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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Super Easy Zucchini Hash

Why not post a recipe? I'm used to making things up as I go along in the food department, but these turned out really well.

Serving size: 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 9 minutes

shredded zucchini - 1/2 to 1 cup (use lesser measurement if your shreds are smaller)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup minced onion (more if you're an onion lover, none if you hate onions)
1-2 Tbsp oil (if you have an old electric skillet like me, you'll use 2 or ruin your skillet. For good pans, you can use less. Use whatever oil you like to taste. I used canola, but olive would work)
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: shredded cheese, salsa, guacamole

TT: See, this is why I hate recipes. Everything depends. This is food, for heaven's sake, not engineering.

-Heat skillet until oil is hot but not shimmering. Do the rest while the skillet is heating (about 5 minutes)
-Crack eggs in a breakfast bowl and beat with fork until blended. Give shells to nearest cat to lick clean before composting. Mine go to Skuttle.
-Shred zucchini. Give remainder of unshredded zucchini to dog, because you'll have more zucchini to harvest in the morning. Why did you plant 5 zucchini plants, you idiot?
-Blend shredded zucchini into eggs until it's all the same consistency.
-Mince onion. Add to eggs and zucchini. 
-Drop four big spoonful of egg mixture into heated skillet like pancakes. Salt and pepper each cake.
-Leave alone for 3 minutes (enough time to put hair into bun clip and return) then fold in half like an omelet and flip to let second side cook.

-Clean up prep area by allowing cats onto counter. I'm kidding. Cats shouldn't eat onion, so only do this if you hate onions and didn't use any. Otherwise, clean the counter first, then let the cats on it.

I made sure the spatula had no onion on it.

-Turn down heat and flip cake again. That zucchini is moist stuff and no one likes a soggy hash brown.

-This is the time to grab your favorite egg condiment. These would work equally well with sweet (toast with jelly) or savory (salsa and sour cream).

I ate all four of mine because I normally eat two eggs for breakfast, but they make a "serving size" of meat, so you could plan them as part of a full meal.

I suspect you could also double and bake the hash as a casserole but I don't have an oven, so I'm unlikely to try that.

There you go. Super easy zucchini hash. If you need zucchini to try it, I'll mail you some.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

I bought this book on the recommendation of a co-worker, and it must have been cheap enough because I don't do expensive Kindle books.

TT: $8.99 is as high as I've gone so far and that was on the recommendation of Kat the Hacker. Fortunately, she was right. Patrick Rothfuss is worth reading even at that price.

JS&MN is a long book, too, because I've been reading steadily for at least a week and I tipped the halfway point last night. It has a blend of fascinating tedium that appeals to me. The oddest part so far is I don't actually like any of the characters. I don't actively wish them harm, but I wouldn't want to sit in a drawing room with any of them, either. Maybe Arabella. In this sense, it reminds me of Pride & Prejudice. I dislike most of those characters, too. I'd pierce my own eardrums with a knitting needle rather than listen to Mrs. Bennett for any portion of my life.

I don't know if the author is British, but she's got the British style down pat. It's the story of two English magicians who bring practical magic back into use during the Napoleonic war.  I keep comparing it to the Hornblower books set in the same time frame and find no real fault with either story for the comparison. We meet the Duke of Wellington (I think he's in the Hornblower books, too, as Lady Barbara's brother?) and King George. The mad one.

I fear the ending. After so many pages with these characters, I can't help but feel a little sorry for them and what's coming. I don't actually know what's coming, but the track so far is reminiscent of Lemony Snickett's Series of Unfortunate Events and I hated the one book of that series I read. Plus, this is British, not American, and Brits face the bittersweet end with determination, not defiance. The best I can hope for is a draw. 

In those moments when the tedium becomes too great and I put the Kindle down for a bit, I wonder what kind of person would write such things. As an author, I love my characters. I have to. We spend a lot of time together in the course of a book and I don't want to be around people I don't like. This author must love these annoying people to have spent so much time with them. That alone inclines me to continue, in the hopes that the tiny bits of goodness in them will somehow connect at the end to bring about good things instead of disaster. 

Happy Tuesday, dear readers, and happy reading. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Gardens Take a Lot of Time

I had no idea. I mean, I kinda did, because one of the reasons I've never grown vegetables is it's a lot of work and "work" equals "time in the garden."

If I don't check for zucchini every morning, I end up with huge, rotted zucchini clogging up my production space. Harvesting zucchini every day means dealing with zucchini every day. Those suckers don't store, and I don't can. So, I'm cooking every night: frying zucchini, chopping zucchini, chopping onions to go with the zucchini before they go bad.

Last night's dinner took two hours and it was basically a vegetable casserole. Yes, I did stuff in between the microwave cooking (love my Pampered Chef stone baker, btw!) but that stuff was mixing and applying insecticidal soap on the zucchini to battle squash bugs and hopefully not kill any of my wasps, bees or beneficials.

I also suspect my lower grocery bill will not offset my higher water bill. It's not like I buy zucchini every day in season. This is an attempt to eat more fresh vegetables, not a money-saving measure.

My one purple bean struggles on, but it's by no means thriving. My tomato plant has plenty of green tomatoes but nothing is ripening.

One of my magazines said good dirt is key, and that may be where The Swamp fails. My dirt isn't good enough. Yet.

My plan for end of season is to remove all the dirt from my raised vegetable bed and spread it on the flower gardens. I'll refill the bed with compost and manure, cover it for the winter to "cook" and use it and only it for vegetables next year. I'll plant more attractive flowers for the critters and wait for my dirt to improve.

Happy Friday, dear readers. Eat those vegetables.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Down the Stairs, Around the Corner, Welcome to Hell

Have I told you my theory that dreams about houses are actually dreams about your life? If I haven't, it's because I'm afraid of losing those dreams by sharing. That can happen sometimes.

Ponder a bit. Do you tend to show up in the same place over and over in your dreams? Do you have a "house" you visit constantly when your eyes close? Do certain decorating themes recur enough to give you deja vu upon awakening?

I have a couple of places I have mentally visited enough times to be able to provide a map if you're interested in a dream travel getaway complete with blowing sheers, arched ceilings and open access to the underworld.

One feature in my "dream houses" is the basement doorway to Hell. It's never an actual doorway. In fact, there is nothing preventing any hellspawn that takes a fancy to an above ground stroll from doing so except possibly a narrowing of the unfinished concrete walls. This narrowing might make a human pause, but it would be a day in the death of any demon accustomed to navigating the bowels of the deep.

Usually my dream basements are unfinished. Concrete floors. Cement block walls with or without a water barrier coating. Bare lightbulbs. They aren't generally crowded with boxes or junk. It could be a space anybody could work in. But...in one of the corners, half-hidden by the shadow of an I-beam, there's an opening...

If you peek in, you might see a narrow corridor curving gently away from the light as the concrete floor turns to dirt. It might open into a crumbling, musty cellar that stretches far longer than a cellar should in a typical neighborhood. Once it was just a hole in the wall. Always that space is set apart by the absolute certainty that if I continue into the darkness, I never escape, or if I stray too close, I will draw some unspeakable horror out of its pit to hunt me down.

I'd say I was reading too much Lovecraft, but I suspect it's more a case of Lovecraft capturing what I fear - the unknown depths where evil lurks.

Happy Tuesday, dear readers. Pleasant dreams.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Dangling Justice

Yep, that's the working title for the prequel to Star of Justice. I pulled it out this week and scanned the 84 pages I've written over the years. Would I be able to pick up where I left off? How much is worth keeping? Is it as funny as I remember?

Good news is I like what I've done. I didn't see any major issues and corrected the minor ones (mostly verb tenses I've been smacking other people for, so be assured, not only do I have those issues, I smack myself for them). I continue to think it's funny. Not sure anyone else will, but I chuckled a lot.

Better news is I've decided to play with all those "getting in touch with your roots" stuff in this book instead of in the likely never to be revised/published Past Ties. I'm surprised and excited at how easily this book lends itself to those themes. I should have a good balance of funny and bitter.

I'm leaning toward this book at this time for two reasons.

One, Star of Justice has a lot of surprises and anything coming after will build on some of those. I'm not sure I'm ready for that, so going backwards lays different groundwork and gives more readers a chance to read SoJ without spoilers before going forward.

Two, Dangling Justice should be a faster, funnier read than SoJ. It's fantasy, but more RPG than epic and I'm hoping that makes it easier to write while part of my brain is engaged in my day job. C.S. Lewis did something different with every Narnia book. Why can't I? 

I've hesitated to switch WIPs because I book-hopped as a lass, changing projects anytime I got bored and ultimately never finishing anything. However, two years stalling out on one mss is enough for now. We'll see if switching projects this time gets things moving again in the writing department.

Usually, good news comes with bad news, but I don't have any at the moment. The way forward is fairly clear. I just need to sit down, start writing and see what happens. Sounds easy enough.

Happy Friday, dear readers. Stay cool and eat your vegetables.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Well, I Survived...

the 4th, that is.

Independence Day is my most hated holiday (although I loved the movie). I've hated it as long as I can remember. I hate the loud, I hate the explosions and I hate the absolute inconsideration of normally nice-seeming folks. It's like everybody acts like a cigarette smoker for a day.

I don't stay up to the wee hours of the morning. I get up in the wee hours of the morning. I also work July 5th, so setting off sonic booms after midnight is not how you get on my good side.

I've had worse years. The year the college students in the rental across the way shot Roman candles at each other at 2 AM. The year the neighbors right behind me shot bottle rockets (then illegal in the city and now illegal in the state) into my back yard because they were trying to be sneaky. Last year when the drought and 100 degree temperatures weren't enough to prevent anyone from using open flames because, apparently, some people can't live without being completely stupid at least once a year.

My favorite year was the year thunderstorms shut down the fireworks display at the lake. No one could shoot anything in that deluge. I slept like a well-fed baby.

For the most part, my neighbors behaved themselves. Only one household three houses down was determined to celebrate personally, but they set off enormous, loud explosions in their backyard starting at 7:30 and didn't stop until about 12:30 (half an hour after the fireworks curfew). On the other hand, they did stop finally so I could get four hours of sleep.

Neighbors behind me left their poor dog on the back porch until sometime around 11:30. I assume they went to the lake for the evening. It howled and howled for four hours straight. If I didn't think they'd be the kind to sue, I would have trespassed, stolen the dog for the night and brought it back this morning with a lecture.

This year we've had enough rain that I wasn't overly concerned about burning alive in my bed. I just can't sleep through that kind of battlefield noise. I also have the weekend to look forward to, when the morons who don't care about law and order illegally set off all the fireworks they'll buy at half-price today.

I don't know whether I should hope work is boring or exciting. Either way, I'll be half-asleep.

Happy Friday, dear readers. And Happy Birthday, America. Love you. Hate your inconsiderate party guests.