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A very late dinner. [Jun. 14th, 2009|08:55 pm]
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Tonight I made The Slow-Cooker Burgundy Beef recipe from Coconut and Lime.

It took a lot longer for me to prep this than I expected, in part because I was playing with my snazzy new camera and trying to take pictures as I went along. I gave that up for a bad deal eventually, and so only did it at sporadic times.

For a variety of reasons, I changed a few things in the recipe. First, I'd just bought green garlic and red spring onions at the farmers' market, so I used those instead of standard garlic and pearl onions. I recalled (perhaps incorrectly) that pearl onions tend to be milder in flavor than larger ones, so I thought the sweeter red onion switch might be tasty. Plus, it saves this starving graduate student a few bucks!

Of course, what I didn't realize is that green garlic hasn't yet matured into cloves, so I had to estimate there too. I figured that if I ended up using more, well, I love garlic and the internet tells me that green garlic (and, my favourite, SCAPES) are much milder than mature garlic, so more is probably okay.

So, let's get down to it, shall we?

I started here, with the wine and other marinade ingredients. The wine is delicious, for the record. I had some mid-day as this was cooking (and, of course, some with dinner). It was a 2007 Philippe Colin Pinot Noir. I sound like I know what I'm talking about, but I wandered into the very awesome Marion Street Cheese Market* and explained how I didn't know anything about wine, and all my recipe called for was a "Burgundy", and the lovely lady (I believe she was the owner) steered me to this. Fabulous. Here's a slightly closer photo of the bottle, if you're interested.

Then I got out my slab o' beef and cut it down to size, then cubed it. I had a very hard time flouring the beef, and I'm not sure what I did wrong, but it came out just fine. I had a hard time browning the beef as well, but I'm sure that has to do with cooking in someone else's kitchen with someone else's tools. ETA: I forgot to mention last night that there was quite a bit of frond in the pan after the browning, so I did a quick deglaze with some of the marinade. I tried to minimize reduction, though, since I wasn't sure how much liquid was definitely needed.

Early on, I tried to see what I could see without opening the lid. Not much, as it turns out.

After eight hours had passed, I finally got to open the slow-cooker, and it looked mighty fine indeed.

I couldn't get tapioca (which gundy implies is a good thing), so I took her & antijen80's advice and made a roux to thicken the whole thing. That also did not turn out so well, so in the end I just reduced it on the stove top by about half. While working on the reduction & roux, I set aside the meat mixture under an aluminum tent. My aluminum tent-making skills are not so good.

Finally, I got to eat the finished product. First off, the addition of garlic scapes and greens was wonderful. The greens in particular became more edible and super tasty. I also love the peaking out of the red onions here. The flashes of purple bring some colour to a dish that desperately needs it. Also, they taste great beyond description. I love the sweet kick with the light onion flavor. I suspect mature red onions would still be tasty, but not as tasty, since I think they are less mellow/sweet.

I should have cooked the beef longer, I think. It was good, and falling apart on my fork, but not without resistance. I know for next time. It was, however, very flavourful.

The mushrooms are a big disappointment. Kind of boring, which is crazy considering the flavor going on around them. I wonder if there's just not enough of the original marinade or if they should be marinated in a different style to perk them up some.

All in all, this recipe is a keeper. And I'll update tomorrow afternoon on how the leftovers are, since I'm clearly taking some for lunch.

The rice is almost done. Which is better than previous efforts of "not at all done" as of late or "burned" as of a few years ago. But that's got little to do with this recipe. Still, it was tasty and worked well with the beef.

All in all, I'm glad houdini_cs talked me into entering this contest, since he couldn't. I'd never even heard about this blog before he mentioned it, and I think it's going into the regular reading.

*gundy, I figured you'd want to know that not only did we miss out by not going to the cheese place for breakfast, we're not the first people to mention to the woman who helped me that "Valerie" is mean and/or creepy...
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For everyone in Chicago, but especially Q. [Mar. 31st, 2009|03:19 pm]
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I'm keeping this one public, partially in the hopes of driving Chicago traffic to the link.

Someone I know is doing his PhD work on urban ecology in Chicago, and is using squirrels as the focal point of his study. If you see squirrels around, please take a moment to fill out the data sheet on the following page.

http://projectsquirrel.org/ This is information about the project in general.

http://projectsquirrel.org/participate.shtml This is specific information to help fill out the datasheet if needed.

Please help my friend work on his data collection. It's a really interesting project, whether you love or fear squirrels.

ETA: Q, when I told him about Boo & your black walnut tree, he said he simply must have your data. I guess there's some sort of squirrel thing going on with those variables. So please help him out.
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Knives, anyone? [Nov. 29th, 2008|06:37 pm]
So, upon seeing the knives houdini_cs posted about, I admit I had to enter the giveaway.

I entered for the Fusionwood Chopper knife - in the peacock coloured handle.

If you haven't seen what I'm talking about, go here and read about honing your knives, or just skip to the end where you can enter to win some beautiful and fancy knives!
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Well, it would be me who would post this. [Jun. 24th, 2008|04:48 pm]
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This might be the most horrifying sentence I've read in a news report in a long time, for the sheer "should be absurd"-ity of it.

"The children have been held since April on charges of promoting warlike activities."

I showed the article to niap_si_efil, and he was surprised at first, until he realized the sentence had come from a news article on Kenya and not the States. I'll leave it to the reader to conclude what it says that he first thought that sentence came from a place in the States.

If anyone is interested, the story is here.
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Firefox update [Dec. 14th, 2007|07:00 pm]
Seems to be working now, and I changed nothing. What weirdness.
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Firefox acting wonky [Dec. 7th, 2007|03:55 pm]
So, I need some suggestions from the tech-savvy crowd out there. After much futzing about with my computer and such, I have found that the reason I can't open e-mails in gmail is, apparently, Firefox. This was eventually figured out when I tried it in IE and found that everything worked just fine there.

I can send e-mails from gmail in Firefox. I can see if I have new ones in Firefox. I can change my settings and I can wander in and out of "drafts", "inbox", etc. I just cannot open a single piece of mail. Me, personally. A friend tried it for me, and found that he could open my e-mails on his machine.

Eventually trying IE (after trying a wired connection, and god only recalls what else), I found I could open and respond to e-mails and such there.

Anyone have any suggestions on what this might mean and how I can fix it. I've no interest in using IE for my e-mail, if I can avoid it.

ETA: I tried uninstalling and reinstalling Firefox and that didn't help.
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Poll [Jun. 21st, 2007|11:49 am]

Due to a disagreement between myself and a few others, it was suggested I post the following poll to LJ. So, please, tell me how you round.

Poll #1007403 Short Poll: How do you round?

How would you round 2.5 to an integer?


Why did you round the way you did?

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On tea and eating local [Jun. 18th, 2007|09:49 am]
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I've been trying pretty hard over the course of the last year or so to start really eating local foods. To maintain this in my current life situation, I may have to become a lacto-ovovegetarian, and I don't know if I have that in me. I'll consider that in due course.

At the moment though, I'm thinking about my tea. Tea is my drink of choice, most of the time. I like it hot and iced, any time of the year. I like many varieties, including herbal "teas". In past moves, I've had whole boxes dedicated solely to my tea. Small boxes, but whole boxes nonetheless. I don't keep an astounding variety on hand (I think), but you'll never catch me with just one type.

That said, it might be somewhat time to change my ways. And I don't think I like that. It might be easier to make a vegetarian out of me than to take away my teas.

I was making a cup of my favorite tea today, when I stopped to read the box again. Why, I don't know. I'm sure other compulsive readers will recognize the inherent urge to just read anything that comes to hand. I've read this box of tea before, but that compulsive reading urge took over and I did it again.

The tea is Tazo's Zen blend. It's a yummy, yummy green tea. One of my fellow grads started drinking tea after trying this, and having never been a tea drinker before. Now I'm thinking of cutting the tea out entirely (by which I mean not ever buying another box). Here's why.

"Tazo Zen is made with full-flavored, pan-fired Chinese green tea. Long known for its legendary properties, this aromatic tea is combined with lemon verbena leaves from Eastern Europe, lemongrass from Guatemala, spearmint leaves from the Northwest and a hint of sweet lemon essence. That, and a few mumbled chants from a certified tea shaman."

Okay, so in one cup of tea, I've got stuff brought to me from China, Eastern Europe, Guatemala and "the Northwest". This tea's got a lot of miles in it! It's not fair-trade or organic, so who knows how much people are being paid down the pipe for their contributions to this tea. It's tasty, but it may not suit the person I want to be.

And here's where I'm torn. Not so much on the tea. That I can say goodbye to without too much difficulty. There are teas I can get from Virginia that are even better. But I'm torn on purchasing things in general. Right now, I'm in a pretty sharp spot, monetarily. I can't afford to do all the avoiding China, buying only fair-trade, organic, sustainable, etc I'd like to do. It's amazing how much stuff goes into setting up a house. I've done a lot via CraigsList and Freecycle, but there are times when I need something now.

I'm in a decent spot for eating local, between the CSA membership, and the fact that it's farmers' market season. I have to find my way to one or more markets, but I think that's doable. For the other stuff, I hope I'm nearly done with the buying. I hope I'm at the point were if I need or want something, it's not so pressing I can't wait for it to hit Freecycle.

I am getting frustrated with myself. I'd like to be better at these things that are important to me. That said, I'm not throwing it all out, so that's worth something.
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Wow, how horrifying. [Feb. 9th, 2007|10:09 pm]
Elie Wiesel, author of "Night", was attacked by a holocaust denier in a San Francisco hotel. Luckily, he was not hurt.

People boggle me sometimes.
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An aspect of comps I don't think I'll share with my fellow grads. [Feb. 1st, 2007|09:12 pm]
I was talking to my committee chair today, and she asked me what "grade" I got on comps. That certainly confused the heck out of me.

Turns out that if you pass, you can pass with one of three grades, P, P+ or P-. I got mostly "Pass" or "P" written on my papers, so I had no idea there were gradations of passing. Though it does explain what I thought was a stray pencil mark on Dr. D's graded paper. She gave me a "P-". I find that I am totally okay with this. :D

As for my fellow grads, comps are stressful enough, so I don't think there's any need to let people who haven't taken it yet that you not only pass or fail, but you get "graded" if you pass. I know some people who would flip out trying to not only pass, but pass-plus, and life's just too short for that shit.
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