baavgai: (Default)
2011-05-27 09:27 pm

Signs of the Apocalypse

Recall the doomsayers of last week, predicting THE END? Yeah, we might as well get used to it, 2012 is going to have a bumper crop. Still, this could be a sign; Mark Zuckerberg actually did something I respect.

The funny thing is the tone of misunderstanding and disgust the act of being responsible for your own slaughter garners. You can, of course, take that stance if you're an honest vegetarian. But if you ain't meat free, then comments like "OMG, he killed his own dinner" are laughably hypocritical.

We talk about food, a lot. If I talk about meat, the conversion might come around to particular cuts, animals, butchering, etc. Sometimes people, even people who prepare food, get squeamish about this. If you don't eat meat, you get a pass. However, if you do eat meat, you should respect the sacrifice and not go running about with hands over ears.

Even a Big Mac demanded a life. Granted, only a small portion of one, with lots of filler, but technically some dead animal was involved. If that doesn't sit well, I recommend Morningstar Farms. They honestly taste like some burgers I've had that claimed to be meat, so you're not really missing much there.
baavgai: (Default)
2011-05-26 10:06 pm

Meat Loaf

The other night I made meatloaf. It got good reviews and second helpings, so I figured I should write it down.

This recipe is entirely gluten free. That may sound strange, given it's meatloaf, but GF soy sauce is hard to find. Depending on your level of intolerance, oats prepared in the presence of wheat could also be an issue. I would have done the same recipe without a GF audience... Well, I probably would have used the cheaper soy sauce.

A quick note about measurements here; I'm just guessing. I never really measure anything, so quantities of liquid and oats are pretty subjective. They'll also vary with the type of meat and type of oats you're using.


Meat Loaf
---------
2 lbs beef
1 lb pork
2 onions
2 eggs
3 tbs soy sauce
1/2 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup water ( aprox )
1 tsp salt ( optional )
2 tsp olive oil ( optional )

You can't do a whole lot about how meat loaf looks, so taste is all you've got. It should taste like meat (dammit!), not be dry, not be a brick. Meat flavor comes, of course, from meat. But just meat can get lost in the oven. The addition of browned onions and soy sauce will help to enhance meatiness. Oatmeal solves both bricking and drying dangers. It has texture and a hydroscopic quality that makes it an ideal filling.

Begin by rough chopping the onions and sweating them in a pan. Add a pinch of salt here. You don't need to fully caramelized them, but you do want some browning. When brown forms on the bottom, add a some water. You may have heard never add water when caramelizing onions; this only partially true. Onions in a pan of water aren't going to brown. However, if you let them stick a little and add water, the brown will come off the pan into the onions and you'll avoid burning. The trick is adding a little water and letting it steam off as you go. When your onions are cooked, you want about a cup of liquid in the pan.

Crush the rolled oats up a little. We want them to disappear into a batter that will carry all the other elements through the loaf. Turn off the heat and add the oats. Stir, add the soy sauce, stir a some more, then let this mixture sit.

In another container, break the eggs and whisk them together. We want to add the eggs to the oat mixture. If the mixture still too hot, we need to temper the eggs. That is, add some mixture to eggs, mix together, add more, mix, then add everything together. This avoids scrambled eggs. Our current product should be wet but batter like. We can adjust after we bring in the meat.

Meat! Unless your butcher ground it for you just so, it's hard achieve and maintain the ideal texture. Have no fear, that's what our oat batter is for. Combine meat and oat mixture together thoroughly. You should now have a rather disturbing looking meat batter. We want it a little wet, kind of oozing. If it's running, you can add some more oatmeal. Too dry, more water. Don't worry too much; it's meat loaf. Now, put it in the fridge for a half an hour, or as long as you like. ( Until is starts to smell funny, then you have to start over. )

When ready, remove cooled meat batter from fridge. You want to form it onto a pan, much like beefy sand castle, but more regular. You want are smooth lump of uniform size in the middle of your pan. Some shapes will cook faster than others; use common sense. I usually go with the pushing up daisies kind of shape.

You can optionally rub some olive oil on the outside and sprinkle a little salt. This will theoretically give it some yummy crust, depending on moisture and how your oven works. It may not. It doesn't hurt.

Now just cook until the juices run clear. As much as I like my steak bloody, there is no such thing medium rare meat loaf. We want it entirely cooked through. You can take all the juice and make a gravy, but the meat loaf shouldn't need it.

Let it rest a little before you cut into it. ( Given the structure, you probably don't have to rest it, but it doesn't hurt. ) Slice and serve.
baavgai: (tech)
2011-04-23 07:33 pm

Don't cross the streams...

Still playing with streaming video services. Forget the Amazon thing I posted; Netflix puts it to shame.

Of course, Netflix has issues, but they're geek issues. Doesn't play with Linux. It claims can't play with Linux, but runs fine on numerous Linux based embedded devices. One of these devices, recently granted access to the inner circle is Boxee. I currently have two little digital video devices; the Roku and the Boxee box.

The Boxee does pretty much everything I want. Of the available devices I've seen, it's the most friendly with home networks, playing any media it finds without complaint. And the format that media is in doesn't much bother it. Any codec, any container, any time. It supports Netflix and most content providers ( though, notably, doesn't have direct Amazon support). It does allow the installation of a general purpose web browser that will get you around to the places that don't have a spiffy "App" icon. Adding third party "Apps" is relatively painless. The iPhone remote control app is really handy. It takes both USB and SD cards for external data. It's wireless support is hassle free.

On the downside, the Boxee is, well, boxy. While quiet, there is a slight hum. You'll want to turn it off when not in use; it seemed to get confused when I left it on too long. Boot up time isn't great. There are some bugs that occasionally pop up, but no show stoppers. I've actually yet to see one of these things that's entirely bug free. It's one of the more expensive of the breed, coming in at $200.

The Roku is a cute little thing. No moving parts, quiet, leave it on forever and not notice, doesn't even sport a power button. It plays online services well and if you're looking for a dedicated Netflix appliance, this one is for you. The low end is a mere $60, with the high end being only marginally more at $100. The $100 model adds a USB plug and "Extended-range Wireless-N", among other things. Its "Apps" are "Channels". You can actually search around the internet for "private" channels that you have to register via their web page for more content.

While it handles supported online feeds well, that's the extent of Roku's power. The number of channels you can have active are limited. There is no built in way to stream your own content to the thing. There are a few third part addons that will do it, for a fee. There are some free projects that will do it, but you essentially have to jailbreak the thing. It's crashed a bit, so I don't want to taunt it.

The Roku "wifi" is a joke. The $100 model with "extended range" sometimes lost connection even when sitting on top of the wifi access point. Network discovery is hit or miss and it will often lock up during the process. Even after it's discovered a network, you still have to kill a chicken to get it to initialize and even then you don't know how long you'll keep it. If you plug it into wired connection, all these issues go away.

The Roku USB serves mostly to taunt. The number of formats supported are sadly wanting and even supported formats may not work if not encoded just so. Those third part streamers are really just hacks of this mechanism, so the files have to be encoded even if coming off a home media server.

If you want an efficient little Netflix box and have a wired connection, Roku is great. If you have your own stuff you want to play, or pretty much need to do anything beyond Roku's canned channels, I'd go with the bigger Boxee.
baavgai: (Default)
2011-04-17 11:47 am

Toys!

Went to a toy store yesterday. It's in Princeton, but unlike most of the oppressively yuppie town, it's a bastion of happy. Manic, over priced, kid happy; but happy. In addition to the kid purchases ( I'll reveal one later ), I, of course, needed a toy. For some reason, what immediately popped into my mind was a Rubik's Snake. It's not really a puzzle so much as a fiddle device. I find such things soothing.

Well, the one I had as a kid was called a "snake". I think they only came in black and white initially. They were big beefy things that could take a considerable amount of punishment without complaint. They felt solid. Each future iteration seems less solid. The current thing is called the twist. It is a smaller, flimsier, cheaply made particolored thing. One of the elements on the one I got doesn't sit entirely true. Still, I'm amused enough by it and wishing they made things like they used to. Damn, I sound old.

New techie, non retro toy: roku! It's in the mail. I decided to purchase Amazon's Prime service. No, not for the shipping perks, though that's nice. Rather, for the TV! Amazon offers a ton of TV free to prime accounts, most of which is from BBC America. Doctor Who (classic, modern, Torchwood), Red Dwarf, Black Adder! Also, specials and things like Farscape that I never caught all the episodes of.

I've tested the browser service out on stuff the other house viewer doesn't want to see. It's not perfect, since free means streaming. One internet burp and you can fall into pause purgatory. But, when the bits are flowing it looks fine. I'm hoping the roku is more intelligent with caching.

The Amazon buggers don't offer support for Boxee, but you can browse to the content and it will work. People have been bitching about this for a while and I may have to write an app. I was surprised that the streaming content doesn't seem to use a tunnel. I could conceivably sniff and store it. Something that would doubtless give media execs fits.

So, if I post even less ( hardly possible at this point, I know ), I'm probably watching a streaming boob tube.
baavgai: (Default)
2011-04-14 08:40 pm

More Movies and what is "scifi"

The last film throw down post was partially the result of a search for decent scifi in recent years. In general, not a great showing. There was only one I could honestly recommend from the last batch.

For the last year, 2010, I only think of one "good" scifi movie. And it was a mass market success: Inception. Really, 2010, anything else? Really, I want to know.

2009 had a few. Surrogates was a mass release, panned but I thought well done. District 9 was the small film everyone got to see. Moon, the best of the lot, you probably missed. You might be thinking Avatar! While I enjoyed the epic eye candy, don't think too hard extravaganza, I don't actually put it in the scifi category. I guess I should explain.

Science fiction, or speculative fiction ( it sounds silly, but does seem closer to the idea ), requires more than just space garbage. There should be something that doesn't yet exist, but could theoretically exist. New technology or a new application of technology that hasn't been seen. More importantly, that thing is required for the tale told. If it's magic, you better have a good explanation; blaming some unseen "force" is just a cop out.

My rules mean that avowed "fantasy" is NOT science fiction. Lots of things that pretend to be science fiction are really just action movies in a period setting.

Back to Avatar. For scifi categorization, it really is Dances with Wolves. None of the tech is required for the recycled modern man prodigy taken by savages story. Star Wars is classic space opera. It's a western with magic that found its way into a galaxy far far away.

Moon. It's brilliance is the reason you may not have heard of it. A very simple premise is explored, but telling you that premise will ruin the early part of the film as you're trying to figure out what's going on. So I can't tell you a lot about it. It's slow, thoughtful, and not particularly violent. While not perfect, it's close. The viewer isn't assumed to be an idiot and no scientist ex machina shows up to explain things. Rather, the story is adeptly told and the viewer gets to figure out all the elements. Often before the main character. If you haven't seen this, find it.
baavgai: (Default)
2011-04-10 08:54 pm

Movies and stuff

Working my way through the "stuff to watch" list.

I thought I had a theme running about halfway through. Either post apocalypse or simply dystopia. While that's indeed there, an unexpected theme emerged; emotional awakening. This is, of course, a required element in most stories. But in the bleakest stuff, it seems to be the only theme. Sometimes it's the only thing saving a piece from just being violent, narcissistic, porno.

The Walking Dead - Ooo, Zombies. Not generally my favorite genre, but some friends were taken by it. The world ends in a plague of moaning, necrotic, infectious, mostly dead, cannibals, as we follow the last of struggling humanity. You know the drill. It's well done, tense, and at times honestly scary. Our heroes are those who hold on to hope, even though it's not clear why.

The Road - Apocalypse grey. A bleak, miserable, dead world thing. A man and his son navigate the waste land, mostly just looking for food. Suicide is a strong, constant, disturbing element here. Human monsters are far more scary than anything undead. There is a desperate need to hold on to not just hope, but compassion. Slight spoiler: In the end, the movie isn't a total downer. I felt a little robbed by this, actually.

Metropia - a grey, animated, puppet like jerky motion ride. An Orwellian exercise that's convoluted and has as much depth as it has color. To be this artsy, I expected more for having to put up with it. Any clever ideas offered just didn't seem to come together.

Repo Men - A stock cyberpunk theme; artificial body parts are reposed if you can't pay the bills. An inconsistent black comedy with lots of senseless violence and blood splatter. While mostly predictable, it does have spots of genius. I enjoyed this more than I expected to.

Equilibrium - Tying together our dystopian extravaganza, a world on Prozac where it's illegal to stop taking it. A nice totalitarian extreme, where all emotion and things that evoke it are cauterized. Reminiscent of Fahrenheit 451, our hero is the enforcer who wakes up to his world. While overwhelmingly absurd, Christian Bale owns the screen and carries us along. Some good bloody violence. There's one bit where a wing chun sticky hands dance is done with pistols.

And now, for something completely different...

The Man from Earth - I was surprised this wasn't a play. A labor of love from SF writer Jerome Bixby, this no frills independent film made completely of dialog manages to engage. It runs almost like an SF writer's workshop; accept one absurd notion and then follow all the logical implications it introduces. Pure scifi and easily the most intelligent film of the lot. Worth a watch.
baavgai: (Default)
2011-04-02 11:07 pm

Good Food, Bad Food

Got the call yesterday; "want fish." Problem is, kitchen renovations are still in full swing. We'd planned to take a trek to our "fish guy" who has inconveniently moved to yuppie ville, miles away from us. Still, he's worth it, so off we go.

The menu is, fish 'n chips or, fish 'n chips. He deep fries in the back of his truck. The fish guy is an artist, he loves his dead aquatic creatures and watching him clean them is mesmerizing. Thinking of him out back with the giant fry daddy is mildly incongruous. It was the best fish and chips I've ever had.

The market with the fish guy is an indoor farm stand thingy. It features local, organic, gourmet, generally foofy food. As it usually goes with such things, some is truly exceptional and some merely thinks it is. So, after the best fish fritter ever, I visited the pretentious little gourmet nook for some rice pudding and pana cotta; we couldn't decide which.

The pana cotta was ill conceived. Citrus and dairy is tricky. Grapefruit and dairy is possibly impossible. Neither the topping nor the pana cotta was exceptional, together they were far less so. However, compared to the rice pudding it was haute cuisine.

The rice pudding has chunks of orange in it. Orange peel would have worked; chunks of kind of fresh orange, no so much. That alone would have made it unfortunate. It wasn't really pudding... There was rice, but it was under cooked. Yet, it was coagulated into starchy little overly toothsome nuggets. This, combined with either no seasoning or anti seasoning, made it one of the most vile things I've ever eaten on purpose.

The woman who sold it to me gushed about it. She didn't normally like rice pudding, but she loved this. I offered mild criticism, and she, in turn, questioned my palate. I agreed that people certainly have different tastes and silently wondered if she ate paste as a child.

I had, unfortunately, also gotten a brownie from the same stand. The brownie offered no surprises. As a brownie, it was alright. It was chocolaty and rich and oddly heavy handed. With distinct flavors of margarine and baking soda under its gooey mass.

Today, I ended up making dinner. Recall, the major kitchen renovation thing? Steak tartar was the plan, but it hadn't been my plan. Getting the mise en place together, I felt like I was on a reality cooking show. My prep surface was the corner of a plank on a saw horse. I had disposable bowls, paper plates, and a single chop stick for a whisk. Happily, I did have a good knife. When if comes to tools, knives are a given.

The cracked egg made a hollow sound on the plank. I managed to to get the second yolk perfect; I normally would have just used a hand but lack of running water called for the shell to shell method. ( The first shell suffered from the unexpected plank bounce. ) I actually chopped the shallot too fine; a few more larger chunks might have made it better. Over all, though, dinner was good.
baavgai: (wtf)
2011-02-28 09:06 pm

I see virtual people

There are a couple of movies coming out that highlight a curiosity of technology; virtual actors. One is Rango, where the critters weren't just voiced over, but actually acted with motion capture. Another is ( I can't believe this title ), Mars Needs Moms, with another attempt at hyper real humans in CGI.

In the wake of things like The Polar Express, virtual actors appeared DOA. But it's because of things like zombie Tom that the industry is figuring out how to skate the dead zone and avoid the uncanny valley. More recent offerings have avoided the valley by being cutesy enough, but we're slowly moving toward the more realistic. Avatar proved people wouldn't just watch a virtual world, but do so repeatedly. More importantly, embrace the knowledge of a virtual world.

Virtual movies with virtual actors are gaining momentum. For the studio, it's a cheaper alternative to all that messy real life stuff. As the cost comes down on other elements, and people either get used to it or can't tell, technology will continue to replace people. They already do an amazing amount of CGI reality insertion that you're unaware of. It's conceivable, as technology progresses, that viewers won't even know they've taken the VR plunge with their celebrity dejour (e.g. S1m0ne).

You'd still need actors; because motion capture and human dialog will be easier with real humans for a long time. Also, celebrities drive the entertainment industry. However, the physical appearance of the warm bodies needn't matter. You can imagine a future where celebrities are known only through their publicitist approved virtual construct, not their normal fleshy reality.

On the VR meets IRL strangeness front, the Japanese have always been ahead of the curve. Witness, Hatsune Miku.

Edit: In other news, looks like IMDB borked their links. Bastards. The refresh thing works; I guess.
baavgai: (cat)
2010-09-28 08:51 pm

Cat says, "I r ready fur mah close up."

I really enjoy my cats. They amuse me in ways, I suppose, that anyone else amused by cats can appreciate.

Of late, the little grey kitty, who is jumping impaired, has taken to putting paws on my leg with an imploring look to be lifted up. She then chooses to hang out on said leg, immediately jump of, or head for higher ground.

A favorite spot is the right shoulder:


From here, she will contentedly sit, or fall asleep, and even allow me to type of the same time. ( Like now! ) However, she recently developed a trick which I don't know quite how to take. It's so very bizarre that I was inspired to record it. I used a phone, so it was kind of blind, but she didn't seem to mind and gave me a number of photo ops.

The results are here. You may vote for the cheezburger. :p

It actually got better, though. As I was confirming the above link, kitty fixated on her own image with an intensity usually reserved for prey. When it stopped, she immediately left. I'm not sure if she was offended or merely trying to go for the dramatic exit.

I love cats.
baavgai: (Default)
2010-09-02 08:56 pm

Perspectives

One of the boards I haunt has an ongoing "Mosque at Ground Zero" discussion. The usual issues have been covered, with various degrees of prejudice and bigotry. It's a pretty international forum, with folks from all over the place; the Muslims generally keeping there heads down.

I commented more than a few times, generally abusing extremists on all sides with equal vigor. The unexpected conversation came in the form of a private message from a friend in the Middle East. The gist of the question was this: "if you [Americans] feel that Islam is such a threat, why don't you just outlaw it? Why are the same people saying Muslims are all terrorist saying Muslims still have the right to build the mosque? I really am confused."

It is a curiously American mind set. Most of us understand that silencing one group threatens all others with silence. It core belief in individual freedom is so fundamental to US jurisprudence and social philosophy that we rarely even give it a second thought. I've run into people from a number of places to which this thinking is completely foreign.

Surely, there are some that would perceive the US as "weak" for "tolerating" groups that are overly anti-government, anti-liberty, anti-whatever. Some who round up the insurrectionists to protect their society must think us mad. Who can't understand why citizens are allowed to be as judgmental of the government as we generally are. That some should think this makes me sad for them and honestly proud of us. No matter what else you think the powers that be are screwing up, at least we got that right.

baavgai: (Default)
2010-08-14 06:00 pm

Catching up a TV

I'm catching up on tellie, watching this new one called Covert Affairs. I wasn't going to bother, but the buzz cajoled me. When I saw the promos, I actually thought the lead it was Jennifer Garner for a moment. So, um, female spies are always anorexically thin, puffy lipped, and horse faced? Strange.

Then, the second episode, they do a song over, only one the whole show. The song, Freelance Whales. Odd.

I'll probably keep up with the show, but the back story may sink it. I very nearly didn't recognize Suresh without the heavy Indian accent and a clean shave. Also, the sister is "cutthroat bitch" from House. That one stumped me for a moment; she's less gaunt. Yes, I always play the place the actor game. I really can't help it.
baavgai: (Default)
2010-08-11 07:21 pm

Freelance Whales

For the last week and a half, Freelance Whales has been haunting my playlist.

Featuring instruments like the banjo, harmonium, glockenspiel, xylophone, there is a rhythmic quality to the whole album. The track Hannah leads off with a patter song. Most of the lyrics have iambic sensibilities and are often more chanted or spoken, than sung. The female voice has that odd, strained, also caught in the back of the throat quality that actually works here. Then the male lead does the next track and it's the same damn voice, an octave lower. The harmonies are synced in such a way that sometimes you don't catch it at first.

Every track is kind of happy, even if the lyrics don't match. There's even a nice death song, very cheery. I really love warm fuzzy songs with dark subject matter. I can't say why.

And ear worms! Great Hamlet's ghost, the poison in the ear drips from every bloody track. Unlike most ear worms, these aren't banished by listening to the source material again; they only dig in deeper. You have been warned.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] alagbon for prompting me to post this. Hopefully this will allow some respite from his English folk tune ear worms.
baavgai: (Default)
2010-08-01 07:28 pm

Rare Chocolate

I've been on the hunt for sugar free chocolate. ( Yes, I'm avoiding sugar; sucks to be me. ) You'd expect to find it in a big grocery store, particularly Wegman's with their large gourmet selection. Or health food stores. Or some of the other strange places I shop at. But, no...

To be fair, I found "Doctor's CarbRite Diet Sugar Free Bar" in many places. This is an option of last resort. It's by far the worse of what's available. I'd seen others before. Where is it all for sale? Who would carry the specialty brands that actually make good sugar free chocolate? Who else; Walmart.

Walmart? Prolific peddler of all things plebeian? They have my chocolate? And not just one option, but several. More than I'd ever seen in one place. I'm not sure whether to be grateful or offended.

One was "Simply Lite" Milk Chocolate. It's pleasant enough, but has that cheap chocolate oil filler back flavor. Still a vast improvement over the nefarious Doctor.

Dove has entered the game, they had "Sugar Free Dark Double Chocolate Creme". These are individually wrapped and quite good. Honestly, tastes just like regular Dove chocolate.

They had both of Guylian's "No Sugar Added" options, milk and dark. Guylian is one of the best. You wouldn't really know it's sugar free unless you read the label.

I would have said Guylian is the best available, but Wally world had yet another I'd never seen before. Chuao Chocolatier ( http://www.chuaochocolatier.com/index.html ) was a pleasant surprise. They seem to specialize in gimmicky flavors and their two sugar free options are "Coffee & Anise" and "Spicy Maya." While neither of these are flavor profiles I might have picked, they are both exceptional. While chili chocolate is usually over done, the Spicy Maya got it just right and I'll get it again.

The good sugar free chocolate is nearly as good as it's sugary version. Unfortunately, it's usually significantly more expensive. And, or course, harder to find.
baavgai: (Default)
2010-07-11 08:40 pm

Weekend Movies

Movies when alone for the weekend:

Hot Fuzz: Been hanging on to this one. Blood splatted and laughs, Simon Pegg is my hero. If Shaun of the Dead worked for you, don't miss this.

Gamer: Stupid, mindless, future tech, violence. More blood splatter, much more graphic that the almost apologetic British variety. Honestly, for something so juvenile, the violence level was almost pornographic, which was probably the point. Not awful.

Miracle Mile: I blame [livejournal.com profile] alagbon for this one. Nice little end of the world movie. Kind of dated, strangely sweet. Parsimonious on the special effects and actually better for it. A psychological thing more than anything else, keeping the question as to whether it's really happening floating until the very end.

Percy Jackson: Not as amused as I hopped to be. More a Perseus retelling and stock story lines than anything particularly original. Still, fun enough.

Being Human: Just finished the last episode; BBC show, with more BBC blood splatter. I thought the first season was better, but it still felt bad I have to wait for the next season.

Kungfu Panda: [livejournal.com profile] loosecanon recently saw this several times. I felt jealous.
baavgai: (Default)
2010-07-06 08:19 pm

Bunnies

This morning I cleared a few apples off the car. Looking down the driveway I spotted a rather odd looking apple. It was brownish, but many of the driveway droppings are. Were those ears?

The auditorially endowed fruit was an itty, bitty, bunny. Everybody say awwww:
bunny

It was so still that it let me take this pic with my crappy phone camera. The phone is less than two feet away and at this point I'm afraid the little thing is dead. Wait. I'm close enough to see it breathing, probably more now that I'm looming over it. I would have just left the baby alone, but there was a good chance I'd back over it if it didn't move.

I picked it up and it dove out of my hand. I grabbed it up again and moved it a distance away. It regarded me balefully as I pulled out of the driveway. Well, as balefully as a sickeningly cute baby furry thing can.

We live in bunny wonderland here. Driving out of the neighborhood I passed half a dozen more, though none as tiny as my driveway baby. One was sharing the shade of a tree with a squirrel. A robin sang to me from another lawn. It's like a bloody Disney movie.
baavgai: (Default)
2010-06-29 07:32 am

Three Blind Mice

Sometimes, when I awake, I have a tune playing in my head instead of the last recollection of dream. Rather than being up in the fully conscious strata, it's usually a little lower. Like an earworm, but both less and more intrusive, riding along on some still temporal alpha wave.

The last few days the station has alternated between Alanis Morissette and Marillion. There's usually a theme to these things. Therapy? Then again, messages from the great REM aren't really for the conscious, are they? I've had worse things, sitcom theme songs can be particularly nasty.

Some monks believe letting in tunes that doesn't reinforce positive aspects is harmful. Sounds nice, but I bet their music collections suck. Still, when the station is distracting, an Om is a pretty good exorcism. Sometimes I think the monks are onto something.

This morning, in the wee hours as I tossed to find comfort, I was struck by the tune of the moment; three blind mice. Actually, it was probably the theme from the Three Stooges. Which made it extra annoying because some other memory had to supply words and kept getting them mashed up. However, as the words played to my half awake self, my mind's eye watched the mice.

"Three blind mice. Three blind mice. See how they run. See how they run." And there they are, all scurrying about. I was filled with a Schadenfreude amusement. "They all ran after the farmer's wife, Who cut off their tails with a carving knife, Did you ever see such a sight in your life, As three blind mice?" Wait, there they are without tails, bumping into themselves and each other like furry deranged billiard balls. What fun!

And for a child's imagination, such a little ditty should evoke such visuals. I think on old stories, sagas, stories of myth from every culture, and the detail is lacking. Or, rather, the scene is often left uncolored in. I think people used to like to imagine more of their story. It seems now that we want it all spelled out in HD.

I often think our imagination has atrophied in our world of media bombardment. I wonder if people thought the same of the novel, with it's lavish attention to detail and well drawn scenes. Where once a story teller had but an evening to paint a picture, with the audience filling in the detail, now all the detail work could be done and reworked in prose.

I think, as a child, I saw the scampering mice. Later, I usually just heard the words. How many people still see the mice, I wonder.
baavgai: (Default)
2010-06-19 09:50 pm

Cold Sesame Noodles

I made these the other night. They seemed to go over well and [livejournal.com profile] loosecanon insisted I blog it before I forgot the proportion. The thing is, I have no proportion; I didn't measure anything.

There are variations that call for tahini and even peanut butter, this is not one of those. These noodles are light, refreshing, and summery. You can add veggies if you want a more cold salad kind of thing. Cucumber, bean sprouts, and snow peas are popular. I don't do salad so I enjoy these noodles unadorned.

Ingredients:
Dry Chinese noodles ( any thin, long pasta should work ), sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar.

Process:
Wash your hands well, you will be fondling your noodle.

Cook noodles. Put dried pasta in unsalted, boiling water. A pound of noodles at least, this is a yummy dish. When almost fully cooked ( they'll get a little bit softer, but not much ), take them off the heat and run cold water over them continuously until the temp of the water.

Get your hand in there when cool enough and move everything around; you don't want any hot spots. This is a lot like washing rice, you want the starch to go down the drain. When cold, pour off as much water as you can. Immediately put in a tablespoon or two of sesame oil. Use that hand to toss everything around. Every noodle wants some oil. This process will often chase out some more water, pour it off.

The first round of oil is for oil's sake; sticking is bad. Now for the soy sauce, which is both your salt and your color. Pour a little in and toss throughly. Now taste. You'll probably only be tasting soy sauce, but fear not. Add a little sugar. You're not going for sweet, you just want to tame the salt.

After that is balanced, add a little, just dash, of vinegar, rice wine vinegar preferred. You don't really want to taste vinegar so much as some sour. Once you've moved to sour, add more sesame oil.

I was amazed how much oil it took to balance out the flavor, more than two tablespoons for two pounds of noodles. Sesame oil can easily overpower a dish and you learn to use it with care. However, here, we really do want to taste it. Once you have enough oil to take the edge off the vinegar, you're done. You can adjust elements to taste, but be aware that the sharp edges are going to soften a lot over time. You want it a little sharp to start.

Put your masterpiece in the fridge and wait a day. After a few hours, you'll have an idea of what you have. Day two or three is probably when it's happiest. After that it's still good, but the noodles will start to dry out.

Take from the fridge, allow to sit a few minutes to take to serious chill off, and serve. Some fresh sesame seeds will brighten the plate up. We forgot to put them on last time and no one seemed to mind.


On hands:
Obviously, you don't have to use your hands. Any implement for moving your noodles about should work. However, your hand is the best tool. It gives you the most control, feedback, and consistency. I use one hand that will be devoted to the project, the other for moving about, opening bottles, etc. At times, this feels like cleaning rice or mixing dough, both operations done better by hand.


On the noodle:
Saying "any pasta" is kind of being nice. The best Italian semolina pasta, the kind you always look for, sucks for this dish; too chewy. Cheaper Italian spaghetti-like substances also don't quite work; to paste like. The Chinese, or Asian, noodle of choice is wheat based, with little more than flour and water as ingredients. In Japanese, somen is what you want. Chinese are harder to find, but lahng mein is one official name for them. They should be white in color and the thickness of angle hair. Baring that, lean more toward Asian than European in your choices. The Asian style also cooks very quickly; less than five minutes.

Rice noodles also work well for this.
baavgai: (anime)
2010-05-20 09:17 pm

Google is fun

I decided to change the ole work computer wallpaper today. I grabbed a bunch of the abstract stuff I tend settle on. In process, I spotted some Japanese kawaii mascot stuff. I wanted an image of an odd character called Tarepanda. What can I say, it's strange, cute, funny, and slightly off. However, I couldn't remember the name, so Googled japanese panda boneless. There are pages of strange. Number two on my hit list was this little gem.

The Belt

However, all the variants of panda meatloaf are also good. Which got me hungry.

I knew the Poles were going to feed me dinner. The grouchy old woman who used to glare at me now smiles; I'm accepted. I always forget the name of those damn doughnuts so I looked it up: Pączki. I love wiki browsing. The Prince Polo candy bar is a national brand. It has competition from Nestle with the, get this, Princessa. I got them both; pretty much the same, Nestle is sweeter.

Turns out my favorite meat snack isn't kabanoski, but kabanos, plural kabanosy. Honest mistake; as linguistically xenophobic as it sounds, damn near everything is a -ski or -ska, seriously. Bonus bit of fun trivia, "kaban" is a Turkish term for hog.
baavgai: (Default)
2010-05-15 11:08 pm

Naked Steam

Went to the Steampunk World's Fair today. I didn't have anything particularly thematic to offer as a costume. I scrounged up some amusing fantasy Victorian; a white linen shirt ( odd cut, possible Filipino wedding shirt), a leather vest, khaki pants.

I also had a beard I'd been meaning to trim for at least a couple months. I could do a style appropriate to the convention... with this in mind, I took trimmers in hand. I ended up shaving my cheeks clean, essentially leaving a very full goatee and mustache. I haven't had clean shaven cheeks in twenty years. It's... odd.

The con was fun. There was a happy, silly vibe to the thing. Steampunk isn't strongly enough defined to rule anything out; people are free to sport their silly. Our impromptu attire seemed to work.

Saw [livejournal.com profile] h3salthea and [livejournal.com profile] kass_rants. Finally met [livejournal.com profile] hughcasey, who is apparently being followed by all of LJ. Many others. There was a clear SCA cross section. Even say the gothy guy from the DMV. Sadly, missed [livejournal.com profile] danabren.

Was fun. However, we were really just there for friends and shopping. Not quite my fandom. The gate fee was a little dear. Don't know if we'll do that again.
baavgai: (cat)
2010-05-05 09:56 pm

New Kitty!

I'm sure we'll get a picture that does her justice. Strike that: I've never had a cat that didn't blow every attempt to capture them at their best. But this one might assent to it.

Trjegul

We're calling her Trjegul ( pronounced Tree-gull ). Both because she has beautiful amber eyes and it's Viking geeky.

I was worried, perhaps a little offended, that I hadn't seen her since we got her home yesterday. Tonight she'd settled down enough to come out of hiding. Now she takes turns staking out parts of the room and visiting humans for adoration.

While I like most kitties, misanthropic felines aren't that much fun. Trjegul has dispelled those fears; she's a gregarious darling. I had to give her some meds. While neither of us enjoyed it, and she fought a bit, she didn't use claws, bite, hiss, and do anything aggressive. I'm hopeful that the bimonthly nail trimming won't be too bad, either.

She's not just beautiful, but also has a great personality. And, for extra cuteness, she's a munchkin. It's probably bad karma to laugh at her failed leaping attempts, but she takes it in stride.

So far, big boy cat and the girl are avoiding one another. Initial contact has been cool but not violent.