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December 10, 2000
a year ago
two years ago

Quiet Day At Home

A very quiet day at home today. Didn't go out, didn't do all that much. We're both recovering still from our colds, I think. John still sounds awful but he says he feels better. I slept in pretty late. I think I was snoring again after the heaters had gone on. John had noted that one morning this past week, that I only start snoring after the heaters go on in the morning. Maybe it's the dryness. But it was very nice to just sleep in.

Breakfast was bagels and the last of the smoked salmon and some cream cheese. I also had a scone and decaf coffee and the usual half a grapefruit.

I then baked a chocolate torte from Cocolat, so that I could do their really cool cake with almond paste and jam and a bittersweet glaze later today. John was really neat and brought the home machine downstairs so that I could watch him, listen to the radio and write journal entries for the last few days. We're listening to a lot more NPR, and it was just comforting to listen to Prairie Home Companion and Car Talk.

Keiller was talking about the Minnesota winters and describing the iron grey sky and the bone deep cold. It's really cold today, the cold front from the north has finally come in and while we haven't had the precipitation that they predicted, the world outside is a ghost of itself, everything dusted with the fine powder of a tiny bit of frozen rain and the sky as grey as cold iron. Real winter.

We had lunch around 1. John ate chili and declared his liking for it, which was very good to hear. I had spaghetti and mizithra and browned butter along with a small spinach salad. I then spent some time playing Angband, not a lot, though, as my right hand started declaring it's dislike of it. I then kept writing through most of the afternoon while we watched the Seahawks vrs Broncos game. There had been half a dozen tickets for the game for sale at work on Friday, as the weather there was supposed to start in the 20's and get down to the low teens by the end of the game. The folks on the field sure look cold.

My hands did swell a little bit after a few hours at the keyboard, but soon after I stopped they went back down again. Not too bad. Not the best, but not too bad, either.

About dinner time I finished the chocolate cake by slicing it in half across. It was surprisingly easy after I stuck 6 toothpicks in it at the halfway mark all around, so I could just cut about four inches in all around and then cut the center free. The cake was solid and moist enough that I could just lift the top half off. I had a quarter cup of raspberry and apricot jam, so I did half of the cake with each one. Apricot on one half, raspberry on the other, and then put the top back on, then another layer of apricot on the apricot half and raspberry on the raspberry half on top of the top layer. I took half the roll of marzipan/almond paste and rolled it between two sheets of plastic with a rolling pin and flattened it out to a circle that would cover the top of the cake. Since it was a perfectly smooth surface, I placed it on top, mixed up a bittersweet chocolate glaze and when it was smooth, I just poured it on. It flowed beautifully. I poured it all over the cake, did a little shoveling about and used the knife to touch the liquid that flowed over the sides to completely cover the sides and the glaze really looked smooth and shiny and 'poured on' when I was done. That was very keen.

I let it cool as we figured out dinner.

Not really in the mood for a normal meat and potatoes dinner, so I got some frozen shrimps out, three handfuls of 'em went into a bowl of cold, barely running water and they defrosted while I heated water to make a salt (2 T) and sugar (1T) brine. When the stuff had dissolved, I added ice until the ice stopped melting and then added the shrimp to the brine. Made cocktail sauce in the little food processor by throwing some (3 heaping tablespoons) canned tomatoes, a bit of Heinz chili sauce (1T), and a good teaspoonful of horseradish in and processing it until smooth. When that was done I figured the shrimp were finished brining and I rolled them up in a paper towel to dry them. Turned on the broiler and then added a bit of canola and a sprinkle or three of Old Bay Seasoning to the shrimp, spread them onto a cookie sheet and shoved them under the broiler. When they started to sizzle I timed another minute or so, flipped the shrimp and then did it again until they were sizzling and starting to smell good. Dumped them onto a cold plate, shoved 'em in the freezer for five minutes and they came out crisp, cold and perfect.

It's my rougher version of Alton Brown's perfect shrimp cocktail, i.e. it's what I remembered and what I had. They turned out a little bit salty for my taste, which probably means they were perfect for anyone else. John loved 'em. I'd also found a bag of frozen split pea soup in the freezer downstairs, so that thawed while I was doing the whole shrimp thing. I put it in a pot and added enough water for me to like the consistency of it all and we had split pea soup and toasted bread. John loved the low-salt version of my split pea soup and he added tobasco and pepper to it to kick it up a little. I think the best thing about eating at home is just having complete control over what goes into the food.

The baby really liked the meal. He was just swimming around happily inside after that. No sudden kicks or really abrupt motions, just lots of squirming around happily.

We watched Sunday night football until we were pretty sure it was a blowout. Then I swapped to the food channel and other things to just not be bored anymore as John was working, first on getting the last of our pipes insulated with the weather coming up and then with his Dad on getting a connection through to share video and conferencing and stuff. I did call my parents somewhere before they got to the telephone hookup part, and thanked them a lot for the card yesterday as well as to discuss visiting scheduling right after the baby got here. We'll likely have a week to ourselves, which I'll like and then they'll come and stay for up to two weeks. I figure my nesting instincts will go into stocking the freezer and refrigerator with quick, good meals and they'll run out after a full week of doing nothing but feeding the baby.

John, in the meantime, came running through in nothing but his bathrobe, as he'd showered right after putting the insulation in. He opened the door to the outside and stood staring at four inches of powder snow. Oops. He wanted the celphone, and then happily realized that it was actually in the Passat, which was in the garage. So he trundled in that direction trailing snow...

That make me giggle for a very long time.

Eventually he finished and we got to sit down and try the cake out. It turned out really, really well. Moist from the jams and the solid chocolate covering. It was very rich, very tasty and the marzipan top really was nice in contrast to the chocolate and fruit. I could probably have done the glazing a little more evenly, but while it might not be perfectly beautiful it was very tasty. Probably should distribute pieces to other people after we have another dessert off it, as it really is very rich. Mei would probably love it.

With the temperatures outside so cold, John said it'd be fine to leave the area heater in our bathroom on, he thought it wouldn't go off if I set it to 55 as he didn't believe it got that cold in there when the thermostat for the house was set for 60. But it was very definitely on when I got up and I was very glad of it for my night time visits. So it really does get to be less than 55 in the bathroom at night.

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