Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Work, coming home, and macadamia madness

29 August 2012

I'll be starting a new job tomorrow, thanks to AppleOne employment agency. It's a long term temporary position with a large international company that manufactures specialized medical equipment. The project is expected to last until around December. My lunch is already packed for tomorrow!

Starting work feels really good. Coming back from another country, there is an initial period of downtime in which I don't have a useful purpose or role, which prolongs the culture shock feeling of "not belonging". Now I can settle down and have a routine - not to mention paychecks!

Tonight for dinner I made a pork roast crusted with macadamia nuts. It turned out very well, although it took a LOT longer to cook than the recipe indicated. My own fault, as I used a different cut of pork than the recipe called for.

The macadamia nuts are from our tree in the backyard, and I can tell you from experience that they are not expensive because they are hard to grow; they are expensive because they are hard to open! The shell is extremely hard, almost perfectly round, and so waxy that if you hit it wrong it shoots away like a bullet across the room.

I recently bought this heavy duty nut cracker that works like a charm, and now rather than sitting uncracked in buckets in the garage, we can EAT the macadamia nuts!

Last week I made White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies, they were perfect, just the way I remember them from the Mrs. Fields cookie shop in the mall. Yummmmmmmmm!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What's for lunch? Caprese Salad

26 August 2012

We have a bunch of heirloom tomatoes ripe and in need of use, so I went out and got some mozzarella and basil for salads. These tomatoes (not sure what they are) are tangy and sweet, one of the best varieties I have had.

Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best.

vine ripened tomatoes, thickly sliced or cut in chunks
fresh mozzarella, cut in similar shape/size to match tomatoes
fresh basil leaves
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

I drizzled the oil and vinegar on top and sprinkled the salt and freshly ground white pepper over it. After taking the photo I tossed it all together to distribute the dressing more evenly (because that's how I am).

The basil leaves are prettier whole, but I tore them up because I want a piece in EVERY BITE.

Summer is delicious.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Carreteiro Americana

23 August 2012

Yesterday the song playing in the supermarket while I was shopping was "Fireflies" by Owl City. This is a song I used in many of my classes in Brazil, and my eyes filled with tears as a sudden wave of emotion rolled over me. Whoosh.

I miss Brazil, and particularly my friends there, so much it hurts, so I push the feeling away. This is the part of reverse culture shock that I haven't learned how to handle, after several countries. I'm still working on it...

Anyway, this evening I made some Brazilian comfort food, Arroz de Carreteiro (Wagon Driver's Rice). Basically it's the Brazilian version of shepherd's pie - whatever you have lying around, cooked with rice.

Now if only I could be eating it in Brazil...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cat under a box, and other stuff

15 August 2012

Why spend good money on cat toys? Empty box in the hallway = perfect toy.
Actually, this wand thing with a long dangly bit of fleece has been the favorite toy of every cat I've owned, so it is an exception to the rule and worth the cost. Some cats seem to like the wrong end of the toy, but they all love it.
Hilarious video of large cat squeezing through small opening under box.

Snoozing in the shade on a hot day, ahhhhh.
 He spends most of his time outdoors having a wonderful time chasing things, but occasionally he comes in the house for a cuddle.

More cacti in bloom. This one is the same type of cactus as the one that bloomed like crazy a few weeks ago, but the blossoms are no less beautiful when there are only two of them.
 The leaves behind belong to the neighbor's tree, as this is up against the fence.
 This one is a night blooming Cereus - a very scrawny and unremarkable looking cactus, until it blooms. The bloom withers when the sun hits it, so it is very ephemeral.

  I forgot to take a photo with something in it to reference the size. The blossom is wider than I can stretch my fingertips, and I have fairly large hands.

Here is today's dinner - delicious but not pretty. This is quite possibly the worst food photo ever. I guess I won't make Iron Chef anytime soon.

The above picture shows Pork with Rhubarb Sauce, which turned out quite well - the rhubarb sauce is very tart-sweet, so the overall effect is similar to serving turkey with cranberry sauce. The tangy sauce contrasts with the flavor and texture of the meat. The rhubarb is from the garden, and I wanted to try a non dessert recipe with it.