Last weekend, I got most of my Christmas shopping done and saw Rent (ridiculously long post on that forthcoming). (We still have to see the new Harry Potter movie, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and so forth, but I figured that they'd be in theaters a lot longer than Rent.) I finished the rest of my shopping today, then went into work and cleared up a bunch of stuff while checking the Patriots-Bills score online (go, Pats, even if the Bills aren't very good).
Yesterday, we went to our first event of the season, a Physics Department party. That was fun, and started and ended early, so we got home in time to decorate the tree we'd bought earlier in the day. It looks lovely, even if Chad was disappointed by my refusal to follow his family tradition of examining every tree in the lot minutely and agonizing over them (actually, it occurs to me that they treat trees the way I treat, say, shoes, or suits). I was minorly disappointed that all the baked mac & cheese we brought got eaten—I'd been hoping for leftovers—but I am flattered (also, there were a lot of kids there, and it's a very safe food for them. Have to remember that for the future.).
In household news, our roof has been fixed. Actually it was mostly fixed before we even noticed—this is what happens when you come home in the dark, you don't see the new roof until the next morning. We'll have to get the plaster in the entryway repaired too, but that can wait until after the holidays.
I also made peposa in the crockpot last week, a good winter dish; the recipe and notes follow. This is a recipe Chad cut out of the Washington Post years ago. I'm paraphrasing where I see fit, because my hands are tired.
- 2 pounds beef stew meat, cut in large pieces
- 10 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
- At least 2 tablespoons of freshly crushed (not ground) black pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds drained whole canned tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup robust red wine, such as Chianti
- Salt to taste
- Put everything but the salt in a heavy, preferably earthenware, pot and cover.
- Put the pot over very low heat or in a 275 degrees F oven.
- Cook for 12 hours at a bare simmer.
- Add liquid if needed.
- Salt towards end if desired.
- At end, meat should have nearly dissolved.
Alternative: marinate meat for 6 hours (minus salt) and cook "over slow heat or in a slow oven" [Google claims "slow oven" = 300 degrees F] for 6 hours.
I was concerned about the liquid getting too low in the unattended crockpot, so I added a bit more wine. I also drained the tomatoes before cutting but not after; a fair bit of liquid came out when I cut them. Of course, the stew ended up being too liquid; I think next time I'll just use diced tomates and drain them fully. Also, we cooked it for 10 hours on low, rather than 12, which probably had something to do with it, but 10 hours works much better on weekdays.
Also, 2 tablespoons of freshly crushed pepper is still a bit too peppery for me, though Chad liked it. I just put 2 tablespoons of peppercorns in a big Ziploc bag, placed the bag on a wooden cutting board, and pounded the bag with the flat end of a meat tenderizer until all the peppercorns looked less than round. If it were just me, I might either halve the peppercorns or just bruise them a little.
In DVDs, we watched the first two discs of Samurai Champloo. Surprisingly, I'm enjoying this a lot; I had basically no expectations, unlike Cowboy Bebop, and so far the tone is more consistent too. It is silly, with just enough seriousness to keep it from floating away; the snark amuses me, and you know I love Jin. (The first disc was somewhat distracting; I don't know if any of the voice actors are actually the same as Cowboy Bebop, but I kept hearing them as such. This passed fairly quickly.)
Oh, and the preview on disc one for the Saiyuki Reload anime was absolutely hilairious. It was just a sequence of character poses, without (I think) a single word of dialogue; I can't imagine that it would sell a single person on it who didn't already know the story. Well, I'd heard the anime was terrible anyway, and that preview certainly didn't make me doubt that opinion.
We're also watching season one of HBO's The Wire, which is well-done but not entirely my kind of thing. However, so far there have been two great scenes that entirely justify the series' existence, the chess explanation from the drug dealer to the
pawns low-level flunkies ("the king, he stay the king"), and the working of a cold murder scene conducted solely in variants of "fuck."
Finally, I don't think I actually want an Avenging Unicorn, but the idea really amuses me.