Recipes

Classic Vanilla Cupcakes

Just a few months to wait for the vanilla counterpoint to those chocolate cupcakes. That's nothing. Absence makes the heart go hungrier is how the phrase goes.

Happy Halloween! What did you go as? Oooh spooky. Or oooh sexy. I went as nothing, because I'm an adult. Just kidding, adults can dress up. On my way home from work a woman was sitting on her door step dressed as Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast and she offered me a piece of candy. I didn't take it because strangers and diets (I'm not worried about either of those things), but I also saw a piglet, a Wonder Woman, a guy in a pimp coat with a Brittish hat, and a dog dressed as a devil. A devil dog.

We were going to go to the Chicago Halloween parade but it's raining all the rain here in Chicago. Once it started raining I said I should have gone as the Gorton Fisherman and my sister said she should have gone as the Morton Salt Girl, but we only thought of this last night. So instead we are going to stay in and watch The Shining. Have you seen it? Do you like when people ask you questions on blogs? I watched it years ago but I forgot a lot of it. I think because I fell asleep. I also lasted about 5 minutes before I fell asleep during The Exorcist. Sorry old scary movies! I have seen Room 237 though, which, what? The lady who thinks the skiing person is a minotaur is my favorite. Hahaha what are you talking about? If you haven't seen it you can watch it on Netflix. Dot com.

Anyways, I'm going to start blogging again! I miss the ole blog! I've been spending a lot of time running Chicago Food Bloggers and not even writing my my food blog. For shame.

Here are some vanilla cupcakes for you.

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Classic Chocolate Cupcakes

Classic Chocolate Cupcakes

Whatever happened to magic?

When I was growing up magic seemed, if not quite at Houdini levels, popular enough that there were a few television specials every year. At least once a summer CBS would trot out David Copperfield to make corny jokes, inappropriately dance with scantily clad women amongst some silk curtains, and then make something giant disappear.

Where did all the magic go? Was it the Masked Magician? Remember him and how everyone was so mad that he was revealing the tricks? And he was like, "Well now it will force people to make new tricks!" Maybe he was wrong.

Or maybe it was David Blaine and MINDFREEEEAAAKKKK! They didn't really do magic so much as sit in boxes for long periods of time. Maybe everyone thought that's what magic was and gave up.

Or is it CGI? CGI is ruining everything. There is that new movie out where the magicians are bank robbers but all of the tricks are obviously CGI so who cares. The magician might as well turn into that melty liquid guy from Terminator and go through the jail bars. To use one example.

When I was little, I was really into magic for a while. My grandmother bought me Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic, which I used to read, cover to cover, all the time. I bought these little Magic Works toys, which were actually fairly impressive. Like this one, the Crystal Cleaver! My grandfather bought me a magical box that you could put anything in the top, close the box, and when you opened it again whatever you added had disappeared. 

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Homemade Hamburger Buns

Homemade Hamburger Buns

I love any business makeover show. Hotel Impossible, Tabatha Takes Over, Restaurant Impossible, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares (and the lesser American equivalent), Bar Rescue. Except for the screaming and yelling; that I could do without. Particularly Restaurant Impossible's Robert and Bar Rescue's Jon, who both shout-talk almost everything they say and then act surprised when the restaurant owner doesn't take an immediate liking to them.

Hotel Impossible's Anthony Melchiori is by far the best host, not just because he knows his shit, but because he seems to genuinely care about each and every hotel owner. And you would be surprised at how interesting it is to learn about standard occupancy rates or how often a hotel should be deep cleaned (although many owners seem to be finding out for the first time that rooms should be cleaned at all).

I have watched hours of these shows and there are more than a couple problems that pop up in almost every epsisode. What might those be, Mike? Glad you asked. Here are eleven:

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Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins

I was going to make an introduction about some nonsense that has nothing to do with the recipe and then tie it to the recipe with the thinnest of transitions, like I usually do, but the note about using a scale became so long that I have decided this whole post is going to be about using one.

Look, I know every Tom, Dick, and Mary Baker says to invest in a scale. Every baking book starts off with an introduction about the importance of weighing your ingredients. Bloggers are adding the metric weights to the ingredient list with the hope that you'll make the switch.

Honestly though, I swear, just do it already. (If you have done it already, you don't have to read any of this. You get a "Meets Expectations" for today). If you aren't going to do it, just go buy Entenmann's.

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Chicken Salad with Whole Egg Homemade Mayonnaise

Chicken Salad with Whole Egg Homemade Mayonnaise

Did you watch the Academy Awards yesterday? Kind of strange. That's nice how Chicago won everything. Were you offended by Seth MacFarlane or not? He enunciates well, but he also seemed to hate everyone and cover all of his jokes with meta-humor and snark. "Are we still going to do this joke?" "You liked that joke, eh?" He kept saying things like that. Own your material! Good review.

I like the Academy Awards though! I like movies! I like to hope Zero Dark Thirty wins and then be mad when it doesn't. I like a good montage. Although, like everyone, I have some ideas for how to improve the Oscars:

Tell the presenters that they are performing the role of a lifetime. For some reason the presenters are always bad at presenting. They look straight ahead, awkwardly misread the teleprompter in a robot voice, mess up jokes, mispronounce every name, and then complain about how difficult it is to open the envelope. I'm embarrassed for them. When you recall that performing is their job, it's kind of strange. But maybe that's the problem! Maybe they are freaked out because they have to be themselves and not Ace Ventura or Neil Armstrong or a geisha. So give them a character to play! I don't think it even has to be really creative. Just tell them, "You are playing a very interesting, charismatic, and funny actress who needs to build interest and tension in this list of people you are about to read, because in a moment, for one of them, all of their dreams will come true, but for the other four, their every hope and wish will come crashing down all around them. Here is your script and there is the camera."

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Pączki

Pączki

Happy Pączki Day! 

Are you aware it's pączki day? Are you Polish? If so, of course you are. If not, too bad for you, eh? Pączki are Polish pastries eaten on Fat Tuesday, or lent eve.

When I was growing up my whole family would go to my Great Grandma Jenny's house in East Chicago, Indiana, for pączki day. She made giant platters of them that only the kids were allowed to dust with sugar. We would eat too many of them as a last hurrah before we couldn't have soda or gum or whatever we had given up for the next 40 days (when you got older it was all sweets).

Nowadays a lot of bakeries would like you to believe that pączki are just classic yeast donuts without holes, probably so they can use their regular donut dough and call it a day. But Grandma's were different. Her pączki were a bit breadier and eggier, like a cross between a yeast donut and challah. We also did not eat them filled. Here in Chicago I have yet to find them unfilled (and some bakeries are getting a bit crazy with the fillings, like strawberry vodka or mocha), so I had to make them myself. Also, we pronounce them "poonch-key." Not "panch-key."

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Brown Butter Vanilla Rice Crispy Treats

Brown Butter Vanilla Rice Crispy Treats

I'm just going to act like it's been one week since I updated this blog and not over six months.

A lot has happened in that week. I moved back home to Chicago! There just weren't enough shootings in Boston, you know. I already miss the oysters. And the people. Hi Danielle! Hi Daphnie! Especially the ones with "D" names. And the witches in Salem. Hi witches. I'm sad I'm going to miss the blizzard this weekend, to be honest.

But it's great to be back near family again. I spent a weekend cooking with my Aunt where we made two racks of lamb, shrimp, scallops, tuna, two types of aioli, pita salads, roast chicken, and alligator. I had alligator on a stick at a fair years ago and would you believe it was not so delicious? This time it was amazing, like a cross between chicken and catfish and very juicy and tender. Eat it. We made all of that for the two of us. For one dinner. Like I said, it's good to be back.

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Vanilla Blueberry Pie

Vanilla Blueberry Pie

Where to live, where to live.

So, now that I have graduated, I have been searching for jobs. It's finally time to answer that question people have asked so often over the last two years: "So what are you going to do with that degree?" I have been applying like crazy. If you are hiring, let me know!

And when I tell people I have been applying, they always ask, "Where?"

On the one hand, I think anybody can learn to live anywhere. It's surprising how you acclimate to places. A few years back I lived in a small town in Iowa while working on a political campaign. People invited me into their homes, made me dinner, let me sleep in their guest bedrooms. They let me camp on their farms and invited me to parties. They donated chairs, desks, and food to our office, let us pass out candy on Halloween on their front porch, and bought me a pork tenderloin and a beer for breakfast. 

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Little Baby Crème Brûlées

Little Baby Crème Brûlées

Do you sometimes wonder what the plates of the future will look like? What am I talking about, it probably keeps you up at night. I'm not talking about the plate itself, those will be holograms, but the plating style. How a chef puts the food on the plate. Remember when it was weird pointy things rising from the plate? A few years ago The New Yorker described them as "small towers of something wrapped in something--with the tops sliced at an angle; crumbly landscape of some kind; and a reflecting pool running around the edge." You saw it everywhere. Then it got to the point where Applebees was cutting their BBQ egg rolls or whatever at an angle and placing them every which way on a bed of slaw and it was time to move on.

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I'm Back! Here's a Lemon Tart.

I'm Back! Here's a Lemon Tart.

Did you miss me? You did.

How do you like the new design? Pretty swank. Black and white and food all over. I'll probably tweak it some more over the next few weeks, so don't freak out.

It's been a while. When was the last time I posted? February? I know! I had to take a little break to finish up my last semester in the gastronomy program. I'm done now! I have my Master's! It's crazy. They'll give them to anyone these days, I guess. Ba-dum-bum. Last week was commencement, where this awesome thing happened.

I also went to Africa in March. I'll write about that in a bit. Put some pictures up. I drank some banana beer, saw some giraffes, you know. I have certificates in cheese and wine now. Oh, cheese. If only every course could be cheese. The ridiculously amazing Ihsan Gurdal, of the ridiculously amazing Formaggio Kitchen, taught the class. It was insane. We went up to Vermont to visit some cheese farms. We ate twelve blue cheeses in one day and my tongue hurt when it was over, but in a good way. We ate some tangerine jam from Anna Tasca Lanza that will make you cry.

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Braised Beef Over Orange Zest Pappardelle

Braised Beef Over Orange Zest Pappardelle

How bout them Super Bowl commercials? Pretty great, eh? Almost as great as how much talk there is about them. It must be nice to work for an advertising agency and you just film a dog dancing for 30 seconds and CNN reports it as news. "Wasn't that Pepsi frog funny? You are in the Situation Room."

I think the best thing about the Super Bowl commercials is the many surprises. What will GoDaddy do this year? It could be anything! Will there be at least ten commercials where men look like idiots? It could be more! I wonder if there will be a commercial with that talking baby? You never know! Even though there has been a commercial with the talking baby for the last decade or something, maybe this will be the year they switch it up?

Thankfully it was not the year, because that dumb baby just never gets old, just never ever ever gets old, literally and figuratively. I can only hope that when I'm 90 that baby is still on television being an ass, because how else will I know what company to use for whatever it is that baby is selling, I forget. If only there could be an ad where that snarky baby is riding a Clydesdale to visit the Coca-Cola bears one of whom is voiced by Betty White. Then all of our favorite things that never get old will be in one commercial and it will surely be the best commercial ever made (although Betty White does get old - that's the whole hilarious joke, that she is old and says mildly ribald things; good job advertising companies, just a very good job). 

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sweet and sour garlic squash

A short intro this week. And pardon the length between posts, as it is finals time and nevermind there is no room for excuses in food blogging. This semester I am taking Survey of the History of Food and my final paper is about the creation of the chef as symbol during the rise of haute cuisine. Paper name dropping! I think that is a thing that graduate students like to do (besides talk about being a graduate student): drop the name of their paper because it makes them sound like fancy scholars and hopefully all of these thousands of dollars in loans are worth it and the person they are speaking with will be like, "Oh my, I don't even understand what that title means, they must be very smart." Of course, the paper title is purposely long and over-the-top for this reason. "Oh, hahaha, just a little paper I'm writing, about gender semiotics in 17th-century Balinese kitchens." Hahaha, oh you know. So boring. Just something I'm doing in my spare time. Let me think of some long words and then tell you about the paper.

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parker house rolls

There was one year that we decided to wake up early and go to the Black Friday sales. Should "Black Friday" be capitalized? Probably. Is it a national holiday now? Well, now that it's ON Thanksgiving I guess it's a de facto national holiday.

Anyways, at the time I didn't really know how Black Friday worked. I knew people went shopping and they were excited about it, but other than that. Although, this was probably like 10 or 12 years ago, maybe more, how old am I, and I think back then we weren't trampling each other to death for animatronic gerbils yet, so maybe it wasn't the big deal it is now. And we used to have Thanksgiving at our house every year, because my birthday is the week before and my sister and Dad's birthday is the week of Thanksgiving, so it was one big celebration. But mostly it was my birthday. And everyone would come over and we would have Thanksgiving dinner and ice cream cake and we would blow out the candles and then light them again for each child in our family so they each got to blow out the candles even if it wasn't their birthday. When you are a kid this is great for some reason, and you can't wait for it to be your turn to blow out the candles, but when you are an adult it seems to take forever. We also always had like three of four verses to "Happy Birthday." I guess we just liked to make birthdays last.

So, one year my aunt planned on going to Best Buy for the Black Friday sale, and her daughter (my cousin) was staying at our house because my cousins usually stayed over after Thankgsiving, such a good story I'm telling, and we decided we'd wake up and go as well, as an adventure. I don't know why waking up at 3am to stand in a cold, dark parking lot sounds like an adventure, but whatever. Kids those days.

We got there and after five minutes we were bored, so we walked over to White Castle to get hot cocoas, didn't want to stunt our growth with coffee, and when we got back to the line, which stretched all the way to the back of the parking lot, which sort of surprised me, I guess I didn't really expect that anyone else was crazy enough to do this let alone a line of people all the way to the back of the parking lot, and this was just one Best Buy, but when we got back an argument had broken out because somebody had cut in line. I don't even remember if it was true, because you are kind of at the back of the line and you don't know what is going on at the front of the line, you just kind of wait for the news to travel back to you and then when the person in front of you angrily explains that some ass cut in line you start to get mad too because damnit you have been waiting here, in the cold, for however many hours, and how dare someone cut in line, and you are really mad now that you think about it because you have only had 3 hours of sleep and WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS BEST BUY SALESPERSON?!? IT'S NOT FAIR!

So finally it is time to go in and everyone starts to get all excited but also nervous because there are so many people in front of you and what if they all want the shower radio that was advertised in the paper and Best Buy is all out of them by the time you get there? So anyways, 5am hits, or whatever comparatively normal time they used to open the doors in those days, and honestly, the best way to describe it is have you ever seen the holiday family film Jingle All the Way? It's very very good, just a quality film, probably a classic now and surely it won all the awards that year particularly for Sinbad. What ever happened to Sinbad? Probably just resting for a bit. We saw him at Disney World one time when I was little. But that's an introduction to another recipe.

So, in the film Jingle All the Way, which is about how Arnold Schwarzanegger is a bad father, which is what all the movies from the 90s were about, I want to play baseball, I have to take this important business call on my fancy new cell phone that was just invented, you never want to play baseball, two hours later the Dad realizes what he's been missing, hug, the end, anyways, this is the same movie, but in this movie the way Governor Terminator is going to prove to his son that he loves him is by buying him this superhero robot thing, but it turns out this superhero robot thing is the Tickle Me Elmo of 1994 in this movie's world, so of course he can't get it because they've been sold out forever and there is only a day before Christmas, so he goes on all of these wacky hijinx but also Sinbad wants the same robot thing for his kid and he's a mailman and they do a lot of things that would be very illegal in the real world, I think there is a bomb threat or something, I don't really remember, I saw this movie a long time ago, I just remember that I'm pretty sure that things all work out in the end and Christmas is saved.

But at one point in the movie a toy store gets like five of these robot superman things and something something people have ping pong balls and they rush into the store and they start fighting each other and it's pandemonium and there are ping pong balls everywhere.

That is surely not the easiest way to explain how it was at Best Buy at all, but I remember thinking, after we got in the door, that it was exactly like that movie, without the ping pong balls. The second the doors opened people ran like crazy, flooding every aisle of the store in seconds and grabbing everything in their path. They could not even have been looking at what they were picking up - if it was a bin full of boxes or a pyramid of stuff in an aisle they just threw it into their carts. I had two things on my list - a few CDs, which were like imagine you had to buy this shiny disk and stick it into your iPod to play music, you had to drive to a store to get music, and a CD player, which was like the iPod that needed the disks, or I guess now you put the iPod in the stereo, so imagine you have the disks you put in the iPod and then you put the iPod in the stereo but there is no, oh nevermind, it was complicated system for listening to music we were burdened with in those days, and I planned on getting the CD player and then looking around at CDs. Hahahaha. Luckily the CD player was off in a corner somewhere so people didn't really notice it and my little cousin was able to shimmy down through the legs of the crowd, pop up and grab a CD player, and then shimmy her way back. Perusing the CDs was out of the question - you either shoveled things into your cart while constantly moving or got trampled.

And then, about 10 or 15 minutes after the doors had opened, the store was perfectly still - everyone was at the registers, waiting to check out. And we waited, and waited, and waited. We swapped stories, I managed to get back into the aisles and check out a few CDs, we kept waiting. At one point, adrenaline still coursing through their veins, a fistfight broke out over a television or something. My aunt reached over everyone, grabbed my cousin by the scruff of her puffy coat and lifted her over the carts to keep her close. The police came and broke it up. This is the point when a movie would start playing, "It's the most wonderful time of the year..." because look how ironic.

We finally checked out, I got my CD player and CDs, and then we moved on to the mall, which was a breeze in comparison. All shopping since then has been a breeze in comparison, so I guess in that way I am thankful for Black Friday (that's what I'm going to say I'm thankful for at the Thanksgiving table this year no I'm not we don't do that). And that CD player was pretty great. It played some good tunes, probably. And, although I haven't woken early for Black Friday shopping since, I'm still kind of proud to say I did it, at least once. I survived Black Friday. It WAS an adventure.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, speaking of rock and ROLL, one thing you may want to make on Thanksgiving is some rolls, because that is a classic dish and people will be mad if you don't. You might want to try new things, but people will be like, where are the rolls, where is the turkey, of course, and stuffing, and cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, and really by the time you make all that there is no time for anything else so you might as well make the classics, like these rolls.

I'm not going to go into the history behind these rolls. I'm taking Survey of the History of Food right now and that's enough history for me and if you really want to learn about it there is all kinds of stuff on the internet. The main thing is, they are very soft, they were invented at the Omni Parker Hotel here in Boston and they are ridiculously delicious. There you go. This recipe is a bit different in that you don't preheat the oven. I stick these rolls into the cold oven and turn the heat on and they kind of get a final proof, which makes them so light and fluffy. It works for me every time. I also add the butter at the end, after they come out. I know some recipes have you pour melted butter over the tops before you bake them, but I think they rise better if you hold off. 

Oh gosh these are good. The best rolls? The best rolls. Here you go!

parker house rolls

adapted from gourmet magazine

ingredients

+ 3 tablespoons warm water (105 - 115 degrees F)

+ 3 tablespoons sugar, divided

+ 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast

+ 1 stick unsalted butter

+ 1 cup skim milk

+ 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

+ 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 

recipe

Stir together the 3 tablespoons warm water, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast in a small bowl. Let stand for about 10-15 minutes, or until foamy. (If the mixture does not foam, your yeast is dead. So sad. But you can just start over with new yeast).

Melt 6 tablespoons of the unsalted butter in a small saucepan. Add the cup of skim milk and heat until just warmed.

In a medium bowl, stir together 2 cups of the all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspons of kosher salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture and butter/milk mixture to the well and stir until combined. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour to the bowl and stir until just combined into a shaggy ball.

Butter a large bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until it is somewhat smooth and elastic yet still sticky. Form the dough into a ball and place it into the bowl, turning once to coat with butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a very warm place, for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Butter a 10-inch round baking pan.

Divide the dough into 20 equal pieces and roll into balls. Arrange the dough balls evenly in the pan, with space around each, and let rise in a warm place for 45-60 additional minutes, or until doubled in size again.

When ready, place the pan in the oven and turn the heat to 375 degrees. Notice you are not preheating the oven. Bake for about 25-35 minutes, or until the tops are a light golden color. When they are ready, remove from the oven and immediately rub the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over the tops of the rolls, letting the butter melt over them. Let cool for 5-10 minutes and serve.

makes 20 rolls

roasted pumpkin and cheddar scones

Really, it's a wonder people aren't constantly dying after eating in restaurants. Last week I took the ServSafe exam, which is the Massachusetts exam for safe food handling. It was 90 questions, 2 hours, covering all manner of kitchen safety and regulation.

Do you know how many ways there are to get sick from food? So many ways. How many bacteria, toxins, viruses, pathogens and parasites are there in the world? More than a couple. There are the classics, like E. coli and salmonella. But are you coughing up worms? Gross. You may have ascariasis (one of the symptoms is a tickle in the back of your throat, but I don't know if that's related to the worms or not). Been forgetting things? If you had shellfish recently, you may have amnesic shellfish poisonic. As in your scallop gave you amnesia. That's just a crazy thing to think about. And it would be even more sad because nobody would believe you that it is a real thing. "Didn't I tell you to take the garbage out?" "Possibly. I had an oyster last week and now I have amnesia." Just an example. Mostly for high school age people, I guess.

That's not all. A strong, oily smell in the kitchen? Maybe cooking oil. But probably cockroaches. One of the fun example scenarios they gave was something like, "Sally has a dry scalp. She's constantly scratching it, which causes dandruff to fall into the food. Is this acceptable?" Hahahaha. Absolutely. "Is it cool to bleed into the food?" And there are so many more ways for metal and glass to fall into food than I ever imagined.

Not to mention the terrorists. You really need to keep the perimeter of your restaurant secure, because of the terrorists. Too many terrorists spoil the soup. Very popular saying.

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caramel apple corn

So, over the weekend I graduated from the Culinary and Baking Arts programs that I took over the summer. I got a medal! It's engraved with a chef's toque and a pan and maybe a whisk? I forget. I guess I can just look at it since it's around my neck right now. Just kidding! It's at the polisher's. I drool on it a lot in my sleep.

Mmmm. "Now I am so hungry I cannot wait for the recipe." That's what you are thinking right now. Well, we'll get there. Anyways, so on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights during the summer I went to class after work and learned how to make food. It was great. You would know this if you had read my blog posts about it. I blogged about it after every single class? Yeah, you probably don't know because you didn't read it. My blog hits (that's when someone visits your blog. "Oh, they hit me." That means, "Oh, they visited my blog." Probably.) went way down during those six weeks. Whatever. Fine. I don't care about YOUR life either.

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honey oat bread

Do you know who Seth McFarlane is? No? He is the guy who made Family Guy, which I think is like the poor man's Simpson's. I don't watch any of that, because animation is for babies. Except Pixar. Pixar is for adults I think. (And I'm just kidding about being for babies, animation. Animation can be for anyone. But I still don't watch Family Guy. I tried once and it wasn't for me, just like oatmeal is not for me, but I'll get to that).

Anyways, the other day I saw an advertisement for a new album, well, not really an album - more like the idea of an album, because it's all just MP3s now, right? I mean, they keep making square pictures as if they are the covers of compact disks, but that's just so iTunes has something for you to look at. Well, whatever it is, a collection of digital files, I guess, it was from Seth McFarlane. But I wasn't sure if it really was, because it could have also maybe been a joke. Sometimes it's hard to know the difference between real life and making fun of life anymore, because a lot of times real life is so bananas you hope it's a joke and you are very surprised to find out it is not a joke. (There is a name for that, actually).

So this was a collection of songs sung by Seth McFarlane in the style of Frank Sinatra, complete with a retro-looking "album cover." It has silly song names like they used to have back in the day, like, "You're the Cream in My Coffee" and "Two Sleepy People." See how I thought, "Hmmm. Joke?"

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the famous gourmet chocolate cake

Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Have you thought about what you might get that special someone? You do have that special someone, right? I hope so. There really isn't time to find one at this point. Better luck next year, er, in 2013! Hope all of the fish in the sea aren't taken! I've heard things about overfishing!

Unless you are one of those people who is like, "Valentine's Day is a conspiracy perpetrated by the secret agents at Hallmark Cards, Inc. because they want to use love to poison the water supply and also I don't have a special someone and if I did I wouldn't buy them anything." In that case, you can relax a bit. I mean, you probably should relax a bit. But you have a little more time to get your rant memorized before February 14.

I'm just kidding! I mean, I'm jk-ing! That's how you have to say it now. LOL! JK! STFU! That's how the kids are saying it. That's how the kids are saying everything. Oh, the kids. Anyways, it's not almost around the corner. It's in like five or six months or something. But you know what is around the corner? Halloween! Autumn! And then Thanksgiving! And Christmas! Or whatever you celebrate! It might be around the corner if it's in December! Halloween is just around the corner, and Thanksgiving is just a bit of a ways up, and Christmas is about a block away and Valentine's Day is a few blocks away. That's how the upcoming holidays are situated if you want to keep going with this map metaphor thing, which you probably do. You are a spatial learner.

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lemon and roasted garlic fettuccine w/ brussels sprouts leaves and bacon

So, the other day I was sitting in the George Sherman Union (named after the guy from The Jeffersons) here at Boston University, on my lunch break, enjoying some food with some coworkers, this story is already good, when these kids who were here for an orientation or conference or something started freaking out and running out of the building and so on and so forth, which wasn't really that surprising because they always do that. When you get them in packs they get all crazy and move their bodies a lot and instead of talking to each other they just kind of announce things really loudly. Youngsters. Like, just on the way to that important business lunch we were walking down the street and this young man was walking with his Mom and then he decided to just start doing this scarecrow walk-dance, like a floppy skippy kind of thing, and then he was finished. Who knows? Hopefully they teach impulse control as a part of the liberal arts curriculum.

Anway, as the kids were leaving, two of them yelled this to each other across the room because that's an appropriate way to converse:

Girl: WHERE ARE YOU GOING!?!?
Guy: WE HAVE TO EVACUATE BECAUSE OF THE EARTHQUAKE.
Girl: EARTHQUAKE!
Guy: DIDN'T YOU FEEL THE EARTHQUAKE??
Girl: SHUTUP! THERE'S NOT EARTHQUAKE!
Guy: YES THERE IS!

Good conversation. Very normal at a normal decibel level. Anyway, aside from "Shutup," I was thinking, "Oh, what a guillable dummy. Does she really think there was an earthquake? Come on." But don't I feel sheepish now, because apparently there was an earthquake? So they say. I didn't notice anything at all. Which made me sad, because I love natural disasters! And there was one right here, under my feet!

So here's what I like about natural disasters. I feel like I have to explain myself because being offended by things is popular now. Obviously I don't like when lots of people die in natural disasters or they lose their family photo album or other sad things. But I do like how big weather events shut people up about nonsense boring things.

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