Friday, December 05, 2008

Thursday Thunks On Friday Afternoon

Or: Are you perpetually late?
A: Yes, oftentimes.

I haven't done a Thursday Thunks(^) thingy in a while, but this week's was sort of cool, so I'm playing along. Italics are theirs.

Suicide, House, neighbors, dogs, PB&J, STD's and accents
Welcome to the December 4th version of Thursday Thunks!
Where we make you think a little bit before you blog!

This week we will answer some crazy questions brought to you by Berleen, the color sky blue pink and the number 7 (as in the number of days until my birthday).*

1. Have you ever not thought about the possibility of suicide?

Huh? I don't think about the possibility of suicide most of the time. The last time I thought about it was yesterday in regard to Spalding Gray(^) when I heard a Talking Heads song (Love For Sale from one of my favorite movies, True Stories). Spalding Gray plays town leader Earl Culver, who never speaks to his wife. Spalding Gray died almost five years ago and it is still very sad to think about. He was incredibly talented.

2. How many dogs have you owned in your life? What kind? What were their names?
For a dedicated cat person, I've had a surprising number of dogs. Let's see...
a). Two red miniature dachshunds, Hans & Gretchen.
b). A Hovawart names Binky.
c). A red miniature dachshund named Pudgy (named for Betty Boop's dog).

Pudgy (Betty Boop's)
d). A black Cairn Terrier name Josephine (named for the giraffe in Josephine, the Short-Neck Giraffe(^) from the good people who brought us Mister Roger's Neighborhood. She looks like Toto, from the Wizard of Oz and lives with my daughter.
e). A very large black German Shepard named Dennis (he's here in the house somewhere). I can't remember why we named him Dennis, but it was funny at the time. A few days after we got Dennis, someone told me that they didn't like his name because it was the same name as her ex husband. But I'd already had his tags made, so he's Dennis. This is Dennis:

Upside down on the lawn, smiling for the camera.

3. In one word, what do most people describe you as?

Honestly, I have no idea. Whatever it is, I hope it's a nice word.

4. Do you watch HouseMD? Why not?

Used to. Not much anymore. No idea why.

5. What irritates you most about your neighbors?

Nothing at all irritates me about my immediate neighbors. They are all quiet and nice. There is one terribly bitter soul in the neighborhood who is constantly trying to upset people and cause problems, but for the most part, I feel sorry for her and bad about what must be a terribly lonely and miserable existence, but never really irritated with her.

6. Have you ever called someone in for some sort of abuse or neglect on humans, animals or property?

No. Though I did help capture a parrot this past summer and the Animal Shelter came and got it. And one time I called for a possum and another time for a sick crow. Does that count?

7. What color is the sky in your world?

I love that question when it's asked sarcastically with a mock-serious tone, but I'm assuming they really want to know, so the answer is... sort of gray and overcast.

8. Did you see those 2 planets that everyone is talking about this week?

Uh... I have no idea, so I guess not.

9. Would you like to submit your own question for future Thursday Thunks?

Maybe. How many would I have to come up with?

10. Do you have a skin condition? Are you gonna tell us what it is?

No. I used to have this terribly dry, itchy skin, but it was caused by eating wheat gluten due to Celiac Disease. When I found out I had Celiac and stopped eating wheat, it stopped being dry and itchy, and everything has been fine ever since.

11. Have you ever had an STD?

Do children count?

Honestly, no. Not even fever blisters. icky icky icky.

12. Do you do any crafts?

I knit and crochet. I work in felt (needle felting, wet felting, sewn felting); make dolls; and work in all types of clay (polymer and ceramic). I sew, too and do other things as the mood strikes me.

13. Peanut Butter & Jelly - what flavor is the jelly?

Strawberry or strawberry-rhubarb. They didn't ask, but the peanut butter would be chunky and the bread would be gluten-free.

14. Stripes or polka-dots?

Polka Dots.

15. What accent drives you crazy? Is it a good crazy or a bad crazy?

Men with a British accent are sexy, but men with a Southern accent is even sexier. For example, my husband, or Rafael Eledge(^) on Antiques Roadshow. Those would all be good crazy. That Southern drawl gets me every time.

Bad crazy would be a really harsh Northern accent. There is nothing good about hearing that.

Finally (for now), here are two videos from True Stories (see question 1):

Wild, Wild Life (with a young John Goodman)

People Like Us (more John Goodman goodness. This time he's singing)


* Their birthday, not mine.



I have been so busy the last few weeks. My darling husband's birthday. My first gluten-free Thanksgiving. A dental appointment, followed by another dental appointment (which was the last one, thankfully - at least till next time). A bunch of family birthdays. All of the things that make life good (minus the dentist).

So, let's see: Thanksgiving was wonderful. One of the nicest things about Thanksgiving, in fact one of the nicest things, period, ever, was that we went to dinner at the home of some dear friends and almost everything was GF. How awesome is that? The gravy was made with corn starch, the meats were GF, the salad was GF, the green pistachio fluffy stuff was GF (how I love that stuff), and they even purchased crackers that were gluten free! And, added bonus: I'd never had or even seen the brand before, but they were so good I went out the weekend after Thanksgiving and purchased two huge boxes.

Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers(^). Smoky, crunchy, really rich whole-grain taste. OMG-they-were-awesome.

But back to dinner: I was deeply touched that our friends went to so much trouble on my account, and I will never forget their kindness.

I wish I had photos to share, but we had such a good time talking and eating and having fun that my camera stayed in my handbag.

I brought my own stuffing, which my husband made, using home-baked GF bread. It was (at best) only meh; he followed the recipe I'd found, but it was too... something. The spices were wrong, I found it too sage-y. He did an excellent job, so no complaints there. I chose the wrong recipe, which I won't mention here because it came from another blogger's site. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it - I am just not a sage person, and haven't been since I participated in sausage making when I was a kid. Yuck. Phooey. We will try again, of course. We both love stuffing, and it was really, really close.

I happily ate it anyway, of course, because the gravy was soooo perfect. Even a sage overdose couldn't subtract from the joy of eating such wonderful holiday food with friends and loved ones. The ham and turkey were incredible. The candied sweet potatoes were sublime, baked in brown sugar syrup and then topped with marshmallows in the last few minutes to give them a soft/crunchy/toasted top.

I didn't have pie, because I forgot to bring any. I said I would bring some. I planned on it, but promptly forgot it in the do-you-have-the-diaper-bag-have-you-walked-the-dog-where-are-my-shoes frenzy to get out the door and to their house on time. I actually baked a really nice pumpkin pie, and left it at home.

When I baked my first post-gluten pumpkin pie, I experimented with a cookie crumb crust using Mi-Del gluten-free ginger snaps(^). Substituting the ginger snaps for the graham cracker-based recipe really wasn't right, though and the crust turned out ok, but a bit too buttery. I'll do it again, but with less butter.

The pie was awesome, though, because the filling was incredible. Here is my recipe:

Pumpkin Pie

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (I use fat-free)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt (half the time I forget the salt, and it's fine).

1). Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2). Mix everything together
3). Pour it into the crust
4). Bake for 15 minutes.
5). Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F
6). Bake 35 to 40 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
7) Cool.
8). Serve with whipped cream.
9). Refrigerate leftovers.
So basically your back-of-the-can/box/jar pumpkin pie recipe, right?

Not really. That's the recipe I start with, but it is never the one I end up making. I added 1/4 cup of finely chopped candied ginger (shades of James Beard's famous recipe). And I double all of the spices (at least) and add ground cloves (about 1/2 teaspoon).

It was delicious. It was spicy. It was forgotten. But I happily "made-do" with Watergate Salad.

Watergate Salad reminds me of family reunions and potlucks. Easter at my grandmother's house. According to Wikipedia(^), it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the famous Watergate complex of Nixon fame, so that's a puzzler. Here's a pretty standard recipe. If it's important to you, it's easy to find pudding mix, marshmallows and whipped topping that are gluten-free.

Watergate Salad
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, with juice
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

1). Mix everything except the whipped topping together in a bowl. The pudding mix will make everything else a creepy green color. Ignore this.
2). Once everything is well-mixed, gently fold in the whipped topping.
3). Refrigerate.
4). Use sugar-free pudding mix and reduced-sugar whipped topping if you'd like.
5). Serve and hear everyone happily exclaim, "Oooooh! The green stuff!"

So, that's what I've been up to. That and making tutus, sewing dolls, working on various other craft projects, making an advent calendar, getting my Christmas tree up, and so on.

Until later.