View The Austin Gastronomist blog the traditional way– in reverse chronological order starting with the most recent post.
Today was a good day. Today, if my soul were water, it would look like this.
If my soul were water it would be smooth and calm. My thoughts would be evenly spaced like sail boats in the bay. But fluid, still, and there would be bobbers.
Today, I had space in my thoughts for ideas like, “If I ever have a child, I would like to take him fishing.” Bonus points for striped shirts and wild, curly hair.
Yes, today was a good day.
I went shopping at Sun Harvest after work today with every intention of making a guilt-free, delicious salad that my boyfriend’s sister taught me. That salad is made with
- 1 head iceberg or romaine lettuce, chopped
- 3 avacados, peeled, pitted and chopped
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 2 cloves of minced garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
It is full of healthy fats and fiber. It will make you feel virtuous and skinny.
Unfortunately, Sun Harvest was out of ripe avacados so I ended up making potato salad instead. Potato salad is much less virtuous, with no healthy fats in sight. Plenty of bacon and mayonnaise, though! I also added celery, radishes, and onion to help offset the carb load of the potatoes.
- 2 lbs. red skinned new potatoes
- 6 ribs celery
- 1 large white onion
- 6 radishes
- 3 slices of bacon
- dressing: 3/4 c. mayonnaise, 2 tbs. lemon juice, 2 tbs. mustard, 2 tbs. white vinegar, 1 tbs. dill weed, salt and pepper
First, boil the potatoes. (My potatoes were the size of racquetballs and took about 20 minutes to become tender.) While the potatoes cook, dice the celery, radishes, and onion. Then make up the dressing in a large bowl. Combine the diced vegetables with the dressing and pop the bowl in the freezer. Next, drain the potatoes. To cool the potatoes quickly, toss a few cups of ice on them and pop them in the freezer. While the potatoes cool, cook up the bacon.
By the time you finish cooking the bacon, the potatoes should be cool enough to chop. Leave the skins on and cut the potatoes into chunky pieces. Combine the potato pieces with the cold dressing. If needed, pop the salad back in the freezer until it’s cool enough to serve. Crumble the bacon over the top of the salad before serving.
P.S. I added about 2 tsps. of the bacon drippings to the dressing. Somehow it feels less sinful if I just leave it out of the regular recipe and tell you about it here.
Summer’s officially over. Austin ISD started school today, and the UT campus is hopping along. Classes here at UT don’t start until Wednesday, but all the faculty and many students are already in the building making trouble. Like so:
The kid’s face at 1:43 describes my mood today perfectly.
Dr. Ross is a busy man. He spends hours every Saturday making gougers, pre-gougers, and beautiful music. But not last Saturday! Last Saturday he made me a paperweight!
The paperweight started as an English horn gouger bed. The bed is the part of the gouger that holds the piece of cane when the machine is working. See below:
This particular bed was a reject for gouging, but cosmetically perfect in every way. To make a paperweight, we used Dr. Ross’ milling machine to make a slot down the center of the bed to hold my business cards. Like so:
Except not so fast! We had to do a little prep work before the brass started flying. Here’s what it looked like in the beginning.
First, Dr. Ross used the measuring device on the milling machine to find the center of the bed. We wanted the slot to be exactly at the midpoint of the bed, and eyeballing it was not an option. The keypad on the right of the milling machine helped Dr. Ross measure the dimensions of the bed and guide the drill exactly to the mathematical halfway point. It also helped him make the slot exactly the correct length. This step was complicated, but not too bad if you understand X-Y planes and have done a lot of calculus recently. (Thanks, MBA!) After he set up the measurements, Dr. Ross used the steering wheels on the machine to move the bed back and forth beneath the stationary bit.
One steering wheel on the machine moved the table left and right along the X-axis. Another steering wheel on the machine moved the table up and down along the Y-axis. Meanwhile, the screen to the right of the machine (visible two pictures above) told Dr. Ross how far along each axis he traveled. Nothing in the milling process is approximate. Every measurement is accurate to the thousandth of an inch. (I think it’s to the thousandth– it’s hard to understand the notes I took, so please correct me if I’m wrong.)
Obviously, I enjoyed this process. There’s more too it than just moving the bed side to side along the drill bit, though. We still needed to make both in-sides of the slot smooth.
Whether you’re milling a gouger or a paperweight, when the bit touches both in-sides of the slot at the same time, it creates a smooth side and a rough side. In order to make both in-sides of the slot smooth, we had to move the bed so that only one side of the slot touched the bit at a time, and so that the bed moved in the same direction that the bit was spinning.
This was complicated, and my MBA classes did not help me understand it as well as I would like. Jenn, if you remember how this worked better than I, please comment!
The next step in the process was less complex.
Dr. Ross took the gouger bed-cum-cardholder to the polishing department. (The polishing department is a brillo pad in the corner of his workshop.) The polishing department made the brass shiny and clean.
The final step in the process was to personalize my new, mathematically perfect, one-of-a-kind business card holder! Have you ever wondered how Dr. Ross puts the serial number on your gouger? Pay attention!
This is a set of metal stamps. There is one stamp for each letter of the alphabet and one stamp for each number 0-8. (There is no number 9 since you can just turn the 6 upside down.) I wanted to stamp my initials, “KLH” onto my business card holder. To do this, I used a tiny hammer to stamp each letter onto the metal. Ready, aim, aim, aim
aim some more! It was more difficult than I imagined to get the letters in the correct position and in a straight line. Plus, brass is a hard metal, so you’ve got to really mean it when you strike the stamp. After several attempts at stamping and some help from Jen and Dr. Ross, my business card holder was finished!!
Here’s a close up of the cardholder in action:
If you look closely, you can see the KLH stamped on the front. The “L” is the most visible because Dr. Ross stamped that one for me. Congratulations if you made it all the way through this mammoth post! That means you’re probably an even bigger oboe nerd than I am!
My friend Lauren started a blog this week. In celebration of making a new blog friend (she was already my in-person friend), I’m going to steal her idea for a post: 5 resolutions I have for the upcoming school year.
5. Be more affectionate with family, friends and boyfriend. Sometimes I have a hard time calling my friends and making plans. I’d like to get over this once and for all and hang out more with people I like. It’s hard for me to remember that relationships need nurturing, and sometimes that means picking up the phone and calling someone just to say hello.
4. Continue blogging and taking pictures. I enjoy both of these activities, so this one should be a no brainer. But I struggle to choose meditative, meaningful activities over the drivel on TV. Speaking of which, I’d like to…
3. Watch less television. Really. Seriously. I resolve to break up with Bravo’s Housewives, America’s Next Top Model, non-Cowboys pro-football, and Family Guy. It’s been real, y’all, but I’ve got to get a life. And more natural sunlight.
2. Eat better food. I have been making a lot of progress towards this resolution already. I want to build on that success by eating fewer breakfast tacos, limiting alcohol to once or twice a week, and cooking meals for myself at home instead of eating fast food.
1. Move around more. Success in this department involves effort towards goals 5, 4, 3, and 2. I have never been a gym rat, but I do feel good when I spend a little time each day moving around. Taking pictures out and about, getting active with friends, spending less time with the TV, and eating healthy food are all steps towards getting more exercise.
Looking back at my blog, these are very similar to the resolutions I have had for every birthday and New Year for the past four years. Everyone’s a work in progress, I suppose, or a hamster on a wheel.
This past weekend I made a pilgrimage to Jonesboro, Arkansas, to see one of my favorite grown-ups in the world, Dr. Ross
Dr. Ross is an oboist who teaches at Arkansas State University and also makes a really cool piece of oboe equipment called a gouger. There are lots of different gouging machines in the world, but Dr. Ross is the only man who makes the Ross gouger– one of the most popular kinds and my personal favorite. I met Dr. Ross in 2003 almost immediately after he had been diagnosed with cancer. A bad kind of cancer. We thought he only had one year to live! Luckily, he proved cancer wrong, and now we get to hang out every year when I invite myself to visit him. This year, I didn’t have to invite myself to Jonesboro because my friend Jen did it for me. She has a Ross gouger and needed a little tune up, so she made plans a couple months ago to visit Dr. Ross. Of course when I heard about this, I told her I was coming, too.
We left at 7:00 AM on Friday morning, equiped with gobs of oboe gear, lots of snacks, and a full tank of gas. We were road warriors and made it to Jonesboro in just under 11 hours. On the way, we saw this:
It’s a building shaped (sort of) like the Battelstar Pegasus from the TV show, Battlestar Galactica. Who would have imagined culture like this in Italy, Texas? Best part? The building is for lease! It’s just waiting for Lee and Duala or some other interracial, intercolonial couple to make it their home sweet home. Or for Caine and Gina to move in. I don’t know how the locals would react to a lesbian cylon, but I took the Pegasus sighting as an omen for good things to come. (To be continued…it’s time for bed tonight.)
I don’t have a desk for my apartment. This really shouldn’t be a source of internal conflict. I’m not in traditional school any more, and I certainly don’t need a dedicated place to make reeds at this point. I work at a desk all day at my job. Why should I spend more time at a desk at home?
At least that’s what my rational brain believes.
My irrational brain is flipping the hell out: “Kathryn! It’s time for school to start, and you are UNPREPARED, DAMMIT! Where will you put your pencils??! What about the notebooks???! You CANNOT SUCCEED IN LIFE without notebooks and a pencil holder!!”
My irrational brain sounds like Selma Bouvier when she talks to me.
My rational brain sounds like like Counselor Deanna Troi.
I don’t know what that means.
For most of the past 24 years, I have had a desk in my home. From infancy, my parents put a desk in my room so that I could have a special place to do homework, and I remember playing school with my big sister there. When I was 13, I discovered oboe reeds and I graduated to a two-desk system so that I could compartmentalize school work and oboe work. That was great. Through high school, my oboe desk become cluttered with knives, pieces of cane, old staples, beeswax and endless spools of thread. I felt like a mad scientist when I worked at that desk, and I loved every minute of it. My school desk, meanwhile, was a good place to hold the overflow from my oboe desk. (I didn’t really do much homework in high school.) The nostalgic memories of this arrangement make Selma happy.
Counselor Troi’s response to this would be to point out that, since college I have been desk-less. And I am doing fine. I have been using a little bookshelf in my bedroom as a home base for paying bills, making reeds, and for storage. In some ways, this setup is more fun than a desk. I am more likely to put things away when I finish using them, I enjoy arranging things on the shelves, and it takes up less space than the traditional desk + chair arrangement.
Luckily I have a few weeks to come to a decision about the apartment-desk-Selma-Counselor Troy situation. If I still haven’t made a choice by mid-September, I’ll probably just start sleeping under the desk in my office at work.
I am feeling a little raw today. I feel like this:
I haven’t been sleeping well lately (I think I need a new pillow) and there are several pending issues on the horizon that leave me in need of a little comfort. Don’t worry about me, though. I’m going to be happy camper starting tomorrow because my buddy Jen and I are taking a little road trip to Jonesboro, Arkanas to see Dr. Ross. More about him later. For now, I am going to focus on animals. They make me feel better.
How can you frown when there’s a cat in a box?
Or a pup on a stump?
Or a lab on a rug?
I am watching Star Wars with my sister and brother-in-law and we are having a little poll. Here are the rules: choose your answer from any character in all six movies. My answer is correct because this is my blog.
Princess Leia or Queen Amidala?
Best male human protagonist
Andy: Anakin Skywalker from Episode I
Beth: Obiwan Kenobe
Kathryn: Luke Skywalker from Episode IV
Best non-human male protagonist(s)
Andy: Chewbaca is awesome.
unanimous: Darth Vader
runner up: Darth Maul
Luke or Han Solo?
Andy: Han Solo is awesome.
Beth: Han Solo, definitely.
Kathryn: Skywalker on the street. Solo in the sack.
Favorite Musical Moment
Andy: Fight scene in Ep. I between Darth Maul, Anakin, & Obi Wan Kenobe
Beth: Darth Vader theme
Kathryn: Alien klezmer band from Episode IV
R2D2 or C3P0?
Beth and Andy: R2D2