Monday, March 31, 2008

Under Siege

I was already having a really good sunday. I had eaten a pleasant breakfast and gone to TJ's. I had SS'd with NN and SS and had enjoyed a glass of wine (Cabernet Blend "Picada," Neuquén, '06) and a glass of beer (De Ranke XX Bitter) and many bits of cheese (Don Juan Aged Manchego). After that, I had drunkenly baked a loaf of bread, taken a peaceful nap and started the makings of a pizza dough. And then, Tortoise IM'd me excitedly with the news that Under Siege was on TBS. With that bit of news, my day went from great to awesome. Under Siege is beyond a doubt the best movie ever made. It is hilarious from beginning to end. I could make no sense of the plot: missiles were being shot by bad guys from the ship, by good guys from the ship, by good guys toward the ship, basically by everyone in all directions. Whenever one needed a blow torch or a hammer or whatever, there was one luckily nearby. None of the prisoners were being guarded, in fact, none of the weapons were being guarded either, and at the slightest drizzle of water, SAILORS start passing out. "Welcome to the revolution." Rate ***** (awesome meter)

Prawn Crackers

I only allow myself to make these once or twice a year but whenever I have them they are so insanely good. The texture is like snappy styrofoam (that doesn't sound good but it really is) and the flavor is vaguely shrimpy (ok that doesn't sound good either but for serious now, it is). The only bad thing is my whole house smells disgusting for 24 hours. That's the real reason I can't make them too often. It's true I'm watching my girlish figure these days but it's still close enough to girlish that I would eat these a lot more often if my house didn't reek post frying.

Prawn Crackers

One package of prawn crackers from your neighborhood Asian store
A bunch of vegetable oil in a little pot

Heat oil, add a drop of water to check the temperature. If the drop dances, break off a little piece of chip and drop it in. This is your test cracker. You'll probably have to go through a few crackers before the oil is hot enough for you to start frying the big pieces. When the hard little chip starts to poof out and float to the top, quickly snag it with a pair of tongs and move it to a plate. When the oil gets hot this will happen almost instantly after you drop in a chip. Move fast! And be careful of the oil. Make a giant pile and don't share.

Pizza Delicioso

Dinner tonight was a success! I first got the idea for pizza-making on Saturday when I noticed a pizza special on the food network. And this got me thinking about my cast iron pan and how it would probably turn out a pretty tasty pizza so I googled "pizza recipe cast iron" and came across this Whole Foods recipe: Cast Iron Skillet Pizza. Full of enthusiasm, I assembled most of the necessary ingredients (minus corn flour and artichokes) and set to cooking last night while also keeping an eye on Under Siege on tv (best movie of all time). I can't really judge that recipe honorably b/c I had to substitute corn meal for the corn flour and I'm not entirely sure my skillet is 9 inches. It might be smaller, but it also might be 9 inches, I should probably go check. Anyway, it turned out rather dense and much too doughy and heavy. I cut out the crust and just ate the center portion (it was midnight by the time I finished and I was dying of hunger). Tonight however, I tried Bee's pizza dough recipe (Bee was the pizza maker back when we lived in Brooklyn; he had a special trick of incorporating red pepper flakes into the dough, so good) and used the same toppings. With a canny eye toward dough/topping ratio, I halved the amount of dough to go into the pan and well, it was just perfect.

Pizza dough
1 tbs yeast
3/4 c warm water
1/4 tsp sugar

Mix above and let sit 5-10 minutes. When mixture is foamy, add:

1 3/4 c flour
1/2 tsp salt

and knead for ~5 minutes. Form into a ball and pat with a bit of olive oil, cover with cloth and set in a warm place. Let rise for 45 minutes.

Divide the dough in two and form balls. Oil the cast iron pan with a bit of olive oil. Press dough out to fit pan (9 inches?). Add desired toppings (tonight I used chopped kalamata olives, thinly sliced roma tomatoes, slivers of garlic and mozarella cheese. I meant to scatter some basil on top at the end but I was so hungry I had eaten it all before I remembered). Bake on bottom rack for 15 minutes or until top is brown.

Next time, I think I will try to prebake it for 5 minutes before adding toppings. Also, I read somewhere that you can freeze the dough so that's what I'm doing with the other half of tonight's dough. We'll see if it is as good after freezing.

Pizza might be my new hobby.

Monday, March 24, 2008

To Do List

I am so tired from my run tonight but there are a few things that I really have to get done tonight before going to sleep:
  • Wash dishes
  • Scoop litter
  • Take out trash
Oh but I am so so tired...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Animal to English Translations

AFB: Amish Friendship Bread
BO: Blood Orange
STD: Sweet Tasty Delicious, used to refer to anything befitting those adjectives
Example usage:
Billy - I've got an STD in my mouth.
Jane - Oh yeah? What kind?
SS: (1) Secret Science (2) Sunday School
Bsand: Breakfast sandwich
DB: douchebag
Decorative ABC: Decorative already been chewed gum

COF it: To get coffee
CAF it: To get food from the cafeteria
GAG it: To run the GAG assay
OHP it: (pronounced as if there is phlegm in your throat) To run the OHP assay
Sciencing: Work on science
Abstracting: Work on abstract
Papering: Work on paper

Balls of Fury

When I saw the trailer, I was certain this would be the most awesome, hilarious movie of all time. Actually, it was not. There were some really funny moments, but they weren't tied together particularly well. It was as if someone took the movie and started randomly chopping out key transition parts. The character of Master Wong was especially painful and most of the juvenile humor in this movie can be connected to this character. That said, there were some clever bits such as the male sex slave dudes and the joke with the bus. I'm trying hard to think who exactly Christopher Walken was channeling with his performance as Feng but I'm drawing up a blank. Mr Burns? Dr. Evil? Stewie? Rate **1/2

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


This movie was completely nuts. I'm having a hard time thinking of ways to describe it. I never read the Shakespeare play this movie was based on (Titus Andronicus), but in story and speech, I believe the movie adhered quite closely to the original material (surprisingly ultra-violent). Like Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet, Titus eschews the Elizabethan set and costume designs for something more modern. But unlike Romeo and Juliet, the world the story takes place in is one not recognizably our own. From its eerie start, it is apparent that this stylized world contained elements both fantastical and familiar. There are two images that stay with me after watching the movie. The first image is of the Roman soldiers jerkily marching into the screen, covered with clay and resembling toys coming to life in a terrifying way. And the second is that of Lavinia standing on a stump, with branches for her hands and a mouth of red. This may not have been one of Shakespeare's more acclaimed works, but I thought this movie was gorgeously done and very entertaining. It was a bit long and the end felt rushed but things wrapped up in a mostly satisfactory way. Oh, one part I was eh about was the Clockwork Orange style of Tamora's two sons. In a movie so original, that seemed to be the least original thought. Rate *****

Good Times in San Francisco

I pretty much destroyed this machine with my bear-like arm strength.

Tortoise (left) and Ferret (right) in an intense boxing match. After three games it was decided that the boxer wearing the white shorts cannot be defeated because he was broken.

Three animals (Ferret, Tortoise, Monkey) with fellow animal friends (fat noisy sea lions in the background).

Monday, March 17, 2008

Home, LA

This list covers the period March 5th through March 12th:

  • Dinners were always tasty meals cooked by my mom. She was especially into making eggplant and tofu this trip.
  • Seafood Port is always on my list of places to go when I'm home, mostly for their red pork. I forget what the English name for this dish is, but basically it is deep fried pork chops drenched in a sweet red sauce. This time, we paired this dish with some clams cooked with Asian basil, some fish in a black bean sauce, and a plate of tender sauteed greens. The food was perfect.
  • Another dish I pine for when I am on the East Coast is the Picante del Mariscos at Pollo Inka. It's a creamy salty seafood dish that is unlike anything else I can think of. If you get this dish during lunch, it comes with a very tasty chicken and rice soup (extra good with a good drench of lime juice). I always make someone take me here at least once when I am home.
  • Mommy and I made a lemon cake using Ina Garten's recipe. I was inspired by alpineberry and decided to make this cake using the lemons from our tree. I have no picture, but it was a tasty cake, provided you can stand the tartness.
  • We also made a lovely large batch of lemonade that was consumed mostly by me. I wish my family believed in ice but oh well. The recipe for the lemonade is as follows:
Lemonade Delicioso

This makes a pretty sweet lemonade. Reduce the amount of sugar if you want your lemonade less sweet or if you are using Meyer lemons which are naturally sweeter than standard lemons.

In a small saucepan heat 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water until the sugar is dissolved completely. While the sugar is dissolving, use a juicer to extract the juice from 4 to 6 lemons, enough for one cup of juice (we ended up adding more juice to taste). Add the juice and the sugar water to a pitcher. Add around 4 cups of cold water, more or less to the desired strength. Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve with ice, sliced lemons.

Serves 6.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

ORS, San Francisco

Here it is laundry-list style and primarily food focused, covering the period of March 1st through March 5th:

ORS + San Francisco
  • Seafood pasta at a third rate steak and seafood joint charging first rate prices: pasta was overdone, sauce was unremarkable, but my hunger was vast so I ate the whole thing. The others got different kinds of steaks and found them completely average as well.
  • Homemade gnocchi with a very tasty gorgonzola sauce in SF's version of Little Italy at a restaurant called Pinnochio's. Tortoise, Ferret and I basically tore through the antipasto platter as well. It got to the point where Tortoise and I were fighting for olives and Ferret had to switch seats so he could attack a different, less-devoured platter. This night set Tortoise and I up for subsequent trashing of a coffee shop the next morning.
  • Doughnuts and breakfast sandwiches at Barbary Coast every morning of the conference. This coffee shop was situated across the way from our hotel (the very pleasant Powell Hotel) and provided us with the stamina to last through morning sessions. We drank weak watery coffee for two days before we caught on to the 'Americano.'
  • Chicken sandwich at a peculiar burger restaurant nestled in an empty carnival-ish place. This sandwich tasted quite average but the presentation made it memorable. It was basically a gigantic piece of chicken (possibly an entire chicken) held in place between two normal-sized buns. Holding this contraption was tricky and consumed a lot of my attention. I think I went through an entire factory's worth of napkins.
  • In 'n Out is always a must when in California with Ferret. I might not have gone there on my own, but once there, I thoroughly enjoyed my cheeseburger and chocolate shake. In the end, I decided that I prefer McDonald's fries after all. It might not be as fresh but I love that crazy deep-fried outer crunch. Yummy. After eating burgers, Ferret, Tortoise and I were transfixed by the street spray-paint guys. It was a frenetic form of entertainment. Tortoise especially was frequently amazed at how the guy would seem to mess up only to show a second later that the mess up was part of his master plan. It was amazing!
  • There is a New Delhi in every city and San Francisco was no exception. It is starting to be a tradition that we eat Indian food once at every ORS. This place was just super delicious (pricey but that is no concern when meals are reimbursable, whooo!). We ordered lamb vindaloo, saag paneer, chicken marsala and a sampler of grilled meats and fish and ate until we fell down basically. The samosas we had for an appetizer was also tasty but the other appetizer was just onion rings more or less. And not even crazily delicious onion rings. After one bite I refused to waste valuable stomach real-estate on it. There was a funny moment involving the food bill that I won't get into here, but it was amusing.
  • The school lunch was frankly disappointing. I only enjoyed it as an opportunity to ingest some desperately needed greens. As usual, we sat with a certain person. This is becoming another tradition (less pleasant than Indian food).
  • The last day of the conference was pretty happy times for us three animals. It included the gimmicky clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls (really did not live up to expectations, the clam chowder tasted straight from the can and the bread lacked true sourdough flavor. Ferret and Tortoise really enjoyed using theirs to double as napkins though). We wandered through a Museum of old arcade games at the Wharf and watched the sea lions for a long time. Then we started to walk to Ghirardelli Square only to be side-tracked by a luxurious lawn. After a pleasant 45 minute nap, we continued on our way to the Square and I had a most delicious warm brownie sundae. I can't be at all objective about this b/c my hands were shaking, possibly from low blood sugar, so this sundae was pretty much the most delicious sundae ever. We then deposited Tortoise back at the hotel and Ferret and I made our way to the airport.