Each year our office holds the official “Holiday Snack Party”. Everyone brings in their favorite holiday snacks and we slip into sugar induced comas, while our customers wonder why we don’t answer the phone. Today was the party. Typically every year we have far too many sweets. I try to balance it out with a savory offering. Historically I’ve always provided a warm spinach/water chestnut/bacon dip with a cayenne kick. I guess I forgot it was my “tradition”. No one reminded me it was "tradition" until AFTER I arrived at work today. *sigh, big help guys!* Instead I made “Many mini-Frittatas”.
Have I mentioned I’m an over-achiever? And sometimes badly judge how much I “need to supply" vs. what I’m “required to supply". Yeah, that would be me. I’m sure my neighbors think I’m running a catering company on the side in my “spare” time. Instead of sticking to the easy, “Swiss Cheese and Ham” Frittatas, I had to add “Bacon, Onion, and Cheddar Cheese Frittatas”, “Goat Cheese, Shrimp, and Cucumber Frittatas” and “Salsa Frittatas” to the offering. Variety is the spice of life, right? (and the root cause of mental illness too, I suspect!)
I will admit the Swiss Cheese and Ham were AMAZINGLY easy. (Dice Deli Ham, and Swiss Cheese, snip chives, mix in a bowl. Season with black pepper. Spoon into mini-muffin tins, fill with beaten eggs, cook! Thank you Rachael Ray) Of course I forgot the Chives and think I’ll dice up some jalapeno or Poblano chilies next time I make them. The next "most easy" were the "Goat Cheese, Shrimp and Cucumber Frittatas" (Entirely dreamed up by ME!). I think they’re more “girly” and weren’t such a big hit in the office. But in the summer or for a spring party? Look out! (Finely dice cucumber, chop peeled pre-cooked shrimp, use crumbled goat cheese, and add pepper). If I would ever consider pre-cooked bacon, the bacon/onion and cheddar cheese (also dreamed up by me) would have been easy-peasy too! Finally, the salsa ones will only be easy if I succumb to jarred salsa. Roasting the tomatoes, peeling them, roasting the Poblano chilies, dicing the onion and the cilantro was a bit of a project this morning. (idea courtesey of guess who?)
The first week in December the Circle I belong to went out for our annual Christmas Dinner. It was followed by our Adult Sunday School Christmas Party that weekend. At the dinner several ordered entrees that came with a Scalloped Gorgonzola Pasta dish. (Which is just a snooty way of saying Bleu Macaroni and Cheese.) They all raved over it. I just happened to have some Gorgonzola Cheese sauce sitting in my refrigerator from a previous dish. I made some more, cooked some rotini, grated some lemon zest and nutmeg into the cheese sauce, stirred it all together, dumped it in a casserole dish and topped with freshly made buttered bread crumbs and more cumbled Gorgonzola. I didn’t think it was quite perfect (seeing as I didn’t follow a recipe and just “threw” it together at the last minute) however I realized someone really liked it when they confessed to going back for 5 (yes 5 servings) although they said they were very, very, small servings!
Last week there was a repeat of “Dinner with 4 Gay Men”. Although not at my house. May I tell you? Very, very pleasant evening – once I got over the aspiration of Christmas decorations on every available surface.
I was elected to bring the salad. I’m sure by now you realize an ice-berg salad out of a bag with bottled dressing had no chance, right? I asked a friend for some suggestions – and then did something entirely different! (Hello, my name is Contrary!) This salad met several objectives for me. It was colorful, it was fairly cheep (do you know how much you can spend on salad fixings?), and had unique ingredients. Here’s the run down. 2 cups shredded Napa Cabbage. 2 cups shredded red cabbage, 1 cup thinly sliced apples (they called for Breaburns, I used NY Honey Crisps). 1 cup spicy pecans, (one time I substituted sunflower seeds), ½ cup of dried cranberries (it called for sweet cherries, I just CAN’T follow directions). The spiced pecans were really simple. Melt butter in a sauté pan, stir in nuts, warm. Add brown sugar, Worcestershire Sauce and cayenne! Mix until bubbling, poor onto foil and let cool. The dressing was Dijon Mustard, Cider Vinegar, Seasoned Rice Vinegar, whisked with olive oil.
The salad was such a hit I also took it Friday when I helped a friend decorate for a Christmas party they were throwing on Saturday. It showed up again Saturday night for the party, and on Sunday I took it to a pot luck lunch. (Thankfully all containing different people!)
I finally finished reading Neil Gaiman’s, “American Gods”. I am not much of a Science Fiction reader, but I am trying to broaden my horizons. I think I’m just too grounded on earth and attached to the “everyday” to become a successful Science Fiction devote. An author who I enjoy, Joshilyn Jackson, is a huge fan of S/F. (If you’re like me, you’d think “Science Fiction”, “Sci Fi”, and “S/F” would all be the same things. We’d be wrong, I’ve been informed. However I am going to use them interchangeably, pardon my rudeness!) She highly recommended I give “American Gods” a chance. Another friend had the book, so I plunged in. Here’s the thing you need to know. I pick my books based on how thick they are. The thicker the better. (Hmmm, nope, just going to leave that sly innuendo alone).
This book fit the criteria. It was very well written. Complete sentences, well thought out characters, several stories within the plot, and good writing. I just kept thinking however, “Oh my god, is it EVER going to end?!” Not because it was so long, or it was dragging, but because it took me so long to read it! That protracted reading can be blamed on my writing (who knew it would take up so much of my time?), and this stupid, crazy, ok community I’ve stumbled onto.
See? One of the reasons I like reading is because I’m an eavesdropper. I want to listen into everyone’s conversations and thoughts. Now I’ve found a forum to do this on-line. It is wreaking havoc with the reading of books, and papers, and magazines people! As one of my friends pleaded yesterday, “Can you all just quit being so witty and interesting?” I’d be getting so much more done, if you would! Including finishing “American Gods” more quickly.
Back to the book; the book was good. It would have been MUCH better I suspect if I’d ever read any mythology – besides what was presented in Saturday morning cartoons. It’s set in Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin. County I’m not familiar with (well except the boot heal of Missouri where cotton grows), so it was fun to experience new topography. And did I mention it was about mythical gods? All of it. The whole time I knew I was missing huge segments of the story. (Did I go look up any of the gods? No, I did not. I shall commence the self-beating shortly.)
"American Gods" was not part of the reading for the Sci/Fi Group I've joined. I'm sure they wonder why I joined since I’ve now NOT read two of the books. (I've been attending for three months and made two meetings! Go me!) I mainly blame my lack of preparedness on the books. They weren’t easy to come by – or I was lazy, take your pick. The first month I attended "we" read “Starship and Hiku”. This month "we" read “A Scanner Darkly”. Next month we’re reading, “Snowcrash”. I’ve already ordered it from the library. I will read this so I can discuss. And learn to love it damn-it!
My other book group met this week too. This group only reads “Southern Fiction/Non-Fiction or books by authors born in the south. Sometimes if you whine enough they’ll consider someone who’s MOVED to the south. This month’s pick was, “Being Dead is No Excuse. The official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral”. No one but me read it. I read it this summer while I was on the 42 day tour of cotton fields. I thought it was too funny. Especially since I spend so much time in/near Greenville, Mississippi – the setting of these stories. Since we couldn’t talk about the book we talked about each other – and our co-workers, and parents over some great Italian food. Still it took time away from my writing. So now you know. Reading, writing, surfing, gabbing – not a practical combination.
Why do plants insist on needing water? I think it’s highly inconsiderate of them to advertise themselves as “low maintenance” and then wither and die on me because I don’t water them.
“Yes, I’m talking to you, Mr. Cactus!”
I’m sure I’ve watered you at least three times since I returned home in September. It’s not like I’ve totally forgotten you. Why I even stuck that rod in your pot as you started to lean over! How I was I to know it was because you were parched? I thought it was because you were “top heavy” or “out-growing” your pot. I planned to move you to another container – sometime. And now your friends, Mr. Ponytail Palm and Mr. "I Don’t Know What You Are" Palm are starting to look “peaked” too! I’m warning them right now. I’m impervious to wilting. Drooping will not encourage watering. Stop looking at me like that! And hey you, Mother-in-laws tongues! No fair getting all rotty because your feet are wet. You should be sharing your moisture with Mr. Pony Tail and Mr. IDNWYA Palm. Clearly “someone” is going to have to change their ways.
*sigh* Okay you win. Tomorrow you get ice cubes – no matter how late I’m running for work. Shessh, now you know why I don’t have a pet.