hollymath: (Default)
I stood up from the table with my empty bowl*, and before I'd even reached the kitchen, before I had made any discernable noise, I heard the soft thundering that indicated the dog was running down the stairs.

He scampers over if he's in the room and sees me standing up after a meal, having been taught to expect scraps then (though these are more common from Andrew than me, since he eats meat and somehow more things that can be scraped off the plate onto a little dog's food), but I'd never known him to run downstairs for them. This might partly be explained by the fact that he's not usually upstairs when we're both home, to be fair, though it was about the time he's been heading for bed lately.

But even so, how could he possibly know I was heading for the kitchen with an empty bowl?! I'd only taken a couple of quiet steps.

Then we're also talking, here, about a dog who has been known to hear the noise of me setting a block of cheese on the kitchen counter and come running down the stairs from where he'd been asleep. Cheese is his favorite, and somehow he can tell from another floor of the house, while asleep, that it's that thing and no other I've just gotten out of the fridge.

* Previously full of noodles and carrots and "chicken" and a miso ginger sauce I made from a recipe and found rather disappointing: even with lots more ginger than it called for it wasn't enough ginger, and too much miso for my tastes, but it was edible and I'll try it again with some tweaks.
hollymath: (Default)
The joys of poly: When your boyfriend double books himself for your visit, you can hang out with his other girlfriend instead.

This is what happened to me anyway, on Saturday. Jennie and I had a great time: poured some wine, put on the telly to a cooking program that was showing some Yorkshire puddings just about to go into the oven, so of course we had to watch it to find out what they did wrong ("Lots" was the verdict). And they made white chocolate cheesecake with amaretto-infused raspberries, which made us want amaretto-infused raspberries... And then somebody made dauphinoise potatoes, so we wanted dauphinoise potatoes...

And so our dinner menu was set: some kind of protein (we ended up with Quorn kievs), dauphinoise potatoes, and...cranachan for dessert because we bought cream for the potatoes anyway and whisky was cheaper than amaretto.

We went shopping for ingredients, came back and drunkenly cooked it all and it was great.

I found out I have a kitchen skill that neither Jennie nor Mat had! I'm so used to them knowing things and having a kitchen full of cool gadgets...but neither of them ever peels vegetables so I peeled the potatoes. Probably the very first goddam thing I learned how to do! But with a peeler usually, not with a knife, and they didn't have a veg peeler because they never peel anything. Jennie was impressed at how quickly I managed to peel the potatoes and frankly so was I, considering the combination of being a person using a very sharp knife who's used to lots of tactile feedback while I'm doing this with a peeler, and the fact that I'd already had one glass of wine and when I say "glass" I mean "size of a fingerbowl"...

We watched most of a Miss Marple with Jennie doing her usual commenting on the costumes which I love because it tells me all kinds of things that I won't see or if I do won't know why they work or don't (like the way the servant was wearing a badly-fitting dress to show she was lower-class, while the posh lesbian she was standing next to (we were on a lookout for the lesbians too, as you always get those in Agatha Christie) was wearing perfectly tailored clothes.

Apparently the friend that James was out with told him that Interstellar was a better movie than 2001 because it was more intellectual, or something. So I was convinced we'd had the better evening.

Oh but then there was this commercial. I was busy counting up change to see if I had enough money for more wine at the time, so I was paying even less attention than usual, but I heard someone say "I lost my sight when I was fourteen..." so I looked up in what you might call professional interest and I must say I wasn't expecting a soap commercial but that's what I got (I think it was this one? but I went from not paying attention to it to yelling at it pretty quickly, so I'm not sure...oh yeah, and I'd already had some wine by this point).

Because I have a little cadre of blind friends on Twitter these days -- it's great; all women, too -- when I mentioned this there some of them said they'd talked about the same thing. The consensus was that none of us liked it: it "played the 'super sense' card," this misconception that blind people's other senses somehow improve to compensate for the lost one (they don't...we might learn to pay attention to them more, but we don't do anything that others couldn't, and it's not magic; it is huge in spoon costs). One said "It's not inclusive if they're fetishising us," and that's what this felt like: the person with special super senses was being consulted to give the ultimate verdict on what the best body wash is and she has spoken!

Jennie and Alisdair even questioned whether the woman was blind, which she is but I don't blame them because it seemed so false, not at all like what I'd expect blind people to talk about. Maybe it's just the people I know but when the blind people that I know get together (either IRL or on twitter), we talk about uncommunicative sighted people, inaccessible transport...and normal stuff, like our kids or hobbies or other people we know. I'm not saying this means no blind person thinks
My hands give me all the feedback that a sighted person would rely on their eyes for, so I navigate the world by touch. When I’m walking around a store I pick up every garment – I’m feeling the fabrics, the textures and the shapes. And colours aren’t about what they look like anymore. Blue became more about how my fingers feel running through water, and the colour green is more about the smell of freshly cut grass, and the feeling of it under bare feet.
But that just seems...like a sighted person's idea of what being blind is like? (That's not from the ad, but it's from "Molly's Story" on the Dove website, which I found when googling for the commercial.) It doesn't mean anything and it doesn't sound right; it sounds like marketing-speak. And even an authentically blind person can be given a daft script to read out. I mean, the pull quote is "I might have lost my sight, but I have not lost my ability to experience beauty in the world," ffs.

I think the last word on it from my new Twitter chum [twitter.com profile] bigpurpleduck was "I mean, fair play to her making some money out of it. But I don't like this at all. Dove are using us, and peddling misconceptions."


Jul. 15th, 2017 01:25 pm
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Did that thing where I made enough food for two meals, then ate it all because it was so tasty.

Ginger, garlic, chili flakes and orange juice blended together for a sauce added to quorn chicken pieces. With sugar snap peas, red pepper and noodles.

All gone now!
hollymath: (Default)
So I had some ginger that really needs using.

And a lime...

And I thought, what do I want that I can make with lime and ginger in it?

So naturally, I thought of rum.

I googled and found a recipe for something to make at a cocktail party, but I just made it myself. Cilantro! What a good idea.

Of course, when I say I made it I don't mean I followed the recipe. I didn't have quite enough sugar, I probably had too much ginger (because it needed using up), my rum bottle was emptier than I thought so there wasn't quite enough... but it still tastes great.

And since I swapped all my potatoes and onions in the veg box this week for salad veg (and prayed for good weather! what I've got is perfect), I made a big salad for my dinner: last week's lettuce which still needed using, ridiculously fresh and tasty red pepper, cucumber, sugar snap peas (which I always get excited about when the seasonal veg box brings them to me), homemade croutons and dressing. With a Quorn-chicken fillet sliced over the top.

It all just tastes so nice, and it reminds me of how shamefully recently I wouldn't have made salad dressings or croutons and just wouldn't have eaten like this at all. I didn't grow up with any of this kind of food.

I've been thinking a lot lately of everything I struggle with or don't know how to do; it's nice to be reminded of some things I have learned.
hollymath: (Default)
Had a nice time with [personal profile] po8crg and one of his co-workers, going for a drink and then a delicious Italian meal for his birthday. We talked about everything from Usenet to foods missed from the U.S. (where [personal profile] po8crg's co-worker had lived for several years) to the difficulty of learning French.

I made some progress in my determination to like tomatoes! (I did this same thing for mushrooms a few years ago, and for the same reason: they so often turn up in vegetarian dishes, if I don't have to avoid them it really increases my options. I used to detest mushrooms and now I love them, so I'm hopeful something similar could be possible with tomatoes too.)

The veggie starter on the set menu was bruschetta, and it arrived as a pile of halved tiny tomatoes on toast. Possibly it was the sweetness of such tiny things, possibly it was the single glass of wine I'd had so far, but I ate them without any problem! I am ridiculously pleased with myself.
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I just saw something on facebook about Water Aid trying to encourage people to drink only water for the month of January. "Had one too many?" it asks, making broad assumptions of shared culture.

It makes me laugh, because I might be the only person I know who looks forward to Christmas finishing so I can get back to rich food and strong flavors and alcohol and indulgence and all the things I'm getting back just when everyone's supposed to want to give them up!
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I made not-perfect but perfectly-serviceable hollandaise sauce and had it with spinach and toast and more eggs. I am well impressed with myself for how it turned out, considering I'd never even (as far as I can remember...) separated an egg before. This is something I remember my mom always hating on the rare occasions she has to do it, which had put me off bothering to try, but I got my three egg yolks with no problem at all. Perhaps just beginner's luck, or maybe it's just another of the differences between U.S. and UK eggs. But even if so, the recipe made more sauce than I need so it'll be a little while before I need to worry about this again.


Mar. 18th, 2015 09:20 pm
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My sore throat (sinusitis again, argh) wanted me to eat mashed potatoes tonight. But I don't really like potatoes (as the fact that I have more piling up from my veg box than I thought I did!), so to make them more enticing I added garlic, cheese and apples.

Yum. So good. I will do this again.


Oct. 14th, 2014 09:29 am
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This is, for Buzzfeed, a surprisingly good representation of my experience as a vegetarian. And very topical: just the other day I was saying how my father-in-law, whenever he sees me eating anything, says "That looks like it'd be nice...if it had some bacon with it!" (cf. #19( And I was in a french restaurant which has utterly amazing food but only one vegetarian main a day so on Saturday I had to order something with courgettes (zucchini) in it, which I really don't like, and as the waitress took away my half-empty plate she said "Did you not enjoy your fritatta?" Bah; don't judge me, lady. Anyway, I'd filled up on the red cabbage my dining companions had generously given me, from the communal plate of vegetables in the middle of the table.

#1 (When everyone with you at a restaurant is trying to help you figure out what to order) I actually don't mind at all. It's never been as necessary as in aforementioned French restaurant, where I literally cannot read the menu because it's written in such a strange font, but often people -- [livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours is particularly good at this, and so is [personal profile] magister will check the menu posted outside a restaurant and read out a few things to me, to make sure I'm okay with my options before we even go in the place, even though I almost always am (and on the day of the courgette-only dinner, James even asked if I wanted to go somewhere else, which was sweet but I knew he particularly liked the place and we'd already reserved a table and everything so I didn't mind staying but I thought it was a nice gesture. I don't mind having the veggie options on the menu read out to me, but I suspect that's largely because I'm a) slightly blind and b) lazy.

#3 The only thing missing from his pie chart is "I don't eat a lot of meat myself, actually." I've had that bizarrely often. I wonder if this is a defense mechanism against self-righteous vegetarians or some kind of guilty-conscience thing about how vegetarianism is more "healthy." I don't get it, but anyway I desperately hope I am not seen as a judgmental vegetarian -- I do find the smell of cooking meat increasingly unpalateable, but certainly don't feel sorry for cows or anything, because I've met cows, and my impetus for stopping eating meat was entirely practical originally, though I'm glad to not be dependent on a source of food that's as expensive to me and to the planet as meat is.

#6 (Family members who don't get it.) Obviously I think my family is a bit extreme (though my mom is getting better; I think how long I spent in the bathroom before we could start playing a board game, and how miserable I looked when I finally emerged, and Andrew having explained in the meantime how sick I get when I eat meat, has made an impression on her: she now buys cheese pizzas when I'm coming to visit).

#10 You’re constantly torn between not wanting to derail everyone’s fast-food desires and knowing you’re just not going to be able to eat anything. Oh hell yes. Luckily it's a bit better in Britain than in the U.S., because here most takeaways have a veggie option (unfortuantely, that option is very often chips, which...if someone told me there was a chip shortage and I could never eat chips or french fries again for my whole life, I wouldn't be even remotely sad about this). My friends are awfully nice about this, but I do feel bad anyway because I was raised to never be an inconvenience to anybody.

#14 (When the token vegetarian entree is just a pile of roasted veggies, and you have to pay $18 for it anyway.) On their last night in London, my parents chose an expensive chain steakhouse. They paid for my dinner and I still felt horrible eating vegetables that cost sixteen quid.

#17 Actually, that's the face I reserve for the fish market in the Arndale centre. Even walking past outside it makes me a bit queasy. I never liked fish that much, though, even when I ate meat; a childhood of having it forced upon me on Fridays sucked any joy from the experience.
hollymath: (Default)
Ever since I met Andrew he's been going on about how great English cheeses are, one of which I'd only ever heard him whinge about how you never see it any more. I had never seen it at all.

Until the other day.

So I had Sage Derby on my sandwich and it was delicious. Especially with the beetroot. (I love that beetroot is one of the salad options at Czerwik's.)
hollymath: (Default)
I always forget that, after a couple of days here, I'm just hungry all the goddam time.

There's no protein here, except in the meat I have to eat which makes me sick, but there's hardly even any vegetables. The only one I've had since I've gotten here is corn on the cob.
hollymath: (Default)
So yesterday people are turning up for the wedding feast/party and milling about with drinks and such (I have now tried Pimms! it just tasted like cucumbers...) and I find myself close enough to where [personal profile] magister is standing that I hear my name so wander a bit closer and find him laughing at something someone-I-can't-remember-who-it-was said. She explains to me that she was just telling him "we'll have to get you married off", so I hide my startled open mouth behind my hand, but can't keep from giggling, and the more I think about it the funnier it gets and it takes a while for me to stop laughing.

We hadn't really thought about how this poly thing might complicate things. I only got told once that I'm probably called Janice (close enough...) and that I live in Brighouse, but people seemed to have the rough idea that we lived together and have been together possibly longer than we have. James rightly didn't want to scandalize or confuse his relatives on a day that was supposed to be about his sister, and it wasn't really a problem, but that 'we'll have to get you married off" line is still making me giggle for so many reasons.

This is the second wedding I've been to since my own and the first one I enjoyed. Probably not being invited to The Actual Wedding helped. But also enough time has passed now I think that my own doesn't make me so sad any more (I'm happy I'm married, but everything about my wedding was miserable and I hated it). I was a little wistful hearing the father-of-the-bride speech, but I realized this is more because I couldn't imagine my dad doing anything like that. I'm mostly content with the alternatives that choice and circumstance have led me to, but sometimes I I do get a twinge of longing for convention.

Then we raised our glasses in a toast to the bride and James jogged my elbow just as my glass touched my lips, sprinkling cider (we were using a lovely dry fizzy cider for champagne) all down me and, worse, making me laugh which caused more ripples in my drink that sloshed onto my borrowed posh clothes and up my nose. Yes it would be nice to do everything "right" but that's never gonna be me, and at least I was laughing.

The food was amazing. My hopes were not high when I found out it was a hog roast, but everything else was vegetarian, and there wasn't a thing I didn't devour --lentils and beetroot, new potatoes with chili flakes, green beans with some very light orangey dressing, butternut squash with a bunch of lovely stuff I don't remember (everything was really well labeled but I couldn't see the labels so James read stuff out for me and I basically forgot everything immediately after I was told), including some kind of actual nuts. And gorgeous moussaka! If aubergines were always like that, I wouldn't have to work so hard at trying to like them (I taught myself to like mushrooms cos they're in so much veggie food and that worked so well I'm now trying courgette and aubergine, with less success so far). I basically ended up eating two platefuls because James gave me his and went back for more moussaka.

Oh and our table won the quiz, much to my astonishment (not least because James, who set it, was told by his mother to fix it so someone (I can't remember who but I think it might have been the person who called me Janice) won because he'd put a lot of effort into it). We might have been at something of an advantage what with the bridesmaids being at our table so they could answer all the "how did the lovely couple meet?" kind of questions. I wasn't even paying attention because, never having even met them before, I knew I'd be useless. But my ears pricked up at the first line of Pride and Prejudice and then there was a question about Jane Eyre and the bridesmaids (and, I think, partner of one of the best mans) were dead impressed with me for knowing these things. They said if we won it'd be down to me, and indeed no one else wanted to take the wine and chocolates home so I've got them.

I had a nice drunken conversation with the Australian bridesmaid, who seems to live some kind of complicated bi-hemispherical lifestyle, about how hard, but also nice, it is to have two places you belong. James's sister said at breakfast this morning that I'd apparently made a good impression on her, which really surprised me because it turns out losing my inhibitions only makes me talk a lot of depressing garbage these days (well, it still makes me want to kiss girls too, so there's hope for me yet), so it's nice if baffling to hear that I wasn't too off-putting anyway.

I needed a brilliant weekend, to get me through the week now ahead of me. I'm glad I got it.
hollymath: (Default)
I have had a rubbish day, mental-health wise. Also a sinus headache.

So I'm in extra need of reminding myself of nice things.

1. I braved my inbox, applied for jobs, and caught up on a bit of Plus work. I did all these things half-assedly, and they all need a lot more work, but half an ass is better than no ass, right?

2. People were really nice when I said on Facebook that I'd done these things. All I could can think about is how much there is left to do, but some of the best people I know told me very firmly that what I had done was enough for right now. I'm still working on believing them.

3. I'm very glad I have such good people in my life. I'm particularly grateful when I cannot believe myself that I have (what I used to call in college) justified the clean underwear I put on today.

4. I basically had a mint chocolate milkshake for my dinner. It seemed to help my sinus headache, as an added bonus to how tasty it was.

5. Cosmos is on Netflix! The new, Neil deGrasse Tyson one that I've heard so much about from North American chums for ages now, all good. And so far it seems to be maybe the first thing I've ever seen that I can really appreciate the high-definition of: until now I could honestly say that in anything I've seen, the HD may as well not be there for all the use it is to me. I shall resist the temptation to stay up all night watching this. Honest. I can go to bed any time I want.
hollymath: (Default)
My chili is apparently good enough that tonight I've had my second "if you needed to marry somebody so you could stay in the country, I'd marry you" offer, which made me smile.

I am of course happily married and don't need to be married to stay here any more (or indeed to make chili for someone!), but that's hardly the point.
hollymath: (Default)
I'm still using up last week's veg box! (And I got this week's today, so this is not good.)

I made pesto with the broad beans, which I'm really happy with (though I might have put in a bit too much garlic, and that's something I never say!).

It's so faffy, skinning the beans, but I like doing it. Reminds me of my childhood shucking peas and husking corn and stuff like that: it smells all green and alive.

Now I need to find something to do with butternut squash! I've got two. I love butternut squash but usually I get them when it's cold and just roast it or make it into soup; I'm not sure what to do now.
hollymath: (Default)
I was already intrigued by the new thing in my Graze box this week, which appeared to be called "Spicy Satay" and clearly had coconut in it and interesting spicy-looking things.

But when I finally got around to eating it today, I noticed part of the name I'd originally missed (white letters on a transparent film lid with coconut flakes underneath is easy to overlook!): it's actually "Holly's Spicy Satay."

I am delighted.
hollymath: (me)
So I made pasta sauce from scratch on Thursday, something I'm embarrassed to say I'm just getting around to at the age of 32.

I know it's stupid, but I don't like tomatoes raw/on their own so I never buy them. I don't consider them an ingredient...even though I love pizza and pasta sauce and chili and curry, I tend to buy those things in jars or else make tomato-free versions of them.

But this week I got some cherry tomatoes in my veg box and I thought oh fuck it, let's just do this.

I used their recipe because I've had really good luck with them. Some of the Abel and Cole recipes (peanut butter noodles, balsamic mushrooms, broccoli with lemon and chili croutons, they even taught me how to make the first potato salad I didn't hate but I can't find that recipe there now (that I didn't know it'd disappeared because I never needed to look at it after I'd made it once speaks volumes about how nice and straightforward it was, I think)) have become real favorites of mine. I like that the recipes are fairly forgiving and flexible, which is how I cook anyway: it's always a splash of this and a few handfuls of that and if you don't have this veg then that'd be great or practically anything will probably work.

This time it was "well these mushrooms need using up so I'm putting them all in." Which made for a really mushroomy sauce -- it wasn't quite what I was expecting, but it was nice! I love mushrooms so much I could probably make this sauce without any tomatoes and I'd be happy. It was nice and rich, really chunky, the small tomatoes have least of the acidity that makes my mouth and my stomach unhappy with their ilk, and of course it's a squillion times better than anything in a jar.

I'll definitely have to play around with the proportions of everything. I can now with a little more confidence experiment because I know I can basically do this. And that makes me really happy. Even if I feel like I'm coming really late to this party.
hollymath: (Default)
1. Tea with soy milk. I started buying soy milk because I live close enough to friends who drink it. And Andrew only has muesli for breakfast and drinks milk or coffee with lots of milk in it, so it's nice to be able to have tea or Shreddies without worrying about whether he'll have enough milk for his mandatory coffees. But I found that I am actually starting to prefer soy milk in my tea. A friend determined to go vegan after seeing a documentary about how livestock are treated said soy milk makes tea taste like digestive biscuits have been dunked in it, and while I wouldn't go that far (possibly just because I don't like digestives), I can see her point.

2. Strange Days Indeed by Francis Wheen, the book I just finished, which taught me that however weird and scary and depressing and grim life in Britain or America seems, it's still got a long way to go before it's as bad as the seventies. I didn't know much about either America or Britain, and I really enjoyed it. Casting about for what to read next; as usual I'm thinking but I want more of that!

3. Hanging clothes in the early morning sunshine, having just turned on the radio to "Lust for Life," dancing around and soaking up the vitamin D. I got so much done this morning -- the kitchen is clean and there's nothing on our bedroom floor that doesn't belong there! (And then the sun went away and I spent the afternoon lying on the couch watching Mythbusters. I really do not function well without sunlight; I'm the opposite of a vampire.)

4. Lunch in the park with [livejournal.com profile] ejbigred, with salad and falafel from the place [livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours and I used to go to, and sometimes offer the giant falafel to the pigeons, the more ambitious of whom would try to carry away a piece of food bigger than their heads, or else just fight over it. Falafel Death Pigeon, we called it.

5. Walking back from Currybeer with [livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours. Neither of us had been in a few months, and we hadn't walked there as we usually do, for good and adequate reasons. But we walked back as we usually do, tired and happily full of tasty curry (the Karahi saag paneer at Lal Qila is gorgeous) and beer ([livejournal.com profile] diffrentcolours suggests the Otter Bitter just so he can say "Otter Bitter" in his minion voice) and talking about whatever's on our minds. Only when we missed it for a while did I realize what a nice little ritual Currybeer, and the walks to and from, are.
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The two replacements in my veg box this week for things I don't like are asparagus and blueberries.

Two of my very favorite things!

Swapping things I dislike for the best things feels almost like cheating.

I hope everyone feels like the universe is for once unfair in their favor this morning.
hollymath: (Default)
The takeaway Andrew ordered tonight came with onion rings, which he doesn't like, so I ate them.

But I fear all onion rings will be disappointing after the ones I had with my lunch on Thursday in that pub [personal profile] magister took me to in Leeds.

They were made from possibly the biggest onions I'd ever seen ("If Jennie were here, she'd say that's because they were Yorkshire onions," he said), the batter was perfectly crispy and tasty, and they were mere seconds out of the fryer. James said I'd clearly made the right choice in those onion rings (he'd gotten chips) and I told him to have a couple because even though there were only about six onion rings they were more than I could eat. Some of them were as big as my hand!


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