Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Best. Omelet. Yet.

Last Sunday I prepared an omelet for my husband that was so delicious the first thing he told me after taking a bite was: "I'd pay for this. I would pay money for this omelet." 

Now, I've been making omelets for my husband for a while now, and I haven't before received that level of praise for one. I'm going to bet here that a good part of it is that I catered to his tastes by using mushrooms. Although, I have cooked mushroom omelets before and not gotten that compliment - even with morels that we gathered ourselves!

This omelet may also have benefited from a change of eggs. We recently started buying local "backyard" eggs. They vary quite a bit in size, but seem more vibrant in color and flavor. I don't love them very much for my boiled eggs, because they don't peel very well, but in omelets, they do very well. 

In fact, the omelet I made had almost all the ingredients coming from the same place - Old Fashioned Fruit and Veg on Broadway. The eggs came from there, as well as the smoked mozzarella-style cheese, and, the star ingredient, marinated mushrooms. It was just the butter that did not come from there. 

And the omelet pan, of course. 

My idea was to make a mushroom pizza omelet, and I started by dicing up some marinated mushrooms - reserving a few slices for the garnish. I also shredded some of the cheese, because my style of omelet cooking requires everything is prepped beforehand. Ambrose suggested I let the mushrooms sit on paper towels so that they wouldn't be soggy and ruin the omelet. 

Mushrooms getting dry and cheese, ready to go.

I prep the eggs by giving them a whirl in the Ninja blender with a dash of salt and potassium salt. The omelet pan gets a pat of butter and medium heat until it melts. Then, and I only discovered this recently, when I'm ready to start cooking, raise the temp to high and wait about 20 seconds - then add the eggs. Allowing the pan more time to heat really impacts how much egg ends up sticking in the pan after. 

Once the eggs are cooked, time for the filling! 

Filling? Perhaps, in this case, I mean toppings. 

I cover the omelet pan with a pot top to allow the residual heat from the turned off burner to melt the cheese. 
Nice and melty!

Then it's time to roll the omelet up and slide it out of the pan and onto the plate. This one rolled really nicely. Then some more cheese, the garnish mushroom slices, and a hit with the torch to melt the cheese just right. 

The cheese looks like it should be on a pizza! 

So I've set a new bar for omelets. 

Challenge accepted!


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Progress!

One of my writing related goals this year is to enter a story into each quarter of Writer's of the Future. They count their year differently, so technically, I got a story entered in the 2nd quarter just under the March 31st deadline. I did something new with this story. I had written something several years ago for a class. The class demanded no speculative fiction, so it's pretty plain for WotF. But the idea was ripe for a supernatural slant. 

So I got my copy of that story, and I started typing it out into a new document, stopping and changing things when they didn't fit in the new narrative. Fleshing out certain aspects and adding different details. When I got to a stopping point and wasn't sure what to write next, I just looked at my old story and figured out my next line. 

Will it work? I have no idea. It was a fun exercise though. It helped me to kind of feel out the new story using the framework of the old one to get a different experience. It's something I might do again, with stories from that class. 

In fact, it might be an interesting exercise to try and write different genre versions of the same story. That wouldn't necessarily create anything to publish, but could be a lot of fun. 

But the next goal I want to focus on is to make updates to my guidebooks. I intended for those to be updated yearly, but the time has gotten away from me and I really ought to make a few updates on each of them. And more updates after the season, because I know at least one trail in my books got maintenance in September, along the Little Queens River - and it should be getting some more this summer. 

Oh, and I still need to update all the editions of my books with the new About the Author page and the new Other Works page. But at least I did get all of my Hike with Me: Idaho Centennial Trail Frank Church Part 2 copies sent out to a select list of friends and family, signed. Late for Christmas, but just in time for the weather to start being good for hiking - as long as one isn't too high up in the mountains.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Omelet Practice

I made an accidental cooking discovery on Sunday. I've been cooking omelets with a nice, fancy omelet pan for a while now. I've got it down to a science, pretty much. Butter into pan, rub against the sides, heat pan on medium to melt butter, then raise temp and pour in beaten eggs. 

That's how it usually goes, and I usually get a fair amount of egg sticking to the pan. Not so much that I can't do my omelet; just enough that it makes cleaning the pan between omelets a pain. This time, I got distracted between when I turned the heat up and when I poured the eggs in. Therefore the pan was hotter than usual when I poured the eggs in. 

Turns out, that's a good thing. There was almost no egg stuck to the pan when I rolled that bad boy out. 

Bacon, pepper cheddar cheese, and guacamole omelet for my husband. 

Just to be sure, I did my omelet the same old way, and, sure enough, the egg stuck to the pan like usual. Next time, I'm going to do the higher heat trick with both and see if I can get to the nearly non-stick perfection on purpose. 


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Waste Not, Want Shot

While the place where I work does involve a good deal of interaction with people, or it can, it is not considered essential enough to be in the early roll out groups for the Covid-19 vaccine in my state. However, there is a vaccination clinic on site at my work, and because I do physically come into work 3 days out of 5 each week, I got onto a wait list. 

I thought the wait list would just mean that when my eligibility group came up, whenever that may be, that I'd be in line for an appointment on site. Nope. Turns out the wait list I was on was one of those where if they have extra does that need to be used within a certain time frame, they'd call me and ask if I'd like one. 

It was funny, because I actually missed the first call and called back. They told me that since I hadn't answered the phone, they would have continued down the list and I had missed my chance. But I told my husband about it, and he said, well, whenever they call, you just go. 

They called back right after he said that. Someone else didn't pick up, and since I'd already indicated I was near my phone by calling back, I was offered a chance to get the vaccine. 

And I took that opportunity. 

I'll take it as the universe co-signing my decision that as I drove to the appointment, the radio played The Offspring's "Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)", which features, in the chorus, the line "Give it to me, baby." 

There's a part of me that wants to feel bad that I might be taking a vaccine out of the arm of someone more deserving vis-à-vis eligibility groups, but I don't think that part of me has really thought things through. If this dose didn't make its way into my arm, then either someone else whose group isn't up yet would get it, or, much worse, NO ONE would get it. Far better to get it into a ready and willing arm than to throw it away. 

I've got a second appointment set four weeks from the first, and I'm really stoked that I was able to get it. My husband's age will put him in an eligible group as of Monday, so we're getting close to having a vaccinated household. Well, closer than we were, at least. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Just Relaxative

I feel shame at the idea of taking laxatives. Laxatives are "gross" and "yucky" and taken by bulimics and I'm not that. I'm not gross or yucky and I certainly don't have an eating disorder, as my gastro was happy to write in my chart that I'm overweight and therefore can't be sick. 

Ahem. That's why I resisted taking them for so long. Along with a convenient belief that taking laxatives regularly can make you dependent on them. That, apparently, is NOT a thing. At least, not for folks already diagnosed with IBS. After all, my bowels are already "lazy". If I'm already constipated all the time, I don't see how laxatives could break me more. 

Which leaves me with only the flimsy "gross" excuse. But what is worse? Feeling like I'm gross for taking laxatives or being in constant pain from constipation? 

Turns out, being in constant constipation pain is worse than taking laxatives regularly to prevent such pains. Shocking!

I'm still trying to figure out exactly what dosage will help me stay comfortable and flowing. One per day of a softener helped, but I felt like I could use more help. So, I tried two a day, spaced out. One in the morning and one before bed. 

But I'm not liking how that's working. Or rather, it doesn't appear to be working the way I was hoping. So I'll be changing things up to try two doses at night, together, and see if that makes me feel better. 

I'm trying to avoid the stimulant laxatives on a regular basis, because they can work almost too well. I actually took one of those when I first started this experiment and I ended up waking up in the middle of the night with an urgent need to visit the bathroom, and stay there, for several hours. I'd rather keep things less stimulated than that. 

If the softeners don't work sufficiently, maybe I'll try the stimulant route, but I'm not there yet. The main thing is that I'm now working on trying to get my bowels to be happy bowels instead of bloated, constipated bowels. 

The other aspect I'm working on with my IBS is diet. For a long time, I tried various diets, from low-fodmap to low fiber, and lately, I've been trying to limit my food to simple foods that I can read all the ingredients for. I'm not saying that I'll avoid ingredients that I can't pronounce or are more than a set number of syllables. No, I'm trying to avoid foods that don't list their ingredients explicitly, on the theory that those unnamed additives could be contributing to my issues, and how can I know what affects me if I don't know what is in what I eat? 

Therefore, if an ingredient list includes such phrases as "natural flavors" or "artificial flavors", I'm either avoiding it or making it a very rare part of my diet. Since there's no way for me to know what those ingredients are, or if they change, it just makes sense to me that I should avoid them while I'm trying to reach an equilibrium with my IBS. A state where I can, with some vigilance, mostly forget that I have it. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Book Published!

That took longer than I would have preferred. But I did finally push the publish button on the large print edition of the 10th (10th!) Hike with Me book. There are still a few more tasks to be completed on this. Three more editions to produce and publish, but no more proofreading to be done. 

In years past, I would be very careful not to make too many changes when I proofread. Once the pictures are placed, it can be a pain to add or remove even a single word, because every full page picture after that change will have to be shifted. I was being lazy, frankly, by not allowing myself to look at the final read through with a more critical eye. 

This time, I read my work and thought about clarity and meaning. I cut quite a few words that felt extraneous. I rephrased a few things when I read them again and realized that while I knew what I was saying, it really wasn't clearly spelled out for anyone else to know exactly what I was saying. Some of those spots, Ambrose pointed out, but not all of them. 

I tried to approach this read through with a bit of detachment. Detachment, but also affection. As if I were reading something that a friend had written, and I was helping them prepare it for publication. Because I would be much nicer to a friend than I would be to myself. Isn't that silly? But it worked. I feel very good about this book. 

It was a short trip, and so it's a short book. But not my shortest. I hope you check it out: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08XNVDG8P/


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Book Progress

I finished the proofread of the book. I am so, so glad that I ordered a physical proof copy this year. There were a number of typos, and I'm not 100% sure that I would have found all of them reviewing a pdf. Ambrose did his read through before I did. He missed a couple of errors so egregious that I had to point them out to tease him, but he caught a lot too. 

Next step is getting the updates into the document. Then I've got some picture captions to update (some for clarity, some for typos). Once those are ready, I'll update the pictures in the document, and then I'll have to adjust the text. You see, I've got some updates that add or cut significant chunks, and that will disturb the precise placement required of each photo plate. I will need to drag them around within the text to make sure I don't have any extra white space in the final product. 

Once that process is complete, I'll get to find out if I also need to edit the cover. The cover has precise measurement requirements based on the number of pages, so if my page count changes significantly, I would have to edit the cover to accommodate the new dimensions. It's a bit of a pain. 

I hope to have this book published by the end of the month, at least in the large print. In the past, I've rushed things and created the large print, standard print, and kindle editions in parallel. This year, I decided to work only on the large print until all the editing was complete,. I've always thought of that after being committed to managing the three copies individually, and I'm glad I remembered to try it this year. The process should be fairly quick to generate the standard print and kindle editions from the Word documents, and not too painful to generate the covers for those. But it might take me a little longer nonetheless. 

And I know the Smashwords edition will take a bit longer than that, because I always need to remind myself of exactly what the process is that I need to use for these books. Smashwords has an excellent automatic conversion system, but it doesn't work on source documents over a certain size, and my Hike with Me books, with their large quantity of pictures, are generally well over the size limit. I have to upload my own conversion for these. It works well enough for Barnes and Noble's website. 

And once this book is complete, I'm going to work on some updates to my trail guides. I've got a few to make, and I might have more next year. I need to set up a routine for myself to make those updates on a yearly basis - at least, on years when I visit those trails.