Sunday, February 28, 2010

Egyptian Theatrics

So, no vacation insurance but things are working out. A friend from Boston is visiting this weekend and we're both sick. She's a little further into recovery than I am, but suffice it to say we're neither operating at full speed. Not that you'd know it from today.

Yesterday we did things close to my home, went to a farmer's market, had brunch, then took a nap. (Well, I think she read, but let's call it a long nap.) Then I made some food for my cooking class potluck and we did that for our evening entertainment until I turned into a pumpkin and we walked the 50 feet back to my place and crashed.

I spent another night waking up ever time I turned over when whatever battery acid my body is producing burned another hole in my throat or eye. Seriously, I've had sinus infections last longer than 5 days, but never since I found the sinus rinse. Even with rinsing and meds and more meds and hot showers, I've been extra super miserable. This is just not letting up. And then my voice quit just in time for tour guide duties.

Today we drove down into the Hollywood area, saw the Hollywood sign, went to the Farmer's Market which seemed more a collection of restaurants than raw food shops. We got some delicious, and unexpected, beignets at the gumbo shop which served well as her second breakfast and my first. (Second breakfast for me was a slice of ham and egg "pizza".) We had just enough time to find parking near the Egyptian Theater so we could take in a public radio talk on the top oscar nominees. Considering how little interest we both have in the movie industry, we enjoyed it quite a lot and understood more than we'd expected. Also got some recommendations for stuff to watch. (Since you asked, I'd say 2009 was a fantastic year for movies generally, but my fav Whip It! doesn't seem to be getting the rewards.)

After the talk, we walked over some sidewalk stars to the Kodak theater where they're setting up for next weeks award ceremony. There wasn't all that much to see, and it wasn't long before she said "it's too crowded, get me outta here", which didn't surprise me much since that seems to be the consensus of 4 out of 5 of my friends. We tried to get to the Griffith J. Griffith observatory, but so was the rest of LA, so we did a quick drive by and took off for the beach. 40 minutes of sitting in traffic later, we finally picked up speed and were able to take the PCH all the way up to dinner in Ventura Harbor. It's not a bad day to see the sun set over the channel islands as the breakers hit the shore and the day is just shy of balmy (and certainly warmer than snowing). I croaked out some descriptions but mostly we just enjoyed the view.

My favorite seafood place served up just what I'd hoped for, then we made it back just in time for the closing Olympics ceremonies. Not bad for running on fumes. I may have overdone it. Leaning forward to type this had activated all my sinuses and I've started to cough, choke, and tear up but have powered through to let you know we survived our outing, even if we might have overdone it just a bit. But it was doing good stuff. Tomorrow I'm going to try working again, and she's going to sojourn down to San Diego. Wish us luck!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


It was a good day for me when I realized that writing non-fiction was a substantially different thing from writing fiction because it meant that I could write. I have never, ever, in my whole life come up with a fictional story. It can take me a week to craft a decent lie, one that my brother could knock off without effort, and chances are about 50/50 that I'll be able to pull it off. My mom once enrolled me in a creative writing course because she likes my writing which I took because I was young enough to confuse "creative writing" with "calligraphy", which was the summer course I wanted to take. I was both disappointed and driven to deliberate plagiarization because I never did come up with a story to write for the final project so I took the most obscure but kind of generic story I could find on the hall shelf and copied that. To this day I don't feel guilty and it remains the only assignment I ever copied. And as an adult, I now know that if I can't create fictional stories I can do a reasonable job writing anything I believe to be the truth. Hence the blog.

Still, every time I hear educators say "we'd like to have a program where kids come in and write their own stories and put on plays and progress at their own rate and find their own interests" rather than doing standard classroom stuff, I cringe and hope like hell they screen kids for this skill before throwing them in the deep end. The reason I was a great student was because I was given structure and a program that was driven forward externally and exposed to things I never would have thought to look into. As for plays? Fuggeddaboudit. The only time my barbies did anything beyond getting dressed and a hairdo, it was because I was playing with someone else who could craft a story or a scenario that I could follow. I even had one friend who would record soap operas on cassette tapes. I could barely be trusted to do the commercial breaks and even then she'd have to invent the product. I could just never understand where these stories came from because they don't come from me.

So imagine my surprise when I find myself telling stories! I've done hired me an organizer to come over and help me get rid of stuff and sort/store what's left in a more workable manner, and do all the stuff that has to get done but that I don't do. Since she's started coming over, we've completely revamped my non-fiction shelf, gotten all the kitchen items into the kitchen by rearranging where I kept stuff and putting in drawer dividers and whatnot, cleared out a lot of stuff from my giant bathroom closet area, and cleaned off the patio of all the items that got put there because they didn't have anywhere else to go. There's still a lot of work to be done, but I've plain thrown away about 5 large hefty bags of trash and donated a roughly equal amount of stuff that I don't love or use anymore.

Aside from all the decision making involved, which wears me out, it can be really daunting to get rid of things that have a history because one reason people like me keep so many things is because these things remind us of something; they remind us of a story. I find that if I can tell the story of my thing to my organizer, I have an easier time letting go of it. So among all the other functions she performs, she's also my audience when I find myself telling story after story about all these things I used to love and feel a little bad about not loving so much anymore. And things I didn't think I could give up, I'm able to give up once their story is told.

Monday, February 22, 2010

In Kerr of Linkin Park

Probably like many Americans, I never really got why ice dancing existed.  It wasn't quite dance and it wasn't quite figure skating, and there was already a pairs category.  That all changed when I watched, as an adult, a rerun of the Bolero dance in Sarajevo that won gold. It was utterly mesmerising.  I remember stopping what I was doing, pulled into the routine, and just staring stunned. I have since bought Bolero on CD (it was after napster, pre iTunes) but it was the ice dance that made it for me. I'm good with the existence of ice dance for all time, just because that dance occurred.

Because of that, I didn't immediately turn away from the ice dancing and damned if it isn't really entertaining this year.  I particularly appreciated the couples who made the compulsory Tango look like I hadn't already watched it 5 times.  The commentators have been mostly pretty good at explaining what is going on and how they're being judged, although there's still some fair haze there,  I can see differences between ok and excellent.  But I got tweaked when the female commentator made a clearly negative comment about brother sister pair Sinead and John Kerr when pointing out that her height matching his made the scale seem off or odd or summat along those lines just when I was thinking how interesting it was to watch a woman who wasn't a micro-mini deal with the intricacies of pairs.  Way to discourage half a generation of taller than ever girls from wanting to embrace their height and still do something athletic but still feminine...  But that was the worst misstep in reporting that I saw through the compulsory, the "pick a national/regional inspiration" short skate, and the free skate up to now.

The height aside, the Kerrs are also excellent at dancing with enthusiasm and art but without displaying sexual attraction.  There's all kinds of opportunities for including sexuality in dance, even accidentally, but I think it can also be the easy, the obvious way to go in man/woman pairing where people skate close togogether and in unison.  Their brother/sister paring would make it freakish to watch that so they don't go there, in fact going to lengths to exclude it from their routines. I think it means they need to be more creative in how they relate to each other, having fewer examples to work from. Having the same height also means they have opportunities for her to lift him, and they took advantage - doing interesting and entertaining lifts.  I really enjoyed watching all their routines.  The hoe-down was fun and and their costuming looked authentic, unlike the other non-american couple doing the country thing. I admit to being impressed that they were able to "olympicize" some Linkin Park for their free dance music without destroying it. Even with the twizzle bauble, Well played.

The other couple I particularly like are the french couple, Delobel and Schoenfelder.  They're just beautiful on the ice. I do wish they hadn't gone with unrelieved black for the free dance.  Wait!  Silver sparkle is relieving the black but it's their least compelling routine and costume set of the three.  Still, I liked their Tango and she had a baby in October, FCOL.

And I haven't seen Meryl Davis (usa skater with White) without makeup but she is one odd looking duck. Stunning but odd.  Kind of asian, kind of indian, kind of porcelain.(I peeked at the scores and they've won silver.  Whee!) Oh, hey, they're showing pictures of them as kids and she looks less bizarre.  But I think it's a little "toddlers in tiaras" freaky to see them doing ice dance as 6 or 8 year olds or what have you.  That mock-adult makeup and the whole 6 year olds pair dancing seriously creeps me out.  I guess I figured that figure skating all started the same and differentiated a little later than that very young age, and despite my admiration for the Kerr's ability to keep sex out of the dance, I find the whole concept of premie ice dancing inappropriate.  Still and all, they've succeeded well at it.  And I think she's right to exaggerate her features for theatrical effect.

So I'm still not sure why ice dancing is an olympic sport, but I think it's more of one than sledding, which has multiple categories, so it's all good.  It certainly demands years of expertise in that specific practice unlike sledding which demands being physically fit and access to and ice track, a need for speed, and a coupla years of specific study.

Nothing earth shattering to say. Now that my two favorites have skated, I'm going to go back to installing hooks and whatnot inside my corner cabinet to hang up pot lids and strainers for easy access. Let me know when they start running some F/F or M/M dancers.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Braise: Beef Provencal Stew

My cooking lesson in braising left me with the microwave fish curry but not many other things I felt like trying. They were all big efforts for something I wasn't thrilled about. What I was thrilled about trying is the Beef Stew recipe from Cook's Illustrated. The thing that intrigued me about it was their insistence that adding a couple anchovies deepened the umami flavor in the dish giving it depth without fishiness. Since I have developed issues with MSG, I need something to help with that savory boost. And I have wanted to do a beef dish with browning then braising. I have to say it was a good thing I wanted to try this for fun because it consumed my entire saturday to get this on sunday.

Plated Beef Provencal

For the full story,

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Have Confidence in Me

There's a tendency I have to suspect things are going to be more difficult than they wind up being. This tendency happens in lots of things and is getting worse as I become curmudgeonly. When I first really noticed this issue it was when I delayed running for dorm president for a year because I was unsure of myself and sure someone else would do a better job. Then someone else got elected and did an fine job, but not a better job than I could have done, and there I was, stuck for a year. But I ran and won the next year. My first meeting was a fiasco, then I had a chat with the housemaster about Roberts Rules of Order, and things went well from there on out. I messed up, everything got posted in the first online version of the school newspaper, I learned, I fixed it, and I enjoyed myself a lot, and from the feedback I got, I did a better than average job. If I hadn't had a hard problem to deal with (the "Just Say No" generation hitting college vs drinking at parties), I never would have learned my better skills. But even starting out rocky, the job was not beyond my abilities (once I developed the necessary abilities). I think of that whenever I encounter something daunting and try to assess real obstacles from false yet sometimes I still psych myself out.

But in at least one area, I consistently think I'm awesome with awesome sauce, able to do anything I desire, despite any evidence to the contrary. And while that could go awry, I keep my desires reasonable, and given how it contrasts to the fears I face for almost everything else I think about doing, it actually brings some healthy balance.

I have utter confidence in my glassblowing skills. Granted, I've been at it for years and years - but that doesn't translate into years and years of practice. I was really diligent while at school, worked hard, became an assistant instructor, worked harder, worked with some amazing primary instructors, and got exposure to more techniques than I can shake a stick at. But I also had a lot of downtime. I had 2 years where I had enough energy to instruct, but not enough energy to use my in-kind studio time. I finally committed, got regular glass time in the studio, beefed up my skills, made 10 ta-ta vases, then moved to CA and failed to find a well matched partner. So my experience is all over the place, but my memories are of my successes.

Yet whenever I look at the history of my work, many of the items I thought were the best thing ever, are only pretty good. For instance, I save my best ornament (or two) from each ornament season and each year I think I'm the best, and next year they get better. While it stands to reason that would improve, the amount of improvement can be a little shocking.

What's also shocking is that when I take time off from glassblowing, I don't come back at 100%. This might not be terribly unsurprising to anyone else, but it always catches me off guard. I finally, finally got a regular glassblowing partner so I can make something other than ornaments. I love making ornaments, but they're not the only thing I want to do. Once one has an assistant, the possibilities explode. While one can do other things by onesself, I don't really like to. Also, I like the forced teamwork of the exercise. Glass can be incredibly social. It can also be competitive. And I haven't put a flat bottom on anything in 4 years. It doesn't feel like ny time at all in my head, but my fingers remind me.

After 3 years of all ornaments all the time, but for a couple of pumpkin runs (essentially big ornaments), and my baby sea monster (which is a prototype alligator and all kinds of wrong but I love him)
face of green glass monster with googly eyes
...I'm having issues making your basic cylinder. When I took a class at Corning - the year I decided I needed to commit to the hobby or give it up entirely - my first day elements were lousy, but by the second day I was back on track. I made some really nice stuff that week. It has now been 4 sessions after nearly a year out of the studio (damned economy!) and that 4 years without a paddle and I've finally made a decent cup. (I'd call it a "glass" but that somehow seems non-specific.)

I know all sorts of ways to make a tall straight cup;
  • blow while jacking the sides straight
  • blow while shaping with a newspaper
  • marver the end a lot and blow the sides thin
  • cap the end and marver the sides straight
  • blow a wider bubble and swing it out
  • use a v-shaped block lined with newspaper
  • blow into a mold
  • pull with diamond shears from the bottom while blowing.
I could go on, then start on how best to put in a flat base.

At any rate, I think I've tried and done poorly with more than half of these methods in the last few weeks. They all have their pros and cons. Most of the con is that I looked like a beginner, got awkward results, and that's weird for me because I know all this stuff, but my muscle memory appears to have atrophied. My heat judgment is off, and heat is everything. My memory of the basics is sound but the details that feed the mojo have to be dug out of deep storage.

But I still think I'm all that. And I'll get to where my skills match my mental pictures. I have plans and ideas, and help with the blowing and bit work. I wonder if olympic athletes feel like this about their sport? P.S. If you're waiting on a wedding present, they're finally in the works and I'm getting excited about them. Hopefully they will work and you will love them.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Damn, NBC - show me some sports!

The olympics is happening in my time zone and I have to wait for 3 hours after I get off work to get coverage? This is retarded. Show me some skiing! show me some snowboarding! Let me watch it online. I already know what's going to happen - my relatives and twitter already told me.

If I like it, I'll watch it on the big screen but this withholding information makes me hate you; it doesn't make me watch. And your rudeness and bad coverage make me turn the channel. You did catch where I watched a rerun of Castle instead of your awful coverage last night, right? It wasn't until after midnight that you really started going and I had to turn it off. Why not show that shit at 6pm instead of midnight? I just don't get this. Worst coverage ever. Epic Fail, even. Why even bother trying?

If anyone can privately send me a link for where I can get what I want, I will love you long time.

EDITed to add. Seriously, Prime time coverage just came on saying "we have a time delay on the speedskating so we'll get back to that later". Um... the delay was HOURS ago. Everyone in the entire WORLD but those of us in the same time zone in the US know what the results were, and better, saw it. All I get is leftover video of Shaun White from previous competitions. Seriously? You talk about time delays affecting tape delayed events? Show me the damn athletes already. I hate NBC more than microsoft right now and that's a little hard to do, if you've been following my MS 2007 travails.

EDIT2. 10:15pm Well, here's some snowboarding finally, about when I'm ready to check out. And the first run we see is one of the best. I want to see the best but theres no run up, it's like hitting 3rd base before the opening pitch. NBC, remember on the weekend when you showed the run-up to the best skiers as well as the best skiers? THAT gives more emotional buildup that waiting around for scores. You get this footage IN ADVANCE. Pay a professional to edit it. The wait for scores is wasted time (except maybe on the scores you already know to be surprising, maybe). Cut the time between end of run/skate and when we see the score - end it after the summary comment. Cut this crap out and string the riders/skaters/skiiers actual performances together so you can get more earlier competitors in. I'd understand if you were broadcasting live. But you're not. You're making me wait 6 hours for crap you've already broadcasted 3 or 4 times. Pile it up! Invent a new way to broadcast. Take a risk; make the story better than live. Make it enough better that we actually WANT to watch it days later when you finally get around to posting it.

Of course, I will watch the Shaun White coverage over and over, but I'd like to watch it with the lead up of all the other best of the best whom he blows out of the sky completely. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Ian Thorpe, Michael Phelps, Shaun White - people who are so very, very good at what they do, they make it look both easy AND amazing and fun to watch even if you hate their sport. But I love watching halfpipe. Show me more (which you could do if you started broadcasting earlier). (Whew! It looked like they were shorting it but there's another run that they claim they will be showing.)

Good job on the slo-mo recap of Shaun White. Also it was good to see the skiiers just dominate a brutal downhill. Way to go Vonn and Mancuso! And Shanni Davis! And hey, look! NBC showed all three medalists in the Women's snowboard cross medal ceremony - stunner!

New Authors

I'm discovering that a lot of the authors I like or want to try out are all published through Berkley Sensation. I think I'll print some lists from them before my next book buying bonanza, since at least a few of the authors I plan to try from reading snippets or getting recommenations, and some of my bigger favorites, are theirs.

I just read a pretty good novel by a Berkley author I like a lot but have a driving need to offer some constructive criticism on her new series - which I want to like, I really do - but has enough flaws that need to be fixed in the upcoming books that I truly want to say it to someone who matters. Do I write the author? Do I write the editor? Because this book had what I consider to be serious problems that need to be reigned in if the series is to flourish. And I love her other series so much I know she's capable of fixing this.   I want this series to work out, but right now it's diving off a cliff and the angel wings aren't flapping.  But how can I help?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Twitter to the Rescue

Well, props to NBC for at least providing this useful twitter update tool to keep track of what's going on at the Olympics. I now know to search out video of the snowboard cross, which got a canadian gold (women's) because chances are if they bother to telvise this awesome event, they probably won't do it until after I'm in bed. (Or rather, I'd like to watch this at dinnertime, not 8 hours after the race completes along with a bunch of fluff.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

NBC Crash and Burn on Olympic Coverage

Yanno, maybe I should have written to someone specifically rather than just bitching about it in my blog, but NBC has once again shown a medals ceremony without showing all the people on the podium.  The only shocker is that they completely cut out an American this time. I understand that the Canadian guy got the first gold on home turf.  I get that. I do.  But you can still, for even the briefest of all possible moments, show ALL THREE MEDALISTS on the podium during the playing of the National Anthem.  It pisses me off to no end that there are three medalists on the stand and NBC consistently refuses to show all three.

During the weekend coverage, I thought things had improved from the last games:
They showed more than just the American competitors and the gold medalist doing the event.  One could watch the final 10 (or more!) competitors, each better than the last, building up the excitement and the expertise so that when the gold medal contenders gave it their all, we really knew just how very good they were.
NBC showed more than one person, and not just the Americans during at least one medal ceremony.
Coverage included several contenders from the more oddball sports.
There was respect when talking about the Nordic events that Americans typically don't medal in.  They went on about how even finishing in the top 10 would be our best finish ever and they weren't even snarky about it.

Which is to say, I had hopes, expectations.

All dashed by some lousy, lousy prime time coverage.  It's so lousy, I've watched most of a re-run of The Big Bang Theory and have given up entirely to watch a rerun of Castle. (Although I reserve the right to go back during commercials.)

The thing that gets me is that the must have generated thousands of hours of coverage that they're just choosing not to show. Or are they really so horrible that they aren't filming all the events?  Yet for prime time, they've gone back to showing just Americans, the occasional Canadian favorite, and the gold medalists, then using about 3X that airtime for commercials and fluff filler and repetition of stuff that's already been covered to death.At least with the show-cross they get forced to show other competitors.  Also, I can't believe that professional news broadcasters would be so thrown by losing the timing of the Speed Skating that they didn't have other coverage of EVENTS (not filler) to toss in. Some of this stuff was run hours and hours ago.  You can't hustle a little thumb drive over to HQ with a couple of exciting clips? 

Well, at least the people on screen now (pairs skating) appear not to be Americans, but I think they're gold medal contenders.

Seriously NBC, the competitors here have usually worked their whole lives to get there.  Show a little respect and give them some airtime.  At the very, bottom of the barrel least, even if you continue to shortchange the viewers in watching the actual events, you should be showing all three medalists for at least part of the medals ceremony - yes, you're allowed to do facial closeups, you're jus not  allowed to focus on only one person for the entirety of the song. It's just disrespectful. I imagine Bryon Wilson's folks are going to have to rely on camcorders (if they could afford to attend) or bootleg footage to get the video of their kid, an actual bronze medalist from a televised ceremony since the major network showing the ceremony he was in failed to show him.

The timing thing that really frosts me is when they don't show event footage in favor of showing "waiting for the judges scores".  Even after a commercial break.  Really?  Isn't that tape delayed?   Rack it so I can watch more athletes being athletic and less dead air time of athletes being winded and waiting for scores.  For the ice skating alone you could show three more couples with all the "waiting for scores" crapola you've broadcast.

The one thing I haven't objected to is the Dreamworks dragon spots, probably because I'm amused by both Dreamworks and Craig Fergusson and the fact that they crafted shorts just for the Olympics.  I've read at least one article where people are pissed, but frankly, no matter how amusing the show or the idea may be, I've killed more time watching spots for "the Marriage Ref" than I care to think about and those are precious moments I will never get back and don't want to reflect on.  At least the dragon stuff doesn't make me die a little inside.

Tournament of...

 I originally wrote this on 12 May 2009 at 7:51PM.  I'm not sure why I didn't post it aside from my lack of a conclusion.  So I added a conclusion, and a jump because the post is long.
People, many of them quite smart and well informed, keep using the phrase "the gap between rich and poor" and saying that it is bad. This phrase bothers me a lot because I find it useless at best and misleading at worst. People are pack oriented mammals. There are always alphas, betas, all the the way to omegas. There will always be people who outrank, outpower, and outperform others. To suggest that all people are gammas is to dismiss the inherent hierarchical structure of community.

Within that community however, we can find that having more gammas than omegas is heathier for us overall. (For those unfamiliar with greek think A(1st place),B (2),G (7),Z (last) where Z is Omega. For those horrified by me using these the way I want to and not according to previous conventions other than order which I warn is the case, stop reading or get over it.)

I watched a documentary once about a wolf pack that was under observation by humans. (They kind of tolerated the researchers.) The researchers explained the ranking system and the pack definitely had its alpha, betas, gammas and omegas. The pack omega was a weaker female and whenever the pack ate they would deliberately keep her from the carcass until last, going so far as to shoo her out of the area completely. I kept thinking "what's the harm in letting her hang around the edges? She always did get some scraps at the end, it's not like she's going to bite you in the butt." And one time when they chased her out of the area while the big dogs were eating, she was killed by a stronger predator. The really striking thing was that the pack went into a severe depression with the omegas death. It turned out that she was an empathetic influence who calmed the pack when they were inappropriately riled and offered comedic relief when they were tense or sad. Without her, the pack really fell apart. Not just for days. They mourned her absence for months and months. Pack function failed in a major way.

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Dress in White" - opening ceremonies

Forget the imperialist drumming. Canada is going to have everyone dress like snow and sing some wacky songs 'round the campfire. I randomly flipped to the opening ceremonies for the first time just as K.D. Lang was belting out Hallelujah and a friend texted me at that moment that she was singing (since we've discussed that song particularly). That timing was pretty wacky as I'd forgotten the Olymics were starting tonight despite seeing the news about the dead luger earlier today. I just get bored during commercials and still don't have TiVo.

Anyhow, The Canadians are going to be polite about these ceremonies, but they won't look enthused. Still, for the opera, they managed about as well as one can not to seem totally trapped. (Or worried they'd get lost in her enormous hair.) Now they're talking of sportsmanship and well, apparently pledging to act like Canadians and all. And hell, it's my blog, so I'm just going to point out how, especially after the Chinese offered up 1000+ young men all the same age and probably height hitting drums and whatnot at the same time, how non-uniform their performers are, all being some kind of celebrity/minority. The gayest Canadian, a black opera singer, a winning para-olympian, etc... Oh, hey, now they're hauling out the hockey players, eh. The torch design looks like a big ol' Swiss knife. Now we're waiting for, well, something. Aha. Technical difficulties. Good thing they have lots of music playing. Well, 3 of 4 ain't bad. Whoops.  Still, it looks like they're lighting the edge of the ice on fire. 

Let the curling begin!!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Hubble Hears a Who?

I have had almost zero time to wander the interwebs recently. But I did run across this. I've rather gotten unexcited by astronomy in the last few years (I don't know of a reason to care if the universe is 13.89 or 13.93 billion years old or whatever the current numbers are, even if I do wonder that that's just the universe we can see meaning that if we were that far away, would it extend equally far from there? but still. bleh.) Then I ran across this picture with a charming and enthusiastic explanation of all the little bits in it.
masses of stars, gasses, and galaxies far far away

Click on the picture and go ignite some enthusiams for the Whos galaxies that Hubble Heard Saw.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Good Gravy

It occurs to me that my updates are not very frequent. Sorry! Had a guest and did some stuff. Have two weeks of cooking class yet. So far so good. The lesson foods are mostly made by the instructors with the occasional opportunity for us to join in. We follow along with the recipe in class, try some finished dishes to know how they're supposed to taste, then we're supposed to try the recipes at home. This most recent class was braising, pressure cooking, and microwaving things which were either too slow or too fast for us to join in the prep. With merely one recipe they de-mystified pressure cookers and now I want one. But that's for another time.

In general, I don't cook fish or curry at home. Fish because it requires buying it on the day you want it and I generally cook from pantry/frozen goods. Curry because it can take forever and often doesn't give me what I want or is too complicated. (One curry exception is the frozen Paneer Tikka Masala from Trader Joe's - I doctor it by adding chicken and veggies and it's wonderful.) So not having time to do a braising trial this weekend due to having a friend in town and not owning a pressure cooker, my recipe this week is a microwaved fish curry. Sounds revolting, no? Turns out it's both easy AND delicious. Wacky.

I considered taking a picture, but maybe next time. I was hungry. This is my version derived from the school's version. The teacher's version will be after the jump, and it was derived from a Julia Sohni recipe. Mine was good enough that I made some quinoa to more easily eat the remaining sauce.

Microwaved Filet of Sole Curry - Rev 3
1/4tcayenne pepper
1/2tPenzey's Maharajah Curry
1/4tground pepper
1cubeDorot frozen minced garlic
1/4inchginger, minced
1Tgrapeseed oil
Chunky stuff
1/2lbwhite fish, thin filet(s)
1small zucchini, cubed
1leafkale, torn into 1" pieces
5button mushrooms, diced
1+tGrey Poupon mustard
pinchsalt to taste
6dollopssprayed from heavy whipped cream can

  • Put the filet in a microwave safe dish like a pyrex bowl or pie plate. Mix rub. Rub it on the fish, both sides. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, chop the veggies roughly
  • Squeeze a stripe of mustard down the fish
  • Toss the veggies on the fish, salt the mess, and squeeze out some dollops of whipped cream a little bigger than golf balls.
  • Cover with Glad Press-n-seal, microwave for 3 minutes
  • Remove pan from microwave, on the far side of the dish peel back the plastic wrap (or cut slits) to let out the steam away from your face.
  • Use a spatula to flip and rotate the fish, recover with veggies as you're able
  • Recover and cook for 99 sec to 4 min more until cooked through
  • Do the same steam dance - away from the face - and let sit 1 min, then plate. Heat remaining sauce in bowl up to a minute to thicken and drizzle over plated dish.
  • Serve. Roll eyes back in head from tastiness and light texture of the fish. There's a lovely burn that shouldn't overwhelm anyone who eats any spicy food at all.