Sunday, May 18, 2014

What's worth saving for?

I wish dieting was like saving.

I've gotten really good at the routine of saving money ... maybe even too good, because I feel guilty for spending on anything that's not a necessity.

However, I have not gotten good at the 'routine' of dieting. And when I eat "over budget" I excuse myself.

Which kind of indicates to me I am more afraid on pennilessness in old age than poor health.


Friday, April 27, 2012


It's Friday night here ... and late morning coffee time Sat. there ... in Oz.

For a very nice change, I am home tonight. It's not often I feel like this on Fri nights. I am such a hermit on Sat & Sun .. (okay - maybe more of a sloth) ... but anyway ... lots of drama around my typical "Friday night date night w/Chef Mit" gig (that I have done for the last 1 1/2 years. which has ended those events in the near term) ... but I can't tell you what a relief it was to know I could get my work done (at my real work) at whatever time I wanted, tonight it was (6:45pm) ... and although I had to stop @ the grocery store before coming home .... there weren't (2-10) people waiting for me to get from office/to grocery store/to (chosen) residence/to make dinner ... and wondering how long it would take me to put something together.   

And it's NOT that I don't love cooking for people ... and entertaining them. But honestly ... if you're going to host me (and other people, or even JUST ME) .... and I'm going to cook ... and I typically work 45-50 hours a week (oh, wait ... that sounds like not that much) ... I think MAYBE you could go to the grocery store .. (hmm never-mind this story, lots of drama about people you don't know).

Anyway ... only cooking for myself to night ... so the only criteria is that *I* like it ... and I am more forgiving of my meals with just me eating them, than when anyone else is joining me (I know you are not surprised) ... and tonight is very pleasant.

So .. I'm trying to think of the last thing I told you.... and where I need to pick up in my narrative. Well there's a lot that will just remain in the past ... but I did get a new job/promotion!!!

... and I'm ASSUMING the new (salaried) position will be MORE lucrative (really - the only way to get a serious raise is to change companies, isn't it?), and a better fit - with more mental challenges and opportunities to affect/effect change. (although this end of technology certainly doesn't have the patina of history that cotton does/did.)

However ... on almost a daily basis I am gleeful that I won't be having to do "x" anymore (...clock in/out, clock time against a project budget (that's unrealistic), deal with a 1,000 program bugs (that bleed you dry like death via 1,000 paper cuts), hold generic webinars (that don't match anyone's workflow), deal w/customers every day that feel like they've bought a pig in a poke), sit back and deal with something (designed by someone with no insight) that doesn't work) ... and I can actually write processes that are DETAILED ... and avoid PITFALLS ... and help create new programs that avoid PREVIOUS mistakes (of course ... there'll still be things we don't think of, won't there ?.... and things that don't work the way they need to... and mistakes *sigh*) ... and ALL WILL BE ORDERLY (shut up, this is MY dream) in the Land of Implementation. 

Tomorrow night - I am going to see Sugarland  (I assume you are familiar) ... and on then on May 13th I fly to Cali ...!!! to attend my first Innovation Catalyst Forum (just think "JAMES BOND, AGENT of "School of Change!) ... and see a childhood friend (known him since I was 2 yrs old ... HOLY CRAP, WE SAW THE EARTH COOL!!!) ... and be in "my" city ... 

So ... hopefully the tide is turning. (Please dear God ... let the tide turn). 

A single income household REALLY sucks. $1,800 for the new hot water heater, another $1-1500 for some home maintenance shit, $800/for tires (looming), plus my 2006 computer took a dump ... and I am (horribly irresponsible and really want to buy a more expensive Apple product) so $1200 there ... and then vacation time (tacked onto the end of a business trip) to Cali ... and knowing my Dad's 81st b'day is in July ... plus my (cough/cough) XXX class reunion - so (maybe) another trip home .... and it could REALLY deplete the old "carefully saved" savings account ... that keeps the wolf at bay and allows me to sleep at night. (ok - well, sleep for 3 hour stretches.) 

so - this is me circa 2012.  

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

If you must break the silence ... make it


Adding an egg yolk & pasta water w/starch to your sauce.


ps: Please make sure you mix some finely grated cheese into your mixed egg yolk ...

Then slowly add the starchy pasta water.

Of course, if you're an aficionado, you you know this is the secret to amazing Spaghetti alla Corbonara .. (not to mention the prosciutto) ...

Tonight I made (a modified version of) Ditali with Asparagus (from one of my favorite books "Pasta Harvest" by Janet Fletcher).

  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds thick asparagus spears
  • 1 pound dried ditali ("thimbles") or cannetroni (I used smaller Ditalini by Barilla)
  • 4 tbs unsalted butter, in pieces
  • 1 egg yolk beaten* (this isn't in Janet's recipe)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock* ( (this isn't in Janet's recipe - and I just added 1 ice cube of frozen chicken stock)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I used Raspberry BellaVitano - a type of Parmesan)
  • Salt & Freshly ground black pepper
  • Bring large pot of salted water to boil.
  • While waiting for water to boil
  • Hold asparagus spears in both hands, bend gently until it breaks naturally at the point which the spear becomes tough. Repeat with remaining spears. Discard tough ends (duh).
  • Cut spears crosswise into slices 1/3 inch thick, about the same length as the ditali.
  • *Separate egg yolk from white in a small bowl (not in Janet's recipe)
  • Grate cheese - and add about 1/4 cup to the egg, mix well
  • When water boils, add ditali* (Janet's recipe indicates adding the  asparagus first - then adding the pasta - but my  asparagus wasn't thick enough to need to cook for more than 3 minutes)
  • Before pasta is al dente - add asparagus (for me it was at 3 minutes left of the 10 minute pasta cook time)
  • Cook until pasta is al dente and asparagus is still crisp tender
  • Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water - and add chicken stock to it 
  • Drain pasta and asparagus 
  • Add butter to (now empty) cooking pan - dump in pasta/asparagus combo
  • Stir a few time to melt butter - then dump in yolk/cheese mixture and stir
  • Season w/kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Add pasta water/chicken stock (about 1 tbs at a time) and stir a lot so starch/yolk/cheese make a yummy sauce. More stirring = more starch - and better sauce)
  • Serve immediately on warm dishes
  • Top w/some more freshly grated cheese
Seriously good.

ps: this is also a serious indication of how I can take something simple (Janet's recipe has 2 (long steps) and turn it into how to make a watch, instead of how to tell time (I have 17 steps)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cookin’ not talkin’

I cooked something amazing the other night … and I thought about writing about it … but I didn’t. And now I don't remember what I cooked.

Maybe it was the soy/maple glazed pork chops that I grilled – w/apricot/ginger/cinnamon/brown mustard seed/and star anise spiked couscous.

Or – the apricot/whiskey/pork chops, or the orange marmalade crushed red pepper pork chops with … roasted rosemary potatoes (yawn). (yes ... I eat a lot of pork!)

Or – I did lemon/ricotta spaghetti with rocket (because I couldn’t find arugula) as a one dish meal.  And it was yum.

This last Friday I made this roasted pork loin w/herbs (although it calls for tenderloin) and this cauliflower (which will now be making an appearance @ Thanksgiving). I mean, roasted cauliflower w/herb & cheese … I was a hero on Friday night … even though I didn’t show up ‘till 7:10pm – and we ate a little after 8pm.

But tonight – I’ll write about my two “no recipe” experiments that turned out … really good.

I bought skinless boneless chicken breasts the other night (although if I were to do this again, I think I’d want skin on … and I bet you could roast/broil them) … and then I had all the herbs (tarragon, thyme, and parley) left over from the cauliflower … plus the parmesan.

So I slit a pocket in the breast – stuffed it with the minced herb/cheese mixture – and seasoned the outside w/salt and pepper (d’uh).  I sautéed them in a pan with butter/olive oil.

While that was going on – I diced a shallot – and sautéed it in butter in a medium sauce pan w/butter. Then I dumped in some almond slivers and couscous (Israeli) … and toasted them. When all was golden I added thyme – and chicken stalk. Let it simmer until the moisture was absorbed (so ½ cup couscous & ¾ cup chicken stock) then added ½ cup of diced dried sour cherries and Italian parsley. Fork fluffed/mixed together and served.

Not a bad meal. I think with the left-over breasts I’ll sauté some eggplant slices – and then dress the chicken w/some crusted tomato sauce w/basil and parmesan … hello Italian night.   

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Uncomfortably Squishy

Ok … here goes. I’m going to tell all. (Some of you think I’ve always told all … but really, it’s just that I don’t have a filter.)

Or maybe, it’s what YOU think is important/sacrosanct … isn’t what *I* think is sacrosanct and important.) (OMG … ALREADY … TWO SENENTENCES IN, I HAVE A DIGRESSION)

So!  … Now we know why people have different personalities – and disagreements – and start political/cultural/religious wars!!! (You’re welcome! For providing this obvious insight. Please send your millions of dollars in gratitude for unraveling this mystery to “MitMoi”)

So what I’m really going to tell you are those things that *I* DO filter … that maybe *YOU* wouldn’t. (And in the process … maybe admitting I am human, and fallible … and … “imperfect”) (squirms) (endlessly)

One of my biggest fears in life was being laid off.

OMG!!! If you are important … and GOOD AT WHAT YOU DO … and work hard, “You will always be employed and successful.” (So says the Bible according to Mit)

Wait … “If you are good at what you do … and work hard … AND KISS BUTT … (or play politics, swallow your tongue (or someone’s dick)) … you will always be employed and successful.” (So says the Bible of the “shallow”) (or “fake”) (or “unethical”) (OR ANYONE WHO IS NOT ME)

AND … no matter what, you HAVE TO BE SMART.

Like you can do MATH … and spell. And understand punctuation. Extra points for 4.0+ GPAs and taking “Honors and AP Courses.”

PLUS … you must be NICE.

And never be SARCASTIC. Or talk “bad” about people (even if you are pointing out their OBVIOUS flaws/shortcomings).


If you are not, it’s only logical that you are:
1.       Under-employed
2.       Unhappy
3.       Single
4.       Not … (okay … I’m thinking Donald Trump and Martha Stewart aren’t really the icon’s I want to present here) … THAT PERSON WHO HAS IT ALL!! And is successful and HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY!!!

So … here is me.
  1. I work hard. (Maybe more than necessary)
  2. I was (according to rumor) good at what I did

  1. I am not smart (or I can’t do simple math, spell, or punctuate sentences correctly) … And have never had a good (ie: more than a 3.0) GPA! (which clearly indicates I was never  an “Honors” or “AP” student)
  2. I am not NICE. I might do nice things for people, but I am NOT “nice”. (or sweet) (or kind) (or thoughtful)
  3. OH HELL YES … I AM sarcastic (Seriously. You are SHOCKED, aren’t you? You NEVER knew!)
  4. And I am not “height appropriate to weight”. (In fact, I’m sure "some people" would say, 80% of my life would be better if I wasn’t “fat”.)  (This isn’t the same (in my opinion) as obese.) BUT STILL – it’s true … I am not a size 6. Or 12. Or even 16.

So … I found myself unemployed. And it SHOULD HAVE BEEN “the worst time ever”, right?

I mean, I should have lost my house, declared bankruptcy, and moved home.

But none of those things happened.

I had a part time (okay – I worked full time, but only billed part-time) job … COOKING AS A CHEF!!!

I had lots of “meetings”, and “To-do Lists”, and “goals” and “deadlines” … and I WAS MY OWN BOSS

And somehow I made enough (plus unemployment) to pay my mortgage and not become bankrupt. (or add any loan/credit card debt to my situation).

AND THEN I GOT A JOB!!! In a NEW INDUSTRY … that isn’t cyclical like agriculture! An industry that was EXPANIDNG!!! … And not “historical” … or part of the “good old boy” network.

And even though I agreed to a salary (what choice did I have?) at 50% less than I was making … 3 years ago … and even LESS than I was making in … 1997 … IT WAS A JOB! And it had POTENTIAL! (Right?)

And all the problems I’d run into previously … in that “good-old-boys” world … were because of that! Right? THIS new job was going to be PERFECT!

Only? It’s not.

And so what does that mean?
  1. I am ungrateful
  2. I am incompetent
  3. I cannot keep my big mouth shut (ok, this IS true)
  4. I … am a failure?
  5. I’m not that smart?
  6. I’m doomed because I cannot act “normally”?
  7. I am broken

And you know what I hate MOST about other people?!?
  1. People who don’t recognize their “shit” and blame all that’s bad in their life on “someone/something” else and don’t take responsibility for what they can control/change.
  2. And people who whine. (GOD, DO I HATE WHINERS!)
  3. And people who are NEGATIVE


So … what have I done?
  1. Worked harder (close to 50/60 hours a week)
  2. Ended all extra circular activities (because I am BROKE … and ALWAYS working)
  3. Stopped socializing (because I am a loser). And negative. And if I open my mouth, I’ll whine.
  4. Pushed all the interesting/fun/unusually interests/hobbies out of my life … because “social” = spending money. Or being … optimistic. (Or not a shrew)

And what does this mean?
1.       I am broken
2.       I don’t know how to fix myself
3.       I am unhappy
4.       I am scared
5.       I am … I dunno. Not successful. Not financially secure. Not … MIT/me

And there’s probably a whole lot more. (There is). But this is 1,022 words too revealing, so I’m going to stop.

One last thing. I have an opportunity (or two) … to look in someone’s face … and lay this all out … and “work on it” ... which means … change. And admit I am not right/in-charge/perfect. I dunno if I can go there. Which is why I’ve written this.

Because THIS is logic, right?

And who wants to be a fool? (Broken person/idiot/loser)