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A Chicago weekend of no pictures

We came down to Chicago on Friday. I’d picked this weekend because it was the first one when I thought I could stay over till Monday since the library conference/Super Bowl/blizzard weekend.

We walked over Publican straight from the train and it was kind of a miracle. One minute we were standing there with all our luggage and the next minute our bags were checked and we were seated waiting to order.

We got frites and what they called barbecued carrots – I’d call them chile-rubbed – and ribs, and a plate of bread. I think I’ll have to recreate the carrots – they were really good. And the ribs came with a slaw with peanuts – also really good. Mark decided the ceiling lights were kind of garish – but I like them.

On Saturday, we got up and tried to get Grateful Dead tickets – for two hours – nothing doing. We went grocery shopping at the Mariano’s on S. Clark, and bought food for breakfast, then went for a walk and had coffee at the Intelligensia in the Monadnock building – where Jacobs Bros. Brothers bagels used to be. And I guess a one brother version of Jacobs Bros. Bagels is back, up on North Ave. as Brobagel. I’ll have to check them out my next trip.

We met John & Megan at a Pho place up on Argyle St. The Pho was amazingly good. I had beef. Then we went to see the Punch Brothers at the Riviera – which is a dump, but historic, designed by Rapp & Rapp. I’m  not sure if I’ve been there before – I know I’ve been to the Uptown – even saw the Grateful Dead there – and the Aragon Ballroom, which are both spitting distance from the Riviera, and the Vic, another crumbling movie palace converted to a rock club, a little south of the others.

On Sunday we were supposed to have brunch with Al, but he didn’t feel up to it, so we walked to Lou Mitchell’s. I’d been wanting to take Mark there – I never ate there when I lived in Chicago, but had been there one time on my own, when I’d come back as a tourist. I had poached eggs on rye toast. The potatoes were just right – cooked through and some really brown parts but not mushy. Served with real Heinz ketchup – at room temperature from the bottle on the counter. The best. Our old lady waitress was a bit confused, but got the job done. There must’ve been a midday Bulls game; there were a lot people grabbing breakfast before.

We walked up to Mark’s favorite Starbucks at the Intercontinental, then walked back to the South  Loop stopping for a paper. I graded student assignments until almost 5:00, then made chocolate chip bars to eat with Downton Abbey season finale.

Monday morning Mark went to work, and I packed. Can’t figure out why I needed three bags to get down to Chicago, and only two to get back, after only leaving a few things – although I am sure the extra pair of shoes was key.

Stuff I'm taking, laid out on the bed

Stuff I’m taking, laid out on the bed

Stuff I'm taking, on the dining table

Stuff I’m taking, on the dining table

Stuff I'm leaving here, in walk-in closet

Stuff I’m leaving here, in walk-in closet

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Sunny snowy day in Madison

Walking on Bascom Hill. The Bucky snowman has lost his head – but I didn’t take a picture.

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Out on a Monday, oh my

Last night Robyn Hitchcock played the High Noon Saloon here in Madison. Which meant I was out on a Monday night. A frigid Monday night. But it was all pretty civilized – we had a table up close, and Robyn ad his sidekick Emma both said the place was far too clean and smoke free to really be called a saloon.

Here’s the set list.

Tuesday I was in no hurry to get to work. My first meeting of the day was not until 10:00, and I had an online class meeting at 8:00 PM, so I thought I should be leisurely. Plus I’d been out on a Monday night – until 10:30, a seeming late hour for us old folks and Midwesterners.

Walking home I was struck how dirty and old and frozen the snow is getting.


Good thing the 60% chance of total daytime accumulation of less than 1/2 an inch on Wednesday turned into to more like an inch and a half.

I raided the vegetable bin, and came up with an onion, a few stalks of celery, a carrot, and about 1/4 a bunch of parsley, and turned it all into a pilaf, with rice, a few handfuls of whole wheat pasta, and the last hunks of Saturday pot roast. I had cooked the pot roast in pureed roasted red peppers and veggie broth with a few whole cloves of garlic tossed in. I carefully strained this juice through a slotted spoon to get the fat and whole garlics out, but not lose too much of the puree, and used it as the liquid in the pilaf. Put it in the oven to cook while I went out and shoveled. The snow had been walked on by too many people, so shoveling the sidewalk wasn’t much fun, the snow wasn’t coming off, but Megan got back in time to help with driveway and it went quick after that. Got back inside and the rice still needed 10 more minutes or so to cook.



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It’s been a long, cold, week

Culminating in my mother’s and Eustace Tilley’s 90th birthdays. Eustace, the fictional dandy who was on the first New Yorker magazine cover,  and my mom both arrived around February 22, 1925. It used to be George Washington’s birthday, too, but now we have President’s Day.

The nine New Yorker covers for my mom & Eustace Tilley's 90th

The nine New Yorker covers for my mom & Eustace Tilley’s 90th – I got the bottom row on my print mag

I left off with pumpkin stuff and soup, last Saturday. On Sunday I made the Portuguese Stone Soup from Asparagus to Zucchini – it’s a vegetable soup with sausage and Cannellini beans – white kidney beans. But we didn’t eat it Sunday night. I made cheesecake. I used the very last of the Christmas cookies that had been in a bucket in the basement fridge ground up for the crust; a bunch of the Moravian ginger thins and a few of the gember koekjes to make the crumb crust, which meant that there was ground candied ginger in the crust. I had a piece for dinner on Tuesday, and there’s one piece left that looks a little shopworn, but also kind of looks like lunch, to me.


Mark got to stay in Madison Sunday night, instead of returning to Chicago as usual, because the ALA gave him President’s day off. We watched the Saturday Night Live 40 years shenanigans, with a break for Downton Abbey.

Monday I worked at home, because I had this Medical Expenditures interview in the afternoon. The interview took an hour and a half, and I went back to work afterwards. Then out to dinner at Greenbush – salad and thin crust pizza with argula & bacon. My dinner companion was having a fancy cocktail, so I joined in with a Manhattan. Megan was studying in front of the downstairs TV, and Rach and a friend were having soup and cheesecake and knitting upstairs, making Mark’s cat go nuts over the yarn, when I got back.

On Tuesday, I  had big plans for dinner, but came home and snacked and worked, and, as mentioned above, ate cheesecake in front of TV, instead.

On Wednesday, I made vegetable curry, with squash and potatoes and carrots and kale and peas. Served over short grain rice, with chutney. Mark wasn’t interested when he got home from Chicago, but all us girls ate curry; Rach took it for work lunch on Thursday and I finished it off for work lunch on Friday. I am starting to get a bigger collection of glass containers with plastic lids, that I can microwave food in at work.

Vegetable curry

Vegetable curry

Thursday I think was the coldest day – Rachael and I drove in. A bunch of people at work decided it was too cold to go out for lunch, and so they ordered in Chinese, but I had peanut butter and jelly and an apple. And lots of meetings. Even though I drove, I walked around campus from my parking spot – almost 15 minutes – and from meeting to meeting, and you could literally see people hit the wall on their tolerance of the cold. They’d suddenly speed up, start walking as fast as they could or jogging, like saying, “I just can’t take this anymore”, got to get inside.

For dinner on Thursday, we ate the black bean & butternut squash chili that I had lugged to Chicago for our doomed – or blizzarded, I guess – Super Bowl party, and Mark lugged back. I had online  class, and, during the obligatory talk about the weather wherever you are portion at the beginning of the meeting, one of my students was talking about eating ice cream after class. That sounded like such a good idea to me, that  indulged, too. I made butterscotch sauce – since I atypically, had heavy cream in the house from the [cancelled] dessert buffet, and ate vanilla ice cream with diced candied ginger and butterscotch sauce in front of the Sopranos.

On Friday we finished the soup, with turkey salad (frozen Thanksgiving turkey, shredded) and bean salad (extras of the Cannellini beans).

Saturday seemed well-paced for a Saturday. I made scones, and I stayed in pajamas until 10:00. I had time to go grocery shopping, and still had time to go for a walk before our neighbors with two little kids and a new baby came for dinner. The older kids are about five and three, and  the baby is just 2 months. Mom’s not eating soy, dairy, tomato, or egg. So, I made pot roast – Costco chuck roast that I browned and then braised in the oven with red pepper puree, garlic, and veggie broth. Roasted vegetables – carrots, potatoes, onion, with sage. Big salad – with the cheese on the side, and an oil & vinegar slaw with carrots, cabbage and kale. I made coconut milk rice pudding with the last of the cooked rice that had been served with the curry.  Nothing but coconut milk, the rice, 1/4 cup sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla – yum. I also made white chocolate lime blondies for those of us that could indulge in butter and egg. I think those topped with ice cream (and maybe caramel sauce) will be our Oscar-watching treat tonight.

The neighbors brought flowers, and Rach brought out the tulips she’d had in her room. We enjoyed them on the sideboard during dinner, but I had to shut them up in the sunroom after to keep the cats from munching them.

Cat proof flowers

Cat proof flowers

For an in-honor of Ruth brunch, I made Marion Cunningham yeasted waffles, lots of bacon, and a few sausages. I cut up one of the new variety of apples that I got at the co-op yesterday – Lady Alice. They’re a little like Pink Lady – firm – but juicier and they don’t turn brown very fast, which Mark tells me is a new holy grail for apple breeders.

Stack of waffles - note glimpse of Feb. 23 New Yorker

Stack of waffles – note glimpse of Feb. 23 New Yorker

Waffles wrapped around bacon - the way I like to eat them - using fingers rather than fork, dunked in syrup

Waffles wrapped around bacon – the way I like to eat them – using fingers rather than fork, dunked in syrup

I think I don’t have to cook much the rest of the week – there’s at least one bowl of chili, leftover pot roast & turkey salad, scones, waffles that I’ll freeze to become toaster waffles, a big bag of salad greens, slaw … riches.

Guess I better go finish cleaning up, and go for a walk while the sun’s out.

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Deb and Rach make soup

This frigid Valentine’s weekend in Madison is also the Garden Expo. I went to demo soups, from the two MACSAC (Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition) now CSA Fairshare, cookbooks, From Asparagus to Zucchini, and Farm-Fresh and Fast.

Rach is here, so she came along to be my lovely assistant.

It went quite well. I talked about making veggie stock, both as a way to use up those limp veggies in the bottom of the vegetable bin in your fridge, and customized stocks, designed for the dish that you are making, a la Mark Bitmann (and many others). I demoed making one of those customized stocks, based on the Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Silky Butternut Squash Soup, that I have always liked. You sauté the seeds and strings that you’ve removed from the squash in the bottom of your steamer, then add water, and steam the squash above the sauté – so the juices from the squash drip down to enrich the stock. A plus is you use all the part of the squash; you’ll feel better using organic or homegrown squash to do this! I used Megan’s rice cooker to demo the stock. Then I made Kabocha squash soup from Farm-Fresh and Fast (p. 13). It’s a pureed soup where you cube up all the veggies, and cook them in stock and other liquids, and then whiz with an immersion blender or food processor or regular blender. Rach had the smart idea that I should cook the soup at home – not relying on my almost as old-as-me Farberware electric Dutch oven to do the job onsite – and I figured that I could cook it to the immersion blender point. As usual, Rach was right, and that pre-cooking made the demo go much more smoothly. The Farberware got the soup plenty hot enough to serve as samples. Then I talked about making – and showed the ingredients for – Portuguese Stone Soup from From Asparagus to Zucchini (p. 45). I gave everyone lots of tips about substitutions –  like I didn’t go buy a bottle of Calvados for the squash soup – I just used Korbel, and since the soup called for cooked apples anyhow, I put the apple cores into the stock to apple it up a bit more. And using canned tomatoes  (or frozen from last summer) in the stone soup,  instead of fresh, in the middle of winter.

Squash, apples, and sage for soup

Squash, apples, and sage for soup

I had toppings and swirl-ins for the creamy soup – creme fraîche, chopped fresh sage, toasted sliced almonds, and spicy tofu cubes (working on writing up my recipe here; it’s a variant of Lottie & Doof’s variant of David Lebowitz, wh evidently adapted it from yet someone else.

Afterwards, we discovered that the home vermicomposting guy was following us. We’d had to wait for the pruning demo lady to pick up all her twigs so we could get the stage set up for the soup demo. So, we were super glad that we had twigs before us, and worms after.

We only had one minor disaster – spilled the squash stock in the back of thr car when we got home – not on the way, which would’ve been far worse. And it wasn’t that bad to clean – the floor mat is drying in the basement now. We salvaged enough of the squash to have squash cubes with tofu cubes and creme fraîche and chopped fresh sage and toasted sliced almonds for lunch. Seemed like only one of my jokes went flat – I asked the crowd how many of them got a CSA box, to ask if they were missing the fresh produce, now in winter – and only like 2 people raised hands. Duh, it’s the Garden Expo – they all grow their own – so I hastily amended my question.

Still in squash mode, I made pumpkin muffins with dried cranberries and chocolate chips  (I thawed out some squash puree for the demo for in cases). They’re good but sticking to the papers – don’t know if the muffins are too low fat or if the papers are a bad batch.

Pumpkin chocolate chip cranberry muffins

Pumpkin chocolate chip cranberry muffins

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I feel like I didn’t have much of a weekend, because I worked a lot. But I did some fun stuff, I guess. The theme for the weekend seems to have been feeling a bit sorry for myself, and eating too much.

On Saturday there was Grillin’ for Peace. Before heading out to grill, I tried to do a little work. Somebody sent me a slide (Mac Keynote format) that I needed to transfer to a power point, and that turned into an odyssey of updating the OS X on my work computer to Yosemite, and getting the new Keynote. Of course Yosemite bleeped out the java version my older Photoshop needs to run, so I had to re-install that too. I left my computer updating; when I got home from Grilling the giant 5-gig download was done, and I set it to install. Graded a few students on my home computer downstairs.

We went to see Boyhood at the cheap theater – it was as good as all my film buff friends were saying.

Came home, checked in on the computer, and we had leftover Mac & Cheese and pasta and a salad for supper. I can’t remember if it was Friday (after a dinner of egg salad sandwiches and chips and onion dip and salsa and carrots and celery) that I indulged in ice cream and chocolate sauce, too late at night, on top of the crumbled up Hootie bars that came back from Chicago, another Super Bowl-party-that-wasn’t-leftover – or if that was Saturday. Somehow I thought I’d fit in a walk, amidst all that on Saturday, but no.

Sunday started a little off – I tried to walk and got scared back in because it was icy. Feeling guilty, I cleaned all the cat boxes and put down new newspaper, and did laundry. I made fancy steel cut oats for breakfast, and then just worked all day.

Mark and I finished the Hootie bars with ice cream and chocolate sauce for Downton Abbey and the Grammy’s – but I ate all kinds of other junk too – finished the onion dip, with sweet potato chips, wheat thins with egg salad, and a Trader Schmoe’s chocolate covered marshmallow or two … feeling sorry for myself, so eating to make up. The TV kept freezing, and I couldn’t even go to a web page on my phone. Missed Annie Lennox at the Grammy’s and everyone on my Facebook & Twitter said she was the best. So I watched her on my phone on Monday morning while I drank my coffee. I did a 10 minute Barre 3 workout and walked to campus – more exercise by 9:00 AM Monday than the whole weekend.

I never got around to testing the burner from CSA Fair Share to see if it works, and I never bought light bulbs. And I never made veggie broth. I remedied two out of three Monday night. The burner doesn’t work – it started getting hot, but then just tripped the outlets in my kitchen. I’ll have to use my almost as old as me Farberware electric Dutch oven for the soup cooking demo at the garden Expo this Saturday. And I made veggie broth and vegetable soup. The broth had a whole host of vegetables past their prime – parsley and cilantro (the giant bunch I brought back from Chicago) and carrot & celery sticks, and a sprouty potato. I used some of the same for the soup – the better parts – onion, carrots, celery, parsley and cilantro, peeled and trimmed potato, a few lentils, a spoonful of miso, and most of a carton of diced tomatoes frozen last summer – the rest went into the broth. The miso and lentils made the soup rich and brown.

Think it’s time to shower and get in pajamas and figure out how to re-watch Downton on Apple TV – we missed dog butt last night because of the freezing.

Bottom of the vegetable bin soup, with lentils

Bottom of the vegetable bin soup, with lentils


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Grillin’ for peace 2015

I think 2012 must be the year I didn’t go. There was no snow in February – and it was 80° in March.

2015-02-07 11.12.41

This year, I made chili dogs, with the chili I made for the super bowl party, lugged to Chicago, by car and train, and when the party got blizzard-ed out, lugged back by cab and bus. It seemed ultra easy this year – my grill was in the garage, so I didn’t have to dig it out of a snowbank. I’d cleaned it the last time I used it, so I just had to take the legs off and stick it in the car. Of course, there was a bit of negotiation with the legs – the Weber grill tripod that if you don’t want the legs to come off, they oblige by falling off immediately, but if you want them off, have to be yanked. I had an opened bag of charcoal with just the right amount, and remembered to take the chimney to get it started. Since it was chili dogs, they were small to pack – just that one white bag, and the foil pan of chili. And when the grilling was done, my grill seemed to cool off in no time at all, so I could pack up and go home – the advantage of grilling in snow.

2014 looks like I just made brats. And somebody else’s hot dogs and it was pretty cold and I melted my right mitten. And didn’t mention it on the post, but Toni, our exchange student from Germany, was with me and seemed to have a great time talking to the other high school kids there – who went to Memorial, rather than West, Toni’s school, but knew or knew of, a bunch of the same kids.

2013 was sliders with cheese inside, and a few brats.

2011 brats & iPhone movies.

2010 was stuffed flank steak.

2009 was the wet year.

2008 the original – I made grilled bread.

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Man, what a day

A zillion things to do at work – tried out a new way to do screen captures, after the method I’ve been using created a recording with weird dropouts, and took forever to upload, email, email, email, meetings, meetings, meetings…

Our evil governor (as my mechanic calls him) is being eviler than ever. He wants to cut $300 million from the University, AND continue a tuition freeze, AND this is after 2 years when the University was forced to spend down its reserves. The legislature has been really good at portraying the University as the bad guys. Obviously, we’re the ones that cause students to go into debt, charging such high tuition and not teaching enough sections of classes, so that students can’t graduate on time. Gee, it couldn’t be that the state government is not funding higher education, doesn’t value education at any level, so the burden of paying for college has been shifted to students and parents.

The governor’s been calling his budget effectively “Act 10 for the UW System,”; that it will remove “limitations like shared governance”. Cut funding, and decouple the University from state government; make it a separate public authority. Which would give the University the flexibility to  make up for the loss of funding – just like municipalities and other state agencies were given freedom by Act 10, which prevented public employees from unionizing.

But what scares me even more is that he wants to amend and repeal chapter 36 of the Wisconsin State Statutes.

edited Wisconsin Idea

edited UW System mission statement

Chapter 36 allows for shared governance.

The faculty of each institution, subject to the responsibilities and powers of the board, the president and the chancellor of such institution, shall be vested with responsibility for the immediate governance of such institution and shall actively participate in institutional policy development. As such, the faculty shall have the primary responsibility for academic and educational activities and faculty personnel matters. The faculty of each institution shall have the right to determine their own faculty organizational structure and to select representatives to participate in institutional governance.

The academic staff members of each institution, subject to the responsibilities and powers of the board, the president and the chancellor and faculty of the institution, shall be active participants in the immediate governance of and policy development for the institution. The academic staff members have the primary responsibility for the formulation and review, and shall be represented in the development, of all policies and procedures concerning academic staff members, including academic staff personnel matters. The academic staff members of each institution shall have the right to organize themselves in a manner they determine and to select their representatives to participate in institutional governance.

The students of each institution or campus subject to the responsibilities and powers of the board, the president, the chancellor and the faculty shall be active participants in the immediate governance of and policy development for such institutions. As such, students shall have primary responsibility for the formulation and review of policies concerning student life, services and interests. Students in consultation with the chancellor and subject to the final confirmation of the board shall have the responsibility for the disposition of those student fees which constitute substantial support for campus student activities. The students of each institution or campus shall have the right to organize themselves in a manner they determine and to select their representatives to participate in institutional governance.

My position is defined in there as well, and it also says something about my sick leave benefits. The Board of Regents says that anything that is repealed from chapter 36 will be pulled out, and popped into Board of Regents policy, but I don’t find that all that comforting – something that was a statute is now a policy? Sounds a lot squishier to me.

And ugh, I’ve been trying to pick thru the 1800+ pages of the budget bill, Assembly 21. 36.09 that allows for shared governance is repealed. There’s also a provision in the state statutes that highway construction has to allot funding for bike- and pedestrian-ways – that exceeds what the federal government decrees – so of course that is repealed, too. Why should Wisconsin to continue to be the best at things they were always the best at before? Jim Baughman says, Don’t turn the UW into just another university.

It’s standard political procedure – hide stuff in the budget bill that can have real consequences and hope no one will notice.

I came home and made pasta – sweet potato, kale, caramelized onions (with a dab leftover that I made into dip), goat cheese and parsley. And busted up no-boil lasagna noodles. The kind of pasta that’s called old rags – irregular edges of fresh pasta sheets, or lasagna.

old rags pasta with sweet potato, kale & goat cheese

old rags pasta with sweet potato, kale & goat cheese

Lea sent me this crazy necklace with a picture jasper pendant that looks like a house. In thanks for the cookie boxes I send them – they’re never getting off the list now.

necklace2 necklace

Beyond that, it’s winter. It’s cold and my skin’s too dry, and I’m probably eating too much, and not drinking enough water, and not getting enough exercise – although today I did walk a lot with my snow boots on. And, maybe we’ll be marching again soon at the Capitol – but somehow, I don’t think so this time.

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Snowy library conference


We’re having a blizzard in Chicago. I’m listening to a librarian update us on LoC cataloging stats – 77K more new person records, 3K new subject headings, and so on.

It’s a big deal because library cataloging standards are undergoing big changes. The rules changed, from one acronym to another, AACR to RDA, and that took about 10 years – from 2003-2013 – but even bigger, the format and the way cataloging is done is changing. We’re going from creating database records – into systems originally designed to print cards – to a more webified, data-in-encoded-xml documents, method.

Now that I’m sitting here, I remember sitting in basically the same meeting last year, in Philadelphia.

I go to all this stuff so I can teach it.

But most people would run screaming.

And, from the tweets, I might’ve selected the wrong meeting – this alternate sounds good:

But, oh well, ALA is ever thus, too many things to go to, and sometimes the choice is impossible.

And, I blundered into FREE BEER in exhibits! One of the university presses – they always seem the freest with the alcohol.

2015-02-01 15.59.34



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In Chicago with the librarians (again)

Again because we were last here summer 2013.


Sitting in a meeting room in Darth Vader’s living room, McCormick Place. I think I got here a little too early – this is kind of the business meeting part; real content’s not being presented for another half hour. But a Dutch librarian is about to speak and if I can wait for the real presentation, I can enjoy Lorcan Dempsey’s Irish accent as well. Ah, she’s lovely to listen to – and dressed so much more stylishly than the rest of us dumpy librarians.

But, oh dear, got a scrabbler next to me – digging in her bag, ripping off smaller pieces of paper to take notes on, consulting tabloid size supplemental paper conference publication to plan her next move …

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