Pork You!

Today, I made pork chops for the first time in my life. I’ve never been a big fan of pork, so learning to cook it has been low on my priority list. Unfortunately, it shows.

I tried to make them with some barbecue marinade thing I found on the internet. The sauce sounded good, and tasted pretty awesome before the cooking-with-pork commenced. Afterwards, not so much. It was sort of like vinegar and ketchup soup with onion chunks and giant globs of pork in it. I personally prefer my vinegar and ketchup soup creamier and vegetarianer. Why oh why didn’t I use the BBQ sauce from a bottle? I mean, I know why; I wanted to differentiate my new pork chops recipe from my pulled pork sandwiches (which are actually pretty good. I’m sure this is mostly due to the fact that I use the sauce from the bottle). I’m seriously considering making that difference be which brand of bottled sauce I use.

Part of the problem may also have been how long I cooked them. When I looked it up, the Interwebs told me 170° for pork products. So I pulled them out 4 or 5 times expecting them to be done, only to find that they were around 100° pushing towards 125°, but wouldn’t go past that. Eventually, Papa T. was able to confirm that the chops were fully cooked despite my meat thermometer claiming they needed at least another 2 days in the oven.

Papa T. is very valiant about eating my failed experiments as long as he’s pretty sure they won’t kill him or make him throw up in his mouth. Which I think is reasonable. My parents had a rule that if you didn’t like what they cooked, you could have cereal. Since I don’t stock my pantry with cereal, it took the two of us a while to find an alternative rule that worked for both of us. If it won’t kill him, he’ll usually eat it without too much complaint. I get comments like, “You bought inferior pork chops. A pork chop should be thicker than this,” but he’ll rarely declare a meal categorically inedible. When he does, it really is. On nights like tonight, when the meal is edible but sorta blechy, he’ll eat one pork chop and then declare himself full. 15 minutes later he’ll be making a PB&J, but my fiction of having created an edible meal is upheld and I’ll pretend not to notice. A good marriage requires good communication, the ability to compromise, and the willingness to forgive. But it also requires knowing when to pretend there’s no one in the kitchen making a PB&J.

I guess I’d better start buying cereal by the time we have kids.

My Korma Ran Over Your Dogma

There’s this Indian restaurant that delivers to our house. If it didn’t cost a bajillionty dollars to order from them, I’d probably eat Indian food every night. But it does, and also their food (like most restaurants’) is very high in sodium and fat. As part of my ongoing attempt to reproduce ethnic foods at home, I tried to make korma the other night. Afterwards, I looked up what korma actually is. It is not the same thing as the thing I made. But what I made was tasty and healthful, so I’m going to be making it again. And I’m not going to call it, “That stuff that I made that shared nothing with real Korma except the name and a couple spices.” So, yes, I know I’m not actually providing you with an authentic Korma recipe. I’m calling it Korma anyway.

Here’s what you’ll need:

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We own ferrets. Ferrets are possibly the most amazing pets ever, if you have enough money and time to keep them healthy. If you don’t, please don’t get a ferret.


I’ll get into the costs of keeping ferrets in another post. But to give you an idea of how much it costs to keep two ferrets, my household averages about $400 a month to keep Sarah and Hermia healthy, happy, and likely to live a good long time. They are relatively healthy ferrets. That’s right. We spend a lot more money on vet bills for healthy ferrets than we do on eating out every single month. So don’t get a ferret on a whim, because they deserve better than the impulsive owner can give.

I’m sure I’ll write scads more about how to keep a ferret and not be a Bad Person later. But this post, I primarily want to introduce my ferret family and talk about our history. And play with embedding videos.

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Don’t buy chicken stock

I love rotisserie chickens. You know, the ones they have right near the checkout lines at grocery stores to encourage you to buy a chicken instead of cooking dinner? I mean you just spent an hour in the grocery store and you never were able to find that canned pumpkin anyway. It wasn’t with the pie makings or the canned soups or vegetables or anywhere. Maybe all the canned pumpkin in the world turned out to have botulism and had to be taken off the shelves. Maybe it’s like Cadbury creme eggs and you can only buy it during certain seasons. Whatever the reason, your new recipe for Superfoods Casserole clearly calls for canned pumpkin and your backup idea of enchiladas seems like a lot of work. Maybe you can just nuke some frozen broccoli and give everyone the choice of lemon pepper or barbecue…

Yeah, those chickens. I love them. And sometimes I fall for the lure of a fast dinner with time for a glass of wine later. Afterwards, when I have a big plate of bones and skin and I’m feeling bad because the fridge is full of enchilada makings and most of the Superfood Casserole makings, I want to feel like I didn’t waste money. So I make stock. The first time I tried it I was intimidated. I mean, I can’t really cook. Only Real Cooks make their own stocks and broths and all that. Next I’ll be claiming to have even the vaguest idea how to make a souffle. Read the rest of this entry

I only had coffee this morning.

I am already struggling with creating and maintaining new habits. I don’t do well with, “struggling.” I am easily frustrated and I expect to get things right the first or second time I do them. When it comes to building habits and routines, that means that if I mess up, even once, I get frustrated. Doing something regularly isn’t something you can really improve on; it’s too binary. You either do it or you don’t.  It’s a situation rife with opportunities for frustration.

It’s been a long time since I pushed myself creatively and intellectually on a daily basis, the way full-time learners do. While my job involves learning new things, it’s not like being in school full time, where every single day the primary goal is to learn something new. Build on what you learned yesterday, twist it around to look at it from another angle, internalize it. Learning is (or should be) a state of mind. It’s a way of living your life and I find it beautiful and fulfilling. These days, I learn something in the course of my workday about once a week. I learn something truly exciting to me, something so brain-bustingly fascinating that I think about it for hours, maybe every couple weeks or if I’m having a dry run, months. If I were to win the lottery, I would go back to school and never leave. I feel stilted in my life, and I wonder if it’s my career rather than my job that makes me feel that way.

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Beer Can Chicken

Let me introduce you to the joys of cheap, easy chicken. For about $12 (assuming you have spices already) you can prepare a totally awesome dinner for four. Here’s what you’ll need:

beer chicken 3 Read the rest of this entry

Mall Adventures

A few days ago, I picked up my beloved laptop to find the battery was popping out on one side. The MacBook apparently has a history of swelling batteries. I spent a few hours trying to figure out if it was safe to keep using,  and whether or not I could get a free replacement as part of some recall.  I’ve always taken exceptional care of my laptop battery. I discharge it once a month and otherwise try to run it off battery power about a quarter of the time. I expected it would eventually fail, I just didn’t expect it would fail in such an obviously bad way.

From everything I could find (which wasn’t very official because Apple’s website had no sign of my serial number) Apple’s in-store support could sometimes replace batteries even though Apple doesn’t officially acknowledge that the 17″ MacBook Pros have a problem with batteries swelling. So I made an appointment with one of the in-store support personnel, who may or may not have been of above average intelligence. His name was Rob, and his basic attitude was, “Yeah, that happens. It means the battery is failing. You should replace this for $129.” He didn’t seem terribly concerned that it might swell into my track pad or memory, nor did he say those things would be replaced by Apple if their battery damaged it.

I am grumbly about it, but rocking out on my new battery at least.

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