17 Aug

Now, More than Ever

You get laid off. You go to Spain. It’s what Hemingway would do. Or shoot up the savannah.

On Sept 7, I’m laid off. On Sept 9, Debby and I are going to Spain. Not as a fuck-you-take-that! move. We paid for it in advance (some would say we paid with 27 years of marriage and 5 kids–to them, I say fuck-you-take-that! We’re going to Spain to have a good time! Madrid. Barcelona. Toledo. Now, more than ever.)

If you want to know what it’s like to be freshly off work, day-to-day, with photos, visit my friend auGi’s blog.

But I’m still on the job, carefully erasing traces of myself by transferring my important work to the survivors and gifting them with short term job security. To be fair, I was already working myself out of one role and into another (better) gig in-house, when I was called into the Head’s office and given the bad news. Thanks to a flat profit curve and the hunger of VC’s, my new role had dematerialized. (McCoy was right about stepping into a Transporter.)

It could have been worse. I could have been let go because I was lazy and skating by instead of too expensive to keep around. (After 12 years, I was no longer a cheap date, even with the lipstick.) Or I could have kept doing the same work, hiding in the mists of my increasingly opaque contributions. Wally’s World. Day. After. Fucking. Day. (Some places, even that’s a luxury. But it doesn’t have to be.)

When I die, my conciousness might spend a millisecond or two wondering what it should have done differently. Finished the third novel. Rescued that homeless wretch on the sidewalk in winter instead of stepping over him. Not yelled at the kids and dog. Not been such an overall unpredictable bastard.

What would I have done differently if I knew back in June that my job was on the chopping block? Bought more fruit baskets? Taken a paycut? Offered to do the work of three people (sacrificing two younger employers to the marketplace)? Handed out gift certificates for VIP lap dances at Union Jack’s?

No.

I would have made sure all my old blog entries were sharp. Sharp like puppy teeth. (You think those aren’t sharp? Come on-a my house.)

Sharp like 

Sharp like 

You get the picture.

I could have pointed to my blog in my resume. Instead, my blog’s more a plate of brain scraps left out in the (oh my god that woman’s calves are sexy all the way up…fuck fuck fuck never blog outdoors in 98.6 degree weather) sun than cool, snappy, sinewy observations, analyses, or fiction only a flagship zine could love. Nope, almost every moment here’s an “oh yeah,” every entry a sausage link (specialty meat).

Well, I can still act for the future. This entry marks a sharp left onto a one-track mountain road with no guard rails and a view so real you can’t tell if its real or iPad. Write my expletives off to job-loss stress, nod your head if you’ve shared the experience, and let’s get on down the road together.

Note: I’m not being heavy handed with the f-bang! because it’s a good barking mad word or to show my toughness. I’ve survived puppy teeth with all my fingers intact, so you already know I’m tough. I use it because it seemed like the best way to bold and underline an exclamation point or beat my forehead on the wall in prose, using my limited vocabulary. Because it’s a fist bump but not a fist shake. And because I say it far too often.

 

15 Aug

Soup

From Deborah Kremer, Chief Soup Chef at chateau Kremer. She wrote this last fall in email to share with friends and even though she says fall, I say all year long.

Hello Hello Hello !

Welcoming the fall weather with warm, hearty, and nutritious soup is what this time of year is all about. Ok, that and tight budgets and time and health.  So soup it is !

Here is a very basic soup that I use to build different styles and types.  It usually takes me 25 minutes from start to letting it simmer until it’s time to eat. You can let it stew longer if you wish.

The measurements are not exact and to tell the truth, until I was making it tonight I didn’t pay attention to the amounts of herbs and spice. So tonight I did just for you darlings.

The finished amount can feed four with side dishes and leave a little for next day’s lunch.

  • 1 medium to large onion—-chopped
  • 1 block of extra firm tofu
  • 2 cans coconut milk (or 1 can coconut milk and 1 can water). Add more coconut milk and water as desired.
  • 1 to 2 cans of cannellini beans/white kidney beans
  • 2 tsp of bouillon per 2 cups of liquid, either vegetable or chicken base (beef is too heavy)
  • mushrooms sliced, any amount (or none at all)
  • 3 cloves garlic minced (add more or less, depending on your love for garlic)
  • 1 tsp oregono
  • 1/2 tsp tarragon
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • kale, as much as you like. We like it alot.
  • Optionally, cooked rice or quinoa for the bottom of your soup bowl

Directions:

You can use a saute pan and a pot, or a deep pan for sauteing and souping. We use either, depending on how big the batch or how much room we have on the stove while cooking. These instructions use the one pan method.

  1. Add a splash of oil to pan and warm up or soften the onions and garlic. Set them in a bowl.
  2. Add the mushrooms, sauteing until they are light brown. Alternately barely cook them or leave them raw. Set them aside with the onions.
  3. Cube the tofu. Add a bit more oil to the pan, then add the tofu. Let it cook for a minute or two and gently stir it.  When it become easy to stir, add the herbs and spices.
  4. Crush the herbs and spices with your fingers as you add them. Let the tofu soak up their flavor for a few moments. Now put Tofu into pot and
  5. Add the coconut milk (or milk and water), bouillon, and beans. Stir in the sauteed onions, garlic, and mushrooms.
  6. If you’re making rice or quinoa, start it now while the soup simmers.
  7. Let the soup simmer until it tastes right. Add the kale and turn off the heat.
  8. Add cooked rice or quinoa in the bowl before adding soup, or use rustic bread. Sprinkle cheese on top–it’s like frosting for soup.

For additional flavor and overall goodness add:

  • curry spice
  • ginger (either or both for a Morrocan-style flavor)
  • carrots
  • sweet potatoes
  • zucchinni—–add next to last since they are a softer vegetable and may mush
  • green beans (frozen or fresh)
  • Any other firm vegetable in your kitchen

To prep hard vegetables like carrots, you may want to microwave or steam them for a moment (only to just inject the heat or they’ll turn to mush in the soup). Alternately, grate them, providing a fun twist on texture, or jullienne them and saute until they start to soften.

We’ve made at least a dozen variations on this recipe. Remember to have fun and experiment with the flavors to complement your tastebuds! Be sure to taste along the way.  If you’re trying a new herb or spice, start with small doses.

© 2011 Deborah Kremer

02 Aug

dotEPUB

In that last rambling post about Nook, I completely forgot to mention dotEPUB, which can print any web page in epub or mobi format with an option to leave or strip links. I have it installed as a Chrome extension.  It’s completely kick-ass and a far better solution than printing as PDF (I think).

The author also provides an online converter for people who want to convert their own text (requires MD format).