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Archive for September, 2012

Ode to chicken

On the first day of chicken my grocery sold to me… one rotisserie chicken. (You may need two for a larger family.)   Cut, serve, yum yum.

On the second (and maybe 3rd) day of chicken my leftovers gave to me…  stirfry, salad topping, wrap filler, chicken salad, etc.

On the third day of chicken my last bits of leftover chicken meat gave to me… soup.  (I love this part.)  Nobody wants your stupid old leftover chicken anymore?  Have some hearty vegetables on hand (squashes, carrots or yams work well).  Cook those veggies with some onion and celery. If you’re tired, pressed for time, or too hot, use the microwave. Now stick what’s left of the chicken meat into your Vitamix (you’ve got a Vitamix, right?) and add the veggies, just enough water to make the mixture move easily, salt and pepper, whatever seasonings you like, and crushed garlic.  Vitamix it for 3-5 minutes. It will heat up from the friction (a cool trick that you can’t do with most mixers, but the Vitamix has an industrial grade motor). Last thing to add: a bit of heavy cream, within 5 minutes of serving. (Optional: Stick that all in a large saucepan and keep warm. Fool your family into thinking that it took hours to make when they see the big pot.)  Call it creamed-something without the word “chicken.”

On the fourth day of chicken, the carcass gave to me…  Bone broth.  Keep a large ziplock bag in your freezer and put the chicken carcass in it. When you have 2-3 carcasses stored up put them in your slow cooker. (You have a slow cooker, right?)  Add “mirepoix:”  carrots, celery & onion. I like to add parsley and garlic as well. Very important: Add 1/4 C apple cider vinegar to create an acidic environment, which will  leach the calcium from the bones.  Set to “low.”  This next part will be hard for some people:  let it cook for a day or two.  Strain out the liquid from the pot and freeze it in pint jars.  It makes a highly nutritious base for soups, or drink it when you are sick.

Speaking of chickens, I’ve been reading Joel Salatin’s book about farming, food politics and ecology: “Folks, This Ain’t Normal.” I highly recommend it.  You won’t agree with everything he says, but what would be the fun of that?  I have learned a lot by reading it, and it has given me a lot to think about. The method with which most chickens are raised today is barbaric and disgusting. Salatin’s methods are inspiring and humane.

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Things are finally starting to cool down a bit. I was so excited about the rain last weekend that I celebrated by starting a little scarf in autumn colors. Here’s to crisp nights, pretty trees, and all things pumpkin-flavored.

The stitch pattern is “seafoam,” though I’ve seen it called other things.  The yarn is Malabrigo Rios.

I am ready to put the ridiculously dry “Indian summer” behind me, forgive Mother Nature for her cruelty, and move on. Let’s do Autumn now.  And if Mother Nature wants to make it up to me, she will make this season last “too long” as well. 🙂

Fall colors on Gilman Blvd. in Issaquah WA, 2011

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I used to think QE2 was an ocean liner. (Sigh) Those were the good old days.  But we may be “taken for a ride” just the same.

QE3 (same as QE2 but with higher fares) is a scheme in which “the Fed” is going to print up lots and lots of dollars to “stimulate the economy!”

“The Fed” is, of course, The Federal Reserve, a privately owned institution with a government-protected monopoly over printing money. (A bunch of bankers, in other words, led by Mr. Ben Bernanke, who was never elected to this or any other position of power over the fate of our nation.)

This is the sort of brilliant policy they used to use in Zimbabwe, before their economy totally collapsed.  And how very stimulating it was! Milk for $24 billion, bread not cheap either. (That second link describes a theft during which a man who was pushing a wheelbarrow full of paper money was attacked. The thieves left the paper and took the wheelbarrow.)

Going grocery shopping in Zimbabwe, 2008.  

 

I swear I am not making this up. It’s called hyperinflation, and it tends to happen in countries that decide to use pretend — uh, I mean paper money to solve their problems, like Brazil in the 1980s.

What is wrong in this picture?  Duh! The shameless waste of paper!  How many forests must die in our quest to ruin the US economy?  I have a much better idea…

Introducing Gravel, Pebbles, Rocks, my new economic plan for a great future. GPR for short.  (Later versions can be called GPR2 and GPR3!)

Under GPR, people who need money will go outside and get it off the ground, or “mine” it if the ground where they live has been picked clean.  No more chopping down trees for dollars.

The monetary denominations will be simple: gravel for buying small items, then pebbles (2-5 gravels=1 pebble, negotiable), and rocks will be used for your bigger purchases. Need more? Go get it! Hard work has always been the cornerstone (no pun intended) of wealth.

And it is very egalitarian. Everyone can get some economic stimulus! Think about it… water is hard to exchange (pesky spills and evaporation), and sticks and twigs are not available in all parts of the world, but GPR can benefit everyone!

Furthermore, it totally cuts out the “middle man.”  We won’t have to Occupy Wall Street anymore. We can just break it up with pick axes.

I ask you, why should flooding our society with paper money be any better than using rocks?

 

Come to think of it, money was once made of rocks. I think they called it “gold.”

 

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OK. Two months of sunshine is not that much. But I’m done. I want this to end. I want rain. I want to wear sweaters.

Unless you are a very close friend, you will not hear me talk this way to your face.  “Isn’t it nice out?” “Yep. It’s grand. Let’s grill something!”

I won’t rain on your parade. But this is my blog and I can cry if I want to. So no, it’s not nice out. It’s bloody hot and dry and if I liked it so much I would live in California.

Sorry. Little tantrum. But evidently Mother Nature is on my side. In fact, she is burning up about this.  Literally. 

In this picture, taken last week, we see the smoke beginning to flow in from the east. The 100+ wildfires on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains were sparked by lightening on September 8 and the smoke just keeps on coming.

Clouds of smoke, from fires far away

In the count-your-blessings department, at least my back yard is not on fire.  But can we please have a bit of rain soon?

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Ho, ho, ho! No?

Mr. K and I still crack up over a piece of junk mail we once got that proclaimed, “Don’t forget! The holidays are coming!”  Yeah. People forget it all the time, don’t they?  They wake up one frosty, late-November morning, and — in spite of having seen 4 million Christmas decorations in the past 3 weeks — they smack their foreheads, exclaiming, “Crap! I forgot that the holidays are coming!”

Well, the big dude in the red suit never catches us harpists unawares.  While the rest of Puget Sound looks forward to more warm weather this week, we harpists have already filled our music stands with all things holly and jolly.

There is just one problem: warm weather means open windows. Yes, dear neighbors and passersby, that is Silent Night wafting your way.  Bring the sunscreen, Jeanette Isabella!

As I run through Still, Still, Still the irony comes into focus: my life seems busier than ever this year. And that is why I will do myself a favor and add only one new holiday piece to my repertoire in 2012.  Only one. You cannot imagine how much will power that takes for me. When it comes to new music I’m like an easily distracted toddler on Christmas morning: I want all the toys songs!

But I’m making it onto the Nice list for sure this year, with my early-bird work ethic and my self-control. After careful deliberation and reading through lots and lots and lots! of new songs (no! bad harpist! bad!),  the winner is… Christmases When You Were Mine by Taylor Swift, quite possibly the most melancholy holiday song since Judy Garland sang that we’d “have to muddle through somehow… ” Do I watch that movie every year, and know what is coming, and cry myself silly anyway? Yes. I do.

Christmases When You Were Mine is cut from the same cloth:

I’ve been doing fine without you, really
Up until the nights got cold
And everybody’s here, except you, baby
Seems like everyone’s got someone to hold…

One wants a bit of depressing nostalgia in December, to counterbalance the sugar high and the songs about Santa, don’t you think?

I like to believe it is that same need for Balance In The Universe that makes practicing holiday music in September so gratifying. Even if my neighbors think I’m nuts.

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“Oh, there you are, Albus,” he said. “You’ve been a very long time. Upset stomach?” 
“No, I was merely reading the Muggle magazines,” said Dumbledore. “I do love knitting patterns…”
from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J.K. Rowling

I do too.  Especially the ones with the good photography and the elegant, slender models. There is just one teensy problem.  If it’s some kind of sweater garment you want to knit (as opposed to a scarf, hat or socks), the chances of it actually fitting are slimmer than that cute model.  And I don’t have a magic wand to wish it into shape.

For years, I’ve done what I suspect thousands of other knitters have done: follow the pattern as best as you can, and ignore the ill-fitting bodice, the too-long sleeves, or the odd bulges of fabric where heaven-knows-what was supposed to fit in.

Occasionally, we “do a mod.”  (Slang for modification.) Oh, the daring knitter that strays from the pattern, in hopes of waist shaping that matches her own!

If doing a mod is like your dog sneaking a treat off the table, what I’ve been doing lately is more like the dog who gets out of the house altogether and is running madly throughout the neighborhood in a giddy revelry of freedom.

I… am… drafting! From scratch! From measurements!  With cool tools! And math calculations! And special paper!

I am learning how to draft my own patterns from a friend who is taking multi-year course called Nihon Vogue (Japanese knitwear design and finishing techniques).   My own lessons are just a fraction of what she has learned, but it’s enough to wonder if I’ll ever use commercial garment patterns again.  If I do use patterns, I’ll probably “mod” them beyond recognition.  Transfiguration a la Hogwarts.

How is it going?  I couldn’t be happier.  It is not “easy.” …I have dozens of pages of notes, which must be consulted constantly for all the details, but everything I’ve made so far is lovely and fits perfectly.  No more wonky sweaters! So far I’ve made a vest, a pullover, and a tank-top. On the needles: a cardigan. On the drafting table: a pullover for the Mr.

In Weather News…

We may get back up to the 80’s this week, as summer hangs on like a pit bull.  It “always rains in Seattle”? Today is the 44th straight day without measurable rainfall.  Although we are flirting with the record (51 days), this dry, warm spell is typical for July-Sept. Being a lover of all things cloudy and foggy, I struggle to get through this every year.  At least the nights are cooling off.  Temperature at the start of my run this morning: 46F.  Ahh….

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