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Showing posts from March 3, 2024

Three Good Things for Saturday, March 9th

I don't care what the apologists say, Daylight Savings is an abomination and I am dreading spending the next week in a fog, feeling slightly out of synch with life and yearning for a nap. Out of my grumpiness tonight, I am stretching to name my Three Good Things: 1. Sauerkraut Chocolate Cake. Photo of sauerkraut cake from the Atlas Obscura article It's real, and having had it once, I can verify that it's unobjectionable. The question of "why" does hover over the whole affair, but the results are not worth questioning. I'm no great shakes as a baker but I'm going to try to give this a shot sometime this week. 2. The Grid Method. Prominent British YouTube Minecraft personality, OwenJuiceTV My oldest kiddo just finished this art class assignment, and is rightly proud of his work. While he's thrilled at the verisimilitude, I am so taken with the character and quality of presence. We were drivi

Three Good Things for Friday, March 8th

I remember learning that the literary trope of having the weather echo a character's emotional state was called "the pathetic fallacy". Fair enough, but it's been a gray, cold, rainy day outside and a gray, cold, rainy day inside for me. Call me pathetic, but it's the way it is this Friday. Bright spot: Lucas's third grade music class concert. Incredible what an impact an energetic and caring teacher can make on a roomful of kids. He even had them adjusting their dynamic range on the songs that had a percussion part! Okay, the good things: 1. Stay Awake. Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films. On the back it says it's dedicated to the immortal memory of Gil Evans. It is a tremendous, joyful, and very very weird album. My Dad introduced me to this album when I was a kid by asking me to guess which song Tom Waits was covering

Three Good Things for Thursday, March 7th

No time to waste, let's hit those Three Good Things: 1. "Fifteen bucks for the whole seat but you'll only need the edge, Edge, EDGE!" An impossibly red, impossibly cute 1997 Suzuki X-90. It looks like a real-life Barbie car, a mini two-seater pickup, minus the bed and with a little spoiler on the back. Also it has a T-top. In college some buddies and I drove up to Cleveland one weekend to see the monster truck rally at the Gund Arena. Were we genuinely interested in it? Was it an act of willful irony? We were the last gasp of Generation X, so there is truly no way to know. What I remember most aside from the noise and fumes was that the promotion ran a contest in between "acts" where local schmoes could try their personal vehicles on the motocross track they'd constructed on the arena floor, with the fastest time taking home a cash prize.  One of the first contestants roared out of the gate in a huge, very obviously brand new, very obviously expensively

Three Good Things for Wednesday, March 6th

I'm running on fumes, so please excuse the pro forma quality of today's Good Things: 1. Trader Joe's Tikka Masala Curry Sauce. I promise I'm not a corporate shill account. This stuff is fantastic, it's quick, and makes for plentiful leftovers. I get three packages of it, three pounds of chicken thighs, and cook up two cups of rice. Boom, dinner. Somehow one of the main ingredients is watermelon seeds?!? 2. Bolo de Rolo. The kids have foisted the Carmen Sandiego remake on us (review: it's not terrible!), and in the Brazil episode they mentioned bolo de rolo. Now I know my life will not be complete until I've tried it. Mmmm, bolo de rolo... 3. Gumption traps. It sucks to be in that place where you feel like you're dead in the water and just waiting for some whiff of a breeze to send you in some direction, any direction. But it's good to remember that those moments have their own perverse power, and that som

Tortellini with Sauteed Shiitakes

 Several folks have asked for my recipe for last night's dinner. I don't tend to think in a structured, recipe-friendly kind of way, but here's my best shot: Ingredients (all from Trader Joe's) 3 packages of spinach tortellini 2 containers shiitake mushrooms, sliced 1 small shallot, minced Pre-diced garlic from the jar, like a lazy person Splash of cooking sherry (maybe they don't have this at Trader Joe's? Anyways Two Buck Chuck would work just fine) Soffrito (see image below) Shredded Parmesan Butter Olive oil 1 bag wild arugula  Trader Joe's Italian Style Soffrito Seasoning Blend. I love this stuff, it's instant classiness for pasta. Directions Melt a generous pat of butter at medium heat, and saute the minced shallots for a few minutes. When they start to brown, add a couple tbsp Soffrito to the hot pan, and drizzle some olive oil over if it looks dry. Add quite a lot of garlic after a minute and stir for thirty seconds, then splash in a little cooki

Three Good Things for Tuesday, March 5th

Working from home with two sick kids is tough when the kids aren't really that sick, but are definitely contagious. Coxsackievurus has an objectively hilarious name, and Hand Foot and Mouth Disease sounds like a livestock ailment, but it does produce truly uncomfortable sores. All this is to say that it was a minor miracle that I proceeded through my day without any major zoom meeting disruptions. A little strategically deployed Minecraft time didn't hurt either. Work life balance aside, three good things for the day: 1. Tortellini with sauteed shiitakes in a shallot and white wine reduction over a bed of arugula. A truly righteous plate of pasta and greens. It's fun and gratifying to know enough to whip a dish like this up. And especially nice to be changing up some of my weekday routine dishes. I confess that, as the primary chef of the household, I have been in a little bit of a rut; but between this and yesterday's broiled salmon there are new possibilities opening

Three Good Things for Monday, March 4th

In some sense I have always been a dad, or at least always susceptible to "dad humor", so today is a special day for me: the day that is a command! Unfortunately my Monday has not been so proactive as I might wish, and I've spent it mostly dealing with a number of things that came up over the weekend. So it goes! In spite of feeling mired in the marshes rather than marching forth, here are some good things about the day: 1. Eclipse! NASA's very good map of the path of totality for next month's solar eclipse; source: We just made a hotel reservation for the weekend preceding the eclipse, and I am thrilled to finally have an excuse to explore Indianapolis. No, seriously! My contention is that any midwestern city above 100k or so in population is going to be cooler than one might think, and I've heard good things about the children's museum there (as well as Crown Hill Cemetery, and t

Three Good Things for Sunday, March 3rd

Another gloriously warm day, perfect for several bike rides. Lucas loves his new hand-me-down bike, declaring it his favorite bike ever. We went on an afternoon ride around Vilas Park, and the wind was so strong that he was riding at a slant. A good day, and a long day, and I'm bushed so here, briefly, are today's good things: 1. Our neighbors who have repurposed their Halloween lighting scheme into a whole lifestyle. 2. The Wisconsin State Capitol. I know that some think it's a boring and trite copy of the national Capitol, but I don't care, I love it and catching a glimpse of it makes me feel hopeful and at home. And I love experiencing it in unusual ways, like this reflection in the office building windows near Wonder State Coffee. 3. This enthusiastic mural inside A La Brasa, on Broom St. The torta I ordered was monumental, easily enough for dinner and today's lunch, and the horchata was great - not too sweet, and well seasoned.