enjoying the foliage

Archive for April 2008

I associate April with about three things: exam madness, personal neglect, and cleaning rampages. Because my landlady rules with an iron fist, I have to clean the house from top to bottom at the end of every school year for her inspection. It’s supposed to be a collective effort with the house, but I always end up with the kitchen. Even though it’s about the size of a walk-in closet, it gets pretty disgusting because we are a bunch of slobs with (slightly) more important things to do than menial labour. So, I dread the April clean-up like almost nothing else in the world.

Last year’s clean-up was nightmarish for a number of reasons, but what I remember most vividly was trying to clean an oven for the first time and fleeing into the living room because of the fumes from the cleaner. At least I had the help of a friend for that last year, so he got most of the exposure to the noxious chemicals. Seeing as this was going to be a solo effort this year, I wasn’t too happy about the prospect of cleaning the oven with horrible corrosive things again.  Luckily, as I found out, commercial oven cleaners are completely unnecessary. All you really need to get all of the burnt-on, blackened crust off of the oven is baking soda mixed with enough water to make a lovely paste. I just mixed batches as I went along, smeared it all inside the oven with a silicone pastry brush, left it over night, and wiped it all away with a sponge in the morning. Baking soda is my new best friend. Boo to weird and unnecessary chemical cleaners!

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The best things in life are free.

Seriously.

After only very idle searches, in the past two weeks I’ve acquired two amazing things from various garbages in the city:

1) A whole baguette and two large, clear, sealed garbage bags of different varieties of loaves of artisan bread.

2) A fully functional blender.

I’m sure there are a billion better things out there waiting to be rescued.  I charge YOU with the task of finding and posting.  Go! SALVAGE!

This caught my eye while browsing the NY Times yesterday. “Can People Have Meat and a Planet, Too?” reads the headline. In a nutshell, Andrew C. Revkin reports on the first international conference on manufacturing meat and considers the implications of our largely carnivorous ways, the growing demand for animal protein in developing parts of the world, and what vat-grown chicken nuggets could do to change all of this.

Now, this sort of talk pulls me in all kinds of directions, but I have a play to get to shortly, so forgive me for being a little binary. To put things blithely: on the one hand, I like the bragging rights that come with being a morally consistent and rational individual. I recognise that whether it’s a humble hamburger or a rib-eye steak it costs the planet more than it can really afford with so many hungry mouths to feed. And then there are the million and one other arguments for vegetarianism as a moral practice, some sound, some not so much. On the other hand, I am an ardent foodie, and so the thought of trading in flank steaks, duck breasts, sausage, and the like for in-vitro meal makes me cringe in an entirely different way. I am not a raging carnivore who demands meat with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In fact, I’d say that about 80% of my meals are quite meat-free. However, I think that my bourgeois whining has a bit of a legitimate timbre to it. Whatever else the case may be, we are parting with a grand tradition of culinary richness and wonder. The circumstances seem to be such that we can’t continue on the way that we have. I would just like to take a moment to mourn the passing of our fine but problematic old ways before deciding on how best to serve a side of vat-grown ground beef.

Hello friends.

While on the topic of fun distractions, I would like to recommend these flash based games by one Ferry Halim. They are rather delightful, and I would particularly recommend Winterbells. Do not worry, nothing bad happens to the bunny.

Everyone!  Stop writing your essays and check out Crayon Physics!  Best game ever.

(More extensive updates coming…once I have some time to breathe.)

I was doing the catering for this peace-fair/info-fest at Ottawa U and one of the guys I was cooking with discovered this:

-one block of extra firm tofu chopped into half-inch cubes

-fried in more oil than you think you need

-enough cayenne pepper to kill you

-too much salt

-a few pinches of brown sugar to taste

And fry that all up until to tofu absorbs the spices and sugars. Not to take credit, I didn’t invent this. This tofu is good in curries, fried rice, and other thing.

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Earth Hour.