Rainbow soup

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So I decided to make rainbow soup today.

It’s not actually called rainbow soup. I just like it and it’s got a lot of colours so that’s why.

I don’t really feel like doing an official recipe so I’m just going to show how I made it.

Starting with about two handfuls of green beans.

I hate green beans when they’re stringy or have big beans inside or are gigantically overcooked. Other than that I quite like them.

If you want to make sure they aren’t stringy, there’s a trick to cleaning them. If you sort of use the knife to pull the tip of the bean towards you while cutting, you can get the string to come with as well. I hope the picture sort of shows that.

It’s really hard to take a picture while holding a green bean in one hand and a knife in the other.

I cut the beans into small pieces, probably around 1-1.5cm. I guess that averages out around 0.5in. Does it matter? Not really.

Then there’s the big pot of chicken stock. Two litres. I’m lazy and I always use ready made stock from jars. It’s just so much easier.

I prefer jars to making stock from cubes because this way I can just put it in the pot without thinking about it. I do add plenty of water because I don’t usually like very salty food.

This is called a lombok. It’s a chili pepper used in Indonesian cooking. I’m not actually cooking Indonesian food this time but it’s the most common pepper available in the Netherlands. I think it’s a variation of the Cayenne pepper.

I like lomboks because they’re spicy but not insanely so. Plus they have an awesome red colour.

This one is about the size of my hand.

There’s a couple of ways to clean chili peppers. I prefer cutting them lengthwise and then scraping out the seeds and interior.

The more of the orangey interior (seed ribs) you remove, the milder the taste will be. Today I’m not interested in sniffles so I’m removing most of the insides.

After that I’m cutting them into small strips.

I’m mostly doing it for the colour.

Then it’s on to the tins.

Crispy mais. I don’t know what’s so crispy about it. It’s just maize kernels. Or corn kernels. You know what I mean. There’s a picture.

I always make sure to buy the kind without added sugar. Seriously. Maize is sweet enough already. Silly people.

I drain off the water in the tin before adding the contents to the chicken stock.

It’s starting to look pretty.

Green, yellow, and red.

I had to put in quite a bit of effort to get this picture. The maize kept sinking to the bottom of the pot. And as with the green bean and the knife, it’s a bit hard to take a picture while stirring soup with a really big ladle and making sure the pot stays in place.

The sacrifices I make for this blog.

Another tin!

Diced tomatoes. No idea why this tin is in English, since it’s actually a Dutch brand.

This step in the preparation might be a leftover from when I didn’t eat tomatoes. What I do is I take the diced tomatoes and rinse them about a thousand times till I only have the bits of tomato meat left and no juice.

Fresh tomatoes are not an option (even though I actually like those now) because the skins peel off in a nasty way and peeling them beforehand is a lot of effort.

I might try peeled tomatoes but I’d have to rinse those as well. And they feel icky when you’re cutting them up.

So rinsed diced tomatoes it is. Rinse rinse rinse. Not much left when I’m done rinsing.

Without the juice the soup doesn’t become a red cloudy mess either. We want rainbow soup, not tomato soup.

(Oh, on a side note: at my supermarket they have like half an aisle filled with different types of tomatoes. It is 100% impossible for me to pass it without starting to sing “Let’s call the whole thing off” softly to myself).

Time to clean and dice the chicken breast.

Yeah, I know you can get pre-diced chicken breast. But I’m very particular about icky bits in my chicken. I’ve learned how to eat (and love) other parts of grilled chickens, but breast definitely needs to be skin and tendon free. So usually I prefer buying a whole breast and cleaning it myself. I’m better at it than their machines.

You don’t want to know how often I find bits of bone.

Potatoes next. (Potayto! Potahto! Let’s call the whole thing off!)

I use a specific potato breed called “Eigenheimer” from Friesland. The Dutch have a thing about potatoes. But any fluffy, starchy potato will do.

What I want is for the bits of potato to become soft and crumbly when I eat them. But they shouldn’t be dissolving while still in the soup. I don’t want thick starchy potato soup.

So now we’ve got our pot of chicken stock, filled with green beans, chili pepper bits, maize kernels, diced and rinsed tomatoes, diced chicken breast, and diced potatoes.

Let’s go and bring that mother to a soft boil.

I usually aim for about 30 minutes. The chicken and potatoes need plenty of time to cook.

While the soup is softly bubbling to itself, I’ve got time for my favourite part.

Coriander. Cilantro.

I love it. A lot of people hate it.

That’s ok. Autistic people know everything about “irrational” dislikes of food so nobody here is going to force anyone to eat something they don’t like.

I’m just going to make you look at it.

Pretty green leaves. So pretty.

And now I’m going to take my big-ass knife and destroy the pretty green leaves.

Chop chop chop!

Well, I’m not that fast. This is a really sharp knife and I still can’t feel the tip of my left ring finger from where I cut into it with this same knife in January. So… proceed carefully. But thoroughly.

I need very finely chopped coriander.

Because I’m going to make meatballs! And my experience with not-so-finely chopped coriander is that it’ll end up everywhere (plate. frying pan. hands) except inside the meatballs.

Lean ground beef. Seasoned with some fresh black and white pepper and a pinch or two of salt (I use literal pinches. Like what I can pinch between my thumb and first two fingers). Again, I’m not that fond of salt but you can add more if you want.

Next, I add the coriander, a small egg, and some bread crumbs.

The egg and bread crumbs are purely optional, I only add it because the meatballs turn nice and brown when frying with a bit of egg in the mix, and it makes it a bit easier to roll the balls and not have them fall apart in your hands or while frying.

But it does make everything a lot ickier to touch. So I can understand if you skip this part.

Knead the meat until it starts feeling like bread dough. If it’s still really sticky and slippery, add some extra breadcrumbs. You literally want a bread dough feel. That’s the easiest for rolling the meatballs.

(This feeling is not applicable when not using egg and breadcrumbs. Then you’re on your own. I’m so mean).

Take a bit of meat about the size of your thumb and roll it between your palms in a circular motion until you get a ball.

I always try to minimise amount of washing up, so I usually put the meatballs directly into the frying pan. Not heated up yet. Just a little bit of olive oil to prevent them from sticking to the pan and a small pat of butter (about thumb size) for the nice frying action later on.

Repeat lots of times until you run out of meat.

Then turn on the heat underneath the frying pan and fry the meatballs until they turn brown, on a high to medium heat. Depends on how much it’s splattering. I don’t like splatter, it always ends up on my hands and then I have burns and that hurts.

Turn off the heat under both pans (yes, the soup was still softly boiling, remember?) and add the meatballs to the soup. Again, try to avoid splatter. Boiling soup is hot.

What do you mean, accident prone? I only have cooking mishaps about once a month or so.

And it’s so worth it.

Look. RAINBOW SOUP!!!

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Cognitive love

My baby nephew is celebrating his 1st birthday tomorrow. He’s my youngest brother’s first child and so very adorable. But my brother and his wife are both adorable too so I guess it’s a genetic thing. 😉

Anyway. Because I’ve been so fixated on the birthday party being tomorrow (notes in my Google Calendar and everything), I completely forgot that his actual birthday is today. Until my sister-in-law posted a picture on Facebook showing my nephew with a party hat.

Oops. My mind immediately went into social panic mode. Keep in mind that this is my brother, who knows better than anyone how awkward I can be and who loves me regardless. He’s the only person in the family who isn’t socially awkward in one way or another (my father’s pretty good with people as well, but he admits it’s still not entirely effortless and he doesn’t really start enjoying it until after one or two drinks). None of us are diagnosed but my youngest brother is very obviously the only neurotypical person.

I had no idea what was expected of me.

I’m going to the birthday party tomorrow. My brother knows this because he invited me. So should I congratulate them tomorrow? When I’m supposed to be there? Or is the posting of this picture some kind of clue that they’d like to be congratulated today as well? Will they be upset if I wait until tomorrow? Or will they say I’m silly for calling to congratulate them when I’m already coming by tomorrow anyway?

OK. Hold on. Take a deep breath. YOUR BROTHER LOVES YOU. Nothing you can do will make him think you’re any more of a fruitcake than you already are.

And so I arrived at the easiest solution. I called my brother and asked him if he wanted to be congratulated. He laughed and said yes. And also that he liked me calling to ask. And that he was looking forward to seeing me tomorrow.

I love my family. Even if I have to reason it out sometimes.

Playing with pictures

So I’ve finally gotten around to creating some header images to liven up the place.

Some flowers I bought last Wednesday to celebrate one week of not smoking. I edited the photo quite heavily in GIMP to get the vibrancy of the colours, because apparently my camera hates vibrant colours and makes everything look washed out. The flowers are really that beautiful shade of orange/red. Although of course a lot depends on your monitor as well.

Picture I took some time ago, cracked safety glass. You can’t really see it here but when it’s in the header, you can see small colour refractions especially on the right hand side. Plus I like the spidery pattern.

Spices! Well, I love to cook, especially Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. I really like the textures and colours in this picture, I wish you could also smell it!

A close-up of my bookshelves, one of many many bookshelves. I have a bit of a book problem. But who cares. These are pretty close in height and all paperbacks and I loved the progression of colours so that was a nice shot to take.

A close-up of my window sill. I have some vases and things standing in my window sill because I read somewhere that women are supposed to collect knick-knacks and put them in random spots to “make the space more personal”. So I’ve been experimenting with that. It seems to reassure visitors and I like the colours but it is a bit of a mess. The hands belong to a very pretty wooden statue from the 40s or 50s that I inherited from my grandmother. The number of times I’ve knocked that statue down and broken its neck… Clumsy, me?

I think the books and the window sill are my favourites because. Well. Rainbows. I really am helpless when it comes to rainbows. That’s why the gay pride flag is so awesome. And why autistic pride day is so awesome.

Cleaning in progress

About a week ago, I aired out my dirty laundry for all to see. (Sorry, there are so many phrases and expressions involving clean and dirty, I’m having a field day! Yes, I love language).

I thought you might like to know that I’ve made some progress.

The picture of the kitchen cabinets isn’t so obvious (bad photography), but the drawers on the right are honestly downright grubby. The door on the left has already been cleaned. I’ve also unearthed the bedroom floor from the strata of accumulated laundry and crisp bags. Still need to vacuum but I’m getting there. Lastly, the attic, because that’s where all the dirty laundry from my bedroom ended up. At least I know what needs to be done there.

I’ve been using a couple of methods to get this far. One method I got off Snakedancing and is called productive procrastination. This doesn’t really work with executive function fail, but for dreaded chores it works wonders (for me anyway). Whenever I ran into something that made me feel anxious about doing it, I procrastinated by picking up some clothes and bringing them to the attic. I did have to remind myself to only do small bits of procrastination.

Some of the other methods are from the comments section on Procrastination or Executive Function Fail? on Musings of an Aspie, which is a recommended read by the way. But the comments contain some very interesting observations as well.

Kathryn:

I find little bursts of doing cleaning stuff works best, and I mean “little” like spraying the counters with a water-vinegar mix while I’m nuking my coffee. By the time I’ve had my coffee, the water’s had time to loosen any gunk, plus there’s visual reminders (the counter’s wet, the spray bottle is out). Then it feels logical or part of a pattern to wipe the counters clean, in an “if-then” way.

That’s how I managed to clean the kitchen cabinets today. And the fridge door yesterday, by the way. While waiting for the tea kettle to boil. This helped a lot with pacing myself, I identified ONE thing that I could do on the spot and stopped as soon as it was done.

Lucy:

can’t have anyone over syndrome (spells out c h a o s )

Quoted that one because it’s hilariously spot-on. 🙂

waggermama:

for anyone with an android phone, I can really recommend an app called Regularly. I set household tasks and rather than set a date I can say the task needs to be done weekly/fortnightly/monthly/yearly and then it *gently* reminds me to do it.

I immediately downloaded Regularly from the Google Play store and so far it looks really promising. I did have a fairly large anxiety attack on Sunday evening after I started to add all the chores that needed doing, because THE LIST WAS JUST SO INCREDIBLY LONG. Granted, I did add things like “brush teeth daily” because I tend to forget that sort of thing.


Where I got stuck at first is due date, which is always a problem for me, because I have this feeling everything was due yesterday. And then I panic. But as it turns out, in every task there’s also a thing called “Log”. And when you click that, you can say when (you think) you’ve done this task last. Which is far more convenient for me than to start guessing when I need to get it done. Based on the last time I did something, and how regularly I want to do it, the app gives a nice gradual colour scheme to each task. Which brings me to the second reason why I like this app: RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINBOWS. I really like colours sorted by rainbow. 🙂

Edit: the default colour setting goes from red to green. To get the red to blue rainbow colours, go to Settings > Color Range > Extended.

I’ve been using Regularly for two days now, and it gives me good clues on what my top productive procrastination should be, and lets me tick off random items from my “little bursts” cleaning list. So all in all, it seems to be working.

In closing, Nattily’s blog has a really awesome article that offers an in-depth analysis of procrastination vs. executive dysfunction vs. ability to do things “that are duller than, I don’t know, dull things” (with photos and coloured highlighters!). And Neurodivergent K’s blog has some very useful tips on how to “autistify” your surroundings to make things like cleaning easier to remember and execute. Also with photos!