Tuesday, April 23, 2013

One Lady's Memorabilia is Another Lady's Ephemera

I see a lot of plays.* I am also kind of a packrat. I love paper ephemera. Therefore, it is my default to save all my Playbills/programs for every play I see and put them in a box for Future Reminiscences. I do, in fact, take them out and page through them fondly years later and reminisce, too! I have decided, however, that it is time to acknowledge that not EVERY play I see is worth memorializing in this manner.

So I have developed a method to determine which programs I keep. In a given calendar year, I keep all programs from shows I see in that year. When I get home from a show, I stick my ticket in the program and stash it in a Designated Spot.* Then, the next January, or whenever I see the first show of the next year, I pull out ALL of that year's programs and make the cut. What gets kept gets stored; what gets recycled gets recycled.
These are the shows I saw in 2012. Well, most of them. This is before I made the cut, but after I had misplaced some programs. 

I am now in my second year of using this method and it is working for me for a few reasons. First of all, it is better than storing everything immediately because it creates some built-in reminiscing time about when I saw the shows to reinforce the memories I want to reinforce. And of course it eventually requires less storage space than would storing them all. Besides that, it is also better than making the cut show by show immediately after I see each one because that decision might be one I'd regret later. Seeing all the programs together helps me decide in an informed manner which of the shows counted as the year's best theatrical experiences.

*Many are free; many are heavily, heavily discounted using various memberships.
**It's next to the cookbooks.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Chard Chip Victory!

As we all know, kale chips are The Best. I had tried making chard chips in a similar way in the past, but to no avail. I kept ending up with tough, soggy leaves and disappointment. A couple of days ago, however, I finally achieved Chard Chip Victory! I MIGHT like them more than kale chips.

crisp and delicious.
Chard Chips: 

Wash and dry chard leaves. Remove tough center veiny things.

Chop into pieces the size of the palm of my hand. (Or fine, your own hand.) They'll cook down in size.

Roll in towels to press out all moisture.

Preheat oven to 300 F. Most chard chip recipes say 275; that's probably fine if your oven is reliable.

Dump dry chopped leaves into a bowl; toss with olive oil to coat very lightly and sprinkle spices to taste. I used Penzey's chili powder, cumin, and salt and pepper.

Lay out leaves on a foil-lined cookie sheet in a single layer, not overlapping at all.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until they turn crisp and translucent.

UNLIKE kale chips, I found it was better to slightly undercook rather than slightly overcook.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Remember a while ago when I wrote about doing the hundred push-ups program? And I said I'd be doing the same thing with slightly more advanced push-ups and also sit-ups? It turns out that was a bad idea.

I watched youtube videos about good form for sit-ups, and really didn't feel I was doing anything very strenuous. Yet, I have managed to injure myself. I sprained the ligament that goes down my spine on the right side (I had not realized this was possible), and now the right half of my upper body is in spasm. The left side doesn't feel so great either.

So now I am seeing a chiropractor three times a week until it stops hurting so much. He has given me stretches to do a couple times a day, and forbidden me to do any more push-ups or sit-ups until he says it is okay to start again. Alas.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

30 minute dinner: fresh mozzarella, polenta, and eggs a la Jesse over roast asparagus

The pan on its way into the oven has enough polenta and asparagus for three dinners. Yay, leftovers!  
This isn't a real cooking blog. If it were, I would probably have titled this post "15 minute dinner" or "10 minute dinner," because the meal takes only 10-15 minutes of prep time. However,  I am more concerned with the time it takes to go from thinking "I'd like to be eating" to the time when I actually am, in fact, eating. This menu takes me 28 minutes from walking into the kitchen and turning on the oven to sitting down with a plated meal.

prepared polenta in log form
fresh mozzarella
fresh tomatoes
fresh eggs
olive oil
canola oil or butter
spices - I used salt and black pepper on the asparagus and freeze-dried shallots and lemon pepper on the eggs.

Preheat the oven to 425.

Slice polenta into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Brush olive oil on the bottom. Top with a thin-mint sized chunk of mozz and some sliced tomatoes.

Wash asparagus and break at natural breaking point. Gently shake dry. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper (or other desired herbs and spices) to taste.

If oven is not hot yet, wash things while you wait. If you need to keep killing time, arrange a small bowl of pickled mushrooms to accompany your dinner.

Put asparagus and polenta rounds into oven and set timer for 10 min.

Start Eggs a la Jesse: Heat canola oil or butter (and onions or garlic, if desired) in frying pan over medium heat. When hot, break in eggs. Sprinkle with spices of your choice. Cover with well-fitting lid and turn down heat to medium low.

As soon as the whites are done, turn off the heat and let the eggs sit until the yolks have reached desired consistency.

Check oven after 10 minutes. With my oven, I turn the pan around and cook for another 5 minutes to heat evenly.

Eat dinner.

Variations on a theme: 

  • Want to take this to work to eat for lunch? Hard boil the eggs instead and everything will be delicious at room temperature. 
  • Made enough for leftover polenta and asparagus and want to vary your protein intake? Reheat in the toaster oven with a Boca or Morningstar patty from the freezer. Or toss white beans in a quick vinaigrette with some dried basil and oregano the night before and eat cold.
  • No asparagus? Try zucchini medallions, thinly-sliced wedges of cabbage or vertically-halved broccoli or cauliflower florets instead.
  • No fresh mozzarella or polenta? Try cheddar over rye bread or parmesan over sweet potato rounds. You might want to par-cook the sweet potato rounds in the microwave a bit first, depending on thickness.