Archive for November, 2011

4 flights of stairs didn’t kill me…

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Last night we went to the Arena Theater and saw Willie Nelson. I didn’t have popcorn. I didn’t have beer. That’s a little unheard of. It isn’t that I was being all virtuous, no. I just didn’t want any. Hmmm.

Something of this journey is taking root. My weight hasn’t moved, but my clothes are all loose, so I feel I am doing something right. I have gotten back into the habit of tracking food, so that might show something.

At the theater, we ended up on the 4th floor of the parking garage and normally, I am all about the elevator. But my knees have been feeling pretty good so I decided to try the stairs knowing I could just find the elevator on any floor between 4 and the ground if I needed to. After the concert, the same logic applied and that’s right. It didn’t kill me. In fact, it really wasn’t that bad. I was breathing normally before our car made it to the third floor (though that did take a few minutes).

Willie Nelson was awesome. There isn’t really more to say than that because he just is.

I started doing yoga in the morning using the time my body thinks is awake time (thanks to clocks going back). I have been up around 445 each morning and I am trying to reestablish a morning yoga routine. My desire is that this will eventually just be the morning routine every morning because I know I feel better in general when this is so. But for now, I want three mornings a week minimum. I don’t really think of yoga as exercise and with one week down, I am feeling it more a wellness essential. Definitely one of the best hours of my day.

Make. This. Soup.

Monday, November 14th, 2011

I just had a bowl of the Chicken and Dumpling soup I made over the weekend. and oh my. The dumplings are so perfect, I hope I get it right every time I make this in the future.

This recipe was originally from Cook’s Country Feb 2009 issue and I used it as is one time and then started playing. I have made it 4 times now and this weekend the recipe was lost so I had to wing it. Here’s what I did and honestly, this is the best the dumplings have come out. I went to the Cook’s Country website and this recipe (as I think all recipe’s) was listed as premium content. They have a 2 week free trial, but to do the free trial you have to give them your credit card info and then opt out if you aren’t interested. What planet are they on? I would have done the free trial and maybe stay on as a paid subscriber if they prompted me for cc info at the end of my 2 week free trial, but no…

The recipe did not use durum semolina, just straight up flour, but I found those dumplings lacking something. My favorite chicken and dumpling soup was from Eatzi’s, a gourmet market that had food for the taking which sadly, is no longer open in Houston. There’s was a thick hearty creamy version and the dumplings were like big thick chunks of pasta. So I added the semolina flour and the first time I made them with 2 parts semolina to one part regular. The dumplings were tasty, but a bit heavy and too chewy. This time I used one part semolina to two parts regular. spot on.

The original recipe also didn’t use any herbs, but I have a slew growing in the garden so I chopped up a handfull and added half to the dumplings and half at the end to finish the soup. Perfection.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup durum semolina flour
generous pinch salt and pepper
1 egg
1 cup water (more or less as needed)
handfull chopped fresh herbs (optional)

The consistency of the dumpling batter is pretty loose. You mix all this together and let it rest in the bowl on the counter while you make the rest of the soup.

1 rotisserie chicken
4 carrots sliced
4 celery stalks sliced
1 onion diced
1 tbs chopped garlic
1 serrano chile (optional)
8 cups chicken stock
s + p to taste

I use a 6 quart Dutch oven but any large pot will do. Add some olive oil to the pot and saute all the veg together about 5 minutes until they start to soften. add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. I use an unsalted that comes in a 4 cup box. reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. While this is cooking, remove all the meat from the chicken and shred it, then add to the pot and cook another 10 minutes or so. Then drop teaspoons-full of the dumpling batter into the soup and cover and cook 2-3 minutes more. Stir in remaining herbs if using.

A note about the chile…I am new to experimenting with adding heat to my cooking because in that regard, I am still a yankee at heart, but I do like a little heat, I am just wussy (according to EF) about it. I recently made a white bean pumpkin soup that had a serrano sliced up into it and that was just the right amount of heat. The heat was more of an afterthought. I used a chile that was bought at the same time in the soup this weekend and actually only used half of it and the soup was much hotter than I thought it would be. After having the first bowl of this, I was unsure if I would be able to eat it again thinking the heat would intensify as it sat. Not the case. The heat is still present, but has mellowed nicely.

This soup usually feeds us for 3 or 4 meals. Hope you like it as well as we do!

Lilli, it’s time for your closeup…

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

The second session of my painting workshop started last week and as part of forcing myself to show up and just do it, I am blogging about it. It adds a layer of accountability that really pushed me forward in some way. If you read any of my previous posts about it, you’ll know I don’t in any way consider myself a painter. My day job is not going anywhere.

Last week was all about finding a devotion in the mix of it all. It seems like authenticity and equanimity seem to be the current recurring themes in my life so rather than fight it, I squoze out some paint and jumped in the deep end.

This is a pretty crappy picture. I don’t know why I have such a hard time with an autofocus camera. My first pass at this was just swiping some color on the page.  If I remember correctly, it’s 28×40. That’s a lot of color swiping. Pink, lime green, grape and yellow. I am not sure why those colors, I just went with what seemed to grab me.

The next morning, I was walking by and saw the swirly arms of a starfish, so I picked up the jumbo Sharpie paint pen and just drew it in before I walked out the door. I think it was a day or so later that I got to painting again and defined the star a little further with the butter color and embellished with the burnt umber and turquoise.

When my energy strayed from the painting, I tried to nudge it back and made an effort to remain present. I wanted to be equanimous about using all of the pain I squoze out. I didn’t want to favor one color over another. I then was also equanimous in not making any judgements about what or why this painting is, but rather thinking that it just is…

This week we were challenged to play. Here’s where Lilli Munster rocks the house.

I think Lilli was less than a year old in this picture, but she remains pretty much unchanged at six. She gets a short hair cut about every 3 months to not become a matted mess because princess that she is, she’s not having any part of the grooming required for her to have long silky Yorkie hair.

As I got ready to paint last night, she was scratching at my leg for some mamaa time. I picked her up but she was restless so I gave her a treat and she settled down for her portrait, facing away from me, of course.

Meet Muppet Lilli Munster. Elizabeth declared that it shall be framed and installed over the toilet in the main bathroom. It’s cracking her up that any male guests we have over will have her staring at them when they pee. I think she looks none too pleased.