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October 30, 2010


So far, I'm grateful to say, my kitchen experiments have been edible.  I've even managed several cakes and cookies.  Brian and I have been sharing meals back and forth.  He's more interested in heavier meals with it getting colder out, and I'm not very good with big hunks of meat.  I did help to make beef stew in a preparatory sort of way, although the little shallot onions thought it would be funny to attack my eyeballs.  I had tears streaming down my face, and couldn't see a thing through the burning sensation on my eyeballs.  It was totally unexpected, as I'd never had this problem with regular onions!  

I had mastered chicken in a skillet, but wasn't too certain about other types of meats.  Brian had bought a pork tenderloin in anticipation of making it with spaetzle, bread and a veggie, but his rough work schedule this past week made him ask me to do it instead.  I admit to balking and whining.  I know nothing about pork or how it should look, and have never done more than wash a roasting pan, and had almost no time to research.  I squeezed it in after class and an unpleasant shopping trip at Wegmans (oh how I hate that store!  I could rant for quite a few paragraphs about it)  and then Giant to find bread without a peanut allergy warning on it. 

Brian's instructions had been 'throw it in the oven and cook it til it's done.'  This, as my mother well knows, is not a good thing to tell me.  Years ago, when I was a teen, she needed to run out around the time she wanted to put a casserole in the oven.  She had it all made up, left it on the counter and told me the same thing.  'All's you need to do is throw it in the oven, I'll be back before it's done.'  I obediently did so.

I'd like to point out that no mention had been made about removing the saran wrap covering the dish. 

I'm not sure if this event led to my OCD need for detailed instructions or if it was something that I've always required, but I have a need to do lots of research before I attempt to do something.  So upon coming home I rushed straight to google.  It turned out to be a bad idea.  There are lots of pork recipes out there, although a lot of them kept getting mixed up with pork loin recipes, which is a different thing.  Many of the recipes called for a marinade, which I didn't have time to do.  It also took me some time to find a web site that properly explained what a roasting pan was and how it worked.  With pictures, because I wasn't sure how it went together, or if what I had WAS a roasting pan and not something else. 

Eventually, hands still shaking from my Wegman's anxiety attack, I crept down to the kitchen to narrow my search options to cookbooks.  The only consensus I could reach was the oven temperature and the time, and worked myself up to a mental stage where I could, in fact, throw the pig in the oven and cook it til it was done.  Determined to make some sort of effort, I sprinkled it with minced onion & garlic and some thyme and stuck it in the V shaped rack in the roasting pan.  There was other metal bits of the pan that I couldn't figure out where they belonged, so I decided I was going to ignore them.  In went the tenderloin and I started the spaetzle on the stove, with easier directions.

Then, I ran into the thermometer dilemma.  I had forgotten to research how to use it.  Cookbook instructions just said stick it in the fattest part with no bone.  They neglected to say if I should remove the meat from the oven first.  So, again, I winged it.  Other instructions said to give it a slice and if juices ran clear it was ok.  It did, so eventually I stopped fussing.

In the end, Brian got home an hour later than normal so everything got reheated.  It turned out very tender, although a little heavy on the spices, but since I like garlic and onions, I wasn't too concerned.  He ate the rest, even taking some to work for lunch, and neither of us got sick, so I figure the meal was a success.

I hate doing things if I don't know if I can do a good job, and don't feel fully prepared.  I'm very detail oriented, even down to physically measuring out margins on custom stationery and labels.  I get very frustrated at recipes because they don't have the amount of detail that I require.  What kind of oil/butter/salt?  Can I substitute this?  How can I eyeball it, if I don't know what it's supposed to look like in the first place?  What does 'done' look/smell/feel like, anyway?  What kind of cooking utensil should I use?  A baking pan? a glass pan?  What's the difference between a baking pan and a cookie sheet?  Can I switch them?  I won't even get into nutrition here. 

In the end I suspect none of it actually matters and I'm some sort of paranoid control freak.  Maybe I should write a recipe book.  "Cooking Basics for the Confused and Suspicious."
October 15, 2010


I had a wild, crazy inspiration that won't go away. Isaiah Mustafa . . . on a pumpkin.  Sadly, I don't think I have the talent for it, but I did have fun doing this, at least. Following the very useful instructions on The Okuda Family website I was able to create a visual for my madness. 

While I enjoy carving pumpkins, I have never been brave enough to attempt the three level layering effect.  I know from my Hobbes pumpkin that stripes are difficult to do.  And yet . . .and yet . . . it seems so perfect.  It will take some time to find a pumpkin manly enough, but it must be done.

If someone is able to create this or something like this, please, please, please send me a picture of your carved pumpkin and I will expound upon your greatness for an entire blog post.
October 6, 2010


A growing problem with my website is that it has been growing. For every new project page I add, I also have to add a link to a number of pages. On the plus side it means less clicking for my three visitors, but it's a lot of work on my part, trying to make sure that I've added the proper link to every page, particularly in the Miniatures section.

After conducting some research, I came to the conclusion that the ideal solution would be to have all of my links on one page, and have that page added, called, or whatever the term might be, to each web page. This way I could update in one place but have it show up everywhere. At first glance this seemed to not be doable in CSS, and I was afraid that I'd have to change the whole site over to PHP. Fortunately I found out about SSI, Server Side Includes. The only changes I had to make were to switch the .html files that would display the menu to .shtml files.

About halfway through the redesign it dawned on me that EVERY page in my website had a link to minis.html. I had a few seconds of horror and then decided that my quickest fix would be to do a redirect to minis.shtml. It seems to work. I'm very uncomfortable doing it that way, though. When I originally designed the site I thought for sure that those links at the top of the page would never change. Now I'm debating changing all of the files to .shtml and just having all the menus imported. Most likely I will just go through and edit the entire file list in my free time.

After figuring out that this was possible, I wanted to make one more change. One of the features I do like about this new blog is the menu on the right hand side, and being able to minimize portions. I thought it would be perfect for the miniatures menu. I wanted to split up the dolls by material, and of course I had the sections for links, houses, and random projects. Eventually I figured out the best way to do that - through javascript - and found myself a nice little pre-written script.

So yes, I totally blew the afternoon off, but accomplished a long desired goal. Go check it out. Try to break it. I don't mind. I need to know if things work, or don't work. I will fix the minis link above right after I publish.