Monday, January 30, 2006

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

My friend, June, asked me for this recipe.

I know some of you are doing Tech's Great Slim Down, and this would be difficult for you without a lot of those tradeoffs I talked about on that blog. So, tomorrow, I'll post my Skinny Fried Chicken recipe for you all to try.

Ingredients:
8 whole chicken thighs
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups flour
4 tablespoons seasonings
1/2 cup peanut oil

Instructions:
1. Heat oven to 200º F. Put a wire rack on a baking sheet.

2. Wash and dry the chicken thighs. Put in a bowl. Pour the buttermilk over the chicken. Mix so the chicken is covered. Marinate 1-4 hours, turning the chicken occasionally.

3. Combine the flour and seasonings in a plastic bag or a pie plate. Heat the oil in a skillet with high sides until 375º F. One at a time, drain the buttermilk from the chicken thighs, coat with flour mixture and put, skin side down, in the pan. Cook 2-3 minutes, until browned. Turn over and brown other side.

4. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Turn the chicken over and cook 20 minutes longer, turning after 10 minutes.

5. Place, skin-side up, on wire rack and put in oven to drain and keep warm while you cook the next batch. Let the last batch drain on the rack for a few minutes before serving.

Notes:
1. You can substitute any equivalent amount of chicken parts for the 8 thighs.

2. Use whatever seasonings you want and adjust the amount to your taste. They can be as simple as salt and pepper or you can use a preblended spice mix or mix whatever spices you have on hand that you like. Adjust the amount of flour and seasonings to coat the amount and size of chicken pieces you're using. Don't flour the chicken ahead of time. Do each piece right before you put it in the pan. So, if you're doing more than one batch, leave the chicken in the buttermilk until you're ready to cook it. (Trust me on this. If you flour it ahead of time, it doesn't get as crispy and if it's not crispy, why bother?)

3. You can marinate the chicken overnight or do it in the morning and refrigerate it all day, if you want. But you don't need to do it that long for the recipe to turn out fine.

4. You'll have to adjust the amount of the oil according to the size of your pan. It should be about an inch deep. Some recipes call for putting enough oil to be halfway up the sides of the pan, but that's too much if your pan is more than two inches deep. It's Ok if you don't have a thermometer. You want the oil very hot, but not smoking.

5. You can double or halve this recipe easily. Just make sure you have enough buttermilk to coat/cover the chicken. And adjust the amount of flour & seasonings to coat the amount of chicken you're cooking. You can use more than one rack/baking sheet and put them on multiple racks in you oven to keep warm, if you're making a large batch. If you're making enough chicken to need to cook it in more than two batches, change the oil every other batch. Don't cook more than two batches with one pan of oil. You don't want to burn the chicken or your kitchen, both of which occur more easily if you overuse the oil.

Mangia!

Uber Challenge update:

  • I've so gotten out of the habit of doing Morning Pages. I need to make a point of doing them today.
  • I'm going to do the reading for Lesson Three of the mystery class. This is the last official week of the class. I might get through Lesson Four. We'll see.
  • And I have stuff, like upcoming concert dates, to add to my calendar.
  • Last, I have to go over the music for rehearsal tonight.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Short post

Today I had little time to think of anything to write for my post. I finished the second lesson of the mystery writing course. I'm so far behind. I should have finished that the first week. I miscounted. The class is four weeks, so it's scheduled as 2 lessons per week. I think that's too much work for people who have lives. Apparently, there are people who can get that much done. I'm just not one of them.

It's amazing, though. There are about 500 students in the class. Most of them haven't participated by posting lessons, but a good percentage have. I think that 500 students sells a lot of books for B&N, but it's too many students for a teacher to be able to look at everyone's work, let alone comment on very much of it. So, you're kind of on your own, with some student feedback, if anyone's interested enough to post about your work.

I'm not learning anything new. What I'm getting is reminded of things I need to be reminded of. It's so easy for things to slip through the cracks because a writer has so many balls to juggle as she writes. So it's a good class.

I'm going to go watch some more Angel. My son called me and he implied he'd like his DVDs back soon. I don't know why. I'm taking the second season back home when I bring this one back. So it's not like he's going to be keeping the whole set at his house--at least until after I've watched them all. (evil grin)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Rebel Ice, Galadriel,& the Uber Challenge

I was looking at my list of posts and discovered I never posted this. I'd only gotten the quiz from Tambo's blog, done and never had time to finish writing the post about the Uber Challenge. Also, since I started this post, I've gotten Rebel Ice, and I wanted to talk about that a bit, too. So, here it is, updated with today's stuff.

Rebel Ice

Rebel Ice is the long-awaited next novel in S.L. Viehl's StarDoc series. I haven't finished reading it yet, but I wanted to let everyone know it's out. It came out while I was sleeping off that flu bug a couple of weeks ago. I think that, while I really enjoy everything Sheila's written, her StarDoc series is my favorite.










From Tambo's blog:

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?



Possessing a rare combination of wisdom and humility, while serenely dominating your environment you selflessly use your powers to care for others.

Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.

Galadriel is a character in the Middle-Earth universe. You can read more about her at the Galadriel Worshippers Army.

Uber Challenge

I've had to make some hard decisions about how I'm spending my time, particularly with regard to the mystery class. According to the time estimates, I could do the class by working an hour a day. But it's taking a lot longer than that to do the work well. You can't do a lesson a week and finish, either, because the class is six weeks long and there are eight lessons. I'm thinking that the best way to deal with it is to work for an hour a day and do as much as I can. I won't finish the class on time, but it's free and there's no limit on how many times you can take it. So, rather than push myself to finish on time and do a lousy job, I'm going to sign up again and start working wherever I ended up when the original six weeks are up. I think that plan will allow me to learn the most, which is the whole point.

I purchased and downloaded both Holly's Create a Character Clinic and Sheila's Way of the Cheetah, written under her pseudonym, Lynn Viehl. I'm planning to work through Way of the Cheetah first because it fits neatly into the Uber Challenge. It's about how to become a disciplined and productive writer, and that's pretty much my challenge.

The last thing that's crucial for me to get done is to update and use my calendar. I have a love/hate relationship with databases and spreadsheets. I love the way they make it easier to keep track of stuff. However, I hate the tedious task of having to update them all the time. On the other hand, I worry that I'll miss a rehearsal or something crucial if I don't get my life on the calendar and keep it open on my desktop. My days are too much alike, which makes it really hard to keep track of whether something's happening today or next Wednesday without writing it down.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Miscellaneous Stuff

Naming blog posts is tricky, especially when so many of them are similar. So, I guess you all have to read the post to find out what it's really about.

It's so weird. My last post looks like it was written before it happened because blogger puts the time stamp on when you started writing it, not when you post it. So, the date is last Tuesday, even though I wrote about Wednesday and Thursday, too. I could change it, but I wish they'd change the default and put the time when you actually publish the post. It seems to make more sense that way.

Jean posted about Holly Lisle's Create a Character Clinic and Lynn Viehl's Way of the Cheetah, both on sale now in Holly's new store. Here's a link to her post, because she said everything I'd say, and said it better. I'm looking forward to both books, but particularly Sheila's because it will help with my Uber Challenge. We just have to get paid again before I can buy them.

I'm still a bit tired from that flu. My friend Barbara, who actually knows something about this stuff, said I should expect it to be a few weeks before I'm completely back to my normal energy level. So, I'll be good and take a nap when I need one.

I don't have a lot of stuff planned today. I'm learning to plan a couple of things and if I get them done, then I'm doing well.

  • Work on the current lesson for the mystery writing class.
  • Work on Ladyesong music before rehearsal tonight.
  • Do Jean's crit, which I still haven't gotten done because I've been napping during the only time I've had available to do it.
  • Put this week's list on the calendar

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

This Week

Monday & Tuesday

I'm over the flu and when I can sing a whole song without coughing or needing to blow my nose, I'll be one happy lady.

I've gotten some stuff done, mainly on the mystery writer's course. I'm almost done with the first lesson. There are eight lessons and if all of them take as much time as this one has, I doubt I'll finish in the 6 week time period they've allotted. However, I have all the materials and can take the class a second time, if I need feedback. Or I can just finish on my own.

That's all I got written on Tuesday. I've been kind of in a funk this week. Low energy due to last week's flu. It's one of those that hangs around awhile, but I'm feeling a lot closer to normal now.

Wednesday & Thursday

  • I've got reading for the two classes I'm doing.
  • I need to do a crit for Jean.
  • I need to start my Morning Pages journal again.
  • And clean off my desktop.
I can't find anything. That's enough for today.

I don't like having my blog be a to do list, but right now, it seems like getting things done is my hardest thing. The holidays are over. I'm finally done with the flu. Catching up with things is the main thing on my brain, thus, the to do list.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Catching Up

Happy Friday the 13th

So, does it mean it will be an extra bad day since it's a full moon, too? Not for me. I've always had good luck on Friday the 13ths. How about you? Are you even superstitious?

Flu

I'm feeling much better, thanks.

Uber Challenge

I've been getting some stuff done, despite being sick. I've got most of the reading for the mystery course done. And I've written Morning Pages. It's not a lot, but doing that little bit has helped me to stay focused and not just let it drift off.

Today:

  • Morning Pages
  • Finish Lesson One in the mystery course.
  • Put three things on the calendar


It feels like I should be writing a longer post today, like there's something nagging me in the back of my head. But I don't know what it is. So, rather than padding this further to no good purpose, I'm stopping.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Flu

The cold turned out to be the flu. I spent most of yesterday and last night sleeping off a fever. I'm feeling a bit better. But I'm planning to mostly veg out between naps. See you all when I'm feeling better.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A Duh! Moment & Update on the Uber Challenge

A Duh! Moment:

Your Career Type: Artistic

You are expressive, original, and independent.
Your talents lie in your artistic abilities: creative writing, drama, crafts, music, or art.

You would make an excellent:

Actor - Art Teacher - Book Editor
Clothes Designer - Comedian - Composer
Dancer - DJ - Graphic Designer
Illustrator - Musician - Sculptor

The worst career options for you are conventional careers, like bank teller or secretary.


Ok, so if my talents lie in creative writing, why doesn't it say "Author", not "Book Editor?" But it does say, "The worst career options for you are conventional careers, like bank teller or secretary." DUH!

Uber Challenge Update

I mentioned earlier that I don't want the blog to be "Uber Challenge" only. But I do want to keep track of how I'm doing. Posting about it keeps me on track. I don't procrastinate as much if I'm posting because I know at least one person is following whether I do what I planned or not. I decided the best way to do that is to write a regular post, like I've been doing, and put an update post at the end. Right now, while I rebuild some habits, I'm doing simple posts like quizzes and memes. I have a couple of essays about writing I'm working on, but it's going to be a while before they're done.

I did the Morning Pages yesterday. That's the first habit I want to build, so I'm doing it first each day. I went to the B&N University site and took a look at the course. That took longer than I expected. I didn't have time for the other two things on my list.

Today's list:

  • Write Morning Pages
  • Do the B&N coursework for today.
  • Put the three most critical things on the calendar.
  • Type in two pages of handwritten notes.


That should be doable because I don't have any errands or appointments today.

Monday, January 09, 2006

My Monday Post

Monday:

I'm not a happy camper, as the cliche goes. I've got my third cold since Thanksgiving and I'm doing more sleeping than getting my planned stuff done. It's really annoying because I used to sail through winter with no colds, no flus, nothing. But this year's apparently my year to come down with everything I get exposed to. This will pass and meanwhile, I'll just take smaller baby steps for the Uber Challenge.

Today's baby steps will be:

  • Write Morning Pages
  • Set up the first three things onto my calendar
  • Type two pages of handwritten stuff into the computer
  • Go to the B&N University web site and see what I need to do for the mystery writing class I signed up for.


That's about all I'll have time for, what with taking a nap so I'm not falling asleep on my music stand tonight at Ladyesong rehearsal and getting what I need ready to go. We're changing seasons, so I need to pull up the email and make sure I don't forget anything.

Another Fun Thing From My File:

I have a bunch of fun things I stole from other people's blogs and never got a chance to post. I forgot to note where I got some of them from. If it was your blog, let me know in comments and I'll credit it with a link. Here's one:

Your Birthdate: November 28

Your birth on the 28th day of the month (1 energy) adds a tone of independence and extra energy to your Life Path.
The number 1 energy suggest more executive ability and leadership qualities than you path may have indicated.
A birthday on the 28th of any month gives greater will power and self-confidence, and very often a rather original approach.

Unlike much of the other 1 energy, this birthday is one that endow with the ability to start a job and continue on until it is finished.
You may prefer to use the broad brush, but you can handle details as well.
You are sensitive, but your feeling stay somewhat repressed.
You have a compelling manner that can be dominating in many situations.


Most of this is surprisingly accurate. I don't know if these come out that way because they're so general or what. The only one that's not accurate is my feelings staying repressed. I don't keep my feelings hidden in any way.

So, if you're doing the Uber Challenge, how's it going?

If you do the Birth Date thing--does it fit you?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Uber Challenge Part 2 & Yet Another Quiz

Uber Challenge Part 2

I don't want the blog to become the Uber Challenge blog, but I do want to report my progress for those who may be interested.

I learned a long time ago that the best way to tackle habit changes is with baby steps. So, I'm not trying to do it all at once. I started writing Morning Pages yesterday. I've been making a list for the calendar. It's kind of time-consuming to set up the calendar, but once it's set up, it's easy to maintain. I'm planning to set up the calendar this afternoon, assuming I finish the "life stuff" I need to get done. I have choir rehearsal tonight, so finishing up after dinner isn't an option. Tomorrow will be soon enough, if I don't get it done today.

I have some typing left over from my last couple of handwriting sessions to do before I can do new words. I write the very first draft by hand and then type it into the computer before editing it. My goal is to get all the setup done before Monday. Then I can start writing new words on Monday. I really want to finish chapter 2, now that I'm more than halfway there. I also have some setup and a small change to the end of chapter one to do because chapter 2 made part of chapter 1 no longer make sense.

Another Quiz from Andi

I liked this one. It's simple--one question and all you do is pick the word that appeals to you. I love the Rune I ended up with. It suits where I am in my life. Or maybe it suits my life in general, since I've always strived to grow in all areas of my life.

HASH(0x8e5ff88)
What is your rune stone for today?

brought to you by Quizilla

Here's the meaning:

Berkana - GROWTH
Rebirth A Birch Tree

We grow as the tree grows,
putting out new leaves in Spring.
And through it all, the soul
remains hidden, adding ring upon
ring upon ring.

Normal: Delve into things deeply, with care and awareness. Resistance must be dispersed first, then work may be begun. If you have dark corners, clean them out now. If you need help to cleanse the corners, seek an expert. Only then can the harvest ripen.

Inverted: There is interference with growth now. If you feel disheartened for not taking the right action, relax. You may have the chance to act again. Examine your motives. Are you putting your wants before the wants of others?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Uber Challenge

Jo Leigh has a challenge for writers who want to work on specific areas of their writing. Details are in her blog. I signed up when she posted on Romancing the Blog. The post about the Uber Challenge is dated December 28, 2005.

When I signed up, I hadn't decided what I wanted to work on this year, but I knew I'd figure it out before I had to start doing the challenge. I'd considered doing characters and how to make them real on the page, show their development, etc. But that's not my biggest challenge right now. My biggest challenge right now is regaining the discipline of writing regularly. I was writing regularly, nearly every day, not too long ago. Now I hardly ever write. I know it's at least partly caused by the depression from having lived with my emotionally abusive mother for a year and a half. I know it's partly because during the past two years we've only had three-month temp contracts, so we couldn't count on having income beyond that and make concrete plans to move into an apartment. That uncertainty wears on you. Yet, I'm not usually a depressed person. If a miracle occurs and we get back on our own, with enough money to live on, I'll be so not depressed. But this has affected my writing and I need to systematically try things to deal with it.

It's affected my writing in two ways. First, it makes me think too much about the possibility of earning real money from my writing. That makes me freeze up because I know the statistics on that one happening any time soon. Second, the worry affects the creativity. I don't write my best stuff when I've got worry sitting in the back of my brain. So, rather than try to write with the worry going on, I've let the writing go, hoping each time Paul gets another contract job that it will become a regular job and we can get past this stuff.

I realized that it's making me crazier to not write than to try to deal with this stuff. My hope is that the Uber Challenge will give me a structure and support for my plan. I have three things in my plan at the moment. I'll adjust it if these don't work well for me. The first thing is to get back to writing Morning Pages every day before I start working on my book. The second is to write every day Paul is working. The third is to be more disciplined about using the calendar on my computer to keep track of my writing plan, since I don't usually set word count or page count goals that are easy to keep track of.

Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist's Way suggests that you handwrite, on 8-1/2"x11" paper, 3 pages of anything that comes into your head. You're supposed to do it first thing when you get up in the morning. The theory is that it gets all the junk out of your head and clears it so you can create. She calls that "doing Morning Pages". I've been doing it for a number of years, but during the holidays, I've gotten out of the habit. In the past, it's helped me deal with stress, which is why I picked it as one step in my plan.

I'm planning to write every day Paul works. It's dumb for me to plan to write when Paul's home. Those are the days when everything else has to happen, since I don't have transportation so that I could do some of it after I'm done writing. Paul's been working a lot of overtime, so if he goes in on Saturday, I'll just go ahead and use it as a writing day.

I need to have specific goals for those days. I plan to use my usual "finish this scene" type of goal for most days. But if I'm feeling too overwhelmed or worried or depressed, I have set a backup goal of 500 words. I know that building habits can be hard. I know that when you're building a habit that's long-term, you do slide into your old ways. So, it's important to have a backup plan to get back on track. My backup plan is to catch up on weekends and holidays. The possibility of having to give up some of my limited social time and hubby time is powerful motivation for me to follow my planned schedule. I'm unusual in that I'm an extroverted writer. I can hole up and get the work done, but I have to have things in my life that involve other people afterward or I get cranky.

I've been having a lot of trouble keeping track of what I need to do. Not just writing goals, but with my everyday life. For example, I don't have a desk to keep track of mail and business papers and that stuff. So it's hard to keep track of the few bills and letters and stuff I need to deal with. I lose track of what day it is, especially during the times Paul hasn't been working. I've decided that I need to use the calendar software I have and put everything in it that I have to do, including things like the phone number, if I need to make a phone call. I need to make doing the life stuff as simple as possible. I'm bad at updating software, so my writing goals and records will go on the calendar, too. If I set up an Excel file or something, one or the other won't get updated. But I think I can manage to keep one program up-to-date.

The last step of the plan is to evaluate it on a regular basis. I need to set a time every week to see which parts of the plan I'm following regularly, which, if any, I'm not, and tweak it, if I need to, in order to keep going. That's also the time I'll use to update the calendar for the next week.

That's my plan for the Uber Challenge. If anyone else is doing an Uber Challenge, I hope you finish the whole year and meet your goals. Asking yourself a few questions might help you to be more successful. Have you made a plan? Does it have a backup in it, in case you can't do the original plan? Do you have a way to evaluate your plan and see if it needs tweaking? Those are questions that have helped me in the past when I've worked toward long-term goals. Good luck to us all.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Last Thing Meme

This one's from PBW's blog.

Last Book Read: In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner by Elizabeth George

Last Live Music Show Seen: West Side Story at the American Musical Theater in San Jose.

Last CD Purchased: I hardly ever buy CDs, except I'm a sucker for Christmas music. This Christmas I found a Christmas CD by Barry Manilow on sale for $6.99. Turned out to be a good deal. Even Paul likes it.

Last Thing Cooked: Spaghetti with Italian sausage and mushroom sauce.

Last New Thing Eaten: Teriyaki Chicken Burger at Red Robin

Last Thing Bought: The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Collection. I didn't know it had a $20 discount, so that was a pleasant surprise when they rung it up. It's not actually the very last thing I bought. It's more like the last fun thing I bought. If you consider that my husband bought the shirts for work, then the last thing I bought was a replacement for my electric skillet. I finally found one that was large enough and had about 3"-deep sides. It was on sale, too.

Last Gift Received: A Peet's coffee card from a bunch of online friends who got together and spent mucho bucks so Paul and I could get away from our stressful living situation and spend some time together. I have great friends!

Last Piece of Clothing Bought or Received as a Gift: Sorry, this one's BORING. I needed undies and that's what I bought. Socks are next. lol

Last Embarrassing Experience: Probably the huge sneeze right after our church choir finished the last anthem at the Christmas Eve service.

Last Totally New Experience: The closest I can think of is singing with Ladyesong. I've never sung in an all women's group before.

Last Foreign Country Visited (if any): Does LA count? Joking aside, the only time I've ever been out of the US was when my family spent an afternoon in Tijuana, Mexico on a childhood vacation.

Last New Bird Seen: I have no clue. I think our neighborhood's been taken over by crows and seagulls.

Last Big Achievement: I don't do big achievements. I do tiny ones. So, managing to sing all the concerts and caroling and church services I agreed to do, despite fighting off piggyback colds, is the one that comes to mind.

I'm not tagging anyone specific for this one. If you do it, post a link in the comments. I'd like to see what you came up with.