Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Garfield Monday, Food Story (in which I am attacked by a turkey), and Book Rant

(Apologies in advance for the downer nature of this post, but this was one of those days. All attempts at humor have been scrupulously maintained and enhanced to maximize your amusement at this blogger's expense. Thank you.)



Some days are just bad. Some books are just stale. Some meals just don’t turn out quite the way you think they should. Sometimes no matter how good your intentions, things are just a go to hell. On a Monday. When you have half a field of hay cut and the mower breaks. And there’s rain in the forecast. And the baby won’t stop crying. And a ewe is lambing. And you’re out of coffee and chocolate. And your book sucks. And you’re walking in the rain after your boyfriend kicked you out. On your period. Without tampons.


Ok, so maybe Monday wasn’t that bad. (The tampon thing for instance. Stories like that are why I love working at the post office. Someone is always having a worse day than I am.) But by the end of the day I did lay in my STC’s lap, curled up in a fetal position, letting him rock me while we watched Brain Games. It was less a day that everything went wrong, and more one where nothing went right. The baby was restless and wouldn’t stop fussing, I was exhausted and there wasn’t enough coffee in the world to put me to rights. And Dad did break down, to the point that we’re going shopping for a new mower conditioner today. Of course, our old one had cut hay through military conflicts in Vietnam, Egypt, Somalia, Granada, the Persian Gulf, Libya, Desert Storm, Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan so maybe it’s time to retire the cranky old bitch.

We did find the missing Cowardly Dog, who’d run off over the weekend and managed to get himself picked up by a good Samaritan, who almost hit Cowardly Dog in the middle of the night. Cowardly Dog being cowardly like he is, someone opens a truck door and he jumps inside. Cowardly Dog made himself right to home at the Samaritan’s,  and seemed in no desperate state to come home. He probably got more attention at his weekend retreat than he does at home, and with a swamp right next to the house, Cowardly Dog was in heaven.
Heeler dogs.


I’d had great plans for dinner, had a recipe and everything, planned on actually cooking for the STC, instead of him cooking for me, as per usual. But like everything, it went awry. Not bad, just not right. The recipe I began with (get it here) called for New York Strips. I substituted loin. In a pan, grill each steak (or steak substitute) 2-3 minutes per side (or if you like your meat more done, go a little longer. Trust me. Meat will be just medium rare at 2-3 minutes). Remove meat from stove top and let rest in a marinade. We tweaked the marinade as well, by using a 9x13 pan and layering the bottom with a generous amount of cracked red pepper, salt and pepper (be generous with the salt, especially if you go with rice at the end), fresh chopped cilantro, olive oil and basalmic vinegar. Let steak rest 2-3 minutes per side in the marinade, then remove to cutting board and slice into strips. (Go with bite size strips. Again, trust me.)  After all the steak rested, we layered home-canned tomatoes on top of the marinade and added the steak drippings from the pan for flavor. Our meat is really thin, so fat isn’t much of an issue. Layer in the steak strips in the 9x13 with the marinade and tomatoes and cook under broiler for a few minutes until all is heated through and steak is desired level of doneness. (Use your own discretion here. I don’t mind my steak a little purple, so long as it’s warm through. STC likes a little less moo to his meat. So it’s up to you.) We served it all up with seared asparagus and bread. If we did this recipe again, we’d add brown rice, after its cooked about 40 minutes, then mix it in and let it finish cooking with the meat and tomatoes under the broiler. We were a little heavy on the spice, but thought brown rice would level it out. So while the meal was good, it certainly wasn’t what I started out trying to make.


We ate and it was getting dark, so I drove across to shut poultry in. They were all in except for the tom turkey. He and I had an, erm, altercation, so to speak and, well, let’s just say I can’t decide if I’m more upset over losing to a turkey or that he wasn’t eaten by coyotes on his night out of the coop.
(It was after this that found me curled on the STC’s lap.)

Despite barely surviving Frustration By Turkey, what really rounded out the day was since I had fiction off my desk and no book reviews pending, I had a chance to “free read,” as they called it when I was in school, meaning read what you want, baby slapping you in the face optional. It seemed like every book I touched, even one by an author I like, was just bad. Whoever puts a steak (wood, not beef) through the heart of the book idea “wise-ass sarcastic hero/ine inherits mystical powers that s/he doesn’t understand but everybody and their tom turkey does, then hero/ine becomes embroiled in magical shenanigans while trying to save the world/ master their powers/ solve a murder” gets a big kiss from me. It’s gotten ridiculous. Like Shaun of the Dead ridiculous. Some really solid writing advice I read the other day from Remittance Girl was that if your characters don’t want to have sex, making them have sex is akin to literary rape. Too often in books like these, the character just wants a stiff drink and a hot shower. Running them hither and yon, battling ancient forces, with old contacts stuck to their eyeballs just feels like literary abuse. Even Buffy liked saving the world from apocalypse at one point or another. There’s no joy in these stories, just formulaic banter that too often feels forced and miserable. If these characters hate life so much, what the f*&% do they fight for? At least give them a motivation, like they want to get that macaroni necklace from their incarcerated lesbian girlfriend who calls the girls from “Fora good time, call…” (Good movie, by the way.) Something. When I’d rather read Goodnight, Moon by myself after the kid’s gone to bed than suffer through one more page of moaning urban fantasy hero/ine, there’s something seriously wrong with the writing process somewhere.  

And yes, I realize I sound like a whiny bitch but trust me, the day was just rough. So here’s to a better tomorrow and hoping this chai tea turns into a whiskey and coke.

The meal I’m looking forward to next? Not sure what it is, but our one true ingredient will be turkey.