Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cold Day in the Park

Squiggly Trees

A Very Slippery Path

Female Cardinal

Male Cardinal

Black-capped Chickadee of Indeterminate Gender

Probably a Tufted Titmouse (with its "rusty flanks" visible)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Hello new shoes, bye-bye blues

I have only ever owned one pair of sneakers that wasn't hideously ugly.

This is not that pair.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Purchased at REI:
2 plastic plates
1 plastic bowl
1 pot and pan set
1 emergency heat blanket
1 set of water purification tablets

REI employee: Oh, is this for Valentine's day?!

This is where ideas on romance must differ, because "Snuggle up in that space blanket, honey... Here's a nice glass of iodine water for you" just doesn't do it for me.

xoxo, Ivan

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

In Which We Find Katie P. is a Terrible Influence

Because Katie P. is all up in the comments saying "oh look, here are these maple bacon cookies. they're made of flour, butter and bacon and oh THEY LOOK DELICIOUS" I spent the day making cookies. out of bacon.

The dough was easy. The frosting simple. The Candied Bacon. Well, here's a picture of my apartment. You see the sun streaming through that window? You can see that beautiful ray because there's so much smoke in my apartment. mmmm, bacon smoke. I opened all the windows before the fire alarm went off and I ate the bacon out on the balcony. It said it was optional for the cookies so I took it to be more of an appetizer.

And I have to say-- the cookies are pretty good. A pleasant "I can eat this for breakfast because it shares ingredients with a pancake" taste.

To sum up: Maple Bacon Cookies: just as good in theory as they are in practice. You are all invited to breakfast at my house to test said theory. Please bring coffee.

Of Maple and Bacon

The scenario in which I discovered Maple Bacon Lollipops went something like this:

co-worker: what should we eat for lunch?
Ivan: I do not know, let me do some research.
co-worker (ten minutes later): we're going out for Chinese
Ivan: but I found these Maple Bacon Lollipops online and they look amazing!
co-worker (reading over shoulder): A) they do not look amazing and B) I'm not waiting 5-7 business days for lunch.

And for that quip I refused to share my lollipops with him when they did arrive.

It should be said that I take Maple very seriously. Raised in Upstate NY we have strong ties to pure sugar. As a child I was taken maple-sugaring, where you walk out to the woods, a tree is tapped, they boil the sap and serve you syrup in a tiny paper cup... it's a beautiful thing. And once I had a layover in Toronto and the first thing I did was buy a pack of maple sugar candies at duty free and then I sat down and ate them all. It is very difficult to sleep on an international flight after eating an entire box of sugar, but it was so worth it.

So the Maple Bacon Lollipops arrived and I tore in to one and frankly, the maple is sub par and the bacon is soggy and for some reason the stick fell apart and I found myself eating a lot of paper. I chalked the stick disintegration up to user error, but I tried another one and the same thing happened, so I can only assume they planned it that way and really, I'm just not that into paper pulp.

That is my review of the Maple Bacon Lollipop. To sum up:

Maple Bacon Lollipop: better in theory.

And with that being said, I sent one to Simon to get her opinion. She says it's lurking in her kitchen. I cannot wait for her review. EAT IT. EAT IT. (hedgehog peer pressure).

Monday, February 02, 2009

In Which Simon Discovers The Beetroot, Then Murders And Eats It

I had a delicious salad at The Cheesecake Factory over the weekend which involved arugula, radicchio, goat cheese, roasted asparagus, candied pecans, and beets. It was basically the best thing I've ever eaten in my life. So I decided that since it was a salad, and therefore not that compicated, I would simply reproduce it at home. The way I say that sounds like I'm now going to enumerate the fourteen ways it went horribly wrong and tell you that because of this salad I've lost the use of two limbs and can no longer do arithmetic. But the fact is, my limbs are fine, and I never could do arithmetic anyway. This salad turned out pretty well, and I can tell you, no one is more surprised than me. Please consider this conversation:

Woman at checkout: Beets. Huh. How do you cook beets?
Me: I have no idea.
Woman at checkout: Oh. Okay.

The poor woman continued to try to work out my logic for the rest of the five minutes we spent together; naturally, it was impossible for her to know how many strangers before her have also tried, and failed, in similar situations.

In fact, it turns out you can just boil beets, like basically any vegetable. However, the guidelines for boiling them are disappointingly vague. For example: what is the standard size of a beet? How do I know if my beets are "large"? Will they be done in half an hour? Or will they need 45 minutes? These are the kinds of questions that always trip me up when I'm cooking. Like the other day when I was baking banana bread in the wrong-size pan. How much less time do you cook something when it's covering more area? Is there a formula? Should I lower the temperature? Oh, if only there were some kind of book that would explain all these things to do with cooking OH YES there is and it is a called a COOKBOOK and there are BAJILLIONS of them but they all share one MAJOR FLAW and here it is: they assume a certain amount of competence that not everyone possesses, namely me. Every recipe should have a section called "Plan B" which is the part that tells you what to do if you are one of those people who never has the right size pan, or who doesn't keep pineapple juice around just in case they need a tablespoon of it to make salad dressing, or who couldn't tell a normal beet from a gargantuan beet if the gargantuan beet rolled up and squashed her.

Anyway. I boiled the beets. Maybe a little too much. (How do I know what degree of "easily" a fork should go into them?) And when they were thoroughly annoyed, I put them in a bowl of cold water to cool. And I looked down at them. And I thought, gross. That looks like a bowl of hearts.

Then I went to pick one up, and it was more slippery than I expected, and I dropped it, and it went SPLAT on the counter. And I looked at it. And I thought, that is undoubtedly one of the most off-putting vegetables I have ever seen.

Honestly. It has a tail like a rat.

The other thing about beets is that, obviously, they are red. Do you know what else is red?

Oh my god! What have I done?!

Fortunately, a dismembered beet looks lovely on a salad and tastes delicious.

Well, that's a lie. Beets are not delicious. They are peculiar in a not unpleasant way. Like a lot of people. But you should never put people in a salad. Unless it is Plan B.

Blue Streak

Over the weekend I read 65% of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and watched The Departed.

Consequently I'm having a really difficult time resisting the impulse to casually use extraordinarily bad language at work today.

I also watched The Queen, but strangely enough, prim and proper just doesn't rub off.