Thursday, July 30, 2009

On regrettable spousal portraits

Brett Molony has this picture of his wife on his desk that looks like a promo shot for an attorney's office. She's in her business suit in front of a splotchy brown background, smiling pragmatically. There is no sexiness or fun to it. It's very traditional.

What would make me want a portrait like that on my desk? I think the charm would have to be in the endearing fact that it was made for me. She probably had a bad day that day, and hated the pictures, but paid for them, and I convinced her she was beautiful, as always, and she reluctantly let me frame it, although she wishes I had a better picture of her, but has not ever gotten around to getting new ones made... Not convincing enough.

How does that man think about that picture? Maybe he doesn't see a need to have a sexy or fun photo of his wife... thinks she is beautiful in her formality... loves her for being so modest and traditional. Is proud of how simple and normal the photo is. Photo was part of a set they got for a discount through the church for the church yearbook. No, church photos should be the whole family, not individuals. Maybe they cut a deal w/the photographer so they could have pictures of each other. No, the discount was through Walmart, or something. He likes the blandness of it. Thinks it's sexy that underneath her austere finish sits the body of a tigress? Thinks her face is so beautiful, her body is no longer what it was in her 20s, so her face is her sexiest part now anyway... Was the same photo she used for her office's web page. She's an attorney. No, a paralegal.

She has a corresponding bland, suited portrait of him on her desk at work. No doubt they gaze at each other through them, blankly, thinking of what to cook for dinner.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I think i'm going to be sick

I just found out here that The Fiery Furnaces just played in Chicago on both the 10th and 11th. I can't believe this. I have been watching their website like a hawk for months for tour dates. I don't think those dates ever showed up there.

Wow, great promotion, guys. Now I feel like a dumbass for sending their promoter an email last week asking to bring them back to St. Louis.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Clay pot rice "Oriental style"

Today I have managed to recreate one of the best Chinese dishes I've ever had.

It was originally described at the bottom of this blog entry, and ever since I had it, and Luke later commented that you can't get greens like that around here, the memory of it grew in my head to lustful proportions, then legend, then yesterday, at Jay's Market, my eyes caught sight of the one key ingredient that would make it possible for me to create... the sausage!

At the hotel, the waiter told me that the dish was one of the chef's favorites, and that the sausage is a special Cantonese sausage. I had the foresight to record the exact name of the dish, shown here, but...

(bāo zǐ fàn) simply translates to "little pot food." The subtitle is " 鸡肉, 腊肠, 蔬菜 香菇," which, in pinyin, is written "pèi jīròu, làcháng, shūcài hé xiānggū," and translates to "pèi chicken, sausage, vegetables and shiitake mushroom." (That word pèi is not lending itself to translation.)

OK, that translation just took me like 2 hours, but I am now much more proficient with the Yellowbridge handwriting recognition tool. And it's almost dark out now. Awesome.

Where was I?? I had to buy two kinds of Chinese sausage at Jay's because the first one I bought was not quite right. The stuff pictured on the right is the right kind. It has the right amount of fat and sweetness, which are the primary characteristics of Chinese sausage, in my experience.

I also tracked down the baby bok choy, some wild mushrooms, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sherry, and jasmine rice, all pictured here. The only ingredients not pictured here are the chicken thighs.

So, to make this amazing dish (without the clay pot, unfortunately, they were out):
  1. Slice one piece of the sausage on the bias (diagonally) and render the fat from it in a pot.
  2. Remove the sausage (squeeze out any remaining oil so the pan is nicely coated) and put in two chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks.
  3. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sherry. (This might be slightly better if you actually only added some soy sauce, browned the chicken, removed it, deglazed with the sherry, and then added the chicken and oyster sauce).
  4. Set one sausage link gently on top of the chicken, so that as the chicken simmers, the sausage link will steam. Cover the pot, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. While that's cooking, slice up and render another link of sausage in a sautee pan.
  6. While that's rendering, clean up 4 pieces of the baby bok choy and a heaping helping of the mushrooms (chop the bottoms off).
  7. Once rendered, remove the sausage and sautee the baby bok choy and mushrooms until they lilt. The mushrooms will release a bunch of water.
  8. Remove the chicken and sausage from the heat, remove the sausage and cut diagonally into small pieces. Discard the pieces of sausage that you used to render the grease from. We won't be eating those. I haven't figured out a use for them yet other than dog snacks.
  9. Plate it up by making a base layer of rice, then a layer of mushrooms, then the other three ingredients on top.
  10. Enjoy.

Wild Kingdom in my backyard

I have not mowed my back yard all summer. There, I said it. The neighbors can't really see it, except for the ones in the two-story duplex across the alley, but whatever. It's so tall now I actually can't mow it. The mower would just seize up. I'm going to have to get a scythe or something to whack it down.

Meanwhile, there are some fascinating things going on back there. I spied a small, but menacing mantis perched on my banister, surveying the grounds...

And some... frankly cartoonish yellow bugs attached to a vine subtly subjugating the porch.

They're seemingly useless animals, all rising and falling in unison at times. A soft breeze will cause them perk up, then relax, altogether, breathe in breathe out, toiling away on the vine,

I can't believe how surreal they look. I've identified them as Milkweed Aphids, or Oleander Aphids, Aphis nerii. I accidentally brushed up against some when I was looking for the dog, and some stuck to my pants. They were easily flicked off.

I recently bought a copy of Peterson's Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America, and was able to identify several edible plants growing in abundance back there, including the Sow Thistle and Lady's Thumb (aka Red Leg). I will not be eating them.

The mantis started giving me a dirty look. The females of this species have some extremely disturbing habits. Not that I think this little bug could hurt me, but I'm not sure how freaked out I would be if it suddenly jumped onto my face or something. I should probably back away slowly.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

New Fiery Furnaces track!

Free download, lyrics, and video:

Album soon to follow... And I REALLY hope those titles are not suggesting something about the longevity of the band.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Shelf life of frozen shrimp

Yahoo Answers... OK idea.

You can only answer the questions for four days, then they are closed, but what if you come up with a better answer a year later? Too bad! That's stupid!

I have had this bag of shrimp in my freezer for about 12 months. Google "frozen shrimp expire". Find Yahoo Answers question "Frozen shrimp... is it still good to eat?" All of the answers are uneducated guesses.

Here is a real answer, presented by a group of scientists who investigated that very question:

Storage quality and shelf life of frozen shrimp

"The shelf life of frozen shrimp determined by sensory evaluation was 2.1 months at 0°C, 5.3 months at -5°C and 6.8 months at -10°C, respectively."


Too bad I can't post the answer to Yahoo Answers, but at least I have my little blog, where I can ventilate such important information. Now I just have to figure out how long a month is in metric...

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