Dinner just got served.

Last night, while chatting with my good friend and champion Dawg Boy, Titan of Industry (ToI), he was being pinged for a meet up with another charter member of the Dawg Boy posse, SR.  ToI was in range on business, and SR had been hoping to instigate some Dawg-Boyedness.

Being a responsible Titan, ToI sent him an e-mail, begging off, saying he had far too much work to do, and needed to just grab a bite and get to work…

daisyfae:  You know, he’s totally going to call you out as a pussy…

i heard ToI bust out laughing just a few minutes later…

daisyfae:  What is it?

ToI:  SR just sent me a reply “You’re such a pussy…”.  You called it… 

He then set about crafting the perfect reply…

ToI [via e-mail to SR]:  You are what you eat… Dick.

What cookies?

It’s been an unpleasant and slow slog, but i’ve managed to evaporate about 35 pounds since January.  On average, a pound a week.  Not great, not terrible.  But i’ve “plateaued” for a few weeks, and have been trying hard to jump start the weight loss again with lots of exercise and careful attention to diet.

That means no fucking cookies.

Having The Girl living with me again has had some benefits.  i haven’t had to go to the grocery in about two months.  She gets food.  She prepares it and leaves tasty vegetarian scraps in the refrigerator.  Much like Christmas morning, i am often delighted with the yummy green and crunchy* things wrapped in cellophane in the fridge some mornings…

The downside is that she also bakes, or brings home, sweets on occasion.  i have no willpower.   i eat them.  They don’t put up a fight.

Last night, she got home rather late, and i’d just finished my crunching and push-ups workout and was getting ready for bed.  i heard the crackling of the packaging before i smelled them… Oatmeal Chocolate Chips Ahoy!  Not a favorite, but definitely something that would serve as a tasty bedtime snack!

Keeping it to just two small cookies, when i could easily gnaw my way through the entire package in a few short minutes, i instructed her to get them out of sight by morning.

daisyfae:  Hide them!  The last thing i need is to wake up and find these on the counter in the morning…

Upon waking up, and successfully scratching my bits, i found myself in the kitchen.  The debris from her late night dinner was evident, as there were a few pots and pans and other assorted cooking crap piled in the sink, and some clutter and mess on the counter.  Still asleep, but attempting to make tea, i reached for the pile of paper towels left in front of the microwave – and realized just then what a brilliant young woman she’s become…

What's this mess on the counter

Upon closer inspection…

clever trick

Ahhh…. the old “hide in plain sight” trick.  Not exactly what i had in mind…  They survived the morning, but probably only because i’m battling the headcoldfromhell and with 5 pounds of lugubrious secretions inside my head, i couldn’t even taste the damn things. 

Need to get her a spot on the UN Weapons Inspection Team.  Bet they’d never get anything past her…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* Not to be confused with the “green and slimy” things that tend to set up residence in the fridge when i’m left on my own for a few months…

Fill ‘er up!

When my niece’s husband, BJ, broke his back in a work-related accident last year, their sole source of income was encased in a back brace and told to stay horizontal for about three months. Rather than send flowers and chocolates, i offered to take their grocery list to the store when i was in town taking care of something for Mom.

It seemed a reasonable list for a family of four for a week. Bread. Milk. Eggs. Orange Juice. Bologna. American Cheese slices. Generic (store-brand) cereal. Breakfast pastries and granola bars. Baby food for the one-year old. Pound of hamburger. Tortillas, a can of cooked chicken, salsa and shredded cheese. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. A bag of frozen mixed vegetables… Several more items that are considered ‘staples’ for many families. No soda. No beer. No snack foods. But also no fresh vegetables or fruit.

Carefully scavenging through the center of the grocery store, which isn’t familiar territory for me, i found each item on the list. With a shopping cart that was almost full to the top, i was stunned when the total bill for the groceries was $80. “Eight plastic shopping bags full of food for about $10/bag? That can’t be right?” On the rare occasions i do go shopping, i spend at least that much and carry home half as many bags. What the fuck?

Didn’t think much more about it until i saw “Food, Inc.” a few weeks ago. Corn is cheap. Corn is filling. Corn is in damn near everything we eat. No shortage of alarming articles on this topic are out there, but the best source of info i’ve found so far seems to be a book by Michael Pollan (2006) Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.  Corn products include: ketchup, cheese, Twinkies, batteries, peanut butter, Cheez-Its, salad dressings, Coke, jelly, Sweet & Low, syrup, juice, Kool-Aid, charcoal, diapers, Motrin, meat and fast food. It is also the main ingredient in animal feed, so it’s in damn near every bit of meat in the supermarket.

A food additive? You bet! Cellulose, Xylitol, Maltodextrin, Ethylene, Gluten, Fibersol-2, Citrus Cloud Emulsion, Inosital, Fructose, Calcium Stearate, Saccharin, Sucrose, Sorbital, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Citric Acid, Di-glycerides, Semolina, Sorbic Acid, Alpha Tocopherol, Ethyl Lactate, Polydextrose, Xantham Gum, White Vinegar, Ethel Acetate, Fumaric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Baking Powder, Zein, Vanilla Extract, Margarine, and Starch. According to the US Department of Agriculture “Corn acreage in the United States has increased from a government-mandated low of 60.2 million planted acres in 1983 [to 87 million in 2009] due to provisions in the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996.“

Never mind that agricultural science has engineered the snot out of our current mutant corn species, and yields are about double per acre over where they were a fifty years ago. It’s a helluva lot cheaper to eat a corn-based diet, whether through cheap grain-fed beef in fast food (“Hey, Give me my fucking 99 cent tacos!”) or filling bags of starchy and mysterious “frooty loopettes”.

No real mystery that my niece is edging up well above 300 pounds, and her fourteen year old daughter is wearing “Huskaroos” from the teen shop… For the price of a dozen tacos at the drive through, you can buy a head of lettuce, 3 apples and stalk of broccoli. And guess which is gonna fill up a family of four better?

So the next time BJ breaks his back and i have a chance to do some grocery shopping for them, i might pick up a cookbook and a few more fresh items. We’ve simply made it too cheap and easy to eat shitty food…

What’s that room for again?

It’s not that i can’t cook.  It’s just that i don’t.  Managing my caloric intake aggressively since January* further reduces the amount of time i spend in my kitchen.  My offspring are used to this, having encountered the empty pantry on more than one occasion. 

While i was out of town last weekend, there were two disasters at the homestead.  The first was an electrical short in an exterior electrical outlet.  That was pretty serious, and the servicing electrician suggested that it could have led to a major garage fire.  Got that fixed earlier this week.  Oh, and replaced all of the batteries in the smoke detectors just in case…

The second issue was the unexpected demise of the microwave oven.  i was relaxed and happy upon return from my second vacation in as many weeks, and wasn’t particularly worried about it.  Especially considering that the house didn’t burn down due to “Near Disaster #1”.  Replacing the microwave wasn’t at the top of my priority list.

Yesterday afternoon, however, i realized just how handicapped i am without that magical invention.  The simple process of making jello shots?  Requires boiling water.  Since the microwave was deader than a stump, i had to resort to figuring out how to turn on my stove and boil water.  In a pan?   Disruptive to my “jello shot fabrication process” to say the least… 

With both of the offspring camping out here this weekend, they were just as lost in the kitchen.  My position was that since there was absolutely nothing edible, nor cookable, in the house, it didn’t matter anyway.  Sound logic, i thought.  But The Girl picked up a cheap microwave while out running errands.  Should hold us over until i get the in-wall unit replaced… eventually. 

After putzing around a bit, she and i later dashed off to the grocery to pick up a few things**.  Unloading our purchases, we managed to restock the fridge, freezer and pantry – even throwing out the expired eggs and a few unrecognizable, shriveled green things mutating aggressively in the nether-fridge. 

The Boy emerged from The Man Cave and was astonished to find activity in the kitchen.  “What?  There’s not only food, but something to cook it with?  Have I emerged into a parallel universe?”

Duuuuude! Stay out of my CD collection....

Duuuuude! Stay out of my CD collection....

*25 pounds gone, 20 more to vaporize…

** She has been given the task of creating a “signature cocktail” for the upcoming wedding of a friend, and needed liquor, fruit and juices for experimentation… In the end?  A concoction of Chambord, Amaretto, Crown Royal and Cranberry Juice – spritzed with club soda – won the competition!  Two drinks later?  i’m thinking we should name it “Fuck Cooking!  Kitchens are for Distillation”, but that’s too long for the name of a drink…

Guinea Pig – it’s what’s for supper

A key element of travel is to experience the local cuisine – try new things!  And in this part of South America, that means Guinea Pig (“cuy”).  i’ve had them as pets, adore the little fur-balls, and struggled with the concept, but wanted to dive in and experience South America.  One of the locals pointed out that they have names for the Guinea Pigs here – “Monday, Tuesday, Saturday….”.  They are food, pure and simple. 

At a restaurant in Cuzco, i had the opportunity to taste cuy.  As i pulled a small piece of meat off the tiny, fish-like bones, i just let myself forget about the “ranch” i used to manage.  It didn’t taste bad.  Maybe a bit gamey, and strong.  Commenting that it was unlike anything i’d ever tasted, my travelmate, LP, said “It’s a rodent.  Have you ever eaten rodent before?”.  Choking down the last bit, i decided to leave the rest for the others…

If you know your Incan history, they were “conquered” by Pizarro in the mid-1500’s.  With assistance of germs, of course… The local people eventually accepted Catholicism, but not without some resistance.  Indiginous artists were employed to create artwork for the new cathedrals, and apparently liked to sneak in subliminal (and not so subliminal) messages.  To make the new religion more real to the natives, traditional Christian art would incorporate local flavor – and nowhere is this more evident than in a version of The Last Supper, found in the Cathedral in Cuzco.

Until i visited Cuzco, i had no idea that Jesus and his disciples feasted on roast guinea pig.  Who knew? 

There are other things about this version of The Last Supper that are curious as well.  Notice Judas in the lower right hand corner.  The artist chose to make him look like Francisco Pizarro, Spanish conquistador over the Incas.  He’s holding a small bag of coins in his hand under the table – and from just the right angle, it even appears that he’s pleasuring himself.*

Talk about culture clash… i wonder if ol’ Pizarro had any idea he’d be making tourists giggle 500 years later?

______

* Naturally, i was the first one to notice, but once i enthusiastically pointed it out to my travel mates, they all agreed.  Maybe just to get me to shut up…

Sevilla sangria…

Sevilla is beautiful… getting settled in, working through some connectivity issues at casa az, but nursemyra and i managed to work through our siesta, and crafted the first set of double corset friday pics…  a teaser below the break.

WARNING – if you might potentially need therapy, suffer emotional or mental damage, or lose your ability to concentrate in meetings should you glimpse daisyfae in her neon party-gear, then please, for the love of all that is decent, do NOT read below the break.

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Donut Magic

It’s been a bumpy week. Sleep has been limited, work/home activities have kept me hopping like a fire walking rabbit on crystal meth*. After a long day in The Park on Tuesday, i had to run two workshops on Wednesday and Thursday (small – room fulla crazies on Wednesday, large – room fulla geeks on Thursday). i was woefully unprepared for both…

But one little bit of preparation for the Thursday event paid big dividends. On my way home from work Wednesday evening, i realized that i had a million other things to do – and wouldn’t be able to condense my excrement into shape for the 3 hour meeting on Thursday. i stopped at the grocery store.

There they were – shimmering under the glare of the fluorescent lighting. Wet, but not wet. They called to me… And what did they say?

“MMMMMmmmm…. Geeks love donuts…..”

Rather than pull an all nighter, preparing for a meeting that i was in no mood to be running, i simply loaded my cart, headed onward to deal with other matters.  i managed to be in bed shortly after midnight. That 5:30 am alarm was a bit early, but playing ‘drag ass’ into the office before 7:00 am, i was able to slap together a workable agenda, print out some shit that made it look like i knew what the hell i was doing, and even put some charts together, just in case the Chief Scientist wanted to say a few words…

The attendees started to trickle in** just before 9:00 am, and had happy little faces when they spied the sugary goodness parked on a table in the back of the room – next to a giant urn of coffee. Not exactly smiles, but that “raised eyebrow of unexpected minor delight” look.

The Chief Scientist liked what i prepared, and presented the information as if he’d personally coughed up every word onto the screen.  So far, so good.  After tasking three unsuspecting (and equally unprepared) tech advisers to lead the “break out” sessions, i headed off to the ladies room, and managed a nice, relaxing “constitutional”***

i spent the rest of the morning wandering around, bullshitting with friends in the hallways as i randomly dropped in on the three groups – well, two of the groups, since i never did figure out where the third one went for their discussions, giving me further excuse to wander the building and bullshit with people in the hallways.

Wrapped things up nicely with reports from all three groups by noon, and was off to the next round of afternoon meetings – hosting visitors who would be giving two seminars.  Since it was short notice, and i’d not personally taken the time to recruit attendees to fill the seats, i did the next best thing…  Put out cookies…

Mmmmmmm...... Eat me......

* yeah. i know. not a great analogy, but it’s been a long fucking week, already! give me a break!

** better that they “trickled in” than “trickled on”. i had an elderly employee who sometimes did that…

***  sorry.  but yes, women actually shit.  not quite the defecation artists that men can be, but sometimes it’s nice to take your time and do it right… not sitting and sorting through the mail, sending e-mail on the ‘berry, or arranging home repairs via telephone.

A little game called “food safety”

Growing up in the Great Depression drove Mom into Mega-Packrat Overdrive.  None of us worried about international logistical meltdown and food shortages as the “Y2K” crisis loomed.  Mom had enough food stored to feed a small European nation*.  Not to mention toilet paper, light bulbs, cat litter and Tupperware containers from the 1960’s.  We weren’t scared.  The bunker was ready.

There is, however, the challenge of the “use by” date.  Mom’s definition of “it’s still good” is a liberal interpretation to say the least**.  We generally exercise caution when going on a “munchie expedition” in the house.  This is complicated by the fact that we were raised on junk food and candy, and even as adults, will instinctively root through the house as soon as we enter, our little “lizard brains” forcing us to seek sugary, chocolaty goodness.  Not unlike zombies on a quest for tasty brains.

Today, upon return from the cardiologist, both T and i were in full “munchie” overdrive.  She went through all the usual candy hiding places, but came up empty.  Between DQ, Jr discovering most of the candy caches, and the fact that Mom hasn’t been out shopping in many months, the cupboards were bare.  We got desperate.  While DQ and i were beating through the new medication dosing schedule, T went to the refrigerator in the garage, and returned with a giant Ghiradelli chocolate bar and a box of foil-wrapped Christmas chocolates.

T:  Do you think these are still good?

daisyfae & DQ (in unison):  Whoa!  Careful – if there’s white stuff on the chocolate, don’t eat it!

Mom: It’s fine!  It’s been in the refrigerator.  Chocolate doesn’t go bad***.

T (sniffing foil-wrapped chocolates):  Smells ok…

daisyfae:  You first.  If you don’t die, we’ll be right behind you!

T (nibbling chocolate):  It’s ok.  How about the chocolate bar? (unwrapping the bar, revealing a leprous, ‘undead’ surface…)

daisyfae:  Wouldn’t risk it.

T (returning from second trip to the garage):  Hey!  I found this box of Pettit Fours!  Think they’re ok?

daisyfae:  i love those!  i’ll try one if they don’t stink… 

Sniffing it, there was a pleasant, chocolatey aroma.  Encouraged, i took a healthy bite.  The fucking thing exploded into dust in my mouth!  It was beyond dessicated.  i spit it into my hand – while T, DQ and Mom laughed their asses off…

T:  Well, it had a date on it – i think it was like 2002 or something… (more laughter)

______

* Perhaps two or three if they are in Eastern Europe… provisions probably still go further there.

** Mom has a 7′ long chest freezer in her utility room.  It could easily hold three dead bodies, perhaps five if they are efficiently processed.  It was last opened perhaps 10 years ago – and she produced meat that was freezer wrapped and dated 1971.  Mom ate a piece of zucchini bread from the mid-70’s and pronounced it “a little dry, but not bad!”  On one of our many attempts to de-clutter the house, we weren’t sure it was even running – making the prospect of removal that much more frightening.  i took a stethescope to it, and determined that the compressor was still running.  We may yet tackle the “freezer removal” this year… Stay tuned.  Excavation of the contents is certain to yield at least one blog post…  i know there are archeological food treasures that we could sell on eBay.  Perhaps “Antiques Roadshow”…

*** Mom also told us later that “meat doesn’t go bad as long as it’s been frozen”.  DQ then told us that she had to intercept a batch of frozen *green* hot dogs that Mom sent home with DQ, Jr. last year.  Barbeque, anyone?