Thursday, February 22, 2007

Blown away

It is freakin' windy today! And of course, it is recycle day. What used to be the contents of recycle boxes is now flying around everywhere, piling up against houses. Or swirling in the street. Or getting mired in squishy muddy snowbanks. Ew. Ew ew ew. I hate when that happens. The truck will go by and dump what remains in the bins, but nobody picks up the stuff that flew out and down the street. The city looks like a garbage dump afterwards. Until it snows, and it is all covered up and looks clean and fresh again. Until the spring thaw, and we get to see the damp, dirty, mildewy glory of it all once again. Nice picture, eh? I got chilled picking DD up from school, which is hilarious because it is tens of degrees warmer today than it had been not long ago, and we spent hours out in that. And yet, there it is. So here I sit, wrapped in a blanket with slippers on and hot cup of tea and my nose and hands are still freezing. I have had several suggestions to cuddle with Ruby but she is in a mood right now and refuses to snuggle. If I try she either bites me, pulls my hair, or runs to get a toy so I can throw it. I am not in the mood to touch a wet squirrel toy, thank you. I tried to get DD to burrow into the blanket with me on the couch, but forget it. Usually she is a cuddler too, but she had better things to do (playing with clay at the moment). The cats are willing to climb under the blanket with me, but Xena is an elbow licker and bites. Jasmine drools. I can't win. The smell of fresh baking bread is starting to work away at that chill, however. Have you ever tried a product called kefir? Kefir is a fermented, cultured milk product that has been described to me as akin to a thin, drinkable yogurt. Yogurt is good for the digestive tract but the flora don't stick around long. I was told that the beneficial flora from kefir actually stay and populate. Being as what I call "dyspepsia" has been a problem lately I thought, what the heck. What could it hurt? What could it hurt indeed. Now, don't get me wrong. I have somewhat of an open mind when it comes to trying new foods. I have eaten sprouts I grew myself, chilled barley water and told myself it was iced tea, and tvp is my friend. But milk beer with bits of slime (kefir grains, apparently) is too far out for even me. It smells strongly of yeast. It is fizzy and tart. I could not get past the feeling that I was drinking somebody's sourdough starter on a bar bet. "I can add it to a smoothie" thought I. Yes, add it to a conglomeration of blueberries, plain yogurt, ice cubes, and some soy or rice milk. That will drown out the taste and smell of ANYTHING. Make a mental note, that I don't like creamy blueberry frozen soy beer either. Bleah. Armed with more than half a container that cost almost a car payment, I did a net search to find some other use that did not involve drinking this stuff. Ah, so, I was not far off in the old "sourdough starter" comment. It can be used to raise dough. So. Last night I mixed the rest of the container with enough flour to make a paste and let it sit overnight. This morning I added more flour to the bubbly mixture, as well as a small amount of proofed yeast (just in case). Let it rise, kneaded in more flour and let rise again. Punched down, shaped, and one final quick rise before baking. One round loaf that ended up looking like a football (and would have been bigger but DD helped me a little when I wasn't expecting it LOL) and formed the other into a foccacia/pizza shape, brushed with yolk, and sprinkled with nigella seeds. A good bake in a hot oven, and BREAD! Bland bread ROFLMAO. I forgot to add salt. However, I have found that the loaf is good for soup dipping and the flat loaf is excellent with cream cheese, hummous, or dipping oils. Oh, and if anybody tells you that nigella seed tastes like onion? Run for the hills. It tastes more like oregano than anything, and because of the shape and size your mind expects sesame seeds and each bite is a bit of a shock before you get used to it. I have boggled my entire family that I made bread - without a recipe. Would I buy kefir again to make bread? Probably not. I didn't notice any distinctive tang or anything. I think I'll stick with yeast - and just start eating more live yogurt!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Three at a blow

I have no less than three laptops going, and I am not getting everything done. THREE. Something is going to have to give, between home and work, and I think it is going to be my mind. This weekend I mostly worked and cooked and did laundry. I think I went pee a few times and distantly remember standing on a hill in the freezing cold while DD went sledding, but mostly it was work and cook. And clean the kitchen. I am not sure what to do. My job is killing me. Basically, I am doing THREE managerial position jobs. I am getting paid salary based on forty hours per week (which is a laugh, I have never worked only 40 hours) and don't get paid for overtime. My manager is basically hiding from me. I haven't heard from him since January. My calls go to voicemail, my email messages go unanswered. I know why. I am flying under the budget radar YET AGAIN and he wants to keep it that way. But as I said, something is going to have to give. A raise won't cut it, the stress alone is making my hair fall out and I have constant heartburn and chest pains. This is not good, people. This city is facing some devastating losses and job cuts (automotive industry is the main employer around here. And if you don't work directly for Ford, Daimler-Chrysler, or GM then you probably work in a feeder plant that supplies parts to them). Nobody is hiring because everybody is on "freeze". You don't want to expand your business if there will be nobody working and able to shop there in a few months, know what I mean? Back to the grindstone.