Author Archives: bob

My little office toys

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Today I got a birthday present from a coworker. It’s a cute little Don Quixote SpongeBob Squarepants plastic toy from Burger King. He goes well with my other office toy; a stuffed Taco Bell dog. I put the little Don on top of the dog so he’s riding it. I think it’s a funny looking combination, and it’s way too easy to draw deep meaning from it. It makes perfect sense that SpongeBob is riding the dog because it fits the Don Quixote theme perfectly. Then there’s something to be said about my Burger King toy riding my Taco Bell toy. If Wendy’s made a windmill, I’d be able to complete my bizarre scene.

Making a great dinner

Posted by bob in Cooking - (Comments Off)

Last night I made a decent dinner. Decent may be an understatement, but I’ll let you decide. Wild sockeye salmon in garlic butter, sauteed mushrooms (also in garlic butter), asparagus, a baked red potato, diced tomatoes in a spicy vinaigrette, and accompanied by sourdough french bread and chai tea. It was actually to my benefit this time to have a small kitchen because I was cooking so fast that having pieces further apart would have given me more trouble. I even had my timing correct so that all of the dishes were ready at roughly the same time, and believe me, knowing when to start the water boiling so that it’ll be boiling 3 minutes before the salmon is done is as much an art as it is a science. The neat thing was that I was able to do all the prep work as I was cooking, so from start to finish was just about 15 minutes.

Sometimes quick dinners turn out very well. The other night I combined the two ingredients in my fridge that were not condiments. My cod and celery combination actually turned out to be a spectacular dish. Sometimes I make a horrible mistake; do not ruin salmon with barbeque sauce. But those are opportunities to learn.

If there’s one thing I learned from Iron Chef, it’s that ingredients are the building blocks with which gustatory art is created, and creativity and willingness to match ingredients, coupled with a foundation of knowledge about the indredient and what it can and cannot do, are an extremely important set of skills in cooking. I didn’t learn to cook from Iron Chef. Who uses white truffles or foie gras regularly anyway? No, their knowledge of exotic ingredients is useless to me. What I learned is how to use timing, how to use smells, how to think about the ingredients, and how to come up with creative solutions for new dishes.

That last one wasn’t fair

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As an inaugural post, that one was not very good. I apologize for the wanton recklessness with my thoughts, but frankly, I had just eaten and it was on my mind. To you, dear reader, I amend a second post as a token of my sympathy for having to endure a dismal beginning.

So I begin again it traditional blog fashion; with a complaint about the opposite sex.

I am not often one to be discouraged easily, and after my concerted efforts recently, I could hardly say that my discouragement was easily attained. In short, the club scene is frustrating. First example:

I’m dancing away in one of the Tri-Cities 3 clubs, and see a very attractive girl dancing. For a while I do some reconnaissance, casually watching for a guy, or some other indication of unavailability. After determining the coast clear with a slight possibility of boyfriend in the corner, and after establishing myself by clearing a circle and breakdancing to Michael Jackson, I make my approach. I smile, she smiles back. I say hi, she says hi back. I say “are you here with someone?” and she proceeds to take a dull spoon from her front pocket and carve a hole in my intestines with the reply “yeah, my husband. I’m married” I congratulate her and continue to dance for a bit, trying to maintain my cool before I slink off to nurse my wound. Off to a bad start indeed.

The next attempt seemed easier. A woman standing against the wall nursing a drink looks extremely miserable. I approach and say hi, making friendly chatter, asking questions, avoiding awkward silences. Out of nowhere, she says “Just so you know, my boyfriend’s standing over there.” Well that’s wonderful. Strike two.

The third time took place over the course of two weeks. On the first week, I was approached while dancing, which was nice. We danced close briefly, then I moved away and danced alone in a great flourish of stupidity. After realizing my mistake I made an effort to recover and may have even ended up better off because of the mistake. We danced a few times, and she was fun. The next week she was there again. I approached her and said “hi, we danced earlier.” “I just got here” she said. “No, last week. You were wearing a salmon shirt and we danced a few times.” “Oh, yeah! Bob, right?” Yes, this was a good sign. And then… “I can’t dance with you anymore. I’m engaged now!”

Sad stories, yes, but not without their morals. 1.) ALWAYS look for a ring. 2.) You will get turned down. Pick yourself back up and move on. 3.) Clubs might not really be the right place to meet people.

There, dear reader. I hope I have sated your thirst for personal information.

Inaugural Post 2

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As I was making dinner tonight, I think I came across a marine biology discovery. Yes, it sounds odd, and your furrowed eyebrows are completely valid. Here’s what happened:

I was making pasta. Mostaccioli, to be exact. Essentially, it’s the same thing as penne, which is a fancy name for round-tube-pasta. This is an important detail. I got the water boiling, then poured my pasta in. I stirred it once or twice to make sure the pasta wasn’t going to stick on the bottom and burn. Then I left for a while. When I returned, the pasta were making an effort to align themselves vertically. They didn’t all express this alignment, but there were enough that one could easily notice a general trend. Perhaps this is not unusual of your round-tube-pastas like rigatone (they’re all round-tube-pastas, why can’t they all have the same name?), but it seemed odd to me.

Naturally I sought an explanation for this behavior. My first theory was that air bubbles sought to travel from the bottom of the pan to the top of the pan so the air bubbles would over time push the pasta into an arrangement that would facilitate the most efficient transfer. My second theory relied on the fact that the pasta were expanding and alignment was a way to optimize the space in a pot of limited size.

I think my first idea was best, though, and watching the little tubes wave about reminded me of a coral reef. Perhaps in reefs things align themselves according to flow of gas bubbles.

Perhaps I’m reading into it too much. Anyway, it was good, aligned or not.