Tuesday, December 26, 2006

because I need to waste more time:

So I should probably start spinning yarn.

Also, here is a picture of me dressed up as a T Rex for Halloween. I'm 4.

Monday, December 25, 2006

baking porn

So what did I do for Christmas this year?

Spent 18 hours making bread!

I read that New York Times article from Mark Bittman about the no-knead 18 hour bread when it first came out, and got all worked up about it (is this for real? is it good? is it as good as kneaded bread?), and then forgot about it until Chef Yum Yum made it and told me all about her fantastic results... I believe she said, "best. bread. ever." or something along those lines. Needless to say, my interest was renewed...

Of course, the original Times article has gone into their "you've gotta pay for it now" archive, so I couldn't find the original, but a quick google search revealed that no less than 88,000 food bloggers had made this bread, posted photos, discussed the pros and cons of the recipe (um, mostly pros...), and on a few sites I found the basic recipe. I printed up this one for my use in the kitchen, but I saw basically the same thing on a few other sites.

I mixed up that dough, set it aside in the laundry room to rise (it's warm in there, and not drafty like the rest of the house...) and waited. About 20 hours later (18 hours first rise, then you move it around a bit and let it sit for another 2 hours) it was ready to go in the oven! Now, had I been at my place in Chicago I would have baked this in my le creuset pot. (I want to marry that pot.) But, in the land of Hillsboro, Oregon there is only fancy non-stick cookware. I used the largest of my mom's calphalon pots, which are supposedly good in the oven up to 450 degrees. I may or may not have destroyed the pot... It was smoking quite a bit and the bread cooked faster than I expected. When I make this again I'll definitely use the le creuset, not calphalon.

The results were delicious!!!! I love the method of cooking in the pot - BRILLIANT. The inside of the bread is moist and bubbly and the crust is ... crusty!

So here's where I get critical. (This part always comes, huh.) When I use this method again I think I'll add a little something to the dough. As written, it doesn't have the most interesting flavor. I think the recipe is really more the structure of a method rather than a finished product in and of itself. Like a skeleton... At the very least, this bread needs some oil. With its bubbly consistency I think a little olive oil would really help this stuff out. Maybe I'll add some cloves of garlic as well? Sometimes my mom gets this bread from a local bakery that is crusty and olive oil-y and is chock full of whole cloves of garlic. I love eating pretty much anything with whole cloves of garlic in it. Also, maybe a little sweetener. That yeast needs something to snack on while it's rising for 18 hours, for Christ's sake.

Finally, having made kneaded bread about 10,000 times before, I don't think this no-knead method really replaces the old-school one. In practical terms, yes, I am a whole hell of a lot more likely to make bread that requires about 15 minutes of effort on my part. But there is really something to be said for the incredibly developed flavor you get from dough that has been worked and developed through kneading. Although it does rise nicely, it just doesn't get that elastic-y quality from sitting for 18 hours. Maybe I'm being nitpicky (and I'm not being delusional - I'm absolutely sure of this), but this bread just doesn't have that "developed" taste to it. But yeah, I will probably set aside some flour and yeast on a Friday evening so I can have some fresh bread for my dinner on Saturday night and the bread will be fantastic.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

i heart learning

So, regular visitors (both of you, ha ha) may notice that I've been messing around with the look of my blog, and that I put this bizarre photograph of some crosses on an apparently man-made hill at that top of the page. (Also, I made it CLICKABLE. I'm really proud of myself, can you tell?) I took that picture a couple years ago when driving to Virginia (from Chicago) for Thanksgiving. I think this was my first real trip to the south. (I KNOW, I KNOW. I grew up in New England. Give me a break.) I had been to Memphis in high school for a flute camp thing, but it was at Rhodes College, and anyone who's ever been to Rhodes would realize that the delicate little flute girls were kept within the iron gates of that campus the whole time. Seriously. There are gates. This is so creepy and bizarre. BUT, I did get to go to Graceland with my dad. That was fun.

Anyway, on this trip to Virginia my companion (ahem, ex-boyfriend) and I drove through a bit of Kentucky, where we kept seeing these small-ish hills with crosses on them on the side of the highway. The one in this picture was definitely the biggest we saw, and it was pretty far away, and I think it was the only one with three crosses instead of just one. I vaguely recall (and I could be making this up) telling my ex's dad about this (he was from Kentucky) and him saying he thought these roadside cross-mound sites were by a particular artist, or maybe a group or something. Now, if I'm going to have a picture of something on top of my blog, I want to know a little something about it. I like the picture, and I liked the roadside crosses, but, not to mince words, I just want to be sure I'm not putting some weird racist or otherwise inappropriate image on my blog and looking like an idiot. I tried some googling, but I know so little about what I'm looking for that this didn't get me very far. I did find this interesting piece on NPR referring to this book... But it doesn't exactly address what I'm looking for. Am I looking for something that's not there? I just want to know the story here. What can I say - I study religion. I'm curious.

Thoughts? Anyone?

Monday, December 18, 2006

hope that works out for you...

I just looked at my stats to see that someone recently found my blog by searching blogger for the phrase "no emotional attachment." They found this entry where I use that phrase as follows: "until finally I rediscover it, with no emotional attachment to the work I've put into it, and tear it out to cannibalize the yarn."

To the person who found my blog this way:

I see you stayed for a whole 0 seconds. You mean my lack of emotional attachment to hand knits that I have created wasn't exactly what you were looking for? Hope you find it, whatever it is. Maybe youtube has what you need?

best wishes in the holiday season,

a *successful* blog entry

I hope. I typed that subject heading first, actually... So who knows. But with no further ado - MY NEW SOCKS!

Why yes, I wear socks and tights together with torn denim skirts on a regular basis, thank you! Don't worry, I put some very tasteful cowboy boots over them when the time came to leave the house!

And a close-up of the stitch pattern:

Photos courtesy of MY MOM. Who had very little patience for me bossing her around about how exactly the pictures should look. Go figure. Doesn't her camera take way sexier pictures than mine, though? That's because it's fancy and new!

Here's the specs:

These are the Embossed Leaves Socks, by Mona Schmidt, from the Winter 2005 issue of Interweave Knits. I started out on 2 US2 circulars by INOX, but switched it up to magic loop for the last portion of the second sock just for fun. (Woooo knitting fun!) The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (wool & nylon) in the Sherbet colorway.

I used a super-loose regular old cable cast-on instead of the funky one described in the pattern. I think I wasn't understanding it as written right off the bat and got antsy. Needless to say, even super-loose, my cast-on is pretty damn tight. Also, I had to block the bejesus out of these to get them to be long enough for my feet. I should have just come to terms with my huge feet and added a little length...

Next FO post: white cashmere headband! I'm also due for an update of some works-in-progress. But first, to update my sidebar...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

a failed blog entry

Well, it's taking flickr an ugabajillion years to "process" the two photos I'm trying to upload of my socks, so I'll babble while that happens... I'm in Portland right now, and my plans for today include playing a kazoo in Pioneer Courthouse Square (It's a Kazoo Christmas!!! - organized by my friend Jennea, among others) and spending several uninterrupted hours in THIS AMAZING STORE. Shockingly, when I said I was going to Powell's after the kazoo thing my parents decided not to accompany me. They know how it is with me and Powell's. I will never, ever agree to leave. They will be falling asleep on benches. Then when I finally decide it's time to go I will get lost trying to get out, then get distracted by some attractive display of things I didn't realize I needed until that very moment and then several more hours will pass. Oh, Powell's. How I love you. Even if your kids went to my high school and were kind of jerks.

Hm flickr still processing. Maybe I should just move closer to the router? But the couch is so comfortable. Oh yeah, I'm sick. This always happens when I come home. I think when it's the end of a quarter and I'm all worn down, then I fly home (and I feel like I'm constantly inhaling other people's diseases on airplanes) to a place where it is perpetually cold and wet ... then I get sick. Go figure.

Apparently flickr failed. Interesting. I feel like I'm doing a blogging stand-up comedy act here.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

grease fires: 101

I'm really pleased with myself that I made these potatoes for lunch, and was thinking "wow, I've really improved upon Ruth Reichl's recipe here," nearly started a grease fire and burned the bejesus out of both my forearms, and yet I still have the audacity to post it on my blog. I think the recipe is JUST THAT GOOD. So, I was planning on taking some really pretty pictures of these guys after they were done ... but I didn't take them, after the arm-burning and near grease fire...

So here it is - my improvement upon Ruth Reichl's recipe. HA.

I read her memoir (one of them, I guess), Garlic and Sapphires, many many months ago, and I still think about it almost every day. And I make the recipes frequently. They are GOOD. And the memoir bothers me in some ways, yet I continue to think about it. So it's not that it's bad... I just have some issues with it. And she'll probably find some way to sue me and put me in jail or something for trashing it on my blog, and I swear to GOD I like it, and maybe if I knew her I wouldn't feel this way, but this book is written about the period when she started working as the restaurant critic for The New York Times, through her tenure there, until she started working as the editor of Gourmet Magazine. I love the stories in the book. She's dressing up in crazy costumes, seeing how these different types of people get treated at different NYC restaurants ... it's all very exciting and scandalous. But this issue occasionally comes up, where she is lamenting, along the lines of, ... Ohhhh I used to be in Berkeley, all 'stick it to the man' and eating granola and whatnot and really believing in things, and now I'm the restaurant critic for the New York Times, and I don't want to be an elitist and lose touch with the people BLAH BLAH BLAHHH and I just find it quite false and self-indulgent and patronizing. Maybe that's just me.

I've made quite a few of the recipes she printed in that book, and man are they good, though. This one is almost great, but I think it needs a little help, and I am truly a supreme asshole for thinking I can improve upon Ruth Reichl's recipe, based on something she ate in a famous New York restaurant. Especially when I nearly started a grease fire making it... But these hash browns are GOOD and I just want to get my 2 cents in here.

Hash Browns

about 2 lbs. small waxy potatoes
6T unsalted butter
1/2 small onion, very finely diced
salt and pepper

Boil the potatoes about 10 minutes, until they are cooked about 1/2 way through. Drain, and dump them into some cold ice water to make them stop cooking, and cool enough so you can touch them. Skin them and chop them up into cubes of about 1/4".

Melt 4T butter of medium heat in a 10" non-stick skillet. Add the potatoes, smoothing them over to make a cake, and let them cook, undisturbed (only occasionally pressing down on the top of the cake with the back of a spatula, but not moving the potato cubes around) until the bottom layer is browned together. That butter will be bubbling up through the potato cubes and making them soooo delicious. (and making them hold together...)

Evenly sprinkle the diced onions on top of the potatoes, with a generous tossing of salt and pepper.

Put a large plate (the flattest one you can find) upside down over the top of the potatoes and turn the heat off. Let them steam for about 3 minutes, then grab each side of the plate/pan disk and flip it upside down, so the potato-cake falls down onto the plate. (This is where I almost started the grease fire. I know butter's good and all, but don't use so much you almost burn down your apartment. For the record, I've done this twice before to great success. Sans fire. I recommend those silicone pot holders - you can get a good, firm grip on the pan-plate disk with those suckers, and that makes the flipping less scary.)

Put the pan back over medium heat and melt a little bit (2T) more butter. Then carefully (this is *#$*# hard) slide the potato cake off the plate onto the pan, if possible, without breaking up the cake formation. Let it cook in the butter about 4 more minutes, until the bottom is browned and crusty as well.

When it's done, getting the cake out onto a serving platter intact is tricky. Reichl says to slide it out of the pan. This never works for me. I think you have to be Ruth Reichl (i.e. have magic powers that defy space and time) to do that. But you know what does work, is just flipping it onto another platter, like you did before. The flipping has to be FAST but not vigorous, so the potatoes all fall at once. Season with salt and pepper again, and serve in a giant cake so as to wow your guests.

For the record, here are some of the things I do differently to make this recipe a little bit more manageable. Reichl uses a cast iron skillet. I'm sure that tastes great and all, but I am not muscle-bound and flipping a cast iron skillet is damn hard. Plus, if you use a non-stick one, the potatoes WON'T STICK. That also makes the flipping easier... Also, I'm not that meticulous about peeling the potatoes. I cut them up and most of the skin comes off, which allows them to cook together into a cake, but I like a little skin... it's good for you. Also picking every last bit off is a pain in the @#)$* when you have a whole ton of small potatoes. Finally, I chop my potatoes WAY smaller than she does. She says to cut them into 1" cubes and I have no idea how you would get potato cubes that big to stay together in a cake. I'm even wondering if that's a typo it's so big...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

what kind of blog is this, anyway?

...because I appear to have very little focus. I'd say it's a knitting-food-school-other things leo does hybrid. So here's some knitting!

This is something I've been working on, and they're SO SO CLOSE to being done! Tomorrow, maybe, I will finish them, because I have the whole day to clean up the house and do my laundry before heading to Oregon for Christmas ... so yeah, there will be some knitting breaks involved. Then I can take them home, completed, and show my mom, who I mentioned before reprimanded me recently for working on millions of things at once and told me that I must finish, I think it was three of my current ongoing projects before starting anything else.

(OH, and tomorrow I'll have to think about what knitting project to bring home. OH THE AGONY!)

With no further ado, I give you the socks:

I'll have you know I cut my toenails just for this photo shoot. Ohhh pretty.

So the colors: it's damn dark out in Chicago today. Really ugly weather. So there's no sunlight AT ALL in my apartment. I'd say the most accurate representation of the color of that yarn is on my left foot there, the sock in progress.

Here's the specs: these are the embossed leaves socks from some old Interweave Knits. (I'll be more thorough when posting them as a finished object, I swear...) I'm using Inox US2. I started out using 2 circs, but just switched to magic loop, you know, for the hell of it. I like it. Less just hanging around my hands while I'm knitting. So now that sock in progress is on on 29" US2. The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (80% superwash wool, 20% nylon) in the color "Sherbet." (surprise surprise, I'm knitting something bright pink!) I started a second skein shortly after the heel on that second sock, so I'll probably end up with about 2/3 of a skein left there... maybe I'll make some bright pink ankle socks!

My thoughts on the pattern so far - what's with the cast-on this pattern calls for? I'm not sure I understand it. Also, although the fancy decreases in the toe that coincide with the lace pattern are neat, I have big-ole feet and I think I could have standed to knit these a little longer. We live and learn, I suppose, and I am learning how to make socks that fit better... Also, I can already tell that the decreases underneath my toes are going to piss me off. But DAMN those are some cute socks.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

writing a blog is easier than writing a paper.

And it's more fun.

I've been messing with my template, so you will notice that there are now "reading" and "listening" areas on the sidebar, with links! So much fun, and so gratifying to make those things appear there! I've been fooling around with using the blogger "widgets," where I can click and drag things around (the super easy way of making things appear over there) and trying to figure out how I can edit them on a lower level to do things like there be images for what I'm reading and listening to... I can do this, but I'm trying not to spend hours on it while writing a paper. Rrrrright. I also don't want the sidebar to look like a giant ad for amazon, even though I want to link there...

ANYWAY. I had a fantastic dinner out last night and I'll have to blog about that soon, when I have time to. I'm not taking pictures and making notes in restaurants YET, but getting damn close.

I've also become really curious lately about all the different types of salt, and salts from different places ... I love salt, so why not obsess about it to a really minute degree?!!

Finally, and I'm SO SO proud of this so please excuse my bragging - I was just able to put a note on a paper saying "all translations are my own work" for the first time ever. THIS is exciting!!! It certainly makes for excessively complicated paper writing, because then I feel like not only do I have to back up my argument (using these translations), in some cases I have to argue about why I translated something a certain way, why I think that's right, and OH LOOK HOW CONVENIENT that interpretation happens to support my argument in this here paper...

God I wish I had some time to knit today. I've really got to figure out how to knit and type at the same time. Maybe knitting with my feet? Or typing with my feet? Suggestions? Maybe I should teach my roommates how to knit and use them in an incredibly immoral sweatshop fashion? Or maybe I could dictate my paper ideas to them while I knit??? THAT sounds like a good one. No background knowledge required...

a note: how incredibly META that most of my posts are about blogging. I think I'm going to go vomit with disgust now.

Friday, December 8, 2006

quasi-cantonese beans and rice

From food

Other name possibilities include krypto-cantonese beans and rice, pseudo-cantonese beans and rice, or my personal favorite: meatrice. (Sorry, Chef YumYum, this one's not for you!)

This recipe is a schlepped-together version of something amazingly delicious and flavorful that I had at a friend's house a while back. This friend prepared an enormous dinner for many people, focusing on Chinese food. Not the General-Tsao's-Chicken-kind - the closer-to-what-people-actually-eat-in-China kind.

As an aside, I've been to China once, and MAN did I eat some good food. I wasn't really culinarily aware enough yet to commit any of the meals I had there to memory, so I really don't know much about Actual Chinese Food beyond the fact that I never ate any General Tsao's Chicken or fortune cookies there. (Although, I did have something that a friend translated for me as "black tofu" from a street market in Beijing, where Chinese people were selling all kinds of parts of animals and bugs and things - all on sticks, incidentally, from what I recall - to amaze and horrify the Americans and Australians wandering through. It was a pretty touristy thing, but fun. I recall mostly Australians eating the weirder items they had... Anyway, the black tofu was decidedly unremarkable when I ate it, but it made me spectacularly sick soon thereafter. The guy who sold it to me told my Chinese-speaking friend that it was "seasoned, and then left in a moist dark place for several days," while giggling maniacally. SHOCKING that it made me violently ill... ANYWAY as it turned out I didn't die in China and returned to America to write in this blog. Ha ha.)

So the friend who made the somewhat "authentic" (as far as I know) Chinese meal copied a recipe for me called "Cantonese Clay Pot Rice." All I have is that photocopy, and I have no idea who wrote the recipe or what book it's from. So if you happen to recognize the butchered elements of your recipe here, random chef, please don't sue me too hard. Remember, I have a lawyer roommate.

Quasi-Cantonese Beans and Rice

about 1/4 oz. dried porcini mushrooms

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon multi-purpose flour
1 chicken thigh, thinly sliced

1 1/2 c. chicken stock/broth/whatever
1 c. long-grain rice (I used basmati because that's what I have in a long-grain variety)
about 1/8 c. barley (it's okay to go without the barley, but I like how it makes the rice taste a little heartier and nuttier)
3 thin slices peeled fresh ginger
about 3/4 c. cooked red beans*
2 oz. Canadian bacon, thinly sliced***

a generous handful of chopped cilantro

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Pour hot water over the porcinis just to cover them and let them stand about 20 minutes to soften. Drain, saving the water. Press the mushrooms to get all that tasty mushroomwater out. Rinse them to get rid of any remnants of dirt that may be stuck to them. It's a good idea to strain the mushroom water through cheesecloth or a coffee filter to get the dirt out of that as well.

Stir the soy sauce and flour together in a small bowl, and toss with the sliced chicken in to coat. Let stand for about 10 minutes.

In a clay pot** combine the chicken broth, strained mushroomwater, rice, barley, ginger, mushrooms, and beans. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Sprinkle the sliced Canadian bacon and sliced and marinated chicken evenly over the top of the rice, cover the pot, and bake it in the middle of the oven for about 25 minutes. All the liquid should be absorbed, the rice fully cooked (and the chicken!), and it should be slightly crusted to the edge of the pot. Sprinkle the cilantro over the top. The variety of textures makes for an exciting meal!

From food

*I like to buy dried beans and cook them in a slow cooker with delicious broth and spices, then keep them in small containers in the freezer and pull them out as I need them. The red beans I had on hand were cooked in chicken broth with bay leaves until al dente, so they wouldn't be obliterated when I cooked them into a recipe. Canned beans would of course do fine, when rinsed, but fresh beans always make such a difference. Try it! Perhaps I'll blog about my beans some time.

**This is the ideal. I don't have a clay pot. I do have a le creuset dutch oven, however, which I love very much. This worked really well.

***Chinese sausage would be a great addition, as it is called for in the original recipe that I'm riffing on here. I didn't have any, though.

i'm going to be so strong and beautiful

I lifted weights this morning.

YES. I exercised. I'm not in severe pain yet, but I'm sure that's to come. Soon I'll be doing those terrifying yoga headstands with the best of them... Becki and I have planned a yoga study-break for this afternoon. I'm basically counting down the minutes. The only thing is, I have to start studying...

Now let me put some more cream and sugar in my coffee...

I deserve it. I lifted weights.

Well, since google/blogger seems to be having some sort of ISSUE publishing my post ... I thought beta blogger was supposed to be more reliable? Even though I couldn't mess with the html, wordpress was reliable...

Thursday, December 7, 2006

new home!

So, I quickly tired of the limitations of customization options at wordpress. If I can't edit every aspect of that page, I just don't think I can have anything to do with that. The break came when I wanted to put my own stat counter in the code. Yeahhh they don't do that. Or at least not for free, and let's face it, free is what I'm after. New posts to come. Sorry for the confusion for the ... 6 or so of you who actually read my blog.

i'm addicted to yoga

It's like a drug. I love it so much. Especially when it's HARD and it HURTS. I've never liked exercise. I ran around in the yard and climbed a lot of trees and swam a lot as a child, but actual exercise... that was something else entirely. It's probably just because I was teased a lot as a child. I was awkward, I was kind of weird, I liked to read and play music and be by myself (these are still among my favorite activities), and when it came to gym class I was ALWAYS the kid who got hit in the face with the soccer ball (seriously.) and it would break my glasses.

Also, I apparently have some kind of weird double-jointed elbows or something because at yoga tonight I could do something with my arms that I shouldn't be able to. And trust me, it wasn't HOT. Just kind of creepy and weird.

So, here's one of the MANY items I've been knitting lately, on paper-writing breaks:

From knitting

It's slow going, only knitting on breaks from writing a paper. But it's going to be a cold-weather headband thingy, because I'm vain and I hate putting a hat over my hair. I got the idea here: from this craftster thread. But I've been altering the pattern quite a bit, and I'll post the results here when I'm done. Basically, it's a long ribbed thing that gets wider in the middle, and when I'm done I'll sew the ends together. It's in this really sexy cashmere that I got for cheaps off ebay. (this seller) It's probably the fanciest fiber I've ever knit with, and it feels AMAZING in my hands. Buttery, even. I can't wait to have it on my FACE.

From knitting

That picture comes nowhere close to revealing the sexiness of that yarn. I am ashamed for even having taken it. The one of the headband in progress is better, actually. That way you can see the nice halo. The yarn fuzzes up quite a bit when it's knit, but it's not shedding everywhere...

But seriously, I am for some reason extremely sensitive about even slightly scratchy things touching my face. (Perhaps this is related to my other issues concerning personal space and touching?)

The other great thing about this project (besides the fact that I'm going to have something very warm and fuzzy on my ears that won't mess up my hair very, very soon) is the needles I'm using:

From knitting

(yes, and that one is slightly blurry, isn't it. Well, I tried my best.)

Those are CLASSIC. Red heart brand. With little hearts on the end! And they're plastic, and you know, they're really not bad! (size US4) Besides their inherent cuteness factor, I love them because they were my grandmother's. She died this summer, and she was the last grandparent I had. And the toughest. (this is the understatement of the century. she was an awesome lady.) It was so sad and bizarre when my parents and I went to her place for the weekend of the funeral.

(A little background is required here: my parents live in Oregon. Everyone else in the family is in New Hampshire. We always stay at my grandmother's house when we go to visit.)

There was a lot. of stuff. in that house. There was a lot of stuff related to crafting. If you name a craft, chances are my grandmother did it one point or another and there were supplies for it in that house. Most of what was there was to be negotiated between my grandmother's four children, but clearly no one was interested in the yarn/knitting/crochet supplies besides me and my mom. My grandmother could never knit with me because when I took it up (in college, probably about 7 years ago) she was already too arthritic to deal with needles and yarn. Most of the yarn that was in her house was old acrylic and realistically, I'm just not going to do anything with that and there are other people out there that would buy a big bulk lot of that, and/or actually use it... There were lots of needles, though, and I did manage to find quite a bit of wool, and I've started making a blanket for my dad with some of it. (pictures as soon as there is more than an inch worth of knitting to show you) These needles with the hearts are my favorites, though.

the morning after...

Things I've learned lately:

  • It's not really a good idea to gamble over a video game with a man who wants to write a dissertation on video game music. Because you might end up owing someone a meal at a restaurant. That is no small stake for a graduate student!!! Apparently my drunken memory concerning Donkey Kong is flawed. And other video games I played under the influence of various intoxicants in college. In my memory, I was so awesome!!! Go figure. For the record, when I get that super nintendo I will get all those Donkey Kong games and the whole world will see the bees that get mad and turn red. They exist; I know it. No matter how insane it sounds!!!

  • I should really not wait until the last possible second to start papers. I'm getting a little bit better about this. I'm at least able to write papers about things I give a shit about now, and I've learned a lot in the last couple years about how to write good (or at least, better than shitty) papers, so that's good. But making myself write is hard. I'm terse in papers, and things never take up as much space as I want them to. Maybe I should just accept that and try to get the ideas across in my *special* terse way.

  • Frozen hash browns are really never very good. At all. And to make up for my hash brown disappointment this morning, I think I'm going to have to make a hash brown cake Ruth Reichl-style (recipe in this book) very soon to make up for it. And I plan on using an entire stick of butter. Because I hear butter makes potatoes taste good.

  • In the realm of knitting, I never finish anything. Or, I rarely finish anything. My mother reprimanded me over email last week about this. She's a good knitter. I taught her a couple of years ago, and I'm not sure if she's surpassed me skill-wise, but she's definitely produced more actual finished items than I have. I have knitting ADD. I get easily distracted by other yarns and patterns, I get halfway done with something and realize it's going to be itchy or boxy and ugly in some indescribable way, and so I tear it out. Or I let it sit around for years and years in a box in my bedroom, moving it from one apartment to the next (hey, half-finished knitwear weighs less than my millions of books, alright) until finally I rediscover it, with no emotional attachment to the work I've put into it, and tear it out to cannibalize the yarn. I'm like one of those insane artists who destroys all their work or something. Only my work isn't brilliant!

today in procrastination

Thanks to this roommate I have discovered the wonders of the google homepage. And I spent an embarrassing amount of time this morning adding little gadgets to mine and organizing them onto tabs. Clearly I should have been a tax lawyer as well, because I am so. fucking. anal. Since this other roommate failed us in the dog department, I now have to resort to fantasizing about owning adorable dogs I see on the internet and wishing I had the time and money to own one. Realistically, I am never home, and owning a dog would be ridiculous. I also like kitties, but have too many severely allergic people in my life, so that would never work. Also, what if I ended up with an evil one like some people's cats? Anyway, all this is to justify the fact that I put something called "the daily puppy" on my google homepage. I love me some daily puppy. Sue me.

In a more intellectual moment of my day, I discovered this fantastic segment of NPR's "This I Believe," by Joan Tower. I had the occasion to meet her a few years ago when I was in college. A number of women composers visited the conservatory (this one, for those of you who are curious) as part of a week-long series of programs, masterclasses, recitals, etc featuring music composed by women. Anyway, I performed every day that week and loved every minute of it. I had bronchitis, too. So I was hacking and wheezing and playing my flute for hours every day and LOVED IT. The best part of the week for me was meeting Joan Tower. I was playing this funny little piece of hers called "Valentine Trills" that is something like a minute and a half long and consists of lots of fast notes and yes, TRILLING. (Incidentally, when she was being introduced - or introducing herself, I can't remember - at the recital featuring her works, she/the introducer said that she would like to "disown" one of the pieces on tonight's program. A particularly jerky member of the conservatory faculty who will remain nameless as this is the internet told me it was probably the one I was playing, given that it was so silly, and in retrospect it probably was, but what kind of an asshole points that out to a 20 year old flutist about to perform a piece of music in front of a recital hall full of people, including the composer of the piece? Asshole.) So the performance was fine, all 90 seconds of it, but what was really fun was when I got to play "Valentine Trills" for Tower in a coaching. I played through the piece, and she said, "you know, it sounded fine, but why don't you play it again." I played it again. "Yeah, you got all those notes." (as I did get all the notes - I was pretty awesome at that kind of thing in college) ... "What do you say we go get something to eat?" (So as I write this it's becoming increasingly clear that she just didn't like this piece, but I'll continue.) So we walked across campus and got some french fries and sat and chatted over them. She was kind of a spaz and kept getting ketchup on herself, but her enthusiasm for music - writing music, playing music, reading about music, watching music be performed... was completely infectious. And that was something that was easy for me to lose track of at said conservatory from time to time. It was easy to get bogged down in the "I have to practice for four hours today and oh shit I have a paper due on Tuesday and a lesson tomorrow and I'm going to sound like crap and get yelled at by the raving bitch that conducts the orchestra" and completely forget that music is something FUN and beautiful and nourishing and that I was participating, and continuing to participate in it because I love it, and I benefit from it - spiritually, intellectually, socially ... I could go on and on. And clearly I am because that was the longest run-on sentence ever written. And Tower's "This I Believe" essay really demonstrates the same honesty and enthusiasm that I was so captivated by when I met her. Everyone I know should go read it. Here. Do it now.

Hello world!

I'm leaving that generic wordpress subject line there for my first post. I think it's hilarious. And actually it's December 2nd. The day I tried to start this blog is whatever date about a month ago is listed above. I can't figure out how to change it. Sue me.

So I've tried to start blogs many times before, but I have trouble with it. The thing is, I write a LOT. I write a lot of pointless emails, I run my mouth (sans filter most of the time) pretty much all day, but I have trouble committing. I also have a problem with internet monogamy. And plus, I take terrible pictures. I mean really bad. The kind people on other blogs make fun of and complain about. I can never get things properly lit, they are somehow always blurry, I own what must be the first digital camera ever made (still works great, though, although it doesn't have much in the way of storage space), and even when I take the picture and I think it looks great, I put it on my computer and notice that it's horribly crooked and I've cut out half of someone's face or something. So bear with me on the pictures. Oh also, it's Chicago in winter. There isn't much natural light in my apartment. Also, there aren't many spots where I can take a picture of something/someone without getting a cardboard box, a pile of discarded beer bottles, or something else along those lines in the background... "Here's my knitting! Here's some delicious food I made! Here's my roommate! Oh, what's that in the background you say? Just some vagrant we picked up off the street who is sleeping and vomiting all over the couch! Don't mind him!!!"

Oh well. What can I do. This morning I downloaded Picasa, along with the whole damn Google desktop, and so far I'm a fan. That google software is pretty great. I like the idea that I can click one button in Picasa and my pictures won't look quite so retarded.

To conclude, here are two pictures of some apple streusel I made this morning from a mix in a box. Note the cardboard box in the background. And that the streusel is sitting on a chair. I really wanted to eat that streusel, so I had to figure out where to take that picture FAST. Also, I loooove baking things in a cast iron pan. They just look so ADORABLE!
my streusel!

streusel again

edit: Screw you, google! Why am I inexplicably "forbidden" from your web-based photo album thing! I blogged about how much I love your software!!! FINE! I'll use flickr like everyone else in the free world. But I wanted to use YOU, google, because you put that handy little button in Picasa to put my pictures directly into my google web album with one click! Why, google, WHY!!!!