Friday Distractions

Friday, finally! Here are a few links to break up the work day…

Portraits of Grandmas and their cuisine from around the world – I’ve always wanted an Italian grandmama, this makes me want an Ethiopian and a Bolivian one too.

Lumosity – Extremely addictive mind exercises and games one can play all under the pretense of improving mental agility.  Brain benefits aside, I could play Word Bubbles ’til the cows come home. There’s even a game for helping improve your skills at remembering peoples’ names.

Cabbage Peanut Salad/Slaw – Eat this all summer long. We’re making a huge batch to bring to a graduation party – it keeps well (toss with dressing just before serving), it’s healthy, and it’s a crowd-pleaser.

7-Minute Workout – It’s already made the news rounds, but here’s a how-to video with bad synth music to get you through it. Pair this with the cabbage slaw and 2-3 RAKs and you’re just about at halo status for the weekend.

Potato Salad with capers and mustard – Also coming to the graduation party, but we’ll throw some hard-cooked eggs in too.

Toms River by Dan Fagin – A seriously worthwhile read.

Showcase Superlux – Totally ridiculous luxury theater, but we’re going to splurge for World War Z. Though on second thought, maybe dinner service and zombies don’t really play well together…

And on Sunday, Happy Father’s Day!  My dad raised five girls and, despite extensive hair loss, is still alive to tell the tale.

Yeah, we had matching Pluto sweatshirts. Jealous?

Yeah, we had matching Pluto sweatshirts. Jealous?

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Powaqqatsi

The last time I started watching the Qatsi trilogy I was hunkered down in a bottomless couch in a pitch black room with an intense sound setup wishing for some edibles, but just as quickly not-wishing, the opposite of wishing, because should previous wish had been granted, my head might have exploded. Fun to have been reminded of that experience while watching Alt-J’s video for “Taro,” which repurposes shots from Powaqqatsi, the second in the series.

Alt-J (∆) – Taro from David Dean Burkhart on Vimeo.

Haven’t had enough time to absorb the album to call out favorite songs, so you might as well download the whole shebang and throw on the noise-cancellers.

Mustard, Finally

mustard seeds & powder

Of all the jars of jams and sauces and condiments that jostle for space in our three refrigerator shelves, Sriracha against walnut oil, soy sauce (now only this kind, purchased in bulk. It’s life-changing!**) vs. hot pepper jelly, Cholula and Frank’s, mustard has the greatest footprint. Currently there are four bottles of mustard with varying levels smoothness, spreadability, and sinus-clearing spiciness, and of these, two are homemade.

A friend recently questioned the wisdom of homemade mustard when it’s so cheap to buy and so hard to finish.  Romantic comedies of a certain ilk tend to show a lonely bachelor or bachelorette squinting into the refrigerator light to find naught but an old, stained Chinese takeout container, a half-empty jar of mustard, and a bottle of light beer.  That just doesn’t happen in our house. First of all, we go through mustard about as quickly as ice cream.  (Not amazing ice cream, but decent ice cream that takes two weeks to polish off).  It goes on our ham, and cheese, and sausages, with just about every cruciferous vegetable, bread, crackers, salad dressing, potatoes, etc.  Secondly, even though it’s inexpensive, it’s still not that inexpensive when you like the type of mustard with the whole seeds, with that pleasing mouthfeel and tiny ‘pop’, and also when you basically eat it by the ladleful.  Third, there are a few food blogs I read whose recipes I trust implicitly, and when one of these posted ideas for a few types of homemade mustard, I was whipping up a batch within the week. Oh and fourth, it takes literally three minutes to make, not counting the waiting time. Literally. You pour everything in one bowl, and then you stir it and let it sit for two days. And maybe give it a whiz with the hand blender, to your preferred consistency. Done.

mustard

Here’s one of the three recipes, the brainchild of Good Food Matters, slightly altered and then doubled because we love our mustard so. Definitely visit her site to check out recipes for the other two.

COARSE GRAIN DIJON MUSTARD
1 cup white wine
6 tablespoons vinegar (I used a mix of white wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar)
6 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
6 tablespoons brown mustard seeds
8 tablespoons powdered mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Stir all ingredients together in a glass or ceramic bowl until thoroughly combined, then cover with plastic wrap. Keep at room temperature (aka unrefrigerated), and allow the liquid to soften the mustard seeds for 48 hours. Uncover and blitz with an immersion blender until it reaches your desired consistency.  Place in a clean jar and refrigerate, then slather on just about anything.

 

 

**When the Williams Sonoma outlet had bottles of it on clearance, for some bizarre reason I attribute only to the facts that people like their Kikkoman’s and why shop around for soy sauce, I made my nice mother load up on so much that she nearly herniated another disc. And that’s with me carrying two thirds of it to the car.

An Alternative to “Southie Rules”

Ford

I get it. Long day at work, or studying, or taking care of itty bitty babes. Traffic was bad, the lingering cough is getting worse, dinner was something scraped together from the cabinets and (gah!) the freezer is devoid of treats. The couch is calling, and nothing sounds better than tuning in and quieting down your headspace.

So tune in! But maybe just for tonight, if it’s your usual habit, exchange the reality cotton-candy fluff for something a little more substantial, a little more thought-provoking. Trade the manufactured drama that has all the fizz and excitement of a half-liter of flat soda for the real, historically documented stuff that molded and shaped eras and people.

I’ve got to confess an ulterior motive – the documentary I’m pushing tonight is one that took up the better part of a year of my working life. A stellar team created it – director, writer, editor, producers and assistants of all levels. I think the music and sound design are great. The old film footage and photographs are unreal. And the parts of the story about the life of one of the most familiar names in American industrial and automotive history might surprise you. So instead of giving your hard-earned free evening time over to “Southie Rules” or a re-run of “Real Housewives,” please tune in to “Henry Ford” on PBS tonight, 9-11 p.m. EST. You can always DVR the fluff!

P.S. If you watch and have feedback, I’d love to hear it. Friendly critiques make all of us better.