How do you spell “frustration”? Two runners up: half-baked iPhone blogging software and craptastic (Future) Internet connections.

But, the real winner for frustration — being 5,000 miles away from the next ball of yarn for the knitting project which is on a Christmas delivery deadline ๐Ÿ™


One of these years (evidently, not this one), I’m going to get better
at starting meal planning from what’s available, instead of working
from recipes and engaging in elaborate scavenger hunts to find the set
ingredients.   Now, it’s not the south
or anything, but there is a summer Farmer’s Market on
Grand Manan, and goodness knows there’s plenty of local fish and
seafood to be had.  And, it’s always a bit of a gamble as to what
will be at the grocery store on any given day — some days, the chicken
thighs are boneless/skinless, some days they’re not.  Some days
there are lemons but no limes.  Others, it’s the red onions that
have vanished.  I have sympathy — inventory control must be
hellish on an island that can double in population on a sunny summer
weekend, and who knows what they’ll all take it in mind to want by way
of groceries.

So I decided to make Indian Butter Chicken.

Actually, I was looking for a set-and-forget meal, and came across one
Chicken Makhani
, and decided to give it a whirl.  Of the
ingredients I needed, the grocery store was obliging with the chicken
(though with bones & skin) and the lemon.  IXNAY on the curry
powder, coconut milk, and cardamom pods (garam masala, fenugreek —
right out).

Not deterred, I picked up some (unsweetened) dessicated coconut, and
headed home to sort it all out.  The Internet was as obliging as
usual — turns out there are Ways to
make coconut milk
from dessicated coconut.  Of course, that
requires spinning the drenched coconut in a blender (which I don’t have
on the island), and squeezed through cheesecloth.  Hmm.  I
didn’t have any of that in the house, either.    Moving
from “not deterred” to “obnoxiously stubborn”, I elected not to race out to the store in the
few remaining moments of openness on a Saturday afternoon, and worked
with what I had — my busted up  old Braun food pro, and a tea
towel.  I had to work very
hard not to think about how much fabric softener I’d used when I’d last
laundered it…

Coconut milk

Does that coconut milk look faintly blue…?  (No!).

Next up were the spices.  I knew “curry powder” is a generic label
applied to a spice combination you can (and should) make up
yourself.  Even with the lack of critical components, I wanted to
have a go — my random spice collection included some important pieces,
such as coriander seeds.  These toasted up nicely in a hot
pan.  Of course, I don’t have a mortar and pestle ono the island,
or a blender (see note above) or a spice grinder.  I was resigning
myself to resorting to the always-suboptimal ziptop and rolling pin
method (yes, I have a rolling pin — and no blender.  I didn’t say
it made sense, did I?), and then I recalled this trip’s extravagant
addition:  the table salt grinder, with its ceramic mechanism.

impromptu spice grinder

In the end, I didn’t have anything like the right components, but I
added extra dried mustard, and a bit of this and that, but the grinder
did it’s thing, and I had  curry powder & garam masala:

ground spices

In the end, I guess all that really mattered was the chicken and the
butter — set to slow cook for a number of hours.

en voiture!

And plated:

respectable finish

It was, actually, quite tasty.  A flavourful braise of
chicken.  Someday, possibly even soon, I will have to try the
recipe again with more of the expected ingredients.  It certainly
won’t be quite the same adventure, but I’m sure it’ll be tasty.

Almost FO!

I need to sew in the ends, cut off the test strip, wet finish this thing and take better pictures. But I can’t resist sharing a preview! My first weaving project, off the loom. It is very much a first project, with all the expected mistakes and shortcomings. But, it was fun! And, I think I’m hooked… ๐Ÿ™‚

Mood: Alive!

Amenities in an Amsterdam hotel: shampoo, conditioner and hand lotion in “mood therapy”.

Moods are: “calm”, “happy” and “alive”. I must confess, I had not really considered the state of being not dead was especially a mood, before!


That Time, Again

Well, yesterday, it was that time again —  time for a different
view on my way to work.

(Luckstone Quarry lookout, W&OD bike trail)


A momentary aberration in my daily commute — Bike to Work Day! (Or, as
I like to think of it — “Guilt-free eating day” ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).


Yesterday’s ride was 19mi in, and 19mi home, in about 90min
(each).  I was pretty pleased — given that the last time I’d
ridden seriously might well have been BtWD 2007.  I had arranged
myself not to have to bring lots of stuff with me (left the computer at
work the night before, et cetera).  It made a big difference not
to have to use a backpack.  Though, to do this on a basis more
regular than every 3 years, I’d want to do something about those knobby
tires, too.

Riding on the W&OD was mostly pretty good, except for the areas in
and around towns — it’s pretty hard to get bike traffic, cyclist
traffic, roller bladers (with their wide-swinging arms & legs),
dogs, toddlers (random and erratic trajectories) to mix on one
trail.  I only saw one accident — I think the toddler will
survive, and the cyclist picked himself up and passed me (again). 
But — far better than trying to deal with bicycle & car traffic on
some of the 8-lane concrete oceans around here.  It’s nice to have
the trail.

The Day After…

Leesburg VA reports 27.5″ of snow from the storm.

I’m still miles away on
a different continent, but, here are the reports I’ve gotten from
home — digging out.

08h00 Sunday, February 7, 2010 —
the sun does come up, post-snowpocalypse

08h00 feb 7

16h00 Sunday, February 7, 2010
dug out, to the road,
16h00 feb 07