Saturday, December 31, 2011

Quiet Night In.
Just us with some mollusks & feet from the stomachs, a big crustacean, a bottle of Loire Valley bubbly and some Strauss on the radio.

Time for bed now, though it isn't quite midnight; have had enough of 2011.  Hopefully your New Year's a happy and safe one.  Best wishes for 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Three Easy Pieces II:  Felt.  

Heavens, did life get a bit hectic lately.  Took a trip back to the Heimatstadt to visit my dad, came back to the launching pad, then flung myself across the Big Blue again.  Somehow papers managed to get sorted somewhat and stuff got mailed that needed to be mailed right away.  The knitting WIP pile is slowly shrinking, though not as quickly as I'd like.  Other stuff will get done in due time.

When I couldn't concentrate on some of the larger projects (have three shawls going right now) for love or money, took to knitting scraps of wool into squares or rectangles, beating the fibers into submission in the washer and dryer, then playing at origami:

Three little green bowls.  Sent them off to Karen as a sort of half-a$$ed housewarming gift until I get her real one done and, well, her new house gets finished being built.

Two resolutions for 2012 are to work through more of my yarn stash (greatly augmented by my new thrift-store sweater unraveling mania) and to get better organized. I'm thinking that these guys could help me kill two birds with one stone.  A recipe for the square versions pictured below can be found here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Frenchie dropped a couple strings of LEDs down a couple flights of stairs with an ethereal, almost eerie effect.  It's kind of a Visual equivalent to that Kate Bush Christmas song I like so much.

Here's to hoping that everyone had a happy day - no matter what you celebrate.  Though a little jet-laggy (yes, I'm back across the Grand Bleu), am doing pretty well.  The Frenchie seems in pretty good spirits as well.  The weather's unseasonably warm, which makes the short days a little bit hard to bear sometimes; making it past the psychological hurdle of Solstice really helps, though.

For my first meal back (breakfast; it was a "red eye" flight), was treated to a special surprise:  scrambled eggs with truffles.  Am sad to admit, given how expensive real black truffles* are and all, that I really do love them.  To preserve flavors and not overcook the eggs, he cooked them in a bain marie - that is, in a bowl within a saucepan of hot water.  This turned out so well that we're going to keep up the practice for all our scrambled egg needs, be they with truffles, chives or what have you.

Scrambled Eggs of Champions - serves 2

4 large eggs
approx. 7-10 grams black truffle, finely chopped (this should be about a teaspoon to teaspoon and a half)
A bit of unsalted butter or neutral-flavored oil

Lightly grease or oil a heat-safe bowl.
Crack eggs into a bowl, scramble, add truffles, then transfer to your heat-safe bowl that's been gently heating up in a saucepan of water.  Keeping an eye on the heat (you want the water boiling, but not too violently), stir the egg mixture every minute or so until it sets. 



* Real black truffles from places that haven't been affected by Chernobyl, aren't white ones dyed black, or aren't otherwise adulterated (like soaked in oil, then resold) are very expensive - the going rate around here is about 1000-1200 euro/kg, I think.  A small piece of about 25-30 grams is fairly reasonable and will work for three special breakfasts, or as we did, two special breakfasts and some very lucky olive oil.  Also, truffle bits - what's left over after a traiteur or caterer's sliced one up as a garnish - taste just as good and cost a bit less.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Three Easy Pieces - Warm as Wool, Cool as a Concombre.

Don't know how it was by you this Summer, but ours was characterized by damp, dark, unseasonably cold weather. Heck, to add insult to injury, both the Frenchie and I ended up with head colds.*

When we finally started sprouting mold**, I suggested to the Frenchie that maybe, if for nothing other than our sanity, we head in the general direction of the sun as it obviously wasn't coming our way anytime soon. He called his best old friend from school whom he'd not seen in eons, and then it was settled. Off we headed in the big little Citroen towards Marseilles.

Long and short of it, the direct sun plus the 'southern hospitality' were exactly what a doctor would have ordered. A week became two before we started our way back up to the cold, gray north. Cannot wait to go back.

Now the Frenchie's buddy (who I'm calling Mistral) is, among other things, a bit of a folk humorist, a music historian, a farmer. I asked him if I could make something to thank him for his generosity. His answer was that he'd something green like a cucumber.

So: something green as a cucumber we have to protect the pipes of a cool-as-a-cucumber new friend. (You can download this here.)


* among other things that had to wait to be treated after the Summer break.

** La, je rigole. Really.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Don't know if I mentioned this before, but earlier this year I turned 40. Now, am not a big fan of birthdays*, and would have been perfectly happy to have let the year pass quietly by. The folks at my Health Care Provider, amazingly on the ball that they are, didn't forget.

Long Story Short: things started with a pep talk from my Primary Care Doctor,** saw me through not one, but several photo sessions on a few different machines including ultrasound, then led me to an appointment with the (gulp) breast oncologist and the eventual biopsy.

It's been a little over a week since the procedure and, honestly, I still smart. On the other hand, we are all now 100% sure that the little lump that I'd so affectionately named "verstunkene Schmutz"*** isn't krebsartig, but benign.

Next week, I go back for the followup, and hopefully that's it for six months? A year? Something like that.


* Not because of the fear of aging or anything; just don't tend to be too celebratory in general.

** "Bev, please don't be upset; I know know your difficulties..." she started. "Difficulties" was her wonderfully diplomatic terming of my habit of going into attack mode whenever a person in a white coat even looks at them in askance. The last routine exam improved greatly with my just singing some Jobim and sobbing a little bit afterwards. Feel so badly for my doctor.

*** lousy little sh#t. The doc liked it: direct, no holes barred. Of course, Later found out that she's a fellow former Buffalonian. That sort of cutting through the BS is kind of a regional characteristic.