Saturday, July 11, 2009

Camera, frustration & Chili

In a classic example of why being good with my hands serves me well I was gifted a camera yesterday.  The camera in question had fallen out of a second story window.  When it was retrieved, the lens wouldn't retract.  The camera was declared busted, but I still wanted to examine it.  Upon handling it I realized that the telescoping lens was out of square with the camera body.  On impulse, I pushed on it to see if it would go back to the right place.  It did.  The camera now fixed, I returned it to the owner, Austin.  It came up in conversation (I asked about the price of the camera) that  I needed a camera and, since this one had been a gift and he had a better one at home, Austin gave me the camera he had been going to throw away.  Huzzah!!  To celebrate here are pictures of the Turquoise Pendant from earlier and a new Mother of Pearl Pendant that I Made the other day with 26 gauge wire that I think is steel.  

Moo cards are not exactly my friend.  It appears that they inflate by 5% and crop the edges of the images which are designed to be the perfect size.  I speculate that this has to do with the printing and cutting process not being exact, but I sure would have appreciated some warning.  After some experimentation I found an image size that, after being inflated and cropped, was what I wanted.  I quickly (read: sloppily) made sure that my designs had borders so the process could be inexact and not give me cards with big white stripes and then made my final order.  The first one I had to get customer service to cancel after they were slow acknowledging that their system won't just print the cards how I wanted (long, frustrating e-mail conversation).  I'll update on the accuracy of their printing and my work around when the cards arrive.

I'm Making Chili today.  Food, and cooking, is one of the few truly universal human activities and experiences.  The ability to consistently Make good food is unquestionably a worthwhile goal to pursue.  Hopefully I'm on my way there!  I'm using a recipe that my Dad gave me off the top of his head one day.  It's a pretty basic recipe, well, compared to some I've seen, and has a good bit of meat in it (extra tonight because I was sold .15 lbs more meat than I asked for).  I like the simple aspect of it.  The recipe is just red beans, meat, garlic, onion and tomatoes with seasoning of Tabasco Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce (mine is, entertainingly, vegan), chili powder, cumin and two bay leaves.  Well, and water (the only part of this dish not environmentally appropriate since it comes from the Hetch Hetchy Dam).  All of my ingredients here are organic and I got the tomatoes last Sunday at the Farmer's Market.  The recipe actually calls for some tomato paste to (I think) thicken it up, but I opted to just add extra tomatoes (I bought more than I needed) and boil it down.  The meat is ground Bison.  

The guy at the deli counter when I went and bought my ground meat today didn't know it by that name though.  I had to ask for 'Buffalo.'  I prefer to say Bison, because a buffalo is a different animal.  I also strongly prefer Bison to Beef  for a variety of reasons.  Bison are native to North America, a threatened species, better for the land they graze on, impossible to pen into feed lots, and won't freeze to death as cows periodically do.

I didn't know this morning that I was going to make Chili.  I hadn't soaked beans, so I had to quick soak them (simmer briefly and let stand for about an hour) and I had to go out and get the ground Bison.  I came home and started the Chili.  Boiled the beans in water with a little Tabasco and Worcestershire.  I chopped and sautéed the garlic and onions and put them aside so I could cook the bison in the same skillet.  Sometimes I'll toss the meat in with the onions, but I was worried it would overflow my skillet.  2.15 lbs is a lot of meat!  I might make it with less than the recipe calls for next time.  When the meat was cooked, with some chili and cumin in it, everything went into the pot with the beans.  Except the tomatoes, which I quartered (they're small tomatoes) before I put them in the pot.  Boiled it for a while and then went at the tomato quarters with the back of a wooden spoon.  After crushing the tomatoes it got a good bit soupier, which I liked because it let me turn up the heat some to cook everything together more.  (I don't know if a higher temperature actually helps the flavors meld, but I feel better.)  After a while I turned down the heat, unfortunately I wasn't watching it enough and it got a little sticky on the bottom.  The chili thickened up pretty quick and I took it off the heat.  This batch ended up being pretty spicy, which is exciting!  Image of Chili!!

For those of you who care – I am responding to comments and trying to entice you into conversation.  I understand if you want to elude me.


  1. I refuse to enter into a conversation with you Zeke!

  2. Wire constraining stone... suspended by simple dull metal beads? To me, they look imprisoned. Even if you chose to bind the stones in wire, wouldn't leather, or satin be more fitting for the neck that you chose to place the pendant upon?

    Then it is more of a statement. Placing the beauty of nature in bondage, in what becomes a beautiful adornment for your lady or yourself.

    I like the idea of "making". I am interested in reading more.

  3. Kes, you bring up an interesting point. In a way they are imprisoned, taken from nature and pressed into serving our aesthetic sensibilities. And yet, humankind has always used the natural world to both please and sustain us. (Though that construction breaks down if you don't believe that humanity is separate from the natural world.)

    Satin or leather would unquestionably be more fitting in creating beautiful adornment, but that is not often why I wear necklaces. There is a raw utility in the ball chain strands that I enjoy, if even occasionally relish. Yes, jewelry is inherently adornment, but the purpose of adornment is not always beauty. I often wear necklaces to communicate a particular attitude or thought or to be a conversation starter or to test how people will react to it. Yet I can't help but be drawn to your point, that satin or leather strands may well be preferable in some cases.

    The sentence – "Placing the beauty of nature in bondage, in what becomes a beautiful adornment" – keeps catching my eye. If you read this I would appreciate you teasing out and explicating what you mean some.