21 January, 2008

fun with links

Oh, now I'm just being silly (these links are of my treasured Linda Lee Johnson bracelet, thanks, darling Lulu). Seriously, though, I have been learning how to put links to other blogs I like in the sidebar of my front page. Do look. I'm so proud of myself, learning to write little "html" thingys that make these hot links appear. "Laraland" I love because Lara is a delight (a young exercise-mad mum in Marylebone), then "Fayefood" will give you an idea for dinner nearly every night (plus her little boy Ferdinand gets up to some amazing high jinks and conversation), and of course my friend Caz's devotion to Matthew Macfadyen. "Free Rice" is a totally addictive vocabulary-testing site that is charitable as well. Well, anyway, dip in if you like. I'll keep adding them as I remember places I like.

What I REALLY need to figure out, however, is how to build a recipe index. It's all very well for me to expect you all to scroll through enormously long and boring posts just to get to the recipe embedded somewhere in it, when all you really want is to know how to make "Kristen's Pretentious Meatloaf." Well, that's a bad example because the recipe appears right at the top of the post. Does anyone out there know how I could build an index? What I want is to have a list, like I have my list of links, and you could click on, for example, "seafood" and get my fabulous scallops recipe, with olive oil and parsley. Without having to slog through all my descriptions of our summer activities (although who could resist this Janey facey).

It's all brought up, however, some thorny issues. Say I wanted to build a recipe index divided into categories, like "pasta," or "seafood." Does my scallops recipe go into pasta because it's with spaghetti, or seafood because the main ingredient is scallops? And how about mushroom risotto? Is it a side dish, because it's a starch with some veg, or is it potentially a main dish for vegetarians? I'm getting my knickers in a twist because every recipe seems to be a minefield of dangerous categorisation. Is there a separate section for chicken, or poultry, or does it all come under the heading of "meat dishes"? Or is "meat" only red meat? And is duck poultry or meat? I certainly cannot have a heading "game" with only recipe, that's for sure.

I think I'm missing the boat here, really. I don't think my blog, or my future cookbook, is really just a list of recipes. It's really more of a memoir (of, sadly, a completely unremarkable life!). Maybe my recipes should be in categories like "comfort food," although one person might gravitate to macaroni and cheese, in that mood, while another whips up lobster en gelee. I just don't know.

Speaking of comfort food, and comfort in general, I am finding the world so bewildering lately that I've gone all out for dinner tonight: macaroni and cheese for a main course, and I'm taking my darling friend Becky's advice and including some Dairylea, a sort of British baby cheese, for extra creaminess. I remember living in France in high school and encountering my first "real" cheese, my experiences to date having been limited to American, Parmesan in a green can, and Velveeta. I found that at age 16 I definitely preferred all the familiar flavors and found Brie, Camembert and the like completely unpalatable. As a joke, the family I was living with bought me some "La Vache Qui Rit," known here as "The Laughing Cow," and expected me to find it totally degeulasse (disgusting) and be converted to "their" cheese. No such. I still adore Vache, and Dairylea is very like it, only in slices, just perfect for that midnight grilled cheese. With the macaroni we're having special "slow food" bangers from Food Fore Thought, and sauteed red peppers and broccolini. I feel a definite need for all things familiar and cosy. I must say, I tried to be a good person today and turn around the difficult or upsetting things in my life and see them as... opportunities. To achieve something, or get through something, or rise above something. As opposed to just feeling overwhelmed! Didn't have a marked success, but I shall try again tomorrow. Just for practice.

This afternoon found us all at big King's College, the big sister to Avery's little prep school, for her interview there. A gorgeous Adam building, spanning actually six houses in Marylebone, and the most loquacious admissions director (or person of any kind, for that matter) that I have ever met. Not one of her sentences, once begun, ended in ANYTHING like the subject matter with which she had begun. Complaints about the endless rain became soliloquies on her skill with bathroom tiling, conversations begun with talking about the charm of prep school uniforms morphed into dissertations on the bad behavior of her grandson (clearly remarkable in every way). She seems reason enough to send Avery there! From there Avery was whisked away by the headmistress and then after a suitable interval, we ourselves were brought in. Such situations always make me look down at my hands and stammer, do you feel that way about female authority figures? A formidable woman like the bow of a ship, only with softly quirking eyebrows at some bit of particularly British wit. Very calming. I had no idea: if the child sits the exam at School #1, and is also applying to Schools 2 and 3 in the same group, only School #1 sees the actual exam itself, what they call "the script." The other schools see merely the score, reported by School #1. So the rules may say that it's entirely up to you where your child sits the exam, but had I worked out this extra detail ahead of time, I'd have thought, "Hmm, I wonder which school I want to have Avery's actual SCRIPT in hand, and not just someone else's interpretation of her mark." Alas, too late. Actually probably she sat the exam at the right school anyway, but not through any parental brilliance on my part.

It's exhausting. And we don't even DO anything! Poor Avery on parade. She seems to thrive for the most part, and when asked, "What do you look for in a school, Avery?" replied calmly, "I like to meet friendly people. If I meet someone unfriendly, I might worry that that was the whole ethic of the school. Not that it's happened, so far." Ever the diplomat... thank goodness for her father's influence.

Righty-ho. I still have my apron on which must mean, gosh, we haven't eaten yet. Maybe that's what's got me kerfuffled: so far my food intake today has been enormous glass of juice made of beetroot, cavolo nero, celery, pear and parsley. Not exactly the diet of champions, more like a punishment for sins as yet uncommitted. Actually I really like my juices, so tomorrow maybe a little Dairylea on the side...

1 comment:

S. said...

Ooooh, I absolutely love wasting time on FreeRice.com, because at least I feel like I'm helping while doing it. *And* I get to play with words. It's great!

I am sorry to say that I cannot help you with the index situation, but I wanted to suggest a little solution for your category dilemma. Perhaps you can figure out how to include each recipe in more than one category if needed? For example, if a certain dish could go under both "Pastas" and "Seafood".

One way that you could categorize your recipes would be by tagging your posts, and then by creating links to each of the tags. I've seen something like that in other blogs...and you can put more than one tag in each post, which makes the indexing thing easier as well. However, that would show the entire posts and not only the recipe part of them (not that I mind reading your posts).

I hope that helped, if just a little bit.