Saturday, May 30, 2009

There is no charge for awesomeness

You want awesome?  I'll give you awesome.


Herbie!

THAT, my friends, is awesome.  I saw it in the parking lot at the Good Mall.  I want to be friends with the person who would paint their car like that.  I suspect that (s)he is fabulous.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Living alone is...laziness

Living alone is leaving your last load of laundry in the dryer as long as you want, and just pulling out whatever item you need each day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Apparently the German word for "countdown" is "countdown"

This was one of my favorite songs when I was younger. Except...you know. In English. There are several beautiful things about this version though, so I had to include it. Watch for a cameo by a very popular extraterrestrial.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chicken strip bake-off

So I have two recipes for chicken strips/popcorn chicken.  One, I clipped out of the newspaper several months ago, and one was just posted by the Pioneer Woman.  I tried a few variables today to determine which I liked better.  There are no pictures.  I was too hungry.

In both trials, I seasoned them only with salt and pepper.  The P-Dub's recipe uses flour to coat, and the newspaper's recipe used breadcrumbs.  I'll explain more when I get there.  First, PW's.

I didn't soak my chicken in buttermilk as long as she suggests, but it turned out fine.  I also made A LOT LESS, of course, because she's feeding a cowboy and I am feeding me.  I had some leftover fajita chicken (maybe? it's very thinly sliced) in the freezer.  It came in a tray with several little partitions, and I used one block, which was maybe 4-ish ounces.  I also tried one piece with bread crumbs.

The newspaper recipe was for oven popcorn chicken.  I did the buttermilk soak as well, since I don't remember what the recipe called for, as I seem to have misplaced it.  It's probably in my pile of newspaper clippings.  I used a panko/breadcrumb mix (mostly because I have looooots more breadcrumbs than panko), also seasoned with salt and pepper.  I didn't try one with the flour coating, although I guess I should have, for science's sake.

Anyway, once the chicken is coated in the bread crumbs, you spray it with oil.  It might work with Pam and the like, but I have one of those spritzers that you pump.  You get a hearty coating of oil, but still not a lot.  With Pam, you'd probably have to use a lot more, or at least it would seem that way.  Spray both sides, and cook.  I did ten minutes at 400-ish, then turned them over, turned the oven off, and gave them another five minutes.  Too long, probably, but I have an unholy terror of undercooked meat.

The results?  The oven ones were definitely crunchiest, even more than the fried breadcrumb one.  The fried ones did have a little more flavor, because really, fat is yummy.  Plus, the oven version has much less fat, and I don't end up smelling like oil.  I like to cook, but I hate smelling like cooking.  I dipped them all in ranch dressing, so the flavor level was not too big of a deal.  Ultimately, I'll have to go with the oven version and just season them more.  I hate having to pour all that oil out.  But I REALLY hate smelling like food.

Not for the colorblind

I don't know how many of you subscribe to Very Short List, but I highly recommend it. Many interesting little things are discovered through them. Like the delightful In B Flat, wherein one gets to mix one's own music. (Try it!) And today, they had a link to a color hue test. I thought I had missed a couple, but I did better than I expected. A perfect score is 0, and I scored 8. So, not bad, really. Try that one, too.

This is me, fulfilling my internet obligation of providing you with interesting things to waste your time. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a dentist appointment.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Let me explain

You may be wondering why I wanted to know your favorite Phil Collins song.  Well, a few days ago, I was driving home from work with the windows down, and I found a Phil Collins song on the radio.  It was kind of cranked up so I could hear it over the road noise, and I couldn't help but think how funny it was to be at a stoplight with "Against All Odds" blaring.

And then I got to thinking about how he has such a diverse musical library.  From "Sussudio" to "In the Air Tonight" to "Another Day in Paradise" to the soundtrack songs...he has it all, really.

My two favorites, if you were wondering, are "Against All Odds" and "Separate Lives."  They kind of compete for first, but it's pretty much dead even.  My favorite single line, though, is "Got your ticket, got your suitcase, got your leaving smile" from "Can't Stop Loving You."

There's a great episode of This American Life that features Mr. Collins and his awesome ability to write break-up songs.  My favorite line from the episode is "A break-up song won't ever suggest you start online dating."  Indeed.

Friday, May 22, 2009

QUICK!

What's your favorite Phil Collins song?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The "average" person

Do you ever compare yourself to "average" person statistics? Like, today in the New York Times, there's an article about a soda tax that says, "The typical person now consumes 190 calories a day from sugary drinks, up from 70 a day in the late 1970s." Dude. My average day includes 0 calories from sugary drinks. Occasionally I'll have a can of soda, but that's generally what, 120 calories? I don't even know.

Or a couple years ago, when the personal savings rate was negative? I was saving nearly 30%. So when you consider that there are people like me who are way off in one direction, that means that there are people who are way off in the other direction. It's kind of crazy. That means that people were spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars more than they made, or are drinking hundreds and hundreds of calories.

In other news, the Food section in today's Times is very disappointing. With the exception of an interesting recipe for homemade ginger ale. That I would try. Except how to get fresh ginger juice without an extractor...?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Library expansion

Amount spent: $20.50
Number of new (to me) books purchased: 26
Number of tea cups purchased: 0
Dinner: leftovers

I'd list all the books, but who really cares?  It's young adult fiction, mostly.

The really funny thing is that I went in to buy tea cups.

A new way to look for things

It's a long video, but I highly suggest you check out this new search engine. If nothing else, it has proven that I am right when I say that most people named Catherine are my parents' age. It may not be the next Google--"Just Wolfram it" doesn't have quite the same ring--but it is helpful if you want to know what the phase the moon was in when you were born. (Waning gibbous.)

"Money's too tight for steak," Marge replied.

So, I was making a 1/8 scale replica of the Pioneer Woman's creamed spinach last night (except it wasn't an exact replica, because I used half-and-half instead of milk and no onions...why do people put onions in every stinking recipe? Gross.) and I realized that my Rachael Ray cheesy spinach artichoke pasta sauce is basically creamed spinach with artichoke hearts and cheese thrown in at the end. I don't know why that was such a revelation to me. Perhaps because I don't do a lot with spinach. Until this month, apparently, when I have had three different dishes with cooked spinach. Crazy.

I had a lovely steak dinner last night, with Parmesan roasted potatoes and the aforementioned spinach. I finally found a way to cook steak indoors that I find acceptable: sear it in butter then straight into the oven for a few minutes. Have I mentioned that before? Anyway, if you don't have a grill, that's the way to go. Much better than the George Foreman. And despite my best efforts otherwise, I managed to not burn my hand. Even keeping the oven mitt on my hand was no guarantee. But all's well that ends well.

I don't think I've been getting enough iron lately. When do I ever get enough iron, you ask? When I take my iron supplements, that's when. Craving beef and spinach must be a sign, no?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Some people you just can't discuss religion with

I got this from my boss. I get so many random things forwarded to me at work.

They don't make shows like "Cheers" anymore.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

You'll roux the day...!

I just managed to dirty nearly every pot and pan I own. I was making spinach artichoke cheesy tortellini, and I realized that the pot I was cooking the tortellini in was too small. Oops. So I poured it into my big pot and we were back on track. Right after that, I couldn't figure out why the sauce was so darn thin. I checked the recipe...and it turns out I forgot to make the roux. Yeah, that would make a difference.

So I poured it all into my not-favorite-pan, made a roux in the good pan (even if it does burn your hand when you touch it after forgetting that it has just been in a 450 degree oven. At least it can go in the oven!). I then added the sauce back into the roux, whisked the lumps out...or most of them. Close enough for rock and roll.

Basically, it took me 45 minutes to make a "30-minute meal," I used twice as many dishes as necessary, and had a brief moment where I thought I might be allergic to cooked spinach. And I couldn't find unseasoned artichoke hearts at the store, so I had to use ones that smell suspiciously like they're just sitting in Italian dressing. Oh, and I almost forgot to add the TWO CUPS of cheese that makes the whole thing worthwhile. But I didn't forget, and I took a taste test, and it was good. So it all works out.

I haven't figured out how to scale this recipe down to one person. It requires the frozen box of spinach. I also bought a bag of chopped spinach, so I might be able to do it with just a few handfuls. Doesn't matter. This is for the potluck tomorrow, so I can make the normal amount. Ah, normal recipe amounts. No math challenge, but apparently just as dangerous. Or maybe it was that it was nearly midnight by the time I finished?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Why You Shouldn't Stay Up Till Midnight on a Work Night: A cautionary tale

For reasons not entirely within my control, I was up until midnight last night. This means I am extra tired today, instead of my normal tired. And this means that everything is annoying to me. I have been at work for 34 minutes, and I can already make a bulleted list of things that have annoyed me. I try not to complain about work on the blog--loose lips and all that, as we learn from dooce.com--so I shall be somewhat vague.
  • Other Secretary's husband drove her to work, so she forgot her desk key and had to borrow mine. You can't keep your friggin keys in your friggin purse?! This is not the first time she has done this.
  • Not-My-Boss. Pretty much everything annoys me, but the subtle micromanaging is the worst.
  • Coworker calls for Other Secretary on my line. Strike one. Explain that she is elsewhere this morning and to call back this afternoon. Coworker calls back SIX MINUTES LATER on other secretary's line. "Oh, I was hoping it would go to voicemail." Are you new here? All lines are answered live in this office. Strike two.
  • People keep asking if I have a Random Pile of Documents. No. Suggest you check with Other Building Secretary, as documents are generally located in the Other Building.

Have I mentioned that I'm tired and irritable? Sigh. Just over eight more hours till I can go home.

In other news, I tried the Domino's pasta bread bowl last night. (Pregant women are hereby dismissed from the rest of the post.) The chicken alfredo variety. It was okay. I thought the sauce tasted a little oniony, but we all know how much I hate onions. I feel okay today, though, so maybe it was some other offensive flavor.

The real prize, though, is the bread bowl itself. It's the same soft dough they use for the breadsticks, so it's not as tough or chewy. It's lightly dusted with the same seasonings as the breadsticks (or the breadsticks used to be; haven't had them in a while) but not nearly as strong, so it's a hint of flavor without being overpowering, as I thought the breadsticks occasionally were.

The drawback is that it came sitting in a pile of grease. Possibly an oil/butter blend. Either way. Gross. But overall, decent. I haven't tried Pizza Hut's pasta, and I hear that it's better than Domino's (Domino's's? The name itself is posessive!). Really, though, they should stick with the pizza.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Still super-delicious

I don't get a lot of search traffic--which I'm totally cool with--but what amuses me is the traffic I do get. With the exception of one search for "Words in springtime" (whaa? I have never used that phrase.) they're all for the line from T-mobile commercial. Apparently I am not the only one amused by "She thinks you're super delicious."

I haven't eaten anything exciting all week. Leftovers, mostly. But I did go to the greatest soup/salad/sandwich place on Saturday. It's called Zupas, and is apparently a local chain. Which is a pity for you, because it's so good! And every meal comes with a chocolate dipped strawberry! And they have flavor syrups so you can make your own Italian sodas! And they had Cherry Coke IN THE FOUNTAIN. So few places do. SuperTarget does, but the last time I was there, it was disgustingly low on syrup. Such a disappointment.

Have I mentioned I love Cherry Coke? More than Dr. Pepper, even. Also good, if you're going to Sonic or QuikTrip, is vanilla Dr. Pepper or Sprite with vanilla and lemon. In Idaho we called that a Scotch and Soda. I've never heard it called that anywhere else.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Enjoys.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Jane Austen has accepted your friend request.

Sometimes is seems my blog has devolved into simply repeating the clever things that Reva has already found. But I couldn't take the chance that you would miss the Facebook-style version of Pride and Prejudice.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Not much to say today, but happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Now everybody, with a British accent! Happy Mothering Day!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ramekin pies

I tried a new recipe today for chicken pot pies. Except I made them in ramekins. I'd share the recipe, but it needs tweaking. It definitely needed more salt. What kind of recipe doesn't include salt? I could have tried the filling before I put it in the oven, but I'm not too keen on eating pot pie filling straight up. Or maybe if I'd used another bouillon cube. I usually use bouillon instead of chicken broth. Partly because I'm lazy, and partly because it's cheap. I have some low-sodium chicken broth on hand, but that's for risotto. Because when I made risotto with bouillon, it was soooo salty. I just can't win. So when I get the recipe improved, I'll share it with you. I think the one I liked the best (I tried four different kinds) was the spinach one. Corn, not so much.



Chicken spinach ramekin pie


I downloaded--and then uploaded, I guess--some photos, including of one of my Teenage Mutant Ninja Chocolate Turtles:


Chocolate turtle

Good times. I'm planning another adventure with turtles in the near future. This time, though, I am going to figure out a way for them not to stick to the waxed paper. Possibly by not putting them on waxed paper. The genius. It just keeps pouring out.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What does Black Amethyst smell like, anyway?

Have you been to Bath and Body Works lately? No? Me neither. You know why? Because the smells are crazy. Butterfly flower? Rainkissed Leaves? Moonlight Path? Sea Island Cotton? These are actual scent names at B&BW. I don't know what difference moonlight makes in a fragrance. Does a black amethyst smell different from a purple one? Bah.

But, a friend forwarded an e-mail today that says they are bringing back the classics! Sun-ripened Raspberry! Freesia! Brown Sugar & Fig! And my favorite...Pearberry! Now, I'll admit that some of the classic scents are strangely named too. (Coco Cabana, anyone? And Night-blooming Jasmine. Again with the night.) But at least many of them I could recognize. Pink Grapefruit, Coconut, Strawberry Lemonade...they're actual things with actual smells. Of course, if I remember properly, I liked Flowering Herbs (maybe? I thought it was yellow, not pink), and that's really unspecific.

Moral of the story: If a scent you liked was discontinued, check to see if it's back.

The original. Except not actually original, but still the gold standard.

Have you ever read Bram Stoker's Dracula? I hadn't, until just a few weeks ago. Anyway, Lola pointed this out to me. It started a couple days ago, but it wouldn't take you long to catch up. I think it's quite clever. It also helps eliminate my problem of starting a book and ignoring everything until I've finished.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Savvy?

I went to see Hale Theater's production of "Treasure Island" this evening. It was great! They have actual water! That people jump/fall/are thrown into! It's great. If you're around, you should go see it.

Also, I didn't realize how much Pirates of the Caribbean rips off Treasure Island. I had a copy of Treasure Island as a kid, but it was abridged, and even as a third grader, I was offended by the idea of reading an abridged book.

However, there are several books I've read that I wish had been abridged versions: Anna Karenina, Les Miserables. I read an abridged Count of Monte Cristo (which I didn't realized was abridged until I was 3/4 done) and I don't feel like I missed anything. So I guess the moral of the story is that abridged books aren't bad. And live theater with twelve-foot pools of water? Awesome.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Teenage mutant ninja turtles!

Have I ever told you about my roasted Parmesean potatoes? Very good. Red potatoes roasted in olive oil, but crinkle cut (my garnisher is my best friend) and with "California style" garlic salt and shredded Parmesean cheese. Try it.

My camera is dead, so I can't show you pictures, but I made chocolate turtles. I was craving them at work, so I stopped and picked up pecans. I already had chocolate and caramels. I have these chocolate "melting disks" that are about the size of a half dollar, though thicker. I warmed up a caramel in the microwave and smooshed it on the chocolate with a pecan half. It's pretty good, but I think the ratios are off. Once "Big Bang Theory" is over, I'll try again with milk chocolate chips. I'm so sad for you that there aren't pictures.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Living alone is...

Welcome to Living Alone Is..., an occasional series extolling the virtues of living, well...alone.

In today's installment, we review toilet paper. Living alone is finishing a roll of toilet paper and not putting a new one on the holder and nobody getting mad. Indeed, roll after roll of toilet paper can be finished and not put on. It's swell.

Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me