Monday, November 9, 2015

A short note to my younger self

I need to tell you about something. Something no one warns you about. The health books are quiet about it.

At a certain point in your life you are going to start growing hair in unexpected places. I'm not talking about the crotch and pit hairs that come in when your body hits puberty. I'm talking about OTHER HAIRS.

It usually starts in the eyebrow area. You'll get one eyebrow hair that has this explosive growth spurt. As years go by, you'll get another. Then another. Until finally, unless you are grooming them you will be all eyebrow.

Then there will be the nose hairs. One day you are shaving and you notice a little spider leg peeking out. The next thing you know you have a forest attached to your mustache.

Then... the ear hairs. No one understands them. They just start to appear. You only notice them when your hair stylist comments on them as she buzzes them out of your ear canal.

I don't think science has explained this explosive hair growth, but it should.

I just wanted to warn you, younger me, that old man hair will be a thing. Enjoy the rest of your life.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

I've been working on a photo project.




I've been working on a project.

I like to take pictures. I like being a tourist. I like to photograph things from odd angles.

I had a heart attack.

One of the things that you have to do when you have had a heart attack is get more exercise. Since I don't like to run, can't swim, hate gyms, that pretty much leaves walking as my most viable alternative to getting my heart rate up so my cardiologist will leave me alone.

So. I decided to start a photo project. I call it Tourist at Home.

The idea is pretty simple. Pick a street, find a place to park, walk about 2 miles and take pictures as I go.

When I get home, I download the pictures and post them on my Tumblr Photoblog http://mggardnerphotos.tumblr.com/

Here is a preview of some of the things I have posted. If you want to see more, please visit my Tumblr.




Tuesday, November 3, 2015

My life is a lie



Today I was doing a check of Face Page. It's not something I do very regularly. I am not a fan of face page. But that's not the point of this post. The point of this post is my whole life is a lie. As I was scrolling down what face page calls a news feed, it told me that one of my friends had commented on a post somewhere about goulash. The accompanying picture to the post was what looked to me like chili mac. That delicious comfort food combination of chili and macaroni. My stomach grumbles now thinking about it. 

I got ready to write a whole long article on here about how crazy people on face page are. Don't they know chili mac when they see it. I googled the wiki article on goulash to verify my info before I started to rant when I noticed a link next to the disambiguation pages. American Goulash it said.

With a cold chill in my heart I clicked that link. The article redirected, my world shattered. Everything I knew was a lie. There is no Dana Chili Mac only Zuul American Goulash. The wiki article describes American Goulash as "an American comfort food similar to American chop suey."

I'm not entirely sure how chop suey figures into this. I am scared to click that link now. My world has been shattered enough for one day. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Writers write



Writers write. That's the story. Writers write and those who don't write... read? watch tv? I think about writing a lot. I've often thought about writing THE NEXT BIG NOVEL. I'll get plot ideas and character arcs and story lines. Sometimes I even write these down. But when I sit down to write the story I get nothing. No snappy dialog. No in-depth exposition. No spine tingling intrigue.

I am very good at writing like I am now. I also think I am pretty good at writing recipes. Recipes are just instructions with lists. Those are pretty darned easy. Get this stuff, measure out this much... kind of like being a potions instructor at Hogwarts. Only without the whole Voldemort thing. Can you imagine a Verse where the Ministry of Magic is replaced by Food Network??? Guy Fieri as Defense Against the Dark Arts Instructor. Alton Brown as Dumbledore. Who would be Voldie in this scenario???

But I digress. Writers write. Bloggers blog. Debaters debate. Politicians politic. We do what we are good at. I guess my favorite part of the writing process is research. When I get an idea I will dig into it. Well... dig into it as much as an internet connection and a wikipedia article or two will let me. I'll compile the research. But writing. I'll leave that for the writers.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Throw Together Coconut Soup

So, yesterday the husband started to get the beginnings of a bad cold. We had eaten at this great little Thai place near us and had discovered the wondrous joy that is coconut soup. When he starts to get a cold, the husband craves soup. Usually we go for the hot and sour variety from our local takeout joint, but with the memory of coconut soup in his brain, we had to try and make some for ourselves.
I did a quick interweb search to find ingredients that we would need to get close to the flavor profile of the soup we had at the Thai place and found out that basic coconut soup is really easy.


Ingredients:
1 Tbs vegetable oil
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp lemon juice
1 tsp red curry paste
2 cups chicken broth
4 ½ tsp fish sauce
1 ½ tsp brown sugar
2 cans coconut milk
1 TBS lime juice
1 4.5 oz jar mushrooms
salt if you think you need it


How to cook it.
Once you have all the ingredients, you’re basically just heating everything up.


In a 3 quart pot, saute the powdered ginger and the curry paste in about 1 TBS of oil until fragrant.
Add everything else, stirring constantly.
Bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes until heated through.
Give it a taste and add salt if you think you need it. (the fish sauce is already salty so it depends on your taste.)
Once it’s warm, put it in a bowl and eat it. 


Monday, October 5, 2015

So I Read an Article

So... I read this article...

Well most of an article...

Actually I read all of the article, but I skimmed through a lot cause it got pretty boring there in the middle.

It was about this big city fella from New York City who moved to Texas and found out that blatant homophobia was apparently still a thing.

So now this out and proud bisexual is finding himself forced back into the closet.
He painted with some pretty broad strokes describing his situation.
I know he was trying to shine a light on how hard it is living in the closet and the problems that many people face when being gay can get you fired.
BUT as a gay southerner born and raised in the south what I got was he is trying to say that if you are LGBTQ and lived in the South, you should just move because THESOUTHHASALLTHEPHOBIAS!!!!

And I laughed.
I laughed because how he described this horrible situation made me think of how Charles's co-workers threw us a wedding shower before we got married.

They threw us a wedding shower in his office. His work is cool like that. They let coworkers use the break room for functions like that.

So. Here is a gay guy in Mobile, Alabama reading an article about a bi guy from New York City that moved to (SOMEWHEREIN) Texas and isn't liking the homophobia.

That cake Charles' co-workers got us for our wedding shower sure was tasty.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Photo Project AKA shameless self promotion

I've been working on a photo project on one of my Tumblr Blogs. I am calling it Tourist at Home: Mobile, Alabama.

I pick a section of town, grab my camera and go take pictures. I love showing off what my town has to offer. We have some stunning architecture and some surprising finds, and my cardiologist likes that I'm getting some exercise.

The link is here if you wanna check it out.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Furiously Happy

So, awhile ago Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess) reached out to people to help her make a video for her new book. It was a simple concept, just tell them what makes you broken and what makes you happy. They will put these on a sign for you to videotape holding. Send them the video and let them do their magic.

My husband, the awesome human that he is, reached back to Jenny with what made him broken and what made him happy. They sent the sign, I did the video and we sent it in. Today, over on her blog, Jenny released the finished video and it is awesome.

I am ugly crying right now because I am so happy. Everyone on the video is lovely and wonderful and this is just what I needed today.




Friday, August 21, 2015

Jager Schnitzel Southern Fried


Jager Schnitzel with Rice casserole.


I was introduced to schnitzel when I was in the Army. I was stationed in Hohenfels, Bavaria, Germany back in the 90’s and really fell in love with the food. The brotchen, the currywurst, the schnitzels, were all so tasty.
It wasn’t until I got back to the states and really started cooking on my own that I learned how easy it was to make schnitzel. A schnitzel is just a cut of meat, pounded flat, and fried. The Germanic equivalent of chicken fried steak. Some people insist that it has to be coated, others say that all you need is the meat and seasoning. All the places that I had schnitzel breaded theirs, so that is what I am used to.
We had some boneless chops laid out for supper and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with them. Then I remembered The Husband had bought some mushrooms and figured what the hell. It’s been a while so why not indulge in some jager schnitzel.
I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand to make it a TRUE jager schnitzel, but I could get a close, South Alabama style.


Ingredients:
2 boneless pork chops, pounded about ¼ inch thick.
McCormick brand Montreal Steak Seasoning
¼ cup Tomato wine (or dry white wine)
1 cup milk for breading
½ cup milk for sauce
¼ cup chicken broth
1 cup vidalia onion, diced (about half of an onion)
1 cup portobello mushrooms, diced
½ sleeve of Ritz crackers (or bread crumbs, or panko)
3 or 4 Tablespoons of flour
1 whole egg
3-4 TBS butter, divided.


Mise en Place: (Fancy term for prep work)
-If you have a hand grater, grate your Ritz crackers.
-Dice the onion.
-With a damp cloth, wipe off any organic matter off the mushrooms and dice them.
-Lay your chops on a cutting board and cover them with plastic wrap then use a meat mallet to pound them thin.
*When I was growing up in rural Alabama, mom didn’t have a meat mallet to tenderize meat. Instead she had a Coke bottle that was specifically saved for that purpose. This was in the olden times when most cola bottles were made of glass. *
-Measure out all the wet ingredients. 1 cup of milk is for the breading and the ½ cup is for the mushroom sauce to go with the schnitzel.
*Honestly, I don’t usually measure when I’m cooking. I prefer to use the “That looks about right method” but since I knew I was gonna write about this one, I measured everything out. I’m glad I did too, cause I usually end up cooking too much.


Time to start cooking… almost:
The thing about breading meat, if you want that breading to stick and make a nice crust, you have to let it rest for a few minutes. Sure you can go thru your breading station and throw the meat right on the pan but odds are most of your breading will come off when you try to turn the meat over.
So lets set up a breading station. You want to have three shallow dishes, big enough to hold the meat.
In the first dish, put your flour.
In the second dish mix the milk and 1 beaten egg.
In the third dish put your Ritz crackers (or panko, or breadcrumbs)
Now, season both sides of your chops with your seasoning of choice. Just salt and pepper is fine, but for this dish I used McCormick brand Montreal Steak Seasoning because I pretty much put it on everything. Place the chop in the flour bowl and shake it around to make sure its coated with flour, shake off any excess and then dip it in the milk bath, the put it in the crumb dish and shake to coat. Shake off any excess crumbs and set the chop aside to rest. Repeat with the second chop. Let them rest for a few minutes.


Now we can cook:
We are going to start with the sauce.
In a skillet on medium heat, add about a tablespoon of butter. When the butter is melted, add the onions and stir until they become translucent, then add the mushrooms.
Stir the onions and mushrooms together, reduce the heat to medium-low, then walk away from the stove for about 10 minutes. YOU MUST RESIST THE URGE TO STIR. You want the mush-onion mix to slowly caramelize and to do that it has to sit. Check on it regularly to make sure its not burning, but DO NOT STIR UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. This should take about 30 minutes. 

You will know you are getting there when the mushrooms start to turn a nice golden brown and you will start to see lovely brown bits developing on the bottom of the pan.
When the Mush-Onion mixture is ready, it’s time to make the sauce.
Start by deglazing the pan with the wine. Stir it around to make sure you get all that delicious brown flavor that has developed on the bottom of the pan.
Next, add the broth.
Finally, add the milk and stir until everything is combined.
To thicken the sauce, mix some cornstarch in some warm water and add to the sauce.

Now, we can cook the schnitzel.
In a separate pan, on medium low heat, melt a pat of butter. Put the schnitzel in the pan and cook for a couple of minutes and then flip. Repeat with the second schnitzel.
Plate the schnitzel then smother it with the mushroom sauce.

Recipe:
Ingredients:
2 boneless pork chops, pounded about ¼ inch thick.
McCormick brand Montreal Steak Seasoning.
¼ cup Tomato wine (or dry white wine).
½ to 1 cup milk for breading (eyeball it. you just need enough to coat the meat).
½ cup milk for sauce.
¼ cup chicken broth.
1 cup vidalia onion, diced (about half of an onion).
1 cup portobello mushrooms, diced.
½ sleeve of grated Ritz crackers (or bread crumbs, or panko).
3 or 4 Tablespoons of flour.
1 whole egg.
3-4 TBS butter, divided.

Cooking instructions:
  1. Pound the chops between plastic wrap until they are about ¼ inch thick
  2. Bread the chops:
    1. coat with flour, shake off excess.
    2. coat with milk/egg mixture.
    3. coat with cracker crumbs.
  3. Set the schnitzel aside to rest
  4. Melt 1 TBS of butter in a pan over medium heat.
    1. add onions and stir until translucent.
    2. add the mushrooms and stir. Let sit for 10 minutes then stir again. Repeat every 10 minutes until the mushrooms reach a nice golden brown.
  5. Add the white wine and stir.
  6. Add the broth and stir.
  7. Add the milk and stir.
  8. Let the sauce simmer for a minute.
    1. To thicken, make a cornstarch slurry with ½ tsp cornstarch and ¼ cup of hot water.
    2. Add to sauce and stir til thickened.
  9. Melt butter in a separate pan and cook the schnitzel for a couple of minutes on each side until the crust is a nice golden brown, turning gently to make sure the cracker coating stays in place.
  10. Spoon the mushroom sauce over the schnitzel. Serve with potatoes, egg noodles, or rice.




  


  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Updated: Easy Peach Cobbler




So, the other day I was craving peach cobbler. I really love peach cobbler. I really love peaches. This is one of my favorite times of year just because peaches are fresh. As much as I love making cobbler with fresh peaches, sometimes you just don't have the time or the ingredients to do so. That's where canned pie filling comes in handy.

I found a recipe online that I adapted because I just wanted to make enough cobbler for my husband and me. The original recipe was for a 13 by 9 inch pan, but I wanted to use my 10 Vision Corning Ware frying pan.




Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
ground cinnamon to taste
1 can peach pie filling
Cooking:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Melt butter in a 10 round pan or 8x8 square baking dish.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Add milk, stirring until moist.
Pour the batter into the pan with the butter. 
Pour the can of pie filling over the batter
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the cobbler starts to turn brown
Realistically you should be able to get 8 slices of cobbler, but Charles and I only got 4 deliciously large slices. 





Edit: I made this again today but instead of canned pie filling I used fresh peaches. Here's what you will need to make your filling.
Peach filling:
3 large firm peaches peeled and sliced into large chunks
2 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs bourbon
Peel and slice the peaches into a bowl.
Add sugar, cinnamon, and bourbon. Toss together until peaches are coated.




Let the peaches macerate in the sugar mix while you mix together the topping.






Thursday, July 30, 2015

I just realized that

I just realized that it has been over two years that I have had any actual contact with my flesh and blood family.
And I realized why missing people stories were triggering depressive episodes. Here are people missing for a couple of weeks and their families are calling out national manhunts. To my family, I have been missing for two years.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

To my husband on our second anniversary

Two years have passed since that day on the bank of the Mississippi River. Two years since we exchanged vows in Keokuk, Iowa. Two years have passed since we said, “I do” and exchanged rings. Rings not with our wedding date, but with the official date of the start of our coupledom, V X MMV. Two years of travels. Two years of romance. Two years of daily humdrum everyday living. Two years worth of adventure. Two years full of tragedy and triumph. Two years worth of life.
Life lived better because you are my husband. You and I together, holding on to the life bar. Fulfilling our Foray.


Monday, July 6, 2015

When people disapprove of the Homosexual Lifestyle: A Rant.

Over on my tumblr, I saw someone talking about how they were ok with gays and were friends with some gays but disapproved of the gay lifestyle. 

other than removing the links and changing the names here is my rant pretty much as it is on Tumblr. 

Rant

I was doing some tumbling and saw where (TumblrH.) had answered an anon who disagreed with the “gay lifestyle” . I sent TumblrH. an ask that gave a peek into my husband’s an my gay lifestyle.
I decided to write a longer post here because the ask system doesn’t have enough characters to go into this complex subject.
It’s been my experience that when someone says they disapprove of the “gay lifestyle” for what ever reason, what they really mean is they disapprove of “gay sex.”
And when they disapprove of “gay sex” on religious grounds, that gets us to Leviticus. If you disapprove of gay sex based Judeo-Christian religious dogma, then there is a whole list of things that you have to disapprove of as well. Unless you are picking and choosing what parts of the dogma you want to believe in. 
If you disapprove of gay sex because “its gross.” then grow up. There’s a lot about two human bodies engaged in coitus that is gross, no matter what your sexuality may be.
If you disapprove of the “gay lifestyle” because you don’t understand what the “gay lifestyle” is, I suggest you educate yourself.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Easy peach cobbler.



So the other day I was craving peach cobbler. I really love peach cobbler. I really love peaches. This is one of my favorite times of year just because peaches are fresh. As much as I love making cobbler with fresh peaches, sometimes you just don't have the time or the ingredients to do so. That's where canned pie filling comes in handy.

I found a recipe online that I adapted because I just wanted to make enough cobbler for my husband and me. The original recipe was for a 13 by 9 inch pan, but I wanted to use my 10 Vision Corning Ware frying pan.




Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk

ground cinnamon to taste
1 can peach pie filling
Cooking:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Melt butter in a 10 round pan
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
add milk, stirring until moist.
Pour the batter into the pan with the butter. 
Pour the can of pie filling over the batter
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the cobbler starts to turn brown
Realistically you should be able to get 8 slices of cobbler, but Charles and I only got 4 deliciously large slices. 


Edit: I made this again today but instead of canned pie filling I used fresh peaches. Here's what you will need to make your filling.
3 large peaches pealed and sliced into large chunks
2 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbs bourbon
Peel and slice the peaches into a bowl.
Add sugar, cinnamon, and bourbon. Toss together until peaches are coated.
Let the peaches macerate in the sugar mix while you mix together the topping.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Slow cooked beef roast

I made something delicious.


We had a beef roast, about a 3-4 pounder and I wanted to cook it in the slow cooker so that it would fall apart. Then I was gonna put that deliciousness into some taco shells and nom.

Since I have a case of tomato wine from my wine guy, I thought I would experiment a bit.

I trimmed the fat cap off the roast, sliced up some carrots and celery, chopped a couple of onions, opened a can of diced tomatoes, opened a bottle of tomato wine and let some magic happen.


Recipe:

One 3-4 Lbs Beef Roast, trimmed
One can petit diced tomatoes
2 carrots, washed and sliced (I cheated and used the food processor)
2 celery stalks, washed and sliced (still cheating. Food processor for the win)
2 onions, chopped (yup, food processor)
A handful of the left over dry rub I made for the pork ribs.
1Tbs brown sugar
a large palmful of oregano
about 2 oz tomato paste (it was about half a tube).
Oh! and one _ oz bottle tomato wine (smug-ina If you don't have tomato wine, any wine you like will be fine.)

I put the veg through the food processor because A) I didn't want to chop it all myself and 2) because I wanted small bits. I knew this was going to be a long cook time and I wanted the veggies to just disappear.





Put everything in the slow cooker and cook it on low for about 6 hours and then turn it to warm over night.
Or until the meat easily pulls apart if you cant wait 24 hours.

After the meat is done, move it to a separate pan to shred, then remove the cooking liquid from the slow cooker, leaving just enough to cover the meat. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker and let it sit until ready to eat. Save the cooking liquid for another purpose (soup, thicken it for pasta).



Friday, May 29, 2015

Baked Baby Back Ribs

So the other day, I finally got around to cooking the baby back ribs Charles and I got from our local butcher shop.

When we realized that our local grocery store wasn't butchering their meat anymore, we decided to shop around for a local place and found a pretty great deal at Mosely's Meats. For $99 we get 2 lbs ground sirloin, 1 whole fryer, 6 pork chops, 4 cubed steaks, 2 bacon wrapped sirloins, 1 pork roast, 1 beef roast, 1 lb bacon, 1 lb smoked sausage, and 1 slab baby back ribs.

I looked to The Joy of Cooking and Alton Brown for inspiration on how to cook up some deliciousness.

I decided to use a dry rub and bake the ribs. Charles doesn't like BBQ sauce and we don't have a smoker so really baking with a dry rub was my only choice.

For the dry rub I combined:
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper 
1/4 cup garlic powder







This made more than enough dry rub for the ribs. I had enough left over to put some on the pork roast before I put it in the crock pot... but thats another blogpost.

I mixed all the spices together and put a thick layer on the ribs and let them sit in the fridge for a couple or three hours.
Then, inspired by Alton Brown's, Who Loves Ya Baby-Back rib recipe from Good Eats I wrapped the ribs in tinfoil and added some braising liquid.  I also roasted some whole carrots beside the rib packages of goodness.

For the braising liquid I combined:
1 cup tomato wine (because I have a friend that makes tomato wine)
2 Tbs white wine vinegar
2 Tbs worchestershire sauce
1 Tbs honey

I baked the ribs at about 225 degrees for about two hours then checked to see if they were done. They weren't so I put them back in for another two hours and when I checked they were falling off the bone, so I knew they were ready. I drained the braising liquid into a sauce pan, added a cup of tomato wine and reduced it to a glaze for the ribs.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Lonely Flowers

Lonely Flowers
Lonely flowers stand dogged sentinel
ringed around a mound of earth.
Beautiful flowers bearing silent witness
as those who came to mourn make their retreat.
Death has conquered.

The mourners retreat
retracing the path they took moments before.
They stand about in circles and are
comforted by those who need comforting.

They share each others grief,
and in doing so, the grief is lessened
as it is
shared
and spread
and
torn
to
tatters.

Life goes
on
and on
and on
but Death will ultimately claim us
one
by one
until we,
too,
are gone,
and more lonely flowers will stand guard
as we,

sleep.

*Author's note: I wrote this around 1991 after my mother had died.