Monthly Archives: June 2013
Hey, guess what! June favorites happened! On the blog, they are here: June 2013 favorites.
My vlogged favorites are HERE. It’s a bit of a longer video than I was intending but I wanted to do a little introduction about my favorites-listing methods first. It’s still just over 10 minutes, so it won’t take you that long.
Guys! I talk about different favorites on my youtube channel and the favorites section of this blog! Why? Well, because I can, for one. Also, it’s more interesting that way.
…So, I began this post in the morning just before I went to work. I didn’t have time to write any more at the time. I had a lot of thoughts that I could have related but now I can’t remember a single one of them.
I went to Cafenation at least three times this week.
All of my commutes have been failing lately. I need to eliminate this commute.
I’m ready for a very un-motivated Friday night. If I get something done, that’s great. If not, who cares. But I do have some vegetables that need to get used, so I think I’m going to make a frittata.
Or, something that approximates a frittata. I doubt it will be authentic.
This is the breakfast I got to have to reward myself for getting out to vote early enough to actually have time for breakfast afterward.
At Cafenation in Brighton. I ordered the Spanish Sunrise omelet, stuffed full of beans and cheese and a delicious salsa fresca. There was cilantro in my eggs! Perfect! It came with nicely ripe melon and a stack of buttered Iggy’s toast. I was so happy about the toast–so often when your breakfast comes with toast, they fail both to avoid burning it and to put the butter on before it’s cooled off too much to melt it. Cafenation, doing toast right! I almost never get to have this type of breakfast on a weekday.
And of course, an iced coffee because it’s a hot day! I considered chai, but coffee mornings are most wonderful. But if you don’t like coffee, Cafenation has really good iced tea, including one of their summer drinks, Thai iced tea (which I just have to get a few times every summer, it’s delicious but very sweet).
They also had tons of day old bread available, so I got one bag of baked goods (the scone will be either a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack) and one of ciabatta rolls. They aren’t hard at all! I love when the day old bread is still fresh and soft.
That’s my breakfast spiel. Did you vote? Did you have a nice breakfast? Are you thinking about iced coffee and/or tea? I need to know!
**By the way, that out-of-place clothing tag on the table is actually my bookmark.
I went on vacation last week. Weird, right? I know. That’s why I missed Monday Madness. It turned out the ship’s “internet cafe” wasn’t free. I don’t know why I thought it would be. And just about everything surrounding vacation has been stressful, so I kinda don’t think I should go on vacation ever again. Not that I didn’t have fun, because I did. But my back started hurting on vacation (the first morning!) and it hasn’t done too well at stopping.
I am almost out of coffee. I will definitely need more of that.
Voting day is tomorrow (in Massachusetts). The plan: wake up early, get ready, leave the house before 7, get out early, be at work on time. More likely: leave house slightly after 7, have to stand in line for 2 hours, be late for work. Going after work sucks because my commute is an hour long, so I can’t get there until 6 at the earliest. I’d rather go in the morning or NOT AT ALL.
I am going to do a post all about my trip, so I’m not going to go into the details right now. I am hoping I’ll get that done in the next few days. I made a back-from-vacation vlog, which you can see right here. I love how I talk as if people watch my channel and are expecting videos from me. No one watches my channel. I could have just waited. But I like to ramble at my camera and then let people watch it, because that is in no way embarrassing.
Soon, I will start making more focused and interesting videos. Videos about writing will start soon. Really.
Anyone else hate commuting so, so much?
I returned from my cruise today! …to find that WordPress has been updating the site. I’ll have to see what I think about this as I continue to make more posts. I took a few pictures and videos on my trip, so I’ll have to do an experience post about the cruise and see if I can make a watchable youtube video with what I have. I will probably do that this weekend or sometime next week.
I need to say that this is NOT a relaxing Thursday right now. I wanted to get home and have some nice peaceful relaxation time, and I have to deal with some loud event happening at the school near my house. And I mean LOUD. With too many screaming children.
I’m also kind of in pain for some reason or other. I have all kinds of sore muscles and my lower back is bothering me right now. I don’t really know why. I went out to CVS because I am all out of ibuprofen, and I needed to get some melatonin as well because I have not been able to sleep well most nights lately.
CVS has rarely been a nice experience in the last several years. Today, I had people crowding me in the aisles, a bunch of stockroom stuff piled up right in front of the shelves I needed to get to, and a group of loud kids showing up at the checkout lane as I was waiting for “assistance” that should not have been necessary. (I don’t even know why they have self checkout there.) Plus, the machine refused my dollar off pain relief coupon. I didn’t feel like taking the time to complain about it.
Whole foods was not so bad. Middle of the afternoon on a weekday, apparently, is when you need to get there in order to avoid the crowds.
Having just returned from shopping, I once again have to deal with the constant stream of video game noises from downstairs. I really should work on cleaning my room and unpacking, but all I want to do is lie down and not give a f#@! until I absolutely have to (tomorrow morning).
I’m going to try to find something online that will make me smile and avoid my chores until Saturday, I think.
My most recent anti-recipe dinner was chicken tikka masala. I have actually made this several times in the past and I have a method that I really like. It’s very easy, and I bet you could do it too. I am going to try to describe things in a way that lets you copy the method, even though I don’t have a recipe. I bet it would also be really good with shrimp or just veggies, if you want a meatless version.
The first thing you should know is that I do not make it from scratch. I have no idea how you would do that. I buy the sauce in a jar, usually from Trader Joe’s, but you can often find some version in the “world” sections of any regular grocery store. In just a minute, you’ll see a picture of the one I used this time.
I really like to play up the coconut flavor in the dish, so I add coconut milk. I combine one whole can with the whole jar of tikka masala sauce.
These were the ones I worked with for this particular go at the dish. For this purpose, I really think that any can of coconut milk will do, so go ahead and get the cheap one. Alternatively, I think it says the can contains 14 oz of coconut milk, so you can figure out how to measure that out. You can also add less, if you don’t want it to be quite so heavy on the coconut, or MORE if you just can’t get enough.
I have in the past added minced or diced garlic to the sauce as well, but I didn’t this time.
So, because I had an onion left over from making chili, I decided I would add some sliced onion this time. I cooked them up in some canola or olive oil (I can’t remember) first, to make them less onion-y. Once they had been simmering a while, and a few started to brown, I tossed the chicken in the pan.
The chicken should be cooked before you add the sauce. However, since you’re going to simmer it all for a while, it doesn’t have to be fully cooked. Just so that it’s not still pink and raw… if you make this with the onions, you don’t have to keep them separate from the chicken like that. It’s just something I do.
When the outside of the chicken is no longer pink, that’s when I add the sauce. All you do it pour it over and then stir it together. It’s very very simple. Be careful when pouring, because there’s definitely a possibility of staining if you happen to splash.
To try something different, I thought I would add some more vegetables to it. I added an entire bag of frozen peas with pearl onions. It was very pea-heavy. If you wanted a smaller peas-sauce ratio, half the bag would probably do. Or you can just make it a judgment call.
At this point, I cover and simmer the whole pan for at least 30 minutes. Generally no more than 45.
The pan I used here is a very large, Cuisinart cooking skillet. If you don’t have a pan like this with high sides, then you should use a pot instead. You want to make sure it’s a container that will actually hold the sauce and that you can cover easily (because no one wants to struggle to cover their pans while they’re trying to cook. It’s just not fun).
When it’s cooked long enough to be sure the chicken is cooked through and all vegetables you put in are cooked, that’s it. You’re done. In fact, I probably cook it longer than I need to. I bet 20 minutes would be fine. You don’t want to cook it too long, because then the chicken will start to get dry.
So then you just serve it up and eat.
Here it is just after cooking, over jasmine rice. Tikka masala has enough flavor that I didn’t want to do anything fancy with the rice. I put a little bit of butter into the water as it boiled, but otherwise the rice is just plain. Jasmine rice is my favorite and definitely my vote for pairing with tikka masala. Basmati rice would also be good.
And that’s all! It really is very easy to do, and you can experiment with any add-ins you’d like. It takes a little bit of time, but not all that much effort. Also makes great leftovers, tastes exactly the same warmed up the next day.
Aaagh, 2 days, seriously? It’s so soon! I am experiencing that thing where it’s the last day before a break so I really don’t want to do anything, but the one important task I need to finish before I leave did not actually get completed yesterday. Why do manuscripts have to be so long? … So I’ve got to get down to business and finish that today, and then do as much of the next manuscript as I can. STRESS. Plus, I really need to clean my room, but I don’t think I’ll have time…
I’m going to have to make SURE I relax and enjoy myself for this vacation, because preparing to go on vacation is so stressful. Does this count as irony? Probably not. But it seems like it should.
I had the last of my leftover tikka masala for breakfast. Hey, if you can have breakfast for dinner, then dinner for breakfast is also acceptable. That’s what I say. Tonight or tomorrow I’ll be putting up a non-recipe post about it. I have some good-ish pictures.
As much as I would like to blog all day, I should really get this work done. So…
Look to the right. Did your eyes leave the computer screen? You looked too far. I meant just to the right of the post, where there’s a countdown to my vacation. Yes, I have one week of work left before I’m off! I leave on Sunday and return Thursday. I will be at work on Friday, but I’ll be out for almost a whole week.
Which really means that I’m crazily trying to get as much done at work and home as possible before I go, so that I’m not hit with huge piles of stuff to do when I get back from vacation. No one wants that.
They’re supposed to have a sort of cruise-ship version of an internet cafe, so I might be able to do my usual Monday Madness post and maybe update with some pictures along the way, but I won’t guarantee that. So, if you don’t get any madness next Monday, you’ll know why!
I’m going to have to choose my vacation reading soon. …so many books, so little time.
. . .
Now an update from my last Monday Madness–I put my first video on youtube, under the account norecipewriter. It is available for viewing and you can watch it here, if you want to see me introduce myself and my channel:
Filming was difficult in the sense that I don’t have a real camera, or a good place to set up my phone, and my phone’s camcorder mode automatically stops at 10 minutes. Which I guess is a good thing, as I’ve clearly gone on too long if I’m still going when it shuts off. Then, of course, the picture quality kind of sucks because my phone camera is not very good.
I was pretty nervous when I sat down to do it. I had written down a list of things I wanted to talk about, but I kept stumbling over my words and I completely lost my momentum when I talked over the 10 minutes my phone gives me and had to start a new video. I did end up with some fabulous outtakes, though, which you might see at some point when I have gotten a little better at editing. My do-over went much better, as I’d gotten most of the nerves out, and I managed to talk for only about 7 minutes. I just snipped the ends a bit, figuring I would edit more next time, if necessary.
Editing was another problem (of course it was). Ok, just to be clear, I was already aware that editing is difficult. I played around with making a video or two when I was in college, with clips from tv shows of course (because I’m a geek). What I really did not count on was that my computer was unable to open the files I recorded with the usual windows programs I use. I decided to go online to find an editing program I could download. The first one waited until I was at the saving point to tell me that with the free version of the program, they would put a watermark on the video. I tried it anyway, and it turned out to be situated right across my eyes. I tried a second one, which seems to be a little better, and at least didn’t leave a watermark. That is the one that ended up being the final version.
I like that youtube has some editing options right on the site, so you can tweak the video after uploading. That’s a cool feature that I do not remember from my days of making geeky mvs.
I will be playing around with my current equipment and software to try to make cooler videos. I would love to find a reliable editing software that I can get for free or at least that is inexpensive, and I would LOVE some recommendations, as this stuff is all new to me and I don’t know how to tell which programs will be really good. Ideally, I would like to get a real camera (not a super-nice one, just a regular digital camera that actually works is all I’d be expecting) and a nicer computer, but both of those are out of my reach for now.
My aims for now are: keeping my videos under 10 minutes, posting at least 1 video a week, and learning how to edit to make them a little more polished. And maybe coming up with an intro, but I don’t think I’ll worry too much about that. If I could animate I would have a really cool one, but I can’t animate.
So that’s my experience as I started vlogging. It was very stressful when I thought I wouldn’t be able to edit the videos I had made, and would have to re-record it, but it turned out ok. As I’ve seen some other vloggers mention, you shouldn’t expect your first videos to be great. I’m just going to try my best and hope some people out there find me interesting, or endearing, or fun to make fun of, or something.
Wait long enough, someone else will take your idea… (not “steal,” but “have the same one and actually follow through with it”)
I have been thinking for quite a while of doing a “Coffee Guide to Boston,” which would entail me talking about favorite cafes in different neighborhoods. I guess I would go about mine a little differently, but it’s still basically the same idea. 😦 No fair. But I haven’t been to most of these. I’d like to try out Voltage — it’s on the Scoutmob app right now.
When I find places where I can get a cappuccino or latte that tastes as good as any café crème I had in Paris, I want to tell the world! And if it looks as good as the ones I used to have at Cafeotheque that’s an even better reason to share it.
While this list is only just beginning, I figured I would share where you can find a great cup of coffee in and around Boston. This list is still a work-in-progress!
A couple of blocks away from MIT, this cafe has been written up time and time again for its excellence in coffee. And from the many times I’ve been there, it does not disappoint. And although the people working there could have been snooty about their coffee and looked down on someone like me who was asking questions, they were the exact opposite: incredibly…
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So, the news today might be evidence of actual madness, because, oh my god. I just created a new Youtube account with the intent of starting a vlog. I have been contemplating vlogging for a while, going back and forth between “that looks like fun/ it can’t be that hard, tons of people do it” to “who the hell wants to watch me talking at a camera? I don’t have a particularly interesting personality.” I know plenty of people will say they disagree with that last bit, yet I’m still on my own most of the time, so I don’t really know what to think about that. I don’t have a “thing” that would make my channel particularly interesting, I just have me.
I don’t want to vlog if no one’s going to watch the videos, because that’s going to be a lot of effort put into filming and editing that will feel wasted if no one sees them. The best thing to do, I guess, will be to approach it like I do with blogging–just make the videos I want to make, and hope that other people will like them, because if you aren’t doing it for yourself, then no one else is going to be interested.
The idea is a no-recipe vlog–that is, it will combine all of the content from this blog and Between Worlds. I will talk about writing, food, books, shopping (although I’ll try to refrain from hauls for the most part), clothing, and general life experiences. And whatever I want because that’s how we do down in the land of no recipes…
The reason it really seems like madness is twofold, both of those folds related to putting myself out there in that way. For one, I don’t like broadcasting my private life on the internet, which is why there are so many things I don’t post on facebook or on my blogs. So I’ll have to be careful about what gets revealed on the vlog. The second thing is all about my many insecurities and the potential to be rejected by literally EVERYONE in the world (who has access to Youtube). I would say more about that, but… it seems pretty self-explanatory.
I also have no idea how the hell I’ll ever be able to film a cooking video. I don’t have anyone I could coerce into helping me film, and my kitchen isn’t really set up so that I would be able to position my camera… anywhere, and actually catch the relevant action. And I can’t just cook with one hand. So until I can get some actual filming equipment (which might be never), that probably won’t happen.
I’m going to try to do video #1 in the next week or so, and it will probably be a general introducing myself video. And I guess we’ll see?
(…Oh, god. Why am I doing this?)