MonthAugust 2010


I suddenly realized why I hate the “humor” in Shakespeare so much: comic timing depends on confounding your expectations of rhythm in speech, so nothing is funny in meter! Also Shakespeare was bad at jokes.

More cooking stuff

I have these two recipes in text files on my desktop, which is dumb because I can’t see my desktop when I need to use them and I am separated from my desktop by three hours and a mountain range. Both are extremely healthy and require a sophisticated palate to appreciate.

Dirty Chicken
(so named by Kara & co on True Blood night; brought to us from Kentucky by Monica)

1 cup shredded or cubed mozzarella
1/2 cup cheap ranch dressing
1/2 cup hot wing sauce (yes, you can buy this in bottles at Safeway)
8 oz cream cheese
1 10-12 oz can chicken (like canned tuna, only… it’s chicken)

Mash up in a glass or ceramic bowl. Microwave for three or four minutes, stirring every minute. Eat with chips. Serves party.

This next one is what I made for months when I wanted potatoes until I discovered an amazing secret recipe for perfect french fries, which I am not going to link to because it is too awesome. MY THIRD-BEST POTATO RECIPE: I HEREBY BEQUEATH IT.

Boiled Fried Potatoes

About 8-10 new potatoes, either Yukon gold or red
3 Tbsp butter
Kosher salt
1 Tbsp thyme
1/2 tsp white pepper

You need a seasoned cast-iron skillet for this because otherwise they’ll stick like demons.

Mash up a tablespoon of the salt and the thyme with a mortar and pestle. Scrub the potatoes and chop them into 2-3 little discs per potato, cutting off the ends so both sides have an exposed surface. Place the potatoes in a single layer on the skillet, add just enough water to cover them, turn the burner to medium-high and add the mixed salt and thyme and the butter. Then wait for the water to all boil off.

When it’s gone–you will know because the tenor of the hissing sound has changed and the bubbles look different–turn the heat down to medium. Continue to fry the potatoes, flipping once and moving the interior potatoes to the sides of the pan once the first side is golden and crusty. When both sides are golden and crusty, add more salt and pepper, then eat. This serves about two hungry people.

NOTE: You can substitute olive oil for the butter but it’s not as bad for you.


Maybe everyone already knows this, but whenever I make a cream sauce for pasta, the recipe calls for heavy cream and I never have any on hand. What I usually do have is sour cream, which works way better! The taste and texture are great, you don’t have to reduce it, and it combines with olive oil more easily. You can splash in a little milk or water if it’s too thick.

(Awesome things to sauté and toss in said sauce: garlic, shallots, tomatoes and shrimp or smoked salmon.)

Pedagogues and Mountebanks

This is pretty spectacular.

“I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave.

That’s an excerpt from Erica Goldson’s valedictory address, which she wrote and issued earlier this year. Read the whole thing: it’s brief but convincing.

I wasn’t first in my class, but I was close, and I was aware of many of the issues Goldson raises even then–though less concerned, at a more self-centered time in my life, and mostly just happy that they were working in my favor. (Another thing we had in common: the textbook inspirational English teacher.) I’m less complacent these days, less willing to accept the cruel theater of fear and shame that we expect smart young people to suffer with piety. Our schools are bad, and their splash damage is everywhere.

I’m not sure what use I can be to education reform right now. It’s one of those issues that is never urgent but always important, and I need to figure out a path to involving myself in the cause. Erica Goldson’s example seems like a good start.

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