Friday, August 7, 2015

When you're hot, you're hot - The Very Best Butter Cookies

No cats were harmed in the making of this blog post

And when you're not, you're still hot.  This is Florida, mind you.  Here in Central Florida, we have two seasons - summer and winter - and winter lasts for three weeks.  I have lived here for almost 24 years, and I do not own a winter coat. 

Heat tolerance is a relative thing, and it was my relative, Aunt Ceil, who explained it to me a very long time ago.  She told me that after two years, your body adjusts to the heat - she stated "your blood thins out" - and with that, you would be able to tolerate constant high temperatures.  Of course, as I have found to my sorrow, you also lose the ability to tolerate cold.  The coldest spot in Kissimmee is in front of the new courthouse in January, in other words, down the block from here. With the wind that gets caught in the space formed by both courthouses and the county administration building, we have a real wind chill factor.  Maybe 45 degrees. A New Yorker would laugh at me - heck, 30 years ago I would have laughed at myself - but once the temperature dips below 50, it starts to feel chilly.

So as we speak, it is only 81, or maybe it is 84 already, but still, good temperatures to be outside pulling weeds.

I know there are several people, who reading this, are shaking their heads and muttering, say what?  I was always hypersensitive to heat, and anything over 75 was uncomfortable.  When I was nine years old, spending my third summer at Camp Anawana, I passed out during a line-up.  Hit the deck.  Weird feeling, first time I remember ever having that happen.  It was blazing hot, the humidity was high, and it was all too much for that chubby little body.  I was embarrassed, but I got an ice pop out of the deal, so I got over it.

Around 1976, when I was a single girl with an apartment (!) and a strained budget, my father, may his memory be for a blessing, took pity on me during that terrible summer and gave me money so I could ride the express bus from Howard Beach to Manhattan.  I thought it was because of the wretched heat, which Pop knew destroyed me on a daily basis.  It was only later that it occurred to me his concern might also have something to do with 1976 being the Summer of Sam.  New York, I love this town!

We didn't have ghosts or Sumarian demi-gods, but we did have a serial killer, and he (David Berkowitz aka Son of Sam) had all of us in a tizzy. A well-founded tizzy.  True, he was targeting young couples, and I wasn't part of a couple, being between husbands, but I was a young and temporarily attractive female, and back then we didn't have "Criminal Minds" around to tell us that a serial killer stays true to his profile.  

Another time ... okay this is the last one ... this was also in the mid-seventies.  There I was, a native New Yorker who had never been to the Statue of Liberty.  My friends Mark and Sandy had invited me for a day of fun, checking out odd lines of the subway (Mark and I are both subway aficionados), on our way to the southern tip of Manhattan for the ferry ride to Liberty Island.  Halfway up the stairs, the heat and closeness of the structure got to me, and I started to hit the deck when Sandy caught me.  Between the two of them, they got me out of there and I started to feel better; fresh air and Moo Shu Pork did the rest.  I have fond memories of that day. Good times.

So I was saying that it is a good day to garden, except the golden moment passed, and now it's not.  Rob and I went out to do some necessary shopping, and by the time we got back things had changed somewhat.

Clearly, there was nothing else to do but bake cookies. Not just any cookie, mind you, but The Very Best Cookies In The World.  These are my mother-in-law's butter cookies.  I first tasted them when I was dating Rob, circa 1972 (oh yes), and continued to consume them in impressive quantities through our engagement and first marriage.  When Rob and I separated in 1975, I was devastated.  Besides feeling like my life was destroyed, I had never gotten that cookie recipe from my mother-in-law.  I tried to find a recipe that would come close, but to no avail.

Eventually, Robert and I came to our senses and remarried, and as a splendid bonus, I finally got that recipe.  It is not true that I remarried to get that recipe ... but it didn't hurt.  (Just kidding, sweetheart.)

Rob and I, his brothers, and all my ex-sisters-in-law call these Mom's Butter Cookies.  The cooking grandchildren, my nieces Mara and Adina, call them Grammie's Butter Cookies.  Simpler, then, to call them "The Very Best Butter Cookies In The World."  Because they are.

Cat on a Hot Glass Stove

So while I'm working on the cookies, I had a visitor.  He's black, he's white, he's short, and he's entirely too fond of the heat given off by the oven.

The recipe is easy, the list of ingredients short, but you must follow the instructions precisely to produce this ethereal treat.  Trust me.

Mom's Butter Cookies (aka The Very Best Butter Cookies in the World)

1/2 pound butter (not margarine or any other substitute. Real dairy butter or nothing.)
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (the real stuff)
3 cups sifted flour
strawberry jam, or apricot preserves

First and foremost: bite the bullet and sift the damn flour.  If you don't, if you believe that the flour is "presifted", you will end up with dry and heavy cookies. You have been warned.

Second and nextmost: yes, these are thumbprint cookies, but if like me you have acrylic fingernails, don't bother trying to use your thumb or any other digit.  Instead, haul out the hardware:

You're also going to need a stand mixer or hand mixer.  Cream the butter; add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy.  Add the egg yolks and the vanilla, and beat everything together.

Now add the flour in 3 or 4 batches, mixing well to incorporate it.  If you have been using a hand mixer, you may need to incorporate the last batch of flour by hand.

No, seriously, BY HAND.  Time to play with your food.  Wash those hands and dive right in.


Place the cookie dough in the refrigerator for at least five minutes.  With a small scoop, make balls about one inch in diameter.  Roll them between your hands, and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Make an indentation with your thumb, a tomato shark, or a round-bottomed 1/4 teaspoon measure, and then fill with the jam.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-18 minutes. With a spatula, remove to a cooling rack.

You're welcome.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Great Day for a Hanging - Chicken, Just Chicken

Winner, winner, easy peasy chicken dinner.

If you like to use a crockpot, you will like this method for preparing chicken. Not that it involves a crockpot, but it does stretch out the time you will use to cook the chicken.  Like the barbecue experts tell us, "low and slow", although this has nothing to do with smoke or barbecue.

Confused yet?  Hey, I'm confused all the time! Today was a tough one.  I was on the telephone with a Social Security advocate's office, and I must have sounded like an idiot (PC Alert! Yes, PC police, I know these terms - moron, idiot, and imbecile - are no longer used when discussing persons with learning disabilities, but I am talking about myself, and I have a frikking Literary License, so cut me some slack) because I could not string two words together or answer simple questions.  I am a mess, and getting messier.

I was able to work with James on the picture hanging project, although he had to do the math.  And the hanging.  My brain may be slightly scrambled, but my eye is still good when it comes to judging wall hangings. Well, my eye is good as long as I am wearing my super-duper stronger-than-dirt eyeglasses. (I am pretty sure that my eyesight is continuing to deteriorate at a rapid pace after having remained the same for 30 years, and then crashing 200 points in each eye.  Still heading to a place where they don't measure one's eyesight in numbers anymore.)      

Depression - deep, dark, blacker-than-night, paralyzing, enervating, debilitating - is a funny thing. It prevents you from moving forward on projects.  It prevents you from finishing even the most mundane tasks.  Like hanging pictures. And unpacking. We lived in the Flora Vista house for 11 years, and I never fully unpacked. Also didn't come close to hanging all the pictures.  I got stuck on stupid and stayed there for 11 years.  At least in the Ocita house, all the pictures got hung.  Never fully unpacked either, there's another 11 years. Yeah, I've been depressed a long time. You should have seen my basement in Ronkonkoma.

This house is a great deal smaller than any of those, but there is a pretty good amount of wall space, so the time is right for a hanging.  It's shaping up nicely, and as stressed and overwhelmed as I feel, it helps to see old familiar faces on my walls.  It is, of course, a work in progress, but I took some (really crappy) photos of what's gone up so far.

Back to the chicken - it is ridiculously easy, and with the low-and-slow method you can knit a sweater, or at least a scarf, while the chicken cooks.  You don't have to check on it, or baste it, or sauce it, or bother it in any way, shape, or form.  Seriously. Walk away. Read a book. Check your email. Well, at least for the first 2 hours. Then ... let me explain.

If you have access to a BJs, buy the chicken thighs there.  Don't bother to rinse the chicken; chicken-rinsing has fallen out of favor with the Salmonella Police, don't you know. I buy the chicken in pillow packs, 4 thighs to a pack, and they are as clean as any dead chicken is going to be.

Open up 2 packs, so you have a total of 8 thighs.  Leave the bone and skin intact. Tuck any excess skin around and under the thigh.  Pat the chicken dry, using paper towels. Throw the towels away. According to the Salmonella Police, the towels are toxic.  I know what you're thinking, you can figure out how to do it.

Mix the seasonings together:

2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon Raging River 5 Pepper Seasoning Blend
1 teaspoon dried chives
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. I used convection, which converted the temp to 275 degrees. Season the chicken generously on both sides and place in a baking pan skin side up.  Place in the oven and walk away for the next 2 hours. Read a book. Do some gardening. Or, as my cousin Maura would say, let Calgon take you away. Relax, the oven knows what it is doing.

At the end of 2 hours, carefully remove the pan of chicken to a level surface.  You see all that rendered fat?  Leave it alone.  With tongs, carefully turn each piece over.  Lightly re-season the exposed side with the seasoning mix and some sweet paprika, and return to the oven for another hour or more until the chicken is very tender.  Turn the oven temp to broil and crack the door open an inch or so.  Broil for 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, and turn the chicken skin side up.  With a paper towel, blot away the excess oil, then sprinkle with a little more seasoning mix and sweet paprika.  Broil until the skin is crispy, not more than 5 minutes.  Remove the chicken from the pan to a serving dish or another clean pan.  Discard the rendered fat.

The chicken is very tender from being cooked low and slow, essentially in its own fat, like a confit.  I highly recommend that you serve this with old-fashioned mashed potatoes, peeled Russets, boiled, hand-mashed, and enriched with hot half-and-half and a whole lotta butter.  You will love this dish.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Cat's in the Cradle, and the Sink, and the Skillet, and the Pizza Box - Fried Pickle Spears

Deep sigh:  Oyyyyyyy ... These last few posts have been totally out of order.  I'm actually feeling a trifle better today, or maybe that's the ibuprofen working its magic.  Regardless, I am going to enjoy the moment. 

I am so excited about the Fox Republican Debate.  I'm not a Republican, and while we do watch Fox, there are times I get so aggravated at certain commentators I plug in my earphones and listen to Mandy Patinkin sing "Send in the Clowns."

Now - Can somebody explain to me what is going on with my cat?

Everything and the Kitchen Sink

My New Cast Iron Skillet

Al's Pizza, of course

He's turned into a container freak.

Me, I'm just a freak.  The latest "thing" is paranoia. I feel like I am being watched, spied upon, recorded. A car idling too long across the street, taking off when I happen to look out through the blinds. That gave me a very unpleasant feeling. I don't suppose it helped that earlier in the day, my iPhone popped up with a couple of wifi providers including "Surveillance Van."  No. really.  Not subtle enough to be for real, but it set my mind off.

I am still unable to walk into the courthouse or to my office.  I freeze at the thought.  Saturday will be five months since I was told to "go home and stay there until a doctor clears me to return to all of my duties. " That has never happened; neither of my doctors could sign off on something like that, now or anytime in the immediate future.  In the courtroom, publicly with no regard for my feelings or my illness, I was embarrassed, humiliated, and mortified. The self-esteem I had built up over decades crashed and burned in one afternoon.  I still can't get into details, nor would it be appropriate for me to vent.  The first sentence alone would include an enormous amount of profanity, with the word "bitch" being the mildest term there.

To say this is painful is an understatement.  But I am a patient woman, who believes that everything happens for a reason, what goes around comes around, and revenge is a dish best served cold.

Speaking of Dishes Best Serve Cold, this episode of Inspiration Nation is all about fried pickles.  Not those flimsy crosscut coins that every other restaurant seems to serve, but Fried Pickle Spears!  These are so good, you will be able to hold out until green tomatoes become available (I'm working on that - watch my garden grow). These are easy, but you will need a couple of ingredients you probably don't keep in stock.  Unlike me, who keeps some damn weird stuff in stock.

Fried pickles and fried green tomatoes are not foods I grew up eating.  Pickles are an important part of Jewish cuisine (walk into a New York Jewish deli and tell me what's on every table) and considered so perfect in and of itself  that breading and frying amounts to gilding the lily.

I never had a fried pickle until I moved down south, and even then it was not until I'd been here for years that my friend Tony mentioned them.  That boy is originally from Alabama, and I seriously trust his judgment on all things southern, so I was on the outlook for these things.  Found them at a couple of different restaurants and I was hooked, but I have to admit the best fried pickles we ever ate had him ordered at Uncle Bubba's Oyster House, just outside Savannah, Georgia.

Yes, Uncle Bubba. Paula Deen's brother. Get it out of your system now, and we'll move on to those pickles.

As I've explained before, I love Paula Deen.  I love her restaurant and I love her recipes. I'm going to guess that most of the recipes that her brother used and included in his cookbook had originally come from Paula.  I can read between the lines - Bubba has been a bit of an eff-up most of his adult life.  The recipes, the restaurant, that was all to help him.  Just my opinion.

Most restaurants, including Uncle Bubba's at its end of days, and the incomparable Jimmy Bear's BBQ in St. Cloud, fry crosscut pickle chips.  Just all right, in my opinion. The spears are best, and this is my recipe, and it is good.

Fried Pickle Spears

1 - 24 oz. jar kosher dill spears (I used Vlasic brand)
hot sauce, any kind (I used Sriracha; Crystal, Uncle Pete's, Tabasco are all good)

Night before the Big Fry:  Pour off all of the pickle juice.  Refill the jar with buttermilk and as much hot sauce as you can bear.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

1 - 8.5 oz. box Jiffy corn muffin mix
1/2 cup rice flour
black pepper, granulated garlic
1 pound Goya lard (yes, lard)

Combine the corn muffin mix and rice flour in a wire strainer with pepper and granulated garlic to taste and sift together into any pan or dish with raised sides. (You know I used an aluminum baking pan.)  Do not skip this step.

Heat the lard in a deep skillet over medium-high heat (that's 7.5 on my modern stove).  Remove the pickles from the buttermilk bath and roll them in the coating mix.  Fry them, in batches, until they are evenly brown (GBD = Golden Brown and Delicious) on both sides.  Drain on paper towels  Serve hot with ranch dressing (meh) or whatever you like to dip fried things into.

Like my Awesome Sauce Sauce.  You can find the recipe here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

"And that's the way it is"... Mussels in Creamy Wine Sauce with Slipper Limpet Pasta

So I drafted this days ago, and just getting around to finishing it.  If you read yesterday's post, you know why.  I apologize for that dark and dreary post, but unfortunately, that is the nature of the various syndromes that have taken up residence in this frail little body.  It's a wonderful life.  No, it's not.

I was able to pull some weeds this morning before the sun took over that side of the house, which gave me time to think, and chat with a colleague, and throw out a few zingers.  Okay, kids, to start - I can't say enough bad things about judgess.  Apparently others can't either.  Karma.  Wait for it, it's coming. (I could tell you a funny story about another arrogant judge and karma and public humiliation, but I won't, except to remind a certain current member of the bench that it happens, and when it does, you'll get no sympathy).

Also I am very disappointed in both law firms I contacted.  If you need a law firm, talk to me and I will tell you who not to hire.  It is absurd that a website proclaims an "intake professional" will get back to you in one hour, and three days later you are still waiting.

Under normal circumstances I am a patient woman, but this is frankly freaking ridiculous.  Next!

Ah ha!  Saturday night supper for me and my spouse.  My iPad camera became balky at the wrong moment.  Too bad because this really is a photogenic dish. I'm talking about the mussels, of course.

Not a photogenic dish

After dumping another half dozen apps, I regained enough space to start taking photos again.  Anakin was being particularly affectionate, jumping up onto my shoulders and nuzzling me, which let me snag this photo.  I look terrible, Ani looks a proper Jedi Knight.

Now, I'm in a crappy mood, so let's get that declaration of crappiness out of the way.  That's my life, that's my medical condition, and that's the way it is.  So today's ear worm - and it is a pretty one! - is brought to you courtesy of Celine Dion and Walter Cronkite.  No, really.

I can read your mind and I know your story
I see what you're going through, yeah
It's an uphill climb, and I'm feeling sorry
But I know it will come to you, yeah
Don't surrender 'cause you can win
In this thing called love

When you want it the most there's no easy way out
When you're ready to go and your heart's left in doubt
Don't give up on your faith
Love comes to those who believe it
And that's the way it is

Yesterday, I couldn't pull myself out of bed, while today I am up and blogging at some disgraceful cow-milking hour.  It could be the Insane Itching, which is disturbing my peace.  It could be the dog, invading my space. It could be that I am pondering the conundrum of why did four strange men add me to their individual Google-plus circles within the past two days?  

Oh damn, one important thing I keep meaning to record and celebrate is the birth of my friends' third grandchild (first granddaughter!) two days ago. In my mind, we are all still 18 year old freshman at New Paltz, but on my Facebook page, we are all retirement age with long-term marriages, grown children, and in some cases, grandchildren. Congratulations and many blessings to Mark, Sandy, Iris, Jason, and Carrie.  The best days are the days that babies come.

I have Things To Do today, and for days to come. Some of them are important, others are just for fun. Some involve shopping. One involves trying to figure out if those are chest pains or indigestion.  Yet another calls for the exercise of my organizational skills (ha! and ha! again).

First and foremost, despite the lack of a medical doctor's degree, I have determined that indigestion, rather than a heart attack, is causing my discomfort.  What a relief, eh?  All that without the burden of a huge medical school loan.  By today's standards, my law school loan was a pittance.  My undergrad - well, there was no loan.  Regent's Scholarship, state university rates, and my four years at college, including room and board, cost my parents $5,024.  Those were the days.

Nextmost, we are engaged in a losing battle to outrun the rain.  We've got places to go and Necessary Things to buy, but it has turned into frikking monsoon season here in Central Florida, and we haven't had a break for many days.  Looking at the sky ahead of us, this is a losing proposition.  But we're off and running - or hobbling, in my case.

And we made it! Three important stops, good food, a killer cultivator so I can cultivate my garden, even gyro-flavored potato chips. Oh, and a new crockpot the size of Milwaukee.  Will we make it inside the house?  Will it storm on my potato chips?  Mother Nature must have taken pity on us, because we unpacked the car and moved all of our purchases into the house a full half hour before the skies opened.  I even managed to put a cage around the zucchini plant, so maybe it survived the deluge.

I am cooking the chicken thighs low and slow, and if my simple idea pans out, I'll  type up the recipe for tomorrow's blog post.  Today, however, I want to talk about mussels.   Delicious, tender, easy to prepare, reasonably priced mussels.  I buy them frozen, cook them according to the low-end of directions, and then combine them with whatever sauce I happen to prepare. You can use fresh mussels if you can find them, but I've had really good luck with the frozen ones.   

Just a note that "no slipper limpets were harmed in the making of this blog post."  It seems that the pasta called orrechiette (little ears) bears a striking resemblance to the little sea creature called slipper limpet.   Ergo, my name for this dish.  Calling it "little ears" brings up a bunch of bad Van Gogh jokes.                                                                              

Mussels in Creamy Wine Sauce with Slipper Limpet Pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 very large sweet onion, sliced
kosher salt
coarsely ground black peppersmoked paprika
6 cloves garlic, chopped

Melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat; add the onion and cook for a full 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another 10 minutes.

3 tablespoons Wondra flour
1 cup white wine
fresh thyme to taste
1 pound package frozen mussels

Add the flour to the onion-butter mixture, and stir to make a roux.  Add the thyme.  Cook the mussels according to package directions for 4 minutes, then set aside to cool.  Add the wine to the roux, and stir over medium-high heat until it thickens.  Add the thyme.  

Snip a corner of the bag containing the mussels and pour the cooking liquid into the pan.  Stir, and adjust seasoning.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Stir in 1 tablespoon each of butter and cream.  Add the mussels and cover the pan for a few minutes.

Cook any damn pasta you like - ears, bow ties, little worms, whatever - dress with a little butter - and serve with the mussel sauce over or under or alongside.  Serve family-style and throw a handful of chopped Italian parsely, preferably from my garden, over everything.  Green is good.  So are leftovers.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Reality Bites, Life Sucks, Fibromyalgia Wins

Not the best day in recent memory.  I've got three recipes ready to type up for the blog, and I've got photos to go with them, but my patience is apparently on vacation, and when you google "mood disorder", my picture appears.  

The medication, which I have obediently taken as prescribed for several months, is not effective. Useless, worthless, crap. For shit. I am not trying to be humorous here, but sharing what is happening. The pain in my back is extraordinary. The hyperactivity is breathtaking, and not in a good way. The itching is insane, as always.

I am angry, so it is just as well that I am isolated.  Angry and disappointed and frightened and hopeless. If I have failed to contact you, or to respond to you, or to attend a function which you hosted, I apologize from the bottom of my heart.  I'm not myself anymore, and I can't help but feel I never will be again.

The only good thing that happened today was that I got a little bit of work done on my downstairs book shelves. Surely that's better than a slap in the face with a wet flounder.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Mexican Rhapsody - Pan de Mico (Monkey Bread)

Good morning, Kissimmee!  If you've been circling around looking for parking near the courthouse, yes, I am the little old lady sitting next to the garden trying to pull weeds.  Not so easy today, as I hurt like mad, and can't imagine squatting beside the blueberry bushes so as to reach those stubborn weedlings.  My grand and glorious gardening project has come to a halt.

With the pain comes depression, as I am sure many of you know. Wherever I was yesterday, I'm somewhere else today.  Hell, perhaps.

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality.

Oh, mama mia, mama mia (Mama mia, let me go.)
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me.

Admit it, you've ALL had this ear worm at least once, and I've had it more times than I can count ... so now I declare Bohemian Rhapsody to be the Official Ear Worm of this blog!

I'm waiting to see which devil Beelzebub has put aside for me ... or perhaps I've already met him or her?  Bwah ha ha, yeah, that must be it.

I'm also trying to keep my brain active, so I've gone back to playing Words With Friends, but limited it to two worthy and understanding opponents - my husband, Patient Robert, and the Redoubtable Feldman of the North.  When my brain works, I can handle 20 games, but my brain just up and quit on me, damn it.  Two games is a big deal, folks. 

Since yesterday, I've been wanting normal food.  Well actually, wanting to cook normal food.  Chicken, chops, steak - the dinners of my misspent youth.  Mom Food.  Broiled chicken. Broiled Steak. Broiled lamb chops.  You get the idea.

But what I've got for you today is anything but normal, and definitely not broiled.

Playing with my food ...

2-4 oz. links La Banderita brand chorizo fino
1-4 oz. can chopped green chilies, drained
2-16.3 oz. tubes Grands! Homestyle Buttermilk biscuits, quartered
1 stick butter
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 cup cotija cheese (sort of a Mexican Parmesan), plus more for the pan.

Season to taste:
kosher salt, coarse ground pepper, granulated garlic, dried cilantro leaves

Remove the chorizo from the casings, and brown in a heavy skillet.  It will fall apart and render quite a bit of fat.  Scoop the cooked chorizo out of the skillet, and onto a paper towel-lined plate to cool and drain.

Cut the butter into 4 pieces, and place them into a Bundt or similar round baking pan.  Place in the oven while preheating to 350 degrees.  When the butter is melted, remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Carefully tip the Bundt pan so that the butter coats the sides.  Pour off the rest of the butter and set aside.  Sprinkle cotija cheese on the inside of the buttered pan and set aside.

In a very large bowl:

half of the biscuit quarters
half the remaining cooled, melted butter
seasoning to taste
half the chilies
half the chorizo
1 cup of the mozzarella
1/2 cup of the cotija

With a spatula, gently mix the biscuit pieces so that they are coated with the other ingredients, and turn them into the prepared pan.  Repeat with the remaining ingredients.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the biscuits are baked all the way through to the middle.  

Serve it immediately, with sour cream, salsa and/or any other favorite Tex-Mex sauces.  When it's fresh out of the oven, you pull the individual pieces with your fingers.  After that, you may prefer to slice it. Toast it. Throw a fried egg on it. Whatever.  It's good.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

No Apologies - In the Valley of the Jolly Green Giant

No recipe here.  This is short, sweet, and a little angry.

If you are not a regular reader, let me just give a little background:  I am a lawyer, and have been since 1991.  For over 23 of those years, I have worked in the child welfare system.  I never made a lot of money, never had a fancy office, never got any respect from other attorneys or the Bench, but I had (past tense here because I am in the process of retiring) the enormous satisfaction that comes with this area of law.

I have been part of the process that has saved children's lives.  Nothing I've ever done professionally has been this satisfying.  Okay, all my legal and social work and GAL friends, say it with me: "I saved children's lives."  Because you did, we all did, we did it together. That made it the best job in the world, even when we were dealing with adverse circumstances like bad pay, unreasonable expectations, short staffing, and an appalling courtroom environment.

Who were we saving? What is a child? When is a child a child? Should we have been out there saving lions instead?

Okay, I admit to poking liberals with a stick, first with this blog post from July 24, and then with a post on Facebook, asking my liberal friends how they reconciled the outcry over the killing of Cecil the Lion while remaining silent regarding the killing of 24 week fetuses.  One person responded that "a woman's right to choose is the law of the land."  Why yes, it is, and I am old enough to remember when all abortion was illegal, and that was a very bad thing.  I support a woman's right to choose, but sweet Jesus, don't tell me that extends to killing a baby! So I responded:

"The right of a woman to choose should not extend beyond viability, which can occur as far back as 22 weeks.   If the law of the land permits a woman to choose to kill a viable fetus (also known as a baby) then the law is an ass."  Set up your personal moral framework, and choose. Choose to use contraception.  Choose to abort earlier, not later.  (Or choose to carry to term; you'll always have Obamacare). Choose wisely.

23 weeks - that's a baby.

By the way, I also like to poke conservatives with a stick; for example, I am opposed to the death penalty, and I actually agreed with the President regarding re-establishing relations with Cuba. But that's another blog post.

This is an okra blossom.

This is an hibiscus blossom.  Relatives!

Time for some happy stuff:  MY GARDEN.  Today I set about pulling some weeds, a long and arduous process that will only take three times as long as a "regular" person, i.e., someone without fibromyalgia.  I have to break up this project to get it done or die in the process. So far today I've gone out to work twice; stick a fork in me, I'm done.  Tomorrow is another day.

Slow going

I'm glad to have gotten some work done, but even gladder (is that a word?) to see flowers and veggies making their appearance.

I am beyond excited (okay, I lead a quiet life) that my magnolia trees are both full of blooms, and my kumquat tree is going to bear fruit.



I've got vegetables!

Maybe cucumbers

Japanese eggplants (see those pretty purple flowers)

Cherry tomatoes and flowers

Hey, I'm from Brooklyn, growing things to eat is a miracle!

Thai basil, taking over my herb garden

Dill, gone to seed

Blogger, gone to seed