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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Kneadful Things

I could have titled this Check Out My Big Balls, but my better judgment won out for a change. Sort of, I guess if it had really won the fight, I wouldn't even be mentioning it.

More experimentation with pizza dough. My antique Kitchen-Aid lacks a dough hook, and the modern dough hooks won't fit the bowl, so I'm left using the paddle attachment.

Trouble is, my doughs tend to climb all the way up onto the upper housing, and it's a pain in the ass getting them back off. Super-wet doughs like Jill Santopietro's don't climb as bad as dryer doughs like Alton Brown's, but they all do it.

Except I noticed last time I made dough, cutting the recipe size down kept the dough down. I can get away, it appears, with 2 cups of flour. Which isn't quite enough to divide to make two crusts, and turns out to make a real whopper crust I can barely fit on my stone if I don't divide it.

SO, my new dough recipe requires making just enough for one pizza at a time:

1-1/3 cups bread flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. bread machine yeast
1/2 cup tepid water
Knead in the Kitchen-Aid on high for 13-15 minutes. Form into dough ball and coat with pan spray in a covered bowl, refrigerate for 24 hours to 6 days before use.

How do you know when you've kneaded your balls enough? When you can take a little pinch of it and stretch it out like a mini-pizza you can almost read through, you're there.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Now that the recipients have opened their little presents, I won't be spoiling anything by sharing this with you.

I make a calendar for my fam every year, my Mom and Dad, mainly, my brother gets one, so does the artist formerly known as Frau Lobster and her Mom.

Every year, I also observe a tradition by procrastinating until I can just barely complete the project, more often than not, I also make a big mistake.

Like last year, when I left Emily's birthday off by mistake. This on a calendar I went out of my way to put every ass-backward third tier holiday and semi-celebrity birthday on. I'll never forget her tone as she said, 'You put Horatio Alger's birthday on here but not MINE!'

I'll never live that down, even if I did make transparent labels to fix the calendars last year.

This year I was almost ready to do the bindery work when I realized I had 2009 as the year on the cover. OOPS.

I averted that disaster, though I'm sure there's something in these pages waiting to show me wanting in attention to detail. I omitted the bogus holidays this year because part of the reason I make this thing is I hate that I always forget people's birthdays, and when they're camouflaged amidst National Hot Dog Day and Ozzy Osbourne's birthday, it's still way too easy to miss something that actually matters.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day

I know it's the 26th, but this is when we were able to get together with my Dad's wing of the fam for Christmas.

And what a white Christmas it's been. I loved watching my nephew and his Mom making a snow fort out the front window while big fluffy flakes of extra snow came down.

Mo got a camera, maybe she'll quit trying to steal mine. Em got an mp3 player, and is as I write trying to figure out how to load it up with tunes.

We ate too much. And I got to play with a Wii, my first time at that. I actually made my arm sore between the bowling and the tennis.

I got pretty good at the bowling, rolled a 192, about 90 points better than I've ever done in real life. Tennis, though, I couldn't get that. I finally just started rapidly swinging back and forth because I had a higher percentage of successful volleys that way.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve at my Mo's house, fried chicken for dinner. Say what you want for Stroud's, Hayes House, etc., I'll take Mom's fried chicken any day.

I got a trainer, a device for making my bicycle into a stationary bike so I can get a workout in even if it's a blizzard out, which of course it was. I set it up after we did the Santa thing back at my house (my year for Christmas Eve, next year it'll be my turn to have Christmas morning & day with the honyocks).

The roads were more than a little dicey. As I was getting home from the office, after binding the calendars I once again procrastinated on, right as I got to the first Gardner exit traffic suddenly slowed. As I moved over to the left land to go around some cars that appeared to be trying to stop, I saw why they were trying to stop: a big fat F-150 turning sideways in the right lane of the highway. Once the traffic that got past this slowed down to 40-ish mph, traction was good enough, so I went ahead with the plan to go to Mom's.

We were about halfway to Mom's when I realized I had been nuts to head out at all, but it would have taken just as long and been just as risky to backtrack, so...

Fortunately, besides the fact I managed to pilot my way to Mom's unscathed, after the snow started falling, traction on the roads improved quite a bit and the trip home wasn't fast but it also wasn't terrifying.

The trainer, I've already used it twice. My goal was a half hour a day minimum, because I think I can do that much boredom and that'd keep a level of activity & fitness so I'm prepared when the roads are ride-able again. Both days, though, I put in movies and got absorbed in the movie, cranked for an hour before getting interrupted. Once interrupted, it was hard to get back into the flow, but I guess if I can find enough engrossing movies, maybe I can really put some quality time in on the trainer this winter, maybe even lose some weight.

Monday, December 21, 2009

All Recovery No Ride

Only two of us showed up for the Recovery Ride, and one of us thought two was too small to count as a group, and I had to kinda agree. We could have ridden the Turkey Creek Trail, but only one of us had borrowed a light bright enough to do a night trail ride.

So we graduated straight away to margaritas at Dos Reales, a sort of Monday night tradition.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sock Puppet Party & The Eyebrow Farm

Sock Puppet Theater from Chixulub on Vimeo.

I love little kids. When one of my friend's daughters came into the soiree at Tomato Town, she asked, 'What are all the pipe cleaners for?'

I could have said, 'Sock puppets,' which would have been true. Instead I told her, 'We're going to use them to clean our pipes, then we're teaching you kids to smoke.'

She didn't say anything to that.

Another friend's honyock, I've been pulling his leg about the Eyebrow Farm for months now. And doing the 'chickenbutt' thing. You know what?

He took the bait about fifty times in one day last summer, at one point throwing himself face first into the grass because he couldn't believe he'd fallen for it again.

He walked in and I said, 'You know what?'

And reflex, he said 'What?'


He glowered at me. I tried again a couple times, but just got the stink-eye.

Then, after the puppet show, he sat down by me and I said, 'You know what?'

And he said, 'What?' And then I saw his expression darken. I could totally read his four year old mind: I said 'What' to Rod again! Ugh!

And I said, 'I really liked your puppet show.'

He was bowled over. I should have tried it again and done the chickenbutt thing, but instead I asked him if he's gotten around to visiting the Eyebrow Farm yet.

He said he hadn't, and didn't believe there was one. I've told him all about how people are born without eyebrows and have to have them implanted before they leave the hospital. Most people are okay with one go, but sometimes they keep a baby at the hospital for weeks, trying repeatedly to successfully graft the eyebrows on.

The pipe cleaner kid asked me what I was talking about, so I asked her if she's ever been on a field trip to the Eyebrow Farm. She looked at me quizzically.

I said, 'You know, where they grow all the eyebrows? You don't think they just grow on faces do you?'

The party was decorated with the most amazing balloon animals, courtesy of Ted the magician. It was a great party, even aside from sock puppets and messing with little honyocks. Some people have suggested to me that Eyebrow Farm lore is torture for kids, but I say it's just the training wheels for fiat currency and fractional reserve banking. If you're going to believe in nonsense, you have to start young.

First Ride in December

After all that freakish warm weather in November, where I rode all the time, came within a dozen miles of my September total, I finally got a ride in today. With a little luck, maybe the Trek group rides tomorrow night and I get two whole rides in this month (the forecast is looking pretty crappy after tomrrow).

I was heartened that I hadn't reverted all the way to my June level of total un-fitness. I wasn't huffing and weeping on the climbs any worse than I recall doing in November. I'm pretty sure with the holiday junk food and the lack of riding, I've erased the little bit of weight loss I'd accomplished, but at least my cardio hasn't gone totally down the toilet.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Curried Sort Of Thing

I decided to play with my food tonight, just a bit. While I was grilling chicken, I got a risotto going, some caramelized onions, garlic and chicken broth cooking a mixture of purple sticky rice and brown basmati.

Then, when I had the onions in butter, I decided to add a bit of fenugreek, and then thought, what the heck, some Sambar Marsala, curry, coriander, ginger, garlic, cayenne, turmeric...

Then when it was done, I mixed in a can of coconut milk. Would have been better if I'd had some fresh curry leaves to start it with, and definitely could have stood some fresh cilantro to finish it off, but still a respectable side dish.

I tried to get my kids to try it, they thought I was auditioning them for Fear Factor.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Winter Choir Concert

Em's winter concert was last night, and despite the audience, was quite enjoyable. I saw The Road the day before, and I couldn't help thinking, it's a slippery slope: don't teach your kids to behave in a concert and the next thing you know the definition of a 'good guy' is one who doesn't eat people.

And then there's the txpo factor. I had to Google it to be sure, but the Carol of the Bells is not 'Ukranium' a term which invokes, in my imagination, sexy but nerdy college women from Central Europe...