Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cooking a really freakin' big chicken, Day 1

Step 1. Get your hands on a really freakin' big chicken. This is where I got mine, at my friendly neighborhood farm. Check this baby out. It's over 7.5 pounds!

That's...that's huge, people. Don't believe me? Well, let's move on to step two.

Step 2. Find a pot big enough to hold said chicken. The one I have is a 20 quart I had to borrow from my brother since my largest pot was no where near large enough. Behold, the chicken next to the pot.

See? I wasn't lying. This is serious poultry!

Step 3. Make a brine (I used one cup of salt) and soak the chicken inside.

Step 4. Place pot and chicken inside fridge to thaw. Now, I'm not planning on cooking this chicken until Sunday, and for those of you paying attention at home, it's Wednesday. Really freakin' big chickens take a loong time to thaw.

I have two concerns about this chicken in my fridge. First, it's taking up a significant fraction of my available space:

And second, I'm worried that I'll open up my fridge tomorrow morning and chicken-y salt water will come pouring out because that poor shelf can't bear the weight of the pot. How much does 20 quarts of water and a really freakin' big chicken weigh? A bit over 49 pounds, people. Trust me, I'm a chemist. I did the volume-to-weight conversion. So, do we think this shelf can hold it? Should I move the pot over to the other side where the drawer is? Send in your suggestions.

Dolphins are really [insert adjective here]

Mine happened to be: clever, playful, talented...Oh, and do mute your speakers if you don't want to hear the violin music (it doesn't really contribute much

Saturday, January 19, 2008


A while ago I spoke to you all about Good Pie, instructed you in how to recognize it and divulged to you the secrets to eating it properly. I hope you have taken this advice to heart.

I write you today with a heavy heart for I have to discuss Bad Pie. Now you and I both know that in an ideal world there would be no Bad Pie (world peace, an end to poverty, fine, but seriously -- can you imagine a world with only Good Pie? It sends chills down my spine). But this is no ideal world and there are people out there putting themselves in Positions of Power as Pie Distributors who are letting you all down.

You see, there's a new Pie Bakery (this is the actual name of the shop) in town that my family tried out last night. When I got to the shop to buy a few pieces to take to dinner with me, my options were key lime pie (fine) and three choices of cream pie. That's all. Cream pie is...well, it's OK if there are other options as well, but honestly, I'm wary of a pie shop that seems to only be offering slices of cream pie. What are they trying to hide under all of that custard and whipped cream? (I am obligated to mention that this bakery did make their own whipped cream. At least some things are sacred.) I'll tell you what they were hiding: their crust.

Good pie crust is delicate and flaky, it almost dissolves in your mouth. Good Crust is difficult to work with. Apparently these pastry chefs couldn't be bothered and added BAKING POWDER to their dough to give it the appearance of flakiness, but really, it just ended up tasting like a stale cracker. Whywhywhywhywhy would they do that?! Remember, people, a stale cracker won't form that luxurious layer of slightly under-done filling-flavored goo that you're supposed to scrape off in Step 5 of your pie eating.

I do have to say there is one high point with this new bakery: the "History of Pie" blurb on the back of their takeout menu. And I quote:
"Pie has been around since the ancient Egyptians. The first pies were made by early Romans who may have learned about it through the Greeks. ."
Yes, there really is two-thirds of an ellipses on the printed document. I appreciate the proprietors covering their butts with the ancient civilizations, but why stop with the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks? How about the Akkadians or Babylonians? We could also -- gasp! -- venture onto other continental land masses! I wonder if any Ancient South American civilizations had pie. Better mention them too, just to be sure.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Random internet stuff

Random stuff from the internets:
  • "Scientists for better PCR" music video
  • The next board game I'm going to buy
  • PBS is showing all of the movie versions of Jane Austen's books, and we get to vote on which leading man is our favorite! Ah, PBS, educational as always. Now who will I choose...Hot Guy from MI-5? Or Ye Olde Classic, Mr. Darcy? Decisions, decisions.
  • Shannon Hale interviews Libba Bray
  • If you liked the idea of Buffy Season 8 in comic book form, you'll be thrilled to know that the same thing is happening with Angel
  • Friend C found this for me, and I have to say, she was dead on that I want to do this to a future room in my future house

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Boltzmann's brain

This is why I love physics so much.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Resolution #1

There are these two guys at work who go to the gym together every day and both had asked me multiple times this past fall to start going with them. Of course I wanted to -- it's been a good nine years since I've been in really excellent shape, but I remember what it feels like, to know that I could ask my body to exert itself for hours at a time, to jump, to spike, to dive for a ball, and it would react appropriately, often knowing what it is I wanted to do before I thought it.

Here's the thing, though: I'm a fundamentally lazy person and I *hate* (HATE!) going to the gym. It's boring, it hurts, it's no fun. Plus, the guy I'd be working out with, A, is known as a total hard ass when it comes to exercise (he makes his pick-up basketball team do suicides after their evening games). But I realized that this was exactly what I needed, someone to force me to go and push myself even when I didn't want to (which is basically every single day).

I started going to the gym with these two guys this week and I have to say, A's been great. We agreed that he would go relatively easy on me to start with, while I got back into a routine. He was the captain of his university's track team and is *excellent* at motivating me to push a little harder even when I'm ready to stop. I love it. I do best with this type of exercise -- going to the gym, running, doing a lot of conditioning -- when there's someone there telling me what to do every step of the way, and A is filling that role grandly.

I lost about 20 pounds in 2007 through no real effort on my part other then apparently being incredibly stressed and cutting waaay back on my consumption of take-out (it helps to be strapped for cash). The last time I weighed this little I had just finished my first semester playing for my college's volleyball team. My goal for this year is to maintain this weight and get back into the best shape of my life. And, if I have any say in the matter, end up looking something like this. Yeah, that should only take about a month. Aherm.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A new genre?

Ok, friends. How many books can you think of that take place in WWII-era Britain where the protag is whisked off to some sort of fantastical alternate reality while there is chaos, death and destruction back home (or at least the threat of it)? The two I have in mind right now are:

But I know in my bones that there must be more examples. Please, help!

The coming year, 2008 edition

Goodbye 2007, hello 2008.

This is me being ready to start a new year. Don't get me wrong, 2007 wasn't all bad; there was the great, two week vacation to Bar Harbor and the Maritimes; the promotion; many reminders of how wonderful my friends are. And on the flips side, the ending of an almost five year relationship.

What does 2008 have in store for me? Who knows! My life is definitely a clean slate at the moment. I have a great, steady job that will continue to give me the flexibility, both in time and money, to pursue whatever I decide to pursue this year. I have supportive friends and family, a great place to live, health insurance -- there's a lot to be thankful for. I wouldn't mind finding a new hobby this year, or maybe a great place to volunteer some of my free time and meet even more great people. Maybe a little romance?

I'm looking forward to the following books coming out:
  • Into the Dark, Peter Abrahams (March 25, 2008)
  • Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri (April 1, 2008)
  • Inkdeath, Cornelia Funke (April 7, 2008)
  • Suite Scarlett, Maureen Johnson (May 1, 2008)
  • The Battle of the Labyrinth, Rick Riordan (May 6, 2008)
  • The Magician, Michael Scott (June 24, 2008)
  • Superior Saturday, Garth Nix (July 1, 2008)
  • Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox, Eoin Colfer (July 15, 2008)
  • The Singing, Alison Croggon (September 2008)
  • Paper Towns, John Green (September 2008)
What are you all looking forward to this coming year? And what future publications are miss ing from my list (I'm talking to you, C!)?