Friday, January 8, 2016

Hedybean's brown butter acorn squash soup

Today I was not feeling it.  Didn't want to go to the grocery store.  There weren't many veggies in the house, but I did have a few... things.  So, I decided to make a butternut squash soup, but with acorn squash, since that's what I had.  There really isn't much difference in taste and texture between the two.  I also figured it would make for a smaller pot of soup.  Just enough for the three of us, with a bit left over for someone to have for lunch tomorrow.   I happened to have squash, onions, chicken, and stock available.  Don't look in my fridge right now though.  There was not much else.

I'll fix that later.

So, I baked off the squash this morning while I did my yoga, and then I left to get the kids from school, as it is their early release day.  They get out at noon on Fridays, so I have a choice.  I can grocery shop and stay on that end of town, or I can come home and work out, and then sprint right back over there.

Today, I chose the yoga.

Anyway, without further ado, I give you:

Hedybean's Acorn Squash Soup.


Mise en place:

1 roasted acorn squash
20 ounces chicken stock
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp TJ's curry powder
3 tbsp salted butter.  I like Kerrygold.
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (Optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Recommended tools:

Dutch oven sized stock pot.
Good, sharp vegetable knife/cutting board.  (Hey, I don't know your kitchen.  May as well recommend erthang.)
A blender that can handle hot soup, or an immersion blender.
Grill pan, for cooking chicken.


Method:

Roast your acorn squash at 375 for about 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven.  (I say this because my oven runs very hot.  I really set mine for 350, but it reads... a scant 25 degrees higher.)

Salt and pepper, place chicken on grill pan.

Sweat and lightly toast your diced onion in about 2 tablespoons of salted butter.  Once they are a lovely light brown, and the butter has browned (Homer Simpson is drooling off in the distance somewhere...) add your chicken stock.

Stir until simmering but not boiling and add your roasted squash, seasonings, and remaining butter.  Use your blender of choice to blend until smooth.

Cut cooked chicken breasts into cubes, and add to your bowls of soup.  (Yes, of course, you can cook the chicken ahead of time, or use rotisserie chicken.  Just be sure it's going into the bowls hot.  I'm sure it will also work well!)

Enjoy!

Serves 6 normal people.

Serves... about 4 ravenous raccoon girls.

Monday, October 19, 2015

All Night Long...

I... sometimes have strange recollections tied to music that make no sense to anyone but me.  I am guessing that's true for just about everyone, because that's just sort of how minds work.  In this case, it was a Lionel Richie song, which I hadn't thought about in many, many, many years.

Many.  So many.

No, I was never a fan, but my dad was.  This could have partially been why I was never a fan.  Some of the things he liked, I had to question.  Lionel was no exception. All told, a reasonable ten year old can only deal with so much "Can't Slow Down", before she starts to pace around the room, ready to throw things.  But if we were home, I could at least leave the house, and either swim, or look for rattlesnakes in the hills behind my house.  Remember those days, when kids under the age of 15 could actually go do things without their parents?

I do.

Music with my dad was always a trip.  He had a wall of nothing but stereo equipment.

A huge wall.

No, really.  A huge wall, that was basically an homage to pressed, magnetic, and eventually lazer media.  He basically started collecting around 1970, and never stopped.  He also never threw anything out.  I have no idea how he still had bottles of record cleaner and one of those felted brush implements that you had to run along the vinyl just so, and not cross any of the tracks; all the way into at least 1997, but he did.  And he still used it all.  He even had an enormous mixing board with wooden panels on each side.  He never really divorced himself from broadcasting, or at least playing around with all the things related to such work... well... until he did, but that was a completely different story, and one I won't bore you with now.

He would make these mixed tapes that would start out on vinyl, then Teac reel to reel, and eventually end up in cassette form, for the car.  At least he didn't have to worry about losing his music, I guess.

Yes, you read that right.  My dad liked his music in triplicate.

And people wonder why I'm such a goddamned freak.

Anyway, someone mentioned "All Night Long", today.  I... never really liked that song, but it does remind me of a certain time when my family lived in a spot where we would have to drive past a mortuary every day, as we exited the freeway.  I hated that place, once I knew what it was.  Gave me the creeps.  It would haunt my dreams, night after night.  For months.  I became obsessed enough that I had to learn all about the process of morgue corpse, to... embalmed corpse.  I think I spent about half a year on this.  I wish I were exaggerating here.  I'm not.

Did you know they stuff things up your butt when you die?  I did at age 10.  Oddly, this comforted me, as I realized at least my ass wouldn't leak anything into my casket for all eternity.

There was also a disturbing pool of some sort of suspicious liquid in the back of the building.  It could be seen, just as you got onto the freeway exit.  I was sure it was meant for pure evil, and... you know, not at all a source of recreation for the family who owned the mortuary and lived upstairs from it.  I could not actually see the pool, but I could see the  reflections of the aforementioned suspicious liquid dance on the side of the building, as it moved.  I once asked my dad why that was there, and he told me that it was where they dumped all of the blood... while Lionel Richie sang about partying all night long in the street.

I guess I cared enough about Lionel to think this: "Be careful, Lionel."

I got curious and looked at the mortuary on Google Maps.  It is still there, but the pool has been filled in.  No more dumping of the bloods.  Ah, well.

-H

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Everybody said it was a shame, 'cause her mama was a workin' on a chain gang...

This is actually a recipe post, and it's not about Poke Sallit.  But I did make some salad with pork, and it was pretty damn good, if you like spicy and tangy things.  It's... not really southern, either, but the song still ran through my head while I was making it, because pork was involved, which, yes, I know is not poke.  This doesn't make any sense!  Well?  Guess what?  It doesn't have to make sense, because I just don't care if it does.  It's just... what happened, OK??  Did I mention I'm basically a Porketarian?  Anyway, just... whatever.  I'm going to share that recipe now.


Ingredients:

3 decent sized thick-cut pork chops.
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
4 big fat sexy limes
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 heart of romaine
4-5 serrano chiles
1 avocado
1 yellow onion, halved, then thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place pork chops in a baking dish with pats of butter underneath.  Salt with big, crunchy flakes of sea salt, and grind fresh pepper over the tops.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top.  Flip, and salt/pepper the other side.  Bake again, for about the same amount of time.

Just before taking out the chops, squeeze your sexy assed limes, and then add your garlic and cumin to the juice.

Once you have removed your chops from the oven, allow them to rest for about 5-10 minutes, and then slice them into thin strips.  Add this to your juice, and chill for 2-3 hours.  Doing this while the meat is still hot, will make for tangier strips, but you can also add the lime juice to cold chops, and they will still be good.  You can probably also marinate the meat overnight in this juice, and grill the chops.  If you do this, though, be sure to discard your lime juice once you cook the chops, and make a bit more of this fine mixture to go over them when they are finished cooking.

At the time you are ready for your salad, dice your avocado, and slice your onion, cilantro, and chiles.  Add the last three ingredients to your chilled pork strips, and toss.  If you are serving small children, leave the chiles to the side.  Let that sit for a few minutes, while you chop your romaine heart.  Serve over the romaine, with avocado on top.

Serves 4-5.



Thursday, February 12, 2015

One size does not fit all.

Last night, as I was flossing, I got stuck.  Horribly stuck.  Try as I might, I could not get the floss to come back out from between my molars.  I sawed back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, tugging in a gentle upward motion, until I broke the damn floss. 

Twice. 

It would go in, but it would not come back out!  I had no idea what to do, because it was bedtime, I was exhausted, had already removed my bra, and didn't want to go to the damn store, just for better floss that wouldn't do this.

I started freaking out at this point, because the third time, was NOT a charm.  The minute gap between my molars was filling up with floss that had meant well, but kept dying on the rocks, before what should have been a safe return.  Yeah... no such luck.

At this point, I noticed that not only was the gap full, it was also starting to push on all of my other teeth.  I had the worst vision of all of my periodontal bones shifting slightly to the right, and jumping ship, in the night, AND I WOULD DIE BECAUSE I WAS GOING TO CHOKE TO DEATH ON THEM!

Man overboard!!!  Or... man aspirated!  Either way, AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

I ran into the bedroom, crying at Mr. Hed, who goes:  "Dude, calm down.  We may have to go to the store, but we'll get it figured out.  Do you want one of my plastic flossers from the basement?"

I looked down at my fingers that looked like they had been sawed in half, all the way around, at this point, because the floss had made that much of a dent in them.  "Uh, yes, please?"

He runs downstairs, and I frantically look through the drawers of my vanity, because sometimes I stash odds and ends from dental visits in the bottom right drawer, for those times in-between boxes of floss.  I also keep floss in my purse, because you just never know when you are going to be out and about and have to deal with something annoying between your teeth.

And even with all of this, I forget that I have any of it, in the moment, because that moment is nothing but SHEER PANIC, DOOM, AND ALL OF MY TEETH ARE GOING TO JUMP OUT OF MY MOUTH RIGHT NOW!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS?

I may have a compulsion that I forget I have, when I need to have it.  I suppose I might look into that, someday.  Some part of that is worth examining, 'non?  Who can tell?

Anyway, I did manage to find a small box of glide floss in my drawer.  I felt a little bad about this, but before Mr. Hed could return from the basement, I had the situation completely resolved.  But well?  I felt the need to ask, anyway, because it never hurts to have backup in case of a dental hygiene emergency:  "Did you find one?"

"Yeah.  Here."

"Oh, OK.  Well, I don't need it now, but you know, just in case, we'll have one up here, in case some real shit goes down."

Because, you never know.  One minute, you could be flossing happily, and humming to yourself, and the next, you could be waking up the neighbourhood.

-H


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Oh soup... don't go changin'...

I like you soup.  Just the way you are.

So, I made this soup tonight.  Got the idea from the internets, but the recipes I found, seemed a bit boring, so I livened it up a bit.

It's got cauliflower in it, so if you aren't a fan, this is probably where you can stop reading.

There had been talk recently of cauliflower/tahini soup.  I was intrigued.  I've used tahini in the past, but usually for more traditional foods, like Baba Ganoush, and Hummus.  In a soup?  Not so much, but I figured it would be good.  Just cauliflower, stock, onions, and tahini sounded pretty great, to me.  Sounded... well?  Nice.  And easy.
And I'd like to do that for you.  But you see?  I never, ever do nuthin' nice.  And easy.

And this soup?  No exception. 

All right, I'll get to the recipe now.

You will need:

Stock pot. 
Immersion blender, or blender tolerant of heat.  A vitamix would probably also work fine.
Decent vegetable knife/cutting board
Roasting pan


Ingredients:

2 tbsps butter
1 tbsp butter for sauteeing.
1 head cauliflower, cut into even pieces, and spread out over a roasting pan
1 pint of your favourite stock.  I used pork, but you could also use beef, lamb, chicken, or vegetable.
1 onion, diced.
1 cup tahini
1 can coconut milk
3-4 lemons, juiced; zest of one lemon.
1 tablespoon Vadouvan curry powder
1 bunch cilantro, chopped.

Method:

Preheat oven to 350. 

Melt butter.  Chop cauliflower into even pieces, and spread out over a roasting pan.  Drizzle butter over the tops of the cauliflower, and roast in oven for about 20-30 minutes.  I like the tops to be brown, but not burned. 

Once the cauliflower has come out of the oven, dice your onion, and sautee until caramelized, but not crispy.  Add stock, and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except the cauliflower and cilantro.  Stir and simmer, another 3-5 minutes.  Be sure, when you are doing this, that you do it over a relatively low, to medium heat.  You don't want the coconut milk to curdle, because once that happens?  There's no coming back from that.  Trust me.  It's very sad, when it happens.  You will cry.  Or you may throw things, depending on what kind of day you've had.

Remove from stove, and add cauliflower.  Blend.

Add chopped cilantro, and blend, again; enough to make the soup colourful, but not enough to bruise the cilantro.  Be sure you chop it well enough that it doesn't get tangled in your immersion blender.  That's not really all that sexy.

Serve, and prepare to be dazzled.

-H

Thursday, October 10, 2013

My little commentary on social media, and why I will be cutting back.

Why is it so important to be happy every day of the world?  I have been examining my life lately, and while most of it is great, I am one of the pathetic masses that seems to have gotten sucked into social media, to a fault.  I have such a love/hate dichotomy with it, really.  I love feeling connected to my peers, but I hate the comparison and envy play that goes with it.

I know this is definitely more the rule than the exception, and hear plenty of supporting evidence when I talk to other people who seem to be experiencing the same bizarre phenomenon.  I get so bitter when I hear about people getting together without me, or spending money on outings, shows, and date nights constantly, or buying the latest, greatest things money can buy.  I find all of it very irritating, and yet, I can't stop reading about it!

I will admit it is an addiction.  It is one of those addictive behaviours that many think serves them, but in reality just sort of erodes their well-being.  A friend pointed out yesterday that she read an article about how the happiest cities also seem to have the highest rates of suicide.

Why?  Comparison.

It is evil.  It truly is.  Seeing what the "haves" are able to do, when you are stuck at home, and can barely afford the gas to go about your daily life; let alone that extra trip across town just to hang out with people?  It's really fucking depressing; in and of itself.  We all have different circumstances.  It's true.  I should be grateful for what I have. I have plenty, really.  But when comparison is in play?  That goes right out the window.

I think, for me, it is time to figure out how to make a life involving less social media, and more actual socialization.

Maybe I need to focus on only using social media as a means of promoting art and let the rest of it go. It is going to be tricky, because I have allowed it to be my main source of connection for way too long, but it is a false prophet, for sure.  It is not an accurate depiction of anyone's life.  Most don't even see their lives for what they really are, when they are that glued to a screen, and tuned into everyone else; an "everyone else" that they may not even know that well, or may have never even met in person.

And good fucking Christ!   Some of the people you meet in that way are TERRIBLE real life communicators!  They don't do face-to-face well, and prefer facebook as a means of communicating and connection.  They even post there constantly while hanging out together, about things only the people sitting right there understand; barely looking up from their phones at times, and joking away on their walls with one another. 

WHY???  No.  Really.  WHY???

 Do they understand how annoying that is to anyone else who might be tuned in at that time?  It does not make them look more attractive, or intelligent, sought after, or anything.  It just makes them look like people who can't seem to function any other way, or that they have to prove that they do actually get off of their asses and see people face to face... sort of.  Or, they are just showing off.  Whatever it is, it's obnoxious.

I am not referring to photos of events, or fun little happenings, per-se.  I am, however, referring to the little inside jokes that only the people sitting across from one another, understand.  I, along with quite a few people I know, see it as sort of a neener-neener approach to alienation, and honestly?  Yeah, it works.

And online communication can be frustrating, as well.  People are often terse, short, rude, and sometimes even openly hostile, because there is no immediate consequence.  There is no one sitting there with them, ready to slap them in the face.  It's safer.  You can take on any affect that you think might suit you, because you see it working for someone else.  Yeah... no.  Honestly?  It probably isn't working as well as you think it is for that person.  And if you are doing it, bear in mind that sadly, the person you are writing to, is still a human being, regardless of what you might be looking at.  You see words and a screen.  You think you are being brilliant, witty, and smart, but there is no way to actually read the tone, or mood of the person you are supposedly communicating with.  You aren't actually connecting at all, and you may very well be hurting someone pretty deeply with your careless communication style.

Furthering that, I have noticed people who will say that they are straight shooters, and tell it like it is.  That's fine.  Do that, but for fuck's sake, figure out a way to do it so you don't sound like an asshole.  Find words that tell the truth without digging in and causing pain.  Not everyone is in a place where they can receive that sort of thing well.  You can certainly do that without being terse.  If you disagree, you should probably examine your intentions, because chances are?  You won't be heard if you choose to be a terse asshole.  In that case?  You are busy serving yourself, rather than your audience.  What I am referring to, is called non-violent communication.  Look into it.  Know your audience.  Stop alienating people.

As for actual effects on my own well-being, besides all of this;  I have noticed is that my own brain gets so foggy, and distracted, distractable, and then irritable when I spend too much time reading social media.  I can't really imagine it being that different for others, and yet, I know some people who are online... all the live long day!  Scrolling through the feeds, I often skip something if it looks like it's too long.  Sometimes my eyes stop focusing altogether.  What am I even doing then?  I almost find it to be the antithesis of stimulating.  I really do feel stupider, and also find it harder to cope with every day situations because I feel like I know too much about people I honestly barely know.  And dear reader:  some of those things?  They frighten me!

Yes.  False intimacy.  It works both ways.  We find out all sorts of interesting tidbits about people we probably wouldn't even know well enough to name and say hello to on the street, and vice-versa.  When we share things in this way, we are sharing with everyone, and no one... because how can we remember everyone on our friend list?

I suppose we all want connection and this is a way to feel closer without actually getting closer, because closer is scary.  Because when we actually speak face to face, topics change.  It feels less safe, because truthfully, there was never a proper foundation built for this level of intimacy.  It is why I don't share a great amount about my life on my Facebook wall.

Want to actually get to know me?  Let's go do something.  Let's actually talk.

Otherwise, it just feels weird.  Also, with people you don't have this foundation with?  You need to be prepared for their reactions to what you have to say.  It isn't something you will ever be able to predict.  We all come from different spaces and backgrounds.  We have all had different influences.  Our perceptions are coloured by our unique experiences.  So often, when someone I barely know says they are an open book, and are keeping things real; sharing VERY intimate things with everyone they have accepted a friend request from and vice versa, I feel a little scared, and worried about that person.  I also often step back and wonder why they felt the need to tell me something so deeply intimate without actually knowing me, or anyone else that well.  There is such a thing as too much, too soon, at times.  I already know too much about my immediates!

But I suppose there are some good things about it.  I know a lot of funny people.  I get access to some cool things I may not have known about, otherwise.  I get to share funny things I see and hear, as well as my art.

Not everyone I have gotten to know from a distance has been annoying to me.  In fact, there have been cases in which I have enjoyed getting to know quite a few people in this way, and really would love to some day, be able to hang out in person, but distance keeps us apart, so it has to wait.  That's all fine.

It does act as a tool for communication at times... I have gained business, I have planned fun little outings and events, I have really enjoyed a lot of it, hence the dichotomy.  But... I sure can't spend my whole life on it.

And with that, I'm going to go buy some booze and hang out with a friend.

-H


Modern Life -- a poetic tale of disconnection.

- Modern Life -

In this day and age- 
People have access to what they need;
Sort of.
People connect; 
Sort of.
People fall in love; 
Sort of.

If you live in a city, 
you really need no one.
Why?
Because you have everyone;
Sort of.

You are never stranded;
there is a bus.
You are never hungry;
there are shops and restaurants.

 You have community; 
Sort of.
It may be conditional, but if you do as as they say;
play their games; 
don't challenge them too much;
don't question their actions, motives, or sanity;
You may have friends for life.

Be normal-
Follow-
Hope that what you are following actually serves you.
If it doesn't?
Keep following anyway,
because it's better than being alone;
because doing anything else is too scary.

Doing anything else will piss people off
Don't rock that boat.
Don't cause drama
Curl up into your shell, where it is safe.

Die there, unnoticed.

Much safer, that way.
 

-H