Rants and Riffs Installment #16: Dogs as therapy. Pie too.

  1. Okay, I admit it…on my DVR, I still have 40 minutes of Hallmark’s A Happy and Friends Yule Log. Gotta say, it’s nice to watch cavorting puppies and kittens to break from the daily chaos and mayhem…and I’m just talking about my latest forays in the kitchen. Such as…

sunshine squash pieRecipe at bottom of post

2. Could someone please tell me where the TV remote is? I know, I know, one of you out there is going to snark that I’d track it better if I didn’t mindlessly pop it in my pocket and drop it off, say, in the garage.

3. I  know, I know…snark is a noun. Language snobs notwithstanding, it works just as well as a verb.

4. Shouldn’t there be holsters for TV remotes?

5. And finally, here’s a very useful and interesting language website that answers the age-old teacher question of, ‘How is that word used in a sentence?’.sentencedict.com


Sunshine Squash Pie

I picked up this recipe from denisonfarms.com, our CSA supplier.

Squash Pie

Sunshine squash makes excellent “pumpkin” pie. This recipe comes from the 1975 edition Joy of Cooking:

1. Line a pie pan with pie dough.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

3. Mix until well blended:

  • 2 cups cooked, mashed squash (see newsletter week 20 for instructions to bake squash)
  • 1 1/2 cups undiluted evaporated milk or rich cream (or coconut milk for dairy-free)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar & 1/2 cup white sugar (I usually reduce the sugar, since squash is sweeter than pumpkin)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt,
  • 1 tsp cinnamon,
  • 1/2 tsp dried ginger (or 1 tsp grated fresh ginger),
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg,
  • 1/8 tsp cloves,
  • 2 slightly beaten eggs

4. Pour mixture into pie shell.

5. Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 45 min. longer.

[Notes from TH: Blind baking the crust worked out pretty well for me. I also add lots more spice than recipe calls for.]

Rants and Riffs Installment #15: Leaf blowers and bloviators…

a man in despair with head in hand1. Leaf blowers…the scourge of Western civilization.

2. On a similar note…I hear these bubbleheads/celebrities/semi-celebrities with the cash to buy radio time to spout their views of the world order [or disorder—take your pick]. Lately, I’ve caught myself telling them to just shut up…and it doesn’t even seem to matter whether I agree with them or disagree with them. Huh…go figure. I think I’m just tired of all the noise. [Unless, of course, it’s legit noise from cranky pantses vilifying leaf blowers.]

3. Why don’t presenters armed with PowerPoints and expert knowledge take a couple of minutes to learn how to zoom their projector’s image so the audience can actually see what the laser pointer is aimed at?

Rants and Riffs Installment #14: In these tumultuous times, ready to take a stand…

1. I realize with the fevered divisions in our society today, this might be off-putting, but I’m sorry. It’s time…

Marzipan? Bleeaack!    **        ***

baby crying
I mean it! That faux-almond flavor is distressing to the nth degree!

2. Trying to decide if it’s worth changing my Medicare Part D coverage.

Something tells me the time I’ve spent reviewing options has cost me more in ‘life currency’ than the couple of bucks I might save on Medicare monthly premiums for the upcoming ‘season’. [It does feel a bit like open season on us doddering old 65-year-olds.]

I mean, I could be watching a Hallmark Christmas rerun in the time I’ve crafted this verbal masterpiece…

3. I guess I’m wrong, but it seems that Amazon could at least cover my tax bill for this year. The accountants think otherwise.


** Ditto spaghetti squash

*** Double-ditto sea urchin. Haven’t tried it, but I’ve seen those things inverted during my years at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and I’m sorry, I’d eat spaghetti squash enveloped in marzipan before dining on that poor invertebrate. [And, might I add that some people eat them with a raw quail egg. Quadruple gag!]

Rants and Riffs Installment #13: Not-so volumizing shampoo, having an eco-conscience…

megaphone

1. Yep, still waiting for that volumizing shampoo to take effect. Meanwhile, the marked retreat of the scalp line continues, unabated. Damnable Proctor & Gamble!

2, Meanwhile, in the kitchen…measuring spoons on a ring…such an annoyance. You use one, you have to wash all five. Simply takes the joy out of life. [Okay, slight exaggeration.]

3. Food shopping…not so fun anymore…

Great deal on hummus! Yes! I grab two. And then the voices kick in… “So, what’re you gonna do with that container when you’re done?” Visions of Everest-level landfills pop into my head [with an occasional appearance by that drifting island of trash in the mid-Pacific]. I put the hummus back and trudge forward.

Rants and Riffs Installment #12: Greeting cards, too-early calendars, and cable companies

infant ranting
Greeting card makers…since when did your product need that glued-down third ‘page’? The minute I pull a card from the case and feel that extra heft, I know that baby’s going to cost an extra buck.

Moving on…
A curious question from a snail mail donation plea…”How are you enjoying our 2020 calendar?” It’s September of 2019! Why would I have a calendar out three months ahead of time? And really, enjoying a calendar?

And finally…
Cable companies forcing you into ‘bundles’. All I want is fast Internet access! No, I do not want Keeping Up with the Kardashians, meaningless statistics spewed by sports networks, or some poor mosquito-bitten shlub relying on a palm frond [if we’re lucky] for warmth.

 

Not writing? I’ll blame anybody.

I directed one of my morning pages blaming others for my not writing.

Sooo satisfying…

For starters, I blamed Hilary Mantel, who said,

“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie exclamations

, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.” [The Guardian, 25 February 2010]

One small segment of her message seemed to resonate…

I repeat…all her fault.

And I blame Trader Joe’s who is selling organic strawberries for $2.50 a pound. Let’s face it, most of those gorgeous ones in the supermarket have very little flavor and considering they are one of the dirty dozen, well, that doesn’t help in the ‘appeal’ category.

But back to my relentless search for scapegoats…let’s see…yes! Sam Merritt’s to blame for serving up this winning recipe for strawberry cream cheese pie.

strawberry cream pie with dog lying nearby
Always good to have a member of the quality control team nearby

My only complaint: “Return to refrigerator and allow to set at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) before slicing and serving.”

Okay, in what world do people actually wait that long?

 

Rants and Riffs Installment #9: Thoughts while eating za’atar popcorn…

popcorn seasoned with za'atar

I wonder if the result is better if I sprinkled the za’atar in warmed olive oil to allow the seasonings to bloom…Worth trying the next time out. I know readers are riveted.

***

By the way, my favorite popcorn maker is this easy-to-clean Likue [sounds Hawaiian, doesn’t it?] brand of microwave popper. [BTW: Not an affiliate link.] Drop in the butter [I use olive oil.] and about a quarter cup of popcorn. My microwave’s ideal settings are: Two minutes on high. I don’t use the ‘popcorn’ setting. Bit of advice: Start tuning in at about the 1:50 mark. If corn is still popping at faster than ‘pop per one second’, let’er run. If the pops are less frequent ‘shut’er down’. [Geez, that whole rural twangy terminology gives me such a rush.]

***

Answer me this: Why in the name of Arnold Palmer do I even listen to the Dennis Silvers’ Golf Minute? Maybe I’m just a captive audience between segments of other stuff, but really, what part of ‘positioning your club face’ keeps me listening? I haven’t picked up a club in over 40 years.
Note: I’m still haunted by a psyche-scarring event when I was 11 years old. I scuffed a drive over to an adjacent putting green and it found a woman’s left calf. She was writhing in agony. I guess I too have been writhing ever since. [Pssst…probably not. Small comfort>>My ill-targeted shot bounced at least five times before making contact. Still, it does cross my mind whenever I revisit the idea of my hitting the links.] Okay, confession is over. Not sure if my penance has ended, however…I guess St. Peter will let me know…assuming I’m sent to the ‘escalator-up’ line.

***

escalator
I’m not exactly comfortable with the deep red glow. I’d be hoping for a relaxing azure blue…

And yes…now you’re all wondering…what about our post-mortem transport mode? If we’re directed toward an up-escalator, is that sometimes painfully deliberate climb the equivalent of ‘purgatory’? As opposed to a high speed ‘blink-and-you’re-there’ up-elevator? And is there music involved? And is TSA involved at any point in our journey? Gotta tell ya, if I’m issued one of those flowing robes, I’m not cottoning to any security frisk.

Rants and Riffs: Installment #7–Bobbleheads, dandelions, and…and…attention span

Bobble head doll of Charles Darwin
Not sure what his lifetime batting average was…

Bobblehead dolls…please. 40,000 of them on a given night at a major league ballpark.

And often to commemorate a player of marginal ability. [Not daring to use names here.]

If those petroleum-based cluttermeisters even make it home, they’re headed straight to the closet and/or the landfill.

Question 1: What is the half-life of a bobblehead doll of a shortstop who batted .234 lifetime?  450-800 years

Question 2: What does the guy’s batting average have to do with degradation of plastic?

Answer: Nothing. Nothing at all.


girl in field of dandelions
Worn down by the taunts and jeers

Topic: Dandelions. Fellow gardeners…or at least, those of us doing mindless grunt work with hoe and shovel…don’t you think dandelions simply mock us?

The big ones—”Neaner, neaner, neeeeaner! You’re oblivious and I’m huuuuge!”

The small ones—”We’re baaaaack!”


lawn mowing strategy

Topic: Clear sign of a vanishing attention span—my lawn mowing has regressed to ‘forward-and-back-in-one-5′ x 5′ square at a time’. Anything beyond that, all bets are off.


Hey, we’re all in this together [whatever ‘this’ is]. Any frustrations niggling at you? Share them below.