Saturday, August 28, 2010

Disaster Crepes...

The problem with having a run of good fortune in the kitchen is that the longer you go without completely and utterly screwing up a meal the more disappointed your food critic spouse is when it all goes ass-end up.

I was still riding high on the risotto I'd whipped up out of random things found in my kitchen (a favorite risotto recipe of mine, by the way) and then managed to pull off a great stew of cheap ingredients and a liberal application of Tabasco sauce.  Who's the kitchen goddess?  Oh, I do believe I am the kitchen goddess!

But pride cometh before the fall...

Which is a stupid saying.  Who the hell has pride after they fall?  I mean, generally speaking, falling on my face does not instill me with a sense of pride.  Way to point out the obvious, you stupid idiom!  It's like "it's always in the last place you look."  Of course it's in the last place you look!  When you find it, you stop bloody looking, don't you?  Even if you found whatever you were looking for in the first place you looked, it would still be the last place you looked, now wouldn't it?

I can see you are highly elucidated by my ingenious logic.

Although I am not sure if a person can be elucidated.

Anyway.

Since there was left-over stew I was thinking, "Ah ha!  I can make this meal go even further by having dumplings on less stew, thus stretching the stew for two extra nights instead of just one!"

Small problem.  Stew is magic.  No matter how much liquid you think you have when you put the stew into a tupperware container, there is less when you reheat it.  Secondly, dumplings act like a lid on reheating stew, making the stew hotter under the dumplings than you may realize.  Thirdly, once you start cooking your dumplings in your stew, you can't stir your stew.

You see where this is leading.  I burned the reheated stew.  And it turns out that my husband is less than impressed with dumplings.  Biscuits, yes, he digs biscuits.  But his dismay was apparent as he pushed the dumpling around his bowl with his spoon, tapping it from time to time as if wishing it to magically become a potato, the majority of which were now cemented to the bottom of the pot by a mortar of burnt beans and dissolved carrot.  Next time, he asked, could we just have the stew as it is?  It was just fine that way, he said.

Two words: Justifiable Homicide.

I really could have used the moral support of my beloved here.  Not the cranky person who sat himself down to dinner after standing in the dinning room doorway for several seconds loudly sniffing the air.  Yes, Dear, I Burned Dinner.  Don't Make Me Get Your Slippers And Shove Them Up Your Butt.  How About THANK YOU OH MY DARLING GODDESS FOR PREPARING THIS MEAL FOR ME ON LESS THAN 5 DKK THUS LETTING ME BUY MORE RUGBRØD FOR MY LUNCH TOMORROW?!  If You Don't Appreciate Dinner, There Is Always Toast.

This morning, keen to provide a fine repast, I decided to make crepes.  I've had success with crepes in the past here. But in that post I did mention my problem with the melted butter.  I *know* I had a problem with the melted butter.  It clumps when you pour it into cold milk.  I tried mixing the batter in a different order today and it was even less successful than all of my previous attempts.  And when you use your last two eggs to make the batter, do-overs are NOT an option.  WHY DID I NOT LISTEN TO MYSELF?  "Next time I think I'll use oil" I wrote on my blog.  "USE OIL" I had scrawled in large letters across the recipe.  But I haven't tested the batter with oil.  What if it tasted weird?  Oh, it wasn't that difficult to make with melted butter, was it?  Of course not!  So I have to spend a few more minutes mixing it...  FU, AG.  FU.

On the plus side, they were edible.  None fell on the floor.  But worth the tears, the anguish, and the sore arms from beating clumpy batter?  Worth the burnt fingers as I tried to flatten out the folded and bunched up crepe piled in a small discarded heap in the pan?  Worth my husband coming in and saying, maybe he should make some toast?  No.  Nothing is worth that.  Nor was the 7-10 I would get if I beaned my boy on the head with the skillet.  Or so I kept repeating as I flipped another lumpy crepe.

"Did you make Dessert Crepes or Dinner Crepes?" people always ask.  As if the sudden realization that I made the wrong recipe at the wrong time of day would somehow explain why hot melted butter would congeal into small cold butter lumps when poured from a hot pan into a cold batter as chemistry would dictate, rather than seamlessly blending into the mix.

I made neither this morning.  I made Disaster Crepes.  And as a service to mankind I will refrain from passing on the recipe until I finally make a successful Damn Crepe.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I know I haven't been writing very often...

But Danish really rots the brain.

That and I'm expending considerable amounts of rant time on the Coat Factory Cultural Center with Associated Prayer Space.  Yeah, it's not as catchy as "Ground Zero Mosque" but has the bonus of being ACCURATE!

But I do have to mention one of my dear Danish classmates.  She's a sweet and loving person who is probably the least educated individual I've ever met.  She's really open to learning new things, but sometimes the mind is just baffled by what she doesn't know.

Things like: there are more than 40 spoken languages in the world.  Or that Chicago is in the US, but Canada is another whole country north of the US.  See Canada, no one believes you are another country.  Just give in and become our 51st state, okay?

She discovered Google Translate the other day and was so excited.  She just had to tell us all about it.  I was bemused.  But then one of my other classmates had also never heard of it before, so it was a good thing that I know how to use the Google and I could get the address for them.  And thus I learned several things that day in Danish class, like "the internet is not nearly universal as we'd like to think" and "Google has got to step up it's advertising."

She's also a big fan of the US.  Some of her family lives in Florida and some in Illinois.  Today she proudly told me that all Latinos love America.  My Danish teacher asked if this included Cuba and Venezuela.  Okay, okay, she says, but other than Cuba and Venezuela, everyone else loves America.  She has the most adorable innocent view of my homeland.  A very "An American Tail" kind of view.  Any second during class I half expect her to launch into "there are no cats in America and the streets are paved with cheese!"  What, does no one else remember that movie??  Sigh.  Y'all missin' out, y'hear.

Anyway, I hate to burst her bubble, because it's just nice to meet someone who actually likes my country and how, exactly, am I supposed to explain that we're a country of assholes and dicks?  It would be like kicking a puppy!

She really makes Danish class worth going to.  You never know what she's learned or what she wants to know about or what pronouncement she has regarding something she's been thinking about (like the "everyone loves the US").  Today's question - if you are a lawyer in the US, can you practice law in DK? She was very surprised to hear the answer is no.

Alas, she's about to stop Danish class.  She's 8 1/2 months pregnant.  Yeah, girlfriend is about to pop, she's HUGE!  I'm not sure when she'll be back and I will certainly miss her antics.  My husband wonders what I'll have to talk about now at dinner.  The other students in class are certainly going to have to step it up a bit.  Although today I did learn a bit about the international opium trade.  This will have to be investigated further.

On a completely unrelated note, I'll end with a funny.


Look at your man

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The horror, the horror...

I hate spiders.

I really really hate spiders.

I hate them because they scare the heebee-geebees out of me and I don't like to be scared.  

I hate their little beady eyes and their fangs and their eight legs all moving independently of each other.  I hate the way that they shoot sticky web out of their butts.  I hate how they scuttle - zip, pause, zip, pause.  I hate how they weave their webs with their back legs while they clean their mandibles with their front legs.  All while watching you.  I hate their multi-jointed legs with too many knees and their bloated abdomens and their little horrible heads.

I hate spiders.

I suffered some spiders in my home for the last few weeks because I wanted something to take care of the mosquito problem and the gnat pestilence that followed.  Despite there being a huge number of bugs in the house, all of the spiders seem to be dying of starvation while the bugs died of old age.  I have never seen such a useless branch of evolution in all my life.

And then, last week, the most horrible species of spider began showing up in the house.

Okay, no, they aren't venomous (nothing in Denmark is venomous other than the Danish People's Party) and I've been told the whole "it's more scared of you than you are of it."  But their brains are the size of of a 12 point Times New Roman period!  That's not the brain of something that fears or gets angry.  They are going to bite everything because anything could be a threat or possibly lunch!  Why ponder the existential difference between a mortal threat and the large warm bodied thing that bumped your web?  I doubt they refer to wikipedia to decide if what they see before their tiny eyes is edible or dangerous.

Get it, there is no fear or aggression in a spider, just biting!!

So when this very large, very active species of spider began invading my home every evening, I got rather upset about it.  They are about the size of a Snapple lid or a round Danish plug (that's including the leg span).  They have orange knees.  They have two huge black fangs.  And they love to bungee jump from the ceiling on silken thread, legs extended, probably shouting "weeeeeeee!"  We had five of them in the bathroom one night, swinging from the light fixtures and the air vent.

If they stay still I try to wait until my husband wanders by and I can borrow his spider wrangling skills to de-arachnid whatever room I wish to be in, but over the last week he's been very busy wrangling a larger pest: possible tenants for a room in our apartment in Århus.  Over 200 phone calls, text messages, and emails.  Calls coming in before 8 am until after 10 pm.  Ugh.

But the spiders....

So I can't always wait for him to finish sending an email downstairs.  Especially if I need to pee and there is a bouncing spider in my way.  This has resulted in an increasingly frustrated husband who wanted to know why I didn't just come back downstairs and use the spider-free toilet.  Because, I patiently told him, I had to keep an eye on the spider until he got rid of it.  WHAT IF IT HID WHILE I WAS AWAY??  It could TOTALLY come back and get me in the middle of the night!

Every night for a week I had a grumpier and grumpier man trudging upstairs to answer my calls for assistance.  He wanted to know why I couldn't just wait for him to be done with his stuff downstairs and I wanted to know why he couldn't just come upstairs with me, remove the spiders, and then go back to do whatever it was that he wanted to do.  I like to read in bed for a bit before turning off the light and this is the only way to not inconvenience him when he'd like to go to sleep.  His sighs of frustrations and annoyance could be heard every night as he trudged up stairs to yet again remove more spiders from the bathroom.

It may have gone on like this for quite a while, but then, just a few nights ago, as we were washing dishes, a spider bungeed down from the cupboard just inches from my face.

Do you know what happens when the Archaeogoddess is startled?  I scream and jump.

Do you know what happens when the Archaeogoddess is startled by a large nasty spider inches from her face?  There was a piercing shriek from the depths of my soul.  I think they heard me in Berlin.  I shot straight up in the air and then levitated backwards about three feet before landing with a resounding thump.

My husband was standing next to me at the time.  He was, shall we say, startled by my reaction.

DB: OHMYGOD!!  What the hell?!

AG: *bursts into hysterical tears and point at the spider*

And after that, not another frustrated sigh was heard from his lips.  He goes upstairs every night before I do to check for spiders in the bathroom and the bedroom.  He hurries to my aid if I holler "honey, there's a spider in here" and he has a special spider-catching-cup and lid both upstairs and downstairs, to quickly and safely capture and remove the spider from my presence.

Apparently, 7 years of me telling him that I'm scared of spiders did not really sink in until I had a proper hysterical breakdown.  I guess he finally realized that if his wife, who can calmly bandage wounds on herself and others, give injections, remove dead rats from traps, move to a country where she couldn't understand a single word, who in many other ways is very very brave, is THAT scared of spiders, then she is REALLY FREAKIN' SCARED OF SPIDERS!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Finally, the kitchen is again mine!

No matter how great a relationship you may have with your mother-in-law, admit it, you breathe a deep sigh of relief when she goes home.  Especially if she's been visiting for a week.

Now don't get me wrong, my mother-in-law is a lovely woman with a big heart.  She'd never knowingly cause grief or harm.  She's the kind of woman that would give you the shirt off her back if you are hungry, is always there with a shoulder to cry on when you are cold, and will throw open the curtains for you when you have a migraine.  And sometimes if you just have to go into another room and count to ten your blessings, well, I guess you just have to remember that she means well.  She really really means well.

This past week was not without it's amusements.

For instance, she arrived with a cooler FULL of fish.  Four different types of fish.  In large frozen blocks.

There were just two small, itsy, miniscule little problems with this.

1) My MIL forgets that I am not a big fan of fish.  We do this every time we meet.  The only thing I think we talk about is my so-called picky food habits. It's an unfortunate coincidence that I am not a fan of all of her favorite foods.  Alas, her favorite foods are bony fish, pickles, and cheese that smells of old socks.  Mine are cheese enchiladas, beef tacos, salsa and guacamole.  She likes red beets and oranges and I like broccoli and apples.  Anyway, I do eat some fish.  I'll eat pickled herring, salmon, tuna, sushi, anything deep fried (I do love me some fish and chips); generally anything that is bone free and marinated in something.  I, frankly think this is quite a lot of fish.  But seeing as how my MIL keep serving smoked mackerel and some flat bumpy bottom feeding fish (twenty minutes of de-skinning, de-boning, de-oh-my-god-the-bumps-are-also-bone, for three bites of the blandest white fish I've ever had to mush in my mouth), I can see why she thinks I'm picky as I turn down the opportunity for seconds and have more boiled potatoes.

By the way, I am TOTALLY potatoed out.

2) We have no freezer.  My MIL helped my husband move in and was aware of this, but seemingly forgot when faced with the multitude of fish available for purchase.

So suddenly we had gobs of fish that had to be eaten as soon as possible.

Oh, and a clogged drain.

Have I mentioned the clogged drain?

Yeah, so we discovered we had a partially clogged drain the evening she arrived with her mother (who I think really wins the award for picky-eater of the year).  We also discovered the sink leaks when it gets filled up with water.  Warnings were passed around.

The next day... well, alas, I cannot abide the smell of defrosting fish (I was effectively banned from my own kitchen by my gag reflex for a week, not to mention by a MIL who was insisting that she wanted to be helpful and would do all the cooking - which, while I don't want to sound ungrateful, is never happening again, I cannot survive for a week on new potatoes and butter) and so when my husband arrived home from work, he found his mother in the kitchen with a sink completely full of fish bits, potato skins, and water, which was leaking all over the floor.  She continued to bustle about cooking while my husband frantically cleaned up and I shouted helpful encouragement from two rooms away.

Thankfully, the landlord, who was around that week fixing the deck, stopped by to say hello and promised to send us a plumber the next day.  That plumber was right on time and had the right tools in hand.  I have never been so happy to see a fat Danish man in overalls in my life.  He was a vision of beauty!

The rest of the week passed as one might expect: misunderstandings, more fish, cleaning up the kitchen after my MIL, an increasingly frustrated husband (he has a hard time with people that won't realize that Americans have a whole separate culture that is very different from Danish culture), more fish, a discussion of why I put blue cheese in my salad (I wonder what would have happened if I'd gone the whole nine yards and put dried cranberries, walnuts, sliced apples and portobello mushrooms in as well), more fish, an exhausted husband (who couldn't sleep as he tried to figure out why his mother would try to convince me that taking a walk outside would improve my hay-fever [in full swing during harvest season] when she's supposed to be a certified nurse), and finally more discussions about Things That I Just Do Differently.

Things That I Just Do Differently
- eat avocados with olive oil, salt and pepper rather than with shrimp and lemon
- drink water with a slice of lemon (well, couldn't let the lemon that came with my avocado go to waste)
- drink coffee with milk and sugar instead of black
- I don't bike, I walk to get places or I drive BUT I DO KNOW HOW TO RIDE A BIKE, I'm just not a New York City messenger boy (ie how Danes ride bikes)
- I rinse my dishes before washing them in soapy water
- I do NOT put sugar in my garlic-herb vinaigrette dressing, I never have, I never will, and telling me that it makes it less sour is EXACTLY WHY I don't do it, but I accept that your palette is different from mine and I urge you to make your own dressing if you think it may be a little too strong
- I eat breakfast differently (and this was without her catching me making crepes, French toast, or a full English breakfast)
- I eat lunch differently (I rarely do a Danish lunch, I make sandwiches and eat apple slices with cheddar cheese)
- I don't drink coffee after noon
- there are only a few things on this planet I will not eat for politeness-sake, one of these is pickles (projectile vomit occurs within 30 minutes of ingestion) and the other is shrimp - I can eat around shrimp, but I can't eat around pickles
- when I'm having a bad allergy day, I take myself as far as I can from any source of allergen, lay down, stuff tissue up my nose and wait for the medication to kick in rather than go for a walk through the clouds of pollen

But it's all over now.  I have my kitchen back.  I can make Asian, Indian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern food.  I can make cake and cookies and hot chocolate.  Only first I have to be creative with pounds of boiled new potatoes...

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

How to get hate mail without really trying...

Your humorous Archaeogoddess will be back soon.  Until then I give you my thoughts about a recent article in USA Today - NYC panel clears way for mosque near Ground Zero.

There was some discussion on the interwebs about whether or not this was a good thing or a bad thing.   I seem to be once again in the minority, but what else is new?  Sure you can send me angry emails or leave argumentative comments, but as William McAdoo said (awesome name, by the way) "It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in an argument."  If you think I'm ignorant, then there's no point in arguing with me and since I'm bound to think that you are ignorant if you tell me I'm an idiot, then I'm not going to be drawn into an argument with you.

Here's my two cents:

I have absolutely no problem with this center being built.  It's two blocks away - in NYC, that's practically on the other side of the island.  According to the article, it's the city officials that are saying the decision was based on freedom of religion and property laws, the organization that is responsible says it's a space for moderate muslim voices.  It's already a prayer space and will include a memorial to those who died on 9/11 - who were of many nationalities and many religions.

People are forgetting that it wasn't Muslims or Islam that attacked the city that day, but a group of men with hate in their hearts.  Do we ban churches from being built near abortion clinics that were bombed or in downtown Oklahoma City?  No, because the so-called Christians who carried out those attacks of terror are not seen as representative of their religion, but rather for what they are - fanatics, lunatics, and evil people perverting a message of peace into one of war against other human beings.   We don't ban Germans from the US because of Hitler and the Nazis, we recognized that sharing a nationality or religion with an evil person does not make everyone of that nationality or religion bad.  I exhort you to remember with regret how we interned the Japanese-Americans in WWII (a national shame that should never be forgotten and never again repeated), and yet we seem to be once again prepared to trample over the rights of American citizens because of a lunatic living in a cave ranting to the world by cassette tape!

Let us take a moment to remember what really happened on 9/11 - 19 men, following the rambling speeches of a sociopath, murdered 2,976 people from over 70 (some say over 90) nations, most of them civilians.  They claimed we brought this upon ourselves because we have a base in Saudi Arabia, support Israel, and had sanctions against Iraq.  The casualties from the other countries apparently brought it on themselves by working to provide for their families.

They may have hoped to provoke a world wide Islamic uprising, but instead the attacks received condemnation by the vast majority of the planet, despite the videos of some idiots celebrating.  Even though these evil, mad men have issued fatwa after fatwa, saying it is the duty of every Muslim to kill Americans, outside of the theater of war, how many Americans are targeted and killed by Muslims?  Very very few.  This is not a war between the US and Islam.  Being a muslim does not make you an enemy or even a fundamentalist sympathizer.  Muslims in America have born a multitude of hate crimes and 10 years of discrimination based on their religion.  People of Middle Eastern decent have also suffered for the color of their skin, no matter what religion they practice.  Building a community center to serve the needs of the American citizens who are Muslim in no way should be seen as a validation of the fanatics who erroneously claim to be true believers.  Instead it shows that the US is committed to maintaining its values and the rights of its citizens despite the perversions of a few.