Chicken Yakitori

My grandma Pat was a pretty amazing woman. Now that I’m an adult I really wish that I could reuse some of the time I had with her before she was gone.

One of the most special things that I have from her now is her handwriting. She usually wrote with ink pens in a neat, print and cursive hybrid and she was a great story teller in writing. I was able to get a few recipes of her copied from my mom when I left for college, and though I appreciated their instructions, tonight while making her chicken yakitori recipe, I got to enjoy her handwriting, too.

Although I haven’t seen it on menus at restaurants or heard of other people making it, I did a quick google search and discovered it’s not so rare as I imagined. The ingredient list is pretty simple, too. And as it happens, my other grandma really likes it (enough that she mentioned it in a recent visit). I made a batch tonight hoping to share some with her tomorrow. Here’s the recipe card, don’t mind the photocopied soy sauce stains:

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You’ll notice some of my mom’s handwriting too, in some of the parenthesis. I made a few changes tonight:

1 tsp onion powder
1/2-1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sugar
(no salt)
1/2 tsp (ish) ginger
1/8 tsp pepper
3 split bone-in chicken breasts, deboned and cut into 1″-2″ pieces.

In the past I’ve added some chili paste and fresh ginger, but I didn’t want to make it too spicy this time. I did happen to eat it with rice and sriracha for dinner tonight. I broiled the pieces, flipping halfway and measuring the temperature when both sides were pretty brown. I agree that it would make great kebobs with onions, cherry tomatoes, and pineapple and I might try it this summer. Some stir fried vegetables would go well, too.

Perhaps I’ll share one of my grandma Mary’s recipes sometime soon. She’s sent me a lot of excellent baking recipes (she excels at baking, among other things). Until then, lots more knitting, quilting, and gradual organization projects.

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Knitting goals and sundry

It’s past my bedtime, but I’m quite awake, so I thought I would go ahead and write a quick post that I’ve been meaning to write. Since last I wrote I have finished grad school, including the comps I wrote about and the very full November of presentations and preparation. Life on the other side of coursework has proven to feel much lighter and brighter than it was before. I’ll take it in the dreary winter time when pessimism usually is quick to loom.

I’ve set a couple knitting goals for 2016, and they are definitely informal, but worth recording for the sake of the next year(s) that I’m checking my progress. The first, working down the WIPs. I have a number of projects on the needles at all times, which isn’t really the issue that bothers me. I’m bothered that there are projects that have been incomplete for months (or years) that are unlikely to become finished without attention. So far the WIP-it-down effort has resulted in a finished hat, a nearly finished blanket (the icord I’m applying to the border is not very fun to knit, but it’s a lot closer to being done than it was before), and a few socks. Ok, a couple socks. But they still count. I’m longing to cast on some new things, and am ready to, but am trying to show a little self-control.

Another knitting goal is to stop adding to stash. I have a sufficient amount of beautiful indie dyed sock yarn to knit nothing but socks for 2 or more years (which is to say a lot). That doesn’t get into the lace weight and worsted and minis I have around, either.

I am also hoping to finish two quilt as you go quilts this year. The first one is coming along; it’s a throw-quilt made with fabric from my grandma (from the year she got married, 1950 or so) and some fabric she’d gotten from her mother-in-law. Which is to say, some pretty cool retro fabrics. Some of them are remnants, and I haven’t been able to use the sheet she’d set aside for a backing at all (big brown stains from the box or moisture in the box they were stored in), but it might be ok after washing. I am thinking I might piece a few squares of that into the plain white backing and use more of it for a second quilt with more of the fabric from Grandma another time. We’ll see. My second quilt is probably going to be made from fat quarters I’d ordered from etsy this past spring.

Besides knitting and quilting, I am considering housing options again. That will pick up more when it isn’t January, I think. I know that purchasing a house doesn’t move so quickly that I would move in the dead of winter, but I’m not so motivated to look through houses when it’s cold and/or icy outside.

I may take up spinning, as K’s spinning is so lovely, but I’m a little worried I won’t take to it like she has. I already know it’s harder for me than it was for her, so there’s that. I might have some opportunity to sit down with her (let’s hope).

I think that’s all I have for now. It’s late, after all. Happy knitting!

The Night Before, again.

I have my last comprehensive exam tomorrow. I suppose it’s possible that I’d have to take it again, if I didn’t pass, but I’ve felt good enough reviewing for it that I took the entire night to knit. Of course, I took the day yesterday and the afternoon today to study (with some other bits tucked into last weekend and even this morning). The subject is theory (late romantic and post-tonal music) and though it can take time and I can make mistakes, the classwork was generically more the product of work and time spent than conceptual knowledge to be grasped. The work-based knowledge is easier for me to retain than the concepts, for whatever reason. The professor was also a pretty generous grader, so work exerted is at least considered for points, and that makes me feel pretty confident. I might not ace the test, but I’ve got a few other plates in the air lately, so it’s not a big deal as long as I pass.

Are these words coming from me? This is a former perfectionist who used to call home and cry if a test didn’t go well and then end up getting a ridiculously good score. I don’t think I’m as dramatic now, but the nerves before a test definitely kick in. I’ll be glad to have it over with!

The next hurdles to clear will be my poster for a session next week, the research project paper’s editing…and that might be it. I finished report cards today (I might go back through them just to be sure), and my program was earlier this week. I have conferences this coming week, which are traditionally pretty quiet, so I may be able to get ahead in planning if I can keep my nose to the grindstone. Next week begins a series of traveling weekends (technically tomorrow if you count the day trip for the test), so I’m going to have to be strategic about laundry, grocery trips, and knitting projects. I believe I only have 2 or 3 full weeks of teaching between now and Christmas (the other weeks are partial for various reasons including holidays and professional learning), which is scary. I don’t think I’ll start recorders like I’d hoped…but maybe I can pull it out with the fourth graders.

When it all comes down to it, though, details about comprehensive exams or lesson plans and knitting projects are pretty insignificant. The news tonight included a series of attacks in Paris that are sounding pretty awful by the reports and updates. I’m reminded again of the fragility of human life and the preciousness of faith in God and the love of those we hold dearest. There are so many things to be grateful for in this life, and so many things to be saddened by in this world. I’m confident in God’s sovereignty, though, and know that He is not surprised but at work.

That’s all. I should head to bed.

Roll on

I’ve had a lot of opportunity to think about why I’m a teacher this summer. One of the classes I’m taking (for the month of June) is mostly responsible for that introspection, and the other part is the realization that this entire change of pace is completely amazing. I’m an introvert who recharges best alone, and I’ve had great opportunity to do that, as well as go out and enjoy life during business hours. What a treat it is to go rollerblading at 2:00 in the afternoon (like I did yesterday) and not have any traffic at the roadway crossings, nor early morning runners and bikers to contend with. My company on bikes were the lucky few who are retired and can bike at any time or the few whose schedules resemble mine in the summer.

I’m not cut out to live the unemployed life forever, of course, and I’ve already begun looking forward to school starting again and setting up my classroom with everything already ordered and in storage! What a difference from last summer when I emptied one classroom, packed myself up and moved, and found myself in a new, empty classroom with nothing in it except what I brought from my own belongings. This year I can ponder where I want instruments to be staged, where my desk should be, and the piano, how I want the cupboards and (hopefully soon) shelves to be organized. I can’t wait!

But I will because I’m enjoying this season, too. Monday is the beginning of a new term with extra work in it. I’ll be glad to be finished with the classes, don’t get me wrong, but I’m kind of dreading the work of one of those classes especially. It goes with the territory…it’s music theory. I’m good at music theory in a “I used to be good at music theory” sort of way, which is to say I recall being good at it more than I recall the skills and knowledge about it. But I’m teachable…right?

For now I’ll head out to enjoy what looks like a hazy evening with a friend. I’m so glad for the peace this summer has compared to last! God is good!

Comps, round two

I’ve got to pack myself up to drive to my History comp in an hour or so (with enough time to allow for a bathroom stop, a little leg stretch and quick look at my notes and essays to calm down), but I just finished reading the post I wrote before the last round of comps in November. I passed those (passing is somewhere around 60%, I think? I can’t remember if it’s 60 or 69%, but regardless, not A-quality scores). The difficulty in walking into a big test like this (and this one is 2 hours instead of one like last time) is that the confidence is absent. Studying for tests throughout my life has been about shooting for the A, the “100% – Awesome!” marking, the evidence of my mastery. So going into a test that covers so much, knowing that I won’t get 100%, it’s hard to gauge where 60% falls. I’ve never studied for 60% before. It feels risky to admit it. There’s a good chance I’ll pass at least most of today’s test (I think that there’s a possibility of retaking the part that doesn’t go well, if it comes down to it, rather than taking the whole thing again), so that gives me some confidence, but it’s banking on a lot. I’ve listened to SO much classical music in the last few weeks, even into the month-plus range (yeah, didn’t really get started early like I hoped I would). My brain is fried with classical music, but I am recognizing some of the big works and remembering things about them and their time period. It’s enhanced my public radio listening a lot…I think about what time period it sounds like, who might have written it, and what the ensemble would have been. I’m wrong just about every time in that regard (with the exception of a broadcast of La traviata I caught one day) because they tend to play the obscure solo and ensemble works I don’t study, but I can detect baroque versus classical (mostly instrumentation and orchestration), classical versus romantic, and there’s even a slight amount of discrimination in my ear for 20th century and beyond. But that era is mostly painful to listen to, so I don’t enjoy as much of it (i.e. Berg’s Wozzeck and Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire…wow).

I’ve worn the burden of this comp externally. I think I did for the last one as well. I only have two more if I pass today’s and think that I will be VERY glad to put the test-taking behind me. I don’t enjoy the stress of writing papers and finishing projects, but I have confidence in my performance when it comes to generated work (I can look up the answers, I can invest more time!). Tests…so much unknown stuff and such a limited amount of time…what essay questions or terms will I have to recall, what 20 music examples from all of western music will be chosen for a drop-the-needle test (with 30 seconds for each track. ack!).

If it’s any consolation, after a week of car trouble and rain and wind and cold, today appears to be the sunniest, prettiest day we’ve had in a week or two, and the birds woke me up this morning with their singing-sweet music indeed. I hate to wish away days and parts of my life, so I try not to look forward to the future too much, but I will be glad to walk out of that room and perhaps take a turn around campus for some spring afternoon enjoyment! And then maybe a run. I haven’t gotten out since last Sunday.

Walls for hitting.

I had a beautiful gift of a day off yesterday for Good Friday and a day (today) without obligations. I used the day mostly to study, but the evening hasn’t been very fruitful in that regard. I’m ready to move beyond the test, when I start looking for a home to buy (which is exhausting to consider, but I’m just not in love with renting this apartment enough to stay and I told myself I wouldn’t move to another apartment just for the sake of moving)…and do all the things I feel like I shouldn’t do now (mostly watching TV or hanging out with friends without feeling nervous about the time).

I don’t do very well with stress. I think I’ve known this about myself for a while. I wear it on the outside, majorly. I’ve been hopping from one stressful event to another for a couple months now and I believe I’m continually hopeful that “this will be it,” but the next one comes along. The pat Christian answer is to admit that I’m supposed to surrender that stress and rest in God’s steadfast care and faithful provision, but that yielding isn’t a one-and-done process for me. I get that my value and eternal significance aren’t at at stake in stressful circumstances…on a bigger scale I can yield stress, but the details are all up in my face.

And so I’ll chip away at what I’ve got and try to be patient through the hard things rather than wish they were over.

Also, as if I didn’t have enough on my mind, I’m afraid that I’ve killed (or am in the process of killing) one of the heartiest plants I’ve ever had. It’s survived six years of my care, but I replanted it last week and it’s not liking the new digs too well. I’ve probably watered it more than ever before, so maybe it’s just drowning. Or maybe I’m really bad at repotting and I severed it’s main root or something. Eep. Come on little plant – grow!. It makes me want to take a cutting just in case the stem dies. I might go do that now.

Happy Easter to you all 🙂

Spring cleaning

I’ve got the restless bug. Recently I acquired a reason to clean out the spare bedroom so I took a whole bunch of things set aside for goodwill to goodwill. And that felt especially great because it wasn’t the usual stuff-I-haven’t-used-in-a-while pile, but some things that I’d been weirdly attached to that were serving no purpose. Like a stack of plastic cups from various events…I still have a few more in my cupboard for the rare visiting child’s koolaid (or myself…not beneath me to drink out of a plastic cup), but I had the whole dorm room collection shoved in my cupboard. And some clothes that probably would still fit, but I was just done with them. My thought in January, when the pile was made for the January Cure (via apartment therapy’s blog), was that those items set aside weren’t really all that great.

I also had to move some boxes to the garage, which has been a task I’ve put off since about October or November when I first tackled the second bedroom. Granted, I hope to move again before too long, but seeing collapsed boxes doesn’t really motivate me to move any faster. And since I was in the garage and it was a nice day I repotted some plants that have long since overgrown their containers. I probably did that wrong, so I’m hoping they are hearty enough to withstand some poor planting skills.

The knitting progress has been pretty widely spread over many wips. I really should whittle them down, but I’ve had a lot of stress with two spring programs, a comprehensive exam, a class with lots of homework all of a sudden, and some other stuff. Which has led to a few really listless nights of not knitting at all, not studying much, and not feeling very good about the progress. My brain is pretty tired these days, so I don’t feel up to much.

I’ve discovered a small like for running this spring. Break provided an opportunity to go a little further than I would normally push myself because I was with my sister. Since then I’ve had a couple really good runs, including an all time high of 5 miles (with a little walking in the middle, I’ll admit). I know I’m prone to injury if I go too far too soon, but what amazes me is that my will to carry on increases dramatically after about the 2 mile mark. Up until that point I want to quit every step between 1 mile and 2 (rough estimation, I’m not 100% where the miles fall in my course yet). Of course, the cooler temperatures probably have a lot to do with my motivation to carry on…I hate running when I’m hot. Maybe I’ll have to start carrying some water with me when it warms up.

Speaking of programs, they went fairly well. On the one hand it was really nice to put both of them off to about the same time because it gave me a couple months of program mindset. On the other hand, I get a little stressed for every program, so it rather compiled this time. I had a jazz program for the older students and a wild west program for the younger students, the replicate of my 2012-2013 school year (year #3 for me) in my first school. It was nice to do something I’d already done because we didn’t yet have a sound system or instruments or much in the way of materials. I’ll hopefully do some good thinking this summer and plan for some new programs (including speaking parts – someone hold me to this…no more last minute speaking parts!). But those missing things have finally been ordered and delivered, and after Monday (when my colleagues and I bust into the packing materials and assemble instruments) they will all be in glorious use!!

The agenda for the rest of tonight is not cleaning or reorganizing furniture and food/bathroom shelves, but knitting and music history listening. I have to resist listening to Porgy and Bess, Brahms, and Schumann the whole night. They won’t be the only examples on the test if they are chosen, and the test writer never called to ask what my listening preference might be :).

Good night!