Dec 10, 2012

Halloween socks in December

I have a pair of striped fuzzy socks that I bought at a Walgreens for a few dollars. Cheap. They were a spur of the moment thing, me trying to celebrate a holiday in a fashion that would be out of style before they made it through the laundry a week later.

I've never been good at celebrating things in a timely manner.  And holidays have a way of ending quite suddenly. In my mind, pumpkins go to rot November 1; Christmas trees turn brown and give up their needles December 26. there's some disconnect with reality, however that keeps me from acting on holiday feelings when I feel them. Frankly I'm impressed I managed to even buy these socks that year - I have a strong suspicion that they were actually a bargain post Halloween sale. They say knowing yourself is the first step to happiness.

And wearing these socks must be one close step behind that kind of happiness. They're fuzzy, black, yellow and orange striped. Or yellow with black and orange bands, depending how you bend your brain around. They're puffy and fill up my shoes, surrounding my ankles in a spouting bed of Halloween themed grass.

A midnight black pair of socks with bright bands of candy corn yellow and pumpkin orange dancing their way across the street in a pair of winter rain sodden boots.

Christmas is coming, ya'll.


Nov 24, 2012

home for the holidays

It's the 24th. I'm at home for the holiday, desperately whacking my way through a bug list about a mile long.  Dolly and her male counterharmonic are crooning about the timelessness of this particular Christmas.  Hard to say for a season that's just now starting, but I'm sure that the upcoming December 25th will be memorable.  Thanksgiving is waddling it's way to a close and I'm already wishing it was January 2nd.

I don't want to just get through the next month.  No, I want to transcend it on a cloud of self-actualized oblivion.

There was no turkey this year -- just a ham, some spaghetti squash, flaming coffee, skewered tempers and a movie about infectious diseases.

I didn't give much thought to coming home for Thanksgiving until it had already been mostly planned out beneath me.  Work, cooking classes, food, dinners, friends coming into town.  All I had to do was get myself there.

Now I'm at home, my last night in town and I'm hating myself for not getting more work done earlier in the day.  My dad's on the sofa, reading a magazine, while my sister's off with a mutual friend.  Her and I talked, a few days ago.  We talked about New Years and New York and new plans and old dreams. I cried myself to sleep when it was finally over, distraught over the thought of the coming month.

Well, here it comes. Howdy December.

Nov 17, 2012

The shopping cart

Victor worked the late shift at the corner store on weeknights.  The store was an establishment with a small footprint, dingy, occupying a crowded corner on the avenue between 29th and 28th.  The low slant in the awning above the entry way kept most potential customers at bay, not that Victor minded.  There was a small deli counter, where they sold hot pressed paninis and toaster ovened bagels.  That toaster oven was pure genius, in Victor's mind.  It put their establishment a step above the knish place a block and two slanting awnings away that had only a microwave for heating up their potato cakes.

In the mornings, Victor worked as a janitor for the city parks.  Responsible for the cleanliness of one, albeit small, corner of his grand city.  They had given him a set of keys to the trash bins, a broom and dustpan, and a well-starched forest green uniform with creases in the sleeves.

His schedule had a rhythm to it; unchanging and steady.  He'd wake up early, heat up a leftover panini that he had brought home from the deli store the night before, and button up his uniform to make the long trek to the park.  It was a few blocks from the deli, but about two miles from where he lived on the east side of town.  When it got colder out, he'd take his bike, but on a day like today -- sky a tepid blue color from the lifting morning haze -- he enjoyed watching the rest of the city lazily come to its senses.

It was early November, about 5:30 am in the morning.  A cool 53 degrees with a sharp, intermittent breeze that cut through his three-day beard.  The walk was a long one today - he arrived at the park a little past 6:10.  The small plaza that occupied the majority of the park was quiet.  There were a few homeless men sleeping on the benches on the north side of the square, under the large maple tree that shone with its late fall dress of burnt copper.  The meteorologists had been predicting a cold winter, and this tree was celebrating the fact like a spoiled red haired child.  At the other end of the plaza, there was a small walking garden with benches where couples liked to spend their time.  It had a habit of collecting random articles of clothing -- last week it had been a turquoise sweater and a pair of oxfords.  The week before he'd found a fedora and a pair of woman's socks.  The west side was shady, and cool this morning.  There was an almost full shopping cart at rest in the grass beneath the trees, on the western side of the south-central fountain.  There was a slight slope down from the the fountain on the north side of the inner walkways; the cart appeared to have rolled from one end to the other until it came to rest against the stone curb of the central walk and one of the many public trash cans.  It was rusty and heaped with plastic bag bundles of various shapes, all covered with a layer of grime.  There was usually an owner of the cart somewhere nearby, but this one looked as though it had been momentarily forgotten.

Victor took his broom and dustpan off his shoulder and began sweeping the plaza, beginning at the eastern end of the park, and working his way south.  It was 10 o'clock in the morning before he finished his loop, picking up trash and sweeping off the non-occupied park benches.  The day had brightened considerably, cooling off a bit as the morning fog burnt off.  With his broom and dust pan over his shoulder, he began the walk home.  

The next morning at the plaza was quiet again, the overcast sky drizzling melancholy into the early shadows.  The shopping cart from yesterday was still there, knocked on its side in the wet grass, its contents spilled haphazardly onto the lawn.  A ratty blanket and a few stuffed plastic bags were slowly soaking in the drizzle.  A second shopping cart was perched next to the first cart on the walk, with a few bags piled up beside it.  From his side of the plaza it was hard to tell, but Victor was fairly sure they were previously occupants of the cart now toppled into the grass.

He sighed and began sweeping the east side, slowly making his way clockwise down towards the south end of the fountain.  It wasn't the mess that Victor minded so much as the uncertainty.  Regardless of their contents, he assumed them to be prized, if to no one else the their owner.  Or previous owners.  It was commonly known that the majority of shopping cart owners were mentally ill; not so much persons down on their luck as just out on a mental limb that no one had wanted to climb after them on.  

But what to do with them?  One lonely shopping cart was harmless, but once a crowd began to form (of carts, that is), it suddenly became his responsibility. He glanced northward toward the maple shaded trees, then headed in that direction.  

The park's night time inhabitants were no where to be seen this morning.  The cold drizzle and plunging temperatures must have driven them to seek warmer shelter elsewhere.  Victor sighed, and turned, with growing unease, of how to deal with the problem spilling into the grass on the southern end.  

He removed the trashcan lid, and hefted the first of the bundles into the can.  It was surprisingly lightweight, and looked to be filled mostly with plastic bottles -- a few used Coke bottles (though really, you didn't see many of those these days) mixed in among a plethora of water bottles.  Aquafina, Poland Spring.  Victor wasn't sure what those words stood for, but his grasp on the English language was tenuous, even on better days.  In Romanian, aquafina passibly translated to 'fine water'.  Someone had forgotten to leave the space between the words -- as it was it passed for marketer's Latin.

The last of the trash bags disappeared into the waste bin.  These had been a bit heavier than the first, but Victor made quick work of them.  He pushed the carts out of the north park entrance and left them sitting outside the gates to the park, hidden next to one of the entrance posts.  

He returned to finish sweeping.  On his way back to pick up his broom where he had left it beside the trash can, he realized that even the heaviest of the bags had failed to make a sound when tossed in.  Nor had there seemed to be a lack of space, even though he had dumped a full two carts worth of bags.  

The trash can was a more modern design, a tall solid cylinder of heavy molded steel with two large holes cut on the sides to allow trash to be tossed in. Curious now, he removed the heavy steel cover, propped it carefully against its side and peered in.  There was no sight of the bags he had just tossed in, just the billowing black of a newly opened trash bag.  With trepidation, he reached down to feel for the bags he had certainly just placed there himself.  The back of his neck tingled, his ears filled with a rushing sound, and suddenly Victor found himself hurtling over the event horizon of a black hole.

In the plaza, the rain picked up and began to soak through the wooden handles on the dustpan and broom, propped beside the waste bin on the western side of the south fountain.








Jul 28, 2012

Bugs under the Covers

Debugging is an artform.  The right debug message, once you've figured out what it means, can save you hours of digging.  If you can figure out what they're talking about, that is.  On the other hand, a badly worded or just plain misdirecting debug statement can waste hours of your time.

Not enough can be said about the right console log or print statement.  Any bug is trivial once you know where to look.

Jul 21, 2012

Super Guac

Need a dense, vegan friendly calorie booster? Try this guac inspired super combo.
Warning- its a bit salty, so if possible enjoy with unsalted chips, homemade or unsalted hummus, and/or unsalted miso.
1/2 an avocado
3-5 tbs hummus
1/2 c freshly cooked unseasoned beans (I used adzuki, but black beans would work as well)
1 1/2 tbs miso paste
Optional: few drops lemon or lime juice.

Mash avocado with beans with back of spoon. Mix in hummus, then miso paste and citrus. I didn't have any citrus, but it could use a little. Enjoy with chips!
Caveat: This is so dense, it could float a rock.  But I finally feel full. 
Winning!

Jul 19, 2012

Camel Straws

It feels like a rubber band, that loses it's elasticity.  You're pulling back, ready to let fly, and suddenly find a sagging scrap of rubber dangling from your forefinger.  Or when the elastic in your favorite sweatpants gives out, stretching out to hip size and refusing to come back in to meet your waist.  Or the day at the pool that your swimsuit gives out, as you're reaching for the last stroke, the winning pull against your brother.  Droopy suit 'boobs', you discover, are not a part of a victor's garb.  

There may have been 10,000 pieces, but they all fall to the ground as one.  A solid wall of camel and straw.  His knees are gone, strength disappearing as the elastic rubber band of the earth snaps him back down.

All Gravity is is a gigantic elastic band.  Every push up against it, like a bungied fall down a precipice -- yanked back at the other end.

Does it really matter how many pieces that it took?  That he stood for a whole nine thousand nine hundred ninety nine?  He snapped, like an avalanche.

I like to think that he'll be back.  That he'll at some point, get back up.  That he'll realize how little ten thousand is, and talk himself up all 10 hands of camel height.  Never mind that it's harder to stretch a band out than to keep it taut.  Never mind that he's never done it before.

It's all a matter of mind over matter, isn't it?  Isn't it?

Jul 17, 2012

Auto bio graph ies

There was a Haxor Skool get together tonight.  It was the first time we all really hung out, away from the classroom, in a mingling environment.  I met someone from UT, and as I was introducing myself, I realized that I don't tell anyone about plan II any more.  And in that, I was, by omission writing it out of my story.  It's ironic when you think about it though.  Most of my college friends and experiences, in some way, were related to plan II.  I got more from plan II, and Portuguese really, than I did from any of the other majors that I profess to be.  Really, it says more about me than "Management Information Systems".  It's a truer representation.  But I'm writing it out...

In a way, Haxor Skool reminds me of plan II.  The people are all smarter than me.  We're all driven, fun, dynamic and interested people with a love for learning.  It makes me wonder what experiences I truly missed while I was pretending to be more than "Plan II".  Because honestly, that's what I am. I am a plan IIer, maybe even more so than a haxorskooler.  I love learning and discussing systems, meta thoughts, psychologies.  I'm obsessed with identities and cultures, almost to a fault.  I want to talk to people about how they see the world, what they think of thinking, how programming is changing the world.

As much as it may, or may not, be a 'true representation' of myself, I am writing it out.  And in the act of doing so I find, by accident really, that I have the power to do just that.  To write Plan II out. With that recognition, comes the realization of responsibility -- that my story is my own.  

To understand why this is so revolutionary, you have to understand that implicitly I'd always expected someone else to be keeping track of my life, writing the life story of me in the memory of someone else.  I'm not sure who; just someone.  So it didn't matter if tonight I didn't explain that I did Plan II, or that I was on cross country in high school, or that I'm trilingual, or one of a hundred other facts about me and my life, someone would know.  They would tell that story, to this person, if I didn't.  My reputation, my story, my history would be told, with or without me.  Right?

Looking around, though I don't see that someone.  And that's just it: that someone doesn't exist. The ghost writer that I've been expecting to find is actually me -- I am the author and bookkeeper of my own story.  My story, without me, goes untold.  But just as amazing, as author,  I have the power to write it as I go.  Not the history part, not really.  What's done is done.  But how much of that affects or is brought into the present, what's brought to light in the now -- that's my responsibility, my power.  No one here knows the whole story of me.  And how can they?  In college, no one fully knew the whole story of high school.  And no one in high school fully knew the whole story of my childhood.  My oldest friend, who's known me since middle school, makes up parts of our history together.  (Literally, has memories of me that couldn't have possibly happened since I lived in a different city at the time).  There is no one that knows the whole history of me.  Not one, single person.  


Just me.


So I have to ask.  If I am the only person who knows my history, how much of it actually matters?  I mean, as we carry ourselves forward in time, what do the people we've met and the places we've been mean?  If you cut all ties, drop your email, shut the face book, change your number, move to a new place, what's left?  


Just you.  But, who are you?  The more I ask myself this, I find that it's not where I've been, or what I've done, or who I know, but the kinds of people that I enjoy spending time with.  The conversations that I want to have.  The food that I enjoy eating.  What I want to do with my spare time.  How I want to interact with the people that I've met on the subway, on the street, at bars, meetups, book clubs.  The experiences that I want to have, the emotions that I want to feel.  What matters, then, is just that - and that is who I am.  That, the things that I want, and that I feel and I experience -- that's me.


The job of recording our stories may be ours.  We are our own bookkeepers, written, if you're smart, in your own identity.  But writing stories, alone, is lonely work.


As a former self said it best:  "True love is that that saves you the trouble of writing an autobiography".   

Jun 28, 2012

Remapping my keyboard

I've remapped my keyboard from the normal, QWERTY layout to a more stream-lined layout called COLMAK.

I've only had it converted for a day or so now, but it feels pretty magical. My fingers move a lot less distance to type each word.  COLMAK moves all the most common letters (arst-neio) under your fingers, reducing the amount of stretching your fingers must do to reach the keys. A lot of the minor keys get left where they stand. (So qw/zxcvb).  I'm already up to 20 words per minute with it, and I'm liking the deliberateness it forces onto what I'm going to write.  Every keystroke has to be planned and thought through.

Research has shown that thinking in a non-native language increases the rationality of your thought process -- the jury's still out on whether the same can be said about typing schemas.

For what it's worth, the brain remapping process reminded me a lot of the same pain I went through when learning to separate out Spanish and Portuguese in college. (For the record, that took about 4 months.  I'm in the hours range with COLEMAK still, and it already is light-years ahead, adjustment wise.)  In fact, I would bet that it's largely the same learning process.  The trick, for me at least, is to map over a different part of the brain, or convincing your self this is a new skill almost entirely, so that the old key mappings don't make "logical" sense anymore.  When my fingers reach for an old key, I rationalize why that's not the key I'm looking for.  Something along the lines of "well of course, that's N, the real K is hiding here", and then hitting the correct key. :)



Jun 17, 2012

Burger King -- Where's the onion?

A friend of mine visited for the weekend from DC, heading back today via bus.  On the way to her bus stop, we made a quick pit stop at the bathrooms at the Burger King on Canal St.  The first bathroom door I tried was locked, so I went to the counter to, ostensibly, order fries, but casually also ask for the bathroom key.

In an attempt to be more "healthy", I forewent the fries for the onion rings.  They tasted good, but after one I grew tired of the outer batter, and decided to peel it off and just eat the fried onions.

At first, I just thought the onion was disintegrating.  As I dug through the layers of fried batter, the ring just seemed to pull apart.  The crunchy outer ring was easy enough to remove, but after a layer, the batter turned stretchy and hollow.  With nothing but more stretchy batter inside.  THERE WAS NO ONION.  I had forgotten my glasses at home and it's entirely possible that it was chopped up and included on some microscopic level, but according to my 50/40 vision (far-sighted), it appears that Burger King is now selling "onion simulated batter rings".

I paid $2.17 for well-constructed fried dough.


Just for kicks, I looked up the nutrition facts (see below).  One medium order has 5 grams of sugar and 1080mg of sodium.  Compared to a small order of fries (which is MORE food, by serving size gram, fyi), that's twice the sodium.  Looking back, they didn't really taste that salty, which explains why those 5 grams of sugar are necessary.  Extra salt, extra sugar, no real vegetable -- how is this an onion ring again?

Saitug Palability Rating: Not terrible, if you can get over the fact that it's over-priced fried dough
Food Description Honesty Rating: Pants on Fire


Source: http://www.bk.com/cms/en/us/cms_out/digital_assets/files/pages/MenuNutritionInformation.pdf

Jun 14, 2012

dejavu

It happened again today. A dream came true. One of those strange waking dreams where I don't believe I'm dreaming. And then it happens and you realize that you weren't, really dreaming, merely staring through your future eyes.

It makes it hard not to take any dream seriously, no matter how strange it is.

This particular dejavudream had to do with subways signs and street corners, just a situation that I had been in before. I may or may not have been tripping on a frozen custard from ShakeShack at the time of the sighting.

How do I know that it's deja vu, that I'm not just remembering some sight that I've seen before, or that I'm just having a strong emotional reaction to a place?

Because I'll wake up the next morning after the dream, and I'll think about how weird it was. And then, maybe a few days, maybe a few years later, it happens. So I've lived it thrice.

I've been having strange dreams in New York City. All of them are epic in proportion, but completely forgotten by the time I rouse myself. It's hard to wake up, because they're so real, so compelling. My alarm clock goes off at 7:30 am. It's often 10:30 before I can pull myself out of dream world though -- dreams punctuated by a ringing noise and timed swats at the snooze button.

And how can you argue with dreaming if you're a victim of dejavu? Perhaps there is a great evil that I'm fighting off in my dreams every morning. The only dreams I dejavu are the ones where everything ended up all right. How can we know? My alarm clock is the real villan, attempting to pull me up to consciousness before reality is saved in Dreamworld.

And that is why I was late to work this week.

A Memoir

- I like reading memoirs written by authors
- You do realize the idiocy of that statement, don't you?
- You know what I mean.  A memoir by someone that's a writer by trade.
- No, you said author.  Not writer.  By definition anyone that's written a memoir is then an author.  That's any memoir ever written.  Why not just say that you like memoirs?
- But I don't like every memoir - stop being so tautological!
- Stop making tautological assertions if you want me to stop pointing out the tautology of them!


Silence.  The sound of an ego losing it's grandstand, of an argument being won, a shift in the understanding that exists between two people, however minor.

Jun 4, 2012

New City

I arrived in New York City (wow thatlooksgoodonpaper) yesterday.  Moved into my apartment with nary a hitch, strangely enough.  I keep expecting the sidewalk to explode, or the subway trains to crash, or my bags to disappear down a sinkhole, or a glacier the size of Manhattan to descend upon, well, Manhattan.

None of these things have yet to come to pass.  I am quite disappointed.

My apartment's on the lower side of LES, right at the intersection of Chinatown.  This means there is fresh produce and bubble tea practically at my doorstep.  Win.  Fun Fact: My building is also home to the SWAN project.  Draw from that what conclusions that you will.

As a first impression, this city feels like a giant outdoor playground.  This may be because it is filled with young people.  They're everywhere and they're young.  Late teens, early twenties. Ok, so that's kind of me but I'm on the upper end of the lower twenties.   I'm guessing all the older twenties, younger thirties all hang out in Brooklyn.  Yeah, that's it.  They're all in Brooklyn.

Todo: Come up with a sight seeing list for the week.  Phone home about bubble tea.  Find some of that restorative youthful night cream.  Buy a pillow.



May 10, 2012

Smiles and other Lies

I'm reading a book right now on gender misconceptions (Delusions of Gender, by Cordelia Fine).  The book itself deserves a review, but I'm holding off on a broader commentary until I'm finished with it.  (I'm about a third of the way into it).

Part of Fine's goal is to debunk the myth of super intuitive women, that are keyed into others' thoughts and feelings.  As part of the debunking process (as with all pop-psych books), she walks us through several laboratory psych studies that show how accuracy in guessing other's feelings can be manipulated by 'priming' stimuli and incentives.

The experiment works as follows: pairs of participants are asked to wait in a room for five minutes, while the lab proctor goes to find a replacement bulb for the projector.  After the five minutes are up, test subjects are told about the experiment, and then asked to do two things: 1) watch a video of their own actions and identify what they were thinking or feeling at that moment.  2) Watch a video of the other participant, and identify how they were thinking or feeling... you get the picture.  This allows researchers to, in real time, gauge a person's ability to accurately judge another's thoughts and feelings.

I would conjecture that most people assume they know what others think, or are feeling.  Or if they don't know, they ask to find out.  (Perhaps another way of saying this is that when it comes to light that they don't know what's going on, they ask.  But until proof appears that was other than what was expected, they assume that they know what they're talking about).

A friend, while tripping out on acid, once told me, "you know, to other people, I appear almost exactly the same now as when I'm completely sober".  Debatable, but if correct, it undermines the importance of understanding exactly what others are thinking or feeling.  Not to discount empathy, and the ability to connect with others, but I've noticed that my interpretation of other's smiles or interactions largely is based on my own state of mind at the moment.

This needs more explication.  To be continued...

May 4, 2012

that which

o que comencou como a short story written em succinct prose.

terminou.



<translation> that which began as um conto curto escrito in prosa succinta

ended. </translation>

Mar 28, 2012

voce


te busco nos olhos dos outros.
me preguntam,
o que é?
e eu, de retorno,
câde?

<i look for you in others' eyes>
<they query>
<what is it?>
<and i, in turn,>
<is it (you)?>

Mar 18, 2012

And so it begins...

3 weekends of backing up, file scrubbing, and downloading boot loaders later, Debian Linux is installed on my netbook (aka Dali, la neta), thus completing the trifecta: win7, Linux, os x.

GUI, where art thou.


Mar 12, 2012

Seedlings!

My first ever seedlings have sprouted. And like a good momma, I can't remember who I planted there. It's a toss up between the spinach or basil. I'd be tickled beyond belief if it actually is basil - I've been quietly lusting after the seedlings at the urban harvest farmers market for the past two Saturdays now. And outside the HEB and Whole Foods. Every sprig I see in the produce bins has me dreaming of pesto.
Its been almost a year since Junior passed, the basil plant I bought at a farmers market in Fayetteville, AR in late June two summers ago. He sat out in the stairwell at my apartment complex, catching sun during the afternoons while I worked in the Walmart catacombs. He was my first real plant, and he almost didn't make it, until a coworker, Rich from Arizona with a knack for growing plans, took notice.
That fall, he rode shotgun all the way back to Texas, passed the winter in a sunny window and return kept me and my roommates in pesto. Though I'm still working through forgiving the one that butchered his leaves for a dish he had picked up the recipe for on a vacation to the Italian country side.
I repotted him only once, into the biggest pot I could find at Home Depot. Pulled him up straight by the stem - his roots had consumed the soil beneath him until there was nothing but Junior top to bottom. I had to loosen him up for the new pot, tearing at his tightly bound coils. They made a ripping sound not unlike tearing knotted hair from a brush. 
I tried not to let on how much I would miss him when I passed him into the hands of a friend that January. She had volunteered to watch him while I spent a spring chasing stale dreams in Sao Paulo.
He was just a stick in a bright clay orange pot when I returned in early June. It hurt to see, but I knew it wasn't him. His life was in his leaves, the way he'd perk up at sunshine, or crackle with joy in a much needed watering session, not a bare stick someone had thrust haphazardly into a pot. My friend claimed I should have known better than to entrust her with something living.  But I didn't blame her.  To me it was just proof of dependence - he'd withered without me and that was a burden I would have to carry.
Murder by abandonment.
It's spinach. It has to be. I put the basil seeds on the right side, and in an absent minded mix up left them buried unwatered.  I could just buy a new one. But I fear it would die of neglect - a guilty conscience can't love. No, I'm waiting for basil to sprout for me.  For it to push aside the soil, pulled up by the clouded rays of early spring sun, and blossom: forgiveness.

Mar 4, 2012

Farmer's Market Quiche!


I picked up some strange ingredients at the farmer's market today.  Purple-ish kale, some big "onion" octupi, and a pair of japanese turnips.  Called Katsu, perhaps?  Normally, I'd throw everything into the frying pan and sauté it , but it's Saturday, which means I can eat cheese and eggs!  (NYE 2012 resolution: vegan M-F makes weekends extra special).  So I decided to bite the pastry bullet and go for a quiche.

Quchetacular!

Kale
Japanese Turnip
Octopus Onion
Recipe (roughly):
Pastry:
1.5 c flour
1/2 stick butter
4 egg yolks
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of salt
dash of dried mustard (if you have it; I didn't)
1-3 tsp water

Heat oven to 425 F (or so)

Put flour in a large bowl.  With your hand, create a small well in the center of it.
Add the 1/2 stick butter, yolks, cayenne pepper, salt, mustard.  Save the 4 egg whites for the quiche innards.  With your hands, mash together the butter, egg yolks and spices (it works better if you leave the butter out for a few minutes before using so that it's soft.  Though not too soft: the pastry will be flakier with colder butter.)  It should resemble a crumbly powder at this point. Add 1 tsp of water (or better yet, milk or heavy cream if you have it), until the dough can be formed into a ball.  Turn out onto a flat surface and roll/pound with your hands (rolling pins are a luxury and I was fresh out of empty wine bottles) until it's a big circle that will roughly fit inside of your pie tin.  Mine was super thick at this point, about 1/2 an inch.

Fork the dough shell all over, then place in the oven.  Set the timer for five minutes, check that it's not puffing up too much in the middle (if so, push it back down), then set the timer for another five.  I forgot to set the timer for the second five, so when the kitchen started smelling like pastry I freaked and pulled it out -- perfectly done!  Set aside while you finish the quiche innards.

Quiche Innards:
1 japanese turnip
2/3 a kale bunch (about 1 1/2 to 2 c of chopped kale)
1 octopus onion
1 tbs olive oil
4 egg whites
2 whole eggs
a rind of hard cheese (eg: parmesean, romano, or in my case, hard provolone)

Wash and chop everything.  For the kale, this means cutting out the stems, and chopping.  For the turnip, peel (or slice off) the outer layer, and chop into small, 1/4"chunks.  For the onion, cut off the white bulb at the bottom and chop finely.  Chop the green octopus legs separately and set them aside until later.

Heat a skillet with olive oil on medium, toss in turnip and onion bulb.  Cook for 3 - 4 minutes.  Add kale, cook for another 2 - 3.  Season with spices of your choice, I did a bit of cumin and a lot of ginger.

Turn sautéd veggies into a big bowl.  Add egg whites, 1 egg (beaten, or beat it inside the batter), and 1/2 of the chopped green onion hair.  Pour into shell.  It should fit exactly, cuz you're a boss like that.  Since we used egg whites and I wanted my quiche to come out yellow, I took an extra egg, beat it and poured it on top.  Finally, grate 1/2 cup to 1 c of hard cheese on top, for a cheesey crust.

Instructions say to bake for 340F for 40 minutes.  I did it for 20 min at 435F, then the last 20 minutes at 335F.  I have a theory that temperature only really matters as you get closer to being "done". Feel free to prove me wrong at your own risk.  As always, do what you're the most comfortable with.

Cool, slice, enjoy!


Pastry success!


Mar 2, 2012

Bolo de queijo -- c. 2007

Cleaning up an old computer to get ready for VM save, I found my 2007 Brazilian Cheese Cake Recipe.  I'm moving it here to free up disk space.

Receita por Bolo de Queijo

Crust:
- 1 ½ xícara biscoito *crumbs*
- 75 g manteiga
- 2 tablespoons açúcar
- um pouco sal

Filling:
- 6 150g cream cheese
- 1 ¼ xícara açúcar
- ¾ xícara requeijo cremoso
- 6 ovos grandes, *lightly beaten*
- 2 tablespoons baunilha (liquido)
- 1 teaspoon laranja *zest*
- 1 teaspoon *lemon zest*

Topping:
- ¼ xícara requeijo cremoso
- ¾ xícara açúcar
- 1 tablespoon baunilha (liquido) ou canela

Fogão: 162° C

Crust: 
Melt manteiga.  Brush some in pan.  Crush biscoitos.  Mix rest of manteiga e açúcar e sal e biscoitos.  Press in pan, bake til golden (~10 min).  Wrap the bottom of the cheesecake pan in aluminum.  Place pan in a roasting pan

Filling:
Beat cream cheese.  Add açúcar.  Beat until fluffy.  Add requeijo cremoso.  Beat.  Add eggs.  Beat.  Add vanilla & zests.  Beat.  Pour into crust.  Boil water, pour an inch or two into outer roasting pan (the aluminum foil you wrapped around the bottom *should* keep the cake from getting wet).  Put in oven.  Bake 1 hora 10 min.

Topping:
Mix all ingredients together.  Spread over cheesecake and cook 5 more minutes.

Remove cheesecake pan from roasting pan.  Release the spring and run a knife around the cake and cool to room temperature.

Cover, refrigerate for 8 horas. 

Feb 25, 2012

Ski Tripping


Driving up into the Colorado mountains, it's the first time in a good while that I'm sitting in the backseat of a full car.  It's started to snow,  just white specks flurrying past the Camry's windows.  Lonely weather, would be silence broken by the Shania Twain on the mix tape and the high drive moan of a down-shifting engine.

The acrid aftertaste from the after-lunch espresso lingers at the back of my throat.  Staring at sheer rock face, interspersed between the grit encrusted sides of transport trucks and tankers, I can taste your cigarette kisses with every caffeinated exhale.

The snow outside thickens.  Counter-traffic turns on their brights, lighting the way towards our destination, a guiding light in twos and fours.  I worry about the tires as the road texture changes - the once solid parallel tracks slowly being obscured by white film.

Part of being out of control is the loss of responsibility.  Your options as a backseat driver are, therefore, limited.  I choose to rule over the window, and commandeer the floor for my shoes and bag, my dominion of warmth and observation established at a variable 6,000ft.  We float behind a snow plow, a sanctuary of traction on the increasingly slick road.  He pulls off as we glide into the Eisenhauer tunnel, sliding from one side of the continent to the next.  The blizzard left behind as we ascend farther into mountains, the road ahead obscured by a soft white haze.

You said you were heading up to Colorado this weekend, and I wonder if your ears popped, too.  

We're stopping soon.  First to the ski fitting, then pick up the keys to our condo, our three day home.  

I want to keep driving, reining backseat worry free, mountain queen.

Jan 8, 2012

Everyday food harrassment

Everyday Food, the Martha Stewart magazine, is harrassing me. I haven't renewed my subscription for the coming year. Their way of dealing with this unfortunate fact is to send me childish and insulting veiled threats in the form of an "invoice".
Forget friendly reminders to renew, or cute you're "missing out letters". Instead they've resorted to scare tactics, threats and Bullying. If you dont pay we'll be forced to cancel your subscription for the coming year! And ... And take you off our preferred customers list. This is only the second such letter I've received; I'm sure theyre saving the heavy artillery for a third letter: where I'm summarily removed from the best friends forever list and they want their other half of their heart charm back.
Everyday Food - just drop it. Bullying went out of fashion after the braces came off. And really, you were never that cool. I just feel bad for all the people that are actually threatened by their bs. Time to take this to the better business bureau?
But don't just take it from me. Check out their letter for yourself.

blank canvas

this canvas is blank. does that mean it's time for me to start afresh? that's one of the side effects of blank canvas -- it brings...