Saturday, January 19, 2008

This is what happens when you have too many ingredients

I wanted to find a recipe for french onion soup that also incorporated shallots. More specifically, I wanted to see if shallots would caramelize and reduce like onions do when you make French onion soup.

I come across this recipe, apparently from a BBC Cooking show. There are only two circumnstances that could lead to this recipe being developed. The first is someone was looking to use up a hodgepod of ingredients in their kitchen. The other was someone had access to so many ingredients that they simply cannot grasp that most people do not cook anything with two distinct alcohol ingredients.

I mean there is a lot of leeway in the wine requirement for French onion soup. I use marsala wine, mainly because my girlfriend bought a bottle of the stuff that is almost drinkable. On a total side note, I recommend it as the cooking wine for fresh clam sauce.

That being said, I am sure that with proper execution this recipe is divine. I also realize that these ingredients are all regularly available year round and if one cooks with wine and liquor, they probably have a bottle of sherry and brandy handy. However, this recipe is such that one can remove half the ingredients and still have a very nice soup.

I understand that you absolutely need butter to reduce onions. I also understand that mixing it with olive oil is good if you are impatient and plan on spending less than an hour reducing the onions. I'm sure that there is a difference between simmering off and burning off alcohol in terms of the resulting flavors. I am also sure that if I took some weekend intensives at the Culinary Institute of America I would understand enough cooking theory where it would be worth it to follow this recipe exactly.

My point is this reipe is quite complex for its intended audience, people that get their recipes from cooking shows. It is complex in the ingredient list, as opposed to the techniques. If I am feeling adventerous, I'd be willing to reduce onions for 3 hours, but I don't want to get 15 ingredients at the grocery store.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I am not the man who calls himself Zippy Catholic

I've used the handle zippy1981 for a while. Generally, I've not done anything to terrible online, and I don't particularly mind employers or potential employers searching for what I've said under the pseudonym. As a matter of fact I'd prefer if they googled that to my real name. When I google my real name, I find that many people that share it are quite active on the internet.

That being said, I recently became aware of a blogger that calls himself Zippy Catholic. I happen to be a practicing Catholic, and some might think I've created that blog to present my viewpoints that are particularly Catholic. This is not the case.

I was referred to this blog via one I subscribe to, Code Monkey Ramblings. The particular article was Single People and Women Should Receive Less Pay For Equivalent Work. Well I disagree. Perhaps I might explain why one day. However for now I will say I agree with this argument:


. . .

You are overlooking not only the division of labor, but the division of responsibility and of obligation. And you are treating employers like things -- in this case an ATM. After all, employers have children to support and bills to pay. Their obligation is to take good care of them; your obligation is to take good care of your own. Don't treat your employer as a thing, an impersonal money source to which you can go in order to have it meet your domestic obligations. Furthermore, not to put the domestic obligation where it belongs is to treat employees as things, not as real persons with real obligations before both God and man. Your solution to the alleged impersonalization of employment is itself an impersonalization.

. . .

Michael Bauman

My specific economical views will hopefully get discussed here in the future. For now, you can assume His Holiness might just excommunicate me for my economical views, or maybe suggest I become a Jesuit Priest. One might assume me to be an Evangelical Christian if discussing economics or politics. Well I think the "religious right" is shifting back to a Jimmy Carter-ish
left. Us Americans often forget that he was the man that introduced many outside the bible belt to the term "Evangelical Christian."

A few more issues I'd like to quickly touch upon. I read my doopleganger's blog profile and would like to point out a few ways we are different:
  • The other Zippy has Academic Degrees. I have a high school diploma, a drivers license and a bartending certificate
  • The other zippy has 5 software patents, I am against software patents. Of course I don't know what I would do if I was caleld into my bosses office and told to fill out patent forms for some piece of code I was working on. Its easy to take a firm moral stand when it doesn't affect you.
  • The other zippy currently fufills executive roles. I am am quite clearly a developer
Perhaps I will read some more of his works. Regardless of what happens I hope no one confuses the two of us.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Plus size fashion is getting smaller

I spend far too much time thinking about plus size womens clothing considering I don't have any need to purchase plus size womens clothing. However, for some reason they always find ways of attracting my attention. Tonight at at Green Acres Mall, a second datapoint pointed to an emerging trend; plus size clothing stores were catering to slightly less plus size women.

At some point in the recent past I saw a sign advertising the fact that Ashley Stewart now sold size 14. I briefly amused myself with thoughts of not quite plus size women rejoicing that they could buy Ashley Stewart fashions and size 16 women relieved that they could overeat a little less and still be able to get a pair of jeans that fit them just right.

In actuality, there are plenty of fashion labels that cater both above and below the Ashley Stewart price range and are of similar quality. Also, many men and women struggle with real and imaginary weight problems, and they should all be thoroughly offended by what I write here.

So fast forward to the present, I pass buy a "coming soon" storefront. It is called "Fashion to Figure," and the sign said they catered to sizes 12-26. This is a step down from size 12. In keeping with my duty to pretend to have journalistic integrity, I went to their website, which claimed to sell sized 14 to 26. I can only assume that when they open this and any other soon to be opened stores, they will put out some ads letting their customers know they are free to drop a dress size.

I plan on keeping tabs on the plus size industry to see where this is all going. By keeping tabs I mean that whenever I am in the mall and see a plus size store I will make mental note of the sizes they serve. This means I will get new data points approximately every 6 months. Many of you will point out the possibility that the clothings are remaining unchanged, but the size on the label is shrinking. I am unwilling to cross dress to test this theory.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Adventures in buying petrol in the garden state

In the early hours of New Years day (~02:00 GMT -04:00) I found myself at a gas station just outside the wrong end of the Holland tunnel. I had to parallel park in the center of a three pump island since it was the only available pump at the gas station.

I soon realized that this backup was caused by a lack of a station attendant. Since this was the garden state, it is illegal to pump your own gas. I often attempt to do so anyway, and sometimes succeed. I've never had the opportunity to do so in the presence of law enforcement, but I'd be willing to risk a night in jail to see how well the law is enforced.

So I park between a NYC livery cab and a towncar with Jersey plates. I believe the Jersey plates said "omnibus," which seems to be what taxi plates say. The New York driver was pumping his gas, and the Jersey driver was contemplating doing so. I don't know if he was afraid to or simply didn't know how. Its possible to reach the gas station via side streets so its entirely possible that he has never been outside of the garden state.

As I'm pumping my gas the station attendant appears. He aids the man who would not pump his own gas. I get back in my car with the childish pride of someone who has just gotten away with minor mischief and drive to the girlfriends house.