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?