I should be writing. Instead…an expected winning recipe and, well…

Let’s start with the good news– a recipe I’ve relied on for a decade.

best cocoa brownies

This is my chocolate chip-studded version of Alice Medrich’s Best Cocoa Brownies. These babies are uncooked and darned if I forgot to take a photo this morning before they [and their counterpart batch with walnuts] headed over to a staff celebration.

But the serious ‘dark’ should tell you anybody eating these might well liken them to a  candy bar. [Only a half-cup flour is needed.]

The kitchen gods–whose voices sound oddly like my wife’s– are beckoning me to whip up another tray–one that won’t leave the premises.

***

And now, for a venture into the land of culinary unintended consequences…

refried beans unintended

There in the fridge sat a bowl leftover red beans and a bowl of cooked quinoa.

Hey! Why not doctor them up with a caramelized onion, sun-dried tomatoes from the jar, and some paprika, granulated garlic, and chili powder and make veggie-burgers? I’ve had good luck with this combination in the past, so why not?

Aaaand you’re wondering where the recipe is.  Me too.

I did a short consultation online, but paid as much attention to the recipe as I did to the cranked-up food processor.

So…burgers? Malleable patties out of this glop? Not a chance.

But…refried beans? Absolutely. In fact, the best I’ve tasted in years.

All due to my lapse into ‘kitchen shlub-hood’.

Nice save, T.

I should be writing. Instead…hand pies.

Two-fisted hand pies, that is.

cherry hand pies cropped

In our kitchen, ooze rules.

We had considered the more elegant look of a galette, but we laughed that off once we rolled out the dough.

My wife and I just wanted to slap those babies on the preheated cookie sheet and get’em baking.

I started with a glance at a crust recipe of author Linda Lomelino [Book: Lomelino’s Pies].

She goes with 3/4 cup of flour and nine tablespoons of butter. No salt or sugar.

So I, of course, veered a bit–1 cup pastry flour, a quarter teaspoon of salt, a little more than a tablespoon of sugar pulsed in the food processor joined by a stick [cubed] of cold butter. Add the cold water by the tablespoon until the dough sticks a bit to the sides. Scrape the dough into a piece of plastic wrap, and, once wrapped, sculpt it into a disk. Refrigerate until it’s baking time.

We were pleased with the crust. I think the pastry flour makes a difference.

But it was a good starting point and the book offers quality advice, photos, and recipes.

Pie filling for today?

Pie 1: Canned dark sweet cherries, thoroughly drained, with a little sugar and flour and a syrup of a reduction of creme de cassis, brandy, vanilla, some sugar, and a little juice from the can.

Pie 2: The rest of the cherries and diced Granny Smith apple dredged in sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice.

We have actually decided to follow baking protocol and are letting the pies cool.

I know, that’s crazy talk. But every once in awhile, we are able to resist.

Verdict–on the count of not sealing the pastry borders: Guilty

Verdict–on the count of assembling a quality, comforting, repeat-worthy treat to chase away the Sunday evening blues: Guilty

Verdict–on the count of eating more than you should have: Guilty.

I should be writing. Instead…a little culinary decadence.

hot chocolate

Camped out at Bellden Cafe in Bellevue, Washington with family.

Revelation: Some of the best idea generation sessions take place are when author tools are nowhere in sight.

Conversation at the table yielded these possibilities:

  1. Why not create a journal of light-bulb moments in the classroom? [Both teachers’ and students’]
  2. The world could use a new business-speak glossary pretty much every year.
  3. Student artwork posted online should/could/might be accompanied by a short audio clip from the artist revisiting the process.

 

 

 

 

 

I should be writing. Instead…hero worship.

unknown leonardo book

I was cruising the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store on Saturday and my wife held up this treasure.

A 10″ x 13″ 300-page tome on da Vinci to add to my ‘Leonardo Library’.

$2.50.

Major score.

So much more gratifying–for the time being–than rambling endlessly. [Well, other than this endless rambling.]

I have a shelves of books that need to be thinned, but the Leonardo Library is untouchable.

Last summer’s visit to the Machines in Motion exhibit at the Aerospace Museum of California last summer did little for my writing projects, but was another feather in my procrastinator’s cap.

leonardo flying machine copy

 

I should be writing. Instead…reading obituaries.

born-1264699_1280

I think I first got the idea from Austin Kleon in his book, Show Your Work.

Here’s a short piece from him on the topic:  http://tumblr.austinkleon.com/post/24956947198

In his book, he talks about how it inspires him to get a move on. They are good reminders of how short our time on earth really is and that we shouldn’t take it for granted.

Amen to that.

It always makes me think back to a neighborhood stroll a few years back. A guardian angel** [trust me on this] slowed me down a half-step as I approached a tall hedge that reached out toward the sidewalk.

If I hadn’t paused for that extra moment, I would have been road kill, courtesy of a driver who was blindly backing out his SUV at breakneck speed.

Did that moment launch me into a whole new existence? Did I stop and smell every rose along the way?

Nope. I should have and should continue to do so, but real life intervenes.

In his book, Kleon talks of Tim Kreider, who for the year following his own brush with death, did appreciate his second chance, but fell back into what he called ‘the busywork of living’.

So, a quick look at the obits not only reminds me of my tenuous existence, but it tells me I, like Austin, have projects to finish and good deeds to perform. No, my name won’t be spread across a marquee, but, now in my 60’s, it feels more and more as if part of every day should be spent making some kind of difference.

Back to the obituaries:

  • the co-creator of what became the world’s longest running musical
  • a ballet star whose career was derailed by a spinal tumor
  • a man who collected 75,000 volumes of English language poetry
  • a researcher who saved many from fatal cardiac disorders.

The question arises: What will I do? What do I care to do? Is it enough to try to be a solid family member, someone who values serving others more than picking up a larger check, a guy who would just as soon…well, that brought to mind the next question:

If I could wave a magic wand, what would I change in the world? What would I want mentioned in my obituary?

Assuming that ending famine, eradicating disease, and forging world peace were beyond my reach, I would:

1. build a massive college/trade school tuition fund for those kids who are otherwise saddled with crippling debt in the face of an uncertain job market.

2. finance construction of comfortable animal shelters and pay living wages for those who run them.

3. create an all-purpose recyclable plastic that replaces all the other types and obviates the nagging ‘does Waste Management take this?’ question.

4. provide accessible and abundant water supplies for those whose daily lives are reduced to traveling for hours for just enough to make it through the next 24 hours. [That Stella Artois commercial during the Super Bowl really got to me, as well as its longer version.]

5. raise money to preserve our national parks, reserves, and refuges.

6. build a foster-care support system that can fill the gaps and provide stability for the current overburdened system and its clients.

Time out! After I’d scheduled this post, I ran across this story and I want my obit to feature something like what this officer did…

So, will I do all this? Of course not, but putting this in words might nudge me forward to at least do my part.

And so, here I sit on a Friday night, not an inch nearer to finishing my current projects, but some worthy rumination just the same.

Such is the power of procrastination.


Note: Talk about procrastination. I wrote this post’s draft a month ago, but the seriousness of it didn’t fit with my usual approach and it felt stilted. Basically, it was more difficult to write and it needed time to sit. The time away from it helped. It’s not an award-winner [see point #1 from this post], but it’s done.

 

 

I should be writing. Instead…wildlife management.

no deer
Seems local deer have denuded [Will that word choice get this post an ‘X’ rating? Anything for readership, right?] our front yard lately. The crocus plants are reduced to nubs and the nandina appear to be less than productive.

Always armed with rational solutions, I took matters into my own hands.

It was obvious–appeal to the deer’s logic. Let them know they’re not welcome.

So far, the sign’s been up for an hour. No deer in sight.

I knew it would work.

My wife–cynic that she is–seems dubious.

If the deer do reappear, it will be time for a summit and a ‘candid exchange’ with hopes for peaceful coexistence.

More later. Stay riveted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I should be writing. Instead…bracketology.

brackets 2018

Yes, March Madness is upon us and gee, why wouldn’t I want to dive in and show my ignorance of college basketball?

Actually, I do follow it [except for the last four minutes of every game which, if I watched it live, would suck about 19.22 minutes [just an approximation] of my life.—thanks to TV commercials, TV-initiated and coach-initiated timeouts, intentional fouls, substitutions, lucky three-point shots which encourage the losing team to continue taking timeouts, committing intentional fouls, and making mind-numbing substitutions, and the inevitable officials’ video review of a play that requires indisputable proof to be overturned. [Fairly robust chunk of judicialese, wouldn’t you say? At some point, I’d expect the Supreme Court to weigh in.]

All I can say is: Thank the Lord for DVR.

Another observation: It gets to the point where I don’t care who wins the game.

Who would I root for? Whichever team has a coach who lets the players play and make some decisions on their own.

Okay, rant concluded.

Go UMBC! [University of Maryland Baltimore County…I had to look it up.]

I should be writing. Instead…butternut squash soup.

IMG_2211

In keeping with the whole ‘putting off till later’ theme, here is some breaking news: Merriam-Webster’s thesaurus doesn’t grok the word procrastinate.

Moving on…

I had gained so much procrastinative ** momentum from my earlier foray into non-productivity that I sauntered into the kitchen. Imagine that.

Shockingly, I chose to cook healthy.

I had no intention of opening a cookbook, of course.

I chunked up the squash the day before, knowing full well how exhausting it would be to both prep the squash AND cook it all in one fell swoop. Pretty obvious that I’m not into swoops–energy requirements too steep.

I heated up some olive oil, sprinkled in some za’atar, 21-Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe’s, salt, and pepper for a quick blooming, added chicken broth, and then the squash. That reminds me. It might need a dash of white wine.

butternut squash soup
the ‘before’ photo. 

After a severe pummeling with the hand blender, I might finish it with a little milk and then sprinkle some grated Asiago cheese into each serving.

Turns out I didn’t bother with either the milk or the Asiago. Plenty of flavor to stand on its own. It doesn’t mean I won’t try them with the leftovers, however.

While I didn’t use a recipe, if you stayed with me this long, you deserve one to consider. I like the idea of adding some ginger to the mix.

Thanks for reading. Go make some soup. On your own. No cookbook. If I can do it, so can you.


**Yep, it’s a word. No way did I think so when it flew off my fingers onto the keyboard.

 

 

I should be writing. Instead…solarizing.

afternoon coffee

Hanging in the backyard on the first ‘warm’ day of the year. Creeping close to 70. A classic opening to daylight savings, I would say.

Warm enough for shirt sleeves at 4 in the afternoon. I’m enjoying a 20-minute session with The Wizard of Ads by Roy Williams. He’s an accomplished copywriter, but I read his books for his real life and practical wisdom.

But the weather is too nice to get fired up for a massive word-churn. Better to stretch out and listen to the medley of neighbor-dogs announcing their presence, a single-engine plane overhead, and the Celtic strings of Greenfire .

Besides, there’s more procrastination in the coming moments…