Memes for a Monday

I know I missed last Monday but I’ve put in a few more this week to make up for it.

Oh do I remember this sort. And that includes the guy who arrived on a snowmobile and was astound that the planes couldn’t take off in a blizzard.

A final thought for the day:

Oops sorry. This just in!

The word for January 30th is:
Clown kloun: [1. noun 2. verb]
1.1 A buffoon or jester who entertains by jokes, antics, and tricks in a circus, play, or other presentation.
1.2 One who jokes and plays tricks.
1.3 A coarse, rude, vulgar person; a boor.
2. To play or behave like a buffoon or jokester.
1560s, clowne, also cloyne, “man of rustic or coarse manners, boor, peasant,” a word of obscure origin; the original form and pronunciation are uncertain. Perhaps from a Scandinavian dialect (compare Icelandic klunni “clumsy, boorish fellow;” Swedish kluns “a hard knob; a clumsy fellow,” or from Low German (compare North Frisian klönne “clumsy person.” )

What’s Cooking

Rachel Roddy contributes from A Kitchen in Rome to The Guardian Lifestyles section regularly. Often the recipes reflect the size and equipment of her typical Italian apartment kitchen: limited storage space, a half-size refrigerator, a small oven and four elements on a stove top. They also reflect the seasonality and availability of fresh produce and the proximity of a butcher. This recipe was the result of chicken thighs she found at the butcher’s downstairs from her apartment.

It’s one pan, it’s tasty and all the ingredients should be readily available.

Baked Chicken and Potatoes with Lemon and Rosemary
From Rachel Roddy at A Kitchen in Rome
Serves: 4 as a main course or 8 at a buffet
Prep Time: 50 minutes (including 45 minutes marinating)
Cooking Time: 55 minutes

1.2 kgs chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
5 potatoes peeled and quartered
1 large lemon or two small ones
150 ml olive oil
4 cloves of garlic sliced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tsp oregano
salt to taste
Splash of white wine

Put the chicken and potatoes in a large bowl, squeeze over the lemon juice and add the olive oil, garlic, the needles from one sprig of rosemary and other whole sprig, salt and oregano, and toss really well. Cut the empty lemon skins into wedges, add to the bowl, toss again and leave to sit for 45 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 425ºF
Put the potatoes and chicken skin side down in a *baking tray that accommodates them in more or less a single layer, making sure to scrape in all the marinade, then roast for 45 minutes, turning the chicken midway, so it is now skin side up. Lift the chicken on to a platter, return potatoes and lemon bits to the oven, and turn it up for about 10 minutes, so the potatoes turn golden.
Transfer the potatoes and lemon to the chicken platter, put the tray on a medium flame and add a little white wine to the juices. Scrape the bottom of the tray with a wooden spoon to dislodge any bits, let the juices bubble away for a minute or so, then pour over the chicken and potatoes and serve.

*A heavy duty baking tray with high sides always works best with these one-pan recipes. I recently bought a Nordicware half tray and it works beautifully with this, and other, recipes

The word for January 22nd is:
Thigh thī: [noun]
1.1 The portion of the human leg between the hip and the knee.
1.2 The corresponding part of the hind leg of a quadruped or other vertebrate animal.
1.3 The second segment of a bird’s leg, containing the tibia and fibula.
Old English þeoh, þeh, from Proto-Germanic *theuham literally “the thick or fat part of the leg.”

Odds and Sods Around Our House

According to a British psychologist yesterday was Blue Monday or the saddest day of the year. His reasons: Christmas and New Years are in the past so homes are now bare of decorations and resolutions have already been broken; December’s credit card statements have appeared; the weather is less than hospitable here in the Northern Hemisphere; SAD has taken hold of many people; and we are only halfway through the longest (or what seems like the longest) month of the year.

I’m not sure how valid any of that is but I do have to admit that the house seems a little dreary without the decorations and over a week of rain, sleet, snow, fog, ice and cloud make it even more so. However there is a hard and fast rule in our house – the decorations, which go up on St Lucia Day, come down the day after Epiphany. As Laurent was taking them down on January 7th I took pictures of several pieces that decorate tables and window sills here on Water Street at Christmastide .

In one of the arcades between Getreidegasse and Universitätsplatz in Salzburg’s Old Town there is a small shop that sells pewter figurines created by the Wilhelm-Schweizer Company. On each of our Whitsundtide visits Laurent picked up a pewter piece that caught his fancy.

These first three are definitely Christmas decorations.. The tree is approximately 10 inches in height and the figures just a little over five.

Wilhelm-Schweizer has been producing individually cast and hand-painted pewter figurines since 1796 and is still owned by the Schweizer family.

Though their Christmas and Easter collections are their most popular lines – particularly with tourists – the Bavarian folkloric figures are also charming. The little Chimney Sweep does have a New Year connection. In several Eastern European countries there is the tradition of touching a button on a sweep’s jacket for good luck in the coming year. And I suppose the clock seller does have a connection, howbeit tenuous, to New Year’s Eve.

Of course we took a look at their recent catalogue and saw at least two more zinnfiguren that we’d love to add to the small group. Well a return to the Whitsun Festival and Salzburg, if not planned, is at least on the bucket list.

The word for January 17th is:
Pewter pyoo͞′tər: [noun]
1.1 Any of numerous silver-gray alloys of tin with various amounts of antimony, copper, and sometimes lead, used widely for fine kitchen utensils and tableware. The normal ratio is 4 parts tin to 1 part e.g. lead.
1.2 Pewter articles considered as a group.
1.3 A material made of calcined tin, used in polishing marble.
Early 14c., peutre, from Old French peautre (12c.) and Medieval Latin peutrum, from Vulgar Latin *peltrum “pewter”.

Memes for a Monday

I’m not sure what the weather is like where you are but here it is freezing rain, high winds, icy roads and sidewalks and dark skies. You can’t call it winter, I’m not sure what you can call except s..t to walk a dog in!

And speaking of dogs …

And so you cat people can see what you’re missing:

The word for January 16th is
Poop poo͞p: [1. Noun 2. Verb]
1.1 A person regarded as stupid, dull or disagreeable.
1.2 Excrement.
1.3 An enclosed superstructure at the stern of a ship.
1.4 Inside information
2.1 To defecate
2.2 To cause to become fatigued; to tire.
2.3 To take (a wave) over the stern.
Stupid or dull person: from 1915 perhaps short for nincompoop.
Excrement,” 1744, a children’s euphemism, probably of imitative origin. The verb in this sense is from 1903, but the same word in the sense “to break wind softly” is attested from 1721; earlier “to make a short blast on a horn” (poupen, late 14c.).
Nautical meaning: c. 1400, from Old French poupe “stern of a ship” (14c.), from Old Provençal or Italian poppa, from Latin puppis “poop, stern,” a word of uncertain origin.

The Journey continues …

There was great joy in Mudville yesterday!

Well perhaps not in Mudville but in the hallowed halls of the Swallow Clinic and our abode. “Swallow Clinic?” says my faithful reader with a cock of the head and a raised eyebrow that suggests incredulity? Yes. A Swallow Clinic! A largely unknown but an important unit in most hospitals of any size.

“So what do they do there?” asks FR with a barely surpressed smirk. “Watch you swallow? Teach you to swallow?” Yes they actually watch you swallow and if there are problems they teach you techniques and workarounds to help overcome them.

As simple as we may think it swallowing is a complex involuntary reflex which involves the coordination of various organs, muscles, and nerves. (It is explained in some detail here.) It is also a reflex that we can forget if it has not been used in a while as in my case because very little feeding has been done by mouth. Before returning to normal eating a check is done to verify that the reflex is still there and that the pharynx is still protecting the airways during the process. Serious problems with aspiration can occur if that little pouch isn’t performing it’s function.

The process is a simple one. You are seated in profile to an x-ray machine and given a series of drinks to swallow. The technician – in my case the very charming Jo – watches the process on a screen and judges it. All the samples are mixed or treated with barium – not an element I’ll be adding to my spice rack. They start out with the most viscous – custards, mashed banana, yogourt etc and work their way down to fruit juices and water. I thought that a rather odd progression but Jo explained that the more viscous something is the easier it is to swallow. Water is the most difficult as it spreads and can cause aspiration. The final item is a real challenge: a dry digestive biscuit.

So why was there joy at the end of this little exercise yesterday? On everything but the dry biscuit my pharynx did what it was suppose to do and things went where they were supposed to go. I honestly don’t know who was the most excited: Jo, Brenda the x-ray technician, or me. I can start taking food by mouth and have done so today. Not a steak or even that order of fish and chips I crave* but several custards and a broth with puréed carrots. I have to be mindful that my system has not processed solid food since mid-October and introduce things slowly. Things such as dairy has to be approached cautiously again because the system has not processed any in a long time. But I have been assured that in a short time I will soon be able to enjoy (?) some of the things I’ve been cooking! I can’t throw off the chain that is the feeding tube just yet but that too will come.

To end the way I started the post. There is cause for joy: unlike Casey I didn’t strike out, I hit a home run!

*The things you crave in these situations can be quite bizarre and mundane.

The word for January 12th is:
Aspiration ăs″pə-rā′shən: [noun]
1.1 a will to succeed.
1.2 a cherished desire or goal.
1.3 a manner of articulation involving an audible release of breath.
1.4 the act of inhaling; the drawing in of air or other gases.
1..5 Inhaling foreign matter into the lungs.
1530s as “action of breathing into,” from Latin aspirationem (nominative aspiratio) “a breathing on, a blowing upon; rough breathing; influence,” noun of action from past-participle stem of aspirare “strive for, seek to reach,” literally “breathe at, blow upon”. The meaning “steadfast longing for a higher goal, earnest desire for something above one” is recorded from c. 1600.

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