Double Curry Deviled Eggs

I was invited to a potluck along the Krewe of Chewbacchus parade route this evening, and as usual, ended up throwing something together pretty much last minute. I expected people to eat all of my offering, since we were on a parade route, and really, what drunk person doesn’t love free food? What I wasn’t anticipating was getting a ton of compliments on my simple dish. So here’s an easy little recipe for those like me: slightly agoraphobic, completely disinterested in large gatherings, and feeling put on the spot when someone invites you to cook for a thing that’s happening in less than 24 hours.

Double Curry Deviled Eggs

  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons minced green onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons yellow curry
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste

Step 1: Boil the eggs. You know how to do this by now, right? If not, don’t feel too bad. People act like boiling eggs is painfully obvious, but if you want to do it without overcooking the eggs and making them rubbery and hard to peel, there’s a trick. I’m not going to waste my time typing this bit, though. Check out what Martha Stewart has to say on the subject. She hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

Step 2: Once the eggs are boiled and cool enough to handle, shell them, then cut each in half and empty the yolks into a bowl. Place the whites aside. Save time now by getting them set up on the plate you plan to use to bring them to the potluck. Don’t try to make them on one plate, then transfer them to another – you will end up dropping them and making a mess of your potluck offering, and by extension, your worth as a human being.

Step 3: Mash the egg yolks, and add the mayo, green onion, yellow curry, cumin, cayenne, and black pepper. Mix vigorously, until it’s creamy. Take a little taste, and adjust the seasonings as necessary. I always end up adding more mayo than the recipe calls for, so if you think the eggs need more at this point, disregard my original directions. This is all you, babe. What good is life if you can’t add more mayo when the mood strikes?

Step 4: Don’t try to just spoon the filling into the eggs. First off, it’s messy, but secondly, did you know it’s actually a waste of your time? Seriously, I’m not kidding. Go get a Ziplock bag. Fill it with the egg yolk mixture, then cut off the bottom corner of the bag and squeeze. It’s a poor woman’s pastry bag! Now you can use this to pipe the egg yolk mixture into the waiting egg whites. It looks like you care a lot more than we both know you do, and has the added benefit of taking less than half the time of using a spoon to do the same job. (Note: pastry bags with fancy icing tips aren’t that expensive, so if you have access to a grocery or craft store, it’s a great choice to get deviled eggs that look top-notch.)

Step 5: Once you’ve evenly distributed all of the egg yolk mixture, drop a tiny dollop of the Thai red curry paste on top of each egg as a delicious final decoration. I used a chopstick to scoop up the tiniest bit of curry paste, then dab it on top of each egg, but I’m sure you could do the same with a toothpick or a even a fork.

And Voila! Double Curry Deviled Eggs. Now take them to a party. It’s up to you if you decide to hover near the food table and let people in on the “secret” of what makes these eggs so good every time you hear an ecstatic “Mmmmm!” There’s no end of excitement in waxing poetic on the joy of two curries in one deviled egg, especially if you’re an introvert who would have been much happier staying in and chatting with the cats than sharing recipes with strangers. It almost makes me happy that I decided to leave the house tonight.

OK, not really, but close enough.

 

Simple Truths

Like many people, I grew up with an eye for romance. I wanted to be whisked off my feet; not literally, like in an avalanche or tsunami, or by being run over by a bus – but rather in the poetic sense. But isn’t it funny that the older you get, the more you realize that no matter the method, being whisked off your feet is still not only scary, but detrimental?

I dreamed of hills and overpasses last night, and highways that pass by sleepy, forgotten hamlets. I walked a bicycle up a hill. I was late in going somewhere, I know not where.

Maybe a week ago, the night after the night I dreamt about the black dog, I encountered its real-life counterpart just down the street from my house. This black dog was also huge, and scared me at first, but she was so friendly. Her eyes were full of such love that I couldn’t help but feel overjoyed as I petted her. When she and her owner walked away, I almost cried; I felt instantly bereft. I hope to meet her again.

Someone with speakers on their bicycle just rode by my house. Through the open living room window I could hear those speakers playing a song off of Tricky’s “Maxinquaye” album, which my college roommate played every night to fall asleep. It still makes me deliciously sleepy.

I’m growing my hair out. To grow out a pixie cut properly, it’s best to have a stylist shape the way your hair is going to grow. I decided to go to a new salon just down the street from my house. The stylist gave me what she called a “men’s cut” – anything above the chin – and I was charged accordingly. That’s never happened before, no matter the length of my hair, no matter the salon, no matter how short my hair has been. Even when I shaved it off last year, I paid for a “women’s cut,” which is more expensive than a “men’s cut” by very definition. I have always gotten a little upset at getting charged double what a man pays, especially for the same hairdo, but I always swallowed the anger. What good would complaining do, I thought. Today I saved $35 on a haircut. In terms of what I’ve traditionally paid for the last 10 years, you could say that today I basically got a BOGO deal. The next time I go back, I’m going to ask the salon to consider removing gender from their descriptions, since the real determination is made on length.

The other day, I took a detour on my way home and walked down a little wooded path in the middle of the Esplanade Avenue neutral ground. As my feet left the pavement and joined back up with the dirt and gravel on this tiny stretch, I felt a tickle of energy pass from earth to toes. For a moment, I felt at one with God, there in the middle of a busy New Orleans street. It was fleeting, but fine.

I found a new ghost story podcast on Spotify this morning.

Once, I told Duncan Sheik to his face that his music put me to sleep. Not my finest moment; it was meant to be a compliment. Oops.

I miss people, but not the people you probably think I miss. 

I once waltzed with a German at a bar called the Casablanca. Another time, I drank wine with a Canadian in Paris; we watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle like a promise. I kissed a Brazilian in Austin, cuddled with a Costa Rican in Memphis, was propositioned by an Algerian in Nice, and once, in a fit of pique, I smushed a dollop of blue cake icing into an Ecuadorian’s ear. Sometimes I see a particular dead Italian walking towards me down the street. My love life is a travelogue. How does it happen? I’m not even that outgoing.

When the hypnotist says to picture a “beautiful place,” I think of how it felt to fall asleep in the same room as my pilgrim friends.

I find myself wondering what it is that people live for, what keeps them going. I find solace in my cats, and dream of getting my own tiny prickly pear cactus.

My apartment is feeling cramped, and Charlie keeps destroying the toilet paper.

It’s up to you to figure out who Charlie might be.

A Dream & A Song

This is “Black-Eyed Dog,” by Nick Drake. It’s one of my all-time favorite songs. Nick died very young, in his sleep, of what was presumed to be an accidental overdose of his depression medication. Before he left, he recorded some of the most hauntingly beautiful tunes, including this one. You probably recognize the concept of a black (or black-eyed) dog. Nick’s song was based on Winston Churchill’s description of the inescapable weight of depression, following you at all hours. Of course, this imagery is most likely based on a creature of British legend with which Churchill (and anyone who’s read Harry Potter) would be familiar – the Black Dog, a ghostly being that, once seen, portends the viewer’s death.

Fun fact: I thought that I “knew” that the Black Dog and the pooka, or púca, were one and the same before I started writing this blog post, but I was wrong.

Another fun fact: I really need to go to sleep, but now I’m getting really excited about reading about the Black Dog. Uh oh. But I’ll leave my faerie research for another time, and wrap this up…

Last night, I dreamt of a black dog, but it was protecting me, albeit reluctantly. I can’t remember the overall framework of the dream, but I was at someone’s house, turned to walk through a doorway and was frightened by the black snake I suddenly saw there. It was stretched out, facing me, and it seemed menacing. For a second I was scared, and yelped in fear. There was a closeup of its delicate face (the more I try to pull this moment up, the more I see that it was a square head, not poisonous), and then I saw its body, a deep, glossy black with a small, muted gold pattern that I couldn’t quite make out. Then I saw that the snake was resting between the paws of a lounging black labrador retriever, and the fear immediately left.

The dog was immense, and also a deep, glossy black. She was one of those purebred labs that are as big as a pony, all solid and sleek, with a flank that makes a drum-sound when you pat it. She was well cared for, and wore a collar with a dangling tag. She was imposing – not my friend, not my pet. She had a job, and she also had an attitude with me. We made eye contact briefly. I felt deference. For a second she seemed to briefly consider me, then the snake quickly crawled (hurled itself, really, in the way that dreams work) past me, away across the room, and over a side table that sat next to the window. The dog chased the snake, looked over the edge of the table down to where it was hiding, and that’s the last thing I remember.

Exploring the Kaibab

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Happy hikers! All five of our backpacking group (I’m on the far left) after successfully climbing up to the South Rim on Day 4. 

I know I’m still only 1/3 of the way into telling you guys about my 2015 Camino experience, but I’m still working on it, I promise. In the mean time, I wanted to tell you guys a little about my 2016 birthday trip: going on a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon. Last November, I took a four-day backpacking tour starting on the North Rim, walking down the North Kaibab Trail to Phantom Ranch, then up the Bright Angel Trail to the South Rim. The tour was through Wildland Trekking, and I enthusiastically recommend it. Here’s a link to the exact tour I took, in case you’re interested.

I loved the experience. Coming off of the Camino, I was looking for a somewhat similar experience, but this time I wanted to camp, carry more weight, and have less amenities at my disposal. I was also really interested in getting to be somewhere secluded, where I’d be able to get away from the Internet and too many people, and hopefully somewhere that I’d get to see the stars at night. All of my wishes came true. The hike was challenging, but doable. My fellow hikers were very respectful of my need to have quiet alone time, but were also friendly and accepting. I was paired up with a family of four, plus our guide, so I was the adopted family member, and we had a great time together. I loved our guide, Dakota – he was extremely knowledgeable about the history, geology, and flora/fauna of the area, as well as a great cook. I was especially appreciative of his patience with me as I asked a billion and one questions about the plants we passed. I normally don’t care too much about plants, but I found myself falling in love with all of the different cactus varieties we passed, and I grew to love others, like the agave, Mormon tea, and yucca plants.

I’m trying to think of my top memories from the trip. My time spent in Flagstaff before and after going into the Canyon were awesome – I really dug the vibe there. I’d like to spend more time in Flagstaff, and I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t strongly considered making it my next port of call. I also met new friends from around the world at the hostel there, and that’s always a plus 🙂

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Having a beer at Phantom Ranch to celebrate turning 35!

As far as the hike, itself, I had a lot of fun exploring just a tiny piece of the Grand Canyon, but it only gave me a taste for a much larger exploration in the future. I’d have to say that having an icy cold birthday beer at Phantom Ranch at the end of the second day’s hike was lovely – maybe even more so because the mess hall reminded me of summer camp when I was a kid, so it gave the entire trip a kind of summer vacation vibe. I also really liked a little side trip we took earlier that morning to visit Ribbon Falls, which took us over one of the scariest sections of hiking (for me, anyway). The path narrowed down so much that you had to lean against the rock and put one foot straight in front of the other. I fell into an agave plant and punctured my arm, which was not fun. After that, three of us ended up dropping our packs before the detour, so we would be a little more steady on our feet to crawl around the rock that we needed to get past to see the falls. I stopped bleeding eventually, and the falls were gorgeous, so it was all worth it.

 

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Mule deer eating.

 

Another great memory is seeing mule deer on our next to last evening, at Indian Gardens. Then of course, there was the hike to and from Plateau Point. Weirdly, though the view out there was by far the most beautiful that we’d seen, the mile and a half walk through flat desert to get out to the point was my most favorite scenery of the entire trip. For that little bit of the hike, we were on Plateau Point Trail, which intersects the Tonto Trail, and I got it into my head that I’d like to hike the Tonto one day. Instead of running from one of the rims, it runs side-to-side for about 70 miles through the Canyon. We walked back from the Plateau after dark, and I felt at home there, walking down that moonlit path, past the cacti. I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want more lights and phones and talking. I just wanted to keep walking like that forever, nice and quiet, letting the stars do all the talking.

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The view from Plateau Point.

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Walking home down Plateau Point Trail.

Most impactful, but hardest to explain, was the darkness. I really liked that Flagstaff was a Dark Sky Community, meaning they have taken pains to keep their light pollution down. Then, once you’re down in the Canyon, there really are no lights, and the sky is absolutely breathtaking. I was happy to have my sleep mask with me, because the moon would have made it too bright to sleep otherwise! Once I got back into Flagstaff, I went to the Lowell Observatory, which is one of the oldest observatories in the United States, dating back to 1894. Pluto was discovered there in 1930, and when I went, I had the extreme pleasure of getting to look at the moon through one of their giant telescopes. It sounds pretty lame, since we’ve all seen the moon, right? But to see it so clearly made me literally gasp with delight. I wouldn’t mind getting to see it like that a few more times.

I’ve got a ton more photos that I’ll post after I’ve had a chance to go through and choose the best ones, and I’ll break down the trip a little better then. But for now, thought you’d at least like to hear a little bit about the trip!

By Firelight

What is it about firelight that draws us in? Harnessed, it brings life. Left to play off its leash, it is death. One of the first lessons most of us learn as children is to not get too close to the flame – but we never really listen, do we? Many of my earliest memories are of fire – touching it, not touching it, being scolded for thinking of touching it. My left wrist bears a sizable scar from a run-in with a wood heater as a child. I was skittish around open flame for years, but sorely tempted, all the same. Despite the fact that pain is part of its makeup, fire entices us.

It also lulls us, encourages us to show our shadow side. There is nothing like a story told fireside. The tradition may not be in our DNA, but it can’t be too far off. Any child, telling a ghost story, flashlight pressed up to chin, baby fat bathed in shadows, burgeoning adolescent angles glowing eerily, is a faded photocopy of some long-ago bard.

It’s easy for me to get tangled in fire and tales. And heat. And attraction. All of these things fall into the same pot, I think. I can fall in love with a fire, or by a fire, or with a story, or a storyteller, or a person who talks to me beside a fire, or a person who builds fires. Not a book burner, though. At least I know my boundaries, right?

Today I’ve been thinking of several things that have all gotten jumbled in my memory, and should probably be different stories – and one day might be. But today, they’re the story of my day, and of my life when I was younger, and of endings. Let’s keep it short. Four memories that don’t really tell a story that you’ll recognize, unless you know me. And maybe not even then. Maybe it’s not that kind of day. Pretend that we’re sitting in a pub somewhere, nice and cosy, even though it’s freezing out. We’ve got a prime spot, a cosy little booth across from the wide, welcoming fireplace, logs crackling in the blazing fire that burns therein. I don’t know what you’re drinking, but I have a nice glass of scotch. And I’m telling you a story in four parts. Make of them what you will…

I am 14, and it is my birthday weekend. Once again, my family is at Ft. Branch, attending the yearly Civil War reenactment. It’s Saturday night, and the second year that I’m allowed to dance at the barn dance. Last year, I met a cute boy – his name was Matthew – who asked me to dance (later, I found out it was my father’s idea, and I’ve always wondered if he paid the poor sap to ask me). This year, I’m not sure who I’ll dance with, and am feeling awkward. To my surprise, an older boy, almost a man, steps out of the crowd and asks for the honor of a waltz. Larry and I have so much fun that we end up dancing most of the night. A few months later, we meet again, another reenactment, another barn dance, this one held out in a field. The dance floor is a little dim, lit by far-away campfires. A waltz instructor gives us lessons, and together we’re good enough that for the next few years, we’re dance partners at every barn dance we attend together. He is five years older than me. I’ve just started high school – he’s just started college.

I am 15, and it is Christmas. I’m visiting my grandparents, and Larry and I decide to meet near another fort, this one on the seacoast of North Carolina. He gives me two presents – a delicate, stained glass oil lamp, and a Beatles album on CD. We walk on a beach littered with seaweed and dead jellyfish. It is cold, and desolate, and the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

I am 16, and it is once again my birthday weekend. I’m excited to see Larry, and happy that my parents let me have free reign of the reenactment. I’ve forsaken the petticoats and hoop skirt to costume as a boy, and play at being a nurse in disguise. Larry and his friends are acting as dismounted cavalry, members of the U.S. Army. As soon as everything’s set up at my parents’ campsite, I rush over to hang out with the guys. It’s a crisp fall night, and we sit, basking in the warmth of their campfire. Everything smells of autumn leaves, old leather, tobacco, wood smoke. All around us, campfires and lanterns bathe the little groups of family and friends in sepia circles. Quiet conversations hum beneath the trees. It’s a simple kind of magic. Here I feel grownup, loved. I am Larry’s little sister, and he and his friends are college age, but not neanderthal frat boys – they’re band kids, geeks like me. They watch their language, and don’t drink or smoke while I’m around. Larry has a friend, a boy with a generous smile and sad eyes, James. It’s obvious that Larry’s brought him along to introduce to me, and he was on to something. James and I get to talking about the kinds of things that I love at 16 – Beatles, Chicago, Star Wars, Hitchhiker’s Guide, the Vietnam conflict, airplanes, writing, hats. I am wearing a really great hat this weekend, a straw hat that I’ve folded up into a jaunty tricorn, with a big feather. It’s not accurate, but it suits me, so I don’t particularly care. At the end of the weekend, as the guys are packing up to leave, I hang out with them to say bye. Larry and James joke about the can of Dinty Moore that has been rolling around in the back of Larry’s Suburban since he was in high school. James and I exchange emails, and there’s a little jolt of energy as we hug goodbye. He smiles. I walk away feeling pretty good about myself.

I am 16, and it’s ten days after my birthday. I’m in English class, and the guidance counselor calls me out of class. There’s been a phone call, she explains. Something has happened. Someone has passed away. I am as tall as the guidance counselor. I’ve never liked her, and now I see that I am taller than she is, and for some reason it makes me like her even less. She isn’t being clear, and I am annoyed. What is this about? She takes my hand, and I steel myself for the worst – an ancient great-aunt must have kicked the bucket. There’s nothing else that I can imagine at this point in my life. Grandparents don’t die, and I’m fresh out of great-grandparents, and obviously parents live forever, so what are we talking, here? And why would she call me out of my favorite class? She’s asking me if I understand. Understand what? She hasn’t told me anything yet, just that there’s been a phone call, and that it was my friend Larry, and that James – James with the sad eyes and that stupid, scraggly hair – 19-year-old James, with that deep laugh, and the cigar he was never going to actually smoke – James who was going to ask me out when he got up the nerve – has been murdered. James is gone. James is dead. He won’t be calling me, after all. My legs give out. My spine liquifies. My forehead kisses the cold, filthy tile floor there in the hallway by the freshmen lockers. The guidance counselor, inefficient as always, runs off to find help. I crawl to the bathroom, where I jumble in a corner, sobbing, until my favorite teacher comes to gather me up and piece me back together again.

The stories are over. I’ve finished my scotch. We should say goodnight. The fire burns low. For now, let’s do our best to ignore the thought that the flames live by their own law. Let’s pretend for just one night that we’ve harnessed them, and not they us.

 

Thoughts on 2017 Resolutions

I haven’t thought my resolutions all the way through yet, but didn’t want to not say something on the first of the year. I’m just going to use this blog post to jot down a few things that I know I’m going to focus on doing, and then come back and do a more formal post in a couple of days.

My biggest goal of the year is to be kind to my body. Not indulgent to my body, or easy on my body – to shower it with love, and take care of it in such a way that it will last me for the long haul. I want to spend the year doing what’s best to bring health and wholeness to this bag of skin and bones that carries my brain around. I want to take off the extra weight, make sure my organs are working efficiently, and heal the few reoccurring issues (blemishes, itchy patches, all the little weird tics that that I have, but never pay attention to with diligence).

I want to sleep at least 8 hours a night. I used to think that I was oversleeping, but since I got my Fitbit and started paying attention to my sleep patterns, it turns out that I’ve been drastically overestimating how much I slept each day. On average, I’m getting about 6 hours of sleep a night, when I know that I work best at between 9 and 10 hours of sleep. This has to change.

Working out is a must, and I just joined a new gym about a block from my work, so I can go there after work at least five days a week from now on, starting tomorrow.

I want to read 50+ books this year, and I should be able to do that by cutting back on Facebook and TV, reading before bed, plus bringing my Kindle to work to read during lunch.

I’d also like to find a way to not just survive, but thrive, with only one full time job. I honestly don’t know if that’s a possibility, but it would be great to get to work less. Who knows, I might even get more time to sleep, work out, and read!

That’s all I’ve got for the moment, but I’ll be thinking this over for the next few days, to create something a bit more formal…

 

What I Read in 2016

You might have noticed that I have a tab at the top of the page called “Reading List 2017.” Last year I had “Reading List 2016,” and so forth and so on. What’s weird is that I could swear I used to have an additional link somewhere to all of my old reading lists…need to get that added back on. No use recording what I read if I’m just going to chuck the list at the end of the year.

Anyway, my yearly goal is to read one book a week, and this year was NOT a great success. But I just won a Kindle at my office Christmas party, so maybe I’ll have a good excuse to read some lighter fare off of the 99 cent list on Amazon this year. Plus, for every book that I finished this year, there’s at least one book that I started and have yet to finish, so if I can get my act together, hopefully those will pad my 2017 list. Let’s cross our fingers!

Either way, what is done is done, and what was done in 2016 was a grand total of 15 books read. Holy crap, that’s sad. But let’s turn it into something fun by charting out what types of things I was interested in this year, and comparing it to last year’s numbers! Here’s my blog post recounting what I read in 2015, along with a handy little pie chart of the genres I devoured in 2015. I read 35 books, but for the purpose of this chart, where the genres overlapped, I counted them again:

2015ReadingList

And here’s the list of what I read in 2016:

  1. Birthright, Vol. 1: Homecoming, by Joshua Williamson, Andrei Bressan & Adriano Lucas (1/9/16)
  2. Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine, by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Valentine De Landro (1/9/16)
  3. Pulpatoon Pilgrimage, by Joel Priddy (1/9/16)
  4. Tales of the Cairds, by Anne Cameron (1/12/16)
  5. The Story of My Tits, by Jennifer Hayden (2/14/16)
  6. Mystic, Vol. 1: Rite of Passage, by Ron Marz, Brandon Peterson, John Dell, Andrew Crossley & Dave Lanphear (3/5/16)
  7. Mystic, Vol. 2: The Demon Queen, by Ron Marz, Brandon Peterson, John Dell & Andrew Crossley (3/5/16)
  8. Harbinger, by Joshua Dyshart, Arturo Lozzi, Khari Evans, Lewis LaRosa & Matthew Clark (3/23/16)
  9. Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson (3/29/16)
  10. Doctor Woman of the Cumberlands, by May Cravath Horton (7/6/16)
  11. The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion (7/28/16)
  12. Blue Nights, by Joan Didion (8/14/16)
  13. Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me, by Ian Morgan Cron (9/18/16)
  14. Pioneer Doctor: The Story of a Woman’s Work, by Mari Graña (11/12/16)
  15. Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality, by Jacob Tomsky (11/12/16)