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Officially, I had "Country Pork and Parsley Crust" for dinner. I would actually call it "Root Vegetable Stew" if it were me. It did contain pork and a parsley-ricotta crust, but really it was a huge hearty stew of root veggies. Rutabaga, parsnips, carrots, and leeks made the bulk of the stew. They were complemented with celery and parsley. It was interesting. I've never used most of those ingredients, much less eaten them! (Review: it wasn't bad. I would make it again, but wouldn't rave about it.) Also - it was good practice for my recent cutting class.

Current Mood: contentcontent

So since this summer, friends of ours from San Diego (jawajames) got us into playing Dominion and its companion game, Dominion Intrigue. Tonight, playing with friends of ours locally, we had our lowest-scoring game yet. It ended when both the swindlers and laboratories were purchased, and was a final score of 6-7-8-9. (I unfortunately had 6, so was the big loser.) But the good news is that Monique, new to the game, won with 9. I say that's good news because I find that people like the game more if they can win shortly after learning. What was crazy in this iteration was that so many of the piles of cards were low, because the swindler caused each player to trash their top card in their draw deck, and draw a replacement card of the same value. The swindler was our only 3-coin card (other than silver), and our only 4-coin card was a garden. So it was purchased (and then used) with relative frequency. Plus, we discovered that copper cards could be swindled into curse cards, and 6-point victory cards into gold (later in the game), which kept the scores quite low. There were only two provinces purchased the entire game, which was won because in the last round Monique purchased a Duchy.

This was after a prior unusual game, which I won because I had remodeled two gold cards into provinces. In that game, the witches were causing so many curses to be given out that curses were one of the two piles which ran out (I don't recall the other one, but I think it was something I bought to end the game).

Anyway, fun games tonight, even if they were quite wierd!

Current Mood: happyhappy

So I just spent 20 minutes reading Obama's planned remarks to the Notre Dame graduates (link), and I have to say, I wish I had been there. The speech looked excellent and dignified--respectful and on a tone of acceptance.

So, if you're trying to kill time, go read them. I enjoyed them. And I am disappointed that the Bishop of the Fort Wayne/South Bend Diocese skipped the graduation, that he apparently is among those who felt that only by not attending could he appropriately show his disagreement both with the President's position on one [albeit major] issue and the school's decision to honor this President in spite of that one issue.

Since right around Christmas, I have been trying to figure out how to make tortillas. Specifically I am interested in making flour tortillas, because I prefer their taste. I had been given a recipe which others had found good for making tortillas on The Homesick Texan's Blog. So I tried it out. Unfortunately, while their taste was really good, I have been unable to get them to roll/cook just right. They are too thick, and too small. The smallness is in large part due to the fact that they don't stay rolled out, and when put on the burner, they contract into very small tortillas. For Christmas, I got a tortilla press, hoping that would solve the problem by pressing them instead of rolling them. Unfortunately, the same problem occurred, and I was left with too-small too-thick tortillas. Having seen Alton Brown make tortillas on Good Eats, I endeavored to make them more like his. The key difference seems to be that he was making corn tortillas. So -- following his suggestion, I went to the store (with K) and bought some Masa corn flour, which contained a recipe for making tortillas. The recipe was super-easy (combine the flour with salt and water, mix, form into balls, press, and cook). Unlike the flour tortillas, these don't contract after being pressed/rolled, but rather hold their shape and size, and cooked up nicely.

Unfortunately, they were corn tortillas and not flour tortillas, so I didn't like the flavor as much. But they were surprisingly easy, and were really quite good for corn tortillas.

So, while my quest is still open for a good flour tortilla, I have made progress of sorts (and hey, now I can make my own tortilla chips, too!).

So last night we cracked open our new food processor. This was after working my way through the new Christmas gifts. Previously, we've used the new cast iron griddle/grill pan, which we've used to make burgers, pancakes, and tortillas. Then we've used the rice cooker -- both to steam broccoli and to make rice for stroganof. We also used the cast-iron tortilla press to make the tortillas--though this one will take some more practice before I'll be good at it (the tortillas didn't keep their shape from the press to the pan). And of course, the salad spinner has been used to spin the lettuce for our burgers.

But last night was the time for the food processor. Yes, technically the food processor was not a Christmas gift. But we got it during Christmas break, and it was paid for using Christmas money from Kristina's grandparents, and a gift card from Crate and Barrel which our San Diego friends gave us as a moving-away/housewarming gift.

So we used the food processor to make homemade peanut butter, which I had seen on Food Network's Good Eats (with Alton Brown). It was incredibly easy (add the peanuts, salt, and honey), process, then slowly add peanut oil while processing until creamy. And quite tasty -- we had a peanut butter snack on fresh made bread last night. Yum!

As an added bonus -- another use for the salad spinner is to skin the Spanish peanuts. You rub them between your hands to loosen them, then put them in the spinner to spin them out of the peanuts.

Next, we'll be looking for a way to use the dutch oven!

Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful

So mercifully, my nieces and nephews let me sleep in until almost 7. Apparently they were up at 4am, and managed to let us sleep until 7. Then we came up and opened our stockings and Santa gifts, and now are sitting around as the family gets ready to go to church. Kristina and I went last night, so we're going to use the time to shower and get ready when the house is all to us.

When they get back, we'll open the rest of the gifts. But from the East Coast, Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good morning!

Current Mood: pleasedpleased

A success. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

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Current Mood: fullfull

So I noticed today that LJ is now displaying ads when you're not logged in. This kinda bothers me, and I'm beginning to think that maybe I'll switch to blogging (when I actually do, which isn't that frequently) on my own site and not on a hosted site. That site has RSS, so you'll still be able to subscribe. What it would probably do is eliminate the ability to write locked posts which only friends can see (since these mainly work by the common user base).

What does everyone else think?

So I'm now two weeks into my job at Purdue, and thought it a good time to update everyone. In my first two weeks, I've taught 5 lectures. They started off rough, and have gotten progressively better (in my opinion). The good news is that students are still coming to class, so things can't be that bad.

However, lecture planning has taken a large portion of my time. For me to survive as a faculty member, I have to get to the point where lecture preparing leaves me enough time to advise students and do research, too. But it's getting easier, so I'm hopeful soon I'll find time for other activities as well.

We did go see Purdue's season opening game this afternoon against Northern Colorado (which Purdue won handily). It was impressive to see that many students at a game -- much more impressive than any ACC football turnout. I think there were 5 sections of the stadium as student sections, where the entire section was students (and each section had around 80 rows). And they were all in black -- they call that a "blackout". Another impressive thing was how the role of the band differed. At the ACC schools I've been to, the band did a pregame show and a halftime show, and some pep music, but mainly during the game seemed deferential to the other spirit leaders. At the Purdue game, the band stands were at the field level, so band members would regularly be dancing around on the grass (but out of the field of play). Also, it appeared the band led the cheers, not the cheerleaders (who followed with the stuff the band was playing). On the plus side, the band was able to synchronize the whole stadium at once, which was impressive. Two other things which were new to me were:

  • Variable speed wave: They started the wave off normally, but at some point converted to a slow-motion wave. Literally, looking at it, I initially though that I was seeing things in slow motion, before I realized that no, they were just doing the wave in slow motion. It was really cool. Then later they started a second, fast-motion wave, which overtook the slow-motion wave

  • Lifting students up when touchdowns are scored. Both men and women, being lifted up by the people around them, and tossed in the air (some just lifted, others tossed), some number of times before being put back down. At the height of the game, there were at least 20 people being lifted in this fashion across the student section.

(to the tune of "Happy Birthday")
Happy Birthday to You!
Happy Birthday to You!
Happy Birthday Dear Kristina,
Happy Birthday to You!

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