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What I learned on Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Today I learned that pho restaurants can package your pho for takeout, with all the various things in different compartments, and even with little packets of hoisin and sriracha.

Actually I learned this in theory last Tuesday when I had lunch (pho, but we ate in) with friend Amy. I mentioned that I was sad about not being able to get takeout pho, because our local place is ~20 min away and everything would be sad and cold and slimy and goopy by then. But Amy told me that her local place does takeouts and does them smart! Hooray! So today I put it into practice and had G. pick some up for me while he was out doing errands. It was delicious and perfect.

Sand, magnified 200x

[citation needed]

 

Earth is so awesome

Check out Stochastic Planet. “Every day a PHP script picks a random spot on the land mass of Earth. The nearest photo to that spot is posted here.”

Here are some recent posts.  Be sure to click through for the full-size images.

  54.297157°N, 123.192611°E Amur, Russia

54.297157°N, 123.192611°E
Amur, Russia

  17.443928°S, 40.200994°W south of Medeiros Neto, Bahia, Brazil

17.443928°S, 40.200994°W
south of Medeiros Neto, Bahia, Brazil

 

  12.562423°S, 59.561788°W Comodoro, Mato Grosso, Brazil

12.562423°S, 59.561788°W
Comodoro, Mato Grosso, Brazil

 

Busy weekend! Happy 2013

An eventful weekend!!

Friday night we went with friends A. & R. and baby O. to free first Friday at the Bellevue Art Museum. Beforehand we went to the apparently famous Din Tai Fung for DUMPLINGS. Oh my goodness it was delicious. Highly recommended.

Then we moseyed down to the art museum, trying to keep our work- and Bellevue-related anxieties in check, to see the Nikki McClure exhibit that’s there through Feb. 3. Nikki is one of my favorite artists, and it was super cool to see the originals, as well as the calendars from the beginning, all the books collected, and some of her earlier works that I hadn’t ever seen.

Little O. was a champ at dinner and at the museum and on the way home, too; we read The Little Engine that Could, in which G. had apparently earlier showed O. some new things, like the meerkat; and we read the hunting supply catalog, which has a lot of food prep equipment. O. learned about cherry pitters, corn kernel removers, pineapple corers, meat grinders. Then there was a two-page spread with some guys in camo who apparently were very bold and strong hunters of … meat processing equipment. Seriously, there are three guys in three different shots, each posing with their truck or whatever hunting equipment, in full-body camo, and they are holding, respectively, a jerky maker, a vacuum sealer, and a meat grinder. O. was very insistent about the last guy, whose camo included some like textured leaves crap hanging off him: “is it? is it?” (This is O. for “what’s that?”) Um, O., it’s a meat grinder. “Is it! Is it!” It’s … a guy? “ON HIM??” Oh, uh, he’s wearing a very silly costume? That seemed to do the trick, and O. sat back down with a satisfied grin. A silly costume indeed.

Saturday, I woke up way ahead of G. and I was itchy to get some stuff done so I cleaned off the counter and started organizing the top drawer: fixed the broken utensils tray; weeded out stuff we don’t need, to be taken to Goodwill; put the stuff we’re keeping back into the repaired tray all nice and neat. Then the drawer underneath it, and then the cupboard above that holds the stuff we don’t use very much — water bottles, our nice serving trays, some semi-reusable plastic dishes for parties, our sushi plates. Weeded that too.

Then later in the day we went to the pub to have a drink and read the books we got ourselves/each other for Solstice. I am reading The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2012, edited by Rich Horton; G. is reading The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2012, edited by Paula Guran. We’ll swap when we’re done.

We had a very delicious braised short ribs for dinner, with carrots and tomato paste and wine, served with polenta with freezer corn and freezer green beans with garlic.

Today after milking, I went to free community yoga with friend A., after which we took some stuff to Goodwill (my aforementioned kitchen weeding) and did some other errands in town, and we went to lunch too, yay. When I got home it was very hard to motivate to get stuff done, but we took the stinky trash out, and I took the stinky compost out, and then it was done.

Now I’m making some dashi for my miso soup breakfast tomorrow, packing eggs to take to work, and petting some puppies.

Ruby was bored

So she joined Facebook. She will approve your friend request!

Honest

Thanks XKCD.

Ehhhh! Ohh.

Things I have read lately

A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan (read this back in late August!). Reminiscent of Infinite Jest somehow.

A Primate’s Memoir, by Robert Sapolsky. Really loved this one. NYT review. Excerpt at NPR.org. Loved it. Recommended it to anyone within earshot. If you are reading this blog, you are within earshot: read this book.

A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She is Today. I am not sure I loved this one but it was really interesting. It is about Kate Bornstein’s life in the Church of Scientology back in the day (also her name was Al, then) and how she got kicked out (still as Al) and then what she did after, and how she became Kate and also how she became the Kate that she is. It is not for the faint of heart; there is sexual and violent (consensually sexually violent) content. But it is written as a letter to her daughter, who she hasn’t seen in many years, and her grandchildren, who she’s never seen, I think, and every time it’s getting intense, she takes us a step away for a second to address her daughter and grandkids, and to say why she’s telling this story to her daughter and grandkids, difficult though it may be.
Also stories of early Scientology are super fascinating. That shit is fucked up right there.

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, by Bob Spitz, for which I coughed up late fines for a week and a half because it was so long but I couldn’t give it up. Of course I love Julia a lot, and have read several books about/by her: My Life in France by Julia and her nephew Alex Prud’homme, highly recommended; As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto, by Joan Reardon (and much by Julia and Avis), also highly recommended; part of A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS, by Jennet Conant, which had to go back to the library, and I was not ready to pay late fines for this one. All of which is to say, Julia and I aren’t strangers. But this book was so great, and even the stuff I knew about was made lively and wonderful and so … Julia.
I will buy it when it comes out in paperback.

During that wonderful hugely physical (like its subject) book, I was also reading, on my magical iPad, Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, which I got from the Humble eBook Bundle, no longer in the offing, unfortunately. Really liked this one a lot. If you do speculative/alternate universe/fantasy at all, read this. G. and I both found it very engaging from the first paragraph.

As soon as I finished and turned in Dearie, I was headed out for a short-ish weekend trip where I would definitely need some leisure reading. I went to the shelf that has replaced the pile of things to read somewhat urgently, and I was reminded that G. had read the latest Tana French, Broken Harbor, and I hadn’t. Tana French is an amazing mystery author who writes emotionally brutal, intricate, personal novels that suck you in from the first paragraph. G. didn’t know why I was always talking about her until I finally got him to open her first book, and then he basically didn’t talk to me for three days while he inhaled the first two books. Her stuff is not easy to read, from an emotional perspective, but it is really easy to read from a … reader perspective? Anyway, love her a lot, and if you are of a constitution that likes a dark murder story, check her out.

And now I am bookless! I have been listening to podcasts and getting some knitting done on the commute instead, but it makes me kind of itchy not to have a book in my bag. What should I read? All genres up for grabs. What have you loved lately?

More on pâté

We’ve been cleaning out the freezers in preparation for new pork in a couple of weeks, and also so that we can take advantage of the not-yet-pork pigs to feed them the freezer-burned three-year-old celery, giant bags full of chicken stock cubes, ancient pita bread, etc.

I have been loving having some pâté around for quick lunches, so as we were transferring stuff from the cooler back into the clean freezer, I grabbed a smallish bag of chicken livers.

The bag actually turned out to have a few hearts in it, too, so I looked online a bit and then decided to toss them in the pâté too. I cooked them separately from the shallot/garlic and livers, because they wanted to cook a bit longer. I deglazed the pan with the hearts in it, and let them simmer a bit in the deglazing liquid. After whizzing it all up in the FoPro, I couldn’t even tell the hearts were in there.

Made more pâté today

Old pâté, about to be consumed for lunch, and new pâté, destined for the fridge.

Pâté, chèvre, pickled garlic scapes, apple

Here’s lunch! I didn’t have enough pâté for a whole sandwich, so I put some homemade homegrown chèvre on the other half of the baguette. Then I forgot to take the picture until that half was almost gone.

What I had for dinner on Saturday, November 3, 2012

For the past few lunches, and today’s dinner, I have had a delightful meal of homemade homegrown chicken-liver pâté on a Macrina baguette, eaten with some homemade pickled garlic scapes and an apple from the tree outside friend Anne’s new house.

I usually eyeball the measurements and season it to taste, but here is the recipe I start from:

Chicken liver pâté
Author: 
Cuisine: French
 

Ingredients
  • ½ lb chicken livers
  • 1 clove
  • 4 corianders
  • Small amount mustard
  • Fresh thyme
  • 1 shallot or small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 T brandy/cognac (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely minced.
  • Salt & pepper
  • Butter (lots)

Instructions
  1. Grind the spices (or start with similar amounts of pre-ground).
  2. Put a stick of butter or so on very low heat to melt.
  3. Melt some butter and sauté shallot/onion. When translucent, add the garlic.
  4. While the shallot and garlic are cooking, trim livers, removing any membranes or fat.
  5. When shallot and garlic are well-cooked, remove from pan.
  6. Add more butter to pan if needed. Add livers to the pan and cook until just pink inside (not bloody, but not grey). Avoid crowding the pan. Cook in batches if needed.
  7. After removing the livers, deglaze the pan with brandy/cognac. If not using alcohol, deglaze with a little bit of water or stock.
  8. Put all into the food processor and purée until smooth. Add 1 cup cream if desired. I never do and it is plenty creamy. Taste it, and add salt and pepper.
  9. Spoon pâté into ramekins and smooth the surface as much as possible. Pour melted butter over the top of the pâté to seal the surface. Press a sprig of fresh thyme into the melted butter.

I am usually using less liver than this to start with, but I often use the same amount of seasoning (and one medium shallot).