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Mocknot's Amazing Cephalopod Circus!
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26th-Jun-2012 08:19 pm - Clam Screws
This is a favorite childhood recipe. I think its real name is something like "Clam rotini with white wine sauce", but I went through a phase when I was a kid of giving all my food descriptive names (ramen noodles were curly noodles until I went to college and trained myself out of the habit), and 'Clam screws' stuck. When I moved in with my vegetarian boyfriend (now husband), I was very proud of myself for figuring out to substitute marinated artichoke hearts for clams, so that I would be able to make this dish more.

So anyways, I have no idea where my mom got this recipe from originally. Some cooking magazine from the early 80s, probably, but since I haven't posted here in forever, I thought it might be good to share.

You will need:
16 oz box of rotini
1/2 cup olive oil
3 or more minced cloves of garlic (I really like garlic, so I go with more)
20 oz of canned clams (drained, liquid saved) or marinated artichokes (again, save the liquid)
1/2 cup of the cheapest white wine you can find
3/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Cook rotini to instructions. If it finishes cooking before you've finished the sauce, set aside.

In a fairly large skillet, heat oil. Add the garlic, and when it's golden brown add the clam/artichoke juice, oregano, pepper, and wine. Simmer gently, stirring, for 5 minutes. Stir in clams/artichokes and parsley, heat to warm but don't cook. If using artichokes you probably want to break them up a bit with your spoon. Stir in the rotini and you're good to go.

I think there may have been salt in the original recipe that my mom, a big propionate of salting to taste, took out, so don't be surprised if you end up adding salt to your finished meal. Other good toppings include red pepper flakes, hot sauce, or fresh basil.

Serves two people with lots of left-overs, four hungry people, six if you have some bread and a salad as well.
26th-Nov-2011 01:41 pm - Hi LJ it's been a while
:brushes away dust:

Not dead, just doing better at short blurbs on twitter or facebook or g+, and honestly this is pushing the limits of my ability to be social, especially as offline I've been very busy, and very social.

Short version: new job, got married, went on honeymoon, a few holidays, totaled car, bought new car...I feel like I'm forgetting stuff, but that should be the major highlights of the past few months. Also, new job involves spending all day playing with Photoshop (full-time job that actually requires my art degree! Yay!) but the end result is that I don't want to spend much time in front of a computer at other times.

Anyways, I'm in the middle of scanning sections of one of my sketchbooks and it occurred to me that I've been consistently keeping one for almost a decade. Which would explain why I have half a shelf of the things, and I'm a little terrified to imagine the reaction of a future historian or archaeologist who might discover them. At least there's a skill progression, otherwise I might have to burn the earliest ones.
20th-Sep-2011 11:03 pm - T -10 and counting
This is ridiculous.

There honestly isn't that much left to do for the wedding, and what there is are things I don't really care about that much (might not have anything on my head, OTOH means I don't have to figure out how to style my hair around it), things that can legitimately left to the last minute (flowers, else they will die, and it's three bouquets, how hard could it possibly be to make flowers look pretty. They're already pretty.) or is on a scheduled time table.

My new job is under control, meaning that I'm in training and learning a lot and still am not entirely solid on what I'm doing BUT I'm getting there, and everything I have to do is within my skill set. The worst part is learning the forms and the organizational system.

HOWEVER, the combination of New Stressful Thing and Approaching Deadline of Doom/Intense Social Event seems to have kicked me into...I'm not sure how to describe it. Adrenaline overload I suppose--lots of nervous energy to Get Things Done which can be very productive. I'm at my best for time management when I have to do it in blocks of an hour. But since I don't honestly have much to do, I'm just sitting here quietly vibrating.

Exercise at least is productive, and makes my body happy, except that for me stress kills my appetite, and even when I feel hungry I can't eat as much as usual, which makes getting enough calories to get through exercise tricky. AND, you know, not really feeling like being social with more than a couple people that I know pretty well at a time, and what's coming up? Oh, a weekend of socialization which includes relatives of D's I have never met.

Alrighty, enough of that, things are actually, objectively, going really well for me, and everything will be fine (which is what makes this stress adrenaline so annoying! It's useless!).
Today, I was talking to a visitor who was confused about how the Ptolemaic pharaohs of Egypt related to religion, and that whole divine ruler thing. This wasn't the first time I've had that conversation; there's an amazing number of people who have a lot of difficulty with concepts such as polytheism, but after I finished attempting to explain how the pharaohs could be avatars of the gods/gods in their own right, it took a turn for the special.

VISITOR: Are we gods?
ME: No.

This was not a question I'd ever expected to be considered an authority on, but at least he took my word for it. Unlike the guy who wanted to debate the existence of ancient giant humans. The answer's NO, people. A photo of "people standing next to really big bones on the internet" ISN'T proof.

Trust me.
24th-Jul-2011 10:58 pm - well I did go on here, didn't I
This weekend, at the tender age of 27 I had a revelation about why, despite having always had a very good relationship with my mother, I don't tell her about a lot of things.

It's because I find her way of being supportive difficult to deal with.

Hi livejournal, I seem to be intent on rambling and naval-gazing at you. That said, this might not be interesting to anyone who's not meCollapse )
17th-Jul-2011 09:51 pm - histor
Alrighty, this is an interesting bit of family history that was told to me tonight that I want to write down before I forget the details. We really ought to research this, as the whole thing is based off of what Great Aunt Edith said and no one really knows if she was making things up or not.

This story was also told to me by both my parents at the same time, kind of talking over each other and out of order, so I'm going to try and organize it a bit but there's details I'm not sure of and names that I've already forgotten.

So anyways, back in the years before the American civil war there was this Irish family living in Lancaster, Ohio. The father's name was (?) McGowan, the children were Jimmy, Jane, and Mary (my great-great Grandmother), and the mother had died some years before. McGowan and Jimmy worked on the canals, possibly building the Erie, possibly as boatmen, possibly both. Somehow the family became acquainted with William Tecumseh Sherman before he was a general, so when the war broke out and McGowan and Jimmy joined up, Jane and Mary went to live with the Shermans, possibly hired on as servants, although Mary would have only been about 10 at the time.

Now Jimmy apparently had a very interesting military career, and unfortunately this is where I got really confused. He somehow ended up with this group of saboteurs who were going through the South cutting telegraph lines and tearing up railways. Eventually the work up to stealing a railway engine (!), but the guy in charge of the station took it extremely personally, chasing the group for miles, despite that Jimmy's group was doing its best to tear up the track behind them as they went. They were eventually caught, and about half were hung as spies, but Jimmy was one of the ones that escaped, and he lived out the war. Someone named Anderson was involved in all of this, but I'm not sure if that was the guy in charge of Jimmy's group, or the station-master that was chasing them.

Like I said, not the most coherent story and I really have no idea how much is true, but it's better than the time I asked Granny about her family and couldn't keep track of generational differences because it seemed like EVERYONE had the same name.

ETA: This must be the incident with the train in question (thanks delorada!). And it was Andrews, not Anderson, and it was the train's conductor chasing them, not a station master.
16th-Jul-2011 10:52 pm - yo
Alrighty, I should probably post something here, as it's been a while. Unfortunately, my life has been same old, same old lately.

I started a real sketch blog, oh, a while ago here because I was bored, and felt like it might be a good idea to have a tidier place to throw sketchbook stuff. Also, the terms of service were clear about what I had to do to have nude drawings that wouldn't get taken down.

Last weekend I went out to Denver to visit friends, had a great time with much beer, mountains, and only particularly memorable crazy person interaction.

HIM: You are a princess!
ME: er...
HIM: I just cried, cried tears, over ART!
ME: While the amount of neon clothing that you're wearing isn't necessarily an indicator, something tells me that you might be really, really high.

Still managed to lecture about dinosaur evolution in a bar, though.

Also, I spent several hours at the Denver Art Museum. Given my job, I generally try to come up with questions to ask any exhibit staff around, because I figure they'll probably be happy someone's taken an interest. I recommend doing this, although if you accidentally hit upon a particularly lonely volunteer you might make a friend for the day. One of the exhibits at the DAM was on the ceramics of the Marajó island culture which were absolutely gorgeous, and mostly consisted of funeral urns. (if you have a spare moment look this up, is worth it, unfortunately a cursory google isn't turning up any images that do the real artifacts justice) So the deceased, or parts of the deceased would get placed in a large jar instead of being buried (not terribly practical given the climate), and these jars were probably passed down through families as after a few hundred years of doing this you'd start to have storage problems.

Other event of note was that on the way home from dinner with D last night, we drove past a "dueling piano bar". D thought this sounded like the most awesome thing EVER, so we found a place to park and went in to check it out.

Now, here's the thing: the musicians were very good, the bartender was very friendly and gave enthusiastic lectures on the history of what I was drinking, but we were in Kentucky and the music selection was on request. This means we had an evening of dueling piano renditions of Motley Crew, Oasis, and country songs I didn't recognize.

I almost asked for AC/DC.
28th-Jun-2011 10:56 pm - way to go Ohio
I am so incoherently furious about this it isn't even funny.

This is not particularly helpful given that the only even remotely productive thing I do about it is write angry letters at my state senator, and somehow I don't think spray painting "if you vote for this you hate women" across his lawn, while emotionally satisfying, won't actually win any points.
9th-Jun-2011 09:53 pm - I may have a problem
Yeaaaah. I do not understand my mental tendency to go "arg this is disturbing and upsetting I will avoid this topic...oooo this is disturbing and upsetting and completely fascinating and I will read lots about it!" Hence the current fascination with military history.

30th-May-2011 12:14 am - book report
Asprey, Robert. The Panther's Feast. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1959

This was such a weird book. I can't really recommend it exactly, but I feel the need to talk about it.

So over the past ten months or so, I've read somewhere in the area of 2000 pages of Asprey's writing. I'm not even exagerating, this is the guy that wrote the epic history of guerrilla warfare (~1200 pages), a biography of Frederick the Great of Prussia (~700 pages), and a biography of Napoleon (that I'm not finished with, am about 200 pages in). Compared to that, The Panther's Feast, at a measly ~300 pages is beach reading. It's also Asprey's first book, and unfortunately, it shows.

That said, even at his worst, and this would be why I've waded through seas of military history that if you'd asked me two years ago I wouldn't have said would be my cup of tea, his writing is extremely engaging,

Also, I know his scholarship got better. That issue right there was the major problem I had with the book. The Panther's Feast is the story of Alfred Redl, who was a highly placed officer in Austria-Hungary's intelligence bureau in the years leading up to WWI. He was also gay and prone to living above his means, two things that were exploited by the Russians in order to blackmail and turn him into a double agent. Redl was quite successful in both of his jobs for several years before finally getting sloppy and getting caught in 1913. He was allowed to commit suicide rather than stand trial, although in the end attempt by the military to keep the scandal covered up were unsuccessful.

So far, so good, right? It sounded interesting, and for the most part it was. To his credit, Asprey tried really really hard to get into the head of Redl, to see things from his point of view. Unfortunately, the way he did that was by making up dialogue, or inventing scenes that in real life probably took the form of reports or written corespondents, or were just Asprey's attempts to 'set the mood'. There were even points where the characters* were resorting to "As you know, Bob" lines in order to get the information across to the reader. That's bad enough in fiction, in something that's supposed to be non-fiction it was a bit of a wall-banger.

And also, oh god, there were sex scenes. Hilariously euphemism swathed sex scenes. WHY.

There was a lot of good information to be gleaned, mostly more general things about Austria and central Europe around the turn of the 20th century, but it had to be weeded out. This is not a book that can be swallowed whole and unthinking.

The thing that Asprey flat out stated was his intent with the book that I don't think he quite managed, was to figure out Redl as a person. I think Asprey may have decided on a combination of a desire to escape an impoverished upbringing, misogyny**, with a streak of sociopathy. Weirdly, and I suppose given when the book was written I should be greatful for this, Asprey didn't give a lot of commentary on homosexuality, other than to point out the various ways it left Redl open to blackmail and encouraged big spending which encouraged him to seek out extra income.

One of the most interesting parts of the entire book is at the end, after Redl is dead and the government is trying desperately to come up with an explanation for how the hell did such a high-level official get away with spying for foreign powers for so long without anyone noticing? And then he was allowed to commit suicide? As a Catholic?? There's this fascinating bit where an effort was made to research Redl's family tree to prove that he was really Jewish--no mortal sin of suicide, massive anti-semitic sentiment would have provided an easy explanation to the general public. He wasn't.

So in short, an interesting bit of history that I'm glad I'm now aware of, but by far the worst book I've read by Asprey. Do not judge his writing by this.

*In the afterward Asprey states that he changed names when it would be embarrassing to people still alive, however, in the text he doesn't in any way indicate when he did this.:headdesk: There's an edition that was printed in 1986, I'm so tempted to buy a copy (the book I read is the library's) to see if it's been revised.

**This is one of the most confusing parts of the whole book. At times it reads like Asprey's trying to push the "women as civilizing force" argument, at times like he's blaming Redl's troubles on not liking them enough, or that he thinks Redl blamed his troubles on women in general. It's problematic to say the least, and not a knot I can untangle on one read, without other sources.
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