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So, the 'chicory' I was growing turned into tomatoes. I thought something was suspicious when the adult leaves grew into no chicory I'd ever seen. I mean, with a stalk and leaves, rather than a lettuce-esque radial of leaves coming out of a suitably turnip-like root. This is remarkably disappointing, since it means my entire packet of seeds was probably mislabeled. I've kept the three tomato plants around. They've begun to flower. While I am deeply dubious I will get tomatoes, my garden experiments have been odd in general.

As the tomatoes wait to become what they are, I've lined the boxes with spring onions and the mustard greens I am now trying to get rid of the seeds for. The mustards never grow to full size on my porch, making them effectively slow salad greens. More importantly, we were visited by the polite raccoon again last night, resulting in many slightly crushed and bruised mustard plantlings. Polite, mind you, not because it's ever tipped its hat to me -- though that would make me like it more -- but because it manages to carefully dig in my boxes without spilling any crumbs. I am beyond an ability to be angry here. It's just thinking of the raccoon as a sort of Dorian with opposable thumbs.

I think the irony of this is that just the other day, I was looking at Coles Hardware's raccoon repellent rack and wondering if I should get some pellets, given that I'd not been foraged by a raccoon for about two months straight.

If I have been quiet lately, it's partly because it's hard being a hikkikomori with social obligations, and also because the spouse and I developed a damaging relationship with classic ironman XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Oh, XCOM, I hear you go. That old game. No, not quite. You see, they remade the original XCOM so that everything you once had to imagine in 256 colour is now brilliantly smoked and shot through with light in HD. Also features streamlined commands (no 100-page manual!) and all the fiendishness of setting up cover only to have it grenaded away by the next passing Muton. It even has troop-killing, game ending-fail bugs, which makes it extra charming, and like, old school. But don't mind me. Playing 58 games (that's 'game' as in campaign, not 58 maps) of ironman (read: no saves), watching people miss shots on 98% hit chance for aliens as big as a wall makes one... a little bitter. I highly recommend XCOM. Because it's awesome.

My two most recent quests are to somehow make ten minutes of walking a part of each day, and baking bread. Yesterday, we walked to Sun Fatt Seafood where the really nice Fish Uncle (he's the one with the moustache) actually remembered I hadn't been there in a while. That made me a little guilty. I love Sun Fatt Seafood. They recently upgraded their store to have sushi-grade fish, about 20 different kinds of oyster and uni. So it's totally rad. I am experimenting with buying whole fishes instead of fillets. No, I don't know what I'm doing with all that fish stock yet. I walked out of Sun Fatt with a Fish Uncle-recommended snapper for steaming and a whole mackerel to grill in salt. The snapper was lovely! Tender, sweet flesh, not too many pin bones. Bringing home a nice fish for dinner makes me smile. After carefully scraping off every bit of meat I could from the bones, I gave the cheeks to me and the eyeballs to the cats. They seemed pleased.

Baking, unfortunately enough, is not one of my crafting skills. My mother, an excellent baker, might be ashamed. I finally caved and got new yeast. I had this yeast, see, that had been living in my freezer for four years, and stuff doesn't rise with it because yeast is not eternal. I was partly motivated to try this bread-baking stuff after watching the fascinating history of bread according to Humanity has Declined (a show that shares both an Afi-like title and an Afi sense of humour -- you were warned). Thanks to my new yeast, I got four mini loaves of the closest thing I've ever made to bread yet. The crumb was a bit dense, close to rye bread, but it was bread. Bread in my mind should be fluffy, puffy clouds of yeasty dough slathered with butter and sprinkled with sugar on top. Thanks to my mother's macrobiotic phase, I know that bread can also taste too healthy. Bread that is too healthy is not really bread, it is a health food. The local bakeries make a lovely challah, so I don't know if I want to even try going down the cloud bread route (although...fluffy buns shaped like Sif...) But I would like to make pretzels, maybe, or the baked beignets that failed last time because of not-eternal yeast.

My ten minute walk for today should be to the supermarket for bread flour...

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