Sunday, October 13, 2013

Spicy Bacon Dream Soup

By which I mean, this recipe literally came to me in a dream. It wasn't even a full night's sleep, but an afternoon nap, which seems somehow less witchy and dignified. Nevertheless, it was quite a vivid dream, and when I woke up I realized that I had all the ingredients in the fridge. I went ahead and made it, and it was pretty much as delicious as you would expect for a soup that somebody literally had a premonition about. So I can confidently say that psychic powers exist, but maybe only in regards to soup.

You could make a nice veggie version of this, with mushrooms instead of bacon. But it was bacon in the dream.

You will need:

6-8 medium red potatoes
1 tablespoon crawfish boiling spice (or Old Bay seasoning, in a pinch)
1 large onion, chopped
2-5 cloves garlic, to taste, coarsely chopped
6 strips bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups cooked whole kernel corn (canned or fresh)
Enough broth to completely cover the other ingredients
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
A lemon

The broth: Better than Bouillon is my favorite brand, and they make a faux-chicken stock I use for everything. You can make it while the onions are cooking.

In advance: Boil the red potatoes whole in the crawfish* boil (or Old Bay) until cooked through. Drain and let cool, preferably overnight, but at least for a couple of hours. When cool, cut into quarters and put aside.

In a medium soup pot, add onions and olive oil. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until onions start to brown a bit. Add bacon and garlic, and cook together 5 more minutes. When everything is slightly browned, add broth, quartered potatoes and corn. Simmer over low-medium heat for about 20 minutes. Add more broth and salt and pepper if needed. Right before serving, add a wee bit of lemon juice.  Serves 4, whether regular people or soup-related clairvoyants.

*Crawfish boil, despite the name, is vegan. Most contain cayenne, salt, celery, lemon powder, and sometimes MSG. You can totally make your own, but I'm too lazy.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

My Family's Old Neighborhood in Winnipeg

 Above: This is the house my dad grew up in, in North Kildonan, a suburb of Winnipeg. I went out there with my dad and uncle. It was so cool to see it!

Below: The back yard, and the shed my Granddad build himself, circa 1965.

Below: Now this is really cool. Behind the house, there is a dog footprint... it belonged to my uncle's dog Princess, who stepped in this concrete in 1970, when a crew was paving the back lane.

Below: a back lane. Many of the older suburbs in Winnipeg have a back lane running through the middle of the block. People used to park their cars back there. The back lanes felt very woodsy compared to the rest of the city.


I went to Winnipeg for a week, for my uncle's wedding. It was pretty fantastic to see my Canadian family, and meet my new auntie-in-law and her daughter. I haven't been to Winnipeg since I was a little girl. It's a vibrant, growing city, and incredibly diverse, culturally. I like to make fun of Canadian food sometimes, but I had all sorts of wonderful meals in Winnipeg--Greek, BBQ, amazing hamburgers, and my uncle's awesome cooking.

The weather in July was pretty wonderful--70 and breezy, a treat after New Orleans mugginess. In the winter, it can get down to 40 below. The buildings all have massive walls and half-inch, double-paned windows. Downtown, the skyscrapers have passageways between them, over the street.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Skully Dolls

 I've been making these for about a year. They're peg dolls, meaning that their bodies are clothespins, and their heads are round wooden beads. They have a sculpted base to help them stand. I used to use air-dry paperclay for the base, but now I use Apoxie Sculpt, a miraculous two-part putty that dries as solid as armor. They're incredibly fun to make, and much faster than my stitched and embroidered dolls. I got the idea originally from the cute little pincushion dolls from PicalilliPatchwork, when they were featured in Art Doll Quarterly. I've diverged a fair bit from hers, though. The clothespins and wooden beads are available at most craft stores; I got mine at Jo-Ann's. (You can also get a starter kit from Picalilli's Etsy shop here:

More Mardi Gras

Top to bottom: Fog in the French Quarter, the view of the city from Algiers Point, me in my Mardi Gras wig and headdress, St. Ann's Parade.

Mardi Gras! Only 4 months late!

We had a lovely time! My sister and her sweetie were in town, so we had a proper Mardi Gras posse. We started the day with a healthy breakfast, and then a slightly less healthy second breakfast (booze). We walked with the St. Ann's parade (first picture) down to the Mississippi River (second picture), which was completely socked in by fog. It was quite magical, and we hung out on the levee for some time, visiting with friends, singing songs, and, of course, drinking booze. (Though nobody got too ridiculous.)

Then we took the free ferry across the river to Algiers Point, and hung out over there for a while. Then we very, very gradually walked home, with many stops along the way. We managed to stay out until almost 10pm, which is a full 12 hours of Mardi Gras, which is way longer than I made it the previous two years.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A tardy post-Isaac update

We were fine. New Orleans proper was fine. Plaqumines Parish (the southernmost part of the state, the part that looks like a bird foot sticking out into the Gulf) flooded pretty badly, as badly as Katrina. However, they were able to get help in a timely fashion, because Obama un-gutted FEMA, and there was less competition for hurricane relief as well. Here are some pictures of our neighborhood on Thursday morning, about 24 hours after the worst of the storm. It was still windy. Here's the same under-construction house before:
 And after. It's since been fixed, and is now almost finished. But it's still ugly.

This fence blew down in the wind; again, this has been repaired since, mostly with the same materials. They kind of just hammered everything up again.

Leaf debris, everywhere. Everywhere. It was rather magical looking, actually. Like we were in the forest.

We lost power around 10pm on Tuesday night, and the most intense part of the storm was around 4am on Wednesday morning. We didn't sleep all that much--the wind was too loud. Our house is brick, with nothing to fix storm shutters to, so there were a few times we worried for our windows. But nothing broke. We stayed inside all day Wednesday, and ventured outside on Thursday. We never lost water or gas, luckily, so we were able to cook normally. All in all, we were pretty well prepared for the hurricane itself.

Thursday night, the wind stopped, and the storm was officially over. And then began the boredom. As I said, we lost power Tuesday night. We didn't get it back until Sunday afternoon. (And we were lucky. Some people had no power for 10 days.) We stocked up on ice and first aid and snacks, but we were profoundly unprepared for 5 days without internet, Netflix, or sweet, sweet air conditioning. What wusses we are. My grandmother was a WWII nurse, and she once had to singlehandedly care for an entire field hospital when the other nurses got dysentery. A hospital in Calcutta. And I bet she bitched and moaned less than we did.

Eran and I read every novel in the house. We took walks and drives. We went down to the French Quarter, which was the only operational part of the city, and charged our phones in bars. We played about 100 games of penny-ante poker. We helped our neighbors clean their yard. We filled the bathtub and just sat in the cold water, reading. We felt intense jealousy towards everyone with a porch to sit on. (Our apartment has almost bizarrely poor air circulation, even with every window open, as if it exists in its own windless pocket universe.) We yelled "Fix it! Just fix it!" out the window when we finally saw a utility truck. Okay, that was just me. The neighbors cheered. When the power came back on, we switched on every light in the house and put the AC on full blast, and danced around yelling "Electricity! Electricity!" and rushed to catch up on all our Internet bullshit. Next year we're going to stock up on board games and trashy novels before hurricane season. And possibly move to a house with a porch.