Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Why am I awake?

Since going to England in November, I've been all screwed up. First, I did something unkind to my back (I think it was hauling the several obscenely heavy suitcases full of books for the Green Ronin convention exhibit all across London on the Underground). While I was limping around and falling asleep stupidly early, my beloved was suffering the opposite jet lag and was unable to come to bed until I was on the rise. I joked that we were like those sheep dogs in the cartoon that greet each other "Hello George," as they're crossing paths to punch in/out for work. No sooner had we righted our schedules than I fell ill and was ill for much of the month of December. I spent much of my so-called holiday feverish and coughing and tossing in sweaty, hallucinatory sleep. I finally started feeling recovered, well into the month of January, and somewhere along the line I ended up on a bizarro-world schedule that still plagues me.

I wake at 7:45 in order to get my girl dressed, fed, combed, and off to school on the bus. Some mornings we cut it too close and she doesn't make it to the bus stop in time, so I bundle up, pull a hat down over my head and drive her. By the time all this ruckus is over, I'm awake again for 3 or 4 hours, and then fatigue sets in and I'm falling asleep on my keyboard, so I have a snooze and try to recover my energy. After my nap time, I'm ready to "get started" on my day, finally eating a meal when most people are considering what they're going to have for supper. By the time Kate is getting ready for bed, I'm worn out again and often fall asleep in the middle of reading her bedtime story. Unfortunately, I'm never down for the night, and inevitably I'm awake again an hour or two before midnight.

Wide awake.

This simply can't go on, but I've been too weak to force myself to struggle through the day in order to collapse *once* at a reasonable hour of the night. Because I'm the only driver in the household, I need to be fresh and clear-headed at the right times in order to make the obligatory treks to the post offices, the bank, the grocery store, and any other errands or chauffeuring of the child/husband that need doing. There are several potential solutions to this situation, I suppose we'll see how it all resolves itself eventually.



Razza Frazza

Technology has kept me from being able to post updates the last couple of days. For people who have known me since the computer age began, this will be no surprise. Technology hates me. Computers are magical things that work one day and cease working the next, usually going on strike after I've gone to bed for the night and with no sign of what I've done to offend them. "Computer people" routinely say things like "Huh, that's weird," while puzzling over whatever my issue du jour might be. I'm currently in a state where the planets have aligned, offerings made, karma is good, and all the computers in the house are actually working *and* able to connect to each other. Hoorah. I figure I'll ride it out for as long as the current cycle holds, but it's only fair to assume that in the next phaze of the moon it could all go straight to hell again.

Have decided to host a cocktail party this weekend. I've assembled an impressive list of potential cocktails and hors d'oeuvres aplenty. I'm assembling a bossa nova soundtrack and I actually went out and bought a punch bowl. Must find a source of inexpensive swizzle sticks and little paper umbrellas before Saturday!



Food, Part II

Back in high school I started collecting recipes. I still have little grey-brown card file with recipes hand-written on index cards, or clipped from magazines and taped to cards, that I started when I was about 16. That little box alone has about 300 recipes crammed into it, for simple marinades and typical Midwestern hot dish recipes, and for things that seemed downright exotic to me then (using ingredients like mango or eggplant or tofu, things not typically found at Petrika's Red Owl in the 1980s).

Since those days I have accumulated quite the collection of cookbooks and cooking magazines. I have four solid shelves of cookbooks, for foods of all kinds. French, Italian, Greek, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Southwestern, Asian-fusion, books dedicated to baked goods, several books exclusively on cookies, bread-baking books for bread machines and for breads made by hand. There are the books that proclaim they will teach you Essentials of Cooking, A New Way to Cook, How to Cook Everything, or How to Cook Without a Book. I have by the numbers books; 50 Chowders, 365-one-dish Meals, and so on. Their titles promise to share with me the Joy of cooking, the Easy Basics, Timesaving tips, Creative, Complete, Essential, and the Best of food from around the world. Pasta sauces, cooking with fresh herbs, vegetarian cookbooks (often with titles like "The Festive Vegetarian" or "Voluptuous Vegan" as if to reassure the reader that the bounty of vegetarian entrees will not be ignoble and flat, limited to sprouts and nut loaves), cookbooks from celebrity chefs, cookbooks that champion healthy eating in its many guises, books about whiskey, wine, espresso, cocktails and hors d'oeuvres... I could find something new to cook for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and not repeat myself for years. It seems sinful to collect all these recipes and never make them, so I cook a lot and cook a lot of different things.

I definitely have my favorites, but my passion for the last three years has been, hands down, Cooking Light Magazine. I have learned that I can pick up an issue of this magazine and trust that I can make virtually anything in it with winning results. Cooking Light cuts across every book I have on my shelf and presents recipes in a healthful-yet-delicious way that no other publication has been able to do for me. Of course, it helps that I'm an omnivore and open to try just about anything but the magazine is solid nonetheless. I routinely cook from the magazine for the family, for special get-togethers, and especially for "game night" when I cook to feed our friends who come over once a week for food and fun. I consistently get rave reviews for my Cooking Light meals on game night, so I know it's not just that I'm a sucker for food and easily impressed.

Take, for example, the Jan/Feb 2003 issue, from which I've already made the following:

Chicken with Olives and Lemon: Very Good
Posole (Tomatillo, Chicken and Hominy Soup): Excellent [raves at game night]
Turkey Philly Sandwiches: Excellent
Chicken with Artichokes and Olives: Very Good
Banana Pudding: Excellent [what a yummy treat!]
Roasted Sweet Potato, Fennel, and Onion Salad: Very Good
Chicken and Wild Rice Soup: Excellent [more raves at game night for this one]
Mini Meat Loaves: Very Good [even Kate ate these, yay!]
All-American Chili: Excellent

Still on my list to try from this issue:
Barley Pilaf with Chickpeas and Artichoke Hearts
Edamame Succotash with Shrimp
Pan-Seared Scallops on Linguine with Tomato-Cream Sauce
Turkey Tetrazzini

Last night's dinner was garlic shrimp over fettuccine and leftover banana pudding. Tonight was chili and fresh bread. Tomorrow I'm taking a break from Cooking Light because I found a beautiful brisket at the store tonight, so it will be brisket, with potatoes and cabbage, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

As the Descendents say, I like food, food tastes good!



Food, Part I

I grew up in a house where we never went hungry but we certainly didn't eat well either. We were poor enough that we ate fruits and vegetables almost exclusively from cans, where milk was never for drinking but only for morning cereal, where a special snack was cinnamon toast or saltines spread with margarine, and dinner might well be creamed tuna or creamed hamburger over toast (which I'm thankful I didn't know the outside the world called "shit on a shingle" or I would never have been able to eat).

I have very few fond food memories from childhood. The foods I remember most fondly are those from my early years in northern Minnesota: pasties (before I knew calzones or pizza pockets, we had the pastie [PAST' ee]; a crust wrapped around diced carrots, potatoes, onion, and meat), potica [pah TEET za], a paper-thin sweet bread rolled jelly-roll-style around a filling of cinnamon and finely chopped nuts. My father is a sportsman and I loved his smoked fish and the gamy grouse and pheasants. Those were formative food memories, distant and removed from what I ate most of the rest of my life.

One food I grew to loathe was turkey. My mom would always cook up a giant turkey for Thanksgiving when she could, but to me the turkey was the worst part. Potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, hot rolls, maybe even real butter and a pumpkin pie with Cool-Whip, oh bliss! But the turkey? Dry, coarse, over-cooked and under-seasoned (and that was on the first day, fresh from the oven). We had turkey leftovers for several days, if not a week. I still can't say I have fond feelings for turkey.

We were poor enough that a church group brought us a huge box of donated food one Christmas when I was about 13. My mom wasn't home, and I answered the door. It was quite a shock to me to find myself standing face to face with a donation box and several youth group members I knew from school. It was jarring and I felt physically stunned. Before that time, I knew we didn't have a lot--we didn't have Twinkies or Ruffles or bottles of Coke, we didn't even have generic knock-offs of those things--but I never realized how needy others perceived us to be until that day. I don't remember what was in the box, only that my pre-teen pride was so bruised I swore I wasn't going to eat their charity food, and I ranted to my mother, later, that they should have given that food box to some people who were actually hungry. Had anyone from the church extended an invitation to dinner, had someone other than my mother cooked that donation box of food and invited us to share it with them, I would have been so much more willing to accept their charity! I doubt I would have recognized it as charity at all. The delivery made all the difference, dropping by the house (my house, a house none of those people had ever visited prior) with their charity box made the group feel like good Christians full of holiday spirit, but the change it made in me was quite the opposite of what they intended.

So began my passion for food, not just eating and enjoying it myself but preparing, presenting, and sharing it with everyone I can.



I was going to have a nice, long, introspective post this morning. That's what I intended.

Instead, I had to venture out into the wet back yard in my pajamas to help my daughter open the back gate. The latch has rusted and takes more brute force to open than she's capable of inflicting. She'd been struggling with it for several minutes before I realized she was still out there and not at the bus stop.

Now my feet are wet and my child has missed her bus and instead of curling up for some coffee and some journal-writing, I'm off to drive her to school. Work will be demanding my attention by the time I return.





I have kept an irregular journal since I was 10 years old. I've used it more as a way to find my voice than as a tool for noting important events; in fact, it has often been the case that my journal contains no entries for important events at all, but plenty of observation of the mundane details of my life.

The creation of this weblog is my attempt to move that paper journal into the modern era. My attempts at starting this online journal are every bit as clumsy as my first childish entries in my first blank paper journal. I hope it results in the same degree of personal delight as well.