Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Vegetable Stock

Man, guys, how long has it been since I did a cooking post? Wow, January!

Oh, yeah, that was before the semester started and I had classes. Well, now classes are over and I get to cook again!

So, because I *haven't* been cooking, I have a lot of vegetables in my fridge that are a little past their prime... but I feel guilty tossing them out. So, while they still are in pretty good shape, I made vegetable stock.

Start by chopping up everything - scraps, ends and all - and tossing into the pot. See those bright red slices? Beets. How did I ever think I was going to eat beets when I don't have time to cook? Silly me...

Add water to cover the vegetables. Or fill the pot. Hopefully one comes before the other.

Simmer, simmer away! I added some herbs and spices, whatever felt good to me. Let that baby cook in all those fantastic juices, while the whole room smells delicious. If it doesn't smell delicious, you either a) used vegetables that were so far gone as to be MOLDY, or b) your gut feeling for spices needs some help.

But we carry on.

I have a strainer to separate the broth from the veggies, ice cube trays for freezing some of the broth, and not shown are baggies to store the rest. I like to freeze stock, because goodness knows it would spoil in the fridge if I kept it there. I don't, unlike the store varieties, have preservative #1304 on hand to mix in for that extra kick.

Strain out the vegetables. If the vegetables had been fresh, I'd eat them. But they were not. So I don't.

Do you know why that stock looks pink? Beets! Do you also know why my white cutting board looks like somebody died on it? Beets!

Proper storage - two ice cube trays, a bowl with a 1C. amount and a bowl with a 2C. amount. This is to make it easy when making soups. Unless I need a soup with 1.5C. At that point, I think I add 2C. and expect leftovers. Because life's too short to hack away at a frozen chunk of vegetable stock.

So what do I do with ice cubes? These are for thinning out of things. If I make a soup or sauce too thick, I can add a small amount of broth. More flavorful than adding water. Also good for adding to the water when making rice, for flavor.

Also, makes pink rice. :) Beets!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Desktop Wallpaper Design

I like beautifully designed things. I like my room to be well-designed. I enjoy graphic design. I can appreciate the design of logos.

I also like my computer background to be well designed. Given a choice, I'd like to look at something beautiful every day, and since I spend the majority of my time on the computer, you bet I care what the background is. And I just wanted to share with you the absolute best place I have found for desktop wallpapers.

If you just do a Google Image search for backgrounds, you get a bunch of ridiculous stuff. None of it beautiful. None of it inspiring. Just a vast, VAST quantity that you have to pick through. And if you want FREE wallpaper, forget ever finding a gem. I don't have time for that.

But. BUT. Enter Smashing Magazine.

Smashing Magazine is a blog dedicated to design, particularly on the web. I read it regularly through my Google RSS feed. And every month they invite designers to submit wallpapers. There is a review process, so that you get good quality in the final roundup. Designers get to be featured, and everybody wins.

Check HERE.

I love that it's a monthly feature - because every month is just about the point I get tired of looking at the same thing and want something new. And I love that it has a calendar if you want it - I like having the month at a glance (if only so I can keep track of how fast the days fly by...). And I love that there are such a wide variety of styles. I try to pick a different style, or different mood, each month.

Given that I was so busy in May, I haven't gotten around to changing my wallpaper since April. Ack! As part of my summer "pampering," I'm digging the cute, playful style of this one:


Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer is Here!

Whew, deep breath!


I am so glad to be finished with the semester. The last month of school was really busy, and a bit stressful. I feel like I kept on top of everything I was SUPPOSED to do, and all the PROJECTS I was working on, but I had no time for all the little things to pamper myself. And I don't need a lot of pampering, but a month or so without the little stress relievers adds up.

So now, dear readers, I have:

- cleaned my kitchen
- backed up my hard drive
- changed my computer wallpaper
- painted my toenails
- reorganized my closet with summer clothes
- uploaded pictures from my camera
- bought new plants to replace last year's annuals
- exercised for a solid hour
- watched an NBA game
- spent a day outside in the sun
- ate an entire bar of Dove chocolate

And I am back among the living. And the blogging.

I can't wait to share what's been going on in life more regularly. I've been doing some cool stuff, and more cool stuff is coming up. This summer is going to be awesome! Let it begin -

Monday, May 3, 2010

Head of State

Author's Note: I promise, this will be my last post on Iceland. I know it's been over a month ago - I'm just slow getting to posts I plan to write...

One of the reasons that the entrepreneurship conference was held in Iceland is that Iceland heavily subsidized the costs. Why was Iceland so interested in getting our conference to come there? It turns out that actually, Iceland went bankrupt in 2008. The economy was built on banking, and all three of the country's major banks collapsed.

To rebuild the economy, the Icelandic people and government have decided to rely on innovation - entrepreneurship from the grassroots up. Sustainable, robust growth comes from adding value, and great minds with great ideas are the ingredients you need.

So hosting this conference was part of this plan to restructure and rise up from the crisis. Toward this end, the President of Iceland invited the organizers of the conference to a reception with him at his official residence.

I got to meet the President of Iceland at his HOUSE. I was honored.

We drove up, and there was no security - no guards, or fences, or show of military force. The Icelandic people in general I found were very eager to be open and friendly (especially to tourists, I imagine - given that they are bankrupt!). The house looked like this:

It was situated on a beautiful landscape - snow capped mountains, a river, grassy plains, and lava fields. We were led through the reception area, the Presidential office, and to a waiting room with pictures of officials and important events. Then the door opened on the far end of the room, and we each greeted the President with a handshake.

He was very gracious, and said "Welcome, Miss Outlier." I was tongue tied and said something unintellgible in response. I happened to be standing closest to the door, so I was the first one to shake his hand, so I hadn't gotten my wits straight. I meant to say "Thank you" or "Pleased to meet you, Mr. President" but I got all twisted and I'm afraid what came out was something like "Thank welcome, Mr. President Sir."

In case you wondered, Miss Outlier has never met a head of state before.

Figure: Miss Outlier is on the left, the only person over 30 is President Grimsson

I will be more prepared next time. Hopefully I will meet more important people in my lifetime so I can practice this receiving line business...

End Notes:

This is a picture taken while we were sightseeing on the Snaefellsnes peninsula. The scenic road goes around the glacier where the Snaefellsjokull volcano is. That volcano is not the erupting one - it's the famous one that Jules Verne chose as his doorway into inner earth in the book Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Figure: Yes, it was windy.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I don't usually go to lab on Saturdays. Most of my labmates operate the same way - it's rare to come in on a weekend. In fact, the only students I know who DO come in regularly at off-peak research times are those who have living things to take care of - cells that would die without feeding, or rats to look after.

Last week I needed to do some measurements on some parts. I made the parts on a Thursday, and was going to measure them Friday. But the undergrad working in my lab wanted to learn how to take measurements - which is an admirable thing, shows initiative, all that good stuff. And the undergrad didn't have time on Friday. I was just going to say "oh well" because Monday was too late for the data I needed, but the undergrad suggested over the weekend. I am too used to scheduling with business students - I forgot that undergrads are still willing to sacrifice their weekends....

So last Saturday at 10am, I walked over to my office to check email before the undergrad came at 10:30 to work in lab with me.

And it was an absolute beehive of activity!

I thought, why in the world are all these people here? And then I took a closer look around the cubicles, and noticed that all the people there were people graduating soon - and since half of my office is graduating, there were lots of bodies at desks working on thesis writing.

Ah well, I thought, mystery solved. I am sure normal schedules will resume after the thesis deadline passes.

But now again, here I am in lab on a Saturday.

My labmate who runs the robot needs a long run of parts for data for her Master's thesis, due this May. We tried to do it on Thursday, but were foiled by a few issues we didn't forsee. We could have done the long run starting Friday at 4pm, but by about 3:30 yesterday my brain was tired and I hated the thought of spending three hours on a long run when I wasn't fresh. Mistakes happen when you are tired, you know.

So we agreed to do a long run the next day (today, Satuday) at 1pm.

This morning at 10am, I get a call on my cell phone that wakes me up. I don't recognize the number, so I don't answer. Ten minutes later, there's a knock at my door. I stumbled over in my bathrobe, and found that it was the undergrad who works in my lab, and she wanted my key to lab so she could work on her undergrad project. I handed it over and went back to bed.

At 11am my phone rings again, and my undergrad says she left the key with her classmate, who would be around all day except 12-1 for lunch, and gave me his cell number.

Okay, people, fine, I'm up.

At 12:30 I head to lab, expecting to have to track down the classmate with my key.

But as I was walking down the hallway, I spied an officemate just opening the door. Hold it open, I cried! Well wasn't that lucky, I thought, getting here at the same time as the only other person who's around.

But inside the office, I find AGAIN lots of people at their desks. And when I walk down to lab, there is my undergrad working busily away with her classmate (from whom I retrieve my key). And then my robot-running labmate shows up, and we begin experiments.

And then I run to the bathroom, and pass two or three more students I know in the hallways. And as we've been sitting here running experiments for the last couple hours, the lab space across the room has filled up with students working on THIER projects.

What gives? Why so many people here all of a sudden? Don't you all know it's SATURDAY?

It's particularly cruel today, because it's beautifully balmy and sunny outside - gorgeous weather.

So maybe it's just me? Maybe there have been people just conducting life as usual around campus every weekend, and I just assume that my lazy days are the norm? Ack! Say it isn't so!

I'm going to convince myself it's only because it's the end of the semester - between finishing theses, finishing class projects, preparing for conference trips, and wrapping up the semester's experiments, it's no wonder people need a few more hours outside the normal work week.

Right? Right.