...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.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Lentil Salad

I threw this together around 2100 last night, so it tells you how fast and easy it is.
You will need:
1/2 pack of green lentils (about 1.5 cups)
1/2 of a large or 1 small white onion finely chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. cumin, ground
1 tsp. coriander seed, ground
8-10 cardamom seeds, ground in a mortar
1/2 cup parsley, flat leaf, finely chopped
1/4-1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil (try to find a good quality one of salads, it makes all the difference)
freshly ground clack pepper and salt to taste

Rinse and pick over lentils. In large pot, pour 4-6 cups of boiling water over it (I used water from my Zojirushi tea water pot since it's always close to boiling anyway), and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes, until soft but not overtender. Adjust cooking time if needed based on your cooktop, and check a couple of times to see if it did not boil over (I put the lid on only halfway).
While it cooks, chop the onions, place in large salad bowl. Add garlic powder, cumin, coriander and cardamom. Mix; add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle in 1/4 cup of olive oil.
When lentils are done, drain in colander and let it drip until almost dry. Mix with onion and spice mixture. Chop garlic clove very fine and add to mixture. Mince parsley and add to mix. Toss salad throroughly and add more olive oil if it is too dry (I ended up addingh an extra 2 tablespoons, but it really depends on your individual taste).
Cover and refrigerate for a while to get the flavors develop. I had a small bowl last night but it really is best after letting it stand a bit.
(Picture is coming...)


Monday, March 26, 2007

New Tolkien Book!

This is coming out April 13th...Needless to say I preordered it. I read the previously published excerpts of it in the History of Middle Earth series, and they are so beautifully and hauntigly written, they literally made me shiver (especially the time spent among the outlaws, the Curse of Morgoth at the beginning, some scenes of Turin's youth at home, and, of course, the very ending).

I cannot decide if this ever could be made into a movie, because it really, really should not be messed with. Probably not; I would love to see the great dragonfight, though...It is one of the great tragic tales of English-language literature, and its roots are both in the Greek tragedies and in the Germanic heroic cycles.
Plus, it is illustrated; and by Alan Lee to boot! Woot!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Texas Forts Trail II.

More images of our trip:

Ends of 19th c. log cabin in Buffalo Gap. According to the museum, there were at some point 2 adults and 6 children living in it.

Ft. Chadbourne, between Abilene and San Angelo. The fort is on a private property on a working ranch, and had been in the hand of the same family for six generations.

Ft. McKavett, south of San Angelo, and its morning sky. It was called 'the prettiest post in Texas' when functioning. The site certainly is beautiful and very quiet.

Ft. Mason, the last fort of our trail, and its commanding view of the surrounding countryside.

Texas Forts Trail I.

Here are some pictures from our roadtrip; if you are interested, here is a link to about 80% of the route we went on.

This is Ft. Richardson at Jacksboro, TX.

This is The Husband posing as a tin soldier in front of the very scenic park containing the ruins of Fort Belknap, outside of Graham,TX.

Buffalo Gap, TX, from the closed gas station parking lot.

The Husband with one of the Buffalo Gap Historic Village cats; they have 12 of them. We saw 4, who escorted us around ad demanded attention.
This is also the place where my cold originated: the weather turned Thursday night, and Buffalo Gap was rather chilly.

More to follow...

Back from Vacation

We are baaack...some news of our vacation can be found on The Husband's blog; we went techie and took the laptop with the wireless card with us, so he could do some roadside blogging from the hotels we stayed at. I'll try to post some pictures of the Texas Forts Trail tonight. We had a great time, despite my cold I acquired in the charming historical village exhibition of Buffalo Gap, TX (yes, I can pinpoint my cold exactly to the cold wind between those buildings).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Greek Vase Paintings

Red or black figure, does not matter in this case. And a good dose of Classic Greek drama, with all of its conventions, larger-than life protagonists, masks and tragic fates; plus all the splendor and fantastic creatures of Greek mythology. That's how one is supposed to see "300". Once we have this in mind (plus that it was made based on a comic book that was based on a secondary source re-telling the battle of Thermopylae--does it start to sound like an Umberto Eco pseudo-literary history yet?), even an almost-classicist like me leans back and enjoys it immensely, and only occassionally cringes on the historical inaccuracies. For a more detailed review, go and see The Husband's thoughts here.
Oh, and ladies? It is true. The sixpacks are dreamy in this one.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Simple Roasted Chicken

I got my hands on a free-range chicken last week at Central Market, and it was time to pull it out the freezer and make a Sunday night dinner for me and The Husband. So here it is. No pictures because before I remembered we finished half of it already...:-)

1 4-5 lbs. whole roasting chicken, preferably free-range or organic, the taste is MUCH better; OR you can brine your conventional chicken as my friend The Marmot does in salted water overnight
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 sprigs fresh or 3 teaspoons dried rosemary
to taste: salt, garlic granules or fresh garlic, freshly ground black pepper

  • Rinse chicken; pat dry with paper towel. Place chicken breast side up on clean work surface, tie drumsticks and tuck wings behind chicken. Mine came already trussed and tucked--handy!
  • Preheat oven to 425 F (on my new shiny Maytag, I used the Convection Roast feature).
  • Loosen skin on breast with fingers, tuck 1-1 teaspoon of dried or 1-1 small sprig rosemary under skin, add 1 chunk of butter to each side. Place remaining rosemary in body cavity of chicken.
  • Rub chicken with 1 piece of butter on the outside, sprinkle with salt, garlic and black pepper.
  • Place chicken is shallow roasting pan, breast side up. Arrange remaining butter around it (I placed 2 slivers underneath, the rest around it.
  • Roast, uncovered for abour 20 minutes per pound. Baste with juices periodically (I did this in the last 30 minutes a couple of times) to ensure it does not dry out. Check temperature with instant thermometer (our best friend when chicken and pork are involved). Chicken is ready when juices run clear and internal temperature at inner thigh reached 180F.
  • Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before carving so juices settle.
  • Serve with smashed potatoes and a simple salad if desired.

Smashed Potatoes for Two:

  • Cook 2 medium potatoes in the microwave (paper towel, 7-9 minutes depending oven wattage) turning once. Wrap in towel, let it sit for 5 mins; peel.
  • Smash in medium bowl. Microwave 2/3 cup of milk until hot; mix into smashed potatoes, add 1-2 tablespoon of butter; mix well with fork.
  • Season with salt and garlic granules if desired (yes, we like garlic, thank you!); may add 1 teaspoon of sour cream if in fridge to make it even more sinful.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Wilted Spinach and Roasted Spicy Feta

Quick easy dinner for two-suitable for Lenten Fridays for those so inclined amongst my Catholic friends.

4 cups fresh baby spinach
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. feta cheese block, cut into 4 squares
1 tsp. crushed red pepper (I used Aleppo pepper from Penzeys)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground pepper
1 tsp olive oil

Heat oven to 400 F. PLace 4 squares of feta cheese on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Drizzle with 1 tsp. olive oil. Sprinkle with cayenne, red pepper and black pepper.
Bake for 15 minutes.
5 minutes before cheese is done, prepare spinach:
In large skillet, heat olive oil, toss garlic until sizzles, add spinach, increase heat to high, stir until wilted.
Plating: 2 squares per person, mound spinach to side. Decorate with lemon wedges and fresh parsley if you have some.
No photo because we ate it in five minutes last night. Sorry!


Foot Update

Day 2 after surgery.

Note to self. Driving with partially removed right big toe toenail is interesting.
Further observations: drugs are good. Shoes are not so much.
When you think you are feeling better and you can do anything you use to, just because the swelling went down, think again, It is still a big open wound on your foot right where you put a lot of pressure normally.
Watch the furniture around corners.
Watch the cats all times.
Did I mention prescription painkillers are good?
Back to my spreadsheets...

Monday, March 05, 2007

Foot Woes

So: after two weeks hobbling around with an infected toenail after stabbing my right big toe on a mystery furniture piece, I am getting minor surgery done this morning having partial toenail removal. I am on antibiotics since Friday, plus painkillers. Whee!
The Husband insists I should have let him perform this surgery at the time of injury with his trusty pocket knife and a bit of leather to bite on. I retort every time that we were and are not in the Mojave Desert...