Thursday, August 28, 2008

Adventures in Cooking

I decided about a month ago to get a wine subscription from The idea was that I would have an opportunity to learn a little something about wine selection, what I like/don't like, what goes well with certain food, etc. I've only had two shipments so far (so 4 bottles of wine), and have only managed to drink one bottle, so I can't really give you any updates as to my budding career as a oenologist.

But each of the little sheets that come with the wine do have a list of food that would be a good match. In my first box, I got a bottle of pinot grigio that was recommended to go with fresh tomatoes or seafood. I immediately thought of a dish my dad makes that is excellent - shrimp with goatcheese on top of pasta and tomato coulis. I have yet to reach the stage in cooking where I can create a recipe, but I at least have excellent memory recall and my dad's phone number.

So the first step in this process was to buy shrimp that were large enough to butterfly. I was thwarted on several grocery store attempts due to my night-owl tendencies (did you know they empty the seafood counters after 9 pm or so?), but yesterday finally made it to the grocery store near work during my lunch hour. The only shrimp available where still fully shrimp - little alien looking buggers with the heads still on them and everything. But as shrimps go, they were quite large and on sale. We have a winner!

Last night I got them home and began the cleaning process. I was supposed to get help from the internet, but plans to google "how to clean whole shrimp" were thrown off by our wireless going on the fritz. Here they are, still intact and all:

(take me to your leader...)

I've spared you the photo details of what transpired next, but basically I had to remove their heads. And I was unclear where the body ended and the head started, and this innard stuff squished out and I had to do the "ewwwwwwwww" dance around the kitchen for a minute.

So here they are now, all nice and headless, though not totally clean just yet. I'm pretty meticulous about getting out all of the little black veins, because those sort of gross me out too. As I was sitting there with my paring knife, I thought about the interesting conversation possibilities this presented: "What did you do last night?" "I disemboweled some shrimp. You?"

All nice and butterflied and ready for the filling and the oven:

And ta-da! The final dish, with one shot of the wine as well:

I was pretty hungry by the time I was finished, so I'm not sure I fully appreciated the mix of the wine and the chosen meal...but I still have 6 more shrimp left, and now that I have a better idea of what I'm doing, I'm going to give it another try tonight.

Monday, August 25, 2008


You know those little moments that make you want to stretch out and sigh with content? These are mine lately:

1. Fresh, clean sheets on my bed.
2. Oscillating fans.
3. A growing pile of completed "to make" projects.
4. Fruit-infused herbal tea.
5. Pictures of Ginger's baby.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Foodie Post

A few days ago, on the way back from a co-worker going away party, a few of us stopped in a nearby Belgian chocolate cafe, Locolat. We really only wanted some iced coffee and had been drawn in by the sign outside, but I had also been wanting to check it out for a while. Not only was the coffee yummy and just the perfect way to counteract two glasses of sangria at lunch, the shop itself was full of gorgeous little chocolate candies. We had just STUFFED ourselves with pseudo-Mexican food, so sampling was not really going to happen, but I vowed to come back and play later on.

Fast forward to a few days later, when I'm off to get a little something for a friend for her birthday, and thought hmm, wouldn't a little box of Belgian chocolates be just lovely? I also needed to get some lunch, and was planning to wander around afterwards in the neighborhood to find something. But no need, as they had savory waffles on the menu, covered in all sorts of goodies. Behold, the waffle:

What you see above is prosciutto, parmesan, and arugula on top of a parsley and spinach waffle, drizzled with some sort of mayo/herb/dressing concoction. It was really good - not too heavy, perfect little lunch, and reasonably priced. I didn't get a sweet waffle (that filled me up just fine), but chances are good I'll be back.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

So Yesterday

I started off the morning with a little research on adoption in the U.S. - honestly nothing too interesting, mostly just how adoption agencies receive their licenses (still no idea, really). Somehow that led me to foster homes in the U.S., and then to the recent FLDS case in Texas (some of you will know of my ongoing fascination with this, I can't even explain why). Then I jumped to the Southern Poverty Law Center, because apparently they list FLDS as a "hate group," which struck me as sort of odd, not because I am any sort of fan of the FLDS and the underage marriage of vulnerable girls, but they always seem like the sort of folks who keep to themselves, and in my mind, a hate group implies at least some interaction with the hated groups in question.

So then there is a map on the center's page where you can see where the groups they list are located, and of course I have to check out both Texas and Virginia. I get most of the categories, but was baffled by a few before reading (Christian identity? Radical traditionalist Catholic?). I'm also a little surprised by the apparent ideological differentiation in skinhead groups, although sadly not too shocked at the number of them.

Then I had a meeting, in which I found out that in Hot Springs, Arkansas, there's not only a gangster museum, but also a Mid-America Science Museum - a title which also puzzles me a bit. Because they're in the middle (sort of)? Because they present science in a manner to be understood by "middle" Americans?

To round out the day, I read this article, which then led me here, to look at the idea of "feral" children.

Then I got an email from my boss that included a link to a Congressional testimony in which the organization I work for is repeatedly mentioned, and not in a happy way. It's not a big thing really, but it's still a bit odd to be singled out, when normally we just lay low, do the work we do, and generally receive some occasional praise for the attempt to create better understanding between different cultures. We've also apparently been featured in a Robert Ludlum novel that alleges we train spies here along with other illicit activities and clandestine meetings, which while it would be cool, is unfortunately not at all true.

Such an odd day.

**Edit: It occurred to me later that the above wasn't terribly clear in a way: I think the SPLC is pretty awesome and does good work - I even heard one of their people give a speech when I was at a work conference in Huntsville, AL. So any of the confusion related to what exactly denotes a hate group would be my issues, not theirs :).