Saturday, February 24, 2007

Adventures in Cooking

Usually I'm too tired when I get home from work to even think about wanting to cook something. However, the mood does occasionally strike me, and I'm forced to whip something up quickly.

Because I don't cook often, I don't have much food on hand to make exotic dishes, nor do I feel like spending hours mixing up large quantities of ingredients for a meal it's going to take me 10 minutes to eat. I want a large rate of return on the time I spend performing complex tasks, and cooking very rarely gives me that. So I want easy and quick recipes, the fewer the ingredients the better.

The meal that of late has had the highest ratio of taste to prep time consisted of three ingredients:

  1. Chicken breasts
  2. Red spaghetti sauce
  3. Mozzarella cheese

All that was required to make that dish was grating the cheese, thawing the breasts and putting them in a pan, dumping the sauce on them, sprinkling the cheese over the breasts and sauce, and throwing the mess in the oven for an hour. Simple, quick, good. It ties my peanut butter cookie recipe for easiest preparation and least number of ingredients:

  1. 1 cup peanut butter
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 1 egg

Mix, make into balls, put them on cookie sheet, bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Surprisingly simple, and hella good.

Every now and then I make something complicated. I made Pad Kee Mao enough two summers ago that I got pretty good at it. Although it's not hard to make by any stretch of the imagination, the prep work's somewhat involved, it's impossible to prepare spur-of-the-moment, it's got a multi-step cooking process, requires a fair number of different vegetables I don't often have on hand, and cleanup's kinda a pain due to my wok being too large to fit in the dishwasher. Needless to say, it's been about a year since I've made that particular dish. As much as I enjoy eating it, it's usually not worth the time I need to put into it.

As a good example of why complicated dishes often aren't worth it to me, let's look at the spectacular failure that was my attempt at making mozzarella sticks a few weeks ago. I didn't have bread crumbs, so I made my own by putting a couple pieces of bread in the oven and finely chopping the result. I don't think they were dry enough because they didn't do a very good job of sticking to the cheese. To top it all off, the oil must've been way too hot, because the damn things started to burn as soon as I put them in the pan. Never have I seen so much smoke in a room that wasn't on fire. It's a miracle the smoke alarm wasn't blaring and the sprinklers weren't turning on. Even with every door and window in the place open for a couple hours, my apartment still smelled like burnt mozzarella stick for a week. And to top it all off, I had to throw all the mozzarella sticks away because they tasted like char. Next time I want mozzarella sticks, I'll go to Applebees.

There was also the first time I tried making pizza from scratch. I hadn't kneaded the dough enough (read: at all) when I tried forming it into a circle. I wondered why it was so damn sticky and uncooperative, then I realized I needed to knead it. I was able to salvage the dough and come up with a decent but small and non-circular pizza, but it made a terrible mess in the process. I told my mom of this experience, so she gave me her bread maker on permanent loan (she reserves the right to take it back at any time, but she hasn't used it in 8 years, so for all intents and purposes it's mine). My second attempt, using the bread maker's pizza dough setting, resulted in a much tastier but still non-circular pizza.

And just last night I got the desire to make bagels. If you've never eaten a bagel fresh from the oven (as in, you've just taken it off the cooking stone and it's still hot) it's something you definitely need to do. I've always been a chive and onion junkie, so that's what I put in the dough. Kinda a time consuming process, though a lot of it is waiting for the bread maker to finish kneading the dough. It's a bit hard to form the dough into a bagel shape, especially when the dough's considerably stickier than regular bread dough, but it was easy enough and rewarding enough that I'll probably make more when I finish eating this current batch. If anyone else out there tries it, I highly recommend cooking them on a pizza stone, as they turn out nice and crunchy on the outside. I may try making bagel sticks instead of actual bagels next time. I've been trying to think of a functional advantage to the traditional torus-shaped bagel but so far haven't come up with anything. It would seem a bagel in the shape of a stick would be easier to carry, eat, and (most importantly) make. I made a couple bagel sticks by accident, so I'll have to test that hypothesis with them.

OK, enough talking about food. Time to get some lunch.

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3 Comments:

Blogger mcpusc said...

regardless of what you call them, they're not bagels unless you boil them first, then bake them - what you've described is bagel-shaped bread, which sounds pretty good.

But a real bagel --- mmmm.

2/24/2007 2:33 PM  
Blogger Aaron *@ said...

I did boil them first. The reason why I got some bagel sticks was due to one of the bagels falling apart while it was being boiled. Can't imagine trying to make them without boiling first; it'd be a huge mess.

2/24/2007 5:48 PM  
Blogger Luke said...

wanted to let you know the cheddar beer soup experiment was successful. We used a bit too much cheese though, and next time I think we will put in some more vegetables next time and maybe some potatoes. Oh and because you'll probably ask, we used a brown ale from the local Shell. I'm not sure which brand off the top of my head. It was about right for us as far as taste goes.

3/21/2007 6:43 PM  

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Hail Satan! Apparently

Satanism

75%

agnosticism

67%

atheism

46%

Buddhism

29%

Judaism

29%

Paganism

25%

Christianity

21%

Hinduism

17%

Islam

8%

Which religion is the right one for you? (new version)
created with QuizFarm.com

Wikipedia's discussion of Satanism is rather vague. The best description I could find was from wikipedia's discussion of the Satanic Bible, where it states:

LaVey then justifies Satanism as a religion by explaining that it is not merely a philosophy. He explains that one reason man has always had religion is because he has a need for dogma and ceremony; Satanism acknowledges this, and therefore supplies its adherents with dogma and ceremony in the form of magic and ritual. LaVey claims that it is precisely this trait that distinguishes Satanism from Humanism or other essentially atheistic philosophies, and makes it a true religion suited to man's carnal nature.

I'd say I don't know how it selected me as a Satanist, but I'd guess because the questions were vague. Some gems:

One should not follow any rule or commandmant (sic) without full belief and understanding of it.
A full understanding of a moral code is great if you can find it. Several thousand years after people started studying philosophy, we're still working on it, and I don't expect we'll have it all figured out anytime soon.
There should be no moral restrictions on diet or sexual activity whatsoever.
What does this mean? Is it asking me if it's moral to eat the homeless guy standing on the street corner? Or a baby? Have sex with the same? Or does it mean don't eat pork or shellfish, sex only if you're married, missionary only, and you're not supposed to like it? Vague.
All life organisms alive today were created through random processes.
Well, no, it wasn't all random. Natural selection's not a random process, though it does gain some level of randomness when its driven by random mutation. Can we please understand what we're talking about before we ask a question?
All adults should pray daily.
Well, people who claim you should should do so, as should they if they think they need to. Again, vague.
Evil as many religions see it does not exist; evil is just imbalance and human mistakes.
How to many religions see evil? Mistakes according to whom? Was what Stalin did a human mistake? For that matter, what is a human mistake?
The world would be so much better if there were no religion.
Well, maybe some of it would be better. People'd no longer do stupid/evil things in the name of their god, but I imagine they'd still do stupid/evil things in the name of their leader.
It is hard to decide what the truth is.
You don't decide what truth is. What's described here is closer to Wikiality than truth. Deciding truth assumes you get a say in saying if something's true or not. Doesn't really work this way.
I believe in a set of specific rules on how to live my life.
What does this mean? That they're from on high? That there is an objective morality and immorality but you don't necessarily know what it is?
Religion is naive and misinformed.
Well, there are naive and misinformed religions; but I don't think they all are. For example, the Universal Life Church (of which I am a minister) is not naive and misinformed. Scientology on the other hand, is.
Abortion is an abominable sin.
How is sin defined? Is it equivalent to immoral? Why didn't it just say immoral?
People are not inherently evil; they are just weak and have free will.
What does this mean? What is weak? Was Stalin weak?

Perhaps I'm just looking too much into a stupid web quiz, but still. Is it too much to ask for one that isn't vague?

And no, I'm not, nor have I ever been, a Satanist. Just thought I'd make that more obvious than it was already. And today's rant is brought to you by the number Jerry (yes, it's a number; it's halfway between eleventeen and forty-twelve).

1 Comments:

Blogger staticfoo said...

Awesome. I didn't know that I was a number.

2/18/2007 3:07 PM  

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Today's Rant

If there's a god, he's surely doing his damnedest to keep me depressed lately. There's too many fucked up/stupid people on this earth, and it depresses me to no end.

This particular funk started last night during a conversation with an old friend about an experience she had teaching preschool. She related a story of a girl unable to go to the bathroom because she'd been molested so much.

The first thing that ran through my head after hearing this was a wish that I didn't have to drive back to my parents' house, because hearing that made me want to drink myself into a stupor. My second thought was there's no god. I think any shred of hope that I could ever believe in divine justice died after hearing that.

And I don't want to hear any anything about how it's man's sinful nature causing this and that God doesn't want it to happen or that it's somehow all part of God's mystical plan. You don't get to speak now. I'm in Pissed Off At The World mode; you're better off just letting me speak my peace. If you don't want to read a rant against a monotheistic, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, good god, stop reading now. Already I know this is going to end badly, but I need to vent.

No good can come from a girl being molested so much she can't use the bathroom. None. You can't give me any scenario where I'd say yeah, it was OK to molest a preschool-aged girl so much she can't go to the bathroom. I don't care if a gun was pointed to someone's head or the universe was going to end; no, not acceptable.

You want to tell me it was part of some divine plan? No, not acceptable. Show me a plan that involves good coming from molesting small girls and I'll show you a plan which needed to be shredded, burned, and rewritten so it didn't involve the molestation of small girls.

What did this girl do to deserve being molested? How did your god decide that girl was going to be molested? Did he roll the dice? What fucked-up though process ran through his divine head which made him say yep, she gets molested tonight. And he's supposed to be omnipresent, which means he watched this fucked up scenario unfold. How do you watch a young girl get molested over and over without doing something about it? Who among you would think it moral and just to watch a girl get molested and do nothing to stop it, especially if it was well within your power to do so? God's supposed to be able to step in and stop anything at any time; why could he have not stepped in and stopped this from happening? He intervened to cure your grandmother's cancer but he won't stop some asshole from raping a little girl. This is divine justice?

Oh, but he'll spend an eternity in Hell. Great, this is one of those times I would welcome the idea. If there's a Hell, I hope I see him there; I'll help the imps torture the bastard. But if wanting to do something and doing it are equivalent, couldn't god have just nailed him on wanting to molest young girls and prevented the guy from actually going through with it? Wouldn't that be just as good in the world of divine justice?

And the sad thing is, I'm sure this guy was molested when he was a little kid, by some asshole who was molested as a little kid, ad nauseam. So really the seeds of this divine plan were planted years ago, when some asshole dad/cousin/uncle decided to molest their son/cousin/nephew. Now here we are reaping the fruits of this plan: a young girl whose constant molestation has left her in endless physical and/or emotional pain. This is the best plan an omniscient, omnipresent god could come up with? Jesus fucking Christ, how incompetent would you have to be for that to be your Plan A?

And today I get a pamphlet from some idiots who accept geocentrism, throwing away 500 years of scientific progress and basing their entire view of the physical universe around some poetry written 5000 years ago, glorifying the above deity which apparently doesn't know enough to stop young girls from being molested. Here's a hint: not everything in that book should be taken literally. You know why there's talk of the sun rising and falling and stars singing and all that? It's because it sounds nice and because it fit as a literary device. Taking it literally'd be like me reading about fucking Paul Bunyan and basing my entire world view about there being people the size of fucking skyscrapers walking around with a goddamn blue ox. The pamphlet wants me to order their free book, and I'm going to order it because it's going to cost them money to print the book, process my order, and ship the book to me; so I'll be doing my part to bankrupt them. Seeing as how their website's been down since May, maybe someone's already done that for me.

Again, sorry if you, against my wishes, read this and were offended. In a week we can have a rational discussion about the nature of divine justice, and you can explain to me how god can let this happen and still be this great entity worthy of praise. Right now, not happening.

2 Comments:

Blogger Kris said...

I'm sorry. I don't meander in public often enough to confront the wonderous variety of selective intellects. As such, I get to chose when to hear rational arguments from intelligent religious and philosophical folks only when I'm in the mood to entertain them. It's a shame that this issue comes up for you with such alarming frequency and in such horrible circumstances.

2/13/2007 11:22 PM  
Blogger Aaron *@ said...

Eh, I feel a lot better after posting that. I just needed to vent. And now every time I hear someone say how good their god is, all I have to do is think of him watching some girl be brutally molested.

The theology/mythos surrounding the Christian god is interesting to me, which is why I find myself in these situations as often as I do. Usually I enjoy it, though this was an edge case where I just cracked.

I imagine all this is why you only discuss philosophy/religion when you're in the mood. Far, Far to easy to go off the deep end, especially for someone like myself who can barely keep his toes touching the bottom.

2/14/2007 10:48 PM  

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

My Attempt At Humor

As some of you are aware, Death To The Extremest finished its seven-year run the first of this year, much to my dismay. It was a very strange comic, much different than the other web comics I read regularly. However, M. Zole did a very cool thing, he released the template for the comic under a Creative Commons license. Those of you who read the comic probably are wondering what the big deal is, since One and Two would be so easy to draw. You're right, it would be easy to make something look pretty close to the original. But this isn't close to the original; this is the real deal: two's precise gradient, the same font and font size used for the dialog, and the same panel size and spacing. In short, reader Death To The Extremist strips will look identical to the real thing.

Obviously I've tried my hand at a Death To The Extremist comic strip. I doubt it's any good, but someone might like it. More importantly, it signifies that I was bored this evening, and that's something I haven't been in quite some time. And since the terms of use require it, this is a derivative work of a comic originally created by M. Zole, and I'm not trying to make money on it (not that anyone would pay me for it even if I wanted them to).

1 Comments:

Blogger Kris said...

Nice

2/10/2007 8:35 PM  

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