Not a Post About Books

So I spent the first half of this week at a convention for work called Computers in Libraries. It was an interesting time with some excellent presentations dampened only slightly by the reminder of how utterly and completely terrible I am at introducing myself to strangers even when we likely share the same professional background. Now, while I definitely love my genre fiction two of my other favorite pass times involve food and beer. Being in a new city, or at least a place where I don’t actually live, means that I get to try a bunch of local food.

The convention was held in Washington D.C. at the Washington Hilton roughly half a mile from the DuPont Circle metro station. I knew during the first morning walk to the convention that most of the places along Connecticut Ave. were either outside my budget (particularly the more local eateries) or were chain restaurants. Furthermore, the D.C. Metro isn’t really a fan of bringing drinks on the train so I had to find coffee in the morning. While there were like eight Starbucks in the half-mile to the hotel I decided I wanted avoid Starbucks in favor a more local business.

Continue reading “Not a Post About Books”

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The King in the Kitchen

Little fact people don’t really know about me: I like to cook.  Though, if you saw me in the kitchen you probably think I was there under duress given the rather prominent scowl you’d see on my face.  I might like cooking but I don’t always find it relaxing; at least when I’m cooking for people other than myself.  I’ve tried a few new things in the kitchen the last few weeks that I thought I’d share (NO! Not that! Get your minds out of the gutter!)

Last weekend it was a recipe from La Tartine Gourimand that I found via Serious Eats: Cocunut Milk Mussel Soup.  It isn’t a cheap dish to make, though most of its price is a result of the safron and the mussels.  Truth be told I was hoping for a bit of a bolder flaver than what I got but overall it was rather tasty and while I won’t claim the pictures on the site represent my final product they aren’t as far off as I’d feared.  It is a damned attractive and really tasty dish to make that while a bit time consuming (the de-shelling of 2/3 of the mussels the main hitch) certainly worth a try.  In the future I’d consider forgoing the safron and going for a bit of a Thai blend, perhaps replacing the thyme or shallot with lemongrass and the safron with some green or red curry paste.  In truth it might come off as a bit more like a traditional thai curry but might be worth a try, regardless.

I also made sliders.  My first attempt was a near disaster.  I don’t recommend fitting a square paninni press (from Pampered Chef) into a round pan then covering it to produce steam.  Getting to my burgers involved a hammer and a screwdriver.  I did manage to save both the pan, press, and burgers so all was well.  They were damn tasty too!  I would have preferred an iron skillet…but couldn’t find mine.  I’m of the opinion that 80% lean chuck makes some damned fine burgers; especially of the “griddle” variety.  I also carmelized some onions to top off the burgers.  I tried both Pepperidge Farms dinner rolls and Martin’s dinner rolls.  Both worked well but I think I preferred the slightly larger Pepperidge Farms rolls.  Also, the second time I made them I skipped the steaming process which, truth be told, I’d like to try again.  Next time around I’ll be sure to try for the iron skillet.  Also, I fully admit that this meal lacks in nutritional value but is both easy AND delicious so you health nuts can go screw yourselves.

I also made the tried and true grilled cheese via Tyler Florence. I highly recommend that recipe and will ad that Vermont Bread Company’s unbleached white is the way to go in pre-sliced store bought bread department.

Last but not least on friday I tried the omlette recipe over here, though I made the recommended switch to goat cheese and was pleased with the results.

In vitro chicken-meat…?

Science allows us to do plenty of cool and creepy things.  But whether you’re into weird science for resurrecting extinct species or just to grow ears on the backs of mice, PETA wants you to know that they’ve one-upped you.

PETA is offering a $1 million prize to the contest participant able to make the first in vitro chicken meat and sell it to the public by June 30, 2012. The contestant must do both of the following:

• Produce an in vitro chicken-meat product that has a taste and texture indistinguishable from real chicken flesh to non-meat-eaters and meat-eaters alike.
• Manufacture the approved product in large enough quantities to be sold commercially, and successfully sell it at a competitive price in at least 10 states.

First off, I would like to salute PETA on this. Usually they strike me as militant dolts, but the phrase “in vitro meat” is a stroke of brilliance. The idea itself is doomed to failure at the moment though. Many vegetarians won’t eat the meat because “animal cruelty” is not their primary reason for being vegetarian in the first place. And the number that do switch over to eating in vitro meat will probably be offset by people who are scared or weirded out by the concept itself and refuse to eat it. Plus, even if they can get people to eat it, there’s still the problem of cost. The amount of R&D needed to grow edible tissues in culture will be astronomical (and the $1 million prize is likely a laughable drop in the bucket). All of that money will be reflected in the price of the meat and realistically, crazy organic-loving hippies aside, there’s probably not a huge market for bizarre pseudo-chicken that costs more than regular chicken.

UPDATE:

Upon seeing this I immediately thought of an episode of Sci-fi Channel’s blissfully goofy Eureka.  It took me a while to find the info but a blog over at tvguide by pgoody had a succinct summary of what I remember:

With that crisis averted, Jack turns his attention to the “dumb virus” and soon deduces that all the dummies all ate chicken at Café Diem. After investigating the chicken farm, Jack finds out that the chicken farmer doesn’t want to kill birds so she uses stem-cell technology to grow independent chicken parts (yummy?). The cloned chicken parts, while organic, causes some chemical reaction that makes people who eat them stupid. A vegetarian doctor, who kept her smarts, develops the antidote, and all goes back to “normal” at GD.

Episode was from Season 2 called “E=MC…?” Not that I expect anything of the sort to happen in real life but it reminded me of that whole fiction to reality surealness I posted about earlier.

-Mike