Saturday, July 31, 2004

Imogene's Fried Green Tomatoes

To tell you the truth, I did not like the movie. Though the dish is one of my favorite ways to prepare tomatoes. Making fried green tomatoes is a ritual I never miss each summer, and now that I've got a garden full of them, I'm simply in heaven. I cannot escape the call of the green tomato as I prefer them to the red. The secret to truly tasty fried green tomatoes is plenty of freshly ground pepper.

Fried green tomatoes
4-5 large firm green tomatoes sliced 1/4" thick
3/4 c. corn meal
1/2 c. flour
2 large eggs
1/4 cup thick buttermilk
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
canola or corn oil.

Mix all the dry ingredients. Spread out the flour mixture in a deep plate. Beat the eggs slightly. Add the butter milk to the eggs and pour onto another plate. Salt the tomatoes lightly and coat each one on both sides first in the egg bath and then in the cornmeal and flour.

Heat about 1/4# inch deep amount of oil in a non stick skillet over medium high heat. Place the tomatoes in the hot oil and fry 4-5 minutes on each side. Tomatoes are done when lightly brown on each side. Drain over a bed of paper towels. Serve with plenty of catsup and Tabasco!



Thursday, July 29, 2004

My new litany

You cannot worry too much about what others think.
You cannot worry about failing.
You can only do what your good at, and and do your best.
No one owes you anything except for courtesy, and you can’t expect even that.
Be nice, play nice, observe (for now)


I keep telling myself this every morning as I walk into the building.  In the past, I spent too much time worrying about how I did not fit into my old group, and also fearing that I wasn’t living up to their expectations. A genuine lack of trust held that group together with uncomfortably tight stitching. Management habitually did not relinquish control over projects even at the finest detail.  Recognition was not unheard of; however, people more often got rewarded for fighting fires rather than setting up solid and sound processes.

Somehow, I don't get the same uncomfortable feeling with this new organization that I got from the get go with PHB central. I think that there's a difference in both management style and understanding of long term goals and the big picture. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Chicken craving

Oy, how I’m dreaming of the Chiccharon de Pollo and Yellow rice at Café Con Leche on Amsterdam Avenue in NY. Maybe it’s because I’m listening to Tito Puente right now. Someone help me! Does anyone out there know how to make Crispy Fried Chicken Cuban Style?

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Prayer to the Dogs of Common Sense

Is it me or are people 'higher up' making a lot of short sighted decisions based soley on dollars and the bottom line? Is it me or are these people completely out of touch?

We have a new HR system which includes ( employee job search, posting of requisitions, paystub data tool, and much more). Our IT group farmed out the development of this system of tools to a branch in India (not that I have anything against India, and I will explain my position about outsourcing to India and other countries below. Now, it seems like common sense to me that they would study the people using the tool and also do extensive q & a as well as usability testing on something that is used by practically everyone in such a large company (tens of thousands). But I suppose that that is too much to ask because it costs more in time and experienced people (which India is short on). On top of this, no adequate training has been provided for using the tools, but again this costs money. It's cheaper to load the burden of learning and time needed on to the employees, after all they're all salaried anyway.

Moving jobs out of the country may be an inevitable thing. It only makes sense that once an industry is developed and fully formed that we pass it on to others in developing nations. While we focus our energies on innovation and development of new areas of industry. However, I honestly do believe that many of our corporations are run by a generation and breed of careless, self-serving, and amoral individuals, who are more interested in immediate returns than in building foundations and systems in industry that are more stable and yield for a longer period of time. Because their aim at ends are focused on the short term, the act quickly and with regard only for the 'bottom line' as they call it. So they've relocated jobs in droves to third world countries, but they did not give these budding areas time to grow or develop or even benefit from the knowledge of the employees at home.

I suppose no one including you is interested in hearing this anyway and the systems both economic and political are too badly meshed for anyone to affect any change, but then I've always considered prayer to be a form of mental and emotional masturbation.

A few things I have learned about tomatoes

1. ) Do not water overhead excessively. Instead water at the roots.  Too much water on the leaves can cause a fungus.

2. )Don't walk among the plants while the leaves are wet as you can pass on any diseases to your other plants.

3. )Too much nitrogren fertilizers can encourage the growth of certain fungi

More great information:

Preventative maintenance for vegetables
http://muextension.missouri.edu/explore/agguides/hort/g06202.htm

Common garden diseases
http://muextension.missouri.edu/explore/agguides/hort/g06203.htm

Composting:
http://muextension.missouri.edu/explore/agguides/hort/g06956.htm

 

Zucchini Bran Muffins

Back to the task of unburdening myself of zucchini. I played around with some recipes I found for Bran Muffins annd I came up with the following recipe. If there's anything in the world I cannot stand, it's a dry bran muffin. Yes, bran muffin's are 'functional,' but we assume that the muffin's texture should match it's function. Wrong! I played around with the amount of fat (shortning) and subsituted the zucchini in its place. The result was a very moist muffin with a pleasing texture. At least I think so.

Zucchini Bran Muffins

1/2 c. shortening or butter
1 1/3 c. white sugar
4 eggs
3/4 c. molasses
2 c. shredded zucchini, undrained
3 c. buttermilk
2 c. boiling water
3 c. bran cereal (not the flakes)
3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
3 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Raisins
Nuts
Bran Flakes

But the 3 cups of bran cereal in a heat-proof bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Combine and let sit for at least five minutes. In another bowl combine the flour, soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar and add the eggs. Combine well. Add the molasses, buttermilk and zucchini mix well. Gradually add the mixed dry ingredients.

The batter itself can be refrigerated up to a week (normally without the zucchini you could keep it in a tightly sealed container for about a month).Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups. Before baking add the raisins, nuts or bran flakes to the portion of batter you plan to use.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Conversation between two women waiting for the train

"You really are something else."
"What do you mean by that?"
"You're not going out tonight are you?"
"Nope."
"Why not?"
"Don't want to."
"Ahhhh, I know why you've got a date."
Silence.
"Hey, why be so tight lipped? Give it up."
"I don't think so."
"It's that Marcus guy."
"No, it's not. Not that it's any of your business."
"Besides, I think he's gay."
"Really? He didn't seem gay while we were fucking."
"Hahaha... you're a regular comedienne. Hey what about him over there. That tall fellow. He's working as an analyst for Marketing."
"Great."
"He's just your type..."
"And what's that?"
"Tall, dark and asshole."
"You may have just put you're finger on something there. I'm a sucker for pricks and I just can't help myself around a self-serving arrogant bastard."

Salad Days

It was about 102 degrees outside today. The heat usually drives away my desire for anything served above a temperature of 70 degrees. So I turned to a summer staple of mine. We never ate salad or raw vegetables when I was a child. Vegetables were usually sauteed or stir fried or served cooked with meat or fish. I associated the eating of raw leafy vegetables with our pet rabbit. Fortunately Filipino-Chinese are not fond of rabbits... for dinner. Now, duck or swine, are different matters all together.

Chicken Salad with Cashews
2 boiled chicken breasts cooled and diced
2 stalks of celery chopped
1/3 c. chopped red onion
2 small cans of pineapple in chunks (reserve the juice)
1/2 c. chopped or halved cashews
1 tbsp basalmic vinegar
3 tbsp mayonaise
salt
white pepper
zest of half an orange
baby spinach leaves
1/4 c. golden raisins (optional)

If the chicken appears to be a little dry soak it in about 1/3 c. of the pineapple juice. Salt the chicken lightly Mix in the vegetables and cashews. In a small bowl mix 1/3 c. of the pineapple juice, the mayonaise basalmic vinegar, and pour all over the chicken salad. Add the orange zest. Toss the salad so that it's coated evenly with the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the the raisins, if desired. Serve on top a fresh bed of baby spinach.

 

 

Friday, July 23, 2004

Answer

Five Questions:
1. Do you think you could love the Elephant Man?
Yes. However, his association now with Michael Jackson may make it somewhat difficult.
2. What superpower would you like to possess?
I would like to be an earthquake preventing virgin (I think she's a catholic saint)
3. If you were forced to move to a third world counrty, which would you choose?
This one is hard... I'd say Brazil, because Carmen Miranda is from there.
4. What conspiracy theory do you believe in?
Sorry if this is boring... but the MAN is stickin' it to us all including his best friend the MC (Middle Class)
5. Have you ever wanted to date a cartoon character?
Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop. Now, everyone knows the extent of my dorkiness.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

This is why you should not stay in a job you hate

From that movie Trust:

"How was work today?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
"Can you stop watching T.V. for a moment?"
"No."
"Why?"
"I had a bad day. I had to separate my principles and kowtow to an idiot. Television makes these daily sacrifices possible. It deadens the inner core of my being."

I'm not saying that everyone can have super cool day job where they feel their fit is perfect in the group and role, but hey it's not like you have to give up wishin, hoping and trying for such a job.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I have two more days...

that I have to deal with listening to your group's dysfunction!  I will no longer (hopefully) have to turn up the volume on my headsets so I won't have to hear you yelling at your customers or the people who support you. I mean it's almost 8:00 PM and I'm only here because I have to pack up my stuff. Go the F. home!

That's right, byatch!

Two days and I'm gone!

Monday, July 19, 2004

Since I brought up the subject...

about women being 'dumb.' I think that I will finally admit that my ex was right when he said that men make just as many bad choices in their 20's as the women do, and that there are bad girls out there in abundance. And I will admit that in my own f'ed up fashion I may have been one of them... for a at least a little while.
 
I've watched friends of mine who date the most f'ed up manipulative people of either sex and some who just date people who (unwittingly or not) contribute to recurring pattern of their own self-destruction, and I've watched some of my younger friends who just need to date many people to understand what's right for them. It seems to me that some people will do what they must and date whom they want, regardless of whether it's a bad/wrong/destructive choice. There's no stopping them, and really there's no point in trying to interfere with their choices. You can only hope that eventually they'll learn and move up.
 
Whatever you do... never think it's too late.

Late night...

Paint your own icon
Pretty darn cool:
 
http://illustmaker.abi-station.com/index_en.shtml 
  
And most papers  today write at a 7th grade level ?
From the beancounter's site (pdc as well!), I found out that I am dumber than an eighth grader from Salina, Kansas, circa 1895. But considering that most people probably stopped going to school after the eighth grade level(especially in argicultural communities) I think that's a fair amount of knowledge to know. Besides I have a sneaking suspicion that the teachers back then taugh to the tests as well. How unimaginative of them. Still, it's really sad I think that most Americans today cannot define the basic parts of a sentence. 
  
 

Men are in bars and she can't find a penis

I was once asked (and I'm not to unsure that the question wasn't directed to me because of some of my own bad choices), "Why are women so retarded when it comes to knowing a good guy from a bad one?" 
 
I think that I once postulated here that somewhere on the time line of human evolution women once sought out the aggressive and more daring members of the opposite sex with the implicit understanding that these males who pass on the 'aggressive' traits to their offspring, thus insuring their success in the world. Millions of years later this evolution has resulted in ridiculous theories about Men from Mars and Your Personal Venus.
 
I'm nearly 35 and I still can't claim that I completely understand where my sexual identity and my personal emotional needs meet. I'm just hoping lie down and wait until it all passes and I hit menopause. (Of course, I'm kidding. You must be out of your mind not to think so). But three things I have learned:
 
1.) NOT to base what I want or desire entirely on
a.) Social conventions.
b.) What my friends or other people think.
c.) What my parents want (God, that should have come first).
 
2.) To listen to myself.
 
3.) Consider who his friends are.
A person is only as good as the company they keep. And though you can assume (as I did in my twenties) that we're all individuals and in charge of our and possess our own character and personality, your friends paint a pretty good picture of what you will tolerate or what you care about. I went on a few dates with a guy then realized that it would never work when I saw that his friends all wanted to know what I did for a living and what company I worked for.
 
More, it seems to me that I see so many people both male and female who seem to think that it's okay to settle for what seems right for the stage of life they're in (ie. the house, the husband, the school district, and the patio furniture)... the only thing I can say is: Ignore your heart, and one day it'll come back and kick you in the ass

I'm not sure what this means. Every Monday morning when I come into work I feel hungover despite the fact that I don't drink anything. I enter the building feeling highly disoriented and in a physical schlump. Is it because I've spent the whole weekend high off of the idea that I am not at work?

Note to self

Don't over water. All of this domestic/gardening stuff is quite new to me. Someone who for the most part could not successfully raise houseplants.  I noticed a number of yellow leaves on one of our tomato plants so I assumed that it was 'thirsty.'
 
Apparently my diagnosis could be wrong. Yellow leaves in tomatoes may indicate that the plant is being over watered.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Those bastard weeds... and how to get rid of pests without poisoning yourself

I spent a good two hours weeding this morning. People often boast that they will one day have a rock garden in their yard, but it seem that this is more maintenance than a regular garden, and putting down plastic mesh all over the ground seems to be as wrong as having an astro turf lawn (except in Colorado). 
  
I found a decent article on good weeding practices here: http://www.yougrowgirl.com/garden/gardenofweedin.php
 
On the same site I also found recipes for organic insecticides you can make in your kitchen. I will probably try the orange spray this week as I've been noticing that something is eating my mustard greens.
http://www.yougrowgirl.com/garden/pesticiderecipes.php
  
 


Brown rice. It's not just for breakfast any more.

When I lived in NY for grad school, I noticed that all the Chinese restaurants around town served brown rice as well as the traditional white rice with meals.  I was astounded when asked by the waiter. Brown rice or white?  "White, of  course!" I would look at him incredulously.  What was this? Brown rice with my stir fry?
 
For years, I'd associated brown rice as chiefly a breakfast food. Brown rice as cereal with raisins, cinnamon, milk and brown sugar has always been one of my favorite breakfast treats. 
 
This morning instead of preparing in the traditional way (toasting then boiling it for 45 minutes). I had left the rice out to soak in a few cups of water overnight. I drained the rice and added two parts of water to every part of rice in a thick pot. Covered it, brought it to boil, reduced the heat to medium low and cooked it for only 20 minutes.
 
Lately, I've been considering that it might be a better option at meal times than bread and white rice, but for now I think I'll stick with my old stand by.
 
Brown rice cereal
Serves 3
1 c. short brown rice, soaked in water overnight
2. 1/3 c. water
1/4 tsp sea salt
 
Topping
Cinnamon
Golden Raisins
Toasted Almonds
Brown Sugar.
 
Prepare the rice as described above. Serve with toppings and drench with half and half or whole milk.
 
 

  
 

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Ways to irritate your cubicle neighbors

This is a joke of course.  Hopefully,  I'll be able to get to at least 100.
 
Different things you can do to irritate your cubicle neighbors.


  • Print various pamplets on venereal diseases on the printer (include graphic photos).
  • Fake telephone conferences and laugh often and loudly. Act like you're having a really good time
  • Sing out loud to all the music you're listening to on your headset - out of tune (Muppet Show Soundtrack works well)
  • Hum the themesong from Sandford and Son.
  • Interrupt their teleconferences with random questions that have nothing to do with what they're talking about.
  • Fart or burp loudly
  • Listen to comedy CDs while your working and laugh out loud, frequently
  • Spend a few hours popping bubble wrap
  • Practice your nerd laugh over and over again for at least 30 minutes
  • "Oooooooooh  Ahhhhhhhhh Oooooooh"
  • Fake an orgasm
  • Order soup every day for lunch. Sit in your cube and slurp loudly
  • Eat plenty of kim chee or sauerkraut
  • bring the cruchiest loudest snacks (thick gourmet potato chips work well)

 


 





Last week at work

Days 4 & 5: We take a break (from the zucchini)

Tuesday,I think we had shredded zucchini in our salad. Yesterday J couldn't bring himself to eat anymore so he french boiled some green beans and made a nice dressing from olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, pepper and parsley.

It is officially my last week here, if you consider the week being seven days long. Considering the amount of time we are required (unofficially, of course) to work here, seven eight hour days are about equivalent to our work week. Though that is of course, only my opinion.

I am 'busy' copying these huge files over to our shared drive, so I've been passing the time in my cubicle tearing off all the old Dilbert cartoons from my calendar and sorting them by:

- Doesn't relate to my life here
- Sort of relates to my life here
- What? I can see myself drawn into the cartoon


Nice, huh? Anyone else got any good suggestions for passing the time on your last week at work?


Ahhhhh, ahhhhh... the dragon in the cube behind me has started revving her fiery mouth. I can hear her clearing her throat. I've got to grab my trusty headsets. I really do think that I'm slowly going deaf because like I've said before in order to counteract the cacophany around me I must drown out the bad sounds with the sounds of my choosing. I wonder if fifteen or twenty years from now there will be a greater demand for hearing aids. I suppose I should invest in Miracle Ear before the deafness starts. Hopefully by then they will figure out a way to give us bionic ears or even install mp3 players in our brains.


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Interviewing 101

Advice: Interview as many times as possible.

I had to sit through an interview for a temp replacement for my position. Let's call her "Person A." I should write a character study based on the forty-five some minutes I spent with her. She was a go-getter part-time lawschool student, quite aggressive, but slightly snippy. I asked her what her experience was with working with building databases. I was attempting to find out what her skill level was.
"Have you had experience working with multiple tables in a database?"
"Oh, all databases have multiple tables." She replied quickly. At this moment I could see her in her first year ethics course correcting the professor. I've seen a number of poorly designed databases built on one table (called a spreadsheet).
"Have you worked with manipulating the relationships between these tables?"

Though I will give her points for admitting that she did not have any experience in working with relationships. Still, if you want to argue that you're good at designing a database you'll want to be able to prove that you have a good working understanding of how to relate or connect the data in the tables through these relationships.

Of course these are only my opinions and observations. I guess there's a place for her somewhere. I just hope that it's nowhere near me.

Though honestly, when I sit through these interviews I suddenly understand what I was doing wrong when I interviewed for jobs in the past. Sometimes overconfidence can prove a pittance (not that you should give your best Woody Allen impression during an interview). Many times the interview helps the people interviewing you decide whether or not you will get along with them. Trying too hard to get a job (unless of course it's only a temporary situation) and marketing yourself as someone you are NOT will serve to hurt you in the long run. Honestly, why would you want to fit in with a group or culture that doesn't get you? Besides most savvy interviewers see right through any efforts to re-invent yourself.

If you're looking for a job, and you're not the kind of person who fits readily in a corporate or business environment the best thing to do is to interview AS MANY TIMES AS POSSIBLE WITH AS MANY GROUPS AS YOU CAN. Go into each of the groups and observe how the people react to you and each other during the interviews. Take mental notes over the following questions:
-Did they appear open and courteous?
-Did they listen well?
-Did they interrupt you when you were talking?
-Could they describe what they did or their group's mission effectively?
-Did they even have a mission or anything closely resembling one?
-Did they look like they were hiding anything?
(Evasive)

And one more thing, DONT BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS after they are finished interviewing you. I've met a few people who have told me that they are embarrassed to ask the interviewers questions, or they felt that it wasn't their place to do so even when prompted because they didn't work there yet. How do you know you want to work there if you don't know anything about the position, the workplace or the people?

Some good questions to ask... out loud:
(Make sure to listen carefully during the interview and before you ask the question think back and determine whether or not they may have answered the question already.)
-What will my role be like in this group?
-Who will I be working with?
-What are some of the key projects this group is working on and can you describe them?
-How would you describe the working team environment in your group? (And this may or may not be appropriate considering what sort of relationship you've established with the interviewers, i.e. if they appear friendly and open) What do you do for fun around here?


If you ever want to learn how to interview well, conduct a few of them on your own, and again do as many of them as possible. If anything you'll lessen the 'stagefright' and anxiety that you feel beforehand. If you've noticed from some of my earlier posts I still get nervous and can leave feeling like a complete and total dork, uh, but, hey, at least I was being myself.

My last piece of advice would be to simply be open, friendly, courteous, and just yourself. Good luck.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Office Character #2: Girl with a face like a cat's ass

I'm not joking. There is a woman on our floor whose face is so scrunched up that you cannot tell if you're looking at a 'front' or a 'back.' I don't think she's a smiley or sort of happy person either because she never looks you in the eye (not that anyone else does that around here). And she's pretty rude about not holding the door to the ladies room for you on her way out. I have to wonder if in her case her facial features have affected her general demeanor.

I think it's really about time I left... I'm starting to become very irritated with people here because of their appearance. I mean she can't help it if her face looks like an anus.

-----
Television and film have played a very big role in my upbringing and how I see and view people, so accordingly, today, I tried to decide whether working in this group was more like living the Manchurian Candidate or Hogans Heroes (except in a Chinese POW camp, but with a cast of similar personae). You're supposed to do as you're told here and "know very little." If you have any ideas and you're not in the right with the management, no one really listens. Mainly because we've got some pretty 'focused' individuals here that are not open to listening to other's suggestions. I think that this is a 'cultural' thing, and I feel a bit guilty for saying this. I think that there's a valid and acceptable way of putting things like this. Don't you?

------

I wonder...

***Is it possible for someone who has multiple personality disorder to go into a blackout in which their other personalities takes over... say for a year or so? Don't you think it would suck if they awoke one day and discovered that one of their subs decided to have a sex change?

***Do they photoshop Oprah's head on different bodies for the cover of her magazine? How much does she spend on her teeth? WhyYouSuck Guy has a funny bit on Oprah's remedy for gas (stinky farts). I cannot post links to his site (whyyousuck.net):

oprahs wind free
this just in. oprahs stock just shot up 20% after it was found that she has started taking a japanese pharmacudical that cancels out the smell of gas(farting). as we have seen her tv show was on the brink of destruction as she had to start shooting it with her inside of an interrogation booth for fear of the audience turning to rage(the same farts were used in 28 days later on the chimps).

Day 3, Monday: Lasagna

Zucchini and Eggplant Lasagna (recipe coming soon)-
Mmmmm vegetables drenched in a savory bechamel sauce layered between no-bake noodles.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

House plant killer...

I'm trying not to be...

Here are a few links (for my reference and yours):

1.)Plantcare.com! Right on! a database of hundreds of species of house and greenhouse plants. (Unfortunately you have to pay for a subscription to see the instructions for care of the plants... sigh, few good things are actually free).

2.) List of common species and their care. This would help if I actually knew the names of the plants I have. Your average superstore or home improvement outlet often fails to provide you with this.

3.) Don't have a sunny spot for your plants. Bromeliads (which are becoming increasingly popular) seem to do well in these areas. If you have an older home these plants are great. Older homes don't have giant picture windows to let in an abundance of sunlight (and they weren't originally fit with airconditioners either.)

4.) Houseplants: Basic information on house plants and the common pests that threaten them.


Honorable mention:
You Grow Girl (nicely designed site)- good reading

Whenever I feel down on my own endeavors...

I will read this man's posting in his blog.

Day 2, Sunday: Pet food and Chutney (not served together)

Harvest: about 6 pounds.

Initially, it seemed that my attempts to incorporate a small amount of zucchini into Otto's morning meal were unsuccessful. I thought that the little fellow was savvy enough to take the bits and toss them aside. Of the 1/3 c. of zucchini that I added to his dog food, he initially ate roughly a third of it and only incidentally. It's not as if he had utensils to eat with. However, later I noticed that he went back and ate the tidbits of vegetable that he had strewn all over his mat.

I started a chutney on the stove. It's actually cooking right now. I initially began with the recipe referenced earlier. However, due to the lack of time and my impatience I made a fresher version of the stuff that we could eat tonight.

Zucchini & Apple Chutney
This stuff is a little spicy. For a milder version cut down the amount of ginger and pepper used. Our house has become infused with the aroma of spice.You must consume this within the week and it must be refrigerated, it's not the kind that you can save in your cupboard in a jar until Christmas. I'm not into canning for storage, maybe I've developed an aversion due to that episode of All in the Family where Archie Bunker panicked because he thought he had an acute case of botulism.

Chop the following vegetables to 1/4" pieces
5 lbs zuchini (lightly salted and drained over night)
3 large sized granny smith apples chopped
1 large red bell pepper chopped

Other ingredients
1 c. of minced shallots
1 small yellow onion chopped
1 piece of ginger (3-4 cubic inches) minced
2 tbsp white truffle oil (extra virgin olive oil will work)
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c. brown sugar packed
1/2 c. malt vinegar

Over medium heat saute the onion, shallots, ginger, cinnamon stick and bay leaves in the olive oil. When onions are slightly cooked add the remaining vegetables and stir, raise the temperature to medium high and add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Cook at this temperature for about 15 minutes or until the zucchini appears to be cooked but firm. Reduce the temperature and allow to cook on low heat for at least an hour. Make sure to stir regularly. Remove from the heat, and discard the bay leaves and cinnamon stick.

Allow to cool and keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator until use. Will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week. Reheat before use or serve cold. Serve on top of chicken, pork or fish. Also tastes great as a snack with mild cheese (such as havarti) on top of crackers.


Addendum: Tackling the mondo zucchini

Please check out Amuse Bouche for beautifully illustrated way to get rid of the 2 foot monsters that lurk in your garden... and illustrated too!

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Day 1, Saturday: For Dinner...

I've decided to keep a zucchini diary just to see how my life has been changed by the vegetable... I may include some facts, some reflections, some history and even some recipes.

Sage porkchops and zucchini fritters
6 c. freshly grated zucchini, pressed and drained
2 eggs slightly beaten
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. seasoned bread crumbs
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 cloves of garlic
olive oil


Mix all of the ingredients above except for the olive oil. Fry fritters in 1/2 c. portions in 1-2 tbsp of oil over medium high heat. Cook on each side 2-3 minutes.

Curcuvito and Pepo, the Zucchini Brothers Proudly Presents...

I need to find as many things that I can do with zucchinis because I swear I just pulled one out of my garden that's the size of a small watermelon (a little background and history on the vegetable).

How to get rid of zucchini:
Here are a few things I'm considering doing:

1.)Grill it, fry it, stuff it!

2.)You can shred it and freeze it in freezer baggies in 2 cup portions. Then use it in the winter time.

3.)Play hide the zucchini. Adding shredded zucchini (1-2 cups) to your chocolate cake and meatloaf gets them hot, moist and juicy. Boy, would I love to write a spoof on 50's wifely household tips on that. Other places to hide the zucchini, include: Taco's (the meat, silly), spaghetti sauce, breads, and sausage.

4.)You can make a pear and zucchini bread

5.)or pineapple zucchini muffins.

6.)You can make blondies instead of brownies.

7.)How about a Pretty relish or on the other hand just simply zucchini pickles? I'm a big fan of chutney myself.

8.)Hey, Paisan! How about some zucchini gnocchi or fried zucchini flowers? Besides what a better way to get rid of the things than nip them in the bud. Sort of a zucchini abortion.

9.)Try a simple Egyptian dish called Tabilch. Please note there's music on this site.

10.) Give it away to a homeless shelter.

11.) Make a salad for your cat.

12.) Stay regular! According to this site a cure for constipation: Freshly made raw cabbage juice is even better. Juiced zucchini works equally well. One or two 8-ounce glasses will probably be enough.

13.) Some tasty pineapple flavored zucchini:

Start with four quarts of zucchini, peeled, seeded and diced into one-inch cubes. Add 1 1/2 cup lemon juice, one 46 oz. can of pineapple juice (unsweetened) and three cups of sugar. Combine all ingredients in a pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Let cool and put in jars. Yields three to four quarts or six to eight pints, it takes about three weeks for the zucchini to be fully pineapple-flavored.


What the f---! This person suggests: Look for cars with unlocked doors and deposit a few inside, along with a good recipe. As someone who has two million of them budding in her back yard, I would personally track down the person who left them in my car and throw them at their windshield (or at least fantasize about doing it). Near the end of my search here I must have seen at least seven or eight different websites spouting 'homespun' wisdom that encourage people to leave zucchini on people's porches, frontsteps or their yards. What is this?! Do they really want to encourage trespassing on people's private property... not to mention their neighbors or good country folk may keep firearms in their possession.

Some fellow here is insisting on using zucchini to promote democracy to sell his political viewpoint to innocent passers by who may be interested in getting freebies from his garden. While I find his viewpoint agreeable, I prefer to have my produce untainted by politics.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Don't you hate it...

when you're in a bad situation (work-wise or love-wise) and there's always some pessimist who always will say something like: "Well, it can't be much better anywhere else, cause life sucks."

Then there's the passive aggressive individual who hems and haws when anyone makes a statement challenging or questioning things.

Worst of all there's the false (or deluded) optimists, like my supervisor, who will say things like, "Look on the bright side..." "Things will get better around the corner."

Me, I can't accept the fact that things get better on their own. And I will not assume that I will always have to work with people who lack insight, creativity, or rely on dysfunctional and manipulative ways of dealing with others. I may not be able to avoid individuals who are like this; however, I can still try my best to seek out the company of good people. I am looking forward to working with a new group of people, learning about them, working with a new set of customers, and learning a new set of rules. I get bored easily when I have to work on routine tasks, and if left to my own devices I can become somewhat destructive and disruptive. I suppose I can be considered the Australian Shepherd of office workers... no, maybe Jack Russell is more accurate.

This week. I spent a great deal of time polishing up this course I've been working on, and it feels great. I think I've actually put something together that I can be proud of. It was quite a process learning how to put things together from the conceptualization of the class, to the design of the layout and flow, the coordination of color schemes and graphics/icons, writing and editing the support documentation and reference text, to the programming of scripts, and finally the usability testing.

I had to take a great deal of my personal time to learn all of these things and then put together a project that I could take some pride in. It's not perfect, but I didn't have the time to make things exactly how I wanted them, without sacrificing my time with the people I love and care for. At times, working this job, with this group and under the shadow of outsourcing looming over all of our heads... I really felt pissed at anyone in a 'suit' who sat high enough to make decisions purely on the basis that it was all good for the bottom line. How dare they insist that I train someone to replace me on the other side of the globe. I was plain sick of feeling undervalued, and as I watched a few folks in other groups train their replacements with sunny attitudes, I just wanted to throttle those dunkoffs in finance screaming, "You just don't get it do you? It's simply over your head because you can see past the straight line that is drawn between the problem and the difference."

This department that I'm leaving continues to hire people both here and overseas who fit a certain ethnic profile. Of course, this is only my perception, and I could be completely wrong. I would speculate that the management has been hiring people, who albeit may be skilled, are people who will 'go with the flow' or follow the schemes of PHB's or Pointy Haired Bosses without question. I felt it was, therefore, only appropriate that I sat in the Friday staff meeting today reading a book titled Don't Make Me Think (a good book on usuability studies, by the way). Though it makes little difference because the management (in this group) doesn't value usability studies as effective tools in creating quality tools for the end user... I guess it really doesn't matter how our web tools work or whether or not we want customers to come back and use them... they're just our customers their opinion is of little consequence to us... this is why I MUST LEAVE!!!! They just don't get it...

There are days when I feel that the world seems to be run by people and bodies who are devoid of any real thought and incapable of seeing things from a bigger picture perspective, but then I work in a corporate environment so I should know better, and not expect that things work otherwise. I should caution myself here shouldn't I because I'm starting to sound like that pissy-pessimist. I have to remember that I need to get past this sour attitude because it's view like that that contribute to an atmosphere of stagnancy and rot.

3 versions of the same e-mail

Version One:

I fail to understand why you cannot find things on your own and rely on me to hold your hand through everything. Your incessant dependance on my assistance is driving me fucking insane! The item you requested is in the folder you requested at the link you initially requested. Please learn to find things on your own.

Version Two:
I have included the file locations of the documents you requested below.

I feel that you should post the new files yourself because this will help you understand the folder structure better; thus allowing you to find things on your own.

Version Three (Final Version):
I didn’t put the regular documents here (word docs and powerpoint) as we don’t want the public to have access to them. The regular documents are still in the shared drive labeled xxxx (path= F://Upload/Career/Knowledge). Also, provided you are okay with using the new website as your place to share documents with contributors. You can start putting them in the folders. This may help you become more acquainted with the structure and location of the folders. I have included a table that describes both the folder locations and contents; however if you need to, you can refer to the descriptive page at **link here** for your reference,

Regards,
Imogene.
















Folder Name
Path from Home Page
Description
XYZ Library

(Documents ==>File XYZ)

Contains development folders and rev. information for all projects. AVAILABLE only to XXX team and contributors.

Current Project Development Folder

(Documents ==>Current Proj. Development)

Contains all project documents currently being updated. AVAILABLE only to content experts who are currently contributing to development.



Thursday, July 08, 2004

I think that

lately, I've been drinking a little too much... not sure why I have been, maybe I'm experiencing a calm before a storm. They're struggling to keep me here a little longer than I'd like... my supervisor is going on vacation so I'm expected to hold things down while she is gone.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Summer fruit tart

1.) I took the cake recipe below and baked it in a sponge cake mold for fruit tarts, but I used the new type of silicone mold that's oven-safe. Strange how you can bake a cake in something that looks like it should be part of a scuba suit. By the way when the cake is just about done your whole kitchen will smell like pure buttery goodness. I can't believe I just wrote that.

2.) I improvised a custard with egg yolks, creme, a little cornstarch and flavored it with some strands of saffron. After cooling the custard in an ice bath, I poured it onto the indentation or well on the top of the cake.

3.) I assembled some cut summer fruits on top of the custard layer and glazed it with the kirsh and apricot glaze I described below.
INCREDIBLE!

Genoese Sponge

This cake has a nice buttery color, and a fairly firm
texture. Makes 1 - 10 inch tube cake (14 servings).
Printed from Allrecipes, Submitted by Carol
________________________________________
6 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup white sugar*
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar*
6 egg yolks
2 cups sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10 inch tube pan.
2. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks
form. Add 3/4 cup sugar gradually, beating until very stiff.
3. In a large bowl, cream butter or margarine and 1 cup
sugar well. Add egg yolks, and beat until thick and fluffy.
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt over batter. Fold
in. Gently fold in egg whites. Pour batter into prepared pan.
4. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until an inserted wooden
pick comes out clean. Cool. Ice with your favorite frosting.

*My additions/subsitutions
used superfine or bakers sugar
flavored with a little apricot nectar and tahitian vanilla.

Patio furniture

Okay, I have this thing about bad patio furniture- I can’t tolerate it! I don’t even want to look at it or think about it. Is this so unnatural a fear? Is it wrong to have such strong feelings about bad taste? And how can I judge what's in bad taste and what's not. I can't explain it and I don't know why I found the idea of bad patio furniture so repulsive. I understand that it’s very functional, and if you have a patio it only makes sense that you should have something to sit on or eat on while enjoying your patio. However, when I walk by patio furniture in the garden and leisure section at the Fred G. Meyer superstore and I usually notice it… the ugly nut brown and army green colored waffle textured vinyl covered cushions with the matching sun umbrella doomed to jam or break after sitting in the rain. Sometimes I notice the etched glastic table tops and the seats with rubber strips woven like a pie crust that leave criss-cross marks on your ass in the summertime. I can’t stand any of it!!!! And the people who look at it in the store… who sit in it and fondle the cushions… I can’t stand them either. Are they settling for half-way mediocre garden furniture? And Wicker? Don’t even get me started. Do they really like the design or the style? Have they even considered that within a few months the color of the plastic upholstery will fade and they will end up tossing it thoughtlessly into the dump with other countless patio furniture paraphernalia?

But I’ve finally decided why patio furniture disturbs me so. It is a symbol and reminder of all that is wrong, stylistically with the middle class. For myself, being a typical daughter of middle class parents, it is a reminder of all the things that I don’t want to become as a grown up. Though one should always hold a measure of caution when making such statements as: “That will never be me,” or “I’ll never become like my parents when I grow up.”
 
Let’s face it: I am middle class and I should own up to it. Why do I detest the idea of belonging to this group so much? Maybe it's because marketers will always aim straight at the middle. Maybe it's because it's too easy to buy what's readily offered to us, or to consume things that are just there out on display in the convenient center aisleway. But on the otherhand, Target seems to offer an assortment of pieces that go with my sense of style whether it's the robin egg blue mid century modern salad bowl or the school room clock for the kitchen. So I guess, I've come to the conclusion that I should make an effort in determining what I consider stylish, maybe even seek out choices that are beyond the beaten consumer path; while not totally discounting what's available, common-sense and convenient.

I’m a style nazi and I should just admit it. Though, I will admit I'm no Martha Stewart.  I've come to believe that one's own personal style shouldn't necessarily be judged by others. I guess whatever someone else wants to put on their patio is simply their own business. End of story.


Simple pleasure

Freshly picked strawberries
Apricot preserves
Kischwasser (Cherry Liqueur)

In a double boiler* simmer the apricot preserves with a little kirschwasser until you have a glaze. Dip your strawberries in the glaze and serve as a simple treat or dessert.

*if you don't have a double boiler use a slightly larger pot set on top of a smaller one with boiling water beneath it.

Helpful household hints (for the lazy) from Imogene

I'm working on gathering a few of these... I'm no Heloise, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

How to keep a copper bowl clean
I have this beautiful copper bowl that my brother gave me for my birthday a few years ago. If I leave it unused for any period of time, it of course becomes tarnished, but I found that the best way to keep it looking clean and right is to use a few tablespoons of white vinegar and some kosher salt and scrub in circular motions around the area of the bowl.

How to soften butter for baking
A man with clean trousers and shorts comes in handy here, a boyfriend busy in front of the computer screen ... or you can do this yourself. Put the sticks of cold butter in your pockets and walk around the house for a bit. This method cuts the softening time by half. I don't recommend dancing around the house to Prince while carrying butter in your pockets.

Keep your wooden floors dust-free and clean
Keep a cloth or string dust broom in two to three strategically chosen closets around your home. When you're en route to the bathroom or any other place around the home pick up the broom and sweep in the direction you're going. Use the bathroom or do your business where your at and sweep back to the other room you were in making sure to pick up the spots you may have missed going the other way. Put the broom away in the closet.

How to iron your clothes without lifting a finger (except to put them on a hanger)
Before you take a shower bring your clothes into the bathroom on a hanger. Make sure the windows are shut and the exhaust fan is off. Shower away, and your clothes should look a little better than then did when you picked them up off the floor or hopefully from the clean laundry pile you forgot to fold a week ago. Note, this doesn't work so well for linen clothing. I'm sorry, but you're going to have to actually plug in the iron and use it for these. Also, don't forget to air out your bathroom when you're done by turning on the fan or opening a window to prevent a mold garden from growing in your bathroom.

How to make a fruit pie?
This is for my own reference mainly, but there are some excellent hints on this page for pie-making.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Happy enough not to get tied down by the overly sentimental nature of this holiday

After breakfast today, I took the dog on a walk around my neighborhood and I noticed that all was strangely quiet for a Fourth of July Day. I've always associated the Fourth with what I refer to as Sentimental Holidays such as Valentines Day, and New Years. Sentimental Holidays pose a sore spot for many single people who are obsessed with the idea of being in a relationship. Some may argue that Christmas and Thanksgiving should be added to this list of sentimental holidays; however, I consider these holidays to be more or less my-family-is-allowed-to-give-me-a-guilt-beating-day. Mothers' and Fathers' days are also guilt-days where you're supposed to feel indebted to your parents for plopping your sorry caracass on to this earth and then leaving you to run with wolves in the public school system. The only safe holiday (safe from any emotional obligation) in my book is Arbor Day. Though you could argue that on this day you could be made to feel guilty for the insensitive use of countless disposable products which support the cutting down and destruction of thousands of trees, and you also might feel guilty for actually not planting a tree (which is what you are supposed to do on Arbor Day. The only holidays which we can consider 'fun' holidays are Halloween and Carnival. In the Catholic tradition these are two "Holy" days in which living in wild abandon sanctioned. In some cultures sexual liasons out of wedlock were not frowned on by society if they happen on these days.

Fourth of July is a unique holiday, as it seems to be the holiday where you feel obligated to 'get some.' This must be one of the horniest holidays (for Americans). Statistics have shown that more Americans are born during the months of March and April which would mean that their parents were getting busy around... July?

Me? I was happy just to be able to sleep in, water my garden, spend a little more time working on a web project I need to finish, bake an apriocot sponge cake, and generally sit on my ass and not have to talk to too many people and actually enjoy a few of these:

Boysenberry Lemonade (makes a half gallon)
On medium low heat simmer 2 pints of boysenberries with 2 c. sugar and 1 tbsp. lemon juice.Add a pinch of cinnamon. Let mixture cool for two hours. Run the berries through a sieve and save the juice. Add this juice to 1/2 gallon of lemonade (freshly made or frozen).Add 1 c. Raspberry or Strawberry Stoli. Enjoy in a tall chilled glass with crushed ice and a wedge of lemon and a fresh berry to garnish.

God bless America!

Friday, July 02, 2004

Buttoned down Imogene?

I have been told that I'm spending a little too much time talking about work-processes (okay, bitching about them). Maybe I'm becoming one of those droning people I could not stand at one point who did nothing but bitch about their work and the retards they work with. Oh, god this is what I've metamorphis-whatevered into?

So what should I talk about instead?

I did spend some cash on some comedy CD's. Everyone is telling me that I can get everything off the internet for free. There's something so un-capitalistic about that to me. Or do I still simply have living inside me that seven year old kid who was deathly afraid of getting caught stealing gumballs and unicorn erasers from the student store at school?


So not to meander over to a different subject, but I purposely bought the cd's to enjoy and to learn from. I have a collection of Pryor and Carlin, but you know I must confess I'm growing a little weary of the wise ass form of expression (not that I cannot appreciate the genius of Pryor and Carlin's works). So I purchased a collection of Bob Newhart's stories. There is something I just love about his interpretations of situations as well as his unassuming awkward persona. The one time I did try doing stand up, I noticed that I got more of a response from the audience when I just flat out acted like the dork that is myself. On a side note, I discovered yesterday that I am one of the biggest geeks in our aisle.***

I did start working a bit on my list. But I realize this time around I want to focus a little more on delivery. Last time I did this in front of a crowd I was a little angry I'll admit. For one, a good deal fo my last break up was ringing through my performance and 10% of my motivation came from wanting to prove that I could do it to a few people who I felt were skeptical (which I'll admit that was misguided and wrong). I think the Emcee snidely commented by thanking me for my rendition of the Vagina Monologues. My reply to him... well, you can choke on a tube of KY.

Sometimes I look at what I write in this blog and I think, that's not funny at all. But a while ago I decided that I was simply going to write what I felt like writing about and not care whether it was funny or not. Besides, good or no, I've discovered that I can be pretty funny incidentally. Sometimes when I'm writing in this blog I have these regressive moments that pull me back into the insecurity of my childhood or adolescence. There unfortunately, is still this voice inside me that says... "Don't write that... everyone else will think you're stupid." The adult in me goes ahead and does it anyway, but there are times when I want to take my inner child and give her a good healthy beating.

*** No, I don't speak Klingon, or dress like my favorite comic book character when I go to the movies alone.