Tuesday, April 28, 2009

kittens - day 8

My sister sent some more photos of the kittens, taken yesterday (the "day 8" referred to in the blog title). Don't think I've mentioned on this blog, but one of the five kittens has died, so there are only four left.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

sunday night curb surfing

I love curb surfing. Tonight's score was a dining room chair picked up right outside my front door - a match for another chair I'd rescued a few months ago. I think it belonged to the cute guy with the kids who just moved out - the seats on both had been recovered with a disgusting dusty rose fabric that was filthy with children's paint and greasy blotches. But as with the previous chair, when I removed the fabric, the original pleather upholstery was in great condition, and all it needed was a wipe with a damp cloth.

Above is the frame with the seat removed. I have to apologize for the really lame how-to instructions on this project: Basically I just turned the chair upside down on my work table and unscrewed the seat from the frame. But I didn't take a picture of that part. Sorry.

Nor did I take a picture of how disgusting the chair looked before I cleaned it up. Nor did I take a picture of the tools and screws I used to put it back together. Luckily I had a spare wood screw in my toolbox, since this chair was missing one of its seat screws.

The finished, reassembled chair is on the right, beside the aforementioned mate that I rescued during the winter. I love their simple lines, and the black seats and dark wood look really great in my front room. Oh - forgot to mention that I also waxed the chair backs (the part that would touch the back of someone sitting in the chair), because the wood finish had weathered off both, and they looked a bit dodgy.

Today's find in its (temporary?) new home - at one end of my front room. I need to get some felt pads for the chair legs, so that they won't scrape against the floor whenever I lazily slide it around my apartment. Right now it's serving as an ersatz side table for the chair beside it.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Bought these flowers at the grocery store, possibly last Sunday afternoon. Narcissi are like tiny little daffodils. Only tiny. And little. (A glance at the Wikipedia article I just hyper-linked tells me that "narcissus" is the genus name for a whole family of flowers that include actual daffodils. So there you go.) They smell kind of nice. I thought they looked cheery, which is what made me conveniently forget that I'd promised myself not to buy pesticide-laden plants anymore.

Some time-lapse photos.

The second day.

Also the second day.

The fourth day.

Also the fourth day. They are starting to rot wither.

The fifth day. They are totally going to pot. Wait - they're already in a pot. Oh well. Guess they don't have far to go.

too many phones

This is a photo of an actual situation I noticed in my bedroom last night. I tend to compulsively carry around a cordless phone and my BlackBerry wherever I go inside my apartment. (I have three cordless phones in total, BTW.) Two of them ended up beside my bed last night. Awesome. Hyper-vigilance, thy name is Michelle Lynne Goodfellow.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

tumblr and whrrl

Apparently the new social media are not allowed access to sufficient vowels when choosing their names. Not quite sure why old people like me should put up with this this should be. Anyhow, I saw a blog on Tumblr a couple of weeks ago and got the bright idea to start my own Tumblog. Or whatever they call it. The time-wasting black hole endeavor kind of engaged me for a few days, but basically the only thing that's on my Tumblog now is a bunch of my imported Twitter tweets. Which begs the question: Why not just use Twitter?

I thought the Tumblr blog looked cool, for sure. Very minimalist, very clean. Plus I liked the fact that I could upload photos from my mobile device, which I HAVEN'T QUITE FIGURED OUT HOW TO DO YET ON BLOGGER. Not that I'm bitter bitter, or anything.

Then I saw a photo story on Whrrl. Which also seemed very cool. Except after I created a Whrrl account, I could not FOR THE LIFE OF ME figure out how to create an actual photo story. It was one of those "just kill me now" scenarios. Kept clicking on the various hyperlinks on my "home" page, and kept NOT FINDING THE INFORMATION I WANTED. And their "help" page was no help at all. You can't even delete your account all by yourself - you have to WRITE THEM AN E-MAIL and ask if they'll be so good as to delete your account for you. Whatever.

Hence I am blogging a lot more on Blogger again. Which is as it should be. Except for the f*cking nagging mobile uploads issue.

My Tumblr feed
My Twitter feed

A few hours after I posted the above rant, a lovely (I'm extrapolating here) woman named Heather Meeker - the Director of Corporate and Marketing Communications at Pelago (the makes of Whrrl) - sent me a very helpful e-mail:

Hi Michelle,

I just read your blog post about frustrations with Tumblr and our service, Whrrl. I found you via your tweet (@emelgy Aimless kvetching about Tumblr and Whrrl: http://tinyurl.com/dd3gw6) and hope you don’t mind me reaching out to you.

I wanted to apologize that your experience with Whrrl has been less than fantastic. You are right - at this time, you are not able to start a story from the Whrrl.com website. However, you can start a story through our iPhone application or via any phone with SMS text capabilities. If you’re interested to learn how, I’d be happy to walk you through it.

Here’s the good news - we are working to enable anyone to start a story from the Web. That feature is coming soon, and we’ll be sure to tweet and blog about it, once it’s completed.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Again, sorry to hear your about your experience with Whrrl.



OMG! I don't know why I am continually surprised to discover that people actually READ my blog posts. In this case, I felt compelled to send Ms. Meeker an even lovelier response:


Thanks for your e-mail. Good to know that there are real people out there to take care of your Whrrlers. Too bad the same can't be said about Twitter - I have submitted help tickets to them several times, and have never once heard back from a real person. Whrrl wins the service game this time around.

I appreciate your offer to help me learn to use Whrrl from my mobile device, but (being that I am living in Canada, with a dubious mobile service provider) I suspect that the whole mobile uploading thing would be a bit of a challenge for me, and possibly beyond Whrrl's technical support skills. Once you begin to offer the web service thingy, I may revisit the whole Whrrl thingy.

Until then, cheers and good luck with your other customers. I'll be posting your offer of aid as an addendum to my blog post, so that people will know what nice guys you are over there at Whrrl. Er, Pelago.



So there you have it. My work here is done.

kittens - day 3

More pictures of the new kittens, sent by my sister. Aww...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

trinidadian black-eyed pea stew

After uploading all the photos for this post, I almost didn't want to start writing the copy. Contemplated a nap. Decided to persevere. So this is a recipe for a Trinidadian stew. I can't vouch for its authenticity, not being Trinidadian. But it sounded good.

I based my recipe on the above recipe for Trinidadian Black-Eyed Pea Soup.

I found it in a book called World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey. She's like the Godmother of Indian cooking. I don't know if she knows anything about West Indian cooking... but I bet she can fake it. I'm also thinking she's looking pretty awesome in that photograph, because her Wikipedia entry tells me she was born in 1933. If her recipes keep me looking that fine when I'm 70-something, I'd be happy.

This is a package of dried black-eyed peas. I'm totally making this recipe from scratch, sorry for your luck. You can take the wimpy way out and used canned black-eyed peas. I'll enable you that much.

For the real cooks out there, pre-soak the beans in a pot full of water. I'm using my Crock Pot here. Soak the beans for several hours (eight is always quoted as a good number, but I'm pretty loosey-goosey with cooking times myself, so feel free to make it up), then drain off the soaking water, re-fill your cooking vessel, and cook the beans until they're done. I totally meant to cook my beans in the slow cooker overnight, but forgot to. This morning I was greeted by some beans that had been soaking for about 20 hours. Awesome.

I also made the mistake of trying to cook too many beans for the capacity of my Crock Pot. They made a total mess of my counter and my kitchen floor when the cooking water boiled over. Also awesome.

When the beans are done they will be soft (i.e. try one and see if it breaks a tooth or not). Another way to tell if beans are done is by blowing on them; if the skins start to curl away from the insides, then they're done. I really wanted to demonstrate that technique in the above photo, but apparently my beans weren't cooked enough. I called them done anyhow.

I had the brilliant idea that I would like to cook the entire stew in my Crock Pot, and so I rushed to clean it out after the beans were cooked. I don't really recommend trying to wash a REALLY HOT Crock Pot. Like really - pretend I never even suggested it might be possible. But this hypothetical woman I might know? She does it all the time. And when she doesn't burn herself, it's mostly successful. Just remember to unplug the outside container first if you should be so foolhardy, yourself. After all that work, I realized that IF THE BEANS WERE TOO FULL FOR THE CROCK AND MADE IT BOIL OVER, then the stew would probably be, too. And maybe even more so. Ya think? So I cleaned this bugger for nothing. Sigh.

Okay, don't be frightened. I meant to have a nice picture of three lovely bell peppers to introduce the whole chapter on "How to Roast Peppers," but I neglected to actually take that photo. I'm sorry. The charred mess, above, is actually what these things look like after they've been roasted. When I do them, anyhow. Simply wash and dry the peppers and put them on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Then stick them under the broiler and turn them regularly. This is one instance when the presence of a smoke alarm anywhere near the vicinity of your kitchen will be really annoying. I had to take the batteries out of mine before these babies were done. True.

Cover the roasted peppers with plastic wrap (if you're fond of zeno-estrogens in your food supply) or aluminum foil (if you're playing Russian Roulette with Alzheimer's), and let them sit, covered, for 10-15 minutes. This helps sweat the skins off. In theory. The above peppers have done their sweating, and as you can see from the middle pepper, the skin should just peel right off without much trouble. I totally recommend you let the peppers cool completely before trying to remove the skins. Not that I follow my own advice. But I totally recommend that you do.

The peppers will now be all limp and slimy; slice them in half lengthwise and remove the stem end and seeds. You may need to scrape all the stray seeds with a knife or something. I don't recommend you use your fingers, because that then becomes a lovely game akin to the whole peanut butter on the roof of your mouth phenomenon. Chop the seeded peppers into a large dice.

Take an onion.

Chop it into a fine dice.

Take some sinfully yummy coconut oil (my new favorite cooking oil, because of its high smoking point and delicious flavour - and its multitude of health benefits including weight loss and anti-infection properties (I'm not making this stuff up, although that doesn't mean that it's true)), and heat the oil in a skillet.

Saute the onions in the coconut oil until they're soft and slightly browned. My onions are a little browner than you're aiming for. Thought I'd offer that up as a bit of a cautionary tale. (More like I just got preoccupied with other stuff in the kitchen before I took the photograph.)

Remove the onion from the heat and add the chopped, roasted peppers to the onions. You can see how successful I was at removing all the pepper seeds. What can I say? I always use my fingers.

Take four carrots.

Chop them into a medium dice. Note that my dice qualifiers are totally arbitrary and only meant to sound professional. Which I am not. At least I've styled the photograph in such a way that it appears to demonstrate how to chop carrots into a dice. I've forgotten what I actually did here, though.

Saute the diced carrots in more coconut oil. Add them to the onions and peppers.

Next comes a bunch of fiddly little ingredients that you add to the onions, peppers and carrots. Start with 4 tablespoons of uncooked brown rice.

Then add this much ginger. I'm calling it 1 1/2 teaspoons, but then I like ginger. If you don't like ginger, add less. Or none. Why are you even making this recipe if you don't like ginger, though?

Okay, the next few photos might be a bit confusing. The recipe called for allspice, which I don't have. But I'm thinking, "Allspice is called allspice because it tastes like all the baking spices." You know - like cloves and cinnamon and nutmeg. I think. So here I'm adding a tiny bit of ground cloves. If you have allspice (show-off), just add some allspice and forget about these other spices, okay?

This is cinnamon. I think.

I'm pretty sure this is nutmeg. I'm pretty sure I don't remember how much I added. Seems to me I was grinding this thing for a long time. I like nutmeg, though. You might not.

Okay, now we're adding some mustard. The recipe called for dried, ground mustard, but I totally didn't have that either. This is prepared mustard from a squeeze bottle. I was thinking it was Dijon or something, but then I noticed the label said honey mustard. Doh. I don't think it will matter, though.

Okay... now here the recipe called for thyme, and I don't have any of that either. But I'm thinking that thyme and sage are kind of the same, so I added ground sage. Sounded good in my head, anyway.

The recipe also called for bonnet peppers. I think those are super hot. I'm not a bit fan of even barely hot, myself, so I substituted red pepper flakes. Feel free to improvise with an eye towards your own particular level of hotitude.

This liquid that looks like dishwater is actually vegetable stock that I save from cooking vegetables and freeze until I need it in recipes. Yes, I am that awesome. Feel free to use plain water if you must, or some kind of vegetable boullion from the store. Total aside: Guerilla Firebox is telling me that I'm spelling boullion wrong. Totally had to look that one up, just to be sure. Don't know where they're getting their spell-check words from, but I think boullion is totally the way Americans spell that word. The French spell it bouillon, and the English and Canadians add another 'u' in there somewhere, I think.

Add everything (black-eyed peas, vegetables, rice, spices and herbs) to your cooking pot, and then add the stock or broth until everything is just covered. I don't like watery soups, which is why this recipe is called "stew." Go ahead and make a soup if you really want a soup. I don't. Simmer the stew (soup) for about 45 minutes until the rice is cooked. You'll know it's cooked because the individual grains will be all puffed up and splitting apart.

This is what my stew looked like when it was done.

Okay, now comes another confession: The soup recipe called for fresh cilantro. I didn't have any of that either. I made a special trip to the grocery store after the stew was all cooked, because while the stew tasted good, I knew it would be so much better with cilantro in it. I LOVE cilantro. Some of you might not. In fact, to some of you, cilantro might taste like soap. True. I'm so glad I'm not one of those people. Anyhow, to finish off this recipe properly, you really need some fresh cilantro.

Cut off a big handful of the leaves, and wash them well. They'll probably be quite sandy, and that's such an unpleasant feeling against the teeth, let me tell you. To chop the cilantro, I use a pair of scissors. It feels like cheating, but apparently real chefs do it that way too, so I'm passing the tip along for what it's worth.

This is what my finished, finished stew looked like. And it tasted awesome. Really.

Packing up leftovers into glass sealers, so I can freeze them for another meal. You don't have to be that anal if you don't want to be. So there you go. You're welcome.