29 November 2008
I took a lot of recipes from all over and modified them to fit my tastes/pantry. I made the homemade rolls from the pioneer woman cooks, which were tasty if not a bit heavy. Turkey, of course, with stuffing a la Chris complete with breakfast sausage and sour dough bread from the farmers market. We also had the Alton Brown version turkey and green bean casserole (although, I didn't have the patience or time to make my own french fried onions). Both came out wonderfully, and the turkey was made even better with cranberry apple chutney. There were also mashed potatoes with roasted garlic (along with plenty of cream and butter) and we mashed sweet potatoes from the farmer's market with cream, butter, smoked sweet paprika, and just a hint of cayenne. We also had apple and pumpkin pies which were made courtesy of my new pink KitchenAid stand mixer. Way tasty and easy too! :) In all, it was very successful and I'm looking forward to winding down the rest of the semester and going home.
27 November 2008
Here's the menu at current:
Turkey a la Alton Brown
Sour Dough + Challah bread dressing
green bean casserole a la Alton Brown
roasted garlic mashed potatoes
roasted sweet potatoes with smoked sweet paprika
home made dinner rolls
apple cranberry chutney
Sooooooooo excited! :)
24 November 2008
The Master said, "Ssu, I believe you look upon me as one whose aim is simply to learn and retain in mind as many things as possible." He replied, "That is what I thought. Is it not so?" The Master said, "No; I have one thread on which I string them all."
This appears right after a plot of the solar abundances versus atomic number and right before a discussion on entropy that I skipped because, um, it was difficult to follow.
The best ever line in a prestigious refereed journal, however, has to be George Wallerstein's last line in his paper with Chris Sneden (my thesis advisor) about an especially lithium-enhanced metal-poor star (read: it has a lot of something that it shouldn't and it's really fricken old).
Such putative planetary systems, however, might be good candidates for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence because the inhabitants of their outer planets might be screaming for help as they watch their inner planets disappear into their central star.
Some background: the star had too much lithium in it, so there needed to be some sort of mechanism that created it. One creation scenario involves a star basically engulfing its planets, which are rich in lithium. Think the Sun eating Mercury (yum!). There are other complications that make this an unfavorable enrichment mechanism so he just slipped that last line in for funsies. Granted, this paper was written four years before I was born (1982), so perhaps astronomers were much more footloose and fancy free?
More posts later about what I'm making for Thanksgiving and how. But that's for later. I have to go work on a stupid outreach project that I've been putting off for weeks and write a talk explaining the s-process element abundances in planetary nebulae. Not fun. Although, I may finally use that kitchenaid stand mixer to make a batch of cookies because, um, I sort of don't have any motivation to be awake other than cooking.
23 November 2008
I'd like to bring you out of your admittedly cushy, yet self-absorbed worlds for just a minute or two to make you aware of a few facts that will enlighten and, perhaps, encourage you to not look like, excuse my French, jackasses. I am a graduate student. In fact, I am a graduate student that just dropped an ill-afforded 800 bucks on repairs to my newly acquired 2000 Taurus such that it would start all the time, not just when it felt like it. Given that I am a graduate student of the hard sciences, I have become adept at things like "math" and furthermore, since I am an astronomy graduate student, I have begun to hone my observational skills. These skills have extended beyond the classroom and out into other areas of my life, including those times in which I find myself driving my car. I put these hard-earned skills to work today when I swerved to avoid you as you nearly ran me off the road because you were too busy to pay attention to figure out when to get over such that you could buy your most favorite organically grown produce items. In the future, if you could simply hang up your phone and PAY ATTENTION TO THE F*CKING ROAD, I would greatly appreciate that. Have a very happy holiday!
22 November 2008
19 November 2008
What many people don't seem to understand is that if there is no bailout, not only will the companies fold, but there will be jobs lost. What is also ignored is that there are thousands of people who have worked hard their entire adult lives in the industry who were promised a pension and retired with that money in mind. If any of the companies declare bankruptcy, those pensions will be drastically cut. How is it that any citizen could be so lacking in compassion that they would laugh at the lack of foresight of the auto industry? Why is there a lack of the same sort of understanding that was given to those people who stupidly bought houses they couldn't afford? All these stupid auto industry workers did was work hard for decades, save enough money to retired, and expect a pension. Yeah, I suppose those people were stupid for trying to plan ahead, instead of, you know, not looking at the fact that the appreciation rate for homes was ridiculous compared to the increase in salaries and then buying a house that they clearly could not afford.
At this point, pointing fingers back at the auto industry for lacking foresight does no one any good. In a small defense, the American auto companies developed cars that they could be competitive with and that they had carefully examined through R&D. Speaking of which, all of those jobs are gone now too. I think that everyone who has labeled themselves as a conservative (especially a Christian conservative) needs to back business, because that's what they do, right? And anyone who has labeled themselves as a human being, needs to work to help thousands of their brothers and sisters retain their jobs. The reason why I've always stayed away from economics as an interest is because it always disgusted me in how it ignores individuals. Claiming that a 4% unemployment rate is good, is saying that it's okay to have >12 million people out of work. Call me crazy, but I don't see that teaching the auto industry a "lesson" as something that is productive or healthy, because, seriously, what happened to caring about one's fellow man?
13 November 2008
I forgot to take the last Cipro of the bottle. Now this seems as though it is a matter of little significance, in part because it is, but the first of anything (kiss, day of class, pancake you make) is always special, no matter how completely unimportant it is; thus the first mistake in an ever ongoing error-filled week must be mentioned.
12 November 2008
10 November 2008
But besides that, I've been looking into acquiring a home. I know that it's very possible to just rent a house, but that seems a little pointless and I want to be able to call some place my own that has enough space to raise kids. Although, I guess I'll have to have the kids first in order to raise them. Either way, I should be doing homework right now, but I'm not. In fact, I'm just screwing myself over, but if I don't take a nap, I'll never get it done. So ta ta for now.
09 November 2008
08 November 2008
AB's Spinach Salad, explained:
8 strips of bacon
3 tbs bacon drippings
3 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp sugar
2 eggs, hard boiled and quartered or eighthed
1 bag spinach (8-10 oz)
handful of mushrooms, sliced
s+p to taste
Set the oven to 400. Take a baking sheet and place a cooling rack over top. Make sure that the cooling rack fits into the baking sheet. Arrange the bacon atop the cooling rack and bake until crispy. This can take anywhere from 15-20 minutes depending on your oven and your patience with making sure that every last bit of porky bacteria is obliterated. After it's done crumble the bacon and take three tbs of the bacon drippings from the pan and put in a metal working bowl that you've suspended over a pot of boiling water in a pseudo double boiler fashion. Whisk in the red wine vinegar, mustard, and sugar and add s+p to taste. Fold in the spinach, allowing it to wilt, slightly and then add in the eggs, mushrooms and ta da! you have the world's least healthy salad.
I think next time I'm going to substitute the red wine vinegar with apple cider vinegar and drastically reduce the bacon content. In fact, next time I can see this being done with turkey bacon so I don't feel weird and icky after.
07 November 2008
It turns out that blenders are great for smoothies and that's about it. The blender that we have is older than I am. It's one of those greyish tannish Osterizers and has about 20 different settings that make the blades spin "differently". Mostly, it doesn't work unless there is an awful lot of liquid involved. I've made hummus in the blender before and it turned out well, but this time, I used real beans (not canned!) and they were a little bit too hard, I guess. Also, I added tahini, which was exciting, but a little bit wasted on the mess that's currently sitting in my kitchen. Lesson learned... I'm getting a food processor.
The hummus was not nearly as bad as the time that I tried to recreate Noodles & Co's Japanese pan noodles. I found some frozen rice noodles at our local Asian mart, along with a recipe for teriyaki. It turns out that those frozen noodles are horrible and rubbery and I couldn't get past the texture. I think that had to be the most disgusting meal that I've ever had the misfortune of creating.
Aside from that, I've mostly been able to recover meals with extra cheese or more salt. Very rarely has my way of covering up a bad meal been frozen pizza, but those horrible rubbernoodles were the exception. Mostly, my cooking foibles center around danger than disgust. When I was little, I found out the hard way that those shiny birthday plates are NOT microwave friendly. I had these amazing little paper plates with shiny pink hearts on them left over from by valenbirthday a few days before. Upon reheating some pizza, I set the thing on fire and since it was too high for me to do anything about, my mom had to blow it out. (I could reach high enough to put something in it, I just wasn't at face level.) The only catch was that my mom was on oxygen at the time, so it was probably not the best idea to be placing her face rather close to fire.
Has anyone else made something completely inedible or almost burned down their homes?
06 November 2008
I'm currently chugging down odwalla C MONSTER which comes with 2000% of my recommended daily value of vitamin C. Linus Pauling would be so proud. Apparently the answer to my magic infection is cipro, the drug that everyone turned to during the anthrax scares of my youth. The common side effects may include anxiety, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, loss of appetite, nausea, nightmares, restlessness, upset stomach, vision changes, and vomiting. The last time that I took this, it definitely induced vomiting. The saddest part of all, though, is that I can't take any antacids. What will I do without my tums? :( Ah well, this too shall pass. And I take back what I said about cider. I've found five brands of cider between Whole Foods and HEB. I'll have to check out Wheatsville Co-op and Central Market to see if they have any. None are unpasteurized, though, but stay tuned for an update and review of the cider that's available in Austin!
05 November 2008
In high school, I went to downtown Detroit and marched for peace. I was going to become a card-carrying member of the Socialist party, but was foiled when I drove my beloved Pacific-green '98 Escort SE into a light post and was no longer able to drive downtown. My AP government teacher called me a feminazi. This was probably accurate, if not a little derogatory. In grade school, I proclaimed that I would never marry, in fact, I would never even date because boys were beneath me. My views on politics and romance have softened considerably, perhaps most strongly witnessed by my impending wedding in December, but the political leanings are still there.
I've often wondered where I had developed my political identity. My dad is a blue-turned-white collar worker retired from Ford Motor Company and my mom was militantly Catholic. I guess you could best describe my dad as a modern-day populist whose conservative social positions were greatly eclipsed in this last election by the crumbling Michigan economy. I never really knew my mom's political identity, perhaps because she passed away before I really started to consider my own; however, the one thing that they both instilled in me that resonates strongly is the idea that people's choices are extremely personal and we should never force our belief system upon others. The other thing that they instilled in me was a Catholic education that spanned from pre-school 'til ninth grade and was chock-full-o Sunday mass with a large helping of guilt.
Somewhere between the daily religion class and the Sunday mass, I picked up the fact that the redistribution of wealth was a good thing. I guess my views aren't nearly as extreme anymore, but this laid the seeds for my support of universal health care, the general idea that the government should do everything that it can to help its citizens, and the firm belief that a country should be judged on the way that it treats the poorest of its poor.
So after last night's election, I am filled with hope. Do I believe Barack Hussein Obama to be the perfect candidate? No, because no one is, but I think that he is the most capable. I was unconvinced at first, but after a grueling democratic primary and this election, I find that he is capable and very much able to grow and improve and look out for the American people. I feel that his is the ideal American story. He was never born with a silver spoon in his mouth, nor did he marry into it, but he found a way to establish himself such that he is at the center of one of the most historical presidential elections in the history of the United States. Most importantly, he instills a sense of renewed hope in America and I for the first time in a long time, I am excited and proud to be a citizen of the United States of America. Yes we can!
04 November 2008
I spent the first part of yesterday thinking that I had the flu. I spent the second part of yesterday realizing that I indeed had an infection, but not the one that I had assumed. At first I was a bit baffled as to how I could confuse the two, and then I realized that the symptoms that I associate with the flu are the symptoms that correspond with any given infection. It turns out that I neglected fact that I had no cold symptoms. Oh well.
So how does this relate to food? Well, it doesn't, really, but I figured that I'd give a review of my self-medication.
1) Campbell's vegetable soup: good if you're, you know, indisposed and without the motivation to cook something for real. bad if you're unable to eat it without pouring it all over the floor. Oops.
2) Olive Garden Minestrone, Salad, and bread sticks: awesome. it totally hit the "I don't feel like eating but should, oh wow this is tasty" spot.
3) Theraflu Flu & Sore Throat Hot Liquid: gross. It had a terrible i've-held-this-pill-in-my-mouth-too-long-and-now-it's-dissolving-,-gross aftertaste, so I couldn't even finish it... which was probably a good thing in hindsight since I didn't actually have the flu.
I really don't foresee cooking in my future today. In fact, I see frozen pizza or kimchi ramen or Colby cooking if I'm super lazy.
03 November 2008
The aforementioned farmers' market veggies sat sadly in my refrigerator, feeling abandoned yesterday. Instead of making the stir-fry I had planned, we went to Chuy's instead, and I had lackluster flautas and watery salsa. I felt that I had to make amends to my delicious veggies and so for dinner last night, I made chicken and veggies, cooked in parchment paper with roasted garlic mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes will be making an appearance at Thanksgiving, so I wanted to practice a bit. I'm still working on perfecting the recipe, so more details to come on that later when I've decided that it's good enough.
Chicken in parchment
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, halved into two congruent pieces
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs basil
1 tsp tarragon
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
broccoli florets, cut into small, uniform pieces
1 green pepper, cut into small slices
2 20in sheets of parchment paper, folded in half and then reopened
preheat the oven to 400. mix the olive oil, basil, tarragon, garlic, red pepper flakes and veggies. season chicken breast w/s+p. Set down 1/4 of the vegetable+herb mix on the fold of the parchment + 1/2 tbs of butter. place the chicken breast down on top of that and then place another 1/4 of the veggies and another 1/2 tbs of butter. Seal up the parchment paper to make a sac, much like making an empanada... out of paper that is infused with silicone... repeat. Place the two chicken sacs on a baking sheet and bake for 35+/-5m until it's done. Nom nom away.
02 November 2008
For two egg cups
2 small (taco) tortillas
2 tbs black beans
1/2 tbs butter, divided into quarters
s+p, red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 350. Grease two cups of a muffin tin. Make an incision into each tortilla from the edge to the middle and fold it inwards to make a cone. Mix the beans with an appropriately small amount of taco seasoning and spoon in 1 tbs to each tortilla cone. Put one "quarter" of butter atop the beans and season with s+p (I used garlic salt). Carefully crack in one egg to each cup, so as to not break the yolk. Put another quarter of butter atop each and then season with s+p, red pepper flakes and put a small bit of cheese atop. Bake in an oven for 15-19 minutes, depending on your oven and what type of muffin tins you use.
The eggs were pretty good. The tops of the tortilla come out crispy and are wonderful for dipping into a slightly runny yolk.
01 November 2008
In order to celebrate this momentous occasion, I went to the farmers market. Actually, that's kind of a lie, but let's go with that. Basil season, sadly, has mostly passed, but now there are all sorts of squash and other goodies. I came home with sweet potatoes, green peppers, and broccoli! It was a very exciting sort of day. Dinner will most definitely have to be some sort of stir fry.