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Posts Tagged ‘no one has ever accused me of being a decent photographer’

Since it’s almost Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and time is in short supply for me and possibly for you, I only have a very short post today. It’s a guessing game, really. I am going to post a photo with no commentary (aside from this commentary, which is getting long, but, eh, you know what you’re in for when you visit this blog) and you guess the story behind the photo. And then there will be a little giveaway for people who participate. 

Here’s how the giveaway will work: You can guess until midnight Eastern Time Friday. At some point, probably in December, I will number all the guesses/comments chronologically and randomize them and choose one person, and then I will send that person a little giftie. A very little giftie, and I haven’t decided what it will be: maybe an assortment of little things from Michael’s or Target. Maybe something specific to the winner, if I have any ideas of what the winner might enjoy. Maybe something yummy, maybe something practical, I don’t know. A mystery giftie. I am going to limit the gift-sending to people who live in the U.S. and Canada, however; I’m sorry! I am not confident enough in my ability to mail something to/find an appropriate retailer in other countries. 

If you don’t want to guess, you can still enter the giveaway. Just leave a comment of any sort. And if you want to guess and/or comment, but don’t want to enter the giveaway – which I understand, because the giveaway award is extremely vague even in my own mind – just let me know in your comment. The only stipulation to entering is that you must be willing to share your address with me. 

Then, at some point in the (hopefully near) future, I will tell you the story behind the photo and choose a giveaway recipient. 

Okay. Here’s the photo. And here’s a hint: I took this photo the day before my parents arrived for Thanksgiving.

Happy guessing!

What’s the story behind this photo? (As always, please forgive my poor photography skills.)

It seems as though I am doing NaBloPoMo this month, which is 30 blog posts in 30 days. (Will I make it??? Only time will tell.) Details at San’s blog here.

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We had our first snowfall of the season over the weekend! It started with some big, fat, gently falling snowflakes on Saturday and then by Sunday it was wet, heavy, drenching snow. While I miss the beauty of the fall — especially the gorgeous yellow tree in my backyard neighbor’s yard that leans over our hedges into our yard — the trees had long since lost their leaves anyway, so I am pretty pleased with this introduction to winter.

Since I am not doing Dinners This Week, this week (I did a double last week), I thought I would post some updates about random things.

  • The State of the Ceiling: The plaster expert is gone – after four days in my house instead of the originally-stated two – for good. (I am a little concerned for him, because he told me a lengthy story about how one of his other clients is sexually harassing him. It was a story that I listened to with a Very Serious face, and at the end, I told him, “I am so sorry you are being harassed.” at which point it became clear that he was telling the story in the hopes that I would think it was funny? “I guess I know what it’s like to be a woman now! Har har!” he said, and I nodded very seriously and said, “That must be an eye-opening perspective, although what an awful way to attain it.” He went back to work.) Despite his tendency to talk too much, and about subjects that made me slightly uncomfortable, he did a wonderful job on the ceiling. Here’s a little before and after for you. I’m sorry it isn’t more exciting.
Perhaps I could have made more of an effort to take these photos from the same angle.
  • Vaccines: My husband and Carla are now both boosted! (They each already got their flu shots several weeks ago.) Despite all plans to the contrary, I forgot Carla’s vaccine card at home. SIGH. What IS it with me doing that??? Her doctor gave me a little sticker to put on her card at home, so it worked out okay and I remain the only one in the universe in our family who has three vaccine cards. Carla had a very mild fever and some arm pain after her vaccine. My husband felt pretty crummy the day after his; the same thing I went through, with the skin sensitivity and the aching and the general yuckiness. No fever though. And now we are all boosted! (As are my parents, who are visiting us VERY SOON!!!! Hooray!)
  • The State of My Feet: I continue to struggle with plantar fasciitis. I got a third injection a few months ago that, like the other injections, did nothing. I continue to dabble with things that are supposed to help: wearing my brace, icing my feet, doing stretches, rolling a ball beneath my feet, trying to pick up a washcloth in the shower with my toes (they are incapable of doing this). I have purchased foot insoles and special socks. I bought a new pair of shoes. I have even tried just Powering Through, and walking even though my feet ache. Nothing is helping. No wonder; what I have trouble with is trying a variety of things that a variety of people have suggested, and doing it inconsistently and haphazardly. What I need is A Real Plan. I can follow A Plan! But I need a medical professional to tell me The Plan so I can initiate it. However, I don’t think I can go back to the podiatrist. He seems… overly invested in the injections. The person who referred me to him claims he is a miracle worker, and that he worked with her extensively to fix her own plantar fasciitis, but he hasn’t been quite as attentive to me. He just says, “Let’s try another shot.” I want him – or some other foot expert – to say, “This is what you do. Do these specific exercises in this order, daily for 15 minutes. Wear this brace every day for two hours. Buy this specific pair of shoes and wear this specific insert.” Not, “Oh, well, let’s check back in two weeks and maybe you need another injection.” Speaking of needles: a (different) friend who formerly had plantar fasciitis said that acupuncture had cured her, so I have an appointment with her acupuncturist later this month. My husband is being very supportive. I told him I am excited to try it, and he said he is excited for me. I said, “Do you think it will work?” and he said, “No.” Sigh. We’ll see.
  • Treadmill Desk: My husband bought me a treadmill desk for my birthday waaaaay back in February and I loved it. But then my plantar fasciitis kept getting worse and worse, and I stopped using it. I have every intention of getting back into the habit. Maybe when my feet are in less constant agony. (There will come a time when they are in less constant agony, yes?)
  • The State of My Skin: I read every single comment with great interest. So many great ideas, so much comforting commiseration. My best guess is that, as many readers suggested, the skin thing is a result of age and/or hormones. Which means I probably just need to tough it out. I have definitely had Skin Stuff before, usually precipitated by trying a new skincare product. But it didn’t seem to linger quite as lengthily as this most recent issue. Anyway, the action I took was to put all my faith in NGS’s comment. She said, “I have terrible eczema and I use Neutrogena wipes to clean my skin every night and don’t worry about the environmental cost because any time I’ve changed it, my skin has gone insane.” So I went back to my old, environmentally detrimental cleansing process. My skin has responded quite well. It is no longer unbearably itchy, and the only remaining problem area is a rough rectangular patch of redness between my eyebrows. This does not mean I am going to give up on trying to find a skincare routine that doesn’t involve disposable wipes. I am going to try again – looking to your comments for ideas. But for now, this has been helping to alleviate my misery.
  • Calcium: I still worry about Carla’s calcium intake, and the variety of foods she eats in general. Especially in this busy season of our lives, the majority of her diet seems to be chicken nuggets, peas, and rice, interspersed with tacos and the occasional filet of salmon. I know this isn’t the worst combination of foods, and she is still growing and thriving, but… I would like to expand her diet to include other things. She ate a bowl of snow for breakfast yesterday, but that’s not what I mean by “other things.” One of the issues, it seems, is that Carla doesn’t have a great grasp on which foods include which nutrients. Like… she’ll indicate that she thinks white rice has protein in it, or that eggs contain calcium. I’ve tried correcting her in the moment and talking to her more generally about which foods fit into which nutrient group (and I wrote some lists on our whiteboard of which foods, in which nutrient categories, would be good for breakfast), but it’s not sticking. It might be useful to find some book resources, but I’m having a hard time finding anything that doesn’t seem too young. I’ve ordered Are You What You Eat? from our library, and I might order Good Enough to Eat by Lizzy Rockwell from Amazon. We’ll see if they are useful. 
Why is it that I can never take a photo with the proper proportions so that it looks straight?!?!?!

Are there any topics I’ve raised in the past that you are burning for me to revisit? (LOL.) If there’s something I brought up awhile ago and you’re curious about the resolution, let me know in the comments or on my Ask Me Anything form and I will post about it.

It seems as though I am doing NaBloPoMo this month, which is 30 blog posts in 30 days. (Will I make it??? Only time will tell.) Details at San’s blog here.

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You will wonder, in a moment, why I am calling this “My Take on the TikTok Baked Feta Pasta” when my version has neither feta nor tomatoes in it – two crucial ingredients in the original aforementioned TikTok pasta, the third and fourth being “pasta” and “olive oil.” 

You will likely wonder why I even glanced toward the TikTok Baked Feta Pasta, when I neither have TikTok nor can I stand tomatoes nor do I particularly care for feta. 

And yet, here we are, with me sharing a recipe (“recipe”) for my own version of a recipe I have neither tried nor wanted to try nor followed. 

Perhaps – you might think, trying to wrap your mind around my motives and this post – what appealed to me about the TTBFP is its simplicity. You put a few ingredients in a dish. You toss them in some olive oil. You throw the whole thing in an oven and then, 20 minutes later, stir in some pasta and voila! you have a meal. 

Well, you could be right, except that I went and made the TTBFP much more complicated, eliminating its simplicity right from the get go. 

I think it’s time to stop trying to understand me; I sure don’t, and I’ve lived with me for 40 years. Let’s get to the recipe. (“Recipe.”)

Baked Mushroom & Goat Cheese Pasta

Servings

Approximately three, if each serving takes up about half a soup bowl.

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 4 oz plain goat cheese
  • 1 head of garlic (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic glaze
  • Pasta of your choice (I used cellentani because it is pretty and fun to say)
  • Arugula (optional)

Directions:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with vegetable spray, just because you distrust olive oil’s food-sticking-prevention abilities.
  • Throw your chopped onions and sliced mushrooms into the baking pan. Add salt, pepper, and a couple tablespoons of olive oil and mix it all together with your hands. 
  • Make a small space in the center of the veggies. Nestle your goat cheese right in there. It’s okay if the veggies want to snuggle right up to the goat cheese. 
Wouldn’t you like to snuggle up to a nice goat cheese pillow?
  • If you are using garlic, slice across the top of the whole head of garlic with a sharp knife, exposing some of the cloves. Nestle the entire head of decapitated garlic (how can a head itself be decapitated? I trust you understand.) into a corner of the pan.
  • Drizzle everything with another tablespoon or two of olive oil.
  • Drizzle everything with a teaspoon or so of balsamic glaze. Who’s kidding who here. I did not measure. Just drizzle until you feel like you’re done. I did some sloppy crisscrosses and called it good. 
Glazey crisscrosses!

  • Shove the pan into the oven and set a timer for 25 minutes.
  • Boil some salted water. I don’t know how much; however much you need to cover however much pasta you use. I used half a box of pasta which turned out to be FAR too much pasta, because I forgot how dramatic mushrooms are. They get very hysterical about being baked and shrink to almost nothing. I would say a quarter of a box of pasta would suffice, if you like your pasta nice and sauce-y.
  • Add your pasta to the boiling water and cook it for two minutes under whatever duration the box recommends.
  • When your pasta is done, drain your pasta BUT RESERVE SOME PASTA WATER. I always reserve way more pasta water than I need, just in case. 
  • Check on your pan at the 25-minute mark. If the mushrooms and onions are starting to brown and your goat cheese is resembling a puddle, it’s probably done. I had to cook mine longer than I thought, but I also accidentally turned off the timer at some point and have no idea how long it actually baked. It could have been 20 minutes, it could have been 30. I considered, at one point, turning the heat up to 450 F for a while, to see if I could caramelize the onions a bit more. But I was concerned about how those little drama queens (mushrooms) might react (burning into charcoal).
The goat cheese looked much more melty in person. Also, the mushrooms are being deceptive here. They still seem plentiful. But they are NOT.
Different view of those now much diminished mushrooms.
  • Remove your pan from the oven and marvel in an irritated way at how drastically your mushrooms have shrunk. 
  • Remove the garlic. Use the tip of a sharp knife to dislodge some of the cloves from their papery outfits and add them back to the pan. I used about 1/5 of the garlic, I’d say, because it seemed like an appropriate amount of garlic for the quantity of mushrooms remaining. Plus, I am going to use roasted garlic in some focaccia this week – I have been saying I would make focaccia for a year and I have NOT DONE IT YET, despite wanting to and planning to and even putting it on my meal plan twice, but THIS IS THE WEEK, it is happening – so I saved the rest of the garlic for that purpose. 
  • Stir everything together. Add some reserved pasta water to achieve the sauce consistency you prefer. 
The goat cheese stirs up so nicely. Far better than FETA, I’m sure.
  • Add some pasta to your pan and stir some more. Add more reserved pasta water if you like. 
Are you beginning, now, to see just how FEW mushrooms remain? It’s like half of them took the day off.
This is it. Even with the pasta, it takes up less than half of the pan. Also, it’s not the most photogenic meal.
  • Put your mixed pasta into a dish. If you are so inclined, add a handful of arugula. 
Now it’s pasta salad! No, just kidding. I do think the arugula adds a nice peppery contrast to the richness of the pasta.
  • Drizzle the bowl with more balsamic glaze. Enjoy!

Will I make this again? I can’t honestly say, at this point. It was tasty! And it was filling! The goat cheese makes it super rich and creamy, so one serving was plenty. It was easy! (Though the mushrooms, all on their own, the prima donnas, make it time consuming.) But on the side of NOT making it again, it is so disheartening to spend eight hours washing and peeling and slicing mushrooms only to have them minify in the oven. How is minify an actual word? I seriously thought I was just being lazy, but it has a dictionary entry and everything. I also wish the onions had had a chance to caramelize a bit more. 

If I made it again, maybe I would have to use EVEN MORE mushrooms. And maybe I would cut them into larger chunks. Using more would increase the amount of prep time… but it might also increase my enjoyment? Hard to say until we try. And we may never try. After all, have we learned nothing from the focaccia intentions?

In all, it was fun to try. It was yummy. And now the recipe has been recorded for posterity. 

The end.

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