Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Things I Learned in December

Yes, OK, so we're a full week into the new year and I haven't even managed my "Things I Learned Last Month" post, much less my annual roundup of books I read, to say nothing of any further reflections on 2014. Sigh.

Either I didn't learn much last month, or I just didn't keep careful track as well. I've only got two things to share--one is quirky and the other will make me look totally stupid but I don't care, it was life changing. 

1. You can make Velveeta in your blender. For real.
See, I have this soup recipe: the love child of broccoli cheese soup and chicken noodle soup. It is so, so delicious. Total comfort food for me in the winter. But it uses an entire pound of Velveeta, and I  shudder every time I am cutting that rubbery block of pasteurized processed cheese food product into chunks. It is just so wrong. So more than once, I have tried to substitute real cheese for the Velveeta. Once I tried just dumping a bunch in (that obviously didn't work). Another time I made a roux and carefully constructed a cheese sauce. Neither was satisfying--it just didn't taste or feel right in our mouths. So I buy the Velveeta, I cringe, and then I forget those unnatural bouncy orange cubes and enjoy my delicious soup.

Then Pinterest told me there was such a thing as homemade Velveeta. I could not resist. I printed off the recipe, I bought some unflavored gelatin and dry milk powder, and Steve whipped up a batch of Velveeta with only four ingredients, all of them real food. It was kind of creepy how much it looked and felt like real Velveeta. Unfortunately, it still was not a close enough substitute in the soup. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't the soup I was hungry for, in either flavor or texture. Maybe we need to wean ourselves gradually--half real Velveeta (?! hello oxymoron) and half homemade next time? I'd love to stop using the nasty stuff, but when you are used to the fake thing, the real deal just isn't quite right. Sadness.

Related, while we're on the topic of "real" and "fake"...I also learned there is such a thing as "diet imitation margarine." My mom keeps her emergency sewing kit in a very old margarine tub (from my grandmother's era). You know, the little round, pale yellow kind. Steve noticed over Christmas break (in the midst of heroically stitching up an injured Clifford) that the lid of the tub said "Diet Imitation Margarine." If margarine is imitation butter, what in the heck is imitation margarine? I don't even want to know.

2. You can scroll up and down on a laptop screen by using two fingers on the touchpad instead of one.
Oh my goodness you guys. See, I have this two-handed method of laptop mouse use. I move with my right hand and click with my left. It's unconventional, maybe, but it works really well for me--I feel like I have more control and can be more precise with the cursor. But I will admit, scrolling on my laptop was annoying compared to the smart mouse for our desktop computer. If I didn't have my cursor placed just right, if I didn't hold my fingers still, the page would jump all over and I'd lose my spot.

One night Steve was sitting next to me while I was doing something on the computer, and after watching me a moment, he said, "You know you can use two fingers to scroll, right?"


He just shook his head sadly; not sure whether because he couldn't believe how dumb I was for not knowing that, or because of my giddy excitement at the new trick. I couldn't stop scrolling all my pages just for fun--Up! Down! Up! Down!--and giggling. Mind. Blown.

How about you? Did you learn anything strange last month, or anything you totally should have known already but somehow didn't? For a much more profound list of things learned--she did a year-long reflection rather than a December post, and there are some wonderful gems--head on over to Chatting at the Sky.

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