19 December, 2007


Oh the joys of photoshop.


Be on the look out for additions as well as subtractions.

15 December, 2007


I've been watching Good Eats again, and you know what happens when one of us does that. GE 09x09 The Waffle Truth has reminded me, yet again, that we need to make waffles from scratch. AB's recipes are generally a good place to start, and so I give you, for easy reference:

The Basic Waffle:
1 cup AP flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 whole eggs, beaten
1/2 stick butter, melted
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
Vegetable spray, for waffle iron

While the waffle iron is preheating, in a medium bowl whisk together the dry ingredients (include the sugar). In another bowl beat eggs and melted butter together until smooth, and then add the buttermilk. Add the wet to the dry and stir until lumpy but combined. Leave to rest for 5 minutes.

…We already know how to cook waffles, etc... Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree F oven until ready to serve.

The Chocolate Waffle!:
1.5 cups AP flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 whole eggs, beaten
1/2 stick of butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Vegetable spray, for waffle iron

While the waffle iron is preheating, in a medium bowl whisk together the dry ingredients (include the sugar, but not chips). In another bowl beat eggs, melted butter, and vanilla together until smooth, and then add the buttermilk. Add the wet to the dry, then add the chocolate chips and stir until lumpy but combined. Leave to rest for 5 minutes.

…We already know how to cook waffles, etc... Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree F oven until ready to serve.

If you prefer, the ounce measurements and the full directions are available in the original recipes. Mmmm, time to go make waffles... in a week.

13 December, 2007

winter break cooking To Do list

Our most important plans for time together generally revolve around cooking and food, so it should come as no surprise that this winter break will be no different. We often put off doing or trying things until we're together, and thus there develops a "to do" list. Fun and exciting items for the upcoming holiday include:

Pepperoni Rolls (I've been thinking about that one for a month or two)

Pecan Dreams (before I get nagged into an early grave)

Cheesepie (comparison to test sour cream layer vs. substitution thereof by vanilla yogurt)

Biscuits (You know the ones. /reference GE 01x07 The Dough Also Rises)

That Wonderful Stuffed Chicken Breast that Banik Makes (aka How the Woman was Won)

Hand Pies (Second go, expecting good things. /reference GE 09x12 A Pie in Every Pocket)

Sweet Potato Fries (which are on Banik's list but were also discussed the other night seperately)

Cinnamon Twirls (which may or may not be linked to pie or pot pie as is generally proper)

Rainbow Trout (with lemon chive butter?)

Various other things of equal awesomeness which have not yet been devised. That is all.

12 December, 2007

"A recipe to try" Turns into a rambling to do list

Well folks, here we go.

I'm tired, procrastination, and crunched for time. I'm giving a thesis presentation to a room full of peers and faculty in about 12 hours, so what am I doing?

Looking at recipes on various foodie blogs, of course.

So, as such, this is going to be a disjointed post of a to do list of things I find appealing.

First, I should try some smoked-salmon and lemon fettucini alfredo.

Second, oriental salad dressing, dipping sauce, cole slaw sauce (nappa), and marinade:
1 Sesame Oil
2 Soy Sauce
2 Rice Vinegar
x Red pepper flakes
x crushed ginger
x crushed garlic
x peanut(butter) for the thai flavor

Third, Sweet Potato Fries.

Four, quinoa? Quinoa/blackbean/corn/cilantro/lime juice/cucumber/onion/tomato salad? Just learn more about quinoa.

Five, soy based butters and cheeses? What? I suppose I'll try them.

Six, Eat more turkey. Turkey's Tasty.

Seven, this cinnamon roll recipe is rather Spectacular. I've made them... 2? 3? times? Once or twice with Alison. They're Really Good. Throw together some cream cheese frosting (which I'll put up an excellent recipe for next time I make it and write proportions down... seriously.) Ok, it looks like the link got lost somewhere. I'll post it when I get back to school.

Eight, Look! It's a rollertoaster! http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/ny/appliances-small/jaren-gohs-rollertoaster-015192

Nine, wait wait wait. Uni isn't sea urchin roe, but rather sea urchin Gonads? WTF is this?

Ten, this is sweet!

Eleven, this page shows you what 200 calories look like... irl.

Twelve, I should try to use miso paste more. I bet it has all sorts of handy uses.


¼ Cup Apricot Preserves
¼ Cup Peach Preserves
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
5 teaspoons white vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons corn starch
½ teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon yellow mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons water

Puree everything but the water. Add the puree and the water to a saucepan, boil for 5m and let cool.

Ok. That's it for now.


06 December, 2007

A brief hiatus

Well, November 17th was the day Thanksgiving Break began. After returning, it seems like our lives have been filled with work and not-posting.

We'll be back.


17 November, 2007

ice shot glasses?

Sometimes a product seems like a really good idea until you think about its practicality. Case in point: Ice Shot Glasses.

Now I'm sure that those who like to drink probably have seen these before, but since I don't it shouldn't come as a surprise that I'd not heard of them before last week. I wasn't so much thinking of putting alcohol in them as figuring out what else I could do with them. I've only found two decent looking versions: that above and this one. I seriously considered getting a mold for Banik, but then the logic invaded.

Sure they keep things cold, but they also melt. So whether it's a dipping sauce or pickled ginger it's just going to get watered down even though it stays pleasantly chilled. You could make them out of different things, but then what?

Perhaps if you intend to eat the cup all along. Of course, then it has to be something soft enough to eat. Maybe if they were made out of jello and actually escaped the molds intact they could be filled with something. I wonder if you could fill them with homemade ice cream and then fill the inside with what you'd usually put on top? Still doesn't seem useful enough.

Ah well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Other People's Pets

Being in a transient stage in life is annoying for a lot of reasons. The most irritating part of this, after not being able to live with Banik in our own place, is that I can't really have pets. So long as you love them and care for them, pets are little bodies of unconditional love; everyone should have a pet. Fortunately for me other people have pets, and sometimes I get to see them.

At Home there are three cats and a dog- more or less my parent's pets. My family can drive me bonkers, so I often prefer the company of the critters. They probably adore me because I play with them more than my family does, the Bear (our Golden Labtriever) especially so because I'm the only one who lets him run and wonder around in the yard.

On an infrequent basis I also see people's dogs here at school and the pair of Jack Russells that Banik's parents keep. My favorites here are Haley, the loveably droopy-faced Basset Hound of our ancient architectural history professor, and Lucha, the enthusiastic chihuapug of a couple I've been in school with since undergrad. Other students and faculty have dogs that they bring in, but those two stand out for their friendly qualities. In a place as depressing as this a visit from anyone's pet generally does wonders for moral.

As for me, I have some plants to check on. My plants love me.

16 November, 2007

Tea Leaves and an Olive Braches

I'm a foodie. Foody? Foodey? Gourmand. I enjoy cooking it, eating it, trying new kinds. With this is mind, I always find it slightly odd that I don't like 2 things more than I do (which is to say, very little)- olive and tea.
Let’s make the latter the former in the explanation. Tea smells wonderful. There are many types, a elaborate set of rules and rituals associated with it, and it pervades many different cultures. I don't really like the taste of it. It's bland and disappointing. In order to enjoy it, I find it necessary to sweeten it, so that it's basically sweet water with a hint of flavoring from the tea itself. Meh.

Olives, on the other hand, seems like something I would like much more than I do. I enjoy stronger flavors, such as pickles, strong fishes, salt, etc. Olives seem to fit this bill quite nicely. Unfortunately, I don't really care for them. Black olives are fine on pizza, but that's about it. Green olives are tasty when stuffed with blue cheese and submerged i vodka martinis only threatened with the bottle of vermouth. There are a myriad of other types of olives available, however. The first that I've had personal experience with are the olives served at Atasca, see the below post. They were merely ok. I ate a few of them, but did not fid myself desiring to take the remainder home with me. Since I don't really like the types of olives that I've had contact with, I haven't found the motivation to go out and buy new kinds to try them. If I was going to do that, why not do it with cheese, say, which I know I like.

Anyway, the entire point here is that both of these consumables have many different varieties available, with a wide rage in flavors and so forth- it seems like they're a staple of many people who love to love their food. Unfortunately, I just don't enjoy either of them.

I feel like I'm missing out.


11 November, 2007

"i'll keep you, my dirty little secret"

Not the most flattering of endearments, hmm? PostSecret is a blog that I first learned of when Banik linked me the video for All American Regects' "Dirty Little Secret."

For some reason I keep going back. It's not that I read it religously, but rather that I find myself rediscovering it when I'm alone. I tend to watch the song and read the blog simultaneously; they are perpetually linked in my mind. I would imagine that there are a lot of reasons people read it- for the shock value, to know that there is always someone more messed up than they are, for the reassurance that other people feel the way they do, to see if their cards will be posted.

From what I can tell, however, once they leave the mainpage the posts are gone; to read more postcards you have to keep up because there are no labeled groups or older posts to visit. In the PostSecret Community there are video secrets and such, but it's not the same as the graphic clarity of the postcards. (If your internet is less than wonderful watching the videos is also rather painful.) For those who prefer the overdose instead of the IV drip, there are four books released in 2005, 2006, and January and October of 2007.

One day I may have to aquire them.

09 November, 2007


I would one day like a pair of aquatic turtles. Why? Because if I had just one turtle I'd be worried about it being lonely- that's just the kind of person I am. Our house will be a mathematically balanced ark with two of everything.

I don't know much about turtles, but they're cute. I don't want a terrapin, and for the record the "turtles are cute!" opinion well predates my knowledge of UMD's existance. I would prefer smaller ones, no larger than my hand. I figure at that size they should be easier to design a nice tank for, maybe even make a miniature habitat (happy turtles surely need more than water and a couple rocks). Banik wants a marine aquarium, but I don't know if we can get small marine turtles for said tank- they seem to only come in huge and proto-huge. Even if we could I'd be upset if they did something like maybe eating the peppermint shrimp, so it may not be a good idea anyway.

This is probably one of the lower "possible pets" on the list for good reason; we would need a lot of research before beginning such an undertaking. I suspect that we will start with more common and easily cared for critters before moving into foreign territory.

08 November, 2007

Atasca - A little piece of Portugal in Cambridge

It's getting to be time of year. No longer can I leave in the morning wearing a t-shirt, knowing that the chill will pass by midmorning. Now Boston is showing a small piece of its true colors- cold and windy. With that in mind, I decided to try a Portugese restaurant that's on my walking route between the apartment and school. I figure that as the weather gets worse and worse, I'll be less and less likely to feel motivated enough to walk back and forth, instead availing myself of the public transportation options. Anyway, on to the establishment!

Atasca is the name of the restaurant. It occupies the first floor of a tall building (there you go, that's it- I suppose it's either an apartment building or and office building, but I don't really know). Inside is a modest bar with perhaps enough space for 6 people as well as a number of tables with a few booths along one windowed wall. Outside, for those hearty diners or those dining in a more temperate time of year, are a number of iron tables and chair screened in by grapevines growing through a fence surrounding the patio and threaded with rope lights. Not a bad effect, really. The interior design is centered mainly around porceline- teapots, plates, serving platters, and some sort of wall-hung half-pitchers, designed to look as though they passed into the wall. The lighting is nice, if a bit dim, but it lends itself to the overall darkwood, warm yellow lighting and spnged wall decor.

Now, on to the imortant part. Service was prompt and friendly, as well as posessing a generally high level of knowledge concerning the cuisine. With the menu I was served a bowl of olives (colored black, but not 'black olives,- I do not know the type, though they were milder and more buttery in flavor) and a basket of sliced crusty bread with dipping olive oil. Along with the herbs and spices in the oil (red pepper flakes, ground pepper, basil, a parsely sprig, possibly some sort of grated parmesian like cheese) there were 4 cloves of roasted garlic (to go with the 4 pieces of bread, mayhaps). A quick side note- I love garlic, in all its forms. I thought these cloves would be strong and heady, but I instead found them to be delicately flavored and incredibly rich in texture- almost like a smoothed garlicy butter. They were great. Anyway, while I perused the menu, I ordered one of the 3 Portugese beers they carried, named just Super Bock. It was actually quite tasty, despite initial reservations, thinking it to be a weak, watery american-type lager. Instead, perhaps in homage to bocks everywhere, it had a mild flavor with a strong aftertaste- a very good aftertaste, but not like you would find in an IPA. Since I can't rememeber more about it, I suppose I will just have to have another at some point in the future to be able to deliver a more accurate description. Pity, that.

I ordered the fish of the day, Mahi-Mahi, which came promptly, piping hot after its grilling. The portion of tasty Dolphin fish was quite substantial, I'd put it very near a pound, precooked. Accompanying this was a pile of 'garlic' mashed potatoes, which were, honestly, mediocre due to a wimpy texture and lack of garlic flavor, as well as some cooked (sauteed?) snow peas, onions, and carrots- which were quite excellent. A few carmelized onions add a great deal to the snow peas, surpringly enough.

Three quartersof the way through the meal, I decided that I would check out their desserts and asked for the rest to go home with me and for a dessert menu. I was actually rather impressed at their selection of desserts, ports, espressos, brandys, and so forth. I exercised my willpower and forewent the port, and instead made the tough choice between some "homemade rice pudding with cinnamon" and the "lemon-port custard with caramel sauce." I chose the latter, hoping to get my fill of port from the dish. It turned out to be an excellent redition of the spanish/mexican dessert Flan, with a moderate lemon flavour, well balanced sauce, and a perfect texture. Unfortunately, I could detect none of the port, but that could merely be my unrefined palate.

Upon the conclusion of the meal, I decided I would return and try another path through their menu, perhaps trying one of their many appetizing-sounding starters instead of dessert this time. Overall, a very good moderately priced meal at a grand total of $35 at the end of the evening.

04 November, 2007

the Art of Everyday

I will take a beautifully designed, functional object over a tool + a piece of art any day. When I buy something I want to it last, and if I'm going to be using it a long time I certainly hope I don't hate the way it looks. If I like the way it looks I'll display it rather than hide it, and if I decorate with the objects I use I certainly don't need a bunch of other stuff taking up space just to look "pretty." Makes perfect sense, right?

For reasons into which we shall not delve at this time I have a very, very strong aversion to clutter, junk, and in general having anything around that isn't useful or much loved. Of course there are these "much loved" exceptions, but I'm highly selective about a lot of things. For the most part the best gift someone can give me is nothing at all; it saves me the trouble of figuring out how to get rid of it in a sustainable way.

One of my/our goals in having our own place and the freedom to chose what we want in our home is to have everyday objects which are Designed and are therefore pieces of art in themselves. Art can be anywhere if you just find it or make it. My favourite example? Ornamental teapots are stupid; a beautiful, functional teapot can be both used and displayed daily. I can get behind that. When the time comes Banik and I will build a set of dishes- not buy one, and our kitchen cabinets will showcase the final selection rather than hide it. Creatively displayed even the most mundane things can become features, and I will endeavor to use my not-quite-OCD to that end. Hopefully a few years from now we'll have something that looks pretty awesome.

03 November, 2007


Probe, Infrared, in-oven, etc.

No, not like that sickos.

Anyway, I have found the joys of cooking with thermometers. Actually, the first, and most memorable, time I used a thermometer was with a standing rib roast that I was cooking for my birthday. For those that aren't aware and don't have sufficient curiosity to google it, a standing rib roast is a prime rib on the bone, as it were.

Tangent. I like my meat warm in the center. Steaks and burgers- cooked on the outside, just warm in the center. Tastiness.

Back to the story. So, I read up a little on how to cook the roast, ad decided to shoot for a long-cooked method which promised to leave the resulting hunk of beef juicy, tender, and not over done. So I jam my probe thermometer into an appropriate area on the beast, and begin the cooking. 6 hours later, it reaches the temperature of dreams. It's been awhile, but I think it was 127deg F. I then let the roast rest and coast, taking it up to 137 or so. This meant it was time to carve. So, with trepidation, hope, and no little hunger, the oscillating blades of death descended, slicing into perfectly cooked flesh, laying open the most uniformly dark pink roast mine eyes have ever had the grace of seeing.

This converts me to the use of thermometers.

So, here's what I need. An IR thermometer- they're cool. Point it at a surface and get an accurate temp reading. Huzzah! This will be useful for determining the temp of grilling surfaces, cast iron pans, enLethe, or any other surface.
Also, a probe thermometer will be necessary as well. Maybe with two probes, or maybe just two single probe models. These are useful for anything that needs to have the insides cooked without cutting it open to check.

Huzzah, toys!


Epicurious is a website that came to me in a very odd way. A magazine I flipped through while we were taking out the recycling at work this summer happened to have an image that I thought was a good model for some chainmaille. Later at home I looked through it and discovered an ad for this website, which I promptly gave to Banik. I have no idea how stuff lines up like this, but it happens all the time.

So I've only poked around in it a little, but they have this new feature that has some interesting possibilities. You can already search and post and collect recipes on this site, and now with Tastbook you can build and print your own cookbook from them. How awesome is that?

31 October, 2007

can can

I'm sure it sounds silly to most people in this modern age of "I can get that at the megamart," but Banik and I would like to learn to can our own foods. Why? There are a few reasons.

1. It's a way to store food that doesn't require space in the freezer or fridge. This is an issue for foods that we like to make in larger quantities (a big pot of soup). It's also useful for preserving foods fresh from the garden or made immediately after harvest (like the tomato sauce and apple butter taking up room in the freezer).

2. If we canned it, we know exactly what went into it. Well, as much as we ever know exactly what goes into anything we make. But it means no unnatural additives or preservatives, no chemicals that I can't pronounce, and no absurd amounts of salt. Salt is probably the most important thing because although Banik loves it and can apparently have all he wants, I have to eat as little as I can. Our own cooking means that we can each salt to taste.

3. We can have prepared foods around that are actually good for us. We know fast food is bad for us, and we try to make sure that when we eat out it's because we want to instead of because we've had a long day and feel too tired to cook. We could have soup, chili, and more tomato products than even I know what to do with all ready to make dinner. And if we need something to use for a dessert or to top pancakes or waffles? Nevermind your store-bought jellies and fillings; I've got cherries I pitted myself and pear butter that contains nothing but pears.

If it lets us stock our pantry with good ingredients, cook at the drop of a hat, and enjoy home-grown produce all year it seems like a good idea. Both of us are fortunate enough to be from families with lots of foods that are homemade rather than "something-or-other-brand home-style," and we recognize the difference. Our friends seem to appreciate it when they benefit from our hospitality, and with any luck the next generation will, too.

25 October, 2007

"The Thai Place"

So, this post is in regards to the Thai place on Pearl street in Cambridge. I think it's call Thai Spice, maybe not.

Ayway, I've been twice, so I figure that I'll givea bit of a review.

It's a small place that seats perhaps 25, with a mocha-themed decor, deeps woods, and a giant Red canvas on one wall...

My first visit, I had a seafood soup that was A)very hot (hot enough to burn my tongue... I hate that) and B) pretty good. It was a bit spicy, with basil, vegetables, and seafood (shrimp, calamari, scallops, etc). No, I don't remember what it was called.
My main course was Basil Fried Rice. It was excellent. One can choose the meat that it comes with, if any, and I chose chicken for the first try. The rice was very good, with many kinds of vegetables in it, a strong flavour of basil and a smokey sesame oil esque flavour too. It is listed as "2 Chilies" which is the spiciest the resturant offers, and it was only a hint of spice but a good chilie flavour. I plan on seeing if they offer anything a bit more potent in the future.
My second trip there involved many, many dishes, since a couple friends and I shared appetizers, etc. First, the appetizers.
1) Satay Chicken. Very Good. This consists of grilled chicken tenders on kabobs seasoned with tumeric and yogurt which you dip into a satay sauce- ground peanuts and... other stuff?
2) Chinese Ravioli. Also good. Typical potstickers, but with a single shrimp in the middle of the ground pork. Thesse were then pan fried and served with the typical dipping sauce (soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil). These were good. The shell was thinnish, maybe a bit thiner than I would've hoped, but the sauce was very well balanced- no film of sesame oil, nor was it too punchy from the mirin.
3) Crab Rangoons. These were also very good. Not oily at all, and I think they even had real crab in the mixture, which was also very good. These were served with a non traditional sweet chili sauce which complimented them very well. Also, there was something green in the filling- spring onions? Leeks? Chives? It was good, lended a nice flavour.
My main course was called a Beef Jungle Curry. This was described as a green curry made without coconut sauce. It had basil, chilies, and perhaps some kaffir lime leaves flavouring the broth. In the broth were mostly vegetables, green beans, bamboo shoots, minicorn, and some carrots and ginger, I beileve. Topping these were a few slices of charred beef sliced very thinly- the charring wasa nice effect imparting a smokey essence which I enjoyed. I could've done with a bit more meat, but that's my cleanivore nature coming through.

It's good, I'll go back.



I accept that we can't have one of every animal we like; in the end we would quite literally own a zoo. So certain conflicts develop, ie. would it be better to have a pet Chinchilla or a pet Rabbit? Chinchillas are amazingly soft, adorable little balls of fluff that sleep most of the day and roll in dust; they never require bathing. Rabbits are also cute balls of fluff, and despite being higher maintainence than cats or dogs, they can be harness and litterbox trained. How is anyone supposed to choose?

Theoretically I wouldn't have to because I have found the solution: the viscacha rat. I discovered these little critters over on Cute Overload, and then found them again on Disapproving Rabbits. Wikipedia also has a little information. Oh sure, you're thinking "who wants a pet rat?" Well if it looks like a bunchillla hybrid I suppose that would be me. The only problem is that they're pretty rare rodents which are undomesticated and should be left to their own devices.

*sigh* Back to square one....

21 October, 2007

Go Forth and Hug (really!)

For as long as I can remember there has been this old newspaper clipping stuck on my parents' fridge titled "Hugging is Healthy." I've read it many times over the years and believe it to be completely true, probably because I come from a relatively large and extended family with French and Celtic heritage. They're very physically friendly from my understanding, and also the likely source of our "everyone is family" attitude.

So in a country where hugging is apparently for hippies, imagine my surprise to keep reading articles around how important and healthy hugging and other forms of physical contact are. Hugging is the favourite of course, being the most platonic and universal, but in fact it's contact in general that seems to be essential to our physical and emotional well-being. An article I ran across that focuses on how India is changing is particularly interesting; it seems our way of life may be bleeding out and damaging other cultures in addition to our own. But the benefits of a good hug are obvious, even without the science to back it up. Women especially seem to benefit from the effects of hugging, and I wonder if that has anything to do with women seeming more naturally inclined to touch than men.

This webpage for a burn survival group has a nice list of rather common sense reasons why hugging is good for you. A few of my personal favourites? They're free, returnable and recyclable. The duration can be adjusted for any situation, and they even keep working after they're over. They help with stress, share happiness, and generally tell people you care. So go hug someone, and at least two people will be happy you did.

19 October, 2007

the perfect fit

So I have this urban planning class about designing for non-motorized transportation (pedestrians and cyclists), and while researching stuff about bike culture at different colleges I ran across this article about Terry Bicycles. I haven't ridden a bike in over a decade and don't know much anything about them, but I was impressed enough to remember most of the article's content. Why? I was fascinated by the idea that someone actually researched and designed a bike to fit a woman rather than just making a smaller version of a man's bike. "For example, a women's upper body is proportionally longer than a man's. So, a bike that fits men in the legs and upper body, will fit women in only one of these areas. The key to making a women's bike, she decided, is getting them into a slightly more upright position. " The result of this is that female riders don't have to endure the shoulder pain that develops from leaning too far forward.

I can tell you from personal experience that when speaking of items that are used directly in relation the the body, smaller versions of men's things often don't fit women well. For example: T-shirts (uncomfortable for anything over an A-cup), jeans (men are apparently less curvy), chairs and seats in cars (again with the curving- we need more lower back support), and power tools (don't fit comfortably in hand or have terrible balance). And with things like tools I hate being told that the problem is that women are underdeveloped in the wrong places or simply weak. Worse yet, we get patronizing versions of things "for the ladies." Does it come with nail polish and high heels to match the case? What am I supposed to do with that mostly-plastic drill that probably puts out as much power as an electric toothbrush? I'll take the one designed for the hand of a 300-pound tank of a construction worker, thank you very much- even if it does make my wrist hurt.

Whatever it is, something that fits well is worth extra research and money. Look at it like this: how much is it worth if you don't like to use it or simply won't? I wear the pairs of jeans that I love all the time and the ones I don't almost never. Banik and I love Henckels, and one day we'll spend the extra money for them because cooking is something we enjoy. And although it will likely cost more than most of the alternatives, if I ever decided to get a bike I'll think about getting one from Terry Bicycles. Goodness knows I could stand to exercise, and I think the $650 investment for the basic version would be worth it if I'd use it a couple times a week.

11 October, 2007

Two points of order

First, a note. This is pretty much the main reason, if I recall correctly, that this blog is here- keeping all those random pieces of information in one place- easily added, easily edited.

On to business- http://www.openlist.com/-/detail/?olv=local&ole=387014658&oll=Cambridge%2C+MA&k=Cambridge+restaurants

This is the link to a North African resturant recommended to us in Cambridge. Tasty Tasty- we hope.

and... - http://www.sushiencyclopedia.com/sushi_menu.html

Man we like sushi. Quite possibly more than is good for us. Here are the types, pictures, explanations, etc. I may convert this into a "I like, this is why" list also.


08 October, 2007

Fire and Ice

Since we're on the subject of Boston area restaurants, let us discuss Fire and Ice.

Clay first took me to the Cambridge Fire and Ice last January, and we've gone back at least once since then. I really like it, which might surprise anyone who's been to a Fire and Ice and who knows me at all. As it turns out there is a more or less "trendy" social experience that won't kill me. But I think this may be the only one so don't get your hopes up.

The experience is all about food as improvisational entertainment. The stage is a hole in the wall filled with brightly colored industrial decor, dim lighting and dance music; the people are the actors. You move through the crowd to pile whatever combination of things you want cooked into your bowl- say udon, mahi-mahi, pineapple, mushrooms, and sprouts- and then taste some of the sauces and pick from them- maybe half sweet and sour and half fruit. You take it up to this huge grill surrounded by people and hand it off to a chef who has undoubtedly been hired for both cooking ability and outgoing personality. As you're waiting there you're surrounded by this crowd of other waiting people who end up talking and laughing with each other and with the chefs and wait staff. If you're bored it's pretty much your own fault.

Oh, and there's a bar. From the looks of it the bar is pretty capable, but since most people are eating as they drink they aren't getting trashed. Instead of the bar being the most important feature here it's all about the grill, which is why this place is frequented by both families and college students. Even as someone with a bar aversion, that suddenly makes me not mind the bar at all. In fact Fire and Ice is where I finally sampled my first alcoholic beverage, and though theirs is a bit heavy on the alcohol part, a Mudslide continues to be the only such drink I like.

So the entire experience is up to you. Your food is as good or bad as your choices. You talk to whoever you want, drink what you want- hell, if you could find space probably even dance if you want. If you get the chance to, go for dinner; if you want something quieter instead, go for lunch.

07 October, 2007

Chinese and such

So, there are a number of chinese places here. Imagine that- Boston? And I can never rememeber exactly which ones I like, what certain dishes actually are and how good they taste. So I thought to my self, "Self, why don't you write down these things?"

I thought that was an uncommonly good idea.

So, Happy Garden:

Good General Tso's. A little spicy, and the breading almost tastes a little seafood-esque. A one time thing? I don't know, but it's tasty. Skimpy on the brocculi .

Yu Hsiang Shrimp. Juicy, wish it came with brown rice instead of white. It's shrimp in a garlicy sauce with lots of vegitables, which is nice. It's also very good cold.

Szechuan Chicken. Good while still hot but congealingly unappetizing when cold. It's slices of chicken in a spicy gravy with vegitables. Not sure how to describe the difference between the above sauces, other than it's not as sweet and more garlicy.

Their eggrolls are subpar.

Their crab rangoons are an 8 out of 10.


06 October, 2007

We should really write stuff down.

Which is actually why this blog exists. The most continually painful example of this is cooking. We make pretty awesome stuff, we don't write it down, and we can't figure out how to make it again. This is a sad, sad cycle in our culinary adventures.

When I was visiting up at MIT last year we made these hand pies. They were fabulous. We used leftover chicken korma we'd made the night before for savory ones. We also made two fruit versions that were kind of dessert-like but without being much more than naturally sweet-- apple with walnut chunks and raspberry with almond slices. Although we make it slightly differently every time we do more or less have the korma recipe, and we might be able to recreate those. But the fruit ones were completely on the fly with whatever was at hand, so we didn't write anything down. A lot of people dropped into the kitchen to see what smelled so good (which is per norm for us cooking somewhere), but I doubt any of them wrote it down either.

The worst case? An instance of perfection in the form of fried zuchini. Most people don't know that I love fried zuchini... probably more than is healthy. This was another visit to MIT, and goodness only knows what we put into the breading. Oh sure I know the technique for how we layered it before frying, that the white pepper was just right, and that there was, of course, salt involved (Banik in a kitchen for goodness sake, of course there's salt). But I have no idea about everything else. This zuchini was so perfect that if you had merely suggested the idea of dipping it into marinera sauce I would have stabbed you with my fork. But alas, all successive efforts have failed to equal that batch.

We really ought to write things down once in a while. Oh, and maybe measure stuff so we have something to write (as it turns out "some" is not a reproducable quantity). It's going to be very sad to spend the rest of my life trying to find good zuchini again, but I suppose everyone needs a goal in life.

03 October, 2007

I'm a planner.

So, here's the deal. I'm a planner. I don't mean that I must have every activity determined before hand or even know when I'm going when I get in the car. Instead, when it comes to large purchases or choices, I find that I experience buyer's remorse much less often if I spend time researching the subject and at least gettign a good working knowlege thereof. An example, you say? Sure!

Let's talk... Aquariums.

I used to have an aquarium. I was between 10 and 12, and kept a small 10g aquarium for a couple years. It was nice to have in my room.
Fast Forward a Decade. I decided to set up a marine (saltwater) aquarium in my dormroom at the beginning of a year. This is not as bad an idea as one would think. I knew that I wouldn't have to move it for a couple years, etc.etc. Long story short, I go home for the summer with the promise of a dear friend to take care of the tank while I'm gone. But Then. I return that fall to find my tank Dead. It was sad. The only thing living was algae.
Fast forward to the future. I would like an aquarium one day- build it into a wall, make it part of a room, etc. Of course, the requires a room of intransient proportion- hence the future.
Anyway, this means that some of my liesure time now is spent reading about aquariums. Such places as www.bostonreefers.org , www.reefs.org , etc. It's a lot more complicated than one would believe. There are theories regarding the proper trace minerals, the best species to use to attempt to create a relatively complete nitrogen cycle, the best spectrum lights to use, etc.
Now if my dear pet-loving significant other and I are going to spend some amount of money on a nice set up, then the best bang for the buck is a laudable goal. Anything less would be... inelegant and inefficient.

Now, take this example and apply it to anything. Computers, paintball, houses... There ya go. A little window into me.

02 October, 2007

Disapproving Rabbits

It may or may not be for the best, but I've discovered another blog that I can look at without channeling sarcasm. I've already been visiting Cute Overload and Stuff on my Cat, which I highly recommend to anyone who deals with a lot of stress. For those of you who aren't cat people there is Stuff on my Mutt, but I don't find that to be cute so much as people forcing their poor dogs to wear stupid costumes and other items of clothing. Still not your cup of tea? CO keeps a running list of links that may suit your fancy. Anyway, I'd like to think I already have enough cuteness in my life, but apparently not. This is all your fault; you know who you are, with your cartoon-pig-in-a-dragon-costume post-its.

For anyone who likes cute fuzzy animals in the first place (read as "anyone with a soul") Disapproving Rabbits has the potential to become a sinkhole of time... or at least a webpage that occupies time when your brain is useless following a late night and a relentless day of class but you have to work til 22:00 anyway. They're overflowing with all kinds of rabbits with one thing in common: overwhelming disapproval.

Perhaps the reason I don't channel sarcasm is that the rabbits do it for me? If so, I'm going to need an army of hopping minions. Certainly the ones that resemble powder puffs are out, but I have no idea if the upright or floppy earred ones would be better for maximum damage. Clearly this will require some research.

Will there be rabbits in our future menagerie? Perhaps. They'll have to join the waiting list along with everyone else. There have been maybe a dozen nominations, but I suppose that's another post for another time. At the moment it seems like having any pets is a very long way off.

29 September, 2007

Yogurt Cheese Fiasco

I think perhaps "Fiasco" is too strong a word.

Last night, some friends and I went out for dinner. Across the street was a grocery store, so we went over and a friend and I picked up the ingredients for yogurt cheese. This included such wonderful things as marjoram, oregeno, dill, basil, sage, garlic, and some red pepper. And of course, some plain yogurt.

The idea is to remove the whey, or the liquid, from the yogurt, leaving a cream-cheese like substance behind in the cheese cloth after it's drained for a day or two. Since yogurt is just a flavor carrier, it should take on the flavor of whatever you put with it.

All the spices and yogurt were mixed together and then poured into the cheese-cloth-lined colandar. At about this time, I started washing the containers to reuse and noticed that the first one was plain flavored... and the other was Vanilla flavored. Not exactly what I had in mind.

Today everyone tasted the resulting product, and it's not too bad. It tastes heavily of garlic with some of the other spices poking through as well. Unfortunately, it's the right consistancy near the cheesecloth, but too liquid at the center. Perhaps suspending cheesecloth over a baking pad and pouring the yogurt onto that would work better? Also, I think reducing the amount of garlic and Not using any vanilla could help things a bit...

Anyway, that's the latest adventure.


(a) Volunteer for Life

As one may or may not be aware, I have a history of volunteer work. I assisted my mom with PTA when she was president, did tech for community theatre, and helped with my high school band even after my little sister had graduated (and until my band director retired). I enjoy doing the thankless behind the scenes jobs merely for the satisfaction of knowing I helped someone or did something of interest to my esoteric sensibilites.

I feel fortunate that my school feels a commitment to its community and to communities in general and that during my eduation I've been 'required' to volunteer my time and skills to help people who cannot do what I've learned to do or think the way in which I've been trained. Honestly, if personally asked to perform a task by someone I respected I'd likely volunteer my time anyway (ungodly college schedule permitting). Apparently I'm too nice. I also know that it's a good experience.

Some among us who shall remain nameless probably experience ego inflation; after all, these poor souls view us as experts and call us Architects though we are years from becoming such.

I always find it humbling. I know enough to know that there is more to learn that I ever possibly could and that I don't have all the answers, only suggestions and ideas (and admittedly short patience in some arenas). I will happily give drawings and explanations for any who ask and are open-minded enough to listen, and I oft find myself interpretting and explaining the work of my colleagues in their absences. At 22:15 I was undoubtly the last student out tonight, and I'll go ahead and apologize now for anything I got wrong while interpretting and/or BSing about the drawings of others for the last three or so people I talked with tonight.

It's also humbling because these people thank me for my work and tell me that my drawings are beautiful. I know that I'm not all that good, mediocre at best. I've always judged myself by my failings and by the skill of my classmates. Over three years together for most of us, and I know that I can never measure up to His drawings (JM), Her renderings (EM), His observations and insights (NM), or Her designs (SN). I have a little pride in my models, but I also have equals, betters, and the ability to see the faults in my work more than anything.

Even so, I know that I'll continue to volunteer when asked, especially if my rather specialized abilities, such as they are, can be useful to someone. I'm sure there's an organization with such a need wherever my boyfriend and I end up after graduation, and if I drag him along with me he might finally have to learn something about design, too.

26 September, 2007


Another post about furniture that I'm mildly obsessed with, this time KDDO.

Knock-Down/Drag-Out is a line of designs by Material Furniture that is designed to be assembled and disassembled quickly and easily-- and for the most part without tools. The main material is plywood, so the pieces of furniture are very easy to ship or store when stacked flat. This plywood is also FSC certified, which is one of the reasons that KDDO has been acclaimed on sites like TreeHugger. Some other reasons include using minimal packing materials (enough to get it there safely) that are easy to recycle, and that they support the use of local resources and small businesses.

I originally found KDDO on Vivavi while seaching for ecofriendly furniture to go in UMD's LEAFhouse last year, and of all the hundreds of pieces I looked at it was one of the most memorable sets. I may not care much for the chair, but I would be happy to have the benches, tables, and even the bed in my house (yes, I realize it's not a canopy bed). I'm fairly certain that KDDO could also evolve into some sort of reasonable looking armchair or loveseat without getting too weird, but we'll have to do if Christopher Douglas decides to do any more pieces.

25 September, 2007

About the Canopy Bed Thing

That's my fault. You could say that they, and similar structures, are one of my peculiar fascinations. I think that it's something about the variations in transparency and enclosure that exist over the course of a day in different lighting conditions.

Anyhow, as with most interior design things I'm exceedingly picky about what I do and don't like, but I can never quite explain what makes the difference. I do know that there are a Lot of ugly canopy beds like this DIY monstrosity, and that pretty, pretty princess beds make me feed nauseated. There are a some neat beds that I'm not sure are canopy beds at all like this Mauro Bertame' bed and this one by Belgian designer Kris Van den Berghe. I think I move around too much to sleep on one of these hanging type beds, but they're interesting (as much as sleeping anywhere requiring mosquito netting can be "interesting").

It's really hard to find one that I like, actually. Ten pages of google images later, and I've not seen anything that I particularly like, though the modern sort of ones above certainly trump the frilly and ornate ones. Furniture design is a fleeting interest of mine, so I'll probably just make my own if I get the chance. Maybe I'll just get one for the dog instead.

Canopy Beds

So, a canopy bed? I think that might be nice. They are certainly nice... I wonder if I wouldn't feel enclosed, in a bad way? Who knows- they still look pretty awesome.

Of course, it would need those nice sheets, 600 count?, to make it more comfortable...

Something neat to try

So, one day we should try to make some stained glass windows. Maybe when we build/buy/rennovate/restore wherever we end up living for a suitable length of time. I think it would be a nice to have something we made together as a nice accent... or something.