Thursday, January 22, 2015

"I'm forever blowing bubbles..."

My voice teacher trotted out a new exercise this week.  She had me take a cup with a little water in it, along with a straw, and blow bubbles while humming up and down a fifth.  The point is to try to keep the air pressure consistent instead of letting it ebb and flow.  Not quite as easy as it sounds, but it sure does make you realize whether you're sustaining an even, level air flow.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

That's one recipe we *won't* be using again.

Tried a recipe for Chicken Tangier from my new slow-cooker cookbook.  Made a half batch at the full time, which resulted in rather dried-out chicken.  That's not a deal-breaker, but the ingredients (olives, prunes, capers, et al.) combined to give the whole a flavor neither one of us much cared for.  Good thing it was only a half batch. That recipe's getting a "don't make this one again" note. :(

I called it!

As I predicted last May, the costumer for The Arabian Nights was one of 5 nominees for Outstanding Costume Design in a Play.  Hurray!  I knew the adjudicators would recognize her expertise.  I mean really - don't they look wonderful?

As a result of the halo effect, I was nominated for both hair (5 nominees) and make-up design (6 nominees) for the same show.  Thanks, L!  Now I only wish I'd gotten close-ups of reach of "my" actors in their glory.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Really enjoying this rehearsal process so far.

Enjoying Harvey rehearsals so far.  One entertaining bit is the 10-month-old offspring of the couple playing Dr. Sanderson & Nurse Kelly.  First because said child is adorable and tolerates rehearsals amazingly well, possibly because Daddy is a high school drama teacher and Mommy techs so she's used to it.  She has also been a good sport about playing Harvey once or twice, perched on Daddy's shoulders to get the height correct. :-D

We've got some great talent in the cast - our Elwood is very endearing.  (And already starting to get off book, darn it; I'm still stuck w/ my nose in my script. :-()  Even the people in the 3 or 4 cameo roles are stand-outs - I'll really have to bring my best game not to be shown up!

I'm loving this director's process.  She stops repeatedly, coaching the actors on posture, vocal levels, or phrasing to punch up the comedy or point up a relationship. She also asks us to try things, acknowledging that "I may not like it, but I want to see how it works."  Last night she gave me a very different way to deliver one small speech, changing the emphasis and adding some physicality. The first way was good, but the new way is even funnier so she's keeping it.  Now I just need to drill my vocal levels and where I step up as I build through that speech. Fun stuff!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tried *four* new recipes yesterday!

Yesterday I made a tiny dent in my enormous backlog of recipes I want to try.
  1. For breakfast I made eggs in portabella mushroom caps.  "Oil & broil" the caps for 5-10 mins (best to remove the stems first).  Then crack an egg into each mushroom, season if you like, sprinkle a little parmagiana or other cheese on top if you're so inclined.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, and you're set!  If you go for the shorter cooking time, might want to have some bread or something handy to soak up the egg yolk and mushroom juice.
  2. I made a "Yankee pot roast & vegetables" recipe from a cookbook I picked up last week of slimmed-down slow cooker recipes.  That'll be dinner tonight.
  3. We tried rabbit again, this time using a recipe from the Chief's old Doubleday cookbook.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't worth the work.  And with rabbit costing $6.59/lb, we won't make it again.
  4. As a side dish, I fixed a Loaded Cauliflower Mash Bake.  I will definitely be making this again!  You boil a head of cauliflower and a few cloves of garlic until the cauliflower is pretty much mush.  Drain it, then puree.  Add 1/3 c. of  buttermilk (I substituted non-fat plain Greek yogurt, which I'm far more likely to use), 1 Tbsp of butter, salt & pepper to taste.  Pour into an 8"x8" baking dish, top with 1/4 c. shredded cheddar and 4 strips of crisp bacon, crumbled, and bake at 350 degrees F for 5 or 10 minutes (enough to melt the cheese).  I tasted this while I was pureeing it and think it would be just as good without the cheese or bacon because the yogurt gave it such a good zing - think sour cream.  If you think cauliflower is boring, you gotta try this!

Saturday, January 03, 2015

More experiments in the kitchen

Tonight I finally roasted the duck that would have been dinner a few days ago if the Chief hadn't been sick.  I'd forgotten how very much fat there is on a waterfowl, which means not a lot of meat and a very high fat-to-drippings ratio.  A 5-lb duck fed 3 people with enough meat for one more.  However, we decided to leave the remaining meat on the carcass, which is now duck soup.  I'll skim the fat off tomorrow and see how we like the results.

I also tried my hand at roasting beets, after having a wonderful "harvest salad" for lunch last week that had roasted beets and butternut squash on it.  (It also had "baby kale", a very nice soft goat cheese and grilled chicken.  It was SO good!)  The beets took a lot longer to cook than I'd expected - well over an hour, so they didn't make it onto the dinner menu as I'd planned. Between cooking and peeling them, they ended up going into the fridge, where they'll wait until dinner tomorrow night.  That's when I'll learn how they turned out.

When I retire, I'll have to find a soup kitchen or some such place that wants cooks - there are so many recipes and things I want to make, and just two of us at home to eat all my experiments.  The Chief and I were watching the Great British Baking Show tonight - dangerous, because it gives me so many more things I want to try in the kitchen.

I've done rather a lot of feeding people the past week or so - made three different "meals on wheels" runs to ailing friends down with one thing and another.  It reminded that I miss cooking for more than two.  Yep, I completely see myself feeding people once I retire.  :)

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Change of New Year's Day brunch menu

The Chief's stomach started rumbling a bit last night night and he woke up this morning with a stomach bug, poor thing.  We had planned to have a nice, hot brunch to start the new year.  Instead, he's "feasting" on tea and plain bread.  (Turns out the grocery store had a "take and bake" loaf that's actually pretty good.)

Oh well; if he starts the year sick, it's gotta get better, right?