Conversations with Craig
I found out today that there are Alsatian bear hunting dogs. This information was imparted while trying to convince me that it was a good idea for Craig to go to Lake Tahoe to kill a 700 lb black bear with the liberal application of explosives. It seems that there's been a call to take down said bear because it breaks down people's front doors, wrecks their kitchens searching for food and leaving basketball sized dumps in their livingrooms. Why dynamite? It seems that bullets either lodge in it's bear fat or bounce off it's giant bear skull. Strangely, the conversation made me realize how much I miss interacting with Craig day to day. We had a lively debate, of course, over whether all the sugar he consumed on Friday could sweat out of his scalp and crystallize into a hard shell while he was running. I'm still dubious. And even if that sort of thing was possible, I still don't see how it's my fault. He didn't have to eat the cookies I sent him on the same day as the boss brought doughnuts. We disagreed on that point as well. It was so good to talk to him.
Soup du Jour
I began my plan for having more soups in my diet with French onion soup. Actually, I began with making big vats of beef stock and chicken stock. The first soup was French onion soup from Julia Child's recipe. I have made this soup two other times. One was from a big book of soup recipes I bought ages ago when I last worked at a book store. The other recipe was from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook. Both recipes were okay, but not as yummy as some I've had at restaurants. The recipe this time was by Julia Child from Julia's Kitchen Wisdom. It was so simple that it was written in a paragraph. I also have a mandolin to finely slice the onions this time. That marvelous device is my favorite thing in the kitchen right now. Anyway, with very little effort, I soon had the required quarts of onions. The rest was slowly cooking them into caramelized yumminess, stirring in a little flower to thicken, some cognac to deglaze and some beef stock and white wine. I also used a bit of vermouth as her recipe called for. I think her recipe worked better for me, because hers was designed for home cooks. It was so tasty especially when teamed up with rounds of baguette and some spreadable cheese or pate or both. I don't like my onion soup with the big cheese topped crouton floating in it. I like my bread and cheese separate from my soup. It may sound odd, but that's how I roll – soup wise. Why onion soup? Onions are very nutritious, and I was craving them. The Docs are telling me to eat what I crave – within reason. Next will be Ina Garten's Vichyssoise with zucchini. That recipe has more calories (that I need, ironically) And I have some protein supplements that mix well with creamy soups that I need to consume. Tomorrow, I'll be trying some zucchini pancakes. I've been making a lot of appetizer type dishes. Meal planning and cooking have been so strange for me. Prior to December, food was all about losing weight, laying off red meat, whole grains and high fiber, etc. Now, it's all about getting enough calories and protein. I've been strongly encouraged to eat lots of meat and eggs. Diet is a four letter word. It just weird.
Writing Old Friends
I met one of my writing goals this week. The short story version of Dancing with the German is off to four literary journals. I really can't stand all that secretarial stuff required for mailing out stories, but I got them out before the closest deadline despite a really rocky week. That accomplishment felt good. Now, I can get back to the research for the script Jon and I are still arguing about. This is timely as I expect I'll be spending a great deal of time in various waiting rooms over the next several weeks. A book and a notepad are good things to have at such times. Now that the story is in the mail, I also plan on writing some scenes from various works in progress. Among them are the next installment of the Soldiers novels, the next installment of the Surrender novels and the next chapter of the memoir. I have no idea what I'll do first. I think it depends on which has the strongest pull in a given moment. I plan to post whatever I write from the Soldiers or Surrender realms. The memoir must remain under wraps until it's actually published. I'm looking forward to spending some time with my fictional characters. It's been too long.
When mentioning some of my writing plans and my cooking experiments, I have been lectured by relatives and some friends about taking on too much. I will take this opportunity to say that doing too much just isn't possible for me right now. The moment I overextend, I get so tired that I have to sit or lie down. It took three days to get that apple pie in the oven last week. I cut the apples up on Friday, made the dough on Saturday and it finally got assembled on Sunday. The onion soup was a two day project even with the mandolin. So don't worry. My body is very much in control of letting me do only what it can handle. It's late on Saturday as I write this. I would very much like to shred the zucchini for the pancakes, but I am at the end of my day. I'm going to have a ginger spice cookie and head to bed.
The above paragraph was written at midnight. By one in the morning, I realized that sleep wasn't working. So I pulled up a Miss Marple movie on Netflix.com and set up my couch-side food prep station. As the end credits rolled, I had finished prep for the soup, the zucchini pancakes and the cheese topping for a pizza. Doing prep or actually cooking whenever I find I can also helps me get things done.