Food quote

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:38 am

“If a man were to lock in his house a hoard of gold, a few figs, and two or three men, he would find out how much better figs are than gold.”

-Ananios (Ananias), 6th Century BCE

It’s about priorities, people. Here’s to a figgy new year.

(Thanks to The Hedonista for the quote)

ALSO: Here’s a helpful article for people such as your humble narrator who like to live beyond their means, yet still need to live within their means. It’s about eating at great restaurants without shelling out too much cash. No dishwashing required.


Chairs and backs

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:39 pm

Office chairs are expensive.  We got to pick out new chairs for our new offices, and I guess they’re throwing us a bone by getting us super-nice chairs since we have to be in cubicles.  Still, I wonder if it’s really worth it to have an $800 chair.  I’d rather have $780 tacked onto my computer budget and sit on a beanbag.

On another topic (OR IS IT??), what does everybody think about chiropractors?  My cousin is one, and she (naturally) swears by chiropractic treatments.  I’ve never had one.  I imagine they’re more useful for some situations than others.  My left side is a little weird; my left knee hurts a little when I run on it a lot, and I cansometimes feel pain radiating into my left hip and the left side of my lower back.  I wonder if that’s the sort of thing that would be helped by a chiropractic adjustment.

I follow a very middle-of-the-road approach when it comes to medicine.  I agree with my cousin when she says that a lot of drugs are over-prescribed (and I’ve certainly witnessed doctors prescribing drug after drug after drug to treat the side effects of the other drugs) and that a holistic approach is smart.  Still, I’m glad for all the advances science has made, such as the fact that my generation has never had polio as a concern. Drugs can be dang useful.

So…yeah.  Chiropractics:  helpful, or a bunch of bunk, when viewed in the context of a person whose left knee and hip and back sometimes hurt?


Plastic bag mysteries

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:33 pm

Denny and I were at KMart yesterday picking up a couple of small things. As we were paying up, Denny said to the cashier, “We don’t need a bag.”

She looked at him like he had just suggested that she pluck out each of her body hairs and feed them to him with chopsticks. Then she said, with a certain tone of self-righteousness, “Well, you’re getting one anyway.”

She proceeded to put our two small items into a plastic bag, the very kind of plastic bag that fills Denny with such rage that he can barely maintain his politeness when I forget to take the reusable canvas bags to the grocery store. As she was doing it, I said, “That was weird,” but she either didn’t notice or didn’t care.

What kind of strange customer service is that? Denny wanted to do something that’s a positive environmental move as well as saving her company money, and she actually denied him that request. I assume it was just because she had been trained that customers get bags, and it was beyond her comprehension to veer from that plan. I hope it wasn’t outright maliciousness. That would be very strange.

In unrelated news, she had those weird kind of bangs are a C-shape, so they start in her scalp, curl out so they’re about an inch off her forehead, and curl back in again to touch her forehead above her eyebrows.

I should also note that Denny doesn’t actually get churlish when I forget the canvas bags.  He just looks like he might potentially one day get a tiny bit annoyed with it if I did it every single time and also ran over his childhood dog, Rush, on my way home from the store.


Food and fun

Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:04 am

I was reading one of my favorite food/pastry blogs, Eggbeater, and I noticed that the author was bothered by the same thing that irritated me recently. I didn’t get worked up enough to write a letter to Food & Wine on the topic, but I guess that’s why she’s the pro.

The content of her complaint (F&W, which is a pretty serious food magazine, recommended using butterscotch chips in a recipe to “save time”) jumped out at me when I read the issue too. Note that I am not stuck up about using time-saving techniques or the occasional boxed ingredient (I would like to send a special shout-out to the makers of Near East brand whole-grain boxed side dishes). But when I read F&W I expect to learn new techniques. Luckily, Ms. Shuna of eggbeater taught me what the magazine did not.

But all is not lost! Tonight Denny and I are having our immediate family (read: Aprille and Denny) Christmas celebration. I’ve got a ribeye marinating in garlic and rosemary right now, which Denny will grill up tonight, along with some shrimp for me. I’m also making a sweet potato/bacon side dish from the cover of this month’s F&W. If it turns out well, I will forgive them for the butterscotch situation.

As per our tradition, after dinner we will make hot chocolate spiked with something tasty (I like amaretto) and watch Love, Actually, which is sweet and cheesy and funny and a modern Christmas classic. Then tomorrow morning we’ll open our presents and stockings. I’m excited about it.


Ow, my stabby brain

Filed under: — Aprille @ 3:28 pm

I’m on a conference call right now, and some of the participants are using a speaker phone that’s stabbing my brain. The bad thing is that some people on the call are really quiet, so I have my ear mushed to the phone to hear them, and then Ms. Speakerphone will chime in and it’s extremely loud and metallic and feed-backy. She’s a nice person who actually has a pleasant voice in person, but this is downright painful.
Ay yi yi!

Also: are you blind? Try spending more time with horses, and also try to make them angry. It might help.

Also also:  Italian town installs mirror to rescue inhabitants from bleak winter.  This is what science is for, people.


Little cakes

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:29 pm

Denny posted a couple of pictures of the treats I made for the work holiday lunch event.  They were pretty tasty.  I didn’t have any at the event because I was full of all the scraps I ate while preparing them.


Filed under: — Aprille @ 5:45 pm

Is Jay-Z well-regarded as a musician? I’ve been listening to him lately, and I’ve got to say, I really like his hip-hop stylings. I don’t know if I have good taste or not in that genre, though.

Weekend roundup

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:25 am

We had a reasonably fun weekend, even though Denny is still coughing all the time.  Poor dude.

We went to two parties, both of which were cool.  Angie and Ransom had a shindig; I had fun playing with a baby and talking to her Spaniard mamá, and Denny had fun playing with Ransom’s Wii (hehe…that sounds dirty).  After that, we hit the Okiishi/Crooks bash, which was as crowded and festive as ever. They had somewhere between 11 and 15 Christmas trees (I didn’t spot them all, and I heard varying accounts on the actual total).  Those guys are nuts.

I also finished up most of my Christmas shopping.  The maul (er, I mean mall; I swear I wasn’t being cute.  I actually made that telling typo) was insane and terrible.  It reminded me why I so prefer to shop online.  I think I got some good gifts for people, though, and that’s always satisfying.

Town has blissfully cleared of most students, so it’s parking spaces galore.  Once we get through Wednesday, when grades are due, things will be quiet around the office, too.  That’s my favorite time of year at work:  my phone never rings and I can take long lunches without feeling guilty.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 7:14 pm

Here are the tartlets I made. In the foreground are the pancetta/leek/cheddar ones, and you can see the brie/almond/asparagus ones in the back. Shown only very vaguely: sun-dried tomato feta.


Cool travel search feature

Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:55 am

Kayak.com has been my favorite travel search engine for a while now, but Denny just found a cool feature I hadn’t discovered about it.

Check this out: I put in my home airport, some very basic parameters, and it gives me an interactive Google map of places I could go and for what price. You can do it, too; just change CID to your airport of choice and you’re good to go. It would be incredibly useful if you’re itching for a weekend escape but don’t care a whole lot about destination. You can choose by world region or just U.S.

I could see myself dinking around on this a lot today.

P.S. The holiday party was fun and no one made an ass out of him-/herself. I played with lots of cute babies and toddlers.


Haiku about modern challenges

Filed under: — Aprille @ 5:45 pm

Sometimes it is hard
to separate paper plates
and coffee filters.


Coffee in my mug
sat there over the weekend.
Don’t drink the mold sludge.


Work party tonight.
Will I see my boss get drunk?
That would be funny.


Note that I didn’t
elaborate on which boss.
Mystery for you!


A Menu for Hope III

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:45 am

Have you heard about A Menu for Hope?

It’s this really cool charitable program that raises money for the UN’s World Food Programme.  Of course it’s great to give for its own sake, but the icing on the figurative cake for this campaign is that every $10 you donate gets you a raffle entry for some really phenomenal prizes.

You can even choose which prizes you’re entering for (which is good, because a lot of them, while fabulous, would require traveling to a coast).  I personally entered for a day in the staging area at Alinea, the restaurant owned by incomparable chef Grant Achatz.  He is the one who cooked the most memorable meal of my life, back when he was cooking at Trio in Chicago.  The finale of the day is a full tasting menu.  Oh my god, that would be so incredible.

And, you know, even if I don’t win, I still helped feed starving children.  See the link up top for information on how to enter.


Lack of unified content is not a weakness in some cultures

Filed under: — Aprille @ 10:35 pm

Poor Denny’s not feeling so hot.  There are lots of people out sick from work lately.  I’ve been healthy so far, and I hope I can keep it up, because there’s a lot to do in the next few weeks.

I want to watch Heroes but Denny will not get off the phone.  Talky talky talky.  He’s awfully chatty for a sicko.

We got our Christmas tree over the weekend.  We went to a new place, and it didn’t seem to have as good a selection as where we usually go.  Our tree is nice and chubsy, but it’s kind of short.  Most of the tall ones they had were kind of spindly.  We decided to go with Velma rather than Shaggy in the metaphorical world in which Christmas trees are Scooby Doo characters.

I made a bunch of tart dough for the mini quiches I’m taking to the work holiday party Thursday night.  I decided to make three kinds:  sun-dried tomato with feta, brie with asparagus and almonds, and my standard pancetta with leeks and sharp cheddar.  I’ve never made the first two before, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they turn out.

Since our department just recently got a lot bigger, our holiday party is now also bigger, and instead of being held at the boss’s house, it’s out at a nice rental spot.  I wonder if we’re supposed to dress up.  That would be kind of fun.  I’m business casual every freaking day of the week (except for casual Friday, which my office doesn’t actually sponsor but I do anyway).  Will there be music?  Dancing?  I hope there’s no hoochie there like in Love, Actually who will trick Alan Rickman into buying her expensive gifts when he should be paying attention to nice Emma Thompson.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:40 pm

“I suppose that you’ll miss me
and I’ll miss you when I’m gone.
But I miss the water just a little bit more.
I’m going down with the ship.”

“Down With the Ship,” King Toad

Russian personal submarines

(This is not a comment on my state of mind or anything. I’m fine. It just suited the link.)

ALSO:  Happiness is finding a brand new pack of gum when I thought I was almost out.



Filed under: — Aprille @ 9:43 pm

I didn’t mean to not post today.  I just got busy attending my boss’s retirement reception during my prime posting time.  He’s worked in this job for 21 years.  His job is pretty much a slightly elevated version of mine.

My job is good, basically.  I have great benefits, wonderful coworkers, and lots of opportunities to play with cool technology.  Really, though, I can’t picture myself picking up an engraved clock at a reception in a couple of decades.  I miss reading books and translating and thinking about the way words relate to each other.  If it weren’t for the homework (and the fact that one has to pay to do it), I’d go back to school and pick up another degree.  I miss teaching Spanish, too.  A coworker of mine is taking a self-guided Spanish course, and she asks me questions sometimes.  It’s my favorite part of the day (except lunch.  I really enjoy lunch.).

I don’t know how my coworker Jack does it.  He reads more than anyone I know.  When I’ve been sitting in front of a computer all day, reading emails and websites, I find I don’t have much brain left at the end of the day for recreational or thought-provoking reading.  I should take an in-town vacation some time and just read good books for a week.

Speaking of books…my friend who has a literary agent (and a book published) gave me a referral to his agent, who said he was interested in hearing from me.  My book is a totally different genre from my friend’s, so who knows if it will lead anywhere, but it’s a good start.

Have a good weekend.  My holiday festivities start tomorrow and end some time in 2007.  Woot!


Wide rice noodles

Filed under: — Aprille @ 8:23 pm

I’m always getting hits looking for a recipe for wide rice noodles, and due to the recent influx of people bitching about how there isn’t enough food on this blog (??), here’s a recipe. They’re good.

Fresh Rice Noodles (Guaytio)

Makes 1 Lb.

1 1/4 cups uncooked long-grain rice
1 1/4 cups water

Vegetable oil

1. Soak the rice overnight in the water. After soaking, grind the rice and
water for 5 or 10 minutes in a blender to form a very smooth thin batter,
(A food processor won’t work for this.) When done grinding, you should be
able to feel no more than the slightest hint of solid particles if you rub
the batter between your fingers. Better too smooth than not smooth enough!

2. Lightly coat an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ baking pan with oil and heat it for about 3
minutes in a steamer. Pour in 1/2 cup batter in an even layer and replace
the steamer lid. Steam for 5 minutes. From this point on, check to make
sure there’s water in the steamer. Add boiling water as necessary if it’s

3. After 5 minutes, coat the top of the first layer lightly but thoroughly
with vegetable oil and pour 1/2 cup of batter in an even layer on top of
it. Again, steam for 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter. After
adding the last layer, steam for 8 minutes. When sliced, the layers will
separate into thin noodles.

4. Use immediately in any recipe calling for fresh rice noodles or wrap
them tightly in plastic wrap and store in the ‘fridge for up to 2 days.
They can be frozen for up to 6 months, but will be grainy when thawed.

Hot Fuzz trailer

Filed under: — Aprille @ 12:14 pm

I loved the movie Shaun of the Dead. This movie, Hot Fuzz, is from the same people. It looks good.

Also, for those of you who know him, doesn’t the cop’s sidekick remind you of Jonathan Shelton?

Junkies the lot of us

Filed under: — Aprille @ 11:56 am

Denny and I were watching Heroes last night (and please don’t spoil it, because we’re still 3 episodes behind; we got a bit of a late start).  During the scene with Isaac the heroin addict, we came to the shocking conclusion that intravenous drugs don’t interest us.

At first I said it’s because I’m afraid of shots (which I am), but then Denny reminded me it’s also because heroin is really scary.  That made me think about the nature of addiction, and how I feel lucky not to be hooked on anything.

Then I got to work this morning and my coffee buddy was out sick.  It’s his turn to bring the coffee, so I didn’t have any.  Around 8:30, I noticed that I had a headache and felt groggy and weird.  Ahem.  So much for not being hooked on anything.  Luckily I found my emergency stash in my desk drawer and was able to make a small pot.


Good old web

Filed under: — Aprille @ 4:30 pm

I am really enjoying Tom Waits today.

Also, are you in the market for Uranium glassware?  I’m not.


Almost Roob’s birthday

Filed under: — Aprille @ 5:33 pm

I was going to send a birthday card to Ruby today, since she’s got the big 300 x 10-1 coming up (did I get that scientific notation right? It’s been freaking YEARS since I’ve done that). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find her new address and the mail has already gone out for the day. I hope I can find it by tomorrow, or there’s no chance she’ll get it on time. I was kind of pressing my luck trying to get it to her if I’d mailed it today.

Albert Einstein never memorized anything that could be written down. He didn’t know his own address by heart. I wish I could say I was doing enough other stuff with my brain that that was my excuse.

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