A Tale of Holiday Cooking

Bathroom Graffiti: How to Cook an Egg

How to cook an egg, according to bathroom graffiti at Babette in Minneapolis.

My maternal grandmother was an interesting woman. Most of her decisions fell into one of two categories: badass and downright strange. In days when many grandmothers were still of the traditional sort that baked cookies and stuff, grandma was a businesswoman, a do-it-yourselfer, and a bit on the wild side. She’s the person who taught me how to use power tools. She would take me on massive, endurance-testing road trips when I was a child, just her and me, where we’d start in Minneapolis one day and be in Sacramento two days later. I don’t think I ever saw her wear a dress, because I think she just preferred to be forever ready for anything. She could alsobake a mean batch of cookies.

She had a strange streak, though. Sometimes, she did some very odd things. I recall one family vacation where we asked grandma to watch the house and our dog; we returned home to find that the front door of our house had been painted fire-engine red, and that our dog (a collie) had been shaved. I’m sure those decisions made sense in her head somehow.

In that vein, I have an enduring holiday memory of grandma. It involves liver pâté.

As I recall, my mom and my grandma were hosting a holiday party, sometime in the early 1980s. Grandma had just gotten one of those new-fangled food processors, and she decided she’d use it to make liver pâté for the party.

Well, during the course of the pate processing, grandma managed to get a wooden spoon stuck in the works. Chunks of spoon were now part of the pâté.

There are two choices that most people would make at this juncture:

  1. Make new pâté.
  2. Remove the chunks and continue making pâté.

Grandma, being grandma, turned to option 3: grind up the spoon and serve the pâté.

I remember being a little kid at that party full of adults, and seeing mom discover that the pâté was more… fibrous than usual. I remember watching her carefully and secretly warn everyone in the room that they probably shouldn’t eat the pâté.

I have many memories of delicious holiday meals that I’ve had with my family, but I think my favorite memories are like that one. Anyone can make tasty food, but only my grandma would deliberately add a spoon to our diets.

This holiday, let us all embrace what is unique in all the people we care for. Let’s revel in the mistakes and the oddities, for none of us are perfect, and thank goodness for that. Cheers!

Photos from Lakes Harriet & Calhoun

Lake HarrietBack in October, I spent a lovely autumn afternoon walking around Lake Harriet with my friend, Jen Scott. I managed to snap some photos along the way. It was one of those perfect, crisp autumn days, perfect for wandering slowly and chatting.

After that and I started driving home, I noticed that the sun was setting rather nicely over Lake Calhoun. So I got photos of that, too.

Enjoy a few snaps as we travel into winter:

New Geek Life: The Melissa and Mike Show

Once again, Paul and Richard have been reminded that they should not let Mike and me do the show by ourselves. As the show notes and title suggest, it’s hard to say that we went off the rails, as there were probably no rails to begin with. Anyway, please enjoy the shambling oddity of Episode 174!

The Grand Unified Puppy Theory of Relationships

Wilma and Joey

Wilma and Joey have all this figured out.

Over the last few years, I’ve been mulling over the nature of human interpersonal relationships. I’ve started to see relationships between people — platonic, romantic, familial, professional, etc. — as an entity separate from the people who formed them. Oddly, I think this has become a very useful working model for understanding relationships. I call my model the Grand Unified Puppy Theory of Relationships.

It goes something like this: when you meet a person for the first time, the two of you are given a Relationship Puppy. What that Puppy does after that point depends on how the two of you treat your Puppy.

With me so far? Cool. Let’s proceed to bullet points! Continue Reading →

Fantastic Fest 2012 Denouement

Austin, TX

Austin: Keep It Weird

I had many little adventures on my way home from Fantastic Fest.

I spent the Friday after Fantastic Fest lazily, mostly just puttering around the city of Austin. I had breakfast with Wendy at Kirby Lane before taking her to the airport. I wandered around some of the wild little curio shops on South Congress, wishing I had some money left to spend on tschotchkes. I visited the Museum of the Weird (again). I toyed with the idea of seeing The Master at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz in 70mm, but instead felt the need to escape downtown before rush hour hit.

In the evening, I met Jessica Cargill, Harry Knowles, and Patricia Knowles for dinner. It was great, as it’s been a long time since I’ve hung out with Harry and Patricia without a ton of other people around vying for their time. Best of all, though, I got to hear a story about how Harry once wound up painting a Shetland pony to look like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (specifically, Donatello).

After that, Jess and I headed to the airport to pick up Mr. Cargill, who was returning from part of his press junket on Sinister. I stayed up waaay too late listening to how Hollywood press tours work, which is fascinating stuff. Also, we had tacos at 3:00 AM. I love Austin.

The next day, I nabbed Halfastick and started driving back to Minnesota. Our first goal was the Action Figure Museum in Pauls Valley, OK, but we only made it there ten minutes before they closed, thanks to a gruelling drive through a 500-mile-wide Texas rainstorm. Well, that, and the fact that I locked us out of the car at a Whataburger somewhere in northern Texas:


Stranded in Texas

This is Halfastick, wearing a Red Dawn remake shirt, which basically says anti-American stuff in Korean. Did I mention we were in northern Texas?

In related news, I am now a member of AAA.

As I said, we did eventually make it to Pauls Valley, where ZOMG YOU CAN TOTALLY BUY A COLOR TV!
You can get a color TV here!
We soldiered on through the evening and night, eventually escaping the massive rainstorm. Near Olathe, Kansas, Halfastick noticed that the moon had a massive rainbow ring around it, so we stopped in an attempt to capture it on camera. Unfortunately, I learned that one lens, my 28mm, was completely stuck on the locking mount on the camera. I couldn’t switch to a wide-angle to get a proper photo. Also, I’d yet to use this particular camera body in extremely low light, so with limited time to work, I wasn’t able to convince the camera to capture much subtlety in the photo. Still, here’s what I got. The ring is very faint, at the top of the photo:

Moon Ring

We continued to drive through the night, arriving at the Minnesota border just before dawn. I won’t lie. I stopped and bought the Cabbage Dog that we saw on our outgoing trip:

Cabbage Dog has come home with me. Now... where do I put it?

By the time we hit the rural area around Halfastick’s hometown, the sun rose and we saw that autumn attacked the state while we were out-of-town. I can’t describe how gorgeous that morning was. I only have a couple of iPhone photos, which don’t do it justice. It was good to be home.

I'll miss you, Texas, but this is what my beloved Minnesota looks like today. #winning

I love fall in Minnesota.