webcowgirl: (Ozu)
Yesterday I mostly continued staying home and being unwell. I had given away my tickets for the previous night's ballet: I was really sad about missing a performance I'd seen each of the previous three years (New Works, showcasing up and coming choreographers of the Royal Ballet and in a lovely, intimate theater) but after sitting through the Pixies in befuddlement I thought I'd only make it to the show and go, "What the hell am I doing here? I feel like crap!" and utterly fail to enjoy myself at all. If it's work, you're not doing it right, really, so I stayed home Friday, for once.

However, I had tickets for Kabuki at Sadler's Wells for last night, and there was just no way I was going to miss it, especially as I'd bought them for [livejournal.com profile] wechsler as a birthday present for him and really wanted to be there to enjoy it with him as much as to see it myself. So I spent the day conserving my energy, sleeping late, doing just a little bit of housework, realizing even housework was very, very tiring, failing to ignite in general, and finally having a long conversation with my brother. Then suddenly it was 4:30 and I needed to head up north.

Sadlers' Wells presentation of Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees was brilliant. I hid a lot of the plot in my review as I didn't want to spoil it for anyone who didn't go; but I will say that there was a fox spirit in this show and that furries around the world could learn a lot from the brilliant presentation of the fox in this play. Furthermore, the entire evening was a really good time. I had already spent the day basically feeling good about life (a stunning change from the nearly inevitable mope of most weekends the last year or more), and without doubt part of it was because I was looking forward to my good evening; but the evening itself was so perfect, from the temperature to people's good moods to being in a theater surrounded by women in kimono to the perfectly seared salmon [livejournal.com profile] wechsler was served at dinner to the lemon sorbet he bought me at the interval - what more could you ask out of life? And as it was a Saturday I had no compunction about a 2:40 running time for the show; in fact, I stayed up late writing the review because I was so ramped up about the show. God, I love Kabuki, and once I get my visa status permanently settled in the UK I would like, at some point, to go to Japan for a year and really immerse myself in the cultural life there. Not sure how that would happen any more, but it's what I'd like to do.

This brings us around today and I am a worn out girl with little energy. I still haven't got the kitchen clean like I'd like it, but I'm pleased to say I do have a [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy in it right now, making those amazing meatballs from that recipe in the New York Times some years back. It takes hours but we've got hours, I've got time to nap, and I'm going to do so in just a little bit and then get back to trying to get the house to looking like I'd like it to, and to getting the rest of my little planties in the dirt where they belong.
webcowgirl: (HotTomato)
While we were in Catania, I ordered a bowl of Pasta Alla Carrettiera (Cart-Driver's Pasta). It was garlicky as all hell but we had a hard time figuring what the secret, crack-like ingredient was. I suspected parmesan, though I was pretty sure it also had breadcrumbs in it.

Now I'm looking through recipes online for the magic ingredients, and I'm amazed by how different they are. So far I have
Breadcrumbs, no cheese
Something with tuna fish I'm not going to link to
Ham and mushrooms (not!)
With pecorino but no breadcrumbs
Vodka and cream, no cheese or breadcrumbs
Basil and oregano, but no cheese or breadcrumbs
Fried bread crumbs and anchovies, yuck!
No bread crumbs but with cheese, from a blog based in Palermo
This one has no tomatoes!
One using egg-free pasta (pici) and "aglione"
And finally, one from a Sicilian website I'll want to visit later that has both grated and cubed pecorino

Anyway, all of this is coming up because I'm having company over for dinner and this is what I'm making! I have special gratable ewe's cheese to use (pecorino), but mostly I think garlic garlic garlic is going to make dinner a winner.

BFI for Dr. No tonight, but now I have a feeling it's time for lunch!
webcowgirl: (Food!)
Dear dear, I do feel that I've put a bit of weight on during this trip, or lost muscle tone, or something. I bet all of the pizza I've been eating has a lot to do with this situation.
webcowgirl: (TopBug)
It's a Saturday and I'm at work - been in for almost three hours now. I'm wearing the Darth Vader disco t-shirt my brother got me for Christmas. No idea how late I'll be here - I expect this is going to be the bad release of all time. On the other hand, I get double time on weekends, so there's a good element to long days. Cate brought in nice pastries from Paul so we're not quite starving yet. Speaking of which, I lost more weight since Wednesday and am now at 165, so I think the food poisoning is still working its way through my system. I've been careful about what I've been eating and my appetite has been mild. Still - at the Korean restaurant we went to last night (Assa), I ate and ate and ate. The rice cake noodles with ramen and chile sauce, I am sure it has crack in it.
webcowgirl: (Default)
We're at the "Al Nono Risorto" trattoria, terribly near the museum of modern art and the best restaurant we've yet found (thank you Rick Steves) - totally gorgeous with its wisteria-covered garden and with oustanding prices including free mineral water. I've got the carbonara pizza (€8.50), a real beauty. I'd write more but I must eat!
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webcowgirl: (Default)
We're going to get married. It is true love.
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webcowgirl: (Naruse)
I made it through the training session fairly well today and got some career advice from Lee Copeland ("Go out and speak more!") that I will endeavor to follow. Between that, the conversation with my boss yesterday, and the chat with Wayne Macgregor on Saturday, I've got a lot of things I could write about ...

but I'm still pretty sick and I've been putting what energy I can muster for internet things into writing in my theater blog. For example, I've just finished a review of Alan Ayckbourn's Living Together at the Old Vic. Summary: try finding a real comedy instead of this dated, limp fish. Not that I'm bitter.

[livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy was very nice and made me dinner again tonight - teriyaki steak on salad. He made a special marinade that included Chinese 5 Spice as well as soy sauce and brown sugar. The whole thing seemed to have quite a Hawaiian taste to it. That boy, he may become a chef yet.

As for me ... I am tired and worn out from my day of sitting, and I'm going to be going to sleep pretty early again tonight. I'm glad I didn't have anything tonight I couldn't get out of and also am glad I only have plans for a good night's sleep tomorrow (in preparation for working on Saturday), though I will get to see [livejournal.com profile] wechsler as he's coming back from France. I think I might be able to manage a little bit of David Attenborough before I go to bed, though.

(Note: if I make as many spelling errors as I just corrected in this post, please assume I am tired.)
webcowgirl: (Food!)
Last night, after the little after-work party at work, we went with Josela to "The Texas Embassy Cantina." We were supposed to go to Dalston and eat at Bos Cirrik, but as that's a good half an hour away from Leicester Square and a full hour back to our house, so, given that Josela wasn't able to go out to eat until after 7, I thought we'd better find someplace closer to eat, and I had remembered hearing about an actual Tex Mex joint in the neighborhood ...

The menu was intriguing - enchiladas plus lots of steak and barbeque (which was very much about what Londoners associate with Tex and not what you'd actually get in a Tex Mex joint, because enchiladas and barbeque are two very different culinary specialties) and even some Southern dishes (fried chicken and chicken fried steak). I saw a combo plate that promised an enchilada, a flauta, and a chalupa, with rice and beans. Yum! We had no problems convincing Josela to change his plans (he didn't want to commute across infinity before dinner either), so off we went.

Well! In the Tex Mex joint, The Texas Embassy Cantina is a FAIL. The enchilada was chewey in a bad way with coldish, gloppy cheese, the chalupa was actually a tostada, and a tiny one at that, and the rice was on the crunchy side. I mean, seriously, people, have you ever BEEN to a real Tex Mex joint? Was it maybe 10 years ago and the food you're cooking now is merely based on your memories of what you had? It was SUCH a failure, and the portions were sad. Josela's barbeque plate was actually fairly tasty (he was nice and shared), but it was all just a big let down. The strawberry margarita was good, though at 6 quid a pop expensive - not that it held a candle for overpriced when compared to [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy's 3.50 bottles of Lone Star. That's seven dollars a bottle for Lone Star, my American friends. I guess I'll say for the record that the decor in the restaurant was very good and their salsa was nice, but I'm going to scream in the restaurant the next time some moron serves me a bowl of FLOUR tortilla chips.

Well, the good news is that [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy has brought back a pile of corn tortillas for me from the states, so I'll be able to cook enchiladas the way I like 'em as soon as I'm ready. And I'll be ready Wednesday night, because Josela has a small suitcase full of Mexican food cooking stuff waiting for me in his apartment. Fiddle on going out for this stuff, I'm going to have to make it at home - but at least my margaritas will be the right price.
webcowgirl: (Food!)
I just did a search on St. Mary's Hospital (trying to figure out where my appointment is today - yet a third building!), when I came up with this great picture on someone's blog (not for vegetarians) - of a Chicago hot dog which I could apparently buy at St. Mary's - were I going to the one in Rochester. It totally brought me back to my college days and going to Pub and Bubbles in Tempe, the little restaurant where my boyfriend worked. Yum! Now I'm so hungry but there's no way I'll be finding one of those in this town!
webcowgirl: (Mano Poderosa)
My lunch has been stolen from the work fridge again! It was only a half-container of pasta, did it truly make such a great meal?

You know, the theft of the laptops, that I can understand (you can make a lot of money with those things), but by God stealing a lunch is just plain rude.
webcowgirl: (Default)
Way up on Rio Grande street - check out the tamale & home-made tortilla for the quesadilla.
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webcowgirl: (HotTomato)
So I decided to try another recipe from one of the Sicilian cookbooks - pasta with sausage and pistachios. My test subjects [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy and [livejournal.com profile] wechsler pronounced it "gorgeous," or at least that might have been what they said around the general gobbling (I'll assume the fact [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy biked into work and back didn't influence that much, though I think it is why he scraped out what was left from the bowl). J said it really seemed to want to be eaten at an outdoor cafe with a view of the Mediterranean, but, well ... at least it's warm enough outside that I could open the windows this afternoon.

Anyway, for those interested (it's really easy!):

Pasta with sausage and pistachios recipe

400 g pasta (enough for 3 or 4 - I used medium shells)
400 g sausage (I used about six Italian sausages for three people )
1 onion, finely chopped
60 g of pistachios (I'm afraid I didn't measure this either, I just added a bunch - probably a quarter cup)
a "packet" of cooking cream (I'm not sure how one puts cream in a packet, but I think what I used was about half a cup)

Cook the onion with a little water, then add the sausage (chopped) and brown them up. When they're done, add the pistachio (crushed). Boil the pasta until cooked, drain it, then add it into a tureen (I used the bowl I bought with [livejournal.com profile] spikeylady in Madrid - good memories!) with the cream and sausage/nut mix. Serve hot. (Note: I think you don't want this too wet, so add about the right amount of cream to kind of lubricate the noodles but not leave puddles in the bowl. I also suggest putting some nuts on top to make it look pretty.)

This is right next to a recipe for a pasta with courgette "sauce" that's right tasty, and is followed by four pages of rabbit recipes. I've got to say, bringing back home cookbooks was really the best idea ever.

Tonight (what's left of it): pack for Barcelona, and drink cider. :-)
webcowgirl: (HotTomato)
Rigatoni alla Norma
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Alla Norma is tomatoes and aubergine/eggplant and cheese. The recommended cheese is ricotta, but it's a crumbly ricotta ("ricotta salata," salted ricotta) and one of the places I went to had a smoked cheese on top, so I did that for this version but also put wet ricotta on the bottom, underneath the tomato/garlic/onion/basil mixture. (After eating this three times in a week, I was really impressed by what a wide variety of recipes went by the same name.) The kicker seems to be soaking the sliced eggplant in salted water - I couldn't believe the way this changed the flavor! I also "dressed" the cooked tomato mixture with some really nice olive oil as recommended by my cookbook. So even though I'd never made this before and don't even like eggplant (normally), this dish was very tasty and a huge success. Not bad for a lazy night at home!
webcowgirl: (Default)
At this morning's meeting about the project I'm managing (from a QA perspective), I said that we were on a road trip, we were low on gas, the car was making funny noises, and we were on the verge of winding up on the side of our road, in the middle of the day, in the desert, with no gas, no water, and our engine fallen out of the car - because we just kept on driving.

Later I said, "So we think things look kind of bad, and then Javier Bardem shows up with an airgun. Might we consider hitting the rest stop for some repairs and refueling before we continue this journey?" And we will, the project has been stopped, but I'm still coming in to work tomorrow because it's not out of the woods yet and they pay me double time for Saturdays.

Other notes: picked up some yummy food for this weekend at the Theobald's Road butcher again, but am currently feeling incredibly peeved by RyanAir's general crap-ness. Let's charge you money if you are a non-EU passenger just so you can check in at the airport. And if you check ANY bags, we will charge you for that, too. As a contact lens wearer, I can't get a liquid bottle of sterile saline small enough to pass airport security these days, so I have to check bags. And their bag limit is 10 kilos for carry on and 15 kilos for any checked bag. It really makes me angry that they will add on £20 for things I basically can't avoid, unless I don't fly them. And I won't: I'm going Air Italia. It'll take two hours more but I'll ultimately save £70 and not freak out about bringing home a bottle of wine in my luggage. Bastards.

I also broke down and ordered the next Sookie Stackhouse vampire detective novel, because I really enjoyed the one I read in December and I've been looking for it for a month now and it's just time to admit I can't get it used and fork over the simoleans. Proust is great but sometimes a girl needs a book she can't put down until the last stake is stuck (er, or the other killer is discovered), and Charlaine Harris is really taking care of that need for me - plus then I can read the other three books in the series that have been waiting for me since early December. MMmmm, sexy vampire detective novels!
webcowgirl: (Clematis)
Wow. Someone has finally printed the liberating editorial I've been waiting (weighting?) for. Let me quote this:

Being thin really isn’t about health, anyway, but about social class and control.

Social class and control, my lovely friends of many sizes. Look at the chubby little face in this user icon. This is the face of someone who is healthy and, if I read the rest of the article right, someone who is likely to live longer than someone who is my height but thin.

Weight has thus become a moral issue couched in health concerns. Got that?

I will quote a bit more:

"Two years ago, federal researchers found that overweight people had the lowest mortality rate of any weight group. Investigating further, they were able to link causes of death to specific weights. Obese people had more deaths from heart disease, they reported last week. And thin people? They had more deaths from everything but cancer and heart disease.

But there were 100,000 fewer deaths among the overweight than would have been expected if those people had been of normal weight. This is what might politely be called the chubby category, with body mass indexes (a measure of weight for height) of 25 to 30. A woman, for instance, who is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs between 146 and 175 pounds."

Mind you, this is not obese (the weight when your joints start failing you, you know what I mean), and we've still got heart disease and cancer, but it's time to start looking in the mirrors and saying, "I look normal and healthy" and stop letting this freaking class/fashion/ CONTROL thing take our brains over. I have two friends in particular I'm aiming this thing for and I want you BOTH to look at yourselves and say, "I'm gorgeous just the weight I am."
webcowgirl: (ActionFigure)
Right, [livejournal.com profile] wechsler linked to a study saying fat people live longer. I think this is also discussed in today's New York Times. Check out this telling quote:

"The new study began several years ago when the investigators used national data to look at death risks according to body weight. They concluded that, compared with people of normal weight, the overweight had a decreased death risk and the underweight and obese had increased risk."

Let's contrast this with last week's "being fat causes cancer" headlines: "[C]ontrary to expectations, the obese did not have an increased risk of dying from cancer [comparison of different types of cancer and effect of weight] ... In the end, the increases and decreases in cancer risks balanced out."

It did say this: "The higher death rate in obese people, as might be expected, was almost entirely driven by a higher death rate from heart disease." And there was a diabetes tie-in here, too.

Also, exercise is good for your brains. So can we stop obsessing about being fat (per the BMI calculator I am, FYI), and get some exercise and be happy, now?
webcowgirl: (Jizo)
Well, all the papers are overwhelmed with the news today that BACON KILLS! Well, really the article is saying that fatty foods cause cancer, and that bacon causes colon cancer.

I have a couple of problems with this.

First, I think part of the reason people GET cancer is because they're living longer than they ever did. This isn't addressed. I mean, if we're all going to die, there has to be some cause eventually, right?

Second, I feel this tack very much leans toward "blaming" people for getting cancer, as if the crap in our environment these days isn't a problem all on its own. But I really don't like the idea of people seeing cancer victims as "bringing it on themselves." If you've rotted your liver through drinking or your teeth have fallen out from using meth, that's one thing, but I don't think for cancer people should be working so hard to figure out something like what you eat as "the cause" unless you're eating mercury-laden fish.

Third, I feel all of this dates back to the original mistaken pronouncements that fat is bad for you. Seriously, read this article. "The notion that fatty foods shorten your life began as a hypothesis based on dubious assumptions and data; when scientists tried to confirm it they failed repeatedly. The evidence against Häagen-Dazs was nothing like the evidence against Marlboros." I feel that so frequently the things that vary in people's diet serve as markers to lifestyles and other things that it's impossible to get really good stats on the effect of food on your health, and the whole question of genetic predisposition for cancer just knocks the food issue right down in terms of the strength of its causation. Look at this other article: "obese and very obese patients were only half as likely as those of normal weight to die in the three years after the attack." This, however, isn't stigmatizing "those indulgent disgusting fat people" so it didn't get very much coverage.

Overall, I feel like it's also a sign of the obsession with "nutritionism" as discussed by Micahel Pollan in his great article "Unhappy Meals." Let's recite his mantra: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." The more nuanced version is at the end of the article: "People who eat according to the rules of a traditional food culture are generally healthier than we are. Any traditional diet will do: if it weren’t a healthy diet, the people who follow it wouldn’t still be around." So I'll have a little lamb chop and some fresh vegetables and yummy pasta and NOT feel bad about adding the pancetta to the kale, because it's not going to kill me, and I'll have a bit of red wine to go with it, too. Now, who's coming over for dinner?

And finally: can we please have more people worring about how narrow their minds are instead of how narrow their butts aren't? That's a self-help movement I'd like to see taking over the world - on the cover of Cosmo, pictures of celebrities in the papers, debated in the media and on the talkshows. It might not help reduce cancer but I think it would make the world a much better place to live.
webcowgirl: (Morning cuppa)
[livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy and I hustled our way down south after work, off to Tooting Broadway, home of the lovely [livejournal.com profile] trishpiglet and [livejournal.com profile] babysimon. After a visit at their place (where I was served a warm cup of tea while listening to the rain come down - so perfectly English, just not very English summer!), we strolled back to the main street and had a very filling dinner at a South Indian restaurant (Vijaya Krishna, I think).

Among many things, we had a chat about housing stuff, such as flat types (terrace house?), prices, how much of a down payment you need (zero percent? five percent?), how mortgages work over here, etc. Their neighborhood seems pretty decent and a hell of a lot more affordable than Putney. I think if I set my mind to it, I could have enough money to buy my way into a place here by this time next year. This process would be accelerated, of course, by moving out of THIS place and into, say, a one bedroom or otherwise cheaper property and maybe saving a little extra money by doing that. But our lease goes until October 15th, and, who knows, maybe it would all be too much trouble just for ten months.

At any rate, dinner was great and I find I'm still full this morning. I'm "working from home" until 11:15, when I'll walk up the street to the physiotherapist and work on my knee for a while. Then it'll be into work for a half day. I've got a couple of interesting projects I've been asked to do - coming up with plans for my employees for the next year (so whoever takes over knows where they're going) and working out a training program, with budget, benefits, and providers, for the larger group (this came out of my second meeting with The Demotivator yesterday), so I feel like my time can be well used, even if the most noticeable thing I did yesterday was buy some stuff off of Amazon. (That's not really true, as I went from "identify Employee Y's career goals" to "find him a programming mentor, who then met with him in half an hour to discuss what they're going to do, then watch him download Visual Studio" in about three hours yesterday, which was totally gratifying. I really can make a positive difference at times. I like that.)
webcowgirl: (reading is fun-damental)
Okay, so ... I've signed up to be an official Penguin Classics book blogger. My book is Mozart's Journey To Prague, which I had never heard of but look forward to reading.

I also found out that the Balbec that Proust wrote about is actually a town called Cabourg. I'm geekily excited. Perhaps I will go there on vacation! Actually a whole Proust-themed vacation sounds fun ... why not?

Also, a FASCINATING article on how steak is now "in" for women. Check this quote out: Red meat sent a message that she was “unpretentious and down to earth and unneurotic,” she said, “that I’m not obsessed with my weight even though I’m thin, and I don’t have any food issues.” Admittedly it's nice to think that women are not wanting to act like something they're not when they're on first dates, and I did find myself agreeing that "ordering a salad displays an unappealing mousiness," but ... what an interesting line of thought, to prove you're low maintenance by ordering steak! Back in the day it showed that you were eager to empty someone's wallet. Thoughts?

Also, I find I'm still basically not happy about the work thing, but don't know how to deal with it other than by distracting myself. The job interviews help; I'm back on for the one on Monday after we renegotiated the salary possibilities. A 4% pay cut in exchange for retirement benefits and 5 hours less work a week sounds very doable to me.
webcowgirl: (Tiger monkey)
We've got plum wine, too.

LATER: Well, hell, I had to post that three hours after I took it. Why aren't my pictures posting when I hit "send?" The mysteries of MMS ...
picture.jpgDespite being really, really tired, I went to see [livejournal.com profile] booklectic's play reading in Streatham with [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy after our yummy dinner at Ichiban. I had a schooner of cider to keep me company in the garden (I got to visit with [livejournal.com profile] ergotia, major bonus) while we waited for things to start - and this, I think, was a critical error. I was intrigued by the play, enjoying the jokes ... and completely exhausted, like I was wanting to DOZE OFF in the front row.

I attempted to convey to [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy that I was exhausted when we got to intermission, and he told me he was okay with me falling asleep in the back row, then went to the bathroom. I wasn't, so I went home, and was fortunate enough to catch a train a mere 10 minutes after I got to the train station.

For whatever reason I was feeling quite weepy when I got to the station, beating myself up over people taking their shit out on me and over the people who've rejected my overtures of friendship since I've been here. Mostly I've dealt with it with a big, "Not much I can do, really," but thanks to the magic of I Spent Too Long Coughing Instead of Sleeping Last Night, it was all proving very painful. I wrote imaginary letters in my head, I demoted people, I cancelled vacations I couldn't handle the stress of taking, then I finally called [livejournal.com profile] wechsler and talked to him, as Mostly Sane seemed better than where my head was.

I started reading the book [livejournal.com profile] bathtubgingirl gave me (she with [livejournal.com profile] rosamicula being the star additions to my circle of friends since I've moved here, completely consoling me for any perceived "loss," and work people amounting to nothing as usual) on the way back. Queueing for Beginners was funny and diverting. And I walked in the door and in short order my kitty came out to keep me company. So life isn't all misery, I'm really just tired and very ready for this cold to end.

I want to write about my long training session on collaboration yesterday but I want to be in bed soon (it's clear that this is good, right?), so I think I'll just read for a while instead and see if Boo will join me on the couch.

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