Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Free Story Concept: Super Bowl Anti-History

While watching the Super Bowl on Sunday (Packers won the Super Bowl! Packers won the Super Bowl! Packers won the Super Bowl!), I was struck by a thought during the ads for commemorative Super Bowl champions gear.  I'm sure that these days they do most of the printing to order, but there's still a non-trivial amount of swag printed with the losing team as champion, "Dewey Defeats Truman"-style.  It's a fair guess that all the Super Bowl XLV Champion Pittsburgh Steelers sweatshirts then get dumped on the second-hand clothing market and ends up in the developing world.  So there's my trope, free for the taking: all the "Super Bowl Champion" commemorative swag in the developing world tells an anti-history of the Super Bowl.  Someone could make something of that.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Project: Fish Tank Stand Bookshelf

I recently decided that while I'm happily unemployed, I can occupy my time by making myself some things that I will find useful in the future.  The fact that I currently have my father's well-appointed garage workshop available is another incentive, as is the desire to develop my basic woodworking skills in the more challenging realm of furniture-making.

For my first big project, I settled on something that will accommodate a small portion of my absurd private library, as well as display a pursuit of mine that I don't think has come up before, tropical fish.  This was also my opportunity to learn how to use Google Sketchup.  Here's what I came up with:

The thin lines on the lower portion are dowels which will support the bookshelves.  You may notice I neglected to include them on the rear verticals; Sketchup was giving me fits with the cylinders. The shelf above the tank will hold a deep tray for plants, with growlights for them mounted in the topmost frame.  I don't know yet what I'm going to do for a finish.  I'm leaning toward a dark stain to try to minimize the "clearly-made-from-2x4s" look, but I might just embrace that, put on a clear poly coat and use shiny hardware all over it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dinner: Sausage and Spinach White Bean Soup

This is an original creation that worked out pretty well for a quick weeknight meal.  I know dried beans taste way better and are a lot cheaper bla bla bla, but they also require something in exceedingly short supply for a lot of people: planning.  You want to make it with dried beans, I'm not going to stop you.  For the rest of us, here goes (sorry, no pictures):

2 fresh bratwurst
1 medium onion 
1 box (9 oz) frozen chopped spinach
2 cans (15 oz) navy or great northern beans
1/2 tsp caraway seed
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp lemon juice (adjust to taste)
salt to taste

Squeeze the sausage out of their casings into a medium saucepan over low heat, breaking it up as it starts to brown.  Chop the onion.  Add to saucepan and increase to medium heat, continuing to break up sausage as it cooks until onions are translucent and sausage is well browned.  If you've had the foresight to thaw the spinach, add it to the saucepan now.  If you haven't, no worries, just put it in the pan frozen, cover it, turn the heat down low, and wait a few minutes until your spinach block thaws.  Add the beans and enough water or stock to bring it to the consistency you prefer.  Heat to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or so.  Add lemon juice and salt to taste.  Enjoy.

30 minutes or so.  Serves 3-4 as a meal, more as a soup course.

A New Direction?

I've been having a hard time deciding whether I really have a reason to keep blogging. While I'm as plugged into politics as ever, I really don't have the expertise to justify opining about much, and Facebook has really become my venue for the daily heylookitthats. For that matter, my blog reliably gets more comments on Facebook than on the website. So instead of kicking myself that I really ought to be commenting on this or that world event (cough cough Egypt cough), I'm going to be blogging things that do matter to me personally: daily life observations, recipes, projects I'm working on around the house, that sort of thing. Dretful scorn will, of course, continue to be in the offing. It'll still be irregular and haphazard, but that's life.