Friday, October 31, 2008

Don't let the Daisies die!

There are rumors swirling on the Internet that ABC might cancel Pushing Daisies. Don't let this happen. Sign a petition here. It is one of my favorite shows on TV - it is touching, and funny, and not gross or violent. If you watched Wonderfalls, and liked it, you should watch Pushing Daisies. Watch the show anyway, to get the numbers up. We must know more about Charlotte Charles, Ned, Emerson, and Olive!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'm sad...

Because Creamsicle is missing. She got out of the apartment somehow, sometime on Tuesday night and hasn't come home. We don't know how she got out, or where she would go. She has never appeared to like our new neighborhood enough to be out for more than 10 minutes at a time. Sigh. She is street-smart kitty, and I hope she will be OK. If only she would come home.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Arkansas Capitol Grounds Tour, part 1

This is the first in a series of posts I plan to do about the monuments that are scattered all over the grounds of the capitol here in Little Rock. I walk past this statue - a monument to the Confederate soldiers of Arkansas - every morning on my way in to the office. It is not the only memorial to the Civil War on the grounds - sort of like the various Confederate heroes statues on the UT campus - which I find a little creepy. I mean, the area wasn't the capitol until more than 30 years after the war was over, and these statues were all put up after that. Why were they still trying to celebrate that dark period in their history? I am not sure I will ever understand the South.

Anyway, this is the first statue I see in the mornings. I am sorry it is sort of dark - I took this about 7:50 AM on my first day of work. The statue is quite nice, if you can ignore what it stands for - that being racism, slavery, oppression, etc. I've always been partial to Nike figures (that is, the winged victory kind, not things in the shape of the swoosh) and even wrote a couple of papers about them in a college art history class. My favorite is the Nike of Samothrace. There is something about the stance that I appreciate, and the fact that victory is a strong woman, striding forward.


Found this on the NPR blog Vox Politics. Tragi-comic humor and a message. It's great

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pork Milanese and mushroom risotto

We made one of my current favorite meals last night: pork Milanese with risotto. The recipe is one from Everyday Italian by Giada de Laurentiis. We have made it a couple of times, and it just blows me away each time. This time, we used some of the fresh local mushrooms we got in our CSA basket in the risotto - what a great use of fungus! Anyway, the greens in the salad were also from the basket. Too bad the pork was from the grocery store or we would have had a trifecta. Oh well, it was still good, and we had leftovers for lunch! Yum!

Terrible news

There was a shooting on the UCA campus last night. We were not anywhere near it, and I only found out this morning when I was reading the newspaper, although we heard the sirens. At the time, we didn't know what they were, only that they were persistent. 2 people were killed. It doesn't sound like it was a rampage or anything, but it is still horrible. For updated news, you can check the UCA website here.

I have always thought of the schools we were at as safe places. Yes, UT was the site of the infamous Tower Shooting in the 1960s, but it seemed like that couldn't happen again. I mean, UT's police force is huge. And Brockport and UCA are smaller, less volatile sorts of places. Even if this turns out to be a domestic disturbance or gang fight or something like that, this really shakes my sense of security.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Basket o' bounty

On Saturday we picked up our monthly basket of local food. We missed last month's because I never got the email, but that problem seems to have been fixed. Anyway, here is what we got this time round:
* 2 loaves of whole grain bread
* 1/2 lb yellow cheddar, 1/2 lb jalapeno cheddar
* Quart whole milk (used for some chocolate milk and fresh yogurt)
* Gallon sized bag of kale
* Gallon sized bag of mustard greens
* Bag of salad greens
* 1 lb beefalo
* 1 dozen eggs
* Peppers, various kinds and sizes
* Apples - Arkansas blacks, and something else
* Sweet potatoes
* 2 bags of Shiitake mushrooms (some used for a really good mushroom risotto)
* Pint jar of pumpkin butter
One loaf of bread is already gone (it wasn't very big), used for grilled cheese sandwiches and just for eating, since it was really good. The kale, mustard greens, and mushrooms will be used in various recipes this week, as will the sweet potatoes. As I noted above, I made a batch of yogurt using the milk - I am just glad to be able to have milk that is not ultra-pasteurized - that makes it impossible to make yogurt. All the groceries around here only carry ultra-pasteurized organic milk, except the Whole Foods, but that is in Little Rock, which is not very convenient. The apples will be eaten in lunches.

We are trying to decide if we want to renew our subscription for another three months after November. It is a lot of food, and a fairly good deal to get all that and get it delivered. We enjoy getting surprises that we have to figure out how to use. is sort of expensive, and it only comes once a month. By next week, I bet that all that is left of the basket is the pumpkin butter, some of the sweet potatoes, and maybe a few apples. Oh, and some cheese. We shall have to see. In the meantime, we will just enjoy the bounty.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A cool new online resource

I found this resource reading through some magazines at work: It is a free, private file sharing web site that you can use to share files, or just transfer them from one computer to another, without having to take a flash drive. I am trying it out as a way to share pictures with my parents. I know, I could use flikr or some such photo site, but I don't really want to set all that up, and neither do my parents. This is pretty easy. It has some bugs in it, but if you can get around them, it is pretty neat. And you do get what you pay for.

My first reference question...

And I screwed it up! Doh! Yup, I was sitting at the desk, got a call asking for a book. I looked it up, couldn't find it, told the patron so, and he hung up. But - I should have done it differently. I didn't look it up several ways, by author and title, because when I looked one way it didn't come up, but the way I looked after he hung up it did. Also, I could have, should have, looked at the local public library catalog too. Doh! And, I should have made sure to get his number so I could call him back to give him better information. Sigh. A learning experience. :)

Obama Endorsement

Today The New York Times endorsed Barack Obama for president. Read the full endorsement here.


Wahoo! It is Friday of my first week at the new job. Fridays are much more exciting when you work than when you stay home all week. If all your days are the same, there is no reason to celebrate the end of the work week. Actually, my week hasn't been all that bad. Apart from the overwhelming feeling of trying to learn who everyone is, and having to get up early again, the job itself is going well. My co-workers are all very helpful and nice, and I am not being dumped into the shark tank of scary reference questions.

I do have plans for the weekend. I am afraid they aren't very exciting: Grocery shopping, early voting, cleaning, exercising, the normal sorts of things that working people do. We do get a new CSA basket this weekend, so that should be fun.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Which candidate do you match up with? (Take 2)

A while back I posted a link to a quiz that helped determine which presidential candidate you match up with. Well, now that the field has narrowed quite a bit, I have found another poll - It lets you set your interests among a list of the usual suspects, and then answer questions about them. I lined up with Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party candidate. As much as I would like to vote for her, I am pretty sure (99.99%) I will be voting for Obama - simply because there is an actual chance he could win Arkansas if enough people like me vote for him.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Episode 282, in which our heroine starts a new job

Yup, I started my new job today. I am now a reference librarian for the Arkansas State Library. Woo! Of course, being the first day, I didn't actually do anything resembling my job, since it was all paperwork, tours, introductions, and so forth. In lieu of anything interesting about the job, here are a couple of pictures. The top is the state capitol building in the early morning light. It is quite pretty, inside and out (that was one of the tours). It is supposed to be modeled on the capitol in Washington D.C. - but it mostly reminds me of the Texas capitol building (probably because I have never been to D.C.) only smaller. As they say, everything is bigger in Texas.

This is the outside of part of my office building. My desk is straight ahead, and a bit to the left, behind the tree branch. Yes, for those of you who work at the HRC, I have WINDOWS! This is a big deal to an archivist - we usually end up in basements or other windowless rooms - it is for the good of the materials, of course, but still windows are awfully nice...

Anyway, I am sure I will be telling y'all more about the job as I get settled in and actually start doing work. And I will post more pictures of the capitol as I take them - of some of the statues and so forth. I am not sure how much baking I will be doing now, or reading, or least not during the week. The commute is (so far) the only real bad thing about the job - it is around an hour from door to desk/desk to door. The long distance is the main culprit, since the traffic isn't anything to write about, compared to Seattle or Austin (my two main standards of comparison). Sigh. I guess I will be getting a lot of books on tape.

Butterfield Trail

Here are a couple of pictures from our weekend 15 mile hiking trip. Above, you can see my nifty backpack, as well as some of the rocks we walked through. The tree in front of me was knocked down in a windstorm, or bent over after another tree fell on it. (Can't remember which for that particular tree, but there were plenty of both alongside the trail).

This is a view down Blackburn Creek, one of two main creeks that run beside the trail. We camped beside this one on Friday night. The trees are just starting to turn - I am sure they will be gorgeous in another week or two. The moon was near full, and when I got up briefly around 3 AM, it was almost bright enough to read by - beautiful.

You can see all the rocks on this hillside. There were certainly a lot of rocks - on the hills, on the trail, in the creek. And there were a lot of trees. We saw about 10 deer on Saturday morning - otherwise, no wildlife. Not even a squirrel. No other hikers - apart from two groups we saw who were leaving as we hiked in, and three other people on the trail, who camped elsewhere. It was peaceful and just what we needed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Heading for the woods

Benjamin has a couple of days off for the mid-semester break, so we are taking Friday and Saturday for a quick overnight backpacking trip into the Ozarks. One of the first things we bought when we arrived was a guidebook to Arkansas hiking trails, in the hope that we would get out more. We did very well before school started, but not so much since early September. Ah well, this time we will spend the night in the woods on the Butterfield Trail at Devil's Den State Park. This is the first time since our trip to the beach in July that we will be using our nice new backpacks. If only I also had a nice pair of hiking boots to replace the pair that disintegrated in the Adirondacks. Hopefully my sturdy walking shoes will hold up. So, see you in a few days.


I am no longer unemployed!!! I just got a call from the Arkansas State Library - I am their newest reference librarian. Hurray!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Let them eat bread!

Since we moved away from Austin, I have been baking about a loaf of bread a week. Most of the time, the bread recipe comes from The Tassajara Bread Book, but once in a while I remember my favorite recipe from childhood, a three grain loaf that Mom used to make. I have no idea where she got it, a magazine or newspaper most likely, but I just love it. The bread is delicious toasted with Parmesan cheese on top, or spread with jam, or used in a tuna sandwich. I made a loaf this weekend, to have with vegetable soup, and was inspired to share it with you.

The original recipe makes two loaves, and since we barely get through one loaf before it starts to go bad, I have cut it in half. If you want two loaves, simple double all the ingredients. It also is rather crumbly, so I added extra wheat gluten. According to one of our bread books, whole grain flours are low in gluten, which is what helps the molecules hold together, so adding extra gluten to the mix helps attain a better texture. You should be able to find wheat gluten (also called high gluten flour or just gluten flour) in the baking section of the grocery store, or in the bulk section of a natural food store. It should be kept in the fridge. The recipe calls for rolled oats - do not use quick cooking oats - get the real thing. You could also substitute spelt flakes, or wheat flakes, if you can get some. They are sometimes available at health food or natural food stores. You could also substitute oat bran for the wheat germ, but the bread will probably be a bit heavier. This time around I used some egg substitute I had left over from another recipe instead of an actual egg, and it seemed to work fine. If you want to cut down on cholesterol, this is a good choice.

Three Grain Bread (slightly modified a la Hope)
makes 1 9"x4" loaf

1 1/2 - 2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup cornmeal
3 tablespoons wheat gluten
1 teaspoon salt
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast
1/2 cup hot water (but not boiling - this will kill the yeast)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
5 oz can evaporated milk (if doubling, use 1 regular/large can)
1/4 cup honey or brown sugar
1 egg or equivalent amount egg substitute

1) Stir together 1/2 cup bread flour, whole wheat flour, oats, wheat germ, cornmeal, gluten, salt and yeast.
2) Combine hot water, butter, milk, honey, and egg. Stir into the flour mixture. If using a mixer, beat for two minutes at medium speed. If beating by hand, beat until well mixed, about 200 hundred strokes.
3) Gradually stir in the remaining bread flour until the dough is stiff and comes away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a floured board or counter and knead until smooth and elastic, 5-10 minutes.
4) Place dough in an oiled or greased bowl, cover with a clean towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour to an hour and a half.
5) Remove the dough from the bowl, knead a few times, then shape into a loaf and place in an oiled loaf pan. Let rise until the dough is above the top of the pan, or doubled in size. Begin to pre-heat the oven to 375 F. Once the dough has risen, you can make an egg wash with on egg and a tablespoon of milk, or simply brush with milk, if you wish.
6) Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 F and bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is brown and it sounds hollow when tapped. Let the bread cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool completely on a rack.

Monday, October 13, 2008

My day away from the news

After my last post, I decided to take a day off from the news, in all its forms. So, I didn't listen to the radio, read the newspaper on-line, watch TV news, or read a several week old issue of the New York Times Magazine that I had lying around. I didn't even check my email more than about 3 times all day, which is a very low number for me. And it felt nice. While I missed having the radio on in the background while I got breakfast and tidied up, and I missed reading blogs, I did not miss hearing an endless repeat of the financial news and political yakking. The hardest thing really was not reading my email or repeatedly checking blogs, even though there wasn't anything to read. And you know what? When I did return to the news on Saturday, nothing had changed. No big surprises, no revelations; everything was pretty much as I left it on Thursday night. Maybe I will make this a weekly thing, until the election at least.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Make it stop

Okay. I have had enough - of the presidential campaigns, of the financial crisis, of the analysis of both on all forms of media. I think I need to take a vacation somewhere remote, where there are no TVs, radios, computers, newspapers, telegraphs, telephones... how hard do you think it would be to get a ride to the moon? Seriously, I cannot stand all the lies, spin, and analysis - I feel rather seasick.

Am I supposed to feel worried about the financial markets? I don't own a house, have very little invested (less than I used to, sigh), have my money in a small local credit union and a secure savings bank, and just don't see how it will effect me. Should I start hoarding food? I wish someone would give us some concrete advice, apart from don't panic. I don't feel panicky, I just have a headache.

Does anyone have a way to turn me into a cat until it all blows over?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ms. Maverick says that John McCain is no Maverick

It's true, there is an actual Maverick family, descendants of Samuel A. Maverick (see above), the man who's name came to be used as we know it today to mean someone who is independent minded. And they are NOT endorsing John McCain, in fact, their family has long (and by long I mean centuries) been associated with progressive politics and causes. Read all about it in the NY Times article.

This is a maverick.

This is a bunch of bull****
Images used under a Creative Commons License.

Latin es gaudia et utilis!

All hail Latin classes! This article in the NY Times says that Latin is growing in favor as a class in middle schools and high schools across the country (never mind that most of the examples they cite are in NY state...). I took Latin in college (met Benjamin there, as a matter of fact), and really wished it had been available at my high school. So did Bonny Anne, who went so far as to teach herself Latin in her spare time. If you want to understand grammar, and want to be able to decode strange epitaphs, Latin is the language to know.

Monday, October 6, 2008


I haven't been writing much about my culinary feats lately, although there have been a few. (Well, perhaps feats is a little strong, but what the heck, it is my blog, isn't it?). Anyway, last week I baked molasses cookies on Thursday, zucchini/broccoli bread on Friday (my friend Jenn taught me that trick - you use broccoli in place of some or all of the zucchini in the recipe. She does it to get her kids to eat more vegetables; I did it just to give it a try. It isn't too bad, taste-wise, although it does smell strongly of broccoli) and a nice batch of plain old egg bread on Saturday. We have had several good soups lately too.

See the new cow crock next to the toaster? $3 at the thrift store

But today was all about applesauce. It was one of the few foods I would eat as a baby, according to my parents, and while I have branched out these days, I still enjoy it. Last year, I made several batches with the apples I picked, but never in large batches. This year, I decided to give canning applesauce a try, since I had such success with the peaches. Making applesauce is pretty easy: cut up apples, (remove skins and seeds if you don't have a food mill), put in pot with some water, boil until soft, mash or put in blender. Eat. Easy. Canning only really adds one more step - the water bath.

I made two batches of applesauce, since I wasn't sure how much the first batch would make, and in the end was able to can 7 pint jars worth. So now we will be able to have homemade applesauce this winter! I have plenty of apples left, since I bought an entire box last week, so I will probably have enough to make one more batch of applesauce to fill the last 5 empty jars I have, and still have some left over to eat and make a pie with. Yum. Apples - how I love them!

SNL does Palin-Biden

This is just great! I laughed so hard I would have shot beer out my nose, if I had been drinking...Maverick!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Palin bingo

So for those of you who are planning to watch tonight's vic-prez debate, here is something to make it more enjoyable: Palin Bingo! I was alerted to this great public service by one of the political blogs I read on a regular basis, Cogitamus. I might just print out a couple of these cards for Benjamin and I tonight. I am mostly just hoping that she says something that helps the campaign self-implode...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Go Barack Go!

I just finished reading The Audacity of Hope. I usually avoid books by politicians and celebrities, because they tend to be a rehashing of stories widely available in the press, or just bad writing. Not so with this one. I am glad I read it - it makes me more enthusiastic about Obama, and more hopeful that he can help to get this country back on track if he wins. On that point, however, I am very worried. I am just terrified that McCain will win and then become incapacitated somehow, and then Sarah Palin will be acting president. Please folks, don't let this happen. Vote for Obama and encourage all your friends and relatives to do the same.

We watched the presidential debate last week with a group of other like-minded people. I got a free t-shirt, the cops stopped by a couple of times to make us turn the TV down (we were watching outside using a projector and a garage door), and people drove by, honking car horns and shouting racial slurs at us. Welcome to the south. Sigh.