Rain, Rain, Rain, Snow?

Weather(wo)men predict snow on Saturday.  Is it winter already? After such a squelchy-wet, insipid fall?  Let’s all arm ourselves with good playlists to combat the gray. Today, mine has a sprinkling of late 1980s and 1990s songs that work for this weather.

Sting:

Toad the Wet Sprocket:

Barenaked Ladies:

Stuff and The 100 Thing Challenge

There are a lot of things I would buy if I had a little more discretionary income. These include, but are not limited to: A roller suitcase with wheels that actually spin and are free from cracks resulting from curb-to-asphalt … Continue reading

MIT Museum

Though I don’t go the extra mile with wrapping paper, I do try to celebrate the birthdays of those in my nearest vicinity (aka spouse-level) with a little something special.  That’s why, after a stellar brunch at Sportello (soft scrambled eggs with duck hash and roasted root vegetables for him, poached eggs with collard greens over truffled sourdough toast for me), the Mr. and I headed to the MIT Museum. A few weeks before, a Groupon special advertised two tickets for the usual price of one, and in a moment of “maybe just by standing there we’ll sop up all the extra brainpower mucking up MIT’s campus,” I bought them.  It didn’t hurt that there’s a special robot exhibit going on right now.  We do so love our robots.

Turns out we didn’t even have to hand over our tickets, due to a program about the “design, development and impact of Project Whirlwind” starting right as we arrived.  Free admittance! We sat in the audience for part of it, slack-jawed at the sheer genius of the two speakers, Jay Forrester and Robert Everett, both in their 90s, who candidly discussed how they created the first digital computer to operate in real time. These guys are serious brains.

Afterward, we headed up (and down, and up and down and up) the musical steps to the exhibits. That’s the cool thing about this museum – you go from total huh?-moment immersion in concepts far beyond your intellectual capacity right to giggling at the amusing products of the artistic geniuses.

I won’t go deep into what you’ll find in there, but there’s something for everyone. Feats of science, art, engineering, chemistry, architecture, even a reconstructed smashed piano that MIT students shoved off a dormitory roof (they do this nearly every year. Why? To commemorate the deadline for dropping classes during the spring term). If you find yourself tiring of one topic, just step three feet to your right and continue with the next.

The robot exhibit is really something to behold. Walking, talking, emoting – it’s amazing the projections scientists have for Artificial Intelligence. One of the better interactive pieces is simply a magnetic board with markers and paper – visitors write and draw pictures depicting their hopes and ideas for robotic uses.  As you can imagine, this invites low-brow humor, but also more profound and sweet concepts from kids.

Even without free entry or a Groupon deal, this place is worth a visit.  I’m convinced we came out at least 0.0827% smarter than we went in.  And in my book, that’s cause for celebration.

Dress Up Your Soup

Whether it’s a steady downpour, a constant drizzle, or a fine mist, this damp weather calls for warm, nourishing soup. Soup alone can inspire gratitude and, ’round these parts, maybe a hug, but with a few simple add-ons, one just might elicit gasps of amazement and high praise.  And I love me some high praise, especially when it comes with a minimum of effort.

These cheese crisps are incredibly easy and quick. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In the meantime, grate a half to one cup of parmesan or pecorino romano cheese on the smaller grate size.  Pile in heaping tablespoons on a baking sheet (on top of a silpat sheet if you have one), making sure to leave about 2-3 inches space between the mounds.  Dust with your choice of spice – smoky paprika is nice, or cayenne, or cracked black pepper.  Let the type of soup these will accompany inspire you.  Bake in the oven for approximately 7 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted and golden.  Remove from oven, let cool, and then use a spatula to peel them off the sheet.

A pistou is essentially a pesto without nuts, and for the soup topping above, I made it with roughly a half cup of parsley, two cloves of garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Process in a mini-food processor or grind it all up in a mortar and pestle until you’ve reached your desired consistency.  This is also nice served on just about any protein, or as a bright and pungent topping on bread.

Each of these toppings requires a preparation time of five minutes, max. I suppose I could have spent those ten minutes the other night changing out of sweatpants and into real people clothes, but it was so much more appealing to fancify my soup than myself.  And sweatpants and soup on a rainy weeknight? Ne’er the twain shall part.

Stop Motion Thursday

Best song and video of all time? Might be Sledgehammer. Give it thirty seconds, and watch your mood ratchet up from gloom to gloooorious.  It’s kind of a handy thing to have in your back pocket for days like this when the whole world seems a puddle.

 

In honor of the stop motion technique, here are a few other winning videos:

 

 

Eat Your Cruciferous Vegetables

Dying, yearning, on the edge of your seat, simply pining to find out why cruciferous vegetables are known as such? No? Well that’s a shame because in the matter of time it took to type that sentence, I overcooked the broccoli (cruciferous vegetable!) to a lovely shade of swamp.

We’re going to eat it anyway, because consumption of (youuu guessed it!) cruciferous vegetables, also including brussells sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and bok choy, is thought to lower your risk of getting cancer.

Instead of over-steaming your broccoli, why not try roasting some cauliflower? Wash a head of cauliflower well, quarter, and cut out the thick white stem (edible, just chop into manageable sizes).  Roughly chop the florets into pieces, spread on a roasting pan or two, and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on sea salt and your spice of the hour (for us last week it was garam masala; but combinations of cumin and cayenne, sparingly, or even a dash of cinnamon if you want to throw the whole thing in a bowl with some plump golden raisins, is delicious).  Roast at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until most of the pieces are cooked through with brown, crispy edges.

And in case you really did care even the littlest bit about the origin of the cruciferous title, here it is: when in bloom, the flowers of this family of plants have four petals which resemble a crucifer, or cross. Neat-o.