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Thanks-taking Wines November 29, 2008

Posted by thepixelsuite in Culinary.
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Tonight is the annual Thankstaking feast with our close friends and their familes. This year we’re veering away from the traditional Thanksgiving foods and are engaging in a veritable crab feast. So, this morning Trish and I headed out to K&L Wine Merchants to pick up some good wines which would pair well with those hard-shelled crustaceans. Here’s what the good folks at K&L guided us to. Please use comments if you have any experience with these wines or wish to add tasting notes.

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We’ve chosen:

2005 Concha y Toro Syrah

2007 Valdelainos Verdejo Rueda Spain

2006 Rustenberg Chardonnay Stellenbosch South Africa

2006 Ataraxia Sauvignon Blanc Western Cape

2007 Carballal “Sete Cepas” Albarino Rias Baixas, Spain

2007 Seresin Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand

2007 Bodega Noemia de Patagonia “A Lisa” Malbec Rio Negro Valley, Argentina

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Not A Total Disaster November 28, 2008

Posted by thepixelsuite in Culinary.
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As you can see in the picture below, the pie crust for the Thanksgiving pie wasn’t a total disaster.

I've seen worse.

Instead of making the dough completely by hand, I was going to take up a suggestion from qbubbles to use frozen dough I would just have to roll out and place into my pie pan. That is, until I was turned on to Betty Crocker Pie Dough Mix which only requires water and a bit of elbow grease to make a tasty crust. After all, I still wanted to perfect rolling my own, since that’s part of the scratch process. I also had it on unimpeachable authority that a well-known baking expert and cookbook author claims this particular brand makes the best-tasting crust next to making one from scratch. So after mixing and letting the dough rest, I commenced to rolling, and that’s where things start to fall apart, literally. Despite my best efforts at turning, flipping, and flouring, my dough didn’t end up with a nice, crisp edge which would make for beautiful crimping. Instead the edge of my dough looked more like a fractal.

Despite my crust concerns the proof, they say, is in the pudding, or in this case the filling. And everyone agreed my pumpkin pie hit the spot after a big Thanksgiving dinner. Next time, though, I’m going to check out the ready-to-roll dough.

The final result.

The final result.

Comment on how did your holiday fare fared.

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Pie Dough November 26, 2008

Posted by thepixelsuite in Culinary.
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The Holy Grail.

The Holy Grail.

photo credit Marjorie Poore Productions

Boy, do I love pumpkin pie. So much so I always volunteer to make one or two pies for the Thanksgiving meal. I’ve toyed with the idea of actually cooking down my own pumpkin, but I’ve been told the stuff in the can is far superior than anything I could come up with. I’ve also found the recipe on the can is pretty darn good and uses much the same ingredients as the one found in the Joy of Cooking. However, when it comes to the pie crust, I can’t bring myself to pour all of that pumpkin goodness into a frozen pie shell. (Plus I don’t like the feeling of knife on foil during those first few cuts of the finished pie.) So, every year I try to make my own pie dough, and every year it goes horribly wrong. Mixing the ingredients together usually goes well and is hard to mess up. But when it comes to rolling out the dough-disaster looms and I spend a lot of time patching my dough.

This year, however, I may try to follow closely the advice one of the country’s top chefs. Recently I put together a Basic Flaky Pastry Dough segment for Cuisinart featuring Hubert Keller. Click here to view the recipe he uses and watch the video. I’ll give his method a shot, and, hopefully, won’t spend a lot of time putting together a pie dough which resembles a patchwork quilt.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Pencils Down! November 25, 2008

Posted by thepixelsuite in Politics.
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Hey, at least it's not the California Bar Exam.

Hey, at least it's not the California Bar Exam.

flickr photo by purplepick

Think you know your New Deal from your Great Society? With a big national holiday looming, here’s a great way to test your civic literacy. Visit the ISI American Civic Literacy web site and take their quiz.

And no looking up stuff on Wikipedia!

Let us know how you did.

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They Won’t Sell One Before It’s Time November 25, 2008

Posted by thepixelsuite in Culinary.
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Wouldn't they look nice under the Christmas Tree?

Wouldn't they look nice under the Christmas Tree?

flickr photo by Brian Auer

Just in time for the holidays.

Pardon the sales pitch, but one of my dear friends, Rob, just e-mailed me to let me know about an exciting deal he and his business group have put together with the good people of Williams-Sonoma. If you’ve ever wanted to discover great wines you may never have heard of or simply had questions about pairing wine with food, you may be ready for the Williams-Sonoma Wine Club.

Join us for a unique experience in the enjoyment of wine and food. Our wine experts will introduce you to hand-selected wines from boutique wineries around the world. Working with our advisory board of chefs and sommeliers, we’ve paired each wine with a Williams-Sonoma recipe to create a remarkable harmony of flavors. We take the guesswork out of selecting the right wine and guarantee your complete satisfaction.

I’ve had numerous opportunities to experience some of the wines Rob has brought back for those “boutique wineries around the world”, and they’ve all been delightful. So, check it out, and, if you like what you see, spread the word.

Let me what your favorite holiday wine is.

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Trading Spaces November 24, 2008

Posted by thepixelsuite in Uncategorized.
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Functional but not inspirational.

Functional but not inspirational.

Just got turned on to this cool little site via a tweet from Photojojo. Where We Do What We Do allows users to upload an image of their workspace, whether it be in a high end office or someone’s bedroom. The homepage presents a grid of clickable thumbnails which take you to an individual’s page. Each page includes some biographical information, tags, additional photos, and comments. There’s also a search function allowing you search for workspaces which match criteria like “advertising”, “multimedia”, “kitchen”, or “Barcelona”, for example.

It’s fun to poke around, get inspiration, and see how other people around the world interact with their work environments.

Comments or information about your workspace?

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Matter Over Mind November 24, 2008

Posted by thepixelsuite in Running.
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Wait, I'm not out of bed yet.

Wait, I'm not out of bed yet.

flickr photo by tkellyphoto

The training guide I followed for my first marathon penciled me in for fourteen miles yesterday. Grudgingly, I steeled myself to complete that distance the night before, but when I woke up Sunday…well, let’s just say the sun was way up in the sky before I rolled out of bed. There wasn’t going to be any running for me that morning.

And besides, one shouldn’t really go from slowly jogging two or three miles two weeks ago to hoofing fourteen miles through Golden Gate Park. Or at least you shouldn’t unless you want to get injured again. So, Sunday evening I laced up for a nice 6 mile jaunt. Of course, as I trucked along I realized I’ve been focusing so much on physical recovery I’ve totally neglected the mental side of running. I haven’t been visualizing finishing long runs, and, when I get up close to 5 or 6 miles, my mind wants to shut things down and get ready for tomorrow’s run. With that small epiphany, and since I felt pretty good after several miles, I decided to add a four mile loop which would keep me close to home in case I needed to stop and take it easy. This compromise with myself paid off. I was able to keep my mind focused on finishing the distance while listening to any complaints from my body. And today (a recovery day), I’m pain free.

It’s a good thing, too, since I checked which wait list number the Houston Marathon is serving, and in a week it has jumped from around 900 to 2651. I’m sitting in the 2900 range, so I’d better train up quickly yet smartly. I will, however, probably have to give up the idea of running Houston in cowboy boots.

Comments welcomed.

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Rooftop Laundry November 23, 2008

Posted by thepixelsuite in Photos.
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Rooftop Laundry

Rooftop Laundry

We spent most of today traveling around the city engaged in a Flat Stanley-style project taking pictures of a paper cutout version of our niece visiting various landmarks. Now we have shots of “Paper Molly” visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, the Painted Ladies in Hayes Valley, Chinatown, and City Lights Bookstore in North Beach. We took a few moments to poke around the bookstore and ended up in the second floor Poetry Room. A window in that room looks out over some rooftops in Chinatown, and it was there I came across the above tableau. I was struck by the sight of a single black shirt hanging there amid a garbage-strewn rooftop. Somebody had obviously gone to a lot of trouble to hang that shirt out there to dry, and now it looks forlorn and forgotten surrounded by a bustling city.

The pants look lonely, too.

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