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Monday Musings: 05.05.2014 Edition May 5, 2014

Posted by Toy Lady in Food, Giveaway, meal plan monday, mirth & woe, Musings, random stuff.
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I trust everyone out there in Computer Land enjoyed a nice weekend!  This was a market week for us, and boy, was it nice to just get out and do a little outside shopping!  It’s still a little early in the season for anything really “fresh” – with the exception of ramps (yay!) and, of course, eggs, but we’re still happy to enjoy some of the last of the fall’s winter crops – before long, the fingerling potatoes will be making way for new potatoes, and the broccoli will yield  to asparagus and peas.

I’ve got to admit – I’ll be mighty glad to see some new onions!  It’s so hard to buy onions right now – anything that’s local has been stored all winter and wants to either sprout or rot – or both!

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You know, the crazy thing about Rochester is that the sun comes out, and people just start going nuts!  You would not BELIEVE the number of vendors at the market with plants this week!  I mean, it’s great to see, but really, nobody really believes they can put tomatoes in yet, do they?

Sure, you can bring them home and put them in a sunny window, but . . . well, I guess it’s a reminder that YES SPRING IS REALLY COMING!

And I’ll admit – I succumbed to the siren song of a couple of fresh rosemary plants.  And since there was a discount when I bought four plants, well, I was thinking about replacing some sage and some thyme this year anyway. . .

Spring truly is here!

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Speaking of spring . . . remember a couple of weeks ago (the last time we had a sunny weekend) when I planted peas?

That’s right, they’re UP and even growing!  How awesome is that?  (I need to get a fence up for them, though – soon!)  Almost before we know it, we’ll be planning stir-fry with my very own snow peas for dinner!

Oh, and just beyond the snow peas?  That’s my garlic – how awesome is THAT?  I planted extra last fall with the intention of pulling some very young as “green garlic” – I’m not sure exactly when to pull it, so I guess I’ll take my cue from the public market – when I see it there, I’ll come home and pull a bulb or two and see what I get.

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.  We’re just starting to see some warmer temperatures here, though we’ve still got a bit of off-and-on rain going on.  So we work around it, right?  This week, our menu is sort of looking like a world tour. . .

Monday –  Given that it’s Cinco de Mayo, we couldn’t miss a ready-made opportunity to enjoy some tacos!  I’ll be the first to admit – I don’t think we’ll ever go back the ground-beef-and-taco-mix tacos again.  Carnitas are just so good – and easy too!

Tuesday – Two things happened this weekend – we made some Italian sausage, and I picked up a nice bunch of rapini at the public market.  Put those things together, and, well, our world tour continue in Southern Italy.  Initially I’d planned to do the basic pasta, sausage and broccoli rabe dish that we definitely like.  Then I said to myself, “self, why not mix it up a little?” and I think maybe we’ll try something like this rapini and polenta dish.

Wednesday – And off we head to Morocco – sort of.  We’re finally going to see a sunny, not-cold evening, which means we’re firing up the grill!  I’ve got some chicken marinating with oregano, cinnamon and paprika – I think we’ll serve some cousous on the side, along with a veggie of some sort – probably broccoli.

Thursday – Minimal Effort Thursday will bring us to India – I’ve been intrigued by this spicy chick pea and sour tomato curry since I first saw the recipe!  This qualifies for our Minimal Effort Thursday – I made the curry ahead of time, and the “simmering” step will coincide with Thursday’s “reheating” – how clever is that?  I hope we like it – we always have everything on hand for it – except tamarind concentrate.  Does anyone know WHERE one would find tamarind concentrate?  I finally ended up ordering it from Amazon, so I’ve got it now, but still.  I’m also not completely sold on the pasta idea – do they actually use pasta in India?

Friday – And so Friday brings us back to Italy (or New Jersey, anyway) for pizza night!  I mentioned above that we made some Italian sausage over the weekend – guess what’s topping our pies this week?  That’s right – homemade sausage!

Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.

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Monday Musings: 04.07.2014 Edition April 7, 2014

Posted by Toy Lady in mirth & woe, Musings.
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Well, another market week has come and gone.

We only visit the public market every two weeks – it’s just easier that way for us, I guess.  What I typically do is keep all the $1 and $5 bills I accumulate during that two weeks, and that’s what we spend.  It helps keep us from spending too much AND it doesn’t force the vendors to have to make change for us.

So anyway, it seems that, the more available cash we have on hand, the more stuff we find we “need” – have you noticed that?

Though really, citrus season is almost over – I DID need to stock up on grapefruits and oranges, and it just won’t do to let the kitty run out of her favorite treats, will  it?

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There was a lady there who was selling Ukranian hand-painted eggs.

We talked to her for a few minutes, and found out that she BLOWS THE EGGS, stains them, etches the pattern on them (using some sort of machine) and then paints it by hand.

Wow, huh?

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Now that the snow has finally melted (for real this time) (knock on wood), I got out to the garden to see if any of last year’s kale was worth harvesting.

Last year, we ended up pulling the remainder during a mid-winter thaw.  We didn’t get that this winter, unfortunately.   The best we got was when I could actually look out the window and see the kale bushes sticking out above the snow.

Yeah, I’m not about to even consider working in the garden then.

So, while we did have to compost more than I’d have liked, I did get it all cleaned, blanched and packaged up – enough for 3 meals for us.

Better than nothing, though.

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We decided to roast a chicken this weekend, and, as we usually do, first, Peeps butterflied it and seasoned it, to sit in the fridge  overnight.

And . . . he always has help when he does that!

We do get some mileage out of a roast chicken, I’ll admit.  Besides a a couple dinners for us, plus maybe a lunch or breakfast AND a couple of quarts of chicken stock, Jar also gets a meal out of it – he gets the back, the tail, and the “goody packet.”  That ends up being just about perfect for one meal for him.

I guess he likes to be sure he gets his fair share!

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Would you believe there’s STILL one blossom left on my Christmas cactus?

That starts blooming, what, around Halloween?

Crazy, huh?

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.    While we’re hoping to start seeing some actual Spring weather,well, I’m pretty much at a “I’ll believe it when I see it” point.  I’d like to to some odds and ends cleared out of the freezer.  Now that we finally got the freezer emptied and defrosted, it’s important to keep rotating things in and out.

Monday –  We’ve got some of Peeps’s porkstrami thawing – that will get steamed (just like real pastrami!) and served on rye sandwich rolls that we’ll bake fresh. I’m trying another rye bread recipe – only instead of baking as one loaf, I’ll make 6 (or 8) rolls.  We’ll also probably do some salad and fries.

Tuesday – I found this interesting-sounding recipe for tuna, white bean and kale soup – which, in case you were wondering, is WHY I had to go to the garden and salvage the kale!

Wednesday – Since we’re roasting a chicken over the weekend, Peeps suggested chicken and dumplings.  I suspect our dumpling season is nearing an end for this year, and it’s SO good, so . . . why not?

Thursday – We are supposed to see some lovely spring weather this week, and by golly, we’re going to fire up the grill and slap a couple of steaks on it!  We’ll probably have some sort of potatoes and broccoli, just to keep things healthy, though.

Friday – The end of a long week – and any week that involves going to work every day is a long week! – calls for pizza night, doesn’t it?  Fresh pizza, Kong for the dog, and an evening of catching up on TV is just a great way to end the week, I think.

Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.

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They, well, they’re just DUMB November 14, 2013

Posted by Toy Lady in just general griping, mirth & woe, random stuff.
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The DMV, that is.

I know, I know, that shouldn’t come as a surprise to me, and, really, it doesn’t.  Or at least, not completely.  After all, surely you remember the incident last summer – The Boy had gone online to obtain a copy of his driving abstract for traffic court, and not only was the abstract available on the website, the State thoughtfully spent our tax dollars to mail him a copy, as well.

Oh, but wait, there’s more!

Since it was a two-page document, did they send a 2-sided copy?

Why no, they didn’t.

They sent each page in its own separate envelope, thereby incurring twice the costs in paper, envelopes, and postage.

Clearly, the DMV is the reason the Post Office is still in business.

But I digress.

Here in New York (and I assume everywhere else), we are required to pay the State for the privilege of owning, insuring, maintaining, and fueling a car.

(And, to add insult to, pretty much, more insult, I was charged  $64 for a “Registration Fee” AND an additional $20 “Use Tax.”  I’m sorry, but isn’t the Registration Fee already a de facto Use Tax?  How stupid do they think I am, anyway?)

Okay, I’m back.  I haven’t even gotten to the REALLY sorry part.

An aside:  our County Executive has been very good about bringing attention to the fact that, if you do your DMV transactions in person, at the local Motor Vehicle offices, a portion of those punitive fees will at least stay in our County – basically, the County skims off a few cents to help pay for some of the stuff that’s mandated by (guess who) the State.  My philosophy is that the closer to home I spend my money, the better for everyone, so I make it a point to do my DMV transactions locally.

Since my $84 Registration Fee – slash – Use Tax is due by next Saturday, and since Peeps is currently home during the day, he graciously offered to take care of that task for me while he was running other errands.  Wasn’t that nice of him?

So, he got up and out bright and early (he even scraped ice off of his windshield!) in order to beat the Tuesday-after-a-Monday-holiday crowd, and presented himself at the DMV, signed documents in one hand and debit card in the other.

So he took care of business, and, when he presented his card, he was asked to sign a form authorizing me to use his card.

Note:  I was not even there, and I have not, at any time, used his card.  Ever.  For any reason.

Didn’t matter.  His card was paying for my stuff, so, as far as they were concerned, he was me, I guess, using his card.

Well, fine.  Just fine.

Then, when he was all done pretending to me using his card, well, THEN they told him that since it was HIM and not ME, they would mail the current registration card and sticker to me sometime next week.  You know, since he wasn’t me using his card anymore, he was him renewing my registration.

Then they told him to “put his left foot in.”

I just made that last bit up.

But seriously.  Peeps – my LAWFUL SPOUSE  – while trying to be a good citizen and member of the community, went to the DMV with my paperwork, waited in line, was ludicrously required to authorize himself to use his debit card, paid over Eighty-Four of my hard-earned dollars to renew my car registration, and then they wouldn’t let him take the materials – that he had just paid for – that would keep me driving legally.

Can I take a moment here and mention that nowhere on the renewal paperwork I received was I warned that I was supposed to either show up in person, or I’d have to wait heaven-knows-how-long for Albany to (hopefully) mail me the new documents.  Nowhere.

And you know what’s even worse?

When he asked for a receipt (just in case I got pulled over, which I wouldn’t, of course, but you can’t be too careful)  he asked for a receipt, at the very least, and he was told that that would be mailed along with the new cards.

So you do know what’s going to happen now, don’t you?

We’re going to have an unseasonably warm, sunny day next week, I’m going to be driving around with my expired tags, and there will be no real crime in the area, so the police will set up a road block to check stickers in their favorite place – the on-ramp to the highway, just outside my office.

And I’m going to have to explain this.

Monday Musings: 10.22.2013 Edition October 21, 2013

Posted by Toy Lady in meal plan monday, mirth & woe, Musings.
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Another market week – and again, tons of nice veggies for, well, not too much money!  Though I’ll admit, we cut it close this week – I paid for the cucumbers in quarters!  But we got fresh broccoli, fennel and cauliflower,  and the most BEAUTIFUL green peppers!  Not to mention the great Brussels sprout tree – I LOVE buying sprouts that fresh!

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I also got a dragon fruit.   I’ve never had one, and I have no idea what to do with it, but the Asian lady I bought it from said it was “very good” and not to throw out the skin  – it’ good with fish.

We’ll see about that, I guess.  The “very good” part, not necessarily the fish part.

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How many years has it been that I’ve been trying to empty the freezer?  I would almost guess it’s been, well, Peeps says he’s been here for Defrosting Day once. And that’s been in 12 years.

However, this one is done, and now it’s been thoroughly cleaned and is in the process of being restocked.

The sad part?  We have a chest freezer that also needs to be defrosted. . .

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Hey, it’ apple season!

I think I mentioned, last month, that Peeps and I had spent a rigorous quarter hour picking a couple of bags of Honeycrisp apples didn’t I?  Those are fairly early apples – the Granny Smiths, Braeburns, Empires and Crispins are much later – like now.

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So we hauled ourselves out to the orchard and ended up with 50 more pounds of apples, plus a couple of gallons of cider for good measure.  My motto is anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

Hey, an apple a day, right?

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Oh my gosh, I am SO THRILLED about this!  I finally found magnetic knife strips that will actually hold all of our knives – even the big, heavy chef’s knife!

Some of the blades were too big for one knife block, then we got another, and it just took up too much real estate on the counter – but no more!  All the knives that are in regular circulation are safely tucked away under the cabinet, but right within hand’s reach – yay!

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I mentioned I bought a bunch of vegetables, right? Mostly I eat them with my lunch at work – it turns out that a whole bowl full of cucumbers, peppers and cauliflower is about 14 calories!

But I don’t know, I might be heading perilously close to “going overboard” – what do you think?

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Oh. My. Gosh.

Eggnog is out.  The supermarket this weekend had an entire shelf of the dairy section devoted to that SEASONAL beverage.

Dudes, it’s OCTOBER.  We shouldn’t be seeing eggnog until at LEAST Thanksgiving, and, ideally, AFTER THAT.

Sheesh.

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And once again, it’s time for the weekly menu plan.

Monday –  We pulled a package of chicken wings out of the freezer because we’d seen these baked parmesan wings – don’t they look good?  Of course, wings don’t make a full meal, so we’ll add some potatoes and broccoli.

Tuesday –  The lamb ragout worked out well – last week and it was so easy!   We had plenty left over, so some went home with The Boy, and the rest, we’ll have, this time with pasta.

Wednesday –  Even though we’re TRYING to empty and defrost freezers, we just couldn’t resist roasting chickens on sale for 69 cents a pound.  So, we’ll be roasting a bird, along with some baby potatoes and Brussels sprouts.  I think roasted chicken and sprouts would do very well with some sort of an herby dijon butter sauce, don’t you?

Thursday –  Another thing  we found in the freezer was a package of lamb chunks Peeps had stashed away until he got around to making sausage.  Well, he got around to it.  It’s got kind of a Moroccan vibe to it – seasoned with garlic, cumin and a bit of cinnamon – and we decided a nice soup would be just the thing.  Sauteed some aromatics (leeks and carrots and a couple of cloves of minced garlic), then added the same spices – cumin and cinnamon.  A couple of pints of chicken stock and some chick peas (also from the freezer), and, once that’s come to a boil, he dropped little lamb sausage meatballs into the broth, kind of albondigas-style.  We added a handful of chopped spinach to call it a complete meal.

Friday – Again with pizza night!  The tomatoes are STILL hanging in there (sort of) although they’re getting pretty sad.  If I don’t have fresh tomatoes, we have plenty of sauce in the freezer that we made when we DID have fresh tomatoes (and eggplant), so it’s all good.

Be sure to click on over to The Organizing Junkie’s Monday Menu Plan post for loads and loads of other ideas.

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My Wasted Vote November 7, 2012

Posted by Toy Lady in just general griping, mirth & woe, Not about Food, Politics.
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So I’m still here, no computer except the ancient laptop.   Which means no photos.    (And while that may not be a HUGE loss, it’s still a loss, right?  Right?)

At the time of this writing, it’s the evening of Election Day.

Thank GOODNESS it’s almost over!

While we don’t know who will win at this point, I’m sure we all know who we want to win – or at least who we don’t want to win.  And I’m equally certain it’s not the same for all of us, is it?

I find myself in the position of being something of a disenfranchised voter.

In the general election, anyway, my vote doesn’t really count for much.

Sure, the local elections matter – and I always make sure to vote there.  I firmly believe that the closer my government is to me, the more control I have.  Town, Village, County, even State elections all matter, more, I think, than the presidential election.

Especially here.  You see, I’m in New York, and I don’t think there’s a truer, bluer state than New York.   Except maybe New Jersey.  Maybe.

Which means that my presidential vote is worthless.    Thanks to the electoral college, my representative will be voting for Obama, whether I like it or not.

Some representation, huh?

That’s not to say I think Romney walks on water, because I don’t.  I truly believe that there is less separating the two mainstream candidates than they’d like to have us think, and whichever your choice is, it’s no more than the lesser of two evils.

But you know what?  I’m kind of glad.  It gave me a chance to vote the way I’d like to vote, if I could vote however I wanted to if I wasn’t worried about “throwing my vote away.”

For the first time since 1984, I actually left the voting booth feeling good about my presidential vote.

I voted for what I really think – knowing that “my guy” wasn’t going to win anyway-  he wasn’t even going to make a dent in the final results.

I decided to do something radical – to vote for a “third party” candidate.   A politician who actually stands for the things I believe.  Gosh I wish people would take the Libertarian Party a little more seriously. . . I’ll bet the Founding Fathers  would have.

*Images: credit to Young Americans for Liberty.  Even though I’m more a “Middle-Aged American for Liberty.”