Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Lists, Plots, and cleaning.

Some people have a list of chores they need done, and mark them off as they are done. Some people have a list of chores done divided per day, so Saturday is laundry day while Wednesday is clean the bathroom day, or something.

Me, I needed more motivation than that. After the injury spent months grinding me down by staring at all the things that need doing and I couldn't do, I've started on a simpler track:

I do things, and make a list of what I have done.

I learned this from a writer, Dean Wesley Smith, who was talking about the artificial divide between pantsers (make it up as you go along, plotting by the seat of your pants) and plotters (have a detailed outline before you write the first word). Most authors aren't actually one or the other, he contends, and there's a wide range of folks who agree that their "plotting" ranges from six bullet points on a notepad that have to be accomplished by the story's end to writing the ending, and then figuring out how to get there, or building a plot, then writing scenes with characters, and as the characters do their own things by their own motivation, revising the plot.

Dean himself plots in reverse. That is, he'll come up with a title, and then write whatever comes to mind, in the style of a pure pantser - but when he's done with a writing session, he pulls out a notebook and notes down who the people are, where they are, and what they did in the scene. After every session, he'll add to that. And if he gets stuck, he'll pull out the notebook, look at the plot so far, and go "Ah! I haven't done anything with that character / plotline!" or "I need to flesh out that character arc." And that'll inspire him on how to go on.

I'm not that awesome. But I can clean in reverse: look around, pick something, and start cleaning. Then clean the next thing, and the next, noting them down as I go. The advantage is that I'm making a growing list of "I got this done", instead of failing to cross out a list of "need to do." So when I become one with the couch in a puddle of very tired and sore shoulders, I can feel accomplished at everything I managed instead of frustrated at what I didn't do.

Hey, works for me.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Rimworld!

For the last few months, OldNFO has been tossing a chapter at a time to us when we come over for dinner (and sometimes, bringing a revised or new chapter when he comes over for dinner.) The story is awesome, even if it's, in his inimitable way, something completely tangential to most Military SciFi right now. Even better, it's now out for sale!

Remember when he had a maintenance tech get stranded because he was too busy setting up the illegal still to notice the evac order? If you don't, he's got the story up for free right now:

https://www.amazon.com/Rimworld-Stranded-JL-Curtis-ebook/dp/B01G7HSBMI/

But yeah, same universe - this time, it's the story of a medically retired ground-pounder who just wants to get to a nice little backwater planet and live a quiet retirement.

Things never work out that way. 

https://www.amazon.com/Rimworld-Into-Green-JL-Curtis-ebook/dp/B071NK39D8/

Friday, April 28, 2017

Tapenade-stuffed Pork Loin

Sams club had artichoke-olive tapenade. It looked nifty, and we were tired and hurting, so it ended up in our cart. (Grocery shopping when hurting is like grocery shopping when hungry; pain definitely erodes my impulse control.) So I was looking at it, and wondering what the heck one does with tapenade besides putting it on baguettes.

Turns out, it's good stuffed into pork loin. I added a little roasted garlic to the jarred mix, and then used about a cup of tapenade on four pounds of butterflied pork loin. (two 2-pound chunks.) Then I coated the top and sides of the pork loin logs with bacon, and secured them with kitchen twine.

See here for a pretty good idea of how I prepped the pork loin.
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=112870

One difference: on top of the bacon, I sprinkled mesquite-smoked salt from Amarillo Grape & Olive. Excellent stuff, and makes up for a distinct lack of charcoal and fire.

Because I don't have a grill, I preheated the oven to 425 F, and cooked them for 40 minutes, then rested them for 10 minutes covered loosely with aluminum foil before carving.

Served with coleslaw and dessert of French silk pie, and everyone was happy. Even LawDog, who failed to object fast enough and got tasked with the twine-cutting and carving. (I distrust myself around sharp objects when past a certain level of tired, and have wonderful friends who don't mind stepping into the breach and making sure everything happens without blood or bandaids.)

Good stuff. Even if you haven't had jars of tapenade end up in your grocery cart, try it out!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Low Carb Coleslaw

Or, what to throw together as a side dish to tapenade-stuffed pork, barbeque, or pepperoni pizza chili.

Low Carb Coleslaw

2 bags pre-shredded coleslaw mix
1/2 red onion, quartered and then thinly sliced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp salt

Mix together, cover, chill for an hour. It won't look like enough dressing at first. Mix again well; the dressing will have pulled water out of the cabbage, onions, & carrot shreds, and made the whole thing much creamier. Serves 8.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Low Carb French Silk Pie

I promised Phlegmmy that I'd compile a recipe that I've drawn from three different sources, so here goes:

Low Carb French Silk Pie

Crust:
1-1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 stick butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix dry ingredients, add melted better and vanilla. Mix into a ball of dough. Press into pie plate in roughly even depth and up the sides a little, bake for 12 minutes. Let cool. (Takes longer than you think to cool; start this early.)

Filling:

16 oz cream cheese, room temperature (2 boxes)
4 Tbsp sour cream
4 Tbsp butter, melted (half a stick)
1/4 cup truvia (or other stevia blend)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp truvia (for whipping cream)
1 tsp vanilla extract (for whipping cream)
1 Tbsp brandy (Van Der Hum, or Blackberry brandy. For the whipping cream.)

Put cream cheese, sour cream, butter, 1/4 cup truvia, 1 Tbsp vanilla extract, cocoa powder, and salt in bowl. On low speed, mix everything together until very well blended, and then beat a little faster to aerate. Rinse off beaters. Check crust - if still hot, pop into fridge to cool off.

In separate bowl, mix whipping cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and brandy until stiff peaks form. Break out a spatula and gently fold the whipped cream into the chocolate batter a third at a time, until the whole mix is creamy, fluffy, and well-mixed. Then scoop into pie crust, and smooth off the top.

Refrigerate - if you're making more than a few hours ahead, cover. Otherwise, just chill and enjoy.

Inspirations:
The crust is an a variation on an excellent crust here: Wicked Stuffed
with chocolate and cinnamon added a la here: CJ Eats Keto
The filling is drawn from here: Ruled.Me

As a note: cocoa powder (and stevia) are bitter. One of the main functions of salt in cooking is to remove bitterness. Many cooks (and recipe creators) don't realize this, and instead try to overwhelm the bitter with sweet. If you're looking to cut sugar (and expensive sugar substitutes), the first thing to do is look at your ratio of bitter ingredients to salt to sugar. In this case, I have removed the sugar from the crust entirely by adding salt, and cut the sugar in the filling in half by adding a teaspoon of salt. The people eating the pie didn't miss the extra sweetness at all; they liked the pie just as is.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Proud, fierce, independent cat

Kili is a loving cat... from two feet away. She likes to be on the arm or back of the couch when I'm sitting on it, or curled up on the other side of the bed when I'm sleeping and Peter's already up. If I'm on the treadmill desk, she's ignoring me in the windowsill nearby.

Every now and then, on her terms, she likes actual contact; she'll climb on my chest, purring, in the middle of the night and settle in happily. Or she'll claim my lap, and I'm just supposed to move my laptop elsewhere and let her sit... but if I try to pet her, I get this look from her, and she vacates to out of touch range. (She's a pre-owned cat from the shelter. Like many pre-owned cats, she has issues.)

But last night, we had a front stall out over the Red River, and the bedroom was brightly lit with almost continuous flashes of lightning. I realized this when I woke up to the light and noise... and found a cat welded between my hip and Peter's side, underneath both our arms. Purring frantically.

Yep, proud, fierce, independent cat... until scared, and then it's all in on finding a way to be practically hiding underneath her humans, where they'll protect her.

Cats really are little women in fur coats!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Way Up North has moved!

If you haven't seen a post from Rev Paul lately, and were wondering where the daily life in Alaska, meditations on Scripture, and Unalaska Police Blotter reports went, he's now at:

mooseintheyard.blogspot.com


If you're not reading him already, go forth and enjoy!