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March 30, 2015

Otherwise, in my life

I watch DVDs

Still obsessively rewatching my Sherlock DVDs. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a show this much.

Since every episode is 90 minutes, every episode is like a feature movie. There's more depth, texture, and nuance in every episode than in most full seasons of US television.

I long for a return to the days when television wasn't restricted to a "five minutes, then mini-climactic scene to lead into commercial break, ten minutes, then second mini-climactic scene to lead into second commercial break, etc." format.

I've also been watching DVDs of Hot In Cleveland, which is a sort of updated Golden Girls. Not deeply intellectual, but enjoyable. Especially if you're female and a bit older. :)

I read books

Did I mention reading the Tamir Trilogy? (It starts with The Bone Doll's Twin.) Amazingly good.

It's a prequel trilogy to the author's original Nightrunner series. The original series is excellent with a long and involved mythology that I really enjoyed. I was doubtful about a historical "prequel" and then pleasantly surprised to realize that I it as much or more than I enjoyed the originals.

In terms of reading, I also just finished the series The Royal Wizard of Yurt (which starts with A Bad Spell in Yurt). Silly, lightweight fantasy. Amusing.

I've tried Christopher Nuttall's stuff before and never really enjoyed it, but then I stumbled across Bookworm and found myself drawn in. Without being particularly deep or richly detailed, it's still an interesting series. (I'm on the third book now.)

I don't know. I've read a lot of stuff since I last talked about what I'm reading. I always read a lot of stuff, okay? It's hard to keep track of what I've enjoyed and might want to recommend.

In the fantasy-mythology crossover arena, things I don't think I've recommended yet include:

I Bring the Fire - C. Gockel (Loki)
Mercury Series - Robert Kroese (Mercury)

The Mercury series is lighter and sillier than the Loki series, but they both have charm.

I just finished the first book in the Eno the Thracian series. I can't decide about reading any more. I enjoyed the first book (it's currently available for n/c for the Kindle) but the story was fairly slight. I can't quite decide if I liked it well enough to pay for additional books. I think I might--but my instinct is always to finish stories, you know? Still--I liked the protagonist. I may read more.

And, finally, just because I can't remember if I ever recommended it before, I do highly recommend The Emperor's Edge series.

The trilogy of the first three volumes is most cost-effective, but for those of us who like to "sample" before we buy, the first volume of the series is also available for free for the Kindle at the moment.

I play games

I also play games, yes. Still working on Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley even though I got two other games for Christmas. New games of the kind that I enjoy don't come out often--I'm learning to savor having a new one waiting.

Waiting in the wings, I have Fantasy Life. I've glanced at the opening scenes and I do think I'm going to enjoy this one, when I get time to play it.

I cook

Slow-cooker fun!

Cut up chicken breasts into 2" cubes. I used about a pound.
(If desired, spray the inside of your cooker with non-stick cooking spray. I didn't bother and it wasn't a problem although the flavor might have been even better with the oil browning the chicken a little. Although I dislike having to brown meat before putting it in the slow cooker, there's no denying that doing so does make a big flavor difference.)
Put in chicken cubes.
Mix honey mustard salad dressing (I used Ken's Lite) with water, 3-to-1, and pour over chicken to--barely--cover the meat.
Cook on high for 2-3 hours (for 1 lb of chicken) or 3-4 (for 2-3 lbs of chicken--can also cook on low for 6-7 hours).

Simple and amazingly tasty. I wish I could find a low-cal substitute for honey mustard salad dressing which, even in the "light" version, comes in at 80 calories a tablespoon, but I console myself with the thought that a single serving of this dish doesn't involve more than 3-4 tablespoons of salad dressing and it's not like I'm going to be eating it every day.

I could, of course, pour off the "sauce" and eat just the chicken--but I lack the willpower. I have a serious love of honey mustard salad dressing for many uses--none of which include using it on a salad.

I still haven't found what I'd consider a successful spaghetti sauce recipe for the slow cooker. The ones I've been trying are still coming in kind of watery and without a lot of flavor. I can cure the "watery" by adding an additional half hour or hour of cooking on high heat with the lid off, but that won't cure the flavor problem. I may be adding the herbs too soon (their flavor breaks down with long cooking) or I may not be adding enough. I can't decide.

My next experiment was going to be a teriyaki-pineapple pork chop thing but the recipe I was reading doesn't have a calorie count on it and I'm a little bit afraid of it.

posted by AnneZook on 03.30.15 at 11:31 AM


I have the same trouble with culinary adventures: a lot of the flavors that seem attractive are actually based on heavy to excessive sugar, layers of fats, etc.

Which may be why my experiments lately have been in the spicier direction. Which reminds me: time to figure out what I'm doing with the chicken...

posted by: Jonathan Dresner on 03.30.15 at 03:34 PM [permalink]

I love cooking with chicken--it's so easy!

Marinate it in italian dressing and then broil it.


Cook some rice in chicken stock with a small pinch of saffron. Meanwhile, mix some low-fat yogurt, salt & pepper, a pinch of saffron, and some garlic in a bowl. Toss with the chicken and let stand for 15 minutes (room temperature), then broil.

Aside from those (imperfect) memories of my favorite chicken recipes, I agree that I'm thinking more about spices these days. It's quite possible to add a lot of flavor without adding a lot of unwanted fats or sugars. It just takes me a lot of experimenting, since I'm not really that experienced with cooking. :)

I'm experimenting with balsamic vinegar at the moment, using it to roast vegetables. I've had some luck here and there....

Aside from that, for vegetables, I'm currently addicted to Penzey's Sunny Paris blend. It's also salt-free--but you'd never know it, by the taste. I shake it over baked potatoes or almost any kind of steamed vegetables.

posted by: Anne on 03.31.15 at 09:52 AM [permalink]

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