It is a lovely new day here, cool and quiet.  So it seems like the perfect day to announce…. yes! my self-hosted blog! Now that is cool and new.

There are, of course, a few technical items to work out. If you notice anything going wrong, let me know. And update your bookmarks or whatever – I’ve got some new posts already scheduled over at the new site!

And until I get my bum in gear to write you a new recipe, at least you can eyeball the new layout and this photo of Greg’s last pasta-making extravaganza.

Greg's homemade macaroni
Greg’s homemade macaroni

It is probably a good sign when you peruse your own archives and think, Man, I Cannot Wait To Make That Again. I seem to have plucked forth all the gems in the last year or two and given them to you. And I seem to have no motivation left to make up new things. Perhaps it is our impending trip abroad that is causing me to scurry back and taste the old familiar favorites again rather than sally forth into new territory?

This recipe is an old-fashioned favorite (I may say that about anything involving rhubarb, actually. It just seems like such an old-fashioned vegetable, don’t you think?). They are the most ideal vegetable, though, for those of you that have a desire for sweet and tart combos.

If you’ve never had rhubarb before, though, let me caution you for when you prepare it: do not eat the leaves. You’d have to eat like, 5 pounds of leaves in order to die, but even a few – cooked or raw – could make you feel rather icky. Pretty embarrassing for whichever Ministry of Information and Morale person thought it up as a replacement for lettuce in World War 1.

Rhubarb Sauce
4 c. rhubarb
1/2 c. honey or 1 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. tapioca
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Combine. Let stand for 10 minutes or until some juice forms. Heat slowly to boiling. Cool and serve over ice cream/granola/plain.

Well, friends, have you been curious about what I have been up to since I blogged at you last? I don’t have any fabulous foods to bring before your attention – honestly, my urge for cooking has all but left me the last couple of weeks. So I thought I would make this the “I haven’t blogged, but I have accomplished other things!’ edition of Plot 124.

The garden started. We went to Michigan over Easter to see my family. I have made all the things below plus pieced a quilt top. Today in a fit of cleaning insanity, I rearranged the heaviest furniture in the house. We have ordered tickets for a trip to Japan and gotten our vacation days approved. I have experienced much rejection and a total lack of progress towards my long-term goals.

So, if you like one of the projects you see, or if you like me in general, leave me some comment love. And I will happily fail to blog for several more weeks to show you how deep my affection flows. =)

Check out this lovely mohair scarf!

Yes, that's binary code knitted into a scarf for a certain computer programmer I know.

I really can’t think what to call these. “Mushrooms made like poached radishes” is too long, as well as being inaccurate. These mushrooms ain’t poached. So that’s what I have been calling them. Their inspiration did arise from one of my favorite radish recipes, though. And man, they are killer along with some mashed potatoes and beef that’s been slow-cooked in stout. I wish I had cooked like 10 portabellas, because then I could have them for leftovers today. But alas, I only had one.

These Mushrooms Ain’t Poached
1 portabella mushroom, in bite sized chunks
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. dried parsley
1 Tbsp. butter

Brown the mushroom chunks in the butter. The secret to browning mushrooms, according to Julia Child, is not to crowd them in the pan. And so far as I can tell, she is right.

When they look browned, sprinkle over the parsley and the apple cider vinegar. Serve.

Well, after a long week, it’s lovely to have a dish that turns out delicious and takes a minimum of my time. (Recent failures that never made it to you: creamed slices of sweet potato. They do not work out and you may have to dump several teaspoons of curry paste in to disguise the mess so your patient, long-suffering husband will not have to hold his nose when he eats them. I mean, what? I am a faultless cook….)

Supposedly baked couscous of various kinds shows up a lot in Moroccan cooking. I honestly haven’t the faintest idea, because although my favorite restaurant of all time was a Moroccan restaurant, I am too intimidated to try much Moroccan cooking. But when the aforementioned long-suffering husband suggested this, I could not resist. What is the worst that could happen? It would be bland couscous.

The best that could happen? Read on.

Baked Couscous (fills a 9×9″ pan)
2 cups uncooked couscous
2 c boiling water or stock + 1/4 c. boiling water or stock
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. salt
sprinkle of pepper
1 large portabella mushroom, chopped
1/2 an onion, chopped
3 Tbsp. butter

Preheat the oven to 350. Saute the onion in 1 Tbsp. of the butter until soft.

Pour the couscous into your pan (I used a 9×9″ square) and pour in the 2 cups of the boiling water or stock. Allow the couscous to absorb the liquid. Add the extra 1/4 c. boiling water or stock – ideally you want a little liquid sitting at the bottom of the pan when this process is done. At the most, maybe 1/4 inch, though.

Mix the cooked onion, chopped mushroom, and spices into the pan and mix everything up thoroughly. Dot the top of the casserole with the rest of the butter. Bake, uncovered, on 350 for 20 minutes (or a little longer until the liquid from the bottom of the pan has evaporated). Add additional salt to taste.

This old-time favorite may have gone out of fashion when the lawn-fanatics declared dandelion a weed to be feared above all others (thank you, 1950s), but that does not make it any less wonderful. It’s the original micro-green, the fleeting first taste of spring. If the high-brow restaurants knew about it, you’d be paying like a zillion dollars for one bowl.

Of course, you’re getting in on the ground floor here. So take advantage of your status as an adventurous eater/sustainable eater/lover of slightly bitter greens like endives/lover of bacon. And heed the secrets of making the legendary dandelion green salad.

First, choose your dandelion greens carefully. Pick only greens in areas that you know have not been sprayed with pesticide. Wash your greens thoroughly, obviously. Pick greens only from plants that have not flowered yet. Once they flower, they taste very bitter.

Second, create the hot bacon dressing. Its creamy sweetness and (of course) the bacon offset the slight bitterness of the leaves. I really want to go back for a second bowl. But we already ate tonight’s installment (along with a heaping bowl of homemade macaroni).

Hot Bacon Dressing:
2 pieces of bacon
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 Tbsp. water
1 beaten egg

Fry the bacon and remove the strips from the pan. Turn the heat off. Immediately add the other ingredients to the bacon fat in the pan and whisk vigorously (to keep the egg in an emulsion and not as one giant fried egg mass) for a minute or so (until the egg stabilizes). Pour it over the dandelion greens (amount wise, about the equivalent of a head of romaine lettuce) and crumble the bacon on top.

You know what this dressing would also rock with? Potato. Salad.

This weekend, I received an incredible encouragement from a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. She said, “I like your status updates, because you say real things.”

I could have done a little dance. My brain cells were partying with my heart cells. And do you know why?

No, it’s not that someone found my writing engaging. No, it’s not even that someone likes me.

It’s about this. If the artists, poets, or musicians of our society fall prey to the idea that we have to varnish our day to day lives, market ourselves, slant everything in a positive light, and only say sweet things, art won’t matter. If we can’t share annoyance, anger, and despair in addition to love, gratitude, and wonder, then nothing we do will come within striking distance of the heart of another person.

In other words, artists have a mandate to stand in complete opposition to the advice “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

We should probably, however, still live by Wheaton‘s Law – “Don’t be a dick.”

So, my blogging friends, that brings me to my spring manifesto. It is very simple. Remember not to white-wash my life. But try not to be a dick.

It’s time, folks. Grab the last few winter beets… you might not see more of them until tomatoes show up. And here’s a great way you can use them. Well, assuming that you adore beets, potatoes, eggs, and horseradish as much as Greg and I do.

1. Peel and cube two beets and put them in a pot of water. Chop and add two potatoes. Boil until they’re soft. About 45 minutes for me, but, of course, less time the smaller you chop things. Use a fork to test the beets – they will take longer than the potatoes.

2. In another pot, hard-boil two eggs (at 24 I have finally managed to remember that hard boiled = at a rolling boil for 7 minutes, then turn the heat off and let cool. Well. Except for yesterday when I forgot about the egg after the water started boiling, it boiled dry, and then popped and left shards of egg all over my kitchen. I recommend either setting a timer or not leaving the eggs. See, don’t I make cooking accessible?).

3. In the meantime, combine 1/4 c. mayo, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, 2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. mustard in a small bowl.

4. Peel the eggs. Drain the potatoes and beets. Don’t be surprised that your potatoes are a medium shade of pink. It happens to the best of foods who come in contact with beets. Then cut the eggs up in bite-sized pieces and put them into the pot. Pour in the horseradish dressing and stir until everything is well coated. Good either hot or cold.

This is a spin off of a classic comfort food dish at our house – fried eggs (or sunny side up or dippy, depending on your locale) with hash browns and fried shredded beets. But I’m kind of on a potato salad kick, in anticipation of the actual green salad season, so I made the potato salad version! It’s fabulous! Good enough to kick the blues for a whole evening. One of my favorite things about it is that the horseradish and lemon juice are a high note compared to the beets, and the deep flavor of the beets and the creaminess of the mayo takes the kick out of the horseradish.

Man. I made myself hungry. I’ma go finish off the leftovers.

Well. No food posts today, friends. I have not come up with anything original – I have, however, made some delicious things from Coconut Lime lately. Head on over and check some of her fabulous recipes out. You’ll find something you like, I promise.

I am not sure what else I was planning to say today. I thought about it as I was driving by myself tonight, but I seem to have forgotten most of that. I feel like I have come full circle to two years ago, when I could barely force myself to work on art for 1/2 hour a day before flopping. I am just too tired and discouraged. I do not even feel like cooking, which is usually the way I ease myself into productivity. I start doing one necessary thing, like make dinner, and just don’t think about it until I have rolled gently into the next necessary thing.

I do not even have enough energy to think of one good thing about today to share with you, or to pretend that I am functioning correctly. So if you think of me this week, send me some happy energetic vibes.

I may have married an actual genius. Who else would go to all the trouble of making potato-onion rye bread for radish sandwiches on the first day of spring? And who else would realize that potato-onion rye bread, garlic mayo (throw 4 garlic cloves into the blender when you make this recipe), bacon, slow-roasted tomatoes, and the first lettuce of spring make the most killer BLT you have ever heard of?

Yes. A BLT. In mid-March. Sighs of happiness abound.

I also had an enormously odd realization. Back on my old blog, just before I called it quits and decided that autobiographical blogging might not be my thing right now, I posted this. All about how I was going to do a count up to 24 months post grad in which I made art every week.

I cannot say that I have made art every week over the last 27 months since graduation. I cannot say that I have completely avoided complacency, or that I am on the way to grad school. But I have certainly kept working. So I am going to consider this a victory, however minor.

It is a season in which I desperately need to feel victorious about something.

Also, do you remember when “and then I found five dollars” was the hip way to end every pointless story?

And then I found five dollars.