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2013.01.14: "Sure. Fine. Whatever."

Monday, January 14, 2013

Yesterday's television and today's movie, some food from two days, and a little shopping.

I.

Last evening we got to the next episode of 'Dollhouse,' though we had thought of holding off on our television rotation; both of us were in to our respective books, and for me that was "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore," which was recommended forcefully enough to me Sunday afternoon that I decided to jump right to it.

Anyway, 'Dollhouse.' Topher induces lactation and maternal bonding through brain fiddling ... with near diastrous results. Too much Echo, no Boyd or Saunders, and too little Victor and Sierra. That about sums it up. But the next episode promises another 'BSG' crossover, I believe.

Before that we had "Syzygy" in 'The X-Files' ... an episode I'm a bit iffy about. Our 17-yr-old HS cheerleaders look more like late-20s actresses. It's post-Buffy-the-movie and "Clueless" but pre-Buffy-the-TV-series ... which is worth noting for how badly Carter captures any sense of who these teenagers might be as people. It's another episode, just after our dung eaters, in which Mulder has a romantic encounter of sorts ... there it was foiled, despite his interest, whereas here it was a bit one-sided the other direction. Ms. S. was not happy with Mulder's attitude, or Scully's for that matter, early on, but eventually the plot and theme of the episode shone through, illuminating why everyone was behaving so strangely and contra-character ... it wasn't bad writing: it was good writing.

Sure. Fine. Whatever.

And this afternoon we headed to a noon showing of "Django Unchained." We're both Tarantino fans, but I left satisfied and only mildly conflicted, whereas Ms. S. labeled it her greatest recent cinematic disappointment. In particular she panned the constumes and, more to the point, the fabrics and collars. I suspect there were unintentional anachronisms and other 'errors,' but I think that other choices may have been deliberate. This is the first Tarantino film to include a good deal of what we might call 'contemporary' music vs. 'retro,' another conscious decision. We both bemoan the loss of Sally, Quentin's editor over so many films, and her deft touch may have helped and tightened, especially as the movie progressed and threatened to drag.

But before I provide a more lasting judgment I'll probably want to watch it again. And perhaps again. I do not have an instant love for it the way I did with "Kill Bill" or even "Inglourious Basterds." But I see something fascinating in the performances, arcs, and writing. Ms. S. may feel similarly later; I will not blame her reaction on how little sleep she got last night, as that would be unfair to her, but I think she'll eventually admit that it may have affected her viewing experience. She went to bed around 2, slept soundly for a couple hours, but after that found herself wide wake and unable to return to slumber.

II.

Last evening we enjoyed a package -- 2 each -- of Gardein's "Ultimate Beefless Sliders". To microwave, separate the patty from the bun, wrap the patty in a paper towel and microwave about 80 seconds. Then reassemble and microwave upside down another 40 seconds. We nuked all four at once, and for the secound round went for 47 seconds.

Because I like 47.

We decorated mainly with mustards of various sorts.

They went down easily and tastily, and when I think of 'cheap hamburgers' I am at a loss as to why I should buy 'real' burgers anymore. I think of it this way: on the 'down side' Gardein's slider tastes more or less like any other cheap slider; that is, it imitates its target rather well, and it doesn't taste any meatier or any veggier than its inspiration. But this is not much of a down side, as it's lower in saturated fat, cholesterol and the like. If I want a slider, it's the healthier option; if I want a cheap burger, a veggie burger tastes the same and is a healthier alternative. If, on the other hand, I want the tastiest burger I can get, I want to buy a pound of locally raised, grass-fed organic beef or similar, I want to make 5oz patties seasoned with kosher salt, and I want to cook them medium-rare in my cast iron skillet or on a grill. If I can't have that quality of burger, I have little reason to eat beef.

As for the accompaniments ... juicy dill pickles and oven fries.

Ah, the oven fries. I've tried various ways -- techniques and recipes -- for getting them crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, with just enough oil but not so much as to make them oily. And the solution comes by way of 'Cooks Illustrated', so I read. I modified it for my kitchen and such.

Take your baking potato, wash it, and slice it into fries about a half-inch per side. Add to a big bowl with a little salt, several tablespoons of (cider) vinegar, and cover with hot water. Let soak about half an hour. The acid helps prevent browning, I think, and the water will take away some starch.

Preheat the oven to 475F.

Drain the fries and dry thoroughly with a paper towel or two. Then toss lightly in oil and add to a lightly-greased pan. Sprinkle with salt or paprika if you wish, for example. Then wrap in foil and cook 5 minutes. Remove top foil and cook another 10 minutes. They should be starting to brown on the bottoms. Then turn/flip, and cook another 15 minutes. At this point they should be about done, but if they need to brown any longer, turn again and cook another 5 or so minutes.

These fries were perfect and perhaps the best oven fries I've yet made for Ms. S. They go great with mustard, of course.

I made a potato into fries for her and sampled a few, but baked a sweet potato for myself.

Today I stuck an ounce of white wheat berries (soft, I believe, based on how they're cooking) in a cup of water and set them aside around 10am. This evening around 5:30 I drained them and added them to a pot with a little salt and pepper and let them simmer the past hour and a half. They're nicely chewing now with just the right amount of squeaky resistance. Ms. S., in contrast, will have brown rice, as neither barley nor wheat berries tend to tempt her. We have lightly-breaded (flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, paprika, cornmeal, bread crumbs) squares of tofu finishing now in the oven along with some roasted carrots and lentils. It's been a cool, rainy day and the food should be warming, filling, nicely seasoned, and healthful.

III.

After "Django" we hopped on Greensboro and took a quick trip to the "Asian Market" we discovered online a couple days ago. Ms. S. was looking for azuki beans and a particular kind of noodle. I just wanted to browse.

I just had to pick up a bag of dried red dates ... dried fruit, people, dried fruit! Delicious. Dates were someting I did not like as a kid, probably because they looked either like raisins or prunes, both of which were familiar and pleasant to me, but dates did not taste like them ... I felt I was being tricked. The same thing happened with zucchini, which one day replaced cucumbers in our elementary school. The slices looked like cucumbers so I put them in my mouth and promptly spit them out again, disgusted. I, of course, liked zucchini bread and muffins, etc. But I wouldn't touch the squash on its own for years and years because of that deception and association. Anyway: dates. Delicious.

They also had packets of 'Thai Tea' drink ... a powder to which you add hot water as you would hot chocolate. 150 calories of sugar and a little fat. And it tastes not unlike but not exactly like Thai Iced-Tea. It's a treat.

I had one when we got home.

I'll return some other, less rainy day, perhaps on my own so I can just browse.

Tonight? Perhaps more 'X-Files' before Ms. S. goes to work.
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