Tuesday, November 28, 2006

When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.

(Apologies to Dr. Johnson.)

I got done with OCI about a month ago, and I'm finally feeling like maybe I understand something in some of my classes. But it's been ugly, and I've been avoiding work a lot because starting behind and feeling like I'm never going to catch up is stressful, unpleasant, and somewhat overwhelming. So it's a gross, anxious, unproductive cycle of avoidance.

However, see the title. Finals here start December 11. So I've moved into "teach yourself law in two weeks" mode. The past three days, it's been Trademarks, and I should finish my outline tonight. Indian Law is next. Those are the two classes I have regular 3-hour finals in. In Patents and Antitrust, I have take-home exams, and frankly, I have no fucking idea how to prepare for those. I'm hoping once I'm done with my Indian Law outline, I'll have some kind of momentum and I'll be able to figure things out.

(For now, we will ignore the fact that my Bluebooking assignment for Law Review is due next week, and that the prof I'm doing research for is (finally) wrapping up his article and needs me to review a bunch of stuff. Urgh.)

Surprisingly effective, but not particularly classy.

Those of you who know me may recall that my kitchen has no heat. Or maybe you don't. Anyway, no heat in the kitchen.

We're having a bit of a cold snap here, so drafts from the unheated kitchen have been making the living room miserable. My solution? Hang an old wool blanket in the kitchen door to block the draft. I figured this would help a little.

I was wrong--it's totally effective! It's something like 72 degrees in the living room and 38 in the kitchen. Yeah, it looks trashy, but wow!

Blankets: they do a very good job of keeping things warm. Who knew?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Flake Coconut Macaroons

What are you going to do with the egg whites left over from the Rizogalo? I suggest this.

1 1/4 c sugar
3/4 c water
3 egg whites
3 cups UNSWEETENED flake style coconut (the kind that's like shavings about 1/4" wide)
Electric mixer
Candy thermometer
Big bowl (Big. I would like to emphasize big.)

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

Put water and sugar in saucepan on medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Then turn to high and cook to soft ball stage (230ish degrees).

Start beating the egg whites again and slowly pour the sugar syrup in as you do this. The egg whites will get stiffer and start to climb the beater blades and the bowl, so a bigger bowl is better here.

When sugar syrup is beaten into the egg whites, fold the coconut in.

Spoon little blobs out onto baking sheets. You can butter the baking sheets if you like, but the macaroons will come loose once they cool whether you butter the sheets or not.

Bake 10-12 min at 325 degrees.

Bake half the macaroons as-is, then fold 6 oz cooled melted semisweetish chocolate into the remaining dough. Spoon out and bake as above.

Wait. Why is it worthwhile to do the whole candy syrup thing and inevitably burn my damn fingers?

The candy syrup makes the meringue base firmer. It holds up under the coconut and makes the resulting macaroons nice and fluffy.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Rizogalo (Greek rice pudding)

This is outstanding, and relatively easy. You need to stir it frequently to keep it from scorching, lumping up, or forming a skin, but if you're kind of puttering around the kitchen anyway, it's no biggie.

1 cup water
3 cups whole milk
3/4 c rice
3/4 c sugar
1 slice lemon peel
3 egg yolks

Put the water, milk, rice, and sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Stirring occasionally, let boil, then turn down to a low simmer.

Simmer for 35 minutes, stirring about every 2-3 minutes (just often enough to prevent the pudding from forming a skin).

Add the slice of lemon peel (about a 1/2" x 2" slice)

Simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Taste to make sure the rice is cooked through. Simmer a little longer if the rice isn't done.

When the rice is cooked through, whisk the egg yolks together, then stir them into the pudding. Stir constantly as the egg yolks thicken, about 5 minutes.

Remove lemon peel. (NOW--you don't want it to get too lemony.)

You're done! Serve either plain or with a dusting of cinnamon.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

How is that wacky New York Times bread recipe?

Yesterday, the NYT published a recipe for no-knead yeast bread. The idea is that you make a very wet dough and give it a long fermentation, and that the magic of fermentation causes the glutens to develop and do their thing just like they would if you kneaded it. Then you bake this very wet dough in a preheated covered pot, essentially creating a little high-humidity oven like the fancy bakeries have. Some total genius baker named Jim Lahey figured this out and decided to tell the world.

Here's the URL for the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/08mini.html

I was inspired. I went to the store and got some yeast and some whole wheat and rye flours and tried this thing.


It's actually really good. It develops a nice, hard, crispy crust. It has big holes in the bread just like fancy bakery bread. Awesome!

The recipe, as reinterpreted by me:

  • 3 c flour (I used 1 1/2 c whole wheat, 3/4 c dark rye, 1/4 c wheat bran, 1/4 c coarse corn meal, and 1/4 c 10-grain cereal)
  • 1/4 t (that's teaspoon, baby) instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 t salt
  • 1 5/8 cups water
  • 6- to 8-quart covered pot (cast iron, ceramic, Pyrex, or enamel--like a dutch oven)
  • Plastic wrap
  • Non-terry cotton cloth(s)

Combine ingredients in a large bowl, stir it all up, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm (70 degree) room to do its thing for 12-20 hours. I let mine go for more like 22, and it was fine.

Lightly flour a work surface and put the dough on it. You may have to scrape the dough out of the bowl. Also, because it's been fermenting for so long, the dough may smell slightly of butyric acid (the smell formerly known as "vomit"). This will be especially pronounced if you used rye flour, as I did. Anyway, flour your hands well (really well), flatten the dough, and fold it over itself a few times.

Let the dough blob "rest" for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle a cotton cloth (flour sack towel or t-shirt) with flour and put it on a flat surface in a relatively warm room.

Flour your hands again and form the dough into a ball. Put the ball smooth side up on the floured cloth. Drape another cloth over the top of the dough ball.

Let the dough ball rise until more than double in size. Just assume this will take 2 hours.

After 1 1/2 hours, put your empty pot in the oven and heat to 450 degrees. (The pot needs to heat for at at least half an hour.)

When the dough ball is ready, remove the hellishly hot pot from the oven and gently transfer the dough ball into the hot pot. It doesn't really matter whether the dough ends up right side up or upside down. The baker dude says you should put the ball ugly side up.

Put the pot back in the 450 degree oven and put on the lid. Bake with the lid on for 30 minutes, then take the lid off and bake for another 15-30 minutes.

Monday, November 06, 2006

OCI, the conclusion.

Anyway, in the end, I got a job through OCI, and I'm all happy with it.

Total hours expended on OCI (18 applications, 8 screening interviews, 4 callbacks, 1 offer*): about 100. This does not include a day's decompression time for each callback interview.

Here's my OCI advice:
  • Buy a suit you like, and that expresses your personality. (Yes, such a thing is possible.) Because if you have to spend hours wearing something you hate, it will suck.
  • By the 18th or 20th time, your answers to questions like, "Why did you go to law school?" will not be fresh. Accept this.
That's it.

And yes, there is a post to be written comparing OCI and dating via the personals.

*The first offer I got was from the firm I liked far more than the others. I contemplated it for a few days, then accepted and called the other firms to let them know so they could cross me off their list.

Strong-Ass Ginger Toddy

If you have a cold, and you drink a couple of these, you will soon feel much better.
  • Fill a coffeecup about 1/3 full of brandy. (Delicious, yet moderately priced, Presidente Mexican brandy is an excellent choice.)
  • Add 2-3 T of honey.
  • Add 5-15 slices of fresh ginger.
  • Add a squirt or two of lemon juice (about 2 slices worth).
  • Add enough water to fill the cup to about an inch below the top.
Heat the above in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, then top it off with boiling water and enjoy. Add more lemon, honey, or brandy to taste.

I think the microwaving burns off at least a little bit of the alcohol.

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