Saturday, February 13, 2010

Google is Freaking Me OUT

At first I found it comical, reading the suggestions that Google lists when I started typing. (Who dat?)

But then I realized that they were following me. No matter what computer I was on...as long as I was logged into my account. See below. Notice the "remove" next to the listed search topics. These are all things that I, or someone on my computer have searched for...

The "where" is what initially tipped me off. A couple of weeks ago a colleague called me to ask if I knew how to change something in Excel. I did, but the solution required hitting the "Alt" key. Trouble is, he was using a Mac. Mac's apparently don't have alt keys. So I Googled it. At work. NOT on this laptop. Additionally, my boss made a weird joke that was sort of based on the song "Home on the Range" but we couldn't think of the words. So I Googled that too. At work. NOT on this laptop.So I decided to see what else it took from work. The hanging light question is, in fact, something I searched for here at home on this computer. The others, however, were things I searched for at work.


I guess in this day and age I shouldn't be freaked out by the fact that Google can remember me based on my account. But somehow, it does freak me out. If I searched for those things on my own computer even, I wouldn't be freaked out. I understand cookies and tracking codes and all of that good stuff...but I wasn't even on my own computer. What else are they tracking behind the scenes? What else are they holding for a rainy day?

I'm not usually one to feed into conspiracy theories and to get freaked out about big brother keeping an eye on me. This is largely due to the fact that I really have nothing to hide. But somehow, it just feels weird that Google is remembering what I searched for no matter where in the world I searched for it...

Anyone else think this is weird?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hippity Hop...

These totems were cool, but they very much reminded me of the present I received from a friend this Christmas...

All kidding aside, the opening ceremony is pretty awesome so far. Are you watching?

Epic Failure

Last month I had a very good friend of mine over for dinner while she was in town. I threw a roast in the crock pot and added some special ingredients. The recipe has been tested several times and is one of The Families favorites when I make it. It's delicious-sort of an upscale pot roast, if you will. And like I said, I've made it at least 3 or 4 times before.

That day wasn't the best-I was running late from the start and things just never caught up. I remember a bag that I was carrying broke and its contents dropped all over the ground. It just wasn't my day.

Once I picked Jess up from work (she lives in Ohio with her new husband now but still works for the same firm here in Boston) I forgot all about my day and just relaxed and had fun with my friend. We came home to my place and poured ourselves big glasses of wine and talked while I finished putting dinner together.

And that's when my day kicked my ass.

The sauce requires a thickener at the last minute. The bowl I usually used to transfer the liquid was dirty so I had to chose a different one. The minute I picked up the pan I dropped it because it was hotter than expected. When I picked it back up again I quickly dumped it into the chosen bowl only to have it overflow because said bowl was too small. I also forgot to add the spinach to the liquid to wilt it before I thickened it so I had to dirty another pan to wilt it so we'd have a green with dinner. After pouring myself another glass of wine I apologized to Jess for dinner not coming out as pretty as my dishes usually are. Being the wonderfully honest person she is, she confessed that it actually felt good to see that even someone like me-a trained chef-has days where nothing in the kitchen goes right. She said she was sorry for me, but it made her feel better to see that she's not an epic failure and that sometimes things just go wrong.

I laughed and told her I was glad I could make her feel better and then I dished out a kick ass dinner, even though it took a little longer than normal to pull it off. (We both had hearty 2nds!)

I thought of this story tonight first while I was preparing dessert for The Family (when, for some reason, my whipped cream would not whip...bowl may not have been clean, leftover fat..who knows) and again when the cookies I was making for a Valentine's Day treat for the office came out horribly.

I won't tell you where I got the recipe, but I will tell you that it was online, from a blog and that they are named "Chocolate Puddle Cookies". The picture on that blog shows rich, chocolaty cookies that look crisp yet chewy and melt in your mouth delicious. I am not certain if she left an ingredient out or if she just had really good luck because let me tell you-these were an epic failure.


The were so horrible, I can't even show them to you in color! They were crusty on the outside but remained liquidy on the inside. The flavor was not at all rich and the texture was disturbing. Needless to say, I am very disappointed. These were to be a special treat for my suite mates today. I chose these over red velvet cupcakes because they looked so delicious and easy to make and the author exclaimed how wonderful they were. And there is no flour in them, which is perfect for one of my friends who can't eat it.

So, instead of bringing in a yummy treat I'll go in empty handed. Which is OK, but I so like to make people smile with food. My only hope is that by posting this baking blunder that one of you feels the same way my friend Jess did when I poured scolding hot sauce all over my counter.

Oh, and I totally wish I could bill that girl for the $12 I just wasted!

PS. Today is truck day!!!!! (Truck Day: Red Sox equipment truck will leave Fenway Park for arrival in Fort Myers, Fla.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bella Blue Eyes...Oh How She's Grown...

This is my little Bella. She no longer has blue eyes, but when she first came to live with me she did, and the name stuck...

I also sometimes call her "Hells Bells" when she's running around like a crazy woman. She's such a sweet kitty and she's sooooo soft you wouldn't believe. It seems like it was yesterday when she wouldn't come out from hiding and now she follows me around everywhere I go like a little puppy. I hope the other kitties at the doctor don't tell her she's not supposed to do that because it's one of her most endearing qualities.

That and her little "Huh?" sound she makes. It's quite unique, actually. I've never heard any cat make this noise before. I've tried to tape it so I can share it, but she seems to know this and therefore doesn't talk when I have the camera on her. Oh well. You'll just have to trust me on this one.

Prix Fix

I have recently been thinking a lot about places I want to see and things I want to do before I die. I'm not getting morbid or thinking a lot about death, I've just been thinking about plans I want to make in the future. Most of these things involve traveling. I want to cook through Italy, sit by the sea in Greece and stroll past the Eiffel Tower in spring with someone who loves me. In addition to these dreams, I also have a long list of restaurants I would like to dine in. Most of these restaurants are not famous and many of them are local. But there is a short list of well known (at least to foodies and chefs) places which rank high on my "dream list". They are all owned by famous chefs, some of which have significantly impacted the culinary world as we know it today.
These places have fancy dishes and high prices and for most people, it wouldn't be worth it. But oh how I've dreamed of getting all dressed up and sharing a table with someone special while experiencing the best of the best. Being able to sit at a table watching course after beautiful course land in front of me would be so exciting. I've viewed the tasting menus online and know that the prices easily escalate to $250 per person. And I know that it's a lot of money. But I liken each dish to art and being able to experience that would be priceless.

I might not ever get to any of these places, but at least I have them on a list. If the list exists, there's a small chance that someday I will get to cross at least one of them off.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What's Cookin? Chocolate Bread Pudding

It's been a while since I posted any recipes and since Valentine's Day is just around the corner, I thought I'd share an easy but (super) delicious recipe for Chocolate Bread Pudding. This recipe is so easy yet so delicious it's ridiculous. Really. Anyone you make it for will swoon after eating it.* Best of all, it reheats wonderfully too...in case you get "distracted" before dessert.


Ingredients:

1 loaf French bread, cubed
3 C. Milk
1/4 C. Heavy Cream
1 C. Sugar
1 C. Brown Sugar, Packed
1/4 C. Cocoa Powder
1 T. Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 t. Cinnamon
6 Eggs, beaten
8 ounces Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Method: Preheat oven to 325. Butter a 9x13 inch pan.

1. Cut bread into cubes and place in buttered dish. Set aside.
2. In one bowl combine milk and cream. In another, combine sugars and cocoa powder. Combine the bowls whisking to avoid lumps.
3. Add the cinnamon and vanilla to the eggs. Whisk to combine, then add the egg mixture to the milk and sugar mixture. Mix well.
4. Pour the liquid over the bread and allow to soak for 20 minutes. After it has soaked in, add the chocolate chips and stir to incorporate.
5. Bake for 1 hour or until pudding has set. Because of the chips, I actually stirred my pudding 1/2 way through to ensure an even distribution.

Serve any way you want...it's OK to eat it right out of the dish!! :)

*I don't actually know this to be true, but they should. This pudding is damn good!

Randomivity

You should not to into Harvard Square on the night of the Hasty pudding awards. Especially if it's JT getting the award.

Some homeless men hide the money they've been given so that you think they only have coins.


Some Ethiopian men can't take "no" for an answer and continue talking to you even when you want him to leave.

It's weird when a man enters a bathroom but turns back to face the door so that when the door opens he can stare at you.

I purchased the 30 Day Shred video this weekend and will be starting it soon. I hope I make it past 2 days.

I had a dream the other night that a neighbor downstairs (who doesn't exist) had a key to my apartment and that he would come in while I was sleeping and lay on my couch. I heard him and came out to the living room only to see him running out. It was creepy and I couldn't sleep afterward.

Bella goes in for her surgery in a couple of weeks. :( I know it has to be done, but I hate that she's going to hurt.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Toosdae ?'s

Show of hands: Who's sick of Valentine's Day commercials!?!? I, for one, will be happy when yet another Valentine-less Valentine's Day passes. While I wipe away the tears (jk) answer today's questions...

1. Would you rather have wheels or wings?

2. What would you do if you were the last person on earth?

3. What color are the sheets on your bed?



1. Definitely wings! Imagine the places I could go! And I do love wind...

2. If I were the last person on this earth, I would cry. A lot. And I'd probably search the place for as long as I was alive to be sure that there really was not another person on earth.

3. Currently they are caramel colored but I'm about to change them to the satiny dusty bluish gray sheets I got at the Big E this fall.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Boy Bands & An Ethiopian

Friday night a friend and I went out on the town. We had planned on going out near one of the ivy league universities in the area that has a square. But while I was able to get a parking space my friend was not. 45 minutes after I parked she was still circling. Later, we found out that a certain ex-boy band member was being given an award, which is why the square we so crowded. It also explained the camera crews.

Needless to say, we didn't stay in the area.

Instead, she picked me up (we didn't want to lose my parking space, after all!) and we drove over to the next town. I'd been to a few pubs in that square and knew that it would at least be busy and that we'd have a good night. We chose an Irish pub that is pretty well known that was bustling with people.  Almost immediately I made eye contact with a cute boy with red hair.  He was almost burly and he was wearing an Irish sweater.  Sort of weird, actually, and stereotypical, but he might actually have been Irish knowing this place.  He looked at me a few more times and finally came over to my friend and I.  He stood facing us, opened his mouth and then turned around quickly.  He chickened out.  This is somewhat flattering, but also frustrating.  It's been a loooong time since I've been approached in a bar and the fact that there was this potential was exciting.  And then it fizzled.  If our table had not been ready at the precise moment, I would have said hello.  But it was ready, and my friend and I walked away and the burly red head was never to be seen again.

Unfortunately, another man was seen.  A very weird man came over to our table and asked to sit down.  My friend said "no" but he sat down anyway.  We looked at each other and sort of laughed and went along with this strange man sitting with us.  We could not understand most of what he said.  His accent was very thick and the music was loud.  What we did get out of the conversation was that he is from Ethiopia and that it takes 20 hours to fly here.  He thinks he is old (he's 30) and he loves girls with bangs. (FYI-neither of us have bangs!)  Over the course of the next 2 hours, this man visited our table at least 3 other times.  He blocked us in so that we could not leave the table and kept us hostage while telling us we needed to broaden our horizons, never to buy a house, and that our lives would be over once we turned 30. (We somehow convinced him that she was 18 and I was 20!!)  He was nice, but also weird.  And he had bad breath.  Which sucked because he leaned over our table and talked right into our faces.

The last time he came over I started looking at passerbys with crazy eyes secretly asking them to come save us.  No one did, but I think the Ethiopian man saw me because he said it was the last time he'd bother us and he said goodnight.  Not wanting to test the theory of whether or not he was telling the truth, my friend and I stood up and went to leave.

Only to see that he was standing by the door.  Seriously, this man never quit.  As we approached he tried getting our attention.  Luckily my friend was not having any of it and she blew past him in a flurry of red.  We burst into the cold night air laughing and looking behind us, hoping he would not follow.

Luckily, he did not.

And so that concluded our night out.  Our night where we hoped to talk to cute boys while flirting and laughing.  Instead I got a no talker and a super stalker.  But at least I got a story to tell.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Crafty Sunday

The other day I was fed up with my jewelry, specifically my earrings. (I always hang my necklaces so they were already out of the way.) They were clumped together in a messy pile on my dresser mostly because I had nowhere to put them. The majority of the time they reside in a ziplock bag in my drawer which means I never wear them. And when they do find their way out...well, they end up in a messy pile. So it's a vicious cycle.

As I looked around the apartment this morning I saw a funky picture frame that I picked up at a severe discount ($2) because the back of each frame is missing. My plan was to fix it and hang it in the hallway, but that proved to be a little hard than I thought because of its configuration.

Frames are stacked on top of each other making this a 3D piece.


Because the frames had to remain open, I thought that it would make a great jewelry hanger. So I searched around and found some leftover wire and tiny nails and strung them from one end to the other.

And then I tackled the messy pile of earrings on my dresser...

And added the frame to my already hanging necklace rack...



And sat back and enjoyed a cleaner, more organized bedroom...

Best of all, this project cost me nothing to create (well, I guess it was technically $2, but I didn't have to buy anything extra to do the job). I'm very happy that I was able to use the frame because I really like it and I'm psyched that I might finally remember to wear some of the earrings I own!

Next up: Dishes. Less creative, but oh so important!