30 March 2007

Overheard today: "There are far too many socialists in this lab celebrating this César Chavez holiday." Said, I think, in response to half the workplace not turning up for work today. One hopes it was a bit tongue-in-cheek...

28 March 2007

What's with all that cricket; is this still a food blog?

I wouldn't trust Lloyd Grossman as far as I could chuck him, but I guess he merely adds his face to some the apparently ubiquitous sauce bottles that have sparked some lively debate about the cooking habits of the British. OK, I exaggerate. That sparked an article on the four staple meals the British public resorts to by Zoe Williams, whose witty writing we enjoy in our household.

Now under the impression that my little household must also be stuck in the same rut, I felt quite determined to log our weekly diet. Like the state of Schrodinger's cat, the very act of observing one's diet can change one's eating habits. Under normal circumstances, that is. Like all serendipitous findings in the laboratory, our unique circumstances of not having much control over what time we get home, and hence when we eat our single cooked meal of the day, allowed me to log our weeks eating blind since I completely forgot that was what I was going to do anyway. (And you naive folk out there really think I know what's going on when I'm doing my experiments... I ALWAYS do them blind.)

So for what it's worth, and to qualify this as a sometime-food blog, in all its ugliness, this is what D+P ate this week for dinner (breakfast is almost always cereal unless I've baked bread, and lunch is always something leftover or from the canteen or me starving hoping to get finished earlier and thus eat a nicer dinner. ha!):

Sunday: BBQ (friends invited over to christen the pit's new home). Prawns smoked on cedar planks, garnished with garlic and lime. Grilled aubergines: large globes sliced and grilled, then layered up again with mozarella inbetween and oven-baked; chinese eggplant and mediterranean aubergine just plain grilled. Swordfish and mahi-mahi marinated in soya sauce and ginger, cubed and skewered up with a cherry tomatoes and lime slices. Fillet of wild-caught salmon smoked on an alder plank with lemon juice, lemon thyme (from garden) and salt and pepper. Couscous. Sour mango salad (Corrine Trang recipe).

Monday: Bad start to week. D in lab waiting for a 10pm experiment. Leftover breaded chicken from canteen lunch. Yoghurt. Mango juice. P, on the other hand, conveniently FORGOT to pack BBQ leftovers for lunch, and hence dined like a f-ing king while I starved in the lab. Dagnabit.

Tuesday: More BBQ leftovers. And lots of green salad. Dang, I should BBQ more often. Cook for an army, eat for three days...

Wednesday: Chicken wings baked in five spice powder. Steamed broccoli with oyster sauce. Steamed Thai rice.

Thursday: Roasted beef ribs in a pseudo-Galbi sauce. You know, the roasted beef ribs was another serendipitous finding. We left the ribs covered in foil in the oven at 300degF (dammit, I'm even using degF without thinking now; I'm screwed for returning to metric EU), went for a walk with the dog, stayed out longer than we planned (1.5h), and found the ribs cooked to tender perfection. Normally, I guess we'd have them bloodier, but the slow cook helped the tougher fatty and tendonous bits breakdown somewhat.

Friday: Thai takeaway. And no, I'm not proud of this one. In fact, we both acknowledged that we could have easily cooked something from the store cupboard even though the fridge was more or less empty and we left the lab after 9pm. In fact, we could even have had some of the frozen psuedo-siew mai (Japanese style with edamame), or thawed out some squid to fry in Szechuan pepper, or just had couscous and olives. But no, we thought we were desperate enough for takeaway. We didn't even enjoy it. Dog's tummy was bad all week, and cleaning up indoor **** really puts one off a curry. Dangitalltoheck.

Saturday: Post-ballet dinner at En Sushi on Santa Monica Blvd + Barry. Sushi (traditional): hamachi (yellowtail), raw scallops, octopus, snow crab. Agedashi tofu. Veggie tempura. Spinach+enoki cold appetizer. We'd driven all the way back from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion along Olympic in hope that we'd see some all-night Korean BBQ restau with lights blazing and a neon "Open" sign. Which we did. Only to find after parking that they were closed. Even Zankou Chicken on Sepulveda was closed. But En Sushi's kitchen doesn't shut till "late" on Saturdays. 11.30pm on this particular Saturday. It's one of these places we've avoided because it looks too trendy for us. The cheap and cheerful yakitori place half a block down is more our style when eating out in our neighbourhood. Or when we're feeling fancy, SaSaYa, the small-dish (can't remember the Japanese name) is our fave. It's not to knock En Sushi really. The food was great, the service ever so accommodating despite the late hour. It's the fact that every time I've crossed Barry, either to get to the DVD store or the other less trendy restaus, I very nearly get run over by some fancy SUV or noisy sports car leaving the valet parking for En Sushi. I have little charity for such folk, and avoid their company as much as possible. Which has till now deprived us of the very competent sushi chef at En.

Sunday: Dinner at the ex-neighbours' in thanks for looking after their dog while they were away. Some fabby Indian cooking. Rice+cardamon+sultanas. Chickpeas+spinach. Aloo ghobi. Eggplant curry. And some lovely double-fried sweets from the Sweet Shop (name?) on Pico + Fairfax.

So. In a blind study of the eating habits of some ex-UK inhabitants, we find no evidence for any spag bol (we probably eat that once or twice a year), tikka masala (D is not keen on sweet curries, Brummie or otherwise), chilli con carne (put off that during undergrad years; now have irrational hate of kidney beans) or bangers and mash (have to admit to eating that monthly in Edinburgh thanks to the venison and boar stalls at the fortnightly Farmers' Market in the West End). I think our rut comes more from not trying many new recipes or styles, rather than having staple set meals. Our cultural influences, while many, have grown stale. Sadly, without my library of cookbooks and their ideas or not reading the broadsheets' lifestyle sections or not having the time to browse Flickr quite so much, we've lost the will to try out more complicated dishes or experiment with the ones we know and love.

So, in the spirit Schrody's cat, or rather, in tribute to the spirit of Schrody's cat, we will attempt to change the diet by the very act of observation, thus leading to experimentation.

25 March 2007

Joffrey @DCP

We've been to the ballet.

18 March 2007

Dichotomy of Japan

Compare and contrast

Japan apology for blossom error

Japan reiterates sex slave stance

I like aspects of the Japanese culture and race; there is much to be admired about the way the Japanese people can be focused, the manner in which they preserve their cultural heritage, and have pride in their nation. But sometimes, I wonder if the outward politeness masks a deep arrogance and feeling of superiority over their Asian neighbours. The sterotyped image I have of the average Japanese person is typified in the first story: absolute apology for any minor error. But the second issue reminds us that WWII was really not so long ago, and that there still exists tension between the nations that the militant Japan of old sought to dominate and this allegedly new generation of Japanese. My parents were born shortly after the war, leaving me two generations from the Japanese occupation of SE Asia. I have no bone to pick with the Japan of now, but if they persist in trying to rewrite the events of 60 years ago, perhaps we should start noting signs of increasing nationalism instead of worrying so much about some Bush administration-invented axis of evil.

17 March 2007

Go on, you Patricks

It's been a mixed day for the Irish, hasn't it? 4 points off a 6-Nations victory (merde!). Denied yet again, as far as I can tell... But they're celebrating in Jamaica now. What an upset that was. Good on Ireland, but what on earth happened to the batting order of Pakistan? I feel for them. Their reception at home will not be good. But these things happen in ODI. What an interesting World Cup this could end up being.

16 March 2007

house demolition

WTH? I thought I'd just modify a few cosmetic things on my blog and Blogger made me choose a new template. Oh hell. Does this mean another week of working out how to change things to how I like it? Dammitalltoheck. I guess things have changed since I last did any blogging. Darn dotcoms and their love-in takeovers. Dammitalltoheck.

Ms Lazy-pants here will be leaving this place looking like crap until she finishes her own version of March Madness. But she musn't complain. That new "labels" function looks like fun... Even a little... WordPress?

the world is going to hell in a handbasket

What is the world coming to? Global warming, illegal wars, economic and polar icecap meltdown, road rage, the 405, and to top it all, Blue Peter fakes a phone-in! We're doomed, I tell you. Doomed!!!

15 March 2007

what world cup?

As far as most sporting games are concerned, I tend to lend my support to my adopted home of Scotland, even though they suck at football, cricket, rugby... You name it, they suck at it. On the world stage, when Scotland don't qualify for whatever World Cup is on that year, I generally cheer on all the other British and Irish teams. So, that will be England and Ireland for the footie, and Wales for the cricket. Ha. Not being a true Scot, I don't have an automatic, born-with hate of the Sassenachs. And they're usually entertaining enough to warrant my interest anyway.

So, it's with no compunction whatsoever that when the Ashes are played, unlike the Scottish tabloids, I give my misplaced yet wholehearted support to the underdogs: the English. And like every other cricket fan who is not pro-Aussie, I suffer. Mind you, the suffering is less great when you can't even watch the damn tests. A number on a website is a lot easier to quickly erase from your memory.

It gets complicated when both teams end up in the same championship. But they tend to be separated into different groups. And Scotland sucking at everything means the teams usually don't meet (apart from the odd game or so... but it's been a couple of decades. at least). So this time round, I was trying to work out how or when the Auld Enemies would pit bowlers and batsmen against each other.

Then this happens. If you're 203 short in an ODI, even if you are playing possibly the best side of the tournament, maybe it's time to start saying things like "It's the taking part that matters" or "At least our fielders can catch the ruddy ball". But I'm proud of Scotland. They took on a giant and didn't flinch. (OK, they might have. I dunno. I don't get to watch any cricket in this god-forsaken country! Not even the ruddy highlights!!) From the blow-by-blow account, courtesy of the Beeb, it looks like underdogs made a valiant attempt to limit the run rate, but were out-classed. And in typical Scotland fashion (at least in rugby.nobody mention the 6-nations please. it hurts), gave too much at the beginning and suffered at the very end.

It may make more sense for someone from the Asia-Pacific region to cheer on the best of the local talent, especially when one can choose from giants like the All Blacks or even the Aussies. But once you've lived and supported in Scotland, it seems so traitorous to go glory-seeking in Australasia. Here's to many more decades of cheering wildly whenever Scotland score a collective century.

12 March 2007

11 March 2007

Banana and blueberry muffins

Banana and blueberry muffins

I'm always envious of those Martha Stewart types who seem to have it all together. You know, nice home, nice garden, nice kids, good food on the table, nice table settings. And I've always suspected that while Martha Stewart herself has a huge operational team to make that happen for her, there really exist real women and men out there who live the life she has trademarked. Such people can get up in the morning, put the coffee on, make the bed, groom themselves, get breakfast ready, get the kids ready, yadda-yadda-ya... And that's just within one hour in the morning.

On the best of mornings (and only weekend ones at that), I just about manage to get out of bed some time after 1000h, stumble to the shower, waste copious amounts of water to get my eyes open, and demand breakfast very loudly until P gets up and makes it. But today, for some odd and unknown reason, I made muffins. Banana and blueberry ones at that. I've never made muffins. Not successfully anyway. I can make the most intricate of damn sachertortes, but hand me a muffin tin and crap comes out. Figuratively. Please, what do you think I am? Cack-handed?

Recipe courtesy of Epicurious.com. Not having a Martha Stewart team of organised people to ensure all reagents were in place prior to baking, I was about 2 bananas short of a full cup and completely lacking oat bran. But I had frozen blueberries. That counts for something. Substituting oat bran with some weird New-Age seven-grain hot breakfast mix seemed to work, with the pleasant side-effect of crunchy, nutty bits without the sat fats of nuts. But substituting a shortfall of bananas with milk, vanilla and maple syrup results in an overly moist muffin lacking structure.

No matter. P liked it. While not a success, it wasn't a complete failure.

Eww. I've just looked at this post on Firefox and my muffins look like crap. They looked OK on iPhoto and Safari. What's up with that?

Cross posted on akatsukieats.