A Mixed Bag of Randomness

Bit of randomness #1: I rarely watch The Simpsons, but I happened to be home when this week's episode ran. It was my favorite kind of Simpsons' episode, made up of a handful of mini stories that the characters tell each other. While The Simpsons' sharp political critique has been blunted of late, this episode leveled some mid-range missiles at public education, showing the brilliant Maggie's efforts at daycare creativity being thwarted and suppressed by a mediocrity-obsessed headmaster who knocks over her block sculptures and ruthlessly enforces conformity. Good stuff.

Bit of randomness #2: Chowhound, a foodie-type message board that is priceless for seeking out info and advice about everything food-related -- grilling burgers, sourcing uni, pairing wine, finding a great Lebanese restaurant in Sydney, using an immersion blender -- you name it, you can find it on Chowhound. One of the recent topics asked what typically "foodie" foods we just will not eat. Here's what I came up with (partially):

Pate and/or liver mousses and/or meat-based terrines
Sea urchin
Raw bivalves in general
Offal (except maybe sweetbreads. MAYBE)
Raw seafood in general
Pork belly (except in bacony form)
Blue cheese
Washed-rind cheese
Mushrooms, unless chopped so finely that I can't detect them

Now, dear friends and sharp-eyed readers will recognize a common theme here: texture! 95% of the time, if I dislike a food, it's not the flavor that puts me off, but the texture! Anybody else have texture "issues"?

Bit of randomness #3: In the last few months, I've watched a half-dozen French movies (yay, Netflix!). I couldn't tell you what any one of them was about, but I can tell you that I liked them all. What is it that is just so satisfying about French cinema? Languid, unhurried pace? A decided lack of the overwrought melodrama that pervades even the best American movies? The deliberate avoidance of the obvious? Yeah, it's probably all that, but the verdict is that French movies are teh awesome.

Bit of randomness #4: I am at last getting around to that blasted no-knead bread everyone was going on about all over the interwebz last year. I'm not what you'd call a "joiner" with the latest fads, and besides, I was pretty sure you needed a big covered enamel cast-iron pot with a lid that doesn't have a plastic handle on it, in which to bake the bread, and I was just not willing to go out and buy one. I'd love one. I'll probably get one eventually. But just so I can bake one kind of bread? Probably not.

Bit of randomness #5: Yay! School! As much as I am enjoying my summer (and I am!), I'm really feeling ready to get back in the groove of teaching. I function much better with a schedule, and I struggle to finish tasks when I have days and weeks of unscheduled time to kick around in -- I can always excuse my laziness with, "Oh, I can just do it tomorrow, right?" Strangely, when I have more to do, I can get more done at home. Hm, maybe I should get started with lesson plans? That's an idea.


Jacob said...

I'm looking forward to teaching again as well. Granted, I technically was teaching over the summer too, but the St. Louis Public School District just isn't the same as PCA....

So do you have any good recipes for crock-pot boneless ham?

ckjolly said...

we use a pizza stone. why do you need a pot?

Laura said...

Crock pot ham, Jacob? Are we afraid of our oven, Mr. Bachelor? ;) Ham is supposed to get crispy and crackly on the outside, and you can't do that in a crock pot.

'stine, it's a very high-moisture bread (90-100% hydration by weight) so it's halfway between a dough and a batter. Impossible to bake on a stone. I ended up baking it in my medium-sized cast iron and it's outrageously good -- the texture of the crust is better than any bread I've made to date! :)

Jacob said...

I like crock pots for the lack over oversight they require. I do, in fact, regularly bake chicken in ovens.

My aunt recommended I use the oven too, so I may just go that rout.

The Borg said...

I am SO with you on the pate/terrine/raw seafood thing! It's definitely a texture issue. But also with pate etc. it's the evil and potent combination of texture with being cold and savoury. Ewwyek!

Laura said...

Vile, vile, vile.

The only time I've ever had (or ever will have, Lord willing) foie gras, I had it two different ways, and thank the Lord and all his seraphs that both ways involved heat, or I would have seriously had to excuse myself from the table. It was still hideously foul but not AS hideously foul as it could have been.

fional said...

I am so glad you're blogging again. I would always be glad, but today, right this minute, I am particularly glad. I'm trying to do easy college stuff and my brain and will and spirit are largely displeased.

As for French films, they are good in the way you say they are good, but they're all the same film played over and over again with minor variations. I am sick of self-indulgent, narcissistic people sitting around making cyncial, world-weary, philosophical comments while their relationships are breaking down all around them.

Ahhhh, that feels better.

Laura said...

Haha, fiona! I guess I've just happened upon nice, optimistic French films? "The Grocer's Son" is one, it's lovely. And "Priceless" is just fluff but it's cute and fairly optimistic.

I don't think it's just French cinema though. I've seen other European movies that have that bleak view of relationships -- fidelity seems to be particularly disdained. And there's nothing more tiresome than people who hate their lives trying to sound clever about hating their lives.

This is, after all, the continent that gave us such cheery blokes as Sartre and Camut and Heidegger and Kant. Postmodern philosophical despair in movie form!