Snow Blood and Coal
Saturday, August 30, 2003
Alright. A lot has happened. I've met a lot of cool people in the folklore department here, Sheila and Linda have come and gone, many good fun things. But I think that for now, I'll just talk about peach pie. When Sheila and Linda showed up, they brought with them two big baskets of peaches. Most of those, they left with us here. I don't know what to do with that many peaches. Sarah definitely can't eat them all. So tonight, I made a peach pie, and boy does it look good. I made a nice pie crust (this one held together) and cut up a bunch of peaches, then I mixed the peaches with sugar and spices and baked the whole thing. It looks gorgeous. My only hope is that the pectin in the peach juice causes it to set up a little bit and the pie gets a bit less watery. But that should happen as it cools, I figure, and if not, it's a good first try, and it'll taste good anyway. I've made lots of pie crust in my time, but this is my first pie from scratch. Maybe next week I'll try again if this doesn't come out perfect, but that still remains to be seen... Maybe tomorrow I'll post a picture of the pie if there's anything left to photograph :-D.
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
My mead is almost done fermenting (I figure that it has another week or two). I took a specific gravity today and it was 1.020, which means that it has almost dried out. It was still a bit sweet to the taste, but nothing like what it was a couple of weeks ago. Racking has also done it good, it seems. The CO2 bubbles that have been plaguing me, making it ever so effervescent, have cleared up, and it's almost still. What bubbles that are left are small, and are merely a side effect of continued fermentation. I figure that a couple of months aging in the carboy after the fermentation is complete will clear them right up. Aging is a necessity anyway, it seems, as the sedement does need to clear. The only problem that I see as of now is a very slight taste like acetone. This is a common side effect of the type of yeast that I am using, however, and the concensus online is that given a little bit of aging in the bottle, that taste should clear right up. So right now, I must say that I couldn't be happier with the way that this is going, and I look forward to having lots and lots of dry mead to give away for Christmas 2004.
Sunday, August 24, 2003
So yesterday, Max and Jen came into town and we all had a very nice dinner together. I made a timpano, which has become a dish that I am both good at making, and also a little bit bored of. I thought that I would make another one for Thanksgiving, but now I'm not so sure. I might do traditional Thanksgiving fare this year with the turkey and the cranburry sauce and the pie, or alternately, I might see if I can get some small game, both of the rodent and the fowl ilks, and roast them. I am extremely curious, I think, to do game hen or something along those lines, and maybe also rabbit. Rabbit would be impressive.
Speaking of thanksgiving, though, my parents are now talking about coming. Sarah's father has already said that he would be here, so that might be a little bit odd... I have a feeling that things will sort themselves out, though, so I can't say that I'm really all that worried.
But anyway, back to last night: I had a small problem getting the crust of the timpano to hold together because I ran out of white flour when I was making it and had to use semolina and wheat instead. But I ended up piecing it together in the dish like a torn pie crust, and it cooked just fine anyway. The crust was a little bit rustic for my taste, but none the worse for it, I think. After dinner, we all went to visit a friend of Jen's, and that was very cool. We hung out with she and her boyfriend for a while, and then he left and the remainder of us went to a bar called (I think) Upstairs to play darts. The bar was okay and I had a good time, but while I was there, I noticed another place called Uncle Festers which seemed far cooler. I asked Jen's friend about it, and she said that it was strange, and that "black trenchcoat people hang out there." Now I'm curious. I think that Sarah and I will go back some night. They have live music that doesn't sound half bad. Local bands, if Jen's friend is to be taken at her word.
But that's all I know. Today has been comprised of reading and resting, and in moments, I must go gather Sarah up from work. Really, I'm just biding my time until Linda and Sheila come in, though. They're coming on wednesday, and that will be fun. And after that, school starts. YAY!
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
Alright! A couple of things.
First, a few days ago, I racked my mead from the plastic fermenter to a glass carboy only to find that fermentation had stalled. Unquestionably, I was upset. But what to do? I decided that I would go to the brewing shop and get more yeast to pitch, but when I got there and talked to the girl behind the counter, she told me that before I do that, I should try some yeast energizer. Well it looked just like yeast nutrient, only yellow, but I figured, what the hell. So I got the energizer, added the recommended amount to the carboy, and off it went, fermenting again almost straight away. Apparently the energizer is just nutrient with added B vitamin, so I guess that the yeast lacked B vitamin... I figure that in a month or so, I'll add some oak and let it sit for another month in the carboy, then rack it to my other carboy to let it clear. It should be good, I think.
In other news, I'm about done working on the web site for Max's movie, Swordswallowers and Thin Men. I looked at a bunch of movie web sites as models, but really, they were all pretty unintuitive, though some were very pretty. This one is simpler than most of those, but I think that it's also more usable. All I have left to do really, is make a slideshow of shots from the movie, and then it should be about done. Have a look people...
Friday, August 15, 2003
Go me! I'm back in Bloomington! Yay!
Anyway, wednesday night, I went with a bunch of people to The Magic Castle in Hollywood for Ben's birthday, and it was pretty cool. I spent the day madly searching for clothes that I could wear there (they apparently have a dress code that is more strict than any of the really NICE restaurants in L.A.). I ended up not being able to find a jacket of the proper shoes, however, so I had to use the loaners at the Castle. Dinner was like eating Bar Mitzvah / Wedding food, and the main magic show sucked, but we saw two other magic shows that were a lot of fun, and it was nice to hang out with people, some of whom I hadn't seen or heard from in quite a while. On an interesting star sighting note, I saw David Schwimmer of Friend's fame there, as well as Lucy Liu. Apparently, they came separately, and it was just coincidence that they would both be there. Max told Jen that he had seen David Schwimmer, and her response was, "who is David Schwimmer?" Who is he indeed...
Anyway, thursday, I went to breakfast at Los Fuentes (had to have that lovely food one more time) and then packed and went to the airport. My luggage was x-rayed again, but this time at least, the metal detector didn't go off as I walked through. The flight was excruciatingly long, although uneventful, and it gave me a chance to read a bunch of A Game of Thrones, which is always a good thing. Wow! Such a good book...
Anyway, that's all I know. Now to make a Living Greyhawk character for tomorrow, and then to work on my paper (maybe probably most likely).
Saturday, August 09, 2003
Alright. I'm in L.A., and this makes me very happy. I got in yesterday morning, hung around, and then had dinner with Max's family and went to see a movie. We saw 28 Days Later, which is certainly the best movie about ravenous diseased zombies that I have ever seen. I loved the camerawork and the music, and the first half hour is brilliant. The rest of the movie is good, though not great, and the ending leaves a lot to be desired (either ending, in fact). So I got home around 1 a.m. last night and I was thinking about it, and it occured to me that this movie owes a lot to Apocalypse Now. It's a movie, after all, about a group of people who make a journey down a road (cement river?) through enemy territory in order to investigate a powerful group that may well turn out to be an ally, but eventually have to kill the leader of the group, who has gone mad with power or dispair or something. Okay, maybe it's not a perfect adaptation, but it's a similar idea, and it brings up some similar issues.
In other news, I think that on monday night, I'm going to make dinner for my parents and anybody who wants to come (there's going to be a lot of food). I've been thinking about what I'm going to do, and now I'm pretty sure that I've decided. I'm going to start with Prosciuto e Melone, possibly served with a bit of white wine. Then move on to a main course of brazed rosemary chicken, and zitti with my own variation on carbonarra sauce. I'll serve that with my homebrewed brown ale / mild. Finally, I'll have lemon sorbet with citron slices (if I can get citron) in individual mini pie crusts, served with a desert white wine like sweet viognier, or possibly a sweet mead if I can find an appropriate vintage. I think that this will be adiquately impressive, and quell my desire to cook for the rest of my time here in L.A. I should compile an ingredient list and go shopping sunday morning before I go to see The Producers. That way I can cut my melone and citron, make my crust, and cut my chicken up monday morning, leaving me only a little bit to do to actually put the whole thing together. I figure that the brazed chicken will take about an hour, so if I get it going around 5:30 and serve my first course around 6, I'll be golden. As far as desert goes, that'll be quick and simple if everything is prepared ahead of time, so I won't even worry about getting it together until the meal is done. I worry about meals like this, because it's not often that I get to put together a big spread, and my parents aren't huge eaters anyway, so if I want them to have some, I'd better do something really impressive. This isn't timpano, but I do think that this would fit the bill nicely.
Saturday, August 02, 2003
So good news people. My registration information and schedule of events in the week before classes start came from the folklore people today. It's funny. Ever since the unfortunate incidents with my application at Penn, I've just assumed that administrative types are forgetful and irresponsible, which does nothing but make me more anxious to get whatever they have to give me than I would ordinarily be. But as it turns out here, they are not irresponsible; simply slow. And it is not even the folklore people who are slow. When I went to talk to them last week, they told me that the delay in sending information stems from the fact that the people who set student fees were still trying to decide how much to charge, and the delay in the information getting to me is because campus mail is slow. So perhaps it should be those people that I blame.
In other news, I went out yesterday and bought a wonderful (and extremely inexpensive) bottle of Viognier white wine that comes from the Jewel winery in Sonoma. I don't usually like white wine (I despise Chardonnay), but this was exceptional. It was very dry, and yet retained some sweetness which made it especially interesting in contrast to the relatively mild, almost sweet yet salty Sardinian sheep's milk cheese that I had with it. The wine is very fruity, with a very distinct grape flavor, but also tones of other fruits (peach and plum maybe?). It's refreshing, but not so light as a chardonnay, and yet the effects of the alcohol are much less noticable. It also has a very interesting color. Most white wine that I have encountered is sort of straw colored, but this one is very yellow, almost green, more like a juice than a wine. It was very interesting, very interesting indeed. It's a wine that I would definitely serve again, especially if I had company and was serving a fruit and cheese course.
Finally, I'm playing Dungeons and Dragons tonight, about which I am very excited, although I'm not so much in the mood to play as I thought I would be. Really, I think that it's just because my head is elsewhere. I'm thinking a lot about my mead these days, as well as my paper and AFS (which is really looming right now), and my trip back to L.A. I'm really looking forward to going to L.A. Hopefully, it will clear my head a little bit, I can come back to Indiana ready to get to work, and pound out a draft of this paper before school starts. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I can get a draft before school starts, and the only question, as I have said before is quality.
Okay, so that wasn't really finally. Finally, some AFS news. I booked my airline tickets. I accidentily got tickets that will force me to go to Albuquerque a day earlier than I was supposed to. I was pissed at myself, but then looking at all the flights for the correct day, they were all more expensive and at worse times. So I think that maybe I half-assedly did the right thing. Mabel also booked the rooms for all of the berkeley folklore people with whom I will be staying. There will be something like eight of us there, so it'll be pretty crowded, but it should be a lot of fun. I need to decide whether I want to go to the ticketed dinner and dance the first night of the conference. I think not, but if everybody else does, then I will too. Really, I would rather go out and explore the city a little, but we'll see what happens. If I don't get off my ass about my paper it won't really matter anyway.
Friday, August 01, 2003
This morning, I found the website for a restaurant that is reputed to be the finest in Bloomington--The Scholar's Inn. For your amusement, I am including some excerpts from their menu:
Scholar Meatloaf $14
Tomato glaze, spinach, smashed Yukon gold potatoes, asparagus & onion crisps
Suggested Wines: Merlot or Syrah.Shiraz
Fried Mozzarella $8
Hand-dipped fresh mozzarella with seasoned bread crumbs, Served with pomodoro sauce
Crispy Calamari $9
Served wih roasted rep pepper cumin aioli for dipping
I am sorry, but you simply cannot serve meat loaf and fried mozzarella sticks in a fancy restaurant. And for that matter, I don't care what you put in the meat loaf, or what kind of "smashed" potatoes you have, it is not worth $14.00. Finally, notice the suggested wine with the meat loaf. Merlot and Syrah are fine, but Shiraz is a wine that is native of Australia, and while I don't like to stereotype Australian wines, I have never, never tasted a Shiraz that I liked more than moderately. Certainly, I have never found one for which I would stick my neck out and recommend on a menu.
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