Peeves and crotchets

I’ve been having a crabby week in which I have felt excessively annoyed by the small stuff that is part and parcel of life. Some days it just seems as though there is one pebble too many in my path.

There have been no dragons in my life, only small spiders and stepping in gum. I could have coped with dragons.

I’m still recovering from my cold, with the last, lingering symptom being an unpredictable but relentless hacking cough. I’ve been clearing phlegm from my lungs for days and still it won’t quit.

When my cold was in full swing, I had to stop using my CPAP for a couple of weeks, and have just gotten back to it again this week. The good news with that (finally, there is some!) is that I’ve perfected the fitting of the mask on my face so that it is comfortable, doesn’t leak and doesn’t irritate my skin. A huge victory!

But the bad news is that even with a chin strap cinched so tightly that it feels as if my face is folded in half, my mouth invariably falls open when I’m deeply asleep.The pressure of the air flowing into my nose through the mask sucks all the air out of my lungs as soon as this happens, and the result is an instantly dry mouth followed by a choking fit that usually results in a quick trip to the bathroom for fear of throwing up. This happens nearly every night that I wear the mask. If I don’t wear the mask and am not careful to sleep on my side (or sometimes even when I do), sooner or later my throat relaxes completely and the sides of my trachea touch—something nature never intended to happen, for very good reason—and again I’m running to the bathroom choking my guts out. My definition of a good night’s sleep anymore is one in which I don’t have to get out of bed, period.

My being a bit sleep deprived and still a little sick, plus the recent rapid cooling of the weather, has me starch-craving mad in the worst possible way. I’m trying so hard to stick to my diet (and doing well; I’m down 15 pounds now), but all I want to eat this week is COOKIES and PASTA and POTATOES and CINNAMON TOAST and stuff like that there. So I prowl relentlessly through Pinterest drooling over all the recipes and refuse to allow any of that stuff into my house because I know how I get.


Ah, but it’s all temporary, minor stuff. This, too, shall pass. I just need a nap and a cookie and maybe some codeine and I’ll be fine.


Fry together for gold

I haven’t been doing much cooking lately because, you know, the dieting thing.


So I satisfy (to some extent) my food cravings by looking at recipes on Pinterest. Today I found this lovely pic of “Cream of potato soup served with fried mushrooms in butter” on the Neatorama page.

Cream of potato soup served with fried mushrooms in butter

Doesn’t that look yummy? I promptly clicked through to the original link, which is to a page written in Polish. I asked the browser to translate it (you can try this yourself) and it produced a passable translation that I might actually be able to follow. I don’t have the faintest gloss of Polish vocabulary or syntax, but I find some of the phrases in English quite charming:

  • They [frozen mushrooms] are ideal for frying. Just then a little butter and the smell of the forest rises from the pan.
  • Fry together for gold.
  • You can add cream if you like, we decide.

I am stumped, however, by the ingredient duże pory. Every translation resource I’ve tried says it means “large pores,” and that sounds not only inedible but also gross. Anyone out there know what it actually means in the context of a soup recipe? I sent an email to the blog author and maybe I will get an answer back at some point. If I do, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, I might just have to make this soup tonight and improvise a little.

Update, August 12, 2013: Mystery solved! The blog author says the mystery ingredient is leeks.

Kitchen experiments

I had grand plans for tonight’s dinner: sautéed chicken cutlets, cous-cous with Parmesan, and a lovely spinach salad.

I ended up having a nice chicken cutlet sandwich, but at least I learned a few things along the way that I will apply to future meals.

The first is how to properly prepare chicken cutlets for sautéing. I always used to just dredge them in beaten egg, then in panko or bread crumbs. Today I learned from one of the food blogs I follow that the correct way to do it is to pound the cutlets thin, dredge them first in flour, then in egg, then in crumbs.

Lovely, aren't they? Photo from

Lovely, aren’t they? Photo from

My cutlets came out beautifully tender, so I highly recommend this method. However, be warned: bread crumbs are as bland as sawdust, maybe blander. Season them first accordingly and don’t be shy about it. You might even want to consider marinating the cutlets beforehand. Unless, of course, you’re a fan of very gently seasoned food, in which case these fill the bill nicely.

The second thing I learned is that cous-cous purchased in bulk does not keep in the cupboard for more than perhaps a few months. Just so you know, a year and a half is way too long. It was stale and crunchy and inedible, hence the sandwich so that my meal would be a little bit balanced with the starch.

I got distracted by the failure of my cous-cous and decided to forego the spinach salad tonight, but I am having company tomorrow night so I’ll make it then. In addition to a righteous boatload of fresh spinach, you will need grape tomatoes sliced in half, some thinly sliced red onion, and a wee handful of crumbled feta cheese. Dress it with a nice balsamic vinaigrette and eat all you want with no guilt because hey, these healthy leafy greens have never tasted so good.

Tomorrow I am also making Hasselback Potatoes for the first time, and I hope they are just as easy and delicious as they look!

Yummy! Photo from Kayotic Kitchen,

Yummy! Photo from Kayotic Kitchen.

The main course, if I can find fresh Dover sole, will be Sole in Papillote with Tomatoes and Olives. If sole is not available, perhaps flounder will work.

Another lovely dish. Photo from La Kocinera,

Another lovely dish. Photo from La Kocinera.

These and other recipes, by the way, can be found in my Pinterest Recipes board.

Feeling disconnected

I read in the career advice columns that one must maintain an active social media presence in order to be considered legit these days; in fact, if you don’t have a profile on every site with multiple pictures of yourself, people are likely to suspect that you aren’t actually a real person (see: Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax). I’m a real person and I make a real effort to actively participate in all the several social media forums of which I am a member. But lately I feel as if I have become essentially invisible across the board, and it’s distressing me.

I’ve been on Facebook for coming up on two years, and I still have only 36 friends (if I could friend every person I’d like to, I’d still probably have fewer than 100, but most of the others are people who I wish were on FB but are not). Two of those friends are my own dogs. Of the rest, only about 8 ever comment on or like anything I post. Comments on my posts are rare, and tend to be back-and-forth between me and one other person when they happen at all. I have friends who can post something as profound and thrilling as “meh, it’s Tuesday” and get 20 comments from a dozen different people inside of an hour. I am on FB every day and I am a copious commenter and liker. My posts–from WordPress as well as status updates, shares and other links–go up day after day with no response other than an occasional like here and there. Half of my FB friends have little or no interaction with me on or off FB. Another 30% will respond to me if I comment on their posts, but we have no other interaction unless I initiate it.

I’ve been on LinkedIn for so long I can’t remember when I joined. I’ve received less than a handful of invitations to join other people’s networks; every other connection I have, I initiated. Nobody contacts me through that site. The few times I’ve tried to tap my network for small favors such as in introduction to a mutual link, I’ve gotten promptly shut down. I called one guy in my network, a web designer, before my website launched and offered to pay him $50 to sit down with me for 30 minutes to review my site and give me his professional opinion of it. He accepted my price with alacrity, but then declined to meet with me and asked me to email him what I had so that he could “get around to it” whenever he could find the time over the next week or two. We did not end up doing business together because he made it so clear that he didn’t have the time and/or didn’t want to.

I’ve been on Pinterest for several months, and I follow everyone whom I know either in real life or from FB. Not one person I know has ever liked, repinned or commented on anything I’ve pinned. The few interactions I’ve had on the site have been with strangers, and those have been all repins. If that’s a “social” media site, you sure couldn’t tell it by me.

I have a business page on FB for my photography business, and I’ve asked my FB friends and my blog readers to “Like” it because until it reaches 30 likes, FB doesn’t recognize Shaw Pro Photo as a legitimate employer or let me customize the company page (which is different from the business page). After four months, only 20 people have liked the business page.

This blog has 168 followers, which is actually a fine number for being online less than a year, and I am pleased and flattered that so many people are interested in reading what I have to say. But my spam comment count exceeds my legitimate comment count, and my daily viewership is routinely in the single digits. I do have a couple of regular commenters, whom I dearly appreciate, but I wonder where the rest of you are and if you’re even still reading this.

The numbers do not lie. I am a member of multiple social networks that are neither social nor networked, at least not for me. I’m starting to feel as if, except for those 8 FB friends and two WP bloggers who do respond to what I post and whom I appreciate deeply, I am wasting my time trying to maintain social connections with people who just can’t be bothered to reciprocate. Where is everybody? Why do people join social networks and then just disappear?

I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad and I’m not looking for sympathy or pity. I’m looking for interaction, for connection and for a sense of community among my peers. I want more social in my networks. As my sister likes to remind me, “if you don’t ask, you don’t get.” So here I am, asking, even though, frankly, I am afraid that this could blow up in my face because you might think I’m a crybaby/whiner/attention whore/drama queen for even bringing this up. What I think I am is somebody who tries really hard every day to reach out and stay connected to other people and who would really, really like it if those people reached back to me a little more often. As I’ve said before, I favor dialogue in all instances.

There. Now I’ve said it.

Responses? Anyone?

Related: Still not connecting.

And now that I’ve written about it twice, I will retire this blog topic.