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March 2010 Archives

Cajun Pasta

March 31, 2010

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Realize that you don't have any cajun spice seasoning, so instead of buying yet another spice mix for the cabinet, mix your own:

3/4 c kosher salt
1/4 c cayenne pepper
2T white pepper
2T black pepper
2T paprika
2T onion powder
2T garlic powder

Mix everything in a plastic baggie, then lean in and take a big whiff before remembering that the mix is basically 17 different kinds of pepper. Your nostrils and sinus will burn for the next hour to remind you.

Boil half a pound of fettuccine until al dente; soggy pasta is depressing. Slice up about 1/3 of a red onion, half of a red bell pepper, half of a green bell pepper, and two roma tomatoes. Set them aside.

Chop up a chicken breast and sprinkle them with a teaspoon of cajun spice. Toss the chicken to coat well, then stare at your fingers covered in cajun spice. Remember the 17 different kinds of pepper in it, and tell yourself not to touch your eye. Your eye will immediately start itching.

Heat butter and oil in a skillet over high heat and throw the chicken in. Don't stir it, don't touch it. This insures the chicken will brown nicely.

After about a minute, flip the chicken over. Continue cooking it for another minute, or until it's cooked through. Remove the chicken to a clean plate. Look at all that wonderful brown crispy stuff on the bottom of the pan. Loaded with flavor.

Toss in the chopped veggies and some garlic, cooking it over the high heat for a minute or so. Do not sprinkle more cajun spice onto the veggies because you are a wimp when it comes to spicy food. Add the tomatoes and cook an additional half minute, or until the tomatoes are hot. Remove the veggies to the same plate as the chicken while you make the sauce.

Realize that all of your chicken stock is still in the freezer. Pull a bag from the freezer and submerge in a sink full of hot tap water until you have 1 cup of liquid stock. Pour 1/4 c white wine and the stock into the pan. Cook it on high for about 5 minutes, deglazing with a whisk. Reduce the heat and pour in the cream, whisking constantly. Cook until the cream thickens the sauce.

Dip your finger in the sauce and immediately yank it out because it's still boiling. Lick it off your finger before placing the finger until cold water. Add salt (to the sauce, not your finger) to taste. Add in cayene if you prefer burning your tastebuds, then add the chicken and veggies to the sauce. Run downstairs and wake your fiance from his nap, saying that dinner is almost ready. Run back upstairs and cook everything for a minute or two until hot and bubbly.

Add in the drained fettuccine and toss to combine. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, the shout down the stairs that dinner is ready. Plate some pasta and take a bunch of photos before realizing you haven't heard anything from downstairs. Stomp back downstairs to find the dog curled up on your fiance's tummy, both lightly snoring. Poke them both then go back upstairs to eat your dinner without them. Lazy bums.

Cajun pasta

New Experience: eBay Seller

March 28, 2010

I'm very much against iPhone cases because they make the already large phone all the much bulkier. I'm also not gentle with my iPhone in the least, and I've dropped it numerous times. My phone obtained some scratches that Steve shook his head over, but I thought they gave the phone character. It no longer looked like Generic iPhone, it was Valette's Well-Used and Loved iPhone.

So if we do that math: no iPhone case + lots of dropping = a few scratches, mostly. Some bigger than others, yes, and okay, then my volume button fell off, but everything still worked just fine.

Until it didn't.

One day the power-off screen kept popping up randomly, then it wouldn't go away. When the screen went to sleep, it wouldn't wake up, choosing instead to blink the Apple logo at me until I plugged it in. Then it would resume randomly attempting to be powered off.

It was pretty awesome timing too, because my internet usage at work had just been severely limited. I was mostly without internet for a full 8-hours every day. I could access my email and Twitter so long as I kept the phone plugged in, but then I couldn't listen to music from my iPod and streaming internet radio was out.

Classic First World problems, here.

I checked Craigslist and found a bunch of iPhone knockoffs for $200. I checked eBay and found a bunch of used iPhones for $500. I considered the three months until I could upgrade to the newer iPhone 3Gs without paying $600. I considered signing another 2-year contract with AT&T. I considered crying.

I was saved by a dear friend who just happened to have a barely-used iPhone sitting in her car. There was a clandestine meeting, code words, and an exchange of money in a dark abandoned parking lot (read: back table at Kaladi Brothers Coffee).

Within two hours I had a fully functioning iPhone with all of my settings and apps and contacts. It was missing some characteristic scratches, and Steve immediately made me put a case on it, but it worked and that's all I really wanted.

Then I sold my old one on eBay.

I've never sold anything on eBay before, and it was surprisingly easy. I took some well-lit and well-composed photos of my scratched and broken iPhone, and listed out every way it was scratched and broken. No refunds, as-is. If I got $50 for it then I would be happy.

And I got a whole lot more than $50. The sale of my old phone meant that my replacement phone only cost me $30. Which is fantastic.

New Experience: Endive

March 21, 2010

Tried a new recipe from Healthy Eating magazine this last week, a healthier pizza with chicken apple sausage, fennel bulb, onions, and gouda cheese. Since fennel bulb either isn't in season or is completely unknown to Alaskans and no grocery store in town carries it, I substituted it with endive.

I have never eaten endive before. But I sliced it thin for the pizza and tried a piece of it raw. It was bitter and... not good. I don't know if that is due to the nature of the vegetable or if it wasn't a very good head of endive. But after I sauteed it with the onion I could no longer taste it.

The pizza was good, but I wouldn't call it pizza. I made some red sauce on the side because even though the recipe didn't call for sauce, I guessed it would need a little something extra. And I was right.

Also, the chicken apple sausage tasted like Christmas. It was yummy.


March 17, 2010

I picked up Waiting by Ha Jin because the back cover blurb sounded like a fascinating jumping off point for a story: a man has been trying to divorce his wife for 18 years so that he can finally be with the woman he loves.

The only problem is that is the story. The entire story. He tries to divorce his wife and the judge refuses. He tries again the next year, is again refused. The woman he loves cries.

Nothing else happens until the very end of the book when the divorce is finally granted, he marries his love who gets pregnant, and he questions whether he even wants her any more. The end.

It was a quick read, but not enjoyable.

New Experience: Yeah

March 15, 2010

Not too much new last week, but I rearranged my work office to better accommodate my two new monitors.

As for an old hat experience, we went to the dog park and had a grand time. A black lab tried to give Olive his 6-foot-long, 4-inch-diameter "stick", a golden retriever picked up Olive's leash and tried to take her with his family, and a weimaraner literally ran her over. A good time was had by all.

Saturday was a gorgeous day for the dog park

Dog park

Dog park

The Book of Air and Shadows

March 10, 2010

I finished The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber this afternoon, and boy am I glad to be done with it. The characters were unbelievable, the story was slow, and the writing was stilted.

I could not stand how one main character provided commentary on how scattered of a memoir-writer he is. Equally annoying was the other main character’s propensity to analyze every situation and course of action as though it was part of a movie script. I gradually became used to these self-referential first-person perspectives, but it still made me feel stabby.

One main character goes on unnecessarily about his numerous sexual conquests, and another is involved in an awkward relationship with an untrustworthy woman who had tattooed a cipher grille onto her inner thigh:

“She stopped his mouth with her tongue and pressed [the] long-lost cipher grille against his groin.”

At which point I threw the book down and exclaimed to Steve that my book had become so ridiculous I couldn’t stand it.

New Experience: Internet Celebrity

March 8, 2010

I met Jessamyn this weekend. Jessamyn is a geek librarian superhero and MetaFilter moderator. The Alaska Library Association brought Jessamyn to Anchorage as a speaker for their annual conference.

Alison, another local MetaFilter member, and I met Jessamyn downtown on Friday night, which happened to be First Friday, the night of Kathy Griffith's comedy performance, and the eve of the Iditarod ceremonial start. In other words, downtown was packed to the gills and it was going to take two hours to get a seat at a restaurant. We moved to midtown and got a table at Spenard Roadhouse where they gave us free popcorn and half-off appetizers.

I didn't get any photos because my iPhone died a nasty death and I left all of my memory cards at home. But Jessamyn ate all of my tater tots, and that's all the proof I need.

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Hi, I'm Valette

I'm a photographer based out of Anchorage, Alaska. I've recently become a wife, a stepmother, and a homeowner. Life is pretty awesome. You can email me anytime. Learn more...

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