Saturday, August 28, 2010

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Recipe!

Sometimes cooking with a chef can be a bit frustrating.  I'm not talking about a critical eye cast on your knife skills or mise en place, or vague, not-really-compliments on the finished results.  No, Miss Chef has always been very good about letting me make my own mistakes, and very careful about only stepping in when I'm ready for help.  And there are a couple of dishes I make that she's perfectly content to leave in my charge, she enjoys them so much.  So cooking with her is generally fun and rewarding.

The problem with "cheffy" cooking is when I ask her for a recipe.

Oh, sure, chefs use recipes--at work.  But at home, a recipe consists mainly of ingredients and method.  As for the rest... 
Measurements?  "A bunch."  "Some."  "To taste."
Temperature?  Anywhere from "really low" to "rocket hot." 
And my favorite:  How long?  "'Til it's done."

One year, for my mother's birthday, I wanted to deliver a "kit" to make a squash gratin.  I still remember cornering Miss Chef in the kitchen, to wrench actual numbers from her and try to nail down something more specific than "I dunno, somewhere between 300 and 350 degrees."  My mother, being raised in a very German household, cooks by the numbers.  I knew a recipe that concluded with "...until it's done" wouldn't be a very good gift.

All of this is just a prelude to sharing a few dishes we've been having fun with over the past week.  I just want you to appreciate how unusual it is for me to have anything like a recipe to share with you!
~~~Φ~~~

Last Sunday, between a new issue of Cook's Illustrated, rewatching an old Good Eats episode, and Week 8 of Miss Chef's skills class, we were both in the mood for homemade fried chicken.  This has got to be one of my most favorite foods ever.  But I've only ever done oven-fried chicken, and I wanted to know how to do it for real.  All the way...I wanted to know how to go from this:

image found here

to this:

(This was my lunch for the next day...I was too busy eating to get a picture of dinner!)

I'm not going to give you a tutorial of breaking down a chicken...but you can go to the link below the first picture if you'd really like one!  Miss Chef very patiently coached me through the steps of removing wings, legs and breasts, placing each piece in a baking dish as they came off.  I can't say I'm ready to tackle another one on my own, but I think I could figure it out.  Hooray for hands-on learning!

The next step for our all-American Sunday Fried Chicken was a long soak in buttermilk.  The acid in it tenderizes the meat, and if you add salt or other seasonings it can draw them into the flesh as well.

We let the chicken marinate for two or three hours, then pulled it out and used Alton Brown's seasoning method.  He adds something like a rub mixture under the flour, to protect it from burning.  This is what I used:

2 tsp. garlic powder (not salt)
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
a bunch of fresh-ground black pepper

These amounts were more than enough; if you like more kick to your chicken (like, if you live in New Mexico and have a holiday involving chile roasting), you will want to add more spice, and make sure it's not a million years old like ours is!

Anyway, I very generously sprinkled both sides of the pieces with that mixture, dredged it in the flour and tapped off as much excess as possible.  In the meantime, Miss Chef had heated up some (canola) oil in our trusty iron skillet.  Alton says heat it to 350 degrees; Miss Chef does some magical thing dropping wisps of flour in.

Once the oil was hot enough, we fried the chicken about 12 minutes a side.  Alton loads it in very specifically: the smaller, faster-cooking breasts and drumsticks on the outside, thighs in the center.  With all that expert advice, this raw beginner managed to make some amazing fried chicken--moist and tender, just the way it should be.  I think the buttermilk helped a lot...and of course, so did Miss Chef.

~~~Φ~~~

If any of you have been paying close attention to the comments, you'll have noticed I seem to have picked up a stalker!  (Just kidding!)  Joanna of BooneDocks Wilcox posted a recipe for German potato salad a while ago, and I commented that my mother had a slightly different recipe.  And Joanna wants it!  Well, Joanna, I'm not sure it's what you were looking for--I think I had told you it didn't have mustard in it, and this one does.  I'm not even sure this is the recipe I was thinking of, because Mom wasn't sure she still had it.

However, this is from a 1960 Amish Country Cookbook, so it's gotta be somewhat authentic, right??  You'll notice the directions are pretty cut and dry!

HOT POTATO SALAD 
5 well-cooked potatoes
3 tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup celery, diced
2 tbsp. flour
2 onions, chopped fine
1/2 cup vinegar
2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup water
8 slices bacon
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
3 hard-boiled eggs

Cut potatoes as small as desired, slice eggs. Put in casserole. Add celery and onions. Cook bacon slowly until lightly brown or crisp. Add bacon to potatoes.

Mix mustard, sugar, flour, water, vinegar and 4 tablespoons bacon dripping and boil. Pour over potatoes. Put casserole where it will keep hot.
You'll notice that the author didn't have to specify the "German" in this recipe.  My favorite sentence: "Put in casserole."  Yes Ma'am!

Ok Joanna, I hope this satisfies your craving!  If not, there's also a recipe in there for potato pancakes...
~~~Φ~~~

Of course, I've saved dessert for last!  Miss Chef was just reading the May issue of Saveur (it takes her a while to get through her various food magazines), when a recipe for orange-scented olive-oil cake just reached out and grabbed her.  Every once in a while this happens while I'm not around, and the next thing I know, she's stocking up on ingredients, no matter how unusual or specific to the recipe.

She whipped this up Thursday night after dinner, and the entire house smelled indescribably delicious.  Which highlights the two reasons I felt compelled to share it with you: it's super easy and amazingly tasty.  Plus, there are no unusual ingredients to stock up on!



I wish you all could smell this baking; it's the most satisfying food odor ever.  Oh wait...yes, you can smell this!  Just head to this page, print out the recipe and get baking!  (Oh, and it only serves one, if your counter-surfing dog has anything to say about it.  Good thing our 9" cake pan was too small to hold it all, and we ended up with some extra little ones!)

Of course, Miss Chef has to go her own way with everything...she planned on using the water from the last simmering of the oranges to make the glaze...but then she tasted it.  And it somehow ended up in a glass on the rocks, with a generous splash of Grand Marnier, a soupçon of vodka and a couple of brandied cherries.  We still haven't named it, but it's a refreshing summer libation.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Making Other Plans

Didn't John Lennon say that's what life is?

It's been a week since I've written anything, mostly because "nothing's" going on.  No trips, no events, no crises.  I've had two quiet weekends in a row, and I'm starting to get a little too comfortable doing nothing.

I can blame part of it on the weather.  It seems like it's been in the high 90s, sunny and humid for about two months now.  There hasn't been quite enough rain, so even when one does force oneself outside, the plants and trees are looking desperate for help that can't be given.


Today, however, was different.  When I stepped outside the office, I couldn't restrain the "wow!" that welled up.  The air was cool and sweet, with a frequent breeze.  According to the radio, it was 81 degrees, but it felt more like 68!  That's how long it's been since I've felt a cool breeze.

"When I get home," I thought, "I'm gonna find something to do outside, just to be outside."  And once I changed and stood on the back patio with Rosie panting expectantly by my side, I thought...why work?  It'll just make me sweat, and ruin this cool weather.

So I sat, and pet the dog, and ignored the pleading garden.  And later, after dinner, Rosie and I went for our usual evening stroll.   This isn't nothing, this is lovely.  This is what I'll remember as The Good Ol' Days.

Hello Cody, how's it going?


Aren't we lucky to have this park?  It's sad how many residents of our development don't ever come here.  Oh well, more park for us!


When no other people, dogs, birds or moving objects are around, I can trust Rosie off the leash on this short part of the path, hemmed in by pond and trees.  (Well, I could...today, for the first time, she spotted something in the woods and took off after it.  *sigh*)



 
This is more her style.  I may call it "going for a walk," but she knows it's really about sniffing. 



Ok, where are the ducks?



Woods escapade or no, she knows to wait for me by the bridge, and stand quietly while I put the leash back on.  These are the good years: Rosie is young and healthy, but past the figure-it-out training stage.  We've got our routines down, and dogs loooove routine.



Mommy's little angel.



One last look at our peaceful park...




...and a beautiful end to another lovely boring day!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday Wanderings

Pet peeve time: warning, rant ahead! 


The other women in my department have all recently converted to a new belief system.  It is based on the writings found in a recently-discovered book, and as far as I can tell, it has something to do with the sin of belly fat, and the evil that is known as Carbs.

I haven't stopped to remember the title or learn the author's name, because I hate the whole concept of people turning to a Book to learn how to feed themselves.  Granted, this is some specific program for reducing belly fat in women (can you say marketing genius?), but as the saying goes, there is nothing new here under the sun!

For example, did you know that belly fat has been connected to higher rates of many forms of cancer?  Yes, I read that at least 15 years ago.

Did you know that carbs (evil, bad, horrible carbs!), not just sugar, are a factor in developing diabetes?  Yes, I believe I learned that about 20 years ago.

I try to hold my tongue when I hear all these women talking about grams of this and servings of that, what they're "allowed" to eat and what's "not allowed."  Every morning they quiz each other about what they had for dinner, what they've brought for lunch.  But when one stopped by my cubicle during my lunch break, while I was clearly deep into my novel, to lecture me about carbs, not sugar, causing diabetes, I nearly lost it.

Say it after me, folks: sugar IS a carbohydrate!

Ok, never mind, you don't have to repeat that.  I just had to get it out.  I think there are two major reasons this really pushes my buttons.  First, I was raised by two biochemists, who met while working at Rockefeller University, where they rubbed elbows with multiple Nobel Prize winners.  Not that that makes ME a Nobel-winning scientist, but I have science in my blood, as well as my brain.  I took advanced chemistry in high school and spent my first year in college as a zoology major.  So being lectured by someone with a degree in computer science who's only just now learning from a fad diet book about the link between carbs and health, and doesn't seem to know the terms "simple carb" and "complex carb," is particularly irritating.

Second, it just astounds me that, in the interest of eating healthier, these women are going out to buy the specifically-mentioned brands of artificial "all-natural" sweeteners mentioned permitted by The Book.  Really?  Filling your body with chemically re-mixed sugars is better than pure sucrose?  And spraying neon-yellow 0% trans-fat butter substitute on your whole-grain, chemically preserved English muffin is good for you?

Me, I sat there this morning spreading my locally made, preservative-free multigrain bread with my homemade jam, and ate it with my locally-grown hard-boiled egg.  'Cause, you know, carbs plus protein is the best way to fuel up for the day.  I probably looked a little piggy, 'cause I was stuffing my mouth to try to keep it too busy to talk while my coworkers spread the word about the evils of carbs.

Now I have to admit, I am being a bit hypocritical.  First, these women are not following this diet to the letter.  They recognize that there are extremes to which they will never hold themselves, so they are not being completely brainless.  And as for me, I am definitely overweight, nor do all of my meals boast all that great local, whole food I was just bragging about.  I did have a package of ramen noodles with my lunch. (Shhh, don't tell Miss Chef!)  But, in general, I'd rather be overweight and know what I'm putting into my body and why, rather than be thin following someone else's formula that encourages you to buy chemically-engineered "food."

My diet formula was developed by Michael Pollan: Eat  food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.

As I texted to another, non-dieting coworker, how did our ancestors ever manage to feed themselves without a bookful of directions?

~~~ φ~~~

Still...I sure could go for a nice cold Coke right now.   : )

~~~ φ~~~

Speaking of healthy and unhealthy food, did you hear about the giant egg recall?  (Not recalling giant eggs, just recalling a lot of regular-sized ones--sorry for any confusion).  Once again, a factory farm has sent contaminated food across the entire country, resulting in hundreds of thousands of packages being pulled off the shelf and no doubt tossed.

And once again, I rest secure in the knowledge that my eggs are safe, without even having to check brand names or lot numbers.  Because my eggs were hand-gathered by Elie and Levi Mullis, children of Dean and Jennifer, owners of Laughing Owl Farm.  I'm sure Jennifer would let us know if they had any problems, but chances of their free-range flock being contaminated are slim.

What do you picture when you think of where you eggs came from?  Me, I think of the market two weeks ago, when Jennifer just had to join in with the squash decorating kids.  She was pretty intense about it, but she can make a damn good squash girl, complete with flower-petal skirt.

Yeah, I'd trust her kids' eggs any day.

~~~ φ~~~

To balance my Food Superiority Rant above, I now have to confess that I've fallen off the exercise wagon.  It's not entirely my fault (it never is, is it?)  You see, the ankle I twisted in the rafting celebration of Miss Chef's birthday is still bothering me.  I was going to give it a few days off before I did yoga again, but that turned into a full week.

And then I was tired.  Work has been ridiculously slow!  Can you believe it??  After all those months of back-to-back jobs, I now spend half my work day trying to look busy.  And I'm learning that doing nothing creates its own kind of fatigue.  So, by the end of last week, my total lack of activity had landed me back in a not-so-great place.  It left me feeling tired, which makes me want to not do anything at all.

And then my Very Special Aunt came for a visit.  Ugh.

It's crazy how much an effect this lack of exercise has on me.  Now that I'm back to Lazyville, all kinds of stupid little chores are piling up, stressing me out and not getting done.  Phone calls I just don't want to make, chores I'll "do later," organizational stuff I just am not motivated to do.  If I were working two jobs still, it all would have been done last week.  But now it just lingers, from one day to the next.

But I'm fighting back.  I did pull out my yoga dvd today and do part of the workout.  Only about 20 mins, until my ankle started complaining, but it's a start.  And just knowing I started is a really good thing.

Oh, and another good thing I did for my health...finally visited my special Lady Doctor earlier this month, after 3 years.  And have made an appointment for my very first mammogram.  No, please, don't tell me what it's like, I'd like to remain blissfully ignorant for now!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Doldrums

After the excitement of last weekend, the week has passed by rather quietly.  The summer heat has finally stifled me, it would seem--or else it was whatever pollen and dander has been floating in the air.  Along with, of course, the humidity.

Regardless, the endless dry days of temperatures in the upper 90s are taking their toll, and not just on me.


Doesn't the garden look positively droopy?  To be fair, I snapped this about 6:00 at the end of another hot dry day.  If you look closely, you'll see some of the tomato plants are well on their way to dead, and I don't think it's simply the weather.  It could be a fungus, or just old age and general stress wearing them down.  Whatever the cause, they have done their duty well, and if they are a bit tired, who am I to think less of them?

The beans on the trellis, however, are another matter.  They are having a lovely time up there, enjoying regular visits from the mockingbirds who enjoy the vantage point to survey the yard...but they haven't produced squat.  Everyone I've shared garden gossip with this year has told me the same thing: the beans and squash will not fruit.  We are doing well in that our beans are at least flowering--for all the good it's doing.  Still, I know that the roots are adding vital nitrogen to our soil, so I will let them enjoy their unearned vacation!


I should have taken a photo earlier of our cayennes and jalepenos.  Earlier this week I harvested at least half of the ripe peppers from these bushes.  There was so much red it looked like Christmas had come early!  We have very little use for these, as I am a grand wimp in the spice category, but Miss Chef just enjoys growing them.  Fortunately, one of my co-workers has actually become known as Hot Sauce around the office due to his love of spice, so he was quite happy to take my half-harvest for making pepper vinegar.  More power to him!

And here's a closeup of our sad tomatoes...

I have to confess, they've been suffering from neglect.  They should have been tied up again, and a couple of the stakes have bent or broken.  But I'm so tomatoed out, and it's been so uncomfortable out, I haven't been able to bring myself to care enough to do something about it!

However, not everything is dead or dying!  The unmonitored basil has gone happily along on its own, putting out flavorful foliage and pretty flowers, much to this fellow's delight.


Look at that greedy little guy (or gal, rather), face full into the nectar cup.  Honestly, such manners!  Still, I must graciously thank this bee for more or less ignoring me while I hovered overhead trying to get my best snap.  (That bright blue background is the side of our inflatable pool--which come to think of it, is also kind of droopy.)

Meanwhile, Rosie was enjoying her new fence.


She has recently discovered something living under the neighbor's deck, and now spends hours at a time keeping watch.  Dog tv; no monthly fee!

There is one amazing gardening success that happened right under our noses!  This is the front entrance walkway to the house.  Notice the variety of contrasting foliage.

Those spiky plants in the front are actually lemongrass!  Miss Chef, as ever curious about unusual ingredients that we can grow ourselves, bought a few plants during a late-spring herb binge.  Her herb garden, and my vegetable garden, were both already full, so she stuck them in here.  (I haven't been able to get any perennials to take root here, so it's become our test nursery--last year we had yellow bell peppers here.)

It's a good thing she didn't try to stuff these into her herb garden, because the center plant alone is just about as big as that entire bed!  The only failure here is our failure to actually use a single bit of these plants.  The one or two times I might have had need of their flavor I had completely forgotten their existence.

Since these are not perennials, we'll have to dry some to experiment with.  (Hmmm....sounds like a good prize for a giveaway, don't you think?)

And, finally, an unexpected shot of something I'm quite happy about!


The city of Charlotte has recently expanded its curbside recycling program.  Every home in the city received one of these bins to replace the old red square ones we used to carry to the curb.  There has been a lot of grumbling in the paper and online, partly because they also completely changed the pickup schedules for both trash and recycling.  And of course, there are always those who resent any government interference in their lives and think that recycling is some kind of liberal conspiracy against personal freedom (insert eye-roll). 

However, since these parallel so easily with the pre-existing trash bins, I have been thrilled to notice that a huge majority of our neighborhood is dutifully rolling these to the curb every other week!  Which means less in the landfills, regardless of anyone's political leanings.  And I've also enjoyed the fact that we don't have to juggle an overflowing red bin down to the street anymore.

Oh, and since the two bins are so similar in size, I can now say that Miss Chef and I recycle as much as we toss.  Which makes me very happy.

What's making you happy these days?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Market, Machine, Madness

Hello there, dear blog friends.  I have missed you, as I've been off having adventures this weekend.  I'll try not to be too long-winded, as the best part is the last, and I wouldn't want to tire you before then.

For our market fans...I once again was roped into volunteered at the Matthews Community Farmers' Market.  Saturday was the kids' vegetable art day.  They are provided with whatever weird, overgrown or generally odd produce the vendors have to offer, and let their imaginations run wild!



As you can see, squash was one of the major building blocks.  My job was to stand around and inform the adults that the non-existent zucchini was not for sale.  Oh, and to make sure the knives were always in safe hands, preferably ours.  Yeah, that was important; good thing there was another volunteer there!  Fortunately, the kids needed very little direction, because I was pretty much just good for standing around blearily sweating.

Here's a display of some of the early creations.



And this fellow amused me:


He was actually much happier about his mohawked, potato-eared creation than he's letting on.  Perhaps he was confused by my bleariness.

And, while this youngster didn't actually create anything, she was certainly willing to try.


Ok, I confess, I just had to put this in because she was so darn cute!!  Can you blame me?

So, Part II of our title today is The Machine.  Our new washer.  Which spins at something around 1200 rpm, and sounds like a jet engine.  Well, a muffled jet engine.  And, even at that speed, remains much more stable than our "old" machine.  I ran three loads through that sucker Saturday afternoon, clearing out about half of our 10-day laundry pileup.


Besides its enormous capacity, there are two silly things I'm enjoying about this machine.  First is the sparkly LED lights around the knob on the right.  Oooo, shiny!  Second is the clear glass lid.  How fun is it to watch your clothes spinning around in the Gravitron?  Pretty cool, for about five minutes.  Then it can give you a headache, and make the dog worry about your sanity.  Too bad we don't have a cat, eh?  They'd understand.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not here touting this machine--just enjoying our new toy.  As far as I can tell, though, there's really only one little engineering tweak remaining to make this thing perfect.  The clothes still come out of the dryer unfolded.  Can't they do something about that?  (I mean, other than kicking me off of blogger to go fold the laundry that's been sitting in the bedroom since Saturday.)

Ok, so are you ready for some madness?  And maybe then you'll understand why the clothes never got folded!

First, you'll have to know, it was Miss Chef's birthday this weekend.  And it was one of those important ones that end in 0.  (No I'm not going to tell you which one; it's not my birthday!)

Of course, Chef Adam made her a cake and invited me to come join the staff after service to sing happy birthday and chow down.  At 10:30 at night.  But you know, there's no wrong time for chocolate cake!

That's not the madness part, though.  That came the next day.  Our friends arrived to pick us up at a perfectly sane 11:30 in the morning.  But don't be fooled; we were headed to the US National Whitewater Center!



Aw, isn't it pretty?  Yeah, but we weren't there for sightseeing!

video

That is not us.  If you want to see some pics that are of us, taken by the Whitewater Center, go to this gallery.  Our pictures are numbers 1544, 1545, 1569 and 1570.  They are rather boring, so I won't be at all insulted if you spend some time browsing the other, more dramatic photos in the gallery.  (Go ahead, I'll wait here for you.)

Contrary to the evidence presented, we did get swamped by water, and we did get bounced around.  In fact, if you'll notice in #1570, I look rather short.  That's because I got bounced over and down into the floor of the raft, from which position it is rather difficult to recover without letting go of the t-grip end of the paddle (important rule), and while the raft continues to bounce on down the rapids, spattering you unpredictably with facefuls of water.

Not that I'm complaining.

Actually, our guide Trey took really good care of us.  I'd informed him at the outset that this was my first rafting experience and I was a little nervous.  So I think he was a bit easy on us (sorry, Miss Chef).  Still, we did get to experience something called surfing, when the raft gets stuck between the downhill and uphill sides of a drop and just sort of...hangs out down there.  In its own unique, wet and unpredictably bouncy way.  Trey informed us afterwards that this boat was not the one he'd firmly inflated that morning, and declared it "noodley."  Which I will feel free to translate here as "more bouncier."

Later, on the competition side, we got stuck in the Toilet Bowl.  That was a large eddy to the side of the only Class IV rapid on the course, which just turns you around in circles and can be difficult to get out of.

Did I mention that raft guides have an odd, but very enjoyable sense of humor?

So the actual rafting lasted about an hour, including four trips down the two sides of the current.  After hitting the calm water in the center, there is no need to portage your way to the next rapids.  No, you simply take the conveyer belt back up to the top!


Whee!  Reminds me of riding the log flume up at Geauga Lake, but with a very different ride down.

Fortunately for me--and Miss Chef--we all remained in the raft.  Which means that I'm quite willing and eager to go back and try it again!  We are so incredibly lucky to have this world-class facility within 20 minutes of our front door.  This is the place where various US Olympic kayak teams train and qualify.  And it's open to the public!  There's lots more to do there, too: mountain biking, geocaching (rather tame), flatwater kayaking, plain ol' hiking, rock climbing and a zip-line that takes you right over the whitewater.

We opted instead for lunch at the restaurant.  Well, we did hike around a little, checked out the flatwater kayaking dock, found a couple of geocaches (only one of which we were actually looking for), but I had twisted my ankle in the raft and wasn't terribly comfortable.  So we headed back out without trying any of the other activities on our collective wish list.

That's ok--I'm pretty darn sure there will be a next time.

And last night I figured out a season AllSport pass pays for itself after only three visits!  Hmmm....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tuesday Tidbits


It's not Friday, but I feel like doing a fragmented post today.  Lots of little stuff keeping me busy!

~~~ Φ ~~~

Last Thursday night, Miss Chef and I enjoyed our one weeknight together, going out to a restaurant and relaxing at home.  Around 9:00, I remembered I'd wanted to get a load of wash going.  We were still lounging around the living room an hour or so later, when I remembered the load and got up to go put the clothes in the dryer.

When I lifted the lid, I found myself staring at a washer full of dirty water and wet clothes.  Ignorant of the doom that had just befallen us, I advanced the dial to the next section where the machine kicked into action, and left it merrily agitating away. 

A little while later, I saw Miss Chef cocking her head, looking like she needed to expel something.  "I was listening for the washer," she explained, "but I don't hear it."

So after some more clickety-clacketing around the washer dial, we finally accepted what I'm sure the rest of you have been hollering at your screen: it's broken!  And of course, it was full of Miss Chef's jackets and work pants.  That she needed.  For work.  Both works.

The next day after work, I hauled the clothes out, rinsed them--three times!--in the bathtub, and wringed them (wrung them? wrangled them?) by hand.  Lemme tell you, I have a new appreciation for the expressions wringing wet, sopping wet and soaking wet.

 I also would like to go back in time and see the incredibly muscled arms and hands washerwomen must have had a century or two ago.  As a co-worker remarked, "Yeah, and the kids back then didn't act up, 'cause when they got smacked, they felt it!"

I guess I should be thankful that it's summer, and that it hasn't been raining too much, so that I've been able to hang my poorly wrung clothes in the sun to drip out, before tossing them in the dryer.  But I'm mostly thankful that Miss Chef got her first paycheck from the school two days after the washer broke.  Because our new washer will be delivered this Saturday.

~~~ Φ ~~~

Speaking of working those muscles, I'm very proud of myself for keeping up, more or less, with my new exercise plan.  I've dropped tai chi, as it just doesn't make sense to me from just watching the dvd.  Instead, I found another yoga dvd that Miss Chef had bought herself and didn't like.  It took me a few tries, but I've adapted to this new "instructor," and have actually found myself enjoying it!

I haven't been totally disciplined about my program.  I originally planned to do it twice a week, Mondays and Wednesdays.  Or maybe Mondays and Fridays.  Or maybe just Monday...or, um, Tuesday, 'cause Monday I had to hand-wash some, erm, important items.

Still, I think I've managed to do the whole workout once a week.  Not bad, for an otherwise total slacker!  And it's quite a workout too.  The dvd player shows an hour and ten minutes at the end, but there's a good five or ten minutes of blah-blah at the beginning, and of course the last ten or fifteen minutes or so is dedicated to my favorite pose, and a big part of the reason I like yoga: corpse pose. 

Ok, call it relaxation pose.   Either way, you lie on the floor, your body thrumming with heightened circulation and breathing, and you let the instructor's voice lead you through step-by-step relaxation.  You're too jazzed to fall asleep, but by the time you're done, you're relaxed and alert.  Ready to take on a whole load of laundry!  Or not.  I walked the dog instead.  But I did it with vigor, dammit.

~~~ Φ ~~~

Speaking of my darling Rosie, she was the subject of a phone call I got yesterday.  Miss Chef had the morning off, preparing for classes and generally getting ready for her busy week.  Sometime after lunch, I was surprised to see her number come up on my office phone.

"I just had to tell you what I caught Rosie doing."  Uh oh.

Miss Chef had let the dog out in our (newly-fenced) yard, and was a little surprised a few minutes later that she couldn't see her.  Rosie's a homebody, and likes to stick close to the door in case we want to let her in again, maybe for a belly rub.  Or to lick a plate.  Or both.  Whatever.

Anyway, Miss Chef finally spotted our fluffy one, smack in the middle of the garden!  She thought maybe a rabbit had been in there, and Rosie was simply following the scent trail.

But instead of a rabbit, Rosie reached up and grabbed a tomato!  Right off the plant!  Then she trotted happily off with her new snack.

Miss Chef said she had to laugh for a good two or three minutes before calling Rosie over and getting the tomato away from her.  Of course, Rosie didn't understand why.

I'll tell you why, Miss Rose.  You pull a few weeds, chase a few rabbits, and then we'll talk.  'Til then, stick to the cherry tomatoes, ok?

Update, Wednesday evening:  I was outside harvesting more tomatoes tonight, and noticed Rosie sniffing long and hard at a low-hanging, very green tomato.  She eventually decided she didn't want it.  Perhaps she was judging how long until it would be ripe?  To keep her happy, I shared a few split cherry tomatoes.  Somehow, I don't think that will satisfy her.  We may have created a monster.