21 February 2010

now we're cooking with vodka.

I know it's time to blog when I feel the temptation to start blowing up my Twitter feed with statements like "This pie crust is a revelation, why have I never tried this recipe?" and "Every bite of this pie crust convinces me that I'm a good person, and also, a genius," and of course, "Why don't I make apple pie more often so I can have apple pie for breakfast more often?"  

That's where I'm at right now.

I hadn't been too happy with the outcome of my last pie crust-- everybody said it was good, but I was aware-- perhaps there's some latent Mormonness at work here-- that it wasn't living up to its eternal potential.  So since everybody always talks about the vodka pie crust recipe, and I actually had vodka in my freezer for once (it was fun while it lasted), I tracked down the recipe (who knew vodka was the key to anyone's eternal potential?).  With that effort came, unexpectedly, some very useful method tips (I know, as if a Cook's Illustrated recipe requires more method tips).  

The results were pretty good.  I still feel like it needs something- maybe some brown sugar in the goo, a touch of almond flavoring in the crust, some sliced almonds on the top crust, apples with actual flavor- but really, this is probably the best all around pie I've ever made.  You can find the filling recipe here, the pie crust recipe here, and a hefty dose of pie crust learnin' right here.  

If you actually let the pie rest like you're supposed to, you won't get pie soup, but around here we like our pie piping hot at 11pm served with a side of fresh whipped cream.  But just look at how light and flaky that crust is!  Wowsers.  My cup of baking vanity runneth over. 

14 February 2010

all it requires is a little bravery. or a lot.

While I can't say I was as deliberately observant of Valentine's Day as I was in years past (heh), I can say that:

A. That pulled pork sandwich I woke up craving? It was delicious.  But I would've eaten it anyways.  In fact, I will probably find a way to eat one tomorrow. Because bitches treat themselves every day, not just on days when other people are going out to dinner.

B. It's blurry and teeny and obscured by a tree branch, but I can see a lit-up heart from my laundry room.  Awwww:

C. This bit from the NYT Modern Love section made me verklempt:

"What is love, anyway?
Ah, best for last. If I were Spock from “Star Trek,” I would explain that human love is a combination of three emotions or impulses: desire, vulnerability and bravery. Desire makes one feel vulnerable, which then requires one to be brave.
Since I’m not Spock, I will tell a story.
Say you decide to adopt a baby girl in China. You receive her photo, put it on your refrigerator and gaze at it as the months pass, until finally you’re halfway around the world, holding her in your arms, tears of joy streaming down your face.
But later in your hotel room, after undressing her, you discover worrisome physical signs, in particular a scar on her spine. You call the doctor, then head to the hospital for examinations and CT scans, where you are told the following: she suffered botched spinal surgery that caused nerve damage. Soon she will lose all bladder and bowel control. Oh, and she will be paralyzed for life. We’re so sorry.
But the adoption agency offers you a choice: keep this damaged baby, or trade her in for a healthier one.
You don’t even know about the trials yet to come, about the alarming diagnoses she’ll receive back home, the terrifying seizures you’ll witness. Nor do you know about the happy ending that is years off, when she comes through it all and is perfectly fine. You have to decide now. This is your test. What do you do?
If you’re Elizabeth Fitzsimons, who told this story here one Mother’s Day, you say: “We don’t want another baby. We want our baby, the one sleeping right over there. She’s our daughter.”
That’s love. Anyone can have it. All it requires is a little bravery. Or a lot."

D. This song popped up on the internet today.  I'm not usually such a sap, but I liked the sentiment:
Happy Valentine's Day from Philly!

11 February 2010

parking, trolleys, and sharing the road.

A couple of days ago, I had what I thought was an interesting experience on the trolley.  I've been riding the trolley quite a lot lately because of the snow.  Reading from the bottom up, here's how the incident unravelled (I live tweeted because that's what you do when trapped on a trolley, naturally):

As the snow storm unraveled, and I spent a damn lot of time at home, I found that my experience was not all that uncommon.  As it turns out, people tend to park too far away from the curb during snow storms all the time!  

Unfortunately the trolleys can't go around.

(yesterday, 3:00pm)

Unfortunately people living on trolley streets have to listen to the trolleys honk in vain- sometimes for twenty minutes- before an individual comes out to move their car.

(tonight, 7:30pm)
(it's hard to see, but I considered doing violence to that BMW. 
that's not what anybody wants! this is the city of brotherly love, after all)

So in the spirit of community and such, if you're going to drive during inclement weather, park considerately. 
 Sharing the road is not just a bike-related transportation issue.

(tonight, 11:30pm)

08 February 2010

bicycle graveyard.

I liked this recent story about our own Bicycle Coalition Bike Ambassadors wielding tools to rid the city of skeleton bikes."  One of my professors claims that these bikes are not so much victims of theft as abandonment- and once they've been sitting around for a while, the restaurant worker subculture of bikers (see in highest volume in Center City near Broad Street between 12am and 2am) will part them out so they can get parts for their own bikes.  While I don't know if that's true, I am sure glad the BCP is out there cleaning up.  

Then of course, it snowed in Philly.

Many people opted not to ride.

Like me.

Others left their bikes right where they were. Many of the racks at Temple had one or two bikes emerging from the melting snow or wedged in between heaps of plowed snow.

At home, our own resident unfunctional bike- a victim of a broken chain- has taken a turn at modeling. 

01 February 2010

my life in bike stats.

Big Brother and I have a monthly bicycle miles accountability routine.  Tonight we checked in and I went a little crazy with my numbers.  They reveal a lot about my habits- though not entirely, as there was a lot more bussing, subway-ing, and walking in January than a typical in-school month.  But here's what I was up to on my bike:

I rode 118 miles.
I rode 82 of my total miles on or after school started on January 19.

I rode 35.3 of my total miles at night.  
Are you watching for bikes when you drive at night?

I failed to encounter zen and the art of bicycle maintenance.

I averaged 3.8 miles a day, or 6.2 on days that I rode (I like my days off).
My average round trip was 4.9 miles.

A. 32% of my miles involved acquiring or imbibing drink.*
B. 27% of my miles involved picking up library books or amazon.com orders from the post office.
C. 26% of my miles involved getting groceries.

There was no overlap between A and B or A and C. There was a teensy bit of overlap between B and C thanks to a sweet new supermarket by my school.

I had a Church of the Granny Bike moment on my folding bike.

I made 15 round trips on the Dahon.
I made 11 round trips on the Old Dutch Treat.
This was the first month that I've ridden the Hello Kitty bike more, thanks to my snazzy new headlight.

I've ridden approximately 685 miles since going car-free last August.  Amazing what the body can do without the Honda, isn't it?

All routes were checked using Google Maps. My lifetime car-free cumulative numbers include some earnest fudging from unrecorded rides early on and when I was on vacation away from my lovely spreadsheet.  All errors are due to the fact that I'm a historian who's never taken a statistics class. All bike miles were accrued wearing regular clothes for the purpose of transportation. All January miles were accrued wearing a helmet.

*Know your limits before you get on your bike and plan accordingly (that's how I roll). Drink and ride responsibly, judiciously, or not at all. I'm not here to tell you how to live your life so don't blame me, sue me, or judge me.  I'm not looking for a conversation, that is, unless you are the awesome dude who was hauling a mega-case of bottles on your front rack in 20 degree weather the other day.  Because that was awesome and required some serious skills.