Friday, October 28, 2016

Basic Meatloaf & Baked Potatoes

I'd snap a picture of this as it was in progress of being made but I am presently thawing out the frozen block of ground beef in the microwave right now. Also, my kitchen is not exactly presentable for pictures right now. (Namely my tablecloth is rather ratty looking and the pile of kid school papers is approaching the same height as the 1 gallon fish tank where our Betta Ghost lives. And a few knitting projects.. it's just a bit messy. So, no pictures today.) Next week, I'll try to do some with another recipe. I'm going to attempt to update a recipe here on a weekly basis. Maybe it will help me get back into posting on here again.

That said, dinner tonight is going to be meatloaf. It's really simple and fairly quick to put together, compared to some other things I've made. The hardest part is waiting for it to finish cooking. My family is on the small side. Between the boys, Beloved, and I, we've got four people to feed plus at least one serving leftover for lunch the next day. I will most likely make something with the spinach that is sitting in the fridge desperately trying not to wilt though it is 24 hours past its prime sell by date. I don't plan on the kids eating much of the spinach because as Cuddle Bear says, "We hate vegetables!" We're still working on this front.

Everything cooks at the same time and at the same temperature with this recipe. It was one of the first things I was cooking for dinner when I was a kid. I'm pretty sure that the boys will be cooking this in the not so distant future. I start off scrubbing the potatoes and pricking them all over with a fork. Then I set them aside. When they go in the oven, they're going to rest right on the rack. Remember to prick them all over, though, because if you don't the will explode and make a horrible mess. (I made this mistake once. Mom was not impressed and I had to clean the whole stove and oven. You'd be surprised how many nooks and crannies there are in an oven.)

For my meatloaf, I use 98% lean ground beef. Some people say it has less flavor. I haven't noticed too big of a difference between that and the more inexpensive ground beef. The big reason why I use the lowest fat ground beef that I can afford is because it makes for less grease sitting in the pan with the meatloaf. Which makes it easier to serve (and it is healthier with less grease, or so my doctor says). Cooking for four people, I use one pound of ground beef. I add to it an egg, some breadcrumbs (but sometimes oatmeal), ketchup, and mustard. It is probably the most boring form of ground beef you can find. I mix it all together until it is uniform and then pop it into a bread pan. Sometimes I will put it into a muffin tin for individual servings. The reception has been indifferent between the two versions of presentation.

When I've got my meatloaf mixed up and pressed into the pan, I put it in the oven on the middle rack at a medium heat. I set my washed and pricked potatoes beside it on the rack. Let everything cook for an hour and you'll have a nice dinner that just needs a salad to be complete. I like to cut the baked potatoes in half and scrape out the 'meat'. Then I put a little salt and butter on it so it is like mashed potatoes. I also put a little butter into the skins and eat that straight up. My kids look at me weird for doing it, but it's tasty so I don't care.

Basic Meatloaf & Baked Potatoes
Serves 4 - 5

1 pound ground beef                         1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 large egg, yolk broken                    1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup yellow mustard

Step 1
In a medium bowl, mix together all ingredients until well combined. (I use my hands and knead it together like dough.)

Step 2
Press into a standard sized bread pan. Cover with foil (optional).

Step 3
Cook in the oven at 350 degrees F for 1 hour. Allow to cool a few minutes and then slice and serve.

Baked Potatoes

Step 1
Take 4 medium sized potatoes, wash well and cut off any green parts or eyes.

Step 2
Prick all over with a fork, making sure to pierce the skin.

Step 3
Set potatoes on oven rack in an oven that is at 350 degrees. Cook for 1 hr or until fork pricks through the skin with ease.

Fiction - Bad Day.

She reached up and took of the helmet. The man standing before her glared at her with a look of outrage. "How dare you challenge my orders!" he roared. Thyra dropped the helped. The man's expression turned to puzzlement. "You are not my wife," he said in a tone of disgust.

"No, I am not," she answered. She dropped the helmet out of her right hand as her left reached around behind her back to the pistol secured there. "And you are about to have a very bad day, Maxwell Colliers, unless you can answer this question," Thyra continued. Maxwell's haughty expression of offended pride returned.

"You, woman, do not have the capacity to know what you are saying," he said, "Leave my office."

"Where is Zanzibar?" Thyra demanded. Maxwell scoffed and made a shooing gesture.

"You've wasted enough of my time with your games," he said, "Go back to the security officer's suite. Eliot Zanzibar is of no concern to you. Continue and you'll be sent off world on your next assignment." Thyra drew her pistol as Maxwell leaned to the side and moved to push the silent panic button under his desk.

"Eliot Zanzibar is the chemist who can reverse this plague," Thyra retorted, "You had him kidnapped. Release him and you'll live." Maxwell pushed the button. Thyra fired her pistol. It wasn't the elegant, high energy weapons that were issued to the Xenogen security agents. It was actually rather primative with its gunpowder propelled projectile. It did its job magnificently, however, as it punched through the wood verneer of the desktop and the electronics of the call button. As a result, the button was rendered useless and Maxwell had a bullet lodge itself in his hand.

Maxwell screamed. "The fuck is wrong with you?" Maxwell shouted. Thyra readied to fire the next round.

"Zanzibar," Thyra demanded.

Maxwell knew that his screaming and the gunshot wasn't going to be heard by anyone else. His office suite took up an entire floor and everything was automated for convenience. Thus, he was alone with this woman and her dangerously crude weapon. He gripped his left wrist as hard as he could to slow the flow of blood. With great effort, he resisted the urge to continue screaming. His face was pale and a fine sheen of sweat arose, but he managed to speak in something that resembled a calm tone, "Zanzibar is on his way to Anchorport. His lab has been removed," Maxwell said, "I expect he will be reaching his destination in the hour. His work was unauthorized. He has been reassigned."

Thyra fired off a second shot. It slammed into Maxwell's left shoulder, hitting him hard enough that he rocked back in his chair. "You're lying to me, Colliers. Now where is Eliot?" Thyra demanded. Maxwell looked at Thyra's face. Her complexion betrayed her sub-Saharan heritage but he could see something of a European lineage in her ice blue eyes. Thyra's expression was something like that of an avenging goddess, filled with wrath but also curiously serene. For a moment, he wondered if he should offer her a position within the Enyo program. Even though she was on Xenogen property, she managed to make her way through at least five levels of security to reach his office. It meant she had a terrible talent for doing very bad things.

Thyra's third shot hit him in his right shoulder. He screamed. The queer distance from the pain that came with shock was ripped away from him at the insult of the third shot. He felt as though someone had plunged a red hot poker into his left hand and shoulders. His ears rang with the noise of the gunfire. "I have already killed your wife," Thyra said, "Which you should have figured out by the fact that I am in her uniform. I have killed three of your security agents on the level immediately below us. I expect that they are running around looking for someone else at the moment, though, because of the image scrambler I used on your cameras when I hacked the system through her uplink." Thyra raised her right arm, turning it so that he could see that the touch pad had been forced open with wires plugged into it. It was an inelegant mess but Maxwell couldn't really focus on that.

His pain was too great for that. The dull realization that the angry black woman standing before him might actually kill him somehow made its way through the pain. Maxwell tried to reject it but when Thyra walked up closer and moved her pistol so that it was pointed squarely between his eyes, he couldn't. "Where is my brother?" Thyra demanded, "Answer me and you'll die quick. Don't and I'm just going to hurt you, really badly. And then I'll let you bleed out while I rifle through your console."

"You can't do that," Maxwell said, smiling despite his pain, "It's keyed to my bio markers. You can't get into the system with out me."

Thyra squeezed the trigger. As the top of Maxwell's head blew off, she said, "I don't need you alive for that, fucker."

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pretty as a Picture!

In the course of my evening today, I made an apple pie. It wasn't something I did from scratch. My pie crusts are functionally cardboard still. And I didn't can the apples for the filling (but getting them off the shelf did free up some space in my pantry so that counts for something, right?) The boys noticed I was up to something when I started getting out the can of pie filling, the wax paper, and thawing out the pie crusts.

They mistakenly thought I was making cookies when I cut the hearts out of the top crust. But, when it was all put together, they realized exactly what I had made. I dusted some apple pie spices over the crust and then drizzled it with some clover honey before I popped it in the oven. It was finished right as Beloved got home from work.

We didn't have any this evening. I suspect it may be eaten tomorrow. But, Beloved may sneak a piece before he heads to bed tonight. Anything is possible. If he has started on the thing tonight, this means that I am free to eat a slice for breakfast instead of a bowl of instant oatmeal, right?

The pie crusts were from Aldi's (The box says their brand is Ginger Evans.). They had been sitting in the fridge for about two weeks. That's a little bit long, but they didn't give me any trouble when I unrolled them and started working with them. The pie filling was also from Aldi's. It was their usual stock pie filling (I believe it is branded as Sweet Harvest). I am looking forward to when they have their apple-cranberry pie filling again. It is a seasonal item that goes magnificently in oatmeal.


I'm about to do a major overhaul on this blog. I will be changing the look and some of the format. Please bear with me. It is part of a process to making things easier and more effective. Presently I am rather scattered all over the place. I want to correct that. Please note, a name change will be coming along in the near future, but the content will remain the same. I will also be posting more pictures and such soon as well.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Writer's block? Use Generators!

I think I have a new way to laugh my way out of writer's block.

Random transportation disaster generator (best one thus far: hamster powered hovercraft crashes in rural indiana. terrorism 'not ruled out.'

Random story generator. Isn't this the plot of a movie that happened recently?The story is about a traveler who is haunted by a ghost. It starts in a village in Europe. The story climaxes with someone getting lost. Archaeology versus respecting native cultures plays a major role in this story. This thing sounds like what some gamers I used to LARP with used to come up with their character's backstory. Hmm...

I had something more I wanted to say but I forgot. Ah well. Cheap laughs all around, though.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Stupid humor.

So, there was this horrific airliner crash on the border between two countries. Emergency crews show up and the scene is just ugly. There's fire everywhere. People are screaming. There's the stench of burning flesh. And the threat that more jet fuel is going to go kaboom. As this crash happened right on the border, the crews are faced with an urgent question.

Where do the bury the survivors?

I got this joke from my late grandfather when I was in my single digits. It took me a second to figure out what the punchline was. In my defense, however, I was seven.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Indigenous People's Day.

Easy Home Mini Sewing MachineI spend my day trying to figure out my new small sewing machine. I picked it up at Aldi's last weekend. It is the Easy At Home Mini Sewing machine. Upon inspection, it is surprisingly robust for its petite size. It seems to work well with most of the generic bobbins I have kicking around here. It also looks like it will take generic standard sized sewing machine needles.

I wasn't impressed with the needle threader. But it is a style of needle threader that I generally dislike. Unfortunately, it is the only one that will fit through the eye of the needle. My vision is such, now, that even with my glasses threading that is hard.

I took the boys out to the park this afternoon. Snuggle Bug picked flowers and gave them to Gregg the pizza guy over at Pizza Pauls (the pizza shop that is right next to the park). I brought my spinning with me. As the boys played on the swings and then played freeze tag with the other kids their age that were present, I did some spinning on my petite turkish spindle. I charmed people with my work and explained how it worked to the curious. I will say, spinning on a suspended spindle is a lot easier to carry with me when I am out and about. I even was spinning as I stopped in the hardware store to see if they had full spectrum light bulbs. (I think I will need to take a trip up to the city to get some. It is my hope that if I set up some lighting with full spectrum light bulbs, perhaps I will have a reduction in the severity of my depression symptoms over the next several months.

I did not do much for activism today. I wanted to do something for the oppressed peoples, especially the oppressed indigenous peoples, but my day got sucked up with domestic tasks and all that went into keeping the boys out of trouble today. Beloved and I, over the weekend, did our best to explain why Columbus Day was not something we celebrated or acknowledged in our house because Christopher Columbus did some awful things to the people that he met when he came to the Americas.

Cuddle Bear was having a hard time trying to understand it. Beloved was doing his best to explain that it was stuff to horrible for him to describe right now because Cuddle Bear wasn't old enough to understand, and, quite frankly, we didn't want him to have nightmares of invaders bursting into our home, killing us, and enslaving him. So, we just said Christopher Columbus was a man who did very bad things and we don't celebrate him. I'm pretty sure that there are going to be a number of discussions and angry conversations with the kids at school.

Who knows how the teachers are going to take it. We even had a discussion, briefly, with the boys why we don't support zoos. (Animal cruelty is not something we condone in even the remotest sense.)

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Another day.

I got a little bit of spinning done today. I'm using the rainbow color way fiber that my mother in law gave me for Yule last year. I am working on the little Turkish spindle I have. I am considering spinning the rest on my kick wheel. I'm not decided yet. I feel a bit like I need to do a bunch of spinning before the weather gets cold. I don't know why, but that's been there at the back of my mind over the last several days.

I am almost finished with the scarf that I am knitting for charity. I was going to start one using the last of the ball of eyelash yarn. Then I decided that I hate that yarn and I shoved it back into the recesses of the yarn hoard. I am presently stalled on the ducky scarf. I anticipate, however, getting more work done on it over the next little while. Because I am running out of other projects to use to procrastinate on. I don't think I'm going to do another illusion scarf any time soon. This thing is frustrating me because I keep worrying that I am counting my rows incorrectly. I kinda wanted this to be an enjoyable project but it is not proving to be so.

I had something else that I wanted to share here but I just can't recall what. I suppose that is just how the day goes sometimes.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Fiction: The Meeting.

She walked into the parking garage to the accompaniment of thunder. Some of the people there had a primeval warning of danger as she passed. Maybe it was the way the woman moved. There was something feline about how her body passed through the space. Even with her heavy boots, she was quiet. Her long coat wasn't too out of place, though she looked like she had walked out of some kind of bad science fiction. Her hair was cut in an androgynous short cut and hidden beneath a wide brimmed black leather hat. It could have been a cowboy hat, but it was sufficiently battered that it wasn't clear what sort of hat it was.

The long coat was unbuttoned. Beneath it, there was the suggestion of some sort of vest but the dim lighting of the garage didn't help the viewer to distinguish details until they were far too close for comfort. There was a bit of a bulge on the left side and the coat didn't lie quite right, suggesting something long was there. The jeans she wore were black. That was the predominant color about her appearance except for her skin. That was an eerie white that was almost the color of milk. Her lips were painted black. Her eyes were a dark brown that may as well have been black in the dim light of that place.

A late model car sat idling in space J-33. Beside it, a twitch skinny man stood waiting. His hair was ragged and mouse brown. His clothes looked like they were stolen from a poor man's corpse just before the box went into the incinerator. He looked around himself with a combination of timidness and anxiety that annoyed the female figure approaching him. She stepped into the garish pool of light spewed by the faulty florescent light above. The man jumped a little and dropped his e-cigarette. When his foot came down on the narrow tube, breaking it, he flinched at the sound.

"Bradley," she said, "Do you have it?" Bradley winced at the coldness of her tone. He pulled a battered envelope out of his pocket and held it out to her. Her black leather driving gloves were immaculate and somehow managed to gleam slightly in the light despite their matte texture. When she took hold of the yellow stained white #10 envelope, Bradley jerked his hand back as though he had burned his fingers. The woman looked down at the envelope. As he started to move towards his driver side door, the back of her left hand struck him square on the center of his chest. "No," she said, "You're not leaving yet."

"I brought it to you," Bradley whined, "I did what you told me. I'm done." Her hand moved back to the envelope. Bradley didn't go to his car, though he really really wanted to. This woman managed to kill his brutally violent pusher with out breaking a sweat. Bradley watched it all from behind a dumpster. He still had nightmares of how she butchered Howie. Howie tried to fight back, but that just made her angry. And her anger was terrifying.

She opened the envelope and looked within. The forged documents inside looked a bit worn, but that added to their authenticity. The small sum of money was exactly the amount she needed. There was, however, one thing missing. "Bradley," she started in a mild tone when the sound of a vehicle approaching caught her ear. She slipped the envelope into her pocket.

The muscle car purred like some kind of exotic metal monster. She looked over. Sitting behind the wheel was the tall, scarred Italian that she worked with. As she turned to walk towards the black 65 Mustang, Bradley edged closer to his car. She called back to him, "Bring the ring here tomorrow night at this time. If you don't have it, if you don't show up, I'm going to find you." Bradley felt like he was going to vomit out of fear. The woman turned her head and looked over her shoulder. "Don't fuck up," she said before the car rolled to a stop. She opened the door and the sound of deep South blues came out.

The man in the car said, "Watch the leather. I just got it detailed." The woman shifted something under her coat and pulled a sword from beneath it. Bradley shivered as he remembered how she cut Howie to pieces with it. She got into the car and set the sword between her feet. As the door shut and the car rolled away, Howie silently thanked god that she didn't know what he had in his pocket. The diamond ring suddenly felt a lot heavier.


Because I wanted to reminisce about LARPing.