Sunday, October 25, 2009

Back in the Saddle

This past week was my second back at work after four or five weeks - I don't even remember anymore - on Family Medical Leave. It felt good to get back. Everything was right where I left it (which is mostly a good thing, but not entirely), no major disasters on my projects, my building pass still worked, and so far I've still got that rested-and-ready feeling. Structure, like anything else, is good if kept in moderation.

We're still fitting physical therapy into the schedule. If it's ok with some insurance company clerks who've never met my wife and whose medical background consists of putting a band-aid on their Winnie the Pooh doll's boo-boo at the age of four, we'll continue for the next couple of weeks. Progress is slower than my wife would like, but it's there. She's back to feeding the cats (so they don't have to like me any more if they don't want to), and doing most of the cooking again. (I did get to make a decent beef goulash with spaetzle and ginger-glazed carrots last night. At least I think that's what spaetzle is supposed to taste like.)

That ginger-glazed carrot recipe is interesting. It's from Alton Brown on, and uses ginger ale as the main element for the glaze. (It does benefit from an extra pinch of ginger, but the ginger ale gives it a better flavor than you might expect.) I never envisioned myself using ginger ale as an ingredient, but when you've got hungry mouths to feed you learn to relax certain standards. I've found this to be particularly true when one of the hungry mouths is your own. I draw the line at ketchup-as-ingredient, though. At least for now.

One final food note: this past week a chef originally from Jersey City (and a graduate of the county-run culinary school where I've gotten to take some weekend adult-ed classes) beat Morimoto on Iron Chef America. Most significantly, despite his Jersey City/Hudson County background, he appears to have won without any payoffs, threats or back-room deals. There's hope for us yet.

Why Bees Are Disappearing

The other day I was in the yard watching three bees working my basil plant. Basil is mostly leafy, of course, but if you let it overgrow a bit the branches grow small, pretty white flowers. The bees were sticking their faces into the flowers, doing whatever it is they do, and moving on to the next flower. A moment later another bee would come to the same flower, stick his face in, and do the same thing. Then the third. It got me thinking: is that sanitary? What if one of those bees has a cold? Maybe if we had some teeny-tiny surgical masks...

With Friends Like These...

It amazes me to think back at how hard it used to be to turn down Friend Requests on Facebook. It's a networking site, for goodness sake. Just because someone doesn't know me or any of the other 1500 friends in their friend list, or their profiles are offensive (defined here as expressing views different from mine) or not even in English, is no reason to risk offending them. But like learning to throw paper junkmail out unopened, it's something that gets easier every time you do it, and you'll get to wondering why it was ever hard in the first place. Enough requests to play Mafia Wars will do that.

I did make a Facebook profile in connection with this journal, and if you are of a mind to take a look, it's found under the e-mail address,, with the name T.M. Ben. And I promise I won't turn down your Friend Request.


Tawnya said...

I will have to have a glance! Ketchup as an ingredient, well I have a fabulous bacon cheeseburger meatloaf that uses ketchup as a glaze.. Soo good!

oldhousegal said...

Yes, ketchup & meatloaf! One cannot make a decent meatloaf without ketchup. If you disagree, I'm sorry, but you're WRONG.

Lori said...

I'll have to look up that recipe because I love glazed carrots. I'm glad your wife is doing so well. I had to laugh at your cat comment. Our cat does the same thing. He became my husband's best friend when the kids and I were out of town. lol