Thursday, February 28, 2008


I recently became the not-so-proud owner of a jinxed car.

Well, perhaps jinxed isn't really the term for it. Falling apart might be a little more appropriate. I probably should have anticipated this situation when the car was given to me because my family didn't want to fix said car that I was borrowing from them, but I thought it could hold it together until June. In June, R's car will be paid off and we will be able to get ourselves a reliable second car. This, however, was not to be. The little dash light shaped like a battery turned on this morning. I continued driving around, hoping that this wasn't an urgent problem. On my was home, the lights in my car dimmed, the airbag light turned on, and I could get up to speed after stopping.

I swear, if the repairs are more than the car is worth, I'm just going to scrap the dang thing!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Growing Challenge #4: Germination!

Huston, we're got sprouts.

Being a first-time planter of seeds, I spent the whole week fretting over my little egg carton full of seeds. They seem a little dry. Was I supposed to water them? Didn't the coconut fiber keep them wet? Am I watering them too much? Did I kill the seeds by over or under watering them? Luckily for my sanity, one of the pear tomatoes sprouted this morning. They've continued popping up through the day, and now almost all of the tomatoes are peeking out of their nests. No peppers yet, but apparently they can take up to two weeks to germinate.

Now that the plants are growing, I've got to figure out how to keep them that way. I spent all morning trying to figure out where I could find a spot for the plants that is sunny and, more importantly, cat free. Lucky for me, I remembered that my school has several grow lamps that we used last fall for our bottle biomes that currently aren't being used. I don't think they will mind if I borrow them for a month or so to grow plants in my garage (which is delightfully free of cats).

As it has been raining here in San Diego, I had also been worrying about the seeds I had planted outside. Having played an inordinate amount of Harvest Moon, I've gotten the impression that you need to time planting properly when it comes to rain. If you plant when its raining (in the game), the seeds wash away. I was worried that all the rain we've been getting had washed away or drowned my seeds (not that we've gotten enough rain to wash away anything). After seeing the sprouted tomatoes, I rolled up my pajama cuffs, got out my umbrella, and went to check on my seeds. No cucumber sprouts yet, but two little radishes. I should probably plant another row of radishes, but I think I'll wait until tomorrow. I'd hate to have the seeds wash away. I think the harvest elves would be ashamed of me.

image credit

Friday, February 22, 2008

More things to do

Thanks, Mighty Goods. I'd probably never have thought of getting a guide book for a place where I live, but it might not be a bad idea. I would like to know about locally owned eating and shopping establishments (I'm well versed in the non-locally owned ones, thanks). There are books available for Seattle, or any number of big U.S. cities, for that matter. (How did Rhode Island get its own book?) Hey, Alynda, there is also one for London!

Thursday, February 21, 2008


As a homework assignment, I had to watch Super Size Me. Now, I'm not a person who eats at McDonald's, but that was still a pretty disturbing movie, perhaps even more so because I sat down to watch it with a pint of Ben and Jerry's.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Recipe Review: Baja Fried-Fish Tacos

"Why don't we pick a fish taco up from Rubio's to compare?"
"Umm, no."
"We could just get one and use it as a model."
"I don't think so."

Although I hadn't really heard of them until I came to San Diego, fish tacos are probably the world's greatest food. Flaky, battered white fish, some sort of creamy sauce, cabbage, and a corn tortilla... Heaven. Although it is certainly more convenient to get them from the local fast food establishment (plus it's hard to beat $1 fish taco Tuesdays), this recipe is really good for a Friday or Saturday night. (Though you might want to use a little less onion in the sauce. The breath!)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Recipe Review: Chipotle-Potato Pot Pie

I now see why R's parents treasure their pot pie dishes-- finding a set of appropriately sized vessels is hard! Upon deciding to try out this recipe, R and I went to Target to find some dishes. I could just envision what I wanted: white, oven-proof, 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep with a circumference roughly the size of both hands making a circle. A meal-sized pot pie dish.

Well, we got to Target and all we could find was clear glass dishes. We decided to go across the street to Bed, Bath & Beyond to check out their selection. They had a dish that could have worked, but it was part of a set! Speaking with one of the assistants, I got the impression that he is asked about dishes of that size quite frequently. You'd think the store would get the hint and stock them individually.

In any case, we wound up settling for utilizing assorted dishes around the house so that we could finally enjoy some delicious pot pie. This was my first opportunity to to use Cook 1.0, a cookbook I have had for a while and filled with Post-It notes. I'm glad I finally put it to use, as it is a really interesting cookbook. The author focuses on a few multipurpose recipes, providing numerous options (and suggesting others in the back) using the same techniques. The pot pie section contains 6 different recipes, each laid out in a formulaic fashion with 3 steps: Start pie filling; add main ingredient, liquid + seasoning; pour into bowl + bake. I now feel much more empowered in the field of pot pies.

Chipotle-Potato Pot Pie
From Cook 1.0
(We added some chorizo and chopped chipotle peppers)

Start pie filling:
Preheat oven to 400* F.
To a large pot over medium-high heat, add:
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 c. diced potatoes (1/4-in. dice)
  • 1/2 t salt
Saute, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Add main ingredient, liquid + seasoning:
Stir in:
  • 1 T adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chiles
  • 1 c. corn kernels
In a small bowl, combine:
  • 2 c cold milk
  • 2 T. cornstarch
Stir into the potato mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook until the filling starts to thicken. Remove from the heat and season with more salt to taste

Pour into bowl + bake:
Pour the filling into small ovenproof bowls, each three quarters full. Cut a piece of puff pastry dough to fit each bowl, with some overlap. Place the dough on the bowls and fold over the edges. Brush the dough lightly with egg white for a golden crust. Poke a few holes in the top with a fork to allow steam to escape. Bake until the crusts are tall and deeply golden, about 15 minutes.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Growing Challenge #3: Planting

Thanks to the extra long weekend (4 days!), I was able to get all sorts of things done in the garden this weekend. I pulled weeds and grasses, added compost and mulch, and planted the cucumber and radish seeds. I also got a few more herbs while I was as Home Depot getting the compost (it's hard to resist fresh herbs). While I was digging in the soil, I noticed two little volunteer baby cacti. I've got a soft spot in my heart for succulents, so I replanted them so that they wouldn't wither and die in the shadow of the vegetables that will be there soon.

Seeing as Home Depot didn't have any plastic trays for starting seeds that didn't already have the seed starters in them, I was forced to improvise. R had the brilliant suggestion of using an egg carton, which, as it turns out, is exactly the right size. I've got some plastic wrap in there so that the egg carton doesn't soak through.


I should be planning for school and working on homework, so of course I spent all yesterday entering recipes into TasteBook. I'm really enthralled with the idea of having a professional looking cookbook instead of a binder full of scraps of paper. I'm not sure if I should be sad that, after all this time, I only have 30 recipes that I like enough to make again. I suppose that doesn't include the little things that I can throw together and are too simple (or impromptu) to require a recipe, so I should be so hard on myself.

R is laughing at me right now

So, just this last week I bought some reusable grocery bags. Nice, roomy, logo-free bags. They've got two sets of handles, little and big, so that you can carry them in your hand or on your shoulder. Seeing as I've always been good about disposing my own trash, I don't think I've contributed much to the whole urban tumbleweed glut of plastic bags out there, but still. I'm going to be responsible for the carrying of my own purchases from now on. Self sufficient!

I, of course, forgot to bring them shopping today.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Recipe Review: Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

I actually made this recipe a few weeks ago, but I've been slacking off and neglected to post a review until now. This delay should not be construed as dislike of the recipe, but rather an artifact of my being really busy and not wanting to type up a recipe. I know, I'm a slacker.

In truth, the soup was delicious and easy to make. I didn't eat it fresh (though I'm sure it would have been delicious at that point), but instead ate it for lunch a couple of days later. It was delicious. I'm curious as to how well it might hold up in the freezer. I'd love to make a big batch and just have it at the ready for whenever I might need it.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
From Everyday Food
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/3 c wild-rice blend
1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add carrots, celery, and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, 3-5 minutes.

2. Add broth, chicken, rice, and 1 1/2 c water to pan. Bring to boil; reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook until chicken in opaque throughout, 6-8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, shred with two forks.

3. Meanwhile, continue to cook soup, uncovered, until rice is tender, 6-8 minutes. Return chicken to pan; simmer until heated through, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. (To store, place in airtight containers, and refrigerate up to 2 days; reheat over medium, about 10 minutes.)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Foiled again

Does anyone out there know anything about LCD projectors? The one in one of the classrooms I use keeps turning itself off after about a half hour into movies. We've replaced the bulb, but it just keeps doing it. It also doesn't do that when I'm just showing PowerPoint presentations, and the other projectors don't do it at all, so I know there is something up with this one. It's just so frustrating to plan on watching a movie, only to have the projector shut itself off and refuse to turn back on.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's science!

Today and yesterday my biology classes have been extracting DNA from their own cheek cells. They seem to enjoy it and seem fascinated when they are looking at a cloud of their own DNA. Suddenly, science is cool, at least for a little while.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Now the planning begins in earnest

R and I talked with the caterer today. At least, we thought we were there to just talk about the food. It turns out that the university catering basically does all the wedding planning as well. Very helpful, but a little overwhelming.

Our contact is a woman who has organized many a wedding, leaving her much wiser in the ways of "setup" and "flow" than R and myself are. We've decided to take her recommendation and make a seating chart, even though that was one thing I really didn't want to do. I suppose it makes sense, but it seems like torture. I make enough seating charts!

I'm thinking we might go for this invitation in ore. I had been thinking green, but the green offered is a little too yellow. The ceremony is probably going to be in earthy blues and greens, so I suppose I could go with either without a problem (as an interesting aside, I really recommend this article on tetrachromats).

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I can't resist a clever meme

Rachel's just looked so cool that I had to join in.

The CD Cover Meme has only three rules: (1) The first article title on this random Wikipedia page is the name of your band, (2) the last four words of the very last quote on this random quote page is the title of your album, and (3) the third picture here, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

Inversija is a cargo airline from Latvia. My quote: "Painting: The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic," by Ambrose Bierce. The incredibly cute squirrel picture by Tomi Tapio.

The Growing Challenge #2: They're here!

My seeds and coconut fiber pellets arrived in the mail this week. Next weekend I have a four day weekend (normally schools have two three day weekends in a row, so our school decided to combine them into one grand holiday) so I'll start my planting then. The task for the week? Information gathering.

Two of the six varieties of seeds are to be planted directly into the soil. The other four need to be started inside, hence the coconut fiber pellets. I was reading the back of the package, however, and found some instructions I don't yet know what to do about. Apparently they need to be kept at 80* F with bottom heat. Am I supposed to get some sort of heating pad? Could I just make a little greenhouse with clear plastic and bring the trays in at night (not that it gets particularly cold here)? I don't know. Time to hit the books. If you know more about this than I do, please feel free to give me advice. I need it.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Post-Disneyland thoughts

1. Fastpass tickets can be used at any time after their printed return time, not just for the stated one hour window. This makes much more useful than previously thought, as they are no longer an appointment to be worried over, but instead give you several free trips to a shorter line.

2. Girls, what is up with all the screaming? Having contests to see who can be the most annoying will lead to your death, probably by some disgruntled tourist. By the way, the girl who screamed like a fire alarm ("Eee! Eee! Eee!") definitely won.

3. Always bring painkillers in your bag.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Student sympathy

"Miss A, you just don't get no respect."

I could only shake my head in agreement that no, I wasn't. I think my exhaustion was palpable. The vice principal had just brought in a student from one of my other classes. She had cursed at me this morning in Spanish, but was claiming that she said "burra" rather than "puta." Luckily, the vice principal seemed more inclined to take my word over hers, particularly as she has been in his office quite frequently of late, so I didn't have to pull out my BCLAD to verify my knowledge of Spanish. This was after coaxing a student to give up the contraband Sharpie she had been chasing her friend with. She claimed it was a different pen, but the lines of black ink on both their faces betrayed the truth. Only after patiently detailing my desire to not call security, but that I would if I needed to search their stuff, did they finally hand over the pens.

On the upside, yet another one of my students was suspended today (that makes three, from a total of four classes that I teach). A reduction in their numbers can only help.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Growing Challenge #1: Buying seeds

When I first thought of growing plants from seed, my thoughts immediately turned to radishes. I don't know what it is about radishes these days, but I can't seem to get enough of them these days. I, of course, wanted more tomatoes, but I especially wanted to have more than one type of tomato this year. As nice as it is to have large tomatoes, my favorites are probably the little ones. Back in the day, my best friend and I would love to go graze her parents' grape tomatoes. They were so good that her dogs learned to steal tomatoes off the vine! She still sends me a care package of her family's tomatoes for my birthday, which is one of the best presents I can think of.

I also decided to forgo planting melons this summer. Last year I planted honeydew and watermelon, and in the end I only wound up with two individual-sized watermelons and several inedible honeydew. I think the space, and water, could be put to better use.

I also bought some coconut fiber pellets for starting the seeds, which seemed like a convenient and self-contained way for a noob to spout some seeds.

Here's the complete list of what I ordered:

Should be a tasty summer.

Recipe Review: Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

I'd been eying this recipe for creamy macaroni and cheese with rapini for a while now, but was never able to find any rapini in the grocery store. I finally decided to forge on bravely and do without, but I'm afraid that it might have impacted the recipe in the process. Although the sauce was rather tasty, the finished item just feel like it was missing something. Perhaps it didn't need to be cooked as long without the rapini, or else I just prefer a more saucy macaroni, but the recipe seemed a bit dry. Also, I think it has too much nutmeg without having veggies for balance. It seems like a good base, however, so I think I might experiment with it. Maybe with a little less nutmeg and a little pepper jack for spice, baked for a little less time, it might just be a winner.


I called the coordinator at the university and, thankfully, the hall is free the next weekend. She's going to be making up a contract and sending it to us tomorrow. I feel like a weight has lifted from my shoulders. Time to get on with the rest of the details, like food... and plants... and invitations... and dresses... and suits... and decorations...

Sunday, February 03, 2008

I'm such a joiner

Thanks to Heavy Petal, I've decided to join The Growing Challenge. Here is the challenge:

1. Grow one additional type of fruit or vegetable than you did last year, and grow it from seed.

2. Post about gardening once a week.

Although I haven't really grown anything from seed before (with the exception of rice during an activity in a social studies class), I've spent a lifetime drooling over seed catalogs. High time I tried it out myself!

In order to not go insane, I think I need to install a drip system. Luckily, I have two weeks off for spring break, so even though I will be spending some of my vacation up North visiting family and trying on a wedding dress, I should still have plenty of time to pimp out my garden. I'm so excited!

Baby got back

During the break for halftime, R's mom, a former seamstress, was kind enough to take my measurements for my wedding dress. I wrote them down, but before we left she did the hip one again, because she was sure it wasn't right.

"I never would have thought," she said. "You carry it rather well." Really, it's all in the butt. In the words of the famous Sir Mix-A-Lot, "36-24-36? Only if she's 5'3"."

Now I just need to wait until 7 to start calling parents again. Freaking Super Bowl! Oh, wait... Thanks to watching the video for Baby Got Back, it is 7 now. Great...

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Learning from one's elders

My grandparents are in town. Even though most of the time our discussion are about fairly abstract concepts (politics, the economy), they did choose to pass on one excellent nugget of parenting advice to the "potential mothers." When your toddler is throwing a tantrum (the fling-yourself-on-the-floor, fists and feet flailing type), what you need to do it to pick them up, place them in the shower, and turn the cold water on. After that, they tend not to do it again. My mom and her younger brother had the treatment once, but my older, more stubborn uncle had to get it twice (and was quite incensed, in his tiny way, that they threw him in with his shoes on). Definitely something to remember.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Well, crud

I got out of school today and checked my messages, only to discover that our wedding location was going to be busy on the day we had selected. Seeing as they told us they would know by February, and we were still first in line in December when I last checked, some university organization must have decided to slip in at the last minute and claim our spot. Unfortunately, when I called back the lady I needed to talk to had left 9 minutes previously, so I have to wait for Monday. Hopefully we'll be able to get the hall for the following weekend (I'll be sending R over to put down a deposit Monday morning as soon as I have called her), but, if not, it's going to be a pain in the ass. See, relatives, this is why I wasn't giving a certain date for the wedding. The date wasn't secure!