Nov. 28th, 2013 10:28 pm
adrian_turtle: (Default)
I don't usually make pie. I make apple crisp instead, or perhaps cookies. Pie crust doesn't seem worth the trouble, especially for a fruit pie. When I used to eat pie somebody else baked, I would often just eat the filling. (ETA: Except Fairion's pies. It turns out she bakes with coconut oil.)

Then I found a recipe for a pecan pie that tempted me. Next time I say the New York Times has become entirely worthless, feel free to remind me they published this excellent recipe. Lucky for us, my housemate occasionally brings home a paper newspaper, and he happened to bring home a NYT full of Thanksgiving recipes (even though neither of us would be home for Thanksgiving.) The pecan pie was tempting enough that I wanted to try taking out the dairy and the alcohol.

Redbird, Cattitude, and I set out to experiment, despite the fact that none of us have much experience making piecrust. We had difficulty with the oil being like melted butter at room temperature, and freezing very inconveniently solid in the refrigerator. (Admittedly, the room was unusually warm and the refrigerator unusually cold.) Still, very awkward to chill the ball of dough, take it out of the refrigerator and have to warm it up before being able to make a dent in it. We eventually pressed it into the pan like a tart crust, getting very irregular coverage. Advice would be very welcome indeed.

I want to make this pie again, because the filling was amazing. Usually, pecan pie is too sweet and not complicated enough, but this wasn't.
6 tablespoons coconut oil
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
4 eggs
0.75 cup dark corn syrup
0.5 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
large pinch salt
1.5 cups pecan halves (toasted, not salted)

Melt chocolate chips together with oil. Cool, then add to beaten eggs with corn syrup. Everything except the nuts goes into the pre-baked crust, then put the nuts on top of the liquid custard and bake 40 minutes at 350F.

Cattitude wants to put the filling in some other vegan piecrust, which would be a reasonable option. But I would like to make an actual coconut-oil piecrust, if it's possible to make one with sufficient integrity...it was rich and flaky and it tasted better than I expect piecrust to taste.
adrian_turtle: (Default)
The word "opiate" does not mean "something that makes a person behave badly." It does not even mean "something that makes a person behave badly, and is also hard to stop using." Most especially, it does not mean, "something that makes a person agitated and short-tempered, and is hard to avoid because it's so pervasive."

I wish there was not so much stigma around the medicine that lets me be as functional as I am.
adrian_turtle: (Default)
Strobes don't bite most people, so he can get away with that. Usually. Last weekend, it went bad.

I was uncertain about going to Chicago for my cousin's bar mitzvah. I thought it would be worth the strain of air travel to see that set of relatives* and maintain my connection with the family. What really worried me was the possibility of strobe lights at the party after the service. Strobes are the worst triggers for my seizures, and pretty bad migraine triggers as well.

I dithered for WEEKS. It would be an evening party, which made strobes more likely. Yet it was a party in the synagogue social hall, which might make it quieter and less likely to have strobes than a party in a more party-specific space. Last time I saw the bar-mitzvah boy, he had been a very young 12 year old...would that make him less likely to be interested in the kind of dance party that relied on strobes? The next older cousin (who'd had strobes at her bat mitzvah party, that kept me hiding in the lobby most of the afternoon, and still needing a week of recovery time afterward) seemed a lot more sophisticated.

I finally phoned my cousin** and asked him if there would be strobes or flashing lights at the party. I grew up with the idea that it's an outrageous imposition for me to ask somebody to turn off a flickering light, or not to wear perfume. Now, mostly, I can recognize that people outside my family are ok with such requests (and if they aren't, I can walk away.) But when dealing with relatives, I can't bring myself to ask them to change what they're doing for my comfort. It feels daring and rude just to ask for information, so I can be be elsewhere if I think it's going to be too uncomfortable.***

In this case, my cousin was very gracious about it. He said they'd hired a DJ, and didn't know if he would have strobes. He's be happy to ask the DJ not to use any strobes, if they were a problem for me. I made travel plans thinking that maybe it was no longer appropriate for me to go on defining that side of my family based on my mother, my aunts and uncles, and my grandparents (of blessed memory.) The kids' table takes over gradually, and I didn't notice a lot of it, because it happened between my aunt and my cousins.

I shouldn't be surprised my cousin was so gracious about this issue. We haven't spoken much in the last few decades, and weren't particularly close as children, but I have no reason to think he's a mean guy. And I wasn't thinking about it when I made the call, but he has some reason to be sensitive about this sort of thing. The bar mitzvah boy also has absence seizures, and his parents have spent the last ten years trying hard to protect him from possible triggers. His seizures are very infrequent, and he's not photosensitive, and of course parents are more protective of children than adults are protective of themselves. Even so...when they're trying hard to make sure the kid doesn't have a seizure the week before he has to do something important, I wonder if my attempts to insist "I'm fine, it's nothing," for only one seizure in an evening might be inappropriate.

So. There I was, after the service, in the lobby of an enormous Chicago synagogue. The doors to the dining room were open, and the music was starting up, and I could tell there were strobe lights. Not a single device like a photographer's strobe, or even a disco ball, that I could point to and say "please turn that off." It was a whole dramatic light show, with flickering screens in several colors. I decided to stay in the lobby, eat the appetizers being carried around on trays, and play with my little nephews and their toy trains. (They didn't like the light show, either. Or possibly the music or the crowd.) It was unfortunate to miss the party after coming all that way, but the appetizers were yummy and there were lots of them, all pareve. And my nephews and I were enjoying one another's company. And maybe I could chat with various other relatives in passing. Everybody went in to dinner, and I settled down in the lobby.

Then my sister-in-law came for the boys. They had to go in and eat dinner. "Oh, you can't stay out here and miss the the whole party!" I tried to explain. A cousin came out to chat, and to invite me in. "But they turned off the strobes! You have to come in for this part!" I explained I preferred to stay in the lobby. Eventually, I was convinced to go into the party space--just for a little while, you'll see how safe it is now, it won't bother you, you really can't miss this. It was my own bad judgment that made me go into the room. But I stayed in the room for 2 hours because my judgment was so badly impaired by frequent seizures.

I made it home with great difficulty. I've felt purely awful all week. I am recovering, albeit slowly; I couldn't have written this on Wednesday.

*I would be seeing my brother and his wife and children, all my cousins and aunts and uncles on that side of the family, but not my mother.

**the one whose bar mitzvah was in 1980, not last week. Now that I think of it, that one also had strobes that made me uncomfortable, though it wasn't nearly so bad.

***as the bar mitzvah last week was Saturday evening, the young man was talking about Lech Lecha. He spoke of how admirable it is to just *go* when told, rather than trying to negotiate. (You want me to go WHERE? What's so great about this land that you will show me?) It echoed through what little thinking I was doing, later in the evening.


Jan. 19th, 2011 10:58 am
adrian_turtle: (Default)
When my brother was 3, and I was 5, we were at a big family gathering where we overheard our great-aunts talking about his long dark eyelashes.
"Gorgeous lashes like that are wasted on a boy!"
"His sister's eyes are almost the same color; it's too bad they don't look like anything special without the long eyelashes."
"He's so adorable, with those dark lashes practically brushing the pages! Too bad he's not the girl."

I don't know if we were intended to hear. We were such little kids that I suspect they weren't quite thinking of us as human beings.

A few days after that party, my brother cut off his eyelashes. This was also considered adorable, because he used rounded safety scissors. (He knew he wasn't allowed to touch pointy scissors.) He doesn't remember doing it, much less WHY he did it. Any speculation about his reasoning has to be from the outside...I'm just glad he didn't hear them saying anything similar about the color of his eyes.

This past weekend, we were at another big family gathering. I haven't seen my nephews in more than a year, so I couldn't tell if the 4 year old is intrinsically shy, or if he was just overwhelmed by the loud music and crowd of strangers. It was immediately obvious (and not really surprising) that he is a beautiful child, with unusually long dark eyelashes. My aunt, who is his great-aunt, commented to me about his appearance:
"Look at those great eyelashes! Why did they have to be wasted on a boy?"

I couldn't tell if the little boy across the big table had heard her, or if he could hear me. My brother was only partway around the table, but the music was so loud he might not be able to hear us either. The only person I could be sure of answering was my aunt:
"They're not wasted at all. He's a beautiful little boy! And he'll probably grow into a very handsome man, just like his daddy did."

My aunt made a dismissive gesture. "Well, maybe. But nobody notices men's eyelashes. They're really important for women."

Yes. My pretty little nephew is growing up with a fair amount of privilege. I couldn't tell if my aunt was trying to talk about that privilege, or if she was just resentful. (And I was mostly interested in protecting the kid. And I had a migraine.) So I just sort of laughed and said, "You might not pay any attention to men's eyelashes, but they do contribute to the overall dreamboat effect." She kind of rolled her eyes at me, but didn't argue.

Then I suggested the little boy might follow in the footsteps of the cousin whose bat mitzvah we were celebrating. By all reports, the girl is kind and talented, as well as beautiful (I did not mention her eyelashes. Perhaps her mother will let her wear mascara soon, if the detail troubles her). Her friends seemed more impressed with her kindness and talents than her beauty, but that doesn't mean her beauty is wasted.
adrian_turtle: (Dracomir)
and move like lightning. I zoomed down to NYC Friday morning, to go to Redbird's family seder Friday afternoon. (It is their family custom that "the first night of Passover" lasts until the second night begins, allowing a 24 hour interval in which to schedule each seder. As one of the aunts lives in a distant suburb and does not drive at night, the family seders are early by the clock and late by the calender, relative to other NY seders. But they're a lot of fun.) As I discovered at last year's seder, I really like Vicki's aunts. And her quiet uncle. And her loud cousin. I met more cousins this year, and liked them, too.

I wasn't surprised that Redbird's family welcomed me. Let all who are hungry come and eat, and all that. Beyond that, they love Redbird and know I'm important to her (even though they might not be entirely clear on the details.) They are sufficiently kind and welcoming as to welcome her loud cousin's implausible partner, a man so rude and obnoxious as to make Vicki and I wonder why she puts up with him. But I was surprised that her family was impressed with my singing. I used to be enthusiastic about singing, and think of my voice as sort of medium-good, but not anything special. But in the mid-1990s, I gradually came to realize that my singing was not nearly as good as I thought, and social groups where people sang were welcoming me despite my voice. (And my ear is good enough that I'm very aware that voice is not nearly as good now as it was in the mid-1990s.) So it feels oddly pleasant to have a welcoming group become even more welcoming when they hear me sing.

After a pleasant day with [livejournal.com profile] redbird, [livejournal.com profile] cattitude, [livejournal.com profile] alanro visiting from afar, and [livejournal.com profile] roadnotes, whom we visited from anear, I zoomed home this morning. My clever plan was to arrive in Boston at 3:30, at my apartment at 4:30, and head out to do census work at 5 (after putting some electricity into my phone and some warmer clothes on me.) I finished one assignment before leaving, and my boss was going to "send a new one to your handheld computer on Saturday, so you can start it when you get back" (ie, without bothering him on Easter Sunday.) Knowing only that the assigned area would be in Arlington, it seemed reasonable that I could get there without driving in half an hour and work a couple of hours before dark. Hah. That presumes a functional handheld computer. I fussed with the stupid thing until 5, then called the help desk. At 5:45, I was able to discover that my boss had not sent a new assignment. Not that I would want to ask him for it now,* as it would be awfully close to sunset by the time I could get out there. The job involves vast quantities of walking around, climbing stairs, and being polite to strangers. I'm good at all that. It's still turning out to be a tremendous physical strain for my hands and arms to cope with the little computer (which I resent more than its inherent flaws may deserve.) I resent my body for not being capable of the long intervals of work that fit conveniently in my schedule. So of course I resent anything that interferes with working in the moderately short intervals that seem like a reasonable compromise between spending all my time on travel and wearing myself out with pain.

*ETA: I started this post at 4:47, as the timestamp indicates, planning to just write about travel and the seder. But "now" refers to when I finished writing it, after 6.


Dec. 31st, 2006 01:40 pm
adrian_turtle: (Default)
I had been expecting a nephew in about a month. (My expectation is as nothing, when compared to my sister-in-law's, or even my mother's.) Now it looks like my incipient nephew is working on becoming the last baby born in 2006, or perhaps the first baby born in 2007. I've been talking people down from the family worry-fest. The baby has to come out because his mother's blood pressure is too high, so everyone is fretting like mad in an attempt to share the high blood pressure...not that it helps any.

When I was little, I knew people who made a point of not celebrating the January 1 New Year. They said it was a Christian holiday, Saint Sylvester's Day, the feast of the circumcision. Jan 1 seems to have been so thoroughly secularized in the last 30 years or so that nobody even thinks about it as a religious thing anymore.

If a baby boy is born prematurely, does that generally mean they delay the bris? By how much? There's a strange gap in my knowledge, as the kids I love are all girls, so far.


adrian_turtle: (Default)

March 2016



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