And there WERE cookies!
Would you like to see some interesting statistics? And by “interesting”, I of course mean “soul-crushing”.
• Wettest April in 12 years at Midway Airport, 6th wettest since record began there in 1928
• Month on track to become Chicago’s cloudiest of the past 118 years
• April’s produced the most measurable rain days in a half century; month ranks 17th wettest in 140 years
All of these are from Tom Skilling’s blog. Why do I read it? Clearly I’m a masochist.
Anyway, I’ve been pretty down lately. This weather is killing me slowly, and it’s starting to creep into my food choices. I shouldn’t have had a cocktail and TWO whiskeys on Tuesday. I shouldn’t have eaten three pieces of that pizza when two pieces were plenty. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really getting down on myself. But we had Potbelly for lunch, and a less depressed Sarah would have skipped the Sun Chips, which I didn’t want, which weren’t even satisfying, which actually usually offend me because they fool you into thinking they’re healthier than Doritos, when they’re not.
Still, it could have been worse. And the weather will improve, and I can always do better tomorrow. It’s hard to keep those things in mind, though, when I’ve just been in such a gray and miserable mood for what seems like forever.
Anyway, I’ve had a few things on my mind that I’ve been wanting to make comics about, but for whatever reason, they’re not quite coming (I blame the weather. J’accuse!), so I will leave you with this inspiring but NSFW comic, from a
Carleton College Penn State student named Ashley Avard.
If it seems like my food/alcohol choices are a little less controlled on Tuesdays, it’s because Niles nearly always has Tuesdays off, so it’s become something of a date night. This time, we were itching for something we hadn’t had before, so we had dinner at the Boiler Room, near the California stop on the blue line. It’s not super new to the neighborhood, but it’s new enough that we hadn’t tried it yet.
The place is great – excellent, very unique decor, family-style tables, good music. The cocktails were imaginative, to say the least. I wish I could remember what exactly was in my “new fashioned”, but it was delicious, with a single dark maraschino cherry in the bottom. The pizza was pretty great too. For pizzas, for me at least, the crust is key (which is why it’s doubly heartbreaking that I’ve never been able to make a decent pizza crust myself), and the Boiler Room’s crust is expertly done. We had their signature pizza, and while the sliced “PBR Meatballs” were suberb, it probably had twice as much house-made giardiniera on it than I would have liked.
In the end, it’s a great addition to the neighborhood, but since I have to walk past Ciao Napoli to get there, I’m not really sure how often we’ll make it all the way to Boiler Room.
UPDATED: Okay. That said. We are on WEEK 6 of c25k you guys! And I have noticed a significant difference in how easy or hard it is to run, based on what I decided to eat that day. If I was running Tuesday, it would have been a disaster. We are planning to run Wednesday – although who knows, since it’s the great flood right now – so I’m going to have to be very thoughtful about how I eat.
So, this’ll be the last bit on sushi for a while. You can, obviously, put anything you want in sushi, and these are some of the more traditional/common recipes. I usually do some combination of everything on this page, but my absolute favorite is the spicy scallop, which I usually garnish with masago for extra awesomeness. The masago is so small that it’s almost more for texture than for taste.
Other great things to put in sushi: unagi, mushrooms, peppers, salmon (raw and cooked), squid, octopus, egg, asparagus, sweet potato, clam, honestly, just about anything.
Okay, was that a fun adventure? Do you want to see more like this? I realized halfway through making these that sushi’s easy to make if you are lucky enough to have access to all the ingredients. I take the wealth of my environs for granted sometimes. The sashimi-grade tuna at Joong Boo – within walking distance of my place – is almost criminally cheap.
I made a giant shrimp boil this weekend, with a bag of spices we bought in New Orleans. I topped a salad with some of them, and put the rest into a big thing of red beans and rice with some spicy sausage we had in the fridge. It’s pretty amazing. The seafood boil was a lot easier than I thought it’d be, and considering how long the shrimp stayed in the water, they were a lot more tender than I expected too.
What else? Ugh, the poutine. Why do I always think it’s a good idea? My stomach is still rebelling, and I ate that about 8 hours ago, as I write this. Tch.
And we’re done! It took three days, but now you have everything you need to make california rolls!
You can of course use the bamboo mat. Lots of recipes tell you to use the bamboo mat. I have two of them for some reason, and I never use them. They just seem to get in the way.
You can also, of course, put lots of different stuff inside them. I usually make mine with shrimp, or tuna, scallops, avocado, eel, squid, green onions, masago… or any combination of any of those things. You can make the rolls inside out – with the rice on the outside – or you can make little beds of rice and put the fish on top for nigiri.
Also, I get most of my supplies at Joong Boo market here in Chicago. If you have an Asian market near you, they will most likely have almost everything you need to make sushi. If not, it might be a little more difficult to find things like nori or wasabi paste, but these things are becoming available at more and more groceries every year.
All right, anything else? If you guys want, I can do some different ideas for sushi recipes next week? Or I can shut up about sushi already. :)
PS! one more plug, there is a facebook page, and you can ‘like’ it. I’m going to be posting a lot of random doodles and pictures of projects-in-progress there that won’t get posted other places, so if that wounds like your kind of gig, there you are.
PPS! If you interested in seeing all three parts of Sushi Week together, then this is the jpg for you! Let me know if you’d be interested in a print of this too; I’ve been doing a lot of research on making prints of these comics lately (finally). Sushi Week would end up being 8″x32″ or so, but it could be a fun thing to hang in your kitchen. :)
Sushi Week continues! I’m sorry I’m taking so long with the rice, but – and I hope this doesn’t sound too cheesy – rice is the foundation of your sushi. You can fill a roll or top your nigiri with the best white albacore tuna, but it’ll taste all wrong if the rice isn’t right. Sushi rice is subtle but unmistakable, distinctive. It’s soft and sticky without being mushy. It’s just the tiniest bit sweet and the tiniest bit savory. It’s not rocket science, but it can be really hard to really get it right.
So, some notes:
1. I have read that you’re not supposed to cool the rice in the fridge. This may be true, although I have had really good luck cooling rice in a TUPPERWARE in the fridge. Specifically, I made a bunch of brown sushi rice, coated it with the vinegar, put it in a tupperware while it was still hot, and didn’t use it for almost a week, and it was still good, and maybe even easier to work with. This happened once, so it’s not really a viable scientific sample size. If this is your first time trying this, give yourself an afternoon and let it cool naturally. You can fan it (they even make specific sushi rice fans for this), and you can stir it VERY gently once or twice to try to release some of the heat, but pretty much just let it rest til it cools.
2. I bought the hangiri – the wooden bowl – because I make sushi, well, a lot. The rice cools pretty fast in the wooden bowl, I think plastic and metal retain the heat too well. Ceramic would probably be okay.
3. When I say wet your hands repeatedly, I mean pretty much whenever the rice starts sticking to your fingers, which will be about once every 20 seconds.
4. I don’t actually have any video games that go “boop beep beep boop beep.” I am playing Okamiden on the DS right now, and it makes a lot of very Japanese noises, none of which are really communicable through comics (unless you know of a way to draw what taiko drumming sounds like).
Are you ready for Friday? Friday we’ll fill and roll and slice and (hooray!) EAT our maki!
PS! Hey, if you haven’t already, and you feel so inclined, you can ‘like’ my facebook page. I’m going to be posting a lot of random doodles and pictures of projects-in-progress there that won’t get posted other places, so if that wounds like your kind of gig, there you are.
Here we go!! Are you ready for Sushi Week? It’s actually going to take a bit longer to talk about sushi than I thought – I might end up stretching this out to two weeks instead of just one. BUT: by the end of this week, I hope to have complete instructions for you to get started preparing your own California rolls. Next week we can go over some more interesting and creative recipes.
Today we’re just starting off with some tips for rice – but stay tuned! Next we’ll get to the vinegar and nori.
So it’s hard to eat healthy when you’re traveling, and it’s super hard to eat healthy when you’re working a comicon, so after a few days of working MoCCA and sitting behind a table and eating and traveling – plus a little PMS thrown in for good measure – I have been feeling a little heavy and gross and down on myself. Heading out for a run with Randi last night, I was still feeling kind of low, but by the time we were finished with our run, I was back up again. Seriously, passing my reflection twice in one night, twenty minutes and some jogging apart, involved a complete 180 on how I felt about myself. The emotional benefits of exercise almost outweigh the physical ones!
We’re repeating week 4 of c25k, due to my MoCCA trip and a bit of a disruption in Randi’s life as well. But that’s okay by me, I was sort of hoping to repeat week 4 anyway. I’ve peeked at week 5, and it looks scary, I don’t mind taking a few extra days to work up to it.
ALSO: Seriously, you guys, Wednesday night’s salad was the best salad, and probably deserves its own page. But if you’re impatient, here’s how it goes: sautee some chopped back bacon and some sliced sweet onions in a little bit of olive oil, and set aside. In the same pan, grill up some rings of pineapple! Chop up some avocado, too. Toss all of these with some spring greens, and drizzle some Thai sweet chili pepper on top of everything. Be careful that your taste buds don’t completely explode from the concentrated deliciousness!
Who doesn’t have a website in this day and age? Cafe Enduro, that’s who. Anyway, my last night in NYC after MoCCA ended, Liz and Zane took me up to Café Enduro in their neighborhood in Brooklyn, right down the street from Prospect Park. It was perfect. It was dark and cozy, lit with strings of colorful lights, playing mellow music. A comfortable, pleasant little gem, with tasty margaritas and tastier entrees. I had a giant pile of spicy tequila shrimp, dirty rice and salad, and it was hearty and delicious. More to the point, I probably could have sat there all night, drinking margaritas and watching people. There’s something very special about those kinds of restaurants that feel as welcoming and relaxing and cozy as your own living room.
Anyway, guys, I have probably mentioned this before, but Liz Baillie is pretty freaking awesome. She put me up in NYC, we shared a table at MoCCA, and she does this great comic Freewheel. Go check it out!
oh! You know who else is awesome, is Kim, who was working at the Small Bar tonight. I was only going to have two beers, and we ran into some good good friends so we decided to stay a little later. As a way of twisting my arm to have a third beer, she DREW IT FOR ME, so I wouldn’t have to draw it myself. :D Kim is the best!!
In other news! Are you in Chicago? What are you doing on May 4th? I’m going to be a part of this super amazing exciting thing and you should TOTALLY come, and if you do, I will wave to you.