Saturday, March 31, 2012

Domesticity Log, no. 6 | Bean "Meat" Balls

  • 2 cups dried white beans, soaked overnight (or, 1 1/2 15oz cans Cannellini Beans, drained & rinsed)
  • 1 small jar roasted red peppers, rinsed, or 1 fresh red pepper if in season
  • 2-3 stalks green onion, chopped (or 1/2 medium yellow onion)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano (I used much more than this, however)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Thoroughly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Combine beans, red peppers, onions, & garlic in a food processor.  Pulse until chopped, but not smoothly pureed.
  3. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and stir in oregano, eggs, breadcrumbs, salt, & pepper until well combined.
  4. Form "meatballs" by rolling roughly 2 tablespoon-sized portions between the palms of your hand.  Place balls on the baking sheet, spacing evenly.
  5. Bake until the "meatballs" are firm to the touch and light golden brown, 15-20 minutes.
  6. Use with pasta recipes or in subs.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Photo Journal, no. 18 | Hello, Spring

One year, my penpal asked me what sorts of flowers bloom first in a North Carolina Spring, and I was at a complete loss as to how to answer her, because I'd never really paid that much attention.  So now, I photograph them all to remind me.  One day I might even cross reference the photos and start to learn their names.

Hello, Spring.  You've been hot and stormy and cranky so far, and as a result, everything's become so green so quickly.  It's like a symphony made up of entirely one instrument--a symphony of trumpets--that's how I read it described once, somewhere.  But, I'm so eager to get my plants outside and in the ground, so welcome.  Welcome, welcome, welcome.

P.S., Spring, Grandma said she's never seen so many freckles on my face, even though I wear sunscreen daily.  So feel free to keep the clouds coming, when I'm outdoors, I mean.  Can we arrange something?  Compare schedules?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Scintilla no. 12 | in Review

No prompt waiting for me in my inbox this morning, and to tell you the truth, I'm a little concerned about what is to become of this here blog.  How am I to go on, without a prescribed set of topics on which to write.  No, lets be honest: I'm not worried about the state of this blog, I'm worried about the state of my very writerhood, because the truth is that I haven't considered myself a writer for a very long time.  Aside from letters and scattered journal entries, I do very little writing on a daily basis.  And, how I missed it.  I missed neurotically scribbling notes on the back of a farm brochure, the bus jolting my pen into writing strange, otherworldly symbols, like crop circles against the pictures of carrots and leafy greens.

Here's what I propose (to myself, mostly, as my readership is miniscule, but hello if you are reading this): how about a weekly rumination, or at the very least a paragraph here and there to accompany the photos I post (the above photo notwithstanding because, really, it speaks for itself--some godly litter for you).  I love picture-heavy lifestyle blogs as much as the next person, but for my own personal purposes, I need to be involved in something a little bit--wordier.  I have an Outlook calendar printed and some possible topics noted on a sticky pad.  Perhaps I can figure out some way to delegate my own prompts.  We shall see.  I'm terrible at delegation, truth be told.  And, even worse at following instruction.

In the meantime, you can find what I believe to be my personal best among the Scintilla posts here:
  • Get On the Grind Like Clockwork (Day 3, Prompt A: Talk about a memory triggered by a particular song)
  • My People (Day 7, Prompt A: List the tribes you belong to: cultural, personal, literary, you get the drift. Talk about the experience of being in your element with your tribes.)
  • Sitting on Porches on Rainy Days (Day 8, Prompt A: What are your simplest pleasures? Go beyond description and into showing the experience of each indulgence.)
And follows are the days that I very clearly (to myself at least) struggled--days when neither prompt (we had two choices daily) spoke to me even an iota:
  • A Boho Bedroom for Little Warriors (Day 4, Prompt A:  Talk about your childhood bedroom. Did you share? Slam the door? Let someone in you shouldn't have? Where did you hide things?)
  • On a Particular Pet Peeve (Day 10, Prompt A:  Pet peeves. We've all got 'em. What are yours? Write about a time when you experienced one so vividly that we all join your army of defiance.) [The other prompt choice was heartbreak, a subject which I will not be touching with a ten foot pole any time soon.  In fact, a subject which I will not be touching until I'm forced to when and if offspring of my own suffer heartbreaks or cause heartbreaks of their own.]
Prompt that I very clearly cheated on:
  • A Story Never Told, Almost [Not Even Remotely] True (Day 11, Prompt B: Tell a story that you haven't told yet. Give it a different ending than the one that really happened. Don't tell us where you start changing things. Just go.)  This particular story I had scribbled during a class around 2006-ish and found in the annals of my misguided college career while trying to search for inspiration on this very prompt.  I got more than inspiration.  I downright plagairized my past self. 
But can I just say how freaking proud I am of myself that I missed not one single day of this project?  I actually committed myself to something and then followed through.  This is huge for me.  I am a notorious flake.  (Just wait until you hear about the outcome of Lent--hah.) 

And, therein of course lies the very purpose of this blog (other than to share photos with out-of-state family; Hi Pop Pop!  Hi Aunt Susie!), to hold myself dern accountable to something.  I do want my life to go places, you know, but was born without the lobe in my brain which controls goal orientation and ambition, I suspect.

Will I participate in Scintilla again next year?  Yes.  Will I spend the next two weeks catching up on Scintilla posts I missed from other people who participated?  Yes.  Will I participate in Reverb again this winter?  Yes.  Will you be subjected to various to-do lists and plans?  Probably.   

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Scintilla, no. 11 | A Story Never Told, Almost [Not Even Remotely] True

A very small man jumped out from behind my soap dish and leapt onto a glob of toothpaste in the sink.  I was shocked, of course, and then relieved he was not a roach (because, naturally, that was my first thought).  But the way this tiny little man uncouthly stuffed sticky toothpaste in his mouth made me ill.  I turned the faucet on and tried to wash him down the drain.  He scrambled away quickly, though, and shook an angry miniature fist.

Photo Journal, no. 17 | On Sunday, My Kitchen to Salem Street, and Back

1-2. Traumatized by attempting to file taxes, I calm my nerves by making iced tea.
3. Chicken broth fat.
4. Seedlings in pyrex.
5. Bathroom ash tray.
6. I make Wolfman pose for dorky photos.
7. Red tea latte.
8. Aria's flower display matches my outfit.
9. Aria's bunnies, not actually taxidermied, I presume.
10. Journal.
11. Lunchbox Chaos Vaughn, good dog.
12. Wolfman, laughing while reading Fangoria.
13. Finished! Yum!
14. Somebody at the Vault's been taking notes while Wolfman speaks.
15-17. The Cigar Vault.
18. Rage Against Stephenie Meyer.  (She's the worst; more on that later.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Scintilla, no. 10 | On a Particular Pet Peeve

My Happy Obsessions
Drivers of the World: back up off the crosswalk—what is wrong with you?
Oh, but let me properly introduce myself.  I am Michelle, perpetual and life-long pedestrian.  Not only do I walk, a lot, but I love walking.  Walking is my preferred mode of transportation.  I saw in passing recently somebody describe archery like yoga—the focus of mind over matter, the precise intent of muscular memory.  Though I spend a good fifteen minutes of every single day in a downward facing dog position, I still think of walking as my personal yoga.  I could walk for hours, for days, for miles upon miles, and never get tired.  Just give me a good hat and a good pair of shoes.
Now, that being said: drivers are the bane of a pedestrian’s existence.  Fact.  In my travels-by-foot, daily I encounter some thoughtless driver to make me roll my eyes, or, on occasion, to force me to shout and exhibit rude hand gestures.  It is as if as soon as a person gains control of a motor vehicle, that person’s common sense (to say nothing of one’s very humanity) becomes obsolete. 
Dear Drivers of the World: you are not in that much of a hurry.  I know you think you are; I know you think the things you have to do are so damn important.  They're not.   (Medical emergencies excepted, but what are the chances that every horrible driver I have the displeasure to meet is in the midst of a medical emergency?)  Keep your eyes open.  Keep your hands free.  Hang up your phone.  What are you even talking about?  Who are you talking to?  Why do you feel the incessant need to fill up your life with meaningless chatter?  Be quiet.  Watch the road.  Pay damn attention.  Don’t run me over.
Drivers of the World: just because I walk, does not mean I need to be pitied.  I find myself remembering a disastrous date, in which I walked to the chosen restaurant because it was only few blocks from my house, a maybe 10 minute walk considering traffic, with sidewalks.  And, at the end of our meal, when this date realized I had walked, he seemed mortified for me.  His face fell with a sort of pity.  And, because I was not a great dater, I became embarrassed and apologetic and let him drive me home.  It wasn’t until a few weeks later that the thought occurred to me, hey, why is driving three blocks better than walking?  Fact: it’s not.  Driving every damn place is just silliness, not to mention it’s totally environmentally and economically irresponsible.  Do you know what it costs me to walk to where I need to go?  Nothing.  Do you know what it costs the planet for me to walk where I need to go?  Nothing.  Unless I step on a bug.
Drivers of the World: Do you know what a crosswalk is?  Stop forcing me to either walk into traffic or walk behind you, between your car and another car, risking some freak accident wherein a fender bender causes me to be smushed to death between so many tons of steel. 
What I’m trying to say is this: if I woke up tomorrow in a world where every car became Christine overnight and a secret trained militia took out every single vehicle in America, I would be pleased as punch.   And, yes, the twenty minute drive to my grandma’s house does become something like a two hour walk.  And that is what horses are for.   And if you want to talk to me about the impracticality of horse travel because horses poop, I am going to point you to that manicured lawn by the way and say, “Garden.”  Lawns are major pet peeve #2.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Scintilla, no. 9 | 23 Things You'll Never Hear Me Say

  1. "Have you heard the new Decemberists song?"
  2. "Cats are so adorable."
  3. "I'm thinking about going back to school."
  4. "I don't really have any girl friends; girls are just so petty and jealous--all my friends are guys."
  5. "Harem pants are so tacky."
  6. "I don't really read books."
  7. "Ugh! Rainy days are so depressing!"
  8. "I'm thinking about hitting up Urban Outfitters later today."
  9. "No offense, but that girl was totally asking for it."
  10. "Have you heard the new Death Cab song?"
  11. "I won't date a guy unless he drives a certain kind of car."
  12. "My career is really important to me."
  13. "Lady Gaga is an inspiration."
  14. "Perfect tanning weather!"
  15. "Ryan Gosling is so dreamy."
  16. "I'm trying a new diet."
  17. "Slut alert."
  18. "The Beatles are my all time favorite band."
  19. I don't really get the appeal of guys with long hair."
  20. "Steve Jobs is an inspiration."
  21. "God, sometimes I hate being married."
  22. "No offense, but I just don't think gay people should be allowed to get married."
  23. "Leggings are not pants."

Photo Journal, no. 16 | Notes on a Rainy Saturday

1. Wet sandals.
2-3. The view from the back deck.
4. Wolfman loves using the octopus whisk.
5. Somebody's been napping.
6. The bedroom.
7-9. A gift from Wolfman.
10. Casualty by kitten.
11. Clothes hanging to dry in the bathroom.
12. The view from the front porch.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Domesticity Log, no. 5 | Ranger Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup cereal* 
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
* Note on cereal: I keep a tupperware container in my cabinet for the crumbs and broken bits at the bottom of boxes of cereal.  For this particular batch of cookies, I think I used a combination of golden grahams, grape nuts, and some sort of wheat flake.

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix thoroughly butter, sugars, egg, & vanilla.  Stir in remaining ingredients.
  2. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 10 minutes.  Immediately remove from baking sheet.
Recipe via my beloved Betty Crocker's Cookbook, published in 1976.  '76 is also the year this book was given to my grandma, on her 29th birthday, from her mother.  And, when I turned 25 and moved in with the boyfriend that, within a few short months, would become my husband, my grandma passed it along to me.  

If we're judging strictly in terms of the quality of recipes, this book is perhaps not the best.  Lots of recipes call for cans of soup, for instance, or, like this very cookie recipe, call for vegetable shortening instead of butter.  But, it's good for basics; I often use the recipes herein as a starting off point for greater, improvisational kitchen adventures.  Also, the aesthetic of this book is so fantastic. So much use of the color orange!  And each section is divided by wonderfully dated photos (see the cookie divider below).  Also, my grandma personalized this cookbook in numerous ways--from adding notes, to pages of recipes, to the crewel embroidery pattern she used below as a pretty divider.  I have plans to reinforce all the pages, and perhaps add some personalization of my own for when I one day pass this along to our future daughter, Calamity Jane Vaughn.

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