Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I've accepted the party line.

I didn't want to be like every other blogger on the planet (see great big list of blogs about bread ) but there is no avoiding the topic of "New York Times No-Knead Bread." This is the yummiest bread. Ever. That you can bake yourself.

A baking-crazy cousin sent me the link and I thought, "Yeah, yeah, Styling with Renee Michelle does not follow the trends, she makes the trends." (I always like to think of myself in the third person like that.) So I ignored it. But then someone I worked with, someone who hates the precision of baking, also recommended it as well. So I tried it, and really is oh-so-yummy.

The no-knead part is nice, but I have a mixer I always command to do that job. But because the dough is so wet, and because the bread is baked in a closed container for most of the time, it gets this incredibly shatteringly-crispy crust. In fact, this crust probably shouldn't be given to small children who could injure themselves. But that's okay, because it just means there's more for you.

So, here's the recipe. Try it.

(Oh, and is everyone impressed with my new ability to link? This is pretty fancy stuff for someone like little ole me.)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Such a scene of destruction

Yesterday we had a blizzard, or the closest thing to it that visits Maryland. We got six inches of snow. (Please note the tongue in cheek. I am from Minnesota, after all, and, yes, I know what blizzards really are.) With such a large amount of snow, many people took the opportunity to build snowmen. However, since we are, for most purposes, actually in the south, people here do not have a lot of experience with snowmen and apparently the engineering principles are not as intuitive as one might have thought. So as I walked to school today I felt like I was walking through the scene of a terrible snowperson accident, surrounded as I was by fallen snow forms, snow boulders, and flailing stick arms.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Beets and Bolts

So, in case you were wondering, the birthday dinner that involved beets and chocolate went as follows: Crackers with tapenade and brie, a pasta salad with beets, eggs, cucumbers, and cheddar cheese, and chocolate cheesecake. These foods in no way went together, except under the heading, "Foods Andrew Really Likes." I'm particularly embarrassed about the beet pasta salad, which (I know, I know) just sounds revolting. I invented it when we needed some food for a car trip but we had pretty much cleaned out the fridge. Hence the beets, cheese, and eggs, and the curious dearth of vegetables. But Andrew talked about that pasta salad for months, so how could I not make it for him? (Especially when it meant I could avoid making him meat, which technically I had offered to make, but really didn't want to).

The evening turned out to be a great success, as the food was preceded by the presentation of the bolts...

Followed by the unwrapping of the torque wrench...
God bless you, Harbor Freight. You made gift-giving a breeze.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Snow (Half) Day!

Yeah! School will close at 2pm today! Why does this make me so happy? I don't teach or have class this afternoon (although I will miss a meeting) and I'm a grad student so technically (and it is actually the case) I should be working all the time, whether I'm at school, at home, there's a blizzard, or the Second Coming arrives. I remember, during my first year in grad school, we all rejoiced when a hurricane hit and closed school, because it meant we could all get together and do homework all day.

However, it is Andrew's birthday, so I may end up taking off part of the day. He will have to do homework all afternoon, but I have preparations to undertake. Secret preparations involving chocolate and, well, beets. I'll fill you in afterwards.

In other news, I had a sort-of dinner party on Saturday, a tradition in which a bunch of friends get together and make food. Our previous filled-foods parties have produced wontons, raviolis, and gnocci (not technically a filled-food but grandfathered in under the clause "still a hell of a lot of work to make"). This time we made Cornish pasties, to spectacularly disasterous results. I'll leave out the details, not because I want to spare you, but because my camerawoman will post a video with all the sordid pastry. I did make a trifle according to Andrew's mother's recipe and it was quite yummy. Remarked one guest, "Who knew jello and whipped cream could go so well together?" (Clearly she did not grow up in the Midwest.)

Happy Snow Day to you!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

New Haircut Alert!

My attempt to look like a certain Trill, whom Andrew finds rather cute.

Nose to the Grindstone

I think this year will be the year of research for me. This semester is the first in grad school in which I'm taking no classes. I'm teaching part time, but other than that I can fully focus on my research. And I rejoice in this work. Finally, I'm doing what I came here to do.

I won't bore you with the details, because it take a fair amount of explaining to tell people what I do. If I'm very brief, and say, "Oh, I study how people learn physics and how to teach it better," they're all complimentary and think this is commendable subject (i.e. everyone hates physics, so certainly there's room for improvement). However, if I give them a bit more detail, their expressions change to something that says, "People get paid to do that?" It takes even more explaining before they're convinced again that there's some merit in what I do.

So, I will simply say that I had two very productive days of meetings this week, where I learned a lot and people gave me lots of feedback on my work. I'm working on two different projects this semester, which means that if something terrible happens (i.e. we get no publishable results - the worst thing that can happen in academia) I always have a backup project. However, I'm learning that adept researchers can always turn a null result into, "Look, changing this causes no effect! Wow-wee!" (Frantic pointing to distract from otherwise less-than-exciting results.)

In a blogging note, does anyone who blogs have any advice on how to post links to other blogs on the side of mine? I've been failing miserably for the past few weeks, and could use some help.