Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pumpkin vegetable soup

Yesterday I was roasting some pumpkin and decided I didn't have enough for soup so I pulled a second container from the freezer.  Puréed everything, added some veggie broth, then poured into the soup pot in which I'd sautéed onions and garlic in olive oil.  (Because isn't that how so many of the best things start - with sautéed onions & garlic?) We had some old veggies on hand, so those went into the pot too - few potatoes that had started to sprout, a zucchini and a yellow squash that were starting to shrivel, some leftover carrots.  Added some barley because soup is so much better with some sort of grain, whether barley, rice or noodles.

Are you getting hungry yet? ;) TW decided he liked it better without all the extras, but I think it's pretty darn good, especially for a spur-of-the-moment thing.  With any luck, it'll freeze well, too.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Learning a new "language"

I arranged for some dialect coaching, since the director wants Dame Carruthers to sound English and I know I need "professional help" to pull that off convincingly.  Fortunately, I know a professional actor through church who, conveniently enough, is not only English herself but has taught dialect classes.  She gave me several very useful "substitutions", as she called them, that will get me a long way toward my goal of sounding authentically English.  I think the various "o" sounds will present the biggest challenge, but I've got time to get this down.  She's even offered to listen to how I sound once we get into the theater, when the acoustics will change dramatically and affect how I need to produce my sound.

As I told her, all those years I spent sitting in foreign language classes, trying to master the pronunciation so I don't sound so American, are continuing to pay off.

Notes on a first blocking rehearsal

[A little background:  I first worked with this company 20 years ago, but this is the first time I've had anything other than an ensemble part (not counting a "named ensemble member" with a handful of spoken and sung lines).  In other words, with this company, I'm used to being blocked with the rest of the ensemble 99.9% of the time.]

We had our first blocking rehearsal the weekend before Thanksgiving.  Not nearly as painful as such rehearsals so often are, which was nice.  The chorus number we started with went pretty smoothly - not complicated, but enough staggered entrances that it should look animated and not very "director told me to enter when ..."  Sgt. Meryll and I have a tiny bit of business that we may need to get more specific with, but for a first rehearsal, it all went quite smoothly.

The following number is Dame Carruthers with the yeomen.  That was a little weird - me and most of the men's chorus (some of them are "townies").  The director has me blocked downstage for most of it, with the yeomen upstage, and not where I can see them most of the time, which is a strange feeling for someone used to being part of the ensemble, not downstage from them.  As I told the yeomen at yesterday's music rehearsal when we finished rehearsing this number, "I'm not used to having back-up singers!" :D

Maiden attempt at quinoa

Finally got around to making quinoa tonight, using some tri-color quinoa I bought at the "organic" market a week or so ago.  Very pretty stuff - ivory, nearly black, and a sort of reddish-brown.  It smelled for all the world like peanut butter while it was cooking, though of course it didn't taste like it.  I think I either toasted it too long at the beginning or needed to add more water than the instructions recommended, because it was a bit dry and tasted a little scorched.  I may have to try it a few times to get the hang of this.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Unwanted excitement

The Chief and I spent Veterans Day weekend at the cabin.  When we arrived, we started the usual cold-weather opening routine: bring in the groceries, turn on the water and heat.  The propane heater gave him some trouble; first the pilot didn't want to light, then the blower didn't want to start, etc.  The capper was when smoke suddenly started billowing up from the back of the thing, and it's mounted on a wood-paneled wall!  That's when things really started getting exciting - the smoke alarms started going off, as did the alarm system, then the phone rang - the security company checking on us - while the Chief called the gas company to get some "immediate" help.  After we opened all the windows, it took several ear-splitting minutes to dissipate enough smoke for the bells, whistles and sirens to quit, and now it's only 54 degrees in the great room.  Brrr!  Me, I retired to the bedroom, where the baseboard heater slowly warmied the room (64 degrees sure beats 54!) while the Chief showed the gas company guy where everything is.

Turned out the problem was the new siding, or rather, its installation.  The installers didn't account for the additional thickness, so the heater vent no longer fit properly, causing all the problems.  The gas company ordered & installed a new vent pipe, the siding company redid the siding around the vent (it started to melt in one place!), and now we're keeping an eagle eye on that heater when we use it!

Good thing we like turkey!

We got a 10-lb turkey for Thanksgiving, which TW and I shared with a friend from church who had to cancel his travel plans.  We sent him home with leftovers, of course, but still had plenty of turkey for us.  Friday night's dinner was Thanksgiving leftovers (yum!).  Saturday we dined on turkey & dumplings.  Last night?  Home-made turkey soup.  (I love home-made soup!)  Turkey & dumplings again tonight, & tomorrow, too, with enough in the big freezer for 2 more meals at some later date.  Ditto a container of turkey soup.  Yes, it's a good thing we like turkey, given how much of it we have on hand!  After we finish this container of turkey & dumplings, though, I think we'll go for something a little different - fish, or pork chops, or maybe eggplant parmagiana...