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Haggis Virgin

Until last night, I’d never tried haggis and never really wanted to. But, we went to a lovely Scottish restaurant last night (“we” being Arun, Bert Bos, Chaals, Chris Lilley, Shawn, Carolie, Richard Ishida, Thomas and Liam – they were all here for the W3C AC Rep meeting), and they had haggis as an appetizer. And well, that was the opening. We all convinced each other than it was OK to try it as an appetizer because it would be a “wee little haggis.”\
So, we got it, and shared a few. Shawn and I were “haggis hosts”, and Arun and Thomas were our “haggicytes.” And you know, it was actually quite good. It’s really rich, but the barley gives it a kind of weird texture. I don’t think I need to eat it again, but I’m no longer a haggis virgin. My haggishood has been taken by a charming wee chunk of barley and sheep organs. Yum.\
Dinner was a lot of fun. I love hanging out with really smart people, and these guys fit the bill. They’re all brilliant, and terribly funny. We laughed a lot (I think the whiskey and wine helped), and told a lot of embarrassing stories about ourselves. Good times.\
Today, it’s conferencing, which probably means less fun (and wouldn’t you know it, it’s not raining today).


The Perfect Milkshake

Jen decided that we needed pizza and milkshakes for dinner tonight. Since I’d recently scored a sweet blender from Woot! and we had lots of ice cream in the house… we were all set. They turned out so well, I thought I’d share the process (since milkshakes are kind of hard to get “right” at home… and I’ve tried).\
Makes three awesome servings.\
h4. Ingredients

* 1 ~~gallon~~ half gallon (or whatever their round regular container holds) of Edy’s (or Dreyer’s, or any other creamy ice cream – Breyer’s probably wouldn’t work because it’s too icey) Cookies and Cream ice cream.

* 3 cups of milk

* 3 small bags of Mini Oreos

* Some chocolate syrup.

* 3 straws

* Whipped Cream\
h4. Directions

  1. Pour the three bags of oreos in the blender and pulse on the chop setting until they’re broken up.
  2. Add about half of the ice cream into the blender.
  3. Pour in one cup of the milk.
  4. Liberally apply chocolate syrup (if you like that sort of thing).
  5. Pulse in 3 second bursts on the highest setting, about 10-12 bursts.
  6. This should give you a really think mess of wonderful, and it should have brought the ice cream down to a level where you can add the rest of the ice cream (whatever will fit and still give you enough room to add the rest of the milk).
  7. Pulse again in 3 second bursts until the rest of the ice cream and milk are incorporated – should take about 10-12 hits.
  8. Split it up among three cups, stick a straw in it, and douse it liberally with whipped cream.
  9. Enjoy\
    I have never heard such happy noises from my family. We even let Brian have a little bit and he cried when it was all gone. It was awesome. It is the only milkshake that has made me want to cry. I think I might have actually shed a tear when it was all gone.\
    Oh, and the measurements are all approximate. I don’t measure stuff… sorry if I guessed wrong, but you’ll still get a milkshake out it, so how bad can it be?\
    Tomorrow night, mint chocolate chip.

Start The Day With A Good Cry

I swear, this almost never happens to me. This morning, before work, I cried uncontrollably. It was like floodgates opened, and all the liquid in my body left through my eye holes. Did I have an emotional breakdown because of all the things I can’t tell you about? Nope, it was those damn boiler onions. I was throwing a roast in the crockpot, and for some reason, those little onions hit me wrong. I couldn’t open my eyes for almost five minutes, the sting was so bad. That almost never happens to me, especially with those little onions (now, white onions are a whole different story).\
It wasn’t all bad… now my eyes feel great, perfectly refreshed and ready for a long day of staring at a monitor.


Superman (Yummy Chocolate Superman)

What did I do before work today? Did I take a shower? Did I get dressed? Did I take my medicine? Yes to all of the above. What else did I do? I made chocolate chip cookies! Yes, before work! I am Superman.


Cooking Shows That Don’t Suck

This Salon article on cooking shows was entertaining, and I can’t agree more with their take on Good Eats, but I think they missed one: Molto Mario. In 24 minutes, Mario can make you believe you can create good Italian home-cooking, and he’s right. He gives you the basics, and the tools for doing pretty much anything you want. After three shows, you’ll be braising to your heart’s content. And, he’s entertaining to boot.\
I don’t agree that you can’t learn anything from Iron Chef. I’ve learned a lot from it – how to cut up a chicken, carve a roast and some really cool ideas for soups, stews and roasts. Yeah, it’s out there, but when you break it down, it’s still a cooking show.


How To Buy Sushi

You’re Google is my command. So, I’m on the first page of yet another weird query at Google. This time, it’s “how to buy sushi“. Since I aim to please, I’m going answer this one. Not because I’m an expert with sushi. I’m not. I’m a pale chubby American, like I assume the person who ran the query that brought them to this page on my site (which really had nothing to do with buying, but with NOT buying sushi). Since that post didn’t help anyone, maybe this one will.

Kevin’s Suggestions for Buying Sushi

  • For your first sushi experience, go to a Japanese restaurant, better yet, go to a sushi restaurant. I know, if you live in Vicksburg, Mississippi, this may take some travelling. It’s worth it. Anything you buy in Piggly-Wiggly will be a real crappy first sushi experience (if it can be called “sushi”).

  • For your first pieces, stick with rolls (they’re the ones with the seaweed wrapped around them). Start with a California roll, or some variation on it. They usually contain cooked fish or crab and are a good place to start.

  • Go really easy on the wasabi (the green stuff). That little bowl that came with your sushi is to mix a healthy amount of soy sauce with a little bit of wasabi. And make sure you mix it in well. You don’t want an errant chunk searing your nostrils closed.

  • If you dig the rolls (and you will), move on the tuna and salmon. I love tuna sashimi. I love salmon sashimi. You will to. Remember, dip in soy/wasabi mix and pop the whole thing in your mouth.

  • After you’ve conquered your fear of raw fish, you should check out red snapper and yellowtail. If you’re still up for an adventure, try octopus and eel (I personally don’t like octopus – it’s like eating a big pink eraser).

You will find fairly early on that sushi is surprisingly filling. It’s all the rice. Trust me, you won’t need a lot to make your belly happy. OK, I hope that helps the next person that comes looking for tips on buying sushi. My work here is done.

UPDATE: To address Tim’s comment, you can get sushi that contains fully cooked fish!! A lost of the rolls, and other pieces use cooked fish. If you’re concerned about it, ask at the restaurant. They usually have a whole section of the menu for you chickens.


Must Try… HORCHATA!!!

I love Horchata. That recipe will be attempted toute suite!!!


The Gardening Geek

It all started so innocently. I took Max to the Farmer’s Market last summer, and I bought a basil plant (because every three year-old needs to learn about death, right?). We took it home, put it in a pot on the window sill, watered it religiously, and watched it grow. It lasted the rest of the summer and most of the fall. I decided my black thumb curse was over… It was actually kind of fun watching it grow and using it in my cooking. So, I started a little window sill garden, just a couple plants. Max and I bought a cilantro plant, an oregano plant and a sage plant (that met an untimely death while I was in France). We had an extra pot, and Max and I took some crushed red pepper seeds, a couple snap peas, some peppercorns and (I think) a couple others I don’t remember and planted them. Surprisingly, two plants sprouted!! I have no idea what they are, but they’re both getting a little unruly and I had to replant them. Of course, I was out of pots. So, off to Lowe’s for more pots…

Now, it’s June, and I think I’ve officially gone over the cliff. I planted some roma tomato plants about a month ago, some new basil (the old one got old and feeble) and recently some rosemary and chives. I also moved our two gigantic plants and the tomatos to a big window box that’s still not outside. I even built a trellice… see for yourself:

the left side...

and the right

Max helps me water them, and we check on them every day. Like I said, it all started so innocently.


I Would Refute It, But It’s True

Guess who’s number one on Google for “greatest pot roast“? Yup, me again. And unlike the last time, I’m not refuting this one. Not only is it true, it truly is the world’s greatest pot roast. Really, no kidding.

The best part is that the recipe, with minor alterations, works for pork and chicken too. Just modify the bouillon used to marinate and baste. Oh, and if you don’t own a crockpot, you should.


The World’s Greatest Pot Roast

Because someone asked how I made my perfect roast, I figured I’d share my recipe. This recipe is for a 5 quart crockpot. If you have a smaller one, use enough to fill up your crockpot and that’s it. If you don’t have a crockpot… why not? Go get one, now! So, here goes:


  • 1 \~5 pound beef roast

  • 5 – 6 medium sized potatos

  • 12-18 mini carrots

  • 5 large stalks of celery from the outside of a celery bunch (don’t buy the celery hearts, get the real stuff. The stalks on the outside have a stronger flavor.

  • 1 smallish red onion

  • 1 smallish yellow onion

  • 2 beef boullion cubes

  • 1 vegetable boullion cubes

First, dissolve one cube of beef boullion and the vegetable cube in two cups of boiling water. In a glass baking dish or large bowl, put the roast in, and pour in the two cups of broth. The roast shouldn’t be completely covered by the broth. Now, cover the top in a healthy dose of salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cover the dish and put in the fridge for at least two hours (mine was in overnight).

While your roast is marinating, let’s do potatos. Wash them, and then chop them up into 2-by-2 inch chunks (cubes are for the French… rest assured, they’ll be yummy no matter what the shape). Then, take the long celery stalks, wash them, and then cut to fit in the bottom of the crockpot (I just had to break them in half). Skin your onions and chop off the ends.

Dissolve the last beef boullion cube in one cup boiling water, set aside for now.

In a large skillet pour about two tablespoons of olive oil and turn on to high heat. When the oil just starts to smoke, take the roast out of the marinade and drop it in the skillet (then step back). Turn heat down to medium high, and brown on one side for five minutes, then flip and brown it for five more minutes. Turn off the heat and let the roast rest for a minute.

Here’s the fun part. line the bottom of the crockpot with the celery stalks, then enough carrots to cover the bottom. Now, take the roast out of the skillet and plop it into the crockpot on top of the carrots and celery. Cram your two onions between the roast and the side of the pot, and then dump in your potatos. Your potatos shouldn’t be so high they’re overflowing (your top should fit snugly). Right before you turn your crockpot on and put the lid on, pour the beef broth over the whole thing.

Turn your crockpot on high, and leave alone for no less than 5 hours (I think mine was in for 7 or 8). When it’s done cookin’, plop the whole mess, minus the celery on a big platter and serve. You’ll freakin’ love it.