Sunday, April 29, 2007

Burned Out

This is why I don’t date:

I’m throwing 2 parties next week (for the release of Spiderman 3 and Cinco de Mayo, both of which require celebration.) I anticipate that each will have between a dozen and three dozen participants.

I organized a group date this week to go see the Imani Winds. I was turned down 6 times before I found a date.

Admittedly, this was a tough sell. She had to like classical music. Not only that, she had to like a wind quintet playing Latin/African/Asian music. The show was great, but even I had no assurance that it would be (other than being 1/5 bassoon.)

If by some slim chance the girl that I went with reads this, I do like her and did have a great time. The fact that she was my seventh choice was not a statement on her quality, just that she’s not someone I often associate with, so wasn’t my immediate pick.

My parties are more successful, don’t involve rejection, and require about the same time and energy. Now I just have to convince myself that the Celestial Kingdom is organized around the party system.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Partymeister

So I plan two types of activities: church and personal. Although the two usually involve the same people, there is a big difference between the two.

For instance, my last church activity was Newsies Night. Now you’re probably thinking this was lame, because Newsies is lame, but it was pretty awesome. I basically turned the watching of Newsies into a Mormon Rocky Horror Picture Show. I watched Newsies 2.5 times (that part was pretty lame), coming up with different ways for the audience to interact with the movie. Everyone yells Nerd whenever they say Dave’s name, and Yee-haw when they say Cowboy. I provided wiffleballs for people to throw at the screen to try to hit different targets throughout the movie. People had newspapers to rip up and squirt guns to shoot when they yelled “Soak ‘em.” I was going to have printed copies of the lyrics waiting for everyone, but luckily the DVD has a feature where the lyrics run at the bottom of the screen like a Sing-Along. We had hotdogs, popcorn and drinks in the back to enjoy when you got tired of singing Santa Fe as loud as you could. I think that if I were in Provo this activity would’ve spread like wildfire across the stakes.

My last personal activity was Poker Night. We had 4 pairs enter the tournament (I manage to fit dating in every so often) which admittedly was 1 pair too many to play 7 Card Stud. To fit with my original concept of Appearance of Evil Night we had IBC, Tootsie-pop cigarettes and a plentiful supply of poker chips that I had found on sale. We spent the first third of the evening eating subs from our new favorite sub shop and just generally hanging out. Then I taught the group how to play draw, stud and hold-em poker. At the end of the night we gave prizes (mostly chocolate-based) to the top chip-holders (which definitely was not me.) We finished off the evening by watching Casino Royale, since it’s really a waste of any evening to not use our giant TV. We may have a second round in the next few weeks using Maverick.

I think both activities were pretty successful. But it’s interesting how there’s no way I’d exchange the personal activity for a ward one, or vice versa. The next ward activity will be an American Gladiators picnic, and the next personal one may be a Spiderman countdown. If I’m writing in my blog at all by that point, I’ll let you know how they go.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Craziest thing today

I was at the gym (crazy!) and happened to glance over at the magazine rack. I'm not sure why, because I don't get magazines anymore. I tried reading People once and Sports Illustrated once and both hurt my head equally. I now have a subscription to Entertainment Weekly entirely for the purpose of reading while at the gym. In any case, I happen to look over at the rack and saw two Victoria's Secret catalogs. Who in their right mind would read Victoria's Secret at the gym? I can think of no acceptable scenarios.

For those of you hoping for some commentary on my actual life: too bad.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Culinary Cliffdiver

I actually like cooking, but do it very rarely. I haven’t worked out the details yet, but I’m pretty sure that there’s a grid that describes the pros and cons of cooking. One axis would be taste, another would be convenience. Another would be for cost, and perhaps another for skill. Perhaps a final one would involve actual nutrition. Like I said, I’m working on this and will try to get it down to three axes. Though I don’t consider myself skilled, I’ve yet to really fail at anything I’ve tried. It’s counterintuitive, but taste isn’t my biggest concern in cooking either. I’m not a picky eater in the slightest. I’m still operating under the delusion that my body can handle whatever I put in it, so nutrition doesn’t get too much attention. Which means that cost and convenience are what keeps me from cooking, which is pretty accurate. I can eat cereal and Wendy’s for about 3 dollars a day, and it only takes 15 minutes out of my entire day. Kind of sad, kind of amazing.

In any case, I’ve cooked quite a bit in these last few weeks. Really the only thing that gets me cooking is socializing, and that’s exactly what happened. Dinner parties. Unfortunately for those who attend, I don’t like making things I’ve made before. But each of these turned out fairly well.

Colcannon

I threw a dinner party for Saint Patricks, so needed to come up with an Irish dish. After a thorough search of Irish cuisine on Wikipedia I decided on colcannon, primarily because the name is great.

3 pounds potatoes, scrubbed
2 sticks butter
1 1/4 cups hot milk
Freshly ground black pepper
1 head cabbage, cored and finely shredded
1 (1-pound) piece ham or bacon, cooked the day before
4 scallions, finely chopped
Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish

Steam the potatoes in their skins for 30 minutes. Peel them using a knife and fork. Chop with a knife before mashing. Mash thoroughly to remove all the lumps. Add 1 stick of butter in pieces. Gradually add hot milk, stirring all the time. Season with a few grinds of black pepper.
Boil the cabbage in unsalted water until it turns a darker color. Add 2 tablespoons butter to tenderize it. Cover with lid for 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly before returning it to the pan. Chop into small pieces.

Put the ham in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes until tender. Drain. Remove any fat and chop into small pieces.

Add cabbage, scallions, and ham to mashed potatoes, stirring them in gently. Serve in individual soup plates. Make an indentation on the top by swirling a wooden spoon. Put 1 tablespoon of butter into each indentation. Sprinkle with parsley.

I don’t always follow recipes very well. For instance I only used a half head of cabbage (because the rest was used in the cornbeef and cabbage) replaced the ham with Canadian bacon (which my research indicated is more authentic for Ireland) and added some garlic and used non-freshly ground pepper. I know, I’m a rebel.

Review: It was pretty great, if I do say so myself. I’ll certainly make it again next St. Pattys, and perhaps before.

S’More Bread Pudding


I was asked to make a dessert starting with an S last week for a ward activity. Despite being in charge of these things, I get stuck with stupid assignments. In any case I originally planned on making some S’Mores, but eventually decided that was too slackerly and found this bread pudding recipe. Enjoying most everything British, I thought I’d try it out.

2 cups milk, scalded
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup graham crackers
1 cup marshmallow cream
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter

Mix all ingredients in the order listed. Place in a greased casserole dish and bake at 325 degrees for one hour.

Review: Pretty good. The marshmallow made it hard to tell when it was done, so it was a tad overdone. But seeing as this was bread pudding, that meant it was closer to cake than mush. So it wasn’t a wild hit, mostly because people thought it was a cake. I added to the S’Morishness by toasting a couple marshmallows and having them poke out at random intervals on the surface of the pudding, as well as extra blocks of Hershey chocolate and graham cracker squares. It was an interesting looking thing, but quite tasty.

Squash and Zucchini Thingy

I don’t often do vegetable dishes, so made up a couple using squash and zucchini. The first involved frying the veggies (cut into circles) with butter (I have yet to buy any manner of cooking oil) and lemon juice. After browning them I layered them in a casserole dish adding a bit of parmesan and mozzarella cheese between each layer. I made a second batch later in the week to get rid of the rest of the veggies and this time used more lemon juice, cut them into small wedges and added them to a batch of rice made with a bit of milk and garlic. Both variations were good, but I slightly preferred the rice dish.


This is test week so cereal and Wendys will do nicely.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Sporting



This post is meant to inform you of 3 completely unrelated points, tenuously united by the word sport.

1. I am sporting a new haircut. I had been experimenting with long hair with mixed results. This is perhaps the nature of more extreme styles (fashion or otherwise.) People were quite polarized about my hair. Some people loved it, others hated it. I don’t think the lovers were necessarily in the majority, but they were the ones I cared more about.

It had been about 4 months since I had my hair cut, and that cut was more of a trim, so I was working on about 6 months of growth. I’d had the top fairly long before, but the sides and back were now knuckle-deep (3-4 inches?) It was a more interesting length since I could actually do different things on different days instead of really having just one look.

I ended up cutting it for a variety of reasons. Primarily I started working with real patients this week, so thought it would be good to have a more traditional haircut. A couple weeks ago a girl had complimented me on my hair, but did include the caveat that she wasn’t sure she’d like her doctor to have such a coif. I also had a friend tell me, and I quote “Chris, don’t take this wrong, but from this angle you have girl hair.” Plus I found a barber across the street from my favorite spot for Philly cheese steaks, so the deal was done.

2. I attended the National Championship of Table Tennis on Friday. I’m not terribly enthusiastic about Ping Pong (they refused to call it this at the event) but I was quite tired of studying. And really, how often do you have a chance to go to the national championship of anything?


Turns out that we were the only ones that thought that way. Admittedly, it was only the first round of the tourney, but I’m pretty sure we were the only spectators that weren’t either on one of the teams or related to someone that was. But we cheered loudly for our teams (most everyone but Michigan and Florida) to make up for the lack of student support.


Watching the games was fun, but the best part was having one of the players trying to recruit us. We told him that we were only good enough to play in our garage (a lie because I’m awesome and don’t play in a garage, but it was easier than explaining that he’s part of a silly sport and that we play in an Institute and med student lounge) and he told us that’s where all great players start. He said that some members of their team had only been playing for 4 or 5 years, so we could easily get involved. His na├»ve enthusiasm was amusing to us cynical folk.

3. We watched OSU reach the championships last night. I don’t really care about sports at all (though basketball is infinitely more interesting to me than football. But it still ranks a far distance behind most any other thing I can find on the television) but I’ve become addicted to throwing get-togethers. I seriously throw one, if not more a week. It’s no wonder that I haven’t been dating much when I either throw a church-sponsored activity or a private one most every weekend. So in order to satisfy my addiction I invited a bunch of people over and we watched the game thanks to the glory of Tivo.

Though I’m not passionate about the game it is nice to have my team as one of the top two in the nation. Everyone in Columbus is quite concerned that Florida may beat us again (they beat us in football this year to become the national champs, a spot we had expected to hold all season) which is a neat bit of drama. Though I have to say that being the 2nd place team in both basketball and football wouldn’t be too shabby. But saying such a thing to a true Buckeye would be blasphemy. I certainly wish our team well for their big game on Monday, but more importantly hope the results either way don’t interfere with my studying for the upcoming exam.