Friday, January 31, 2014

Winter Rescue

My first venture out in two weeks was a rescue. Madam's Explorer died/wouldn't start last night while she was out at the Cultural Arts Center and AAA had a 6 hour wait before they could respond. I refused to go out at 11 last night so I had to go give a boost this morning. I then took her to Pep Boys and got her a new battery and she is off and running again. Not too bad but I am glad to be back home and in my sweats. The roads are pretty clear with only some black ice and stuff on the secondary roads. Still quite a bit of snow on the ground though but we should get some good warming today and get rid of it.

Going to finish up all my seed (or most) of seed orders this morning and just wait for spring. I've got a huge amount of work to do before I can seriously garden as this lost January has really put me behind schedule. I'm hoping the Doc will give me the go ahead to return to normal next Wednesday and, weather permitting, I will get to work. Until I get the clearance to lift more than 20 pounds I am not much good when it comes to building garden beds and moving dirt.

It's not much but I did get my taxes done and filed electronically and there is nice refund coming from the Feds. All of the out of pocket medical expenses made a big difference. The big deductible and recent surgery should do the same for me next year I hope.

Finished with winter now.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Frozen In Place

Here we are in Atlanta, frozen in place as it were. School students spent the night at schools, people spent the night in their cars on the freeways and on an on. In spite of the fact that the snow and freezing was forecast well in advance the brilliant folks in Atlanta all waited for it to actually start before they all made the mad dash for home or wherever and this resulted in frozen gridlock just about everywhere. This, BTW, is SOP hereabouts. Minimonk made it home barely, after it taking over 4 hours to go what should have been a 20 minute trip. A friend got home at 10p last night after a 9 hour commute from Gainesville that normally takes an hour.  Minimonk is supposed to be at the fire station today but her boss says that if they need her they will send an emergency vehicle for her.

The city is insisting everyone stay off the streets today as it is not going to rise above freezing and what little snow and ice removal equipment we have is maxed out. I just got a text from the city saying..."If you left your car on or by the roadway last night then look for it in the nearest parking lot as we are towing everything off the highways".

We are snug here and have no need to go out for anything which is just as well. The folks here in Atlanta never always happens this way. Maybe someday they will figure out that even the 2 - 3 inches of snow we got yesterday will gridlock the city and if you can, you go to ground as soon as you can....preferably before it even starts to snow. Don't hold your breath though.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

It Snows

The forecasters were correct and it is, in fact, snowing here in the Northern burbs of Atlanta. Nowhere to go so we are good just to watch it come down....looks like we have about an inch so far and maybe will get another before it stops this evening.

Spent most of yesterday up and about but I might have pushed a little too hard as I am having some muscle spasms in the incision area today. Going to take it easy today and enjoy the snow.

Madam, against specific instructions never to buy meat at Kroger, drug home some pork loin chops. I'm thinking they will wind up in some kind of stew with a Latin spin. Kroger pork is labeled "Moist and Tender" which is code for injected with up to 15% saline solution. The added saline actually makes the pork dry out faster when cooking but it does allow them to sell you water at pork prices. A slow braise is the only thing that has a chance of counteracting the effects of the saline injection.

If you are getting winter weather be safe and warm.

Oh, Miss Zoey is not impressed with her first snow.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Long Slog

Well, it has been a week and two days since the surgery and I am happy to report that I can now sit and stand without groaning...just a little whimper. Still a lot of swelling and some bruising and periods where the pain is pretty intense. On the whole though I am getting over the worst of it. The weather has been cooperating in keeping me uninterested in doing anything much but sit on my ass. It appears we are forecast for a possibility of snow tonight which suits me just fine. It looks like I am going to be a slug for a few more days.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Still Sucking Wind

I'm still here but struggling with the post op pain and swelling. About all I can accomplish is sit up in bed and watch TV and sleep with the occasional few pages on my Nexus. I was surely fooled by previous experience with hernia surgery and while I new this was going to be worse than the arthroscopic version I wasn't prepared for just how bad it would be. No one warned my about the you know what swelled to the size of grapefruit and turned dark purple and is still quite swollen and painful. The "litttle buddy" just about disappeared in all the swelling and is still bruised. While a lot of that pain is reduced the area under and around the incision is now the star of the show and only by lying very still is it even bearable and yes I have drugs. SO anyway I am slowly recovering but it is a slog and I don't even want to know how many hours of bad cooking shows I've watched along with American Pickers and Pawn Stars. I'm sure my IQ is down a few points. Here is hoping the weekend brings a revolutionary change and I can get back to life next week. I don't do slug very well.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

It Lives

I made it through but very tender and swollen with lots of bruising. Didn't sleep a wink last night and just laid there from 6pm when I got home from the hospital until 7am this morning. Counted every minute. I thought sure the percoset would put me out but no such luck. I'll check in sooner or later but right now I'm going back to bed.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Under The Knife

Off in an hour or so to get this hernia fixed. They moved the surgery to the hospital instead of the outpatient place I went to last time because of some insurance thing. No big deal. I should be home by four or so but I doubt I will feel much like blogging for a day or two. As I mentioned the surgeon will do an actual incision this time instead of the arthroscopic thing since that method didn't do the job. I expect the recovery will be a little more difficult.
So here I am. Thirsty, hungry and no coffee. Later.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Lost Month

January 2014 is turning into a completely lost month. As I mentioned I have had a recurrence of the hernia which was supposed to be fixed by the surgery last July. Somehow it has come back and it is actually more uncomfortable than the event before the last surgery. Basically, I am down and out since the surgeon said "oops!" on the 31st of December. The second surgery is scheduled for Friday so after a few weeks of restrictions and recovery I should be OK for the spring gardening season...fingers crossed.
So anyway, I have been a slug for the past two weeks and it looks like the rest of the month will be pretty slow as well. I am getting some reading done but not much else. Watching a bit of TV but there doesn't seem to much rewarding there other than a few cooking shows that I haven't seen at least twie or three times. Not a lot of original content on the Food Network or Food Channel.
Not much in the news to get excited about either.....
West Virginia is a national disgrace when in comes to the environment and is completely at the mercy of big coal. Surprise!
The New Jersey governor is a bully.
Conservatives are living in a completely different reality than the rest of us.
Congress is a disgrace.
No one is going to do anything to slow or reverse climate change.
People that are carrying weapons on the street legally are crazy and not to be trusted.
Dare I go on?

On a good note I have a bunch of seed catalogs that are wetting my appetite for some gardening fun.
Oh! I don't miss working at Home Depot.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Balmy Outside

It's warmed to a balmy 37F outside and we might even hit 40 plus today. Even warmer for  the next few days. We survived the cold snap with no damage except to the winter garden. I might still get a cabbage or two but everything else is frost burned. If anything good can be said about it it is that at least it killed some insect pests and set the buds on the fruit trees.
Still in winter mode though. Getting ready for a pot of leek and potato soup for dinner and since I have the time I am making a batch of French bread to go with the soup. Not my two day version which requires a sour dough chef but the quick version with just yeast. It's on its ferment stage right now but in a few minutes I will form the batards and it all should be ready for dinner.
I hope everyone else survived the "dreaded polar vortex" which Obama made up just so he could tie this cold snap to global warming.

Since it is Elvis' birthday today I should be having grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches for dinner but it is going to be potato soup. Happy Birthday Elvis and maybe they will let you off early tonight from that diner your working in so that you can celebrate.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

It's Cold and Getting Colder

24F right now in Atlanta and it's going to get a lot colder. The forecast low for Tuesday is 9F with a possibility of snow for Sunday night and Monday morning. I've still got broccoli, cabbage, kale and Arugula in the garden and I guess I am going to have to harvest the broccoli today and blanch and freeze it as it won't survive those temperatures. I will probably lose the cabbage. I'll pick some kale and roquette that will last for a few days in the fridge. This is supposed to be the coldest we have seen here in decades so I can't kick myself too hard. That's the deal with gardening, just like the too much rain earlier last year.
I will take the tender stuff out of the greenhouse this afternoon...citrus and peppers mostly as my little heater can't maintain above freezing if it gets that cold. About the best I can maintain is about 10 degrees above outside temperature so some of the stuff will have to spend a few days in the basement under lights.
Going to make a quick run to the store later just to get a couple of things but we've got plenty of milk, flour and beans if things get rough. I've also got charcoal if I have to get primitive.
If you are in the Midwest or Northeast bundle up and stay indoors. The forecast lows in those areas can cause frostbite after just a few minutes of exposure and for Goddess' sake make sure your pets are indoors and safe. Even if they have to poop and pee indoors just deal with it as those temperatures are just as dangerous for them.
Off to get a batch of sourdough started so I will have extra bread baked and maybe even some Scottish oatcakes for emergency rations. It is not silly to be prepared. It is only silly to panic or not be prepared.
So curl up with your seed catalogs, if you have them, and dream about spring and warmer weather. It might also be a good time to get a pot of beans simmering on the stove. I've got a ham bone and trimmings left over from Christmas that is just calling me.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Good Intentions

So, my good intentions for the New Year are not working out. It's too cold to garden and the surgeon confirmed my fears that the hernia has reappeared so no gym. Surgery is scheduled for the 17th to get it redone. The doctor was quite surprised to see me after only 6 months. The only issue is that he won't do it via arthroscopic as with the first but with an incision. Healing is going to be a little longer.
So my plans to hit the gym hard and get the beds in the garden finished are going to have to wait until at least February since lifting weights and cinder blocks  is not allowed.

The danger here is that when I am bored I cook and eat which is not good.

More Oatmeal Biscuits - This TIme Scottish Oatcakes

After my previous post about ANZAC biscuits it was mentioned that they sounded similar to Scottish Oatcakes....well, yes and no. Oatcakes are not quite as short(less fat) and not normally sweetened or have very little sugar added but they are mostly oats and biscuits and delicious as well. Below we'll talk about Scottish Oatcakes which are a nice treat for breakfast and with the afternoon tea.

Oatcakes are an ancient part of the Scottish diet. For a long time they were the main source of carbohydrates for your average Scotsman. In the old days you could probably find an oatcake or two in pretty much any sporran. Today oatcakes are commonly served with jam for breakfast or at afternoon tea with savory toppings.  You can find them sometimes in the British section of the market but, as always, homemade are best. There are several ways to get a somewhat proper biscuit and we'll cover most.  It's a pretty quick recipe and fast enough to make for breakfast.

    2 cups oatmeal (see options below)
    1/2 cup whole wheat flour
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp Kosher salt
    1/2 cup boiling water
   6 tbsp unsalted butter


Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix the oatmeal, flour, baking powder and salt together in a large
bowl. Bring the water and butter to a light boil in a small saucepan.
Stir the water-butter mixture into the oat mixture until it forms a mass. Add more water
if necessary to bring the ingredients together as a dough. Set aside to rest for at least 15
minutes. This lets the oats hydrate.
Roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thick and cut into 3 to 4-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter.
Place the rounds onto a parchment lined baking sheet(or use a Silpat) and bake for 20 -
30 minutes, or until golden-brown and slightly crisp on the edges.
These are great just out of the oven with some good butter and jam. To serve with tea try
topping with cream cheese or smoked salmon. For a nice treat you might also top the
cream cheese with a bit of Pick-a-Pepper sauce or Major Grey's Mango Chutney.

Oatcakes Options:

The Oats: Scottish or Irish-style steel-cut oats are traditional for oatcakes but you can use
American-style old-fashioned rolled oats instead. Pulse the oats briefly in a food
processor or blender first to break them up a bit. It doesn't hurt to give the steel cut oats
a quick spin either to make them a little more 'meal' like.  Bob's Red Mill used to make a
Scottish Oatmeal that makes a great oatcake though I haven't noticed it on the store
shelves recently.
You can eliminate the wheat flour for a gluten-free version.
If you want you can add a little sweetness to your oatcakes by stirring in 1/4 - 1/2 cup of
brown sugar. A couple of tablespoons of honey or golden syrup
works too.
You don't have to use butter. Shortening, lard or even bacon fat work.
For a crispier biscuit roll the dough out to 1/4-inch.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

ANZAC Biscuits Are A New Weakness

The latest issue of Saveur arrived the other day and while I was thumbing through it I stumbled on a recipe for ANZAC Biscuits. It was something I had never tried and I just happened to have all of the ingredients on hand. Besides, I like to have a cookie with my afternoon tea and my Christmas baking efforts were nearly depleted. Minimonk put a dent in my biscotti supply and the Molasses cookies were gobbled up by various visitors. These bicuits/cookies are named supposedly a recipe for a long keeping cookie made by Australian/Kiwi wives and mothers for their soldiers deployed with ANZAC and since they have no eggs keep well not to mention it was wartime and eggs were rationed. They are surprisingly delicious and chewy with the oats and coconut. This is a keeper recipe and they go lovely with a cuppa.

They do use Golden Syrup (cane sugar syrup) which can be hard to find but you can substitute 2 parts light corn syrup and 1 part molasses and get close. Try and find the Golden Syrup if you can. It will be in the British foods section of your market...I think I got mine at Whole Foods.

ANZAC Biscuits

2 1/4 cups of rolled oats(old fashioned oats not instant oats)
2  cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup boiling water
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
10 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp Golden syrup

Heat your oven to 350F. Whisk the first four ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix the baking soda in with the water. Melt the butter and syrup in a sauce pan and add the water mixture. Pour the wet into the dry and mix well to make a think dough. Using a 1 oz. scoop or 2 tablespoons drop the cookie mixture onto parchment or Silpat lined baking sheets and bake for 14 to 16 minutes until nicely browned(Mine took 14). Remove from oven and let cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes and then remove to cool on racks.

You should get about 2 dozen cookies.

Note: I had unsweetened shredded coconut(Bob's Red Mill) but it sometimes is hard to find. Though I haven't tried it I would imagined you could cut the sugar back a little and use sweetened coconut. Maybe 2/3 of a cup would do the job but not any less as the texture of the cookie would be affected.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Have A Great 2014

Happy New Year everyone. Even though there is no astronomical or other overriding reason to celebrate on this particular day, everyone seems to have agreed on it so we will too. It would make a lot more sense to celebrate the Winter Solstice but then that would give us Pagans too much cred and we can't have that.

Anyhow, true to form Madam and I and Zoey were sound asleep when the New Year rolled in here on the East Coast. I did have a nice bottle of Proseco chilled just in case these two olds made it to midnight but there is bound to be an excuse for it sometime soon.

2014 brings some changes around here. I mentioned that I had resigned from Home Depot and now I am "officially" retire. Hopeful to get some serious gardening done. I've also resolved to get more diligent with my guitar so we'll see.

I hope everyone has a great year ahead. We've has some hints at progress toward a better world during 2013 but not nearly enough action and I'm afraid with the same old players in place we won't see much this year either. Regardless, I am setting a goal for myself to do better at making at least my part of the world a better place. You do the same.