Sunday, January 29, 2012

And more happiness.

Just some random stuff.


I had gotten home from church today, eaten lunch, and was contemplating what I might do with my afternoon when my phone rang. I thought it might be my mother, as she sometimes calls after she and my dad get home from church.

But it wasn't. It was one of my department's former students (OUTSTANDING former student, I might note). He wanted a little advice as he's now teaching at Murray State (the one we have here, not the one in Kentucky). He's teaching botany, which is a bit outside his area of specialty. I offered the loan of a few books I'm not using (he's going to be down here next week). I'm really happy for him, and I think he'll be a good teacher.

I did kind of chuckle in a "been there, done that" sort of way when he talked about the many long hours he's putting in to teaching prep. I did reassure him that the first semester or so is by far the worst, because not only are you having to do everything from scratch, but you're also a lot less sure of yourself, and that things get better as time passes. (I wish someone had reminded me of that more regularly when I was first teaching. I made it through that first year but man it was tough.)


This week's MLP:FiM episode? I totally <3 it. A very short outline: the Apple family makes cider (it is clear from the context that it's sweet and not hard cider...of course, this is a kid's show). It's enormously popular and they always run out. So, a couple of unicorn brothers ("Flim" and "Flam" and you just KNOW what's going to happen given those names) show up with a steampunk-y machine that makes cider. And they challenge the Apples to a contest as to who can make the most (even though the Apples themselves say that they pride themselves on quality, not quantity...still, they wind up winning because the Flim-Flam brothers' cider is ultimately undrinkable. ("Mine's got rocks in it!") But what had me grinning like an idiot? When Flim opened his mouth and started to sing and I said to myself, "It's Robert Preston! In unicorn form!" Yes, they did an homage to the "Trouble in River City" song from Music Man, only about making cider, and at one point all the ponies were stamping their hooves and saying "Cider...cider...cider...cider" in the same cadence as "Trouble....trouble...trouble...trouble." (Lots of people on the various pony boards were all "Oh it's the Monorail song from The Simpsons" and I admit - though I didn't SAY anything of course - that I felt just a wee bit superior for knowing the original source). Oh, and by the way: someone has combined the two. This makes me laugh a lot:

I definitely get the feeling that this is a cartoon made by people who really LOVE cartoons and are not just in it for the money/for selling toys. There have been a number of funny other pop-cultural references, most of them a lot more subtle than this one, in the show.

There were also a lot of "background ponies" this episode, and I always enjoy seeing the "background ponies" (That is - characters that show up from time to time but usually do not speak and do not have the size of a role that the main characters do). And Derpy was there again (and at 3:52 or so in this video), but she didn't speak. (I think I like her better as a background pony). Another fan favorite, Berry Punch, shows up at about 0:51 in the video above. (She is so named because in an early episode she's seen drinking punch straight from a punchbowl...and she has, in the fan fictions, the reputation of being a lush.)

"Libertine men, and scarlet women, and RAGTIME!" Heh.

(I've heard some commentators note that we don't really have movie musicals any more like in the 40s and 50s, but that a lot of movies/shows aimed primarily at children have taken over the role that the musicals used to.)

Also, as I've said before: I honestly think life would be better (or at least more interesting) if there were random song and dance numbers now and again.

Also, at the very end, the Letter to Celestia (each of these episodes is supposed to have a life-lesson, which is how the show earns its "educational/instructional" cred)....Hah. I'm not going to give it away on the off chance that there are a few people who follow this show via iTunes or somewhere and haven't seen this episode yet, but I will say I laughed out loud at it, and it was totally something I was expecting would happen at some point, and the character who delivered it was the perfect one to.


I also started sewing together a new quilt's worth of blocks (pictures to come later this week). It's another one of those jelly-roll quilts, the pattern is called Jelly Filled. It's vaguely similar to a log cabin, though it's more of a framing effect than a stair-stepped effect. I'm using an extremely cute line of fabrics called "Love U" by Deb Strain....pastels, owls, turtles, trees, alphabets...obviously designed for babies but I still think it's cute.

I'm trying to work down the "stash" a bit by sewing stuff up...though I have to admit using up jelly rolls doesn't free up that much space.


I also did some cooking this weekend. Cornish pasties* (a type of meat pie) is a common thing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where a lot of my relatives come from, and they were something I remember eating on trips there as a kid.

My mom made them from a variety of recipes over the years, but she made one over Christmas break that was the best-ever. (For one thing: instead of browning the meat, she braised it in with the vegetables and some broth. And for another - instead of using the typical pie crust, she used a crust from a Tourtiere - a Canadian pork pie - recipe that she had (The main difference is that the Tourtiere crust has an egg in it, which makes it a bit sturdier and adds some flavor**)

I got the recipe from her (will share it here if there's any interest, I will say it's a little involved).

(*There's some discussion as to whether rutabaga or carrot is the "correct" vegetable to use in these, along with potatoes. I will say I consider rutabaga to be "correct," for three reasons: 1. I have a food intolerance to carrots and therefore could not eat pasties made with them. But I like rutabaga in the pasties, and it adds a nice flavor. 2. Every "authentic" Cornish recipe I've seen for these lists rutabaga, and not carrots. (Or "Swede," as rutabaga is sometimes known in Britain). 3. My relatives ALWAYS made pasties with rutabaga. The church they belonged to, who did pasty sales to raise money, ALWAYS used rutabaga. That said: rutabagas can be a little tough to find outside of parts of the country with a lot of Scandinavian immigrants. (But I was able to find one). They do come heavily waxed so they keep a long time, but they're also tough to cut.)

(**I consider this to be a particularly apropos substitution for my family, as my grandfather was French-Canadian and many of his "people" came from Quebec.)

I will say the dough was a challenge. I'm not as accustomed to working with short doughs (like pie crust), and also I misread the recipe (it calls for 2/3 cup plus 2 T shortening, and I somehow read the 2/3 as 3/4, so I wound up having to backpedal and add more flour). FINALLY I got it to work (I had to add more water - note to self, extremely crumbly unrollable pie dough means add more water). I made only very small pasties (These are about 1/3 the size of a normal pastie) because the dough was still kind of soft. And the filling came out a bit too liquid (I added more broth because I was afraid of it cooking dry and I should not have done that).

As it was, some of them opened back up and wound up being more like Cornish tacos than Cornish pasties, but whatever, they still tasted good. And I have a bunch leftover to eat in the coming week and some to freeze. (Pasties freeze well, and you can just pop a frozen one in a 350 degree oven until it thaws out and heats up).

(small) pasties ready to cook

Fork is for scale. I admit, my inner-12-year-old's fondness for ribald puns made me look at these and go "Pasties? Must be talking about an A cup." (But of course: pasty of the Cornish variety is pronounced with a "short" a, as in pass-tee, not with a long "a," like the burlesque girl's accessory)


L.L. said...

The production team loves cartoons and pop culture both. I had a problem with buffering, but then that gave me the opportunity to see a free-frame on the ponies' expressions. A very well crafted show.

Charlotte said...

Rutabagas are readily available here during the fall/winter. I like to whack off a chunk, peel off the waxy skin and then slice it very thin on my box grater. I then cook the slices in water until tender. Drain and add some butter, salt and pepper and I have a yummy side dish.

purlewe said...

oh I love pasties. And the UP is well known for its love of pasties. Swede should always be used IMHO. I would love to see you recipe. I generally try to make a huge batch once a winter and freeze them for quick dinners.