...gonna kick the darkness 'till it bleeds daylight... musings of a hungarian in texas

©2003 by Annamaria Kovacs. All contents of this blog are the property of the author. Use with written permission only.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

And now for something completely different...

Happy Birthday, The Husband!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Watching Rita...

Quick update and explanation: I had another business trip this week, to Houston of all places. Got back Wednesday evening, just in time, traffic already started to get heavy, albeit nothing of the Thursday sort. I got there Monday evening and the emergency updates were in full swing already on local channels and websites.
The company I work for has a rather large office in North Houston by Greenspoint, and on Wednesday the phones were continuously ringing as the customers wanted updates and assurances that their stuff will get wherever they want to send it...they had to be content with the ''Ma'am, I can tell you that we will work Thursday and Friday and then tonight the weather might change and we have to tie down everything and leave town, so all I can tell you is what we know at the moment, and that we have contingency plans..." answer.
Then we packed up two offices (one of the managers I worked with there and her assistant's) and moved their files and fragile items to the middle of the floor, to their file room, before I headed to the airport, well ahead of time: I worked like a mad dog all morning so I could finish early as I had a sneaking suspicion the situation traffic-wise will spin out of control asdn more accurate weather reports come in, and for a while it really looked like it headed directly to Houston & Galveston.
Impression1: you know it's going to be bad when you are waiting for your flight and through the window you see seagulls flying in straight and sit down on the tarmac.
Impression2: Houston has some really good sushi.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Tempura-Fried Mushroom Thingy

I am putting this up (rather than the thai curry I made Sunday) because when The Husband came home last night after training, and seen these sitting on the counter, this is what happened:

Him: Ooh...Fried thingy goodness! ::pops one into mouth::
Me: Looks good, innit? Fried mushrooms...::proud look::
Him: ::look of ''I've-JUST-SEEN-CHTULHU". Mushroom spat out, and offered to me::
Me: But...I already brushed my teeth... (this was around 2300)
Him: But I cannot put it back...I already chomped down on it...

The Husband is totally convinced that mushrooms are evil and they will take over the world one day... Actually, he just does not like them, and nothing on this earth can make him think otherwise. I know--I tried.

After this lovely insight into out marital life (for which I am sure you are MUCH grateful, dear reader), I give you the Tempura-Fried Mushroom Thingies of DOOM!

You will need:
1 cup flour (all-purpose is fine)
1 cup ice-cold water (ice-cold is very important!)
1 egg, beaten
1 16 oz. box of small white mushrooms, rinsed and patted dry with paper towel
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper.
oil for frying

Assorted lettuce leaves
Tartar sauce (yes, I am from Hungary where we eat the fried mushrooms smothered in this, narsty barbarian invaders that we are)- made out of 2 Tblsp. mayo (REAL mayo, you hear me?) 2 Tblsp. sour cream, 1 tsp. mustard, salt and black pepper to taste.

  • Heat oil in large skillet until bubbly but not smoking.
  • Mix beaten egg and ice cold water in a mixing bowl with spoon. Add flour and mix until smooth. Add spices.
  • Dip mushrooms into batter one by one.
  • Drop mushrooms into hot oil and fry until golden brown. You can fry about 6-7 if small at once.
  • Fish out from oil, place on paper towel to drip.
  • Make tartar sauce.
Place lettuce leaves, torn up, on small plate. Dollops of tartar sauce should follow, then mushrooms, then some more tartar sauce.

It is imperative that you eat this with your fingers, mopping up the sauce with the lettuce and the mushrooms as you go. Need some paper towels handy.

Have fun!


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Change to Blog Settings

Okay folks; I have gotten two comment spams in two days, so I turned on the word verification in my comments. It might create a bit more work if you want to comment, but I simply cannot have spammers take over this section. This just won't do. So please excuse the little bit more upfront work when you comment in order to create a spam-free environment.

Thank you!

Disaster Kit- My Version- In Progress

As I mentioned in the previous post, we begun the process of assembling a Grab-n-Go kit for the house. Given our location (North TX, DFW Metroplex) the reasons for this kit's existence are less natural disasters (short of a freak tornado we are not really getting anything here) and more of either civil unrest, terrorist attack or a major global epidemic (Bird flu anyone? Personally, per our discussion with The Husband, as soon as we hear a smallest indication that this thing hit an airport, we call work, take leave, and head out in the Jeep to the hills. Call me a cry-wolf, but this one scares me.)

Anyhoo, my version as follows here is based on the Red Cross recommendations, and my hazy memories of childhood emergency preparedness classes back in Hungary where we did have atomic fallout shelters in our grade schools in the early 80s complete with radiation showers at the entrance (please don't think I am kidding)...

Stored plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. One gallon of water per person per day is recommended, so for the two of us it would be six gallons. I have two full drinking water bottles now, a gallon each, and I guess I need to start saving some bottles to fill up at the first sign of problem from the tap. Also, fill up the bathtub and all available containers with water as soon as news of any kind of disruption in area start to arrive; can save other lives that way as well. Oh, and extra water for the cats.

At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. I need to go over my pantry, but I think I have most of the following. Let me see:
Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables (Apparently, I need some spam or sardines, and some canned beans, however much The Husband hates them. A trip to the dollar store.
Canned juices
Staples (salt, sugar, pepper, spices, etc.)
High energy foods (have almost a full large bag of rice from the Asian grocery store)
Vitamins (I always have extra)
Food for infants (not yet, probably next year)
Comfort/stress foods (I have these in the form of raisins and baking chocolate)

It is also recommended to rotate water and food out every six months--note on the wall calendar in the office?

First Aid Kit
One for your home and one for each car. (Need one for the cars, the house kit is in the kitchen; plus extra bandages and ointment in both bathrooms. I am a notorious klutz with razors and the cats can nick us sometimes). I also have extra bandages/gauze pads in stock due to The Husband doing martial arts...:-)

(20) adhesive bandages, various sizes.
(1) 5" x 9" sterile dressing.
(1) conforming roller gauze bandage.
(2) triangular bandages.
(2) 3 x 3 sterile gauze pads.
(2) 4 x 4 sterile gauze pads.
(1) roll 3" cohesive bandage.
(2) germicidal hand wipes or waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
(6) antiseptic wipes.
(2) pair large medical grade non-latex gloves.
Adhesive tape, 2" width.
Anti-bacterial ointment.
Cold pack.
Scissors (small, personal).
Rubbing alcohol
Hydrogen peroxyde

I would add all of my essential oils to this, as a lot of them have very string antibacterial and antiviral properties (thyme and clove oil for instance was used as field sterilizers in some battlefields in the first half of the 20th century, and Australian troops carried tea tree oil to dress their wounds in WWII), and a bottle or two jojoba oil as a carrier to dilute (non-perishable).

CPR breathing barrier, such as a face shield. (Well, I don't have this one...Anyone knows where to get this? Give advice to the clueless resident alien, please... In old Europe we just one a hankie.)

Non-Prescription Drugs
Aspirin or nonaspirin pain reliever -Again, plenty of this, both aspirin and non-aspirin version. Actually I have bottles in each car as well.
Anti-diarrhea medication --Gotta get this one.
Antacid (for stomach upset) --Check.
Syrup of Ipecac-Nope; this is advised to induce vomiting--there was something my grandma used instead but for the life of me I cannot remember--anyone has a suggestion?
Laxative -Need to get, literally never had to use before (thankfully!)
Activated charcoal-don't have this, but I would actually add some anti-radiation tablets and water purification tablets to this part of the kit.

Tools and Supplies
Mess kits, or paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils- Check. Still have these from various parties last year.
Battery-operated radio and extra batteries- Check. Actually has two-one is a miniature one with earphones.
Add: need a crank-handle operated rechargeable shortwave radio as well sometime in the future, in case it's more than a few days of emergency.
Flashlight and extra batteries- Check. Although I probably need more batteries
Cash or traveler's checks, change-Got the change, need some emergency cash in a ziplock baggie, stahed away. I do not think travelers checks are a really good option--I mean, if that kind oif infrastructure survives, we will just use The Husband's AMEX Gold... otherwise it''s cash and barter.
Non-electric can opener, utility knife- We are good to go here. I never had an electric can opener in my life--I want to work for that can, darnit!
Fire extinguisher: small canister ABC type --it's in the garage, but probably need to check expiration.
Tent- Got it.
Pliers - Plenty, in kitchen tool drawer (my kit) and in garage (The Husband's). Probably would need to get a day and organize the garage toolkit into once place, it's kind of scattered.
Duct tape- Plenty around; need to find it and soon. It's never there when I need the darned thing...
Compass - This is something I need to get!
Matches in a waterproof container -Why not just waterproof matches? My current ones in the kitchen drawer are not waterproof.
Aluminum foil - In pantry; extra strength.
Plastic storage containers - Plenty. Might need larger sizes.
Signal flare -Need to get.
Paper, pencil - Has plenty, need to put a stack in a kit.
Needles, thread - Again, kitchen drawer. Two kits.
Medicine dropper -Leftover from feeding the cat when ill, kitchen cabinet.
Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water - Gotta ask The Husband, I am not sure we have one.
Whistle- Need one. I did not save my old one from my young pioneer days..it even had some useful Morse code phrases on it...
Plastic sheeting -Need a bunch.
Map of the area- check; has MAPSCO Dallas and USA total map as well.

ADD: Axe- from the living room where they hang as[fully functional] decorations (reproduction of medieval Hungarian axes)
Saw- has a little one, might need a bigger
Rope- ::snaps fingers:: No rope!
Twine- in kitchen drawer
Candles: next to matches in kitchen drawer

Toilet paper, towelettes- check. In garage and guest bathroom. Those moist towelettes are absolutely great when camping...
Soap, liquid detergent - Check. Have these in garage.
Feminine supplies- Check. Bathroom. Let me tell you as a woman, while you can make do with some substitutes (ranging from toilet paper through Kleenex and cloth scraps, nothing, and I mean NOTHING makes a woman more cranky and feeling narsty than the lack of these when needed. Really.)
Personal hygiene items- Deodorant, razor, whatever. I could do without these in an emergency, really, but yes, if I can grab them, they come with me from the bathroom. I usually have a travel kit in the black Travelocity bathroom bag I take when I travel, with hotel-size samples of toiletries, etc.
Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses) --Check. Black garbage bags in the garage.
Plastic bucket with tight lid - Actually I would need two of those.
Disinfectant - Got it.
Household chlorine bleach - Check, got it.

Clothing and Bedding
At least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person. -
Sturdy shoes or work boots- I have my hiking boots iin the same closet I keep a bag to throw clothes in
Rain gear- woefully negligent on this one, as TX is not known for its rainy season. Gotta get at least two raincoats.
Blankets or sleeping bags- Check on both; plenty of blankets adn one sleeping bag. Needs a second sleeping bag, though.
Hat and gloves -Check; in coat closet
Thermal underwear
- Again, not really a priority in TX climate, but probably need at least a pair, just in case the Day After Tomorrow Scenario happens :-)
Sunglasses -Check; we have at least four pairs floating around in cars and kitchen drawers.

Special Items
No baby yet, so no baby meds, diapers or formula

Heart and high blood pressure medication -no need
Insulin -no need; thank God; in case of emergencies, if the power feels, all insulin would spoil in fridge anyway, unfortunately.
Prescription drugs - we do not need any right now.
Denture needs - no dentures yet...
Contact lenses and supplies - for me; in guest bathroom. Proably need to stock an extra bottle of solution.
Extra eye glasses - have those in guest bathroom.


Games and books- well, depends. We have plenty in the house, but if we need to leave, I am not sure I'd take any save the wilderness survival book, the Bible and whatever my much-more- experienced-in-these-things Husband suggests...

Important Family Documents -this is where I need to get my butt planted and photocopy now that we have a copier at home.
In a waterproof, portable container:
Will, insurance policies, contracts deeds, stocks and bonds - Heh. Only insurance policies apply, although we REALLY need to do the will thing one of these days.
Passports, social security cards, immunization records - Copies needed.
Bank account numbers -Copies needed; I'd just include a monthly statement in the pile.
Credit card account numbers and companies- Same; monthly statement
Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers - You mean, I need to list all my books? Seriously, short of some jewellery inherited from my mother in law and some silver, our most valuable items are our books.
Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates) - Again, need to copy.

Guns and ammo:
As this is TX, and we both like our right to defend our life and property, the Husband has his rifles and ammo, and his .45, and I have my dainty little pistol and ammo as well, by the bedside. If we need to leave, those come with us too. With the gun cleaning kits, of course.

Two cat carriers and plenty of cat food, with collars and leashes. I would NOT leave them behind if we go on our own accord.

So: what to add, dear readers? I am sure I left plenty out...as I said, this is a work in progress.

Long weekend

It was good, to be able to sit at home, not doing anything more productive than laundry Saturday, some meals and watching The Husband play Neverwinter Nights. When Tuesday morning came, I kept thinking it was Monday. Luckily, it was not, as Mondays are always crazy in the office, and I am STILL moving slow.

However, we made a decision over the weekend with The Husband, in the light of recent events so fresh in all of our minds they still give me regular nightmares: to up our disaster preparedness a bit and start to assemble a better Grab-n-Go kit than the one we kinda have scattered around the house (Yes, we have about 70% of what most of the online versions describe, but not in one place, in an easily grab-able bag or large container--and wait, where did we put those extra duct tapes, flashlights, etc?). Also, need to find some time and opportunity to get to the range and practice with my new gun: when it's over 100 degrees in TX, you are just not that keen on trying the outdoor ranges nearby... With the weather breaking, it would be easier.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Happy Birthday Dad!

My dad does not have Internet access in Hungary and thus he cannot read this. But I called her this morning: over there it was afternoon, and he was busy cleaning tables at his restaurant after lunch hours. We talked a bit about how he was, mostly about how things are in NOLA and Mississippi, and how he was looking forward to seeing us in November when we visit. I promised to call again Sunday when I don't have to run to work.
Hope he can visit us here soon: I know he'd love the open sky and the roads where you can really ZOOM (he drives fast but incredibly safe; one accident, not his fault, in all the almost forty years he'd been on the road), and since he's a certified King of Shopping (tm) and clotheshorse, he'd go bonkers over some of the malls and such here.
And he promised to come over at least when his first grandchild is born, so...
He's turning 63 today. Boldog Szuletesnapot, apus!