Gnome antics and soup disasters

I’m tired today, but it is my own fault and the result of a pretty good weekend following a shite week.

Many of my close friends were in town this weekend and, as we are inclined to do, we went out for karaoke. I don’t tend to make it into the city very often; I suck at finding a parking spot, most bars are too crowded, blah blah blah excuses. Can’t take public transport (I live in Oakland and the closest BART station is about 2 miles away… where I would have to find a parking spot in a bad neighborhood…double whammy.) So I tend ot avoid the city. I’m not much of a bar person anyway. I don’t really drink, even if I did, I’d have to drive home, so I wouldn’t drink, I am offended to pay $5.00 for a diet coke and most people who I don’t know at bars are creepy.
Long story short, I texted a buddy of mine who tends to post on Facebook from a bar in that area, if not the bar that we would be meeting at and wangled a ride.
It is Halloween weekend and I was told to “bring it” so I spent the whole day knitting and in fear of the kittens wising up to the fact that there was yarn, not 2 feet from their little yarnicidal, sleeping heads and made a hat for my outfit: a garden gnome based on this guy:

Fairly easy costume to make. I have a big blue barn jacket, hat was knitted from monster red yarn (based on the Last Minute Knitted Gifts elf hat), I bought a giant black belt earlier this year for this and I bought a baby bib and sewed a polar fleece cutout of a gnome beard on it (I skimped on the beard. Didn’t have time for the quilted/stuffed version I envisioned…another time maybe). I was going to wear my Keen black boots, but I couldn’t find them in the mess that is my kitten-proofed house, so I just wore a black shirt, black yoga pants and  black Keen tennies. (I was not displeased with this set up. I can guarantee I was more comfy and warmer than the 50% of the chicks dressed up in “slutty (insert name of costume here)” outfits out there though I suspect we have different priorities. Ahem. )

Met my pals, introductions all around (now I have a nice cross pollination of local and remote folks friends) and had a good time. Mike, a troublemaker, (or possibly Barrett, also a troublemaker) put a bug in my ear that I should do some Britney Spears song in full gnome gear (the hat and beard were mostly sitting on the table because it was hot.)…he wanted Toxic, but I don’t know that one, but I do know “Baby One More Time” it was ganky enough to go with a decidely unsexy looking gnome costume. I liked the dichotomy so I did it.

Haven’t done karaoke in a while. Mostly because every time I have been in a position to sing, my voice was wrecked by a cold from the previous several months.  So I got that weird kinda weak in the knees thing, which usually evaporates once I am actually on stage. People were pretty lively at this point and I think I was on key (we shall hope because I couldn’t hear myself). I vamped and spanked my gnome ass, pretended I was in a school girl outfit which probably translated pretty well to the gnome outfit. I actually got several high 5’s from random people in the crowd and of course my lovely friends. Fun.
Loved the absurdity.

I got home at 3 in the morning and then couldn’t sleep til 4, woke up at 9 and have been a bit of a zombie ever since. I was pondering some sort of vegetable soup with clear broth with dumplings in it (trying to avoid flour ones) but it went badly at first (burned some veggies and wasted a bit of chicken stock-gah, I hate waste), then the corn meal dumplings I attempted in the salvaged soup just melted so I scooped what I could out and pretended that the blue cornmeal left in there was a roux. I added chicken later and then let it sit  for a while with the significant carryover heat from my monster enamelware cast iron pot (well, I passed out for about an hour). When I got back to the soup, the chicken was silky and completely fabulous. The stock, thankfully wasn’t purple (I only had blue corn meal on hand ;) ), just slightly thickened, the veggies didn’t retain any burnt flavor (I test drove some before I added them back in to the new pot of stock/bacon/onion/wine deglaze). So I resigned myself to a somewhat boring, but still good soup.

So I handed a bowl to Tex with the allowance that he could put whatever he wanted in there to jazz it up. He added some cheese (but he puts cheese on everything anyway) and then demolished the bowl. Second bowl, he used Tostitos Scoops to eat the soup and pronounced it perfect.
Sigh, but ok.

Recently I had a hankering for a cookbook, which I never buy because there is usually only one recipe I like and the rest are icky so  a book hangs around gathering dust and being deadweight. Instead, I looked online to see if there was a magazine that might fill the need. Found Saveur on Zinio and the first issue had a bunch of soups (Hungarian, German) in it. Just drove home the point that I am a peasant food fiend. (I’ve said for a while that I cook “trailer park with Trader Joe ingredients”.) A couple of the Hungarian soups  looked really nice…aside from the recent spate of soups I have made, I’m not really a soup fan. But I’ll be cooking more soups in the coming weeks… and test driving some yummy stuff I found in this month’s issue.

I still might buy 1 or 2 of the cookbooks I saw out there while I was snooping around. They have a kindle versions which will satisfy my less crap rule. One of them is the new Paula Deen cookbook. She and I seem to work well in terms of taste. I think it is because the influence of where I grew up in West Texas is from Georgia settlers. I used to be able to place a Texas accent within 50 miles (though I am out of practice and its more like 150 miles now) but when I heard someone talking and I asked them “Where are you from? You sound like home.” they said Atlanta. This makes sense after I read an article on Texas accents in Texas Monthly a while back. Anyhoo, her recipe collection was standards and handed down recipes. I like this kind of thing. I’ll do my own variations on those.

The other one was one I sort of wanted to do my own version of from my family A recipe from a daughter/granddaughter/niece etc from a relative and a story behind it/sketch of that person. (I’ll have to find the link again.  Stay tuned.) Maybe I’ll get a gift certificate for xmoose and get those. For now, I think I’m ok with my normal web based search for recipes/techniques and the new magazine subscriptions. (Though I do see that the Julia Child Mastering the Art of French Cooking is on e-version… mmmmm. That could be good, too. French cooking is a profound yes for me despite all my trailer park. Don’t forget that a lot of French are basically farm/rural folks with simple, but rich food.)

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