kindkit: Man sitting on top of a huge tower of books, reading. (Fandomless--book tower)
I've finally found one area in which German is superior to French (by which I mean, easier for me as a native English speaker). It's numbers. German numbers seem to work mostly like English ones, but French numbers make you do math. (ETA: They do in the standard French of France; apparently it is not universal and other varieties of French do it differently.) Well, numbers from 70 to 99. 70 in French is "soixante-dix," literally sixty-ten. 71 is "soixante-onze," sixty-eleven. 80 is "quatre-vingt," or four twenties. 90 is "quatre-vingt-dix," four twenties and ten, and so on up to 99, "quatre-vingt-dix-neuf," or four twenties and nineteen.

My French is not too bad, apart from not having a full adult vocabulary, but I still have to stop and think when hearing or speaking French numbers.

This is especially fun in the context of telephone numbers, because the French don't say telephone numbers digit by digit like American English speakers do, they divide them into groups of two. So if somebody's telephone number includes the combination 97, they will say "quatre-vingt-dix-sept," and the unsuspecting English speaker will write down 4 (quatre) and only then realize they've got it wrong, and have to go back and correct while their French interlocutor is now several numbers ahead. You can guess how I know this.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand all this is probably interesting to no one but me, but I was happy to find a context in which German is simple and straightforward. Unlike its ten million billion pronoun forms.
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)
18. A song from the year you were born

This was an easy choice.

This version of the song, the best known one, is I think later than 1969 (my birth year), but I like it better so that's what you get. It's worth looking at the original 1969 video on YouTube, though, if only because both video and song version are so hilariously 1960s.

David Bowie, "Space Oddity"





All the prompts )
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
I haven't done a huge amount of cooking, because on Tuesday it's my turn to host the potluck and Buffy watch, and I've been trying to get my place ready. Yesterday I thought I'd give my kitchen a quick clean, believing that it was fairly clean already. But once I started cleaning attentively, my views on the subject . . . adapted, and so there was wiping down of cupboards and cleaning under the stovetop and washing the windowsills and scrubbing the floor on my hands and knees (luckily it's a small kitchen, because ouch). I'd never realized how many little dirt-trapping crevices and nooks my kitchen possessed, and I badly want to know what fool thought it was a good idea to install cupboard doors with lots of paneling detail--sort of like this, but a much cheaper, uglier imitation--instead of nice flat ones that would wipe clean easily.

Anyway, let's talk about food.

Something I've cooked recently: The lavender shortbread and lemon-lavender posset I mentioned last week were a big hit at the potluck. The posset in particular is exquisite; I decided to strain out the lavender rather than leave it in, and the result was gorgeously creamy and smooth. I found the lavender shortbread a teensy bit dry--the dough was dry, but I was hoping it would be all right after baking--so next time I'll use a little less flour. I live in a very dry climate, so the recipe might work fine elsewhere. By the way, the recipe will easily serve eight, rather than the four to six that Hollywood specifies, and I say that as someone who loves rich things and usually scorns tiny portions.

Yesterday after cleaning the kitchen I did my best to dirty it again by making one of my favorites, pasta with a sausage and tomato sauce. The sauce is basically: brown some hot Italian pork sausage links in olive oil, set aside, use the oil to cook an onion chopped fairly small, when the onions are pretty well cooked add some finely chopped garlic and cook just until the garlic is fragrant. Then add a big tin of tomatoes--I usually buy tinned whole tomatoes and cut them up myself--a bay leaf and any other herbs you like, return the sausages to the pan and simmer for about half an hour. Yesterday I gussied it up a little bit by adding two diced peppers, one red and one yellow, to the onion, and adding some wine to the cooked vegetable mixture and cooking it down before adding the tomatoes. I rarely use wine in cooking because I rarely have wine around, but a couple of weeks ago I impulse-bought a bottle of wine, didn't like it enough to drink it all, and so I froze it in ice cube trays. It's a useful trick for all those annoying recipes that call for half a cup of wine.

This morning I made another loaf of beer bread because (a) I really liked the last one, and (b) I still had a couple of bottles of Smithwick's that are probably too old now to drink with pleasure but are perfectly good to cook with. I used this recipe again as a base, but altered it a lot to make cornbread. I used 2 cups of medium stoneground cornmeal from Bob's Red Mill and 1 cup of bread flour, and I added about 4 ounces of grated cheese, roughly 3/4 cup of leftover corn kernels that were cooked with green chiles and a little cream, and about three tablespoons of additional green chiles (roasted and chopped, from a jar). I reduced the salt a little because of the cheese, and as before I stirred about 3 tablespoons of the melted butter into the batter and brushed 1 tablespoon on top before popping the pan in the oven. The resulting cornbread is seriously, seriously good. It's got a beautiful moist texture and a strong corn flavor, with sweetness from the corn kernels and honey and a bit of kick from the chiles.


Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: For the Tuesday potluck I'm going to make a potato-and-spinach curry from Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries--it's a nice easy one with panch phoron and coconut milk, and I'm going to buy some supermarket naan to serve it with. And I've got to buy some gin for g&t's, because I told everyone I had gin and someone else agreed to bring the mixers, and then it turned out I didn't have nearly as much gin left as I thought.


Something I vaguely intend to cook someday: No idea. The weather's supposed to turn hotter again after a blessedly cool weekend (by which I mean, high temps of about 80F/26.6C rather than 95F/35C). I don't want to cook. I want a beautiful man to bring me delicious salads and perfectly ripe fruit, and preferably to fan me while I eat them.
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)
17. A song that you would sing as a duet on karaoke

I don't sing in public. But if I did, I might pick this song, preferably with two accomplices rather than one. (What's the word for a three-person song? Anyway, in the case of this song, "threesome" is probably as good a term as any.)

Mitch Ryder got famous doing blue-eyed soul in the 60s, then nearly tanked his solo career in 1979 when he released How I Spent My Vacation, which is mostly about his sexual and romantic relationships with other men.* He continued to release music but as far as I know it sold very badly. In 1983, he made a "comeback" album, Never Kick A Sleeping Dog, produced by John Mellencamp, which includes this song.

*A lot of Ryder's music is not really my cup of tea. He first appealed to me because of the queer element, which I learned about around the time NKASD was released; astonishingly, within a couple of months I found a vinyl copy of HISMV in a secondhand store in the very small town where my family did its shopping** and listened to it over and over again on the sly. I only loved it for its queerness, but that was enough.*** I do genuinely like much of Never Kick A Sleeping Dog, though, and especially the following.

Mitch Ryder with Marianne Faithfull and John Mellencamp, "A Thrill's A Thrill"





**We didn't live in a town. We lived in the country about 40 miles away and only came to town for shopping and other necessary things.

***A queer element was how I discovered a lot of music as a teenager. The Smiths, for example, and David Bowie (like a lot of queer boys I wanted to be Ziggy Stardust; I just happened to want it a decade too late) and the Jam (via Paul Weller's later project the Style Council and the swirling rumors, all too vehemently denied by Weller, that he and bandmate Mick Talbot were a couple).

Speaking of the Style Council, this ended up getting long and not fun, so it's under a cut )
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
I've fallen a bit in love with this image by Masterji, and wanted to share it.


man reclines handsomely on a coffee table" />
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
It has been hot here. Yesterday it hit 100F/37.7C; right now it's 96F/36C, although because it's cloudy it doesn't feel too awful.

I know it's even hotter in places like Arizona, and it's been nearly as hot in places that are much less prepared for heat (e.g. much of southern Britain), but I wanted to complain anyway, if only because the heat half-melted my brain and I forgot about this meme for a couple of days.


16. One of your favorite classical songs

I'm pretty ignorant of classical music, and to the extent that I have opinions they are odd ones: if it's much more recent than Bach, I probably don't like it. Plus, the question got me into a mental twist about what counts as a song. So I picked something that is definitely a song, if not technically classical since it dates from the 13th century. It's one of the most famous pieces of medieval music, quite catchy, and the first documented English use of the verb "to fart." There's more info here (including a transcription and modern English translation) and here (primarily about the manuscript).

The Hilliard Ensemble, "Sumer Is Icumen In"




Heh. I do like this song, but it feels odd to post it given how little joy I feel about summer right now, and how much I wish it was igonne away.


All the prompts )
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
15. A song that is a cover by another artist

This is another one where I have to link two songs.

First, and predictably if you know my taste, is the Doug Anthony All Stars' cover of "Throw Your Arms Around Me," originally by Hunters and Collectors. I've listened to a lot of versions of this song (OMG stop judging me!) and this really is the best I've heard.





Second, here's Jonathan Coulton's cover of Alanis Morrissette's "You Oughta Know." I've picked this not so much for the musicianship or the singing (it's just a little whim that Coulton released online, and he's audibly embarrassed by some of the more explicit lines) as for the way it totally changes the meaning of the song--making it more interesting, in my view--without changing a word.





All the prompts )
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
Something I've cooked recently: Lots of salads. Earlier in the week I made a bulgur wheat salad with peppers (capsicums), cucumber, tomatoes, green onion, chickpeas, and feta, dressed with olive oil and lemon, which I took to a potluck-and-Buffy-watch with friends. Over the weekend I made a version of this sugar snap pea salad with sesame-miso dressing from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. I changed a few things, because it seems I always do. I didn't have Napa cabbage so I used a couple of small cucumbers, and I didn't cut the vegetables small, partly out of laziness and partly because the dressing was so thick and rich that I thought it might overwhelm finely cut veggies. So I left the peas whole, sliced the cucumbers on the bias into nice ovals, and cut the radishes into fourths. It's a very tasty salad, though if I make it again I'll probably use one green onion instead of the three called for (and I like green onion). The dressing is delicious and I love it with the snap peas; Napa cabbage probably would have been better than the cucumbers.

I also made my favorite potato salad with blue cheese and bacon. I can't remember if I've ever said how this is made, so here goes. Boil some potatoes cut into chunks (red-skinned potatoes are best because they hold their shape, although this week I used a mixture of red-skinned and yellow potatoes). Meanwhile, cut some bacon crosswise into strips and fry until crisp, and make a dressing by combining roughly equal amounts of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt*, mashing in as much strongly flavored blue cheese as you like, adding a tiny sprinkle of garlic powder and a few drops of cider vinegar, and then adding in some finely sliced green onions/spring onions/scallions. Once the potatoes are done, drain them and let them cool in the colander for a few minutes until they're warm but not hot, then combine with the dressing and top with crispy bacon pieces. It is delicious. The bacon isn't essential to the recipe, if you don't care to eat bacon, but oddly enough the green onions are. I've had it without and it just seems stodgy. If you hate green onions, though, you could try substituting something else fresh, bright, and preferably pungent: lots of parsley, or some peppery greens like arugula or watercress, or even some grated radish. (*I use half yogurt purely for taste reasons, because I find all-mayonnaise dressings overwhelming and I like the yogurty tang, but you could certainly use all mayo if you prefer.)

Today the weather was relatively cool, an interval between two hot spells, so this morning on impulse I made a loaf of this beer bread. I used Smithwick's for the beer, used 1 cup whole wheat flour and 2 cups bread flour, and mixed most of the butter into the dough, reserving about a tablespoon to grease the pan and go over the top of the dough. It made a very nice, flavorful bread.

Today I also put together the dough for some lavender shortbread biscuits I'm going to bring to this week's Buffy watch.


Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: For the Buffy watch I'm going to make some hummus with cooked chickpeas I have in the freezer, and a lemon and lavender posset to go with the shortbread, from this recipe by Paul Hollywood. I'm a little worried about the shortbread dough, because it was very crumbly when I made it and I couldn't form it into a cylinder even after adding a few drops of cream. Maybe it'll be better after a day's refrigeration, and if not I'll just pat it into a round and cut it into wedges.

Apart from that, my plan is more salads, and bread and cheese and maybe pasta, because it's going to be stinking hot. Oh, and ice cream. I've been avoiding store-bought sweets, but only within reason, and ice-cream deprivation in this weather is unreasonable. Mm, I want ice cream now.


Something I have vague plans to cook someday: Ugh, too hot. If the monsoon starts (yes, we have a monsoon season here in semi-desert New Mexico) the afternoon rains will cool things off and maybe I'll feel like cooking again.
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)
14. A song that you would love played at your wedding

Love songs aren't usually my thing. This is an exception--spare, slightly wry, and yet achingly emotional.

The Magnetic Fields, "The Book of Love"





All the prompts )
kindkit: Haddock and Tintin kissing; Haddock is in leather gear (Tintin: gay icon)
13. One of your favourite 70s songs

This song was released in 1973, and surprisingly became a hit. You probably are familiar with the fandom phrase "no heterosexual explanation": well, there's no heterosexual explanation for this song.

If I knew how to vid, I would make a Professionals vid to it.

Starbuck, "Do You Like Boys?"





All the prompts )
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
12. A song from your pre-teen years

I'm taking this to mean a song I heard during my pre-teen years, rather than a song that was released then. This one was released when my mom was five years old. I probably first heard it at about the same age--I associate it with a period when my grandmother was running a fishing resort and my mom and stepfather and I lived there. I was intrigued by all the unfamiliar words, and I think I may have been an adult before I learned that jambalaya is a food and not a kind of party.

Hank Williams, "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)"





All the prompts )
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
11. A song you never get tired of

The Jam, "Town Called Malice." This video has adorable baby!Paul Weller. If you can't understand all the words (and the words are really good), there's a lyrics vid here.





All the prompts )
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
10. A song that makes you sad

There are songs that make me sad for random personal reasons, and there's a song that makes me so very sad that I don't want to even post it here (it's the Neko Case song about the tiger, and you listen to it at your own risk). I've picked something that is manageably sad. It's essentially a John Le Carré novel in song form.

The Decemberists, "The Bagman's Gambit"




All the prompts )
kindkit: Two cups of green tea. (Fandomless: Green tea)
1) Something you've cooked recently: This has been the week of the Great Chain of Leftovers. Last Sunday I made a meatloaf, which I ate in sandwiches and so on throughout the week. But on Friday there was still a pretty big hunk of it left and it needed to be used right away. That, plus my strong and unseasonable craving for pasta e fagiole (inspired by a TV commercial, of all things) led to an untraditional, even Frankenstein-ish but tasty hybrid dish.

What I did )

Yesterday, finding myself in possession of a lot of nectarines and raspberries (both were on sale cheap), I made Peach Melba Squares, substituting 4 small nectarines for the peaches. I also used a lot more raspberries than called for, because I found a few moldy ones in the container and thought I'd better use up all the rest immediately. The result was that the cake is . . . let's call it very moist, shall we? I made a couple of other small changes: I let the melted butter brown a bit, because I'd seen a recipe for a brown butter nectarine cake and I thought the nuttiness of the brown butter would enhance the almonds. And I sprinkled a little bit of extra ground almonds over the top because I didn't have flaked almonds. Plus I didn't add the icing sugar at the end, because I found the cake sweet enough already. It is a very tasty cake, if perhaps a bit too buttery for me. The slightly tart fruit keeps it from being too cloying.


Something I have concrete plans to cook in the near future: No concrete plans. I'm going to a friend's house on Tuesday for a potluck-and-Buffy-watch, so I need to think of something to bring. I've got some cooked chickpeas in the freezer so I might do some homemade hummus with pita bread, plus a melon salad. Bringing hummus is lazy, maybe, but I feel like its being homemade should let me off the hook? Plus, it's been hot and everyone will probably want salad-y things. Will think about it some more, anyway.


Something I vaguely intend to cook someday: It's been so hot--yesterday the temp topped out at 91F/32.7C--that I'm losing the urge to cook even summery things. I think the future holds a lot of salads--grain salads and cooked vegetable salads as well as the raw kind--and pasta, with the occasional lazy lapse into hot dogs or boxed macaroni and cheese.


2) I watched all three series of Shetland over the last week and a half. I wouldn't call it great TV, but I liked the characters a lot and the scenery-porn was excellent (though I was sad to find out that a lot of the series is filmed on mainland Scotland rather than on the Shetland islands). The mystery plots were ho-hum, but at least not full of sickening, "shocking" details like some modern mysteries. There was a canonical queer relationship for a recurring character, plus some unexpected slashiness for the male protagonist. And a plot development in S3 that at first seemed gratuitous and fail-y turned out to be handled well and meaningfully.

Apparently there's going to be an S4, and I'm looking forward to it. I've started reading one of the books the series is based on, but so far I like the TV show better.


3) Last night, having finished Shetland and being in the mood for some light relief, I looked for Netflix movies with Alan Rickman and found The Gambit, a caper comedy with Alan Rickman and Colin Firth and Tom Courtenay, written and directed by the Coen Brothers. Got to be a great movie, right? Alas, it was so terrible that after about 20 minutes I gave up. The jokes were dumb, hackneyed, and often imbued with stereotypes (repressed Brits, freewheeling American) and the actors looked painfully aware that they were in a bad movie. I looked up some reviews and found a tendency to blame the awfulness on Cameron Diaz, playing the above-mentioned freewheeling American, but she was no worse than anything else in the movie (though unlike the other actors, she didn't seem embarrassed so it was impossible to feel sorry for her).
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)
9. A song that makes you happy

This is a live version, because I can't find the album version on YouTube.

(A further source of happiness, or at least amusement, may come from the way the singer's accent changes from American when he's speaking to sort-of-English when he sings. I say this with great love for Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, and with the ruefulness of one Anglophile recognizing another.)


Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, "I Never Thought I Could Feel This Way For a Boy"





All the prompts )
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Airship)
8. A song about drugs or alcohol

Today you get two, because the first song I thought of presents alcohol in a negative (though funny) light, and I wanted a happier one as well. The fact that these are both Irish songs is, well, insert your own joke here, but it's also because for several years of my life I listened almost exclusively to Irish folk and traditional music.


Altan, "Donal Agus Morag"

This song is the happy one. It's about the wedding of Donal and Morag; the first verse is about all the people who were there, the next two detail the food, and the last verse mentions all the alcohol. There's an Irish transcription and English translation here.





Christy Moore, "Delirium Tremens"

This one's about alcohol's potential bad effects. It's also hilarious, though much of the humor comes from highly specific references to Irish politics and history. Wikipedia may be your friend here. I can tell you that Harpic is not an alcohol, but a brand of toilet bowl cleaner.

ETA: The Guinness ad Moore refers to may be this one here. It is magnificently awful.




All the prompts )
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)
7. A song to drive to

What better than a song about a journey? Or about several journeys, I think, only one of them physical.

This is a live version, because, annoyingly, the album version is blocked on YouTube for copyright reasons.

Paul Simon with Vincent Guinea* and John Selowawane*, "Graceland"

(*Name spellings are my best guess based on how Simon pronounced them)





All the prompts )
kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)
6. A song that makes you want to dance

I am not, on the whole, a dancing person. "But it's just moving to the music," people say, but that's the problem. What if the way I move to the music looks stupid? I do not want to have to show spontaneous grace and creativity when other people might be watching me. (Plus, on my very few visits to clubs where people dance, the music was always too loud, the lights too weird, the crowd too crowded.)

However, back when my knees were younger, I did enjoy ceili dancing. The great thing about ceili dancing is that it's not spontaneous. There are steps! You don't have to be creative. You don't, at least at the ceilis I went to, have to be particularly graceful, either.

So here's some Irish traditional music, the sort of thing you might hear at a ceili. And if Martin Hayes, one of the finest fiddlers of his generation, plays at your ceili, you're privileged indeed.


Martin Hayes, "The Morning Star/The Caoilte Mountains"




Your toes were tapping, weren't they?


All the prompts )

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