Saturday, January 22, 2011

Platonic forms

I've been searching for the ideal dessert. I like to believe that I'll know it when I eat it, so I figure I'll just make lots of desserts and see what pleases me the most. So far, the front runners include my standard strawberry tart, grapefruit cassis, and macarons. (I find La Boulangerie's to be the best in Chicago that I've tasted so far.)

Last week I saw Giada making angel food cake. It seemed like a nice, light dessert, so I tried it out. I like angel food cake because it involves lots of egg whites and sugar, like marcarons, but the yogurt honey sauce didn't seem to go all that well with the cake. I added fruits for garnish (blackberries one day, cara cara oranges the next at my parents'), but this didn't add or take away from the cake. Basically, while it wasn't bad, I will never make this again.

Next up: Ina Garten's coconut cupcakes. I really want cream cheese! I wonder how it will fare in comparison to Emily's frosting.

Unrelated to my desserts, but I guess it's a kind of dessert, or snack, is cotton candy, now apparently available on campus. Seriously? In January? It sells? Is class at UIC now like attending a sporting event?

Sleeping princess; sleeping fools
Certain corners of the Internet are in great debates about raising children. (Don't forget this take on the story.) What I find interesting about all of this is how in many ways, the discussion parallels dog training. Do you praise your children and let them be picky eaters; do you train dogs exclusively through positive reinforcement like Victoria Stilwell? Or do you call your kids garbage and make them practice piano without bathroom breaks; do you make your dog submit to you or expend their energy on treadmills like Cesar Millan? My mom let me be a picky eater and showered me with praises, but at the same time, a lot of Amy Chua's explanations in her WSJ excerpt made sense to me (and why it might not make as much sense to "Western" parents). And likewise, positive training works well with Mitsu, but with nipping/mouthing/biting, merely walking away and ignoring her briefly does not seem to cut it. I try to teach her "kisses" by rewarding her for licking my hand, but this process is usually preceded by unpleasant biting. How do I know she's not learning to bite, then wait for "kisses" command to receive treats? Puppy, please.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Roast puppy de cassis

Today Wendy DeCarlo came to our house for some puppy consultation. We have books and cable TV, which all let us know that we aren't horrible dog-parents or that Mitsu is a she-devil. But all of that provides only general information--even the Shiba Inu book--so we wanted a trainer to meet her and assess our particular situation. I don't want to be one of those parents who brag about their dogs and children, but I think she did pretty good today. It helps that she came to us crate-trained by the breeders, and that she naturally has an outgoing and confident personality. The more I think about it, the more it seems like Poo Monster Dud exhibited more skittish behavior--"I see you but I don't really feel like acknowledging you"--whereas Mitsu was much more willingly interactive with us when we hung out with the two pups in the breeder's living room.

This evening, Mordecai and I made roast chicken. It wasn't difficult! It helped that the Food Network posted Ina Garten's roast chicken episode on YouTube. This was our first time, so our chicken-carving skills are pretty non-existent, and the bed of vegetables was more like jail-cell-bed than Ritz-Carlton bed so most of them overcooked. I wish there was a way to practice cutting chicken without actually using meat. (...Is there?) Dessert came from a recipe in Maida Heatter's book, which was the super easy grapefruit and crème de cassis with a little bit of honey (above). I don't know what it is about it--it's like raspberry and grape combined?--but cassis is one of my all time favorite flavors ever. It makes me feel nostalgic, but I don't know for what. Like I grew up with it. Or maybe I was a little black currant in my past life.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Best of 2010

I don't know if I have any resolutions for this year except to continue ones from last year--wake up early (now mandatory with the puppy, but then naps-with-puppy become a problem); maintain healthy hair, nails, skin. And then there's some usual stuff, but it's probably more "grow the eff up" than resolutions, like be productive, clean the house, cook more often, spend wisely, and so on. One thing I do know is that I didn't go berserk for baseball in 2010, so I'd like to return to 2009-style passion for 2011 baseball. Anyway, like I did last year, here are my reflections on 2010.

Personal Best of 2010

Book: Axel Honneth, "Struggle for Recognition" & Thomas Harris, "Silence of the Lambs"

Album: Kylie Minogue, "Aphrodite"

Place visited: Yokohama, Japan & Vandalia, Ohio

Meal cooked: Pork-ginger-miso dish from Orange Page, the Japanese equivalent of "Real Simple"

Movie: Nodame Cantabile: The Final Score, parts 1 & 2

Article read: Stanley Cavell, "Knowing and Acknowledging" & "Avoidance of Love"

Information learned: Various things about owning a home and a dog, including how common it is to improperly care for both of these things

Quote discovered: I don't really have a favorite quote from this year. Basically, I find inspiration in any philosopher (i.e., Stanley Cavell) who criticizes parts of mainstream analytic philosophy (i.e. an overemphasis on rationality and science at the expense of the self) that I find strange (i.e., the quote from last year will do).

Item Bought: Honda Fit, house, Mitsu

Honorable Mentions: Reduced access to Facebook by about 99% from previous years; reduced spending on clothes and shoes significantly (only to spend them on Japan, the house, and Mitsu); increased interest in some classical music; MET LORD MIGGY