l33tminion: (Yay!)
I broke out a few cookbooks in the past few weeks.

Braised Carrots and Capers

Braised Carrots and Capers

This recipe is from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. The braising takes a bit of attention over the ~30 minute cook time (it requires not adding too much liquid, but also not letting the liquid run dry), but the prep is overall very straightforward. My only addition was adding a bit more fresh parsley in the last stage of cooking, as a garnish, and I think that worked well.

Parsnip Dumplings in Broth

Parsnip Dumplings

This recipe appears in Ottolenghi's Plenty. I only made the dumplings (I did ultimately serve them with broth, not pictured, but it was just store-bought prepared chicken broth). The dumplings came out mushy with more of a mashed-potato texture, when I wanted something more gnocchi-like. I gave them a quick saute after in an attempt to salvage the texture, which improved that to something okay. Overall, this wasn't bad, but I was disappointed in how it turned out and I'm not sure what I'd do differently to fix it (more semolina flour? less? more egg?).

Roasted Root Vegetables with Bagna Cauda

The recipe I used for this Italian anchovy sauce (traditionally a dip served warm) came from Valerie Aikman-Smith's Salt.

I served it over a mix of turnip, rutabaga, and daikon radish, roasted with olive oil and a bit of salt (with a side of leftover garlic bok choy and rice).

Rice and Veggies

This combination worked really well. Learning new recipes for sauces is particularly great when buying vegetables in bulk.

I also remade the recipe for Indian-Spiced Lamb in a Salt Crust from that book. That went well, even though I failed to roll out the dough properly and didn't get quite as good a seal as a result. This recipe looks amazing during prep:

Lamb in a Salt Crust Prep

And great on the plate as well:

Roast Lamb Dinner

In addition to homemade raita (included in the recipe), I served that with pre-prepared savory mint chutney from a nearby Indian grocer. The remaining items on the plate are more me winging it, but those turned out as well.

The beets were cooked in the microwave, which is definitely the easiest method for cooking beets. (The timing recommended in those instructions (seven minutes for one large beet, two extra for each additional) seems good, but it's not too sensitive to cooking too long. Whether or not you put water at the bottom of the dish doesn't seem to matter that much, but piercing the skin with a fork and peeling it after cooking seems to be a good idea, and covering the dish with wet paper towels is critical if you don't want your microwave covered in beet juice.) Then I peeled, cut into cubes, and tossed with Greek yogurt and za'atar (a variety of salty/savory spice mixtures could work very well).

To make the potatoes, I halved them, then made a paste of garlic puree, salt, and a bit of olive oil, enough to coat. (The exact proportions don't matter that much, but I was going for very (but not repellently) salty and quite harshly garlicky (after all, it mellows out quite a bit when cooked). Put the potatoes on a baking sheet face down at 400°F, cooked for an hour, turned, and cooked for about half-an-hour more (could do longer if you want crispier, shorter if you're in a hurry).

(The braised carrots with capers and the garlic potatoes are likely to become regular recipes for me. I made them both as part of tonight's dinner.)
l33tminion: (Junpei)
Finally, finally got back to some cookbook cooking last week.

One of the things motivating me to cook is that I've resumed ordering deliveries of local vegetables from Boston Organics. Local means seasonal, and seasonal right now still means a lot of root vegetables (plus some sprouts and some late-season apples). So that made Diane Morgan's Roots a very relevant book indeed. (And it's a beautiful cookbook!)

Carrot Ribbons with Sorrel Arugula Pesto and Goat Cheese

Carrot Ribbons with Arugula Pesto and Goat Cheese

The recipe calls for sorrel in the pesto, but I couldn't get any, so I substituted arugula instead and added a bit more lemon and a lot more pine nuts. Also ended up using way less than the amount of goat cheese the recipe called for, though maybe I was under on the amount of carrots. At any rate, it turned out amazing. The leftover pesto made for some good pasta with some scallions from the store and these beautiful assorted mushrooms from the box:

Prepping Mushrooms

Pasta with Mushrooms, Scallions, and Pesto

Orange Braised Parsnips

Orange-Braised Parsnips

For this one, I followed the recipe directly. It does indeed seem odd to start a recipe for parsnips by caramelizing some sugar, but it all came together very well. I thought it was very good indeed. Eris was definitely a fan as well.

Turnip (and Radish) Ghanoush

Turnip and Radish Ghanoush

This recipe is like baba ghanoush, except with turnip instead of eggplant, sweetened with a little pureed date. The recipe makes more of the date puree than it actually uses, on the (correct) assumption that you'll enjoy having more around.

My vegetable box didn't contain as much turnip as this recipe called for, but it did have watermelon radishes, so I used a combination of the two instead. That substitution worked out great in terms of both taste and color. I also added some fresh mint to the date puree (a really good addition). The only not-ideal bit was a few chunks of vegetable left in the spread that somehow escaped the attention of the food processor blade. If I did it again, I'd take the care to pass the processed mixture through a strainer or at least carefully pick through it with a fork, to catch anything that needs that extra round of blending.

The leftover date puree does in fact make a wonderful breakfast, spread on an English muffin with some of the goat cheese:

Date Spread
l33tminion: (L33t)
It would be easier to title these posts if it didn't take me several days to get around to it.

Melissa came to visit this weekend (arrived Saturday and left early Tuesday morning). She was visiting Boston University since she's planning to apply for their MFA program. Was a lovely visit, especially since she provided a great deal of help with the kid (seriously, she changed diapers and everything). Saturday evening we went out for dinner with extended family (Amy and Josh and Milly and Marty), Sunday evening we went out to celebrate Melissa's birthday, and Monday I cooked dinner at home. Actually got a fair amount of cooking done: Mushroom and pea shoot omelette on Saturday morning, roast chicken and vegetables, pea shoot salad, and baked sweet potato with dukkah (which Julie made earlier) for Monday night.

Sunday morning, Melissa took the kid and went to visit friends, and (in addition to chores) I managed to watch all of Madoka Magica. If you enjoy anime, I'd recommend it: It's short (12 ~20 min. episodes) and has the sort of quality you'd expect form an Akiyuki Shinbo / Gen Urobuchi collab (i.e. a lot).

(I hear the kid enjoyed her museum visit. A good staircase is still a world of adventure.)

The Super Bowl Sunday seems like it was quite the game. (Sorry, Atalanta fans.)

Work is going all right this week, but it's a bit hectic.

Today, I'm out at Olin helping with campus recruiting and doing an interview-prep workshop. It feels only a short time since I was here with the kid a year ago.

This morning, the ground was covered with a thin layer of ice, which made the walk to daycare a bit too exciting. It was all melted an hour later, though. But tomorrow we're getting a snowstorm.

Julie's postdoc ends on Friday. But her entrepreneurial work continues.

This weekend, we're going to Intercon, which I missed last year and is still probably foolishness to go to this year, what with looking after the kid. I'm only signed up for a few games, though.

Eristic improvements: Still working on standing up unsupported (despite some early successes, she seems to be having difficulty with this still, though maybe she's trying when more tired), using specific sounds to communicate specific things (though I'm not sure I can quite say that she's learned words yet), more complex causal modeling (i.e. she knows the remote control works somehow and is determined to figure it out).
l33tminion: (Overwork)
Work has been busy, everything has been busy. I've been bogged down with chores. I've not been sleeping so well, though not for any particular reason.

I'm making a serious effort to adjust my diet this week. I've been less inclined to eat healthily this year, and the effect is starting to get a bit alarming.

And some of my the most fun bits of the last few weeks have been related to food. Last Friday night, went out for an amazing evening of dessert and drinks at Loyal Nine after a quiet dinner at home. Saturday night, I took Julie out for a steak dinner at Juliet, and it lived up to the best steakhouse dinners I've had. (Julie liked it too, and she has high standards for steak.) All the more reason to keep my day-to-day eating on the healthy side, I suppose. Plus that gives me more motivation to cook again.

Politics is weighing on me. Sunday I went to canvas in New Hampshire for the Clinton campaign. ~40 volunteers left that day for NH canvassing from Porter Square Books, and more than that many from the campaign office in Central Square. And that's just Cambridge. The Clinton campaign is tremendously organized.

I made it out to Olin Monday evening with a few of my colleagues to give a tech talk on interviewing at Google.

The kid is more reluctant than ever to go to sleep in the evenings. And keeping her toys out of the way has become yet another chore.

Eristic improvements: Standing (supported but unassisted). Pulling herself to a standing position (an ability that she's working really hard on improving). Walking is sooner than you think.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Last weekend, we went to Lubbock to visit Julie's folks. Erica got to spend some quality time with her grandparents and get in another visit with her great-grandma. We also took her to see the animals at the South Plains Fair. Scott (Julie's dad) made homemade paella, which was really good! Was nice to get in some good times with family.

This week work was quite busy. Wednesday I went out to the Olin campus for the fall career fair. I love helping with campus recruiting, it's always great to get back to Olin and see the current crop of students, they always really seem to have it together. It's strange to be so far removed from undergrad, still feels like not that long ago. (Enjoyed the lunch, too. The Olin dining hall is now run by Rebecca's Cafe instead of Sodexo, and that seems to be a big improvement.)

Speaking of Olin, I've also been reading a book by one of my Olin profs, A Whole New Engineer, about Olin and Olin's collaboration with the iFoundry at the University of Illinois. Pretty interesting so far. While I already knew a lot of the background about Olin, I didn't know much about the iFoundry program, which seems to be an attempt to replicate some of Olin's successes with a small, low-budget program at a much larger university.

This weekend was mostly pretty quiet. I managed to play a bit of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided on Saturday (worth the time, though I stayed up a bit later than ideal). Sunday, went to Octoberfest in Harvard Square, which was for some reason not postponed to the rain date despite pouring rain. The weather was pretty lousy, but I don't regret trying to make the most of it since it got me out of the house. Erica napped in her stroller and I enjoyed a little bit of the music (though from a bit of a distance; Erica's ability to sleep through brass bands, while impressive, is not unlimited).

I took down the AC yesterday, just in time. So much easier when I get to it while the weather is still dry.

Of course, I've also been following the presidential election with great interest. Looking forward to the second debate tonight (will probably brave the weather to watch that in company instead of streaming it at home). Though I'm also looking forward to this whole thing being over. (How much crazier can it get in less than a month?)

Erisitic improvements: Erica is eating a bit more adult food (she really liked having some of Julie's scrambled eggs this morning), she's more interested in playing with blocks (though not yet up to nesting or stacking, mostly just hitting together or knocking down), she seems to be understanding some words (maybe???), she's more visibly interested in hearing people read aloud (though she doesn't yet follow along or turn the pages or pay attention to specifics).
l33tminion: (L33t)
I've been very tired lately. Between that and the heat, I've pretty much given up on cooking, and all of my entertainment has tended towards the short-form. Work has been exhausting as well.

Julie's Science paper came out this week, and she was working to get her companion-piece methods paper ready for pre-publication. And post-postdoc job search continues.

Next week, we'll be going to Portland, Maine for another Ingress live event. So have been getting in a little Ingress-playing this week to gather the game-items needed for the battle ahead.

The weekend after that is my sister's wedding, also near Portland.

Today, I thought I might get a quiet day at home, then did nothing of the sort (as usual). Went out for breakfast, then decided to catch a bit of the Red Bull Flugtag (a funny amateur "flying" machine competition), then played some Ingress in/around Boston Public Garden. Did a bit more wandering and relaxing, then got dinner at Happy Lamb Hot Pot (a new place in Central Square which happened to be serving their special menu for this summer's restaurant week). It didn't feel like much time had passed since early afternoon, but by the time we were done with dinner, it was nearly 10PM.

Speaking of which, I'd better get to sleep if I don't want to be dead tomorrow.

Eristic improvements: Crawling for real (though still somewhat limited/slow), new growling noise that she finds incredibly entertaining.
l33tminion: (Jon Stewart)
Last weekend: Just about perfect. I got in some relaxation, played To the Moon (a charming little indie-RPG, very light on gameplay mechanics), went to the latest Magic: the Gathering prerelease (and went 4-0!), and Julie took me out for a special dinner at Bergamot.

This week: Nothing eventful. Mostly just trying to stay out of the heat. It's been extremely hot, and as a result I've been extremely tired.

This weekend: Olin summer party in Somerville!

In the news:

The RNC happened in Cleveland, and I was glad to hear that went largely without incident. The Republicans are officially the Party of Trump now, it seems. Cruz showed up to emphasize that he wouldn't endorse Trump to his face (2020 guyz!), while many former presidents and current legislators were conspicuously absent. Most notably, Governor Kasich didn't show up to the RNC in his own state (though evidently he put in an appearance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame down the street).

Was Kasich really offered the VP post and was that offer really worded the way anonymous Kasich adviser claims? I don't even know what to believe at this point.

Trump's actual VP choice was unexpectedly uninteresting, Pence is a sitting governor and seems to be a good public speaker. Clinton followed suit by picking Tim Kaine, not a surprising pick, but a reasonable one.

Most interesting bit of convention reporting: This essay on a convention party hosted by gay anti-feminist and professional troll Milo Yiannopoulos. Most interesting thing about the convention itself: Trump's acceptance speech, mainly in thinking about what a Trump presidency might actually be like. Best moment in general: Jon Stewart's guest appearance on Stephen Colbert's Late Show.

Next week: Wikileaks (and everyone else) will try to shake up the DNC.
l33tminion: (Overwork)
I feel pretty wrecked this week. I've gotten into a vicious cycle of being too tired to get things done efficiently / staying up late to get things done. So this last week has been rougher than when I first got back to work. Summer has also arrived to help prod me onto an early schedule with warmer nights and brighter mornings. So my internal clock has me waking up at ten-to-seven whether or not I managed to get to bed at ten (my ideal) or midnight (perhaps closer to this week's usual).

I end up of two minds whenever I have free time: Desperate to get in some unstructured relaxation, but also not wanting to be stuck in the house.

At least work has been very productive. I'm on the verge of getting the initial phase of a significant project completed.

I also got in a little cooking this weekend. The Saturday farmer's market in Union Square has started up again, and I got some fiddleheads and radishes and fancy smoked fish.

We're going to NYC next weekend, attending the Ingress live event in Brooklyn. This weekend is quiet.

Eristic improvements: Kid is making more dramatic tongue gestures, is generally more vocal (especially when hungry or tired, which is another thing that's grinding me down), fights sleep a bit harder. Not quite ready for those crawling preliminaries, but it's clear that she's working at it, with some frustration.
l33tminion: (Caffeine)
Tuesday-Thursday last week I was in Orlando for a "fun offsite", a reward to the broader Google Flights team (including the Zurich and Mountain View parts of that team) for a job well done. We stayed at the Disney hotel on the grounds of the Animal Kingdom park. Tuesday evening was dinner and an airboat ride at Wild Florida, the boat ride was fun, we got to observe alligators skulking in the reeds and hold one of the park's little alligators for a souvenir photo. On Wednesday, I went on a tour of Kennedy Space Center (pretty interesting, the space shuttle was really an impressive thing to see in person) and caught the evening fireworks show at Epcot. On Thursday, I went to Universal Orlando and rode a couple of their famous motion-simulator rides before heading for the airport for the journey home. I spent most of the time in the main park, but did duck out to the Harry Potter mini-theme-park in Islands of Adventure (Universal is keen to point out that they have tradmarked basically every word in the description of that attraction). It was charming, and the central motion-simulator ride alternated between "in front of a panoramic screen" and "moving through a tunnel stage set" segments in a way that was pretty neat, though a lot of backstage elements were clearly visible on the stage segments (intentionally to tone down those segments for the kids?).

It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the extra time to socialize with my colleagues, especially some of the colleagues I see less frequently. I never did make it to Disney World proper ("the MK", as everyone in the immediate vicinity seems to refer to it). I'll have to be back some time (and with family) to visit the house of mouse.

(I did still manage to get a little work done this week. Things are moving along.)

Last weekend, Julie's mom came up to visit us and the kid and provide Julie with some extra hands while I was out of town. Was good to see her, and always fun to have grandparents get some time with the kid.

This weekend, my mom is visiting. Since it's Mother's Day, I'm taking my mom and Julie to the Mother's Day brunch at Bergamot.

Eristic improvements: Rolling over, trying (but failing) to get legs under her. I assume as soon as she can get onto arms and knees, she'll be off like a rocket, though.
l33tminion: (Slacker Revolt)
Needless to say, I should post about interesting things I find more frequently instead of fishing through my backlog for an entire year.

Technology and Mathematics

The new way of passing the Turing test is to have humans pretend to be AI.

Who Was Ramanujan - Stephen Wolfram (of Mathematica and Wolfram Alpha fame) tells the story of one of an unlikely mathematician (and the subject of a recent biopic). Really interesting stuff.

Urbanism and Transit

How Japanese zoning laws avoid many of the problems of US zoning.

Navigating NYC with a guidebook from 1899.

How to save the MBTA $100M a year: Fix paratransit, subcontract bus maintenance, cut administration.

On state-level funding of urban mass-transit, and why this is about rural-urban political conflict.

An old post with an interesting idea for modifying urban development proposal contests.

"Nations aren't the proper unit of macroeconomic analysis; cities are."

The king of the frequent fliers.

Food and Medicine

Why almost all eggnog sold in the US violates FDA regulations, and why that's not technically illegal.

Why the cure for scurvy was widely known in Europe in the 1700s, but not known by polar explorers in the early 1900s.

An amusing post on pharma company sneakiness, with a great post title.

More Recent Politics

Why Sanders Trails Clinton Among Minority Voters: It has a lot to do with Obama.

Why didn't Bernie Sanders raise any money for the DNC? Short version: Clinton is there to do it for him.

What Would a Trump Victory Tell Us About the Republican Party? The article proposes several possibilities about what pundits and politicians may have gotten wrong in underestimating the chances of a Trump victory. Very interesting to look back at this January post a few months later.

The Smug Style in American Liberalism: Accurately characterized on Reddit as Vox Voxsplains Itself.
l33tminion: (L33t)
My dad is visiting this week, and I wanted to get in a little home cooking. Easy pasta recipes are a staple of cooking for parents, so I figured I'd better have some of Julie's favorites figured out before we return to work.

This week's recipe was based on the recipe for Spaghetti alla Puttanesca in Diane Seed's The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces (in the "Garlic, Olive Oil, Chili" chapter).

Pasta Puttanesca

Choices and substitutions: Instead of spaghetti, I used a package of whole-wheat fusilli. The instructions on the package were somewhat strange, calling for cooking the pound of pasta in five quarts of water with a quarter-cup of salt, which struck me as an unnecessarily huge amount of water and an absurd-seeming ratio of salt. I didn't use nearly that much water, or nearly that proportion of salt, though I did still salt the water pretty heavily. I also cooked the pasta in the sauce for two minutes at the end, per the suggestion on the pasta package.

How it turned out: It was a hit, but anyone who didn't like their pasta quite salty would have been displeased. For those that like their pasta dishes less salty, I would suggest not salting the water and reducing the amount of capers and anchovies (or leaving those out entirely). Cooking the pasta in the sauce would probably be a bad idea for long, thin pasta like spaghetti, but worked very well for the fusilli.
l33tminion: (L33t)
I've been thinking about making London broil for a while, since it's something I like, and you can get a really good price on it at Market Basket. Plus my brother reminded me again when he mentioned having that for a birthday dinner. My birthday's not for a while, so just have to cook it myself. While I've been trying to cook more from cookbooks, this time I fell back on my old standby of "do a Google search for the name of the food, and choose one of the first recipies that comes up".

London broil (in America, anyways, in Canada it's something totally different and it's not really a thing in actual London, or so says Wikipedia) is a large, tougher steak, turned into portions of tender steak by marinating, broiling (or grilling), and cutting into thin strips diagonally across the grain.

Choices and substitutions: The recipe I used calls for grilling, but mentions that broiling can be substituted, which is what I did. Cooked under the broiler on high on the top rack in the topmost position for about five minutes (the recipe called for 8-10 minutes per side, but the cut of meat I used was a little smaller). I thought that might have been a bit too intense since some of the drippings were starting to smoke, so I lowered the top rack one notch for the other side, adding an oven-safe meat thermometer after flipping the meat. Kept a close eye on the thermometer until it read about 140°F (perhaps a little less), then let stand and sliced as usual.

Carved London Broil

I served it with potatoes (microwaved with olive oil, salt, and basil) and baby broccoli (steamed with lemon). Dead simple.

London Broil Dinner

How it turned out: This one was simple, but very good. The marinade was pretty middle-of-the-road, but easy to make and used all stuff that I already had on hand. The other dishes were things that would be hard to mess up, even if I got the timing a little off, which meant I could devote all my focus to the broiler. With the marinade done in advance, cooking London broil took only about half-an-hour and didn't require much technique. But it did require about 20 minutes without any significant interruptions.
l33tminion: (L33t)
After a few weeks off and a bit of helping with Julie's creations, I'm back to trying new recipes.

Kheema and Dal

This week's recipes: Kheema (Ground Meat) and Lentil Dal from Madhur Jaffrey's An Invitation to Indian Cooking.

Choices and substitutions: For the kheema, I halved the meat and dry spices but not any of the other ingredients (due to a combination of poor planning and not well-thought-out ad hoc decisions). For the dal, I halved everything except the whole cumin seeds (since I really like whole cumin). Also, I used red lentils and reduced the cooking time slightly. And I substituted a bit of ground clove for whole cloves, which I'd mistakenly thought I had in stock.

How it turned out: The kheema was delicious, though I'm pretty sure I could get a better flavor and texture by following the recipe more precisely and stirring more regularly. Halving the meat without altering any of the spices would probably work fine, too.

For the dal, I could have used a bit less water (and possibly an even shorter cooking time) for the red lentils, those don't plump up much and cook very fast compared to other varieties of lentil. Even as it was, the texture was good, and the flavor was very good.

Also, a lot of the details of these recipes made for a beautiful aroma. Both used quite a few whole spices. Rounds of lemon are added to the dal towards the end of simmering, and oil seasoned with whole cumin seeds is added at the very end. The delicious smell lingered pleasantly after the meal.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Time flew by this week. Completed a few important tasks: Arranged daycare for when I return to work (at a home daycare very near to our house), one-month physical for Eris (she's healthy and nearly ten pounds). And did get in some fun things.

I want to do a bit of studying on work-related topics, but have not gotten around to it quite yet.

I did finally got the much-anticipated "quiet day at home" on Friday, in the midst of a snowstorm. Did a bit of cooking; I made mushroom and scallion omelettes in the morning, Julie cooked Sichuan pork with celery adapted from this recipe in Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice.

A few of the nights this week have been a bit rough, and Eris was super-cranky today. Maybe a spot of indigestion.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Four weeks have come and gone, which means I'm now a full member of Team Nutrition. Of course, Julie's still providing all the food, but we now can do some time-shifting without worrying too much about ruining the existing routine. Lazy parenting thing I learned this week: You don't have to heat up fridged breastmilk before feeding it to the baby. Eris seemed to find the cool bottle of milk pretty strange, but that didn't prevent her from devouring it.

Julie and I have done a bit of cooking, but mostly it's been simpler things. I want to continue to get some more elaborate cooking into the mix.

Unfortunately, sleep dep has been really dragging on me the last few days. Julie's more resilient on that front, but she's starting to get pretty tired, too. Really need to get in more daytime naps. Though I'm glad we were able to get out of the house today, the weather was beautiful, unexpectedly very mild.

First Week

Jan. 9th, 2016 11:49 pm
l33tminion: (Ph34r)
DJ and Michelle transported us home from the hospital on Wednesday, which was tremendously helpful. As much as we appreciated the extra support of the nursing staff, it was surely time to get home. We got back around 3 in the afternoon, loaded the baby into the stroller, and went to the Indep for a late lunch / early supper. It was wonderful, the first chance Julie and I had to share a sit-down meal since the birth. A taste of a new normality that includes some of the things we've previously enjoyed, with the new addition.

On Thursday, Julie's mom, Heather, showed up to meet her second grandchild and provide some much-needed support. She's been taking some of the late support shifts and helping around the house while spending quality time with Erica. She cooked a big lasagna dinner for us tonight (Julie's absolute favorite). She's been having one heck of a rough week, too. Her dad just got out of surgery, her dog, Electra, was seriously ill and is just now (hopefully) on the mend, and a drunk driver ran into her (thankfully empty) car. Best wishes and hopes for a speedy recovery and continued health for great-grandfather and the dog-in-law!

The baby is quite a bit of work, but the primary job is nutrition, and on that front, Julie is Nutrition Team Captain and I'm playing support. Perhaps I'll have a bit more flexibility in my contribution once she can pump some a few weeks in. I'm doing all I can, and trying to make some headway in my to-do list of household tasks, get some extra sleep, and fit in a bit of relaxation (including some ventures out into the neighborhood, the doctors say a bit of walking will be good for Julie's recovery). It's actually going fairly well. The trickiest part may be when we get back to work. Or maybe not, some aspects will be easier by that point.

The kid's been most fussy in the early morning, midnight to 6AM or so. Often the kid sleeps fine alone, often swaddled in a blanket or wrap. But especially pre-dawn, sometimes nothing will calm her effectively other than being close to mom. The advice was adamant that babies should not co-sleep unsupervised, so the last few days I've spent an hour or two standing vigil while Julie and Eris get some much-needed shut-eye. (Sometimes followed by an early breakfast and a late-morning nap.)

Still enjoying cooking. In addition to dinner side-dishes, bulgar wheat makes an excellent breakfast cereal. I made that chermoula sauce again to season some sauteed chicken. Worked well, though next time I may try marinating with that overnight.

We had our first pediatrician appointment on Friday. All seems well. Next is Tuesday. The return to birth-weight is not quite complete, but progress is underway. They are insistent that we record the time/number of the baby's inputs/outputs. Of course, there's an app for that, because we're living in THE FUTURE. The doctor also recommended we feed the baby a daily dose of infant vitamin drops. Those are served up from a little one-mil syringe, and the kid drinks them right down.

Aunt Milly came over to help us make a late-evening Target run Friday night, and commented that Julie and I seemed awfully calm for being away from the baby for the first time (hospital nursery aside). The baby was never any more than a few minutes away, and was asleep under the watchful eye of grammie (Heather's preferred grand-motherial tile), so couldn't have been in better hands. The trip was late-evening because Milly's afternoon was spent dealing with a medial emergency. Evidently, my cousin Sarah, currently working on music education and study in the Dominican Republic, came down with a bout of dengue fever! Wishing her a swift and straightforward recovery as well!
l33tminion: (Nom)
This one doesn't meet my goal of cooking from my cookbooks, but I had a bag of dried chickpeas and healthier snack options are always good.

Spicy Roast Chickpeas

This week's recipe is Spicy Oven-Roasted Chickpeas.

Choices and substitutions: I doubled the recipe for the seasoning, and used about two-thirds of two lbs. dried chickpeas instead of 15 oz. canned. I soaked the entire two pounds overnight (adding two tablespoons baking soda and water to about twice the height of the chickpeas). I then rinsed and boiled them until just a little firm (about 40 minutes). I used as much as could reasonably fit on a large baking tray, and froze the excess. Cook time was 75 minutes instead of 30-40. I checked on it every 10 minutes and moved the chickpeas around (after 70 minutes it was on the verge of being done, and I switched to every 5).

Chickpeas are cheap, but dried chickpeas are significantly cheaper than canned. They have a reputation for being a bit harder to digest, though. I asked Melissa (my sister), for advice, since I knew she'd made similar recipes before. Pretty much everywhere suggests soaking overnight. Melissa suggested going a step further and sprouting the chickpeas (good advice, but I didn't want to add several days to my prep time, especially now). The fallback suggestion was to boil after soaking. Other sources are mixed on whether to boil after soaking or go straight to baking, and whether to soak plain or with baking soda.

How it turned out: Tasty! The spices were cooked a bit more than needed, but the texture was just right. Sources vary on whether chickpeas should be coated in oil and spices before roasting or just after, while sill warm. After this one attempt, I suspect that getting some oil on right away is very good. An optimum for flavor probably involves a light coat of salt and oil initially, followed by more oil and spices when there's ~30 minutes left to cook. But that sounds complicated, so I think seasoning before cooking is still a good idea.
l33tminion: (Food)
I was planning to get into the habit of cooking something non-trivial on a regular basis, but haven't gotten around to that since June. Now that I'm moved into the new place, I'm trying to get back to it.

Chermoula Eggplant

This week's recipe (from last Wednesday), was Chermoula Eggplant with Bulgur and Yogurt from Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem. (Chermoula is a sauce flavored with savory spices and preserved lemon.)

Choices and substitutions: I used Chinese eggplant because that seemed to be more the right size than alternatives (worked well, though it seemed to be a little thinner than the ones depicted in the cookbook). I didn't toast the sliced almonds (didn't think it was worth the extra step, that was fine). I used Kalamata olives instead of green olives partly on preference, but mainly because that was what I was able to find pitted and halved (that substitution worked well). I wasn't able to find the jars of little preserved lemons I've used in the past, but Whole Foods turned out to sell preserved lemons in their bulk specialty foods (larger lemons, but flavored similarly, worked just as well). I failed to mix in olive oil with the bulgar while adding the olives, raisins, and herbs (an oversight, but I think that worked out all right in the end; while it's a bit more dry that way, that makes for a nice contrast).

How it turned out: Really well! This recipe has a fair number of steps, but the hardest part was finely chopping preserved lemon for the sauce, and the end product looks like the result of way more effort than was actually involved. The trick of plumping the raisins in warm water is a good one, and I'll be looking for other occasions to use that sauce.
l33tminion: (Silly Dance)
I really enjoyed spending the long weekend with Julie. We had Thanksgiving dinner with my Boston family, worked on more of the long tail of new-house chores, saw a movie (the second part of Mockingjay, which was pretty good), ate a fancy dinner at Clio Restaurant (which is closing at the end of the month).

We also went to some parenting classes and a tour at Brigham and Women's. The imminence of parenthood is becoming manifest.

Work is busy for both of us. Julie is wrapping up a paper in the coming weeks, I'm organizing training sessions (and teaching a session) for my project at work.

Ingress is celebrating it's third year. As a result, I wanted to reach level 13 before Tuesday, which for me required capturing about 130 portals I hadn't captured before. So I was running around downtown after dark in the cold today, while Julie toiled in lab. (I did it, though. Victory!)
l33tminion: (L33t)
Made it through the "matchmaking on a place and a price" stage of condo buying. Now into the first of two "ungodly amounts of paperwork" stages. (Followed by handing over a giant chunk of my life savings, actual moving, and parenthood. Can't complain that my life lacks excitement.)

Also enjoyed a team-building day trip with my work colleagues (lunch on the beach in Provincetown) this week. Which along with home-buying chaos meant that the week was a bit short on work. Fortunately can expect that will be somewhat better in the coming week.

For all the stress, it's nice to get back to some simple pleasures that I've been overlooking for a long time. For me lately, that's watching anime (currently in the middle of the second season of Darker Than Black) and eating at Punjabi Dhaba (an Inman Square treasure for sure).

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