redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Mar. 28th, 2019 09:26 pm)
I re-colored my hair this morning, about an hour before going to my doctor's office. Both the receptionist and the nurse practitioner commented favorably on the purple.

After I saw the doctor, [personal profile] cattitude and I went over to Powderhouse Square and had a sushi lunch with his sister, who teaches at Tufts. That was at Yoshi's Sushi; I had decent though unspectacular eel and cucumber and sweet potato rolls, and a disappointingly bland shrimp and mango roll.

It turns out I don't need a referral or a routine mammogram, I should just call Mount Auburn Hospital and make an appointment. (I have put a reminder into my calendar to call soon; I didn't feel like dealing with it this afternoon.
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Mar. 4th, 2019 12:16 pm)
We just had what is definitely a French toast storm, with lots of snow, schools closed, etc. (though Somerville seems to be doing well at clearing the streets, and the buses are running down Highland Avenue). Being a prepared sort of hobbit, I have milk, eggs, and challah--a bakery at the winter farmers market makes good challah, and sometimes I freeze some for days like this. So, I am about to make the canonical lunch, and there will be much rejoicing.

The maple syrup is local, also from the farmers market.
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Feb. 25th, 2019 10:48 pm)
I made a sweet potato and cauliflower curry for dinner tonight, because I got some nice-looking small sweet potatoes at the farmers market on Saturday. I wanted a second vegetable (along with the background onion and apple), and we have lots of frozen cauliflower.

Cauliflower, or at least frozen cauliflower, was too bland for this. I liked how the sweet potato came out well enough that I'm going to try this again. The spicing this time was a mix of Penzey's Singapore seasoning and garam masala, ground ginger, roasted garlic powder, cumin, and thyme. I started by sauteeing diced onion and Granny Smith apple, then sprinkled the spices on that to cook for a couple of minutes. Then added chicken broth, brought it to a simmer, put in slices of sweet potato and a handful of raisins, and simmered for about ten minutes. (Then I added the cauliflower.) It took about twenty minutes for the sweet potato to be cooked through, at which point I added lemon juice and three tablespoons of coconut milk, and served it over white rice.

I also started on the pre-surgery eye drops this morning; those went pretty smoothly, both the four/day antibiotics and the once-a-day Ilevro.
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Feb. 17th, 2019 09:56 pm)
Despite being awake late last night, I woke up a little after 7 a.m. I made tea, then went down to the fitness center. This time I did a few exercises and soaked in the hot tub for a bit, which my legs appreciated.

That took me to about 8:30. There was no Sunday morning programming that interested me, and I didn't feel like hanging out for a couple of hours hoping someone I knew would walk past and be in a mood for conversation, so I got dressed, checked out, and headed home. (Judy Bemis saw me in the lobby as I was heading out; we hugged goodbye as she explained that she was on her way to a shift in the con treasury.)

I stopped off at South Station and grabbed a savory croissant at the Pret a Manget; I hadn't wanted to wait in line at the hotel lobby Starbucks, but it seemed imprudent to wait until I got home. One disadvantage of this year's Boskone is that the con suite had only packaged snacks--chips, candy, cookies, I think some little packets of cheese and crackers, rather than bagels or donuts, or the lots and lots of hard boiled eggs they've had in previous years. There wasn't even milk for the coffee and tea, just packets of sugar and creamer. (This seems to have been a change in hotel policy.) If I go to another con at that hotel, and stay overnight, I am going to make sure to bring yogurt and other food I can keep in the fridge. (I'd bought a couple of single-serving yogurts, and forgot to grab them on my way out of Adrian's apartment Friday; if I'd known how limited the con suite would be, I'd have stopped in South Station and at least gotten some more yogurt.)

Since getting home I have played three games of Scrabble with [personal profile] cattitude, combed Molly, proofread one short article for Queue, stretched and exercised, and unloaded (twice), reloaded (twice), and run the dishwasher. Tomorrow's plan is more Scrabble, proofreading, stretching, and playing with the cats.
As usual, this is ingredients rather than preparations:

I tried two new vegetables this year. Huitlacoche is an edible fungus which grows on maize plants; I had it in a quesadilla, with a very bland cheese. I liked it a lot when the dish was first put in front of me, hot, but less so after it cooled off. (Tenoch serves large quesadillas.)

Koori squash is a small orange winter squash; based on one sample, I prefer acorn or butternut squash and probably won't get koori again if one of the others looks good.

(I also got to try four new-to-me varieties of apple.)
redbird: The Unisphere in New York's Flushing Meadow Park, with sunset colors (unisphere)
( Dec. 24th, 2018 08:45 pm)
We had one full day in New York on this trip, and [personal profile] cattitude spent part of it visiting a friend on the Island. [personal profile] adrian_turtle and I met my mother at the Cloisters at around noon. On our way uptown, we'd gotten into line for a Metrocard vending machine when a stranger came over to the line and asked if we had just gotten into the city. When we and the woman in front of us said yes, she handed us each an unlimited-ride Metrocard with four days left on it, saying that she was leaving town and didn't want them to go to waste. The woman in front of us asked "how much?" and the donor shook her head and said "Merry Christmas."

The trip uptown was unremarkable, and I found that I have a good memory for the details of that trip, including the irrelevant ones: I knew we were approaching 110th when the track sloped downward, and then (having lost count of stations) recognized 145th by the color of the pillars supporting the roof.

Adrian was delighted by the Cloisters, including the famous Unicorn Tapestries. This visit what caught my eye most was sculpture and artifacts (including a unicorn-shaped hand-washing pitcher in the room with those tapestries); when we went downstairs to the Treasury, I pointed out the wooden carvings on the staircase we had just descended. We had time to look at almost everything before we decided it was past time for lunch, which we got at the diner Cattitude used to go to regularly when we lived in Inwood. The staff has changed and the menu is shorter than it was, but it was basic good diner food, and they still know how to make tea.

Then we took the train down to the Village so we could go to Varsano's, my old favorite chocolate shop, which [personal profile] roadnotes had first introduced me to. I was pleasantly surprised not to have to wait (the Saturday right before Christmas), and we bought lots of interesting chocolate. My mother asked the difference between a lemon cream and a lemon truffle. I wasn't sure and asked the shop assistant; she passed the question to Mark Varsano, who explained and then put one of each on the counter for Mom to taste.

After I'd paid for my chocolate, Mark said something like "I still miss our friend," meaning Roadnotes, and we talked about her a little; one thing he mentioned was her dry sense of humor. I'd been afraid I would have to be the one to tell him she had died, and warned Adrian on our way downtown that I might need my hand held—but it's unsurprising that the same "small town that just happens to have eight million people feeling" that had Mark asking me how she was after she moved to Seattle means he'd gotten the sad news from some other mutual friend.

here there be politics, but relatively low-stress, I think )

The day involved a lot of walking, including at least ten flights of stairs; by the time we headed back to our hotel my ankles were complaining about the stairs in front of my aunt's building, but my knee and hips were (and are) doing okay.
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Dec. 23rd, 2018 09:10 pm)
Cattitude, Adrian, and I just spent a couple of days in New York City, mostly to see my mother. We talked a lot, walked a lot, and ate some good food. Good sushi at a randomly selected restaurant Friday evening, and Ukrainian food for lunch today before we came back to Boston. I had two kinds of pierogi: truffled mushroom, new on Veselka's menu since my last visit, and sweet potato.

I also showed Adrian the Cloisters, and we had dinner last night with my aunt Lea, her husband Dave, and my cousin Janet, as well as Mom.

[I will try to post more later, but want to at least touch on this before falling over. Tonight the cats need my attention.]
redbird: closeup photo of an apricot (food)
( Nov. 14th, 2018 05:58 pm)
I bought two locally grown honeycrisp apples at the farmers market on Monday, and just ate one.

I liked it: large, sweet, juicy, and yes crisp, with a good though not intense apple flavor. It's a good eating apple, though I suspect it wouldn't be great for baking. I'm a little skeptical about it as a cider apple; I've seen "100% Honeycrisp" labels on half gallons of apple cider, here as well as in Washington.

I'd had a Washington-grown Honeycrisp apple when we were living in Bellevue and been disappointed. That was when I was trying varieties I hadn't tasted here in the Northeast, some (like Pacific Rose) that I hadn't heard of until I moved to Washington, before I realized that Washington apples are all bland, because of either the soil, the climate, or both.

(This post is mostly for my own reference. It may also help you calibrate my apple reviews, since a lot of people have tried Honeycrisps.)
Friday was my (rescheduled) date night with [personal profile] adrian_turtle. We had a quiet evening (and morning) at her place; we cooked chicken, and had that, rolls, and salad for dinner, with enough left to make another meal for her. Saturday I came home via Arlington Heights, stopping at Penzey's for nutmeg, horseradish powder, and their latest free sample offer, "Bavarian seasoning," which I decided was worth trying as a blend with neither salt, sugar, nor hot peppers.

I baked Quick After-Battle Chocolate Cake, because I felt like baking. It was quite tasty, but would have been quicker if I hadn't had to start by mixing up chocolate soy milk*, and if I hadn't then spent several minutes looking for the electric mixer, and thinking about what to make since I couldn't find it, before [personal profile] cattitude found it behind something on a shelf in a closet.

Cattitude made salmon and asparagus, and after dinner he put a candle in the cake and he and Adrian sang "Happy Birthday" to me. We were eating seconds of the cake when the power went out. Glancing around we saw it wasn't just our building, but a multi-block area. If I can believe the Eversource phone system, I was one of the first people to report the outage. About half an hour later, I got a call that T-Mobile flagged as "SCAM LIKELY," so I let it go to voicemail. It turned out to be Eversource with an update on when they thought they'd have the electricity back on, which has me wondering about their scam detection algorithms.

Adrian left around 9, and we got the power back about 9:40, which was long enough to conclude that we need more, or better, flashlights (and not just because one of mine is vacationing in Cambridge).

When we woke up this morning we had no heat or hot water; it took me a while to figure out that this wasn't just me feeling cold. The repair crew got those back on about 3 p.m., so it could have been a lot worse. The management company told me (around 10:30 a.m.) that it would be a few hours because they needed parts; I don't know if the timing on this is coincidence, or if the power failure (or restoration) provoked the failure.

*The recipe calls for the milk from a chocolate cow, but I used milk from a patch of chocolate beans instead, so Adrian could eat the cake.
This week's new-to-me apple is Ashmead's kernel, an English heirloom variety. It's crisp, juicy, and has a good apple flavor, nicely balanced between sweet and tart. says its drab appearance "belies a unique peardrop flavor." Eating one right out of the fridge (I like my apples chilled) I didn't notice anything pear-ish. We have two more of these, and I will likely get more next week, if nothing else catches my eye. (It seems to be an okay year for Macoun and indifferent for Macintosh; more Macouns are also an option.)
The last time I ordered the Golden Assam tea I like from McNulty's, I asked them to also send 1/4 pound of the "blended chocolate tea." I just tried a cup, and there's no there there. It's a not very interesting blended black tea, with little or no detectable chocolate. I tried it black, and then added sugar: the sugar made me think vague chcolate thoughts, but I think that was because all the chocolates I eat are sweetened, almost always with sugar. With milk and sugar, it might as well have been Red Rose: drinkable, but no more than that, and weaker than I expected for the amount of tea I used.

I poured that out, put the kettle on again, and am now drinking a cup of my usual Assam. While I drink an occasional cup of spice tea (mostly various "chai spice" teabags), my day-t0-day tea is the Assam, Irish breakfast (sometimes teabags are easier), and various teas in that direction that are the closest that a given restaurant or cafe has. Until I was writing this, it didn't occur to me that I could have made spiced tea instead of plain after giving up on the "chocolate."

I mostly order from McNulty's by phone, rather than going online and possibly looking at the catalog. The phone conversations manage to be both brief and chatty; they have my address and a credit card number on file, and the guy at the store once apologized for not recognizing my voice after I gave my name(!) This time, I'd been looking at their online catalog because someone posted about the chocolate spice tea she liked having been discontinued/replaced with something different under the same name, and I was wondering whether either McNulty's or Porto Rico had an alternative. I didn't think a non-spice chocolate tea would satisfy, but was feeling curious enough to order some.
I was planning to go to a protest today (against the proposed change to the "public charge" rule). I wrote down the location, and looked up transit info; the MBTA suggested taking the red line to Downtown Crossing and walking from there.

I allowed lots of time, so I could grab a bite to eat at Pret a Manger. Then I tried following Google Maps directions. Which not only got me lost, but was sufficiently confusing that the "distance/time to destination" was increasing as often as decreasing. I finally got to the address I was looking for, and there was nothing there: not only no rally, but no park or other space one could have been held in.

By then it was well after the announced starting time, so I decided to cut my losses: I might not have known where I was going, but I knew where I was, and how to get to the Green Line from there. I thought "chalk it up to exercise," then remembered that two weeks ago (or any time in the year or so before that) I would have been in pain after doing what my phone thought was a little over two kilometers. Today, I got off the train at Lechmere and walked to Toscanini's for a restorative hot fudge sundae (adding about another kilometer to the total for the outing).

At Tosci's, the server commented that she liked my "I stand with immigrants, and I vote" pin, in a way that led me to ask if she'd like it. She said something like "if you're sure," and I told her I had two more at home, and then explained where I'd gotten them. (The last time I volunteered with MIRA to register voters, they had a bagful and were happy for me to grab a couple of extras to share.)

The ice cream was good, as always: I had raspberry and sweet cream in my sundae, and brought home pints of chocolate chip and raspberry. The rest of the afternoon involved a little bit of paid proofreading, and some (mostly PT) exercises.

Dinner tonight was ravioli and a roast koori squash, a variety we hadn't had before: small, bright orange, and based on one sample [personal profile] cattitude and I both prefer acorn squash, but I would be happy to eat this again, and it's a better size to serve as a side dish for two people. A roast acorn or butternut squash for two people is the centerpiece of the meal.

Tomorrow will be a rest day; more proofreading, but no long walks or exercises for the sake of exercise.
redbird: closeup photo of an apricot (food)
( Oct. 10th, 2018 05:30 pm)
The flesh of the Shamrock apple is somewhat soft but not mealy (except for the bit near the stem, which I ate last). A mild flavor, not too sweet and a little bit tart. The peel is almost entirely green, and the apple is shaped a bit like a Macintosh or Macoun.

The sign at the Kimball Fruit Farms stand described this as relatively tart and "a good substitute for Granny Smith"; if the one I just tried is typical it's a reasonable apple to just pick up and eat, but I would choose some other variety for cooking. says the parentage is "spur Macintosh X spur Golden Delicious."

(We bought two of these; I'll update this if the other is significantly different. This is the Fall 2018 Massachusetts harvest.)
This meetup was this morning (starting around 10) at the Harvard Art Museum cafe. I was up relatively early, so headed over.

The directions said to go diagonally across Harvard Yard from the T station. I got a bit lost and did significant extra walking, but it was a fine morning for it. When I got there, there was good conversation about things like libraries and travel; someone with a blue streak in her hair complimented my purple. A pleasant couple of hours, well worth the trip. (The buses on Highland Avenue aren't very good on Sunday, but I figured it's a meetup, I could get there partway through, and aimed for the first bus that wouldn't get me there before 10:00, and that was fine.)

After the meetup I walked around the Harvard Square area. My first goal was Staples, where I got sheets of printer-compatible cardboard perforated for postcards. That taken care of, I had an okay steamed pork bun at a place called BaoBao that's next to the Staples, then went to the Charles Square farmers' market. I have more Esopus Spitzenburg apples and more of the Moroccan carrot and chick pea ravioli (the things I was specifically looking for), plus apple cider, cauliflower, and beets. So far I've had one apple and some of the cider; tonight's dinner was a cabbage [personal profile] cattitude got at the Arlington market on Wednesday, with bacon and caraway seeds.
redbird: closeup photo of an apricot (apricot)
( Aug. 24th, 2018 04:40 pm)
[personal profile] adrian_turtle bought some Elstar apples at the farmers' market on Wednesday, and I got to taste one yesterday. Ie was sweet, crisp, and a little tart. It's a good early-season apple (much like the zestar I tried almost exactly a year ago) The Orange Pippin fruit website describes it as "one of the best Golden Delicious offspring"; I wouldn't have guessed that ancestry from Elstar's flavor, texture, or appearance. It doesn't appear to be related to zestar*, despite both being good early-season apples and having similar names and appearances (the peel is a mix of pale red and green).

*except in the sense that any two domestic apple cultivars are more closely related to each other than either is to a pear, or a poodle
Our cat Molly is recovering quite well; I've been putting a chair next to my desk so she can jump up easily, after seeing her leap from the floor once. (She succeeded, but leaping could be bad for healing, given that the incision was in her abdomen.) We have finished with the liquid medications (an opioid pain-killer and an anti-inflammatory) and are just giving her antibiotic pills, much easier on the humans and the cat.

I only got to spend a couple of hours at [personal profile] adrian_turtle's place last week, because dosing the cat is a two-human job, so I couldn't be out overnight. Instead, Adrian came over here for dinner Thursday night, and kindly offered to make chicken and turmeric soup because I was finding the prospect of making the curry I had planned rather daunting.

Being less stressed, and needing to spend less time and energy on cat care, I am caught up on my own exercises. I didn't walk very far today, because my hips started to hurt soon after I stepped out the front door. My recovery is going a lot more slowly than Molly's.

I am likely to be busier than usual with freelance work this coming week. The latest chapter of the book I'm editing is more than twice as long as the one before it. Despite that, I asked my newish client for another chapter to proofread, and my contact thee sent a longer one than any I've done for them before.

I got an excellent yellow watermelon at the farmers' market in Copley Square on Tuesday (along with lots of berries, a cucumber, and some smoked fish pate). This afternoon, [personal profile] cattitude went to Shaw's (Star Market) for groceries, and bought another watermelon, which I should cut into soon, before the next farmers' market trip.
My usual method for black beans and rice is based on the recipe on the Goya can; however, rather than buy their seasoning mix, I grab whatever seems good at the time, usually including cumin and oregano.

So, I had the chopped onion and bell pepper ready, the bacon was cooking (the base recipe not only doesn't call for bacon, it's quietly vegan), and I grabbed the jars of spice and the measuring spoons. Singapore seasoning, cumin, garam masala, ginger…and then realized I'd forgotten the garlic, and threw in a bit of garlic powder because it was quicker than using fresh.

…I took the bacon out to cool and cut up (and put back in at the end of the cooking), sauteed the vegetables in the bacon fat, added the beans to the pan, stirred in the spices and a bit of water and vinegar, and realized that I'd mixed up the spices I would normally use for a chicken or shrimp curry.

At that point there wasn't much to do but finish cooking and hope it worked.

It worked well enough to be dinner, but this isn't going to become my standard spicing for black beans, though I may try using more cumin and ginger than I have in the past. It's also not going to replace the rather tomatoey chick pea curry recipe I've made a few times. Still, variety is good, even if in this case it came from getting sidetracked on something that I've made often enough that I don't need to think about it.
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Jul. 4th, 2018 02:09 pm)
It's July, which means JP Licks has cucumber ice cream. I bought a quart over the weekend, and will get more when I eat that. (This year I will try to remember to buy another quart around July 25, rather than going back on the 31st and hoping they have some left.) In general, I prefer Toscanini's, but AFAIK they don't make cucumber ice cream, and they change their flavors more frequently and less predictably.

Somerville's Independence Day fireworks were postponed (because of thunderstorms) from June 28th; they are now scheduled for tomorrow, July 5. So far this year, that's two patriotic holiday observances rescheduled (the other being the commemoration of the raising what may have been the first American flag, on January 1, 1776), and one canceled, the Memorial Day parade, which had been scheduled for a week before the holiday.

We're in the middle of a heat wave; I may not leave my air-conditioned apartment today, despite the lure of a farmers market in Davis Square. Yesterday the city email alert system sent out a message about the heat wave, listing places to cool off, including "Family-Friendly Activities": three public pools and one ice skating rink. (many of which it noted are closed today).
This was both a new ingredient and a new dish: quesadilla de maĆ­z con huitlacoche.

Huitlacoche was glossed on the menu board as "corn fungus," which is fair enough: it's parasitic on maize plants. What they brought me wasn't what I'm used to seeing under the name "quesadilla," but a large (12-inch) corn tortilla filled with sauteed fungus and a bit of onion, topped with a very mild white cheese (queso fresco) and swimming in a fairly bland salsa verde. And there was a lot of it.

I'm glad I tried this, but mostly because I'd been vaguely curious about huitlacoche for years. I enjoyed the first few bites more than I liked what was still on my plate after ten minutes; I think this dish needs to be eaten hot, and it's a lot of food for one middle-aged woman who isn't feeling ravenous. I might consider ordering this again, if I found myself at Tenoch with a couple of other people who can eat both mushrooms and dairy and wanted to share it and a sandwich. Since that describes neither [personal profile] cattitude nor [personal profile] adrian_turtle, I'm more likely to go back and get something else—I liked the bit of torta that Cattitude gave me—or a couple of tacos.

Both this and the tacos I've had at Taqueria Victoria in Arlington Center are not just within my spice tolerance, but actually mild; most things labeled "Tex-Mex" are too spicy for me since I had my gall bladder out, which was long enough ago that I am used to it, though there are foods I miss.

There's a Tenoch near Davis Square in Somerville, and one in Medford Square, and I believe they have a food truck.
This week, the MIRA-sponsored voter registration was at 11 a.m. on Monday (rather than 1 p.m. on either Monday or Thursday), at the Museum of Fine Arts. I decided that was compatible with 2:30 physical therapy in Davis Square, and signed up.

The ceremony was held in a rather nice auditorium in the MFA. The MFA (or maybe Homeland Security, which organizes the naturalization ceremonies) invited MIRA to set up tables in the hallway outside, instead of out on the sidewalk. The ceremony started at 11 a.m., meaning newly naturalized citizens started walking out at about 11:45. I registered up at least twice as many people as I did any of the previous timesI did this, including one who was already a citizen and was there to watch a relative be sworn in. Part of why we did this well is that, once things slowed down, we went into the auditorium to ask people who were waiting in line to apply for passports if they wanted to register to vote while they were there.

Another small nice thing: the MFA offered free one-year memberships to all the just-naturalized citizens and their families. I overheard one person asking an MFA employee if that applied to her, since she was already a member. He asked her to wait, looked her up on their system, and extended her membership by a year.

When we were done, I got on the Green Line to Boylston Street, and headed into Chinatown for lunch. It turns out that Yang Chow fried rice, at least as done by Dumpling Cafe, includes squid; fortunately, I like squid.

Then I went to PT; rather than having lots of time to kill, I was there only slightly early. The PT session went well: it was mostly evaluation, because most of what I'll be doing for my knee is stuff I am already doing for the hips.

details, not TMI but possibly tedious )

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