Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hardcore food, book links, tv links, and Only 118 Days Before Christmas Knitting Is Due, Start Panicking Now

     I made excellent Mexican rice AND excellent homemade refried beans yesterday. I've been looking for a good recipe for both for about twenty years (not. kidding.) and I think I've lucked into a couple of Holy Grail's, recipewise. Both are cheap (important!) and easy (also! important!) and neither require any esoteric chef type techniques or ingredients.

     It's submitted by a Food 52 user named 'lastnight'sdinner.' Food 52 is a marvelous site. They even have a 'Dirt Cheap Recipes' section, and a 'Community Winners' section (which has the best, easiest curry recipe I've ever found: So the rice: you have to toast the uncooked rice, sans liquid, and then toast the tomato concentrate as well.  The toasting is the thing here, you can't skip it. I've made recipes very similar to this one, without toasting, and the end result is night and day. Who knew that toasting those little rices made all the difference? Apparently Lydia from 'Lydia's Italy" says that she always toasts tomato concentrate, no matter what the recipe is, it's a good technique that only takes a minute or two and really deepens the flavor. The nice thing about this recipe, besides the fact that it tastes great and is cheap and easy, is that you can modify the spices (less pepper, more chilies, etc). I splashed some lime juice on the top of my rice bowl (sans cheese) and I must say, it was marvelous. It didn't really even taste like lime in the rice, but it gave it a savory tang that is almost addictive. Also noteworthy, the onions should be cooked in bacon grease. I know. I KNOW, ok?  Just do it already and don't think about it.   If you haven't been keeping the drippings from your bacon in a jar in the fridge, all I can say is, that's your choice, but you're wrong. Don't even start with the health risks, I don't want to hear about it. It's a leeetle teeeny dollop of bacon drippings, not a dime bag.  You'll live, and what's more, you'll live with a great bowl of rice in your belly, and if that's not living, I don't know what is (no, I don't get out much lately, doesn't matter, I still know how to party with rice. It's a hardcore life but some of us can handle it).

     I always thought that homemade beans were tricky. As it happens, nope,  not tricky at all.  They are, like the rice, cheap and easy and, here's the important part, so so much nicer and yummier than the canned kind. I really guess I thought that the only good beans and rice I'd ever get would be at a restaurant; I'm delighted to be proven wrong.   The recipe calls for a one pound bag of beans, and I don't think it made enough servings.  It fed three teens and one Me but there were no leftovers, and we pretty much live and die on leftovers around here. I gave the kids sandwiches, apples, oranges, rinse and repeat,  forrrrreeeeeevvvvvveeeeerrrrr (Sandlot!) (I seem! to be! using these! a lot! tonight! At least I spelled A LOT as Two Freaking Words, Get A Clue, Good People Of The Internet!) and finally in the last couple of years (after much unfair and ridiculous whining about ennui and diversification and wah poor me my lunch is boring type nonsense) I just said to hell (heck, I mean, {family blog}) with this and bought a bunch of tupperware and started giving the kids leftovers from supper.  Of course friends and classmates here gave them a hard time at first (the NJ kids would NOT have given anyone a difficult time about good food; they would have bogarted every drop they could get, but these KS kids are afraid of anything that's not bread {they do know their way around a good meatloaf, though, I'll give them that}). The kids have microwaves at school (which doesn't make sense to me; they run gun drills all the time but they leave a bunch of microwaves in the common room? I mean, I'm glad they do, but still, illogical safety wise. But then again running gun drills makes no sense to me if they don't lock the outside doors, and they don't, so whatever. I guess they have to make SOME sort of distinction between a school and a prison), (I seem to be using these ( ) a great deal tonight as well. Here's some more ((({{{[[[]]]}}}))) the kids just reheat supper food, and it's been working out great. They're not longer coming home ready to pour ketchup on the cat because they're so hungry, and there are no more complaints about boring lunches.
Moving on. The recipe calls for a one pound bag of pinto beans, and I'm going to double or triple that next time. Also, I used red beans, not pinto, and it worked out fine. I'd like to mix up pinto/kidney/red beans and see what happens (like I said, I can party). And the beans aren't strictly, in the legal sense, refried, but I like them like this, so I'm not complaining.  I did soak the beans the day before in water with a splash of apple cider vinegar, just to cut down on cooking time. It does take a while even with pre-soaking. Make sure to save the water they cook in, it's nice to be able to make the beans as thick or not as you want. Oh yeah, I forgot, I added a sprinkle of cumin (it's not in the recipe) because I think Mexican food needs cumin, period.  Just not the same without it. I shredded some medium sharp cheddar on top of the hot beans and served it in a bowl next to the rice and people, It Was Good. There's so much on my Life List Of Things I Said I Was Gonna Do that just isn't getting done, it brings me no end of joy to cross Find A Good Beans And Rice Recipe off the list.

Books I've read/am reading this week:
Eric by Terry Pratchett (it's his version of Faust, and like everything in the world, his version is better):
I didn't finish this one, and have no intention of doing so in the future. I really did not like the five or so chapters I did start; it was not, to my way of thinking, beguiling (the cover quote totally lied):  The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman:
TV shows I've watched this week: 
Silk on PBS:  .  It was quite good, and I wish it hadn't been, as I am sick unto death of lawyers, lawyer shows, etc etc. Nevertheless, worth watching.
Farscape re-runs:   . I'd watched this a long time ago, and forgotten how much I like it just for sheer weirdness content. Remember when Doctor Who wasn't about a cute guy and the show was off the charts weird? I thought Warehouse 13 was going to be good and weird, what a letdown that was; it was just normal story of the week stuff.  I like a good weird. Farscape is a good knitting show; I'm already panicking about Christmas knitting (I mean, I still owe a first grade nephew a baby blanket from his birth, I just finished my sister in law's Christmas present....if anything, I'm not panicking enough). I put on Farscape and knit and knit (see: more evidence of the hardcore life).
stitch count

Drunk History (I know I listed this before, I'm re-listing because I love it and Because I Can (adulthood, yay):  . There are old ones on youtube if you aren't dumb enough to subscribe to cable, like me. It's still funny, and it's still a brilliant, brilliant idea. And, it must be said, this is far and away the least offensive show the kids watch, which adds to my overall fondness for it. I'm speaking as a person, a scarred, quiet suffering (well, ok, not suffering so quietly; I Shared Opinions From Time To Time if you must know) heroic soldier type person, who has watched more than one season of "The Hills," one entire season of "Pretty Little Liars," and a show I can't remember the name of where twin sisters do a parent trap but Sister A goes rogue and refuses to leave at the end of her tour of duty because this new family is Rich with a capital R, and her new mother isn't a stripper, she's just an alcoholic, she's awesome,  and then, THEN, she (Sister A, not the alcoholic mom) makes out with Sister B's boyfriend, she's a total skank, except it's okay, because Sister B Learns A Lesson in her new, unimproved situation about Poor People, They are Almost Just Like Real People Except With Ugly Clothes And Bad Food and Bad Cars, and then for some reason there's a party where someone drives a car into the lake and someone dies, except then that maybe that someone DOESN'T die, maybe, can you believe it? I. could. not. believe. it.

The Last Train Home on POV via PBS:  . This is a documentary about the million plus migration of Chinese workers to and from their homes in the countryside and their factory jobs in the city. I'm trying to remember the last time I saw something this depressing. It is Really Really Depressing. It's just almost unbearable. I mean, China, WTFl? What are you thinking? And America! What the hell? What are we doing? The image of the starving workers sewing ten foot high piles of Levis is going to stay with me a while. It's bleak. Oh my word it is bleak. Am I glad I saw it? Weeeeeelll. I mean, I guess. Knowledge is good, understanding the world around you is important, sure thing, but wow, this one is hard to get through. It's grim enough to make you want go digging on youtube to find out what happened next in that one show with the honorable Sisters A & B with that one story where they did that thing. Almost.

Pictures I liked this week:
franken phillipe faurlt everything is awful earphones shuandead ghost helmetviathemarysue

Monday, August 19, 2013

Screw animal rights

     We're only three days into the school year and already kid number two is experiencing meltdown. She's been sick with the flu; I'm hoping her bad attitude is just due to fatigue. Meanwhile the dog is tied up and nesting by the sofa and emitting high pitched whines and almost inaudible sighs non stop, the cat is barricaded in the bathroom and meowing approximately seventy times per minute, and I'm ready to commit some non PETA approved infractions against animal rights. I'm starting to think that all pets should be outside pets, wildlife and cars be damned.
     The dog, for whatever the hell reason makes sense to a dog brain, has decided to start peeing all around the house. In the front room, by the fridge, carpeted, tiled, you name it, he's peeing on it. I personally would much rather have a pet leave solid waste than a lake of pee; it's a lot easier to clean up, and you don't have to deal with any mental or emotional nonsense, i.e., 'this is now my magic marked spot that I need to maintain and re-mark.' I've tried white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, peroxide, blue Dawn dish soap, cinnamon oil, cinnamon powder, chili pepper oil, chili pepper powder, lemon essential oil, grapefruit essential oil, orange oil, orange cleaning product, ten different pee/odor b gone type pet store products, a combination of all of the above, and bleach of various dilutions. I don't even care about the damage to the carpet anymore, I just want the smell gone. You'd think one would get used to the hellish odor after a while, but no.
     I burn candles, cook liquid potpourri on the stove, light oil burners, and oh, yeah, clean the damn carpet about once a day with my Bissell, but the house doesn't smell like anything but fresh/and/or/stale cat and dog pee. This is because the cat feels the need to keep up with the dog and pee over the pee spot that the dog has just used, for maximum pee marking power, just in case any of us are confused about whose magic damn spot this is.
      I've taken the dog to the vet, taken him for a walk twenty times a day, monitored his drinking water levels, I've even put doggie diapers on him, and he is still leaking all over the damn house, which then, cue the cat for an encore performance. And the hell of it is, when he wears a diaper all the time, it stays dry. The minutes I take it off, he pees again. I mean, Jesus Christ, dog, wtf?
      I'm desperate. I can't stand it. They're keeping me up all night, they're ruining the house, and I can't ethically hold them up in my arms and beg an owl or eagle to take them away from here (although I can dream).  I don't have the money for shock collars, and I'm not sure how I feel about them, anyway. I guess I could put one on and try it out, myself. Or,  I suppose I could use all of our grocery and gas money and consult a pet therapist, or pet accupuncturist, or a pet psychic,  or just tape super absorbent diapers to both of their furry little arses for the next fifteen years, or hell, maybe I could start marking the house, myself, to declare that this is my little kingdom. Goddamn animal brains. Goddamn animals. I can put up with almost anything but this. I've always had a super sensitive nose, and frankly, I'm in hell. I can't deal with tired, overly emotional teens and this, too. What do I have to do? Do I have to crawl in the litter box and remind the damn cat how it is? Do I need to crouch outside and perform for the dog until he is inspired again? Gawd. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

It's time to find some positive transgender stories.

     This vid is the Big Think interview of Stephen Fry. It's quite long, but more than worth the time investment. He talks a little bit about when he realized he was gay, and what that meant, when he was a young teen reading Oscar Wilde. He says that he realized he was a part of a group of remarkable, select, but ultimately doomed people, and that realization informed and molded him from a young age. He was an avid reader and particularly sought out more LGTB writers and biographies. He does say that he would have been happier being born twenty years later, when gay rights and the internet community came to the mainstream, but seems to still consider himself one of the doomed.
     This bit of the vid really resonates with me because I realized that most, if not almost all, of my viewpoint about transgender people is, to borrow S. Fry's word, doomed. It seems like my acceptance of my kid is being hindered by my fear. I'm afraid all the time, and even trying to avoid news shows and sites, I'm more than aware that transgender people are being hunted and tortured and killed. I've realized I need to search out more trans people; blogs, books, etc., so that my viewpoint of this community is more whole. I mean, my God, the first thing I thought of when my kid came out to me was that horrible "Boys Don't Cry" movie. Time to branch out. 

In honor of the new school year: two extremely wonderful meatloaf recipes:

     This is the one I made tonight, the night before school begins. It's a Sarah Moulton derivation, very good indeed. It's not overly fussy, which is key, and the taste is superior to most other recipes I've tried before I found this one. The cooking technique is a bit unusual, and makes for a better, more evenly cooked loaf:

     The second recipe is from Nigella Lawson; she calls it 'Ed's Mother's Recipe. Well done Ed's mother, is all I can say. It's got a cooked egg in the middle, which makes for a good meatloaf sandwich, and it's cooked not with a glaze per se, but strips of bacon draped over the loaf. It struck me as hilarious, the first time I started the bacon draping, but it makes sense; everything is better with bacon:

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A name is a name is a name? And: SORRY FOR ALL THE CAPS.

     I think one of the main reasons I'm having a hard time with calling my transgender child HE instead of SHE is that they are still going by their birth name, a female name. It feels like this would be easier if they went by a Boy's Name (tee emm). I asked if there was a name they'd like to be called now, and they adamantly, definitively, said no, not yet. So, there's that. They came out to me, and to their father, but currently refuse to disclose any details to their younger sibling. It must be said that their reluctance has nothing to do with the potential acceptance or lack of same from that sibling. In fact, the younger sibling has, more than a few times, expressed frustration to me, has said "I know something is up, why won't you tell me?" This sibling has also, many times, has expressed an accepting attitude about LGTB issues, sometimes with raised eyebrows, like, "Come on, I'll do the secret handshake, I'll wear the Tshirt, just let me in the clubhouse already."
     I've told my youngest child that it's not my secret to tell, that I wish I could tell, that it really isn't anything to worry about. I don't know if this child actually knows that their older sibling is transgender, and is patiently waiting for us to start acknowledging the purple elephant in the room, or if they don't have any idea in that direction at all. I've asked my transgender child if they want me to discuss it with their sibling, and have been told, no, absolutely not. So, three fourths of the family are in the know, with a very curious, increasingly impatient one fourth hovering on the outer circle. It must be said that this kid, the one fourth one, is outrageously put-together. If I had been as mature as her as a teen, hell, even now, as as a middle aged adult, it's entirely possible my life path would have avoided at least one hundred terrible, no good decisions. It is an uncomfortable position to be in, the mother with children who are more patient, kind, and yes, mature than she is. It should never be the child who says "I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed." I've had opportunity to say that smug little phrase just once, ONCE, in all my parenting years, and, oooh was it satisfying.  So, to sum up, we can't call my transgender child, the girl-who-is-really-a-gay-boy child, HE and HIM and HIS, because that child refuses to come out to someone who would react, and you can take this to the bookies, with nothing but love and understanding and unconditional acceptance.

     So, that's a problem.
     Another knot to untie is the name. It's entirely possible that someone, a male from birth someone, has the same name as my transgender child's birth name, but this is NOT something one should take to those bookies. Thinking about your child's transgender nature can be a circular process, perhaps it's inevitable that one eventually thinks "Is a rose really a rose that's a rose?" I mean, of course you can call a male from birth boy 'Rose', or 'Daisy,' or 'Jennifer,' and will be no less of a male (and quite possibly a very understanding male, well versed in philosophy, feminism and inevitably, boxing). Except that transgender doesn't necessarily mean "A boy is a boy is a boy," does it? I don't know. I just don't know. I'm new to this; if there's an answer, I haven't gotten there yet. Added to all of that as well, my transgender kid is not the norm, if there is such a thing. They don't want to be a big, old tough guy, a man's man. They have no intention of taking hormones, and until 3D printers can print out workable, perfect genitals, they only want the so called top surgery. They still wear makeup and still think football is dumb. They'd be happiest as a real life version of The Little Prince (except with more company, and you know, not as melancholy). They could have all the surgeries (gulp) in the world, and they will never, ever look like A Man (but see, more circular thinking happens here, such as "If a Man is a Man, does it matter what he looks like? And of course, the answer is, really, mostly, No, Of Course Not, except that looks DO matter because, hey, wrong body, i.e. transgender). They could, and do, pass (more problematic wording, because even I, as a new parent to this, can sense that 'pass' is not the right word here) as the world's prettiest (and shortest) boy, no problem, so I guess it's a good thing that that particular mental affinity matches the outside, kind of, sort of (JesustapdancingChrist, why does the transgender thing have to be so complicated, I'm afraid to type more than two words some days, because I just know that I'm being offensive and insensitive in spite of wishing to be the absolute opposite).

     It may be the surest sign of my mental and emotional sluggishness but I need a boy's name for this kid. When I try to think HE, my mind automatically hiccups back to their birth name, which isn't so much a name as it is THEM, which means I think SHE. A name is not a name, even if a rose is a rose, if a name was just a name there wouldn't be fifty thousand so called Jennifer's. Instead, stay with me now, we would ALL be named Jennifer. But we aren't, because Jennifer's mother doesn't look at her and think 'Jennifer;' she thinks THIS CHILD, THIS PERSON WHO IS THE SUM AND MORE THAN THE SUM OF THEM AND ONLY THEMSELVES.  Names are important. It's as simple, as dumb, as wonderful, as awful as that. People who name their child a unisex name or an extremely feminine or masculine name, or a very simple or un-simple name do so for important reasons. A name is absolutely a birthright, for better or worse. I'd like to think that a different name, a boy-type name, would help this transition, my transition (because when your child transitions, you better believe you're in for a change, yourself), not because of rigid expectations, but because names matter to me. I read hundreds of baby name books, looking for just the right name for both babies. I could no more have named a child 'Jenifer' than I would have named her 'Baby' (not that it isn't a lovely, lovely name, I mean look at Jennifer Lawrence, and Jennifer Hudson, and your particular Jenny is a singular, perfectly named delight). It might be a precious, irritating as hell tendency from my own not-too-usual name (when I tell you NO ONE had my name, at least when I was in school, believe you me, I mean no one. It was so unusual that I insisted that my name was 'Cindy' in elementary school). I was almost in labor with my second child by the time I decided on a name. Choosing the just-right name was a big deal. If I could have chosen a name that nobody in the whole world had ever had, for those babies, I would have. When someone spells her name as 'COurTneY,' I'm as sympathetic as I am embarrassed. I get it. They are unique in all the world and would like their name to reflect that. Of course it's possible that the flip side of this Special Snowflake behavior is an almost autistic inability to separate the name from the person, as witnessed by my intractability towards thinking of my child as HIM.  I won't even mention my inner feminist, who is shrieking at me, rightfully so, that a Boy's Name is a societal construct as flimsy as wet paper. How can something that doesn't matter, matter so damn much? I don't know. I say that a lot these days. 

Friday, August 9, 2013


I can't get this video to load on my blog: Simon Amstell (Grandma's House) "We can do this." It's worth the link, it's marvelous. I'm helpless to stop the dance of the idiot myself, I can't tell you how relieved I am that someone else does this, too.

Interesting site, very good graphics...a dating experiment between friends. Not as pointless as I'd imagined, when I first heard about it. A gimmick, to be sure, with book to follow, but they're asking good, thoughtful questions about the nature of intimacy and friendship:

Rapping to preserve an almost extinct language:

Sheltering in place (worth a read and at least a few provisional thoughts):

Oh whatever. Jesustapdancingchrist I'm ever so sick of mom blogs, even though I can't stop reading them and actively search them out and could even be labeled as a mom blog myself:

And now that I've said that I'm done with mom blogs, here's a little hypocrisy for you. This might be the most beautifully written, heartbreaking blog I've read all year. Godallmighty she's good (I especially loved her post called Slip, Slip, Knit). This woman can WRITE: