Sammy the Seal

Archive for April, 2012|Monthly archive page

Change doesn’t necessarily (or at all) mean progress

In experience, vinyl on Sunday, 29 April, 2012 at 23:54

Song: Aurora Borealis
Artist: Meat Puppets
Album: Meat Puppets II

Don’t mistake the former for the latter. It’s just something that occurred to me, given recent circumstances, that I thought important to remember. It’s not a line from the song, which is just an offbeat little country, blues-y instrumental piece. Those ostensibly atonal guitar lines give the song an slightly trippy, otherworldly feel.

Seriousness aside, I do enjoy my new (relative) backyard. If I had a mic, I’d have captured the seals/sea lions barking and embedded them here too. And, this isn’t even with sunshine or at night.

backyard view 1

backyard view 2


“I knew I could love or die”

In music videos, vinyl on Thursday, 26 April, 2012 at 14:09

Song: I Let It Go
Artist: The Thermals
Album: Now We Can See

Simple, sage advice. Not exactly new, yet so hard to follow. The “I thought it must be keeping me afloat” and “I thought it must be guiding me home” lines seem especially pertinent here. It’s not overtly catchy, but it’s got a positive, driving energy (assisted by the lyrics/message) that I quite like, capped by the final twenty- second rush. For some reason, the spontaneous yeah’s and woo’s somehow sound better slightly muffled, like at 0:16 and 2:59. What can I say, they amuse me.

I prefer the power of the plugged-in version, but his voice is still comparably strong, considering the sonic differences.

Fig tart, honey cream cheese Greek yogurt filling

In delicious on Monday, 23 April, 2012 at 14:11

fig tart whole

Then, in the morning, it was time for dessert. (Dangling fig skin, 5 o’clock!) Cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and honey were whipped together for the filling, and figs were placed on top. The day before, some dried figs were re-hydrated in a small pot of boiling water (the heat was off once the boil was reached) and covered for a few hours, then sliced in half on the flattest axis and dabbed off and left to dry a little before placing on the chilled, set tart filling. This was so good, it’s been a while since I’ve made anything period, let alone something so delicious satisfying. And it was terribly easy.

The crust was the sweet one I’ve done before, but with more whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose, hence the color. I was going to do a half batch, but forgot, then I felt fortunate when I damaged the crust, and had enough to make a new one. I suppose that’s a common rule with food, to have more than you need than less. I’m pleased to say it came out splendidly. It was light yet very supportive of the toppings.

sweet tart crust

The filling was:
8 oz. cream cheese
2 c plain Greek yogurt (add a few extra T to counteract the honey, if desired)
4-5 T honey

It was whipped together by hand for a few minutes, then spread around in the crust, then chilled. Great flavor and texture, perfect dense, creamy consistency, with a little sheen as well. Barely sweetened, with the yogurt wonderfully complementing the figs. And a noticeable, but subtle honey flavor. Great in a tart, or for dipping stuff in, or eating with a spoon. Very pleased I was.

fig tart slice

Breaded, fried, colorful vegetables

In delicious on Monday, 23 April, 2012 at 11:42

breaded fried veggies 2

This is what we ate for the main course. All told, carrots, yams, orange bell pepper, red bell pepper, zucchini, green bean, and broccoli. It was pretty simple: dip the cut vegetables in a mixture of milk and beaten egg, then coat in a mixture of flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper, then dip them in the milk and egg, then coat with breading again, then fry at no more than medium heat in a 2-3-inch deep cast iron skilled filled no more than 2/3 full of oil about 3-5 minutes, or until desired color is reached. Clean out bits of breading and make more liquid batter and breading as needed. It helps to have a sifter, to remove the clumps of breading and save the loose flour. It didn’t spatter much, if at all, which was strange, but then cleaning up was that much easier.

Then we dipped them in some catsup, and some homemade aioli:

So many leftovers. Not the healthiest, mind you, fried and all, it’s just the previous weekend I had calamari with a friend and learned to make mayo/aioli at an open house for The Art Institute, so I made aioli but had nothing to dip in it. Nice to do every once in a while, but the extras ought to last us most of the week. For our vascular systems, of course.

Barely hidden cat

In You're a kitty! on Thursday, 19 April, 2012 at 6:55

This is from just before I left a.m. Monday (note actual sunlight coming through the window at 7am, contrasted with every other day), but it’s pretty powerfully representative of how I’ve felt this week, each morning getting out of bed ten minutes before I head out the door, except for today. Covering my head and hiding from things that have to be done, or just snuggling up. Sigh…. Damn cats make me jealous.

hidden cat 1

hidden cat 3

hidden cat 4

Pecan shortbread cookie

In delicious on Tuesday, 17 April, 2012 at 7:23

pecan shortbread

I ate a lot of salty today, so I needed a sweet snack. Maybe it’s having other things going on, but I’ve lost that baking feeling a little, and I really wanted to do something interesting. However, rather than think up something new, I thought of something simple I’ve already made, then I added some of the one-pound bag of pecans I bought in Texas.

1 1/3 c flour
1/3 c cornstarch
1/2 t baking powder
1/3 – 1/2 c pecans, finely chopped
10 T butter, room temperature
2/3 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla

The oven was heated to 350°, then all ingredients were combined at once. Like with all doughs, I used my hands to mix, which I like. I had to do it for a few minutes to warm up the butter so it would soften and melt, allowing the dough to clump together into one smooth mass. It was probably a good five minutes of kneading in all to make sure it was a solid lump, so it can be rolled out. I spread the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper, using the palms of my hands mostly , then breaking out the rolling pin near the end to smooth it out, to about 1/4″ thick. I guess I could have used my animal cookie cutters, but I forgot, and used my dough scraper to make boring squares. Oh well. Then collect the scraps and repeat: knead, roll, cut out, until the dough is used up. An inch of space between cookies is about right, they will grow a little. I baked 12-14 minutes, longer than the 8-10 it took last time. I presume it’s the pecan. They were still a bit soft upon removal, but I forgot how they firm up when cooled. They were chewy out of the oven, firm, dry, and crumbly after a half hour or so. I remember the surface of the cookies being smoother, as here the contour was a bit wrinkled. I’m guessing the pecans had something to do with that as well.

The first batch came out nicely cooked, but I thought I’d brown the second batch by leaving it in a few minutes longer. Partially because I forgot about them, but I think I just wanted some contrast. Dark and light, together. Both kinds are delicious. Buttery/fatty, but delicious.

“I’m back from the dead”

In music videos, vinyl on Sunday, 15 April, 2012 at 22:45

Song: Shake Your Rump
Artist: Beastie Boys
Album: Paul’s Boutique

Well, momentarily. The computer was non-functional for a few days this past week, plus time off, and still-present pressing life issues have made me almost forget how to do this. Sort of like forgetting how to go to school, find a new place of residence, and (contingent upon school) find new work. So yeah, posting isn’t so important right now.

“Is your name Michael Diamond?”
“No, mine’s Clarence.”


The video consists mostly of fish-eye, making it mostly unremarkable. Saving grace courtesy of the kitten on the turntable.

Happy Eazter

In Uncategorized on Saturday, 7 April, 2012 at 22:41

happy eazter

Made painstakingly out of licorice, then assembled/attached painstakingly as well, then hung fairly easily. The letters kept rotating, as you can see. Plus, it’s hard to make licorice keep a curve without anything straight holding it in place. Actually, the “s” broke and a new, better one, was constructed by someone not me. Very amateur, but I’m still proud of it. Maybe I get a photo of the new and improved one later.

“Did you ever want to see a pterodactyl?”

In celluloid on Friday, 6 April, 2012 at 11:52

“You been goofin’ with the bees?”
“Here’s the lick–”
“You see what you want to see, and you hear what you want to hear.”
“I feel you been getting some negative vibration from some place, you gotta collect yourself. Be cool. Be steady as a rock.”

Right on, thanks, man. I love this guy.

(I don’t know what is is, but his snore amuses me. That, and Arrow’s rascally animation. Keep digging.)

“The way I feel tonight, I could die and I wouldn’t mind”

In music videos, vinyl on Thursday, 5 April, 2012 at 11:50

Song: Head On (Jesus & Mary Chain cover)
Artist: Pixies
Album: Trompe Le Monde

I knew there was something fishy about this. The sound is all Pixies, but once I started listening to the lyrics, it started to sound like a love song. Frank sounds weird singing “catching sparks off you, I get an electric charge from you.”  Now that I know it’s a cover, it makes sense. Even if the subject matter seems out of place for Pixies, there’s enough energy to make it almost believable coming from these guys. Almost, but not quite. Then again, I’d rather a love song be noisy, punchy, and enthusiastic, rather than clean, smooth, and insipid. (I like that word.) Burning or lukewarm? Gee, that’s a tough one.

I must admit that I assumed the original was generally slower, moodier, and less excitable, and more shoegaze-y in general. Whoops. This one’s got some urgency, for sure. Except for the noise factor, and the truncation (the Pixies version is about two minutes shorter), these aren’t that far off in style, which was a nice surprise. It’s good to be wrong now and then. From their album Automatic:

(It’s not just because I heard the cover first, but I like that it cut time, it’s more concise, without losing anything, I feel.)