Thursday, November 29, 2007

Herbes de Provence (Page 931)

  • Date: Thursday, November 29, 2007 -- 6pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Recipe Rating: A-


In all honesty, I picked this recipe because the start to finish time was listed at 5 minutes. I am a little crunched for time this week, and I am trying not to get behind in my project, so quickness is appreciated. This kind of recipe is impossible to grade. You crumble some dried spices (thyme, basil, savory, rosemary, marjoram, and bay leaf) and then stir them all together. And what you get is... well... dried spices stirred together! Perhaps the way to really grade this would be to spice rub a chicken with it, roast it off, and see how it tastes. But, as I said, I was crunched for time. So I infused a bit of olive oil with this spice mix, and then sopped it up with some crusty bread. It was good. I have the leftover herbes de provence carefully stored in my spice cupboard. Perhaps one of these days I will make some chicken with it, and if I no longer agree with my initial assessment that it tastes good, I'll let you know!

This recipe isn't online.

Most days I feel that my brain operates about the same as it does any other day. Or if it doesn't there is some obvious reason: lack of sleep, illness, etc... Occasionally though I have a day where my brain is full of marshmallow fluff for no apparent reason. Today was one of those days. I fought it all morning, diligently trying to internalize mathematics that is new to me. By this afternoon I had surrendered. So I spent the vast majority of the day dealing with various issues having to do with my students (students who want me to guess what they need to get on the final to get an A, students who want a grade of Incomplete rather than an F, students who want practice exams, and homework help, and my opinion about where to sell back their textbooks, etc...). Spending an entire afternoon dealing with these things isn't fun exactly, but it's a good use for a head full of marshmallow fluff. Even now, I am having trouble focusing on anything more challenging than the above. I managed to plan my class for the morning (in the loosest sense of the word "plan") and I packed for my trip to Alabama tomorrow. Then I drank a beer. That, as you might imagine, did not help the marshmallow fluff situation.

So now, at this late hour of 10:48pm, I think I shall go to sleep. I'm pretty sure I won't be getting anything productive done for the rest of the day, so I might as well get some rest! Hopefully tomorrow my head will be less fluffy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Peanut Butter-Coconut Bars (Page 693)

  • Date: Monday, November 26, 2007 -- 9pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Recipe Rating: B-


I was exhausted at the end of the day on Monday, so I picked this recipe because it didn't require going to the grocery store. These bars were odd... Think to yourself: peanut butter cookie with coconut mixed in. But then make it a really dry peanut butter cookie (still with the coconut mixed it). Sprinkle some peanuts on top and you pretty much have it. I can't say they were bad, because I certainly have eaten a few of them. But I also can't say they were good. The cookies were unpleasantly dry. The dryness also contributed to an unpleasant texture contrast between the dry, crumbly cookie, and the chewy coconut inside it. I have to say, although I love coconut, these cookies didn't sell me on the peanut butter and coconut combination. They would have been better with the coconut omitted.

Here is the recipe.

I have a goal. Well, I have a lot of goals really, but now I have a new one. I am going to try to hit 600 recipes by the end of the year. I am currently at 563, so I will have to make and blog about 37 recipes in the next 33 days. (Do you like the way I did that arithmetic? Can you tell I am a mathematician?) Since moving to Bloomington, I have only been averaging about 0.7 recipes per day, so I am going to have to pick up the pace a bit. To assist with this, I think I shall throw a Christmas party! My tentative menu for said party involves 10 recipes from The Book. I'll admit, it's a little ambitious. I will invite the whole topology group, which, including spouses and children must be at least 25 or 30 people -- that many people could easily eat 10 recipes worth of food! I am traveling starting in mid-December, so for the last couple weeks of the year I will be making Book food for friends and family near and far! Are y'all excited? Anyone want to place a bet on whether or not I can meet my 600 recipe goal?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mozzarella in Carrozza (Page 181)

  • Date: Sunday, November 25, 2007 -- 7pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: C-


I picked this for dinner on Sunday night because I was looking for something quick and easy. These sandwiches were foul. How can I describe them? They were a cross between french toast and those deep-fried cheese sticks, with capers added. Does that sound good? Well it wasn't. The bread was soggy, and greasy. The melted cheese tasted good, but the capers were so intense that it was difficult to enjoy the smooth richness of the fresh mozzarella. Without the capers it would have been better. If the bread would have become nice and crispy it might even have been good. Basically what I am saying is that you should abandon this recipe entirely and make yourself a toasted cheese sandwich.

Here is the recipe.

I tried to get a pet today. No, that's not right. I tried to convince myself today that my lifestyle could support a pet. This summer I was at the Dane County Fair with Matty, and we were checking out the Cloverbud exhibits (I'm sure nobody but Mel knows what that means, but nonetheless I will just go on...). There were a bunch of Pocket Pets entered, and we decided then and there that I should get a Pocket Pet! Should it be a gerbil? Or a hamster? Or a guinea pig? I don't know. I rapidly ruled out mice and rats. I had my eye on a guinea pig at the sketchy pet store in the mall (I even named him: bed head. He was really cute!). But I didn't buy him and then he was gone.

Today, though, Teresa wrote to me saying that two Pocket Pets (of the guinea pig variety) had arrived at the animal shelter. I was so excited! But then I started to think about it more. What would I do with a pocket pet while I am traveling? This weekend I will be in Alabama. In a couple weeks I will be in Chicago, then Madison, then Columbus... And next semester I will doubtless be often in Boston, and who knows where else. What would become of my poor pocket pet?

Some of my friends are starting to have kids. We are that age where for some people it seems like a reasonable thing to do. Me? I'm apparently not yet settled enough to even have a pocket pet!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sticky Rice with Mango (Page 828)

  • Date: Saturday, November 24, 2007 -- 7pm
  • Location: Westerville, OH
  • Kitchen: Karen and Dave's House
  • Fellow Chefs: Matty and Brad
  • Dining Companions: Kenny, Gail, Deniz, Karen H, and Dave
  • Recipe Rating: A-

Brad is very interested in Indian cooking, and he made a delicious dinner of Indian food on Saturday night. I offered to make dessert to accompany it. Unfortunately there aren't any Indian desserts in The Book, so I went with something Thai. This sticky rice was awesome. It had a lovely, sticky texture, and a sweet, delicious, coconut milk flavor. I think everyone was pleasantly surprised by it. The mango slices were delicious when dripping with the coconut sauce. I learned something from my last sticky rice adventure, and this time I used a steamer lined with cheesecloth rather than a sieve in a pot, and it was much more successful. Two small comments: one, the sauce that the dish is finished with should be doubled. It's delicious, and there just isn't enough of it. Two, there could have been more coconut soaking liquid too. The rice rapidly absorbed what liquid there was. And although the rice didn't come out dry, it could have been moister. All that said, this recipe was delicious, and I highly recommend it!

Here is the recipe.

My special gentleman friend left this afternoon, and now I am feeling a bit down. Since I moved away, we usually see each other for a couple days every couple weeks, and I had adjusted to that schedule. This time he was here for ten days (!) though and I think I became confused. It was such a long visit that on some level I began to believe that we lived in the same place again. But then he packed up his clothes, and two coolers of homemade food from the freezer, and he went back to Boston.

I don't know what I am complaining about -- it's hardly a sad story: he and I will be at a wedding together this weekend in Alabama. So I will see him in four days. And in less than three weeks he will be here for seven weeks, which is about the best thing I can imagine!

People always say absence makes the heart grow fonder. For me that's not quite right. I was perfectly fond of my special gentleman before I moved away. I think absence makes the heart more appreciative. Or at least it certainly has for me.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Black-Bottom Caramel Pudding (Page 825)

  • Date: Friday, November 23, 2007 -- 8pm
  • Location: Westerville, OH
  • Kitchen: Karen and Dave's House
  • Dining Companions: Matty, Brad, Deniz, Karen H, Dave, and Jinx
  • Recipe Rating: A-


I made dessert on Friday night for a dinner with Matty's family. These pudding cups were pretty tasty. The caramel flavor was rich and came through clearly. The consistency of the pudding was also just right -- thick without being clumpy. In general I was quite happy with it. Two minor comments: one, the caramel pudding was a touch sweet. I would have preferred it a little less sugary. Second, it would have been nice to have slightly more chocolate pudding. As it was there was much more caramel pudding than chocolate. An ideal ratio would have been about two parts caramel pudding to one part chocolate pudding. Overall though it was a solid dessert and I think most people enjoyed it.

Here is the recipe.

I am back in Bloomington now after a long, fun holiday weekend in Ohio. It was awesome to have a little vacation. I slept a lot, did some cooking, watched TV, went to a play, and had some great conversations. I was ready to come back home today, but I am still trying to motivate to get back to work. I did a little work while I was in Ohio, but mainly I just relaxed. Now, it's back to the real world! I have to teach in the morning, and I should plan my class...

Why is it that when something is a routine it is easy to do it over and over, but once you stop your routine it is so hard to get started again? When I am in my exercise mode, I can hit the gym every day without thinking twice, but if I don't go for a week, it takes a serious push to get me back there. I am feeling that way tonight about planning my class. Normally it's a piece of cake, but tonight I am just not feeling it. After a couple days off, I can't motivate! I'll get back in the swing of things though for these last couple weeks of class. I can't believe there are only two weeks of classes left! Crazy!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Teriyaki Glaze (Page 899)

  • Date: Saturday, November 17, 2007 -- 7pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B+


Every once in a while I try to focus on the "Sauce and Salsas" section of The Book for a few weeks. This glaze was good. I broiled some tofu, brushing this glaze on every couple minutes. It made for a very, very simple dish that was quick and tasty! Because this glaze is made from ingredients that you can easily store in your pantry or fridge indefinitely, this is a nice recipe to keep on hand. It would also go well with beef or chicken, but there is almost always some tofu hanging around in my refrigerator, so I was anxious to see how this glaze would work on it. One critique of this recipe is that it was a bit heavy on the soy. The soy sauce flavor drowned out the sweetness of the sauce, and the flavors of the mirin and sherry. If you try this recipe I would suggest cutting back on the soy sauce a bit. Also, the glaze had to simmer longer than indicated in order to reduce to the proper consistency, so give yourself a little extra time.

This recipe isn't online.

A few of the many things I am thankful for this holiday weekend:
  • Leftover mashed potatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • My health and the good health of my family and friends
  • My 110 calculus students, who always manage to make me laugh
  • My pickle
  • All of the people around the country who cook and eat with me from The Book
  • A job that I love
  • My colleagues, and friends, and the many people who are both
  • Warm socks
  • Episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 on DVD
  • Long runs
  • Driving in the car with the windows rolled down and the music turned up
  • All of the places I call home: Bloomington, Boston, Madison, Palo Alto, Hartsville...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Foolproof Thai Sticky Rice (Page 260)

  • Date: Saturday, November 17, 2007 -- 7pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B+


I made this sticky rice to go with dinner on Saturday because it was quick and accompanied our other dishes well. It's hard to grade this sticky rice. It wasn't great (it wasn't, in my opinion, "foolproof") but I think it had more to do with one suggested method of cooking the rice than anything else. The recipe casually says that this rice can be cooked in a sieve or colander set inside a pot in such a way that the rice doesn't touch the water. The rice is then steamed, to achieve the perfect sticky rice texture. The problem: if you set a sieve on the rim of a pot then the lid of the pot doesn't quite fit and most of the steam escapes. After the designated cooking time this rice was hard and dry. So I continued to cook it. Even once the rice was tender it continued to be dry though. I have no doubt that this recipe would produce lovely sticky rice if you could set up this steaming contraption in such a way that the lid sealed the pot (using the steamer insert in a pasta pot perhaps) but I think The Book is much too casual about other alternatives that will work. I still enjoyed eating this rice, but for this rice to be perfect you would need to take some care in your setup.


Here is the recipe, and this one is more specific about how to set it up in a way that will work than the one in The Book is.


Happy Thanksgiving! I am having a lovely Thanksgiving weekend. The drive yesterday wasn't quite as relaxing as I had hoped: 7 hours and it rained the whole way! But we made it safely, and in plenty of time for me to help with the prep cooking last night. It was fun not being in charge in the kitchen. I just chopped when I was told to chop, stirred when I was told to stir, etc... I had a blast. We made a lot of food in advance, which was good because today there were 26 people over for the Thanksgiving meal! The food came out really nicely and it was fun to meet everyone. The company has all left now, so it is only me, Matty, Karen, Dave, Brad, and Deniz left in the house. We ate ourselves into a stupor this afternoon and now everyone is gathered around the TV watching episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 on DVD. Brad and Deniz own season two, and they brought it with them (we watched all of season one on the family vacation in August). I was watching for a while, but after about three in a row I need a little break!

It's always interesting spend family holidays with someone else's family. I have had Thanksgiving or Christmas celebrations with at least seven different families over the years, and it is such a joy for me to see the unique traditions that people have. Today was fun, and I look forward to being here again around Christmas-time.

I should run. I am being summonded back to 90210. Apparently this episode is especially good!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bok Choy with Soy Sauce and Butter (Page 524)

  • Date: Saturday, November 17, 2007 -- 7pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: C-



We were looking for a quick and easy vegetable dish to go with our quick and easy dinner on Saturday night. In that respect, this recipe fit the bill. It was really not good though. This recipe was very simple: bok choy, stir-fried with some soy sauce and oyster sauce, and then drowned in butter. Does that seem strange to anyone but me? Soy sauce and BUTTER? And not just a little butter, but a serious chunk of butter. In summary: it was foul. The butter made the dish extremely rich, which absolutely did not pair well with either the bok choy or the Asian flavors of the soy and oyster sauces. The bok choy was nicely cooked, but I still found it very difficult to eat because of the butter situation. If you took this recipe and just omitted the step where you add the butter, it would be vastly, vastly improved. In fact, I think that could be downright tasty. As it was though: avoid it.

In case you want to see for yourself, here is the recipe.

I am in Chicago now, sitting on the sofa in Vigleik and Shihchi's apartment on this fine Wednesday morning. Now I am officially on Thanksgiving vacation! Normally right now I would be about ready to head off to teach my calculus students, but today is an IU holiday. Yesterday I spent the day at the University of Chicago. V and I worked on something together all morning and in the afternoon I gave two talks. It was a fun (and a little bit exhausting!) day.

Today Matty and I are headed off to Columbus, which is about a six hour drive from here I believe. Riding in the car sounds very relaxing and enjoyable right now so I am looking forward to it. I love Thanksgiving break! It's at that point in the semester when you really need a rest. Ever since college I have appreciated the few days off for Thanksgiving more than any other break during the year (except summer of course!). My second year in graduate school I took my qualifying exam soon before Thanksgiving, so over Thanksgiving break I pretty much just ate, and sat on the sofa. For four days! It was amazing -- exactly what I needed. I am not feeling quite so burnt out this year, but I am looking forward to some serious relaxation.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Anchovy Butter (Page 894)

  • Date: Thursday, November 15, 2007 -- 9pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: A-


I picked this recipe to make on Thursday because I had leftover anchovies from making the stuffed bell peppers, and I figured I might as well find a way to use them. Usually I am not super excited about compound butters, but this one was good. The brininess of the capers cut the richness of the butter a bit, and the flavors of the anchovies, capers, lemon juice, and garlic were strong enough that it didn't seem like butter with just a few flecks of stuff added in (and these things sometimes do). This was a case where adding stuff to the butter actually improved it. We just spread this butter on bread, but it would go nicely with a piece of chicken, or even on some pasta. I threw the rest of this in the freezer for a lazy day when I am looking for a quick sauce to throw on dinner. One nice thing about compound butters is that they freeze well and once melted provide an instant sauce.

The proportions aren't quite the same, but the recipe is similar to this one.

This morning I teach my classes and then I have off the rest of the week for Thanksgiving! Yay! Well, maybe tomorrow doesn't exactly count as a vacation day, since I am going to the University of Chicago to give a seminar, but that should be fun. I am staying with V and Shihchi, which is always a good time! I am driving to Chicago right after my classes today, and then on Wednesday I will head to Columbus for the holiday.

First, though, I have to face my classes. I am giving them back their exams today, which will no doubt lead to some unhappiness. I can't tell if it will be a positive experience for them or a negative one. On the one hand, they will see how badly they actually did. On the other, they will see how generous the curve is. Well, we shall see how they feel about it! I imagine attendance won't be great, since some of them take off this entire week for Thanksgiving. So after returning exams, maybe we will do something fun! Speaking of, I should finish preparing...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Baklava (Page 797)

  • Date: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty, Brad, Deniz, Dave, and Karen H
  • Recipe Rating: A-


Matty loves baklava. I have been meaning to make this recipe for him for a long time now, and I finally got around to it! I admit, I am not usually a huge baklava person. I generally like baklava for about a bite or two, and then I am done with it. This baklava was awesome though! It had a nice honey sweetness, which was balanced just a touch by the lemon juice added to the syrup. Thankfully the syrup didn't have rose water in it (as these syrups sometimes do -- and which I find completely repulsive). The buttery layers of phyllo and the walnuts were both delicious after being doused in the sweet syrup. The top layers of phyllo kept a nice crispness to them, while the interior layers deliciously absorbed the honey syrup. My only complaint is that I would have preferred it without the whole cloves that were stuck into each piece. I can only imagine that they are meant to be decorative (and slightly functional, holding the top few layers together?), but if you happen to bite into one (as I did, accidentally) it is a very overwhelming experience that I wouldn't care to repeat. I don't generally like to garnish with things that shouldn't be eaten, and on that principle when I make this again, I will leave off the cloves. Aside from that minor detail, this recipe is lovely! Baklava is a bit of a pain to make, but with this recipe, it is certainly worth it!

Sadly, this recipe isn't online.

Matty arrived Friday, and we had lovely day yesterday. We went hiking near Griffy Lake. We were a little disappointed to find that all the trails were pretty short. We hiked the longest one (1.6 miles) and then set off on one of the short ones (.5 miles). We are pretty decent at hiking, but we aren't so good at paying attention to trail markers. We must have wandered off the trail somewhere, and soon our .5 mile hike turned into quite a long adventure. Eventually we wandered onto some private property, and decided to turn back. We found our way back to the lake without incident. It was nice to get a bit lost -- we had been looking for a longer hike anyway, and in the end, we got one!

After hiking we cooked dinner. It's funny how much you appreciate the small things after living apart from someone that you care about. Being able to cook dinner together and eat at the same table has become such a luxury! After dinner we went to the opera. IU has a very good music school, and an extremely impressive opera. You don't expect to move to Bloomington, IN and find good opera productions, but sometimes life surprises you! We saw La Boheme last night, and quite enjoyed it.

Today was not so enjoyable. I finished grading my students' exams on Friday, but I hadn't yet entered them into the gradebook. Going through them today, I realized how badly they had done. I guess the exam was too hard! I will obviously curve it generously, but I still feel bad for them. I am sure it was a discouraging experience.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Stuffed Bell Peppers (Page 558)

  • Date: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 -- 7pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: C+


I have extremely fond memories of the stuffed peppers of my childhood. My mother would take green peppers and fill them with a delicious tomato-based mixture of rice and beef. Yum! Reading this recipe, I understood that these would be different (the lack of tomatoes, rice, and beef tipped me off), but I was still optimistic. Unfortunately, this recipe disappointed me. The baked pepper itself was yummy, but the filling was a let down. This cheese-based filling had a few problems. For one, it was mostly a bit bland. The only flavor that stood out was that of the capers, which were too overpowering. So there was a dullness about it, but also a striking brininess. It wasn't delicious. The other problem was that the texture wasn't so nice. Although this sounds odd, the texture was almost curdled. I have no explanation for it, but somehow there were parts that were liquidy and parts that were more solid. It was odd, and unappealing. If you are going to take the time to stuff a pepper, put some rice and beef in it, not this uninspired cheese filling.

The recipe in The Book is almost the same as this one, except the one in The Book uses full-size peppers, which are halved through the stem and then stuffed.

My students have an exam in about a half an hour. I am worried that it is a little too tough. To be fair, I had that concern also about the previous two exams I have given in this course and the students did just fine on those. This one has me a little worried though -- it's on sequences and series, which my students find very confusing. Last night I had a dream that half my class decided, during the exam, that it was unreasonably hard, so they just walked out. I was chasing after them, reminding them that they can't drop the class because it is after the drop deadline. Then I went back into the classroom and flipped through the exam to see if it was indeed too tough. As I was flipping I realized that the exam was an analysis qualifying exam for graduate students. Whoops! Well, hopefully today, in real life, non of my students will walk out during the exam!

After my classes I will grade for most of the afternoon and then drive to the airport to pick up a certain special friend who arrives today, and is staying for TEN days! Ah, the luxury!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Toasted Bread Crumbs (Page 558)

  • Date: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 --7pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: A-


This was a component recipe for some stuffed peppers I made last night. I'll summarize for you: take some fresh bread crumbs. Toast them. Drizzle with oil. Season with salt. Oh wait, that wasn't a summary -- that was the whole "recipe." What can I say? Toasted breadcrumbs are always delicious. Oil and salt make them even more delicious. So if you are willing to call this a recipe, I would say that it is a good one. If you don't need instructions on how to toast bread, then you can just skip this one!

Here is the recipe.

I have so many food associations, that often when I am cooking I think about the wonderful people in my life that the food reminds me off. Anything with strawberries reminds me of Emilee, who loves them more than anyone else I have ever met. Cranberries remind me of my father. Bacon reminds me of a number of men from my past (do I specifically attract men who love bacon, or do all men love bacon?) Recipes like this one: ridiculously easy, with three ingredients and obvious directions, remind me of Vero. If she had been here when I made this one, no doubt there would have been ridicule. She would have made fun of me for weeks afterwards. Anyone who has ever asked Vero about recipes for rice can verify this. Thinking about it makes me miss cooking with my friends in Boston. Next semester I hope to make longer trips back there, and hopefully everyone will still be willing to cook with me! I should make sure to save some special recipes like this one, just for Vero!

Everyday Pimento Cheese (Page 9)

  • Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2007 -- 10pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B-


I chose this because it was the first recipe in The Book that I hadn't made yet (now I have made the first 12 in a row!). The Book calls this a Southern classic. It is a bit odd. Two types of cheddar are grated and then mixed with pimientos, cayenne, salt, pepper, and mayonnaise. I grated the cheeses in the food processor, but this was a mistake. Because they weren't finely grated enough, the end product was chunky, rather than smooth, as it should have been. I didn't have the patience to microplane a whole pound of cheese. I should have though -- it would have improved the texture significantly. The flavor was, well, what you would expect to get if you mixed cheese with mayonnaise and then stirred in some chopped pimientos. It wasn't bad, it just didn't particularly appeal to me.

Here is the recipe.

I am SO excited about the upcoming holiday season! Tonight I busted out my special Christmas pajama pants: then have monkeys on them, wearing Santa hats and snowboarding. It's hard to not feel cheery wearing these pants! Early next week we are headed to Columbus, OH (with a little stop in Chicago so I can give a seminar). We will have a big family Thanksgiving -- not with my family, but that's ok! My family is spending Thanksgiving in Las Vegas, which very much suits them, but somehow isn't exactly my idea of a traditional family holiday. After Thanksgiving there are only a few more weeks of class and then it's Christmas break! For Christmas I am going home to Madison, and then to Columbus. I am very much looking forward to all this holiday travel. I will get to have some relaxing time visiting family and I hope to also see a bunch of friends that I haven't seen in a while. I am sure there will also be plenty of holiday cooking fun too!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Date and Oat Bars (Page 693)

  • Date: Monday, November 12, 2007 -- 9pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B+


I have been making a lot of recipes from the "Cookies, Bars, and Confections" section in The Book lately. Since I am on a roll with it, I figured I would go ahead and make another one. These bars were pretty good. They are made from 2 layers of an oat-based dough, with a sweet date filling sandwiched in between. The flavor of these bars was excellent, but I thought the proportion of filling to dough was a bit off. I actually thought there was too much filling (an unusual complaint indeed). The date filling was rather intense, both in sweetness and in date flavor, and although I liked it I would have preferred a bit less of it. Having so much filling also made these bars tremendously heavy -- which is why an 8 by 8 pan made 36 bars! The texture and flavor of the oat dough was excellent -- crumbly and buttery, but still with that wholesome oat flavor. Overall, these bars were good -- if you are a big fan of dates, you are sure to love them!

This recipe is not online.

Today's Kitchen Disaster of the Day was pretty dramatic. I was making baklava tonight, for a certain baklava-lover who is coming to visit in a few days. The baklava was in the oven and I was making the honey syrup to be poured over it. It was in a small saucepan, boiling away on the stove, and I decided I should clean up some of the huge phyllo-butter-walnut mess I made while assembling the baklava. My back was turned for maybe 45, no 30, seconds when I heard a very loud hissing noise. The honey syrup had taken on a life of its own, boiling over and covering my entire stovetop with honey. Worse, it spilled onto the counters and dripped down the front of the oven to the floor. I have one of those flat-top stoves, so instead of pooling in the burners, the overflow went everywhere! If it had been anything else (water, soup, tomato sauce...) that would be one thing. But having half your kitchen covered with boiling honey -- it was a hot sticky mess. The apartment filled with smoke (honey syrup + burner = smoke). I opened all the windows, turned on the fan, and hoped that the smoke detector wouldn't go off (again!) as I rushed to remake the syrup that was now all over my kitchen rather than waiting to be poured on the hot baklava. In the end, all was well, but I think the cleaning process will be ongoing. I have cleaned the stovetop 5 times now, but it is still sticky to the touch! And I am sure there are places where the honey has dripped that I haven't even discovered yet. Whoops!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Maple Pumpkin Pots de Creme (Page 832)

  • Date: Saturday, November 10, 2007 -- 10pm
  • Location: Somerville, MA
  • Kitchen: Matty's Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Matty, Russ, and Paps
  • Recipe Rating: B


I made these pots de creme for dessert on Saturday because I was looking for something quick and easy. It's hard to grade these, as something deeply mysterious happened while these were cooking. To make a pot de creme, one makes a custard, then pours it in small dishes and bakes them in a water bath. What you should end up with is silky smooth. These pots de creme, however, took on a life of their own. For one thing, they rose tremendously. Usually such things barely rise. But when I took these out of the oven they had doubled in size. This immediately concerned me. They eventually fell, but the damage had been done -- the texture was terrible. It was almost curdled -- very, very far from the smooth, silky custard I had expected. One reason that custard curdles is if it is overcooked. I can only assume that is what happened here, although the oven was set to the proper temperature and I cooked them for 5 minutes less than was indicated in the recipe. So it's a bit of a mystery. While the texture was pretty dreadful, the flavor was nice. The pumpkin and maple complemented each other nicely. It was a touch too sweet, but that didn't bother me too much. This recipe had the potential to be good, but if you make it, watch them carefully and take them out as soon as they are set!

Here is the recipe.

This morning I paid the consequences of my five years of dentist-free lifestyle: I had my cavities filled. It was uneventful. The only unpleasant part of it was the numbness. Yes, of course, being numb is vastly preferable to the alternative, but I really hate that numb feeling. Even now, back at work, I can't feel half of my mouth. I'm hungry, but worried that if I try to eat lunch like this it will be a disaster!

When I was young, I had some sort of oral surgery, after which I was numb for a long time. I was also given some type of sedative for the procedure. When I left the oral surgeon's office he told me that as I was coming out of sedation I might feel a little moody. I went home, and spent the afternoon sitting on an easy chair in the basement, watching TV with my mom. My frustration about the numbness was apparently magnified by the "moody" sedative. At some point I was so upset that there was nothing good to watch on TV that I threw the channel changer through the insulation wall. Whoops! Today I am feeling calmer about being numb, although still not really terribly excited about it!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lemon Garlic Lamb Chops with Yogurt Sauce (Page 504)

  • Date: Saturday, November 10, 2007 --9pm
  • Location: Somerville, MA
  • Kitchen: Matty's Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Dining Companions: Russ and Paps
  • Recipe Rating: B-


I have been looking forward to this lamb chop recipe ever since Matty and I made an amazing lamb chop from The Book this summer. This recipe did not live up to that one though. It wasn't terrible, but I was disappointed. This recipe called for lamb shoulder chops, which are half the price (or less) than lamb loin chops. There is a reason they are cheaper though. It is a tougher, fattier cut of meat. These chops had a lot of internal fat to them, which made the meat gristly in a very unappealing way. Meat with this kind of fat distribution if always better served by slow cooking methods. Pan frying is a recipe for disaster when there are thick veins of internal fat, so I was a bit worried from the start. That was my main complaint. The flavors in the dish were nice. The sauce built from the lemon marinade tasted pretty good, and the yogurt sauce was simple but tasty. The unpleasant texture of the meat was distracting though. I would be interested to try this dish again with a nice loin chop rather than a shoulder chop. I think it had the potential to be good. As it was, no one was too impressed with it.

Here is the recipe.

Walking home from work tonight I was hungry and craving, of all things, macaroni and cheese with hot dogs in it. My mother used to make that for us sometimes when I was little and it was awesome! Her macaroni and cheese is amazing, and the hot dogs just brought it to a whole new level. I knew there were no hot dogs in my apartment, nor the makings for homemade macaroni and cheese, but I figured I could count on there being a box of Annie's Macaroni and Cheese in the back of the pantry. By the time I made it home, I had completely come to terms with this as a substitute for my mom's cooking. However, the cupboard was bare -- no mac and cheese to be found! I started scrounging through my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer, and without really thinking, just started throwing something together. I made some pasta, caramelized some onions, browned some chorizo (yeah, I don't have mac and cheese, but I have chorizo -- go figure!), and threw in a few other pantry staples. In the end, it wasn't macaroni and cheese with hot dogs, but I had a nice dinner of rotini in a carmelized onion and garlic sauce with chorizo. It reminded me how much I enjoy the challenge of cooking a dinner just from the pantry. I am so used to cooking from The Book, where I carefully purchase all of the ingredients in advance, and follow the recipes strictly, that sometimes I lose sight of how fun it is to just rummage through the kitchen, throwing things in a saute pan. It was quite nice to return to that tonight.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sauteed Watercress (Page 588)

  • Date: Saturday, November 10, 2007 -- 9pm
  • Location: Somerville, MA
  • Kitchen: Matty's Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Dining Companions: Russ and Paps
  • Recipe Rating: C-


I picked recipes for dinner last night before knowing that Paps and Russ were coming over. I never would have chosen this recipe for company (especially not Book dinner first-timers) because it didn't sound promising. Indeed it was bad. Ok, true, I rarely appreciate bitter greens. But as bitter greens go, watercress is actually one of my favorites. This preparation was pretty foul though. Watercress is lovely raw on salads or sandwiches. It provides a bit of a bitter crunch. This cooked watercress, however, was tough and extremely bitter. The Book claimed that the watercress would "mellow" with a gentle saute, but this was far from true. This dish was anything but mellow. The other fundamental problem with this dish was that it was very tough. We certainly could have done a better job removing all the bits of stem from the watercress, which would have helped on this point, but I found that even the leaves were rather tough. Russ suggested that this dish wasn't inherently bad, but would have been better if the watercress had been replaced by spinach. I definitely agree with that assessment. At it is written though, my recommendation would be to avoid it!

The recipe is here.

I am writing this on the flight home. It's always the same kind of plane between Boston and Indianapolis: 13 rows, 4 across. Its pretty small. At other points in my life I would have been terrified on such a small plane. Actually, who are we kidding: I wouldn't have been on such a small plane in the first place. Throughout graduate school I flew from Boston to Chicago and then took the bus home to Madison rather than getting on a plane like this one.

On Friday, sitting on the airplane, I was remembering a time in my life when I was so scared to fly that one of my major goals was to make life choices that required little travel. I had to laugh when I thought about that -- I did quite a poor job accomplishing that goal. First I went to college 2,000 miles away from my family, then graduate school 3,000 miles away from the friends I made in college. I took up a profession with conferences and seminars, both often requiring traveling. I moved to the middle of the country where the airports (and hence the planes) are small. And the really shocking one: I am in a long distance relationship. So I travel. This is the 14th flight I have taken since the beginning of August. I won't lie and say I love it. I won't claim I don't get scared. But I do it, and actually it's ok with me.

There is one indisputably wonderful thing about flying: it is gorgeous! We are above the cloud cover now and in every direction there are seas of white billowy clouds. The sun is shining and it's spectacular.

Strawberry Salsa (Page 896)

  • Date: Saturday, November 10, 2007 -- 9pm
  • Location: Somerville, MA
  • Kitchen: Matty's Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Dining Companions: Paps and Russ
  • Recipe Rating: A-


I was looking for recipes that were quick for dinner last night, and this strawberry salsa fit the bill. It was quite simple: finely chopped strawberries, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro, seasoned with sugar, salt, and lime juice. It was delicious though! The various components were perfectly balanced. The strawberries gave it a lovely sweetness, while the onion brought in a savory note. The jalapeno provided a very subtle kick and the lime juice contributed the necessary acidity. I served it with goat cheese on bread (one of the many suggested serving options in The Book). The mellow goat cheese provided a lovely contrast to the vibrant fruity salsa. We ate this casually with dinner, but it would also make a lovely appetizer by spreading goat cheese on small toasts and topping with this salsa. This recipe was quick and easy, while also being a bit out of the ordinary. It was definitely a winner.

It is the salsa from this recipe.

As usual, I had a very lovely weekend in Boston. As I had planned, I slept and slept and slept! It was amazing. I slept for 10 hours on Friday night, then I took a nap Saturday afternoon, then slept 9 hours Saturday night. I am now feeling very refreshed! And sore -- Matty and I lifted weights yesterday. I have to shamefully admit that I haven't lifted since I moved to Indiana. I have been working out (running, pilates, etc...) but I just haven't been lifting. After achieving my goal of doing a pull-up last spring, I lost motivation. I am going to start again though, and as a first step, I lifted yesterday at the MIT gym. Now I can barely move my arms!

Matty's friends Russ and Paps were also in Boston for the weekend, so we had them over for dinner last night. We had a fun Book dinner (although most of the food was pretty mediocre -- it happens!). I felt a little guilty hanging out with Matty's friends last night, since I never even see any of my own friends on these super-short trips to Boston (sorry everyone!), but he hadn't seen them for a while, and they were only in town for the weekend. Fortunately next semester I am teaching Tuesday-Thursdays, which means that my trips back to Boston will be Thursday night to Monday afternoon, rather than Friday night to Sunday afternoon. That way I will have plenty of time to see my friends in Boston, who I miss very much!

Russ took a picture of Matty and I enjoying some beers.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes (Page 582)

  • Date: Tuesday, November 6, 2007 -- 10pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: C+


I love all varieties of potato, prepared in all varieties of ways, so I thought this recipe would be a sure winner. It wasn't so good though. The flavor was nice (although a touch bland). It's hard to go too wrong with sweet potatoes and maple syrup! But the texture was disastrous. I cooked the sweet potatoes longer than was indicated in the recipe, to try to get them as tender as possible. They seemed tender, but they just didn't mash well. I have had difficulties before with mashing sweet potatoes. They are more fibrous than their not-sweet cousins, and that makes it difficult to get a smooth puree. I failed with a regular old masher, so then I put them through a potato ricer, which helped matters significantly. But, they were still fibrous and slightly chunky in a way that was very unappealing. Even in the picture you can appreciate how not-smooth they were. There was also too much butter and cream relative to the potatoes. You might think that wouldn't be possible, but there was so much liquidy stuff that the potatoes couldn't absorb it all, so the dish was slightly separated. Overall, this recipe was not a winner. Perhaps cooking the sweet potatoes longer would help, and then maybe whipping them with an electric mixer. As it was though, I can't recommend it.

Here is the recipe.

Before I had my MacBook (which I love!) I had a PC, which was getting old. It would work pretty well for a little while, but every few days it would start to slow down and beg to be rebooted. After a restart it was refreshed, and would again be more or less functional for a few days.

These past few days I have felt like that old PC, desperate for a reboot! The trouble with going to a conference from Friday afternoon to late Sunday night (as I did last weekend), is that I didn't get my usual quota of weekend catch-up sleep. So I am dragging a little bit this week. I am trying to get motivated to travel again tomorrow. This weekend I am going to Boston. I am hoping that the traveling will be uneventful, and the weekend will be very relaxing! I am definitely planning to sleep a lot while I am there!

Speaking of, I am going to go to bed now. Yes, it is only 10:30pm, but I am exhausted!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Lamb and Feta Patties with Pepper Relish (Page 514)

  • Date: Tuesday, November 6, 2007 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: A-


This recipe was part of my ongoing effort to cook more from the meaty sections of The Book. These lamb patties were excellent. They were moist and flavorful. The lamb was nicely balanced by the feta and mint, without any one flavor being overpowering. The broiler gave them a nice caramelized exterior, which was delicious. I would imagine that they would also be lovely grilled. They weren't quite done after the recommended 8 minutes in the broiler, and when I opened the oven to check them, so much smoke poured out that I set off the smoke alarm (broiling = lots of smoke). It took so long to get the annoying alarm sound to stop that I was scared to turn the broiler back on. So I finished the patties in a 400 degree oven for a few minutes, which seemed to do them no harm. The relish was also very tasty. It was strongly flavored, as relishes often are, but it paired nicely with the lamb. The sweet-peppery-mustardy -acidic flavor of the relish provided a great contrast to the mild lamb, feta, and mint flavors of the patty. Overall this was a strong dish. I made it just for myself, but I would happily serve it to company. It was very quick, easy, and delicious!

Here is the recipe.

Tonight we had a Yay Women in Math! pizza dinner in the department. I'm never too sure about these events in a new place. Sometimes they have the flavor of a bunch of mathematicians, who all happen to be female, hanging out and eating dinner. Sometimes they have a more "Woe is me" feel to them, where everyone talks about the burdens they bear being women in math. The former-type of event I find quite fun, the latter makes me a little uncomfortable. True, math is not a gender-balanced discipline. But I don't feel that I have ever been treated badly because I am a woman. In fact, I don't feel that my gender has much influenced my career at all. I have no complaints about being a woman in math.

Fortunately, tonight's gathering definitely fell strongly into the "mathematicians getting together to eat pizza" category, and not the "complain about being women in math" category. It was fun. I met some graduate students that I didn't know. We sat around, eating pizza and salad, swapping teaching stories and other anecdotes. Yay women in math!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Dark Chocolate Shortbread (Page 688)

  • Date: Monday, November 5, 2007 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Recipe Rating: C


I was tired last night, so I picked this recipe because it was quick and easy. I know it is hard to imagine that shortbread could be bad, given that it is made up mainly of butter and sugar, but this recipe was bad. It had numerous flaws. The shortbread was dry and ridiculously crumbly to the point where it was nearly impossible to even get the cookies off the baking sheet. There was so little sugar that the cocoa made the shortbread taste bitter, rather than pleasantly chocolatey. I had imagined a buttery, delicious shortbread, with the addition of chocolate. What I ended up with was very disappointing.

Here is the recipe.

November is here, and the cold is starting to set in. Normally I like this time of fall very much. The leaves are changing, the air is a little brisk, and Thanksgiving is on the horizon. As holidays go, Thanksgiving is one of my favorites (as you might imagine, I enjoy holidays that involve lots and lots of cooking). In the 5 years I lived in Boston, I spent most of my Thanksgivings with the Douglas/Hanau clan, and those holidays are some of my favorite memories of living there. Last year at this time Michael and I were planning a big meal for the holiday. A lot was going on last fall and the big Douglas/Hanau Thanksgiving almost didn't happen. Chris and Michael felt strongly about having it though, and when I offered to cook, that sealed the deal. There were 12 of us around the table and it was perfect. I never would have thought, sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner a year ago, that it would be my last holiday with Michael. It would be months before we would find out that she was dying. I just keep thinking about it -- about how much has changed in a year. It scares me how it is possible to lose so much so quickly.

This year I am not going back to Boston for Thanksgiving. In some ways I wish I was. But honestly, I'm not sure I could handle being there. Sitting down to dinner with everyone except Michael just seems like it would be unbearably difficult.

Dark Chocolate-Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches (Page 866)

  • Date: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 --8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Chris, Teresa, Mike M, and Matty
  • Recipe Rating: A


Teresa invited me and Chris to dinner at her place on Halloween and I offered to bring dessert. Emilee bought me ice cream sandwich molds for my birthday in April, and I hadn't tried them out yet, so I figured Halloween was the perfect occasion! I made this recipe exactly as written in The Book, except at the end I molded the ice cream sandwiches into pigs, cows, and stars! They were delicious! This recipe is a winner. The recipe for caramel ice cream is divine, and could easily stand alone (without the cookies, or even the chocolate chunks). The ice cream was just a touch on the sweet side, so I worried that the sandwiches would be too sweet. The cookies were a touch on the not-sweet side though, and it ended up balanced perfectly! The cookies were wonderful both frozen in the ice cream sandwiches, and just eaten plain (one of many advantages of the ice cream sandwich molds: lots of leftover cookies scraps to be eaten!). They were deeply chocolatey and chewy! I will definitely start using the cookie part of this recipe as my standard chocolate cookie recipe. This recipe is definitely a winner. It's a bit time consuming (making caramel, then custard, then ice cream, then cookies...) but worth it! I think this recipe is about as good as an ice cream sandwich can be.

I am sad to say that this recipe is not online.

There are some things in life that I have always thought of as free. However naive, health care falls into that category. Of course I know that health care is expensive. I am aware of all the people who don't have insurance, or can't pay their medical bills because of the outrageous costs. Cognitively I know these things. But I have been in school forever, and university health care plans for students are often very thorough and either very cheap or free. At MIT the health insurance for graduate students was magnificent, and free. Before that my parents had me covered on their health insurance, which they paid for. This is not to say that I don't shell out a few hundred bucks each year for my annual MRI. But basically, despite the odd assortment of health issues I have had through the years, it never really sunk in how expensive these things can be. Dental care has also always seemed free to me. At some point my parents kicked me off their dental plan. I never bought dental insurance in graduate school, so essentially I never went to the dentist. If you never go, it's free! Once every couple years I would visit my parents' dentist when I was home, and my mom would cover it. But, now I have a real job, with dental insurance. So today I went to the dentist. And it was free! BUT, I have two cavities (no doubt due to my dentist-free lifestyle)... Cavities are not free it turns out. They are more free than they would be without insurance, but they are still far from free. I left the dental office without scheduling my fillings. I will call tomorrow and do it. I know leaving my cavities untreated would be a poor decision (root canals: presumably even less free than cavities). But somehow, standing there today, I felt that scheduling that appointment would be admitting that I am really an adult now. I have to pay for medical care, and dental care, and after years of deferral because I was still in school, I have to pay off my college loans from my Stanford days. Ah, growing up!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Cranberry Ketchup (Page 892)

  • Date: Tuesday, October 30, 2007 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Chris
  • Recipe Rating: B+


I chose this cranberry ketchup because I haven't made anything from the Sauces and Salsas section in a while. This "ketchup" was pretty good. It had a lovely cranberry flavor, made savory by onions and five-spice powder. The consistency was just right for a ketchup-type sauce. I am not a huge fan of fennel and anise flavors, and they were quite strong in this sauce, so that was a drawback for me. However, that is a matter of personal taste. I ate this sauce on some Chik Nuggets (my sauce receptacle of choice!) but I think it would really shine on pork. The flavors in this recipe were quite seasonally appropriate right now. It was a nice alternative to more traditional cranberry relish.

Here is the recipe.

I was so exhausted this morning that although I set three alarms, I overslept! I woke up in plenty of time to teach, but I was still dragging during my classes. The downside of traveling most weekends is that it eliminates the option of catching up on some sleep and relaxing at the end of the week. This coming weekend I am making one of my crazy 36 hour trips to Boston. The following weekend I am staying Bloomington (yay!). The weekend after that I will be in Columbus, Ohio, and the one after that I will be in Auburn, Alabama. After that, things will settle down for a couple weeks -- or at the very least, I haven't made plans yet!

For now, I will have to get some sleep while I can. On that note, I think I will head off to bed!

Chinese Five-Spice Powder (Page 932)

  • Date: Tuesday, October 30, 2007 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Chris
  • Recipe Rating: B+


This five-spice powder was a component of another recipe I made last week. These spice mixtures are always terribly difficult to grade. It's not as though you can really eat this plain, so you are forced to grade it in the context of something else. It's hard to eat a dish (in this case Cranberry Ketchup) and pick out what exactly the Chinese five-spice powder contributed. I can say this: it was pungent. If I knew more about Chinese cooking, I could probably comment on the balance of the five spices (peppercorn, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, and fennel) in this recipe. In my opinion, it was a bit heavy on the fennel/anise flavor. That is a matter of personal taste though. Freshly ground spices are always better than stale, bottled ones, and this certainly had a freshness and pungency that is often lacking in store-bought five-spice. It was a breeze to throw together, so if you are in need of some five-spice powder, it's worth trying out this recipe.

This recipe isn't online.

I am back in Bloomington after a weekend of conference fun! Yesterday my talk was at the early hour of 8:30am. The session lasted most of the morning, and then Mike, V, Chris and I went to grab some lunch. After lunch we still had a few hours before the next session started, and we were contemplating what to do with ourselves, when suddenly it hit me: mini-golf! On Saturday night I had seen a sign for the Go USA Fun Park (no, I am not kidding...) where there was a variety of fun, patriotic activities: miniature golf, batting cages, driving range, video games, skee ball, Go-Karts, etc... We started with mini golf. Despite an impressive hole in one early on, I lost miserably! It was tremendous fun though. I laughed so hard I could barely breathe on several holes. After mini-golfing we decided we needed to do a little Go-Kart racing. I hadn't been in a Go-Kart since I wrecked one when I was little (whoops!). It was traumatic. But yesterday I got back behind the wheel and we had a great time. If you are ever in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, I highly recommend the Go USA Fun Park.

After the afternoon session of conference talks, I drove back to Bloomington. I was sick of being in the car, and pretty exhausted, so I wasn't super-excited about driving 5 and a half hours by myself. But eventually I got into the groove of it, and I managed to make it all the way home without stopping once (luckily my car has a big gas tank!).

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Brisket a la Carbonnade (Page 423)

  • Date: Sunday, October 28, 2007 -- 10pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: A-


I have been trying to make more of the meat recipes in The Book. Matty picked out this recipe. It was very tasty. The brisket came out tender and delicious after many, many hours of slow cooking. The sauce, composed of onions, beer, and beef bouillon, had a deep, rich flavor. I sliced a bit of the meat (as in the picture) but I found that it was even tastier shredded and drenched in the sauce. The recipe made lots of sauce, so it was lovely served with a big chunk of bread for delicious dipping. This meat reheated well and was all around satisfying. It cooked for a long time, but it took very little effort, and tasted great!

This recipe is not online.

Hello from Murfreesboro, Tennessee! Today was long, but fun! The conference started at 8am, and there were talks essentially all day. After the talks we went out for dinner with the people in our special session. Now we are back at the hotel. Mike, V, Chris, Kate, and I hung out in the hot tub for a while, and now I am about ready to go to bed! This seems like an especially good idea since my talk tomorrow is at 8:30am.

It's great to be here, surrounded by friends, hearing everyone talk about their research. Chris and I had a fun drive down yesterday (6 hours, but it flew by!). We met up with Mike and Vigleik here, and the four of us are staying in adjacent hotel rooms. We have been having a fun time --hanging out and catching up!

Now: time for bed!