First World Problems, indeed.

It’s a bummer of a day when all of these happen.

I was talking to myself, and my self replied, “That’s a stupid question.”

I pulled up a batch of volunteer tomato plants because they came up in the area in which I want to plant tomatoes next year. I told myself, “It’s October!” in order not to feel guilty for failing to transplant them.

I’m still dizzy, cause unknown, and yesterday’s ER visit had limited success. Limited in that I mean the testing ruled out stroke or brain tumor, but didn’t find the cause of the dizziness. Stiff neck improved with medication, so that ruled out another angle that might have meant some really painful and icky testing. I’m relieved, at least, for crossing those possibilities off the list.

On the good side, I’m still able to laugh. I heard a Miami Dolphins coach talk about building a quality team, and then I saw Jay Cutler at starting quarterback. How could I not laugh?

But then I remembered that Jay Cutler has a job, and Colin Kaepernik doesn’t. That, my friends, is sad. It’s a First World Problem, indeed, but that doesn’t excuse the implicit racism in the situation.

This dizziness makes it hard to pick tomatoes and water plants. I use one tomato support for balance while I pick tomatoes with the other hand. But then I don’t have a hand to hold the container for the tomatoes. Tough life for a gardener, indeed.

Watering plants involves too much bending and turning for my dizzy head. It’s a bummer because the remaining tomatoes need water, the beans are still growing and need water, and the rain barrels are all relatively full.

Speaking of rain barrels, we have three. I filled out the application for a one-time credit on our water bill, and we received a note from the Powers That Be that they needed more information. They included an aerial shot of our house and asked us to indicate where the rain barrels were and how the barrels fit into the storm water flow. The picture was outdated, so Chuck put in a few updates (like the new garage and the second garden plot and the updated landscaping) and indicated all the necessary information. None of that information was mentioned on the application for the rain barrel credit in the first place.

And there you have it, readers. I’m grateful for MRI technology, and I hope my insurance considers the testing necessary. The ER doctor did. In the meantime, I’ll quietly recover, hopefully, from whatever illness inspired this post full of rants.

 

Playoffs! And the Giants are Coming to Town!

The New York Giants are coming to the Frozen Tundra sometime today for a game tomorrow. No snowstorm this week, so Eli Manning and company won’t have to worry about sliding off the runway like Minnesota did two weeks ago. In fact, Amigo remembers a weekend many years ago when the opposition (he’s pretty sure it was the Giants) was snowed in and had to spend a second and maybe third night in their hotel. Maybe it was this game.

Then there was the year when word got out that Manning’s favorite television show was Seinfeld, and the local Fox affiliate decided to show something else in place of the usual rerun on Saturday night. In an attempt to psych out the visiting quarterback, they played an ancient black and white special on Vince Lombardi. Only in Packerland, my friends, only in Packerland do we take our football so seriously that it changes the television schedule – on Saturday.

We’re planning to Eat the Opponent with a choice we’ve made in the past: Jersey Bagels. We’ll be supporting a local business, getting something delicious, and showing our Packer spirit at the same time. The Giants play their games in New Jersey, after all, not New York.

I’m dressed up in one of my warmest and coziest Packer sweaters with a green/yellow patterned turtleneck underneath. It’s cold, cold, cold tonight. The Giants will face temperatures not quite as bad; the thermometer is due to rise above zero Fahrenheit tomorrow. Highs might even reach the teens. Go! Pack! Go!

From two years ago – what a difference.

Two years ago, the garden had officially succumbed to the freezing temps overnight. Today, I was outside in my Wisconsin Badgers tee shirt, turning soil and enjoying the huge blooms on the marigolds.

The election was nearly over (and I was worried). We’re a few days away from Election Tuesday. I’m worried sick. This election – it’s so unreal that it’s scary.

So what’s next? How did Compost Happens find a way to continue without politics or gardening on the topic list? Ha-ha. As if I’m ever at a loss for words!

Don’t worry, friends, family, and fans. There is still almost half of the NFL season to go. You’ll read the reactions of the O.K. Chorale as the Packers do their best to protect their best – Aaron Rodgers, that is. I might even post the results of our Eating the Opponent tradition. Indiana corn chowder (with bacon) and bacon cheeseburgers tonight as we prepare to meet the Colts on Sunday. if you were curious.

The garden was a simple pile of dirt and scattered straw two years ago. This year, like 2015, there’s a lot of green in the yard, providing a beautiful backdrop to the multi-colored leaves falling from the neighbor’s maples. In fact, I turned soil today and pulled up rogue grass roots to make room for a row of walking onions.

I still have a small tray full of green-turning-red and even more green-turning yellow tomatoes. I have enough ripe tomatoes to add to salads and BLTs for a little while longer.

As for the election results – I’m sure there will be reactions, good or bad, from the family here at the Chorale or from our favorite time traveler, Grandma Daisy.

What to write? Blog fodder? No shortage here, folks. As my favorite quarterback said a couple years back, R-E-L-A-X. I’m not going away any time soon.

Season of Slow Cooking

Summary of the first week in my Season of Slow cooking:

Sunday’s multi-task:

  • Eating the Opponent – Minnesota, Chili with elk meat
  • New Crock Pot!

I learned how to set the new crock and found a valuable feature: when the time I’ve set for High or Low is done, the unit automatically switches to Warm. I know I’m going to like this.

Ground elk is easy to cook and resembles ground beef enough that it was a direct replacement in my chili recipe. My research showed that game meats are popular in Viking country, much like they are in Packerland. I wasn’t sure if Minnesot’ns add noodles to their chili the way we do in Wisconsin, so I stuck with basic chili instead of chili mac.

Results: Delicious. Game results: we won’t talk about it. Deep sigh.

During the first week back to school, I didn’t use the crock port very much. Instead, I put together suppers that were easy to make in the hour or two after I come home from school. In fact, on Friday I gave in to the exhaustion of the first week of January and went to a local pub for supper. Fish fry, lobster bisque soup (is that redundant?), and a tall margarita to quench my thirst – a perfect way to end the week. Next week, it’s back to normal mealtimes; the crock pot will be in the cooking cycle again.

Baking the Opponent – leftovers

Actual conversation at the O.K. Chorale – as I measured out ingredients for a half batch of Mississippi Mud Cake for Eating the Opponent, St. Louis —

Me: I’m going to have a lot of marshmallows leftover. Do you know what that means?

Amigo: S’mores?

Me: Rhubarb upside down cake.

Chuck: I was thinking Rice Krispie bars.

Me: We don’t have any Rice Krispies.

Chuck: I can fix that. Amigo, add Rice Krispies to the shopping list.

Yep, they were preparing the grocery list, and they added the key ingredient for the bars. I might have enough for the rhubarb upside down cake, too. It was a large bag of marshmallows to begin with. This might be the last rhubarb harvest, so it would feel good to make something good with it.

Eating the Opponent: St. Louis

If the Packers play the Rams often enough, I might be convinced to invest in a small home fryer for making fried ravioli. This time, though, we stuck with what we know we can make.

The neighborhood meat market had pork steaks on sale (coincidence? we think not), so Chuck grilled up a batch of St. Louis style pork steaks with an amazing marinade. He boiled up fresh corn from the farmers’ market and some of my freshly harvested carrots and parsnips. Oh, those veggies were good.

I made a St. Louis Mississippi Mud Cake – delicious. Absolutely delicious.

Frankly, between our menu and Aaron Rodgers’ arm, the Rams don’t stand a chance.

Eating the Opponent goes Purple

It was a day that wasn’t quite going right – a day to make the best of less-than-average situations. I decided to make our Eating the Opponent San Francisco from scratch instead of going to the store. We combined a home-made rice-a-roni style dish with a simple fish pan fried in butter to suggest Fisherman’s Wharf. I picked a few carrots, parsnips, and one turnip from the garden to enhance the rice-pasta dish. Rice and vegetables could cook well together, I thought.

The carrots were purple. The rice became purple, too.

Purple rice

Purple rice

It was delicious. After cooking in chicken broth, then adding a little maggi sauce, onion, garlic, and despite its hue, we enjoyed every bite.

I must remember these carrots when we play the Minnesota Vikings.

To Market, To Market – the Meat Market, that is

Saturday’s usual downtown farmers’ market took a week off while the downtown held the fall festival we call Octoberfest. I dropped Amigo at his barbershop chorus’ booth where he volunteered as food prep, wrapping hot dog and hamburger buns in napkins. As we arrived, the guys already on site were singing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” to a young woman who had just bought a hamburger.

I left to the tune of “On, Wisconsin” played by the nearby polka band, and Chuck and I stopped at the neighborhood meat market. We love this place. We can wander back to the butcher’s counter and discuss our Eating the Opponent menus and ask for their advice. We came home with this.

Saturday Market

Saturday Market

Okay, I admit it. We didn’t just buy meat. We bought the meat for KC style chili, I picked up a container of hot beef and two mini-lasagnas for those days when I don’t have time or energy to cook. The bread, a good nuts & twigs variety, was day-old and on clearance. What else? Oh, ham salad for Chuck – he just had a tooth pulled, and he’s eating soft and smooth whenever he can.

No fresh vegetables – at least not from this market. My living room and dining room are full of tomatoes in various stages of ripeness. I predict salads and BLTs and anything else that uses tomatoes on our menus this week.

Okay, readers. Do you have a creative way to use tomatoes? I’ll take suggestions.

 

Happiness – for gardeners & canning fiends

Happiness, simple pleasures, you name it – it’s all in how you see it. For an avid gardener and one who cans, an autumn Sunday brings simple pleasures such as these.

Tomatoes - enough to make salsa

Tomatoes – enough to make salsa

canning jars in the perfect size and shape for salsa

canning jars in the perfect size and shape for salsa

Good coffee - for a good reason.

Good coffee – for a good reason.

A good reason to pick up Starbucks Pike Place blend coffee: Eating the Opponent, Seattle. Go! Pack! Go!

 

Playoffs!!

As seen on Facebook:

Division Title

shared by at least five on my timeline

“In the tundra, the freezing tundra, the Lions sleep tonight!” – posted by a coworker.

Jordy Nelson responds to his new record, passing Robert Brooks to gain a season-high receiving yardage of more than 1500. “Truly an honor. Couldn’t have done it without my teammates and your support.”

Then there's this guy.

Then there’s this guy. (posted by at least four people on my timeline)

Who is he? He’s not wearing green and gold. His colors are that of stadium staff or security – or maybe part of a TV crew. Whoever he is, I hope he’s available after the bye week. Hey, it’s only weird if it doesn’t work.