"I suppose there are people who can pass up free guacamole, but they're either allergic to avocado or too joyless to live."— Frank Bruni

Friday, November 25, 2011

thank you come again

Cast of Vices Corner Store Leather Bag
(photo cred: TENOVERSIX)

I've had this picture saved in a draft post for months but never posted it. These are clever leather totes inscribed to look like plastic shopping bags that were available here, but I don't see them on the site anymore.

(...still worth posting because they're just so clever)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

thanksgiving chemistry

Last Thursday, I sat in on an American Chemical Society webinar on the chemistry of Thanksgiving cooking. It featured Harold McGee, a contributing columnist for the Times. It was one of the more interesting ACS webinars I've signed up for, and I thought I'd share with you some of the tips Dr. McGee mentioned:

  • When cooking poultry, you're dealing with different types of muscle between the breast and leg meat, so you want a temperature differential between the two to achieve optimal results. For legs, you want an internal temperature of about 160-165, and for breast meat you want it not much higher than 150 degrees for it to be still moist (though food safety people would say 165 would be safest). Dismembering the bird and cooking the parts at different temperatures at different times would be the way to go to get the best results, but if you are intent on serving the bird in its entirety, then McGee recommends placing ice packs on the breast when defrosting the bird. This helps achieve an initial temperature differential. Clever! (do this several hours before cooking.)
  • McGee mentioned that brining keeps the meat tender, but it tends to also make it overly salty. It's a matter of personal preference, though brining is especially good if you plan on deep frying the bird.
  • As for defrosting the bird, he recommends defrosting it naked (i.e. no plastic wrap, foil, etc) in the fridge.
  • To stuff or not to stuff? Epidemiologists would suggest not stuffing the bird for food safety reasons, and it turns out McGee's answer agrees, though he just says for optimal cooking of the meat, just don't stuff the bird.
  • He recommends not getting a bird more than 12 pounds. 
  • Why let the bird rest before carving? This is a no-brainer, but he provides an answer that elaborates on moisture loss and retainment on the micro level: when you cook meat, proteins are denatured. Moisture is squeezed out as the temperature rises, but can be reabsorbed when the temperature drops, so let the bird cool down a little, allowing some of the juices to be reabsorbed into the meat.
  • Don't baste the turkey when it's done cooking. Basting the bird while it's resting just makes the skin less crispy.
  • McGee recommends not using digital, 'instaread' thermometers, but rather, use those that have detachable, thin probes. The thinner the probe, the better.
  • As for gravy, McGee discussed a little on the thickeners. Corn starch vs flour? Well corn starch is a pure starch that gives you a cloudy gravy, as opposed to the opaque gravy flour gives you (no mention on if the two taste different). If you're feeling techy, you can try using xanthan gum, which doesn't change the flavor of the juices and thickens more effectively, meaning you can use less of it to achieve the same viscosity. McGee mentions that he tends not to thicken meat juices because think gravies tend to just sit on top of the meat, whereas unadulterated juices seep into the meat.

...and in case you want to watch/listen to the entire webinar yourself, have at it:


:=:=:=:=:=:=:=:   H A P P Y    T H A N K S G I V I N G!!  :=:=:=:=:=:=:=:

Monday, November 21, 2011

news IQ

I'm proud to announce that I only missed one question on the Pew Research Center's news IQ quiz (the question about how many troops have been killed in Afghanistan). Take the quiz here and read about the results in this report. For my loyal readers, these questions may be no-brainers, which they should be, but as you'll see in the report, there's a large percentage of the public that can't answer the questions correctly. Since I express myself best using arrows and incomplete sentences, here are my thoughts regarding these findings:

bad economic situation -> people are pissed and tired -> people either have no work, working many low-paying jobs, working long hours to keep what job they have, or just have lots going on -> people have no time, interest, patience for what's going on outside of their personal lives, not a priority -> people become less informed -> people vote according to their anger, misinformation, frustration -> bad, corrupt people with their own agendas who exploited the frustration of their constituents are elected into office -> our country and world turn into poo

Saturday, November 19, 2011

two birds with ...

If anyone noticed, I've been behind on my posts this week. I have no real reason, but with increasing my running mileage to 20 miles a week, an increased workload at well, work, and general vitamin-D-deficiency-brought-on-by-the-shorter-days blahs, I can only offer excuses.

So to make up for missed Toothsome Tuesday and List Wednesday posts, here's a list of food-related items.
  • The Pepin/Richard lunch has been cancelled. I was sad to have received a phone call from Citronelle informing me that the event was cancelled. Naturally, I went online to find out why. It turns out Jacques Pepin had to get a hip replacement. Good enough reason, but I'm sad nonetheless.
  • BVBC met up! I'm way behind on writing up a post-brunch review but it was great to see everyone, and I'll work on getting the post up soon.
  • I'd like to say that I'm behind on my Toothsome Tuesday posts because I'm too busy reading my new issue of Lucky Peach, but that's not even true (though I wish it were). Anyway, Issue 2 has arrived (!) and I'm excited to find time to read it. I've even sealed in the next year's worth of issues and splurged on a subscription (that was discounted 40%) that starts with Issue 3. Goodbye, newsstand price!
  • Komi's sister restaurant, the Thai joint named Little Serow, has opened at last and I'm curious to try it, but am reluctant to go there before experiencing the heralded cuisine of Komi first. Not sure why I'm treating it as if I was watching a book-based movie before reading the book, or watching a sequel before watching its predecessor, but I feel like Komi should come first. Although from a cost perspective, it may be good to start with the lower price point of Little Serow and work my way up...like the Jeffersons.
  • I'd like to go to the new Dominique Ansel bakery in NY. They have kouign-amanns. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

meep

(photo cred: Mulberry)

...what might be the most absurdly adorable $425 sweater. 

longbridge park

Our community recently unveiled a new park! Longbridge Park is an excellent use of taxpayer dollars and is a model for redevelopment and eco-friendly design. This use of land is remarkable; the park lies in an area that formerly resembled a movie murder scene (see comment here).

(photo cred: Arlington Cty Newsroom)

This is a picture of the half-mile-long esplanade, with soccer fields (there are 3 total) to the left.  You can read more about the park on the county's sites or on a community news site. There will also be an indoor recreation center (that includes an Olympic-sized pool) that will be built nearby in the second construction phase. My only gripe would be that the park could have gone with one less field and instead added a tennis court or two (or three). Otherwise, thanks fellow tax payers! Thanks Arlington County! And thanks Marymount University (for funding the construction of one of the fields)!

Update: I have another gripe - there aren't enough trash cans on the esplanade. Other than that, thanks Arlington County voters for giving me a safe, well-let place to run at night!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Almost everyone needs health care at some point, and if uninsured people are unable to pay steep medical bills they will get charity care that shifts the costs to others, whose insurance premiums go up to cover the cost of the free riders. There is no denying the health care market is interconnected and that individuals’ decisions to purchase insurance — or not — affects the whole system...The Supreme Court ought to show judicial restraint, adhere to precedent and uphold the constitutionality of health care reform."

NYTimes Editorial, Nov 14 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

classy

List Wednesday 4 days late - sorry! Since this is already late, let's just cut to the chase: I'm not one to be super stuck to gender roles nor am I the most feminine woman, but should a female evolve into a woman with a certain degree of femininity, I believe there are things that one can adopt that would make one just a little more lovely, or at least can help one avoid committing things that make people like me say "that's not cute."

== 7 WAYS TO BE A LITTLE LOVELIER OR TO KEEP ME FROM SAYING 'THAT'S NOT CUTE (N.I.A.P.O.) ==

  1. Use a handkerchief (this is actually something I wish everyone would do - it could save some resources/trees in tissue production).
  2. Cover your mouth when you yawn (this also can actually be a rule for everyone).
  3. Wear a slip! (especially with skirts or dresses made of stretchy or thin fabrics)
  4. Wear the correct bra for the garment you are wearing. No one wants to see bra straps, even when they're cute.
  5. Don't burp out loud (at least not outside of the home - hmmm...also can be applied to men).
  6. Don't wear flip flops to work (this also can apply to men who dine in restaurants - no one wants to see your feet when they eat).
  7. Just don't be a bitch (or for men, a douche).
...perhaps this List should be renamed to 7 WAYS MEN AND/OR WOMEN CAN BE EASIER ON THE SENSES.  So I guess femininity is not the issue at hand, but rather refinement and civility. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

the great terrible towel


video

Unbeknownst that such a fabulous commercial would be made of such clips, we shot the above video on our trip to Beijing in May of this year (that's G, in case you couldn't tell).

taylor tomasi hill

I learned about Taylor Tomasi Hill, the former accessories director at Marie Claire, a while back from reading various fashion blogs that I now peruse frequently. I couldn't wear a lot of what she wears, but her ability to combine fabrics, colors, textures and components of variable femininity is so fascinating. All of these interesting components coupled with an effortlessness that she also somehow achieves makes her an intriguing sight. 

Anyway, so I was really surprised to learn this morning that she's left Marie Claire and is now the artistic director at Moda Operandi, the online trunk show site that I joined just to look at how ridiculously expensive runway looks can be. I usually just delete the emails I get from Moda Operandi and don't foresee ever purchasing anything off the site, but maybe now I'll pay more visits to it knowing that it is influenced by TTH's interesting fashion sense.


(photo creds: RedCarpet-FashionAwards.com and here)

love

Yikes! Sorry I haven't posted a List for this week yet, but since it's Friday, let's talk fashion, but not in the sartorial sense of the word. Let's talk about the fashion in which you live your life. What's with the deepness, you ask? Well I'm crying, and crying makes you deep if you really mean the tears. I just read this article and the way in which the Morales' lived/live their lives is 1) worth mentioning 2) something to aspire to 3) just truly inspiring and 4) a wake up call to the rest of us who are such babies. Enjoy the article!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

point. point. no point.

Two wins for Democrats. Ohio voted against a bill that limited unions' rights. Yes, they slammed a Republican-led effort that poo-pooed public workers' right to bargain. Point!
Also good news - Mississippi voters get credit for having common sense. They smashed an anti-abortion measure that was just nonsense. Point!

It seems, however, that voters seemed to reject all laws that seem to go "too far" to some, including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's mandate for individual health coverage. Ohio voters approved a measure that exempted Ohioans from the mandate. No point.

r.i.p.

'Nutting but love' for you Heavy D. 

 Rapper Heavy D performs at the BET Hip Hop Awards 2011 on October 1 in Atlanta.
(photo cred: Getty images from CNN)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

love me some crack pie

Last night's episode of Conan gave me a dose of bittersweet food pleasure - Christina Tosi, Milk Bar's pastry chef, was on it to promote her new cookbook. She and Conan made cereal milk (which sounds a little silly considering you get cereal milk every time you eat cereal, not having to actually 'make it'), and cereal milk-based alcoholic milkshakes. I let out a BIG SIGH - now the rest of the country is in on the deliciousness that is Milk Bar. The rest of the country is in on CRACK PIE! Little did I know that the recipe for crack pie has been public knowledge for quite some time now.  So I stand corrected, with a whisk and spatula, ready to try my hand at baking my own crack pie, because at $87.22 (pie+shipping), shipping a pie home for Christmas is out of the question.

(photo cred: Kirk McKoy/LATimes)

Monday, November 07, 2011

nextpedition

What kind of traveler are you?


American Express has a new travel program that, based on the type of traveler you are, generates a destination and itinerary that's unknown to you until a few days before your trip starts - it's called Nextpedition and I read about it through Foodspotting. It all starts with you taking a traveler profile quiz to determine what kind of traveler you are. This is what I got:

Blisstorian

...and here's the drescription: "Blisstorian. You wander far. So far, east becomes west. Searching the ancient temples to nourish both mind and body. Your restless spirit meanders like the Great Wall of China across the seas and continents. Drawing strength from the mystical incantations of the multi-limbed deities who watch over you on your journeys. If only they could carry your bags."

My runner-up, which I thought would have been my actual type was

which is described as this: "Tasteblazer. You sit atop the food chain like it’s your throne. You’re a wandering foodie royalty. Taking full advantage of your position to nosh on the finest fare in all the land. Any land. For, you constantly crave the new. And, won’t be sated ‘til you’ve sucked the marrow out of the very bones of life itself."

...so let me know if you are the same type of traveler! Maybe we can plan our Nextpeditions together!
(Who am I kidding?...I have no vacation time or money for this!)

(I received no compensation from AmEx for this post. I really just want to know what kind of traveler you are.)

Friday, November 04, 2011

simple street style



(photo creds: Streetpeeper and Streetpeeper)

...just some excellent shots I found this week on Streetpeeper, taken on obviously warmer days. I love how simple the first girl's outfit is, but also love the unique combination of her skirt's fabric and pleats. The skirt is complimented perfectly with the cut and length of her top.

The second shot has a perfect backdrop and the brightness and sheeny-ness of her dress makes her stand out from the background in a way that teeters on her being out of place, yet it works so well. Her stance is so relaxed and those shoes - I am loving them (although I think I would have worn brown shoes with that dress as opposed to black ones). Again, the greatness of this shot and outfit lies in the simplicity and timelessness of it all.

the shits. literally.


As a follow up to yesterday's post about raw milk advocates, I'd like to share this email I received today. It's a ProMED email reporting thousands in Utah have been sickened by Salmonella acquired from eating unpasteurized queso fresco. What. now. 

Thursday, November 03, 2011

mylo xyloto

It's widely known, as one can gather from reading some of the Amazon reviews for their latest album, that being a Coldplay fan is fodder for bullies.  I'm not so sure why - some people are annoyed at their self-deprecation, but I find it kind of endearing. I actually think it's pretty cliche to bag on Coldplay. Whatever. As a fan since 2000, I remember hearing 'Yellow' and thinking that the song was catchy, didn't sound like any other band I had heard before, and felt it fit really well into my fascination for all things British spawned from my brother moving to Sheffield for a year.

Then I remember the first time I saw the Yellow video...I was in a Roman Diesel store killing time while my dad went to look for a phone? some change? I forget. I just remember him telling me to just stay there until he came back, as we were stranded after riding a public bus, getting fined for not following some boarding protocol and having to give the cop all the money we had, then forced to de-board in a neighborhood with which we weren't familiar (we were looking for a particular church). Anyway, the Diesel store had televisions on which the video played.

The point of this story? There isn't one really, but I remember thinking Coldplay had a sound all their own, and having listened to Mylo Xyloto (which dropped last week), thought their unique sound came through.


There were some songs that sounded like the group experimented with some new sounds and instruments (somewhat like the new instrument sounds in Viva La Vida), but there were others that possessed some melodies that were characteristically, classically Coldplay. There's one acoustic song on Mylo Xyloto that sounds like early Coldplay, while the first full-length song sounds a lot like Phoenix (I actually thought they collaborated with Phoenix on the album, which, if they did, would be pretty awesome). The collaboration with Rihanna, 'Princess of China,' (the only song title I can recall) was not my favorite. I don't feel Rihanna added anything to the song but instead just made it an additional selling point...and I guess play the female part in a song with 'princess' in the title.  The 'oooohhh' part of the chorus reminds me of the song in this commercial:


Sure I think Chris Martin's vocals can sound whiney at times and yes, there may be some sort of formula they follow in every album, but I did enjoy this latest release, and will continue to unabashedly be a fan (though I remember feeling they sold out when I had to settle for bad seats in a too-huge show at Hollywood Bowl once).

(...and that my friends may be the worst album review you've ever read - you'll notice I didn't use any song titles except one! Similar to how I talk about wine, however, I realize I may not know what I'm talking about when it comes to music, but I know what I like.)

raw milk

Shoot - I forgot to write about this a couple days ago. I received this email from work:


These people are morons! Whatever - let them and their poor kids (who I'm guessing don't have a say of whether or not they want raw or pasteurized milk, which is more like a decision between getting sick and not) experience the excruciating GI symptoms associated with disease-causing pathogens including but not limited to E. coli, Salmonella, Campy, Listeria and Yersinia (yum!). I wouldn't be surprised if these are the same idiots who still think childhood vaccinations cause autism.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

sorry

Wednesday has arrived and due to everyday life, I am sorry to report that I am uninspired to provide you a List worthy of following last week's excellent List...but I'll try, so here's my 

==TOP 6 CURRENT ANNOYANCES==
  1. People who hail cabs from the wrong side of the street or wrong corner of an intersection.
  2. Congress holding completely irrelevant votes, wasting time and not approving the jobs bill.
  3. Bicyclists
  4. US Public Health Service recruitment staff
  5. Early sunset
  6. Bank of America not selling paper savings bonds months before the scheduled switch to online sales of bonds (January 1, 2012)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

中國菜

Sorry - no time to do a Toothsome Tuesday post, but let's go to China Bistro, just because there are few places in the DMV area that serve decent dumplings and I'm always open to trying new places.


A quick note of poopoo - Eater is having its first Chinese Food Week, which I think is dumb, and you will too if you read this. Please tell me what is there to explore in Chinatown? If they were as keen as they should be, they should mention that by Chinatown they mean Rockville, because everyone knows that's where the real stuff is (with the exception of a few yum cha houses in Silver Spring and Sichuan Pavilion on K St). And maybe it's just me, but I think it's pretty lame to get non-Chinese restaurants in the District to create dishes inspired by Chinese take-out because 1) Chinese take-out in the DC area is the worse and 2) it emphasizes the lack of actual decent Chinese food in the District.