos until this morning)

Hi! I’m in the mood for some stream-of-consciousness writing. I’ve not done this in a while!

It’s currently 4:30 in the afternoon, and I’m outside in the back yard, snuggled in my adored Coleman folding camp chair. I will be heartbroken when this chair wears out! None of the other three folding chairs we have are half as comfortable, and none have two cup holders. Best chair ever, and I won’t find another over here to replace it.

It’s about 22degrees c, or 72f. This is my perfect, perfect temperature. I’m in shorts and my bikini top, likely getting the last rays of sunshine that I will get until next April. It’s breezy, but it feels good rather than being chilling. I almost feel as though my upper body and shins are sucking the sunshine in, gasping for this last chance. It’s wonderful.

I did a little putzing about with plants today, and took a rake of pictures with my iPhone. First thing I did was pot up some sweet William seedlings. The S.W. has gone to seed and oh myyyy, have they have germinated. Oops! I put a call out on Facebook for anyone who wanted seeds/seedlings to come and get them, but had not one taker. I think all my local friends and family are only going football crazy and have no time for anything on FB that isn’t Mayo related. I experimented by putting up a pic of my Houttuynia cordata ‘pied piper’, as it is red and green. Tons of ‘likes’ for that! Yep, football-brains only around here it seems.

I don’t think I mentioned that I was doing another experiment, this time with what I hoped were seeds from my skinny purple iris. I put them into sifted fine soil, in a plastic take-out container that has a lid. Set it on a sunny windowsill and left it.* For about four months! Finally, when I remembered to check on it, there was life. Not just the moss and mould, but something that looked like grass. I sighed and supposed that it was grass, and was prepared to give up… until I took a closer look and realised that these were indeed baby iris plants! Go, me! *Same method I used to ahahaget the lilac seeds to germinate last year.

Today I potted them up; I really hope they survive. I don’t want to put them outside, so I hope they don’t get too big, or get confused about what season it is.

20130922-120832.jpg

We also Had A Man In to sweep our chimney. First time in 8 years, we were really chancing our arm waiting so long! He brought in a big shop-vacuum and his brushes and rods (in a nifty copper tube, it probably is an antique), laid down some quite grey but clean sheets, and got to work. Only took about 15 minutes for the actual cleaning, another 15 for setting up and tearing down again. €45 – a bit much for 30 minutes of work, really, but when done he asked hubby, “You do a bit of computer work, don’t ye? I’ve a 2 month old Garmin sat nav that isn’t right, and the shop won’t help me. Can I drop it intae ye and you’ll have a look?” So, I’m guessing we’ll get €20 back in trade. Got to appreciate men with skills!

20130922-120727.jpg

20130922-120747.jpg

The clouds are sweeping in, and the angle of the sun is so low this time of year that my neighbour’s roof leaves my back garden in shadow. I have the smallest sliver of sun left to me, along the back wall, an imperfect triangle that is getting smaller minute by minute. I’ve only been writing about a half an hour, with a break to help hubby bring in the shopping. It seemed when I started that I would have sunshine forever. Gone, gone! So fleeting, the things that we treasure the most. I’ll have to put my real clothes back on and go sit out front, instead… Ah, that’s better. Back in the heat, with a little less skin showing because NOONE needs to see me in a bikini top. The bikini rather makes my neck sore anyway – there’s a bit of weight pulling on my neck, can’t imagine what that’s about… Hehehe.

Hmm. Now that I’m out front, I’m noticing that the Tigridia has nice fat seed heads. I wonder could I start some of those next year? I wonder would any of you be interested in giving it a try, too? We could have a seed exchange! Of stuff that is really, really complicated and slow to grow. Anyone up for it?

20130922-122112.jpg

20130922-122125.jpg

Hubby’s been to our local (award-winning) craft butcher, and intends on grilling the delicious meat he purchased. He originally said he was going to grill in the morning, to fortify ourselves before the big game. He’s also still deciding if we watch it at home, or go to the pub. If we watch at home, we’ll go to the pub after, of course. I know I’ll be hurting on Monday morning if we go to the pub to watch (it’s on at 3 in the afternoon! That’s a bit early even for me to start horsing drinks into me), but the craic will never, ever be forgotten if we’re with a crowd and we win. Besides, everyone I know will be hurting Monday morning anyway! I think we should go out to watch it. I want those hugs from drunken strangers, I want to see a sea of red and green jerseys, I even want the little girls and boys in their Mayo gear, eating crisps and drinking orange, trying to be good and grown up in the pub while dad, or mum, or mum and dad, are shouting at the telly and downing pints. I want face paint and red and green fingernails on the women and silliness and extreme emotion! I want the Irish sport experience. I love it, I do!

Mayo and Dublin, GAA match 2013

Standard

I don’t know how much detail I should go into here. If I miss something or fail to clarify, please ask!

Sunday, there is a huge, huge GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) senior Irish Football match. It’s our SuperBowl, World Series, Heavyweight title match all rolled into one sort of game. It’s called the All-Ireland.

Irish Football is not English Football, aka soccer. It’s a much older game, and is more complicated. I cannot and will not pretend to understand all the rules! But it’s good fun to watch, and is a real Irish game, unlike football or rugby. I believe the oldest Irish sport is hurling.

My home county, Mayo, is in the final on Sunday! We haven’t won the title in 62 years, and we just missed it last year against Donegal. As you can imagine, everyone in Mayo is turned up to level 11. We have a flag, a scarf, and a bit of Boy Scout Mayo braid decorating our car, and four flags out front of our house. Most cars and even commercial vans have Mayo flags flying, and all of the local businesses have red-and-green window displays (our county colours) and many, many Mayo businesses have splashed out for big, professional (or not) side-of-the-road signs, wishing luck to our team (and of course, advertising themselves in the process). These signs are so numerous that I barely notice them anymore.

However, I was off work for two weeks as I had visitors from the USA, and I hadn’t been down the road I always take to work. So on Monday, I found out the road had been partially repaved (yay, except that they made the no-passing zone longer for no discernible reason – it’s not a bother, I’ll ignore it and pass those slow fuckers anyway). I also got to see a lot of new “Hon Mayo!”, “Mayo Abu”, and “Up Mayo!” road signs. Most are the usual. But this one – oh, this one! It has to be the best ever.

20130920-222939.jpg
Wimsey’s Memorials – a company that makes and engraves headstones – showing that they have a wonderful dark sense of humour. If I’m allowed to be memorialised in the town cemetery (up for debate as I’m not a Catholic), I’ll insist that Wimsey does my stone, just because they are dammed funny.

Autumn Fell

Standard

It was beautiful yesterday. Sunny, warm, calm.

Today I was woken up by the distinct sound of gusts of wind hurtling around the house, accompanied by something falling over out front.

Sigh. Get up, put on rain gear, grab iPhone to document damage.

20130915-103828.jpg
Rudbeckia, flattened. This is the one plant that over wintered from last year. I know it got too tall for the recycled salt-box, but my plants always get bigger than I expect them to. Now propped up in a calmer corner.

20130915-104027.jpg
Sunflower down! Again, too tall and in a rather light-weight salt-box ‘pot.’ Also moved to a quieter place.

20130915-104145.jpg
Sunflower 2 down! This one is more worrying. It’s in a heavy pot, and instead of falling over it bent over at the stem. It’s not broken, though. Now hiding behind me, propped up by a dead olive tree. I had to hold a leaf with my lips as I couldn’t hold the heavy pot and steady the stem at the same time, too windy!

20130915-104509.jpg
Noooo… My stargazer and black lilies! That pot is HEAVY, dammit! Okay so the plants are well over a meter tall… my poor plant-babies.

20130915-104634.jpg
Augh! Black lilies and Tigridia! They aren’t that tall, I didn’t expect them to go over. Maybe my little Mayo GAA flag is to blame.

20130915-104853.jpg
Not the cosmos, too? It hasn’t even had a chance to bloom yet. Had this one snuggled right up to the house, thought it would be safe there. The pot is chipped now, too.

While writing this, there was a blast of wind so strong I had to say ‘holy shit.’ And now the sun is trying to come out.

Ahh, Ireland in the Autumn!

Awwwwww

Standard

It’s a pixelated, dark, speckled photo – but until I get hubby to upload the flash pics I took on our ‘real camera’, this terrible iPhone picture of cuteness will have to do.

20130914-012556.jpg
Spot curled up with Neko – he managed to squeeze in where he got full benefit of that floofy tail.

Falling into Autumn

Standard

The growing season is winding down in Ireland now – for us, autumn officially starts at the beginning of August. My blueberry bushes believe it’s fall – their leaves are starting to turn. The raspberries believe it too; no more fruit to be had this year. The wild blackberries are amazingly prolific and in nearly full-fruit – any ideas on what I can do with them are more than welcome (I don’t have access to canning equipment). They are everywhere in Ireland, it’s crazy.

My cherry tomatoes are lush with fruit, but every last one is still bright green.

20130910-210032.jpg
I also found two itty-bitty tomato plants growing out front, where I put down some of my home-made compost earlier in the year. The blighted ‘maters I had last year must have had a few viable seeds. Or maybe they are from the year before? I might dig them up and bring them inside just to see what happens. Mystery ‘maters!

20130910-210649.jpg
Terrible pic (these are all from my iPhone this morning, and the sun doesn’t hit the back wall until late in the day). But! Can you see it? I have an ear of corn forming, finally! Of my five surviving cornstalks, this one went for gold first. I see one other that might be thinking of getting corny, too. I’m rather assuming that, like the tomatoes, they don’t have a hope in hell of ripening in time. Ah well, I still try.

20130910-210959.jpg
My first gaillardia flower! Lovely colour for autumn, of course.

20130910-211055.jpg
Second one, blurred, sorry! They are a bit slow to bloom, not like my rudbeckia…

20130910-211313.jpg
This photo is weeks old. Every single rudbeckia bloom is still in place!

20130910-211357.jpg
Today.

20130910-211550.jpg
Of course there are some new ones.

20130910-211614.jpg
Each Susan has her eye blackened in a slightly different way. What a terrible nickname. I’ll stick with rudbeckia – the word is much more fun to say, too.

20130910-211851.jpg
Second sunflower! Hubby took this and has had some photoshop fun – our neighbour’s house isn’t quite that bright of an orange-red! I think we can forgive him, since the contrast is pretty damn cool.

Ugh!

Standard

This sponsored ad started showing up in my Facebook feed yesterday.

20130901-214722.jpg
Is that picture on the left of a fat girl? NO. Is that picture on the right of an emaciated, bony, bitchy-looking girl? YES.

I have no idea why anyone would want to look like the girl on the right. She was happy enough to be seen in a bikini in the first shot, right? So why go for the half-dead, oh here are my hipbones, don’t cut yourself! look?

And why they hell is it being suggested to me? I follow more pubs than hair salons (and only the salon that is owned by a good friend). I don’t make friends of fashion sites or diet sites or makeup sites, etc, etc. FB needs to try a little harder, because this ad pisses me off. “Woman Daily” is a big fail-y. Using a pic of Posh Spice’s skeletal frame with her built-in silicon airbags is also a huge turn off. What is wrong with the people who think this crap is attractive?