Saturday, November 28, 2009

Too short.

And just like that, my vacation is over. I'm tired, and I should go to bed, but I don't really want it to end yet. I don't really like here so much, but my husband and son are still here, and it's strange having a life there without them. I've booked my tickets for Christmas though - I'm taking a long break, over a week, and that will be good.

Hopefully next time, I won't have food poisoning. That put a bit of a damper on the trip for me, and I'll spare you the details, only to say that Thanksgiving dinner was much better going down than when it made its return. For posterity, however, I will say that a) I brined the turkey using Alton Brown's guidelines, and it was much better than usual that way. I will do that again. b) I tried to make pie crust, and I still don't have the knack. I used a 50/50 shortening/butter mix, and it was pretty meh. c) Cranberry sauce is excellent if you add in a pint of blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, and tangerine zest. d) I finally made the gravy well, but my stuffing was too crumbly. And yes, I'm really sad that I didn't eat many leftovers this year. Next year the big change will be to make a pecan pie and a pumpkin cheesecake. I'm neutral to negative when it comes to pie, and the husband isn't a big pumpkin fan. (I could, however, throw all caution and tradition to the wind and attempt this next year, but the primary limiting factor is that I don't have a stand mixer.)

Knitting news is very very boring, and I don't have my camera cable with me. I brought my Verona shawl, , which makes a lovely, wearable final product, but is a lot of uh, sure, let's say meditative knitting. I will wear this scarf quite a lot, but I'm less entranced with the knitting than some of the other folks who have been knitting it. It's soft and warm and almost weightless, and I like the color and the irregular qualities of the yarn. Frankly, it's almost long enough for me, but I wouldn't mind being able to wrap it around my neck one more time, so I suppose I'll just keep going for a while.

Finally, I'm leaving you with a video of a song that I'm very fond of. I just missed a concert I really wanted to see, but I was able to watch Mike Doughty in a live streaming of his NY concert tonight. He closed out the set with this song, "Your Misfortune," which is the last song on an album that I have listened to over and over again. This is from a show in Japan, not the one I watched tonight, but I think it's pretty, and some of you might like it as well.

Photos when I return and find my camera cable.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Lately, I've been reading a lot more nonfiction than fiction. Earlier this year, I finished reading Ghost Map, which is a pretty interesting read if you're interested in cholera, epidemiology, or social history. I didn't think that most of you would be that excited about it, and frankly, there are enough serious flaws to the book that I can't recommend it. The parts about epidemiology are great, but I didn't find the author's pontification on urban life to be particularly interesting, or enlightening, and could have been edited out. The loss of focus to the book was a serious flaw in an otherwise interesting read.

However, I'm reading something now that I think would be of more interest to anyone coming by my blog. I don't consider myself a serious foodie, but I like food, cooking, and eating. I also really like reading books about the aforementioned topics. Heat is written from the perspective of a journalist and cooking enthusiast who somehow managed to get a job as an extern in Mario Batali's kitchen. Buford writes well, and has a good story to tell. It's compelling reading, and has not only managed to inspire me to spend more time in the kitchen, but also to look into Batali's recipes and techniques. I've had mixed opinions of Food Network celebrity chefs, but Batali comes across as a guy who genuinely has some technique, and is a lot more interesting than his TV image. (Speaking of which, I tried to watch Rachel Ray cook Thanksgiving dinner in an hour. Was flipping through channels and caught about a minute or two, after which I went back to cartoons. I find her voice grating, and my son commented that what she was making didn't look very good.)

Anyhow, the other book I'm reading, but left at home, is Spice: The History of a Temptation. It's not nearly as fast of a read as Heat, and not as much fun. It's interesting though, if you have any interest in the history of spices, and the role they have played in exploration and expansionism. I haven't gotten that far into the book, and I'm more interested in the role spices played in social history, but it's not bad so far. I'm not going to give it a hearty endorsement yet, especially as I haven't finished the book, but if you have an interest in the topic, it's not bad.

I've had a resurgence of interest in cooking, and have been playing with the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day book. I'm a big fan of the basic bread recipe, and I enjoyed the olive oil dough, but I'm lukewarm on the brioche. I also decided it was time to toss out my old spices and start over with small jars from Penzey's. I've threatened to do this several times in the past, and after some really disappointing experiences, I decided it was worth the investment - and really, it's a lot cheaper than what I found at the grocery store. Speaking of which, I'm shortly off on my final run before Thanksgiving - I need about 4 things, as I'm testing some new recipes this year. I'll try to get some photogenic shots of anything that turns out particularly well. It's strange making a break from the Thanksgiving dinner I'm used to (my mom's), but I think it's time to try out some new traditions.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Testing testing

Just installed a blogging app for my iTouch. If this works, I'm more likely to be around more again. Finding time to pg has been tough - I've been really wrapped up in my work, not making time for anything else in my life. Time to strive for greater balance again. But for now, sleep. I'm beat, and there's lots of cooking in the immediate future. Photos and words in the morning.