Lots has changed for me in the last several months (for example, being on the other side of the Atlantic), and I’ve finally up and moved to my own domain.

While the focus there has changed a little, my interests have not, so there’s still going to be talk of food and knitting and SF…just from a cultural perspective.  So I welcome you to keep an eye on Expatriate Games.  It’ll be fun.


It’s probably a testament to how busy things have been at work and at home of late that I found the time to actually cook something and take a few snapshots, then sit on it for six weeks without processing the photos and writing it up.  Talk about your grade A fail.

That said, anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I’m still here and still have a lot to say.  Everyone’s welcome!  Even if Twitter seems somewhat self-indulgent, the realm of celebs and news sources and people who like to hear themselves talk…I still think it’s a good thing.  It helps me think.

sour grapes? not quite.

sour grapes? not quite. definitely a must for chicken tikka marsala.

But yes, I have been knitting and cooking, and as I said, six weeks ago, inspiration struck via my absolute favorite foodblog, Thursday Night Smackdown.  (Can I have two seconds to rave about TNS?  Michelle’s straightforward, frank about everything–food, celebrity chegs, television, her struggles with mental illness, lousy shots from her camera–and just a really enjoyable smartass, period.)  Cooking something new, from the book, isn’t something I do on a regular basis, either from energy or trouble, but a weeknight and the house to myself meant it was time to buckle down.  I just didn’t put it up in time to be on TNS, but that’s cool.  She’s doing Hobo Mondays now, and one of these days I may just have to duck out of my SNB and give it a try.

Inspiration strikes and sometimes you just can’t duck it, and truth was, I wasn’t just inspired by visions of blog roundups–I missed curry.  Not real curry, mind, just chicken tikka marsala, in the form of the 99p frozen dinner I got in Glasgow when I was studying there in 2005.  Milwaukee has a few good Indian restaurants, but they’re not exactly takeaway caliber, more sit-down and spend $15 on your entree caliber.  Which is good in itself, but not when you’re trying to save money for graduate school and don’t feel like going out on a Thursday because CSI is on (and I keep trying to quit CSI and just can’t).


the infamous action shot. Mom would like credit for the stove.

Matt had sent Mom Jamie Oliver’s latest, only out in Britain, for Christmas, as Jamie is the patron saint of adorable cookery in this house, never to be overthrown.  And since I knew anything with chicken and curry wouldn’t be tops on her list, I commandeered Jamie’s Ministry of Food, marketed as a cookbook for people new to cooking.  Fairly simple, a little complex if you make the curry paste from scratch as I did, but not hard to do.

And it’s good.  Surprisingly good.  Everyone always talks about Jamie Oliver and ‘big flavors’, and it’s pretty true.  My only complaint is that the meat and veg doesn’t really taste like much–the sauce is the real flavor source.  I might consider browning them a little more before continuing with the process and adding the cream and tomatoes.

and the final product, with tumeric flavored rice.

and the final product, with tumeric flavored rice.

Admittedly, I played a little fast and loose with the recipe–right, way to go, forgetting to buy fresh coriander even if it’s available all year round, and subbing in cream for coconut milk.  The latter turned out to be a good plan, as it’s pretty close to too sweet otherwise.  In making it again a second time (but with pork), I did get the fresh coriander and fresh chilies and that improved the sweetness factor, cutting through it nicely.

Once you get down the process and cut through the British cooking terminology (which…I guess wouldn’t be an issue if you were British), Jamie’s chicken tikka doesn’t take too much time, isn’t too costly save in herb/spice investment, and, I suppose most importantly, is wicked tasty.  It fixes my cravings, at least, and what better rec can I give?

There are several other curry recipes in Jamie’s Ministry of Food, all of which appear to be similarly workable.  The book might not make it over in this form, though–all of the concepts, testing families, etc. are very British and wouldn’t translate well.  Even so, it’s a gorgeous cookbook, and I highly recommend it if you can get a hold of a copy.

Just a little note to let everybody know that this blog is still here and still open! I’ve done a bunch of knitting and a bunch of eating and a bunch of reading, but December has been crazily busy.

Anyhow, welcome to 2009. You should be warned that I may be moving to my domain at some point in the near future, as I was recently told that my webhost is offering WP gratis. Stay tuned.

Well, it looks like this winter’s going to be another nightmarish one here in Wisconsin. We’re suffering under the indignity of a third snow, and the winter solstice hasn’t even hit yet. Even so, my knitting quota’s gone way down, as has my energy to do much besides grad school apps, a not-very-successful stab at Nanowrimo, and vague wedding plans. Go me?

Oh, and the election. Which turned out fairly well.

Personally, I think my pioneer ancestors showed up here in Wisconsin sometime in mid-May, during the two weeks that the weather here isn’t miserably hot or miserably cold, and thought things were great. By the time they figured out the tornadoes and ice storms were rampant, it was too late. In all honesty, I know people who aren’t from the Midwest write about how much they hate the cold and think we all deal with it so well. Truth is, we who deal with cold regularly complain about it just as much and don’t deal with it properly at all. No one likes weather extremes, except for the crazies like my brother who revel in snowfall…because they don’t really have to shovel it.

I have been doing a little reading though, working my way through my third read of Ursula K. LeGuin’s epic Always Coming Home, after Liz Henry read it recently and blogged on the topic. I have to confess I’m a big sucker for worldbuilding. Either detail your world or detail a character, and I may just fall for your novel. Always Coming Home is so beautifully done that I can’t help but love it, and this time I feel that I might have picked up something more from it than I have before–reading it less as a story and more from a cultural perspective, which is perhaps the point.  I don’t really believe it’s an inappropriate appropriation of Native culture, but I’m not really the one to judge.

Am I allowed to say ‘inappropriate appropriation’, or is it bad English?

Anyhow, I should get back to the small amount of gifty knitting I’m up to. How do you deal with snow? Do you like snow? If you do, can I ship you ours?

In blog-surfing recently and going through those 100 foods lists, I came across one that I really liked (namely because it didn’t seem snobby): 100 Canadian Foods to Consume. Those of you who aren’t casual readers know full well that I’m not Canadian, so it’s sort of a moot point for me to fill that one out, but it did bring up a few thoughts about what the heck I’d put on a Milwaukee foods list, and why.

Except I don’t think I could come up with 100 unique things. I haven’t tried nearly enough of the different things you can get here in town (like pączki), or really want to recommend (like braunschweiger). So I decided to come up with a few of my favorites that are, in my mind anyway, worth your time. Possibly worth eating/drinking before you die. Dunno, that’s up to you…

– bratwurst, grilled, on a bun
– Leinenkugel’s craft beer
– cheesecake from Suzy’s or dessert from Simma’s
– vegetarian chili from Outpost
– Door County cherries
– venison sausage
– Sprecher root beer
– fresh cheese curds
brandy old fashioned
– State Fair cream puff
– battered fried smelt or perch
– beer cheese soup
– frozen custard
– burek
– chimichangas with cheese
– sauerkraut

Any other suggestions?

I swear I have knit things and baked things and done things, but I just can’t seem to bring myself to blog about them. Mostly because I’m not really sure how much any of you all want to hear about cupcakes, which I didn’t even make entirely from scratch–though I did use a Newman’s Own chox bar in honor of that great man. Delicious.

To be perfectly honest, I haven’t thrown myself into much of anything lately except grad school prep and following politics and the stock market (more on that shortly). I’m irritated with my old workhorse of a camera, which is nearly four years old; while it was a good little mule back at Christmas ’04, it’s definitely less than awesome today, considering blog photography is so focused on close shots and details. Uploading and processing in Photoshop to get anything remotely ready for the web takes ages even on my MacBook, and I’m entirely too familiar with the Smart Sharpen tool.

Unfortunately, even with my birthday and Christmas coming up, the economy’s far too messy for me to be putting a Canon SLR on my list, especially when I just bought myself a laptop five months ago. Oddly, despite the craziness on Wall Street, I feel an odd urge to Go Buy Things today, though. Just not a $600 camera.

Brief shoutout review: I’m reading the ’06 Year’s Best SF, and I have to say that Robert Charles Wilson needs to write more about the Dominion universe he’s created in Julian: A Christmas Story. Like, he needs to do it yesterday. The combination of 19th century mores and style with a post-apocalyptic setting that is not steampunk? I can totally get down with that.

ETA: If I had adequately Googled, I would have found that Wilson is in the process of expanding Julian into a full novel.  Ace!

I’m eagerly following the election, despite how painful it is to get slammed right and left with campaign ads–the blessing of living in a swing state, I suppose. I’ve watched all three debates, but I haven’t found the time to get over to the Obama campaign office and get a button and yard sign because I’m sure they’d make me call people or something. Trust me, Barack Obama does not want me calling people for him. And while I don’t care to go into politics too deeply at the moment, I was pretty much appalled at what I heard about some people at the McCain/Palin rally here yesterday. Apparently the MSM is lying about polling numbers, apparently Democrats are all socialists, and we are all doomed. I’m down with people being conservative. But I’m not down with people talking that level of crap about the media. Is the media biased? Definitely. But flat out lying? That’s just crazy talk.

Oh, and the WBC is here protesting gay rights, which is ridiculous. They don’t have anything better to do, clearly…not to mention that we started a GSA at my high school without any flap back in ’01. Clearly suburbia is not their target.

Anyway, though I’m doing Nanowrimo in November (god help us) I’ll still be twittering like crazy. And probably knitting up a storm, now that the chill’s upon us and the frost is on the…well, no pumpkins at my place yet.

A couple of links to keep you entertained while I try to come up with some content, because the only knitting I really did in the last several days was A Sekrit.  For the person who came here via Google looking for info on why the Delhi Cafe on Bluemound closed–I have no idea, sadly.  A darn shame, is all I can say.

Gild the Voodoolily is my fav foodblog of late, alongside thursday night smackdown.  Attitude is everything.

I broke my lurking on Cakespy to suggest a few places for them to stop here in the MKE.  Not sure if they took my word for it on Simma’s or if the Cupcake Queen and the folks at Reiman Publications were the impetus, but boy howdy, they found some good places here that I didn’t even know about, and I’ve lived here (save college) for about twenty years.  Glad to see they got pączki at National Bakery!

Knitty’s fall issue is as good as you’ve heard.  Go forth, admire.  Just don’t ask me to make anything for you, I’m on a spending diet this month after replacing my rear brakes last week.

My secret love of parentblogs is now revealed in me telling you how much I enjoy the Bloggess.  Her surreality is just that darn funny.  Her posts and Bossy’s posts seriously improve my Google Reader blues when the political and feminist news threaten to overwhelm me.

Over on Rav, we’re blaming everything that’s gone wrong lately on the Large Hadron Collider, by the way.  Personally, I’m thinking it’s the cause of the Decline and Fall of the Milwaukee Brewers.