A Pair of Olympic Tales

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The book that’s currently on my Kindle is called ‘Godhunter’ by Amy Sumida.   It’s a semi-humorous, semi-romantic, semi-action indie book which I’ve been through at least half a dozen times.  The question I have to ask myself is:  ‘Why didn’t I go back and look up more books in the series???’

I counted 18 when I dropped into Amazon just now…I’ve got some catching up to do!

I especially like the heroine of the piece.  She reminds me a lot of myself (in attitude, not in body type) so she easily came alive in my head.

That’s the hallmark of a good story in my opinion.  If the characters take life of their own inside my skull – the author has done their job.

Because this book brings some of the more iconic Gods from the Egyptian, Greek, Norse, Aztec, and other assorted Pantheon’s of old, it reminded me of one of my flash fiction pieces.  I dug around and, low and behold – I HADN’T put it on the T&T.

I’m gonna remedy that right now…this originally appeared in Flash! Friday on October 9, 2015 at 4:10 pm.   I’m especially fond of the title of the piece, which got me an honorable mention with ‘the most Victorian and Overblown title of the week.’

Whereas The Olympiad from their Throne on High, do Design to Demarcate the next Branch of the Family Tree

211 words
Character: An overbearing Aunt
Setting: A Garden
Theme: Marriage

“My dear, I am SOOO glad you could drop by for a visit!”

DAMN!!! 
I knew it was a calculated risk rematerializing within the Gardens on Olympus this time of day – but when Hephaestus says he has an opening on the forge – you don’t dally! Just my luck to land at the feet of Great-Great-Great Aunt Hera.

“These Gardens look disgraceful, don’t you agree? I simply must pry Demeter away from her ‘Ban the Pomegranate’ crusade – as I simply can’t entertain in such disarray.”

Aaaaand – Auntie was on a roll!

“We simply canNOT have any sort of wedded gathering here – Coatilcue of the Aztec would God it over me forever!”

I silently twisted the Cerebus-chewed handle of my beloved whip, counting the diminishing seconds ticking away. It would be months before I could get another appointment with the Forge.

“And when are YOU going to continue the line, my dear? By your age, Zeus had dozens of children. Granted, most were with mortal women, but STILL. Demi-gods have their uses, too…”

“Aunt HERA!!!” I bellowed – the fires of the Underworld burning a path through Hera’s prized bed of ornamental orchids.

“OH!” she sputtered, raising her nose in disdain. “I didn’t recognize you, Megaera! I guess Hell hath no Fury right now…”

Is it Cold in here?

Why, yes…it is.  Downright Chili.

chili2

You generally don’t hear about chili being made in Wisconsin in the middle of the summer.  The heat and humidity that hammer down on this state in July make it far, FAR too dangerous to cook something in the house that requires the stove burner to be on more than a few minutes.

Each minute you’re generating heat within the house requires 5 minutes of cooler temps from somewhere (like…the fridge) to get the indoor temperature back down to a reasonable number.

Ok, ok…yes, we do have air conditioning…but we’re too cheap to use it!

Besides…the hot & stickies give us a perfect excuse to NOT cook in the house, but to take things in the backyard, ignite our new flame pits, and char some animal proteins on the altar.

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Quote semi-stolen from ‘The Coneheads’

It also gives a great excuse to suck down large amounts of ice-cold beer, play ‘swat the mosquito’ once the sun goes down…and sometimes, the hose comes out if anyone in the backyard looks like they’re starting to melt.

But I digress – this isn’t about the dismally hot & humid weather which usually occurs in Wisconsin in July & August – this is about a different kind of heat.

Chile heat…

Chili is just one of those meals – a few ingredients, a few spices, and a lot of time in the cooking process so everything ends up a uniformly spiced bowl of stew.  But because it’s a simple meal to toss together, makes the house smell great as it’s simmering, and everyone’s taste buds are a bit different, everyone has THE, undisputed, BEST recipe for the stuff.  All other recipes are worse than recycled dog food.

Chili Wars are amusing.  Texans, in particular, have been raging over kidney beans for decades,

 

Get them damnable veggies OUTTA there – that ain’t chili!

 

While in Cincinnati, chili has an entirely different spice profile,  allows for add-ons after the cooking is done (onions, cheese, beans), and is served over spaghetti.

cincinnati-chili

Anything with this much cheese on top is guaranteed to be a big hit in Wisconsin

I’m no stranger to the Chili Wars.  My ‘BEST EVER!’ chili recipe is a mixture of ground beef & pork sausage, tomato paste & sauce, garlic, onions, kidney beans, and lots of chili powder.   The individual eat-ee is allowed to add more onion, cheese, and/or sour cream to their individual bowl – and it is always served with fresh-baked bread & butter, and saltine crackers.

Mess with this complex cooking and serving method at your own peril!

The wuzband, on the other hand, made a recycled-Franken-dog-food that nobody in their right mind would call chili.  He dumped in ground beef, noodles, peas, corn, carrots, potatoes, green beans, and used V-8 vegetable juice for the broth.

He.  Doesn’t.  Add. Chili. Powder.

That’s bland beef vegetable soup – not chili!

 

Now, with Keto, I can’t use the beans.  I also can’t serve my chili with the bread or the crackers…but I wanted chili.

Needed chili.

Even though it’s a million degrees outside, and I could fry a hamburger by sticking the raw meat on the window.

Must.  Have.  Chili.

So I started digging through the web.  Read up on dozens of chili variations.  Decided against going the Texas route, because chili NEEDS something to offset the meat and sauce.

For Bella

For Belladonna Took

What I came up with?  Kohlrabi.

It’s a lesser-known bulb vegetable in the cabbage family, with a tough and fibrous outer shell.  The meat inside is smooth, crunchy, and very mildly flavored.  It doesn’t mush up (which is a great advantage over beans) when you cook it, but retains the shape you cut it into.

Even after the long simmer-time required for a great pot of chili, It retained a bit of its crunch, all the while soaking up all that fantastic flavor.

With 3.6 carbs per bulb – it’s a delightful low-carb bean substitute!

 

Because I’d been reading so many varied recipes, I decided to tinker with the flavorings as well as the bean substitute.  Chili powder is great and all, but I wanted something a bit more exotic.

Coffee cold from the pot.  And a bit of cocoa powder.

 

I’m sure the chili purists out there are preparing a lynching as I type…

 

It was an amazing bowl of almost-chili, with the earthier flavors from the coffee & chocolate giving a dark and rich ‘barely bitter’ note to compliment the heat from the chili powder & chilies.   You got the earthy/bitter note on the first bite, and the heat gently rose on the back of your tongue after the 3rd.  It was transformative.

I like food that delivers layers of flavors – it’s like reading a book with your tongue.

Here’s how I made it:

 

Keto Kinda-Chili with Kohlrabi
The Stuff
2.5 pounds ground beef
12oz ground breakfast sausage
3 Medium Kohlrabi, peeled and cubed
1 large white onion, cubed
12 oz can tomato paste
14 oz can beef broth
10 oz can Ro-Tel tomatoes with Chilies
1/2 cup black coffee
1/2 TB cocoa powder
1.5 TB chili powder (or adjust for taste)
1 tsp ground coriander  (or adjust for taste)
The Execution
Brown the beef and sausage in a pan until no longer pink.  Drain
the fat, and place in a crock pot.
Add the tomato paste, tomatoes and beef broth to the crock
pot.  Stir until the paste is blended into the rest of the wet
ingredients.
Add the cubed kohlrabi, onion, coffee, cocoa, chili powder
and coriander.  Stir to dissolve the dry spices.
Cook on low heat for 2 hours.  Stir, and check the seasoning
ratio, adding more spices to taste.
Cook on high heat for 2 more hours.  Serve with any extras you want.
Serves 10 (or 1 teenaged boy)

 

 

 

Adventures in Geometry

I consider geometry the unholy spawn of some sadistic individual’s desire to force an horrific mating of math and art.

Why else would the number of the Devil from the Christian bible be 666?

I remember Geometry class in high school.  Back then, it was required in Sophomore year – everyone took it.  Not everyone enjoyed it.  Not everyone survived it, and not everyone passed the class.  (OLD school – you actually had to demonstrate understanding of a subject to receive a passing grade…).  All the different formula and equations were required memorization – you learned the formula, plugged in the numbers, and let the final result tell you this 3×3 box has 9 cubic feet of air trapped inside it.  The shapes were raped (boxes and triangles and circles), the line drawings abused (angles, parallels, curves).  Everyone was forced away from viewing pleasing visuals, and into considering their base numerical equivalents.

Even at this adolescent and prone-to-fanciful-thinking age, I could see that Geometry was the antithesis of great art, and I fought this tooth & nail.

hqdefaultGeometry demanded equal columns of numbers marching in lockstep without deviation – I wanted to put a pyramid on top of a box, add some cubes, balls and curved brick walkways to create a visually-pleasing home in the woods.   I didn’t CARE that my home had 1357.27685 cubic feet of air trapped inside, with additional insulating air of 339.3192125 cubic feet trapped under the roof, and a capacity to lose 33.78% of the warmth generated in the field stone fireplace through the insanely large windows – IT looked like a inviting and secluded cabin where I could get some SERIOUS artwork done.

Apple Pi

Finally, I’ll never forgive them for forever ruining Pie by dropping the ‘E’ and giving me, not only an endless chain of numbers to really mess with my mind, but another goofy line drawing.

Mmmmm – pie… 

Although I did enjoy the single day our educator stepped away from the rote formula-learning, and gave us a math/word game.  Given each letter in the English alphabet a consecutive number (a=1, b=2 and so on up to z=26) – what’s the highest number you can make from a 5 letter English word?   (Fuzzy, for the record, was our best at a value of 104)

I DO understand Geometry has a place in this world (after all, my cabin in the woods would need to be built using geometric formula if I wanted it to stand) – but I’d prefer to move in after the paint has dried on the walls and the plumbing is working.

Now here’s the weird part.  I do pretty good with simple mathematics, and actually enjoy the lockstep logicality in finance. (I work in accounting, after all…)  I especially enjoy finding and backtracking errors that Corporate AR puts into the books, and request they fix them with a long adding machine tape of evidence to back up my claims.

Floating Fucks

Just another day on the job

Because I’m good at these simple monetary maths, I traditionally earn more than I spend in a month – although my recent purchases of jump rings & jewelry displays made this month a bit more spend-y than save-y.

But geometry?  Nope – nope – nope.  Not going there…not even as a tourist.

Now, the SQO will tell me that I’m good at higher, more complex maths.  He’ll mention some of my drawings (bring on infinite perspective!) my origami, glass-etching, and chainmaille.  The way I automatically frame photographs into the rule of thirds, and all the computer work I’ve done in Photoshop creating abstract arts.

 

He is right, in that all these artistic creations have a healthy dose of complex mathematics behind them.  I don’t see the numbers, though, and I have no interest in calculating them out.  I just see the forms and feel the perfection in the patterns.

 

 

This weekend, I finished a chainmaille project I’ve been hungering to complete for a long time.  I made a ball.

on desk

12 completely identical sides, each side sharing it’s mirrored construction with another side.  12 pentagrams of 5 sides each curled around into a mathematically-correct ball.

I knew going into this one that it wouldn’t be a quicky project – I didn’t realize that it would take an estimated 6 hours, repeated slips of the pliers resulting in skinned knuckles, poked legs, a near-blister on my ring finger and near-miss to my cheek.  I didn’t realize it would take building and tearing out a portion of it over and over and over again until I got it right.  I didn’t realize it would eat up most of my stock of stainless steel 6.9 AR rings (I’m estimating around 400 rings).

I didn’t realize how FUN it was to put this thing together.  The real question is:  do I want to keep this Geometrical Construction on my desk as a tribute to higher maths, or do I want to sell it on Etsy?

 

first third

This is 4 ‘faces’ into the project

 

 

Maths feature in Keto, too.  I decided to give Keto an honest shot once I had a spreadsheet constructed (what did I do before Excel???) to track exactly what I was putting in my mouth in terms of fat, carbs, and proteins.  Started keeping track of what the nutritional content was for my brand of bacon, butter, beef and veggies.  Added additional tabs for the recipes I’ve tried, and a 3rd tab for those recipes deemed ‘a catastrophic failure.’  All my eating, broken down into lockstep columns of marching numbers.

My Geometry teacher would be so proud!

I also started actually reading those nutritional guidelines listed on the backs or sides of some of my favorite snack foods.  That was an experience in pure horror, I’m telling you.  My favorite cheese chips have 19 grams of ultra-processed carbohydrates in just 18 crackers.

As if I could stop at 18 chips?  I used to eat these by the bowlful, if not straight outta the box!

Being low-carb, although it presents some interesting challenges, and was a right royal pain the ass to get used to, is totally worth it in how my body now feels.

This week- I whipped up a chicken-cabbage salad to take to work.  Here’s how I made it.

Chinese Chicken Cabbage Salad
The Stuff
1 small head green cabbage
6 TBS extra virgin olive oil
5 TBS rice vinegar
1.5 TBS Soy Sauce
1 TBS ground ginger
t tsp Cinnamon
2 medium clove garlic, pressed
4 oz cooked chicken breast, finely chopped
The Execution
Chop cabbage into long strips, removing the core.  Place in a large bowl with the
chopped chicken.
Add oil, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, cinnamon and garlic in a deep bowl or
2 cup Pyrex measuring cup.  Whisk extremely well until all ingredients are
incorporated and the oil no longer separates from the rest of he wet ingredients.
Pour dressing over salad, toss to coat.

Flower Power

I may have mentioned my recent obsession with little jump rings…

RT Flower

I’ve discovered orbitals.  For those of you who don’t know anything about chainmaille patterns, an orbital is when you have two (or more) rings in connection with each other, with a third (or more) ring circling that connection point.

orbital

,,,

,,,

,,,

Like this ——->

Within my exploring on the WWW – I found a YouTuber who put out a video showing how to make a flower pendant with orbitals.  The result … is PRETTY.  She calls it the ‘Reverse Tao’ flower, and the tutorial is one of my new favorites – simple, with the focus on the hands and the rings and how to combine them.  No extra flashy graphics in the front, no long-winded intro speech before you get to the meat of the tutorial, no loud hip-hop or pop or rock music.  Just the build.

I like a tutorial that simply gets down to business without all this nonsense of ‘gettin’ down B4 Bizniz’.

I did have to do some tweaking to this pattern.  The ring size as listed in the tutorial created a form that was rather too loose for my liking, so I scaled the AR down to a tighter 6.9, and I added some additional rings to really firm things up.

I like my chainmaille things tight 😀  and I’ll be listing a few of these lovelies on my Etsy shop this weekend.

I’ve found yet another pattern which uses my favorite ring size.  I use these particular rings for

The Centipede Necklaces

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my whirly pendants

A Whirly

the turbine pendants

model close in

and they make a great, quickie bail.

So I finally bit the bullet and ordered a huge amount of them in a variety of metals – I even found them in Niobium, which equals bright, shiny colors.

Colors – squeeeeeeeeeee!

I got some serious maile-ing to do over the next few weeks, because I have my first ever show coming up.  Now, granted, this show is at a vape store grand opening, so I don’t exactly ‘fit in’ with what the rest of the vendors will be offering – but I’ll happily take the exposure.

 

In the keto world, I’ve been exploring cheesecake.  My mousse fluff mimics the filling in a cream puff, but I’ve never been really interested in the cream puff shell – so my explorations went to the next cool and creamy dessert-type thing that came to mind.   And – again thanking the technology that allows people all across the planet to share out interesting ideas – Keto cheesecakes are EVERYWHERE on the web.

I tried a simple recipe for cheesecake fluff first, which brought some sour cream to the party for the tang in real cheesecake – but was left unimpressed.  Not only did the sour cream add the WAY wrong tang, the mixture didn’t blend quite fully, leaving me with little nodules of cream cheese which felt really strange when eating the thing.

Cheesecake should be full-on creamy, rich, and sweet, with just a hint of tang as it spreads across your tongue.  Cheesecake should NOT be LUMPY.

Only the crust is allowed to have a lumptastic texture.

So I’ll be trying some different recipes – and already have them flagged.

Keto Cheesecake Tarts from KetoKrate Blog

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Blueberry Cheesecake squares from DitchTheCarbs

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No bake Lemon Cheesecake also from DitchTheCarbs

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Now I just gotta find the TIME to play in the kitchen 😀

Mousse & Squirrel

Hey, hey Rocky – watch me pull a fantastic dessert outta my hat!!!

rocky bullwinkle copy

 

Yea, I’m dating myself again, quoting a cartoon I watched when I was a kid a few more than 29 years ago.  One of these days, I’ll have to update my fictional age to a more believable number…

And no – I did not make a dessert out of squirrel.  I’ve never been one for weird meat.

Yea…I went there…

This weekend was the Independence Day holiday – the weekend of the year where Americans of all ages go to their local fairgrounds and eat WAAAAAAY too much really bad for you, insanely expensive, questionable foodstuffs, drink WAAAAAAAY too much over-priced, watered down alcohol, go on WAAAAAAY too many spinney-type rides, stopping the frivolity only long enough to visit a conveniently-placed waste barrel to empty their stomachs in the worst possible way.

I once tried to convince people to avoid the middle-man by offering to punch them in the stomach for $50.00 (still get the pain, but no stinky, smelly puke breath), but nobody took me up on the offer, not even when I offered to roll them down a hill for the dizziness effect.

Entrepreneurs have it tough in this country.

How do we end this celebratory dine & purge fest?  We blow stuff up.

Yea, I could wax nostalgic on the whole ‘rocket’s red glare, bombs bursting in air,’ but it sounds better my way – it’s very ‘Murikan! to blow stuff up.

Boom

I don’t go to the fairgrounds over the 4th holiday – my family has a yearly reunion at Dad’s home on Lake Reinhart.  We gather, bring a dish to pass, swim in the lake, socialize in the shade, and let the kids (mostly my younger nephews & nieces) do what kids do best.

Dad usually has sandwich stuff and cold salads (macaroni, potato, etc…) along with fresh veggies & dips for lunch, because we all tend to arrive (hungry) at different times.  For dinner, we do those salads & veggies again, a sugar-rush of desserts, and the ‘Official Summer Meat of Wisconsin’ fresh off the grill-altar.

If I have to say brats…you need to read more of my posts 😀

At lunch, the first thing that was mentioned was the woeful lack of bread or carb products on my plate.  I filled up instead with the veggies & dip, and some cold ham & sausage from the available meats.

Which gave me the perfect opportunity to explain keto to the family.

My dish to pass for the event emerged at the evening meal.  Now, I made 2 desserts, actually.  One with real sugar for everyone else, and one with just enough sugar substitute to satisfy my rather blunted sweet tooth.

Berries and creamMousse & berries.  This stuff, with real sugar, tastes exactly like the cream filling they pipe into cream puffs up here.  And pairing out fresh blackberries and raspberries made it the perfect 4th of July celebratory dessert.  Good Ole’ Red, White & Blue.

Here is the recipe:

Keto Mousse & Berries
The Stuff
3 TB each  Marscapone cheese and heavy cream
2ish TSP Erythritol
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 C fresh raspberries
1/4 C fresh Blackberries
The Execution
Blend Marscapone cheese and heavy cream until well combined
add sweetener and vanilla
Blend until well thickened
Split the raspberries inbetween 2 tall fluted glasses
Pipe half the cheese mixture into each glass on top of the berries
Split the blackberries between the two glasses on top of the cream

EAT WELL.

Here’s the weekly Keto update:

Wednesday – Tried an experiment with almond butter, coconut, cream cheese & caramel syrup.  Not terrible, but I probably won’t repeat.

Thursday – My first ever work-sponsored-lunch-on-Keto.  They brought in pizza, garlic bread, and salad.  I nimbly avoided the garlic bread, scraped the toppings off 2 slices of pizza, and loaded up on the salad.

Friday – Chicken & Salsa soup.  ’twas FANTASTIC, crammed full of black olives & green cabbage.

Saturday – Fine dining on good Wisconsin brats & my berry mousse.

Sunday – Movie night.  The SQO was rather hot to see this movie called ‘The Purge:  Election Year.’

If you haven’t already guessed, he’s REALLY a Cinephile.  

As the movie was a dystopian future flick, I was on board, as that’s one of my favored genres.

 

This is a strange film.  The premise is that, for one night every year, the citizens of the US are allowed to commit any crime they wish without legal issue.  All crimes, for the one night, are LEGAL.

The commentary in the film makes it painfully obvious that this sanctioned night-of-chaos is part of the 1%-ers plan to eliminate as much of the poor and lower-class populations in the easiest way possible – let them kill each other.

For the first time, government officials are no longer exempt from the Purge – because a senator running for the Presidency with some establishment-busting ideas is actually WINNING in the polls – and this is the establishment’s ‘bid’ to eliminate her.

It’s gruesome – this film. Rather disturbing in the way it violently shoves the unpleasant darkness residing within all humanity down your unwilling throat.  But I’ll probably go see it again 😀