The humans have found some creative ways to keep in touch with their friends during this era of social distancing and minimal contact. Usually, on a Friday or Saturday each week, they all (or some subset of all, depending on who’s free) will meet up online to chat and play games.
One of the games is a players-together-vs-the-game affair that involves giving one-word clues so that the guesser will say a particular word, with the catch that if two of the clues match, they are thrown out, leaving the guesser with fewer ideas to go by. Thus, should the clue-givers go for the most obvious clue and risk matching, or go for something a little more subtle and risk the guesser not guessing? Sometimes I whisper in the clue-givers’ ears and they all match up and the guesser has nothing to guess from. That’s always good for a laugh.
Sometimes I make sure they get a word that no one could get from a one word clue.
Tonight I have something even more diabolical planned.
Time for the next word! Looks like the humans and their friends are trying to get Terry to say, “button”.
Ehehehe! There’s only one problem. There is no Terry in the game. There’s no way to correct the AI’s notion that there is, no way for anyone to pretend to be Terry, no way to skip to the next word, and nothing for it but to restart the game.
They should thank me. I have it on very good authority that cussing together can be an exemplary and very cathartic shared activity.
The humans–especially the male–still seem to be possessed by the notion of creating the perfect bread. You will recall, perhaps with the same schadenfreude and nostalgic chuckle that I do, their attempts to make homemade pizza crust. It did not, by any stretch of the imagination, go well.
Today they are trying a simple recipe for Amish bread, a white sandwich-style loaf that is made from an enriched dough. Sigyn, shall we help them out–or at least bear witness to the carnage?
Prep time 30 minutes? With these two, I’m betting it’ll be closer to an hour. You’d think two cooks would be twice as fast, but that assumes no one’s getting in anyone else’s way.
And that I’m not involved.
I knew it! The humans are physically incapable of following a recipe precisely.
They’ve already deviated from the stated ingredients in two ways. The human female has reduced the amount of sugar and is planning to substitute some whole wheat flour for one of the cups of white flour. (Woman, it’s bread. If it turns out, you’re going to eat a ton of it, which is not healthy, wholegrain flour notwithstanding.
First, we need to prepare Sigyn’s favorite part.
My love, we’ve had the discussion about leaning out too far over measuring cups.
And be careful around the stove!
The human female told me why we need to scald the milk. She said, “Blah blah, denaturation of enzymes, blah, blah.” I propose a new rule: No science in the kitchen.
Once the milk has cooled, we need a cup of water…
And some sugar–but not as much as in the original recipe–
Yes, my sweet, you can draw a smiley face in the sugar with your finger if you want.
The milk, the water, the yeast, and the sugar all go in one big bowl.
While our “little fungal friends” are doing their thing, we can assemble the other ingredients and tools.
Sigyn likes the look of the foamy, recipe-ready yeast.
I think it looks disgusting, but then, the larval stage of anything is usually unattractive, and I suppose there’s no reason bread should be any different.
Time for the first cup of flour.
Then more flour, oil, and salt.
The first few cups of flour go in easily. After that, the dough gets rather stiff and it takes some real muscle to do the stirring. And then there is ten minutes of kneading!
Come on, humans! Get through this and you can skip arm day at the gym. (I’ve heard mortals say that. I have no idea what it means.)
Stirring and kneading complete! We now have what the human female calls a “dough baby.”
Soft, round, squishy, and makes a mess everywhere. Yep. Baby.
Time for baby to take a little nap in a warm place.
It’s barely warm in here, and the felines can’t play with it. Now, while we wait for it to rise, I suppose we could clean up the mess we’ve made. But gods don’t do dishes, so I’ll leave all the bowls and cups and pans and measuring spoons for the humans to deal with.
Our dough baby has grown up. Now comes my favorite part of the process–smacking down the risen dough to watch it deflate!
Do I spy a human female handprint? I believe I do!
Morekneadingmorekneadingmorekneadingmorekneadingmorekneadingmorekneading… Ready to shape into loaves.
(later) The loaves have risen and are ready for the oven. Welcome to the human female’s kitchen–the pans don’t match…
…and the loaves don’t either. The female did this one. Look at that unfilled corner!
Sloppy, mortal, sloppy. But into the oven they go!
Now all we can do is wait.
And wait. It is starting to smell good in here! It could still go badly wrong, though. The human female could pull the loaves out too early. Or too late. What will it be–soggy bottom or meteorite?
Well, for good or ill, the loaves are out and are cool enough to turn out of the pans.
What do you think, Sigyn? They look all right. But the proof is in the eating. And the verdict is….
Yummy!!! Circle the date on the calendar, the bread is not only edible, it’s actually good.
Oh, my goodness! The weather has been just beautiful lately! The mornings are nice and cool and the afternoons are sunny and the flowers are just loving it! (Some rain hasn’t hurt, either!)
The human female and I are going for a walk around the neighborhood just to see what’s up. It’s too late for bluets : ( but there is sure to be something nice.
Starting with our very own lawn!
The evening primroses are pinker than they look in the photo, and they are everywhere!
So is the lyre-leaf sage. The ones coming up around the corner by the hose are nearly white, but the ones that have popped up in the lawn are purple, purple, purple.
What’s even nicer is that they’re perennial! Where they are this year, they are very likely to be again next year. When they’re done flowering, I will help the human female transplant them into the flower bed so they don’t get mowed.
That’s what’s good about the spring flora. A lot of it is short enough to pass under a mower largely unscathed. I can see the winecups in the grass of the park before we even get there.
You’d think the bright fuchsia would clash with the nearly-orangescarlet pimpernel (hee hee hee! I almost wrote “pumpernickel”!) but it doesn’t. It just makes a sort of earthbound fiesta.
The blue-eyed grass is open from about midday onwards.
The flowers are always a purply-blue, but in its miniature cousin, the flowers can be yellow, pink, lavender, pale blue, or a sort of bright arctic white, usually with a maroonish eye-ring.
They like a sandy soil, and so do herb sherard and the dwarf dandelions.
Whole sections of the lawn here are lavender and yellow orange. I just never get tired of the dwarf dandelions!
Another sand lover is this eny-weeny member of the carnation family.
I think it’s thyme-leaved sandwort, but I will have to pick a flower and take it home to key out, because there are several species that all look very much alike.
Speaking of itty-bitty white things, look at this dogshade!
It looks like lace, doesn’t it? A lot of the carrot family plants have flowers like this. It’s a good year for this plant–I’m seeing it everywhere! And do you know what? The flowers are sweetly scented! There is enough of it that you can smell these plants just walking by!
We’ve gone around the whole block now and I think we’ve seen just about ev—-
Ooooh! What’s thatyellow up ahead?!
You could be forgiven for thinking this is one of the bur-clovers or sweet-clovers, but it’s one of the true clovers, specifically low hop clover, an introduction from Europe. The flowers fade and get all paper-baggy as they age. I like it not only because it’s such a cheerful color, but because the leaflets are heart-shaped and fold up to look likegreen snowflakes! I just want to give it a hug! But I won’t hug the little barley by my left hand, because it has long awns and is on the far end of the poke-you-in-the-eye scale.
Oh, haven’t we had just the BEST walk? Thanks for coming with me, and always remember to keep an eye on the ground, because you never know what precious jewels will be hidden down there!
Let us take a look at some of the comestible goods which followed us home from the Big City to the West. In addition to the Large Market, we also visited an Asian grocery store and a couple of stores selling Japanese goods, so a bit of the resulting haul is a bit “theme-y”.
The human male is a fan of All Things Ginger and has a special fondness for ginger beer. He found two sorts he hadn’t tried, and I urged him to purchase them.
He has pronounced the lemon-lime one “horrible” (Ehehehehe! I could have told him that) and the other “okay, but not as good as my favorite one.”
What were those spices they brought home again?
Oh, now I remember. The Ras El Hanout is to replace the jar of Ras El Hanout they bought but didn’t like, which was to replace the empty jar of the Ras El Hanout that they liked a lot, but which I have made certain is no longer being manufactured.
The other jar holds Carolina Reaper pepper powder. I foresee some quality mischief of a capsacious nature in my future.
The human female is, I see, still incapable of leaving the Large Market without a quantity of gummy octopi septopi.
The way she plows through those things, they are sure end up on the CITES list before the year is out. If conservationists managed to breed them and increase their numbers during the period in which she was confined to town by the pandemic, they are about to lose what little progress was made.
This little bun-oid object game from the Asian grocrey.
It is certainly wrapped up in a fancy manner. (poke, poke, poke) What do you suppose is inside, Sigyn?
There is a filling of some sort. Any ideas?
It looks like a fossilized egg yolk, but the human female says it is lotus seed paste. Sigyn is keen to taste it.
That good, eh? (nibble nibble) It’s all right, but I think I prefer sweet red beany goo as a filling.
Great Frigga’s Hairpins! What is this…thing? I didn’t see her slip this in the basket! And she’s planning to eat it for breakfast?!
It’s… It’s staring at us.
The label on the back says, “Anpanman.” Human female, look that up and see if this is even safe to eat.
Ah. Apparently “anpan” refers to a bun filled with sweet beany goo, and there is a comic character whose head is one.
We have just returned home from the Big City to the West and, as much fun as it’s been, we are all a little tired. The humans have opted for the simplest of all dinners–instant ramen with a bit of chicken, a few veggies, and a couple eggs thrown in for “nutrition.” As if one could somehow nullify the salt and the fat!
Since the humans are not neat eaters when drippy noodles and chopsticks are involved, the general modus operandi is to put a plate under the bowl. The human female has prepared her serving and now it’s the male’s turn.
No trip to a Big City, be it north, south, west, or east (Have we done east? I do not think so…) is complete without a trip to the Large Market. The human male likes to buy their ginger-apple juice, and the female is always on the hunt for new apple varieties.
I have seen to it that there are no new apples today. There were going to be, but I had the produce manager hide them in the back.
Sigyn is excited because she has never seen a “real live yam” before.
She has made friends with sweet potatoes before, which people in this part of Midgard often mistakenly call yams, but this is her first encounter with the real thing. They’re very large, but she’s not afraid at all, my brave girl.
Odin’s Eyeptatch! Sigyn, come over here and look at this! There is a veritable Fungal Festival going on here today! One whole display is nothing but chitinous Basidiomycetes. The bright yellow oyster mushroom is certainly eye-catching.
The plainer brown variety is a little less startling in its coloration.
(poke poke poke) Mushrooms feel so weird.
I do not know what this kind is called.
Looks like a pile of wood shavings, doesn’t it? Here’s another anonymous mass of mycelia:
And in case one is unable to choose, the emporium offers a thoughtful assortment box.
That would make a very good hostess gift. “Here you go–I brought you a box of expensive mixed toadstools. I know they don’t work with your dinner menu, but you have to eat them within a day or so or they’ll go all limp or get moldy and you’ll feel guilty. Enjoy!”
Hmm. I wonder if I could persuade the human female to buy a box for herself? I could sneak in one of these:
Sigyn has wandered off, attracted by the bright colors in another display:
Dragonfruit. And gaudy they definitely are! They come in yellow…
…as well as a pink that is an abomination unto mine eyes.
Dearest, are you certain that food should be that color?
She certainly is a bit of a magpie, attracted by all sorts of bright and shiny things. This soap, for instance.
It is certainly…colorful. I wonder–as you use it, do all the bits wear out at the same rate, or do the little chunks fall out as the matrix wears away? I might have to do some experimenting. Also, if this stuff is made in a loaf and then sliced, Why are no two pieces alike? I have the feeling this is going to be keeping me up nights…
We are nearly done here. The human female has found her favorite tortilla chips and the required gummy octopus-shaped candy. The male has found his juice and a few other tidbits. It is certainly not as much fun here as it was in the days when they were giving out samples around every corner. Get yourselves vaccinated, people! I want my samples back!
The only department left is the floral section. Sigyn, as could be predicted, has gone straight for the most colorful bunches, in this case some huge, waxy Ranunculus.
If you were to look up “yellow” in the dictionary, there would be a picture of those.
How many Sigyn-volumes are there in one Protea? I don’t know, but I’m sure the number has a lot of zeros.
Some of the prepared bouquets are very pretty.
But I suppose I am a bit predictable myself. I find myself drawn to these hydrangeas.
They’re green, and I just know that if I could convince the human female to take some home, I could induce them to shed copiously all over the house. Bonus points if the felines eat them and leave petal-y puke… Hmmm.
Suitably fortified with beany goo, seaweed, and fried things, we are continuing our exploration of the shops in this strip center. We have been to theJapanese emporium before, the one that sells every sort of cute thing one could think of, as well as many cute things no one should have thought of.
I am not a big fan of “cute.” But my beloved is, so in we go.
I am pleased to see that their door sentinel/mascot is taking appropriate precautions.
Sigyn has made a bee-line for the cute stationery. She has a fondness for ornate, pop-up greeting cards.
Likewise, anything with little animals is fair game. She can’t decide between penguins or penguins AND other creatures.
Does anyone besides me find it suspicious that products meant to dispense highly colorful page markers feature only animals which are inherently black and white? And I’m not sure what nutritional value there is in albino bamboo, so that panda won’t be with us very long.
Aha! I have found something that is not cute. Nothing cute at all about fierce, dragon-shaped pen and paintbrush rests.
Which….are right next door to some “adorable” (Sigyn’s word, not mine) veggie-shaped ones, so my island of non-cute is very small indeed.
They look nice and heavy, though. Wonder what would happen if I accidentallydropped one on the glass shelving?
This shop is completely full of things no one needs. I mean, look at this:
Sigyn wants one, I can tell. Dearest, you know full well that if you put out one of those...things, with its tongue in a bowl of water so that it could water a tiny, tiny plant, the felines would a) drink the water, b) swat the plastic puppy all over the house, and then c) eat the plant. And then the human female would get all shouty and the cats would puke plant bits and you’d cry and someone who’s not me would have to clean up the mess. Let’s just avoid the heartache and go look at the plushies, all right?
This giant peach (pumpkin? peachkin?) has put a smile on my sweetie’s face for sure.
(later, later, and more later)
Aren’t the humans EVER going to be done in here? I’ve been in this place so long that I’m starting to identify with this grumpy mushroom.
Since we are a small party, we’re unlikely to order enough to get a prize ball this visit. We shall have to content ourselves with feasting. Feasting only, Sigyn! While you got away with riding the conveyor on a previous, pre-pandemic visit, I think you should forgo that excitement today.
Snort! The human female is pretending to be health-conscious and has ordered a vegetable hand-roll.
She’s welcome to it–I think nori tastes like fish-food. I’m holding out for Fried Things. And here come some now!
Mmm. Gyoza. They’re piping hot, very crispy, and come with a nice sauce. Although, human female, I’m sure you would like this condiment even better:
It’s green. It must be good! No? Ah, you’re such a wuss.
More delicious fried goodness.
Dig in, my love. Last time, these tempura shrimp were naught but tails by the time we got any. The human female says she thinks the batter is the best part of tempura and that she would “happily eat tempura-fried air.” Oh, that gives me so many marvelous ideas…. (I bet with the legs off, praying mantises are not immediately recognizable under layers of rice flour and panko…)
The human male has snagged a cold item off the conveyor. Looks like shrimp and avocado with some sort of citrusy mayo.
Hmm. Three pieces. One for him, one for me, and one for Sigyn. Sorry, human female, you are just going to have to content yourself with that air you said you’d eat.
It is time for dessert! Sorry again, human female, there is no beany-goo filled, fish-shaped–
Great Friggas corset! The human female got her request in even before we were seated! Unfair! She’s going to sit there, smugly, feasting on donut and sweet, beany goo with ice cream and just gloat, I know she is. Do not be surprised, woman, if that fish a) drips bean goo on your shirt, b) makes you fat, or c) both.
The humans are now fully vaccinated against the current plague. This has emboldened them to relax their vigilance just enough for a one-day trip to the Big City to the West, in search of things to eat and see that do not consist of the contents of the cold box and the same four walls they have been staring at for a year and more now.
Sigyn has found the motherload of cat-themed games.
I have found a cat game too. Relative to my interests but slightly less cute:
Sigyn! Oh, don’t cry, sweetie! It’s just a game. It’s a joke, I’m sure. Maybe…
Here! Come look at these funny creatures? See? They’re nice! Happy! Not exploding at all, not even a little bit!
While Sigyn is trying to figure out how to play the mossy-antlered elk game, I’m going to look at something I’ve spotted on the the other side of the store. Oh, Sigyn. Are you interested too? Let’s go together.
Sigyn thinks a poetry game sounds like fun. I’m more intrigued by games that have weapons included!
The store sells jigsaw puzzles in additions to games. Sigyn, of course, has gravitated to the colorful one sure to give even a god such as myself an instant case of diabetes.
I think this one looks more challenging.
What does it even depict? I think I can see feathers and pine needles and maybe even some bones. There’s something up there that looks like a dead mouse, too, but I’m not about to point that out to Sigyn…
Sweet Sif on a Cracker! Can’t I go anywhere without running into my stoopid “brother’s” stoopid face?!
He looks even dorkier and more ridiculous when he wears that silly winged helmet. That’s even less practical than horns. I can’t even bear to look. I think i will magic every copy of this game into one I saw online.
The human female has finished her heart monitoring study. She has recorded every palpitation, every chest twinge, every fleeting megrim and flutter. She has removed the stick-on monitor (She’d asked me to use my magic to make sure it stuck really well, so she has no one to blame but herself if a bit of skin came off with it!) She has made sure the little monitors have transmitted all their data to the phone, and she has powered everything off and packed it all snugly back in the box to mail back.
It’s so convenient! The pre-paid box will just need to go to Unrepentant Package Squashers in the mo—
Sigyn, did you hear that?!
I don’t think the box is as ready to go back as she thinks it is…