What, exactly, is happening? A: FUCK ALL, but I am writing you anyway. I have two current obsessions, and a third on the back burner.
Noir festival: in real life (downtown at the art museum) it is almost over. At my house, it was cruelly interrupted by a bad case of The Novembers, sickness, and Work. I would call this my backburnered obsession. I would like to finish, though it got increasingly depressing to try to find subs for the dairy that I had allowed into the recipes before I realized that was not a good idea. Perhaps 1950s French cuisine is not for me at this moment in history. (YA THINK, SJ?)
SPEAKING OF WORK, I am on the countdown to being let out of my contract. As I bleated about previously, I am really short on work in any given day and things get boring after 10:30 a.m. or so. However, I am seated smack in the center of the room with the permanent team, prime real estate for being hit in the head or cleavage with Nerf gun bullets, and drooled on by a really cute lab puppy, but not so good for really sinking into writing. This morning I have turned my patio into a conservatory with a banana, fig, and lemon tree using only the powers of my mind palace, Pinterest, and Houzz.
So bored that I asked myself “Can a conservatory be made to look period on a 1950s rambler?” and even considered bothering the nice people at Retro Renovation about this. And then I didn’t, because that would take this insane, stupid notion out of my head and a tick closer into reality.
Second obsession: really good Thai food at home. Thai food was my very favorite food for many years, and I would say a big plate of phad thai was definitely go-to comfort food at times. I got pickier as time went on and has I have lost most of my sweet tooth in the last few years. Catsup-y or too sweet phad thai started seeming pretty gross, if not inedible.
Sadly, I’ve pretty much crossed Thai restaurants off my list for now, on the principle that the more ingredients any given dish in a cuisine has, the more likely I am to get into trouble by some hidden reagent. I’ve been cooking Thai food at home intermittently since college, but it barely seemed worth it since you cannot throw a wedge of lime without hitting a Thai restaurant here, including really good and “authentic” ones. So I decided to dig in here and do it by scratch. And if I am bothering to do it by scratch, why not do it right?
I found this blog, which I love love love. I have gleaned that her husband helps her edit her writing, so I am not sure if it is she who is very amusing, or if he is being liberal. I suspect it’s the former and it’s pretty true to her spirit, since the tone of the blog seems pretty even. I love a chef who is willing to say, “here are some optional ingredients, but get the fuck out with your substitutes.”
I’ve made her authentic phad thai three times now, and it is delicious, and reminds me of my favorite phad thais in town–tangier, not soupy, with pickles in the base and garlic chives. However, all three times it’s made us sick. The fresh ingredients were perfect, so I strongly suspect that it’s the dried shrimp or the preserved turnip. There’s nothing on the label that says it should be making any of us ill (the turnips read “turnips, salt”) but these are imported items and I don’t know if something was lost in translation, or if there was cross-contamination at the factories. I suppose it could be the sauce, but I got bonkers bobo kind.
I think I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on this recipe, and I still love the dish, but next time I’m going to go bananas and pickle my own radishes or turnips and just use little panfried bay shrimps. And make my own sauce. From tamarinds I have picked myself.
PLEASE SOMEONE INVENT FOOD PILLS I AM SO TIRED.
I made her phad see ew (High Heel Gourmet’s note: “It’s so SIMPLE. It’s beyond simple. To me it’s like posting a recipe for a hotdog!”) It was simple. And it made us feel GREAT. We were not sick one little bit. Again with the simplicity and quantity of the ingredients in a dish. (Of course all bets would be off if I ate a giant bowl of polenta or Cream of Wheat or something.)
As an aside (I think we are about balls-deep in asides by now) it is so awesome to make a dish like that and eat really, obscene amounts of it and lay on the floor after and feel kind of stuffed but not look five months pregnant and have heartburn and the stupids. It’s still novel.
Okay THING THREE is the only thing that is saving my sanity at work right now: Answer Me This! As usual I am about six years behind on everything, but I heard them mentioned on 99% Invisible and I was ripe for some new entertainment.
And entertaining it is. I love the premise, too. Three Brits answering questions about anything they are asked. There’s something charming about answering questions in the age where most people just google it, but of course the actual-factual answers are completely besides the point. I have been listening to 4-6 a day, so it is REALLY permeating my consciousness right now, to the point where I have the theme songs and jingles from the show in my head.
One of my favorite things about the show is how often they are willing to answer questions about American culture, and how they are frequently wrong! I have long suspected that there is a thing with Brits that they disingenuously pretend not to know certain things about America, much the way cool theatre kids in the lunchroom pretend not to even know the names of the dumbest, most popular jocks. And sometimes I think it is true ignorance.
I am also delighted about how ungeeky it can be. One of the hosts unabashedly struggled to remember basic plot points of Star Wars on one I listened to recently, and then decided that she really didn’t care that much. There is also a little casual racism on the part of one of the hosts, to which the other two always reply in unison with a horrified “OLLIE!!”
But what makes it really hooky for me, clunkers and blunders aside and forgiven, is the consideration of fine points of etiquette in human relation matters, attention to proper grammar (which I need more of in my life), and of course, a zillion throwaway references to British culture. For those of you who know I kept a Victorian culture blog for a year, it’s probably no surprise I am a huge and unashamed Anglophile, which I make every effort to keep under my hat. There is little that’s worse or more pretentious than an American slinging around uncommon British slang in conversation like it’s nothing.
…Even though sometimes “bellend” is ABSOLUTELY the perfect word for a person. Whooo could I even say this to? At my last job I worked with a completely delightful Brit who I would get into IMs with and found myself translating temps to Celsius like a knob and talking about things like “boot sales.”
Anyway, everyone needs a hobby, right? I have those in spades. I think what I need now is a PAYING hobby, because I have to confess I am so, so weary of the corporate world. I am not weary of cashing the paychecks, though. This isn’t “boo hoo, poor me I have excruciatingly boring marketable skills” (or maybe it is, click away, baby, click away). I just don’t know what to do for the next…40 years. (A: NOT build a conservatory.) I don’t want to wait tables. I don’t want to go back into a sales job. I don’t want to be unemployed. I do want to go back to school, but just to faff around, not to take anything practical.
Last night I sang stupid xmas carols in the car, which normally I am stubborn about and hate, but then I realized that Franny was having a nice time doing it too, and it seemed like a good idea. Family togetherness and all that, since she has finally hit her hermiting from family phase of being in her room 90% of the time (she sent 2000 texts last week; two of those were to me).
P. commented on it in the morning, that he was surprised by the sight of me singing along to Rudolph and never thought he’d live to see me do that. I thought for a moment.
“I just don’t give a shit anymore,” I said. Not enough energy to hate Xmas anymore, and still not enough lifelong ingrained habit to care about it either. Xmas love is not going to just grow in, unless some kind of Saul-to-Paul Donkeybonk Shenanigans occur. P. said something about people caring less about things as they get older, but I don’t think that’s it.
I am having angst–I think I’m back to my midlife crisis again. I feel like I got pulled/pulled myself back from the brink of something after being sick, and now I don’t know what to do with the first day of the rest of my life. Maybe I should start painting again. JUST WHAT I NEED, ANOTHER HOBBY. What color is my parachute? Whining! Argh.