Guess what I'm making for Thanksgiving this year? Restaurant reservations! In fact, that's already done and out of the way. Ahhhh...
However, if YOU are cooking and you could use some help with the basics, please feel free to download my Thanksgiving recipe booklet. It'll walk you through the whole turkey, dressing and gravy thing and also provide recipes for other classic side dishes including:
I'll still be making a pumpkin pie or two despite my refusal to host a dinner this year. Heck, that may happen tonight.
One of these days I'll update the booklet and try my hand at adding nice photos and stuff, but for now it's just plain jane. Which is rather fitting, no?
Photo credit: martha_chapa95
I had some friends over for RPG board gaming yesterday and I decided to make a pot of vegetarian chili to share with everyone. I made it up as I went along and it came out really well, so I figured I'd write down the recipe in the hope of replicating it someday.
1 small onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced
1 delicata squash, peeled, deseeded and diced
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
8 oz. tempeh, diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Line jelly roll pan with foil and drizzle with olive oil. Place vegetables and tempeh on pan, stir to coat with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 450°F for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a large pot, combine:
1 can tomatoes with green chilies
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can white kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can red beans (drained and rinsed)
2 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. Sriracha sauce
When the vegetables are finished roasting, add them to the pot along with 2 or more cups of water to thin the chili. Simmer for 30 minutes or longer to combine flavors, adding more water as needed. I had mine on the stove for several hours and it worked out great for people who were hanging out and eating at different times.
This ended up having a nice, spicy kick to it. You can cut back on the Sriracha and cayenne if you like your chili milder.
Even the non-vegetarians seemed to enjoy this a great deal. It's definitely a keeper.
I've become a fan of bourbon in recent years, so when a friend mentioned on Facebook that she had one spot open for a tour of a local distillery, I jumped at the chance to go along.
The evening got off to a late start at a local Thai restaurant; three out of the four of us were delayed by terrible rush hour traffic. After I was seated, the waiter said I looked familiar and asked if I sang in a band. It turned out that several of the restaurant staff had been at a bar nearby for one of my band's gigs a month or so ago and they recognized me and even showed me a photo of my band on someone's phone. It was the first time that kind of thing has ever happened to me. Naturally I invited them to see us play at that same bar again next month.
After a hearty Thai dinner we were off to Dark Horse Distillery, a family-owned, small batch distillery that produces bourbon, rye, white whiskey and vodka. I was surprised to find a distillery in Kansas at all considering their oppressive liquor laws.
The facility is about 50% distillery and 50% event space and it was already beautifully decorated for Christmas. As soon as I walked in the door, the smell of the fermenting grain was immediately apparent and quite pleasant.
We started the tour with a short video about the company and then got to walk around and see how they actually make their products.
Dark Horse produces liquor on such a small scale that their bottling equipment only handles four bottles at a time, they cork them by hand, and the master distiller signs each bottle and writes in the batch number on the label.
After the tour we got the chance to taste each of the four liquors. I'd already had a glass of the Reserve Bourbon Whiskey before the tour and that remained my favorite. However, the vodka was very nice with a very vanilla-like flavor that they said came from the wheat variety they use. They also had a white whiskey that would make a good tequila-like mixer for fruity drinks.
I'd love to host a party there sometime. The event space is gorgeous and it's conveniently close to a major highway. If you have any interest in whiskey or vodka, I'd say sign up for a tour. Now I'm trying to decide who might enjoy a bottle as a Christmas gift...
Dear Dr. Jones.
I'd like to start on a positive note by praising the mentoring role you've assumed in relation to Toby. This the kind of commitment to diversity we like to see. Although it's clear that there are some cross-species communications barriers between you, we appreciate the fact that you have embraced him wholeheartedly, unlike some of your colleagues.
Unfortunately, some of your other behaviors of late are of concern.
First, there's the television. I know it's fascinating when a football moves across the screen, but I'm sure you've figured out by now that there's no chance you will ever catch the football. If you check your handbook you'll see it clearly states that touching the TV screen is never acceptable. Speaking of which, we can't help noticing that the entire television keeps ending up tilted downward in a most suspicious manner considering that it is firmly affixed to its stand. It seems almost as though an 18-pound cat keeps trying to climb on top. I'm not accusing you of anything but again, it is not okay to touch the TV.
On to the matter of food. Per your contract, you are provided with numerous premium quality meals every day at no charge. However, you have frequently been observed eating your colleagues' food. First of all, you are all given the same food at the same times throughout the day. Secondly, in addition to the regular food, you and you alone are given a special food that only you like. Why then would you feel the need to supplement your diet by taking food away from your cohorts? Please cease this rude, unfair and obesity-inducing behavior at once.*
Then there's your attitude toward certain of your co-workers. As mentioned before, your relationship with Toby is quite praiseworthy, as is your partnership with Trillian (a.k.a. Tiny). The fact that you and Trillian both deliberately aggravate Xena is where it all goes wrong. I'm aware that Xena is not as friendly as she might be, but she has her own role here and it is not helpful to pounce on her unexpectly when she's going about her own business. Rule of thumb: if someone is growling and hissing at you, stop what you're doing.
This also applies to your unhealthy fascination with Kaylee. I know she seems interesting and exotic because she works in our satellite office, but that is no excuse to sneak into the studio to stare at her and make her uncomfortable. You've been through the HR training, so I shouldn't need to clarify how inappropriate this behavior is.
Just to end on a high note, you get a solid B+ from all members of management for your superior lap-sitting qualities. All it would take to get you into the A range would be losing a couple of pounds to take some pressure off our knees.
Thanks for your time and consideration. I look forward to working with you to remedy these concerns and I will feel as though we have made progress if no one refers to you as an asshole within the next quarter.
*It has come to our attention that you are not the food stealing culprit after all. In fact, it is Velvet, who will be appropriately reprimanded in her next review. Our apologizes for the false accusation.
I let myself get tagged for this meme on Facebook by Carl Bettis and I figured, why not make it into a blog post while I"m at it?
I'm going to try to keep this list to things that I've never mentioned on the blog before, so it's going to be even more mundane than my usual fare, I predict. Here we go:
Photo credit: macca
I know. I'm surprised, too. Usually I cram in all my shopping in December—not on Christmas Eve like a guy, but close enough to the mark that I sometimes buy too much because I'm slightly panicked.
This year I started picking up things here and there in my travels and in addition to my regular Amazon orders. I need to drop off gifts for three needy kids at my Soroptimist meeting tomorrow, so that spurred me to action as well.
That brings me to wrapping paper. I got a pitch email from a company called Minted a couple of weeks ago. They're an online stationery store that features the work of independent artists and offers a lot of customization for their truly lovely paper products, including holiday photo cards and my favorite, wrapping paper.
I happen to have some nice black and white photos of my husband and me taken earlier this year as part of the Roadway Studio Project, so I'm excited about getting some of them incorporated into a gift wrap design. Here's a look at what I've put together so far. The dotted lines show the areas where I've customized.
I've included some pet photos as well because...it's me. I'm also considering getting the recipe design customized with one of my cookie recipes.
For the last several years we haven't exchanged gifts in my family except to get presents for the kids. This year my aunt urged us to go back to a more traditional holiday celebration, so that gives me about a dozen people to shop for if you include a couple of friends with whom I generally exchange gifts. It's actually kind of fun, but I can guarantee you won't see me out on Thanksgiving or Black Friday.
Disclosure: In exchange for the mentions of Minted and links to the site, I have been offered store credit.
I hate to be that guy who complains about the cold weather, but I'm going to anyway. It's just so cold everywhere I go! My office is freezing year 'round, my house is horribly drafty and I can't seem to keep my hands warm in my car, even with gloves on.
Fortunately there are solutions.
I keep two blankets at the office. There's a grey knitted blanket that is big and warm but too linty if I'm wearing black. That's when I switch to the smaller fleece airplane-style blanket. Sometimes I wear them around the office like capes. I'm not proud.
At home I wear a robe pretty much all the time. I have three to choose from, each more hideous than the last. There's the pink fluffy one that adds 40 pounds to my apparent weight, the pilly green and blue argyle one that I got at a clothing exchange, and finally the blue chenille one that makes me look like I'm wrapped in a big towel.
Whether I'm in clothes or pajamas, you'll find me wearing one of these robes on top in the fall and winter. Yes, I wear them out into the yard while I'm walking the dog. If he starts taking me up the street, we have an ugly robe fashion show for the neighbors. Again, not proud.
Speaking of the dog, he's the reason I have no complaints about the temperature in my bedroom. As soon as I get into bed, he jumps up and paws the covers until I lift them up. Then he curls into the hollow of my chest and stomach and falls asleep for the night. It's like having a dog-shaped hot water bottle under the blanket with me.
So I have most of the solutions I need, but I had to get my annual complaining out of my system anyway. And if you can think of a way I can warm up my cold nose, let's hear it.
Photo credit: Melinda Shelton
Here's what I was doing instead:
Those aren't excuses, just reasons. I'm just going to proceed from here and try to get in 29 posts this month instead of thirty.
Photo credit: 4rilla
A couple people in my gaming group thought it was a joke that our latest game day event was scheduled to begin at 8:00 a.m. on a Sunday. However, that proved to be a pretty convenient time after all.
Four of us met at a coffee shop this morning and moved to the empty lower level of the attached restaurant to play two games, beginning with Firefly, which I own but hadn't yet played. [Link is solely for your convenience; it's not an affiliate thing.]
This was a big table, but we needed every inch of space we could get (no pun intended). Even with four hours at our disposal, we didn't have time to get through a full game before one player had to leave for work, but it gave the newbies a chance to get in a good amount of gameplay. Our next game will go more quickly.
Once it was down to three of us, I made a quick run home to take the dog out and when I got back, we played the Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game.
Here's what it looked like after the first turn or two. It's hard to tell from the photo, but the starfield is a big piece of black felt impregnated with multicolored glitter. Two of us played the imperial ships but the rebels won thanks in no small part to the special properties of the Millennium Falcon. Next time...
I've written quite a bit about my role playing board gaming, but I don't think I've ever talked about how it all started.
One day back in 2009, a group of my friends who had met through blogging and Twitter got together at someone's house. I was with the women in one room with a collection of more traditional board games (Apples to Apples*, Balderdash, etc.) and the men were in the next room playing Battlestar Galactica.
As the evening progressed it became abundantly clear that the men were having a lot more fun with their game than we were with ours. We wandered in to watch a few rounds and then we asked, "Why can't we play with you guys?"
As it turned out, the men had never even considered that we might want to play their more strategy- and treachery-heavy games. (See also: the history of the feminist movement.) Ever since then, we've had co-ed RPG get-togethers that take everyone's favorite nerd pastimes into account. And it's been glorious.
*Back in the days before Cards Against Humanity made it so Apples to Apples wasn't fun anymore.
Apologies to Juice Newton for the post title. There's really no excuse.