Archive for December, 2018

Workplace Hazards

And I wonder why my back/neck/shoulder hurt after I’ve been working at the computer for awhile. I feel this post is ESPECIALLY relevant because I see that my friend Honour has posted today about harsh working conditions. As I pointed out to her on her post, she doesn’t KNOW from hardship… *grin*


MY arm





Learning About Whiskey

I grew up reading books. A lot of books. A lot of reading. Much of my overall image of the world was shaped by that reading. I read a lot of British manor house murder mysteries. It seemed folks were always having a glass of whiskey before the fire or in the reading room. A ‘splash’ here and a ‘nip’ there. Somehow it always seemed so grown-up, so elegant, so sophisticated.whiskey and fire I couldn’t wait to be an adult, having my own splash of whiskey whilst the friends and family gathered round.

Unfortunately for me, it turned out I did not LIKE whiskey or brandy. *grin* Of course my first exposures to those beverages was when my mother attempted to help me alleviate the infamous cramps. It was harsh and it was sweet and although I DID like the warm after-glow, getting there was not worth it. I also tried it at college. Or rather, over-tried it my freshman year holiday party. There are a lot of unpleasant associations there as well. All in all, I have to say that although I still wanted that whole book image of my amber whiskey in a glass, I never tasted anything that lived up to fantasy.

Flash forward a few decades to my son’s graduation (MS in Game Design). The 3 of us went to dinner at The Whiskey, a restaurant that came up on our search for good burgers. It certainly had delicious burgers but it also specialized in whiskey. You could get whiskey flights to test different brands. There was Rye, Bourbon, Irish, Scotch and various limited release whiskies. IMG_9885My husband was all excited but neither my son or I were much interested. My husband INSISTED that we both try one of his flights. I rolled my eyes but obliged. It was delicious. Warm. Smooth. Flavorful. NO burning sensation. That beautiful afterglow. It was Whistle Pig rye. I don’t remember which barrel it was, but oh my – what I remember was LIKING whiskey. We had a wonderful dinner there. The owner/chef came over and chatted with us for awhile. It is a wonderful restaurant – the atmosphere was warm and comfortable, the food was delicious and the hospitality of both the owner and the wait staff was excellent. What a shame my son no longer lives in Orlando. 😦

Now I knew I liked expensive rye whiskey, but I did nothing about it. I like wine and for my evening glass of relaxation, I had wine. Oban 14 at the bar TarrytownI still had the image, however, of having my splash before the fire, or with friends. I met a friend for dinner after work last April. It was rainy, raw and wretched and I was aggravated about something. I got to the restaurant first so I went up to the bar. I felt I needed to do SOMETHING dramatic (well, dramatic for me). I asked if they had Whistle Pig. Nope. Any 15-year old whiskey? Nope. But they did have a 14-year old Oban. I said that sounds fine and yes it was. 🙂
I texted a picture of my drink to my nephew-in-law to show him I’d ‘grown up’ (He is the wine manager of a very large and well-known liquor store in the Delaware/Maryland area).

My niece and nephew-i-l went to Japan this past spring. They bought us back a bottle of whiskey. IMG_9884I have no idea what it says on the bottle, but you can see by this picture that it has been enjoyed since June. If my nephew picked it out, you know it will be good. Last night I decided it was my turn to try. I’d done errands and chores during the day, my husband was cooking up an Israeli style braised short ribs (in the-big-red-pot!) and I thought it was time to relax. I poured my dram. It was very very tasty. I liked it! I definitely can’t do this often, but I can see it for a cold wintery day indulgence. Next time – I have a 12-year old Balvenie to try! Now I need someone to write me into a book. 🙂

Taking Another Step Away

I treated myself and bought a new computer. It arrived yesterday – a Lenovo Yoga 730. I got the active pen as well, about which I know nothing. 🙂 I gather it lets me draw on the screen. IMG_9869How can someone be so ignorant about their new computer? I don’t pick my own computers. I (like Blanche DuBois) often depend on the kindness of others, in this case coworkers, not strangers.

Way back at the end of the summer I asked a former coworker for advice on a new computer. He’d given me great advice when I was searching for a hard-core gaming computer to handle Second Life and Open Sim. That was all the way back in 2010 and I got an Alienware. I still have that Alienware and it is still going, but I can’t upgrade it and USB ports are a bit different now, and so are operating systems.

Somewhere between then and now I bought myself another computer that could handle gaming and virtual realities. That one was the same machine that we’d bought our son, with a few enhancements added.IMG_9871 I never got a chance to use it. First my son broke his, so I gave him mine. Once it returned to me, my sister’s computer ceased to run her programs so I lent her mine. Permanently. 🙂 I love my sister. So here I am, without a modern functioning computer. I back up all my iThings to the Alienware, but I’ve discovered that I cannot write from it to the iThings. I had to do my last phone update by using my work Mac. It’s time already for a new machine.

I took the list of suggestions from the first coworker and showed it to my former teammates, whose opinions I have ALWAYS sought and trusted. I told them all that the only thing I do anymore is read mail, blog, social media, and process photos. They all agreed on the Yoga 730 and they all told me “buy the pen, you’ll like it”. Okay, I did. IMG_9872I haven’t even opened the box yet, *grin*, but I’m sure one of these days I’ll figure it out.

So why “another step away”? Because I suspect this machine will NOT run Second Life. I loved my time in SL. I’ve written about how much fun I had, how it challenged me, changed me, shaped me. I’ve written about the friendships I made that exist today and moved from virtual reality to RL reality. I still, foolishly, maintain my premium membership, although I have surrendered all my land. I want to go back, but there is no “back” – we have all moved on. Some of my friends are virtually dead, others have passed away in physical reality. Buying a non-gaming computer is yet another step away from the past.

You can take the woman out of SL, but you cannot take the SL out of the woman. No matter WHICH computer she buys.

Green Curry Paste FTW

IMG_9867Last night I wanted something ‘different’ for dinner – not my typical steamed veggies and whatever. As I mentioned earlier, I buy a LOT of produce. This past weekend I brought home green beans, bok choy, asparagus, mushrooms (a blend of oyster, shitake and crimini) and leeks. I was hungry and didn’t feel like spending a LOT of time cooking. I decided to “borrow” another of my husband’s favorite pots – the wok this time. Our stove has its own fitted wok stand for the burners (it can be used on any burner). My husband uses the wok now nearly every time he cooks.

I wok’d up the green beans, some bok choy, garlic, onions and the mushrooms in coconut oil. It looked so beautifully green and healthy.IMG_9864 Last time I was in the Asian market picking up some curry sauce I saw a package for green curry paste. I took that as well and that’s what I used last night. Wow – that was HOT. The package had called for mixing the paste with coconut milk, which I did not have handy. I’d used the coconut oil and added cream for a liquid. I figured that would get me to the coconut milk taste/consistency. It was delicious. There are no leftovers. My husband loved it too.

IMG_9868That has been unusual the last few years. I stuck to my traditional eastern European flavors: salt, pepper, onion, garlic, paprika. I think he was bored by those flavors. With the new kitchen and the easy availability of spices, and the fact that it’s just the 2 of us, I’ve been trying many new flavors and foods. I’ve begun keeping shallots and leeks on hand. Looking at various recipes online for intriguing flavors (which reminds me – I haven’t talked about the red lentil butternut squash soup). I had never cooked squash (or eaten it for that matter) before my adventures last month. It’s working quite well! (And a side note to my son who reads this blog periodically – if you use green curry paste and don’t cut it too much with milk – you can eat just about any vegetable around. *grin* It’s so hot that is the ONLY flavor you will register. Trust me.)


Back to Back Baking

No more falcons, no more live concerts, so it’s back to talking about cooking and baking in the new kitchen. *smile* I got to show it off today to someone new! He said “I want to go home now and redo my kitchen”. We sat in the breakfast room at my fun round bistro table. He loved that handle and the fact that it really can move up and down.

Besides contributing a vegetable side dish for Thanksgiving dinner, I am also “responsible” for sugar free desserts. t-day apple pie This goes back to when my father, who was diabetic, was alive. My father loved desserts and once the diabetes was diagnosed I spent a lot of time learning to make desserts he (and the others with diabetes) could eat. Then a few years ago (2013) Thanksgiving and Chanukah coincided. For American Jews this was a wonderful event and inspired much holiday and culinary creativity. It was known as Thanksgivukkah. Although I fell in love with the rye crust for the pumpkin pie, I don’t really like pumpkin pie. I decided to see what I could do with the Pecan Pie Rugelach recipe.

I made the first batch exactly as called for in the recipe so I could learn the proper textures. Then I began to reduce the sugar AND to remove the dairy – I needed to make it kosher. Since we were having a meat meal, I could not have dairy in the dessert (cannot mix meat and dairy) The dairy for the dough was easy – vegan cream cheese and pareve margerine. pecan pie rugelachThe brown sugar was a bit of a ‘cheat’, but was deemed acceptable by the doctor (who is also diabetic). I use Splenda brown sugar, which is half brown sugar and half sugar substitute. This means that although it’s not sugar free, it has less sugar and fewer carbohydrates than regular brown sugar. When you factor in the lower quantity used, and spread it over the entire batch, it is acceptable for the folks at my table. And even at that, I tend to be stingy measuring the sugar, instead of generous. I’m always VERY generous measuring vanilla extract. 🙂 The other substitution is with the corn syrup. I use agave. If a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of syrup, use 1/4 cup agave and increase the liquids. The first time I made the rugelach the menfolk for whom it was made went crazy. They loved it. And so a tradition was born. I make SF pecan pie rugelach for Thanksgiving.

My father was also why I started making SF apple pies. inside of pieI changed up my recipe for the T-day pie since I wasn’t happy with the puree made with dried apricots. I did put some dried apricots in with the cranberries and the cranberry juice, but I also used sugar free orange marmalade. That gave the puree the correct consistency and liquidity needed to soften the apples and keep the pie filling moist and tender. I did the same layering with apples/puree/cinnamon & nutmeg as I did in my pie the week before the holiday. This one was much, much better although I didn’t get to eat much of it. 🙂

I’ve also made chocolate pecan pie for my sister in the past. She really loves it and it is so easy to make. That one is sugar-full and I don’t usually bring sugar desserts to Thanksgiving. pecan pie Our friends are fantastic bakers and they bring a smorgasbord of great desserts. But I was having so much fun baking and I knew they did NOT make chocolate pecan pie, so I made that one too. I used the fantastic coconut oil crust from the kale butternut squash pie. I have NO idea how the pie came out, since I never got a piece. 🙂 I brought it to my sister’s house but we did not serve it at dinner.

The shortbread was simply me going over and beyond. My sister and I spend a LOT of time talking/texting/emailing as we prepare for holidays. I tried to bribe her to come over and visit me and promised her some shortbread if she came. shortbreadWell she didn’t come but now the idea of making shortbread was in my head. I got up early Thursday morning and made up a batch of shortbread. I sent half of it to her and kept the other half for myself. I can assure you that the shortbread was delicious. I think I used a different recipe this time than the last time I made it. But the last time I made it was years ago – I have no idea which recipe I pulled. This time I looked at 4 different recipes, figured out the commonalities and made 2 pans. Yum Yum Yum.

I LOVE my new kitchen!!!!!

Why We Compost

I do the majority of the grocery shopping for our household. I use a shopping list, I check the shelves and stocks before I go.IMG_9861 While I shop I have a general idea of the week ahead – what I think we’ll be doing, what meals will be needed. Yet somehow I always seem to be led astray in the produce department. The fresh fruits and vegetables are so appealing that I’m SURE we will be running short before the next grocery trip. I’m often wrong in that assumption. A few years ago I began composting. This has alleviated a lot of my guilt about ‘wasting’ the produce we don’t eat. I don’t consider composting “wasting”. I love to garden, I need fresh soil every spring. It’s my own little circle of life – produce to dirt to produce.

Chanukah With the Moose

Chanukah began yesterday at sundown. That’s how we do it – our holidays start and end at sundown. Very solar efficient. 🙂 Over the years I’ve used a variety of chanukiot (that’s the name for the menorah that is used for Chanukah). I have my very first one – silver in tone, a long low rectangle, the shamash had a Jewish star. It was identical to the one we used at home when I was growing up. When I went off to college I bought the same one to give me a little at-home-comfort while I was away. IMG_9863Over the years I found other chanukiot at craft shows, Judaica shops, and, of course, the ones my son made for me at school. *grin* Those are the most precious naturally. I have 3 of them. One is a block of wood with nuts (as in bolts & nuts) as the candle holders (2 nuts for the shamash) and the other 2 are white tiles with nuts. All 3 were decorated most elegantly (um, well, not really, but mother’s love and all that). I have chanukiot that hold candles, that burn oil, that use electric light bulbs (oh wait – I just gave that one to my sister). I even have strings of dreidels and Jewish stars that light up (ah, yes, assimilation. The irony of it all – Chanukah commemorates the fundamentalists beating up the assimilationists). But until this year I have never had a moose chanukiah.

The learned among you may notice that the moose is missing a shamash. According to the literature (little poorly written book) that came with the moose, WE are the shamash. chanukiotFor each mitzvah we do, an antler on the moose will glow. And in case we do not do a mitzvah at the correct time and place, we can squeeze his left hind hoof and that will light up an antler. It’s an amazing world.

Happy Chanukah!

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