Tag: food

Artober 21: Clouds are hard!

Here’s another one way above my level, though I didn’t do as well as I did with the power lines. I’m trying to learn to paint good detailed clouds because there’s a photo I took in Grand Isle a couple of years ago that I really want to paint. This one could be worse, so that’s something. It’s 5×7 on Arches, and it’s based on this YouTube demonstration by Maria Raczynska. She actually knows what she’s doing (I’m pretty sure she’s an actual professional watercolorist), so of course hers is amazing. But this is probably the best cloud I’ve painted. And look at the white spatter! It’s not terrible! It’s also my first attempt at using gouache, which is pretty much opaque watercolor.

This one is as done as it’s going to be. Here’s the whole thing:

The main issue is the paint colors I used. The demonstration was with a warm purple and the yellow shade of phthalo blue, neither of which I have, so I used a cool purple and the green shade of phthalo blue. That, and  I mine is a bit overworked compared to hers and too dark. But I learned some things!

In other news, I learned a new skill today. You see, I have a peanut butter issue. I like the freshly ground stuff that’s only peanuts from the grinders at Kroger and Whole Foods. I refuse to buy it at Whole Foods because they want SEVEN DOLLARS for a pound of peanut butter. That’s entirely ridiculous, so I always get it at Kroger for a more reasonable $3 a pound. Except Kroger’s grinder is currently broken. My solution was simple: I bought a pound of peanuts from Whole Foods (for $3.50!), dumped them in my food processor, and made my own damned peanut butter. It took roughly three minutes.

I guess it’s like the time Whole Foods didn’t have my favorite kind of bread in stock, so I made my own. Except this doesn’t take three hours. That’ll show ’em!

In Puppy News, Penny and Lucy posed this morning, and Lucy made her first stuffed dog toy kill. Poor Mr. Snek. She heartlessly pulled out his squeaker and squeaked it in triumph until I extracted it from her mighty jaws before she could try to swallow it (which, at this point, she couldn’t do if she tried). Good times.

There’s fungus among us!

Last Sunday, Palmer and I went to Walter B. Jacobs Nature Park, one of my very favorite places in the general vicinity of Shreveport, for a presentation and hike called The Fungus Among Us. Turns out fungi are a lot more complex and diverse than I realized. While I can’t tell you much about the various types of mushrooms, I did learn that, for me, at least, going mushroom hunting for dinner is a very dangerous idea. I also got some reasonably good pictures.

Penny didn’t get to come along this time because it wasn’t exactly a pet-friendly topic and there’s no way she could have sat still for the presentation. That’s for the best, though, because it was a dreary, rainy day (which I guess is good for mushroom-viewing) and she would have tested every

single mud puddle.

Palmer was also taking photos. He got this pretty amusing one of me being all excited toward the end of our hike.

Palmer and I discovered the fungus among us this afternoon in the rain! 🍄

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He also made this pretty awesome video and posted it on Youtube:

When we got home, I wasn’t done with Happy Mushroom Time. I went over to Whole Foods and got groceries to make Kale and Mushroom Stroganoff, a recipe I found on Chowhound. It involved dried porcini mushrooms, which I don’t think I’d ever tasted.

There was also the half-pound of fresh baby bellas and a bunch of kale and various other yummy bits.

Excuse me a minute while I drool all over again. This recipe is going on my shortlist.

So is Walter B. Jacobs. Palmer and I are going back tomorrow for a Winter Tree ID Workshop. I’m really looking forward to it! I think the weather is supposed to be nice, so expect some sunny pictures!

Christmas tree FAIL. Plus super-tasty gingerbread muffins!

So, as you saw in the last post, we got a beautiful Christmas tree, and everything was going swimmingly. Even Zelda was (mostly) leaving it alone. I took the plunge and strung up the lights and garland, and Palmer put the angel on top.




Pretty nice, right? (I’ll give you one guess why I didn’t take the garland down to the bottom.) Well, that lasted for a couple days, then THIS happened:




And that was not the worst of it. I was minding my own business, watching TV, when I heard a creaking sound. Zelda wasn’t involved because she was lying on the sofa right next to me. I look at the tree, and it’s leaning so far forward I thought it would topple over any minute. I went over there and leaned it against the wall, but not before the angel fell forward, losing her head as she hit the floor. I thought the adjustable leveler had come undone, which I could fix myself, but one of the screws around the base had come loose.




Awesome. Even more awesome is the fact that Palmer won’t be home to fix it for almost two weeks. MEH.

In more pleasant news, I made some fantastic gingerbread muffins, and I’m totally going to share the recipe. You really should try these. There are lots of weirdo recipes floating around Pinterest right now (one of which I was stupid enough to try), but this one is taste-tested and approved, guaranteed bs-free.



And they’re SO easy to make – as are most muffins. They’re also pretty sweet. For me, anyway.




Mix brown sugar, molasses, milk, canola oil, unsweetened applesauce, and an egg with a mixer, which brings us to the Ugly part of this recipe:




In another bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, wheat flour, baking powder, ginger, salt, baking soda (are both really necessary?), cinnamon, and allspice.




You might want to add a tiny sprinkle of black pepper because said pepper is always good in gingerbread. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and you end up with a batter that looks suspiciously like peanut butter…or that uber-tasty Biscoff butter. Yum.




Aww, yeah. I could have eaten ALL of that with a spoon.

And that’s about it! Dump it into a lined muffin tin, and pop it in the oven for about twenty minutes. You’ll be impressed with your Christmas baking skillz.




I’ll take twelve, please.

Gingerbread Muffins!
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Lindsay Attaway
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  1. Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin by lining the cups with paper cup liners or by spraying with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix brown sugar, molasses, milk, oil, applesauce, and egg until well blended.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stirring just until combined. Batter will still be slightly lumpy, which is fine – do not overmix.
  6. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups (use an ice cream scoop!).
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.
Carbohydrates: 29

Recipe heavily adapted from The Seasoned Mom.

Food: Not pretty enough for Pinterest, but tasty as all hellz (a recipe for Shepherd’s Pie)

I’ve been planning on (re)introducing food posts to this blog for a while, now, so here goes. (It’s a particularly good time because I need to review The Bone Clocks but am having a hard time settling it in my mind.)

I have a ginormous stack of cookbooks at home, but I tend to get most of my recipes from Pinterest, which is a pity because so many excellent recipes are just plain ugly. Like this one! (I’ll put a lovely photo of a sunset down at the bottom so your eyes aren’t assaulted by Facebook’s choices of images.)

This is my dad’s recipe for what seems to be a non-traditional Shepherd’s Pie, which is funny because I don’t think I’ve ever had traditional Shepherd’s Pie – you know, the kind onto which you pipe out mashed potatoes and stick in the oven for however long. Traditional Shepherd’s Pie, though, is much more photogenic. This recipe involves no baking and only takes a few minutes to make, so it’s good for weeknights. It involves one specialized ingredient, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Here’s how to make it, in brief: Brown your ground beef, kind-of drain it, add vegetables, add spices, pour it over mashed potatoes. The End.

Easy, right?

Well, here’s the (very minor) catch: it involves Kitchen Bouquet. I’ve never used it for anything other than this specific dish, and every time I have to buy it, finding it is a nightmare. Sometimes it’s near the spices, and sometimes it’s near the barbecue sauce. Most grocery stores have it. Here’s a photo of it next to the organic, non-chemically cream of mushroom soup I insist on using even though I’m adding All the Chemicals with Kitchen Bouquet:

I promise it’s worth it. Here’s a lovely before-and-after shot:

Kitchen Bouquet makes a huge difference in color and taste and is one of the very few situations when I will willingly deposit chemicals into my food. Just do it.

And don’t neglect the mashed potatoes! I make these ugly, too!

I leave the skin on because Fiber Is Good for You. 2 or 3 good-size potatoes should suffice. I just boil them until they’re soft, then dump them in a bowl with a dash of salt and however much butter and milk I feel like adding. I like them plain and lumpy.

And there you have it! An excellent, but very ugly, recipe for Shepherd’s Pie that won’t set you back any oven-time. Of course I choose what is quite possibly the ugliest recipe I have for a first recipe post. Anyway, let me know if you try it.

Shepherd’s Pie
Author: Lindsay’s dad (or grandmother?)
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1 Tbsp Kitchen Bouquet
  • Mashed potatoes (3-ish)
  1. Brown the beef, half-ass drain. Add veggies, cook until soft. Add salt and pepper. Add cream of mushroom soup. Add Kitchen Bouquet, add more if not brown enough. Put on top of mashed potatoes.
.05 carb factor for the meatz. In case you’re counting.

Aaaand here is our beautiful sunset that will end up on Facebook. Dog-walking is an excellent activity.


(Dog) Food: How to make Alligators!

alligatorsAt the beginning of this year, I made the decision to stick with book-themed posts rather than make my random deviations into food and photography, and, well, I’m breaking that rule here because I want to Share the Wealth.

Alligators are Zelda’s very favorite treat. She pricks up her ears every time she hears the word, and she’ll willingly walk into her kennel and sit down to enjoy one of these tasty treats. I make them twice a month, or so. One batch makes around 85, but they disappear very quickly. I like that I know what’s in them and that they don’t contain soylent dog or some equally unappetizing substance. Sure, lots of people disapprove of feeding dogs wheat, but Zelda enjoys it, and I don’t think it’s much worse for her than it is for humans (have you read Wheat Belly?).

So here goes: How to Make Alligators!

You’ll need all of 4 ingredients. You probably have them in your kitchen right now.

2 cups wheat flour (don’t substitute all-purpose)
1 cup oats
1-1/4 cups hot water
1/3 cup peanut butter

Preheat your oven to 350. In a medium bowl, mix up the oats and wheat flour:


Then, get your peanut butter and dump it in the bottom of another bowl (I use a stand mixer, but a spoon will probably work).


Pour in your hot tap water and mix it until it’s reasonably blended. It’ll look kind of gross.


Next, pour in the dry ingredients and mix it all up. You’ll get a nice, thick dough.


Roll it out to 1/4- or 1/8-inch thick and cut it into the shapes of your choosing. I use an alligator cookie cutter my stepmother gave me several years ago. If you absolutely hate cookie cutters, roll it out and cut it into squares with a pizza cutter. Your dog won’t mind.


Put your squares or alligators or mustaches or whatever on a cookie sheet and bake them for about 25 minutes.


They come out of the oven looking almost exactly like they did going in.


Once they’re cool, store them in an airtight container or freeze them. They’ll probably last forever in either case since no perishable ingredients are involved.


Zelda loves them – except when I try to capture said love on video. Then, she’s totally nonchalant.

Easy, eh?

2013 Book #59: Snow Country

snowcountrySnow Country is a short Japanese novel that’s been on my list for quite a while. It’s another one that Goodreads insisted I’d like, so it kept popping up in my recommendations list. I really should listen to them more often because I really liked this novel. It’s just so short that I read it within about 24 hours, so it’s almost a blur.

It’s a traditional Japanese novel, and it was a refreshing change from the weird and messed up books I usually read by authors from that country (being the two Murakamis). It’s about a geisha who lives in a town in the mountains popular with tourists for its hot springs and skiing. Shimamura, the male protagonist, often leaves his wife and family to travel to this region, especially once he meets Komako, a geisha who lives there. They spend lots of time together, and she falls in love with him. All I’ll say after that is that the ending is amazing, and it’s worth reading the novel for the last few pages.

Snow Country was a welcome reprieve after The Magus. I don’t think I’d ever read a traditional Japanese novel before – my experiences before were with (all of) Haruki Murakami, one of my favorite authors; Ryu Murakami, who writes disturbing novels; and Banana Yoshimoto‘s Kitchen and The Lake. Haruki Murakami and Yoshimoto write magical realist fiction, and the former’s writing is full of American culture. Yoshimoto’s writing is much less influenced by America, but I think it fits best under the contemporary literary fiction umbrella and, in a lot of ways, is more similar to the Murakamis than to Kawabata‘s writing. Ryu Murakami is in his own effed-up world.

Anyway, it’s nice to read a novel so entrenched in traditional Japanese culture, about which I know very little. My knowledge of geisha, for example, mostly comes from Memoirs of a Geisha – and even there, the movie, as I didn’t, for whatever reason, finish the book. I had never thought about how they interact with clients and family.

And the novel is beautiful in so many ways. I found the translation a bit lacking in places, but I got a vivid picture of the mountain town, and I generally liked all of the characters. I wish I knew more about Japanese culture because Shimamura’s leaving his family to spend time with a geisha didn’t seem like it was a big deal, and, well, it would be for me. Anyway, the book is fascinating, if a little short. It’s probably one of the relatively few that I’ll read again every few years.

I read through this book so quickly that I didn’t have time for much else. I made one of my very favorite (and freezable!) soups in the crock pot. I make things with beans when Palmer is out of town because he doesn’t like them.

Soup stages

I stayed home from work yesterday because something is going on with my sinuses, so my head hurts and my blood sugar is wonky. I read and updated this blog while the cats chillaxed. I’m pretty sure they had a better day than I did.


Speaking of updating the blog, what do you think of my new theme? It’s called Divi, by Elegant Themes, and I think it’s pretty neat.

Up next is Bleak House, which has been languishing on my tl;dr list for several years now. 70-ish pages in, and I’m hooked. It’s really funny!

2013 Book #58: The Magus

magusThe Magus wasn’t at all what I was expecting, and it’s a lesson in Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover (or its size). It’s a brick of a book, and the name made me think I’d be getting into something like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which I loved. But no. It’s nothing like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and by the end, I almost hated it.

It had a promising start: Nicholas Urfe, a young, directionless English womanizer gets a job teaching at a boys’ school on Phraxos, a Greek island. It’s beautiful, and John Fowles‘ descriptions are amazing. I was so into it. Anyway, almost as soon as he gets there, he hears about a mysterious man named Conchis, and he’s determined to meet him. Nicholas sneaks onto his estate, and there’s Conchis, waiting with lunch. He immediately starts playing mind games, and soon, Nicholas doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going. He meets and falls in love with a girl who is alternately called Lily and Julie, and the mind games continue. Meanwhile, Nicholas is trying to get out of a relationship with Alison, the girl he was dating when he got the job and moved to Greece. She fell in love with him, but he seems to be incapable of love and is more interested in getting girls into bed. (I thought that would be a minor, introductory part of the novel, but, no, it’s not. The Magus is full of surprises). As usual, Things Happen.

This book is long. Way too long, I think, though this isn’t the first time I’ve said it about a novel considered very good, which this one is. It just goes on and on. And on and on. At the beginning, I was intrigued. What in the world was Conchis doing to Nicholas? But by the time the story played out and everything was explained, I had lost interest. At some point, Nicholas describes my feelings exactly: It’s like a Lawrence novel suddenly turns into a Kafka novel. I don’t like either of those authors (okay, I liked them both very much a long time ago, but the more I read, the more I grow to hate them). I can’t think of a better way to describe it than effed-up. In some ways, it’s like The Island of Dr. Moureau, and in others, it’s like “The Most Dangerous Game.” It made me uncomfortable and frustrated, and I wanted out. Yesterday, I read the last 150 pages just to get it over with. It’s a world of which I don’t want to be a part.

I’m not saying that The Magus is a bad novel. I just didn’t like it. Like Salem’s Lot, it’s just not my kind of book. I would have quit reading it much earlier if I’d figured it out within the first fifty pages, but Fowles keeps you guessing, gives a hint, then makes you guess again. It was interesting and strangely traumatic at the same time. I couldn’t look away even though I really wanted to.

So. If you like books about mind games, you’ll probably like this one. I’m not a fan, and I’ll probably stay away from Fowles in the future. Now, to read something mundane and comfortable.

SEVEN HELLS, THERE’S A MOVIE. Which I will NOT be watching. I’ll go ahead and, just based on the book, put it in the pile with movies (all from that era!) that Should Not Be Seen and Cannot Be Unseen, like The Wicker Man and Salo.

In other news, Shakespeare is feeling much better after a round of antibiotics. Also: the Pill Gun is my new best friend.

Shakespeare is feeling much better. 🙂

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I finally made jambalaya. It’s my Very Favorite Food, but it’s so high in carbs that I hadn’t made it since the beetus. Once I cooked and weighed it, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. A bowl is only about 55-60 carbs, which isn’t too bad.


Most exciting, though, is our new fireplace! I was surfing around Pinterest a few weeks ago and saw this 8-bit Zelda fireplace (IT’S DANGEROUS TO GO ALONE! TAKE THIS.) and squealed. Palmer approved of the idea and even got the paint chips and foam board. I spent about six hours punching out squares and pasting them on the board. The fireplace is now my favorite part of the house. It’ll look so nice once we get that room repainted – hopefully, in the near future.


Despite my efforts to slow down, I guess I’m still on a reading tear. I just started Snow Country, a short Japanese novel that I’ve been meaning to read. Thirty pages in, it’s a welcome relief after the horrors of The Magus.


2011 Book #28: My Life in France

juliachild.jpegMy original plan for this blog was 50 novels in a year, but a friend recommended and loaned me Julia Child‘s My Life in France. It sounded interesting enough, and though I’m usually not one for nonfiction, I figured I’d give it a try. My Life in France is an “autobiography” about Julia Child’s years in France when she decided she loved cooking and went to the Cordon Bleu, etc, etc. I put “autobiography” in quotes because her nephew, Alex Prud’homme, actually wrote the book. From the forward, written by Prud’homme:

For a few days every month, I’d sit in her living room asking questions, reading from family letters, and listening to her stories. At first I taped our conversations, but when she began to poke my take recorder with her long fingers, I realized it was distracting her, and took notes instead. (x)

Yeah, that’s not autobiography, and after I read the forward, I almost decided not to read the book at all. But, even though it’s written by someone else, I really enjoyed it much more than I imagined I would. There’s something exciting about it, and after seeing Julie and Julia, which I also liked immensely, I wanted to hear the real story. It seems that lots of the bad stuff was glossed over, like tension between Julia and Louisette when the latter wasn’t really helping with the cookbook, and Julia had her name removed as an author. That said, My Life in France is an inspiring look into Julia Child’s life that made me want to drink more wine, at the very least – and keep a diary (at which I’m generally terrible) because it’d be nice to look back after many years and remember little things, like fantastic meals, that I enjoyed.


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