Food Experiments

4 July 2002

There were cinnamon rolls for breakfast, because if I can't go to Grandma's in my jamas on a holiday morning, at least I can eat like it. But they were store-bought and not as good as Grandma's. Still a worthwhile experiment, though.

It's been food experiment week around here. I tried making dragon's breath from my own guesses and a Scandinavian cucumber salad recipe from the paper, and that didn't turn out so well. Filipino wheat noodles were the wrong kind of pasta for the dragon's breath (although the rest of it was right, so try, try again), and the newspaper must have confused teaspoons and tablespoons, because I used half the amount they said and the cucumbers were absolutely crusted with dill. Too much dill. And how often will you hear me say that? Pretty much never. I love dill. So Tuesday night's dinner was edible, but pretty much a failure. In need of correction, at least.

Last night, Timprov got inspired by the Yucatan chicken recipe in the newspaper, and wow, was it good. It was made with sautéed mushrooms, Mexican rice, and peach-avocado salsa. The only problem is, now we are hip-deep in cilantro, peach-avocado salsa, and most especially jicama. Does anyone know what to do with jicama? Lots of it, I mean. Because some of it we can just stick in some dip and eat. But there's only so much of that we can do. Suggestions are welcome, especially because every time I say the word "jicama," Timprov flinches. (I know that it doesn't begin with a j sound, but I don't seem to be able to stop harshing the h into a Hebrew sort of sound.)

Today's experiment is with a package of what is labeled beef bratwurst. We are Americans, and we are Americans of the non-vegetarian upper-Midwestern variety, so we will be burning hunks of meat today, in our case brats. But I'm not sure that we have decent bratwurst. It's very clearly made for export and not at all the stuff they eat in Milwaukee. In fact -- and if I was a stronger person I would spare you this -- I fear the wurst.

I'm sorry. It won't happen again.

We have very few plans for the Fourth. We're hoping to get down to Half Moon Bay sometime this weekend, but we're hoping to go when the traffic isn't too insane and the fish tacos place will definitely be open. Later in the weekend, I think. Mark is off work, but I'll probably do some Not The Moosing. I finished reading The Looking-Glass War, and wow. Are there any John LeCarre fans out there? If so, can you tell me whether this book is typical? And if it is, can you tell me what you enjoy about his work? Because I must confess I'm at a loss. I didn't know what was going to happen at the end, but mostly that was because I didn't care. They could have had green elephants parachuting into Berlin, and I would have just nodded, said, "Hmm," and kept going.

I'm now reading Eric Christiansen's The Northern Crusades, which is interesting so far. One of the jacket blurbs just kills me, though. "For a one-volume history of the Northern Crusades, the reader has but one choice; this is it." -- William Urban in the American Historical Review. It's not saying that the book is great, or even that it's any good. It just says that there aren't others (in English -- I would assume that there are any number of volumes in Baltic languages on the subject). Which is true, I would imagine. Perhaps not, but...well, it doesn't look good for the Northern Crusade enthusiast, is what I'm saying. And from a quick glance at Amazon's "Baltic States" category, I have the sinking fear that they are either confusing Baltic and Balkan or that they're listing every book that contains the name of a Baltic state in its text somewhere. Because there are titles like Serbia: The History of an Idea and Kosovo: A Short History. It's just disheartening sometimes.

I wish we were going to an Arlo Guthrie concert. That was a really good Fourth of July thing. But we have CDs, and it's nice out, and that'll do. No fireworks for us, I don't think. I kind of miss sparklers, and the twirly flowery ones, but the rest I can take or leave, and firecrackers are just obnoxious. We never liked them, in my family, but as my dog got older they bothered her more and more, and I just stopped seeing the point. Yay, I made a noise so loud that it disturbed an entire neighborhood! Good for me! I can frighten animals who have more sensitive hearing than I! Hooray!

And on that happy note, have a good Fourth of July.

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