Food & Cooking

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Strawberry Cake

I've had this strawberry cake fixation today. My students are doing presentations on Wednesday, the last day of class, and last night I had a typical anxiety dream. In the dream, I was on my way to campus to attend their presentations, and I was overcome with a craving for strawberry cake. All of a sudden I was transported to Florence (AL, my hometown), to Seven Points Shopping Center, which in real life is an unremarkable, even rundown place; in the dream, though, it was baroque, almost like the set of Moulin Rouge. There were nightclubs as well as stores. There was this bridal shop so many stories tall that I had to bend my neck way back to see the top, at which there was a sign that said, "STRAWBERRY WEDDING CAKE." Then it had a picture of the enormous pink cake. I counted the twenty tiers slowly, enthralled. Then I snapped out of it and thought, "well, I'm not getting married, so they wouldn't let me have that cake."

So I continued walking around the shopping center and went into an area that was kind of like a little festival, with dancing and booths where art and jewelry were being sold. They had one booth that had tea and strawberry cupcakes. They weren't fancy, just cake from a mix:

But they were fresh and delicious, and I was ecstatic. I devoured several cupcakes, eating each one in two bites. Then I saw three people I know, all of whom are friendly acquaintances, but I didn't want to get stuck in a conversation with them just then. I tried to dodge them, but they spotted me. At that time I realized I was missing my students' presentations and freaked out. I ended up having to talk to those people for a little while, and by the time I finally got to the classroom, everyone was gone.

Best soup ever

Pretty hearty soup, huh? It's the best I've ever made. Oven-roasted chicken (thigh meat), roasted garlic, diced tomatoes, pinto beans, steamed baby carrots, chicken broth, and brown rice pasta noodles, seasoned with cayenne pepper and Cavender's Greek seasoning. It's filling and delicious, like somebody's grandmother made it. I am, of course, going to freeze it in containers, and maybe next time I eat it, I'll make some cornbread. Perhaps on Wednesday when Jonathan gets here. I'm excited!

Comfort food

I'm down with OPP

Read Jodi Egerton's birth story. So beautiful and touching. [UPDATE: Or just go to her main page and scroll down to "Birthing Arden." I don't know why the permalinks aren't working.]

Soon it might be legal to hunt cats in Wisconsin, as it's apparently been in Minnesota for "decades." (Via Mike.)

The morning-after pill will soon be available over the counter in Canada.

I'm thinking about getting this program Jeff recommends. [UPDATE: I realized I can download it free of charge, so I did, and I played around with it. I love it!]

Eugene Volokh discusses quotation marks used with other punctuation. No response yet from Ben Wolfson.

Don't miss Media Girl's Earth Day post.

You might notice that I've added my OCB buddy Rachel Raimist's blog to my blogroll. Definitely check it out. I think it would be a great addition to the blogroll at; I point that out because Tiffany was asking for suggestions of good blogs to add not too long ago.

Songs I've had in my head recurringly throughout the day: "Red Skies" by The Fixx -- better than "One Thing Leads to Another," I guess -- and "Mediate" by INXS.

Quick Question

Still on hiatus, but: Do you think a woman might have written this article differently? Less (no pun intended) unctuously, so that it didn't smack of a penance/redemption quality? Or am I being too sensitive a reader here? I am a big Delta Burke/Designing Women fan. Snippets from the article:

But the uppers stopped working. The pounds piled on. And she began a journey - well ahead of Kirstie Alley's - into obesity, humiliation, self-acceptance and image adjustment. Ms. Burke was a very fat actress.

[. . .]

She recalled how keenly she envied less hefty peers, Ms. Alley among them.

[. . .]

She looks a bit chubby, unequivocally pretty and entirely real.

[. . .]

When the cable television series "Queer as Folk" made its debut in 2000, Sharon Gless was barely recognizable as the onetime pixieish star of "Cagney & Lacey." In the current Broadway revival of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Kathleen Turner cuts a much less svelte figure than she did in the movie "Body Heat."

[. . .]

But old vanities die hard, and she talked about her body and her bulges without all that much prodding.

Can't Get Enough Parenchyma/April Fool's Regrets

I've been consuming a lot of starchy fruits and vegetables lately. Today, for example, I've had two bananas, two Pink Lady apples, a baked potato, and a ton of steamed sugar snap peas. I have one more apple, one more potato, and three more bananas left, and I'm eyeing them artfully. What's the matter with me? What sort of vitamin or mineral deficiency could possibly account for this?

On an unrelated note, I'm sorry to say I didn't play an April fool's prank on my students. Instead, I just told them about two pranks I was thinking about playing on them, but was too lazy to follow through. You know that Internet Anagram Server? I was thinking about putting all the students' names through it, coming up with choice anagrams, and creating a roll sheet with the anagrams instead of their names. After I decided it would be too much trouble to do that with forty-one students' names, I was going to rummage through some of the CDs I have in my office and select one they might find really annoying, perhaps something by Enya, bring it into the classroom along with a CD player, and be all deadpan (like I'd be able to do that) and say, "Okay, everyone, we're going to listen to Enya's 'Orinoco Flow (Sail Away).' And as you listen to it, think about what Enya's purpose is. What is she trying to do rhetorically?"

Yeah...laziness probably served me well in this case.

Maybe not *that* spicy.

There's this wonderful little hole-in-the-wall (and cheap!) Thai restaurant catty-corner from my hotel from which I've been ordering take-out. I just had a seafood salad from there, and when asked if I wanted it spicy or not, I enthusiastically said, "Spicy!"

Compared to a lot of people, I've got a high threshold for hot and spicy foods, but right now I feel like my lips are about to fall off and my nasal septum will surely disintegrate.

UPDATE, several hours later: I needn't have worried about the spiciness, but rather the seafood itself. During dinner tonight with some great people whose company I really wanted to enjoy unfettered, I can only surmise that I experienced the onset of food poisoning, of which I'm in the throes now. I had to walk a mile in the rain back to my hotel room in misery. Now I'm going to lie down in the fetal position and watch cartoons.


I'm a busy gal right now...working on my CCCC presentation, a couple of other projects that demand my attention right now but that I hope to put to bed tomorrow, and some domestic tasks, including laundry and lots of cooking meals to freeze in individual portions. For one of my projects, I've been doing reading about women and wikis and women in open source development communities. Here are some links I've collected so far; if you (esp. Heather, Sam, and Shelley) have some more, I'd love to have them.

Women and Wikis


Women in Open Source Development Communities

HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux (by Val Henson, and the more I read about her, the cooler I think she is.)
Women in Open Source
Debian Women wiki
Interview with Deb Richardson, founder of LinuxChix
Building and Maintaining an International Volunteer Linux Community (PDF)
LinuxChix Live

Soup in Mass Quantities

I've learned that it's best to surrender to the urge to cook, ride it out, and not feel bad that I'm not doing other work instead. In a book I read a while back, the author, David Allen, claimed that "work" consists of anything in our lives that we want to change from the way it is now to something different. If we want our clothes to go from dirty to clean, that's work, just as grading papers or writing article manuscripts is. So cooking is work that, if done now, will save me time another day (and probably will save money too), and it's soothing to boot. My freezer now looks like my grandmother's deep freeze, full of sour cream containers and peanut butter jars of soup, both perfect bringing-lunch-to-school portions.

The first soup I made was from a recipe I've had my eye on for a while from The Steinbeck House Cookbook:

Leek and Tomato Soup

2 leeks, including some of the green part, chopped and washed well
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
4 c. chicken stock or canned broth
2 c. canned beef broth
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and white pepper

In a kettle, cook the leeks in butter over moderately low heat, stirring for 5 minutes or until softened. Add tomatoes and cook the vegetables for 1 minute. Add the stock and the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer it for 10 minutes. Add the basil and salt and white pepper to taste. Serves 8.

Now someday I'll make the soup the right way, but for now I'm too poor and lazy. I did chop up three fresh tomatoes, but didn't peel them or remove the seeds. While I love basil, I couldn't bring myself to buy a package of pricey fresh basil just for 1/4 cup; instead, I used a can of crushed tomatoes with basil. And I didn't buy white pepper. The soup was delicious anyway, and I'll be eating the frozen portions for a while.

I also wanted to make a heartier soup using carrots, potatoes, and onion. After I finished the leek and tomato soup, I boiled carrots, then put in the potatoes, then the onion. I didn't use much water so that I'd have a good water-to-vegetables ratio and wouldn't have to strain the vegetables. After the carrots, potatoes, and onion softened, I added chicken broth, beef broth, a can of kidney beans, a can of diced tomatoes, some red pepper flakes, and a little Cavender's Greek seasoning. Also delicious.

I find myself in a kind of trance while cooking, and I love the feeling. It reminds me of when I was more heavily into photography and spending a lot of time in the darkroom. I'd develop film and make prints for hours, thinking, but not having any verbal thoughts.

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