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Tubin's Journal

1st February, 2010. 9:21 pm. More on cooking

Of course, one of my reserve sources of ingredients during much of the year is my yard. I have the following growing reasonably reliably at the moment:

Herbs: Rosemary, oregano, mint, fennel,
Fruits 'n' veggies: Meyer lemons, now also have a satsuma tree that produced a little last year and a pomegranate tree which hasn't produced yet. My neighbor is often kind about sharing her grapefruit.

I need to plant some parsley soon to use while it's cool, and plan to plant basil to use when it gets warmer.

I've tried a couple of times to get strawberries going without much luck - wild strawberries seem to do great in the lawn, though.

Has anyone had any luck with thyme in this climate?

What other fruit trees do OK in this climate? I could put one or two in the front yard since last year's road construction seems to have killed off the already-ailing magnolia tree.

What other edibles do y'all manage to grow in your yards?

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31st January, 2010. 10:19 pm. Cooking: putting it all together

I have lots of cool cooking toys... er, I mean appliances. I know a variety of cooking techniques and can successfully produce a number of tasty meals.

What I don't seem to have quite in place is a system. Specifically... what are the key ingredients that should always be stocked in my pantry, my fridge, my freezer, my spice rack, so that I can pull together a meal on short notice without an extra trip to the store?

I'd like to get to the point where I have such an inventory, so that when K is headed to the store and asks what we need, I can just tell him what ingredients I used up last week and then give him free reign to pick up whatever fresh ingredients (veggies, breads, etc) look yummy and are in season or on sale this week. Along with perhaps a short list of weekly perishables that we just always buy (like milk).

So... what staples do y'all keep on hand? What perishables are on your weekly shopping list?

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24th January, 2010. 8:24 am. Best way to preserve lemons or lemon juice?

OK, I have been indulging myself with lemonade, lemon sorbet, etc... but still have quite a few lemons left from my tree. They're starting to look a little withered, they won't last much longer...

What's the best way to preserve them so they don't go bad before I can use them? I'm considering juicing them all and freezing the juice. Maybe in small containers that can be thawed one at a time?

But am very open to other suggestions?

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23rd January, 2010. 9:12 pm. For my own reference - meyer sorbet

dissolve 1 cup splenda in 2 cups boiling water
add 2 cups meyer lemon juice (I used 5 lemons)

ice cream maker until thickens

harden in freezer

recipe called for zest but I forgot

next I want to try frozen yogurt

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17th January, 2010. 9:17 pm. Not a day of sloth...

After a morning workout and a lovely brunch with friends (Sunday is the day I get to cheat on the New Year's diet resolution), I noted it was a gorgeous day and I actually didn't feel all tired and lazy.

So got some laundry started and picked up the clutter in the sunroom. Then couldn't resist being outside so got started on a long-delayed and not-much-fun task.... scraping old paint on my exterior woodwork in preparation for painting.

When along comes my neighbor, who informs me that her adult son - whose day job consists of handling all the repairs for their string of rental houses - has been looking for handyman work, to make extra cash. I expressed interest and she promised to send him by once he was home for the evening.

So since it looked like I'll be able to outsource that unpleasant task, I turned to other jobs - cleared out some weeds and brush from one bed, pruned an out-of-control vine, replaced some rotted wood on a trellis. He stopped by shortly after dark and agreed to tackle scraping, sanding, repairs/patching and painting my woodwork starting week after next.

So at the end of the day I accomplished a fair amount of useful stuff but if my neighbor's son works out as a competent handyman, that'll have been the biggest achievement of the day by far! I really need to offload some of the basic non-creative maintenance work around the house so I can move forward with some of the more creative improvements I've been planning (sometimes for years...).

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28th December, 2009. 3:04 pm. Kitties and more resolutions

The new year's resolutions have crystalized - K has decided he wants us to do "healthy eating" to join our daily exercise routine. I told him if he's going to resolve it, he has to quantify it in a way that can be measured - so he'll know if he kept the resolution. Since we both could stand to lose a few pounds, he's quantified it as the following (not all that extreme) rules:
1) Obvious treats (chips, ice cream, etc) only on special occasions
2) "naughty meals" (eg cheeseburger with fries, or all-you-can-eat buffet) no more than twice a week.
3) Existing stash of holiday treats (cookies, candy) is rationed to one or two pieces per day;
4) Self-regulation of portions, etc, with a weekly weigh-in. If not at ideal weight, must be making steady progress in that direction; if at ideal weight must be maintaining it.

So that's what he laid out. I'll be very intrigued to see if this lasts - he's said we'll eat healthy before and it usually lasts until the next time Randall's has a sale on Blue Bell.

Meanwhile there's a shaggy kitty - obviously a young Tom - who's decided to target our house. He hangs out in front or back, meowling piteously. He doesn't appear to have a collar. He's got a good thick coat and (from a distance) doesn't seem too thin; his ears are the typical jagged mess that you see on tomcats who've been out catting for a while.

Our indoor beasties are quite engaged in his visits, being alternately fascinated and frightened. He's stuck around through most of the weekend and we're starting to cave. I've told K that if we give him food, we have to do the whole thing - capture him, do the vet check-up, shots, neutering, and get him registered. I also warned K that if he pets the thing, he needs to scrub up good before petting our cats - at least until we have had him checked for FIV, etc. Then I suppose we'd have to figure out if he can be an indoor cat or if he'll become our emergency-backup-cat who lives outdoors. If the latter, we need a setup so he doesn't have to fight the raccoon and the possum for his food.

As a crass side-comment... wow, it's been a while since I saw an un-neutered adolescent male cat. I'd forgotten how ... obvious it is to identify the cat's gender in that case.

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2nd December, 2009. 10:38 pm. Resolutions

For some years I didn't make any New Years Resolutions. I thought I wasn't likely to keep them so saw no point in making them.

Then last year, when K asked if I'd like to make any resolutions, I made two - one half-joking, the other less so. I said that I wanted to keep my job (just started in Dec '08) for longer than I kept the job I accepted at the end of '07. And I said I would exercise every day. I'll let you decide which one was the joke.

Amazingly enough, I've kept both resolutions. I confess that "exercise" has meant, on a couple of low days, a 20-minute treadmill trudge while I cough and wheeze and blow my nose the entire time. But I have done cardio, weights, or yoga every single day of 2009 to day.

And I kept my job :)

So now I'm wondering if I can tackle another resolution for next year? If so, what might it be?

One thought is to commit to some other worthwhile daily activity. I'm considering committing to at least 15-20 minutes of some sort of "housekeeping" activity daily, whether that is literally housekeeping or figuratively (paying bills, for example, or arranging for a plumber). Or I might even expand that definition to something like "maintenance" and include some activities like shopping, getting my hair cut, and visiting the dentist - things I need to do periodically to maintain my general health and quality of life.

15 minutes a day doesn't seem impossible but I believe it would add up to a significant improvement in quality of life over the next year. Think I could do it?

What other resolutions might I consider for the new year?

And having finished a whole year of working out daily - do I have to keep doing it? :)

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26th October, 2009. 9:20 pm. The death knell of LJ?

I enjoy LJ for a couple of reasons.

The most important is the chance to follow along with the writings of my friends in distant places.  But more and more of those have moved to FB or elsewhere.  In many cases, everything I see posted here is also posted in FB.  I will keep looking here as long as those last few haven't made the move.

The other is that LJ has been a convenient vehicle for keeping up with a number of things via RSS feed.

But I'm irritated that the RSS feed appears to have been down for days.  I've missed multiple episodes of my favorite webcomics and I'm going into cheezburger withdrawal!  

Is it time to find some other RSS feed reader and drop LJ entirely?

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24th October, 2009. 5:55 pm. testing...

Haven't seen anything new on LJ all day.  Odd?  Are they broken?  Will this post appear?

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23rd September, 2009. 5:50 pm. Promoted!

Today my group went out to lunch to celebrate birthdays - mine, last weekend, and my boss's earlier this month (not celebrated earlier due to Ramadon).

On our return, we met briefly in his office so he could give me my birthday present:  a promotion!

My new title is "Senior Physician Systems Analyst". I was an applications analyst before. The titles are all just words, I suppose, but the new title was created just for me so, like Tigger, I'm the only one!

My newest co-worker is a Physician Systems Analyst, though, so no doubt he'll make good and get himself promoted to senior at some point... at which point I'll be happy to share :)

The title comes with a bit of a raise, which seems to prove that it's actually a promotion, not just a rephrasing. And, they're moving my group before long, and in the new space, I get my own office! (that's sort of but not entirely related to the promotion)....

Likin' the world right now...

(Since there's just one of me, I suppose I could say I'm THE Senior Physician Systems Analyst... saying "The senior..." makes it sound more exalted than it is, probably...)

Oh, and I've apparently reached a point where I remember to post to Facebook long before I remember to post here, so most of you probably already saw this news...

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