Mr. Angst and I like Mardi Gras. One year, we had a big party, with big pots of red beans and rice, and hurricanes, and some XXX-version of Girls Gone Wild. Our guests danced and played Truth or Dare Jenga, and one of our fun guy friends gave someone a lap dance. (That was his dare.)
So it makes me very sad that I spent today, all day, at school. I had class. Then I had studying. Then I had three hours of group editing. And now I have law school musical rehearsal.
I wore beads today, to show spirit; they’re bright purple and match the lining of my jacket. But somehow they don’t make up for it. It being that today is MARDI GRAS and I have been in this building for…close to twelve hours now. It’ll be fourteen before I leave.
I’m glad February is over. I just wish it weren’t leaving with one of my favorite holidays.
I’m not sure, really, what to add to that, except that I am also generally pissed off at the universe–or, at least, at some not-insignificant percentage of people I come into contact with on a daily or weekly basis. Most of them don’t deserve to be the subject of my pissiness, unfortunately.
Two weeks to spring break. Two weeks.
For Christmas, I got a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated for Christmas and I finally received my first issue yesterday. I love Cook’s Illustrated. So Much. This issue had a new recipe for pancakes, which I tried out this morning. Yum. (OK, it was a recipe for blueberry pancakes, but the author stated quite clearly that a good blueberry pancake starts with a cook pancake recipe. So I made them without blueberries. A bit fluffy, but tremendous.)
The other thing I love is America’s Test Kitchen, the companion TV show to Cook’s Illustrated. ATK airs on PBS and is like a 30 minute Cook’s Illustrated fix. Right now, I’m watching a (rerun) episode all about turkey. While it’s not Thanksgiving season right now, I can always use pointers on turkey. (Though I do make a wicked turkey. From a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, no less. This episode is about cooking a BIG turkey, though, and I’ve never done that.)
The thing that I love most about Cook’s and ATK is the common-sense approach. Every article in the magazine takes you through the numerous tests required to produce the “perfect” recipe, whether that recipe is for pancakes, pork tenderloin, or even pan-roasted asparagus. The ingredients are generally simple–the sort of thing you’d tend to have in your pantry, or could get at your local megamart. And they make sense. Instead of throwing out terms like “cream,” assuming the home cook knows what that is (FYI, beating softened butter and sugar together to introduce an aerated, whipped mix, often required in baking cookies or cakes), the recipes are clear, even for the novice cook.
And the magazine has no ads. (Nor, actually, does the TV show, since it airs on PBS.)
A final bonus: the magazine has beautiful illustrations on the back cover, of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and a variety of other food products. You can frame them! (I have a friend who has.) If you like to cook, then, check out the magazine, the TV show, the website. And fall in love.
[Update: Um, I wondered why the issue didn't have a month listed on it; I also wondered why there was an envelope tucked into the plastic sleeve with it. Turns out, my gift subscription hasn't arrived yet; this was just a "Please Renew!" compilation issue, since I let my old subscription lapse last summer. Sigh. I guess I have to call Amazon.com (through whom the gift subscription was ordered) after all.]
A lot of people hesitate to try their hand at risotto because they think it’s too much work. It’s really not, though. Risotto isn’t hard to make, it just takes some time, and it’s so versatile that you can make it go with anything.
Here’s my favorite version.
1 tbsp olive oil (and 1 tbsp of butter, if you wish)
1/3 cup finely diced onion (or shallot, if you wish)
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups chicken broth (or any mixture of broth and water)
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
See! So few ingredients! It can’t be that hard!
Put a saucepan (a saucier is probably best, but a regular saucepan will work) over medium-high heat.
Add the olive oil and butter and heat until the butter melts and foams. Add the onion (or shallot) and cook slowly. Don’t let the onion burn or fry; stir constantly so that the onion gets nice and soft. I like to cook the onion for a good 10 minutes, because Mr. Angst doesn’t like crunchy onions. Plus, the softer they are, the sweeter they get. (Oh, and don’t use red onions; they turn everything pink.)
Once the onions are soft and fragrant, add the rice. Stir the rice in the oil/butter until it’s toasty. Don’t burn the rice grains, but if they get a little browned, it’s OK. Stir the rice in for a good two minutes.
While you are stirring the rice, heat 1 cup of chicken broth until almost boiling. When the broth is hot and the rice is just starting to turn toasty, add the broth to the pot. It will probably sizzle and steam. This is OK. Stir everything in well together and let the broth come up to a low boil. Keep stirring to help the rice absorb the liquid.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 cups of the liquid. (It’s OK if you don’t use all broth; you can use some water. But use some broth, for the flavor.)
As the first cup of broth is absorbed, add more liquid, in half-cup increments. Keep adding liquid as it is absorbed. The rice should have a creamy texture now. Keep stirring and stirring and stirring all the while. (OK, it doesn’t have to be constant, but don’t walk away for twenty minutes or anything.)
Once you’ve added all the liquid, and the rice is creamy, add the lemon zest and juice. Stir in and cook for a couple of minutes to help the flavors meld. Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the cheese, and serve! Yummy!
Today has been a frustrating day.
Frustration Part I: group projects in general, particularly the waiting part of group projects. I think I’ve decided that’s the major reason I dislike collaborative stuff–I would rather work on my timeframe and not have to coordinate schedules and stuff.
Frustration Part II: stupid CSS. I am working on a website and it looks exactly like I want it to, except that the container [div] tag that wraps around the content and sidebar [div] tags won’t work right. It’s supposed to wrap around in code and in fact, and give the whole thing a nice border. Instead, I get a 1px high box with a border, underneath my two side-by-side sections. If I set a height for the box, though, it works. But because the content will grow, I can’t make the damn page a static size. So I am seriously annoyed.
On a high note, though, dinner turned out well. It might have been better if we’d had better wine to go with it. Unfortunately, all we have is a Dee-Lite-Ful Ernest & Julio Gallo Shiraz. Mmmmmm. (No, really, it’s drinkable, but doesn’t pair well with my delicately flavored lemon risotto. Recipe to come.)
Finally, it’s Friday. All of my obligations for the week are over. Mostly. I did all but a small slice of my reading for the week, I wrote up my part of a group assignment due next week, and I collected several more articles and cases for my next legal writing assignment. I even went to to the gym and ran this week.
And I’m not exhausted. Instead, I feel antsy, edgy, twitchy. Even if I shouldn’t be tired (which is questionable), I should at least feel more relaxed–I made it through the week and managed not to either completely collapse or totally throw in the towel. But no. My brain is running a mile a minute. There are a dozen things I think I need to be doing, but I can’t really do any of them.
Looking over the last five days, I suddenly realize this has been one of the longest weeks of the year for me! I didn’t mention it earlier (I don’t think), but I had an interview late last week for a fall externship with a judge–and I got the position. That’s really exciting! But right now I feel like I’ve been living with that knowledge for a month, not a week. Law school really is a marathon, and I’m coming really close to hitting a wall in this stretch of it.
I have stopped bothering to attend law firm receptions. I have a hard time understanding the purpose of them. Sure, I can schmooze with people and enjoy the free food and drink but, barring the unexpected, such events aren’t really fruitful for either me or the firm. If I meet nice people and chat with them for a while, I can collect a business card, sure, but in six months, when I’m doing OCI, is that person going to remember me? Am I going to remember, short of the business card, what firm that person worked at?
Firms put on these events to play themselves up for us. That’s great. But in the end, of course, most of the firms end up looking the same: they have similar offices in the same four-block radius, they have the same kinds of clients and the same kinds of cases. The associates all went to the same law schools. They’re all eager to talk up their firm. They never tell you that the hours are awful or that they never see their spouse.
So I’ve stopped bothering to go to them. I suppose this could be at least partially because I am totally anti-schmoozing. But I think more of it is because I have so little time that spending it at fluffy social events doesn’t really appeal.
Since I don’t drive anymore, I don’t get the chance to listen to NPR news, Morning Edition, All Things Considered, or The World anymore. When we moved to Our New City, I looked up the public radio station number, just in case, but since I commute by public transportation, it doesn’t do me much good at the time of day when listening to the news is most convenient.
I had also looked for NPR podcasts, but found none. Perhaps I was too early–after all, the last time I looked, the only NPR program available was On the Media. A great show, but not exactly the news.
Well, guess what? Since that discouraging search, several months ago, NPR has gotten on the ball. NPR now publishes several podcasts, all of them available in iTunes. First, I can get news updates through the day. And while I can’t get the entire program of All Things Considered or Morning Edition, I can subscribe to the individual stories–NPR Technology, or NPR Music. Which means I get hours of NPR programming, ready to download to my iPod and listen to on the train, or in the library, or while I’m walking around the city.
Thank you, NPR, for publishing your podcasts online. Those of us who don’t drive have been waiting for this. And now that I can hear public radio again, I am more likely to subscribe to public radio.
You know what I’m starting to notice?
The collegial atmosphere in my Law School has started to dissipate. People who I would normally consider very noncompetitive are starting to develop little tics–like shaking their heads in disbelief when someone says something wrong in class, or sighing audibly when someone says something they disagree with. While some people have been doing this sort of thing all year, I’m noticing that it’s spreading. Now it’s not just the gunners, it’s a smattering of nice people, too.
Spring Break, as my counter shows, is not far away. It can’t come too soon, for my mental sanity and that of my classmates. At least the ones I like.