Sweet Pepper Salmon, by L

Posted in Cooking with tags , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2013 by experimentswithreason

I love salmon. It’s my preferred fish (I could happily be a pescetarian), and I often have it simply cooked in the oven with some olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt. Lately though, I decided to be a little more adventurous and take advantage of some cheerful- and tasty-looking sweet peppers I saw on offer. Also having a yen for something sweet and spicy (a flavor favorite of mine), this seemed the perfect time for a culinary experiment.

Although I have great pride in that my lunch partner at work loves this despite disliking salmon, the best thing about this recipe is its seasoning flexibility, in my opinion. A lot of the ingredients for the sauce can be altered or omitted – or preferred flavors added – without sacrificing the root concept of the dish. Served with some light sides, it also makes a healthier dinner/lunch option. Be sure and look at the “Let’s think about what you’re eating” section at the end of the post!

Sweet pepper salmon

You know you want it.

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The bookshelf mountain

Posted in Propmaking, Reading with tags , , , , , on November 12, 2012 by experimentswithreason

The bookshelf mountain

L has a vast selection of books.  A veritable library of bound pages and hardback covers.  But the apartment has nowhere to display or store them so I took it upon myself to design and build a bookcase worthy of their, well, worth.  You can see it above!  If you would like to build your own, I’ve written a walkthrough on Instructables.com here: How to make a bookshelf mountain.  But the good photos are here.

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Seafood Gumbo, by L

Posted in Cooking with tags , , , , on October 31, 2012 by experimentswithreason

Since the weather’s starting to cool down over here (I had to wear a scarf today – a SCARF!), I’ve started hankering after the autumnal foods of my childhood. Among them is gumbo, particularly seafood gumbo.

Now, even in the South, there are all sorts of things are sitting on menus masquerading as gumbo and I am here to tell you the truth!

… Just kidding. Actually it’s not unheard of for gumbo to comprise of whatever’s at hand. Traditionally there are two types: Cajun, which has a darker base, is spicier, and can contain fowl or sausage as well as seafood; and Creole, which typically focuses on seafood, adds tomatoes, and tends to be less spicy and lighter. Variations have sprung from there. Ultimately, though, gumbo is a  thick stew with either seafood/shellfish, ham, sausage or poultry (hardly ever any other pork or beef), and the ‘Cajun Holy Trinity’ of green bellpepper, onion, and celery (though the latter was hardly used in Creole gumbo prior to the 1950s). A sure-fire identifier is whatever forms the stew’s base and/or thickens it: file’ powder, roux (fat and flour), or okra, and sometimes combinations thereof. It is designed to feed a crowd, and thus is often served over rice.

The name ‘gumbo’ itself is a possible evolution from either the Choctaw kombo (for file’) or ki ngombo / quingombo / ochinggômbo / chinggômbô (Bantu, Umbundu and Tshiluba, respectively) for okra. Hardly surprising, considering the variety of cuisines gumbo has evolved from – elements have been brought from Spain, France and the Acadians (such as its similarity to bouillabaise), Africa, Native American, and a bit of German and Italian for good measure. Louisiana itself is a melting-pot, and gumbo typifies this culture.

My recipe was my paternal grandmother’s, given to me through my mother on one of her recipe cards. This grandmother, Marylene, is the sister of the Great-Aunt Nonie from whom came the Country Chili. Mom used to make it with real lump crabmeat sometimes, and fresh shrimp always, that she got by the pound from a man in a blue pick-up on the side of Hwy61, in front of the feed store across from the Myrtles. I remember craning my neck to see into the sink while she was cleaning and de-veining them, and finding the fact that they were gray very strange. my job was to keep shooing the cats off the counter.

We didn’t have this dish very often, but it was one that made an impression on me and was one of the first things I cooked, ever. It’s been a favorite ever since, and was one of the first meals C and I cooked together (long-distance over webcam, no less!).

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Writing: Just Getting Started, by L

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2012 by experimentswithreason

Getting started is often the hardest part of the writing process. We can feel hindered by many things, from the obvious (lack of ideas, not enough time) to the more subtle (lack of confidence, too many ideas). Thankfully, there are things we can do to diminish, if not completely banish, all of them.

As with any mental state, it’s a good idea to first take a step back, and identify what you feel the issue to be. Ask yourself questions, and don’t afraid to be honest.

  • Do you feel like you don’t have enough time to write?
  • Do you suffer from a lack of ideas or, conversely, too many?
  • Are you plagued by distractions?
  • Are you procrastinating?
  • Is your motivation lacking, and is this for the project, or your faith in your abilities?
  • Do you worry that whatever you write won’t be liked, or that it’s nothing new?
  • Do you simply feel like you don’t know how to say what you want to say?

These common situations can be traced to either a personal root or an external root. The important thing is to take a positive, proactive approach to both: always keep your eyes on the prize and remember that you are trying to get better at writing. Let’s tackle them.

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An Overview: Editing Your Fiction, by L

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2012 by experimentswithreason

I pride myself on being a great editor. I am not ashamed to say that I am an absolute perfectionist when it comes to proofreading/copyediting, particularly my own work. Many pages have died by drowning in red ink or graphite, or the swift, final stroke of the ‘Backspace’ key.

Most of this happens simultaneously with the creating, to where I hardly notice I’m doing it. I edit as I go – we all do, to a certain extent. Given encouragement and ‘tips and tricks’, these skills can easily be refined to serve us well not just with fiction, but any piece of writing, from a quick email to a prospective employer to a note left for our spouse, to an evaluative report for that project at work or a personal journal entry.

I do it because I am a creature of pride. I think errors in my writing reflect badly on me as a person. I am afraid people will think I’m an idiot if they see a misspelling or consistenency error, or a slob if they can’t tell where my sentences end or find one space too many. But mostly, I do it because I am obsessed – as any love has a degree of obsession – with my writing being the best it can possibly be.

I’ll probably go into more detail later on specific aspects of self-editing, but I thought it’d be a good idea to pass on twelve things that help me, and that have helped others when they’ve asked me to look at something. They encompass common-sense areas to check in-text, out-of-text management hints, and areas I frequently pick up on in others’ writing, and I hope you find them to be a good starting place.

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Taming the Jaws of Death

Posted in Products with tags , , , , , on July 1, 2012 by experimentswithreason

Summer means more skin on display. Even for those of us who aren’t trying to attract everybody in sight, when it’s in the triple figures in the shade, the last thing you want to do is wear more clothes than absolutely necessary. But as most women will bemoan, summer means more skin on display, which means more hours devoted to their hair removal ritual of choice. And for those of us with any remotely Latinate or Mediterranean blood, the ‘ritual’ is something more like a daily battle.

I have what traditional schools of cosmetology call an ‘olive’ complexion – in actuality I like to refer to it as ‘tea-stained’ as I feel this is more accurate. Being a quarter Sicilian with some Choctaw thrown in for good measure, I have been blessed with my coloring. This does, however, mean that I have hair in plentiful supply and most of my life up to the advent of Boyfriend has been an attitude of ‘do your best, grin and bear the rest’. While I’m not about to go to the extremes (in my opinion) of some women in order to be hairless in all the socially-determined spots, I did decide to better tackle the basics. In this case, legs and underarms.

Shaving wasn’t doing the trick. Not a fan of the chemical potluck of hair removal creams, and found them ineffectual anyway. Waxing…not brave enough for that. So I decided to buy a pet Jaws of Death.

Grr

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Photo-editing, by L

Posted in Photography with tags , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2011 by experimentswithreason

As promised, the follow-up to the brief overview of photographic composition: photo-editing! The idea is that one shouldn’t rely on editing software completely, but, you have to admit – it does come in handy and you can do some pretty cool stuff! Sometimes for me it makes the difference between a photo to discard and a photo to print.

Again, I am not a Photoshop expert, like I am not an advanced photographer. I know enough for my purposes, and even then, I come across walls where I know what I don’t know! I will be touching on cropping, and light and color adjustment, since they are the tweaks I use most frequently.

Cropped Final (C) ImagesKione

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