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I seem unable to make up my mind as to whether I prefer long hair or short hair.  In the mean time, it just keeps growing. I’m thinking about letting it grow long enough to cut off and donate.  It seems silly to cut off so much and toss.  Boy could someone make a lot of wigs out of my hair.  I could probably cover two or three heads with what I’ve got.  It’s insane.  Whenever I think about it, the hair debate and the question of donating, I hearken back to that childhood favorite, the Katharine Hepburn version of Little Women, and hear Amy’s stricken voice crying, “Jo, how could you?  Your one beauty!”  I always did want to be like Jo.

What is one to do with long hair while it lasts?  Let your friend with a thing for 40s hairstyles put it up in pin curls.  So I went over to Annie’s on Saturday night and she put approximately 500 hairpins and a lot of setting lotion in my hair, and we wrapped it all up in a kerchief and I slept on it.

Sadly that was the same night that I was struck down by a cold, so I slept poorly and plagued by hairpins.  But it was all joy and light and, um, incredible volume when brushed out in the morning.

Then Annie did it up in some rolls and I looked like I was ready to go to a dance with my sweetheart before he went off to war.

I messed around with a little bit, inbetween periods of lying on the couch and moaning, and ended up just pinning the sides.

Super fun.  Too bad I worked late last night or I would’ve had Annie to the curls again for a Halloween costume.  As it is, I’ve sent Kitri off to work in my uniform and I’ve got to think of something to throw together before I go to the library.

Isn’t it odd how you build some assignments up in your head, thinking “this will be SO HARD.  It will take SO LONG.”  You have a rough draft due in three days, and you haven’t written a word, and you don’t even know what to write about.  And then you’re lying in bed one morning, trying to be able to breathe through your nose again (futile) and thinking about how if you hadn’t stayed up to watch another episode of emo Robin Hood (no, seriously – Robin’s band of outlaws looks fresh from, well, band practice) you couldn’t gotten up earlier and gotten more done…and then you get an idea.  And you get up, and type a couple paragraphs, and do about 5 seconds of preliminary research, and ask your prof’s opinion, and just like that you’ve passed the rough draft requirement.  Of course, the work is still ahead, but it’s amazing how much little tasks can get built up into huge endeavors in your (my) mind.

I’ve got some little book reviews up at goodreads – , The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World, How It Happened at Peach Hill, Day of the Scarab, probably something else, too, that I’m forgetting.  I always debate about linking vs copying and pasting (like it really matters).  Eh.  I just like having a centralized place for all my book thoughts and goodreads is working nicely.

I ought to bake something – maybe more pumpkin muffins.  This cold has left me pretty apathetic about food – or rather, apathetic about making food.

I have to say – and I completely blame Kate for this – that I checked The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion out of the library and now I never want to return it.  Time for a trip to Powell’s!  Oh baking, how I love you.

Since we didn’t really start at the beginning of October, these weeks don’t correspond to the actual weeks of the month.  Our second recipe was for Pumpkin Bread Pudding.

1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
5 cups cubed (1-inch) day-old baguette or crusty bread
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Whisk together cream, pumpkin, milk, sugar, eggs, yolk, salt, and spices in a bowl.

Toss bread cubes with butter in another bowl, then add pumpkin mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish and bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes.   

I used one Grand Central baguette – this made a bit over 5 cups.  Most of the cubes had crust on them, which made the pudding pleasantly chewy.  If you want a softer pudding, I say go for a softer loaf or one with more of those soft middle pieces.

Definitely serve it warm – I took the unbaked pudding over to my parents’ house and stuck it in the oven while we ate dinner.  It was delicious by itself, but you could make it even more decadent with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.  I also thought some toasted pecans or raw sugar on top might be a nice touch.  Delicious, but definitely heavy.

Butternut squash risotto is tasty.  I strongly recommend it.  It requires attention, but it’s not tricky.

2 TB and a little more butter
2 tsp. olive oil
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 1/2 lbs butternut squash cut into 1/2inch chunks
coarse salt and pepper
1 and 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
1 quart chicken broth (heat in a saucepan on the back burner)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus more for garnish
1 TB chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnish

1) In a medium heavy-bottom saucepan, melt 1 TB butter over medium
heat. Add olive oil and shallot. Cook until shallot is soft and
translucent. Add squash;
season with salt and paper. Cook, stirring often, until it begins to soften.

2) Add rice, stir to coat. Add wine; cook until almost all liquid has
evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.

3) Reduce heat to medium-low; add 1/2 cup hot broth to the mixture. Cook,
stirring until almost all liquid is absorbed. Add the remaining broth mixture,
1/2 cup at a time, stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding more, 35 to
40 minutes total. You don’t have to stir constantly, but check to make
sure it isn’t getting sticky.
A frying pan with a nice thick bottom helps a lot with this.

4) When the rice is almost cooked, melt a little extra butter and cook
your chopped sage in it to release the flavor.

5) Stir in Parmesan, sage,remaining 1 TB butter and 1 1/2 teaspoons
salt. Serve immediately.

Don’t forget to include some product placement.  Served with  chicken cooked with the rest of the white wine and some herbs.

Extra tasty when enjoyed with others and conveniently cooked on a night off work.  What really put this recipe over the edge flavor-wise was using homemade chicken broth – I had about 2 cups from a whole chicken I cooked in the crockpot, with none of the fat skimmed off.  I diluted it with a vegetable bouillon cube and water, but the chicken broth/fat really added a lot of flavor.

Bronwen’s version here.

Here’s the recipe, on popular demand, for the butternut squash soup.  It comes from an online pal with her comments.  (Isn’t pal a great underused word?)

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 onion, chopped, 1 celery stalk, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1/2 c. butter
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 c. maple syrup
2 1/4 c. vegetable or chicken stock*
1/2 c. apple juice*
Fresh thyme to garnish

*Note – you really just need 3 c. of liquid, so eliminate the juice or add more, add more stock, use more syrup or whatever suits your tastes.

Saute all veggies in butter over medium heat approx. 10 mins.  Add allspice, syrup, stock and juice.  Bring to boil, reduce heat and cover;  simmer until veggies are tender (around 30 mins).  Puree soup in batches in blender.  Garnish w/ thyme.

As it turns out, I put in too much allspice.  Otherwise the flavor was excellent – I used my trusty favorite, Rapunzel vegetable bouillon.  If you used oil instead of butter, you could make it fastable!  Wow, where did that exclamation point come from?  Fast recipes aren’t that exciting.

In terms of texture, I’ll lay the fault at the foot of my mini food processor.  Or I could’ve strained it to get out some of the chunks.  As the recipe stands, the hardest part is peeling and cubing the squash – otherwise it’s very simple.

I made my butternut squash soup (no photos, because it’s really not that pretty) and ate the last of my pumpkin bread pudding (photos to come) and sat down with a cup of tea.  Read through a few articles for school and now I’m dying to close my eyes.  Not necessarily because the articles are boring (one was hilarious) but it’s a gray day, and my tummy is full, and the couch is comfortable.  I went for a walk this morning and thought of all kinds of things to write about, but of course now they’re gone.  Something about Lincoln logs…oh yes.

There are these logs in the park that are set up like Lincoln logs.  Okay, I’m sure the Lincoln log people imitated the way logs were actually cut to make log houses but WHATEVER.  Where one long piece of wood rests on two little pieces, and they’re all notched to fit together?  For whatever reason, there are a bunch of these in the park, all lined up.  I have no idea why, but today I suddenly noticed them as being Lincoln log-esque, and for whatever reason it felt noteworthy.  I always like Lincoln logs.

Speaking of constructing houses, my second thought was of all the leaf-houses we built as kids.  My parents have two maple trees in the front yard, and instead of raking up the leaves and disposing of them, my sister and brother and I would rake them into floor-plans.  We would argue over who got which “room” and what would go where and it was all delightful.  And whenever we were bored, we’d just rake the leaves into a new shape and play house in our new house.  Until everything got too wet and soggy and had to be raked up.  I wish we had pictures of that.  Clearly I’ve always been a teensy bit obsessed with houses.   I would say that these leaves houses were one of THE memories of being a child.  Top Ten.

On the book front, I’m reading the Konigsburg.  I’m generally a fan, so I’m inclined to like it, but I’ve read less than flattering reviews and I can’t get them out of my head while I read!  Certain elements are a little heavy-handed, but her characters I do love.  It turns out several of the characters have appeared before, but for all my retention of authors and titles, I’m terrible at remembering the insides of books in great detail – so even though it’s only been a few years since I read The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place, it wasn’t until she hit me over the head with it that I realized Amadeo’s parents were the kids in that story.  I do like it when characters and places are glimpsed again and again.

I’m 2/3 through The Namesake, which I’m still thoroughly enjoying, and way too pleased with myself at spotting a certain plot development WAY in advance.  A casually introduced character shows up years later?  I called it.

An addiction to Veronica Mars has been impairing my book reading this week, sad to say.  Of course each episode leaves you with a question and of course the next episode doesn’t really answer it.  Yet I keep watching just one more.

Despite the pumpkin bread pudding, I’m having a serious craving for chocolate.  It’s calling out to me.

We’ve officially entered the rainy season.  Yes, true, the rainy season never really stops here, but we’ve had some monsoon quality rainstorms lately.  Last night I was falling asleep, listening to the nice gentle drip of rain when a global faucet was turned all full force and it went drop “plop plop plop” to “CHHHHHHHH.”  It would dwindle for a moment, and then it would start back up.  It was so loud that I felt like I ought to be outside, experiencing this extremity.  It was movie-quality rain, the kind where romantic characters are suddenly drenched while having a tender moment after running after each other when they suddenly realize they must confess their undying affection.

I’ve been thinking about Thanksgiving dinner and it’s gotten me awfully hungry, a situation that might be improved by eating lunch.  Or, you know, more pumpkin waffles.  Or I could bake more pumpkin muffins.  Or try this recipe for pumpkin bread pudding.  All pumpkin, all the time.

I’ve been reading Emma, rather slowly, ever since I got back from California.  Occasional breaks for children’s books, because I don’t want those library books to gather dust on my shelf.  Last night I picked up Touching Snow, which I’d checked out because it was on the list of National Book Award finalists (the “young people’s” list, what else?  Because last year I read all the finalists and thoroughly approved of their choice of winner) (I put all of them on hold, except for 1) Story of a Girl which I already read and liked – and was just telling Bronwen about!  Because we drove through the town where it was set!  2) The Invention of Hugo Cabret which I also already read and liked, but did not drive through the town where it was set because I didn’t have enough gas to make it to Paris.)  Anyway, I started reading it and was pulled in…but it turned out I was not in the mood to read about an abusive step-father (they call him “the Daddy,” which really creeped me out for some reason).  So instead I turned to something I knew I would enjoy (it was Friday night, after all) and started the third Oracle Prophesies book, Day of the Scarab.  Oh yeah.

In the car right now I’ve got The Namesake – I have no idea where the story is going, but I’m sold and along for the ride.  Too bad it’s overdue…bad wanna-be librarian.

*”Jason, the Ice Capades are an extravaganza” – Ms. Allegretto

I’m not sure what number this week would be, and the fish was actually purchased, cooked and consumed in October, so it’s all pretty much a lie at this point.  Bronwen and I made this together while I was visiting.

Masgouf Fish, recipe from Theresa:

  • 1 (3-4 pound) rockfish – whitefish of any kind – good made with snapper or sole (we used red snapper)
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • parsley sprigs
  • 1 T. curry powder
  • 1 T. white vinegar
  • ½ to 1 t. salt (or to taste)
  • 1/8 to ¼ t. pepper
  • 2 T. lemon juice

Rub outside of fish with vegetable oil. Place in a 9×13 baking dish and set aside. Combine tomato, onion, celery, garlic, parsley, curry powder, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Spoon over fish. Bake in a moderate oven (350) for 30 to 40 minutes or until fish is browned and flakes easily when tested with a fork. Sprinkle lemon juice over fish just before serving. Garnish with additional parsley.
This is the recipe in the book. I prefer to sauté the onion till it’s a bit soft, then add the other stuff to it and sauté just a little before pouring over the fish. That was you can be assured of not have any crunchy onions.

So, following the age-old established order of things, I did the dishes while B put things together.

The fish was rinsed.

Curry powder was used.

The topping was cooked up.

It was spread over the fish.

It was baked, and eaten with rice and naan.  Tasty and pretty simple.  What, you say?  But I didn’t do any cooking?  Fine, it looked simple.

The hopefully-knocked-up Marrit.

This one makes the taken-in-Ireland-2001  self-portrait look hopelessly dated.

Taz again, hard at work, treeing the invisible mountain lion.

And yes, I’m ashamed to admit it, I only took pictures of Kate’s animals and not of her.

On the farm with Taz.

Pacific Ocean, somewhere south of San Francisco.

Edited to add: more photos from my trip on flickr.

October 2007

Flickr Photos