Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday Evening Attitude Adjustment

 This evening, while closing down my computer at work, I foolishly paused to read comments on a story about, I don't know, the Nevada Democratic Primary, I think. It was all about how rotten Bernie Sanders supporters are or maybe about how dishonest Hillary Clinton is. Certainly it didn't fail to bring up the horror that would be a Trump presidency. I then closed everything down, filled my water bottle, and set out on Bessie, with my head full of hate and anger and disappointment and, oh, all those things that one feels if one allows oneself to think about American politics or, for that matter, American policies. I rode to the exit of the parking lot where I saw a) a man standing by his parked car with his iPhone out, b) two semi-trucks stopped in the roadway, c) a car, also stopped, some distance shy of the stop sign in its lane, and d) 27 Canada geese (6 adult and 21 gangly teenagers) gradually crossing the various lanes of traffic. No one, not even the geese, honked. Take that, lousy disillusioned mood.

Photo pending permission of the iPhone photographer to post it. (Because I was too excited to work my own phone properly, and I felt that we'd shared something so I could ask a favor.)

Permission granted

Thursday, May 19, 2016

2 bike everywhere related photos

Because Facebook is a lousy way to keep records:

Multi-modal commuting (miles and trips on the train not included in totals below)

# 6 of 732 participating organizations! And I *still* have a lock on "most trips for fewest total miles"

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Soup, beautiful (asparagus) soup of the evening!

This evening, Wednesday evening, after hard days at our respective offices, Scott and I at last made the asparagus soup that we've been talking about ever since I saw the article with the recipe in the Seattle Times last week. (As I've mentioned elsewhere, a few weeks ago there was a woman hawking Times subscriptions at the QFC and she made me feel so awful for not supporting print journalism that I signed up then and there. I'm not sure how much I'm paying or how to cancel when I feel I've paid enough but this recipe, I tells you, makes it all worthwhile. It was delish. But just disregard that 4 - 6 servings business in the recipe in the link above; we gobbled it all down immediately.)

There are no photos of the first few steps--simmering the "asparagus butts" in the broth and then squeezing the liquids out of the rudely named butts--because, well, I was concentrating on this end of things instead:
Chez Aurora Step One: Consume most of a whisky sour
But after you've finished most of your cocktail and have simmered the asparagus stalks (less tips) in the broth for 25 minutes, you shift that broth to a different container and settle down to sauteing some onion. Scott is a dab hand both at chopping onion and at sauteing it so he handled that portion of things:
Scott deals with the onion. Doesn't the kitchen look nice here?
After the onion is cooked a bit, you add the broth and the tips of the asparagus to the pot to cook for five minutes or so.
I pretend this is high-speed action and not just slow-shutter speed blur.

It's a good idea to have the bread in the oven heating by now and also to have the salads well underway. Otherwise you're just going to be standing over that pot muttering, "How long, oh lord, how long?"

The next step, as one can see here, is consulting the recipe
(And you thought that cocktail was finished ages ago)

and then putting the contents of the pot into the blender (Bethany Jena Clement recommends more than one batch, but it seemed like it would all fit so we did it in one) and then blend briefly:

This is my favorite shot of the whole process and the lid isn't even on yet!

Okay, so that isn't a blending photo but it captures the spirit of things, don't you think? Once the lid was on and I hit the power button, the force of the soup hitting the lid did push it up a bit, and it wasn't as tidy as it could have been. Still, it could have been worse.

After blending, I opted to return the soup to the pot to allow it to reheat a bit after I added the bit of cream (half & half, rather than the whipping cream called for in the recipe because who has whipping cream on hand?) and, after it was pretty warmed up, I added the tablespoon of lemon juice. The lemon juice makes it all so excellent; don't skip it! (I would, however, suggest omitting adding any salt; at least with the vegetable broth we used, there was no need for it.)

You serve it up, nice and hot, with a dollop of sour cream, a few raw asparagus tips, and a few grinds of black pepper. Plus, you know, healthful and nutritious green salad made with lettuce, carrots, and cucumber purchased at your local farmers market, bread from the Tall Grass Bakery, and maybe a small glass or two of red wine:

Seriously, this soup is fabulous and pretty darned easy to make.
Laissez les bon temps (et asperges) roulez!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Saturday Snaps

A hasty photo post while Scott shakes up a few cocktails.

Rampaging honeysuckle
Today was the Xth Annual West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day, and this year there were more than 300 official sales. It also was a rather wet and cool day, dampening our enthusiasm and requiring the sellers to cover up their sale tables with plastic sheeting, etc. many times. Despite the conditions, we eventually set out on our bikes to visit at least a few sales. (It's Bike Everywhere Month, in case you didn't know, and my goal is to be the one on the Mountaineers Books team with the most trips for fewest total miles. I think I've got a lock on that one. And, at least momentarily, I'm in first for the "most total trips" period. That's on my team. Other people on other teams have more than 160 trips so far which is, clearly, crazy. I may not have many standards, but at least I don't consider an 0.1 mile ride to the Little Free Library a "trip.")
Go, Bessie, GO!
So. We hit maybe half a dozen or so official garage sales during our garage sale outing, our late start meaning that some places were happily closed by the time we reached them at shortly after 3:00. My haul to that point wasn't bad: some excellent bits of upholstery cloth, fire tools, a few odds and ends of kitchen items, and a new jacket (purchased at the sale run by a couple of ex-Columbia Sportswear employees who proudly advertised "hardly used outdoor gear and computer equipment," leading us to wonder whether their former employers would be stopping by with the police), but it still didn't feel like exactly "honorable."

Luckily, we came across a few other sales en route to the grocery store later and at these sales I found true yard sale items: old paperbacks, some fancy hangers, and a very heavy birdhouse made of colorful old tiles.
2016 West Seattle Garage Sale Day final haul
One reason for our late start was that we went to see Seattle Shakespeare's production of Romeo and Juliet last night. It's not a play that I ever particularly long to see, but I realized last night that possibly it's a play that I've almost never seen. Certainly Mercutio's "Queen Mab" speech was utterly unfamiliar and quite lovely. Mercutio in general was quite excellent, as was Juliet. Romeo wasn't so bad either. But, seriously, why all the fake deaths and the rest? Why not bundle Juliet off to Mantua with Romeo immediately? Wouldn't that have made a lot more sense?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Waving, not to say not drowning

My cough continues, and the connection to the internet chez Aurora is leaving a bit to be desired just now. Much earlier this evening a Wilson's warbler came by the back yard, leading me to want my camera while I was out there. Needless to say, Mr Wilson then made himself scarce. but since I had the camera and some decent light and the yard, while a bit disheveled, has so much in bloom it's inevitable that I took some photos. Not included in the following are the dark-eyed juncos, American goldfinch, house finch, bushtits, and Anna's hummingbird who all dropped by while I was enjoying the crazy-nice weather. Seriously, I cannot stress enough just how lucky we are to have chez Aurora.

This salvia plant is a few years old now. I've moved it and abused it and it does nothing but thrive. And attact hummingbirds.
What I call "my father's rose." He insisted upon planting it in the shady bed where my mother's ashes were spread. It does surprisingly well.

"I'm ready for my close-up, Mrs Metz." An iris I have no memory of buying and planting and yet I must have done. It's doing pretty well in the overgrown bed that also contains the raspberries that follow.

A volunteer pollnator on the insanely early raspberries. I shifted a mess of raspberry canes from one side of the yard to a corner on the other side of the yard last year and they've gone quite, quite mad. (The yard is so small that the Big Move was a matter of a few dozen feet.)
Some of Aurora's original yellow bearded iris that I separated and replanted a few years back, plus some Siberian irises we've planted more recently. And a big rusty sunflower that caught Scott's eye at the West Seattle Street Fair a few years ago.

The Ruler of it all; Madame Gradka poses in her domain.