The Spot; Happy Halloween!  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in ,

I posted pictures of our house that were outdated before. Now once again, I will post pictures of our place that are not what it currently looks like. But here's Apartment 1112, 2.0:

The futon has been flattened fairly permanently; we got two body pillows from Costco named Barrette and Estl-ie. We also cut up a really old book about Hong Kong (I doubt monthly rent is still $2 American!!) and hung the pictures on construction paper.

Here's one view from the futon, looking towards our bookshelf. Constructed out of three milk crates, a Costco box, and a desk that we never used, we now have access to all our previously-boxed books, movies, and CDs from here, along with mailing supplies, file folders, and "random paper aggregators". You can also see the lovely camel poster we "liberated" from school, and in the lower left, our new shoe holder that has brought me three levels of untold joy, or at least a feeling of tidiness.

And, the piece de resistance (I don't know how to do those little accent marks in HTML for those French sticklers out there): The Whiteboard. I mean, The Exercise Ball. Oh, well, both are cool. The ball came with a Thera-band, a book, and a DVD (unwatched), and is a welcome addition for workout and seating purposes. The Whiteboard is a reclamation project; it was in the laundry room of Leslie's friends, and here I was figuring out how to make one myself with showerboard and plywood. It has been updated to feature the day's date, our schedule for the week, a longer-term to-do list, books and movies we'd like to procure, and all the way on the right is that day's to-dos. With plenty of doodling space left over! Also in the photo is the pink storage box-cum-ottoman we got from the Abram family; we have also adopted a love seat from them which I'll get a picture of soonly.

And in honor of Halloween and Balsz school's Monster March, we made a cheap costume for Miss Bee last night: one Boy's Large Ultimate Tee ($4.99) was the only ingredients. I was a little woozy after inhaling all that Sharpie ink, but I think the Jack O' Lantern was worth it.

I hadn't noticed, but you can also see another addition to the decor: the large yellow paper in the background is our planned 'New York Times has great photographs' display section; so far we have a few ballet photos and some pictures from a DM Register article about a man with two dogs that look identical to Leslie's parents' dogs. More to come!

100th Post from Mr. Chicken  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

Whoa.We made it. Three months into it, 100 posts. Cool.

First up is a photo - of unfortunately dubious quality from my phone - of a child running around Tempe with his pants down. It was hilarious.

Pomegranates and pine cones:

I don't remember if I've blogged the pomegranate syrup or the grenadine I've made with these, but I'll get there.

This one is for Snat Barnhizer - I tried to send this to you on your phone but you don't get pic messages. Sorry, but here it is!

Another horrible picture: Pomegranate vinaigrette salad. Just that really, pomegranate juice and seeds with vinegar and oil, in a salad with pine nuts and pumpkin seeds from the carving session in Miss Bee's room.

There you go. Number 100. Hope you've enjoyed some of it at least.

I nearly forgot the reason I signed on to do this post. The class I subbed for today included a borderline deaf boy who wears a hearing aid with this special microphone that amplifies my voice into his ear. He didn't quite catch my name though...

"Mr. Chicken, can I be first in line??"

On Household Cleaning Products  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in ,

Sometimes when I clean, I think about what I would say about it on my blog. But I've always refrained from mentioning it because A. I don't want you to think I'm neurotic about it (which is borderline true) and B. as you might be thinking right now, It's boring. But today I had a sort of funny experience. After purchasing a glass-surface cleaner based on environmental concerns, Leslie discovered that it was not, in fact, streak-free as the packaging claimed. Well, that's about what you get when you don't use ammonia. But today I decided to try using White Board cleaner (that is, a cleaning solution for white boards, not a brand name) instead. But the cleaner didn't 'clean' as such; smudges remained smudges, etc. However, the streak-free 'cleans' great. So my new method of cleaning the mirrors is to use the streak free to clean, and the cleaner to get rid of streaks. Huh..

Ok, so the one thing I really have wanted to ask my "mother" audience* is, Does vacuuming several times a week do good? I thought I heard once that vacuuming every day (or whatever) actually extends the life of your carpet, but I don't know where I heard that and the internet is more or less unhelpful. I would say I spot-vacuum certain places every other day, with a whole-room vacuum twice a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. I have to clean the vacuum more often, but I like how the carpet feels. Am I full of it in thinking that I'm improving the quality of the carpet, or is it somehow bad to vacuum repeatedly?

*Fathers and sisters may weigh in as well, haha.

In other news, I was a gym teacher yesterday. I would guess that 90% (or more) of 4th through 8th grade students were unable to complete two laps around a football field without walking, and probably 25% ran no more than 100 yards total. As one kid put it, with a sort of 'Aw, gee' look, "I guess skateboarding doesn't really help your lungs..."

Salade lyonnaise, a la Leslie  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in ,

Spinach salad with lyonnaise dressing tonight, created by Leslie. For the dressing, mix Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar, toss on some slices of red onion, and top with a runny-yolked egg. My egg-making was suspect; my egg didn't play along. Salt and pepper to taste.

Hmm, I swear there were onions in there..

Edamame salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Applesauce  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in ,

From a recipe at 101 Cookbooks, a favorite site/blog run by Heidi Swanson. Click here to see the original.

Edamame: microwaved the soybeans until soft, and squeezed out the pods by hand, discarding the outer shell. Lighty salted. We added several handfuls of spinach as well.

Vinaigrette: about 5 tsps. of lemon juice (instead of two lemons + zest), 3 tsps. extra virgin olive oil, 2 tsps. of balsamic vinegar (instead of rice vinegar), and a couple heaping spoonfuls of brown sugar, meant to replace maple syrup and make up for lost sweetness in the vinegar department. Without knowing what Shiso was or where to get it, I made a chiffonade of some leaves of spinach, and added basil and cilantro. Shiso is an herb, most of the descriptions sounded like "minty with apple sweetness". So I did the best I could with the herbs, and Leslie made applesauce! Also some sea salt and ground pepper.

Applesauce: easy enough, though I had never done it. Basically stew apples (we used three honeycrisps) until soft, process until they reach the desired texture. Sweeten if so desired.

Here's my plate, you can see I put a little brown sugar on the applesauce; salad in the background with raspberries.

I love that little raspberry off to the left by himself!

Leslie's plate, with plain applesauce and raspberries off to the side. Thanks for the new purple silverware (from Leslie's parents) - they're great!

This one has a little better look at the edamame, but you can also tell that I had a little too much dressing to too few soybeans, and tried to compensate with spinach, but it was still too 'wet' overall. I enjoyed it but I think the dressing was too much for Leslie. Tonight maybe we'll just have them plain with a little seasoning.

Hop Juice  

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The picture of the beer in the last post reminded me that I had a great picture of another favorite: Left Coast Hop Juice. Very fruity, with lots of pine in the aroma and upfront, and a peppermint zing at the finish. Nicely crafted double IPA.

Proxy Guest-Blogging: Mom's Frittata  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in , ,

I asked my mother to guest-blog sometime, and she turned me down. But then she sent me a recipe via email, which I will post verbatim and add my own comments in red.

Over med. heat saute a leek until soft, then add garlic and 2 med. tomatoes (we used tomato paste). Saute a minute. Add a handful at a time of spinach allowing each batch to wilt slightly before adding more. That's one 5 oz pkg of spinach (who knows how much we used. About four handfuls). Reduce heat to med. low.
Whick 4 eggs, and 4 egg whites (due to poor reading comprehension, we had four eggs whisked and ready, but no whites. We probably should have used two eggs and two whites, but we ended up with four eggs and two whites. Oops.), add pepper and salt. Pour into skillet, cook 8 min, or until bottom is set. If your skillet is ovenproof you can put it in the oven to bake 10 to 15 min. if not transfer to casserole dish. Sprinkle with parmesan (or Gruyere. Worked great.). Serve.

Here's what ours looked like; not great, but we were lacking in egg whites. Tasted fine! The rest of the plate is Broccoli salad (see original post), some raspberries, and slices of Gruyere, along with a small glass of '07 Bigfoot Barleywine-Style Ale (which is way too 'big' for this meal, but whatever). The leeks were terrific, the egg fluffy; I love that broccoli salad (although the florets are always too large), and the raspberries are 3.99 for a double wide carton at Costco. Also, that Gruyere has been terrific, and gone nicely with a lot of meals.

Thanks to Mama-san for the recipe, and for implicity allowing me to share it with, um, everyone.

The Barnhizers Come to Phoenix  

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More Photos

How Does Your Brain Wave?  

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I cannot get this song out of my head, thought you all might like it too.

Baby Elephant - How Does The Brain Wave?

This is a real all-star line-up, with David Byrne singing vocals, Bernie Worrell on the keys, Bootsy Collins on bass, and Prince Paul on the one's and two's.

Note on working DivShare: I finally got the "embed" function to work. Obviously, just press play, etc. on the mini-player to stream the song. It worked for me, let me know if it doesn't for you. If you want to download the song, you can do that by clicking on the diamond-shaped logo link, or by clicking where it says DivShare. That will take you to another page, where you can also stream the song, or on the right sidebar, click on "download original" which will save it to your computer. I'm sorry it's taken me this long, but this should dramatically improve the music experience on The Stare. Enjoy the funk.

How Does Your  

Posted by Wayne Bretski

A Day In Food (No Pictures)  

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Breakfast: dried fruit (Craisins, Mont Morency Cherries, Mangos), a plum (thanks Nicole), coffee and a cookie

Lunch: I had some leftovers from Monday's potato and leek flatbread; Leslie had leftover Thai from Tuesday's dinner at Malee's in Scottsdale (thanks Nicole).

Dinner: Leslie made two rounds of biscuits, one plain and one with grated Gruyere. Those were my favorites. I grated two potatoes, chopped part of a large onion, should have grated in some cheese, and added a beat egg; these became latkes, albeit latkes cooked in a wok instead of on a griddle or frying pan so they were a bit ugly.

Dessert: Vanilla ice cream with frozen sugar cookies, and chocolate-covered edamame.

Post-dessert ale: Deschutes Brewery in Bend, OR's Mirror Pond Pale Ale. Cascade hops are the primary aromatics, a good mix of floral and citric, while the yeast imparts a hint of esters. Solid if unspectacular.

Potato and Leek Flat Bread  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in ,

Recipe from "Real Simple" magazine, I believe.

In a pinch, Leslie whipped up a Shepherd's pie-type crust with Bisquick and eggs, and we covered it with red potatoes, vertically sliced leeks, and artichoke hearts and mushrooms from the olive bar at Safeway. Then we grated a little less than a cup of Gruyere over everything.

Bake for about 20 minutes at 450 degrees, and you get this.

I think maybe next time we should bake the cheese into the bread, as it caused the leak strings to stick together, making it difficult to get 1. bread, 2. potato-leek-cheese, and 3. mushroom or artichoke at the same time. And it might firm up the flaky "pie-crust" flat bread. But it was really delicious, and good left-over. Recommended for simplicity and flavor. Plus, leeks are fresh right now.

As are pomegranates and apples. Thanks to Mama Karen for providing us with an abundance of both. Look for some fresh applesauce, and hopefully some good pomegranate recipes, soon.

Grilled (ok broiled) vegetables with rice  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in ,

Sometimes I seem to recall blogging dinners, and then come across pictures in my "to blog" folder five days later. Or a week.

After spending a day in Leslie's oil-vinegar-chopped garlic marinade, a healthy portion of asparagus spears and red-and-yellow peppers joined mini Bello mushrooms and grape tomatoes in the broiler for twenty minutes. Served over rice.

For an appetizer, Leslie sliced two sweet tomatoes, drizzled with oil, and baked until crispy at the edges. Add salt and pepper: sweet tomato fries.


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Sharon Jones rehearsing a James Brown medley with label-mate Lee Fields and her band the Dap-Tones.

Don Boudreaux on Military Service  

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Society remains primitive insofar as individuals are regarded as agents to butcher for - and to be butchered for - the collective. Society progresses only as the depraved romance of the collective gives way to respect for the individual - the individual whose life and property are never regarded as being at the disposal of the state.

If you're not familiar with his work, he is the department chair of economics at George Mason. He blogs at Cafe Hayek with Russell Roberts (who I've mentioned before), and at Market Correction, which is essentially a daily update of letters to the editor that he writes. This line is from there.

File under "Great quotes: Friedman, Milton"  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

New Perspectives Quarterly records a late-in-life interview with Milton Friedman:

The great virtue of a free market is that it enables people who hate each other, or who are from vastly different religious or ethnic backgrounds, to cooperate economically. Government intervention can’t do that. Politics exacerbates and magnifies differences.

Roundup: Schwag!; Laundry Day; Rice and Spinach Bake  

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Way Out West Oktoberfest was last weekend in Tempe. Here's some free stuff we accumulated:Koozy, plastic mug, two Starbucks gift cards, a holographic Bud Light, erm, thingy, and a pin. Which blinks. We also got this photo taken at the Bud Light lounge (so weak, basically an RV with a room to take people's pictures and some TVs and foosball on the roof):

Don't you just love the Bud Light outline?!

The next day we strung up 50 feet of rope all over the apartment to make a clothesline. Check out the photos of Laundry Day.

Ok, that turned out to be the only good one. I'm in the other two, looking dumb.

Finally, this was a lovely recipe we got from our Minnesotan friend Beth, it was from I believe. After sauteeing garlic and onion, lots of spinach was wilted over top (we added mushrooms and pine nuts as well), and mixed with beaten eggs. This mixture was poured over rice into a pan and baked. The original called for butter over top everything, we opted for more spinach.

In Rainbows  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

Yesterday was Radiohead Day. New album out called In Rainbows. It's really nice, very calm and pastoral most of the way. I'm a Radiohead fan but I would tell you if I didn't like it.

Visit Green Plastic for a list of links about the new album (so far).

Drop a line in the comments if you have an opinion on the new album, or if you want I can email you the zip file (if you don't want to put your CC information online or take the 45 pence hit on processing).

Mushroom and Pepper Stir Fry  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

...with rice.

Super quick salad  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

Spinach salad ingredients:
Raspberry vinaigrette (oil and vinegar to taste, processed with raspberries)
Grape tomatoes
Pinto beans
Pine Nuts
Pumpkin seeds
Salt and pepper
A little more oil for me.

Roller Coasters at Six Flags  

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No platform for your feet!


85 mph down that first big hill!

Finally, here's the link to my Picasa gallery of L.A. photos. Some are ok, some not so great, but check them out if you're so inclined. Photos here.


This is on a ride called Superman Escape, that accelerates from 0 to 100 mph in 6 seconds, then goes straight up a 41-story tower and then free-falls in reverse. Here's the apex of the climb.

Bowtie pasta, two ways  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

One with Alfredo sauce, and one with red sauce.

Cheese first: yogurt cheese and grated cheddar are the base, along with sauteed spinach and some spices. Eat with grape tomatoes and grated pepper.

Next night: pretty much the same ingredients, with a healthy amount of tomato sauce. We also used the leftover alfredo, so it's a little orange.

Both ways were really good, and used a LOT of garlic.

As a Matter of Historical Record  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

here's what our apartment used to look like. We've now rearranged and redecorated somewhat, but we're not quite ready for pictures yet.

The kitchen:

The futon, strewn with library books as usual (and my new Dahl's bag, thanks Mom!):

The "bookshelf":

And the piece de resistance, the elephant foot photo we found outside THE DUMPSTER:

A lot of peeled garlic  

Posted by Wayne Bretski in

What we did today is peel a lot of garlic. Here's about two pounds of garlic, minus one clove for last night's dinner:

Here's the detritus from two pounds of garlic in the sink:

And here's what they look like peeled. Also in the picture are our experimental cheddar tomato garlic biscuits that were delicious.

Look out for a picture dump sometime this week, featuring our trip to L.A.


Posted by Wayne Bretski in

Garlic, pine nuts, spinach, snap peas, grape tomatoes. Rice.

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