Inside my head right now

Recent random doings:

Read:

Ardulum Book 1. Juicy space opera goodness. I saw a recommendation by Seanan McGuire online,  and I second the recommendation and third it and give it many thumbs up.

Other than that, I’ve been reading seed catalogs, longform online articles about sunscreen & vitamin D. Also re-reading my own writing a lot in the process of revisions.

View:

Venom. Much more fun than I expected. Tom Hardy was entirely believable as a loser coping with an alien parasite. Slight letdown at the end with the alien.

 Smallfoot. Um. It could’ve been worse? I don’t feel the 90 min of my life were wasted.

First two seasons of The Good Place, and caught up with the current season.

Kitchening:

It’s “eat all the summer’s saved fruit!” season. I am perfectly willing to eat frozen blueberries as-is, raw & rinsed off, but Spouseman much prefers me to bake them into things. So. Faux cobbler gets made a lot (what’s that? I take a baking dish, pour in some rinsed frozen fruit w/a little sugar & lemon stirred in, dig out a couple of frozen apple doughnuts, enough to cover the fruit when chopped up and sprinkled on top, and bake until bubbly, browned on top, and delicious.)  I make it with sliced, peeled apples too, but mostly berries.

Gardening:

Garden things in January? In Chicagoland? WEIRD, right?  I helped with a seed bank seed-sorting project at Chicago Botanic. It was lovely. I got to play with screens, and pans, and an air column . Bergamot, penstemon, and prairie dock. My hands smelled like summer all day long, both times. Hoping I get to do that again.

 

Flashback cat pic:

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Atop the chair, Bruce the Magnificent. Beneath it, Scootercat in Lurking Evil mode.

No Context WIP snippet. I post these because I like them but am uncertain whether they work, by the way.  Yes, I would like to know if they’re totally meh, or if you like them too.

Jack saw the rising column of smoke in the distance as soon as the teleport haze cleared around him. The tree-lined neighborhood street was empty, but shouts and wailing sirens were audible at a significant distance.

He bit back a snarl. The smoke meant they were going be late to the incident site no matter what they did, when every second counted.

And that’s a wrap.

Inside my head in the new year

First life update of the new year…for whatever extra that’s worth. This edition is a real grab bag of random tidbits.

The latest in random thoughts & searches:

  • How long is a giraffe’s neck? (1.8m, if you were wondering.)
  • Capybaras in Japan why?
  • Breyer black horse white mane
  • alpacas compare llamas
  • biochemistry neurotransmitters

Recent doings:

Reading

  • Blackfish City by Sam J Miller. Epic amazing wonderfulness. Bleak, beautiful, but brimming with hope.
  • a variety of romance re-reads. Fluffy and forgiving of my inability to focus on ANYthing.

Viewing

  • The Lord of the Rings extended editions & the Hobbit (yes, again…)
  • All of Game of Thrones including the animated history prequel.
  • WestWorld season 2. And then, because I needed a long, cleansing bubble bath for the inside of my brain…
  • Wreck-It Ralph and season 3 of The Good Place. Ahhhh, much better.
  • Crazy Rich Asians arrived at the library, so I watched that too. SO GOOD!!!

Kitchening

lotsa cookies. Lotsa soups n casseroles. Many breads. Because winter = great excuse to use the oven as much as possible.

Acronyms which resulted in long, meandering internet click-journeys from site to site to site : ASMR, BDS, PEDD, ILOH, TNVR, HGH.  None of them are related to each other, and none of the official definitions come from Urban Dictionary, so it’s safe to satisfy your initial curiosity if it’s been piqued.

Have a random cat pic:

(edit to add pic that didn’t ADD the first time)

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Flashback to Scootercat’s third Christmas.

And a bit of the WIP because it makes me smile. It might be the new first line for Sharp Edge. I’ll post the other possibility in the next update. (I have two scenes that are equally suitable as openings, haven’t decided which to use.)

Nothing made Valerie Wade more nervous than meeting someone else’s eyes for the first time. Would her vision reveal inner beauty or hidden monstrosity? She saw essential truths as well as externals, and that made every introduction an exercise in courage.

Until next time!

Writing hard, cookies easy

I’m not getting any creative writing done because reasons, so to quiet the brain buzzards I figure I will share a baking adventure. WITH PICTURES!

(What are brain buzzards? YOU know. They’re the lurking voices inside that squawk, “quit whining and do the work, lazy woman, Real Professionals produce, you could do more if you tried harder, blah, blah, blah…I mean, they’re right, but I prefer to drown them out than listen.)

ANYway. Cookies.  Swedish butter cookies were a holiday tradition when I was growing up in the Morris household, (the M in K.M. stands for Morris) I recently found my mom’s mother’s recipe card for “Grandma Watson’s Swedish Butter Cookies”  complete with instructions for a “slow oven” and mentioning butter from the ice box. I haven’t scanned the cards yet, so no pic, sorry.

These cookies were a one batch once-a-year treat because, while they were delicious, making them was a demanding process requiring tons of work, complicated prep, and expensive ingredients. And drama. I remember much trauma with stickiness, wax paper, and fretting about wasted dough &  much worry over burning. And they never came out quite right despite always tasting fab.

Then I made them for myself the first time on my own, away from the traditions and procedures of my youth. And I learned a secret I’ll share today: THESE ARE THE SIMPLEST COOKIES EVER.

Unless you are a perfectionist. Then they are a hell recipe. I am not a perfectionist. My kitchen mantra is, “More flavor, less effort.”

I can whip together a batch of these cookies faster than the oven preheats–which is saying something because a “slow oven” is only 325 degrees F.

So. Let’s make Swedish Butter cookies together.

Start the oven preheating, make sure the rack is in the middle for best baking, and gather these ingredients: IMG_5238

Yeah, that’s all.

1 stick butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1-2 tbsp of syrupy goodness.  (I like half honey+half almond extract. Maple syrup is popular with others. The big thing is, some sugary syrup. Things don’t cook right without it.)

Here’s the one paragraph summary.

Cream the butter & sugar, add in the syrup & mix until creamy,  mix in the flour until it forms a lumpy dough, form up into a ball by hand, divide into four lumps and roll into sticks, dust with colored sugar if you want, and bake 20-25 min at 325 until golden. Cut while still warm. Done. SO. SIMPLE.

The devil is in the details. Pics are worth a thousand words, so here we go:

Cream butter & sugar, scrape down the bowl & add syrup, it looks like this:IMG_5239

Mix in the syrup until it’s all creamy like this:
IMG_5240

Then scrape down again (the red bit in the pics is my bowl scraper resting on the mixer stand) add the flour and mix until it comes together. Note that it isn’t all in a single ball, and it’s STICKY:IMG_5241

Don’t add extra flour or liquid or mix with the mixer until it’s a single lump, the cookies will get kinda tough (BUT NO BIGGIE IF YOU LOSE FAITH AND DO THOSE THINGS THE COOKIES WILL STILL BE DELICIOUS)

In any case, if the dough doesn’t come all the way together after a minute or two of blending, stop the mixer and push it together into a ball by hand with the scraper. Then divide the ball into 4 parts and shape into logs.

Did I mention it’s sticky? How gooey depends on too many factors to worry about. This is where I get mega-lazy. If the dough can’t be handled easily, I run water in the sink and wet my hands before dividing & shaping the dough, re-wetting whenever things get unwieldy. And don’t stress the logs being equal sizes or the same length or evenly rounded. Close enough is fine. Mine came out pretty well this time:

Sprinkling with colored sugar is totally optional. But yes, i flattened the tops to make it stick better

So, now all you have to do is bake them. 20-25 min at 325 degrees. When they’re going golden brown on top (or around the edges, if you sugared the tops) pull them and cut into slices. Cool and then try not to eat them all in one sitting.

So, there it is. A cookie post. Enjoy.