Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ultimate weekend

Just a quick post to announce that I had a great weekend and arrived home in Davis safe and sound. I drove down to Santa Cruz early on Saturday morning and met up with the Caltech team. (Michelle, a former college teammate, invited me to play with them.) The fields were very dewy, so I played with damp feet all day long, and I'm going to lose one of my big toenails as a result. Gross. Besides that, it was a great day. Lovely weather, four fun games (I scored the winning "universe" point of our last game!), and great teammates. Nice Italian dinner, followed by dessert at an ice cream & cookie parlor. We only played two games today, which was about all I had energy for. We finished around one, and I got back to Davis around 4:30. I ate (a lot) and went for a walk with Scott, which was a good loosening up of the muscles after the drive but made me realize how tired my legs are. Looking forward to a movie tonight and a quieter day tomorrow.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Recent recipes

We've been cooking some good things this week that I wanted to report on.

On Monday night, we had Peter and Amy over to play games. (We just bought a card game called "Gloom" and a board game called "Save Doctor Lucky," and Peter and Amy are game buffs - good guinea pigs for new games.) For dinner, we served wheat berry-stuffed winter squash. We overcooked the squash a little, and it dried out, but it's a good recipe. We marinated some asparagus and roasted it, and used the leftover marinade to fry up some tofu. I also baked the fourth loaf of the 5-minute bread. The dough had started to ferment a little bit, we think, but it ended up having a really wonderful flavor. I'm going to start letting my bread dough "age" more often. We had the last of the rhubarb crunch for dessert - it was a big hit.

Yesterday for lunch, we used the first of our Easter eggs and made Mark Bittman's shrimp deviled eggs - delicious! There was a lot of yolk mixture, so we had some of it in the egg whites and the rest on toast. Lovely.

This morning, I invented an oatmeal pudding. We like our steel-cut oats in the morning, but they tend to leave us feeling hungry after a few hours. I cooked a half cup of oats according to package directions (next time I'll use less water though) and then added two eggs and ¾ cup of milk (mixed before added to the pot). It's still too early to call, but hopefully the added protein and fat will help the oatmeal stick to our ribs a little better! It definitely tasted good.

Tonight, if I'm lucky, Scott will make the mole he's been talking about for months... we shall see!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Watch TV tonight!

Tonight's the re-airing of "Down the Rabbit Hole," the CSI: NY episode that takes place in Second Life, that the Electric Sheep helped create and that launched the virtual experience project that I've been working on for the past 9 months.

It's on at 10 pm ET/PT. (9 pm in MN.) Watch it! It's fun!
The CSIs are called to the garment district and arrive to find a beautiful Jane Doe in punked-out plastic hair and S&M couture with a bullet in her head. After running her picture through the databases, the team gets a hit on an unlikely source: It turns out the victim's real-life picture is a match to a popular Avatar in Second Life. In order to track down her killer, the CSIs must create their own Avatars and descend into Second Life's "grid" where they are lead on a wild ride. While collecting virtual evidence and concrete evidence in the real world they ultimately discover they're after a contract killer who has a hit on a congressman and time is running out.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter weekend

Scott is risen - risen from the darkness of finals week! Hooray! It was a really tough quarter for everyone, so there was much rejoicing on Saturday evening when their last exam was finally over. We sat outside at Delta of Venus, enjoying the warm evening and DST light as much as the beer. Scott and I left relatively early, got a Mediterranean bite to eat and then went to the Mondavi Center for a show - our second this week!

We saw the Regina Carter Jazz Quintet, and they were phenomenal. Regina Carter is a jazz violinist whose music I first heard in Rome - my modern dance teacher used her in class, and I burned a copy of the CD, Rhythms of the Heart. It's been one of my favorite albums ever since, so I was excited to get to see her live. My favorite piece was the third one, where Carter worked a simple childhood melody in to a beautiful, playful, emotional, rich composition. Her solos moved from classical arpeggios to fiddle riffs to throaty jazz moans... and somehow it was seamless. Those genres are not so separate as I thought they were. And I loved how she could blend her violin's voice into the clarinet's - surprising and beautiful.

We had a relaxed, very low-key Easter. Scott and I went for a walk in the morning. He went to school (to meet with the professor he's TA-ing for to talk about grading the exam - technically, he's not completely done with finals yet), and I baked a rhubarb crunch, from my mom's tried-and-true Cooking in Minnesota recipe. I found rhubarb at the produce stand on Saturday morning and was thrilled. Rhubarb crunch is tied with (Roman) pizza for being my favorite food in the world. Scott and I rendezvoused at Kelly's for a 2 pm brunch, rhubarb in hand. We had a great afternoon there, with a fun mix of people and lots of excellent buttery, sugary food.

Other fun stuff this weekend...
On Friday, I went climbing with Lisa - my first time since February! It felt great, and I'm excited to go with Scott sometime this week.

Saturday morning, I played some ultimate and then went to Yoko's house to play the Bach Double with her! (Watch the video below to hear how it sounds when 20 world-class violinists play it at Carnegie Hall.) I haven't played with another person for years, so this felt wonderful. And the Bach Double is *such* a great piece. I'd forgotten how wonderful it is.

Saturday afternoon, I got coffee (and mango mousse cake!) at Ciocolat with Aslahan, who gave me some advice on what to see and eat when I'm in Turkey. (She's from Ankara and attended the same university that Margaret's studying at this year.) I'm definitely excited to go.

And now, without further ado, the first movement of Bach's Concerto for Two Violins:

This morning, Scott and I went for a walk through the Arboretum. I stopped to take a picture of the poppies, which have been blooming all week and are really gorgeous. Scott got bored waiting for me and laid down for a nap.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What Mark taught me tonight

Tonight's dinner was an attempt to use the veggies that had been languishing in our fridge the longest - four radishes and a head of cauliflower - along with some tofu for protein. Three white things that don't usually go together.

I used Mr. Bittman's "Braised and Glazed" recipe for the radishes, and they turned out really well! I had no idea cooked radishes were any good. Turns out, they're great - Scott says he likes them much better than raw radishes. They're mellow and a little bit sweet. (Quick instructions: bring a pound of radishes, a cup of stock and a little butter to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes until the radishes are soft, and then uncover to let the liquid evaporate.) I added two carrots and some turmeric, to give it some color.

I sautéed the cauliflower with an onion, and then sautéed the tofu with some wine (so it turned purple - more nice color!). I mixed it all together and served it over buckwheat noodles. Not exactly a masterpiece, but darn good given the random starting elements.

Still feeling the effects of this cold, so I think I'll go to bed early tonight and start on Birds Without Wings. Poor Scott will be up late studying - his last two exams are tomorrow and Saturday.

Birthday #27: A feast for the senses

Yesterday was my birthday, and despite having a black eye, and despite having a little cold, I had a wonderful day.

Scott's parents sent me a gift certificate to a spa, so I scheduled a deep tissue massage. My legs certainly needed and appreciated it!

Sight & Sound
Scott took me to see Peru Negro, and they were brilliant. (See the previous post for a video of them.) Powerful music, exquisite dancing. I went to an African dance class last week - it was extremely difficult, and it gave me a much deeper appreciation for the dancing I saw last night.

Scent & Taste
Scott gave me Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, so for lunch today I opened it to the "Greens and beans" section and filled our dutch oven with lentils, dandelion greens and fennel. I think this cookbook will be even better for us than How to Cook Everything, given the amount and variety of vegetables & grains we eat. It also has some really helpful charts and indexes. Mark Bittman is so smart. I'm really excited to investigate this book some more!

Brain (the miscellanea)
(1) My parents sent me Birds Without Wings, a historical novel, which is apparently the book to read before traveling to Turkey. (Speaking of which, I'll be in Istanbul exactly one month from today!) I've been reading Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul: Memories and the City, but it hasn't exactly grabbed me, so I'm happy to have this to sink my teeth into!
(2) I'm really excited that I'm 27 years old - that's three cubed. I haven't been a perfect cube since I was eight, and I won't be a perfect cube again until I'm 64!
(3) (I think alcohol fits better under the "Brain" category than "Scent and Taste.") Lisa and her roommate Gina took me out for a birthday drink after the show last night - a dirty martini and cheesy garlic toast was definitely the best way to end the night.

Many thanks to everyone who called to wish me a happy birthday, and for all the cards and emails and Facebook posts. I felt like a very special birthday girl.

Monday, March 17, 2008

On this week's agenda...

Here's a video of Peru Negro. They're coming to the Mondavi Center on Wednesday, and Scott and I have tickets!

I hope my black eye is gone by then. I got hit with a frisbee on Saturday, on the eye socket bone right below my left eye. It is ugly!!

Believe me, it looks worse in person. What I think is weird is that even though I got hit below my eye, my upper eyelid is swelling and bruising too.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ides of March Sushi

I was talking to my parents tonight, and my dad asked if we've cooked anything interesting lately. Turns out, we had a very interesting lunch! Our fridge was full of fresh greens from this morning's farmers market, and our cupboards have fun things from a recent trip to the Asian market. Here's the recipe (really, a record of the improvisation, since I had no idea what the end product would be):

1. Make brown rice. (I used 1 cup dry rice.)
2. Peel, chop and microwave beets until they're soft. (I used 8 oz., about a cup.)
3. Roughly chop beet greens (4 cups?) and carrot greens (1/2 cup?) - if you have nice, fresh, feathery carrot greens, that is.
4. Put the beets, greens and a little water and soy sauce in a pot on the stove. Cover and simmer until the greens get soft. Stir occasionally.
5. Meanwhile, wash your carrots (10 very small ones - about the size of Sharpies) and a big radish, and cut the radish into slivers.
6. Puree the beet/greens mixture in your food processor.
7. when the rice is done, mix it with the puree, and add a healthy splash of rice vinegar.
8. Make sushi rolls with the rice mixture. Put a carrot and some radish slivers in the center of each one.

The result is a very festive lunch! Carrots for the Easter Bunny, and green rice for St. Patrick. (Note: our beets were very pale pink. The rice would probably turn fuchsia if you used regular dark beets.) I would have taken a picture, but we ate them up too quickly.

I also made our tried-and-true chocolate silk pie.
1. Melt a bag of chocolate chips.
2. Blend the chocolate chips with a package of silken tofu.
3. Pour it into a pre-baked crust. (I used a graham cracker crust.)
4. Let it set in the fridge or freezer for a while.

Next time I make this, I'm going to add some cayenne, and maybe some chopped almonds. Tonight, I just sprinkled a little cinnamon on top, which was also pretty tasty.

(A little early for Easter, but as long as I'm talking about chocolate and the Easter Bunny, I may as well include it!)

Art Experiment Slideshow

Here's a much better display of the art experiment. I'm really happy with it! It's about 6' x 6', so it really fills the wall. For those of you who remember Margaret's collage mural at Chez Limon in DC, this one is not nearly as large, but I'd say it has a similar "presence" in our office.

(Note: If you're viewing this in a blog reader, click through to the original post to see the slideshow - it's a YouTube video.)

Here's the piece that my sister put up on her wall:

Friday, March 14, 2008

I love my sister!

This week I got a package in the mail from my sister! The envelope read, "NOTE: ART EXPERIMENT ENCLOSED"

Here's what I found inside:

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Serendipity, and other cool stuff

This afternoon, I drove to San Francisco, found a parking spot, and then went in search of wireless internet. I had just ordered a macchiato at Starbucks when I realized my wallet was back in the car. I retrieved it and, again on the prowl for wireless, stumbled upon a different Starbucks, closer to the car. I had just ordered my macchiato when I looked up and saw my friend Nia! There must be hundreds of Starbucks in this city, and I managed to visit the one where Nia works, when she's working!

Happily, I'll get to spend more time with her tomorrow - she and Mavis both have the day off, so I get to do "brunchy things" with them.

Tonight, I'm attending an orientation about becoming a workshop leader for a non-profit called About-Face. From their website:
Our Education into Action media literacy program teaches young women the skills they need to truly understand what they’re seeing to lessen the effects of harmful media messages. About-Face workshops are sassy, edgy, fun, creative and interactive. We go to schools and other organizations to teach young women how to dissect all types of media including magazine advertisements, music videos, television shows and so on.
It sounds like a really cool program and a great organization overall, so I'm excited to learn more about it!

And, to update you on last night's adventures, I successfully spun fire! I wouldn't go so far as to say I danced with fire, but I survived without getting burned! My shirt was actually flaming for a few seconds, but the spotter came over and smothered the flames with a towel, and I happily went on spinning. Some observations:
* Poi is like belly dancing. Even beginners look good doing it.
* It's more exciting in person than on YouTube.
* While you're spinning, it's harder to see than you'd think. I don't think I could see anything besides the balls of fire flying around my head.
* It's also harder to hear than you'd think. The lighted poi make really cool whooshing noises when you spin them, and it's pretty loud when you're right in the middle of them.
* Being on fire is not necessarily as scary as you'd think. I still think being burned at the stake would be pretty much the worst way to die, but last night the only thing burning was white gas (camping fuel) which burns at a relatively low temperature. My shirt shows no evidence of having hosted flames - it does smell a little like gas though.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Experimental College

Last quarter, I took three courses through the Experimental College at UC Davis: belly dancing, yoga and poi (aka fire spinning or fire dancing). They were fantastic, so I'm excited about signing up for spring quarter classes. Here's one that caught my eye and that I'll definitely be enrolling in:
Kitty Kindergarden
In this course, cat owners will gain a better understanding of the types of early experiences that kittens need in order become sociable with both guests as well as other household pets. They will learn techniques that can be used on both kittens and adult cats to teach felines to accept handling, get along with people and other pets, urinate only in their litter box, to play nicely instead of scratching and biting their human housemates, and to keep entertained playing with appropriate objects rather than destroying the house. ... Kittens for this hands-on class will be provided; how-ever, owners can also bring kittens that are under the age of 14 weeks and have received at least 2 vaccinations. (Emphasis mine.)

Now, I'm off to the last poi class of the quarter - the one where we actually get to light our poi on fire! Don't worry Mom, there's a lengthy fire-safety lecture included, and we've been instructed to wear hats "if you like your hair."

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Hard to believe a whole week's gone by since I last blogged... here's the recap.

On Wednesday, I got some bad news, so I made Scott go on a date with me after my Poi class. He was very supportive, and we shared a terrific Belgian beer (Maredsous 10, if you know your Belgians), and I felt much better.

On Thursday, we went to Aslihan's to celebrate her birthday. I brought fresh bread, which was quickly eaten. Kelly brought chocolate cake and someone else brought port. A terrific evening.

On Friday, I went climbing with Scott and felt great - strong and graceful.

On Saturday, we played pick-up in the wind, worked from a coffee shop, and went to Jay's birthday celebration - MORE chocolate cake and Belgian beer!

Today was quiet. We worked from Mishka's in the morning, played Scrabble during lunch, took an afternoon nap, and cooked some very tasty acorn noodles for dinner.